ADHD and Marriage - Giving Up Control

Control issues create one of the most common Catch-22s of ADHD-impacted marriages.  Take on what your partner isn’t doing and you are overwhelmed with what you have to do and resentful of the burden.  Don’t take on what your partner isn’t doing and you are overwhelmed by what isn’t getting done and resentful your partner isn’t pitching in more.  So how do you stop trying to control your partner, get his or her buy-in, and get out of this lose/lose situation?

Easier, But Not Better

We move into controlling behavior as a survival strategy when faced with the ADHD symptoms of procrastination, poor planning or organization, distraction and defensiveness.  Many of us “took control” at a time when neither we nor our partners knew about the ADHD or, if we knew, didn’t understand the full impact of ADHD on the relationship.  Taking control, and/or trying to get our partners to “do better” seemed like the right approach.

Unfortunately, controlling behavior is a coping strategy, and a bad one.  With few exceptions, the person who is being controlled resents it, and their response to you, the controller, becomes more and more negative and disconnected.  (“My partner is really unpleasant to be with – she always bosses me around.  Even if I have a good idea about something I keep it to myself so that I don’t need to listen to her harp at me.”)  Furthermore, when one partner is trying to control the other partner, they come to lose respect for each other. 

You Have No Choice

What enabled me to stop controlling my husband (after many years of trying to ask, cajole, entice and outright order him to do things differently,) was coming to the realization that having control over your spouse is an illusion.  If you want to be happily married, you need to internalize that not only is it undesirable to try to control your spouse, but it’s actually impossible.  The act of controlling always makes things worse, not better.

“But if I hand over control, nothing will get done!” is what I used to think – thus perpetuating my controlling behavior.  To get away from this mindset, think about handing over control in a way that’s not an abdication of responsibility, but rather transition of responsibility – done in a way that includes both partners.

Getting the ADHD Partner Involved in the Solution

In order to effectively give up control, the ADHD partner must agree to be part of the solution – committing to doing what it takes to be a full (or, more specifically, a “good enough”) partner in the relationship, not a “child” to be instructed or nagged in “parent/child” dynamics.  With a background of mistrust in your relationship, getting either one of you to open yourselves up again to be able to change the dynamics of control can be hard.  The ADHD partner assumes (because it’s happened before) that while the intentions of the non-ADHD partner may be good, the reality is that she will not be able to resist bossing him around or criticizing the first failure.   I call this the “wham/bam” – the ADHD partner tries something, does really well for a while, then loses focus and makes a misstep and “wham/bam” his non-ADHD partner comments, criticizes or loses hope.  It happens ALL the time unless you are specifically trying to prevent it from happening (if you’re a non-ADHD partner – be very self-critical and make sure you don’t perpetuate this pattern.  You can express disappointment, just don’t do it in a way that is critical or controlling.)

On the other side of things, the non-ADHD partner assumes that the ADHD partner may try something new but won’t have the ability to stick with it.  Again, the fear is well-founded – it takes a lot of effort - and the introduction of specific external structures that reinforce deadlines, task completion and the like - to permanently change procrastination behaviors.  It takes effort to set these up, and it is very common for an ADHD partner to not be able to sustain initial attempts at changing behaviors or completing tasks.  Watching your ADHD partner struggle – yet again – with completing what he/she committed to is terrifically frustrating and it’s really hard not to jump in with suggestions or assistance.  Nonetheless, it’s critical to find a balance between “holding the line” on insisting your partner contribute and being empathetic to the difficulty they will have to do so.

I suggest you have a learning conversation about control issues in your relationship and listen carefully (and humbly) to what your partner has to say.  I think you’ll hear some of these themes:

From the ADHD partner:

  • I hate it when you boss me around, and so I avoid interacting with you around potentially contentious issues.
  • I’m trying harder than you realize (note to ADHD folks here – if you are trying hard and still not reaching your goals take a new approach that is shown to be generally successful for people with ADHD.)
  • Your controlling behavior makes me feel unloved and like a child

From the non-ADHD partner:

  • It drives me crazy that you can’t/won’t carry more responsibility in this relationship – I’m getting to the point where I can’t take it any longer
  • I hate it when you are defensive or elusive when I ask you to help out – it makes me feel unloved
  • I’m working much harder than you realize – recognition of this fact would help ease the pain a little bit.

Internalizing the meaning and import of these themes is critical - controlling behavior hurts you both.  After many years of our struggling with my “wham/bam” and his being “consistently inconsistent,” George (my ADHD husband) was willing to step up and make the changes he needed to make ONLY AFTER I had convinced myself that I was no longer going to play the “try to control him” game.  Don’t tell me this is unfair – “look, yet another thing that I, the non-ADHD partner, have to do!”  If you understand the concept that you can’t control your partner, you also understand that the ONLY person in whom you can affect change is yourself.  It’s either change your own actions, or continue in controlling behaviors by nagging your partner to change his/hers.  To get out of the cycle you are in – the only option is to change yourself.

I describe the process of giving up control in my book, in the chapter on setting boundaries and refinding yourself.  I urge you to read it, as the process of understanding who you want to be again (after all this turmoil and bad feelings) provides a very important structure within which you can change in a consistent, satisfying way.  Giving up control is about taking care of yourself, not your partner, and creating clear expectations.

Once you have a better appreciation for the pressure that controlling behavior puts on your relationship, you can use these ideas to improve your situation:

  • Most important:  get treatment for ADHD symptoms – the ADHD partner needs specific structures in place to be a reliable partner (rather than inconsistent, which encourages controlling behavior in the non-ADHD spouse)
  • Find 1-2 specific tasks to hand over to the ADHD partner via a transition – remember, don’t abandon your partner, just insist on more reliability (the ADHD partner is then charged with figuring out how to be more reliable)
  • Vow to control yourself, not your partner.  Set up a verbal cue to identify controlling behavior so you can teach yourself to stop.
  • Refind yourself.  By clarifying who you want to be (generally that means not controlling!) you can create an environment for yourself which includes only your best behavior (see my book for more on this).  A very important step for stopping controlling your spouse is learning that you are better off when you are not in control mode.  In other words, when you love yourself you are also more likely to end up in a balanced relationship.
  • Read a good book on co-dependence. One good option is Melody Beattie’s classic, Codependent No More:  How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself.

The Bottom Line

This is scary stuff – because if your ADHD partner doesn’t “come along” and take up the responsibility you hope he or she will take up, you will find yourself wondering whether or not your marriage can survive.  But I ask you – can it survive with one of you frustratingly and continuously in control, with building resentment and disconnection, with a lessening of respect over time as parent/child dynamics continue?  Will you like yourself 10 years from now if you are still the controller in your relationship?

The bottom line is this – the only way that the two of you can make your relationship happy again is to re-balance your partnership to a place that pleases you both.  In our household, the only way to do that was for me to internalize that I could not do anything but cede control of my husband’s life back to my husband – and take control only of myself.


How to let go of non-ADHD husband's behavior and focus on mine?

Hi Melissa,

Your post could not have been more timely.  I am the ADHD partner in the marriage.  I am on medication, in therapy with a psychologist with a thorough understanding of ADHD (both she and I have read your book as well).  I take fish oil, have started logging how long it (actually) takes me to complete tasks so I can better manage my time (homework from my therapist), and I have improved in this regard.  I have also put small durable notebooks in my purse to take notes when my husband says something to me I need to remember when he is driving, have a notepad on my car dashboard in case I randomly remember something important at a stoplight, have hung up "packing lists" per your book's suggestion which I have put in plastic sheet protectors so I can write over them to check off individual tasks.  I also have a whiteboard in our bedroom, as my husband sometimes thinks of things right before we go to bed.

Here's my issue:  my husband told me a year ago he no longer loves me and is just staying for the children's sake.  It has been the worst year of my life.  Even though I am making progress in the areas above, I am stuck when it comes to listening skills.  He has been increasingly depressed and morose, even more critical, and I'm having serious trouble not reacting impulsively to his criticisms.  The most awful thing about impulsivity manifesting is that even if I realize I'm wrong the second the words come out of my mouth, it's too late.  By that time, he's even angrier, telling me I never ever listen and will never ever change (which is so very demoralizing, especially when I'm proving his point).  Once I become panicked, I feel like a blind man throwing punches.  I become incoherent as far as logic is concerned, can't remember anything I've said, contradict myself, say stupid things that I know aren't correct but are somewhat to very venomous.

I haven't been able to see my therapist in about 3 weeks due to a virus, my recent surgery, and I won't be able to see her for a few more weeks.  I would really appreciate any suggestions or advice you might have.  I still love him and can see the very good person within.  I think he (and I) have become "misshapen by anger" as you have written, and I want to stop this pattern from my end, regardless of his behavior.  I am in awe of the fact that you were able to simply decide to be a better person and for that change to be so immediate in light of the fact that you felt your marriage was in imminent danger.  We don't even have an "end date," there is no one else involved, and I still can't seem to change this part of myself.  I know it is much more difficult to listen for a person like me, but I really don't want to excuse myself from it.   Also, like others with ADHD, it is really hard for me to learn from my mistakes.  How do I help myself as the ADHD partner when I am meeting so much resistance and criticism?  How do I resist the lure of impulsivity and really actively listen when I am feeling so defensive, angry, and frankly sad?  I am not asking this rhetorically; I really don't know how to accomplish this.

Finally, you had kindly written back to me in December and suggested I have him make a list of ways in which I am not listening.  He wouldn't do it and said it was "my problem."  I would have written it down if he would have dictated it to me, but he refused.

Thank you for everything you do to help people like me.  I appreciate you reading my lengthy post.  I am not great at condensing information.


Heather, what next?

Heather, I really like the changes you are describing (concrete ways to stay more organized, etc) and the effort you are expending.  Bravo to you!

One of the questions I think you need to ask yourself is is it okay with you if your husband stays just for the children's sake?  Do you think that's enough reason for him to stay, even if it's hurtful to you (which it clearly has been) and to him (evidenced by his increasing depression)?  And is he intending to leave once the kids are out of the house?

What you have described is a situation in which you are working hard, while he (at least from your description) is NOT.  One person cannot change a marriage alone, so as a system, this isn't going to work.  For example, you say that you might say something and "as soon as the words come out of my mouth, it's too late" because he gets angrier.  In fact, if he were working with you it wouldn't be too late.  He could choose to respond differently, for example saying "that comment really made me mad" and then giving you a chance to apologize (and then accepting the apology) so you could then focus on what you need to do better next time, rather than on how demoralized you feel and whether or not you are a failure.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not blaming him for your act of saying something you shouldn't, I'm only pointing out that if he were also involved in working with you, then you would be much more likely to have success in making the changes you so obviously wish to make.

Which leads me to suggest that you ask him to be more involved in helping the two of you find a better place for your relationship.  You can document your successes (and should) and he should start documenting his own progress.  What are his goals?  What can he do to help your relationship be a better one?  (Forget about his helping you manage the ADHD - he shouldn't do that - only you can do that.)  

My personal opinion is that you are unlikely to be happy living with a man who says he doesn't love you, even if you think it's for a good cause (for the kids).  For comparison, my husband used to tell me that he loved me, but wasn't "in love" with me - which drove me nuts, but also made sense since I was doing a lot of parenting of him and that's not romantic.  But the basic idea that he was at least able to say he loved me gave me something to hang onto.  You may have ADHD, but you deserve to be loved.  If you think his words are about a temporary situation, and he shows you that he's at least willing to work at building something better than an emotional desert, then you may have the opportunity to turn things around.  If he's unwilling to work with you, then it is out of your hands.

From your description he doesn't strike me as one who would consider couples counseling, but would he consider taking my upcoming couples course (see the overview in the events section)?  I stress the importance of both members of the couple working together, talk about communication strategies and the like.  Perhaps it would offer an opportunity for him to re-engage.

As for YOU:

  • keep up the good effort learning how to manage your ADHD - it takes time and practice but your life will become easier as you figure it out
  • look into the possibility of mindfulness training (talk with your therapist about this)  New research suggests that mindfulness meditation/training actually changes the physical structures in your brain to enhance attention etc - this may eventually help you deal with your emotions (like the anxiety that you feel when you have difficult conversations) and your inhibition and blurting things out
  • since your husband isn't being supportive, find other ways to give yourself the positive feedback you need to keep up your energy and drive.  Start to take care of yourself as best you can
  • consider a journal - something that helps you think about your mistakes and, importantly, create plans to manage things better next time you are in the same situation
  • remember that you have needs, too.  While you have many things to work on, surely, you also have needs and it's okay to talk about them and ask that they be met.


Counseling  is what I  would

Counseling  is what I  would like to do next. Notice I say I because we haven't had a serious talk about it yet. I've mentioned that my ADHD partner should probably get back into it with his councilor but haven't out right asked him if it is his plan. I think I have been saying the same things over and over but if he hears it from someone else it seems to sit better and longer in his brain. Not to mention what I can learn and hear from a third party. Right now I am feeling strangely strange. Last week I was searching. But as I write this I realize I was doing it alone. I've had some great things happen. Doors opened. But still I feel strangely like " what's up?". I had last weekend with my children and all went well, meaning they didn't have to listen to us bicker all weekend. This week he " made the move" on numerous occasions and it was me that made things strange. It was like I was with someone else. Some would say, close your eyes and enjoy it. It was hard I just kept feeling puzzled. He could tell too. I couldn't trust him, his motives because sex has generally only been about him for so long that when I caught him actually looking at me I was kinda freaked out. So all this thinking is not conducive to romance nor giving my partner a feeling of love, acceptance, forgiveness. I know ! what was I complaining about right ! I guess it was change. Brought on by HIM. He also told me at one point this week that he's getting it. Something has changed in him. He couldn't really describe it but I could see it too. He's still distracted, has distorted thoughts and tells me and doesn't understand why I don't feel the same way, but he seems to see that the way he's always done it hasn't been making "HIM" very happy. Could it simply be that we are starting to understand and accept ADHD as something that is there and each of us on our own can do things to make life easier. I'm not sure if he sees it as adapting to how it effects his life but more " finally she's happy and not constantly bitching or crying." Either way right now the point is that he is aware and trying. I've lived differently for so long that it's hard to trust the progress. I know that this smooth patch is not forever and our next step is counseling. We both know it and I'm in individual counseling myself. Oh yea, I'm not perfect.

My biggest fear this week was his paycheck yesterday. So many mistakes that could have happened and so many times it has for me to base my worries on. None of them happened. All of it came home for bills and living. He snatched a 20 off the pile on his way out the door this morning and I flinched and jumped on him. Started firing questions at him as he's walking out the door. I am ultra aware because he's had a very expensive and damaging drug addiction for years and is very triggered by money. He's been clean no longer than a couple of weeks at a time since forever. This time 2 weeks. Anyhow it was all accounted for and he could tell me what money he had spent and on what. It sounds and is controlling but it has been our reality and now I'd like to have different ways of managing our money other than me constantly keeping an eye on it. Either way today I almost drove the "getting along truck" right into the ditch. I tried to cover my reaction with " oh I just wanted to know everything because we talked about a budget for a week to see where all our money is going, like document our spending. Quick thinking on my part but fooled neither of us.

Maybe he see the ways I'm trying, maybe that got him to want to try too. I don't know but today I'm going to be aware of who I am in this relationship and how I am able to accept my partners difficulties and gladly accept his awareness and efforts. And continue to read Melissa's book. This morning he asks over coffee " so have you learned anything new about ADHD this week?" He caught me so off guard that I was almost speechless. No rush, things worth working for are so much more rewarding in the end. No quick fixes here. Gotta take my vitamin today ! As he said last night " I'm happy today " Prime example of now and not now thinking. I'll take

Thank You

Hi Melissa,

I have been waiting to have a minute to respond to your helpful suggestions, but I've printed them out, and have been reading and re-reading them every day.

My husband actually said quite recently that he does love me, he just isn't "in love with me."  I didn't mention this because at the time of my post, he hadn't said that in months and months.  He's been so angry at me that we've gotten to this point, and doesn't actually understand how much of this is connected to my ADHD, even though ALL of the problems he mentions we've had over the years (not listening, misinterpreting, only hearing part of what he says, extreme difficulty implementing lasting changes most of the time, arguing for stimulation as well as the fact I've only listened to part of what he has said, impulse control issues, lack of prioritization, being late, unable to rely on me to do what I said I was going to do due to EXTREME forgetfulness, chronic stress from feeling like he has to manage everything) are absolutely connected to this.  Reading your book is the FIRST time I've understood why I was incapable of making changes that last or frankly, even seeing what the problem was.  He keeps telling me that he hasn't had time to read your book, but promises to read it, even though it "won't make a difference."  Further, he is annoyed that I have the audacity to harp on this when there are so many things that I've promised to do over the years, but have not done due to lack of time.  I responded to him by saying that surely he recognizes that the best part of his brain (frontal lobe and his executive functioning skills) is the WORST part of mine.  He conceded that he recognizes how much I genuinely struggle in time-management as opposed to him.  I also added (nicely, but still) that since he is great with time-management to the point he has time for 3 fantasy baseball leagues, he has time to read a book.  Finally, he of his own volition has remarked that he has noticed changes in me.   He noted the bulletin boards and notebooks and how he is kind of amused by the fact they're everywhere, but that they seem to be helping me.  He has also noticed that he can visibly see that I am working hard to bite my tongue and not argue, and how he can tell it is SO difficult for me (he has NO idea!!!)

He has also said he realizes he's been treating me horribly the past few months and that he hasn't been trying at all.  He says that he's not in love with me and never was.  Personally, I think he's rewriting history because he's so bitter, angry, and depressed, but clearly, that's just my opinion.  We have always struggled, unwittingly, as a result of my ADHD and his strong personality, but love was there.  We used to fight and after all of my exasperating behavior and being ready to give up, he would always say, "I guess I must still love you."  I think that after years and years of this he's so defeated, and has said he wonders if he would feel differently if I started implementing all these changes earlier.  This sucks because I really had NO CLUE that what you detail in your book been the root of ALL of our major problems.  I had no idea that there were people like us with the exact same problems, for the exact same reasons.  WTF!!! He wants to divorce me because he's so miserable, and really wants me to accept it.   He also says he doesn't have enough patience for our ADHD son AND me.  I do understand where he's coming from after reading your book in a way I never could.  I still believe, however, that this is salvageable.

Finally, he also offered to go to counseling, something he has NEVER agreed to in the past.   He has made it clear that he is doing this "for me to make me happy" and that it is not so we can "save our marriage."  He added that he would be quite clear with the counselor all of the problems that I have caused over the years and that I would not like what he has to say (please don't mistake my husband for someone who's been holding out on me; I'm sure I've heard it all before). I would like to see if he will agree to do your seminar.  He won't have any excuses for time, nor will we have to get a babysitter.  I do think he needs outside help for his situational depression and seething anger and resentment, but one step at a time.  He is taking fish oil, but it's not enough. 

I will mention the Mindfulness training to my therapist.  I actually had started meditating last October after reading an article about its' positive effect on concentration and stress levels, and reading a subsequent book on it (Who knew I could concentrate and sit still that long???).  I can actually feel blood pulsing in the front of my brain more recently once I've been meditating for several minutes, which is similar to how I've felt after initially starting ADHD meds and restarting them after two pregnancies (prickly sensation in front of head).  I guess that's proof changes are happening in the right area of the brain!  I didn't mention meditation because I've been bad about it since my surgery.  I've restarted since your reminder; thank you.  I've also re-read an article written by your husband about impulse control and anger, which was wonderful, and have identified what triggers my anger with my husband, and to a much lesser extent, my ADHD son.

I had started doing a journal so that I would have something to reference when speaking to my therapist (How do you learn from your fights with your husband if you CAN'T remember them?)  I just bought a binder over the weekend to put my journal, helpful hints that I print out, and the new daily medication chart I've started doing to see how long my meds last based on symptoms returning, such as temper flares and arguments with my husband, mental fog, "flat thinking" as you've written).  I seem to have problems around dinnertime through the kids' bedtime, which is awesome, as I need all hands on deck to cook dinner, interact with the kids, talk to my husband and manage my time.  I take meds twice a day, the 2nd time at 6:00 p.m., but I think I might have to move that 2nd time back some and possibly (?) add a 3rd time.  I'll have to speak with my psychiatrist, who has been wonderfully flexible with me.   I just need to be sure I can actually sleep if there's a 3rd dose involved.  I seem to metabolize my meds faster than the average suggested range.

Thanks again for all that you do!


delighted if you join seminar

I would be delighted to have the two of you join the upcoming couples seminar (starts 4/26) and it would give you both a low-key way to ask questions, as well as some perspective that others have the same questions, too, which is useful in the kind of situation you describe.

Your idea about experimenting with the times you take the meds is a good one - if you see a pattern in which you have a bad part of your day consistently, then there is often opportunity for improvement by impacting that pattern.  Not sure if you'll be able to fit a third dose in without affecting sleep (which is BAD!) but perhaps you can do a long-acting dose in the morning, then short acting in the afternoon?  And some people do cycle through the meds faster than others.  Your doc sounds good and can help you figure it out.

Go to the counselor if you can (find someone who understands ADHD - and many find that asking their counselors to read my book helps put them all on the same page).  You'll find that the counselor is used to having people come in and say "it's all my ADHD partner's fault" and "I'm not interested in working on this, my partner needs to work on it" but a good counselor will be able to get around that point of view in fairly short order.

Your journal is a great idea - do you mind if I use it for a blog post?  I like the idea that it's all-encompassing - articles, your writing, tips, etc.  Meditation is also great.  AND, I like that your husband is finally noticing changes - which is good feedback for you.  Understand that it will be a while before he TRUSTS that the changes are real - this is part of the pattern, but you should continue plowing ahead with as much speed as you can because time will help him believe.

seminar, med choices, and organization

I actually have a long-term med (Concerta) that I take around 5:30 a.m.  I really should take it at 5:00 when I get up, but it seems to last around 11 hours, which would bring me to 4:00.  If I took my Ritalin then, it would bring me to 7:00 or so, but then I would have 3 to 3 1/2 hours feeling like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight!  This is when I do my chores during the week and correct papers, so I need to be able to focus.  I remember reading your husband is on Adderall and it had the highest ratings for on WebMD compared to others I've tried (also Strattera, Vyvanse, Wellbutrin, and my current meds).  I realize everyone's body chemistry is different, but those weren't as effective as Concerta, and ranged from ineffective to having frightening side effects for me.  Again, I know people who take those meds to no ill effect, but they didn't work for me.  If only Concerta came in 16-18 hour form...  I can dream...

Feel free to use the journal idea.  It's the least I can do after all the helpful ideas and insights I've gained from you and your experiences!  I know that we ADHD people are not so awesome with taking an organizational idea and always making it work to its best advantage, so I would suggest the following:

1.  a binder that is big enough to fit present and future ideas, sturdy enough to tolerate abuse if careless (who, us??)

2. is distinct enough to be noticed and used (I picked a color that would stand out to me)

3. purchase a hole-punch so papers can be filed immediately or at least filed well, instead of being shoved in a folder (think back to school experiences or perhaps present experiences with disorganization and paper)

4. tabs  to organize by topic (I am not referring to something that would make Martha Stewart or the Library of Congress proud, because that amount of detail is maddening.  Just enough so it doesn't become another paper vortex and also so it will actually get used.  I have yet to do this, and I need to think of the tabs first.  Journal and Time-Management are definitely 2 of my tabs.

I know what you mean about sleep.  Lack thereof really magnifies all of my symptoms.  I recently started to make a better effort to get sleep, and was SHOCKED to discover that I was actually more productive.  It sounds like such a stupid thing for an educated adult to say, but I had convinced myself that I didn't have time to sleep adequately due to the fact it takes me longer than other people to do certain tasks.   Truth be told, I can think faster and more effectively when I sleep. 

I'm not sure I can convince him to do both your seminar and counseling, but I'll give it a try.    My therapist does marriage counseling in addition to individual counseling.  She has read your book (which was a selling point at my first visit).  Is it a bad idea to recommend her to him?  I don't want him to think she is biased in my favor because she met me first.  I was thinking he should see her individually a few times first so he can unload on her, and then meet with both of us.  She's honest but really affable and non-judgmental, so I know he'd like her.  Also, he just started reading your book last night!  He came down to discuss what he read.  He started off very ornery, but got better as we talked.  I think as he reads on, he'll be more likely to want to take your course.  I just need to figure out which angle to take.  He needs to talk to someone, yet I think it would be supremely helpful to know we're not alone. 

Have a good night!

the other side

I truly feel your pain. I am the spouse of an ADD man. And he is the one who is not as loving, falling away, blaming me because I can't "follow his impulsivity". I allowed him to blame me for everything. It was all my problem. I am not loving enough, I am not understanding enough, I was the reason he strayed, etc....And I know it must be scary, hard, and difficult to live with ADD. I am so sorry for the pain. Like you, I believe my husband is staying simply because of the kids and the financial situation. Just too costly to divorce. But, like your husband, I am becoming depressed. I have not fallen out of love, but I believe he has. I have to be the "no" person. Not a role I want, but for the sake of our family's sanity I must. And I am sure you understand, it makes the ADD spouse resentful. I am going to approach him tonight about taking the online seminar. Not sure how it will go. Because I have been working hard for the past year to see counselors, make sure he takes vitamins and exercises, and pray fervently for humility (in me). I wish I could understand what you live with....I feel very badly for you (and my husband). I know it is a blessing and a curse. I hope you find peace and happiness. As well as hoping I find that for my family. My sole desire is keep my sanity and have a peaceful marriage.

smn66 - so many things went

smn66 - so many things went through my mind reading your short post, I don't even know where to start...

