ADHD and Marriage: "I'm NOT Rejecting You, Really!"

I ask couples to clarify their personal boundaries so that they are more likely to work as partners.  When you first start this process, though, it can feel as if you are getting “rejected,” particularly if those boundaries have to do with intimacy issues.  Let me help you understand why setting boundaries is an affirmation of your relationship, not rejection.

If you’re not sure what boundaries are, take a look at my book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage, where it’s explained in far greater detail than I can go into here.  I have an entire chapter on what boundaries are, how you set them, why it’s important to do so.  To illustrate, I use examples from my own journey of improving boundaries in our relationship.

For purposes of this post, though, a simple explanation – boundaries are those guidelines by which YOU YOURSELF live your life in order to be your best you.  Unfortunately, when a marriage is in trouble one of the first things we do is “give in” and accommodate the other partner, whittling away at these important boundaries over and over again until we one day look at ourselves and see a person who is almost unrecognizable.  You’re in this place if you’re thinking “I used to be so strong!  What happened?” or “I used to really like who I was, but now I feel like I’m just cranky or downright mean all the time!” or “I’m not really comfortable having sex with my partner any more, but don’t know how to say this”.  Poor definition of boundaries leads us to feel dissatisfied with ourselves and with those who are impinging on our boundaries – often our spouse (but sometimes an unreasonable boss, unruly child, etc.)

If you are in a parent/child relationship, then for sure the boundaries the two of you have are not well enough defined to create a satisfying, adult, partner-to-partner relationship.

SO, a great approach to fixing this is to clarify your boundaries (again – see my book for details about how).  But since clear boundaries sometimes mean saying “no” this process can be uncomfortable for your partner.  It is particularly uncomfortable for those couples in which one partner starts saying “I’m not ready to have sex with you right now – we need to work things out better, first.”  The other partner (often the husband) understandably takes this personally!

I want to urge you to think about it differently, though.  Your relationship is marred by dissatisfaction, anger, frustration and this impacts your sexual relationship.  Whether or not you’ve talked about this overtly up until this point, if your partner is saying “I need to be in greater control of my body” this indicates that you’ve had a bigger issue than you realize.  In fact, part of the REASON you’re relationship is in trouble is this ‘boundary thing’ where one or both of you has been asked to give up too much.  To fix the relationship, you MUST get to the root issues underneath the nagging, anger and frustration.  That means not only treating ADHD symptoms, treating anger, and building better communication, but also setting boundaries that help you take control of your life again in positive ways.

I see setting boundaries not only as NOT being an act of rejection, but being an act of AFFIRMATION.  ‘I care enough about me, and about us, that I’m going to start making some very uncomfortable decisions in order to help us become equal partners again.’

A spouse who is hearing “no” has some options for responding to the new boundary setting:

  • Decide to remain angry or hurt by the new attention to boundaries.  This will likely create further friction for the two of you, or at a minimum bad feelings that will seep into your lives
  • Ignore your partner and insist that nothing change.  (An invalidation of a partner’s expressed needs which will send you both hurtling in a negative direction – not a good option!)
  • Accept that this is part of the healing process, and ask your partner why he or she felt it was necessary to put up these boundaries…and also ask yourself what boundaries might help you traverse your own life more easily.  (I’m not talking “tit for tat” retaliation here, but genuine reflection about what boundaries might help you as you deal with your partner.)

Note that the final option also allows room for discussion and negotiation – so is the path that is most likely to lead to a workable agreement that satisfies you both even if your negotiated solution isn’t yet ideal.

I hope that rather than just instantaneously feel rejected and hurt when a partner puts up new boundaries (or, more accurately, reclaims old ones), all partners will come to see the process of putting boundaries back in place – in essence reclaiming who each of you is at your core – as a healthy step forward.  Boundaries help one regain control of one’s life in the most essential ways, which clears a path towards progress and healing.


How to set a boundary and have it heard

My partner has ADD and I do not. He can go, go, go, while I often need solitude and quiet. This used to be a source of friction for us. I'd get home from work and need some quiet, personal time. He'd stop by and want to talk. We set up a regular schedule for getting together, but he would stop by on our "off" days anyway. When I reminded him that it was my night for "alone time," he would get angry. I decided that I needed to stand firm with our agreement, but I found that I could affect his reaction by always preceding what I said with three words: "I love you, but ..." as in, "I love you and I really wish I could talk right now, but I'm really tired and I need some alone time. We'll see each other tomorrow night as scheduled and you can tell me all about ____ then." This seemed to reassure him of my feelings and help him not feel rejected.

sullygrl's picture

I love you but...

That's something I will have to try. Boundaries are one of the biggest things my ADD husband and I deal with. As an example, I'm on meds for depression and useless in the late evenings because they make me very tired and I do work full time and have a child. Of course, that's when he seems to be at his peak. Couldn't be more opposite. I try to say, "well, you know I'm useless this time of day, my brain is tired, can we have this talk at a more reasonable hour for me?" but he steamrollers over these boundaries all the time. Then immediately apologizes but the fact is then he gets worked up over the fact that he knows he's steamrolling over me and it's another ten minutes of I'm sorry, but...and explaining why, just this once, he needed an exception (because it was a full moon on an alternate Tuesday with Mars in retrograde. Or he just really really really felt the need to explain how a steam engine works. )

I've read Melissa's book, I know how important it is for me to set these boundaries or I will turn into a resentful little witch with nothing nice to say and possible hurtful insults thrown just because I am tired and cranky. After a few months of trying to set these types of boundaries he is still not getting it though.

When he acts like a steamroller

This all sounds very familiar! Folks with ADD have a lot of persistence. Like you, I'm not a late-night person, but my partner Max is. For me, the key to setting boundaries is to state them, not ask for them, and to be consistent. And, I should add, to state the boundaries and act on them for as long as it takes. So, for example, instead of saying "Can we have this talk at a more reasonable hour?" you might state, "I love you, honeybunch, and I'm interested in what you have to say, but we're going to have to have this talk tomorrow." Now my Max might then say, "Just five minutes! Let me just say this one thing!" But, of course, we both know it wouldn't be five minutes, it would be half an hour. So then I have to give him a kiss and say, "Tomorrow!" If he keeps it up and it's not some horrible thing he has to tell me about, I get more serious and say, "Hey. I'm really tired. I mean it. We'll talk tomorrow." I had to do this many times in many situations. I bet it took a few years for Max to get it. Then one day he said, in a sort of nice way, "I've learned you're like gravity. You never change." I took that as a sign of success. He also now says he really appreciates the fact that I'm direct and honest because he needs things spelled out very clearly. He's backed off, too. When I say I need quiet to rest my brain, he'll ask, "Can I just sit here and read the paper? I won't say a word." It's kind of sweet. I tell this story where Max and I were out for a walk and he was blabbing on and on (and it could easily have been about a steam engine!). I knew I had a couple of snacks in my pocket so I said, "If you promise to be quiet for 15 minutes, I'll give you a piece of chocolate now and another piece after the 15 minutes." He said okay! I realized then that most of the time, he doesn't really HAVE to talk. He just wants to talk. After that, I stopped feeling guilty when I set my boundaries. Good luck and let me know how it goes. Knowing you need to set boundaries means you're halfway there!

sullygrl's picture

Thanks Survivor

Love the name, btw. Your note is both encouraging and discouraging. It's great that your husband finally "gets it" but it took years? An additional issue with trying the "really, too tired tonight, gotta go" is he gets emotionally hurt and looks like I've just kicked a puppy. Though chocolate isn't a bad idea, he has a sweet tooth. But that feels like something I would do with my kid, and when she was much younger,  not something that should be tried on my DH. But if he's acting like a child? Maybe not such a bad idea after all...

BUT you give me hope, and I took a peek at your blog and it's given me some ideas on how to bring things up. Plus I love you have a sense of humor about things. Sounds like Max can laugh too? I think that helps so much when you're stuck in a moment fraught with meaning and emotion and if you can find something to laugh about, you've got a shot.

jumping in to the conversation

Hey, ladies. I hope you don't mind if I jump in. My ADD fiance and I just argued over this steamrolling business last night. We recently learned IMAGO therapy ( and have been trying to use the IMAGO dialog when important conversations or arguments come up. I experience a lot of benefits in IMAGO--mostly that it gets my fiance to slow down so I can really listen to and process what he's saying. He doesn't like the IMAGO dialog for this exact reason, because he feels like it puts him into first gear when he should be riding in fourth. It doesn't make sense to me that he would rather plow along in fourth gear, even when I tell him I'm feeling overwhelmed and am not able to keep up. It's like somehow we need to find a way to have a conversation in the more happy medium of second gear, but I just don't know how to get there.

