ADHD & Marriage Therapy in Person with Dr. Hallowell

Starting soon..!  For those of you who are within driving distance of Boston, Dr. Hallowell and his wife, Sue (an excellent therapist in her own right) will be conducting three group therapy sessions for couples starting this June 24th. This is a great opportunity for couples where one or both partners has ADHD to get the advice of real experts, in person, and to meet others who share some of the issues.  The details follow - please read them before calling to register:

What:  Couples therapy group with Dr. Ned Hallowell and Sue Hallowell
Who:  About 8 couples (maximum of 12).  Both members of the couple need to be present and at least one with ADHD.
Where:  Sudbury, MA at the Hallowell Center, 142 North Road, Sudbury, MA  01776
When:  Three Tuesday evenings - June 24, July 22, July 29.  The group will meet from 6:00 - 7:30 pm on each of those evenings
How much:  There is a charge of $300 per couple for the three sessions

How to register:  Call the Sudbury Hallowell Center at 978-287-0810.


Dealing with husband with ADHD and Depression

I have been married for 29 years to a man who has ADHD and depression. He is on Paxil for his reoccuring depression, but just when he starts to feel better he lowers his dosage and it starts all over again. We have two adult children and 3 grandchildren. He is currently "on the outs "with our daughter because she does not want her children to go through what she has had to deal with in regards to his moods. He will not apologize to her for not going to see the children for months on end. He caters to his mother and sisters who he has always put before our family but will not make an attempt to right things with our daughter. I am so tired of his moods, depression, and foul remarks. He does try to control me but I do not allow it and this angers him more. Nothing I do is right - He is a very unhappy person. He does not like holidays, birthdays, and usually starts a fight to get out of them. He has made life very miserable for myself and two children. I guess, what I am eventually getting to is that I want to move out and get a place of my own...I work full time. I feel guilty because there never is a good time with him - he makes you feel sorry for him all the time. I want a few years of positiveness and happiness. I have suggested to him before that we seperate but he does not want his 85 year old mother to find out so he stayed and did not mention it again.??? It is like banging one's head against a brick wall. I do not like hurting anyone's feelings and have been procrastinating at doing anything. Our grandchildren do not even come to our place anymore and he doesn't even seem to care. This was the final straw for me. What should I do? PM

Why would you feel guilty

Why would you feel guilty about moving out if you have never had a good time with him? I would start with counseling if you haven't tried before.

Move Out?

You have to look into your heart for this one.  Moving out can be scary, but never seeing your grandchildren, being estranged from your children and never being happy might be even scarier.

If you do decide to move out, please make sure that you are financially secure and that you do not leave yourself open for financial "attack" from your husband if you do decide to either move out or ask him to move out.  People can change quite dramatically when such a major upset occurs, and you will want to walk into it with your eyes open.  WHile not fair, I've seen men and women who felt wronged empty bank accounts, even though they were joint, hide money and worse.  Unfortunatley, women often leave themselves vulnerable by not thinking ahead about the financial implications of separation and a potentially angry spouse.

In my own case (and I'm not saying this would work for you) I took the precaution of moving exactly 50% of our joint funds from one of our accounts into an account that was under my name only.  This made me feel protected a bit from unpredictability, but I was very, very careful not to exceed what would have been considered mine in any future settlement (we had other assets, too, so this was "disaster insurance" for me).  For some men, though, that would have been an act of all out war, and permission to do any dirty thing they wanted.  I knew my husband well enough to know that while he wouldn't like it, he wouldn't retaliate.

Also, have a good idea of where you will go, and how you will broach the subject - it's too important to do off the cuff.

Good luck on this one, and let us know how it goes.

Melissa Orlov

ADHD husband has left

Hi, While reading the woman's post previously about her husband I could completely relate. I have been married for 10 years and my husband is so much like hers. We have 2 boys age 6 and 9. Like most, my eldest son was diagnosed with dyslexia and a.d.d. last year, which led me to realize that this is what my husband has been suffering from his entire life. He has taken meds in past for depression, but is not on any now and hasn't addressed the adhd except for acknowledging that he probably has it. We have read portions of Dr. Hallowell's book together - even laughing at times - because he fits the profile so well. I have been suffering in this marriage since the beginning and we have been in and out of marriage counseling. He constantly threatens the marriage, but the next day he will tell me he wants to get away with me, that I am so beautiful and that he is lucky to have me. It's a constant roller coaster. He tends to drink too much, not exercise (except for going for a walk, with my nudging), be terribly impatient and verbally abusive to myself and our boys, procrastinates, doesn't pay bills, is late to appointments, amongst other adhd behaviors. Yet when he is in a good mood, our entire house is filled with joy. I've always said that when DH is happy the rest of us are happy. He has a magnetic outgoing personality when he is stimulated and interested in the company. He can be very charming and funny. He also hyper-focuses on certain things and can have incredibly interesting conversations with others about world politics, the financial world etc. I believe because of his charming, fearless, outgoing personality and high intelligence he has excelled in business without completing college and never really doing well in the classroom. Up until 1.5 years ago he was making 7 figures with a major financial institution. Last summer he quit (I knew he was thinking of doing it, but was shocked when he did do it because I felt it wasn't planned out well) and began a new career in commercial real estate development. Taking a huge cut in pay yet always hopeful that a deal was always around the corner....well with today's state of affairs in the world it isn't surprising to hear that as of yet no deals have been made. He works hard and when he is on he is really on....but his risk-taking behaviors have put me through the ringer. Our finances are shot - we've gone through all savings, and our stocks are worth nothing. He has no back up plan for us. Each month we get by because of the grace of God. I am left to pay all bills, manage our daily finances and it is extremely stressful and scary when there is no money in the bank. He is so stimulated by this new change, he is dealing with many high profile political figures, wealthy business men, interesting deals but there is NO STRUCTURE. He is off flying around the world staying at the 4 seasons, driving in Bentleys, having expensive dinners, while I am back at home with kids running the show with sometimes not enough money to buy groceries. The stress has taken its toll and I have found creative ways to bring in extra money and to cut any extra expenses. I can deal with the lifestyle changes. I am not a primadonna and I am willing to tighten the hatch, as I have done. But the lack of a plan has driven me to wits end. I have not been supportive of him and I know now how much that hurts him. I am always down on him and our finances. I am also resentful of the position he has put us in and the burden he has put on me to raise our family. Yesterday after he had been away in europe travelling for 10 days we had a huge fight in the morning over our boys. I was stressed getting them ready for school and all i really wanted was him to help he typically does, he took that as an excuse to start screaming at the boys. Completely unacceptable behavior, even getting physical with me and them. He just BLEW. I told him I wanted him out - which I have NEVER done before. Well, he followed through. He left yesterday, he packed up his clothes, took his papers and left. He has sent me 2 email messages saying that it was the straw that broke the camel's back - WHAT? He's the one who lost it and was completely out of line!! And that he is done. That he is moving out, that he will help us financially but that he thought it better that we move on separately and formalize it. I sent him a few emails back saying that I disagreed and that I wanted us to work on our family and that his ADHD has a huge part in this and why can't he commit to one month of no drinking, exercising daily, getting 8 hours of sleep, learning more about his adhd, etc. NO RESPONSE. Please, what should I do at this stage? Thank you for any advice you can give.

I am sorry for your

I am sorry for your situation.It must be devastating to you.You have all these angry emotions,yet your shocked,sad,etc.As much as your soo angry....I would try to look at it in a different light.Sometimes things do get to a breaking point and they have to break in order for change to occur.Make sense?Not to get your hopes up...but it sounds like the best thing is separation at this point so he can miss what he had.He needs to really have time away and for himself to think about what matters most in life.If he still chooses to stay away and call it quits....then knowing that....I wouldn't want that person in my life anyway.I agree with you and feel your totally right...he is the one who needs to wake up to how he is contributing to contaminating the relationship.To take ownership and responsibility...for sure!

In the meanwhile,like I have commented to on yourself.For me I have gotten on antidepressants,go to couseling for myself and the biggest thing that has helped is a codependency class through church.Having that support of other women,not just about unhealthy/addictive relationships...but about stress,depression,being hurt..all that your struggling is just so great to have that support of other women and that they can relate.

It sounds like he has made his choice and so you have no choice but to deal with your emotions at this point.I understand how your so angry with him and justifiably so...but the more you attack him...the more being away from you is going to look better for him.Just let him be for now and cool off.Reverse pyschology maybe?Good Luck to you!

