Advice for ADHD Man - Set a New Course

While my husband reads most of the posts on this site as the administrator, he rarely weighs in.  But yesterday he posted some heartfelt – and very wise - advice to a man with ADD whose wife is leaving him because she can’t take it anymore.  George’s perspective as a previously badly behaving man with ADD who has successfully changed his life is worth sharing.  Here’s what he says:

From the initial poster:
“Well I guess that anyone who have read my prior post know that my marriage was in danger due to my 36 years of not knowing I had ADHD, Well it won, my wife is leaving me, and to make matters worse she had a affair. I know that we must move on and to keep on our med's so we can still improve our self but I feel like my whole life is gone. Im not only losing a wife but I’m losing a family, we have to children together and I won’t be able to tuck them in every night or kiss there them when they’re hurt.  I’m not sure I can survive this and its only getting worse.”

Reply from George:

You can feel sorry for yourself and blame the world and everyone for your current challenges (very easy to do in your current circumstances), or ...

You can step back and take in what happened and why, and then chart a course to correct the actions (and lack of actions) that contributed, over all these years, to your current dilemma.  With a new course, you will likely be able to continue to be a father to your children and a reasonable partner to whomever you might find in the future.  You need to come to grips with the fact that you didn't lose your wife, you actively and passively drove her away.  You need to fully understand how your actions and inactions affect others (wife, coworkers, children, friends), and correct them.  Awareness is a good start, but it sounds like from reading your and your wife's posts, that you did not quickly enough turn awareness into action.

Treating ADHD is not just being aware of the symptoms and how they manifest themselves, but treating yourself (via meds, exercise, diet) and then learning how to change behaviors that have become habits over an entire lifetime.  Yes, unfortunately, meds and other ADHD "cures" allow you to start changing behaviors, but do not in and of themselves make the changes for you or start to solve most of your problems (Let me be clear - I am NOT against meds for treatment of ADHD - they are in most cases required and in many cases extremely helping in allowing you to work at changing your habits).

Who knows, if you change your behaviors and the attendant outcomes radically enough and quickly enough, your current wife might notice and change her mind before the divorce runs its course.  But, that should NOT be your expectation or even your goal, it just might be a pleasant collateral outcome.  If you make it your goal, your wife won't believe the effect will last (you have given her ample reasons to doubt you over many years).  But you will end up as the person you want to be, the father you hope to be, and the positive ex-husband partner in raising your children.  Divorce doesn't allow you to abdicate responsibility for your children, and that responsibility is best exercised when you have a positive intra- and post-divorce experience.

Your choice.  Wallow in self pity (and be guaranteed the outcome you dread).  Be the man you want to be, and increase the possibility of saving your current relationship (from near zero) and to ensure that any future relationships will not suffer the same fate.

Sound too harsh?  Sorry.  But I wish someone (besides my wife) had sat me down and read me the riot act.  I could have saved one marriage, and not caused my second/current wife a decade of intense pain and anguish.

ps If you want to know what actions/inactions to change, peruse the forums here.  Many partners of ADHDers have been quite clear, but their spouses don't/didn't get it.  I didn't for the longest time.  And get help.