Building strong relationships can be challenging, especially when ADHD is in the mix. Melissa Orlov, a renowned marriage consultant and author, highlights that adults with ADHD often carry a shadow of shame from their younger years, a sentiment echoed by respected figures like teachers and parents. This shame can seep into their romantic life, manifesting as defensiveness or denial about their ADHD, and often leaving their partners feeling overlooked or unappreciated.
Research published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies indicates that couples where one partner has ADHD might struggle with intimacy and overall happiness in their marriage. However, the power of a close bond can soften the impact of ADHD symptoms.
Orlov, known for her books The ADHD Effect on Marriage and The Couple’s Guide to Thriving with ADHD, points out that a staggering 80% of adults with ADHD might not even know they have it. This lack of awareness can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships. Three major symptoms often stir up issues:
- Distractibility: The ADHD partner might seem to ignore their significant other, leading to the other taking on more tasks and eventually feeling resentful.
- Difficulty in Completing Tasks: When ADHD hampers the completion of promised tasks, trust and reliability can suffer.
- Impulsivity: Rash decisions or actions, like overspending or poor communication, can add tension to the relationship.
Orlov sheds light on the dynamics within such relationships, saying, “The classic mutual stance when people start to learn about ADHD is that the non-ADHD partner says: ‘If you would only fix the ADHD, everything would be fine.’ And the ADHD partner says: ‘If you would just stop being so angry and mean to me, everything would be fine.’” She emphasizes that the solution lies in both partners acknowledging their part in the relationship’s dynamics, addressing the ADHD symptoms, and managing emotions like anger and hopelessness.
Key steps to nurturing your relationship include:
Educating Yourself about ADHD: Understanding how ADHD affects behavior is crucial for both partners.
Seeking Treatment and Management: Using strategies to handle ADHD can significantly improve relationship dynamics.
Professional Guidance: Consulting therapists specializing in ADHD can provide tailored strategies for couples.
Orlov encourages couples to focus on their core relationship needs and remain adaptable. While ADHD presents unique challenges, with the right approach and support, relationships can not only survive but also thrive.
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ADHD & Marriage
Journal of Child and Family Studies
Journal of Attention Disorders
ADHD & Marriage: ADHD Effect In-Depth Seminar