10 ADD Behaviors That Could Be Hurting Your Marriage

Couple fighting
Mixmike / Getty Images

There are times when an adult is diagnosed with ADD or ADHD only after their child is diagnosed. In these cases, it is often after their child's diagnosis that light bulbs go off in their spouse's head as behaviors that hurt and sabotage their marriage are recognized as symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and not a lack of caring or motivation.

Even with this awareness, the presence of ADHD in a marriage can lead to unhealthy responses along with feelings of being overwhelmed and resentful. If the spouse with ADHD is in denial or uses the diagnosis as an excuse for continuing harmful behaviors, it can drive their spouse to their wits' end.

Experts say many adults with attention disorders struggle at home, where their tendency to become distracted is a constant source of conflict. Some research suggests that these adults are twice as likely to be divorced; another study found high levels of distress in 60% of marriages where one spouse had the disorder.

Impact of ADD/ADHD Behaviors

Some typical ADD/ADHD behaviors can have a detrimental impact on a marriage, including the following.

Inattention and Lack of Follow-Through

When it comes to household chores, your spouse may seem disorganized and inattentive to household maintenance. However, failing to follow through on chores is often secondary to inattentiveness, not due to ill will or a conscious attempt to avoid sharing in household labor.


Your spouse interrupts you and others a great deal to the point where you think what's the point in trying to have a conversation and you are embarrassed by the apparent rudeness towards your friends and family members.


When your spouse is inattentive, easily distracted, or impulsive, you feel like climbing a wall and disappearing.


You dislike yourself for nagging, but you don't know what else to do to get your disorganized spouse to finish anything, or put anything away, or keep promises, etc.

Financial Problems

Your financial situation is precarious because your spouse is not good at handling money, overspends, forgets to pay bills, can't keep a job, and/or won't talk about money problems with you.

Taking a Parental Role

You often feel more like a parent than an equal partner to your spouse. You find yourself reminding your forgetful spouse about taking medications, meeting appointments, remembering birthdays, completing projects, etc.

Low-Sex Marriage

Your sexual relationship is less than either of you would like it to be.

Difficulty Making Decisions

Making decisions or talking about difficult issues with your spouse is nearly impossible.

Being Ignored

As your spouse retreats into a computer game or other project, you may feel ignored or think that your marriage is in a rut, but your spouse doesn't see your marriage in the same way.


Walking on eggshells around your spouse is the only way you find you can keep the peace in your marriage.

While these are not all the actions and behaviors associated with ADHD that can hurt a marriage, they are classic examples. Even though your marriage may be challenged by these behaviors, with proper diagnosis, treatment, and a willingness of both of you to create positive coping strategies, you can have a successful and joyful marriage.

Book Recommendations

If the above description sounds like your relationship, you may benefit from reading up on the topic. Here are some book recommendations:

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ben-Naim, S, Maron, I, Krashin, M, Gifter, B, Arad, K. Life with a partner with ADHD: The moderating role of intimacy. J Child Fam Stud. 2017; 26:1365-1373. doi:10.1007/s10826-016-0653-9

  2. Bouchard G, Saint-Aubin J. Attention deficits and divorce. Can J Psychiatry. 2014;59(9):480-6. doi:10.1177/070674371405900904

  3. Eakin L, Minde K, Hechtman L, et al. The marital and family functioning of adults with ADHD and their spouses. J Atten Disord. 2004;8(1):1-10. doi:10.1177/108705470400800101

  4. Das D, Cherbuin N, Butterworth P, Anstey KJ, Easteal S. A population-based study of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and associated impairment in middle-aged adults. PLOS ONE. 2012; 7(2): e31500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031500

By Sheri Stritof
Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book.