6 Reasons Your ADHD Partner May Not Lead…and What To Do About It

While it is not always the case, I observe that many people with ADHD are not all that great at reaching out to partners and family in order to engage, even if they are really good in general social settings. This lack of initiation takes on a lot of different forms – a few examples:  not initiating conversation; not spontaneously thinking up or planning dates; not thinking of ways to connect with the kids; not initiating sex, and more. 

This wasn’t what non-ADHD and other ADHD partners expected to see in the relationship, because when you first met it was all about ‘hyperfocus courtship.’ The ADHD partners were very attentive and interested, and initiated a lot of (fun) stuff to do together.  The result – lack of initiation after marriage creates a good deal of conflict.  I hear all the time from non-ADHD partners who say “one of the things that bothers me most about our relationship is that I have to always LEAD!  I want my partner to show s/he cares by reaching out to me sometimes.”

Common Reasons ADHD Adults May Not Lead

It’s worth understanding what’s going on.  Here are 5 common reasons why ADHD partners can really struggle when it comes to reaching out to show you they care:

Very inwardly focused.  Many with ADHD are quite happy ‘doing their own thing.’  At home that can feel disconnected to partners and family, even as the ADHD partner is quite happily off in his or her zone.  (Note:  ‘inwardly focused’ is NOT the same thing as selfish – it’s just being happy in your own self and doing your own thing.  To partners who feel resentful, it can seem selfish…but that’s not the origin and I urge you to move away from that thinking.)

Difficulty reading emotional cues.  Research shows that adults with ADHD have more trouble than most reading the emotional cues that others give off.  This means that when non-ADHD partners are feeling down and needy, it may not register with the ADHD partner.  At times of need, when non-ADHD partners expect someone to notice and reach out, this doesn’t happen.  It’s jarring and hard not to take personally, even though it may be a result of ADHD.

Not wanting to disappoint.  As relationships struggle, low self-esteem can encourage even previously gregarious ADHD adults to withdraw.  Sometimes they fear that they will ‘guess wrong’ with their partner and disappoint them.  Other times, they fear being judged for doing something unexpected or ‘stupid.’

The ‘blank mind.’  There are times when some folks with ADHD tell me that their normally incredibly busy minds ‘go on break.’  At those times, it’s hard to connect with anyone.

Difficulty getting organized or remembering.  Some connections take organizational skill – for example remembering to send an email or text; setting up an afternoon picnic; or disconnecting from the computer to go have sex as you promised earlier.  Living in the present moment, as many with ADHD do to a real extreme, often means that things in the now (whatever it is) is more immediate than the important business of doing things with your partner.

Sometimes, it’s boring.  Let’s face it, some of the stuff non-ADHD partners want to engage around isn’t all that fun – household chores being number one on that list.  Yes, they need to be done, so ‘boring’ isn’t an excuse to not carry some of the load.  But non-ADHD partners need to understand that for ADHD adults, getting yourself going on stuff that you don’t like to do is a pretty big task.  It’s much easier to engage with stuff that’s stimulating and interesting.  This is a part of how the ADHD brain works that a lot of non-ADHD partners have trouble accepting or understanding.

Your relationship is too bad.  I can't leave this reason off, sadly.  Some don't connect because they are so angry, frustrated, unhappy or depressed.  Disconnection becomes the coping strategy of choice.  Sadly, this won't get you anywhere as a couple - you can't fix most relaitonship problems by disconnecting.  If you are in this category, I suggest that you consider reading my books and taking my ADHD Effect Couples seminar to change the conversation (or lack thereof) in your relaitonship.

The Fixes

Understand ADHD better – it’s NOT personal (at least, not usually!)  If you know ADHD and how it manifests, you can create habits that acknowledge and respect your differences.  I’ll give you two examples in our household.  My husband doesn’t plan social events.  Ever.  I understand this isn’t his forte, so I do all of our social planning without resentment.  After all, these things are fun for me, too.

A second example.  Though that mind is going all the time, my husband doesn’t tend to reach out and ask my opinion of things.  It’s not that he’s not interested, it’s that he doesn’t think along those lines.  He’s often ‘in his zone.’  So I reach out to start conversations with him so we can share our experiences and opinions.  Again, no hard feelings.  We get to hear each other, he’s genuinely interested in what I have to say (at least most of the time!) and we connect.  Back when I didn’t understand ADHD so well and equated his lack of initiation with disinterest, this was a big area of hard feelings for me.  Now I get it – it really isn’t personal.

