Adults with attention disorders can be passionate, creative partners who keep things unpredictable and exciting in a relationship. Yet adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder “A.D.H.D.” are twice as likely to end up in divorce court or in dead-end dating ruts.
The problems can outweigh the passion and pleasure of living with someone with Attention Disorders, unless you learn how to manage A.D.D. symptoms and love by design. Discover the symptoms that break up relationships in Part 1 of my discussion with Melissa Orlov, a marriage consultant and author of The A.D.H.D. Effect On Marriage.
Why are relationships a constant struggle if you or your partner have Attention Deficit Disorders?
The biggest reason is that most couples don’t know the attention disorders are there. They are clueless about the cause of their relationship distress, because most adults grew up in the years before their symptoms were being diagnosed or treated.
Until recently, experts believed A.D.H.D. was a childhood issue. Now they’ve discovered that 80 percent of children who have attention disorders don’t outgrow it. They take their symptoms into adulthood and relationships.
What are some symptoms of A.D.H.D. in adult relationships?
The partner with attention problems may seem distracted, disorganized and forgetful.
They may accept little responsibility for doing chores, supporting or caring for the family, which can make their partner feel and act like a parent to their irresponsible mate.
They can be perceived as selfish because they rarely listen, and this makes their partner feel unloved and unappreciated.
Many adults with attention hyperactivity disorders also get bored easily. They crave constant action and stimulation, which makes them more vulnerable to the excitement of sexual affairs.
Isn’t infidelity a big reason for the high divorce rate among A.D.H.D. couples?
The hyperactivity component often leads to impulsive choices like having affairs to counteract sexual boredom. Even without hyperactivity, the other symptoms of A.D.D can lead to divorce if the attention problem is neither diagnosed nor treated.
If attention problems are stressing a relationship, how do you get an evaluation and diagnosis?
Seeing a psychiatrist is your best choice because they are most familiar with this disorder. They also can prescribe drugs to correct a dopamine deficiency in the brain, which causes attention problems. Medical doctors also can diagnose and prescribe drugs to treat symptoms of A.D.H.D.
Are you aware of safer treatments that don’t require you to take prescription amphetamines to improve focus in adults or children?
Taking fish oil and getting plenty of exercise have been proven to ease symptoms.
Isn’t it also smart to limit sugar intake, since sugar overload can cause symptoms of A.D.H.D.?
Limiting sugar can prevent sugar highs and sugar lows, which can make you more distracted. Because dopamine levels, not diet, cause this disorder, fixing the diet only causes minor improvement. You still need prescription drugs to raise dopamine in the brain to normal levels and relieve symptoms.
There are terrible side effects of not treating this disorder, including very low self esteem, failure in school or at work, inability to organize your life or create happy relationships.
You have revealed publicly that your husband was diagnosed with A.D.H.D several years ago. How did this impact your marriage?
After 6 or 7 years of being miserable, we had become a dysfunctional couple on the verge of divorce in the typical progression that many A.D.H.D couples follow:
We had started out with a hyper-focused courtship filled with passion and excitement. When dopamine levels of initial infatuation dropped off, he went back to being distracted. I thought I’d done something wrong or he didn’t love me any more.
Then I started nagging him and telling him what to do as if I were his parent. This ruined sexual attraction and caused high levels of anger, resentment and frustration in each of us.
We each had felt unloved and unappreciated for years. We each had an affair, not impulsively but because of a deep need to feel loved in ways that we were lacking in our marriage.
How did your marriage survive?
I stopped trying to change my husband and treating him like a child. Then he responded well to assuming adult responsibilities. We learned to use coping skills which improved the way we each behaved in our relationship.
What are some coping skills that improve an A.D.H.D. marriage? You’ll find out in Part Two of our series, where you’ll also discover some delights of living and loving with A.D.H.D.
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