adhd coping skills for adults.

7 ADHD Coping Skills For Adults That Will Improve Your Relationship Today

You may pride yourself on how much effort you put into improving your relationship.  You may be one of those people who is always exploring new ways to increase the happiness and peace in your relationship.  However, you might not have considered how ADHD coping skills could really improve your relationship. 

If your partner has ADHD, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful relationship; it’s just an important factor to address.  Of course your partner has many strengths and abilities you love and find attractive.  But sometimes, your partner with ADHD and you need to learn new coping skills for marital satisfaction.  

Why Do Adults With ADHD Have Relationship Problems?

Most couples have relationship problems because when two people communicate about many issues, such as work life balance, children, in-laws, parenting, and intimacy, they are bound to miscommunicate and misunderstand each other sometimes. 

When you add the component of ADHD, which can cause distraction, difficulty staying on task, or focusing, these conversations can become even more challenging. In addition, when ADHD adults struggle with time management, organization and impulsivity, the conversations can start to focus on how the ADHD partner is not holding up his/her end of the relationship, and the topic at hand goes undiscussed.

What Are Some Coping Skills For Adult ADHD?

Every person needs to learn coping skills to manage household tasks, time management and emotional regulation. However, ADHD adults sometimes do not learn these tools and coping skills, or they may need coaching to implement strategies to complete these tasks 

7 ADHD Coping Skills for Adults

1. Create Calm: You need to be able to remain calm when you and your ADHD partner are discussing sensitive topics, so you will both need to have coping skills to self-regulate your emotions. Sometimes partners with ADHD have more challenges with emotional regulation, so learning ways to remain calm or deescalate will be important for your conversations. As a couples counselor, I recommend these resources for all couples, but especially for ADHD adults who need more self-regulation.

TOOL: Apps such as Calm, Waking Up or Brightmind are useful tools to learn how to be mindful of your feelings and emotions. 

2. List Your Partner’s Positive Qualities: When you look for the positive in your partner, it will help you focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. And in turn, when you see the positive, you are more likely to give your partner the benefit of the doubt and increase your connection. You can cope with life’s ups and downs when you focus on the positive aspects of your partner. 

TOOL: Once a week, write a list of your partner’s positive traits and reread it during the week (especially when you feel irritated or annoyed with them). 

3. Focus on Gratitude: As a couples counselor, I often hear ADHD and non-ADHD partners ask me what is there to be grateful for when it comes to ADHD. My answer is that ADHD can sometimes challenge you, but you can rise to the challenge and explore ways that the issue (ex. impulsivity) can be seen as a positive. For example, you can think about ways that you used to enjoy the spontaneity that ADHD brought to your relationship, and you can look for ways to incorporate it back into your life. 

TOOL : Keep a journal of how ADHD has helped you today. Write daily in a gratitude journal one thing you are thankful for regarding your partner.

4. Visualize A Stop Sign: Sometimes you might have difficulty stopping a conversation as it becomes heated. Some ADHD adults use visualization to help them slow down and redirect their behavior and actions. 

TOOL: Place a picture of a stop sign in your kitchen or bedroom for a visual reminder to stop the conversation if you are feeling upset or angry. 

5. Give Your Partner A Hug: Rather than lecturing, demanding or reprimanding your partner, try to hug each other. Love will create more positive responses than negativity ever will. 

TOO : A hug a day (or more than one) will increase your happiness and relationship satisfaction.

6. Find Positive Stories & Inspirational Stories: Read or watch stories about inspirational people who all had ADHD, such as Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, IKEA founder and chairman Ingvar Kamprad, JetBlue founder David Neeleman, Cisco Systems CEO John T. Chambers, Jim Carrey and Howie Mandel.

TOOL: Find someone that inspires or encourages you, and instead of seeing ADHD as a deficit, find ways to make it your superpower. 

7. Ask Yourself “What Do I Need?”:You may often not notice how you are feeling or what you need because you are distracted with work, kids or your relationship. However, when you take time to ask yourself “What do I need?” you have an opportunity to slow down and reflect on your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Distractions from work, kids or your relationship may be difficult to notice your feelings. You will be able to handle life’s challenges more effectively by first putting your oxygen mask on first before you help others. 

TOOLS: Set a timer on your phone for a specific time to check in with yourself and see what you may need to better care for yourself so you can better care for others. 

ADHD partners need to know what can help them cope more effectively with stress and negative emotions. These seven ADHD coping skills for adults can change your relationship. Pick one today and start using the tool to move toward happiness. 

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

Coping Skills You Need If Your ADHD Partner’s Inattentiveness, Distraction, Or Lack Of Focus Is Hurting Your Marriage

7 Ways Your Partner’s ADHD Affects Their Mood Swings & How To Best Address Your Worries

What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)

Why Do We Keep Having The Same Arguments?

ADHD & Relationships


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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