Speak up.  Nicely.  Don’t expect your partner to read your ADHD emotional cues.  If you need a hug,  or your partner’s undivided attention for something, say so.

Insist your ADHD partner provide enough ‘attend time.’  Creating connection isn’t about the non-ADHD partner just adjusting to ADHD quirks.  This is about being realistic about how to get what you need.  Set aside blocks of time where the whole point is to have fun together and/or show you care.  That might be dates; walks in the woods; cuddling…whatever.  Make it away from other distractions (read computers and phones!) and just for you two.  Schedule it.  Don’t miss it.  Reach out.  Encourage your partner to reach back and reinforce all efforts in that direction in a positive way.  It should be fun and fulfilling for both of you.

Acknowledge the boredom factor.  Telling an ADHD partner that they ought to be able to engage with boring stuff doesn't help - in fact, it tends to reinforce shame.  Instead, accept that this is an aspect of ADHD that you both need to work around.  Set up a system where both the ADHD and non-ADHD partner participate in setting the chore priorities, and make sure that you both take on tasks that utilize your relative strengths and interests as best possible.  Focus on how long it takes each partner to do things, and fill in the time allotted with your highest priority items.  Remember, you both have a say in what those priorities are.

Differentiate ‘leading’ from ‘parent/child.’  This is a really important one.  Parent/child is when one partner takes over and the other is diminished or loses status in the relationship.  It’s a really common dynamic in struggling ADHD-impacted relationships.  Leading is when one partner initiates an activity and invites a partner of equal status to join in.  It builds status of the other partner, particularly when that partner gladly joins the activity.

Stop dwelling on initiation.  The most important thing isn’t who leads…it’s that you connect.  Does it really, truly matter whether one partner plans the date or the other?  You both get the chance to have fun.  Yep.  In our household I often lead (though certainly not always).  And here is why I’m okay with that.  Because now that our relationship is great, when I initiate something my husband happily joins in.  We connect and have fun.  It’s not that he doesn’t love me.  It’s that he’s not great at getting out of his zone.  For me, that connection is way more important than who leads.

Comments

let me get this straight

If I am reading your fixes correctly, all of them were behaviors the non-ADHD person should/can/has to do to connect with the ADHD person because planning outings, starting conversations, doing chores, or reading social cues are just not in their wheelhouse.  I have lived with my unmedicated ADHD spouse for 22 years (he has an official diagnosis from a psychiatrist and won't take his meds) and I concur that all of those things are true of him--in his own world, doesn't plan things--in fact, has nothing to offer even when I ask what he might like to do.  I have tried to give plenty of lead time, such as "oldest son's birthday is in a few weeks, can you think about a gift he might like and I will ask you later in the week".  And then later in the week when I ask, he says "I haven't had time to think about it."  What do I do with that?  Like many posters here, I am tired of being told that I basically have two choices: accept my DHs limitations and do pretty much everything because he is not capable or leave.  After 22 years, I am making plans to leave.  I have been sucked dry by a) making all the plans, all the time, b) starting conversations because he won't, only to be met with eye rolling and huffing and puffing put upon-ness, c) helping with organization by making a family google calendar and keeping it current in addition to a white board calendar in the kitchen that I keep current so he knows what's going on in my life and the lives of our 2 sons.  He neither posts on them nor checks them.  On the few occasions that he claimed to have posted something to the google calendar, it didn't appear because he didn't know how to post but refused to allow me to show him.  In the past 5 years I have worked super hard on the parent-child dynamic and now when I refuse to do something for him, make a decision for him or not do something I used to do, he gets mad.  Really, what are my options?  That is actually rhetorical--I canceled our marriage therapy and our family counseling with our sons because it was a waste of time and money and I always walked out feeling worse because whatever changes needed to be made were on me and I will break in half if I have to do one. more. thing. in this family.  I have to respectfully disagree with your final fix--does it really matter who plans what as long as you both have fun.  Yes, in fact it does matter because me planning everything, from theater tickets, to dinner plans--making the plan, getting the sitter, etc., buying Christmas gifts for the boys--most times DH didn't know what the kids were getting until they opened the gifts--it was a surprise to all of them, planning birthday celebrations--all of those things feel like a burden when you are doing them alone and with zero input from your other half.  It's hard to be joyful about an outing that DH has only to shower, dress and be at the door at a certain time when I have made dinner for the boys, arranged the sitter, confirmed with the sitter, paid the sitter--by the time all that is done, I just as soon stay home.  Now, that was a long time ago--now our boys are 18 and 15, so we can do whatever we want pretty much and you know what?  DH is, like you say, just as happy in his own little world, so why would I bother?  If he is just as happy sitting in his chair watching netflix with his headphones on, why should I trouble myself to make all these plans?  I would much rather go with a friend who actually wants to go, so that is what I do.  I applaud your selflessness.  I sure don't have it.  I wish I had never married this man and wasted 22 years of my life.  At age 47, all I want is to live alone and be left alone.  I have given up so many parts of myself in the interest of making this marriage work because he is so limited and for what?  Leading the partner to an activity so they willingly join in?  Are you kidding?  Why would I want someone to join an activity just to placate me or because they are not capable of planning anything on their own?  I no longer have it in me to cajole another adult to do something I want to do just to have the company.

I am not asking for a solution-there is no fix in my house.  I am done.  As soon as I can financially get a divorce, I will and then I won't have to be the one in charge, the one making the plans (who then gets called a bossy bitch by the way).  I just don't get that the majority of the adjustments are on the non-ADHD person.  Of course household chores are boring--I don't have ADHD and I hate to unload the dishwasher.  I am not making a chore wheel for an adult to make doing chores more palatable.  Give me a break.

Where is the love?

Dvance.  I understand everything you are saying here.  Now that I have come this far, for me, the saddest part of my life is that I so want to love and cherish and partner.  I cannot any longer work to love the man or partner with the man who comes into my presence with the attitude of a little boy expecting a birthday party in his name every day - a little put out if he doesn't get everything he wants.  All entitlement and no responsibility or partnering spirit.  Dvance.  I hope you have the courage and will and support and money to find a life of love and self respect.

Jenna...The irresponsible messy roommate syndrome!

 (I cannot any longer work to love the man or partner with the man who comes into my presence with the attitude of a little boy expecting a birthday party in his name every day - a little put out if he doesn't get everything he wants.  All entitlement and no responsibility or partnering spirit.)

HaHa:)....This say's it pretty well Jenna!...:) Until I accepted this reality, and the fact I can't do anything to change it... I couldn't move on with my own life...I was victimized:) Haha....

I went to the counselor the last 3 months...So after the 3rd session I decided before I went I would let it be my last...So when the counselor started talking about home work...I told her that I was thinking I may let that day be the last session. Or at least for awhile...But I asked her..."What do you think"?...She said, well I never want to encourage anyone to keep seeing me, if they think they shouldn't...But she said i think you still have (my wife's name) issues:) LOL....I just smiled, because the truth will set you free...LOL...So I'm going back in a couple of weeks....My home work was to keep a record of every time I feel love shown to me by anyone (my grandchildren or on the record a lot:):)....After about two weeks it dawned on me what that was telling me about everyone I interact with, and a lot about myself also...

Appreciate what IS! yup!

Oh, that is good homework.  I think I will give myself that homework.  Love it!

Right on!

omg. love the birthday party analogy! That is my spouse too. He seems to want a full blown cheerleading squad to come onsite every time he happens to wash the dishes or do laundry, dump the trash, help out with the kids. However, no matter what incredible things I do (like get a large medical grant for his kids, saving us tons of money), get his older son with Autism a school scholarship, save us money, etc, all I hear is "okay" or "that's good" in a monotone voice. I agree, at some point we have to realize it won't change and decide how much longer we want to keep enabling them and handle the heavy load of EVERYTHING in the relationship.

What you are saying Jenna...

I could not agree more. I have come to see my spouse's emotional immaturity and wonder why I never saw it before. What was going on with me to have not seen it? It is so obvious to me now ....I cannot expect understanding from an emotional aspect from someone unable to relate. It is very sad for all involved. A cooperative spirit is imperative in a marriage... there needs to be a level of maturity.... eventually. 

My Feelings Exactly

I started to reply but it got too long and really my husband is all the same.  The thing that struck a chord for me in your reply was the planning a night out.  When the kids were young he would complain to me that we don't ever do anything. So I would plan something but he didn't want put on nice clothes, or the expense was too much, or the place was too far, or he didn't want to go with those friends, and on and on.  OK, you pick the place, feed the kids, hire the babysitter and I will be ready whenever you say.  Never happened.  Yet, somehow it was my fault that we didn't go out and do things.  Several times he got on a kick about having parties.  Fine, you prepare a menu, make or arrange for the food, clean the house, and call everyone to invite them and I will get out the coolers, buy beverages and ice, and set up the chairs.  It is easy to sit back like the general on the other side of the ocean dictating orders while everyone else scurries around making things happen.  How can the person doing all the work not be resentful?  I do my annual big family holiday and that takes all the energy i have to spare for the year. If he wants to entertain go right ahead, no one is stopping him.  What time should I be ready?

