Study up on ADHD.
Acknowledge the impact your behavior has on your partner.
Separate who your partner is from their symptoms or behaviors.
Different. The brain is often racing, and people with ADHD experience the world in a way that others don’t easily understand or relate to.
Overwhelmed, secretly or overtly, by the constant stress caused by ADHD symptoms. Keeping daily life under control takes much more work than others realize. Even if it’s not always apparent, ADHD can make someone feel like they’re struggling to keep their head above water.
ubordinate to their spouses. Their partners spend a good deal of time correcting them or running the show. The corrections make them feel incompetent, and often contribute to a parent-child dynamic. Men can describe these interactions as making them feel emasculated.
Shamed. They often hide a large amount of shame, sometimes compensating with bluster or retreat.
Unloved and unwanted. Constant reminders from spouses, bosses, and others that they should “change,” reinforce that they are unloved as they are.
Afraid to fail again. As their relationships worsen, the potential of punishment for failure increases. But their inconsistencies resulting from ADHD mean that this partner will fail at some point. Anticipating failure results in reluctance to try.
Longing to be accepted. One of the strongest emotional desires of those with ADHD is to be loved as they are, in spite of imperfections.
How the non-ADHD partner often feels:
Unwanted or unloved. The lack of attention is interpreted as lack of interest rather than distraction. One of the most common dreams is to be “cherished,” and to receive the attention from one’s spouse that this implies.
Angry and emotionally blocked. Anger and resentment permeate many interactions with the ADHD spouse. Sometimes this anger is expressed as disconnection. In an effort to control angry interactions, some non-ADHD spouses try to block their feelings by bottling them up inside.
Incredibly stressed out. Non-ADHD spouses often carry the vast proportion of the family responsibilities and can never let their guard down. Life could fall apart at any time because of the ADHD spouse’s inconsistency.
Ignored and offended. To a non-ADHD spouse, it doesn’t make sense that the ADHD spouse doesn’t act on the non-ADHD partner’s experience and advice more often when it’s “clear” what needs to be done.
Exhausted and depleted. The non-ADHD spouse carries too many responsibilities and no amount of effort seems to fix the relationship.
Frustrated. A non-ADHD spouse might feel as if the same issues keep coming back over and over again (a sort of boomerang effect).