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Not Getting Enough Sex in Your ADHD Marriage?

Have you ever wondered what’s a “normal” sex life?  There is so much buzz around the topic of sex in the forums right now, I think it’s time to write about sex – what might be going on if you’re having too little…and then I’ll write about getting away from porn and sex addiction in another post.

Research suggests that how often you have sex varies, on average, by age – declining as you get older (is there ANYTHING besides heartburn that increases with age???!)  Before you get excited or depressed by the numbers below, make sure to keep reading… 

  • Age 40-49 – average is 69 times a year if married, less if not
  • Age 50-59 – 54 times a year
  • Age 60-69 – 33 times a year

Note, however, that the averages lie because the distribution of sexual encounters is actually quite uneven.  In fact, 15% of adults are having over half of the sexual encounters.  So statistically speaking, it’s very likely you aren’t batting the averages above.

As for not getting enough sex, 15% of couples report that they have had no sex in the last 6-12 months, and about a third report that at least one partner has low sex drive.

Conversations going on in the forum right now suggest that many are struggling with ADHD partners, particularly male ADHD partners, with little interest in sex.  I run into this a lot with my consulting practice, and it is clearly linked to the complex, often negative feelings in these relationships.  There seems a significant correlation between the amount of controlling and critical behavior in a non-ADHD partner (particularly a woman) and the desire of her man to “risk” having sex with her.  The angrier she is, the more likely any sexual advances will be rejected (“too tired,” or “not in the mood” or  even “stay away, you jerk!”).  This has a dampening effect on desire (okay – that’s an understatement!)  After a while, even if he might want sex, he’s unwilling to deal with the possibility of anger.  It’s the really, really negative side of parent/child dynamics.  Put bluntly, if you’re in parent/child dynamics, your sex life is probably dead.  No one wants to have sex with their child…or with their mom.

This is not to “blame” the non-ADHD spouse.  There is anger on the ADHD partner’s side, too, that can even make going to bed stressful (“will he want sex even though I’m exhausted from all of his stuff that I’ve had to do today?” and “he only pays attention to me when he wants sex – that’s not okay!” are common themes.)  The stress is easy enough to read…and ADHD partners tend to simply back off rather than deal with it.

But that’s not the only thing going on.  It takes effort and attention to sustain an interesting sex life over the course of many years.  Scheduling sex may seem like a buzz kill but it’s often necessary for getting the undivided attention of an ADHD partner.  Don’t resent that fact – embrace it!  Having great sex when you schedule it is a whole lot better than not having it (and becoming resentful about that) because you have it in your mind that it should be spontaneous like it used to be.  Not completely in the mood at the time that you scheduled it?  That’s okay – just start playing around – have some fun with it…you’ll be in the mood soon enough.

Medications can also play a role.  Some stimulants decrease sex drive.  And I’ve had a very few people report to me that stimulants impact their arousal.  These aren’t reasons to not take these medications, but if you have a sudden decrease in sexual interest you can’t explain in other ways, test to see if your medication is involved.

Medications aren’t always negative when it comes to sex, by the way.  Many with ADHD find that good treatment helps their sex life over time.  A few also use short acting stimulants before sex to help provide the focus they need to as stay engaged as they would wish.

Menopause also decreases sex drive for many women.  In fact, fully 80% of post-menopausal women report some sort of sexual dysfunction – from decreased libido to dryness, pain and more.  Talk with your doctor if you are experiencing this.

Finally, there’s the issue of sexually explicit materials.  Since it’s so easy to find sex on the internet, many, many couples are dealing with this issue.  Add the tendency for ADHD men to LOVE the computer (all those dopamine squirts that watching quick cuts in video games feel so good!) to the impulsive characteristics of ADHD,  as well as difficulty turning down something interesting today for the long-term benefit of it, and you have many ADHD spouses seeking out porn.

If you and your partner have gotten caught up in that, there are specific steps you can take to deal with it.  This post is getting long…I’ll write on that next.

Comments

I am ADHD, so is my son.

supratic's picture

I have read so many comments in your forum about wives having trouble with ADHD fathers.

let me tell you my life story in short. 

I from childhood was best maths student in class, almost 2 years ahead of class. My brother was indeed best student with beautiful hand writing, best artist, food baller of school team and very good student too. I was in hostel and never studied. My handwriting was so bad, no one read my answers and gave me average marks. When I was 15, I started practising writing. At 18, while preparing for exam, my hand froze and had to take medicine. I had blood rate of 140-180 , with time I have brought it down to 100 now. I did excellent and got selected to best engineering college , IIT with 326 rank. Today I am a teacher at IITD and still cannot write on board and have devised good ways  to teach without writing on board.
I am very forgetful, can't eat without dropping food, like to sing and laugh loudly, not like a gentleman.... this has destroyed my married life.

My son turned out to be worse ADHD. Individual event he is never at fault. But he is the Centre of all conflict. He just refuses to write, cannot concentrate for 5 minutes. Good in maths, good in sports.

When he was born and was in stomach, i used to sing to him. As a result, after birth he became too much attached to me. Only my voice could make him calm. As he grew, I was his best friend, teacher and everything.
My wife would rarely physically hug or kiss him.

In everything, finds me the best teacher in the world, loves me a lot.

The school got mad as he would not write a single word, as he knew he will complete it with me. This started draining me. My wife started blaming me of spoiling him.

Counselor say his mark sheet from childhood and showed trend that he lacked fine motor skills. 

To make things worse, i am an agnostic and and my wife is a strong believer of God. My son who used to ptay in past is becoming an agnostic too as even in his history book it writes that Budha's phylosophies were not related to God but life.

My ADHD was not know to me till my son was diagnosed a few months back. It is then I realized I am ADHD too. More of a writing/ spelling/forgetful ness problem.

We have child about 8 years into marriage. She was busy in her work and didnot realize my addiction to pornography and Internet game of Go.

After child birth, we came back to india. She was a bakery specialist, but delhi was very expensive and I could not make a buisness for her.

She started watching my mistakes and getting angry. When she say similar problem with so, she started blaming me.

She would pick up fights because we forgot to switch of lights or the heater. She will make so much trouble that we could not bear, both me and my son.

This some time ignite violence in m to either my son or wife. she would not stop till i did something.

She started  using Touch-me-not as a weapon. This made me more violent and I think i was never in normal state of mind.

She twoce threw me out of In-laws (my parents house) and once with my  son when I did not have money in pocket.

many time locked us out of home, once I came home to see my son standing out of home. She told me I could come in, not him.

We spent the whole night in the car with ignition on. It was  cold winter night.

despite my status, she would degrade me in everything, even in studies calling me a fluke.

her touch me not and my violence started escalating when my son was diagnosed  as ADHD.

i started realizing my triggers and have learnt to control myself, but how can I become un-forgetful?

Unfortunately my wife is not so good in studies and suffer from inferiority complex herself. She is an introvert and we bot are outgoing. She would not go to any friend's house and is always supersensitive to comments and we both like friends.  Unfortunately families do not like father and so visits, they like family visits.

 

As my son grew, his extraordinary demands (lots of pens), extreme apatite for food increased. he wanted to eat out. His mother say it as extravagance even though we could afford it.

She started punishing him by taking away his playstation, nintendo, and Mp3 players.  because he could not perform at school.

She started controlling the money i had in pocket or the driving license.  one day I took everything off from her and she thought I was having an affair.

When I am at home, he is the best boy, but when I am not at home, she remains busy in her core and he feels bored and watches Tv whole day.

