You, Me & ADHD: ADHD Relationship Support


Much is being written online about ADHD relationships but few offer in-depth support and knowledge. That’s where this blog-post series is different.

Welcome to the first post in the You, Me, and ADHD relationship discussion group.

It’s virtual—and always open. It’s a series of  first-person essays, followed by reader comments, based on my first book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

My friend, Taylor J, writes about her personal reactions to each chapter.  Taylor has a multi-angled perspective on ADHD relationships:

  1. She has late-diagnosis ADHD
  2. Her husband also has late-diagnosis
  3. Likely all four of her children have ADHD, too
  4. Her parents and at least one siblings have ADHD.

After she shares her own reactions to each chapter, Taylor invites you to join in by offering some discussion points. I hope you will participate—both to receive ADHD relationship support for yourself and to educate the public on these issues.

For one chapter, Jaclyn Paul, of The ADHD Homestead, wrote a personal essay drawing from her own experience.

There are 22 posts in all (not every chapter has an essay here). Consider them your first step in gaining support for your ADHD relationship.

By Taylor J.

We begin with an excerpt from the Introduction of Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? (the “I” here is Gina):

I wish I’d had this book 10 years ago, when the world was metaphorically knocking me upside the head, teaching me to pay attention to that human organ called the brain. Teaching me to view the brain, in fact, as an organ, vital to our every physical and emotional function yet oh so vulnerable.

At the time, my 84-year-old mother was slipping tragically into an Alzheimer’s-like stroke dementia—recognizing me as her “great friend” but not her seventh and youngest child. It broke my heart. But if her memory had remained intact, it would have broken her heart to see her oldest child and my brother, then age 60, rapidly succumbing to brain cancer.

Amidst these family dramas, I met my future husband. Over dinner one evening, this newly minted scientist, fresh from completing his doctoral degree at a neurological institute, sprang this unsettling idea on me: Everything we think, do, or feel happens due to chemical reactions in the brain.

The book’s introduction sets us up for a drastic world-view change. That is, we can link behavior  to biology on a level we’d never fathomed. Brain chemistry, diseases, and mental illness can drastically shape or alter a person’s behavior.

You Mean Behavior Is Biology? Yikes!

Gina acknowledges how uncomfortable that idea is for many of us:

I shuddered, alarmed at the thought of reducing the seat of the self, the seat of the soul, to a chemistry-lab experiment.

The experience, however, of watching a brain condition so drastically change first her mother and then her oldest brother left her open to a new possibility—that there’s more to our actions than our intentions, morals, and value systems. The brain is an organ, and organs can become sick or otherwise malfunction.

[advertising; not endorsement] [advertising; not endorsement]

Alzheimer’s (most likely stroke dementia) meant Gina’s mother could no longer recognize Gina as her youngest daughter. Was this something her mother could control? Of course not.

Honestly, before discovering that both my husband and I had ADHD, brain chemistry never would have crossed my mind.

It never occurred to me that the problems in our marriage were anything but my fault, and something I should be able to control by my own willpower. After all, I

  • Was disorganized
  • Never followed through on commitments
  • Jumped from project to project
  • Needed reminders to do basic things—like showering and brushing my teeth


Meet Dr. Math

My husband, on the other hand, was brilliant. He’s has a Ph.D. in math. He writes flowing poetry, plays guitar, can imitate Sean Connery flawlessly, and sings Italian arias in a deep, baritone voice. If he didn’t pay attention to my needs (more about that in future posts) then obviously I didn’t deserve it.

When I discovered and started addressing my own ADHD, I thought our marital problems would go away, but they didn’t. The financial problems, the broken promises, and the neglect of my needs kept happening over and over.

I wanted to bang my head against the wall and scream: “How can a math Ph.D. not understand compound interest and negative numbers? That is, that we couldn’t keep spending more than we brought in? And, how can such a compassionate man be so utterly selfish?”

