Melissa Orlov’s Couples Marriage Seminar starts in exactly one week (on Wednesday, April 25th). I thought her book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage was fantastic, so I decided to speak with her to find out what her course was all about.
In addition to acting as a consultant to ADHD-affected couples, Melissa (who does not have ADHD) is married to an ADHDer.
Although we had a lengthy conversation, she had me at:
“If you have a therapist who is saying that your partner is a jerk… because they don’t understand ADHD, and they don’t understand that a person with ADHD can be very inwardly focused without any mal-intent at all, then it may or may not help.”
Without further adieu, let me tell you about her upcoming couples seminar, followed by an abridged version of our interview, to be continued tomorrow.
Melissa’s course looks at each partner’s role in the couple’s marital problems. It also “busts some myths, helps you practice using specific tools that will help, and gets you started in a much better direction” (from her course description).
The course takes place over seven phone calls, one evening each week. In addition to covering the material, there’s also written and live Q&A time with Melissa.
Specific topics include:
- What good treatment for ADHD looks like, how to find a good doctor, what questions to ask
- Important differences between you and your partner
- How to manage your anger
- An in-depth look at the most important patterns in ADHD impacted marriages, and what to do about them
- What it takes to rebuild trust
- The importance of validation for you both
- How to move past the rollercoaster of raised and dashed hopes
- How do we move from “correcting our problems” to “enjoying each other?”
- What steps can I take to provide hope to my partner and myself?
These are just a few things she’ll cover.
When I spoke with Melissa, I had questions about her course, but I also had some questions about some of the challenges I’ve observed in couples (some of them who are close friends) who are in a mixed marriage (ADHD / non-ADHD). Here’s some of our conversation:
“Feeling that you’re not alone is huge.”
~ Melissa Orlov
Zoë: Is it important for the non-ADHD partner to get individual counselling simultaneously if the couple is getting counselling? And the same question for the ADHD partner.
Melissa: I will only work with couples. They’re so interconnected that I don’t think you can solve the relationship problems one person at a time.
However, a lot of people who work with me also work with individual therapists because they just need more time to process things and to work through their own issues.
Of course, you can only change yourself, and so each person’s challenge as they come to grips with understanding how to interact better is also to figure out how to change themselves. And so an individual therapist can help them work through that process. It’s more useful if the person they’re working with has an understanding of ADHD so that they’re not getting contradictory advice.
For the ADHD partner, there is a need typically to have some medical professional who is working with you on optimizing [your ADHD] treatment, particularly the physiological side of it if you’re taking medications.
Zoë: I was thinking about the non-ADHD partner having cumulative feelings of anger and grief, frustration, etc. that might have gone on for decades and giving them support that it’s quite understandable to feel what you’re feeling.
Melissa: Feeling that you’re not alone is huge. A lot of people who go to my forum, actually that’s their response to it. Even though the issues are very difficult, and these emotions are very hurting, the fact that they know that others are going through the same thing is a revelation for them. It doesn’t solve their problems, but at least they know they’re not alone and that’s a great feeling.
But again, if you have a therapist who is saying well, your partner is being a jerk, or your partner is a narcissist, or your partner is self-centered because they don’t understand the ADHD and they don’t understand that a person with ADHD can be very inwardly focused without any mal-intent at all, then it may or may not help.
Well, alrighty then! See you back here tomorrow for more relationship insights from Melissa Orlov.