ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

We had a long post (and follow-up email) from a woman who is at her wits end about how to resolve the “do I stay or leave?” question.  She cares for her husband, but he is driving her crazy and he impacts her life so negatively that she was depressed and on medications for a while.  A couple of people have already responded with supportive advice, so check out the comments, but here is the original message and our thoughts:

“What does the non-adhd spouse (me) do when I've already checked out the relationship??? My husband and my daughter both are adhd. I have been very active in learning and advocating on behalf of them and their adhd. Being married 18+ yrs. to this man and living with his adhd had eventually caused me to go on anti-depressants. I just couldn't take him or anything anymore. I didn't and don't want to "raise" another child who should be the adult and help raise the children too.  I think the thing that is most irritating me about him right now is that I feel like a parrot...I HAVE to repeat myself 2, 3, 4, 5 times or more the same statement, just because he can't/won't take the time to think on his own.

Now I'm at a crossroads in my life....I am having to decide, do I want to continue my marriage with this nice, wonderful, hardworking, caring man who simply irritates the crud out me or do I want to go and live my life in a way that is more conducive for me?

He understands he has adhd but doesn’t bother to take his medication regularly. 
The thing about most adhd people is that they are not great follow-throughers (if that's a word).  So even though he starts out with good intentions and wants to work things out in our marriage, I'm the one who has to work on it and follow up on him.  We were heading in a decent direction, but....he only takes his medicine to stay awake while he drives at night or if he's having withdrawal headaches.

If I tell him I'm leaving again he'll try his razzle dazzle I'll change speech.  I feel guilty because I know for the most part he wants to do right by me, but "fails" to do so.  That makes me feel horrible that it is put back on me again that I have to spare his feelings, etc....I have to be the role model, the leader, the everything again in the family, but at his pace.  I don't want to go back into depression and be on
anti-depressants again and I don't necessarily want to abandon my husband/family, but I don't want to go back where I was to where I didn't have any hope left and the only way out is to leave.

I hope you can understand my pain, agony and heartbreak in even feeling this way.  My husband isn't home long enough to be a part of any support groups or to attend counseling.”

Melissa's response:

If you have already truly “checked out of the relationship”, then you have answered your own question.  But I suspect that you haven’t really completely checked out both because of what you wrote and because you are asking the question in the first place.  I do think, though, that the situation you are in is a tough one.  You feel as if you have “checked out”, but also admit that you don’t want to “abandon” your husband and family and that he is basically a good guy whose habits drive you crazy.

The good news here is that you are able to separate the man from the habits.  It is also positive that he recognizes his ADHD and has gone to the effort of at least getting medication.  The bad news is that your husband has not made a consistent effort to get the habits that drive you crazy under control.  He shouldn’t have to be your puppet, but to be a good partner he needs to recognize that both people to work at staying together happily.  It is very, very common that the ADHD partner is truly unaware of the effect that their behaviors and habits have on others - even if you've talked about it.

ADHD can be an explanation for bad behavior, but it is not an excuse.  It sounds to me as if your husband has not internalized the impact that his actions have on you mentally and physically, nor has he come to terms with his responsibility, as part of your marriage, to make your relationship an easier one.

But it also sounds as if you may be unwittingly aiding and abetting his lack of effort by following up on whatever he isn’t doing.

Most certainly, you should not be a parent to your husband.  And, when a person has bad symptoms of ADHD, it is all too easy to fall into that trap.  Sometimes the help and picking up the pieces actually encourages the continuation of the behavior that you don’t want.  A small example might be picking up his clothes from the floor to wash them.  If he doesn’t put them in the laundry hamper, then they shouldn’t get washed.  Eventually, he’ll learn that if he wants clean underwear he either has to pick up, or do his own laundry.

That’s a small example, and not meant to trivialize your issues, which are significant.  Whether or not you stay should be dependent upon whether or not you and your husband are able to get to a place where you can live in harmony.  The current status quo is simply not working.  No one should be held hostage by another’s ADHD.  But no one should have to live with a person who has “checked out” of the relationship, either.  Your husband needs to fully internalize that there are ramifications for his continued inaction.  (The fact that he only takes his meds when it is convenient for him shows a disregard for your feelings and partnership.  But it also shows that he CAN do it, with sufficient self-interest.)  You need to internalize that you are NOT responsible for him.

