Acceptance??

Hi, I am new to posting on this site.  I have been reading posts on it for a few months here and there and find, of course, myself and my marriage to a man w/ADHD in all the posts.  We have been married 13 years, and he was "diagnosed" when we sought marital counseling about six years ago.  He never has had formal testing, but the therapist we worked with discerned it through a history and when he suggested meds, my husband agreed to try and we noticed immediate results.  He stopped taking the meds a few months into it, as he was having some side effects.  We moved a while after for a job change, and when he began having similar career issues, he tried taking meds again.  At that time, however, he was also taking meds for high blood pressure, so he never increased the dosage to a truly effective amount.  He has since resigned from his job--after being asked to by his employer--and stopped taking the meds in order to save money--his idea not mine.  This past year has been the hardest of my life, as a lot of his unmanaged ADHD symptoms have reached what, to me, has been a limit I never could have imagined.  After reading several blogs on here about infidelity and nasty financial issues, I am thankful for what has NOT taken place in our life together, but when I discovered some deception around finances in addition to him coming home drunk and unable to care for himself, I insisted we start counseling--after months of saying I think we could benefit from some work and he insisting we could handle things on our own.  So, we have been in counseling together for a while, but it really is more crisis type counseling, as he has not really been addressing ADHD. 

So, like most of us here, I could comment on all of his symptoms that just take away from our marriage and family, but I am at the point of wanting to just make whatever changes I can in my own life to get back to being the person I know myself to be.  I think that is what saddens me almost more than anything about our marriage.  What I thought would be a life enhancing marriage has instead been a life drain.  Dreams of what we could do and be together have not been realized.  I had become someone I do not want to be, someone I would never have imagined myself to be.  We have three wonderful kids, one w/clear ADHD, one w/some impulsive issues but clearly gifted, and our youngest appears to have some very mild autistic spectrum behaviors, though the pediatrician (whom I trust) does not think so--and I agree.  In my role as wife and mom, and because it is how I am wired, I have don a ton of reading around ADHD, nutrition, aspbergers, autisim, OCD, ODD, and while no expert, I feel that some of the changes I have initiated (and I will say my husband is willing to implement them w/me for our kids) for our kids are helping.  Because we homeschool our kids, we have been able to feel good about not medicating our son w/ADHD, but recently, due to some emotional issues and increasing academic challenges, feel that we need to begin that soon. 

Now I find myself at the point of realizing: I am seriously grieving the loss of a marriage and life I wanted but have never had.  I recently began to take a medication for depression and anxiety and feel physically balanced for the first time in a long time.  I had no clue just how out of sorts my body was.  I now feel able to clearly begin to think through how I need to RESPOND to my life, rather than react to my husband.  I have let a lot of things "go" over the last year--the house is a lot messier than I like, but for the sake of avoiding conflict, I have learned to live w/it.  And I will say, I think my family is better off for it.  I am not as on top of the finances as I would like to be.  I have stopped feeling obligated to be at every event my children attend--and since little league baseball is a hyperfocus safe distraction for my husband, there are a ton of baseball games I could attend.  My ADHD son misses me when I am not there, but I think he is seeing me model the reality that no one person can do all things.  I am trying to live without being impacted by the urgency and chaos that my husband's unmanaged ADHD has brought to my life for so many years, but it is hard.  I have a hard time knowing how to do that w/out disconnecting.  We have always enjoyed good conversations w/one another, but in the past year, I simply can't listen to him share his thoughts for hours on end while I need to be sleeping.  I no longer desire to share my heart with him because his distractability (in my estimation) makes it appear that it is just information for him, not anything that he considers or does anything with.  I feel he likes to have the information for informations sake, to feel valued, but not to know me.  I want to be respectful to him, but I no longer have a lot of respect for him--who I thought he was, he doesn't seem to be.  I know it is not because he doesn't WANT to be that person, but rather he is blocked by his ADHD symptoms.  And him not seeking treatment for it is what I probably disrespect the most.  It is treatable, for pete's sake! 

So, I am trying to accept the reality of what is.  Seeking help to manage his ADHD is his process, not mine.  Over the years, I have tried to offer tidbits of information about ADHD, I have asked him to consider medication, I have bluntly said "i think you need to do something about your ADHD" and it really has not helped, at least not in the long term.  I am trying to discern what is important to me and trying to live by that.  Recently, the priorities for me that I am sensing are to: take care of myself physically and spiritually and emotionally  (I am a christian and am finding such an increasing depth in my relationship w/God even though it is still a hard season--and I have been doing individual therapy as well as couples counseling), to take responsibility for my individual relationship w/my kids (I think we have been a bit enmeshed as a family, kind of passively controlled by my husband's ADHD--is that a common thing??), to take charge of my own future potential--with my husband's recent resignation, I am studying for re-licensure in my profession, having left it behind 10 years ago, and to take a look at how my inappropriate handling of appropriate anger and frustration have impacted our marriage and family. 

