In crisis mode, need hope

This is my first post.  I read Melissa's book, and others, and it all rings true for my husband and I.  We have an appointment on Monday to see a counselor.  My husband doesn't agree that our relationship issues stem from ADHD, but I know that they do.  I "worked on myself" for years, I did counseling, thinking maybe I'm depressed, maybe I have postpartum depression, maybe this is anxiety... it got to the point where my insurance company wouldn't support any more therapy for me as a "reason was not clearly defined."  He was so good at making me believe it was all my fault.  The resources I have read have been the affirmation I was missing all these years, that something bigger was going on.  When my husband was diagnosed, I tried to become an expert on this, reading all that I could, so I could understand him and help him.  As a teacher, I always believed that it was about disorganization and distraction, but it is SO MUCH MORE than that!  I wish he could see this.  If I read him excerpts, he gets mad saying I'm not a doctor and nothing I say is valid.  He makes wild assumptions, like I'm out to get him, or gather information to use against him.  I'm just trying to save us!  He doesn't get it.  Before I knew this information, we tried marital counseling from a therapist who shared that she had ADHD herself (I thought this was unprofessional?).  All the sessions seemed to hyperfocus on things like who should have done the dishes.  At one point, I voiced concern about all the junk in his car and the baby being transported in it (dozens of metal clipboards, heavy books, trash, etc. can be projectiles in a crash) and all the therapist said was, "well, being tidy just isn't a priority for him.  Maybe you should clean out his car."  I was at a loss.  We stopped going because our relationship got worse.  Now we are about to try again and I am so afraid that this new therapist won't know about the non-adhd partner's struggles, and he will just say "told you so."  We have hit rock bottom.  I left him this week and took my children with me (I have a 2 month old and a 3 year old who are suffering from all the dysfunction) when communication had broken down so badly that I couldn't say a single sentence without a defensive attack.  I'm not good at handling all this hurt.  I've gone on so long feeling crazy, unlovable, unattractive, uninteresting, like I'm just a dictator, a micro-manager or a maid.  I can't stop crying, I have no appetite but I am nursing so I need to keep eating.  I don't know if this is even salvageable.  I'm so scared.  Divorce seems like the end of the world, but I don't know if I can live in this hell anymore.  Our mothers got involved and it is ugly.  He and his mother want us to remain under the same roof, "go through the motions" and wait until Monday, like it's going to be a magic fix.  I, on the other hand, feel like it's mental torture, watching him be able to "put on a face" and go along with his life while I am grieving and feeling sick.  He is angry that I left for 2 days with the kids (yet had no problem sending us away for entire weekends so he could do things he wanted to do) so I took them home to him, only to see him put them in front of the TV while he went on the computer.  He didn't even notice it was lunch time!  I don't think he can take care of my kids alone, but he demands 50/50 time with them.  I'm already see signs of hyperactivity in my 3 year old.  I feel completely stupid for not getting out before having children.  Now I feel like I MUST find some hope, I must make this work.  I can't regret my children, they are my heaven.  I have put all my hope into this new therapist on Monday.  I hope we can get somewhere.  I worry I won't say the right things.  I worry I won't be articulate, and I thought about making a list of things to talk about but I don't want to go in looking like a controlling person or like I want to place blame.  I just need to learn how to react to his behaviors but it is so hard.  Can't he see our marriage is dying?  Can't he look at what the future will be like?  For him? For the kids?  Can't he understand the gravity of the situation?  Why can't we get along and be happy?  We have everything to be thankful for, healthy children, no one is dying... At this point I'm rambling.  Sorry.  I am just so sick with fear.

I am so sorry for your stress

I am so sorry for your stress and I recognize myself in so much of what you've said.  We are at a breaking point in our marriage, too.  We have a 14.5 mos old daughter.  I love him more than anything and want to figure out how to be happy w/ him again.  We started marriage therapy a couple weeks ago to see if we can repair and this point he is emotionally checked out.  I have felt the same in recent months, but not now.  

