A few wives in our community recently asked for encouragement and resources regarding husband’s with ADD or Asperger’s. I do not have any personal experience with this type of situation so I reached out and asked the Unveiled Wife Community on Facebook for some help. It was a joy to see over 200 of you take the time to share your story and add some encouragement for wives enduring a similar situation.
One of the top comments on the thread that seemed to resonate with many other wives was by CJ:
Hubby with ADHD here. It’s difficult. I can get in the flesh quickly thinking that he’s forgetful, distracted, thoughtless, disorganized, zoned out, can’t sit still, plays too much, is selfish at times.
However, One thing is sure, he’s mine, he loves me and our children, supports me, helps when I ask, works incredibly hard, he’s funny and makes me laugh, gifts me…gratitude is what I use to gain prospective. God’s plan is at work, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Definitions according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD):
a syndrome of disordered learning and disruptive behavior that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder and that has several subtypes characterized primarily by symptoms of inattentiveness or primarily by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior (as speaking out of turn) or by the significant expression of all three —abbreviation ADD (ADHD is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
a developmental disorder resembling autism that is characterized by impaired social interaction, by repetitive patterns of behavior and restricted interests, by normal language and cognitive development, and often by above average performance in a narrow field against a general background of deficient functioning—called also Asperger’s disorder
Please keep in mind that these disorders and many more are on a spectrum where symptoms can vary – meaning one’s experience with a disorder can be different compared to another. This is important to keep in mind, but also know that despite the variables, people can still relate to each other in the overall challenges that persist with such disorders.
These definitions may provide a medical explanation of these disorders, however, a wife or a husband who live with a spouse with one of these disorders might have more to add to the definitions…they may have a more emotionally driven definition based on their experiences at home. From what I read of those who commented on the Facebook thread I posted, there were a few common experiences that wives shared.
Many of the wives who have husband’s diagnosed with either ADD or Asperger’s have encountered:
Loneliness – Feeling loneliness and emptiness in the marriage relationship due to the daily challenge and struggles that persist with these kind of disorders. The differences in personalities and needs between spouses can cause a seemingly chasm between the two.
Weariness – Dealing with the day in and day out encounters marked by the disordered, such as a spouse forgetting important events, dates or tasks, or even lack of attentiveness can cause a burden of weariness as spouses strive to understand the disorder and exercise patience with one another. Like any other struggle it can be draining and tiresome to face on a daily basis.
Taking Things Personally – A spouse who does not have one of these disorders may interpret the action or lack there of, of a spouse with one of these disorders the wrong way. Often times a spouse will take things personally not knowing that the intentions of their spouse were far from what they thought. This contributes to hurt feelings and even arguments.
Believing They Are At Fault – A spouse who does not have one of these disorders many believe they are at fault for the behavior of the spouse with one of these disorders, thinking it was because of something they did that caused a specific reaction. This guilt mentality is a broken one that also is a contributing factor for hurt feelings and even arguments.
Desire For More Romance – Due to the nature of these disorders, a spouse with one of these disorders may find it challenging to be attentive to their spouses needs, as well as having the focus to initiate intimacy on a regular basis. For this reason the other spouse suffers with a great desire for more romance in the relationship, contributing to the cycle of feeling lonely in their marriage.
Strain – There is overall strain on the marriage relationship due to the nature of a spouse having a disorder, both for the spouse struggling through the disorder and with the spouse trying to live in understanding with the spouse with the disorder. Overall strain can cause contention in other marital areas such as finances, decision making and parenting.
And these are just a few to add to the definitions! I am sure there are many more that one could add to really reveal how these disorders affect everyday life.
Among the concerns and cries I heard from wives, many also gave some great tips to help couples who are living with these disorders. Below is a list to encourage and help anyone with a spouse who has ADD or Asperger’s.
Tips For You:
Be Patient – According to Google, patience is the “capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Having patience with your spouse is vital. If you feel you are lacking in this area, do not hesitate to stop and pray right now asking God to give you more patience.
Keep The Environment Chaos Free – This includes noise and clutter. Over-stimulation can negatively affect a person with one of these disorders. Be willing to keep your home a place of peace and clarity for them. In doing so you are tremendously blessing and helping your family thrive.
Get Educated – Do your own research to understand the disorder your spouse is struggling with and apply the wisdom you discover. Never assume you know exactly what they are dealing with or how to go about helping them. In humility be willing to live in a constant state of learning and growing with your spouse. This includes attending seminars when available, reading books or online resources, and even attending doctor visits together.
Fast & Pray – Do not attempt to do anything without going before The Lord! You can fast and pray to focus more heart attention to the issues you are facing in faithfulness. For more information on fasting and prayer you can check out this article HERE.
