Relationships in which either one or both partners have ADHD can be challenging. Often Adult ADHD is undiagnosed and as a result untreated. The symptoms can wreak havoc on the partnership. To understand why, we need to look at the common symptoms of ADHD: impulsivity, inattention, distractibility, disorganization, low frustration tolerance, trouble with planning and time management. These symptoms are frustrating for both the individual with ADHD and the non-ADHD partner. The good news is there are ways to learn how to manage the symptoms and use the strengths of both partners so that the relationship can thrive.
The first step is awareness. If you suspect you might have ADHD and have not been diagnosed, there are short assessments that can provide a starting point for a discussion with your doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist specializing in ADHD. Medication might be part of a treatment plan as well as other modalities including therapy to help with feelings of shame and failure and coaching to help with planning, education, accountability and support. Nutrition, exercise, and stress management are also important to symptom management.
For relationships to thrive, ADHD needs to be addressed with awareness, education, and action. The ADHD partner cannot simply blame troubling behavior on ADHD without trying to find ways to manage symptoms. The non-ADHD cannot dismiss ADHD as an excuse to be lazy, disorganized, or inattentive. The idea is both need to work together to come up with solutions that will work for them. Education about ADHD is critical for both partners to fully understand how the ADHD brain works. We will talk about education in the next blog!