Surviving Beloved’s ADD

Ten Tips when the ADD/EFD is Beloved’s

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

As you read the article below, don’t get hung up on the use of “ADD” as the diagnostic handle. I use it to refer to the ATTENTIONAL struggles common among all of the Executive Functioning Disorders.  The article will also be helpful if your Beloved’s “handle” is TBI, EFD, OCD, or any of what I refer to as the Alphabet Disorders.

As I mentioned in the first article of the Beloved Series, I get a lot of differently phrased questions from spouses that, essentially, all boil down to the same thing:

How do I deal with ADD
when it’s not my ADD?

Great question!  Relationships are tough enough without additional complications.

Throw in a little ADD for-better-or-for-worse, and it starts looking like a promise you might just have to break.

Toward the end of When Beloved Has ADD, I encouraged you to believe that  ALL the relationship goodies are beyond that “wall” of “I can’t deal with this another minute!” – as is your own inner healing, the need for which is bringing everything to the surface in this manner.

That’s cold comfort when somebody else’s ADD repeatedly complicates your dream of riding off into the sunset together, happily ever after.

The relationship you dreamed of is still there – behind that wall of pain, rejection & reaction. As awful as it feels, there is a shiny silver lining to this blackest of clouds, whether you work it out with this Beloved or not.

MEANWHILE, this section will give you Ten Tips designed to help immediately. Don’t worry – your needs won’t get overlooked, and CAN’T get overlooked, but I can’t do much to help there in ten quick suggestions.

If you want some immediate relief to avoid damaging your relationship beyond repair while we’re working on how to change dynamics on the home-front, try one or all of the tips below.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Ten Tips to help YOU deal with Beloved’s ADD

1. Remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Spend some time remembering the good ole’ days without letting yourself jump immediately to the “whatever happened to THAT?!” place.

 2. Try your darndest to see the humor whenever you can.

No matter how awful it looks right now, remember that nobody died (yet!)

 3. Throw the word “enable” in the garbage.

If Beloved had a physical disability that you could see, it would be easier to understand how inappropriate it is to collapse enabling with assisting, but I promise it is equally wrong-headed in the majority of ADD interactions — and will make your decision-process of HOW to help much harder.

 4. Don’t make things WORSE.  

Check out my Boggle article for what most non-ADDers think is helpful that actually contributes to the problems you’re trying to get rid of.

 5. ASK for what you want – simply and directly.  

ADDers can lose the point with a lot of verbiage,  as well as their willingness or ability to listen.  We aren’t great with “hints,” and tend to get oppositional with anything that sounds like a lecture or a complaint.

END with the action request, not the explanation of why it’s so important for them to help you.  If they’re focused on the latter, they’re likely to drop out the former.

 6. Accentuate the Positive

More than non-ADDers, those with the ADD brain-style ruminate endlessly over what they can’t do, did wrong, and so forth. Our brains are designed to keep us functioning, and chronic anxiety, or fear of disapproval, can turn into chronic avoidance before you know it.

Do your best to comment only on what you want to INCREASE and it will.
(Just not as quickly as you want it to so don’t give up too soon or you’ll have to start over!)

7. Help with the sleep struggles.

Were you aware that 75% of us in the ADD population struggle with some form of sleep disturbance?  Any assumption that “sleeping all day” or “staying up all night” is within volitional control might not be warranted.

That changes the rules of the game a bit, huh?

A gentle wake-up in the morning – followed by a hasty skeedadle the moment Beloved seems the least bit alert, is what’s called for. Don’t stay to chat!  It may not be appreciated at first, but it sure will make your life easier!

Do that regularly and the “stay up all night” problem might disappear on its own!

 8. Keep the meds working.

If your Beloved has agreed to take medication, make sure they remember to take the darned things!  

Don’t ask if they have, don’t lecture on import.  If you are AM support, start by handing them a glass of water and their first dose, even before they get out of bed.  Don’t say a word, just smile sweetly and handle beneficently. (WATER, not juice).

Put the medication IN the dominant hand, water in the other (don’t leave either on the bedside table!) — and get out of there as soon as you see it go down.

We’ll talk about this in greater depth later, for NOW, just do it – even though it’s NOT your responsibility, it is the single most effective thing you can do with sixty seconds of your time.