"I allowed him to blame me for everything". Wow. I know you put this in past tense, does that mean you no longer are allowing him to blame you? Lord, I sure hope so. You made another post on here listing many of the things you've been through at the hands of his ADD...and I, too, have been through each one that you listed. First and foremost, something that MUST be cleared up immediately is the misconception he has that it was your fault that he 'strayed'. God help my husband if he EVER said that to me..God help him. When he admitted his affair, he wept...for weeks before telling me...and for days after. His shame and disappointment in himself was so apparently you could taste it in the air. I don't care how "scary" or "hard" it is for him to live with his ADHD, what he did was 100% his fault. I was angry, disrespectful, controlling, bitter, resentful...a nag, a bitch, his "mother" name it, I took that role. I admit it FULLY. But God help him if he ever blamed me (or his ADHD) for his affair. PLEASE PLEASE don't let him blame you. Not even in his mind, the man needs to own up to his own inexcusable behaviors and make the wrong he did right! He should be at your feet begging for forgiveness.

I always said to my husband "it is hard to be loving to someone, give someone attention, when all you do is hurt me". I see in your other post that you said you've been doing a lot of soul searching and finding your way back to a less angry, more loving you. That is an absolutely wonderful thing to do...and God knows it is not easy to do when you're living with the ADDer who isn't taking any responsibility for the fact that their ADD is partially responsible for your anger and loss of 'loving feelings'. So, first off...kudos to you. The next step I would recommend is setting some boundaries for yourself. This man and his uncontrolled ADD are running and ruining your life. I would strongly..VERY STRONGLY recommend Codependent No More (book) for you right now. It has helped me tremendously break the ties that my husbands ADHD has had on me for many, many years. I'm not there, 100%, but I am getting there. It feels good. I know I will never find happiness if I don't get out from under the control of his ADHD. He knows he has ADHD, accepts it, is in counseling, admits his issues (the majority of the time), and takes full responsibility for his actions. I still needed help getting out from under it after living that way for 13 years. Please get the book for yourself.

Next, I know you probably understand this, but nothing is going to change until he breaks down his walls and quits blaming his actions on you. NOTHING. Until he accepts full responsibility for his actions and GETS IT, that his ADD is out of control and responsible for causing, at the very least, half of the problems in the marriage, then you're never going to see change in him. This will only happen if you start setting boundaries for yourself (i.e. demanding he get help, calmly saying "I fully accept my responsibility, but I will not accept the responsibility of your actions" when he tries to blame you for everything, drawing lines in the sand and making it clear that if he crosses them again, it is over...such as cheating). I see you trying your damndest to own up to your part in the next step is insisting he do the same or face the consequences.

Mind if I ask, why you would stay if you don't think he loves you? I do think this is a misconception of many who are married to ADHDers, I think their actions don't show love, so they feel there is no way they could possibly still love them, but I don't always feel that is the case. My husband has always been very loving and expresses his love for me often, even when his behaviors didn't show it, but I always felt deep down he loved me like much as I did him. If I ever got to the point where I didn't believe that, I would be gone. I know I have accepted and forgiven a lot, but if I didn't think he loved me, nothing else would matter. You deserve better. Maybe you only say that because you're so overwhelmed? Maybe on your better days you do feel he loves you?

((((((HUGS))))))) I am praying with you, for humility for HIM and for HIM to be open to your suggestions of the online seminar. I pray that God opens his eyes and heart to what he's doing...and I pray that you find the courage and strength to demand more for yourself and to look him in the eyes and say "enough" and stop taking the blame for his fault in the marriage. Please keep us posted!

Wow I could have written this

Wow I could have written this post word for word. And probably the stinkiest thing is that he is at a place that says all the years past are my fault completey. I beat him down, I controlled him, I did this and that. What did he do? He says he cant remember, and allows himself to leave it at that. Im feelin beaten down. So despite efforts at counseling and all that, it just doesnt seem to make him want to change this initial view. I am finally pushing for boundaries to protect me and the kids- it is up to him to own up to it if he ever does. It is just a struggle to not let his perception of me as a controlling %### push my low self esteem down any farther than it already is.

Heather- I just want to say

Heather- I just want to say THANK YOU! Your post was like a light bulb coming on for me. I do not have adhd, my hubby does (recently diagnosed). Thanks to your post I was able to see things from the other point of view. It sounds silly but it didn't occur to me the difficulties that he may be struggling with. This helped me see how MY anger is demoralizing and discouraging. My hubby and I had not an argument persay but a non meeting of the minds tonight. I read your post and immediately apologized to him for me telling him "these are your problems that became my problems so you fix it and I will stop being angry". I hope your husband is able to overcome his anger and work with you. And not just for the kids. I admire your efforts and thanks again for the enlightenment.
ebb and flow's picture


Thank you for this.

sullygrl's picture

A timely post - thank you

My DH has agreed to go to a neuropsychologist and couples counseling. We have had issues surrounding his ADHD for some time now, and it is only when I made the decision around ME, what do I want, what do I need, that this has happened. Unfortunately, it got to the point where my decision was that I could no longer live in the relationship as it was. I have been going to counseling myself, working on my own issues, and then coming home to someone who was not interested in meeting me halfway. I guess he didn't think it was broken enough to warrant fixing. As soon as the big "D" word came up, his tune was changed. I had never "threatened" this lightly. It was simply at that point. I could no longer go on the way things were, I was just miserable and my emotional health was suffering because of it. So  y best choice was to leave the thing that was no longer healthy, and would not change.

I say a big thank you because these are great points to keep in mind as we begin this chapter.  Having been in counseling by myself I know that the only one I can truly change is me. He has to WANT to change him. And I can't be controlling, but I can hold him to a certain level of responsibility and hold him responsible for his behaviors. How he gets there is up to him. IF he gets there is up to him. I can't change his actions, but I can change my reactions. If he is unable to meet me partway that is on him, not me. And then it is up to me to define what I truly want and can live with. I am grateful for this website and looking forward to getting your book in the mail!

WOW this sounds all too

WOW this sounds all too familiar.  I truly appreciate this narrative.  Thank you. 

How do you explain that this process has a lot to do with the realization that your ADHD partner is the way they are and there is nothing you nor he/she can do about it.  It is extremely hard to accept the role of being the one to change.  I'd say you must unconditionally love your mate in order for the non-ADHD partner to unselfishly take on the responsibilities and keep their mouth shut about the stress/toll its taking on their life/body.  The worst of this for me is the fact I have practically stopped talking to my ADHD mate.  Unfortunately, we disagree on everything under the sun and most disagreeing conversations turn into thunder and end with tears.  We haven't stopped talking, of course not, he talks his face off to me every day; Not realizing at all that I have stopped responding.  But he has realized that we have been fighting less.  Go figure.  I love him.  I must honestly, whole-heartedly love him to change myself for an adult who behaves like a child and has zero appreciation for my daily efforts because he can't help but not notice a thing.  It's not his fault he has ADHD.

set up some verbal cues

If you have a conversational pattern that consistently spirals out of control that's a great opportunity to set up verbal cues that help you get out of that pattern.  Here are the steps:

  1. identify the problem.  Talk with him about these out of control conversations, and agree that they are not in your best interests as a couple.
  2. measure the problem.  Spend a few days measuring just how often this happens, and in what situations
  3. agree to a verbal cue.  Create a verbal cue that either one of you can use to stop a conversation that is about to spiral out of control.  Something like "I'm starting to get defensive so let's talk about this later" can be used as a cue to circle back when you are both less emotional.  You improve your chances of addressing the issue if you wait.  The trick to a verbal cue is that you've both agreed it means STOP!! and agreed to abide by it once the cue is invoked (rather than continue on making your point.)
  4. practice using the cue.  It will seem awkward at first.
  5. circle back as promised.  An important part of the cue is that you do, indeed, come back to resolve the issue, perhaps with a learning conversation

Try it and see if it helps.  Saying that nothing can be changed in your relationship isn't going to help it get better.  And not talking with your spouse is a temporary solution at best, unless you simply no longer wish to have a voice in your relationship.  Otherwise, not talking is likely to lead to resentment down the road. back - how to get it to happen

We have the conversation and fights. They end but as soon as the subject comes up end it is shut down thus resulting in never getting a resolution.

Not solving anything has resulted in me the non-ADHD spouce to look at leaving. 

I'm trying to understand ADHD but he's still not wanting to.

What can I do when he won't get help of any kind. 


ADHD husband against help

If only letting go of control was all I needed to do. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD as a child but it's gone untreated. He felt like an experiment when he was a kid and his father didn't support the treatments. He is close-minded, not willing to consider medication and is unwilling to go to counseling. We've gone before but he's angry, defensive, disrespectful and volatile which doesn't allow us to make any progress. I am just now really learning that so much of what he does and how he thinks is ADHD related from his disorganization to his extremely short temper, lack of a filter and impulse control and selfishness. He is textbook ADHD. He disrepects me, has lied and betrayed me multiple times, has acted irresponsibly on a couple occasions with our infant daughter and I've been living on the couch for months. He comes home every day telling me how much he loves me and tries to get me to warm up to him but I've told him what needs to happen for us to move forward, he needs to work to begin rebuilding trust by being an open book as he once was before. He is unwilling to do anything I say that would make a difference, he just thinks that if I let him hold me and that we go away, our problems will go away. He doesn't want to look inward and does not accept accountability for his actions. He only once admitted he needed help to figure out why he kept screwing things up...but the next day he was back to his defensive self and in denial. He snaps and yells at me in private and public over the dumbest things...then when I get angry back and tell him how I won't tolerate him speaking to me that way all he says is, "did you hear how you talked to me?!" I told him all I did was ask him a question....he's completely oblivious to the fact that he flips out when he simply feels inconvenienced (or for no reason at all) and that I didn't say anything in a threatening or rude way. He can't grasp the fact that I only talk to him in a less than nice tone after he's blatantly disrespected me. He yelled at me because I asked him how big he thought something was in a catalog, how I needed to pluck my eyebrows to make them look even and screamed at me to hang up on a person who was calling about a service I had done on my car for a survey...who I was happy to speak to. If I try to ask a question he doesn't think I should be asking (about the measurement) or doesn't understand or care to answer, he cuts me off and dismisses me.   He tries to control all situations even when they have nothing to do with him. He shows me no respect and lives his life according to his own agenda. When that agenda includes being nice, he is the greatest guy in the world...but when it does not include that, he's a jerk. He is rude to employees in stores if he doesn't think they know enough, etc. 

Sorry this is so long. What I need to know is how to get him to understand his limitations and get him to be open to learn more about this. He's had problems getting along with people his whole life (which I was NOT aware of). I tried to get a friend to talk to him, but he is not assertive enough and never told my husband what he needed to hear. I have nobody else that can talk to him and I can't take anymore. If it wasn't for my daughter, I'd have already left him. I want to make this work for her. And if we don't work out, then I still need him to be a better, calmer person for her. He's not into self-help, counseling, would never read the book, etc. I know he loves me and does not want to get divorced, but when I tell him that is where I'm headed, he'll quickly get defensive and say go file....he shuts down instead of working to resolve this. I'm at a complete loss.

ADD husband against help

"If it wasn't for my daughter, I'd have already left him."  Why in the world would you want your daughter to be exposed to an "angry, defensive, disrespectful and volatile" person?

I know exactly how you feel. 

I know exactly how you feel.  I have yet to find a way to communicate limitations nor bring light to intense initial reactions.  But I hope it helps to know you are not alone.  This website helps me through my rough times.  Its so comforting to read the stories of those out there who can relate and understand exactly what I'm going though.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure you will discover a way to change his behavior.


The "shuts down" immediately can be the effect of being extremely easily overwhelmed, as well as a response to inner fears of failing.  There is, unfortunately, no magic solution that will get your husband to face his inner demons.  Some couples with resistant ADHD partners have taken my couples course with good success (having all those other people also in the course asking the same questions opens their eyes to the fact that it's not THEM per se, but the ADHD).  But it's possible your partner wouldn't even commit to just listening - might be worth a try, though, as it's a pretty low commitment activity.

Unfortunately, in this situation, you risk losing yourself.  If your life is one long stream of him beating up on you, is that better than being on your own???  I am not suggesting that you give up on your marriage, but am encouraging you to understand that not every marriage is worth saving.  At some point in the future you may need to look at this one and assess whether being in an environment in which her mother is constantly disregarded (and puts up with it) is the best role model situation for her.  In the meantime, make sure you set some very specific boundaries and require that your husband tune in to them.  (Some suggestions:  You deserve to be treated with respect; he cannot physically abuse you; he should contribute to the family to a reasonable degree...)  Also, please provide ways that do not depend upon your husband to find happiness and/or peace.

Remember that when you set boundaries for others to pay attention to, you should abide by them yourself.  So if you require that he treat you with respect, then you should do the same for him.  That isn't the same thing as agreeing with him all the time, but rather approaching him in a respectful way (and he you).  You are probably saying "no way this is going to happen here!" at this point.  But it SURELY won't happen in your household if you don't insist that it must.

Thank you Melissa!

I am happy to report that my husband and I have had a heart to heart...I told him I'd been reading about ADHD and he said he thought he was past that..I explained that he absolutely was not and that I've learned a lot about how much it is affecting him now and our relationship. Long story short...he agreed to go over Edward Hallowell's Driven to Distraction book with me and be open to doing what needs to be done to fix things. I plan to go over your book/read it with him...I figured he should see that he has ADHD still before I touch on all your wisdom!  I'm not sure he'll follow through but we will see. I'm not giving in!

ADHD Dad who Needs Help

Thanks's nice to know I'm not alone, and I know there is no guarantee I'll be able to get him to acknowledge his problems and change his behavior...but finding a way to lead him in the right direction is really what I need. To the person who commented before you, my daughter's father is her father whether I stay with him or not. If I am with him, there is a more of a chance he will get help than if I leave him, and I also have more control because there is no shared custody situation to be concerned about and what happens when she is older and I'm not around. I need him to be the best person he can be (and he can be wonderful) with or without me...he owes that to himself and our daughter.

How to Help the Kids

I am all for giving up control.  I hate being the nag and the "responsible and reliable" one.  However, how do you do this effectively when your kids are negatively affected by the ADHD spouse?  If I give up control, my kids suffer because of it.  How do I let my husband handle things when he struggles so much (though he wouldn't admit that he struggles) and my kids want me?  His ADHD has estranged him somewhat from our kids and asking for help with them actually makes it harder for me and for them, especially because he resents having to help.

Give up control vs. transition

Don't give up control all at once - you'll fail and it will just engender more resentment on both sides.  Sit down with your partner and figure out a transition plan.  This means figuring out:

  • what are your top 1-3 priorities?  Focus only on them first.
  • is the ADHD treatment adequate?  If not, when will the ADHD partner next see the doctor and what will he/she ask?
  • are there parts of the top priorities that can be handed off?
  • what's the reminder system for the ADHD spouse (other than the non-ADHD spouse)?  If one doesn't exist that works, create that first.  Without a solid reminder system in place it's hard to stay on task and take full responsibility for something
  • at what points is is okay for you to step back in (for example as a reminder)?  What feels right to you both?

Once you've worked through these items, then you should be able to transition over responsibility for one or two items at a time, and pick up speed after some successes.


I have just recently found this website and it has been great to read through the blogs and comments and discover I am not crazy like my husband claims. We have been together for 16 years and at first everything was wonderful, but like everything I read here we went down the same road. I am the responsible person who pays all the bills, does all the household chores, works fulltime, while my husband hangs out with his friends and tries to find a new career every couple of months. He has never been a stable financial support in the family, when he does work he tends to need all these things before he can help with any bills. I have lived listening to how he needs to have excitement and he is not the type of person that can just hang out at home, he has all these friends that he has to spend time with, etc. I feel as if I am his mother and need to take of him also. So we go through the cycle of anger, resentment, lets work on things every year. I am tired of living on a roller coaster and just want to be happy again and feel loved.

Reading all these posts about not taking control is very hard for me, because if I don't control our household everything will fall apart. And I am discouraged that my life will always be this way if I stay. We have known for years he has ADHD, but it has become his excuse for everything that is wrong. I have determined the worse saying in the world is "I am doing the best I can, I have always lived like this and can't change."  I know marriage can be hard and you have to work at, but what do you do when you are so tired and frustrated from trying and getting no where? I love my husband and I know he loves me, but I want a partnership and a best friend in life and it seems that I won't be able to have that with someone who has ADHD.  How long to you try with no results before you give up? 

"I'm doing the best I can"

My husband says his father used to say this. He was extremely unsuccessful in his career and we think he had ADHD as well. Now he says it! He's aware of the irony but doesn't know how to do better.

He's tried meds and we've done counseling, for him and together, but, except for him finally deciding he could work, nothing changes. I don't know how long to try. I wish I did.

hi Hildy

Just for you: I have severe ADHD combined type, so does my hubby. We are raising our 2 kids by recognizing each other's strengths. I returned to University while yet undiagnosed and will soon be graduating. I have a 3.8 GPA and have won several scholarships. Of course the meds helped, before that my GPA while full time parenting was only 3.2. ADHD is an obstacle that must be overcome. I get my rush by beating the damned thing down. It takes a lot of energy. I am not proud of fellow ADHD's who give up without even trying.

amira.ansari's picture

What has worked for me

Your husband sounds like me (well not the excuses part, I have never made excuses for my stuff, ever) but the constantly changing jobs, always needing tons of "stuff" before he can give you money when he is working, needing to "not stay at home" and lots of friends/excitement etc. and I have found a way around all that, that works FANTASTIC for me. First, I had to get my self esteem and my self worth back to a positive place (he may not say it, but his self worth is crap from not holding onto those jobs and providing for you, and he is using distractions like going out all the time to cope with it and not think about it--and he MAY NOT REALIZE HE IS DOING IT THAT WAY or for that reason) my therapist pointed it out to me, and thats when I noticed it in myself. As far as work goes, constantly failing at jobs, and disappointing you and being the "child" of the relationship, gets extremely comfortable after a while, and its easier to take getting yelled at and arguing sometimes and then doing whatever you feel "good about" because there are no expectations because you consistently fail, than it is to take the risk of faling "again" and being a disappointment to your spouse "again" because that hurts a lot worse than the yelling and arguing...even though neither are good, one is better than the other.

What helped me get on the right track, was therapy, and small victories (for me it was weight loss and making dinner every night and keeping the house reasonably clean, stuff I could see visually and was reaffirmed constantly (if I felt like crap I could get on the scale, go do the dishes, wash the laundry and get an immediate "hey you arent a piece of crap, look what you did" and after a year of that kind of thing, I started to feel better about me, but any kind of insensitive or "oh thats stupid, anyone can do the dishes" remark from my husband, made it start all over. About five years ago, I found this website for organization called "Flylady" and I was SOOOOOO excited and I tried soooooo hard to do it, and the first thing she says to do is to "shine your sink" (basically clean the sink out really good and make it look as shiny as you can) and I did that a few times, and it felt SOOOOOOO good, but one day I showed my husband the sink and was happy and proud of myself, but he was mad about something, and said "your sink looks like crap" and I didnt try to clean the sink again for almost four years...from that one sentence...and if your husband is anything like me (which it seems like he is) he reacts the same way, to the smallest little things, but being a man, he wont "tell"  you it hurts him, he will just "go into his cave" (have you read the book "men are from mars, women are from venus" thats where the cave thing came from...that book explains a lot of relationship dynamics that I didnt understand before that apply to ADHD marriages specifically I think more than other ones or at least are more severe in nature with us and are really obvious in how he wrote the book)

and I did an exercise in therapy after I started to feel better, about how I would feel (and look and think and walk and talk etc.) basically a guided visual imagery exercise, about when I was 25% to the way I wanted my life to be, and 50% and 75% and 100% there. Then I took my 100% vision of myself and looked at what I was "doing" in that image (I was a yoga instructor in mine) and said "THAT is what I am going to do with my life" and it was something I SAW myself doing, and WANTED with no other influences on my decision making, it was 100% from MY HEAD, so I knew it was really something I would like and if I liked it, I would try harder and be more focused and more interested and be happier which translates to longer job retention and more productivity (basic job performance is better when you are happy in your job, normal business psychology) and that day, I went home and wrote a career plan (after doing some research on what it would actually take to get it done in reality) and wrote out the actions I needed to take step by step and what schooling or training I would need, where to get it, how much it costs, how long it takes, am I intellectually capable of it and how I would get the money for it and what continuing education I would need and where are the places I would do my job (for me its gyms, recreation centers etc.) and how I could make it work with my life and my family system and whatever...and getting it down on paper gave me an "ok the first thing I need to do is "get in the best shape I can", then I need to "apply for the personal trainer course"" and then if I got sidetracked or didnt remember what to do next, all I had to do was LOOK AT THE LIST, and just having it down and knowing I wanted it and it was possible, motivated me and made me feel better and now I am so much happier in general and totally motivated to do everything I can to get my life together in a career and financially responsible adult way.

But, the VERY first thought I had when I did this was "I hope my husband doesnt laugh at me when I tell him this" because I knew he would think it was crazy and that I wouldnt do it because I had had a million ideas that never panned out and his belief in me was EXTREMELY important to me....he did laugh, but he didnt say anything else, he assumed I was kidding at first, and when he realized I was serious, he was are you going to do that, and when I actually HAD a plan and knew how to start and what steps to take, he was happy for me, and now that Im DOING what is on my plan, he couldnt be happier about it....but had he been negative in that first time in a way where I felt he didnt BELIEVE IN ME, I would have scrapped the whole if he will do it, encourage him to do some kind of soul searching like that guided imagery, or see a therapist that can work with him, and ask him "if you could do anything you want, what would it be?" (assuming he will tell you, guys are weird and dont talk about that stuff all that much) and encourage him, you telling him that you think he can do it (even if you really dont, just keep that to yourself) will make a HUGE difference in him going after it and doing something productive.

Sorry I wrote a book, I just 100% relate to where your husband is, because I was there for at least 10 years, scared to do anything because I was afraid to fail and "not be good enough" one more I just stayed stuck and did nothing. I hope this is helpful in some way to both of you!

hey amira,

you should post on my positive ADHD forum ! Keep up the good work.

Thank you

Thank you for your insight. I have finished reading the ADHD book, it was hard to read it was looking at my life on paper. I know that there is a long road ahead if we choose to save our marriage, but no matter how hard I think I am trying we still end up at the same old situation.  Of course now it is that I am trying to make him take drugs to fix him, (which I have never said). I realize we are both guilty of making bad decisions and handling things badly. But how do you break that cycle? I feel like I keep trying to watch how I talk with him, and how I respond and all it has gotten me is him calling me names and treating me like I am completely stupid. Besides the ADHD we have had some really big issues in our life. Three years ago my son (16 years old) passed away in a car accident and my husband could not be there because he was in jail. A year after that my dad developed terminal cancer and has since moved in with us. Which is now the new "big" problem. I have been told that he is horrible, and he has to go. And when I say no I will not throw my dying father out, I am once again the horrible person. It has gotten to the point that everything I do is wrong and he talks down to me all the time. I hate going home now I just hate always feeling like the failure. Sorry to ramble its just been a really hard week for me and I see no end in sight.

amira.ansari's picture

oh Hildy (((Hugs)))

I can relate to that again from your husbands point of view (and yours through what my husband says to me)

After so many years of him being "the bad guy" and you being "the parent" he assumes you are going to beat him down at the very first sign of weakness in him so he is automatically defensive, even with no cause, to the slightest bit of irritation or accusation in your voice, or body language or anything at all, my husband can be upset with the kids for not cleaning their room, and Im in the other room and not involved at all, but I am SURE that its only a matter of seconds before somehow its MY fault (for not being on top of them so they do it usually) and even if he doesnt say a word to me about it at all, Im still tense till we have some kind of positive interaction in the next few hours, like a hug, a laugh, a kiss, something. He may feel horribly bad about saying those things to you after the fact, especially when you dont say anything to him to provoke it, and eventually that will sink in, and he will be less defensive, but it takes a while...its taken me a year to get to where I dont automatically snap as soon as my husband gets irritable about something. He is just so beaten down probably that he is taking out on you, how he feels internally. That doesnt make it okay, and it doesnt make it justifiable, and he needs to KNOW that.

