What do you do when you can't rely on your spouse?

I've been asking myself this for years (even before we knew he had ADHD), but I go through periods when I am obsessed with it, and now is one of them. I try to find advice to single moms, because I figure I am almost (but not entirely) like one. I search for every possible way I can set my life up so that when I get sick or super busy/stressed, I can have everything under control without having to turn to my husband for help, because he won't be there for me. For several years now, he has been responsible for providing dinner two nights a week, and lately, he keeps flaking out on one of those nights, but I don't know until the last minute, so I've started searching for recipes for freezer-to-oven meals (no time to thaw when you find out at dinnertime that your spouse isn't making dinner!) or super-easy but healthy meals (our family is tired of fast food and Lean Cuisines -- sad, isn't it?).

I fear falling into a serious situation like cancer, because I know he won't be there for me.

It's not that he is evil. He just can't be relied on, and when I have complained, he has gotten upset. So, I've stopped complaining. I have done my best to give friendly reminders, but even they don't seem to work. Case in point, this past Sunday (a night when he is supposed to provide dinner -- this has been his chore for YEARS): He left for an event around mid-afternoon. Before he left, I asked, "Are you still making dinner tonight?" He said, "Yes." As it got closer and closer to 6, I wondered at what point I should call him and remind him he said he was going to provide dinner. I was poaching chicken for one of those freezer meals I mentioned. He walked in, and I said something to him about the fact that I wasn't making dinner, I was cooking ahead for another night. He said something like "Okay," and went into the garage. A short while later, I heard him using the circular saw. I gave him a while, and then stuck my head in the garage and asked, "When are you making dinner?" "Oh!" he said, "I'm sorry. You must be hungry. What sort of Lean Cuisine would you like?" So, he was sorry, but honestly, what am I supposed to do? Chant "dinner dinner dinner" constantly at him? 

He is obsessed, completely obsessed with the project he is working on in the garage. He will be in there for hours. He asked me to order drapes for our windows, and they have been sitting there for months, waiting for him to put them up. He tells me not to wash the dishes, he will do them (they are another chore of his), but they will be all over the counter, in my way, or we will run out of spoons, and I will go ahead and wash them, because otherwise who knows WHEN they will be washed. If I am stressed or sick, he isn't going to step in and pick up the slack for me. He might tell me not to do things, but he won't actually do them for me -- and I don't mean things like dusting (I hardly ever get around to dusting; I don't have time and it isn't a high priority), but things like laundry or taking out trash (actually, when he SEES me taking out trash, he'll jump up and say, "I'll do it," but if the can is overflowing, he will just ignore it). Speaking of trash, we have talked about how I would like him to throw his trash away, but he will make himself a microwave popcorn every night and INVARIABLY leave the plastic outer wrapper on the counter. I was recently on vacation with my mother and child (without him -- he doesn't like to travel), and he had a cold while I was gone. When I came home, there was a used Kleenax on the bedroom floor next to the wastepaper basket -- he had missed and not bothered to pick it up. Ewww.

Earlier this year, he had a minor medical crisis. After it was over, he thanked me for being by his side, and I appreciate that, but I was hurt (especially because he knows my love language is words of affirmation) when, a few days later, we were with some of his friends, and he told about his crisis, and instead of saying something like, "And my lovely wife was there for me," he said, "And when she drove me to the ER, she drove up to the wrong door, and I was in SOOOO much pain, but I didn't get mad at her." Gee, thanks, honey. A few weeks later, I had a cold (and yes, it was just a cold), and I had to work despite the cold, and I'd come home from work, and he didn't offer to do a thing to make the evenings easier for me, like make dinner that night. I know I should have ASKED him to do it when he didn't volunteer, but I get so TIRED of always having to the initiator (and then having to follow up and follow up and follow up if my request is actually going to be taken care of). Can't he just once see a need and actually offer to meet it on his own? 

He takes Adderall, and that helps, but he refuses to get counseling, either couples counseling or for himself. He also won't acknowledge that his ADHD has a negative effect on me. My problems are all supposed to be because I am depressed (and I am, and I'm being treated for it, and the treatment is helping me, but it doesn't change my overall situation with my husband or desire to be cared for as well as being the one who does the caring).

I periodically throw myself pity parties, wishing I had someone who had my back. I can't afford regular household help, and anyway, what I really need is someone to pick up after my husband or keep on top of the dishes or deliver a last-minute healthy meal (where we live, you can't order restaurant meals for delivery, like you could in, say, NYC). My mother, who lives nearby, is entirely unsupportive. She thinks I need to be firmed with him. What she doesn't know (because I haven't told her -- I don't think telling her would help the situation) is how close we have come to divorce, because I am a "nag" who "always wants my way." I don't want a divorce (well, the sane part of me that realizes that (1) life wouldn't exactly be a party without my husband, no matter how unhelpful he can be, and (2) I'd feel like I'd cut off a leg if I divorced him -- we've been together so long, and I do believe I still love him, even when I think I want a divorce), so I just take care of things myself now. Single moms are told to have a support network they can rely on, but who would that be? Am I the only person whose friends are frankly busy enough with their own families that they don't make much of a support network? They are emotionally supportive, but really -- my closest friend, geographically speaking, is disabled, so I can't count on her for practical help, and my other friends live half an hour or more away. I just have to do for myself.

I confess that I fantasize sometimes that my husband and I won't be together any more someday, and I'll meet a man who cherishes me and whom I can lean on in tough times. Someone I can truly trust. I know that isn't good for my marriage, but I am having a very hard time not going there mentally. (This someone is not an actual man I know, but that doesn't make my thoughts good.)

Has anyone successfully managed the "I wish someone had my back" issue? How did you do it? 


I totally get where you're

I totally get where you're coming from.  I regularly say and think that I wish my husband had my back.  Approximately 5 years ago, I wrote a health-care-power-of-attorney document for myself (I'm a lawyer so I knew basically how to do it), and I asked my sister to be my "agent" (i.e., decision-maker) in case something happens to me.  I know my husband would feel hurt at being left out but I don't trust him to make decisions correctly or quickly!  It is very sad.  

I think of myself as a single mom. My closest friends and family know what's going on and understand why I feel that way and, I think, treat me accordingly (in a good way).  It's hard, though, at work, where I feel as though people see me as a typical married parent: yeah, I have some extra responsibilities, but I have a husband to share them.  But my husband doesn't share them. So I feel like I have to play a role (of person who is not breaking under the stress).  

I had a slight emotional

I had a slight emotional breakdown at a Dr appt when she asked me about a health directive. I knew I couldn't rely on my husband, and in that moment, it shattered me. 

Trying to Reply to 20yrVet


I swear you are married to my husband... one difference through is that mine cannot even get out of bed in the morning. This site is making me really upset today. I definitely need to make a consult with a lawyer.

totally get you (edited)

20 Yr, I feel for you and I am sorry for your situation.

Your post sounds like a summary of my marriage, lol. I completely understand how you feel, from the not getting help to the not traveling to the taking Adderall but refusing counseling to unfinished projects to my spouse being defensive and bewildered that I kept insisting how significantly his ADHD affected our family life. I unfortunately was not ok with him not getting treatment after years of asking and left him last year. 

My advice is for you to find a way to get some relief for yourself as soon as you can. I know that my misery caused me to isolate myself. I too said that I couldn't afford help. And my friends were busy, and I had no family closer than 250 miles. These are all very good reasons. The truth was that it was hard to let someone I didn't know very well into my strained situation. It was more for me to decide and more work. You know what? You can't afford not to get help. After deciding to just DO it, I found a gem of a college student who came Saturday mornings and watched my toddlers for a few hours. It allowed me to stop being so mad that my spouse wouldn't get out of bed on the weekends until very late and was great for my sons, who still love her. Can you figure out a way to pay a student to pop in and clean or make a few meals and freeze them for you? Is there a teenager in the neighborhood looking for a job who can take out the trash and do a few things around the house for you? I KNOW:-) he should be doing some of this, but for the time being? Can you cut back somewhere so that you can just know these few things will be taken care of? It is tough to get stuff like this started, but once they are rolling, they take on their own momentum. And it is great to have one or two numbers in your phone that you can call if you really need some help. 

At any rate, my best to you. There are lots of posts on this site and you may find that looking through the history you will find more input. Take good care of yourself.

You've given me an idea

Thank you. There may be at least one young person I know that I can pay for help.

By the way, I see that I've interacted with both you and Rosered before when I was concerned about my husband's drinking. The good news is that it did seem to be an obsession which has recently dialed down a bit. Of course, he's replaced it with the project in the garage, but at least he doesn't seem to be developing into an alcoholic.

barneyarff's picture

Wow   Are you living at my



Are you living at my house?  To be honest I don't know if it's ALWAYS ADD or if a majority of the time it's "IcangetawaywithitbecauseIalwayshavebefore"

Personally I think it's the last.  After being married for a long time and if the husband comes from a family where the Mom was "in charge" of the house and the dad sat on his behind and watched TV after work, then that's what our husbands hope to get.  I mean, who wouldn't want a wife who even threw away your empty popcorn container?


If they don't want to change I think your only recourse is to put up with it or leave.


What if I died?

Have you guys ever worried about who will take care of the kids if you pass away? My husband doesn't actually have ADD, but he was diagnosed with several processing and memory disorders, and it looks a lot like ADHD, so I hope it's ok that I'm here. The incident that drove me to get him tested was that he'd left our 3 year old alone in a swimming pool with no life jacket because he saw a basketball hoop and decided he'd rather shoot. He told me later that because she was in the shallow end, he thought she'd be ok. I found her in water up to her armpits, heading in deeper. I can't even tell you how scared I was, but I'm sure you can imagine.

He's never been good about the kids' safety, but that was the worst thing he's ever done. Since then, I've tried to avoid leaving him alone with the kids. But I'm terrified that if something happens to me, the kids won't be safe. And then beyond their basic safety, he doesn't participate in parenting them in any meaningful way. If we were to divorce and I had custody, would he automatically get them if I died? Or could I identify other guardians for them? I'm just terrified that he won't be a capable parent if something happens to me.

Good question

First off, I think you are completely welcome here. Your husband may not have ADHD, but he certainly behaves like he does! I would have been terrified in the circumstances under which you found your three-year-old, so I can certainly understand your worries. My husband has never done something on that level (when he was finally tested a few years ago, he was told he was high-functioning, possibly because his very high-IQ enabled him to somehow work around his ADHD). He just has never put much effort into raising our child, leaving (as he himself admits) the vast majority of the work to me. I confess that when we talked divorce (which I think I will end up posting about on this board in a while), I told him I wanted full custody of our daughter, and it was largely because he just sort of ignores her. Not in an endangering way; he just doesn't bother to invest in relationships if they aren't "shiny" and all fun all the time. I really had to insist very firmly that he show up for her last school concert, because he usually doesn't get around to coming to school concerts or, when she was in a sport, games, and it does matter to her. He sometimes means to show up, but he doesn't organize his time so that he can make the event. When he finally showed up to this most recent concert, I found myself praising him over and over again, almost like you would with a dog or a small child, to try to reinforce the behavior, because I know he was bored to tears, since the event involved sitting and waiting for the concert to start, and then sitting through several performances that didn't involve our child. I can manage it just fine, but he, of course, can hardly stand it. I felt bad, though, that I was laying on the positive reinforcement as thickly as I was. I think both of us realize that I go through a "good dog" routine with him sometimes. :(

Anyhow, at one point, I was sure that if I died (or left him and he had joint custody of our daughter), his mother would move to our area and take charge of things with him. She treats him like he his helpless, which in my opinion has just made things worse. Now, with my mother-in-law getting increasingly frail, my mom living near us (she didn't when my daughter was younger), and our child getting older, I think my daughter could somewhat take care of herself, and my mom would step in to help.

I'm no legal expert, but I think if you were divorce, you might not get full custody. Despite my telling my husband I wanted that, I really wouldn't have gotten it unless he agreed to it -- I think you REALLY have to prove the other parent is a serious danger to your child. You have a good argument given the swimming pool situation, I'm not 100% sure it would be good enough for a judge -- it would depend on the judge, I think. Anyhow, even if you had full custody of your children, I don't know that your husband wouldn't get custody once you died. Again, he'd have to really look pretty terrible in court to not have any rights to them, even if you were dead. The question is, could you make arrangements with trusted friends or family members -- your family or his -- that they would step in and help with your children should you die. This, unfortunately, probably wouldn't mean that your children would always be in the presence of another, more trustworthy adult, but it might help. And I guess this is a great reason to invest in your health, so that your chances of dying young will be slim!

Hang in there.

Legal assistance needed..

If you are in the US the laws may depend on your state so what you read about one state may be totally irrelevant to your position. You would not be paranoid if you found a way to spend an hour on a legal consultation, then set about putting in place whatever paperwork is required to have your wishes heard if the worst should happen. Please find a way do it, it need not be expensive just to find out your position (and considering what's at stake it's important to learn what the law has to say so if you can afford it *at all* then do it now, or look for a free 1/2 hr consultation).

Omg, my husband has put our

Omg, my husband has put our baby in several dangerous situations. It can keep me awake at night worrying that he isn't safe with his own father. I'll just have to stay alive lol. He gives no meaningful interaction either. 

Oh, I left mine, but he is relocating to be near us. I hope he has changed. 

That's what I like about these boards

That's what I like about these boards: the fact that we can relate to each other (and commiserate and maybe even help out).

There is always the question: Is it really ADHD or something else? Before we knew my husband had ADHD, I wondered if he was a narcissist. I wondered if he really loved me. (I still struggle with that.) I blamed his parents for not teaching him to do his share around the house (his mother did everything for her boys, even when they were adults, and while her husband sometimes worked two jobs, a full-time job and farming, when he wasn't farming, I thought he should have been doing more around the house, since his wife also worked) and for modeling selfishness in their own marriage (which eventually led to the breakup of that marriage). I still think the way he was raised comes into play. But once I knew he had ADHD, some things fall into place. I don't enjoy waiting in lines, but he HATES it. Now I know why. He used to do things like start folding laundry and then leave the task partially finished, and I wondered if it was some sort of passive-aggressive way of treating me. Now I know that he will be folding laundry, start wondering about something, stop to go look it up on the Internet, and then forget all about the laundry. The ADHD explains a lot. Certainly, other factors do come into play, but the ADHD is a huge factor.

There was a point just this past winter when I decided I couldn't put up with it anymore. I have to put this into context. (1) While I'm generally not going to judge people who have gotten a divorce, (in part because I've nearly been down that road myself, so who am I to judge someone who went the rest of the way?), I believe divorce is really an option that should be embraced only under extreme circumstances, such as abuse or affairs. Part of that is because of my religious faith (I believe that marriage is a school that can help us become more Christlike, though I confess there are plenty of times I feel like I'm DONE with trying to be Christlike, let me be selfish now!), and part of it is because I think we often overestimate how happy we'll be after a divorce. So, while I can be TEMPTED to get a divorce (and boy, can I be tempted), that's not a path I truly want to walk down. (2) When this happened, a lot more was going on in my life than just dealing with a husband with ADHD. It was winter, and a very snowy one, and I HATE winter and I HATE commuting in the snow. I had planned a girls' getaway to Florida with some friends, and then my work schedule and some other things were spinning out of control, so it was getting hard for me to find a time that would work for me to go, and one of the two friends I was going to go with was treated to a girls' getaway in Florida as a birthday gift by some other friends of hers, and she couldn't really take more time off to go back. So I was miserable and jealous of that friend and just in a bad place mentally. So, keeping those to things in mind, here's what happened. I am embarrassed to show what a b... I was, but this is a story I think I have to tell (maybe it will help other people?): I walked into the house, or tried to walk into the house, after work one day during this horrid winter, very soon after my friend got back from her LOVELY Florida trip, and I had trouble opening the door, because my husband kept kicking off his shoes in front of the door every time he came in the house, and he had at least three pairs piled in front of it. That was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I threw his shoes into another room, grabbed my gym bag and went off to exercise without saying a word to him, and as I left I thought/prayed, "Okay, God, I'm about to leave. I'll go exercise, and then I'm going to go to a bookstore and buy myself a book and a treat, and during that time, I need my husband to call and apologize for being inconsiderate All.The.Time, or a friend to call me and talk me out of this, or even a complete stranger to ask me if I'm okay -- I'll take that as a sign that I should stay. If none of those things happen, I am OUT of this marriage. I canNOT take this anymore." None of those things happened, so I piled a bunch of my clothes in our guest room when I got home, with the plan of getting up early, packing a suitcase, and just driving south (I was going to call in sick to work and worry about the whole what-to-do-about-my-daughter thing later, really immature and selfish, I know). That's how completely horrid and crazy I was being at that moment. I went to bed, and my husband and I still hadn't spoken to each other. I'd just left him and my daughter to fend for themselves for dinner during my total tantrum. I had no dinner myself, just my bookstore treat. Anyhow, I decided I needed to have it out with him, so I got up, and he told me he was tired of my acting "this way" (angry, hurt), and I told him that was fine, because I was leaving him. And he said, "Yes, I think we should get a divorce." At that second, everything drained out of me. Frankly, I was hurt. I wanted him to be disappointed. I wanted him to fight to keep me. I also realized how much this would hurt our daughter, and how I might not be so happy about it after all, and how it went against what I believed. And I found myself actually arguing him back into us staying together.

During the argument, he said some things I disagree with, including that I always want to have my way (I feel like he always wants HIS way and doesn't mind me having my way if it doesn't conflict with his way -- in other words, we can live like two housemates with separate lives, and that is fine with him -- but if I insist that I want to have something my way that would require him NOT to have his way, he gets upset). But I also saw myself through his eyes, and it wasn't pretty. I have become a real b____, and I wouldn't want to be married to me. I'm not saying I don't have reasons to be angry about the state of our marriage. But I can be a pretty miserable person to be around, and that doesn't exactly inspire change in one's spouse. Anyhow, the argument wasn't totally fair -- I agreed to get counseling for depression, he refused all marriage counseling or ADHD counseling, because, he said quite plainly, he didn't want to change. I made the agreement, because I decided I wanted to stay. Is that crazy? To some people, yes, but like I said, when I weighed in my beliefs and my daughter and my wondering how wonderful things truly would be without him -- I mean, he may not be all that helpful a lot of the time and can be selfish, but it's not like he is NO help -- he shovels and does heavy "man" tasks when they are needed, which tends to be irregularly vs. the tasks I tend to do, but they are something, and he usually works (like many ADHDers, he has had a spotty job history) and brings in approximately half the family income.

So, I agreed to counseling. He did not. But he did show a willingness to make things work. The next day we tip-toed around he each other, and he was the first to extend the olive branch by talking to me about an event that we had planned to attend in the future, then giving me a hand up off the couch (something he never does) and, at the end of the evening, asking me for a goodnight kiss. He started wearing his wedding ring regularly (it's a long story, but he hadn't been wearing it largely because he had once left it at his parent's house when they were still together, so, afraid he would lose it, he just stopped wearing it, and he knew I wanted him to wear it, so he has started wearing again, which is a very strong symbolic gesture of love). Goodness knows he is trying, and I am, too. But when I feel like I can spend all of my time picking up after him, when he could easily just throw things away or put things away himself, when he lets me down again and I think about how I can't count on him to come through for me, when I think about the many things I do without any help for him, so that it feels like I could really almost do without him, at these times, I can feel myself falling back into the anger and resentment that have been a part of my side of our marriage for many, many years. This is not the marriage I want (shall we talk about the very infrequent sex life? no, let's not right now), so it is tempting to throw it away, but when I was looking down that corridor, I didn't REALLY want to go there. What I'm trying to do is find ways that WILL inspire change in our marriage -- change from both of us, and, if worst comes to worst, to be happy in a very dissatisfying marriage. But I do often think wistful "what if" thoughts, imaging the marriage I wish I had. :(

20YrVet, there is so much in

20YrVet, there is so much in what you wrote that I relate to. If we had no kids, I would certainly be gone. But, we do, and I don't want to put them through that. That worst part for me is that my H just makes me feel crazy (and angry, I'll get to that!). I still don't know whether he lies on purpose or because he really is confused or really has forgotten our conversation, but either way it makes me feel crazy. We were just living in his home country for a year (an international marriage, another strike against us, because some of our problems are cultural barriers I think), and I was late. My boobs were sore, evertyhing smelled and tasted funny. I kept it to myself for a bit, but finally I told him I needed him to buy a pregnancy test. I coudln't myself, because I don't know what they're called in German. I thought he would freak out, but he says, "No, you can't be pregnant." Mind you we used withdrawl for birth control at this point! And I reminded him that indeed I can, in fact that's how we concieved our first. So he finally agrees to get one "if I really want one," and he goes to the drugstore while I take the kids to the grocery store. Then we get home and I ask him for the test and he said, "Oh I totally forgot it."

GRR!! How do you forget something like that?!! And I've wondered the same thing; is he just passive aggressive? And sometimes I just get so mad at him. I know anger doesn't get me anywhere, and I'm really working on it. I've read Codependent No More and a bunch of other relationship and self-help books. Codependent no more really taught me that I can't let his behavior affect me. That does mean disconnecting, but hopefully at some point we'll reconnect. I don't know, honestly more likely I see us going on disconnected and then divorcing when the kids are out of the house. 

We're back in the US so I will see an attorney. I do the same thing though, sometimes fantasizing about the marriage I wish I had. I know no one has a perfect marriage, I just want a husband instead of another child. 

Oh, and we can talk about the very infrequent sex any time! 

barneyarff's picture

Some really good stuff has

Some really good stuff has been written the past few days.

I've been thinking a lot about what was written and thought I would try to put a thought or two "on paper"

1)  If my 16 year old daughter told me about her boyfriend the way I complain about my husband and some of the stuff I read here I would encourage her to drop that boy like a hot potato and wonder how she learned to think it was OK to put up with that kind of crap.

2)  What am I teaching my children by staying in a marriage that is so full of stress?

3) I've worked hard lately at having no expectations but I've figured out that if there are no expectations, then I have no obligations either, which is rather freeing. (Why don't the books talk about the giving up obligation side?  I swear they are all sexist pieces of crap)

4) I've disengaged as much as I can.  But how are 2 disengaged, no expectations, no obligations people in  any kind of healthy relationship?

5)  I'm pretty sure that if I left the marriage, DH would do nothing to try to win me back.  That hurts me on a level I can hardly look at but I need to finally admit that if I dropped the marriage ball no one would be holding it up.

6) "I just forgot" is just as injurous as not doing something on purpose.  Forgetting means I wasn't worth the effort to remember.  "On purpose" means you weren't worth forgiving.

I didn't do it on purpose still means there is a problem that needs to be fixed.  So fix it instead of expecting me to clean up your mess.

7) I spent many years NOT being angry or upset at the messes, the "forgetting" etc and it did not get better.  When I finally saw how badly I was treated I got mad.  That is a normal reaction to being s#@! upon.  Don't leave the shoes in front of the door so I can get inside on a cold winter day.  Don't throw nasty kleenix on the floor.  Don't start another project while 33 projects lay unfinished about you and I might cheer up a bit. 

8) The stress and anger have and will continue to compromise my health.

9)  I'm less inclined to think that this is ADD.  I'm thinking it is men taking advantage of women because of the culture we live in and we let them get away with it, bad habits, bad manners and yes, the "L" word, laziness.


"I'm pretty sure that if I

"I'm pretty sure that if I left the marriage, DH would do nothing to try to win me back."

I filed for a separation three months ago.  My husband's only comments on the issue have been "what happens to the property" and "what happens next."  No, "But I want to stay married" or "Are you sure" or "You stupid jerk.  I'm glad we're splitting up."  Nothing.


I have to say that my

I have to say that my husband's reaction helped to decrease my feelings of guilt.  

It's so hard to know what the lack of response means.  But I decided that it's not unreasonable for me to expect that even a person with ADHD and passive aggressiveness and and anxiety and depression should be able to say that he wants to stay married if that is what he wants.

barneyarff's picture

I'm spending more time on

I'm spending more time on this than I should (does anyone feel just worn out with all the time and thought the ADD spouse wrings out of us?) but while writing how I don't see much empathy, or politeness in some of the spouses I read about, something I read came to mind so I looked it up.

It has to do with boy's behavior and goes something like this

age 4---grabs a girl's hair   It means he likes her the adults say.

age 11--- grabs a girls arm and she screams for him to leave her alone   That's just how boys are the adults say.

age 18--- grabs her arm (etc) and now it's not OK.   How would she know she has any say over her body when for 18 years "he" could whack on her.  How would he know to not "whack" when for 18 years adults thought it was cute.

I think this goes for ADDers too.  As children they are "just kids" and their rudeness, bad grades, messiness, lack of manners, no empathy, etc etc etc are excused.  Then when the ADDer grows up they have no understanding how to act because they were coddled or considered cute or they were hard headed and wore out their parents.  And I think as nonADD spouses we are asked to give them lots of leeway.  I'm starting to think that what they need is no leeway at all.  They behave like spoiled brats because they got away with their behavior for so long.

Yes, it's hard and exhausting to raises an ADD kid (I've got one).  But guess what?  The moment I took everything away from him except what I have to provide by law, he straightened up.  I even took away his college money. (why waste $250,000?  I could go on many vacations with that kind of money) Told him it was obvious he wanted to be a WalMart greeter so I was not going to spend anymore time or effort trying to help him be the profession he says he wants.   He now gets A's and B's and he is slowly earning back some of his stuff.  Of course I've given him lots of hugs and praise.  Don't think I'm some kind of monster. But I can't give in even a little because he will try to get away with something.  I can't give him one bit of leeway.  Not one.  It's exhausting but it's my job, I'm the Mom.  He is much harder to raise than my daughter who does NOT have ADD.  I get to let my guard down with my daughter sometimes and have a little fun.  It is a relief.

   I am determined that he is not going to treat a woman like my husband has treated me.  I would be horrified if I played a part in that. So everyday is a battle.

I think if I had drawn the line like that with my husband when we first got married, we would have either separated quickly (sigh, what a relief that would have been) or he would have realized he was not going to get away with all the crap his Dad did.  Ah, but I was young and dumb and I thought my husband was going to treat me like an equal.  And that was my fault.  I was young, dumb, in love, and I assumed many things.  And my denial was that he would grow up.


I also think sexism is part of the problem

I mean, marriage has been a way that men controlled women for thousands of years. A society can't just jump from that history to full equality in a few dozen years. I think many men have this expectation that their job is to work, and a wife's job is to work plus do everything else. In my situation, my H comes from Europe, and I see a lot more sexism there, especially in his home country.

I also think that the idea of an improved marriage consisting of two people who are totally disconnected from each other and have no expectations of care is just depressing. I just keep reminding myself that until my kids have a stronger sense of self and identity, the family unit is going to be very central to their lives, and that's what I'm working so hard to keep together. I'm hoping that 10 years from now, it'll feel like I've made the right decision.

Also, thanks for welcoming me here!  H's cognitive testing showed a really high score in concentration, which is why we know it's not ADHD, but I'll bet the general processing, dyslexia, auditory processing and memory disorders also go along with ADHD a lot. Does anyone know? I thought I read something somewhere about dyslexia and ADHD... And that part has been so helpful to identify. Like, I had to come back to the US early because I was deported (I know, ridiculous), because H thought he read that I had six months to apply for a visa, but I only had three. I just trusted him on that, which was stupid, but we (ha, I mean I) were doing SO MUCH to get ready for the move, and I was overwhelmed. But I have to say to my own great credit, I totally didn't get mad at him. I was mad about the fine, because I can think of much better ways to spend $750 (MUCH better ways!!!), but his dyslexia specifically manifests as a reading comprehension problem. Actually, sometimes I feel like I'm a borderline high functioning ADDer, because I can be flighty. Hopefully though I'm still in the "normal" end of the spectrum. That's my gut instinct, that I have some of the characteristics but not enough to qualify for a diagnosis. Still, I'm doing what I can to work on me.

Finally, yes, worn out. I just feel so tired all of the time. Well, I also just got over being horribly sick, so that doesn't help. 

barneyarff: could be on to something


I think you could be on to something when you mentioned about parents possibly overlooking the ADHD behavior in the children, and coddling them or thinking they were cute. (especially us older folks) I TOTALLY SAW THIS in regards to the relationship between my ADHD husband and his mother. My husband was his mother's "favorite child", even though he had STRONG adhd behavior. Her other two children had terrible behavior issues and later became drug addicts/alcoholics. But, my dh was the "good kid" who got good grades, and "stayed out of serious trouble like the other two". But, her exaggerated praise on him was over behaviors that are considered just "good manners" and "good behavior" for the rest of us. (no offense to the adhd'ers out there, just explaining what she did)

     I KNOW this led, in part, to him having an "exaggerated" opinion of himself, which was running contrary to the ADHD thinking that he was somehow "different" and "above others". But, she did this ALL his life, and it took some doing on my part to explain the difference between doing something nice for someone is also good for YOU, and not always the means to getting HEAPS of PRAISE. 


We have been married 28

We have been married 28 years.  We have two adult daughters, both in their early 20s.  I've written a lot about my situation in other threads on this forum, but this topic (not being able to rely on the partner with ADHD) is probably the key to my unhappiness in my marriage.  We have had many problems over the past several years, and they're certainly not all my husband's fault, but the fact that he can't be relied on to help us get out of our problems has been a huge strain and stress.  My health is shot.  I need distance from my husband to survive.  And if I don't survive, my family will struggle mightily, because I'm the main breadwinner, my job carries health insurance, and I do 90% of the challenging duties of parenting and household care.

Linsy's picture

Left mine 3 yrs ago

Realised I have been single parent all along, but to four children not three. Down to three now husband has gone, one adult, one getting there, one still young. Responsibility without agency is appalling. Sole responsibility far preferable. I too have NO family support, loving friends with their own issues, etc. But I had to be strong, so I was. He was also extremely nasty with terrifying mood swings, and I was a physical nervous wreck (although not clinically depressed - just unhappy with a marriage gone very very wrong) so I had to recover physically from an over stimulated stress reaction. You are strong, you have got this far. In the end we only have ourselves to rely on, and we have our own backs. Anything else can be seen as a lovely bonus. And I have had lots of those from the least expected people, total strangers who came into my life and reminded me that relationships (friendships - no lovers) could be fully reciprocal and satisfying. Good luck with it all.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Aha moment. . . . .

Hello 20YrVet.  I am reading your post and realizing that I too confess that I fantasize sometimes that my husband and I won't be together any more someday, and I'll meet a man who cherishes me and whom I can lean on in tough times. Someone I can truly trust. I know that isn't good for my marriage, but I am having a very hard time not going there mentally. (This someone is not an actual man I know, but that doesn't make my thoughts good.)

I am lonely in my marriage.  I am stuck trying to decide what to do.  Go?  Stay?  Go?  Stay?  I have done many sorts of counseling over the past 20 years.  Personal counseling for my own struggles with eating disorders.  Al-Anon to find peace with growing up in an alcoholic home.  Self-Help books.  Dr. Phill's Relationship Rescue.  The ADHD and Marriage couples course offered here on this site.  2 specific courses of marriage counseling with-in 3 years  with two different ADHD experts.  

When our daughter got engaged in January of this year, my ADHD spouse and I sorta-kinda made an agreement that we would put our marriage struggles on the back burner until after the wedding - thus being able to focus on our daughter and her joy in planning her wedding.  Our marriage struggles have been on-going for many years, so it was easy for me to allow the focus at this time to be my daughter.

 My daughter adores her Daddy - and that makes me happy.  My daughter and I have a great relationship - and that makes me happy.  My spouse is no more reliable to his daughter than to me - but a Father-Daughter relationship is a whole different thing that a Husband-Wife relationship when it comes to reliability and being there for someone.

And time, as always, has marched on - and in 7 days, the wedding will be here.  I have been literally fighting off the cloud of doom I feel lurking in the background - fearing the shoe-to-drop squarely on my head.  

How hard it is to not be able to rely on someone - I suppose it might be different if there was empathy from  my spouse on his inability to be reliable.  However, all I feel is his anger in response to my hurt/disappointment/over-burdened life.  

I have been working on putting an end to the child-parent dynamics in our relationship.  Not as easy as I thought as I am a care-taker nurturer by God's design.

I have taken on a temporary part-time job in the evenings.  Last night, amidst the working,  waiting in the afternoon for an appraiser for refinancing our house, and all the wedding planing, I had totally 100% forgotten about a 9:30 pm gathering of my friends - I  myself had called another friend this past Monday to remind her of us getting together.  

So I got a clear look into how a brain can totally forget something so important.  And it did stir empathy for my spouse - as he always in pounding his forehead with the palm of his hand saying, "You DO NOT KNOW what it is like to live inside my brain."  

I did feel embarrassment and shame  and silly ness that I had forgotten - and I apologized to my friends.  And right there - that apologizing, that understanding, that realizing that I caused disappointment to another, that frustration at how the other felt - - - that is what I am missing from my spouse.  

And there within lies the dilemma. . . . . .  

barneyarff's picture

Something rather amusing

About a month ago we bought a used Rainbow vacuum cleaner.

My ADD husband cannot get enough of it because of it's instant feedback.  (It has no bags.  It has water and all the dirt goes into the water)

I hear him upstairs now vacuuming again.

Rainbow should make an advertisement out of this.  It's great.  I  would have happily paid the full amount for a new one had I known the response it would get.

Now if they could only make the vacuum so it would put itself away because, yes, you guessed it, it sits in my living room quite a bit.

this is totally me

I have a similar (bagless) vacuum cleaner, and it totally provides instant gratification. THEN I got a hoover floor mate (spearates the clean water from the dirty!), and OMG it's the same thing. I certainly have a bit of ADD tendencies myself (fixation, forgetful, and I seldom put away the vacuum cleaner), but sometimes they're just so enjoyable. :-)

After his diagnosis, mine

After his diagnosis, mine stopped apologizing and started saying, "oh, I got distracted", like it was no big deal. 

Mine is moving in with me temporarily until he finds a good job. I feel like someone with ptsd right now. I'm still angry after 6 months completely apart. And honestly, he is a good man. The ADD and laziness are just too much to bear for my personality and needs. 

My heart breaks for all of us

Rosered, I'm glad in some ways that your husband's attitude helped you when you decided to make the break, but I'm so sorry for you, too. I know it must be hard after investing 28 years.

And barneyaff and polkadots, I totally get that sexism might play in, though I do believe in ADHD -- I've seen men on these boards talking about their ADHD wives, and I know that part of my husband's problem is forgetfulness, which was sort of cute "ha ha, isn't he so forgetful" thing before things really went south.

And that's the thing... part of what keeps me hanging on. I'm not saying we had a perfect marriage in the beginning, but it was a mighty good marriage, and I loved him madly and generally felt loved by him. Housework wasn't supposed to be a problem for us, because when we did our premarital counseling, he believed (on paper at least) as I did in sharing the housework equally. But when we first got married, he was working an average of 60 hours a week, and I was working 40, and we lived in an apartment, no kid, so it made sense for me to do pretty much everything. And for a while, when we lived in our house (but still had no child) and were working about the same amount, we actually did pay for help, since I was doing most of the housework. We were paying a seminary student who needed a little extra income. It worked out well, but then she graduated and got a position, and that came to an end, and we could never afford "real" help.

When things were bad with my husband, which wasn't awful, I found that when I put some extra effort into the relationship, which I wanted to do, because I loved him so and loved us together, he responded, and all was well. He has so much going for him, and when I compare him to some of the husbands I read about on these boards, I should feel lucky. He is smart and hard-working. He isn't an angry person; in fact, he avoids conflict (and that isn't always good, of course, but the point is, when we fight, it's because I start it). He generally doesn't spend unwisely; he was raised in a frugal family and has pretty much stayed that way. He hasn't cheated on me, and while I was worried he was headed toward becoming an alcoholic for a while, that, too, seems to be under control now.

The problem is, I feel unloved and unsupported, and I can almost exactly pinpoint when the slide downhill began: when our daughter was about five months old. The setup came before that: before I was pregnant, a friend of his at work (I'll tell you, sometimes I hate his work friends, because the things they introduce him to never seem to be good for our marriage... maybe if he didn't obsess over things, it would be different) was a police reserve officer. My husband ended up doing a ride-along with an officer, loved it, and went into police reserve work, too. Of course, having ADHD, he couldn't just sort of go into it, he REALLY went into it. Feeling neglected, I picked a fight with him over this at one point, and because I unfortunately seem to come up with very cruel things to say, I accused him of playing out a cops and robbers fantasy. He never forgets these things I say (so why does he forget things I want him to remember?). Anyhow, eventually he decided he wanted to go into work as a police officer, and while it took me a while to get on board, I became supportive of it, and I spent a lot of time helping him, because he has terrible grammar, spelling and handwriting skills (hello, ADHD), so I helped him with many an application, even when our baby was little and I wanted to go to bed after putting her to bed, but he needed help. When she was two months old, he landed a job as an officer. We were so happy, and I was so proud of him. As an added bonus, I wanted to be an at-home mom, and given the escalating pay scale of his position, we figured that when she was three-and-a-half, I could quit my job.

Up until then, he had bounced from job to job, but he had always carefully lined one job up before going to another, but with the police job, his job history changed. He was on probation for three months. At the end of that time, the police chief called him, said he was doing a good job but seemed to be having trouble memorizing the locations of things, so he wanted him to stay on probation a while longer. I guess, looking back, my husband really does have a fragile ego, and what he heard was, "You are a failure." At any rate, he came home, told me about the review, and said he didn't know if he'd be on the job much longer given that. He said NOTHING about quitting his job. A couple of days later, I came home from work, and my husband greeted me with, "I quit my job today." He felt that he was not a good officer and a danger to the public by not being one, so he quit, though the chief tried to talk him into staying. He told me that he had warned me this might happen, but I had not understood what he had told me to mean that he would actually quit. I was so angry and hurt. He got a position back in his old line of work (computer help desk) within two weeks, but for years, I carried around a lot of anger and bitterness about his throwing his job away after all we had invested in it. I shouldn't have done that, but I did. I also became quite bitter about the unequal distribution of household and parenting tasks in a way I had never felt before, because having a kid, of course, makes everything more difficult. My husband's career became quite shaky -- he was laid off of one job when the dot-com industry crashed and unemployed for six months. He tried to move up during that time but ended up feeling grateful to get a similar position at a large company as a contract employee. He spent some years there, never able to move up due to the nature of his position, always under threat of layoff, sometimes taking paycuts. In the meantime, I moved up in my own career. He finally moved to another place, but that place was dysfunctional, and he was fired after a very short period of time (not his fault). He was unemployed for a very short time, and got another position. This lasted a while, and it started out good, but that workplace also became dysfunctional, all the good people left, he got depressed and eventually I gave him my blessing to quit without having another job lined up. He wasn't eating or sleeping, for heaven's sake! It was scary, because it was during this past recession, but in two months, he had another job. That lasted six months -- his boss kept telling him he was forgetful and made him write an essay on how he would improve his memory. Finally, I started to worry and used the internet to research memory problems. I was sure it wasn't early onset Alzheimer's, because, remember, my husband has always been forgetful, it just rarely affected his work performance. I found out that that was a hallmark of ADHD, begged him to get tested, and he did, but it was too late to save that job. He was unemployed for another eight months before finding his current job, where he is doing well. They are encouraging him to try to move up, but he complains of being too tired at the end of the day to study for a higher-level position, though he has energy to work on his project in the garage.

I tried to "stand by my man" during this time. I even wanted to. But I also kept building up resentment -- over the police job, over the unequal work around the house, over the fact that he seemed to have permission to quit, while I never did, over the fact that even when I told him I'd like him to express some appreciation for my hard work, at home and at work, he never did. Not once did he say, "I know these times have been hard on you. Thank you for working so hard for us." And somewhere during that time, I stopped wanting to try anymore. And I'm sure my bitterness has seeped through and made me hard to love, so we've been on a downward spiral for some time.

But I want to have hope. I want to believe we can spiral upward again. I remember that, once upon a time, I was madly in love and if you asked me, I would honestly have told you our marriage was good. I want to try for that reason, among others.

And yet... I also feel SO hurt, SO hopeless, SO uncherished, that I want the fantasy man, even though he doesn't exist, and might never exist. I know realistically that, while there are people in situations where they'd feel happier out of their marriage, I won't necessarily feel that way. I could very well feel even worse.

So I'm torn. Torn between throwing in the towel and wanting to keep going. In the meantime, whether because I am at midlife or the medication and counseling are working, I'm feeling a new interest in investing in myself, and maybe that, too, will help. I've decided (though I've told no one about this) that this coming school year and summer are my year of "no" -- as much as possible, unless I feel very strongly that saying yes is absolutely necessary or good for me -- I am going to say no to requests made of me, with the hopes that will free up some time and energy. We shall see.

Anyhow, like I said, my heart breaks for every one of us, but I think this is important for us to be able to discuss with other people who are going through similar things!

barneyarff's picture

What you wrote was something.

What you wrote was something.  

So, my DH is trying to get his ADD under control.  He is now on meds and after my telling him to get counseling or leave, he has gone to counseling but it is such an uphill battle for both of us and frankly after 39 years I'm out of steam. 

So this morning I get up and going and find out that DH has bought a whole box of doughnuts.  And my ADHD son was up during the night eating them.  This is not the 1st time this has happened.  This is not the 5th time this has happened.  Each time I asked DH not to buy doughnuts and explained why it wasn't a good idea.  I used soft tones and did not blame anyone.  As usual, asking nicely and explaining why had no affect.

 So this morning I yelled.

His first response?  "I couldn't help it.  The boy had his own money."

 Are you kidding me?  He finally admitted that he is the parent and he should have said "no"  and because I yelled, he finally caught on and agreed that he did something stupid and he won't do it again.

But I am already annoyed.  I've lost my temper.  The adrenoline is flowing.  I've been on a walk.  I told him that if he was the only one stuffing himself with doughnuts, I'd just let him and hope he died an early death but he cannot do this to a kid.

Seriously, the experts don't talk at all about what the ADDer is supposed to do to act responsibly.  I'm fed up with being told what I'm supposed to do.  I'm tired of hearing how I'm doing EVERYTHING ALL WRONG.  When does the ADDer need to grow a pair?

When does he become responsible enough that I don't have to lose my temper just to get the kids raised right?  (I'm just waiting for some expert to tell me that I need to let the ADD spouse feed the ADHD kid doughnuts because that's his parenting style)


You know, last week,  I had a rather scary mammogram (don't know the results yet)  My company lost a big contract and I probably will lose tens of thousands of dollars in income because of it.  My son did something hugely stupid on Facebook that needs to be addressed immediately.  Yes, I've had my hands full.  My DH has a big project he is working on but he had a 3 day weekend.

He did not ask about the mammogram.  He shrugged off my loss of lots of income like it didn't count (and it was the fun part of my job too) and he has informed me that he can't think about our son's behavior right now because of what is going on at work.  I finally pressed him for a date that we could talk about it and he suggested after labor Day.



That is one of the most sane things I have seen written here.

The ADD spouse should not have to be responsible for themselves AND a child/parent AND the bad effects on the children after the childl/parent has had their way being irresponsible. People are built to have adrenaline and anger when things are WRONG,  It comes out as a viable emotion OR it gets stuck and stuffed and drives a person crazy.   After over 35 years of trying every way possible, giving, supporting,....I have adrenaline fatigue and dh still acts like a happy puppy whose main goal in life is to have a good time and rebel against authority.... ANY authority...The expected promises of marriage, a place in his own family, being a role model for children, earning a living, keeping a budget....All these sorts of things he sees as burdens of authority and he chooses to turn away from them and "do his own thing".

I am married.  My husband is not married.  But I have been married.....nothing to celebrate because I have been married by myself.

I appreciated your comments, barnarff.  You are right.

How are you?

What you wrote was something.  

Yeah, I can get wordy, especially when emotional. 

You know, last week,  I had a rather scary mammogram (don't know the results yet) 

Any news on this? I've been there with the scary mammogram stuff. For me, it turned out to be nothing (just a cyst), but I know what it is to have your heart in your throat, so if you don't mind posting about it, please let me know if all is well.

barneyarff's picture

Ya, got the results last

Ya, got the results last night.

No cancer.  Just annoying cyst or infection or something.  Whew!  With my history it is really really scary stuff.

And..... thanks for asking.


Linsy's picture

Stupid stuff stresses us out

It is maddening isn't it? I was made redundant twice, and he didn't even seem to notice. And I was paying the interest on business debts he ran up through poor judgement (and very poor support from his financial adviser).

I had a lump too

I ignored it, then the lymph nodes in my groin on the same side of my body started to swell, and that was really scary. I told him and he said, "Huh, that's weird." Not, "Please go see a doctor TODAY," just "huh, that's weird." But I went, even though it was scary, and the lump was just a fatty cyst but the lymph nodes were a mystery, so the doctor ordered some bloodwork. When I got home and told H, he said, "Well what's the bloodwork going to cost? You're not going to do it, are you?"

I didn't even bother responding. It goes like this every time something wrong. I'm pregnant and bleeding? Well that's weird. Do we have to go to the doctor? He's really busy today. How much will it cost? Then if I call him out on it later, "no that's not what I said, that's not what happened." Every time. Finally if I could get him to admit that he did indeed say that, he'll switch to "well you should know that's not what I meant to say."

I'm glad everything is ok with your health and jobs now!

Wow, every single paragraph

Wow, every single paragraph here is familiar to me. From 20yv's experiences to the lack of empathy. I woke up early on my birthday, middle in my pregnancy, with contractions. I calmly told my husband that I thought we should go to the ER. It was a Sunday, about 6am. With no emotion except annoyance, he said, "are you sure?". I had to convince him to take me and push him out the door. I spent the next 2-3 months on bedrest and a few weeks in hospital here and there. 

I may never fully get over the resentment, but at least I don't have to be with him anymore. That gives me some peace. 

