Wondering if your marriage problems might be explained by the presence of ADHD?  Here are five signs that you should look for:

  1. There is a seriously unbalanced distribution of responsibility in your household.  A partner with ADHD often has trouble following through on tasks that are boring or need full attention.  To compensate, non-ADHD spouses often “pick up the slack.”  But after a while, this leads to resentment and lack of partnership, as the non-ADHD partner feels he or she shoulders the vast majority of the “scutwork” and responsibilihttp://cloud3200.com/adhd/wp-admin/post.php?post=145&action=editty, while the ADHD partner seems to get to do “whatever he or she wants”.
  2. You hate to nag or be nagged, but it happens all the time.  In an attempt to get an ADHD partner to complete unfinished household chores or change habits, it’s easy for non-ADHD partners to feel they are forced to nag.  But unless the spouses have agreed that specific types of reminders are necessary and acceptable, nagging always hurts the relationship.  The issue isn’t one of “willpower” on the part of the ADHD partner, but rather “brain wiring.”  A better choice is to set up ADHD-sensitive structures and habits to support better distribution of chores and their timely completion.
  3. You were the sun, moon and stars during courtship.  Now you feel like chopped liver.  You haven’t been courted until you experience the amazing hyperfocus a person with ADHD can deliver!  Unfortunately, hyperfocus inevitably ends, often abruptly.  Distraction once again becomes the norm.  The non-ADHD partner is left feeling confused and alone.
  4. You have a child diagnosed with, or suspected of having, ADHD.  ADHD is highly heritable.  So if you have a child with ADHD, chances are good that at least one of the parents has it, too.  If you already know one of you has ADHD, then just assume it’s impacting your marriage.  Once you learn more, you’ll see that it is.
  5. One spouse feels as if the other is more like an extra child than a partner.  Unfortunately, one of the most common patterns in marriages affected by ADHD is the “parent/child” pattern.  One adult is the “responsible” one, while the other one is carefree or considered irresponsible, and often finds him or herself being told what to do.  Usually, the ADHD spouse is not actually carefree or irresponsible, it just seems that way because he or she can’t follow through easily on daily tasks.  The imbalance of power the parent/child pattern creates engenders resentment in both partners that often leads to disrespectful interactions.

If you see these patterns in your marriage, you should:

  1. Get educated:  Read all you can about ADHD as well as my book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage.
  2. Blame the ADHD, not the person.  This opens the door for better treatment and management of ADHD symptoms without the hard feelings that blaming the person can add to your relationship.
  3. Get treatment.  If you’re really in trouble, you may find that both partners need treatment for any of the following:  ADHD, depression, anxiety, sexual issues, sleep problems and more.

Melissa Orlov About Melissa Orlov

Melissa Orlov is the author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage, named best psychology book of 2010 by ForeWord Reviews. A marriage consultant, she helps ADHD-affected couples rebalance their relationships and learn to thrive. Melissa writes for ADDitude Magazine, blogs for Psychology Today, and blogs at www.adhdmarriage.com.


  1. Talitha Hawkinberry says:

    Hi there, yup this paragraph is truly pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it. thanks.

  2. I’m sending a link to this page to my future husband… I hope it will help him to understand better… its been rough lately for us. I really need treatment but am unable to get it


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