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Accept Them. Support Them. Have Their Backs.

You understand that your spouse's or child's ADHD symptoms are not the result of laziness or defiance. But, still, they are sometimes tough to live with. Here, ADHD expert Russell Barkley, Ph.D., explains how to replace criticism with compassion.

12 Comments: Accept Them. Support Them. Have Their Backs.

  1. Non AdHD partners need same things . Those outlined in the article:( are they getting it? Nope. Not according to my own life story as well as hundreds of non adhd “ era confessions online. They are hurt, depleted and hopeless. Where should they get resources to do the “ double load” ?

  2. So, when is my ADHD partner expected or counseled to have my back?!?! This article is a one-way lecture to exhausted, strung out partners with their own life crises without any one to stand up for them when they need it and sometimes their ADHD partner participates actively in making the non-ADHD partner’s own life issues worse. Please strive for balance. Are there any articles here about strategies for ADHD folks to support them in standing up for and having the backs of THEIR partners?!?! Or, is this basically a non-expection given ADHD?

    1. I know a long time has passed since you commented, but I came across what you said and really felt like I needed to share something…

      This article isn’t trying to make the support of a ADHD/non-ADHD relationship seem one-sided in nature, but rather gives the perspective of one side. That’s not to say that the stresses of the non-ADHD person in the relationship are invalid, but the audience of this ONE particular article just so happens to only address one side of the relationship.

      Now, I was diagnosed with ADHD several years ago and I found some of your generalizations to be pretty offensive and ignorant….but the thing is, I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s exhausting having to constantly be around somebody who exhibits ADHD symptoms and it can wear you down very easily. I understand that. But it’s SO important for you to have an open line of communication with your ADHD partner about the points at which their behavior becomes overbearing. That being said, you don’t want to turn that discussion into a criticizing rant (because that’s never helps anyone achieve anything lol) but you CAN set boundaries so that they know how they’re affecting you and making you feel. That’s helped me in the past, and I’ve also seen a change in my overall functionality as I’ve become more aware of how my symptoms impact the people around me.

      It really doesn’t hurt to look on the bright side of things too. There are benefits to having ADHD as well as being with somebody that has it, and I would encourage you to explore those positive aspects. People with ADHD are definitely not “toddlers” in need of nagging and mothering- trust me, I can tell you from experience how frustrating it is to have people assume that I’m incompetent and incapable. However, if you’re really feeling frustrated or neglected I would HIGHLY suggest seeing a counselor. My parents did this early on in their marriage because my mom felt similar frustrations with my dad (who has ADHD that is similar to my case) and doing so helped them immensely. She learned what behaviors she shouldn’t take personally, and my dad gained tools to help him recognize and address his actions that had a negative affect on her.

      I hope this helps to ease your frustration a little 🙂 communication and understanding are KEY to making any relationship work (especially with an ADHD person) and I hope you continue to see improvement in your relationship!

      1. Thanks for replying and trying to be positive and suoportive. My complaint was about this one article. Its about the overwhelming pattern at ADDitude Magazine… Preaching supportiveness to the NON-ADHD partner and virtually nothing about ways for the ADHD partner to help their efforts have more impact, “work more effectly at your job” kind of articles for relationships. Since this post (I think the editors read it) I have seen at least one article specifically geared toward relationships “ADHD marriage”.

        You and other ADHD critics of my post also assume that I havent been responding xonstructively… That if I -NOTE I-beam responded did something more constructive or responded better, then this would change.

        The most constructive thing i did was get us BOTH -not ONLY ME- BOTH of us into coinceling. Since he was dragging his heels, I let him chpose the counselor. The counceling did nothing. He loed about his involvement at home, told lies about me to the councelor and this councelor bought his version of things, challeneged me to change based on the lies. AFTER each session, we went to lunch and talked over what was realky going on with us based on that day’s counceling session. Eventually he came clean to the counselor and the guy realized he’d been an ass to me too. BUTthat was the main thing I needed out of counceling at that time: my husband had to undetstand that certain things he say to me and about to me were uungrateful and down right abusive. I dont think you read my later reply within this thread with some details. This magazone sems to assume that the ADHD partner’s own struggles and defensiveness NEVER turn abusive. But they can and do.

        Since this breakthrough, which was years before my post here, we have steadily improved and he has started learning how to mutually care for me too. That said, when i am still really sick or debilitated from oyher lofe events, if it isnt a specific issue like we’ve had in the past, I still have to micro-manage his support for me.. Which is a thin line between getting support and performing self-care.

