This an earnest question, when someone makes decisions and takes actions that they are completely aware are hurtful and destructive, can it really be ADD, or are they just an a$$hole? And actually, does it even matter?

My husband has been diagnosed bipolar, and then ADD. He will not take medication. 25 years of marriage, 3 amazing kids. More job losses, financial stress and cycles of anger than I can describe. 20 years ago he had an emotional affair and we got through it with counseling and moving to another state. 2 years ago, he had another emotional affair. Back to counseling (couples and individual and he ended the interactions with the woman) and he began to accept that he has ADD, but wouldn't take meds. This year, I was laid off and all 3 kids were prepping to head out on their own amazing adventures - another high-stress time for all. I discovered this summer that when I lost my job, he reconnected with his "friend" from 2 years ago. (Despite several therapists identifying his relationship as an emotional affair in every sense of the word, he still categorizes it is just a friendship.)

This time I will not go to counseling until the "friendship" is suspended  - his counselor, mine and a couples counselor concur. He refuses to give up the relationship. He has moved out (to his sister's) and won't communicate with anyone about how he is feeling, what he wants, what he intends to do. The kids are devastated that he has chosen this path rather than attempt to work to any sort of mutual decision about our marriage. I feel no option but to start legal separation actions.

I recognize the impact of ADD and the inappropriately angry reactions that I contributed to the negativity of our marriage.  I'm still willing to talk and try to work on some sort of relationship. However, his choice to continue a relationship that causes me pain and to put it at a higher value than our marriage and family doesn't feel like ADD. It feels like he is simply an a$$hole. 

I've talked with several other women who have similar stories - bad behavior later categorized as untreated ADD, but by then the relationships are destroyed. 

Interested to hear thoughts and insights from the forum. 

Hi.  I'm sorry to hear about

Hi.  I'm sorry to hear about what you're going through.  I filed for a legal separation almost 5 months ago, and my husband has chosen to not talk about it.  Right now, he is living with his parents.  (Our children are out of the country; it seemed like a good time to find out how a physical separation would feel.)  So, I can relate to much of what you're going through.  My conclusion is that although my husband might or might not have ADHD, it is not an excuse, and that what is more likely the cause is deeply entrenched passive aggressive behavior.  So, I suggest reading about PA men.  Also, I recommend the book "Should I Stay or Should I Go."  

A different take

Thirty years ago, before I was on the scene, my husband had a 2 year affair with a woman who was obsessive about him. He finally ended the relationship for good (it was frequently ending and restarting) because he knew he could never be what she really wanted. She took it very badly and my husband has carried guilt around with him all this time, because he was really fond of her. 7 years ago he "reconnected" with her.  We were going through a particularly bad patch in our relationship (I didn't know about ADHD then) and she was supposedly happily married and didn't want to threaten her marriage but wanted to continue with a "special friendship" to heal the past wounds. My husband is someone who reacts very badly when forced into a corner and so I knew that putting pressure on him to stop seeing her would damage our own relationship still further. I also think (if I am completely honest) that part of me felt that if he left me for her, it would be my way out of doomed relationship without losing any moral high ground. Therefore I allowed the relationship to continue. What followed was a year of intense communication between the two of them with fairly frequent meetings which they both looked forward to with huge anticipation. My husband  behaved somewhat better towards me, as he knew I was unhappy about the affair (although I don't think he really understood the pain I went through). After a year, I sensed that my husband was losing interest. Once they had caught up on all their mutual issues over the last 25 years, they didn't really seem to have much in common. His poor communication skills combined with his declining enthusiasm meant that he took ages to reply to her emails and she became more needy for his attention, something he hates. Eventually, he told her that he felt that "what they had was over". However, he said he would continue to keep in touch very occasionally (I think this assuages his guilt about dumping her for the second time). He now sees her about once a year and I sense that he sees it as his obligation (plus it has now become a habit to pop in and see her when he is visiting a nearby friend on his birthday).

Two years ago, I learned about ADHD and recognised that this was the most logical explanation for my husband's various odd behaviours and so many of the problems in our relationship. He is still at the denial stage, so I am having to bring about change in our marriage without his co-operation, but it is having positive consequences, and we are now in a somewhat better place. Observing his relationship with this other woman over the last 7 years has given me great insight into both my husband and our own marriage. I easily recognised the Initial Stages of Hyperfocus, followed by the loss of enthusiasm when this phase had passed, followed by how great an effort it was for him to try and maintain something that did not give him a buzz. I can actually believe him when he says "I can't remember" when I ask him to tell me what they talk about, rather than believing deep inside that he is avoiding telling me things that I wouldn't want to hear. He really can't remember, because most of what she talks about is of absolutely no interest to him. He now admits that they were both deluding themselves when they described themselves as "special friends" although he cannot come up with a more appropriate label. I think of her as his "ex platonic mistress".  This might sound like an oxymoron, but I think is an accurate description.

