ADHD, Separation how to stop from divorce?

This is my first post.  I read through so many others, and it is nice to find a place where I may learn from so many other's experiences.

I have been married now for 15 months.  I have a severe form of ADHD and depression.  I was diagnosed almost 8 years ago and am 32 years old.  My wife and I met and experienced a whirlwhind romance.  Even though I was in an up and down relationship for 3 years prior, and had no intention of settling into another one, along came the love of my life.  She is incredibly intelligent, very successful, driven to the point of obssessiveness.  I do not want to psychoanalyze b/c that would be unfair to her, but certain styles of communication differences have been pointed out to me by counselors.  I left my job and have struggled finding a new one.  I always have sought to be an entrepreneur, but tried to keep my options open.  The first year of marriage has been awfully tough given the lack of a job for me, a couple of incidents (one just before the marriage where I was severely attacked and wound up in the emergency room, the other was a severe auto accident where someone smashed my car leading eventually to shoulder surgery) of physical trauma, and my the tremendous pressure my wife's job put on her time (120 hrs/wk plus relocation to another city for large portions of our relationship).  The external pressures of our lives served as rifts, but I believed that our fundamental baseline of communication and love would lead us through.  Though we were going through a rocky time, I always believed that we'd pull through, that this was a temporary bump in the road, my wife obviously thought different.  The speed and severity of our deterioration left me my head spinning.   After a couple of marriage counseling meetings, she exited for what I believed was a "time out."  Three weeks later she entered the session with a prepared statement wanting me to file for separation.  Since this is in no way what I want, I refuse to facilitate any move she makes, and will not escalate it.  I have a tremendous support system, but have found little solace in their words.  They have been shaken by the finality of my wife's decision (though the "d" word has not been broght up), and the speed of the marriage's demise.  We are a very fun loving couple, care about each other, and enjoy each other's company.  It is obvious to me that she had a vision for things.  Our communcation concerning our feelings was never done well.  I overtalked she never talked about her feelings.  Little things accumulated in her, but the stress of our lives seemed to push her to her breaking point.


So she moved out to her sister's who just became a new mom and lives in a massive house with her second husband.  I love her family, but my wife's time alone figuring out the next step must have been affected by seeing what she believes she should have.  I believe she should have this too and hope to provide it for her.  Alas, our counselor was terrible, and even when we had nice times together post walk-out, the animosity she built up would reared its head.  I never hid my issues, but incorporated her in my therapy sessions.  I warned her before the marriage things would not be easy with me, but reassured her that my heart will always be pure for her.  We lived together almost 4 years now, but communcation consistently sufferred from our differing styles and the lack of quality time we shared.  Her mind appears made up at this time, and I seek not to provoke her.  The saddest part is my business has so many lucrtive leads.  Her walking out was the impetus to straighten up my act.  She says she can't forgive me for the past, but I still don't know what I did which was so bad.  She cites "promises I did not keep."  I am a very loving husband, drove her to and from the airport dozens of times, lived with her in another city just to keep my finger on the pulse of our marriage, and genuinely tried to do my best in tough circumstances.  The isolation due to the lack of job always made it tough for her b/c she would be my sounding board that i'd overload many a night when I'm sure she needed to recharge. 

I was taking cymbalta which I didn't know was affecting me so adversely (intensified my anger and depression), and from November through mid January I was on oxycodone for the pain from shoulder surgery.  I seek not to make excuses but identify and make changes accordingly.  I'm humbled and attempting to meet her stipulations of "responsibility" and "independence."  My wife is very committed in many facets of life save self-care.  She seems so angry at me, and disregarded the positve reviews my changes have garnered.  I hoped her walking-out was a shot across the bow considering she never approached anyone close to me who may have intervened.  It does not seem like there is much hope right now, and it saddens me that these actions certainly do not seem to anyone I know to be the ones of the love I married.  They are completely unilatteral, and I seek ways to repair the damage b/c we were one of those couples who complimented each other well.  So I have posted my despair, sorry for the long topic post, but I wanted to present the sides accurately to solicit informed input (as informed as an outsider can be).  My wife seems burned out, so I am giving her space.  I am Catholic, so I will honor my vows until the final dissolution.  Yet I cannot help but feel like Job.


I am in the same boat you are. my wife of five years is leaving, I have tried everything to prove to her that things will be better. we just found out about my add in Feb 09 not even 60 days ago.all of the sudden i get this clarity over a large part of our life that i had never had and start working towards a better life realizing that i had let her and our kids down,not to mention how badly i have treated her i really feel ashamed of my behavior and am working to correct it. it seems the more i try the more she gives up. i think she is getting very depressed and has been even at times suicidal she tells me its to late for us and wishes i would have woke up a couple of years ago. the signs were there i just could not see them and i love this woman dearly with all of my heart . she says she cant trust me and will never be able to let this go,she will not attend council or even entertain any type of therapy i hope that it is gods will that we stay together i think that is the only way it can change her heart. but you guys are at least attending therapy that is a great sign. ill be praying for you!

Wives are Leaving

It is such a hard time when your wife walks heart goes out to all of you, and like one of the other writers here, I feel as if I want to give you at least a "virtual" hug.

Your best bet for recovery of any kind is to focus on yourself and making the changes you need to make to be an easier person to be with.  Your non-ADD spouses have lost faith that you can change - trust is easy to break and very hard to repair.  You can't force them to trust you, and the more you push for it, the more uncomfortable you make them feel.  "REally, I'm trying harder now" is a very hard message for a non-ADD spouse with a hardened heart to hear - it smacks of helplessness, for one, and also hits the same chords that she's heard before...when you probably said you would do something better then didn't.  It feels like pushing the "repeat" button on something you don't want to hear, anyway.

What might work, though, is that you do actually change...and sustain it for your own sake.  You have to care, inherently, about creating the new person you want to be just because you care about it (and changing ADD behaviors takes time and lots of effort, which is anothe rreason you really have to care about it)...and now you have understanding that you didn't have before about how your behavior affects others, not just you.  This understanding positions you to be a better partner for your current spouse (married or divorced, if you have kids you will remain partners of some sort) or a better partner for a different future spouse, if you act on it effectively.  Actions, in your cases, will most definitely be more important than words.

Your wives may not be able to let their anger go.  That is their job and you can't help them with it much.  You can just "become a better you" - a person who is no longer ashamed of his behavior in his most important relationships.  Do what it takes to get there!  Ask for help, get a counselor or a coach, treat the ADD...whatever.

As for the 120 hour a week marriage, ADD or not, can survive that for long.  You are both to blame for that one.  People get married to be connected, not so they have someone sitting at home waiting for them when they return at midnight every evening.  Imagine what your lives might have been like if your wife had taken 10 of those hours and spent them focused entirely on you!

On another point, though, I will tell you that lots of time people with ADD do NOT hear their spouses tell them how unhappy they are (particularly if those conversations are happening over the email since they aren't at home...just kidding, bad joke!)  My husband's first wife walked out on him after six years.  He was shocked, but according to my sister-in-law she had been telling everyone for years how unhappy she was, including him.  And I told him for years that I was would think after his first experience that he would have learned to listen, but no...we came close to divorce before he figured out I meant it.  So she may have been telling you she was unhappy, devbalt, and you might not have heard.  There are a couple of other things in your post that don't seem to fit completely, either.  For example you say that you thought that you had good communications, but you also say that "I overtalked and she never talked about her feelings".  In a marriage going south fast that suggests to me that you didn't really have good only WISHED you had good communication.  Perhaps there are other things that you aren't addressing directly, too?  If you like your counselor (it's unclear which counselor wasn't good) then you might think about working with that person to explore these things.

You were friends before you were lovers (I'm guessing) and friends can be a pretty strong place to be.  Returning there can be a good start to improving things, too.  Good luck with it.

Re: ADHD, Separation how to Stop from Divorce

Dear Devbalt,

I feel so bad for you.  I am the spouse of a man with ADD.  He is a good dad and has a kind heart.  Unfortunately, I am feeling like your wife currently and dream of a life by myself (or just with my baby boy who is almost 2).  I am also a Christian and signed up for "til death do us part."  Unfortunately, I feel like death will be right around the corner for me if I don't find a way to take a breath from the stress my husband has caused us. 

The reason I feel so horrible is that like yourself, my husband is trying to make things right but my resentment seems to get in the way.  After 5 years, I am tired of EVERY DAY being a struggle...trying to communicate with someone who always takes me the wrong way, doesn't hear half of what I say, insists I didn't tell him things (when I have told him NUMEROUS TIMES by word and in writing), spends money as if he were working (he is not) and as if the money will just somehow show up to pay our bills -- this gets trying after a while for the other partner in the relationship.  We now have to file for bankrupcy because of his irresponsible behavior.  My car was repo'd TWICE...and once right after my newborn and I came home from the hospital. The sad thing is, I KNOW he doesn't want to be this way.  I know he wants to change and be able to be a responsible husband who can provide for his family.  He can't seem to keep a job because of the way he sees the world.  He just gest himself into trouble, gets himself fired and then has no idea why afterwards.  He is on a stimulant that at least has helped some with his anger issues, but he still can't seem to communicate effectively.  He plays computer games way more than an adult man should, but at least I believe he has stopped looking at porn. 

As a Christian woman, my trust broke when I found out about the porn...then things just went downhill from there with intimacy.  Basically, the intimacy doesn't exist anymore.  I make myself do my wifely duties once a month when I know it is the proper time that we won't procreate.  I can't afford birth control (other than condoms) and to have another child with this man would be unthinkable since I have way too much to take care of now.  When I think about going home after work or school (I work a few jobs and go to medical school), I get anxious knowing that the house is going to be a mess and I will have so many things to fix or take care of when I get there.  I hate my life and dream about being single again with just my baby boy and I.  If your wife feels like I do, maybe this is why she is leaving. 

I am willing to bet your are a wonderful person and this is why it saddens me so.  I wish I had the answers for you.  I sometimes think maybe my husband and I could separate just so I could take care of him from afar without killing myself emotionally -- to find some sort of respite so I can heal.  I am afraid if I do this, I won't return.  I now have a tightness in my chest that won't go away and I feel like for my own health, I need to take care of myself so I can take care of my baby boy.  In order to do this, I might have no other choice but to leave.

I wish I had the answers for you.  I also wish I could give you a big hug.  The only thing I can do (which is a powerful thing) is pray for you and all of the ones on this site who are in so much pain.  As for me, I am going to try therapy and the CHADD group before I call it quits.  Even though the romantic love is long gone for my husband, agape still exists.  I won't give up on my marriage without a fight.  We have 12 free counceling session and I am going to take advantage of them.  Please say a few prayers for us, as well.

God bless you.


Seperation aint all that bad

Dear C.R.   If you feel like "I now have a tightness in my chest that won't go away" Please heed the warning signs! I was with my husband for 12 yrs. I felt like some of  you being a christian fighting for my marriage while all along  I fought with the one I was married too! Such devotion I thought I had I let everything run me over. So now can I tell you of all the yrs of stress a rocky marriage ,4 kids and  more stress has done. I have to have surgery and I may have Cancer! I actually don't feel good these days not because of stress but my body is falling apart because in part of what stress has done to me for sooo long. I don't believe that we have to remain a martyr. My husband also looked at porn, probably still does and when I was pregnant with my 4th child went to the strip joint... I understand the hurt. I feel that he left the marriage a long time ago by all the things he did and abandonned me! I feel sorry for him , really. I feel saddened in my heart because this isn't what I wanted and I know this isn't what he wanted. But I refuse to live with such desperation and in the end things got so ugly. I feel peace and know I did try ( I had mistakes too) but I can't be effective for anyone or God if I'am so out of it. I was telling someone the other day how I can relate to job. In the end though he was really blessed by what God did in his life because of his obedience not his sacrifice.

 2 jobs,school and a precious one and feeling the way you do is Not healthy! Think of your son and you. Sometimes its hard to see things when life is like a cesspool!! You have to remove yourselve even if you need a break for a bit... I do care I 'am praying for you...

Thank you, Optomistic

God bless you.  I know the decision you had to make was a hard one.  Thank you so very much for the advice.  I am on my last leg and am going to try the therapy and the CHADD group.  If things don't start changing after I have done those two things, I will know I did all I could do...and that it is time to move on.

I think I will go back and read Job tonight before bed to be reminded of God's example for us.  I will also pray that they will not find cancer during your surgery.  May you be blessed all the days of your life.


I totally agree with the fact that you have communication issues, but also think that there is something more at play here.  Imagine yourself the newly initiated.  You are just seeing the problems that you and your wife had, while she has been seeing them all along.  You now have a seemingly new lease on life, and even though you are improving, she probably feels past any point of displaying patience for your growth as she has been watching the same mystifying and unintentionally destructive behavior for the duration of your relationship.  

You have a tremendous support system, but what is hers like?  I myself cannot talk to anyone in my immediate circle of friends, family, co-workers, or contacts about how my husband's ADHD affects our lives.  Not even my husband's mother.  They either say I should leave him, or that I should stop complaining.  This website is the only place that I can go for real understanding.  She is tired, soul weary and if no one in her life gets it, then she is probably feeling terribly lonely and hopeless.  Don't hide from her, let her know that you understand how exhausted she is, but that you are going to be pro-active in your health and development, and then do that to the best of your ability.  Direct her to  this site if she has no one, so that she can know for a fact that she is not alone, or crazy, and that your marriage doesn't have to die.

