Men with Adult ADHD. The Effect on Their Families.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article on the problems of Adult ADD

I get wives on the phone saying, ‘If he doesn’t get help soon, I’m leaving,”‘ says Joy Toll of ADDults with ADHD (NSW),a voluntary organisation. Toll works on the organisation’s helpline.

Unfortunately some men who have ADD but are not officially diagnosed often stay in denial too long, sometimes with severe negative consequence. I have had many calls and emails from men who are in the midst of:

a) severe relationship problems with their wife/girlfriend
b) an ongoing divorce
c) just getting out of a divorce

where untreated ADD is a large factor in the these problems.

Sometimes they don’t know they might have ADD, other times they were told but didn’t want to admit it.

The cost of denial can be very high. Some of my Adult ADHD coaching clients have no problem with ADD at work, they’ve managed to find an ADD friendly job and modified it to work well for them, but do have problems at home due to ADD. I often coach them about developing better communication skills around issues of stress and time management.

It’s especially important for people with ADHD to try and learn these skills before having children – not only do they manage parenting better, but the children are less likely to replicate the same patterns of behaviour,” she says.

But for many people, the first inkling they have ADHD is when their own children are diagnosed with the disorder – and a parent sees their own childhood behaviour mirrored in their sons or daughters, explains Dr Julian Trollo r, a neuropsychiatrist with the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

That’s why I think it’s so crucial that people who think they have ADD need to learn more about it and if necessary see an medical professional to find out if they have ADD or not.

Getting a diagnosis of ADD doesn’t mean someone will put a gun to your head and force a pill down your throat. You get to decide how you treat your ADD if you have it. You get to enjoy the benefits of the different methods of treating ADD, and suffer the costs of not treating ADD. ADD medications can be a very useful tool, but pills don’t teach skills. They can help put you in a better postion to learn them, but you still need to learn them.

The Harvard/NYU/W.H.O. adult ADHD screener test takes 5 minutes to do and is one of the most popular pages on my ADHD resource website.

If you have a spouse who has ADD, you might consider checking out the ADHD Partner Yahoo E-Group. Seems like a pretty active group.

One of the many reasons I focus on the strengths of Adults with ADD is to encourage those people (usually men but not always) who might otherwise be afraid of admitting they might have ADD to get a diagnosis.

One reason they don’t seek a diagnosis of ADHD is because they’re afraid someone might use it as yet another negative label to beat them up with and use against them as a weapon.

Another is the John Wayne myth, that a real man doesn’t ever need anyone to help him. Bullshit.

A real man seeks help when it would be useful to him, and offers it to others as well. It’s a sign of weakness to be afraid to ask for help, not a sign of strength. It shows that you’re scared of what other people might think of you and let their opinions and judgments or fear of them determine how you live your life.

If you were in denial about having ADD, and got diagnosed and treated, what got you to change your mind and seek help? Was it worth it?

35 thoughts on “Men with Adult ADHD. The Effect on Their Families.”

  1. Terry A Case

    My boyfriend/Husband been together for 9 yrs and it has been hell. he has nine children total. one is ours and he is the only reason i put up with this disorder.

    you see he lives in this fanticy world and think if he relies on god and he reads the bible and gose every now in then to church he will be ok but i ask him if he belives in god why dose,nt th treat me with respect or talk or try to work on are relation ship in my heart i think my time is up becaues he has left every family he has ever started …

    when he feel strong enought to drink he dose and oh my god .Then all Hell brakes loose he runs every where talk a lot of crap its realy something else he is mean well drink or not he is phicialy and emotional abusive to me and are son ..what should i do i think there is nothing i can but say good buy now ..he walk out the door always and never says any thing one day he says iam his wife and other days iam nothing .and he is always in denile never wants to see the real cause or
    mabe that just realy how he thinks righ now its so bak he said to me he will bash everthing in with a bat in our house and he just walk over to see what iam doning and la laugh histraicly.

    he also said dont use my car any more. lost in this mess people see his actions i say nothing . They see hiom running laugh talk on his cell phone and they are in wow whats wrong with him oh just egnor that but they say why are you with him .he makes me feel unwanted and never sticks to one job and has every excuse for doing so .every where he works he gets hurt and here we go disability and still pays child support for some of there children why one just lives 20 min away and takes no intrest in her.

    i feel so badfor here.any way you know how ADD/ADHD people act …just i dont know any more he trying to munipulate me in to thing some thing is wrong with me …thanks for lessoning to me and sorry about my spelling its not all the great….Miss Case

  2. Hi Terry, sounds like he’s got a lot more problems than just ADHD. He’s violent and abusive and you should contact someone that can help you like a crisis line or a women’s crisis/domestic abuse phone line.

