Hi everyone, I have never posted about this problem online before, and in fact I generally avoid such online forums because it always seems like a lot of "misery loves company" without many sincere solutions on offer. That being said, obviously for me to be here I have reached a certain level of hopelessness and am hoping to hear from others who have genuinely improved their relationships, and find out what worked in those cases.
Here's our particular situation: my husband has variously been diagnosed with ADD, depression, and borderline personality disorder. He tried Ritalin for a bit as a kid, a short stint with Strattera as an adult, and is presently only on Lexapro, which he has used for a few years now. Hard to say if the Ritalin worked or not (or would work now, more importantly), but he does have a heart condition in the form of a mitral valve prolapse that makes me nervous for him to go on the typical stimulant drugs. The Strattera seemed to do nothing and was pricey, so he stopped that. The Lexapro seemed to make a mood difference at first, but as time went on he reports that it doesn't seem to help anymore (though the side effects persist).
For my own observations, the short and dirty version is he is basically a 13 year old child in a man's body.
To start with, my husband does the usual ADD stuff, i.e. runs late often, forgets to complete chores, gets agitated quickly if we are working on a chore together that lasts more than 40 seconds, lets clutter build up repeatedly, etc. When forgetfulness is not an option he often writes off chores by arguing that they don't "need" to get done. He cannot pay attention during most conversations, and plays on his phone instead. Sitting at the dinner table with family for a conversation is like torture to him - like a kid, he wants to down his meal as quickly as possible and go back to playing games.
Speaking of games, I feel he has an unhealthy obsession with video games (some people take issue with the term "video game addict"). He spends pretty much every waking moment playing games, texting other people about games, visiting internet forums in order to refine his gaming strategies, and plotting out his next purchases. He even brings his Nintendo DS to work on days he thinks he can get away with it. These days he is awful at conversation, usually giving only brief one-word responses, but if the topic is about video games he will talk your ear off. And I say this as someone who happens to like video games. Video games are one of the common interests that actually brought us together. There are even a few we play together to this day. But for him it is unhealthy, and in a rare moment of clarity he admitted he had a problem with them and tried to moderate himself, but that was long ago and now he maintains that they are just his "hobby." Sadly I feel like he gets all his feelings of engagement, success, and camaraderie from games, so gaming has become his substitute for life.
Money has historically been a huge issue for him, and he has wasted literally thousands of dollars heedlessly in the past and gone into debt. This was a known issue before our marriage, so we agreed - without conflict - that I would handle the finances and he would basically get an allowance. This arrangement has mostly worked, except sometimes it only exacerbates the mother/child dynamic of our relationship when he asks to buy more video games, ostensibly oblivious to our financial situation even though I keep him involved with that information. Sometimes when it comes to spending he has a "good boy" mentality, like our finances are based on how well-behaved he was (again, childlike). Whether the money is there or not, he feels like he should be able to make ludicrous purchases based on merit alone, even though we have come up with a budget so he should not have to "ask" if it is okay to buy a specific game or not - he need merely consult the budget (we even made a spreadsheet showing how much money he has left annually for games!). That being said, I would not characterize this as a primary source of stress in our relationship since for the most part, it works.
If my husband were merely an immature and disorganized, but good-natured, buffoon, I would not think our relationship so troubled. However, he also has mood problems as well. He gets irritable very easily and has a tendency to use me as his "stress ball." Somehow things that have nothing to do with me become my fault, or even if he doesn't accuse me as such, he still acts out towards me because I am a convenient outlet for his aggravation. For example, if I am the only one in the room when he fails in one of his video games, I'd better take cover!
When life throws its usual curveballs (getting lost while driving on vacation, backed up plumbing in the house, dog needing to be walked in sub-zero temperatures, etc.) instead of rising to the occasion he crumples into an angry ball of helplessness and rage, blaming me for the problem and/or requiring me to fix it.
He also has very immature arguing and conversation habits, and has a tendency towards trying to defend himself by bringing me down in the most irrelevant of ways. The epitome of this was, one time, he defended his laziness with the only character assassination he could come up with at the moment: "You WISH you could be as lazy as I am," he says to me, as though his presumption that I too desire laziness justifies his own poor behavior.
Without continuing to run down the gamut of problems here, I need to conclude by saying that my husband is aware of his issues (barring the video games at this point), knows that he needs help, and for years he has tried to get it. He attended anger management for a bit (though I would categorize him as more "petulant" than angry), and individually saw two-three different psychologists over the course of years. Things did not seem to get any better, which is probably why the latter psychologist gifted him the label of "borderline personality disorder" (codename for "helpless cause"?).
Part of the problem (as ever) is money. As we are not rich we cannot afford quality mental healthcare. My husband has received counseling from the local college as well as the local community health center. However, I feel like he really needs a specialist, not just whatever counseling is affordably available. About a year ago I suggested we try marriage counseling since I didn't know what else to try at this point. However, I feel like that was no good either, because all of the things the counselor suggested might work for "normal" people, but were not customized to our unique situation. Plus I feel like in traditional marriage counseling there is reluctance to diagnose and treat only one of the partners lest they feel ganged up on, but in our case my husband does need the special attention, which he freely admits.
So for my real question: what can we try now? What will work given our special circumstances? Money is definitely a barrier, and whatever kind of therapy we next pursue must be the wisest choice. I considered DBT marital counseling if we can find a DBT specialist that provides such counseling, but in the end I am thinking maybe he just needs a highly specialized counselor to see individually. We cannot afford three kinds of therapy (i.e. individual therapy for each of us AND marriage counseling), so we have to pick one. Have any of you had success in this kind of relationship, and if so what worked? Where is our money best invested? The goal here is a "real," peaceable, and equitable relationship. I am not trying to ascertain how to be a better "caretaker" for an ADD partner - we are both striving to do our best and be our best for each other in this relationship.
And before anyone gives us any money-saving tips: we don't smoke, we don't drink (not even coffee), don't have cable TV or a landline telephone, and don't go out much where $$$ is needed. We are willing to make some financial tradeoffs to get the help we need but realistically it comes down to our income being too small to try all kinds of different therapies. Which one type of therapy is likely to do the most good for us?