ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

We received this question from a reader:

"How can an ADHD affected spouse get a job and hold it to earn a living if he cannot find his keys/wallet/cellphone etc? How can a spouse NOT be tired out by repeated same scenarios of disorder and chaos repeatedly discussed and never changing?"

These are questions that cut to the heart of the long-term ADHD relationship.  I would like to address the non-ADHD spouse first, then circle back to the ADHD spouse.

There is no doubt that living with a person with chronic symptoms of ADHD can be exhausting and difficult.  You want for your spouse to do well and live a life that is not plagued by things that hurt him.  You also want to be in a position where you are not always in charge of cleaning up the mess.  If he can’t get a job, you feel greater pressure to support the two of you.  If he can’t find his car keys, you feel the need to help him so he can get out the door for his next appointment.  If your house is in constant disarray, you may be bothered by the overwhelming nature of the clutter.  You didn’t think, when you married him, that this is what you had signed on for.

What would happen if you thought about your relationship somewhat differently?  Presumably, he had these same tendencies before you were married, and the two of you loved being with each other enough that you decided to get married.  How did you (and, more importantly, he) deal with the issues then?  How did he find his car keys then?  How did you manage the piles everywhere?  Was he employed?  In what sort of job?  What was your attitude towards his inconsistencies way back when?

Let me give you some ideas that come from my own relationship.  As the spouse of an ADHD person, I found that during our marriage my expectations changed about how we should “be together”.  Perhaps it was the long-term nature of the marriage commitment that did it, perhaps it was that my husband had been on his best behavior while we were dating and first living together (aren’t we all?!), perhaps it was the addition of children to the mix.  In any event, I found that I was more frustrated with his behavior once the knot was tied than I had been before.  It took me many, many years to identify that change and determine that this wasn’t really fair and was destructive to our relationship.  By focusing on my husband’s shortcomings, rather than on his strengths, I was creating an environment in which he “failed” to meet my expectations more and more often.  This created a downward spiral for our relationship – he did something irritating, I respond negatively, he resented my response and therefore had no incentive to stop the behavior and did it again, I responded again.

I do not know if you are in this cycle or not, but if you are, please take a hard look at whether or not you are able to lovingly accept him as he is.  He is behaving in a way that is not in the best interests of your relationship right now, but there is a person under that behavior that was someone you fell in love with.  See if you can get back in touch with the positives you loved so dearly before.

Note that I am NOT saying that you are responsible for your husband’s inability to organize himself.  But it is easier for him to TALK about change than to try to DO change when he is, somewhere inside, a bit afraid of failing again in the eyes of someone he loves.

That said, let’s address the ADHD spouse.  It is very important for you to learn more and more about his ADHD and about how you (the ADD spouse) might manage it.  The learning and talking is exciting!  BUT, talking is NOT the same thing as doing, for either you or your partner.  People with ADHD CAN AND DO learn how to organize themselves.  Sometimes their solutions are very creative, sometimes they involve outside people, lots of post-it notes or other tools.  For some couples, the solution is to separate out their assets (and sometimes even living arrangements) so that they are not so entangled.  Often solutions to ADHD problems include medications that help with memory and focus.

You need to internalize the fact that if you want your relationship with your wife to last, it is your responsibility to take some action – sooner rather than later.  Small signs of real progress are extremely encouraging to a non-ADD spouse.  These signs don’t have to be big things, but they do have to happen in order for her to not become overwhelmed by her frustration.  Talk with her about this:  If you two had to focus on changing one thing first, what would that thing be?  How could you do it?  What kind of support and encouragement would you like to see from her?  How will you know when you’ve reached your goal and can start on something else?  What is it that you must DO (not talk about or learn about)?  Try to take as little time as possible talking - perhaps 10 minutes if you can manage it - to discuss these questions with your spouse.  THEN, DO some of the changes.  It is just simply not enough to talk.

It is important that you continue to learn about ADHD and about yourself, and the learning points you on the road to being better able to manage your ADHD.  But, for your spouse, it is the DOING, not the learning, that is the help.  She is living everyday with what you DO, not what you THINK.  If you can figure out the tactics that work for you to meet her a bit more in the middle, you will provide her the hope that she needs to be able to start to accept you and your progress more actively.  Her sense of hope is just as critical to your success as a couple as your ability to manage your ADD.  Without action, you crush her hope and she then becomes an additional part of your problem.

I get the impression that you love each other, and are trying to move ahead.  The non-ADD spouse needs to remind herself of the positive (perhaps thinking back to the beginnings of the relationship) and try to put herself into a mindset to let go of the irritations as much as possible in an effort to smooth out the day-to-day.  The ADD husband needs to start narrowing his focus to make some small victories that the two of you can celebrate together. Perhaps then you’ll both be able to gain some much-needed hope that will point you in the direction you wish to travel together.

