ON again OFF again - the moving target of a marriage separation.

Hi again. I started the topic "Wife-Moving-Out" ( http://www.adhdmarriage.com/content/wife-moving-out-now#comment-14875 ) some time ago. I said I would close that topic because at that time we were planning on ending the separation on 5/1/2011.

Well -- maybe that should have been talked about more. This is a crazy turn of events, for this ADHD husband. But -- it's not all bad. First of all, my non-ADHD Dear Wife (DW) brought up that she would like to move back home spontaneously through no encouragement from me... which spun my head around. Then I countered with "lets not move to fast". The date of 5/1/11 was set and we took it to our marriage counseling sessions. All seemed well. Our counselor suggested that she have a 1 or 2 nighter back home to see how that went.

Uh, crap... well -- it was heaven for me. I miss my DW to the core. The initial reaction I had to her moving out wasn't good, as the housework went to hell, I spent a couple (or three) weeks in the pity pot, and then got back on track. But - after only a week and a half back on track, things weren't as spiffy around there. To summarize, the second day of her stay - she said maybe she wouldn't move back 5/1, but was thinking of 6/1. Shocker.

See - I'm just trying to do what I am supposed to do. So - for my non-ADHD dear wife to keep moving the target is a real DE-focus event for me. It took me about 16 hours to try to understand what had happened. I didn't like it. I really didn't like it. So -- I tried to cool off and then just talked about it. Seems that my DW is still very uncomfortable around the house. Many memories just not dealt with. As much as I don't like this, I only expressed my confusion and that I was disturbed by the waffle-ing. I asked that she brings this in her words to our marriage counseling session tomorrow. I asked that we do NOT set a date at this time (Yeah - I know, me saying that - again). She apologized for waffling about it and agreed.

So -- on a positive note, we are committed to a plan, and we both agreed, that will include more than just a date of her coming home. It will include statements about who will pay the bills or which bills, who will be responsible for housework and when, etc... I felt a little downer about that because I've taken on paying the bills, and the housework (although I can't do it all - HEY -- I need help with it like she always said... <grin>). We are compiling a list of index cards with projects on it. She has requested that we paint the living room together. I reminded her that I almost demanded that she not attempt that herself -- that I WOULD HELP!!!

So -- this thread... I'd like it to be about tools for coming together on these issues such as the above two paragraphs. Difficulties and how others have overcome them in successful separation plans, er I mean reuniting plans.... you get it? Try and end each post in a positive note, or a forward looking plan, or just a hello - I've been there.

A hard hit for me to swallow - the delay - but to blow my own whistle, I think I'm doing better. On to the index card project file!!!

sullygrl's picture

I think your plan to bring things to counseling is brilliant!

This is a landmine for sure - ending a separation, trying to plan for moving back in together - it's a LOT. And so your wife needs to talk about, in counseling, why she needs the extra month. What about the house has memories? She might benefit from some of her own Cognitive Behavior Therapy, to help her re-focus away from the negative aspects and be able to see the positive. (this is not only the kitchen table that we had our last argument at, it is also the table where we had candlelight dinners and laughed)

My husband and I are actually in the midst of an in-house separation (I am in the guest room). It is not so much of a timetable that I am looking for but more milestones of seeing if he can offer me what I need as a spouse - attention, affection, communication that doesn't just involve being talked AT and then not really listening to what I have to say. The ability to not get so agitated over the least thing that I find myself upping my meds and taking deep breaths for him. The ability to make a decision and not stress out for years after that it was the wrong one. Do I think he will be able to do all, be all? No. I just want him to do some work and meet me in the middle somewhere. Maybe you need to find out what it is that is holding your wife back from setting a date at this point. Is there some need not being met? Some behavior she still can't deal with? Is she simply afraid of things going backwards once she is back in the house?

Then take her to the local paint store, get the equipment, pick the color together, and start on the living room! 

Counseling and separation

My husband has ADHD and he has filed for divorce.  After researching the impact it has on marriages, I am so much more aware of how the lack of intimacy in our relationship developed. I manage the household and became more his mom than his partner.  As the clock ticks toward our trial date, I am desperate to reconcile.  He has been sleeping at a friends as well as in our guest room. We share dinner nightly and I see that he still cares.  I made an appointment with a psychologist in hopes that he will come with me.  But I anticipate resistance from him since he is convinced that divorce is the only option.  Any ideas on how I can invite him to therapy without making him feel manipulated?


I thought I was going to get the usual blowback when I considered asking my DH to go to counseling. He indicated previously that he just about rather die than go to counseling. But as it turns out, it came up in a casual conversation and I told him I was going. He blinked at me, so I told him he was welcome to join me. He said "we'll see" for a few days and ended up going with me. That was it, no drama, nothing. He knows he's not being manipulated because it was very direct. Perhaps you could simply ask, over the phone if you have to.
sullygrl's picture

Really just ask

What do you have to lose at this point? Tell him you made the appointment for you, but you are hoping he will go with you and maybe you can talk/deal with some things with a neutral third party in a "safe" environment before it's too late for you as a couple.

Hi Faith, There is are a lot

Hi Faith, There is are a lot of spouses here who can relate very well to what you are saying (including me). The actions of your husband are heartbreaking. - it was similar at my house..and knowing how the parent child dynamic in my marriage developed and helped to contribute towards my anger and resentment as well as confirmed his feelings of inadequacy did not help the situation once the "formal diagnosis" came out. In fact it was much worse, because my unwitting joy in finding some explanation of what was going on seemed (w a lets fix it attitude) to come out as a its your fault and "you"re damaged" pointing of the finger.. At least that is how it seemed to be perceived my husband. This is not what I feel and my desperation in trying to get our relationship to where we both could finally find peace was largely viewed (and still is) as controlling. All this is to say that there are no easy answers-- ultimately you cant make your spouse do something he doesnt want to do. I continue to love my husband and hope for us to find a new and more balanced way to interact while losing the egg shell rollercoaster ride that is so familiar. It has been H#LL. But slow steps in the right direction seem to be happening even as at this moment I have no idea if or for how long my marriage will continue. I have come to realize that this big break has not been completely all bad because if nothing else we are at least realizing and somewhat discussing what has been lacking/misinterpreted all these years. In the meantime it has been crucial for me to reasess what I need as a person, lover, friend, partner..- and how those roles fit in (or not) with ny husband. I repeat- I love my husband and that is probably amazing to anyone who has read my previous posts, or to my friends who I have cried to, or to my family. Or even to my amazing therapist. But the only way I have felt I could keep it together (at least this far) was by taking things slow, finding separate places of support (friends, this site, family), reading as much as I can on this subject and codependence, worked on MY emotional baggage,.. Ugh and so much more. Plus I have come to realize that though adhd may blur how things come out (the anger and in our case defiant behavior doesnt help) the needs of my husband are no less real than mine. He HAS to feel good about himself and, for our marriage, it hopefully will be in a way that fits my needs - which are no less important. The bottom line, Faith, is that a good counselor can help but there is also much more that needs to...evolve...and you must work to find your strength and support separate from your husband to help see you through. I am sorry that I cant be more helpful but please know that you are not alone, not crazy, and not (i am sure) unloved.

Thanks so much for your

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.  My husband did not come to the therapist but I went alone.  When I saw my husband later on in the evening, I acted aloof and tried not to interact too much with him.  He seemed very confused and surprised that I was not hanging on his every word or trying to engage in deep conversation.  He approached me later on and asked how the therapist was and if I made another appointment. This is the same guy who was vehemently against going the day before!  I said that yes I had made another appointment but I did not push the issue.  So I think (hope) that if I move slowly and keep my distance, he may be more receptive.  It keeps me sane, it prevents him from hurting me, and it keeps him guessing.  So my fingers are crossed that he will agree to come to the therapist next week and we can go from there. I know he needs to help himself and that I cannot "fix" him.  But I guess I can control my reactions to him so that he sees what life is like without my care and support (at least for now).  Tough love, right??