Don’t take It Personally – When your spouse does not fulfill an expectation or does something that hurts you. Instead of taking it personally, be sure to communicate how it made you feel so that they are aware of the effects of their behavior, but also be willing to forgive and move on. Holding onto bitterness will cripple your marriage.
Make Lists – This is an easy solution that will bless your relationship in a huge way! Make lists for your spouse to help them better focus and complete tasks on time. Being willing to make lists or even repeat yourself often will help your spouse with ADD or Asperger’s to feel accomplished as they are able to do things with clarity and instructions guiding them. Otherwise their forgetfulness of lack of attentiveness will become a stumbling block for both of you.
Communicate Clearly – Be sure to clearly explain tasks or even how you feel to your spouse. Utilize speaking to them, but also technology such as texting or a whiteboard to communicate to your spouse. Communication is vital to every marriage, but for your marriage you may need to focus on how you can utilize the environment around you to help communicate better.
Have The Right Perspective – Having the right perspective can dramatically impact your marriage. Start each day by asking God to help you have a holy and righteous perspective, one that will help you understand how to best respond to your spouse throughout the day.
Be Kind – Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit and one that increases over time as you spend intentional time with God. Being kind to your spouse will honor God and bless your spouse. Be aware of your words and your body language.
Accept Your Spouse – Accept the fact that your spouse lives with a disorder and love them anyways. It is amazing how accepting the truth of your spouse’s condition helps your heart and mind have a better perspective about the whole situation. Remember we are to imitate Christ and love as He loves, which is unconditional. This is key to having a great marriage.
Focus on The Positive – Dwelling on the negative of your spouse will spiral your heart and mind out of control. Discontentment will take over your life and destroy the potential of having a thriving marriage. Instead focus on the positive. You may want to consider making this a daily habit of thanking God for specific qualities your spouse has, writing them down in a journal, telling your spouse what you love about them, or all three! By verbally acknowledging the positive, your heart and mind will follow a path of joy and contentment.
Diet & Exercise – These two key ingredients to life affect every person. However, a person who lives with a physical or mental disorder can be more sensitive to triggers that cause their symptoms to worsen. Research what types of food/ingredients affect your spouse, as well as what level of exercise they should be doing. Encourage them day in and day out by keeping them accountable and making changes yourself so that they are not journeying through diet and exercise on their own. A few areas to research first would be a gluten/casein free diet, using cod liver oil, cooking at home from scratch, avoiding artificial dyes and other toxic ingredients, avoiding sugar and junk food. Also a wife recommended researching the Feingold Diet.
Forgiveness & Grace – Extending forgiveness and grace as much as possible will go along way. Do not let offenses simmer in your heart. These are powerful gifts that when given reconcile hearts and heal in miraculous ways. If you struggle with forgiveness and grace I encourage you evaluate whether you struggle to receive these from God. If you refuse to receive them from God it will keep you from a truly intimate relationship with Him or your spouse, I know because I have been there!
Medication – Please do not assume either way whether medication is good or bad. Do your research with your spouse and come to an agreement on what type of treatment, if any, is necessary. Check into different options, read labels and side effects, be open to therapy, and consider natural options such as essential oils. Avoid putting your spouse and their needs in a box, instead invite God to show you both what path of treatment is needed.
I hope this helps you in your journey with a spouse with ADD or Asperger’s or any other similar disorder. I want to validate your hardships and emotional pain encountered because of such a trial, and I want to encourage you that you are not alone! There are many others who are facing the same types of struggles you are. Also know that your spouse will succeed in life because they have you supporting, encouraging, praying, and being there for them through thick and thin.
I am praying for you and your spouse, asking for God’s will to be done in you and through you! Below are a few of the comments from the Facebook thread and I highly encourage you to read what other’s are saying about this.
**Also, with the rise in ADD, Asperger’s and Autism, the generation being raised up right now, our children will face all of this mentioned in this article and more. I believe the next generation has a greater increase in either having one of these disorders or marry someone who does. Let us all compassionately and intentionally teach our children to be sensitive and understanding towards those who struggle with a disorder and encourage them that they can have a successful and thriving marriage regardless. It may be tough and require strong character to endure, but let us empower and train them they it can be done, and that loving unconditionally honors God!
A Few Online Resources For You:
Facebook Comments From The Unveiled Wife Community:
Husband with ADD
Bret: As an ex-husband with ADD, I do know that weakness can challenge a wife’s patience and tolerance. We all should seek greater power through fasting and prayer. But, I know God uses our spouses (and their weakness and struggles) as well to test our own faithfulness to sacred covenants and eternal principles.
