10 Rules to live by with an ADHD partner

The List
Make a list of all the things that you found romantic, exciting, quirky, funny and attractive when you first met – write it down and when you hit rock bottom take it out and read it again and again. That person is still there, and remind yourself regularly that AD(H)D is a disability.

Realistic Expectations
Don’t expect regular flowers, romantic gestures, planned holidays or career stability. If you need stability – you are going to have provide that for yourself. Learn to expect the unexpected. On the spur of the moment getaways, drinking wine at eleven o’clock in the morning, doing adventure sports that you never dreamt of doing, laughing and crying together (often), packing up and leaving for another country with a great job opportunity (at short notice). In short a life of adventure. If this sounds too chaotic, find someone else.

Build your ego
Constructively build your self-esteem and ego. Your birthday will not be remembered. He will not be at the finish line when you finish your first half marathon. He will not be home for important birthday celebrations or a family get together. But he still loves you. That should be enough. In the same breath beware of not starting to parent your partner. They are adults. Give them credit for that. If they make mistakes, they should fix it. Not you.

Boring tasks are a no-go. Be prepared to see the bookkeeper, tax consultant, school teacher, landlord, school plays and any other job that is really not interesting enough on your own. Paying rates and taxes, the telephone bill, or school fees are boring tasks that creates frustration, anxiety and conflict. However, that does not mean that you have to carry Mt Atlas on your own. Draw up a check list as to who is responsible for what when. Make it visible (kitchen/bathroom/car). And tick the box. Externalise, externalise, externalise.

Time is not of the essence
Time delays are part of life in the AD(H)D household. Missing flights, getting on the wrong trains, getting the dates wrong for important business are all in a day’s work. Often these are jobs you are going to have to negotiate or help externalise. If you are not up for it, help your partner find an AD(H)D coach.

Social ineptness
Saying what you think, not being aware of social protocol, putting your foot in it, being insensitive, impulsiveness – your partner is not up for a position in the diplomatic services. Deal with it. And explain to important people in your life. At the same time, provide them with literature,courses to better themselves. Creating awareness is the first step, then practise. Keep a sense of humour.

Communication tools
Make it a habit of recharging mobiles every night, before going to bed. Staying in touch during the day, is vital – as is getting google diary reminders. Never let an adult AD(H)D person leave home without a pencil and a small note book. The grand motto is: “Do it now, or write it down.”

Explanations not excuses
Never internalise your partner’s bad behaviour. It’s not you. Explain to your family members, children and friends exactly what AD(H)D is and why certain behaviours occur. There is no excuse for bad behaviour, but good friends will try and understand. Friends that stay are worthwhile, let the others go gladly. Lastly, don’t ignore and don’t let it go – hold your partner accountable. It’s the only they will learn what is appropriate and what not. All done in the spirit of calmness and growth, of course.

Oxygen mask first
Take regular time-out. Reflect, recharge and be realistic about your life with someone with a disability. Make mindfulness, yoga, meditation part of you daily lifestyle. Exercise, eat a healthy diet and get enought sleep. As it is life is demanding enough, more so for a household with AD(H)D. You can only take care of others if you have taken care of yourself.
Draw the line
Lastly, you should make sure that you are never sucked into the dark side of AD(H)D. If you partner does not want help, have no desire to manage his/her AD(H)D-ness (and possible co-morbid conditions), and succumb to substance abuse, bad behaviour, marital infidelity, bad driving or even criminality – get out and stay out. Especially if you have children. Both partners should buy into a responsible management plan of how to deal with AD(H)D in a family environment. If no such commitment exist, implement one immediately. Take charge of AD(H)D, not the other way around.


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