Confronted my wife (non-ADHD partner) about her infidelity...

I had know about it, in a manner of speaking, for not that long...and only suspected for about 5 months, and so finally worked up the nerve to confront her, as I felt that she might just up and leave. 

But I did confront her, last night; I soft-pedaled, and didn't lose my temper.  I'm paraphrasing, but I said that there were a number of events that I had noticed over the last few months, and I'd gotten very concerned, and looked into a few things, and I wanted the truth - when did her emotional affair with him turn physical? And she stumbled a bit, said she's suspected that I was reading her emails, and then admitted it.

(Please keep in mind that they have known each other as actual friends for years, that I'd never been jealous of him before, and that he lives far enough away that the don't see each other more than once or twice a year.)

But here's what's got me - no apology. Instead, what I get is a 'I should be able to have sex with my friends' and a 'I'm sorry you found out' and a 'I felt so disconnected to you that your feelings didn't matter'.

Wow. Not a nasty discussion, not a heated discussion, but pretty bad, I think.

I had really just one follow up question - because we know we're having trouble, and one of the things we've lost over the years is that deep emotional connection, and we both have said that we want that back. So I say to her: I want to have that deep emotional connection with you, because I still love you, but I need to know: do you want to have that deep emotional connection with me?

I get two responses: "I don't know" and "I don't think it can come back"

This sounds like it's over, right? I shouldn't pretend?

PS - we have 2 girls, ages 8 & 12

PPS - yes, I do have ADHD, it's pretty mild (20 mg/adderall/daily) and I'm seeing a psych about it, and taking responsibility, but I know that there's a lot of hurt in the past.  We've been married 17 years, both 41.


I am sorry for what you are going through...

I found out about my ADD at age 43 and after just over 2 years things are improving around my house, after 2 years of Extreme Roller Coaster. We have been married 16 years and have daughters ages 9 and 14. I take 50 mg/Adderall per day and have been studying ADD since I found out I had it.

The emotional disconnect is terrible and we had this years before my diagnosis and still seem to be working on it. An affair is something I don't know how I would deal with. To me it seems to be an action taken to force a split. I also see the desperate need for an emotional connection with someone. You both would have to want to repair the relationship and she would have to go cold turkey on the friend, so you guys could focus on your marriage. (IMO) Ending a marriage is such sickening thought to me because of all of the collateral damages, which is probably why we had the patience to work though these last two years. If there had not been children in our story, I don't think we would made it. I hope things improve for you and I would not take too much stock in your wife's initial answers to you. I know what kind of over-load/anxiety would affect my answers to questions like you asked. Maybe a little time to process the situation will help you and your wife.

Keep us posted and hang in there...


Really sorry that this is happening to you.

Arkyn: I really felt moved to respond to you. I’m a non-ADHD spouse. My husband has been diagnosed and has been on meds for over 3 years. We’ve been married just under seven. First, I’m so sorry that this I happening to you. I’m sure you are in a great deal of pain and it’s just so sad to see a marriage heading in this direction with children involved. Your story moved me to tears. Though I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, I share the same story as your wife. Although I never had a full out affair, I did things while married there were not appropriate and extremely hurtful to my husband (once he found out) and to our marriage. I don’t know if my husbands ADHD is mild or severe. He takes 30mgs of Adderall XR each day along with 5mg’s of Cilexa. That said, he is a computer addict and his mind and body have to be stimulated at all times. He cannot sit and wait for our meal at a restaurant without playing on his phone. He cannot sit in a car on a 3 mile drive to my mom’s without being on his phone. His mind needs to be constantly occupied…but there is a hitch. It HAS to be occupied with things that interest him. If I’m talking and he simply isn’t interested, I get tuned out and shut down. Tuned out and shut down over and over and over until I’m so emotionally disconnected that the only bond I share is the fact that he’s the father of my child and the man that I was once very much in love with. I have HAD to emotionally detach from him to such a degree because being in love with someone who pays you so little attention, gives so little concern for your happiness, needs, wants, aspirations….well, it’s simply heartbreaking. So, detaching was the way that I felt that I could stay in the marriage (for our child) and still be able to keep my sanity, dignity and self worth. Believe me, I know he does not “mean” to do any of these things intentionally. I get it. He has ADHD, it’s the package deal. But whether he means to do these things becomes muddied when he’s forgotten your anniversary for the 6th time or your birthday for the 5th and sex is non existant and you can’t remember the last time he asked you how your day was and then actually waited for you to respond or even listed to what you had to say. I’m not saying this is how YOU act but I’m trying to explain to you where I was at when I became a walk away wife and so emotionally detached that I clung to another man for dear life. He listened to me, cared about my day and my dreams. He would talk over mundane things with me while I tried to figure out what kind of landscaping I wanted in the front of my house. Our talks and time together was from the mundane to the very intimate (never physical but very intimate non the less). I know how wrong this was and knew it at the moment too but I just couldn’t break free. I had missed this for so long and I simply couldn’t resist my need to be intimate with a man. But there was never a moment that I didn’t know it was wrong. Long story short, I did leave my husband for 3 months and then went back to him. The reason I am still with him today is because I can’t bear for my daughter to grow up in a divorced family. I still get very little from him, our world still revolves around him. To help me deal I’m seeking help from 12 step programs as I am co-dependent and need help trying to break free but still stay put, help not to save him at the expense of losing myself, etc. I don’t know if any of this helped you or anything but I just wanted to weigh in and tell you that it’s possible for you both to pull this out of the dumper. We have been seeing an ADHD coach as a marital therapist. She is what I like to think of as my interperiter. She is able to help me understand his actions in a context of the ADHD brain and she tell him my feelings in a way that don’t have him defensive and lashing out at me. I’d love to tell you that there will be a happy fairytale ending for us but… be perfectly honest, he is not willing to do what really needs to be done to provide me the support I feel I need in a healthy relationship. It’s not that he doesn’t want to. He just feels it’s too much work. That statement in itself is so hurtful when I hear it…cuz…this is how I hear it….”You just aren’t worth the effort”. I pray that you both find peace either in or out of this relationship and most importantly, do what is ultimately best for your children. Take good care of yourself and remember, you have worth and also deserve to be happy Gina B

