Any POSITIVE reports?

My OP has been deleted to protect my husband's feelings. All of your responses were welcome and appreciated — so much that I immediately purchased the book.  Now he may come across these forums and I do not want to leave evidence that might be interpreted as mean spirited or unkind.

Thanks for all of your support, everyone! Great to know I'm not alone.

carathrace's picture

it can get better

Hello.  I hope that you will read Melissa's book as soon as possible.  A lot of the things you're asking are discussed in it and it will help you and your husband understand each other's perspectives better.  In our case, we read it out loud to each other and talked about it as we did.   

Yeah, I can tell you it can get better.  Meds and counseling are, in my opinion, mandatory for success with ADHD.  Not one or the other, both.  Right now your husband has untreated ADHD, so it's to be expected that his symptoms are all over the place.  Yes, probably his ADHD is the primary reason he couldn't comply with your ultimatums.  But you must at some point accept the fact that you cannot expect the same things from an ADHD spouse as you might be able to expect from someone without ADHD -- things like consistently being on time, being able to prioritize tasks or information coming in, always finishing projects.  Even with meds, assuming they work which they don't always, he will still be challenged in executive functions.

That's just the way it is.  You say he has some great qualities like doing housework, meeting your emotional needs.  That is terrific and more than a lot of spouses have.  So is he worth the work YOU will have to do, to change your approach and responses?  You can't change him.  But there are things you can do to help him find the tools he needs to get better -- without mothering him.  Please read the book, and please don't get pregnant until things improve, because having children with an ADHD spouse is usually very challenging and shouldn't be undertaken without a lot of consideration.  I wish you the best!

Change takes time

Hello. You might want to look at the Progress section of the forum for more successful posts. Is your husband doing the basics? Sleeping, eating well, exercising? Those are some of the best treatment options. Counseling helped my dh quite a bit but not in a practical way. I don't like assigning character adjectives, like lazy and selfish, because it can usually be traced back to an ADHD symptom. Or a co-morbid disorder such as anxiety or depression. 

Stress makes ADHD symptoms worse so as we get older and add kids and complex jobs and aging parents, etc, chances are you will see his ability to manage symptoms fluctuate. ADHD does not go away. It can be managed but he will never have your brain. The successful ADHD marriages are those where the two spouses like and respect each other as they are without requiring fundamental change. They leverage one another's strengths and forgive the weaknesses. 

I wish I could say that my dh had returned to being the functional man I married. I can say that he's stopped digging the hole deeper, and recognizes that he has to find his own way to climb out. I can not fix it. He has to. All I can do is set my own boundaries. And control my own behavior. I wish you the best.

barneyarff's picture

Shelley You are so


You are so articulate.  It's pretty impressive.

Once again, I have to ask.....

Never ever has it occurred to me to question DH's judgement concerning certain things, ie spacial problems, driving, building stuff. Nor does he question me about some things, like money (although I'm so good at managing it, he sometimes thinks it grows on tress and gets demanding for more)

It's stuff where I really do know more or am expert at it and he questions me (public speaking, how a house should look if company comes over, parenting) that annoys me.  And he fights me about it because he is in denial about it because he doesn't want to deal with an issue or admit that he sucks at it or is ashamed, etc.  And Shelley, I know about trying softly without judgement, etc. Done it many times.  It was a waste of breath.  He did not even hear me.

But you know what, especially when it comes to your kids, in my opinion, ashamed, overwhelmed, inept, or anything else, a parent sucks it up and gets over it.  Maybe that's the problem.   DH thinks hiding from his er.... stuff is more important than his kids....   If that is true, why am I even trying?

I guess I do need one "fundamental change"  i need him to respond to problems within a reasonable time (and time depends on how close to life and death it is) and quit denying that stuff is happening.  I've about lost my mind looking at a problem and "screaming"  LOOK OUT!  FUTURE TRAIN WRECK!  and DH will go to great pains to tell me I'm so very wrong clear up to the point when the train hits us and he says "oh" I didn't except that to happen.  You better fix that, wife of mine.    And I'm left with a shattered mess. 

Aha moment


Hello. One of the most useful things that I got from 18 months of therapy was an exercise for dh and I to do together that narrowed our personal values down to the top 3, similar but not the same as this link One, I had no idea how hard this would be for dh. We first each selected 12, then narrowed to 3. Dh had a really hard time letting any go. But the aha came when we compared our 3. Mine were integrity, security and caring. His were more self focused, though not selfish ( I forget the exact ones, but wonder was included).  Wow, no wonder my needs never make his to do list, they are incompatible with his basic values. This allows me to see that his choices really aren't personally against me, they simply reflect his subconscious value system. A rather depressing realization because it means that he is unlikely to change into someone who is going to consider and put the needs of others ahead of the next shiny object.  That being said it allows me to know I have to answer the question, what if he never changes?

