ADHD Meds Can Help Your Relationship – But He May Not Realize It!

Medications sure can help your relationship – as can non-medicinal treatments!  But the spouse with the ADHD may not realize it – that’s where you need to give him (or her) some constructive feedback.  This comment is typical of what happens:

“After 10 years of "hinting" that my husband may have symptoms of ADD he went to a doctor who felt that he indeed did struggle with ADD. He was given a script for Wellbutrin.  Difficult for the first few weeks.  Then things seemed to fall into place. I noticed a change. He would remember things I had asked him to do. He actually did them to completion. He was calmer than he had ever been. Then without warning last month he decided to stop his meds without telling me or his Doc. I noticed about mid Sept. that he was falling back into the same old stuff again. I questioned him and that's when I found out that he didn't feel it necessary to take his meds any longer. What do you do then?”

Fact is, it’s important to you, and to your husband, that your husband not “fall back into the same old stuff again”.  He had made some really significant progress on some of the key issues that were getting in the way of your relationship.

It’s important to understand why your husband didn’t continue his medications.  Did they have bad side effects?  Or did he simply not see the point?

My husband will tell you that when he first started taking his own ADHD meds he couldn’t feel them working at all.  He still can’t, but he has learned to trust my assessment that they work.  In fact, when he did an experiment a few months ago and stopped taking them for a week what he DID notice is that other people seemed to be responding to him differently.  As he thought about it he realized that he was being sharper towards others (and particularly towards me) than he had been.  He found himself yelling at me in the kitchen one evening over something that was very small.  I stalked off saying something productive like “Get a life!  You’re in your old ADD patterns again!” (okay, I’m not perfect, either!)  Happily, we’ve been through enough that this comment stopped him short, rather than made him more angry.

Talk with your husband about why he stopped taking his meds.  Tell him how much you appreciate his efforts to pay more attention to you by remembering what you say and to complete things that he had trouble completing before.  If he can’t feel the meds “working” but you see changes that are positive, that is a GOOD thing – in fact that is IDEAL.  Help him see the upsides of this situation.  If he tells you that he stopped because of side effects, pursue whether or not there are other medications or treatments that can garner positive results without side effects.

Folks with ADHD are not always great self-observers.  (This isn’t a put-down, any more than my telling you that I’m not a great mathematician is a put down…it just is what it is.) Not being a great self-observer means that the two of you need to work as a team when analyzing the effectiveness of medications – or any other treatment for ADHD.

Hopefully, he’ll be willing to work with you again to try to treat his ADHD.  Make sure, when he does, that you reinforce the positive benefits of his actions for you both.  Good luck!