This is my life!

It gave me chills to read this post.  It is everything I feel put into words.  I have never had an affair and to the poster I am sorry this is happening to you.  I do understand it though completely.  As a SAHM my only real social interactions are with my 2 and 4 year old.  My 4 year old is like my husband so I guess it's really just the 2 year old which is fine BUT we all need a little TLC from an adult preferably your husband but sometimes that is not always the case. I took a pt. time job at night so I could actually get out and socialize with adults only 5-6 hours a week but it helps. At times I wake up and literally can't stand to look at my husband I am so angry and bitter at what little is left for me in this family dynamic. I am pretty sure this is a defense mechanism as we all know anger is a much easier emotion to live with than hurt. I clean, do laundry, errands, feed the kids - everything.  I am the "go to" person for everything even my husbands Dr.'s call me if he is late or does not show because they all know.  Everything rests on my shoulders with the exception of what is important to my husband - cable service for computer and TV, cell phone and the backyard- oh and his friends. His F'ing friends. It is exhausting! When I tell him how lonely I am and how I feel he says "I hear you things will be better"  then within 12 hours he is asking "Can I go out with my friends?"  I'm like are you f'ing kidding me are you 42 or 18 am I your wife or your mom. He actually told me last night, after 7 years of marriage 13 years together and 2 kids, you have to give me my space to do what I want and then I will want to spend more time with you.  Are you kidding me???? Not to mention the fact that I have done this and he just uses it to spend more time out playing and nothing changes then I resent him more so basically 13 years of rage is coming to a boil and he is like "where is this coming from?" "Your perception of reality is off" and of COURSE when the conversation does not go in his favor I get a slew of excuses when those don;t work I get yelled at and then I end up getting exhausted give up and the whole thing starts all over again next week.  I do sometimes think having an affair would be "a solution" in some ways but I can't do it.  My first husband had an affair, we were in college, and it hurt pretty much just as bad so I just can't do that to him.  But I get it, I truly and really do.  I also get the anger.  I sometimes react without thinking now and the things I say cut deep and I also respond what difference does it make you don't care anyway. I have become pretty cold and hearless, not me at all and I hate who I have become!  I wish I had a solution for you, I wish I had a solution for me.  There has to be one though. One way or another things do work out I guess you, we all, just have to figure out how bad we want it to.

Whoa, do I know this! And the

Whoa, do I know this! And the rage you feel, simmering and bubbling... Bursting out with an intensity that can take even you aback? Yup, BTDT. My rage started to subside with a couple of things (and we are talking after years of that anger which finally came to a head. 1) The diagnosis which explained a lot- along with my own reading education, discussion w my spouse (he was as surprised as me- he had no way of knowing I thought differently from him...), then followed by: 2) my own counselng to try to resolve my feelings of low self esteem (and to try to put an end to my doormat mentality, and, 3) finally my realization that IT ALL did not need to be done. Period. Special dispensation to not do laundry every darn night, to not clean all the time, to not do everything but let go of some things. That helps alot! As your kids get older, even better as they assume more responsibilities themselves. Then the other thing was: 4) to allow time for myself- to seek places of warmth from friends since it was not happening at home. Empathy, love that came from by gfs. It helps too.

