Division of Labor in ADHD Treatment

I am confused and, as a result, very frustrated about a long-term issue in my relationship.  I am sure this is an issue for other people who are in relationships with individuals with ADHD and so I hope that readers (and bloggers:  Melissa, help please!) will offer their thoughts.

(A) Here are some facts about relationships generally.

1) Relationship problems often arise from the behavior/response/response cycle.

2) This means that both the person who engages in the original behavior and the person who responds contribute to whatever is happening.

3) Thus, to deal with the problem seems to require action by both people.

(B) Here are some facts about people with ADHD and their partners:

1) People with ADHD often struggle to change their behaviors.

2) People with ADHD often deflect responsibility for their negative behaviors.

3) People with ADHD sometimes want other people to take care of them.

4) Partners of people with ADHD often are highly functioning; they are active and assertive and used to getting things done.

5) Partners of people with ADHD often are focused on problem solving.

6) Partners of people with ADHD often are told that they do too much, that they control the partner with ADHD or that they "parent" the partner with ADHD.

So, if we put the factors in (A) and (B) together, what results is that both partners need to make changes to mitigate the problems and improve the relationship but it is highly likely that only one of the partners (the non-ADHD one) will actually make changes in his or her behavior.  

Also, it is not unusual for the non-ADHD partner to be told that he or she is causing the dependence of the ADHD partner, by doing too much.

As a result, the non-ADHD partner is likely to feel even more resentful because even in treatment, he or she is pulling more weight than the person with ADHD, AND is told that he or she is wrong for doing more.  

So, folks, what do we do? 


I just have to keep working on me

I love how you've outlined the points so clearly.  As for what do we do?  Intellectually, I think I know.  Emotionally, its tough to apply.  

Just make my changes (as the non-ADHD spouse) and either my ADHD partner will grow with me or she won't.  And if she doesn't, well, the natural course is we will eventually just outgrow each other and end up going separate ways (emotionally and romantically - whether I like it or not).  Essentially, it's the attitude of letting go and letting things take their course.  

I have to stop "parenting", and eventually, I'll outgrow the conditions I'm living in.  If she doesn't grow with me and show she can be an autonomous self-responsible partner too, she just gets left behind while I move on.  Like I said, easier said than done, but I'm trying to reclaim my own independence again and I think that's all I can do in this division of labor right now.  Not trying to sound callous, but that's my (simplified) answer.