Codependency and when to leave the relationship

As I read a lot of posts,I see the same issue of the non ADD spouse wondering when enough is enough.My question is a two part one and I am interested to hear what Melissa has to say as well as others thoughts.

At what point do you leave the relationship and when is it considered being codependant and "Unhealthy?"

It seems ADD by nature has all the codependant signs to go with it.It sets you up for being that way as a lot of times your forced to "take care" of everything.You then get into trying to control their actions,mothering,nagging,etc. for the well being of the family.So is it not considered codependant and a "Healthy relationship" if they ARE self sufficient?(Taking meds,counseling,reading the books,trying hard to be responsible,etc.)However if they are NOT making an effort at all then it would be considered an "Unhealthy relationship"??Am I understanding that correctly?

As I currently am in a class for this very thing..codependancy,which is very helpful...for me it raises the question...Ok how is this different than a drug/alchohol/sexual addiction where they refuse to change or get help?In that case,anyone would say..."Oh yes!The healthy decision is to get out of the relationship ASAP and move on with healing yourself!"Yet when it is ADD you get a different response of..."Well they have ADD and can't help it so you should be sympathetic and put up with it." My question is,how is it different when they ALL show the same behaviors of not wanting to change?Granted,those are addictions and this is ADD,but the behaviors are the same of refusing to change and telling you where they think you should put those books,ideas of counseling,etc...where the sun don't shine...if you know what I mean.

It just seems that no one speaks of the facts,that being in an ADD relationship COULD be unhealthy.Instead of..."Oh you need to work with them,feel sorry for them,etc!"Don't they have the same responsibilites as all responsible adults do in this world?The consequences of the alcholic who won't go to rehab is he looses his family.The consequence all too often with ADD is that the partner sticks it out and trys even harder next time and so the cycle continues.I agree that you have to try all avenues and be willing to work at it...but there comes a point when some of us are starting to give up who we are as individuals in extreme ways.Is it as simple as..."If they are willing to work with you and are open to change...then stay.If they are not willing to work with you at all and refuse to change...leave!"I don't know because there are so many excuses society puts out there because its "ADD",so it makes it a double edged sword for the non ADD spouse and you feel so guilty if you do leave....because after all,"they can't help it!"I am not trying to be mean...its just something to think about.

I told my therapist just last week what is going on in my relationship....all the very same things everyone on here talks about.The frustration,the sadness,the loneliness,the anger,etc and her response was..."Your not in a healthy relationship".So doesn't that proove my argument correct?After all..thats coming from a professional.Anytime your needs aren't being met,thats considered unhealthy....right?So I then told her...."Well...OK...but he doesn't beat me,he isn't verbally abusive,doesn't cheat,etc."She said,thats setting the standard too low.Your settling for a relationship that isn't working for you".A lot of these posts are..."not working for the non ADD partner" what do you do?They refuse to change or "not recognize how their ADD affects everything" when do you leave if it turns "Unhealthy"?How long SHOULD you put up with it?If it was a drunk were talking about,society would say get out...NOW!Its all the same feelings for the if you think about it,what is the difference?I also get how it is a personal decision for everybody and it isn't anyone else's place to determine when YOU should get out and in the end it does have to be your decision...but just some general opinions would be great!

I may be completely in left field on this,but I keep thinking about it..what is anybody else's thoughts?

Feeling alone and ready to leave

Hello everyone.  This is my first post.  I am feeling very alone right now.  I have not talked to anyone about this and am scared. I have been married for 19 years to a spouse that I am almost certain has ADHD.  He has not be diagnosed and has obviously never been on meds.  He has a sibling that has been diagnosed and a father that demonstrates many ADHD symptoms.

My spouse is hard to live with.  He is impulsive and can say things that are hurtful then will only apologise later after much prodding.  It is very hard for him to relax.  I feel guilty reading a book or just reading email messages because he will make me feel guilty for not being busy on housework or giving him attention.  He starts out many projects at once and has many irons in the fire at one time.  He collapses in bed after running around all day doing it all.

He rarely gives me attention and affection without prodding.  I feel like a whiner and hate to have to ask. I dress up for an evening out and he says nothing.  I come home with work stories and he is elsewhere (staring off into space...).  I feel so alone and hurt.  I am ready to leave.  I have recently mentioned that he may have ADHD and he has come back defensive and sarcastic. 

I don't want to give ultimatums.  I am not sure that I want to continue living like this (with him) anymore.  I am starting to imagine a life alone where I am happier and responsible only for my own emotional wellbeing.  Help, I need some support.