I am not advocating this journey to anyone. I am simply offering it to show that affairs, whether sexual, emotional or platonic, can sometimes be survived. I think you are right to avoid any sort of counselling with your husband at the moment, but why abandon your own support? You have a tough journey ahead, whichever road you take. Do whatever you can to stay strong and enjoy the time with your children without him around to change the dynamics. And try to avoid using your children as sounding boards - if a reconciliation does ever take place, it is better that they are not aware of all the gruesome details.

Taking care of me

Thank you for your response. To be sure, I'm taking care of myself and am in individual counseling. He is in individual counseling as well, but I have no idea if ADD is part of their discussions, or if his counselor has any experience with adult ADD. If my husband were in the home, or even willing to talk, I might be able to implement some changes in my reactions & interpretations to his behavior. But he's gone and not communicating, so I'm moving forward with a legal separation. Three strikes, you're out.

I am encouraging my kids to learn about ADD so they can understand and have some compassion in order to determine what relationship they can have with their dad. My constant refrain to him before he left, "Your actions speak your truth." He left & won't end his "friendship" therefore, I have no reason to believe he wants to be married. So, in September 2014, we no longer will be. It's challenging, but necessary, to come to terms with the reality that I can't make him accept help, or see the changes that are necessary for him to live an emotional mature life. 

Speaking your truth

It sounds as if you are making the right decisions.  He is speaking clearly with his feet, and you must respond to what he is telling you.  Furthermore, you've been through this enough.  As the woman who endured her husband's affair above atests, you can get through them...many couples actually do.  But the dynamics of your particular situation don't suggest that this is/could be one of those times.  Good luck to you.

I'd say ASS

I'm new to the forum but not to ADHD.  I think you already know that your husband's problem is that he won't give up his affair.  Whether or not you can blame it on his ADD, is kind of irrelevant at this point.  I would not excuse him to your children either.  He is making his choices and they should know that.  It's up to the individual to work with his problems and not make things worse for his family.  And your husband has chosen not to do that.  You've already been through this once and done everything you can do.

I am sorry for your situation.

good question

"...does it even matter?"

I am not sure--in my case my ex's behavior was so hurtful and damaging for so long that I switched from wanting to figure it out to simply wanting to end it. I really didn't care any more if it were ADHD or something else (although understanding ADHD did explain a lot:-) I am so sorry you are going through this. I work with someone whose spouse just walked out on her and their teenage children for a younger woman he had known for a few weeks. It makes me incredulous when someone with children behaves like this.  

Remember that you can't control his behavior, only what you do in reaction to it. It sounds like a great time to focus on you. Can you get counseling for your kids (it did a world of good for mine)? And protecting yourself legally is a great step--if he is being erratic and not communicating, you may find yourself in the position of needing some rules and financial support from him. Exercise, try to eat well, take care of yourself, and focus on your children. You deserve it (and lol, I discovered as a single parent that if you don't take care of yourself, no one else is going to)! 

Explaining this to your children is the toughest part, and it is no fun to be the only parent who is responsible for it. I was pretty angry at my spouse, but since mine were pretty young, I consulted a family counselor myself about how to talk to them about it. I try hard not to get upset about anything he does--I figure mine need at least one stable and calm parent. 

Best to you and good luck. Hang in there. I thought I would be a dried-out husk of a person forever when I left my ex. Almost a year later, I am happier than I have been in a very long time, and so are my children. Getting that stress out of my life was a godsend. 


I'm So Exhausted's picture

It takes a while for the light bulb to come on!

Hello MovingOnNow,

I have been part of this forum for 2 years and 46 weeks.  I guess I must have joined right around the day I put in writing to my ADHD spouse that I will no longer yield to his anger.  I did spend about a year feeling sorry for him.  It was I who had always bent/yielded/changed-my-mind to his way of thinking and his demands.  Oiy!  It was a horrible mother/child situation - he threw tantrums, I gave in - and that cycle continued for 26 years.  So, in an essence, I yanked the rug out from under his cozy situation.

I have been angry, sad, and now greatly disappointed that I haven't figured out how to change the dynamics into a healthy functional relationship.  

This past week has been the worst I have had to live with - I found inappropriate stuff on our laptop - almost reamed out my son for looking at such stuff - and then realized it was my spouse who had visited those sites.  The man who had put such high moral demands on everyone - his friends, siblings, family and children - and judged them unmercilessly.

Now I sit in the dysfunctional situation of my daughter feeling bad for him - poor victim - Mom is mad, and Dad is sad and despondent, and she will "forgive and love him regardless" and give Mom the cold shoulder.  The forgiving him is not the problem, it's her giving me the cold shoulder that hurts me.  

Oiy, Oiy, Oiy!  And how can I expect anything different?  Wasn't it I who modeled accepting poor behavior for her?  Yep.   

This behavior of his was a deal breaker for me.  I am currently looking for a live-in nanny job, so that I can be separate from him, and take the time to figure out where I go from here.  I gotta forgive because he said he was sorry.  Accept- -nope.