Adult ADHD, its Effects on Marriage and Tips to Cope

Typically, it’s not difficult to spot a child with ADHD, (especially if they are hyperactive), but adults with ADHD tend to have more subtle symptoms.

As a result, many adults are struggling with ADHD and may not know they have it. Some of the subtle symptoms they face include disorganization, tardiness or restlessness. More significant issues include reckless driving, anger outbursts and marital trouble.

Many people with ADHD have marital issues. Often, a spouse of an ADHD person will view his/her partner’s poor listening skills as a sign that the partner doesn’t care. The person with ADHD may feel nagged or at fault.

Here are some common marital problems:

1. Division of Labor
The non ADHD spouses may feel as though they do all the cleaning, planning, organizing, reminding, and putting away.
2. Time Management
The ADHD spouse will show up late for almost everything, unless reminded often about deadlines and meeting times.
3. Broken Promises
The ADHD spouse may be very forgetful.
4. Finances
The ADHD spouse may spend too much money, forget to record purchases or keep poor records.
5. Wild Dreams
The ADHD spouse tends to come up with extravagant ideas, yet seldom follows through.
6. Relationship Hierarchy
The non-ADHD spouse may feel put into a parent role rather than a partner to the ADHD spouse.
7. Lonely
The non ADHD spouse may feel like they have to ask their spouse to pay attention to them.

Seeking marriage counseling can help couples let go of judgment and blame, and work on understanding ADHD and its effects on the marriage.

Living with Adult ADHD can prove challenging not only for the person with ADHD but for their partners as well. Adults with ADHD have issues with tardiness and completing tasks in a timely manner. The constant rushing around can lead to a number of unnecessary arguments and a great deal of anxiety.

Below are some tips you can offer couples who are trying to live with and manage ADHD.

1. Calendar
Post a family calendar in your home and/or have a shared calendar on your phones. List all appointments, social engagements, family events, etc. Check it together often and preferably at a set time daily.
2. Time Management
Allow longer than you think you’ll need to get to appointments. By reducing the rushing around, the anger outbursts (and speeding tickets) should decrease.
3. Chunking
Break down projects into small tasks and set deadlines for each task. This approach  will decrease procrastination. Plans of action help reduce the anxiety associated with ADHD.
5. Analyze
Discuss what worked and didn’t work for the week to help plan for future situations. Making adjustments together, as needed, promotes the partnership aspect of the relationship.

Husband ignoring wife photo available from Shutterstock

Adult ADHD, its Effects on Marriage and Tips to Cope

Staci Lee Schnell, M.S., C.S.,LMFT

Staci Lee Schnell earned a master of science degree in Family Therapy as well as a clinical specialist degree in Family Systems Health Care. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Staci is the clinical director and president of the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida


APA Reference
Schnell, S. (2015). Adult ADHD, its Effects on Marriage and Tips to Cope. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Nov 2015
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