    You don’t have to do it alone and if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your child. Good luck

  3. how would we find a free service that can help us figure out if my husband has ADD.some of the symptoms he has is 1:cant keep his attention on one thing,except video games because he says it keeps his hands and mind busy…2:he is very up and down i really dont know how to put it …3: he always forgets wha i ask him to do ,because he gets sidetracked very easily.if anyone could help i would really appreciate it

  4. Hi Crystal,

    while there are screening tests online to see if someone MIGHT have ADHD, i.e. the Harvard adult ADHD screening test I have on my website

    The only way to properly find out is to get diagnosed for ADHD by a qualified medical profession that actually knows about ADHD, which unfortunately many do not because

    1. they weren’t properly trained on ADHD in medical school and

    2. people with ADHD don’t let their politicians, health bureacracy & media know it’s hard to find someone who knows enough about ADHD to diagnose it and that ADHD is a real serious problem.

    See my adult ADHD screening test link for info on who can diagnose and where you find those people.

  5. Linda Koutroulis

    My son age 26 has ADD. When he gets frustrated,
    he still cries. Is this behavior caused by his ADD?

  6. We have have not been able to afford medication for a very long time. We may try the generic again, but last go, created a super agitated, angry large man. Insurance doesn’t care, and we don’t have a couple hundred extra a month for Ritilin SR (or LA ideally) and we are on the verge of Divorce. He points out that Impusiveness in ADD is a large reason for his infidility and he is angry at me that he doesn’t have meds.

    As a non-ADD wife, there is no winning. No talking to him and I am at wits end.

  7. Sounds like it’s more than adhd. If he doesn’t have meds why shouldn’t he be angry at himself vs you. Meds are useful but they’re only part of the equation, therapy would be useful in that case IF the therapist knows adhd And he’s open and willing to change.. You might want to visit an adhd support group for you and a therapist for you. Make sure to put on your oxygen mask first. Maybe look at the blog

  8. I am one of the luckest women in the world I have been married to my husband for 33 years. Yesterday we found out he has ADHD, the wonderful part is we now both have something to work with and his therapist (who is a wonderful) is helping him to learn how to deal with this disorder.

    To all you wifes out there if you really love your husband be his foundation and help him get help. When he told me last night he has ADHD I could see the relief in his face because he was getting help. Thank you for this site I just found it today and your comments are helpful.

  9. My husband and I have been together for 6 years. He’s 33 and a successful engineer. He was diagnosed with ADD 15 years ago. I’m finding it has really changed me as a person as everything I do I need to make him the centre of.

    I love him dearly and want to start a family with him because he is a beautiful person but I don’t know what to do sometimes when he’s just very angry at me if he’s had accumulated stress. He’s extremely negative and that becomes hard to tolerate after a while.

    Can you please explain some ways in which we -the partners of someone with ADD- can stay sane and maybe alleviate some of their angst?
    note: he is on dexamphetamines and has been since diagnosis.

  10. Hi , i am 26 year old male who has ADHD. i was treated up to the age of 14 then refused to take them anymore. My relationship is in Jep. i need some advice. My GF says that I dont treat her will, because when i get angry i take it out on her by name calling and , yelling, the fact of the matter is when i am doing that i believe im in the right. but hours after or even minutes i realize that. i was totally wrong. I feel ashamed and embarrassed for they way i have acted and treated her. today she says i have one LAST and FINAL Chance . any advice will help. just wanna know how to stop it. it occurs once a month usually. I Love her and want to show her the changes i am making to keep her

  11. Hi Adam,

    If you believe you aree in the right why do you have to shout? Confidence is quiet, it’s like you’re trying to convince yourself you’re in the right.

    The problem seems to be around lack of self awareness, self control and effective communications, basically a skills issue, that many adults with ADHD have problems with. So find ways to learn those skills.

    You might want to consider hiring an ADHD coach or therapist that knows ADHD to help you to learn those skills.

  12. Hi Adam
    Seek out a therapist, they will be able to help you and or determine if you need meds. Also find groups in your area that deal with Adult ADHD and go together to these meetings. Both of you need to meet folks that are dealing with the same situation. Hang in there, the light is at the end of the tunnel, my husband has anger issues as well so I totally understand where your girl friend is coming from. A good therapist will educate in how to deal with your anger that is what my husband therapist is doing for him and I already see the difference.
    Good Luck.

  13. My comment is similar to MM above but I do not see a response to her comments. My husband and I have been married just over 6 years and have one daughter who is 9 months old. I knew when we got married that he had ADD but really only thought it affected his work. We realized a few months ago JUST HOW MUCH his ADD affects our marriage. I am constantly feeling like he is selfish even though I know his heart is pure. He has an extremely difficult time thinking of others before himself and it is to the point of driving me crazy. I could go on and on but as MM asked, do you have any advice on the spouses of those with ADD and how we might stay sane while dealing with their disorder? thank you!

