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For Men with ADHD Who Aren't Convinced it Matters

I’m spending quite a bit of time these days thinking about how to get men with ADHD to realize that their ADHD affects those around them more than they think.  At least two men I can think of who have ADHD say they wish someone (other than their wives) had “hit them upside the head” with information that would convince them that their ADHD was causing real problems.  They could have saved themselves divorce (in both cases),  many personal problems and saved their wives a great deal of hurt.  So here’s one attempt at doing just that – providing an outside voice that says “pay attention”.  I would be interested in your feedback:

For Men with ADHD Who Aren’t Convinced it Matters

Do you feel as if your wife spends a lot of time blaming you and your ADHD for your marital issues?  Does she nag you all the time?  Suggest that you’re no good or never help her?  Perhaps she’s claimed that you don’t love her, even though you know that’s not true.  Are you frustrated because you are successful at work, but can’t seem to get a break from your wife at home?

Did your wife used to be fun but now she’s just tired and complaining all the time – just a “stick in the mud”?

Do you wonder what happened to the woman you married?  Does the disappearance of your “old wife” make you sad or angry?

If you are experiencing any of these things, then it’s likely that ADHD is getting in the way of your marriage.  And getting in the way much more than you might think or may be willing to admit at this point.

But wait, you say.  You’re describing issues with my WIFE, not me.  But I ask you to stay with me, and hear me out.  I’ve studied ADHD-affected relationships for quite a while now, and know a lot about them.

This may be a touchy subject because you are probably having arguments with your spouse right now about who is to blame for all of your marital issues.  I would urge both of you to put aside trying to blame a PERSON and, instead, both turn to blaming ADHD symptoms.  The reason to do this?  It more accurately reflects your situation.  If you are like most men with ADHD you don’t realize it, but after you got married your behavior changed because of ADHD.  Under the pressure that those symptoms put on your wife, she changed, too.  You can’t see this clearly right now (or at least may not be able to see the whole effect) because of the specific wiring of the ADHD brain.  But that effect is there.  It’s like a black hole.  You can’t see it, but you know it’s there because things around it act differently.  Same with ADHD.  You may not know its effect is as great as it is…but people around you act differently – most importantly, your wife.

If you’re not too sure yet about whether I know what I’m talking about, here are the specific symptoms which cause the most pain and problems in a marriage.  You and your wife are experiencing the effects of at least some of them.

  1. Distractibility
  2. Impulsivity or “Inability to “put on the brakes”” – financially, in conversations
  3. Defensiveness and anger
  4. Inability to accurately assess emotional cues

DISTRACTIBILITY is the #1 criminal here.  The ADHD symptom – inattention- leads to a wide variety of BIG problems.  First and foremost, when a man with ADHD is distracted and always off doing other things, his wife feels unloved and taken for granted.  Love is about attention – his distraction says “I don’t love you”, even though he’s not aware of it.

Further, distraction leads to an inability to complete basic tasks around the house.  At first a non-ADHD spouse (particularly a wife) compensates for her husband’s distraction by taking over what needs to be done, but she ends up feeling like a slave.  So she turns into a nag – because “turning up the volume” on her requests for help is the only way she can get attention when he’s so distracted.  Or she throws a fit or gets angry.  Same concept.  Sometimes her nagging works – he focuses enough and does some work, but he’s not happy, and it’s a pyrrhic victory for her, too.  And it’s not a permanent solution – she has to nag again later to get more done, which is a very vicious cycle, as I’m sure you’re aware.

Another distractibility issue?  Doing things on time – if you have ADHD it’s just too easy to lose track of time when so much is always going on…so bills don’t get paid, or you’re late getting home, or you can’t get to parties on time, or you forget to pick up the kids at school, or you don’t make the parent/teacher conference…  You may not see being late as a real issue – and if you didn’t have other issues in your marriage, it might not be.  But if you’re not actively working with your spouse to mitigate ADHD symptoms, then ALL symptoms become a problem – they work together to make everything worse for the non-ADD spouse and for the marriage.

IMPULSIVITY is particularly hurtful in the financial arena.  Not all ADHD spouses have this issue, but there are many instances when an ADHD spouse’s family finances are in ruins because they bought toys instead of paid the utility bill, or had a spending addiction (EBay, anyone?), or they quit their job without having another in hand.  Yes, one can give reasons why this might be the habit (from “I deserve it” to “I pay less on EBay than I would in a store” and more) but if you recognize this issue, it’s an ADHD symptom, NOT something else.  And, yes, it’s hurting your marriage because having financial problems while married to a person whom you can’t trust to reign in their spending causes huge emotional stress.

Impulsivity also hurts in the area of communication.  How many times can a man blurt out something mean (apologizing tomorrow…or maybe not apologizing at all) before his wife no longer wants to communicate with him constructively?  He may justify his words as “just being honest” but she’s hurt.  After a while, she’ll think “Why bother?  Why not just fight back?”  And how many times can he interrupt her without sending the message that his point of view is just plain more important than hers?

INABILITY TO READ EMOTIONAL CUES  If your wife complains that you interrupt her too much, believe her.  One of the symptoms of ADHD is that you don’t “see” what you are doing very well without training yourself in special ways to do so.  She might be saying she’s unhappy.  Believe her – she really is.  She might say she feels lonely (even if you don’t).  She is.  You can’t pick up what she’s saying “between the lines” very well unless she’s screaming at you (in which case her anger isn’t really between the lines at all!)  This has to do with brain wiring – it’s not a deliberate attempt to misunderstand on your part.  But your inability to pick up on all she is saying and its importance for how she feels puts you at a disadvantage.  To neutralize this disadvantage you have to trust she’s being honest with you when she describes her pain.  Trust the scientific studies that show that people with ADHD don’t read emotional cues well, and don’t respond to these cues adequately when they do read them.

DEFENSIVENESS is a standard way to manage ADHD problems.  So many people have said over the years that people with ADHD need to do better, and lay problems at their feet (marital problems, work problems, school problems, etc) that it seems it just can’t be so.  People with ADHD are a good people trying to do their best (okay, there are a few bad apples, but that isn’t their ADHD)…so they develop a coping strategy that works pretty well when lots and lots of problems come their way – they become defensive.  If they’re defensive enough (or aggressive enough) and able to deflect the problem, the problems will often just go away because no one wants to deal with fighting through that defensiveness.  It works when you’re a kid, because no one is invested enough to “stick with you”.  But once you’re married you’re STUCK…by contract.  Which means defensiveness doesn’t deflect problems effectively anymore.  All it does is distance husband and wife.  He, in his defensiveness, becomes inapproachable.  She ends up with nowhere else to go, so she pushes harder, and harder, and harder.  Lots of anger – in both spouses – ensues.  She’s PISSED he won’t deal with the issues.  He’s PISSED she won’t leave him alone.

All of this complexity – and all of these hard feelings – are the result of ADHD symptoms.  Yes, the person with the ADHD is the starting point for all of this pain.  And, unfortunately, he is the only one who can alleviate it accepting his ADHD is hurting his relationship and then addressing the symptoms.  Has the wife contributed?  Sure.  Sometimes a whole lot.  But the ROOT CAUSE of the issues is ADHD symptoms.  The ONLY way to get rid of the problems is to address the root cause.

Is your wife a nag now?  Yep.  Is she angry?  Probably.  Is she considering leaving?  Very possibly, even if you aren’t aware of it.  Does it feel as if she’s punishing you sometimes, making you sometimes want to punish her back?  Probably.  But just as you don’t deserve to be punished for the unfortunate fact that you have ADHD, she doesn’t deserve to be punished for her natural response to your ADHD.  Your symptoms are making her life oh so much harder than it has to be.  Put the shoe on the other foot.  You’d be really angry if someone had something that was treatable and refused to take it seriously enough to treat it and your life fell apart as a result.  Particularly if that person vowed to love and protect you for life.

Don’t believe she’s right?  Think she’s just complaining?  Can’t understand why the soft, wonderful, organized, caring woman you used to love has disappeared?  Does it all feel unfair?  Well, it is unfair – ADHD is a biological fact and that isn’t fair at all.  But you can either take charge of what biology has handed you (just as you would take responsibility for a heart condition you’ve had since childhood) or you can continue to let your ADHD symptoms create misery for those around you.

And here’s the real kicker.

Women whose husbands are currently resisting taking full responsibility for treating their ADHD feel that their husbands are highly responsible for the problems in their marriage.  This angers them and they show it.  Women whose husbands have taken control of their ADHD – and who have allowed their wives to work with them on their ADHD issues - are much more likely to admit that yes, they too had a pretty big role in their marriage problems.  They back off, and start working on their own issues (anger, etc), too.

Take real control of your own problems, and your wife will take control of hers. 

You may not feel like you are in crisis right now – you’ve spent your entire life putting coping strategies of various sorts in place so that you can move forward day to day.  You may even be really successful in your job, even if you aren’t currently successful in your marriage.  You MAY even think that you are successful in your marriage.  Lots of men with ADHD (my husband included in his first marriage) are absolutely SHOCKED when their wife asks them for a divorce.  Just didn’t see it coming.

If your wife has shown you this post, trust that your marriage is in more trouble than you understand, and that your trouble is the direct result of your ADHD symptoms.  You can get them under control so that your marriage doesn’t disintegrate further and, in fact, starts to be fun again.  FUN – REALLY!!!  You CAN have a marriage that both you and your wife enjoy being part of.

Don’t hide from this or downplay the issue.  Statistically, if you have ADHD it is more likely than not that your marriage is actually clinically dysfunctional.  But because of the nature of ADHD, those dysfunctional marriages can be changed with effective treatment.

If you don’t believe you have ADHD, it’s easy to find out.  Go get a full evaluation from a psychiatrist who knows what they are doing.  Then you’ll know – one way or the other.

You have NOTHING to lose and a HUGE amount to gain by saying to yourself “I owe it to myself and to my family to fully treat my ADHD and start to relieve the pressure it puts on us all”.  If you are unsuccessful, you are no worse off than you are right now.  If you don’t try, your marriage will most likely get worse or fail.  (Do you know that people with ADHD are twice as likely to be divorced as people who don’t have ADHD?  That’s how miserable their symptoms make those around them…)  And treatment doesn’t mean “trying harder”…

Good treatment consists of two simultaneous approaches – physical changes and behavioral (habit) changes.  The first group includes things like taking medications, taking fish oil, exercising (which changes chemical flows in your brain), LENS therapy and more.  The second is changing habits that you’ve developed over the years.  Some examples – improving organizational skills, learning to have conversations in which both parties listen better, finding ways to remember things longer, mindfulness training.

Meds alone won’t do it.  And you can’t address the habits side without the physical changes (there’s a reason they became habits – you have trouble doing them other ways).  “Trying harder” doesn’t work.  “Doing differently” works.  And in this case – doing differently means something VERY specific - doing both sides of treatment.

Take a chance that I’m right.  Take a leap of faith that the science is right and even though you can’t see it, your ADHD affects those around you more than you realize.  Think about your wife’s changed behavior over the years and that black hole.  ADHD is there – and it’s changing the behaviors of those around you.  While she (and you) can make temporary adjustments, the root cause of her behavior is untreated ADHD symptoms.  Only addressing the root cause will affect lasting change.  Treat the ADHD symptoms (fully, from both sides of treatment) so that you - and those you love - can live a life you love living.  It’s worth it for all of you.

Comments

I have had ADHD most of my

I have had ADHD most of my life and never really thought much beyond the inability to sit still and focus. A few years ago I decided after getting into serious problems with work that I would consider taking some medication, I had a terrible reaction to it and stopped and never went back on it. I started self-medicating with gross amounts of caffeine but that started to have severe impacts on my health and overall well being. Late last year I went back to the psychiatrist and he prescribed a new medication that I have been on sense then. I really enjoyed the clarity it was giving me to silence all of the thoughts and be able to focus and complete tasks. I noticed however, that I was also calmer and less paranoid. I never thought much about that until I started reading the posts on this site and realized all of the issues that I have had over these 30+ years are related to ADHD.
Lately the medication does not seem to work anymore and I am back to my old grumpy self with the same old issues creeping up. I work from home so I do not really get out and I have to be forced to go out at times. When I am out or around people I am not happy or even very relax. My brother-in-law’s sister visited me the other day to talk with me about what she is seeing and telling me that if I do not get some help that I may lose everything.
That got me to thinking a lot; I am getting nervous as my wife has put up with a lot of stuff from me money issues, infidelity and such. She is realizing that she shouldn’t have to put up with all of this after over 10 years of marriage or have our 2 year old be subjected to all of this either. I do not know what to do as I feel like I have tried in the past and either never followed through, failed or something did not work. It is starting to make me depressed and almost like I want to run away from this all.
Reading these posts are starting to give me the confidence to seek out help, I just hope that I can find the right person the first time. The last time I had to get a refill was from a new doctor because we moved and they did not really want to help or even know much about what I was going through or the side-effects I was having.

try to find a neuropsychiatrist

arwen's picture

Elewis, you don't say whether your previous doctor was a neuropsychiatrist or a general psychiatrist -- in general, a neuropsychiatrist knows a lot more about ADD than an general psychiatrist does, and will have greater knowledge about medications.  Please try to find yourself a neuropsychiatrist to work with!!  This is the kind of doctor my husband sees, and my husband has needed various adjustments in his medications over the years.  When he first started, he was on Ritalin only -- then he started getting depressed and it didn't seem to work as well, so his doctor added Prozac.  Then my husband started having blood pressure problems, so they fiddled with his meds some more.  About five years ago, we realized my husband also has Seasonal Affective Disorder, so we've also tweaked his meds a couple of times in recent years to help deal with that.  Each time, there has been a real improvement in my husband's overall mental and physical health.  The neuropsychiatrist understood what kinds of medications were likely to work well together, and what would likely be helpful to my husband.  So, the point is, anytime you feel your meds aren't doing everything you need, you should see your neuropsychiatrist and discuss the situation with him/her.  Please get the help you need, asap!!

I was seeing a pyschiatrist

I was seeing a pyschiatrist but we recently moved across country so I was forced to go to a GP so I can get a refill. He seemed more interested in changing me a drug he liked even thought I had a really bad reaction to it. He just wrote me a script for what I am currently taking and something for migraines (only reason I had those was because I had not been eating right and had a lot of stress). I am worried about switching medications as I have noticed some bad withdrawal symptoms when I have stopped taking the Vyvanse. I am currently just trying to make it through each day without dropping any of the balls in the air so that is my execuse to day no time. I know I need to get help it is just the fear I guess that is stopping me. I am going to look up neuropsychiatrist that accept my insurance today.

Thank you

I understand your wife's pain

First let me say, I can't imagine how hard it is to live with ADD symptoms. But, I do know how hard it is to be the spouse. We are not perfect. And I used to pray for humility. Because I thought I was the problem. I wasn't humble. I wasn't understanding? Last year I took steps to deal with my high emotions. And what I learned....brains can change. Our brains are amazing. They can learn new tricks, new habits, and we can learn how to "talk ourselves down" from those ugly places and get unstuck. It just takes the work to re-learn new habits. And my husband thought, well if you get fixed all my problems will go away. Which isn't true. The ADD symptoms are still there. 

