A support group for the partners of adults with ADHD? That struck many people as a strange concept in 2003, when I advanced it in an essay that went “viral”. (I include it below. You’ll also find a link to the podcast of this post.)
More than 20 years later, the need still remains puzzling to some. That includes some mental-health professionals—even those with high-level adult ADHD expertise. Yet, ADHD Partner Group is still going strong, internationally.
After years of being free, we recently made it a modestly priced membership site. Why?
- COVID-related stresses created an unmanageable influx
- New technology means I could expand the features, including small Zoom meetings
Now, members are better able to follow each others’ stories. For now, it’s only $15/month, with options to participate in monthly Zoom groups (max 12 attendees). I also offer a sub-group group for the male partners of women with ADHD.
The feedback on the Zoom feature is overwhelming positive. Therapy can be helpful. But hearing from your peers and receiving their validation and support….priceless. Sometimes just one meeting is enough to get you on the path to healing—yourself and sometimes your relationship, too.
You can read more here: ADHD Partner Group FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Background on ADHD Partner:
A few years after I founded the first group for the “partners of”, I felt compelled to educate the public and the profession by writing the essay for our local CHADD newsletter. It circulated widely online at the time. (Remember, this was 2003! The Internet wasn’t what it is today. No social media. No blogs, at least on Adult ADHD. Google in its infancy. Think more grassroots than commercial.)
Four years later, in 2008, my first book expanded this theme. That is, the importance of including the partner in the evaluation and treatment (especially medication) for the ADHD adult.
In 2016, my second book presented an equitable couple-therapy model. This is in keeping with research pointing to a “bi-directional” effect from living with an untreated mental-health condition. That is, ADHD can creates stress for the individual who has it, and that stress can exacerbate the condition. Stress in relationships, on the job, with money, and with children. Even if only for the benefit of the ADHD partner, holistic treatment is crucial.
Still, sadly, most prescribers and therapists fail to get it. As a result, many adults with ADHD don’t receive the treatment they deserve. That affects every aspect of their lives, including employment, health, intimate relationships, and parenting.
ADHD’s “Bi-directional” Effect—On Both Partners
Psychologist Arthur L. Robin, Phd, and I incorporated this “bi-directional” evidence-based knowledge to our ADHD couple-therapy model. See Q&A with the Experts: Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy™
We now live in the time of COVID. Living situations, jobs, and health have been stressed than ever and resources are restricted. Moreover, we face overwhelming numbers of social media groups and other pitches for adults with ADHD and their partners. How do we know what is solid—and what is hustle? It’s often tricky.
Now, more than ever, we must tend to both partners’ needs and, thus, the needs of the relationship and the family. The situation is critical, and lives hang in the balance. Validation, solid guidance, and expertise can make all the difference. That’s where ADHD Partner shines like the North Star.
Now for the little essay.
[advertising; not endorsement] [advertising; not endorsement]
2003 Essay: Why Support for The Partners?
When partners of folks with ADHD attend a support group, what’s on the agenda?
Okay, venting sessions do occur – especially after, say, the partner with ADHD has gone on a particularly costly E-bay buying binge.
In large part, however, individuals seek a support group to better understand their ADHD partner. In many cases, they also seek to salvage a relationship marred by years – if not decades – of misunderstanding and hurt. They hope to stop being exasperated and depressed and start learning new strategies.
Lest we forget: Many partners knew nothing about adult ADHD prior to the relationship. (Their ADHD partners didn’t, either!)
Sure, books on the subject [there were only about 3 when I started the group] prove invaluable. Nothing, however, beats real-life validation: “Oh, you mean that’s ADHD impulsivity, too?” and “You mean he or she isn’t doing that just to drive me insane?”
With each new “a-ha” moment, members gain a different perspective. Soon, the confusion subsides and real learning takes place.
Listen In to the ADHD Partner Group Chat:
“Listen in” to an online support group via these snippets:
—”My understanding ADHD meant that I could gain a firmer grip on reality. I came to know exactly what I was dealing with, instead of being perpetually confused by the chaos. From that point, I could stop reacting and start acting.”
—“When I first came to this group, I had so much anger. I actually felt like I was spitting fire when I would vent here. Now I’ve been able to separate things out.”
—“I have a long way to go to understand and cope with my dear husband, but I’ve progressed more in 2 weeks being in this group than in the previous 8 years.”
—”It feels like a new world of possibilities has opened up. I feel true hope for the first time in many years.”
—“The more my husband understands his ADHD and the more I share and read with the group, the better things get.”
Validation Paves Path To Happier Future
Practical information fills the conversations as well – strategies for better communication, financial management, household chore delegation, finding good care providers, and co-parenting with their partners.
Bit by bit, members can start focusing less on ADHD and more on enriching their lives, regaining a sense of themselves that had become “lost in the fog.”
Best of all, the group provides a community of people who need no explanations and always offer a sympathetic ear. Sometime, this opportunity to be heard and alleviate feelings of isolation makes all the difference.
One long-time member puts it this way:
Before I found this group I thought I was all alone with absolutely no one to understand the dynamics that my partner’s ADHD created in the relationship (including the therapist). But here I’ve found that everyone is in the same boat and we’re all trying and exploring our different options. I am eternally grateful to this group – it’s what has kept me going since I’ve joined 4 years ago!
Copyright 2003-2023 Gina Pera
To learn more about how it works, visit ADHD Partner
New! Listen to this post on my podcast: