Burnout can affect any relationship, but it’s an unusually common problem when you’re in a marriage with someone who has ADHD. The symptoms of untreated ADHD may manifest in several ways. You may feel as if your spouse is ignoring you, or you may find yourself the brunt of an out-of-nowhere angry outburst.
Instances such as these have an cumulative effect and can wear a person down. It can be difficult to try to navigate life with someone who suffers from ADHD–their challenges are your challenges too. So what can you do?
We’ve collected seven tips for overcoming non-ADHD spouse burnout.
If you suspect your spouse has ADHD, it’s never been easier to get the proper treatment. Encourage them to contact Klarity to schedule an evaluation by a licensed medical professional.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a common neurobehavioral disorder that can last from childhood into the adult years. Approximately 4 percent of adults in the United States suffer from the disorder. ADHD in adults is typified by many symptoms, including the following:
- Trouble staying focused on routine tasks
- Hyperfocus on interesting tasks
- Trouble concentrating
- Tendency to procrastinate
- Poor time management
- Risk-taking behavior
- Hot temper
There are three primary types of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined. The former two suffer symptoms appropriate to their type, while the latter type experiences the full range of symptoms of ADHD.
What It’s Like Being a Non-ADHD Spouse
A non-ADHD spouse can naturally become exhausted when dealing with the symptoms his or her partner exhibits. The challenges the untreated ADHD sufferer faces are visited upon the spouse, who may become lonely, overwhelmed, and generally unhappy in the marriage. The hyperfocus at the beginning of the relationship fades away, replaced by inattentiveness. Household chores may be unevenly distributed. Fights may become commonplace.
ADHD presents a challenge to both spouses, but the non-ADHD spouse may feel as though he or she is taking on a significant part of the burden without any help from the partner. They can also feel as though they’re not an important part of their spouse’s life. This can lead to burnout, which can deeply affect the marriage.
Tips for Avoiding ADHD Spouse Burnout
1. Avoid Parenting
When one spouse has trouble remembering to do things, procrastinates on household chores, is unable to get to appointments on time, forgets where his or her keys are, or exhibits behavior stemming from any one of the number of symptoms of ADHD, it can be easy for the other spouse to step in and assume the role of a parent. While this may be unavoidable from time to time, any sustained spousal parenting leads to an imbalance that can foster resentment in both partners. The non-ADHD spouse resents having to take on most or all of the responsibilities, and the ADHD spouse resents being treated like a child.
While it can feel natural to step into this role, if only to make sure tasks get done, taking on the brunt of the responsibility can easily lead to non-ADHD spouse burnout. Be aware of this tendency, and avoid stepping in and taking over completely. Work with your ADHD spouse so they can more fully take on responsibilities and relieve you of at least some of the burden.
2. Stay Calm
This may well be easier said than done. Dealing with the frustration of living with
someone with untreated ADHD could cause anyone to snap from time to time. But anger only leads to bad feelings in both parties, and it’s hard not to become exhausted when faced with constant stress.
When you feel frustration and anger rising, realize that your spouse is likely unaware of what they’re doing. Take deep breaths before reacting to, for example, your spouse hyper focusing on something new while neglecting something less compelling, like household chores. Getting angry affects you as much as your spouse and can easily lead to burnout.
3. Talk About It
Conversation is a great release valve and can help alleviate the stress of being married
to someone with poorly managed ADHD. Rely on friends who understand what you’re
going through, and talk to them regularly. An additional option is to speak to a therapist
who understands ADHD and its symptoms. Simply discussing your frustrations with a compassionate listener can provide a great deal of relief.
In addition, talk to your spouse. The more they understand what you’re going through,
the more they can take steps to help you and themselves. And the more you understand
their symptoms, the better you’ll be able to get through your day without experiencing non-ADHD spouse burnout.
4. Get Sleep
When you’re doing more than your fair share of household duties with seemingly no reward, your sleep can suffer. There may seem to be not enough hours in a normal day to get everything done, or you may go to bed angry. Not getting enough sleep can lead to burnout in those who aren’t living with a person with untreated ADHD; it can be disastrous if they are.
Sleep is restorative and plays an important role in maintaining physical and emotional health. Without sleep, it’s difficult to concentrate and easy to become frazzled. Maintaining a proper sleep schedule can be key to getting through the day.
5. Find Support
It’s tough to go it alone, especially when your spouse has unmanaged ADHD. Finding support can help prevent burnout and lead to a happier marriage. Support can come in many forms. It can be as simple as calling a friend who understands what you’re going through. Getting emotional support can make a huge difference in being able to better cope with your ADHD spouse.
There are support groups for non-ADHD spouses. Locate one in your area and attend gatherings. If there’s not a local group, find one online. Being able to discuss your experiences with people who know firsthand what you’re going through can be a huge source of strength. In addition, get help with household chores and give yourself a break. Having someone come in to help clean and organize, even for a couple of hours, can provide a great deal of relief.
6. Help Your ADHD Spouse Find Help
Dealing with untreated ADHD can make life seem insurmountable, both for the ADHD sufferer and their spouse. If you suspect your spouse suffers from ADHD, helping them find treatment can help both of you. Simply being diagnosed could be a relief, as it answers many questions you may both have. You’ll be able to finally understand what you’re both going through.
ADHD treatment takes many forms. If your spouse experiences the symptoms of ADHD, encourage him or her to get an evaluation from an experienced clinician. Your spouse can start by taking this easy 2-minute ADHD test online.
7. Treat Yourself
You may be so wrapped up in taking care of your ADHD spouse you’ve forgotten to take care of yourself. It pays dividends to take stock of what you’re managing on an everyday basis and treat yourself.
Take a relaxing walk. Read a book. Binge your favorite show. Go out to dinner. Eat dessert. Whatever you do to self-indulge, be sure to do it once in a while. You’re dealing with a burden – accept that fact and do what you can to avoid non-ADHD spouse burnout.
Take Good Care of Yourselves
As spouses affected by ADHD, you face challenges not experienced by many other couples. Your marriage can be a great source of strength, and you can support each other through tough times. Untreated ADHD, however, can make that give and take incredibly difficult.
The first step toward taking care of yourselves is to get help managing your spouse’s ADHD. When your partner gets treatment for his or her condition, it can relieve a great deal of the tension that leads to non-ADHD spouse burnout.
Encourage your spouse to schedule a thorough evaluation with an experienced medical professional. Take the next step with Klarity and help your spouse get diagnosed and get online treatment for ADHD.