ADD & Marriage: Non-ADD Spouses Who “Give Too Much”

It seems as if a lot of non-ADD spouses at this site have been bending over backwards to accommodate their ADD spouse’s issues, often finding that doing so is exhausting and making them angry and miserable.  I would like to suggest that while negotiating how to meet somewhere in the middle is a part of all marriages, many non-ADD spouses are giving (and giving in) way too much.  Let me explain –

Here’s the pattern:  You fall in love and everything is happy and energetic.  You get married and your ADD husband suddenly seems to lose interest.  He stops helping out, so you pick up the pieces – happily at first.  Perhaps he spends too much money.  Perhaps he doesn’t pay enough attention to you, your kids or what he’s supposed to be doing for the family (too distracted).  Whatever the trigger, you start to take on more and more of the responsibility.  After a while the burden of all that extra work and that extra responsibility makes you feel as if you can’t take it any more.

Worst of all, there seems no way out.  If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed either your ADD spouse is trying and making little progress, or he is not trying and telling you that it’s not his fault or he doesn’t wish to seek treatment.  Either way, you’ve come to realize that continuing in the same direction is unsustainable for you personally and for your marriage.

You secretly hope that if you “push” harder he’ll be inspired to try harder.  Or that if he would only start taking medications all will change for the better.  The first won’t work at all (at least not for the long-term – it might work temporarily for the short term).  The second could be a start for improvements, if it is accompanied by behavioral changes.  Medications alone don’t effectively treat ADHD issues.  But you can’t make those changes – only your spouse can.  Which means that you aren’t in control.

Part of the hopelessness that many non-ADD spouses feel is that it feels as if no matter what they do, they aren’t in control of their fates.  They push, they try, they give more, they give up things they care for…and still nothing changes!

I will argue that you ARE in control of your fate – and that one of the things that you need to do first is to stop giving too much.  Or, more accurately, start giving to your relationship in a way that is healthy for you.  And that means no more putting yourself into a position in which you just can’t take it anymore.  You need to take  care of yourself!  At an extreme, this means that if your spouse is truly incapable of change then you may choose to leave the marriage for the sake of your own health.

What do I mean by giving too much?  Read the forum at this site to see example after example of women (primarily) who are giving, and bending, and giving, and bending, and who are ready to tear their hair out.  They need protection, and the only person who can give them that protection is themselves.  They need to set up boundaries (see other blog post on this in favorites section) that let them live their life in a way that is satisfying to them – whatever that means.

But how, you might ask, can I detach myself from someone I love who is having so much trouble?  Shouldn’t I try to help him, particularly if I can see what he needs?  And how about those consequences which are so dire for me – like he’s financially irresponsible or not helpful with the kids?

Help comes in many forms, and one of the most loving forms of help is giving people the freedom to allow them to learn to care for themselves better.  Your spouse will never do this as long as you keep stepping in to fix whatever problem he may have created or finish the work he has left undone.  People with ADHD can take care of themselves, particularly if sufficiently internally motivated to do so.  How they do it might be a bit foreign to you, but that is part of how they are different.

I’m well aware that things that in marriage there are many things that, left undone, are potentially harmful to you.  Bill paying comes to mind, as do major home renovations, etc.  But in the long run, as difficult as it may seem, the only way to get your relationship in order is to leave your spouse to learn those skills that are necessary for the survival of your relationship (however the two of you define this).  If he can’t take responsibility for the really important items over the long haul, then your relationship simply won’t survive, no matter how much you wish it could.  And you’ll spend a whole lot of miserable years trying to patch up the holes before your realize this.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t cherry pick a few very important tasks to take over.  Your financial health, at least while you are married, is as much your personal concern as it is a joint one.  If you are worried he can’t pay bills or will ruin your credit rating, then you need to proactively take that over – for the results of not doing so are too damaging to you personally.  But for the most part, you need to do what’s most important to making you happy, and let him struggle with his demons.  You can’t “save” him.

I came across this topic in a book I was reading the other day called “Living with ADD When You’re Not the One Who Has It” by Mimi Handlin.  A guest author (Wayland Myers, Ph.D.) writes about the idea of “Loving Detachment”.  He says he considers himself lovingly detached when:  “I am willing and able to compassionately, and without judgment, allow others to be different from me, to be self-directed, and to be responsible for taking care of themselves.”

He goes on to say that one of the great benefits of “loving detachment” is actually the lifting of the strain of attempting the impossible – in this case lifting the strain of trying to change or control someone else’s behavior.  An additional benefit is that your energy and attention – previously spent on trying to improve the life of another – can now be turned towards yourself in a productive and satisfying way.

I am not suggesting that you abandon your spouse – far from it.  But I am strongly recommending that as you evaluate whether or not the actions you take to “help” are in your – and his - best interests in the long run.  If you are taking over responsibilities that ought to be his and you don’t like (or feel good about) doing this work, then the more loving approach for you both might well be letting your spouse experience the natural consequence of his behavior.  The mistake many non-ADD spouses make is to assume the only option they have is to take over these responsibilties (I made the same mistake for years - it leads only downhill if you're not happy with what you're doing).

Myers makes some interesting points about which you should be aware:

  • You should always choose a course of action which is the one which you feel YOU can live with best in the long run (remember that continuing in an unsustainable direction isn’t one of those).  Ultimately you are responsible for your life.  Again, think about where your boundaries are as you wrestle with what will sometimes be the difficult decisions you will need to make about where to stop helping.
  • The best consequences for your spouse to experience are those that are “natural” to a situation, not consequences that you create for him.  For example, if the consequence of not doing something is that you nag or pressure him, then that is not a natural consequence because nagging is an option in life, not a necessity.

My own experience was that I tried for many years to change my husband and try to get him to fit into a mold of what I thought would make a better husband.  It never worked, and the harder I try, the harder he resisted (becoming an even worse husband!).  I did nag and berate him, feeling as if it was the only option I had.  Except that it wasn't the "natural" option - thus my husband (correctly) honed in on my nagging him as being my "fault" and therefore something he could dismiss.  Finally, too burned out to do anything else and confronted with a marital crisis and the realization that we simply could not continue as we had been going, I detached myself in a loving but firm way.  I required that my husband start to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions, and simultaneously I started taking responsibility only for myself.  I stopped ALL nagging, berating and controlling actions.  We were both very caring during the process, and very open with each other, just simply unwilling to continue down the path we were on.  Within two weeks we had a road map for our marital recovery.

I am not suggesting that your turn around will be so quick, only that “loving detachment” is the only path I’ve seen so far that can get you out of that deep, hopeless black hole of “I can’t take it anymore”.  Your marriage may end up thriving, as mine did, end in divorce, or improve to a “tolerable” point.  Be assured, though, you’ll end up with greater peace and improved mental health because you will no longer be pursuing the impossible by “giving too much”.


Spouses Who Give Too Much

Wow!  I didn't know someone could put into words what my life has been like to for the last 23 plus years.  Until our daughter was diagnosed with ADD almost 7 years ago, I just thought my husband was inconsiderate and selfish up to that point.  But knowing that there is a reason for his behavior still doesn't make it any easier to cope with it.  I'm exhausted, mentally and emotionally.  I started my "loving detachment" quite a few years ago and it did indeed provide me with relief.  The only problem with it, is in letting my husband make his mistakes, when they turn into problems he has to deal with, he blames me for them.  It's the damned if I do, damned if I don't scenario.  His ADHD has, financially, lead us down some pretty treacherous paths, that were beyond my control, that wouldn't have happened if I had the ability to have managed them, but that now I have to live with.  I have learned to set it aside for the most part and he has risen to the occasion to deal with these issues now, but it was only because the worst possible outcome happened and he finally stood up to face it.

My exhaustion is also our ADD daughter who is now 17 and where she is at in her life.  I have used every tool available to me to help her learn "tricks" to deal with her ADD over the years and maybe some of them have worked, I just don't know.  But she is at the place now, I've been at with her father.  How do I "lovingly detach" from my almost college age child?  At what point should I do that?  She is so bright and gifted (college entrance exam scores in 98th percentile for the country), and is hoping to go to a good college.  In trying to help her with her college process, to get her to see the importance of staying on top of her grades (AP English grades were all A's with F's from work not turned in scattered throughout), and setting up a timeline list of when to do what in the search and application process.  If I don't do it for her, she will, more than likely, not get in where she wants to go.  Do I let her fail and suffer the consequences that are this big at her age?  How do I manage this for someone on the cusp of adulthood?  I know it is all on me as my husband can barely cope with his own life, much less have anything to offer his daughters in the way of assistance.  I fear I may be putting my frustrations on my ADD daughter that belong to my husband, but I'm just so completely fried from my relationship with him, it seems I have little patience now for my child in a milestone in her life.

So, I guess my question is, when do I let go of my daughter?

Letting Go of College Age Child

I helped keep my daughter on track during her college apps, and it did help her.  I sat down with her to create timetables and deadlines, did the scheduling of college visits, sat down with her to review web sites (not reviewing with her, but getting her to sit down and do it while I was nearby to make sure it happened), helped her brainstorm topics for her application essays, signed her up for the right tests, got the slides done of her portfolio.  There are too many deadlines and too much work involved in college apps not to stay on top of it.  Also, make sure that your child has a strong first draft of the common app essay done during the summer before senior year, as well as a preliminary list of colleges in which she is interested.  There is lots of pressure that first semester senior year, and many things to do, so that essay needs to be close to finished (college counselor may wish to review and offer suggestions in the fall).

That said, the move from high school to college is a treacherous one.  Stay on top of the college app process, but do start to help her take on other responsibilities.  She should be doing her own laundry, helping with the cooking, picking up her own sundries at the pharmacy as needed, be responsible for her studies without your scheduling her or reminding her.  If she doesn't have a system in place for organizing herself around her studies when she goes off to college she risks losing control, and quickly, in the unstructured college environment.  So, it's REALLY important that she start to behave as her own individual in controlling her life during her last year or two of high school.

You'll also want to talk with her about how she wants to handle any learning disabilities in the app process.  My daughter was out front about her learning issues (in fact in one interview was giving advice to the interviewer about his recently diagnosed ADD) but some aren't comfortable with that.  Have her think through this issue so that she handles it in a way that makes her comfortable.

let me know if this is the info you were looking for.


Great read!!!!!!! I

Great read!!!!!!!

I began detaching myself in a loving but firm way, also, after your suggestion of this, in another forum topic. It was like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.  I have experienced that greater peace and improved mental health.  My husband realizes now, he is the only one responsible for his actions and nobody else.  While he may have a tough time with that realization (always blamed somebody else for his actions), I hope it will help him to make better, smarter decisions, the rest of his life.          

choosing a course of action

"You should always choose a course of action which is the one which you feel YOU can live with best in the long run (remember that continuing in an unsustainable direction isn’t one of those).  Ultimately you are responsible for your life.  Again, think about where your boundaries are as you wrestle with what will sometimes be the difficult decisions you will need to make about where to stop helping."

Melissa your so right on this. The decision to change my course of life instead of living in a unsustanable atmosphere where I felt like I was choking. You know I have been seperated since january and have learned alot. My husband has a addictive beheavior which I'am learning is not due to his Adhd. He goes in cycles and when he is stressed he tends to start drinking, smoking pot, taking meds etc.. through the years. He has stopped drinking for now only because he is living at a place that won't tolerate it. he is so explosive and I can't even talk to him without him raising his voice. He will come to get the kids and is very nonchanlante to me turn around when he see the kids and starts talking all nice. But if the kids do someting he doesn't like Ex; my son got cut on the finger on accident by another student. They both didn't see pencil. My husband stood there and started reaming my son about why did you so that,Blahh blahh. I told my son dad yell at you about that? He just shrugged and told me that he wasn't yelling mom thats just his usual response to things. Another time  My son was not listening to me and I asked my husband for help. He ended up belittling me and yelling at my about all the things i"am doing wrong. My son told me  mom why do you even bother telling him!  he was reaming and lectering my son badly.

He gets in this mode that is exhausting because he uses everything against me and is so unreasonable. My counselor thinks he may have a personality disorder.Can you give me any info on that? I know that personality disorders can run with Adhd. He is now talking to a lawyer and won't sign the seperation papers because he told me he wants to have the final decision wether the kids should go to the doc's. He thinks that I take the kids to the doc's too much. I ask him how? he starts using things from years ago when the kids where very little. Well when they are toddlers its hard to know sometimes so you take them in. 

 He came by last night and wanted me to sign this paper of all the payments he has made to me. I told him before I sign the paper that I need to look up what he paid me and I 'll get back to him. He then told me he won't be paying childsupport and also that he is turning my phone off . he told me all this with a underlying sneer. I told him if he is choosing to do all this that he can't see the kids. (Not what I want to do) He is putting me in a position of him having power and knowing I'am not working and can't afford a lawyer. I told him that I had to pay about 150.00 dollars in bounced check fees when he took all the money in the bank and my sons cap and gown payment bounced. He blew up and was yelling at me did my money go to pay for that huh I want to know!!!. I told him I took care of it.He at times just comes over without calling. I told him not to that he makes me feel so uncomfortable he is beyond being a jerk. I think he is thinking all this stuff which in the long run gets him in trouble because of the lack of judgement. I started to feel the sign of a anxiety attack coming on however I saw it and didn't let it start up. He also wants to sell the house which really we can't afford, but I'am worried about my Adhd/Odd son. He is use to his routine and a big change like moving I know will really effect him.There is much more, sorry to ramble.Sorry about writting errors. I wanted to give some examples of what he does. I do think he has personality disorder from what I read about it. any advice?

You should contact your local

You should contact your local department of Social Services - you may be eligible for free or low-cost legal representation. He's steamrolling you right now, and having an attorney to back you up will help. Having ADHD doesn't give him license to act like a jerk. Your son is learning from watching you...and his father. You can't control his father, but you can control you. Having ADHD myself, I can appreciate your concern for maintaining your son's routine. As a social worker, I can suggest that in regard to your living situation, health and safety trump routine every time. I've had to learn and adapt to new routines, and I believe your son can, too. If your son is at risk in some way (such as becoming homeless if you lose the house, or the house falling into serious disrepair, etc.), find someplace safer. If your son doesn't already, try to get him some support to help him deal with what's going on at home - counseling, etc. If his diagnoses qualify him as a student with a disability, you could get an IEP in place so his school work doesn't suffer.