My husband is doing that to me now again, since I started being so angry with him for such a long time, and now that Im trying not to fight with him, he is more mean and more angry and more hateful than he used to be, because he assumes any time I am the least bit upset about anything it must be "his fault" (I was upset about dishes the other day and he thought I was mad at him and started a fight with me about it, and then blames me because I had "an attitude" (which I did, but not directed towards him)) and finally I said to him (literally on last Thursday I said it) that if he ever was that mean to me again (he did something to purposefully hurt me that he KNEW would hurt a lot...I had mentioned it a few days before how much it hurt me when he did it, and cried and was very upset, so he KNEW it was going to hurt me badly) that I would leave him, period. Then I told him that he needed to take some time away from me and the kids and figure out where he with his own emotions and goals and dreams and what he wants for his future and whether working this out is a good idea in HIS mind or not, and he left on Saturday and wont be back till tomorrow I dont know how its going to go, but I can relate to what you are going through...he has told me repeatedly he doesnt want to come home because he feels like something is always wrong with me (and I feel the same about him honestly these days) so we are feeding off eachother's reactions and the only way to stop it that I saw was to get away from eachother for a few days and get a clear head and prioritize things without taking the other person's "stuff" into account.

From the outside it seems

From the outside it seems obvious that you should move on without him in your life.  From my personal inside (which is very similar to your description) it is not so simple.  I am contemplating leaving since I never imagined my life to be this way and feel so uncomfortable in my own skin with what I have become riding the rollercoaster of ADHD with my partner.  I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life (or wasting more time) trying to make something work for him, when I am know there is so much more to life than putting out little fires.  I simply think that love is not enough when dealing with ADHD.  Marriage can be hard, but this is not the same as marriage. 


I have been debating leaving my husband for a while now. Its hard in the fact we have so much history together and he is the only man I have had a relationship with since becoming an adult. I have decided at this time to take a completely different approach to him. I am going to work on me and the things I want from life and if he chooses to make changes in himself then he can. I have refused to fight with him about anything for a week now. And I can see when he wants to start a fight so he can justify running off to do what he wants. I feel so much better right now, of course it doesn't take away from the fact that I feel so alone and frustrated but it is a stsep in the right direction. I have explained to him what I need and if he decided his is unable to give that to me then we are over. I will give him a little time to pull himself together but I won't wait forever, but in the mean time I plan to make myself a better person and like who I am again.  I am a little scared when it comes to the financial side of life, I am sure that will cause some problems very soon, as I refuse to pay anymore of his bills or give him money so he can do what he wants. He is at a point that I think he needs to grow up, get a job and start taking care of his life.

I really appreciate all the feedback I have been getting it has been very helpful. Thank you all so much

ADHD Marriage and Control

I am reading this and in tears.  My husband and I are experience ALL of the EXACT same issues and grasping for help to save our marriage.  This article described EVERYTHING on both of our sides almost exactly as if you had been in our home and described the dynamic between the two of us.  I know there have to be so many other couples in marriages out there like ours, just as you describe, that are at the end of their rope and grasping for answers and help.  My question... with resentment, anger and lack of trust (that each partner won't follow through with the changes needed to "break out of the cycle") having completely infiltrated our emotions and interactions, I feel hopeless in our ability to get to that state of "rebalance" in our partnership.  How can a couple, get past those very real and grid-locking emotions in order to make the changes necessary to take the necessary steps and, hopefully, save their marriage?


this will sound self serving, but is not...take the couples course that starts April 26th.  Past participants have found it very helpful in getting out of marriage gridlock and it could well help you both, too.  It's the best resource I know of at this time because, among other things, it exposes you to the questions and issues of other couples - which tends to depersonalize ADHD pretty quickly and therefore break down lots of barriers.  Go to this link for more info.

ADHD Marriage and Control

Aimng4joy, I am right there with you.  The funny part of my story is that my 9 year old was diagnosed with ADHD this past Fall and it has been a real struggle since our relationship was already so severely strained, and now we need to be a common front for our daughter.  Hard when your spouse would rather avoid and self medicate thru Wii War games and surfing the internet vs being in the family game.  It is soooo easy to fall into the parent trap since someone has to keep the family together.   It hasn't been through research and learning that we both have many of the ADHD signs and neither has been diagnosed.  I'm thankful that I have found this forum.  As I have not taken care of myself since having children 10 years ago.  I'd be a liar to say I'm not depressed since I don't feel loved nor appreciated from my spouse.  Melissa's words to another blogger earlier stuck with me.....Do you really want to stay with a spouse who doesn't love and appreciate you?  Even if they say it's for the kids.   Funny thing is that I'm the one that is staying because of the kids as they don't have a relationship with their dad and I worry it would be more harmful to them.  But that truth is that I haven't tried to give up control.  I have asked for his help in the past, but as I am learning with the ADHD process....many times they don't hear what I'm saying so I need to redirect it.  I'm ready to change.  I realize I can't change him, but I have to still realize what my part in this failure is so that I don't repeat it again.  I am doubtful but ready for a change.  So I hope you are ready too!  If not I will at least learn more about myself and give me some well deserved attention this year!!

for livewire

You should both get full evaluations for ADHD.  The reason is that if you find that either of you have it, it will open the door to be able to get full treatment.  I encourage you to look into whether meds would be effective - they are currently the most effective treatment for ADHD and if they work for you they can be the beginning of changing your life dramatically.  But there are other types of treatments having a diagnosis will encourage you to follow, such as considering hiring a coach (would you do that if you didn't know for sure?), taking my class and the like.

Medication can normalize behavior for over 50% of people with ADHD.  It's time to start facing your ADHD issues head on - don't listen to the voices from your past that say "this is just the way it is"!

To LiveWire and Melissa

LiveWire: I really do admire your willingness to work at understanding the ADHD and for being open to looking at change in yourself as well.  I have to be honest, I am the one in my marriage who has the ADD and my husband is the spouse (similar to your position) who has found himself becoming controlling in the effort to "fix" the other (me).  I know it is hard for my husband to walk that fine line of picking up the slack on what I cannot handle or focus on, without becoming controlling (just as it is hard for you).  Then I end up resenting him for being controlling, he resents me for not being able to focus or change in many ways, I resent myself for not being able to change, we both become angry, despondent and it has become a vicious cycle.  Throw 5 children in the mix (one with ADHD) and what a cocktail!  And you are so right... each of us SHOULD realize what OUR parts are in our "failures" so we do not repeat them again... either with each other or with anyone else we love.  What a strong person my husband is and you are to see that.  I can tell you are trying.  Hopefully your ADHD hubby can.  I will try.  Medicine has helped me significantly but now I have to break some bad habits that have been 43 years in the making...   Good luck to you :)

Melissa:  Thanks for the tip on the April 26th class.  I am wondering if you will be able to address how this ADHD Marriage and Control "dynamic" affects overall parenting in the household as well?  And step families?  Of our five children, the oldest three are mine from a previous has ADHD.  The "control" issue has spilled over into large differences in parenting styles which causes further challenges.  Also, what is the best way to prepare for that class to make the most efficient use of that time so it does not end up in a "whine-fest"  so to speak.... Thanks!

This article hit home dead on

This article hit home dead on for my husband and I. We have just embarked on our journey with this discovery. My question is this: if the ADHD partner begins treatment, how much is it possible for them to "recover"? My husband is VERY intelligent, yet when he doesn't do stuff right or doesn't know things EVERYONE else knows he seems so dumb to me. Will that go away? Will I finally be able to admire him for the intelligent man that he is? 

I also wanted to know how to let go of the need to control concerning children. I'm scared of always being unequal from having a partner who needs assistance and then possibly having children with the same issues and being surrounded by "needy"ness all around. Is this wrong? Any advice on how to cope with this? 

I CAN'T wait to start reading your book! 

depends on manifestation of symptoms

I, and several other ADHD's on this site, can most likely write academic treatises on varied subjects. In fact I don't doubt there are a number who have written dissertations. That doesn't mean I always get things right away. I have processing speed issues. Sometimes I can hide it, sometimes I can't and that makes a very smart person seem really dumb. Its not curable as far as I know.

amira.ansari's picture

I have this too

I can process some things immediately and understand some things immediately, but the second I get stressed out, I cant even remember my the "big points" in a conversation or an arguement that I need to remember never stick! I started telling him "I cant think right now, can you write down what you want to say so I can read it when I am thinking clearer" (I process written words better than oral in the first place) and he rarely does, because he doesnt want to "help me" when he is angry, because that just makes it worse on his end, and I dont know what to do with that. Where do you go when you finally get up the nerve to ask for the help you need (it took me years literally to get to that point with him) and they flat out say "no" and there is no other way you can get that help because its specific to the person you are asking for it from? How do you resolve that? I have no idea, and I am not dumb (my IQ is in the genius range and I won state academic competitions in high school and am a college graduate) but I have never held a job, cant remember to do the dishes everyday and cant think straight when he talks to me most of the time, and no one has EVER made me feel as stupid as he does, and that just compounds the problem exponentially for me. I know that he can be different, he just has to want it, and I cant force him to do that, and thats kind of where we are...and it sucks. Im sorry you have the whole processing issue, it is horrible, especially when you know your intellect is fine, it drives me crazy!!!

amira.ansari's picture

OMG this is EXACTLY what is going on in my marriage

We have the exact same issues as the original commenter (ADHDmomof2) and it got so bad that I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward twice over my inability to deal with these issues (before the ADHD diagnosis) and the second time (after both children were diagnosed with ADHD and I knew the symptoms) I literally BEGGED the doctor in the hospital to give me ADHD meds, and then things got better, but not significantly, because our marriage was so severely damaged at that point, and its been three years since I got on meds and there have been a lot of changes, and after my last pyschiatric hospitalization (for issues unrelated to the ADHD, that i was unaware were affecting my life in addition to the ADHD issues and compounding it--I was diagnosed with C-PTSD, so you can see how those fit together) and so this past year, after the C-PTSD diagnosis and literally spending every day all day for an entire year researching how to heal from my past and how to live with ADHD and doing the binders, marker boards, calendars, reminders, notebooks in the purse (I literally have them ALL and have several of each---in different parts of the house) and I have done a LOT of change in myself and about 3 months ago my doctor added another medication to my original ADHD med (I was taking only Strattera (I cant take the stimulant medications) and he added Wellbutrin XL) and it has been FANTASTIC and I am finally relatively productive with all my other assistance like the notebooks and these meds there have been HUGE changes over the last three months, but my husband (the non-ADHD controller "parent" in the relationship) is just "done".

he is sick of the constant chaos (we have two ADHD children (who are his stepchildren) and one with Asperger's syndrome as well as the ADHD and the other has Tourettes in addition to the ADHD and he  (my husband) has physical health issues and I have a physical disability on top of ADHD and C-PTSD that prevents me from being able to drive) and we are taking care of his 90 year old grandmother, on top of ALL of that, with almost zero local family support (he has one cousin, who helps take me to doctors appointments sometimes, but that is the extent of his family involvement with us really--he has his own life, so thats understandable).  So I totally understand where he is coming from and that its extremely stressful, and it is stressful for me too, but now that I am trying 2000% to do my part, and actually accomplishing twice what I used to, I KNOW its not all me anymore, which has helped me personally quite a bit, but it has seemed to make our relationship worse. He was much more comfortable with blaming all of our problems on me and my stuff and the kids and ignoring his part in things, and we are fighting CONSTANTLY.

He has always said he wants me to "stand up for myself" and "be honest and tell him what I am really thinking and feeling" but when i do, he is critical and condescending and belittiling and sometimes is outright cruel and makes fun of me for my thoughts/feelings/opinions...and I KNOW that that is HIS issue and not mine (years of therapy will teach you a thing or two) and yet he resents that he "has" to treat me like a child, and doesnt feel any love for me like a partner or an equal, which he says he wants, but when I try to "be" that, he totally beats me down, so I dont say anything to him again, so in that scenario I will NEVER be his equal, and our marriage wont ever get better, no matter how much I do, and it came to a head recently and I told him to go to another town (where he works--its an hour drive, which he drives there and back everyday--adding to the stress) and stay in a hotel for a week, just to get his head on straight and figure out what he wants and what he doesnt and figure out what he wants, becuase he says he wants a divorce one day, then says he doesnt love me like an equal and Im just a burden another day, and then one day he wants to be with me forever, and it goes back and forth. He is seriously depressed and has no motivation to do anything so he just works and sits around watching TV (or driving me and the kids to do errands and activities--which he hates, but I cant do it, so he has to) and I am just not sure he really wants to be here anymore (at least deep in his heart he has already left I think, he just doesnt want to admit that to himself, which is why I wanted him to take this time off, to see what HE wants, not what he thinks is the "right thing to do" for me or the kids)

He is a very good man, he has some fantastic qualities and there are things I love about him that I have never seen in another person in my life, even with his faults, he is genuinely the best person I have ever known...and I love those parts of him, but I cannot stand the critical nasty parts of him that come out when he is angry. So I am hoping that after reading this and getting your book and reading it myself (he will say he doesnt have time to read it--but in reality, its not true--he could cut into TV time and read, but he doesnt want to do that) that hopefully he will be willing to sign up for the couples counseling that is coming up (I am going to attempt to get him to, we cant afford it will be his first excuse, but we have emergency savings, and I think this qualifies as an emergency...just not a physical one) and if he refuses to do that, my therapist (who I have been seeing individually for two years) agreed to do couples therapy with us twice a month, and I wil buy the book for her and ask her to read it, so she can help us better. We agree on all the major things, family, religion, parenting, money, life style, goals and values...all that are 100% in sync, but he thinks of me like a child, if we can change that in his mind, then we would have a great marriage I think. I am just glad to know Im not alone and that its not uncommon for people in ADHD marriages to have these same struggles.

Sorry this was so long, I literally cried reading all of these comments I can relate so much.

Your husband has something...

Hi amira.    I came by this forum for the first time today.  You wrote a great post.    I am 50/female.    I believe my husb of 20 years has Asp. or schizoid.  loner - blamer - routine - doesn't want change.

I have read/written on forums for 3 years.  I am leaving my marriage soon.   I cannot try anymore.  My husb is impossible.  Can't process what I say.  twists things, etc.  anxiety.

does your husband have something?  If those are his kids with those issues - then they may have gotten it from him.  

Living with a husband like this - makes US go crazy.  I swear it makes me ADD.   I know I am fine - but living this life makes us crazy.

My husband says exactly what yours is saying.  Stay/go.. change...

Mine wants me the way I was.  A doormat.  do anything for him.  Be here for him. Entertain him.  Bring conversation and friends to him.    I told him about  asp.   He doesn't want to change.   He doesn't want to be social.  He doesn't want to contact our wonderful kids.

so, I am leaving.  There is nothing I can do.

Please look at your life from this angle.  Get control back.  Stay busy doing what you want. Your friends. Save yourself.

I have not read one person say couples therapy works.  Only individual.   

Hugs!  You are smart/kind/giving/beautiful and amazing!    




amira.ansari's picture

Dana thank you!

My husband does have something, he has untreated depression and probably OCD (great mix with 3 ADHD'ers in the house right?) which compound the problem as well. I swear you couldnt make up a family with as many problems as we have between the four of us if you tried! LOL! But no they are not his biological children, so its not from him genetically.

As far as your husband is concerned, he refuses to explore Aspergers? thats too bad. My son has Asperger's and so does my father (I think--my dad has never been diagnosed but i would bet my life on it) and I have some definite Asperger traits (the twisting things is specifically because he sees things in a different way than you do, and so you have to explain exactly what you meant down to the tiniest detail) like with my son, as an easy example, if his sister accidentally hits him with a toy when she walks by him, he punches her in the arm, she cries, huge fight ensues...I come out there and she says "he punched me for no reason" "she hit me with her toy" "it was an accident" "no she did it on purpose" (my son assumes she did it on purpose and hit her solely because he thought she hit him on purpose, rather than just to be antagonistic) and only after explaining that it was an accident and she didnt mean to and apologies does he "get it" but even then its ONLY applicable to that one instance, so next time she "hits him with a toy" he will connect the two, but if she "hit him with a shoe" its a totally separate thing in his mind with a totally different conclusion with no connection to the "hit him with a toy accident" of the day before (usually the "on purpose" bit resurfaces) and until I verbally (and sometimes in writing or pictures, depending on the issue) connect the two for him, and TELL HIM exactly what to do and say if it happens again, does he even begin to connect the dots and respond appropriately....

and with me, my husband and I will fight because I misunderstand something like that, and even if I do "get it" I dont know how to respond, so I respond in the "wrong way" and he gets upset and until I literally say "I dont understand what to say when you say that, I didnt mean to hurt your feelings, I wasnt ignoring you (usually if I dont know what to say I dont say anything at all) but I dont know how to make you feel loved/supported/trusted/whatever, what do you WANT me to say (only AFTER the fight will this work) and then the next time he says something like "I just want to feel  supported" I connect the two dots in my head and say whatever the sentence was that he told me to say when he wanted support, and even though its not an original comment, the thought behind it is genuine and valid and he knows that, so thats what matters to him.

As far as the not processing, ask him if he learns better by reading things written down (I can barely process instructions/directions etc. in verbal form) but am perfectly capable of following written directions with pictures (and sometimes then the verbal with pictures and words to follow along is even better) and then when you need to tell him something or communicate something that he HAS to understand, send it in an email, or write a note...thats half the reason we have the marker boards. and too, I get EXTREMELY flustered when Im upset or anxious (and there is a huge correlation between anxiety and Aspergers (and ADHD and Asperger's too) and my verbal processing is SHOT, and I can barely do anything with verbal directions in that state, so arguements are completely wasted after that point....but if my husband was to stop at that point and go write down what he wanted to tell me right then, and let us both calm down and bring it back to me and let me read it (which he wont do, but if he did it would be awesome) then we could talk about it and I would "get it" much easier and then we could work on "what do/say I do when...."

My father (who I believe has Aspergers) calls me twice a year. Has told me he loved me probably 5 times in my life. I lived with him (and my stepmom) for about 4 years when I was a teenager, and he NEVER went out to dinner, to the movies, to visit with friends, no one ever came over, no socializing, EVER. When I do call him, which I dont bother unless its super important, we talk for 10 minutes max, and I talk to my stepmom after that...and he has always been that way, but once I realized what Asperger's was and saw how much it related to how my dad was, I didnt take it personally anymore, and I see how in his own way, he does love me and care about me and its not ME, and its not HIS FAULT or ON PURPOSE that he is that way either. He cant change it anymore than I can change my eye color.

He wants you to be there for him and entertain him and bring friends to him because he has NO idea how to do it himself, and he probably feels very very anxious in new situations or any kind of crowds, but if you bring people he already knows, to his home, he is more at ease and he enjoys it, but he doesnt know (or understand) how to reciprocate in friendships...and I personallly am really bad at that too (I tend to have online friends more than in person ones, because I communicate better in writing than in person and there isnt the give and take of "normal flow of conversation") but luckily for me, my husband is kind of an introvert too and likes to stay home and doesnt need a whole lot of socialization, just because thats his personality, not because of Asperger's or anything like that, so we rarely have company and rarely go out with other people, but we go to the movies together and go bowling with the kids and do things like that, but we have only been out with other adults probably twice in six years, if that much even, and then its only people we are both very comfortable with, so that works out very well for me and him both, and I am starting to learn more how to be a better friend and wanting "real" friends, and I go to the gym and talk to people there and "practice" in short spurts every day so that I can get "on the job training" of how to be a good friend and not be distant and unconnected in their eyes and they think its a one way friendship, when really I care about them a lot, I just dont know how to show that to them and so I just assume (or hope) that they know it, because in the mind of an Aspie..."well Im still your friend, of course I care" is proof that they are your friend (or they love you, or whatever, because if they didnt love you/care about you etc, they would just not be around, so the fact that they are there means they care in their minds) 

Im not saying you are wrong for wanting to leave your husband, please dont think that. I just wanted to give you an idea of what could be going through his head in terms of your relationship and his relationship with others and your children.

Thank you so much for your kind comments! They made me feel great :)

amira.ansari's picture

I forgot to add this

THe not wanting to change thing...OMG HUGE Asperger issue! HUGE! like the biggest one ever huge! I cant deal with dinner time changing 30 minutes from when it was the week before and every time my husband says "lets try this diet/food/whatever" I cringe and freak out, seriously. My WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE depends on a rigid schedule, 15 minute time blocks on paper are perfect, and to him that seems completely insane and he makes fun of me (well he used to, now he just deals with it, I guess, he doesnt say anything anymore) but I literally cant function when things change without at least 24 hours of advance notice to mentally prepare myself, so your husband is probably just not sure what that change means for him and its super hard to change anything in the first place, much less something you dont want to change at all. And not wanting to admit (or explore Aspergers) is common too, my son is like that, he was diagnosed almost 2 years ago, but tries to "hide" his Aspergers (he has gotten pretty good at it actually, which makes it worse in terms of school help and whatever...because they dont see the Asperger's traits everyday they just see the times when he cant "fake it") and still says "I dont have Asperger's" on a daily basis, and I know that your husband is not a child, so its different, but I slowly introduce something I want to change...for instance, gluten is a real problem for him, and I wanted him to quit eating it so he would behave better and not have so many intestinal issues, but it took me TWO YEARS to get him completely gluten free, and the only way it happened was I bought some gluten free bread, and lied and said it wasnt gluten free (I had previously tried it and it tasted fine, some tastes gross, which is why he didnt want to do it in the last bits) and so he ate it, and every few minutes while he was eating, I said "hows the bread? do you like it?" and he says "oh its great, its totally gluten licious" (thinking he is eating gluten) and then I gave him that bread for the rest of the week and no other gluten containing food, and he said later in the week "mom I dont know whats going on but I can think better and my stomach doesnt hurt, maybe my ADHD medicine is working better" and I told him "no you havent had any gluten in almost a week, and I think thats the difference" and told him the bread was gluten free, and after SEEING and FEELING the change for himself, he wanted to be gluten free and now he has been gluten free for six months....but that last loaf of bread, was my last effort, and if it didnt work I was never going to try you never know when that last straw will be the right thing and change it all.

So maybe for your husband, just start asking him to repeat back to you what he heard you say when you tell him something (if he doesnt get irritated about that) and then you will KNOW and he will be faced with the reality that he is not understanding you correctly in a non-arguement way, and then when he is willing to do that, move to something else, then its not really "changes to his routine" but its tiny things here and there, and he changes without knowing he is actually changing, then when he is ready, he can work on it on his own if he wants, or maybe he wont, but either way, you will have shown him areas to improve that if  he wants your marriage to work (or any other relationships in his life) he will know he needs to change them in whatever way works best for him.

This is what my marriage has become!

After 18 years of marriage with my untreated ADD (only discovered it about 2 years ago), my husband has become the controller and we have often fallen into the parent-child trap.  In sympathy for him, I understand that he felt (or maybe in fact) he had no choice.  In the face of my frustrating inconsistency, he felt that as the leader of our home (we both believe in the Christian model), it was his spiritual RESPONSIBILITY to lead me.  He just didn't (doesn't) know how to do it with an ADD spouse!  How do you lead someone who is basically unresponsive to ALL forms of motivation?  When nothing seemed to work (he tried encouragement, taking on some of the responsibility himself, discussing it, arguing about it, etc.), he has finally resorted to controlling me, although he tries not to be too direct about it because he doesn't really like it either.  But if he is "in control," then if (when) I still fail, that means HE has failed too, which has further complicated our dynamic.  The ONLY effective method we have found to really motivate me is one that neither one of us is comfortable with...GUILT.  It works.  Although even that has a short life-span of about 2 weeks or less.  And he HATES himself if he resorts to that, so he refuses to use it (thankfully).  But it has left him with very few options.

Until now.  I just finished your book and I am asking him to read it too.  I hope it will help him understand not only a little bit of what it is like to be me (and how hard I really am trying to please him!), but also to see the pattern that HE has fallen into and how unhealthy it is for both of us.  I am ready to try a new way.  I hope he will be too!

Also and ADD Wife :)

Just read your post.... same boat except I have only 6 years of marriage.... cannot imagine how you have lasted 18 with the vicious cycle this all creates.  Just wanted to say I truly understand....

I am so glad that I found

I am so glad that I found this blog.  I am reading it through tears as it feels like you are looking inside my marriage.  My husband was diagnosed with ADHD combined type about six months ago.  We have been married for 8 years and have a 5 and a 6 year old child.  I love my husband very much, but have felt like I am going crazy in this marriage.  I am definitely the controller, by nature I am this way.  I love my husband very, very much and want our marriage to work.  He is a great dad to our children and a good man.  He has threatened to leave me and says that he is only staying married to me until the kids are 18 and out of the house, because "I am no fun and all I do is nag and bitch and complain and I don't know how to have fun anymore."  Which is true, to a point.  I feel like I don't have time for fun when I am forced to pick up all of the slack.   It is so hard to realize after him telling me for years and years that I am going to have to change for this marriage to work, that I might actually have to.  I have always blamed and resented HIM for the marriage not working.  Being that he was just diagnosed, I guess I haven't quite gotten out of the mentality that all he has to do is step up to the plate and be a responsible adult.   I don't want to be the controller, but it is so hard  to have to watch him not be at all constructive with his time, be so forgetful, impulsive, and irresponsible. It has been SOOO stressful and exhausting attempting accomplish everything that needs to be done and always having to be convince him to be responsible about things, especially money.  But, now that I have been enlightened, I will do my best to step back and figure out a way to not blame HIM is not his fault, instead the fault of the ADHD.  Thank you, I hope I can turn my marriage around.  I don't want to lose him.