Mother and son would continuously fight. He started developing compulsive stealing.

I tried helping him by giving money to him and freedom. Only one rule, he has to tell me what he has spent.

I cannot deny but can give my displeasure if I wanted  to.  i would fill in his money nag when he spends.

yet he continued but repented and was getting cured.

gradually, I could not bear anymore.   

I put him in hostel as at home he has no friends.

I made him repeat class 6, which he agreed.

This way he won't have to study but can concentrate of handwriting and writing skills.

he also has problem in writing in logical maner.

Today also he is problematic, but now since the hostel knows, they are making ways. All students have been asked to ignore his mistakes.

The dorm mam, talks to him asking him to think why problem occurred and find self answer.

Practice is the only way. If he can't write even then, I have to approach supreme court to allow computer as a way to write exams.

But my problem with my wife remains:

No respect, no trust and no sex.

 

 

 

Dr. Supratic Gupta Assistant Professor, IIT Delhi, India ADHD, marriage in trouble, wife suffering from inferiority complex and identity crisis, Moving ahead in life to create hobies and things that make me happy. Hope she understands and changes, or

Sexless marriage

We have been married for 25 years. My husband only desired sex with me once and it was on the wedding night. From then, he only desired sex with me when he woke up in the early predawn hours finding himself horny. Even that only occurred no more than 1/2 a dozen times per year. Very soon, our sex life was as good as non-existent. He was never interested basically. However, he would masturbate and asked me to do it for him. Countless attempts (many tearful) of communications from me were faced with all kinds of creative/ridiculous excuses and persistent procrastination of promises to seek help. Yes, he told me as early as 20 years ago that it was his problem and he would seek help. He never did. Ok, I don't know how to stop. I will just stop now. Sex is only a small part of our problems. I basically endure everything else as a non-ADHD spouse for 25 years. I am on the verge of giving up. He only recently agreed to get evaluated to see if he has ADHD. This is after the 25 years of hell he put us (me and two children 24 & 21) through. We all hate him. My children already gave up on this family.

I know what you mean.....

Sally...Hugs to you....I've been married to ADHD for 34 years and feel the same way you and your children do. We have 5 children and they have all at one time or another said the same thing.  I know that hate is a strong word, but sometimes it is the only one that works. I have a definite love/hate relationship with my husband. Sometimes people won't reply to comments like ours because they don't want to touch our anger. I can understand that. Just wanted to let you know that I do understand what you are feeling.  Your post was some time ago, about 8 months, so I hope you do see this. I understand, Sally! I know it doesn't make it easier, but sometimes it helps you to realize that you are not crazy, just hurting. 

Glad to know I'm not the only one

My husband has ADD. He was diagnosed a few months after our wedding. That was 6 yrs ago. Our honey moon was almost sexless. At the beginning of our marriage we struggle with   a lot of things going on until he was diagnosed and we understood better what was happening. He gave up his treatment because got frustrated, he did not see any improvement . We started to learn more about the condition. He finally started to feel better and focus with the fish oil supplement. I work with him like his couch. Working together like a team we battle his ADD. Also, since we have our dog, he feels better, our dog is like his therapy. He changed his job, now he's a trade worker , he works with different companies, for short term of periods, he keep moving and traveling. That avoid him to feel frustrated and of getting bored of the same job. Due to his kind of job I quit mine to keep us living and moving together. Well,  our ADD marriage is not perfect, we still sexless for 6 yrs!! So we don't have kids, I'm in my upper 30's on my way for the 40's that is, or was frustrating because a have learned to deal with it.   We tried to get help from the psychiatrist, medications, urologist, sexology and nothing works.  It's hard for me and he feels bad about this, but I'm lucky that I have a functional ADD marriage , that we love each other and work our relationship together. I wish we can have a normal sex life  but beside that,  I can deal with his ADD. We complement each other.

Parent/child, I guess

Ok...so I am a 41 year old, physically fit, attractive woman. My husband of 16 years has ADHD and knows so much about the topic that he should be writing books. However, he doesn't find the time or the inclination to put into practice what he has read. I have been saying for years that we need to see an ADHD marriage counselor, yet here we are having another flare. Now, I'm not suggesting that his ADHD is the only contributin factor. My sex drive is more of a walk than a drive, but still it requires some fuel. We have a host of issues. A biggie is the financial one. We over-bought on a house. I wanted the less expensive one. He is not worried about the financial issues...head in the sand; I am freaking out daily. He is a recovering alcoholic who does not love social situations nearly as much anymore; I thIve on social interaction and do not get nearly enough at home.  If he is not working, he is on his laptop or iPad researching any and everything. I feel like I need to schedule an appointment with him just to see who is going to take out the trash. Although he works from home, I handle the majority of the household chores, the grocery shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the transporting of kids from schools to activities, etc...   I said all of that to say this...I'm worn out. When he does come to bed before I go to sleep, which is not very often, he wants sex.  Or when he wakes me up at 6:30 am on the weekend and wants sex, I'm not interested. I do not have an off/on button like his ipad. This is obviously a contentious issue. He says we need a sex therapist. I say, we just need to figure out how to work through some of these issues and then maybe we can have a relationship. Help!

Blame Shifting

My husband and I have been married for 12 years and we have so many of these problems. We definitely have the parent/child thing going on. I am actually repulsed by the idea of sex with him. It has never been enjoyable. We didn't have sex before we got married - he wouldn't even let me see him naked prior to. Afterward, I kind of felt like he "hid" behind his beliefs in this area to hide his inadequacies. His attitude is "now we're married and you're stuck!" He doesn't say that, but that's how he acts. He says over and over that divorce isn't an option. Well of course he feels that way - I do everything!

My husband seems to not be able to stand a clean house, yet if I clean up one room, he gravitates there until he's made a mess of it. He'll clean the dishes every few days, but he won't clean any counters or the stove or the pots and he always leaves the gross water in the sink.

We also have a huge lack of intimacy. He refuses to "date" me. Our children are his only priority, however they only get to do what he likes. He hates to be around people so he takes them on hikes, camping or walks in desolate places. Well, I don't like that kind of thing so I never go. And he won't go anyplace with me, either. Yet, when he wants sex, he expects me to be ready. It's like having sex with a stranger. I think we average one or twice a year.

He's a porn addict as well. I caught him masturbating to a porno a few weeks after we got married and that about ended my attraction to him. I've never gotten over it. I tried to ignore it, we had children, but then every time I find out he's doing it again, it brings those same feelings back and I hate him just a little bit more each time.

However, probably my biggest issue is the blame shifting. He blames me for everything, even if it doesn't make sense. If he loses his keys, phone, belt, shoes, etc,  it's my fault for cleaning up the room. If he yells at the kids, it's my fault because I yelled at them once. If he lets the kids overeat junk food, it's my fault because I bought so many yummy things.

The information on this forum, about people with ADHD having a decreased sex drive - it makes me wonder if he also plays a part in why we rarely have sex - though he'd like me to believe it's all my fault. He only complains about our sex life about once every six months.

He refuses to get diagnosed and he's very resistant to the treatment our daughter is getting for her ADHD because he said he's been able to cope with it for his entire life. He has been able to hold down the same job for 20 years, but only because they like him and he has more of a labor type position. Anyway, I don't know how much longer I can hang in there. I came from a broken home and I don't want to do that to my kids, but another 12 years like this...I'd rather kill myself.

 

Now We're Married and You're Stuck

His attitude is "now we're married and you're stuck!" He doesn't say that, but that's how he acts. He says over and over that divorce isn't an option. Well of course he feels that way - I do everything! 