I can assure you that the

I can assure you that the harder you try to 'fix' him, the more he will resist it. What you saw was him reacting to your not coming home and spilling all of the details of counseling and trying to convince him to go. When we focus on ourselves and let them focus on themselves then they are much more willing to 'join' the fight for the marriage. A good friend recently told me that me trying to force things (counseling, reading Melissa's book) it pretty much takes away his God given right (and responsibility) to make his own choices about how he wants to fight for his marriage, prove that he cares about my happiness, and how he plans to go about doing that. I think the fear is that if we don't do SOMETHING, they will do nothing, and nothing will change and quite possibly our marriages won't survive.

I have been in a position, for about 2 months now, of trying to find my own way and follow my own path and let my husband go his own way. His 'own way' so far has been to choose to do nothing which has put a huge strain on the marriage. BUT...I am coming to terms with the fact that even if the choices he makes do not involve things that I need in order to be able to move forward with him, it is of HIS OWN DOING and not mine. It isn't that I am not trying, I am just not trying to force him to try. (I'm working on it anyway, it is a work in progress, that's for sure). Just like all humans, he has consequences of his choices...and I won't carry the burden of that for him anymore. I also won't carry the guilt, if in the end he choices to continue to do nothing, and our marriage fails because of it. I have come to terms with all possible outcomes. I hope that all of the books and advice I get are right and that forcing him to carry his own burden in the marriage will be 'the thing' that 'works'...nothing else has up to this point.

Best of luck to you! Keep focusing on counseling for yourself...and let him come to whatever conclusions he wants on his own.

I agree with you 100%.  He

I agree with you 100%.  He knows I want to fight for the marriage.  But once I indicate that perhaps I'm done, he all of a sudden becomes more attentive. If he comes home and I appear indifferent, he seems to get nervous.  I have always been the caretaker, the concerned spouse. He is so used to it, when I back off, he doesn't know what to do!  And yes, feeling like I am doing "nothing" is hard.  I am go-getter, a problem solver. So it is difficult to sit back. It took me a long time to realize that backing off makes much more of an impact than my previous attempts to "help" him. Plus it makes me feel much calmer when I don't have to listen to his negative thoughts or hurtful words of blame.  I have my own space that he can't invade.  I'm getting better at it. And perhaps this recent change will encourage him to come to me about the counseling. I have promised myself not to bring it up unless he does.  It is hard to be so strong!

Yes, me too...the very

Yes, me too...the very hardest thing I have had to learn is to just STOP TRYING TO FIX EVERYTHING BEFORE SUNDOWN TODAY. I feel your pain. It is my nature, just as yours. Our counselor once said that my 'fixer' nature is the worst kind of nature to have being married to someone with ADHD, and she is 100% right. That nature is what caused him to end up doing NOTHING around the house, having ZERO input or responsibility for the finances (except that he earns the money), being a 'friend' to his daugther (my SD) instead of a father (because I couldn't stand to feel like nothing was being done, so I took over), etc. I have basically 'taken over' every.single.frickin.thing.in.our.lives and now he feels like he has no place of respect or authority. I didn't want it, but it was just all a snowball effect of me feeling like he was out of control, so I took over the reigns instead of just letting him make his own mistakes and suffer his own consequences. One of the more enlightening experiences in counseling was when he said "why can't you just stop trying to fix us and just relax?" Now granted, easy for him to say...he's the one who has some serious issues that really need to be resolved (cheating, lying, overspending) but still yet it dawned on me...and just like I said before...he's right. I am no longer going to carry the burden of "omg, what if he cheats again" because it won't change anything, it won't stop it from happening (might even exacerbate the problem) and by me expecting it, I am freeing him of the burden of the responsibility to prove that he won't. I promise you...please discuss it with your counselor...the more you leave him to face his own responsibilities (will he go to counseling? will he read about ADHD? will he seek treatment?) the more you take away from him the need to do anything on his own. Last night was just a small glimpse of how this really does keep the cycle of things going...and how you have more power than you realize to stop the cycle and start doing things differently. ((HUGS))

OK, so what do you do if there are problems.....

that have to be solved right away. I can't decide "it's ok, I can wait 6 months for him to decide to do it" about the tv stand that is on my floor making it impossible for me to walk through the living room. I can't go 6 months without a car while he dithers about what to do about his and takes mine (and fusses because I'm not working).

ADHD can produce dangerous situations that just have to dealt with NOW! They have consequences for ME! What do you do about those things?

I don't know, lady...maybe

I don't know, lady...maybe Melissa or someone more 'seasoned' than myself can give you some advice. I would not rest until the car was fixed, that is an issue that keeps you from being able to function and needs to be done ASAP. I would have purchased the TV stand assembled or I would find someone to do it if I couldn't...or I would leave it in the floor for how ever long it took for him to put it together. Have you mentioned it or asked him "would you mind to help me put the TV stand together? I can't do much, but I will help anyway I can. I would really like to get it done soon so we can enjoy it". Whose decision was it to buy it? Maybe in the future, just have a discussion about it before purchasing something that requires assembly making sure to avoid the issue?

I am not willing to not mow the yard or not to the laundry or not keep the house half way clean waiting on him to do it. I do have a plan for my future, if we end up staying married, and those plans include getting a lot more help around the house than I get now. Right now I'm lucky to get ANYTHING from him..he's barely even working enough to maintain his job. The things I was talking about, just letting them suffer the consequences, is the refusal to get help and the refusal to acknowledge the issues their ADHD causes in the marriage. I've spent many years trying to make him understand how his behaviors are wearing me down, and now that we KNOW what has been behind all of the 'things never change' fights and problems we've had, his refusal to do anything about it is 100 times worse. So, I am looking forward with my own life and hoping that the day will come that he decides to plug back in and accept his part in what has happened. If not, his consequences will be that he loses me. That is what I was referring to early. Same issues Faith was having...husband refusing to admit his fault in any of the issues in the marriage. I think everything starts with the acknowledgement that ADHD causes the issues it does...then you can address the lack of help around the house and the procrastination that you see with TV stands and household projects. Otherwise, everything is like putting the cart before the horse. Treat the ADHD or nothing will ever change. If they refuse, then there are consequences.

important distinction

I'm SO with you guys on the "fix-it" problem I have; I too am a problem solver. When I find myself in a place where I don't want to be spiritually, emotionally, or whatever, I reflect and educate myself until I understand it well enough to find solutions even if it will take time to change/complete. Reading your struggles that are so similar to mine, I still find myself trying to determine how "moving forward on my path" is different from "quitting on my marriage." My definition of marriage is a togetherness which resembles two horses hitched to the same cart. One horse can't pull the load without the other agreeing to at least walk in the harness, even if not willing to pull the share of the load. While I understand a measure of self protection is necessary, I can't wrap my head around the concept of moving forward for myself, so to speak, when the other harness is not yet empty. All I can do is bide a while or keep moving, harness, load and all. How do you (plural) make the distinction?

For me, it requires a lot of

For me, it requires a lot of patience, a lot of 'giving up' every other day, a lot of 'ok, I am not really ready to give up so I'll be patient a little longer', and a lot of prayer.

For me a lot of it is me focusing on the realization that I cannot change him, he knows how I feel and how unhappy I am, and knowing that eventually one of two things is going to happen..he's going to agree to resume counseling with me or I am going to decide I can't do this anymore. At this point, it probably just depends on who 'gets there' first. It is a sickening thought, but it is where we are.

