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ADHD

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7 tips for overcoming ADHD spouse burnout

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: May 22, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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Burnout can affect any relationship, but it’s an unusually common problem when you’re in a marriage with someone with ADHD. You might feel like your spouse is ignoring you, or find yourself the brunt of an out-of-nowhere angry outburst. Either can leave you with ADHD spouse burnout.

It can be difficult to try to navigate life with someone who suffers from diagnosed or undiagnosed ADHD because their challenges are your challenges too. And if you have ADHD spouse burnout, you can feel worn down. What do you do?

Start by checking out these 7 tips for overcoming ADHD spouse burnout. 

Treatment for ADHD symptoms is a click away.
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If you think or know your spouse is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, Klarity makes it simple to find and see an ADHD specialist and get fast, affordable in-person or online ADHD treatment. Your spouse can schedule an appointment on Klarity today, and start getting ADHD treatment from a psychiatric professional in as little as 24 hours. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a common neurobehavioral disorder that can last from childhood into the adult years. Approximately 4% of adults in the U.S. suffer from ADHD. In ADHD adults, it presents itself in a range of symptoms, so not everyone’s ADHD looks the same. The most common symptoms include: 

  • Trouble staying focused on routine tasks
  • Hyperfocus on interesting tasks
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Tendency to procrastinate
  • Poor time management
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Hot temper

There are 3 kinds of ADHD; inattentive, hyperactive, and combined.

  • Inattentive ADHD affects around 33% of adults and causes difficulty focusing and staying on task, even in mundane everyday activities.
  • Hyperactive ADHD affects a much smaller portion of adults, making up only 7% of all cases. It causes some inattention, but the most prevalent symptoms are hyperactivity and acting without thinking.
  • Combination ADHD is the most common kind of ADHD and is a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive ADHD. It affects around 60% of adults. 

An accurate diagnosis of the specific type of ADHD your spouse has will help make sure they get the most effective treatment. 

What is ADHD spouse burnout?

When one partner in a relationship has ADHD, it can create significant challenges for the non-ADHD partner. Common ADHD symptoms, such as distractibility, inattention, forgetfulness, restlessness, and impulsivity, can cause the non-ADHD spouse to feel increased frustration and annoyance. 

Over time, the non-ADHD partner may experience symptoms of ADHD spouse burnout, which can include:

  • Being angry at your spouse
    Resenting your spouse or your spouse’s lack of attention to you, the relationships, and everyday needs
  • Feeling lonely and or neglected and generally dissatisfied with the relationship
  • Feeling frustrated or stressed and/or like you’re carrying the bulk of the weight of the relationship or everyday needs

As burnout continues, you may become increasingly discouraged, feel lonely, get agitated and even end the relationship. Despite still feeling love for your partner with ADHD, dashed expectations and continued disappointment can override your willingness to stay in the relationship. It’s common to hear phrases like “I love them, but I can’t handle their behavior anymore. Nothing ever changes.”

It’s important to realize that ADHD is a lifelong disorder that requires accommodations. As a non-ADHD partner, you may feel a sense of helplessness and defeat, but there are ways to cope and respond in healthier ways. With help, you can find coping skills to manage your frustration and maintain the relationship.

If your partner is struggling with ADHD, helping them find accessible and affordable online treatment could be the first step toward better relations for both of you. On Klarity, your partner can find a compassionate provider and have an online appointment in as little as 24 hours.   

And there are things you can and should do to help yourself as well.

7 Tips to manage and avoid ADHD spouse burnout

1. Avoid parenting your ADHD spouse

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 number of ADHD symptoms, it’s easy for the other spouse to step in and assume the role of a parent. While this may be unavoidable, 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 a parental role, if only to make sure tasks get done, taking on the brunt of the responsibility can easily lead to 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

Try and understand that sometimes ADHD can cloud your partner’s self-awareness. For you, staying calm is the best way to handle your stress. Dealing with the frustration of living with someone with untreated ADHD can 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 steps to calm your anxiety and stress on an ongoing basis and before reacting to, for example, your spouse being hyper-focused 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. Or talk in-person or online with a mental health counselor who can help you find coping strategies. Simply discussing your frustrations with a compassionate listener can provide a great deal of relief.

Also, 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 your spouse’s ADHD, the better you can get through your day without experiencing ADHD spouse burnout.

4. Get enough sleep

When you’re feeling ignored or doing more than your fair share of household duties with seemingly no reward, your sleep can suffer. There may not seem to be enough hours in a normal day to get everything done, or you may go to bed angry. Insomnia or 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. And stress and other factors can prevent you from sleeping at night even if you’re tired.

5. Find support

It’s tough to go it alone, especially when your spouse has unmanaged ADHD. Finding support can help prevent or mitigate burnout and lead to a happier marriage. Support can come in many forms. It can be as simple as calling a friend or relative who understands or can list to what you’re going through.

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. Discussing 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 if you can. 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 get ADHD treatment

Dealing with untreated ADHD can make every day seem like climbing a mountain, 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 receiving an ADHD diagnosis could be a relief, as it answers many questions you may both have. You may be able to finally understand what you’re both going through.

There are many forms of ADHD treatment, and an accurate diagnosis is the first step in finding the right approach for your spouse. If your spouse is dealing with common ADHD symptoms or lesser-known ADHD symptoms, encouraging them to get a professional assessment can be a good place to start. If an ADHD diagnosis is made, your spouse can get treatment with ADHD medication, therapy, or both.

7. Take care of yourself

You may be so wrapped up in taking care of your ADHD spouse that you’ve forgotten to take care of yourself. It pays dividends to take stock of what you’re managing on an everyday basis and practice self-care.

Take a relaxing walk. Read a book. Binge your favorite show. Go out to dinner. Eat dessert. Get a massage or have a spa day. Whatever you do to self-indulge, be sure to do it regularly, even if only once a week or month. You’re dealing with a burden — accept that and take care of yourself so you can avoid or better manage ADHD spouse burnout.

Connect your ADHD spouse with fast, affordable treatment today

Helping your spouse find treatment and relief from their ADHD symptoms can give you and your marriage the opportunity both deserve to thrive. Klarity makes it easy for your ADHD spouse to get the treatment they need to more in control and improve your relationship.  Have your spouse book an appointment on Klarity today. Or book one for yourself and practice some self-care too.

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