Comments on the book so far (from female with ADHD)

Hi there,

Just wanted to say hi and to pass on some comments regards the book The ADHD Effect on Marriage. 

I'm about halfway through so far (up to the chapter on empathy). 

As a female aged 52, diagnosed with ADHD three years ago, I have to say the book is interesting reading and I am nodding my head as I recognize similar patterns in my marriage to those in the book. It is really helpful for me to understand my ADHD and how this affects my partner (as well as myself).  Apart from medication (Ritalin) I have to say I've not been offered much else in the way of management.  I plan to book an appointment with my doctor to discuss this further.

I am a firm believer that for every problem there is a solution or at least strategies that can be tried to get the best out of a situation. 

One thing I am finding though is that many of the ADHD male behaviours that are described in the book and the forum seem somewhat similar to traits of non ADHD men.  Not wanting to generalize, of course, but I believe women are usually more in touch with their emotions than men and often more able to discuss things than men.  This seems particularly relevant to the comments in the book about being ignored "after the honeymoon is over".  Then again, maybe my husband's coolness was in response to my undiagnosed ADHD.  The forum and book also seem to deal more with non ADHD wives dealing with their ADHD husbands.  This makes it a bit harder for me as a wife with ADHD to relate to some of the ADHD issues discussed, as they are quite male gender related, i.e. traditional stereotypical roles (being a reliable breadwinner for instance).

Another thing worth mentioning is that being diagnosed with ADHD later in life has definitely come as a shock and was the last thing I expected.  This has made it difficult for me to be certain about the diagnosis. My doctor assessed me as having ADHD first with a computer questionnaire and then by having me undergo a SPECT scan.  The scan results came back showing four deviations from normal, supporting a diagnosis of ADHD.  I have also asked my doctor on a number of occasions if he is absolutely sure about the diagnosis.  I just thought this was the way I was, a bit quirky, perhaps.  My husband does not believe I have ADHD or that ADHD is a condition that even exists.  I think he and our sons think it is just a label people use to excuse laziness or bad behaviour.  I have asked my husband to visit the doctor with me to discuss this but he does not want to go.  He feels the same way about counselling.  I've gone to counsellors over the years to sort out difficulties on my own (both before and after my diagnosis of ADHD).  That has helped a little but I find it difficult to work on the marriage without my partner being willing to be involved in any therapeutic process. 

The more I read about ADHD though the more I believe the diagnosis may be true, i.e. I have always been disorganized, I found schoolwork easy but got my work done quickly and then mucked about. I've always had lots of ideas going on at once.  I find it hard to be decisive as I can see both sides of an argument (can be accused of being a fence sitter).  When younger I was much more headstrong and opinionated but being married for over 30 years, having having children, etc., has shown me I am definitely not right about everything.  I have a thirst for knowledge, an entrepreneurial spirit and am a bit zany and madcap with an irreverrant sense of humour (some would say a bad case of "foot in mouth disease").  I am very emotional and find it difficult not to cry when having the same old "heated" discussions, that never seem to reach any resolution.  It is now just easier to keep my thoughts to myself and try do what is expected of me.  But no matter how I try, I cannot hold things in forever and out they come, which means another "discussion" that goes nowhere good.  I also tend to embarrass my family - by saying things they wished I wouldn't, or by laughing too loud, drawing attention to myself (and to THEM!).  I do try to control this and promise myself I will be careful what I say when out visiting.  But you can probably guess how that goes....!

Anyway, still have a way to go with the book but thought I'd say hi and see if there were any other females with ADHD or husbands of wives with ADHD who may wish to share their thoughts.

There are definitely some ADHD wives around here

and I hope you can share your experiences together.  There is definitely more nonADD wives here than any other demographic and I think that both has to do with the fact that men are diagnosed more (I am not convinced they actually HAVE ADD more, but it seems they are the ones who exhibit the symptoms in a way that gets diagnosed) and also Melissa has posted several times to this question that women just tend to go looking for help more on forums and the like, so at the end of the day this forum anyway has a lot more nonADD wives, but there are ADD husbands, and ADD wives here too.

My ADD husband and I really enjoyed the book and definitely recognized some of the behaviors in our marriage (on both sides) in the pages.  There is another highly recommended book for this dynamic that seems to get a lot of support from the ADD community called "Is it You, Me, Or Adult ADD?" by Gina Pera but again she is the non ADD wife writing about the experiences in their marriage of having a nonADD and ADD mate living together and sharing a life.  I haven't yet read this one but it is on my list.

I have read many theories that say that it is easier for an ADD man to get the help he needs and then succeed in traditional male roles than it is for an ADD woman.  This seems to have something to do with the addage "a woman's work is never done".   Things that just have to be done again and aren't ever *complete* (dishes, making beds, cooking dinner, etc) seem to be the areas where my husband struggles the most.  He likes to check things off the list and feel a sense of accomplishment that it is *done and over* which is something that seldom happens with regard to the work women more traditionally take care of at home regardless of whether or not she is also working outside the home.

I just want to give you some hope that there are some really happy ADD/nonADD mate couples around here....we just don't often post as much because we are busy with life and doing happy couple things :)


Best wishes to you!  I think once someone acknowledges any problem they have and works to improve it, life will improve exponentially for everyone in a family!

Acknowledging ADD is the first step

Hi Aspen,

So good that you and your husband enjoyed the book.  Thanks also for letting me know about Gina Pera's book.  I've had a look at it on Amazon and read excerpts using the "Look Inside" feature.  It has some really good information on recognizing the traits of ADD in adults and helps answer some of the puzzling things about it, how come I can do some things really well yet have ADD?  The examples on inattention, impulsivity are spot on!  I can so relate to those!

I agree wholeheartedly that "a woman's work is never done", especially in today's world where most women work outside the home as well as in it.  If only those repetitive chores you mention would stay done....but that's truly wishful thinking. LOL!  I have a home office and find it impossible at times - my husband and grown up sons work different shifts (night, early morning and afternoon - so lots of broken sleep).  There is no such thing as cleaning the house in the morning and having it stay that way all day - there always seems to be someone in the kitchen or the bathroom making a fresh mess.

Reading Melissa's book has allowed me to start thinking in a new way, starting with managing my ADD.  Apart from being prescribed Ritalin I've pretty much been floundering along - without a plan.  As you say, without acknowledgement of a problem, there is little chance of effecting a change.  Believing the diagnosis is also key and is something my husband and I have both struggled with.  We seem to have been stuck at this point - me being confused as to whether I could really have ADD (being diagnosed at 49) and he struggling to accept that ADD exists, let alone me having it.  No wonder we've made little progress at all since my diagnosis three years ago.

My husband has agreed to listen the audio version of Melissa's book, which is a huge breakthrough.  I'm hoping this will help him to understand what ADD is all about, how it affects my behaviour (and his behaviour in response to mine) and how that has affected our relationship.  I've already listened to the audio version and understand now that my job is to learn how to manage the condition by finding new (effective) ways of doing things.  I plan to relisten to the audio version on my ipod while doing chores for extra reinforcement.

It's so encouraging to hear that there are some really happy ADD/nonADD couples.  Hope and inspiration are so important.  Especially after 30+ years of marriage fraught with good intentions but much hurt and many misunderstandings due to lack of diagnosis and knowledge about ADD.

Again, thanks Aspen for taking the time to reply.  I really appreciate it.


I feel ya.

Hi juvee-

Good to hear from another female ADDer!  I've been on meds since I was nine (diagnosed informally when I was 5), and had to see psychs on and off (in order to get the prescriptions) as a kid but still feel I never really addressed the behavioral issues.  Now I'm in a really rocky bit of a 3.5-year relationship.... the worst part is we started talking about marriage during one of the "high" points of the relationship last August or September and I'm pretty sure he is going to want to propose next month during our dream beach vacation - tickets all booked and everything.  

Adding to this that my S.O. has an incredible need to be in control and a need for consistency as well as inability to accept change, or behavior that's different from the way he expects people to behave, and that so far he's refused (whether actively refused or simply not taken action, I don't know) ... as far as I see it .... to look into how my ADD behaviors are the root of a lot of our issues.  I'm ready to book into a therapy session ASAP. 