OMG!!!! Yes. This why we are so stuck!!!! It is like he got me pregnant 35 years ago and forever after I HAVE to deal with it.  His contribution is done. A "take me as I am" attitude. It is like those young girls who "snag" a good catch and then coast because they know the guy they caught is a good, responsible guy.  He has said to me a few times when I ask him to step up, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".  I now answer that stupid phrase with, "I don't need a silk purse, but I wouldn't carry a sow's ear around with me either."

My husband seems to not be able to stand a clean house, yet if I clean up one room, he gravitates there until he's made a mess of it. He'll clean the dishes every few days, but he won't clean any counters or the stove or the pots and he always leaves the gross water in the sink. However, probably my biggest issue is the blame shifting. He blames me for everything, even if it doesn't make sense. If he loses his keys, phone, belt, shoes, etc,  it's my fault for cleaning up the room. If he yells at the kids, it's my fault because I yelled at them once. If he lets the kids overeat junk food, it's my fault because I bought so many yummy things.

Exactly!!!!! It is like he feels he only needs to do what pleases him.  There is also a sense I get of punishment in the way he DOESN'T contribute to the running of the household and health of the family structure. He withholds himself and keeps information from me so that I feel alone and struggle with the responsibilities. Cleanliness is a BIG problem.  Hygiene.....He thinks he is sexy.  I think he is stinky and slovenly.

I really feel for

I really feel for you!!!

Since my wife got diagnosed recently I do understand more about the issues we have, however, as our therapist have said on numerous occasions. Having adhd is one thing, doing something about it is something else. As you describe your husband, he really does not care as long as you do everything for him. I applaud you for your patience, however, what would happen if you said enough is enough.........??? Sometimes, it could be a wake-up call to get an ultimatum.

I read that men married to adhd women are more likely to divorce their wives faster than women are to divorce their adhd men. I am currently at that point. I love my wife however, the changes in her behavior (sexually and otherwise) does not make me feel loved, cared for, or respected at all. I take care of the finances, most of the cooking and cleaning, make lunch boxes for our children, remind them about homeworks etc and I can barely get a "thank you". We do have sex more than average however, it is with very little passion and feels more like a chore than what we had in the beginning of our relationship. Men also wants to feel a connection with their spouse and yes sex is one way however, far from the only thing. I want the passion back in our relationship but I do not know how :(   

Both ADHD, he can't get enough and she doesn't want it

Okay, I am new to this site but I've spent hours tonight browsing through various forums trying to find answers that fit me. They all seem to fit PART of my situation, but nothing addresses my whole issue (or set of issues). My husband and I have been married for 8 years. They have been hard years, but good. We have four kids (two of whom have also been diagnosed with ADHD, one who has begun evaluation for it, and a 14 month old who is too young to evaluate or diagnose but who displays more ADHD warning signs than any of my other at this age). We are both ADHD. I was diagnosed in college and he finally got an official diagnosis two years ago after I spent years trying to convince him that his teachers had been right and his parents had been wrong and that he really DOES have ADHD. But, that is not my point.

My point is that through all the ups and downs of our marriage, the one issue that has been the biggest (and often the only real problem) for us is sex. He can't ever seem to get enough. He always claims that if I said yes to his advances more often that he'd be less pushy and less frustrated and generally grumpy. I have repeatedly tried to make him see that when I do say yes to sex more often, it just seems to rev him up even more.

I also need to mention that he has had a porn/masturbation addiction since very early puberty, if not before. Our relationship has really hit the rocks more than a few times over this. Four years ago this issue really came to a head and we went through several months of working with and counseling with a church leader to help him get past his addiction. (I tried, but was never able to convince him to see a therapist about it.) Over time, he got control of his addiction and it not gotten the better of him since. Although, he is not over it completely and still struggles to fight off the temptation, particularly lately. In fact, after reading everything I could find the past several days on ADHD and sex in general and sex addiction specifically, we finally had a good talk earlier today about him seeing a therapist to finally get ALL the help he needs to overcome this addiction so we can move past it and the damage it has done to both of us and our relationship.

But, that's not the end of our horribly complicated issue. It seems that, when it comes to adults with ADHD and sex drive, there is very little middle ground. You are either insatiable or have very little drive. While my husband falls into the first category, I am finally seeing (after years of me thinking my low desire for sex had to do with both my husband's porn addiction and his insatiable desire for sex and the inappropriate and overbearing ways he goes about trying to coerce me into it) that I fall into the group of ADDers who have very little sex drive. I have spent years blaming my husband, my kids and the stress they bring to our dynamic, my exhaustion, my inability to focus and just be in the moment (which I attributed in small part to my ADD, but didn't really understand it) and everything else under the sun. We have had more intense, emotional discussions than I care to count about why we are both so dissatisfied when it comes to this aspect of our relationship. He has told me repeatedly that he thinks there is something wrong with me, be it medical or mental or physiological or whatever, that makes me unable to climax and, in turn, not care for sex. I am finally seeing that there is something to all that. In fact, we are both right.

So, in a nutshell, we are a good match in so many ways. We generally have a good relationship, albeit fraught with plenty of difficulty and need for humor and understanding and forgiveness due in large part to both of us having ADHD and not having a non-ADHD spouse to help provide balance and stability. But, our whole relationship and all our efforts seem to crumble over and over when it comes to sex. He wants it ALWAYS and I just don't get anything out of it. Sex just feels like another chore to me. It's something I do from time to time to help keep my husband happy and more connected, which helps our relationship. But, I just don't get anything more out of it than that. I almost never climax, despite his efforts and attention to my needs. And even when I do, it just seems like it's not worth all the effort it takes us both to get me there.

I read these blogs and forums here, and other articles and posts on other sites, and various books about ADHD and it sends me on an emotional rollercoaster. I feel all sorts of excitement and relief at learning that others out there struggle with similar issues and that it's not abnormal. But, then I get really frustrated and discouraged because it feels like this one issue, and the complete disconnect between the two of us and our needs and desires, is hopeless and will forever be a dividing factor until it eventually destroys the life we work so hard to build. We are very much in love and are both determined to make this marriage work to the very end, come hell or high water. We are finally starting to talk about this issue in regards to our ADHD, which is a huge step for us and seems to be helping a lot. And, like I said, he has finally agreed to see a therapist about his addiction (and hopefully we'll be able to find one who also has a good understanding of ADHD and how it plays such a huge role in the matter). He wants me to see a therapist, as well, about my utter lack of sexual desire. I don't know what can be done, though, to help us reach some kind of compromise about sex that is satisfying to us both. There seems to be a lot that is being said about sex and ADHD, and how to work things out when one partner had ADHD and has either too much or too little sex drive. But, what about a situation like mine where BOTH partners have ADHD and are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to drive? Are there any answers, even hard answers that take a lot of work, for a case like ours?

Hmmm, you have a unique

Hmmm, you have a unique situation.  I can't offer much as I am the Non-ADHD wife of an ADHD H, but i have a question.  Do you take meds for ADHD or Depression.  I ask because when My H & I were dating and maybe a year into our relationship we probably had sex everyday, in the very early stages of dating usually more than once a day. But we both wanted it every time we were together. Now we have not had sex in a year, not that the drive isn't there but there is too much resentment in the way, I can't even stand the thought of having sex with him now, how can you have sex with someone when you feel like their mother.    However one thing I noticed somewhere in-between the daily sex and the no sex years, is when we were having a particularly bad year I stated taking an anti-depressant to cope, while the anti-depressant made me feel mentally so much better when we had sex i could not climax ever and before the anti-d I never had a problem and it also made me not have any interest in sex.  Once I stopped taking it the drive came back and so did the ability to O.  My H started an anti-d a few years ago and I would say it reduced his need quiet significantly and it also effects his performance, which was a problem when we were still in a place that we occasionally wanted it but it just couldn't happen.

