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Navigating Valentine's Day When You Have ADHD

02/13/2015 04:13 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT

For many adults with ADHD, Valentine's Day can be a minefield.

First, we suck at relationships. Second, we have terrible memories, so even if we're lucky enough to be in a relationship, we're just as likely to forget the big day as score big with our Valentine.

Then there's two-time Guinness World Record holder Dave Farrow. Farrow's managed to channel his ADHD traits into triumphs, including a world-class memory and a steadfast marriage.

Still, like most of us with ADHD, Farrow's path to wedded bliss has been a rocky one.

"I didn't really realize ADD was the reason I was doing certain things. I'd get depressed, or I'd lose focus, or I'd do something and it would be an argument, right? And then shortly after that it would be a break-up."

"I am married now, but I was quite the player," says Farrow.

Inability to stick with relationships is all-too-common with ADHD, especially if it's undiagnosed.

Like many of us, Farrow quickly became bored with his dates.

The tide turned when Farrow met his wife Andrea Zakel (aka "Mrs. Memory").

The pair had been dating when Farrow (a Canadian) was offered a job with Sony Corporation, working in the U.S. In order to get a permanent Visa and keep working stateside, Farrow's lawyer informed him that he'd have to move down officially for a few years.

Being the classic ADHD risk-taker, Farrow took the plunge.

"I went up to Andrea, she was my girlfriend at the time, and I said, 'Look, I have this opportunity, and I want you to come with me but you're gonna have to quit your job.'"

Zakel, also a Canadian, was working as a high school teacher at the time. This was 2008, right in the midst of a financial crisis. Farrow warned her it was a big risk.

"Let me pack my stuff," was her reply.

Having given up her job, her family, everything - Zakel had another hurdle to confront.

"The lawyer basically said to her, 'You know, you're either going to love me or you're going to hate me, because in two weeks you guys are going to have to get married.'"

"It was a moment where I grew up a bit too," says Farrow.

Being different is the hallmark of ADHD, and this is no less true of the Farrow marriage.

"We've been married 4-6 years," says Farrow.

The Farrows sealed the deal secretly at City Hall in Toronto in 2008, and then two years later at an official, large wedding ceremony where they announced that they'd already been married for two years.

But how does a former ADHD playboy manage living in holy matrimony?

"I had to kind of go through that crucible of relationship after relationship, just failing and failing until I found the right fit. I mean, if there's any advice I can give, it's just wait until you find somebody who really gets you."

To accomplish that, it takes constant communication and asking questions, says Zakel.

"A lot of it has come from years [of] being with him and him telling me, 'Look, it's easier this way,' or 'It's harder this way.' So just kind of, you know, recalling what he's told me as feedback."

Initially, Zakel felt some frustration in the relationship.

"I'd tell him something and then, like, a day or two later he'd be like, 'I don't remember that.' And I'm like, 'You were looking me straight in the face. What do you mean you don't remember me telling you that?'"

Is it possible that the man with the best memory on the planet forgot? Not likely. It's much more likely that the classic ADHD trait of distractibility was at play.

Andrea has discovered some crucial ADHD sweetheart secrets to deal with this, too.

"When we are communicating about things I myself have to just be aware of the surroundings. So I'll know to turn the television off from the background or in some situations, turn it on if he needs to have something else to focus on at the same time."

While everyone's different, says Andrea, "I know my Dave and you know, it's making sure that it's just he and I with a closed door sometimes so that he can focus just on me, but also have something maybe in his hands to fiddle with 'cause he's always, you know, fiddling on something else as well.

"It was like an Aha moment, when that pin dropped and I realized that this [ADHD] was not going to go away and it's something I had to kind of work with and accommodate."

The moment Zakel agreed to move to the United States with Farrow, "It was 100%; where you go, I go, we're a team," says Farrow. "I have been spending the last 5 years trying to live up to her vision of me ever since."

If you have ADHD and want to improve your memory, check out The Farrow Memory Method at davefarrow.com. You might even learn to remember next Valentine's Day.