I feel like I wrote that...

wow, it's amazing to read my life in someone else's words. I have been living with this type of like for 4 years now. I won't have a baby because I'm so unhappy with how my husband is. When we first met, he was extra responsive, very helpful, came up with great ideas and stuck with them. He has great intentions, but always forgets to follow through with things, pretty much everything except for his Jeep. I moved for him, away from my family and friends and I'm very depressed. If I tried listing the things that he doesnt do, I would be here too long and and start sounding like a nag (which he love to point out to me). I've got to the point where I want to hire a man to help me out with the heavier things that need to be done around the house. I'm 32 years old and I think I'm getting althritis bc my hands hurt and it makes everything so much harder to do. Last year I had stress related migraines from him all the time, it was so horrible, but now I can recognize the symptoms and I just leave the house and try to get away before it blows up into a migriane. I dont believe in divorce, but after 4 years im convinced there is no changing him. He gets very offended if I mention that he has an attention disorder, which makes perfect sense since his mother suffers from that as well. He is manic sometimes (super excited and very happy) so I feel like I'm living on a rollercoaster. He gets angry and downright defensive if I tell him what bothers me, and I'm not a confrontational person, it's hard enough just to even bring it up. When I do mention what the problem is,, it's usually because it's weighing so heavy on my mind that I just want to break down crying and leave for good. I've have left before but came back. He just doesnt understand because he comes from a family that blows up, yells and screams over tiny little things then just shrugs it off. In my past if I wasnt happy with a man that I dated I would just dump him and move on, yeah I know that is messed up, but I always felt that people just dont ever change - he would be happier with someone that suited them well and I would be happier with someone that suited me better. Like I said I dont believe in divorce but I fantasize ALL the time about finding someone more suited for me that would be CALM, kind, patient and focus on our tasks, like paying off debt, household maintenance, chores, doing things together. I tried bringing him to counseling a couple times, he has good intentions, but he just CANT focus and remember. I'm

A grain of hope

Your message got cut off at the end. If you want to follow up with the rest of it, I'd be interested in hearing your story.

Although it always helps just to know you're not the only one going through things, I thought I'd try to offer you slightly more substantial hope through where things are now in my marriage. Now things still have quite a way to go -- on both his end and my end. I still frequently feel uncherished. He forgot our anniversary, though he attempted a pretty good save. He had reminders: we talked about going out to dinner to celebrate nearly a week before, and two days before, he saw me bringing a box into the house. He asked me what it was, and I said, "A secret." He asked "For Christmas?" and I said, "No, for our anniversary." The morning of our anniversary, I left a card and his gift for him on the kitchen counter (I leave for work before he gets up). He texted me a little later and said, "Instead of a card, I'm sending you a poem: Roses are red, violets are blue, I love you." He then said my gift was to choose between going to New Orleans or Disneyworld for a winter vacation. Now that is a pretty great gift, except he had already told me before our anniversary that he wanted to take me to New Orleans before our anniversary, so he just sort of reworked it and polished it up. Because it was awfully nice of him to want to take me on a vacation in the first place and because he was trying, I gave him credit for all of this and was thankful instead of angry, but I was well aware he forgot. And it did hurt a little when later we determined it would best for us not to take that vacation, and so now I have no present at all. I know gifts don't matter all that much, but it hurts to spend time thinking of a gift to delight him and then, in the end, not to get a gift at all. Still I'm trying to focus on the good things and not spend too much time dwelling on this.

Also, I'm still doing the lion's share around the house (after more than 20 years, is that really a surprise?), and I can get resentful when he spends time working on his latest project (a new one has replaced the one he was working on -- which he actually carried to completion!, but completion meant something he could try out, not something that could actually, say, contribute to our family's well-being in some way) or taking naps or going on the computer or watching TV and I would like more time to chase my own dreams or just relax (or, sometimes, even go to bed on time).

As a result, I am still spending a LOT of time daydreaming about my fantasy man.

BUT there have been baby steps. First of all, because I've been dreaming about another man, I decided what I needed was to up the romance with my husband, and I specifically picked one thing -- sending him a loving text everyday we are at work or mostly apart, regardless of how I feel or what he does -- to do. Sometimes my text is just "I love you," sometimes it is a compliment or a "thank you," sometimes it is just "Hope you are having a good day," but no matter what, unless we are at home for most of the day together, I send that text. At first, I wasn't getting a response at all. Then, I was getting "Thank you" as a response, which was almost worse, because it was like he felt entitled to these texts without returning the favor, but I reminded myself that I was going to do this no matter what his response and kept on. And then finally he began actually saying nice things to me occasionally or saying he hoped MY day was going well. He has even initiated the occasional text. He doesn't always respond, and sometimes his responses are still just focused on himself, but he has actually started being a bit warm that way toward me.

We had a weekend away together at a sci fi convention. These weekends have always had the positives of the occasional dinner out together and actual sex at least once (which is so rare that has to be celebrated), but the trade-off is that I spend a lot of time alone, because he wants to stay up until five drinking and talking with people, and I physically cannot do that, and then I spend hours alone the next day while he sleeps in and hangs out with other people or does other things, and he has occasionally forgotten that he was going to do something with me at a certain time during the weekend. So there isn't a lot of togetherness -- not like a romantic weekend should be in my mind -- but at least there is some. Anyhow, on this weekend, I asked him to take a dance lesson with me in preparation for a dance later that evening. He hates dancing, but he actually said yes, and he danced with me. Honestly, he came to bed so late (or rather early in the morning) that I didn't think he'd make the dance lesson, but he did, and that was a HUGE deal to me for him to do something HE didn't want to do for ME. Wow.

Finally, he has been making small efforts to care for me. Can't say I'd say I feel like I can rely on him, but when I had a cold recently, he actually offered to provide dinner, and a couple of times when I've recently come home from a brutal commute (I have a lot farther to go to work than he does), he has made hot chocolate for me after I came home.

I feel like our marriage has come a long way in a short time, even though, as I said, I still have frustrations I wrestle with that push me back into my fantasies.

Here's what has helped on my end (not in order of importance):

-- My commitment to the one small change (in my case, texting).

-- My commitment to try to be pleasable, not easily angered (so when he forgot our anniversary, I just told myself, "Great save on his part! And I'll enjoy going on vacation with him.").

-- I've also started investing more in myself. I still have trouble getting that time I want to pursue my dreams or relax, as I said, but I've been investing more in my appearance and self-confidence, so by giving more to myself, I'm less focused on what I'm not getting from our relationship.

-- I've spend a ton of time praying about our relationship, including laying my specific needs before God and asking God to work in my life and change me, not just my husband.

Here's where I need to grow:

-- Confrontation. Oh, boy, that is going to be a hard one, but I know I need to do it. Neither he nor I are good at this. I was taught in my family growing up that if I stood up for myself, I'd be punished, and it is VERY hard for me to do now, so I tend to stuff things, grow resentful and then blow up (I know that is often typical of the non-ADHD partner anyway -- we give and give and then get angry). But I NEED to find a way to talk to him -- not yell at him -- about doing more around the house. I have to admit, I'm afraid. I'm afraid I'll lose him or at least the progress we've made. I'm afraid he'll say "no" or will do what he did when I was a graduate student and offer to do one additional thing only, and I'll take it because, hey, it's one thing, without pushing for more fairness than that. I'm afraid if he does take on something more, he won't follow through, just as he often doesn't follow through on the dishes, which are supposed to be his job, or on picking up after himself. I'm afraid I will not be able to communicate calmly and will blow up again, which isn't good for our marriage. I'm afraid we'll get in to an argument and he will win (I ALWAYS lose any argument I am in -- I am terrible at arguments) and then I will end up apologizing to him and he won't apologize to me (a very typical pattern for us). So, I don't know how I'm ever going to get to the point where I can confidently and assertively say, "I need for you to do more around the house. Our current division of labor is unfair," but I know that I need to work toward that.

-- Improving my ability to focus on the positive and not on what I lack (so that hopefully I can kick those fantasies to the curb -- seriously, I hate how much time I spend imaging life with my fantasy man -- while driving, falling asleep or wrestling with insomnia, doing anything that doesn't require my full attention).

-- Continuing to find other healthy ways to meet my needs (Who, other than my husband, can I ask for support when I need it? How can I continue to develop my self-esteem so that if I don't feel cherished by him, it doesn't matter so much?).

I can't promise these things would work for every relationship, but I feel like my decisions to invest in both the relationship and myself have put us on an upward spiral, and I feel far more hopeful about our future now.

Good luck!

And then there are times like this

It's not so bad, but there are rocks in every road, and tonight I am discouraged.

Our daughter is at a sleepover, so it just me and my man. A great night for a date, and we actually are normally good at taking regular dates, but we haven't had one in weeks due to hunting season and out-of-town guests and feeling under the weather.

It was be a REALLY great night for sex. It's been more than a month.

He hasn't completely ignored me, but he is pretty much acting like I am a housemate with whom he is on friendly terms.

I could tell him these things -- that I'd like to go out, that I'd like to have sex. But here's the thing: I do virtually all of the parenting tasks -- tracking grades, listening to speeches being rehearsed, giving my feedback on papers, driving child home from school every day, long talks about things both deep and trivial, shopping for clothes, shopping for gifts for her friends, shopping for school supplies, and so on and so forth. For seven years, I put in our required parent volunteer hours at our child's school, and then I stepped aside and told him he could do it, and he has volunteered for maybe two hours (we are supposed to be putting in 20 hours a year) in a little more than a year. I'm not going to worry about it; I was a very dedicated volunteer for several years, and no one is going to track us down if he doesn't put in the hours now.

I do the lion's share of the housework, and I get so overwhelmed when I see messes he has made (we have a bathroom I leave to him, and the times I have to go in there, I feel like screaming -- likewise with the computer room, where we have our printer... I have to shove stuff, his stuff, out of the way to print). I make most of the dinners during the week. I do most of the Christmas present shopping (I told him to buy a gift from his mom, and what he bought her was absolutely laughable -- a print (not painting) on fabric, reminiscent of Thomas Kinkaide, with little LED lights inserted, and the lights change color... the sort of gift that is hard to take seriously). I do the wrapping and the decorating and Christmas meal planning and much of the meal prep. I am not doing cards this year, and I won't miss it. 

I initiated sex last time

I want not to be responsible for this. I want him to take initiative. So, yes, I am being childish, but I don't want to initiate sex or a date tonight.

I guess I'll get a pint of ice cream and watch a romantic comedy. Not healthy, not mature, but tonight, I am just tired.

I really applaud your progress

I think it's great that you have a game plan and are seeing some positive results from it.  Be careful not to attach too much to whether or not he responds - try to do things because they are important to YOU inherently (for example, sending him texts because you feel it's important to express that you are romantically interested in making your relationship work vs. sending texts because you think he'll respond...there is a big difference in terms of what's sustainable if his response is tepid.)  Which is not to say you need to carry the weight of the relationship - it doesn't work that way, but simply that the best/easiest way to sustain things is if they are motivated by your own needs, rather than by trying to create a specific behavior in someone else (manipulation of a sort.)

I especially like your vow to 'be pleasable.'  This is an EXCELLENT relationship builder.  It's so important that your partner be open and positive to you and your ideas...you can't control whether he is this way with you, but you certainly can control whether you yourself respond to him in this way.  I know one of my husband's frustrations is that he thinks I ding too many of his ideas.  It's hard to remember to stay open and pleaseable, but well worth the effort.

To confront your husband, I suggest a few things.  First, don't think of it as a confrontation.  Think of it as joint problem solving, which is actually more accurate.  You might consider trying learning conversations or something like that to talk about difficult topics (see ADHD Effect on Marriage for more on that).  Also remember to talk about your own needs, rather than his problems.  So, for example, "I'm not getting enough sleep at night and would like to talk with you about how we might create a night routine that works for us both" is a better approach than "You keep me up at night and I'm exhausted."  My next book, which is going to be released in April has a who section on communication skills and "good fights" that will be particularly relevant for you - please consider getting a copy when it's out.

Hope this helps a bit!

Thank you

Thank you so much for your personal response. I agree that I need to not concern myself a lot with my husband's responses to my texts. I tell myself not to, because this is something _I_ have chosen to do as a commitment to the growth of our relationship, but sometimes I do take things personally anyway.

And I really appreciate seeing things as problem-solving vs. confrontation. That makes it sound much easier. I have read ADHD Effect on Marriage -- I borrowed it from the library, and it was good enough that it is now on my Amazon wishlist. I will definitely keep an eye out for your new book in April.

Again, thanks!

I always just left too, and I

I always just left too, and I left this one when there was no change once the problems had a name. I would date someone for ten years before I re-married. 

I'm sorry things are up and

I'm sorry things are up and down like that, 20yrvet. It's now been a year since my H has been formally diagnosed with his issues, and things are totally unchanged around my place. I'm increasingly frustrated that he won't make the effort to improve. I mean, we all have things going in in our brains or histories that are challenges, but part of being an adult is learning how to address those issues. And my H, at least, won't even try to seek out techniques for compensating for his problems.

I'm frustrated too because I came home from work on Wednesday and my girls, 5 and 8, were home alone. H was supposed to be there, but one of the dogs had run off, and he was out looking for him. I know there are no hard and fast rules for leaving kids home alone for 15 minutes, but our 5 year old especially is not the kind of kid you want to leave alone. And it's too much responsibility for the 8 year old to have to watch her. On top of that, my dad was home right next door, and he would have gladly had the girls at his place or come over.

So, more of the same here. Thinking of getting childcare for the girls on days when I'll be home late instead of leaving them with H. That's what us single moms have to do, right?

So glad I found this post

I'm so glad I found this post and website.  My husband was diagnosed w/ ADD (inattentive type) in the Spring.  While it has helped to know why some of the behaviors happen, it doesn't stop the behaviors.  he does take Aderall and sees his Dr regularly.  He does not follow through with therapy.  When he does he does not work on his anger issues, which is the main reason for the therapy.  I have felt for a very long time that I can't rely on him for anything.  He does not see it.  he forgets everything, doesn't listen to me, I have to repeat everything I say 3 times and he still doesn't remember-this is everyday conversation type stuff not even take out the trash type stuff.  I've stopped talking to him unless I have to, I just don't see the point.  I can't rely on him to follow through with anything, unless it is something he is interested in.  We have two kids and they are starting to see that they can't rely on him either.  As bad as it is for me, what does that do to a child to know he/she cannot rely on their dad?  I'd leave him but like others I do feel I took those vows, plus we can't afford it.  And he is such a bad parent that it would be so devastating for the kids to be with him only for 2 or 3 days a week or whatever the custody would be.  Sometimes I wish I could find a way to divorce him where he would never see the kids again but that won't happen and that would hurt the kids too.  He is so charming and funny in public, no one sees his anger, no one understands that when I say I can't rely on him or that he forgets everything that I really mean that.    I feel very alone and this is not the marriage or father I wanted for my children.  Everything I have read involves the ADHD spouse recongizing the effect of their behavior on others.  That is the key to all my problems.  He does not recognize that he is hurting us.  I tell him how we feel when he yells at us, he thinks he isn't yelling so it's not a problem.  I tell him we feel like we are not important to him, he says that's not true so it's not true.  I really feel he will never change, the meds don't seem to be helping although he thinks they are.  But without therapy nothing will get worked on, the meds won't magically change this behavior.  I am going to look into counseling for myself just to deal with the stress of this.

This: I have felt for a very

This: I have felt for a very long time that I can't rely on him for anything.  He does not see it.  he forgets everything, doesn't listen to me, I have to repeat everything I say 3 times and he still doesn't remember-this is everyday conversation type stuff not even take out the trash type stuff.  I've stopped talking to him unless I have to, I just don't see the point.  I can't rely on him to follow through with anything, unless it is something he is interested in.

And this: He is so charming and funny in public, no one sees his anger, no one understands that when I say I can't rely on him or that he forgets everything that I really mean that.    I feel very alone and this is not the marriage or father I wanted for my children.  Everything I have read involves the ADHD spouse recognizing the effect of their behavior on others.  That is the key to all my problems.  He does not recognize that he is hurting us.  I tell him how we feel when he yells at us, he thinks he isn't yelling so it's not a problem.  I tell him we feel like we are not important to him, he says that's not true so it's not true.

