12 Ways to Support Your Partner With ADHD

Eileen Bailey | Aug 16th 2016 Feb 22nd 2017

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When you have a partner with ADHD, there is fine line between being supportive and enabling ADHD behaviors. Here are 12 ways you can offer healthy support.

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Get informed

Learn about ADHD. It is important to distinguish between ADHD symptoms and conscious behaviors. Read about how symptoms of ADHD often manifest in adults.

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Learn to go with the flow

Don’t personalize ADHD behaviors. It is easy to take it personally when your partner forgets your lunch date, doesn’t seem to listen when you talk or forgets to take out the trash. These can all be symptoms of inattention. Separate your partner’s feelings for you from his or her behavior.

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Promote understanding

Avoid judging ADHD behaviors. When your partner forgets to wash the dishes, you might automatically assume he is “lazy” or “irresponsible.” Instead of labeling the behaviors, discuss what behaviors bother you and work together to come up with ways to manage symptoms.

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Fall in love all over again

Focus on character traits rather than behaviors. You originally fell in love because of your partner’s positive character traits. Keep a list of the traits you love about your partner and when you become irritated because of ADHD behaviors, remind yourself why you found her irresistible.

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Laugh more

Keep your sense of humor. ADHD symptoms often lead to strange and funny outcomes. Choose to find the humor and laugh at miscommunications. But make sure you are laughing together, rather than having your partner feel you are laughing at him.

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Shift your point of view

Spend time looking at a situation from your partner’s perspective. To do this, ask questions and actively listen to the answers. Find out how your partner feels when ADHD symptoms cause a mishap. You might be surprised to find out she feels ashamed, embarrassed or worried that you won’t love her anymore.

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Pay close attention to language

Pay attention to how you talk to your partner. You should both speak to one another with respect. Scolding, nagging or demanding usually get a defensive reaction.

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Two-way street

Acknowledge that some of your behaviors can be annoying, too. Chances are pretty good that your partner finds some of your behaviors irritating.

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Take a new approach

Discuss problem areas in your relationship. Choose a time when both of you are calm and relaxed. Ask your partner for ideas on how to improve your relationship and keep an open mind.  People with ADHD are often out-of-the-box thinkers. Your partner might have creative solutions.

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Compromise and tradeoffs

Create a practical plan for dealing with problem situations. If your partner has trouble completing household chores, work together to find a solution and then write down the plan of action. A good example is breaking down household chores by interest and ability, rather than along gender lines.

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Consider what's beneath the surface

Understand how ADHD affects adults. In some people, ADHD can lead to depression, relationship problems and can interfere with employment. Rather than blame your partner if you see these types of problems, work together or seek professional help.

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Remember to uplift each other

Appreciate what your partner does right. Find a reason, no matter how small, to compliment your partner about something – or many things – each day.