As for the job issue, not all jobs need one to be super-organized.  If you can afford to do so, consider trying to get some small victories at home first that will provide you both with a more optimistic outlook, then think creatively about his field of expertise to see if there are previously unexplored options that you can add to your job search that might better match his skill set.  A career counselor could probably help you with this, as well as polishing his resume in a way that downplays the number of jobs he may already have held.

Readers, do you have these issues?  What are your experiences?  How have you managed?  We enjoy hearing from you - feel free to post your comments and questions.


contempt in marriage - non ADD spouse

Melissa - my husband has recently separated from me, he has accomodated his life style drastically to compensate for my ADD (diagnosed 5 years ago for academic puposes not knowing the social ramifications) tendencies and is tired of not having a life free of accomodations.  At first we continued to live in the same house to co-parent our children and we were getting along rather well.  On the request of my recent Psychiatrist we were directed to a marriage therapist - she identified as my husband having contempt therefore was unable provide us any assitance to fix our marriage.  Since that visit my husband has become very angry and will start an argument with me for anything.  We never did argue during our 12 year marriage.  He has since moved out and we are just starting a visitation agreement.  Why is he so terribly angry and hostile towards me, also can the contempt be remedied - is there hope?

Tired out

Not sure if this made it to the right post however, my wife is adhd. We met 6 years ago, both in our mid to late 50's. Has been a ride for me as the non. As I look back, we met at a time in her life, she had been divorced for several years and was excited to be in our relationship and actually I was excited....she was pursuing me and I loved it. I was at the center of her universe and I was on fire. We married within 1 year and 6 months later it started was my first experience with her becoming distracted by any and everything in her view. Initially she would call and say she was on her way home and 2 hours later I call and she stopped 5 or 6 places on the way home and within another 2 months she was not there emotionally and physically. I found I was in a marriage and was completely alone. I would try and talk to her about this and she could not fathom what I was saying. Next, she withdrew 100% from our marriage and took on activities, excessive work hours and to the non adhd, she started not sleeping, waking up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts, would shower and leave for work at dawn and by the end of the day, she had so many things stacked up she couldnt possibly do and runs till she collapses, gets a good  night sleep and starts the same running all over again.

This has affected our marriage negatively for sure. Initially of course as the non, I am logically thinking we should approach marriage counseling, and we did, and 3 counselors later, it is out of control. We could not get to the root because she could not seem to deal with concepts and any type of action plan. The light bulb finally went off last week for me that her adhd has to be contributing to our problems and it isn't basic marriage counseling. The flag here is, her family has a history of mental illness, her children also have add and adhd and a father that also is bipolar. Now, with that said, guys can deal with most anything....and I know she did not have a choice in her adhd however, I feel she can take ownership in it and embrace dealing with it. This affects her in every aspect of her life......her business is in constant chaos 24/7 and does not recognize what I refer to as the "trail of dead bodies" left behind. Her close relationships are in constant turmoil. The superficial relationships that do not require nurturing remain strong because an investment of her is not necessary. People in those types of relationships only see the hyperfocused, cunning, entertaining and all about you at the moment personality. 

I moved out 6 months almost 60.....I am worn out and alone and still am committed to our marriage and yesterday asked her to join me to deal with her adhd with the psychiatrist she went to 8 months ago, was diagnosed and precribed medication and to this day has refused to move forward. I am hoping and praying she continues that process with me and she gets stable enough to work on our marriage.