I live this:/

Staying together for the sake of/because of the kids

One of the reasons I had on my list for staying with my unreliable husband is that when the kids were young, I was not comfortable with them being with him alone even for weekends.  Another reason was that I didn't want to have sole responsibility for the kids's and a home's finances.  How could I afford to work, provide a home, drive a car and pay a sitter?  I am in awe of women who have done/are doing this with kids.  

Foreword your life 30 years from now staying in your current situation.  You might think, that when the kids are older you will leave then or that things will be better later - just trying to get through each day for now is all you can handle. 

Now, after being married for 40 years, I am not proud of my compromises, strength, patience and sacrifices.   No.  I am ashamed of my weakness, compromises, sacrifices. Here is why:  My children did not see a model of strength in the face of difficulty...they saw dh getting his way and me being a tired workhorse.  They saw how hilarity and denial and letting others take responsibility is more fun, easier and works if you can find a partner to resentfully do the work and take responsibility.  They did not see ALL the work I did or know the workings of our finances where he worked an played and I worked and then worked some more.  I yearn to tell my children how to stand up for themselves and have pride and vision and strength. I don't think they respect me after all my compromising, work and frustration. After all, I am unappreciated and tired - a failure in my marriage trying to keep up energy and purpose.  I was someone who wanted to be "loving", not a diva.  There should be a school on how to manage not just a house but a lackadaisical spouse/partner.  How to kick an uncommitted spouse to the curb and be able to survive.   BUT...here is the thing.  When there are children, the one who loves most is the giver. The one who has fun and won't communicate while denying facts is the one who is the physically healthiest...no worries - someone else will take care of things.  Living by the seat of his pants seems to work better for him than "executive planning".  But if I do some executive planning for us, he resents me and rebels and sabotages.

After 40 years, my Adder does not remember or appreciate the facts as they were.  He has fabricated a past in his mind that he can deal with.  That he gave and gave and I was not appreciative.  Let your children see your strength not in how much you can compromise and sacrifice.  Let them hear your words of clarity and strength

I started to make a list of exactly how I would do this.  But, I realised that it sounded like nagging words no matter how I phrased it.  Trying to get someone to do their responsibilities.

You can't change another person to your liking.  Trying to do so is being a manipulator too.  My only advice is to find all the outside support you can and don't rely on someone who is unreliable.  Find and spend more time with family, friends, support groups etc, to take the place of where your spouse is not able to give you the care and support you NEED.  And people DO NEED this.  Without it, trying to get it from someone unable is to be sick.

Relying on reliable people is more sane than trying to change someone.  Maybe, if your support/family/friends groups is big/strong enough, you will find the strength to let the sleeping dog lie in his own chaos that he has found ways to cope with but you have not.


For jennalemon

I really appreciate your writing about looking back at the sacrifices you made and your regrets about making them.  I hope that as you reflect on this you will also forgive yourself for making these choices...you did what you thought was the best at the time.  As for what your children see or don't see, as they are adults you should be able to talk with them about some of what you have learned - without specifically demonizing their father (which would backfire, most likely, in a number of ways) you can still communicate to them (individually) that you have learned more about co-dependency and how you did not provide as healthy an environment for them or for you as you wish you had.  You still have time to provide a strong example for them (what that example is, exactly, is up to you...for me it would be communicating what you have learned...)  You can still reach out, still make your life what you want it to be, still encourage your partner to be more independent of you, etc.

Your behavior, as you can now see, enabled your husband to underfunction in your relationship.  That doesn't mean that he must continue to do so.  I would ask you to consider learning more about overfunctioning/underfunctioning and about co-dependence.  Two good resources for this are Codependent No More by Melodie Beatty and The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner.  And think about yourself - who do you want to be?  What do you love about yourself?  How can you be that person to the fullest?

In a way, you gave your husband a gift for many years - you took care of him and allowed him to not have to face up to his lack of responsibility in the home and with the family.  Unfortunately, as with any gift we give, we a never guaranteed that the receiver will appreciate its worth, nor its giving.  I'm sorry that your husband has not recognized your sacrifice more overtly...please learn from this and start to focus on yourself more now.

Over Function and Under Function

Over Function and Under Function.  I did some searching and learning about this.  The way to NOT over function in a relationship with someone like my dh is to "let the chips fall where they may" and let the negative consequences of his inattention and inaction happen.  That means the I have to also bear the negative consequences with him since we are married to each other.  I am "Mrs. Him".  So if the bills are not paid, or we are late and unprepared, or the kids aren't disciplined/parented, or he drinks too much ...  I get share in his negative consequences by association with him because these are the things that happened if I had not taken over.  He seems to have no guilt or shame.  I have standards that I have lowered since I have been with him, but how much of myself do I have to give up to be with him - to be a family?

I enabled him.   I thought that was what love was. (I still do believe that is the core of a relationship - CARING and ATTENTION to the well-being of someone or something)  When you care about someone, you give of yourself so they may be better - so that the marriage and the family may be better. He has not much to give....he just gets by, by the seat of his pants, just to survive (himself singularly) and tells lies to himself so he can feel good about himself. He tells lies to himself so much that reality has become blurred and he lives in a land of his own lies.

I was/am codependent.  I stayed, and tried everything I knew how.  I am letting the chips fall where they may now.  He is very independent and secretive...not communicative or sharing - in isolation other than alcohol and nicotine and PBS and crossword puzzles. We live separate lives since I have stopped trying to get him to share himself with me, since I have stopped trying to "nurture" our relationship.  His inattention is total.  I thought after a couple weeks of my "stopping trying", he would approach me, not being able to tolerate total isolation in the same house.  But I was wrong.  It has been 2 months.  He has not made a single attempt to connect with me other than asking for information I might know about the grandchildren.

He was a traveling salesman who didn't wear a wedding ring. I don't know what he does or where he goes during the day.  He is never home. There is no other office. He says he is making "calls" but he does not make a living wage.  He survives by his "personality" and lies.  Yeah, I have been stupid trying to be loving. I write so young couples might see and relate and have a picture of what might happen to them if they have patience and forgiveness and try too hard for too long.  40 years is a long time to be ignored by the person you are trying to love by the person who was supposed to be your "other half" - it changes you to the core.


Thank you for sharing

I want to thank you so much for sharing your experience so openly. I've oftened imagined my husband and myself in 20-30 years when the kids are gone from the house.  We would probably be the same, living separate lives and only communicating when necessary.  But of course, we are like that now.  I worry a lot about how this will affect my kids.  They don't really care for him now, so I try to tell him that they will want nothing to do with him when they are older but he doesn't believe me.  Even though his sister and their dad did not have a good relationship, and didn't talk for 6 months. 

I've been reading too about setting boundaries and having the spouse suffer natural consequences for their actions, but how do you do that? Like you said, it still affects you and somethings you just can't let the chips fall where they may.  You don't want to get financially ruined so your spouse can learn responsibility.  We do end up looking like the mean one and our spouses look like the fun one.  I feel others probably see me as being very hard on my husband, and truthfully in some areas I am, but in other areas they just don't know what it's like to live with someone that can't remember anything, doesn't follow through with anything, tells lies to make himself look good or look like he knows what he's talking about, and has a terrible anger problem.  All that is kept inside our house.  No one notices the lieing because they aren't around long enough to figure out that what he said isn't what happened.  It took me 2 years to figure out that he wasn't always telling the truth when he talked about something that happened.  I know he can pay the bills, clean about after himself, and empty the garbage because he did all this when he lived alone before when we were dating.  He always took care of his house, when something needed fixed he did it right away and did it the right way.  Now, I have to give him a time limit and tell him to fix it or I'm calling a professional (and the money for that is coming out of his cigarette money).

I can go on forever.  But thank you so much for your posts and your insight.

he can change...

Those with ADHD can change - but they have to internalize that they need to do it.  Since you are considered a biased party in these conversations, would you consider signing up for my couples' course?  It's 8 weeks, and by the end of the 8 weeks most couples have a much better understanding of how important ADHD is in their relationship - and what to do about it.  Many ADHD folks who are resistant to considering the impact of ADHD start doing so, and many non-ADHD partners who are resistant to considering the negative impact to 'taking charge' also start changing that, too (I talk about the issues that both spouses contribute, not just the issues of the ADHD partner.)

Let someone else (me) do the dirty work for you...information about the course is here - I strongly recommend the live version when one is available.

Thanks, and my shared sympathies

I can see why you'd consider getting childcare for your girls for times you'll be coming home late. So sorry you had to deal with that! And I completely get wishing one's spouse would look at ways to compensate for the problems caused by ADHD. I think pickles in her comment above has it right -- it would be very helpful if the ADHD spouse would acknowledge that the ADHD causes problems for us. I think my husband has tended to look at it as a problem for his worklife, but he doesn't address the problems it causes in our marriage.

That said, I have to share the end to my story, which is a mixture of a happy ending and a head shaking moment and a need for both me and my husband to grow.

After I posted, I fixed dinner. When my husband sat down with me at the table, he asked, "Should we wait for [our daughter] before we start?" I was a bit taken aback. We had discussed her sleepover two nights before when I had asked him to pick her up. Before I had posted, we had briefly talked about when to see The Hobbit as a family, and I said, "If we go to the 4 p.m. show, you could pick our daughter up before then and then she could do her homework after the movie." On top of that, to me it was obvious that she wasn't at home, though I guess I can see, since she is a teen who spends lots of time in her room, how he might not notice her absence. Anyhow, apparently he had forgotten about the sleepover (shouldn't have surprised me) and somehow failed to register that she was somewhere else and not at home. At that point he said, "I'm sorry. I would have taken you out to dinner," and I acknowledged that I had delayed starting dinner because I'd sort of expected something along those lines. He did say something to the effect of "this darned ADHD of mine," which is the closest he's come to acknowledging that it causes problems for our marriage, and we did have an at-home date after dinner.

So, yes, I should have said something and then I wouldn't have had my pity party. On the other hand, I still feel that part of the problem is that I feel like way too much rides on my shoulders. If I had said something, I would have spared myself some pain on one level, but on the other hand, I still want not to have to be the responsible party time and time again. When I sit back, like I did last night, it isn't a good thing for either of us. But I want to feel like I can let go of things and not have things go wrong for my letting go. I want to be taken care of as well as being a care-taker. I know I did not contribute to the health of our marriage with my refusal to act last night, and I'm glad that things ended up okay anyway. What I wish I knew was how to get to a place where I feel like our marriage is more equal, that I am not the main person who has to make sure it "works."

you are living my life

Wow, you just described my life with my ADD husband in a nutshell.  I also suffer from depression for which I'm being treated, and for which I believe the stress in our relationship is partly to blame.  It has gotten so bad, the negative cycle of him dropping the ball on something or being irresponsible or undependable and me reacting with critisism and anger/despair. W don't have any children, but he has a teenage son from a previous relationship that only adds tension to our already strained relationship. When his son is over it's like I have two kids in the house to feed and clean up after, and have to be a mother to them without the joy of being an actual mother.   Now, he has dropped the bomb on me that he wants to separate because nothing he can do makes me happy, and that he shouldn't have to try so hard in our relationship, "it should be easier than that" he says. He absolutely refuses to do marriage counselling and just wants to call it quits.  We will be married for 5 years in April, together for almost 9, and we just bought a house together exactly 1 year ago. Despite the problems in our marriage I still love him very much, and I'm devastated that he wants to walk away, and it hurts that he blames my depression for me never being happy, and really has no awareness of his contribution to our problems.  Good luck with your husband.  Let me know if you two work it out.


Just checking in...

Hello everyone. Things here are pretty much the same as always. I got a $700 tax bill a few weeks ago because when H opened my IRA for me, he didn't actually open an IRA. So I claimed $5,000 went into that, when it turned out it was just in a regular account. On top of that, he told me he'd stuck it into a mutual fund, but he didn't. And worst of all, he opened this account 3 years ago, and I've claimed the deduction for 3 years. I'm afraid there are more back taxes due, next time with a fine. Including the interest I didn't make, this could end up costing over $10,000. Anyone else's H cost them a lot of money?

Also last month, I got home from work and my 5 and 8 year old daughters were home alone. One of the dogs had taken off, and H had left them to go look for him. I disagree that they should be left home alone, and I tried to tell him that later, but he just made a bunch of excuses. H works from home and I get home between 3 and 4, so sometimes it's just him and the kids. Now I'm not sure if I should put them in an afterschool program, or if at 5 and 8 they're ok to be alone with him. Ugh.

Hi, polkadots.  I'm sorry to

Hi, polkadots.  I'm sorry to hear about the IRA fiasco.  That would make me really angry!  I don't think my husband would make that exact mistake, but for someone who prides himself on his great intelligence and his knowledge of economics and the stock market and such, he's not a good money manager.  He doesn't regularly deposit income (he is paid in cash by his father for providing caregiving services); he doesn't pay bills on time; and he would cheat on our taxes, if given the opportunity (I don't give him the opportunity; I fill out the forms now).


Sorry that this (and most of my posts) are long...

This situation is just so tough, and when there is no foreseeable end in sight, it can be hard to keep going. I definitely got to the point where I couldn't take it any more. Left my spouse after 12 years last year. We had some serious issues, one of which was his untreated and unaddressed ADHD. He admitted he had it and took lots of meds for it for years to focus at work, but would never consider therapy or work to change any of his behavior at home. Also, his serious, emotionally abusive anger management issues grew and it got really, really stressful. I started to fall apart and have all sorts of health issues. And it just wasn't working--my kids needed me. 

Unfortunately, I think many spouses with ADHD get along pretty well in the world on their own when they are young adults and it's tough to anticipate what family life will do to the chemistry. Mine seemed pretty great when I met him, functioning well on pure charisma and a limited work and commitment schedule. I also found out later that his family had been helping him out financially well into his late 20's. He and I did ok our first two years or so together (hyper focus is a heady thing), and we were long distance for part of it. Also, I admit now, that I didn't really listen to my gut when we got married. There were already some compatibility issues there, but we loved each other and his charm and commitment to me made up for it. I always believed that love could conquer everything. I was young and had a lot of energy and starry eyes. 

Fast forward about 7 year later. Two children, me pretty much doing everything while working full time and suddenly the bottom drops out when I realize that I cannot depend on him at all and I am utterly alone. We live far away from family or much support. There were long months where he would play with the kids in the evening, and go to work, but that was about it. His job allowed him a flexible schedule and he worked three days a week. He started sleeping until well after noon on the weekends (bad insomnia) and didn't shovel a walk, make a meal, shop for groceries, walk the (his!) dog, wash a dish, talk to a teacher, pay a bill, wipe a counter top, buy a gift or plan anything,...or say anything nice to me for a few years...he would forget things, and be late for absolutely everything, driving 90 miles an hour to get to work in 8 minutes, and then brag about it...you get the drill. He also had a crazy anxiety control freak thing going on--for example, he would never, ever plan a budget or buy food but would criticize me if I spent extra money on pre-chopped broccoli instead of buying the cheaper bulk kind (which hurt terribly). I think he was worried about money but he had that ADHD no filter thing going on and would say it in the worst, bluntest way. If I had known more about ADHD at the time, I wouldn't have felt quite so resentful and just flat out furious at his dropping out like this. I would have understood that part of it was that the added responsibilities of house, little kids, job, etc. had overwhelmed him and the stress made his coping ability disappear. I would have realized that he literally could not sleep and that attending to all this stuff was almost insurmountable for him. That he actually was having a pretty hard time functioning at life and some of it wasn't laziness or a choice. 