Don't wait until he is right

Don't wait until he is right in the middle of his rambling to tell him...tell him at another time of day when he's not so wound up and might actually be able to focus on what you're saying. "look, I love you...I don't want you to ever feel you cannot talk to me...but you know how your ADHD makes you have certain 'bad' and 'good' times during the day? Nighttime is really bad for me and I simply cannot function enough to engage in a conversation with you. It is overwhelming to me." Is there another time in the evening, say before you are shut down, that would be better and that you could tell him "X time would be better for me..."? I KNOW not to talk to my husband at certain times of the day...and I do not want to grate on his nerves by doing so...just like I don't want him to grate on mine. Bedtime is a horrible time for me too, I understand where you're coming from.

sullygrl's picture

Thanks Sherri

Yes I have tried that...but I know I need to keep trying and it will take time if he is able to restrain himself. I've told him often that I turn into a pumpkin at a certain time, but a lot of times I know he is just trying to tell me something before he forgets it because he has this incredible NEED to get it off his chest. And then he apologizes for doing it. I think I need to be more assertive about it, and walk away if need be....

What we learn as women

I think that as women we are brought up to care, to listen, and to nurture relationships. This is all good, but I think we have to be careful not to make so many sacrifices in the process that we hurt ourselves and those relationships that we are trying to nurture. I was thinking about your reaction to my comment that it took years for me to set limits with Max, and I realized that it also took years for me to recognize and express those limits. During this time, Max and I were in counseling together and I was also seeing a therapist on my own. She and I worked on this limit thing a lot. I would say to myself that even if Max and I broke up, it was still good for me to learn to set limits so I plugged away at it. And together Max and I made progress. It wasn't as if all of a sudden after two years, our life together went from terrible to rosy. It slowly saw improvements. The funny thing about the chocolate incident is that when I mentioned it to the counselor we were seeing together (who has ADD himself and whose wife is an ADD coach), he said to me, "Ah, you're getting creative!" I agree with you that we don't want to treat our spouses like children, but we do want them to change their behavior in some situations. I didn't really plan it, I just was feeling desperate, but the chocolate thing was basic behavior modification. Here is a link to a fun article in the New York Times that I've kept around for inspiration ("What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage," June 25, 2006).

sullygrl's picture

love the article!

positive reinforcement not a new concept. Or as mamma used to say "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar"

And best part, now I may giggle instead of getting frustrated by thinking "I wonder if I can train him to take a peanut out of my hand?" lol

NEED to talk sometimes!

Hi, I'm know I'm late to the party on this, but I just wanted to suggest something.

I'm the ADD wife in our relationship and I just wanted to ask all the people who try to limit the time your ADD spouse talks to you, have you tried getting him to "save" what he wants to tell you some other way? For a time he can share it? I know sometimes I have a NEED to talk because I'm worried I will forget it. Maybe he could make a list on email or a piece of paper and then you can read it when you're ready or he can go over it with you on on times?

I also want to give encouragement to people who have a hard time setting this boundary. Keep at it, it will work. I would encourage you, as soon as your spouse tries to intrude on a pre-agreed quiet time to ask HIM to decide if it's appropriate instead of telling him AGAIN that you need quiet time. Absolutely do not respond to the content of what he's saying.

When he bursts into your space and starts talking, touch him, make eye contanct, or hold up a hand, or interrupt him and say "is this an emergency?" -- "Do you remember our agreement about quiet time for me?" -- "Is this something you could write down or save for later or share in an email?" Hopefully, these questions, asked without anger will get him to turn around and leave you alone. Or if you've talked to him, at a different time, about writing it down, you could simply hand him a notebook and a pen. If he persists, you could say. "Honey, I need quiet time right now. If you can't leave me alone while I'm in the house, I'll have to go somewhere else." And then leave. If he starts yelling or whining or pouting, leave. Easier said that done, I know. But a real consequence will help him internalize it and think through the cause and effect. But there has to be a consequence for violating the agreement, a consequence that is not "you yelling at him," which, based on my experience, he has learned to block out. Maybe something like "you didn't give me my quiet time last night, so tonight, we can't have our sharing time, If you can give me quiet time tonight, then tomorrow we can share."

The other advice I would have is to mark off your quiet time space with a visual cue. A piece of tape across the door. A big sign that says "STOP! is it an emergency?" or "THINK! Do you need to talk about this now?" or something like that. Then, if he bursts in on you, you can get up and point to the visual cue and gesture him to leave without saying a word. I think not speaking is better. He's used to hearing you talk to him (I suspect) so silence might get his attention.


For Sherri...

I have a question for you regarding boundaries AND steam rolling. 


I can recognize where boundaries need to be set, but I stumble in the actual discussion.  No matter how many different angles I've tried with my approach, I end up wondering if it was really worth it in the end.  I know that my DH isn't going to like most of the boundaries I set up, but I feel like he expresses his dislike far beyond what I feel is necessary.  And I think that the times where he doesn't go off on me, it's because he wasn't really listening (he doesn't get mad, he doesn't respect the boundary, and then gets mad and doesn't seem to know what I'm talking about).  But the times where he did listen, he gets so angry about it.... I'm being selfish, I don't care about anything but myself, he works so hard to keep me happy and it's never enough, he keeps giving and giving and giving and never gets anything in return.  Add a lot of cussing and name calling, throw some insecurities around with some "low blows", and bake in the oven at frigid temperatures until demolished (checking in periodically to make sure it's crumbling nicely, add in a few more snide remarks and "low blows" if it's not).  While I'm in the middle of it he seems relentless, and eventually (this could go on for quite a while and problems and issues seem to grow out of it and saturates our existence) it becomes too much for me and it finally crumbles.  I've been working semi part-time for two years with one single goal to save for.  Something that is extremely important to me.  And I have been able to save 0 dollars.  None, two years and not a single dollar in my savings account.  Because I was "selfish" and "inconsiderate of our families needs".  Now, I pay for the gas in my vehicle, co pays for the childrens dentist as well as whatever insurance doesn't pick up, my own medical needs (I have no insurance), food, and any odds and ends me or the kids need.  He's gotten 2 raises in this time and still "needs" for me to cover these things.


I really just don't know what to do.  I don't know if this is just the way he steam rolls and it's unavoidable, or if there's something I'm doing/not doing that makes it worse.  Hell, I don't even know if I need a good Sherri hug or a slap in the face with some truth.  I just know that something doesn't seem right about this...

I recognize and have survived

I recognize and have survived all of the above...and was just sharing with someone the other day how crazy making it is to have someone convince you that you're selfish for having needs and wants. One of my biggest regrets of the past 14 years is how I let others make me feel bad about myself to the point that I accepted things that hurt me. I am not perfect, made a lot of mistakes along the way, but selfish, caring about no one but myself, and asking too much of others was never something I have ever been guilty of. Maybe in the aspect that I expected things of him he wasn't able to give (due to untreated ADHD) but I didn't know at the time, so I fought hard to gain some type of normalcy and when it didn't come, I got frustrated, angry, and bitter. I know different now and now I do different. If you let yourself believe the accusations, even for just a second, then you're subconsciously letting him cross a boundary. Start by realizing that part of the ADHD "survival guide" is to deflect blame and I truly believe they are (at the time) convinced that we are the most selfish people in the world. It is easier to admit that than to admit that they are hurting those they claim to love the most. It is easier than doing the hard work to stop it.

Setting boundaries, I argue, isn't about having a conversation and having them "get it" or communicating it in any certain way, necessarily. For example.

*Boundary: Being treated with respect. Demand it. Don't demand it by engaging in a shouting match or a session of the blame game. Demand it by REFUSING to do these things. Refuse to listen to the accusations and low blows. Remove yourself or ask him to leave. Don't engage. Don't let him engage you. It is a deliberate attack, I have been a receiver of it and a giver of it as well. It only works when the person on the receiving end engages. Each jab, each low blow, is as precisely planned to take you down, deflect blame, and hurt. It has NOTHING to do with the relationship, the issues you have, or anything is simply a defense mechanism and a means to an get your way and make the other person regret ever asking anything of you that you don't want to give. We demand respect by acting in a respectful manner, even in the face of the worst of storms/attacks. 

*Boundary: Refusing to live with infidelity. Sure it is good that they know this is a boundary, but the way you make in a meaningful boundary is by doing just that..refusing to live with it. If they cheat, you leave.

