Couples Counseling: undiagnosed ADHD affects relationships

The article below says: troubled relationships are all too common among adults with unmanaged ADHD. Although ADHD afflicts millions of adults, it remains under-diagnosed – only about 10 percent of adults who met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD had been diagnosed and treated for it. While hyperactivity component of ADHD often declines with age, executive functions symptoms, such as difficulty with time management, organization, motivation, concentration, self-discipline, planning and follow-through, can linger into adulthood.

Barkley and Murphy reported in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment that 89 percent to 98 percent of adults with ADHD are impaired in all executive functions. “There’s no domain of your life that this disorder does not interfere with. It produces more significant impairment in more areas of life than other outpatient disorders,” including anxiety and depression, Barkley says. “School, occupation, money, credit, sex, work life, raising children—it hits them all.”

Unfortunately, traditional marriage counseling often isn’t very helpful unless ADHD is diagnosed and treated. “Many people have tried going to therapists and marriage counselors who are not trained in ADHD and may overlook it as a source of potential problems in the marriage,” Murphy says. “Consequently, these well-meaning therapists may miss the boat, which is a major reason why many ADHD couples report prior attempts at traditional couples counseling to be unhelpful.”

One partner’s ADHD impacts many interactions with the other partner, including meeting practical obligations in the relationship, such as getting to dinner on time, picking up after an activity, remembering to remember the errands, or consistently taking care of bills. Adults with ADHD are twice as likely to separate, divorce, or report less marital satisfaction as couples without ADHD. Every couple faces its own unique challenges, but when one partner has ADHD, the relationship may require additional support.

Counseling with Elaine Korngold

I really enjoy working with adults with ADHD. I am a Certified ADHD Clinical Services Provider (ADHD-CCPS): Evidence-Based Strategies for Managing ADHD Across the Lifespan. My training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy allows me to apply Gottman Method approaches to unique struggles that adults with ADHD face. In my private practice, we explore and address complex issues and emotions that manifest when clients with ADHD encounter financial, career, relationships, and other stresses that impact their emotional well-being. Contact me to learn more.