So, if you haven’t checked out, it’s time for a serious conversation and some action on both of your parts.  Note that it is really important, if you are going to give it one more go, that you take your own biases out of your relationship at the same time that he starts to work on picking up his end of the bargain.  This means that you genuinely need to give him another chance...don't set him up to fail.  So…

  • Sit down and tell him that your relationship does not work for you, and that though you love him and think that he’s a really great guy in many significant ways, you find his current behavior towards you impossible to live with.  You will no longer be his parent – it’s time for him to start taking responsibility for his life.  You hope he can, so that you’ll be able to stay together, but life is too short to be this unhappy forever
  • Insist that he start to consider how his behavior affects you.  This means that he needs to take his medication because doing so is in everyone’s best interests.  It also means that he is now responsible for cleaning up after himself, both literally and figuratively.  He should expect that the outcomes of any decision he makes – big or small – will be followed up by him, not you.  You are not his parent, nor his slave.  (But make sure to hold up your end of the bargain - don't act like his parent, either!)
  • Promise him that you will support his efforts by telling him openly what you need in a non-judgmental and non-angry fashion (and then choose carefully what you focus on, particularly at first, so as not to overwhelm him).  Promise him that you will start living in the present with him so that you two can have some better times together right away and so he doesn’t have to deal with your anger any more.  Give him an opportunity to tell you what he needs.
  • Start living out your experiences with him in the TODAY – let go of what he wasn’t able to accomplish in the past (don’t hold past grudges and expectations against him…don’t assume he can’t do it)
  • Make sure that you are treating him respectfully and fairly – and as another adult, not a child.  Stop yourself immediately if you find yourself giving him advice or directions, or if you nag him.  For the next month, make your marriage a “nag-free zone”.  DON'T, under any circumstances, allow yourself to get back into parent mode.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, give him a break sometimes.  This is not a punishment.  This is a re-defining of boundaries to see if you can find a place with which you are both comfortable.  Be empathetic – it’s not easy for anyone to make the kind of sea change that the two of you need to make.

Making these changes will not be easy for either of you.  Once you start thinking about it, you’ll find that his behaviors contribute to your relationship issues, but so, too, do your responses to his behaviors.  Wait until you see how much effort it takes to get yourself out of “nag”, “anger” and “I’ve shut you out” mode!

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  If he’s just goofing around and making you late for an appointment, explain nicely “It’s important for me to be on time for X.  I’m planning on leaving in about 10 minutes.  If you’re not ready to go, then I’ll leave you the directions so you can get there when you are ready.”  (Tone of voice is important in this communication, and trust that the new you is bound to make him mad sometimes.)

Eventually, you want to find a situation in which you are happy.  It might be with him, or it might not.  But you will probably feel better about whatever outcome you reach if you have tried once more to get his assistance in making your marriage work.

Comments

My wife and bi-polar with adhd on top of that.

This is my first blog ever, and I'm not even sure if I'm addressing the correct forum. I've been married for almost 15yrs to my best friend, I learned early after many struggles how to cope with the bi-polar after going with her to one of her counselors. We've had our ups and downs, but we got through most of them pretty good I thought. 3 mos ago, she told me she didn't feel right, and agreed to see a doctor, who referred her to a counselor. There she was diagnosed with ADHD. They put her on a perscription which a wk and half later she was allergic to it. They put her on a low dose of a new Rx and scheduled her for her first counseling. We both looked forward to it, but by then she seemed to take a deep plunge into her own world. I didn't know about ADHD at all, so her rapid change caused me to overreact and now I regret the hateful way I responded. Her normal rountine was to do laundry, wash some dishes, and sit either behind PS3 or the PC for hours and hours...but mostly socializing and making many many friends on facebook, and PS3Home. Just before the boys would come home from school, she'd jumpa up, and act busy, then spend a few moments with them, then back to her focus point. I'd come home and often she didn't acknowledge I even came in, yet expected me to join her, instead of our 15min a day we once agreed on. If I just waited for her, and poured a cup of coffee for her, and try to occupy myself, she would tell me she's tired of chasing me down. I took up the slack often cleaning house, and cooking, but grew angry seeing what I considered laziness. She seem to average up to 12 hrs a day on there, up till 3AM, and I felt so hurt and rejected, unwanted, and eventually un loved. Finally we had a heated debate, and she left with the kids. She has wanted to leave numerous times before to go off without the kids, and many times I did pay for her to go where she wanted. This was unusual for her to take the kids. She ended up taking them to a safe house under false lies, only to keep me from getting the kids. Now legally, I can't even see my kids. I've missed one birthday, got no calls on Fathers Day, and now I feel like breaking my own oath and filing just so I can see my kids. She did come by recently just to get a few things, after being gone for nearly 3wks, and by this time my own kids have certainly changed and act as if they prefer to be with her. She has sided them against me, and this is intolerable. She says she doesn't want a divorce, but a long term seperation, and still won't allow me to have the kids, saying her counselors there say no. I reminded her she is at a place that deals with women who are there rightfully where their very lives have been threatened, and they will encourage this sort of thing. I'm forced with either divorce, or seperation legally, just to see my kids. I hate the D word, but I'm soooo sick of catering to her trying to meet all her needs, and being blamed for everything. She takes no responsibility for anything, and sees herself as doing so many things to show her love for me. She exagerates the truth, and acts as if she's going to find a negative even out of what I thought were great times. Like me asking her to spend some time with me, she would snap"Fine I'll quit all the things I enjoy, and what makes me happy, and be a slave, and a mother." Of course next day she's back on there anyway. But how in the world do you deal with all this?