 9. LEARN all you can about ADD from many sources

Repeat this mantra often: “There ain’t no IS about ADD”  

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one point of view or theory, one book, one article, or one website will give you all the information you need to understand what’s going on.

VARY your sources, too, even within category.  For example: a few ADD Coaching sites and blogs, some books or blogs by ADD authors, some by physicians or therapists working with ADD, some by ADDers themselves.

Don’t go nuts with this – you’re looking for help, not writing a thesis! When you find a few sources that are helpful and relevent, bookmark them or sign up for email notification of new content.  Every so often, try somewhere you’ve never looked before, or check a new ADD book out of the library.

10. Never worry alone. 

ADD-aware Counseling is a super idea to help you replace your negative feelings with some positive ones;

Brain-Based ADD Coaching will help you deal with the pragmatics (so that, over time, you have increasingly fewer occasions where negative feelings get triggered.)  YOU go, even if Beloved is initially resistent.

ADD Bulletin Boards on ADD Websites like ADDerWorld, ADDvance, and ADDitude will give you a place to connect with other partners and parents, will let you browse the posts about the thoughts and fears of  ADDers that aren’t your own, as well as providing a safe space for venting and sharing successes.


Stay tuned . . . MUCH more to come in this series.

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If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), scroll down to the Brain-based Coaching Link below, with a contact form at the bottom, or click the E-me link <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page). I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

13 Responses to Surviving Beloved’s ADD

  1. Pingback: Getting along when only ONE of you has ADD/EFD | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: CorePsych | Brain Science and ADD/ADHD Coaching – Notes On The Rubber and The Road

  3. philippinewanderer says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    Just want you to know that I found this article 25 years too late, and as you know, I suffer from a TBI and not ADD/ADHD, but the points are relative in both cases. One cannot see TBI either. TBI is invisible and because of that friends for sure, loved ones maybe, disown the person who is in need of their love and understanding.

    I liked point number 5 especially – ASK for what you want – simply and directly. Anybody with a brain malfunction can lose the point and respond with much unnecessary verbiage. I go off topic frequently and now I will end because I just remembered something I need to do…Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NOT too late – ya’ ain’t dead YET!! (Colonel Sanders, the late-life chicken empire millionaire, is my imaginary mentor on this one)

      Yeah, “the poker gods” decided to deal both of us great hands before we knew how to play the game (much less strategize the win) – and we folded a few hands we ‘should’ have held and lost the pot to somebody who didn’t deserve it. BUT if we keep playing, we get better, right?

      Meanwhile we both blog, hoping to help others on BOTH sides of the functional fence.

      BELIEVE ME, I am all too aware that it’s sometimes a full-time job to stay even one toe over the line to the positive side of regret/success – don’t get me started!

      There is so much that is simply beyond me that is a no-brainer for others — without anybody’s conscious awareness or appreciation of how WELL, really, *their* brains work and my brain doesn’t.

      It REALLY hurts when others make me wrong, totally ignoring what I DO as they focus on what I don’t — *especially* since they don’t realize how many hoops I must jump through to accomplish.

      I sometimes think its a bloody miracle I’m not living in a cardboard box under a bridge (and you’d be surprised to hear how CLOSE I’ve come to that a few times)

      Since I don’t have kids to inspire drive, comments and ‘likes’ (like yours, THANKS!) are sometimes all that keep me going when I want to pack it in.

      You’d probably ALSO relate to the recent article re: “Open for Membership<==link – and keep your eyes open for Mid-Life Makeovers (my new brainchild in development, currently testing my resolve in many ways as I try to get it up and running).

      BTW- my Mom’s dad was stationed in the Philipines when she was around ten(ish) – and I have GREAT pictures — so I love to see any that you post. When I finally kick my own life into economic success, expect a visit.



      • philippinewanderer says:

        Thanks for the interesting reply, wow, you really get this whole brain injured thing! I can tell because of the remarks made in your reply…

        “Yeah, the poker gods decided to deal both of us great hands before we knew how to play the game (much less strategize the win) – and we folded a few hands we ‘should’ have held and lost the pot to somebody who didn’t deserve it. BUT if we keep playing, we get better, right?”

