How ADHD Can Strain a Marriage

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Having adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD) has a definite impact on a romantic relationship. While adult attention disorders affects every relationship differently, it’s not surprising that it’s often the cause of friction and anger.

If the partner with attention disorders continually forgets to pick the kids up from school or can’t decide what to make for dinner, that lack of focus can sometimes create feelings of hostility. The effects of this can strain the relationship, but having a positive attitude can help.

In fact, research has shown that learning to appreciate all aspects of a partner with ADHD or ADD and to deal with negative factors of attention disorders effectively can be key.

Adults with ADHD tend to be very dynamic, creative, and full of energy and there’s rarely a dull moment, which helps keep a relationship fresh, fun, and interesting. The partner of an adult with ADHD is unlikely to get bored, and there’s probably always something new to talk about. Additionally, adults with ADHD are often quite charismatic.

The downside of that energy and charisma is that people with attention disorders can also be very distractible, and partners may find it hard to cope with that trait. When these problems are ongoing, common scenarios can exasperate the partners of attention disorders adults, who may label their spouses as lazy, careless, or disrespectful. The partner with attention disorders is often just as frustrated with his or her own behavior; many wish they could start and finish simple tasks like “normal” people.

Researchers recommend that men and women with attention disorders and their partners educate themselves about the disorder. Finding out as much as you both can about adult ADHD helps prevent a great deal of that frustration. For the partner with attention disorders, education can eliminate the guilt they feel about having a different view of the world. It may fall on the partner who has ADHD to make sure his or her spouse understands the syndrome.

If you are the one with ADHD, it can also help to identify your attention disorders behaviors to your spouse and openly discussing how they help and harm the relationship. because you don’t care enough to do them,” she explains.

Finally, the most important key to a harmonious relationship that includes ADHD may be having the courage to ask for help and appreciating that help when it comes. Unfortunately, many adults with attention disorders find it difficult to ask for assistance, as they often think they need to be invincible. Additionally, the most supportive act of all may be helping a partner with attention disorders stick with a treatment plan, including ongoing psychotherapy.


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