Well it means I had better keep myself off the train tracks (and kids if we had them). I liked your metaphor. Sounds like security isn't one of his values either. I have stopped making money magically appear to finish our remodel, now he's in charge of harvesting the value he claims is there. When I read your post my thought on what the pros would suggest is "honey I realize that you don't think this will be an issue but its causing me a great deal of anxiety, so it would make me feel a lot better to simply get off the train tracks." Hard to say if it will work, but you can try.  Also, give him parameters on time in which to respond to an issue.  Make it clear that its impt to you that he make that deadline. If he doesn't respond, that is a response in itself. And you will have to answer, what if he never changes, can you be happy enough?

It can get better. But with

It can get better.

But with that being said, it's going to take time, and it's going to take a commitment from you both.

I don't know if you can look up my posts to see my story, but from my first posts here (desperate, exhausted, depressed) to now (fairly stable with an occasional off day, generally hopeful) is a pretty significant difference. When I first came here, I was separated from my ADHD hubby. We had the typical great courtship with a few hiccups largely centered on his time management issues, but then two days before our wedding, he was let go for those same time management issues. He was doing his dream job (law enforcement) and quickly spiralled into depression. A year after our wedding, I was sitting across from him, trying to celebrate our anniversary, but wondering who was this stranger and why had I made such a bad decision to marry him? I'd called off an engagement previous to dating my hubby, so I wasn't scared. I truly loved him and thought that we were going to get our happily ever after (in moderation, of course).

It would take pages to tell you about all the stuff he did that drove our marriage to the brink. He went through two different jobs and was let go for anger management and time management issues, and finally landed in a bar flipping burgers and being the in house DJ. We fought constantly, a battle of the best (and worst) psychological warfare. Finally after three and half years of disappointment and depression, I finally told him I wanted a separation (even though we were already basically separated since he refused to live with me). I don't know what clicked with him that time, but he freaked out and said that he wouldn't do it unless we tried counseling. So we went to counseling. We're still in counseling 18 months later. But I'm happy to say that we've basically done a 180. He finally moved back in with me a couple months after our initial meeting, and was a great emotional support as I went through my grandfather's terminal illness.

Is everything perfect? Nope. It won't ever be. But I'm learning to modify my goals for our future and keep them within the parameters of how he functions and how our marriage functions.

As for you, absolutely get some counseling if he's willing. ADHD is a complication but often is not the root of marital struggles. Both me and my hubby were (and still are) hard headed as the day is long and the ADHD was the fuel on the fire. Just a good family counselor will help you guys resolve relationship based issues. Me and the hubby are currently transitioning from our counselor (who was essentially doing her internship) to a new counselor who is a family counselor but also has a background in ADHD. While I was reluctant to move on from our usual counselor, I think seeing the new one will take us to the next level. But as a parting comment, our old counselor told us that she recently was having a conversation with a colleague about how much they didn't like marital counseling because most of the time, only one spouse wants to save the marriage. But she said that she had enjoyed working with us because we both were invested. That's why it's so important.

I can understand your fear with his transition. Perhaps some career counseling would be in order as well? If he wants to do a job that is at odds with what he can bring to the table, then it's not the best idea. That's what I would tell my hubby. But my hubby also didn't have a problem with a minimum wage job (well he wasn't too proud to do it though it bothered him that he had fallen so far).

We struggle with debts as well though they are mostly mine. Before I hit rock bottom financially, I was a shopping addict essentially. Whenever I was upset, I would buy something. I had about $20,000 in credit card debt. And then we ended up buying a house that was too much for us financially. It was the cherry on top of the sundae but it got me motivated. I enrolled in a debt management program and my debts are down to around $7,000 now. The hubby is a spendthrift but never did the credit card thing. He did, however, have two small loans with his banks, both of which were charged off when he stopped making payments after losing his job. He does know that it's important to pay them and it's on the roster of stuff to do since he just got a new full time with benefits job. Of course, he wants to get back into law enforcement and having good credit is a guideline for getting hired. Is there any incentive that you can think of to get your hubby to focus?

I'm going to wrap this up. Sorry for the ramble. Just hang in there. It sounds like your hubby loves you and want to makes things better, but is just paralyzed by the ADHD.

Steps not taken and opening doors

"But to this day there are steps he has not taken, such as paying off his debt. Can I really, truly, attribute this to his ADHD? "

Probably, if he truly is ADHD. The issue is that he doesn't perceive time as you do.  Literally.  For him there is now and not now.  You can guess what gets his attention. I understand it's very difficult to grasp this, but once you do a lot of pieces fall into place.  That is why he needs to work on (well, you will have to assist) reminder systems that work.  But that leads on to my second point:

"resistant to the idea of taking meds"

ADHD is an issue of brain chemistry. Putting it simply, without adjusting  the chemistry there is little point (my opinion) in any other type of effort. For instance "talk therapy" won't be productive since he will be coming to it with a dysfunctional brain.  You can discuss things until the cows come home but his thought patterns will be the same as now unless something physically changes (always assuming that ADHD is genuinely the issue, which I am doing). Nobody can tell how any particular person will react to meds (or diet change if he insists on that first) but two important points -

