ADD and long term love committment

When I ask dh what love is to him, he said that "Love is when he feels pleasure, a feeling inside that makes him smile."  So he loves his beer, his tobacco, his games, his winning, his erections.  He loves his sons only when they give HIM pleasure.  He loves me ONLY when I give him pleasure.  He puts his focus and energies and resources toward THOSE things that will make HIM smile.  He does not need to DO ANYTHING for the people he expects to love him. People who love him need to give him pleasure for him to feel love (pleasure). Because love, to him, is a feeling...no motivation to DO anything....just feel it.  He thinks he is loving and generous because he smiles a lot and tells jokes.  The conceit of this is lost on him. This type of one-sidedness of LOVE is what leaves us needy and feeling betrayed. 

The romanticizing of love (this pleasurable feeling of physical attraction) is for for teenagers and is called just that - attraction. Romantic love is not an example for a mature husband and father who loves his family.  Growing up means you have a more mature sense of what real love is.....it is providing safety, a home, an accepting place to BE for ANOTHER person, opportunities for growth and thriving for your loved ones benefits, being able to be depended on.

It is sad to us non ADDers that there must be a threat to your own selves before you feel an inspiration to contribute to the success of your family.  In MY mind, love is the action of putting yourself out (even though it may be uncomfortable or difficult or boring) for another or a thing because you want that other person or thing to BE WELL and to grow and thrive with you.  This is LOVING life and FAMILY more than you love your distractions FROM life and family.  

Can an ADD person maintain love and caring for longer than a few years at best?  A person I know with ADD tells me she knows she could not maintain a long term relationship because she gets bored and distracted. She accepts this as a reality.  I think this is being very honest.  If this is fact for ADD, this fact should be shared to the public as a whole so that neither the ADDer nor an unsuspecting spouse needs to live a lifetime of frustration.

Love is a feeling

Hello. Perhaps the question should be how do you define being lovable? I think your husband describes ok Love, deriving pleasure from another person. The acts of love as you describe are the acts of someone being lovable. You can be lovable because you want to be perceived as such, or because you derive pleasure from making others happy and comfortable. My DH, before we got married, said that the vow shouldn't be to love our spouse forever, but rather to forever be lovable. Of course he's ADHD so he has missed that goal often but the sentiment seems fair. We can't reasonably be expected to continue to love someone who is no longer acting lovably.

And YES, there are ADHD people who can love and be loved for decades. All relationships have ups and downs of course. My in-laws are happily married after 60 years despite her ADHD. My dad is happily married to his ADHD wife of 32 years. My best friend, ADHD, still loves her husband after 21 years together. My spouse still seems to love me after 19.

Your husband doesn't seem particularly lovable at this point. Certainly not by your definition. Alas, he's unlikely to start anytime soon. I wish you the best.

I think over several posts

I think over several posts you and I more or less understand where the other is coming from, but there is a thread of thought here that has existed in those other discussions that bothers me.

When I think of love I cannot conceive of it as anything but a selfish notion. In fact I have a hard time thinking of anything we do or any motivation as separated from self-interest. If that is a state of reality for others it just does not compute for me. From all your descriptions of your husband I am on board with the idea that he is a dick, but while I wouldn't use the words he did, the sentiment is accurate. You love someone because interacting with them makes your life better. If their presence didn't improve your experience, what is the point of engaging? Healthy, long-term love involves deriving a lot of pleasure from the happiness of your lover. I want to improve our relationship. Why? A. So she gets more out of it and is happier, which makes me happy. B. So I will get more out of it and be happier. Both of these things are about making me happier. You husband's problem seems to be that he is so out to lunch that the making-himself-happy-by-making-you-happy dynamic is completely lost. Of course, even if he did get somewhat in touch with it there is still the possibility that he's an asshole. I'm leaving that door open, we might be distracted but we could also be terrible human beings.

Positing that ADHD people might not ever be able to maintain long-term relationships is relegating it to the mental health territory of pedophiles and sociopaths. Mental issues that are generally considered to be untreatable and hopeless. That is scary, but all of the research I've seen does not place it anywhere near that doomed collection of neuroses.

