Presentation on theme: "“People with ADHD are from Mercury” Relationships and ADHD ADDA Regional Conference San Francisco October 6, 2007 Lew Mills, PhD Marriage and Family Therapist."— Presentation transcript:
“People with ADHD are from Mercury” Relationships and ADHD ADDA Regional Conference San Francisco October 6, 2007 Lew Mills, PhD Marriage and Family Therapist
What you might expect I might tell you about couples and ADHD, and something you wouldn’t… Communicate better, Understand each other better, Develop strategies & structures to help the pwADHD remember, follow-through, check impulses… Bonus – A meta-strategy, to improve your ability to deal with a Mercurian. Related to “why” your pwADHD does those annoying things Touches on the issue of “what is fair?”
Five Biggest Complaints 1. Sharing the Burdens of a Household 2. Doesn’t Listen, Never Remembers 3. Social Skills 4. Getting in Trouble 5. Disorganization, Messy, Collecting
Sharing the Burdens of Managing a Household Being in love is easy. Having a roommate/partner is the pits. Not sharing duties, income earning, “responsibility” Can’t be trusted with details of running household. Can’t do even tiny chores without forgetting, etc.
Doesn’t Listen, Never Remembers Feels absent Intentions don’t translate into follow through. Irresponsibility Inattentive, most of the time, …even including in the bedroom May be impatient
Social Skills May not share feelings well Not careful about what they say, impulsive Statement of fact may be insensitive May not get the more subtle cues. Interrupts Solves problems instead of listening. Emotionally volatile. Little control of emotional reactions.
Gets In Trouble Sketchy job history, (despite talents) Legal problems Spending problems Wandering libido Puts people off, gets in fights Addictions, etc. Denial
Disorganized Messy Loses things Collects things, papers, projects, ideas, stuff to fix, etc. This causes a lot of stress, and it’s very difficult to change the behavior. Time challenged
Examples of Strategies Communication Dedicated time, but, Not on the couch, face-to-face, abstractly whining about “our relationship.” Try a “walk and talk” approach – peripatetic Operationalize, with exemplars Active listening skills Give structure for remembering, without being a nag. White board with requests Communicating is not enough if you don’t really know what to say. “What were you thinking?” “I wasn’t thinking…”
Gets in Trouble (Strategy) Clear limits and expectations Consequences Collaboration
Bonus: Attribution Theory Q: “Why is it helpful to know that your pwADHD is from Mercury?” A: If you don’t understand why a person behaves the way that they do, you’ll make up your own story. …and it won’t be pretty.
The Sixth Sin: “He’s just not trying. He doesn’t seem to care!” Doesn’t come up right away, like the Big 5 do. Cuts to the core of the relationship Has everything to do with each person’s role in the relationship.
Examples “She does that just to annoy me” Misunderstand behavior as passive-aggressive “Why doesn’t he seem to care?” Lack of attentiveness taken personally “We don’t seem to understand each other at all.” Judgments that partner is “Not normal”
Reinterpret Mercurian Language & Behavior Non-Mercurian Do not take it all personally. Don’t set up task that will lead to disappointment and accusations. Understand “motivation” issues. It really is not laziness or wanting to hurt your feelings. (Though you should expect to hear acknowledgement that your feelings have been hurt anyway.)
…and from the other side Mercurian: Don’t promise what you know will be difficult, even if it seems like it makes life easier at that moment. Tell them: “That would be difficult for me to manage successfully.”
Know that: Nobody gets enough out of being a flake to make it worth faking it. It is not a reasonable assumption that this is all an excuse. It is important to not make ADHD into an excuse but … more often people go too far the other way and don’t give themselves any slack.
Implications You really do need to know what is not easy for your Mercurian to do… and what might be easy to do. You need to find creative ways to keep the relationship fair and balanced ADHD behavior itself does not confer “child” or “imbecile” status
Take Home: This disability affects the balance of control and responsibility in the household. Rather than attribute this imbalance to an abdication by the pwADHD, it may mean that you need to find new ways to be partners.