Are you my house???

Oh, I read your note and cried - you are me just maybe a little younger. I'm married 15 years. Two kids both now diagnosed and so finally my husband started to take meds not that long ago. I'm hoping that you have made progress! I'm was on the verge of calling it quits when I found this site. I would love to chat more personally sometime but I don't know how to do that on here. 

Please post an update!  

Addressing ADD with ADD Husband

I'm new to the blog and am very relieved to know there are tools and resources to turn to regarding how to live and participate in a marriage with a spouse with ADD.  This article specifically hits close to home; it wasn't until I gave up trying to control the marriage that I've been able to make some progress towards finding myself, while in this marriage.  A little background, I met my husband a little over 5 years ago - the beginning was just as described in another post on this site where my ADD partner was hyperfocused and totally engaged in us.  I had never felt so loved and at the center of someone's world.  As things progressed, and I knew we were heading down a path toward a more serious relationship, I began to ask those hard questions about religious beliefs, money, where he saw himself down the road, what he ultimately wanted, etc.  The answers were all in line with what I had envisioned for myself - he had admitted he had had past financial issues, but those days were behind him and he was currently successful at how he handled his money.  I was swept of my feet and a short time later we were engaged and then married.  Almost immediately after we said "I do", everything changed - he didn't have a handle on his finances like he had described, I discovered he had an endless list of "I've always wanted . . . " and emptied our bank account and maxed out our credit cards obtaining as many things as he could from this list.  When we tried to scale back, he'd pout around the house and wouldn't take any suggestion from me on ways to entertain ourselves that didn't cost us every penny we made.  It was about 6 months after we were married that he informed me he had gone to a psychologist and been diagnosed with ADD.  But that is as far as he has ever gotten with it; at the time I told him I would be completely supportive of whatever we both need to do to help him manage it.  I started reading about it and looking into how I could be a better non-ADD spouse.  This period was short-lived as I discovered I was the only one investing any time in it - before long, the subject of ADD just disappeared.  

I openly admit I was critical and undermining in the beginning (not intentionally, I just didn't know what the problem was and I was approaching it the only way I knew how at the time). Now, about 3 years after the fact, and through many ups and downs, changing who I was to try and meet his ever changing expectations of what he wanted from me as a wife, and never (obviously) meeting them - I've picked up on researching ADD again.  I have my faults and I'm willing to work on them, and the past few months I have let go of trying to control him and have worked on changing myself.  Right now, the biggest battle is bringing up the subject of his ADD again.  I know, that if he will take ownership of it and seek out support and help for it, our ability to communicate would improve.  Right now, I'm still dealing with someone who shuts down when we discuss sensitive subjects (finances and intimacy); our issues are still unresolved - and the finger is being pointed at me and the fact that "we are just too different".  I am doing what I can to support and understand him, but I am not getting anywhere.  I don't want my marriage to end, but how do I move forward or continue to make progress if my ADD partner isn't actively addressing his ADD and working with me on discovering ways we both can live with it and resolve the challenges it comes with (ie, impulsive spending, lack of sex drive, difficulty communicating in an argument).

We have a very long road; how do I convince him to get in the car with me so we can start putting it behind us and build a united relationship?

I was about to leave

I was about to leave, had a few bags packed for me and my son, had spoken to 6 divorce lawyers, stopped engaging in arguments with my husband, started taking care of myself....then my husband realized that he wanted to get some help.  I spend years trying to get him to "get in the car" with no luck.  Things are still difficult.  I think that you cannot try and try again to get your husband to care about dealing with his ADD.  You will likely spin your wheels, exhaust yourself, and begin feeling overwhelmed, and maybe even depressed.  Trust me, this path can get a lot darker if you continue to try to make it work and he does not try to get help.  I assume that you are able to have normal relationships with other people that are not the same as your difficult relationship with your husband.  I also assume that he cannot since his ADD overrides all his relationship skills, besides the superficial types of relationships.  You mention that you have a very long road and I have been down it and it is not pretty.  Other people on this forum have spend 24+ years trying to make it work with no avail.  Ask yourself how beat down you want to get before you realize the road was not worth traveling.  His ADD is not your fault.  I hope that you can find a way to stop trying to get your husband to get help and find a way to get yourself help instead.  This may lead to him wanting to get help too, maybe not.  But at least you will not have lost such much in the meantime.  I suggest reading "Is is you, me, or the adult ADD?" It really helped me and it is for the spouse of someone with ADD.  I wish I had read it sooner...when I was at your stage (Your post could have been written by me, but 5 years ago).  It does suggest ways to help your husband to get help and what you can do as a couple to make living with ADD possible.  Sorry if my personal notes were so bleak, but life has been rough with my ADD spouse. 

a dollar short and a day late

thank you elmstart for the response to my earlier post; however, that very night my husband decided a separation was in order.  I did not contest him this time, simply because I did not want to repeat our previous disagreement cycles over again.  I know our marriage has no hope without proper counseling and effort from us to address the negative effects the ADD has had on our marriage.  I am willing to stay and fight for what I know can be an amazing and fulfilling relationship, but my spouse isn't even remotely interested in pursuing this route.  He also has a theory that all prescription drugs relating behavioral disorders are a money scam.  I am saddened and disappointed by his unwillingness to try and find that passion and love that brought us together in the first place; but I will be okay - in some ways I feel relieved because he has released me from my commitment to make it work with him.  I am exhausted from trying to meet his constantly changing expectations or letting important issues go because I don't have the energy to try and subdue his over-emotional reactions at the mere mention of them.  I do still love him very much, and I feel we haven't exhausted every option for finding a way, but his happiness is on his shoulders, not mine.  I cannot convince him to work with me on finding help, so I am letting go and moving forward on my own.  I wish I had found this website earlier, maybe the tools and resources it provides could have helped me to address this subject with my spouse before the tensions built to a point of no return.  The only way I will stay in this marriage now is if he returns from this separation acknowledging he needs help and has already taken steps to prove he's serious about it.  Unfortunately, he is very stubborn and I don't see that happening, at least not before I have already moved on.  Miracles do happen, right?  So I guess I shouldn't rule anything out just yet. :)

Don't Give Up

I think we all could have written your post at one time or another.  It is so frustrating and disappointing to see the light at the end of the tunnel when your ADHD spouse does not.  Letting go is scary and overwhelming, but it is a must.  As much as we want to help, he needs to want to help too. Trust me.  Find some peace, try your best to focus on yourself.  Therapy works wonders.  This does not mean abandon him.  Be there for him.  Be his friend. Sometimes this will hurt because you may be encouraged one day and the next, you will be back to square one.  He will find his way. Unless you back off, he will never see what life will be like without your support.  ADHD is one thing- love is another.  He may be confused but if he loves you, it will always win.  Hang in there and come here often for support. 

Marriage and a lifetime as an ADD'er


     I'm new to this forum, having just come across it. I apologize ahead for the long, long post!

  I have to say I cried as I read each post going down the page. I recognized both myself, as a person who has suffered with
ADD my whole life, and my husband as well, as a long time "sufferer" who has had to live with me. We have been married for almost 40 years now. We've both made many, many horrible mistakes. Many times have been great but way too much of it has been wasted mis-understandings, hurt feelings, out of control anger, frustration, "controlling" issues, mistrust, resentment, etc., on both sides.

     Even so, with all that, I'm very glad we never got divorced. We've weathered through the worst, and even though I'm sure it's probably not done yet, we're both convinced it wouldn't have made things any better if we had gotten divorced - and would probably have made things even worse. I do know it's been better for our kids,and G-kids, that we didn't divorce. My husband says he loves me, and he's never wanted anyone but me. And when I really sit back and think, even looking back at horrible behavior from both of us, I realize I still love him too, and really I wouldn't want anyone else either.

    In fact, I still think of him as my rock, even when I'm yelling at him, or he's shutting me out. He's a good man. A very good man, who doesn't have an enemy in the world. Everyone loves my husband. Aside from all the discontent between us, he has so many good points that can't just be discounted.

     I have good points too. Unfortunately, not too many people see them - mostly my fault I'm sure. I tend to sound abrubt or critical when I don't mean to. I usually don't even realize it. I never even knew I had ADD/ADHD - which one I'm still not sure - until I was about 40, and our young son was diagnosed. Our grown daughter has it worse than I do, although she's never been diagnosed yet. 

    I started researching to see how I could help our son, only to recognize myself. In a way, it was a relief because I never knew what was wrong with me. I had trouble in early school. My parents often treated me like I wasn't very bright & I came to believe that too. It wasn't until years after HS that I was told my IQ, that I realized that, while I wasn't a genius, I was still above average and wasn't stupid either.

     I just couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I was a daydreamer as a child, was impulsive, spoke with out thinking first, had trouble understanding & remembering what people told me, had trouble concentrating on school work; even in college, got angry too fast, had few friends, on & on. It was a very painful experience. All in all, I've often wondered, and have asked outright, why in the world my husband married me. He told me because he loved me from the first night we met. He still says that. He's also said many, many cruel things as well. But then, I'm ashamed to admit, so have I.

     However, I'm deeply devoted to my family, whether he believes it or not. And I'm a hard worker and have had a successful career as a nurse. I always worked around his schedule, since he worked 12-16 hours a day. I worked not only during the week, part time after the kids were born, but almost every W/E, and many holidays, when he was off, because I didn't want our kids to be latch key kids.

    I was lucky, in that my career allowed me to have full time flexibility, working at various hospitals, so I could work around his schedule. But it was tough too because he expected me to handle everything. I took care of the kids - and later the G-kids. I ran the house, took care of numerous pets, including their horses; all the errands, banking & bills (many, many mistakes). Funny thing, he was worse at banking & bills than me. Today, he won't touch them. I still take care of it all.

I helped with HW, took the kids to all their activities, did all the shopping, and tried to keep up the maintenance on this old house, including aying insulation myself, and painting the whole outside of the house and porch by myself 5 years ago (while he sat & watched tv. I was ticked). I didn't know what was wrong with me but I did try. I honestly did.

   Unfortunately, my husband has never recognized any contribution from me. Only criticized & ridiculed me continuously, even calling me horrible names in front of our daughter when she was little. From almost right after we married, suddenly, I could never do anything right, in his eyes, no matter how hard I tried. 

      Most of the time, he spent ridiculing me & my difficulty finishing tasks, my trouble with forgetting things, my impulsiveness, on & on. I admit, it's very difficult for those of us with ADD/ADHD, to remember, complete tasks, control our emotions, etc. I wish I had know about ADD back then. Maybe it would have made a difference. I don't know. I do know that I had a lot of anger and resentment myself at being treated that way.

    But, it's also very painful when honest efforts are ignored or ridiculed, and we're often shut out and treated with contempt, like we're just stupid or lazy. Today, after almost 40 years, I have considerable working experience & I'm well respected by my colleagues. Too bad I can't get the same from my husband. He's rarely ever asked me about my work & never listened when I tried to talk about it. After all these years, he still doesn't really know what I did in my work. It can be an almost impossible situation for both sides, I think.

   Once I realized my problem, I researched everything I could find, hoping to correct it. I've been the one to constantly ask for counseling for both of us. He's always refused. He insists there's nothing wrong with him, only with me.  For a while, I went on my own - only to have him ridicule me for doing that too. I can't say it was real successful. Medication helped - when I could remember to take it - but it didn't change his aloofness, or constant criticism. The anger from both of us was just a constant vicious circle. today, Wellbutrin has helped the most.

  Now, in just the past year, I joined support groups, am trying to gain more insight into my ADD issues, and my own negative behavior, as well as our grown daughter's. My husband is now retired and at home too. This has caused a lot of friction. Much more than usual. I told my husband I've had it with his behavior and he can either leave, or learn to work together, and stop the fighting. I said, either way, I'm moving on with my life, with or without him. Not leaving him, just moving on, trying to better myself. I'm working hard from home, trying to get my own business off the ground, taking more college courses at our local comm. college, including one just for fun, and I'm looking to volunteer in my community.

    I've realized that even though I'm not perfect, I'm still a good person and have something to offer. I've encouraged him to take college courses or volunteer too instead of just sitting around. He won't do it. BUT, he hugged me yesterday, told me he's sorry for all the fighting, he doesn't want to fight, he loves me, and has never wanted anyone else. (God help him! LOL) We're almost 60 now. I guess I'll keep him around lol. But I'm still not going to spend all my time waiting on him any more. We're empty nesters now and I'm now determined that if he doesn't want to spend some time enjoying this next part of our life together, then I'll just have to do it myself.

Sorry for the "book" but it felt so good to get this off my chest! No life is ever perfect. I think If we're looking for perfection, we're never going to find it.



I Admire You!

You could have so easily become hardened and bitter, or decided you were too far down the road of life to make changes, but even after so many years you are still trying to discover and understand yourself better so you can make improvements in yourself and your marriage.  Way to go!  I applaud your efforts.

My story is very similar to yours--I discovered my own ADHD around age 38 when researching ADHD for our recently diagnosed son (I am 41 now).  My husband is also a very good man (age 42).  He has resorted to some controlling behaviors and the parent-child dynamic in the past few years, but I don't really blame him.  What else could he do, especially when neither one of us knew about my condition?  He readily admits that he doesn't really LIKE to be that way, so I am hopeful that now we can start a new path and build a different kind of marriage.  I think he will be willing to participate in counseling or coaching.  I am just hoping and praying that I (we) can make some REAL progress!

I laughed at your comment about medication helping "when I could remember to take it" - I have a joke with my son that we need our medicine so that we can remember to take our medicine! Ha.  I am still trying to find the right dose and brand, etc. for me.  I use pill-minders with the days of the week so that I can remember to take it (or remember that I already TOOK it!), and then I keep the remainder of the bottle in my purse, just in case I still forget!  I would encourage you to keep trying with meds if you are not still taking them.  It seems to help me to be ABLE to put the effort into the changes I want to make or new systems I want to try.  I still fail A LOT, though.  It is certainly not a magic pill.  But I think it would be totally impossible for me to make changes without it, if that makes sense?  At least with the medication, I feel like I have a fighting chance.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for your post.  I relate to it in so many ways and I admire you that you have never given up!  I hope that when I am 60, I am still willing to work as hard as you are to keep improving.  Hang in there!  It sounds like you have a good man who is hanging in there too.  Best wishes to you both!

amira.ansari's picture

Oh Gramma ((((hugs))))

I see myself in you, just years from now. I feel the same way about my husband now, a few weeks after my initial postings. With him being gone, I realized that I do want him in my life, I just dont want the constant criticism and put downs and negativity that I used to get. I think I must have told him that somewhere along the line when he was actually paying attention to me, because he has stopped it for the most part. I feel like you do though, in that he doesnt seem to notice the good things I do, but in some ways I think its just men in general dont realize that we need to talk and we need to know they know and that it matters. I figured even if things dont work out with my husband, which Im hoping they will, I still have my life to live, and when I die, I wont have anyone else to blame if my life doesnt turn out how I want it to, so I am not letting anything take me away from what I want. I started volunteering at the mental health hospital here one day a week, and at the YMCA (I havent started there yet though...just did the paperwork) and I am going to be getting my certifications for personal training and another few things and do what I have always wanted to do in my life and didnt have the courage or knowledge or time to do I think we are on the same page as far as that is concerned, and it feels good in a lot of ways, but sad in a lot of ways too, because I feel like I dont matter enough for him to be interested in my life and that I am kind of going my own way without him...and I know its partially my perception, and that maybe he just cant right now and it will change someday, but it seems like he talks to me all the time about his own personal stuff and his work and what he is interested in, and I dont ever have a chance to say one word about what is going on in my head without him tuning me out or "listening" (saying he is listening but you can tell he doesnt want to be doing it and is irritated that I am talking to him) or just flat out telling me he doesnt have time to listen to me, and he doesnt ask how my day was or what I am thinking or doing as far as my career preparations or how Im feeling or any kind of questions like that, ever....and I feel like thats probably nitpicking in the scheme of things, considering how much is going on in our lives that is more important on the needs list, but it matters to me that he doesnt seem interested in my life, and I dont want to be like we are today 40 years from now.

I finally feel like I am turning into the person I have always wanted and known I could be, and I am really happy and excited about that, and he doesnt seem to care about it at all, and that REALLY bothers me.

Does anyone else feel that, or have you dealt with it? what did you do?

At what point do I give up on a nonresponsive ADHD spouse?



I hate to be so negative but my ADHD spouse and I are locked in a controlling relationship with the parent/child dynamic.  I put my foot down with the help of my therapist about him seeking help and he hasn't.  He continues to go out late, drinking and driving, taking my car and not returning my phone calls even though I'm 7 months pregnant.  I have financially supported him for years and am spending the last of my savings now because this pregnancy is at risk and I can no longer work.  My six year old child is asking me "why is daddy so stressed all the time and yelling at us?" He cries because says "mom you are pregnant and tired why do you have to do everything?"  I feel awful knowing that this nice man has a neurological problem but I can't handle it anymore.  I hate it that my child is now aware of the problem and beginning to ask astute questions but his father refuses to discuss it with him or a therapist or even change medications (currently Ritalyn 10mg PO BID only 15 days a month).with his family practice doctor!So now what?

My heart goes out to

My heart goes out to one should have to endure such stress while being pregnant. I won't go into details, but I fully understand what you're going through.

No one can answer the question "how long" for you. I am similarly 'between a rock and a hard place' because of my husband's denial about his ADHD and how it affects our marriage. I am praying about it a lot, and I know that when the time comes for me to accept that nothing is ever going to change (hopefully it won't come to that, but that is 100% on his shoulders right now..I'm going on with my life while he lets ADHD destroy his), I will just 'know'...and there will be no "question".

Hang in there, take care of yourself and your precious son and try and protect him from as much of the backlash as possible. You're in my prayers.

I find I am often lost with

I find I am often lost with articles like this.  The implication seems to be that if I just change my controlling ways, my spouse will begin to control his ADD better, that somehow his inability to control his ADD is my fault.  Because I am too controlling.  I just don't understand this.  I started taking on all the responsibilities BECAUSE he wasn't handling them.  Our lives -- financial, marital, familial, etc., were falling apart.  My taking charge, organizing, and, yes, nagging, are a result of his inability to control his ADD.  If I stop these things, we will loose everything.  Literally.  The times that I have 'backed off' resulted in a much happier husband who was relaxed, at ease -- and did absolutely nothing to control his ADD.  He has an ADD coach, a therapist and a psychiatrist, is on medication and makes all kinds of promises about changing that never happen.  Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here.  Heaven knows I'm overwhelmed with frustration and disappointment.  But, this method just doesn't seem to work in my case.  And, incidentally, the suggestion that I either do everything myself or pay to have it done just makes my head spin.  Are you kidding?!  We're on the edge of financial disaster!  And, f course I can do everything myself, but doesn't that put me right back at the beginning?  Angry, resentful, disappointed and depressed.  Someone help me here!

Debbie, I don't know your

Debbie, I don't know your situation at all, but this is my perspective from my own experiences. Your spouse absolutely should take on some share of the responsibilities...but right now he doesn't have to. You'll complain- you'll be upset- but you'll still do it. After a period of seeing you do everything and not complain- there won't be such a negative feeling (created by nagging) and he may eventually start to pitch in. You can lead a horse to water- but you can't force it to drink until it's thirsty... You can't force your husband to WANT to help- and the more negativity you create between the two of you- the more you suffocate the chance of him wanting to. Also- does it make you happy when you are able force him to do something? Probably not- you probably feel even more unsatisfied than if you did it yourself- so why would he want to help when you're still not going to be happy with the result. Basically- just because he has ADD doesn't mean you aren't also making HIM resentful. It's a cycle- if you break the cycle you'll have a better chance at a positive change- if nothing else you'll realize that you can take care of that stuff and not have to be angry about it. If your spouse were not there- you would still have to pay bills/ organize/ be in charge of getting things done in your life.


Do you really think any amount of meds or therapy or change on my part can make my husband WANT to wash the dishes, mow the lawn and carry out the trash? I want my husband to just suck it up and DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE even if it's not fun, just like I do, just like most adults do. I desperately want him to say, she worked all day and it hurts her to walk, so I'll do the dishes. I don't CARE if he wants to do them, just that he acknowledges that they need to be done. Otherwise, surely, I'm doing dishes, grocery shopping, doing laundry all night while he sleeps, watches TV and plays on the computer. Is that the kind of life you want? Is that what you think you deserve? As far as "you'd have to do it anyway," not really. Surely with 2 people in the house there are more dishes, more cooking and laundry to be done. Because we are a couple with a dog and 2 cats, we live in a house. I'm handicapped, I'd never live in a house or have a dog if I were by myself, so why shouldn't he mow the lawn? It does make me happy when I force him to do something. It's one less thing for me to have to do that's unfair, painful and difficult. What makes me happy is not to be in pain. (I realize my perspective is colored by the fact that I have great difficulty walking and doing most "chores". Maybe for most people the sunshine and rainbows is more important than actually getting it DONE.)

I have to agree with

I have to agree with Sueann, although I have nowhere near her physical challenges.  I may not be 'happy' when I have to nag him into taking care of his responsibilities, but there is relief in having one less thing I have to handle along with everything else.  For me, it is no longer about happiness, but about survival.  Discontinuing the nagging may well create a happier environment for him, but no amount of "wanting" to pitch in is going to result in his taking his share of the work.  Isn't that at the core of the problem?  It isn't that he doesn't want to pitch in, it's that he can't focus long enough to do so.  Believe me, I tried backing off.  Been there, done that.  He was in fact a happier man, at least until our house went into foreclosure and was almost sold out from under us.  Shouldn't foreclosure create more of a desire to "pitch in" than my nicer disposition, if desire really was the problem?  Honestly, his problem isn't my nagging, it's his ADD.  The changes that have to be made are his.  I don't mind making a fair amount of effort where it's needed, but obviously discontinuing the nagging simply hasn't changed his behaviour, and I think it's disingenuous to suggest this method works in all cases.  There are too many posts on this site that indicate otherwise.  And let's make something very clear.  It's his ADD that originally created the negativity, not my nagging.  Look, I don't want to pick on all ADDers here, as it's clear that there are some who are working very hard on their challenges.  I respect and admire their efforts.  But the fact is I'm looking for a partner, not to handle all the responsibilities at home.  If he were capable of being honest with himself and putting in the effort that some of the other ADDers on this site do, I would feel differently.  But perhaps my husband's level of ADD will not allow this.  I would really love (and some others may as well) advice on how to work with perhaps more hardcore cases of ADD.

"I don't do anything I don't want to do"

My husband told me that once, while we were dating. I had gotten into a problem where I needed him to drive 30 miles and pick me up to drive me to work, and he told me "I never do anything I don't want to do." He meant it to be nice, to make me not feel guilty about needing his help.

But I found out he really meant it! He hung up on customers he didn't want to talk to and got fired. He didn't look for a job until I threatened him with divorce. He loves the job he has now, and has made himself tolerate the parts he does not like.

But he finds housework unpleasant so he doesn't do it. I find it unpleasant, but because I am a woman, or because I don't have ADD, it's supposed to be fine for me. We also have pointless arguments about who does more. I magnify everything I do by maybe a factor of 5 because walking is so difficult for me. He is a perfect physical specimen and I think he can jolly well put the laundry in the washer because I've had several bad falls in the laundry room and am afraid of it.

I don't know what the answer is, I wish I did. But I don't think he's ever going to want to load the washer, wash dishes or clean the bathroom.

I have to agree with

I have to agree with Sueann, although I have nowhere near her physical challenges.  I may not be 'happy' when I have to nag him into taking care of his responsibilities, but there is relief in having one less thing I have to handle along with everything else.  For me, it is no longer about happiness, but about survival.  Discontinuing the nagging may well create a happier environment for him, but no amount of "wanting" to pitch in is going to result in his taking his share of the work.  Isn't that at the core of the problem?  It isn't that he doesn't want to pitch in, it's that he can't focus long enough to do so.  Believe me, I tried backing off.  Been there, done that.  He was in fact a happier man, at least until our house went into foreclosure and was almost sold out from under us.  Shouldn't foreclosure create more of a desire to "pitch in" than my nicer disposition, if desire really was the problem?  Honestly, his problem isn't my nagging, it's his ADD.  The changes that have to be made are his.  I don't mind making a fair amount of effort where it's needed, but obviously discontinuing the nagging simply hasn't changed his behaviour, and I think it's disingenuous to suggest this method works in all cases.  There are too many posts on this site that indicate otherwise.  And let's make something very clear.  It's his ADD that originally created the negativity, not my nagging.  Look, I don't want to pick on all ADDers here, as it's clear that there are some who are working very hard on their challenges.  I respect and admire their efforts.  But the fact is I'm looking for a partner, not to handle all the responsibilities at home.  If he were capable of being honest with himself and putting in the effort that some of the other ADDers on this site do, I would feel differently.  But perhaps my husband's level of ADD will not allow this.  I would really love (and some others may as well) advice on how to work with perhaps more hardcore cases of ADD.

