In any relationship it's not always the ADHD person's fault

Mar 13, 2020

I work with many ADHD adults who have wonderful marriages / relationships. But I also work with many ADHD adults who have significant relationship struggles. It is well established that ADHD can make things difficult in any partnership, especially a romantic one. Here are a few of the highlights of how your ADHD can lead your relationship down a challenging path.

  • ADHDers often hyperfocus on new "shiny" relationship and set an unrealistic bar for excitement and novelty that can't be sustained for the life of a relationship.
  • Being an executive function disaster certainly has consequences when we're single. But when our lateness, disorganization, forgetfulness, poor time management effect our partner, it's not just our problem anymore. 
  • The more people are involved, the more complex a system is created. You, your partner (who both work,) and two or three kids is a lot of responsibility. If one partner feels like they are shouldering significantly more than half of that responsibility it will likely lead to resentment. 
  • Often ADHDers unintentionally select a partner who compensates for their weaknesses. For example, someone who is super structured and organized and runs their life like the german train system down to the minute. This usually works for a while but often deteriorates into a parent/child dynamic or learned helplessness. If the ADHD partner isn't expect to be organized, they will never learn. And that can become a burden for the non-ADHD partner. 
  • The same dynamic can often lead to resentment for the ADHD partner too. Who wants their wife to nag them just their mom did for 18 years? 
  • Lack of attentiveness in interpersonal interactions, if consistent, can make the not ADHD partner feel unheard, unappreciated, and unvalued. 
Alright, so we've established that it can be a challenge to me married to an ADHD adult. But, if you always assume that every problem that your marriage has is about the ADHD partner and their ADHD, you might be barkin up the wrong tree. As I said, a marriage is a complex system. Problems are, more often than not, more than the "fault" of one person. The neurotypical person needs to have realistic expectation for the ADHD partner. 

What I see a lot in my practice are ADHD partners who work really hard to address their weaknesses. And, in some cases, whatever they do doesn't seem to be enough for their partner. Often this is because the partner has decided that all the problems are about the ADHD and aren't willing to look at themselves and consider that they contribute to some of the relationship struggles. The things I see most often are anxiety, depression, and control issues with the non-ADHD partners. Perhaps people who run like the German train system are doing it because they are anxious or are perfectionists. 

Anyway, my point is that when a relationship is challenged or even broken, it's often not just one person's fault. Keep working on your ADHD issues, but don't assume everything is your fault.



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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