Does Your Partner Have ADD? 7 Challenges to Expect

By Leslie Rouder for

The challenges facing a person who is married to someone with untreated Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, can be difficult to navigate.

These challenges may be completely hidden to the rest of the world. No one seems to understand what you struggle with. Your spouse is such a “great guy” and may appear “together” to everyone else.

More from YourTango: The Best Love Advice On YourTango

This article attempts to address some of the predictable patterns that one may experience being married to someone with ADD and why it creates such difficulty.

Being married to someone with untreated ADD is often fraught with a predictable progressive pattern that goes from happy to confused to angry, and finally, to hopeless. How does this happen and why is this so predictable in couples whose spouses have untreated ADD?

In an attempt to answer that question let’s look at some of the patterns that typically come up in these kinds of relationships. It is important to recognize the symptoms of ADD, especially if you suspect your relationship might struggle due to this disorder.

In the beginning phase of the courtship between you and your ADD spouse, you may have been completely swept off your feet or ravished with both attention and affection, while being the primary focus of your partner’s life. His “hyperfocus” on the relationship probably felt intoxicating and romantic. But, this feeling faded over time.

When someone with ADD enters into a new romantic relationship, the initial excitement feels so stimulating to the ADD brain (which is being flooded with adrenaline and endorphins) that it causes the person to completely turn their attention to you. However, this kind of excitement diminishes over time, along with the adrenaline rush as the ADD spouse looks elsewhere for stimulation.

Of course, this is not conscious on his part, and he may not even be aware that this has happened. However, as time goes on, the non-ADD partner may experience the following seven feelings associated with his/her spouse’s need to find stimulation in places outside of the marital relationship:

1. A sense of rejection. Individuals with ADD may often be distracted and find it difficult to pay attention to their partner. This may lead you to feel neglected or it may be interpreted as disinterest on the part of your spouse.

2. Loneliness. If your partner seems disinterested in what you are saying or appears to ignore you, it would be easy to understand that one might feel lonely.

More from YourTango: How To Deal With Infidelity

3. Feeling ignored. Partners of individuals with ADD often get the feeling that all their good advice and suggestions are not taken to heart. This may cause the non – ADD partner to feel ignored, disrespected or offended.

4. Frustration. The same kinds of problems keep presenting themselves over and over again. It is difficult to understand how you can have discussions around a problem, think that you are being understood and still the same problem persists.

5. Anger. Resentment and anger become pervasive when one feels disregarded, disrespected, ignored and often alone in the relationship. Some spouses will become irate and scream at their partner, while others will shut down and block all emotions. This will leave a partner in the cold. Either way, one can see how this pattern becomes increasingly destructive.

6. Exhaustion
. As the non-ADD spouse tries to compensate for the lack of equal sharing or follow through in responsibilities, you can often feel depleted. As if no amount of effort seems to resolve these same issues that continue to plague your marriage.

Due to the inconsistency in your spouse’s ability to follow through and remember to do things, the feelings of being burdened with more of your fair share of responsibilities can create more feelings of stress.

More from YourTango: 15 Signs You’re In An Abusive Relationship

7. A sense of hopelessness. When one’s best effort to resolve these problems go nowhere, the sense of sadness and lack of hope may pervade the relationship and lead to a separation or divorce.

There is hope. With understanding and knowledge, one can transcend these feelings and find a new way of being in the relationship. Learning all you can about ADD and how it affects your partner is vital. It is important to remember that even though your partner may no longer be hyperfocused on you and your relationship, that does not mean they don’t still love you.

Since they probably aren’t even aware that your relationship has changed, they might not understand why you are always so angry and demanding. Your increasing frustration, anger and demands only further damage any chances of communication or intimacy, as your partner feels that he can never please you and that they are not enough.

They might feel unloved. Patterns of frustration and anger can be avoided when both partners understand the way the ADD symptoms are affecting your marriage. You must learn different behaviors to heal these kinds of wounds through education, communication and counseling.

For more articles and help with these kinds of issues, please visit my blog at

This article originally appeared on To ADD: 7 Difficulties To Expect.


Siti R.
Siti R4 years ago

what if the adult keep the condition under wraps or in denial? very interesting.. wonder how my girlfriend feels if she reads this.

marc horton
marc horton4 years ago

there is hope and help,grreat.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson4 years ago

This is an awful case where the partner with ADD needs treatment, but the other partner may need a lot of extra support to cope, too.

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson4 years ago

This is a very serious business. Both partners need to get help. One to address the ailment and the other to get support in coping.

Jennifer G.
Jennifer G4 years ago

Yup, this is exactly what I have been going through with my husband (undiagnosed ADD) for almost 19 years. At least he finally admitted a few years back that he fit the diagnosis after denying it for so long.

Leslie Rouder
Leslie Rouder4 years ago

Thanks to you all for your comments and thoughts. Having ADD myself, I am aware of the many challenges and gifts that go along with having this diagnosis. There are many ways to be in relationship with all kinds of people with all kinds of "clusters of symptoms", regardless of what we call it. The more we understand each other, the easier it is to relate to each other in ways that serve our highest good. To this end, I hope the article helped.

Denise Morley
Denise Morley4 years ago


Nancy Black
Nancy Black4 years ago

My partner isn't, but my daughter is. ADHD people have a lot of charm, but they can wear one out; it's their intensity. The Good thing is they feel strongly; the bad thing is they feel strongly. Regardless, love my daughter, and I am sure that there are aspects of my personality that make people want to climb walls also.

Ana Marija Rumbak
ANA MARIJA R4 years ago

Thank you.