I have to say I am learning a lot through marriage therapy and it has been humbling.  I was a little concerned b/c our therapist is not an ADHD expert.  I, too, believe that a large amount of our issues stem from the ADHD symptoms.  What I am learning, though, is that it's not just his symptoms, it's my response to them.  And I bring my own issues to the table, too...more than I had even realized before.  I had an epiphany today.  The therapist has continually asked me whether I can accept his ADHD b/c it's not going anywhere.  Up until this point, I would say I def understand that, but I always felt that to be fair, he needed to do the work to get it under control and then I wouldn't have the anger and hurt in response.  What I'm realizing now is that we all bring our own issues to the table...every single one of us.  If we broke up and I found someone else...I'm just trading one set of issues in for another.  The way to be happy is to learn how to deal w/ everyone's issues, not to keep looking for someone who doesn't have any.  

Like I said, we all have our dysfunctions.  The only difference in an ADHD/nonADHD marriage is we have a name for it and we can kinda predict how things are gonna go down.  Yes the ADHDer is responsible for their part in this, and w/o them putting in the work it's not going to get better.  However, it's not so much the ADHD as it is the interaction between me and my DH.  Example- I know if I interrupt DH when he's focused on something, no matter how silly it seems to me, he is going to snap at me.  Even if I interrupt him to tell him something important to me.  Should he?  No.  But I can't pretend I don't already know this is going to happen.  So my options are to get mad/hurt when he does it, or to expect it and decide whether whatever I have to say is worth dealing w/ those symptoms or if it's something that can wait.  If it's something that cannot wait, then I can only control my reaction to what I already know will happen - his snapping.  If I can remove my personal feelings from it and anticipate it, then by not reacting in kind I will decrease the likelihood of it being elevated.  Prior to my recent epiphanies, I would cry out that this isn't fair.  It's still not entirely fair, but that doesn't really matter.  It is what it is.  Hope I'm making sense.  Of course the other option is to get out completely...but now that we have a child, I can never get out completely.  And I don't want to get out completely, I want my husband back.  But let's say I do get out...  We will always have these issues between us.  I need to learn how to interact w/ him in a loving and productive manner regardless of what he does in return.  The hope is he will do the same and we can get our love and happiness back.  But I can't control him.  I can't make him see an ADHD expert or take different meds or read all these books.  The only control I have is over myself.  Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?  I have noticed that while we're still on extremely thin ice, just in changing how I'm reacting to the symptoms it seems like the symptoms are lessening.  He also has (miraculously) been a bit more apologetic and sensitive to when I'm upset...things that I had long since written off as possibilities, blaming the ADHD.  Don't get me wrong, everything that I'm upset about is still occurring, I'm just not angry anymore and I'm trying hard to learn to look at things more objectively.  

The other aspect to my epiphany is this- ANYONE could snap if they're interrupted.  Anyone could have any one of the symptoms of ADHD from time to time.  Obviously the ADHDer will have it more regularly or predictably, but the behaviors are not exclusive to ADHD.  So again, it comes back to my reaction, my role.

I highly recommend (besides Melissa Orlov's book, which is incredible) The Divorce Remedy and/or Divorce Busting.  I'm finding all three of these books to be helpful as I navigate through these tender times.  Even if it's all for naught, none of us are born knowing how to have a successful marriage, it has to be learned.  And instead of focusing on putting the ADHD issues in 1 box and my issues (example) in another box, I'm trying to learn how to deal with how these issues interact.  

I'm rambling, hope this makes some sense and hope it doesn't come off as placing blame on you.  It's definitely not my intent.  I know I flat out refused the ADHD Effect book initially b/c I was in a place of thinking all of our issues came from his ADHD and all of my issues were in response.  I especially hated the use of the term "nag".  Of course now I'm seeing things in a completely different manner and the ADHD Effect book is precious.  I wish I would've read it much sooner before so much damage had been done.  For now, I'm trying to be a fast learner and praying that we can be saved.  At some point, of course, we'll have to go back and deal w/ the specific ADHD symptoms b/c they are very real.  But again, w/o being able to control him, I have to understand that he may never ever address those himself.  I still have to interact w/ him so I might as well learn to do the best I can in the situation I'm in and maybe, hopefully, we can work on this together and keep our daughter's family intact.

