Partner in Denial about ADHD

Q: As a non-ADHD partner for 2.5 years to a 62 year old gentleman who won’t accept the Amen Clinic diagnosis of ADHD, I feel my teaching and counseling abilities have run out. I am looking for follow through on major negligence in his home and retirement if I am to remain; and, health accountability on his part. Right now he will take the suggested supplements but only for me not for him. How do I first get my partner to see the multiple traits he possesses as a cluster representing ADHD rather than providing each with an individual excuse.

This is such a tough situation. Unfortunately, you are not alone.

First I should probably explain some things about how we with ADHD behave in relationships.

  • Most of us have experienced a ton of negativity, and thus we have wacky attachment styles (this is MY theory)
  • Many of us have very poor self-awareness and feel the need to be “right” all the time
  • We see things in a black/white way and have issues with compromise
  • We are consistently inconsistent, and so our partners don’t know what to expect. Ever.
  • Other points of view are difficult, and we often perceive them as criticism or rejection

All of this can create a hot mess for our partners. And I say all of this as a person with ADHD who is married to a non-ADHDer.

If I were able, I would have my husband give you his .02 as well.

The best solution for US has been two pronged:

  1. Really uncomfortable honesty. As in he tells me when my behaviors are out of control. And I tell him when I feel totally out of control.
  2. Counseling and education for both of us.

Your email sounds as if you already know what needs to happen for you to stay in the relationship. I guess the question then becomes are you willing to work to hold onto the relationship? And is your partner?

I can’t really answer those questions for you.  But I can give you a couple resources.

Whatever you decide to do, know that just by sending this email you are showing your willingness to try to understand. And that means everything. To us.


– Liz


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