Unbeknownst to me, most of my adult life has been impacted by ADHD. I signed on to a dramatic history. My (ADHD) husband was an only child raised by an undiagnosed ADHD single mother who was wholly unequipped. He grew up with an alcoholic, drug addicted, suicidal, unpredictable mother. Sadly, she died alone, estranged from her son and only grandchild, never having gotten an ADHD diagnosis despite having seen many psychologists and psychiatrists. We also survived my husband's own drug addiction (which he bravely and successfully fought). [I share that history to emphasize the terrible impact undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can have.] We finally figured out the family history when our first child was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago. From the beginning (over 11 year ago) we described ourselves as soul mates, but suffice it to say, we have engaged in all the dysfunctional behaviors described in the books, and I have lived an emotional roller coaster including pretty much every experience and feeling expressed by all the non-ADHD spouses. Somehow, despite the horrible vicious fights, anger, hopelessness, exhaustion, I kept picking myself up, dusting off and trying again. (I think that rebound was a lot easier for my husband than it was for me.)
How did we survive and maintain enough optimism to tip the scales in favor of our relationship? Remembering what made us love each other in the first place. Mentally revisiting the memory of the person who was so wonderful gave me hope, every time. It was our anchor. Even though we eventually stumbled on some decent skills on our own, Melissa Orlov's books (The ADHD Effect on Marriage and The Couples Guide to Thriving with ADHD) have helped us more than I can explain. Now, we can understand and change what's been going wrong, and make it more than just sheer optimism and determination. We can discard the burdensome emotional baggage we have been carrying and actually make things better. (It is a work in progress.) My sincere thanks to Melissa Orlov for digging deep and sharing it with us.