Why A Support Group for Partners of Adults with ADHD?

support partners of adults with ADHD

A support group for the partners of adults with ADHD?  That struck many people as a strange concept in 2003, when I advanced it in an essay that went “viral”. (I include it below. You’ll also find a link to the podcast of this post.)

More than 20 years later, the need still remains puzzling to some.  That includes some mental-health professionals—even those with high-level adult ADHD expertise. Yet, ADHD Partner Group is still going strong, internationally.

After years of being free, we recently made it a modestly priced membership site.  Why?

  • COVID-related stresses created an unmanageable influx
  • New technology means I could expand the features, including small Zoom meetings

Now, members are better able to follow each others’ stories. For now, it’s only $15/month, with options to participate in monthly Zoom groups (max 12 attendees).  I also offer a sub-group group for the male partners of women with ADHD. 

The feedback on the Zoom feature is overwhelming positive. Therapy can be helpful. But hearing from your peers and receiving their validation and support….priceless. Sometimes just one meeting is enough to get you on the path to healing—yourself and sometimes your relationship, too.

You can read more here: ADHD Partner Group FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Background on ADHD Partner:

A few years after I founded the first group for the “partners of”,  I felt compelled to educate the public and the profession by writing the essay for our local CHADD newsletter. It circulated widely online at the time. (Remember, this was 2003! The Internet wasn’t what it is today. No social media. No blogs, at least on Adult ADHD. Google in its infancy. Think more grassroots than commercial.)  

Four years later, in 2008, my first book expanded this theme. That is,  the importance of including the partner in the evaluation and treatment (especially medication) for the ADHD adult. 

In 2016, my second book presented an equitable couple-therapy model. This is in keeping with research pointing to a “bi-directional” effect from living with an untreated mental-health condition. That is, ADHD can creates stress for the individual who has it, and that stress can exacerbate the condition. Stress in relationships, on the job,  with money, and with children. Even if only for the benefit of the ADHD partner, holistic treatment is crucial.

Still, sadly, most prescribers and therapists fail to get it.  As a result, many adults with ADHD don’t receive the treatment they deserve. That affects every aspect of their lives, including employment, health, intimate relationships, and parenting.

ADHD’s “Bi-directional” Effect—On Both Partners

Psychologist Arthur L. Robin, Phd, and I incorporated this “bi-directional” evidence-based knowledge to our ADHD couple-therapy model. See Q&A with the Experts: Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy™

We now live in the time of COVID. Living situations, jobs, and health have been stressed than ever and resources are restricted. Moreover, we face overwhelming numbers of social media groups and other pitches for adults with ADHD and their partners. How do we know what is solid—and what is hustle? It’s often tricky. 

Now, more than ever, we must tend to both partners’ needs and, thus, the needs of the relationship and the family. The situation is critical, and lives hang in the balance. Validation, solid guidance, and expertise can make all the difference. That’s where ADHD Partner Group shines like the North Star.

Now for the little essay.

support partners adults with ADHD

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2003 Essay: Why Support for The Partners?

When partners of folks with ADHD attend a support group, what’s on the agenda?

Okay, venting sessions do occur – especially after, say, the partner with ADHD has gone on a particularly costly E-bay buying binge.

In large part, however, individuals seek a support group to better understand their ADHD partner. In many cases, they also seek to salvage a relationship marred by years – if not decades – of misunderstanding and hurt. They hope to stop being exasperated and depressed and start learning new strategies.

Lest we forget: Many partners knew nothing about adult ADHD prior to the relationship. (Their ADHD partners didn’t, either!)

Sure, books on the subject [there were only about 3 when I started the group] prove invaluable. Nothing, however, beats real-life validation: “Oh, you mean that’s ADHD impulsivity, too?” and “You mean he or she isn’t doing that just to drive me insane?”

