Tips for Success in Adult Relationships with ADHD

While managing adult relationships with ADHD can be a challenge, with the right combination of communication and teamwork, these relationships can be successful, fulfilling and fun.

By Eileen Bailey

  1. Work closely with your doctor to create a treatment plan.  This should include making sure you have an accurate diagnosis.  Often, with ADD, there are co-existing conditions that can impact your treatment as well as your relationships.  An effective treatment plan will depend on a correct diagnosis.
  2. Think about the positive ADD characteristics, such as spontaneity, creativity, problem solving, and high energy level.  These characteristics probably helped to attract the person you are with.  Keep these in mind.  This will help you remember why you were attracted to each other to begin with.  Other problems may not seem as bad when you remember the positive characteristics you each bring to the relationship.
  3. Talk with your spouse about ADD.   If you have ADD, let them know what areas you struggle with and how they might be able to help.  If your spouse has ADD, let them know what areas you are finding most difficult to deal with.  Let them know what you love about their ADD characteristics and what you need help coping with. 
  4. Determine what behaviors you would most like to change.  If you have ADD, ask your partner for help or support in changing one behavior that seems to be interfering with the relationship.  If your spouse has ADD, talk about which behavior seems to be causing the most strife and work together to find a solution. 
  5. Keep communication open.  It doesn’t matter how you may communicate with each other, as long as communication is honest and sincere.  There are couples that find communication easier when speaking with each other on the phone.  Others may find communication is best after the children have gone to bed, the television is turned off and you can both give one another your undivided attention.  Other couples may find communication easier by writing notes or going out someplace together. Whichever way works for you, find a time at least on a weekly basis, to connect with one another. 
  6. Make use of your kitchen calendar and check it each day to be sure you are not forgetting something that is important to your partner.  
  7. Use a chalkboard or a whiteboard to write communications on days you seem to just be passing each other.  Some days are filled with so many activities it is hard to connect for more than a moment or two.  Write notes to yourself or to your spouse on what needs to be completed and when.  
  8. Look at your household chores and determine if they are divided according to each person’s strengths.  For example, if one partner is more organized, then their chores should reflect that.  If the other spouse has a difficult time sitting still, their chores should be those that require more movement.  Using your own strengths to divide chores will increase the chances of sticking to them and completing them.  The unwanted chores will also have a better chance of being completed if you know that they have been divided based on your own personality and characteristics. 
  9. Choose to see the good.  Compliment your spouse or partner often, but do so sincerely.  Look for what they are doing well.  Let them know you notice and appreciate their effort.  Although sometimes this feels awkward at first, you will find that it becomes natural as you begin to use this tactic more often and your spouse responds to your positive reinforcement by being positive back.  
  10. Set aside time to spend together.  Make a date to go out for the evening.  Find someone to watch the children and take a ride together.  Make a list of things that you both enjoy and spend some time each week on one of those things.  Make sure your partner knows that you are also willing to do some of the things they enjoy, just because you want to spend time with them.  Appreciate and enjoy each other’s company.


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