Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, undoubtedly affects our closest relationships, especially in marriage. When one partner has ADHD and the other doesn’t, it can cause misunderstandings and conflict.

Melissa Orlov shares some of the top challenges and solutions in her award-winning book “The ADHD Effect on Marriage.”

Couples may not even know that one (or both) of them have ADHD so misinterpret ADHD symptoms as their partner’s feelings toward them. The non-ADHD partner may mistakenly come to the conclusion that their spouse doesn’t love them anymore.

Symptoms such as forgetfulness or distractability can evoke a reaction from the non-ADHD partner and start a negative cycle. The ADHD partner doesn’t pay attention to their spouse; the non-ADHD partner feels ignored and reacts with frustration; then the ADHD partner reacts with anger.

If the ADHD partner’s symptoms aren’t under control enough to be reliable, the non-ADHD partner starts taking on more and more responsibility. They become stressed and resentful for being the “responsible one” in the relationship. Over time, they assume the role of parent and the ADHD partner becomes the child.

Now for the GOOD NEWS … solutions are available!

Get educated. When you know your partner’s lack of attention is the result of ADHD and has little to do with you, you’re more likely to not take it personally and deal with it differently. Instead of feeling hurt or angry, you might brainstorm strategies to minimize the symptoms that are impacting your life together.

Seek treatment. Orlov refers to treatment for ADHD to a three-legged stool. Leg 1 involves making physical changes to balance out the brain, including medication, aerobic exercise and sufficient sleep. Leg 2 is focused on making behavior changes and creating new habits. Leg 3 is interactions with your partner, such as scheduling time together and using cues to stop fights from escalating.

Set up structure. It’s important to choose simple organizing systems that work for the ADHD partner. Break down projects into small actionable steps and set regular cell phone reminders. Working with a professional organizer who understands ADHD and has the skills/training can make a difference.

Seek Support. Orlov suggests attending adult support groups. It’s helpful to realize you’re not alone in your struggles and can learn strategies from others who truly understand the challenges.

Don’t try harder, try differently. Orlov encourages the non-ADHD partner to shift their thinking to “neither of us is to blame and we’re both responsible for creating change.” A better way to think is “I am never my spouse’s keeper. We will respectfully negotiate how we can each contribute.”  People with ADHD can feel unloved/unappreciated so are encouraged to alter their perspective to “I am loved/lovable, but some of my ADHD symptoms are not. I am responsible for managing my negative symptoms.”

Finally, here are some natural over the counter Adderall alternatives that may be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms so  your marriage can thrive!

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