I have been following this forum for years. I have read tons of books on ADHD and Melissa's book is my all-time favorite. I had it underlined with all kinds of notes for many years.
I want input about how I can have any kind of meaningful connection with my spouse -- I am worn out and tempted to prepare for a separate life in my later years (which start in the near future). I read Melissa's advice -- it is always good. I want to accept my husband as he is but the harsh truth is that the way he is makes my life hard. I would like a partner that is a team player, a helper - someone I can count on when I am hurt or feeling down, I have none of these things. I have a faithful spouse who is often fun to chat with but not if it is about anything concerning our marriage. He is sometimes very loving and caring but never in a dependable way. I depend on my friends and my paid help. I get the most reliable comfort from my dog. I think I would like to be free from all the ADHD baggage and drama.
Here is my story -- it is long and complicated. It is complicated because my spouse is a good person, a loving person, he has always been faithful and he loves our kids. He is good with our kids and has been a good father. He is brilliant and gifted. Our first 7-10 years of marriage were very happy. He is never abusive. He is kind and often very loving to me. He does not drink or use drugs.
In the beginning: I married very young and my husband was my best friend. He also hid things from me that I never knew until YEARS later: he dropped out of college but didn't tell me. He played video games all day while I thought he was in classes. I never knew. He lost jobs because he was fired -- he had a different spin on "fired" that was convincing to me-- he had reason to quit, people were "let go" etc. After our first precious child was born I took a sabbatical from my teaching job, 5 months later my husband was fired -- no way to convince me otherwise this time. I was terrified. We had no income, I had no help but him - -no family nearby and no funds for a sitter. My life suddenly became absolute Hell. I will not go into details but I was left with a newborn after a difficult birth and C-Section and my husband was gone most of the time (just driving around or hanging out at BurgerKing working on his laptop and chatting with people for hours). He became depressed -- badly depressed. I could not go back to my job because I did not trust he would tend to our baby well (I was right) and I did the math: daycare cost almost as much as I made (I taught). So -- I took a loan from my father for health insurance and some living expenses and I stayed home thinking my husband would find work soon. He had a job / career that paid double what I made. The ADHD (which I did not know he had) made the job hunt erratic. His job skills were highly marketable but his approach was: BurgerKing-laptop- ADHD.
Fast forward 10 years: my husband could not keep a job for more than 2 years. We had benefits off and on. I had an almost complete loss of my career -- I had to take whatever part-time jobs I could, my own happiness took a good beating and I had to get help for depression. I learned never to rely on my spouse. I borrowed more funds from my family because my husband failed to turn in his business expenses with his company and we had to pay for them out of our own pocket ($6000+) I also had to pay for health benefits when a job was lost. My family became angry with my spouse. They became distant with me and I felt this keenly. I was devastated and embarrassed. I couldn't think straight because I had to maintain the house, keep my own part-time job/s, and do all the childcare. This went on for years. When my husband's depression became alarming after the birth of our second baby I told him he had to get help. I found a therapist and begged her to take him on. Somehow I got him to the first appointment. She began to treat him for depression. He later found a job. I began saving every penny and looking for healthcare under my own name. My husband's therapist saw me with my husband's permission "to get the whole family picture" -- she told me I needed to begin "extreme self-care" and to pay for yard help and childcare help and to stay on an anti-depressant. She also told me I had to separate all of our finances and take my husband's name off every credit card. She said," learn to have and keep boundaries." My husband resents that I changed our finances to this day. He has never forgiven me for this -- he says that trust is crucial to him and that I show a lack of trust in him even years later. He has never failed to file his expenses again but I have not changed the finances. He cannot keep a checkbook or track anything to do with money. He still overdraws his account.
Fast forward another 5 years: our middle child is diagnosed with ADHD. I read the psychologist's evaluation to my husband and he has an epiphany--he has ADHD (I later discovered this is not uncommon). He gets on meds and immediately notices a difference. He keeps his job for the longest time ever in our marriage. I begin to relax about a job loss every 2 years.