I Empathize With Your Wow!


Being handicapped definitely throws another dimension into things. I'm guessing many spouses have health breakdowns sheerly from the extended duration of chronic stress.

I am certainly in that boat.

I, too, live in fear of what would actually happen if my husband had to 'take care' of me. Let's be real. It wouldn't happen. As is. Today.

Here's to hoping for a brighter tomorrow!

He has his moments

I recently had a couple of minor surgeries, and he handled driving me to the hospital and home pretty well. He asked the doctors questions which suggested that he understood what was going on. But we were late both times. I was laid up for a couple weeks after a surgery a couple of years ago, and he did keep us and the animals feed. I can't say he did much else. I had some problems with laundry since I wasn't supposed to lift more than 10 pounds. I felt very much like "I can't and he won't, so how is it going to get done?"

So many of the non-ADD spouses on this site have issues caused by the stress. Depression and its evil cousin Fibromyalgia, hypertension and other stress-related disorders are rampant. An awful lot of us are in counseling ourselves to try to understand/accept the situation.

My problems are caused by a problem in the physical structure of my body, and by a car accident many years ago. There is nothing to be done to help me physically, especially since I have no insurance. But it's not his fault, any more than having ADD is his fault. But I disclosed it all fully to him before we got married, and we didn't know about the ADD. So I feel blindsided. He did know I wasn't expecting to do all the housework all the time and paid lip service to equality and fairness. I'd just like to see him practice it.


So I'm new and just found this site. I'm the resentful, grumpy, non-fun one because everything falls to me and I have no time for anything I want to do. I've asked to go to councelling but he won't because he doesn't have time. (it's just not a priority) I've talked about divorce and now I'm ready. The last draw was hiding stuff from me cause apparently I'm to controlling. I really don't know if we can be saved. He believes that it is all my all my fault and that the ADD has nothing to do with it. I read this and just cried and can't explain it. What do you do when you want to give control but they simply will not even the smallest tast. Stating - "I'm to busy" "that is your thing" "I need to go it's my job". I have a full time job - a child and I'm too busy, hate doing it but the bills still need to be paid, toilet still needs to be scrubbed. I'm going to burst.

He does take medication but until there is any realization that the ADHD has anything to do with our issues I think I'm dead in the water. Any suggestions???? 


After 10 years of just

After 10 years of just meds... And after a huge argument, I am not really speaking to him. he made the appt to see a adhd counselor... I have said it over and over and over "you need to do the work". I did all the counseling, we did couples therapy, we tried an adhd counselor, but he didnt focus on adhd. My husband managed to turn it all on me. I found someone to help with just me for the last 6 years and finally found this site and realized "It's not just me!!!!!". I cant tell you how mad and angry and fed up i am. He is in hyperfocus mode to do anything to try to fix it and i cant breathe because i am so mad about wasting so much time....

What Your Husband May Be Thinking

I, too, was on meds for 10 years before I tried counseling.  I did choose to go of my own volition, when I finally realized that I wasn't make enough progress by taking meds and reading books.  I needed better strategies to accomplish my goals. 

I'm sorry your husband is not pulling his weight.  It has taken me a LONG time to fully appreciate how much effort my husband has had to expend being the logistics, delegation, and follow-through expert in the family.  I thought that since I've been in the same profession for a dozen years (and do extremely well at work), I do chores like any other wife, and OTHER people appreciate me when he didn't, that he was just being a nag and a control freak.  I didn't realize what a stress it has been on him to constantly have to mentally juggle what he has to do and remember, plus what I have to do and remember.  I figured since it was so easy for him to do (he doesn't even need a list when he's at the grocery store... grrrr... jealous), that it was NOT a burden.  Now, after many years and an awesome therapist, I am starting to "get it."  One of the many ingratiating symptoms of ADHD is "does not appear to learn from mistakes (DSM IV)."  It doesn't excuse what your husband is doing, but I would bet anything that regardless of IQ, he has NO CLUE how this affects you, even if you tell him every day, all the time.

For me, this is the result of a number of factors.  First, I have a short-term memory problem, which means I have to consciously find a better way to avoid making repetitive mistakes, and not make the mistake of just trying harder, but actually have to "try differently" as Melissa rightly suggests.   My husband kept complaining that I kept spilling water in the fridge every time I put the water pitcher back.  I would get distracted, but when I finally slowed down, I realized I was not lifting it high enough and it would get caught on the lip of the shelf and spill.  Not the end of the world, but I now understand he feels hurt when he thinks he's not important enough for me to address an issue.  I then took a Sharpie and wrote a reminder to lift up the pitcher over the lip directly on the decanter, because I knew that was THE ONLY WAY I COULD POSSIBLY REMEMBER.  Is that the solution for a "normal" person? Hell, no.  But I haven't had that particular issue since.  Secondly, I really don't always see the full connection of events from beginning to end because I can view events very myopically.  For example, I have an issue with relative lateness in the morning since I've had kids and I really could not pinpoint the exact cause.  Per my counselor's suggestion, I started keeping a log how long it takes for me to do certain things (shower, eat, workout, walk dog, etc...) for a few weeks so I could see what was happening.  I realized a few things:  I never kept transitions in mind as part of the time I spend (e.g.; getting kids to car) I spent too much time on the computer, I spent too much time at breakfast because I was too tired from going to bed late, which affected the start and end times of my workout, which in turn affected how quickly I could get the kids ready, which led to increased stress and yelling at my kids to get them out the door.  Now, if prior to this exercise, you had asked me why I was late, I would tell you that my kids were being uncooperative (which kids can be at times), but I would have put way too much emphasis on that one piece without seeing the big picture.  Finally, I am certain that your husband has been focusing how your anger makes him feel badly about himself instead of focusing on his own issues (which is NOT right, but quite common).  I was so angry at my husband for his belittling comments, lack of appreciation for how hard I was trying, constant nagging and yelling that I could not get past this to take a good look at myself.  I would immediately get defensive and then start telling him how mean he was to me.  He didn't intend this, but since I really couldn't understand my problems due to the issues with short-term memory and seeing the bigger picture, his anger (and by this, I mean rage) only made it worse as the OVERWHELM I feel when he starts yelling causes my brain to go to radio silence.  Only when our marriage really began to implode and I started to see a counselor was I able to have the kind of productive and respectful conversations that helped me make progress.  My therapist and I have both read Melissa's book.  Have either of you read it?  I highly recommend it, and would have your husband ask if his counselor has read it.  ADHD and marriage is a very specific topic, and the last thing you need is another  ADHD "expert" who has no clue how it is affecting your lives, because I'm sure it does on a daily basis.

You have a right to be angry.  ADHD symptoms are very frustrating and the onus is on your husband to do what he needs to do.  For your part, make sure you are taking care of yourself (sleep, eating well, and exercise for stress reduction).  Again, I suggest Melissa's book (and the seminar, too!).  There is only so much you can control, and really, all you can control is you.  I've been there from the other side.  I have been making strides, but my husband still notices more negative things (he's depressed from years of stress of my ADHD and is FINALLY getting help... but it's still early).  I can't control my husband's anger or depression anymore than you control your husband's ADHD.   Use that knowledge to work on how you relate to him as a wife and on trying to let go of the resentment part of the anger, not because you're at fault, but because that will free you to do the only thing you can do; help yourself. 

I wish your husband the best of luck in therapy.  If it's any consolation, I was also hyperfocused when I got a counselor, and it was the impetus I needed to make positive changes.  I know this is not always the case, but sometimes it gets the job done!

amira.ansari's picture

Parent child dynamic that is far past "book" help

There are so many times I struggle being the ADHD partner in our marriage because of being a woman and being expected to do the household chores and errands and scheduling and kids stuff etc. and I am not one of those ADHD spouses like so many who are in denial about how my marriage is impacted by ADHD and I am actively trying every single day all day long to manage my ADHD with medication and therapy and learing new things like using a sharpie to write notes in the fridge (great idea by the way :D) I have a dozen whiteboards, post it pads, email reminders and all the other "typical" ADHD solutions and its just not enough, but like you, I noticed I spend a HUGE amount of time online and dont count transitions as "time it takes to do something" and so I am going to do what your therapist suggested about keeping track of your time...and see what I can come up with to help change that.

I know for me, the only reason my husband and I are not already divorced is because he can see obvious effort every single day all day long in me trying to work around my ADHD and get things done, otherwise he would have left a long time ago Im sure. Im not sure what else will work, and I know my husband is super frustrated about having to be my external memory sometimes, and its even more difficult because we have two kids, one with ADHD and Asperger's and one with ADHD and Tourette's and one of the kids ADHD is as bad or worse than mine, and I have other issues besides the ADHD that make me not the "typical" wife, and he has his own challenges just like every person, and it amazes me that he is able to do it all even halfway most days...and I recognize the sacrifice he makes for our family, and that makes a huge difference. I really feel for those of you whose partners are not acknowledging their part in the issues between you, its very sad.

My biggest problem is I need more positive feedback from him, and he is so overwhelmed that he just cant most of the time, and I get lots of negative, and its soooo hard to keep trying day in and day out and only your mistakes seem to count, and those are so many that it makes you just want to quit alltogether. I keep telling myself that some day the kids will leave home and things will get easier, but I hate that I find myself wanting my kids to grow up and leave home, it makes me feel like a terrible mother and a terrible person, and I struggle constantly not to beat myself up all the time for my mistakes because I know I am giving it my all, every single day..but it doesnt make it easier. All I want to do is cook dinner and clean the house and keep groceries in the fridge and make sure the kids get their chores and homework done and have clean clothes and are reasonably happy, and even that is too much most of the time...and I feel like such a failure, I am so afraid my kids are going to grow up and hate me for not being able to teach them how to live in the world, but how can I teach them something I dont have any idea how to do for myself?

We have a SERIOUS parent-child dynamic, and I dont know how to get out of it, I mean Im trying to learn how to be a "responsible adult" in the way that makes sense to me, and I just seem to fail miserably in everyone else's idea of what a "responsible adult" should be...and it is the single biggest problem we have, and I have no idea where to go from here. I read Melissa's book, and it didnt even scratch the surface on the level I am talking about, the parent-child dynamic mentioned in the book was us years ago, its gotten a LOT worse since then, and I cant find anything on how to turn it around, and I dont have anywhere to find an ADHD marriage therapist and cant afford to pay out of pocket, so I am forced to google and read whatever i can find, which isnt much...and I am in therapy and work with my therapist, but she is not all that familiar with ADHD so she treats the parent-child dynamic from a different perspective, and it isnt helping much....and Im just at  my wits end. I am trying so hard, and its not getting much better.

We finally sat down and said that we would stay together until the kids are out of the house and then see how things go, and we both hope that our marriage will survive this and when things finally do settle down some, that we can work on us, but Im afraid its going to be too late by then and it wont be fixable. I love him and he loves me and we both want it to work, we just dont know what to do to make it work and I cant do anymore than I am already, I just need a much more in depth approach, and I dont have any idea where to find it.

Its frustrating at best :(

You have a lot going on; understandable overwhelm!

One of my two children has ADHD, and I find that very challenging and frustrating.  I teach and am very familiar with Asperger's and Tourette's.   I hope you realize that what you are going through would cause the most organized Mom enormous stress and difficulty.   I only have 1 kid with a diagnosis and it stresses me out, especially since I, too, am still working on my own issues with my symptoms.   You're right in that Melissa's book tends to focus on husbands with ADHD as that is her experience and more men get diagnosed in any case.   It is super frustrating to have those societal expectations and have ADHD as a Mom and wife.  I'll never be a Stepford wife, but I'll get over that.  I just want to accomplish things everyday, like you.

Do you know what is causing you and your husband the most stress?  I know your brain must be spinning from that question (prioritizing FUN ;)), so I'll ask it differently.  What do you and your husband fight about the most? Pick 3 things that cause the parent-child dynamic and tell me what you think the problem is and what he thinks the problem is.  Do you feel like you truly understand the scope of each problem?  Maybe we can help each other! 

Have a good night.

P.S.  I use the Sharpie on everything.  Just wrote myself a 3 month reminder on my electric toothbrush cord so I know when to change the $10.00 replacement brush (husband claims I go through them too quickly and they are expensive).

We think outside the box because we can't find it ;)!  I think of it as a latent evolutionary adaptation :).

amira.ansari's picture

What we fight about the most...hmmmm

1. me not being consistent with schedules, routines, chores, the kids, everything...I have great ideas and they would work, but you have to be consistent with implementing them, and Im not, and that leaves him to try and do it, and he is super overwhelmed. Mostly because in addition to all of our stuff, we care for his elderly grandma and he has a 2 hour daily commute (which is ending very soon thank GOD) and his physical health is not good, which leaves him very tired and irritable to begin with, so he doesnt have the time or the energy, to pick up any of my slack, and there is tons of it to pick up. Its taken me 3 years to just get to where I cook dinner most nights of the week, and that was a HUGE accomplishment for me (at least in my book it was) but thats soooooo minor in his way of looking at the world, that he sees that as childish and stupid that I couldnt do it to begin with (which only further aggravates the parent-child dynamic, because everything I do is stupid or insignificant and I need to do the "real things that need to be done, everyone can cook dinner, so the fact that you dont do it is ridiculous") and for a lot of years he thought I was just lazy and didnt want to do anything, but now he realizes its not true and I just struggle like crazy.

2. me not "speaking English", which I really dont understand in a lot of ways, he never understands what I am saying when I try to explain things, to him or the kids or anyone else, he says I dont make sense. but the kids understand and everyone else seems to understand (or at least they dont tell me they dont understand what Im trying to say) and I have other health issues which make that more difficult because of a childhood brain injury (word retrieval is very difficult and I use the wrong words for things a lot just to try and hurry up because he wont listen for long, because he "doesnt have time") and other things like me not being able to do or understand basic math (from the brain injury also), so I cant help with the finances because I cant figure out how the budget is supposed to work (I can put in my spending into the software to make sure its all up to date, but the budgeting part is beyond me) so he is just frustrated that I am not the typical adult who can take care of their own life easily and be a partner in what he needs help with and help with the kids and the house and the discipline and everything and not have to struggle to get it done.

3. I think honestly its just he has expectations that are impossible for me to meet, and they may be "typical" adult expectations, but Im not that, and Im okay with that for me...but he isnt, and I see the benefits of doing things more like he likes them, but I just dont know if I can. I mean the fact that yesterday I was able to make sure the kids did the two big things we needed from them and I remembered all day and made dinner on time and paid some of the bills is a HUGE accomplishment for me in one day, but to him its really small and insignificant, and he doesnt "say" that, but it comes out in other ways and I get very frustrated with it, always trying my best to be "good enough" and it never being even close, and then when I ask for help (like I said it is easier for me to communicate with him via email or IM or something because the words come out easier when i am writing/typing) he says that I shouldnt "need" to do that and should just learn to communicate like a "normal" person and so he doesnt want to do it, and to need white boards and written to-do lists and reminders and timers and all those other things are "childish" and only kids need those and if I had self discipline I wouldnt need them (is his thinking) and the fact that after a certain time (like 9pm) I stop being a "mom" and do whatever I want, so sometimes the kids dont get to bed on time and not a lot gets done after that because I need time to chill out (a lot more than most people I think, because of issues related to the brain injury and other stuff as well as the ADHD hyperfocus compounding it exponentially), frustrates him...but I told him last night actually, "I dont ask you to save the world before 8am because you can barely see straight that early (he is not a morning person) so you cant get mad at me for getting up at 6am and going all day long nonstop and then having some "me time" after 9pm and needing you to do the bedtime thing for the kids" and that frustrates him too. He thinks because I dont work, and I spend a lot of time online (not all of which is playing around, I do things like this and pay bills and am continuously looking for jobs and any resources to help my family with our issues) that I just sit on my butt all day and he works and I dont get things done because I dont "care" and dont have the "self discipline" and he sees that as a big character problem, but he finally is understanding ADHD a little better I think, because its better than it used to be, but now I am so pissed off all the time for busting my butt and getting crapped on all day every day for what I didnt do and how childish I am, that I am very intolerant of his complaints and we are fighting A LOT more, and Im not really sure how to reconcile that other than just with time.

Some days I feel like I should get a damn medal for living the life I do, I have so much going on on a daily basis between my stuff (the ADHD, brain injury, a vision issue that makes me unable to drive, PTSD from childhood crap) the kids issues, taking care of grandma, his physical health issues, cooking every single meal from scratch every single day from dietary restrictions for the four of us (multiple food/environmental allergies, so I literally cook EVERYTHING) financial stress that everyone is dealing with these days, not being able to find even a part time job, I just recently had emergency surgery, family problems (which are mostly resolved now thank God) and living in less than adequate conditions (our house is falling apart--we cant fix anything because its grandma's house and she is getting senile and freaks out anytime a repairman comes around(and Im talking half the lights in our ceilings dont work, when I say less than optimal) and he is going back to school soon to finish his degree, which I am super excited about, but thats just added stress Im worried at the same time!

so I KNOW im dealing with a lot of stuff, and I feel like Im doing a decent job, much better than I used to, but its obviously not enough for him, and may never be, but there is NO way I can make it on my own with the kids, and he knows that, so we are going to make it work until the kids are adults and/or out of the house...which is admirable and I know that he is a good man and there is no denying that, I just am worried that in the time it takes for the kids to be ready to leave the house and things finally get "easier" we are going to end up hating eachother and our marriage will be irreparable at that point.

Part 1: Consistency

First of all, cooking most nights of the week is a big deal to someone with ADHD.  What is involved may not be rocket science, but it does tax executive functioning quite a bit, and it does not matter how bright you are.  We have to choose what to cook (and in your case, incorporate dietary restrictions for your family; not fun), make a list, go to the store, be back in time to start cooking, then cook dinner with all of the noise and distractions of home and family, and prioritize whatever random things you happen to remember you need/have forgotten to do while you are cooking (Run to the white board.  Remember to call ______, buy gift for upcoming birthday party, etc...) because if you don't do it RIGHT THEN, you might forget, which you know damn well distracts you from the task at hand, but what the hell else are you supposed to do?  While you are cooking, you have to budget your time to have dinner ready at the appointed hour, while simultaneously making sure the table gets set, all dishes will be ready in time but sometimes staggered so you can cut the garlic bread while the spaghetti sauce is finishing (guess what we had tonight :)) etc... Time management, prioritizing, decision-making, task initiation and completion while operating in a distracting environment ...these are a few of my favorite things!  Let me say it again... It is a big deal!  I bet most of the non-ADHD wives on this site would LOVE it if their husbands were busting their a** like that day in and day out!  Sometimes, I wish my husband could see how much fun it is to experience life with a suboptimal frontal lobe.  I suspect that part of the reason your husband has trouble relating to you is because he knows that despite your difficulties, you are a smart woman, so in his mind, he might be wondering why you can't get your act together.  You might have trouble communicating with him verbally, but you express yourself very coherently in writing; there is a clear and LOGICAL progression to it.  I also e-mail my husband a lot.  It really helps because I can see what I am trying to express, can delete (unlike when words leave my mouth before I can stop myself; there's no rewind for that; ugh), and have proof of the conversation, so it doesn't get jumbled in my mind later.  Genius! 

As far as being inconsistent, I know what you are talking about.  It is so hard to do the same mundane chores week after week, while balancing family life and the chores that are more intermittent.  I know you already have lists and white boards, and so do I.  I have discovered something so simple that it seems like it would not make a big difference that has really turned my house around (again, not that I'm perfect).   I was talking to my therapist about this very problem, and she suggested a chore chart and that I assign chores to days of the week.  Maybe normal people do this, but to me, it is foreign.  I just react (or freeze in overwhelm) and bury my head because I literally DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO START BECAUSE IN MY ADHD MIND, THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.  I went to Target and bought a magnetic chore chart because I realized part of my problem was too many lists and I would lose them or have to reinvent the wheel each time.  Plus, since  prior to this there were no days assigned to the chores, I didn't feel compelled to complete certain ones, and put them off until I forgot about them.  I frequently worked in extremes ...avoid,avoid, avoid, overcompensate, overcompensate, overcompensate.  Avoiding made me stressed and so did overcompensating.  But this silly little chart is on my fridge where I always see it (which means I had to clear off my fridge so I would actually SEE it (I don't know about you, but visual chaos means I don't notice even obvious things).  Plus, I now associate certain chores with certain days, so the prioritization takes care of itself.  I no longer fee so overwhelmed that I'm paralyzed, and I LOVE to be able to document my success (silly, but true).    As to family schedules, have you ever posted a schedule in a place you will always know to refer to it?  Maybe you already have.  If so, what about it doesn't work?  Is it that you are perpetually distracted?  It's not in a visible place?  You don't look at it because it's too complicated, too small?  Does it reflect what actually happens in your family, or what you wish would happen?  Did you give yourself enough of a buffer in case 1 or more kids have meltdowns or something else goes wrong?  Does your schedule change too frequently due to circumstances beyond your control and if so, how do you adapt?  Should you have more than 1 schedule posted (weekday vs. weekend, for example, sports, etc...)

O.K.  Speaking of being consistent, I need to go clean my office.  This is the one area of the house that does make me feel overwhelmed.  I hate paper :( so very much, and now I have to sort it :( :( .  I will attempt to address the other issues over the next few days.  I don't know if ANYTHING I wrote helped, but know that you're not alone.  I struggle with being consistent, to communicate effectively with my husband ( hardly an issue with people who are NOT him; more on that later), and with feeling unappreciated despite what I feel are extraordinary efforts to compensate for my ADHD.


Be well! 


So I desperately try to understand why my husband is the way he is and you are giving me a some insight. 

He says I think he can't do anything right. That is not true! If he tell me something and I don't understand, all I have to do is ask a question and he'll flip out that none of his ideas are any good or that he's stupid. 

He won't make time for us to see a councellor. He won't read any of the books. It's all my fault. 

He is bright. He is a good person. He drops everything here to go to work and every thng falls to me so when he returns he's not happy with how I've survived while he's been gone. And so the cycle continues. 

Suggestions???? Thanks!

Response to "Need Help Now"

Has he always been defensive?  I struggle not to be defensive because my husband has (not so nicely) challenged and belittled me so many times.  I don't get that sense from your post, though.  Am I missing something?  Could you give me an example? 

My husband has frequently said to me, "You hear what you want to hear," but really, I think it is that I hear what I believe I've heard, don't always catch everything due to inattention (sometimes he starts talking before my attention is turned to his words), and have a history of "filling in the blanks" when I haven't heard everything he's said.  I didn't even realize how frequently (or automatically!) I did that until I read that people with ADHD commonly do that to compensate.  I'm getting better about asking him to repeat when I realize I didn't hear something by saying, "I'm sorry.  I didn't hear what you said about _____."   Part of it is that he's not particularly patient and I didn't want to ask him to repeat.  Even though I knew this, it really wasn't at the forefront of my attention, so I didn't really recognize it for the problem it was.  Even now, when he says something that upsets me, I have a MUCH harder time concentrating, making it more difficult to receive messages and communicate (like it's not challenging enough).  That's when I'm most likely to start "interpreting."  I suppose many non-ADHD couples go through that; it's just that having ADHD literally complicates communication on a good day, never mind the many stressful days we've had.

My husband isn't particularly fond of reading self-help books, either.  I'm sure that on this website, there are more open-minded guys, but generally, I don't see scores of men in the self-help section at Barnes & Noble ;).  I'm not sure what your husband objects to specifically.  It could also be sustained attention to reading.   Maybe he considers this an extension of the criticisms he perceives from you, like your telling him to fix himself (not saying you are doing that, just trying to get into his head)?  What kind of counseling were you referencing?  Individual for him, couples, both?

Does he travel a lot for work?  Do you mean that he is a whirling dervish who leaves chaos in his wake?  What about how you survive while he is gone makes him unhappy?

Interesting! thanks!

Yes, somewhat but it's been more since we've had kids. I know that he thinks that I'm belitting him when I ask him question. He'll make a statement about wanting to do something and I just don't understand how it can be done and so out of genuine interest I ask more about specifics and that is what will set him off. Apparently by me asking that means that I don't think it can be done. ... to me that is not that case at all but that is how he sees it. I'm so glad that you were able to do some reading and see how thing work. I have no issue realizing that each person, ADHD or not thinks or hears differently. What I have problem with is that he believes that all of marriage issues are my fault. From messy house to bills being late. 

Honestly I think my husband objects to the thought that their is anything wrong with him in any way. My problem with that is that is that I've never said it's bad, just different than me and somehow we need to work together. When our oldest was first diagnosed I made him come with me to appointment as he isn't that there was no label going to be put on our kid. I do agree that I've never said I want to fix him but I know that is what he's thinking. 

He travels alot with work so he whirls in and whirls out and I pick up the pieces. He get's mad when I get things done while he's gone that he feels should be his job as the male but when he's here he gets mad when I suggest that something needs to be attended to. 

