ADHD spouse always failing at business ventures

My ADHD husband is always trying to start new business ventures.  He has spent so much time and money in our 7 year marriage (and before that his parents were constantly financing his ideas) and nothing has ever worked but he says he will keep trying because he's not a quitter.  The problem is he jumps into things without having enough money to back him up and eventually loses the business and his investment, because he can't support it while it's in its early stages.  This is a man who has a business degree, he should know better!  His latest venture is going to be quite costly and time consuming and we have no money to invest in it.  I can see a disaster waiting to happen if he can get his hands on enough money to get started.  Does anyone else have this problem?  And how do you handle it?  We fight so much because he has financially devastated us in the past yet doesn't see that he is going down the same path again and again.  I try to reason with him but he says he's the one with the business degree and I don't know what I'm talking about.  His mother has tried to discourage him too and he won't listen to either of us.  I feel like he has no common sense and that irritates me to no end.  Help!



I'm So Exhausted's picture

Business Sense

Hi Laurie,

My ADHD spouse has been self-employed for 32 years.  Every extra cent we have goes into the business - to some degree.  We don't 'pay' ourselves, we just transfer money to our personal checking to pay the household bills.  It has been hand to mouth for all these years.  I did my best to encourage and support him.  The business has always been run by flying-by-the-seat of our pants.  With time blindness, my spouse has no schedule.  He goes to bed when he wants.  Gets up when he wants.  Answers calls when he wants.  Works when he wants.  Leaves when he wants.  Comes home when he wants.  Calls home when he wants.  Doesn't call if he doesn't think of it.

His business sense works like this:  Costo has the best vehicle batteries by Consumer Report ratings.  The next best is only 2 points lower - and at local companies.  Spouse things we should buy the Costo battery.

My business sense works like this:  The nearest Costco is 38-1/2 miles from our house.  77 mile round trip.  It will take 5.2 gallons of gas for a round trip.  At $3.50 gallon, that is $18.20 - PLUS  1-1/2 hours travel time.  I f there is a problem, we have to take it back to Costco. With only 2 points separating the local store battery from Costco's, it is not worth getting the Costco battery.

My spouse does the purchasing, the decision making - - it is his way or the highway.

ADHD negative executive function traits at their most obvious to a non-ADHD person.  

I can commiserate with you - it irritates me to no end.


I'm sorry you have to deal with this...

I'm sorry you have to deal with this, it's so extremely frustrating.  I often wonder what possessed me to marry someone who thinks so differently than I do.  It's like the very rational dealing with the very irrational.  So hard to take!

Right now my husband is talking about making a purchase of an item to run his new business with and the seller is willing to finance.  I have no idea how he thinks he is going to get up the down payment let alone the money run the business while it's getting started.  It will costs thousands every month to run the business and he has no customers/contracts yet and who knows how long it will take him to get some.  It's a risk we can't afford to take.  How can he not see that?  All he sees is the potential and he refuses to look at the reality that it could cost more than he is bringing in for a really long time.  I tell him he has to be prepared for the worst case scenario and he just gets angry and says I don't have faith or I'm negative. 

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Logic by the layer

My spouse loves to keep "stuff."  I call it junk, he sees possibilities.  His ADHD brain cannot  follow through to see if it could be something fruitful.  After 32 years,  his "ideas" are in layers behind our barn.  Rusting.  Rotting.  Covered with overgrown brush.  I see a junkyard.  He still sees possibilities.  

The service van needed some repairs - he put off the repairs for almost 2 years by swapping some parts with other vehicles on our property. Finally, my spouse was ready to fix it.  November 8th he started the $300 job.  I said I would feel comfortable with a $500 budget, giving him a little extra breathing room.  Imagine my dismay when I checked our online banking to find out he had spent $1,300.  And it wasn't done.  Finally LAST WEEK he got the van off the blocks.  It had been blocking our son's side of the barn, too.  Frustration all around.  My spouse doesn't see how spending $1,000 MORE should be an issue - as he said, "The truck needed the parts."  

He's almost like a hoarder

My husband is the same way...doesn't throw away anything.  When we married 7 years ago my home was kept up well and very neat inside and out.  My once empty unfinished basement is almost full of what I consider to be junk.  The sides of our house are piled with junk and the inside of my home has so much stuff in it it feels chaotic to me.  I was raised by very neat people and his family always had lots of junk around them so what we were used to in life was very different.  He sees me as OCD and I see him as being almost like a hoarder.  I definitely am not OCD, if I was I probably would have kicked him out (or killed him - LOL) long ago.  But I don't like to keep every glass jar and every plastic milk jug and old broken electronics, etc.  Our garage is full and so our our rafters.  It's crazy to me!

I'm So Exhausted's picture

For me, I did not see my

For me, I did not see my husband's negative ADHD behaviors for a very long time.  I spent many years trying to figure out why I just couldn't get this relationship right. "When will I ever get myself together?"   "When will I ever be a normal person?"  I even apologized to him for many years for being such a messed up person.  I spent 15 years in counseling, with my ever supportive spouse at my side.  Gak!  

I have spent the last 15 years trying to get my spouse to understand how his negative ADHD behaviors lead to chaos in our relationship.  Is is more than I can take.  It is not as thought I haven't tried.  Counselors.  Self Help book.  Marriage advice books.  Melissa's Couple Group was the last thing we tried.  I was - and am still - very disappointed it was not the miracle I had hoped it would be for us.