The ultimate goal is just to know what you want and accept nothing less. If you're not doing that, then your boundaries are not being respected. Negotiation and compromise is good, but when you have come to the point where you're just accepting everything thrown at you for the sake of saving the marriage, then you essentially have no boundaries and will be treated accordingly. In the end, enforcing boundaries can mean that you have to be willing to walk away if they aren't respected. I would suggest that you find a counselor who can help you deal with maybe the top 2 or 3 boundaries you feel are being disrespected and go from there. Please will not be able to change your wording, catch them at a 'good time', or come up with something brilliant to add to your plea that will make them 'get it' when there is this much of a breakdown in communication. I've been in your shoes. I felt like he took it as an attack and was immediately defensive. If I sat down to talk, his walls went up and the big guns came out. I didn't have to say anything. Do I think he doesn't know what I want/need/expect from him? No..I KNOW he knows. I have chosen to drop it completely, detach from the chaos, and just work on myself. What he does, in the next few months, with the information he knows to be true about who I am and what I want in a marriage is 100% up to him. Why do you feel you have to keep trying to get him to see what he's doing to hurt you when the truth is he probably already knows? Counseling has its purpose and it can be very useful if both parties are there to resolve issues and improve the marriage, but it can also be an expensive mistake if they aren't. I believe this to be true for my marriage. Maybe your DH will be more open to holding himself accountable than mine is. You're beating your head against a brick wall as it is, and you're putting a bullseye between your eyes for him every time you allow him to pulverize you with his words and deflection. Stop. Relax. Ask yourself what it is you really want. Do your best to maintain your boundaries even in the face of his storms in the meantime.

(((HUGS))) :-)


Are you sure your DH isn't my DH??

Ugh, cause here lately..... I honestly don't know what's going on other than exactly what you said.  Every.  Time.  Without.  Fail.  Even when I come to him with the best of intentions, when I'm trying to do something good for both of us.  I tried to add a schedule to follow while on vacation (DH hyperfocuses on his family to the point it intrudes on my time with my family.).  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  Because before I started my second sentence, he'd already decided I was trying to cut his family out of the vacation all together.  And he was pissed!  Oh, and I know to walk away.  We'd gone to a couple sessions with a marriage counselor (stopped because his insurance only covers like 9 or 10 mental health visits a year and his doc wants to see him every month.  $10 visits turned into $100 visits.) and she explain adrenaline and the importance of walking away long enough to give it time for your body to re-absorb it.  I try this.  I've tried so dang hard.  But apparently, I'm not allowed to walk away and cool off.  He is.  Oh, he can hop in his car and disappear for hours.  If I make it out the door, I start hearing locks engaging and I know I won't be able to get back in until he's OK with it.  I got locked out once without shoes, keys, wallet.... the not so funny thing is, I was just going outside to have a cigarette.  During the discussion about me cutting his family out of the picture, I told him very calmly that I could feel myself getting worked up (he wouldn't stop interrupting me and putting words in my mouth) and it was really important to me that this conversation be productive.  All that did was encourage him to follow me around relentlessly attacking me.  It was our worst argument ever.  It got so out of hand..... he wouldn't let me leave, wouldn't stop attacking me with every gun in his arsenal.  He just kept going and going and going and the situation ended with him spending the weekend in jail.  I've never ever called the cops before, I thought they'd just tell him that he had to let me leave if I wanted to.  Instead they arrested him.  Within hours his family knew about it, and now I'm a horrible person.  They all know he has ADHD, I just don't think they know it goes beyond those "Oh look, something shiny!" moments.


I really hate thinking I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.....


We've decided that our brains just don't connect, period.  All discussions about anything with any sort of relevance have been put on hold until we can discuss them in a safe place, the marriage counselors office.  (I question how "safe" it really is considering we have to leave the office sometime.)  He's also decided that I'm in need of antidepressants.  I wont argue that ADHD has worn me down and I can see I'm not the same person.  But then my big gun goes off in my head.  I haven't said this to him..... but how DARE he!?  After what he's put me through for the last 3-4 years?  While doing the very bare minimum, if even that, to take care of his own self.... and he has the nerve?  I'm not saying I don't at least need to look into it, but how can he sit there an point his finger at me and tell me what I need to be doing, after he's been ignoring my pleas for years?  Grrrrr!  It's so dang frustrating!!!!!!!  *folds notes and steps away from the podium*


Thank you, Sherri.  You're a few paces ahead of me, but it really means a lot that you take the time to help me get there.  I truly appreciate it.  :)

"I will go get help, when you

"I will go get help, when you go get help" "I will take medication when you take medication" "you're crazy, I am not getting help until you get help for your crazy $h!t" Again, I do not think these things are said with the intent in which they sound, I think they are just deflections of blame in order to hide their guilt and shame. I think there is a resentment towards us as well because we don't have ADHD. I took anti-depressants for years. They made me gain huge amounts of weight although they did give me a lot of peace and feel less irritated. I thought I was suffering from post partum, but after a lot of reflection, I think I just got depressed in reaction to what was the first signs of ADHD. I have thought "how dare he" a million times...about many things. It doesn't help anyone. Simply tell him that you will be happy to go see a counselor on your own, that you will be happy to get a diagnosis and if anti-depressants are the only treatment, then you'll consider that as an option, but for now HE needed to focus on his issues (anger, ADHD) and you will focus on yours. No sense in arguing with him, let it all be worked out with the professionals. Even if you have no intention of taking anti-depressants, hopefully you're fairly clear on what you're feeling and why (I had no idea because it was 13 years ago and he wasn't diagnosed until last year), just don't argue with him.

I think your DH has an added level of anger that I haven't really seen that often in my DH. He used to be the classic "conflict avoider" but through the years he has grown angrier (as did I) and the damage we could do to our marriage in just a few short minutes is something I am ashamed of. Through the years I learned to fight back and I am (was) just as good at low blows as he was. If he wants the marriage to stand any chance, he HAS to allow you to walk away (safely) when you feel the need. A lot of people have code words and they use those to call a time out so they can, as you said, let the adrenaline re-absorb. (BTW, do you know how long this takes?) I would maybe address this issue as critical and top priority...and I would express my fears that once you leave the session he will start in on you. He has to get his anger under control.

I have to ask, did the weekend in jail do him any good?

It is all frustrating. I really would make it my goal right now to take the ADHD off of the table, not try and discuss anything related to it with him without some form of mediation. As for the vacation, it might just boil down to the fact that you guys need to take separate vacations, two vacations, or meet somewhere mid week after you've visited with each of your families.

(((HUGS))) You'll get there...there is no perfect plan or'll keep focusing on what you want and who you want to be.

The not so funny thing

The not so funny thing is..... he's already on meds.  Sorta.  It's been wishy-washy.  Last year we decided that something had to be done (I did hours and hours of research trying to figure out what was wrong with us.  Eventually finding this place.), and since he'd been on meds as a kid, he decided that maybe they might be beneficial.  When he came back from the doc, he had a prescription for anti depressants..... but nothing for ADHD.  After a couple months, (I think just to shut me up) his doc added Concerta.  At first, he was only taking them on days he had to work (work is his ultimate hyperfocus, he wont even leave it when his family comes to town!), justifying that decision with the price of the meds.  Eventually I was able to get him to understand that if he only takes them for work.... how does that benefit us at home?  We still get the un-medicated him all weekend and the couple hours during the week we see him, he's coming down off the meds.  Well, at the beginning of the summer I learned that the longest he's ever taken them in a row....2 months.  No explanation of why he stopped.  He's back on them again, every day I think.  I gave him a list of ADHD coaches in the area about 6 or 7 months ago.  He's whittled the list down to a possible few in this time, but that's it.  I've tried showing him Melissa's posts about therapy being a 3 legged stool, but I don't think he finds it all necessary; he's more comfortable with the pogo-stick approach.  I don't know if he's scared of the work, scared of the possible failure, scared of it changing him..... I've dropped it for now though.


I don't know what jail did for him, honestly.  It may have just pissed him off (over 48 hours without meds or any sort of stimulation or distraction).  When he came home he just asked for me to maintain my distance.  Which is hard for me, but I'm doing it.  I honestly don't think he sees his role in this.  Ok, yeah... I messed up.  I should not have called the police.  He didn't have a weapon, he wasn't putting his hands on me, he wasn't threatening to either.  I can admit my wrong.  But as long as my "sin" trumps his.... it's like his doesn't exist.  It doesn't help that his friends and family back him up on this.  "I'm the one with the problem, he's medicated so it can't be him.".  I have been considering counseling  for a while.  For just me.  I gotta tell you though, it scares the crap out of me.  If I swallow artificial happiness every morning... he's going think it was all me.  And then what happens?  I don't count on my improvement to motivate him, I'm afraid the opposite will happen.  Don't get me wrong, my fears wont stop me from trying.  But the "what-ifs" and the unknown... it's very scary for me.  I love the crap out of this man.


I know that all I can do is work on me.  So, I have a plan!  I should have the finances straightened out by the beginning of the year (we've decided that maybe I would be better at money management.), and when I do I'm going to find out who I am now.  I'm going to counseling and I'm going to go looking for things that make me happy.  I want to read and journal and garden and learn belly dancing..... that's right, belly dancing.  That looks like a lot of fun to me, and I really need some fun.  I think it will do a world of good.  :)


About the adrenaline..... what she told me is that you need to give yourself at least 30 minutes of continual calm to make sure your body has taken it all back in.  She explained it to me as the Fight or Flight chemical, and as long as it's present my instinct is going to pull me to either of those two directions.  (I find myself going for flight more often.  "You want to be like that?  Fine.  I don't, and I don't want to be around you while you are!")  Of course, I don't know how this actually works in application.  I see it works great for him though...




he's more comfortable with

he's more comfortable with the pogo-stick approach.  I don't know if he's scared of the work, scared of the possible failure, scared of it changing him..... I've dropped it for now though.

My DH is the same, it would seem. I think it is all of the above. But I also feel that at some point they need to be faced with either doing some damn hard work or they're just going to continue through life barely getting by, blaming others, and essentially never having a successful relationship. I admit, one my 'how dare he' moments is when I feel he would rather just walk away than to do the hard work considering all of the hard work I have done through the years to compensate, pick up slack, accept, sacrifice, and forgive.

But as long as my "sin" trumps his.... it's like his doesn't exist.

There is an ah-ha moment for me. I mean I always knew that it seemed like my 'sins' always held more weight in his mind...ESPECIALLY when it comes to my relationship with his daughter...but I just never really thought of it this way. I would say you're onto something. I would also say that no matter what HE feels, you do not have to spend the rest of your life keeping score with who did what when and how bad it was comparatively speaking. You called the police because you felt like things were completely out of control. You have described scenarios here that would leave most of us feeling like he is being abusive, even if he doesn't use his fists. (Locking you out of the house, berating you non-stop, refusing to let you walk away when you try). I am not sure what your 'sin' was, to be honest. Even if I apologized for going to the extreme of calling the police, I would make it clear to him that you felt your boundaries were threatened and that you truly felt you had no other alternatives. Other than that, I would say "I have nothing more to explain or say about it" and drop it.

I gotta tell you though, it scares the crap out of me.  If I swallow artificial happiness every morning... he's going think it was all me.  And then what happens?  I don't count on my improvement to motivate him, I'm afraid the opposite will happen.  Don't get me wrong, my fears wont stop me from trying.  But the "what-ifs" and the unknown... it's very scary for me.

First, taking anti-depressants doesn't give you a false sense of happiness. I would describe it more like "ability to detach" in a pill, for me. I know several members here who take anti-depressants, have been in counseling for years, and are STILL struggling with the affects of ADHD, so don't expect miracles. Until you've been in counseling and have managed to gain some footing of your own, I wouldn't take anything. Were you depressed before you started dealing with all of this? Do you feel you would be 'cured' if your husband would give you what you need and stop hurting you? Are you happy, content, and excited about life when he's 'behaving'? I know everyone has their own ways of coping, but to me the anti-depressants at this point would just be putting a band aid on my issues.

He already does think it is all you, the only way that is going to change is with awareness on HIS part. He blames you now, he would blame you if you were more 'chill' on the A/D. Please remove all thoughts (I know, I if...) from your head about what his reaction might be to your getting help and "improving". I prefer "getting healthier emotionally". Do it for you. Do it because it is unhealthy, wrong, and devastating (physically, mentally, emotionally) for anyone to be caught up in the chaos and insanity that you are. When you are truly sick and tired of living this way, you will have an acceptance that no matter what HE does, how he responds, you'll be OK. Think about're afraid to change things because you're afraid you'll lose...what? Control? Don't kid yourself...his ADHD has control of you, and that is the only 'control' anyone has in this dynamic. You're all over the place with yourself, he's all over the place with himself, but the one thing you can count on is that you'll get sucked into his chaos every single time. In the CoDependent No More book by Melodie Beattie (HIGHLY recommend it...if I didn't already), she quotes someone as saying "CoDependency is a way of getting needs met that doesn't get needs met." That's where you are. Change is scary...but so is going on with the status quo for 2, 4, 6, 10 more years.

When I 'let go' about 5 weeks ago, it was an absolute personal low for me, and I knew I had to do something to save myself. If I didn't no one else would. DH was happy to keep letting his ADHD go untreated and dragging me around by the hair. His immediate reaction was to drop his anger and be nice. More attentive. Calling and texting more. Talking more. Wanting to have conversations. But, the freedom I gave him also brought out the 'self medicating' side of him and he's drinking (and Lord only knows what else) a lot more, missing a lot of work, and in spite of what he obviously wants me to believe, he seems to be struggling. Girlfriend, you want to talk about scary? When I laid down my anger, he was (had been) working 12-14 hour days. There were a lot of things pulling at my gut and making me VERY fearful that he was cheating again. As a matter of fact, it was that overwhelming anxiety (I had 3-4 HORRIBLE days of red-lining anxiety immediately prior to my hitting rock bottom) that lead me to say "screw it" and just let it go and accept that he will do what he wants, when he wants, he will lie, cheat, and do whatever it takes to feed his 'needs'/impulses and there isn't ANYTHING I can do to stop that. Would you know, when I detached and started working on ME that he not only stopped working long shifts, but now he barely wants to leave the house. I have reason to believe this is medication related too, but who knows? All I know is that yes, it is scary as hell, but the thoughts of living a life of high anxiety and dying in 10 years wasn't too appealing either. Accept that you cannot control him...and accept that you stand a better chance of 'attracting' him if you're strong, independent, and you do not need him.

She explained it to me as the Fight or Flight chemical, and as long as it's present my instinct is going to pull me to either of those two directions.

Another ah-ha moment...I studied all of this in Anatomy and Physiology but it never really dawned on me how it relates to fighting with my husband and why I was always either unable to walk away or unable to stand to be in the house with him for another second. Very interesting to know it was adrenaline and not me being nuts. LOL




Thank you Happymedium and

Thank you Happymedium and SherriW, I'm soo grateful to have read this post!

My husband is the same way with his anger and deflection. I too hit a personal low about 6 weeks ago when I turned on him and started doing the exact thing he was doing to me. I just kept screaming until I couldn't any more, that resulted in him being unable to function and my being so ashamed that I just cried for hours. It scared me so much I immediately got an emergency appointment with my doctor, got some antianxiety medication, and a referral to a therapist. After my first session with her, she told me that  she didn't think my problem was that I was depressed, she felt that I was letting out five years of anger and resentment that have built up as we have struggled with his ADHD. I struggled with this diasnosis because it made me feel so ashamed, I LOVE HIM how can I be so angry and hurtful? I did eventually accept what she was telling me and we are working on ways to help me deal with the anger and resentment. Boundaries are expecially important for us because I feel like the mom with an angry resentful child. My DH and I have talked about my problems and how i need some boundaries to deal with things (being able to walk away, asking for time alone, making some choices for me rather than making meatballs instead of meatsauce...something so small but I hadn't been able to make my own meatballs in 3 years because he hates eating them). Its gotten better, but after my yelling episode its so hard for me to remain calm when he begins his deflection/push backs/ you're selfish/etc. Unfortunately now when he gets going he uses the fact that I'm seeing a therapist, taking meds, and setting boundaries against me. I'm the one with the "issues" and "our arguing" is something that "I" have to fix. It's exhausting but I know that I can't give up yet.

My books came in today.  When

My books came in today.  When ordering, I seen there was also a Codependent No More workbook.... so I got it.  My DH seen them on the bed this morning on his way out to work, looked at both covers and scanned a couple pages before giving me a "hmm.".  Then walked out the door without saying anything else.  Not sure what he thought about it and I'm not real sure I care either.  I'm excited to get started on them! 


I mean I always knew that it seemed like my 'sins' always held more weight in his mind...

I had a situation last week that feels very similar to this.  There are times where my DH finds wrong doing in a situation that I just don't see and then pairs it with a comparison that (to me) is completely obsurd and off-the-wall!  I had gone to the little store up the road and while I was making my purchase I seen a beautiful peach rose on the counter (it looked like maybe a customer had brought it in.  It didn't have the flower shop presentation and it was in a plastic water bottle) and I burried my face in the huge thing and took a deep breath (I adore roses and my DH wont let me plant any).  I handed the guy my card and said how wonderful the fragrance was and after the business was done he took the rose and told me to have it.  Of course I accepted!  A flower the size of my face?  Duh! I enjoyed it the rest of the day, until DH came home and noticed it.  I told him how I got it and even though he remained calm, he was NOT OK with it!  He equated it to a stranger offering him oral sex and him accepting it.  I was shocked!  Maybe even whatever is the next step after "shocked".  Really?  But when he does this, it's done in a very passive-agressive-joking manner.  Whether it was right or wrong, I looked him dead in the eye with a smile on my face and told him that since they're the same then he wouldn't mind if next time I passed on the rose and got the sex instead.  Left the room and that was the end of it.  I know he expected me to feel shame or guilt for accepting what I feel is a random act of kindness.  But I didn't.  I didn't even understand how he could feel that way about the situation, come to that conclusion.  I didn't, and still haven't, even tried to understand that one.


