Orlov and Hallowell Now Blogging for Psychology Today, Too

Dr. Ned Hallowell and I have both been asked by the editors of Psychology Today to join their ranks of bloggers.  Today I created my first post there, titled "ADHD Isn't Just for Kids - Adults Feel Big Impact in Marriage."  It's an overview to introduce readers to the basics of why one should be paying attention to adult ADHD.  For those of you who have "curious minds," take a peek at the wide variety of offerings at the Psychology Today site home page - some very interesting ideas explored there.

Comments

divorce

Hi Melissa,

     I hope I'm not disrupting the flow of things. I just discovered your new book, and now have a little hope that my ex-wife might buy into all this. We've been divorced for 5 months now. I'm not sure if she would even bother to read your book. Is there anything I could say to her that might get her to give it a chance?

giving you a chance

You don't give me much information to go on, but I'm assuming that what you are really looking for is for her to give you a chance, and the book is a way that you hope she can understand you better?  Your best option would be, then, to fully address whatever issues you have/had and to become the best person you can be.  (Do this for yourself, not for her!)  If you are the ADHD spouse, do all you can to actively manage your ADHD symptoms (see my chapter on the three legs of treatment).  It is possible, though not likely, that your ex-wife will notice the changes and be more receptive to talking with you in a way that you find fulfilling.

divorce

I told my wife about your new book but she flatly refuses to look at it. Do you think that by looking at it, she might gain a better understanding? And if so, how do I get her to try?

fuzzylogic72's picture

It takes more than good intentions...(for both)

I can understand your frustration, but when you said that you have little hope that your wife will buy into it, it struck a chord with me. I am one half of the equation of the adhd/non-adhd relationship 'struggle' (I use quotes, because while both sides can regard it as a struggle, it does not have to be, and should not be regarded as a struggle. It should be regarded as a <hopefully successful> venture between two people in a loving partnership).

Anyways, having "little hope" is something that us adhd-ers sniff out in our partners like a bloodhound. We have spent our lives surrounded by people who have GOOD INTENTIONS, BUT LITTLE HOPE for us. We have even less hope for ourselves than most who know us, to ever be worthy or normal. So be careful about what you are projecting as well; I'm sure she picks up on the lack of faith (although I do understand how and why your faith could be weakened from the emotional marathon of dealing with people like us.)

Disclaimer: if you have clearly communicated your understanding, and dedication to making it work (to her... over and over and over again, because that's unfortunately what we need), and she states in WORDS (on more than one occasion, and not while drunk) that she is not open to trying to work on herself, then take it from a difficult (but dedicated) adhd-er: get out. Now. (and I'm normally of the opinion that the non-adhd-er is the one who gives up on the relationship too early; but I know from painful experience that this path is a two-way street. Not changing overnight is one thing, but not TRYING, or ACKNOWLEDGING, or VALIDATING the efforts of their partner is grounds, even to a dedicated adhd-er, to get on with your life and find someone who is willing to make an effort (which often may seem like minor efforts to the outsider) of BASIC reciprocity on some level.

That's my 2 cents. I hope it works for the two of you...

 

EDIT: Haha; I just re-read Melissa's response, and then your post and realised that for some reason I just assumed that you are the non-adhd partner, trying to get your partner to engage in this quest. If so, then what I said above stands. If you are the adhd one, and she is not, and she STATES that she is not, or no longer, or doesn't know if she can/wants to work on it, then same thing goes (get out, and find someone who is willing to make the effort; your self-esteem and your future will thank you).

he's already out...

If you read his comment even more closely you will see that he is already out - he's been divorced for 5 months - and that this issue is whether or not he can get back in...and what sort of "partnership" they will have in the future.

divorce

I thought that the whole point of this book was to make things "possible". Couldn't part of the process be what it takes to get your partner to buy in? She says she still cares about me.  

fuzzylogic72's picture

cares

She still cares about you, and probably always will. Has she told you that she is still IN love with you? If not, then ask. It's a simple question, and without a yes, then your options are simple. I recently read that "Love is a verb", and that made so much sense to me. Someone can talk until they're blue in the face, and say all the right words, but if there are no quantifiable actions that indicate the truth of those words, then it might not be the love you need. i.e., saying "I love you", "i'm sorry, I understand you, i'll try to be better" sounds great, but staying up until 2am reading, researching anything possible that might help us to become a better person and partner, buying and reading every book, making your own appointments to go to specialists, therapists, etc. to try to change..... these things 'say' I love you a LOT more than words. Like when someone says, "I understand you have adhd, but you CHOSE to play videogames for a half an hour instead of calling me when you got home, and that hurts me; it shows videogames are your priority and i'm not important to you... that HURTS me, and you don't GET that..." it shows that the words "I understand adhd", or "I get you have this condition" really amount to lip-service, because that apparent knowledge doesn't translate into any action (flexibility, benefit of the doubt, re-thinking reactions etc.); furthermore, it shows that they probably haven't done much researching about adhd, and really don't know much about it other than how it impacts them.

