Your Disorganized ADHD Partner Is Ruining Your Relationship!
4 reliable ways you can help your disorganized ADHD adult partner and avoid ruining your relationship
Is your disorganized ADHD partner killing your mojo? These are simple ways you can positively influence your partnership and love life.
Having a chronic disorganization disorder is no fun, and a Disorganized ADHD Adult is no exception. These symptoms can cause loss of self-confidence, embarrassment, and other consequences. Here are some tips for dealing with disorganization in your daily life. Hopefully, these tips will help you become less of a mess. Hopefully, this information will help you make the best decision for your own health.
1. ADHD Partner Problem – Lack of internal supervision
People with ADD/ADHD often struggle with organization, deadlines, and staying on top of things. They put off tasks until the last minute or until someone gets mad at them. Often, they struggle with impulse control and judgment, making mistakes and not learning from them. Their ADHD diagnosis means they’ve experienced all three symptoms for a prolonged period and it has interfered with their life.
Partner Solution – Co-regulate & Body Double
One supportive way to help your disorganized ADHD partner s to provide external anchoring for them. They may fight your attempts at structure and time reminders, but understand that often their internal impulses are hard to inhibit and therefore overpower their external awareness. It’s important to find strategies to help them anchor in time and space. Body doubling is one way to help your ADHD partner stay on task. Doing things with them (parallel play) in the same space and time is a huge benefit. Also, verbalizing together to develop plans is essential. When you can talk through routines and ideas together, and track the tasks after discussions, your partner will show up for you and you’ll both feel more successful.
2. ADHD Problem – Disorganized living is a result of asynchronous, associative thought
One of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD is chronic disorganization, and this can make daily household tasks more difficult and frustrating for people with the condition. While most families simply accept this clutter as a normal part of life, the disorder can deteriorate into a serious disorder known as hoarding. Not only can this disorder put an affected person’s life at risk, but it can also be dangerous for the people living with the individual. Many times the driver behind disorganized living is your partner’s associative thought patterns.
People with ADHD have trouble consolidating. This means they struggle to put all the pieces together and visualize the future. As a result, they lose their forward momentum and feel overwhelmed. The greatest intention (“I’m going to clean up the garage”) can be easily derailed because one item out of place leads them to another thing that needs to be done and repeats itself… leading your partner off on a series of associative goose-chases, yet never finishing the garage. This problem has to do with your disorganized ADHD partner’s associative and interest-based wiring.
Solution – Limit project scope and create time constraints
Make things easy! You can help your partner by limiting the project to known constraints. One big restraint is time, so agreeing on how much time you have and when to start and end the project can be super helpful. Working together on time restraints can help your partner get better at estimating how long things may take. Enhancing estimates can help them set more realistic goals for organizing projects. Remember – it took time, energy, and attention to become disorganized. It will take time, energy and attention to get organized and develop working systems again.
3. ADHD Problem – Low confidence, self-esteem, and embarrassment
It may come as a surprise that outer disorganization can be the result of inner emotional demons for adults with ADHD. Since ADHD interferes with an individual’s ability to focus, stay calm and complete tasks it can lead to a litany of incomplete projects. Over time, living with life-long embarrassment messes with your partner’s self-esteem and confidence.
Chronic embarrassment is common for disorganized ADHD partners. Regardless of the circumstances, many ADHD adults feel a sense of shame and embarrassment about their disorganized living conditions. They may truly want it to be different but lack the ability to split things into small enough tasks to get started. Many partners live in a constant state of overwhelm which is debilitating. Their low self-esteem makes mustering up any energy to do anything seem at times, impossible.
Partner Solution – Build confidence through encouragement, compassion, and understanding
Your compassion, support, and help are critical to your partner’s self-esteem. As out-of-whack as that may seem, an ounce of compassion is worth so much to a partner who’s feeling shameful and emotionally rejected. Even though it’s hard to remain encouraging when your partner consistently disappoints, this compassion and understanding will do more than you know. Creating a loving, forgiving, compassionate environment will help you and your partner create a safe space together. Then, you can focus on your positive aspects and build encouragement. Focusing on things that are NOT done, isn’t helpful. But, building hope and strategies in an encouraging environment will help your partner overcome their self-esteem demons, and be more likely to give getting organized together a shot.
4. ADHD Partner Problem – Procrastination and forgetfulness
Procrastination and forgetfulness are common symptoms of ADHD. Your disorganized ADHD partner has had his share of embarrassing moments, missed deadlines, and blown-off appointments. So, the problem is they have likely lowered their expectations of themselves. This behavior is in a way, maladaptive. They’ve focused on their trait, but have not understood the cause. The likely causes of procrastination and forgetfulness are because they lack a plan and likely have unreliable systems to help them remember important things. So, being disorganized, untidy, and unprofessional is how they self-identify. These are labels, often due to skills gaps associated with cognitive impairment.
Partner Solution – Create a schedule with reminders
Regardless of whether you’re neurotypical or diverse, routines and reliable reminders are essential to optimize your limited attention. In order to help your relationship, work on creating a consistent schedule and nail-down important (and not urgent) tasks. Your partner may struggle at first, but if you can agree on some reliable task dates, it is much easier for each of you to show up for the other. When you pre-decide on days to do laundry, clean the house and shop for groceries, you’re building consistency together. Things that are important and consistent should never become urgent unless something goes wrong. So, whenever you can, put these tasks on autopilot. When you create routines and build consistent behaviors, you’ll universally avoid the ‘urgency’ cycle that stresses you out and causes arguments. Work together to agree on what your important tasks are, decide on the recurring days for those tasks, then set reminders. This process will help you both build the consistency necessary for things to operate smoothly. And although your partner may fight your effort to structure and time reminders, it will help you both in the end.
ADHD Relationships Solutions
It’s common for ADHD-impacted couples to be hanging by a thread before they reach out for help. They’ve tried everything to “fix” things but haven’t found a solution to the problems. This causes great emotional pain, and they feel hopeless about the future of their relationship.
If you’re debating whether to divorce or stay together, you need some help. And, there’s good news. Working with a coach is a great way for your ADHD spouse to get started. Additionally, there’s help available for ADHD-impacted couples. Disorganization and the causes behind it like low self-esteem, cognitive dysfunction, and emotional dysregulation can be a serious issue for your ADHD partner, and your relationship. Getting a proper diagnosis, learning more, and building lifestyle habits to support healthy living through coaching can prevent future problems and help set your relationship on a healthy path together.