Every couple undergoes some communication issues. If your partner is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this will definitely be the case. Your communication style as a couple must take into account a range of ADHD-related factors. You’ll have to discover what specifically works for the two of you. There’s no blueprint for this process. However, the tips below cover enough ground to be excellent starting points.
Let’s first mention acceptance. You’ve fallen in with someone who deals with ADHD. You will have some clear differences in how you each operate. Working to accept the differences is a giant step toward enhancing your communication and your connection.
How To Communicate With Your Partner If They Have ADHD
Do Not Take It Personally
This is the most obvious and perhaps the trickiest step of all. The issues created by your partner’s ADHD diagnosis are not intentional. They can make you feel frustrated and angry but it’s not a personal attack. Seeing it that way will only complicate communication. Practice re-focusing the angry energy you feel into productive energy to find solutions. Working with a therapist can be helpful here (see below).
Remember That You’re Not Perfect
When something goes wrong during communication, you may automatically blame it on ADHD. Before doing so, check yourself. You may not have ADHD but you certainly have blind spots. Do an honest appraisal and apologize if necessary.
Pay Close Attention
When your partner interacts with you, they are probably at least a little nervous. They are aware that ADHD has caused schisms in the past. It goes a long if you give them your full focus. Face them, make eye contact, and keep your facial expressions neutral. If it isn’t a good time, calmly explain this and agree on a better time.
Also, pay close attention to what you’re feeling inside. If that edgy vibe is creeping in, notice it and manage it before it has a chance to escalate.
When you have something you need to address, ease into it. Some suggestions:
- Trade the “you” statements for “I” statements and avoid blatant criticism
- Avoid words and vocal inflections that take on a threatening or bullying tone
- Stay calm and ask for clarification when necessary
- Use affirming statements even when you disagree to make it clear that you’ve heard and processed what’s been said
- Again, make eye contact
- Always be respectful
- Ask open-ended questions that leave room for disagreement
Seek Common Ground
Yes, ADHD creates differences between. But what about all the common ground that brought you together in the first place? What similarities do you have? Talk about those and put them to work. Also, agree to disagree at times. Not everything is worth a confrontation. Choose your battles carefully.
You don’t have to follow a textbook or roadmap. You know each other and love each other. Tap into your shared creativity and try new ideas for smoothing out the rough spots. Remind open to experimenting and keep checking in with each other.
You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers
This is inherently a challenging situation. No one should be expected to injure up all the right solutions. Rather, ask for help. Working with a couples therapist is a proven path for improving your collective communication skills. Being in a room together with an unbiased guide allows them to observe you in action and offer real-time input.
You can in a deeper understanding of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder while discussing tactics and techniques that have worked for other couples. If you or your partner has ADHD, reach out to learn more about couples therapy and how it can help all couples learn to communicate better.