I was reminded the other day of one of the most frustrating things about relationships where one spouse is ADHD and the other is not – that is the feeling that you are experiencing the same problems over and over and over again (and again)! Breaking out of this cycle – which is very exasperating for all – is critical to building a better relationship. Attitude, believe it or not, and specific communication skills, are the key to moving forward.
Dr. Hallowell often states in his speeches that people with ADHD have only two concepts of time – “now” and “not now”. How true that is! If a project or idea is in front of a person with ADHD it gets done now…or, if not now, then perhaps never! This trait has plusses and minuses in the ADHD marriage.
Those who wish to get a broader introduction to Steven Stosny's knowledge about anger can go to his website (at the link in this sentence). While the purpose of the website is to promote his courses, he writes well about the effect of anger on health and anger at children, among other things.
It may well be that anger management in marriages where one or both spouses has ADHD is THE critical issue that determines whether or not a couple can be happy together. Anger can develop in both partners, though it often manifests itself differently in the two. This is a topic that is so large that it needs to be addressed in many different ways, but let me start here with an example of a couple I've written about before, whom I'm calling Anne and Tom.
Being a person who does not have ADHD married to a person who does have ADHD can be wonderful. It can also be intensely frustrating. I am a non-ADHD spouse married to a man who has ADHD. Dr. Hallowell has the opposite - he has ADHD while his wife does not (part of the reason we are teaming up to write a book on this topic - we balance each other out!) If you are a spouse without ADHD, you may well recognize much of what I am about to describe in your own marriage, for without a doubt I have experienced the "classic" ADHD-affected marriage.
So, what does it feel like to be married to a person with ADHD when you do not have it yourself? What are some of the basic patterns?