Feeling alone and ready to leave

Wow, we must be on the same wavelength because I came here looking for help and you posted the exact same thing I'm feeling on the same exact day. We've been married for 4 years, together a total of 6. We were also high-school sweethearts who had broken up for about 10 years and found our way back to each other. In the beginning of our relationship he would be so caring and attentive. He was just so 'into' me and I felt the connection again. Now I wonder if it was just nostalgia that brought us together. In the beginning of our marriage I noticed something wrong. My husband has ADHD and is an alcoholic and verbally abusive. I have slowly but surely become a co-dependent. I grew up in a co-dependent household with my dad being an alcoholic. Funny how I didn't notice the signs in my husband. I would get so upset and cry when he would rather watch sports, go out with his friends, go to happy hour all night, and then the intimacy just stopped. If I wanted to talk about it, all he would do is say mean things and call me names. He can be very vicious. I left him last September for a month and lived with my parents. I also started going to Al-anon which helped me greatly!! I learned to detach and live and let live. So from that point on, when I moved back, I did not take it personal if he wanted to do this, that, or the other. I had to find my own thing to fill up my time. Now that I've been doing my thing, I'm not sitting around waiting for him to have time or give me attention. In this past year, I've learned to adapt and now he doesn't like that I have my things I enjoy without him. He's been so mean to me lately but I've just been trying to be emotionally detached to his words. I know he loves me, but I've reached my breaking point. I can't hold a conversation with him because he's zoning out and his attention is elsewhere. I can't really tell him what I'm feeling without him getting defensive and going off on me. Basically his life is retail work (odd hours), college football, pro football, college basketball, pro basketball, baseball, ESPN, his Blackberry, and whatever else holds his attention. I don't fit into that equation. I tried in the beginning to be interested in things he likes, but he wouldn't reciprocate. That's when I started turning away. I had health problems 1 year into our marriage which he wasn't there emotionally for me. Basically I was in pain 24/7 and couldn't walk or even dress myself without feeling pain. When I needed him for support, he wasn't around. About the second year of our marriage, he got an opportunity to relocate to another state in order for him to move up the ladder. We were already shaky then, but I agreed. Figured it would be good to just be us and see how that goes. Needless to say, without my circle of family and friends around, I just couldn't handle it anymore. Luckily, we were able to relocate back to our state after a year and a half. Now I am near my family which makes me happy. They are only an hour or two away. This past month has been very hard on me. I had a friend who committed suicide, my natural father died and I found out 3 weeks later, found out my godmother is dying, work has been hectic being that I am the only one who does my job in general, he also got laid off because his company went under so he's been out of work but is starting a new job on Monday. It's just too much for me right now and I know I don't get the emotional support from him I so desperately need. Since going to Al-anon, I've learned to stop talking to everyone about my problems with him. Because of that, now I don't know who to talk to. I just feel like the world is on my shoulders. Last night I slept in the spare bedroom after a huge fight we had. We had a fight the night before, and the night before that. I have a friend who is looking into a place for me to move to so I hope it comes through soon. I could really use some support too. I just feel so empty and used up, I don't have anything more to give.

At Wit's End

Can you afford professional help?  It's one thing not to talk in general about your husband's dependencies, but you can most certainly get some support from a therapist, and it sounds as if you really need it!  Don't go through this alone!  Keep going to the al anon meetings, etc., too.

See if you can work with your therapist to set up specific boundaries for what's workable in your marriage and what isn't.  You don't wish to move from verbal abuse to physical abuse (if you do, move out immediately), and you need to find a way to get the verbal abuse to stop in your relationship.  Marriages are for support and happiness, not misery.  Set rules that make sense for you, assure him that you aren't going to try to change him, but that you have certain standards for living with anyone (including him) because you respect yourself, then hold him to those standards.  If he wants to have you stay together, he'll start to work on his ADD and alcoholism (HE can go to al anon, too!).  If not, then you'll know what you need to do.  You deserve happiness...insist that if he really, truly loves you he gets the help he needs to show it.  Else you will assume that his actions (mean words, etc) demonstrate his true feelings and that he is willing to deal with the consequences like an adult.


I Know

I have read your post and after 16 years in this marriage with ADD spouse I must say I have been there done that. I wish someone would have told me how this would ruin my life and destroy the person that I used to be. My adivse is to consider getting out sooner while you are still whole and the damage is not too extensive. If I had done that my life would have been so different. I have found that in most cases such as mine the person with ADD just don't change. It is very difficult to live with. If I had not found this sight I would have gone on for much longer thinking that I am crazy. Now I have found others who are experiencing what I am. Sorry to be blunt and negative. I have been alone in my marriage for a very long time. It is a terrible existance.

Still Smiling...sort of

Both you and your husband should seek medical help.  He may have things other than ADD that he might be able to address with the help of a full evaluation and you would benefit from some support, as well as help learning how to express your needs to him.  Also, it sounds as if joining a local support group for spouses with ADHD could help you a lot.  Ask your doctor for recommendations, or go to the CHADD and ADDA websites for ideas of those in your area who might know of some.

