Are We There Yet? – ADD/ADHD and Dealing with Impatience
When it comes to ADD/ADHD, impatience may be the one symptom that frustrates husbands and wives
equally, although perhaps for different reasons. The wife sees a husband who may not be able to sit
still, rushes to interrupt, or moves from one thing to the next without coming up for air. The husband,
though, is driven to this particular kind of distraction by his internal wiring. In fact, it may be that an
excess of impatience is the strongest early warning sign when it comes to diagnosing adult ADD/ADHD.
Make no mistake: Husbands with ADD/ADHD are often are keenly aware of their impatience. The world
just does not move fast enough for their restless brains. Here is a sampling of the kinds of challenges
they have to deal with in this area:
“One day I need to take a video of my impatience dance every time my unmedicated self has to wait at a
pedestrian crossing.” – Rupert D., Summerville, MA
“I now play Words with Friends on my phone because waiting five minutes for a dish to cook is just way
too long.” – Steward, M., Toronto, Canada
“I require constant stimulation even when I have used up all my energy and need a rest. Waiting 90
seconds for a kettle to boil drives me insane, so I go do something else to keep me busy and forget about
the kettle. Usually, I end up boiling it three times before I actually make a drink.” Nigel P., Roanoke, VA
“I’m impatient in conversations of course because I can’t sustain energy and focus and lose interest.”
Tom M., Chicago, IL.
“I am prior military AND have ADD/ADHD. I tell you, I want everything done now. I have the hardest time
shopping with my wife, because I want to get in, take the fastest route possible, and get out. She wants
to inspect what seems like EVERY item in the store. I feel like my chest is going to explode sometimes
because I want to tell her that she has wasted 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back.” George
N., Raleigh, NC.
“I actually packed the bags for check-out girl in the grocery store because she wasn’t moving quick
enough for me.” David B., Los Angeles, CA.
While ADD/ADHD husbands may feel the frustration as they go through their day, the wives of these
men usually are left to clean up the mess left behind. However, since both sides seem to want relief
when it comes to dealing with impatience, the door may be more open when it comes to adopting
Sandy Maynard, is an ADD/ADHD coach who frequently writes for the ADDitude.com website on how to
cope with ADD/ADHD and its various intrusions into daily life. She points out that impatience is more
than a desire to get something done in order to move on to the next. As the husbands’ comments
indicated, impatience in the ADD/ADHD man takes on restless, physical component. The body literally
cannot sit still, which affects the overall state of mind to the point where the husband truly believes he
cannot wait even one second longer.
As such, wives can help their ADD/ADHD husbands rein in their impatience by suggestions a few physical
1. Deep breathing. Learning to calm the body can help fend off the burning desire to keep moving and
seeking additional stimulation.
2. Whenever possible, simplify projects, rather than complicated them. Many ADD/ADHD guys make
projects much more complicated than necessary. The result creates an overload that often leads to the
man shutting down rather than finishing what he started.
3. Keep to-do lists as short as possible. Nature, and ADD/ADHD, abhors a vacuum. A standard-sized
piece of paper filled with all the projects and errands your husband has in mind to get to is a recipe for
disaster. Better to keep employ the KISS principle and keep the lists as short and simple as possible.
If you husband balks and wants to add more and more items, remind him that the world comes with a
lot of blank pieces of paper and that it is better to finish a few projects and move on than to create an
endless list and never finish one.
The above suggestions focus primarily on the mental aspects of dealing with the effects of impatience.
The other side, of course, is how to navigate the actual world outside. In this realm, husbands should
keep the following adage in mind: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” This means creating an action
plan and making sure he has the tools to ensure he can draw on the plan when necessary.
The following tips should prove helpful:
1. Carry a notebook and pen. When the dreaded 30-second down time hits, your husband should have
this handy tool ready to jot down ideas, doodle, or otherwise engage his mind so they he doesn’t end
up feeling he is wasting valuable time. Other items in this “emergency preparedness” kit can include
an iPod, book, or video game. Some husbands report that just having options available to them helps to
calm their impatience.
2. Use code words. One husband with ADD/ADHD acknowledges that he sometimes picks a fight with
his wife in order to stimulate his action-starved brain. However, the solution soon proved worse than
the problem. Eventually, he and his wife developed a code word he could use to alert his wife that
the impatience monster was about to rear its head. This gave both sides a heads-up to switch to an
alternative activity, while allowing the conversation to continue.
3. Use tactile tools. For example, encourage your husband to carry a smooth stone, coin, putty, or piece
of jewelry that he can fiddle with in a fairly unobtrusive manner. This can help him stay focused on the
conversation while providing some release for his wandering mind.