Balancing the need for novelty and honoring my wife in the bedroom (sex)

My wife and I have been married for 12 years now.  I'm 46, she's 40.  When I was younger, I had quite the wild side sexually.  At a certain point before we got married, I came into a faith/religious relationship that helped tone me down, and my wife had no experience sexually.

As our marriage went along, we've introduced new things into the bedroom.  I've never forced anything on her, we've always talked about it, and if it was something she wasn't comfortable with, I wouldn't hound her.  Before I try to introduce anything new, I ask myself, "How will this honor her?"  I don't want to be self serving or just use her.  I really want to meet her in her needs and desires while fulfilling mine.  I guess that is a little selfish, but I know that in marital relations, often the husband has to connect emotional with his wife before she will open up to him physically.  And it hasn't been a constant parade of novelty.  We'd been married for 3 years before the topic of 'toys' even came up. 

Since I was diagnosed (4 months ago at the age of 45), the understanding of how we seek stimulation as a form of self medication has shone a light upon a lot of my past behaviors.  I've struggled with porn off and on, mostly on the off side.  I've been faithful. I'm totally in love with my wife and committed to her.  I have every reason to believe she feels the same about me. 

But the last few years have brought some difficulties.  Because of some health issues, I haven't be able to 'operate at peak performance'.  For the most part, she's accepted this and we have found ways to maintain a satisfactory sex life.  But since being diagnosed, she has gone from acceptance of these issues to blaming the ADHD and saying that I'm not interested in her and that my bringing new stuff into our relationship is just because I'm seeking stimulation or need the novelty and that she isn't enough for me.  As a result, she has put an end to these practices, and our physical intimacy has become a miserable failure.  I can't perform (health issues), she's frustrated, I'm frustrated, and we just end up arguing all the time.

And while I have to admit that I am seeking stimulation and novelty, I've tried everything I can to honor her.  I really want to connect with her.  I really want to meet her needs. I was under the impression that she enjoyed these things.  I'm seriously not trying to play the, "It's my way or the highway" game here.  But now, every time I approach her, she starts drawing up a list of 'can and can't do's', and questions my motivations.  I loose 'interest', and it just spirals downward from there.  It's kind of like having the rug pulled out from under me and I don't know what to do.

I am taking meds, and that has been a god-send.  She often comments on how that has helped us.  I do chores, cook, and clean.  I make every effort to be present with her.  I'm still learning, as I'm sure I will be for the rest of my life.  And I don't think that our marriage is in danger of falling apart.  But this is really causing some trouble, and I hope I can find some advice of resources here on the forums.



I get the feeling that if my non-ADHD wife had made a post complaining about me there would be a bunch of feedback.

i'll give you feedback Dave

I think that you are headed in the right direction and that many women would appreciate your efforts. I believe that the official diagnosis can be intimidating to some and it may have been easier for her to think of you as kinky rather than ill. What ever the reason for her shift things will continue to be difficult in the absence of empathy and understanding as it is difficult to acquire knowledge in the face of fear. There is an ADD men's only private thread on ADD forums, another excellent site with ,any adhd topics outside of relationship issues. You may find it helpful as I imagine(because I am a woman and have not been privy to the discussion) that there are very detailed discussions about the very topics for which you are seeking answers.

Please post this for him Melissa deleting this sentence if you will, I have made it as white bread neutral as possible and could not offend anyone. Dave is asking for help, and I am the only one answering.

Re: Ill?

I'd rather be though of as kinky rather than ill as well.  I appreciate the comment, but got to say I'm kind of put off by the notion of being considered 'ill'.  Are you thinking that maybe she thinks of me as "ill"?

Maybe not in a tangible concrete way

Not like she's thinking Oh he's sick. More like, "well we have issues but are dealing with them and we are relatively happy" and then "there is a medical diagnosis with the word disorder in it, what part of our relationship is real and what part is "disorder" But in a real subconscious way like she doesn't even know shes questioning.