I was hoping for couples counceling but he really not interested so I'm going to get individual councelling as I can't take it anymore. Last night he insisted that I would have done something that after 10* years I've never done but he totally felt I would have because I'm that stupid. I'm at the breaking point. He treats me like a survant that he has no respect for and I'm not going to put up with it. I'm taking a break this coming week to be away from him. I've talked, I've threatened, I've asked to him I'm the issue and it has nothing to do with him! NOTHING! Truely I think I've given up on the marriage as far as a marriage. Today I was happy that he wasn't home. It's so sad. 

Unexpected Similarities


It's funny (in a very un-funny way) that even though you are the non-ADHD partner and I am the ADHD partner in our respective relationships, I think I understand you.

I read a book called Mindset this summer, which has to be one of the best books I've ever read.  The author did a lot of research about motivation and learning, and wanted to find out why some people succeed (even in circumstances where they have less natural talent) while others flounder or stagnate.  She discovered two types of learners:  those with a a "growth mindset" and those with a "fixed mindset."  People with a growth mindset want to be challenged, are not complacent with themselves, do not feel so threatened by the fact that they are not perfect, expect that making mistakes is part of the learning process, are more willing to try new things (aka things they might not be naturally good at), and want a partner who will challenge their status quo (in a supportive way) so that they can continue to grow as a person.  They believe they can develop better habits, character, and acquire more knowledge via effort, and view themselves and others as capable of evolving.  By contrast, those with a fixed mindset are very threatened by any hint of imperfection in themselves or others.  They tend not to challenge themselves as they view people as basically unchangeable.  They might appear to challenge themselves, but really, they tend to engage only in activities they're good at already.  When they do err, every misstep is seen as a judgment on all the character, knowledge, skill, or talent they have, or will ever have, since they view themselves as essentially unchangeable.

You can have a growth mindset in some areas of your life, but not others, and the same is true for the fixed mindset.

It seems to me that both of us are reading books, going to individual therapy, and are open to trying new things to help our relationship.  Yet, both us of appear to have spouses with a fixed mindset.  My husband has said to me, "You are who you are" and keeps referencing ADHD symptoms that appeared more frequently 10 YEARS AGO.  On the one hand he keeps saying, "You never change" every time I make a mistake.  Although he's in therapy (about a month in), he has a LONG way to go concerning his resentment toward me (and toward others, to be frank).   On the other hand, when he references my present behavior, he says, "Why couldn't you change 10 years ago?"  I might be distractible, but I do notice the contradictory statements above.  His bitter resentment and fixed mindset is coloring his view of me in the present, and he uses that viewpoint of me to prove that I am unchangeable to justify that anger.  Needless to say, I can't %^$#@^* win.  I am perpetually one step away from being in the dog house, despite the fact I have had the same job for most of my career, I cook, do laundry, make lunches for the whole family during the work week, and transport the kids to and from school (and I have NEVER forgotten them at school in spite of my ADHD).  I clean (not Martha Stewart clean, but we're not candidates for "Hoarders," either), I'm a loving, responsible Mom who gives her kids healthy meals, manage my son's asthma better than he could ever dream, noticing subtle clues that his lung function is decreasing, predicting ER visits, and always being told by the ER docs that I made the right decision.    I'm not perfect, but my natural inclination is to try, no matter how many times I stumble.  I am constantly striving to do better.  Yet, here we are:  my clinically depressed husband is planning on leaving me in March (we want to get our son through most of the school year) because I should have changed earlier, even though I can't change at all (sarcasm).  Even though he tells me he loves me.  Even though he says the thought of me with another man repulses and enrages him.  Even though he tells me he sees all the wonderful qualities I have, and he says that I'm a "catch" and will have no problem picking up someone else. 


Your husband is having a really hard time realizing how much he's affecting you.  He has a harder time accepting the truth about himself, and he doesn't even want to explore that his, your (singular), and your (collective) misery might be alleviated by examining his own issues.  I get the issue of him not realizing his effect on you (typical of we ADHDers), which might lead him to dismiss what you are saying.  BUT HE WON'T EVEN HUMOR YOU BY LOOKING AT SOMETHING THAT MIGHT SHED LIGHT ON THE SUFFERING IN YOUR FAMILY, BECAUSE HE FEELS VERY THREATENED BY IT AND IS PROBABLY UNCERTAIN THAT EVEN IF HE COULD IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM, THAT HE COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.   Therefore, what you view as a constructive point, he sees as you casting a serious doubt of him as a person, and who wants doubt cast upon themselves when they think it's hopeless?


I'm sorry you are also in the fun position of possibly breaking up your family.  I keep thinking of my kids, and that's what I find saddest.   My husband and I, whatever our differences may be,  BOTH love them so much.  I'm sure it's the same for you.

So True - about the similarities!

I only have a few minutes. We just got back from vacation and have to get the kids ready for school tomorrow. (husband didn't come and isn't home).

It is so true. I to think I understand you! I'm sorry that your husband can't see that you can change. I know my husband would say that he's in he same boat as you and can never win.  Apparently I'm the same in his mind. My response to him when he says you couldn't change 10 years ago was that 10 years ago maybe I didn't understand the whole picture back then I know 10 years ago I didn't understand a single thing about ADHD. Now 2 kids and hubby with it, I'm learning and trying. I do think you are right about looking at things and sheding light but my question. But those with ADHD are NOT hopeless. THEY are BRIGHT, FUN, SMART, Hyper focused (on what they choose) people....probably why we fell in love with you in the first place. We just now have to live with the cards we are dealt.

Each and every person in the world had something that different - personality, looks, habits etc. ADHD to me is just a name to help explain a set of difference. I do not see ADHD as being bad but I actually see it as being the answer. There are so many people doing research on the symptoms and what can help make life easier (for both parties) that I wish it wasn't viewed as being a bad thing (by some). But it takes 2 people to make things work. I know that some of the things he (and my kids) do are extremely frustrating to me but I also know that I frustrate him.    

You point out an interesting point that I never thought about. What I view as constructive he views as something completely different. It does make me cry when I think of my kids and we both do love them. I just wish that our spouses could open up a little to the thought we can change. ... both the ADHDer and then Non-ADHDer! 

And just so you know ...I'm the Non-ADHDer and I use to have to set the alarm on my watch so I wasn't late getting the kids from school! 

I'm tired so I'm might be babbling so more another day.




well ...that answers the question I've been asking myself for a long time.....

why is it when I have a brilliant idea or something of the sort does my loving non adhd husband always ask me questions.  it frustrates me to no end. I feel like I cant do the idea now because I cant explain it. no matter how I explain wont end up making sense to him.  I see his question as him trying to slow me down and let me down gently that I wont be able to do it. most of my ideas have nothing to do with a plan or explanation. I just start it with the faith in myself that I can do anything. when he asks me even one question it's like he's telling me I cant do it. if he keeps asking questions it's like he's telling me that even if I could do it , it really wouldnt be a good idea or something worth while. just once I'd like to hear him say "I havent the slightest clue what your talking about but I cant wait to see the result" and sometimes he could even add "need any help?" this is why I prefer to keep secrets. I dont tell anyone when I do most things because everyone has input or opinions and they frazzle me. I loose motivation for the project the more questions or opinions are said. even if they are innocent. and no matter how many times my husband says "I was just asking  more about it" deep down I always thought it was because he didnt think I had any valuable ideas or contribution. I do believe you just might have helped solve one very annoying part of my life.

I used to get mad constantly at my husband....when I left even for a little while he couldnt do one thing the way I wanted it done. I do believe I even told him once or twice "are you seriously stupid". specially where the kids were concerned. took me a good long while and a few very honest people to get me to see.....there really isnt anything wrong with how he was doing it. I thought it would throw everything off and it always made my day longer when he helped. but then again....where was the hurry? his mode basically just seemed ineficient and slow. at this rate it might take days just to get the laundry finished and I would probably have to do it all over again because he did it wrong. I always felt I had to compensate and "fix" what he was doing wrong...till I figured out...theres nowhere to go :) he made his decisions based on him...the kids...and his day .....not me. and that was ok. I wasnt there. once again adhd swoops in with the world revolves around me speech. have big issues with wasting time and doing things that dont make sense (having fun). I gues I had to ask myself whats the worse thing that is going to happen as a result of the way he did it.....most of the time it really wasnt much at all. takes most of my efforts every day not to belittle him but it's worth it cause I just didnt realise he was trying to honestly help and not sabatoge me :) also the world doesnt revolve around me...go figure :) we decided in the long run to each his own but if were both in the house...I revert to his way because it's easier on the children than my fairly strict and usually fun free day.

Brief (& Happy) Tangent on First Part of Your Post

Holy crap!  I've been meaning to log on for the past few days to ask if there are any other ADHD spouses who sometimes have difficulty explaining the complexity of what they visualize in their heads.    I read " I cant explain it. no matter how I explain it... it wont end up making sense to him," and  between that and your absolute frustration in trying to explain it and being expected to explain it, a bell went off (Dr. Hallowell cleverly refers to this as the "agony of recapitulation," which cracks me up).  Though I never struggle in writing, it's so challenging for me to try to convey my ideas or logic to my husband.  Conversely, I can't tell you how many times I have truly understood what he's said to me or visualize the solution to a question he has asked me, but my WORDS do not even come close to conveying that I understood.    When this happens, I incorrectly BELIEVE I've communicated  effectively becauseknow what I'm visualizing, and I'm so distracted by the visual IN MY BRAIN.  As such, I haven't given full attention to the fact that perhaps, just maybe, the words that accompany what I "see" should reflect the images in my brain, and that my head is not a plasma TV that he can look at to confirm my comprehension.  I realize this was only one part of your post, and not your intent, but THANK YOU for helping me figure out what has been going on.  I didn't realize I was not communicating coherently because I was distracted by the visual overwhelm of my own ideas.  It's only when I read your post and started to write a response, that I had this epiphany.  Now I can stop it, or at least handle it better, because I know what is going on!



P.S.  Does anyone else have this experience?

amira.ansari's picture

ADHDMomof2--You arent alone!!!

I cant follow the replies, they get all jumbled in my head, so I am not sure who is talking to who. But if you arent talking to me...I TOTALLY have this issue (the thinking I explained things and didnt actually do it) constantly, like all the time!

ADHD twins ;)

Thank God it's not just me!  On some level, I didn't think it could be.  When I really thought about it, and how much distraction was involved with me having said little but expecting that my husband understood me, I realized this was the origin of his, "But, that's not what you said," reaction followed by my "But that's what I meant.  I guess I didn't explain it well enough, but in my head, I meant this..." followed by a detailed explanation of what I actually meant.  This particular habit has gotten better since my last post on the topic as I'm now conscientiously aware of it, instead of having a nondescript bad feeling about it that something was amiss.  I now actively ask myself the following question as I attempt to explain something:  What do I SEE?  I definitely elicit a more thorough and accurate response from myself from that one simple question.

To extremely driven and Mom of 2 - thank you!

See, I'm the non-ADDer who asks the questions. I do it not to judge or question but because I was trying to understand the idea. I thought if I understood then I could be on board with the idea. I could be supportive spouse and help move the idea forward. (he says I squish everything he wants to do and then we fight and I say that's NOT what I'm trying to do!! - NOT at ALL! ).

He always gets frustrated with me when I ask and the more he explains the more confused and then ask more questions because I'm confused because (to me) the answers don't follow a logical path. Sometime they answers even contradict each other. He says that I need to know to many of the answers, that I should be able to start things and work them out as I go. I've never done that, I've always planned thing and executed then. He has said that I research things to death and by then he's not interested anymore.  

Of note, I just realized to that, we can have logical and calm discussions if he (or I) draws the idea and we can see what been talked about. (if it is something we can draw).  

Now for the issue is that for most things I find that my husband is a very logical thinker. So, when the answers morf or sound non-logic I ask more!! You have enlightened me that I need to find a new way to 'help' or understand! 

If you have any suggestions I'd be happy to listen!! Thanks again!

Reply to Need Help Now

The drawing idea is a great idea-and it is supported by brain research.  The drawing and me thinking about what I am visualizing before/as I express are part of the same thing; trying to access the visual cortex of the brain in order to express language.  In fact, in a class I took, literacy actually has two components-a yin and yang of the same idea, if you will.  The first aspect is to create a visual representation (drawing/mental visualization), and the second is the associated words that are either expressed verbally or in writing (Lindamood-Bell:  Visualizing and Verbalizing).   Some kids who have trouble reading actually have trouble with visualizing, so they are decoding without comprehending.  I  never had trouble learning to read, but had trouble paying attention, and when I stop paying attention, I have no picture in my brain; it's all just words (blah, blah, blah).  It's the same for the spoken word, either when listening to someone else speak, or trying to express your ideas to someone else.  If you can suggest to your husband for those times where drawing is too complicated to VISUALIZE in his brain instead and maybe to write notes to organize his thoughts so he can actually see the contradictions (and this is going to take some practice, especially with a wandering attention span), and then tell you what he sees, you might get some more insight into what he's thinking, and hopefully, he will, as a result, be able to express himself better verbally.  You are right; the two are intrinsically connected.   The class I took helped me *start* to solve this problem for myself. 

I have the most trouble with my husband, and when I get upset, anxious, or angry with him (or he with me), it is MUCH more difficult for me to focus and do all the things I detailed above.  Maybe the same is true for your husband.  He is lucky that you are trying.  He probably doesn't get you are trying to actually be supportive, then he gets angry, and do you react to this out of sheer frustration? Totally understandable, but that might make him think he's actually right and you aren't trying to help him; I've been guilty of this too many times :(

I've gotten annoyed, angry, and "I don't want to deal with this because this is so boring so maybe I'll start a fight I'm so busy why won't he leave me alone" when he wants to have conversations that involve planning and organizing time.  I have to say, with practice, I've not only accepted it, I need to do it in order to function (Who knew?  Uh... my husband, apparently).  I know what it's like to be pro-active and alternately, reactive, and I feel a lot less stressed with the former.  Maybe you need to set aside a specific time each week where you get the bulk of these conversations done.  I find that structure helpful and I remember that it's going to happen.  I also don't have to deal with as many spontaneous conversations, which frequently happen when I'm doing something (I get aggravated when I am interrupted because it takes so much out of me to focus on a boring task to begin with).


Part 2: Communication

My husband and I struggle to communicate as well.  I know what you mean:  I feel like most people understand me most of the time.  I really do believe that ADHD and stress exacerbate any communication issues I do have, and it sounds like it's the same for you.  When my husband is impatient angry because he questions my logic, decision-making, how I explain something, that I'm not responding quickly enough, well enough, etc..., my brain starts getting overwhelmed and abruptly shuts down my frontal lobe.  I wish communication from my mouth and incoming to my ears would shut off too at that point, because really, once I'm in that mode, I need a run on the treadmill to shake it off and regroup so the backup generator kicks in (thank you, exercise-induced dopamine!).   Panic --> stupid things flying out of my mouth faster than I can stop them.  My favorite is when we have these issues when my p.m. dosage of Adderall wears off.  When I can foresee it, I will tell him it's not a good idea to approach me on ____ topic after a certain time at night.  Most of the time, he just chooses that time because the kids have gone to bed and that's when I have some of my finest moments.  I'm getting better about dealing with the panic, as lately he's been actively trying to slow me down when I start talking quickly and telling me not to panic (on some level, he KNOWS he makes it worse).  My counselor has helped a lot with that as well.  Do you think that stress worsens your word retrieval, which causes him to get angry, which causes you to have more issues with it? 

I think most of the non-ADHD partners on this site are struggling to understand how their ADHD partners can't accomplish things that most people take for granted, like keeping a clean house, contributing equally, etc...  I do get it, finally, after years and years of not seeing the big picture and not understanding what the big deal was.  That said, I don't have to tell you that we don't want to struggle with all of these issues.    It would be lovely to just be able to effortlessly do all the things my husband is able to do, and be efficient about it.  Still, in many ways, it's helped shape me into the resilient person I am.  It sounds like, as down as you are about your life, you also have a strength and resilience in there, perhaps far more than you credit yourself.  You keep going forward every day, even though life has given you a lot more challenges than most, and that is very admirable.   I know you don't feel you have all of the answers yet (who does?), but you are actively seeking ways to improve your life and act on it.

Control Freak...

I am new to this site.  I can't tell you the relief I feel reading this blog and seeing the responses. It's my life in all of these pages. The blog about giving up control particularly hit home for me.

I am the non-ADHD spouse.  I have been with my husband for 24 years, married to him for 20.  He was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago and he is taking Concerta.  It seemed to help for awhile. Now I feel like it isn't working anymore, or it has worn off by the time he gets home from work.

Throughout most of our relationship, my husband has accused me of acting like his mother.  He calls me a control freak constantly.  When he is particularly angry he says I am his prison warden, a dictator, and a tyrant.  Whenever we argue, his words and actions just ooze with animosity.  The animosity and verbal abuse make me cry and then he gets angrier and tells me I am just like a baby, kicking and screaming to get my way.  We ride this Merry Go Round constantly, and more and more lately, I just want off the ride.

What really bums me out is that I feel like I am a perfectly reasonable person.  Anything I am asking of my husband is minimal in my eyes.  I honestly don't think I ask for much.  Yet he acts like I am asking for the moon. I know I do try to reign him in sometimes, like when he drinks too much.  But for me, attempting to control situations like that makes me feel safe in an environment that seems to always be spinning in chaos.  

One of the really frustrating things is that I feel so alone in all of this.  He thinks I am the problem.  Period. He thinks if he takes the Concerta then problem solved. I don't really talk to friends about it because it's embarrassing. My husband is the master at acting calm and level headed around people. He is extremely intelligent and he is a kind person.  He holds down a good job and he is almost finished with his doctorate.  He is definitely a workaholic.  He hyperfocuses on work, school and working out.  He is successful at anything that interests him.  I doubt people would even believe me if I told them how he acts.

His mother told me he was diagnosed with ADHD as a child but she didn't believe it so she didn't do anything about it.  She told me this after we told her he was diagnosed with adult ADHD.  It makes me so angry when I think about it.  Maybe he could have gotten better coping mechanisms at a younger age and we could have avoided some of the heartache we have been through. I feel like I mourn for "how life could have been" a lot. 

Life is complete chaos much of the time.  I fel like the majority of the time my husband is out of control.  He has been in several car accidents.  He gets hundreds of dollars in parking, speeding, and no seat belt tickets every year. Our car insurance is sky high. And he never learns from his mistakes.  I often wonder how many times he has to get hit over the head with something before he gets it (I know that sounds mean, but that's honestly how it feels). I wonder if he has a moral compass. He is very impulsive and doesn't see the potential consequences of his actions.  He lies like a trooper and then tells me he lies because I am such a tyrant.  He has had one extramarital affair that I know of, and when I found out about it and asked him if he ever loved me, he said he did and had no plans of leaving me and didn't know why he did it.  I often feel like I am in the twilight zone.  His logic, the way he reads people, what he gleans from conversations seem "off" to me. I will say one thing and when he repeats it back it is entirely different. If I tell him I did not say what he says I did, he says I am lying and trying to manipulate him to get my way.  He says that a lot and it is infuriating. There are times when I think he is completely delusional because what he says occured is not even close to what the rest of us experienced. Communication with him is difficult, and now that our children are teenagers (and by some miracle neither one of our children has ADHD) they ask me what is wrong with him all the time.  I saw a lot of this before we were married, but I chalked it up to immaturity.  If I had known then what would happen over the course of the last twenty plus years, I would have run.

He can't sit still for long periods of time and then he makes us feel like we are lazy for sitting on the couch and watching a TV program.  He can exercise for hours and hours- he'll hike 11 miles and then come home and say he has to go to the gym (and this is while he is taking Concerta).  He comes home from work, says it's boring and then goes in our room and goes to sleep at 7pm to escape the boredom.  He abuses alcohol. He drinks every night as soon as he gets home, several beers a night. It doesn't seem to take anything now before he is droopy eyed and slurring.  He gets verbally abusive when he is drunk now too (is that from the Concerta?), and when I try to talk to him about it he says I don't like him drinking because that is when he tells me the truth. Weekends are a nightmare and I dread them.  He always promises he will be mellow (and I always believe him because he is so sincere) but then there is some band he wants to go see and he could care less if we go with him or not. And he doesn't even recognize it when he is inebriated- he'll deny being drunk no matter how much he has had to drink, tell me I am crazy and manipulating him to get what I want. I feel like a complete chump all the time because I believe what he says and he almost always disappoints. When I say something to him about it, he gets extremely angry and calls me names. Sometimes he agrees he drinks to calm himself down and it's out of hand and he'll stop, but never longer than a month before chaos ensues. I am scared he is an alcoholic. His doctor told him drinking was dangerous when he is on Concerta.  He is totally into taking care of his body but he ignores what the doctor says.  He is hypocritical when it suits him.  He tells me he is going to run an errand and then disappears.  One time he passed out drunk in his car and I had no idea where he was. I ended up having to put our children in the car in the middle of the night and go get him. He tells me all the time that his behavior is my fault because I am a control freak and won't leave him alone.  Logically, I know I can't control him, but If I talk to him about boundaries, and he promises me he will be home at a certain time, or he won't drink and then he does, I feel so betrayed, and then I am angry and then he says, "See, this is why I lie to you."

He doesn't help with anything. He leaves messes everywhere. I took over paying all the bills because he couldn't remember to pay them and we had late fees.  We are in credit card hell thanks to stupid impulsive purchases he makes.  He tries to be our kids' friend, not their parent.  He embarrasses them.  I feel like I have three children instead of two. Actually, my kids act more mature than he does most of the time.  How do I let go of the control when I am so afraid if I leave him to his own devices, he will do something really stupid or harmful?  Something that could potentially hurt all of us?  He has shown me over and over again that he has no impulse control. Every time he walks out the door I wonder what bomb is going to drop that day.  It's a horrible way to live.

And as time progresses, I am less patient with all of it.  I feel angry frequently.  I am sure he would tell you I nit pick. I keep saying the same things over again, hoping to drive the point home and it doesn't work. I am like a broken record. I am not the best person I can be and it makes me angry at myself.  I have a lot of self loathing for a lot of reasons.  I am depressed.  I have gained weight.  I don't know why I have stayed and put up with this.  I feel like a door mat often and I don't like the feeling. I honestly wonder if he is capable of having remorse.  I keep thinking after everything he has done he would be sorry and try harder. He says he is trying all the time.  If he is, I guess it's not my definition of someone who is trying.

Sorry for this very long post.  Feels good to vent.  I am going to go buy your book today!

Linsy's picture

so many things in common

Hi Joso, I am sorry to hear about your life, as it sounds like mine, although I did get my husband to leave a year ago as I could not stand it any longer. Mine doesn't really drink, but has not been diagnosed yet with anything. The one time he took Ritalin though we had a lovely day out, and that made me think that that ADHD was the answer. I am hoping that he is going to be diagnosed with something soon, because at least there are solutions to ADHD, the other things he might have are incurable.

I have just been on the Dukan diet since Jen, and lost 25lbs of the stress weight I put on after HB broke his leg really badly doing something utterly stupid. So I completely get what you are saying.

All the best, Linsy

My life is/ was the same

I know exactly what you are talking about.    My DH moved out today after 19.5 years of marriage.  Our 16 yr old daughter and I could not take his erratic behavior and verbal abuse anymore.  I'm feeling very sad tonight, but in my head I know it is the right thing for me.  He was diagnosed with depression and ADHD a few years ago.  He takes meds for both.  However, that is all he does.  In my mind he needs talk therapy to help deal with his anger and we need family counseling.  He refuses.  Three weeks ago he became so enraged That my daughter called the police.  That was it for me.  He got an apartment in town and I look forward to a peaceful and tranquil home.  I have not had this for years.    No one should live with any kind of abuse.  We are all entitled to live free from angry outbursts and rage.  At some level I do still love my husband.  It is just that I don't recognize the man I married anymore.  Part of me hopes this time apart will enlighten him and want him to address his/our issues.  However, I am not going to wait for that.  I plan to joina support group for separated and divorced people and begin to build myself a network of single friends.  I have a terrific family, good job and an awesome daughter. I have much to be thankful for and that is what I am going to concentrate on moving forward.  I am burned out from ADHD!  I hope you find peace with your situation.  You have only one life and everyone deserves happiness. Do not accept anymore abuse!!  I wish you well.

Married to ADHD Therapist Who WON'T Seek Help

I am the husband has ADHD.  We have been married 24 years, have 3 kids, and all is about to end.  We are a classic textbook case of the ADHD couple.  While reading The ADHD Effect on Marriage, I could easily have inserted my name in every sentence describing the non-ADHD spouse, and my husband's name in every sentence describing life for the ADHD partner.  I was so excited to finally figure this out - I had found an answer to "us".  It wasn't because I was just a  witch or he was just a screw up - it was because we had been dealing with this all wrong. 

Now comes the real husband is a marriage and family therapist.  Should he not have known this?  But I could be much more difficult to see things in your own life/marriage than to see in others.  I showed him the book, told him about the resources available, and said "let's get help!!"  His reply was:  that's not us, you won't change, no counselor around here is good enough, and research shows that coaching doesn't work for this.