Reading some of these blogs have really taught me alot about ADHD, but I fear its too late, cause if I mention my willingness to go to counselling with her on this, she tells me to stop using ADHD as an excuse. I'm so confused, still deeply in love, but beaten and run over like garbage.

Now I can only focus on the kids and getting my rights to see them. Strange though how alone in the house, I feel nothing is differant except hearing the kids running around playing. I realized I was so alone even with her, and I still go to bed alone. I just wonder, do they ever come back to reality and see the truth or miss what we really had??? In her mind, nothing good is remembered.

Anyone ever have this sort of thing in here at all?

 

Stay or Go?

I've been reading this site for a while now, hearing echoes in my mind of words that I never have dared to say out loud.  I understand his mind is cluttered and dusty.  I know he can't think like I do, but that he's truly brilliant.  I know what he needs of me, to make his life more successful.

So all I am left with is a feeling of guilt.  I'm tired.  A kind and loving woman would be more understanding, but I just don't want to be understanding any more.  I don't want to take care of him.  I don't want to live my life providing stability for a 6 foot tall toddler with the worst case of "ooh shiny" syndrome that I've ever met.  I am lonely.

What I want to know most is how do you learn to be ok with this life?  How do you learn to communicate again?  How do I learn to let go of the hurt and the anger that comes along with the name calling and screaming that his temper causes?  I know 50% of our communication problems are my fault.  I know he's trying really hard.  He's on medication.  He works a steady job and has for 10 years.  That's what he can do. That and play.  

It's as if the moment he really starts trying hard, I've checked out.  I don't believe any more.  I'm with him because of the guilt and because my children truly love him.  I'm tired of being the mother.  And the sad part is that he is truly brilliant and articulate.  He can look me in the eye and tell me that the most important person in the world is himself.

Is it wrong to just not want to play this role in his life?

 

arwen's picture

perfectly legitimate feelings

Redbird, there's nothing wrong with the way you feel!  In the first place, anybody is entitled to whatever feelings they have.  But nobody is required to be happy being a slave to somebody else.

And anybody who can say they are the most important person in the world needs a two-by-four upside the head, or a bowl of ice water in the face (I mean that figuratively!!).  I don't care how brilliant or articulate your spouse really may be, thinking you are the most important person in the world is egomaniacal (unless somehow he's found the answer to life, the universe and everything, which I really sincerely doubt!).  The Declaration of Independence tells us that we are all endowed with "inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".  Anybody who denies you your pursuit of happiness is taking away your rights, does not respect you, possibly does not know what respect really is.  You have no reason to feel guilty.

You ask how do others of us learn to be ok with this life?  My answer is, I wasn't and I wouldn't be.  I made it clear to my husband that there were some behaviors I just simply would not tolerate, that if they happened again, one of us would be leaving.  That included name-calling and physical violence.  I told my husband that I could not trust him.  And I actually did stop trusting him.  There were so many times I wanted to trust him, it would have been so nice, so much easier than continuing to tackle the problems, but I knew that in the end that I (and maybe our kids) would just end up that much more hurt.  If he wanted me to believe him, he had to re-earn my trust, with a long record of honesty and fulfilling his commitments, by his actions instead of his promises.  My husband was so used to his promises being taken at face value, he kept trying and trying to get me to accept them, but I'm the persistent determined type  and would not be taken in.  If your husband operates the same way mine did, I don't see any reason why you should believe him.  (In the movie Star Wars V, the sage Yoda is teaching young Luke Skywalker to use "the Force" to make things happen.  Luke is challenged to do something really difficult, and Luke's reply to Yoda is "all right, I'll try".  Yoda tells him sternly, "No!  Do, or do not.  There is no try".  That's the attitude I took with my husband, even quoting it to him, since he was familiar with the movie.  He got it.)  I found that once I accepted that I could not trust him anymore, I didn't experience as much hurt and anger -- most of my hurt and anger had stemmed from feeling betrayed by unfulfilled promises.

I understand how you can feel you need to stay with your husband because of your children.  I felt that way myself.  But it didn't stop me from hammering away at my spouse's ADD problems.  Some of them posed physical dangers to our children (e.g. his traffic accidents), and I dealt with those first.  Later I moved on to the behaviors that were harmful to our children in other ways.  Finally we dealt with those that were hurtful to me, which were the hardest ones for us to reach agreement on.  Yes, I got tired -- exhausted -- it took a significant physical toll.  Yes, I was terribly terribly lonely.  That was the price for staying in the marriage for the benefit of the kids.  I was very dedicated to the goal of getting them to adulthood with as little impact from my husband's and my problems as possible.  During this time, I swore I would leave my husband as soon as our youngest got through college.  But my daughter asked me to reconsider, so I did.   A few years ago, I reached the end of my rope, told my husband I couldn't deal with him anymore, and asked him to leave.