Pbartender's picture

It takes two to tango...


If all of our marriages could meet in the middle by combining an understanding and patient non-ADHD spouse with an ADHD spouse who takes responsibility and action to control the symptoms, things could get a lot better.  The tricky part is getting both to do it at the same time.

Sometimes, though, it seems it just takes one or the other to make a dedicated effort, no matter what, long enough for the other to notice and get on board.

Hopefully, it'll keep going with your husband and he'll take it upon himself to start working with you -- it's the same hope I have for my non-ADHD wife.  But if not, those epiphanies will still help you life a happier life in your own way, regardless of what he does.

Good Luck!



Well said

If all of our marriages could meet in the middle by combining an understanding and patient non-ADHD spouse with an ADHD spouse who takes responsibility and action to control the symptoms, things could get a lot better.  The tricky part is getting both to do it at the same time.

You said it!

... and I would add "and sustain it long enough to reap the benefits, thereby giving back positive reinforcement to counteract all the negative feedback from over the years." I would love love love to be in that position.

Thank you

It helps to know there are others out there going through this.  I'm definitely willing to work on my responses.  It's so hard to not feel like he is "getting away" with hurting me.  Our problems are less about disorganization and chores and more about me feeling completely ignored and unloved.  My husband is so into hyper focusing on thing after thing, that I literally feel like I do not exist; just a roommate.  I was completely alone throughout my pregnancy. While we were in the hospital, after I had given birth, he took sleeping pills because he wanted to sleep, even though I was having complications and couldn't get to the bathroom without pulling the emergency cord because he wouldn't wake up and help me.  That is just one of the many ways I feel like a big nothing.  I feel like I could cope with any symptom in the world if I felt loved and respected.  You are right; we will be in contact forever no matter what we decide to do.  I just hope to find some happiness somewhere.  I have a plan for the meantime.  I'm going to start taking care of myself better.  I'm going to get in good shape, get dressed in real clothes, wear makeup.  I'm going to keep my boys my priority as they always have been, and not expect anything from my husband.  I've put uplifting quotes around the house and I've MADE myself leave the house and contact friends.  I went shopping last night for the first time since I can remember.  I cannot just be a prisoner in my own home while my husband does whatever he wishes.  If we do get divorced, then I will have the self worth and confidence to know I can make it.  If we fix things, then I will at least be happy in my own skin.  My epiphany is that the hyperfocused courtship really did wonders for someone with such little self esteem as I had, and I jumped into things too quickly.  It's time to stop wishing I had known all this before, and time to stop looking to my marriage for happiness, and work on it in other parts of my life.  My boys are all I need to be blissful anyways.  Thank you for your support!  I hope that your counseling continues to help you sort things out. 

I totally understand the

I totally understand the "getting away with it" feeling.  BIG TIME.  No one truly comprehends how difficult it is to be in an ADHD marriage/relationship.  I also know what you mean about feeling like you could cope if you felt loved and respected.  Totally true...and this is where their behavior changes come into play I think.  If I'm honest, many of his symptoms were there during the courtship hyperfocus stage, too.  He would say hurtful things, he was 20 mins late to our first date!  However I didn't have the same response to them then.  Why?  B/C he was also engaged and telling me how beautiful I am, how much he loves me, etc.  When you're not getting all of those daily affirmations AND you're getting the verbal assaults, outbursts, and general tardiness, etc...well, it makes it harder to look past those things.  However I can again see that I have some control, too, even w/o those daily affirmations.  When he blurts something hurtful out, I have control over whether I'll allow myself to immediately tumble into taking those words to heart and assuming malice behind them, or acknowledging the sting but also acknowledging that he likely has no concept of what he just said or how much it can hurt. 