surly Dave

though I agree with much of what you have said but ....what is a wife to do after a year of marriage AND a year of her trying several (and we are not talking kinky whips and chains stuff) we are talking sexy nighties, strip poker together alone, surprise bed & breakfasts for the weekend and he tells you "well what you do just doesn't turn me on"  then when you asked what does  he want he dosn't have an answer? (Oh granted he says I  turn him on ....don't ask me how that makes sense because I don't get it either.)  Now here we are 5 years later and during his (2 weeks ago seduction after 3 months of celibacy) his phone rings and he says "sorry got to take this".  No affection outside of the bedroom ...except an occasional quick kiss ( I am not wanting groping I am wanting an occasional passionate kiss a pat on the butt... something to make a woman feel sexy to her man)  

I have been reading Melissa's book (almost done)we have gone to three different counselors (one told us before we got married when I TOLD THEM I felt we should discuss money & sex that "I would have more money once we married & well since he had had only a few sex partner I could "train" him flash you can't train someone who always lets his ego get in the way not that I am saying I am a sex goddess) one counselor was just so religious that all she wanted to do was pray and chat  the hour away (no solutions) and the other?  Well I think we MIGHT have had a chance with her but when my husband admitted (because I caught him) that he had run up a gambling debt and started going to GA because I was going to leave him ....well that was the end of that I sound a bit BITTER???  Sorry ...I am !!

On the flip side husband is a kind, gentle, generous, man if integrity, loves his family (my family loves him so much they would trade him for me ..LOL) , treats people and me well, cares about others, loves his family, is not pompous, good provider, hard worker (in fact that is an issue he is a workoholic) ...remember he had to answer that call in the middle of foreplay?),  so tell me HOW do I find a GOOD COUNSELOR  and how do I  keep from becoming so angry because from the outside world he looks great  but with in our life I feel like I am living the Chinese forehead torture of drip drip drip ....on the forehead

In KNOW I could have it sooo much worse fact I have ... ( I was married to the alcoholic (you can't fix him/her they have to fix themselves),the abuser to you or you children  (LEAVE  if they will do it once they will do it again LEAVE!!!), I lived many years alone because I didn't trust myself to chose a "good man" but all of us have "issues" myself included and THIS man...MY  MAN with all his faults is worth fighting for ) but I need help and this issue of ADHD is far more devastating to the family than has ever been brought to light.  I am calling out in my own plight ....I KNOW some of you have it far worse than me and my heart goes out to you. If you know a good counselor in Colorado Springs or you know of a support group or a seminar  coming our way please let me know.  I want to save my marriage he is a good man and it is not his fault he had this ADHD but it is up to both  of us to deal with it.



RE: Help

My wife has struggled with the idea that she doesn't turn me on, and while it's hard to explain from my point of view, she does, but my body doesn't always cooperate.  In an other post in this thread I get into it a bit more, but last night while I was writing all this stuff out, I realized that the issue may be my erectile dysfunction and with the recent diagnoses of ADD, we as a couple have been looking at all the issues in our marriage through the lens of ADD.  So I'm hoping that my wife and I can have a discussion about the ED, and maybe push the reset button.  I'd happily start at square one in our physical relationship if we can connect spiritually and emotionally.  Have the ED has taught me to appreciate the deeper connections. We are very committed to one another, and we are also both stubborn enough to stick it out.

I used to have problems with money as well, though not with gambling.  If I wanted it: I NEEDED IT!  Unfortunately, she wasn't good with money either (again, I'm convinced she will back me up on this) and we ended up on the brink of bankruptcy.  All I can say is that we had a "Spiritual" revelation that broke the hold of the "American Dream", keeping up with the Jones', and that our value is based in our credit rating.  Since then, we have money in the bank, we've paid off a ton of credit card debt, and I have a monthly 'impulse buy' allowance.  This all happened before being diagnosed.

ADHD had caused a lot of damage to my psyche:  Living 45 years with an undiagnosed condition that begged tons of moral condemnation takes a toll.  And undoubtedly, I caused some damage along the way as well.   Most of this year has been about rebuilding/repairing our relationship.  I don't know if your husband is being treated or not, but I know that when I was diagnosed, years of pain and hurt where lifted off (not all of it, but lots of it) and I was given a new set of eyes to examine my life with.  And while the doctor who diagnosed me asked me how I was able to survive and live a life with the level of my impairment, the only answer I have is that my Faith sustained me.  I think that is the only reason why I've been able to prioritize my family and be faithful to my wife. 

It seems to be contrary to the nature of ADHD to see the needs of others in our lives and prioritize them.  I hope (pray) that your husband will have some sort of epiphany as to your needs and be moved to reach out to you.

