Dividing the Duties in an ADD Marriage

Q:

My husband is a wonderful dad and spouse, but I get extremely frustrated when he disappears in the garage for three hours after telling me he’ll be back in 30 minutes. We have three small children, and I need help.

Melissa Orlov, a frequent ADDitude contributor with Dr. Ned Hallowell, writes about ADHD and marriage and offers relationship advice to adults with ADD.
A:

Sounds as if there is a bigger issue here than ADD—sharing child-rearing responsibilities. If he agrees that he shouldn’t be in the garage for three hours, and just loses track of time, hand him a kitchen timer, set for 30 minutes, as he heads to the garage.

One possibility is that he enjoys the projects he’s working on, and doesn’t want to help out with the kids. If that’s the case, set firmer boundaries. Agree about what’s fair, and re-allot your time so that you’re not taking care of the kids 24/7. Delineate times when you will be off child-care duty and he (or someone else) must take over.

Be clear about when these breaks will be, and make sure to give him warning (“I’m going out to run errands tomorrow at 2:00. Should I get a sitter, or can you take care of the kids then?”). Don’t be resentful if he says, “Get a sitter.”

Melissa Orlov is a marriage consultant, specializing in helping ADHD-affected couples rebalance their relationships. She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College and the author of the award-winning books: The ADHD Effect on Marriage and The Couple's Guide to Thriving with ADHD. She blogs for adhdmarriage.com and Psychology Today and has been interviewed by The New York Times, CNN, Today, US News and World Report, and CBS, among many others.

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