And like you posted, I had to deal with lies (some little white ones, some big ones), frustration, defensiveness, impulsivity, lack of attention, infidelity, etc....everything you live with I am sure all ADD people live with. And I have compassion, but it is so hard to be the spouse. So hard to feel like (feelings are fickle, they change, but in the moment they seem real) you aren't good enough, you don't matter, you aren't worthy of hard work. But, that is what comes across. 

I love my husband enough that I did the work on myself. Now it's time for him to step up and see the bigger picture. Maybe my emotional mind grew worse because I don't understand ADD. And I can't understand it, but that doesn't make me hateful, unloving, and without compassion. It just means he needs to tackle the symptoms. All people living with ADD are more than their symptoms. Just have to step up, own it, and tackle it. As Melissa so tactfully puts it....blame it on the ADD symptoms, but do the work. I hope you are in a better place? It would give me great peace to know that people can get to a better place with hard work. Because I know I have a part in this....and I own my part, will always work on my part, but time to conquer the symptoms. ADD should not control you. It can be tamed. Peace.

"easy to find out"

Excellent article. But this frustrated me:

"If you don’t believe you have ADHD, it’s easy to find out.  Go get a full evaluation from a psychiatrist who knows what they are doing."

As far as I know, a full psych evaluation costs thousands of dollars. Does anyone have any recommendations for those of us who can't self diagnose with confidence, but don't have that kind of money to spend on a full eval?

 

 

Getting an Eval for less $

Some hospitals and research organizations do studies in which they need people with ADHD.  Part of those is a full evaluation - free. 

Those are very local, though.  If you're in Boston or NY you're more likely to find a study at the local college or hospital than if you're in a rural area.

You have some questions to ask yourself, relative to your financial situation.  What is your health worth to you?  What are your various options?  Can you just "augment" your current medical support system?  A good internist can diagnose you with the basics.  You can read Delivered from Distraction (which has the official diagnostic questions and also a number of others) to get a good feel for if you might have ADHD, then go to your regular doc and talk about it and, if it seems likely, may be able to get a prescription.  You should also talk with him/her about whether you might also have anxiety, depression or sleep issues.  An important next step would be to insist that you can go back and talk with the doc regularly (every three months at first) about how the meds are and aren't helping you because tweaking ADHD meds almost always is needed.  But your treatment doesn't end there.  It also needs to include behavioral therapy, counseling or other things that get at changing habits you've developed.  Coaches can help with that (though MANY ADHD coaches have ADD themselves, which can be very problematic if they aren't good on follow up) as can groups (usually cheaper than individual therapy) etc. and some resources by phone.

Getting a full eval is the easiest way, and the most direct.  But it's not the only way to get treatment.  If you go the other route, though, make sure that you get in all the steps.  Your spouse can help you track this, if you are willing to let him or her.

Does that help?

Driven to Distraction was an

Driven to Distraction was an excellent suggestion! It has two assessments that are very accurate!   It has a general questionnaire and one used by Dr's. It pinpointed even the tinniest details, like the fact that my ADD'er husband is ambidextrous.  It will absolutely tell you if you have ADD/ADHD.  I borrowed it from the library.  Good luck to you!

Delving into ADHD

I forgot to mention that a first step can be to read "Delivered from Distraction" or "Driven to Distraction".  They both list the traits of ADHD and many say they "saw" themselves for the first time in the pages of these books.  That could start the conversation and is free - just go to your library.  :-)

Men with ADHD Who Aren't Convinced It Matters - teleclass topic

Hi Melissa My husband and I listened to your teleclass on ADDclasses.com about Anger and Frustration in an ADD marriage.

He finally realized that other couples have the same cyclical problems caused by ADD attributes.  He has agree to fight the ADD now and stop fighting with me (for the most part, early days yet).

My request is that you create a teleclass on the topic of men/women with ADD who do not realize the effect it has on their relationships, similar to your recent blog post.

I like the point form method, listing how ADD attributes contribute to problems, which could be included in a handout as well.  The teleclasses have been a godsend for us as my husband does not read but he can pay attention to a 3/4 hour class.

I have been considering your words to ADD partners and not taking my husband's apparent cluelessness personally.  I have been more able to stay calm.  But I am asking each time for tangible evidence for change.

I have told him that I do not want to be a dupe of ADD and have it jump out at me again.  Or if it does, I need to be able to name it and stop the cycle if he can't.

I have the courage to get in the car and drive away if he starts to get angry.

Thanks for helping partners be more compassionate.  I feel I have grown a lot by being in this relationship. Your advice has reinforced my own path.

Consider another teleclass and know we are listening.  Thanks.  Karen

ps I think I will write a post like yours that reflects my situation:  how this ADD relationship affects me, just for myself for now.  I think it may help me find my way through the turmoil to peace a little faster.  So often I hate to write or journal as it only recreates the "Groundhog Day" feeling I have about our life.  Maybe if I set out a list of how ADD affects the marriage, it will be like a catharsis and create something somewhat objective about my situation.

At the end of my rope

Glad I found this site. My husband was diagnosed last year at 34. Explained a lot at the time however I am now completely mentally exhausted and at the end of my rope.

Your articles describes exactly the situation. In fact, lately I found we have been screaming too much at each other, with arguments ending with me saying that he just does not get how I feel.

My heart is breaking, I feel completely stuck and unhappy.

As I was reading, I was thinking I should forward the article to him so I smiled when I read you mention that.

I will certainly keep reading here. At least I don't feel so alone.

 

 

i understand

Hi,

I'm very happy I found this site. I was searching for something that would help me understand my husband better. A week or so ago, my mother-in-law (at a get together) came and handed my husband a folder full of paperwork that was done on him when he was a kid. He was diagnosed with Tourette (I already knew that, and so did he) and ADD! He didn't know he had it! I knew though. We've been married not even 2 years and have known each other for close to 4 years. (Not long, I know) But I knew that he had ADD tendencies. And now it's been confirmed. Now, I understand him better- a bit.  I've taken time to read several posts on this website about husbands and ADD. Wow! There are SO many! It seems like this is a good place for us women folk to vent some! I suppose we need a safe place to do that every now and then, don't we? I know I need a support group.

I'm going to be speaking with a Christian counselor soon about my concerns about my relationship with my husband. I want to know how I can better deal with him. I have no idea if he is the way he is due to his ADD/Tourette alone. I honestly don't know that much about the two "disorders". I'm sure they both play a big role in his daily life and in our relationship, but at this point, I'm not sure exactly how. I would love to be educated on it. I know for sure that my husband doesn't understand the relationship between his ADD,Tourette and himself/his life let alone how it affects us and our marriage relationship! I would bet he has little to NO idea how his ways affect me.

It seems as though I've picked up on a lot of similarities between posts, and that is a lot of husbands mentioned seem angry, blow up over relatively small matters, are in general cranky and flat out rude or cold. I wonder if ADD is one of the factors to this? Could it be the result of other things as well? Why is this a similarity in a lot of husbands represented on this website?

I also have a lot of quesitons regarding my husband specifically. Why does he have to be so "passionate", as he has put it, about things that bother him? He's "passionate" about A LOT of things! I think he could pick his battles more carefully and save his energy to get passionately upset over something that is very meaningful. He, however, chooses to become easily upset over what I consider to be small, trivial things- just about daily! Daily, or every other day, (b/c it's become rare that he doesn't get aggravated over something) he is irritated over a handful of circumstances, with strong impatience and hypersensitivity-meaning it seems as though he is quick to assume that I mean something different than what I actually mean, and he becomes easily insulted, and therefore defensive.

I communicate for a living. I'm a teacher. It's my calling. I love it and enjoy it. And I'm pretty good at it. The point is that I know how to do PR; I know how to talk well with different kinds of people. I don't talk to my husband in the exact same way I do with my students of course, but I do know a little something about how to effectively communicate with different kinds of people and their personalities. I wonder, why is it that communication with my husband is by far the most difficult??? It's so frustrating that with the one person I want to be the closest with, it's so hard to be understood, known.

I'm working on myself here. In fact, there seems to be a great deal of focus on me in our relationship. He is pretty particular- voices his disapproval and wishes- often. This becomes very annoying and simply starts to wear me down. I want to have FUN- I WANT TO! I want to be close! I try to! I keep trying. And he keeps being the same.

If he were writing on a post about me, he would complain of me not being the person he thought he married as well. He would say that he thought he would have more sex as a married man. He may also say that I lack doing a good job of doing household chores; this is a big one for him. He has complained of me not doing enough around the house, and then when I put forth effort to do more, he critiques how I did it, saying I need to do it differently/better, more like the way he does it. Yikes!

I strongly believe in staying in a marriage unless there is unrepentance of neglect/abandonment, abuse, or affairs. No where in my value system is there anything that I know of that excuses divorce because a spouse is just plain rude.

The angry outbursts he has at times are really bad and scary. He will then have an "I don't care" mentality and basically trample over me emotionally and verbally. I've been afraid of him. This isn't the marriage I was hoping for. It's so hard to trust someone when you don't know if they are going to blow up or not or be overly critical and when they're happy, wonder how long it's going to last. That's no way to live!

There's gotta be hope in this somewhere.....Please God, help us. Help us get through this together. WE need you so much and so badly. It hurts so bad and sometimes it's so lonely. I've felt so alone. I've been so frustrated and angry myself at myself and at him. Please give me peace first of all from You and patience overflowing for him. Keep my spirits up and every woman who writes on this website, please give them direction so they know what to do. Thanks.

Thank you hope4us

tracsport's picture

I am scared of death just like you are, your husband sounds alot like me....recently diagnosed and my wife is hurt, frustrated and aching to change....I want to change too....This website is helpful, please stick with it. I wish you could talk to my wife so she could understand or have someone similar to talk to....I teach as well....and for me adhd or add seems to work for me.....in my job, my at home i stink as a husband and father because i cant get it together....

Anyways, keep us updated, keep writing, and dont be afraid to say hi.

Ryan

Is it ADD or something else?

You posted "It seems as though I've picked up on a lot of similarities between posts, and that is a lot of husbands mentioned seem angry, blow up over relatively small matters, are in general cranky and flat out rude or cold."

My husband is the ADD spouse in our marriage, and I don't know if it is because he has Inattentive ADD, is not hyperactive, or is just a laid back guy; but he doesn't demonstrate any of the behaviors that you list above.

His problems are mostly inattentiveness, poor follow through, and poor communication.  I too am a communicator and don't understand why the person I'm the closest to seem to understand me the least!  I have read other ADD people post here that they interrupt because they "already know what the person is going to say".  We have the interruption issue some, but more often he checks out of the conversation when he thinks he knows everything else that is going to be said.  The problem:  HE IS NOT RIGHT.  He thinks he knows what else will be said, but it is just a guess and he's often wrong.  Sooo infuriating to me esp when he thinks I actually said what he imagines I was going to say. 

I agree with you as far as the reasons to consider divorce, but I've also never been afraid of my husband.  You are basically in new diagnosis mode.  Time to educate yourselves, and a find a therapist to help your husband get medicated and develop a new toolbox of skills

Thanks so much for you post! 

Thanks so much for you post!  It describes what I feel almost exactly.  I am a teacher also and am known for my good communication skills, but my husband accuses me of being a poor communicator.  I appreciate your Christian perspective, and I also don't want to give up on the marriage.  However, I do feel very stuck and alone a majority of the time.  All I can say is keep expressing your feelings in this safe environment and know that others are going through very similar things.  Thanks again - it helps me so much to know I'm not alone in what I'm feeling!

ADD AD/HD from the Beginning

I really don't know where to start because this article is so accurate and to read it very painful.

I am a 42 year old male who was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD about 90 days ago.  These conditions/circumstances have surrounded me my whole life, but they took the ultimate toll on my marriage recently when my wife filed for divorce after 16 years.  62 days later we are divorced.  A drastic step I was not in favor of but seemed powerless to stop. 

My wife finally reached the point this year that she was exhausted fighting for what she wanted and expected from a husband and married life.  She had given me a list of things that she needed to see change in July.  In August there had not been "enough" of a change to be a different me.  I sought help on my suspicion and self-evaluation in September this year.

I feel mistreated and cheated by the lack of effort in working through our problems as a couple, especially to find that ADHD is to blame for basically all of it.  Not an excuse, but I sought diagnosis, have started counseling, medication (a work in progress) and I have attended my first CHADD support group in our area.  I wish I could have done all of this within my marriage with a shot at saving it for my wife and children.  In both good and bad ways the life I have wanted will never be the same. 

Others do not and should not have to lose living with their children and the spouses they love because they are fighting a battle that is unknown to all of them.  There are great people out there with great lives being torn apart.  If you see the symptoms tell them.  I cannot change my past, but we can help the future for others.     

it is sad

cdb,

I'm sorry for your experience and I'd like to encourage you to continue working on your life to make it the best it can be.  The very fact that you are looking for help is a really good sign that you will overcome the challenges that ADD has brought into your life.  I believe that any permanent change you manifest in your life will ripple out into the lives of your children and you will be a man of influence to them. 

brendab

My non-husband

I have been married to my husband for a year and a half and we dated for 7 years before that.  The crazy thing is that I really didn't see how different he was until we joined our lives and got married.  Sure, he kept late hours, but we both did because we were in school and we worked really hard.  He never, ever arrived to family parties on time, but he wasn't originally from the city we were living in, and his humourous exploits were part of the quirkiness that I really loved about him - he is spontaneous, unpredictable and interesting.  I always felt that he really loved me - we were both sure that we belonged together from the first few months that we dated and that feeling never wavered.  He is the best friend I have ever had.

Then we got engaged and we had to plan the wedding (enter "Father of the Bride" subtext).  He was consistently hours late for appointments.  He couldn't understand what a "wedding registry" was even though just about everyone who gets married has one and I explained it to him numerous times.  I absolutely couldn't get him to nail down an opinion on anything.  It felt like he was being really hurtful and inconsiderate.  He booked the plane tickets for our honeymoon two days before our wedding and we left without hotel reservations booked for when we arrived.  Ladies, we all know that we tend to care about these mundane wedding details more than our fiances, but in this case I think my nerves were understandably frayed.  I was really worried and stressed about everything going well and he wasn't there for me.  I felt like I had to exert the control of a slave driver to get him to contribute any effort towards our wedding.  But he's not a lazy, chauvanistic ass - something was really off.

A year and a half later:  We left his parents' house on Christmas morning, a holiday where he lost his temper, had a meltdown, and left his mother sobbing.  Then he spent the two-hour drive to my parents' yelling about how he wants a divorce and it was a mistake to ever get married (this is normal, he tells me he regrets marrying me and wants a divorce every time we argue, that he married me out of pity, that I am a failure...I have to hear this whenever he is provoked about anything).  What set him off?  He was late getting up and I tried to rush him so we wouldn't be late for the Christmas meal with my family.  

Yesterday we had a conversation where our voices were not raised and he told me frankly and very seriously that he just wants to be left alone to keep his own hours free of any routines.  He mercilessly went on to say that he is just tired of feeling bored.  That was when I really realized that when I married him, I did not get a partner, I did not get a lover, I did not get a husband.  I joined myself with someone who lacks any instinct or desire for communication or interaction with me.  He goes his own way completely haphazardly and I may or may not fall in with his daily actions. He doesn't feel the natural desire to spend time with me and he doesn't have the ability to actively schedule me into his daily routine.  This inattention, lack of empathy, and disorderliness is his natural state. 

I would like all ADHD spouses who doubt that their behaviour affects their marriages to reflect on my experience and the others in this forum.  I would also really welcome any comments or support or commiseration.

 

SOO sorry to read this story!

I have a few questions.  Is your new husband officially diagnosed with AD/HD and is he on any medication at this time?  His actions sound like a man who is unmedicated, but we do unfortuately have one medicated friend who seems to still react the way your husband does in arguments.  He's unhappy in his marriage (though most of the damage he's done himself) and anytime he gets angry he thinks divorce is the option. 

As far as wedding planning...yes we generally care more about details than the men, however the desire to have someone who is helping and there for you is universal.  It would be a terrible stress for anyone to not have honeymoon plans made until 2 days before the wedding and only 1/2 made at that.  Also I find it unusual behavior during a time it seems he'd be hyperfocusing on getting your lives together.  Was you conversation generally good at that point?  Did he have an understanding of what would be helpful and supportive?  Cause if he did, his behavior is baffling to me; but I've definitely heard many stories of ADD people not putting much emphasis on occasions that are important to most people...ie a wedding.

I think the way he treats you during arguments in unexcusable!  For what reason does he decide that you are a failure because he tends to make you late for things?  And saying that he married you out of pity--a horrific thing to say even though it is no doubt untrue--just the fact that he'd say it in the first place shows a terrible unconcern for your feelings.  Some ADD husbands here have mentioned that any time they feel challenged or feel their wives are angry with them about something, they feel they have to *end* the argument and will do so in any manner whatsoever to *win*.  I can't speak to this behavior as my ADD husband does not exhibit it, and I would be completely unwilling to put up with anyone acting this way toward me.

This statement to one many wives of ADD husbands deal with " he told me frankly and very seriously that he just wants to be left alone to keep his own hours free of any routines.  He mercilessly went on to say that he is just tired of feeling bored. "

Many ADD people feel an unreasonable (at least to a nonADD mind) hatred of routines which is unfortunate since that is exactly what they need to develop more so that they can function successfully in the real world and within a family.  Did he mention what exactly makes him feel bored?  My sister in law has a family member who is bi-polar--extremely difficult to deal with within the family--yet he frequently goes off his medication by choice because he feels he loses all his creativity while on medication.  He thinks (in his sick mind of course) that it is worth the negatives of unmedicated bi-polar to have the *highs* otherwise he is just bored.  No one else in the family would agree, but it takes medication, and therapy, and frank conversation to get him to see that his happiness cannot be the only concern if they are going to have a happy family.  

It sounds like you both need the help of an impartial 3rd party.  Is anyone in counselling to deal with this behavior?

Thanks for the input!

My husband is undiagnosed at this point.  When I finally came to the theory that he may have ADHD, I got him to read some information on the topic.  He also took the initiative and bought a book about it.  I was expecting a huge blow-up about this, but he was very curious and interested to read the research - he said that he always felt different and for the first time he found an explanation for his behaviour.  I'd like him to be able to accept this without feeling that there is something wrong with him - this is where we are at the moment. 

I want to thank you very much for the input about your husband.  It highlighted for me that some behaviours are ADHD and some are about other issues like learning to deal with anger.  My husband has impulsive emotional reactions, but he needs to learn not to act on them.  I think his reactions are based on negative interpretations, not what is actually happening in reality.  The intensity and scale of his outbursts are really baffling to me.

I think the problems we had with wedding planning were also because of his anxiety about the cost of it all.  And you are absolutely right about his behaviour when we argue.  If I say anything about our marriage, even if I try to be constructive, his reaction is intentionally vicious so that I break down and stop talking about it.

I've been reading the blogs on this site for a few months now, but now that I've started to share my story I think it means I am ready to take steps to deal with this.  I really can't live with this emotional pain and abuse.  I also think my husband will feel the benefit of organizing his life.  He has said that he feels that living his way is the most productive for him, but wouldn't it be worthwhile for him to try to optimize his potential and productivity?  Shouldn't he want to take control of his life so he is not the slave of every thought that enters his mind?

I'm right there with you.. I

I'm right there with you.. I just found this site and reading what people write and different perspectives really helps. i have an amazing wonderful husband who I know genuinly wants the best for us and our family. However, he too in the past has said it was a mistake to marry me or I can't do this anymore and we should divorce. Only to come back later and say everything about how I internally and honestly feel, like he understands me. I know they struggle with dealing with this disorder, but so do we and there is a point where you should never say such things like that .. It stays with us and brings us down. I agree that they should want to take control of their life and be more thoughtful or think about whats said before it comes out, however we both probably know that what comes to mind out of anger will just be said. My husband also likes to say things to just get me to quit talking, which are the stunning unbelievable comments. I think with both people trying to understand that each other look at things differently and really hearing each other out after the calm of the storm can help. Its hard when you have been hurt or so heated. Anyways I think its great you are expressing yourself, i know it makes me feel a sense of release of all these confusing feelings and emotions. i wish you two much luck and hope..

I'm right there with you,

I'm right there with you, too.  My husband is the same way and will say anything to stop an argument or to get out of an important discussion.  You're right, it does stay with us and brings us down.  I believe this is why so many of us have unhealthy feelings towards our spouses.  

I need someone to talk to

So my husband and I fight all the time and when I brought this site up to him or the article about how it does matter he seemed open to reading it.. then a few days letter still had only read half of it and excuses to why he didn't read the rest. At first he said he was glad I found this site and he was happy to read it.. and thats great! But why am I not important enough to just finish reading the letter, to see that it is important to me, to see that I'm trying to help our relationship.. Instead I started the argument, when in actuality he got defensive cuz I asked when he cud finish it.. "It's always about my ADD"... no not really but yes sometimes it is. Isn't this marriage important enough to do whatever it takes to make each other happy to work on it?! Thats not hard for me to see. He thinks he can manage and we can without any help. We saw a therapist for him to only quit. I talked to his mother to try and understand what I could do differently and understand him better.. and just got "Well let him be and he doesn't mean what he says" Well I'm tired of living around the negativity and excusing his behavior and feeling like my feelings do not matter! I wish there was a chat line on here to just talk at the moment with someone going through the same things. These blogs do help tremendously.. I am just lost and very very frustrated.. I asked about the letter which started an argument and somewhere along those lines neither of us were hearing each other and he told me he wanted a divorce.. which he doesn't but i hear this every year and I'm sick of it!!!

Daniela - i get where you're

Daniela - i get where you're coming from. We are suppose to be getting married in March 2010 - my ADD-spouse has been having a particularly bad bunch of days - i think it is to do with his girls (from a previous marriage) not wanting to have much contact with him over christmas. Usually (if he is on his meds) he might just have a bad moment, a bad day, a few little things here or there. When everything is going as it should he is the most marvelous, fun and exciting man i have every known. My children love him (most of the time).

However, after 4 days of being treated like I am the scum of the earth and being the recipient of toxic words and mean off-hand comments, as well as being 'excluded' from his xmas schedule, I dared to ask him if there was something on his mind. Even as the words were coming out of my mouth i already could see the expression on his face changing for the worst and at that point I just wanted to dig a hole and crawl into it.  I should have kept my mouth shut (I know better), but after 4 days of living in a war zone and desperately watching every word that came out of my mouth, making sure the kids stayed out of his way, making sure the house was spotless the frustration, just got the better of me - yes - i made the mistake of asking if there was something on his mind. Every night i go to bed when he is in one of these bad ugly moods i say to myself 'tomorrow will be a better day'. I don't cry anymore because it's all so predictable.

I won't bore you with the details, other than saying that after he finished attacking me from every possible angle, yelling, screaming and blaming me for everthing that is not going quite how he would like (this happens often - it's always 'my fault'), he cancelled the wedding. Today he is sweet as pie - like nothing happened. Oh I also wanted to say that during his rage yesterday he was very proud to be able to tell me that he hadn't been taking his ADD medication for the past 5 days. Like he had won some kind of contest. That he hand't been taking his medication had been quite clear to me days before. Now that we are (were) getting married he seems to think he doesn't need his medication - after all the whole ADD problem is all in 'my mind' - apparently he takes the medication to 'shut me up'.

I'm tired, I'm over it. The wedding is definitely off - when i remind him that he cancelled the wedding plans he'll look at me like I'm some kind of mad woman. He'll then declare his never ending love for me blah, blah, blah for the millionth time.

Wether he takes his medication or not is up to him. The consequence of him not taking his medication is that I can't be with him and he knows it. Clearly he thought he was proving a point by not taking his medication - the problem is that he doesn't seem to notice any difference in himself wether he takes the medication or not, or at least that's what he says. I have tried everything...yes everything! He can't see a problem, there's nothing i can do about that. I can only do what i need to do to keep safe and sane.

Hope you have a better outcome - at least your husband has taken interest in learning about ADD. It's a great start.

 

I feel your pain...

It's completely inexcusable to call off the wedding in the heat of an argument and then expect plans to just continue.  He cooled off, but then you have to carry around the memory and the pain of hearing those words from someone you love.  I know that when I hear brutal comments, it takes me days to function normally again so that I'm not reliving the moment constantly in my mind.

I guess with an ADDer the high-stress situations have the potential to become much more explosive and damaging - for everyone involved.  I hope that you can make a clear-headed decision that is best for you and your children.  Thanks so much for your message and I wish you all the best.  I would wish that after the lapses in behaviour, both people in a relationship can continue to move towards better understanding and communication.

I did discuss with him the

I did discuss with him the next day when he had cooled off. As usual though, my window of opportunity was about 10 minutes - that's about how long he can do a 'deep and meaningful' conversation for. He tried to deny that he had said the wedding was cancelled but i just said 'we both know exactly what you said, let's acknowledge it, learn something from the situation and move on'. So it seems we are a smithering closer to him understanding that he needs to take his medication and that actions have consequences (but i'm sure we'll have that conversation all over again for some other reason in the not too distant future - thankfully the time span between these situations is increasing. He was also unhappy about the way he had behaved, of course there was no verbal apology, but i know him well enough to know when he is apologising, kind off. Anyway, so the wedding is on. I know it is high risk, but if i don't go through with this i'll always wonder if we could have made a life together. While there is some progress, no matter how small, i have hope that things will turn out favourably. Yes, it is hard work. Yes, it's a lot of effort for sometimes little return, but other times he just blows me away with his kindness and thoughtfulness, and of course he can be so much fun. Here's hoping (and working damn hard at it!)

husband won't admit to ADD

My husband has ADD. We've been in marriage counseling for a year and the therapist is sure of it. He won't admit it. He thinks he may have had it as a kid, but that he's grown out of it. He did not! And it's affecting our marriage terribly. Been married 6 years, have 3 delicious children, don't want to lose it all, but my patience and tolerance is waning.

How can I get him, in as nice a way as possible, to recognize the fact that he does have ADD, that it doesn't mean he's BAD or anything like that, and that he needs to take responsible steps in dealing with it?

Length

The post is obvieous for people (like me) with ADHD, but I do have one remark, how am I supposed to concentrate myself long enough to read such a long piece? Sorry I tried but I really cant. I asked my wife to read the post and make it shorter, that helped. Btw I am not trying to be funny, but merely want to point out that it is really hard to read such long posts with such small letters without loosing attention.

scared to be medicated

I’m 37 and almost positive I have ADHD, I know it causes a problem in my relationship because of my actions w/ anger and selfishness and the way I just don’t have a filter when I speak.

Plus all I hear is “you don’t listen”, and then I interrupt and really piss her off. I don’t mean to, but I really feel I’m being attacked, always. Plus always being reminded of all the mistakes I made in life and in our relationship. I don’t feel I’m out of control, but then too I’m use to myself, which is why I don’t see what others see, especially my girlfriend. She means the world to me and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her, but I think it is time I really start taking this more seriously.

 

My INABILITY TO READ EMOTIONAL CUES is bad, but I myself am a very emotional person.

 

My fear is getting treatment from a doctor that just gives you pills that don’t work & just wants your money & in the meantime I will suffer on medication that might not work and really screw w/ my head. I like my ADHD and how it affects myself @ my job, but it is killing my home life w/ the love of my life and I just can’t control everything. I feel like everything that was once fine is now, not even controllable. My problems & mistakes in life have become a life of there own.

I think I’m just tired of always feeling like I’m a big disappointment to others.

 

Think More Positive

Johnny, at least you're aware that theres a problem, and that something has to be done.  My husband has ADHD.  I notice that alot of ADHDers almost are always negative in their thinking when it comes to resolvement in relationships.  How about thinking more optimistic.  Find a doctor "specializing" in diagnosing/treating ADHD,  or you will definitely waste time/money.  When you find that doctor, you will educate yourself and learn tools on how to create a better relationship w/your girlfriend through therapy.  Upon being diagnosed, depending how severe your ADD/HD is, then perhaps the doctor will suggest medication to help better your life w/your relationship, as well as other areas in your life.  As with any medical condition that requires medication, some works, and some doesn't.  You might have to try several out to see which one is best for you.  ADHD is real!  As you can see from these posts, it almost always destroys relationships if gone untreated.  Unless you want to put your girlfriend through extreme emotional torture, then I suggest you tackle your fear and go get help.  Remember, this is a positive decision, not a negative one.  

Extreme emotional torture, I

Extreme emotional torture, I already put her through. Marriage counseling we have already gone too. I have been going through a lot of stress the past 2 years and found myself a different person then what I normally am, as if my stress brings out my ADHD in the worst way. I try very hard to be positive but it has been very tough with all the money I lost in the past 2 years because of stupid financial decisions, maxing out credit cards and lines of credit and being in the Mortgage industry and it going to shit. Also being an only child and growing up with out a father has made it kind of hard to understand other people’s feelings @ times. I have come a long way in my fight w/ ADHD and are much more aware of what I do that causes a problem and makes drama, but it is usually an after the wrong I did, do I realize. My girlfriend is always threatening to leave me and I kind of don’t blame her, she hates the drama and rollercoaster ride. I’m use to drama from also being a drummer for the past 20yrs in and out of rock bands, some national and some regional. But this has all been really different for her, especially when she is so laid back and just wants too be happy. (In other words, never been in a relationship w/ a musician before). I feel like I have ruined any chance of her ever loving me ever again the way I still love her & yes, she has told me that she has no real sexual desire to be with me anymore. So I am trying to be more aware of myself and others, but it would really help if I got some type of credit for all the good that I do for her a bit more often.  I’m not looking for pity, but when I say I’m sorry and mean it and admit up to what I did wrong, realize I care enough to not want too make the person I love upset. I know my good out weighs my bad, but I guess bad is bad. I have been reading a lot of entries and I have come to realize that there is a lot of couples dealing w/ the ADHD, but my situation can be a lot worse and it’s not. I just need to keep working on myself, and not give up on what I beleive in and know my boudaries.

Thanks for the feedback…….