(a) they won't change his underlying personality so they will not make him into a different person (my husband was afraid of that and your husband probably is too even if he won't say it, this is after all the brain)

(b) the most commonly used meds (such as Ritalin, Adderall):
(i) work quickly - a person will see if they have any effect within an hour of taking them and if not or if a person doesn't like them then can stop easily,
(ii) are out of the system quickly (non-extended release versions of Rital and Adderall typically only work for 3-4 hours)
.. and doctors are very aware of differing reactions to stimulant meds so will start with low doses and adjust as his response is known.

A psychiatrist who specializes in adult ADHD (really important, and not a psych who only knows childhood ADHD) will be able to vary meds looking to find the right combination for him. If ritalin/adderall don't work for him, or are contraindicated for health reasons or because it isn't ADHD, then there are other options.   An anecdote about my husband - he was finally diagnosed in his 50s, now takes Adderall and wishes he had been taking it decades ago.  His psychiatrist tried Ritalin first, it made him angrier (more liable to snap at people) so he stopped taking it within a couple of days (no bad side effect of stopping) and went back to the psych for an alternative (by the way, he doesn't go to counselling, so I don't push him and he is doing very well without it).  So the first med may not work, even the 2nd or 3rd may not, but without trying then your husband will never know.  To discount the possibility that a med might help strikes me as deliberately double-locking doors that might be opened with a slight push.  If he was short-sighted would he wear glasses? If epileptic would he take anti-seizure meds? Ultimately of course it's his decision but he will never be definitively sure they won't make his life better until he tries them.

"spent his entire life taking zero responsibility for his actions"

You mention that he did hold down a job for a decade, so even if that wasn't a great high-earning career then he clearly was capable of showing up, functioning, interacting well enough with people.  And you mention his other good points. It does sound as though he is getting in his own way and maybe ADHD is the root cause of that, along with anxiety and fear of change arousing out of feelings of lifelong failure (just guessing).

"REFUSES to sign divorce papers"

If you're serious then tell him to get a lawyer and only communicate about the divorce by having your lawyer deal with his lawyer.  The complications of agreeing a divorce with an uncooperative untreated ADHDer boggle the mind.

"He claims to want to fix it, which I think is a positive step"

Yes, this is great.  Encourage him to keep saying that (so he doesn't forget) :)  This is a big part of the battle, supposing he is genuine and after all he is doing housework and functioning to some degree in the relationship, so doesn't seem like the worst case described on this site!)

"path to help lead him"

A chat with a psychiatrist might be an idea (remember, one specializing in Adult ADHD or it might be counter-productive). Is he willing even to go that far?  Has he actually been diagnosed?

"once the bills come in, the resentment begins to build"

I've read, and it sounds plausible, that conflicts about money are at the root of much trouble in marriage. For my part I label my problems as rocks and have learned not to carry them around with me.  So put the rock labelled 'resentment' down, feel lighter, and carry on.  It's very hard to conceal resentment so if he is picking up on it festering in the background then it's going to distract him even more from moving forward (or at least he can use it as an excuse when he stumbles - "nothing I do can be good enough so why bother" - so try not to give him the option).

Just a few thoughts, really worth exactly what you paid for them :)  I'm sorry if I've misinterpreted or missed something (tends to happen if in a hurry or maybe I have ADHD too.!.) It seems that he has potentional to move forward, persuading him of that and reminding him is key.

It Can Get Better, and Can Even START with ADHD Partner:-)

I am the ADHD wife in this scenario.  I was diagnosed a long time ago and had been on meds a dozen years, but regardless of that, my endless research and reading on the topic, I was struggling substantially.  I knew I was even worse than the majority of my ADHD students, and I teach Middle School students, who are not exactly known for their great frontal lobe function, even without ADHD!

Finally, I read a life-changing article by Dr. Sandy Newmark in ADDitude magazine, which described how ADHD people can have delayed reaction food sensitivities that cause brain fog and anger issues.  I recognized myself in that article, particularly because he wrote that eczema and other allergies indicate food sensitivities.  I started by removing gluten from my diet, and followed with a total elimination diet under the supervision of a nutritionist.  I had iGg and iGa food sensitivity test 3 months ago with a Naturopathic Doctor, which confirmed my gluten sensitivity as well as a dozen and a half others including white sugar.   I feel amazing without sugar; I am more even in my energy levels and feel well rested for the first time since elementary school.   With the help of a methylated B vitamin complex, I was able to go from being my doctor's most heavily medicated patient (he deals exclusively w/ADHD) to requiring NO MEDICATION.  I still have to work hard, but it's finally paying off.  My husband and I recently started couples therapy, and things are turning around.  Life is good:-) .