These books right here are calling out to me.  I'm so dang excited!  I have to go crack one of them open.  :)

Oops, I posted that in the

Oops, I posted that in the wrong spot.


BetterLife, I too find it easier and easier to fall into an angry shouting match.  Not that what I say is necessarily me wanting to hurt him as he is me, but more a thing of defense.  He's going to attack me all he wants and I'm worried that if I don't puff up to defend myself, it's only going to encourage him to get more and more mean.  Even though he tells me that he has certain boundaries he would never cross, things he would never say to me.... I dont' see any at all!  The amount of cruelty he is capable of is something he just doesn't see.  So, in an effort to minimize the ammo he has against me, I just don't share anything with him anymore.  It doesn't feel like the right way to do this, but I just don't know anymore.


Every day I'm going to get better at this.  Every day I'm going to learn and grow.  Every day I'm going to get a little closer to that happy medium.

I don't know if you get

I don't know if you get notified of all comments, or just those that are replies to yours, but I posted in the wrong spot.  *sheepish grin*


 I am very grateful to have found this site.  I almost cried to read elements of my story.  I have been married for almost 18 years.  Coming from a somewhat fundamental Christian upbringing I could never contemplate divorce so I just kept going on accommodating my husband. Early in our marriage I started this and finally in 2009 did an intervention with my spouse, at the direction of a counselor, for his gambling compulsion/addiction.  Since this time, I have been trying to regain my since of self. 

I believe my husband has ADHD and sometimes I wonder about myself.  He is not open to self exploration and will not read any books relate to relationships or ADHD or anything close to self help.  He has made comments to me about reading self help books.  I wonder at times if you are a non-ADHD spouse if you take on some of their characteristics when you live on their terms and in their world.  Gambling is the most recent compulsion.  It seems to be at bay right now but I catch myself, like the spouse of an alcoholic, looking for the signs of gambling.  My spouse has gone thru drug addiction and anger management issues in the past of which I am never supposed to bring up. 

I had no idea what the word boundaries meant in a personal relationships.  I was brought up being told how to act, think, and feel.  But...I have been learning.  It has taken time and work to understand them and it meant taking risk....  Fear of abandonment, fear of financial devastation, lots of fear.  And, then more time and more work on the fear.  If I may, Susan Jeffers, PhD Feel the Fear books have been a huge help with fear for me.  I have come to realize for me this is going to be a life-long process.  But, I am beginning to see results and progress.

I could go on and on about the symptoms my spouse has.  Inattentiveness, he can't look people in the eye and have a conversation.  He also believes he is the ultimate multi-tasker.  However, I end up taking care of the details of his multi-tasking.  I worry about driving as he can't drive without eating in the car, talking on the phone, or messing with CDs.  The cars he drives end up trashed with spills and food.  I spent one whole Saturday vacuuming sunflower seeds out of my car.  It goes on....

He can't hear (deaf in one ear) and doesn't listen is my new saying. 

Over compensation, he goes to extremes to make people think he is super human. Example, he/we moved 400-500 railroad ties at 110-120lbs each this weekend with my spouse going manic the whole time. Our kids call him the recycle nazi because he goes to extremes to recycle everything.  He doesn't wait to be asked to help, he jumps in and takes over. And wonders why no one wants to help?  This is one area I really get angry at him since I felt helpless as a child I feel helpless when he does this.  He talks for me.  Doesn't take time to listen to me.  Has to be doing the Sudoko or crossword puzzle while trying to have a conversation with you.....

As I said, I could go on and on but one of the things I have learned is rehashing these doesn't help.  All I can do is look at my part and take care of myself as best I can until I know better about what to do.  I worry about our kids.  Sometimes they think I am crazy because of my reactions but they don't know the history of why.  I hope they can see for themselves how manic and compulsive he is and understand it doesn't have to be that way. Taking care of myself, is a whole other conversation.  Which is where I am at right now in my journey, finding the balance of being available and present while taking care of myself.








Sorry I didn't see this post sooner. Life has been busy, in mostly good ways, lately. To go ahead and get it out of the way, I think the book CoDependent No More by Melodie Beattie would be very helpful to you. Your fear is something I relate to in a BIG FAT way, lady. Fear motivated my anger, plain and simple. The book is amazing and will help you detach and "let go" (and Let God)...but I feel would be useful to anyone, Christian or not. It explains so much about why we are the people we have become, in reaction to a disorder that has gone untreated (our spouse's ADHD), and how to stop being REACTERS.

First let me say, you're not crazy and you're not alone. Yes, I often find myself thinking "oh my Lord, am I ADHD too" because my thoughts race, I felt like I was spinning my wheels, I couldn't focus on concentrate (on anything but HIM and his ADHD!!!), etc. But, it was mostly just about being overwhelmed with it all and being afraid that if I didn't keep going 1000 MPH (wheels spinning but going nowhere) that everything would crash. I was terrified that if I let my guard down for just one second, my world would surely come to an end. Our 'issues' aren't gambling...but self-medicating and infidelity. I can relate to the 'checking for signs' only I was like a bloodhound on crack and could take any innocent comment, situation, or event and have it blown into a full on affair within 5 minutes. I nearly drove myself insane. I don't want him to cheat, would be hurt if he did, but accepting that I cannot control him and knowing that I will be OK no matter what choices HE makes, has given me a sense of relief and freedom I never imagined I could have living in the same home with him. If he cheats again, there are no more questions to ask and no more excuses to be made. It is over. Even the slightest sign that he isn't 100% dedicated to our marriage and I'm done. Just saying that and knowing it is something I am 100% ready to do has been very liberating for me as well.

If the gambling is threatening your family's financial stability, then I think it is something you should make a priority. You can only detach from things that aren't life of death, in my opinion. My husband is an impulsive spender, so I am acutely aware that I have to still figure out a system that insures that the bills are paid and we have money to feed the kids and get over feeling like if he does without lunch money a few days a week that the world will end. If he cannot manage his money, then I am not responsible for carrying the burden of that for him. Not my issue. I will see that the family is taken care of, period. You need to do the same, but in a way that isn't about stopping him from gambling (that will have to come from WITHIN him..the desire to stop) but about you making sure everyone/thing else is taken care of FIRST.

I am assuming he isn't taking meds or getting therapy? These can help with some of the symptoms, but only if he WANTS the help and wants things to be different...and sees that his ADHD is a problem. I haven't had a marriage to speak of (due to inattentiveness) since February. I know what it is like to want to pick up the phone and call my best friend (my husband) only to know deep down that he either won't care about what it is I am dying to share with him, will change the subject, cut me off, or some other means of letting me know that my life, issues, problems, and joys aren't anything he wants to/can deal with right now. It is beyond devastating. I won't ever 'get used to it', just keep praying about it and 'holding on just one more day', the hopes that he'll miss his best friend too, eventually. The more out of control his ADHD is, the worse the inattentiveness is.

(((HUGS))) For now, you have us here to share with and talk to and hopefully we can help you make some sense of everything and help you let go of the things that we cannot make sense of. :)



Thank you

Thank you for the encouragement!  I am reading ADHD marriage and Melody Beatties The New Codependency book.  I've had this problem of letting things go and then taking them back all my life!  I just can't seem get it.  I just keep trying.  Your hopefulness gives me strength.

Kris, If only, if only

the woodpecker cries, the bark on the trees was as soft as the skies . . .

Wish I had some answers, too.  We've been together, off and on, for 36 years.  Happily married for 2 years.  Hey, 2 out of 17 ain't bad :-)  He just refuses to leave, change, or do anything.  I finally realized that he needs me a heck of a lot more than I need him.  Thanksgiving was another typically lovely day.  I got up in a good mood, decided to make a nice big meal, was working in the kitchen, and he decided to pitch a holy-hallelujah screaming hissy fit over some weatherstripping.  After being screamed at and called names for about an hour, I put the thawed turkey back in the frig, gathered up some things, my stash-cash and puppy-dog, and left in my vehicle.  Was going to go to a motel, but then recalled his story about a buddy totally trashing the house when his spouse left.  Seeing as how most everything in this place is mine (either mine before we got together, or bought with my earnings since) I decided to return.  Went ahead and finished cooking, and he took a plate in the other room and ate.  He sulked and pouted and wouldn't talk -- Which suited me just fine :-D  Heavenly days, I DO get SOOOO tired of his mouth.  I've told him we should get a divorce or separation, and of course, I'm then the crazy one and my hormones need checked.  His daughter even said to me that in his mind "Nothing is ever his fault!"  It's tough, because he does basically nothing, and there's not even anyone I can pawn him off on.  He's alienated everyone to the point that he's simply not invited anywhere anymore.  But he doesn't see that.  As long as he's got me to follow around and yap at, that seems to suit him. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Sometimes I go outside or down to the garden and he'll even follow me around outside!  

Anyhow, seems like most everything everyone says describes him/us.  Although there really isn't an "us" any more.  I read all these Pollyanna, pie-in-the-sky, rose-colored-glasses, wishing posts.  Sheesh, it ain't gonna get no better, people.  The older a person gets, the more they become of what they are.   

Hope the Non-ADHD 'partners' are managing y'alls finances.  He bullied in and took over bill (non) paying for about a year and a half.  Well now, when I was able to get hold of the paperwork, oh man!! the bank charges, bounced-check fees, etc. were appalling!  Hasn't happened since.  He pitched a fit about that, too, when informed that I was taking charge of the bills again.  

Life runs a whole heck of a lot better with me doing stuff.

As Tiny Tim said, God bless us, every one :-)



Tansygal, thank you.  Right now things have been going pretty well.  My husband is incredibly worried about what other people think so he is on manic mode trying to be everything to everyone.  Takes his frustrations out on his only son.  Yells at him for something and then turns around and does what he just yelled at his son for.  

I went to see the counselor a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned I keep mourning for the marriage I expected.  I think this has helped me see I have to work on letting the expectations go.  I do pretty well at this when we are doing ok and then something happens to trigger the mourning again. So I've got to let go of the expectations and I guess hope.  It is what it is and take what good I can get from things as they are until I know something better to do.

I'm also mad at myself because I have let myself become financially dependent.  I am working on changing this but things are slow.  Two teenagers in the house too...  So, these are the things I can work on...and I just have to maintain my peace when his chaos starts again.

God bless us ALL!!!


Re: Grateful

OK.  December 6th, things are going along pretty well.  So sad about the son.  Is he a frequent scapegoat?  And of course your spouse's behavior would be 'mirroring'.  If you haven't done so already, pay particular attention to what he yells at you or the son about (behaviors, actions, etc.) and see how many/how much of those things are his *own* baggage . . .  It'll also be interesting to see how long this 'happy' cycle lasts.

Glad to hear that you're gaining the inner strength and rebuilding your self-esteem to work on changing the financial dependency.  Good for you!!



Just thanks for being here at this site.  Happy Cry!!!



I have been having such conflicted feelings lately.  I am really trying to keep the focus on myself and my part of my relationship but somehow the entanglement of marriage and the effect is just wearing.  

As I said in my earlier post, my spouse can't hear and doesn't listen.  I have no one to listen to me.  I provide an ear for my spouse and my kids and other friends but don't have anyone to listen to me.  Does anyone else involved in an ADHD relationship have this problem or is it just me?  I go thru times of thinking this is me and I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill.  How much of this is just plain communication and relationship issues?  But, when you can't have honest, open conversations and conversations are mostly one sided?  I don't know.  Today I am just very confused about things.  I keep trying to look at myself and find what I need today for my own sanity. 

Help... If anyone has some encouraging words to offer! Thanks!

This is exactly why I come

This is exactly why I come here.  "Here" has people who listen and care.  Even when I choose to be a silent observer, I read my words and feelings in these posts and I feel heard.   I rely heavily on this community for the time being.


Have you tried communicating with your DH via email or letter?  I have several times taken hours to figure out what it is I'm wanting to say, put it all in an email and send it off.  (I've started just printing them out and handing them to him or putting them in a place he'll see it.  I know he can go months without checking his personal email account.)  I've also been thinking of getting us a shared journal.  Just a notebook we can both write things we want to share with each other.  Maybe you guys could take a sign language class together?  Whether your spouse provides an ear or an eye.... even if the improvement is very small, it's still an improvement none-the-less.


I've found a therapist in my area with experience in ADHD.  She actually has ADHD, so the insight she provides me is invaluable.  And surprisingly, she gives me the information impartially (well, as much as what she's capable).   I never feel like she's taking sides or defending his actions.  I find it strangely comforting when she shares little bits of her struggles with the nons in her family.  Seek out some sort of therapist if you don't already have one.  Sometimes you can find students working through churches for I guess what is an internship, and I think that route is less expensive.




Thank you

Thank you for your encouraging words.  I will keep coming back to this site and reading and posting.  I appreciate your response soo much.  My spouse is not open to introspection. 

I tried writing letters but they would end up on the floor collecting dust and no response from my spouse verbal or written.  I think his ADHD manifests itself in the lack of verbal and written communication skills.  These things are just beyond his capability.  He acts as if he is happy all the time.  However there is never any discussion about important issues of life.

I've seen various therapists.  The current one is helpful but does not "label" people.  The therapist is helping me see choices I can make or phrases I can say which I wasn't able to see before.  So, in that respect it is helpful.  My spouse is not supportive of that either so I end up going to the therapist and not telling him because he will say something like, "You are still going to see him?".  It's the same reaction when I go to Al-Anon. 

Kris - Spouse not open to introspection

Yep, I hear you!  We went to a counselor for a while.  Then I went.  And got probably the same suggestions.  Try writing it down, stay calm, blah, blah, blah.  Kris, honey, it sounds like you're making strides and progress.  And if you're half as happy as I am to have found this site, well, we're both purty durn happy campers :-D  The feelings of isolation, and the harsh lessons in expectations can be a real bitter pill to swallow when one feels cut off from the world.  It's hard not to fall into suffering from terminal uniqueness.  My 'housemate' sure sounds a lot like yours.  He's also hard of hearing and there's no way I'd even consider spending thousands of dollars on any kind of hearing aid for him!  He loses, breaks, or wrecks stuff on a daily basis.  A while back he got some expensive glasses from the optometrist.  They lasted less than a month, then were in pieces.  So now he gets five-dollar reading glasses at the dollar store.  

The end of October, we actually had a long-ish semi-real conversation.  He appeared to listen and even allowed me to get a few sentences in.  But that lasted about a week.  Then it was back to business-as-usual.  What's important to him is what's important to him. 



Oh Tansygal, this sounds so familiar.  I have had so many of these scenarios I feel sorry for him.  For me, one of the only ways I have come to terms with this is to realize to change this is beyond his capacity.  Unfortunately, I compare it to having a handicap and how would I treat him with that handicap?  It has stretched my level of tolerance to where it is almost broken.  Then the rubber band snaps back in place for awhile and then it stretches again.....and again.. and again...

Very Familiar :-D :-( :-P

Ya' know, yeah, I feel sorry for him -- to a point!  But (or maybe that should be 'butt', because that's what his other daughter calls him -- 'butthead'), anyway, IF and it's a BIG IF, yours or mine would make any effort to try . . .  There are other posts from both ADHD and Non-ADHD folks that say there is a level of effort being put forth by the partner w/ ADHD.  All the smiley/sad faces are because that's how my feelings go from day-to-day, hour-by-hour, etc.   Vows are vows, and after years and years, he's a habit.  Many days, I think some very negative thought, and immediately chastise myself with "that's terrible".  But it's also all so real.  Thank my lucky stars (and Ms. Orlov) for this site.  It's very much like the 'jiggler' on a pressure-cooker.  A safe place to blow off steam so one doesn't explode :-)  And just to get the give-and-take of actual 'conversation' (even though it's in written form).  A friend said to me this past summer that it is basically impossible to have a conversation with Frank.  He's always so busy thinking of the next thing he's going to say that he doesn't hear what's being said to him.  And this from an objective male acquaintance!  Frank will talk about the latest item he's read, or heard on the TV, but there's no real conversation.  More like a lecture, or a harangue.  I wonder how many other folks on this site are Masters/Mistresses of the various shadings that can go into the syllables "Uh-huh".  There's so many ways to murmur those :-)  And then there's just plain "Mmmm" or "Huh" or "Mmm-hmm".  Those tend to be my contribution to most attempts at conversation.  It bothers me less now than it used to.  Lowered or non-existent expectations.  It took awhile, but I finally realized it was frustrating and useless to try and get him to listen/hear/pay attention.  All other living beings are lesser creatures than he is.  There are two people he will occasionally listen to (I'm not one of them).  The short-term memory just isn't there, either.  

Anyway, I still keep reading, and endeavoring to savor life, my pets, and the wildlife and beauty around me :-)   Sure glad to have a place to communicate with 'kindred spirits'.

Cheerio, on a very rainy night :-)

Effort -----?

