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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Where to put the line between helping and controlling?


My fiance and I are getting married in July. I want the marriage to flow as fluidly as possible. I knew something was wrong when he moved in. He always called himself “irresponsible,  ” and I was the responsible one. He let me do all the planning, and I did because I thought that was what I needed to do. However, it became that I was controlling everything and it inevitably ended up crashing. Then, I let him take control, and within a week the whole system was up in flames. I finally told him that I thought he might have adult ADHD. He sought council and was diagnosed within this month.
My question is, what do I do? I don’t want to control everything, but I don’t want things to go by the wayside or have me do all the chores and things because I don’t want to cause conflict. How do you guys find a balance?


I’m a relative newlywed and grappling with the same thing.  Sometimes I find a good balance.  Sometimes, if other areas of my life are stressful, I turn into a giant nag.  I can tell you that it’s not easy but that it always goes better when I can be kind and ask very very clearly for what I need.

Also know that my ADHD husband tries SO hard, but he can really only manage now or never going to happen in terms of deadlines—unless it’s a schedule he’s used to.  So for new things, I sometimes wait and ask at the last minute (or, “honey would you mind doing this now?”) because I if I ask for something for tomorrow or a week from now… not going to happen.

I’m glad you’re working on this now.  We didn’t find out about my husband’s ADHD until we were 1 year and 1 baby into our marriage.  You have some time to figure out a rhythm smile

One other silly tip:  Don’t fall into the trap of ever thinking he’s stupid.  My husband got a near perfect 1590 score on his SATs.  He’s brilliant.  His mind just works differently and it’s up to us (he and I) to adjust to it.  Totally worth it if he’s a good guy like mine.

Posted by nexus7722 on Apr 21, 2017 at 7:33pm

Thank you so much! My guy is so smart and loving. Your encouragement gives me hope.

Posted by Kgarrett0588 on Apr 21, 2017 at 8:26pm

My husband and I have been married for 35 years, and it would have been so helpful if he had been diagnosed back when we were engaged instead of just a year ago.  I totally understand your frustration! The best advice I can give you is to inform yourself as much as you can, be as forgiving and patient as you can (that’s tough!,) and talk about it with him often. My husband reluctantly started reading articles I sent him on ADHD, and we discuss them. That’s really helped because I believe knowledge is power. He also understands it’s not a “get out of jail free” card, and that he needs to be more mindful of my feelings, something he’s working very hard on.  This forum has helped me tremendously because it validates what I’ve been dealing with all these years. So pick your battles, be patient, and always keep communicating- if you work together it’ll be worth it! Best of luck !

Posted by mare1016 on Apr 22, 2017 at 1:17pm

Hi, you feelings/thoughts sound very familiar! I’ve been with my husband for 11 years now (met him when I was 19) and have often felt that way. I often organise things and, to be honest, can get a little stressed when I don’t feel like I’m on top of things. I’ve struggled at times to find the balance between being responsible for things/nagging him to get things done and therefore feeling like his parent and just letting things go even if it means things get forgotten/delayed etc.
Luckily my husband is very open to talking about this and working together to find what works best for us. What has really helped us is this:

- I do those things that are very important and have to be done within a short time frame
- We have a ‘to do list’ which is in clear sight on the dining room table. When my husband has free time, he’ll have a look at that and tick a few things off the list. I don’t expect him to do them within week or even weeks. But I know that he’ll get to them in his own time. What helps as well is that we talk through what needs to go on the list together and both use it. That way I don’t feel like I’m his parent/boss telling him what to do.
- During the weekend or free evenings we spend a few hours where we just do the usual things like groceries, laundry etc. We just talk through what needs to be done and split the work or do it together.
- For other things that need to be done during the week, or appointments/date nights etc. I set calendar reminders in our phones (I use Google Calendar and invite him). You can set reminders for these. That way I set them up when I think about it, set the reminders (2) and can then forget about it, his phone will do the rest.

At first my husband was very much against using lists and reminders, I feel like he saw them as giving in to his shortcomings, it made him feel like he wasn’t good enough. But after lots of talks and just trying some things out he’s taken a liking to it and uses them often now.

