Does anyone have advice for getting a... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

CHADD's Adult ADHD Support

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Does anyone have advice for getting an undiagnosed resistant ADHD partner tested and treated? All advice welcome!


Last year my husband and I were seeing a marital therapist. During one of the sessions, the therapist suggested that my husband might have ADHD. For me, this was hugely promising because 1) With the nature of our conflicts, I'd suspected something beneath the surface was going on AND 2) I was given a lens through which I could at least begin to understand his behavior. For my husband however, what the therapist said isn't of much interest. In the session, he agree to be tested, but he still hasn't gotten tested. I'm doing everything I can to learn about ADHD, trying out coping strategies (because I'm overwhelmed by our negative patterns), seeing an individual therapist monthly, and researching options for ADHD testing and treatment! However, when I bring it up he's being very resistant. I've decided not to participate in conflicts when he yells at me, so I usually digress. If we can keep a respectful discussion going about it, I noticed he attempts to use the potential of going through with the ADHD test as an ultimatum to try to do things he wants to do—or threatens he won't get tested. It's so bazaar and stressful! Does anyone have advice for getting an undiagnosed resistant ADHD partner on board with getting tested and treated? What can I do when it seems like the undiagnosed ADHD symptoms are preventing progress (like productive conversations)? I love him. I want us to have a healthier marriage and hopefully children in the not too distant future (I'm 33 and he's 41). BUT I can't see us growing under these circumstances. Please help!

12 Replies

I am so sorry for the troubles that you are facing. The thing that comes to mind is MH stigma and being labeled. That HE is the problem...listen....HE is not the problem. But having a diagnosis has pros and cons, I just feel the more you know the better it is.

There are strengths to having ADD/ADHD, the way we thing, our energy, our perspectives, our loyalties, etc. Great with children!!

Maybe he is only seeing the negative and not the positives that he may not be seeing that are part of his DNA.

I hope this helps

iWife in reply to MrsKlco

Hi MrsKlco! Thank you for responding. I really appreciated it! Since your comment, I've been encouraged to keep learning as much as I can about ADHD. Even though my husband is not interested in learning as much as he can—at least at this stage—about ADHD, I've been ready and equipped to share some of the "pros" when appropriate. It remains to be seen if it'll have as positive impact or not. Thank you again!

MrsKlco in reply to iWife

Your so welcome!!

Hi! Along similar lines to MrsKlco - there is often a feeling of Mental Health 'stigma', and can be a tough nut for the individual to crack. But, if he is able to understand that ADHD is a 'neuro-chemical' condition and that you tell him that you understand that he is not behaving that way 'on purpose', it's happening due to neuro-chemical activity (which means it's often faster than one can think to stop it) he may see the condition from a different perspective. He may also be worrying - depression/anxiety is a very common bed-fellow to ADHD. If you can change his 'focus' away from Mental Health towards Neuro-Chemical activity, you might change his mind. Wishing you all the best, Mark

Hi Mark_in_Wales_CVA! Thank you for this reply! Since your comment, I decided to ask my husband a few questions about his apprehension/reservations towards getting tested and treated and he assured me that he wasn't concerned about being labeled re mention health stigma—that's at least what he said! He also blames me somewhat for simply, "not liking the way he does things!" So, I get the sense that there's some denial we're dealing with too. I'll definitely continue reading about ADHD and being ready to use positive language when speaking to him about it.

It's good that you are both able to discuss it and it's just going to be a matter of time. Maybe something else is if you know anybody else with ADHD - I'm sure you may have mentioned it to someone you know, if you're lucky you might eventually discover somebody in your friends/colleagues who has experience of it or has it. And it's possible he might be happy to open-up and discuss things with somebody else.

Hey! It took me a long time to get tested. One of my Ex’s was a therapist and she was the one who convinced me to do it. I felt kinda like less of a man in a way because I needed help to overcome my “problem” in life. But ultimately it was the fact that I was never really well educated on what ADHD does to my every day life.

You should give him a book called “Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain”

It helped me develop a different understanding of how ADHD affects not just me but many people in life! It’s a fun, easy to read book. I’d even recommend you read it! You will learn so many tools that you can use to help love him, encourage, and drive him to success! Not just that but it’s not even about getting on meds which if you haven’t talked to your husband about I’d say you should. It’s just about developing a routine in life that works for you and the ones around you.

Do you think your husband is more nervous that you or others will view him differently, that he may not want to ever take meds for it, or just that it’s a difficult thing to comprehend for him?

It was extremely difficult for me to reflect back on my life once I was diagnosed with adhd and see all the times where I could have had a different outcome had I known. But the people I love helped me through that and now I know I’m an amazing and talented person.

Best of luck to the both of you!

Let us know any updates!

iWife in reply to michael682

Hi Michael682! Thank you for taking time to share parts of your story. It really means a lot to get a sense of what a person with ADHD might be going through. To your point, I have to say that my husband isn't learning much about how ADHD effects his everyday life—and I'm not sure why. He'll be 42 in August and he just sounds like someone who is stuck in their ways, doesn't see how their behavior negatively impact their life, and is so often driven my impulses and excitement! Hence, slow to explore change in important areas BUT obsessive about researching new products to buy online.

I'll definitely save the name of the book you recommended and check it out after I finish the ADHD Effect on Marriage. Thank you! Faster Than Normal sounds very interesting actually! Especially, given that he has NO routine nowadays that he's unemployed and we're stuck at home a lot during the pandemic.

Thanks for asking those questions…I think my husband is less concerned about how others will view him but is having a difficult time comprehending it all. Lord, if he'd just get tested—I think I'd have more buy-in from him then. Right now (despite our disfunction) he still thinks its all speculative (from me and the therapist). Oh, except for the fact that when he was in graduate school for Education (which he stopped half way through to take a teaching job he no longer has) he learned about the accommodations available to students with learning disabilities and he thought it would've been nice to have some of those accommodations for himself in grad school!

michael682 in reply to iWife

I totally understand what you’re saying and boy does everything you’re saying take me back. I quit college because I couldn’t pass a few general classes. I took a test to see how I best learn and when I combine verbal instructions with hands on instructions I am able to remember stuff. Wish I had known that at the beginning of my college days. I also took a love language test with my SO. It helped us better understand how we can connect and serve each other. There are so many little things you can do with him that don’t have the associated name of ADHD or ADD. Ask your therapist for a few of them and do them together. I know you will make the right decisions and I hope he comes to the realization of what an amazing partner he has. It takes a lot to love and be loved when you’ve got ADHD.

I worked in special education with high school students, many of whom had ADHD. When my wife first brought up the possibility to me, I thought "I know ADHD looks like, and that isn't me." However, in adults it looks totally different than in children/teens.

Make it clear that in the interests of improving/saving your marriage, this is a non-negotiable to you. I was receptive to going for the testing itself, but given that those of us with ADHD frequently fail to see how much our behaviors negatively affect others, the psychologist told me that although I may have some attentional issues, that it was not enough to diagnose me with ADHD, which also meant no consideration of medication to help address my difficulties. I went back with my wife, and she was much better able to explain to the psychologist how my behaviors, verbally blurting out things that hurt her feelings and hence our marriage, etc. Once the psychiatrist heard things from the perspective of someone negatively impacted by my behaviors, she made the ADHD diagnosis and assisted with medication options and decisions.

Medication didn't magically fix everything, but it sure made some HUGE differences that iI feel helped save our relationship. It is also downright amazing how many people take medication for's just one of those things that nobody notices or knows about because it helps you function so much better. I was actually relieved to finally understand why I did some of the destructive things I did to our relationship. The more I learned about ADHD the better I understood many of the issues I've had difficulty in throughout life. I didn't get diagnosed until about age 58, and I sure wish I had found out sooner.

Best of luck!

iWife in reply to gphill56

Hi Gphill56! Thank you for sharing your experiences! Your story is relatable and encouraging. The part about how your wife's input was critical to the ADHD diagnosis is a valuable insight. I'll be sure to inquire about the whether or not my input could be included, before moving forward with whichever clinician we (hopefully) choose.

In addition to wanting the testing/treatment to improve/save our marriage…I'm concerned about my husband desperately wanting to jump at the next chance he sees to purchase an investment property. This would only happen by using my name because I've been working for 10 years at my job, have an eligible credit score, and I've saved some money prior to getting married. Your point about posing the testing/treatment as a "non-negotiable" is of great interest to me but it also seems hard to do now that we're already married—and only newlyweds at that! Would you think there is anyway to give the non-negotiable more weight? I've considered talking to his parents (as we have a great relationship) but I don't know if that's the right thing to do. I'm starting to feel like I can't get through to him on my own.

Please let me know what you think! Thank you again for taking time to share your story! I truly hope that my husband's turns out in a similarly positive way. :)

Does your husband even acknowledge that he might have ADHD? There are some simple screening tools online that are a just a series of questions and only take about 5 minutes. I googled "adult ADHD screening assessment" and found immediately. That was all it took for me to realize that what I thought was just "me" but was actually me with life problems almost positively related to ADHD. Maybe it would make him think "that sounds sort of like me" and reconsider his reluctance to testing. BTW, has anyone mentioned Awesome resource! If his parents are the people he is most likely to listen to, that may be a worthwhile shot, especially if they like you as a daughter-in-law and want you to remain in his (and their) life/lives. The therapist the two of you were/are seeing may have advice on how to best broach this with them. Keep us posted on here.

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