An Open Letter to My Husband

I have ADHD. You don’t. We don’t always speak the same language, which is no one’s fault — but it’s a stumbling block for our relationship nonetheless. Here are 27 heartfelt requests that I can’t always articulate but wish I could.

ADHD woman giving a card with a heart
ADHD woman giving a card with a heart

1. Please don’t criticize or judge me. I know it can be hard to know how to love someone with ADHD, but I’m doing the best I can — I try really hard to make you happy, and to make things run smoothly in our home.

2. Please know that when I’m acting strong and mighty, I’m probably full of doubt.

3. Please know that lectures don’t work.

4. Please stay grounded when I act impulsively.

5. I need space to thrive. Please give me room to grow, like a patch of daisies in the garden. I will bloom but it might take a while.

6. Please don’t label me or roll your eyes. Just give me a hug and tell me I can do it.

7. Don’t forget to remember all the things you love about me — especially when they aren’t obvious.

[Think You Have ADHD: Take This Symptoms Test for Women and Girls]

8. Know that my procrastination is a survival strategy. I can’t prepare, plan, or make lists in advance without feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Last-minute preparation brings clarity and focus.

9. My compassion for you and our family comes from my ADHD brain wiring. My heart feels your every breath, heartbeat, need, and desire. And I have ADHD to thank, in part, for that.

10. I can read minds, so be careful what you think. Your silent thoughts come through loud and clear.

11. I cannot return from distraction the way you do. Phone call. Go back to work. Email. Go back to work. Coffee break. Resume again. I wish I could, but my response time is slower than yours. Just like a physical reflex, this is my brain’s reflex.

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12. I am totally jealous of your “0” email inbox. Mine is overflowing at 12,000 — and that’s just in one of three accounts. Does iCloud ever run out of room? If its engineers had ADHD, it would be infinite.

13. I will always fill your life with surprises and excitement (the good kind).

14. If I seem uninterested, distracted, or rude, it’s probably because my mind is hyperfocused on something else. If I’m deeply involved in a project, I cannot think or speak of anything else. I’m in so deep that I can’t even think about saying, I’m busy now, can I call you later? Please know that I don’t intend to be apathetic or standoffish.

15. For all my volume and commentary, there are times I can’t communicate exactly how I feel. There’s so much action going on, it takes me awhile to sift and organize through my thoughts.

16. I am tough and resilient, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need your love and your support. I’m strong when stretched to my limits. But even rubber bands break when the pressure is too great and too frequent.

17. I have heightened senses. I feel an exaggerated version of every scratchy fabric, wrinkle in the sheets, and bunched-up sock. Sometimes a hug feels great; other times it feels like I’m suffocating.

18. I am sometimes too sarcastic. That is my way of lightening up the darkness in my mind. Please forgive me.

19. I’m trying really hard. What is easy for you is a major effort for me. The simplest tasks that you breeze through cause my mind to swirl like a tornado. You exercise, walk the dog, prepare your lunch, go to work, visit the dentist, call the landscaper, deal with family problems, and support your co-workers. Meanwhile, I sit home and write. I get so focused that I forget to pick up the prescriptions. I don’t get around to sending those Thank You cards. The dog reminds me when he needs to go out.

20. Sometimes when you think I’m talking to you, I am actually verbally processing what’s going on in my mind so that I can work through a problem.

21. My “I want” drive is too strong. It steers my choices and messes with my priorities. When I’m struck by a thought, vision, idea, or word, I must get it out and let it flow and grow.

22. I know you love me. And I love me, too. I like the way I am.

23. I try to get the most out of every minute. That’s why I’m always trying to fit in just one more thing.

24. Wake up, Bolt out the door for a run. Shower. Make breakfast. Walk the dog. Get to work on time. Achieving that sequence without forgetting a thing? It’s not going to happen for me.

25. When I look calm, chances are my insides are racing. There is almost always a fast-moving energy flowing through my veins; a burning fire that I can’t put out.

26. Please don’t pressure me by dictating a list of important chores or priorities around the house. Machine-gun lists don’t enter my brain. Even when you speak to me kindly, I only hear the first two items on the list. If it’s before 9 am, I don’t even hear that.

27. Marrying you was the smartest choice I ever made. Growing together isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely rewarding.