I feel horrible inside, but at the same time Im so done

So what can I say. I  have been married for 8 years almost 9. I loved my wife so much when I met her in college. I loved her enthusiasm, love of life, excitement and especially her eyes (Im practically crying as I write this first sentence).  Im 34 and the non-ADHD husband. I am so confused in my life right now I dont even know what to write. My wife has ADHD, didnt realize thats what she had until just a few days ago. I am the organized one in the family, I love to research and when someone asks me something I dont know the answer too, I am the first to "google" it. The biggest fight we have hve in our marriage since almost the beginning is her disorganization. She makes piles faster than I can clean them (which I have stopped doing) Im so confused now as to whats "normal" now. I feel like I am the over domineering husband who wants a Mary Poppins Wife (which she refers to me as wanting all the time) Is it so much to ask someone to pick up after themself? I mean I ask my kids to do it and they do it. Why cant she?? I started researching about a year ago "Hoarding" and "Chronic Disorganization" because I thought thats what she had. The house was not at "Hoarding" level but there are dfinet signs of this happening. Then for someone reason I decided to research ADHD just a few days ago. OMG!! I hit the nail on the coffin. Just today I was talking to her sister who knows our marriage is going downhill and I asked her if my wife had ever been diagnosed with ADHD and she told me she was as a kid. I know this is what she has!! Things are so bad in out marriage. About 7 months ago I finally "Gave Up" on her. I am so sick of the mess and constant piles, but as I have been distant from my wife I have been learning about other issues I  did not realize was an issue. Simple things like having a partner in a marriage and not another "Child" which is how I feel. I was talking to a bunch of guy friends and they were talking about how their wifes wash their clothes for them. Man I have no idea even what thats like. I told them I  do my own laundry because there is no way in HE__ she is going to do  it. It was not until just about 3 years ago when we had a "Huge" fight and gave her, her first consistent task. Shopping groceries and cooking. That is the only thing she has as of now its she does it "ok" just today we went to the grocery store and we were about to start shopping and I ask her were her list is and yeah "I dont have one". Just another blow to my heart.  She cooks maybe 2 times a week, sometimes less but I think she does it out of fear of me "blowing up" and getting mad at her. She is off for the summer since she is a teacher and it would be nice to be able to at least come home to a meal ready to eat. Yeah again I feel like some over bearing husband asking too much of her. I  dont even know what normal is in a marriage, or what I should "at least" expect from my spouse. So where am I now in all this? Now I know she has a problem, something she may not be able to control. So what do I do now??  First I need to talk to her and let her know that I think her ADHD is the problem, do I want too? No I am so sick of her I dont even want to look at her. Second, once I talk to her and hope she is receptive and gets diagnosed, so what happens if the doctor says she does not have ADHD? (then she is the worst and laziest most insensitive person I have every met) What if the diagnosis comes positive and she has ADHD? Right now I am so sick of all this I dont know if I want to try and go through a lifetime of feeling like I have a third child (I already have 2) I know I sound like a jerk and insensitive, but I  need to be honest about how I feel. I am so done with all this. The thing that kills me the most is I have 2 kids (girls) and I love them so much, but I know if my marriage ends she will get to keep them and I will be the jerk husband and father and possibly lose my relationship with them. OMG I am so confused in this, I cant believe it has turned into this. I welcome criticism and help and advise.

Pink's picture

First... write in a small

First... write in a small Paragraph.  - I have a husband with ADD and it seem that you have been taking the job responsibility where she is not good with. It doesn't matter what her problem called.

I will just do what you do for the girls. I am in with him for my two kids a boy and a girl. We are in counseling and he take medicine and he is not working and I have 3 kids in the house. But I am doing this for the kids. As the kids grow up and move on... then if he doesn't change then, I have to move on. But at least I know I gave my kids a normal home with a farther and a mother in the house.

I don't know which is harder...

being the non-ADD husband or the non-ADD wife. We both deal with the same issues, but socialized gender roles make it difficult for us in different ways.

I am the non-ADD wife. As I began to take on more and more responsibilities as we had one child, then two, my husband kind of brushed it off like, "Well, you're the mom. Moms just do more." P.S., I am also working full-time, so I was like WHAT THE [email protected]$%! IS THIS 1950? Even now, I struggle with what is "really" the problem coming from ADD because, truth be told, a lot of my female friends who are married to non-ADD husbands have similar marriage issues -- unequal division of housework, responsible for the "mental" work (keeping track of groceries, diapers, etc.), responsible for scheduling and planning, always the ones to pack for the kids, etc. Maybe it's just a matter of degree. Then again, I notice that they do always mention that their non-ADD husband is responsible for "man" stuff -- the automobiles, trash, home repairs, mowing the lawn, etc. In my house, if I'm not doing these things myself, I still have to keep track of it all and either give my husband specific assignments even in these areas, or take the initiative to call someone to do it.

This post helps me see that it actually might be harder for the non-ADD husband, because as you said, your attempts to reign in the effects of ADD make you look like a jerk husband who's trying to get your wife to do "women's work."  That really sucks, because as someone on the same side as you, I know that's not what you are doing.  It's probably easier for her to create a narrative that you are trying to make her fit some stereotypical gender role, and thereby not take responsibility for her actions.  That really, really sucks. 

I wish I had some good advice for you but it seems like the first thing is to go get a diagnosis.  If she had it as a kid that's probably what it is now.  Once that happens, she will hopefully get enough self-awareness to start looking around and seeing her actions for the first time.  Unfortunately, without this self-awareness, in my opinion, there is no way that your spouse will want to change, and unless she wants to, nothing will change.  We can't make people change, it has to come from within themselves.

