“Have you ever noticed how bad it feels when someone tells you how you should be feeling? Or, worse, that you should not be feeling a certain way? Those shoulds and shouldn’ts tend to come with plenty of guilt, a hearty dose of disappointment, and a fair amount of inadequacy. It can make us feel like it’s just one more thing we’re doing wrong"
- From the book Parenting ADHD Now!
Are You Waving a Red Flag?
It’s easy to disregard another person’s feelings, particularly if we can’t imagine feeling that way in the same situation. Here are some examples from my own past:
Me: “I’m feeling lonely and unloved.”
Him: “But you shouldn’t. Of course I love you.”
Him: “I don’t (feel I) want to do that right now.”
Me: “Well you should! It’s important!”
The words “should” and “shouldn’t” are big red flags waving in your relationship. Any time you hear them, back up and examine what just happened. Because the reality is we each get to set the direction of our own lives. NO ONE else should (!) be trying to dictate either feelings or actions. We all define our own lives, for better or for worse.
That was a hard idea for me to wrap my mind around when I was feeling as if ADHD was stomping all over my life. I didn’t feel at all as if I was defining my life. But I was. It was my choice to stay. It was my choice to pursue my husband and demand he shape up rather than find a counselor to help us work through our differences. Likewise, it was his choice to ignore (and then resist) me. His choice to shut me out rather than engage.
I wish, rather than tell my husband what he should or shouldn’t do and what he should or shouldn’t feel, that I had focused on my own actions and feelings. If we had both done so, I’m convinced we would have had far fewer years of struggle.
Are you trying to dictate what your partner should or should not feel or do?
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; Referrals. Adult ADHD can have a huge impact on your relationship. ADHDmarriage.com can literally change your life!
Seminars and Groups
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. The Live session starts January 15, 2019.
Support Tele-groups - Be part of a community exploring similar issues; learn from each other's successes and struggles; and find new, more effective ways to be your best self in your relationship: Non ADHD Partner Support Tele-group and ADHD Partner Support Tele-Group both run 8 consecutive Tuesdays @ 8:30pm EDT, 1/15 - 3/5, 2019