Gina’s experience with her husband echoed my own:

His brain worked brilliantly much of the time. But when it didn’t, when some inexplicable glitch snagged the system, the glaring disparity defied credulity. The fact that he typically failed even to perceive any such glitch, confidently insisting that I had misspoken or forgotten, gave me even more reason to doubt my perceptions

The idea that someone could be as brilliant as my husband but have a biological problem that kept him from hearing me—from remembering me—was so shocking. Before, I’d just thought he didn’t love me enough to care about my needs. I was prepared to accept my own diagnosis, but not his.

Ironically, it was my diagnosis and treatment that allowed me to start seeing our life together with more clarity.

ADHD Relationship Support

Finding No Answers in the Marriage Books

For years in the past, I read everything I could on marriage. I see now that dozens of books described the behaviors of ADHD—but did not name them as such. They also described in detail how relationally damaging they could be. But none of them suggested the behaviors were attributable to something biological—namely, ADHD.

Gina writes,

[M]ost of these books offer scant advice other than coping, detaching, or leaving. Some books even blame readers’ dysfunction for making such bad choices in a mate, and others insist that these troubling mates act willfully and are consciously abusive.

After reading this passage, I pulled every single relationship book off my shelf and scanned their bibliographies to confirm: Did any of them make reference to treatable conditions such as ADHD. They didn’t. Was there any ADHD relationship support?  No.

Yet, every single one of them made at least one reference to some book that called ADHD a myth, a cop-out, or an over-diagnosed drugged-out nightmare.

All this time, without realizing it, I’d been reading books on how to cope with ADHD, and not one book on how to treat it. Until now.

Discussion Points:

  1. How did you come to understand that your own or your partner’s problematic behaviors were biologically based, as opposed to a moral, spiritual, or character failure? What was your journey?
  2. When you shared your insights with others, did you encounter opposition to the idea that behaviors can be brain-based? From whom?
  3. What other issues did this introduction bring up for you?

We welcome your thoughts below in a comment; there are no annoying codes to enter.

Your story will help others. While it is useful to have read the book’s introduction first, please feel free to join the discussion even if you haven’t.

The primary goal here is offering ADHD Relationship Support.

Here is the next post: Chapter 1: ADHD Myths Vs. Facts

Gina Pera


40 thoughts on “You, Me & ADHD: ADHD Relationship Support”

  1. Perhaps I’m extra late to the posting, but I’ve been recently witness to a mixture of family adult children and spouses and their children in a variety of activities that made me wonder about couples where one is diagnosed with ADHD and the other is has very high functioning autism. In one case the spiral of misplacing something for the ADHD unmedicated adult actually further caused the ship to list for the spouse. When adult productive autism is knocked off its daily path by the ADHD spouse what type of behavior how can it best be explained to the kids; it’s tough to roll model coping behavior for the kids. Families with these complexities can help each other get a good start to the day. But kids sometimes parent the adults.

    1. Hi Vicki,

      Never too late for a comment. The ADHD Roller Coaster has been a running conversation since 2008. 🙂

      Great point.

      Helping children to grow up in less confusing circumstances, with more effective parenting, is a major focus of my work. Especially given that ADHD is highly heritable, creating a “double whammy” of nature and nurture.

      Yes, the “other partner” can have any number of issues of their own, including ADHD. Dual-ADHD relationships where one partner is higher functioning—and where manifestations of ADHD are so different it’s not recognized as ADHD. But also anxiety, substance-use, PTSD, etc..

      The main thing is starting with the most obvious and dominant challenge. Because ADHD is mostly considered highly treatable—and that treatment often brings relatively fast positive results — that tends to be the best place to start.

      Sometimes the other partner’s issues resolve or at least improve once ADHD-management strategies are solidly on board.

      I’m aware that ASD often go unrecognized. But I also know that the mental-health profession tends to see ASD where there is ADHD. They simply do not understand how to discern. ASD and ADHD might share “social anxiety”, for example, but for entirely different reasons. Superficial understandings lead folks astray.

      Moreover, it’s estimated that at least 50% of people with ASD as primary condition also have ADHD. Research has shown that treating the ADHD helps to manage ASD-related challenges as well.

      Thanks for your comment,

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  5. I’m late to this convo, but thought I’d still comment anyway.

