According to one study, people in fulfilling relationships have better immunity to the flu. Seriously?! No wonder I have never had the flu. My husband is awesome!
Many people have asked me how I have such a healthy marriage. While it is flattering that people would think we have a healthy marriage, I am not sure we are very different from other married people. We have our squabbles but we really do not have any ongoing conflict.
I annoy him all the time, and he annoys me. But the key to our success is probably humor. Even when we agree to disagree we are usually laughing about it.
The thing is we both have the same mindset about marriage. Being married is a full time job under the best of circumstances. When one partner is living with ADHD you both have to be willing to work even harder.
The truth about what it takes to make a marriage work (When one partner has adhd)
The Non-ADHD Partner needs to understand what ADHD is
I have no memory of how I explained my lifelong ADHD issue to my husband. Sometimes I think he figured it out on his own.
For most adults with ADHD their symptoms affect 5 major “domains” of their life. These domains include poor working memory, trouble identifying their inner voice, difficulty with emotion and motivation, challenges in pursuing long-term goals, and on-again off-again performance. Sourced from Gina Pera
The problem with this is that all of these domains are necessary for us to carry on relationships and lead a productive life. If we do not explain to our partners how ADHD works and how it affects us personally, they will have no frame of reference for what seems like bizarre or frustrating behavior.
I highly recommend you tell your partner if you take medication. If you see a therapist, bring your partner along so they can ask questions and start to understand. Buy them a copy of Gina Pera’s book – it will serve as an invaluable source of information for both of you.
talk about money openly
If there is one thing that seems to get us in trouble with our partners, it is impulsive spending.
Money is always a sticky issue. Some people are spenders, while others are savers. Personally, I am a little bit of both. But that has not prevented me from making mistakes along the way.
When we first got engaged, I told my husband that I had some credit card debt. What I didn’t tell him what that it amounted to $4,000! When I eventually came clean, we were able to come up with a plan to pay down my debt quickly.
Talk about sex too
You know how when your first get into a relationship you always have energy? To stay up all night talking, or have sex, or do just about anything? Inevitably that feeling wanes and you go back to the baseline level of dopamine in your brain.
As ADHD’ers we love our dopamine. We also love the feeling of being in love because it feeds us a sweet, steady stream of dopamine.
Not to embarrass the hubs, but about 3 years into our relationship I totally lost interest in sex. Part of it was hormonal, and part of it was due to my sensory issues. Yes, I have sensory issues and I like my personal space. Which can cause some issues.
Now we talk about sex. In fact I schedule sex so that I have time to prepare myself to have my personal space invaded.
My husband knows this, and at this point I have told him that it has nothing to do with him personally. He does not turn me off, or annoy me, or anything. He tries really hard to make me laugh with his advances, and it works.
The harder I laugh the more likely I am to get it on. We talk about it, and so should you.
Divide and Conquer
Early on in our relationship, we established some ground rules for what household and other responsibilities we would each handle. For us, it was easier to divide based on strengths so that is what I will talk about.
The Hubs is good at organization. He stores and sorts important paperwork like mortgage, life insurance and passports. His office has a set of filing cabinets where I have access to the paperwork, but I very rarely look at it.
This is the key though: when I have an important piece of paper in my hand I immediately hand it over. I know that I will lose it so it is easier for me to turn it over. Some would argue that I am helpless, but the truth is we have determined that he is better at this particular job.
I on the other hand am better at the traditionally female stuff. While I don’t enjoy cleaning, I know that I am better at scrubbing the floor and sorting the laundry than he is. In fact, he does not touch the laundry because he knows he will screw it up.
Figure out your strengths and the strengths of your partner. Divide household tasks according. There will always be some things you do together. Which brings me to the topic of parenting.
Parent on the same page
Having children changes every relationship. What makes it particularly difficult for those of us with ADHD is that it throws a huge curveball into all an already challenging situation.
It’s hard to create consistent routines and boundaries when you have ADHD. In truth, it is hard to be the parent you want to be because you spend so much time managing yourself. Parenting is rewarding – but it is also frustrating and exhausting.
Whenever you have a situation with your child, make sure you are on the same page as your partner. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is for the Hubs when we agree about how to handle something, and then I forget less than 24 hours later.
If you are going to create a new rule or start a new habit, discuss it ahead of time and then present it to your child together. That way if you struggle with the details (as I often do) your partner can back you up.
Approach parenting the same way you do money, talk about it often. Take notes if you need to or schedule it into your planner.
Relationships and marriages are work. I can tell you from first hand experience that not everyone is good at being married. That doesn’t make someone a bad person, but one should be aware of what they are able to handle.
Marriage comes down to respect. Respect for your partner and respect for yourself. Choose your words carefully. Label behaviors, not people.
Do the work. Celebrate your partner and work with them. It is possible to have a successful marriage and ADHD at the same time, it just requires effort and planning. Here is a video interview we did together. It is a bit long, but it gives you a window into our relationship.
This is another book that has pretty good reviews on amazon: