Melissa Orlov has a great post that’s a must read to help the ADHD adults understand what their non-ADHD spouses want from them. Great title too, The Care and Feeding of a Non-ADD Spouse.
Unfortunately, a lot of men and women who have Adult ADD are in denial about how their ADHD related behaviours affect their spouses. Or, they minimize the true impact untreated ADHD has on their marriage.
Sometimes I coach people with adult ADHD just around relationships, they have a high stimulation job and adequate support systems at work. But they are on the verge of divorce at home because they’re in denial or minimization of their ADHD problems and are not effectively managing their negative ADHD symptoms.
Because of this, they often irritate their spouses and their spouses nag them, tell them to stop doing this, start doing that but they don’t know HOW to do those things. Then the endless unproductive conflict happens in a perpetual self-sustaining feedback loop.
Often the ADHD adult or their spouse don’t contact me until they are almost ready for divorce.
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “What Women Want”? This is what I think you would hear if you were Mel Gibson and could hear your wife’s thoughts.
Here are a few ones:
Thoughts and actions are not equally satisfying: You may be thinking about me a lot, but when you are off in your own world, or distracted by something else, I have no way of knowing that.
To me, it feels as if you almost never think of me. It makes me sad. In the future, can you take a few seconds and show me through actions, not thoughts, that you are thinking of me? A short kiss, an “I love you” or some other action will mean a lot to me.
I’m working really hard at this relationship, but sometimes despair because it doesn’t feel to me like you are, too: I’m not asking that we meet in the exact middle. But sometimes I despair that we’ll never meet at all!
I need attention, and one form of attention is having you take my needs seriously enough to show an effort in my direction. This gets back to the “thoughts and actions” are not the same as ideas notion. I want to be happy around you (and you want me to be happy around you – it’s so much easier that way!) but it’s hard to keep always trying without seeing any reciprocal action
ADDer have a higher rate of divorce than non ADDers.
If you’re married to (or were married to) someone with adult ADHD, what advice would you give them to help them have a better marriage/avoid divorce?