Seeking places of warmth from friends

That's what was the catalyst for my wife's affair.  Curiously, the why that my ADHD works, I crave physical contact - has to do with the dopamine, though I don't know if iIm not making enough, not getting it to the right spots, or the re-uptake is too fast.  But I know that my wife isn't as touchy-feely as I am, and I try to give her space, but as the other elements of ADHD marriage eroded the feelings of intimacy for her, she wanted my touch less and less - and that only serves to alienate me, and that's what had her calling old friends/flames from years past.  I think that if she'd only had sought advice/counsel from people that we not already attracted to her, we wouldn't have infidelity in addition to the erosion of intimacy/friendship in our marriage.

I've told her that since she's been friends with this guy for some 20 years, that's she welcome to continue speaking - but that I couldn't withstand an ongoing physical relationship.  I feel pretty safe, because he lives some 1000 miles away, where she grew up.  I imagine I'd feel very differently if he were a few blocks away.

Anyway, I recognize that my role in the deterioration of the relationship is part of the conditions that led to her affair.  But it's certainly making it very difficult for me to want to put my all into re-claiming the relationship.  I have to keep telling myself that I love her, and that it can work again like the magic it once was.  But I'm sleeping in the guest room, and haven't had any physical contact in almost 2 weeks - not a hug, not anything.  It's not that I don't want it, it's that she wants to recover the friendship before anything else.  And while that makes sense, esp. for her, having real difficulty feeling ultimately rejected, yet being asked to be friends.  I've never been a doormat, and wouldn't know how to start.


So that all didn't make much sense.  But while I've seen the rage and anger first hand, and think it's good to get counseling individually (something my wife refuses to do), if the crux of the problem is recovering friendship, how does one handle bad friends?

To me, it seems to be a

To me, it seems to be a difference in definition of intimacy.  I know my husband equates it to physical intimacy touching kissing etc.  I, however, do not.  To me intimacy is with the heart and mind.  Once you have that the rest will follow.  There are some days, too many I hate to admit, that he tries to hug me or kiss me and my entire body freezes and I can't wait for the moment to end.  How can you be physical with someone you are so angry with?  Who makes you feel unloved, unwanted. It is frustrating.  I am in counseling, have been for over 1 year and on antidepressants I've done it all.  Once I started my husband stopped.  He thought "It's okay now that she is on meds problem solved"  This was before we realized he had ADHD needless to say the problem was not solved and this progressively got worse only I was in a better place to see it.  I had a better understanding. I realized after many years it was not all me, some, but not all as originally thought. He is now on a meds. and WHOA what a difference. BUT still having to heal the past takes time.  Sorry to say but even though it is "the past" it is still there and old habits die hard as they say.  I always get "It's the past, move on" and the INFURIATES me even more.  You can't heal and move forward overnight. It takes time, work etc.  I think I may be feeling similar to what your wife is feeling.  I am not sure but I feel like I get where she might be coming from.  I do applaud you for all your efforts. In that respect she is very lucky.  I wish I could offer more answers but I feel like I am still in the "toddler" phase.  I guess it is just some things to think about anyway.

Something to think about

Agree, things to think about.  I know on some levels that any good thing takes time.  At least I'm not telling her to ''just get over it' - I can see how that would be maddening...  and yes, the reason that I don't initiate contact, and that I moved to the spare bedroom is that she's clearly still mad about the past under ADHD; I am pretty good, I think, about both admitting my failings, and owning the problem.  But I just don't see emotional and physical intimacy in the context of a marriage as components that can be separated.  It may be that your husband feels in a similar way.  I realize now that part of the way I see tasks/goals/situations - as indivisible - has something to do with the ADHD.  But that doesn't make it go away, and when the assessment of the situation is intrinsically linked to emotions, it becomes even more difficult to manage.  So my wife says that she wants emotional intimacy before physical, I believe her, and understand her.  I believe that I'm trying to do that.  But on a personal level, I don't think that emotional intimacy can exist between a husband and wife without physical intimacy (provided that it's possible, everyone's healthy and all that).