With each new “a-ha” moment, members gain a different perspective. Soon, the confusion subsides and real learning takes place.

support partners adults with ADHD


Listen In to the ADHD Partner Group Chat:

“Listen in” to an online support group via these snippets:

—”My understanding ADHD meant that I could gain a firmer grip on reality. I came to know exactly what I was dealing with, instead of being perpetually confused by the chaos. From that point, I could stop reacting and start acting.”

—“When I first came to this group, I had so much anger. I actually felt like I was spitting fire when I would vent here.  Now I’ve been able to separate things out.”

—“I have a long way to go to understand and cope with my dear husband, but I’ve progressed more in 2 weeks being in this group than in the previous 8 years.”

—”It feels like a new world of possibilities has opened up.  I feel true hope for the first time in many years.”

—“The more my husband understands his ADHD and the more I share and read with the group, the better things get.”

support partners adults with ADHD


Validation Paves Path To Happier Future

Practical information fills the conversations as well – strategies for better communication, financial management, household chore delegation, finding good care providers, and co-parenting with their partners.

Bit by bit, members can start focusing less on ADHD and more on enriching their lives, regaining a sense of themselves that had become “lost in the fog.”

Best of all, the group provides a community of people who need no explanations and always offer a sympathetic ear. Sometime, this opportunity to be heard and alleviate feelings of isolation makes all the difference.

One long-time member puts it this way:

Before I found this group I thought I was all alone with absolutely no one to understand the dynamics that my partner’s ADHD created in the relationship (including the therapist). But here I’ve found that everyone is in the same boat and we’re all trying and exploring our different options. I am eternally grateful to this group – it’s what has kept me going since I’ve joined 4 years ago!

Copyright 2003-2023 Gina Pera

To join us, visit ADHD Partner Community

New! Listen to this post on my podcast:



29 thoughts on “Why A Support Group for Partners of Adults with ADHD?”

  1. I am in a bad position I have not been able to get a consistant amount of adderall in months my dose had to be halfed from 50 to 25mg a day and now I find my implusive behavoir with law problems. I can’t tell anybody but my brother and dad because I don’t want anymore judgment then I already have. I am ashamed enough without help from outside sources I am a grown man stealing none sense and not even able stop it. I already told my brother slap me hard if I ever talk like that again…it’s stupid and dangerous. I wasn’t about a thrill it was just doing it and really taking stuff without thinking…

  2. victoria brandt

    Trying to find support group in New Orleans or nearby for spouses of people with ADD, not ADHD. Do they have separate groups or would ADHD group still be beneficial?

    1. Hi Victoria,

      “ADD” is the old term. The term now is ADHD – for all presentations, including hyperactive, inattentive, and combined.

      There are definitely group members whose ADHD Partners have Inattentive ADHD.


  3. I need help finding a support group in Nashville, Tn. My husband of 30 plus years has undiagnosed ADHD. He’s 58. Can’t believe it took he this long to figure out, why he is the way he is! I’m not a professional but reading the symptoms online? It’s was a big relief. Just to finally figure out why he is the way he is. But I need a support group to help me. Then try to get him to get help. His adult daughter and granddaughter have it. Pretty sure his mother was undiagnosed ADHD also.

    1. Hi Doris,

      I don’t know of any support groups in Nashville. But I have led a group for many years. It’s really best when the group’s facilitator has expertise. That’s hard to find.

      There’s an e-mail based group, and there are optional monthly Zoom groups. I highly recommend them.

      You can learn more here:



  4. I had a melt down today! My husband of 33 years, who has adhd does not listen to what I have to say regarding his impulsivity, taking me for granted, i have to remind him to help me with house hold chores, his decision making has affected me. I feel like my life is a roller coaster, full of activities, he can’t be still. We worked through his infidelity and alcohol abuse in the past thro therapy. I have been diagnosed with Anxiety and ptsd. He is trying his best to improve, but the cycle of ups and downs, his moods and being self absorbed is getting to me. He promised to work on his adhd with a therapist but gets side tracked by so many activities, i have had it and i just don’t know what to do. I need emotional availability from him and attention, but I don’t get it unless i ask for it. There is initiative on his part to daily improve our marriage. It’s just me asking and reminding. I am worn out and tired and need support from other people experiencing this.

