End the Coaching, Mend the Marriage


We have fallen into a bad pattern: I find myself coaching my husband to do chores. It takes all the romance out of our marriage, and we have become resentful of each other. Help!

To mend your marriage, stop the nagging and 'coaching' of your ADHD spouse.

Marital “coaching” typically follows when a partner with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) does things—or doesn’t do things—that drive a non-ADD partner crazy. This pattern implies that you know more than, or are better than, your husband, which causes mutual resentment and threatens the relationship.

The first step is to assess each other’s emotional state, and to develop a plan. If you find yourself coaching him to do chores that he has forgotten to do, have a conversation. Say that you feel he doesn’t care about you when he fails to do them. He might respond that he does care, but has trouble keeping track of details.

He might also say that he feels “put down” when you coach him—and that he resists your suggestions because they make him feel bad. You have two goals—getting the chores done and dealing with the bad feelings the coaching causes.

Develop a reliable reminder system to help your husband remember, using notes, assigning special times of day for chores, or doing some tasks together. This takes the drudgery out of chores, and you get time to talk with each other.

And don’t coach him any more—this isn’t your job. To supplement these strategies, consider hiring a cleaning service, or ask your kids to help out. Express your love for each other and find opportunities to compliment him for his many good qualities.

As for reinstituting romance, schedule weekly one-on-one time and show your love every day—with flowers, a note, a kiss on the cheek, a back rub, or some extended cuddling several times a week.

This article comes from the Summer 2008 issue of ADDitude.

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Melissa Orlov is a marriage consultant, specializing in helping ADHD-affected couples rebalance their relationships. She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College and the author of the award-winning books: The ADHD Effect on Marriage and The Couple's Guide to Thriving with ADHD. She blogs for adhdmarriage.com and Psychology Today and has been interviewed by The New York Times, CNN, Today, US News and World Report, and CBS, among many others.

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