    1. How did you come to understand that your own or your partner’s problematic behaviors were biologically based, as opposed to a moral, spiritual, or character failure? What was your journey?
    –I have a degree in psych/school counseling, so I had enough knowledge to tell something was off, but not enough to diagnose my partner. 😉 His symptoms really started becoming more noticeable after our first child was born. It wasn’t until our son was 4 or 5 that someone diagnosed him. I think it was our family doc. DH still doesn’t agree with the diagnosis because he thinks it means admitting his personality or character is flawed. He has been on/off medication for 7 years. Currently on but as others have mentioned, the behavior has left so much damage and hurt in its wake. He has begrudingly agreed to marriage counseling again, so I’m calling marriage counselor #3 tomorrow.

    2. When you shared your insights with others, did you encounter opposition to the idea that behaviors can be brain-based? From whom?
    –as I mentioned, DH is not convinced. And while I *know* his behavior is brain-based, it’s hard to separate them from the deep hurt that they’ve caused in our family and in our relationship. I’ve talked about it a bit with a friend going through similar issues with her DH and she wasn’t entirely convinced either. She’s walking a similar road and her DH who was previously on Adderall is now on Zoloft and is doing tons better, so who knows what’s up there.

    3. What other issues did this introduction bring up for you?
    –Just feeling a little like maybe our marriage is too far gone, that even if DH finally gets good treatment, maybe the damage is already done and it’s too late. We’ll see…

    1. Hi Deb,

      Thank you for continuing the discussion. It’s meant to be “evergreen” so no one can be late. 🙂

      I hope that your dh can finally find — and be willing to accept — good treatment. Maybe, as you say, it might be too late for your marriage. But it won’t be too late for your children, and co-parenting will be a forever relationship, right? At least that’s how I’ve seen it go.


    2. Hello, I am looking for support as a partner to my husband who I believe has adult ADHD. What is the best way to be a part of a support group or blog. I have read Gina’s book, Is it you, Me or adult ADD.
      I would like to be in a support group for partners. I apologize if this is not the correct place for this request.
      Best SS

  6. I’ve read Gina’s book many times; it is still the “Bible”, as far as I’m concerned, on adult relationships and ADHD.

    I’d like to make two somewhat sad comments about the nature and state of ADHD in relationships, as I see it: The first is that there is still a paucity of qualified therapeutic relationship resources in the community, at any cost, for ADHD couples and especially for the non-ADHD partner. In my opinion, this is due in part to lack of demand – only a small fraction of adults with ADHD have yet been accurately diagnosed, lack of interest on the part of therapists – long-ingrained problem ADHD behaviors can be devilishly difficult to change, and lack of energy on the part of the non-ADHD spouse – who has time for therapy when you’re the only one keeping the wheels from flying off the bus?

    The second comment is that this thread is typical of those in the non-ADHD support world, from what I’ve seen, in that the posts from non-ADHD partners are largely from women and not men. My opinion is that this is because women are more likely to stick it out for the long haul, and to continue to look for solutions and support, even when the situation is not improving, possibly for financial and/or family reasons. I also think some men find it easier, emotionally, to move on when the relationship is not improving or not improving as fast as they’d like.

    For myself, and for the present moment, I’m still in the game.

    I’ve seen many similar versions of my story on the web: my beautiful, young (20 years old at the time), smart and silly wife and I were married 28 years ago. Her brilliant idea for a business led to our financial security; I very early on had to remove her involvement from critical functions, though I didn’t understand why she couldn’t pay the bills on time, etc. At that time adult ADHD did not exist, certainly not for women. Weird things happened from time to time. I kept my head down. Decades passed.