So just wondering if meds could or are a factor in your dilema.

You bring up some good

You bring up some good questions. In answer to your medication questions, yes, I am taking meds for my ADHD. Actually, I haven't taken anything in over 10 years and just started on adderall 3 or 4 weeks ago. (I still don't think it's the right med choice for me because I have played with different dosages and although I do notice a difference, it doesn't work like I feel it should or like the stories I keep reading of how it feels when someone finds the right med.) My husband has been on adderall for nearly two years now, and although it does definitely help him, we're not convinced it's the most effective choice for him, either. I am sure if both of us were on the right medications and doses it would help our overall situation, our sex life included. Unfortunately, we can't seem to find a doctor who knows much at all about ADHD, much less know how to effectively play the game of med-roulette and we don't have the financial means to bounce around from doctor to doctor and from therapist to therapist trying to find a better fit. But, I digress. 

Yes, I am on meds currently. But, as I said, that is a new change. It hasn't seemed to help (or hinder) my sex drive at all. A few years ago I was briefly (for 5 or 6 months) on zoloft for a pregnancy-related depression with my third pregnancy. We both knew that lowered libido was a likely side effect when I started taking it. That was a big deal to my husband, or course. But, not so much for me. I noticed at the time that I had little to no sexual desire. But, not only was I near the end of a difficult pregnancy, or very recently pospartum (I took it for the last 2-3 months of the pregnancy and first 3 months or so postpartum), but it also was during the time when we were at the worst point in our marriage due to his porn addiction and I was so hurt and upset that, although I still loved him very much, I certainly didn't like him much of the time.

So, to make a short answer way too complicated, yes, there is medication involved on both our parts but, no, it doesn't really play a role in either of our sex drives.

Incompatibility

I'm non ADHD (but probably ASD) and my husband was diagnosed 'hyperactive' when a child.  He has a massive libido, possibly because he finds the brain chemistry associated with orgasm the best 'medication' for his ADHD.  I do not have a huge libido, rather I am attracted to the person instead of the body.  Unfortunately, ( and i know soooo many out there can relate)  it just feels WRONG when there is a parent/child dynamic.  He does not understand that I can only be either his mother OR his partner.  It is not possible for my psyche to split and be both.  I don't have the 'usual' physical desires or 'need' sex - ever.  I only want to share my body with someone who has utmost respect and love for me and shows it.  I am not turned on by sexy talk, or lingerie, and a lot of the time I am just exhausted by life in general so not interested by the time we go to bed. My husband of 16 years is not satisfied with once a week, despite the fact that I am the primary caregiver to him and our two children.  He doesn't grasp for a second that how he acts is what turns me off.  He even insinuates that something is wrong with me - 'normal' women CRAVE sex according to him.  I told him to go and live with one of them then...

His entire wellbeing seems to hinge on whether or not he is getting regular sex - another paradigm of 'normal' society.  Apparently 'normal' people want sex all the time, so I'm not normal and therefore it's me that has the problem. 'Normal' people use sex as a stress relief.  'Normal' people use sex to cope with the insanity of the world.  OMG!!! When did I become soooo abnormal???  And do I even want to be considered 'normal' if this is what it's about???   

All I want out of this relationship now is a little understanding and empathy for the !*&? I have had to negotiate and deal with for the last 15 odd years, particularly when it comes to parenting. He has double standards about how folk should behave.  It's always ok for him to behave however he wants (bad example or not) but the children MUST always be polite and courteous and respect their elders and be seen and not heard - he believes it is their fault that I do not have the inclination to 'do it' with him more.   

I would LOVE for there to be a better way to be, but his entire self-esteem hinges on how much sex he gets - and he thinks that's normal.  Sad....

PS There's no medication involved apart from pot. His ADHD is an excuse for him, not a reality that he has a responsibility to deal with. As far as he is concerned the rest of the world needs to make allowances for his 'condition'. 

Unlove

DH believes sex is a release normal people need.  I asked him what sex was to him and that is what he said.  To me, sex is the ultimate extension of trust and the desire to be close and give something to the one you love and to enjoy each other in moments of surrendered trust and appreciation.  Yes, when someone is lying and not coming through with their promises and commitments, you don't find that irresponsible/delinquent/horny/superficial/glib person to be someone you WANT to combine your own body and self with. The excitement of that type of person was attractive to me while I was an irresponsible, unmarried youth. I didn't know then that some boys do not grow up. Foolish assumption on my part. Adult committed intimacy is lacking if one person just wants to release himself.  It feels like you are yet again being used as an object. And DH tells me I am the problem....he says I am unloving.  He knows that my main goal in life is to be loving and in caring partnership and he uses that knowledge to make me do what he wants.  This again is not ADD/ADHD but rather a form of UN-love.  The opposite of love is not hate.  Hate may have some passion and desire to change things for the better.  All of us on this site who admit to resentment and anger are here trying to find love and are frustrated. The opposite of love is to not care, not see.  You ignore something you don't love.  If people just need sexual release, they can just release themselves.  Why does one need a partner just for release?  That is the difference between having sex and making love.  Narcissists can not make love because they cannot FEEL love. They don't get it. However, they would like an object to dominate for their entertainment while they release themselves of their anxieties.  DH has a high libido...it is his "thing".  He is very proud of his prowess and tells explicit jokes and walks around like a peacock.  Yet I am sexually/love frustrated. He does not have what I need (trusted companionship and shared belief in each other) and he makes no attempt to fill the voids.  He just wants "release" for himself.  Today I am filled with passion. I would make a fantastic partner to someone who wanted the whole shebang (pardon the pun) of committed, loving trust and wedded bliss. It feels like resentment and anger today but what it really is, is wanting to share my love and feeling.  But I am frustrated because my love can only be given out and it is not received or felt by or given back by the one person who I expected to be IN a LOVING RELATIONSHIP with.

My therapist told me more

My therapist told me more than once that for women, "emotional connection is foreplay."  This is certainly true in my case.  Having intercourse without having a positive emotional connection makes me feel like a prostitute.

Massive libido

My X also had a huge libido. Wanted it every day. Wanted to "make out" in the back of the movie theater! Had to be touching all the time. Even gawked at me going up the stairs. Gawked at other women (We were in our 50s...) When my X and I went to marriage counseling, counselor told me the "average" was 1-2 times a week for 5 to 8 minutes. That's all.

I also had to be the parent in the relationship, and I know what you mean. When you have to tell the great big little boy everything that needs to be done, it puts a real damper on the sex drive. And then add to that -- CONTROLLING. What I initially thought was good sex, turned out to be very controlling, one-sided sexual behavior from a man who had LOTS of previous experience and knew what HE wanted and told me what I was supposed to want. Then add a huge dose of lying, so I couldn't believe what he said. Then there was some porn. And he complained because I didn't want sex constantly with him?????

Is your H happy after sex for a day or so or is he crankier? Funny thing -- it seems sex makes most men happier for awhile, but mine got crabbier. After sex, he wanted holding all night, showers together in the morning, constant kissing and hugging the next morning. I couldn't get away or he would sulk and get mean. The counselor told me he was a sex addict. I guess in that case, they are always looking for that next fix, so to speak.