Thanks for the advice. I'am

Thanks for the advice. I'am not being thrown out of my house, but we are going to have to sell it. Which bites because my younger kids have lived here all their lives. Anyway he finaly paid child support again because I told him he couldn't see the children until he did. So he got freaked. my kids see a family counselor and my son is doing fine. Actually hes doing better since my husband is out of the house. my husband is being a jerk to me, but he loves his kids. Hes hurt and upset that he isn't living with us so thats hard for him. my children and I have a lot of support from our church which I'am grateful son is in good health and is happy its just hard to move. and your right having Adhd doesn't give you a license to be a jerk. thanks.

Melissa,This is the key to so

This is the key to so many problems in marriage whether ADD driven or not.  I have practiced loving detachment with my 4 grown children since they were teenagers and began to venture into their own decision making.  It was not easy for them or me but it was the best thing I could do to maintain a good relationship with them and allow them to try their wings.  It wasn't easy for them to venture out into unknown territory, but they always knew that loving detachment also meant I would be there to guide them not enable them to continue to repeat the same mistakes.

I am so incredibly grateful to you for the wisdom you share here.  I am often tempted to rescue my ADD friend, but I stop myself and realize that doing things for him is not loving him.  I also think it is imperative that non-ADD partners really look inward and discover what they want and form a plan to get it.  It was very easy for me to get caught up taking care of others and not take care of myself.  During my long marraige I eventually crashed and burned and I am just now realizing the power that loving detachment could have had.  I don't know why I was able to apply this principle naturally to my own children but not to the non ADD man I divorced. 

I also fear more than anything that I will repeat my caretaking at my own expense.  Could you share how you were able to consistently wean yourself from this behavior?  I believe it is the "cure" for the hurting women here, but we don't exactly know how to apply it consistently.   it is not easy to change deeply ingrained behaviors and we could use some suggestions how to recognize, stop and change our behavior.


changing caretaking habits

let me noodle on this question a bit and answer it more fully as a blog post, for it is an issue for many.

Need help finding good doctor


I have struggled with the things you wrote about for my 9 year marriage. A friend of my husband finally sat us down and said that he thought my husband Bryan has ADD as this friend had struggled with it for years as well. We both are relieved to finally put a name to what has seemed to be dragging my husband down his whole life. He actually is eager to see a doctor so we randomly picked out a doctor in the area and he was horrible! Didn't ask him a single personal question - just gave him a test and said that because Bryan doesn't fidget while talking he didn't think he had it. We would like to find a good doctor but don't want to risk another 'random' pick. We live in Portland, OR. Is there a resource for good ADD doctors that you can send me?

thanks so much!


Resources in Portland

Cynthia Hammer used to run ADDresources and is now a coach in the Tacoma area.  She has TONS of experience with ADD and has lived in that area for a while so should be able to help you find a good person.  go to this link for contact and bio info.


thank you!

thank you so much! I appreciate the information!

What can I do?

What do you do in a situation where your husband cannot keep jobs though?  I have had problems in my 3 years of marriage dealing with how much I give and give too.  However, although I'm not 100% relieved of this burden, I feel like I have learned to deal with it better.  We went to a counselor and he said that I just need to change my attitude about the things I do.  He said that he understood that I choose to do things like pay the bills, be in charge or our budget, set up dr. appointments, etc. because I am probably better suited for those things considering my husband's ADHD.  However, I did CHOOSE to do those things nevertheless.  I took that advice and it made sense to me.  I have tried to choose my battles and my husband and I both know I am better at handling our finances, etc, so at least we agree on that.  I may not have known exactly what I was getting myself into when I said "I do", but I love my husband with all my heart and I have to love him for who he is.  The problem I have is that in the 3 years we have been married, he has probably only had jobs for 1 year total (if I add up all of the few months here and there at various places).  He is on 3 different medications for his ADHD because he has a lot of issues with it and one of his medications is also prescribed because the doctor feels that he may also have Asperger's Syndrome.  He is fine with taking his medication and most of the time, he is pretty good about taking it twice a day like he is supposed to.  So we don't have a problem there.  In the past, he has quit a lot of jobs impulsively (pre-medication), but now he has a problem with getting fired because "he is not the right person for the job".  He is a sweetheart and tries really hard, but seems to have a problem with understanding what his managers want I guess, and they don't understand him so it doesn't help.  He has been in different kinds of jobs, but he never seems to find a good fit.  It seems like other people who have husbands that can't hold jobs, it is because the husband won't take his medicine or something.  I just don't know what to do because I don't make enough money to support myself, my husband and our 2 year old daughter on my own.  He is looking for another job once again, but I kind of figure "what's the point?"  I just have been throught this so many times that I figure he will be there a month or two and I will be back in this same situation.  Is there any advice for someone in my predicament??

finding a job

Your hopelessness is getting in your way and in your husband's way.  The point of his trying again is what you refer to earlier - you can't make enough money to support you all.  He has to find employment that he can hold that brings in satisfactory money.  It may be that it needs to be in a different area, though.  Perhaps he should do a career assessment - the Hallowell Center outside of Boston offers these (978-287-0810 ask for Robin Roman Wright) and there are books that can help him think through options, such as "What Color is Your Parachute?".

While he is working through this, it may be time for you to get the help of a support group or some such so that you aren't dealing with the burden of all of this alone.

ADD and Asperger

Hello, I am new here. While trying to find a support group for non-ADD spouses, I came across this messsage and it instantly resonated with my situation. My husband was diagnosed with ADD two years ago, as well as symptoms of Asperger syndrome. (on the autism spectrum) Between the two, there are similar issues from both that have affected our relationship -- he has not been able to keep a job for longer than a year, is frequently forgetful, distracted, chronically late, has a lack of understanding or 'empathy' of how this causes much stress in our relationship. I love him very much, but I too have found myself over-compensating and sacrificing a lot of myself to 'pick up the slack', emotionally (which takes a huge toll on me physically, especially with two young babies and two older sons to care for) and financially, when he loses a job. Before the diagnosis, it was very difficult and I thought it was due to him being lazy and uncaring. After much reading, many specialists and finally a diagnosis, the way that I (and he) see things has been an eye-opener. My husband is starting to understand that having ADD does not give him a free pass or excuse to do the things he does, or neglects to do -- but it does enable him to try extra hard because he is more aware of the things that hold him back. (eg. being distracted by something on TV instead of watching his time to get to an appointment on time) He really does try so hard, and I'm sure his self-esteem has taken a beating over the years from going from job-to-job, a previous divorce (again, prior diagnosis - I understand his ex went through the same frustrations that I did). He is also on medication for depression, as well as ADD and if he takes it consistently, we sometimes have a run of days where things seem to go well ... Please immediately seek the help of a marriage counsellor who specializes in ADD/Asperger... anyone otherwise would not understand the uniqueness of the perspective/thinking process of someone who has ADD/Asperger. Having children to support on one income and the feeling of hopelessness that you feel that things will not get better because your husband cannot keep a job, is too much for you to bear alone. Enlist the help of family members who are supportive and understand your husband's difficulty ... babysitting, a date night out, anything to ease your burden. Your husband would also benefit from a career centre that specifically helps people who have mental disabilities, to learn things such as how to cope in the workplace, social situations, and most likely a different type of career that would better suit his strengths and talents and give him the confidence he needs to keep trying. Above all, take care of yourself because your child(ren) need you. Find a local support group in your area for spouses. You sound like a loving, compassionate wife and you are lucky to have a husband does not seem to be in denial ... someone who realizes there is a problem, and wants to change things for the sake of his family. You can't change the nature of the Beast, but with understanding it and focusing on the things that you CAN do, will give you both hope. The advice and the articles that I have read here are a God-send. Good luck to you ... :)

ADD and Asperger

Hello, I too, am new here.  While trying to find a support group for non-ADD spouses, I came across this messsage and it instantly resonated with my situation.

My husband was diagnosed with ADD two years ago, as well as symptoms of Asperger syndrome. (high functioning on the autism spectrum)   Between the two, there are similar issues from both that have affected our relationship -- he has not been able to keep a job for longer than a year, is frequently forgetful, distracted, chronically late, has a lack of understanding or 'empathy' of how this causes much stress in our relationship. 

I love him very much, (his good qualities includes a kind, loving and generous to a fault nature) but I too have found myself over-compensating and sacrificing a lot of myself to 'pick up the slack', emotionally (which takes a huge toll on me physically, especially with two young babies and two older sons to care for) and financially, when he loses a job.   Before the diagnosis, it was very difficult and I thought it was due to him being lazy and uncaring.   After much reading, many specialists and finally a diagnosis, the way that I (and he) see things has been an eye-opener.   My husband is starting to understand that having ADD does not give him a free pass or excuse to do the things he does, or neglects to do -- but it does enable him to try extra hard because he is more aware of the things that hold him back. (eg. being distracted by something on TV instead of watching his time to get to an appointment on time)   He really does try so hard, and I'm sure his self-esteem has taken a beating over the years from going from job-to-job, a previous divorce (again, prior diagnosis -  I understand his ex went through the same frustrations that I did).   He is also on medication for depression, and takes Concerta for the ADD and if he remembers to take both consistently, we sometimes have a run of days where things seem to go better than hoped ...

Please immediately seek the help of a marriage counsellor who specializes in ADD/Asperger... anyone otherwise would not understand the uniqueness of the perspective/thinking process of someone who has ADD/Asperger.   If you are lucky to find any, you may have to try a few before finding one that is the best "fit" for you.

Having children to support on one income and the feeling of hopelessness when you feel that things will not get better if your husband cannot keep a job, is too much for you to bear alone.   Enlist the help of family members who are supportive and understand your husband's difficulty ... babysitting, a date night out, anything to ease your burden.  Your husband would also benefit from a career centre that specifically helps people who have mental disabilities, to learn things such as how to cope in the workplace, social situations, and most likely a different type of career that would better suit his strengths and talents and give him the confidence he needs to keep trying.

Above all, take care of yourself first.   Find a local support group in your area for non-ADD spouses.   You sound like a loving, compassionate wife and you are lucky to have a husband who does not seem to be in denial ... someone who realizes there is a problem, and wants to change things for the sake of his family.   You can't change the nature of the Beast, but with understanding it and focusing on the things that you CAN do, will give you both hope.   Perhaps understanding this will also help you decide what is best for you and for your child.    The advice and the articles that I have read here are a God-send.  Good luck to you ...  :)

Know your own limits with loving detachment

I completely agree that loving detachment can create an atmosphere that enables your spouse with ADD to assume responsibility for fulfilling his committments.  I would, however, exercise caution when determining which committments to start with.  For this to work for both people in the marriage, you have to make sure that you know which committments you are okay with allowing to go unfulfilled and which ones are dealbreakers...then cut your teeth on the things which are not going to make the situation worse. 

The first time I let something go, I decided to start small and let my husband manage the incoming mail addressed directly to him or occupant.  This meant filing new bills where they get paid, shredding junk mail with personal info on it, and throwing generic junk mail into the recycling bin.  I thought that I could insulate myself from any consequences by handling the mail addressed to me and only leaving his mail for him.  What I ended up with was an unmanageable mess...multiple piles of opened and unopened mail, torn envelopes, magazines and samples that began to take over every available surface of my home. Since my husband had no problem living amidst the disorder, I caved before he took any action. 

So, lesson learned....pick your battles.  Know what you can live with, or, more importantly, what you can't.  To achieve success using loving detachment means that you can't just give the appearance of detachment.  You really have to be able to let go on all levels, and calmly accept the consequences of your detachment.

I feel so DEFEATED

I am new here and actually found my way here this morning because I feel like a complete and utter failure.  Nevermind the fact I have a graduate degree, a fantastic job, and I am successful in my own career---I cannot make my home life work no matter how HARD I have tried.  My four year old is parenting his Dad because his Dad cannot pay attention long enough to focus on anything.  I gave up long ago on the fact he no longer has a libido whatsoever-and everything is my fault...I am stressed, exhausted, and emotionally drained.  I no longer want to live like this.  My husband loves to have a  meeting of the minds with a four year old and I play referee-on friday, my poor little guy was late to his special day of prek graduation because his Dad wanted to do things his way.  My husband does not see that his behavior is the cause and etiology of my sons reactions.  My spouse is now taken to spanking him when my son acts out in response to his Dads behavior which makes me so upset.  It is a few swats on the but with his hand nothing abusive but I do not believe in it whatsoever and I find it doesn't change my little guy's behavior at all.  I feel like a complete and utter failure.  The major issue for me is also guilt because I do not think he could survive on his own he has ADD that severely.  He is overall a great loving Dad to the best of his ability and spends time with my son when not entrenched in the TV...his downtime is KEY...however, there is nothing left for me at the end of the day and I am lonely, sad, and ultimately defeated.  Everything I have tried does not work and I am ready to hear suggestions for help before filing for divorce.

Hey Danielle, I'm new here

Hey Danielle, I'm new here too and this is my first post. You are not defeated. Drained, maybe but you still have choices and decisions to make. I have been with an ADD man for almost 30 years and everything I've tried didn't work until just a few years ago he figured out he needed help. The medication (a combination of Concerta and antidepressants) is not enough and it seems like too little too late. Personal convictions, two kids and the inability to support myself have kept me trapped in this situation and it hasn't gotten any easier. I can only speak from my own experience and in hindsight, I wish I would of done whatever it took to move on when the kids were young. It may have been tough but I might have at least gotten some sense of personal satisfaction and a chance at a more fulfilling relationship. Without good councel and a strong church family, I don't know how these kinds of relationships can be succesful. Both partners need to be committed to working together and I had more energy for that when I was younger. After all these years of struggling on my own, I'm sure I could be pretty content on my own. Please do take care of yourself, I wish I could be more encouraging.

