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PICTURES: 11 Warning Signs of an "ADHD Marriage"

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How do you know if your partner has ADHD? (istockphoto) istockphoto

(CBS) Melissa Orlov knows a thing or two about the toxic effect ADHD can have on a marriage - and not because she's a psychologist.

She knows about the alienation, frustration and ceaseless disagreements from first-hand experience.

For the past 21 years, Orlov, a mother of two who lives near Boston, has been married to a man with ADHD, a.k.a. attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. She says the marriage is strong now that her husband, George, is getting treatment to control symptoms of the common disorder, which can make people impulsive and easily distracted.

PICTURES: 11 Warning Signs: Does My Partner Have ADHD?

But Melissa and George went through a long rocky patch - including times when they "were both so lonely and miserable that we turned elsewhere for comfort," she told CBS News in an email.

The big problem  was that neither Melissa nor George knew that he had ADHD until six years ago.

That's not surprising, since ADHD is often thought of as a problem that strikes only children. In fact, studies suggest that up to 7 percent of adults have ADHD, according to Orlov. And one study showed that couples affected by ADHD are twice as likely to divorce as other couples.

That was one bullet Orlov manage to dodge - if only barely.

"Undiagnosed ADHD symptoms, and my responses to those symptoms, were literally destroying our marriage," she told CBS News. "Our marriage was completely dysfunctional, and we were on the verge of divorce before we came to understand that we could approach our seemingly intractable issues from a new and much more productive direction - treating the ADHD and learning new ways to work together that took it into account."

Orlov, the author of the newly published book "The ADHD Effect on Marriage," is quick to point out that people with ADHD can make great spouses.

But not if both spouses are in the dark about the diagnosis.

Could your spouse have ADHD? See the 11 warning signs.

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