ADHD and Infidelity

Since reading Dr Orlov's wonderful book, I've been working hard to alter my behavior and not nag and criticize the way that I'd become accustomed to doing about all the weird things my partner does that never seemed to change. It's been a challenge but has been very rewarding to know that there is something I can do besides stay after her for her neglect of me, her forgetting things constantly and many other small things that go on and on. Things initially got better and we were discussing finding a therapist for her. We also argued far less, not much at all. Then things worsened again. I thought I was actually getting better at not nagging and talking about problems differently, offering encouragement when things went well. I became discouraged. Turns out, she has been building a romance with a co-worker where there is kissing, sexting and negative talk about me (that he is just fine with if it gets him closer to getting laid I would presume). She told me about the situation after lying about it several times. It started off as a crush and after it got more serious, she stopped talking about it and I discovered by asking questions.

I don't know where to go with things now. We are an interracial couple, I'm Black and she's white. My family loves her but they are also old school and will likely not be very impressed if our family dissolves because she's fucking around. I don't want our son to grow up with it impressed upon him that his white mother broke up the family by cheating. This detail isn't about ADHD, I know, but I'm trying to give an idea of the pressure I'm under. I love her and want to make it work but don't know which way to go at this point. She doesn't show remorse that seems sincere and that makes me feel like there is no way to fix this. Thanks in advance to any encouragement, advice or support offered this is a great community filled with wonderful people that I'm proud to be among.


I'm sorry to hear about your

I'm sorry to hear about your situation.  You must feel crushed by your wife's unfaithfulness.  I won't advise for or against divorce, but I will say that if you do split up with your wife, no one needs to know that the reason was infidelity.  (Just as I should not tell my children all the gory details of their father's behavior that have resulted in me wanting to separate from him.)

carathrace's picture

Oh Marc, that really stinks. 

Oh Marc, that really stinks.  I'm so sorry this has happened.  You are facing not only ADHD symptoms, which would be bad enough, but infidelity and lying about the infidelity.  Ack.

It sounds like you were trying to improve your relationship, while she was definitely NOT.  If she were willing to stop all contact with this co-worker immediately, and intentionally focus on the relationship she has with you which probably includes joint counseling (not to mention if she were sorry about the other guy!) then I'd say you have a basis to go forward.  Otherwise, what can you do?  What would be your motivation to "work hard to alter your behavior" if her attention is on the guy at work?  Sorry, this would be a deal-breaker for me.

You say "I don't want our son to grow up with it impressed upon him that his white mother broke up the family by cheating."  What if you take the "white" out of that sentence?  The point is, if your family gets broken, it will be because she cheated, period.  But in my experience, the reasons a couple gets divorced don't need to be talked about with children.  They just need to know it isn't their fault, and that you both love them. 

Thanks support family for

Thanks support family for taking the time to reply. It's been difficult. I am daunted by the challenges of ADHD but I feel like I can't get traction in this relationship to even face the ADHD squarely on with this kind of thing in the mix. I don't know if any of you are Black and over 30 but you must understand that my parents are above 60 and grew up in a time when this country was much different than it is now in certain ways. I write this speaking to the idea of taking the 'white' out of the sentence. Me taking it out of the sentence might read better for some but I'm just trying to express my reality. And removing the word from a sentence on this forum won't help my reality. She will be seen that way. It's just the truth. Older Black people were treated very badly in the southern United states. My Dad was born in 1948 in middle Georgia. Anyway, enough about that stuff. It is just an added pressure if we break up. I don't want to break up. I think we can be healthy but she seems to be so angry now all of the time. I'm not perfect by any means. A lot of resentment has built up on her end by me nagging about things she would do that I didn't understand for so long. Like constantly forgetting lots of things. I didn't get it. Now I do and am trying to stop. 

But her mind is on the other person and because that other person is new and doesn't have the baggage of real life tensions (they just see each other in that perfect lustful light) I look and feel like a drag. The ADHD I think compounds the situation where she hyperfocuses on this guy, who by the way is lying and cheating on his partner, as being ideal and me as being something less than that. I don't know what.

I know that people can have a lot of baggage that can make them do some things that they otherwise wouldn't do. Compound that with the dynamics of ADHD and you have a pretty difficult soup of things to figure out. I'm very hurt (to put it lightly, and I know many here can understand) but I'm also still in love with her and I have some patience left. Here is a concrete question.