This was quite a shock to my husband.  At first he thought I would want or need him to come back, but I didn't.  In the meantime, he discovered that although he actually could manage a simple life all by himself, it wasn't the kind of life he wanted.  I actually was significantly happier without him, because suddenly a huge amount of stress was gone.  The break away from living with him did me a lot of good.  But I didn't want to throw away 30 years of investment in our marriage, if it could be salvaged, either.  My husband's counselor suggested we have formal, scheduled meetings several times a week.  My husband made concerted, genuine efforts to listen, to be considerate of me, to stop excusing himself, and for the most part he succeeded.  There were behaviors on my part that were problems too -- I am fundamentally an angry and impatient person -- and I had to learn to give that up to a significant degree, because they really just made things worse.  I used to feel that I had to scream in order to stand up for myself, because that seemed to be the only thing that used to get my husband's attention.  I had to learn more effective ways to get through to him.  These formal meetings were really instrumental in the communication process, in two ways -- they forced him to focus his attention on our discussions, just like a business meeting, and they removed the important, weightier discussions from everyday interactions, so our other conversation could be more casual and pleasant.  (Since my husband could never tell whether a topic was important or casual, this was a great boon to him.  It was hard at first for me to learn to "save up" discussion points for a formal meeting, but I got the hang of it after a while.)

It has all been a lot of work -- but who ever said I was entitled to an easy life?  But in the end we have achieved the results we wanted.  Our separation lasted a little less than a year, and we've continued to work on our issues since we got back together.  We communicate a lot better.  We fight a lot less.  I don't know if I made the right choices, but where we are now is pretty good, all things considered.  I don't mean to say he doesn't do anything irritating anymore!  (Or me, either, for that matter . . .)  But it's no more than the average married couple, I would say.

You say in your post that a kind and loving woman would be more understanding.  What it sounds like you mean is rather that a kind and loving woman would be more tolerant and forgiving -- I don't think I would agree with that.  Toleration and forgiveness for wrongs is exactly what I think is *not* called for.  A genuine mistake after a sincere effort deserves to be overlooked if it is not chronic, but if a person with ADD is going to take on a "normal" (i.e. non-disabled) lifestyle with the responsibilities that are intrinsic to having a family, and expects all the perks and privileges that come with it, then they have to do their share of the work to make it work for everybody, not just for them.  Just because a person has ADD does not excuse them from knowing the difference between right and wrong -- it may be tougher for the ADDer to see the consequences of their actions, but once they are told, there's no reason they cannot have the moral rectitude to set wrongs right.  I do think, however, that a true understanding of how your spouse experiences thinking and feeling can be very helpful in dealing with ADD -- that kind of understanding I support.  Of course, that does require a certain amount of communication from your spouse.

Have you contemplated any kind of joint counseling?  My husband and I did this at various points and it did help us focus our efforts better.  Also, my husband has always been much more willing to accept inconvenient truths from a professional counselor than from his mere wife.

I don't know if this answers any of your questions, or helps in any way -- there are other posts on this forum that may provide better answers, I urge you to read the site thoroughly, there is a lot of collective insight.  Good luck!

thank you, Arwen

Thank you so much, Arwen.  Your posts are always so encouraging and so peaceful.  You give me a lot of hope.  I'm a fairly crabby person myself, to be honest and a lot of the problem is that I don't have the patience right now to give him the constant positive reinforcement that he thinks he needs.  Now it's a lot of yelling that if I was really studying ADHD and if I was really understanding what I read, that I would understand how to treat him so he would be nice to me.  I just don't buy it.

I do need to be nicer.  I do need to be more patient.  I don't think I need to bend over backwards to accommodate for his favorite new disability.  Couples counseling is something that needs to happen.  In the meantime, I think I will take some of the wonderful ideas from this site and I will learn how to be happy. Starting with learning who exactly I am and who I want to be.  :)

Silly to feel kinship from a forum, but I'm very glad not to be alone in this.

