ADHD and Marriage Blog

Effectively communicating with your spouse often seems like hard work - pushing the proverbial rock up the hill.  Have you ever stopped to consider the role that your everyday responses play in how smooth - or rocky - that communication is?  I started thinking about this topic the other morning when I woke up to find my husband's arm across me, cutting off my circulation.  The situation got me thinking about the "responses" we make to a thousand different situations we find ourselves in every day.  There are internal responses (how one feels about something, even if they don't say it) and external (what you say and do).  Then there are conscious and unconscious.  All play a role in a marriage affected by ADHD.

I was moved by this recently posted comment:

"So much good advice but how do I get my husband to read with me or even try?
I am so alone and I honestly don't know where to turn. I can't leave due to finances and no where to go. I don't know if it would be right to call an abuse hotline, because he is just verbally abusive.
Learning more about the ADD mind is helping a little. Just no where to turn."

First, you are not alone!  There are many, many people out there who are in the same situation that you are in – feeling isolated in a relationship affected by ADHD, feeling as if they somehow didn’t get what they had bargained for in their marriage – that it all has been an ugly surprise.

To those struggling in a marriage that may be affected by ADHD, this may sound counterintuitive:  Determining whether or not a spouse has ADHD is a very good thing.  In fact, there is no negative side at all.  I broach this subject because a number of people have written comments suggesting that they believe that their spouse has ADHD, yet he is resisting getting a diagnosis (I use “he” here for simplicity – it could just as easily be “she”.)

There are at least two reasons your spouse might resist finding out about his ADHD.

I was reminded the other day of one of the most frustrating things about relationships where one spouse is ADHD and the other is not – that is the feeling that you are experiencing the same problems over and over and over again (and again)!  Breaking out of this cycle – which is very exasperating for all – is critical to building a better relationship.  Attitude, believe it or not, and specific communication skills, are the key to moving forward.

The couple I was speaking with who reminded me about this frustration (I’ll call them Bill and Angie), have been together 5 years.  She has ADHD, he does not.  They run a business together and are having some very significant issues around time management, organization and general frustration.

Dr. Hallowell often states in his speeches that people with ADHD have only two concepts of  time – “now” and “not now”.  How true that is!  If a project or idea is in front of a person with ADHD it gets done now…or, if not now, then perhaps never!  This trait has plusses and minuses in the ADHD marriage.

Starting with the negatives (so that I may end on a positive note!) it means that people with ADHD have trouble planning to do something

Two people have commented that they are in couples where both spouses have ADHD and that they find this very difficult.  I would like to address this a bit here but will start by recounting two comments specific to this topic to make it easier for those of you on a blog feed who aren’t always referring back to the site itself:

From mhmarel:
What about if both spouses have ADHD? I find it much more difficult to set up routines and coping systems, because I know my partner will not help me maintain them, and may even undermine them (example -- I spend an entire day organizing our financial files,

Those who wish to get a broader introduction to Steven Stosny's knowledge about anger can go to his website (at the link in this sentence).  While the purpose of the website is to promote his courses, he writes well about the effect of anger on health and anger at children, among other things.

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