        Both the critical replies to this post reflect the common perception of the NON-ADHD partner as the raving harpie-nag who is the worst at meeting their spouses needs. The first reply is really offensive this way. NON-ADHD spouses come across this way because we are contorting our lives to Support and the ones most effective help their ADHD partners look really good but lack anyone to help them help their spouse. I repeat because neither of you seem to get this. NON-ADHD spouses are not gifted with unlimited reserves of energy, patience, and stamina just because we joined with an ADHD partner. Neither of you acknowledge what NON-ADHD partners do for their ADHD partners, possibly because you havevnt noticed? Without acknowledging there can be no appreciation, without appreciation efforts toward reciprocating are more likely to be misguided because they simply don’t respond to the NON-ADHD person’s actual needs.

        Example, post-counceling breakthrough. My had a mid-term miscarriage. My nerves were fried and i couldn’t drive for a few days and my ADHD partner’s usual loose driving was beyond my ability to cope with gracefully. I would make huge gasps and strong physically starts and shakings from driving moments (sometimes other cars too) truly were not serious but my raw nerves and depleted physical state meant I just couldn’t control my reactions. My husband’s reaction was to yell at me… He only quit this aggressice defensiveness when me made me cry… Only then did he realky hear what i’d been saying… That my nerves were raw and I couldn’t help it. These may be understandable to you from the ADHD perspective, but from the non-ADHD perpsective it is not acceptable, it is abusive.

        NON-ADHD partners are often the ones who bear the brunt of ADHD defensiveness and this takes a toll. We are not granted additonal resilience just because we have an ADHD partner… We need more credit tham we get at ADDtude.

      2. I apologize in advance if this may come across as to forward or blunt but the most constructive thing for you to do would be to leave. Blaming the tit for you feeling unappreciated, abused, or making you cry is self explanatory. You give him permission too by sticking around. He will continue to do this not because he lacks respect for you, he doesn’t respect himself. “Nobody can make you feel inferior unless you give them your permission.” We also know how hard changing something in ourselves can be, let alone changing someone …. you probably understand what I’m trying to say. NOW FOR THE BEST PART,
        This remarkable, outstanding, valuable advice is given by an experienced adult diagnosed ADHD tit. The best thing my ex husband ever did too me was sleep with his secretary (don’t get me wrong, I think he had issues also LOL! and is responsible for them, my issues belong to me and our my responsibility), only after I left with my lip dragging on the ground, ice cream pails full of tears, embarrassed, humiliated and in complete $$#%@ing shock that someone could do this to such a beautiful, controlling, verbally abusive, perfect know it all ADHD tit like myself !!!!! … The nerve of some people hey! Only by the blessing of this silly mishap I’ve learnt humility, how to treat others properly and equally, that my sarcastic humor isn’t all that funny at the expense of hurting others. Sarcastic humor is what I used to make myself look better and hide all my insecurities. I’ve learnt to only judge others when I’m perfect and shut up when I’m not, its best to let people know about your faults, that way they cant be held against you. Acknowledging your own addictions, stupidity, ignorance, arrogance, imperfections and bullying tactics is so humiliating, humbling, funny and very similar to the feelings felt by the Free Willy movie. I’ve learnt there are only 2 reasons why we become angry or anxious, #1 things do not turn out the way “WE THINK” they should have. #2 people will not do what WE WANT OR THINK is best for them. By needing to control and judge others often leaves very little time to attend to our own crap. Minding our own business is soooo hard! ….. So on that note I will sign off so I can go practice the advice I so freely know how to give and make sure husband #2 is doing what I wrote down on his list of what I want done and think is best for him to keep busy! …LOLOLOLO!………….. OH WAIT! one more thing, all this learning only took 46 years! OH WAIT! another thing …. “I cant believe the more I learn the less I actually know” On a very sincere but serious note though IZMJ panic and anxiety can be very debilitating, I haven’t experienced but have seen in friends, please take care of yourself first, you deserve the best let go of the rest! Professional Counselors are amazing super helpful, you’ll always know when you find the right one for you. Just so you know I’m rootin’ for ya, remember we’re all in this together. Thank you for your time, From Bonni (the recovering tit)

      3. To me, it just sounds like he may just be an “ass” ….I don’t know that these inconsiderate actions you mention have anything to do with ADD/ADHD. People with ADD are not like OBLIVIOUS to what others need and want (by definition) so it might just be obstinance, or defiance in it’s basic form.

