And Then I Met Someone Without ADHD....

My husband and I have been married for 2 months. We have lived together for 5 and a half years. Our whole relationship has been a rollercoaster. We moved in together quickly after we met, and began facing all of our problems like a whirlwind right as we were saying a swift goodbye to our honeymoon phase. It has been full of adventure and passion as well as an incredible amount of anger, disappointment, and tears.  This is due to my personality as well as his; or rather, it's how they interact with each other.

He is deeply committed to me and has many positive qualities. He is loyal, has a kind heart, and we have a lot of shared values. I am afraid of commitment; he has patiently taught me the ropes. We also have constant frustrations. He very rarely does what he says he will do (dishes may take weeks, he keeps his stuff in piles, is incapable of paying bills, etc.). He puts things off until the last minute and causes great deals of stress for us both. He leaves so many things to either fall apart or of me to take care of. This makes me feel like my time is not as valuable as his, and like things will not get taken care of unless I do them. He has a low tolerance for frustration, which is made worse by the fact that I get my feelings hurt easily. I've toughened up a lot, but I still deeply resent the way he talks to me over a comment that came off wrong, water spilled in the car, etc.

He started taking Adderall right before we got engaged....this is one of the only things that allowed us to get engaged. Things were getting better. He was getting more done, he had more energy to (get off of the freaking computer and) emotionally engage me without me having to keep asking for it. So we got married. He wrote beautiful vows that really cut to the heart of why I love him.  We wrote our whole ceremony by hand. We danced all night. I promised to stay and work through things no matter what. It was deeply meaningful.

And then, as you'd expect, we were still us. I'm still scared of our relationship. It feels very volitaile...but I'm never sure if I'm being flighty/petty/over-sensitive, or if my concerns are really legitimate. I think he deserves to feel someone's unconditional love and loyalty (like I feel from him) and I feel sad that I haven't been able to really ever offer that to him (I've tried to break it off 5+ times before we got married, and he's always convinced me to stay and work through things). I also would like something more or different from my marriage. I want to feel like things will be taken care of even if he'd rather play video games, that his mood will be more predictable, that he will treat me with kindness/gratitude/thoughtfulness, that when we fight he won't get emotionally out of control and make me feel hated instead of loved.

When we have the big conversations, my husband is always willing to work on things, to go to counseling, to read books, to change his diet, to exercise more, to schedule time together, to try whatever it takes. But it never lasts. Inevitibly, he is grumpy and consumed by the computer, leaving things undone and my emotional needs unmet. This larger pattern of our relationship always leaves me feeling unsettled, hurt, and unsatisfied.

So, for the past few months I have been going running a few times a week with a friend. He just went through a breakup; I was the person who worked him though it. We spent hours together, went on super long runs, played in rivers, cooked dinner, had wonderful conversations. We didn't talk about how we felt (and we were careful to keep our distance physically), but we developed feelings for each other. He told someone how he was feeling, and it got back to me. I told my husband about it (his feelings, not mine) and broke off the hanging out with this guy. My husband is not a possessive guy; he basically said he wasn't surprised that my friend developed feelings for me since he was going through a rough patch, and most of all he hoped I would have better boundaries in the future to protect our marriage. He also reiterated that he would never even consider doing anything similar that would come close to making me feel betrayed, and this is very true. He wouldn't.

But nonetheless, I can't get the other guy out of my head. I can't stop thinking about how different my life would be with someone else.  This guy, for example, is kind, emotionally stable, motivated, decidedly unselfish and so very considerate (my husband was not these things even in the first few months). The thoughts get especially intrusive after we have been fighting. I absolutely do not want to be someone who is always leaving for something better...I see the fruitlessness in that pattern. But I am scared about having kids with my husband. I am scared about the additional work and responsibility, having our fighting affect more people, about him emotionally disengaging and hurting me and the hypothetical kids...I know I can't predict the future, it's just that based on our pattern I don't really trust it. I feel like, right now, before we'vd had kids, I could change the ending to my story. But I don't know if I should.


