Ending the cycle

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    • #134642

      First time posting here, but my name is Jordan and I’ve been married to my wife for almost 10 years. She has been diagnosed with ADD since the second grade. I knew this going into the relationship but at the beginning it was fun and exciting. Always something new. After 10 years of marriage and 4 kids together, I feel as though my life is an endless cycle of appeasement and walking on egg shells. If I have an issue not even ADD related the diagnosis gets the blame and there is no attempt to amend or reconcile. I’m forced to either swallow my pride and forgive her for it or divorce her. And EVERYTIME I’ve “stood my ground” on an issue. I get told to take it or leave it. I’ve tried counseling and we go for two or three visits and then she gets frustrated with it and stops going. I’m a Christian and divorce isn’t exactly an option for me and we have four kids. Is there anything I can do that will help mitigate fights yet let her know I have issues too?

    • #134692

      Hi Jordan, I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles. I also have a spouse with ADHD and it can often feel like problems are repetitive and that I’m walking on eggshells.

      I’ve only been in my relationship for 6 years. I’d say that the thing that has kept it going is my DH being open to change. He is not always open to talk and I have to catch him on a good day, but he does want to make an active change.

      When you go to the counselling do you manage to say all you have to say and how it is making you feel? I would say in my case I have to emphasise so much of how it is making me feel, including if I feel like I need to walk away. I would hope your wife can understand the seriousness of that message. But I also make sure when communicating to let them know I love them and how painful this is for me and that I want a resolution for the both of us, i.e. I always try to frame things in very clear and open mutually benefitial ways so that they don’t feel under attack and close up to potential solutions as a result.

      Also I would hope your counsellor has specialism in ADHD? We went through a couple of counsellors and they were straight up terrible as they couldn’t really understand the complexities that come with a relationship that contains ADHD. When we found a specialist, they were able to point out what is typical in an ADHD relationship and what may be more a unique situation. More importantly, they were then able to hold my partner accountable for where ADHD simply cannot be used as an excuse. In most cases it was not an excuse – after all, everyone needs to work with it, no matter how hard. Certain concessions or ways of working need to be made for sure from us as spouses, but there is a way to work with so many aspects of ADHD that it often cannot be an excuse. It may be that it’s the approach that needs to change. I think it was Orlov who said “Don’t try harder, try differently”.

      I would ask for explanations for how whatever issue relates back to ADHD and to say this in a calm tone. Maybe it’s more about approach or not knowing a solution that causes her to blame it on the ADHD. And then maybe the counsellor can help make an assessment of what to do in these situations. It has been so much the same in my relationship – the ADHD gets blamed. But when we talk (thankfully my DH is open to talking), it turns out he is confused about something, it doesn’t compute or he just doesn’t know how to not do something. We then come up with solutions or take it to the counsellor. Some of them seem so unconventional, but with consistent use of them we have found solutions.

      Correct medication and good sleep also so necessary to anything working.

      I hope some of that might help. Happy to chat more.

    • #134803
      Penny Williams

      Relationships are different with ADHD in the mix. These articles offer insights and strategies specific to marriage where a spouse has ADHD:

      Married with ADHD: How Real Couples Make It Work

      11 Rules for Fighting Right and Forgiving Faster

      Also, I hear the book by Melissa Orlov is very helpful as well.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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