How to Manage Feelings of Burnout about Your Spouse’s ADHD
Without understanding how it works, spouse ADHD can cause some serious problems in a relationship. Around 12.9% of men and boys and 5.6% of women and girls (the number for females is under diagnosed) have ADHD, and the numbers continue to climb as this issue gets more attention from professionals.
Fortunately, that means there has been plenty of opportunities to study the topic, even in long-term relationships and marriage. So, what is ADHD burnout, is it common, and how can I address it? Let’s talk about that.
Is ADHD Burnout Normal?
For the spouse without ADHD, burnout is quite common. ADHD comes with different symptoms for everybody, but there are some similarities that can make dealing with ADHD on a normal basis challenging.
If your spouse has high stress levels, this poses even more challenges. Stress can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD quite sharply, even leading to long-term chemical and architectural changes to the brain, which can lead to stress disorders and even further worsening of ADHD symptoms.
Even without high stress, ADHD poses challenges of its own. This could be in the form of “bouncing ideas,” “word vomit,” or neglecting chores. However, in more serious cases, it can involve issues with accepting reality, verbal abuse, and other serious problems.
Regardless of what the problems are, they can quickly lead to challenges in a marriage. Fortunately, there are ways to address this with an action plan.
What Can You Do?
The first, and most important, step you can take to improve your feelings is to take a personal inventory. What are the most challenging aspects of your relationship, what are your priorities, and what can make the most improvements in your marriage? Once you’ve answered that, here’s what you can do.
People with ADHD may not have ill intentions, but it can appear this way when you ask for something repeatedly, and nothing changes. Expecting an immediate fix for a bad habit or long-term problem can lead to disappointment, resentment, and burnout.
Instead, continue asking for it, and try to be as patient as possible. Your spouse likely isn’t trying to complicate matters; they just have a challenging time focusing on and prioritizing these changes. For someone with ADHD, it can feel like adding another task to their cluttered mind is overwhelming.
However, that doesn’t mean you should give up. If there is a problem, discuss it with your partner. If nothing changes, try your best to remain calm and discuss it again.
An example would be if you have a problem with them forgetting to do their day-to-day tasks. This is a common issue for people with ADHD, and they will need time to build the habit. Try to keep the balance of giving the reminders they need without being overbearing or nagging.
Don’t Overload Yourself
Your partner will likely want you to handle more of the day-to-day tasks, as this is a common struggle for people with ADHD. Believe it or not, only half of adults with ADHD can hold down a full-time job. These problems seep into every aspect of their lives.
Helping them in these areas of their daily life is a great thing to do, but not if it’s going to lead to burnout. The couple needs to address these issues and make agreements on how to handle situations as a team. You can choose to take on something, but if it is going to push you past your limits, then you need to problem solve it together.
Draw Clear Boundaries (And Stick to Them)
Lack of recognition of boundaries can be a common complaint about partners with ADHD. If this is a concern for you, we understand that it can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” for this, but rather, a long-term strategy.
The best thing you can do is to communicate with your partner about the boundaries you want to set. Of course, this can frustrate even the most patient of us, but your partner and you will catch on and learn to discuss boundaries.
This is highly individualized to your concerns, but try to draw lines that really bother you. Some examples may start with:
- “I feel hurt when jokes about…”
- “When the dishes are washed, I feel…”
- “I feel abandoned when…”
Be as specific as possible about their behaviors and how they make you feel. If you can, “pick your battles” for now by prioritizing the ones causing you the most distress. You can always work on others later on.
Talk to a Counselor
First of all, let’s be clear and say that visiting a marriage counselor is not a sign that your marriage is deteriorating in any way. If anything, it’s a sign of strength when both partners decide that they want to improve upon the challenging aspects of your relationship.
The point of couple’s counseling is to discuss your problems in a safe environment with a professional, impartial, third-party moderator who can help you work out solutions to your problems. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a marriage without any problems. We only experience different ones.
Also, your counselor may recommend ADHD treatments for your spouse, which can go a long way in improving both of your lives! ADHD treatment can include private therapy, medication, or both, which can help improve the symptoms over time and lead to a happier and healthier life!
Get Your Marriage Back on Track
Now that you know some ways to address ADHD burnout put these tips to use as soon as you can. Treating ADHD is important, but saving your marriage takes precedence in the short term.
Stay up to date with our latest tips for your relationship, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for ADD-focused 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 issues in your relationship through an intensive marriage retreat or couples counseling. Reach out to Lisa for a 30-minute free private consultation today.