    1. Dear Sara,

      Been there. Done that. Hate for anyone else to do it! 🙂

      No matter how hard your husband is trying (and good for him!), it sounds like you two just don’t have the right kind of help.

      Most therapists — even many claiming ADHD expertise — just don’t provide the foundational education and skills-training that ADHD-challenged individuals and couples need.

      This is essential.

      Verbal reminders. “Talking about it.” All that can be futile — and exhausting. That’s just not going to work.

      Giving and receiving “emotional availability” can be difficult (to say the least) when it’s chaos all around.

      With joint effort and cooperative strategies, life can improve. Routines. Schedules. Habits. These provide the framework by which we can eliminate the reminders and disappointments.

      I encourage you to check out my course: Solving Your Adult ADHD Puzzle

      As the co-author of the only ADHD couple therapy clinical guide based on what works, I can assure you: This is the kind of guidance therapy should be providing but seldom does. Emotional, psychological, and PRACTICAL.

      Course 2 launches soon, on sleep and medication.

      You’re also welcome to join the discussion group.

      take care,

    2. Hi Sara this sounds like my life. My husband cannot have a serious conversation about finances, house payments… anything serious without have a rage. Sometimes when I’m talking he gets up and walks out of the room…because he remembered something he needed to do.

      He gets absorbed in his hobbies and there are endless jobs…chores…tasks.

      His first thought is himself.

      I used to love him because he was fun and light hearted, which he still is….as long as I deal with all the real stuff…bills…home buying…childrearing…

      He exhausts me. I dread spending time with him because it triggers my anxiety.

      Is there a way to deal with this? I don’t want a divorce but I feel like his mother!

    3. Hi Abby,

      It might be that your husband “cannot have a serious conversation” about those things because he cannot focus well enough. To make matters worse, it’s a “serious” conversation, so he knows he needs to pay attention and remember.

      But finances, etc. can be very boring to listen to, hard to keep track.

      This sounds like poorly managed ADHD. Life could probably be easier for the both of you with education and maybe treatment.

      good luck,

    4. I’m actually trying to reply to “Abby” but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that (?). She mentioned not being able to have have a serious conversation with her husband without him going into a rage or just getting up and walking out. She said he gets absorbed in his hobbies and leaves the children, chores, tasks and responsibilities to her. “His first thought is himself.”

      I used to say this exact thing about my husband who was very self-centered and stuck in his own mind. I also felt like his mother, not his wife. Everything was left to me, home repairs, chores, childrearing, remembering birthdays, celebrating holidays, taking the kids to doctors or dentists, income taxes, paying bills, EVERYTHING.

      After years of this, I started crumbling under the weight of it all. My blood pressure went sky high, my anxiety and panic attacks wouldn’t cease. There are so many family trips we didn’t take because I couldn’t handle coordinating everything, packing everything (including his things), and dealing with the kids on my own. The resentment kept on building.

      Things only changed when we were on the verge of divorce and he went to a psychiatrist, got an official diagnosis, went into therapy and started taking medication. When he found the right medication, he suddenly started having real conversations with me, he started helping out around the house, his depression and aggression practically vanished, and he started engaging more with our children. When he actually noticed something about me and commented, I realized that I hadn’t felt “seen” in 20 years and I burst into tears.

      I hope you see my message and know you’re not alone! I hope your husband can get some help and I wish you all the best.

    5. Hi Jennifer, you did it correctly….Sara should get a “ping” notifying of your response.

      And I’m glad your story illustrates exactly what I said: “Life could probably be easier for both of you with education and maybe treatment.”

      Some folks find it hard to imagine, but it really can happen.

