Married vs. Life Partners

ADHD & Marriage News - January 9, 2019

Quote of the Week

“We have all these expectations.  “Oh, this is what a husband is.  This is what a wife is.”  I started dissolving all the ideas and expectations (when I changed from moving from ‘married’ to ‘life partners.’)"

- Jada Pinkett Smith

Married vs. Life Partners

I know that when I entered my marriage I had subtle – and not so subtle – expectations about what my marriage would look like which were often based on unrecognized gender stereotypes.  I see this regularly with my couples:

• A woman who is distressed to be the primary earner in her family

• A man who has an ADHD-related shopping addiction

• An expectation that you would support each other, and talk things out (like girlfriends so easily do) when there were difficulties between you

• That a husband will always want sex, no matter what

• That a woman will be in charge of the household and task distribution

Pinkett Smith used a technique that I recommend to all of my couples – stop thinking about roles and expectations of what ‘husbands’ and ‘wives’ should do, and start thinking about who each of you are as people.  I’m working with a couple right now in which the non-ADHD wife is great at anticipating next steps and seeing the big picture, while her ADHD husband is better at details.  And yet she says “why do I have to be the one to anticipate all of this stuff?  Why should I lead?”  The answer is ‘because you do it so well…and aren’t you lucky that your partner has a complementary skill set?’

Thinking about your partner as a ‘life partner’ rather than ‘married to me (and therefore should do the things husbands/wives do)’ is really healthy.  Who is this person?  What does s/he do best?  What do I do best?  How do we accommodate areas of mutual weakness?  What do I love about this special person?  These are all questions you might ask, replacing less positive questions, such as “Why isn’t my husband planning dates as men are supposed to do?”

Yes, I know there is nuance, and I’m not suggesting one partner needs to always be in charge.  Rather, I’m suggesting that a great way to support your relationship is to assess what skills you both possess, regardless of gender or social expectations, and work from there.  When you see yourselves more clearly, and stop saying “ought to” and “should” you will both feel more loved.

Where are your expectations getting in your way?


What do you do best? How about your spouse? Let's work together to move from “ought to” to "more loved".  My January ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Live Seminar starts January 15, 2019. Don't delay - a better relationship starts NEXT WEEK.

For those in marriages impacted by ADHD

You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at, including free: Online treatment overview; Downloadable chapters of my books; A community forum with other couples facing similar issues; A large number of blog posts on various topics; Referrals. Adult ADHD can have a huge impact on your relationship. can literally change your life!  

Seminars and Groups

Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships. The Live session starts January 15, 2019.

Is your relationship in pretty good shape but you'd love to feel closer? Consider my self-study seminar Recovering Intimacy in Your Relationship.

Is Anger an unwanted contributor in your relationship? How to Diminish Anger in Your Relationship started January 3, 2019.

Support Tele-groups - Be part of a community exploring similar issues; learn from each other's successes and struggles; and find new, more effective ways to be your best self in your relationship: Non ADHD Partner Support Tele-group and ADHD Partner Support Tele-Group both run 8 consecutive Tuesdays @ 8:30pm EDT, 1/15 - 3/5, 2019

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© 2019 Melissa Orlov