Bad Behavior

ADHD & Marriage News - August 29, 2019

Quote of the Week

“Bad behavior is the language of the wounded.  You can hate the behavior and still love the person.  That leaves room for forgiveness.”

-Jane Fonda

Bad Behavior

Recently I have been thinking about good people doing bad things and had a chance to reflect on my own experiences in this area.  In so doing I realized that in both my personal and professional life I have learned the benefits of liking or loving someone whose behavior indicates their pain, separating the person from the action, at least for a while.


This ability to separate person and actions is part of my personality, and part learned.  In my marriage there have been many times when I hated my husband’s behavior, yet still knew there was a good person beneath the acting out, loss of control, or defiance I was experiencing from him.  It took effort to identify the good person, determine my responses, and consider the benefit of forgiveness.


Forgiveness – and knowing someone is good – can only go so far, however.  If you just forgive over and over you become an enabler of poor behavior and also give up on your own needs.  Nothing much changes, and you become miserable.  So you must know your own values and limits, and stick to them, too.  Sometimes I have found journaling helped me explore which response to make that would most align with my values and defend my own rights, while also being compassionate towards another’s pain.

It is also important to understand your own limits.  How you respond to any person’s poor behavior is about you first, them second, and usually no one else.  You are not required to ‘teach’ that person how to do better, and I find it generally is a bad idea to try.  As one example, after I decided that I would prefer to work to see if I could stay with my husband rather than abandon the marriage due to an affair, my position was “I love you and would like to rebuild this relationship.  However, you are the one who must decide what it is that you want. I won’t stand in your way while you do this, but I expect full transparency.  And understand that there is only so long that I will be able to wait for you to figure it out.”

He did decide that what he really wanted was to be with me, not another, and together we healed that pain that had so wounded him.  Our lives are good, and filled with warmth and love.

It could have ended differently, and still could.  My husband knows where my compassion ends, and knows there are certain lines he cannot cross.  And that’s okay.  Forgiveness and compassion are not the same as being stupid.

Are there situations in which separating the good person from the bad behavior can help you find a more clear way to resolve conflict or injury in your own life?


My Upcoming live seminar and adhd and non-adhd groups start October 21st.  Learn more.

For those in marriages impacted by ADHD

You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at, 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. can literally change your life!  


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 October 21, 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 New Habit Coaching Group.

How to Optimize Treatment for Adult ADHD - go to the home page for a free download about the best ways to manage ADHD.

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© 2019 Melissa Orlov