His response to the ADHD comment is not atypical - it's very threatening to feel as if you might have something that might stigmatize you in some people's minds and your bringing it up to him suggests you are unhappy (which you are), which is also "threatening".  But eventually he will have to deal with his issues in terms of how he relates to you or you will leave him.  So you have a choice...continue to bring it to his attention in creative, hopefully non-threatening ways, or live life the same (which seems unacceptable).  A therapist can help you determine the best way to approach him.

The distraction inherent in ADD is hard to deal with.  It makes the non-ADD spouse feel really, really lonely.  It's terrible to feel that you are 25th on your husband's list of things to pay attention to.  Please know that his lack of attention is not personal.  It's not because you are somehow deficient.  It is because he has ADD and is distracted, that's all.  Also, he hasn't learned to read social and emotional cues very well.  This means he can't "read" when you are needing his attention.  You can even tell him point blank - "I'm lonely and I need your attention" and he still won't seem to get it!  Again, this isn't personal.

But, even though it isn't personal, you have a right to insist it change.  He has a responsibility to be a good partner to you, and right now his ADD symptoms are getting in the way of that.  So try to have some conversations with him that things aren't working for you in the marriage.  You need certain things (his attention at least some of the time, for example).  You suspect that ADD symptoms may be playing a role in your issues because of what you've read, and you think that it would be great if he might explore whether or not he might have ADD.  He can do this by simply reading Delivered from Distraction - an easy request.  Furthermore, you might tell him that while you suspect ADHD, you don't care whether or not he has only care that the way that you interact improves.  You aren't looking to "label" him, only to provide creative input into how you might mutually start to address some of your relationship issues.  (You can say "mutually" here, because if he does confirm he has ADD, then that also provides YOU with a roadmap for how to start working together better.)

In the short term, don't set yourself up for disappointment.  Don't expect him to notice if you dress up, for example.  ADDers are notoriously bad noticers of stuff like that (until they train themselves to notice...which is a different stage from the one you're in now).  Don't feel guilty about what YOU are doing.  You have a right to do emails, or read a book.  See if there are ways you can do that "together", for example sitting in the same room, if you feel that you want to.  Learn to get his attention before starting your work stories.  Ask him "I would love to tell you a story about work.  Do you want to hear it?" for example.  Then, make it short and easy to listen to for someone with a short attention span.

Experiment a bit.  Some people with ADD concentrate better with music playing.  Though it drives me nuts, my husband is much more likely to listen to me if there is a radio playing in the room.  Will this work for you?

The underlying issue here may well be untreated ADD (or untreated something else)...get the support you need immediately, then communicate clearly your needs.


I could have written your

I could have written your post myself. Sometimes is helps to know that I am not the only one going through this. I Know I Know how you feel. I have been at the end of my rope for many years. My spouse wont get help, and I need help and support too.

adhd husband

I have been with my husband for 11 years the first year he was on medication for his adhd he treated me wonderfull ive never been so happy nor have i ever felt a love so strong .After about a year he ran out of medication /insurence and it started his insecurities turned into insane untrusting issues ,like I could not even hang out with girlfriends without him making a huge scene...could not wear what I wanted to wear even now if i bend over an my shirt comes open he is mad stomping around for hours.he snaps at me for the stupidest things i mean just plane mean an nasty.people dont always talk about this side of ADHD but for me its been the worst it is like he is not happy so I cant be either he is always stomping around complaning about well everthing I do along with the rest of the world ,everyone is stupid doctors cops everyone he alone knows whats going on. wow i know...Then his bordom he cant just relax therefore we have to kids I take my 7 year old to an from school every day an three days a week she has activities i work also have a 2 year old do all the cleaning shopping you name it an i cant watch TV he gets angry at me if i use the computor he is mad so because he cant sit still it actuly bothers him to see me sitting so im not aloud to relax... now I am losing hope ive come to the point where i really cant take much more im depressed very angry at times i feel like i hate him i cant have friends i cant go out i had our first child at 17 an took full responsability worked and cared for her day an night alone while he went out because he could not just sit home so i missed out on alot ,i wouldent change having her for anything it would just be nice to go out ever nowan again. an as far as'' I should just not let it bother me hes cant help it he has ADHD ''I dont think I can do it anymore but I feel guilty to go I also feel dependent ive been with him half my life i know no other wayi cant afford my home alone an i have actuly tried to get him to go recently an he would no go anyhow.. how do i know when enough is enough .I am now depressed an dont even remember who i am hes squashed it from me an worst of all because of his illness has no idea! actuly he thinks im crazy thinks its all me i even started to beleve it for a while im so angry i cant take it much more anyhow i just thought id give you a little insight to the other side of adhd see he works an can pay attention he is extremely smart his iq test was way above average even in his school days he had all As well untill he was expelled for law breaking ADHD has many heads some are worse than others depending on the person

ADHD and relationships

I have been dating a guy for two years who I believe is ADHD but there has not been an official diagnosis. This guy can be so much fun, loving and quite attentive at times however there is another side of him that really scares me. He can be immature and selfish and when he doesn't get his way he becomes the incredible hulk. I've come to place in my life where the focus is no longer on him but on me. Why? Why do I accept his behavior, his insults and he can be destructive as well. He has made threats to hurt me and has destroyed furnishings in my home. So again my question is why? Why do I accept this behavior and why don't I feel I deserve much better? I know several adults with ADHD who function well in life and treat their signaficant others with respect and love. I believe these people continue with their behavior because we allow it. Several months ago I gave my guy an option to get help or to remove himself from my life........I have not heard from him in a week...... He made his choice :-)

ADHD & relationships

It is very sad to read comment after comment. I too am married to a man with ADHD. He is the most caring, loving man I know, yet living with him is killing the person I am and the person I can become. He hasn't worked for 3 years yet he has vacationed 3 times this year. He continues to run up his credit card balance and sneaks/hides purchases in the house. He is always there to lend a helping hand for EVERYONE yet cannot help himself. He was diagnosed over 2 years ago and constantly makes excuses to avoid seeking help. I have tried to find experienced professionals to help him but haven't had any luck in our area in Wisconsin. I do not want to be his mother, his caretaker and shoulder all the responsibilities while he floats around like a butterfly doing whatever catches his interest for the moment. I want someone who will walk beside me and work with me, not against me. I really wanted this marriage to work but I have put up with far too much and life is far too long to suffer as I am. The stress has taken a toll on my health - both physically and emotionally. Once I accepted that life will be better if I walk alone, I filed for divorce and feel like a huge burden has been lifted. Unfortunately he still does not accept it but he must move out of the house by the end of November. Good luck to all of you who choose to stay in your relationships. I wish you the best.

ADHD & relationships

How did you get to the point that life would be better if you walked it alone.  Do you have children?

adhd and relationships

You did the right thing. You will be better off. I have been married to an ADHD spouse for 7 years. He did get help, but had I known about it before the marriage I would not have married him. It can be a real burden and lonely.


I could of written this same post! I was told by my therapist that I was in a toxic marriage. I AM SO TIRED OF HEARING IT IS BECAUSE OF HIS ADHD!!!!!! I have become a person/spouse that I do not want to be..angry, frustrated and getting mean to him. We have 3 children, one with Special Needs and I am doing all the coordinating and scheduling of activities, therapies, household chores while he goes from one thing to another without a care in the world! He has so many projects going on in our house that not one room is done! My house is so embarrassing and non functional that I cannot have anyone over for a play date, dinner or for holidays! And his excuse...I have ADHD and I am trying but it is the way that you talk to me! Well I am sorry but when I have to tell 3 times about an appointment or that the trash needs to be taken out I get frustrated because I am already dealing with 3 kids, homework, sports schedules and my own schedule with work! UGH!!! He is on medication, sees a therapist and reads all of Hallowell's books but it has not changed. How can he function at work but can't at home? I feel unloved and so alone and now the kids are picking up on that Dad is just not around even when he is in the house. He is either on the computer or doing some sort project that has nothing to do with what needs to be done in the house (i.e. fixing his tractor seat vs fixing the bathroom sink that is leaking!) I want a partner not another child! But when do I say enough is enough? Why do I have to be the understanding one? Why can't he understand my side? Oh that's right, because he has ADHD! From what I read from your books Dr. Hallowell is that I need to understand, watch out for his self-esteem (What about mine?!?) and come up with all these strategies for him to help him on and by the way do all of this while in between taking my older son to football practice, one son to a playdate and one son for his PT/OT and Speech Therapy. When is my time???? There has to be a better way. I know that I sound bitter and angry but that is how I feel! Sorry but I feel like a single parent with a roomate who is draining me emotionally!!

Bitter it is!

I am so glad I read your post. I have been married to my husband for 20 years. Same story, constant change and chaos, no follow through, loneliness, poor attitude and no responsibility taking. Yet all the advice I find, is to be patient and understanding. What he doesn’t get done you have to do it yourself. More I read the tips and advice for living in a marriage with an ADHD spouse more resentful I get. I do not know what the answer is but it is nice to read that I am not alone or crazy feeling this way.

Not sure how to face 2009

I just found this site today, New Year's Eve, and I am amazed at how many people are dealing with the same things I have been. I have felt so alone and isolated.

I have been married for 23 years. My husband was never diagnosed with ADD as a child, although he is certain he has it. His never manifested in overt "hyper" behaviors in school, mostly confusion and an inability to concentrate.

I'm horrified now to think for all this time I have been enabling him not to have to deal with it. I knew him well when we married. I knew what worked for us and how to keep peace. As years went on, I knew things he wouldn't face or face without me to "hold his hand." I did a lot on my own--sat at a lot of school functions, family functions, obilgations "without a date." I live in a somewhat remodeled house where nothing ever quite gets done. I make a lot of compromises.

Conflicts followed a pattern of, regardless who caused the offense, it would be me to finally go to him, even if I had to swallow my pride or stuff my anger, to restore our relationship. It was easy with little things.