The Things We Do

jennalemon, Rosered and lynnie70 - I am always astounded on reading through this site how very scarily similar all our life situations are.  It never ceases to amaze me how similar our men are due to the difference in their brains, and how it affects us.  Even though life can be hell, and certainly not what we were envisaging when we partnered with these guys, it is truly uplifting to know I am not alone, or crazy, or any of the other things I get told by him that I am.

My H is usually happier and quite balanced the next day, but seems to be in a subconscious state of mind of "cool, I'm now getting what I need".  This usually leads to him expecting ALL interactions to go his way, and when they inevitably don't he reacts very badly.  So the rollercoaster of life gets a bit crazier when he's had his sex fix.  I also feel a bit like a prostitute - which I have mentioned and which offends him greatly.  He says he is devastated that I don't 'want' him or 'need' him, and fails to understand (despite MANY explanations) that I'm just not wired that way. 1) I'm female and not insecure or needy so the emotional connection is the only thing that seals the deal for me, like when we've had an amazingly great few days and no fights and no misunderstandings and I haven't had to be his parent and 2)I have matured sexually and he obviously hasn't.  He tells me that he's a normal male with normal 'appetites' and that as we're married the sex should just be part of it.  I tell him that it doesn't matter what he thinks, he cannot bully my free will when I'm just not feelin' it.  He wants me to want him and hanker after him, but still doesn't see that his behaviours and reactions do not help me feel that we have that emotional connection.  It's just so hard to find someone so needy and insecure attractive, when it was his confidence (faked) that attracted me to him in the first place.

So what do we do about all this? I figure that those of you who are also still with your guy (like me) are still hoping (like me) that there will eventually be a light of some description at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel.  I love him very much, and know that stuck inside his ADHD-ness is a fabulously caring, talented and giving man who is literally trapped inside his own brain and emotional state.  However knowing the facts doesn't stop the hurt does it? Understanding doesn't help me fall back in love with him, even though I desperately would love to feel that again. I know he's not exactly a sex addict, but he does believe there's nothing wrong with 'stress relief'. If he's had a challenging day, he wants to 'bang' it away to feel better. I find this offensive and the cycle starts again. Him feeling unloved (and proclaiming it or going into sulk mode) and me feeling used and unappreciated.  Sigh....  What do we girls do apart from support each other?  Big love and hugs to you all just for being there and speaking your truths.

As a guy with symptoms that

As a guy with symptoms that were similar to ADHD but couldnt get a definitive diagnosis from multiple professionals it has been frustrating to both me an my wife. Humiliating that my sex drive waned and her anger at my apparent but unexplainable unattention. I obviously "wasn't trying hard enough". I was also on meds for another condition (siezures). A few years back and after tons of research by me I requested an endocrine assessment. My doc resisted but i persisted and found that my testosterone levels were borderline low. For all the docs this was close enough to normal but I pushed for treatment. Almost overnight a fog lifted from me, my inattention became slightly less, energy and motivation improved as has sex drive. Gradually I a trying to rebuild a relationship with my wife and regain a healthy sex life but as she is now menopausal it has been a very slow recovery . The more I research it the more I find out that the med I was on gradually stripped testosterone which created a fog, symptoms much like ADHD and killed my sex life. I write this because meds especially when they work on the brain can kill libido and over time throw off sex hormones. I have no choice in stopping the med but through hormone replacement have regained my life.

Sex in marriage

I've been married 17 years.  Been on this site a couple days, and I'm reading the book.  Most interesting is the research showing 80% of ADHD people have at least one other disorder... That probably is a good starting point.  Both my wife and i have been pouring over the internet for 2-3 years searching for answers...  My wife is probably ADHD, plus some other things.  I'm non-ADHD, but surely have developed other mental disorders over the years, including depression, and more recently some panic attacks. I don't have a lot of insights on these disorders, but might have something of interest to say on sexual behavior.  I keep reading about women who get no enjoyment from sex, and because of that withhold it from their husbands.  I am wondering, as one mother- in-law said, why would you withhold something that takes so little time and brings him so much pleasure?  Is it possible to embrace the theological view that giving to your spouse that what is most important to him...  that is what love really is?  As a man, sex with my wife helps me connect in ways I can't explain.  It softens me and, more than nothing else, restores my ability to act loving in ways meaningfull to her.  Conversely, sexual rejection makes me feel disrespected more than anything else I can think of, and makes me withdraw (which makes my wife feel greatly unloved...)

i do things each day for my wife that I get no pleasure out of, other than the pleasure of selfless giving.  My question is, can women do this for their husbands in their need for sex?   

question, what do you 'Do'

question, what do you 'Do' for your wife that you get no pleasure from ? Are they actually things FOR HER, Curious as my H may say on the rare occasion that he does some household chores..I did the dishes for you, or I did the laundry for you...hello why is that for ME ? aren't they your clothes and dishes also ? I never say I did the dishes for him...   I do agree with your point..only to a point that is..about doing something for him that gives him pleasure..   I think that all depends on just how far down the dysfunctional path a couple may be, and how much resentment is in the way.  In the beginning years we both enjoyed sex immensly...then years later I did it just to make him happy, now 18 years later we don't talk, he hasn't held my hand, kissed me, we can barley be in the same room...there is no way i could just have sex with him to make him happy, there is too much in the way, i can't even describe how that would make me feel at this point.  Maybe those that are 'withholding' sex aren't really withholding in the sense of doing it intentionally but because it goes past just doing something that is unpleasant, and to feel violated.  At least thats my case, there is no warmth or emotion left, i feel we have probably gone past the point of no return and its just an inevitable amount of time before we separate.

withhold is the wrong word

To suggest a  spouse is witholding implies it is being done as a conscious punishment.  I think  although this may happen on rare occasions (I can really only guess),   it would  have to be pretty rare.   I would venture,  (and  I say this as a ADHD male, so I stand ready to be corrected) that it is more a case of one partners interest being overcome by stress.   Again,  my reading of this situations that a womens sexuality in general is a whole lot more complicated that ours is. It is much easier for men to just get in the mood, in fact for many of us sex is a stress relief in it's own right.   We are very visual and stimulus driven so it does not (again a gross generalization) take a whole lot to get us going.  On the other hand,  our partners being exhausted, stressed, angry or resentful are required to somehow put all this aside to  feel the warmth and intimacy required make sex appealing .  The reality is that this is impossible, and consequently it is the last thing on the agenda.  

There is a fundamental difference between men and women in that men are not expected to allow someone inside their body(sorry for being so graphic),  and being expected to do so out of "duty" I can see would feel like a violation.  Nobody should live in a situation where they feel physically violated. All that is required is that partner simply does not want to,  says no and that should be all there is to it.   Sex is not a household chore that needs to get done like the washing up, at least in my mind.    

I  agree  that for men, when this element is missing in a relationship it is the cause of immense stress in itself, and this can spiral into a viscous cycle. However the magic of intimacy is in the connection and not in getting off, so a situation where one side is putting out just as a pressure valve is only going to seed intense resentment and make matters worse.   To me I find the whole act when you know the other partner is going though motions as incredibly degrading to everyone, one side is being violated,  one side is all but guilty of abuse and any feeling person will be ashamed of this, it is after all sex with diminished consent ( i.e. under duress).   I would rather go without myself, and try to understand what I can do to fix the situation at the ground level, or accept that it is fundamentally busted and move on. 

