Captive to the Past

ADHD & Marriage - Weekly Marriage Tip - October 14, 2011

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“We must recognize the truth of our history without letting ourselves become captive to it. Our personal history should inform but not confine our present path.”

-Christopher Gergen

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Captive to the Past

Our unique personal history is how we got to our current “present path.” As such, it should certainly inform us. However, if we remain bound by that past then we assure that we will remain on the path we currently follow. For many struggling couples, that idea is too much to bear.

In order to free ourselves from the “captivity” of the past, my husband and I chose to create an “old relationship” and a “new relationship.” The old relationship is where the bad stuff happened. We acknowledge we did the best we could, but that we didn’t like the results. Our new relationship is the place where we make (and continue to make) the choices that will get us to a stronger love.

We refuse to be held captive by the old relationship interactions. Here are just a few of the specific ways we do this:

  • Acknowledge we did the best we could. No one needs to “pay a price” for the mistakes we made in the old relationship – this is a fresh start

  • Recognize that difficult emotions from the old relationship can be triggered in the new relationship but don’t warrant full scale war – my being angry with my husband, for example, still shakes him – but he quickly tells himself “that feeling is from the old relationship…I’ll deal with it constructively rather than lash back”

  • Seek loving solutions to our issues by engaging actively with each other and respectfully considering our partner’s opinion, even if we don’t initially like it.

  • Find new tools - particularly for couples contending with ADHD, finding new ways to do things that work well for those impacted by ADHD can really help create a new path.

Together, you can move away from being held captive by your past.

For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
If you or your spouse has ADHD, please join our forum at to ask your questions and learn from others who share your issues.  In addition, you'll find in-depth essays to help you learn how to thrive in a marriage affected by ADHD.
Hope to hear from you there!
Melissa Orlov

© 2011 Melissa Orlov