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Navigating Love & ADHD – Mark And Eve's Journey

Robynne Pendariès, an American who has lived in France her whole adult life, brings her 18 years of experience as a Professional Organizer to her present passion of online coaching for adults with ADHD. Robynne partners with clients in a thought-provoking process, to create sytems in order to find each person's "life that fits".

 
Executive Contributor Robynne Pendariès

Let me introduce you: Mark is a life coach from England, a loving father, and has ADHD. Eve is Mark’s incredibly supportive French wife. Here is their story…


Couple hugging each other in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Let’s briefly go back to when Mark was a child… and his ADHD went unnoticed. Mark recalls his childhood as being surrounded by a loving supportive family. He did well academically and doesn’t remember feeling anything unusual at that age. At university, Mark was still in a structured academic environment, so having ADHD didn’t cause serious problems in his everyday life. As a young adult, Mark worked in the family business as a pharmacist: a great fit for Mark’s “quirky brain” (his words)! Often, adults with ADHD handle tasks well with few steps: a pharmacist doesn’t have to plan or act on anything…he just REACTS when the client comes in to fill a prescription. Adults with ADHD handle projects with long thought processes, or those which need follow-up, less well: since Mark was the boss in his place of work, the other employees would often pick up the slack if he forgot an order or misplaced a prescription. This “support system” allowed Mark to function at a suitable level. That said, Mark’s self-esteem was negatively affected by other people’s expectations of him: to be organized, to remember things, to follow through on projects. These are all things which adults with ADHD often have great difficulty executing – no matter how hard they try!


A few years later, Mark met Eve… When Eve first met Mark and went to his “bachelor pad” in England, her eyes bulged! She said she had never met anyone so disorganized, going through his day with no apparent structure – she was sure they would never make it as a couple. Eve said she remembers thinking, “It doesn’t make sense! He seemed so smart, yet did such stupid, forgetful things. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just try harder. He managed to get a university degree and run a business, yet he seemed so disorganized – I was scared”. 


Eve and Mark decided to live together in Paris… this was the beginning of a very tough time for Mark – leaving his business behind to start a new one on his own, moving to Paris where he didn’t speak the language (transitions are often very challenging for people with ADHD). Eve soon found herself becoming very judgmental, thinking of Mark as lazy and unwilling to make an effort to improve his “bad habits”. Until that point in time, Mark’s chronic disorganization had never gotten him into serious “trouble”. Mark later realized, after he was diagnosed with ADHD, that living that kind of life was saving him a lot of energy – energy better used in other ways! 


Mark finally arrived in Paris… with the moving man and all his belongings, and there was even more tension. Now, Mark and Eve were trying to “merge” their lives and their paperwork together. Eve, as neat and organized as she was, now had to share her workspace and living space with someone who seemed to be the complete opposite! Soon after Eve and Mark moved in together, Mark self-diagnosed his ADHD haphazardly while reading a book. At this point in their relationship, Mark knew already that he needed to be with a woman who was highly organized and efficient. Eve knew that it was going to be tough, but they were both hopeful that they could make it work. They were at the beginning of a long and interesting journey, and the diagnosis was only the starting point.


Eve figured out something soon after moving in with Mark… in a relationship where one adult has ADHD, the couple must avoid falling into a parent/child rapport. This is challenging since adult with ADHD often behave in ways that are associated with young children: disorganization, forgetfulness, acting irresponsibly, magical thinking, child-like reactions, etc. The adult without ADHD should not “baby” the partner with ADHD, to compensate for the other person’s weaknesses.


On to the next stage of their love story… Once Mark decided to share his “aha moment” of self-diagnosed ADHD with Eve, he then contacted an ADHD coach. He was ready to “wrap his head around the diagnosis” and to seek treatment. Eve became more understanding of Mark’s behavior, as she saw him putting a lot of effort into adapting to a new country, a new environment, a new life together. Eve felt that her own challenges of living with an adult with ADHD were acknowledged and understood. Eve became much more understanding and learned to not take everything so personally. She was finally convinced that her husband was really and truly suffering from a disorder beyond his control, and he was not being neglectful and forgetful just to annoy his wife!


Mark started ADHD medication… and this made a huge improvement in Mark's capacity to focus, to remember, and to function at a high level in everyday tasks. He soon felt like he was in control, and that he could make great strides and change his life. However, “your life is still your life, and sometimes life gets in the way”. On days when Mark was ill, got little sleep, or was under stress, the medication had little effect. It is extremely important for both children and adults with ADHD to get regular exercise, eat well, sleep well, and stick to routines. Recently, Mark decided to stop all medication and put himself on a high-protein, no-sugar regime. Now his brain feels less “foggy”: he feels more in control and more productive in his everyday life. Mark said that the medication was a “stepping stone” to implement other lifestyle changes. In addition, Mark also consulted a therapist specialized in “energetic work”, which has proven very helpful.


Eve’s advice on how to help a partner better manage ADHD


  • Don’t be judgmental. Be patient and have a good sense of humor!

  • People with ADHD beat themselves up enough. Don’t make it worse...

  • Educate yourself about ADHD to promote empathy.

  • Communicate with each other honestly and openly. 

  • Praise noticeable improvements regarding habits, no matter how small.

  • Attribute clear structured tasks which are in line with each person’s strengths.


Mark’s advice for “ADHD couples”


  • Get a diagnosis and treatment (an ADHD coach, Therapist, Professional Organizer, and medication). It can help you function at a higher level and can help your relationships.

  • ADHD happens to be the “mental disorder” that is the most treatable!

  • Surround yourself with supportive and loving people, especially a supportive spouse.


If Mark and Eve’s story resonates with you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for a free “discovery call”, to explore the ways in which ADHD coaching would be beneficial for you or your partner.


 

Robynne Pendariès, ADHD Coach for Adults

Robynne Pendariès, an American who has lived in France her whole adult life, brings her 18 years of experience as a Professional Organizer to her present passion of online coaching for adults with ADHD. After a few years of organizing people's homes and offices, Robynne realized that many of her clients had been diagnosed with ADHD (and subsequently her husband and teenage daughter as well). Without realizing it, Robynne had been helping people with neuro-divergent brains for many years, and she went back to school to obtain formal training as an ADHD coach. Robynne partners with clients in a thought-provoking process, to create sytems in order to find each person's "life that fits".

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