Have you ever been part of an argument that you either didn’t know you were apart of, thought you resolved or felt the other party involved dismissed the importance of the argument entirely? I know I have been in each type; many times. Since acknowledging my symptoms caused by ADHD, I realized just how many disagreements with my hubby have been merely the result of the miscommunication between an ADHD and non-ADHD partner.
Here’s a recent example:
7am (in bed; before work/school hustle)
Me: what’s your day lookin like
Hubby: I’ve gotta get a haircut, get the rest of my booklets done, I gotta…
(my mind wanders to the list of things I had to do, so I may have missed some important details)
Me: ok cool. You still leaving at 12, right?
(I talked over him, rushing his sentence along and couldn’t tell you what the hell was said! Although I’m sure he could)
Me:…Can you drop us off at the ferry on your way?
Hubby: (hesitates) yeah sure.
Me: I can take the shuttle though…
(insert some stuff That we both said that could have been important but can’t remember cuz I was thinking too hard about the day)
Note: because of the MLK holiday I set out to take the kids into the city for an excursion. Our attempt the day before had failed. We (my mother and I) planned for 12pm but decided to go the next day because my son had the day off. I assumed my husband was in on this conversation. My son has to be in school at 9am. I personally have to keep the time slots in my schedule looking the same each day or I’m unable to accomplish anything of value. My brain checks out on me in the organized planning department. I’m sure many of you relate. Ok back to the dialogue…
8:14pm (I’m in the shower and hubs is apparently on his way out the door to prep for a conference. His plan is to be on the road at 12pm. I can’t remember when I internalized that info. )
Hubby: ok, love you! Have a great day!
Me: you still gonna be able to take us to the ferry later?
Hubby: um, yeah what time?
Me: about 9-9:30
Hubby: What?! It’s like quarter to 9 now! I knew it! We just talked about it! You said 12! Now I look like the asshole! How am I supposed to…
He screams…I shout obscenities from behind the curtain…then exit hubby out the front door. Unanswered calls, open ended texts to say what I had to say…You know how it goes. I spent most of the morning recovering from emotional wounds from what felt like daggers tossed by the one person who gets it! Or so I thought. I resolved that I would be nice anyway. Give him the physical and emotional space to get over a simple misunderstanding. I thought he was outta line but I’m a big believer in letting people have their feelings. However, when he got home he talked about the weather as if the loud exchange and his rude exit never happened! I was silent for two days. I went through the motions. He talked as if everything was good. However, I wished he would just say sorry or what happened or something! He never did, and the connection I felt strained. I reviewed the exchange so many times in my head till I finally sucked it up and said something.
You can guess that from the title that this was a huge case of miscommunication. We made up, and the make up lovin’ was magical, but my fears and insecurities about my ADHD got the best of my relationship once again. I did take the time to reflect on it. Here are a few lessons I pulled from this.
Since acknowledging my ADHD, I have come to realize that most of the miscommunication between the hubby and I were a result of my symptoms. Regardless of the misfiring, slow reacting or overreacting neurotransmitters that make our brains different from the non-ADHD brain, the difference means little to the other person involved if the person doesn’t know what’s going on.
More importantly you must be honest with yourself. I still feel the twinge of embarrassment when I have to ask my husband to repeat something, or tell him that I don’t remember saying what he says I said. I also still have the desire to guard myself from false accusations. The biggest fear I harbor about being honest when it comes to my ADHD, is that when things go wrong people can use my ADHD against me ( because I tend to misplace things, it must be me that misplaced it every time). I often times do it to myself. I second guess myself many times because of my new recognition of my symptoms. However, the feelings of guardedness don’t stem from a place of self-love; and fear only leads to confusion. So I choose (most times) to disclose as I figure things out. I have established my husband as a safe space. I remember that after the smoke clears and use this reminder to reconcile when necessary.
Don’t take it personal
Women with ADHD (and I’m sure men alike) must be prone to hypersensitivity. The way we can absorb the vibe of a room, or are able to react to the not-so-obvious emotions of others, can be interpreted as a 6th sense. However, just like our most of our symptoms flux and wane with little or no warning, this 6th sense ability can be unreliable and cause trouble where there shouldn’t be any. I spent the day in an argument by myself because he left angry and in a huff, and I went most of that day trying to figure out what I should do to make him stop being mad or how I should react when he gets home. I should have been reminding myself that he was in a rush and he had an important day ahead. I could have chalked it up to him just waking up on the cranky side of the bed. Instead I made it all about me and how I could change how he was. By the way, He was over it by the time he got out the door, and all of the vibes I picked up came from my own assumptions.
We also discovered more about our differences in how we view time. If you noticed, the time difference between what time my husband said it was and what time it actually was varied by what I consider a HUGE chunk of time.
He sets his watch 15 minutes ahead, and I have to remember I need a watch.
I was able to get myself and my kids ready within that 15+min. chunk of time, and moved at my normal leisurely pace till the very last minute. My husband on the other hand, feels rushed if he isn’t ready an hour in advance.
So the above conversation was interpreted in two different ways. It had nothing to do with me personally. We are just different. Our feelings are our own and have no connection to our actions unless we allow them. And we can only control ourselves. Once I moved passed the “why is he doing this to me?”phase and realized it wasn’t about me, I was able to ask myself, “what can I do to make this feel better for me.”
Allow yourself to be vulnerable
While my husband listened to what I had to say, and I heard my own words, there were moments where I felt straight up stupid. As a matter of fact, in the side conversation I was having with myself “I sound really stupid” did come up a few times. I allowed myself to continue with my thoughts and feelings and in doing that, the two of us figured out a whole bunch of stuff about how we communicate. We both got a better picture of how ADHD looks on me. Allowing myself to be vulnerable, gave us the opportunity to grow.
The advantage of Intimacy in a relationship is that you get to bear all, trusting that the person will continue to love you anyway. I’m not just referring to the naked body (although I love that we are intimate enough that my stretch marks and not so perky boobies aren’t an issue). Sharing the most vulnerable parts of yourself, flaws and all, breaks down the wall and can bring you closer.
relationships where someone has ADHD and the other doesn’t, has the potential to be a train wreck. However, we all have our crosses to bear in some form or another. Being honest in your walk together, humbling yourself in your interactions and owning your weaknesses will strengthen your bond and allow you to make healthy choices for yourself and your relationship with your spouse or partner. Do I do these things all the time? Nope. I did say that my condition got the best of us AGAIN. We are all working on something. I will pray for you and I ask that you pray for us as we continue to keep this beautiful black love going 😉
Oh and if you run into my hubby, please give him an encouraging pat on the back, because he fights hard for his quirky wifey!
Share your story: How do you and your partner disagree? If it’s not about ADHD, what causes you to bump heads with that special someone? How do you handle it?
Would love to hear from you 😉