NON ADHD SPOUSE Working with their partner

by Stephanie Hurd in Non ADHD Spouse, Uncategorized
January 12, 2014 1 comment


Non-ADHD spouse, you have the hardest job ever and if you don’t think ADHD people notice this then I am sorry we don’t say it enough. Believe me, I brag about the wonderful husband I have often. I know the he does is great. I know that sometimes he wants me to help and I would outright say “I can’t”.

I know that this can be horrible to deal with over and over, “Not now” or, “Later!” No, that is not easy and I am most sorry that you have to deal with this day in and day out. It is complicated, on one hand you are overwhelmed and need help, on the other hand your partner in life can’t or just won’t help you.

My friends, I get you. I see my husband’s face and get so angry because I feel I can’t help him or I can’t start. I take it out on him at times and feel embarrassed that I cannot just do what he wishes how he wishes it. He has great problems expressing what he means. This makes things more complicated, as he leave a pile for me to work on and walks away thinking I’ll know what it means. When to me it looks like a household decoration, a new mountain that I can’t climb.

There are bouts of time where ADHD people will see your frustration and also realize their own. They see your woe, they see how much you do and want to help. The trouble is, they don’t always know where or how to start. If they are lucky enough to be able to develop a plan and work with you, try to see it as a blessing.

Why I say try to see it as a blessing is, often times we see the lack of help in the past instead of the help you are getting as of now. Yes, you wonder what happened? What lit a fire under their bum, why now and not the hundred other times that you asked them? I know this is hard but KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! ADHD people do not live in the past for the most part, they live in the now.

I am aware of your feelings. However, one thing that one bit of bringing back all the past events may just crush them or revert them back into the state where they can’t or won’t help. Maybe instead journal about how it made you feel. That way you get it out but you don’t aim all your frustrations at them

When your ADHD spouse is cleaning, Avoid statements like…

How come you…? This is a statement that has hurt me for years. How come you can focus on editing a picture for hours but you can’t focus on cleaning for fifteen minutes? Answer: we don’t know. One provides more results than the other. Cleaning can be rewarding. The house looks good, I can create more and I feel more peace. However, I often see it become re-cluttered or things in two/three rooms look clean because we stuffed everything into one room so no one could see it. Thus, I know it is not truly clean and I can only focus on that room.
How come you…has been a hurtful statement because it throws the blame on just one person. The house is a two person job and I get if one person is carrying more of the load, then they will not be pleased. However, spouse, all parties are responsible for the mess. If it looks like the blame game isn’t happening, we will respond better.

WHY WHEN I WANT IT DONE YOU…? This question as an adult makes me feel like I am a child again. As an adult person with ADHD, I wish to work as a team not as my husband is my parent and I am his child. He has been catching onto this. Sometimes as a spouse of someone with ADHD, they seem child like however, they are still adults! We want to do things when we want to as well. However, this being said, it doesn’t mean nothing gets done either. It means that we sometimes need to do it at times when our bodies are open to it, some are better working at night, I work better in the morning. It also means sometimes we want to do it when you want it done, but we just can’t start. I find it easier to clean when someone is cleaning with me. If you are having fun, I want to. If you get to play on your computer, I want to. So please avoid this.

YOU NEVER WANT TO… Never is a strong word! Never means they will not do it, ever. You put that statement to a ADHD spouse and you have lost them. You tell them never or act as they will never, it means they can’t. Like it or not, you are their biggest cheerleader. You help them (in their way) to do the things that you need help with, they will thrive. You tell them they will not ever do it, they will sink down lower.

YOU ALWAYS…it has to do with NEVER as well as “Why when” statements, always makes the behaviour as you will always be that way or never change. They can’t change who they are but with you they can be the best person that can be. They can build skills to deal with their ADHD barriers.

