Ask the Experts

Cope With an ADHD Diagnosis… Together

Four practical tips for working with your spouse to understand an ADD diagnosis.

Declare a truce.

After you have the diagnosis and have done some reading about ADD, take a deep breath and wave the white flag. You both need some breathing space to begin to get your relationship on a new footing. You may need to ventilate a lot of stored-up bad feeling. Do that, so you won’t lug it with you everywhere.

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(From Driven to Distraction, by Edward Hallowell, M.D. and John Ratey, M.D.)

Keep a sense of humor!

If you let it, ADD can be really funny at times. Don’t miss out on the chance to laugh when the laugh is there. At that psychological branch point we all know so well, when the split-second options are to get mad, cry, or laugh, go for the laughter. Humor is a key to a happy life with ADD.

(From Driven to Distraction, by Hallowell and Ratey)

[Free Resource: Manage ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationship]

Don’t argue in the bedroom.

In Scott and Diane’s home, their bedroom is a sacred place.

The bedroom is off-limits to fights, frustration, aggravation, and anger. If they’re arguing or they’re frustrated about something, they talk about it somewhere else. They don’t go back into their bedroom until all negative feelings and issues have been dealt with, or until they have come to an agreement with each other to table those conflicts until later. That way they can come back together physically, emotionally, and spiritually and feel connected again. They take a break from the conflict, knowing they can always resolve it in the next day or two.

Their bedroom is also completely off-limits to their children, unless the children have specifically been invited in to watch a movie or just to talk. They bedroom is Mom and Dad’s special place. If a child wants to come in, they have to knock first and wait at the door until given entrance by Mom or Dad.

(From ADD & Romance, by Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, M.S.)

Understand your anger.

The problem with ADD-induced anger in relationships, whether expressed or hidden, is that the ADDer isn’t really angry at the spouse or friend. In the heat of the moment it may seem that way, but the ADDer is really angry at it – at the ADD. Their spouse or friend feels helpless and can respond in anger at being unfairly blamed.

(From Adult ADD, by Whiteman and Novotni)

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