It's a two way street and no one person is entirely guilty or innocent. We both have to do our part, and whoever refuses to do their part refuses to practice true love, and it's not a good match for either person.

Two people going down on a sinking ship could be a romantic tragedy (but still romantic), but going down on a sinking ship when the other person has jumped into the lifeboat isn't such a good idea. We have to realize that before we hit the bottom and realize we're alone (this can apply to EITHER person--- don't think I'm sympathizing with only adhers.

divorce

Melissa,

Can you make a reply from my last comment about how the book is supposed to provide a solution to our concerns?

fuzzylogic72's picture

good question

I just bought this book for my g/f and I to try to sort things out (she had a rather limited understanding of the condition). And the first thing I hear is the "hm" (as in, "aha, so I Am the victim; I knew it", as she flips through to all the (many) parts that take the non adhd person's sides and paint us to be a nuisance, like a suitcase without wheels. I would love to read a book FROM and FOR the adhd person. This one does try to be objective, but a lot of the descriptions of adhd behavior are over-simplified and make us all look like overgrown children, and the non-adhd partner to be innocent, which is certainly not reality. It's not all bashing though, there are a few points of empathy in it. It's good for someone who doesn't understand adhd, and is in a place of resentment and anger, and it should help to pull them out of that (while strangely justifying it at the same time). I'll probably change my mind if any ood conversations come out of it, but all I can see now is her saying, "see, this is right, this is me..and this is YOU; now do you see how hard it's been on me" 

I think you are talking about

I think you are talking about the Marriage and ADHD book - right?  I have read most of it and I think it does a pretty good job in describing how the non-ADHD spouse can be part of the problem and the solutions as well.  However when you read it you probably have to be somewhat open to that idea or you may just gloss over that info if you are consumed by the idea that you're the victim of the ADHD spouse's behavior.   In another post I mentioned that I thought this book could be very good but might be difficult for some people to be grasp and embrace the concepts and put them to use (such as some here who are so bitter, angry and hurt).

fuzzylogic72's picture

You're right. We got over

You're right. We got over today's hurdle. The hardest part of dealing with these disagreements/conflicts is that whenever they happen and I hear how they can't do this, don't want to do this, and start packing up their things... it's FEELS like I'm just barely being tolerated, and one more mis-step of any kind will be a relationship killer, even little mis-communications. Like if you're training for a marathon with a running partner, and after two blocks they say, "I know how this is going to go, and I'm just not the 'marathon type' of person. Knowin that someone is committed to the end result, despite obatacles, makes it a lot easier to have the courae and confidence for me to keep trying.

fuzzylogic72's picture

correction

I wrote the above comment while upset; we 're talking about it now, and I am trying to step outside myself and try to discuss things. I'll try to see all sides and not be reactionary..

I think one way you might

I think one way you might possibly be going wrong is to deny 100% that your girlfriend IS a victim of your ADD. Until you are ready to accept FULL responsibility for how it has affected her WITHOUT expecting anything in return ("I will only admit to doing X, if you admit to doing Y") then you are still contributing to the problem as well. Healing and change comes with a complete acknowledgement by BOTH partners of the pain, frustration, hurt, and disappointment THEY have caused to the other and this has to be done for no other reason than because you WANT to change and be different from here on out. I get a sense, and God please forgive me if I am reading things wrong, that you're not willing to admit all you've done, hold yourself accountable, and stand before her with a genuine heart that is ready to change without expecting something in return. I know you don't like to feel it or hear it but everyone in these situations are victims to some degree...even those suffering from the ADD. Until you truly put yourself in her shoes and manage to feel remorse for what YOU have done then you won't truly be making 'real' changes that she'll respond to and believe in.

I am TRULY, with an honest, helpful heart trying to help you out here. I really do get the feeling you love this person and want to be a different person...one that you can be proud of and you want changes from her too. Perfectly acceptable...but coming from someone who isn't ADD, your defensiveness (of ADD, of those who are angry and blame ADD for all of their problems) just FEELS to me like you're not really .. 'there'..yet. I see you trying. I am giving you the same advice I gave myself over and over again..it applies to both parties in these relationships. My husband WAS a victim of my anger and my 'not understanding' (we didn't know about his ADD until years later)...but I was very much a victim of his ADD and other behaviors as well. Had we both not owned up to that, with NO expectations in return, then no change would have ever happened. I went to him one day, completely out of the blue...and I told him how sorry I was for keeping such a tight reign on his spending for so many years when he made plenty of money and how sorry I was for all of the fights we had over it because I freaked out and cussed about every thing he spent. I did not do it expecting him to apologize for his over spending. NEVER even crossed my mind. We were separated, getting along very poorly, and I was doing a lot of self-reflection. He sobbed. This was the beginning for us...and many months later..and many steps forward and a few too many backwards..I hear from him all of the time how sorry he is for everything he put me through, how his priorities were all wrong, how he is so thankful we are in a different place now, and how determined he is to get help and never hurt me like that again. He doesn't want to hear me reciprocate with the same...he just says it because he means it. Because he knows that I was a victim of his ADD...and that is a completely separate issue from what "I" contributed to the marriage. I do apologize as well and most importantly I am NOT the same angry person I was then.

