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Does Adult ADHD Necessarily Lead to Divorce?

by Norris Law Group on January 17, 2014

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can have an extremely negative impact on marriages for couples if one or both partners suffer from the condition.  The absence of a clear diagnosis may mean that couples remain frustrated for years without knowing why the patterns caused by ADHD symptoms are affecting their marriage.   Anger, anxiety, frustration, financial problems and trust issues are tremendously difficult to deal with for couples who are not aware that ADHD may be the cause.  Consequently, couples with undiagnosed ADHD may lose hope of ever having a happy marriage.

Melissa Orlov, author of The ADHD Effect on Divorce, writes in Psychology Today that this may make it seem as though ADHD causes divorce.  But this is not the case. While undiagnosed ADHD can be a terrible problem in a marriage, ADHD is one of the most manageable mental health issues there is once properly diagnosed.  Research suggests that about 70%–and perhaps more—of adults with ADHD find relief by simply taking medication, and about 50% can “normalize” their behaviors.

Managing ADHD in a relationship typically involves three steps:

  1. Diagnosis and treatment;
  2. Accepting that ADHD has an impact in your relationship; and
  3. Learning and implementing tactics that work for couples with ADHD

Diagnosis is a critical first step. But the second step of acceptance is often the key factor rebuilding the relationship.  Furthermore, non-ADHD partners need to understand “the ADHD Effect” and realize that although they may not have the disorder, their behavior and reactions are important to the relationship as well.

If either partner denies either the presence of ADHD, or the importance of non-ADHD responses to ADHD behaviors, the relationship will likely fail.  ADHD is manageable but not “curable.”  Couples must develop appropriate interactions in order to be able to live with ADHD.  If the ADHD partner doesn’t improve his or her behaviors (including, but not necessarily limited to distraction, difficulty making plans, following through on tasks, and memory problems), the disorder will continue to plague the relationship.  If the non-ADHD partner doesn’t manage any resentment, controlling behaviors, anger and other common responses, then the relationship will almost certainly not be salvaged.

Denial—rather than ADHD—can lead to divorce.  If you suspect that you or your partner might suffer from undiagnosed ADHD, get a professional evaluation. Learning about “the ADHD Effect” and what to do about it can lead to a renewal of your relationship.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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