Suggestions for improving communicati... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Suggestions for improving communication in committed relationships

GtnBetter profile image

Having been diagnosed as an adult resulting from my children's diagnoses, I am discovering that my ADHD impacts my communication skills within my marriage. This difficulty is creating much stress in the relationship. I know that it "takes two to tango", but I want to give my best effort to do my part in communicating effectively and empathically. I welcome any suggestions, including counselors or therapists who could help me/us.

21 Replies

I would look into a course of CBT

Mine starts next week.

Everyone I have spoken to says it always gives some benefit.

GtnBetter profile image
GtnBetter in reply to Stonesfan

Thanks. I have heard of that in relation to BPD. My wife appears to exhibit some traits associated with that but passively denies it and highlights my ADHD as our problem.

Stonesfan profile image
Stonesfan in reply to GtnBetter

DBT treatment is good for a BPD

CBT treatment is good for ADHD

BPD & ADHD in a relationship is a bad mix IMHO.

People with BPD can deny it and can be therapy avoidant. They can also be crabby, impatient bullies and run you down for being forgetful.

She should be tolerant and sympathetic to your condition. But may be in denial of her own and prefer her (cruel?) behavior to continue unchecked.

Couples therapy with someone very skilled (like a psychiatrist) might be able to help)

If she won't go to that, get yourself a therapist so you have a mental health professional on your side and someone to talk to.

You deserve to be happy.

GtnBetter profile image
GtnBetter in reply to Stonesfan

Thanks...It has been a rough go...

GtnBetter profile image
GtnBetter in reply to Stonesfan

Ooops.. yes Dialectic Behavior Therapy for BPD. Where are you taking the CBT course?

I haven't done it, but if you sign up for Kanopy with your library card, there is a CBT lecture series that is free.

I've been there, so feel for you.

GtnBetter profile image
GtnBetter in reply to Stonesfan


Melissa Orlov’s books are an excellent resource. Her course has saved many marriages and I highly recommend it.

Yes, my wife and I took the course with Melissa a number of years ago. I think we need to revisit it.

We read and took course, both. Unfortunately neither of us were ready to take individual responsibility for our behaviors, and for us it was like going to a therapist where all we did was point fingers. May be a great course but if not ready, nothing happens. We’ve struggled for nearly 11 years. I’ve decided to move on (nonADHD) after trying everything I could find. I became the keeper of the solutions. None of them worked ..Until I took myself out of the equation. I stopped responding, arguing, living in same space, eating/sleeping with him. And I am getting ready to start a new career after 50 years. I began to focus on just my comfort and sanity..without being in conflict all day every day with him. NOW he is working on all sorts of solutions. I told him since he was the one with the known and manageable issues, he needed to find a solution for him. Not us. I give him credit for making some moves to improve his communication deficits. I am finding myself having soft positive interest and responses - it’s only been two months, so I will continue with my plan to get situated to leave if necessary. Will see how this works. Orlav course was a starting point for us. I think collectively we have found insight in all our attempts, and am sure Orlav course was more helpful than we knew. But it just was not “the answer”, per se A good start maybe reading a book listening to a single voice, turned out to be too subjective and open to wrong interpretation I prefer another qualified perspective or perspectiveS!

Please look at Many wonderful groups and resources to help. Regularly scheduled professional talks that are not too long or clinical. Their annual conference is next month. Am going to attend virtually.

I hope this helps you

$5/month or $50/year

CBT is available everywhere. Mine is over zoom in the UK.


I just started a relationship with an Anxious Attacher who loaned me her book entitled Attached. It was enlightening. I was naïve to attachment theory. It has helped me see things through her perspective, since she read it first and highlighted it. Also, I highly recommend that if you go the route of couples counseling, make sure the counselor understands ADHD, or they may steer you wrong (per Orlov, and experienced by me... we paid for 3 mo of tattle tale sessions, that did nothing to address our issues or work on how to adapt for the future).

Thanks. We’ve tried counseling before and my wife always feels ganged up on and feels I lie or withhold or skew.

Maybe you could let her pick the counselor? If she feels like even the counselor is against her, sounds like she might have some issues too that she's not ready to work on

Try looking here for help. I am nonADHD spouse But there is a wealth of group and peer support here. Great resources. Very inexpensive to join. $5/month or $50/year There is a Thursday night couples group online. It is good not be alone, and to share. This ADDA is very inclusive and offers many routes to find help.

“ADDA is committed to providing its members with cutting-edge information from the leading experts in the field of ADHD and ADD.

One of the most powerful resources available to ADDA members is the Webinar series. There are dozens of one-hour Webinar programs on a variety of topics by the leading experts on ADHD.

You no longer have to worry about finding experts whose advice and information you can trust. ADDA has done the work for you.”

——-copied from an ADDA email to me

I have been going to a counselor who understands ADHD and does CBT. It's been a huge help to my marriage. To be clear, what I thought were merely communication issues turned out to be a lot deeper. Also, on this case I think it was good that I was going myself and focusing mostly on my issues. Previous counselors were either unhelpful or mildly helpful.

This counselor diagnosed my ADHD after about 6 months.

So I tried 3 counselors before finding one that worked. And I saw many non professionals and read many self help books before that.

My wife wasn't really open to couples counseling after the one try. And with my ADHD it has probably been good for me to get individual help as well.

GtnBetter profile image
GtnBetter in reply to 99cents

Thanks.... sounds like great advice...I had been doing that before COVID shutdown hit, then unfortunately my counselor died (unrelated to COVID).

One thing I’m trying to do with my SO is just be really clear about what is very difficult for me and what I’m good at, so we can divide some responsibilities to our strengths rather than repeatedly trying to force the opposite to great frustration, rancor, and resentment. It’s a work in progress but it seems to be helping.

I’m blessed to have a very supportive husband but it’s been a learning curve for us both as I was diagnosed after 33 years of marriage. We’re both a bit passive-agressive, so our main goal has been “say what you mean, and mean what you say” done with love, patience and tolerance. Also, I’ve worked on asking for help when I need it, whether it be with a task, a change of habit for either of us, or just listening and understanding. Our cue to back off if an argument is brewing is “I’m not going to talk to you any more.” Almost always that lasts no more than 15 minutes and we end up laughing, but it gives both of us time to re-group and think about what’s really going on.

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