Many times my husband says that I don't pay attention to the good things he does, and only see the bad things.  From my perspective, I see both, but I cannot tolerate or ignore some of the bad things just because he has done some of the things that he is supposed to correctly.  In many cases to do so would be downright dangerous.

 For example:  He has given our young child excessive amounts  and incorrect medication on two occasions.  The first time, it was ibuprofen over a period of 4 days, when he should have been giving him allergy medicine.  The only reason that it stopped was because one morning I decided to give my son his medicine.  When my husband showed me what he was giving our son, I lost it.  He had been giving him adult strength ibuprofen instead of the allergy medicine.  We fought, and he passed it off as an accident, while I referred to it as negligence.  The second time, it was cold medication.  He gave him 3 times the amount recommended on the bottle.  I could not figure out why my son was so jittery and bouncing off the walls, when he had obviously been ill until I found the measuring spoon that my husband used to dose him with.  Instead of 1/2 a teaspoon, he gave him 1/2 a tablespoon.  It wasn't until then that my husband really saw how bad this was.  Again, I had been living with it the entire time, and it wasn't clear to him until that moment.  Not that everything is that way, I can be nit picky I know, but sometimes these critiques are necessary for basic safety.  

This might be a little b***chy, but, her behavior may not be as unilateral as you think.  I have given my husband ultimatums in the past that he has completely forgotten until I put them into effect.  A small example, his socks.  If I see them in any part of the house that is not the bedroom or bathroom, I throw them away.  I'm tired of picking them up and putting them in the hamper, they stink up the room that they are in, they are many times filthy, and I won't tolerate it.  He didn't get it until one morning he woke up without socks.  It's an almost insignificant example, but did your wife really just walk away without giving you any clear warnings?  That is hard for me to believe.  Maybe she didn't say anything, or maybe you couldn't hear her because you were talking.  In any case, no marriage is one-sided.

It's like Tina says, "What's Love got to do with it?"  Not that love isn't important, but a pure heart doesn't pay bills, keep appointments, clean the house, respect space.  Function is a critical part of any marriage, and if you don't function well, your marriage suffers.  You have had difficulty functioning in the past, you are learning to do better, communicate this to your wife.  Simply, as succinctly as possible, and earnestly.  Write her a letter if it's too much pressure to have the conversation. You write very well.

Lastly, I think everyone on this site feels like Job, so you're in good company, or at least company that understands you.  

talking to others

Written above is "I myself cannot talk to anyone in my immediate circle of friends, family, co-workers, or contacts about how my husband's ADHD affects our lives. Not even my husband's mother. They either say I should leave him, or that I should stop complaining." I too experience this. I've tried to talk to a close friend about things -- sometimes just to get things off my chest. And that just turns into her putting down my husband. No matter how much I try to explain ADHD to her, she will not listen. She claims she already knows about it and all he needs to do is change. If it were only so easy. So, I've stopped talking to anyone about it - except on this forum. And here, I do more reading than "talking." Though, I must say it does help to read. My question is has anyone been able to talk to others who aren't so versed with ADHD about anything that's going on and have it be a positive conversation? Is there some way to be able to do this?

My question is has anyone

My question is has anyone been able to talk to others who aren't so versed with ADHD about anything that's going on and have it be a positive conversation? Is there some way to be able to do this?


I can't comment about talking with those who are not familiar with attention deficit disorders. I can comment on talking to someone reguarly who isn't the biggest fan of the diagnosis in an adult: my own therapist.  He doesn't dismiss the diagnosis in my husband. He doesn't full-on accept it either. We are able to talk about it as just an event that IS present in my life while my husband goes through the process of counseling post-diagnosis.

Do you have your own therapist? If not, it may do you a world of good to help gain clarity on your situation. I believe that even Dr. Hallowell himself has opined that ADD/ADHD rarely come without attendant psychological issues.  So, really, even if you got a non-ADHD agreeable therapist, you would still have someone versed enough in psychological issues to help you.  You shouldn't suffer alone like this.

Getting a Non-ADD Agreeable Therapist

The only issue in getting therapist who doesn't think ADD is real is that he/she then doesn't help address marital issues in ways that are meaningful within the reality of the ADD symptoms.  For example, if you go to a therapist and say "I think my spouse is lazy" and the therapist knows about ADD, she is more likely to ask you to look more closely at your assumptions and what's really going on.  If the therapist doesn't think ADD is real, she's more likely to say "give me some examples, then start to help you find ways to just tell you spouse to "work harder".  Not an effective approach with ADD.

Dr. Hallowell has actually said to me that going to a therapist who isn't versed in ADD can be worse than going to no therapist at pick your therapist carefully.