ADHD and Relationships

couple at therapy

ADHD and Relationships

When one person has ADHD in a relationship, and the other person doesn’t, unique problems can occur. The power dynamic can become that of a parent to child, which isn’t healthy. The non-ADHD person becomes the one with the power, guiding, reminding and helping their partner. When the ADHD partner has a chore to be done, their counterpart may remind them, indeed several times, until the ADHD partner does it. Or the non-ADHD partner may give up and do it themselves rather than keep reminding their other half. Eventually, too many chores or responsibilities are allocated to the non-ADHD partner.

The symptoms of ADHD unmanaged are permanent. Distraction, memory problems and other symptoms start to weigh on the relationship. The non-ADHD partner becomes the parent, the ADHD partner the child. The power dynamic in this relationship becomes off kilter, leaning only to one side. This leads to a lack of respect on the part of the non-ADHD partner as they begin to view their partner like a child, and a condescending attitude can ensue. The ADHD partner begins to resent their significant other.

Adaptation is generally considered a good thing. One partner sees an issue arising and both partners change to meet and overcome it. Some research has shown however that stronger couples see problems coming down the pike and counteract them before they become an issue in the relationship. For ADHD, this power dynamic increases over time. As more and more control is lent to the non-ADHD partner and the more they become the parent, the other the child, the more resentment builds. Both people in this relationship have their problems with the other. One doesn’t want to do all of the work of the other. The ADHD partner doesn’t want to be treated like a child. They get tired of constant reminders, general bossiness and nagging. And the non-ADHD partner gets tired of doing so. And this dynamic puts a strain on the relationship. The couple feels less inclined toward positive feelings of love, affection, physical intimacy and romance.

Child/parent dynamics will almost inevitably lead to relationship or marital dysfunction. ADHD should be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Both partners should be involved. But if you are married or seriously involved with someone who has ADHD or if you have ADHD make sure to talk about it in depth with your partner. Treatment should also be sought. For more advice read, The ADHD Effect On Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov.

How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?


How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

When you are in the midst of a breakup or a painful divorce, usually people are there for you. It’s the one good thing about it. What they say though is sometimes another matter. For instance, people will give you all kinds of wild and contradictory advice, including how long it takes to get over someone. For a long relationship, say lasting five years, some say it takes twice as long to get over. But does that mean you’ll be stuck in a rut for the next decade? Others say it doesn’t take double the time. Instead, take the duration of your relationship and cut it in half. How long does it really take to get over your ex? The problem is way more complex than a simple formula. Plus not everyone is the same. In fact, there’s a lot of deviation when it comes to dealing with the emotional pain that follows a breakup. Some people have a tryst with a new lover and feel rejuvenated. Others pine away, spending months on the couch in sweats watching romantic comedies and wondering why they aren’t feeling any better.

There are a lot of reasons a breakup is not easy. One is biological. Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when you are in love, the same kind of feeling you get from a drug high. You are, in a way, literally addicted to that person and must go through withdrawal. But everyone withdraws in their own way. According to British psychotherapist Elly Prior there are seven factors that influence how long it will take for you to move on after a breakup. These are: how long the relationship was, whether or not the breakup was recent, how obsessive or intense it was, whether or not it was meaningful to you, how things ended, if domestic violence entered the picture and whether or not one or both of you had an affair. Other important factors include if this is your first breakup, if you have a support network in your life, what other stressors surround you, if property or possessions still have to be split up, if you suffer from depression, how you interacted with one another and whether or not you are surrounded by reminders, say a photo on a shelf or your ex constantly springing up on your newsfeed.

One simple formula isn’t enough to solve such a menagerie. You may feel like you are being swallowed up in a pit of hopelessness and despair. But realize that emotions such as these don’t stick around for long. Pretty soon it will start to subside. There of course will be moments when you are reminded of the person. But those also pass. It’s important to tend to yourself at this time. Vent, have a good cry, spend time with friends and reconnect with people you lost touch with. Think about your future and what dreams you want to fulfill now that you don’t have any dead weight pulling you down. Reflect also on what you loved about the person. If things feel incomplete, make your own ritual and find an appropriate way to say goodbye. You don’t need their permission. They don’t even need to be there. Do it on your own. Try to turn around a breakup or divorce and make it a positive experience, one that you learn from and makes you a better person. For more on breakup recovery read, How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams and Harold H. Bloomfield.

