How do you show you care: Hi everyone... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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How do you show you care

Lenon526 profile image

Hi everyone. I'm 40 and I was diagnosed a couple years ago but didn't really understand the impact ADHD has had on my life until last spring. Learning more and more everyday about ADHD and reviewing my past and current actions with this new lens has been eye opening to say the least.

One struggle I'm currently grappling with is the interactions with my loved ones and especially my wife. She is also having to wrap her head around my actions and intentions, or lack there of, with this new information too.

Now knowing that when I disengage or disconnect it's not purposeful or that I don't care for or about her, which is the way my disconnection is received, how do I let her know that I do care and love her very much?

Is this something other ADHD'ers struggle with? How do you show and communicate that you do truly care for those you are close to? What do you do to remember to do this when you're struggling? Have you ever had someone in your life never come around to understanding?

Thank you for reading this and sharing?

8 Replies

I'm newly diagnosed too. This is a struggle for me as well.

Not that the things I've tried are 100%. I'm experimenting and practicing with various ideas.

One of the biggest things has been CBT and learning not to personalize stuff as much, identifying negative thinking patterns and realizing my emotions "right now" aren't equal to the bigger picture.

Something I've done in the past but forgot about (irony there) until I read this question is, I've sometimes "translated" things verbally. I am a physical touch kind of guy, and my wife is all about actions. So I try to make sure when I hold her hand or give her a hug, to say something (brief) like "this is an important way to show you I love you". And when she does something for me, I make sure to translate it for myself, and her, verbally. "When you grabbed the door for me when I was taking out the trash--thanks for that expression of love". Or whatever works.

One important thing I need to do better at, is to take time every day to sit down and identify the ways she showed love today/yesterday.

It's hard for my wife to remember what it's like for me. I'm not really sure how to kindly remind her. But I also have to pause and think, maybe she's just upset with me because she's tired today. Oh yeah, she woke up during the night with the kids... Stuff like that helps, and comes because of doing CBT and an emotions journal.

Anyway, these are some of the things I am trying. They seem to help somewhat.

99centss profile image
99centss in reply to 99centss

Another thing that helped is my counselor asked her and I to read "Is it you, me, or adult ADD". It's written/directed more at spouses. I think it helped her paint a picture of what it's like to have ADHD, and how the dynamics play out in relationships. The extreme examples in the book kind of helped her appreciate the control I DO have. She tells me I have a mild case of ADHD by comparison.

I notice I do much better when I am well rested. I am struggling with that one still. No suggestions there, but hopefully it's something anyway.

Lenon526 profile image
Lenon526 in reply to 99centss

Thank you for sharing. I truly appreciate it. I've worked through some CBT exercises before but, like everything else, it's sticking with it consistently that's so hard.

We took Melissa Orlov's course last spring and that's what really opened up the impact ADHD can have and explained a lot of our cyclical issues. We've read the one you mentioned as well. I think for my wife it's the feeling of abandonment when she reaches out or needs me and I'm not engaged in the moment and not knowing if I'll "be there" or not. I don't know how to switch that on. I don't know how to find the emotions in the moment to be able to connect, so I don't come off as a robot or disingenuous.

I did read about DBT recently and that sounds promising for relationship struggles.

I'll definitely try being much more mindful and communicative around our interactions. Even if the feeling may not come across at the moment I'm at least communicating it.

Thanks again 99!

hey Lenon526,One thing that has been really helpful for me learning was “ the 5 languages of love”. its a book/ test and you and significant other take to determine which way you both interpret and receive love. The categories are: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gifts. the premise is that often times we show love based on our own preferences vs the other person. which isnt effective. if your spouses language is dominantly quality time Yet you try to show love by acts of service ( helping spouse with whatever, etc) then ya can see how alot gets miscommunicated. that book was a game changer for me!

also- i agree with everything 99centss wrote!!! the book he recommended is great, and CBT is always helpful for all humans regardless of diagnosis! its super easy to learn on your own but even better with a therapist you like.

