Marriage and ADHD: 3 Tips for Diffusing arguments

I’m writing about something extra personal today:  my marriage.  Marriage is hard no matter how you slice it.

Putting two different personalities, sets of values, lifestyles, histories, upbringings, morals and points of view together for eternity is really, REALLY difficult.


If you’ve found someone with similarities in 2 or 3 of those areas you probably have a fighting chance (values and morals, in my case).


Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

Not to sound cliche, but communication and putting your partner first is key.  One thing about adult ADHDers like me, who learned of their condition much later in life, is that we’re not the best communicators.  Since my diagnosis, I’ve been better able to understand myself and communicate my needs.

When you get your “why” in life, it’s a lot easier to figure out the how.  Put a  working inattentive in command of a household with 3 young children, a hyperactive type husband with 2 jobs, and an eldest with the combined condition and you could very well have a recipe for disaster.


Luckily, there is something both my husband and I have that’s got our backs through the tough stuff:  faith.  We know we’re supposed to be together.  We know there is no other option.

Take our latest battle:  The battle of the band shoes.  I ignited the fuse for this bomb.  Here’s the scene:  I forgot to buy black shoes for my son’s band concert and it’s in 1 hour.  Also, my eldest is on the rampage from his latest medication trial so he’s slammed the door on my youngest son who is crying in a heap.  Add to that my 2 year-old has colored her own outfit with markers and WE’RE SUPPOSED TO LEAVE FOR THE BAND CONCERT!


Fortunately, folks, we won’t get divorced over this.  I’m not going to hate my husband because he lost his temper.  I refuse to keep the argument going, becoming defensive about my forgetfulness.  All that venom equals 2 unhappy parents.

Newsflash people:  Children who have unhappy parents, may become unhappy themselves.  That is NEVER the goal.  


Here are 3 tricks I use to put out the battle blazes before they become uncontrollable (these could also be adapted for parent/child arguments):


  1. Diffuse the situation.  Don’t RESPOND.  Stay quiet and listen to the person without thinking of response or reason to defend yourself.  I listened as my husband fumed about forgetting the shoes when the concert had been on the calendar for 3 weeks.
  2. Say you’re sorry (if you mean it) and work on a solution.  A fake apology just makes the situation worse. I apologized for forgetting the shoes and located my son’s black chucks (which would just have to do).
  3. Start moving towards the next thing.  I took my 4 year-old upstairs to pack “snacks” for the concert.  My husband then lugged my son’s music stand up the basement stairs and changed our daughter.  Once I’ve started moving forward, he does, too.  And that works both ways.   Many times I’m the one who’s dragging her feet because I’m upset.


My husband, A, and me. We were not arguing in this photo.

As most couples together for 10 years or longer will tell you, there’s a learning curve when it comes to marriage.  A marriage between two ADHDers may be harder than most, but faith in your relationship will keep it stronger than ever.  Here’s to less hurt and more solutions during and after arguments.

What are your tips for ‘saving face’ in an argument?  Is it harder to solve problems when the emotions of ADHD take hold?  How do you work together with your partner or child?

Published by Family ADDventures

Nicole Santiago is a learning specialist, student advocate, and founder of Family ADDventures. As a specialist, she assesses and teaches clients (adults and adolescents) to manage and grow their executive functioning skills which include emotional regulation, task initiation, and time management. As an advocate (IEP coach), she is a member of COPAA and ensures inclusive (special) education students receive the most appropriate educational services possible. She often collaborates with OT's, SLP's and neuropsychologists all in the name of student improvement and success. Her practice is located in San Antonio, TX, and everywhere (virtually). The author grew up an army brat and spends time with her three ND children and husband in Puerto Rico whenever possible. She writes about mental health, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship on her blog:

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