    About 5 yeas ago, partly to help deal with the stress of the financial crisis, I learned meditation and incorporated that into my daily routine. Part of a Zen lifestyle is reducing intoxicants, so I quit drinking alcohol. My mind began to clear, and I woke up from a 25 year dream, realizing that I was intensely lonely and covering up my feelings with alcohol. My wife was caring for her mother and niece a few towns away, and not coming home until the wee hours several nights a week. She was impulsively spending on shoes and clothes and beginning to fill the house up with stuff. She had long ignored routine medical and dental care. I forced her to have weekly meetings where we would address these issues and agree on solutions, which were immediately forgotten or not acted on. After googling “what does it mean when my wife can’t be on time”, or something to that effect, I came to the realization that she had a neurological problem. At first I thought BPD, but then settled on ADHD. I eventually had to put the phone in her hand and dial the doctor’s number to get her to make an appointment for an assessment.

    Fast forward to today. My wife has been in treatment for 2.5 years, but I still have to insert myself on a regular basis to right the ship. She doesn’t give the doctor the full story, so I have to show up and give my two cents. Soon I will be attending to try to figure out out why she’s staying out late again. I have a hunch she’s quit taking the wellbutrin along with her vyvanse (she hates taking her meds, imagine that). Also, it’s time to go back to work looking for a good CBT therapist – they are in short supply. Yup, the rollercoaster rolls right along. But she’s now getting up in the morning, exercising regularly, eating well and her medical/dental care is all up to date – she has a strong foundation to build on.

    As for others, it turns out that a few of my friends and siblings also have ADHD partners, diagnosed and treated and otherwise, so I’ve been lucky to be part of a small network of mutual support.

    1. Dear Larry,

      You have definitely been on a decades-long roller coaster.

      And you’re right: There are never as many men as women in the support groups for the partners of adults with ADHD. At least, it’s not a representative number.

      One small study did, in fact, show that women are more likely to stick it out with the male ADHD partners, because they feel they are helpful or want to keep the family together.

      Many men whose wives have poorly managed ADHD are up to their eyeballs in work and family responsibilities, but that’s also true for many women I’ve encountered. The difference might be that it’s not as easy for the men to recognize that they need help, that it’s not just a matter of “manning up” and “gutting it out.” That there might be sources of support.

      Also, though, how much support would some men receive for complaining that, “My wife can’t get dinner on the table” or “My wife’s a messy housekeeper and shops too much.” These are the narratives of 1950s-era comedians, not husbands in the 21st Century. They’d hardly be tolerated.

      But guess what? Same-sex couples of both genders experience the same issues.

      It’s really important for men with female ADHD partners to tell their stories. Thanks for doing so here, so effectively.

      I’m glad the roller coaster is leveling out a bit, for you and your wife.


    2. Larry,
      “She doesn’t give the doctor the full story”

      My DH is the one with ADHD and this is SO TRUE!!! Therapy has not yet worked for him because he shows up for his sessions and tells his therapist everything is fine. *facepalm*

    3. Yes, might as well save the money on that therapy and get yourself a massage. 🙁


  7. There is much familiar in the comments regarding the book club.
    My undiagnosed father, brothers, and a diagnosed nephew ) have it. (It was my nephews diagnoses that led to my early 50s diagnoses.

    There was the “logical” rage yelling when I was growing up. ” Why don’t you,”, “Why can’t you”, “go figure it out on your own”, “What were you thinking”, “Go to your room and think about what you did, and don’t come back until you can understand why you shouldn’t blurt out ” open the (name of wrapped gift)” at a birthday party, or accidentally drop a heavy object on a friends toe at my birthday party, or other known and unknown, at the time, actions and situations, rightly and wrongly attributed to me.

    It became a habit for those around me and a habituated, “I want to be good but I’m bad or stupid” groove scratched into my inner brain.

    At 4 or 5 years old, I remember sitting outside on the front steps of the house I was living at , thinking. “Why can’t I understand things or people in the same way or as quickly as everyone else does.” “What’s wrong with me”. Why do people seem to like me , but don’t ever seem to get close to me, unless there is an immediate advantage to them for being so.

    The past two or three hours . I went to lunch, alone as usual. People, whom l know, and who knew me, exchange greetings in passing. Now that schools out, my normal routine is gone, which is rarely a good scenario for me. Anyway, I drove to a couple of stores just to stay occupied, and not again, fall into a state of hopelessness, from the amount of things I could be accomplishing for myself, that I seem not to be doing. And the lack of doing things for others, which works well in formatted situations, where I am somewhat protected from getting taken advantage of, feeling used, or never feeling like I am doing enough.

