Photo of a couple on two sides of a door feeling frustrated around their communication. In an article by Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC on how to communicate with a man who won't communicate.

13 ADHD Communication Styles That Create Conflict In Most Marriages

ADHD affects marriage in different areas, such as organization, time management, and conflict resolution. In addition to ADHD’s impact on marriage, ADHD partners need to learn each other’s communication styles. When you understand how these ADHD communication difficulties present themselves, you can more effectively navigate conversations with your partner. 

How does ADHD Affect Relationships?

Impulsivity, inattentiveness and hyperactivity all impact ADHD marriages on some level. Due to ADHD symptoms, you may feel frustrated, misunderstood, unheard, disrespected, unimportant and hurt.

If the ADHD goes untreated, it leads to higher levels of hurt, pain, disappointment, distrust and hopelessness. Without the proper tools and skills you will not be able to foster a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

One of the most significant areas that impact many areas of ADHD marriages is the challenges created around communication. Therefore, it is imperative that you are aware of and recognize the ADHD communication styles so you can address conflict more successfully and develop a more enduring marriage. 

Why does ADHD Cause So Many Communication Difficulties?

A partner affected by ADHD has different communication styles and patterns than a partner who is neurotypical, meaning that they have not been diagnosed with ADHD or other neurodevelopmental issues. Neurotypical partners usually utilize more conventional communication patterns, such as clear and concise communication, sustained attention, appropriate non-verbal expression, and respond in a coherent manner. 

As in all relationships, couples have challenges they need to work through together. However, ADHD partners have communication difficulties found in neurodiverse couples due to low levels of neurotransmitters firing from different parts of the brain. 

You might resonate with some or all of these typical ADHD communication patterns. Be aware that if you have a baby, extra work stress, or any other significant event you might observe more of these communication difficulties. Under stress ADHD partners will feel more taxed and may find themselves having more challenges managing ADHD.

Regarding the suggested solutions, you will need to take a few months and use trial and error to find out what works and doesn’t work. One solution might even work for a certain period of time and then no longer work. Be flexible and reevaluate the effectiveness of the solutions every 4-6 months. 

Here are the 13 most common ADHD communication patterns that couples struggle with:

ADHD & Listening:

Listening is challenging for any and all couples. Usually partners want each other’s full attention and desire to be understood. When ADHD couples face one or more of these “listening” behaviors, communication can be blocked and disrupted.

#1 Interrupting Others

Every partner interrupts their partner every once in a while, but an ADHD partner will probably interrupt you at least once or more during each conversation. You might not feel listened to, heard and understood each time they interrupt you. 

For most ADHD partners they don’t realize they are interrupting or feel like it’s a knee jerk reaction which they may feel unsure how to stop. 

#2 Dominating Conversations 

You may feel like your ADHD partner is not listening, jumping to the next subject before your concerns are addressed. You may think your point doesn’t matter because you did not have a chance to speak. When you tell your partner that you are feeling dominated or controlled, they may be totally unaware of how you felt about the conversation.

#3 Repeatedly asking “are you listening to me?”

They might ask if you are paying attention or listening because they want your undivided attention and total engagement. They can provide undistracted attention for  you at certain times and in return, they desire you to be able to hyperfocus on them in an identical manner.  

Partners need to foster meaningful connections, but when you’re asked, “Are you listening to me?” repeatedly, you may feel frustrated and annoyed because you are paying attention to the conversation .

ADHD & Speech – From Dominating the Conversation to Constant Interruptions

These three conversation patterns cause others to feel ignored, neglected, and not valued. 

#4 Interrupting others

When you are talking with your ADHD partner you will be interrupted and may feel cut off. You may feel frustrated that you can not finish their thought without them saying something about themselves, the topic or some random idea.

You might wonder why your partner is interrupting you and can’t wait their turn to speak. Interrupting and blurting out what they want can be normal for ADHD. 

#5 Oversharing

Boundaries are very vague, unclear and uncertain for ADHD partners. They don’t know what to share, where to start the story, when to end the story, and how much detail to include.

They usually overshare information because they are so excited to tell you about the event and think you want to know every detail about the situation.

They also can relive the situation if they tell you every aspect. If it was a positive situation then they will probably get more and more passionate as they tell the story, and if it was a negative experience then they recreate and relieve the pain and hurt again. They might also over exaggerate it because they ruminate about the issue, creating the narrative to become bigger and more severe. 

#6 Dominating the conversation

Some ADHD partners dominate, monopolize and control conversations. It is very difficult for the ADHD partner to listen when they feel that they have so much valuable information to share with you and want to tell you every detail of their day and every story. They don’t know how to filter out the important information from unnecessary details. You might wonder if they will stop talking and take a breath, but often, they continue to talk without a break. 

ADHD & Organizing Your Thoughts

You may find yourself feeling frustrated when conversations start without a clear direction, or are disorganized and repetitive. You might think to yourself, “Haven’t we already discussed this?” and frustration around “What is my partner trying to get at?”

