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North Carolina divorce lawyers explain: ADHD may be a cause of relationship woes

/// 08/16/2010

If your marriage seems to be plagued by constant forgetfulness and inattention, leaving you or your spouse aggravated and resentful, it may be time to address the possibility of ADHD playing a role in your relationship. As Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times puts it, “Your marriage may be suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”


Parker-Pope sheds light on the typical traits that accompany this condition in the article, “Attention Disorders Can Take a Toll on Marriage,” and offers an explanation as to why the problem may have been overlooked. As Parker-Pope explains, the problems associated with ADHD and its effect on adult relationships is receiving more attention from mental health experts as they realize all children with the disorder did not outgrow it, or were never diagnosed.


Adults struggling with the disorder have learned coping skills in order to adapt to every day work situations, but many still suffer at home where their susceptibility to distraction is greater. Parker-Pope points out that the common symptoms of the disorder, which are distraction, forgetfulness and disorganization, can and oftentimes are misinterpreted by the other spouse as laziness, selfishness and lack of love and concern.


Parker-Pope references Melissa Orlov, author of soon-to-be published book “The ADHD Effect on Marriage” when describing the turmoil the disorder can cause. Orlov explains in an interview, “I felt like he was consistently inconsistent,” in reference to her husband who was diagnosed with the disorder approximately five years ago. She adds, “I could never count on him. It goes from feeling responsible for everything to just chronic anger. I didn’t like the person I’d become either.”


Orlov also explains, “Typically, people don’t realize the ADHD is impacting their marriage because there’s been no talk about this at all.”


The article points out that some research suggests that adults suffering with ADHD are twice as likely to be divorced. Another study found high levels of distress in 60 percent of marriages affected by the disorder, according to Parker-Pope.


As Parker-Pope points out, marriages plagued by ADHD can leave one spouse with all of the family responsibility. Partners not suffering from the disorder may feel ignored or unloved as a result of their spouse’s distraction. Concurrently, a spouse suffering with the disorder is typically unaware of his or her mistakes and resultantly confused by the other’s anger.


The lack of understanding and communication that results from relationships suffering from ADHD can build up, according to Parker-Pope, and result in long-lasting anger and resentment.


While there are treatments for ADHD, initial medications typically do not solve the backlog of problems that are resultant of the impact of ADHD on the marriage over the years. Parker-Pope suggests counseling, but acknowledges the problems may just be too big. She explains, “One of the biggest challenges is for both spouses to accept the very real toll an attention disorder can take. Often the partner without ADHD worries that the diagnosis will give the other partner an excuse for not helping; meanwhile, that partner typically has a hard time understanding how his or her behavior affects others.”


If traditional counseling, therapy or medication proves futile in solving your marital feuds, ADHD may have already taken a permanent and irreversible toll on your marriage. If you believe your marriage has suffered enough and is beyond repair, it may be time to seek the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney. The family lawyers of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt are dedicated to excellence in the practice of divorce law and commitment to their clients.


To contact any of the lawyers at Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, call them at 866-362-7586, or visit their website at


Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC

Divorce is Tough – So Are We



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