Of course, that didn't make it any easier, me being left to fend for myself and keep everything going and take care of his messes as well. His denial was pretty incredible--it wasn't his ADHD, it was that I was just an unhappy person (that can do a number on you if you let yourself believe it). Mine dug in his heels and gas-lighted me, and became more bitter and angry with every attempt I made to get him to "see." I would advise anyone going through this to accept the fact that your spouse is going to be like this, and you cannot make him or her change--he or she has to do it and internalize it. Some describe the spouse hitting "rock bottom" in whatever form that takes, be it losing a marriage, jobs, friends, family, or worse. In the meantime, do what you have to do to help yourself. Take over the money. Hire a teenager to help with your kids--after getting super mad at him not getting up on the weekends, I realized that nothing I did was going to pry him from bed at 6 a.m. I hired a college student to come over and help on Saturday mornings, which kept me from going nuts. Only you can decide how long you can give the person to make some changes. I gave mine five years and he only got worse, insisting to this day that our problems weren't from ADHD. He still won't see a doctor about it. I knew the exact moment that I had had enough. 

Now he lives alone in total squalor in our old house that he destroyed in a botched "rehab" attempt and lives on disability (physical issues I think stemming from stress from the fallout of his ADHD). He does pretty well when he has the kids, but I have to call him and set everything up every single time, packing them clothes like it is a sleepover (forget the separation agreement, he contributes what he can when he can and that's how it goes. Fortunately the kids are pretty resilient.) I am not an advocate for easy divorce, ever, but for those out there who worry about leaving because they can't trust their ex's with the kids--after a lot of bluster about joint custody and 50/50 visitation, mine has ours maybe 1 -2 days per week, and that's all he does or can handle. Time with him is "fun," movies and outings and games, and time with me is more homework, school, practice, and structure, but funny that the kids still prefer to be with me most of the time. I know that they are happier and better off. Whatever you do, don't live in misery, furious that things won't change. Accept what you can't change, and deal with the rest. My best to everyone. I wouldn't trade my kids for anything, but if I knew then what I know now...

Thank you all

Finally people I can relate to - thank you all for sincere comments and sharing your frustrations.  When I read Melissa's book I was amazed at how exactly she described what I am going through.  My situation: late 30s, married over 10 years, 2 young children.  My DH is really a loyal, wonderful guy who has been with me through so much and loved me despite all my own imperfections.  I know he loves me and tries to make things better.  He is medicated but has not tried therapy/coaching.  I didn't notice his ADHD (inattentive) early on, but after awhile I noticed he never remembered anything and just seemed to process information differently.  I told him he needed to get checked out and that's when he was diagnosed.  Pretty much since we had kids, the enormous responsibility has been too much for him.  He has the best intentions, but he just never remembers, cannot prioritize, doesn't understand what's going on, doesn't pay attention to me (except when he wants to wake me up for sex knowing that I am a light sleeper and cannot go back to sleep once awake), we either argue or speak another language to each other.  We both work full time, but I do pretty much everything around the house, including taking care of the kids, except cook - he is hyperfocused on cooking.  Most people would say - how lucky!  Until they understood that's ALL he does...it takes hours...every night.  He is an attractive guy that takes care of himself, but I am absolutely not attracted to him at this point.  I really don't even want to talk to him most of the time.  I tend to attach to male friends - I just love male company!  Probably because I don't get it at home.  Of course now I am completely smitten with one (who is unavailable anyway) and it makes it harder to want to stick with it.  We are essentially housemates at this point.  I am so lonely...and I know he doesn't want me to be, but I fear it's too late.  I am now also taking medication for depression (like so many others here).  Sorry for the unorganized rambling...just felt liked I needed to vent.  Some of you have stuck it out for decades...I don't want to stick it out!  I want to be in love and supported!  It doesn't seem natural to be anchored to so much work.  How do you know when you're trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and enough is enough?

Don't worry about long posts

Goodness knows I post huge essays all the time. Honestly, if you are like me, there are few people to talk to about this. I have never been able to find a support group for people who have an ADHD spouse (except for one group that meets during the day on a weekday -- what's up with that? Don't most of us have to work to hep support or totally support our families?). For reasons I don't want to get into, I don't feel comfortable talking about the issues I have to deal with with my own family (though they do know that my husband has ADHD and that affects our family). I have a few close friends I can talk with, but most of them tend to be very busy people at this stage of their lives, and I don't want to spend too much of our relationship whining about my marriage difficulties. I can't just post about this on FB -- it's not something that needs to be blasted publicly with my name on it for lots of people to see. That leaves this place as someplace to go when I am ready to tear my hair out. So, I get long posts. :)

On top of that, your story is actually helpful to the rest of us, so that's another reason not to feel bad about long posts.

I'm certainly not one to blame you for leaving your husband. While things are looking up for my marriage right now, I know my husband is actually easier to deal with than many spouses I've read about on these boards, and even given that I've come mighty close to calling it off. It's hard, and when the spouse will take no responsibility, it is often impossible to make things work.

One question I asked myself when I had my big fight nearly a year ago with my husband was "Would I really be better off without him?" In my case, the answer was no. It sounds like things are better for you. Am I reading that right?

Hanging on to Hope

Your post is something I think about all the time, I feel single. My husband is a nice man, loyal, affectionate, funny, attractive. BUT, he is unable to maintain work, forgets to do almost everything he agrees to and gets mad at me when I remind him to do things that will impact myself or out two kids. I have stopped berating him, encouraged things that work, helped him to build routines, supported "free" time so he could exercise and get enough sleep (he reports needing ten hours a night to sleep), used strategies with him that theoretically help manage ADD. Over and over again I am left doing everything, for similar reasons - he just forgets or can not manage to follow through if he remembers and refuses to ask for help. 

I feel super alone and sad. No idea what to do. I already do all the housework, finances, childcare, social management etc. My husband is employed now but has received his final warning  - if this is anything like his other jobs it is just a matter of time till he gets fired again. I have stopped relying on him in every way but like someone asked before what kind of marriage is that? 

He takes meds, goes to therapy, takes copious notes (ha!), and then never activates anything that sticks. I am exhausted and ready for a change. What would the change look like? Do I get divorced? Will this help me feel better? 


This sounds sooo familiar, but he is just starting out treatment and he has held his job for several years now (which he had not done previously). How long has he been taking meds and going to therapy? I ask because despite my hopes, I can see this pattern happening with us too, and I wouldn't be willing to live with little or no progress. 

Hanging on to hope

He actually just started taking meds and going to therapy. Ironically, my husband has been telling me for about a year he thinks he has ADD. We went to couples counseling and after a few weeks the therapist asked if my husband had ADD. I finally agreed to read some literature about ADD, up to that point I just thought it was another excuse on the part of my husband. So, after a lifetime of struggling he just got diagnosed in his mid 40's and started meds and therapy shortly thereafter - he initiated both of those things. In the end though, this is his third or fourth therapist since we have been married, he is always told no-one can make the changes for him and he has to do it himself - which he really struggles with doing. 

In my heart I am not clear on what to do. Right now I stay in my marriage because we made this commitment to one another and our family. I feel like leaving because we have hit hard times makes no sense. On the other hand I sincerely want to believe there will be improvement. Things were better before my husband took the promotion at work (this is always his path to getting fired, he takes jobs that are good for him and he can maintain and because he is smart and likeable he gets offered a promotion and then he can not keep up, forgets very important things and looks like he is spaced out so much of the time because of stress - this all leads to job loss for him). Before the promotion he was not working as many and as erratic hours, we maintained a schedule where he did all the food prep and cooking, the trash and recycling, the vacuuming, and he woke with our older son and got him up and ready every morning (I nurse our younger son so I still woke with him and got him ready). Since this new position we hardly ever see him and he hardly has time to do any of the things he was doing. He is working to get the other position back and step down and I think this week he finally got permission to do so and we just have to work out the details. I do think if he goes back to a position he can do without that added stress and he is around more to help out things will feel better - but is it just a matter of time until that balance slips again? Because of this question I feel obliged to keep trying to work together and figure this out...but I do not know if this is just my inability to see the larger patterns and accept the truth or if there is really truth in having hope. Time will tell - right?

MaineMama, what you describe

MaineMama, what you describe is so similar (though my husband doesn't seem to have problems at work)!  I laughed when I read all the things you do to support him especially his free time to exercise!  I basically take both kids everywhere so that he will have free time to exercise or get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour (since it takes him 2-3 hours to make a meal that the recipe says should take 45 mins).  My husband has been really trying lately because we finally has some good honest talks about our relationship.  Although he recognizes the problems he has, he basically says I'm the one that can't tolerate it and so he'll try to meet my standards.  I'm not sure that attitude is going to help us get through this, but at least it's got him trying.  I've been telling him for yeeears things needed to change and he basically ignored me (one time told me I was being dramatic).  Now I wonder if it's too late.  I fantasize about being a single parent but I'm not sure how great that would actually be not mention I don't think I can afford to live on my own.  I feel like money and afraid to be alone are not good reasons to stay in a relationship.  Staying for the kids is certainly a better reason.  I'm just so tired of living a lie.  How did I get here??

I do everything in the

I do everything in the mornings. I get dinner going in the crock pot, breakfast for me and the girls, lunches for us, everyone dressed and out the door. H lets the dogs out. He works from home, so no schedule, no need to be anywhere at any time. Now that it's cold, I ask him to please scrape off my windshield while he's out with the dogs. I remind him every day, of course, or it doesn't get done.

Ok so this morning, I glance out the window 30 seconds before we're out the door, and my windshield is frosted over. Just a huge wave of disappointment, I'm sure you all know exactly the feeling. Not just disappointment, but way out of line to what's happened crushing disappointment. And I said, "I thought you were going to scrape the ice off of the windshield for me?" And he said, "Well that's on the inside."

Do you know those moments, where you just feel like, yes, this is my life. This is really how I live. And it's just so overwhelmingly depressing. And now I"m going to be late to work because I have to de-ice the car from the inside, but if he'd just started it 10 minutes before, it'd be warm, clear, and ready for me.

Ugh, just feeling so hopeless today. Need hugs. :-(

Hugs to you!

I wish I could send you some sort of rescuer -- a dinner fairy or something like that! :) Yes, I do know the crushing disappointment of "why can't I count on you?" I'm sorry I can't do more than sympathize and wish for a magic wand that could make things better.

Hi Polkadots, so sorry to

Hi Polkadots, so sorry to read about your crushing disappointment...I constantly experience the same and it SUCKS!  It's funny, I think if someone were to read your post out of context they might think, what is the big deal?  When I occasionally vent to people that don't know what life is like with ADD I think they think I'm being a jerk.  They just have no idea how it consumes your life!  I also have no advice to give because I'm trying to figure out what to do next!

I know, it's hard to explain

I know, it's hard to explain to people how these little things add up if they haven't lived it. I live next door to my mom, and when we first moved here, her response to my complaints was to look on the bright side, not make too big a deal out of it, etc. Now that she's seen how my life is day in and day out, she tells me to try to hang on until the kids are big.

Totally get it, unfortunately.

Argh, I wish I did not understand your disappointment but I do. This is something I have tried to articulate before - little things add up and become one big pervasive problem. My husband and I often have that exchange, he wants me to give him credit for little things he does randomly that may or may not be associated with what the family or I need but he feels "beat up" if I express concern over the millionth time he has forgotten something/most everything that relates to us.  I try, he tries.....not easy. 

Reading through all of these

Reading through all of these posts I can relate with so much but I also realize that I need to appreciate my husband in some ways that I probably don't. 

On the negative side (this is what I constantly nag about and get so depressed about) he can be irresponsible, forgetful and in our 7 year marriage he hasn't had a reliable income.  I have lived under constant stress having to provide for us (and for a year and a half his son from his previous marriage) as well as do 90% of the work around the house.  It gets so tiring and I find myself longing for a "normal" marriage where I can depend on my spouse and not have to feel like I have to supervise everything all the time.

But then there is the positive side (which I admit I don't recognize very often due to the anger and frustration being caused by the negative side) and I felt I just needed to put it in writing so I could see that my husband does have some very good qualities.  He is not the inattentive type so I feel fortunate when I'm reading what so many others have to deal with.  My husband is always trying to do things for me (actually too much) and he is very thoughtful when it comes to certain things.  The problem is the things that matter to me the most are not the things he does for me so I don't appreciate his attempts as much as I should.  He does things I'd prefer to do for myself and then doesn't do the things I really need help with.  Another positive is he is very affectionate and sexually driven.  Unfortunately my anger and resentment has caused me to not want to have an intimate relationship with him anymore.  Of course this has also caused problems in our marriage because he feels I'm not doing my "wifely duty" yet I don't feel he is meeting my needs so why should I have to meet his.  I guess it's a vicious circle and I should just be grateful that my husband still shows interest in me and wants to be with me instead of ignoring me and never wanting any physical touch.

So what I'm getting at is there are some areas where i need to do better and try to appreciate him in the areas where he is trying and to see myself as fortunate because I'm sure there are many of you who would love to have a husband who paid attention to you and wanted physical relations on a regular basis.  I guess we all want what we don't have.  I see posts where the husband is a good provider and I think I would trade that in a heartbeat for the affection and sex.  I'm so worn down from trying to make ends meet that I don't have the energy for the physical relations anyway!  But then if they were taken away from me would I feel the same way? 

There are days I don't see any good in my husband but there are days I think I need to be more appreciative.  I'm trying to make today an appreciative one. 

My heart goes out to all of you who are having difficulties!

Not even sure if it is ADHD

I googled what I'm going through and got onto this forum. My husband has not been diagnosed with ADHD, but I've had an idea that it might be a fact. My son has been diagnosed with sever ADHD and takes Concerta.

My husband (not the father of my son) is a fantastic person, but he can never be wrong. It is as though it makes him feel less in charge. It makes me feel so out of place and not knowing what to do. He would also start several projects and it's left half done all over the house and yard. He would also make promises, but never remembers to keep them. And loves dishing out punishment towards my son like 'you'll never watch TV again' or 'I'll never play cricket with you again' ... things both my son and I know by know that would not last forever.

The latest project is he bought a yacht. He expects all of us to be equally excited about doing the sailing thing every weekend and for every spare (and not so spare) dime to go towards this.

He is extremely clever and can do any work with machines, but seriously lack in knowing how to deal with people.

I love him too much to consider leaving him, but I sometimes feel he'll be better off without me and that I'm just a handbrake in his world.

He is a very good stepfather and loves teaching my son things, but would give up if my son doesn't grasp by at least the second try ... and then this no second chance.

Please help me understand what I'm going through and how to make a success of my marriage.

Yacht Widow

Is there any way you can get your husband to agree to go in for testing for ADHD? I convinced my husband to get tested when his job was on the line due to memory issues he had. I showed him a couple of web pages on ADHD which outlined symptoms similar to his behavior, so he agreed to see if he had it. That would really help. It has helped me understand my husband, though it doesn't always make things easy to deal with. The one problem is that now I see people with similar behaviors and start wondering if that person has ADHD, and I'm sure they don't always have it. Husband's uncle buys lots of expensive toys and then tires of them? Must be ADHD! But maybe not. Maybe he just has a spending problem. Good friend forgets my birthday and doesn't get around to returning my phone calls until several days later? Must be ADHD! But maybe not. That may just be the way she is. So, I read your description of your husband's behavior and I think, "That could be ADHD!" But it might not be. So do try to encourage him to get tested.

The other benefit to him being tested is that he will (hopefully) get on medication. Not everyone is willing to do this; my husband is. This should really be coupled with counseling, which my husband will NOT do, much to my disappointment. I think it would be helpful (1) for him to get someone to coach him through behaviors that will help him manage how his ADHD affects his life and affects others, because the medication helps him concentrate, but it doesn't magically make everything better, and (2) for us to get counseling together, because I have been seriously hurt by his behavior over the years (and it continues to hurt me), and I have reacted in very angry, unhelpful ways. 