The ADHD diagnosis is 27 years into the marriage. I read every book in sight on ADHD for my child and my husband. A LOT of damage has been done. I do a lot of self work, therapy, prayer and reflection. I realize a lot of my boundaries have not just been trampled but obliterated. I sign us up for a marriage retreat. It helps a bit but it is hard to get my husband to follow the schedule for times for "check ins" or for conflict resolution. He argues with me in front of the kids and I beg him to follow the "rule" of arguing (in private at a specified time and place). We go to another retreat that is all about conflict resolution. It helps while we are at the retreat but not at home. I tell my husband I am unhappy in our marriage and I feel alone and ignored. He is shocked. I say that he doesn't prioritize me over any screen. This seems obvious to me (he spends enormous amounts of time on his phone or in front of some other screen). I mention that this happened early in our marriage with the video games and maybe we should talk about it. He is scandalized. He says I should never say this to him again, that I have "let loose" on him and deeply hurt him. He cannot believe I would say this to him. I am confused by this response. We try again with a marriage counselor. I have great hope things will work. My husband is very responsive during therapy time. I become less and less hopeful as days and weeks go by and he does not do any of the "homework" or recommended things: daily checking-in with each other, once a week "how are we doing" chats. He is angry whenever I mention doing one of these. I must initiate every therapy appointment and remind him. He does not want to keep appt's and we miss quite a few. He cancels last minute and we have to pay in full. On the good side: he does make some changes. He does a few things with me for a while. I feel almost nothing toward him anymore-- I am just numb. When I am not numb I am angry. I am relieved when he is away on travel for business because I can keep things organized and there is no stress. I don't miss him. I no longer want to try and connect (part of the therapy was phone calls with each other when he travels). I tried this for 6 years and it was a constant struggle with him. I wish he had received ADHD coaching or advice of any kind along with the medication he began taking. He is now better but the primary habits remain: ridiculous work hours (likely due to ADHD issues) and when not working scrolling or watching things on the internet. I am trying to stay with him because we have one child still at home. But it is hard. He cannot acknowledge when he is wrong. He cannot hear the slightest suggestion about how I might feel hurt because he is on his phone/laptop whenever he is not working. He is "working" usually 13 hrs a day 6 days a week. He frequently works longer.
He has kept his job 9 years now (a record). Recently he has tried to remember to call me when he travels for work. He tries to keep dishes cleaned up. He has started to maintain the car more regularly (I had to do this for many years). I want to be positive about these good things. But the random outbursts of anger about minor things -- it gets old. He still does almost nothing around the house. That gets old. He has gained a lot of weight and is over 300 pounds. He is physically unable to do things due to his weight. He eats fast food every day. That is hard too. I fear I will be his caretaker soon. I know that sounds horrible and I feel guilty -- I hate typing this but I would like to have a future with some freedom. I have been the primary child caretaker for 23 years nonstop. I have loved being a mom but to be honest, I would like a break.
I would like to travel and maybe teach fulltime again. I am fortunate to have an Aunt that has given me her estate when she passed so I don't need financial support.
I am being completely honest here -- I shudder at how awful some of this must sound but I need advice. I don't want to spend the rest of my precious life spinning in anger and resentment. I wonder if maybe I just don't want to do the hard and thankless work of living with someone with ADHD?
I appreciate any help/advice,
I hope you follow your heart
Submitted by 1Melody1 on
"I shudder at how awful some of this must sound but I need advice."
Your feelings don't sound awful - just honest. It's possible people in your life won't understand if you choose to leave, but everyone on this forum who has lived a life similar to yours will! Near the end, I just didn't feel like I mattered at all. My time, feelings and ambitions didn't matter. I was a support system for someone else's disorder and nothing more.
We only get one life and if you want more from yours, you should pursue that if you have the means and motivation. Having teaching and travel opportunities sounds amazing!
Good luck with the hard decisions. I've been in your shoes and even when you know what you want in your gut, it is really hard to pull the trigger.
Thanks so much -- it is hard
Submitted by m2d on
Thanks so much -- it is hard to admit defeat after so long. I do feel this way: " I was a support system for someone else's disorder and nothing more." I think partly because there is so little discussion about ADHD and its effect on me and on our life together. He is too defensive to have any healthy discussion.
Submitted by sickandtired on
Please don't look at it as a defeat. This is your path to success! Living a peaceful and healthy life after escaping the prison of being an unappreciated caregiver, nurturing your self esteem by cutting his random outbursts of anger out of your life, and freeing yourself from the ravages of living with someone who does not carry their share of basic life responsibilities. I congratulate you for the beginning of your new life!