ADD and divorce

New here. My ADD husband of almost a year just left me because I am "mistreating" him by yelling at him all the time. He says my tone of voice is always confrontational and I "intimidate" him and he is afraid to approach me and communicate with me. From all I know about ADD, these are problems stemming from his disability, not mine. I am constantly frustrated with him at home because he cannot keep track of anything, i handle the bills, the kids schedule, and constantly have to keep an eye on finances as he is horrible with them. He complains about the lack of sex, yet I feel he is my second child and that is just not that attractive to me most of the time. He has written me letters in the past to discuss his frustrations, but only after his feelings have blown out of proportion and he is very hurt and feeling neglected. He had never mentioned divorce once, and now wants one. He feels we are not "meant for each other" but I really dont know if anyone is cut out to deal with an Adder who blames is ADD for everything is his life and situation and expects me to make all of the adaptations to him, instead of meeting halfway. If anyone could lend support, I am in dire need. I am extremely frustrated as well since we are in our first year of marriage which is the hardest anyway, without the ADD.

Mylank's picture

Similar situation

Hi Jodik.  I'm sorry that your husband has left and wants a divorce and that you're going through such a difficult time. 

Your situation sounds very similar to mine -- especially the finances, child care, and seeing him as a second child.  (Mine is like my fourth child!)

When I found this Web site it gave me all kinds of hope and I've found valuable information to improve my relationship with my ADD husband.  I hope that you will look through the entire site and find hope as well.

One thing that I did was recognize that I was extremely angry at my husband and that that was part of the problem.  Yes, he's the one with ADD, but my responses to him were all negative in his perspective.  Even though paying bills on time and being responsible in other ways seem reasonable to you and I, our husbands have a different perspective.  I have found that being outrageously patient and always kind in tone has improved our relationship drastically. But it wasn't just me:  He has also changed.  It just took me making changes first.  Does that make sense?

I still get frustrated but I just smile and talk calmly to him.  When I need to get away I tell him I'm going to do something for me for awhile -- and he's very hip to that. 

We have bad moments on occasion, but absolutely nothing like it was.


Yes, my anger is the thing in

Yes, my anger is the thing in our marriage that pushed him away the most. I recognize that now and am in counseling to deal with my end. He however, says he is done and seems to be putting all the blame on me. My frustration, because he refuses to go to counseling for himself or marriage counseling for that matter, is that he will end up in yet another marriage (this was his second) that will have the same complications and dynamics. He seems, to me, unwilling to change and wants someone to accept him exactly the way he is. I feel we should never stop trying to improve ourselves, whether our faults are caused by a disability or not. I am glad your hubby found it in himself to meet you halfway and hope mine comes to his senses and does too/.

At a breaking point

Can you tell when you've finally had enough?  My husband has been in a bad mood for days.  I come home from work and have to deal with his negative comments.  I have tried and tried to make this marriage work but I've gotten to the point that I really don't care.  He started in on me this am and then calls at lunch like nothing happened.  I am so sick of pretending like everything is okay.  I can remember a time when that actually brought me relief.  I also can remember when I fell for him telling me that it was me!!  My husband is very manipulative.  He wants me to feel sorry for him that he has ADD, but at other times he acts like he has no fault and that ADD does not even affect him.  Tonight, after I'd worked all day, he wanted to talk.  I had already had a stressful morning with him and I just wanted to relax.  God forbid if I wanted to talk to him when he was relaxing.  You know what he does?  He leaves. I tell him to leave his debit card(b/c he's already spent way too much money this week and has a habit of going to the bar and blowing it when he's mad at me) and that he couldn't take my car (his truck is 15 miles away). He is walking to his truck.  I am his 3rd marriage.  He says he's not afraid to start over again.  I've told him that I would be there with him if he would get on medication and get an accurate diagnosis.  He says he's tired of my ultimatums.  I don't even know what I want at this point b/c I am emotionally exhausted.  I'm going to see a psychiatrist Wednesday, and am on anti-depressants, to make myself a better person. I'm am so frustrated right now!!!

Breaking Point

By this time, you have probably worked through what you are going to do with your counsellor.  However, a few thoughts.  First, you husband can only be successful as a manipulator if the manipulatee (you) is willing to go along with it.  Don't "pretend" everything is okay when it clearly isn't okay.  Don't let him bully you by telling you he's ready to walk.  Don't feel sorry for his ADD - that can be a reason for things happening, but it shouldn't be an excuse for them continuing to happen.  He needs to take responsibility for his actions (and his ADD) and you shouldn't let him blame you for it.  You too, though, are guilty of manipulating him.  By not driving him to his truck or letting him use your car (if it's available) you are "telling" him that if he misbehaves he will be punished.  In fact, you seem both to be trying to punish the other right now...don't want to talk on my terms?  Okay, I'll just walk away.  Too needy and needing to talk when I'm tired?  I'll get mad at you...(And since I got all of this out of only one paragraph of writing, it seems likely that your life is just PEPPERED with punishing interactions.)

While your husband may be having problems, you also have to come to terms with your own contribution to your marriage's disintegration.  You tell him you'll stand by him if he does specific things.  The reality is that he needs to behave in a partnership way.  How he gets there is his choice, not yours.  This is what he is telling you when he says he is tired of your ultimatums.  He is telling you that you have stopped respecting his autonomy.  This is a killer for a marriage (and one could argue is what he is doing to you when he insists that you deal with his ADD - he is not respecting your needs, either).

Ned Hallowell once told me that the opposite of love isn't hate, but indifference.  In both love and hate you are actively engaged with the other party.  Indifference, however, disconnects you.  You should reassess who you want to be here (regardless of him), give him back his autonomy, and see what happens.  Stop punishing him!  Insist that he stop punishing you.  (This strikes me as a form of engagement, by the way, but a totally misguided and destructive form.)  If you feel indifferent to him and to your marriage, rather than angry or loving, after you've taken a more careful look at it, then it's a sign that you should consider what your life might be like without him.  I say this with the thought that you will be careful about your deliberations and not be hasty, but that is the litmus test that I use.

Consider reading this book:  Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate.  It has a good explanation of the importance of autonomy in relationships and in negotiations and can give you lots to think about.  You two are negotiating with almost every interaction, it seems (for autonomy, for being meaningful, for happiness...)  The book is by master negotiators Roger Fisher (Getting to Yes) and Daniel Shapiro.  As I read their comments about the 5 core values that lead to successful negotiations (and relationships) I was shocked and saddened to realize that at our worst times, my husband and I had abanodonned all five!  There was no way we could relate to each other with this as the case, just as the two of you can no longer deal with each other.  I think that this book will help you think differently about your situation and relationship.