Ask the Experts

Say What? Translating My ADHD Spouse

How to communicate with an ADHD spouse to avoid misunderstandings and hard feelings.

First, try to follow your husband’s words without worrying about specifics. After he’s done, repeat what you think he said. Say, “So you’re saying X.” If you misunderstand, he’ll correct you without feeling like you’re attacking him.

Then point out that people without attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) tend to think more linearly than those who have it. This difference sometimes leads to communication trouble and misunderstandings between ADHD and non-ADHD spouses. Tell him that your questions are meant to clarify what he said.

Or write a short letter or an e-mail explaining that you should respect each other’s ways of processing information. This will help defuse his anger and allow him to understand that any miscommunication is due to the fact that your brains are wired differently.

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

Related resources