Hi Donna I do have choices I

Hi Donna

I do have choices I need to make.  My husband makes me feel like crap most of the time...I do love him but I cannot live with the ADD anymore...I honestly need to find better coping mechanisms or I need to leave him as I truly am totally drained by him and I do not have the ability to cope anymore.  I agree that the though of a more fulfilling relationship sounds awfully promising...and you know, it is never too late :) Thanks.


Hi Danielle,  I came here after being directed to a Dr. Phil episode just by coincidence, after I told a friend that "I'm not giving in...I'm giving up" in response to what I saw as a miniscule positive movement on this road that is my marriage.  I have joked when my husbands friends and family say I was God's blessing to him and my response is he was my punishment.  I married him just a little over 2 years ago and on the surface he was a sweet, sensitive and loving person.  Now I'm learning about adult ADD.  What I have come to find out is that he is better at dating than life.  Dating is in the moment...which I am learning how ADD adults live.  I have in my career, taught organizational skills in a corporate environment yet my life with him felt completely out of control.  I am learning what I can about ADD and have picked up some very interesting advice from this site.  I have seen some interesting perspectives here, most of which places alot of responsibility on the non ADD spouse.  My husband raised his children mostly on his own because his wife was an alcoholic.  They do not understand his ADD they have seen him mostly as a control freak.  I find it very strange that he has no self control yet trys to control everyone else around him.  It seems to me to be his way of handling his ADD and the responsibility to his children and perhaps he even thinks everyone is like him - can't remember anything unless someone constantly reminding them.  He is obsessive about lists and constantly asking..."Did you remember to do such and such"  He even has a favorite shirt that reads "Take my advice...I'm not using it".  It is funny when you say these things out loud but not so funny when you play a part in this show.  I think that you should try to come to some agreement about the spanking-since ADD is about impulse behavior-talk to him about an alternative to spanking.  My grown son will tell you that spanking did no good because he just tuned out yelling and spanking and harbored a resentment that lasted a liftime and I'm sure your husband doesn't want his son to go down that path.  I am trying to not only have a NOW relationship with my husband but he has issues with nearly everyone in his life as a result of a lifetime of undiagnosed ADD.  Before meeting my husband I was single for 6 years and I was lonely and sad.  I began making friends through my church and then met my husband.  Even though my husband has these issues I have to make time for myself, as should you - you also need down time, a time when it's all about you. Good Luck to you.

Too Much Detachment?

Hi Melissa,

I’m definitely in the category of spending years giving too much.  All of my “help” was initially done to “protect” critical aspects of our relationship, AND so that I could feel secure both financially and emotionally; I felt had to do things to protect my husband AND myself.  I learned over time that a lot of what I was doing was trying to control aspects of our marriage (and my husband) that I didn’t really need to control and these efforts were making me miserable in the process.  So I have spent many years backing off of managing his life; I have worked hard at this, and have been successful.  And it’s not easy to feel that I am abandoning him to forces and situations that are fairly easy for me to manage .  I was caught in co-dependence and have found that letting him do things “his way” even if he fails, it’s still his way.  A big HOWEVER, here – his choices still have a major effect on my life.  And that is hard to swallow and compromise on with many things.

While letting go, and detaching has been helpful in reducing my stress around many things, I have found that detaching from him has created less connection and we share less today than we used to.  My husband doesn’t seem to notice this, or if he notices, doesn’t seem to be affected by it.  And he continues to make choices that contradict the “deal breakers” that I have told him (in the last year) that I won’t compromise on.  I have read a lot of your posts.  And I have given up a lot of my needs that I would say are my “wants” and honed down to my core needs.  I have expressed these to him, and asked him to meet me half way and tell me what his core needs are – but he’s not able to evaluate himself in the same way, and frankly never slows himself down enough to focus on who he is and what he truly wants.  It’s much easier for him to agree with my core values than it is to examine himself (and I know, to a large degree, he does hold some of the same, or likes to think he does).

My husband and I started therapy about 4 years ago when I finally couldn’t take his ADD anymore.  He was undiagnosed (but I suspected he had it as I have family members who have it).  The therapist diagnosed him and he started taking medication (though taking it was sporadic, and finding the right meds is a whole other topic).   Through therapy, I have been able to be articulate and be clear with him about what is vitally important to me.  He has struggled with being able to discover, understand and express his core needs to me.  Basically he says his core values are mine, and that he wants the same things I want, but he turns around and violates these, and then says he’s trying to change, but it takes time.   I realize it takes time, and I have been patient and worked on myself, and learned to control him less, and I have “let go” and compromised on things that I could accept as less important to control.

I started out in our marriage (10 years ago) NEVER merging our finances.  This was a decision I made due to an intense custody battle he was in (and I knew her lawyer was going to try to attach my $$), but also due to the knowledge I had about him that he had a horrible credit rating (car repossessions, etc) an inability to manage his finances,  and a difficult time staying consistently employed.  I just didn’t want to be at the mercy of the way he manages (or doesn’t from my perspective) his finances.  I used to bail him out by “loaning money” to him, or paying him to work on the house, or just coving some of his expenses.  I have recently taken to have him sign loan promissory notes with repayment schedules, but he hasn’t kept to a payment schedule.  So I stopped loaning him money.  Every month I think he won’t make his payments, but somehow he squeaks by.  He manages to pays his share of rent, etc. but it’s always a nail-biter (for me).  For me, there is no future in that, as we can never “share” vacations, dinners out, etc. and when I have paid for trips etc, he acts like it’s expected because we’re married – and he somehow thinks that his fun-loving, joie de vivre makes up for his lack of financial contribution and wonders why I worry so much about it if I can afford it anyway.  Frankly, I’m not his sugar mama and don’t want to be.  I’d like a little thrown my way now and then.  So now it’s pay your own way on everything.  But since he can’t manage his money we rarely do anything that costs money outside of renting a movie now and then.

My difficulty is that I have “lovingly detached” over the last 4 years.  I have not managed his bank account for over 2 years (and he’s over-drawn at least once a month on average since then), I don’t manage his schedule with his children, I don’t manage his (self employed) work schedule and have expressed and drawn boundaries around my core needs.  He doesn’t pay taxes (ultimately I am responsible for his taxes even though we don’t merge finances), he doesn’t make enough money to cover anything more than the barest minimum, he can’t keep to a schedule, he lies about where he has been and is going, etc.  I try to choose my battles, and I’ve tried to be accepting that he seems to be trying to learn skills that he’s never had or has never seen modeled (like honesty) by his family.  And he pulls it together now and then to make it feel possible (but this never lasts more than 3 weeks or so). Our most recent therapist (who we stopped going to because my husband wouldn’t keep up with his end of “homework” and wouldn’t pay for his share) told him numerous times that he doesn’t behave as if he’s married or wants to be married.  My husband even agreed with this, and said he was working on changing it, but it takes time.  He agreed to go to an ADD coach as his “share” of the therapy.  And he did for 3 weeks, but the ADD coach was so ADD herself that she kept missing appointments or forgetting etc.  (Frankly, I thought he would be able to translate the frustration he had with her into his own life and see what it felt like to have to put up with that kind of behavior, but the experience didn’t stick to him – he just doesn’t grasp how bad he has ADD or how he effects others.  I even thought it was a strategy of hers (but it wasn't))

His idea of “planning” a date together is to come home on Friday after work and ask me at 8:00pm if I want to go to a movie.  Then, when I don’t, he complains that I’m not flexible or spontaneous enough.  By the way, I run my own business, am getting a master’s degree and have a really BUSY schedule.  I like to plan, I can be spontaneous, but everything with him is about what works for him IN THE MOMENT.  And he’s on meds.  I’ve told him last minute stuff just doesn’t always work with me – I’ve told him for years.  This is another thing he says he’s trying to change, but it’s such a foreign way of being for him.

I so much want to believe that some day he will GET it.  “It” being what I really need in order to feel we are sharing a life together, and that he would be able to operate together in our marriage with those core values as a priority.  I used to feel I needed to protect him from himself (financially mostly), but I now know that I can’t save him from himself.  I am not dependent upon him financially – I’ve made sure of that.  But I want a relationship – not a roommate.  I want to share goals and dreams together, and work towards these mutual goals and dreams together.  Believe me, I know life can throw you curve balls, and I’m able to flex and adjust and still stay true to my dreams and goals or adjust when life just doesn’t seem to want to follow a particular path.  I now feel our goals are not the same (though he says they are).  I’m not sure I’m interested in this detached way of being for the next 40 years of my life.

I guess my comment (and real struggle at this point in my life and marriage) is that I feel so detached, and it’s apparent to others (like our therapist) that we are living life on separate paths, not the same path together.

At what point does “loving detachment” become so detached that the bond gets too thin to hold?  How do I know that I am stretching my core values too much – while I hold onto “giving him the time to grow and learn”?  How much time it that?  At what point do I realize that I have detached too much? 

I deserve not just a loving relationship – but an ATTACHED relationship?  I know he loves me.  But I want attachment too.  Does that make sense?  I can love someone, but not be attached.  For a marriage to thrive, I want some basic attachments.

How can love stay strong with ever growing detachment? 


Too Detached?

You have clearly thought about this for some time and your questions are wonderful questions.  You are right - you deserve to have a fulfilling relationship, not just a tolerable one (and what you describe may not even fit into that category - it's hard to tell from your words). When I talk about loving detachment it is around ADD symptoms, not from the person as a whole.  You could still have dates, for example, and still find ways to have fun together (strengthening your attachment to each other and your common ground) while not being beholden to all of his ADD issues.  In other words, insisting he deal with the worst of his ADD doesn't mean that he doesn't have wonderful things to offer you.  You can't "fix" his ADD, but if you detach so much that you are no longer invested in him as a person then you've lost what you were looking for when you got married.

Sometimes when people "detach" they set up rules that they feel are important.  One of these in your case is an insistence that he take care of his financial part of your marriage.  But I'm wondering if the principle of the thing is getting in the way of your being able to connect with him.  If you can't have fun together, if you can't experience joy because you are out and about, then you are hurting yourself, too.  I don't know how you managed when you were dating, but weren't there times when you treated him just because you could?  Anyway, you might think about your overall goals there - it might be more important to stick to the financial principle given your situation, or it might be important to sacrifice the financial principle on occaision so that you could connect better.  He should still pay his bills, still manage his bank account, still be responsible for himself...but you might treat yourself (and him) to some connect time if you can afford to do so.  (Some women have a problem with this because they think that a man should pay for dates, etc.  I'm not one of them, though.  I think if you want to go out, and the guy you happen to want to go out with doesn't have the dough...then go out, pay for it, have a good time, and don't worry about it.)

You mention that you need more attachment.  You'll best get those if you insist on them, arrange them, and ask for them.  Focused connection time can be created with someone with ADD if you push it (else they often get distracted) and if you don't let it bother you if plans morph.  For example, if you make a dinner date and he's a bit late, rather than worry over the fact that he's late, just go out and enjoy the dinner date anyway.  Also, if you are insistent that you have time in bed together, drag him in there.  That may seem odd (why won't he just come of his own accord?  Don't I deserve that?) but it is more effective than waiting for him.  That said, he is still responsible for being attentive at some point.  If he can't be, then you'll remain unsatisfied with the relationship (and the sex!)

You mention several times that he says he is working on his ADD issues, but you don't actually mention if he is making any progress.  Is he?  Can you see what has improved?  Are the things he is changing important to your relationship?  Actions are important in your instance - you've done so much to accomodate his ADD.  At some point you can't go any further.

There is a question that you haven't asked but that underlies what you've written...should I stay in this marriage?  To get some insight into that, you might read "Too Good to Leave/ Too Bad to Stay".  One caveat, guideline 16 is a bit tricky with a person with ADD - since, like your husband, he might be changing a little, but not enough.  And the question is "when do I give up on change?"  A voice inside you will tell you when you've reached the end of your ability to wait...I also think it's only fair if you get to the point where you are seriously considering leaving that you tell him that, and tell him why, and tell him what needs to permanently change for you to be happy. 

Know that you have a right to be in a relationship that satisfies you, and you have a right to ask your partner to try to help you gain that satisfaction.  He'll have to decide if he can do it, or wants to do it.  And you'll have to decide what compromises you wish to live with.  But when I hear you say he is stepping across "do not cross" boundaries, that makes me nervous - it sounds as if you're giving up more than you are gaining.

Don't know if this has helped.  Keep in touch here.


More about detachment

Hi Melissa,

Thank you for taking the time to respond.  You are right, a fulfilling marriage is what I’m looking for.  I believe this is possible even with ADD.  I will look into the book you mention.  I’ve seen you’ve recommended it elsewhere.  And yes, my big question is do I want to stay married.  Or as my therapist said “Why are you staying in the marriage?”  ...Because he’s really a funny, great, fun-loving, charming guy.  But is that enough?  Is that love?  I do love him, but I’m not sure this is enough.

There are aspects of his ADD that I have been able to accept and live with.  Disorganized, overstuffed garage that he can barely walk into, let alone find anything in, forgetting what he goes to the store to buy, even if he has a list (that he leaves in car), even if he has to go back 3 times in one day, not remembering where he put the 10th pair of glasses, his phone, his keys, his hat, his jacket, etc.  Nor do I feel compelled to keep track of these things for him any longer.  It just isn’t my business if he can’t walk into the garage to find a tool.  I have my own workspace and tools, he has his.  On the other hand, his idea that my tools are his when he can’t find his own, is just not okay with me anymore, and at least he’s learned that I’m not the ogre when  I say “make sure you put them back in my studio when you’re finished”.   He used to joke with me that “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”.  I told him it wasn’t a joke with him and the problem with it was that it wasn’t reciprocal.  What’s his is not mine.  Frankly, I could buy him dinner every night and pay for everything and he’d still feel that he wasn’t getting enough “love and support” from me.  He definitely didn’t get taken care of as a child and for years we fell into the parent/child role instead of 2 equal spouses.  I want it more equal more of the time.  He used to invite me to dinner and then find he’d forgotten his wallet when the bill arrived.  He’d say, “I can quickly drive home and get it while you wait…” but how comfortable is that?  He’d be just as likely to forget what he went home for while I waited at the restaurant!!!  Now I always ask before we leave if he has his wallet, if he’s asked me out.