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

I just found this site after looking at other subjects on this web site. WOW! I totally know and have felt the frustration this woman has been feeling. My husband and I have been married 24 years and he was just diagnosed with adult add/adhd a year ago. We've been separated the past two years, not because it was planned, but because it was a job change after finishing a PhD.( to a different state) I stayed behind to fix up and sell our old house, which took almost a year. We had been having marriage trouble for several years, but I couldn't get him to acknowledge the fact that WE needed help. He found other things to blame such as work, other people, whatever, etc. We were still apart and I found out that he had been having an affair with a much younger woman,(from a letter she had written) and that's when he finally went in for counseling and was diagnosed. I was suspicious for a while, which he totally denied by calling her "just a kid", and how dare I think of such a thing. He DID feel really bad and guilty about the whole thing, but didn't stop the affair until just recently when WE got back together.He didn't tell her that we had been planning (several months) on getting back together again. She now wants nothing to do with him. (he says) It was more an emotional affair than a sexual one. He has always had sexual "difficulties" which he again always blamed on someone else. The difficulty with being intimate with me got blamed on his former girlfriends, and then with the OW, he blamed on me.(saying we made him feel bad about himself sexually) Also, he interprets an affair as ONLY having physical intercourse. He doesn't believe that you can have an affair by giving another person the things that you need to be giving your spouse. In the meantime, he was still telling me that he wanted the marriage to work, and wanted to get back together, but he "needed time to get his head together". I gave him his "time". Plus, the doctor also put him on Concerta, which DOES help him focus much better on things he needs to do. He's noticed a big difference and so have I. The big problem now is trying to put the relationship back together again. He kept begging me to come back, and now that I have, he is still keeping his distance and not keeping his word on what he kept promising. He's telling me that I have to do more things by myself, and do my own thing. But, we were living like roomates for so many years before, AND I DON'T want to do that again. I've learned and read a LOT about adult add/adhd, and it has helped me understand what was happening so many times. The forgetfulness, lost keys, being late for everything, lack of sex, a seeminly disinterest in me or what I'm doing, other people getting angry at his "attitude", the impulsiveness,the anger and thoughtless things that he would say that hurt me and others, and of course all the disastrous financial decisions because he HAD to have something that we could not afford. Picking up after him was a full-time job, and if there were ANY clean table tops in the house, they were soon covered with tons of papers, odds and ends, etc. He started at the front door and dropped everything where ever it landed, shoes first, a belt on the door-knob, his coat on the kitchen chair, papers on the counter, stuff all the way to the bedroom and around the house to his office and back. Plus, he moves like a whirlwind. He runs through the house instead of walking and everything has to be done in a hurry. He gets bored VERY fast, and has to leave wherever we are at if he thinks it's been too long.(even if it's just a couple of minutes) To him a couple of minutes doing something he doesn't want to do is agony, but he can spend hours on his computer and doesn't know how much time has gone by. Projects were started all over the house, and I had to finish most all of them, with him taking credit for each "finished" one. Since the concerta, he is better at finishing projects. But moving back in with him, I am OVERWHELMED at the amount of unfinished stuff in every room, and the house is very dirty.I'm not getting upset about it, but I am hiring a cleaning person to come and help me clean it up. I know much of that now was the adhd, but the affair and many of his coping skills are not. It is very, very frustrating for me to deal with all the years of the undiagnosed adhd, the affair, and now trying to get back a relationship that has been damaged so. I've learned to detach from him much more than I ever was, which has been good, but I don't want to re-invest in this fully again if he is not making a decision to put "everything he can" into this. His conversations are now peppered with "I just don't know", "We may have to make some hard decisions here", "I don't know if I can do this", just the opposite of what he was saying on the phone while begging me to come back. He says he doesn't want to hurt anyone, which is something that I keep reading about that many add/adhd'ers say. It seems to be a common trait, but people still get hurt, and I need more help to get through this very difficult time. As of right now, I don't know WHAT is going to happen, and it is so hard to disengage from all the emotional stuff happening. It is one thing to know it in your head and another to feel it in your heart. I'm still having difficulty getting my head out of my heart and vice-versa. I'm getting better at understanding how he can also let so many things go emotionally, when he unloads all his anger and frustration all over me then him feeling better, and me having felt dumped on with tons of emotional junk. But to him, that's not emotional, but if I act react in anger or sadness with crying he can't deal with my "being emotional" as he calls it. It is hard for me to stay in a "non-emotional" state at all times with no show of any kind of emotion. It feels as if I am being a phony person and can't be my real self. Can anyone relate to that? I also need to de-stress. I myself had baggage before the marriage and was stressed, but not to the degree that it became after living with him being at his worst with the adhd. My husband is now blaming the fact that he can't re-connect with me because of my being stressed. AAHHHHHHH! I want him to take more responsibility for the relationship and stop blaming. To me, I can become whatever, but I don't think it will ever be enough if he can not plug in to a relationship period. He hasn't had a successful intimate relationship that I know of. (one that didn't end badly) I need more positive information because there doesn't seem to be too much hope for long term relationships. I know this sounds so negative. I wasn't a negative person, and after living with my husband and his adhd family, all the negativite and cynical attitudes became my attitude and I don't like it. I want this to be different but am struggling as to how to change with still so much uncertainty hanging overhead. I would feel much better if I could get an absolute yes or no decision from him. YES, he is going to work as hard as he can towards this or NO, he can't do it and lets move on seperately. I've already told him what I want and need and it is the same thing that I was saying from the first day, but I can't get a definite answer from him. This is frustrating me even more. I know he feels like a failure and doesn't want to make another mistake, but I believe he HAS to decide one way or another. The indecision has been tearing me apart and I can't seem to move on with my life until a definite decision gets made. He wants me to move on with my life, and doesn't understand that our lives are intertwined. I can't move on without knowing which direction we are actually moving in. Does this make sense at all? Dede

