“How we interact with and support each other affects the way we age. Compassion is critical."
- Elizabeth Blackburn, Researcher on Aging
One thing about compassion – only you are in charge of how compassionate you are. With ADHD-impacted couples, sustaining compassion can be difficult. Compassion takes focused attention, the ability to hear or notice the emotions of another, and the absence of anger.
Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell likes to call forgiveness “a gift we give to ourselves” and if Blackburn’s research is right, compassion is much like that. But how do couples get past ADHD symptomatic behaviors and responses to ADHD to a more compassionate relationship?
Here are three suggestions:
• Practice gratitude by taking time each day to write about what you are grateful for right then. This strengthens positive pathways in your brain.
• Set aside both ‘attend time’ (i.e. time to focus romantically just on each other with few distractions) and ‘discussion time.’ This last is at least one hour a week in which the only agenda is to listen to what is on your partner’s mind, and ask questions to understand it better
• Practice mindfulness – which over time will allow you both to resist jumping into a conversation before you have a moment to think about it
I’ve seen over and over that these strategies, when coupled with work on how to communicate calmly and manage ADHD symptoms really can create a much more compassionate relationship.
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including free:
- Online treatment overview;
- Downloadable chapters of my books;
- A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;
- A large number of blog posts on various topics;
Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships.