Can we expect our ADD spouse to be responsible for the damage they cause?

If your spouse does something really dumb because of his/her ADD, can we expect them to be responsible to repair the damage, or should we just "suck it up" like we do everything else?

Let me give you a specific example. My husband bought a new (to him) car because his new job required it. When he'd only had it 9 days, it broke down AND HE JUST LEFT IT ON THE STREET. It had a warrantee plan, so the seller was responsible for the towing and repair. He says he called and left a message on someone's voicemail, but he didn't know his phone number(!), so he couldn't leave a number for them to call back. They say he never called. Anyway, the car was towed by the city about 8 hours later. It happened I was due to pay my tuition the next day, and I had to use the tuition money to get the car out of the city impound. My name is on the car too, and he's required to have it for his job, and there was no other money to use. I was only able to take one class that semester instead of 4. This will knock me back a year on graduating.

I want him to pay my tuition to take enough classes to catch back up to where I should be next semester. He doesn't feel he should have to do that, because he'd probably have to work a second job. (I did that for almost 3 years while he wouldn't work, so I know it can be done.) He just says S...t happens. I am asking this in a calm, reasoned, non-accusatory way. I'm 55 years old and I am very much afraid if I'm nearly 60 when I look for a job in the field I'm now studying, I won't get one, so this is very important to me.

So, what I'm saying is, is the ADD person responsible for the damage they cause, or should the spouse bear all the losses when the ADD person makes an ADD mistake?

Responsible or not

Boy, have I had these type of experiences and usually I was the one to fix them.  The key is to stop fixing them.  He needs to learn that there are consequences for his actions and unfortuately that means he will need to bear that burden.  I've said this before and I'll say it again -  start taking care of yourself.  If he needs to take mass transit or car pool or ride a bike (you know what I mean) he needs to find a way to get there on his own.  You should not be footing the bill for his bad decisions.  He needs to feel that sting.  You are not responsible and are not his mother.  I know a lot about the "mother role".  Maximize who you are.  You can only change yourself, but by changing yourself you just might force a CHANGE in him.  Either way you'll be okay because you've done the work on and for yourself.  You can do it!


Thanks for the reply. I agree with you in principle but my name was on that car as well. The city would have sold the car for a couple thousand bucks and the balance of the loan would have been on my credit as well as his. He would have lost his job. 90% of his job is driving (no company car) and losing the car would have meant losing his job. I really felt I had no choice, but now I want him to take the consequences by paying me back and it hurts like hell that he doesn't feel he should have to do it. When I try to discuss it with our therapist, she says we can't discuss it yet (it's too sensitive of an issue).

Should your ADHD Husband pay for the damages he has caused. . .