I am not rigid about the “pay your own way for everything”.  Nor do I think guys should pay always.  I do take him to dinner, he takes me, etc.  It’s just that he’s likely to decide to buy pricey tickets for a concert and tell me he wants to treat me and take me to dinner too.  This kind of offer comes will come when I know he can’t get through the week and pay his child support with what he has in the bank.  It doesn’t make me comfortable to accept this kind of gift or treat from him knowing he can’t afford to pay rent or child support.  Nor do I respect it.  When I say I’m not comfortable knowing he doesn’t have the money, he gets insulted that I’m not letting him take me places where we can enjoy each other’s company.  He wants to go on a Hawaiian vacation in September, but he doesn’t have a steady job right now, and he can barely make upcoming $$ commitments over the summer.  I’m not comfortable with that and don’t feel it’s very relaxing to go on a vacation that I know he can’t afford.  I’d prefer he save for it and then we can go. But he doesn’t make it a priority to forego other things he wants.  I guess you could say that when we were dating it wasn’t my concern if he could pay for child support and take me to dinner.  So why should it be my problem now?  It’s just that now that we are married, it does affect my future, my goals and dreams.  It changes how I feel about our MUTUAL ability to reach these together.  A few of our therapists have pointed out to him that I am not asking for 50-50 all of the time, and I’m willing to lend my strengths to the marriage where and when needed – but I also need my basic needs met.  Financial responsibility is important to me.

A few months ago I was able to gather all of the years of my expressions and spoken needs into a clear outline of what I wanted – not just time together and finances – these were core value requests.  He was to provide the same from his point of view.  He hasn’t been able to do this.  Therapists and coaches have requested the same of him, but he seems incapable of defining these for himself.  I empathize to a degree.  He grew up with a very narcissistic mother who insisted on her needs being met with complete disregard for his (she still does this).  So I’m sure even recognizing what he really wants and allowing himself to state these is difficult for him.  But how much am I supposed to give up while he finds himself?

I know that much of the difficulties I have in our relationship are not just ADD issues.  But they are so intrinsically woven together that it’s difficult for me to extract one from the other.   He has made improvements.  4 years ago I insisted on therapy or I was going to divorce.  He was able to get past his denial that all of our problems were not just me being discontent.  He basically said that for the 8 years prior (that we knew each other) he believed all of our problems were my being negative and just complaining.  He now sees his complicity and sees that the ADD is “a bit” of a problem, and knows he has a lot to work on.  And getting into discussions with him is easier as he takes responsibility for his stuff more quickly, more of the time.  So he is working on stuff, and this is what keeps me sticking around – hope springs eternal that somehow critical mass with overwhelm the past and we will find a better path TOGETHER.

But there are serious problems.  One example:  He recently went on a camping trip over Memorial Day with a group of friends, and he told me he was taking his children.  Well it turned out he wasn’t taking his kids, and it wasn’t just a last minute change to plans, and he intentionally lied to me because he wanted to go and he was afraid that I would tell him I didn’t think he should go because he didn’t have a job.  So he lied to me about it, because he wanted to go anyway.  Not only was I hurt that he lied, but felt completely betrayed that he wouldn’t even bother to ask if I wanted to go, since his kids weren’t (he has his kids every other weekend, and he always takes them camping, skiing etc).  We have very little weekend time together that isn’t taken up by other obligations.  The opportunity for a long weekend when I didn’t have classes and he didn’t have the kids for us to spend together was NOT on his radar.  Why not?  It was his normal weekend schedule with his kids, I thought he was going with his children, so it wasn’t in my power to suggest or arrange time together.

And… sex?  What’s that?  I have always been the initiator and frankly I got very tired of dragging him to bed.  He’s got the libido of a rock.  I’m an attractive, physically active and – used to be a fairly sensual - mid-40’s woman.   We’ve had sex about 6 times in the last 4 years.  I kid you not.  Our sex life is a disaster.  What’s wrong with me????  Between his lack of interest and my resentment we are about as far apart as you can get.  This has been on the agenda list for therapy.  But we never actually got that far even in 4 years of therapy.  And the ADD meds don’t help make that any better either.

Thanks for letting me vent.



Much of what you say here could have been written by me.  I wish someone could just give us the answers.

"Too Good to Leave - Too Bad to Stay"

Hi Melissa, I am approaching the end of the book "Too Good to Leave - Too Bad to Stay". It is one of the best books on marriage that I have ever read. It is real and honest and so readable. And extremely frightening. There was a line in the book that I read last night regarding one of the writers cases who was unable to identify a bottom line: "He was married to his ambivalence" . I cannot tell you how that rocked me. I certainly have been able to say 'yes' to a lot of the diagnostic questions, but presently, and for the past 3 weeks, our home is really rotten. I had found porn, yet again, on the computer under a pseudonym file (4 different websites saved under different names). We have been counselor shopping ever since. We find one and he is leaving on vacation or he's booked for 2 weeks, and I am left with this pit in my stomach because my husband says that we are incapable of talking about this without it turning into an argument (his rage, not mine) and that it will be better if we wait to find a therapist. Sounds great in theory, but in the meantime, he's distant, unconnected, no affection (which I need right now), and his overall demeanor is as if he found ME on the internet on some sex chat room. I have brought that to his attention, and his response is 'well, you have not wanted to kiss me and I'm not begging for your forgiveness, or, I'm mad at myself'. My husband sees a therapist weekly and has been for the past 4 months, so he has an outlet. Certainly, this is not the first betrayal or lie in our 14 years of marriage. But what the 'book' has brought to bear is "waiting for the change", giving a timetable for the change, and actually looking what is your partner doing to let you know that he is looking to save the marriage. He states that he is in therapy because I insisted (true), and that should be enough. He refuses to talk about anything at this point, and he feels like a victim. A victim of what!!!!! I am stuck in my ambivalence!!! I cannot remember loving him. I am just remembering pain.

I am definately becoming

I am definately becoming detached to my husband with ADD and we have not been married long. Dating was wonderful marriage is so so.. I know he wants to be happy and healthy in the rltnshp just as much as me, however he crosses many boundaries that I feel are unacceptable when he is angry or disturbed.. name calling, fits of rage, ignore me for days only to blame everything on me. I do not normally argue with people and with friends or family it has never been like this ever.. I have always had good communication skills and try to take the approach to look at how someone else's view may be different. I am just extremely exhausted and worn down. I do not like not knowing what his reaction will be, and like who I am becoming around him with the anger. There are points where things have seemed like they are on the road to getting better.. then the same pattern repeats. He leaves in an argument which actually helps, but shows up at home whenever he feels like it, ignores my calls, and does not allow me the opportunity to get any space, since I am home with our child. When things are fine he is very helpful and loving and seems to say just how I am feeling or what I have been thinking. I have just had it with having an argument last so long, feeling like I don't matter, being called names. I would never allow myself to be verbally abused ever!! but here I am in this relationship hoping for change. Everything is my fault, since I stay home I seem to have all this time to do things and I feel some sort of resentment from him. When we are good he appreciates what I do, and in those times when he has been with our son, he seems to see that its not as easy as he thinks. I just don't know what to do anymore. We've tried counseling only for him to quit. I continued up until our son was born. I've read books, suggested classes, different approaches, writing down what we both need, explaining why I need his help and that its not just me wanting to nag at him but that I honestly need it. so anyways thats my marriage in brief. I was inspired by your thoughts and I do feel that I am giving up more than I am gaining or perhaps that I am giving more way more than I am receiving in return. thanks

Frustrated with being unable to find local marital/ADD therapist

I have written before, and we are at a real crisis point, but my husband never thinks anything is a crisis....."they do not realize the impact their behavior has on others"... My issue is that I think that I can actually state a complaint, be precise, point out the pattern, and that my husband will recognize the behavior, own it, take note for the future. I AM DELUSIONAL!!!!! My husband has limited time management skills, I get that, but he OFFERS plans like...."my summer hours on Thursday are until 7pm, and then I'm outa there, and they are rotating so that I don't work every Thursday" He actually offers that information. To date his arrival is 8:30p and it's been every Thursday. After realizing the constant adaptation I have had to do over 14 years, I was annoyed, yet again. Brought it up, he went nuts, stating I have the problem, I am inflexible, etc. etc. And the rest of the weekend followed suit. This is nothing new. My husband feels "constantly nagged" and I feel "exhausted", "like his mother", outraged at the lack of sex life even before " he felt like I was his mother". As you well know, the list is endless as is the emptiness, the anger, the frustration. We have moments that are good, but they are only moments. I think the most frustrating for a non-ADD spouse, is the partners lack of identification of the symptoms and patterns. At least my husband doesn't seem to recognize them. He normalizes everything he does by berating what you do, or "I'm hawking" him, or "obsessed" with him. Neither is true, but it feels that way to him. Another no-win communication style of his is to ask me "when did I do that....?" If I am able to give the list of dates and incidences, then I am nit-picking. If I am unable to remember a specific incident to back up the "pattern", then I am globally inaccurate. My husband has a history of lying, secrect money accounts that made it impossible for us to refinance, financial irresponsibility, unfinished tasks, poor time management, but, because this week or this month, he has not exhibited any of those patterns, he's all better, and I should be all better too. Whew!!! My husband has taken Adderall XR for 6+ years, it is basically a placebo at this point. He sees a counselor who is a 'talk' therapist and who has little knowledge of the symptoms of A.D.D., but my husband goes regularly and he is protective of that relationship, so I leave it alone. I think the crisis is that we can barely stand to be in the same room lately without tension. We have certainly been here before! We have been bickering on and off for weeks, with the weekends being difficult because either I am totally silent when something needs to be addressed or something can trigger both of us. I was so looking forward to Dr. Hallowells' couples retreat in NYC before it was cancelleed, and am desperate for the one he is planning for sometime in October. I am at a loss where to find a therapist who specializes in marital/ADD counseling. I can find nothing local.

Or what if the only local marital/ADD therapist has ADD herself?

It is so very difficult for me as the ADD partner to strike the right balance with counseling, marriage, and communication. Sometimes it seems like the cycle of conflict, attempted resolution, and the return of disruption will never end...

My spouse and I are attempting to find a marriage counselor in our area who can also address the ADD dynamic in our relationship. After much research (mostly by my wife, bless her) the only option appears to be a well-regarded counselor who herself also has ADD. We've gone to see this person for an introductory session. Now our marital conflict has added another factor: my wife has grave doubts about getting any help from a counselor with ADD. My wife is concerned that the counselor won't be capable of paying attention, analyzing the facts objectively, or tuning in to the needs of the non-ADD spouse. The worry is that the two ADD people in the room will side against the non-ADD person and we'll get nowhere. I know there are many nationally-regarded mental health professionals (including Dr. Hallowell) who are open about their ADD and remain highly effective. But my wife is skeptical.

Has anyone had any experience working with a marriage counselor who has ADD?

ADD counselor

yes, my husband and I went to an ADD specific counselor and although she knew her stuff, she was always late, her new office was disorganized, and through no fault of her own, she developed vertigo and missed most of our appointments. My husband and used to laugh at the situation. However, we occassionally attend an ADD support group, and the facilitator is also an ADD therapist. He also has ADD, but practices certain behavioral disciplines that make his effective. Right now, I am trying to find a marital/ADD specialist and am having very little luck. I am pretty desperate. Been around this mountain way too many times to count. I guess I am looking for Dr. Hallowell in my backyard.

ADD counselor

Yup, my hubby and I went to a counselor who had ADD himself.  He definitely sided with my hubby.  Lots of "you (me) have to pick up the ball here" and "you (me) have to compensate there" kind of crap.  He actually defended my husband's bad behavior :" ...impulsiveness is one of the most relationship damaging parts of ADD that you must understand and deal with.  He will just say mean and cruel things throughout the rest of your life and you need to learn to get thicker skin."

I don't think so.

We don't go there anymore.


My husband and I went to a

My husband and I went to a counselor who had ADD herself.  She mostly saw children in her practice.  Though she was helpful in getting him to realize he had ADD, she was not helpful in the long run.  From my perspective she allowed him to act like a child more than I thought was reasonable, and I felt that she expected me to act like his mother.  Perhaps it was her focus on children.  I eventually stopped going, and my husband continued.  Though he could never stick to the schedule and she was very lienient with cancellations.

Eventually I went to someone else who was recommended.  My husbands work schedule did not allow him to attend at first.  She was fantastic;  she was married to a man with ADD and was able to discuss with me what was ADD behavior and what was not.  Eventually my husband was able to create a work schedule to allow him to attend also. 

He also tried going to a coach who had ADD herself.  This was a disaster.  She couldn't remember the times they scheduled and she cancelled appointments or just wouldn't be there, because she had something else planned.  Over 6 weeks, they were able to meet just 3 times (it was supposed to be once a week). 

I think that if you can find someone with ADD who can manage their time, and the person works for you in your relationship, then go for it.

I also think that for the Non-ADDer in the relationship it is incredibly helpful to have a counselor who has an ADD partner they have to deal with.  This gives a lot of insight to both you and your partner.  It was not a gang-up thing.  Our counselor was able to describe not only her husbands behavior to my spouse, but also how it affected her.

Unfortunately, depending on where you live, the options are limited.  We live in an area about 2 hours outside of large metropolis.  There just aren't many options available for ADD trained counselors.  I have also noticed that a lot of ADD coaches are ADDers themselves.  I think it takes a lot of self-awareness and organization for an ADDer to be a coach of other ADD's.  And since it's not cheap (my husband spent $85/hr for his non-effective ADD coach, who came very highly recommended, and she's the only one around!), you end up spending a lot before you realize it isn't working.


2 ADD therapists had ADD

My husband saw two therapists (at different periods of time in his ADD journey) who each had ADD.  The first therapist was always late for appointments.  The time he called my husband on his cell phone as he was standing at the door to the therapist's office to tell him he couldn't make the appointment was the last time he saw that therapist.  The second ADD therapist was also late and/or rescheduling appointments constantly.  She frequently made mistakes on the prescription script, e.g., wrong year in the date, that the pharmacist caught, but my ADD husband didn't.  So back he would have to go to her office to get a rewritten prescription script (having to schedule a time to see her all over again).  My husband resolved not to see an ADD therapist again.

