ADHD and Your Relationship, with Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST
Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST discusses how Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder affects relationships. He shares how couples can recognize issues related to ADHD in their relationship, what they can do to improve understanding and improve their relationship, and specifically how couples can improve their sex life when one partner has ADHD.
How Does Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder affect relationships?
- We want our partners to be predictable. ADHD makes it difficult for the partner to be predictable. It also becomes more difficult for the other partner to be able to rely on them to remember various needs.
- It can become a parent-child dynamic, a dynamic where the non-ADHD partner has to be more “responsible” and the partner with ADHD has to be “managed.”
- Your sex life can suffer from the parent-child dynamic. You don’t want to be in a parent role or child role, and these dynamics take away from the romance.
How can couples see these issues as ADHD, without demoralizing their partner?
- Seek professional help to get the diagnosis clarified. It’s also helpful for the partner without ADHD to attend appointments and learn about ADHD as well.
- Educate yourself to understand and to develop empathy for the partner with ADHD.
- Remember that ADHD is part of the package deal of being with your partner. You each have differences and bring issues to your relationship, and ADHD is only one of them. Don’t fall into the trap of making ADHD the big problem in your relationship.
- The partner without ADHD can let go of wanting some things done specific ways. Work through some of your own anxieties to be willing to tolerate more uncertainty.
What can couples do and put into action to improve understanding and improve the relationship when one partner has ADHD?
- Accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Seek help and work with your prescriber to find an effective medication.
- Do couples therapy to work with issues involving ADHD in your relationship. Work with a couples therapist who understands the dynamics of ADHD in relationships, and can see both partners’ perspectives.
- See the issues related to ADHD as a challenge for both partners to work. The partner without ADHD can begin to let go of some expectations, and the partner with ADHD can push themselves and step up to help their partner feel more secure.
- Find ways to work well together and set yourselves up for success. Set reminders, stick to the reminders. Have reasonable expectations and support each other, while each doing your own part.
- Don’t fall into the mindset of “I would be so much happier if it weren’t for you.” If you want something different out of your partner, you should do something different in your approach.
- Pick your battles.
- It’s important to understand that some of the issues might be related to ADHD. For the partner with ADHD. it’s important to seek help. Medication and specific strategies, like setting alarm reminders on your phone, can help.
How can couples improve their sex life when one partner has ADHD?
- Our sexual satisfaction and our overall relationship satisfaction overlap by about two-thirds. This means that to be happy in one, you have to also work on the other.
- When you’re having frustrations and fights throughout the day, you may not want to be together sexually. Handle these disagreements well to preserve the good feelings for sex.
- Also preserve time for sex. Time management can be a challenge. You might both want to have sex, but time slips away and you don’t make time for it. Schedule it and plan backwards so you know when each task needs to happen.
- Remember it’s important to have a good sexual relationship to protect your overall relationship from the daily issues that ADHD can cause.
- The partner without ADHD can also let some things be undone to prioritize sex over household tasks.
Takeaways about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Your Relationship:
It takes work from each partner to improve their relationship and deal with ADHD issues.
Take ADHD seriously and put in the effort, while also recognizing that it is just a difference between the two of you, like other issues you might experience.
“Let it bring out the best in both of you rather than letting it bring out the worst.” -Ari Tuckman
Connect with Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST
Ari is a psychologist and a sex therapist. He specializes in working with individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and works with couples and sex therapy. He has written 4 books and been featured in many media outlets.
ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship
Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook
More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD
Integrative Treatment for Adult ADHD: A Practical, Easy-To-Use Guide for Clinicians
Special thanks to:
Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.
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