#7 Difficulting putting your thoughts into words 

As an ADHD partner rehearses (because they do) what they want to tell you in their head, it sounds clear and succinct, but as they state it, the ideas are stated in an  unclear and jumbled way. They have difficulty moving from point A to point B. They might start at point A, then move to point z, q, m and finally address point B. You might feel very confused and have a hard time tracking the story or event. Frequently, the ADHD partner does not realize that their thoughts seem disorganized, and they might feel frustrated or hurt if you don’t understand them. 

#8 Repeating yourself

They repeat themselves because sometimes they are 5 steps ahead in their head but 5 steps behind in what they shared with you. For example, they might be thinking about the trip you are going on and the packing, hotels, and airlines that need to be planned for. If you wonder why they tell you to make the hotel reservations 5 times it’s due to thinking about all the details and they can’t remember what they have told you

ADHD & Conversation Flow

Conversations have a cadence and flow when two people engage in a give and take, but ADHD couples will struggle with how dialogues progress. 

#9 Talking too fast

ADHD partners will talk quickly because their brain is firing so quickly that their thoughts and feelings may be experienced like a machine gun firing. Since they are probably experiencing racing thoughts and multiple thoughts simultaneously, they might have a tendency to talk rapidly. 

#10 Asking too many questions

They might ask you many questions because they are trying to understand what you are saying. Partners affected by ADHD have intruding thoughts that distract them from listening. They may ask you to repeat your answer or ask you the exact same question again or in a slightly different manner because they are still trying to understand what you said. 

For some ADHD people it takes a little longer to process auditory information and for others auditory processing is a strength. Find out if it’s your partner’s strength and if so, You can leave them reminders in voice messages which will be more helpful than written notes. Whereas some ADHD partner’s strength is visual and need written notes to remember things and if you tell visual learners something audibly they will have a high likelihood not to hear it or forget it more easily.

#11 Rambling

ADHD individuals ramble because they externally process information in their mind. After they express all of the information then they start sorting it out and trying to organize it out loud. They are seeking your help with this executive function, which  refers to a set of cognitive processes and mental skills that organize thoughts, actions and emotions which ADHD partners struggle with. 

It’s very difficult to organize their thoughts in their head and then state it. 

It’s like puzzle pieces being dumped on the floor and then all the pieces of the puzzle need to be sorted and reconfigured to make the whole puzzle. 

#12 Talking too much

Sometimes you might ask yourself why your ADHD partner talks so much. They have a tendency to process out loud. Sometimes you might think they are talking to you when in actuality they are talking about what they have to do next, wondering out loud why something occurred or just planning their day. 

Their constant stream of thoughts is like having the television on all day. You will need to ask your partner to indicate that they are speaking to you because you might begin to tune out the constraint stream of conversation and miss something important they are telling you. They can tap you on the shoulder or wave their hand to indicate to you that you should listen now. 

ADHD & Eye Contact:

Eye contact is anticipated in intimate relationships and can be hard for people when there’s conflict. During disagreements, an ADHD partner may find it more difficult than most to provide eye contact, leaving their partner feeling alone and disconnected.

#13 Avoiding eye contact 

The ADHD partner is very focused on their internal dialogue that it’s difficult for them to focus on you and maintain eye contact at the same time. You may ask them to focus for one minute and see if that will work for both of you. 

The frustration of having communication difficulties is real and challenging because the non-ADHD partner might perceive the slights as purposeful, planned and intentional.

You might want to say, “Why can’t you think first?”,  “Stop interrupting me, you’re acting like our kids.” or “Why can’t you be more organized? What do you think? I’m your mother.”

When these communication issues happen repeatedly and you want them to change, you may say or do things that are from a place of hurt, pain, anger and desperation. 

Solutions For ADHD Communication Styles

After reading all of these communication style difficulties you may feel overwhelmed and very concerned, but as a couples therapist who specializes in ADHD and marriage, I want to share that the first step is understanding and awareness and then it’s learning how to navigate these communication issues differently. 

A collaborative approach will be more effective in finding solutions. By choosing to engage as a united team, sharing thoughts and emotions openly, you’ll foster an environment conducive to resolution. You need to move away from an adversarial communication style to strengthen your relationship.

Next, to optimize your communication, consciously moderate the pace of your discussions and take turns. You can also mindfully slow down conversations and alternate when addressing matters which fosters more effective communication. You want to ensure that both voices are heard. This will ultimately foster deeper understanding and more productive exchanges.

Some questions you may need to ponder and address are : what are your priorities when you talk and share your thoughts and feelings (i.e. listening, problem solving); will you sit down and talk or text- what mode of communication will you use; will you use a timer so you both have equal time to share your thoughts and feelings; and how will you both feel listened to and heard. 

When you understand the 13 ADHD communication styles that influence your relationship you will be able to comprehend your struggles and explore methods to overcome them. ADHD affects marriage but it does not need to destroy it. Recognize the signs of communication difficulties and begin to find remedies to create a loving relationship. 


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

Related Posts

2631 Housley Road #1132
Annapolis, MD 21401

Still Have Questions?

Send a Message

By submitting this form, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via the internet. Please feel free to hold any confidential information you think I need to know until we connect.