"Now You Have An Excuse"

I've lived with my girlfriend for a year, and we've been together for almost three years - so I hope you don't mind that I'm in ADHD and Marriage forum, even while we're not married.  Too much of the book resonated with me - and to be honest, we're more committed than a lot of married couples.  And if you ask me, ADHD (and all the fallout) is the thing that's keeping me from taking that next step.  I'd marry the woman I fell in love with in those first 6-12 months in a heartbeat.  I've also been diagnosed with ADHD since childhood (and have been taking medication for most of our time together, including recently) - but this is the first relationships I've been that is evolved to this level of closeness - and thus where these problems are growing.

We have all the symptoms of the ADHD couple - parent-child relationship, constant nagging leading to resentment and lack of sexual energy, etc., etc.  "You don't care, you aren't trying" vs. "I do care, I'm trying so hard" vs. "You say you do, but you always take so many shortcuts" (and so on).  Her being embarrassed to bring me to social functions because I might blurt something out or be unable to sit still (I'm reluctant to bring her to visit my parents because she gets so upset about things I say without thinking).  "You never pay attention until I get really mad".  "Why don't you remember?!".  On our second date I told her "I love you" meaning "You're so cool/awesome" - but not thinking about what those words might mean that early in the relationship until after I said them.

Anyway after an ADHD event we went to on Saturday (by the totallyadd.com people), my eyes were re-opened to the idea that ADHD might be a big factor in our relationship - and that, furthermore, medication alone was not going to fix it (previously, if I felt I was "Too ADD", I'd talk to my doctor and try and get a stronger dose, or try a supplement, or etc).  As I thought back several days in the past week had been ruined by ADHD-type failures.  Most notably me itching, squirming, and just not sitting still at a lecture we attended together, much to her embarrassment.

Nearly all of our fights start with ADHD somehow.  Our first fights started out when I said something careless or impulsive.  We never have fights over fundamental issues.  We love a lot of the same activities and love traveling together (although that is sometimes a recipe for trouble; less sleep means less tolerance on her part and more ADHD on mine).   We always seem to want the same things, in other words - but still we fight.  We fight over nothing.  Yet we have so much love for each other.  

Sorry about all the back story, on to the meat of the problem.

When I talked to her about this, she seemed to think this wasn't such a great thing.  "Now you have an excuse", she said (if not those exact words).  How do I answer that?  "Getting upset with you is the only way to get you to pay attention and actually do it!" she said.  I don't have an answer to that.  And it's not the first time I've heard those words.

She is willing to work with me on some things, for instance, one of the things that came out of the Saturday conference was a schedule for picking up - one day, one place, at a time.  Small tasks.  She realized that if she puts "clean up my room" on the calendar, it'll never get done (except the very rare hyper-foucs binge).  

So really, I think she can be brought around and with lifestyle changes (and NOT just meds) things can be better between us.  But how do I get past that basic viewpoint - that ADHD is an "excuse"?  Not that she denies it, she believes it is real.  But in her mind that just lets me get away with even more - I can say to myself "oops, ADD did it!" whenever I let her down.  

I wouldn't be asking if I didn't kind of feel the same way too.  If I don't have her nagging how can I get things done?   It's one thing living by myself and staying afloat, another to live in a satisfying relationship. And what if this is something difficult she'll always have to deal with - and no amount of diet, exercise, and medication will ever cure it?

What happens when, say, we have a plan that's going pretty well and then "oops" - I "fall off the wagon"?  What if we make a nice, visible list of things to do - but oops, my horrible time estimation came in, and I spent way too long playing my game, on the internet, whatever?

It's enough that sometimes I think I should just be single forever. I could have a stream of new partners (satisfying my demand for novelty) without ever having them get close enough to me to expect a lot.   So they would never have to be let down.

I don't quite understand "lifestyle changes" - I am so poor at following through with things over a long time, how can I really expect to?  I've gone on organizational binges in the past (for instance I went on a "Getting Things Done" binge) but they don't stick.  I have visions of things like our cleaning calendar eventually getting ignored - one day, I'm too tired, the next I'm too busy, then it's just out of my mind and on with whatever else.

If it is not just a medication issue (which is how I always treated it), and at least a moderate amount of ADHD will always exist, how can we live happily - or how can I live happily with anyone?  It's great to tell her to stop nagging me - I hate the nagging - but really how does that help her out?