Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

Re: Are there stratagies for sucessful marriages?

Re: Are there stratagies for sucessful marriages?2010-09-06T19:37:35+00:00

The Forums Forums For The Non-ADD I Married An ADDer Are there stratagies for sucessful marriages? Re: Are there stratagies for sucessful marriages?


Patte Rosebank
Post count: 1517

@A3d, take a look at the “Straight Answers” category in the “Videos” section of this website. It has several videos dealing with relationships. Some are funny. Some have the most up-to-date clinical information. All will help you to understand your husband’s ADD, so the two of you can work together on coping strategies for that 10% of the time when it causes problems. http://totallyadd.com/difference-diagnosis-makes/

I understand how frustrated and hurt you are. People with ADD/ADHD tend to have a history of difficult relationships, because of exactly the sort of things you describe. I’ve seen them between my parents (Mom has ADHD), and I’ve experienced them myself. Heck, Mom’s ADHD sometimes drives me crazy, and I have ADHD too!

First, I need to clarify something. Maybe it’s your frustration, but it sounds as if you feel that ADD is a failure to exercise (or remember to exercise) self-control. As though it’s something your husband could do, if he’d just try harder.

ADD isn’t a matter of “understands the rules, but lacks the self-control to follow them”. It is a genuine difference in the brain. Specifically, the right pre-frontal cortex is not being properly stimulated, so it isn’t firing properly. This is the part of the brain responsible for the executive functions of judgment and control. And for filtering out the important information from all the unimportant information that’s coming at us—just like someone with Asperger’s. It’s not that those with ADD have a filter but forget to use it; it’s that our filter is not fully developed. We can no more choose to make it work better, than a blind man can choose to see. I know you just want to scream at your husband to stop being so unreasonable. But I can guarantee you that he’s screaming it at himself far louder than you ever could, even though you can’t hear it.

Adults with ADD really internalize things, because we’re so used to misunderstandings that we’re afraid to open up to someone else, especially someone so close to us. We have no trouble at all with engaging a huge group of strangers whom we may never see again, but have a terrible time with close, personal relationships. This makes us seem emotionally distant, but we actually care very much.

You see, we’re so used to being blamed for our frequent screw-ups, that when others aren’t blaming us, we blame ourselves. We’re so creative, and so caring, but all we remember is the criticism, never the praise. And if someone does praise us, we feel like, any moment, they’ll discover that we’re a fraud and don’t deserve that praise, or any of the good things that happen to us. Your husband knows that you and your children are the very best things that ever happened to him. But he sometimes fears that he doesn’t deserve all of you.

Is he on any sort of medication for his ADD? Medication is just a treatment to help control the symptoms of ADD (which is incurable), but by controlling them, it makes it easier to make the behavioural and organizational changes that will help smooth out the difficulties, and make the most of the good points. You and your husband will need to make these changes together. If your children are old enough, they can help too!

Here are a few things you can do:

People with ADD really need structure. It helps us to focus, and to get things done. We thrive on immediate gratification, and tend to put off anything with delayed gratification, or requiring a lot of intensive, long thinking because it’s so hard for us. So work together to set up a system/schedule for yourselves, using similar methods as you’d use for your children.

Break big tasks up into smaller chunks that can be fairly quickly and easily accomplished. Instead of asking him to, “Clean out the garage,” divide the garage up into several areas, and ask him to spend half an hour tidying up just the first area, or helping you to tidy up the first area. After all, it’s just a small area, and it’s just half an hour. When it’s done, let him know that you really appreciate his help, and then move on to something totally different.

Time management is also an issue for us, so it’s helpful to set a timer, so that your husband can focus on the task at hand. A timer also makes it easier to ensure he leaves on time for appointments or to catch a train, as well as preventing him from spending six hours on the computer without being aware of it.

If you ask him to do multiple things, write them down in a list. We have trouble remembering more than a couple of things at a time. Especially when someone is telling them to us. Or when we go shopping. For that, we absolutely need a list; otherwise, we’ll come home with a carload of stuff we didn’t need, and forget the thing we’d gone out to get in the first place!

Big wall calendars & charts help too. If something is up there, we know it’s important, and we know when it has to be done, and there it is, staring us in the face, saying, “Get on with it!”. This is also great for helping us to remember recurring tasks, like taking it in turns to tend to the baby during the night, and to get the kids ready in the morning. If you schedule your “duty roster” ahead of time, it’ll make it much less stressful for both of you, because you won’t have to sort it out when you’re half-asleep and exhausted.

I hope this helps both of you. You have three very stressful things going on in your relationship right now: young children, a new baby, and your husband’s ADD. You’re on the right track in saying that 90% of the time, things are great. Just keep reminding yourself that your husband is trying really hard; it’s just that his brain is different. And that, if you work together, your lives will be much, much better.