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Couples With One ADHD Partner

How do I explain my ADD to my husband?

I was diagnosed with adult ADD in 2006 and am able to handle most symptoms with Adderall.  However, I feel like my ADD really causes big problems in my marriage - usually because I make little things into big things, overreact, ruminate on disappointments or anger until I boil over. I have tried to get my spouse to read articles or books on ADD so he has a better understanding of what I am dealing with.  He thinks I am making excuses for my behavior and nothing could be further from the truth.  I fully understand this is MY issue and I am the only one who can manage my anger and learn not to let ADD destroy our relationship but I really feel like he dismisses it and has given up on me and on us. If anyone has some good articles, books, or just plain old advice - I am all ears…


Well, you don’t really get a choice on his behavior.  Just like he doesn’t get a choice on yours.  I think the only thing you can do is make all the information available if you want him to read stuff - but you can’t make him read.  You have to keep him in the loop in terms of what is going on with you.  On days when my husband says “I’m having a really hard time getting going, brain sluggish” I feel that he has honored me with honesty.  On days when I ask about his day and he say “I didn’t get as much done as I wanted, I feel like a shit! Why are you nagging at me? When you keep asking I freeze and can’t get anything done! Get off my back!”—same question, totally different response.  One makes me feel good and sympathetic, one makes me feel like he’s blaming me for his ADD and inability to motivate.  And neither answer has anything to do with me.

So you can see by this simple example that how you deal with him can have an effect on his willingness to be sympathetic.  (I am the non-ADD partner by the way, if you hadn’t guessed).  But beyond that I would say, with men in general, they will respond to the extent that they think it was their idea.  You may have in mind what you want him to do, but he’s never going to do it if you keep asking him to.  That is a gross generalization, yes, but I have found that men in general ignore what their wives say until they hear it from outside.  So you could enlist one of his friends to give him an article on ADD, you could leave stuff to read lying around, you could feign a little helplessness and ask him to research something for you…

But, and I am being frank hopefully not harsh, you really can’t blame your ADD for your symptoms if you are not doing your best to manage them.  So I would say if you are making intimations that you couldn’t do something, or did something because of your ADD, you are not going to get a positive response.  But if you express frustration that you have been trying to manage a certain symptom and find yourself falling short, he may have sympathy.  You might even enlist his help.  If you have trouble getting places on time say, you might ask him to text you a reminder.  But make him clear that you are not asking him to be responsible for you, only that you’d like an assist.  But only if you KNOW you won’t lash out at him later if he doesn’t do it, blame him for making you late or anything like that.  Or even react in stress with “I know, I know, I"m going!”  Because then you have just lost.  If you can do a simple “Thanks for the reminder” without emotion then this might work well.  Only you know if this is not going to trigger you.

And if you would stop making it all about how much he understands you and try to understand how frustrated he might be, that would help.  Because ADD makes people self absorbed, they tend to forget that their symptoms affect other people. And then are surprised and angry when they find out the symptom had a negative affect on someone else and feel blamed for something they can’t control.  Start worrying about how HE is handling the ADD symptoms, and how difficult it is for him to grapple with.  Because what you may not know is how hopeless and useless he feels, that no matter how nice, how engaged, how loving, how understanding he is YOU will not notice because you are dealing with your own experience of the symptoms, and maybe even blaming him for some things? 

You have to know that it can be very disheartening to be married to someone with this condition and not be able to do anything about it.  Not just for them, but also you can kiss peace in your own life goodbye forever as the non-ADD partner because you don’t have a choice.  Your relationship is dictated by a set of symptoms which you can’t manage, can’t affect, yet they rule whether and the extent to which you have a good marriage or not.  YOU have control over your symptoms and how you manage them and how they affect your marriage.  He does not.

Stop worrying about whether he understands you so much and try to understand him.

Posted by YellaRyan on Nov 09, 2013 at 1:27am

Read ADD & Romance by Jonathan Scott Halverstadt book, it’s VERY helpful to both ADD & their partners.

Posted by NannyChris on Nov 10, 2013 at 3:41pm

The ADHD Affect on Marriage is a good one that I have started.  However, it seems to rely heavily on the fact that both spouses will be trying to work together.  I loved what Yella said about her husband honoring her with honesty.  That was so spot on it almost brings me to tears.  My hub doesn’t blame the ADD because he “doesn’t really believe in it”  He likes to blame me for being the nag, for being confused over what he means, not being sure if he’s listening to me. trying not to wallow when I know hes in his own little woirld, etc.  Find a good Christain couple to counsel you.

Posted by my3gr8boyz on Nov 26, 2013 at 12:06pm

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