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Unlocking the Neuroscience of Motivation for ADHD Couples

Updated: Jan 20

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Recently, I came across a brief yet enlightening YouTube video by Andrew Huberman, a renowned neuroscientist, where he discusses maximizing dopamine and motivation. It proved exceptionally relevant, providing insights into why certain approaches, like criticism and nagging are not effective while encouragement and praises works with ADHD spouses. Therefore, I'd like to share my thoughts with you, as they may assist you and your partner in creating a more thriving relationship.

Who is Andrew Huberman?

Andrew Huberman is a distinguished neuroscientist and a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University School of Medicine. Focused on the neural mechanisms underlying vision, attention, and consciousness, Huberman's work has earned widespread recognition. His engaging and informative approach to neuroscience has made him a sought-after speaker and educator. Through platforms like YouTube, Huberman shares his wealth of knowledge, making complex scientific concepts accessible to a broader audience.

Summary of the Video:

Huberman's video delves into the neuroscience of dopamine, highlighting its role in motivation and craving beyond mere pleasure. The discussion unfolds through an enlightening rat experiment, demonstrating how dopamine propels the desire to pursue rewards. In a world saturated with constant pleasures, particularly through social media, the video explores the impact of overindulgence on motivation. It introduces the concept of self-regulation, emphasizing the need for internal buffers to counter modern challenges. The dynamic balance between pain and pleasure is explored, revealing that overcoming challenges can amplify dopamine rewards.

Why is this information relevant for ADHD couples?

At a high level, the video explains the basics of dopamine and motivation through examples and scientific experiments shared by Huberman. When combined with the known fact from scientific research that people with ADHD often have at least one defective gene (DRD2), making it challenging for neurons to respond to dopamine—the neurotransmitter involved in feelings of pleasure and attention regulation—it explains why it's difficult to motivate our ADHD spouses in activities they don't enjoy.* It also sheds light on overindulgence in activities like social media, video games, alcohol, drugs, etc., commonly experienced by non-ADHD spouses.

Key Lessons for ADHD Couples:

Lesson No. 1: Recognize that dopamine is a key motivator in pursuing rewards.

Relevance for the non-ADHD Spouse: Understanding the motivational aspect of dopamine can help the ADHD partner feel supported and encouraged in their pursuits.

Lesson No. 2: Be mindful of overconsumption of stimuli and its impact on motivation.

Relevance for ADHD Spouse: For individuals with ADHD, managing stimuli and maintaining focus can be particularly challenging. The ADHD brain often seeks stimulation, and excessive exposure to various stimuli, such as social media, video games, porn, etc., can lead to sensory overload. By avoiding excessive indulgence, like taking fast from these stimulation, enlisting spouse's support, can better regulate their attention and motivation, enhancing their ability to engage in meaningful activities and connect with their non-ADHD partner.

Relevance for Non-ADHD Spouse: Acknowledging the potential consequences of overindulgence can help the non-ADHD partner support their ADHD spouse in maintaining a balanced approach.

Lesson No. 3: Cultivate self-regulation skills and share knowledge within the relationship.

Relevance for ADHD Spouse: Self-regulation is a crucial skill for individuals with ADHD, as it empowers them to navigate challenges effectively, allowing you to experience wins that matters to you and your spouse. The ADHD brain often faces difficulties in impulse control and managing distractions. Cultivating self-regulation skills involves developing strategies to stay focused, resist impulses, and regulate emotions. For the ADHD spouse, acquiring and practicing these skills can lead to increased productivity and a more balanced engagement with stimuli. Additionally, sharing knowledge about their specific challenges and strategies with their non-ADHD partner fosters understanding. It opens channels of communication, allowing both partners to collaboratively navigate and support each other in the journey of managing ADHD-related aspects within the relationship.

Lesson No. 4: Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and increased dopamine release.

Relevance for ADHD Couple: In the context of ADHD relationships, embracing challenges takes on added significance. For the ADHD individual, tasks that may seem routine to others can become potential sources of anxiety and stress. Recognizing challenges as opportunities for growth reframes the narrative. Jointly overcoming challenges not only strengthens the bond between both partners but also triggers an increased release of dopamine.

Putting it All Together for ADHD Couples:

By integrating these lessons into the fabric of your relationship, ADHD couples can create a synergistic approach to understanding and supporting each other. Recognizing the motivational power of dopamine, navigating the impact of constant indulgence, cultivating self-regulation skills, and jointly embracing challenges contribute to a foundation of mutual understanding and connection. This holistic understanding of motivation, as presented by Andrew Huberman, can serve as a catalyst for growth, fulfillment, and resilience within the unique dynamics of ADHD marriages.


Andrew Huberman's video provides ADHD couples with a valuable lens into the world of motivation within ADHD marriages. By internalizing the lessons on dopamine, constant indulgence, self-regulation, and the balance between pain and pleasure, we can embark on a journey of better understanding and supporting our ADHD partners. This newfound knowledge has the potential to strengthen the foundation of our relationships, creating a more fulfilling and connected marital experience.

Like more insights like this?

I created this blog site as a centralized resource hub dedicated to providing support, resources, and motivation for those navigating the unique aspects of ADHD couples. Be the first to get first-hand insights, access upcoming ADHD couples training, enriching courses, and reviews to help you in every stage of your ADHD relationship journey. Skip hours of scouring the web for help — get it all at your fingertips by subscribing to our blog.

*Blum K, Chen AL, Braverman ER, et al. Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and reward deficiency syndrome. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2008;4(5):893-918. doi:10.2147/ndt.s2627 URL


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