“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I have begun to change myself.”
-Persian poet, Rumi
You can only change yourself, not your partner.
That is one of the hardest lessons many learn after they get into a committed relationship. When we are young we may think ‘things will work out somehow.’ We have the space in our lives to put aside annoyances. The newness of our relationships, combined with the dopamine increases of infatuation, make everything seem rosy.
Then life happens. You add responsibilities, such as a home or children. Two jobs. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and you need more assistance. ADHD, particularly if it’s undermanaged, starts to get in the way as the ADHD partner struggles to follow through on his or her promises.
This is where non-ADHD partners start to make their gravest relationship mistakes. They think ‘I can just do this- it will be faster’ or ‘if I push hard enough (or remind often enough), my partner will surely follow through.’ Without realizing it, they start to try changing their partner. It never works.
You can successfully invite your partner to change. And hopefully, because your partner wants relationship success as much as you do, your partner will work with you to improve what is troubling your relationship.
But the wisest path is to focus on yourself. Don’t misunderstand. You CANNOT change a relationship by yourself. Your partner MUST be actively engaged. But what you can do is make sure your own contribution is the best it can be.
Figure out how to express anger constructively, rather than yelling or insulting. Figure out how to see your partner as a person you love, who has behaviors you don’t love, so you can request behavior change without insulting the person. Reflect upon your values, so you don’t stray from who you really are.
You have control over you, and no one else. What would be wise for you to change today?
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