How ADHD Symptoms Affect Couples

There are many reasons your partner may deny that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is hurting your relationship. He might be ashamed of having the condition, fearful that ADD/ADHD treatment will turn him into a different person, or concerned that you’ll blame him for your marital problems. Such fears can be exacerbated by frustration in […]

There are many reasons your partner may deny that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is hurting your relationship. He might be ashamed of having the condition, fearful that ADD/ADHD treatment will turn him into a different person, or concerned that you’ll blame him for your marital problems. Such fears can be exacerbated by frustration in the non-ADHD partner. On the other hand, he may like himself as he is, and believe that the problems are caused by you. Try these strategies:

  • Tell your partner that your reaction to his ADD/ADHD symptoms are not meant to be mean-spirited. Many non-ADHD partners respond in the same way to distraction and impulsivity.
  • Tell him that you don’t blame him for the problems in the marriage, but sometimes you find it hard to deal with his ADD/ADHD symptoms. You don’t want to change him — you want him to manage his ADD/ADHD symptoms.
  • Suggest that he learn more about treatment if he fears treatment will change him. Delivered from Distraction, by Ned Hallowell, is a reassuring resource for this.
  • Acknowledge that you play a role in your marital problems. If you show your partner that you are working to resolve your problems, it will be harder for him to resent you for butting into his life.

Melissa Orlov is a contributor to ADDitude, a coauthor of Married to Distraction, and the author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

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