Is ADD/ADHD Affecting Your Marriage?

Today’s Truth:

Attention disorders can wreak havoc on a marriage. When a spouse has ADD/ADHD, the marriage is twice as likely to end in divorce than if both spouses are normal.

I wrote on this topic today because several people I know, including some personal friends, are going through tough separations. Interestingly, mental health issues seem to be present in nearly all of them, diagnosed or not—particularly ADD/ADHD. Having experience with an ADD sufferer in my own family, I know how difficult it is living with someone like this, who without medication, doesn’t always respond to my requests, puts off difficult decisions or tasks, muddles through life without clear direction or focus, seems disinterested and disconnected…I could go on.

Now translate that to marriage!

Imagine having a partner who doesn’t follow through with things when asked a million times. Who forgets important details, like anniversaries or birthdays, picking up the kids on time, or taking out the garbage on Wednesdays. Or who can’t seem to tackle hard things, like cleaning a messy garage, finding a good job, or helping around the house in a satisfactory manner. But a lack in these areas over time could lead the spouse of these folks to feel unloved, rejected, and disrespected, because they inadvertently communicate disengagement or disinterest in the marriage, household, kids, etc.

ADD/ADHD is a disorder, which by definition means, “a confused or messy state.” I’ve heard it described like having a mass of information being thrown at you all at once, all the time. Like a tornado of thoughts, senses, and emotions spiraling around in your head. That would be tough! It’s important to realize that it’s a physiological brain chemistry imbalance that impairs one’s ability to respond to life situations normally. Approx. 5% of adults have it—that’s a lot of people! It’s really easy to get fed up with someone when they don’t act or respond in normal ways, but they’re not normal and should be treated with great patience, compassion, and empathy.

I guess my hope is this: If your marriage is going through a tough time, take a step back and consider whether mental illness of any kind could be a factor. Before you throw in the towel, have a discussion with your spouse to see if it’s possible he/she could have an undiagnosed attention disorder—it happens more often than you realize! It’s likely they they want to be married and involved, but have a difficult time operating normally. There are several on-line self-diagnostic tests, but I highly recommend seeing a professional to help you.

If there is already a diagnosis, determine if the right medications are being taken regularly. (Have they stopped working? Is he/she still taking them?) Make sure your spouse is in the care of professionals, such as a psychiatrist (who can administer medications), a counselor specializing in his/her illness, and a family physician. It is very important to have a team of professionals involved to help you both manage the disorder to minimize the affect on relationships and responsibilities.

Wives and husbands need to work together on this issue or the marriage may fail. The one with the disorder needs to commit fully to participating in the care they need to function properly (like taking their medications regularly, seeing a counselor as scheduled, communicating any changes or needs), and the one married to them needs to operate out of unconditional love, patience, and understanding to the best of their abilities—get help if you need it; don’t give up on them.

Remember that God created each of us beautifully and uniquely for His good purpose, imperfect as we all are.

Psalm 139:13-15 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” NIV

I did some research on this issue today and I came across a couple of good resources I think they could be very helpful to you:

ADHD Isn’t Just for Kids- Adults Feel Big Impact in Marriage, by Melissa Orlov

Can Your Relationship Survive ADHD? Tips on how to save a marriage, or a relationship, affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, by Angela Haupt

Attention Disorders Can Take a Toll on Marriage, New York Times, Tara Parker Pope


How about you? Has this post related to you in any way? Share your experience by commenting below.