    I went to an electronics store, “maybe a new computer will get me into a motivated state, though I already have a laptop and an old computer that would do the tasks I am contemplating, but perhaps I need a clean slate. Figuring out things about a new computer might kick my brain into action regarding other things. It might be another good temporary fix. There’s the rub, temporary. I looked at five dollar videos, “that would be fun to see again”. I looked at new gadgets, “those would be neat to have”, but let’s wait until I figure out what I can do to do something that might help me do something to earn some money and feel useful. Did I mention I’m alone.

    I switched to Concerta at 18 mg, from 20 mg methylphenidate, 2 months now $200 + applied to deductable, but not reduced any longer. I pay 3 to 4 times what I paid in January. The dosage seems consistent but not near as effective. I need to go back to my physician, talk to him for another 10 minutes, tell him what I think might work. That means Paying for another office visit. (I do like him). He, like many others, who are not familiar with ADHD, but are willing to learn, is supportive. I have found him more helpful than others who seem to be so sure of themselves to the point of absurdity. I wish there were people like Oren Mason (who I met at my first and only Chadd Conference in Atlanta, as well as Gina around here.

    I’m looking at what I’ve written now. If I was to condense it and edit it, I could make it read much better, but it wouldn’t give you the feel for ADHD that I really want to convey from the patterns that seem to derive from it. It is truly déjà vu all over again. If I was to convey what my life with ADHD is like, the above concepts in my writing all have the same high priority, and focus, all at the same time, Unless, of course, something new, with an immediate solution happens to come to mind.

    1. Hi Paul,

      I’m really glad that you didn’t “condense and edit.” Your story is quite moving, and it eloquently relates the mind-state of a child who doesn’t know that ADHD is affecting his life.

      Much of the public has no idea. They decry the “labeling” and “drugging” of a child. But they have no empathy for children who are really struggling, and then internalizing blame for their difficulties. This is the most challenging part of Adult ADHD psychotherapy, helping people to let up on the self-blame and re-frame their difficulties around ADHD.

      re: Concerta, can you try getting it through a mail-order pharmacy? It’s usually cheaper, and you get a larger supply. I’m not providing medical advice, but I will tell you that some people on such a low dosage (18 mg is the minimum for Concerta) will take two pills, to see if there is an improvement. Your physician should have kept increasing the dose until side effects outweigh benefits. If you don’t have another physical condition contraindicating this, maybe you can phone and ask to try it.

      Good luck!

  8. I figured out that my husband had ADHD when our son was in first grade and having so many problems that his teacher suggested I get him “tested”. Tested for what, I asked, and that’s when I learned about ADHD. My son was tested, told he had it and the rest was left up to us, so, I started to read books on ADHD. I remember thinking as I read, aha! that explains so much about my husband like:

    why he talked about things that he wanted to do, wanted desperately to do, but never did

    why he was so disorganized and distracted

    So I told him that I wasn’t sure about my son but these books were describing him to a tee. This was life changing. He went to a Dr. and went on Ritalin, but more than anything else, he began to forgive himself for the things that he thought of as his failings that he’s been hearing about all his life, You’re so smart if only you’d apply yourself, type of comments. Over the last 15 years, he’s gone back to school and graduated with straight A’s, and stopped drinking so much to dull his feelings. He’s become a better husband, father and best friend. And, he’s happier.

    Now, our problem is the son who was 6 when he was diagnosed and is now 20 and drifting, distracted, decided he doesn’t like himself on medication. He always struggled in school.

    We felt lucky he graduated HS and weren’t surprised when he couldn’t handle college. It’s hard to help him and we worry.
    That’s our story.

    1. Hi Wendy,

      Thank you for explaining your discovery of ADHD, on both counts.

      It embodies a phenomenon I’ve seen far too much. That is, the late-diagnosis adult who carries around so much “emotional baggage” and embraces treatment, along with the child who received early intervention (and thus forgoing the undiagnosed “baggage”) and yet now spurns the diagnosis and treatment. It is a problem that I’ve noticed for a long time, but no one else is talking about or studying.