We have money problems, relationship problems, and I am also dealing with betrayal - my husband has had inappropriate relationships with other women, several of which he is unwilling to let go.  I finally asked him to move out because he would not change his behavior (so again, it made me feel like the controller and the bad guy).  I am at a loss at how to proceed.  If I give ideas or suggestions, they are shot down because he is the therapist.  If I even suggest our problems are due to ADHD, he denies it all (he takes adderall, and that's it - no behavior therapy, no counseling, no help).  I am always to blame.

I am looking for any suggestions on how to cope with the reality that my husband is a shrink and yet won't get us help.  Is this typical for an ADHD shrink?  The most we have ever done to work on our relationship is to see a counselor for 2 sessions, after which he dropped out.  Oh, and he did give me a "workbook" to complete so I would be a changed wife.   

I feel like a failure.  Our oldest son (21) also has ADHD; he recognizes his struggles but doesn't take meds because he is a vocal performance major in college and was told meds hurt his vocal chords.  I don't want our son to ever get in a relationship like we have had.  Yet, how can I teach the kids that counseling can help marriages when their own father won't go to counseling?  Where do I go from here?  I know we have both made huge mistakes...




I am so sorry for your pain

In your note you said you asked him to move out.  Did he?  If yes, maybe this time apart will give you both perspective on how you want to proceed.  If he hasn't moved out, I would ask that he do so.  He needs to meet you halfway in restoring the relationship.  You say you have both made huge mistakes.  Who hasn't? - especially living under the stress of ADHD.  It's time to put the past to bed and move on.  However, moving on requires help.  If he is unwilling, move on without him.  I know this is very painful because I am going through it myself. But I know deep in my heart better times are coming.  I could not live on this rollercoaster for another 30 years.  It would compromise my health and my daughters view of men/relationships.  It's not fair to her.  My heart goes out to you.  

it helped just knowing someone cares...

Thanks for the note to me.  This is the FIRST time I have ever posted to a site and it scares me.  I am a private person and do not like to "share".  Thankfully, you took the time to respond so I don't feel so alone.  Yes, He did move out.  But because he has ADHD he only thinks of the now and not now.  And now his life is better because he can do whatever he wants whenever he one to nag him or remind him to pay bills, help with kids, etc.  I am trying to move on and find myself taking 2 steps forward and 2 back, etc.  My emotions are is difficult to focus at work and with the kids.  But you are right...things can only get better not being on a rollercoaster.  Thanks for the support!

I am so sorry for what you're

I am so sorry for what you're facing, I know how painful a separation can be. Time will be your best friend right now. Just try to find the good in each day (i.e. "today when I came home I didn't have to listen to someone telling me how much of a nag I am").

You asked in your previous post with suggestions on how to deal with some realities of your situation. The reality is that you cannot deal with or change him if he won't deal with himself and doesn't want to change. The key is not figuring out how to deal with it, the key is accepting that you CANNOT do anything about it and just let it go. Once you finally get it, REALLY get it, that nothing has worked thus far, nothing will work that comes from YOU, and the ONLY thing that will 'work' for him will have to come 100% from WITHIN himself, then you are 1/2 way to there to healing. Second, find a support group or even a good friend who you can lean on and who will be there for you. We can help, but it is important to have real life things to do and supports in place so that you can lean on those people when you're feeling weak. (I find great comfort and strength in my relationship with God, but I know that doesn't work for everyone). You cannot do this alone. Focus on you. Focus on becoming emotionally healthy and figuring out what made you tolerate and accept this behavior for so long. When I finally 'got it' the key thing for me was to work on myself and really get into the issues of why I 'accepted' infidelity...twice. Of why I accepted being second in his life to (insert SD, drinking, computers, friends, etc here). I had to find out what made ME tick and what made me weak and what made me accept things that were outside of the boundaries I wanted for my marriage. When I get to a healthier place and finally figure out what it was about me that made me react so poorly, accept extremely painful behavior from my husband, and why I let other's opinions of me dictate my own opinion of me, then I want to "FIX ME" and the marriage will be priority only after that. I am doing God's will for my marriage in the meantime, being patient, praying for him, staying faithful and being kind and building him up instead of tearing him down like I have in the past. For now, I think you need to take this time a cherish it as a time to rediscover rediscover LIFE outside of the pits of ADHD hell. (((HUGS)))

Liar-aholic - 12 steps

I was just told by our marriage counselor that it might help to look at the lying problem in our relationship like he's a liar-aholic, and I need to start going through the steps of AA: "I am powerless over the lair," etc. Realizing that I do not have any power over him to make him stop lying, or to tell me the truth, is the biggest step of all. I do not WANT to have power over him. I never wanted it. The hurt from all the chronic lying turned me into a bruised, battered, questioning, untrusting wife and I DON'T LIKE IT. I am going to repeat this mantra every day to myself - "I am powerless over the liar." Today was the first day I felt like marriage counseling actually helped.

This is a problem for me

This is a problem for me too...and it is VERY hard to have respect for someone who looks you in the eye and just lies...about stupid stuff...and important stuff. Without respect, it's difficult to have a relationship that is husband-wife. Looking at it as an ADHD thing and an 'addiction' (liar-aholic) might help, but it doesn't stop the lying. I assume your DH is in counseling with you? I think my biggest fear is that it is a habit that he just simply will never be able to break. I literally cannot believe anything he says or take him at face value at all.

I am with you, I know I cannot control it, and don't WANT to control is not MY issue to 'fix'. I am not bruised and battered from it, it has just destroyed my trust and respect for him. The 12 Steps of Al-anon can really apply to just about everything ADHD related, and a huge part of the CoDependent No More book. Accepting you cannot change them...period...that you are completely powerless over the ADHD is the very first step in 'detaching' and 'recovery' of our own sanity. When you finally GET IT that you cannot change it, and stop trying (It is shocking to realize the ways we try to do this that we aren't even aware of...or willing to admit sometimes), it is very liberating. VERY.

Lying is a problem in my marriage too....

I am the non ADHD spouse.  We have been married 20 years.  We have two teenagers.  It has been a tumultuous twenty years to say the least.  My husband wasn't officially diagnosed with ADHD until two years ago (when he told his mom she wasn't at all surprised. Apparently he was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and she opted not to do anything about it. I know what's done is done but it just fries me when I think about how different things could be had she gotten him the support he needed). I always knew something was off, but didn't know what until I saw an article about a book called Is it You, Me or Adult ADD?  After reading the article I ordered the book.  It was my life in the pages.  I couldn't believe it.  I started reading parts of the book to my husband and he agreed that he probably had ADHD and needed to see a doctor.  He has been on Concerta  for two years now.  It has helped, but we still have some major issues.  Lying is one of the issues.

My husband lies all the time. He lies about little things and big things as well.  It doesn't even matter how trivial.  Sometimes I am not sure if he is even capable of telling the truth. He says I have programmed him to lie because I "can't handle the truth."  He says he lies because he is afraid of my reaction.  What I don't understand is, he will get a far worse reaction from me if I find out he is lying.  And I almost always find out because he can't keep up with the lies.  I have told him over and over again that the worst thing he can do is to lie to me.  He seems to understand what I am saying, and he says he won't do it again (and I believe him), but then several weeks go by and I find out he has lied to me again.  It's such a betrayal.  It's exhausting emotionally.  I can't comprehend why he lies or what he gets out of it.  He is an intelligent person and I don't understand why he doesn't see that if we don't have trust in our relationship, we have nothing.

Sometimes I feel like I am crazy.  I swear I feel like I am in The Twilight Zone more often than not.  So many things he does just don't make sense.  He gets traffic tickets like you wouldn't believe.  And then he hides them.  And then he will go and get the mail every day so I don't see the ticket.  And then he won't take care of the ticket.  Time will pass, and he'll forget he needs to check the mail, and I will find a ticket for $1000 because he didn't pay the original $200 speeding ticket and so much time has lapsed he has unbelievable late fees.  And then I am angry because a $1000 speeding ticket is such a waste.  And then he says, "See I can't tell you the truth, look at how you act."  But if he had just been honest about the ticket in the first place, I would have paid it right away. I may have been annoyed at another ticket, but I wouldn't have felt as angry as I did when I found out he had been hiding the ticket from me for months. Seems reasonable to me but not to him. I feel like he never gives me the opportunity to react well, because he starts off by lying.  I know it's my choice as to how I respond.  Unfortunately, the lying makes me see red and I rarely respond well.

Pre Diagnosis and pre Concerta he had an affair.  He had a secret credit card too.  He had the bill mailed to his place of work, but would forget to pay it.  I got a phone call one day about a credit card I didn't even know existed.  I asked them to send me an itemized list of purchases and they did.  There were flowers, candy, spa treatments and hotel rooms on the card. I confronted him and of course he lied.  Even when I showed him the credit card bill, he denied it all.  Only when I threatened to leave with the kids did he fess up.  It hurt so much to see how solicitous and special he was with the other woman.  Now I know he was hyper focusing on her.  And of course the novelty wore off and everything crashed and burned. It's been five years since the affair and I am still paying that stupid credit card off. Because of course when he spent money on her, he couldn't be moderate.  It feels like a kick in the gut every month when I write the check. Five more payments and it will be paid off.  I can't tell you how relieved I will be.  

We have been to one counselor after another.  Several counselors before he was diagnosed with ADHD.  No one helped us. I don't think enough professionals are really taking Adult ADHD seriously. Not one of the professionals mentioned my husband might have ADHD.  One counselor that we saw for about a year decided that he was Bi Polar and a narcissist.  Of course, my husband didn't like what she had to say, so we found someone else.  The second counselor said I was co-dependent  and wanted to see me and not my husband.  I. e.- I was the problem.  I know now I am co-dependent but back then it stung. So obviously I didn't like her.  Now my husband won't go see anyone.  He thinks going to the doctor and getting on the meds is enough.  Things are infinitely better between us, but he still lies about stupid stuff. I think he drinks too much too. So in the back of my head I am always scared that if he is being dishonest about little things, he must be hiding big things as well.  I am always worried he is having another affair.  The first one just about did me in. 

There are so many times when I have wanted to leave.  When we were younger I stayed for the kids.  One of our children had cancer as a toddler (she is healthy and happy now) and I couldn't bare the idea of putting her through a divorce or the idea of joint custody. I didn't want to be away from my kids for a minute. So I stayed.  And I have put up with more than I thought I ever would.  I am angry.  I feel betrayed.  And I don't trust him.  Honestly, sometimes I can't even believe this is my life.  

Let me say this one last thing though.  I take responsibility for my part in all of this.  I know it isn't all my husband's fault.  I don't want to sound like the victim (although I do feel victimized in some areas of our life together-like the affair).  I have been angry. I am still angry. I've tried to control things out of fear.  I have nagged.  I don't recognize or like the way I have reacted to some of the chaos. I've let myself go.  My husband has a lot of good qualities and I would like it to work. I appreciate all of his wonderful qualities. When things are good, our life really works. Unfortunately, the good stuff doesn't come often enough.

Reading the articles and posts on this blog is tremendously helpful.  I am trying not to react with anger.  I am trying not to control out of fear.  I have taken steps to start taking care of myself.  I ordered Melissa Orlov's book and it came in the mail yesterday.  I started to read it and I like it so far.  I am hopeful.


So many things about your

So many things about your post could have been written about me..maybe not all of the details of your life, but certainly your reactions, reasons for them, fears, etc. Melissa's book is very helpful in that it gives someone without ADHD an idea of what drives someone who has ADHD. It also gives some very valuable and very easy to follow tools to help alleviate some of the issues it brings to the table...for both partners.

You are NOT "THE" problem because you are co-dependent, your co-dependency was born out of the chaos that has been a part of your life for 20 years now. You 'learned' to control what felt so out of control to you as a means to 'survive'. I know. I am a poster child for co-dependency. CoDependent No More by Melodie Beattie...add it to your shopping list. ASAP. It has saved my life. As I said, I had the same fears. My husband cheated too, in the fall of 2009. The week (in Sept) all of my anxiety finally came to a climax and nearly pushed me over the edge of sanity I was 100% convinced he was cheating again and was LOSING MY MIND. I got angry...then I cried uncontrollably for hours. Then I let go and decided that if he is cheating again, God help him, but in the end the truth will come out and we will be done. No need in killing myself worrying about it, so I decided to put my Faith in God that in time, all would be revealed but for now I am where I need to be, I have completely detached from him (not perfectly, but GOOD ENOUGH), and I am working on ME. Being co-dependent DOES cause huge issues when you're dealing with someone who has ADHD because you essentially become someone who is everything that they simply cannot tolerate. (angry, controlling, weak, easily tossed around emotionally, dependent).

I do not understand the lying either. Another thing I dealt with for years was feeling like, because of his dishonesty, that I lived waiting for the other shoe to drop 24/7. There was no peace...just calm before the next storm. Always. He never 'disappointed', there was always another lie or 'omission' of telling the truth just around the corner. I didn't trust him when he left the house...and I can remember in my bathroom crying out to God to please help me just not feel the fear and anxiety I was feeling when he would make up some lame excuse to 'run to town' that we both knew was a lie. If he's lying, then he has to be going to do something he should not be doing...or at least that is how I saw it. It was horrible. If I told him, it either went one of two ways...he got defensive and just stayed home...or he got defensive and left saying things like "f**k you, see how you like this" and left anyway.

Friday he came home from work around 4. He immediately goes into a long story about how his boss is going out of town and he has to go back to the office to work until about 7. No explanation of why he even bothered to drive all the way home just to tell me that. He, however, comes out of the den with his guitar...saying he was taking it to work with him. Let's think this through...A) he says he has to get some stuff done before his boss leaves town which means he will be working..supposedly..which means playing the guitar will not be possible B) he drives all the way to the house to get his guitar simply to carry it back to work and set it in his office while he works? C) he misses on average 1-3 days a week or work lately claiming to be working from the house because he gets more done here...but he drives all the way home to tell me he HAS to go back into the office to work..guitar in tow? NO. I guess it is irrelevant, but I just cannot help but he hoping I am THAT dumb or does he truly just not care? That is when I told him I wasn't burying my head in the sand, I saw what he was doing, and if he chose to be dishonest with me then things were probably not going to turn out very well for our marriage. I have no idea what he was planning on doing, but I think what bothers me the most is that he does NOTHING and I mean absolutely NOTHING with me anymore. We spend ZERO time together...unless he is wanting sex and once he gets sex, he is back to the den before I even catch my breath. Yet, he strolls in on a Friday afternoon with some big lie about having to work late and grabs his guitar on the way out? You get my point. He was going to spend time with someone...just not me.

You aren't alone. We say it here all of the time, and it is true. I am glad you found the site and I truly hope it helps you realize that you are NOT crazy and that you can make changes within yourself immediately that will help tremendously. Since my DH refuses to work on his ADHD, or admit that it is a problem, I chose to take control of the one person I can control...myself. He isn't doing so well, but his chaos isn't dragging me around like a ragdoll anymore, so I can keep my distance and just continue to pray that he'll get tired of the status quo and want a better, healthy life for himself and his family.



Thank you

Thank you for your kind words.  I will definitely go out and buy the book you recommended about co-dependency.  I'll take any suggestions that might help!

I can relate to everything you said in your post.  It's surreal to read so many of the posts on here.  I can't get over how many of the posts I could have written myself.  The defensiveness, the behaviors, even the language my husband uses is eerily similar to other spouses with ADHD.  You said when you question your husband he will either gets defensive and stay home or he says "F**k you, see how you like this" and leaves.  That is EXACTLY how my husband reacts too, and that is exactly what he says to me.  He says if I don't trust him he might as well just go and do something untrustworthy.  It's mind boggling.  Makes no sense to me.  I would think he would reassure me, but that is rarely the case.  Instead, he acts like a child throwing a tantrum and I can be assured there will be payback for daring to question him.  

My husband had a conference to go to for work recently.  Conferences are a big trigger for me because it was at a conference where he met that woman and started an affair.  When he was in the midst of the affair, he would say he didn't know what hotel he was staying at (yeah right) so I could just call him on his cell.  Then he would turn his cell off and I would just panic.  What if I had an emergency and couldn't get a hold of him?  I would say that to him and he would say, "But you didn't have an emergency and what am I supposed to do if you have one anyway?  I am too far away to do anything."  Now, if he has to go to a conference, I make sure I have the hotel he is staying at, the room number and he has to be available on the phone.  Otherwise I just feel sick.  So far he has been upfront and available when he leaves (at least as far as I know- there is always a little niggling doubt).  He thinks I am a control freak when I ask him for the info.  Seems reasonable to me though.

You talked about your husband coming home with the excuse he was going back to work and then getting his guitar.  Oh my goodness.  It is so frustrating.  My kids and I went and surprised my husband one evening after work.  We thought we could go out to dinner.  As we were walking up, he was walking out and he was on a cell phone.  At the time, as far as I knew, he didn't own a cell phone.  He was talking animatedly and smiling and then he saw us and he froze.  He shoved the phone in his pocket and turned to run back in the building. He actually tried to lock us out. I followed him and asked when he got a cell phone and he denied having one.  He went into his office and we followed him and I said, "I saw you talking on a cell phone" and he looked me right in the eyes and said I was crazy.  Then my kids told him, "we saw you talking on a cell phone Daddy" and he still denied it.  I was so mad I reached over to pat down his pockets and he dodged me.  He ran out of his office and into the men's bathroom.  I am pretty sure he actually threw the phone in the trash because he came out of the bathroom and said, "ok, go ahead, search me."  He turned his pockets inside out and there was nothing in them.  Then he said, "See.  No cell phone.  You all imagined it."  I was beside myself. It was beyond ridiculous.  Incomprehensible. What did he think, I was stupid? Our kids were stupid? And how could he do that to our kids- invalidate what they know they saw?  Eventually he admitted that his boss insisted he get a phone and they were paying for it (which I find hard to believe), but he wouldn't give me the number to it because then I would "call him too much" and embarrass him.  So many of his behaviors are completely bizarre.  I just don't get it. 

I have read about many of the non ADHD spouses contemplating leaving but I haven't read about the ADHD spouses wanting to go. I honestly wonder why the ADHD spouses don't hightail it on out.  My husband says he has no intention of leaving.  He creates all sorts of chaos, and I play into all of it, causing huge stresses on everyone, and still he will say he is happy and he has no intention of splitting up, that he loves me and all is well.  But then he lies or does something outrageous and I can't believe he is really happy or even wants a family.  Who does this kind of stuff to the people they love?  Honestly....

Logically I know I am not crazy. I know if we split up the next woman in his life would have to deal with exactly what I have had to deal with.   Logically I know I am powerless when it comes to controlling his behavior.  Logically I know if he is cheating again, he isn't the kind of person I want in my life anyway. There are times when he walks out the door and I just figure if he does something awful I will find out and for me, there is no second change as far as infidelity.  But more often than not, my emotions get in the way and I feel sad and stressed and have no idea what in the heck to do to have peace in our home.

I rambled.  Feels so good to vent to someone who understands!!

Hugs to you too Sherrie!



So often I feel like just

So often I feel like just sitting down and crying for everyone here...those like you and I and those who have ADHD and are about to lose everything and are trying to do better, but for whom it may be too little too late. Honestly, what a horrible disorder for anyone to have or deal with. But...that solves nothing and is a waste of, moving on...

My husband knows I do not trust him. Sometimes he seems to care, sometimes not so much so. I should explain. After his affair he begged me to forgive him and seemed sick with regret. He went out of his way and jumped through flaming hoops to help rebuild my trust in him. From Dec 09 until Oct 10. He started ADHD meds in Oct 10 and became hostile and agitated. He didn't care so much then. It was as if my insecurity all of the sudden was my problem...100%. He stopped the meds in Feb of 11 because I was ready to leave him because of his hostile nature and anger. He unraveled and completely withdrew from the marriage. The next few months he spent in the den, self-medicating and rotting...he even stopped going to church. By June he was 'coming around' and once he did, and seemed to want to ignore what had just happened, I lost it. I shut down and became extremely angry and bitter. We started fighting more and more and each time was a little worse than the time before. Sept 11, after a week of anxiety that left me in a complete state of panic 24/7, I hit bottom. (see in the "Other" forum a post titled "for Sherri" was the final shove I needed). I was DONE. DONE being a victim of HIS chaos. DONE being a victim of his poor impulse control. DONE being a victim period. I could not live one more day in that dark, ugly place. I was lonely, I hated what I had become, I had let the devil take over my mind, and I was either going to wither up and die or I was going to come out fighting. I chose to fight...for ME. I got into counseling by MYSELF...and I told her "I want to know why I am so weak and what I can do to regain my life. I don't want to talk about my husband's ADHD. I don't want to know how I can learn to live with him. I want to know how I can reclaim my life and I want to learn to be strong enough to walk away if things don't change because I am not living this life for the rest of my life" and I MEAN IT.

What I now know...

It is NOT the end of the world if he cheats again...just the end of our marriage. I won't be happy about it, I pray he does not do that to me again...the pain is unimaginable and devastating. However, I fully accept that there is NOTHING I can do to keep him from doing what he wants to do and it is completely out of my control. The more I tried to micro-manage him just to keep him from cheating, the more miserable we both were. I have complete faith in God that if he does cheat again, I will find out and I will be OK. I do not want to have to make the decision to divorce him, but I know that it would be easier than a life time of affairs and betrayal. I believe that if he does not treat his ADHD that he will cheat again...and triggers for him unraveling are usually life stresses that are beyond my control (loss of his mother, loss of his job, added responsiblity, etc) and they will ALWAYS exist. Even though I don't trust him very much, I do not worry when he isn't home about what he is doing and I do not stress over his 'trips to town' anymore because there is nothing I can do to stop it and I don't have the energy to even try anymore. Furthermore, if he is stupid enough to cheat again, then he is going to have to live with the consequences as much, if not moreso than I.

I am completely powerless over his ADHD. He chooses to deny that it is a problem so how in the hell can I change that? There is nothing to work with or towards when they won't even admit it is an issue. His treatment is in his hands 100%. He did go back on meds a few months ago, but stopped taking them after I detached...for reasons he has yet to feel are important enough to share with me. He even lied about why he stopped...saying his dosage was increased, and they made him feel bad, when evidence showed he didn't even get his meds filled after his last visit. He would go to counseling with me, if I asked, but I do not ask because right now I am not strong enough to deal with it. When I get to where I want to be, I will give him a chance to address the issues his ADHD brings to the table. Whether he chooses to do so will probably dictate the direction our marriage takes. Just taking the responsibility for his mental health off of my shoulders has made a huge difference in my stress level.

I am OK without him. My life will not end if I have to make the tough decision to move on. I love him like crazy. I struggle to maintain respect for him. I do not trust him. It is all I have to work with. I am here trying to give 100%. We aren't fighting, I am letting him walk his own path as I walk mine and rediscover who I am and work on constructing my boundaries and figuring out what I want and need. I have no plans of leaving in any certain time frame. Most days I have Faith that God will restore his heart and get him back on track and move him to want a better life. Most...not all. Peace is restored in our home since I let go...and we haven't fought in 2 months. HUGE miracle there. I address what I feel simply cannot go unmentioned, and let the rest go, for now. He is a kind, loving man who I feel truly does try...but his ADHD has control of him 90% of the time and he simply has nothing to offer anyone at this point. He is either at work on in the den. Nine long months this has been this way.

I am responsible for my own happiness and the quicker I get busy working on figuring out how to go about making my own happiness, the better off we will all be. For all of my life I have thought that my happiness depended on those around me making me happy. I was wrong.

I want to leave you with one last thought...the more you express just how much you do not trust your husband and the more you try to catch him doing something the more you carry the responsibility of him not cheating yourself. Lady, it isn't yours to carry. If you let him know "hey, I'm really depending on you to do the right thing" instead of "I know you're going to do the wrong thing" it puts that burden on him. If you find other ways to occupy your time besides micro-managing him and checking up on him and leave him to manage himself he'll eventually realize that you're not there giving him every 'excuse' in the book to lie and sneak. I haven't said a word to my husband in 2 months about his comings and goings. Yet he continues to lie. He will eventually realize that it is not MY FAULT nor anything I have 'forced' him to do when I am sitting here minding my own business and tending to myself and he is still doing it. After he left, guitar in tow, I texted him and told him that about not hiding my head in the sand, I saw what was going on, and basically that I knew he was being dishonest, but it was up to him to care enough to stop...otherwise, we might not make it. He not only didn't deny being dishonest, he didn't mention it at all. Put the responsibility for your husband's fidelity on him. It already is on him, but you're trying to carry it for him too. You are like I was, you think if only you do this or that then he'll surely not cheat again. Surely you can prevent it if you have his hotel room, constant access to him, etc. It's a lie we tell ourselves to have some kind of peace of mind about it. You're no more in control of him not cheating when he's sitting right beside of you than when he's 500 miles away at a conference. Stop trying. Let him be responsible for his own actions. The more he knows you don't trust him, the more likely he is to convince himself he may as well do it again and somehow blame you for it because you're too 'controlling'.