I'm going to be hard on you,

I'm going to be hard on you, but I will endeavor to do it nicely. This is your life, but you need to buck up and realize you took vows with someone. You knew what he was like. Heck you lived with him for five years! That's more than I got my husband. I didn't know the half of it by the time the wedding was over and we had moved in together. But I have stuck to my vows. OK, that was the harsh part.

Now for the nice part. I totally understand where you are coming from. About a year into my marriage, I started hanging out with a co-worker who was super duper nice to me. He always complimented me on my intelligence, how pretty I was, etc. In short, he gave me the attention that my husband couldn't. I guess you could say that it was an emotional affair. At least a little bit. I didn't visualize us together per se, but it opened my eyes to what I could have if I wasn't with my husband. I eventually confessed and it hurt my husband very much. To this day he says he believes that one day I will leave him for some older, cultured guy. Soon after the big reveal, my hubby was diagnosed with ADHD and I was headed to a counselor for severe depression.

Four years down the road, our relationship still continues to be rocky. We've been in counseling together for nearly a year. My outlook on our marriage is very changeable. Some weeks, I'm upbeat and looking forward to the future. Some weeks I'm so weighed down with the reality of it and I wonder if we've hit our plateau--that now is as good as it will get. But then, something small will happen. The past two days (since our last counseling session where the counselor basically said we needed to poo or get off the pot) have been difficult for me. I've tried to keep it to myself and not spill out all over my hubby. Last night, I told him that I really needed a hug and would he come home soon? It was at least 5am before he came home (he plays pool at night because he can't sleep) but when he did, he came upstairs and laid down with me and told me that he wanted to be home at 1am not 5am and that he didn't know what happened. That simple act of honesty spoke more to me than a hundred excuses. It's times like this when I think we will make it, that eventually everything will be OK.

Fortunately for me, I am on the fence about having kids. I used to think like you and you're right--you absolutely should not introduce children into the picture. I eventually made my peace with the fact that I might not have children. And now I think he wants them now more than I do. Nonetheless, there has to be some lasting change and stability before we even go there.

I would definitely encourage you to seek counseling, especially if he is open to it. You need to lay out the ground rules. Tell him that you cannot continue on the path that you guys are on and that you both need to make a commitment to counseling. If he feels strongly about saving your marriage, then he will make the commitment. Will he want to go every week? Probably not, but he will ultimately make the decision to go anyway because he cares about you and your marriage.

Good luck to you. We're here for you whenever you need to vent.

I will just say that I share

I will just say that I share your story almost exactly and I chose to marry my husband who has ADHD and weather the challenges. However, once we had our daughter (3 years ago), everything began to change. I no longer was able to compensate for him and maintain my own sanity. I had a whole other human life that I was responsible for. Add the second kid, and our boat bottomed out. The last year (pregnancy and the birth of our son) has been a living hell together. He has basically been *distracted* the entire time. I have been sick, angry or sad for the majority of that time because I am under inordinate stress. I take care of almost everything with zero emotional support. Thank god I have a lot of friends and a wonderful mother. My husband seems to have become less functional at the very moment when I most needed him to step up to the plate. And the amazing thing is that he blames my anger, sadness and frustration on me and/or on personality differences, assuming that I do not have a legitimate reason to be overwhelmed and stressed. I actually had to find our dog a new home because it became impossible for me to be pregnant, care for our toddler, the house, a part-time job, school, all the bills, car maintenance, you name it and myself while also making sure that the dog got properly walked. That was the first time that there was a real consequence for his lack of doing what he has promised to do over and over again. I, too, believe that I love him underneath all the resentment and that he does deserve someone who really can accept him but also push him to become who he can become, but is is extremely hard to do it all while another person is creating more chaos for me to deal with while also being in almost total denial of the role he plays in our relationship. I have actually thought that I will likely die younger because of all the stress. But of course, I wouldn't leave because of the kids and because I don't give up. Ever, it seems. So what did my husband do? He impulsively fell for a 24 year old girl he met at a bar one evening. He said she reminded him of himself. Two weeks later he asked me for a divorce (never mentioning the other woman). A week later, I realized there was another woman. A woman who hates me because my husband has told her that I am a bad person who was emotionally abusive. He says the reason that he left is because we are "incompatible and fight all the time." I'd love to believe him because in some ways this has been a relief. In others, it has felt like MORE OF THE SAME. He was hardly here with us as a family even when he was physically present. I honestly hardly notice a difference in the amount of work I am doing. I do notice that there is a lot less stress from fighting BUT as time has passed (it's been two months now) it has become clear that not only is the woman he picked an alcoholic, but she is also a compulsive liar. So great, now I get to deal with this chaos even after divorce because we are stuck together for all eternity due to our kids. Recently he has told me that he thinks he ruined his life and wants to "fix it." He wanted to know if we could start "dating." He has a phenomenal inability to have any perspective and lacks insight on his own behavior.  Now he is mad at me that I didn't just open the door back up for him and has returned to the other woman, in spite of the fact that he has admitted that he thinks she would not be a safe person to have around the kids!! So, my answer? No, don't have kids. And yes, this is abnormal. Your life would be less stressful if you were not with your husband. It will be a lot more difficult leaving him once you have kids, if you want them. I have been quite depressed simply because I always had the fantasy that I could love him into changing. Now I am faced with 18 years of single parenting. It sucks. And that is an understatement. For the first time in my adult life, I am on an antidepressant.