As an addendum: If the pleasurable feeling of physical attraction is just for teenagers, long-term relationships just got a lot more difficult.

I agree that Love is on many

I agree that Love is on many levels a self serving thing. Who could stay in a relationship that they didn't receive some pleasure from the interaction with the other person?

I think I get where the OP is coming from, though, is there has to be a balance. When you're a teenager you think love is all about a FEELING. It's the butterflies in your stomach, warm feelings, Oh-I-love-you-so-much stuff. But that's not all love is, if that is all a relationship is built on there isn't much left when the inevitable shine wears off and you're left with the reality of living with another person every day.

I think that mature love is a choice, not a feeling. You choose to put the other person first because you love and respect them, not just because it makes you feel good. There's a lot of times you have to choose the other person over your own wants/needs and it DOESN'T feel all that good, but that's what mature love is about, choosing to love. I think a marraige needs both kinds of love, feeling and choice, any other balance makes things really lopsided. The issue here seems to be that the husband doesn't really understand or display the other kind of love, he interacts when/if it is fun for him. I totally understand that frustration. I wish I had an answer for you.

 

My ADD husband says he loves me but...

to him, love is something you feel, not something you do. He makes no connection with actions. My saying "if you love me, you'd try to find a job, and not be content with me being the only one working" or "if you love me, you'd want to have enough food in the house for me to eat" or "if you love me, you'd try to get a job with medical insurance so I don't DIE" just made no sense to him. That, in the end, is what split us up. He could not understand that I needed something from him besides telling me how much he loved me, and how beautiful I am (I'm not, anyway). You can't be yoked to someone who's pulling in the opposite direction, or the cart will fall over....

Mine is like that. He thinks

Mine is like that. He thinks that him telling me he loves me and him feeling he loves me is enough, yet he never shows it in any useful ways. I'm so very done with this marriage. 

If you name it you can deal with it

Love (and financial necessity) is the reason we try to hold families together and work to support the family members.  Love and self respect and integrity (what we think of ourselves) is what a united family strives for.

 

Why not just "do our own thing" and let pieces fall where they may fall and enjoy the moment, not worrying about the future? The future takes care of itself.  As long as there is pleasure and I am taken care of, who cares?  Yeah, I can see that would be a nice way to live.  I lived like that until I realized that a crying baby doesn't take care of itself.  The bills don't get paid by themselves. Food doesn't lay itself prepared on the table.  The home does not look presentable while people are living in it unless someone picks up and cleans. If I want to go out in public and look nice, the clothing doesn't just come to me or stay clean because I have happy thoughts.  A Family does not take care of itself and neither do relationships just magically run smoothly without some effort and care.  And ATTENTION and willingness to be present and awake.

Why did I do it?  Why did I stay married and work so hard even though dh tried at every opportunity to be M.I.A.?  I thought it was the loving thing to do for a family and financially it was a necessity. If you care about something or someone, you CARE for them. You are involved with them and pay attention to them.  And if you love someone you WANT to be a part of its daily life and total success.

 

When dh said "What did you EVER do for ME?" after I compromised my self, my resources, my energy, my pride for him and his uh...I will begin to call it "disability/inability" (the inability to structure thinking process and to determine and focus on what is important to a broader perspective), I realized he has been working from the perspective of "I am in this for my self. That is all I can handle."  I think back and remember him even saying in our young years, "If you don't like it, you know what you can do." when a decision needed to be made and it was my choice to do it his way or else.  Not knowing about ADD all those years, of course I thought it was purely selfishness and laziness...something that I (as his spouse/parent) thought I could teach him to have better habits to BE better.  Yet, he had the audacity to know that he had the inability but yet, would DEMAND that I do as he said.  I, being of the generation that were taught and believed that a good wife submitted to her husband for family unity, was constantly doing things I didn't want to. And I would throw my hands up in defeat many times for decades.  There went my integrity.