Boy did I need to hear that!  You are so right!!!  Thank you!


When splitting up is not an option

I too have discovered that only I can forge my own happiness, not him. It is very recent (within the last few days) that I have truly understood the meaning of making myself happy. This is my second (and final) marriage. I married the father of my child when I was 23, and it was so bad (physical abuse, emotional abuse, rapes, etc) that I swore that I would never be in a committed relationship ever again. I was just going to raise my son, and do the best that I could for the two of us. Then, I met the 'man of my dreams' and thought long and hard about marrying him when the subject came up. I didn't want my son to go through more turmoil, and to have to live with a stranger, etc. Eventually, it all fell naturally into place, and it all worked beautifully - and I married my husband, who I just recently figured out has severe ADD. So, splitting up is not an option. He has been in my sons life for 5 years now as his step dad, we just got married last year on  10-10-10, just bought a house in April, etc. There are just too many permanent changes for separation to be an option. So, I am mirroring your thoughts when you say "I am letting him walk his own path as I walk mine." I too, have no plans to leave, but at the same time I am mourning the loss of our relationship. I am also mourning the fact that our relationship, even in the best of times, for the rest of our lives, is going to be extremely complicated, and a LOT of work. Do I love him enough to see this through? I hope so.

I have been looking into this

I have been looking into this for so long now, it's getting old. I have tried looking at the lying in so many ways - Do I just ignore it, and hope to be happy? Do I try to verify every little thing so that I can catch him in truths and start building up trust again? Do I simply take everything he says at face value, and live like everything he says is the truth (which is what he claims he's been trying to do) ?

Everyone I talk to about this does not have an answer, but the theme is the same = how can you have a relationship when there is no trust? I've asked him why he lies to me. His answer is that he's "afraid of my reactions." So, to me, that sounds like it's my fault that he's lying! Just like everything else in our relationship, he turns it around.

I, too, literally cannot believe anything he says. And, I'm realizing that I simply cannot live this way. It's making me way too sick, emotionally. I found myself telling my therapist today that "well, the house we just bought, and the assets, can all be dissolved..........." This is my first glimpse/feeling that this may not work out, and I think I'm in shock.

Melissa, This makes sense,

Melissa, This makes sense, but what if the adhd spouse is the controlling one? He can't back off and allow me to think for myself or make my own decisions... We had another "push back" (he is out of town and my son told him (NOT ME!) we dropped the car off- i want to get an estimate). I decided to take my car in to see how much it would cost to fix it. (burning oil and oil pan needs to be replaced), he knows nothing about cars except when to schedule maintenance and "trusts" they won't take him for a 6-700 ride! (old and current nightmare) Then tells me the opposite of what I say and now plays the poor me, your mean, and insulting card when I point out the obvious.... This obvious is 15 years in the making. The utmost frustration for being stuck in this "ground hog day" example. Sick, sick, sick, of the exact same response from him. "you never listen to what I have to say" when I didn't ask for his opinion in the first place, and when I really don't need to listen to his crazy car talk. For example, I had a nissan altima with a manual transmission (stick) years ago, he drove it sometimes when we went places. Then out of the clear blue sky, he started treating his car with an Automatic Transmission like a stick! While driving HIS car, he took his foot off the gas when he felt his transmission start to shift into the next gear! Then argued with me that, that was the way he had driven HIS for years! And, that, that it is the correct way to drive an automatic transmission! My heart gets racing just re-visiting it.... It is absolutely bat crazy! Times this type of behavior by 5000, and you get to where I am today. He makes up stuff and then sticks to it. Instead of saying," well, maybe I really don't know "all" about everything...." or, "let me know how it all turns out, if you need help, I'd be ahppy to help." How do you stop this? How do you anticiapte or PREVENT this? - how do you stop the mind from making up and defending ridiculous statements? How in the world would he not feel stupid when he finally see's he made a mistake? I have LOST all trust in his words and I have lost faith in him. But, I'm the crazy and irrational one.... Because everyone else would kiss his feet and worship every word he makes up - oops - says. i wish it was lack of work, or lack of drive, or lack of chores - it's none of those things for us. He feels he needs to be in the middle of everything....everything! He feels he has to chime in about everything to the point his voice is all that anyone hears! It's smothering and demeaning and embarassing when the eye rolling begins... Why on earth would someone say something about stuff they know absolutely NOTHING about - and then argue to the death about it!? I have ASKED that question over and over and over... No idea why, he says.

I need to add that I WANT to

I need to add that I WANT to look up to him. i have blown off so much, i have bit my tongue, i have taken a submisive approach thinking if I don't point out crazy comments and try to build his self esteem, maybe he wouldn't feel the need to make up stories. I have been in counseling for years and years and years trying to figure out ways to deal with my responses. We have been to couples counseling. I want desperately to love and admire and respect my spouse but when this stuff keeps happening it all goes away.... I just don't understand.. He is adHd - WAY hyper and VERY Impulsive.

Quite different from me...

I am very Bull-Headed, for sure, when it comes to stuff I know about, but if it is a topic that I might not know enough about there is No Way I'm going to talk like I am knowledgeable on the topic. My worst fear is looking stupid in front of people. On another topic of yours, I have had many manual transmission cars (My Preference), but my DW cannot drive one, so my last few cars have been automatics with a Manual Mode (Tap Shift). So I can drive the car and control the shifts or be lazy and put it in "D" :) I cannot remember if you said your DH is taking meds for his ADD??? My Adderall has sure helped my impulsiveness and improved my confidence in What I Say, because I can pause and decide if I should chime in on a topic and how much to project about my level of knowledge on a topic. Hang in there PJ! You are doing great!


Hey Y, he has been on meds

Hey Y, he has been on meds for an eternity, he is changing them up now because our insurance sux! But, i wish he wouldn't speak if he wasn't sure. Yesterday, he said, again, the word diuretic for the meaning of laxative... He defended again with "it was what I was taught".... However after, looking it up, because he was tired of my eye rolling attitude, he found out I was right.... Hmmm. Threw him for a loop...! His old car was a 1990 (ish) ford taurus - huge boat of a car- automatic, automatic, automatic!! Sounds funny when I think about it when I see it written down, but at the time i really felt I was on some other planet - meeting this person from mars! going to be away this weekend for soccer tournament for son - hopefully there will be wireless so I can keep up with all the great updates. Peace.

All insurance $ux...

At least he admitted the mistake after looking it up ;) Hopefully you get the wireless connection going. Good luck with the soccoer tournament!



summerwine's picture

You really looked up the word

You really looked up the word to prove he was wrong? WHY? My ex husband used to do that and then he would gloat and make me say "I was wrong" it was humiliating. Geez sorry I have ADHD and get my words mixed up sometimes. Punish me for it now and make me feel 2 inches tall. Our marriage counselor called it Power Plays I called it abusive.

Summerwine, hardly abusive, mostly frustrating...

No, I didn't make him look up the word, And I didn't look it up to prove him wrong. He looked it up because he wanted to prove me wrong! I knew the definition, and he didn't, and the fact that he will argue over stuff he doesn't know is the problem. He "guesses" when he isn't sure. This was 1 example of the many, many frustrating things he says and fights about. If you must know, we were arguing over our son having a stomach ache and he said our son eating strawberries or a banana would cause him to to have more stomach problems because the fruit and banana are "diuretics....." Strawberries and bananas are NOT foods that will cause you lose water weight. He was saying that the foods would make him go #2 - again- not the definition of diuretic- he was using the word "diuretic" thinking the fruit would cause a "laxative" effect. Abusive on my part? No. Frustrating, yes. Plus this has been a term he chooses to use over and over and over again incorrectly for the past 15 years. It's annoying. For years I have said he is mixing up the words and he could care less. This is one thing that is frustrating because it shows that he doesn't respect the fact I may know something... I don't argue over stuff to be right, but I am not comfortable listening to him use terms incorrectly when they mean very different things. Sounds petty, sure, but My DH is someone who will say stuff regardless if it is right or wrong. If it's me talking to him then he will talk over me because "I don't listen to him." I'm supposed to valued as a partner, but how can I feel valued when he doesn't care to hear me or think it's possible I may know something. Feeling like my words mean nothing or that I am basically invisible is no fun either.
summerwine's picture

I understand feeling like

I understand feeling like your words mean nothing. I had that with my ex husband. He was older than me and better educated and well I have ADHD so I get my words mixed up. Words just get stuck with certain meanings in my brain and I say them even if I kind of know its not the right word. I don't really "get" a lot of words, I just have the "gist" of them. I don't know if that makes sense but that's what my ADHD does I don't REALLY learn stuff fully I just get the gist of it. So my ex used to talk over me and dismiss everything I said because everything I said was obviously wrong. It was painful and humiliating. I HATE being corrected even when I know I'm wrong because its embarrassing and because people act like I'm stupid or deliberately being obtuse. I'm not I am just confused! I don't like admitting when I got a word wrong because it takes my power away, its like admitting that I am a moron. Plus people gloat and rub it in. I'm sorry that I am so stupid. Urgh!

So I am brand new

I am at a crossroads...after 10 years of marriage and a few kids my husband wants a divorce because of my panic attacks. I recently went in for a physical and to reup my medication. I just started talking and told my doctor about my son's recent ADHD diagnosis. My husband was completely against this diagnosis and think meds are a crutch. My doctor asked me if I wanted to try an adhd med and I said ok. It has been 48 hours and the constant ideas floating around in my head have calmed WAY down. Is this how this works???? I didn't sleep well last night will this go away.

I was raised in a military family my house is clean, my calendar is color coded, I have a "To do" log for everyday, I set my alarms on my cell for different reminders through out the day and I never go shopping without a list. So where this problem reared its ugly head was with my husband who is constantly telling me I am "not Normal" and have a "skewed perception on life" was in our communication. He always said I never listened when he talked, I constantly interrupt, I shut down when he asks for explicit details as to why I feel a certain way and that I over exaggerate every time I talk. He is angry that I don't keep up on the chores. That means dusting two to three times per week. He gets angry because I am to nice to people. He gets angry because I talk to fast and laugh to loud when I am at social gatherings with people I don't know. Then gets mad because I stay to quiet the next time. He is angry I allowed myself to gain weight and won't stick to a work out plan. I was very active before kids. He fully admits he is OCD to a fault. 

I am almost 40 and it never occurred to me I was ADHD and now reading this blog and other materials online I am relieved but frustrated not to have found out sooner. Should I be hopeful that this medicine will keep me in this calm state?? Do I have to stay on this med the rest of my life?? What if he sees a drastic improvement and then gets mad because I am on the meds?? Was I truly not normal??     

I want to save our marriage

Today while looking for ways to work on my controlling behavior I came across this article on the web. It was like I had written the article myself about my marriage. I have been with my husband since I was 21 years old and he was 27(we are 6 years apart), but sometimes you would think we are the same age or I might even trump him in age. We have been together for 7 years, married just over 2. February of 2011 struck an edge with me that we needed to go to counseling. In a heated manner, I stated “if you think I’m the problem in this relationship and I’m the one causing all the issues, then please find a counselor that will side with you and can tell me how bad of a person I am.” For months I asked if he called a counselor, after every fight, I’d remind him he should call a counselor, but it never happened. In November 2011 he was ready to leave me, was asking for a separation because he just wasn’t happy anymore and really didn’t even want to come home anymore. At that time I finally found us a counselor.
By January 2012, I had been told by 2 best friends and the counselor that I am mean, I mother my husband and I have a sharp tongue. All in relation to why my husband shuts down when I talk and I barely get a response from him anymore, let alone love or respect from him. This was my slap in the face! Since then, I’ve been on board with trying to find ways to make myself a better wife and to stop my controlling behavior, not be a nag, etc.
3 weeks ago the walls came crumbling down though. I “caught” my husband in his lie and found out that he has been having an affair for 6 months with a girl that lives several states away from us and only sees her when he is gone on a business trip there(4 times), but had developed an emotional relationship through phone calls, text messages, Facebook and Twitter (daily)for all these months. He has refused to stop speaking to the other girl(She is 23 – 11 years younger than him) and continues to tell me that he has really strong feelings for this girl and doesn’t know if he can stop talking to her. At the same time he also can’t say that he wants to be out of this marriage with me, but doesn’t really believe I am capable of change(not yet owning any personal responsibility, just focused on me making changes to make him happy)
Many emotions later, I’ve realized that I love him unconditionally and I am willing to work on our marriage no matter what. The challenge I face at this time is that my husband isn’t sure that he wants to work on our marriage. He has said that he is sorry for all that he has caused, but he has yet to be remorseful for what he has done, nor does he regret what he has done. He continues to stand by the story that he didn’t go looking for this and that an unhappy relationship drove him to not deny this to happen. I am strong enough to know that I didn’t cause this, so I am not beating myself up over that, but I do feel responsibility in what I have done to my husband and our relationship. I know that I have continued to beat him down and make him feel as if he can’t do anything right. I nag every time he doesn’t get something done that he says he will, I criticize if it isn’t done the way that I would have done it, I check in while he’s working on projects and throw out unsolicited opinions (honestly wishing he would ask for my help). What I’m saying is I get ME. I know what I have done, but he has yet to get HIM.
So many of the descriptions that you have provided fit what we are going through. I know that I can’t change him and he has to be willing to recognize the impact of his actions/lack of actions on this relationship. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD when he was a child and was medicated for the years leading up to college. Since then he hasn’t seen a doctor or been on any medication. In our first counseling session our counselor brought it up and said that we could address it later if he wanted to, but we haven’t revisited it since. Today I sent this article to my husband to request that he read it. I am hoping he has a break through, but I’m concerned this is all a little too late. What I know and he has yet to realize is that the place we are in is a vicious cycle that will repeat for both of us in any relationship we seek beyond this. Until we help ourselves we will continue to hurt the ones in the relationship with us.
Is there any advice that you can give me to help my husband find self awareness of what ADHD could be doing to our relationship? (maybe this is me controlling again?) Maybe something to help him see that it isn’t all my fault and that our marriage is worth saving? My husband has asked for time to figure things out as he decides whether to work on our marriage or leave me and pursue the relationship with this other girl. We are not living under the same roof(him with his parents and me in our house) and I put a stake in the ground after 2 weeks of no decision to cut off ties from the other girl that we needed to stop speaking because each day would lead to another discussion of me pushing him to make a decision(which proves I haven’t stopped nagging). I believe step 1 to saving our marriage is cutting all ties with this other girl and if he is not willing to do that, then he is not committed to making our marriage work. Step 2 is saying I realize I have a fault in this as well and I’m willing to work on it with you. I just wish I could get him help to get to step 1.

Response about affair

You are in a similar situation to the one I was in some years back and I feel for you - it hurts a lot.  Here are some ideas off the top of my head:

While your husband made the ultimate decision to escape into an affair, you played a role in why he chose to do so.  I think I heard you say something like that, but I want to reinforce it - he could have chosen continuing to engage with you in counseling rather than have an affair, for example, but it does seem as if he was trying to do that and that the two of you hadn't gotten far enough.  His decision to have an affair wasn't a great one, but it was an understandable one.  Be careful about saying "I know I didn't cause this" because the reality is that you will be better served by the idea that you did, in fact, play a critical role in his decision.  Once you accept that, it's easier to move to the next step, which is REALLY changing yourself.  What that means:

  • NO more nagging.  Period.  Go cold turkey.  It gets you nothing and hurts you a log.
  • NO more being your husband's keeper.  Either he's going to get his act together in a way that you find attractive (as his girlfriend does) or he's not going to.  Either way, you have little to do with it.
  • Figure out who you want to be, and BE THAT PERSON.  I talk about how I went through this process after finding out about my husband's affair in my book (chapter on setting boundaries).  You can't control whether or not your marriage hangs together right now since your husband is half of the equation, but you CAN control who you are and how you choose to behave.  Expressing hurt and anger in unconstructive ways are choices, as is nagging, mothering etc.  You will find the greatest satisfaction and self-respect being a person you really like.  That will infuse your entire being with a personality that is uniquely you, rather than the person who has "become" someone else (less likeable - even to you).  It is you being YOU that will hold your marriage together if it's going to survive this.  (This is a hard concept to wrap your mind around, I know.)
  • Understand, you don't fix marriages.  You fix relationships.  So start thinking about what kind of relationship you would like to have, and start acting in a way that encourages that particular type of relationship.  I'm betting your ideal relationship doesn't include an imbalance of power (time to start sharing again!); doesn't include anger or hurt (make it your job to figure out what you need to heal your hurt and anger); does include fun times (schedule some); does include respect (if you are respecting your spouse's right to hold his opinions and he will be more likely to respect yours...)

Here's the common mistake - thinking that we can "shape" our husbands or our marriages to be a certain way.  This is just false.  The ONLY thing we can shape consistently is ourself.  After that, there's another person with free will and his own opinions involved.  By definition, two people shape that - you're never genuinely in charge or control.

Controlling behavior

My husband of 20 yrs was dx with ADHD 1 year ago.  His dx has explained a lot  but making changes is very hard.  We've both been doing a lot of reading.  But I find the actual sitting down and making plans for changes is met with later, later. I feel when I express an opinion, if it differs from his I'm met with anger. And told I'm controlling, crazy, too anxious etc.  my children ages 15 and 18 have grown up actually thinking I was crazy and that making a plan was a crazy and bad thing, since every time I would suggest making a plan that was met with anger and I was told I was too anxious and my desire for a plan was a result of "my issues". The kids were told Mom has issues, by my husband.  So we lived with no plans, random, haphazard ways of going through the days.  And I went to therapy.  Trying to figure out my issues. Turns out I'm  not crazy. I have been living in a pretty crazy household.  My ADHD husband does see that now. And is very remorseful regarding the pain he sees he has caused me and our children.  But... We still struggle with our firmly entrenched patterns.  We make a plan. That flies out the window. When I say hey wait a minute, we said we were going to....  I'm met with anger and told I'm nagging and overly controlling.  How do I approach my ADHD husband about making plans or sticking to,plans without being seen as nagging and controlling. Right now I feel my only option is give in and go along. 

What are you non-ADHD spouses worried is going to happen?

I'm the ADHD partner and my husband's controlling, criticizing behavior has made me desperate to move out. 

Nothing is easy, light or fun. Every single day, he's upset with me over many things.  I feel like I make his life miserable, and I'm sorry about that, and I know I'm miserable.  Worst part is, I get so I'm walking on eggshells and I screw up even more (broke two glasses in the kitchen the other night, the second one because I was so nervous about the first), and then...  well, everything's fighting, and working out "issues" has become our entire marriage, and I can't emphasize how unhappy I am.

What do non-ADHD partners fear is going to happen if they don't control, criticize and micro manage everything?  Do they fear our joined lives will fall apart?  Were we such a mess when you married us?   If so, why did you?

I was a fine, functioning adult before I was married.  Always supported myself, maybe messy, maybe making mistakes and forgetting things, but I don't see why now that I'm married I'm suddenly the child being scolded and lectured to by my disapproving husband/parent. 

With all the lists, medication, calendars, charts and large dryerase boards staring me straight in the face every day, I still will never be what I am not.  Now that I'm married 2 years, we've made a life where it's not easy for me to leave, which is my biggest regret because I've never been so depressed...  I love him but I just want to rip off the band-aide so I can start feel better again some day.

I have friends (couples) who are either both ADHD or one is and one isn't, and they're way more laid back.  Their lives are so much happier.

I wonder if you non-ADHD partners, driven to nag and scold and parent your spouse, have considered whether you are OCPD and unfortunately paired up with your psychiatric antipode?


I don't micromanage my

I don't know what your husband fears.

I don't micromanage my husband.  I do nag occasionally.  Here are some things, related to ADHD, that I wasn't aware enough to be afraid of before they happened:  husband getting let go because of problems with his boss; husband being unemployed for six years; husband getting fired from next job because he left his vehicle in gear and it rolled away and hit a tree; husband not looking for a job in four years' time.  Here are the things that I fear now (based on things that have actually happened) that cause me to do probably more than I should:  husband filling out income tax forms late and inaccurately; husband not getting health insurance for the family "because if something happens to us, welfare will pay"; husband not doing children's financial aid forms; husband losing his driver's license because of unpaid tickets.  

I don't have time to worry about the small things.


Hmmm... I'm sorry to hear this.

I was diagnosed with severe ADHD over twenty years ago and I know a lot of fellow ADHDers. 

I've got to say "husband not getting health insurance for the family "because if something happens to us, welfare will pay" - ADHD does not mean you have no sense of personal responsibility.  I think a lot of people use diagnoses as an excuse for bad behavior.

Again, if it's this bad, there must have been signs before you married him, no?  If he was "good" before your marriage, then it's probably not ADHD.



I don't think that all people

I don't think that all people with ADHD are like my husband nor do I think that everything in my husband's life is explained by ADHD.  These are, however, things that I have experienced.  I don't know where they come from.  My husband also has suffered from depression and anxiety.  Do they cause these behaviors and beliefs?  I don't know.  

I freely admit that I got married too young and that marrying my husband was probably a bad decision.  But I've tried to make a go of it.  I take my marriage vows seriously.

I relate to this...

I don't have time to write a huge response- but this does sound familiar. Look at some of my other posts for details. Hang in there!

Thank you!

I´m new. 41 years old from Sweden and just ended a 3 year old relationship with a intelligent and different man of 49... not with a diagnose - but with all the symptoms. I have always suspected ADHD and we have spoken a lot about it. I´m the happy, intelligent and witty girl who thinks everything is possible who was swept away with all that focus and energy from him. It´s like reading about my life  here.... It´s given me so much comfort. It´s been very hard to leave him - I´ve tried so many times. I came into his life and I became his everything - and I let him.  From fixing up the house, buying food, organising, choosing colours of his cars, helping out with his children, booking holidays, hiring people at his company, holding his hand through the anxiety attacks, being there in his lonelyness,  loving him endlessly. I could have taken down the moon if it would have helped. We came so close - we were soulmates. But it almost killed me. My life, my children, friends and work was about everything I could have managed and then I took on him aswell. I found myself a third child.  I couldn´t handle all the negativs - because it didn´t matter what I did - I twisted and turned like a crazy it was never good enough.  What I struggled with most was the on and off focus. It took so much energy from me to manage it and I ended up being nagging and grumpy. I found myself disappering. I made him feel like shit and I just couldn´t help it. In the end I even got jealous - which I´ve never been in my whole life. Now I try to find myself again. I love him and my heart is broken. I´ve told him how I feel and he´s just fed up with me leaving him and nagging him. He´s turned off and is depressed. I know all the signs and I feel his energy even if I´m not around him. I´m mending and hoping that we can manage to be friends one day. At the moment it just makes my feelings "all over" everytime we see eachother. It´s been really hard.

Only slightly off topic

I have ADHD and have a fairly good friend who also has ADHD, he is in his 30s and his wife has MS. 

He desperately wants children. But, he has many issues similar to mine, such as exhaustion, periods of needing to say 'talk to the hand' to the rest of the world including his wife at times, times of anger, and inablity to get things done unless hyperfocused.

His wife with MS has extreme tiredness and has dizziness. She may have agreed to try for a baby due to how much he wants one. She has mentioned a belief that HE is going to be the main carer of the child. 

It won't happen without in vitro fertilisation as her fallopian tubes are filled with scar tissue or some such. He/they are intending to pursue that. I'm REALLY worried for them and any resulting baby, though I don't want to squash his/their dreams. I have children and a husband and it's been incredibly hard for our family... And we have one relatively capable, non disabled person in the house. they, lovely people though they are, don't have that.

Lastly, my friend with ADHD had a bad episode last year where he had thoughts of suicide, and banned his wife from contacting anyone, I know because she contacted me. She asked me not to ever tell him she'd emailed me during that episode as she was scared. This is worrying considering they are thinking of trying IVF.

I am scared too. I would find it very hard to say something. Not just as I don't want to crush my friend's dream of having a child, but also, I might lose both of them... And he might get angry with her... And my husband is his BEST friend, but is kind of blind to most of the issues thinking they'll muddle through, and blithely promised that we'd help. (We have enough trouble as it is with my ADHD and my son's autism! I don't really want us having this on our plate too! but my hubby wants to help them cause he thinks it is the right thing to do....)

Gah. I should just talk to my friend and his wife. But if anyone has any advice I'd be happy to hear it, cause this is stressful and sensitive stuff and kinda scary!

The situation you describe IS

The situation you describe IS scary.  Perhaps you could start by talking to your friend about how stressful it is to be a parent.  Maybe ask him if you can vent, as in telling him stuff so that you can feel better about your own situation, not to warn him off parenthood.  If he has any ability to self-reflect, this might be enough to get him thinking about the wisdom of pursuing having a child.  If you feel comfortable talking to the wife, perhaps share similar tales from the trenches with her.  Good luck.  You sound like a kind and dear friend.

thank you

Thank you very much for your comment and thoughts Rosered. that advice sounds good... I've tried something a little similar to your first suggestion a week back. It didn't quite take, I was very careful to make it about my problems as an ADHD parent (and maybe I didn't say all I could have.) Going to take your second suggestion and see what happens.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.