Wife With ADD
Donna: I am a wife who has ADD. It’s very frustrating when others expect you to be someone you’re not. And very frustrating that I can’t change myself to be “normal.” Just remember that those with ADD have a brain that does not work the same as a “neurotypical brain.” Our brain works like a “Farari engine with bicycle brakes.” Fortunately, I am blessed with a husband who loves me unconditionally!
Courtney: Wife with ADD here…try as hard as you can to research it to develop some sort of understanding. Meds aren’t right for everyone but they have made a world of difference for me. Don’t rule out any option based on a philosophy or preconceived idea that something is inherently bad or good. We really don’t mean to be impulsive, distracted, and forgetful! It just happens!!
Dont Take It Personally
Rachael: My wonderful husband has ADHD and OCD. I am so imperfect, and find myself getting frustrated and losing my patience sometimes (especially when his OCD requires extra cleaning, extra showers, and inconvenient errands). I will say that I KNOW it is not his fault or his choice. So, I pray that God will continue to strengthen me and give me the grace and patience to be able to offer my husband SO much grace as he suffers with these issues. Also, I don’t ask too many questions or stress him out. It helps him that I am able to laugh off some of the things, sometimes just taking an extra shower rather than questioning him (because then he just feels crazy for explaining an irrational OCD moment). We are partners, and while I can’t take away his burdens, I pray that God will show me ways to make them lighter. Lastly, it brought me TONS of peace when I stopped taking it personally. His attitude, his reactions, his OCD, his ADHD…it isn’t my fault. I used to think I must have done something wrong. It’s an illness–it’s out of his control. And it’s not my responsibility to “fix it”, because I can’t. Rather, I am here as a lover and supporter in his good and bad days.
Amber: If he gets upset about something it can be pretty intense. Most of his emotions are more intense than most. There are many more stumbling blocks for him with ADD. The best thing I do for him is pray for him daily. I ask God to help him focus and do his job well and to help shield him from his emotions when they get too intense for him. I also ask God to help me not take things personally because many times my husband does things that really hurt me deeply and he doesn’t understand why. So I ask God to help me understand how my husband thinks and processes things. On top of praying and seeking God’s guidance and hand, I try to help my husband stay focused when he needs it and help him understand how better to express his feelings in our relationship. Thankfully I had ADHD as a child and had lots of therapy work instead of medication so I can help him work through things instead of just throwing my hands up and insisting on medication or anything like that.
Doreen: It is hard accepting the emptiness that comes along with an Asperger/ NT marriage. It is very lonely, and I’m too worn out to be all positive and whatever..it sucks..period.
Samantha: My husband has ADD and it was a great strain in the beginning of our relationship. He avoided eye contact, forgot our conversations, and would seem completely zoned out during important heart to heart talks. Yet when he played video games he could focus for hours. There was a lot of miscommunication and hurt feelings. I thought he just wasn’t interested, didn’t care enough to remember my favorite foods, and that he found other things more fun than me. It took a lot of open communication, for him to be aware of things he could work on that would make me feel included in his world, research on my part to seek understanding on this illness, and him getting back on medication for the things to be worked out. He still struggles with medication side effects like occasional headaches and crankiness when there is a lapse in medication. To be honest it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with an illness myself that I understood he didn’t choose this, he can’t control this and he’s more frustrated that he can’t multitask more than I am. I still get short tempered if he’s “cooking” and I find him in the basement doing laundry while things are burning on the stove but it’s much better than what it was. I used to blame him for it. Belittle him, make him feel stupid for not being able to remember things or retain information that he just read. It was frustrating, and often made me feel alone. Through prayer, and God softening my heart I learned to help my husband, not mock him. To nurture him and show him compassion rather than lose my temper. It’s a daily struggle but one that we’re both intentional on working on.
Lisa: I have been Married 35 years to ADD Husband with ADD children….I’m ADD with an ADD father and his father…it’s funny now but my husband did many things with big and small consequences that were extremely painful and unbelievably exhausting. Because I wanted what God wanted more than what I wanted for myself. The Lord lifted the Veil from my eyes and showed me how much he loved my husband by giving him to me, and if I wasn’t going to endure in love for him the Lord for sure loved him enough to find someone else who will!! We argue because we don’t get what we want and by lifting the blinders from our eyes we see how underserving we truly are of such a high calling. Your marriage isn’t a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes…thus running the race sometimes means carrying your family on your back with you making sure everyone crosses the finish line.