Whenever we have to attend some event  I find he digs in his heels and makes things unnecessarily difficult, complaining about everything before we arrive, whines about having to pick something up like a gift or cake, drives like a madman, takes the longest route, and has a chip on his shoulder while there.  When people try to start a conversation with him he complains that they are "interrogating" him. He claims he feels like he is being interviewed when, really, they are trying to hit on a general topic in order to have a conversation.  Why on earth would I purposely plan to be miserable outside the house when I have more than enough at home?  

I agree that there is no solution, life with him is a one way street, take it or leave it.  He has actually said rather defiantly "this is how I am and I will never change".  OK, I accept that but I don't have to sit around waiting for him to notice me.  I am done with him expecting me to cling to every word that comes out of his mouth, which is always about him or else it is negative comments about someone or thing.  Our kids don't talk to him because he never seems interested in anything they have to say and he can never just listen to them.  He is always right and lets everyone know what his opinion is regardless of the forum or without considering who the person is he is having a conversation with.   

In our society woman are expected to contort themselves to appease everyone else and since most non spouses are women this forum topic just seems like another checklist for women to make the relationship work like an article from Cosmo, it's all up to YOU.  Why not rally the  ADD spouse to step up and be an active partner without prompting?  It is too late for me to get out but I can still make myself happy.   I am done being the only one doing the work, maybe change is possible when ADD spouse actually wants to be a fully functioning partner rather than a perpetual 12 year old who cannot manage the responsibilities of adulthood.

two things really jumped out at me...

So I had this terrific response all written and then stepped away from my laptop and shut the wrong tab.  UGH.  What I was going to say...I laughed when you used the word interrogate.  I was told for YEARS that I was interrogating DH whenever I asked anything.  And part of the reason I have to ask is because a) no information is freely given and b) when I ask, I am unlikely to get the whole story at once and so I have to ask many many clarifying questions to get to the actual answer.  I am sure it feels like being interrogating.  If he would just answer clearly the first time, I wouldn't have to ask follow up questions.  Almost daily DH will answer me or tell me something that is inaccurate or unclear and then get mad at me when I act upon the wrong or unclear thing he told me.  How is it my fault that you were unclear?  He will tell me "that's not what I meant to say".  How am I to know what you MEANT to say?  Geez--you are 48 years old.  Communicate like an adult please.

Ditto the "this is how I am" statement--DH tells me he has to do what's best for him and if that hurts me then too bad.  Okay then.  I have plans to leave in two years when our youngest goes to college.  I dream of a one room studio all to myself--a futon, my books, my copper tea kettle and NO ONE to tell me I'm wrong or too bossy or my standards are too high or "what's the big deal" about pretty much anything and everything.  It's exhausting and demoralizing.

impossible communication

What y'all are saying here about things being spoken clearly, and getting all the facts etc....This to me is one of the big reason's for conflict in our relationship...I don't know about each of you, But it's almost impossible for us to have any kind of prolonged communication...I'm not blaming it all on her at all...I'm just saying it's better to limit verbal communication in our marriage to keep the peace....And after 9 years of the failed attempts...I love Peace :) lol.....

When I get to comfortable (my illusion) and loose my discipline of staying aware of these limitations, it almost always bites me...It is something I try to be aware of when we talk...Part of the problem is the room to room attempts, and speaking important things to one another in passing or when one or the other is glued to a computer or TV set...It's fools gold!...

My wife hardly ever just sets down w/ me and visits in a relaxed way...(I can tell she knows it, because she has been intentionally finding me lately and kissing and speaking to me, even it is to just tell me her plans:).

Another huge reason for not communicating w/o setting down face to face (and even writing down some things) is the effects of her adhd....She is terrible about coming back later and saying I told you so and so....Of course if I say no I don't remember you saying that...100 times out 100 times, her response is Yes I did!....(Any time someone who in reality is wrong as much as any human, but is almost never able to say or accept that they are wrong (any of us), it takes a complete idiot to keep it up with them, I've been that idiot to often). Not only that, but, when you say something once, in a nice calm manner and they dispute it, and you walk away, it eventually sends a message and can become and an awareness opportunity...

