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Married with ADHD: How Real Couples Make It Work

We surveyed more than 700 partners with ADHD to find out how attention deficit impacts their marriage — from their side, not just their spouses'. We learned that while the challenges are many, respondents are deeply committed to strengthening their relationships.

6 Comments: Married with ADHD: How Real Couples Make It Work

  1. What does one do when the spouse doesn’t own his ADHD? He has 5 brothers and they all have it. I’ve heard all of them at one time or another, talk about their ADHD, but my husband doesn’t actively acknowledge it or apparently think it’s a problem. The more I learn about it, the more I KNOW it’s a problem. The most recent thing I’ve discovered and can make some sense of is the RSD disorder. He fits this profile so very much. My problem is how do we deal with this and have an authentic relationship within our marriage when he does the very things RSD describes, but has no idea and would probably never get diagnosed? He never thinks he’s in the wrong (or at the least seeing things upside down and over-reacting) about things, but instead, I am. I always am. I’m out to get him, according to him, no matter what I might say or do. Been married 44 years. I’m tired.

  2. Gene,
    My own heart breaks reading of your experience. I do hope you and your wife are doing better now. If you’re still hanging in there but have continued problems, have you considered trying a non-stimulant form of ADHD medication? The stimulants and non-stimulants act through different means. Perhaps the non-stimulant meds will help you without causing as many or as severe side effects as Adderall did for you.

    Also, is there a way you can obtain marriage counseling with someone who has ADHD as one of their specialties? They will be able to help your wife to understand better how you “tick” and she can find more compassion in her heart for you.

    There are all kinds of YouTube teachings for couples in which at least one of them has ADHD. Here is one:

    Here’s another and it offers handouts for your spouse to see if she prefers to read, rather than to view/hear:

    Please write back and let us know if you’re OK. 61, while middle-aged, is still far too young to be feeling you’re not worth anything. You have another 20 years or more to live! You ARE worth something – and your wife has to be willing to learn and understand you so she can flex a bit to work with you. The things about ADHD that make you sometimes a burden are part of the package of fun-loving, spontaneous, refreshing “you” that had ADHD and which made her fall in love with you! ADHD comes as a package. Its components are not separable. She needs to accept ALL of you and you both need to help one another become the best people you can be. For her, this will mean finding more compassion and understanding! For you, it may mean trying a different medication, or perhaps working with an ADHD coach to help you develop better structure for yourself, reminders, etc. in order to be more organized or whatever seems to be beyond your reach right now. You both can do this if you’re both willing!
    Best wishes!

  3. I feel so fortunate. I’m the one with ADHD in our marriage, and I have to say that my husband has put up with a lot! He was very nice right from the beginning, but there certainly were times when we both felt frustrated. I know I was very emotional, often out of frustration because I couldn’t understand why he didn’t see things the way I did. I actually thought he was the one being lazy or forgetful because I was so sensitive to everything.

    I guess what kept us going was we really liked each other. We laughed a lot and had fun. We have many of the same interests and goals. Money has never been much of an issue between us because he’s good at investing and I’m good at budgeting and paying bills. I know that’s something that causes problems in a lot of marriages, even without ADHD!

    I didn’t really think about having ADHD, although my brother had been diagnosed and I think we all should have seen that my dad had it. Even my mom had it! They survived because my dad traveled a lot, and my mom liked having time to herself. They also gave each other a lot of leeway, and genuinely liked and loved one another.

    My husband, however, noticed it and kept telling me he thought I had it, too. I was always forgetting things and running late, but that was normal in my family! And, of course, I was stressed out a lot of the time!

    Maybe it worked, too, because he’s pretty easy going compared to me. The things that bother me don’t seem to bother him. We’ve been married for just over 30 years now, and I know we are both happy. The next challenge, however, is going to be retirement! He’s excited and I’m worrying; it’s a huge change.

    1. Congratulations. I’m starting to think my wife just wants out. My heart is broken but she doesn’t believe it. I’ve been told I don’t listen, forgetfulness, and hyper focus on everything but her. I do most of the housework, laundry, cooking, yard work, and keep up maintenance on our vehicles. So it’s not like I’m leaving her a ton of work to do. The problem was with my method of treating my symptoms. I was diagnosed adhd and given a script of Adderall. At first I took the meds religiously but soon the side effects made me less interested in taking them. I’m a calm person on the outside so I’m not flying off the handle and yelling. However I have to finish a task before I can acknowledge anyone’s inquiries, and may get freaked out if I have to stop for any reason not my decision. I’m so in love with my wife and I have been devastated at where we are going. I started back self medicating with marijuana. I don’t do this to party, it’s the equivalent to me to having a couple beers after work to relax after the day. I lied about using it and that’s what started her indifference to me. She is totally against it and prosecutes me in a very dismissive way about it. I’d give anything to have a normal brain. I’m truly devastated, both from her inability to understand and my self defeating behaviors. My worst insecurities and weaknesses are exposed when I’m confronted so harshly about something that truly helps me. I used to make her laugh and she would reach out for me and I never knew love was so sweet. That’s gone. I’m in the way and an embarrassment to her and I know for a fact there is no respect for me. It’s so difficult after surviving childhood trauma and abuse, survived war, disease, and medical calamity to be judged so harshly. I’m a good guy, wait on her hand and foot, and so proud to walk hand in hand together in public. I feel like I’m losing that. At 61 years old I’m not sure I can survive this. I pray someone can help me. I pray someone can help US! She is a good woman but she has the ability to be cruel especially when it comes to this situation. At least the way my adhd brain sees it. I’m beginning to think she’d be better off with me not around and that hurts worse than you can ever imagine. She can do better, but I always thought I was as good as anyone else until recently.

      1. I hope that you and your wife can save your marriage.
        My Boyfriend of over 3 years has ADHD. I’m 53, he is 51.
        He also uses Marijuana to “medicate”, as he is not on ADHD medication, has not used it for years, because of the side effects. I have never smoked it, and see no reason for me to start.
        My problems with BF using it stem from the fact that he has repeatedly lied to me about smoking it, and the reasons why he smokes it. In his 20’s he became addicted to cocaine and it almost killed him. If his Mom and siblings hadn’t staged an intervention, we would never have met. He has, in his own words: “Problems with substances.” He admitted when we were first dating that he uses it to relieve back pain, relieve stress, or because he is bored. Once he starts, he says it becomes a habit, and he smokes it too often and for too long. He spends too much money on it, and he feels crappy when he stops it. Add to the fact that it is now legal in our state for recreational use, and he works at a place where 90% of his coworkers feel the need to smoke it to get through the day…it is a recipe for disaster ….for me.
        We went to a restaurant after he picked me up, and his eyes were glazed over. He slurred his words during dinner, and dribbled food onto his shirt and chin like a 3 year old. I cut the evening short because I didn’t want him driving in the snow while stoned.
        He has enough problems with distraction when he is not smoking it. We are together every other week because of my daughter who is still a minor–I share custody with my ex. When we do get time together I want him to be fully present. Not texting other people/checking Facebook/ watching TV/surfing the net on top of being stoned.
        Is some attention every once in a while too much to ask? THAT is the problem I have with it.
        So many people act like Marijuana is a cure for everything and its perfectly harmless….it is not. Especially when dealing with someone who admits to having other addictions.

      2. I didn’t mean to sound harsh in my first post. I just got to the point that I wanted to leave him because of all the lies.
        He only lies to me about this one thing, as far as I know. Lying erodes trust, and to me trust is the foundation of a good relationship.

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