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Couples With One ADHD Partner

How to deal with Fatigue?

Especially during holidays but whenever there are social events or group interaction when my ADHD wife and I are both attending, I find myself exhausted! If there is a social with high potential for stress, I can become stressed and tired days before the actual event. Why?

Because I’m thinking through scenarios and contingencies in order to create the least stressful environment. Esp when we are hosting: “Which area to guide people when they arrive? After initial greetings, how to seat people strategically? If my wife sits in the middle she could either command the entire table with monologue, or if she hyper focuses on someone at the end of the table, she’ll be talking over people. OK, I’ll put her at the end and I’ll put myself in between (the martyr’s position) and then put someone who likes to talk to her across. Uh, oh, that person just texted she will arrive late. Whose the next best person to sit across from her? Gotta think of a plan B… After dinner, how to deal with dessert…” etc…

When it’s over I need to escape to recharge. Sometimes it takes days to recover.

OK, OK, I can hear you experts saying, “You’re taking on too much responsibility, blah blah blah…” I know about all that. And I’ve done better about letting go and allowing stuff to hit the fan. When we are not hosting, but just attending, I let her do whatever she wants, talk to whomever she wants and however she wants.

But when you have kids who get so embarrassed that they escape to their rooms the first chance they get, or you have friends who get irritated or an entire table of people trapped in a stream of consciousness monologue, then you have to think through logistical strategies to bring about a “good enough” outcome. Without a good strategy, I can feel resentful. If the strategy works, I can enjoy the time. However, having to be constantly thinking of what to do while making sure my word choice doesn’t set her off, creates built up stress resulting in me feeling wasted. And, aren’t these socials supposed to be fun?

If you can relate to my situation, here is the question:
What is the most effective thing that you do to help you deal with this kind of fatigue?
1) Pre-social stress that leads to fatigue?
2) Post-social fatigue?


The most effective thing I did to get rid of it altogether is to never, ever “host” any more social events or family gatherings, period.  If that isn’t a viable option, then the next best thing is to stop the insanity of hosting sit-down dinners.  Go more casual if you MUST entertain—barbeques or one course “meals” (dessert only is a popular alternative).

Posted by BC on Apr 14, 2014 at 4:14am

I have told all my friends that my husband has ADHD.  If he makes a fool of himself it doesn’t reflect on me.  Because that is really what you are worried about.  If you were concerned that everyone had a good time only it wouldn’t be so exhausting. 

I know my husband probably doesn’t like the fact that all my friends know but too bad for him.  They know that our daughter has ADHD because I did not want to have to make it a secret diagnosis.  Plus then how can I help her to socialize and behave well when she is at someone’s house if they aren’t aware?  It would be like if I failed to tell them that she was diabetic and they gave her a big huge piece of cake and she went into a coma or something, that would be dumb. 

So if you are embarrassed about her ADHD then it is a social stigma - meaning that you believe at some level that she can help it.  Have you seen Dr Russell Barkely’s lecture, Essential Ideas for Parents?  It is really helpful for spouses too.

And you might need to do a little soul searching to figure out why you need everything to go well.  I have party anxiety because of things that have nothing to do with my husband’s ADHD but as soon as I started to be honest with myself what was really going on - it triggered my abandonment issues strangely enough which are ancient hurts - that it started dissipating a bit.  I can have more fun now because I can more easily let go of the outcome.

And like BC says, if you don’t enjoy it why are you doing it?  You have to figure out why and what you care about so you can get rid of the pre-social stress. And post-social fatigue, what are you worried about?  What are you taking on that is not your stuff?  Because we often worry about things we can’t control.  The answer is inside you, not outside.

Posted by YellaRyan on Apr 14, 2014 at 10:21pm

My job requires a lot of socials. Thanks for the reality check.

Posted by Blues on Apr 15, 2014 at 2:57am

Oh my. So all the social stuff is job related? That is hard. And the kids are so embarrassed they hide in their rooms? That’s *bad*.

You don’t indicate whether your wife is taking medication for her ADHD but if she’s a talker anyhow (with or without the ADHD!) I don’t know if the meds would make a difference, you know?

You may have to somehow become Emotionally Detached, which is a different way of saying, Be Zen, during the parties about your wife’s behavior.

I’m probably wrong, but it doesn’t sound like you or your kids have developed social strategies for dealing with her behavior—what to say, how to not push her buttons, guide her along, etc—aside from the ones you are using yourself like a general arranging his troops. 

Your kids are lucky (I guess) they can go hide. I guess they’re teenagers? At that age, they could help you manage your parties at home, at least, a little bit. And then they, as well as you, could feel more in control of at least how your wife is affecting them and you.

Posted by JavaMonster on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:31pm

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