Fortunately my husband does

Fortunately my husband does not do this.  He has had several jobs before we met, until he finally got on with the fire department with the city.  I think and his psychiatrist said too, this is a good fit for him because of the structure (he was also in the military and it's very military-like).  Plus the shifts are varied, which plays havoc with his sleep (not good).  Does your husband accept that he has ADHD and is he in treatment or willing to get treatment?  And in a way, you are right, he doesn't have common sense, he can't remember how things turned out in the past so he thinks this time will be different.  I think that's all the ADHD and treatment could probably help.  I always thought my husband has no ability to be insightful, and he doesn't because of his ADD.  It helped so much to know that I wasn't crazy and he really does have something wrong with his brain, but it ends there since he won't follow through with treamtent.

Husband does accept his ADHD

My husband does accept that he has ADHD but he is not getting any form of treatment.  He did in the past, therapy and ritalin, both while he was in college before we met.  Ritalin gave him problems but he said therapy helped.  He would probably be willing to try something else but we are so broke we haven't been able to afford it.  With the insurance changes in this country our coverage is not as good as it used to be so we would be paying for it out of our pocket.  But honestly his mother tells me stories of when he was in school, and getting help for his ADHD, and he was the same way then - very irrational and didn't make smart decisions.  He says he's learned from his past mistakes but then I see him doing the same thing with the next one.  He now blames me for his failures.  Says I wouldn't let him run the businesses the way he wanted too.  The only thing I did was quit funding him because I ran out of money (I'm self employed myself and on a budget) .  I appreciate that he wants to keep trying but he just doesn't have good business sense.  I told him he needs to work for someone else for awhile and save his money in order to start a business and do it right.  Sometimes he agrees but the next thing I know he's back to talking about a new venture.  UGH!


The no common sense or insightfulness really gets to me. I just want to pull my hair out sometimes. 

Totally relate

My husband is unable to keep a job. For the 22 years we have been married he's been out of work for more than half. This latest stint we're going on more than two years.  He is always coming up with new ideas for his own business; they last for about a day, then fizzle out. So I totally know where you're coming from. I would never finance his ideas, though. Where is he getting all this money to finance all this? 

I make very good money and am able to work from home, so he is the stay at home dad. He runs errands, does laundry, etc. It works pretty well. 



I hear you

Lately my bf has been talking about starting his own business because he is unable to get a job. We don't share finances yet, but I am paying serious attention to his decision making since we have talked about getting married before (we have known each other for almost 8 years). To me, there is a lack of thinking things through in my bf's business ideas that also arises in other areas of his life.

My bf is an attorney and went to visit a friend-of-a-friend who is in prison (ugh don't get me started with some of his "friends"), which was a nice thing to do. He came back saying that this person used to be a plumber and was asking about employment opportunities for when he gets out; why he thinks my bf would know anything about this, I don't know. Anyway, bf says he wants to start a plumbing "business" hiring ex-inmates so they can be treated decently in a job situation. He knows absolutely nothing about plumbing or how to get a client base. He also said he was considering not mentioning to the customers that the employees would be ex-inmates! I told him I think that absolutely has to be mentioned up front. As I am typing this, I realize how ridiculous the whole thing sounds, but I took him seriously in conversation because I want him to be able to talk to me. At the same time, I felt guilty for not being totally upfront in the moment because I felt like I was talking to a child. His heart is in the right place, but his head is not! Aside from the fact that he knows nothing about plumbing, I thought he would know better as an attorney that there could be so many issues with this idea. Questions I asked included, "how would you make money?", "who would accompany the employees to people's homes?", "shouldn't you start a business that can stand on its own two feet before hiring ex-cons?", etc. I can't believe some of these words came out of my mouth, but these are the conversations we are having now that he is feeling down about being unemployed. 

I can't imagine the amount of stress I would be feeling if we were married and my money were involved. I feel like I have to play along with these ideas instead of just telling him how ridiculous I think they are because I don't want him to stop listening to me, but I know that is not a solution. I don't think it would matter what I said if I disagreed with him because often he only hears what he tells himself. Sometimes I feel like my bf dreams too big or jumps to imagining the finished product because he is afraid of his shortcomings or the possibility of failure. That is as close as I come to understanding it. 


If my money wasn't involved

If my money wasn't involved I would probably be much more sensitive to my husbands feelings.  I know I'm not very nice to him when he starts talking to me about business ideas or dreams he has.  I'm just so tired of hearing it!  I'm the type of person who makes things happen and he's the type who just talks and dreams.  I never really see anything happen.  I wish now that I had insisted that we keep our finances totally separate after we got married.  That would have forced him to provide for himself and I would still be in good shape financially.  But I can't turn back time.  I have learned my lesson though and I will not fund his ideas anymore.  If he wants to start a business he can do it with someone else's money, or better yet, work hard and use his own money.  I don't think he respected my money because he wasn't the one who worked hard to earn it.  Yet I also think he believes each of his ideas will take off and make him a fortune.  He's a dreamer and I'm a realist, although he calls me a pessimist.  Maybe after all I've been through I have turned into one.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Finances and Financial Planning


I would say it is one of the hardest things I struggle with in relating to my ADHD spouse.  He will not rely on my knowledge of our financial situation.  He goes by he feels on any given day.  If he is in an up-mood, then he feels as though he can spend money on anything.  Last year he attended a conference for 3 days.  We planned out the budget in advance - hotel, food, admission, parking and gas to and from the event - it was in another state, 6 hours away.  There was limited extra money to spend.  I was very dismayed when he got home and I found out he had bought over $500.00 of tools.  The convention was a ig expense in itself.  Why he does not remember our discussions on the budget and stick to them is aggravating.  

I feel for you!  My husband

I feel for you!  My husband has done similar things.  Sometimes I seems like he thinks we have a money tree in our back yard!  I have to be completely responsible for the finances or we won't have the money to pay the bills.  My husband actually likes that I handle the money and the bill paying but it frustrates me that he doesn't really know what goes out on a monthly basis.  I'm always the one worrying about money and making sure ends meet.  It's draining.