Are you or your spouse constantly distracted or forgetful? Do either of you feel as if you can’t get anything done? If so, it could be attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—a serious medical problem that affects 9 million Americans, 75% of which are undiagnosed. ADHD can cause forgetfulness, irritability and procrastination, all of which can put a healthy marriage at risk. In fact, adults with ADHD are twice as likely to get divorced.
Most people associate ADHD with children who struggle to stay focused in school, home or even at play. But what many don’t realize is that up to 70% of children with ADHD carry this disorder into adulthood.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a mental health condition that causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Brain scans have shown that 4 areas of the brain responsible for advanced decision-making skills and impulse control are slightly smaller in people with ADHD. Research also indicates that genetics are involved; a child with 1 ADHD parent has a 1 in 3 chance of also developing the disorder.
To envision what adult ADHD looks like, picture the brain as a conveyor belt with moving objects that represent tasks from everyday life, ordinary things like picking up the kids, making dinner, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, doing dishes, etc. Now imagine the conveyor belt going faster and faster as you try to sort and place each task in a separate bin. Just like this scenario, the ADHD brain can’t complete different jobs when it’s moving too quickly. In sum, people with ADHD have difficulty slowing down to sort and process tasks on a daily basis, which can result in poor performance and feelings of failure.
If you or your spouse has ADHD, it can really put a damper on your marriage. The ADHD adult often forgets to carry out important responsibilities like paying bills, has trouble keeping scheduled appointments and can exhibit unpredictable or hot-tempered behavior.
If you’re both unaware that one partner is suffering from ADHD, a parent-child dynamic can develop. The ADHD spouse may feel like a misbehaving child who is always getting reprimanded, whereas the non-ADHD spouse may feel like a nag. These roles are highly unpleasant for each spouse to play.
Treatment for ADHD
If you’re diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor may put you on a trial of medications ranging from Adderall to Ritalin. Many people feel afraid or uncomfortable to go this route, but these medications have highly successful track records for treating ADHD and its symptoms. Plus, most of these medications are regarded as some of the safest in all of pharmacopeia.
Tips for Coping With ADHD
If you’re living with an ADHD sufferer, here are 2 things you can do to help them focus, and, will also help you communicate better as a couple.
Write It Down
The ADHD brain needs external reminders like easier to fulfill to-do lists or a simple appointment calendar. The non-ADHD spouse should write down a grocery or chore list to help the ADHD spouse remember important tasks.
If your partner has ADHD, ask them to repeat out loud what you’ve asked them to do. This strategy may sound rude, but in fact it helps the ADHD brain to register tasks.
ADHD is quite common among people who are creative, entrepreneurial, independent and loaded with talent. So don’t let the negative side of ADHD get in the way of either partner living up to their potential. If you suspect you or your spouse has ADHD, seek an evaluation today.
Click here to take Dr. Oz’s quiz and find out if you or your spouse could have ADHD.