Wow that is interesting!!  I

Wow that is interesting!!  I never realized that someone could not separate the 2 forms of intimacy that makes a lot of sense. This anger thing we all (non-ADHDer's) have has it's own entity.  It's almost like a drug.  We feel like we need it to survive because of we don't then we might have real feelings and anger is SO much easier. It's is scary to let that guard down again when there have been so many disappointments and frustrations in the past. What's to guarantee there won't be another set right around the corner?  I think she loves you and she is pushing you away because of- 1. fear 2. if you leave you will validate how she has been feeling. That's how I would feel.  I would give so much for my husband to take responsibilities for his part.  My dream is for him to walk through the door one day and say "I am SO sorry for everything, I totally get it now. Thank you for helping me and putting up with me." and actually mean it! I know I have a roll and I take responsibility for it daily, I do get that, but it takes 2!

Good question

I have to say that I wept as I read a few of the ADHD books - just realizing that so much of the pain I'd thoughtlessly inflicted could have been avoided or at least moderated by even just the sheer fact of knowing that ADHD was a brain-chemical issue.  I take small doses of an amphetamine, and that makes a huge difference in my ability to focus...  I've always been great at planning - but the follow-through that was never there is now somewhat in effect.  I did, both verbally, and in writing, apologize for the past.  We've talked, but I am not really closer to understanding how or why she feels; she's not the communicative partner - that's me again.  Regardless, given the two choices 1) fear that more disappointments forthcoming, or 2) leaving would validate her feelings, I hope to God it's 1).  Driving away someone who you used to love in order to make yourself feel better seems very wrong to me.  On the other hand, we all know that perfection is impossible, so there _are_ more disappointments coming.  There's no way around it - I'm not perfect, and I will make mistakes.  So choice 1) seems like it's self-fulfilling.  I'll speculate:   She drives me away because she knows that I'm going to anger her in the future, and she's still so angry about the past that she can't accept that possibility.  When I give up, she's vindicated.  That would be a 'win/win' - if in fact the game were played that way.  But it's either we win as a family or lose as a broken family.

I've gained some new insights from these last few posts; thank you.

I will try to make up a card or something and write what you have there - 'Thank you for helping me and putting up with me' - I think that's a strong statement that aptly contains how I feel sometimes. 

Oops, sorry I did not explain

Oops, sorry I did not explain #2 correctly.  I did not mean it as a way to feel better more like, I really don't know how to put it, but sometimes we (I) push people away not because I want to feel better because I don't, but out of fear.  Sometimes it is easier.  I do it to my husband I hate to admit.  I don't really understand it fully. Maybe in my mind it would help make sense of everything in some way. IDK  I HATE being in limbo, and fearthe  unknown which has become my life. But that's me, I have my own issues. I hope that makes some sense. 

Well good luck I REALLY sincerely hope things get better in time.  It is really hard for both I know. You are doing awesome!!

Ah, Men and Women...

Keeping in mind that everything and everyone is on a continuum....  In several of the 14,362 books on improving marriage I have read, I learned that many men achieve emotional closeness through physical closeness... i.e., physical comes first, and that buoys up the emotional closeness. Yet many (most?) women feel uncomfortable engaging in physical closeness if they feel emotionally disconnected from their mate.      How's that for crappy?   The solution for a "pretty good marriage" is usually that the guys have to sometimes work a little harder to cultivate the emotional connection and forego the physical sometimes.  And women sometimes have to start something, trusting the "mood" won't be far behind.  If I'm not being too obtuse.     With my ADD guy and me, when I find myself too angry or hurt to be in the mood (for me its usually hurt, not angry -- which is probably why I'm still here) I have a pretty firm conversation with myself that if we lose that, too, everything is lost. The last step down the slippery slope.   And I still don't want to lose it!!!  I refuse, absolutely refuse to hold him or our relationship hostage until I get what I deserve! Need!  Require!  Because, mainly?  It does not work.  36 years of does not work.  Now I ask for a walk holding hands, or a movie side-by-side, and I can get back there again.  And this makes both of us feel better and closer.  I understand now that if it is hard for "Mr. Regular Guy" to keep emotional connectedness going, it's even harder --I will never say impossible--for my ADD guy.  But he can, if I take him by the hand.  So to speak.  Sigh.  All this has reminded me we're in sort of a dry spell at the moment.  Arkyn, it's probably way too early, but eventually you may get the right opportunity to ask what specific activity she might like that would bolster the emotional connection.  LOL I almost suggested you think back to the courtship, what kinds of "bonding" you did then that weren't physical, that she seemed to enjoy.  My guy's memory of courtship was that it was summertime, and that's pretty much it.  You the same?  Did you walk and end up getting ice cream?  Drive along the shore?  Browse second-hand book stores?  See what I mean?  ALL marriages let too much of this stuff fall by the wayside with kids, jobs, inlaws, housework, and it's a damn shame.  Add ADD (that looks weird) to the list, and there's not much hanging out in each other's enjoyable company left anymore.  People!! stop it!!  :)  sorry, guess I'm angrier than I thought!