You Sound Just LIke My Husband

You sound like my husband.  You say you already went through marriage counseling, but as I stated in my earlier post...did you go to an ADHD specialist?  Thats the key.  Listening to your post is similiar to my husbands snowball effect on self destruction.  Not being diagnosed and treated as a child also has probably left you with low self-esteem issues of not being able to understand why you probably felt "different", or didn't fit in socially.  To top it off, you were void of a strong male figure growing up that is important in every child, especially a boy.  I can relate...I was a single parent or 2, and my son was without his father at the age of 5.  He is now 24.  My husband maxed out all his cards too, and is $70,000.00 in debt.  He is contemplating bankruptcy.  Fortunately for me, I made sure I had no financial ties to him.  When you say you've come a long way in your fight w/ADHD, what have you've done to treat it?  From what I've heard from your posts...sorry to say this, but I see nothing really, that hits home. 

What I'm about to tell you, and what I want you to understand is that my feedback is coming from a place of love, not sympathy, nor pity.  I see your relationship mirroring ours, and I want to help you understand.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  All the things that your girlfriend has said and done as you stated in your post, I have said and done as well.  She threatens to leave you because things have got to change.  You've hurt her, and you know this, but what do you do about it?  Nothing really right?  So why stay?  She tells you she doesn't want to be intimate with you because she needs to cut off her feelings of the ultimate connection with you in fear you'll hurt her again.  She feels betrayed.  Why is she still around?  Dude...don't you get it?  She LOVES you!!!  Think she'll stick around if you don't act NOW?  I think you know the answer to that one.

It sounds like all this time all you've really been doing is making alot of excuses.  Sweeping things under the rug...talking the talk, and not walking the walk.  By walking the walk, means getting the SPECIALIZED TREATMENT for your ADHD.  To make a decision if you will COMMIT and FOLLOW THROUGH with what you promise her.  C O N S I S T E N C Y  is the key!!!  You don't know how to do it on your own...thats why therapy will TEACH you the tools to learn how.  You say you've been in & out of rock bands.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can almost guarantee you that either you've had, or still have a substance abuse problem.  Yet you fear of taking ADHD meds cause it'll screw w/your head?  ??????????

You say you're used to drama.  Wanna continue to have drama in your 60's?  Think about it.  You say you're girlfriend is laid back and just wants to be happy.  Don't we all?  Count your blessings!  Wanna be in a relationship w/another you?  I truly feel being a musician has nothing to do w/her acceptance of you...it's just another excuse to not make that commitment to get the "specialized help".  Whether or not you've ruined any chances of being with her or not, if you don't get the help, your ADHD will be a curse, not a gift.  You'll just be repeating history with the next relationship.  I'm pretty sure that if you SHOW her CONSISTENTLY that you're doing EVERYTHING that it takes to change, she'll come around.  This time it'll be different.  You will be SHOWING her that you truly love her, not just TELLING her.  It's not what you buy her, or the physical things you do she's looking for to show her how much you love her.  It's the ADHD help you get, that will show her.  Working hard on building on your relationship is what counts!  Remember now...very important...BE CONSISTENT!!!  If you're like my husband, he's told me a million times that he's not giving up on the relationship.  Realistically, he did...by not even trying to start to get the "specialized help".  He finally got the help.  It took about 3 doctors, till we found the right one.  He's tried various ADHD meds that didn't do any good.  The 4th doctor we found prescribed him Concerta.  Man, it was like turning on a light switch.      

As far as you getting credit for all the things that you do?  I know you're a good guy.  Thats why she fell in love w/you, and has tolerated this roller coaster ride for years.  But somethings gotta give already.  Whether or not she stays with you, get the help.  You definitely need to do it for yourself as well.  It's time to get back on track.  You can overcome the messy trail you've left behind you.  You just need to stop making excuses, and procrastinating.  START NOW!!!  JUST DO IT MAN!!!  IF YOU TRULY WANT A BETTER LIFE...YOU CAN!!!  I'm rooting for  you...DON'T GIVE UP!!!       

I really am trying......

These are the things I’ve done so far, I went too the counseling where the psychiatrist said I’m ADHD, but no test were run. I had a hard time understanding lots of things about being in a real relationship. What seemed normal to me is not normal to the average normal person, if that makes any sense? It seems as if all my relationships were more of an involvement, weather it was 5 or 6 years involvements. The psychiatrist/ marriage counselor said I don’t need meds; I just need to be more aware and listen to what my girlfriend is saying, and stop my bullshit. I know 20 years of being in bands, touring nationally and being around all the scum in the music industry has really warped my mind. Some days you just don’t know who to trust, which is where my trust issues come in.  But I assure you I never had any drug problems; I don’t even drink, seriously. My father was an alcoholic and was always beating my mother up when he was drunk, even pushing her out a window. I haven’t seen or had any contact w/ my father since I was seven. I always knew that this is not how I want too be, so I steered away from drinking & drugs, and put myself into music and drumming.

            I have also come down a lot w/ my temper and raising my voice @ people. I learned from talking with my girlfriend that yelling is not the answer. I use to flip out over stupid stuff and make a big deal out of nothing and realized, nobody wants to deal with that or me. No, I’m still not perfect and slip up hear and there, but for the most part have been using my brain and thinking before I speak or flip out about anything a lot more. I don’t want too be a heart attack waiting to happen, I don’t even smoke.

            I think this falls in the same category as my mouth and missing my filter. I lately have become more humble and quiet with people and friends. Not saying much or running my mouth in a way that is going to cause a problem or piss people off. I’m not saying I want to be well liked by everyone, cause I’m not, but I don’t want to make waves with anyone either, or give anybody anything to bitch about me for.

            My listening skills, I know now how important this is in a relationship; my own mother even knows how hard it is to talk to me. But a lot of my traits I now have or have had w/ the ADHD are from my mother. I use to be the type of person that did not want to listen to anybody or anyone. Just this past Wednesday night, my girlfriend and I talked for a while with her doing a lot more talking and myself just listening. I did not once interrupt her and waited till she was done before I made any comments or responses, so I really did listen and discuss whatever was on her mind and she actually made a comment on how well I did. I think my problem w/ listening is I have so much to say that buy the time the person is done talking I forget what I wanted to say. Then I feel I don’t contribute to the conversation, but maybe they just wanted me to listen anyway and just say I understand. I read Men are from mars Women are from Venus, but it still is not 100% making sense yet.

            I’m a very forgetful person when it comes to conversations we have and arguments, she remembers everything, and I don’t remember half the stuff I say. But I’m fine with always being on time and always getting my bills paid on time, picking the kids up @ a certain time. But my childhood is so blurry that I need my mother or a cousin or aunt to tell me stories about myself, I can’t remember anything, but it’s not like I had a bad childhood? Cause I didn’t.

            Some days I will take a big step forward with progress then end up loosing my temper over something stupid or get in an argument w/ her, and I push her 3 steps back again. Even though these episodes happen less and less, the problem is when they do happen it pushes her away even more even if it is less and less.

            So I have changed a lot, and for the better thanks to my girlfriend, but nothing in my life or anybody’s is 100% perfect. Even being put on meds I think that I can still make mistakes and still loose my temper from time to time. But I already have come to realize that certain situations I might not handle too well.

            My mother has been in the pharmaceutical business for over 20 years and has advised me as well that I don’t need meds, but is very much aware of how I get.

            I’m not trying to make up excuses, but yes I am scared. I have been getting away from all the bad people that were in my life and the bad influences. I have to start somewhere and I know this is a good place to start @.

Thanks for all the feedback again, it really has helped me deal w/ myself and I have no intentions on giving up on anything I believe in.

 

Very Impressed

What blows me away, is that you have the focus and attention skills to put up such a long post.  My husband initially got diagnosed with ADHD from a regular psychiatrist also.  Was put on meds (I forgot which one), and nothing came out of that too.  The same w/the marriage counseling...blah blah blah.  You gotta do your homework.  Sadly, theres not many doctors out there that are "specialized" in ADHD.  But there is someone definitely out there.  We live on a little rock...if we could find one, I know you can.  I also know your mother means well, but let the doctor diagnose you & treat you.  My husbands father also has ADHD, he never got tested, and doesn't take meds, but thinks everything will be alright.  Nobody's living your life, but you.

What you may perceive as being humble, and quiet, and being a better listener, is an entirely different view coming from a non-ADHDer.  My husband did the same thing.  But I viewed it as disattached, avoidance, and non-caring.  You may THINK you're listening, and may want to TRY to make the other person THINK you're listening as well, but as you stated in your post, that by the time it's your time to speak, you forgot what you were supposed to say...you're not listening.  If anyone were to ask you to repeat back the conversation that just took place, you probably would've only remembered, if you're lucky, only half of what was said.  If you forget what you were going to say...then how are you contributing to the resolvement of conflict when you have discussions w/your girlfriend?  It's just that your brain is wired differently.  You can't absorb and retain info when given.  My husbands doctor showed us a scan of an ADHD brain compared to a non-ADHD brain.  I think it was the frontal cortex...anyway, it had visible holes in it.  Because of these holes, when info is being given, the holes disrupt the connectors to the brain where your memory is stored.  That explains everytime someone says to you "YOU JUST DON'T GET IT"!!!  By taking the meds, the holes begin to fill up.  Thus when info is being given, it travels to where it needs to get to, without disruption...and you "START TO GET IT". 

My husband was just like you.  Afraid to take meds...for years he avoided them.  Until we got the right one.  EVERYONE who knows him, has seen a MAJOR improvement!!  Although he works for his fathers company for 29 years, his partner has stated that he's more focused and can complete tasks on the computer now, thats he's never been able to do ever before.  Even HE feels the difference.  He states he feels more calmer, more confident, and can absorb things more clearer.  Don't get me wrong.  This is not a wonder pill.  ADHD therapy is key along w/meds.  But the doctor stated that therapy is secondary.  Right now, we're in the process of him assessing the right dosage.  It totally makes sense.  Until the meds start filling up those holes, therapy won't be as effective, because he won't be able to absorb, comprehend, and retain, the info given in therapy.

I feel you on the 100% perfect thing.  You probably did change alot too.  But how you're changing is not the "constructively correct" way.  Obviously from your post, it's not effective enough.  I feel you on your girlfriend snapping more on the situations that are more infrequent.  Wanna know why?  Everytime you do make a big step forward, you fill her w/HOPE ONCE AGAIN, only to CRUSH her spirit ONCE AGAIN when it is repeated.  She's BURNT OUT man.  Her tolerance level is below 0.  If she's like me, she thinking...why am I putting up w/this shit?  I'm miserable.  He doesn't truly love me.  He doesn't want to change things, because he's not getting the "specialized help" he needs to show me.  I should just get out...but I love him.  So she SETTLES living her life in a relationship where she has to disconnect her TRUE EMOTIONS.  You guys are probably living your lives like room-mates,  probably less than that.  I always used to tell my husband I'd rather have a room-mate...at least I can connect with them.  She only can fool herself for so long man.  Eventually the true her will come out.  It's like she's living her life as a lie.  Although you may think her expectations are high, its not.  It's what every loving relationship is built on.  "CONSISTENT" sincerity, honesty, trustworthy, unselfishly love.  Is that what you're truly afraid of?  Perhaps, because you've probably never had that ever before in your life.  The fear of the unknown.  But your goal is something POSITIVE, not NEGATIVE...so chalk it up man.  You're 37 years old.  You've experienced worse in your life.  Don't you think it's time to start living happy?  Don't wait till it's too late.  She's pretty much out the door already, wait any longer, and she'll close it one day, and never look back.  You only have one life on earth, and as you get older, you'll realize how really short it is.  Don't live your life full of regrets.  Live it w/cherished memories.  Only YOU can make it happen!!!  You take all this time to write these posts....get on your puter, and start researching for a doctor that specializes in Neurobiological Disorders.  Hope to hear from you again with news that you found one.  Take care Johnny!!!              

I agree

I have been doing much research on everything, how else would I have found this site. I do plan on getting a full blown legit check and test etc...... for ADHD and to see a specialist. I'm looking to go see my doctor @ the end of April, get my yearly physical then have him recomend someone for me. Finding someone close by and easy to get to would be a very big help. I want the rite diagnosis to get the rite help, and yes I'm sure it will take time. but I'm willing to do this, it just has too be @ the rite time. ADHD Therapy I would like as well. Sometimes all the research I have been doing just gets more confusing, it is very tough when all you want is too do the rite thing.

I'm So Glad

I'm so glad to hear on your decision.  You sound more committed now than from your earlier posts.  I commend you on your efforts to seek the help.  In our case, it was I who had to research ALL the doctors, call, and talk to them regarding our situation, as well as scheduling the appts.  I'm blown away by your committment and courage to take this on initially on your own.  You're a good man!!!  I know it's tough researching for the right doctor, and you may have to see numerous doctors before you find the right one.  Like I stated before, it took us 3 times to visit doctors before we found the 4th one.  Don't give up!  I hope that your girlfriend is observing what you're doing, and maybe you can suggest for her to help you to research along the way also.  This has to be a team effort.  I don't know if she's been on this website, but I know it has helped me to understand more on how "I could change to make things work".  By including her with everything on this long hard journey, would make her so happy.  I know it tremendously helped for me.  You'll start re-connecting with her...watch and see.  I hope to hear from you again soon.  It took a while to find your post again...surprisingly they changed the index posts, so you can't see the most recents posts listed on the right.  Take care...wishing you all the best!!!   

fingers are crossed

Weather or not she will still be around will be her choice, I know who I am and the wrong I've done. I tried to show her what I have been writting but she could care less. What she does not realize is once again my brain works differently then hers. When I asked her to check out what was going on and what I was writting back and forth, all she would say is "this is stuff I have been telling you for a while, it's nothing new, the counsler told you all this as well, but you don't listen." So that sort of got me annoyed even though it is true, so I just walked away and told her I wont share this with her any more.  Once again, never good enough. Something I'm use to, but have learned to deal with. I understand her frustration w/ me and can't blame her. The bottom line, I am a good man.

I help her w/ everything, and am always there for her, I drop everything I'm doing to help her the sec she ask. I even let her smoke in my car from time to time, and I'm so against that!

I don't drink, smoke, do drugs or even gambel. I always pay my bills on time and still have good credit. Always come straight home from work every day.

 No matter what my flaws are they can always be worse and I'm learning more and more about myself everyday. I'm also agreeing to try to start doing things I would never do like get a dog and go camping.

One man can only do so much, I really have been pushing myself harder then ever before. I just feel like everything is a test too see how much you can take.

Don't Give Up...Keep Them Crossed

Don't give up.  I know it's discouraging that at first she may not support you on your efforts, but really Johnny, your commitment is not JUST to salvage your relationship...it's for YOU.  I've been at fault many times to not show interest and care.  I've even not shown up to many of my husbands therapy sessions...due to the fact that by the time we need to go the the appt., there has been so much drama prior to that, that hurt me, and I tell myself that "Why bother...I'm not wasting anymore time on this". 

I also have been guilty of treating my spouse unfairly.  It's like we feel that you "OWE" it to us, to do whatever physically we want, because really...we can't ever get anything "emotionally" from you.  So we take whatever we can get.  Unfortunately, in the process, it's like we crucify you to get back, or get even, to make ourselves feel better about the whole situation, of what you put us through.

