I have had SO MANY people reach out asking about how to manage ADHD and other neurodivergence in a relationship. And it makes sense!
Did you know ADHD has an 80% heritability rate? It's a dominant gene, as far as we can tell, which means it's not only being noticed more and so diagnosed more frequently, but there ACTUALLY IS more ADHD in the world...because it's a dominant gene.
Full disclosure: I have ADHD, so any neurotypical (NT) perspectives I bring to this are from the point of view of my partner, and the partners I've worked with who are NT.
There are some really difficult things about ADHD in a partnership (and for those of us with ADHD, difficult in life!). It can be hard to get motivated to help with things that don't interest us (omg the CLEANING), we forget little things and big things alike (like how you asked me to take out the trash but I got distracted by the dirty shower and now the shower is sparkling and the trash still hasn't been taken out), and the rage that comes out of nowhere when our flow is interrupted is...intense.
Here are some things that have worked with the couples I've coached. Give these a try, and see if your relationship shifts!
Stop trying to "solve" the ADHD. It will never work!: When we focus on the things we dislike about a situation or person, we notice more of it. Doing this will be detrimental to your partnership.
non ADHD partner: Instead, notice the silly, quirky things you love about your partner and their ADHD. Their brain is just...their brain. Find things to love!
ADHD partner: Instead, notice HOW MUCH your partner does to help make up for the things the ADHD means you struggle with.
This is part of the 5:1 ratio I've talked about before. We need 5 positives for every one negative to build a satisfying relationship. It has less to do with our partner DOING something positive for every negative we perceive, but rather us NOTICING 5 positives for every 1 time we notice a negative.
Separate your partner from their symptoms:
non ADHD partner: Your partner is not irresponsible or a child; they struggle with follow through, and I guarantee it is AT LEAST as frustrating for them as it is for you. Step into their shoes to find empathy for what they deal with daily, and recognize the symptoms as symptoms, not character flaws.
ADHD partner: Your partner is not a naggy, overcontrolling harpy. They are frustrated and likely picking up extra labor to make up for the things you struggle with. Notice how much they are doing, give them gratitude, and when the nagging or criticism shows up, hear it as frustration and overwhelm rather than a reflection of who you are or their character.
And of course, if you and your partner are struggling to find flow and harmony in the midst of your differences, reach out for help! You can always set up a call with me for a single-issue session, or to see if we're a good fit to get you and your partner to a place where the above tips feel like easy, no brainers:
What are some things you've found that help or harm your relationships with your ADHD partner?
Your relationship cheerleader,