If he won't get testing and help, you are going to have to do your best by yourself, which is hard. There's a reason the divorce rate in ADHD marriages is so high. I highly recommend you read Melissa Orlov's book "The ADHD Effect on Marriage." That is very helpful in understanding the dynamics of such a marriage and in helping you see what you can do from your end to try to improve things. I also recommend you start looking out for yourself. When you have to clean up after another adult and act as their brain (because they lack executive functioning skills), often while holding down a full-time job and taking on the lion's share of household responsibilities, it can be hard to see how you can take care of yourself, but it really is critical that you learn how to do this. Let a lot go. I tell myself that I will only do one household chore a day outside of preparing dinner and cleaning up after myself. So if I make dinner, clean the kitchen after dinner and do one load of laundry, that's it for housework for that day, even if the floor needs to be vacuumed. Take care of yourself physically (adequate sleep, eating well, getting exercise). Pursue a dream (mine is a writing project). Make sure you are spending time with supportive friends. Invest in your appearance for your own sake. When you do things like housework, do them for YOU, so that you don't feel resentful. I hate living in a pigsty, so when I clean, I'm doing it as a gift to myself. Also, somewhere on one of these boards, someone recommended starting a secret stash of things that disappear -- a genius idea! I routinely find that things like scissors, packing tape, rulers and sharpies go missing, so I've been buying those things for myself and hiding them. (As it turns out, I can't blame all this on my husband -- my daughter, who does NOT have ADHD, has 'fessed up to sometimes using things and not putting them away. So I have TWO very disorganized people working against me.) My husband has been throwing his muddy boots on the floor of our closet lately (a nice hardwood floor). So, if he isn't piling them in front of the door, he's ruining the floor. I've given up trying to tell him to remember things like wiping his shoes off, and I get sick of picking up his boots and wiping them and the floor off, so I plan to buy a mat and put that where he throws his boots. Again, this is for me.

Finally, I recommend investing not just in yourself but also in your marriage. Have fun together. Do things for your husband because you love him, even if he isn't doing things for you. I've found that as I soften and act loving toward my husband, he has gradually returned the affection. He still drives me batty in several areas, but I can see improvements in our marriage. Also, I don't know anything about your beliefs, so you may or may not want to take this advice, but I pray a LOT over my marriage, and I truly believe that has helped.

I'm hardly perfect at all this (especially the physical self-care, though I keep trying), and I certainly won't say I don't get fed up and just want to leave, but slowly, very slowly, things have been improving.

I wish you the best, and please post anytime you need vent or update us on where things are.

I'm thanking you from deep

I'm thanking you from deep down in my heart for your reply and valuable suggestions.

I've given up on looking after myself and partially on keeping the house clean, but your suggestion in "doing it for myself" has given me hope to try again.  I'm a Christian and this is something I pray about a lot.

I'll keep you updated.

r u talking about my husband

My husband is the same way. Its so fustrating. He gripes when he is off from work because he has nothing to do. When I think of things to keep him busy he might start off doing 1 but he gets distracted. Example I ask him to pick up his mess in the living room because he tracked in dusty dirt n his clothes were all over the place. He starts cleaning and realizes that he dont like how living room is rearranged. So he starts doing that instead. Then half way through when the room is all in a disarray he gets a fire call or a call from a friend or boss n takes off. I get a kiss n he says I will finish when I get back. The living room cant be used till its back in order so 3 hours later I finish it. He tells me he is doing dishes or laundry b4 he goes to bed. So I go to bed early and bam he forgets n I have no clothes. Or he talks me into going n doing some activity he wants and tells me just put off my cleaning till we get back and he will do it with me. Then it takes so long doing this that its late in the nught b4 we get home and then he gets a call from his fire chief telling him to go fix something at the station. He seems to have all the time in the world to help others just not me. He also has started taking on more and more things for himself outside the home like a christian biker club,fire officer classes, n his work hours will be picking up in like 3 weeks n I will only see him 1 day a week cuz of work and then that day will be spent mostly at fire department working On trucks since he decided to take a maintenance position. All in all he knows 9ur son has started having issues. Our son is severe ADHD and aspergers and avasive pervasive disorder. His teen hormones have started to fluctuate at age 10 but hes still regressing. Now he got homebound I have him 24/7. He is gone so much and home so little. He has a sex drive but he lasts at the most 2 min. He dont ever worry about my needs. Now he has started talking to me like I am a child cuz I constantly ask for help cuz I am stressed to the max n his spending problem dont help at all. He keeps his word to everyone but me. I told him it seems like he keeps his word to things he loves.

Me too

I thought I was alone...

Thank you for the forum and for the people who share their story!!!!


You perfectly described the

You perfectly described the problems I'm having in my marriage as well. My Husband and I don't have children and we have only been married for 2 1/2 years (together for 4 years) though. We are so close to divorce and I don't feel like I have any support at all either. I wish I knew what to tell you, but I still don't feel like I'm able to rely on or trust my Husband. I especially get scared when he is driving because he tends to speed. I thought medication was supposed to help though. Maybe your Husband needs to try a different medication if it isn't working properly? My Husband isn't on medication yet, but he is going to the doctor next week to get a prescription. If he won't get any therapy, then you should at least have therapy for yourself. Does your Husband believe that you're ready to leave him if he doesn't try to improve the way he treats you? Perhaps you need to tell him if not. I think it also could be beneficial for you to temporarily go away on your own to stay with a friend or family member if you can just to give you both the time apart. I intend to stay at my Mom's house this weekend cuz I recognize that I need time away from my Husband. Also, it may help if your Husband learns more about ADHD and how it affects your relationship. There are several books available on the subject.

This Sounds Like My Life

I registered with this site specifically because your post sounds so much like my life.  I worry constantly that my husband won't "have my back."  I'm so emotional about his behavior and lack of presence in our relationship (in any interpersonal relationship he has) right now that I won't leave a long comment.  Just know that you are not alone and that I feel like a single mother much of the time.  Thank you for sharing your situation.  I will need to do some research on ADHD to see if this is something my husband struggles with (though I've recently decided with my limited pop-psychology background that he might have narcissistic personality disorder).  Either way, it is frightening to go it alone within a marriage.

Thank you

It's always good to hear "You're not alone." I hope you find some answers to why things are the way they are with your husband and that things improve for you.

Hope this helps! Sorry it's long. But worth the read!

You know, I feel for you guys. I'm not married, but the majority of you are describing my parent's marriage. Have any of you looked into Asperger's Syndrome? I should add that one should extensively look into it, as to have a full understanding. My mother seems like you guys- tired of an unsupportive, unappreciating spouse. I can completely understand. I have three brothers. All of them have ADD/ADHD and so do I. My older brother, though, also has Asperger's. It is similar, but different in so many ways. It's hard on my mom to try and "deal" with my dad. She is a wonderful woman- knowledgeable, intelligent, kind, loving, and beautiful. It is even harder though, to see all that he puts her through. Especially as she does not deserve it. The space-mindedness, lack of remembering things "we" say, insistence on being right, several dozens projects unfinished (some from when I was a toddler), doing anything for someone else outside of our home, but not seeming to be able to do anything but serve himself once back in our domain. The incessant expenditures on things in which he never uses for those so very important projects and the complete lack of interest in the things his children do. ....unless he needs some attention (he seems to be quite the attention addict) in which he manipulates one of my brothers to spend time with him (usually through undue bribery of food or money (great lessons for children, eh?)). A great majority of his behavior I have noticed can be attributed to his parents. (So thanks you guys!! Great job!) They obviously had their own problems from their youthful marriage and my grandfather obviously has whatever on earth my father has. I only presumed it was Asperger's Syndrome as opposed to ADD because of the three other "subjects" in which I can compare him to. As well as my aunt (on my mother's side) and her two children (one girl and one boy) whom of which have somewhat recently decided to diagnose themselves (denial). And may I add- she is glad they did. They all are. My younger brother does not like going to school without out taking his medication. I was the last of my siblings to receive a diagnosis and take medication, especially on a regular basis. (I only took it on school days. Now its an every day thing.) I think its possible its less strong in females than males. That is what it seems to be in my long quest to comprehend this irritation to fully control my own mind. I noticed it in myself (the not being able to focus my thoughts (They would wander about like none other. Which is great for a curious and eager to learn mind. But I found it an abnormality and an irritation. It is my own mind. Should I not be able to control it??)) at a very young age. The not being able to sit still (as someone mentioned about sitting in at a concert or a game) part is difficult. I am restless. I want to constantly do something that intrigues me. Though I am not sure this part applies to all with ADD, for my family is one that stressed learning early in life (and by that I, of course, mean my mother). The intriguement must somewhat be an intellectual one. Anything that occupies the mind fully, I suppose. These things are not all the same for one with Asperger's Syndrome. My brother shows great skill with technology and is proficient at whatever currently seem interesting, then moves on to his next project- putting off school, family functions (other than ones that inquire a guilt that not showing up would bring upon him due to a disappointed aunt or uncle (mother's side) that he respected highly when we were children), anything that doesn't seem to attribute to his comfort of bed and pleasure of the internet and all the wonderful things it can entertain oneself with. (Truly entertaining the internet is.) (Sorry. Grew up with nerds and geeks for siblings. If you didn't understand the last sentence was a movie reference, then pay no attention. ;] ) He constantly needs "baby-ing" to do what he suppose to be doing in his classes and what not. His work he goes to, excels at, and got promoted quite easily for his skill is great indeed. (As opposed to my father whom of which has not seen the like of a promotion or a raise in years (not like his co-workers).) He is better in many ways than my father, only de to the great attention and constant work my mother has put into his life. As well as the affect my siblings and I have had on him. Not saying he is perfect....my younger brother and he have been at each others' throats many a time before... He may be four years older than my little brother, but..... he doesn't act like it. Only when it interests him or the 'praise?' (recognition for his work and proficiency in what he has done) he gets does he get around to doing his "duties". Though if I need anything tech related, he most certainly tries to attain whatever it is that I am looking for, especially when I happen to mention that my best friend's brother did something for his sister- he then must top that. Immediately. Otherwise, it might get done with occasional daily reminder. Or never. I appreciate his trying, but I have learned that when it comes to something big, his word is not one I can count on. Now I should add that he listens to me at times. My opinion means something to him. We kind of went through schooling together. We have met each other, learning wise, in many ways (like two siblings growing (One grows, then the other. One Always catching up or equal to some degree until they just pass you by. Like my little brother. :} )) throughout our childhood. Just as one tends to listen to their siblings when older as they begin to respect their opinion. My older brother and I have kind of always had that. It has been my entire life that I have looked out for him and the ways he acts around people. The ways he treats people. The ways he explains things to people (tech people are not always good at that). The ways he makes messes around the house- just for my mother to clean up. (I don't think so!) It has been my entire life. When he was diagnosed, we were not to tell anyone as to not have other people treat him as lesser. Which made it hard to explain his behavior at times (to friends and such that were just kind of put off by his actions or humor). But I understand why my mother did not want us to tell people. It amazes me to see people treat others as diseases when they do see people labeled (as whatever). And for that I feel a bit bad for my brother. But my brother is not -in any way- my father. Do they share characteristics? Sure. What father and son don't? But my brother has the ability to learn. My father is is insistent that he is right and so narrow minded, that he can' t possibly understand anyone else. And compromise? Ha! He actually, seriously, does not believe that a couple should do so. It might teach children a wrong message. He has gone to counseling throughout the past few years with my mother and alone. He was very opposed to the idea. That my mother was "accusing him of such" to have something wrong with him. Though he does love to complain about his many other health issues. They have gone to many christian counselors (they both share the same faith by the way) that he has chosen, which end up being wack jobs that basically agree with my father. Some happen to have very sexist views. Others he had seen several times and basically bad mouthed my mother to no end. He ended up going alone for a bit. (Again. Loneliness thing. I call it  the "attention wh**e" factor.) But to each their own. Eventually they did find a marriage counselor they both agreed on and went for a total of seven (nine?) months before coming to the conclusion that my father does not want to change and my mother does not see this marriage going anywhere. They did not get divorced, but that don't talk to each other..... I should say that my mother attempts to ignore him and my father talks at her. (Usually in monologues of a loud voice bickering about...well.... just attacking her really. Verbally.) They sleep in separate rooms. This was due to his constantly waking her up in the middle of the night bumping the bed or other wise going to the bathroom (he is tall and rotund, so he could easily knock the bed waking someone up) and his insistence on not doing anything (of course, the first step was admitting he had something) about his snoring. So he ended up purchasing a new bed and moving into a different room. Nothing says 'I love you' like moving into the room next door. Not that I thought it was a bad thing. My mother could use the relaxation of his constant annoyances. (You can still hear the snoring through the walls, of course.) As for the mentioning of absence in children's lives- he mostly never showed up to my older brother's basketball games, my little brother's soccer games (until my mother basically forced my father to take him), or my recitals (dance, ballet, etc.). We were all in 4-H as well. (A youth organization in which was a great way to show children leadership, citizenship, and life skills. No, I do not own a cow. Yes, there are amazing opportunities involved that taught me many a thing that did not involve ever milking a goat.) There were a million opportunities for him to participate. He might show up the latter years of our lives to the end of a meeting or occasionally go to one of the bigger events of the year. Though it was not like he was really doing something else that he couldn't make it or participate more in our lives. Don't get me wrong. I really don't care. I personally don't care much for my father. I can't say the same for my brothers. I learn most of my lessons myself. When I was probably twelve, I began noticing that he wasn't just not around much, he didn't seem to be caring like I remembered him to be. As a kid, yeah, I loved him. He was my father. But him seeming absence made it hard to know him. My fighting to be able to join him at his work when he went to "work out" (watch cable (we didn't ever have cable) on a bicycle machine) with my older brother was one of a million things that made me question things. I really just thought that he was sexist. (His father, my grandfather is when it comes to tasks and work. Such as when we would go to visit them, my brothers would go off to work at their business cleaning up and such and I was subjected to going grocery shopping with my grandmother, whom of which is severely depressed. Anyone who couldn't see that must be brain dead. (She has seven children.... none of them.... ><  And guess how many have these symptoms!!! That's right! Six! The last was severely depressed but now finally has gotten a hold on her life and is taking it for all that is has to offer her. Yay her. All I have to say is- who wouldn't be depressed with seven children that have something a bit off about them, a husband that starts up new jobs/business deals thus being absent, living in the middle of nowhere (not kidding) and doing it all on your own. Okay. No nanny. Nuh-uh. Good luck.) Where was I? Can you tell yet that this is written by someone who has ADD? Yeahhhh..... Just can't help myself. If in seems important to the perspective I am giving you, then it seems necessary to tell you all. I thought my father was sexist, because I saw it in his father. But I don't know. I fought to be with him. To prove somehow that I was worth being around. But it was something that needed to be proved. It seemed easily proved to anyone else I was around, but my father was oblivious to us when we were not interesting enough. I eventually saw that he was never going to change, he was who he was, and that I couldn't do anything about it. I saw the way he treated my brothers- he abused their affections for him to get what he wanted. The way he treated my mother- like she was constantly doing something wrong and at fault for their problems. And the way he treated himself- to have so little self-respect that he couldn't possibly take responsibility for any of his actions. Most of my childhood I don't recall having that many memories of him. I realized that it had to do with his disinterest and my mother's every attempt to busy us with learning at every corner. I'm talking science fairs, every museum around, lessons in life, and every kind of class from libraries, schools, universities, or otherwise that you can think of. It was fun ( the good type of learning) and I see now that maybe it had to do with more than just learning. Maybe it had to do with (which, of course, I saw) my mother giving us every lesson and opportunity, every happiness in life. Which is what mother's tend to do. But at what price?? Her own? Her happiness was ours, as she has said before, and it was plainly obvious. But it hurts to see the people you care about hurt. It hurts to see how he affects her, and everyone else he is himself around. It is sickening. And I have always said that I would never wish this (type of person) on anyone. Noone deserves this. The only one thing that came out of her marriage to him, aside from the first couple years of blind bliss, was us- three of her children. (Her oldest son came from a previous marriage. No need to factor that into this situation. My father adopted him. All a big happy, happy family....from the outside.) As for the dyslexia and trouble reading numbers, my older brother has had trouble reading when he was little (which is why we ended up learning together- My mother would teach him, I'd listen and began teaching myself and then my mother just decided to start teaching the both of us together.) and just the other day, strangely enough, was telling me he still has problems with that. He never has had dyslexia diagnosed, but he said that he has long suspected it. I'm not sure how helpful this will be for you all, but some people you simply cannot change. No matter the want you have to "compromise" as a marriage is filled with it. But it takes two, not one and wishful thinking from the other., or that the other will come around. If you want to try though, as you should if you are in it for the long haul (You are already in a relationship, if not married- so why wouldn't you?) then I wish you all the luck in the world. A lot of it has to do with the way one is raised, and the other the state of one's minds. That applies for you too, though. If you want o work it out, you have to have an open mind. No. A gaping whole. All the patience in the world. And most importantly, an outlet- verbal and physical. Yoga, boxing, running, raising children, etc. (Though Yoga is great and boxing is too, especially if you just want to punch things out.) And someone to talk to. Whether it is online, your mother, a therapist, a support group (great idea), or an understanding friend (only helps if they can comprehend the situation in its entirety. Not just that there are problems, but that the friend really knows what the meaning of ADD or Asperger's or otherwise mean.) Really the person you are talking to should understand "the entirety" no matter what. Really. It makes all the difference. Not that you can't talk to more than one person. If you actually read this thing the whole way through, I applaud you. I know I have been writing for at least two hours. I kind of felt like I should contribute though. I randomly fell onto this page and it was funny how it seemed everyone was describing my parents' marriage and my father. Disclaimer: I am not married, nor do I claim be. Though I have a good sense of the matter. I believe in happiness, but I also believe in persevering- to not give up until all options are exhausted twice over. I have experience with ADD/ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome among other things- enough to last for a life time. My mother and father were married in their early thirties. They both come from big families- six siblings and seven siblings, respectively. They both have had their fair share of family problems which I think can allow a person to learn and grow in their peace seeking skills.  (At least it did for me, and my mother's side of the family. They seem to learn from their mistakes. Not to say they are perfect. Noone is.) My oldest brother has a family of his own now with children. (Adorable.) My older brother, myself, and my younger brother are all two years apart and live at home. I am nearly twenty. Could you tell it was written by someone so? I have seen a lot and learned even more from it all. I do not claim to be an expert, but I do know quite a bit about all ADD/ADHD and Asperger related subjects.  Again, I wish you luck. But in the end, make sure that it is all worth it. I love my mother dearly, I want nothing more than for her to be happy. I have no respect for my father other than human decency. If I had a say, they would have gotten divorced years ago. It wouldn't have taken such a toll on my mother, but she stayed for the long haul. For us. The effect it would have on us and our ability to see it for what it was. Things would have been harder on her as a single parent, and I don't think I would have gotten it until I was seven, but past that- she deserved happiness. And to me, as well as the rest of my family, he is just her (and our) stressor. I think my brother's are more affected by my father as they came to full realization of who he simply is much later than I. I was thirteen. (I am more mature than most for my age. Don't age discriminate. Open mind now.) My older brother though was around twenty. Though I think it was because he was away for college for awhile. (He wasn't around him to remember all that he is....) My father does have anger issues though. So this contributed to our disliking of him. Don't worry. I factored that into the situation. It doesn't help to have children, whom of which see things differently, tell a man with one view point a different way of seeing things. Or to disagree with him let alone tell him he's wrong....oooo no. Things tapered down a bit when we were older though. He become less enraged and more plain annoying (all the things you all were describing). This I found out was due to his being impotent. In other words, he had less testosterone- lack of sex life. (Fun discussions with mother! Next up on life talks with the people that raised you.) So, maybe thats a thing. Not something I ever thought to think of seeing as the two people that have this around me are my older brother and my father.... Things can work out though. A family friend of ours (husband, wife (amazingly, wonderful woman), son, and daughter), happen to make things smoother. The males in their family have Asperger's and it is painfully obvious. More so than my brother. My brother is on the high end of the spectrum. He has his issues but he, aside from being smart, is able to socialize well- as well as anyone in college does really.... The family friends though- the son is more affected on the spectrum than my brother. He is smarter (though I think they have the same capabilities- just push and drive) but his quirks and "side effects", aside from being more obvious, are more obvious. Needless to say, they have had their problems, and still do- like any family. They have been in family (and individual, at times) counseling for years. They make it work, a lot in part by the aforementioned wife. She puts a lot of effort into everything. I hope my rambling come to some avail. I feel like without a clear perspective of where I'm coming from, my words mean nothing. So I hope my perspective is clear and it provides assistance. Oh, my older and younger brother and I take Vyvanse. A lot better than Adderall in my perspective, but each person is different. Vyvanse is less a lot less able to be abused (fyi). It can make a person irritable though, so it takes a while to get used to. (Three months? for you to feel like it's really doing some good.) Since it is a stimulant, it can be like drinking a lot of coffee- to the average person that it. (Coffee puts me to sleep, sugar doesn't.) (Just awesome when you are a college student! ^^) So my brother takes something to counteract it. I don't though. A lot of ADD has to do with what you put in your body, how you exercise (answer should be often- daily even), and your mind set. That is where your drive comes from, and your ability to overcome the obstacles. My oldest brother has ADD and he has a great marriage, three kids and one on the way, is constantly doing projects around the house (and finishes them), and exercises constantly as well as spends quality time with his kids. He knows it takes effort, (he's always wanted a family though) and that its a team effort. To each their own though. (I chalk it up to great parenting though.)