I am in your wife's shoes in

I am in your wife's shoes in several ways...and I wish I could give you some words of wisdom to help, but I really can't...because I don't have the answers for myself.

I know that it causes feelings of inadequacy and an fear of never being able to 'keep up' with the need for 'extra stuff' in the bedroom. You wonder why you can't be enough of a turn on to your husband just as you are. You worry that he'll seek the 'extra' stuff other places (porn, affairs, etc) if you don't go along, but going along only to avoid this causes resentment and even more issues. Even if you get a lot of satisfaction using the 'toys', the question remains...why can't you get the same amount of satisfaction without them?

My advice to you is to get busy looking into ways to fulfill your need for 'extra stimulation' in the bedroom that does not involve anything but you and your wife. I know through the years I've told my husband lots of things that I 'like' but they seem to fall on deaf ears (not that I don't enjoy sex with him, just seems to very infrequently involve things that I REALLY like). After the ADHD diagnosis, I just figured it was 'boring' to him so he just never did it. Although it gives ME great satisfaction, guess that isn't enough 'extra stimulation' for him.

First, acknowledge to her that you know it is a problem and let HER dictate when "toys" will be used and DO NOT MENTION THEM again. Second, ask her what she likes/wants...and DO IT to the best of your ability. Ask for her input, let her know that you want to connect with her and you want to take away all of the 'crap' that is mucking up your sex life. Her giving a 'to do/to don't' list, although I understand where she's coming from, and then you responding by 'losing interest', is probably a big part of the 'functionality' problem you're having. It creates a vicious cycle and then performance anxiety is born and things take forever, IF EVER, to get worked out.

There are many options for being intimate and connecting on a sexual level that don't involve you having to perform like a rock star or having to use toys. The internet is a wonderful thing!


I think he said the problem started after he was diagnosed.


I really try to listen to her.  I learned long before being diagnosed to make notes about the things she likes or expresses interest in, and not just in the bedroom.  If we drive by a restaurant and she says she'd like to eat there some time, first chance I get I make a note of it.  Wandering around the store, I take note at what she's interested in.  And I totally respect her boundaries:  Nothing is bought (or brought) into our intimate relations unless we've talked about it and she has approved it. 

And when I mentioned 'meeting her needs', I wasn't talking just physically, but spiritually and emotionally.  I value connecting with her on a deeper level.  I guess I paid attention in premarital counseling! And we don't break out the 'add-on's, frills, and extras' every time we hope in bed.  I mean, I am capable of some level performance with out those things, but if I'm distracted in any way... Look, I'm really trying to keep this clean.  Let's just say that I would rather be able to perform consistently at 50%  with out the other stuff than the way things are now.  Really, a few years with erectile dysfunction has really brought me to a place of appreciating my wife and her body just for who she is.  I wish she understood that just because I can't give her 100%, it doesn't mean I don't love her and desire her.

I think that the whole needing novelty thing for me (at this point in our lives) is that in order for me to obtain any type of release, I need massive stimulation.  I think it is much more an ED thing than an ADD thing. 

I guess I have read a number of horror stories in the various ADD forums and books about the hyper-focused husbands who treated their wives as nothing but a tool for sexual gratification, and I don't see myself as being one of them.  I really love my wife and value her as a person.  She really is a great gal.  But I think she read a number of the same books and forums and read me into it.  It's almost humorous:  We didn't start having problems in the bed room until AFTER I was diagnosed.

The ADHD diagnosis did add a

The ADHD diagnosis did add a lot of 'crap' to my thoughts and complicated things even further. Talk to her..tell her exactly what you said to me above. I do believe you when you say that it isn't a case of using her body for your selfish you just have to keep telling her. Don't discuss it during sex or when you are wanting sex...I relate to so much of what you posted..and your thoughtfulness sounds a lot like my husband..I am certain with patience and honest communication you can resolve this. If my husband said to me what you d above it would be a great start. Good Luck! 

RE: Diagnosis Added a lot of '[email protected]'

Thanks Sherri.  Like I said in another comment, I hope to reset our discussion about this issue by reminding her that the ED was a legitimate issue before the ADD diagnosis, and that not every issue in our marriage is necessarily ADHD driven.  I'm confident we'll work through this and come out stronger on the other side. 