The above has helped a lot, but what also really helps is just taking a step back every now and then and remembering all the things that are so great about your husband. I truly believe that ADHD/ADD has its downsides but just as many upsides. I love how impulsive he is, positive and creative. He handles stress very well and is super sociable. How he can just be in the moment without worrying about tomorrow. I truly look up to him and know that if we were to somehow remove his ADD it would mean that a lot of the things that I love so much about him would also disappear. So in the end, yes it would be less stressful if my husband was a great organiser and didn’t need reminders. It’s easy to let this initial annoyance grow to something much bigger and more negative. But it’s just that, a small annoyance that you allow to get bigger by adding up all the times things were forgotten etc. So my advice, talk through and try out options to find out what works best for you. Talk about your feelings but be aware that this is much worse for him and he will likely feel very insecure/dumb/not good enough about this so don’t put him down. And just remember, you don’t have to split your day to day tasks 50/50. If your husband doesn’t mind cooking or groceries, and you’re better at finances. Then that’s great! Let him do the cooking while you organise the finances. smile Hope this helps a little! X Anne

Posted by Annemarije on Apr 23, 2017 at 4:10am

Divvy it up based on strengths. Make a list of to-dos and assign them based on each person’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, I handle ALL the money and finances in our household. My husband doesn’t even have a debit card. He handles fixing things, a good bit of driving kids to activities, etc.

Create routines and schedules. For example, Saturday is laundry day and starts as soon as you get up. Wednesday after dinner the trash and recycling go out. Etc. When you implement routines and schedules, you are no longer asking and nagging for things to get done — it just is, that laundry is Saturday.

Here’s more on ADHD and Marriage success:

I highly encourage you to post this question to ADDitude’s new discussion forums, as well. I think your question would get a lot of attention in the Relationships forum:, or the For Spouses and Loved Ones forum: ADDconnect is transitioning over to this new forum.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 24, 2017 at 12:25pm

I’m in the same boat. I’ve been married for 8 months. I was not aware my husband had ADHD while we were dating (he was diagnosed as a child, so he knew, but waited for me to figure it out on my own). It’s a balance and it takes work. I’ve accepted that I’m the one who’s going to be in charge of our finances, our schedule, any paperwork we have to complete, etc, because it’s just not how my husband is wired. Even that has been a struggle, because despite his telling me that he wants to manage our finances, he doesn’t always share information with me (like when auto payments are going to be pulled from his accounts) and has trouble being disciplined about his spending. I sometimes feel more like a parent than a spouse and that doesn’t make me happy. I’m looking for an ADHD coach for both of us to work with and working to convince my husband that a coach would be beneficial for both of us and for our relationship. I’ve also encouraged him to think about whether he should go back on medication, which I’m sure is a controversial topic. He was taking Concerta when we met and said it does help him focus. I’ve tried to understand why he stopped taking it and he will only tell me that he doesn’t want to pay for it (he told me that even with his insurance, it was $140 a month). However, he has a tendency to self-medicate with things like Redbull and sometimes his symptoms become so bad that he’s almost manic. I’m getting better at recognizing his symptoms and asking him if he thinks his behavior is due to his ADHD. Trying to push him to notice his behavior, especially when it’s behavior that caused conflicts for us. It’s a definite work in progress and learning as much as I can has helped. If I had known when we first met, it would have saved us some early struggles. I’ve also been working on myself to not get on his case when things are not important and to understand how his ADHD has impacted him. I think he has always felt a bit ashamed of it because it meant he was different, but it’s hard for me to even try to understand that, since he’s reluctant to talk about it. This may be different for your husband if he was just diagnosed, but I often wonder if my husband is reluctant to do anything about his ADHD because he feels like a lot of his childhood was spent trying to manage it.

Posted by ADHDWife&SM; on Apr 25, 2017 at 7:32pm

Divvy it up according to strengths is good, but not enough.  If you work, especially fulltime, get outside help. 

Expect that the balancing will have the likelihood of going out of whack, that there’s no permanent fix to a lot of things.

I hope that you and your partner can talk straight, and often.  I dearly hope that he wants a shared relation with you in the mundane, ordinary and boring, which is a lot of daily life.  i dearly hope that he’s well along in habits of self care, including work discipline and habits of personal financiak discipline.  You cant fix him or force these things on him from the outside

If he’s willing to work with you on shared life, expect that the solutions that the two of you come up with arent conventional or even the way that has worked for you before. 

Balance?  I’d say your care of your own balance is more important than anything.  If you’re grounded and happy, there will be a good effect on the two of you.

Remember that he’s not like you in some important things.  Remember that it’s OK to be you, too

Posted by Chevron on May 25, 2017 at 11:01pm

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