Last year, he did something that hurt me very deeply and I couldn't just let it go. I was determined for once, to have him find a way to make up with me. He couldn't. My continued hurt would hurt him and his increased stress and frustration made things worse.

We have been able to talk, in the middle of all the fighting, and for the first time looked into what ADD can mean for adults--much more than we knew--and he is seeing a doctor on Monday.

I guess what I need to know is if he is diagnosed, and if he does take medication, I would expect it to help the wanting to go a million different directions and the inability to organize and the not being able to sit still, etc. But will it help him empathize? Will he be able to think before he speaks and realize how hurtful he can be? If I ask him to do something, can I ever expect him to see it might make me happy and do it?

Standing up for myself finally has made my life very hard. Right now staying in the marriage and leaving the marriage both seem like terrible options. I'm just looking for some hope.

To Mia

I just had to respond to your questions: But will it help him empathize? Will he be able to think before he speaks and realize how hurtful he can be? If I ask him to do something, can I ever expect him to see it might make me happy and do it? From my own personal experience...the answer is no. NO! There is no empathy, there is slightly better impulse control but not enough to make a difference, and he still does what he wants, when he wants, with no regard to what will make me happy. I believe its because he lived his whole life this way and wasn't diagnosed until he was 41. Best wishes for continued strength! I truly mean that.

More questions

I know I need to wait until tomorrow to start getting ANY answers, but I wonder if not dealing with it at all until you're in your 40s means things really won't change that much. As I read about meds, therapy, coaching, etc., someone his age could be pretty well adjusted by now, unless he had a wife who always smoothed things over, made excuses for him and did everything herself...
As I told him ( and we didn't fight when I said it, believe it or not) for 22 years, I lived with the hope things would get better. I'd see little victories--something would get done or he'd step out of his comfort zone a little. Now, I'm afraid things will never change. Maybe even get worse.
And I'm afraid of what the rest of my life will be like. Like I said in my previous post. Staying or going both seem like terrible options.


Mia, please don't take on the responsibility for his behavior. Its not fair to yourself. Have you seen a counselor at all? If he won't go with you, then do it for yourself. It brings me some much needed peace and its a place to vent and not be judged for all my feelings-good and bad. Keep us informed of the doctor's visit today. Are you going with him? Try to if you can. My husband's self-reporting to his doctor isn't always all that accurate. You should give the doctor your input too-it will help the doc to see more clearly how his ADD impacts your family life. Best of luck! Take care of yourself girl

doctor's appointment

He went to the doctor yesterday. There are actually also some test results that aren't quite right, so he is having blood work and another test to look into that. As for ADHD, the doctor told him "I won't give you medicine today."

I'm surprised he'd give him medicine at all actually. I thought there'd be a referral to a mental health professional.

That might be in the plan, though. My husband is supposed to get his tests, then return for a follow up and bring me to talk to the doctor.

Only problems: more waiting, no answers and ducking all the time when I think the next bomb will drop...

self centeredness

Here I sit alone again. Sick as a dog with pneumonia and he is out with his friends. I did manage however to cook his damn dinner, do his laundry and clean up his mess after he left for work this morning. Just like I always do. I just can't bear looking at the crap pile up when he waits until he is ready to do it. But like I said I am sick. Is it too much to ask for a husband who is concerned enough about his wife to look after her while she is sick? To give up his night out for me? For once?? I am tired of being alone in a marriage. I got laid off in Sept so leaving right now isn't a choice. I don't want to leave if the truth be told...I made a committment. I still am hoping for him to change. Medication does nothing to help his self centeredness. I should leave. I deserve better than this. Am I stupid?


Hello, I'am new to this forum so I'am a little shy to write this. But I share this to maybe help someone. I have been married for twelve yrs to a husband who has Adhd and  depression and is also a alcoholic. I have many stories I could share. I understand about the next bomb falling there are times we have to walk on eggshells at my house. This summer my husband decided to go work in another state because he had lost his job. The gas was shut off, phone etc.. He left and went to his cousins for a week to fish etc... before he went to work.  when he did go to work he was there for over a month, went gambling got kick out where he was staying. that day he told me everything was fine but he was lying. He went back to his cousins (it was 4th of july weekend) didn't answer the phone and I had no idea what happened to him. He finally came home and told me about what he did. I was flabbergasted. My anger was seeping and oozing out of me. He never sent me any money the whole time he was gone( he had told me it was in the mail) and among the stories he told me he pawned off our wedding ring because he had spent all his money and needed gas for the car.Well I had a emotional breakdown. I went to a good friend who talked me into going to the hospital because she could see that I was on shutdown mode. I spent 4 days in the hospital and met a lot of people. I had time to relax and understand myself more and some of him. I learned a lot about healthy boundaries. I asked my husband to come so we could speak to a counselor at the hospital. The next day the nurse told me she "saw what I was dealing with"! I don't think my husband ever understood how I really felt. After that I got better because I have a strong faith and many praying friends. My husband and I  ended up separating and  He had gotten a good chunck of change which he spent at  his leisure. I had given him our bills and they ended up wrinkled and unpaid on the bottom of the car floor. Also at this time our house was in forecloser and some other major things happened. . For today we are back together  for how long? only God knows. Why do I stay? I have 4 beautiful children who we both love so much and it would devestate them if we divorced. I have decided not to let his toxic thoughts take over my life . I fight it in my mind. I recently learned that with fear based thoughts, stress. we form thorn like shapes which releases chemicals in our brains in wrong quantities and causes chemical imbalances, I'am getting a book called WHO SWITCHED OFF MY BRAIN. by caroline leaf. talks about it. I also choose to look at life and its beauty. I have been through a lot but I choose not for it to destroy my world! I don't mean to sound trite but have a cup of tea, relax and enjoy nature. Take time to see the beautiful side of life. Theres always ugliness in the world but only you can choose your path. Whichever way you go you are not alone:} If you would have talked to me a few months ago I would have told you I'am at my wits end. But now I choose not to be.

