Support to fiance with ADD

My fiance has ADD. He is loving, sweet and caring, yet impatient, impulsive and disorganized. I didnt understand him at first. But then we talked about ADD and how it caused him some problems at work before. He always tells me to be patient with him and that he promises to get better. My question is on how to give him the support he needs? And we have another issue: we have a communication problem. He tends to get aggressive and defensive eve if we're only chit chatting. I would like to avoid these tensions and help him focus more.

I need advice and some useful practical tips.

Communication Problems

It is great that your ADHD fiance is aware of his ADD issues and can see that ADD gets in his way at work.  Many with ADD have difficulty assessing that ADD does, in fact, impact them, so this is a good first step.  You don't mention in your email whether or not he is actively trying to treat either his ADD or his anger issues.  Treatment is an important part of overcoming what he is facing.  It is easy to say "I'll get better", and most ADD people do this because as far as I can see they are all eternal optimists about this.  BUT, thinking and DOING are two very different things, and for you and your impending marriage, DOING is where the rubber hits the road

SO...

  1. You need to talk with him in a supportive way, telling him how much you love him, but also helping him to see that not only does his ADD impact him, it also impacts YOU and your relationship.  It's not an issue of whether or not you should be patient, it's an issue of whether or not he can get some of the behavioral traits of ADD under control in a way that they don't ruin your relationship.  Specifically, he needs to figure out ways to address his anger so that the two of you can communicate in a reasonable and open way.  Communication isn't the only thing in a relationship, but it's pretty damned important for those in which ADD is a factor.
  2. Don't fall for the trap of thinking that you will be able to help him focus more without his making some changes.  You can help him find tactics that help him focus and remember things, but it is he who is ultimately responsible for his focusing.  I am happy to remind my husband to do things as a courtesy if he says he needs that, but I no longer think it is my job to keep him focused.  This has helped our marriage tremendously.  Good support in this arena is being ready with ideas that might help him when he asks for them, but never taking over the job of focusing him.
  3. Aggression/defensiveness can come from a number of places when one has ADD - it can come from feelings of shame about the ADD, or it can come from a lack of ability to inhibit responses (an ADD symptom).  In your fiance's case, I'm wondering if it's the latter, which would suggest that he could make improvement in this area with good treatment for his ADD.  Target this as something that you would like to see treatment improve...it certainly can.  You and he should both know that if he is having trouble with this with you, he is also most certainly having trouble with this same thing at work...so treating it will help him in both arenas.
  4. Make sure to stand up for what you need as a soon to be spouse.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because he has ADD you need to become his caretaker, or become someone who caters to his ADD all the time.  Yes, you both need to take it into account, but his responsibility isn't to ask you to behave differently but, rather, to identify and then address those symptoms that are interfering most with your lives.  He can (and hopefully will) do this with your input and help, because you can tell him what hurts you most, which he can then take as input about what most needs addressing.  He will never become a non-ADD person, and that shouldn't be your goal, so you will need to meet in the middle, with care and compassion.  And that is how you can help him - be compassionate, but with firm boundaries.  He DOES need to understand that "trying harder" and "doing better" are not the same thing for you individually, and for you as a couple.  Your compassion comes in to help you draw some lines (you should never be in a position, for example, where you are dictating who he should be as a person, only communicating what you need as a partner in a relationship...which is quite different).
  5. Remember that you, too, will need to make sure that your actions help the partnership you are developing.  He needs to make adjustments in how he communicates.  You will also need to make adjustments in how you live together, particularly I find that what you are willing to "tolerate" (I HATE that word!) is an important issue.  The more flexible you can be with HOW things get done and WHEN they get done, the better you will both be.  Also, you will want to examine WHAT you think isimportant to get done.  As you live together longer, and tasks become more central to your marriage, you'll want to make sure that you don't request that certain things get done just because they've all been done that way.  Put another way, my house is considerably messier than my mother's ever was...and that's okay.  I like to think of it as feeling "lived in".  I always ask myself "is this THING more important than my RELATIONSHIP with my spouse or child?"  Sometimes the thing does win, but most of the time I put the relationship first.

Keep us up to speed on your progress!

Melissa