BTW, I don't think it is a foregone conclusion that your wife would get to keep the kids.  You're right that it's probably very, very biased in her favor (another way that our socialized gender roles, which assumes that the "mother" is in the primary caretaker role, works against us as a society).  But ultimately the courts look at the best interests of the child.  There are instances where courts have removed children from homes that have serious hoarding issues (usually it's when it's a hazard to the child, because of the filth -- not sure whether your wife would let it get to that degree).  Another thing is that they will look at who has been the primary caregiver in the home -- which means that if you have been the one feeding them, scheduling their appointments, taking them to school, giving them a bath, etc. etc., you can make that argument.  I would talk to a lawyer, but if you are the main one involved in their care, which it sounds like you probably are, you would have a good case.

I hope it doesn't get to that point -- as I said, a diagnosis can change everything (though trust me, it will happen VERY slowly).  I feel your pain and am sorry that you are carrying so much of the load.

Thanks so much

Yes I do feel that way, like I'm some horrible husband that wants to have his wife barefoot and pregnant. Just to go back to the old day which I still feel applies today Woman want to feel secure and Men want to feel appreciated. I am a "acts of service" kind of guy. That's how I show love so doing things like chores and cleaning has never been hard for me so you can imagine how hard it is hitting me that I get none of that type of love in return. Now for the last few months I have completely stopped cleaning up after her, I only deal with the kids mess. Now once in a great while especially recently she has attempted to clean a few areas of the house but we are talking like a bathroom counter that took her 4 months to finally clear off. I know I'm supposed to be encouraging but guess what. Its right back to what it was already and I knew it would get like that.  I have been disappointed so many times I don't even really care when she tries to clean. It never stays that way and even then she usually cleans it halfway and its left.

I dont know what to do except get a diagnosis, if she will even do that. But realizing that I am going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life really does not sound appealing at all. Do I even want to have a third adult child in my life? 

Concerning the kids, she is actually not that bad of a mother. We actually share in that aspect in dealing with them BUT some of the reasons I dont do the things she does is for example:

Clothing Them: I literally cant cloth them cause I cant ever find their clothes. Their drawers are piles of crap that have nothing to do with anything. I can never find socks, underwear. There are baskets in the hallway and I try and look there and most of the time I cant find anything. I get so frustrated. She being ADHD knows were they are and pulls their clothes from different locations and gets them dressed.

She can never sit still and it always on the go. She takes the kids with her and they love it. This part is really hard for me because she EXCESSIVELY goes out. Usually a weekend consists of at least 2 to 3 birthdays parties for the kids. Shopping 2 to 3 times and then misc things just so she can get out of the house. So I go to these things so that I can be part of the family but I eventually get tired of going out and want to stay home. So now I look like the bad father who does not want to hang out with their family. Its not fair that I get this persona even thought I know its normal to finally want to stay home. Just an example I live in Vegas and last weekend on Saturday it was 118F. VERY HOT I literally did not feel well from the heat. We were out driving doing some food shopping. We were supposed to go to a water park right after in mid day during the heat. (the kids almost daily go to some sort of water park) I told her it was way to hot for me to go out and I wanted to stay home. I have been to MANY water parks jus t that week alone. So she starts telling me how I suck as a father and blah blah blah... I go out all the time with her just so I dont look bad. Its frustrating.

I am going to talk to her in a few days. I am going to tell her that she needs to understand that One. I just realized that she was ADHD TWO: ADHD is a much more serious problem than just taking it lightly and THREE: that I want her to get diagnosed. I have decided that I am going to give her an ultimatum. If she does not want to get diagnosed that our marriage was over. I cant do it anymore. Even if she decides to get diagnosed I hope there is progress cause I will leave her as well if I don't see improvement. My kids are getting older and they are going to start realizing the problems we are having and I don't want them to go through that BUT knowing that there is a good chance they will stay with their mother and I will be the "Bad" father is killing me so much. I love them with all I have, I would do anything for my babies. (crying)


So we started marriage counseling, not sure if I really want to even go down this road. So as of now she was officially diagnosed as ADHD and come to find out she is also APD (Auditory Processing Disorder) which apparently she was diagnosed as a kid and did not tell me. Not sure if she did not tell me because she was scared I would break up with her but......either way I feel cheated. Im so pissed now. I feel like I was lied too. Please someone give me some more advice.

Miss Behaven's picture

A common misconception is

A common misconception is that ADD and APD are outgrown. Meaning by the time you are an adult, you don't have it any more. It is only in recent years that people have become aware that things like ADD and APD (and OCD to name another one) can carry on into adulthood. It is possible she had been told she would outgrown these things.