ADD Husband has left response

It sounds almost as if your husband had developed a two-sided life - one out in the business world where he is a "high flyer" living the good life and being a gadfly, and one at home where he was getting relatively little positive feedback and had more responsibilities than he wanted to handle.  As he doesn't seem inclined to respond to you in a positive or supportive way, I think you have little choice than to respond to his desire to move out with dignity.

Some of the issue here seems to be that you have expectations that he should be a different person than he currently is in order to succeed in your marriage.  The problem is - he gets plenty of positive feedback for being that person outside the marriage and, sadly, will also be able to find plenty of other women who will be delighted to spend time with him as that high-flyer.  You, on the other hand, want him to deal with his ADD, stop drinking (and having fun, in his eyes), work at exercising, which he hates, hang out around the house...educate himself about how he is inadequate in your eyes (which is how he most likely sees your request to learn more about his ADD).  You can see why that doesn't sound very appealing.

I would urge you to get going on a separation agreement that is fair to both parties and sets some boundaries or, if he does decide to come back, take a careful look at your own role in how this is unfolding (more on that later).  A good book on a certain type of separation agreement that I used when thinking about this is "You Don't Have to Take It Anymore" talks about the concept of controlled separation.  It will help you think through some of the underlying issues that can be so difficult to resolve (money, sex, visitations, etc).  Also, if at all possible, move towards mediation of this type of agreement rather than using divorce lawyers.  Couples who use mediation are statistically far more likely to have a good relationship after the experience (either as divorced co-parents or back together) than those who use lawyers (who get paid to roil things up).

The two of you will continue to have a relationship of some sort into the future, and it is in the best interests of everyone - you AND the kids AND your husband- if you continue to get along and be supportive of each other.  In your case, this will take changing some of your behavior, as it seems that you haven't been all that supportive of him in the past.  This takes some self control, but is worth it.  My personal belief is that you should try hard not to put yourselves into situations that will escalate bad feelings on either side.  On the other hand, you must certainly set rules for yourself and others so that no one gets walked all over (for example, setting rules with the kids that bad-mouthing their father in your presence is not okay.  If they have an issue they need to work through they should work through that specific issue, but that personal attacks are off limits.  You, too, should stick by this rule.  If you do, you'll be more likely to be able to convince your husband that he should do the same towards you when the kids are with him and everyone will be better off for it.)

The first step to creating this relationship is to let go of your feelings that you have anything to do with your husband's behavior.  You may want him to address his ADD, but that is completely his decision.  In fact, that has always been his decision, and part of the reason that he may have resisted it this long is that it's been emotionally charged at your house - wrapped up in how you feel about his inadequacies.)  So, you need to start treating him like a respected business associate, not a spouse.  That sounds weird, perhaps, but you will be amazed by the results.  Note that I say "respected".  If you simply hold him at arm's distance, you will not acheive your goal of having a good relationship (by definition, because you will be distanced from each other).  If you treat him with respect, but in a business-like way in which you recognize that his point of view has merit, and insist that your point of view has merit, and work together to find common ground, then you will hopefully have some success in setting up an arrangement that works for both of you.

My second piece of advice on this is to start looking inwardly and figuring out who you want to be in this.  Too many people get caught up in their anger and bad feelings, without seeing what that does to them as a person.  Revenge and blame are ALWAYS destructive.  Better, in my opinion, is to decide that you wish to be a thoughtful, honorable and good person throughout this transaction.  Or, as one of my recently divorced male neighbors said about his diminished finances "The most important part is the sleep-at-night factor.  I have to be able to go to sleep knowing that my ex-wife and kids will be comfortable enough and that I did what I think was the right thing."  Though his ex is still angry with him (and suffering herself from the expression of that anger) he held himself to high standards of behavior and has moved on (which, of course, infuriates her).

A turning point for me, when my husband and I had decided to separate, was deciding that I didn't like the angry person I had become and deciding that I would start acting differently towards both my husband and everyone else.  So I simply changed how I fit into the world, literally overnight, and how I was thinking about him.  Instead of viewing my husband as faulty and broken, I started viewing him as an individual who made specific decisions about who he wanted to be that I needed to respect and accept.  I had to accept that he could do as he pleased (including leave me) and that it was his choice, not mine.   I decided that I was inherently an even-keeled, warm person and that I would be that person again - not just for me, but for my children, too.  The surprising outcome of that was that as soon as I stopped trying to change my husband he actually liked me better as a person and was willing and able to see me as I had been before - that real person, instead of the angry imposter.

