Collaborating with My ADHD Spouse

Q:

"What is the best way to get my wife, who has ADD, to be more open to accepting my help? Our home life is in chaos, and I don't know what to do."

Melissa Orlov, a frequent ADDitude contributor with Dr. Ned Hallowell, writes about ADHD and marriage and offers relationship advice to adults with ADD.
A:

Getting your wife involved in exploring these issues is tricky, because she may interpret offers of “help” as indications that she is somehow inadequate. If you are miserable, you may also be communicating anger or frustration when you talk with her.

Consider saying this: "I love you very much, but I am having trouble with some of the things that are happening in our relationship. I am really bothered by (X,Y, and Z) because I feel like you aren't willing to address my needs. I would like to find some middle ground." Then, identify a few specific problems, like messy piles around the house or inability to get to events together on time.

Together, make a plan to address them, taking her input to heart. Examine your own role in your plan, and make sure that this plan doesn't turn into a "to-do" list for your wife. Attack only the problems, not the person. If you hear yourself saying, "You never (fill in the blank)" or "You always…," stop right there and circle back.

Melissa is co-author of a blog on ADHD and marriage at adhdmarriage.com, and coauthored Married to Distraction with Dr. Ned Hallowell and his wife, Sue. She is also the author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

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