Back to Love.  I don't feel like working anymore.  Love fueled my energy to work.  Knowing now that all my work was not even acknowledged, my energies were misplaced.

I can only now find a new reason to work.  A new place to put my energies and focus. A new place for my heart that needs love to feel OK.   I am still on this forum, so it looks like I am not there yet.  Just trying so hard to get out of this prison that is my own judgement of myself.  To figure out what I am so afraid of to make a change and how to go about it.  It is taking me so long to accept and put the thoughts into words about what it is I am doing, what I am dealing with and what I want.

Unconditional love & lack of partnering

In our early years dh would often use this phrase "unconditional love" and also he would say things like:  that we should never go to bed mad....and also that we should just get along.  That has been crazy-making all these years because he would do things or not do things that were negligent, hurtful, unloving, dismissive, sly, embarrassing, financially irresponsible and then imply that the trouble in our relationship was that I was just not a loving person and that I should just "let it go" and "get over it". He has been manipulating me to let him do his own thing and then say I was unlovable if I objected to any of it.  I was permissive and then "stuffing it" to "get along" and "get over it".    Doing his own thing as in: Staying out late at night after work, not coming home when he said he would, denying promises made,  being out with women co-workers after work, spending money we didn't have on sports car and expensive clothes, not managing money for the future, "living by the seat of his pants" - his words, not caring about how I or the kids were doing, not discussing anything, ....living like a single guy with no responsibilities.

Paraphrased from an entry on internet:

Does unconditional love mean staying in an abusive relationship and learning how to love the person despite how he harms you?
The answer to that question is very simple: NO. 
No, no, no, no, no, no, never, never, never,never

"We must love everyone. That is what God asks of us. But some people can only be loved from a safe distance."And in regards to some people, that "safe distance" may mean: Never See Them Again. Never Take Their Calls. Never Let Them Near You. Never Let Them Know Where You Live. We should not close our hearts to anyone, but we must also set healthy and safe boundaries. Don't mistake compassion for compliance. "Put people in jail, if they are unsafe to others, but do not close your hearts to them."

Being a compassionate person does not mean allowing anyone in the world to treat you (or anyone else) abusively. There is nothing to be "learned" in an abusive relationship (except how to finally leave.) There is no emotional growth waiting for you in an abusive relationship. There are no day-to-day lessons that will make you a more enlightened being if you learn how to bear it, how to endure it. You will not be a better person in any way for staying. On the contrary, it will corrode your soul. Staying with somebody who harms you (in any way) does not mean you are compassionate; it only means you are co-dependent and very likely in psychological, spiritual and/or physical danger.

I can no longer ignore my angst and loneliness or keep coping. Although there has been no physical abuse, there is NO energy put out by dh to love or partner or connect with me....only lies. Is lack of partnering in a marriage a form of abuse?  I am realizing that dh does not speak to me AT ALL other than to sometimes say "Goodbye". This has gone on for years.  It is like I am invisible.  When I would try to start a conversation, it would end up in a fight. Sometimes it is like I only exist as his kicking can. He thinks he partners enough.  When I tell him how I see things he "shoots the messenger" (or more likely tries to manipulate the messenger).  My anxiety comes from making myself realize and accept what I have put up with and how my coping mechanisms were VERY good...too good...I have been in denial and distracting myself and rationalizing all these years.

What does it take to have some courage to jump into the abyss of the unknown? I am trying to find my courage and integrity back. He has not been a loving partner. 

Emotional abuse is real

The term abuse is rather inflammatory but being manipulated and treated poorly for decades certainly qualifies. It is hard to get out of our ruts and strike out on our own but it is possible. I'd recommend finding a good therapist that can help deal with the anxiety. You can interview several until you find one that's for you. Chunk up the overwhelming process into pieces and address them steadily: where to live, splitting finances, etc. Consult a divorce lawyer re formal separation. You will feel stronger with every step you make. It is hard but remember you have been strong enough to survive the last 38 years with an anchor trying to drag you down, you are certainly strong enough to survive without the anchor.