Hasn't been that long ago a

Hasn't been that long ago a member with ADD (female) posted about how much she loved her husband but just did not enjoy sex. She equated it with 'doing chores'. Things like this are the "crap" I am talking about that the ADHD diagnosis brought to the table...err...bedroom. We've gone from him having zero interest in sex (when we first met!!) to having a high enough sex drive to want sex everyday (about 5 years into the marriage when I finally gave up and stopped chasing him), to him expressing the need for 'extra stimulation' type things (not necessarily toys), then the ADHD diagnosis and it hit me like a ton of bricks...."OMG, I am not attractive enough for him!" "he's BORED having sex!" and going back and forth between NEVER wanting to allow toys in the bedroom to sitting down and ordering stuff online with him. We've talked the issue to death. The very last thing he said to me was "just stop thinking about it". I know I over analyze everything and it makes matters 100 times worse. Are you sure that you need a lot of extra stimulation to reach climax because of the physical issues or could it be some of the tension between the two of you is adding to that? Something to consider..maybe it will improve once communication improves? Hopefully?

As I said above...what would help is for you to sit your wife down...take her for a long drive in the country...and tell her as often as you can, for as long as it takes, for her to not equate everything in the bedroom with your ADHD. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that this is your fault, that you've done anything wrong, or that this is all on you to fix...she is going to have to meet you in the middle and listen to what you're saying, but it can start with you and it seems you really want things to be different, you dont' want her to feel this way, so I think that is where you should start.

Help her understand that you have a physical problem and you need her help to work through/around it. Ask for her honest with her.."it is really embarassing for me, but I want you to understand what is going on so that you do NOT take it personally." If she is anything like me, she will need to be told a time or 20 *blushes*...because I believe it when I hear it, but then the more time I have to think about it, the more I start to take it personally or feel it is just excuses again. My husband has gotten mad at me a couple of times because we'd talk about our bedroom issues and then I would bring them up in counseling...and he was certain they were resolved. He had some ED (he's only 38) for a period of time (due to some medication he was taking) and that really threw me for a loop. I am codependent, in case you didn't already figure that out.

Just talk...and listen...this is between you and your wife and I think you being honest with her is the best chance you have. You have the ability to improve this situation by just opening up communication and being patient with her. Ask her what she needs too. Best of luck!

on the flip side

My husband and I married at the ripe old age of me 50 and him 52 ....we had experienced a bit of ED (erectial  dysfunction) on his part before marriage but tried several medications (this is a common thing at our age)   I also was experiencing vaginal dryness (also common at our age) which added to our issues (he didn't like using lubricants and it was painful to me without them)  I suggested flavored lubricants but this was even more repulsive to him)  So where do we go  from here?   We love each other and we want the other one to be sexually satisfied but how do solve this issue?

LET'S GO BACK TO OUR SEXUAL HISTORY. of us was raised in a very sexually oppressed family where open displays of affection just simply didn't happen wasn't until much later years that they held hands and actually kissed in public.......the other parents were very open about their affection and even sexual attraction to each other (not inappropriate but obvious affection) the children from this union viewed sex as a normal natural expression of love between two committed people in love. so the question os how do you medlde the two?  


I am about the same age as you

I experience menopause the month after we got married. Included in that was a complete turn-off of sexual desire. I simply have none. I've been to several doctors who say they can't help. I can't use hormone replacement therapy for medical reasons. I do not have the common symptom of female dryness, I simply can't respond sexually.

Husband almost doesn't want to try any more, because he knows he can't "turn me on." Because of his ADHD, everything has to happen quickly. Enough foreplay to make me receptive makes his ADHD mind wander and he "loses it." He's only "interested" early in the morning before he's had his meds.

I haven't figured out if my lack of response is purely physical or if it's also from the devastating effects of ADHD on my marriage. The onset of menopause coincided with the first of his 7 ADHD-related job losses which lead to me working 2 jobs and really struggling to support him.

He is very affectionate, which I enjoy. Lots of hand-holding, kissing and "I love you"s. But he doesn't understand that the way I want him to express his love isn't saying it, but supporting me and meeting the needs of our household.

Re: Same age as you


Thanks for commenting and sharing.  I hope you read my other replies in this thread and take the encouragement I've shared with others as encouragement to you as well. 

