As I read through the many posts and comments on this site, it strikes me that many do not seem to have read Melissa Orlov's book yet ("The ADHD Effect on Marraige").  PLEASE READ IT TODAY!  It is relatively short and very easy to read quickly.

If you are the NON-ADHD spouse, it is especially important for you to read the book!  Many ADHD books do not really speak to the LOVED ONES of the person who has ADHD.  They can certainly help you understand your ADHD spouse better, but Melissa's book also helps you understand YOURSELF and your own frustrations and reactions TO your ADHD spouse.  The frustrations you have felt are very NORMAL in an ADHD-affected relationship!  You have been doing the best you can for a long time, trying to find ways to cope while trying to also find ways to motivate your partner (usually to no avail).  In many cases, you did not even realize your spouse had ADHD until recently, or you only now suspect it.  Your relationship has likely developed certain patterns of communication, behavior, division of responsibilities, etc. along the way.  But these patterns may actually be HINDERING the success of your marriage, rather than helping!  Just like the ADHD spouse, YOU have been trying HARDER, when you really need to try DIFFERENTLY (too).  Trying harder with little to no result is exhausting and frustrating, to say the least!  I promise you, this book will give you HOPE and will "validate" (sorry for the psycho-babble term, but it's true!) your experiences--it will NOT make excuses for your ADHD spouse or blame YOU for their shortcomings.  But it can help you to see ways that your responses to your spouse can either hinder or help them on their journey.  If you can learn to provide a "safe place" for your spouse to find ways to try DIFFERENTLY through some trial and error (BTW, this inherently includes some FAILURE as well as success!), he or she is much more likely to make some real progress, which benefits you both!

If you are the ADHD spouse, it is ALSO important for you to read the book!  It enabled me to understand WHY my husband has responded and reacted the way he has through our 18 years, even if his responses have sometimes been less than helpful.  It gave me a glimpse of what it has been like to walk in his shoes, and I am no longer resentful or bitter for the ways HE has found or tried to cope.  And it has given me HOPE that my husband who has become a bit of a "control-freak" the past few years, just does not know how else to handle things.  And I don't either...we BOTH need to find a way to try DIFFERENTLY!  I now understand that for someone who does not have ADHD, it is perfectly LOGICAL to just try HARDER...because it works...for THEM.  They are accustomed to a consistent cycle with few exceptions of: Problem-->Hard Work-->Problem SOLVED...Move on to the next problem.  But as you know if you have ADHD, WE are totally accustomed to a whole different cycle: Problem-->Hard Work-->Problem Solved (temporarily)-->Setback or FAILURE...(same) Problem Returns...Shame, Guilt, Frustration, Paralyzed...Afraid to even TRY with the next problem!  But for someone who has NOT experienced this cycle repeatedly, when they observe our behaviors of "paralyzed," "afraid," or lack of trying, it translates in their language to "LAZY" or "DOESN'T CARE."  And the harder they TRY to motivate US, their lack of success puzzles them and they will try HARDER, which often means patterns of controlling, correcting, "parenting" us, etc.  And usually that just makes things WORSE instead of better.  So we are the ONE area of their life where trying harder doesn't WORK.  No wonder they get so frustrated and angry!  Anyway, reading Melissa's book will really help you to have empathy for your non-ADHD spouse and hope for your marriage also.


once again

you speak wisdom. I agree--read the book, and anything else reliable you can get your hands on. I cannot image trying to cope with an ADHD spouse without at least attempting to understand the nature of the behavior I am witnessing. I KNOW I didn't marry a lazy, illogical, uncaring man! "Almost no one after 15+ years seemingly just flips a switch and turns into an a-hole," I thought. There had to be a cause. I HAD to find out what was driving his behavior else I'd go crazy... or just run like crazy and forget the whole thing. Then once I understood it (to the extent possible for a non) I had to find out if I was making it worse, so I learned even more about it. Then once I realized my generational, emotional baggage was not a good match for the necessary confronting with my ADDer, I had to learn about THAT. I'm still reading and still learning; thanks to you and to all who contribute productively here for me to read and ponder.

I have it. I read a chapter,

I have it. I read a chapter, highlighted some points I wanted to 'stress' and have had it sitting beside my bed waiting to take it to my husband and ask him to read it...but he's refusing to do anything at this point. Refusing to admit there is an issue.

HOWEVER, since you posted this I am going to sit down Wednesday morning (finals tomorrow and Tuesday) and start reading it. Once I have read it front to back, then I will ask him to. I had it in my mind that I wanted us to do it together...but I will go ahead and do this on my own, for myself. I do want to understand all I can..for both our sakes.

Good Luck on Finals!

Sherri, I would definitely suggest reading the book separately.  Some of it would be too difficult (and possibly painful) to read together or aloud.  If you can get your dh to read it, he will probably need to read it privately where he does not feel like you are analyzing his every reaction or response.  And you may not want to react or respond immediately to HIM either.  Give yourselves some time for the concepts to sink in a little bit.  