Although she may not realize or admit this is a test.  It is.  Because whether she's there or not supporting you...in the end, by you to continue and not give up on this commitment you've made, she wants to see if you're gonna stand on your own 2 feet and actually follow through.  We're going through the same thing right now.  Sometimes when I don't want to go to my husbands doctors appt./therapy, he'll tell me that "I should just cancel it then".  I tell him "Well it's up to you,  you're doing this actually for you, not just for me".  By continuing to go, it shows us that you're really serious about wanting to get help.  If she's like me, like I've said before...I'm BURNT OUT!!!  Unless I see that theres some consistency in following through...then I'm not wasting anymore time.  Lets see if you're just going through the motions once again to satisfy us for the time being. 

I suggest that you don't get angry, and show resentment.  By telling her you won't share things w/her anymore...you're back to disconnecting with her again.  I suggest that you try to understand, and still continue to act lovingly.  Perhaps tell her in a lovingly way, that you're trying.  You're taking the steps to get to your goal.  Tell her that you're still gonna do whatever it takes, and that you hope that soon she'll be able to join you in your efforts.  Remember...Rome wasn't built in a day.  After all these years of turmoil, it takes time to break down those walls that she's built so high to chip away at the disbelief of the trust issues she has w/you.  In other words...what makes this time so different than the others.  Thats why I say CONSISTENCY is key.  You have to keep at it...no matter what...even though she may not support you, or she may even criticize you.  Stand firmly on your OWN 2 feet, keep focused on your goal, and persevere.  With anything in life, you're going to get obstacles put in front of you.  But if you truly want something...you will achieve it.  With or w/out her...remember, you are doing this for YOU.  I hope in time...and yes...only time will tell, if she's the right one for you, if she's still there.  But no matter if your relationship doesn't work out...by conqering your problems w/your ADHD, I'm pretty sure the next one WILL!!!   

When you do find the right doctor to go to therapy to, it is vital for her to attend the sessions when the doctor requests her to be present.  Initially the purpose is for you to get YOU better, but as you continue on to work on your relationship, she needs to understand that this is a TEAM EFFORT.  It's not a matter of just fixing you.  She has to admit her own faults that she has contributed to the problems as well.  She will need to completely understand the dynamics of ADHD.  Therapy will teach her the tools to do that. 

Remember, keep focused, and DON'T shut her out.  Although you are trying to better yourself by learning to understand more...this justifies her conclusion that you've really haven't learned anything if you're reacting the same way.   

I got it

Ok, enough said. Will do. Here is my question. She says I need anger management, I'm not saying I don't, but have you ever heard of a man that never gets upset or angry or raises his voice? I swear I'm not violent, never would ever hit anyone, but yes I can get loud and be very powerful w/ my voice. But when everything around you is falling apart and you have been taken advantage of by soooooo many people who wouldn't loose it?

Hard To Reply Without More Details

Its very hard to understand what you're trying to say or ask.  You say shes requesting you take classes on Anger Management, but then you say that you perhaps are in agreeance w/her.  No, I don't think that theres ever a man nor woman who gets loud and raises their voice.  But are there some things you've leaving out?  Perhaps, you've punched holes in walls, or have thrown/destroyed things due to your uncontrolled anger.  My husband has pushed me hard enough to make me fall, or have said/done things to put me in a state of "submission", but doesn't think that he's hit me because he didn't "punch" me.  But pushing, is very much so, considered "hitting", and physical abuse.  He's even simply poured a cup of water on me in his anger.  He didn't hit me, but don't you think that its some "form" of abuse?  Yes, almost everyone loses it for whatever reasons a person is pushed to their limit, but if "your so called losing it" impacts others negatively, and is not resolved constructively, then you do have an anger problem.

Theres nothing new about peoples lives falling apart with whatever situation they are experiencing, in fact more so now with the decline of our economy.  And everyone has been taken advantage of many times in life...ever since the beginning of time.  But what level of you describing yourself of "losing it" depends on HOW you "lose it" in detail.  Most persons attending Anger Management classes are subjected to mandatorily attend by law.  It may be costly for you to seek controlling your anger issues that route.  Anger issues are associated with ADHD.  In the meantime while you're waiting for your appt. w/your therapist, I suggest you perhaps read books, or browse the website for more info to determine what category of level you're on w/your anger issues that your girlfriend is stating you have.  You'll come across ways on how to deal w/it constructively as well.  Please don't use your bad circumstances as justification to react the way you do.  If everyone yelled at people everytime they got angry...where will this world be today?   

 

I loved this reply

Wow! I'm struggling with my issues right now & have really been needing some help. This reply did help though it wasn't to me & my husband won't acknowledge he has anything to change & doesn't have meds or a therapist. Thank you.

find doctor and counselor who work together

arwen's picture

Johnny, my husband was diagnosed with ADHD about 15 years ago.  Since he was diagnosed, he has been on medication and gone to counseling twice a month.  The counselor works with him on his behavior issues, and the neuropsychiatrist prescribes the medications.  These two professionals work in the same medical building but are not part of the same practice.  They periodically discuss my husband's case with each other, to make sure he is getting appropriate treatment.  For example, when we realized my husband also had Seasonal Affective Disorder, the counselor helped my husband select an appropriate light therapy device -- when that turned out not to be only partly helpful, he talked to the neuropsychiatrist about making seasonal modifications to my huband's meds.

If you can find a similar kind of setup, where the prescribing doctor and the behavioral counselor (or possibly an ADHD coach) would agree to work together, I think this would help avoid the kind of situation you are worried about.

I understand your fears and concerns -- my son also has ADHD, and he has experienced the same dilemma.  He took the meds during high school, then stopped.  But after wrestling with himself over this issue for more than five years, he too has decided to go back on the meds.  His view was that he was having so many problems that it couldn't hurt to *try* the meds again and see whether it was worthwhile at this point or not.

I'd like to make one other comment -- you say that you like your ADHD and how it affects you at your job.  My husband felt the same way.  Not all of his co-workers agreed with that point of view!  They often found him difficult to work with.  But he discovered after he went on the meds that he liked the way the meds affected him at his job even better.  Once he was on the meds, he realized that he had had more problems at work than he'd realized.  He went from being a pretty good performer to a great performer, and just recently his boss called him a unique and indispensable resource.  That certainly would not have happened before he went on the meds!  (I know this for certain because, until recently, I used to work at the same company, and sometimes colleagues and even supervisors would talk to me about the problems they were encountering with him.)   Obviously, I have no idea whether this same kind of situation might apply in your case, but it's a possibility you may want to consider.

Good luck, however you decide!

How Do I Get My Wife to Seek More Help with Her ADHD?

I LOVE this post.  I'm thinking of asking my wife to read it.  It's very long though, and I'm not sure she would read the whole thing.  Also, it's written "for MEN who have ADHD."  Plus, she does know she has ADHD - in fact she is on meds and she has read some of Dr. Hallowell's books, so she might not think this post applies to her.  Maybe I can edit it down a bit and change it to be more gender neutral.  (It's hard when you are in a same-sex marriage - most everything is written in terms of husbands and wives, men and women.)

Anyway, although my wife knows she has ADHD and is on meds, she is not in counseling with someone who specializes in ADHD, and I think she doesn't think that matters.  When I have mentioned it to her, she says "I talk with Dr. so and so about ADHD" - that's her psychiatrist.  But she only sees him once a month, maybe less.  And her therapist, who she has't seen in awhile, clearly doesn't understand ADHD issues.  My wife thinks she is working on her ADHD issues, but I think "all" she is doing is "trying harder."  And what Melissa wirites above "Meds alone won't do it.  Trying harder doesn't work." really hits home for me.  That is what I need to get across to my wife.  I think she needs to more fully treat her ADHD.  I think what she needs are more strategies, according to what I have read on this site.    I think her reluctance is not because she doesn't thinks she needs help, but more because she just doesn't know where she will find the time to do one more thing.  I'm willing to see someone with her if that makes sense, but I'm not sure at this point if it's more important for her to get some coaching or for us to get some coaching together?

The other issue is that her psychiatrist keeps telling her that not everything is about the ADHD - that often when one person in a relationship has been diagnosed it's common for the other to blame everything on the person with the diagnosis.  He has told my wife it sounds like that might be happening with us.  But I think what I am doing is blaming most of what is happening with us on the diagnosis as Melissa writes above, but my guess is to my wife that doesn't feel any different because she still ends up feeling like the bad guy.  And I'm not sure how to suggest that she needs to find more help without her hearing exactly that - that I think she IS the bad guy, which is one of the reasons I like this post so much.  Though I'm guessing if she were to read it, she would still end up feeling "Wow - it really IS my fault."  Or that I'm just making one more criticism of her.  I really feel bad that she feels that way - I know it really hurts and I haven't been successful in helping her see it any differently.

I do know that I am willing to try most anything, because I don't want my solution to be what so many on this post seem to have gotten to - just ignoring and avoiding their spouse and "doing their own thing."  I want togetherness, not seperateness.  I don't want to be joined at the hip, but I definitely want more qualitytime together.  And I have to think that since we have only been together 3 years (not 30 like so many others here), and since my wife IS on meds and always remembers to take them, and because SHE wants more quality time also, that there's still hope of our becoming more connected in our relationship.  And so, I'm NOT giving up.  (Though I have to admit that thought does sometimes enter my head.)

Newly Married to a husband with ADHD and Bipolar I believe.....

Newly Married to a husband with ADHD and Bipolar I believe..... Submitted by KIMBO on Tue, 05/18/2010 - 12:00.

Thank God I found this site!  Came across it while searching the internet trying to research what may be wrong with my husband as he is destroying our marriage.

We just got Married in January 2010 and already he is threatening divorce, name calling, complaining about the kids, blaming me for all the wrong in his life and so on and so forth.

My nerves are shot!  His family doctor was prescribing him 300mg of Wellbutrin each day but now he is on one of his deviant days and won't take them.  Keep explaining that you can't take this medication when you want to it must be daily.  He is being so bullheaded!

How am I going to get this man accessed for ADHD, our counsellor says he has it but he can't diagnosis for this condition.  I believe he is bipolar also as the highs and lows show that.

Please help any suggestions?

non-believer

My husband's never been formally diagnosed with ADHD, at least from what I know, however, he'll go to doctor appointments and come home with Adderall, and now he's on Concerta. He tells me his psychiatrist gave it to him to 'help him concentrate at work'.  He was diagnosed with hyperactivity as a child and was on the old-time meds back then.  We've been to three different marriage counselors and again, no one has said ADHD to me, however our last and favorite counselor has done wonders for our marriage and wants to work with my husband on behavior changes to help our marriage out.  I ran across an excerpt for the book ADHD and marriage two weeks ago and it just 'clicked'.  It hit all the points of contention in our marriage.  I brought this up, softly, to my husband, and he didn't respond at all.  Lately, I noticed his behavior changing again.  Distracted, irritable, grumpy, lack of patience...I checked on his meds and noticed that he refilled it last the beginning of June, there are still pills in the bottle, and it's the end of August.  We've been married for 13 years, and this is a pattern that I'm just exhausted from.  Things get bad, we seek help, mostly together, but sometimes he gets referred to doctors, who then diagnose him with 'something' (I'm not at the appointments), they give him meds, and he ends up treating himself and doing what he wants.  Our marriage counselor would give us small tasks to complete and he wouldn't complete one without my reminders.  I'm tired and lost and wonder if this pattern will ever end, if there is something more proactive I can be doing to help him, or if this is something I may eventually just have to walk away from. 

ADHD and Substance Abuse

I just found this site after a tough conversation with my husband over substance abuse and how it makes him feel when he is high.  He is NOT diagnosed with ADD but the similarities I read in this article and from other post heightens my suspicion. I also have a girl friend who has been diagnosed and has given me a heads up about what might be going on. 

So, after our discussion last night and him revealing that he feels he can focus better and communicate better after he has gotten high made me become more curious about the effects of marijuana and ADD. Has anyone had any experience with this?  He is seeking accountability through our church on the issue but generally feels that it is ok because he feels better when he is under the influence. He completely lacks the ability to look at it from my perspective however and doesn't understand how this is impacting me. 

He has actually said that he thinks he has ADD but refuses to seek the opinion of a doctor, I think he may have been diagnosed as a kiddo but never got help.  He generally is an unhappy person and gets angry easily, has a great mind for creative ideas and projects but lacks the ability to follow through or make a step by step plan on how to reach a goal. Similar to the article, I generally take over things for him which gets very exhausting.  I love him very much and believe I was brought into his life to help him through the valley, this blog and articles are helping me to understand ADD better and hopefully will be able to encourage him to seek outside help. Very interested however if there is a link between substance abuse and ADD. On another website I did read on article that indicated that there is a link between untreated ADD and substance abuse. Anyone out there? Thank you for insight.

Substance Abuse

According to Dr. Ned Hallowell, quite a number of people use marijuana as a form of self-medication for just the reason you describe - that they feel it calms their minds.  However, as he says "I spend a good deal of time working with my patients to get them to stop using marijuana to self medicate.  Not only is is illegal in most places, which creates its own issues, but there are better options.  Furthermore, some who smoke drop out for a while, which is harmful in many ways."

Statistically, if you have ADHD you are more likely to be a substance abuser than if you don't have ADHD, though it's more complicated than that because a large proportion (but not all) of the increase can actually be associated with conduct disorder accompanying ADHD, not just ADHD alone.  Abuse crosses a large number of substances, not just marijuana.

NOTE:  The presence of substance abuse DOES NOT indicate in and of itself that a person has ADHD.  You need an evaluation with someone knowlegable about ADHD to determine if ADHD is present.

ADHD and the substance abuse both need to be treated, sometimes by different docs or organizations.

what is ADHD?

what is ADHD? Reading this forum let me know that I have the same symptoms towards my wife to be. It scares me because it makes me think that I shouldl not get married since I feel annoyed the way she expresses criticism, wants things the way she wants etc. I don't behave the way I do towards other people but her. Isn't it more due to a compatibility issue? If I already share all the symptoms of a husband with ADHD even before I marry. Should I get married? I don't know what is love anymore. Whatever conversations we have turns into a heated argument and I hate her guts to the very core....I can insult her, break up with her, threaten for a divorce even before I marry her. Isn't it just because we are too different and unable to get along and not that I have ADHD?

symptoms of ADHD

To find out more about ADHD, I suggest you read Delivered from Distraction by Ned Hallowell and John Ratey and Managing Adult ADHD by Russ Barkley.  If you are interested in how to manage ADHD in relationships, read my book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage.  Having ADHD in your relationship doesn't mean that you shouldn't have the relationship, only that you need to be sensitive to how it can influence your relationship.

My Experience with ADD & Marijuana

There is a note from Melissa Orlov at the end of this post providing Dr. Hallowell's opposing viewpoint to this poster's opinion.  What the reader recommends is not in the best interests of someone with ADHD.

I am a 29 year old male with ADD who is currently working working toward a PhD and living with my non-ADD fiance. I've been taking Adderall since 2005. I was single when I got my first Master's degree in 2006, and during that year I studied with Adderall during the day, then typically smoked pot during the final two hours of each night.