I know you are totally right!

I know you are totally right!  I am trying harder to leave some things but I am also very anal.  Coping mechanism maybe?  A way to keep order in the land of kaos. IDK but that I AM working on it. In the past I felt guilty leaving the kids in fear my husband would "loose focus" and something would happen but I am also getting over that and I am getting out more, still feel guilty, but doing it anyway.  I keep hearing his mom - he works he shouldn't be having to do anything else - which clearly he doesn't.  If I hear that 1 more time I swear to God I will punch her.  She also has undiagnosed ADHD.  She suspected my husband had it but never had him tested.  She couldn't deal with it I guess so in ways I blame her for leaving it all for me. I take care of the kids, house, work PT, take care of all the things that "pop up" Dr.'s appts. my sons therapy and school (he is on the spectrum I'm thinking more like ADHD now than Autism though), all social activities and have an online business. My husband did take over the bills which was painful but a welcome relief because I'm pooped and overwhelmed daily!  I have set up Friday night as date night which is a fail - I plan EVERYTHING he just shows up with his cell phone and sits across from me looking pained and texting. Unless of course he can strike up a conversation with the person next to him or anyone else for that matter.  Lovely evening huh?  At least it's better with the meds.  He actually talked to me last week and responded to what I was saying instead of just interrupting me with a random off topic thought.  Oh well 1 day at a time I guess!


I really appreciate both your

I really appreciate both your responses.  I want to give her the time that she needs to make up her mind... but it's torturous for me.  I am pretty good about paying attention, sitting still (as an aside, would you believe that I do work about one or two nights a month as an Art Model?  yes, I sit or stand still for hours at a time.  Being naked helps, actually, and I spend the time on thinking.  I'd like to say focused thinking, but that is optimistic, though it does happen sometimes.) and being patient, but this decision is so momentous that I can't handle the wait.  It's gnawing at me, like a winter bone.

Yes, I'm crushingly sad about how I just didn't realize how ADHD had affected us all these years, and yes, I've made serious changes, but she says she has no energy to try anything new, and in reading Melissa's book, when she got to the very first 'Rebuild your Relationship' step - "Have Empathy for your Spouse" she said, point blank, "I can't do it.  I have nothing left."

Anyway, we're seeing our Marriage/ADHD counselor tomorrow.


Thank you again for your insights



Painful, but helpful, thread

I thank you for posting your story (which must be intensely painful to you right now) as well as thanks to George for his response.  He is accurate - I did not end my affair after he confronted me about it because I did not have hope that he could meet any of my most important needs at that point.  I was literally desperate to feel good (at all) again at that point and was too angry with him to worry about whether or not it made him feel bad.  It felt good to have someone show you they thought you were special after so many years of struggling unsuccessfully to get attention from my husband.  I give George a HUGE amount of credit for how he hung in there - most would not have done so.

Your therapy sessions may be a good time to simply ask your wife - what can I do better?  What are you missing in our relationship?  Tell her how much you want to hear her genuine opinion, no matter how painful.  Take a pad of paper with you - jot down notes.  DON'T get defensive - you want her to be open with you.

I suspect that what you will hear is some variation on these themes:

  • I feel lonely - we have no real connection - I feel you are never there for me
  • You are unreliable - say you will do something then don't.  I can't trust you'll be there for me.
  • This relationship is at once both "too heavy" with responsibility and "too light" with possibilities - I need a BREAK!
  • I'm no longer attracted to you - you are like another child to me rather than a partner
  • I've been trying to tell you this for a long time and you haven't been listening to me - in fact you never listen to me or seem to understand the depth of my misery
  • You are much more satisfied with the relationship than I am and for the life of me I can't figure out why you find it satisfying or don't do something to improve it
  • I think it's hopeless and am unwilling to put in more work (until you demonstrate there is a reason why I should)  I've put in a ton of work already and it has gotten me nowhere

This is how I felt and it is how many non-ADHD partners feel.  Listen for these themes.  if you hear them, refer to my chapter on what good treatment looks like.  You don't have to continue to have ADHD interfere in your life.

You may or may not be able to salvage this relationship (your wife also has a say in this - obviously) but you don't have to continue on with whatever has been going on in the past.  You, yourself, will be better off addressing what you can no matter what happens to your marriage.  (You must stay in a relationship with your wife since you have kids, so any changes you make will positively impact that, at a minimum.)