Things such as this is what I sense you ladies get frustrated about, as I do...dvance's comment above is very honest!...She said I can accept that I must manage my life based on what he is not willing or unable to do as an adult male; or leave...And that is pretty much the way it is...As of the last few years I have prayed a lot, tried to look in the mirror and beware of my own crap...I have also forced accountability on to her because I refuse to engage or enable chaos....It's like adhd32 said...I have a good life, and I'm not going to place myself in a unhealthy mental and emotional state wishing she was different...It's up to me to stay aware of my responsibilities as a H....And it's up to her to be aware of her own, (my trouble only starts when I take it own myself to help her be a W)....It's sad to watch people get old and die and never look in the mirror and take responsibility for their life (blame and denial)...All any of us can do is make sure it's not us....

I am a very blessed man, and those blessings didn't come from her, and can't be taken away by her....

C

Deborah__'s picture

I Read Every Word You Said

C

As usual, what you said makes a lot of sense. Yet, it seems your wife is aware of the issues that you two as a couple face. As I said to dvance, I wrote a post in the forum ADHD Spouse Support. It's title is: "Develop an Exit Strategy". I'm asking if you have a bit of time would you, please, read what I'd written. I'd be very interested in what you have to say.

Regards

 

Deborah__

Deborah__'s picture

I Can Relate 100%

dvance

Yesterday, I started a new forum discussion, it's subject is in ADHD Spouse Support, title:  "Develop an Exit Strategy". From all you've written, it appears I'm older than you and married to an ADHD medical professional. I'm beyond exhausted and dealing with several significant health issues. Just the idea of "develop an exit strategy" is more than I can take on right now. I, too, get accused of "interrogating" him. Like you said, if SPECIFIC questions are not asked, generic answers are given (if an answer is given at all). It, indeed, is exhausting and demoralizing. If you take a moment to read what I'd written yesterday, I'd be interested in what you have to say.

 

Regards

 

Deborah__

I can relate

My DH does this exact thing, along with almost everything else I am reading in the comments.  I am so tired of the "advice" for the non adhd spouse.  The chore wheel comment cracked me up, I am so tired.  I just want the kids to get into college and then I am out of here.

 

My wife can relate

Dvance,

After reading your post, it honestly sounds like many conversations I've had with my own wife. I have been told on more than one occassion that she "wished she did her homework about me, because she feels trapped now that we have two girls."  I've also heard the, "Had I known you had ADHD I wouldn't have had children with you."  The first time I was diagnosed with ADHD by our first marriage counselor, my wife refused to believe it.  I did to.  I thought that ADHD is just an excuse for therapists to make money for continued counseling and for bad parents to just throw medication at children because they can't keep them in line.  We went to another marriage counselor.  Again, this counselor suggested that I might have ADHD.  Again, I took another test that said I have ADHD.  My wife frustratingly accepted it.  I'm reluctant to believe it, but I'm seeing/reading things that make me start accepting that sad fact.  I'm very successful in the Air Force, but our counselor said that is because the military is highly structured, but home is not.  I think I'm side-tracking.

I don't take medication simply because I have to take mandatory drug tests and if I pop for Adderall, Ritalin, etc. I'll be discharged from the military.  I can't risk that.  I don't know what your husband does for work, but I know from experience that I frequently never take medications when my physician prescribes them (i.e. if I had pneumonia or some other physical ailment).  My wife is always getting on me about it. Like you, I have a whiteboard and my wife set up a "reminders" app on my phone and puts things in our iCal.  Like your husband, I rarely look at them because I just don't think about it or don't remember that it's there. What AM I doing then right now?  Well, lots of frustration.  There are periods where I'm "in the zone" but after about two weeks... I'm back to the same old "I don't listen", "I don't do anything right." etc.  I love my wife to death.  She is an amazing woman.  She admittedly gets angry whenever I walk in the house after work.  In fact, she says she is most happiest when I'm on the road for my job (as an aircraft maintainer I fly a lot with aircrews to service/maintain the aircraft when it goes to different bases) or when I'm deployed.

I think I'm rambling again, which my wife also doesn't like.  She just wants the quick, short answer.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, your feelings are valid and I feel terrible that we are lazy, selfish individuals who can't get our act together. ADHD is just an excuse, in my opinion, for not being responsible for our behavior/actions.  I hope things work out for you. I know I keep trying to make my wife happier.

