ADHD is one of the most common mental differences in the US, and it disproportionately affects men. 5.4% of men and 3% of women have ADHD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
However, while it is common, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to manage, especially in a close relationship. Let’s talk about how to address feeling resentful toward your spouse’s ADHD.
Understand That It Isn’t Anyone’s Fault
Often, when problems arise, we look for someone to blame. In this case, it could be your spouse or yourself. Both your spouse’s ADHD and your feeling resentful aren’t anybody’s fault.
Of course, your spouse isn’t to blame for having ADHD in the first place. Also, the more you both understand the impact of ADHD and how to change the dynamics in your relationship, the easier it is to address your feeling of resentment. Recognizing this is an important first step.
More importantly, know that you aren’t alone. You’re not wrong for feeling the way that you feel and many couples have overcome those feelings.
Recognize the Causes of Resentment
There are many behaviors that someone with ADHD may display that could cause some resentment. While everybody experiences and displays ADHD symptoms differently, common behaviors include:
- Excessive talking
- Lack of listening skills
- Forgetfulness and poor organizational skills
- Behaving negatively to receive a specific reaction
- Impulsive decision-making
- Sporadic emotional outbursts
The list goes on. While these may be somewhat out of your spouse’s control, and they may not intend to cause harm, these behaviors can certainly impact our general mood and well-being. When you share a life with someone exhibiting these behaviors regularly, they can lead to resentment.
Moreover, try to determine precisely which behaviors are causing your resentful feelings toward your spouse. This will help you determine an appropriate solution.
Risks of Resentment
Unfortunately, while resentment in a marriage is fairly common, it isn’t exactly productive. Without properly addressing the underlying causes and working to turn those feelings around, it can trap a marriage in an unhealthy cycle.
If you’ve felt resentful toward your partner for a while now, you can bet that they’ve noticed. Whether you realize it or not, resentment changes our behavior in many ways. It can lead to passive-aggressive, short-tempered, or other negative behaviors.
Did you know that unhappy marriages are less common than unhappy spouses? It’s far more common for an unhappy married person to be married to someone who is happy in the relationship.
How to Stop Feeling Resentful
Feeling resentful toward your spouse’s ADHD is a serious problem in any marriage, and it needs to be addressed right away. The longer these feelings are left to fester, the worse they will get. Reading this article and acknowledging your emotions is a great start.
However, there is no easy solution. You likely already understand that some of your spouse’s symptoms are out of their control. Still, there’s a process toward recovery.
Write Down Your Concerns
Once you know the problems that are causing your resentment, write them down. When the time is right and you and your partner have a safe space to discuss these issues, it’s unlikely you will remember everything you wanted to say. This will be an emotional conversation, so have your statements prepared.
Discuss Truly Problematic Behaviors
If there are certain behaviors that you simply can’t live with, talk to your spouse immediately. Major issues that are affecting your self-esteem or general mental health need to be addressed right away. If your partner exhibits behaviors that are detrimental to your health, try to discuss them as soon as possible without getting too upset.
For example, some people with ADHD are known to “word vomit.” This is where they speak whatever is going through their mind and don’t stop until someone stops them. If they are constantly saying negative or hurtful things, discuss this with them right away.
Alternatively, disorganized people with ADHD may routinely neglect basic responsibilities. This can cause serious issues, especially if you have children, pets, or family responsibilities at home.
In many cases, they may not realize how their words or actions may hurt you. Try to help them to develop a system that works for them with scheduling, reminders of certain triggers, and more. Even if it’s the last thing you want to do, this can make a world of difference.
Seek Professional Help
Most importantly, you and your spouse should discuss the idea of marriage counseling, especially with an ADHD relationship specialist. If feelings of resentment are present in a relationship, then this is a necessary step.
Don’t worry. Relationship counseling does not mean that your marriage is “doomed” or even in jeopardy. The stigma around it is entirely unwarranted. Also, saving a marriage is well worth overcoming any mental barriers.
Couple’s counseling is simply a safe way to discuss disagreements, grievances, and issues in a marriage. All couples have issues, disputes, and occasional fights. However, when the problem comes to the point of resentful feelings, it’s time to have a serious talk.
Counseling can help you both learn new ways to address your issues. Conversely, your spouse may not realize how their behaviors affect you, and you may not realize how your resentfulness affects them. Discussing these matters in a safe and calm environment is the best way to recover your marriage.
Heal Your Relationship Today
Now that you know how to stop feeling resentful for your spouse’s actions, put these tips to use and rebuild a lifelong healthy relationship with the person you love. Resentment is a powerful feeling, but it doesn’t have to last forever. You and your spouse just need to take ownership of your situation and work to improve it.
Stay up to date with our latest counseling tips about spouse’s ADHD and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or inquiries about counseling!
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont and Florida. She also works with international couples and expats. With her support, you can learn how to reduce stress and conflict in your relationship through an intensive marriage retreat or couples counseling. Reach out to Lisa for a 20-minute free private consultation today.