Yes I am Divorced...

I have shared the news of my April, 2022 divorce with those taking my programs, but have not blogged about it until now.  I wasn’t hiding, but I did want some time to get on my feet and to figure out whether, and how, my divorce might impact the work that I do with couples impacted by ADHD.

You may have questions.  Weren’t you happy?  Doing well?  Were you lying to us?  If you ended up divorced is there any hope for my own marriage?  What happened?

First, the most important answer.  Absolutely, there is most certainly hope for your relationship, particularly if you are both engaged in doing the work!  I’ve observed this firsthand.  Over and over.  Finding out about ADHD can change everything by providing a path out of your struggles.  My divorce doesn’t change your own chances of success at all.

As I reflect on what works, it is clear that improving knowledge about the patterns ADHD encourages in relationships, and finding tools you can both utilize to minimize or eliminate those patterns, are critical to improving one’s relationship. It is also clear that some couples have what I think of as a ‘core connection’.  Even if that connection is completely covered by struggles, once they both start doing the work needed to reengage positively with each other, that core love kicks in and moves them along.  It’s almost impossible to tell if that connection exists when couples start consulting…and yet, once they get going, there it is!

Conversely, if one of both partners refuse to engage with being their ‘best selves’ then not much changes and there is little likelihood of happiness.  That’s not about ADHD.  That is about willingness to see and own one’s contributions to a joint partnership, and act on what needs to be done to bring your best self forward.

Other factors are at play, as well.  Research suggests only about 16% of married couples impacted by an affair will make it, for example.  For couples who aren’t married, the rate of staying together is even lower. 

Many of you know my story.  I loved my partner deeply, and he me.  But, ultimately, he did not make the commitment to monogamy that I needed to feel loved and safe. 

Did ADHD play a factor?  In some ways, it probably did.  Reward-seeking, addictive tendencies and having difficulty facing the future outcome of one’s current actions are all associated with adult ADHD.  But there was also much more which, for the sake of my ex’s privacy, I will not go into.  And, even though the responsibility for our divorce remains asymmetrical, I contributed to our issues, particularly early in our relationship.  It takes two.

What does this mean for the work that I do for couples?  After all, one common message I hear is ‘your story gives me hope.’

The outcome of my marriage is, in fact, a success story.  No one should stay in a marriage in which one partner is egregiously disregarding the most fundamental needs of the other. Feelings of love do not erase the fact that in my situation, divorce was exactly the right choice.

My work has been impacted for the better, I think.  Let me give you just a few examples.  I now include more information about how to align one’s boundaries with one’s values.  This is an important part of aligning your own actions with what is most important to you as well as figuring out which battles are worth having.  For women, in particular, it can help you move out of a ‘caregiver’ or rescuer mode, both of which are destructive to your relationship.  I continue to focus on the idea that codependency, often in the parent/child dynamic, must be eliminated for both partners to be mentally healthy.

I also talk more about emotional dysregulation as a core part of ADHD (and what to do about it).  It’s almost impossible to improve a relationship chronically destabilized by volatility, lies or shame. 

And, when I believe either partner is in love with a ‘fantasy partner’ rather than their real partner, I spend more time urging them to see the partner and relationship they really have and use that as their starting point.

Of course, now I also have experienced the pain of continued deception and divorce, and the healing that must go on to recover from them both.  Not every couple will make it.  For better or worse, I now have at least one look at how ending a marriage feels from the inside out.

The effect that ADHD – and responses to ADHD - have on relationships continues to be huge.  My work continues to resonate and be effective for couples in which both partners are willing to engage, and I have the great privilege to continue in the field…helping couples and mental health professionals learn how to get struggling relationships back on track.


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