I know he's struggled with a lot in the past few months, but life just simply cannot go on this way. I had gotten to where I wouldn't leave the house because he wouldn't do anything with us as a family, I obsessed over the fact that he was sleeping in the den, I couldn't even focus on my school work because all I thought about was him, my marriage, how I was going to 'fix' him, and was pulling all sorts of stunts and tricks to get him 'motivated' to get with the program. For me, moving forward meant getting out of the house and enjoying the beautiful days we're having (even if I miss him being with us), accepting that it is OK for me to enjoy my big ole king sized bed alone for the time being, and putting the focus back on my kids and my school work and off of him. When I find myself wanting to text him with my latest idea on how to 'fix' him, I pray. I seek support from others. I do whatever I have to do until the moment passes to communicate with him when I am in my 'fix him NOW' mode. It isn't easy, but I'm getting there. I miss him, but I may end up moving forward without him so I may as well get used to it now..and if it doesn't come to fruition, then all the better.

I know these are all the

I know these are all the right things to do.. Get on with life, give him space, etc.. But do you ever worry he will start to think that you are now "okay" (albeit unhappy) with how things are and assume thats all that can be done in your marriage? I have had that anxiety for awhile because sometimes it seems that if we dont talk, he starts to think all is well and calm- even if we have not talked in weeks...

Yes. It is definitely a

Yes. It is definitely a delicate balance between making sure he understands that I am not Ok with us NOT getting counseling, being civil/not shutting him out completely, and not letting his 'being nice' to me make me forget that I have boundaries and we have issues that need to be addressed. I am afraid of several things. For starters, I am afraid if I am nice to him, he'll think everything is fine 'just the way it is' and nothing will ever change. I am not being mean, but I am having a very hard time engaging with him in conversations (never about anything 'serious') because it feels like "pretending" to me. I KNOW this is wrong, but when I would reach out to him, earlier on, and nothing changed...well, admittedly my walls have just started going up. My biggest fear is that if I give him sex and I engage in conversation with him when he decides to show his face (come out of the den), and accept his offer for lunch or to go riding once every blue moon, that he'll end up living in the den indefinitely. I guess bottom line, as stupid and ashamed as I am to admit it, I just don't want to give him anything when I am getting nothing in return.

I know ideally I should put myself out there and hope for the best, but honest to God history with him dictates that 'the best' isn't what will come of this situation. We spent almost 3 years living separate lives (he slept on the couch) and I am NOT willing to accept that as my 'marriage' anymore. When he begged my forgiveness for his affair in Dec 09 I told him that him coming to bed when I do was something that I wanted and was VERY important to me. I can't pretend it isn't just because he's going through a hard time.

The straw that pretty much crippled the camel..but didn't break his back yet...was when he told me last week "it is your way or no way..this is not going to be done all your way". I had told him we needed to open up the lines of communication or I didn't want to continue with this life. He said we could talk..BUT...he wanted me to respect his feelings. I IMMEDIATELY knew that attitude (and quite frankly my own attitude) that we were going to need some help. I told him I would make an appt with our counselor..and that was the end of it. That was just me having to have everything my way. He seems to forget that I INSISTED we get counseling until we got our marriage back on track when I took him back...and he swore he would do anything I wanted.

It is just so frustrating...but I just know that I am working on my reactions, realizing I have a long way to go, trying to let him be responsible for his decisions (trying not to manipulate them), and just trying to be patient. I still love him, but I am not getting any younger and I can't do this another 13 years and wake up one day and realize my best years are behind me.

TV Stand

When we got the new TV, I spent several weeks looking for an appropriate stand/entertainment center for it. It would need to hold the vcr, DVD player and cable box and my videotapes, which my husband despises with a purple passion. The ones I found fell into 2 categories-assembled and I'd have to pay someone to deliver them (our cars are small) or unassembled. I found this one, it's the perfect size and number of shelves, etc. and I asked him and he said he'd do it. He ripped the box off, and did step 1 of 12, so now I can't return it. One night I came home from school and burst into tears because I could not walk across the living room safely. So it's been for the last 6 months. I need to be safe. I need this done. I can't do it, and can't afford to pay anyone to do it, and he won't. I'm stuck! He no longer hyperfocuses on me so the fact that this thing is taking over my life does not bother him.

