Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Disorders Can Take a Toll on Marriage
Does your husband or wife constantly forget chores and lose track of the calendar? Do you sometimes feel that instead of living with a spouse, you’re raising another child? Your marriage may be suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Spouses with attention deficit, meanwhile, are often unaware of their latest mistake, confused by their partner’s simmering anger.
Tara Parker-Pope’s article Attention Disorders Can Take a Toll on Marriage discusses the impact of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on marriages. According to the article, couples where one partner has ADHD are more likely to experience conflicts, emotional distance, and dissatisfaction with their relationship. The symptoms of ADHD, including forgetfulness, impulsivity, and poor time management, can lead to a breakdown in communication and misunderstandings between partners. The article offers suggestions for managing ADHD in relationships, such as seeking treatment and therapy, improving communication, and developing coping strategies. The key words in this article are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), marriage, conflicts, communication, and coping strategies. With as many as 4% of adults affected and an estimated 50% not outgrowing it after childhood probably leaves more questions unanswered making this information all the more needed.
The impact of ADHD on marriages can be disastrous, leading to pain and anger, and even divorce. Symptoms of ADHD can make communication difficult, and spouses may feel ignored and lonely in their relationships. If you suspect that your partner has ADHD, it can be frustrating to constantly remind them to do things, leading to feelings of resentment and disappointment. On the other hand, if you have ADHD, you may feel as if your spouse has turned into a control freak, always trying to manage every aspect of your life.
However, understanding the role that ADHD plays in a marriage can help turn things around. Knowing the patterns that ADHD symptoms create and their predictable responses can help both partners make positive changes and avoid negative behaviors. Research suggests that rates of marital dysfunction and divorce are twice as high for people with ADHD compared to those without it. However, this does not mean that people with ADHD cannot be good partners.
“The ADHD Effect on Marriage” is a guide that takes couples through the steps needed to rebuild their relationship, repair emotional damage, and create a brighter and more satisfying future. The book helps couples realize that their problems are not due to character flaws, but rather the result of the impact of ADHD on their marriage. The guide also provides strategies to put ADHD back in its place, as just one aspect of their lives and not the overwhelming determinant of their days. “Typically people don’t realize the A.D.H.D. is impacting their marriage because there’s been no talk about this at all,”
The author, Melissa Orlov who is married to someone with ADHD, shares her own story of how their marriage began to fall apart, despite the fact that they loved each other. She could not understand how someone who had been so attentive could now ignore her needs, and he was equally confused and annoyed by her nagging. However, they were able to turn their marriage around by understanding the role that ADHD played and making positive changes.
In conclusion, ADHD can have a significant impact on marriages, but understanding the symptoms and predictable responses can help couples make positive changes.
The book, “The ADHD Effect on Marriage,” offers practical advice and strategies for couples to rebuild their relationship, repair emotional damage, and create a more satisfying future together. ADHD can create a host of challenges in a relationship. Melissa Orlov discussed how patterns appear in marriages strained by ADHD and offered how 12 symptoms trigger predictable responses leading to a downward spiral. Being prepared with knowledge of the triggers can head off responses that result in the wrong outcomes.
Symptoms on their own are often not destructive; it’s the response to the symptom, and then the response to the response that hurt. Non-ADHD partners should understand that the chemicals released in the brain during infatuation create an intense focus on each other, and this can make it confusing and hurtful when their spouse returns to the distracted state that comes with ADHD. The most common and most destructive pattern of all is one in which one partner becomes the responsible parent figure, while the other is the irresponsible or inconsistent child figure. Couples need to acknowledge that parenting a spouse is never beneficial and consciously move away from these patterns by putting ADHD support structures in place that help the ADHD partner become more reliable and by vowing to solve their issues in other ways.
Unfortunately, having a spouse with untreated ADHD can translate into a lot of extra work for a non-ADHD spouse. If workload distribution inequities aren’t addressed, the resentment and feelings of being a slave that the non-ADHD partner often feels can result in divorce. But it’s not as easy as trying harder. ADHD partners need to learn to try differently in ways that take their ADHD into account as they take on more of the work at home so they will be more successful. Each partner blames the other for their issues, but partners both contribute to their marital issues, so they are most successful when they both take responsibility and make appropriate changes.
Tantrums, spurts of anger, and rude behavior often accompany ADHD symptoms and have to do with impulse control and self-image. The result is that a non-ADHD partner can feel as if he or she is walking on eggshells, always wary and vigilant. Couples do better when they set up specific systems for communicating their needs and negotiating solutions. One form of pursuit is nagging, and if you are a non-ADHD spouse, you may do it. Though you feel as if you have to nag to get things done, nagging is always a negative. Treating the underlying ADHD symptoms, vowing to stop nagging, and finding other types of reminder systems can get rid of this pattern.
The belief that ADHD doesn’t matter is misguided. Even if you don’t believe ADHD is an issue, there is still good reason to act as if you assume it is. There is no downside to exploring treatment options, and pursuing the role ADHD plays demonstrates a commitment to improving your relationship in a way that helps the non-ADHD partner more realistically examine his or her own role. This joint openness is a win/win for everyone involved.
The book by Melissa Orlov and the website with Ned Hallowell can be invaluable to spouses of an ADHD effected partner and to partners who may each be have ADHD.
TARA PARKER-POPE New York Times
ADHD & Marriage https://www.adhdmarriage.com/, Melissa Orlov, Ned Hallowell
The ADHD Effect on Marriage, Melissa Orlov, https://www.addrc.org/the-adhd-effect-on-marriage/