Signs you May have Found the One


Signs you May have Found the One

So you’ve found someone you’re really into, and they seem really into you, and the chemistry is incredible. But how do you know if you may walk down the aisle with this one? There are signs that you may have found the one.  One of the first areas to check are your likes and dislikes. Do you two like the same type of movies, music, books, and hobbies and so on? The more alike your tastes the better a match you are.  It can be a surprise when you belt out a few notes to a song and your sweetie picks up where you left off. But it can also be a sign that you two are a really great match. How do you both act when talk of the future comes up in conversation? When you bring up taking a vacation in the summer when it’s winter, does your sweetie flinch, or are they excited? If talk of the future doesn’t scare either of you but in fact excites you or makes you both feel good, it’s a good sign that this relationship is ready to move on to the next level. If you aren’t sure, bring up something you’d like to do with them a little in advance, say a few months or so and see how they respond. But don’t make it a big deal like spending New Year’s in Paris if you two aren’t in that place in your relationship yet, or else you have a good chance of scaring him or her off.

Lots of people believe that introducing your love interest to your parents is the big one. But the real test is your friends. Your family’s opinion is important. But you can’t choose your family. Your friends however are another matter. Your friends are actually a reflection of who you are inside. So if they don’t fit in with your clique how can they fit in in your life? If you’ve ever had something serious happen when you were dating, if you found that you could depend on him or her to get your back, help you out and be there for you, then this is a great sign that you could have found your perfect match. Do you two think in terms of me or in terms of we? If every time a social commitment comes up you say you have to check with your lover’s schedule, and they do the same to you, then congratulations you are already thinking as a unit, and there’s a good chance you’re ready to bring your relationship to a higher plane. Do you accommodate each other? If your sweetie is lactose intolerant and you found yourself only buying that kind of milk for your kitchen, you definitely want to stay together long term. Do you text or email throughout the day with little things you want to share? If so, you guys are in tune with each other. If you go places by yourself and you and they are reminded of the other throughout the day, then you are in love and they are always with you, because they’re on your mind. For more on this topic, read Are You the One for Me?: Knowing Who’s Right and Avoiding Who’s Wrong by Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D.

A more Positive Spouse means Better Health

Young couple with thumbs up

A more Positive Spouse means Better Health

According to researchers out of the University of Michigan a more positive spouse means better health. Spouses had less chronic disease and were more mobile when their partner was optimistic the study found. This study can be found in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. The Health and Retirement Study, a government survey of adults over 50 years of age, was utilized for this study. 1,970 straight married couples were followed in this study. It took place for four years and it measured the amount of mobility and chronic disease couples reported. Other research has pointed to vibrant social networks one can call on for support as one reason why optimism has such a strong correlation with health and the health of a spouse. Having people to count on in times of difficulty makes it much easier emotionally, physically and in so many other ways to deal with the harsh realities life can sometimes throw at you. Study lead author and a doctoral student at the university Eric Kim said that, “A growing body of research shows that the people in our social networks can have a profound influence on our health and well-being.” But being better connected isn’t the only reason. “In addition,” Kim says, “optimists engage in healthier lifestyles that simultaneously minimize health risk factors for illness.” The Michigan team is very excited as this is a real breakthrough study. Kim says, “This is the first study to show that someone else’s optimism could be impacting your own health.”

Positivity in other studies has shown to aid in solving problems and contribute to higher overall relationship satisfaction. So how exactly does the health benefits aspect of it play out? We can imagine lower stress and anxiety levels perhaps leading to better sleep. And positivity itself leads to better mental health. According to Kim there are other ways optimistic spouses help keep their partner’s healthy, “So practically speaking, I can imagine an optimistic spouse encouraging his or her partner to go to the gym or eat a healthier meal because the spouse genuinely believes the behavior will make a difference in health. Identifying factors that protect against declining health is important for the increasing number of older adults who face the dual threat of declining health and rising health care costs.” Even if you or your spouse aren’t eternal optimists, there are ways to inject a little bit of sunshine into your marriage. Start writing your spouse love notes. On each one mention something that you love about them and encourage them to write something they love about you. Write a list of things you are thankful for in your spouse and read it when you need a reminder. Have a gratitude jar. You and your spouse can write on little slips of paper what you appreciated about your partner on that week. At the end of the week pull the papers out and read them aloud. Why not surprise your partner with a little something, or a night out just to show them how special they are to you? For more on positivity and how it affects you, read How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.

