After the Honeymoon: ADHD and Marriage
From Charm Offensive to Distracted Defensive
A startling thing happens after getting married to those affected by ADHD. They change.
Let’s say it is the man who has the ADHD, which is statistically more likely. He will be Prince Charming during the courtship period, every woman’s dream. They will do exciting things together. He will be attentive. He is in hunter mode. The ADHD affected person is very stimulated during this part of the relationship. People affected by ADHD like novelty so a new person in their life and a developing relationship is exciting. The unknown makes it attractive.
The ADHD man proposes, the couple marry and things begin to change. That charm offensive that swept the woman away begins to disappear and starts being replaced by someone easily distracted; someone getting wrapped up in new things and ideas; getting distracted for long periods of time on the computer for instance.
This husband can forget things that he is told. He is often late for their commitments. He is impulsive. He may even have difficulty holding down a job.
These things were not apparent when they were courting. How can that be?
People affected by ADHD can be adrenalin junkies. Once they have climbed Mt. Everest the high is over. It is not that they were being inauthentic prior to marriage. The charmer is a part of them but not the whole of them. It is the stimulated part of them. Once settled into marriage it is hard to keep that high going every day in regards to your spouse. Other parts of you appear.
This can be incredibly shocking for the nonADHD spouse. She thought she was marrying one man just to discover, in her mind, she got another. She is dismayed. Feels rejected. The level of attention she has been used to is gone.
What is it she has done wrong? How can she fix it?
Here real work of the marriage comes in. The couple will need to work hard together to keep their marriage stimulating. Additionally, they each will have to adjust to this new reality. For example: she will have to learn it is not personal when he is distracted and he will have to learn to be sensitive to her needs for him to be fully present when they are talking. It will take vigilance on both their parts but improvement is possible.
ADHD and Marriage is hard but it is also possible and rewarding.
Abigail Wurf, M.Ed, CLC
ADHD and Executive Functions Coach
Abigail Wurf works with adults, couples and parents affected by ADHD or executive function issues (see definition below) in a coaching and/or consulting capacities. Her clientele also includes college and graduate students struggling to make it through their programs.
She conducts workshops and speaking presentations on executive function issues such as productivity, planning, prioritizing, goal setting, time management, task initiation, emotional regulation, focus, meta-cognition, working memory, self inhibition and flexibility/shift.
Abigail’s work also includes presentations on ADHD, specific executive functions or theories of executive functions, invisible disabilities, resiliency and motivation.