This is a guest blog post by ADHD coach Kathy Sussell about her marriage and what has helped it over 32 years.
When my husband asked if he could take me out for a fancy dinner this weekend I was more than pleasantly surprised, I was absolutely shocked because it’s not the kind of thing he does.
“Why would you want to take me out for a fancy dinner?” I asked. “Don’t you want to celebrate our 32nd anniversary?” he replied.
I thought to myself, “Miracles never cease.” Here was my husband, the love of my life, the father of my children, remembering our anniversary for the first time in 30 years and taking the initiative to plan a date. This may sound like small potatoes but my husband has ADHD and he struggles with planning, initiating, remembering and other executive functioning skills.
He’s brilliant but he doesn’t always know what everybody else knows. He has trouble following conversations and hates to write things down, resists using a calendar and won’t wear a watch.
My husband can take the dog for a walk and come home without the dog. He’ll go to the store for milk and come home with everything but. He has no idea how to start our clothes dryer, or when our bills are due and he is always looking for his keys, glasses and wallet.
He is also the sweetest, most generous, hard working, kind and supportive person I know. Nobody makes me laugh more than him. He is always willing to help, go along with all my great and sometimes not so great ideas, apologize if he is wrong, and when his feelings get hurt he is quick to forgive.
The potential for an ADHD marriage to end in divorce is twice as likely than it is for non ADHD marriages. Poor communication and mistaking the symptoms of ADHD for indifference are contributing factors.
Here are a few communication strategies that have helped us stay together for 32 years.
- Never talk to the back of your partners head or mention something in passing unless you enjoy talking to yourself.
- Don’t assume your partner heard you the first time. Be nice and say things twice without getting angry.
- Check in during conversations and ask them to repeat what you told them.
- Make eye contact and maintain it when you speak to each other.
- Keep your sense of humor.
Over the years I have come to realize that my husband’s inattention and forgetfulness is not intentional and I’m sure he loves me.
As we celebrated our anniversary dinner I couldn’t help but ask, “How did you remember our anniversary?”
He answered,”I put it in my Google calendar and it reminded me.”
Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. Kathy is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at [email protected]