Jun 30, 2011

Acclimating to adjustments

It's been awhile since I've written about our story with Adult ADHD.* Last time, I pretty much just introduced the topic, whereas now I'd like to share a little bit about the adjustments we've made.

Adjustments and patience are two things Ben and I have found to be key, and let's be real, are two things I'm not great at. The biggest adjustment for us has been figuring out how the other person processes things. When I finish a really good book I like to sit for a few minutes seconds and think, but then I want to tell someone all about it. Same thing with movies - I like to talk about them leaving the theater, so by the time I'm home I've moved on.

That's not the case with Ben. He needs time to process, and doesn't like to discuss things right away. But once he's processed everything, he really likes to talk things out - this usually ends up being at night when we're getting ready for (or already in) bed.

This is not a big deal when it comes to books or movies, but when we're having a discussion about a big topic (our marriage, kids, etc), it can be frustrating. A lot of arguments started because I wanted to talk now, but was irritated because he wasn't actively participating in the discussion, or he was ready to talk then, but starting a big conversation late at night wasn't a good idea.

We've learned what works and doesn't, so we've come up with a system. When I want to talk about something big I mention it to him a few hours, or even a day or so before hand - and it's as simple as "hey, I want to talk you about moving, maybe at dinner," but I tell him that at breakfast. This way he knows it's coming and can articulate his opinions clearly for the conversation. I've also learned it's easier to save little questions to ask all at once, instead of constantly interrupting what he's doing.

When someone asks me a question I can answer it and go back to what I was doing, but it breaks Ben's focus so much that it takes him awhile to get back into what he'd been working on...just in time for me to ask him another question. If I save the questions for when he takes a break from drawing (or being on the computer), he can answer more succinctly and not lose focus.

He's learned to not bring up big topics late at night - because by the time I'm ready for bed, trying to have a logical discussion about something is not going to happen. (Trying to talk to me when I'm sleepy and/or cranky could probably be a form of torture). Of course, if there's a time-sensitive issue we can discuss it and make a decision, but if that's not the case, it's a lot better for both of us this way.

We've also come up with a system to rate the importance of what we're talking about. I read an article in this magazine that suggested assigning a number to the value of a topic so you can communicate more effectively with your spouse. So now, when Ben and I are having a conversation, if either of us feels like we're not getting input from the other we can say a number to convey the importance of the subject we're discussing. The range is from one to five with one being not important at all, and five being extremely important.

When I was first trying to plan colors for our fiesta ware, I kept asking Ben's opinion and he would tell me it didn't matter, I could pick what I wanted. I wanted his input though so I kept asking, and he finally turned to me and said, "babe, this is a one for me - I truly don't care." So I decided on colors myself and didn't worry about it anymore. It's really helpful for when we're tired or frustrated so we can communicate effectively without getting sidetracked by hurt feelings or misconceptions.

Living with Adult ADHD is all about adjustments - that's why this series is not going to be an easy, cut and dry few posts. Things changes - moods, circumstances, people - but what works for us is creating basic stability in most situations. That way, a change isn't the end of the world...just an adjustment.

Do you do any of these things? What are some strategies you use to adjust?

*I asked Ben if I could blog about this - his response was "of course, I don't care!" but I wanted to make sure I did this justice - because it's not just part of his story now, it's part of mine too. Anything I express in this post is my opinion, and should not be taken for medical fact. (If you think you might have ADD or ADHD consult a physician - i.e. not me!)


Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Interesting :) Eric probably would prefer to discuss things at night too, but he knows better with me. He banned me from talking on my phone with my mom past 8 during wedding planning because I would always get very angry and not be my usual relatively patient self!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I think that is a great approach! I am so glad that you & Ben have come up with a way to work with your differences in communication/processing/etc. I really like the rating thing!

Lucy The Valiant said...

It's great that you guys are able to learn each other so well! With my husband the biggest adjustment I've made is realizing that he takes a minute to formulate what he's going to say, so I've had to learn to slow the pace of conversations. That way I don't miss the awesome stuff he has to say!

Nora said...

I love the rating idea. Might need to incorporate that into my life here... i really appreciate you writing this series. It's a very interesting look at how others approach relationshipsas well as overcome the diffculties that we all inevitably have.

Amber said...

I love this! I think it sounds like you and Ben have figured out how to communicate so effectively with one another and that's fantastic because communication is SO important in a relationship.

The number system is really great too!

Can't wait to read more about this :)

Caroline said...

Wow interesting. I've never thought about this, but that's really great that you guys are able to recognize the issue and take steps to fix them (very creatively might I add).
The differences of when someone is ready to talk is SO hard. I've had similar issues with some of my friends. I'm more the type that wants to talk right then just to deal with it and get it out in the open/out of the way. But sometimes, I have friends that want to take time before talking about things. It's so hard to be patient but I know I have to be!

Mandy said...

I love that you and Ben have found a system that works for the both of you, which is super important.

Stephany said...

This is so interesting to read! I love how you have made this such a big part of your lives because communication is so important in any relationship. I love the rating system a lot!

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