One more thing...

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is often misdiagnosed as Asperger's Syndrome. It really sounds like most of you all (not all) are describing this. Its worth looking into it. Find a local support group (if you can) that talks about this. If nothing else, you will just have a better understanding of this. My mother found it amazing when people starting talking about all the things other people were saying. It was precisely what she needed and she got all the guidance and support one needs in that sort of a situation. Or just keep looking around online. Its surprising what you can find when you start looking. Good luck finding your answers. :}

Aspergers and divorce

Thank you for your point of view as someone from a family with lots of ADHD and some Asperger's... especially as the child of a father with ADHD (and possibly more). 

Speaking only for myself: Could my husband have Asperger's? Maybe. I also played with the idea that he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder long before his ADHD diagnosis. These things are hard to tell: As you know, I'm sure, ADHD isn't exactly the same in every person. My husband certainly didn't seem to have poor social skills when we were dating, and he does well with friends. He has trouble with being a husband and father. Is this because we, the members of his family, aren't "shiny" anymore (ADHD), or because of some other problem? And is the problem just the way he was raised (you mentioned possible sexism in your father, which I would say would be the way a person is raised, not part of a disorder, so to speak), or is it something else? It's hard to answer these questions. I could ask my husband to go in for testing. He responded positively (to my surprise) when I asked him to get tested for ADHD; however, his job was on the line at the time. If it was "just" his marriage on the line, or nothing at all? I'm not convinced he'd care. He certainly let me know he was willing to let our marriage go during our big fight last year. And in the end, when I read the description of Asperger's, some things do make me think "so true" (he talks at me, not with me, going on and on in long monologues... but more about that later), but many others aren't. The ADHD description, when I read it before he was tested, was so true to him when I read it that it inspired me to urge him to get tested (and I sent him the description, and that may have helped prod him toward testing, too).

There are just so many dynamics that go into interpersonal relationships! My husband brings his ADHD and the way he was raised by his parents and who knows what else to the marriage. I bring my depression and the way I was raised by my parents and who knows what else. Everybody brings something. That is something I keep in mind when I'm feeling discouraged. Having only been married to my husband, I have no idea if marriage to someone without ADHD would necessarily be all that much better. I certainly dated other guys before I got married, and of them, maybe only one is someone I might have been better off with, but even then, I'm not sure. As I know I've mentioned, sometimes I find out about something a friend is going through in her marriage, and I actually have it better. Sometimes I feel very envious of other women who seem to be in great marriages. All marriages, I'm sure, go through rough spots where one or both people want to give up. It seems like our rough spots have been an awful lot of the time we've been married; that's what has sometimes been discouraging.

Since my husband is not abusive, nor does he cheat or put me in horrible situations through substance abuse or problem gambling or anything like that, I feel strongly that I need to try my hardest to make this work. I don't believe that anyone needs to put up with things like abuse, but I believe that sticking through difficult situations can help a person grow. Yes, I play around with the idea that I'd be happier out of the marriage; that's why I talked divorce with him in our big argument. But I don't know that I would be any happier. I confess that he was away visiting a relative recently, and I had a great time NOT having to pick up after him, but I also missed him a little. Life would be easier, in some ways, without him, but it would be harder in other ways. Financially, for instance, it would be extremely difficult -- if he were one of the folks with ADHD who doesn't ever seem to be able to hold onto a job, that would be another thing, but even though he's been in and out of several jobs, most of the time he is working and contributes about half of our family income. Would I find "real love" if I were free to pursue it? Maybe, but maybe not. There is no guarantee. Is it cold and calculating and maybe even stupid to, on my bad days, talk myself out of leaving for reasons like money and the feeling that I might not find anyone else? Maybe, but it keeps me trying, and I value trying. And I do try to analyze situations rationally, not merely with my heart, which can sometimes deceive me. What kind of example am I setting for my child? Good question. I hated watching my mom let my dad walk all over her, but he was out and out abusive at times. My daughter recently asked me why I married my husband. This was not a sweet, "Oh, tell me all about what attracted you to Daddy." It was a "why on earth did you marry him?" question. That makes me sad on so many levels. It says a lot about her relationship with her dad and also a bit about what she must think of me for being married to him. But even with my own parents, it was a bit traumatic for me when they split (I guess losing the stability, even in a family in which there is lots of anger and drama, is upsetting). I keep that in mind when I think about things like divorce. All that said, I would never judge a woman (or man) here who felt that they couldn't deal with their ADHD spouse any longer. I've been there.

Going back to my child, I think the best example I could set would be by the ways I can grow in the marriage. For instance, lately I've been face-to-face with my need to be more assertive. Because my father was abusive, and because I was a geeky kid who got made fun of by many of my peers, I learned to be unassertive. The more "invisible" you can make yourself, the less trouble you find. My marriage has helped cement those habits in place. I have been the fixer who would just blow up when I'd had it "up to here" with taking care of everything. Because my husband can be gone, physically or mentally, for hours at a time chasing after his own projects, we frequently live in separate worlds with no communication at all. But then I find myself with my husband, and thinking, "I hate how he talks AT me and not WITH me. He goes on and on and on about things and never asks me anything about what's going on with me." Well, that is a lousy way for him to relate to me, but I need to take ownership of how passive I am and start asserting myself more. Maybe that will drive us apart, but maybe it will bring us together.

Sorry. I don't mean to sound like I'm smacking down your points about Asperger's and divorce. I think you raise valid points, and it is good to hear your perspective. I'm just noting where I am with thinking all of these things through.

The more that you say, it

The more that you say, it seems that your instincts were correct. You have obviously done your research. It seems like ADD/ADHD. The talking thing- I completely understand. It can be frustrating at times. Though as someone with ADD, I have to say that I have had conversations with my brother in which we were both talking at the same time about different things though somehow still relating back to each other having a meaningful conversation. It might not make sense, but it is something I have only been able to do with another person in which has ADD. Some of the other posts did seem like it would be worth mentioning the Asperger's thing. I personally think whatever someone may have, it really has to do with the way they were raised and who they are comfortable being, along with admitting and working out (or on) their "kinks".

I know I have asked my mother the same question- "Why did you marry him?" Subconsciously, I know that there must have been some reason, otherwise... why would she? She answered honestly- that he seemed sweet and like a (good person?) I can't quite remember what she said. I was just more curious. I didn't think poorly of her- noones perfect. I am only slightly glad they did marry for one reason. Me. Otherwise who knows what family I would have been born into with who knows what other type of problems... I am where I am and I can only learn from my experiences. (I have to admit though, it was good to get that out yesterday.) The thing that makes me respect my mother and not my father is that her word means something (among a million other things). Someone mentioned in an earlier post that their husband makes grandiose promises/punishments and doesn't follow through with them. It is my mother's word, her character, wisdom, and resilience that I respect about her. I'm sure your daughter can see that. Or I hope that she does. You don't sound like you were smacking down my points either, by the way. You sound like someone who is trying to find happiness where you once sought it. It just takes lots of time. Most importantly- communication. I'm sure you've heard that though. Whether by a therapist, or as I call it- "a referee" (of sorts), or by just sitting down a few times a week for an hour and actually, really talking. Or not. Just spending time together. I hope that you find some answers. Your head is in the right place and you are fighting to stay. Yes, noone can truly know their own future; but it is up to you to make the best of it. I just hope that you get the needed peace of mind you are searching for. :] Have a good day! 

You two have problems

You two have problems compromising. I am a stay at home mother of 4. I have ADHD as well as 2 children with it so far. What this looks like is your husband gets away with his ADHD symptoms and you've stopped saying anything for fear of getting your head bitten off. You cannot take on every responsibility for your family just because he has the disorder. Just like you shouldn't expect him to function like a normal person. You have to meet in the middle... or at least as close to the middle as you can. I can't tell you exactly why he calls you a nag but I will assume that it's because he feels like you're blaming him personally. You both have to approach ADHD symptoms in a way that separates it from his personality. He needs to understand his symptoms are unpleasant to you but that you know it is not necessarily him you are "blaming." You also need to give him a little push towards being more responsible around the house etc. He will not make any progress if you are doing everything for him or just letting him run wild with his disorder. Approach the issue and take it head on together. If he is on medication, he also needs treatment to learn the tools to get around his symptoms and be more productive. That will relieve a lot of stress on both ends and will help you both get on track. I've been in his position before and I'm sure he loves you regardless of how distracted he is. I'm a stay at home mother of 4 children and I manage to keep my house decent. There might be an occasional kleenex or two and it's gross but not the end of the world. He's got bigger problems. His standoffish refusal to believe his ADHD doesn't effect you would be one of those. It may affect him significantly on the inside but he needs to know that his distraction makes you feel less than important. I know he can't help it because I'm the same way, but just because it's not his fault doesn't mean it shouldn't be acknowledged. Actually, it might do him some good to inform himself as much as he can about ADHD so he can target where/when/how his symptoms are affecting him and you. Self awareness has changed my life entirely.

...and to whoever is saying

...and to whoever is saying narcissism... people who have adhd come across as self centered unintentionally because they are stubborn, defiant, and don't like to feel bossed around (I say feel because usually they explode when a symptom is pointed out and it isn't necessarily criticism). Learn about the disorder before you come out with some sort of other issue. It's very common for a spouse of someone with adhd to feel abandoned and ignored not unlike the partner of an narcissist spouse. I was married to a psychopath narcissist. There is a huge difference between the two. Personally, her husband has no clue how ingrained his adhd is. If he got some kind of therapy or treatment aside from medication he'd figure that out.