This is a thread to collect ideas from both the ADHD partner and the nonADHD partners to post ideas/strategies that they have tried, and had positive results from. From taking out the garbage, to showing up on time, establishing eating/bedtime routines, to giving/receiving criticisms, communicating needs and handling conflict situations. It might be better if the poster first says if they are the adhd partner (adhd+), or the non adhd partner (adhd-); who's idea it was, how it was brought up, and the results.

Remember, let's post comments of things that have WORKED (even if only incrementally), not failed attempts/frustrations. That way we can fine tune eachother's ideas, and give eachother the perspective of the 'other side' to develop and improve strategies that we can all use.

If there is a post about something that someone tried and got good results from, and you have tried it with negative results, please don't feel the need to throw that in to the conversation as it would just be discouraging; what works for one couple or individual may not work for others. The more options we have to choose from the better for us all.

If you have an area in which you need an idea, try posting the 'theme' in the thread title (new response topic), which will make it easier to organize and retrieve specific responses to areas we are currently seeking help with.

Then we can just have continuous reply threads for THAT topic (i.e.: cutting down drinking, chores etc.),

              rather than one continuous thread for this WHOLE forum

                                                    (with three-word sentences by

                                                                        the time we get to

                                                                               the end of the


Thanks in advance for those who reply, because I think this could be one of the most valuable uses for any adhd forum.


* this is currently under the "Communication" forum, but I am hoping that with enough content admin might open it as it's own forum under "IDEAS THAT WORK" -Strategies BY and FOR both partners.

fuzzylogic72's picture

Communication breakdown (circle-talk stand-offs)

How many of us have been at that point of communication breakdown where both sides have thoughts/points that they need acknowledged, and it just turns into a circle-talk stand-off, where both sincerely want to understand and be understood, but both just get polarized in their responses to, (person 1):"I understand you, but you don't understand me";  (person 2): "That's how I feel about you too; I do understand you, but I'm feeling disregarded". These circular counter-conversations can go on FOREVER!!! Has anyone had this experience? How did you solve it?

*Remember: NO blame-laying....

Circular Talk

There are times when my husband (ADHD) and I (non-ADHD) start that conversation that starts to circle.  If it's something that can wait, we'll step away from the topic for a while and either come back and talk later or talk about it the next day, usually via email.  I have found that communicating with him through email has helped us a lot.  We have time to cool down, and email seems to take the emotion out of the talk.  Sometimes we need that.  He's better with visuals, so sending him something through email helps him remember things, too.  

fuzzylogic72's picture

Circular talk

Thanks for your reply! I (adhd+) find the same thing with emails (and texts); it takes the emotion and the 'gotta say it in exactly the right way' pressure out of it. Also, that way both partners are not as distracted by rebuttals, and also have the time to think through our responses instead of knee-jerk defenses because we are thinking that we are not being heard; only chastised. So my question is (and I'm the adhder), is how can I explain to her that sometimes we don't need to hash EVERYTHING out, face to face (or on the phone), on the spot? It feels (my perception) that unless things are going perfectly smoothly, exactly how she wants them, then I have to face a tribunal and have a two hour debate about it (I hate debates, but get sucked into them way too easily). Maybe just showing her this thread so she knows that a non-adhd female partner has used this strategy and it works, will validate an idea that my recommendation alone can't seem to be able to validate. I just always get, "but this is concerning hurt me, and you don't realize that, you don't even care" (of course I do realize that, and I also have concerns and hurt, but they seem to take back seat to hers in these interchanges, hence the circle-talking stand-offs). I know we are both equal parts responsible for the issues we discuss, and we have to have an equal voice and input to the solution, which I don't feel happens in these types of stand-offs. Thanks for you input; I will try to pitch the idea today.

Circular Talk

Fuzzylogic, first let me say I've read a few of your posts and really admire the thought and effort you put in to understanding the issues.

