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Could ADHD Ruin Your Marriage?

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What you read next may be the biggest understatement of the year: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may take a huge toll on marriages, reports the New York Times. No, but in all seriousness, we're talking about the real deal here -- so don't let your husband blame not doing the dishes or not picking up his dirty socks on ADHD until he gets a professional opinion.

couple looking angry

The Times piece says that the idea that attention problems can take a toll on adult relationships is getting more notice from mental-health experts. It goes on to state that in a marriage, the common symptoms of ADHD -- distraction, disorganization, forgetfulness -- can easily be misinterpreted as laziness, selfishness and a lack of love and concern. At least 4 percent of adults have a form of the disorder, and as many as half of all children with ADHD will continue to struggle with symptoms well into adulthood.

Of course, the biggest concern for a spouse who has an attention disorder is that now the other spouse has an excuse for being forgetful or uncooperative. (You knew that was coming, right?)

"Typically, people don't realize that ADHD is impacting their marriage because there's been no talk about this at all," Melissa Orlov, author of "The ADHD Effect on Marriage," told the Times. Her husband was diagnosed with the disorder five years ago, and before then, she could never put her finger on why she felt she was taking full responsibility for her family with little or no help. "I felt like he was consistently inconsistent," Orlov said. "I could never count on him. It goes from feeling responsible for everything to just chronic anger. I didn't like the person I'd become, either." (They're still married -- and now, happily.)

If you think your partner fills the bill, you can find out more through the National Association of Attention-Deficit Disorders.


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25 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 10, 2010, 5:26 PM

My brother has ADD and his marriage is definitely suffering, in fact I have emailed him the link to this article to share with his wife. I think it’s worth reading what the Brain Balance website has to say about functional disconnection syndrome as it relates to ADHD - www.brainbalancecenters.com/the-truth/ . While they speak mostly about children, their info is still relevant to adults with ADHD.

Gina Pera August 14, 2010, 6:20 PM

Thank you for bringing more, er, attention to this topic.

It’s actually not a new topic. I started an online discussion group 10 years ago for the partners of adults with ADHD, and it’s still going strong. (ADHD_Partner@yahoogroups,com)

Two years ago, my book (Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?) was published, with endorsements by many top experts, and received four national book awards.

It is considered the groundbreaking book on this topic, explaining the major indications and subtleties of Adult ADHD, its treatment strategies and the effect that, left undiagnosed or unaddressed, it has on the “partners of.”:

Gina Pera
http://www.ADHDRollerCoaster.com

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Frank Barnhill, MD September 2, 2010, 12:29 PM

This is a great topic!
However, we should also not forget that just having an ADHD child in a family predisposes the parents to marital problems and divorce. I refer to ADHD as the “family disease” as the ADHD child affects everyone around him or her, not just the parents, but brothers and sisters and grandparents.
One of the real tragedies I’ve found over the past twenty years is the mom and dad who end up with a divorce blamed on an ADHD child, when the child had really been misdiagnosed as ADHD. The 13 year-old really had an over-active thyroid causing her ADHD-hyperactivity-mood swings-talk back attitude and once corrected, her behavior returned to normal without ADHD drugs. Unfortunately, it was too late for the parents as the divorce was “too final” and their marriage could not be saved.
ADHD misdiagnosis destroys lives!!
Frank Barnhill, MD
Author “Mistaken for ADHD”
How you can prevent mislabeling your child as a failure in life in the face of a looming ADHD misdiagnosis crisis.
www.ADHDbehavior.com

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