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

Ran across this site & post while searching for some help. I too can relate! The first time I met my husband of 12 years, I asked him if he was on Ritilin as a kid. After an hour of talking to him, it was apparant he was ADHD to me (a layperson). He was on ritilin as a kid but his mother disagreed with the meds and took him off. Since then he's not and categorically refuses to even so much as consider any meds for his ADHD. Our marriage has been going downhill for a long time. It is now at the point where if we didn't have a piece of paper I'd not really consider us married. We have one child together and that is my main reason, at this point, for staying. I'm at my wits end, frustrated with talking myself blue in the face and being complete ignored or having him explode and yell at me. I've told him over and over that I cannot be a full time business partner, housewife, mother, caregiver (he has a spinal cord injury and is partially paralyzed) all at the same time and I feel as if I'm about to crack. We own 2 businesses. With all of this going on, the ONLY thing he does is buy and sell the merchandise. He can't handle a checkbook, can't spell, can't can't can't is all I hear. 60% of the time he's not home and at work. If he does come home, he immediately lays on the sofa and sleeps most times for the rest of the night, spending no time with his family. He also NEVER lifts a finger in the house. I don't expect him to clean but he could pick up after himself, not to mention the maintanence. I feel like the house is falling down around me - things are breaking left and right - and he won't lift a finger to fix one of them. It is like pulling teeth to even get him to come home and spend any time at all home. If he's not working, he's not happy unless he's going somewhere - taking my son out, etc. I've gotten to the point where going anywhere with him is so stressful that I bow out most of the time. Everything has to be a RUSH with him. Even if were just going to the local Chili's for dinner and not on any time frame, we have all night, if I'm not ready and waiting at the front door the second he pulls in from work he has a fit and starts ranting and raving. Also, if I'm not ready the second he comes to pick us up, he won't do anything to help speed up the process so we can leave. He will stand around and do nothing but yell and scream about how we had all day to get ready when he could be dressing my son, getting him latched in the car or otherwise helping us to get out the door. Even when we go to do something relaxing, he's in a rush. I just can't relax around him at all. I'm always the one trying to come up with solutions. I'm always the one trying to fix the problems and I'm always either ignored, yelled at, laughed at or ridiculed. Our family doctor came right out and asked me the last time I saw him, "how long are you going to put up with this?". Obviously, I don't want to leave him, or I wouldn't be here typing this post. I want to find a way to actually get through to him. I want to find a way for him to actually hear me. I feel like if he just listened and actually gave one of my solutions a real try we might be able to work this out. I think I could get my love back for him, although right now I feel void and emotionless and if I feel anything at all it's usually resentment, anger, frustration... I'm also worried about my husband's ADHD effecting my son. Recently we took him to a function and although he doesn't display any symptoms of ADD yet (he's 5) I'm worried that my husband could push him to it. I noticed when we were at this function, he wouldn't even let my son finish anything! We were at a craft table and my son was making a craft. After just two minutes my husband was rushing him to put it in his goodie bag and he could finish it at home so they could move on to something else. All night long my husband would do this. As soon as my son got interested in something my husband would tear him away from it to do something else. So I guess my main question to those who are reading this and have experiences similar to mine is: How do you communicate and actually get through to someone who has ADHD? AND Will my husband's ADHD behavior that he is forcing on my son make my son more prone to ADHD? Concerned in CT

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

To Just Surviving: Yikes! I was going to congratulate you on your ability to send him a letter, and that he responded so positively...only to have you come back and write that the two of you had gotten into it yet again! Sigh. You two must get out of the communication pattern that you are in. Since you can't control how he communicates, you're going to have to start it from your side. While this may seem like more of the same to you - always having to pick up the pieces for him, it isn't -here's why: You are clearly extremely angry (and it is easy to understand how the frustrations in your relationship have led to this.) You don't have to TALK to him to let him know exactly how you are feeling - and you acknowledge this when you note that you have become a "non-verbal communicator". I don't know if your husband had low self esteem when you married him, but I can tell you that even the most confident person in the world(ADD or not) can lose much of his self-confidence when the person he loves most is always mad at him and telling him he is inadequate, which you clearly are. You have to figure out how to stop communicating this in both verbal AND non-verbal ways. I can't tell you how to do it, but you seem pretty creative and thoughtful from what you've written...He is being defensive because he is being attacked. That is human nature. Your assignment: figure out how to express your needs without attacking him. Humor might help. Certainly having these conversations in person will help - that way you can hold his hand, give him a hug and other positive physical signals that can help alleviate some of the pain of what you are saying. Also, please start reading about how to get your anger under control. I found that "Dare to Forgive" by Dr. Hallowell was very important for me. I also found "You Don't Have to Take it Any More" by Steven Stosny was also helpful (talks, among other things, about the long-lasting chemical effects that resentment causes in the brain - very interesting). Pick a couple of important ideas and start there. It seems as if he was surprised at your assertion that meds were a real help to you, not just him. See if you can focus in on his taking his meds regularly, understanding that this is only a starting point. Meds will not fix your problems, but they may give him a greater ability to work more effectively at strategies that will help you with your problems. Perhaps a second area would be focusing on how the two of you communicate. This doesn't mean you tell him how to communicate. Rather, the two of you sit down and explore what works and what doesn't work in how you communicate. Do you need to set up a cue for "time outs"? Are there times of the day that are better or worse? Should you save issues about ADD for when he's home? If you did, what would that do to your precious time together? Do you need to take timed turns voicing your complaints (a way to prioritize and focus your thoughts) etc. As for "DR"s post. She did leave, and it sounds as if it was the right thing for her to do - marriage is hard enough without going into it knowing that the person you are with is likely to depress you and cause long-term financial issues! But she still doesn't sound happy...rather conflicted, actually, about her decision. "DR" - is that correct, or did I misread your words?