To Optimistic

I really like your attitude - taking your own life into your hands.  I also like that you are working in the present.  When you say "we are back together for today but for how long, only God knows" that seems to be a pretty healthy way to look at it.  I suspect that you are working from the standpoint of thinking that you are in a "relationship" rather than a "marriage" and that is good - it encourages people to set and maintain boundaries, I think - very healthy.

On the other hand, please be careful not to get sucked into a situation which is meaningless for you as a person.  You need to make sure that you are happy enough, not just surviving for the sake of your kids.  Perhaps a good goal would be to BOTH take time to see the beautiful side of life AND make sure your standards for how you spend your days are high.  If you are letting bad feelings fester inside, under a veneer of relaxing, then ultimately it will catch up with you.  You'll be able to tell the difference if you think about it.  (I "put on a good face" for a while in my marriage, but that didn't last...later I actually changed how I approached my life and that DID work.)  Make sure that your goal is your happiness (whatever that entails, which may well include creating a stable home for your kids) NOT staying married

Keep us apprised of your progress, if you will, because I think lots of readers can learn from your experience.


Re:to Melissa

Thanks Melissa for the post. I couldn't agree with you more. Sad to say that as of this moment my husband and now are seperated.

Things are not getting better and I'am tired of the drinking and dirty looks and desrespect. We both felt this was healthier for our children as well.

My husband threatened me with a lawyer but I suggested to seperate for now since we cannot afford a lawyer. We are meeting with a crisis counselor who will help us draw up the papers legally so if we do get divorced then we have half the work done. I Think it will take a miracle for us to remain married. I tried really and at times he did too. However when you do damaging things as I wrote previously and on top of that other devastating things I really understand the lack of good judgement in him. I know that there are many people on this forum who are hurting on both sides who are seeking answers. Mental illness is not easy to understand cope with. I have a little experience with it because my mother suffered with post tramatic stress from WW2 she was from Europe. So I saw the effects as a child, which I think has given me more understanding but living with it is another story. life's journey is not always smooth but having a healthy attitude, good boundaries  and loving kindness will help. Don't expect to shape or even always understand mental illness, that can make you unhealthy. Just except it and know what you are dealing with. Life is a gift from God and we are all gifts.I'am still drinking my tea and enjoying nature. thanks for reading.


It's great that your husband will see a doc.  Meds may well help with impulse control, which will help him hold his tongue a bit, but meds don't work alone...he also has to make a commitment to make behavioral changes.  For you, it sounds as if he needs to learn how to own his mistakes and apologize for them (a counsellor may be able to help with this, as might a couples communications course).  This might also be a good time to open the communications between the two of you a bit more (your reference to being able to talk even in the fighting is a good sign).  If you haven't before, you can tell him how hard it is for you to feel that you must always be the peacemaker, etc.

Also, see my recent post about setting boundaries.  It's a bit theoretical, but it may help you.  It sounds to me as if one of your boundaries needs to be an ability to express your feelings - and have them recognized as legitimate - by your husband.

I think it is safe to say that not very many ADD men are good at anticipating what their spouse wants of them, and many aren't that good at doing a chore to make their wife happy (even after medication).  My husband finally made that leap, but it was only after our relationship had gotten back to a happy place - in other words after there were no power struggles going on and after he was feeling loving towards me again.  Before that he simply wasn't feeling expansive enough towards me to make the effort.  I'm not sure that this is ADD-specific.  When we feel badly, we act badly.

As for "standing up for yourself", try to see if it helps to think of it as "doing things that make me happy" vs. "doing things that make me right".  In other words, sometimes the best policy IS to back down, ignore something, or accept it.  But NOT if that comes at the expense of who you are as a person or living and overall (reasonably) happy life.