The experience was very soothing and pleasant, so much so that I actually recommend it to other adults who struggle with ADD. Pot allowed me to safely escape the steady accumulation of minor conveniences that regularly disrupt my peace of mind (via the disruption of progress in whatever I was trying to do). Note that this is why we ADD folks appear to blow up at minor inconveniences. These events occur when a threshold is passed after a long and steady accumulation of interruptions and obstacles (Normals, i.e., people without ADD, don't view them as consequential because they can get back on track much more easily.).

Ending the day with pot was like regularly going on a mini-vacation from the world that is designed for, and run by, Normals, (COMMENT DELETED AS A GENERALIZATION ABOUT A GROUP.)  Unfortunately, I have developed some kind of allergy to pot, and it now makes me faint in a highly unpleasant manner. No more safe and low cost mini-vacations for me. 

Here is the conclusion that I've been driving toward - i.e., here is the upshot: If your ADD partner is getting treated and recognizes his or her problem, AND he or she also uses pot as part of this process, then I suggest that you consider allowing, supporting, or even embracing this decision.

Granted, pot is illegal, but try to remember that this is somewhat arbitrary (think prohibition). Pot is also safe - e.g., it doesn't hinder driving like alcohol does. And it has effects which are the perfect antidote to the ADD behavioral profile: it soothes us and mellows us out, it makes us more playful and less sensitive, etc. Remember that substance abuse is only abuse if it leads to problematic outcomes. I suspect, however, that a lot of adults with ADD stand to benefit from the effects of pot, just as I did while achieving high marks as a graduate student at a prestigious university (i.e., its not just for losers). 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  I considered taking down this post given that the reader is recommending illegal behavior.  However, I understand that some with ADHD do use marijuana as self-medication for ADHD and so decided to post Dr. Hallowell's opinion about this topic, instead.  He wrote the following in November of 2009 in response to being misquoted in the NY Times about marijuana and ADHD:   "I am trying to correct misunderstandings of what I was quoted as saying in yesterday's (Nov. 23, 2009) NY Times. Many people came away believing I am in favor of people who have ADHD using marijuana as a medication.  THIS IS NOT AT ALL TRUE!!!!  In fact, it is the opposite of what I believe.  I am TOTALLY opposed to the use of marijuana for two practical and important reasons.  First, it is illegal.  Using pot can cause major trouble with the law.  Second, it can lead to a dependency such that all a person wants to do is smoke pot all day.  I have spent many hours trying to help people give up marijuana.  It is cruelly ironic that my words should be so misconstrued.  I am a fervent opponent of the use of marijuana, especially by people who have ADHD.  It can cause huge life problems."

potential future treatment

fuzzylogic72's picture

I disagree with the arbitrary dismissal of the potential benefits of delta9 THC derivatives in the treatment of adhd. I understand the post by esos and support (with caution) your decision. Used judiciously, weed has been very beneficial to me in certain circumstances. However there has been increasing evidence of it being linked to schizophrenia, and since I pretty much my adhd under control without it, developing any more psychological issues isn't worth it to me. Plus, I'm already working hard on controlling my drinking behavior, it would be too easy for me to swap over-drinking with over-smoking. But in summary, it has been helpful for symptom/behavior management for me at one point, and very well could be helpful for certain people depending on their situation and response to it, like any other drug. I.e., dexedrine caused more problems for me than weed ever could, yet adderall is the best for me. To state that weed is bad for all adhders, I believe is misinforming. 

Here is an excerpt form a good article from the Heidelberg University Medical centre:

"The authors also hypothesized that the
effects of cannabinoids in patients may be different
from those in healthy users suggesting an involvement
of the central cannabinoid receptor systems in the pathology
of the disorder. The same conclusion may be
drawn from previous studies [1, 2] and the present case
report, although more information on these atypical
effects should be provided and the underlying mechanisms
are still to be elucidated."

I would highly recommend reading the rest of the article as well. It is also known that nicotine has a beneficial effect on adhd (google it, and use the "scholar" filter to get strictly medical studies on these topics if you want the sources). But does that mean people should go start smoking? Obviously that would be silly, because the short and long term side effects are not worth it. Same goes with weed I think (don't need the tar in my lungs, thanks). Though it did help me for a while in some ways, it also had some minor negative impacts on my liefestyle. Plus, I am taking Wellbutrin for adhd which kills the urge to smoke cigarettes or weed, so I don't even have to think about these options. But the data for the positive effect of marijuana on the dopamine regulation aspect of adhd is certainly there. 

The rest of the article quoted above (but there is lots more on the topic at google scholar) is:

edit: Apparently posting a link to this article triggered a spam filter. It can be found in google scholar under the title "cannabis improves symptoms of adhd; P Strohbeck-Kuehner, G Skopp… - 2008

**PLEASE: If you are an ultra conservative, right-winged, 'I don't read, I just argue' type of person, please don't turn this into a debate. I am not taking sides on this issue, as there are too many valid sides to it, with none being unequivocally proven as right or wrong at this point. I just wanted to make sure that the validity of further study into the potential pharmacological development and the on or off-label therapeutic  implementation of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) as a treatment option for adhd is recognized, rather than summarily dismissed without scientific justification. And again, I choose NOT to smoke weed, but if I had the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial testing the efficacy of Marinol/Dronabinol (current pharmaceutical preparation of THC)  on adhd, I would jump at the opportunity. If there is any new potential treatment for this condition, it should be explored and optimistically addressed in hopes of helping us, those we impact, and future people in our positions. PLUS- The best thing about thc for me now, WOULD be the appetite stimulating effect; I sometimes go two full days without food due the Adderall and Bupropion.

two cents

MagicSandwich's picture

 

Agree with Editor's comments.

Medical pot does have several well-documented beneficial effects such as stimulating hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients and reducing eye pressure for sufferers of glaucoma. However, as many users of medical pot will tell you, the side effect of being STONED all the time loses its charm pretty darn quick.

And more importantly, there is no scientific evidence showing any benefit for the use of medical pot for ADHD symptoms. 

MagicS

so tired and just want to give up

This describes everything perfectly. Married 17 years -2 children (15 yr twins) we found out a couple of years ago about my husband and adhd. Like everyone else, it was an aha moment . . . that explains so much.  He does understand adhd and how it can effect his work. He did a lot of studying about it before he started a new job. He's taken great measures to make sure he doesn't forget appointments etc. and is doing very well. 

When it comes to our marriage, we seem to fit right into the text book version of adhd and marriage (your book and other found info).  Problem is - we - are just another "problem" for him to have to work on. That's how he describes it. It's enough that he has to work and handle everything that comes his way, why do we have to have these problems too? Can't we just "move on"?   Basically, if you can't see the problems, we have no problems. That makes him a happy man.

So, I become the blame for everything and I'm so so tired. I am ready to give up!  I've read so much including your book. I get it and I try so hard to understand how to handle things differently, but I can't hold back my anger and frustration all the time.  And of coarse, when I get angry, he doesn't want to deal any more and I become the reason for the problem. This includes his "friend - girl" that he has developed a relationship with at work - the place he has learned to function!  He has admitted feelings and an emotional connection/affair while in counseling, but still can see no wrong. So, I am the one who is over reacting - therefore, I become the problem again.  How much do I have to give in before enough is enough.

I do love my husband and we do have some very good times that last for a while.  It seems that we have showed ourselves that we are right together (without the adhd). I know that probably sounds bad. But when we factor in all that it brings to the table, I am asking myself more and more lately, if I  really can  handle it anymore.  He is a good man and I would say he's one of the good guys, but now he's lying just to avoid dealing with a problem.  Why can I see the problem and he can't?

I would love for him to read some of what I've discovered such as your book and this particular post.  I don't think that he will.  It would once again be me posing a problem.  He will say that he will read something and then doesn't follow through. I know, imagine that!  He will say that he wants to work on our marriage and make it work, but at the same time he's looking at his watch and just wanting out of the conversation.  As long as he says it, I don't  think he feels he has to do much more.

I do feel like giving up. At what point do I say I quit and just become an adhd marriage statistic?      I have said over and over again, that I believe with all my heart that we can work on this marriage and make it so much better. I am willing to work and accept the difficult challenges it brings. My faith is good and it helps me through so much. I believe that God brought us together and that, not everything is meant to be easy,  but everyone has their breaking points and I feel that I've hit mine.

 

Good question

Hi trust and faith,

It seems to me that you very much want your marriage to work and have tried very hard. A good guy would see that the affair he had was wrong,wouldn't have a girl friend at work for distraction and wouldn't lie to avoid facing problems in his marriage,or look at his watch when you are pouring your heart out to him. The biggest mistake a non-ADHD spouse can do is believe that all our unhappiness from the ADHD spouse is a symptom of having ADHD. Those are not symptoms of a loving spouse with or without ADHD. I have been married to my husband who has ADHD and he is a very loving person who would do anything to make me happy. I have a very strong belief in God and I know he loves us. I think we know when we have done everything humanly possible to make our marriage work and the other person hasn't  that  sometimes we walk away or lose ourselves. Knowing in your heart that there is nothing left to say or try is the hard part to pray about.

i will remember to pray for you

justmetoo

Both of us have ADHD

Interesting blog post.  What about partnerships/marriages where we both have ADD/ADHD?  I hope we are not just doomed!

both partners....

I am also interested in dual ADD/ADHD partners.  My husband was diagnosed and (over) medicated early in life. He took himself off the medication as a teenager and has tried to go on with his life as if he'd outgrown the whole nightmare.  I, on the other hand, have never been formally diagnosed, but have always shown many of the classic symptoms.  My youngest son from my first marriage was diagnosed but never formaly treated, and my son with my current husband also shows many of the traits. (Oddly enough, only my oldest daughter seems to have escaped)  We are a quintessentially dysfunctional family, but have been able to make things work, at least minimally up to this point. But we are tired of struggling alone. Neither of us believes in medicating into submission, but we need to do SOMETHING.  

medication

Medication certainly isn't for everyone, but I don't believe the intent of medication to help with ADHD symptoms is "medicating into submission".  ADHD brains need stimulation to have proper "executive function" and medication can provide that.  I encourage you to read more about medication before deciding.

gardener447

I almost printed this post for my husband to read, but . . . . .

I'm So Exhausted's picture

I met my husband in 1982.  I had anorexia and bulimia.  I   was in the midst of coming to terms with growing up in an alcoholic home.  And I have depression - a major piece of my family's history from my grandmother, to my mother to many of my siblings.

My soon-to-be husband came riding in on his white horse and rescued me. It was wonderful.

I went to counseling.  I went to al-anon.  I started medication for my depression.  I worked damn hard.  10 years later I was a changed woman - the same inside, but better.  I learned to exude my confidence.  I learned I am just fine.  I learned to take responsibility for my own problems.  I learned I am not perfect, and not everyone will like me - and that is OK.

Now we are 28 years later from when I first met my husband.  18 years after I got-it-all-together - and he still wants to rescue me.  Still says our issues are my internal battles conflicting with his internal battles. 

If I show this to him - I know that I know that I know - all he will see is: "Women whose husbands are currently resisting taking full responsibility for treating their ADHD feel that their husbands are highly responsible for the problems in their marriage. This angers them and they show it. Women whose husbands have taken control of their ADHD – and who have allowed their wives to work with them on their ADHD issues - are much more likely to admit that yes, they too had a pretty big role in their marriage problems. They back off, and start working on their own issues (anger, etc), too.

Take real control of your own problems, and your wife will take control of hers."
 

I know this so well.  He will say, A ha! see it is you too.  I told you!

Believe me, for the first 10 years, I really thought all the issues we had were my fault.  He 'kindly' told me they were - and I could see how messed up I was, so I agreed.  That was a pattern for those years, yes it must be my fault because I have eating disorders, depression and grew up in an alcoholic home.

And he will not let me forget.  Anger and denial. He controls everything with his anger and denial. It is hurtful. And I do not feel hopeful our marriage will survive. 
 

  

*******I have recently seen a lady looking back at me from the mirror - and I said, "Hello friend. Long time no see!""*******

I'm So Exhausted re: "got-it-all-together"

18 years later, and he still will not allow that you have changed? That you are a substantively different person?  

My husband is similar.  He cannot recognize changes in ME, because that would require a different response from HIM; and that's too much work for him.  It is easier for him to just keep insisting that I am always yelling, even though I rarely do so.  It is easier for him to pick a fight with me, then tell me I am always angry.  Even though I am generally a good-natured individual.

I see more and more why you are SO EXHAUSTED.

I showed this to him...

masmam1's picture

...and all he said was, "Interesting."  It had no effect, whatsoever.  So, since I realized I was the only one working on it, I moved out in February.  I backed off, wanting to see how much the marriage meant to him.  It obviously didn't interest him to try to work things out...it was kind of a "litmus test" of sorts.  And now, I'm starting the paperwork for filing for divorce, especially since I've recently learned that he is "dating" someone.  Ugh.  It's like the Hoover Dam of emotions has been broken down and is spilling over while I'm coming to terms with my reality. 

Men with ADHD who aren't convinced it matters, was well taken

I just wanted to let you know that what you wrote here was well taken by my husband! He actually read it!

This is no small thing! I am giving a copy to our marriage councelor who thinks that untreated ADHD, my husband was diagnosed as a child ( she is a student councelor at a local college ) has no effect on our marriage, I am giving her a copy of your book too, I am hoping it will help her in the future when couples are dealing with these issues when she starts her practice in marriage counceling. I know we are not the only couple that is going through this and from reading the posts it is more common than anyone knew.

My husband took the article very well he related to everything you said, and the way it was said did not bring on that defensiveness he usually has. He actually really read it! It is a wonderful tool to get "it" started. It takes all the blame away from both persons and leaves the simple truth.

I really like the line about if your wife/husband gave you this to read it is serious! My husband goes into a denial so strong that no matter what I say or do, ( I have moved out of our bedroom and into my home office for an in house separation, until he seeks treatment for his ADHD and addiction, and told him why I moved out, he still thinks this is not serious! ) He continues to ignore everything. I gave him this article and he is now talking about making an appointment with a councelor I gave him the number to 3 months ago to get ADHD and addiction treatment ( the councelor specializes in both! )

Wow! This made me realize that the letter you wrote does make a huge impact in a positive way and coming from an outside source rather than from me did sink in. Wether he seeks treatment or not is his decision, but at least it is all on the table now. Really hard to ignore that letter! Thank you so much for writing it and I hope this feedback about it helps!

Male Bashing

ftw471's picture

Is this website just about male bashing?  My wife loves this site and sends me links all the time and it is always the same thing.  Men are the only downfall of marriage and they all have ADHD, but never does a woman have it nor is she ever a problem with the marriage.  It makes me sick.  No doubt some of it is true but it pertains to women as much as men.  I am sick of men being made out to be the only problem.

Bashing?

Hi - you talk about the entire site being male bashing, with men being made out to be the problem...that may be an artifact of the fact that many more women seek self-help information in general AND that there are more men than women with ADHD (about 2 to 1 in adults) so more of the ADHD partners are male.  The net result of the demographic skew in self-help and site numbers may make it feel "unfair" to you.

