[name_m]Just[/name_m] looking for some advice or what I can do differently, my husband has ADHD and we’ve been together for 8 years and married for 3 of those.
I’m neurotypical, but have a fair bit of experience with neurodivergent people through my work in early childhood.
We have agreed to start one house project at a time and often that still ends with several half done things all over the house. That often hinder the other things he wants to do. We’ve discussed it thoroughly, I have made lists, we’ve revised things, I have offered to give as much support as I can etc. But it just doesn’t work and I often end up frustrated. Makes me feel unheard.
When we discuss it, my husband often gets down on himself, doubts his skills and abilities (basically if it doesn’t involve the construction side of the project) and says that he’s been avoiding it due to lack of confidence/motivation. He makes promises that this time will be different, but in actuality it isn’t.
Am I missing something? Is there something I should be doing? I really want to do things as a team effort, I’m trying to contribute and I feel a bit stuck. Thanks!
[name_f]My[/name_f] husband has ADHD (diagnosed last year after years of me suspecting – before then it was a stigma-fest anytime I tried to broach the subject, however gently). r/ADHD_partners on Reddit is where I hang out when I feel the feelings you’re expressing. Feels so good to hear others express frustrations and disappointments I thought I was alone in experiencing.
I have more thoughts but may swing back later. For the time being just know it’s not just you.
[name_f]My[/name_f] husband also has ADHD, motivation can be very hard to get but one thing you might also look into is rejection sensitive dysphoria it’s something that can really affect people with ADHD that the fear of rejection or failure can make it hard to start anything at all.
Often I find that it’s easier for my husband and I do to chores and projects in parallel, so if he’s doing dishes, I’m folding laundry at the kitchen table and we can see each other working and builds up confidence and motivation. Another thing could be adding specific times to the to do list, not just ‘this thing needs to be done’, but ‘you are going to do this thing on [name_m]Thursday[/name_m] from 11am to 1pm’, so he’s some amount of specific prep time for it.
Also asked my husband for notes, he said that having steps planned out for the whole of task could be helpful to stop him from loosing interest in the project halfway through.
So, I have ADHD, as well as my two brothers. Speaking from this perspective, I can promise you that your partners with ADHD also feel incredibly frustrated and upset with themselves often for not being able to just do things, finish things and be motivated. Please google the idea of executive dysfunction.
I can want so badly to do something, even simple things, joyful, fun things, but it’s impossible to convince my brain to start the process. It can be a day long process for a trip to the grocery store, sometimes even if I really need food, I still can’t get myself to the store. It’s so hard functioning with an ADHD brain because you know that you are letting others and yourself down, constantly, and it’s really not our fault. I immediately forget about things if I cannot see them, and I can hyperfixate on projects for hours then not touch them for weeks until the urge hits again. Time and schedules mean nothing to me and they feel like entrapments, because if I don’t want to do something in the moment, but feel forced into doing it, it causes a physical emotional response that is, definitely something most people would see as overreacting, but even thinking about it makes my chest feel tight right now. It’s not something I will often externally show, but it is incredibly difficult to deal with. It’s definitely best to not see ADHD behaviour as something chosen, or that your partners are being lazy, it’s something that I promise you we are harder on ourselves for internally than you know.
I see a therapist biweekly and intend to go on medication for my ADHD once I’ve been able to have a baby and breastfeed. If medication is something your partners are interested in, it can be extremely helpful but it’s a bit of a process to find the right type and dosage, I’ve tried a few and they all hit differently.
If your partners ADHD is greatly effecting your relationships I highly suggest couples counselling, give your partner a safer space to work through these feelings with you, the lack of confidence is strong and runs deep especially. I am struggling with that myself and find it nearly impossible to accomplish things because I don’t believe I’m capable of finishing anything anymore.
I’m so happy to answer any ADHD questions from the perspective of someone that struggles with it, it can be hard to understand why your partner behaves in these frustrating ways and hopefully I can help it make sense!
I have pretty significant inattentive-type ADHD and I want to validate how hard it probably is for both of you. I really recommend ADDitude and CHADD as resources for both of you.
[name_f]My[/name_f] biggest recommendation is to reduce the pressure on yourself to help him make changes and instead help him explore what supports he is willing to work with other than you. People vary with what feels like good help and what doesn’t, and it is hard for you to know what to do when he doesn’t, but it can also he harder to do that just with the two of you if the ADHD is impacting your relationship. A lot of us have complicated relationships with strategies for managing our symptoms and it can help when support around the process of navigating strategies is from someone who isn’t as personally invested in the task completion. It also sounds like some therapy related to confidence could be helpful, whether or not is is directly related to the ADHD. Once he knows what helps him, you can help him keep those things going. That way you can be a team, instead of you trying to be the coach.
If he isn’t open to that, you can encourage him to work together with you to see what he is open to trying. At the end of the day, though, he does need to be open and willing to be the one in charge of managing his symptoms.
With that in mind, here are some strategies I or people I know find helpful:
Making a deal with myself to try starting something, even if some thoughts are saying it will be too hard or it won’t work. If the thoughts are right, I can stop after 15 minutes. (I find task initiation much harder than task completion)
If transitioning from one thing to another is hard, finding the smallest piece I can do each step of the way is helpful. For example, if I am having trouble stopping a thing, can I start with pausing? Then can I think about whether I can come back to this thing? Then can I start moving my body as if I am going to get up and do something else? Then can I go into that room?
The Pomodoro method - this actually works best for me when there is external accountability, but I might not respond well to a loved one reminding me my break is over unless we have talked about it and the phrasing isn’t scolding. For example “hey I hear your alarm going off, do you want help transitioning back into x?”
— Also if my mood is bad, it might be better for me to not involve anyone else talking to me, but that person can help by using the same timer and modeling. For example, we are both doing tasks and take our break together. Then when the break timer goes off, I see them return to the task
Reminding myself to pick one task to try to work on at a time. If I have an idea of something else that needs to get done and it is fast I can do a fast thing, but otherwise I need to write the other thing down in a place I will see and look at that during my break or after my thing is done.
If I am using a list or writing down things to do, I need to practice checking that list regularly. I maybe need to set an alarm to remind me to check the list, especially if it isn’t daily or tied to something else I do anyway. I cannot rely on just remembering - either they are things I make into a regular habit or I need a reminder that isn’t a person reminding me. It is important to also remember that this is not a bad thing about me, it is just a thing.
I need to reframe how I view lists of things - it is a memory tool, not a “do all these things and feel guilty if you don’t” list. It is just there to take pressure off of my memory.
Important items go in the same place every time. [name_f]Every[/name_f] time.
I like having a task buddy.
I like having set times when things need to happen, or at least start to, and I need to know what those times are ahead of time. [name_f]My[/name_f] time perception isn’t great, but that is what alarms are for! Then I can refer back to other things on the list if I need to.
I like reminding myself that the “later” or “tomorrow” version of myself doesn’t actually like certain things any more than my current self does. [name_m]Even[/name_m] if today me gets stuck and can’t finish, future me will have however many minutes less to do if I can try for those minutes now. And hey, maybe it will turn out that I can do even more!
There are probably more, and also I should proofread this, but I need to take my own advice and start transitioning so I can go to bed. Good luck!
My husband has been in therapies most of his life as he has Tourettes as well as ADHD.
He has seen a counsellor for several years and we have also done couples counselling with the same person.
I understand what you’re saying. We are in a very good place in our marriage, this just seems to be one area that arises often. I don’t judge his way of doing things or want to change him, I just want to know what he needs and how to better support him. Especially while we have time to improve, as we have a baby coming at the end of the year.