Again, thanks for sharing your story with us - I suspect it was hard to reach out that way on this topic.


Melissa, thank you for writing

I am so very sorry that I missed your post; just the way that I saw the responses.  Thank you again for writing.


We started having these discussions in January of this year 2011 - and even before I knew about my ADHD, I was asking those questions, and getting those answers.  That's when I turned to the internet for help, and saw your book all over; I bought two copies.  It was through the joint counseling, (I also go solo, additionally), that I first started to suspect that there was more going on.  A little digging here and there, and I had an answer.  I've gone over the basics already, so I won't rehash, but with the minor addition of her no longer to claim the moral high ground, we have the same situation - She's not attracted to me, she believes that the relationship is not worth more work on her part until she has 'proof' that she should, that we have no real connection, etc.  I think I've made a lot of changes; and so far, I'm successful in convincing myself that I love her.  I can't change the past, and I recognize that with knowledge and consistent treatment & behavior changes, I will be better for it in the future.  But I am no closer to even knowing if my wife cares enough to build a future together, and the lack of short-term measurable goals, the aching loneliness, and the echo of 'I am not attracted to you; I don't want you touching me or looking at me as more than a roommate' has got me feeling like I am at the end of the rope.


But who knows?  Sometimes the rope ends inches above the floor, and sometimes the difference between progress and stasis is a single word.


Again, thank you for responding.

there certainly is hope, but ...


I can only tell you about my experience, and what I did, and how it turned out.  Your mileage may vary.

I am the ADHD spouse, who for many years, without being aware of it, emotionally ignored my wife.  After about 15 years of marriage, she had an affair with a high-school friend.  I suspected it for a while, but then did find proof and confronted her.  I got much the same response as you - that I was not meeting her needs, and that she needed to have them met, and her friend was able to meet them, and so I needed to accept it.  It was not apology, more an accusation of my alleged shortcomings.  For the next several months, whenever she believed I was not living up to her expectations in any number of areas, she actually told me how much more her friend was able to meet those expectations, so why couldn't I?  Pretty bad, eh?

Well, fast forward about six years, and my wife and I are as happy a couple as either of us could ever have imagine.  We were able to put all of this (and much, much more) behind us.  If you want to know how we did it, in some great detail, you can read Melissa's book and her earlier blog posts here, in which she describes (but thankfully not in too great detail, at least for our example), the challenges we faced together, and how we were able to overcome them.  I can say with some certainty that you may not yet fully realize what you have been doing to your wife.  Please see my previous post here for some thoughts, now that I have put a few years between then and now.

Have hope.  However, that hope only has a chance of being realized if you do the very hard work required to live up to your half of the marriage vows.  I don't know your situation, but most people who have ADHD are not nearly as self-aware of their actions and the impacts of those actions on others as they themselves would like to think.  You may wish to more fully explore how badly your actions and inactions have hurt your wife over the years, and how much more you really need to do to change sufficiently for your wife to see you in a positive light again.  I know those words are not ones you want to hear at a time like this, but if you want a rational basis for hope, then I would explore these suggestions.

Actually, those word

Actually, those word literally lifted a weight.  Not all the weight, but some.  I've read the book twice now, and I will go through it again.

Thank you, very sincerely


underscoring my point


I think that the hardest transition to make is fully internalizing how our actions and inactions caused by our ADHD affect those we love.  I don't think that re-reading the book again will get you where you need to be.  I know that I did not believe my wife all those years when she complained about what I did and didn't do.  Her representations of my actions did not reflect my "world-view" of how I acted and how I behaved towards her.  And in order to truly change for the better, you have to have an accurate understanding of what you are and are not doing that has bothered and hurt your wife all these years.  Only after you know what you have to change can you really begin to make the changes you need to make.

You need her help to get to that place of understanding.  Melissa was gracious enough to make that journey with me (and describe it to others).  Without her generous patience I would not have even begun to understand exactly what I was doing that was causing all this pain.  And it will be hard to hear, and sometimes even harder to believe.  I suggest you peruse the forums, especially the overly popular one about "Anger, Frustration & ADHD".  That is one that often gives this site a very bad name amongst other sites geared only to those with ADHD.  It is not pretty.  The stories are gut-wrenching and painful, especially if we see glimpses of our own actions and inactions sprinkled throughout.

