ADD/ADHD and Abuse in Marriage
Recently I was talking to a survivor with adult ADHD, and it started me on a path of researching the difficulties in marriages where one partner has ADD or ADHD. My ex told me that he took Ritalin as a child, and he displayed some of the hallmarks of a person with ADHD. In the aftermath of our divorce, I was still reeling from all of the abuse and still trying to get a handle on WHAT exactly had happened to me.
I knew that some of his behavior was clearly abusive (like threatening to beat me), but it was all the “other stuff” that I wasn’t sure about. Now I can put labels on everything and say “yes he was emotionally abusive, a big gaslighter, blah blah blah” — but back then I wondered if everything was the result of a combination of my own flaws (naturally, since he pointed them out constantly) and his ADHD issues.
I won’t post the link here, but there is a website that deals directly with marriage issues related to adult ADD/ADHD. If you read through the marriage counseling articles, and then read the comments from people in these marriages, some really troubling trends jump out at you.
#1. A lot of the commenters describe behavior that is clearly abusive.
#2. A lot of the recommendations for “accommodations to the ADHD sufferer in the relationship” involve things like “let them pick the chores that better suit them” etc.
It looks like there is a community of people who are suffering in marriages with a partner who regularly “forgets” all of their promises and responsibilities. They also seem only capable of doing “activities of their own choosing” and neglecting everything else. Then the partner feels like a nag. And then sometimes, these ADHD sufferers will lash out and blame their lack of caring on their brain disorder.
It has been discussed on this blog in the past (link) that things like Autism are not an excuse for abusing other people. In the same way, a diagnosis of adult ADD/ADHD is not an excuse to ignore your family, disregard all of your responsibilities, lash out with abusive words, or demand that the entire family accommodate you in the same way that an Abuser demands his family to cater to his every (changing) demand. ADHD is not an excuse to scream at your wife for spending $100 at the grocery store, and then turn around and wipe out the savings account to buy an expensive “Toy” on impulse.
That sort of behavior is abuse, and should not be catered to.