We learned husband has diagnosed ADD 17 years in, I seem ok. By then we were on our #4 round of counseling and I shared this elsewhere, we are now on our 5th.. I want to share tools we used to cope long before we knew of it. I had been working part time as an organizer before we married, this was a huge help. Find help if you can't do it. Also previous to marriage I had been his boss at full time job so I knew him in a different area of our lives. He went on to a better job and we married a couple years later. He was often angry at me for these gentle suggestions but I would negotiate to try it 3x and if it doesn't work we move on. I had to remind him to try. I did not condemn fails and looked for other ideas. I felt for sure I'd married the absent minded professor and needed to put systems in place for when we get older. I needed things to be second nature in case life became more complicated and it has. Be comfortable with the negotiation, some worked, some didn't. Incremental progress is key. I introduced things slowly to promote success in the business part of our lives. Note that we do not have children so if you have children you will need to teach them these boundaries to get the rewards.
Praise and recognition: Early on I noticed my husband would beat himself up over things he'd forgotten even though he is high functioning with a very good job. All his focus goes to that job. I would tell him I appreciate it. I tell him thank you as often as I could and still be sincere. I realized that we all want to be someone's hero.
Reduce stress/distractions: Crowds, noise, small children bother him. We carry foam ear plugs with us and he now has earphones w/ calming music so he can tune out that external stimuli. Background music such as things by Sonic Aid both to calm and for focus. We also use an earplug at the dentist, doctors, tax person-situations wh/ have stress. A sleep machine from Bed,Bath & Beyond to help with sleep issues, same music each night to train brain. Homeopathic such as Hylands or Melatonin to help w/ sleep. He takes guitar lessons online (a Groupon) so as to tune out, focus on something and not have a time deadline (causes stress). Wireless headphones for the tv. 30 minute warnings for departures, 5 minutes out the door. The person needs a time to calm their mind. He uses music or kitten videos and I use music or mediation. I noticed he was calmer when he joined me for yoga, like within a week he was calmer. He didn't like the class (deadline) so we got him a video. Sometimes he just lies there on the mat and listens to the music...still helps. We buy cards bulk and set up 1 week alarm to reduce the stress of sending a card. This includes cards to me but it is up to him to send them (see errands note). Naps of even 30 minutes are good. Smells distract so less scents in the house, no perfume. Ex. a match in the bathroom vs. an air freshener We found vanilla to be a calming smell for him.
Simplify life: auto pay bills, live in a small space, rent until you get a grip on things, don't introduce kids, plants or pets until you are functioning as a team. Even things such as only 5 pairs of pants vs. 10 is better, more choices is overwhelming in every area of the environment. A job w/ a uniform helps. Create standard passwords (he always changes as forgot them). Created separate emails to avoid his signing up for stuff. get any bills via email or online billing so the paper is not lost.
Structure: We have a morning routine and evening routine. If we don't have this routine 30 minutes will take 3 hours. AM (sans PC or phone-make breakfast, put away dishes, wash face, brush teeth, hair goop, get out of jammies) PM (stop technology 1 hr prior, shower, brush, jammies, good deeds of the day, not good deeds mention to deal in the morning-release that guilt before bed) We agree before bed the time of the morning alarm. I set a back up.
We went through lots of devices but eventually found that a form of electronic calendar works good & syncs to my PC and a to-do list he can cross things off. Every morning after breakfast we go over what will be the agenda for that day and he writes numbers as to priority and letters for the order to complete. Leave room for notes/follow up. As long as he has done something I tell him I appreciate it. If he is having a rough day I check in and offer help to get him on track again.
I put labels on lots of things in the house. This not only help him find things (less stress) but also helped him put things away. I set up the paper filing system, we reviewed it and emailed him a hint sheet. I have scanned copies of all legal documents, licenses, passports and this has saved us many times.
I tried to figure out what house chore he enjoys. Turns out grocery shopping because he loves shopping and cooking. We must have a list and I must remind him not to buy anything other than the list. About 1x month I go with him and it takes 2 hours bec. we are not sticking to the list. When we run out of something it must go on the list or he will have to go to the store whenever something pops into his head. We have to agree that meal prep will only take 30 minutes or it will take 2 hours and the kitchen will be destroyed. Once a week he cooks as therapy. We make steal cut oats which easily keep a week in the fridge, breakfast done, change up toppings. We make a soup of the week. This eliminates 2 meal prep times. I would be very uncomfortable with him going to Whole Foods on his own $$$$.
My pace is much higher than his, that alone causes stress. We have a free days or jammie day which he is on his own time frame. These are discussed after dinner....are we caught up on things enough for a jammie day? Just the act of getting married (keep it simple) and being married was stressful on a whole different level.
Laundry is an issue. He has the need to reorganize his dresser every time he has to put clothing away. This is overwhelming and then nothing is put away. I put a laundry basket in his closet. I put clean laundry in it so as to not wait for it to be put away. Any laundry that is on the floor or other non storage location also goes in there so I don't have to look at it. It took a few times but when he thought he had clean socks to get out of that basket and had nasties his dirty ones somehow made it to the dirty clothes basket.
We only run errands on certain days of the week. This frees his brain and mine about things such as what day to take care of dry cleaning or groceries. We try to set doctors appointments the same way. Anything I can do to encourage him to participate is good. We cannot buy things without getting rid of things because he is an impulse shopper. He has to be responsible for getting rid of the items...this curbed the shopping.
Money: I am in charge of bills/finances and I give him a briefing monthly so he is not excluded. We use Quicken but anything with visuals will help. We set a limit on the amount to spend without contacting the other. It isn't permission it is a discussion. I seldom say no but that one step eliminated a lot of impulse spending. We set up an account and ATM for him to use. We agreed on the amount that is put into that account. He does have back up cards but they are back up cards. For some this may seem controlling but realize he told me he was going to buy a bicycle and called me at 2am to discuss how he wanted to buy a boat. I've had to sell two vehicles bought on impulse. It isn't control it is to delay the impulsive spending and it works much better to have an agreement up front. We put all paperwork into one place. I'm normally the one to process it but at least I'm not looking for a lost receipt for insurance or taxes. I scan/toss everything. Just for piece of mind establish credit in both names. We have joint cards with him as primary and one w/ me as primary.
Household chores: He has the option to say no but I have the obligation to ask not expect. I keep it to things that can be done in the now. "Would you change that light bulb? I"m too short." "Who is going to make dinner?" "Who is going to do the dishes?"
Addictive behavior: I'd noticed that drinking every day was too easy, socially too many. Internet could suck up hours of time. With smart phones and FaceBook those have become issues.
Exercise: It needs to happen every day, an hour is great for mood and confidence. Hanging out w/ friends at Crossfit for an hour every time is not. This has also become almost addictive.
We read a lot of books trying to help our relationship. Right away I thought he was passive aggressive. Sabotage, co dependency, healthy marriages... Then for years I dealt with anxiety and depression (still do). One thing I learned is that if he read them first he was the authority correcting me, if I read them he was angry. Conclusion was that knowledge must be shared maybe a chapter at a time so that perceptions can be discussed and it not be used as a weapon against me.
Don't get me wrong while we learned to get a grip on these things there are many more emotionally things we do not. Shortly after he was diagnosed I developed serious stress based health problems and that has been a defining moment for me. Two years of many medical tests and personal work led me back to the marriage, I must change my life. Please don't ever neglect your physical or mental health.