One way to combat that is to join the conversation to constructively add your point of view.  There are a number of men with ADHD on the site who have done just that - and without exception they are embraced by the non-ADHD women here who are actually EAGER to hear their point of view, and tend to respond extremely positively.

Your wife's bringing the site to your attention suggests she's interested in getting you to think about the issues that ADHD symptoms add to your relationship (else she would suggest you read another site!)  A very good way to do that, which won't include any of the "male bashing" you refer to, would be to read my book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage (or listen - there's an audio version on this site, too).  And, if you're up for it, a GREAT way to engage your wife positively in the conversation would be to take the book and talk about some of the key ideas in it that strike you.  I hope that she's read enough here (and in my book?) that she'll be able to respond to your thoughts productively - even if they include ideas such as "well, what about YOUR contribution to this?  Here are things that bother me..." or "this comment here is exactly how I feel..."

As the blog post above states - one really important reason to engage with ADHD (treating it, talking about it, agreeing it makes a big difference in your relationship, learning about it, reading my book) is that it then opens the door for your spouse to say "OK - he's committed to making things better and to listening to me...it's time for me to listen to him."

Hope this helps!

I would actually LOVE to

I would actually LOVE to hear what a man with ADHD has to say. I think it would help me out a lot in dealing with my marriage right now. 

Fire away...

The last three years have been challenging for sure... My DW (Dear Wife) has had to make many adjustments herself to the changes in me since my diagnosis. I surely don't shut-down in a heated conversation anymore and she does not always get to have the last word either. There are a few of us ADDer's around to help you out, but there are even more Non-ADDer's that will help you out as well.

What did your wife

What did your wife do differently to make you want to engage in important conversations?

Differently...

My DW did not really do anything different in regards to important discussions. After my diagnosis, Adderall, therapy and lots of reading/posting here, I was better able to See the cues my wife was giving when I was doing something she didn't like or not noticing when she was upset. The old routine was me in ADD Oblivion-land not noticing anything unless it was on fire and right in front of me. My wife would wait for me to notice something was wrong (Because if I gave a crap I'd notice, right?), when I did not notice long enough she would eventually blow up at me over it, catching me completely off guard (Now extremely guilty for not knowing) and pretty much shut-down mode. This makes me look like I Really don't give a crap, making her More mad (if possible)... 17 years of this total. During the shut-down mode conversation I have hundreds of things going through my mind, but just can't grab the Right thought and speak it. If I do get something out, chances are it isn't the best way to say what I'm thinking, then you get the "But That's what you said" argument when you try to correct what you said.

I can see things coming a lot better these days. I can speak my mind better too. I am still adjusting my reaction levels to things, as I can over-react or still under-react to a situation. After 43 years of not seeing visual cues or hearing the verbal ones, it's like learning a new language.

You are my hero!

You are my hero!

Thanks!

I'm FAR from Hero status though... I'm still as un-sure as ever, but trying to plug away at things. I wish I had the energy/time to respond to as many posts as I see here. I actually feel bad about Not responding to some of the posts. Sherri... You sure fill the void. Maybe we should form a support group? ;) You would not believe the chaos going on at my house with my DD#1's emotional state. My DW is beginning to see that some of my talk is not BS. So stressful seeing my little girl going though so much, but I think we may have turned a corner this week. Fingers crossed...

You are equally my hero!

Just the simple fact that you

Just the simple fact that you give a rat's ass about your ADHD and how it has affected you all of your life, that you WANT better for yourself, and that you TRY to at least be aware of which parts of you are attributable to your ADHD and work on improving those areas for the sake of your family/marriage...it DOES earn you 'hero' status in my book, buddy. :) Your posts are insightful and you've given so many of us a glimpse inside of the mind of someone with AD/HD...when our own spouses won't even share with us these things. The only time my husband tries to explain his thoughts or feelings is when he is doing so (or so it seems to me) to make excuses for behaviors that he doesn't seem willing to even try and change. 

I am sorry about your DD#1. I know when my DD was getting ready to turn 12 (hormones) she morphed into something really different than her normal, sweet self...and is still going strong. She's still a very sweet girl, but she can be hell on wheels too. Oddly enough, it is just WITH ME. She is an angel to everyone else. LOL Still yet, I want her to see her 'fault' in things more than she does...which she almost refuses to see/admit. Hoping things improve for you guys...and I hate that the 'ah ha' moment might have to come for your wife in the form of seeing your daughter go through what you have. ((HUGS))

Sherri

Thanks again, Sherri

I was just as tired of all the miscommunication as I'm sure my DW was. I had a blueprint to resolve a Big Problem and being a programmer I hate unresolved problems. I have just wanted to start doing things better and see where it all played out. We were going nowhere fast before and now it appears that we are moving in the right direction. I know the bogged down feelings many of the guys must be feeling and I don't know how the "Ah Ha" moment happened, but I'm glad it did. I can write out my thoughts much easier than saying them in person. You guys would probably think I was the wrong person meeting me in the real world. My marriage without change on both of our parts was doomed. I believe change is slowly occurring, not nearly quick enough for me, but I'm as stubborn as I am impatient, so I give it as much time as it needs.  

My DD#1 is 14.5 and the hormones are raging for sure. She may be more like me than I previously thought, but stress could have amplified some ADD behaviors that made them noticeable this year. My behaviors blew up under similar stress. I think she will be okay, because she still Talks to me... Priceless :)

My husband has yet to

My husband has yet to acknowledge his ADHD is effecting our marriage... I can totally relate to your examples of not noticing something, getting mad over it, then shutting down.  I just wish he could see what is happening... Do you have any advice for this situation? Or anything else?

Well...

I believe the biggest challenge is for the ADDer to realize their is a problem. My ADD was discovered because I was so stressed and anxiety ridden that I Knew something was wrong. I called my GP, who gave me the quick Depression/Bi-polar test, thought my Bi-polar score was high and sent me to a psychiatrist. I knew I wasn't Bi-polar, but wanted an answer. It took him about 10 minutes... He asked me to read "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!" and I could not believe all the things I read that Were me...

The way I thought my mind worked was terrible. I thought it was just my selfish, dark, impulsive, know the Right choice, but not make it, just "ME". I did not want to talk about it because I felt so Bad about it. WHO else but I could think this way. Very isolated, very scared of being discovered as a fraud, Not as smart as my bosses believe, not a good husband (Just 1 failure away from divorce). You feel very entrenched, like it's your last stand and once the Real You is discovered, it's All Over... Shields on FULL at all times, show No Weakness.

That book changed everything for me...

Yes, that's my biggest

Yes, that's my biggest challenge right now. My husband does not see his ADHD is causing a problem. I really admire you for accepting the ADD and doing something about it. It really speaks a lot about your character. :)

Thanks :)

Being a programmer there is nothing I hate worse than the idea of an unsolvable problem. I thought "I" was an unsolvable problem for most of my adult life. I developed was to Try and minimize the damage my un-checked mind could cause and my DW unknowingly set clear boundaries early in our relationship which helped in many ways. I did try to hide my screw-ups because I never knew what would be the straw that broke the camel's back. 

Once I knew there was a logical explanation for many of my quirks, I understood the science now I could work "Damage Control" and correct some bad coping mechanisms. Almost 3 years later, I'm still working on things...

I appreciate the positive feedback ;)

Not really...

There is some bashing both ways here. I'm an ADDer who was diagnosed almost 3 years ago and have found this site to be remarkably helpful. There is some venting that goes on here and I've done my fair share, but for the most part, people here are looking for some insight and hope that an ADD / Non-ADD couple can make it through their differences. 

If you look around, you might find some helpful information. You can also add some of your own insight if you see a comment that needs a new point of view.

Looking for excuses

Ok, so a few months back I found this web site, and read Melissa and Dr. Hallowell's terrific book.  Here is my problem, my husband who has ADHD, we have known for 20 years; was all about it for about 10 minutes until he realized someone else could not do all the leg work for him.  I was more than happy to do whatever I could.  I have told him all along that if he would just do his part, I would be right there with him.  

Next week our youngest son, whom my husband has jealousy issues with, (nobody is sure why) goes back to college, he goes to school 8 hours from us so we don't get to see him much during the school year.  Mostly because of the financial situation my husband has put us in. Anyway, my husband seems to be in complete destruct mode right now.  Last year was my sons first year in college and moving him in was awful.  My husband sat and watched my two sons and myself unpack the car and carry stuff up 3 flight of stairs to my sons dorm.  He was pouting, he does this a lot.  There was no reason for it.  When the pouting got him nowhere, he picked a fight with me and my son. We had a similar situation this past Spring when we brought my son home from college.  My son called home a few weeks before we went to get him to tell my husband that he had an issue with his car speakers and could my husband bring tools to fix the problem so we could ride home with music.  My husband said, no problem.  Well when it came time to actually do it, my husband acted like a spoiled child and basically refused to help my son.  My husband is an electrical engineer by degree, but acted like he had never seen wires in his life.  My son who knows very little figured it out on his own and had it fixed in 10 minutes.  This time, since we had two cars, my son and I just left my husband and did what we needed to do and then drove home.    I am tired of never having anything calm, we never know when my husband is going to go off.  The worst part is, the more my husband learns about ADHD, the more excuses he comes up with for the way he acts.  It's like he bends his behavior to what he learns about ADHD.  

He is seeing an ADHD coach, she has told him he needs to become a part of his family as we have tried to include him, it is he who is excluding himself.  

I have told him I am leaving, he claims he doesn't want me to, he claims he wants to do something but won't.  He is waiting for his ADHD coach to do it for him, or me, I am tired of all of this.  HE claims he doesn't see himself doing this.  How can he not???  Help???  I am at my wit's end, my sons are getting to a point where they are done with him.  I know I can't stop this, what can I say to him to get him to see and not destroy what remains of his relationship with his sons?

socmom

See my comment above

masmam1's picture

Yep.  That's my DH to a "T."

Holy cow. This resonated with

Holy cow. This resonated with me more than anything I have read on this topic yet. What really sets it apart, I believe, is the realistic, non-confrontational, and truly helpful tone it takes. More than one very important relationship in my life has been with someone with ADD/ADHD, and I have always struggled with how to express to them what I was feeling or try to get them to help me understand how to fix our daily battles without getting frustrated or seem like I was being mean or belittling them - or, worse, bottling up my emotions and taking it out on them all in one go at a later time.

I am not yet married, but I was raised by a mother with ADHD. I went through the same cycles that many of you describe here, and I feel you - when you say it was immensely frustrating, it's hardly adequate to describe the complex well of emotions you go through. It was a relief to finally move out of the house when I went away to college, because I didn't have to rely on her any longer. This removed a lot of the points of contention between us, and our relationship has grown much healthier as a result. However, in a way it was saddening that, in 18 years of butting heads, of her taking an endless parade of meds and seeing various counselors and behavioral therapists, and of me trying out various coping mechanisms, we never really found a way to live happily together. The only thing that somewhat "fixed" our relationship was limiting it. Now that I'm a grown woman and it's comfortable - nay, possible - for me to be self-reliant for my basic needs, we're able to reconnect emotionally. We've started to break down those walls that I put up all those years to avoid disappointment.

BUT: Against all odds, against the advice of the voice in the back of my head, against the lessons of independence that my childhood has taught me (which are effective for surviving  childhood with an ADHD parent, but pretty damn lonesome in the long-run), I've fallen in love with and am in a committed relationship with a man with ADHD. He and I had been friends for a year before we became romantically involved and our lives became inextricably intertwined, so I was well aware of his ADHD, his personal traits, his habits, his attitude about it - all well before we ever started our relationship. He often confided in me his sneaking suspicions that he had ADHD, and described to me his symptoms, and I sympathized with him. It's tough, I know, I told him. Talk to a professional, I said. It will help. To my knowledge, though, he never did see a therapist between the time we talked about it and the time we started dating. We've talked about it since, too, when a mutual friend fought with him about his constant lateness and neglect of their friendship. I gently explained to him that the friend had a valid point: most people don't think the way you do. Your friend felt unappreciated, and like you're wasting his time. I get your frustration, and I get that you aren't doing this maliciously. I know in my heart that you have the best intentions. And sometimes, I said, I feel like your friend does. I've been dealing with this my whole life, though, I explained, and I've fought about it too much. So for me, I make a point to just shrug off the little things. After all, you've never left me waiting for you in a ball gown before; when it's important, you haven't let me down. And he seemed to be responsive to this. Appreciative, even. But I was only fooling us both. I should have known, eventually the little things build up. I found myself always making sure I had a backup plan whenever I was supposed to see him, or having an alternate source when he was supposed to get something done for one/both of us. One night, when he neglected to get what he had promised to bring for a party with all of our friends (and then started making what I saw as excuses, no less, which was very reminiscent of my mom), I just flew off the handle. I took out all my pent-up anger at him - not only from past incidents in our relationship, but also from the 18 years I had lived in my mother's house - which was obviously very damaging to our relationship.

On the positive side, I also admitted to myself how emotionally and mentally exhausting it is to live your life with such uncertainty, without being able to rely on your partner for even the most basic things. I was ready to confront him calmly about it, to sit him down and have a talk about how I felt, how he felt, and what we were going to do about it. But when the time came, almost immediately after I sat down, I literally could not stop crying. I was rambling, and he couldn't make any sense out of what I was saying. Why? Well, because, earlier that day, in a last-ditch effort to try to understand him, I gave my mom a call, and asked what she would do - how she would feel - what she would want to hear if she were him. Essentially, she told me 'I'm sorry, I really feel for you, but there's nothing you can do. People don't change. It's doomed. Don't ever marry a jerk like him or like me, the way your dad did.' I was crushed. I thought she and I had both grown since the head-butting years of my childhood and adolescence, but she had nothing new to offer: just a depressing confirmation of all that my experience thus far had taught me.

However, I continued to talk with him, and we reached a point of understanding from which we could start working on our issues while remaining together - that was the most important thing; at all costs we would stay together. I still stand by that: I love HIM, not his ADHD. I think the part we had a hard time figuring out, though, was that we were both fighting against that, and not each other. This disorder is such an integral part of our experiences and who we are, though, that it's always very hard to separate from ourSELVES. I understand that neither of us can just make it "go away," but I've reached a point where I'm willing to work on my issues, rather than letting them dictate my future and the terms of my relationship. This will be much easier if my partner is willing to make a conscious effort to not repeat the patterns that I've already had to go through. And he'll be much more willing to do that if he realizes that it's beneficial to him, too, not just something he has to do to cope with my baggage. This post GREATLY inspired me to head down that road, and I believe that this is also exactly what he needs to hear. So for that, THANK YOU.

Wow

You were the smack in the face I needed.  Your partner wants it to work, he is not making excuses or trying to get out from under anything.  The one thing I have come to realize is that living with someone with ADHD, is like living with someone stubborn who speaks a foreign language.  They don't even try to understand you, they want you to come over to their way.  The problem with that is the majority of the world does not speak that language so it doesn't work very well.  I am tired of raising my 3rd child who refuses to grow up.  I want a man in my life. 

I recently stopped taking a medication I have been taking for the last 5 years as a cancer preventative, I had breast cancer.  I am going through a withdrawal from that medicine that had effected me in many lovely ways.  Again I am trying not to let a problem in my life have a significant effect on my marriage, again my husband can't look past himself to try to make my life a little easier.  So 5 years ago he couldn't be there for me and again now when I need him he is nowhere to be found again.  I am tired of being the only one who has to put any effort into our relationship.