So, you need to get her help.  She may not be that anxious to give that too you right now.  From my own experiences, she has probably found a bit of respite and emotional support and is satisfying other desires that she has been unsuccessfully looking for in her relationship with you (I am sorry if that description is painful - I can guarantee is was more than a gut-wrenching experience for me - but you must come to grips with that).  Affairs always start out with lots of excitement and are never encumbered with the daily routines of house and work and children and drudgery.  No baggage has yet been created.  You have an uphill battle against that new excitement. And, all the while, you have to remain gracious and understand and not be bitter and angry and filled with a sense of moral outrage that you were the one wronged.  That, my friend, will not be easy.  At all.  And the slips, when they do happen, are not as pretty as they could be.

So, you will need to engage her when she will not wish to be engaged (she is off to a new adventure, the old one became too painful, and she no longer wishes to be your mother - see that impact of the parent-child relationship)..  It will take time and patience and hope.  It will be painful.  She may wish to continue the affair to hedge her bets and to get her "needs met" while working with you.  You won't like that.  You may have to accept it, if you want it to work out in the long run.

And during all this, you will need to have her explain to you in some great detail how you have hurt her.  You will have to listen and understand, and work to change.  You will likely want some professional help to get you there.  It will not be easy (understatement).  It will be gut-wrenching at times.  It will be worth it if you can get to a place where I am now. soul hurts.  I am soul hurts.  I am grateful that you took the time to write that...I don't know if I have the strength to accomplish such things.

Wow, George!

Melissa is not the only one in your family who can write. I can only hope that someday my husband can get to the point where he can think like that, even if he can't write it. Infidelity is not my issue, but you show so much compassion towards all sides of that dynamic. You and Melissa are very lucky.


You do have the strength to get through what you need to get through... your doubt comes from not knowing exactly what that might require --and whether it will "work".  I have no special advice for you -- others have offered a great message - but I would say that you need to believe, and show your mate you believe, that making the changes is something you are going to do whether or not she can stay the course at this point.  Start walking the talk.  Don't wait for forgiveness, or something less than luke-warm, or for encouragement.  Would it be better if she could offer encouragement?  Of course.  Would it be easier if you knew that working on it would save your marriage?  Yes.  But don't make your progress dependent on those things -- they are outside yourself.  Do it for yourself first, and for your kids, and for the mother of your children, because whatever happens, those bonds don't go away.  And you are worth it to make the effort to "accomplish such things."  You've probably never attempted anything more important.    If George can care enough to talk straight with you -- that's something to start with.  Best wishes and good night.  No more crying for me today!  hug. 

A bit of an update

So we're still in counseling, and while I continue to make steady gains (making small changes, re-enforcing those, building them into my routine, and managing setbacks before making new small changes) I really don't feel like we're getting anywhere...

We go out together more often - a lot more often (2-3x times a week, vs. 1-2x a month for 08, 09, 10, and pre-outed 2011) so that seems to be good, though I often feel like I'm only along to drive her.  We used to go places and do things, where we could talk, and now we go to movies & al. and not talk; the talking that we do following is thin, hollow, and unrevealing.

Further, any attempt that I make at understanding where I can do better by her, and how I can respect her boundaries - or even learn what and where they are - is often treated as an affront.  "How can we make progress if I don't already know where they are." is something that I hear, and I feel like I'm being misunderstood, even when I ask a simple question, or pose a question in the form of a statement.  Real Word Example - this morning, I said, "I could go to class in the evening, instead of the morning", [since we'd already done presents for my 12 y.o. with breakfast].  I learn at lunch, after some prodding on my part (which isn't good, I know, but how am I to know where I'm going wrong if it's secret?) that she's been upset with me for stating that I wanted to skip dinner.  ??  It's like were are trying to translate two different languages into a third.

And then she'll say "I don't think it'll work; I don't think that we can recover a friendship, and i don't see an answer besides sell the house and get a divorce.  I think we should keep trying, but I am pessimistic."

That's a total killer for me...I just don't know how I'm supposed to carry on if she's not interested in the situation improving, if she's not willing to communicate what she wants, where her boundaries are, even if she wants it to work.

I'm afraid that if I make concrete boundaries/goals, per step 5, that it'll be see as an attack, as just another reason that it can't work.

On the plus side, I have no reason to believe that she's continuing her affair, or even really wants to.


That's my update.  Weigh in if you'd like to!





I would like to encourage you

I would like to encourage you to change your focus for a minute. Instead of focusing on 'boundaries' or invisible things, use your next counseling session as a chance to ask some really tough questions. Speaking as a non, to me the most wonderful feeling in the world is to not only have my husband claim the pain he's caused me in the past, but to make real progress that can be seen and felt. If you don't already know, ask your counselor to help the two of you focus on the top 3 issues alone. "if you could change 3 things, what would they be?" Don't assume you know her answers, ask if you haven't already. I just know, speaking for myself, that there ARE 'big' issues that matter a LOT and when they are being addressed and given attention then all of the other stuff really doesn't matter so much.

