“…we Americans are problem solvers. But that’s one of the things you go and learn by the second half of life. A lot of the so-called ‘problems’ you thought were yours to solve are yours to hold.”
- Fr. Richard Rohr
As early as elementary school I was a problem solver and manager, and it is still so. So when confronted with the problems in my marriage, I got right to work – trying to assess the issues and solve the problems. Unfortunately, when undiagnosed ADHD is on board, this simply doesn’t work. In part this is because you don’t actually know what the problem is. My husband’s ADHD was undiagnosed, so his distraction, lack of follow through, and complete disregard for the mess around him seemed as if they were about ‘not caring’ rather than ADHD.
But the other reason solving the ADHD problem doesn’t work when you aren’t the ADHD partner is, as Rohr points out, that those issues aren’t yours to solve. Sure, they impact you – a lot. But you cannot change an ADHD partner – and you can’t solve the problems your partner faces – only s/he can do that.
What you an do is ‘hold’ these issues. Respect them. Learn about them. Be curious without being intrusive. Support your partner’s efforts. Be empathetic when things don’t go as you (or your partner) expect.
Am I suggesting you give up on your own dreams as you ‘hold’ the issue of ADHD? Not at all. I’m suggesting that the best way to get to a happy place for yourself is to be a partner around ADHD issues, rather than an adversary or a ‘fixer.’
It took me a long time to get to the empathetic place I now am with my husband, but I hope you will be able to get there more quickly now that more is known about how to live happily when one or both of you has ADHD.
Adult ADHD can have a huge impact on your relationship. adhdmarriage.com, can literally change your life! Find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD 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.
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