Reply To: Two people with ADHD in relationship

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I understand where you are coming from. My husband and I both have ADHD. I’m diagnosed and treated, he isn’t. When we first got together, it was pretty obvious he had it, but he’d arranged his life in such a way that his symptoms weren’t holding him back from anything he really wanted in life. I thought I was the organized one, and he needed to get his act together.

Well, after we became parents, the wheels came off. I was coping pretty well as a single person because I could play to my strengths. Being a mom meant the most important parts of my life were slap in my weaknesses. It became obvious I needed help.

So for me, getting diagnosed gave me a lot of humility and empathy for him. I started seeing how a lot of the problems I blamed on him were really us (or sometimes just me). I see you’ve had some of that experience too.

Here’s the thing. You and I, we didn’t get treated to benefit our partners. We did it to benefit ourselves. The improvement in the relationship is a bonus.

It’s not fair and not right for somebody else to tell me what to do with my body, what medical treatment I am “supposed” to take, or not take. If my Adderall were making our relationship worse in some way, my husband would have the right to tell me about the changes he saw. He’d have the right to ask me about talking to my doctor, maybe trying something different.

But if he tried to tell me to stop taking it, because he wanted me to? No way. No freaking way. Not his place. Ever. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

And I think your situation is the same. You talked to her about how your meds helped you. (Which is no guarantee, by the way, that meds would help her. Some people don’t get any benefit anyway.) You talked to her about the unhealthy dynamics that drive your arguments, and how you see them differently now.

Excellent for all that. Well done. Totally fair and appropriate.

If she was unhappy with the way her ADHD symptoms were affecting her, it would be perfectly fine and appropriate to encourage her to seek treatment. But you can’t ask her to undergo medical treatment to make YOUR life easier.

There is no such thing as “fair” when it comes to somebody else’s body. She is the 100% boss of her own body.

Now, you can set limits on the way she behaves toward you. You can decide that the relationship dynamics aren’t working for you. You can ask her to go to counseling with you, or work on the relationship in other ways. But you have to start on a foundation of respect for her needs and her independence. It’s the only way for you two to wind up in a good place together.

Best wishes, and I hope things work out great for both of you!