  5. My husband and I have been married for 6 years. Shortly after we married I had him seek help and he was diagnosed with ADD. For a time he was prescribed medication and lied for the longest time about taking it. About two years ago he started taking his meds but after at least a year I hadn’t seen a difference. He doesn’t want to take meds that show up in a drug test so he takes no medication now. I desperately need help in understanding him and find a way that I can also get himself to help himself. The days of absolute anger are over but I still find myself largely irritated with him. It’s not fair to him and I hate feeling that way. I see that I need help first so that I’m in a better position to help him better.

    – Alice

  6. Why do partners need support? I can answer that with my story: When I tried to talk to my husband about our problems, he’d tell me I had issues because of my abusive childhood and to go talk to my therapist. Strange thing though, I didn’t have high blood pressure, anxiety or panic disorder until after I married him, and I lived on my own (away from my abusive parents) for 10 years before meeting him. But somehow, it was all my problem – his forgetfulness, hostility, disregard, impulsiveness, impatience, self-centeredness, inability to handle money, etc. After 20 years together, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He’s taking medication and going to therapy, and things are much, much better. But I still resent the decades I spent being miserable, with him in denial and gaslighting me into accepting all the blame, and our children growing up in that environment. I’m hoping your resources can help continue the process of healing and coming to terms with everything. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Exactly that.

      This is why SOME adults with ADHD write scathing one-star reviews of my book. They say that it’s “negative” — more negative than another later book on Adult ADHD and relationships by someone who had not spent time in the trenches as I had.

      They blame the breakup of their marriage on my book.

      But what typically happens is that some other books, therapists, etc. have told the “partners of” to be more patient, more accommodating, etc..

      When they finally have their lives, their perceptions validated….and learn that everything is not all their fault? Yeah, that’s going to bring some emotional reactions. 🙂

      Take care of yourself,

    2. I so feel you. I’m struggling because the past 14 years have taken thier toll prior to a disgnosis…
      now, I just don’t think I have the mental and emotional fortitude to face a lifetime of this.

    3. Adhd ruined my marriage I was married for 15 years and never even realized I had adhd or how bad it was I didn’t remember things I said or did and didn’t have any money to do anything about it. Now my ex wife is dead and I don’t even get to talk to her and I am can’t get any medication I am totally out..and I start a job on monday and will have to tell my employer that I have an upcoming court date because of it. I am 100 percent positive that none of this would happened had a been on a proper prescription but now it’s ten times harder I have to wake up everymorning not thinking “fuck man” in my head and try to replace it with something more affirming like it’s not all your fault for not being able to get the mental health help you need because the system is totally crushed with all those people who suddenly have adhd and you’re not a bad person. I was gaslit too during my marriage constantly told that it was always my fault and stop being so angry it’s just in your head. By the time I got medication it was too late and my divorce was underway when people say they are better off alone they should try being alone and I MEAN REALLY alone. I am still not over my ex wife and her gaslighting it took me 20 years to get to the point where I realized I might never be happy again I would never have kids not at 50 and with all the time of being dragged to fertitily clinics like it was my fault that she couldn’t concieve and when she finally did she miscarried and said now because of her health she only wanted safe sex. That was one of the most painful things I had to deal with there were others like the random angry outbursts that she would have then act like they never happened. I was called rascist, cheap and other things I blocked out…I guess I just gave up trying to be my own person. It is going to be really hard for me to be that honest open person I once was because I was shut down…hard.

    4. Dear Phillipe,

      I”m sorry to read your story. I agree with you….you were failed. No doubt again and again.

      I hope that when you get your medication again, life looks brighter.

      What’s stopping you now? I know there are shortages but there is still availability with many of the less well-known Rx.

      Do you know what your other options are?


