All you can do is stand firmly in your hopes for them, with compassion."
— Bryant McGill
One of the mistakes I made earlier in my marriage is that I tried to ‘improve’ my husband. In my mind, he did a whole lot of things wrong, and if I could only show him how to do them better, he would be ‘saved’ from his own worst instincts.
It didn’t work. And, in retrospect, I am amazed by the amount of hubris it took to even think that way.
Later, I learned to effect change in my own life in a different way – by having faith that my husband could, if he were genuinely interested, be different with me. That he could – and perhaps would – find a path that was ‘right’ for him, and also excellent for me. I needed to communicate my dreams for me – for us – and work with him to create a better future together. One that took his desires and approach into account in equal amounts to my own.
I learned to trust that if he wished to be a great partner, he could. For him, that meant taming the parts of his ADHD that got in the way of his being a good partner to anyone, including me. That’s not impossible, but it does take a lot of effort and he had to decide, from deep inside himself, that he really wanted to do it.
And, if he didn’t wish to be a partner whom I adored, then I had the ability to move on. In essence, I stood firmly in my hopes that he was actually the compassionate, caring, fun man I thought I had married and that he could get back to being that person if I, too, contributed my own ‘best self’ to our relationship.
It took a long time to get there and, ironically, one of the most helpful tools for me was coming to grips with the idea that I was NOT a victim. I made choices every day that directly impacted what my life looked like…including how to behave towards my partner, how to respond when I felt lonely or ADHD started to take over, what tasks to take on, how compassionate to be towards him and others…whether or not to seek to hold onto love or to give in to resentment.
You cannot save your partner from him or herself. And you cannot force your partner to change. You can only hold onto your dreams and values, treat your partner with compassion, support his or her attempts to live his/her best life, and see what happens. It’s not easy, but the result – that each of you ‘own’ your own life and make it what you genuinely want it to be, is worth it.
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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;
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 starts early 2019.