I will say, though, I don't always want to live in a messy house, or feel like we have to live so tightly because of my husband's financial weaknesses.  I know there will be a time in the future when I will want to again address how we can share or divide responsibilities, it is just right now, I don't believe it will be effective because he is not managing his ADHD and I don't trust that anything he promises will come to pass.  For now, I am trying to use my understanding of the "now or not now" time sense--if I want help with something, I either ask when the help is needed, put off the request until he has the time to help then ask, or ask to schedule within a couple of days or a week at most.  I try to not feel bothered by the fact that he doesn't remember when he has promised something anymore, but rather understand that if he is not treating himeself of course he won't remember, but try to not let that put me off from asking.  That does leave me feeling a bit like the more mature one, as I equate responsibility w/maturity, and thus I don't feel so attracted to who he is as a man.  While I remain committed to our marriage, and do believe that over time he will make some changes, i really do--especially as I get out of his process, I feel the need to accept where we are in the here and now for my own peace, sanity and heath

Any thoughts or practical suggestions on how to live w/an ADHD husband who has not fully accepted his diagnosis or at least the need to manage it (and I understand it is more than just medical management) and to accept his pace in the process while trying to live a contented life of my own? 

Thanks! 

 

Welcome. Your story is

Welcome. Your story is similar to many others here, myself included.

I first wanted to address the question about whether it is common to be 'controlled' by the ADHD. I have been at this for 14 years, and spent most of the last 6 or 7 years being accused of being too controlling, trying to control his life, and not letting him have his own opinion or make his own decisions. It wasn't until very recently that it hit me like a ton of bricks...he wasn't the only one being 'controlled'. Yes, I TRIED to control what I see as absolute chaos...but that didn't work out for me. I tried all of the very common, very ineffective ways such as nagging, micromanaging, screaming, crying, pleading, threatening, manipulating, etc. If you read about codependency, well...that is what many of us become. We become so affected by the behaviors and actions of others that we cease to exist separate from them and their behaviors. I recommend to everyone CoDependent No More by Melodie Beattie. It has been an absolute Godsend to me because I am at the same crossroads as you...I want better, I want to be healthier emotionally and physically, and he only wants to lay claim to the 'shiny' parts of ADHD and not the ugly stuff. If I would just 'accept' him, our problems would be solved. The book also focuses on the 12-step slogan for Al-anon...Let Go, Let God. #1 Accept that you cannot change him. You are powerless against his ADHD. #2 Accept that you cannot do this alone, seek our a higher power to help. I have been a believer all of my life, but until 14 months ago, I didn't appreciate how powerful and fulfilling seeking a true realtionship with God was. As I grow stronger spiritually (through church, Bible Study, prayer, scripture), I also grow stronger emotionally. I can relate to that aspect of your 'battle' as well.

I laid down my anger, after 9 months of utter despair and frustration and my anxiety level putting me in a HORRIBLE place, on 9-11-11. (see the post "for Sherri" under the "other" section in the forums...it was the small shove I needed, off the cliff I went!) I 'went silent'. I am in counseling working on ME. I listen to or read from the CoDependent No More book several times a week (have completed it more than once). I pray specifically and intently everyday asking for guidance and surrendering my will to His so that I may continue to feel a renewed sense of joy in my life for the first time in YEARS. You never know how much you miss joy until you regain what you lost. My husband had an affair (and we separated) in the fall of 2009. When we reconciled, he seemed like a changed man, one who admitted his faults and was willing to fight for his marriage. Long story somewhat short, he went on meds in Oct 2010 (diagnosed in June 1020) and the changed him completely (hostile and aggressive) and by the time Feb 2011 rolled around I was DONE. He stopped them, in an attempt to save the marriage, although he denied emphatically that they were affecting him that way, and he crashed. He went into the pits of ADHD hell and didn't come out until mid-June. (living in the den, self medicating, never spending time with his family, not going into work). I was so bitter that I was having to deal with 'that' (ADHD hell) again that by the time he came out of it, I just completely shut down and was 100% consumed by fear and anxiety. By Sept, we were both angry, couldn't manage to get along for 5 minutes, and spending time together as a family was non-existent. He was shutting me out again, I was overwhelmed with fear that he was cheating again, he had gone from barely working to working 12+ hours a day, and I hated who I had become. I knew God wanted better for me.

Since I let go of my anger and started focusing 100% on ME, we get along much better. However, since I have let him go and let him walk in the world of his own free will, he has gradually started spiralling out of control again. He is not doing well, it would seem. Who knows, maybe he feels he is doing grand. I certain hope not. I, too, have faith that someday he'll turn himself around and check back into the marriage more often than once every few weeks when he wants sex. I am being patient, not something I am known for, but keeping myself busy and focused on me and getting stronger everyday has helped. So, I suppose, for now we are in the same boat. Since things have been a LOT worse before, I am trying to focus on the long term. I too remain devoted to my marriage, but I know that the way things have been for well over 9 months now are not something I can live with for the rest of my life. Still, I remain hopeful and am enjoying life in the meantime.

Sherri