PB- I want to high five you for putting in the kind of work you're trying to put in.  That is incredible.  That is something it feels most of us are missing.  But you are right, sometimes it just takes enough of the work from only 1 partner before changes start to be made.  How is it going w/ you?

Pbartender's picture

Sorry, A33ey, for the digression...

It's going patiently, quietly, lonely and slow...  But it is going.

Progress happens in small fits and starts, with one step back for every two steps forward.

DW is friendly, but distant...  She has become slightly, but noticeably, more forgiving of my absent-mindedness.  I look for opportunities for the two of us to do things together just as friends, but try not to push it.  Right now, she makes a lot of excuses not to, and tends to exclude me in her activities.  Last weekend, on the day before my birthday, she took the kids to the zoo without me, even though I had the day off and would have loved to go.  Tonight, she's attending a co-worker's birthday party, and invited one of my few remaining friends to go with her (I'm not sure if he's actually going...  he's not a terribly dependable guy that way), instead of me.

I continue to work on myself.  I do my best to not let what I can't control about the situation get me down.  I'm being a little more proactive about completing several home improvement project that have been waiting on the docket.  I'm spending a little more time taking care of the chores (and not complaining about them inside my head).  I'm making an effort to spend more "quality" time with the kids -- DS and I went canoeing yesterday afternoon.  I'm making plans to do a few things on my bucket list that would make me happy...  I just registered for a Motorcycle Training Class, so I can learn to ride and get the "M" on my driver's license.  A lack of finances sometimes gets in the way of my efforts at all this (I've got a dozen home improvement projects that I really haven't forgotten about, but just don't have the money to complete), but my main goal is to pay down some of our debt to get a little breathing room.

It can be rough at times, but I've had some recent epiphanies that have left me feeling better about it, no matter how it turns out.  It's a good thing I'm too stubborn to give up.  I've already come close once or twice.

We're not where I'd like us to be, by any means, but I'm doing as well as can be expected, considering the circumstances.



You are in debt and instead

You are in debt and instead of using your extra time getting an extra job or finding ways to make your financial situation better, you are "making plans to do a few things on my bucket list that would make me happy..."  and "registered for a Motorcycle Training Class."  This is just like my DH.  While I was working 12 hour days and stressed out and worried about our finances, he was "taking some time off" because he "worked hard for a long time now" and he "deserved to take it easy for a while". It turned out to be a long while. Good bye savings!  Savings are gone now.  Good Bye sex, are you kidding me? Why would I want to have sex with someone who is making me stressed while he is happy as a clam enjoying his freedom from responsibility?  The fun can only come when the work is finished first.  Otherwise, someone else has to do the work for you.  And that person may not be happy working hard watching you spending money enjoying yourself. Non-ADDers like to have fun too.

Like right now.  My son is having a wedding party of 130 people here in our home in less in than 2 weeks.  DH promised to do a number of things around the house.  I started getting the house ready a few months ago. There is no way now that DH can possible finish all the things he has promised to do.  He spends most of his time "enjoying himself" doing crossword puzzles and listing to the radio, smoking and chatting.  Right now he is cutting down brush in the woods? This is unnecessary, while the garage, where we are putting the party tent attached to is a dirty mess he promised to clean. I

I cannot count on his promises or his cooperation if we try to work together on something. Part of love is trust and faith.  When someone is more intent on having a good time by themselves than carrying out responsibilities and promises, love suffers.

Pbartender's picture


Slow down just a little, Jenna...  In the interest of keeping the previous post short, I left out a lot of details.  It's not quite what you think.

Both my wife and I work full time jobs.  Since we got married, I've held two different jobs, working at the same laboratory.  The first job included working a rotating shift, mandatory overtime, working 12 hour shifts, working weekends, working holidays... it was like being constantly jet lagged.  I did that for seven years.  I transferred to a job with a regular day shift, but we're a government funded laboratory, and so we've been on a pay freeze for the last two years.  Living expenses have gone up, but my paycheck hasn't.