I really do hope you can work through this...I can sympahize with your struggles...I saw them in my husband as well. I can also sympathize with your girlfriend. Really trying to be unbiased,  I hope you can feel that from my posts.

as she flips through to all

as she flips through to all the (many) parts that take the non adhd person's sides and paint us to be a nuisance, like a suitcase without wheels. I would love to read a book FROM and FOR the adhd person. This one does try to be objective, but a lot of the descriptions of adhd behavior are over-simplified and make us all look like overgrown children, and the non-adhd partner to be innocent, which is certainly not reality

Please understand..these negative thoughts you're expressing here..feeling like luggage..are YOUR thoughts. Chances are they are not anywhere near what she is feeling about you. A huge issue for me, for my husband to go off on a negative tangent in his head and somehow blame ME for what he's thinking when it isn't even close to what I think or feel. Please be careful when doing this, as you could ultimately set yourself up for failure. (she can't even stand being around me, so why bother?)

I haven't read the book yet so I can't comment on what it does or does not reflect about ADDers being over grown children, but again I would like to point out that it feels you're still far too defensive to be in a place to just throw yourself at this relationship, risking everything, finding the courage to just DO IT..for the right reasons. She may react cynically 40 times before she finally starts to trust you...but if you're still looking for HER fault in everything instead of focusing on your own 100% then you'll probably never get anywhere. You have to change because you want to be different...with or without her. If she appreciates it and changes too, great. If not you'll be in a better place for your next relationship. Stop focusing on what she is or isn't doing and focus on YOU. It really will help.

last comment

I'm sorry Melissa. I can't seem to find your last comment anywhere. Can you give it to me again. It was something about how you were waiting for me to address something that you had already mentioned.

Wife buy in

One of the ways that people use the book is to help both spouses "get on the same page" about how ADHD impacts their relationship and how each partner contributes to their issues, so it can certainly play that role in your life.  However, since you are divorced, it strikes me that it is possible that you and she are seeking different things, even if she says she still cares about you.  My husband used to say he loved me but wasn't "in love" with me, and what he meant was that while he cared, I was hell to live with (and he was right).  It took some significant change on my part to make it so that I was someone he loved to be with and could fall back in love with.  It may be that you wish her to read the book because you want her to love you more, while she is at a point where she is trying hard to put up boundaries that make sense to her and distance herself from the mutual problems that led to your divorce, so she is not very interested in reading something she thinks might encourage hope in you.

If couples are divorced but still interested in each other I usually tell them to use this time wisely.  You have natural and legal boundaries right now - what better time to take control of your own life?  In your case, that may well mean better managing your ADHD symptoms (I make this assumption based upon your recent divorce - I could be wrong here, you may have already done this).  This is something you want to do for YOU, regardless of what your ex-wife thinks.  And, in managing your symptoms optimally FOR YOU, then you may also pique her interest again (or not - I don't know your specific situation).

So, yes, it certainly wouldn't hurt your wife to read the book - she would learn some useful information about your relationship and understand what happened to the two of you .  But if you tie her reading the book to some of your own hopes that perhaps you might get back together again or become close in a way that makes her uncomfortable, then I think it's likely she'll continue to resist the idea.

getting over it

Hi Melissa. Thanks for all of your comments. They make good sense. In addition to having ADD I have also been diagnosed with having lost some brain cells that diminish my ability to make good judgements and also effect my memory. The doctor says I have a possible case of fronto-temporal dimentia. I have nearly ruled that out because I don't see any rapid increase in my symptoms, which would be the case with this type of dimentia.

Anyway, the reason I brought all this up is that I have met a Chinese doctor who believes he has herbs that will correct the lost brain cells, as well as treat the ADD. He claims that I only need to take the herbs for 6 months and that this will take care of it. He says I should see a difference after 2 months. I have now been taking them for 3 weeks. I'll let everyone know how it is going.

Blogs

Just read both of your blog entries and will be bookmarking this to read them as you post them! Thank you!!

Sherri