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  What you are describing is so much like what I have experienced and felt.  Yes, I am very grateful for this site and the 'conversation'.  It is something I've needed for sometime.  In my relationship, there is never validation for any thought or feeling and your posts are giving me that feeling.  We just go on... Maybe I am not the crazy one after all!!!!!  Some days maybe.....

Re: Effort -----?

You got that right!  ". . . there is never validation for any thought or feeling . . . "  But woe-betide me if he doesn't get praised to the skies for every teeny little thing.  Sheesh!  Howsomever, I've pretty much stopped doing that.  Maybe it's "setting a boundary", but I am simply refusing to treat him like a 7-year-old.  Even though he still acts like one.  Often, I wish he *was* 7 because I could give him a time-out or give him a dose of 'hickory tea'.  I practice courtesy, and say thank you and request things prefaced with please, or would you. . . But have stopped trying to 'suck up' to him.  With the lack of short-term memory, he doesn't remember the thank you's or compliments anyway.  Only the bad stuff.  

Somehow, you and I are still sane :-)  Whatever that is :-D  Even though we, for whatever karmic reason, chose 'mates' that test our limits every day.  With him/me, I feel like a child's top -- you know, the kind that has pretty colors, sits on the floor and spins nicely.  Well, I'm the top, and he's the rotten little boy that walks by and just casually *kicks* the top, knocking it off balance, and sending it spinning in crazy circles all across and around the room.  Years ago, a group called "The Moody Blues" made an album called "A Question of Balance".  Many days, I get weary of struggling to maintain my balance.  But, fortunately, there's this site, and now you, and I began working part-time, doing office-type work, which I really enjoy.  It's good to be out and with 'normal' (whatever that is) people :-D  Can you tell I'm in a silly mood?  

Blew up at him a while ago.  Earlier this evening, he semi-wrecked the car, and I had to call the wrecker service to get it unstuck.  In the dark, snowing and blowing, with a wind-chill of about 10 degrees.  Then a while ago, he went outside and forgot to latch the side door.  When I went to check it, it was standing wide open, snowing in, the propane heater running full-blast.  I closed the door, and came in and hollered at him!  I am NOT working to pay towing companies nor to heat the out-of-doors.  He got nasty, of course, and I told him to knock it off, or he was going to be sorry -- and turned around and walked away!  Sooo, hopefully he'll remember to shut the dang door, and maybe he'll sulk and pout some more and shut the heck up for a day or so :-)   Oooooh, what a mean harpy she is :-D

Naah.  We're no crazier than the rest of the world :-)

You know, that is exactly where I am at....  I try to be polite saying please and thank you.  I try not to ask for anything from him because it just doesn't feel good.  Whether it is me making it up or whether he acts like he has just made a big sacrifice to help me I don't know.  He really likes to feel like I couldn't make it without him.  I hate feeling helpless and this rut I'm stuck in of being financially dependent is really eating at me.  I keep praying and trying to be patient and doing what I can to make money but nothing much is happening right now.  I believe God is testing my patience!!!!  Plus, God must think there is some lesson in this I need to learn I guess.

I worry about our son tho.  What observation is he making of all this?  His dad yells at him quite a bit of the time.  I end up trying to be the peace maker.  My son is really mad at me right now because we don't have TV and he wants to watch the NFR.  He is 15 so there you have it.  My husband and I talked yesterday about maybe getting TV back for Christmas but he admitted he can't self-discipline himself not to watch TV all the time!  That's something he would never have admitted before!

Oh and by the way, he was out playing poker till 5:15 this morning... Now today I am trying not to react and yell at him.  I need to ask him how much he won or lost last night but I can't do it because I am soo angry!!  He thinks because he is making most of the money right now he can do whatever he wants.  In our counseling sessions, this was one of the boundaries was not staying out all night playing poker.  He doesn't respect that.  I want to call him up right now and yell at him!!!!!!!!  I would leave if it was just me but for the kids sake I keep telling myself I will stay until they graduate.  I don't know if this is the right thing for them or not.  They are getting a poor picture of how a REAL relationship should work.  Are there any REAL relationships.... Yeks!  Can you tell I'm not very happy right now!  

What I can do is keep expanding my support network like having the "conversations" here.  Enjoying my kids as they are blessings and they truly know more than we give them credit.  Getting out and meeting new people and doing things I want to do.  And, of course, figuring out how to make my business more profitable or get a full-time job.  I think if I wasn't so worried about money and finances, I wouldn't care what he is doing with his money.  

Oh boy... I kind of let loose with my frustration here:x~  I am ok, I am ok, right?  I don't have to buy into this poker playing crossing my boundaries thing right? He just doesn't care how it affects me or comes across to me....  And, I really don't know how to handle this.  Things could be worse....Soo confused as to how to handle...leave/stay???  Take the kids and go somewhere?  Good grief I feel like a caged bird!  I've got to stay calm and think about what is best..  Why am I making such a big deal about this other than he does not respect my thoughts or feelings?  Nothing new except this is blatant.  Is it my ego that is taking over and making me react this way?

Well, now I probably do seem crazy......  


summerwine's picture


I'm sorry he ran out and played poker on you like that/ Does he have a gambling problem or does he go out lots or did he just need to have a night out? Your kid could probably find his TV shows online and stream them on his computer. That's how we do TV in my house because it cuts down on TV time.


Well, he has had a gambling problem and buying lottery tickets.  He believes winning the lottery is his ticket to retirement.  He goes out every week to play.  In marriage counseling we set a boundary of not staying out all night.  It is beyond his capability to monitor this himself.  I'm fine with gambling as long as there are limits and no secrets but in this case there are no limits and secrets.  Denial there is a problem... But it is only my problem according to him.

Good idea for TV.:)



No, not today you're not :-)  

So, the "things going along pretty well" lasted about 2 days . . .  Oh gosh, I hear that one, too!  Living with ADHD is a crazy roller-coaster.  Or some even wilder ride.  Ummm, so you've mentioned the counselor, has he/she suggested Gambler's Anon or anything like that?  Not that he would necessarily even consider it, or actually get around to going  . . .  Some years ago I was with an alcoholic [any addiction is similar :-( ]  He was court-mandated to go to AA.  Well, he actually did go to 2 maybe 3 meetings.  Then said, "I'm not going there anymore.  There's nothing but a bunch of drunks."  It wasn't very funny at all at the time, and I hope he maybe finally quite drinking.  We split later on.  The drinking was a large contributing factor.

You've also mentioned the financial dependency aspect.  Are you working outside the home at all at this point?  And did you just get rid of your TV's?  Sounds a bit confusing from the 'outside' so I can only imagine how confusing it must be inside your head !  But, it's all survivable if we have the will to hang on.  

Someone posted about how doesn't everyone want more compliments . . .  From my perspective that is a resounding "No!"  A simple acknowledgement of a task well-done is sufficient.  Some years ago I had a supervisor who was lavish with compliments. I finally asked him to basically 'stop gushing'.  

You know, it used to be called "common courtesy" to say please and thank-you.  Not anymore.  It is now "uncommon courtesy" and I do wonder how it is affecting your son.  As you said, kids are much more aware than we may realize.  It is possible that he may wind up as one fellow I know.  His dad had addiction (and other) problems.  This fellow told me that he felt his father was there to serve as an example of how NOT to be a man.

You said 'deaf in one ear and doesn't hear'.  Sheesh, I'm trying to think and type at the same time, while he's got the tv blasting in the other room.  Bleahhhh :-D

Will ramble on some more when concentration is more possible :-D

Cheers, Tansygal



Well, hope you are hanging in there Tansygal.  Life took off with me for a few days...Kids and spouse and animals....

We actually had somewhat of a conversation a few days ago.  I don't put much faith in it but at least I got to say my peace.  In 2008 I did an intervention with a counselor for gambling.  He was required to either go away to or to go to AA or NA as we don't have a gamblers anonymous.  He went and quite gambling and buying lottery tickets for awhile.  He maintains he never had a problem it was all me.  He does admit to buying too many lottery tickets but that is it.  He is back at both only he believes he can control it.  Staying out all night is one of the things which he agreed NOT to do.  His response was, "What, do you expect me to be perfect?".  I'm not mad anymore.  I am realizing more and more that I will probably eventually leave because I don't want the same lifestyle he does.  Having a problem is okay if you can admit it affects others but denying it is the problem I can't deal with.  And, I have been in the role of "mother, enforcer, monitor" too long.  The kids think I'm nuts.

The TV was a big problem with the spouse and the kids.  They would sit and watch crap for hours and not do work and homework.  So, I cancelled the subscription.  Things go better without it and the kids don't really miss it that much just occasionally when football or NFR is on or Glee.

I do work but am just not making much money right now as I'm trying to change careers and building a business and skills.  

