I've never posted so bear with me. I'm an ADD husband, recently diagnosed in the last 2 years after my wife raised some of the symptoms to me. Quick bio...although I've been successful in my career, great with money/investments, an open communicator, able to share feelings/emotions I do struggle with:
- Overstimulation - work calls, kid asking for help, my wife texting me at the same time - I get overloaded, which can lead to anger. My awareness in this has shown a drop in the number of occurrences but not out of the woods yet.
- Forgetfulness - I have implemented task tools and many lists to save me! I simply can't remember a task if I'm multi-tasking, I have to dedicate 100% of my time to listening and writing it down.
- Prioritization - work and home life, I live for the last minute. Trying to get better in scheduling time to work on long term projects/tasks but can easily drift to the shiny object (try to keep my phone face down, email notifications off etc)
- Medication - for the past 2 years I've been taking a stimulant which is helping.
One aspect of my marriage that I've stressed and communicated with my wife, which I feel is the CONSTANT area of concern for me is around sex, love and intimacy. I've always connected sexually and I'm aware of my higher desires. Ideally, sex of any kind (meaning not only intercourse) 2-3 x week would be perfect.
Roughly 3 years ago I wrote my wife a letter that I was struggling with our lack of sex life - I was always the initiator, seeker - the ask for sex is my responsibility while the permission (frequency) is always hers. I should mention that we have one son and spent 5 years of unsuccessful fertility treatments - which impacted our sex life and stressed our foundation. This letter, for better or worse, started a journey with a sex therapist and although these sessions helped they didn't focus on sex/intimacy specifically but more on problem resolution and overcoming infertility. Not diminishing this, it was very helpful but ironically our sex life . I was hopeful that focusing on these areas would create a stronger foundation that would help in the intimacy department.
Fast forward to today. We are attending the ADHD Marriage Course that Melissa is running. I've learned a lot about areas to improve and tools that could be helpful - we haven't tackled the sex topic yet (the next two upcoming sessions).
Okay....now the reason and question at hand. For the past 3 years I've expressed how any and all sex/intimacy is put on me. I would say 100% of the time I have to initiate and 90% of the time flirting, kissing, embracing, holding, caressing etc. falls to me. Deep down I can feel her apprehension and resistance, which is a crushing feeling inside. When I ask why she can't feel the same way - i.e. show strong desire & interest to take a bath or head upstairs to have romance & sex - she will tell me there are trust issues, our foundation is crumbling and this is primarily due to my ADD and specifically these moments of anger.
I've tried to explain that I feel the toll of years of constant rejection is what causes these moments of flooding and anger. We will have weeks of getting along, connecting and overall happiness - I'll seek to take this goodwill and connect for intimacy - I'm shut down. Prior to 3 years ago, I don't think this would bother me but over the past few years of effort and most recently the readings and learnings I have made around ADHD has caused growing resentment on my side. For what it's worth, I'm healthy & fit, have been in the same job for 5+ years where I work from home (even before COVID) and make great money (not bragging, highlighting given ADD I'm financially strong). I have no expensive hobbies, I help on the home front by driving my son to school daily and getting him ready, try my best to vacuum and clean, grocery shop (again, not as much as my wife but where/when I can given my demanding job), cook ~40% of the time. Plus, we camp every weekend which I spend hours prepping for weekly and then drive / tow which can be stressful. My wife left her job 6 months before COVID and with the homeschooling requirements and poor job market hasn't worked in 2 years (financially we are fortunate she doesn't have to but this has been a struggle for her).
I provide the above background now to highlight that I'm amazing, it's to share my inner thoughts about why I have growing resentment. Recent example; we had a great time this past weekend camping where we connected and didn't fight, in fact we had an entire week of no arguments. While driving home I asked if we could listen to Ari Newman & Melissa's podcast video on sex - my wife agreed but 5 minutes into the podcast she stated that she "doesn't believe in everything he does". Not instantly but as we continued to drive home I boiled over as it feels as though the one key area of concern for me is around lack of intimacy & sex - my wife will get in an instant mood when I bring this up. This makes me feel that my area of concern is not important to her. The feedback I receive for not wanting to connect feels like a moving target. This last time it was caused by my son annoying her earlier in the day when playing a board game, other times it's that she's not in the mood or once I was told that I had a "tone" when I said I was getting overstimulated (perhaps I did have a tone but I didn't lash out or get angry but simply communicated that I was getting overstimulated and if two competing noises from an iPhone and iPad playing two separate videos in the car while I was towing a trailer could be turned down - that was referenced as killing her mood/desire and stated as the reason for declining intimacy that night.
This cycle repeats weekly. Getting along and communicating great, then I seek intimacy or sex (at any level), will get rejected and this will lead to an outburst from me...rinse....repeat.
I once tried not initiating for two months, no impact. My wife is confident that if we work on our foundation and manage my ADHD with Melissa's course to guide us that she will be open to connecting sexually. I struggle as this was the same thoughts about Attachment Theory (which I read inside/out), Love Languages (which I read inside/out) or my upbringing as a child and/or the lack of long term relationships I had before getting married. I feel we've tried this for 2.5 years and in the last 6 months I keep stating the lack of sexual intimacy is creating further resentment on my part and I'm asking her to make investments in our sex life (actions, not words - small consistent steps, I even suggested Sensate). I've tried various ranges of attempts; intercourse, oral, showers, baths, cuddling, reading erotica, caressing, etc. Given our 5-6 times we have sex per year, these asks are met a handful of times with a disengaged experience. I have said things I don't mean to make her aware of how important this is to me, I wasn't serious but suggested an open marriage to highlight that if you don't want this in our marriage then why are you asking for monogamy....I knew it was a terrible path to take but thought it might draw awareness to the severity.
I can't ask my wife to engage in sex if she's not interested, nor do I want this. I've suggested Sex Starved Marriage (sent the TEDx video too), Ari Newman's work, David Schnarch's work - no interest. I was told she wouldn't read 400+ pages but happy to read a summary or video. Even after we talk about the lack of sex/intimacy (a talk that occurs every 1-2 weeks), we talk about scheduling sex or intimacy etc. but nothing is every actioned which after everything I do causes me to hit a breaking point and an angry outburst follows the rejection.
Am I wrong to ask her to make an investment in the one area I feel is important to me? Can anyone recommend an action plan? Can someone suggest an approach to help provide insight into how for some a lack of sexual connection erodes a marriage's foundation?
After our argument yesterday, we had another blowup today during my workday and homeschooling where she asked what I want to talk to her about later tonight (I told her we need to have a tough talk, no intimacy = separation for me in the long run)...well, the outcome was her throwing things at me and stating she feels we are almost surely heading for divorce - I'm feeling the same thing which is I'm writing here for the first time.
I really appreciate everyone listening and the community we have here. I'm open to all suggestions at this point as I'm concerned my family will fall apart.