One by one, over the years, I gave up all my hobbies, because my wife always complained about not quite having enough money to do the things she wanted to.  If that wasn't enough, I'd rework the budget to find a way to pay for what she wanted...  sometimes that meant putting it on a credit card.  But I always made sure the bills were paid.

My paycheck goes into our joint account, and gets used to pay almost all the bills -- mortgage, utilities, phone bill, insurance, both our student loans, all the credit cards, my car payment.  Plus I have to find money for the kids' school registration, hot lunches at school, my daughter's violin rental and lessons.  Not to mention, now I have to also pay for my meds, my doctor visits, and session with my ADHD coach and anything else that might crop up.  I don't have a whole lot spare money left over, and most of that goes to gasoline, extra payments to the credit cards, or maybe the occasion bit of family entertainment -- a movie, or ordering pizza or something like that.

When my wife started working, she opened her own private checking account.  Her paycheck goes there.  She pays for her car payment, our cell phone bill and the groceries.  Everything else, she gets to spend as she likes...  Once or twice a week, she'll go to a party, she goes out to the bar after work with coworkers, she takes her friends out to dinner or a movie.  But she complains about not having enough money to fill her tank with gas.  She just got a promotion, with a decent raise, and I probably won't see any of it to help with the bills.

So, in an unusual role reversal for an ADHD marriage, she's the one who gets to go out and enjoy herself whenever she likes, while I'm the one who gets stuck at home, making sure all the unfun business gets taken care of.  (Grrr...  A little bit ranty, here.  Sorry.)

Now, when I say I'm paying down debts, I mean it...  My wife's student loan will be paid off in another two months, freeing up a few hundred dollars a month, and I'll have two credit cards paid off by next spring, which will free up a bit more.  Some of that I'm rolling over into the payments for the next credit card inline to start "snowballing" our debt payments.  But I am going to set a little bit of that aside every month so I can get a few hobbies back. 

When I talk about my bucket list, here's a few things at the top of the list...

  • I've always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, but never took the chance, since I couldn't afford to buy one.  In Illinois, the DMV offers a FREE three-day long motorcycle safety training course.  If you pass the course, you can get the motorcycle classification added to your driver's license without taking the written test or the road test.  Since the beginning of summer, I brought coffee from home in a Thermos instead of buying it at work, and saved that $2 a week to pay for the $23 registration fee.  Buying an actual motorcycle or moped will come MUCH later, and it doesn't matter if I can't buy one now, I still want to learn.
  • I miss making music.  Once DW's student loan is paid off, I'd like to save up a couple hundred dollars to buy myself a used trumpet or cornet or baritone for Christmas.  I want to get back into practice and maybe play a duet or two with my daughter on her violin.
  • When I was a kid, my dad would go canoeing on the Mississippi River all the time.  It was one of my fondest memories of him.  For the last 12 years, I've wanted to buy my own canoe, but kept putting it off, because there were always other things to pay for.  Yesterday, while DD and DW were otherwise engaged, I borrowed a canoe from a friend and went paddling on the river with DS...  We were out in the fresh air and sunshine, getting a bit of exercise, having a grand father-son chat the whole while, and he genuinely enjoyed it.  IT's hard to get him outside and exercising.  I want to save up another couple hundred dollars so that I can buy a canoe for him and me before next summer.
  • My grandmother's 100th birthday is next April.  I want to make sure we have the money to make the trip up to Minnesota for the party.
  • One year from next month would be our 15th wedding anniversary.  If she hasn't left by then, and things are going well, I'd like to plan for something truly special to celebrate, if I can find the money for it.

I'm not planning on taking it easy...  I've got a lot of work to do on myself.  But I do need to take just a little time once in a while to do something I enjoy.  Even my wife has recognized that.



