Are there any other double AD(H)D marriages out there...

I just recently found this site and have been reading. I've only found one other poster, ChaosQueen, who has said that they were in a double AD(H)D marriage and just like her I read so much that is relevant to my situation but none that share the larger more complicated picture of being in a double ADD marriage. Is there anyone else out there...

I am male, mid 40's and was formally diagnosed with ADD (no H) about 10 years ago, though I began suspecting in my very early 30's but didn't want to admit it. I feel I have to a large degree "overcome" it in that it is well managed with 72mg of Concerta and a fairly strict and diligent routine to prevent the common lost keys, missed bills, forgotten appointments, etc. I have also come to grips with what types of activities I can accomplish and what I absolutely will not be able to do acceptably which led me many years ago, in fact even before being diagnosed, to change careers from accounting to that of a technology professional for a very large and demanding company. In this new career I have succeeded far better than I ever envisioned myself doing mostly through a series of unplanned blessings provided for me to stumble into by a very benevolent Heavenly Father. My current bosses are aware of my condition and have amazingly worked with me to find ways to leverage my talents and strengths while minimizing the non-normal challenges that my ADD adds, and for this I am immensely grateful. This was not the case at my prior employer for 15 years up until 6 years ago. In my home relationship I am definitely the parent in the dynamic as all of the finances, planning of most kinds, reconciling, etc all fall on me; this despite all of my attempts to suppress that dynamic and be as equal with my wife as feasibly possible. I am fairly well organized and have developed processes, locations and lists to help keep track of most everything. Being a technology professional I have also found ways to apply technology so as to help me overcome many of the ADD challenges that I face on a daily basis.

My wife of so far 18 years is 2 years younger than I and was diagnosed with ADD (also no H) a few years after I was when I began understanding the condition and seeing the previously misunderstood symptoms manifesting in her as well. She also takes 54mg of Concerta and has for several years but we have both come to recognize recently that it probably isn't the right med for her. She has also overcome much adversity in life, much of it due to ADD induced hindrances, and has attained a masters degree in teaching and become a very gifted kindergarten teacher. She has a passion and magic about her when it comes to small children that awes me. I often feel like the spouse of a rock star when we go shopping as invariably we will run into a child that she had in her class often years earlier and they still remember her and want to give her a hug. Amazingly she will always without fail still remember their names, all of their siblings, parents and more. She can't remember to drop off the mortgage payment I gave her just 30 minutes prior but she never forgets a child and every detail about them.

Her difficulties in her work lie in all of the increasingly demanding bureaucratic overhead that has begun to be thrust upon the education profession by voter pleasing politicians and politician pleasing educational bureaucracies. This overhead only keeps her from being able to teach most effectively and because of it's displeasing nature to her it takes her 2-5 times longer to perform than her peers. This time and energy commitment basically leaves her little left for the rest of us, which is a problem. On top of that my wife is an unorganized disaster and we have heaps and stacks of educational materials and supplies everywhere. Lots of our personal money is tied up in all this stuff that only burdens us with "stuff management" issues that we are ill prepared to deal with. When the disorganization begins to pile up excessively in our primary living spaces, sometimes to the point of having what I call "hoarder paths" through the house, and I begin to feel the shame and embarrassment of this then we are primed for the periodic explosions that have come to cost our marriage so dearly.

I try very hard to be understanding, empathetic and encouraging, which I feel I should be able to do since I deal with all of the same issues but this all goes unnoticed and instead the focus is on my "controlling" when I try to help her bring some order to the chaos despite my experience in dealing with the same types of issues. She also doesn't want me messing with her stuff so instead I focus on helping keep the laundry, dishes and vacuuming done in addition to the typical male yard work, automotive and honey-do items, but this carries no recognition in the light of the hard feelings toward me for confronting the oppressive unacceptable disorganization. This resentment in turn has destroyed our sex life, which is not non-existent but has no initiation, passion, intimacy or desire on her part except when she's had a bit too much to drink (which we very rarely ever partake in for many reasons).

We also have 2 teenage kids, a very smart and creative but underachieving boy also with ADD (no H) and on Concerta, and a high achieving girl who naturally has the focus of an owl, incredible self motivation and drive and the determination to achieve absolutely everything she sets her mind to. I don't know where she gets it, couldn't be from us, but I don't remember adopting her either. :)  The dynamic of parenting these two vastly different personalities has its own challenges and costs as well, but I feel these problems are merely side shows to the big show that is our disorganization and undependability. They're both really good kids with no real problems, but I fear our problems will eventually damage them.

My wife and I seem to both have different types of ADD where off my meds I shut down, retreat inwards, become Walter Mitty and can't make myself do anything that isn't mentally entertaining. She on the other hand is more classical ADD (without H) and is undependable in remembering tasks or anything unimportant to her and wholly unorganized not wanting to take the time to put things where they belong and as a consequence losing everything when it is needed (so we go buy more if that solves the problem for now).

So I'd really like to hear from any other double AD(H)D couples, the issues you deal with, how you deal with them and what does and doesn't work for you. Thanks much.

Oh boy....

Hi there,

This will be my first post acknowledging that my husband also has ADHD (inattentive- also no H). I have combined type ADHD... He was diagnosed in June and has been on medication for the past 3 months... things have been improving slowly since then...

If you scroll through my previous posts and comments, you will see that I always identified more with the non-ADHD spouse than the ADHD spouse...  when my husband was diagnosed in June it explained a LOT.