Live like she don't exist and she will be happy!

Use the same structure on your mind, that you use on your Job w/ the Air force....If you do that, then this comment ( I feel terrible that we are lazy, selfish individuals who can't get our act together.) about yourself will vanish!

If you never depend on your wife for anything (sounds like she is going to her part no matter what you do) If you walk in the door relaxed but with the same focus and the same drive you place on yourself when you are facing a aircraft problem...Then you can over come this label you just placed on yourself....

Only you, can do anything for you...So I suggest you live (attentive mind) at home, like you are getting paid for those responsibilities. And will starve to death if you don't hold up your end as a Husband and Father...

Because you will find that having a happy peaceful wife instead of a over worked one is worth it's wait in Gold...And I don't' know you, but, I know that most of us Husbands & Fathers want to be loved and respected by our wives and children...

You don't have to read long on this site to see how many women/wives feel used, have little to no respect for the man they should adore...Because their husbands refuse to be responsible to share in the mundane things that each day holds...

Happy Wife, Happy Life:)

Blessings

C

You are already aware of the issues, which is huge!...You just have to CARE enough to leave your comfort zone and do the work...

C

My ADHD husband doesn't pick

My ADHD husband doesn't pick up on subtleties, hints, or innuendos. I have learned to tell him exactly what I want or exactly what I need for him to do.

For example, if I'm sick I might need to say to him, "I'm sick. I need you to pick up the kids from school and go to the store and buy x, y, and z." He isn't necessarily able to offer support by saying, "I'll take care of the kids and I'll bring you some soup. What else do you need?" 

I don't mind doing this and it insures that everything is getting done and everyone's physical needs are being met. However, this type of constant interaction feels very robotic and sterile to me. I'm missing the feeling of emotional support and nurturing that comes naturally for most couples. I haven't figured out how to fill this void. Any suggestions?

ditto

ADHD husband here (raising hand).  Man... my wife says I'm the only man in the entire world that acts this selfish and uncaring.  I thought she was the only person in the world that organized or "in touch with everyone's emotions/feelings." 

I have issues supporting my wife also. In fact, that second paragraph sounds exactly what my wife has to say for me to help her.  Your THIRD paragraph sounds like conversations she and I have every time I don't support her.  What I'm doing right now is we have a shared journal where we say 3 things.  1) I appreciate something my wife did today.  2) How I feel (i.e. I felt frustrated/confused when I reminded you I was picking something up after work and would be home late and you said, "I don't need to be reminded."  So, do you want me to tell you when I'm coming home late or not? You get mad when I fail to communicate I have to stay late for work).  okay.. that was my most recent example.  3) What I need from my wife.

I typically have to write my journal entry before her because, for a time, it looked like I was just getting lazy and "repeating" what she wrote down and not taking the time to be sincere about my entries.

The other thing... we exercise together (at least, we need to get back into it again).  Fortunately, the gym we attend has a child care center that watches our 4 yr old and 1 year old for 20 bucks a month. I'm always in a better mood and more "in the zone" that evening and it's always awesome to hear her finally say to me, "I finally felt like I had a partner tonight!"   That's a rarity!

Well, those are my suggestions on the ADHD end.

I hear you sister!

 I agree with the person who has an issue with some of this advice. Of course it makes a difference when one person is doing all the planning while the other just shows up! I have done this for nearly 29 years in my marriage, and read in the book on ADHD marriage that the non-ADHD partner should not create a parent-child dynamic. An adult who gets married and then leaves 90% of the hard, boring stuff to his partner is the one creating this dynamic. It is unfair and unrealistic to expect someone to constantly modify their life for their partner and get little in return. Therapists need to give more real-world advice-- if someone with ADHD has a person/employer who cares for them, they need to put in the extra effort to show appreciation and make things work.

nrparents: the "appreciation" aspect

One thing truly missing in our entire marriage (over 3 decades). My ADHD husband's appreciation for what I did for so long, and what I still do. He will brag about himself endlessly, and wonder why people don't appreciate HIM more, when he may have angered or hurt most of the people he's talking about. But, his own thankfulness, and gratitude for me, and for what others do is sorely lacking. There HAVE been times where he will be more complimentary of "outsiders" or even a total stranger, but yet not have those same kind words or actions for his wife/family. His expectations are out of balance, and he doesn't see it, even though plenty of people have told him about this.