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I’ve always been thankful for my husband. I mean, I knew from the moment that I met him that he was a great guy and over the last 10 years that we’ve been married, he’s proved me right over again. But the other day, as I sat in front of the ADHD doctor discussing whether we should try a different medication, I was more thankful for my husband than I’ve ever been.
You see, my doctor is a bit…calm, we’ll say. So it took me by surprise when something I said turned up the heat a bit. I’m not sure how it happened but I somehow provoked a fire in him. Honestly, it was awesome; though, while on his soap box, he said something that sucker punched me. Like, a -stop me in my tracks, double take, I must have heard him wrong- kind of feeling.
“80% of marriages in which one spouse has ADHD end in divorce.”
Despite being a fairly reserved quiet type, I couldn’t help the surprised, overly loud “WHAT?!” No, I heard him right. 80%.
I’ve never felt shame for having ADHD. It’s something I’ve been able to embrace without the discomfort of shoulds. As I reflected on the meaning of 80%, I realized that living with someone with ADHD must be challenging. While that didn’t bring me shame, it did bring a sharp reality that I hadn’t noticed before.
I’m messy. I’m disorganized. I frequently lose important things. I struggle to pay attention even when he’s talking directly to me. Sometimes, he’s been talking to me for a while and I don’t realize it until he asks for my opinion about what he’s saying. I forget a lot of things and I get distracted by everything. If you’ve read my ADHD Symptoms in Women post, you know this is only a taste of the challenges of ADHD. I’ve always thought some of these things were relatively humorous quirks that I have. In that moment, I realized that they might not be so funny to my husband.
We ADHDers can’t help these eccentrices. I’ve tried…and tried. But how do you change something that you don’t even realize you are doing? It’s not like I choose to get distracted by the squirrel hoping around the trees when I’m trying my best to pay attention to an important conversation. In fact, I don’t even notice that I’m distracted until I’ve already missed key parts of the conversation.
I’ve always believed that there is no shame in living with challenges that aren’t of your choosing, and I still do. That led me to the question of how to balance that important belief with also regretting the difficulty, and sometimes even pain, that these challenges may bring to people who love us.
I can’t claim to have all the answers to that one, but I will say that I started trying to walk this balance by appreciating my husband. As soon as I left the doctor, I called the mister and thanked him for being there for me and for being flexible and understanding with me. I thanked him for being with me as part of that 20% that are still married. And thankfully, happily so.
Secondly, I lost any remaining concern about taking medication for ADHD or encouraging others to do the same. Apparently, of those who are medicated, the risk of divorce drops significantly. Not only does it drastically improve my work life and my ability to survive in the world (did I mention that I frequently zone out while driving if unmedicated?), it also greatly improves my chances of staying happily married. I’ve decided that society can think what they want about ADHD and they can criticize the use of stimulants, but it isn’t their relationship on the line. It isn’t their life, it’s mine and I’ll take medication since it improves my chances of a fulfilled life, Thank you very much.
So, while I still don’t feel shame for having ADHD or the challenge that it brings, I now have a much deeper appreciation for my spouse and am making it a point to recognize him for it. I hope that, in time, I’ll learn more keys to the delicate balance I’m trying to walk.
Because ADHD can cause such challenges in relationships and especially the relationships that we live with (cough *husband* cough), I’ve been on the lookout for good resources on improving those challenges. This workbook is a really helpful resource on improving your relationship with your spouse when one of you has ADHD. If you’ve had some relationship struggles, I totally recommend therapy but this is a great resource to work on in between sessions or if therapy isn’t an option for you and your spouse at the moment.
Don’t forget to subscribed and never miss a post! More relationship posts are coming very soon and you’ll want to stick around for those 😉