Today, My partner had

Today, My partner had scheduled to help another friend take something apart at my house that needed to be removed. It was his idea months ago to get rid of this equipment, and it is the right thing to do. The time to do this has been changed three times - ok. 20 minutes before it was the agreed upon time, he called to tell me they were not doing it today because he had work men supposed to be at his house in a particular time frame, and they had not arrived yet. He didn't want to keep the other guy waiting for him. Well, actually, he decided to go the the gym for three hours, the workmen had already let themselves in and finished at his house, and it wasn't even time for the two to do the work at my house. His response was I told him it didn't matter and it could be done tomorrow or the next day. There is no point in getting angry at him because it would be like expecting a duck to become an elephant. This will never get better. What a waste. How does he survive? i can't do it anymore.

When DO you leave?

I can only take so much abuse, neglect and yelling.  I recently read in one of Dr H's books not to let ADD end your marriage...let something else.  So?  How can this work with one person so focused on himself, who "forgets" to take his meds even though he admits he doesn't like the way he feels now while not on them, who only thinks of himself and his immediate needs?  How?  How can this work?

RE: When DO you leave?

This is a really good question in general, but especially for me at this moment.  My husband and I have been married for 14 years, and were together for almost 5 years before that.  We now have 2 children, both on the Autism Spectrum and with ADHD as well.  Most days, I feel like the mother of 3 special needs children, my ADHD and clinically depressed husband being my 3rd.  I feel like all I do is take care of others and their needs.  I work both outside the home and inside the home, but I never feel like I make any headway on the mess that is my house and my life.  I feel like I used to be an organized, smart woman who had a handle on and a solution to everything.  Now, I am just scatter-brained and chasing after appointments and medications.  My husband has been diagnosed with depression for almost  4 years now, and with ADHD for almost a year.  He tries, to some degree, but there are days he doesn't even take his medications.  What does that say?  How important is it to him to really change or help himself if he cannot even get out of bed every day and remember to take his medications?  He sleeps all the time and I just get so frustrated.  I understand, in my head, what the symptoms and issues are with ADHD.  That doesn't mean that my heart doesn't feel cheated and lonely and disrespected.  Three years ago, I found out my husband was having an affair, a real one.  Then, consequently, I found out he had been having online affairs for almost 3 years before that.  I have tried to help, we've been to counseling (he is seeing an individual counselor and we have a marriage counselor as well), I have helped him find good doctors and psychiatrists for his medications management and other physical symptoms, and all I feel like is that I have led a horse to water, but it still will not drink!  I guess through all of this, I love him and do not want to take my children's father away from them.  However, when is enough enough?  When do you have to just give in and let them destroy themselves and not everyone else around them?  I feel like he is not a good role model for my sensitive children who desperately NEED a good role model with their own issues.  I am at a loss.  I guess it is true that sometimes love it not enough.  I am out of answers at this point, as I feel I have exhausted them all.  


I emphathize!

As I go through all of these stories I can relate as well. I have been married for a year with a guy who has ADD. I found out when we were engaged. I called off the wedding originally when he kept racking up speeding ticket after speedng ticket and even after I kept warning him. I found out he had debts from his past that he just decided to ignore and just a bunch of irresponsible things. So I found out it was ADD and that he said he'd get help for it along with Strattera medication. We have seen a counselor for 2 of the three years I have known him and yet i see not all the problems have not gone away. I read Hallowell's book and he suggests that trying several medications often occurs before finding the right one. Well my husband is working just a temp job after losing his last one and is now looking for permanant work for 9 months now. He has been on several interviews but no bites. I attributed it to he's not the best at expressing himself. Also, he was told recently he would have gotten a job if he had passed his reading comprehension test. To me this says he has problems retaining information which i had already figured. Because i told myself if i have to show him how to use spell check one more time on the computer I'm going to lose it. His retention for new information is not good amongst other commom characteristics to ADD. Not to be mean but how did he make it in this world before me? Is the question I always ask myself. I have to take careof everything academically if i want it done and done right. I also understand the blogs on lowering your expectations if you want to live with that person. And don't even get me started on respecting him. How can I respect him when he get very little done and done correctly. I also pity him because there is nothing he is good at. I feel like he fails at everything! I can't imagine going through life like that. And to top it off he doesn't even know how he is or how his ADD affects anyone. I just know he's on Strattera because it helps him sleep and thats it. And yes Strattera has helped some but if I want my husband to get a job he's going to need some serious medication so he can retain information in his brain to keep a job! I'm frustrated b/c the doctor that prescribed his medication tells me he doesn't need anything stronger! hello! You don't live with him day to day to see the stuff he just doesn't "get". its not normal!And yet the doctor never asked me and won't speak to me...which i think is wrong! My question to anyone out there is if I dragged my husband in (and the doctor agrees) to try another medication like ritalin or Adderall, will it help with his retention?? I need a husband who can keep a job because i can't raise him like a teen the rest of my life.

I left.

