Communication Tips with ADHD

If you are in a marital crisis, do you say anything about it to your kids?  While the answer to this question is extremely personal, I think there are some rules of thumb.  Some of these are based in my personal feelings about how you foster trust in relationships, including the parent/child relationship.  I would love to hear what you think and your own approaches.

I spend a lot of time helping non-ADD spouses understand how to interpret their ADD husband’s actions (or, more frequently, inactions – a word I use without judgment.)  I think it’s time to write a piece for the ADD male about what non-ADD women want. 

There are a number of posts in our forum from non-ADD spouses who would like to blame their ADD spouses for the troubles in their marriages.  I personally think “blame” should be considered a 4-letter word that is banned from all marriages.  The fact of the matter is that we are all responsible for the state of our relationships.  Or, to paraphrase Newton’s laws of motion, “for every action, there is a reaction”.

I was just reading a post in the forum area from a woman sharing her experiences with how much using the word AND has improved her life with her sons and husband.  I thought it was an interesting and positive idea that more would like to read about, so I link to it here.  

If you have both a spouse and a child with ADD, there are some important differences between how you will naturally want to interact with them – differences that can really hurt your relationship with your spouse if you aren’t aware of them. 

I am reading the posts of a woman who is about to get married to a man whom she adores who happens to have ADD.  She is frustrated and confused by his inability to pay attention to wedding planning.  This seems like a great time to elaborate upon what lack of focus means for people with ADD – and for their spouses.

One of the most frequent questions that comes up is one of frustration – “how do I get my ADD spouse to listen to me about our problems?”  The short answer is that you can’t if he doesn’t want to, but let me elaborate, as this is clearly at the heart of many struggling marriages.

At its worst, my ADD marriage was filled with swirling, extreme emotions – hope, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration.  These were overwhelming and make me feel hopeless until I started addressing these emotions at their most basic roots.  Perhaps, with a few of the ideas I put down here, you’ll be able to start sorting out – and improving – some of the most troubling emotions you feel in your own relationship.

Do you have the experience where everything you do seems to end in conflict?  Are you in the middle of a conversation and suddenly your spouse is going on and on about how you used the wrong word?  One of our readers wrote about it this way: "the entire conversation is ignored and the one word is focused on, whether it be to accuse me of changing facts, or blaming her for something, taking a stab at me or just flat out missing the point...there is so much anger and unhappiness ... I have stopped talking since everything I say gets disected and used against me in some way."

It is not uncommon for people with ADHD to have trouble with addictions or near-addictions.  In fact, it is so common that in Delivered from Distraction, Dr. Hallowell devotes an entire chapter to this topic and what to do about it.  One of the issues here is that computer usage, and gambling, can be a form of self-medication for those with ADHD.