Funny if it weren't so sad

I'm sorry, because the outcome is so bad for you, but this actually made me smile.  It isn't that uncommon that folks who are trying to help others with ADD also have ADD themselves...often resulting in the type of chaos that you write about.  However, please suggest to your husband that there are therapists out there who understand ADD but who don't actually have it!  He shouldn't "throw the baby out with the bathwater".  A therapist can help, really!  And the end result (if you have a good therapist or someone who can counsel you well) is a positive one, indeed.  Start to find out how to live your life more easily (individually and as a couple)...there is no downside.  So let him be mad at those folks, but gently encourage him to separate the people from that profession.  Help helps (I should say good help helps).  Those particular folks were just unprofessional.

We need a group like Alenon

We need a group like Alenon for spouses.  Aren't we really the experts at living in a ADD marriage?

ADD counselor

Yes, my husband and I have seperate counselors. He found his counselor first, and guess what? He found one of the only counselors around who also has ADD. This counselors reputation is one of either people like him or almost hate him. (black and white) typical add.

I don't like this counselor myself. He seems very sympathetic and works with my husband well, but with me (we have had a few session together) it's a totally different story. He treats me differently than he does my husband. EVen his attitude towards me feels condescending and very intolerant. He said he saw me as a very "emotional woman". Duh! I had just found out that my husband was having an affair, and he has adhd. Don't you think I would have been somewhat emotional in a counselor's office? I learned very quickly to stay in a non-emotional state when talking to this guy. But, I always felt like it was them against me. (the counselor and my husband against me) ANd, when my husband would come home from his sessions, he treated me very condescending as well.

After this experience, I don't like the idea of a counselor having adhd trying to help those of us who don't.


Professional ADD Help

Hang in there.  I am in the process of dotting the i's and crossing the t's to be able to offer ADD consulting.  I am not a therapist, as all readers here know, but I am certainly able to manage the ADD and marriage aspect of the conversation.  Actually, I view not being a therapist a good thing for certain people - I'm not interested in tromping around in the past, only in helping people look at their present and future, as that seems to be the best attack for many struggling with ADD in marriages.  Anyway, I will announce exactly what services I'll be offering for couples within the month, I expect.

Also, Dr. Hallowell does counsel couples over the phone.  You can call his office in NY (212-799-7777) or outside Boston (978-287-0810) if you want to make an appointment with him.

Just last night---

My husband of fifteen years (who is willing to concede he might have ADD or "something") finally admitted to adultery. His behavior lately has been pretty well screaming it, and I found out with evidence who/what/where/when. However, I was shocked to realize it's been going on for years. His main reason for straying, he said, was that he just couldn't get enough affection and attention. He wasn't getting enough from me (no matter how hard I tried) and he blamed me for that. I expect things from him. The other women---who know that he's married and has kids, but don't seem to be burdened with guilt about it--- don't really mean anything to him. He likes them, but he's not in love with them. It's just stimulation, attention, he says. Feeding his vanity.

In our reasonably calm and tearful discussion, he might have realized that if he's not getting it from me and the three other women he's seeing, it's something to do with him, not a failure on my part (though he won't release me as a "contributor"). There was a lot of chest-thumping going on, him saying "that's just the way I am, me first, I'm the most important person in my life and the rest of you will just have to deal with it." I've heard this before---he's very self-absorbed. It's like he's got a big hole inside of him that nothing can fill. I've tried. I'll never be successful at it. It's not my hole to fill.

He indicated that I was the love of his life, but he wasn't in love with me any longer, and whatever I decided to do about it was up to me; I needed to begin to let him deal with his own issues and tend to myself.

I'm unsure what to do. Adultery is a deal-breaker in my book, but I do love him and I miss him even when he's in the same room. We had 10 good years, wonderful years when our kids were small. 

However, I'm seeing a therapist for myself and consulting a lawyer tomorrow to see what my options are. My biggest concern is our kids, one of whom has ADD. I fear for the example they will be seeing. I want to lay my head down and cry for days. I haven't been able to really keep anything down since I found out about his current affair. I fear my son will be as broken and lonely as his father is now. My husband doesn't sleep, works out constantly, is in a terrible work situation, and now this. He says he's guilt-free about possibly breaking up our marriage. He admitted some of it was a cry for help, but he doesn't want me to help him. He asked me to just leave it alone for a while, but I don't know what that means and he admits he doesn't know from one minute to the next what his reaction to anything will be.

I suggested he go to a therapist himself, but I doubt he will. So my decision is whether to tolerate this behavior with no hint of a guarantee that we'll ever be in love again. I'm not sure I can make love with him ever again knowing he's making love to three other women, too. I'm his WIFE. I'm supposed to be the ONE. Those were the vows he readily took. He would leave me in a second if he thought I were cheating. He admits his expections for my conduct are much higher than they are for his own.

And he may flip out and just leave before I can make it home tonight. I can't ever know what to expect, what to count on, his behavior is so erratic. He admits he's incapable of making a decision. He's been complaining about his job for years, but just this week he had me do his resume (same night one of his girlfriends got him tickets to a game).

My heart cries out for him, wanting him to be whole and wonderful as I know he is deep inside. But I can't do it for him. Neither can any one of the other women. We're not the problem.

So do I stay or do I go? Can I tolerate him seeing other women and I know it? Is this an example that I want my sons to follow and think is acceptable? The financial consequences in either direction are poor to devastating. Do I bet that a separation will bring him back to his senses? Or do I just cut us both loose?

And then what about the kids?

And then there's the health aspect--- I'm calling my dr today. How dare he do this without a concern for my sexual health! What if he's given me something and he doesn't realize it?

I'm so angry at him for doing this to me. And yet so sorry for his pain. I don't want to be alone without him, but can I let him continue to shred me like this? Setting boundaries = being a bitch. Giving ultimatums (as in "no cheating") = deliberately pushing him away. Arguing in any way = one more notch in the long list of things I do wrong. No one ever does anything really right except him, in his mind, and he'll tell you that flat out. I'm just supposed to sit and take it, or let him go. He's ready to do either. Today. Tomorrow? He might not come home.

I get the part about loving detachment. He's right in that I've got to cut him loose to deal with his own issues. In many ways recently, I've begun to do that. But it's costing ME so much. The fact that he decided to come clean about this on the first anniversary of my dad's death-- so freaking considerate, now I have two things to mourn the same day every year--- but that's him for you. It's all about him and all about now.

Long-winded--- but I'm not sorry. It's helpful to vent on this forum with so many people who understand.  I know it's not possible, but I wish I could raise my hand and have someone answer the question, "what do I do? do I stay or do I go?"


Why would you stay? No

Why would you stay? No really, I need you to either ask this to yourself out loud and/or write a list.

This man is someone who is honest with you in that in his world, all that matters is him and that will never change; he will continue to have girlfriends and affairs; he tells you all of this on the anniversary of your fathers death and so on and so forth. I am sorry hun but after you leave him, please look inside of yourself, seek help, and determine what causes you to stay with a man who is so obviously inconsiderate of you, your marriage, your well beging and health, and the future of your children. 

If you did the same behaviors

If you did the same behaviors to him that he is doing to you, what do you think he would do and why? When I found out my husband was seeing multiple women, including trying to pick up women just for sex online, I never let him touch me again. I wouldn't even begin to risk getting whatever it is he might pick up, not to mention I respect myself more than that. There are men out there who aren't this way. Why be so miserable? Life is short.

Just last night---


My heart goes out to you.  I first learned of my husband's affair almost 6 years ago.  In January I learned he had started the affair again about a year ago and at the end of April I learned that it had never really ended after the first discovery and has essentially been one long ongoing affair over the last 6 years.  You can see my other posts about it under the Joy of Marriage - Monogamy subsection.


When I learned of my husband's affair the first time I did not know anything about ADHD and did not know that he had it.  I felt that the affair was at least 50% my fault because I felt I had been quite bitchy and that I had failed to provide to be positive towards him.    Once our children were born my husband defaulted on our explicit bargain about how responsibilities would be divided - he simply failed to show up and follow through.  The more I became upset, the more he withdrew and we were in a negative, downward spiral.  I felt that this was in large part my fault and his affair was therefore understandable.


Learning of the affair the first time was like a wake up call to me.  I bought a book about forgiveness, let go of my anger and added to my growing insecurities.  I tried to be a perfect wife, I supressed any negativity no matter what the screw up and never expressed opposition to any of his ideas but simply tried to facilitate whatever he wanted.


In the midst of all this effort, my son's life bumped along uncomfortably until grade 5 when he had a total train wreck of a year.  My son was diagnosed gifted / ld (written expression) / adhd.  My son started taking medication, changed schools, got a decent teacher and turned around rather dramatically.  Through this, in a classic textbook fashion, I was able to identify that my husband also shared my son's diagnosis.  My husband's acceptance was somewhat like your husband's - half and half.


In January, with my son's life finally on a good track, I was starting to look forward to the future.  It was then I learned that my husband had started up the affair again approx. 6 moths prior.  I felt so deflated.  I felt like everything that I had been working towards had been knocked down.  I felt some anger but mainly I just felt exhausted and disbelief - how could my husband wreck what I had worked so hard to piece together, just when things were starting to come together and work.  I still have waves of disbelief - how could he do this?


My husband started seeing a psychologist in January.  He expressed a wish to go and I facilitated it by getting a referral from my son's psychologist and helping set up the first appointment.  My husband was keen to go, not to save his marriage but because he felt unhappy.  Through discussion with his psychologist he has come to adopt the position that he wants to save his marriage and I think we are perhaps slowly moving in that direction.


In the course of all of this I have come to the following conclusions:   we currently do not have a marriage by my definition (trust, security and sense of partnership are what I need); together we run a fairly good household; and the children are better off with us together then apart.  In light of these things I plan to stay until the children are grown - 7 years - and then I plan to go unless my needs are met.  I love my husband dearly and I hope, hope, hope he will get it together enough to meet my needs within the 7 years before I am off but if he won't or can't then I want to open myself up to the chance of having those things with someone else.


After 6 months of seeing the psychologist my husband finally recently admitted that he cannot currently tell the truth in situations where he has to respond.  He's working on it and thinks it will take time.  This is huge to me - the first real step - we are actually talking about one of the things that I think is in issue.  We are also off to see a marriage counsellor in August.


Over the course of the last 6 months I have been going through a paradigm shift.  Reading the various entries on this site has helped me reflect on the past and see what went on in a new light.  I used to think that my frustration and anger with my husband had to do with deficiencies in me and I am now beginning to see that my response to him was typical of what non adhd people experience with adhd people.  My psychologist has also told me that I am too passive when it comes to my husband - big shock to me as my husband had me convinced I was controlling - still not entirely convinced that I am not but I am learning that this too is a common dynamic between adhd people and their non adhd spouses.


My psychologist told me that I didn't need to make any decisions right away.  That's been good advice.  Unless you feel like it, you don't need to either.  Take it one day at a time and good luck!

rejection and cheating

Ladies I feel your pain and I commend you for staying with your husbands. Husbands are suppose to protect and support their wifes period. cheating and lying to you is not a good indication that he really is  looking out in your best interest. Don't tell yourselves lies about the situation, but truth ex: He doesn't look out for my me, he doesn't give me security etc...

Let me share a page from a book I read by neal andersen



think or feel rejected and unloved

determined to please the significant other to gain approval

more rejection comes from resulting in choosing one of three defense postures


This person basically buys the system and learns to compete or scheme to get ahead and become the significant other.

eventually results in more rejection because the ability to perform eventually diminishes.


Inability to express feelings, emotional isolation, perfectionism, worries, control freaks



continue the efforts to satisfy others but begins to beleive that they are rejectable and unlovable.

Results in more rejection because acceptance comes less to those who reject themselves


Feelings of worthlessness and inferiority, subjectivity, introspection, self condeming looking inward.



This person fights the system and says I don't need or want your love" often behaves or dresses in an objectional way

Results in more rejection because a rebel causes others to be more defensive of the system they reject.


Wishing he had never been born undisciplined, irresponsibility, self-hatred, bitterness.


I thought this was  a good way to look at rejection. I would be a #2 My husband who is Adhd and a alcoholic along with suffering with depression is # 3.of course this can cross too...

 if your husbands are not willing to take responsibility for their own actions by THEIR choice NOT yours then that is what THEY are choosing to do.  my heart cries goes out to you. I was so miserable in my own marriage and all we did was fight. My husband chose to lie to me along with all kinds of things he did which eventually ruined our marriage. was it 100% his fault ..No but much was. I now have been seperated for 6 months and  I love my life. I forgot who I was. My children are also much happier. They do miss their dad but they like the  peace we have at home now.of course you know  Only you can make the decision if you are staying or leaving but I just wanted to share a little about rejection. I hope this helps. Peace and God bless!

I just don't understand it!

