When a Spouse has ADHD

Couple Having Arguement At HomeWhat happens to kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when they grow up?  Like most adults, they get married, or live with a partner.  The partner with ADHD may have many good qualities, including spontaneity, creativity, energy, and compassion.  But when it comes to working together smoothly to run a household, the ADHD symptoms of disorganization, distractibility, poor impulse control and difficulty following through may lead to chronic resentment, anger, arguing and distress for both partners.

If you or your partner has (or may have) ADHD, you may have struggled with these and other difficulties in your marriage.  If so, you may want to check out the website www.adhdmarriage.com, a website created by Dr. Melissa Orlov and Dr. Ned Hallowell, who specialize in helping the “ADHD Couple.”  This website contains many useful suggestions and resources for both of you.  Dr. Orlov also has created an advice column called “May I Have Your Attention,” where she focuses on help for couples in an “ADHD-Impacted” relationship.

Dr. Orlov recommends setting personal goals for changes that would improve the marriage.  For example, “Spend more time with my wife.”  Then list specific steps you can take toward that goal, for example, “Set alarm clock to 9:30 p.m. to help me remember to go to bed with her.”  Then after trying a step, go back and evaluate whether it worked, and figure out ways to make it work better.

Another online resource that may be helpful for the ADHD couple – or any couple – is a calendar that helps families create and stick to schedules.  It’s called Cozi Family Calendar, a free resource for couples and families.

If you or your partner has ADHD, you or they may already be in treatment with a psychiatrist or other doctor.  Medications can often help with focus and brain function.  In addition, Dr. Orlov offers the following suggestions:

Exercise: Try to exercise vigorously at least 4 times a week.

Diet: Try to reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Try to eat protein at each meal.

Supplements: Try fish oil capsules, up to 2,000 mg a day.  Also talk to your doctor about taking Vitamin D supplements to improve brain function.

Sleep: Try to keep a regular schedule with a goal of 8 hours a night.

Memory training: For example, you may want to look into the program Cogmed.  Professionals trained in this program can help people learn to improve their working memory, which is key in developing better focus and concentration.  An inexpensive online program which can help working memory as well as other aspects of brain function is Lumosity.com.

Neurofeedback, or brain biofeedback, is a non-invasive technology for training the brain to focus and improve impulse control.  This is a relatively new field, but there are several ways practioners can become certified to work with this modality.  One way to learn more, and to find a local practitioner, is through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance.

The ADHD marriage, like any other, can be improved with better communication skills and other tools for improved emotional connection. At Psych Choices of the Delaware Valley, we have psychiatrists who can prescribe medications, as well as 14 therapists, many of whom specialize in working with couples.   To make an appointment, use our Make an Appointment Page or call our Intake coordinator at 610-626-8085, extension 213.


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