Saturday, February 15, 2014

ADHD: Marriage + Compassion & Grace = Love

winter 2013

some names have been changed 

or omitted in this post


"I still remember the night Jeremy told me he had ADHD..." I told her as I walked the busy park trail with her. The weather had been waffling between thirty degree days and then temps in the sixties or seventies; little spurts of radiating warmth that was incredibly welcoming because of the icy winter season we'd had. Everyone was out... women jogged by with babies in strollers, men ran with their  four legged companions on leashes and kids skateboarded by with their friends. 

As we continued our way along the path... taking in the view of the murky water below that ducks glided across I spoke with a grin "I look back on that night now and see the irony in the situation... he's standing there telling me he has ADHD and I distinctly remember thinking to myself.... 'Oh, that's that thing where you're distracted'... then I was off on the next thought!" I laughed. 

"You never told me this..." She shook her head with amusement "Really? You? Distracted? That doesn't sound like you at all!" She teased me then asked "What on earth distracted you?" 

"Oh, heck... I have no idea! It could have been any number of things! Maybe a bird flew by the window, the air conditioner came on, him.... who knows!" I laughed aloud... "but it's absolutely hilarious to me now because who knew I had it too! I get more entertainment from ADHD related life situations!"

She chuckled at that and nodded, "At least you can see the humor in it!" She acknowledged.  

It's true. 

Seeing The Humor… 

Seeing the humor in our situations in life is one of the most important things we can do whether we have ADHD or not. It keeps us from viewing everything too seriously and humor can often be linked to grace... when we acknowledge, admitting, in humble awareness that we were wrong, handled something incorrectly, or just missed the mark unintentionally in a situation or shared experience... it does something great... it allows you to give yourself likely much needed grace and anyone else that needs it too. 

Missing the mark however unintentionally happens a lot when someone has ADHD. Oftentimes people think we are going around intentionally engaging in less than stellar behavior when we truly aren't doing it on purpose. In fact, it may not even be on our radar. When our non-ADHD spouse asks us to please fetch them a glass of water from the kitchen and an hour later goes by... Hello, Facebook, Pinterest, Yahoo!, etc.... they then believe we must be angry at them for whatever reason or most likely believe us to be uncaring because we can't seem to or don't wish to follow one simple request.... they get grouchy and sulk, complain, gripe, etc and then we feel bad, we feel huge guilt because we know that wasn't our intention. We don't mean to come across as detached at times. We don't mean to come across as not in tune with or uncaring toward the one we married... when in fact people with ADHD are some of the most caring, creative, romantic and passionate people you'll ever meet. So while our spouse is simmering and feeling ignored we begin feeling huge guilt... giving ourselves the internal all too familiar grueling pep talk of "You've gotta try harder! You've gotta stay more in tune! More focused!  More in the moment!" 

Not Being So Hard On Yourself…

Yeah, that's all good maybe if you're on medication but the reality is... sans medication telling yourself "just try harder" may only serve to frustrate you more. It's often more pressure, more expectation and more stress put upon yourself. 

Often people who don't have ADHD can't comprehend why ADHD has such far reaching effects on people in their lives and how on earth something could cause such difficulty. But it truly can and it's capable of inflicting a lot damage to your marriage if you don't both have strategies set in place and most importantly if the non-ADHD spouse is not understanding. A spouse's ADHD can affect everything, even your spouse believing you just don't give a rat's rear about them because you're hyper focused on a project that could be either work related or a hobby.

Hyper! Focus!… 

The person with ADHD often wavers back and forth between being distracted and not in the present moment to the other extreme... hyper focused on something like scrapbooking from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., leaving your spouse looking at you like some freak of nature as you amazingly assemble a handmade scrapbook for the kids complete with embellishments, captions and photos that would have taken anyone else weeks to months to complete in small increments of time. Then there is the possible risk of your budget being negatively affected if the one with ADHD impulsively spends money that's not figured in the budget or takes extreme risks to their health and safety like on the road or skydiving... all of this and more can add up to the relationship you have with your spouse being not so great. 

The Reminder Relationship…

A partnership between two should ideally stand on equal ground instead of turning into a parent/child or "reminder relationship".... because what happens over time is the non-ADHD spouse begins to feel they must overcompensate or bring to light the ADHDer's potential slack. They feel as though they have to be a walking calendar and alarm system for the person with ADHD... "Did you pick up the so and so?", "When is your next dentist appointment?", "Did you call back so and so?" In turn it gets to be equally incredibly annoying(!) as someone with ADHD when you have someone continually making remarks that only serve to further impress upon you that you're lagging behind on what's on the calendar (sometimes before you've even had the opportunity to forget something) and they are behaving superior. 


We came upon a point in our beautiful afternoon walk where the sidewalk ended and now the path became rough and uneven... like life often does throwing us for a loop when not expected. 

"I loved being on that Vyvanse for the most part..." I admitted to her "For the first time in my life I got to see what 'normal' or 'typical' is. It was awesome... I got so much done, it was unreal. The biggest drawback was the extreme weight loss which wasn't good. And at the same time I kept feeling like a part of me was missing while on it. ADHD doesn't define me yet is a part of who I am... I'm not real sure where it and I begin or end. It's weird... life is funnier off medication. Being on it life is much more productive but also much more serious. I truly believe one of the biggest factors with dealing with ADHD is having a sense of humor. If you and your spouse can't laugh about it there's trouble. I'm trying new medication to see how I do and yet in that I'm not looking for perfection. Just a bit of help... and whoever I'm with one day is going to have to be understanding... in that if I miss a day or two of medication they aren't threatening me with divorce. If we don't have compassion and grace for each other but instead treat our spouse as an inconvenience how can we ever have love?" 

© ~ 2014 

Thank you for reading,

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