Dana: My husband has Aspergers. Sometimes it’s really hard because of the way his brain works. His stubbornness is a challenge to overcome. We have a deep love for each other and I can always feel that so it helps to keep us going. Sometimes I just wish he would be more romantic! When he says something randomly (and I do mean randomly) it warms my heart so much-one time it brought tears to my eyes. I love him and wouldn’t change him but asperger’s brings a whole other level to a relationship.
Jan: I would encourage you to investigate dietary interventions. My son had autism, and something as simple as going gluten free/casein free and taking a high quality multivitamin/mineral with cod liver oil has had amazing results. I would start small, because a lot of individuals on the spectrum have intense likes/dislikes for food. Lots of prayer, lots of reading, and lots of support.
Marcie: These men, just as do children, thrive best in a home environment that is NOT chaotic and cluttered. They need their visual stimulation kept at a minimum to promote calm and increase their ability to stay focused on whatever task is at hand. (for some, it’s visual and audio)
Melinda: My husband has a severe dyslexia issue (to the point he’s been on an IEP since he was 5, all the way up to his Master’s Degree). The few things I can say is PRAY for your husband, love him for WHO he is, don’t degrade him or make fun of him on account of his disability (we call it a gift in our home) and above all.. HELP him whenever possible! God gave him to you, he’s a gift! Treat him as such!
Michelle: Be patient and kind. Remember that you are not perfect either. When I get frustrated with my husband, I literally put myself in check by asking “what made me fall in love with him?” And I focus on those positives rather than negatives until I’m in a better attitude towards him.
Brittany: I encourage wives to REALLY study adult ADD so that they can better understand what their husbands are going through. It’s not easy for them just like it’s not easy for us. Learning about my husband’s condition was MY first step in learning to coup with it. Then sitting down with him and regularly having discussions about what he’s thinking and feeling also helped me to understand him. His way of thinking and processing information isn’t the same as mine. What might be simple or logical to me might not be to him. Its best to understand that AT ALL TIMES or else it can and will cause a lot of strain on the relationship. He’s been my best friend (literally) for 15 years. We dated for 4 years before getting married and have now been married for 2. I still struggle with it. I constantly need to remind myself that he can’t always help certain things nor can he even realize what he’s doing wrong. But ADD (or ADHD) does NOT define who he is or the wonderful man that he is for me. Be a blessing to your husband. God gave him YOU for a reason.
Rachael: I have to remind myself daily that my ADHD husband is fearfully and wonderfully made. He often beats himself up because he’s so forgetful and hates the constant mind fog that he feels like he’s in. More than anything, I am my husband’s cheerleader. My words of encouragement go a very long way for him.
Melissa: ACCEPT him for who he is. For better or for worse. It is something he has always had and its part of who they are. You cannot change him in this. LOVE him for ALL that he is. Its something he has had since childhood, and is nothing new. LOVE him and ACCEPT him. Tomorrow he may be gone. How I wish my husband, AND his ADHD ways were still here.
Taylor: My husband keeps a small notebook on him, so he can write down important things and tasks, so if he does lose focus, he has a reference. He’s chosen to be non medicated, and relies on God to fill the gaps and train his focus. He has ADD, as well as PTSD. But the MAIN thing that has helped, (other than trusting and following Jesus) is that he sets specific goals for himself, our family, and for things he wants to do to serve others. He’s come A LONG WAY.
Angel: It takes discipline, but focus in his gifts and what he CAN do and not what he can’t do. He’s not doing things on purpose to make you mad. The relationship is more important than unmet needs. We have to learn to let go of self and come alongside him. There was something that attracted you to him and often that is the very thing that ends up causing tension. Glean information. What works for one may not work for another. Just remember to focus on what he CAN do and realize he’s not doing it on purpose.
Jackie: When our oldest was diagnosed at age 5 so were my husband and myself. The most important thing to do is learn everything you can about ADHD. The best thing I did for my family and myself was learn how to cook. Diet does affect behavior and mind set! We stopped eating as much junk food as possible, read labels, and drank more water and milk. Research the Feingold Diet. Basically, if you don’t know what the ingredients are then don’t eat it. Limit sugar and dyes as much as possible. Cook from scratch. We found ways to get outside and exercise. Things like walking in parks and letter-boxing became our ways to relax. We just started a Tae Kwon Do class together. Most of all, be in your Bible daily and pray for your husband. God is amazing at answering the prayers of a believing wife for her husband! It’s true. I have seen it with my own eyes, sometimes the affect is immediate. Hugs to the wives of men with ADHD. They can be a handful but also fun and exciting. But it is up to you to keep them grounded when they go floating off. You can do this!
Chayann: When you look at him in that whirlwind state remember that what you see on the outside is MUCH worse for him on the inside. Compassion, grace, and forgiveness go a long way and the Lord will help you with all of it!