Also help her understand that progress may be slow, and slip ups will happen, but reassure her that you're trying...everyday. A slip up is NOT an indication that things aren't fixable, NOTHING is perfect and change does not take place overnight for most. It requires a lot of hard work, still making mistakes and learning from them, and steadfast focus on how to prevent it from happening in the future. You deserve her patience. She deserves yours.

One thing I'm trying to remove from the dialogue in my marriage is "I can't" "I'm done" "it isn't going to work" "I want out" "I don't think this is going to work" I am not the only one making these statements. They help maintain a negative inner feeling in each spouse, about the marriage, and make progress almost impossible. Ask her, as one of your requests, for her to take those comments out of her conversations for now. I am beginning to get a real sense of just how destructive the negative thought patterns can be and realizing that they stand in the way of everything.

As for the conversation that took place, I would ask her to start being honest about what she is feeling AT THE TIME SHE IS FEELING it instead of stewing on it and then only mentioning it after prodding by you. This is a classic and HUGE problem for my husband and myself. It happened just days ago and I was terrified it would start a fight if I told him what I was feeling. He knew something was immediately wrong and started asking...and I denied it, poorly. That alone (him knowing I'm upset and me denying it) is just plain insanity and causes just as much damage as the potential of just being honest does. (he knew what he had done, called a few minutes later and admitted to it...which I know was not easy for him) She needs to just be upfront with you "I would really prefer you don't miss dinner" and YOU have the task of responding to that POSITIVELY so that it creates an atmosphere where she's comfortable being honest with you when you say something that affects her feelings. We (nons) are 'programmed' over the years to avoid mentioning how we 'feel' because the immediate response is "here we go again" or "I can't do anything right" or "I can't say anything to you" or my favorite "you will never understand me". It is always turned around to THEM and it is so damaging. Hear her. She was upset that you'd 'volunteer' to miss dinner. She doesn't understand why you'd do that. Explain to her what your thinking was. Tell her you didn't think it through far enough (part of the ADHD) to realize why it might upset her.

I am making a lot of assumptions...I hope some of this applies to your situaiton and might help. I'm sorry you've had to endure the pain of being cheated on. You can turn things around, but you have to be speaking the same 'love language'. (The Five Love Languages is a book that might help you both right now). Lastly, try and make the most of your counseling sessions by staying in the present and focusing on what needs to be done TODAY. Mis-communication is a huge issue for many of these marriages and being honest about issues as they arise really helps. Talking it out on the spot and dealing with it calmly and kindly. Just be kind to each other.

Your assumptions pretty

Your assumptions pretty good...or maybe I just have a 'typical' ADHD Marriage disaster...

We do have a huge mis-communication problem that seems to have gotten worse, not better, since the diagnosis (March'11).  We are not speaking the same Love Language.  Our counseling sessions feel unproductive for both of us.  We are having trouble staying in the Present, and working toward a New relationship that we both want to have, rather than trying to re-work the Old one.  We're having trouble dealing with issues on the spot calmly.  And I'm certainly not getting the nice treatment, though I hope I'm giving it most of the time.



Then I would devote an entire

Then I would devote an entire counseling session or two to 'healing the past'. Certain things need to be said and done in order to feel like the past has been dealt with. (for me anyway). Acknowledgement of the mistakes (BOTH partners) and solutions and preventative measures for the future. So much time and energy is wasted dwelling in the past...but commonly the past isn't something ADHDers want to re-hash. A certain amount of it is necessary, and then again there comes a time to move on and this is where people get stuck. I could flat out tell my husband in no uncertain terms what I need/would like from him to help me get over the past and move forward. I also have a solution and preventative measures. However, they do me little good when he's not really willing to involve himself and he's the one I need to work with me.

He has acknowledged that his behaviors were hurtful..sometimes downright devastating. I really am not looking for I just need the 'preventative measures' and 'solutions' part.

For me, my 'shutdown' happened...and walls went up...because I saw nothing coming from his way that made a significant impact on my ability to trust him. More specifically to trust that changes were happening or needed to happen. We need to hear it...maybe even everyday for a while...that you screwed up, that you're sorry for it, that if you could change it or had known about the ADHD you would have done things differently, and that you know that the ADHD requires long-term treatment and management. I realize she has her own set of things to be sorry for...and she will need to acknowledge those as well. She cannot justify her actions...period. There is no justification for being unfaithful. At some point she will have to meet you half way.