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Communicating with an ADD Spouse

Updated on September 13, 2011
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Looking for the Rainbow in the Marriage
Looking for the Rainbow in the Marriage | Source

Communication with anyone can be a problem. There has to be at least two people involved in a communication which means there is a huge chance that something will be communicated wrong. It happens in the workplace, families, communities, and as everyone knows in the public realm. Communication gets worse when at least one of the people involved has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Being married to that person makes the communication much worse.

What is ADD?

Attention Deficit Disorder cannot really be summed up in a short sentence. If you had to, it could be described as not being able to stay on task or to keep one’s attention on what is important. Mothers and wives are all jumping up screaming that they experience it every day. Many might be right. Sorry for the rest. It’s because their children and men.

ADD can be seen in the person constantly losing everything. They can’t seem to stay on task for more than a few minutes at a time. Projects are always being left undone. Scatterbrained, lazy, and drifter are just a few of the words described by others when they experience someone with ADD.

For years after it was identified, only children had their ADD addressed. Those that had grown to adulthood were ignored. The sad story is that as most grew up, their ADD was forgotten. Adults continued to suffer with no hope. Slowly, this is being reversed but there is one area of their life being ignored that the ADD is causing severe damage – Marriage.

The Stresses of ADD in a Marriage

Marriage can be stressful all by itself. There are so many factors involved. Throw ADD in the mix and you have the recipe for a mental breakdown or divorce. Though said slightly in joke, this has happened too often with couples especially when ADD is not understood.

Remember the characteristics of someone with ADD. They are absent minded. They don’t appear to listen to you. They quickly forget things. Their priorities seem to be mixed up. You end up holding the bag on engagements, bills, and so many other things.

When you put that all into a marriage, it adds more stress than normally would be there. They forget to pick the kids up. They forgot to tell you that the boss called and needed you to call back. You need to talk to them about the finances and they prefer to watch the ballgame as they nod to you absently. You ask that they drop off the bill for the electricity. When you’re cut off, you plan his/her murder.

You begin to find yourself holding the bag on everything. You have to take care of your own responsibilities as well as the children and the spouse that you feel like you’re the parent of. You married an adult but you feel like you’re raising a child.

Most of it all comes down to communication. If only the ADD spouse would communicate better, the marriage wouldn’t be so rocky. So what do you do? How can you get your spouse to communicate with you and prevent many of the problems that you’re experiencing.

Methods of Communication to Try

You can’t make your ADD spouse listen to you overnight. They have to first recognize that they have ADD. That can be rather difficult. Once recognized, they need to seek help preferably from a therapist that is trained in working with those with ADD.

But you still have a marriage to work with. What do you do? Here are a few tips that might work for you.

Remove Distractions – If you want someone’s attention, you want to remove all distractions. If the television keeps your spouse from listening to you, turn it off, unplug it, or cover it up if you can’t move it out of the room. When they ask in shock what has happened, explain to them that you need their undivided attention for a while. This might emphasis to them how important it is to you.

Put Reminders Everywhere – If you want your spouse to remember that little Johnnie needs to be picked up after school, put reminders everywhere. You can put them on the bathroom mirror, in the briefcase, on the steering wheel, text messages, emails, voice mails, and anywhere else you can imagine. Telling them in the morning before work gives them too many hours to get distracted.

Repeat Yourself – You might not like repeating yourself, but it is a good way to get them to remember. Tell them to take out the trash and remind them again in an hour after they got into watching a show or surfing the internet.

These are just a few ways to communicate with your ADD spouse. There are so many others and it can all depend on who they are.

Keep in mind that in trying to communicate, you might find that you have more problems.

Resolving Issues

Anger – Anger could very well be a common reaction to attempts to communicate. Why? Because they feel like they are being treated like a child. You feel like you’re treating them like a child. Do you have a choice? If you don’t have your spouse in treatment, this reaction will be very common. They don’t want their own spouse diagnosing them or treating them. If you’re doing what the therapist said, they might not like your involvement.

Denial – Denial is a big problem with those having ADD. If they won’t recognize the problem, then they will balk at your attempts to communicate and even get angry.

The best way to resolve these problems is to see counseling. Anyone with ADD needs therapy to learn how to deal with it and how to overcome it.

You could start out with a simple ADD book where it gives examples of couples struggling with and a list of ADD characteristics. That just might be the ticket to getting them to recognize the disorder. Then talk to your doctor about therapists that specialize in adult ADD. They are not that common compared to those that deal with children, but keep looking. They’re out there and can help.

As said in the beginning, communication can be a problem with anyone. Throw ADD in the mix and you’ve created a communication nightmare. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Try various ways to communicate and then see if you can get your spouse to seek counseling. You might want a counselor that works with couples so that you’re both on the same page.


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      Diana Geiger 6 years ago

      Having dealt with my ADD children, one who is now an adult with ADD, I couldn't agree more. But, once these ADD adults get married, financially they struggle. How can they afford specialty therapists? I watch another marriage combust as my daughter and her husband (both ADD)are constantly in the tornado that is ADD.