I am anxious for my dh to finish the book, but I am FORCING myself not to talk about it with him until he's done and has time to ponder it for himself first!  I keep checking his bookmark when he's not around to see where he is and wondering what he's thinking. :)  But I am determined to wait.  My plan when he's done is to suggest that we find a coach so that we can actively start TREATING my symptoms besides just meds.  Someone on this site suggested that he may have been resistant to learn about ADHD because he feared yet another responsibility would be dumped on his fix me.  I want to talk to him about this and reassure him that all I want from him is support, love and the freedom to fail as I try new methods.  I will leave it to the coach to tell me (us) WHAT to try, and I will not expect my husband to develop the plan or read a bunch more books doing research on practical strategies for me.  That is not his job or responsibility, and I think it will be healthier for us too if he is not the one suggesting the ideas.  We have fallen into the parent-child response pattern over the years, and I think him being the "fixer" would only exacerbate that problem for each of us.  I'll keep you posted!

GOOD LUCK on your finals!  No wonder you're so stressed out!!!  What are you studying?

PS--Great job, Hermie!  You have a very thoughtful plan in place.  Sounds like it will help SO MUCH (or already has). Keep up the good work!

Yes, having to revamp some of

Yes, having to revamp some of my thinking...and 'undo' some of my reactions...but I am getting there. We all need the freedom to make mistakes and be forgiven...I like the way you put that. I love your willingness and desire to learn 'different' ways of doing things. I admire you tremendously for your efforts and patience with your husband. That is very rare.

I'm earning a double major..Business Management and Medical Lab Technology. Thank you for the well wishes! Off to take my Economics final and finish my report on Reaganomics! Only 1/2 page to go! :)

sullygrl's picture

I've read a little over half and it does make you think

It makes you think a little differently. I have always known things about the fact that my husband's brain works differently, that he is more easily distracted but that he has managed some aspects of his ADD/ADHD better than others (he keeps a calendar, lists, etc. which works for his employment). Unfortunately real life doesn't always go along with lists and calendars and kids get sick and parents get older and pets throw up on the carpet and it all has to get dealt with. BUT, after finally agreeing to see a neuropsychologist, my husband was diagnosed with some other issues that made it worse, especially around anxiety, stress, depression. So thankfully he is pursuing therapy on his own now, which I did not expect to see, and we are doing therapy together which is highly recommended by Melissa in the book, and I can totally see why. It's not just his ADHD, it's my reactions to it as well, and trying to overcome nearly ten years of learned behavior on both our parts. I liked to think before reading the book I knew a lot about what was going on in my husband's head, I work with people with disabilities all the time, many of whom have ADD/ADHD, a lot more severe than my husband even. But in working with people with disabilities we try and teach that you are entitled to employment only for a job you are qualified for, only to do a job you are capable of doing, maybe with some accommodations. So I think it's helpful for a spouse to also "make accommodations."  I know I for one have had some anger, even while trying to stay empathetic, around some of the things my husband can't do. 

One thing Melissa says is that you can't force the ADHD spouse to see treatment. Totally true. BUT she also says that you need to decide how to respond to a spouse that won't. I finally said "if you won't look for help for your issues, I can't stay married to you" Huge ultimatum, and I'm not a big fan of those. But it worked and he decided he needed to seek help since it was so obviously affecting me. And it's not like I don't know how hard it is, I have been treating my own mental health issues for years so I know it's hard to go to a therapist, to agree to try medication (which he has not yet agreed to, but I am hopeful that his therapist can help him make that decision). I know I did not want to admit I needed help, that I needed medication to function better. But I DID need help, and medication, and have been working to try and be a better person, mother and spouse despite the issues I have. My husband finds reading pretty difficult, but Melissa's book is well written, with short chapters, bullets, tables, and other visual organization that I'm hoping will make it easier for him to do so when I am done with it. I will also offer to read it TO him, because he can follow much easier that way.

An Easy Read

Sullygirl, your post is very well reasoned and well thought out!  Your husband is fortunate to have you by his side.  

I wanted to tell you that I am NOT a good reader either.  I read very slowly and I get distracted easily so that I have to re-read sections over and over unless the book happens to be a real page-turner.  That is why I usually like to read fiction (mostly crime fiction or true crime--lots of suspense and fast action!).  But I read Melissa's book in about 2-3 days.  It was very interesting and easy to read. A lot of ADHD books are VERY boring and I have to force myself to keep reading them, because I know it's important information.  And for some crazy reason, a lot of ADHD books are really really really LOOONG!  What's up with THAT?  But don't worry if your husband is not a good reader--he should be able to get through this one.