I can't commit to the rest of my life with this man, having "good" periods of a few months then crying twice a week for 2-3 weeks when I slip and/or he's stressed and he constantly gets disappointed at everything, and starts expressing it all to me and I let myself feel like an utter failure for having let him down.  I don't feel he cherishes me - I just feel like a burden because even when I try to do "his" things in "his" way, he didn't want me to do it his way that time.  Example: last week he got upset because we show excitement about upcoming trips in different ways.  I talk about it with friends (which he doesn't see); he prepares and researches and shows me.  Therefore you can see how he thinks I don't care, because I don't show my preparation in the same way and he doesn't see the ways in which I do express my excitement.  So on Monday I tried to prepare for our upcoming beach/island vacation by researching and making a list of things to do.  Then I asked if he wanted to spend some time together talking about these plans. (another problem he has: he plays second fiddle to computer/family/friends/one-time events all the time and I don't spend time with him.) 

I was trying to kill two birds with one stone, and ended up getting killed with two stones... When I showed him this list that I'd spent time compiling, A) he felt guilty that I'd taken time during the work day to do it (which should be MY problem, not his); B) he felt overwhelmed because he didn't actually want to do much sightseeing, rather relaxing and doing nothing (when earlier he said we might do some sightseeing during the first half of the vacation); C) finally he said it's not helpful for him because there were no pictures, so he couldn't visualize any of these places or activities.  I took the time to read summaries of every tourist site on three websites and make quick comments (waterfall; ziplining; colorful temples; volcanic crater with hiking and lakes) -- and he tells me it's no good because there are no PICTURES?  Who has the problem here?!  And about the wasting my work time - that happens every single day somehow or other - it just happened that on Monday I devoted my distracted-time to the vacation instead of Wikipedia tangents or xkcd or Angry Birds.  How does he want me to show I care if he can't accept the results of my "caring"?

Sorry, I digress...

Add to my SO's control-of-life issues the fact that we're living in West Africa, a 5-hour time difference from the East Coast - I would have loved to book in to the couples phone sessions but we surely couldn't be expected to start the session at 1:30am our time!  

My family is telling me he's not worth the strain any more and that my emotions are telling me something, too, from crying ALL THE TIME.  I don't know... because everything he has problems with seems to be based on one ADD symptom or other.  I want him to open his eyes to it.  And I want to see from a trained outside perspective what is reasonable, for both of us.  When we have these arguments, everything he says sounds reasonable and I beat myself up over it.  I've stopped defending myself against what he says because it only infuriates him more.  And heck, a lot of the time he does have a point.  


But I can't put up with it in this way for the rest of my life.  I don't deserve that.


All that to say... welcome, and I hope we can keep talking as WADDs (just made that one up but I think it's self-explanatory!)  I tend to be very inconsistent about visiting here, but hope I can keep up this time.  

And if not.... guess I just keep trying next time.

Listen to your intuition

I wish I could have see things as clearly as you do before I married a controlling man.  20 years later we are getting divorced.  Listen to your intuition.

summerwine's picture

I used to be a ADHD wife but

I used to be a ADHD wife but I am a divorced single mom with ADHD now.  I am slowly trying to build a relationship with a new man. I think the ADHD can kind of make the usual problems worse like magnify them. So you see nonADHD wives complain about things that all wives complain about but its just worse than usual. If that makes sense. Apparently ADHD hits women harder because we are so expected to be all the things that ADHD impairs: organized and multitasking and neat and good at communication and all that. But men don't put up with our crap the way women put up with their husbands and women put up with a lots more abuse. So you see more ADHD women with depression and anxiety and eating disorders than ADHD men. We suffer in silence and accept the abuse because we think we deserve it. There are two good books for ADHD women that I read:

Understanding Women with AD/HD by Kathleen Nadeau & Patricia Quinn

Women with Attention Deficit Disorder by Sari Solden



Not "believing" in ADHD

Your husband's response to reject the diagnosis of ADHD is, unfortunately, familiar.  Non-ADHD spouses sometimes believe that an ADHD spouse will use ADHD as an "excuse" for why they can't do things differently.  If fact, it's just the opposite.  Once you know you have ADHD you can then take steps that make sense to change those parts of your life that you wish to change because with the diagnosis you now know better ways to do so.  My advice to you - don't worry about what he thinks about ADHD - continue on the path that you wish to follow to improve your life in whatever ways led you to getting the diagnosis in the first place.

Glad you're here.