Should I just work overtime and put aside all of the distrust and hurt and just focus on the ADHD dynamics from my end and give it more time?

carathrace's picture

a one-month contract?

"Should I just work overtime and put aside all of the distrust and hurt and just focus on the ADHD dynamics from my end and give it more time?"

Are you able to do that?  You can put the distrust & hurt aside, at the same time she's cultivating this other relationship?  You're a better man than I am.

But I think I know what you're hoping:  that you can show her things can be different, better with you; that you won't nag anymore about her ADHD issues; and that when she sees how good it could be, she'll choose you.  That could happen.  I'm just wondering though, if because of her ADHD hyperfocus, she's got her spotlight turned on the co-worker and can't even see you.  (If you saw Lord of the Rings, it's like when Aragorn and the Fellowship distracted Sauron's Eye from Frodo and Sam so they could destroy the ring.  If you didn't see the movie, this will sound like gibberish.)  You're wanting to distract her eye back to you, and that's a noble cause.  How to do that?

What if you made a deal with her.  For one month, 30 days, if she will promise you to have no contact with this guy, no talking no nothing, and just focus on the relationship between the 2 of you and your child -- you will promise to do your best to show her what your new knowledge of ADHD has taught you.  You promise to suspend your distrust & hurt, and she promises to suspend her anger and old resentments.

By the way, I didn't mean to offend you with my remark about taking the white out of the sentence.  I understand how your parents & relatives might see this, but I just think for now, don't worry about it.


I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. It must be especially crushing to do your part and think you are making progress, and then be blindsided by infidelity. 

I would think you would need a strong commitment from her at this point to be able to trust her again--not only has she been physically unfaithful, but it sounds as if she has been talking about you with another person in a negative way (which for me is possibly worse than the physical part). 

If you are interested in making it work, I wouldn't worry about what your family would think or the race issue. This is between you and her. Could you relay what you have said here to her with the therapist as a third party? And list clearly what you would need to stay with her? Then the ball would be in her court. 

My best to you. I am sorry you have to go through this heartbreaking situation, especially with a child. 

adhd and infidelity: so sorry Marc


     I know the hurt and pain caused by both the ADHD and infidelity in a spouse. My husband is seriously ADHD and had a 3 year affair with a woman less than half our ages and 10 years younger than our own daughters. It was DEVASTATING. There was so much I was dealing with already, due to the undiagnosed adhd, but the affair was something that I didn't think he would EVER do. He didn't seem the type of person to do that, he said he always "detested" that in other people and the adhd books even told me that adhd'ers usually AREN'T the type to carry on affairs. So, it didn't make sense.

I LOVE the fact that you seem so compassionate and caring, and it hurts me as well that your wife doesn't seem to be seeing that right now. I know from my own experience AND many others ADHD spouses, that, sometimes the persons with ADHD.... HATE to maintain what they have, and are always looking for something new, whether it's in projects or "things", or even relationships....but it really sucks for those of us who have to share their lives. My prayers are with you.


Thanks for the compassionate

Thanks for the compassionate and thoughtful responses everyone. My wife was gone for several days in a hotel with the manager from her job. After that I tried to reconcile with her still. In the end, the attempts failed. Her manager is also almost twice her age and he is also married with no plans to leave that situation. Meanwhile, we are splitting time with our son. It is an extremely challenging situation that I feel confident the Lifetime movie channel would have a difficult time believing. After some time oscillating between deep depression, sadness and fury I have settled in a place where I can see my own fault in the situation as well. GET HELP! I waited, thinking we could figure things out on our own. Not understanding what the problem even was. I think there is a serious deficiency in understanding what we are calling ADHD. It isn't as simple as other maladies. There are degrees. I believe that not understanding the factor of degrees leads people to reject the diagnosis entirely. And that leads to not receiving treatment at all or serious delays in treatment. Both of which can be disastrous for family life and for the lives and welfare of children. I am happy for my child and our family but if I had to do things again I would probably avoid a partner with severe ADHD.

I am totally with you

Marc, your story was just like mine. I finally separated from my ADHD husband after indescribable pain due to his infidelity, lies and deception. And I hear you Marc, I still love him all from my heart. It is killing me alive but I know he will NOT change. All we can do to our loved ones are, I guess, pray for them and move on. Thank you for sharing your story and feelings. I am glad I am not the only one suffering and trying to get through this.

Best of luck with you.