I just don't understand it! We, moms, have the desire and commitment to our children and their feelings. However, men, some husbands DON'T! I envy your strength...your children are lucky! Your willingness to sacrafice the next 7 years just saddens me. YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE...Your kids NEED their mom to be happy and fulfilled! I hope you realize that being roommates isn't healthy for your children. They will live what they see... Is that the kind of marriage/relationship you want for your children to strive for when they are adults? This IS what I am struggling with now! I NEED to take my own advice-it seems so cut & dry. Financially I have to stay. I have been a stay at home mom for 14 years and have no skills to find a good job. (HAVE BEEN TRYING FOR MONTHS) My 14 year old notices things. She questions different things that my husband says to me, or how he treats me and that he just doesn't do things for himself or the house/family. My 8 year old calls me out when he is hurtful or lazy.(her words) Both girls, I have realized more and more lately that I am their role model in EVERY way. Not just for life skills and fashion advise or personal hygene and homework, but for how you let the people in your life treat you. They are watching even when you don't realize it. They hear things even when you think they can't. Most of all, they are constantly observing you and your husband. So if you sigh or he rolls his eyes when you speak to each other, they are watching. You both feel like you showed restraint by being civil and NOT using harsh words but body language screams sometimes. How do I know this? Unfortunately, my daughters told me! The great news for me is that I have an open communication with my girls. I have told them ANY question or thought that they have is up for discussion. Sometimes I do say "that is not for you to be concerned about..." Mostly, I just give age appropriate answers. My therapy, as dumb or stupid as it sounds, is watching shows like WIFESWAP and CLEAN HOUSE with my girls. Letting them see real households where husbands do chores and organization is helpful. I have asked my husband "how would you feel if our daughters had a husband that treated them the way you treat me." Or" how would you like to visit OUR daughter in her home and watch her do everything while her husband layed around." He said it would pain him to see her frustrated but if she chose that then he would stay out of it. So I got my answer and I have made the decision to take it one day at a time. I have told him that I am not happy and that at 20 I could do it all with a smile. BUT now at almost 39 I CAN NOT! I am tired of doing it all...and feeling alone. I want a partner outside of the bedroom.(plenty of energy for that) No energy to help carry laundry up, sweep, pick up poop in yard or bathe dogs,,,that HE thought kids needed to have! (love them but just more for me to do) Some days are better than others...HOWEVER, I don't think he gets it. I think he thinks I will put up with this life forever. Most important I think that he thinks I can't live successfully without him. He is right for the time being. Unlike you I WILL NOT stay until the kids are grown. I WILL stay until I have a plan that will be the best transition for them. THAT IS WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR EVERYDAY!?!???? Finding a job has been much harder than I thought. I look every day and my goal is peace and happiness for my family, including me!

making a plan

stick with your plans to make a life for yourself and your girls.  They need to know that a woman can dig herself out of a hole with careful planning.  Also, to relieve stress consider exercise and/or yoga or meditation.

That said, has he been officially diagnosed?  Can he seek treatment that might also help?

annmariee's picture

I just don't understand it

Hi Deb,

I've just read your post and its now 23 Aug 2010. How has your life changed since you posted your thoughts, have you made any changes to your relationship?

I arrived at this site quite by accident after plowing through sites looking for answers but not knowing what my questions were. I know there are huge problems in my marriage but unless you live with an ADHD Alpha male - who can understand? I've done every self-help book known to woman and I'm still so achingly lonely in my 13 year marriage.

Its true what you say, how can you be happy in a relationship that is at best a 'house-share', to become so detached and so focused on doing 'your own thing'.

I want a partner! I want a friend! I want to be able to talk and be listened to, I want to be acknowledged!

I'm drowning in chores, responsibility, routines, financial insecurity. I am tired of being a single mother who happens to be in a full-time marriage! I have three sons who are a joy, they are good boys and protective of me. They seem to seek to address the imbalance by being overly affectionate and loving towards me but they need a father who takes an interest in them. He calls them 'mammas boys' but takes no interest in them.

I could go on and on, but after reading all the posts that other people have written - I'd be repeating everything they have said.

I am so grateful to have found this site, I feel as though I am not alone and that other people are going through the same experience and this gives me strength. Its not me! I'm not going crazy!

Update to "Just Last NIght..."

To all who commented---thanks. I asked him to leave. He said he couldn't financially, and he doesn't want to. He thinks we can work it out and that he doesn't want me to leave him, I'm his rock, I'm the person who's always been there for him, I'm the love of his life.

Of course he doesn't want us to break up, but it's because it would be inconvenient for him, not because he loves me and the kids.

Good behavior for five days--- at home every evening, helping with kids, sweet to me. Like old times.

Last night he went out to a club, picked up a girl, went home with her for more drinks, passed out on her couch, and texted me at 7:30 this a.m. My kids are now clued in that something bad is happening--- my oldest son was sitting up waiting for his dad until 1:00am.

Thanks, everyone, for your support--- The verdict is the sooner I can get out of this, the better. I haven't slept in days, and I've lost 5 lbs in the past 2 weeks.

He's ruining his life and ours, and I even feel sorry for the women he's running around with. He's out of control, he admits it, and yet the closest thing he's done to getting help is look something up on a healthcare website. I think he's scared of what he'll find if he does get help.

I don't care what the diagnosis is, there is no excuse for his lack of integrity and compassion. A clinical diagnosis is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. I'm detaching as lovingly as I can manage at this point---though I know that's not quite what you meant, Melissa--- and as quickly.

U GO GIRL!! I was so happy to

U GO GIRL!! I was so happy to read this! Good luck to you...remember you deserve happiness...AND a relationship with someone who gives you 100%

been where you are


In Oct 2006 I heard the same thing from my exhusband of 34 years.  It was totally devastating and I stumbled onto a website that I believe saved my life.  Please visit  It is a message board that has all the tools you need for free to help you make a decision. 

My heart goes out to you but after working through the lessons on and working with a counselor I managed to heal and forgive.  The website does not tell you what to do but will help you work through your pain and make your own decision. 

I did divorce because my ex did not do the effort to change.  Take your time before you make a decision and reach out to as many people online as you need to.  I know your pain and I know that you can overcome what your are going through.


Tough loving

Hi Melissa and thank you for a very helpful website.  My fiance and the mother of my child was diagnosed with ADHD a few months back.   Your website has been extremely helpful, thanks again :)

My fiance and me, have known each other for 6 years. I'm 35 and she is 30 years old.  Our son was born in 2006.  Before that we were breaking up and getting back together over and over.  She was diagnosed with Tourettes when she was 12 years of age.  She has dealt with depression, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder.

After she got the ADHD diagnosis, I started reading up on it.  I found an article, about 4 pages on adults with ADHD. After I read it, there was no doubt in my mind that she had ADHD.  The article was a description of her in every sense!  She got her results from the diagnosis a few weeks later, confirming that.

Our relationship has always been difficult.  She is a very emotional, spontanious person with a big temper.  She fluctuates up and down in a few minutes, from being "excessively "happy to being "extremely" angry.  I myself, am rather a calm and composed person. I'm not spontanous, I think things through - carefully - before I take a decision.  I want and need stability in my life, security.  I'm a "planner" in most repects, i.e. in regard to household (things should have their place in our home - dirty laundry in the laundry basket, after dining you do the dishes, you take out the garbage etc.), finances, holidays, recration etc.  I'm very much aware, do to my job, of the fact that there are only 24 hours per day to "work with" and when you have a family you need to organize if you want to fit everything in. 

We are so very much different.  I've tried to ignore things that have bothered me in regard to the way she behaves and acts, within and outside of our home.  That has helped to some extent, but there are just some things that I can't come to terms with.  One is just simply that she throws her clothes on the floor all over our flat.  I just can't stand it and I feel it give a bad example to our son.  It seems to be impossible to get her to put her clothes in the wardrope or somewhere else. Same goes for dirty laundry.  There is no way to know what is dirty laundry and what are clothes that she is going to wear. 

I'm very responsible e.g. in regard to work and finances.  She is not.  I've tried many times to get her involved in our finances, but that just hasn't worked very well.  We've decided after some debates (and note that, in my upbringing there weren't alot of fights or debates that went on in my childhood home, so I'm not very good at it - but getting better I think) that since I do all the shopping for our home and bills, that she will get a certain amount of money to just spend as she pleases (like an allowance).  If she has a credit card, you never know were that is gonna end.

About finances we have had many argues.  If we spend wisely, we can have a decent life and save a little bit. If we don't spend wisely our credit increases. She knows exactly what we have, but nevertheless she wants to: go abroad for our vacation, redo the kitchen and bathroom, buy new wardropes (not sure why she needs a wardrope since the clothes are usually on the floor!!) etc. Having the same discussion on e.g. finances, over and over and over, what we can and what we cannot has just made me so tired. I feel like I'm living with a child, not a grown up. I'm so tired of having to be in the position having to say "NO" to this and that, just to make sure that we don't get over our head in debts.  And when I say "NO", more often then not, do I get "that tone in her voice". That cheeky , grumphy, disrespective tone.  And I get the lecture on how I never want to do anything that she wants etc.  I have tried to just let her make the mistakes, eventhough they are clear to me, and let her take the responsibilty for it and do the "cleaning up". But then I get blamed for letting her make the mistake in the beginning.  Damned if I do, damned if I don't!

Myself I finished my univerity degree a about 9 years ago.  The past year, she has been finishing her studies (a fast track 2 term study) in order to get into university next fall.  She did very well on her first term and I helped her a bit.  In the second term, she just never got started.  She didn't turn up for school, didn't hand in her assignments.  I was trying not to get to much involved, but tried to support and encourage her.  I always got the answer that things would be okay, but I could sense from the tone in her voice and the way she acted that things weren't okay. About a month before her graduation it was obvious to me that she wasn't gonna graduate, unless she would work, work, work until the final exams.  I decided to help her in every way that I could, so this would not be another year of flunking out of school.  A few days later, she came home (after being requested to come to a meeting with a advisor at the school) crying, with this information that she wasn't even gonna get the chance to take the exams, because she hadn't handed in her assignments.  By that time she had received the ADHD diagnosis.  I went to the school, spoke to the advisor, explained the history of various diagnosis and problems she was dealing with from day to day and in the end she was allowed to take the exams and past them, without any significant difficulties (she is a very intellegent person).

We are such opposits, in regard to almost anything.  Even in regard to our diet.  She has no energy (she eats mainly candy) and often says that she has problems with e.g. dressing our son in the morning.  If I don't take to school, he doesn't show up until around noon. Nevertheless she wants another child! A few months back she started talking about getting a dog. Living in the city and having a dog, is much more work than when living in the country (my dad was a farmer and I've had many dogs).  I was very reluctant and tried to explain to her how much work it was.  Today we have a dog and she barely takes it outside. That seems to have become my responsibility, like almost everything else :(.

I could write on and on about how our life is and how my expectation and hers just don't go hand in hand.  Most of this has probably been described much better by many other users of your website.

I feel (a school text example, from what I've read): like a parent to her - not a spouse; used; without any security; exhaused and worried; have lost my respect for her
She feels, as I understand it: neglected; like I'm her parent - not her spouse; useless; afraid of what will be; ashamed

My fiance, is very much willing (thank god) to get treatment, but she seems to think that she will get medicine and then everything will be okay.  She says, she can't do anything until she gets a treatment - because she has ADHD.  To me, this is not right.  I understand that she needs help, but in the end she is responsible for her own well-being.  To tell you the truth, after she got the diagnosis, I just feel that she uses that as an excuse and an explanation on why she is, like she is.  I feel she is using the diagnosis to push more responsibilities onto me. And if the excuse for pushing assignment overto me isn't ADHD, it is just something else.  Usually: I feel exhaused; or; I didn't sleep well last night, etc.

I do love her, even though that may not come across in my writing. But it is tough loving.  And I'm sure I can't live like this. Things will have to change. But if I say that, she takes it as a threat that I'm gonna leave her. That has been my experience (which it maybe is).  I really do hope that she will get into treatment for her ADHD.  I really do hope that we will be able to find some sort of equilibrium that will lead to more stability in our life. Is that fantasy, living with an ADHD spouse?


Thanks again :)


I would love to meet a guy

I would love to meet a guy like you. And yes, it is fantasy. ADHD people can do better with medicine and much counseling and work but you will never have the normalcy you are seeking. I waited for 25 years for my husband to get better. But it only got worse because he didn't want to make it work. I wish you the best. I hope love is enough for you.

ADHD Fiance - tough loving

You don't mention when you are planning to get married, but I would encourage you to work through your issues before you become financially entangled in this relationship.  This isn't because it can't work, only because right now it isn't working.  We are often taught that "love is enough" but the sad truth is that love is the glue that holds us together, but that the best relationships are those in which the partners have ways of resolving conflicts when they arise.  You have many unresolved conflicts, such as the clothes on the floor, your "off limits" topics, financial disagreements, and basic conflicts around taking responsibility for "owning" ADD.

You don't need to resolve them all before you get married to have a successful marriage, but without a method for solving them in place that you feel you can rely on (i.e. you've resolved at least some of the issues with this method) you won't likely be successful in the long run.\

You don't say how much she knows about ADD, so if she isn't too aware, then you might start with some basic education in the form of a book or tape she can listen to.  Delievered from Distraction is a very good place to start.

Continue to be patient, because she has JUST been diagnosed and adjusting to ADD can be hard.  Figuring out treatment and what meds work takes time and experimentation.  She can use you as a person to discuss her progress, and that will likely be helpful (note that many with ADD aren't great self-observers so they don't always see the effects that certain meds have.  My husband, for example, can't "feel" his ADD meds working, but the behavioral changes they effect are significant and I can observe those for him.)

You don't want to be her parent (very bad for the relationship long term!), but I think you owe it to her to explain what's really on the line here - perhaps with the help of a counsellor?  She's got lots of work ahead of her if she is going to get her ADD under control (meds aren't magic pills, you're right) and it won't just "happen".  What will you do if things are the same way 10 years from now (actually, worse, because you will become angry and frustrated over time if things don't change...)  You can imagine, perhaps, why hiding your feelings from her isn't a great idea.  I don't mean get mad or threaten her - just calmly let her know how you feel.  Understand that you can't anticipate her response, so make sure that you are telling her just what you own needs and dreams are, and not attempting to get her to go in any specific direction (she has to decide the right direction for her, herself just as you have to ultimately decide your own direction).  You can keep things in perspective by also talking about her needs and dreams at the same time.  I'm a big believer in what I call "learning conversations" - talks you have just to learn more deeply about each other.

So, pursue treatment with a really good doctor, and encourage any progress she makes (research suggests that encouraging progress is much more effective than offering support, which suggests one "needs help" and is somehow inadequate) and think carefully about how to express your dreams, desires and needs.

Good luck to you!  Stay in touch here if you can.