      I hope that as your son matures, he will come to recognize his ADHD-related challenges on his own, and follow his father’s example.


  9. Kidlet-
    I think the betrayal from ADHD is more traumatic than other betrayals. My ADHDer was not indicating any issues between us. We went to MC and he told me everything was fine. We didn’t have the usual struggles. Then BAM! I find out that he was using the babysitter I pay for to go out and visit ‘professionals.’ I discover he is using my co-workers as the cover. I find out that his infidelity was ongoing for over a decade, while he tells me he is going to study groups, working late, or seeing a retiring friend. It was an unbelievable shock and trauma.

    I am wondering, like you, how much lattitude you give. ADHD isn’t an excuse, but it also gives you pause. You wouldn’t ask a person with a physical disability to do something they could not. Is it fair to ask a non-neurotypical to behave honorably?

  10. Thanks for joining in, Kidlet.

    I’ll say it again: Understanding that some behaviors are “brain-based” does not mean excusing them. But it does mean finding an explanation for inexplicably hurtful or confusing behavior– and maybe finding a way out.

    People are complicated. ADHD treatment is not going to treat personality disorders, for example. It might even make a person with a personality disorder be more organized about it!

    But the more you learn, the more you find out what treatment might do—and what it might not.

    The economy is better these days, though perhaps not in your area. Maybe it’s worth re-vamping your resume and testing the waters.

    take care,

  11. Hi again M,

    Oh, yes that disagreeing on the “sky is blue” thing — practically diagnostic! 🙂

    Keep reading! Keep participating! The more you are validated, the more valid you will consider your perceptions. And eventually so will he!


  12. Hi Gina,

    My husband (and partner of 15 years) was very recently diagnosed with ADHD. It took the diagnosis for me to take his suspicions about having ADHD seriously, because he always seemed normal and he has a tendency to jump to the worst conclusion possible (“I read it on Google so I MUST have this or that disease”). He would claim that school or work was a struggle, but he was always successful, so I never thought it was anything more than learning disabilities and low self-esteem. Sure, he would forget what I told him and fidget all the time, but those obvious manifestations were not enough to make me think there was more going on in his head.

    I am slowly learning how ADHD might be the root cause for certain behaviors. It’s still hard, however, because my husband seems to have developed such great coping mechanisms that some things are not visible from the outside. His parents didn’t see the ADHD, his teachers didn’t see it, I didn’t see it… He obviously has internal struggles that make it hard for him to achieve certain goals, but most of the time, he still achieves them.

    I’m sure we’re at the beginning of a very long conversation about how ADHD affects his internal functioning even though it’s not obvious on the outside… Your book seems like a good way to jumpstart that conversation, so we’re working on it! Thanks,


    1. HI S.,

      Yes, some people with ADHD manage to function okay, but at such an emotional (and sometimes physical) cost.

      And the stress accumulates over time, sometimes resulting in physical conditions such as cardiovascular, diabetes, etc. Then the ADHD becomes so much harder to treat.

      I’m glad you found my book and this blog.


  13. I’m having trouble distinguishing “the fact that he typically failed even to perceive any such glitch, confidently insisting that I had misspoken or forgotten…” from gaslighting.

    My ADHD husband of 12 years is a porn “addict” and a chronic liar. Not just “my brain edited reality and now my memories of an event are faulty” (which is hard enough to live with), but actual flat-out lying that he is fully aware of doing and is doing on purpose.

    I remember being relieved when I first read this book about six years ago, thinking that there would be light at the end of the tunnel because ADHD is treatable. But, so far, that light has been an oncoming train.

    Hubby is on stimulants for his ADHD, Effexor for bipolar disorder, and propranalol for his multiple-times-a-day ragey outbursts. These meds have helped a little, such that he’s a little more focused and only yells at me one or two times a day (when he remembers to take his meds), but he refuses to implement any of the behavioral changes that both the ADHD coach and our couples’ therapist have suggested. He keeps insisting that he’ll remember X *this* time; he can control his porn urges *this* time; he’ll be honest and kind *this* time. . . without doing anything to make those behaviors come about. So it ends up being the cliched definition of insanity: Continue to do the exact same thing while expecting different results.

