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09-01-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2017

Life With a Partner with ADHD: The Moderating Role of Intimacy

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2017
Shiri Ben-Naim, Inbal Marom, Michal Krashin, Beatris Gifter, Keren Arad


Adult attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) manifests itself through a variety of symptoms, some of which affect not only occupational and recreational activities but also intimate relationships. Previous findings have focused on the effects of adult ADHD on intimacy and relationships from the ADHD diagnosed person’s point of view. However, spouses of people with ADHD are a neglected population with regard to the effects that ADHD has on their romantic relationships. Our aim was to assess the effects of being married to a spouse with ADHD on marital relationships, and the moderating role of intimacy. We compared healthy spouses of people with ADHD to healthy spouses of healthy adults (M = 38.23, SD = 4.78) in their degree of self-reported intimacy and marital satisfaction. Our findings indicate that spouses of individuals with ADHD report significantly lower intimacy and lower marital satisfaction compared to spouses of individuals without ADHD. Moreover, our findings indicate that spousal reports about their degree of intimacy mediate the relationships between their spouses’ ADHD and their marital satisfaction. Results are discussed in relation to the broad implications that adult ADHD has for romantic intimacy. Our research addresses healthy partners married to a spouse with ADHD, suggesting that living with a partner with ADHD behaviors is challenging. ADHD symptoms negatively affect various qualities in the person experiencing them, but of equal importance is the damage occurring to his or her spouse. Implications for future research and recommendations for clinical work are suggested.

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