If you google APD its all about the kids who have it.

A common problem with having disorders like this is they are your normal, you have nothing to compare it to. So you may not really understand how much it affects you. Especially as you go through life surrounded by people who moralize your disorder. Basically because other people think you are just being a jerk, you start to belive you are a jerk. Which makes it difficult to think "hey maybe I'm not a jerk, maybe I have a mental illness or neurological disorder"

There is also the stigma and shame of having a disorder. Its easy to fall into denial of it. No one wants to be a "head case" or a "crazy person" ... its easier to accept that you are a lazy jerk with bad hearing than someone with a dysfunctional brain.

Also it is not uncommon for parents to not tell their diagnosed children anything about their illness. The child may know they are being tested at a doctors, maybe even given meds. But they are never given any real explanation. Some parent don't even tell the children the name of what they were diagnosed with. As a mother with an ADD child I see this all the time. Parents do this for many reasons, but basically many kids with issues have no idea what's wrong with them. At best they may over heard their parents talking with a doctor and that is all. They are left in the dark.

It is entirely possible your wife was never told anything about her APD, or that she was told she would out grow it. It is also possible she tried to deny and repress those memories as much as possible.

It is okay that she didn't tell you she had this diagnosis as a child? Probably not. But these things do happen.

Remember your wife was born cheated of a "normal brain" and a "normal life" ... and she is only really discovering that now. I know I may get yelled at for this, but ultimately she is much more cheated that you.


"Hyperactivity is like being forcibly injected with way too much crack-cocaine and then being tied down to a table and made to watch a documentary about sea snails." ~ Allie

yes I know, your right

"Remember your wife was born cheated of a "normal brain" and a "normal life" ... and she is only really discovering that now. I know I may get yelled at for this, but ultimately she is much more cheated that you."

I know your right, I had just found out when I wrote that earlier comment.

I'm just so confused as well, things have always been weird with us for 8 years. I felt like I didn't know what normal was anymore, I was very confused and thought that I was always wrong. I question every thought I had. Then all of a sudden I discover she has these issues. I feel horrible for her, its not her fault. But now I have to ask myself this question "Can I live with her for the rest of my life?" I have been living with it for 8 years now not realizing what it was and its been nothing but confusion and hell for me, I'm sure it was worse in her head that whole time too. Now I realize its 10 times harder for her to organize her thoughts than it is for me to organize the house. ADHD through training and meds can be helped (not cured of course), but do I want to force her to take meds?? She has never taken anything before. APD is permanent, through training as well she can learn to cope with it and do things to help her understand better, but overall there is nothing to help her in that. Its funny because as I have been learning about APD I have been noticing some articles that talk about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) link with it as well, and guess what I just found out. Her Father was diagnosed with BPD OMG!!! Now I am researching that to see if she exhibits some of those symptoms.  She tends to be a happy go lucky person BUT in 8 years we have never had a real deep conversation about each other or with each other. She tends to mask things in life. Wants to look good on the outside. I always described her as a firecracker. She blows up really fast at situations, but just as quickly can be fine and act like nothing happened. I never understood that side of her but just excepted it as that how she was. So I don't know what to expect as of right now, all I am doing is going to counseling and seeing what's uncovered. The more I go, the more I think it might have to end.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

I am so excited to read your book in regard to relationships---this is the main thing that is a struggle for me. It effects the intimacy issue because once my meds wear off, I feel too drained to even focus on anything. It comes across as not having interest in him, that is not the issue. I am just pooped---and it gives me anxiety that once again, I won't be alive enough to be "present". Is anyone else dealing with this? Also, I am late for everything and the piles in the house are out of control even when I attempt to control them.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

