Over the last couple of years 416 people in marriages affected by ADHD have answered our survey about their experiences and feelings. One of the questions we asked was “What gives you the greatest pleasure in your relationship?” We can sort this information a number of ways, but here is an overview of how our 70 respondents without ADD who are married to people with officially diagnosed ADD answered that question. I share these responses because too often worn-out posters suggest that there are no positives to be found in ADHD-affected relationships. Next week, I’ll share pleasures from the perspective of the ADD spouses married to non-ADD spouses.
The most common answers focused on spontaneity, laughter, fun and friendship. Some examples:
- Our playfulness. My ADHD husband has an incredible laugh that is absolutely infectious and he really knows how to play with real fun with me and with his adolescent daughter and young adult son.
- My husband is enthusiastic, energetic, and fun to be around.
- My husband who is ADD has such a fantastic ability to be funny. He has a wonderful way with words. Sometimes those words become negative but when they're funny, he's right up there with the best of comedians.
- I love to listen to my husband talk: he is so knowledgeable about so many things and is willing to share his ideas. He has a great sense of humor too.
- After over 15 years, we still talk all the time. We never run out of things to discuss, and even when we agree it's a pleasure to hear his perspective. Partly because of that, I love to spend time with my husband and still look forward to him getting home each night.
- Because of my husband's ADHD, he can still maintain the playfulness of a teenager and works well with being spontaneous.
My husband is my best friend. He makes me laugh.
- My mate is funny and creative. He is also very interesting because he loves to learn new things and share it with me.
I am married to a wonderful man with ADHD -- he has the most amazing verbal creativity and sense of humor. He energizes me every day.
Another positive area for many respondents had to do with partnership and intimacy:
- Feeling like you have a true partner to face problems and difficulties with. Enjoying the children with the only other person on the planet who feels as close to them as I do.
- He can be incredibly loving, in words and in physical expression…
- Romance and true love which is frequently expressed
- I like the attention he gives me when we are alone. He is very romantic and spontaneous, which I find very exciting.
- I find that having someone with which to share all of life's ups and downs with is one of the best aspects of marriage. I truly believe you need to be best friends and be able to maintain that type of relationship throughout the marriage. Your spouse should be the first person you call when you are happy , sad, stressed, etc.
These responses focused on family, including:
- The greatest pleasure in my marriage is knowing that I am loved by my husband and that I have two great kids and a daughter-in-law who I get along well with.
- Our family unit. The special time we have just the five of us enjoying life, whether it be in the yard or on the boat.
My husband and I met walking home from high school. We have so many wonderful memories to share. We have a three terrific children and enjoy watching them grow-up.
I find it interesting and inspiring that so many of these quotes (and there are more) place such emphasis on the friendship between partners. If you are thinking about what area of your relationship to work on next, consider activities that strengthen your bonds as friends.
P.S. We've "closed" this survey, but will post another this Fall to get at more of your issues. I'll announce it when it's ready.