Managing the extra work of being the non-ADHD partner

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    • #196958

      My wife has ADHD, we have been together nearly 10 years, we have a 3 year old son who is autistic and I have autism myself. We’re very happy in general, but I’m finding that I am near the end of my rope. Because of my wife’s ADHD I am inevitably in charge of either doing things myself, or making sure that she does them. I’ve searched for advice and it always seems to boil down to her needing to be on medication and me needing to learn to accept her ADHD. For medical reasons I can’t get into here she cannot be placed on medication, and I have no issues accepting her ADHD, I simply can’t handle the workload anymore. Not to mention her spontaneous nature continually triggers my need for routine and consistency, making it all the more difficult to manage the house and our son. I don’t know what to do.

    • #197006

      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!

    • #197051
      Penny Williams

      Think about structure and routine you can put into place to help her get things done and take you out of the equation. There are so many apps and reminders on our phones now. And making routines creates habits that eliminate the need to remember.

      Getting Things Done Just Got Easier

      41 Time Hacks Used by ADHD Ninjas (aka Our Favorite Experts)

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

    • #198026

      Hey Quizz,
      I’m sorry I don’t any advice, but I had to comment because this sounds so similar to my wife. She doesn’t realize all the things I do behind the scenes because she is focused on some game on her phone and I need to manage the house. I don’t think she is able to empathize my feelings. I have been doing our laundry for 15 yrs and now our 3 kids too. She has done the laundry from start to finish( folded and lit away) less than 20 times in 10 yrs. Bur she will get upset if she does the laundry and I don’t make a big deal about it even though I’ve been doing it myself for years. She doesn’t seem to see the hypocrisy that I atleast feel.

      I’m not saying this to come off in a positive light. I’m just frustrated and your story resonated. My wife has improved and grown a lot in the last year. Medication for her has been tricky, but positive. I realize ADHD is real, but as a spouse it can be frustrating for the most patient of people.

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