That said I know very very well that to live in this situation is incredibly heartbreaking and soul destroying. 

 

 

 

 

Very well said Jon.

Very well said Jon.

Wow -- what a wonderfully

Wow -- what a wonderfully insightful post, Jon! I take back some of the negative things I have thought about you! (LOL -- not really!)

I'm not sure I have ever heard this much insight from a guy. I think just this acknowledgement from a spouse would go a long way toward healing a broken sexual relationship. What a great post.

Jon, i really appreciate your

Jon,

i really appreciate your comments and understanding.  Nearly every page of the book is a revaluation of who my wife really is, and who I am, or have become, not knowing about adhd.  I spent years pretending I didnt care much one way or the other about sex, rather than face the rejection. To stop pretending has been like coming out of the closet, but the rejection overwhelming.  I guess I'm looking for a level playing field, where my emotional needs as a man are as valid as hers as a woman...  Where one sex uses a word like violation, or one sex is so much more complicated.... I feel so marginalized.     But your  comment about her being overwhelmed by stress being more a motive than a punishment is accurate.  I need more time to process this, but I want you to know how much I appreciate you.  

I'm so glad I found this post

lion-hearted girl's picture

This is a very profound post reply, Jon. Thank you for sharing! When you made this comment: "However the magic of intimacy is in the connection and not in getting off, so a situation where one side is putting out just as a pressure valve is only going to seed intense resentment and make matters worse." I really feel like this is the view of sex in my spouse and one of the main issues with sexual intimacy in my marriage of 13+ years. A marriage that may be over because my husband thinks we are sexually incompatible and "sexually broken".

I have a high sex drive (I'm non ADHD) and so does he (he has ADHD), but he never initiates anymore. In our ADHD couples therapy session yesterday morning our therapist came right out and asked why he "hedges" and withdraws in confronting the issue about trying to progress in sexual intimacy with me. We are also seeing a sex therapist, but there hasn't been as much progress yet as I was hoping. My husband said he was just not interested in me anymore. The reason why he feels we are sexually incompatible is mainly because I have difficulty achieving orgasm through penetration alone, and he feels that I should be able to reach that quicker and with more gusto than I do currently, even with his feeling distant (and like I'm an obligation) while having sex with me. Never mind that he has been withdrawing from me leading up to any sexual encounters, and that I am the one who has to initiate the sexual encounter (and therefore I "should be ready if I'm asking for it").

Add to that, the story that plays in his head as ideal sex (the way it should be) is of when he was very young (barely 18) and had a long sexual affair with a woman twice his age. We were both raised in a strict religion that forbid sex before marriage. We grew up as friends, being more than friends when he was 17 and I was 19. We fooled around in every possible way but actual penetration. We split up, we were severely punished for our actions (he more than I), he had this affair with the MILF (no offense anyone) and kept it a long-held secret, never telling me about the older woman when we unexpectedly fell in love again 3 years later (had a wild and loving engagement and married 9 months later---we were both still in the religion at that time) and made me believe we were each others' "firsts" on our wedding night. This untold memory of ideal sex, stayed locked within him until about 2 years ago when he finally disclosed it. After that, he changed (became highly emotional), but he refused to admit ADHD had played a role in our lives together, and he didn't want help. Six months after that (last spring) he left.

He asked for professional help, I found someone that we both liked (ADHD LSW) and we started on a course of change. We lived apart for about a year and a half (since last spring)... him moving back home just in September, in a mutual agreement. As far as sex, since this was incredibly important to him and I wanted to feel "normal", I learned on my own a way to orgasm through penetration alone (if I felt close enough, comfortable, loved and wanted) and for the first few times we were together more recently it had actually worked. But that was because our intimate behaviors had also changed, and we were relating differently. But he has slowly been withdrawing away from me again (I think the meds have played a larger role in this cycle than he knows)... he's continued to withdraw sexually from me as well. I've been back to initiating and sweetly trying to get him interested in wanting me... and I could tell he would put me off. I think masturbation is easier for him. And I have been fighting the sadness of feeling not wanted. It really felt like the man who walked out of the therapy session yesterday morning saying "I'm done" was the pre-medicated man I'd lived with all those years before we made all the forward progress.

He feels we're sexually broken. I know our intimacy is hugely suffering, which I'm not OK with, but I see the anger (vial hatred for the religion we both left, of which are families are still a part of), the withdrawal and easy escape by the distractions of online addictions (social media, porn, so accessible and if you can't turn it off it is always there), the medication inconsistencies... it all keeps threatening the forward progress we had been making together. There are SO many layers. SO many.

Not sure where to go from here. I just know I can't do it alone. And I know my husband is hurting too, although he's not seeing what I'm seeing. At this point he's feeling our relationship has run its course, and if he is unwilling to work at his own issues, then it is over. I don't want it to be, but it takes two people wanting a relationship to work, in order for it to happen.

Anyone out there ever go through anything like this?

"I must become a lion-hearted girl. Ready for a fight." -Florence + The Machine

Sex in marriage

As a female, maybe I can shed some light. However I am the non-ADHD spouse so it may be a different take on it. To suffice...Sex? What's that? I have to sleep in the guest room because of my husbands violent ADHD thrashing, twitching, moaning and groaning during sleep. Physical intimacy is very difficult for me. As a woman it is directly connected to security and emotional intimacy. This is VERY difficult to have with an ADHD man. If I am able to muster up the amorous feelings it is followed by feeling used and rejected because then I have to sneak off to "my" guest room in order to get any sleep at all. This does not bother him in the least. He calls it my choice and now calls the master bedroom "his" room to my face. I am grateful that he is going in for a sleep test next week. I hope and pray fervently that his ADHD denial stay dormant that day so that he actually carries through with it. There is always hope.

Cat and Mouse games....

Melissa,

I really appreciated the article. Would you address the "games" people play? (I realize that both ADHD and non-ADHD'ers can both be guilty)

My ADHD husband is only interested in me when I'm not interested in him. He becomes very attentive and loving when I've withdrawn or distanced myself from him in order to draw me back in. Usually, we've "made up", had sex, then Bam!, he's back to ignoring me, pushing me aside, avoiding me, complete indifference.  I get along with my life and distance myself and the whole vicious cycle would start up again, attentive, loving, pursuing me to no end. It's like I'm just a challenge and once he's won again, he dumps me. Well, eventually, I got the message, or just got tired.  It's been 34 years. I've learned to be just as indifferent, maybe more so. I "love" him only because he is the father of our 5 children, but I also hate him. Yes, I truly mean that. We are basically roommates, and actually not even roommates anymore, as I've asked him to move into the spare bedroom. I cannot stomach the games anymore. What possesses a man to act this way? He tells me that he "looses his focus to stay on the right path."  What does that mean?  He keeps his focus at work ( he is EXTREMELY successful), he keeps his focus while he's driving and stays on the road, he keeps his focus while doing his many projects, he keeps his focus when he is conversing with others, he keeps his focus when he's at the bank and doesn't rob it, he keeps his focus when he is doing something he likes. Apparently, I'm the reason he looses his focus. Why doesn't he leave? We've discussed divorce and he is adamant that it not an option. Why? Is he just narcistic as well?  Please, Melissa, answer my post and help me understand this.

Cat and mouse!!!!!!

