Married to a Spouse with ADHD?

People who are married to a spouse with ADHD often feel like they have another child to take care of.  This can be really frustrating.  It’s also frustrating for the husband who always feels like he screws things up.

One of the frustrating things about living with someone with ADHD is that they have poor follow through.  This often happens even when they promise to get something done.  They also forget things easily due to mental distraction (being distracted by internal thoughts).   You may ask him to run an errand to the store and he comes back without one of the items you asked for, or perhaps the right item but the wrong brand or size.  You feel like if you want something done, you have to do it yourself because you can’t count on him.  

ADHD people often seem not to listen.  You have the same conversation about an important topic you just had two days ago.  It seems like he doesn’t bother to listen but is willing to waste your time asking you to tell him one more time.  They also act impulsively so they do or say things that at least one of you regret.  

What It’s Like to Have ADHD

Most people who suffer with ADHD spend a lot of time beating themselves up.  They grow up with the reality of making lost of mistakes, forgetting or losing lots of things and being told thousands of times throughout their lives to pay attention, just apply yourself, try harder, etc.  They don’t like making these mistakes.  It bothers them a lot when they happen.  It’s frustrating when you know you do this all the time and you still can’t stop it. People with ADHD often get really annoyed with themselves.  They get tired of being the person who always screws things up  when everyone around them seems to have it together.  When they forget to do something they promised you they would take care of, they feel bad about it and mentally beat themselves up for making yet another stupid mistake.

 Spouses with ADHD are often mild mannered when dealing with their spouse.  They are often very forgiving of your mistakes because God knows they’ve made their fair share.  However, they often get sick of being the person who can’t seem to get it right and always has to apologize for their mistakes.  They can get overly defensive about it too.  This is sometimes the reason they get angry or defensive when you bring up something they forgot, or didn’t do correctly.  Making these mistakes makes them feel foolish and they just get tired of it.  It’s hard to yet again have to face up to another mistake, even if it’s a minor one.

The Upside of Having a Spouse with ADHD

People with ADHD perform better when they remind themselves of what they’re good at.  They do better in relationships with those who can keep in mind the positive things they bring to the table and downplay their faults.  People with ADHD are often charismatic, creative, fun, spontaneous, and energetic.  They can make even mundane things  like chores more fun.  They can make vacations more exciting.  Spouses with ADHD can get you to try new things that you wouldn’t have done on your own.  They introduce you to ideas you hadn’t thought of.  They can be great entrepreneurs and are generally bigger picture thinkers rather than detail oriented.

Being married to a spouse with ADHD can be quite a challenge.  It can also be quite an adventure if you approach the relationship with the right attitude so you can accept that the ADHD will cause them to forget a lot of things, act impulsive, or be in their own world part of the time.   If you are the one who has ADHD, it helps to learn how to manage the negative side of it as best you can so your partner feels confident you are doing your part and being a true partner.

To learn more about how to make you ADHD relationship work, counseling can help.  For information about how to get started, feel free to get in touch.

Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan.  He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and adults.  He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems.  For more information, please visit the website at