“…not only must all but one side lose in any competition, but humans seem hard-wired to feel the pain of a loss more keenly than the pleasure of a win. This phenomenon is called ‘loss aversion' and crops up in many areas of life.”
- The Economist, 4-6-19
Competition between you and your partner can be fun under the right circumstances (for example, in sports you are playing) but in general, isn’t very helpful in a relationship. It sets us apart, and one person feels pain when ‘vanquished’ by the other.
And yet in many ADHD/non-ADHD partnerships, there is a great deal of competition – over who will be in control and whose way will prevail. You see this writ large in the parent/child dynamic, and the pain of the ‘loss’ (i.e. being in the child-like, losing role in that equation) can lead to behaviors that reflect that pain – rebellion; anger; retreat; passive/aggressive retorts; subversion and more.
Because non-ADHD partners are thinking about ‘getting things done’ rather than the pain created in parent/child dynamics, they often don’t understand these responses or think of them as irrational or immature. Sadly, they are all too rational, even though they are not particularly helpful. (The non-ADHD partner also suffers in this dynamic, though that’s not the topic of this tip.)
If you and your partner are trapped in parent/child dynamics, I urge you (beg you?) to act now to move away from parent/child dynamics as quickly as you can. My couples seminar, if you haven’t taken it, can help. So can a therapist who understands ADHD. The bottom line is you must move away from fighting over whose way will prevail if you are going to stop inflicting pain on each other and start to thrive.
For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
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!
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 next live session begins in October.