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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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.
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.