"My husband has ADHD. He's rude to me, acts up, and sometimes doesn't listen to what I'm saying. Is his ADHD or his personality causing these behaviors?"
by Melissa Orlov
This is an excellent question posed by many non-ADHD partners as they struggle to understand how ADHD fits into their lives. Here are my suggestions for figuring out where the ADHD stops and personality problems begin:
Compare your husband's behaviors to those on the adult ADHD symptom list. The most common symptoms of adult ADHD are: · Fails to pay attention to details · Has difficulty organizing tasks · Loses things necessary for tasks · Easily distracted · Feels restless · Has difficulty engaging in leisure activity · Talks excessively · Has difficulty awaiting his turn
Your husband's inability to listen may be due to distraction, and his flare-ups might be a symptom of hyperactivity.
Look for ADHD-related marital patterns. It's possible that his rude behavior stems from his anger with you and how you react to his symptoms. For instance, you nag your husband to do chores that he never gets around to finishing, because he has difficulty organizing tasks and doesn't pay attention to detail. His symptoms cause you to hound him, which causes him to get angry with you.
Observe your own behavior. Are you also rude sometimes? Do you ignore what he says to you? Do you yell or scream or act up? If your behaviors are due to your reaction to your husband's ADHD symptoms, he needs to work harder to manage his symptoms and you need to change your response to his symptoms.
If you do behave similarly to your husband, then you both need to work on your problems, probably with a marriage counselor.
His personality or his ADHD? Could it be that your husband isn't a nice person, or isn't the person you thought you married? Undiagnosed ADHD can transform a spouse's personality, and not for the better. Untreated symptoms can also change the non-ADHD spouse. Many non-ADHD partners tell me that, after many years of struggle, they feel as if they have "lost" themselves, or don't like the angry, nagging person they've become.
The best way to gauge his personality is for him to work hard to control his ADHD symptoms, using medication, fish oil, good nutrition, as well as organization strategies. The majority of people who employ a range of ADHD treatments see results. Once your husband is out from under his uncontrolled symptoms, you'll have a clearer picture of his personality.
If however, your husband's behavior is so bad that your life is miserable, or if he insists that unmanaged ADHD isn't impacting your relationship, it doesn't matter what the cause of the problems are: You owe it to yourself to walk away.