I HATE…I hate statements make an ADHD person feel they are hated not the disorder. When you say, I hate that you need me to stay here for you to clean, it translates to “I hate you are like this” or in an extreme “I hate you.” You may just be annoyed at the times you have had to “Babysit” them to make sure the job gets done but you have to understand, they hate it too! They wish they could just do it. I have a friend who comes and talks to me at work when I don’t feel I can finish projects or things. She is my friend, my motivator.

I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF…NEVER say this! Especially when the ADHD person actually truly wants to help and wants to finish the project, do not say it! When the interesting part is over, we burn out. When it never seems like it will be finished, we burn out. If you just do it for them, it hurts them.

Change HOW COME YOU with I AM IMPRESSED with…wouldn’t it be really nice if you started out your statement with what you are impressed with. Maybe show interest in what they have accomplished. To them, editing that picture was working. So compliment them on what they have accomplished even though it may not be what you wanted them to do. “I am glad you got those beautiful pictures all done up nice, you’re getting better and better at it. Do you have a minute? I am wondering if we can discuss about the kitchen.”

Turn HOW COME WHEN I WANT IT DONE…to THANKS. If I am doing something you wanted done, but not on your schedule, isn’t it better that I am doing it? Better late than never is a statement that you have to remember when dealing with an ADHD spouse. They are doing it, let them, thank them…root them on.

Transform YOU NEVER….into a question afterwards: why? Why is this thing hard for you? Why when you see a pile do you have troubles cleaning it? Get them to think about it instead of just spurt out an answer. You will be surprised what you come up with. When you ask why, you get into the brain of a person with ADHD. This means, you can brainstorm how to make it better with them instead of for or against them.

Change YOU ALWAYS…to I NOTICED. This one can be a tricky one, you always see the same behaviour or way or going about something. It always seems to lead to the same outcome, one you don’t like. Maybe it is them like you think it is, or maybe you haven’t heard their side of it and really, it could be your problem you have to work with. By saying I NOTICED…you give your side of the story. “Hey, I noticed when I told you I wouldn’t be coming home until midnight, you reacted badly, why is that?” It sounds less threatening than, “You always react bad when I am doing something!” The second answer is vague…if you want a vague and angry response, the second way will work for you.

Turn I HATE…into I FEEL. I hate makes your ADHD spouse feel like they are hated. “I feel” with validating their feelings, makes it about your perspective but not that you hate who they are as a person. Adding validating how they feel, it shows you value their perspective. “I want to help you honey as I know this is overwhelming. I feel that sometimes I cannot offer what you need when you are cleaning, I feel anxious and want to accomplish something else while you clean, is there a way we can both win in this instance?” Or if you want a battle you can say, “I hate sitting here with you watching you like you’re a baby.”

I’ll just do it myself, let’s change it to WHAT DO YOU NEED? Sometimes, as spouse without ADHD, we know the fastest way to do it is to just accomplish it ourselves. How’s that working for you though? Do you feel like a load has been lifted? I bet not. I know the other method takes longer, however, ADHD people do want to help! They just sometimes get lost between three rooms, run out of energy, are not seeing instant results or the fun part is over. WHAT DO YOU NEED…this provides an outlet to your spouse with ADHD. It allows them to figure out what they need to accomplish it.
“I see you are struggling with cleaning the kitchen, what do you need to do in order to finish it? Do we need to take a walk or have a fifteen minute break? Do you need me to help you?” or you could always just do it yourself…which if you must know can frustrate your spouse.
I want to help my husband with things even if I don’t always have the energy. When he asks me what I need, I feel valued and supported. When I accomplish something, I feel good that I have helped him.

Work with your ADHD spouse. I know it is hard, you will have to give somethings up, things will take longer. However the end results will astound you. Value their strengths, be as patient as you can with their weakness. They don’t do it to hurt you, I am speaking from experience. Continue to be their cheerleader.

1 Comment
  1. Stephanie says:

    This article was written a while ago. I am a believer of pills and take them.
    To update you on the progress since this article, Michael and myself both go to councilling and are learning to communicate our needs better without it hurting one another.
    Pills although good do not build skills. They aid with skills but it is up to you to learn those things.

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