I am really thinking about this one. I have read every ADHD book that I can get my hands on, and I have scoured every site over the course of the last 6 years. I was diagnosed at 34. My son, who is 8, has it, and I am sure that my husband (whom I have known since he was 14) has it, but he is undiagnosed. I have experienced great career success and I have a master's degree, so I have managed to learn some coping mechanisms (once the second child came, all hell broke loose, though, so I can really sympathize with the severe symptoms and the consequences that ADHD brings.) Back to your situation . . . my father was an alcoholic, and my mother was very co-dependent. I now am beginning to realize that my father probably had ADHD too. We really have to be careful in attributing your husband's "attitude" to his ADHD. It seems that it is his attitude that is causing more of a problem than his ADHD, and I'm not sure that his attitude has anything to do with his ADHD. In my personal experience, even with my father, when we do stupid ADHD things, we are often angry at ourselves, ashamed, embarrased . . . is there one word which encompasses all of these emotions? The tricky thing about ADHD is that it kind of "sits on top" of who the person is underneath. There are nice people who have ADHD and there are not so nice people who are afflicted by it. This isn't to say that growing up with ADHD can't affect the kind of person that you become, but usually it affects people in the way that it truly damages their self esteem. Why? Because they realize how ridiculously stupid the things that they do are, and they feel BADLY about that. They feel bad that they have hurt others, that they have caused damage (those who can see that they have done so.) You didn't tell him that he was a fool for leaving the car, did you? No. You just wanted him to appreciate the sacrifice you made and to WANT to repay you for it, right? I mean, you even put your name on the car so he could get it, knowing that there was a possibility that he might do something like this and you would be responsible. You did that for him. So, isn't the problem more of a character thing and not an ADHD thing? Here is where the ADHD and who the person is diverge. Did your husband leave the car sitting there because he wasn't thinking? Was he being impulsive? If so, I believe that when he got home, he would have realized his mistake, felt like bopping himself over the head, been really remorseful, and told you that he was really sorry. That would be the "kind of person" that he is. That has nothing to do with ADHD. ADHD can make you do careless things (like locking your keys in your car, over and over and over - when you know how stupid the things are, but it is only when it is too late to take it back that it "hits" you. You don't do these things consciously. That's the problem. If you were thinking about it at the time - well, you (depending on the PERSON, not the ADHD) would probably wouldn't have done it! That is the impulsivity that comes with ADHD territory. It doesn't mean that you do these silly things on purpose - only that you often do them without thinking them through first. I am pretty sure that studies have proven that children with ADHD, when questioned, know the correct responses to certain situations. However, when they are put in those situations, they don't always do the thing that they previously (in the interview) said was the right thing to do in that situation. What I am getting at is that it sounds like your husband made a conscious choice to leave the car (because he knew you would deal with the problem.) Then, he stood firm behind his bad choice even after he had time to think about it later. He has chosen not to try to repay you or even tell you that he's sorry for the damage he's caused. That is his choice - not his ADHD. The only glimpse of ADHD that I see in this situation is his refusal to accept that the problem is a result of his BAD CHOICES. I have often read that CHILDREN with ADHD (maybe adults?) have a tendency to feel like they do not control the things that happen in their lives, thus causing them to blame their behaviors or the result of their behaviors on others. When he says, "S*it Happens" he is relinquishing any responsibility on his part for what happened. Maybe that is part of his ADHD. . . If this is ADHD related, then it is a real problem, and he needs to seek treatment immediately. Seeking treatment IS WITHIN HIS LOCUS OF CONTROL. If he will not get help, then you have to make a choice, and you must live with the consequences. What I'm leaning toward believing is that he is possibly immature, irresponsible and a bit selfish. Even if none of this were his fault at all - you used your tuition money, which was important to you, to make his life better. You didn't have to do that. If I got into trouble, through no fault of my own, I wouldn't feel like my family was obligated to bail me out. I would appreciate that they did, especially if it were a huge sacrifice to them, and they didn't have to do it. I wouldn't put salt in the wound by saying, "Sh*t Happens". How about "Thank You for being there when I needed you?" or "How can I repay you?" These are character traits, not ADHD affiliated :) So he isn't willing to pay the consequences for his behavior. One reason may be this: He knows that he doesn't have to. If he really believes that he shouldn't have to pay you back or help you, and he has no remorse for the problems he has caused you, then it sounds like he is a "victim" of co-dependency. Either his parents, or perhaps you (and this is not an insult to you - co-dependent people work like dogs to "make things right" and they are good people), have enabled him to shirk responsibility for so long that he simply knows that there will be no consequences if he does this. One question for you: What are you planning to do if he chooses not to reimburse you? Is it something that he would have predicted? I have always heard that the consequence has to be WORSE than the alternative. Hmmm . . . working two jobs for MONTHS ON END or listening to you whine every once in a while? Guild doesn't appear to be a factor.


I have ADHD the combined type...and I take FULL responsibility for any damage I cause to other people's property or for things that I've done that have cost people money. Trust me... before I was medicated it was ridiculous the amount of personal property I destroyed when I'd go into a rage---2 windshields i kicked in/out, a few windows and holes in the walls of my mom's house...etc....It got so expensive I decided it would be best to just invest in anger management classes and medications LOL...After I was medicated and took an anger management class, I haven't destroyed personal property anymore but now its kinda like I inadvertantly cost my spouse money--tow charges, locksmiths, gas money to pick me up if I forget to put air in a tire and have a blowout--that sort of thing (Spouse and I have separate banking accts---Smart move on spouses part LOL!!!). So just because I wasn't paying attention and locked my keys in the car (and didn't have any cash on me at the time) my spouse would have to come all the way from work to take care of it... So even though my spouse never expected to be paid back, I still did because it was totally my fault. The ADD person should be held accountable I think...(and I have ADD) ...I may not be able to find my car keys 20 days in a row, but I'm able to distinguish between what I'm to blame for and take responsibility for it. So I think this situation has to do with your husband's disrespect of you and nothing to do with him having ADD...Maybe you should tell him that if he doesn't pay for it then you aren't going to help him out the next time he gets into a situation like that---and trust me he WILL (its a foregone conclustion)...Stick to your guns and don't pay for it next time he makes a mistake since he is messing with your livelyhood. And