Why My ADHD Marriage Works So Well
10 is the number. It’s my number with my ADHD husband…with the Love of my Life in my ADHD marriage. And, yes, I keep score, so I know the number is 10.
There seems to be a running joke in our home…Who have I asked a question to the most and how many times have I asked it? It’s always my husband and 10 is the number. What does the number 10 mean?
10 = The amount of times I ask him before WHAT I ask him about actually GETS DONE.
Now, hold your britches… did I say I like the number 10? Quite the opposite, actually. But, I’ve come to accept it… come to accept and allow 10 to have space in my mind and thoughts. We DO decide how thoughts dwell in our mind…yes? And what we decide to give life to and not? Yes?
Besides, he is the Love of my life and I chose him and this ADHD marriage and he chose me, with all our imperfections.
Perhaps I should change my language around how I ask him, I wonder at times? I do, of course, when something actually needs to get done or those instances when we are under time constraints, OR when I’m just in a really crabby mood and he senses my tone and completes it before I get to 3.
You see, I made a choice a LONG time ago that I wasn’t going to allow his “lesser strengths” to get in the way of his really awesome strengths. Imagine if I didn’t have this outlook or attitude and constantly focused on what wasn’t being done and having a continuous negative story about him running through my head.
Imagine, also, if he allowed my desperate need for order and structure to infiltrate our relationship – how would that run in his head?
Where would our ADHD marriage be? If I got stuck on the 5-10’s in our conversations and the “to-do” lists of life and only focused on this? And he got stuck on how structured and regimented and orderly I am? What a barrier, right?
(OK, fine… full disclosure there were a few times my kettle burst open and you can be assured the task that was now at 5 was getting completed…by day end…sometimes even by hour end! I DO have my limits and my breaking point! You happy now?)
The stories in my head I choose to focus on go something like this:
“It will get done when it’s important to him.” “I trust him to handle this when he is ready to.” “Maybe this isn’t as important as I’m making it out to be.” “What is he thinking of me?” “ What are his stories that are on constant re-play about me?”
One time (VERY recently!) the time from asking once and getting to the 10, took 3 whole years to complete! 3 YEARS! And then, boom! We got it done. BUT, there was a process to what we needed to complete (one I didn’t understand until it was all over) and until it mattered to him, it was dead in the water.
Clearly, I am NOT a nagger. Clearly, I have a ton of patience and grace. Well, so does he…with me. He showers me with so much patience and grace…actually, more than I do him, if truth be told. Remember, those with ADHD don’t hold onto stuff – they move on and are exceptionally forgiving. Me? Not so much, as you’ve seen: I keep score. (NOT my finest trait and I work at it daily!)
Being a neurotypical and being married to someone with ADHD is quite the task! What I’ve learned is to focus and play to the strengths…for BOTH of us. We play to one another’s strengths and we don’t set the other up to fail. That’s how we succeed – we refuse to allow the other to fail. We are partners til the end…over the cliff with adoration and admiration for one another and we simply got each other’s backs.
So how does our marriage thrive and survive with all it’s differences?
Here are a few examples of how we succeed and our mindset with one another:
He is a last minute guy. I’m well planned. We meet someone in the middle.
He likes spontaneity, I love a planned out calendar.
When we wrote our Marriage vows of Loving and Living, we agreed to a calendar that is “subject to change”.
He works at night. I shut down after 8pm. He’s tucking me in at 8pm so I can read and have quiet time and SLEEP.
He can stroll through the grocery store with no plan and “come up with” ideas for dinner. I fall apart without recipes.
I run the house. He makes sure I’m ABLE to run it well!
You cannot see the surface of his desk. Everything is in its place on mine.
Do I try and change this? Absolutely not! (Although I’m always dying to get my hands on his stuff!) There is no way MY way would ever work for him. NOR would HIS way work for me. I’m sure he’d love to get his hands on my neatly stacked, very small, organized piles and turn me upside down!
He has 75 tabs open at the bottom of his laptop to “keep track of” what he is working on. I have everything closed with only 2 tabs open at a time. More than that, I shut down!
When he’s cramming, he focuses like it’s no one’s business: when he needs to, what needs to get done, when it’s important – he is a last minute kind of dude. Me: what’s cramming?
Do I have to remind him (quite frequently) to put the “Father Hat” on and take off the “Business Hat” because he is so engrossed in his work? Yep! I do. And, I don’t take it personally. He just needs that gentle reminder. Does he remind me to relax and unwind and take it easy? Yep!
Do we have to review what’s happening in our week, multiple times throughout the week? Yep, because he needs repetition and a lot of reminders because there is so much happening in his mind. Well, I’ve got him covered and got his back with all things happening in our life.
Does he forget things? Yep! But not because he wants to. I received a voice mail from him the other night. As I was listening to it, I knew he forgot something that was happening with our boys that very night. When I called him out on it, his response was, “I’m sorry, I was too focused on hearing your voice and talking with you that it slipped my mind.” How can I possibly be upset about that?
He needs text reminders. Talking through it doesn’t work…and we have learned that the hard way. He needs things in writing. I need to hear it and write it down.
Are we normally on time? Most times early, in fact, because he knows how important being on time is to me.
Have we ever missed a flight due to our own fault? Nope. We are equally yoked when it comes to time!
Does my 10 get done? Yep. When he is good and ready to do it. Funny, sometimes it only takes 15 minutes to do what I’ve been asking him to do for 5 months.
10 is my number. My number with the man who makes me want no other. The man who is the utter breath I breathe. The man who is gracious, giving, compassionate. The man who sacrifices so much for our family. The man who is full of wisdom, humor, care, grace, kindness and strength. That’s my number and that’s my man.