Dr. Hallowell, two questions speaking as an educator: 1. What specific articles would you recommend that I refer reluctant first grader's parents to read in regard to risks of NOT identifying ADHD issues.I am dumbfounded as to the number of people who won't medicate when it is a cut and dried case of "race car brain impulsivity" --the kind that seems to push everyone away and make grown-ups despize them even when we KNOW the real issue is ADHD.I see them being criminals in the future if we don't do something-- 2. When does a 504 plan become necessary? Why are so many kids allowed to slip through the cracks when ADHD has been diagnosed-and they are smart kids--who are failing middle school. What can we do to help these kids embrace their ADHD --accept it as not such a bad thing--but a different way their brains work??? I would very much appreciate if you sent a note of encouragement to a former student of mine: He is really struggling with his self esteem....he thinks he is a freak or something....his parents are trying to get him help and are waiting for an evaluation. The mother is a teacher as well and she is terrific with kids. It seems the average person sees ADHD as the same as believing in the tooth fairy. If you haven't raised a child with ADHD or been one yourself, you can't understand the struggle. How can we get your message out about the "race car brain" and help these kids embrace who they are? I am trying to be like your 1st grade teacher and be that "light" with my arm around these kids who can't read or who are not following me when I speak. But then they go on to the next grade---and life isn't prepared to put their arm around them and slow them down to help them think. They need your kind encouragement. Please send a note of to a boy named Max. He needs your help. He can't find his assignments even when he did them. He is starting to feel like he isn't the awesome kid that he is. Please send him some encouraging words--maybe tell him your story. I beg you to send him some hope: (Address taken out) Why does it have to be such a BAD thing to have this brain? It isn't the end of the world--it is just different and it is time teachers catch up on ADHD information. Can you write a book for kids -especially middle school kids?? They need your voice--they need your kindness and your positive twist about ADHD. I emailed you earlier when your daughter was about to graduate last spring. You responded to me and I appreciated it. I truly think you are a wonderful person. The same goes for Sari and all the others...your books have been such a help to me. Sincerely, Shawna

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

Speaking at an ADHD combination type Aderall/Effexor treated FEMALE who is also in menopause (due to cancer) who works with 22 first graders on a daily basis (5 NON-medicated ADD/ADHD students), who also has a kindergarten "Mini-Me" daughter who also has the same issues (now on her 5th medicine since July).("race car brain"--Hallowell)-- I have PILES everywhere that I do attempt to tame, however, I forget what where everything is, can't seem to file it/throw it. I am late all the time--and right when I am almost on time, my kids throw a kink in that due to temper tantrums or NOT following directions/routines. By the end of the day when the meds have worn off, it is as if my brain overloads and I just have to go to bed. I am exhausted. I look at a pile of socks in my child's room and I literally can't sort them. I just can't function. It drives my husband crazy as he is very helpful and tries to get our laundry caught up. Is this normal. It is like I turn into a pumpkin at 10:00 and I can't talk or move. I try taking an amphetimine salt (per dr. orders) at 3:00 but I still can't stay with it. My children are late to bed and difficult to rise....and this also contributes to the chaos at bedtime. I feel like I am insensitive to my husband, but I need to sleep in order to function the next day. How likely is it that my son who is also on the go with have ADHD? He is 3. Thanks to all the professionals that are donating their lives to ADHD and helping us live productive lives.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

There's a big difference between "hurt, resentment and doubt" and expressing what is nothing more than bigotry towards their spouse in a public forum. Neurotypicals don't just feel that people with ADD are defective -- they get the extra charge of feeling morally superior. That's just abusive, and no, I wouldn't put up with it. At home we have a set of DVDs showing the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons. Many of them contained offensive stereotypes about black people, and so each one is prefaced by a short statement by the movie critic Leonard Maltin, explaining that no one approves of that kind of sentiment anymore. Ask yourself: will your book require a preface like that fifty years from now? Why are you providing a platform to perpetuate stereotypes and stigma -- and validating them in the one place where people should feel safe from such contempt -- the home?

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

It IS possible to have a bad spot in your life, be completely confused about your life and your relationship, and find your way back to a respectful, happy relationship. People do go through bad spots, however. In fact, pretty much everyone goes through bad times in their marriage - and I'm not just talking about ADHD times - depression, death, frustration with financial issues - all of these and more can temporarily cause you to lose faith in someone you've cared about. I hope that you are "all bark and no bite" - either that, or that you and your husband never go through the kinds of despair that the people you are criticizing are feeling. I, personally, would feel awful if I thought that my spouse was ready to send me to the curb at the speed of light as soon as I expressed doubts, issues, hurt, resentment, etc. My marriage has had some real down times, but we have gotten through that specifically because we managed to get back to a place where we were empathetic and loving. But it takes time, and work. If I had ejected him (or he me) at the time in our marriage when we felt "contempt and resentment" both of us would have been worse for the experience. So, for that matter, would our kids. We would have missed what we have now - which is definitely very good by any definition of marriage - and has a depth and stability that we both appreciate greatly.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

I have to tell you, if my husband expressed these kind of sentiments in this way about me, he wouldn't have time to ruminate about leaving me: I'd eject him so fast he'd break the sound barrier on the way to the curb. If you have contempt and resentment for your spouse, it's over.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