I want to write more later- but haven't the time right now... but I will say that I understand just how difficult this situation is... I will turn back to this later- but maybe read through some of my posts and you will see the kinds of issues that I was dealing with before we knew that we BOTH had ADHD. I am feeling great with my treatment- but my husband is really struggling... he is about 2 years behind me in the process and I am trying to support him and be patient- which can be difficult because he's been so volatile. but things have been improving- and as long as I see improvement, no matter how slow, I am content. My husband is an amazing guy and I am so proud of him for working on this. For a few months he put his head in the sand... he was very threatened by the diagnosis and in denial I think. He still doesn't want any one else to know- which I am respectful about, even though I talk about my own ADHD all the time (I've hyperfocused on getting info about it and improving my life and I am hyper and impulsive = totally open book).
 

Anyway- I will revisit this later- but I am working right now... *see how good I am getting at ripping my focus away from something I would rather be doing!

Hang in there!

I'm back with some more thoughts...

I am back to finish my train of thought... who am I kidding?..  it's a whole new train... maybe 2 or 3 trains. :)

Here is my best advice to you about dealing with your own ADHD and your wife's ADHD...

First- Each of you is responsible for managing your own symptoms. You can't fix her. And what works for you might not work for her- and vice versa.

For example- I use paper calendars and lists to keep on top of all my appointments and to-dos... There is almost a calendar appearing in every room. This bothers my husband- because he likes things clean and spare... but it's really efficient for me. He used to take my calendars down and try to encourage (my experience of it is bullying) me to adopt his electronic phone calendars. I admit- I can't explain my reticence to adopt this new technology- but my way works for me and I have a LOT on my plate- full time job as a lawyer, 2 small children, home to run, all the shopping, medical, dental appointments, laundry, etc...  Finally my husband understands that he has to drop this and let me do it my way.

Similarly- I exercise a lot because it helps me manage stress and it feels good. My husband always says he wants to work out- but generally doesn't. He used to ask me to wait for him to join for a workout- but what would usually happen was that I would wait, as requested, and then the workout would never happen because my husband was so slow or distracted or putting other things first... eventually losing the window of time we could have worked out. So now I work out when I want to. And I don't bug him to do it too- that's his decision.

The Clutter:

Your wife has a clutter problem- which is annoying for you. My suggestion is to tell her you aren't trying to parent her and you don't like to even have conflict over something like clutter... but the problem is that it actually really bothers you. Acknowledge that you find it overwhelming and stress-provoking (this is true- right?). Don't talk about being embarrassed about it- no one needs shame injected into an attempt at mutually-beneficial problem-solving... This discussion should be done calmly and lovingly- not in the heat of battle. Ask her if the two of you can identify one spot in the house where you can put the piles of educational materials etc that will be out of your way, but accessible to her? Maybe one corner of the bedroom off to the side or one shelf that's earmarked for her stuff... That is a reasonable proposition and it's not pushy. You aren't telling her she has to declutter. You aren't attacking her values "Why on earth would you want to keep this junk?". You are just getting her input on it. Then if she tells you a spot that works (and she may well seem grumpy doing this- and that's okay... it take us ADHD'ers a minute to adapt and accept change)- you can feel free to put her piles there whenever you stumble upon one.

She may find that when she sees all the stuff piled up in one spot- that it is much more than she realized. Maybe that will trigger some kind of purge or 'Great Sorting'. ha ha. If she ever appears to want to do this, ask her if she wants help. Maybe offer to take the kids out for a few hours so she can work on it. The big thing though is not to get involved in making judgments (out loud at least) about her decision to keep stuff and not to make sweeping condemnations about her character because of this. ('you are so messy!' it's like I have another child', 'why can't you keep organized').  Everyone has different values and assigns differing importance to things.

At the end of the day, it sounds like you love and admire your wife and value her. But if the two of you are frequently fighting over this- she is going to feel judged, unloved and unappreciated for her wonderful points and hen-picked for her faults. You don't want that. While the clutter sounds annoying as hell- it's something you can sidestep to preserve a good relationship. Find a designated spot for her clutter and then let her sort it out unless she seeks your help. You will all be happier.

If there is a big financial problem of her buying and re-buying the same items because she cannot find them in her piles... then you may have to have a conversation about that- maybe you could say that you really want to drop this issue- but you feel under pressure financially and would really like her at least to take an inventory of her stuff to try to avoid unnecessary purchases- maybe she will respond to that. But again- this can't be done angrily ('more stickers! you have 18 packages of bloody stickers!') but should be done more in the vein of ('I love how dedicated you are to your students and that you want to get them stickers to reward the good behaviour. You are an awesome teacher. I thought I saw some stickers the other day in X pile. Should we find them and put them all together so you know what you've got here?)...

And finally- at the end of the day- keep working on yourself. She is a grown woman, even if she is a disorganized one. She is far behind you in working out these issues. Be patient and let her adapt at her own speed. And realize that she is very different from you and there is no right or wrong. If you can somehow put her issues back in her court where they don't affect you. Let the small things go and give her lots of love and support for the things she is doing well- you will notice some big changes in time.

Best of luck to you!

P.S. Wonderful to hear that you have found such a good job fit for you. What an encouraging story that some ADHD-ers can be open about the situation and recieve the support they need and the flexibility to get things done in their own way. Congrats. Wish your wife was as lucky as that. Imagine how much less stressed she would be if she didn't have to deal with getting her own supplies, etc...   

 

My inlaws had a double ADHD marriage....

My inlaws had a double ADHD marriage. Both also had Executive Function Disorder. Each also likely had at least one other issue.

 

MIL...

 

extremely permissive mother extremely indulgent mother didn't teach her children anything didn't correct her kids lazy, chatted all day with friends didn't cook or do any domestic things spent money like crazy very personable adult child of an alcoholic father

 

FIL

 

non-social no sense of humor raging anger fists thru walls didn't spend much money couldn't work for others, so he started a business that just barely supported the family because he put no effort into it. spent his work day reading the paper, reading magazines and watching TV in his office engaged in Splitting Adult Child of an Alcoholic Father