This will never work until my husband decides it matters to him, and it is very obvious to me I don't matter enough to him to make it work.  Thanks for what you wrote, nobody can understand living with someone with ADHD until they have walked a mile in our shoes.  It helped me so much to see someone else be successful in their adhd relationship.  Much continued success to you.

socmom

How did I make it this far?

I have been reading so much on this site and after a particularly bad day, I'm posting.  Don't even know what I'm doing but here goes...

Like so many here, it has been quite a relief to realize that for all these years, I've been dealing with ADD.  My story is already written in so many of these posts.

I have been married 21 years, been together 25.   Fits the profile to a T.  Very hyper-focused during the courtship; distracted completely and when not - completely hyper-focused on something else.  This can be just about anything.  A terrible interrupter; very very defensive. I am always told what I should be doing to fix something, or what a could've done, or how I can say it; do it; hear it; or interpret it(my favorite) differently then everything would be fine!  Cannot keep a conversation on track to save his life.  Is completely unaware of the passing of time (no time management skills at all); spends impulsively; does not pitch in unless asked..... I guess I could go on and on and on....

The only thing I do not see in him is the fact that he is compulsively good about paying bills.  And he is somewhat of a workaholic for his job which he has never had problems with.

He recently was recommended by our marriage therapist (this has been on-going for 15 years or more) that he get tested for ADHD and try a medication.  He has adamantly refused in the past.  Instead of that, he found a friend to prescribe him some Intuniv.  He is on 30mg a day.  I would really like to see him get a real assessment, but he is balking at this.  I am not seeing much of a difference in his behavior.  He, on the other hand, is raving about how his mind is calming down.

I am on one hand, so relieved to know that he cannot help so much of this behavior.  It still hurts deeply, but at least I do not keep wondering if it is because he doesn't care.

Of course, this leads to the question, why if you are wondering that, would you stay with such a painful relationship for soooo long?  And the answer lies in the fact that I have my own issues: raised in an alcoholic home (both parents) with some pretty weird dysfunction.  I have been working on my own issues with this for a few years now, but some of the main ones include a severe fear of abandonment ( I tend to stay in a painful relationship so as not to be alone); co-dependency; feeling the need to take care of everyone but myself; and never feeling very secure about myself.   I have made some really big strides in this and am now at a place where I have to question how long I am willing to see if he is ever going to take this ADD stuff seriously. 

He is a good man in many ways, but as much as he says he loves me and wants it to work; I can't help but notice the lack of action.  Not much in his actions speak to this.  I have been deeply unhappy for so much of the time.  I keep thinking that we are the worst possible combination of personality issues that could work together!

I am feeling alone, desperate and confused.  My kids are all adults and they have watched this and been affected by it their whole lives too.  I cannot tell them how really unhappy I am.  Christmas, which I used to love, has become a bleak time for me.   

Thanks to all who wrote here so I don't feel so alone.  I know I am not.  And that is a help in itself.

 

Love

Ask yourself this, do you still love him?  That was the first and most important question I asked myself when I decided I could not stand it anymore. We saw many counselors over many years.  It wasn't the counselors that made the difference it was the work we put in.  And believe it or not it is both of you that have to work.  The good thing is once you start moving forward together it should pick up momentum.

My spouse like yours was convinced it was something I was or was not doing.  I kept telling him and giving him examples of how I did exactly what he thought I should be doing and how he still was not doing what the therapists or I asked him to do.  During this time I also had to stay patient.  My friends came in very handy and I am very fortunate to know I could vent to them.  

I wish I could give you the magic solution, but all I can tell you was that one day my husband woke up a different man, even when I ask him, he doesn't really know what made him change.  He said though, that the way he is behaving now seems to come more natural to him.  He is very loving, he knows and owns the bad behavior and even though he falls back into it now and again, it is no longer his way of life.  He sees how happy we can be when he is aware of others, aware of me and the consequences of ignoring other people.  He enjoys the happiness and closeness we are sharing for the first time in over 25 years together.  Our sons have also commented to him and me that they are happy and appreciative of the effort he is making.  The funny thing is, it doesn't seem like an effort at all.

I think it is so hard for the non-adhd to understand how our spouses or others who matter to us go through life with ADHD and just can't see how destructive they are.  We have to keep in mind, they are not doing this intentionally, this is something going on with their brain that they have to retrain. 

Put yourself in your husbands place, no matter how you react to something, someone always has something negative to say about it.  People you love and you feel are supposed to love you don't think you ever do anything right.  That was how I approached things this final try I was giving our marriage.  I got a glimpse one day of how bad all this made my spouse feel and I decided if "WE" were going to do this we BOTH had to.  That was what I told my husband. 

This all could not have happened at a worse time.  Like your husband I never had to worry about my husband and jobs.  He has always been successful in that area.  Recently though he got let go at his job of over 12 years because they were downsizing.  The funny thing was I had been telling him for a couple of years he needed to move on.  He is very intelligent, far more than he will ever give himself credit for.  But anyway, the day he got let go, I came home, he was lying on our couch and you could just see the defeat in his eyes. 

I knew that would be the make or break moment for him.  I told him nicely but firmly to get up, when he found the job he just lost, he had worked with recruiters, call them again, they would help him.  He has also been contacted over the years by one of the recruiters with different opportunities.  The good thing was he did get up, I kept telling him I knew he could do this, he just had to believe in himself.  I spent the next few days being his cheerleader.  Lo and behold less than a week after being let go he had a new job, making a significant amount more than he had before.

More importantly he finally saw that I believed in him, and maybe for the first time that I always had.  I really think all of this forced him to see that he was the only one holding him back, my negativity during the bad times did not help, but inevitably it all began with him. 

I now have the husband I always knew was there.  We have a give and take relationship.  It is the relationship I always knew we could have.  I know we will have trials in the future, but I think we are both much better equipped to handle them then we ever have been. 

For me, I found a friend whose husband is also ADHD, it is hard to talk to someone who does not deal with ADHD firsthand like you are and have them be helpful or understanding.  You may have good friends who think they understand, but trust me they do not.  Keep talking with people on this site, I am happy to keep talking to you. But if you love your spouse DO NOT GIVE UP.  I believe if I had, I would always have wondered if I could have done something to get through to him.

I hope I do not offend you, when I first met my husband I knew there was something different about him, I knew I was put in his life for a reason, I have a fairly strong faith in God.  That is what has kept me moving forward all these years.  Sometimes slamming my head so hard into the wall that is ADHD, I wondered if I would come out of this ok.

So far, I have.  My sons understand that life is not easy, they have seen a lot of bad, but they also saw both of their parents work hard to make a marriage and family whole again.  No matter what ever happened between my husband and I, I always made sure my kids knew how much I love my husband and that what was going wrong with our marriage had to do with his ADHD.  It was a serious problem that they learned to be aware of, but I also taught them that it was not something we had to accept, we could demand more from their father, my husband.  Because we are family we would get through it together.  We have, we are, and we will continue to.  

This is the first Christmas in I cannot tell you how many that I have not felt that things are bleak, that I have not had an overwhelming sense of sadness.  My happiness is spilling out, I am truly  blessed and I know that I  really was put in my husbands life for a reason.

While I probably should, I don't worry about him reverting back for too long if he does because he has seen what it's like when he fights the ADHD and he likes the results too much to throw it all away. 

ADHD is a lot like being an alcoholic or a drug addict, until they are ready to meet the behavior and own it, nothing will change.  I don't think your spouse wants to hurt you, I just believe he can't see the way out.  He has convinced himself that it is all you and even when he sees it's not, he can't understand what to do to change. 

I had my husband read the book by Melissa Orlov and Dr. Hallowell.  He started to see what I was talking about.  I would tell him what others were experiencing in marriages effected by ADHD.  I had him read entries, both mine and others with ADHD.  Somewhere something along the way broke through and gave him the answers.  Again, if you genuinely love him don't give up on him. 

As far as the meds, you should see a pretty quick change in him if the meds are doing their job.  He has had many meds over the years, what he is currently on is most successful.  Don't be afraid to remind your husband that if he is feeling anything different because of the meds he is on that they is something to this whole ADHD diagnosis.  You have to get him to understand his part in making this good for both of you not just him. 

Merry Christmas, take it from someone who was at the end of their rope, if you love him the two of you can do this. 

socmom

Lifted my spirits!

Thanks socmom for the input.  I guess it does help to have someone who does understand what this is like to live with.  I have a friend who has a husband with lots of the same traits and I recently mentioned that maybe she is dealing with ADD too.  We are able to at times, have ourselves laughing at the similarities between our husbands.  This helps at times too.

I really liked what you wrote.  The fact is: I do love him.  As painful as our relationship has been for me, I do not want to leave.  (not just because I am unable, because I think I could if I had to)  And he has never brought this up ever.  He does say he loves me and I believe him.  However, it is really hard to keep believing that when the actions to back up the words aren't there.

We have struggled together, yet separately for so long and not knowing what we were dealing with.  I am trying very hard to be patient with it all.  

He came home from work today and was rather introspective - not a normal place for him to be.  So we ended up having a good discussion.  Whether he remembers any of it tomorrow leaves to be seen!  But he did explain that he feels he is in a box with no doors.  And now on the medication he sees a door.  But he does not know how to get to it yet.

I did buy the book and we both have read it.  I think he read it like he reads most things - by skimming it.  I hope in time he will be more interested in the contents.  I am holding on because I want to.  I do think that if we can both make it through some big hurdles we have the chance and a renewed relationship.

Have a wonderful Merry Christmas and thank you again!

I will be back to the site much more.

Such a hard road

I have been married for thirteen years and have two sons ages 14 and 11. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school and his parents chose to not address the diagnosis.  My husband and I have struggled for so long.  When my youngest turned 2, I began to notice  many of the signs of ADHD.  I have worked for 11 years in the special education field and have had a lot of experience helping those with physical, emotional and mental impairments.  Although my husband was resistant and at some points furious, I still made the choice to have my son evaluated thru the school district and most recently evaluated by a Neuropsychologist specializing in the field of ADHD. He of course has been officially diagnosed with ADHD and an anxiety disorder and I am now in the process of helping my son get the appropriate help he needs to cope and function in a matter that is positive and beneficial for him and the people in his life.  My husband refuses to do the same. Our marriage has be tough,  I cry and cry.  I try to express to him why I feel the way I do and how much I need it to be better for us as well as our boys,  this has gone on for all the years we have been together and still I stand by him and hope for a miraculous change.  I am aware this change may never come because my husband refuses to care for himself and get the help and skills to cope to make our family a positive, happy and functional unit.  Yes I have told him I want to leave.  Yes, I feel like such a nag to get even the simplest tasks accomplished like having his coat hung on the hook instead of thrown on the kitchen table. Or getting projects completed.  Do I feel like there is no hope? Yes.  Do I feel like I am angry and disappointed all the time? Yes.  Do I feel like I am living his life and ruining our boy's lives. Yes.  Will he seek treatment. No.  Will he get family counseling. No.  Does he blame everything on everyone around him. Yes.  Does he pace, talk to himself, constantly move his legs when sitting, constantly interrupt and have to be in control of everyone and everything around him at all times? Yes.  I told him about this article.  I read a paragraph of it to him.  His face showed the shock.  His pride went into overdrive and he wanted nothing to do with any of it.  I take full responsibility for my actions and frustration, anger and dysfunction for the past 13 years. I attend therapy for myself to learn to cope and deal with life on a regular basis.  I even have the boys seeing a therapist to have an outlet to talk-thru their feelings since they are exposed to so much dysfunction in their home.  Do we argue in front of them, yes.  Is it a constant debate and competition for my husband?  Always. Is it humiliating, embarrassing and exhausting for me and the boys? Definitely.  Do I have serious health issues from all the stress? Yes. And this has been addressed by my MD as well as the therapist.  Has suggestions of divorce or separation been made many many times? Yes. I worry our boys will grow up, move away and never come to visit.  All I can do is pray that I am helping my son with ADHD get the skills to cope and learn to function so he doesn't have the same experience his father has had in his life and marriage.  I love my husband.  If I was done, I would've moved out and left him a long time ago.  But I am unsure what to do or how to live my life and be successful, happy and healthy without his ADHD affecting every aspect of existence.  Do I lay down and never open my mouth to express how crushed my heart is everyday by his lack of emotion, attention, respect and decency?  I am such a fighter for myself and for my boys.  It is hard to not let him know how much he is hurting us knowing that his ADHD doesn't give him the ability to even truly hear what I am expressing.  It is so sad.

Your post is heart-breaking

Your post is heart-breaking and soul crushing. I don't come here as often as I used to, so I know there is a reason something inside of me led me to come here today. I hope it was to help you. I have been in your shoes. You can read my history, I won't go into it all here. What I am here to urge you to do is just one thing. It isn't simple but it will change your life..today. Your entire focus of your life is on your husband. I URGE you to change this. Change it right now. I'm not saying leave him, I'm not talking separation or divorce. I am just simply saying quit letting your life be all about HIM. What he isn't giving you. What he isn't contributing to the marriage. How hard it is to get him to help by simply hanging up his coat. First and foremost, your children are probably affected...I know mine were/are. However, that situation can improve dramatically if you just stop letting him be the focus of the entire family. You probably spend so much time feeling bad about his actions, his inactions, his moods, his behavior that you are, unintentionally showing your children that their father has reigns on everyone and everything. This is my biggest regret with my kids. I personally feel that is where a lot of the resentment lies. Not only does it make them resent the ADHD parent for stealing so much of their lives/time/thoughts but it makes them resent us for letting them.

I urge you to read the book CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie ASAP. You CAN be peaceful and happy inspite of your situation and it will open your eyes and answer a lot of your questions about why you stay and what you can do to improve your situation AS IT IS today. You have the power. YOU have the power. YOU HAVE THE POWER. Once you start making changes, the ramifications of that are often surprising and (although very tough at times) change does come...even if that change means that you find the courage/strength to leave...or if it simply means that you find a way to restore peace and joy into your life and the lives of your children, always keep moving forward and striving to not let his ADHD destroy/run/control your life. Even if it means pushing him off of a (hypothetical) pier and letting him sink or swim...he just might surprise you. Remove yourself from his crosshairs, remove him from yours, and start to heal. You're in my thoughts and prayers. (((HUGS)))

ADHA vs OCPD

Great read. Spot on! --- Would love your take on something I have been unable to locate any information on/about:  I have ADHD. My wife displays some classic characteristics of someone with mild OCPD. She refuses to consider even the remotest possibility that she may have a "disorder" ... of any kind. She is very quick to say things like, "I could have done it differently" / "I know I am not perfect" etc., but in 25+ years I have only witnessed 4 occasions where she acknowledge full responsibility for actions that may have caused a problem --- and never without hours of exhaustive,  laborious back & forth. To suggest that she might be wrong invites a reaction that is difficult to describe. She becomes agitated and defensive while vehemently denying that she has any objection to the suggestions that she might be in the wrong, yet refuses to say anything close to, "Sorry --My bad --I screwed up --__"

 

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