Ohhh sweetie...

I know how you feel, all too well. We women have a funny quirk-we kind of need attention from someone we love. And when it feels like "pulling teeth," and some good-lookin thing comes along and tells you you are wonderful, it is so very attractive. It happened to me, and it very nearly cost me my relationship. Looking back, I see that my kind, thoughtful, complimentary "friend" was still just a guy-a guy who wanted something from me that I was not truly free to give. If this guy is acting on his feelings, knowing you are married, what does that say about his character?

I know better than anyone how gut-wrenching it can be to try and stay and work on these seemingly impossible things with your mate, but you did make that commitment, and not just until it gets difficult(unless there is abuse involved).

My guy's "computer" is either his X-box or his guitars-either way, I feel ignored, a lot. So what we have to do as their partner is to make a plan for success with them, telling them we NEED this, this, and this, and let's figure out how to do that. What can he do? Set an alarm for one hour and then, no matter what, he turns off the computer? Or make an iron-clad date night for once a week where the object is to look at each other, talk, touch, remember why you came together in the first place. Take my advice as someone who has been down that road but ditched it before it was too late, it is not worth it, if you love him. That man you adore is in there...maybe you just need to make a map to get to him that you both can follow! :0)

Thanks for your replies

Hi, it's been a while but I just wanted to come back here and thank those of you who took the time to reply. My husband and I have been married for almost 2 years now. After I wrote this post, I intensely worked on not thinking about this other guy and investing in the marriage for a solid year. We went to marriage therapy, which we both loved. We still had rough patches but for the most part things really got better. And it was always comforting to know that at the end of the week, there was someone else we could talk to about the things we couldn't figure out on our own. Our highs are very high - we get excited about each other, love/miss the other when we are apart, go on adventurous trips together, plan times to connect every week, and have plenty of sex.

But eventually our therapist moved away, and things slowly got very very inconsistent again. He can't or won't follow the guidelines we learned in therapy about good communication, and he defends his actions and behaviors which is incomprehensible to me. It is so strange to me, though, how quickly he moves on from an argument. He will get frustrated, say something nasty, yell, then go play the computer for an hour and come back out like nothing ever happened ("Hey! What should we have for dinner?"). Meanwhile, I am hurt, confused, and my commitment is flagging. I continue to feel so confused. Our relationship is so unpredictable that I am learning not to need/want it, so that good connected times can be a bonus, and bad times don't hurt so much. It sucks to have to numb yourself to survive your marriage.

Anyway, we are starting therapy back this week. He is always amenable to this (I just have to do all the work to get it set up, including hunting down his insurance card, verifying benefits, finding a therapist, etc.). I'm still struggling, because I have gone back to fantasizing all of the time about leaving. This one foot in one foot out things is not how I want to live my life, but I have such a hard time figuring out what I want to do. We plan to have kids in the next year or so, which we both want very badly (we are in our early 30s).  I have this feeling like he is going to be such an amazing father - he has a huge heart, is creative, and loves kids -, but I also believe that he has the potential to make our kid feel as unseen/unheard/unwanted as he makes me feel, and that our fighting is totally unacceptable for having a kid. So I agree with the posters who say do not bring a kid into this relationship. But how can I trust that it will ever be stable for a long time? It never has been in the past. If our relationship is what keeps me from having a child, the relationship is not what I would choose.

Things got tough for us after

Things got tough for us after we had one kid and I'm now at my breaking point with two kids.  I don't think I would have ended up on this site if we'd stayed at one kid.  Not that I regret having the second - she's the most lovely, happy, silly little baby in the world:)...but things are really, really tough right now.  Just a heads up - the more problems you can fix, anticipate before you have kids, the better.

Be very careful about kids

My situation is very similar to yours, my husband shares a lot of the same behaviors you mention above and will listen/try  but then slips back into the same old same old. I could have written this....

"He can't or won't follow the guidelines we learned in therapy about good communication, and he defends his actions and behaviors which is incomprehensible to me. It is so strange to me, though, how quickly he moves on from an argument. He will get frustrated, say something nasty, yell, then go play the computer for an hour and come back out like nothing ever happened ("Hey! What should we have for dinner?"). Meanwhile, I am hurt, confused, and my commitment is flagging. I continue to feel so confused. Our relationship is so unpredictable that I am learning not to need/want it, so that good connected times can be a bonus, and bad times don't hurt so much. It sucks to have to numb yourself to survive your marriage." 

Chances are things will get much worse after you have a kid.   There is just so much more to do and all of a sudden all free time seems to be gone.  Unless you navigate very carefully, You will end up taking most of the responsibility for the kid ( he will continue to take his "down" time  pursue  hobbies, new projects etc. and will be oblivious to how much more you are managing).  Added stress of parenting will trigger more frequent ADD bad behavior in him. He will likely take his stress out on you and the kid once he/she gets old enough.

Now picture your self numb, desperately tired of the roller coaster but wanting to keep your family together for the sake of the kid. It is very difficult to leave once there s more at stake.  

My husband can also be very creative/loving and is an amazing father, but then Mr. Hyde comes out.    Honestly since you are young and have time to meet someone else to have a family with my advice would be to move on unless you are willing to live with Dr. Jeckl and Mr. Hyde for your whole life. There is no guarantee he will ever get better.



I have 2 kids also...

and really want a 3rd until I think about what it would be like with my hubby. I want another...but not with him. So two kids it will be. I agree with everyone else, kids bring a whole other level of concentration. My hubby is a great dad, he spends time with the kids, he plays with them, he's there for them...he also is impatient with them, he takes his anger out on them, he is sometimes not safe with them (more so when they were younger) and his carelessness always makes me nervous, and sometimes I'm afraid if I'm not there he'll cross the line physically. If something should happen to me I don't like to think what my kids life would be like. I agree with your last statement immensly and it's good you are thinking about this now...

I feel for you

I read your original post and now the follow-up.  Boy can I relate. I have recently read about co-dependency and I think that is the role I have fallen into.

ADD is like alcoholism, I think, the person with the problem has to fix it for themselves.  Your guy is trying now.  Mine is not.  won't get any medical care for ADD, or otherwise.  No therapy.  So, sort of hopeless.

It is so sad.   We had so much.  there is so much still there.  But he is so stubborn. He will never consider my feelings, ever.  I think I am finally at the end.

But here I am still wound up in his stuff on this website.  I can't let go when I know I need to.  He won't ever get better and he will continue to hurt me, blame me, ignore me, demean me, etc, etc. forever.  I have to let him go. 

I wish I could meet a nice non-ADD guy that i was attracted to.  It might make it make more sense to me.