Catch 22 - Both Partners Needing Support at Same Time

Hi all, I could really use some advice or encouragement here. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD about 5 months ago and am still just learning the impact it has and continues to have of me and my relationship with my wife. A the same time, my wife is also going through her own battles with grief (lost her brother) and chronic illness (resurgence of Lyme) that is physical exhausting and in addition to her ongoing depression and anxiety. This is creating a Catch 22 situation in which we are really not supporting each other because we both need support ourselves! As a result, we both don't feel supported by the other and that is taking a huge toll on our relationship.

We were just married in October and I feel like there is definitely resentment on both sides. She needs an emotionally supportive and consistent partner, but this is not me (right now) as I learn about how to better regulate my emotions, respond to her emotions, and deal with the symptoms of ADHD. And on this journey toward my own self improvement, I also need a supportive and patient partner, which is also very difficult for her. This is not how I imagined starting our life together as newlyweds.

People have commented that even objectively, we have a lot on our plate. I am also struggling to finish my PhD while searching for jobs. Needless to say, I feel stressed and overwhelmed in addition to a host of emotions that I am trying to get a handle on and that include:

  • Anger/resentment toward my wife.
  • Sadness about where our lives are at.
  • Exhaustion - Physical and Mental taking on more household chores while also dealing with both of our emotions.
  • Guilt over my inadequacy as a supportive partner
  • Cautious/tentative when relating to my wife because I don't know how she will react.

I am frightened about the future and what it holds for us as a strong couple. If she wasn't dealing with her own battles, I think she would likely be more supportive. Instead, she is shutting down (e.g., not being vulnerable anymore) and I experience demeaning, passive aggressive, and condescending comments that further exacerbate my emotions. I can understand why as I have broken significant trust over the past couples years, but this also has a big impact back on me. I end up struggling to work through intense emotions brought on by these interactions (and shutting down a bit myself) instead of focusing on how to overcome my symptoms as well as finishing my PhD/finding a job (something we both really want ASAP).

Every day sucks a bit more and I don't feel like we are building. She doesn't feel acknowledged by me and I don't feel acknowledged/understood by her.

I still love her deeply, but this stalemate cannot continue. My hope for a positive and fulfilling long-term relationship is waning.

Has anyone been stuck in this paradox of both the ADHD partner and the non-ADHD partner needing support, but neither able to provide? What was your experience? What types of advice do you have?