  14. Reading these comments, and I feel like I am reading about my own life. My husband and I are on the verge of a divorce. We were supposed to start therapy together, but he keeps making excuses as to why he can’t make an appt. So I finally just went by myself. The therapist thinks he may have ADD, and after reading this, I think so too. He has many anger issues, he can’t pay attention to anything for very long. We have been together for 11 years, married for 6.5. He takes all his anger out on me and our 2 little girls. I am sick of it.

    If he has something that can be treated and he can learn to change his behaviours then we will have a better chance of working it out. What I am afraid of is his denial. I think he may take too long to make the effort to change, and by the time he does we will be long over. Our marriage is hanging on by a thread right now.

    I am a cancer survivor, I was expected to live maybe 4 years after my treatments. That was 10 years ago. I am healthy now and I don’t like wasting my life in this miserable circle. I feel I was given a second chance and I should do something with it. He tries to push me down everytime. He says he is envious of my outgoing personality and how I am always positive. Why is that a bad thing?

    This article was an eye opener for me. Thank you.

  15. It’s not a bad thing Shannon, he’s probably so frustrated seeing you having a state he probably wants to have but can’t seem to develop and he’s jealous of you. I’d suggest find a marriage therapist familiar with Adhd and focusing on what you need and want even if he won’t go. + find an ADHD support group again for you.

    For understanding denial see Gina Pera’s book on adhd and relationships, I don’t agree with all of it, but she’s got 4 great chapters on denial she should sell as a stand alone ebook

  16. Jenny, i’m sorry that youre in such a trying circumstance. my husband and I tried couples counselling a few months ago and it has helped somewhat. it was quite hard to arrange it though because every time I tried wed end up fighting and me feeling really hopeless.

    I’ve come to accept the fact that he has this thing and i’ve developed my own coping mechanisms. Like living my own life, having my own social circle, doing what needs to be done even if he won’t and just not trying to do EVERYTHING. I don’t want to leave him but I often ask myself why can’t I just be in a normal relationship, whatever that is. but I remind myself all the time of his good qualities and it calms me a bit.

    I commend you on seeking therapy for yourself. I hope that helps you.
    For us what’s helped the most is moving to a bigger place where we each have our private space.

  17. I may have skimmed too quickly, but I didn’t see any comments or questions like mine, so I thought I’d post. My husband and I will have been married for 10 years next month. In our case, I was diagnosed with adult ADD at 21 and he was a year or more after I was. I forget the exact credentials of the person who diagnosed me, but I know she was specialized in diagnosing ADHD and similar conditions (Actually, my appointment was to be evaluated for depression.

    So, being told that I have ADD felt like it came out of nowhere. lol). I don’t know whatsoever about the person who diagnosed him. Getting to the point, we’re 28 now. I’ve just started back on meds and he’s completely unmedicated.

    Overall, we’re doing pretty well considering our dual ADD diagnosis and being an Active duty military family. My question is, where would I begin to look for help with behavioral modification therapy for myself? Being a full-time wife and mother is busy for anyone, but it’s an incredible struggle when he has to be away a lot. Then, of course, when he’s home, we are having to deal with both of our symptoms and the good likelihood that at least one of our two children has ADHD too.

    Are there even any good books to get tips from? I want to be able to take the very best care I can of my family versus feeling like I’m barely keeping my head above water and I’ll never be able to do that if I don’t learn how to take care of myself.

    P.S. I really hope I made sense there. I’ve been up all night ping ponging around my house trying to clean it up before he gets home. lol

  18. My husband and I of 30 years just started marriage counseling due to his infidelity of over 1/2 our married life. During our session yesterday, our therapist said that his ADHD as a kid is still carries over to adulthood and needs to be addressed.

    I feel so much like the other ladies – out of touch, alone, tired of being his punching bag – verbally – and also with him never taking responsibilities for his actions.

    Now he feels more of a failure because of what our therapist said. I just want him well – especially for our children – and hopefully for me – any suggestions – anyone else going through this with infidelity? Alone

  19. Good article
    This is me!
    a) severe relationship problems with their wife/girlfriend
    b) an ongoing divorce
    c) just getting out of a divorce

    Two marriages, two divorces. Nobody gets me maybe. 2nd wife was great I just had this burning desire to bail. I am 52 and still struggle at work as an electrical engineer. Don’t drink now as that tore away at me so I stopped.
    Some times this is hard as I wander from thing to thing and dilute my efforts in life and tend to confuse those around me.

