Characteristics of Adult ADD
Individuals with ADD are more prone to being disorganized, easily distracted, forgetful, irresponsible, and often communicate poorly or over-react emotionally. Due to these deficits in functioning, control, and processing, such behaviors can bring about negative – and even blameful – accusations from the partner without ADHD when neither partner has a context in which to understand these characteristics.
Often times, the partner without ADD interprets the emotional outbursts, poor communication, and failure to carry out commitments as evidence that the partner with ADD does not love them the way they claim to. Likewise, the adult with undiagnosed ADD does not clearly recognize the dynamic of what is going on in the relationship and externalizes blame on their partner to protect their self-esteem. Either way, both partners can wind up drawing negative conclusions about each other’s motives and behaviors, which can fuel endless arguments – and even fights – about negative patterns of communication and ineffective methods of conflict resolution. These conflicts can eventually lead to a threatening of, and perhaps eventual termination of, the marriage or partnership.
How Adult ADHD Affects Marriages
Undiagnosed adult ADD can greatly affect both partners in a relationship. Conflict is not unusual in marriage, and resolving it can even be productive for partnerships. However, when one partner has undiagnosed ADD, the discord can be overwhelming for both parties.
Adult ADHD Affects Families
Adding the additional responsibilities of running a household and raising a child can further exacerbate the already difficult relationship environment, ultimately overwhelming the adult with ADD beyond their capacity to maintain homeostasis.
ADD behaviors with the greatest impact on relationships:
• Lack of attention during conversations
• Says things without thinking
• Difficulty getting started on a task
• Difficulty finished tasks once started
• Underestimates time needed to complete a task
• Leaves things in a messy, disordered state
• Problems dealing with frustration
• Doesn’t remember being told things
Treating Adult ADD
But there is hope. By working with a licensed therapist, psychologist, or mental health professional, the adult with ADD can receive a diagnosis of the condition and begin understanding the effects of their ADD on their life and relationship. Additionally, by learning tools to help them manage their ADD the person can drastically improve their relationship and significantly improve their overall quality of life. Marital/couples therapy may also be helpful to assist both parties with understand the effects of adult ADHD and build communication skills tailored to their unique relationship.