I'm new to ADHD, but not new to marriage and relationships.  I've also done premarital counseling when I was a pastor.  I think that a lot of guys don't realize that foreplay begins with putting the dishes away, watching the kids, mowing the lawn...  not that it's a list to check off (I did this, then this, and now you owe me!).  It's more of a lifestyle than an action or a means to an end.  I won't try to get into the whole 'mars vs venus' thing, but it women tend to open up physically when their emotional needs are met (and I believe the the material issues of hearth and home are emotional issues for the wife) and men tend to open up emotionally when their physical needs are met.  So it's this weird, twisted dance that requires both partners to give and take, and even then, I believe there needs to be a spiritual baseline established that enables us to make the sacrifices and compromises needed.  Of course, when there is a long track record of hurt, one partner shuts down, the other shuts down, and the dance becomes a downward spiral.  Add ADHD into the mix and it get's even more complicated.

I'm sure that your husband loves you, and from my experience, he's probably torn up inside that he just can't seem to get it together.  Trust me, it's not that he doesn't want to.  He has a condition that impairs his best intentions.  I don't know if he's being treated or what he's doing to manage his ADHD, but encourage him in that direction (and I believe that establishing the spiritual baseline is part of that).  Really, if he's not doing something in that area, then just getting a job isn't really going to solve anything.

Theres a lot of advice out there as to how you guys can, err, get your 'timing' right sexually.  I won't go there.

I have to respond to that...

My husband is younger than me by 8 years and he was a virgin when we started ...(well, you know (blush)). He has been working now for 3 years but our financial situation is still dire because he doesn't make much money and his job requires 30,000 miles of driving a year without reimbursement. We had to drop me from his insurance and we are always broke. I've posted about the problems that this creates.

He is being treated. He takes meds but has no counseling. But he wants sex in the am before he takes his meds. I believe the anti-depressant he takes in addition to the ADHD meds may make him less "interested."

I am agnostic, he claims to be a devout Lutheran but I don't see it in his actions. So we have a spiritual "mixed marriage."

I wish I were as important to him as his job.

READ THIS -Menopause and sexual desire

Here is a statistic that may surprise you.  Fully 80% of women experience some sort of sexual dysfunction after menopause.  This includes lack of desire and dryness, both of which you mention.  What this means to your husband is IT'S NOT PERSONAL, IT'S BIOLOGICAL!  This can be a difficult message for a man to internalize - that his wife's lack of desire to have sex with him has nothing to do with him - but there it is.

What seems to work best in the situation you describe is the following combination:

  • wife reinforces that her lack of responsiveness is not personal and not a reflection of how she feels - it's a part of getting older.  it's just fine to have sex and not come
  • reinforce that it isn't your partner's only job to "satisfy" you physically.  Women are also satisfied emotionally through connection.  He can still do that by being compassionate, thoughtful (in and out of bed), respectful, and more
  • use lubricant generously, and early - make it part of your foreplay
  • have sex regularly even if you "aren't in the mood" (you often won't be...) just because you want to make sure you communicate that you care and this is an important part of doing that
  • Sometimes "be self centered" - there will be times when you actually are in the mood - when they come up, consider making sure you get the most out of it by letting your partner know and "directing" him a bit (if this isn't part of your normal interactions...don't know this, obviously!)
  • once both of you relax more about what your lack of desire (doesn't) mean, and start having sex more regularly, you'll quite possibly find that sex becomes much more satisfying to you both again and that the relaxation helps you enjoy it more.

Good luck with it!

RE: Flip Side

I wish I had a clear cut answer for you, but in a way, your situation mirrors mine.  All I can do is pass on the advice I've received:  Communicate.  And as I offered to some one else in this thread, I hope (and pray) that your husband has a revelation of your needs and becomes willing to compromise his reservations in order to meet you. 

I know that some guys have a weird sense of machismo in that if anything is added (medications, lubes) they feel threatened. And having been a Pastor, I've seen the damage that bad and wrong religious constraints can do.  I'm not saying that's the case here, but hopefully he can be convinced that he isn't lacking in anyway and that there is nothing wrong with using lubricants especially in light of the physical changes that take place with age.

If he has issues with lubes because he feels they are 'dirty', get them from the drug store and treat them as medicine.  I believe that as he begins to experience the closeness and pleasure of being able to connect with you, his concerns will pass.