ADHD and Marriage: Saving Your Relationship

By Edward (Ned) Hallowell, MD

Posted on | By Edward Hallowell, MD

Millions of marriages suffer needlessly due to undiagnosed adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ninety percent of adults who have ADHD do not know they have it! How can you tell if you or you spouse might have undiagnosed ADHD? Look for the following symptoms:

  • Trouble sustaining focus and mental clarity in work or conversations, coupled with an ability to hyper-focus at times
  • Trouble getting organized, tendency to have many piles around the office and home
  • Trouble managing time, being punctual, tendency to procrastinate and get things done in a panic at the last minute
  • Tendency to act impulsively, without reflection or forethought
  • Tendency to have many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow-through
  • Tendency to be a maverick, liking to do things their own way
  • Tendency to be impatient
  • Tendency to argue needlessly, often drawn to conflict
  • Tendency to seek high stimulation, excitement
  • Often highly creative, original, intuitive
  • Often entrepreneurial, inventive, hardworking
  • Often warm, generous, giving to others
  • Often sensitive and deep, but also tend to cover this trait
  • Often under-achieving, not making the most of one’s talents

If you or your spouse has some of these traits, it may be due to undiagnosed ADHD. You should see a professional and get treatment if it is needed. If you or your partner has undiagnosed ADHD, the marriage may feel like a big struggle with nothing but conflict all the time. In addition, the spouse who does not have ADHD may feel as if their ADHD spouse is like another child, rather than an equal partner. Such an ongoing struggle can lead to each partner avoiding the other, which only makes matters worse. Distance develops and warmth and intimacy wane, as each partner resents the other more and more.

Article written by Edward Hallowell, MD
Harvard-trained child and adult psychiatristDirector of the Hallowell Centers in Manhattan and Sudbury, MA