Giving to much

I have given too much just to stay afloat in our marriage. I can see the need to change and what you said makes total sense. We have been married 23 years on the edge of divorce. He has been diagnosed with ADD 4 months ago actually 2 years ago but in denial until 4 months ago. As I was reading your blog my husband has called 4 times. Would you check and see if I left my wallet in my pants. At that point I realized I should tell him he will have to come find it himself. However I did look because the drive home is 40 minutes and he was already 2 hrs. late for work. But at some point I have to stop this cycle. Somewhere in all this info I had read that medication is not the only resolve. At this point I am wondering if it would be easier to just walk away. I have worked hard for 23 years and owe everyone. We are self employed and just landed two more jobs for the next 3 months he immediately went out and bought a truck with money that was not designated for this. These jobs I got were to just help us stay afloat. I spent 1 hour this am just listening to the same story of how sorry he was and he will change. This is so redundent. I guess the only reason I stay is because it would be so devastating for my 21 year old who I am sure has ADD but doesn't know it and would be completely destroyed if she thought she had as she would put it something wrong with her.


When is enough....enough

This article really struck home for husband is ADD and Bipolar, but after 2 years is still in denial and not taking his meds. I lovingly detatched because I had to with the birth of my daughter. I physically couldn't do it anymore. But he has not made any attempt at change. I sit back and cringe at the fact that because of my detachment and unwillingness to continue to wake him up for work he experience the natural consequence of getting fired from a super good job with excellent insurance benefits. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will never come again. Still with no job, no real help around the house...I often still catch myself wondering if I have been too hasty, not supportive enough, or even selfish for wanting something better for my daughter and myself. He continues to find ways to blame me and make it my fault. I have filed for divorce, he still hasn't even tried to find a place to live...and as I let him stay yet another day I know that I am falling back into the pattern of doing "too much". I just keep waiting thinking maybe tomorrow he will wake up and take responsibility. I wonder if the line has been crossed that even if there were effort or acceptance of his ADD, it would still be too late for me to ever feel the same way about him again. Does anyone have the answer to that magic question....I just think that after a while, there is no going matter how bad you want it. Thanks for listening, any advice is greatly appreciated.

Giving way too much!

I haven't logged on to this site for a long time so this blog is new to me but it speaks right into the heart of my situation and my life right down to the hopelessness and nothing ever changing no matter what I say or do. It sounds like your husband was very ready to listen and work with you to change you situation. My husband has mismanaged our finances to the point of bankruptcy but will not get the work down to finalise that (much of it relates to his business ventures and not info I can provide) and will also not let go of control of the finances so I can take over. I do have my own back account, I am the only one earning, but he still opens all the mail and determines what needs to be paid and what should wait etc and I feel so frustrated. He does not want to listen to my side of the story or work with me to change things. I just want to push him out of the way so I can get down to the business of fixing everything as best I can. He is on mediaction but is not having any other therapy or help and while like you I think the meds are a good start it is not enough.

To add to the already overwhelming issues, he was diagnosed with cancer in May and is undergoing chemo treatments. I feel like I know what I need to do but feel paralysed, unable to stand up to him and take the steps I need to, to do what is right for me and my kids and untimately him and certainly in the light of his health at present unable to ask him to leave. He has no income, no where to live, no health insurance without me. I feel so trapped here. Where do I start to climb out of this?

Climbing out of the hole

Vivi- I get the feeling from what you have written that in your heart you feel that it would be the humane thing to stay with your husband while he goes through his cancer treatments so that he can have a home and health care.  I would evaluate that based upon imagining how you might feel five years from now if you left him at this stage when he is so incapable of taking care of himself.

Here are some other ideas for you:

If you can afford it, consider investing in some therapy with the specific goal of figuring out how you can assert your own needs more forcefully with your husband, particularly around financial matters.  I would set a time limit on this as part of my goal (i.e. figure out how to stand up for myself more within 4 months or some such.)  You've made a good start with your own bank account, but it is clearly an area of extreme frustration that you can't "get down to the business of fixing things".

Second, consider having some "learning conversations" with him so that he can better "see" what you life is like with him.  I don't know how the chemo will affect his ability to hold these conversations (chemo does affect the brain) but one of the things that is very hard, but also necessary, is for the spouse with the ADD to really understand that his ADD changes everything in his spouse's life.  One of the reasons it's hard to communicate this idea is that the non-ADD spouse "complaints" are often spoken in ways that make the ADD spouse defensive (so he closes down and refuses to acknowledge you or what you are saying).  And, you can tell him in a straightforward way that he's ruining your life but he still won't necessarily get it.  That's why I think "learning conversations" can help - you spend time "noodling" around in what's under the surface.  A good format for these is the "Speaker/Listener" technique in the book "Fighting for Your Marriage".

Giving too much

The thing that I notice in reading a lot of these comments and in myself is that we are all doers--all of these women who are trying to manage our husband's lives.  You all sound like competent women who can probably manage tens times the number of things that an average person can manage, before 8:00 a.m. in the morning.  I believe that it's no coincidence that we've married the men we've married.  We all probably had a parent who fits a similar description to our spouses and we're desperately trying to heal old wounds.

The trouble is, this path doesn't work.  You can't change another person and if you manage to do so, they will resent you for it and you will resent yourself for expending that kind of energy.

While I believe in supporting your spouse, you can't live their life for them.  I have been investing oodles of amounts of time trying to "help" my husband and truthfully, it's the same reason I was always trying to "help" my mother who has similar ADD issues.  I needed to make them more available for me.

How to detach lovingly?  I don't know how to do that.  I only know how to detach in anger and frustration and it feels very lonely.  I love my husband and think he's a wonderful man.  He tries harder to do just about anything, more than any person I know.  The trouble is, with his ADD, he frequently gets lost or off track.  He's working on so many things, he can't stay focused or balanced rather, in several different directions.

A good friend of mine described him as an emotional cripple, years ago.  I know understand that his fear of expressing his emotions is so deep seeded and so intricately related to his ADD, I wonder if he'll ever find his way out of his head and more into his heart--where I want and need him to be at least 50% more of the time.  That may be too much for him, I don't know.

How to loving detach and remain connected?  Is this even a possibility?

The best ever

I am pretty sure I have a husband with ADD who has been going through dr after dr and I'm getting so frustrated (as is he). I feel so blessed to have found this blog excerpt (thanks to watching the Dr Phil show the other night by channel surfing). I am so grateful for what you wrote and it may have just saved my marriage. I totally can relate to everything you wrote and will make things better right now. I can't thank you enough for all you both do on this site and I hope this means there is hope for my husband's conditions (I'm convinced he has multiple problems...ADD and probably anxiety and maybe even a learning disability). Our only challenge is finding a local professional here that is experienced enough to treat him properly. That has been extremely frustrating. He did travel south to have a SPECT test done and I can tell you that was the best decision ever, after reading Dr. Amen's books. Now that we've seen you all on Dr. Phil, this will help complete our suspicions. I do highly recommend that spect test and Dr. Amen's work...coupled with the information you have here and your practice, there is hope. Thank you so much from all of my heart. A spouse in Jacksonville, Florida

I'm new to this web site but

I'm new to this web site but not new in my ADHA marriage.  Where is the best place to read about loving detachment?  I have detached myself but not usually in a loving way.

loving detachment

There is a nice essay about loving detachment in a book called "Living with ADD When You're Not the One Who Has It" by Mimi Handlin.  This book is in a workbook style and encourages non-ADD spouses to work through specific tactics that may help them in their relationships, so it might help you to read the whole thing.

mayhem's picture

loving detachment blog - what timing

this is like kismet finding this article. i think i am slowly dying. i have a 15 mo old son with my husband whose last feeding before sleeping "through the night" is about 1230a. at 300a every night, my husband wakes me to get his adhd medicine -- so i get NO restful sleep. i have to administer it because if given the choice, he'd take them all probably. my husband's different from some here - when he's on his meds, he's super productive, caring, and daresay, loving. he likes taking his medicine, he wants to take his medicine. my problem is that when he runs out of medicine, he's a big f**** ass***. we probably have to switch docs so that he can get the amount he really needs so he doesn't run out. the doc we have currently is limited in the amount able to prescribe. after 40+ years of life, he's been finally, correctly diagnosed. hence, our situation.

my issue is relinquishing control of his meds. i can't go on like this though - lack of sleep, constant battles over control, anger, resentment. i've been told that i need to let him be responsible for his treatment and that he's a big boy and he can do it. he was able to take care of himself without me before and he can do it again. i just have to actually let him.

i'm scared though. not to give over control, but that our lives may get out of control. i'm tired of being his mom though. i want a mate, not a giant child. anyway, very tired... i hope someone can let me know if letting him handle his medicine is the right thing to do, given his past actions. thanks :-)

NOVA1986's picture

People with ADHD can take care of themselves

So this post said don't try to "save" my ADD husband. Well he just called from his office, it is 9:45. His class finished at 9 PM. He didn't make any arrangements to see how he will come back home today. We have just one car. He lost his car a year ago in an accident (fortunately nothing happen to him). So he called and told me he doesn't know he can make it home in bus and train because there is not bus at that time in the city we live. I told him about this post and I told him I don't know what to do and I don't want to make any decision about tonight. He asked at 9:30 if I could pick him up the train station (12 miles from home) and said yes. Then I mentioned him about this post and how the post advices that I should let him resolve his own problems. He said he was distracted by talking about this and trying to pack his things at the same time, so he missed the bus. He called me back to tell me he will sleep in his office to learn his how I feel like I have been cruel living him sleeping in his office. Now I feel that this is cruel, he need his medicine for diabetes, anxiety and depression, tomorrow morning. So, Is this the right thing to do in this case? Or do you think like me: this is cruel.

Gave too much and now letting go after 10 years.

I have finally accepted that my husband has had a number of untreated mental illnesses these past 10 years.  Like any mental illness w/o treatment it gets worse over time.  I did force him into therapy and threatened him with divorce if he did not go.  He went to the appointments but did not participate and the doctor finally fired him with me present and told me my husband does not want help and is wasting his time.  My husband was very angry and said "your firing me? your firing me? You can't do that".  He said yes I can.  You don't want help.  We left and I said "I guess he was just not a good fit for you, we will find you someone else."  Those others did not work out either. I gave way too much and cut him way too much slack.  Wearing my RN hat when I should have had a wife hat firmly planted on my head.  Due to this, he would be flirting with the waitress when we were out time and time again and in front of our daughter.  Instead of telling him his behavior was unacceptable and getting up and walking out of the restaurant, I ignored it saying to my self (poor impulse control there he goes again), as well as setting a bad example for my daughter.  I understand that so many of his destructive behaviors he subjected me to were him trying to stimulate his under stimulated brain.  As well as his insatiable need for attention.  I get it, but I still had to endure it and I feel like I am climbing out of a black hole that I never want to be in again.  I don't think this is rock bottom for my husband.  I think he will need to fall a lot further.  April  20th I threw him out of the house after I discovered his extra marital affair.  Now he is in a bar every night.  He's like Norm from cheers now and the regulars at the bar are his new family.  It is very sad but he needs the noise and the people and being surrounded by the flat screens.  He stays until closing and then goes home and sleeps on a mattress on the floor of his parents filthy, dirty, neglected house.  Living with his bipolar mother and his ADD alcoholic pot head father.  I am worried about him developing a drinking problem, if he does not have one already.  Then the flirting with everyone and anyone who is there.  He is addicted to the computer and I found porn on his IPOD.  That was pretty painful.  To see all the porn on the IPOD and my husband never wanted to have sex.  In marriage counseling I told the counselor my husband only wants to have sex once a month.  When Keevil told him married people have sex 2-3 times a week he was pretty shocked and no way was he going to do that.  He saw no problem with us having sex once a month.  He only had sex 3 times in 4 mths with the woman he was having the affair with.  The affair was emotional and mostly about the computer and secret e-mails.  I would say you know we have not had sex in a month.  He would say really has it been that long and then would have sex but it felt like it was out of obligation instead of actually wanting to have intimacy and sex with his wife.  The marriage counselor asked him if anything happened to him as a child.  He told a story about a man on a play ground who exposed himself to my husband when he was a child and then asked my husband to do the same and he reports he ran.  Who know if there is more to the story, but with me sitting next to him that was all he was telling.  So he is now in self motivated therapy for the first time and appears to be taking his meds.  I don't think he has embraced his multiple diagnosis and educated himself and intellectually doesn't get it.  Truly I don't think he ever will.  I understand he did not mean to hurt me, but he did hurt me and our daughter too.  I also understand from looking at your web site that all these behaviors are common.    Unfortunately, this is not a person who was diagnosed as a child and got the proper care and treatment.  He was diagnosed as an adult after he moved in with me and I told him something was wrong immediately and we needed to get him to the doctor.  It was profound and he was very artful at hiding his disorder during the 4 years we dated.  His school in Fitchburg MA missed it completely and he was pushed along. We were together for 10 yrs and married for 6. He did complete a Master's Degree from Emerson during the time we were together.  He almost blew the Master's, but I got him a medical leave (he was having a bought of depression) and this gave him an extension on his deadline and after being back on meds (on and off meds for the 10 years we were together/off more than on) he was able to complete it.  He was also getting straight As in his Master's Program.  He also liked to stop his meds and see if I noticed.  This was another game he played.  Given him growning up in a alcoholic home with two parents with untreated mental illness a childhood of neglect, his ADHD, his OCD and his depression, these are big mountains to climb.  Frankly I think Keevil was just not up for the task.  His coping skills during the marriage were avoidance, denial and withdrawal.  I moved from girlfriend, to wife, to nurse patient relationship with him, which I now know was a mistake.  I gave too much and tolerated too much because I understood the disorder and cut him way too much slack.  I was not a perfect wife and I made mistakes, but I apologized and took responsibility, gave heart felt apologies in the counseling sessions.  I have PTSD from my first marriage, but have been on meds and in treatment for years.  As you know our diagnosis do not compliment one another.  On the web site there are all these married men (20 & 30 years) who got thrown out and then get it together and they put the marriage back together with therapy, couples retreats... you know lots of hard work at your center.  I don't think my husband will ever be that motivated.  I think he just wants to sweep the whole mess under the carpet (which has gotten quite full over his life)  That is how he deals with things.  Denial and avoidance.  In my mind we are getting divorced.  I am going to wait until next April to file when everything is not so fresh and painful and it is a well thought out decision.  Given all that he has put me through, I think taking him back is too much of an emotional risk.  With the ADHD, OCD depression and growing up in a alcoholic home with tremendous neglect is a very big mountain for him to climb.  He says he wants a divorce, so I told him to make it happen then.  I am not lifting a finger.  He is in denial a lot and recently told his Mom I thought his Dad was an alcoholic and his Mom called me and began rationalizing her husband's drinking.  I mean when they went to his graduation from Emerson his Dad was in the driveway pouring hard alcohol into a flack.  So he has gone from admitting his Dad is an alcoholic to now back peddling on that.  Also the Pot is "no big deal" per my husband.  In spite of all of this, my husband is an amazing man, and he has these wonderful qualities that I love and fell in love with.  He is a very smart person and has genius level visual spacial skills.  He is a very creative person.  He is very, very funny and charming. He is very handsome and sexy, but what good is that if you can't even have normal frequency of sexual relations.  Like a Ken doll you can look at but not play with.  I do love him but I realize his untreated problems have gotten the best of me.  The first 5 years were great, but it has been all down hill since then.  I saw the qualities I love less and less over time and at the end they were non-existent.  He has had so many opportunities to get state of the art care at the Hallowell center.  So I am trying to make peace with all this.  Trying to grieve my marriage and find the person I use to be before his disorders got the best of me.  We were in marriage counseling with Keevil and I feel that Keevil could have done a lot more to get my husband to embrace his disorder and educate himself.  For what ever reason Keevil gave up on us.  Cut us loose and said there is no point in us coming any longer that my husband needed to come alone and that his role as marriage counselor should end.  I feel this was wrong.  He should have continued in his marriage counselor role because my husband was willing to continue to go to marriage counseling, but refused individual therapy.  I feel Keevil should have advise him to see another individual therapist and continued his role as marriage counselor.  Keevil just gave up on us.  He never said you guys really need to go to a couples retreat.   Jason you really need to read these books or suggest we read them together in bed.  I find myself feeling very angry a Keevil  for giving up on couples counseling.  This was 1 year before my husband had his affair.  Isn't marriage counseling better than no counseling?  So we have been separated for 5 months now.  We are no longer seeing each other or talking.  Our only communication is e-mail or text.  Seeing him or hearing his voice just wrecks me.  So like you wrote I gave too much and lost myself in the process.  Ironically when I began putting myself first and lost 40 lbs he had an affair.  When the woman he was having an affair with ended the affair my husband went to the hospital in his PJs at 3 am saying he wanted to kill himself.  I got a call at 6am from him telling me where he was and asking me to bring him clothes.  He did not display any signs of depression before this event or tell me his level of despair.  I think she pulled the plug on the affair and the stimulation the affair provided was abruptly gone.  The first thing he did upon discharge was e-mail the woman and try to keep the affair going.  This is after I had been at the hospital every day holding his hand and being the supportive wife.  He actually said "if I was any king of a wife he would not have to had an affair."  In marriage counseling he insisted he did not want a divorce and insisted he loved me.  I said his actions/behavior are not in line with your words.  I offered him divorce and laid it at his feet, but he said no I don't want a divorce.  I said I could not continue on as we had been living and major changes needed to happen.  Any progress we made with marriage counseling ended when we stopped going.  Then the affair. Boom!  I never gave up on my husband. I was patient and loving and kind.  I did not allow his disorder to turn me into a screaming lunatic.