I was with a man with ADHD for three years. It was a classic textbook ADHD relationship: The hyperactivity romancing, followed by me noticing he needed some help "organizing" (that's my bag so it wasn't a big deal), then some drinking and financial issues ... I fell in love with his children, though, and thought that as long as he was working at it, we could make a go of it. When his temper got really bad and I felt I'd become a bit of a housemaid, I left and moved away.

We did the long-distance thing for a bit and then he lost his job (surprise), and he proposed and promised to do better: make a budget and stick to it, work on his anger management, etc. For a few months he lived with me for free while I helped him job search. I knew it would be a big transition, and felt sorry for uprooting the kids, but I worried for their financial safety and really loved all of them.

When they moved here, my fiance became a bit more than moody. All of the sudden (on top of his children struggling with the transition), I was a "bitch" and a "slut." He would yell at me in front of his kids, and once even threatened to kick me out of my own home because I told him he needed to put his kids to bed at 1 a.m. so I could sleep. He struggled harder and harder to gain control of me: if I told him I needed some space, he'd tell me he couldn't hear that because he had abandonment issues. He sure did: once, when I wanted to go home before him and he stayed out late drinking, he came home to find the doors locked (duh: I'm a woman, home alone, and lock the doors when I go to bed. He had a key). He decided to teach me a "lesson" by crawling through the attic from the garage to where the attic ended in my bedroom closet. I guess he thought he'd jump out and scare me -- of course he got stuck in the attic, which just made him angrier. When he finally got out, he ran around to the back of the house, pounded on my bedroom door, and screamed that I was a bitch. He scared the heck out of me--I asked why he didn't just call or ring the doorbell if he was locked out. Oh, because he has ADHD.

It got worse. His daughter went off of her Xanax and threw constant tantrums about going to her new school. My fiance started overdrinking, and for awhile there, so did I. After a New Year's Eve altercation, I told him it wasn't going to work out. He played the blame card and said it was my fault for making everyone move to where I had a job (it wasn't my fault he didn't have one, and I helped him land his new one). We went to couples counseling, where he worried about how I could help him more. He didn't want to hear the advice about helping me blend the family and working with our budget and household chores. That was all just too difficult to concentrate on, with his ADHD.

After awhile I didn't feel like me anymore. I just lived to serve, afraid to make anyone angry. I lived in a filthy house, was yelled at if I didn't clean it right, if my dogs made a mess, if I washed the dishes too loudly or spoke too loudly while he was watching television ... once he locked me out of my bedroom because he said I was walking too loudly to use the restroom. And he'd threaten to sue me if I suggested it was time to move on.

After a year of it, I gave up and told him to do whatever he wanted to me; I didn't care. He wasn't paying his bills, was putting pressure on me to pay for more than I could afford (especially after helping him to support his family while he job searched), and had no empathy for my role in the family. His ex-wife would call and scream if I asked the kids to help me load the dishwasher. Finally, I slapped a restraining order against him and called off the engagement.

I'm still reeling from the whirlwind that was that relationship. What had happened to my sweet-natured fiance? Oh, he had ADHD, so I should have been more sympathetic. I was: I read EVERYTHING on ADHD, stepparenting, dealing with ex-wives, counseling ... until I realized that no one was doing much to help me, too. 

Take care of yourself before you take care of others. I'm still deeply saddened and am going into my own counseling just so I can understand why I put myself through so much. I know my fiance has love in him, but he had no willingness to change, just to bully and intimidate, at the end. I'm glad to be out of it.

Wow, totally related to me in

Wow, totally related to me in many ways. What a whirlwind! I'm glad you got out. These things definitely take their toll on us. Good luck sorting through it with your counselor. 

Great advice too. We really do need to put ourselves first most times. 

Exactly how I feel!

This is exactly how I feel!

I've been working my butt off bending over backwards, side wards and every which way wards for my relationship. I don't even know who I am anymore and it kills me to say that. I feel like I've been a slave to my relationship, but since when does a slave volunteer to be a slave and be treated like crap? Unless you're into BDSM, but that's a different story hahaha. I have done everything I can... EVERYTHING! I don't have anything more to give. I'm drained. He won't get help. He knows he needs it, he admits it every day but refuses to do it. He will just come up with excuse after excuse and if I push, he will explode. All of the things the women in the aforementioned comments have suffered through are so similar to my own story. The sad thing is that I don't want to leave but...... (there is always a but).... I can't let myself be unhappy anymore. It's time to take my life into my own hands. Our kids deserve more and it kills me to watch them as they see their father's behavior towards me and to them. That is where the line is drawn for me. But in the back of my mind all I can hear is, "but he can't control it, he has ADHD and you should be understanding and stick through it". Well NO! Not this time! It's not just my head, people say this too but they don't live with him.... they have no idea. I have done absolutely everything.

I just want to express my gratitude for this post. This is the truth that I live and It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. I hope life has lead you to happiness.