On a side note regarding husband gave me a Kindle for Valentine's Day and I LOVE it!  I did not think I would like it at all because I thought I would want a tangible copy in my hands.  But it is PERFECT for the "time tunnel" ADDer!  You only see the page you're on at that moment.  You cannot see how far you have to go, how thick the book is, or how little progress you may have made.  I do not get overwhelmed by a longer book or discouraged because I think I am moving through a book "too" slowly, because you can't see any of that!  And every time I get to push the button to "turn" the page, it feels like a small victory!  For some reason it is different and better than turning an actual paper page (not sure why?).  

I have been shocked at how much I enjoy reading on an e-reader.  Also...I can download books INSTANTLY so I don't have to wait (feeds my need for instant gratification!) and I don't have to remember to stop by the bookstore or library to pick up a sequel or the next thing I want to read.  And I also like it that other people cannot see what book I'm reading or how slowly I turn the pages.  So if I am reading a self-help book or etc., I am not self-conscious or embarrassed.   For someone who does not really like to read, I have finished 6 or 7 books on my Kindle since February!  There have been years or stretches of years where I did not read ANY books at all, so that is a LOT of reading for this "non-reader!"  I think I actually read faster with it too, but maybe it just feels that way!  I wish Melissa's book had a Kindle version, but it doesn't yet, so I had to get the paperback version.  The only danger I can see for an ADDer with the Kindle is if someone has difficulty with impulsive spending, because it's SO easy to order books and they download immediately.  Luckily, finances has not been a big issue for me, so I seem to be handling that part okay for now.

Good luck!

sullygrl's picture


Thanks so much Wife! My husband just discovered audio books and is trying to go back and hit all the classics that he "had" to read in school and struggled with and hated. I know it drives him nuts that I can fly through a couple of books a week with little spare time to read, and he struggles to finish any. He can read magazines, but even those he loses his place and re-reads the same paragraphs over and over. The e-reader is something I just picked up for a present for a friend, maybe I'll have to check it out and see if it's something the husband might be able to use as well. I love the idea of self-help books and the like being a little more private too.

And my hubby doesn't have a big spending problem, he tends to hyper-focus on money issues so it's usually the other way around. He is super-tight with a buck. Is it real easy to use though? He is computer savvy but if the least little thing is wrong with technology (computer stuff) he panics and I have to play help desk.

Glad to hear you got through Melissa's book well, and you've tried others that weren't so easy and well set-up. I'm going to pass it along and see if he wants anything to do with it. And I'm going to be looking into some of the timing software and all that you've been playing with. My husband does okay on time, unless he's watching TV or on the computer and then he can't seem to keep track. So far hubby has been using "paper" for tracking mostly, a little notebook, he keeps a calendar on the computer that he prints out and keeps with him so he doesn't have to worry about forgetting stuff.  PLEASE keep me posted with any other nifty gadgets and coping strategies you find, you seem to be really doing well delving into this to manage your ADD! Good luck!

Kindle and Timer Update

Yes, the Kindle is very easy to use.  I am not sure about the other e-readers?  You do have to use a light if it's dark, just like with a paper book because the screen is not back-lit.  But this makes it easier on the eyes, and the battery lasts FOREVER.  I have had mine since February and I think I have only charged it twice!  I will say that the Nook uses a book format that is supported by our local library system, so I would be able to download library books (for free!) on a Nook, but the Kindle format is not supported.  You might want to check with your library to see if they have e-reader downloads available and what formats are used.  I think that would be an advantage.  HOWEVER, it is SO EASY to set up the Amazon account and download books instantly!--I can find books via my computer OR directly on my Kindle device itself and both are super easy and fast to download.  I don't know if other e-readers are as easy to use?  I typically research stuff like that to death before purchasing (hyper-focus and obsess!!), but since my Kindle was a gift, I don't know anything about the other brands.

I received the computer Time Timer.  There may be something better out there for this purpose.  I do love the concept.


  • It doesn't have a way to make it "stay on top" of whatever you are working on.  A visual timer doesn't really help if I can't SEE it! :)
  • It gives an alarm at the end of the time, but I wish it would actually freeze me out of the computer or at least make me enter a password or jump through some kind of hoops to get back in.  It doesn't even make you turn the alarm off--just sounds and then quits.  Something to break my focus (or hyper-focus!) would be much more helpful.  It's too easy to just ignore the sound!  I have the same problem when using my cell phone for reminder alarms--I ignore them!
  • I actually think the PHYSICAL timer might be a better investment than the software.  Then it would be sitting in front of me AND I could use it for lots of other things besides computer time.  I wish I had purchased that instead.

Our kids' desktop computer has "Parental Controls" on it which gives us the ability to set up Time Restrictions for each user.  When they hit the end time, it locks them out.  It does not actually log them off so that they will not lose any work that might not have been saved, but it kicks them out and will not accept a password to re-enter until I change the time limit.  THIS would work much better for me!  I need to hunt around and see if I can find that on my laptop so that I can put time limits on myself!