I don't think the circular talk issue is necessary an ADHD issue.  I think a lot of women harp at an issue until it "feels" like they've been heard and I know I've been guilty of it myself.  Sometimes it's not about the issue that's being discussed but the unanswered  emotional one that's not and that's part of the female beast.  My guy, who is ADHD  has voiced your exact words but so has a girlfriend's husband who is not.

"You hurt me and you don't even care"... very typical thoughts or words alot of women might use.

When I've kept harping on an issue I wasn't really asking for an explanation to the behaviour or problem, what I was really asking for was re-assurance that he loved me and it was safe to love him back.  All he really needed to do to end the circle of conversation was wrap me in his arms and let me "feel" that he loves me.

In one particular conversation I was probably sounding similar to your girlfriend and I decided to leave.  I was two minutes down the road when I consciously remembered he's ADHD and not seeing things the way I do.  I could have left and we would have had a fight hanging in the air but instead I went back and told him what I really wanted...for him to make love to me and let me feel connected to him.  He did and we did and there ended the conversation he was hating.  My point is not that sex solves all but maybe she needs help learning to ask for what she really needs.  It's hard because it makes us feel soooo vulnerable.


I am the non-ADD spouse.

You were extremely specific in how you wanted this thread to go, but very unspecific in what 'issues' you're dealing with that result in the 'It's all your fault, you're not listening to me' vicious cycle that WILL destroy relationships. I used to be the President of that club, my husband the VP.

I think the key is to find solutions to the issues you're fighting about when you're both in a frame of mind to compromise. My husband and I BOTH came to the agreement that we were NOT going to fight like this anymore. WALK AWAY.  For me, this was far more difficult than for my husband. He avoids conflict at all costs, even if it means leaving issues completely unresolved (not something he has a sense of urgency about anyway) and I am a 'fixer'. I grew up without a bunch of chaos and when there is something 'out of whack' I really need resolution..yesterday. Surely, I thought, if I just explained it one more time, in a different way, he would 'get it'. Two minutes into the fight he had shut down heard nothing but "nag nag nag nag nag, you're a loser, you can't do anything right, nag nag nag nag nag". Once I FINALLY got this..I mean TRULY understood that this does NOT WORK and will not EVER work for me, my husband, and our marriage, then I  was able to just walk away. I also admit I felt the need to be 'right' all of the time....and as part of my husband's ADD not only does he feel his way is always best he also feels that any attempt I made to 'alter' his behavior (even though it WAS bad and hurtful) was me trying to control him. Not good. Whether you agree on a time, at a later date to discuss the issue, decide to each go your separate ways and write down YOUR compromise to the issue (realizing that relationships are not always about getting everything 100% our way) and meet back in an hour, physically remove yourself from the room, or just change the subject you have to break the cycle. We have done most all of the above to avoid getting sucked into the vortex of a huge fight..and it has made a HUGE difference in our lives.

Also, if I have a point to make about something I make my point and I let it go. I finally just decided that spending 2 hours pounding home my way of thinking wasn't helping anyone and wasn't solving anything. I don't have to change his mind or have him agree with me on every.single.issue. anymore. I used to do this in an attempt to feel validated and heard. It finally dawned on me one day..he has ears, he's intelligent, and capable of having independant I say what I feel and then I drop it. Even if he disagrees, I still do not engage in a conversation with him about it. Typically he'll give his thoughts and that'll be that. I feel FAR more validated and heard than I EVER did before...and most of the time he'll let me know he 'heard' me even if it is a week or two later, he'll do or say something that proves he is listening and cares.

Lastly, we have a journal that I got for us to write in. The rules are that we are allowed to share anything...fears, thoughts, anxieties, worries, etc...without any type of negative reaction from each other. There is no conversation about what goes in the journal. He HATES communciation with e-mail or texts, but has responded VERY well to this.