Did Melissa not answer this???  This is so dead on.... Being married to an add/adhd spouse.  It's Crazy!!!

i relate!!!!!!!!!  What in the world goes on in their head

 

Fed up and stuck

I'm really glad I came back to this forum and read every ones comments. I don't feel like I am going to go crazy anymore. I have been married for 12yrs. to an  ADHD husband. He was diagnosed 3yrs ago after I took my 6yr. old to get help. I have 4 daughters 15, 10, 8 and 5. The 3 younger ones are his biologically. When we met I was working and independent taking care of myself and my oldest daughter on my own. I fell head over heels for my husband who I thought was the "best thing since sliced bread".  So much has happened and I've learned so, so much.  He wasn't what I thought he was. He is a compulsive liar, gets mad at anything and everything, he is manipulative, narcissistic man who is very immature. I totally understand everything every one is saying in this forum. I quit my job ( about 1 year into our relationship) AND that was the WORST thing that I did. Jobs are hard to find, and I'm still looking because I am trying to get out of my situation. My daughters have been affected by his , verbal and mental abuse, and want to leave too. Thank GOD we, myself and my 4 girls, go to a therapist. We have been going since 2010. My husband will NOT go, I have asked if he would like to go he is welcome to but he never has. He only went to the psychiatrist I took my daughter to because he was really getting out of control. (self medicating--marijuana use and alot of alcohol) He doesn't smoke anymore but does still drink everyday, but he also has been taking medications that he was prescribed to him for his ADHD/ADD. He has tried Adderall which eventually (1 year and increasing the dose) made him very angry,agressive. He tried Concerta which did not help, and right now Vyvanse is what he takes and has seemed like it works the best for him (as long as he takes it). It really SUCKS when he doesn't take his meds. he's a totally different person when he "doesn't feel like he needs to take it". Life is a lot  easier living with him since he started taking meds. BUT it could be better. I am not staying with him FOREVER, I'm trying to get independent again so that I can leave. So much more to say. Just take a deep breath and have faith that things will get better, with or without your spouse.

T.Taylor

Fed up and stuck

I completely understand your situation. I knew my husband for two years before we married. Okay...I believed I did and had no reason to think otherwise. Now I feel duped. He talked me into quitting my job to concentrate on art full time. Hah, that's a joke. All I do is put out his fires. He too is a compulsive liar. Accuses me of everything he actually does or says. Lies about things apparently just to lie. Manipulates me. I live with a five year old stuck in a 52 year old man. No kidding. The constant inconsistency, erratic behavior, forgetfulness and temper tantrums make me feel as if I run a day care full of pre-K's. But in his words I "do nothing all day". He's said this before while navigating a freshly cleaned and rearranged home while he's checking out new paintings I did the same day LOL! He has no idea, nor does he have any desire to understand the stress, physical work, mental and emotional exhaustion involved with trying to keep up with his behavior. Sometimes I think I spend MOST of my time discovering his "fires" and putting them out. He's been taking adderall for a couple weeks now. I am praying very hard that it will be of some help. Hang in there T. You are not alone.

 

Thank you, Melissa, for your

lion-hearted girl's picture

Thank you, Melissa, for your insights here. I thought I was losing my mind in thinking that my husband and I are the only couple to be feeling "broken" with this issue.

Although I've posted before (in an attempt to help someone else) this is the first post where I will talk about my life, my story. Both in our mid-30's, I am non ADHD, and my ADHD husband of over 13 years... he just left me yesterday morning. This is the third time, and I fear, the last. Of course, I can't take much more heart ache. The first time he left was last spring, about 6 months after revealing a long-kept secret from me. To understand the impact of the secret, you need to understand our backgrounds. WARNING: This is a condensed version, although still very long.

We were both raised in a strict religion that forbid sex before marriage. We grew up as friends, being more than friends when he was 17 and I was 19. We fooled around in every possible way but actual penetration. The religious leaders found out because we were shamed into telling what we did and we were both punished (he more severely than I was, he was disfellowshipped). We tried to make it work for a little while although that was against policy... he bought an engagement ring for me... he was terribly lonely... his entire world was turned against him, and being disfellowshipped meant all his family and friends were supposed to ignore him as if he didn't exist. With a broken heart, I broke it off with him because we were too young, we had to deal with our shit separately, never intending to get back together.

Three years later, and still in the religion, we fell madly in love with each other... there has always been a magnetic pull for each other. We shared our sexual experiences had during our singleness. Hard to believe, but I was technically still a "virgin" and he promised he was too. We got engaged, we were crazy in love and fooled around every chance we could (again, no "evil" penetration) yet religious leaders found out our actions because we were guilted into telling them something (family actually narked on us) and it was suggested that we split up because we sure as hell were not going to get married as we had planned. We bucked the system, moved our wedding day up, and got married with a smaller group. And our wedding was as I had always dreamed. In hindsight we should have left the religion then. Anything that shaming can not be a good thing.

Fast forward 11+ years to husband's long kept secret. After we split up when we were young and very life-inexperienced, he had a long sexual affair with a woman twice his very young age. If you can imagine, it had what one might classify as the "top most stimulating" ingredients in that relationship... Young horny guy at his sexual prime... Hot much older woman who was in her sexual prime (aka MILF)... Going against the religion in the most screw-you attitude... Sex with no attachment emotionally... Getting away with it...... So----this secret was revealed after 11 years of marriage, and I was enraged, confused, saddened, jealous, relieved. Mostly saddened that he'd kept it from me so long. Relieved he finally let it go. My husband changed from that point onwards. Floodgates poured open and I finally saw the deep feeling part of this man that I had only ever experienced when he was younger and on a much smaller scale. Up to that point he had only ever cried maybe 3 times in over a decade. But here was my husband and I loved him and could feel the pain he felt back when he was that young and shunned from everything he knew, and how this "evil" sex affair must have blown his mind. If that's the standard I'm held to, that level of stimulation and brain chemical release - that high - I can't compare. But that's something I've had try to work through (and what may indeed be the now highly trumped memory that I can't rise above, if that is the story that plays in his head) :-(

I had always known in the back of my head that he had ADD. But I was clueless of what it could really be and how it was affecting us. Over the years I always loved his energy, his passion, but it kept fading as time went on, as naturally happens with long-term relationships. The quick hot lust turns into a slowly burning fire and then later into a bed of hot coals that need poked and constant additions if it's going to stay burning. We went in cycles, I'd get lonely because of his latest hyperfocus on the latest toy, video game, online forum. We struggled with internet porn and pictures that would always show up just as I thought things were getting better. Going on and on about the issues I'd try to normalize over the years is a waste of words. That is not why I'm posting.

So, 2 years ago this secret is revealed. My husband is changing although it is a good change for the most part. I'm reading all I can about ADHD, I find Dr. Melissa Orlov's book... Puzzle pieces are finally fitting together... I realize my husband is dealing with more than I ever knew... I feel crushed that I've thought horrible things about him (immature, selfish, ignorant) and that I've contributed to some really bad cycles. Parent/child dynamics being one of the worst patterns in hindsight. I try to share what I'm learning and he hates me for doing that. He feels blamed for our problems (and I keep getting more sad because he views ADHD as a swear word). Right before leaving me the first time, he claims we are sexually incompatible. I can't fathom this. In the first few years we had lots of sex, good sex, we watched porn together, we used toys, nothing was sexually taboo (obviously we never let those in the religion know, none of their damn business)... We both initiated sex... And as time passed and I found his private porn viewing habits (which pissed me off, because that meant that he wasn't given me the sexual attention), and I'd unknowingly get more clingy and controlling in an attempt to fix the loneliness I was feeling... I began initiating more, he would blow up and then withdraw and initiate even less, and sex got very sparse. I look back and realize now the unhealthy cycles in our lives, living with untreated ADHD, on both our parts. I also gained weight more and more (a little each year), which looking back is also a negative part in our relationship.