    I am currently financially dependent on him, but I’ve gone back to school and plan on getting my CPA license in 3 years. After that, I suspect I’ll file for divorce. I am childless by choice but now I’ve got a great big, loud, angry, emotionally stunted 50-year old child on my hands. It wears me right the f*ck down, having to “manage” him day in and day out because he refuses to learn how to self-soothe and how not to throw tantrums when, for instance, he can’t find the lid to the glue and tries to blame me for it going missing (when I haven’t even seen the glue stick in over five years and he was using it just five minutes ago).

    It’s actually kind of depressing for me now when I read books like this, or see articles on the Totally ADD website, about successful relationships where the partner with ADHD says, “Oh, gosh, now that I know what my issue is, I’ll work really hard on it because I love my spouse and don’t want to hurt him/her by my default behaviors and emotions, so I will learn to manage them differently,” because that is absolutely not happening in my case. It’s great that it’s a treatable condition, but that’s pretty much meaningless if the person with the condition refuses to treat it.

    1. Persephone, I’m so sorry for the suffering you’re going through. You’re *absolutely right* in distinguishing a distorted perception of reality from outright lying. And yes, an intelligent, loving spouse can *tell the difference.* It’s why I stayed–because I could see the good man who was genuinely trying. His genuine desires didn’t line up with his courses of action. His decision making skills were flawed. That’s an **entirely** different story from someone who conceals sin, or deliberately oppresses another person. You can tell the difference. Don’t let anyone hold you back, and I will pray for your freedom and wisdom. Please reach out for help if you need it. <3

    2. Hi Persephone,

      I’m sorry to read that you are seemingly stuck in this situation for a few years. But good for you, for planning a smart exit.

      As I write in the book, ADHD seldom travels alone. There is an array of traveling companions, including personality disorders.

      I don’t think I’ve ever taken the approach of “read this book and you’ll march happily into the sunset.” 🙂 Instead, I caution the partners to know that, by adulthood, many patterns are set and there might be little that can budge them, and to take care of themselves.

      All that said, I’d still question your husband’s pharmacology regimen. Too many times, it is a hit-or-miss affair. So, even if the ADHD partner pursues treatment, they are short-changed.

      Thanks for your comment.


    3. Oh, absolutely, I agree that “read this book and you’ll march happily into the sunset,” is naive. Hence the medication*, the ADHD coach, and the therapy.

      *This is the eighth or ninth iteration of of my husband’s pharmacology regimen, and is the most successful to date.

    4. Good for both of you, for persevering. Unfortunately, so much prescribing is done recklessly, without even the most basic protocols followed.

      It’s a national scandal, in my opinion, and accounts for much of the backlash against ADHD.


  14. I’m one of those people who went through her life being called a dummy in school. Dropped out because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t learn. I was the kid who slept all day while the other kids were outside early on Saturday mornings having fun. This was my life. Because I couldn’t learn and no one ever thought to get me help I got pregnant and got married at a young age. I gained a ton of weight while pregnant and the doctors put me on diet pills after the baby was born to help me lose weight. BANG! It happened all of a sudden I was smart. The diet pills gave my brain what it needed. Back in those days no one had ever heard of ADHD.

    I could keep my house clean all of a sudden. I got a job as a nurses aid and was offered a position with a doctor who worked at the hospital. He noticed me and needed a medical assistant and wanted a bright person that he could train to assist him in his many medical clinics. Me bright? Yes for the first time in my life I was the smart one in the group. For years I took diet pills to keep my brain on track. Then came the government crack down on the diet pills. There I was out in the cold once again. Lucky for me I was working for a doctor who said if the pills helped me to get through the day he saw no reason why I shouldn’t take them.

    Fast forward my life to age 43, I had a son who was having the exact problems I had in school. The difference was I knew he was not a dummy and I wasn’t about to let the same thing happen to him. I got him tested and sure enough I was right ADHD. The doctor looked at me and said any time you would like I can also do a workup on you. Yep, he saw it right away. I was in need of help also.

