ADD and Marriage: Controlling Your Spouse's Life

When I got married, I think I misread the marriage license.  I could swear that in the small type on that document I saw the words “this license lets you control your husband’s life from now on!”  I must have needed glasses because boy, was I wrong!  But (and I say this affectionately) how many other women do you know who made the same mistake?!

I used to think that my husband (that guy with the ADHD!) changed after we got married.  And to be fair, he did.  He stopped hyperfocusing on me – I went from being “queen for a day” to being, well, chopped liver in about the amount of time it took us to complete our honeymoon.  In my complete confusion over this change of events I didn’t take into account that I had changed, too.  What is it about tying the knot that suddenly made me so demanding?  Don’t get me wrong – my husband knew I was strong willed – he just didn’t know I was THAT strong willed!

This is not an ADD/non-ADD thing, per se.  It is the reality of realizing that you are supposed to be with this person who has those annoying habits for the rest of your life!!!   Wow!  Those shaving clippings in the sink in the morning seem a lot more annoying when you think you might have to put up with them every day for the next 50 years!  Why suffer?  Better to “get rid” of that habit (and all the rest of the ones that you are seeing with fresh eyes) now!!!  A little nagging should do the trick…

We’ve had several younger and newly married couples write about how badly they feel about their new spouse and marriage, suggesting ADD is the culprit.  ADD is likely contributing to their issues, and that's what this blog is all about, but I would encourage newlyweds to also consider the subtle pressure that the words “the rest of your life” put on you as they rumble around in the back of your head.  Problems seem super-sized when tagged with “forever”!

I can look back now and laugh at the time that I screamed, full-throttle, at my husband for spewing grass clippings into my just-worked-on flower beds.  (Even better, he can laugh at it, too.)  It wasn’t one of my best moments.  With more perspective, I would have seen that it also wasn't that big a deal.  On a more serious note, I can, and do, look back with regret at the amount of time that I spent trying to create my husband into someone he isn’t, by trying to “fix” his ADHD symptom foibles.  The harder I tried to fix him, the worse he became, and I don’t blame him.  I bristle when people try to “fix” me, too.

The big lesson out of all of this is that accepting him, rather than trying to fix him, cleared the way for the two of us to constructively work on our relationship.  He stopped hearing the message “you are broken and need fixing” and started to hear the message “I want for us to be a real couple again.”  By accepting him, I set both of us free.  I set him free to try new things and not fear failure.  To be happy with himself and to love me again, rather than wonder when I would next attack him or whether he would ever be "good enough" for me.

For those of you who think that women like to be nags, I beg to differ.  Though I had trouble controlling it because I couldn’t think imaginatively enough to find a better solution to my marital woes, I found nagging to be depressing.  I came to really dislike myself before I decided to stop.  In fact, the single biggest reason that I decided to stop was because I so disliked the person I had become.  I was so miserable that I decided that it didn't matter if my marriage fell apart - first and foremost I wanted to be my happy self again.  My husband falling in love with me again was a side-benefit (a big one!) to my refinding who I really was.

I guess I finally figured out what the small print on that wedding license really said...and all of the surprising benefits that those words held..they didn't say "control", they said "to have and to hold" love, cherish and respect.