You don't mention much about exactly how the two of you interact, but some of your words "he was completely out of line" and descriptions of how he needs to change in order to be an acceptable husband, suggest that you have moved pretty far from a strong marriage and may be in parent/child territory.  You tried to cow him into submission by threatening that he should leave and then were surprised when, instead of acting in the child role and apologizing, he actually acted like an adult and chose his own path (including whether or not to respond to your emails, which he is under no obligation to do.  He is serving you notice by not responding that he is now his own person and you need to respect that.)  Yes, he probably has many things that could be improved when push comes to shove, but before you get too angry with him you should assess your own role for you do, too.  You are just as responsible for this break up as he is, (read my blog post on action/reaction for more on this).  If you can accept that, and change directions you will have a far greater likelihood of repairing things partially or fully.

So, give him, and you, the space you both seem to need right now, find a mediator, start negotiations, change your approach (NO MORE telling him who he should be.  He is who he is and you either love him like that or go elsewhere).  He loved you once, when you both respected each other.  He may love you again if you can shift back towards really, genuinely feeling and acting on that respect again (and vice versa - you may be able to love him again, too)...or not.  The only guarantee is that you can't predict what the future will bring - you can only control your own behavior and make sure that you are the best person you can be in this new environment.

Good luck with it all - we'll be crossing our fingers for you.


Can you explain how one can suddenly respect a spouse who didn't


I am new to this site and am therefore reading old posts, and this one- like most- was very helpful.  I understand and like the idea of the non-ADD spouse needing to decide who she (or he) wants to be- resentful and bitter OR accepting.

I completely can relate to every word in this woman's post.  My husband is an attorney and gets positive feedback from the clients he rescues and his support staff whom he pays.  At home, he's the guy who still hasn't gotten our estate plan finished, screams at the kids to quit crying 'cause he can't stand the sound, doesn't pay the bills - or help with household chores, and has been in front of the ethics board for taking "shortcuts." can I all of a sudden decide to respect this man who believes he doesn't need "to change" despite a psychiatrist's ADD diagnosis?  Whose actions I find to be completely reprehensible?  Who is unwilling to change to meet my basic needs?   Aren't I then ignoring my own ethical or moral standards of what is right or wrong?  Yes, I'm sure my husband would be nicer to me if I were more respectful, but then I become complicit in his fibs, shortcuts, outbursts, nonpayments, etc.

How does one do that without devaluing oneself?

sudden respect

I don't know if I will say this in a way that makes sense.  I see the word "respect" covering two different things.  There is general respect for an individual that is earned over time.  This is the respect I think you are referring to when you ask "how can I suddenly respect a man who is reprehensible and unwilling to meet my needs?"  In this case, I don't think you can.  He hasn't earned your respect either in how he has conducted his affairs nor how he has treated you.  (In the theoretical he might be able to do so in the future, over time.)

Then there is the basic respect that we afford other human beings because they are other human beings and because we respect ourselves.  This is the respect you afford a stranger, for example.  I also think that it is a measure of respecting yourself that you treat others with compassion and courtesy - including reprehensible husbands.  (This is where I lose people, because they think I'm saying "lay down like a rug and let someone walk all over you" which is the exact OPPOSITE of what I am saying.)  What works for me is finding a way to express pain, anger, love, whatever your emotion or thought that is constructive as often as possible.  (I'm not a saint.  Sometimes I just fly off the handle, too!)  If I can manage to be productive/constructive/whatever you call engaging with someone with purpose then I can hold my head high and know that I have not become just like the angry person or amoral person I'm dealing with.  They haven't brought me down into the muck with them.

In any event, when I say "try to treat your spouse with respect" what I guess I'm saying is that I think you owe the person with whom you share your life at least as much courtesy or thought as you give a stranger.

And what I am not saying is "give up your ethical standards".  You may have read my posts on finding/setting boundaries.  That's another way of saying find your ethical core and don't let it go.  Stand up for who you are.  Don't be sucked into being a person you dislike (as I was once sucked into being a person I disliked) by the strains that ADD places on a relationship.  Hold your head high - be who you are when you are at your best - be the opposite of "complicit" but be so in a constructive (respectful?) way.

Does that help at all?