Creating a Stronger Adult ADHD Relationship

The Adult ADHD Relationship Report Card

Research suggests that adults with ADHD are twice as likely to be divorced and that as many as 60% have high levels of distress in their marriages.

A survey done by ADDitude magazine was revealing in this respect. In surveying the ADHD partner, 38% said their marriage had come close to divorce, 22% said they had considered divorce, and only 31% said they had never thought about divorce. For the non-ADHD partner, 24% said they had never considered divorce, and 12% said they were in the process of separating or divorcing at the time of the survey.

Non-marital relationships often become dysfunctional and break up.

How Adult ADHD Impacts Relationships

There are a number of behaviors that can negatively impact a relationship where one partner has ADHD. Some of these include:

  • Distraction and inattention – These are part of the basic symptomology of adult ADHD. The non-ADHD spouse can be feel ignored or devalued. It can be a constant effort to get and maintain your partner’s attention.
  • Lack of follow-through on common household tasks – This is a consequence of distraction. The non-ADHD partner can feel like they have to take all the responsibility for seeing that these things get done. Or spend a lot of time nagging to ensure they do get done..
  • Low-sex marriage – This is a common complaint in marriages where one partner has ADHD. It can become a seed of contention and dissatisfaction over time.
  • Financial issues – The ADHD partner can often have trouble managing money, paying bills, or finding / keeping a job. This can add considerable stress to a relationship.
  • Parent-child relationship dynamic – The non-ADHD partner can feel he or she has to always be in the role of parent – reminding the other about taking medications, keeping appointments, or remembering to do their part in shared tasks.

And here is one more thing to consider:

ADHD and Relationships: Let’s Be Honest

Any or all of these can wreak havoc on a relationship over time. Resolving relationship issues can be complicated if the ADHD partner has not been diagnosed with the disorder and is unaware they have it.

Tips to Help Improve Your Relationship

Making an ADHD relationship work can seem like a hopeless prospect. But it can work if there is awareness, education, love and compassion on both sides of the relationship. Here are a few things that can help improve an ADHD relationship:

  • Awareness and acceptance – Once both partners become aware of and acknowledge that ADHD is impacting their relationship, they can begin to work on what’s needed to make it better. Accepting that ADHD isn’t going to go away means that they can focus on how to lessen its impact and make their time together happier and more meaningful.
  • Education and treatment – Learning what adult ADHD is and how it manifests is key for both the ADHD- and non-ADHD partner. Knowing that its symptoms are the result of a brain disorder and not intentional can open the door to understanding and compassion. Exploring appropriate treatment options is important to help moderate the symptoms and allow the relationship an opportunity  to flourish.
  • Communication – In an ADHD relationship, communication will always be challenging. Work out different methods to defuse emotional volatility and encourage listening. As each partner learns how ADHD can impact any situation or conversation, there can be more room for empathy and understanding.
  • Structure – Adding more structure to the daily routine can help overcome issues like distraction and forgetfulness when it comes to getting things done. This can take some of the pressure off the relationship and open the door to more fun and spontaneity.

Working through the difficulties that can come in an ADHD relationship might be the kind of shared, creative endeavor that gives it new meaning and life, and you and your partner more happiness.

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