You seem to be carrying your

You seem to be carrying your load. Thanks for explaining. She seems to be the one who is being selfishly irresponsible now that you explained it so well.  She seems to be the one who places her own self over the relationship.   So we are in a similar situation of frustration with our spouses who feel entitled.  So it doesn't seem to be a matter of ADD.  It almost seems to me to be a matter of us being doormats.  Some of us are not deemed special in our significant other's lives.  We have been taken advantage of while all we wanted to do was to support and understand and make THEM feel special.  To some people, that is the description of co-dependency.  To some people that is the definition of love and marriage.  It depends on the spouse who is the recipient of the support and understanding as to what they will do with it.  My DH uses it to feel special by himself rather than special as a couple.  He uses my "giving" to him to feel like a winner and cool dude who must spread around his "wonderfulness" to everyone in inappropriate ways.  My reaction had been to give more because I saw him as having a small ego that needed to be nurtured.  Now, I must stop being a doormat and stop supporting and understanding and disconnect because it has worn my self down to a 0. I will find my dignity and not accept being treated poorly by someone who claimed they loved me. 

Life can go by and if all you did was work for "some day", you have not lived well.  The free motorcycle class and used trumpet now seem to make sense now because you certainly sound like you have done all the other work first. Spending time with the kids and family is exactly the best thing for us to be focusing on.  Me too. I am taking my focus away from him entirely and on to other members of the family who have not seen the best of me while I tried so damn hard to have a relationship with someone who was acting and talking like he was single.  I can love myself and my children and family and friends a little more and shine my light where I can.

Ferris Buehler: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Pbartender's picture

Yep, the big difference

Yep, the big difference between a loving relationship and co-dependency is when you devote so much time and effort into trying to make your spouse happy, that you neglect your own happiness.

During the period when we knew something was wrong, but we didn't know what, I had a lot of that going on...  We either thought it was something with her and I'd do everything I could to accommodate her, or we thought it was me (but hadn't yet realized it was ADHD) and I'd do everything I could to fix a problem I didn't have.  Either way, I was putting all my effort into solving problems to keep her happy.  It never worked for long, and I ended up losing all my friends, hobbies, confidence and self-respect.  In return, she also lost confidence and respect in me, and thereby fell out of love with me...  How can you love someone you don't respect?

So, if I go back to being the person I want to be, I need to get back that confidence and self-respect, otherwise I'll never have the strength to keep all this up for as long I need to.  Reclaiming a few friends and hobbies and extras like that to keep myself happy and sane is essential right now.

"I am taking my focus away from him entirely and on to other members of the family who have not seen the best of me while I tried so damn hard to have a relationship with someone who was acting and talking like he was single.  I can love myself and my children and family and friends a little more and shine my light where I can."

That's exactly what I'm trying to do as well.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  - Theodore Roosevelt.



At this point, my husband

At this point, my husband claims to be trying to accommodate me but actually he's not doing the things that I've said I'd appreciate him doing:  helping with a modest amount of housework and looking for a job.  He also does not seem particularly focused on improving himself.  I'm trying to improve myself.  I don't want to come off as self-centered; I don't think I am.  It would be nearly impossible for me to not do things for my family.  But I'm also trying to make myself happier and increase my already high autonomy and independence.

I think I could more easily accept my husband not accommodating me on the issues that are important to me, for example, helping around the house, if he were honest about it.  "Hey, honey, I know that me vacuuming is important to you, but I just don't have time for it and I'm not going to do it."  But what really bugs me is that he claims that he wants to help me and that he's always nice but then doesn't actually do the things he says he'll do.  This seems dishonest and disrespectful.

Good for you

I wish that my husband had your attitude.  You seem very balanced in both your empathy for what is going on in your situation and also keeping yourself in perspective and taking care of yourself.  Awareness seems to be a good portion of the battle. 

Pbartender's picture

Shut up and eat your goddam lemons.

As my dearly departed father always so eloquently put it:  "When life gives you lemons... Shut up and eat your goddam lemons."




So... Monday went well, we really liked the therapist and the appointment seemed to help.  It's been a few days, and now it is like my ADHD husband has completely flipped a switch.  He has gotten up with the boys while I slept, told me he loved me, hugged me, talks to me, watched the olympics with me, and said, "is there anything you would like me to do for the next hour before I head back to work?"

Don't get me wrong, I'm soooo happy with this change and appreciate all of it, and there are some better feelings brewing.  BUT how can he go from almost filing for divorce to this in one weekend while I suffer from extreme emotional exhaustion, not eating and not sleeping...  I've dropped weight and I'm in shell shock still.  I know I haven't changed a bit, but he sure has!  I'm very happy about that but terrified that it's going to stop after the novelty of the therapy starts to wear off.  I guess I"m just in negative thinking mode and should embrace it.  Maybe things got so bad we didn't know how to turn them around and he viewed the first appointment as cleaning the slate?  Fingers crossed that things only go up from here!


I am hoping your "marital bliss" continues.  Hubby and I had this from January to April, when he started his Adderall.  It was a total dream come true.  Something I had never had before.  Loving cooperation, help without asking/begging/reminding.  Then it all went away. I have spent the last few months trying like hell to figure out why, but he is seemingly content just gong back to the old way of life.

Enjoy it while you have it.  Keep the communication going and make mental notes on what it is that's making it work.  Apparently we didn't :(

Dontknow's picture

"I'm just trading one set of issues in for another"

This particular comment concerns me - this issue has for a while now... I commonly justify my painful situation by saying that I am given what I can handle and that we all have our issues - good and bad. I begin to base my sense of self-worth on whether or not I am magnifying my value of loyalty and commitment at all times. In this process I feel I have lost loyalty for myself.

Not all issues are created equal. Sometimes enough is enough. Figuring out that tipping point is the tough part. I do not yet have children yet - we have two dogs. I don't know what side of the scale I am on. I love him to no end, I will love him whether or not I have a body to express that love. At the same time, I don't think I have what it takes to take care of him and make the kind of sacrifices that have twisted and contorted my spirit, brought out a resentful streak I've never before known, and tied my hands to complete my own work.

Bad things have happened - how many bad things are too many? How much trial and error before my life stops becoming preventing "trading in one set of issues for another" and becomes seeking my full potential in a setting where I am not so upset from all the chaos that I am up at 1:30 - now, make that 3:30 - the night before a presentation, having spent most of the day so upset I was unable to work?

Has anyone found other questions to ask that draw out answers? I read the '9 Tips for When Non ADHD Spouses can't take anymore' and I don't feel satisfied with these. They aren't getting the wheels turning. The idea of "trading sets of problems" is running roughshod over my self esteem. Plus, I'm feeling less hopeful as I'm reading things like this:

"If all of our marriages could meet in the middle by combining an understanding and patient non-ADHD spouse with an ADHD spouse who takes responsibility and action to control the symptoms, things could get a lot better.  The tricky part is getting both to do it at the same time."

"Medication will sometimes make a remarkable difference, but it doesn't always work or it may only partially help. Furthermore sometimes it generates unpleasant side effects that eliminate its use."

Funny enough, after one of our big fights my husband bought the book and promised we'd take time that next weekend to read together - you can guess what happened... 

I sincerely appreciate that this forum exists. Thanks for sharing and for accepting my sharing. I'm mortified about my problems, so only two of my friends, my mother and father and his father know about our them.  One of those friends is on the other side of the globe. Everything else is keeping up appearances, well, except for bills, they have probably already created a metric to target ADD adults (sorry to get snarky)... I have never been on a forum before, but I hope to learn more about ADD from those who have it, and those who love those who have it.


Wowser, I've had Such Like Experiences!

First off the blaming behavior.

Though my husband hasn't been diagnosed, I'm quite sure he has one of the unfortunate add on's to adhd, more common in men, ODD.

From the sounds of it, it's likely your husband does too.

It's very unfortunate that so many folks associate ODD with criminal behavior since in the milder forms it just pretty much goofs up relations in the interpersonal way.

(My stepson seems to have more moderate symptoms than even my husband.)

It's unfortunate, but true, that mental health issues can stem from how we've been treated by a spouse. Been to that party.