It isn't actually just non-ADD spouses who post either questions or blog entries, actually. We do get ADD folks posting, and Sari Solden is one of our bloggers (she has ADD). However, it does seem that the people who are posting the longest comments are women with ADD husbands. I attribute this to a few things: 1.) generally, women are more likely than men to want to express their issues 2.) women are more likely than men to read/search for "self help" (hence the self-help publishing industry is so geared towards women) 3.) men with ADD present themselves differently than women. While the women may seem "disorganized" or "ditzy", the men seem aloof and uninvolved. This makes for difficult marriages (hence the large number of comments along these lines). Finally, the ADD person (male or female) is often out in their own world...and might, therefore, be less likely to be fully aware of the extent of the problems their spouse is encountering - sending the spouse looking for assistance elsewhere. As an addendum, Dr. Hallowell finds that many, many of his couples patients fit this pattern, too - ADD man with non-ADD spouse.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

Wow!!! I have been married for almost 6 years and for the last month I have been compiling information on ADHD so that I could better understand what was going on with my husband. We have been on a constat verge of divorce since the day we moved in together. I can relate to all the couples on here and there situations with their ADHD partners and I finally feel like there is an answer to helping my marriage survive. I feel like I am raising my husband. His mother just stopped calling him "my son". At the root of all our problems is his ADHD. The only problem is we don't want to use pharmaceuticals/medications to help with his ADHD but something natural because as a child he took meds and he never liked the way they made him feel. He was lifeless and he felt as though it took away a part of what made him who he was. So right now we are researching into some natural remedies. But at least now we can pinpoint what is tearing my marriage apart.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

Wow!!! I have been married for almost 6 years and for the last month I have been compiling information on ADHD so that I could better understand what was going on with my husband. We have been on a constat verge of divorce since the day we moved in together. I can relate to all the couples on here and there situations with their ADHD partners and I finally feel like there is an answer to helping my marriage survive. I feel like I am raising my husband. His mother just stopped calling him "my son". At the root of all our problems is his ADHD. The only problem is we don't want to use pharmaceuticals/medications to help with his ADHD but something natural because as a child he took meds and he never liked the way they made him feel. He was lifeless and he felt as though it took away a part of what made him who he was. So right now we are researching into some natural remedies. But at least now we can pinpoint what is tearing my marriage apart.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

In response to this particular line in your comment: "I do not know if you are in this cycle or not, but if you are, please take a hard look at whether or not you are able to lovingly accept him as he is." What if I do accept him as he is and love him for all that he is, BUT all that he is just doesn't mesh with all that I am?? What if he is making progression in certain area, who am I to squash all that? In an ideal situation I would love to just get away, have a maid, have lots of money so my husband can find "things" to do or fix (because when he fixes things it costs twice as much to really fix it or replace it). His hobbies are expensive, his dreams are BIG and although he tries to get those dreams he just never can quite follow through on all that it can take to accomplish those things. I'm tired of the whole thing. Tired of being the re-iterator, goal organizer, Day Planner. I use organizing tools...seeing as I'm more left brain oriented and he uses his head to remember things because he's more right brained oriented. His head doesn't always remember. Poster:Rshaffer said "those warm fuzzy feelings from so long ago are clouded" I can totally relate. How can he still have desire/warm fuzzies for me when he can see I'm exasberated???? Poster: Gravy said "You see, I don't think she understood how bad it was, because she didn't have to live with her. Her feelings for me were just as rosy as when we were dating -- I was even more of her hero on a daily basis. When I'd tell her I wasn't happy it was earth-shattering news, and that's how she'd react." That's what goes on in my house on a constant basis, but he knows he is adhd and does try to change, but grrrrrrrrr. I'm just not very happy right now.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

Hi Gravy, So we're not alone in this? My ADD husband and I are currently dealing with a 1-year diagnosis after 7 years of marriage, and his rosy feelings are rosy and mine are, well, not (yes, also earth-shattering news to my husband). Others think it's wonderful ("He just loves you so much! Couldn't live without you!). And I think to myself, "You have no idea!". I find myself running on less than half a tank of gas, emotionally and physically. We had no idea of his ADD before last year (in fact, I knew so little of ADD I didn't believe the diagnosis at first! Only the total effectiveness of the med.s and further research swayed me into agreement). We saw 2 different psychiatrists before we had an accurate diagnosis, but it was well worth it. Medication has helped immeasurably, and I think we're on the road to recovery, however slow, difficult and indirect. Most people around where we live either believe ADD doesn't exist, or that we'd be better off if we just pretended we didn't deal with it on a regular basis. Where do we find support that both acknowledges the disorder and gives hope for dealing with it's idiosyncracies? I can no longer work outside the home due to the chaos ADD causes us (our case is pretty bad) so our finances are very limited, as is my contact with the 'normal' world. How do I keep my own head above water, both for my own sake and the sake of my young family? Before we married, he earned a 6-figure income in a technical field. We could afford to have help with cleaning and organizing, and the nice things like GPSes (to help when he got lost in the same town for the 10th time in row) and a palm-pilot (to organize his contact list, to-do list, important dates-list). We had enough money to take breaks to go out because I couldn't stand the mess at home (I cannot clean as fast has he can pile!), and to explore our common interests. Now he's an artist (genius-proned, I might add), but we haven't the money to help in ways that we had help before, and most of the 'helping' has fallen on my lap (the helpful "techie" items were lost long ago, and we've not the finances to replace them). I'm a willing helper, but physically and psychologically, I am not SuperWoman. I cannot be his all-in-all. Are anti-depressants ever recommended for the non-ADD spouse (I'm only half joking!)? Thank you. Gravy, for spelling out your journey; we mirror it in so many ways. It is an encouragement to know that our struggles are not a-typical.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

