Earlier this week, I received the following email from reader Maryellen:

My husband was diagnosed with Adult ADD approximately 4 years ago and I found a blog entry on the internet that comes to mind almost weekly. It had to do with responding to your ADD/ADHD partner’s random declaration of thoughts and how to be thoughtful and caring while doing so. The blog entry mentioned how your partner declared from another room something along the lines of, “So NOW they have herb goat cheese!!” or something like that and the reaction could have been one of 3 things such as “FINALLY! NOW they have herb goat cheese!”, or “What the heck are you talking about?”, or “Really?  Who has herb goat cheese?” expressing interest and not making your partner feel ridiculous for the random burst of thought.

I think of this EVERY SINGLE TIME my husband randomly says something and I have NO idea what he’s talking about. I try to remember that what he’s saying makes sense to him. It really was wonderful and I use that as a model frequently so I am wondering if you could possibly send it to me if you still have it? I would really appreciate it!

A big thank you to Maryellen for the hilarious reminder of a conversation I had with Jen back in 2010. So without further adieu, here is the original post from my former blog, So I Married an ADDer.

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adhd-sheepPeople with ADHD are known for speaking impulsively and speaking out of context. They also have very little patience for formality. Jen is no exception.

Last night, I was washing the dishes and Jen was in the living room. We weren’t even having a conversation. Then, out of nowhere, she yells to me, “Of course now he has raw sheep cheese!”

Wrap your head around that one.

I had to first figure out who has raw sheep cheese and why having it now is so upsetting.

I am a pro at this. I can carry on a perfectly fine conversation with Jen without knowing what she’s talking about for a good three or four sentences.

Several times a day, she will walk into a room and say something completely random that she just expects me to understand. In the beginning, my response was usually, “What the hell are you talking about?” But now I’m so used to it that I can jump right in.

Here are my 3 easy steps for carrying on a conversation with your ADHD partner when you don’t actually know what the conversation is about:

Step #1: Rephrase and Repeat

Rephrase what your partner just said and repeat it back to them:

Now he has raw sheep cheese?”

Step #2: Mirror Their Emotions

Mimic the emotion your partner is feeling to show that you agree.

“That bastard!”

Step #3: Move it Forward

Ask an open-ended question about the situation to gain some clarity.

“Now what are you going to do?”

This will ideally move the conversation toward a conclusion, or at least shed some light on what’s being discussed.

To be honest, I’m still not sure what the sheep cheese thing was about. Just don’t tell Jen!

Does your ADHD partner say things completely out of context that you’re expected to understand? Tell us about it in the comments.

 


Erin Korey About Erin Korey

Erin Korey is the Managing Partner and Chief Operations Officer of the ADD Management Group, LLC and ADHDmanagement.com.

Comments

  1. DeeDee, My hubby does that and it does drive me crazy too! He will be rambling about multiple topics while I am quietly trying to figure out wth is his point and will he get to it soon please. …..and then he’ll stop…sometimes for a minute and I’m left there trying not to let my jaw hang open :P while I wait for him to finish. It is awkward and I don’t think he is aware of it so I try to be patient. I’m finding myself tuning him out sometimes just to keep my sanity as he rambles about “his life experiences” that I’ve heard a million times but they seem so important to him and his identity now. And then when I think he is done I’ll ask him something like, so what is your conclusion? :)

  2. I love the post. I’m guilty as charged. Does anyone else stop mid-sentence? Stop, complete and utter stop; the thought has evaporated; i have so moved on, usually, three or four subjects ahead. Leaving the other person a conversational cliff, sentence dangling in thin space.
    It drives my husband nuts. Being a kind person, in his asbeurger kind of way, to fonish my thought. I am so lost, what is he talking about? What were we talking about? It seemed brilliant at the time and now it is irrelevant and for the life of me I have no idea what I was going to say. Hes had to wonder, is she crazy or have early onset of Alzhiemers-I don’t, I was checked :)
    I was diagnosis 2 months ago with ADHD and I’m 48!

    • Erin Korey Erin Korey says:

      DeeDee, I love “it seemed brilliant at the time and now it is irrelevant.” Doesn’t that just sum it up! :)

  3. This is great! But how do you deal with the sudden unannounced changes of topic? My ADDer husband and I will be having a conversation that makes sense to both of us, than he changes the subject and it takes me a bit to catch on. I get frustrated and he gets frustrated and angry. Help!

    • Erin Korey Erin Korey says:

      That kind of thing can definitely be frustrating, but try to take it in stride and find something positive to focus on! Or laugh it off!

  4. Oh my goodness. I’ve been married 17 years and have until now never understood that my husband’s random interjections and “lack of context” conversations are part of his ADD. It is especially mortifying when we go out with friends. He always seems to jump into conversations without realizing the people we are with have absolutely NO idea what he was talking about. Thanks for the tools to help me manage my own reactions and find some humor in the situation! Boy, I’ve learned a lot today. Thank you!

  5. I have ADHD and I SO love you for posting this! This is exactly right, unless there is some reason why perfect clarity is crucial, just ROLL with it! I’ve had so much trouble trying to find a partner in life who could do that, bless you for being able to do it.

    And the “That bastard!” line cracks me up all over again every time I read it!

    Thank you TONS.

  6. So two years on do you know about the raw sheep cheese? :P

    As the non-ADDer it was nice to see this method that I’ve subconsciously used written out. I’ve also sometimes tweaked it when I want to change her emotional state from negative to positive by laying out the silly and positive in my own speech pattern very thickly and getting the ADDer who naturally absorbs external energies to mirror me.

    Sadly, I find there are many times when I’m in a sour mood and she is initially in a happy mood that she’ll absorb and magnify my bad mood in herself and then I need to work double time in getting us both out of that frame of mind.

    Once again, the phrase “Now what are you going to do?” is pure gold in piercing the confusion and helping the non-ADDer and the ADDer to understand the situation and possibly have a direction from what to do next.

    • Erin Korey Erin Korey says:

      Thanks for saying so, Michael! No, I still do not know (or care) about raw sheep cheese. Sounds disgusting, to be honest! I should do a post about “mood absorption” at some point, for sure, because that comes into play quite a bit.

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