[Read This Next: “What I Love About My Wife with ADHD”]

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12 Comments & Reviews

    1. I took that as knowing that there’s something going on.

      I know when something is bothering my fiancé, and I can tell you exactly what it is. I’ll ask him and he’ll say ‘nothing.’ But I know it’s not true. Eventually I’ll get him to tell me, and guess what it’s the thing I thought it was. But I want to get him to say it, so we can have a conversation about it and work it through.

  1. This was an excellent letter, and hopefully well received. I can echo a lot of the same sentiments that you captured perfectly. It’s funny how people love all the benefits of having someone around with ADHD but they have almost no tolerance or are highly critical of our shortcomings. It’s great to be social, fun loving, creative, funny, and for the most part happy all the time, but when the dinner is late, the dog’s not walked and the appointments not made… there are that familiar tone and frown of disapproval that make me feel like a scolded child again, just a big lump of good-for-nothingness. It hurts so much sometimes. Thanks for your post, I really appreciate hearing others go through this too.

  2. I can relate to everything. E.Ve.ry.thing. This post almost made me cry. And living with this has caused me anxiety. It’s a combination that makes me feel like all I can do is just survive the day. If I can make it to one more night and just sleep, I feel accomplished. I survived.

  3. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my husband…Now can you name Anything you Like about me? I ask for forgiveness for my sarcasm daily! I ask him not to let go of my hand because I’m afraid to walk alone, or I’ve said go ahead leave I’m not afraid, he’s said the sheets rub you the wrong way, you’re afraid of everything. Lol. Btw I can read his mind, and not just his, I can feel what you think of me in a heartbeat! ❤️. I apologize for apologizing and that’s what annoys him the most.

  4. #26 From the other side, as the partner of someone with ADD, I understand that pressure doesn’t work, and lists are pressure. But can you help us with what does work? The chores still need to be done!

    1. Nothing.

      There are things you can try to make it a little easier but you have to accept that the adhd brain is wired completely differently.

      I come from a tidy household. My Mum was brought up to be tidy, my Nana was ridiculously tidy, not a thing out of place. I’m not tidy, at all. I don’t even see mess, it doesn’t register in the same way. I have a sideboard in my bedroom that I’m currently looking at and every spare inch of space is covered. My Mum can’t understand it, but she’s starting to come around to understanding that I just don’t see things in the same way as she does.

      It doesn’t matter how much you want a person with adhd to be different, to see things the way you do, but it’s impossible. And the thing is that the person with adhd usually wants nothing more in the world then to be able to have their brain work sometimes just like a neurotypical person, but it never will. When we try it’s exhausting and we’re constantly met with disapproval, even when we’ve tried really hard. You might make a list of five things, and it took all your willpower to get one or two done, someone then points out that you haven’t done all of the tasks, why didn’t you get them done? How can you explain that part of the day you spent daydreaming, or got sidetracked by other stuff that drew your attention away? Then you feel like a disappointment again.

      All I can say is read more articles on here, read the comments from people with adhd. My Mum has started to give up getting annoyed with me and how I am, it helps that she’s less frustrated. She’s accepting that I will never be different, it’s just how I am. No amount of comments, or frustration, or arguing is going to make my brain work differently.

  5. An excellent letter and so true to how my relationship of 6 years WAS, wish I had found this site and read such inspiring and comforting articles sooner than now but I didn’t I let my ADHD win and I bolted one day and didn’t return until 3 days later when I had calmed down and realised I missed and loved him and that it was just my condition getting in between us, but was too late he told me had had enough and life was simpler and less chaotic without me and my problems! It’s made me stronger and I have learnt a lot through it though.
    Onwards and upwards, and thank you for writing this it’s a real eye opener.

  6. Natalie Hudgins:
    “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my [wife]…Can you name Anything you Like about me?”

    I can relate…and it’s not a rhetorical question; there are times when we who have ADHD, cannot come up with anything that is “likable” about ourselves.

    “I’m sure it was cheek in tongue. I agree, because I am an empath to the core- I feel and feel deeply.”

    While I too believe that was a bit “tongue in cheek”; it is scary(to us as well), how often our “intuition” is a lot closer to the bullseye than other neurotypical brains care to admit, and sad how often we are “gasslighted” into doubting ourselves.

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