I tried so very, very hard.  His needs were being met, so he had no interest in change or making things better.  He said "I never meant to hurt you."  But he did hurt me.  He use to be my rock my protector, but that person faded away.  He use to be my best friend, but at some point I became an enemy to hurt.   So I would be interested in your thoughts regarding the above.  I wonder if Dr. Keevil stuck with us, would my husband have had the affair a year after we stopped going?  It is also possible that his affair was not his first ,but he insists it was the first time he did have an affair.  I doubt this because one night a year before I discovered the affair I put the chain lock on the front door to see what time my husband was getting home from a sales team outing.  It was 2:30 am on a week night.  As you know in MA the bars close at 12:30, so where was he for two hours after the bars were closed.  He insisted "I wasn't doing anything but could not account for this time or explain the unaccounted for time.  Insisting his male friends will confirm he was with them.  I said what standing in the parking lot talking for 1 1/2 hours after the bar closed?  I wasn't born yesterday.  Lots of lies, but again as I have read this is common.  Thank you very much for giving people like me a voice on your web site as well as your very helpful feedback.  I'm sure I will find myself again and I am trying to be patient.  My relationship with my 13 yr old daughter has never been better since I made my husband leave.  She was aware of his online flirting for approx 2 years on facebook and never said anything to me.  What a burden for her.  She just kept urging me to get a facebook page.  I said I was on a computer all day long at work and that was the last thing I wanted to do with my free time.  Also it was bad enough she was being ignored with one parent on a lap top she didn't need two parents on a lap top.  On his Facebook page there were lots of pictures if him in bars and restaurants with woman hanging all over him.  So when he was outside the home he was conducting himself as a single guy instead of a married guy.  Again, I get it, they need the attention the stimulation.  There must be a way for them to get this attention in a way that does not destroy their marriage.  What is a healthy way for these ADHD men to get the attention they need in a healthy way?  My husband has been getting this flirting attention for years and years.  I don't see him ever being able to give this up.  Now that he has experienced the excitement and stimulation of an affair it would only be a matter of time before he does it again.  It is all so hopeless.  He also want his own biological child.  We tried infertility for 3 years and it did not work.  When the genetic counselor told him his child would have ADHD, could have OCD and bipolar disorder, I wanted to adopt.  He said "if I can't have my own, I don't want any."  Now he wants to find a younger woman who can give him children.  I now see me not having a child with him was in fact a blessing.  I can only imagine what my life would be like with a ADHD child with bipolar disorder and also dealing with my husband's issues.  I would be in a rubber room by now.

Thanks for listening.

One more question

In marriage counseling my husband was asked how he thought his flirting made me feel.  He reported "like crap". The counselor said "then why are you doing it?"My husband responded I don't know.  Does he really not know?  I thought he would say it feels good or it excites me.  Do they really have that little self awareness that they really don't know why they are doing these hurtful behaviors?  Again thank you Melissa for your time and giving people like me a voice on your web site.

Been reading all of this with tears in my eyes

It's been a few months since I have been reading this website. It's such a horrifying discovery. Now there is at least an explanation for certain things and I'm not going crazy.   Forgive me, I'm disabled and typing can get difficult, I hope I'm being clear. My husband was diagnosed with ADD (without hyperactivity), plus dyslexia and dysgraphia, as a young child. If his mother did not spent a lot of time teaching him reading and writing he probably wouldn't have even started to speak. In his family, ADD is hereditary. I always assumed that ADD is difficult for ADDers but a walk in the park for those around them. Well, it's not.

Since we've known each other (we've been married for 5 years now) we have been in unusual situation, I'm disabled, he has to work for pretty much minimum wage, I help at home as much as I can, but we are broke and stressed all the time so I accounted it all for stress. We were so much in love when we met and I still am, I guess,  but it has been the most difficult, traumatizing experience living with him, like a roller-coaster of kindness and aggression. Ever since I 've known him he seemed to have a double personality, excruciatingly nice one and a violent, mean and almost sadistic one. The nice part is chivalrous and caring, and protective. And then something triggers the mean one.

 He has been changing his demeanor on a dime during any conversation especially if I tried (calmly) to discuss any serious things, anything at all like bank statements, taxes or house cleaning, and using the most offensive, lowly ways to argue like teasing me with my fears, bringing up my past that has nothing to do with him, taunting me to cry, and calling me names. It usually starts with interrupting me and making angry faces and when I ask him why he does it he would deny it and whatever conversation I was hoping to have turns into me crying and him sadistically teasing me. He would be apologizing later and demand to be forgiven, or just forget about what happened and get irritated if I don't greet him with a wide smile. Even if he apologizes for a nasty thing he said, he would ALWAYS mention it later in some other conversation and alter what had happened and would always blame me, even for things he apologized for himself.

That's not all. I have been through two years of physical abuse with him, when he ended every attempt at conversation with an argument and  physical violence, like pinching, crushing, throwing and shoving me and blaming me for abusing him, which never happened as I never touched or hurt him and just cried and screamed. He eventually had to go to anger management classes after his parents witnessed his violence and made him. He still sporadically attends the class. He hasn't physically hurt me for almost two years, but emotional stuff got much worse. I am in tears every week after a normal attempt at talking turns into him parodying me, teasing me, interrupting me, lying about what I just said, lying about his broken promises, which are his second nature, etc. He still at times would get mad and tell me how I "provoked" his abuse. No, he doesn't get physical with me anymore but somehow it's worse. In his best moment, I read this article to him and he tried for a week to have a schedule before oversleeping and screaming at me that it was "my idea" and that I can't "control him the way I want," etc. Well, here we are-any normal person would have left long ago but I'm ill, and dependent on this guy. I tried to detach myself from him emotionally, but it still hurts each time when he insults me. It's a guy I fell in love with for God's sake.


Little things like him "accidentally" spending a few hundred dollars on online gaming, or smoking like a chimney when we have no money for food, or not remembering his own daily responsibilities do not bother me. He works hard, goes to work regularly, which was not the case before, I know he is tired, and I feel bad for him. But I also feel bad for me. He always tells me during an argument that he keeps me alive and buys my medication and I should be grateful, but somehow  it doesn't justify the pain he causes me.

LN's picture

Getting ready to leave my marriage

Several years ago I had come across a site similar to this one, trying to locate some information about ADD/ADHD and how it effects a marriage. At that time prior to finding that site, I knew deep down in my soul that there was something wrong with the person I married, but I just could not put my finger on it. After my one son was diagnosed when he was 10 years of age (that now was 10 years ago), that my husband was with ADD along with anxiety. At that time my husband sought out help only to learn that yes he did and still does suffer from ADD but he also was born with anxiety with depression, based on something that had happened to him when he was younger. My husband did get treatment with medication but that only lasted a short time, since several months later was when he decided to tell me he hated being on medication. I explained to him that we can take a totally different route, changing of his eating habits and really watching his diet, hence the dyes in many of our food products. To give you a better idea, we are in fact 17 years apart and we have been together 13 years of our relationship married 12. I have always known that certain foods are in fact just not good for us, I know I reversed my type 2 diabetes 6 years ago. After trying and trying and giving and giving, I am worn out, I have felt at times that I may suffer from depression, that I am the person who is wrong and that I should still keep making all the adjustments to me but this is not so for when I have done so I have felt that I have lost myself and who I am. Several years ago I decided to take up yoga and turn to meditation, along with going back to school. Things went for awhile and I mean awhile but then that all fell apart, my husband was supportive for just a brief period of time, then I had to stopped doing what I enjoyed the most since I could feel he was and still is drifting away from me and the family, leaving me to pick up all the pieces. 

In one of posts I have been that person to ask my husband about his flirting with gal who lives in town here and does he know how that makes me feel and yes answer is like crap and I have asked him then why do you do it? One example of this is not to long after we had gotten married, we had gone out for a bit here in our small town and there was this gal that I spoke of who lives here in town, my husband had been sitting on the bar stool, I had been chatting with someone else when I turned around only to see that she had been standing right between my husbands legs. I looked at my husband and he gave this confused look and I told him that I was going to step outside again there still was that confused look on his face when I left and when I returned. Later on he asked me what was my problem and I asked him about what she was doing standing right between his legs? He could not answer.

After carefully reading everyone's posts I fel that I am not alone and that in the past 2 years I have begun to feel that stay and fight or flight emotion, thus far flight is becoming stronger and stronger each day. 

Money has been a big issue, I run all the books and accounts, I do this since when we first got married (whole other story), that I cannot feel that lack of security, I almost lost my house and the deep, deep pain of not knowing what to do made me ill. After many days and hours I finally got us back on track and I saved my home. I should make this statement that when we first got married I did not know the full extent of my husbands money problems, which after we got married I was threatened by his accounts that if I did not pay his bills I would be the one taken to court to have the money taken out of my paychecks. I left a job to be closer to home after the birth of our son, who is now 11, I had a profit sharing of 139,000, that now is all gone and I am now trying to get that sense of financial security back.

The biggest struggle that I face everyday is finding that the strength again to loving detach myself from this marriage? I know I can do it but I know deep inside that my husband will be supportive but only for a brief period of time, which then I know he will go looking someplace else for affection, been there done that so many times over the course of our marriage. 

One last note I know my husband does suffer deeply from lack of attention based on his families past history and what happened to him when his was younger, his mother to this day still lives in denial about the situation, which was brought up during the course of husband getting treatment, 10 years ago.

He is a good man but at my age I am ready to move forward with the rest of my life, I am 53 and I am tired, drained and as in the article that I read I almost have gotten to the point of giving up everything that I have loved doing and who I am.


I sense that you are where I have just arrived......with a strong desire to "lovingly detach" which may or may not be met by our respective spouses with a resounding...YES!!!!! Your post is a comfort to my sanity(just recently found in the past 2 months) and my soul(still a work in progress,having forgotten I really do exist). You put it well with no anger, frustration and an honest caring for your husband.I am honestly with one foot out the door after 44 years. The first 37 on the rollercoaster of unknown ADD. The runaway Amtrak came 7 years ago. Of course I thought it was me since he said it was until my 26 year old daughter came to me with "what is wrong with Dad." That was the beginning of the journey to find out........should have let it go, in hindsight, as I knew when I discovered ADD he would not take it well. THAT was an understatement. Finally went for said "it was MILD". Thanks Doc. End result is 7 years of getting it wrong and getting it right on my part and NOT GETTING IT AT ALL ON HIS. Coupled with a mindset of the male female hierarchy(I can laugh at that) and I am done. I am saving myself NOW. I will not waste one more day trying to save the marriage.He certainly has not wasted any of his time(am I thick?) He truly was a hardworking, getter done, easy going, always on the go person but that person left 7 years ago.(He quit drinking caffeinated coffee,dr said that had been a natural stimulant for him. Hubby would drink approx. 4-5 POTS a day since a teenager OMG!) Thanks again LN for the calm tone that I am sure has been a journey of  frustration, anger and disappointment. I wonder sometimes if my husband truly ever loved me why did I become the enemy so quickly?