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

Ok...he read my letter and wasn't upset with me and how and what I expressed in regards to where I am emotionally in our relationship and some wants/needs of mine. I did say in the letter not to call me to discuss this over the phone, because that kind of communication tends to become misconstrude. He briefly mentioned it on our 1st phone conversation and was relieved it wasn't a "dear john" letter of sorts and kind of chuckled about how I worded some of my "wants". I was just thankful he wasn't expressing any offense to my wording of my needs. The 2nd phone conversation of the day started off ok, but of course we can't let sleeping dogs lie so we had to talk about the letter again. Figuring that he was ok with it and in general agreement with it I went along with his discussion of it....BIG Mistake! He talked about certain things in the letter and I elaborated..*dumb dumb me*. Then he got defensive and wanted to go into detail about his medicine, counseling, what I do when I distance myself from him, etc..well if that didn't slam the door on me wanting to talk to him. So he just did exactly what I told him I don't like. I know he's just scared with all the uncertainity of whether I'm in or out, but jimminey cricket! can't he just give US a break?!?!?! His stinkin low self esteem and his fear is suffocating the crud out of me. I don't think he has to worry about me verbally making him feel like a failure or verbally abusing him. I have become more of a non verbal communicator over the years. Besides I don't like hurting his feelings and that's my weakness...I don't "bop" him upside the head with the truth or how I feel. I beat around the bush as a natural instinct. I would just rather not talk to him right now. When we discussed Counseling (which was his idea originally)he found that offensive, because he kept trying to run the scenerio out in his head before it even happens and he thinks because I'm stressed easily then all the counseling and house projects, etc... will put me over the deep end....WHAT?!?!? I just told him I didn't want him "winging" us anymore and seeing as the counseling was originally his idea I was willing to give that a shot seeing as we have tried everything else. I felt like we obviously do not have the skills that are appropriate to navigate our relationship into a workable, healthy state, he does however, so I figure a 3rd party to referee and navigate our communication btwn. the two of us would be beneficial. I did say I wanted him to try and initiate the appointment, but that I would prob. try as well just so I knew that I tried everything possible as well and so as not to blame him if he didn't follow through. That didn't go over well either!!!! Geesh!!! And he wants to know why I'd rather be on my laptop googling rather than lay in bed with him or snugle all over him. That's another story in itself. SEX, SEX, SEX!!! there is more to life than that right???? Impulsivity! Got a thought have to act on it! The lady who previously commented "DR" seems to feel that leaving gave her sanity. Even though I feel I'm almost to that point I think I came to this site to find a possible working solution to co-exhist with an adhd partner. I know it's possible, but I also know statistically these marriages have a high percentage of failure. Ok..I'm done with the venting.