Thanks, Gravy for the insight. Yes, after 10 years of "hinting" that my husband may have symptoms of ADD he went to a Doctor who felt that he indeed did struggle with ADD. He was given a script for Wellbutrin. Difficult for the first few weeks. Then things seemed to fall into place. I noticed a change. He would remember things I had asked him to do. He actually did them to completion. He was calmer than he had ever been. Then without warning last month he decided to stop his meds without telling me or his Doc. I noticed about mid Sept. that he was falling back into the same old stuff again. I questioned him and that's when I found out that he didn't feel it necessary to take his meds any longer. What do you do then?

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

While I can look back to when my wife and I were dating and see signs of what the future held for me, the impact of my wife's untreated ADD wasn't clear until she lost her first big job. At that point I had been waiting for the piano to fall -- the job had slowly become more and more difficult to maintain, and as it had our house, our kids, and our relationship suffered. And I knew she was "screwing up things" at the office as much as she was at home. So, despite the financial impact, I was extremely hopeful after she stopped working, and agreed to a year off to help her "regroup." Has anyone with untreated ADD ever regrouped on their own? I doubt it, and after the year at home by herself (kids in school or preschool) the mess was just bigger and all the stress was still there. This was several years ago, and despite a return to work at a much more manageable job, and older kids who could do more on their own, things still weren't changing. So I finally let my wife know that I was about done carrying the load, and while I knew that any marriage that was over 50% good was a good one, well, I was beyond half empty. And I told her it was because I still thought she had ADD (she had been diagnosed as a child, which made this statement easier to make) and I told her that her refusal to do anything about it was going to push me out the door one day, if not soon. Luckily, she finally heard this message, and agreed to testing and potential treatment. You see, I don't think she understood how bad it was, because she didn't have to live with her. Her feelings for me were just as rosy as when we were dating -- I was even more of her hero on a daily basis. When I'd tell her I wasn't happy it was earth-shattering news, and that's how she'd react. So she went and maxed out the Brown ADD scales. There was npo denying it -- she had ADD. She agreed to try Adderall. Three months later: Wow. While we still have some messes to clean up, and while she sometimes skips her pill and drives me crazy for a day, we're back on track to where we pictured ourselves so many years back. So, you don't mention that your spouse has been tested and, if so, what the treatment is. Push for testing and treatment as hard as you push for ATM slips so you can balance the checkbook (if your spouse is even allowed to have an ATM card). You won't regret it.

re: ADHD Marriage - I'm "Tired Out"

When looking back 20 years ago to the beginning of our marriage I do remember some of the things that attracted me to my spouse. And, yes I do love him. However, 20 years of picking up the loose ends has left me exhausted to the point that those warm fuzzy feelings from so long ago are clouded.
Pink's picture

How about thank you for the

How about thank you for the wife and the husband without the ADD and have to take all the job that you and the other ADD do not do?

We deserve something!

Tired Out Nons

I can imagine how non ADAs feel, having to do everything. I read one account of a husband who worked full-time, then had to come home, deal with the kids, pay the bills, AND clean up.

I would be exhausted too. As an ADA wife, my life has been a little different. I have been the sole source of support in our marriage for over 20 years. I have excelled in my job and gotten a high reputation all around town. We are both writers, but we agreed that my husband would stay home and work on his projects. As time went on and no success was ever reached, I would focus on the fact that I was the sole bread winner and it was HIS fault that we were nowhere. I never knew how much he was doing at home on a day-to-day business, things I never had to think about, like registering things for warranty, getting the vacuum fixed, keeping car maintenance up, etc., etc, and when he would ask for something from the store and I would forget, I never understood his growing rage and frustration. I was only recently diagnosed with ADD, by the way. We operated for years with both of us just thinking I was spaced out.

So I have a new appreciation and understanding of all the little details he takes care of. I am trying to learn more and help out more in those other areas.