Adult ADD/ADHD and Its Effects on Marriage

A Proactive Approach to Overcoming Adult ADD/ADHD with an Emphasis on Saving Your Relationship 

ADD/ADHD is a difficult enough condition to manage in children and adolescents. In adults, the condition can cause even more trouble, as it affects every aspect of their lives, including jobs and personal relationships. ADD/ADHD can have a negative impact on marriage. For a marriage to succeed in spite of this condition, it is important to understand the symptoms, to find help, and to provide support for the afflicted spouse. ADD/ADHD can be frustrating for both partners, but it can be managed and even overcome to a point, at least enough to ensure that the marriage is not destroyed because of an unavoidable malfunction of the brain.

Understanding Adult ADD/ADHD 

The symptoms of adult ADD or adult ADHD are really no different from those in children. The major difference is that adult lives are more complex, meaning that the condition has a larger impact in their overall stability with jobs and relationships, and their ability to accomplish things or to even cope with situations that those without the condition often have little trouble with. 

Adults with ADD/ADHD often have trouble with or experience:


  • Staying focused and completing tasks; therefore, they often do not put forth much effort
  • Giving up easily, even when a goal is within reach because the task seems too daunting or impossible
  • Learning difficulties and poor job performance
  • Anger and frustration, as well as erratic behavior
  • Obsessiveness
  • Difficulties with interpersonal relationships including those in authority and romantic partnerships/marriage
  • Difficulties with listening and talking out of term
  • Absent-mindedness, memory issues
  • Low self-confidence, low self esteem
  • Avoidance of social situations, especially delicate situations that might expose their condition 

Negative Consequences of Adult ADD/ADHD in Marriage 

For the non-afflicted spouse, their partner might appear lazy, unambitious, careless, and dead-set on disappointing them. In reality, the afflicted spouse might be so afraid of failing and disappointing their partner that, in their mind, simply not trying seems like the better option. Their unwillingness to involve themselves in many social situations might leave the other spouse feeling alone and unimportant, while the afflicted spouse is likely to feel the same way because he or she is torn between participating or not and may not be able to understand why their spouse would choose to attend social gatherings and events when they could just stay at home too.

Of the social isolation, a woman whose spouse was severely afflicted and untreated, and who asked to remain anonymous says,  He was very vocal and adamant about his desire that I stay home with him, essentially taking on his social aversion symptoms myself. Rather than add to the mounting conflict, I appeased him and stayed home… for fifteen long months. The only time we left the house was to go to the grocery store or to Wal-Mart, both of which were literally across the street. He did go to work but every day, he was hanging onto his job by a mere thread. No one was really allowed to come over or to come into the house, and when they did, he made the situation so uncomfortable that people began avoiding us as well. The social isolation began to affect my mental health as well, and his want to self-medicate, as opposed to seeking professional help only worsened matters, leading to the demise of our relationship. 

Saving Your Marriage from ADD/ADHD 

Adult ADD/ADHD does not have to mean the end of your marriage. However, it takes both spouses and some outside help to get the problem under control and to keep it in check. Symptoms will always exist and it takes patience and effort to work around them. However, the symptoms can be alleviated, and adults can break through the condition, improving their marriage and their life.

  • Admit the problem
  • Seek a professional diagnosis, as well as possible medication and other treatments, and ongoing counseling or therapy.
  • Practice behavioral modification, coping mechanisms, incentives, and other strategies to help achieve goals and stay on track.
  • The unafflicted spouse must learn about the condition and play an active role in therapy and supporting the afflicted spouse, working with them to overcome their problem.
  • Find a support group
  • Communicate. Spouses must open up to one another, as well as to professionals, family, friends, and others trying to help and support them if their efforts are to be successful.
  • Routine is key. Get into a routine. Make checklists. Do not deviate. This gives the afflicted spouse guidance to accomplish things and helps to improve their self-confidence.
  • Broaden your horizons! If you are an adult suffering from ADD/ADHD, embrace it, be social, and stop letting fear run your life.

Following these steps can help you and your spouse to get a running start in saving your marriage from the negativity of ADD/ADHD. Of course, following the directives of any mental health professional will also help you to overcome this condition as well.

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