        And philippinewanderer asks…”Do you really think it ever improves?”

        “It REALLY hurts when others make me wrong, totally ignoring what I DO as they focus on what I don’t — *especially* since they don’t realize how many hoops I must jump through to accomplish.”

        For some reason I emerged from the coma a much more sensitive man and that has hampered more than helped that’s for sure! Just a thought, I think this info could benefit some with TBI’s also so could you post this under traumatic brain injury as well, thanks.

        And thank you for your response

        Liked by 1 person

        • Be right back – reply window keeps shutting down on me mid-post, so I’m off to draft in another software and will come back to copy it in wholesale on edit (MUCH more stable, but something has to be there TO edit, thus this comment)

          RE: “does it ever improve” – SURE – we live and learn, however the “it” to which you refer is a bubble under plastic. A great many days we get the bear – but most days some other bear gets us!

          I’m adding a the “TBI help too” tag to this article per your request (you can click on any tag or category – in teeny type at the end of each post – to pull up a blogroll of other articles with the same tag or category, btw)

          Maybe its time to give TBI an official category of its own – my problem is that I struggle with which articles to cross-file in that category. So many of the articles (like this one) don’t scream TBI, even tho’ I’m sure most of the info here would be useful to ANYONE with brain-based challenges. The dreaded prefrontal cortex decision shut-down is the bear that gets me here!!

          DONE: at least for now. Click HERE for the LinkList to the PSTD and TBI Too articles – where you can jump to any that strike your fancy.

          Thanks for your comment — I’ll come back to edit this one if I left anything out (can’t see it from this screen).

          RE: “For some reason I emerged from the coma a much more sensitive man and that has hampered more than helped that’s for sure!” I get that so-much-more than you could EVER know.

          Sometimes I feel like the world expects me to be the Mother Theresa of Executive Functioning and I can *feel* their dismay when they realize that I’m just NOT – only a fellow wanderer willing to share when I can do it (which is never 24/7).

          In many ways I was personally better off with my happy-go-lucky facade of a party girl (when I barely noticed that others expected more of me) – BEFORE I learned that ADD was the source of my quirkiness and began my quest to learn how to manage it.

          I certainly had A LOT more life in my life and a great deal more R&R FUN! (support expectations are brutal, and I keep at it much longer than is good for me) An ex used to say, “No good deed goes unpunished” – and far too many days anymore I tend to agree with him. Don’t get me wrong – I do love being helpful, but nobody can be a one-woman unpaid support service and survive it. I certainly can’t, in any case, even though it breaks my heart to acknowledge it.


  4. Relationships are already difficult w/o having to worry about your partner’s ADD. This post is great because of it’s concise and direct comments on how to manage a relationship with someone with CC

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Emly says:

    Even with disorders and disabilities they still have the right to fall in love and be loved in return. The thing is many people can’t understand their situation and end up hurting each other in their so-called relationship. ADD is hard to face but it will easier if you face it along with the people you love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Emly –

      SO true!

      Sorry you’ve been waiting so long for my “approval.” Akismet marked you as spam and I just found you (probably because of the link). I welcome links to like-minded sites, by the way, so if you see something over here that you feel is “related content” for something on your blog, I will approve your link (eventually – I get A LOT of spam and don’t always have time to wade through it! :D).


  6. Pingback: ADHD Brain Science and ADHD Coaches Now Connect | CorePsych Blog

  7. Madelyn,
    Thanks so much for including CorePsych Blog in your list of references here. As you know, and accurately point out in your list here, so many who suffer with ADD/ADHD just don’t have the meds dialed in effectively, and too often feel that simply taking the med will cover all day. Not so.

    Duration of Effectiveness [DOE] way too often quits before that partner comes home, and they do well at work or with the kids during the day, then fall apart in the evening, the only real time with their partners. Thinking and ruminating now finds itself in the radar, whereas previously so many thought the only symptoms of ADHD were impulsivity. Cognitive anxiety, rumination, fretting and other forms of unmanageable thinking simply mean the DOE needs more attention for the evening – and can often be corrected by a simple med change to cover that important interpersonal time. Watch the sleep, think about when that PM dose runs, and set the reminders to take it.

    Done. – Much easier than heartbreak

    Liked by 1 person

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