10 Tips to Help your Children Cope with Divorce

Family counseling people problem solution puzzle

Children at any age have trouble dealing with their parents’ divorce. They can feel sad, stressed, angry and confused. Younger children are generally clingy and feel anxious and sad. That’s because they depend on their parents more. Children in adolescence however are more prone to shutting themselves off, becoming more independent, perhaps more rebellious and may harbor feelings of being betrayed. It behooves you to take extra special care of your children to help them adjust to this new family arrangement. A recent study out of the U.K. found that children from single parent or step parent homes were just as happy as those from dual parent homes. So your child can become just as happy and well adjusted. It’s just enduring this transition period and the immediate aftermath, a time that is precarious and difficult for you and for them. Divorce is a big change and as their parent, don’t forget to get the help and support that you need. Luckily, you are not alone. And there have been plenty that have come before and so after. So there is a lot of advice and strategies that you can employ to make that change as easy and the outcome as positive as possible.

Here are 10 tips to help your children cope with divorce. The first step is to reassure the children you will always love them and be there for them. Let them know that you are always there for them and listen carefully to what they have to say. When they are with your ex for the weekend call them, text and email. Write your children letters to say things you or they are too uncomfortable to say out loud. Keep asking them questions, hugging them, loving them and giving them advice. If you pay them close attention and keep on top of them, they’ll know that they’re loved. Step two, run a household and a schedule that is full of structure. Your top priority should be the children’s well-being, as it should your ex-spouse’s. For the third step, try to work out an arrangement with your ex to provide ample structure for co-parenting. Try to work out the rules, structure, scheduling and so on. You are going to have to deal with one another. So it’s important for the children’s sake to at least have some simple idea of how things are going to work, how you will interact and so on. Perhaps corresponding via email is easier with certain couples in particular situations. Text messaging for short check-ins and alerts is good, too. Don’t make your child the middle man. It will give them anxiety and will be terribly uncomfortable for them. Surely, it’s an unfair position as well. You and your ex are going to have to communicate over the children for decades to come, perhaps forever. So you might as well start getting used to it now.

Don’t act upset or jealous regarding what’s going on with the other parent. Certainly don’t grill the child if he or she is seeing someone else. This puts pressure on the child. They feel as though they have to choose sides. This isn’t a fair position either. Save these conversations for your adult friends or family members out of your children’s sight or hearing. Tell your kids the complete truth. If they are young, make the truth simple so that they can understand it. Let them know mommy and daddy don’t love each other anymore, but no one is going to stop loving them. Tell them how much you love them all of the time. Let the kids know that some things are going to change, and what they are. Let them know how you will deal with them together as a family, and how other things will stay the same and what they are, too. Be aware of your child’s age. Older children may want to know more details and specifics. Make sure you say things in a way that are age appropriate but that are honest and that they can understand. Make sure to clear up any misunderstandings about the divorce. This is why talking about things and hearing your child’s opinion on things is so important. They may not know the words for what they are feeling, but you can be patient, listen and help them find the right words.

Give the children a comfortable routine that they can settle into. Show your affection physically. Don’t try to buy their affection. Your time and attention are worth far more. Be tactful and don’t blame everything on your ex. If you two can, try to put up a united front. You are still parenting together and the kids should know that. Don’t let them play divide and conquer games to get what they want. If one parent says no to a purchase or an activity, the other should know about it and set the same policy. Let the children know that they should actively seek a deep relationship with both of their parents. Remember to also take care of yourself. If you are depressed or stressed out it isn’t good for your own life, but it will also affect the children. Instead, journal, find a support group, reach out to friends and family, and take a little time to yourself. For more advice, pick up a copy of Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll.