Could my husband have ADHD?

I came across this site after searching for information online about how to control my spouse's spending. It had never occurred to me that my husband might have ADHD, but after looking through the blog and forum posts a lot of it (thought not all) rings true to our situation.

We've been married for two years and I constantly feel like I'm at my wit's end. Our main problem is my husband's lack of income and his inability to track the money he does spend from our bank account. I'm pretty frugal and had a substantial amount of savings when we married which is now gone, and I make enough that we should be able to live off my salary without being in the red each month. However, he'll spend hundreds of dollars a week on groceries, household items, and other random things (alcohol, guitar parts, etc.). In order to make ends meet I've pretty much stopped spending any money on myself and have had to borrow money from my parents. I've chalked his spending up to him being bored and wanting an excuse to get out of the house, and have tried to get him to keep his receipts and track his spending and generally play a more active role in managing our finances so we don't spend more than I bring in each month. He says he'll try but he just can't seem to do it. I think he genuinely thinks he's spending less in his mind, but he's not capable of sitting down and looking objectively at the numbers. It's finally gotten to the point that I've decided to take away his access to our debit and credit cards and just give him a weekly cash allowance, which I should have done a long time ago but didn't because I wanted to avoid fighting about it.

I feel so much like I am his mother rather than his wife. I have to make sure everything runs smoothly in the household, pay all bills and balance our budget, cajole him into doing things like going to the doctor (and even then I have to make the appointment for him). He's a huge procrastinator. There are numerous things around the house that he needs to repair and he'll just ignore them for weeks or months, despite my repeated requests. I feel like a total nag, and I can tell he resents it. I thought it might help if I made a to-do list of all the things that needed to be done and ask him to do just one thing a week (I offered to help him too). He agreed, then didn't do anything for a week. This morning we got in a huge fight because my mom is coming to visit in a few days and he got overwhelmed by the list, attacking me for putting pressure on him and expecting him to do all of the tasks before she gets here (although I repeatedly told him I didn't expect that). He puts things off and then gets totally frazzled and stressed out when he finally has to scramble to do them, or he'll self-impose deadlines on himself, ignoring things that need to be done while focusing on something that to me doesn't seem necessary ("productive procrastination"). My general sense is that he can't manage his time well, effectively estimate how long it will take to get something done, or prioritize things in a way that makes sense. 

There is constant clutter in his wake and he does, to my mind, a minimum of cleaning and picking up around the house, although he thinks he pulls his weight by cooking dinner, running/emptying the dishwasher, and doing his own laundry (after it's been on the bedroom floor for a week). I feel like I'm constantly cleaning up after him but if I ask for more help, he'll either brush me off or get angry. If he doesn't care about something being done but I do, he simply doesn't seem to see the value in it and won't do it, or will only do it later when he feels like it. It feels like a total power struggle. I've never felt like I was an anal person about cleaning before, but since we moved in together I've become obsessed with keeping things clean and neat and I resent him for not seeming to care. I think it's the only thing I feel in control of anymore.

He doesn't really seem to have trouble remembering things or trailing off in the middle of a conversation. He actually has a very good memory and can talk the ears off an elephant, to the point that I often feel overwhelmed by his monologues (I am, in contrast, fairly quiet). He has anger management issues and is never one to avoid a conflict, in fact he seems to embrace it and feels fine after we have a big fight whereas it will take me hours or days to recover. (I have depression which doesn't help things, and makes me very confused about how much of our problems might be attributed to my own issues -- I know I'm not perfect). He has problems with authority, and has a chip on his shoulder because he thinks people don't appreciate him or his abilities. He has pot and alcohol dependencies, although he's not an alcoholic. He's said before that pot helps him focus. He spends each evening in front of the TV watching movies and does not consider that time to be available for doing anything productive. He stays up late, wakes up early, and is usually tired. He's trying to establish himself as a professional musician and I support him in that because he's very talented, but in the meantime he has made what seem to me to be very half-hearted attempts to find part-time work. There are a lot of jobs he just won't apply for, even though to me it's gotten way past the point that he should be applying for anything and everything just to help support us. He gives up easily and gets angry if he doesn't get a job he's applied for, taking it personally. He's constantly blaming and criticizing others -- outwardly he is very charming and friendly, but he seems like a different person when we're alone, always negative. He's in a couple of bands and teaches music lessons to a few students and is good at managing his schedule for those things, but doesn't seem to have the ability to make good use of the rest of the time he has. I get very resentful going to my 40-hour-a-week job and leaving him home all day to do as he pleases, while feeling like he has very little to show for it. At the same time, he seems to think that he is always busy and doesn't have time to get the things done that he needs to. I sort of feel like we're living on different planets.

I think about divorce on a regular basis. I feel like the challenges of living with him outweigh the few positives i'm getting out of our relationship. I'm not ready to give up yet, but I also don't know how long I can live like this. I wonder if I'm too overbearing and try not to "control" him, but it just leaves me feeling miserable, like I'm getting the short end of the stick. Does this sound like it could be a case of ADHD? Thanks for reading my long post and I appreciate any insight.

  "He can talk the ear off an

 

"He can talk the ear off an elephant" - well, that's something I can certainly relate too! On his special subjects of choice, my hubby has a remarkable memory for tiny details and he will impart this information on the unsuspecting at a moment's notice! But on topics of actual mutual importance, issues relating to our house for instance... He can't/ won't remember even what we talked about a day or so before.

Soconfused... Nothing you have typed above rules out ADHD. In fact, as you're I'm sure now aware - a lot of the issues you have outlined are pretty classic. Organization, preoccupation, money...

One thing that makes me think that ADHD is all the more likely - is where you state that he thinks that he is pulling his weight around the house etc, where you can point to actual action that shows he isn't. My hubby will count time he thought about doing something - or procrastinating over it - as working on it. I don't see it that way. A little time spent in planning is great and desirable. A week fretting over it but never lifting a finger-  that's not any good at all.

Do you think your husband might be willing to be assessed? I'm still at the point myself where my husband is 'thinking about it'... Although he agrees that he very likely does have it. My husbands' childhood and schooling, right through to now are pretty much text book stuff for the distracted ADD variant of ADHD. We have three kids - one with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It's very challenging. Our eldest is a very good student... But there are certain behaviour she displays that make me think 'oh no! please not ADD...' And this condition is highly heritable..

Good luck with it. One good thing about finding yourself asking these questions, is you realize that you aren't alone in dealing with this and that your perspective is valid. I found myself for a long time wondering if I was a nag, expecting too much etc. I'm better at assessing situations now and working out what I can and should expect of my husband. And things are a bit better for both of us I believe.

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your reply. I've been sitting in bed crying and I feel like I have no one to talk to so it helps to get some perspective. I just asked my husband earlier why he thinks we fight so much -- I genuinely wanted to know his viewpoint. He said he thinks it's my depression and that I'm unbalanced and need more therapy. I've been on medication for years and was very stable emotionally until we got married, when everything seemed to just fall apart. I saw a counselor for 6 months earlier this year because he refused to go to couples therapy unless I had seen someone myself first. I decided to stop when my counselor moved and it seemed like all we did was talk about how much stress my marriage was causing me. We were basically doing couples' therapy with just one spouse, which could only progress so far. Out of desperation I've been reading books on improving our marriage, but I hide them because I'm fairly sure he won't take them seriously and doubt that we could talk about them without fighting. I don't know how much progress I can make reading the books by myself.

Now he says he "might" go with me to therapy, but it's obvious he doesn't want to. I am at a loss. I know I struggle with depression and have some emotional problems of my own that probably make things worse, but I've been in relationships that were much easier than this one so I don't think it's just me. The thing that gets me is that I'm very honest with him about the things that bother me -- the money, the household stuff, etc. -- and he just doesn't take them seriously (he's even said he thinks they're unimportant), even though I make it clear to him how much they drive me crazy and affect my mental health. My standard of living has gone way down due to the burden of supporting him and he just seems to take it all for granted and can't understand why I'm unhappy. It seems like I just can't get him to care about my problems or take them as seriously as he does his own. I get so angry at him that I yell and swear, and then he throws it back in my face and says I'm unstable. I hate myself when I get like that; I'm generally very conflict-averse and never fight with anyone. My fuse is so short anymore with him that I just can't seem to help it.

Oh, and after our fight this morning he "binged" on all the things on the to-do list I made, getting them done in one day. It feels like such a hollow victory because it was obviously done out of spite rather than a genuine desire to be cooperative. It seems like the only way he's motivated to do anything he doesn't want to do is if we fight over it, then he has no problem putting his nose to the grindstone to show me that I'm wrong about him.

I'm very skeptical about him agreeing to do an assessment. I think if I ask, he'll just get angry and defensive. My only hope would be for a therapist to recognize the symptoms if I could get him to go to counseling with me. In my darkest moments I feel like the only thing I can do is give up and drop all expectations of him so as not to be disappointed. What I'm reading on this site is that maybe that is the best thing to do, but it seems almost impossible.

 

  

  Hi again, soconfused. I'm

 

Hi again, soconfused. I'm really sorry to hear that you're feeling so low.

I hear what you're saying about having been depressed in the past and having been ok until you got married. You may be depressed, it is possible. It's also possible that you're depressed independently of anything your husband has done.  But- depression in reaction to having a husband who doesn't pull his weight financially, then overspends and yet still can't/ won't do a reasonable share around the house despite not earning -  there's nothing irrational or odd about that at all. Roles reversed - if he worked full time and paid all the bills - you would naturally do basically all the household tasks until you worked again, wouldn't you? I think it helps to try looking at things that way.. "If roles were revered here... what would he expect of me? What would I expect of myself?"

It worries me a little that his reaction to your sadness is basically that it's all your own problem, have I got that right? Telling you that he thinks your unbalanced - that sounds quite uncaring to my ear.. All the while you work full time to support him? What does his family think about this? Is there any time limit on his being able to get his music career off the ground before he must be a proper husband and get a job do his bit to pay the bills? I'm all for people having dreams. But there are holidays, after work, weekends etc. And no ones' dreams ought to come at the expense of the wellbeing of people they claim to love.

The fighting and the sudden flurry of activity to get the list of chores completed both sound like they could be ADHD related. Some people with ADHD 'like' to fight, they find it stimulating. And the fight might have caused a feeling of urgency to tackle the list too. There's a 'now/ not now' element to ADHD, where the person with it just can't get themselves to do anything until it is an emergency. My own hubby couldn't start Uni assignments until they were overdue. Or study for exams until the night before they were on. I'm a methodical planner and I avoid conflict as much as possible. I've had to resort to sending my hubby emails at work about anything important (he concentrates way better in the morning - after work at home with the TV on etc - dead loss). It's not ideal, but it is getting a few things done- and this lowers both of our anxiety levels. The emails seem to make my needs jump into the urgent - now! - pile for a while too. I wish I didn't feel that I had to be premeditated about it... But then, I have to act in the best interests of my whole family.

I'm still hoping to get my hubby to have a proper assessment. He is open to the idea in theory. He even has a friend who was diagnosed at having ADHD as a child who due to the stress of his new job has gone back on medication.  I think my hubby looks upon medication as a magic pill... But, it just might help. I know too, that deep down the probability that he has ADD hurts his self esteem which isn't super robust anyway. This is why I'm still encouraging him rather than making ultimatums.

With your husband... Maybe you need to insist he comes to marriage counselling with you? If he won't... Well, he's refusing to help save your marriage, ultimately. Both partners have to try for a marriage to survive.

Exactly.

I loved this: "And no ones' dreams ought to come at the expense of the wellbeing of people they claim to love."  You are so absolutely right about this.  It's one thing to support someone's dreams and goals but it becomes enabling rather than supporting when they are taking advantage of others to do so. 

Thank you again for your

Thank you again for your thoughtful comments, Adjusting to Reality. Your point about role reversal is basically how I feel, but I find myself questioning my logic and expectations because it doesn't seem to be the way he thinks about things, and he can be very forceful in asserting his opinions. You seem to have come to terms with your husband's issues and don't let them get to you the way I do. Was there a process you had to go through to get to that point?

I do feel in general like he takes a lot of what I do for granted and have told him as much, but he genuinely can't seem to see it. He thinks he's doing his part and gets defensive if I suggest otherwise. It's not as if he doesn't do anything, but it mostly has to be on his terms and I don't seem to have the right to request that he do more -- if I do it comes off as nagging, to both of us. Maybe he really is doing all he feels capable of, but that just reinforces my feelings of being parent to a child who can't fully take care of himself. When I'm really feeling bad I do think that he may be, intentionally or not, taking advantage of me. I think he doesn't see why his behavior could come off that way, but it's disappointing that he doesn't accept the validity of my feelings, and tries to convince me that I'm wrong for feeling that way. 

I made a demand last night that he come to counseling with me and said I wouldn't take no for an answer. It seemed like the only option. Here's hoping it will help us turn a corner.  

 

Rosber's picture

soconfused, I wish my wife

soconfused, I wish my wife would have demanded I come to counseling with her. It would have helped make the fog I was feeling clear sooner. I really hope that your husband gets it when you go together.

My wife bypassed the step of saying "if you don't go to counseling with me, I am filing for divorce". Instead she came home after work one day and said "I filed for divorce today". She did this because she felt there was no hope for me or us. What she didnt expect was for me to be devastated, sad, remorseful, and sorry for the way I had been acting. It was the 2x4 to the head that I needed to admit that I needed help. At the time I didnt know I needed help with my untreated ADHD. I was diagnosed 2 years before and was prescribed medicine and told that all would be fine. It wasn't though, I was a rollercoaster. My wife wouldn't know which me she would get, sweet happy me or grumpy impulsive me.

The day she filed, I called our family therapist and started weekly therapy to get my emotions and impulses under control. I took over everything in the house, as well as started finishing some of the projects that I had left unfinished. I continued to tell my wife I loved her and didn't want us to split. I didn't just tell her I showed her consistently with my daily actions and positive attitude. 

Then something really weird happened. My wife and I were talking about possibly reconciling for a year to see if I could continue a positive lifestyle and control my impulses. She asked me how could she ever forgive me. I told her you just do it, just let yourself forgive. I went to the store to get groceries for us and when I got back she wanted to talk to me. I was like oh no... but she said it was a good talk. She showed me an email she had gotten from this website right after I left about forgiving your spouse. She then forwarded that email to me. I read it over and over for awhile later that night. Then I saw the link at the bottom of the page to this website and clicked it. When I started reading all the posts here from non ADHD spouses I was floored! Over and over I read posts about ME, but it wasn't my wife posting. It was ALOT of people posting!

Then I started to understand what I had done... to an extent why I had done some things...

My wife and I are making great progress slowly now. We both read The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

There is hope for you, if he can see himself too.

Rosber

  Hello Rosber... I just

 

Hello Rosber...

I just wanted to ask, had your wife tried anything before she filed for divorce to get you along to counselling? My hubby and I aren't at that desperate place and I don't want us to get there... But getting him to prioritise getting a proper diagnosis (he's done online questionaires that come out strongly suggesting he has ADHD, and even his mum thinks he probably has it) has so far been a 'yeah I'll have to do that......' and then no action.

My husband also has the uncanny ability to forget our conversations. Deep down - I don't think he really wants an expert to tell him he's... not quite normal? We've been through this with our son who is somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. That whole long, tedious process of diagnosis has been so demoralising.

I've tried gently to get hubby to this site. But he's never quite got here. I don't want to have to MAKE him somehow...  Is there anything that might have got you here short of your wife filing for divorce? Did is have to be a dire emergency to make you work on your marriage? Do I have to manufacture a crisis to get action? 'Cause that's exhausting and not something I can keep doing.

Thanks in advance for any insight you might have. And thanks for being on this forum. I really need to hear the perspective of those who have ADHD, as I get little from my own hubby on this. And deep down I really want to understand.

A2R

Rosber's picture

A2R, My wife gave me a

A2R,

 

My wife gave me a printout a few times about ADHD. I looked them over but didnt read them like I should have.

Originally when my wife suggested I get tested for ADHD I was defensive. After awhile of her talking to me about not finishing projects and I could get medicine to help me focus more If I would go take the test, I decided to go get tested. I was then told with medicine all would be well. By the therapist and my doctor. I know now I needed therapy and other things as well. Plus my mind changing things around too myself too.

My son has Autism as well and that put a huge amount of stress on my wife and myself as well as the stress of the bills we crewed up paying for all his therapies over the years.

My wife could have shown more interest in some of my interests and then asked me to look at a book with her on ADHD or come to this website with her. I would have been less defensive and more likely to do something that I was scared to own up to. I was already feeling worthless and down on myself because of my impulses that I kept to myself and me not being able to concentrate on one thing at a time etc.

It didn't take a dire emergency to get me to work on my marriage but it did make me actually talk about things I kept inside that I should have shared with my wife. We could have worked on those things together instead of me keeping everything inside and being moody daily.

Everyone is different, so I don't know what may work for your husband. I am glad my wife filed for divorce, it made me realize how bad I had made our lives become. She could have said to me though " Either we get counseling or I will file for divorce" That would have worked. Even if she had said " if we don't get counseling we need to try a legal separation for awhile". That would have worked. She told me she didnt want to do those things because I am not a child and she shouldnt have had to give an adult an ultimatum.

Her filing for divorce made me go get counseling to work on the things I kept inside me that made me be a moody person. It made me openly admit I had faults and to deal with them. What got me to come here was my wife saying she would try to forgive me and she forwarded me and email from here. I followed the link to this site because I wanted to for her, since she actually wanted to do something for me even after I had hurt her heart so many times.

Once I got here, I then realized I needed ADHD therapy. Because most the things I was doing was related to me having untreated ADHD.

I just got lucky.

I am not the greatest with typing out my thoughts and feelings, but I am glad to try!

I hope you get your husband to come to this website and read the book "The ADHD Effect on Marriage" It really helped me see what I was doing and what I was putting my wife through. Coming here and reading the book also helped me work on my own strategies for handling my ADHD.

Rosber

  Hi Rosber, Thanks a heap

 

Hi Rosber,

Thanks a heap for your reply. I'm sorry to hear that you also have an Autistic son, I know first hand how hard that is. One of the things that make life hard for me is our son needs lots of planning and structure, notice in advance of what will happen, tomorrow etc... And my husband doesn't like to be tied down to plans! Spur of the moment activity doesn't mesh well with the Autism Spectrum... So the upshot is come the weekend - we stay home basically all the time. I don't think this is healthy for any of us.

My husband goes through periods of time when he doesn't really communicate with me at all. He still talks - but only about the most superficial or functional things or his special interest topics. Eventually - most of the time - he will finally tell me about some incident at work that has been worrying him. I've told him straight out that I'd much rather know what was worrying him than find myself wondering what I've done to make him distant.. But he doesn't seem to feel the need to share. I can find myself feeling like the housekeeper and little else at times.

My husband has actually told me when I've been trying to get him to talk about the house repairs we need to do that he wishes I was more interested in his special interests - as if these things were somehow of equivalent importance to our family - or as if the house repairs were 'my thing' or my special interest! This drives me nuts. I do have interests of my own that he shows zero interest in and I have long since given up trying to talk to him about. This also adds to my feeling that I'm his support person - but he just isn't mine.  And of course the time I spend trying to encourage and understand and push him into getting assessed etc is time I can't spend on my own interests.

I'll keep trying to get him here to this site and to get a proper diagnosis. Thanks again for your post.

A2R

  It's an on going process,

 

It's an on going process, re-learning to trust my own judgement and opinions over my spouses'. I've also wondered if I'm expecting too much or imagining things, or just plain wrong. Especially when he tells me sincerely that he will get to something, that he will take care of it.... But, since finding this site by accident one day and reading the stories and as so many others have said - seeing my own life told and re-told - I've learned to go with what my head says will happen  - not what my heart wants to happen. As a result I feel a lot less let down. On the downside of this though... Is I do feel myself thinking of my husband as another person I care for in the house and less as my full partner, which makes me sad. It's a kind of mourning process I think, letting go of what I thought I had and coming to accept what is real.

I've also had to face the fact that I've let him get away with his version of reality without challenging much at all for many years. For so long I've put my need for him to be warm and loving towards me above what's really fair and right. And I think that's been the subtle way that he has stopped me pointing out any flaws in his logic or recollection of events... He's quick to withdraw affection and I don't cope well with that. I've had to 'harden up' a little bit. Putting my feelings aside and being logical about my approach to getting important things done. And copping the way he distances himself from me. I don't think he realizes he's doing it. It's only in recent months that I've faced up to the fact that he does and how I quickly backed off when that happened. A subtle shifting in the dynamics of our household is happening now, and for the better. Better for everyone - but especially better for me. And that's another thing. I've had to face the fact that what I want and what I feel does matter. Not just to me - but objectively - to the whole family. If I crash and burn - the kids won't eat. I'm necessary and needed around here. And I have a right to be happy too.

And one more nasty thing I realised a few months back... If things don't change no matter how hard I work at it... Eventually, my patience will expire. My Grandparents - still living -have been married nearly 70 years. As things were a few months back... I don't think I had 2 years left in me - never mind another 55.

Microcosm of the ADHD experience ...

Okay, so, reading this post and some of the comments (I still can't stay focused enough to read them all before wanting to reply), illustrates a microcosm of the ADHD experience.

i.e. I read the initial post and immediately had several thoughts that I wanted to comment about. Then I started reading the comments, and I wanted to reply to some of those, too. But I didn't have time (or focus) to read all of the comments, and I was already forgetting some of the things I wanted to say. So then I glanced over the original post again, and decided to comment on that for the time being. Now I'm back and I've got the same problem. Too many thoughts about too many comments. "Oh, I know ... I'll just comment on each of the replies that I wanted to address, instead of making one long comment at the end. But then I felt like I needed to explain what I'm doing, which means that I have to pick which reply to comment to, first. Aaaaannndd, 20 minutes later, I realize that I'm still just reading replies. Oh, and I also went to go research something else, because in the middle of all that, I had a completely random idea for a cool blog concept. And a freelance client contacted me, so I ended up talking with him back and forth for awhile. Wait, I was trying to get back to something ... What was it? Oh yeah, that post I saw on the ADHD Marriage site. Ugh ... go read that again.

Then I realized that this is what ADD is all about and I wanted to illustrate that, too. So now I have to pick a reply. Okay, did that, now I have to illustrate. Okay, did that (in this comment). Now ... what was I going to say in the first place?

See what I mean? It's frustrating for us, too. It was even more frustrating before I knew what the cause of it all was. But sometimes, it's just a frustrating now, knowing I have ADHD, because it's like I have to admit that I have limitations. And I don't like feeling flawed.

So ... there ya go.

Now, let's see if I can go comment on individual replies before I get distracted again ...

I have depression, too

soconfused,

I have depression, too. I've been taking medication for almost 20 years. The problems in your marriage cannot all be attributed to depression. (some can)

Random Reply #1

First, I want to commend you, A2R. It sounds like — while you're still struggling to cope with all of it — you are genuinely interested in helping your husband, and not just complaining about him. And that, to me, is a big step in the right direction.

*Note: I'm not saying that SoConfused is complaining, by the way.

"My hubby will count time he thought about doing something - or procrastinating over it - as working on it." — I was really impacted by a blog post on this site that talked about ADHD folks having to "find their own way." Basically it said that we need to have room to think certain things through, in order to find our own way of doing it ... we have to figure out the way that makes the most sense to us. Because if we don't, it's just that much easier to get frustrated or distracted. Your comment reminded me of a recent situation. We'd just moved to a new house and my sister-in-law was helping us unpack, etc. At one point, I was asked to hang 3-4 large "wall-art" type things in the living room, while my sister-in-law was going to hang about 20 framed pictures in the hallway in a kinda "gallery/collage" type of presentation. I thought, "Sweet! I'll have that done WAY sooner than she will." You can see where this is going ... probably less than 30 minutes later, she was done and it looked great. And about an hour after that, I was finally done with my project.

I'm glad she did the hallway, because I knew that it'd take me FOR-FREAKING-EVER to get that all lined up the right way. But it irritated me that it took me so much longer to do my stuff. Afterward, I was thinking about it (while doing something else, completely unrelated) and I realized that actually hanging the stuff didn't take me too long. It was the preparation ... the measuring, the leveling, the marking of the screw-holes, remarking because my ruler slipped, etc. that took up the biggest portion of my time. But that's how I had to do it. If I'd just eyeballed it, I'd have ended up with unsightly holes in the wall, uneven placements, etc. and I'd never have the focus to go back and fix any of it.

My point is, it may have taken me longer initially, but when I was done I knew it was done right, and I wouldn't have to go back and do it again. Or attempt to. So it's the lesser of two evils.

Well crap ...

I just replied in the wrong place.

FREAKING ADD ...

Sounds like me

Soconfused:

I could have written your second paragraph in your original post. It sounds just like my ADHD husband. He always had a job, but we made too much money to be broke. Bad News: if your spouse does have ADHD, his money-management skills will not get better. He will not learn from his mistakes. (We've been in serious debt 3 times. DH just can't have a credit card.)  Good news: meds and therapy can help (my husband is doing better with finances now, but it is frustrating because we are so far behind).

I think it is wise that you went to a cash allowance. I wish someone had told me this 20 years ago: Do not use credit cards (pitfall for ADHD). Debit cards can be a problem, too, if someone doesn't regularly balance the checkbook. You may think about freezing your credit so your spouse cannot apply for credit cards based on your income. From my understanding, credit card debt belongs to both spouses, even if only one runs up the bills.

You guys are all great. This

You guys are all great. This is a really welcoming forum and I'm glad I found it. It helps a lot to hear about your experiences.

This morning we had another big fight triggered by the to-do list. At the end of all these arguments all I can do is sit there feeling sad and defeated, mourning the fact that we just can't seem to deal with things in a calm and mature manner. He gets irritate with me for reacting this way because he thinks it's just my depression. It's partly that, and partly feeling like I've been beaten down and can't deal with this level of conflict anymore. I feel so hopeless at those times, like we're speaking different languages and will never get out of this cycle of mutual resentment.

He admitted that he is a "chronic procrastinator." I saw this as an opportunity to ask him if he'd ever considered that he may have an attention deficit disorder. He said yes, that he'd failed first grade (I knew this but he never went into detail about why) and that he'd tried to get his parents to get him evaluated for it but they were essentially in denial about it. He said the subject would open a whole other can of worms that should be saved for another conversation. So I'm feeling my hunch may be right, and am more determined than ever to try to persuade him to get an assessment. He said he didn't think it would make a difference so I know there will be some resistance, but i'll keep trying.  

It's so hard to get his ATTENTION

One of the most frustrating aspects of ADHD is communication. I would talk and talk and never feel heard. The only way I could get my husband's attention was to get LOUD and HYSTERICAL and DRAMATIC. Then, he would finally realize I was serious about an issue and would finally focus. There are so many fights that shouldn't have to happen in an adult relationship. It's a terrible cycle to be in.

This is a controversial suggestion, but can you issue an ultimatum? Like, come to therapy with me or get out? (You seem to be in a strong position with a job and no kids.) Rosber's spouse (above) had to do something dramatic like that to get his attention. It's sad to have to go there, but it might be the only thing that can get through to a clouded brain.

Rosber, it sounds like your relationship is on the right track now. I'm sure the divorce filing was incredibly painful and traumatic. It's sad you had to get to that point, but are you and your wife happier now? Has everything you've done since then been worth it? 

It may seem harsh or cruel to issue an ultimatum, but I truly believe that it is your spouse's best interest to get assessed. It's one of those "cruel to be kind" situations.  He may not be able to help himself right now. (I think undiagnosed ADHD can be a huge detriment in one's life and it needn't be.)

Many years ago, my husband had to drag me to the doctor for a depression screening. It was one of the most compassionate things he ever did. I didn't like it--or him--at the time but I'm grateful. I see this as a similar situation.

Rosber's picture

doublej, My wife and I are

doublej,

My wife and I are taking baby steps right now. We are both getting happier, but its going to be a slow process.

A big thing my wife and I are doing right now is something I had been refusing to do for years. My wife and I wake up every morning and go on a 2 mile walk together. We do it rain or shine. I feel its a really good bridge for us getting close again.

Its never been something I really enjoyed doing. Now that I am walking with my wife every morning, I actually look forward to waking up at 5am some mornings, 6am others and going on the walk with her. She also likes to do an exercise boot camp and I really don't like those. I told her that I would do the boot camp with her if she wanted me to and she said she would like that. So the next boot camp starts up in a few weeks and I am actually excited about going and doing it with her.

One thing you need to understand is that I have never been a morning person. I would wake up around 7:30 so I could get my son to school but not at 5am LOL. I am changing my lifestyle, I want to be a morning person.

My wife and I are also watching a movie together every sat night at home.

This week we met for lunch for the first time since she filed for divorce.

These are small steps but we are reconnecting.

 

  My husband also had to

 

My husband also had to repeat a grade at school and openly admits he struggled to stay on task and concentrating right through school. Your husband commenting that he had tried to get his parents to have him assessed for ADHD is remarkable! If you found someone qualified and made the appointment - would he go? I know you shouldn't really have to do that for him, but giving him the push might be necessary. If he says that it wouldn't make a difference - well, what harm in going along? You get treatment for your depression, can he really reasonably refuse to even be assessed for ADHD?

If you feel like your having the same conversation over and over and he doesn't seem to remember what you said or remembers it wrong... Would writing it down help? I'm having some success myself with short emails. I get to say what I need to, using 'I' statements and keeping to just one topic at a time. It seems to cut through better. I don't think my husband processes what he hears as well as what he reads. 'Auditory Processing' problems go along with the Autism Spectrum  - I think they might also be a factor in some people with ADHD. That's just a hunch of mine, but it seems to be true in my family.

hear you

soconfused, I just wanted to say I hear you and I am sorry you are going through this. If you read through the many posts on this site it may help to see that you are not alone. It does sound like your dh's issues could come from ADHD. Many have found that a spouse's ADHD have caused him or her to develop a lifetime of coping habits, including defensiveness, the "chip on the shoulder," the "productive procrastination," and also sometimes some self-medicating (the pot and alcohol). 

If you can, read Melissa's book, and anything you can on ADHD. It will help you understand that much of his behavior is not personal, it is not you, it is the ADHD. That said, eventually he will need to pull his weight in working on some of your marital issues. You shouldn't feel bad or controlling because you do not want to live in financial insecurity or clean up after a grown man 100% of the time. In the meantime, try to take care of yourself and find a counselor or therapist who understands ADHD for yourself--these things have a way of dragging the healthiest of us down into depression and anxiety and you deserve the gift of a good therapist who can help you navigate your situation:-)

The financial issues sound like an understandably big worry and he may not change his behavior until he has a reason to. Honestly, I know it is hard to do, but I would protect yourself and stop the "everything belongs to both of us" plan until he can stop spending all of your money. And he may not ever be able to. Can you open a separate account for him, put some money in it, and only give him a card to that one? If he wants or needs more he will have more of a motivation to get a job. I have seen it frequently on these boards, and it may sound radical, but he has already been through your savings--do you want to be plunged into debt someday if he keeps going? 
 

My best to you. Let us know how this goes. 

Thanks lynninny. I have a

Thanks lynninny. I have a tendency to be sensitive and take things personally, and that's been an ongoing struggle with us. Seeing his behavior through the lens of ADHD, I think it might be easier for me to take things less personally if I can think of it not as him being an "overbearing jerk" but as something he can't totally control.

We are starting the new month with our plan to control spending with a weekly cash allowance. I've been pleased that he seems very willing to try this. I'd like to also get him set up with his own bank account, and we've talked about it but just haven't done anything yet as it will be up to me to make it happen (get him to go to the bank with me, give him money to open the account, etc).

I've been sick lately and he's been making an effort to be helpful and try to stay on top of cleaning, etc. So I see a lot of willingness on his part right now to work on these issues; I can see that he really wants to change certain things but it just doesn't come naturally for him. I'm reading books about ADHD and hoping that I won't have a hard time getting him to see a doctor to get assessed. I think finding this site has been a step in the right direction in addressing some of our problems and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.    

You talkin' about ME?

Soconfused:

Wow ... at one point, while reading your post, I lost track of the fact that I was reading about someone else. It sounded like it just as easily could've been my wife talking about me. I really took note of this part, "I get very resentful going to my 40-hour-a-week job and leaving him home all day to do as he pleases, while feeling like he has very little to show for it. At the same time, he seems to think that he is always busy and doesn't have time to get the things done that he needs to. I sort of feel like we're living on different planets."

We can speculate all we want about whether or not he has ADHD. Personally, he sounds a lot like me, so I think maybe your suspicions are right. But until you know for sure, it's not going to help much. I say this, because I know from personal experience that he has to be a part of the solution ... in a BIG way. Obviously, you'll play a big part in it, too. I'm certainly not discounting how difficult it must be to live with an ADHD spouse (I hear about it all the time! LOL). But if he doesn't accept the reality that he (possibly) has ADHD and that it has a significant impact on his life, then you're just going to be spinning your wheels. In my case, I was fortunate enough to consider the possibility of me having ADHD, on my own. If it'd been thrown at me, or I felt attacked, etc., I think I would've been a LOT more resistant. Up to that point, I thought ADHD was a crackpot idea. Unfortunately, so did my wife. So it took some time for her to accept that my behaviors might have a real basis, as opposed to just believing that I didn't care.

And that's why I took note of the quote above, from your post. "Resent" may have just been the word that came to mind when you were typing. I get that. But if you truly have developed genuine feelings of resentment, I hope you'll be able to let go of those. If your husband does turn out to have ADHD, and you resent his behaviors caused by it, it'll only be that much more difficult to work through. That's because, for me, there's a big difference between working WITH an ADHD person, versus working AT them. I also identified with your words about him doing things out of spite, rather than because you simply asked him to. My wife and I used to have (occasionally still do) the same action/reaction. The thing that's helped us the most, is that she has become more adept at working WITH me, instead of AT me. For instance, talking about to-do lists. I used to hate those lists. And it's easy for me to see a big list and go into panic/overwhelm mode. So now, even though I may have a big list of things that need to be done (let's say, 'this week'), my wife has started asking me in the morning, something like, "So what are you going to do today?" or "This, this and this, need to be done first ... they're the most important." It changes the list from an overwhelming task, to a smaller, more manageable task.

I want to come back to this post and read all of the comments. But for now, I guess my thoughts are, "If you're increasingly more convinced that he is ADHD, then what harm does it do, to start working WITH him as if he did?" In the short-term, maybe it'll make it a little easier to get his cooperation. It might also make it easier to get him to seek treatment, if your new approach makes things noticeably better and you're able to tell him that it's because you started working with him as if he is ADHD. In the long-term, it might give you some perspective on what the rest of your life with him would be like. A common theme on this site is that "you don't cure ADHD, but you can make it better/easier to live with." If those changes renew your devotion to the marriage, great. If they don't, you'll have to truly ask yourself if you're able to live with this for the rest of your life. Personally, I do believe that it can get better and that true love and devotion will outlast the challenges of living with ADHD. But that's just me.

 

Your insight is much

Your insight is much appreciated. I know that without an assessment, everything is just speculation on my part, but it helps to know that others who have been diagnosed can see themselves in our situation. As I wrote to lynninny, I've been seeing real willingness in my husband lately to try to cooperate more with me, and I feel like the information I've gotten from this site and the books I'm reading have given me a new perspective on why this might be hard for him. I feel bad about the resentment i've built up, and I know that my husband can sense it and it causes him to resent me too. I don't want to get my hopes up too much, but since we briefly discussed ADHD and he seemed to indicate that he's considered the possibility that he might have it, it might even be a relief for him if someone finally takes it seriously and gets him assessed. My hope is that it would be a turning point for him and that treatment would help him overcome some of the internal struggles and mental blocks he seems to have. At the same time, I'm scared that he'll end up being diagnosed as "normal" and we'll be back at square one. Anyway, I do think that seeing a doctor is the next step and I'm hoping to broach the topic with him soon. If he is diagnosed, I'll be coming back to this forum often to get advice and tips on how to support him.