Do You Have the Right Mindset for an ADHD Relationship?

Your mindset can make all the difference when you are in a relationship with an ADHD partner.

I want to share a note from the spouse of an ADHD partner who, after discovering ADHD was a factor in his crumbling marriage, decided to try to be more open to his wife's 'way of being' and experiences.  I was moved by the shift in his attitude:

"This weekend we spent the whole Saturday together and I just watched her for the first time.  What an amazing thing when you watch somebody with excitement rather than disdain.  We even went to SAMs Club and she forgot her purse with eh SAMs club card.  In the past I would have come unglued.  This time we had fun with it.  It gave us more time to talk in the car, and it ended up because of that we got back later than orignially planned but ran across the most amazing sunset...which of course she had to bring up to me since I would have never noticed.  I sat back and thought "I should have done this years ago..."

This man's ability to benignly observe his wife's behaviors, and switch from "disdain" to "excitement" is a wonderful development for them.  They will still have lots of work to do to create interactions they both enjoy consistently, but he has shown the flexibility of mind needed to change from having a negative 'filter' about a partner with ADHD to a more positive mindset.

I talk about negative filters quite a bit in my second book, The Couple's Guide to Thriving with ADHD, because they are often present in both partners as they struggle in a relationship.  This man was looking to feel disdain for his wife, but he didn't assess whether or not his filter was appropriate until he started reading about ADHD and relationships.  Sadly, negative filters can kill your feelings fast - it's no coincidence that he immediately felt more affectionately towards his partner when he decided to just "let things go" for a bit and consciously appreciate her rather than critique her.  When you start thinking "...she's never going to be able to do X" you start behaving differently...and typically not better!

One of the most common filters is an anger filter.  This one is not only harmful, it's contagious!  If you feel, in general, that your partner never gives you a break, or never seems to deal with his or her issues, you will behave more curtly towards them, perhaps diminishing them in your relationship.  When you do, what is there to be optimistic about?  I'm not suggesting you should pretend that everything is okay, when it's not.  Far from it!  I'm suggesting that we should be aware of our filters so that, like the man above, we can test out new ones and see what happens.  His ability to watch his wife doesn't solve her underlying forgetfulness, but it makes the likelihood that they will both be able to find ways to deal with it MUCH more likely.  We are all, as humans, much more motivated to make changes when we are feeling happy and supported.

Do you have the right mindset for your relationship?  I urge you to think about what attitudes you filter your relationship through, and I challenge you to try on some new, more benevolent ones.  Put another way, try to make yourself "Teflon" instead of "Velcro."  Good things may come about...and you'll likely feel better about yourself in the process.