Is lying a part of your relationship? Are you eager to move past the lies to a more trusting partnership? This is the first of several posts that will deal with lies and rebuilding trust in relationships impacted by ADHD.
It’s the catch-22 of ADHD-impacted relationships (and many non-ADHD marriages, as well!) For many couples impacted by ADHD, distraction, disengagement and retreat from conflict leave non-ADHD partners feeling ‘stranded’ and lonely. Their natural response is to pursue their partner for attention…and disaster results. What do you do?
Many non-ADHD partners want to connect at night with a meaningful "goodnight, honey," a kiss and hug or with some sexual intimacy. Yet disappointment follows when their partner is too distracted or too tired to shine the spotlight of their attention in the non-ADHD partner's direction. (Conversely, I sometimes hear complaints from ADHD partners who say that the demands of their non-ADHD partner to come to bed at a certain time are obnoxious...but that's for a different post.) What to do?
Excessive use of electronics is not a neutral activity when it comes to relationships – it takes time away from family and partners. In our house it can feel as if my husband’s electronics rule my life. If I ask a question or sound speculative about anything, the first thing he does is whip out his phone to look up the answer. He views it as being helpful and interesting. I view it as a distraction that pulls his attention away from me and from our conversation.
I was speaking in New York recently and was asked an excellent question by a man who has ADHD. The gist of it was this:
“My girlfriend sends me emails all the time when I’m at work and then gets angry with me when I don’t respond consistently. My reaction is to simply tell her ‘I’m distracted – I’ve got ADHD. I often forget to respond to you. Get over it!’ What do you think about that response?” Here’s my answer:
You are not alike, and one of the big differences between you is what it feels like to live with your brain. You may be surprised at just how different your head feels than your partners, once you start to discuss it (go ahead – it’s a fun conversation!) So, in the words of those who know first hand, what IS it like to see the world “through” an ADHD brain?
When you're trying repeatedly to get an ADHD spouse to "respond" to your requests it's hard not to get into nagging mode. But non-ADHD spouses need to avoid chronic nagging patterns if they are to be successful, happy partners. This is much harder than it sounds.