He is pressuring me to get a job. Of course I want to but I want a paralegal job and they are few and far between. When I send resumes or answer ads, nothing happens. I've had one interview and I could tell he wasn't interested from the moment he met me and saw that I am somewhat disabled. It was like flipping a switch. I believe my husband wants me to work to support us, so he can spend all his earnings on the gas and car payment to support his job. We now have to find a new car for him with bad credit, that will last as long as the payments and he drives 30,000 miles a year. He won't consider a second job to pay for his own gas, and he won't look for another job. He just refuses. His job is his hyperfocus. I think I could drop dead and he'd just go on to the next client. I'm glad he loves his job, but I'd still like a little of the attention he gives his clients.

He has no compunction about taking my stuff because he needs it. He lost his phone, he took mine. I have to go somewhere today I'm not familiar with and it would be great to have a phone, but of course, that's not as important as his need. He has my car (I've got it today because I drove him to work and he took the company car to out-of-town clients) and does not feel bad about that. To criticize me for not working when he has my car is just not fair. He's lost his debit card, which is going to create a problem because he has to buy gas every other day.

This is as good as "treatment" gets for him. He takes meds but they are worn off by the time he gets home. He went 2 weeks without them because we couldn't afford them and I never even saw a difference. I've asked him to ask about a short-acting "booster" for last afternoon/evening but he doesn't ask. I'm not the patient, so I can't. His doctors don't recommend counseling or anything. He won't read books because he can only read a book if he can read it in one sitting and he works so he can't do that. He thinks as long as he works and takes meds, that's all I can expect. I was thrilled when he went back to work, but find it isn't enough. If he is being "treated" I have to accept that this is as good as it gets and find a way to deal with the ways in which it affects me. That's why I write posts like this.

Sherri, I am sorry for your situation. I know what it feels like to know your husband could be so much happier and more fulfilled but they choose not to.

I think it was in hallowells

I think it was in hallowells driven to distraction, that spoke of what the best kInd of partner it was to have if you have adhd (?). - he was adressing his comment to tge individual w adhd. Someone organized, a doer... but what strikes me is that it sounds a lot like so many of us here who are the partners. In fact my DH has said more than once was that the initial appealing (to him) thing about me was my "doer" go/getter mentality- and that has been the same thing that has been ultimately a strain on our relationship (at least for me). I have pulled back bigtime, but am not able to deal w secrets including finances, which he keeps insisting on.. The worst thing however, is his continued inexplicable ability to not acknowledge his part in our difficulties while acknowledging his adhd in other areas of his life.. And being so awful and mean in his comments and (sometimes) actions when he is "raging" in his symptoms. I cant, no matter how strong my other support system, get past his mean and unwitting (to him) denigrating comments. I have come to a place where I can laugh, enjoy other aspects of my life, etc.. But when DH is in his "apathetic and mean" mode it is so so hard. Any ideas on how to go past those?!!

It is comforting to see that

It is comforting to see that I am not alone. Reading these posts is so comforting. It is very isolating to experience a relationship like the ones we are in. Thanks so much for your support, ladies. The bottom line is that we have to nurture ourselves before we can nurture our husbands. We are all so used to tending to their needs, that we feel awkward tending to our own. Just backing off for a few days has done a world of good. I already see a change in him as he notices my independance. He is more present and curious about this new me. And it feels so good to have my own life back. Backing off is not giving up. It's showing them what they have to lose.Stay strong girls!!!

that is THE most profound

that is THE most profound thread I have read so far... Thanks so much for your inspiration