Bad Vibrations

Filed Under: ADHD and Marriage

Q:

"I've been married to an ADHD man for 21 years. He won't put things away where they belong or take medication. He lashed out at me recently, saying he was tired of me criticizing him. 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:

Criticism, deserved or not, is hard to take for long periods. Your husband might think, “I can never satisfy her, so why should I bother trying?”

I advise non-ADHD spouses to stop all nagging and to find more constructive ways to express their concerns and get their spouse’s attention. Pressuring him to take ADHD medications probably won’t work. He might see staying off meds as a way of getting even with you. Talk about medication in terms of benefits -- and what he’ll gain from it.

When it comes to his disorganized ways, change your tactics. Ask him to create a system for putting things away that works for him. He might label where specific items go, agree to a certain time each week when both of you clean up, or designate a place where you can leave his mess, so he can deal with it on his own. If you can afford it, hire a housecleaner.

Note: ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information. While comments are appreciated, due to the high volume of inquiries we receive, there is no guarantee that either ADDitude or the expert will respond to follow-up questions.

Melissa is co-author of a blog on ADHD and marriage at adhdmarriage.com, and coauthored Married to Distraction with Dr. Ned Hallowell and his wife, Sue. She is also the author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

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