Spouse Denial

By Eileen Bailey

Several years ago I met two women dealing with relationships in which one spouse had ADHD (or was suspected of having ADHD) and the other spouse did not. In both of these cases, it was the woman that was the non-ADD spouse. Together, they talked, supported one another and came up with a plan to try to resolve the issues in their relationships. These two women gave me the plan they had developed, allowing me to share it with others.


It is important to note that this plan was not developed by a psychologists or psychiatrists. It is not based on anything other than two women’s experiences and insight into their own marriages. But it is also important to note that several years later, these women were still married and felt their marriages had survived a turning point. They both believed their marriages were stronger.




Jane had been married for 10 years. She had a son, aged 8. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and Learning Disabilities. Jane spent a great deal of time learning about ADHD in the hopes of helping her son. She read about behavior modification and did her best to incorporate behavioral strategies at home. While reading about ADHD, she began to realize that her husband showed many of the characteristics and symptoms of Adult ADD. As she talked with his parents about his childhood, it became more apparent to Jane that her husband probably had ADD. He was adamant that he did not. He did not want to hear about it and would not discuss it. He felt that he had managed this far. He was self-employed and was fairly successful.


Jane, on the other hand, was sure that he did have ADD. She had been the bookkeeper for his small construction business since it’s inception, she took care of the house, worked a part-time job and managed her two children’s activities. She felt she took the brunt of the household work on herself and with her bookkeeping duties managed to keep her husband organized.  Jane was overwhelmed with the amount of work she tried to accomplish each day but wasn’t sure she would be able to give any of it up. She was afraid that if she let go, her husband would go back to missing or being late for appointments with customers and lose important papers.

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