    This is good post!

  20. Thanks Jeff.

    Best thing to do is to focus on your 50% in relationships & learn the skills to manage adhd more effectively. Focus also on getting them too:)

  21. I have ADD. when anything happens in the house I am at falt. when I don’t finish something or forget something, the first thing she says is why? I say I forgot, or I don’t rmember, she says that’s not an excuse. when I try to remind her I have ADD and I can’t remember.”she says just get over it.” what can I do to make her find out about ADD so she can help not hinder th problem.

  22. Hi Gary,

    2 parts you and her. You: You can’t use ADHD as an excuse ie I can’t remember b/c i have adhd, therefore I’m consequence free.

    You need to use adhd as an explanation, i can’t remember so I’m going to learn how to manage my adhd more effectively by adhd meds, hiring an adhd coach, going to an adhd support group, read adhd blog posts and books AND do some of the things they suggest vs read & ignore. Learn adhd friendly ways to write things down AND alarms to remember to look at the list etc.

    I have a lot of info on ADHD on my blog here & 150 pages on my website ADDCoach4u

    Maybe start with my post Top 10 Ways to Manage Adult ADHD

    For her you might get her and you to visit ADHDmarriage blog esp read the blog post comments. Maybe buy Melissa Orlov’s book also buy the add and loving it DVD from website. great funny documentary on adhd it explains a lot

  23. It’s easier for the simple minded (average person) to be seduced by the conspiracy theory of “big pharma” drugging up the universe.

    Because they lack empathy, and they have never experienced what it’s like to have ADD/ADHD, they don’t believe it could possibly exist.

    Also, they like to think they are better than you and that you are just lazy.


  24. My boyfriend of 7 years has repeatedly gone up and down in our relationship. Every 6 months to a year he tries to find a reason usually very petty, to break our relationship off but then comes right back. Little things irritate him such as he wants the brightest light in the house on while eating, if I hang clothes in the doorways to dry, or having the fan on at night. He is very artistic but never finishes a song that he starts writing or a story he starts writing. He went to school and then got board with it after a year. He plays excessive video games every day after work and on weekends and does not hear anything while on them. Its like pulling teeth to get him to help with anything inside or outside the house. He gets annoyed easily and board easily and has trouble falling asleep at night. We also get in arguments over petty things that shouldn’t cause it to get that far. Any help is appreciated.

  25. still worry cuz im his mom

    My son is 27 yrs old and does not think he has ADD even though he was diagnosed at a young age with it .
    He recently lost his job ,and just last week got pulled over for expired plates (since feb) and blew .2 over the limit and now is facing licsence suspension and large fines. The ironic thing is he rarely goes out for a beer ,and this one time …..
    He is on the verge of eviction,and losing his car,and has no money for car insurance.
    But yet will not talk to me about anything pertaining to these issues,we usually get in an argument because he doesn’t seem to care (from my perspective)about these things. And he has no medical insurance to get any help ,even if he wanted to…..frustrating !!!

  26. Jackie Roles

    Why do these people not get treatment, even though told their behaviour is very bad – I have a 60 year old husband with something and I know it is ADHD and have realised I have lived with this behaviour for 36 years – the touching, grapping, impulsiveness of moving etc and the constant saying the same things which they should be having like dinners made, chores done and pulling me about…. it is not easy for a woman to up and move away, financially and this is not fair in life – there should be ways in place to assist spouses who really cannot take anymore. We get married to have a partner of same, to do life and challenges together but we do end up being parent and so lonely and wonder why…..

  27. Jackie Roles

    It is so unfair – when we marry we don’t realise what we are getting into – we grow up in a family with brothers and sisters, mum and dad and know that family and its habits and strengths and weaknesses – then we look for adult company, which leads to partnership or marriage but we didn’t grow up with that person, so we don’t really know them…..we may jump into marriage without spending long enough with the person beforehand and not realise there may be problems with behaviour – then trying to get out of marriage after many years is very difficult as family is produced, who wish to see mum and dad stay together but if mum is struggling with dad’s behaviour and has requested he see someone but he doesn’t, mum finds life very difficult and the children do not understand….you don’t tell the children all the struggles that have gone on behind the scenes, trying to protect the children but these adhd men can pull you, take things from you without asking, sit on you and do things that a teenage naughty boy would do…no wonder we suffer with high blood pressure and there is no telling these people to stop, they just won’t but do it even more as they enjoy upsetting the wife and seeing her in distress….children left home now, so looking for peace in my life and a space of my own but cannot afford, which is very unfair as the home was my nest for my children but these men assume everything is theirs and life is all about them with no argument….but the arguments they are always right, even though completely wrong….why do we get married.

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