Reply To: Managing the extra work of being the non-ADHD partner

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What you describe sounds like a reversal of the traditional gender roles in neurotypical society that so many wives complain about. 🙂 My OCD husband and I (the ADHD wife) have a bit of that, but so far we mostly both find it manageable and may even average an even split.

Choosing to treat my condition with behavioral techniques and check-ins with a therapist, I can attest to the value of externalized structures like checklists, calendars, alarms, and sticky notes. But you will likely need some external help as well – perhaps an ADHD coach for your wife, who can also talk to you to make a plan. Or maybe a couples therapist used to working with the neurodiverse, to help you both and make sure neither of your buttons are pushed too much by accident. (We ADHDers are infamously hypersensitive to anything smelling of rejection, and my first adult relationship was with an autist who got extremely anxious whenever he sensed someone might be angry.)

You will both need to invoke the mutual understanding as neurodiverse people that probably got you together in the first place. “Accept your ADHD? Fine, as long as you accept my ASD and we find out how to assign to each of us what we’re best at and get help for what we both stink at.” For my OCD husband and myself, the latter is cleaning (he’s pure obsessive type), which we get help with when not under covid lockdown. We also both see the same therapist for maintenance, as we cannot do all the emotional labor for one another.

And have either of you seen Atypical? The characters of Sam and Paige reminded me a lot of me and my ex-boyfriend, except in teenage form. (And Paige is much more hyper than I am, never officially described as ADHD as far as I watched in the series but she is highly emotionally dysregulated and annoyingly curious and a bit of a misfit, so it’s very likely.) Yet despite their youth and their clashes, they work things out pretty well. Maybe the two of you can get some laughs.

Good luck!