also, being newly diagnosed is overwhelming. flood of emotions. roller coaster. thats an understatement! the more you educate yourself the easier and more enjoyable the journey will be!

you got this❤️

When I offend my husband I say sorry, I say it kind of jokingly "You got ADD'd," and I try to make it up to him if what I did was a smaller infraction, insult or insensitivity. If I am just truly having a bad day of any kind, one thing I have learned to do is recognize I am heading that way sooner, before I get to where it's difficult for him to deal with and he doesn't know what up or coming at him. When I recognize it, I give him a warning: "Hey, I am not feeling my best today, so if I am stand offish, or snappy, it's me not you, and I will try to keep my distance, but it's because I love and respect you." Which, we have been together 18 years, and he knows this, so at this point, all I really say is: "I'm having a day, I love you." Sometimes, he goes out and occupies himself if it's on a weekend, to gives me space. Sometimes, I retire to my bedroom, put my two small doggies on the bed with me, and snuggle them and just stay out of his way. When this is less successful, is when we have some high stress stuff to do, and no wiggle room on when it can be done. Then it's more likely a problem will happen. But it's widely known I am an accidental asshole in our house, and I try like hell when I can to get it right. The more attentive I can be to his needs when I am on my better game, the more easily it is for him to work with me and/or forgive me when I suck.

One thing I hope you realize...just by asking this question and being more aware of how, when and why you say and do the things you do (or don't do things), will help you hone your skills of coping, show you opportunities to make small changes with big results and you ARE going to figure this out. Tap into your creativity and your knowledge of your wife. Try and try again if things are going better--tweak the system. Try to do some extra things for your wife during this time. Things would be seen to her as care taking or loving gestures or more hugs or whatever speaks to her and whatever also taps into your interests or strengths. Cooking? Yard work? Handyman skills? Art? Poetry? Make a playlist of music? Tell her you want to be better for the sake of your relationship and her. At least, that is why I am presuming you are asking? Maybe you need to ask yourself what you hope to achieve, change or ID how you want to grow? Get her to weigh in on this. You may inspire her to change how she thinks about this new information and your life together. Change can be inspiring. Embrace the good and trust that you will figure out the bad, because you are smart, a good person, and capable in the right conditions you will set for yourself!

Thank you All. These are all really helpful suggestions and strategies!

We are sitting down over the next week or two to layout a plan that helps her maintain a feeling of control in her space and setup some boundaries so if I am struggling it will help protect both of us while we are also trying to partner and work through some solutions together. We feel like we will both be invested to a solution instead of me trying to do it all isolated in a vacuum.

I think the biggest thing about the information out there, or lack there of, is that there are a couple of books and therapists with information and coping strategies but there is very little info on what a successful couple looks like and does to manage things everyday. I don't feel it's as simple as exercise, eat right, get sleep and use sticky notes and a planer. This is a lot more complicated especially being diagnosed as an adult and having coping skills that work for me by myself but are not conducive to a relationship.

Thank you again!

Sometimes we may think the problem always has to do with something related to us, but more often than not it's actually from others. Mabey your wife is just insecure and has yet to find love for her own self.

While I think that she has some things to work on too, what she notices is the difference in my behavior. Where I'm engaged for a couple months then I get depleted and I have to disengage to get back on my feet. That's when she feels abandoned since before that I was "there" and now I'm not available and I'm irritable. The struggle for her is also that she never knows if I'll be available when she is struggling and needs me. I also traditionally struggle when she struggles which really sucks since I don't have the capacity to step in and support her when she needs it most. Im glad I understand what's going on better after being diagnosed but it still really sucks to not be able to help your partner when they really need you.

She is very self aware having lived with a parent and sister with personality disorders and brother with autism. She also has worked with children with disabilities for the better part of two decades. I'm sure there some extra sensitivity there.

She has been very surprised at the ADHD symptoms that aren't addressed in the school environment since they don't necessarily impact school performance. It's been an eye opening journey for both of us

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