  7. I’d like to discuss elderly ADHD with someone who has a spouse with mild cognitive impairment.

  8. How do I join the Partners group?
    I’m 30+ years into my marriage. As my husband ages, it seems his ADHD gets worse. I exhausted from all of it.
    He suffered many years with depression before being diagnosed in 2009 with bi-polar disease with clusters of adhd, ocd, etc. He was put on meds for severe bi-polar. But reading more about adhd recently, it seems the adhd symptoms are the predominant ones. It’s confusing for sure.
    In any event, rather than giving up completely, I’m willing to try to save what I have left of myself by joining this group.

  9. Married for 25 years and in the last 4 months suspect my husband has adult ADHD. My father also has it but never diagnosed. Growing up with this I knew and recognized similar behaviors with my husband, and how my mother dealt with it. I accumulated coping mechanisms with my father that carried over with my husband. For many many years and I felt like and would say out loud I hate riding this roller coaster. Little did I know that is exactly what I was doing, and couldn’t figure out how to get off. After years of dealing with it I’ve like many became very anxious, depressed, sad and stuck. I didn’t like who I have become nor want to be. I am learning techniques to better cope with his tendencies, reading your book a lot others, but still get caught on his roller coaster by surprise and need other support. Thank you.

    1. Hi Rob,

      Sometimes those coping mechanisms just wear out their usefulness. I’m seeing a LOT of that now during COVID times.

      What you describe sounds like the Frog in the Pot Syndrome. I think I talk about that in my first book: The water wasn’t boiling when you climbed in. But over time, it grew warmer and warmer until suddenly you find yourself in hot water.

      I hope that you learn from my book that this coping should not all be on you. ADHD can be a highly impairing condition — in all areas of life. The ADHD Partners owe it to themselves and their loved ones to step up on treatment strategies.

      If you’d like to join my group, please follow the link in the post.


  10. Anne Marie Teigen

    Thank you for everything you are sharing, Gina! Your books and posts are extremely valuable!
    Keep on and take care! <3
    Best wishes from Anne Marie, Norway

  11. I can’t thank you enough, Gina, for all your work on ADHD, and how it affects partners too.

    Ever since being married to my husband, it seemed I had developed an anxiety disorder, because many of the things he would do would get me so anxious. I thought it was because he was a recovered alcoholic and had a lot of left over bad habits.

    I think I was often seen as the bad actor in the relationship because people did not know his “bad habits.” I could hardly be mad at him for being recovered. And I was the bad actor in many ways because I was always getting on him about his impulsive behavior, disorganization, over spending, and lack of motivation at times. I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

    Very much like the wife of an alcoholic, I berated him too much, and he wasn’t drinking, so why was I doing it?

    He still has not gotten help, but he does know he has the disorder. He cannot currently take the medication because of a heart condition (but may be able to take a different medication.) But just knowing what is going on, helps SO much!!

    Now I am much more understanding of his shortcomings and my own. After reading this blog, I am reminded that there is targeted help for our issues and to continue to work on them.

    Thanks, enormously for saving me from a lifetime of heartache. I just wish I had realized sooner.

    1. Dear Rose,

      Thank you so much for letting me know my work has helped ease your anxiety and heartache. I wish you’d known sooner, too.

      I wrote my first book as the book I wish my husband and I could have read, back in the late 1990s.

      What you describe is so common….the “camouflage” of all types that obscures ADHD, the things we/society/therapists say are the reasons for the behaviors.

      I used to wonder about the term “dry drunk.” That is, an alcoholic who has stopped drinking but still exhibits many troubling behaviors as before.

      Now I realize….ADHD.

      Just FYI — heart conditions don’t necessarily contraindicate stimulant medication. It depends on the issue. But typically the cardiac specialist is not aware of the finer points. There’s just a blanket “no stimulants.” (Another in my long list of Blog Posts To Write!”)

      Also: Strattera has a higher cardiac side-effect profile than the stimulants.

      But yes, just knowing why your husband is behaving as he does can help enormously.

      take care,

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