    To make this a little shorter then it would be if I gave all the details. My son graduated form college with a 3.5 he is now a police officer with a degree in criminal justice, he is on the crash team which requires a tremendous amount of math. And after 3 years on the force he has been promoted to Sargent. Needless to say none of this would have happened if I had not made sure that he got the help he needed.

    As for myself I never did go to college but I now know I’m far from a dummy. I am a Certified Medical Assistant. For now my biggest problem is getting the right brand of Concerta. Because I’m one of those people that happens to be on that drug at this point in my life and it has worked wonders for me. Now to get the FDA to pull those bad generics off the market.

    Gina ,I can’t thank you enough for your work!

    1. Dear Margaret,

      I am glad to know your story. Wow.

      And I’m glad it is here publicly, for people who might be on the fence about giving their child medication.

      Thanks for your comment.


  15. I still struggle with the concept of his failings being biological/chemical. To me, I am stuck in this being a moral failing. It really feels very personal right now. Affairs damage the very core of the soul.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Understanding what might be a biological contributor to your partner’s behavior doesn’t mean excusing it. It doesn’t mean you don’t let it hurt you, or that you ignore it. It only means that you now might have a better path to0 help him change it.

      But yes, as you say, sometimes the damage has gone too far. I am sorry.


  16. Coming from a church upbringing, it took me a long while to wrap my head around “the gift of the spirit, self control” wasn’t necessarily something a person chose.


  17. The Masked ADDer

    Dear Gina, I resonate from personal experience with the examples mentioned in the intro. All very apropos. I wish more people realized how much they can learn!

  18. My husband and I “re-met” after being apart for a few years. He was charming and bright. I knew something was “off” with him, but had no idea what..

    We started to date and it quickly became obvious that he had real problems. He had rages. He had brain fog. Couldn’t think clearly at times. Had a hard time getting himself to do things, like get dressed. He was on SSI & in counseling, but had been diagnosed with depression. I could tell that wasn’t right, but what was it?

    I never considered ADHD. The man was a slug. He wasn’t hyper. But one thing is that he is really sincere. He never lies. He truly couldn’t do some of the simplest tasks with any reliability. It was really hard at first. The rages had him putting his fist through my doors. He broke the wheels on the vacuum cleaner my parents gave me, and I cried. Why couldn’t he stop himself from doing those things? What did he gain by doing them?

    Then, one day I was talking on the phone with a total stranger about an unrelated topic, We got to talking about mental issues and I mentioned my husband. She listened to his “symptoms” and told me he had ADHD. She’d never met him, but her kids, husband and maybe she, too, had it. She referred me to some books that really opened my eyes, including this one.

    We started looking toward medication. Of course, they were treating him for depression and the treatment for that would have been worthless if it ignored ADHD. When he took the first dose of stimulant, it was amazing. He talked and talked. He could think clearly. He had more energy. No, things weren’t perfect, but he could move forward. This, more than anything, told me his behavior wasn’t due to a “moral issue.” He had a treatable condition. It made all the difference for us.

    1. Wow, Yvonne. I could swear that we are living the same life! That’s exactly how my husband is. I was so happy to find Gina’s book (and later Gina herself)! She has been such a great resource and has done wonders for keeping my feet on the ground concerning my relationship with my husband. I’m really looking forward to more of the book review and this group.

  19. Hi Gina,

    My husband and I had the advantage of both being diagnosed before we met. And though I tend to have to be the initiator, most of the time, usually my husband is willing to discuss or somehow engage in solutions.

    Overall, I think it’s an advantage to “know” in advance about your partner having ADHD, but in my caue, because I also have ADHD, it means I let problematic behaviors go too far. I’m too tolerant, perhaps because I expect tolerance for my own ADHD challenges.

  20. Thanks for doing this, Gina.

    My marriage is going through an extremely bad patch right now and this is sort of just a reminder that my wife is not fully on board with admitting how much ADHD affects our marriage.


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