ADD Partner feels I am Critial and Hurtful by trying to deal with our issues

Hello - I am new and here is my story:

I am living with a man that I am totally in love with - we have been together for over 2 years, and lived together for almost 1 year.  We both have great jobs and many hobbies.  He has suffered from ADD his whole life, but only in the last year or so has he been interested in looking for a 'solution'.  Our relationship has been full of hardships, fights, and disagreements on everything from sex to commitment, but only in the last few weeks have we both agreed that my partners ADD has been a catalyst for all of the issues we have had.   

Currently he has an appointment with a Doc which he would really like to begin taking medication.  Meanwhile - now that we both are aware of the problems that his ADD causes we are fighting very hard to stop the cycle of problems associated with it.  Ex. - I feel neglected, therefor I 'nag' or remind him that I need love and affection, this makes him upset which causes him to become angry or just totally silent and shut-down and REPEAT.  

I know that sometimes I say things in a very critical way - he has even said it feels like I am treating him like he is a child and I am reprimanding him, or 'bringing him down' or making him feel bad about the way he is.  I try my best not to communicate like this - but it is so difficult because there are some days that he responds well to simple, short sentences  like "when you do ______ I feel _____" or "it is really hard for us to _____ if we are dealing with ____".  But it seems like there is no GOOD way to communicate my feelings in a way that makes him understand - or if there is a way I feel like it is different every single day.

Does any one have experience with this?

We have both decided to fight hard for this to work, but if there is ZERO progress in 6 months, then we have both decided to split ways.  We have come very far considering the things we have delt with together, but at this point I am making him feel like he sucks and he is making me feel the same way - its just not fair to do since we love each other very much.

Thank you - any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.  



Healthy communication is tricky

Hello.  It’s great that you and your partner are willing to work on your relationship.  Even though it is ADD impacted it will likely require effort and change on both your parts.  There is much more to ADD treatment than medication.  Medication improves attention but it does not unlearn bad habits and create new ones.  It can, however, help provide the attention required to do so.  Also, keep in mind that medication dosages and types may need to be fiddled with quite a bit before the cocktail is ideal.

My husband was on medication for years that helped with attention but since he didn’t get other treatment he still wasn’t effective and his moods were quite problematic.  When it got to a crisis point he agreed to go to counseling on his own and it has helped tremendously.  He is less likely to overreact to things, and more likely to include me in a conversation.  I would encourage your guy to go to counseling, and since it sounds like communication is an issue for you both you might benefit from joint counseling.  It is very important that the counselor understand ADD.  Very very important.

I would also recommend reading Orlov’s book.  It has helpful strategies on how to communicate with your partner.  There are also some good posts on this site.  I didn’t realize how easy it is to sound critical and/or condescending until I read these.  I now work very hard to make sure DH knows I have listened to him and while I don’t necessarily agree, I can see how he believed his point to be valid.  I used to be much more likely to jump to that won’t work, which is dismissive even when true.

It’s important to understand that people with ADD have usually been criticized and belittled and have very weak sense of self and capability, so hearing their loved ones seemingly pile on can be very hard to hear.  Learning how to validate while maintaining your own point of view, and self, can be very difficult and we can often slip into coddling to our own detriment, which is why counseling might help as a way to make sure you don’t get lost.

My DH and I are getting along a lot better now that I have let a lot of unimportant things go, and I try hard to validate and not just react, nor treat him like a child.  He is less volatile, and recognizes that he needs to be nice to me in order to expect me to be nice to him.  We have a long way to go still to get that elusive sense of intimacy but there is hope.  I would also recommend that you assess just what you need to see change.  What are your deal killers?  Good luck.