As an ADHD husband, I can point out a few characteristics fairly common to people with ADHD that give a partial glimpse at what it’s like to have an ADHD marriage partner. My wife, Marge, who does not have ADHD, could give a first-hand account of what it’s like to be married to someone who does have ADHD!
Here is my report on my ADHD characteristics that are realities in our marriage.
First-Hand Report from an ADHD Husband
We are impulsive (and when I say “we” I mean many people with Adult ADHD in general and me in specific). We make decisions quickly and we’re ready to go. Instead of mulling things over, we like to take action.
So sometimes, we’ll just make a decision and go for it. It’s not that we don’t know that’s not always a great idea, but we don’t process that kind of thing like most people. We’re less likely to be held back. And we get impatient if others (including significant others, of course) want to mull over things. ADHDers don’t mull. So imagine what it would be like when that went on with all life decisions if you were married to an ADHDer.
2. Talks Fast
We talk fast. And we talk a lot. When we get excited about something, you’ll know it. And we don’t want to slow down, because the energy that comes from excitement makes us feel better. It’s not like getting high, but it’s possibly like non-ADHDers feel most of the time.
Many things we do because they generate neurochemicals that otherwise our systems don’t produce in adequate quantity. Someone married to an ADHDer has to either give in to the flow or, better, be able to speak up and get their share of time in conversations. As an ADHD Husband, I find this has worked in my marriage.
3. Lots of Fun
We can be a lot of fun. At first. Our constant energy can tire others out, however. What they don’t realize — nor did I before I was diagnosed last November — was that the energy we display, and that we truly have, comes from a neurological condition that rewards us when we engage in activities that get us pumped up. It’s that neurochemical thing again.
For some of us, the idea of just hanging and doing nothing is kind of scary. I think someone married to an ADHDer does best if s/he doesn’t try to force the person with ADHD to stop everything, but also finds a way to get the down time they themselves want (and need).
4. Easily Distracted
We get bored quickly and distracted easily. We like the newest shiny things — not jewelry, but any new idea or physical thing that shows up. Oh, wait, there’s a squirrel . . . . Our life is kind of like that. In fact, we refer to each other as “squirrels.”
So in a marriage, for example, thinking about an example that applied to us, we’d buy a new car, and within a month or two decide to trade it for another model. This was seldom a good move financially. That happened more than once with us. Marge was not the instigator.
Finishing tasks, projects, chores, work, and sometimes even conversations can be a challenge. Because our brains naturally cycle through several topics pretty much all the time, if we get distracted by something that takes us off task, we just go with it.
Sometimes we’ll head off to do an errand and then do several other things but never get back to the original errand, or even remember it, until we’re reminded. My wife has learned to be patient in reminding her ADHD husband of to do’s.
It’s easy for us to lose focus, especially if we’re bored. But, contrary to common perception about ADHD, it’s not that we cannot focus. We totally can focus, but it can be out of proportion to the way others focus. Sometimes it’s called “hyperfocusing.”
We crave those times when we hyperfocus because they’re exciting. Once we get started with something, if we’re really interested in it, we will keep on going and not even be aware of other things going on around us.
In kindergarten, I once read through a spelling test — and it was a small classroom. Today one would like to think something like that would be noticed. Back then ADHD didn’t exist. Of course it did, but it wasn’t recognized or understood.
So in a marriage? Someone (Marge) kindly puts reminders in my wallet and tapes them to the steering wheel. Otherwise, I’ll be lost in my thoughts while driving home, and totally forget to do specific errands.
Literally, for decades, we thought I was forgetful because I was so engrossed in whatever I was thinking about. And that’s true, I was, but it worked that way because of ADHD.
I intended to use the last half hour writing an article due for a website to which I contribute. But I took a quick look at this Facebook page and thought, “Oh, I think I’ll write about what it’s like being married to someone with ADHD.” That’s kinda how it goes.
Postscript from an ADHD Husband
P.S. I originally published this post on the AdultADHDUnplugged Facebook page. If you have, think you might have, or are in a relationship with someone who has, or you think might have Adult ADHD, please like the page and visit often.
If you wonder if you might have Adult ADHD, which is much more common than most of us ever thought, there’s a free self-assessment you can take to review with your doctor. I’m here to tell you, if you are diagnosed with Adult ADHD, the medication can definitely make a positive difference. I’m not a doctor and not medically qualified for anything, but the self-assessment tool is a great place to start, at least it was for me.