Bottom line, you both have to be responsible for the issues that each of you bring to the table that are harmful to the relationship and hurtful to each other...and communicating this way is. Stop fighting. Walk away. Make your point and be done. If it pertains to an issue that does need resolution, come up with your own ideas outside of the heat of the moment and present them at another time. Be willing, because you love your partner, to compromise and give something of yourself. It always comes back 10 fold. I promise.

fuzzylogic72's picture


I really like the journal idea! I use that idea in the classroom (anonymous mailbox), but never thought of using a similar approach for couple's communication. I've always kept my own journal, and it's enlightening to look back and see you your perspectives, reactions, internal dialogue change over the years. It reminds me that when I'm in the middle of what i'm writing about, it seems like things will never change, but then looking back you see how much they do, which reassures me that they will continue to change in the future. That will be SO powerful in a couples context. I'm getting a journal tomorrow!

Almost forgot

Another very important thing that has worked for us...

Stop the blaming. 'well, I only did this because you did that'...BS. You did what you did because you chose to do it. Period. I have a choice when he does something that makes me angry (yes, we both still get isn't against the law and is an unavoidable emotion) I do not react in a way that all he sees is my anger, thus I instantly lose any hope I have of making my point without starting a fight. I think first. This one was a lot harder for me to get him to understand, but he's getting there. We got in late one night...I wanted to hop in the shower..he wanted to go straight to bed. I let the dogs out and asked if he'd stay up just a couple of minutes more and let the dogs in so I could jump in the shower. Not only did he immediately start spewing ugly words about how tired he was, how all he wanted to do was go to bed, why couldn't I just wait a couple of minutes on my shower?, etc. Immediately I felt hurt. Why could he not just once put my feelings above his wants/needs? THAT, to me is what marriage is about..putting the feelings of your spouse above your own wants (again something I think comes back 10 fold, if you do). I'm not saying that I deserved a shower anymore than he deserved to get to go straight to bed, but when I asked him if he'd mind and he reacted by saying hurtful things, he wasn't considering my feelings. When I pointed it out to his reaction was hurtful he immediately started "well, you knew that I..." and I stopped him. "honey, you chose your reaction...and it was hurtful...and what you're getting ready to do is blame ME for your reaction and that's not fair nor helpful" He argued that I should have put his desire to go to bed over my desire to take a shower (one need over the other) and I agreed with him that maybe he was right on that point, but on the point that his reaction was validated because he was tired, wanted to go to bed, was the same kind of "it is your fault I got mad" BS that led us down the dark, destructive path for 6 long years. I asked him "would it have killed you to just once keep your anger to yourself, delay going to bed for 2 minutes, let the dogs in for me, and feel a sense of pride that you did something nice for me?" Sacrifice.  It made the issue more about his reaction and his CHOICE to react how he did than whether I was right or wrong to ask him in the first place. I used to think his 'attitude' I got when asking something of him that he just simply didn't want to do was out of his control, but I am seeing less and less of this since we've made this change too.

Hope this helps some.

Right On

You are so dead on!  I have thought of other ideas that will help too,  I am going to try them this week and see what happens.  But the one thing that happens in a ADHD marriage is the non ADHD spouse loses trust in the ADHDer because we forget alot of things.  So me and my wife come up with 3 thing we promise to do every time we talk,  being I am deployed to iraq it is about once or twice a week.  But I ask her to think of three things that I will promise to do and I give her three things.  I think this will slowly rebuild that trust and desire to please the other person.  I also belive that you need to have a spiritual connection with you spouse and having faith will not only help you marriage but it will help the ADHDer on alot of ways,  One is someone with ADHD has a very additive personality so drinking and other additive things you will need help with and the biggest way to help with additions is faith.  So everyday discuss a verse in the bible, and ask your spouse what three things can I pray for you and give them three things thay can say a prayer for you.  this will not only build your spritual connection it will open communications between the both of you.  When you ask for you spouse to pray for you dont discuss the prayers just say ok and do it.  I will put feedback on here when I know but thank you all for commenting this is a very good forum.