So the shaming religion, untreated ADHD and not comprehending the impact on married life, parent-child dynamics building, weight gain, a shift in our sexuality..  Lots of fights and not understanding why. More withdrawing, more weight gain, more ridiculous religious crap to contend with. Ahhhh, but then a shift! About 3 years ago... Husband introduces a new way of working out (heavy weight lifting)... And it works!! I never was lazy, but sweating to death on a stupid treadmill did NOT a damn thing for me. And why I'd get so frustrated at not losing any weight because I really WAS working hard to get rid of it... Efforts just weren't working. But, with lifting heavy free weights, I start losing weight, getting new confidence, developing friendships outside the religion (another no-no). Some time passes and fast forward to the time period of the kept-secret revelation. I'd lost about 40 pounds of fat at that point, my confidence was sky-rocketing, I felt sexier, sex was starting to get better (I thought) because I felt good about myself and my body. I'd started friendships with non-judgmental people, and I just had started to learn about ADHD. I get over the long-kept secret, my husband is now displaying emotions in abundance that I'd never seen, I feel closer to him than ever before and I really feel our relationship is improving. But every time I bring up ADHD it is not well received. I was still in the religion at that point, but was heavily questioning many things long assumed (thanks to my husband's critical thinking which he accredits to ADHD and the ability to see through obvious BS).

So last spring he announces out of thin air as he is leaving me, in a very emotional period, that we are not sexually compatible. Because I couldn't orgasm through penetration alone. I was left bewildered. I never had issues with coming... Just always add a finger or a toe or a toy or whatever, big deal. Actually I've always been multi-orgasmic and can go for hours (Insatiable once I get going). We'd never really tried getting me off by penetration alone... I never knew that was so damn important or that I was under survey. Our sex was definitely NOT ideal, not with me initiating nearly every time, often feeling like I was begging, even in my stronger & slimmer body, often feeling judged and scrutinized (although that came more recently). So, yeah, we had issues, but sex was not the one most glaring to me, not by a long shot. But, according to him, we are sexually incompatible, and he leaves me. Comes back home a month later after we see each other a couple times (like dating)... He starts withdrawing shortly after moving back and 2 weeks later leaves me a second time, this time with a letter on the kitchen table greeting me when I got home from work.

He finally asks me a couple days later to check into us seeing someone for depression (his mom told him it runs in the family) and he asked for someone to see about ADHD. For the first time. Breakthrough! We still spent a year and a half living separately. Me in our house, he with a buddy. We would date multiple times a week when he was not traveling for work, we'd see each other on the weekend, talking and texting regularly. We saw our ADHD therapist individually and as couple, he started on medication, I starting working through my religious hang ups,  continued to learn about ADHD and intimacy issues, I built a strong core group of genuine friends while working on a strong body and mind. We had issues still, but we were each taking responsibility for our own issues and, really, our own happiness. We hit a plateau about a year ago, where we'd worked much of the anger and religious animosity out of our systems (well I did, he still had plenty), and we wanted help fixing our sexual issues. Looking back this is a misconception... It is intimacy issues, not sex issues that are the major problems, but it's easier for humans to focus on the sex part---it is easier to pin down. But the intimacy is what needs the fixing. We started seeing a female sex therapist, an older woman, very professional, excellent listener. Quirky but sincere and caring. Moving him back in was important, but of more importance was getting his $hit straight, and he was definitely working on it consistently, so I was fine with waiting as long as we were progressing. I was sad that he chose to live with a buddy rather than me, but I knew we'd work it out.

I experimented with my body and discovered a way in which I could finally achieve orgasm through penetration alone. Still making progress with our two therapists, he moved back home end of September, not quite three months ago. I was thrilled but a little leery that we could successfully navigate living together again, it took some getting used I after living apart for 1-1/2 years. As far as sex, I surprised us both by getting there that way I taught myself. For the first few times we had sex we were really emotionally close and loving and it felt like sex was changing for the better for us. Looking back we should have talked more about HOW I got there, and that it was us being very close emotionally and trusting, and me letting go of needing control (that is my major issue, I know). He was so into me, so caring and so THERE that it was like being with a new man. One I had not seen for years and years. One that I wanted more of. A more mature, emotionally close, exposed man that I so love, my own sexy, chiseled man who was growing. One that I'd love to see again.

But time moves on, as does distractions, and it seemed like the medication was not right. Switched it for something else, seemed better, but he was not taking it consistently. Traveling 50% can really be disruptive to any schedule, any new path of progress, and I totally understood not "needing" the meds while he traveled but then needing them to focus while he was in the office... But I swear the weekends and evenings (the times he was with me) were tough, especially when he wouldn't take the med on the weekend. I really think the meds are screwing with his sex drive... he's got plenty of testosterone from lifting weights, but I think unresolved issues are still fu€king up our intimacy. The amount of rage he holds within (for the religion) boils over and threatens to consume him. I noticed just yesterday morning, after he left the ADHD couples therapy session saying he "was done", that he made a comment online (just an hour before the session) about him recognizing how angry arguing with others about the religious stupidity makes him. And that he was going to block such people. And I'm really sad that I saw that AFTER the walk out yesterday morning. Because I would have tried to change he direction we took in our session with the ADHD therapist Monday morning :-( That he recognized that on his own shows positive progress that would've been moving in the right direction for us.

So here I am, bloodshot eyes from crying all day and night yesterday. Hoping to find a glimmer of something to hold on to somehow. And I came across this post and all the replies. And I see others have had this problem. Obviously not the same compounded issues that I feel have been stacked against us, but similar life stories of sadness, loneliness and bitterness against forces that are too challenging when they are disguised as other things... When you don't know what they are... And then of course if only one partner in a relationship is fighting for the team to succeed, or only fighting part-time, while you are fighting with all your might.

Not for one second do I think that the problem my husband and I face is sexually incompatibility as the core cause... But a deep issue of intimacy and being able to let go of control and being able to willingly put yourself in a position of vulnerability... To endure (until it proves to be a safe place)... To be ok with letting your guard down with your partner. That level of closeness is tough if there is toxic shame and if some one or some group has trained you to keep the walls up in order to survive. Add in ADHD and the distractions that promise to be quicker, easier, more varied, more comfortable, more stimulating, and it becomes a hell of a lot harder. Add in a incomparable sexual experience as the supposed ideal as to what sex should be, and it is a mountain to climb. Sex is more than a release, and as long as it stays just a physical release and nothing more between two people it will fade fast and the cycle to find the next release awaits around the corner. An endless futile search for the next craving. A sad addiction indeed. Sex is partly a release (and hopefully a glorious one at that) and if you're lucky the ending only of the first session, first position... but the connection and the person you connect to and grow in love with is so much more than the quick release.

I am a fighter, always have been and always will be. I will continue to fight for my own happiness (I can't expect another to do that for me) but I also fight for someone who will fight back for me, for our relationship, if they view it a valuable victory, a treasure, something that nobody can put a price to. But I no longer have the strength or the heart to fight on my own. It hurts too much to try to make my marriage work when my husband is ready to throw in the towel. His comment is "we are great friends but a shitty husband and wife" and that we are sexually broken. And his question to me is "where do we go next?"

I don't know where to go from here. I think my husband feels the same. Has anyone successfully fought a battle like this?

"I must become a lion-hearted girl. Ready for a fight." -Florence + The Machine

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