If your spouse has ADHD, perhaps you’re thinking:
“I don’t believe him anymore – I don’t I don’t trust him,” “I don’t recognize myself – I’ve become a nag,” “I’m tired of being the responsible adult – I feel like I have an extra child!”
If you have ADHD who and your spouse does not, maybe you’re thinking: “Nothing I do is ever good enough,” “I work so hard, am unappreciated,” “Can’t he/she lighten up?”
Maybe you’re both thinking: “I feel like I live alone, my spouse doesn’t pay attention to me anymore.” “What happened to the person I married?”
According to Melissa Orlov, author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage (2010) http://www.adhdmarriage.com/content/melissa-orlov the relationship with an ADHD spouse is defined by negative patterns of interaction that threaten the survival of their relationship. Pent-up anger over the years leads to disappointment and decreased satisfaction, as communication dissolves into a poisonous exchange of accusations. These are the Gottman’s “Four Horsemen”.
Marital therapy researcher John Gottman, PhD, asserts that the prospects for sustaining a successful relationship is diminished in the presence of the “4 horsemen” – patterns negative communication: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling. These can occur when the spouse with ADHD is in denial about the source of his or her difficulties and refuses treatment.
According to Dr. Arthur Robin and Eleanour Paysan in a study on the effect of ADHD on marriage, http://www.adders.org/partners1.pdf, the following negative symptoms most affect how each of the partners sees the other one:
- Lack of attentiveness
- Difficulties with memory
- Unfiltered criticism
- Low frustration tolerance
- Mood instability
- Difficulty with initiating and completing tasks
- Lack of organization
- Temper tantrums
As a coaching psychologist who specializes in ADHD, I understand the unique challenges ADHD couples face. I focus on changing perceptions, clearing resentment, and restructuring routines. The coaching process allows for the creation of a more balanced relationship, and a positive and resilient mindset.