Us finding our way back to

Us finding our way back to church and back to God has been, no mistaking, a huge part of our progress. The most important aspect of it for me is that I needed to learn to love my husband through God's eyes. Imperfections and all. It also helps me not to see my husband as the enemy, but the devil instead. I know it isn't something everyone believes in, but I do believe that the closer we grow to God, together, the better the chances are our marriage will survive. The changes aren't just in me, but in my husband as well. We have found a 'home' with our church (started there last fall after being out of church for 12+ years) and I can see so many things in our lives in the past 18 months that lead me to believe God was with us every step of the way. Honestly, when you have that spiritual connection, it is really hard for anything else to keep you down. When you love each other, as the Bible says to, then you can truly win any battle that comes your way. Even with ADHD, you can still make decisions that are in the best interest of your marriage. Everyday we have decisions to make..big and small...and they all can negatively or positively affect the is our choice. We do His will or we do our own.

Sorry..didn't mean to get off on a spiritual ramble...I am just glad you are including that as part of your healing. It has helped my husband and I tremendously. I believe, through God, everything is possible. :-)

Have you two studied the book of Ephesians together? Maybe a good idea while you're two could read it and discuss it together. Best of luck!!

A little encouragement

my husband just started actual medication treatment. Taking Adderrall now. He painted the entire livingroom ceiling and we sat and had a laid back conversation for about 25 minutes without him getting up from his seat once. I feel encouraged for the first time. I understand that our world wl never be perfect but I will take improved!! While we sat there having this rational wonderful conversation I suddenly put my hand over my mouth. He asks, "What's wrong?" I reply, " do you realize we are have a normal conversation and you haven't gotten up once and walked out of the room? I am just pinching myself." we are taking baby steps back to our relationship. I am proud of him for finally getting treatment and finally realizing he need to do something for himself and our marriage. I am working on me as well. Working on my built up anger and trust issues. Baby steps. Encouraged

Thanks for posting your

Thanks for posting your success. Congratulations on your step forward! Reading your post is encouraging for me, as it is hard to find hope these days. It's one thing to read to stories in books about positive change, its quite another to witness it, as it were, in someone's life in the present. Thank you. May many more positive steps come your way.

I too have started my own

I too have started my own personal journal so I may track our progress. I know he is over anxious for instant healing bit I will continue to remind him we are taking tiny baby steps so we both don't end up hurt or disappointed somehow. I was ready to walk away, was preparing in every imaginable way. I know he reached out for medical help because he knew he had to do something to try and save his marriage. I am proud of his recent efforts I admit I am on guard and protective of my heart. I hope over time I will be able to lower the guard rails I have built up. I feel I am at an advantage now as I am one of the most forgiving people I have ever known. I have always said my biggest weakness is my strength and ability to quickly forgive others. I am hopeful that I will view that differently One day. Again BABY STEPS

Communication Tip

We have been using fifteen minute time increments to discuss a given topic. Our counselor suggested this tool to us to promote more positive communication. I'd never put much thought into why our conversations fell apart anytime we attempted to talk at length. The counselor informed me that a forty-five minute or hour communication session going smoothly at this point just isn't realistic until we develop better skills in this area. It's still baby steps, but this has helped considerably whereas before I used to joke that we weren't capable of making a sandwich together without problems & it was really the truth.

That's makes chuckle about

That's makes chuckle about the "not being able make a sandwich together" part as I have said the same type if things as well! I like this forum. I hope everyone can keep this going. We all need to hear even the tiniest of positive things. I tip my hat to all of you who have ADHD and are on here trying to improve their lives and relationships and I cherish hearing both the ADHD and their spouses points of views. Since it is so hard to just sit and have that ongoing direct co conversations with our spouses as we tend to come across as badgering at times when actually we as spouses are desperate for the information and guidance not only for ourselves but for out ADHD spouses as well. I can read things and say, "hey I just read this, isn't that interesting?" and I do get a positive reaction. Thank you all