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

I can relate so much to what this woman is struggling with. I was engaged to a man who was diagnosed by one doctor with ADD but didn't want to accept the diagnosis and got offended when it was suggested that he try some medication. Four years later after our relationship basically completely fell apart because I couldn't take the procrastination, avoidance, chaos, irresponsibility, etc. etc. anymore, I left. Actually I left when after meeting with both his doctor and mine and then asking for counseling for us both with his doctor and being denied, I realized I was up against something far bigger than I was able to handle. She doesn't feel he needs medication even though she believes he has "some of the symptoms of ADD, some of the symptoms of clinical depression and some of the symptoms of anxiety disorder". He has been working with her for over a year now. I do recognize that he is at least working with a doctor, but I'm not sure she is the one who can really make a difference for us as a couple since she is unwilling to have him at least try the medications. I thought at least trying them would help to get things under control so he could start to get a handle on "his lists" which are endless pieces of paper floating all over the house in piles so big they are too heavy for me to move so I just try and clean around them. I too ended up going on antidepressants to cope with the situation which I ended up feeling was hopeless. It is only since I have left that I think the reality of the situation has started to sink in. I have gotten my own life back under control and on track and now don't want to go back to living like that again. I know realistically, there will be some things that will always be "different" like maybe he will never be the one to initiate taking a vacation or make plans for a night out, but I could accept that if I thought at least he was going to get up and go to work in the morning on a regular basis so that we could not always be worried about paying the bills. He hadn't worked a regular job with a 40 hour week paycheck since I'd known him so I knew he had issues with the work thing before, but I never realized how little he had done to take care of basic things like bringing home a paycheck and handle who carries the insurance on his home until after we were well into this relationship. These things had always been done for him either by a family member or his former spouse. I was never willing to take those things over after living on my own for 12 years prior to meeting him so we have always kept our finances separate. I could never understand how he could just let things go to a crisis stage and then get on the phone and call someone to bail him out. He has been better about bringing money in over the last 6 months, but only because his family finally cut him off and I refused to help him keep afloat. Now I understand it is all part of the irresponsibility that goes along with the chaos piece of things and then leads to the poor self esteem etc. As I learn more and more about how the ADD mind functions, I have more empathy for him, I just don't know if I have the strength to overlook and cope with what always seems to be such a struggle just to deal with everyday life. So, we are apart mainly for me to regain my strength and I have left the rest to him. I don't know if that's the way to handle it, but I too am tired.

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

I can relate so much to what this woman is struggling with. I was engaged to a man who was diagnosed by one doctor with ADD but didn't want to accept the diagnosis and got offended when it was suggested that he try some medication. Four years later after our relationship basically completely fell apart because I couldn't take the procrastination, avoidance, chaos, irresponsibility, etc. etc. anymore, I left. Actually I left when after meeting with both his doctor and mine and then asking for counseling for us both with his doctor and being denied, I realized I was up against something far bigger than I was able to handle. She doesn't feel he needs medication even though she believes he has "some of the symptoms of ADD, some of the symptoms of clinical depression and some of the symptoms of anxiety disorder". He has been working with her for over a year now. I do recognize that he is at least working with a doctor, but I'm not sure she is the one who can really make a difference for us as a couple since she is unwilling to have him at least try the medications. I thought at least trying them would help to get things under control so he could start to get a handle on "his lists" which are endless pieces of paper floating all over the house in piles so big they are too heavy for me to move so I just try and clean around them. I too ended up going on antidepressants to cope with the situation which I ended up feeling was hopeless. It is only since I have left that I think the reality of the situation has started to sink in. I have gotten my own life back under control and on track and now don't want to go back to living like that again. I know realistically, there will be some things that will always be "different" like maybe he will never be the one to initiate taking a vacation or make plans for a night out, but I could accept that if I thought at least he was going to get up and go to work in the morning on a regular basis so that we could not always be worried about paying the bills. He hadn't worked a regular job with a 40 hour week paycheck since I'd known him so I knew he had issues with the work thing before, but I never realized how little he had done to take care of basic things like bringing home a paycheck and handle who carries the insurance on his home until after we were well into this relationship. These things had always been done for him either by a family member or his former spouse. I was never willing to take those things over after living on my own for 12 years prior to meeting him so we have always kept our finances separate. I could never understand how he could just let things go to a crisis stage and then get on the phone and call someone to bail him out. He has been better about bringing money in over the last 6 months, but only because his family finally cut him off and I refused to help him keep afloat. Now I understand it is all part of the irresponsibility that goes along with the chaos piece of things and then leads to the poor self esteem etc. As I learn more and more about how the ADD mind functions, I have more empathy for him, I just don't know if I have the strength to overlook and cope with what always seems to be such a struggle just to deal with everyday life. So, we are apart mainly for me to regain my strength and I have left the rest to him. I don't know if that's the way to handle it, but I too am tired.

re: ADHD Marriage: Do I Stay or Leave?

Thank you for a wonderful, encouraging response. I believe you are right on about the checking out or staying mindset. I will try not to play the parent role. I have tried that before, but it usually ends up right where I'm at now...angry and distant from my husband. I sat down and wrote my husband a 3 page typed letter about where I was in our marriage and why I am behaving the way that I am as well as what I am expecting from him and our marriage. Suprisingly he wasn't upset or defensive about what I wrote. He said he didn't realize that the medication really helped me cope with him. He also added that when he read that statement I wrote that he was thinking....she has told me about 4 or 5 times to go see the Dr. and try to alternate my medication so that I can give my hip/skin a break.... So you are right in the regards that they don't really realize what impact their actions have on others. I told him he really is TOOOOO much for me and he kind of thinks it's funny and we try to keep that on the humourous side so not to have feelings of rejection flying around. Anyway, thank you again and I will work on your suggestions. :0)