Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by symptoms such as impulsiveness, inattention, and hyperactivity. While ADHD can be challenging for individuals with the disorder, it can also be difficult for their loved ones, especially their spouses. In this blog, we will discuss how ADHD can impact a marriage and what can be done to manage these challenges.
One of the biggest challenges of ADHD in marriage is communication difficulties. People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention to what their spouse is saying or may interrupt them frequently. This perceived inattention and interruption work against feeling heard–a key component in demonstrating good listening which in turn builds intimacy. Ever heard the complaint that he or she doesn’t listen to me?
In addition to impacting listening, ADHD may cause some people to struggle in expressing their thoughts and feelings clearly. Lack of clarity then leads to misunderstandings and conflicts. One partner is so frustrated trying to understand what the other is saying, while the one speaking is wondering, “What don’t you get?”
Another challenge of ADHD in marriage is organizational difficulties. ADHD can create difficulties with time management and a partner forgetting important appointments or tasks. Never a good thing! Individuals with ADHD may also struggle to keep their living space organized, leading to cluttered and disordered environments that can cause stress for both partners.
Impulsive behavior is also a common symptom of ADHD that can wreak havoc in marriage. A partner living with ADHD may act impulsively and make decisions without fully thinking them through or talking them out first, leading the other partner to ask, “You did what? When? Why?” The consequences of impulsive actions can be especially challenging if financial or relationship decisions are involved.
Hyperactivity, perhaps the most well-known symptom of ADHD, impacts a marriage. People with ADHD may have a lot of energy and may struggle to sit still or focus for extended periods of time. This lack of stillness can be distracting for their spouse and can lead to conflicts and frustrations.
Despite these challenges, ADHD does not have to spell doom for a marriage. There are several strategies that can be helpful in managing ADHD in a relationship. Perhaps the first and most important is open and honest communication. Couples should talk about their concerns and work together to find specific solutions that work for both.
It is also important for individuals with ADHD to receive proper treatment, such as medication and behavioral therapy. These treatments can help manage the symptoms of ADHD and improve overall functioning, making it easier for individuals with ADHD to navigate their relationships.
Another helpful strategy is to establish routines and systems for managing tasks and responsibilities. Use calendars, lists, and reminders to help keep track of important appointments and tasks. Review with your partner what the day, the week ahead looks like. Remind the other, graciously.
ADHD can certainly make a marriage more challenging, but with clear understanding and management, couples can work through these difficulties and build strong and supportive relationships. By being open and honest with each other, seeking proper treatment, and establishing routines and systems, couples can overcome the challenges of ADHD and build a happy and fulfilling life together.
Vilma is a member of OAMHP (Ontario Association of Mental Health Practitioners); an RP, Registered Psychotherapist, with CRPO (College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario) and a retired teacher/counsellor with the Toronto District School Board. She taught high school for over 25 years and developed extensive experience working with at-risk youth and their families. This unique teacher/counsellor background equips her to work with both adolescents and adults.
Vilma works primarily with issues related to anger management, anxiety and depression, grief and loss, stress management and burn out.
Trained in Narrative, CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and Solution-focused therapy, Vilma listens attentively to the multiple stories of clients’ lives to help them see patterns and make connections that bring about change and growth. For clients who prefer a more goal-oriented counselling process, Vilma is also skilled in helping them clarify goals and move towards finding solutions.
In addition to doing individual counselling, Vilma also has experience facilitating group- therapy sessions and has worked with teen girls and women struggling with emotion regulation. She is also a trained facilitator in Conflict Resolution through Restorative Circles.
With her warm and engaging manner, Vilma brings a combination of deep compassion and a gentle sense of humour to provide a refreshing perspective on difficult issues.
Vilma and her husband, Grantley, have been married for 38 years and have two grown children. A published writer, Vilma enjoys writing and gardening.