I am a 43 year old male on the brink of divorce. My wife and I have been separated for over five months.
We separated at her request because I was not present for her as a husband or as a father to our son since he was born over two years ago.
I didn't put her and our son first. I didn't even put them second or third! I put work, coaching other children and my own needs ahead of her and our son.
She tried to talk to me. We also tried marital counseling. I was not receptive and got angry every time. I was also frequently stressed out, depressed and moody.
She was deployed for a month over the summer. I was in charge of caring for our son, running the house and keeping up with the demands of my job.
Nothing bad happened to our son, our house or at my job but I was frequently angry with her on the phone while she was away.
When she came back, she asked me to move out of the house. I tried to persuade her to change her mind but she refused so I moved out in late August.
I have been living by myself, paying child support and visiting with my son 3-4 times per week. It has been very difficult for me and I have not handled it well.
My relationship with my wife has gotten worse and she has repeatedly made it clear that she hates me and intends to file for divorce soon.
Recently I started therapy with a doctor who diagnosed with me with mild ADD. I started taking medication and it has improved my mood and my focus.
For example, I am not as depressed, I no longer think of suicide, I am smiling and happy at times, and I am more focused at work and also when I am playing with my son.
My wife is physician with the Public Health Service. She works at both the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed Hospital.
She is angry and skeptical of any my attempts at reconciliation. She just wants to divorce me and get primary custody of our son and move on with her life.
I am very concerned that if I tell her about my recent diagnosis of mild ADD, she will see it as another attempt to manipulate her into trying couples therapy or reconciliation.
1) How do I explain to her that my ADD affected my ability to be a husband and a father? In a way that she will accept as a physician?
2) How do I tell her that I am working with a therapist to improve my life so that I will be a much better husband and father?
3) What can I do to improve our relationship?
Any suggested articles or papers that would impress my wife that treatment of ADD does work and improves marital relationships and parenting would be greatly appreciated.
Papers vs. Experience
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
Clarence - thank you for reaching out. And thank you for pursuing the diagnosis of ADHD to start to make your life better. Here is an article in the Monitor (the Journal of the Amaerican Psychiatric Association) that may help her understand that un-diagnosed ADHD is common and that treating it can make a huge difference for adutls and their families.
The approach that I would take with her is that it is in her best interests to be aware of this, regardless of where your relationship goes (not in the least reason because it is heritable - one of your kids might have ADHD). In addition, because of your children, it is in her best interests to figure out how the two of you can best get along - again, no matter what. I would strongly recommend that you take a look at my couples seminar when it is next given. (Take a look at the comments at the bottom of the page if you want to understand what a huge difference it can make to learn how ADHD impacts your relationship.) In addition, you should get a copy of The ADHD Effect on Marriage (or audiobook, if you don't like to read.) There may be specific passages in the patterns section that sound just like your relationship. Since a book may be less threatening than talking with you, it's possible you could mark a few passages and share them with her.
You should respect the pain that she has experienced - it's real. Her feelings are complex and deep. It's likely that her fury isn't only with you as a person, but with her lost dreams for a great relationship; the overwhelming nature of having so much that she must manage, etc., perhaps for staying in the relationship as long as she had. She doesn't realize yet that things can change dramatically...at the moment it's just all pain and fury. You can't just "fix" that for her with new information. But the course, if she is open to it, will provide specific tools you can both use...and has helped many couples turn their relationship around.
Contact me through the site contact form if you have further questions, or post them in this conversation, which I'm watching.
Papers vs. Experience - Thank you; More Questions
Submitted by clarencelong4 on
Thank you for this article and your advice! It is very helpful. I appreciate it. It is very similar to the advice of my therapist. I have printed the article you suggested and read it.
However, my wife is both skeptical and a physician at NIH specializing in infectious diseases. Do you have any studies or published research that would support the premise that treatment will help me be a better father? Or a better husband? I am current seeing a Cognitive Behavioral therapist and taking Ritalin. I have also read your book, "The ADHD Effect on Marriage." My therapist suggested it and it was very helpful. What pages would you suggest that my wife read it your book?
I am about to start reading "Driven to Distraction" by Dr. Hallowell. I would like to get better and be a better father and husband if possible. Please let me know if you have any more articles, papers or studies. Or if I can find some information in your book or Dr. Hallowell's book? I will also look at information regarding your couples seminar. As of today, she will not agree to couples therapy. She is wholly focused on divorce and detaching from me.
Again, thank you.
There are many
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
There are a ton of research studies that talk about how treatment of ADHD helps those manage their symptoms - Russell Barkley, for example, cites research that says that 50-70% of adults who take medications can 'normalize' their symptoms (I hate that word...). However, that is not likely to deter a woman on a mission who is convinced that the person you are is the one she has seen with ADHD (i.e. she doesn't have the ability to see you as a person instead of see your ADHD symptoms.) So you can get a lot of information about the outcomes of treating ADHD...but little to none on the impact of treating ADHD on marriages.
The section of the book that wil likely mean the most to her is the chapter on patterns (the third section of part one) and perhaps the empathy part about HER experience, not yours.
The seminar is not counseling. It is a course, filled with other people just like the two of you.