    2. The comments are precisely the reason articles like this exist. It seems like effort isn’t being made but it’s not something that can be identified the same way in a person with ADHD. The effort is there but the executive function disorder PREVENTS success to equal or be correlative to effort exhorted. It’s exhausting to explain and we feel failed at the effort put in and the result being that if we had put no effort or we in fact did not care at all, there’s a possibility of the exact same outcome. Taking responsibility, “growing up”, putting oneself in the others shoes, not causing our loved ones pain, irritation, frustration, hurt feelings etc… is the reason we shut down. It’s a symptom of a disorder we have yet to find a cure for and it’s management is effort every single day and likely has been for our entire life. Decide to care enough to understand and change the judgement of the person or just kindly allow them to find a more compassionate person rather than add one more dimension to their daily effort to manage a disorder already alienating them from you. It’s called love and it’s not about getting what you give, not with someone with ADHD. You would have to realize a different brain requires different things and that goes for every single aspect of their life- your relationship with them is one component in a life filled with effort to fit into systems not designed or suited to fit them. Don’t be a martyr for the ADHD person in your life with the belief that your “tough love” approach will do anything positive for that person; you are not the first, only, or last person to be in a relationship with a person who has ADHD and do an ounce of research, it’s backed with enormous evidence- divorce rates, other mental disorders Co-existent, higher rates of depression and suicide etc… there are reasons and the fact doesn’t change in that a relationship is not going to as easy or even like any you may have ever had, be honest if it’s too much and let go if it’s not working for you. Relationships are still two way and nothing is ever only one person’s fault/doing/shortcoming. Take responsibility for your choice and attempt to be with a person with ADHD and walk away if you can’t but don’t pretend to be a victim of someone you have no understanding of; the information isn’t a secret and you have just as much free will To be in relationships as anyone else involved. Get over your ego and stop using a mental diagnostic as a scapegoat to blame what you can’t change. Non-adhd people could benefit from a little tough love too.

      1. I’m talking about situations where someone is actively verbally attacking me and he wont stand up for me… Not because he takes their side but because he has a fear of conflict.

        I’m talking about being sick with a fever and Mr. ADHD has to get the toddler ready for daycare on his own then being told before he goes for work, “you’d better be well when I get home.”

        Being angry at me for being exhausted at the end of day with two small children and a household chores because he feels fine and want sex. Its my fault for doing too much!

        I get in a car accident with our two kids nearly totalling our car because im exhausted and strung out and he is angry, distant and only says, “well i guess you got what you wanted…. I dont know why you asked me to come home early”. The car for the record was a coupe that literally caused me a LOT of pain due to post-partum back and hip issues and i had to twist myslef to buckle two small children into their car seats and he refused to have any discussion of getting a different more comfortable car.

        Honestly, your post shares a LOT of this blame the non-adhd spouse for their stress.

        These are past examples and things have improved as we’ve come to learn about the ADHD but most of these articles focus on managing work life and self-care.. As if personal lives dont matter. “The ADHD Marriage” doea a great job of balancong the ADHD and non-ADHD perspectives, literally speaking to both. one of the early statements to the ADHD spouse is “you cannot imagine the amount stress that your untreated ADHD puts your NON-ADHD spouse through…the real and serious toll your ADHD takes on the physical health of your NON-ADHD partner” I have not sen any acknowledgementn of this in ADDitudde Magazine. Its like the NON-ADHD partner is expected to be a selfcsacrificing saint. We’re not and no one should expect us to be. ELSEWHERE i have read yhat NON-ADHD partners need the mindfulness training to help them cope with the stress and added work their life with an ADHD spouse causes. Where is the non-additdute Magazine for us?

      2. The improvement I mentioned in the above post are from him accepting more responsibility all-round, managing his ADHD and respecting me more for what I do to make our lives work.

    3. Exactly. I love, respect and understand. But at some point an effort needs to be made. Try, use strategies, go to counseling…. you can’t just say oh I have ADHD and not try. I don’t expect perfection I except an effort

      1. izmj, GMF 47, jlynn2118
        Interesting responses. I am inclined to agree. When will these ADDers grow up and accept responsibility and take into account OUR feelings and needs?
        I am not sure the 65 yr old man I have been involved with for five years is ADHD or ADD (he is also an alcoholic, so that masks it)- but I am now pretty well convinced after reading dozens of articles on here. It is a NIGHTMARE coping with these people. Yes, we DO love them – or at least their “nice” side – otherwise we would not have hung on in for so long, but can they not SEE how they are sucking the life-blood out of us? Can they not SEE things from OUR perspective? Apparently not, according to stories on here. Would that life was as rosy-hued as this writer likes to portray, and that just loving, supporting and listening to these people was the magic wand we need to make it all alright. Has HE ever had to live with and cope with someone with ADHD or ADD for any length of time, I wonder? Lorna

    4. I completely agree. This article is garbage. I’ve been in a relationship with an ADD partner and the excuses are ceaseless. Never dealt with so many instances of manipulation and complete abdication of responsibility. Articles like this send a bad, toxic message.

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