I AGREE with you totally on the compliments.  Sincerity goes with being genuine when giving compliments.  And please and thank you are a given for me.  This was one of the first things I could do for my spouse was start saying Thank you when he did something.  Sometimes I'm not very sincere.....:(  It is mostly onesided...


summerwine's picture

Every man I have ever been

Every man I have ever been with wanted you to be proud of them for doing anything. I have never been with a man who has ADHD. I'm pretty sure that wanting kudos for everyday chores and stuff is a man thing. Or maybe a human thing. Don't you want more praise???? I'm also pretty sure that praise and positive reinforcement is always good thing. It would be better if you guys did it for each other though! You sound way to bitter to be loving right now though. When you can't be loving you can't be loved. When your spouse thinks of you as a stupid child you don't want to do anything for them. If he looked at you and saw a big baby would you want to do stuff for him? Are you getting any help for yourself? Do you ask for compliments so he know you want them?


Fine lines

I believe there are fine lines between what is ADHD behavior and what is human behavior.  It is the skill at handling that is required.....  I am a very lovable person but no one likes to be disregarded and be a doormat.  

Re: Fine lines

Yes, I agree with you.  And find it very interesting that you used the word "doormat".  That is one of the bones of contention that we have had, also.  And I've told him in those very words, in no uncertain terms, that I refuse to be his doormat anymore!  

Was yours a spoiled child?  Mine was.  His mother never worked outside the home, the grandmother lived with them, for a while an auntie also lived there.  He never had to lift a finger.  His younger brother told me that as a boy he pretty much got his own way by pitching a fit yelling, hollering, and generally behaving in an obnoxious manner.  And everyone would cave in and he got his way.  That mode of behavior carried on into his 'alleged-adult' life -- till I poured some starch down my backbone.  He still yells and cusses and carries on, but as long as I've got someone to actually talk to (not him, because there's no conversation with him), I can usually ignore the carrying on. 

It's sad, that we have to use skillful handling.  That should only be necessary with children.  But, I guess this type of person is just a large child.  That does not make it any easier on a day-to-day basis, when we thought we were getting a partner.  One thing I do regularly is 'pick my battles'.  The unlatched door with snow blowing in the other night was a battle worth having.  And, would you believe ?!?!  He has actually latched the door every day since then.  Of course, we'll see how long that lasts . . .  

Cheers :-)

I need some starch....

Tansygal I just love the way you put that about putting starch down your back. :)  I have been told all my life stand up for yourself and don't wear your heart on your sleeve.  I never really could figure out what that meant until this relationship.  My spouse thinks, and I used to think, I took vows "for better for worse"  but using marriage vows to justify your spouse bearing unacceptable behavior is not part of my belief system anymore.  

Yep, my mother-in-law carried my spouse around the whole first year of his life because he was sickly.  She did everything for him. Now, he harangues people to get his way.  I was thinking of that today. If he isn't where he feels he is on top or winning or in control, he gets mad and starts in with the blaming and haranging.  I have just tried to remove myself from situations where I have to work with him.  If we just keep things "light", he seems to feel in control but once he is out of that comfort zone....

I'm getting the starch out to fix my backbone... I think it will help!

Happy Holidays!

Re: I need some starch . . .

Hi :-)

Been thinking about you and wondering how you were doing.  Sounds like you're thinking, and taking some steps -- literally steps to remove yourself from unpleasant situations!  It sounds like we are living parallel lives!  

Sometimes I don't write much because you've already said it :-)  We talk about "fluff stuff" -- the pets, wildlife, of course he lectures on whatever he's seen on tv or read most recently -- whether I'm interested or give a fat rat's behind about it or not . . .  

His "comfort zone" is very tiny, indeed.  He's got ADHD, some degree of OCD (if he's fooling with one of his many 'hobbies', he'll focus on that for hours, and to heck with anything practical that might need doing), and also ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).  The first word out of his mouth is generally "No."  Even if he changes it 2 seconds later and goes, "Oh, yeah".   It can be pouring rain, and I'll say "hey, it's raining."  His response, "Noo.  Oh, did you know it's raining?"   Well, DUHHH!  I just said that.  {{{ shaking head }}}  

It's kind of like living with a 12-gauge shotgun.  Hobbies and thoughts fly and scatter all over the place.  At least the shotgun pellets have a discernible pattern :-D  He jumps from A to L to D to Q, etc. and never seems to understand B and C exist.  

Even though I can't really afford it, I've had to hire some people just to get a few things finished that were/are beyond my capabilities.  I don't do electric.  Plumbing, yes.  But electricity can bite you :-)  So I got a new ceiling fan (the 17-yr-old one hasn't worked right for 2 or 3 years, and quit completely about a month ago).  His suggestion was to use WD-40 on the old one, and maybe it would work again -- Ho-ho-ho!!!  So I got a fellow that came and checked it out.  And yes, the old one was totally worn out.  This nice guy had the old one down and the pretty new one up and working perfectly in a couple of hours.  And no carrying on or cussing or shouting at me, either!  So, it was worth the money.  I didn't even tell him someone was coming.  And he wouldn't pitch a fit in front of a stranger.  He didn't even ask how much the fellow charged (not much, actually).  He just expects and expects and expects -- everything is to be done for him, the money is just to magically appear for whatever he wants.  Well, that's not happening anymore.  He wants to take a trip to California in the Spring and asked the other day if I'd checked on airfares.  Well, I know he's got some bucks stashed away.  So I told him if he was willing to pay for his plane fare, I'd see about finding a cheap rate.  AND that I was done paying for his trips!  Haven't heard another word about it for several days.  So, we'll see.  He probably thinks I'll cave in or someone will come through and pay for his round-trip.  Open the oven and stick a fork in me, I'm done!  Not this time, buddy!  

He cannot be trusted worth a hoot where money is concerned.  If he has a dollar-twenty-nine in his pocket, he'll want to spend twenty!  As Desi Arnaz would say "Ay-yi-yi"!!

Oh well, I'm putting a red bow on his 'office' door, and he can go sit in his Christmas present.

More later . . .  

Sex boundaries

Thanks for permission to cease having sex while there is so much anger in the relationship. Our last marriage therapist told me it was probably OK to get drunk in order for me to be able to have sex with my ADHD husband, at least for now, in order to bring our marriage more into biblical guidelines. I feel like my spouse uses sex just for his own stimulation, and he is insulted if I ask for him to be sensitive to MY needs.


I did the same thing for years.  But, I don't think that way anymore, God would want us to be partners in sex not just something to satisfy their physical desires.  How has this decision been received?


I've been reading through some of my posts and came across a response from you regarding your situation.

Anyway, my DH compared me to a drunken "sorostitute" (sorority slut/prostitute) when the only time I would want to have sex was after drinking.  I know this killed his ego, but between the anti-depressants and the sheer lack of interest (due to being plain, old unhappy), I had nothing there for him.  It took me a long time and a lot of convincing from a close friend to realize that what he said, multiple times, was disrespectful and mean.  Further, he said he was no longer going to initiate anything because he was tired of being denied.  That sure sounds like giving up to me, not to mention the pressure it put onto me.  Finally, and the worst of it all, he would give me enormous guilt trips regarding helping around the house by saying he won't help because I won't give him a bj!  More, he would also proclaim that he wants GSH ("good, slow, he**").  Making me feel worse and cheap.  BTW, I never gave in to this.

The sex thing...

Good for you for not giving in!  It feels good to take back your power to make a choice.

It's one thing to have this be for mutual enjoyment but when it gets to be just to fulfill them....  I realized one day that I was having sex to pacify my husband and not because I really wanted to.  Sometimes I did want to but rarely because we just did and don't have the emotional intimacy I need.  My husband won't talk about the things I would like to talk about like discipline for the kids, money, sex, vacations, feelings, health, and anything that might have a serious, grownup slant to it.  He wants me to talk but he doesn't even listen and tries to talk for me sometimes which really sets me off.  I'm still in the relationship but told him a month or so ago maybe we needed to separate.  He immediately pulled up and article from Psychology Today which said unless you really intend to work on the marriage don't bother just get divorced.  I've worked on the marriage for years and now I'm working on myself.  Whatever happens with the marriage is what is meant to be.  I have great kids out of it and some good times too.  I didn't respect myself enough to not marry him and now I am respecting myself more all the time.  I am worth it and I can be of much better use if I'm free of this struggle.  

We are basically roommates for now and I've ended the sexual battle.  I am worthy and deserve better.  I feel better than I've felt in awhile and since he is gone for a few days, I have some serenity!

Hope this helps support you in your struggle.  This forum really helped me and will continue to help me not feel alone.

Take care & hope you continue to post!


New Year

Tansygal, hope you survived the holidays!  Amazingly, I've been having some moments of clarity lately and I think they are largely from expanding my support network.  I appreciate you posts and all the posts so much.  Thanks everyone.