Insurance is just a bit unforgiving on that front.

My efforts to "save us" were viewed exactly as you describe. My husband perceives normal conversation as criticism. I learned this early on in counseling, long before his diagnosis.

It really is like a spouse truly believes you're out to get them, which I didn't get at first.

Asking for help with the dishes would land a verbal assault n possibly slamming dishes into the dishwasher.

I so wish there wash more info on adult ODD out there. All you see when you try n get a read is ridiculous stuff about criminal behavior in the severe form of ODD.The problem truly is that's not the majority case as I've learned.

I also had the absolutely horrid experience of a marriage counselor that announced he had add.

Man, that was the worst. He'd white wash my husband's outrageous behavior then forget half the shit that went on during the last session. It just added to our marital tailspin.

My self esteem, too, fell into the crapper. In our marriage the lack of relations from my husband being a key issue.

I judged myself... "Am I not a good enough wife, am I not pretty enough, etc, etc" Really it wasn't any of that. I'd never faced that issue in any other relationship. The problem was on the other end n, oh my, was it ever a problem.

The maid thing I won't even get into because it's extreme. Suffice it to say, he wanted me to serve all the mommy functions without being a reciprocal partner.

My husband tends to fudge the truth about our actual issues, so I've definitely had those awful moments with family as well. It's super flipping embarrassing.

(This is a second marriage n I've so never seen anything like this. I'm super tight with my ex's family n he would be glad to say I'm his best friend.)

The "put on the face" thing is a lot about not recognizing others needs which translates to a complete lack of empathy, if ya wanna be honest with yourself. Took me a long time to admit that one.

My husband has no recognition of stuff like when another person might be hungry. It's just not on his radar.

I definitely have anxiety about the idea of any more marriage counseling. (I hear ya there sister!)

N no I doubt my husband sees the gravity of the situation, in that I will eventually leave him without change.

It surely induces a fear that no one would have imagined.






Bilf, I could have written most of your post myself.  We are in crisis right now, so my anxiety is coming back.  I'm having panic attacks in the morning, stomach issues, and I'm exhausted from being up with the kids at night (because of my stress, my milk seems to be stopping, I'm freaking out.  My baby was sleeping through the night and now he is up every hour and a half hungry, DH's mother's solution: put him on formula!).  My 3 year old has nightmares.  Because I "laid down" last night at 7:00, my husband (after being gone all day running in his corporate track meet and yardsaling) said I needed to get up with the kids.  I told him I felt sick because of all that was going on.  He said "do you have a fever?"  He doesn't see it.  He was up last night on the computer and watching the DVR'd olympics until midnight.  My 3 year old walked in at 7:30, as he does every day.  He said, "Daddy, where is my hippo"?  And he screamed at me, "GET HIM OUTTA HERE!"  Then I start to cry, my babies see me... it's awful.  I got up and found his dear hippo, got him dressed and got the baby ready, alone, once again.  Now I want to go to church for just one hour, and I'm getting criticism.  I can't wait until our appointment tomorrow.  Something's gotta give.  I'll probably end up on antidepressants again, which I hate.

Dunno If You Read My Previous Post

About my husbands outbursts.

No amount of counseling did a dang thing. In fact it seemed they'd get worse when he was actually trying to suppress them.

The only thing whatsoever that put a dent in them was when he got on an antidepressant himself (N yes, I've had the experience of situation anxiety n depression over my marriage), for him it was Zoloft.

It does feel flipping ridiculous to hafta medicate yourself in order to stay married to your spouse, but I've walked that line too.


Domestic Abuse

Just wanted to interject again, how many of the posts here seem like they reflect domestic abuse-- ADHD or not. If your significant other is yelling or bellowing at you, manipulating you, breaking things, threatening you, making you feel guilty for things he is doing, denying your basic emotional needs as a human being, intentionally pushing or denying you sexually, alternating between loving you and being abusive to you--they don't need to be hitting you for it to be abuse.

Abuse can cause severe fracturing of your self perception and your ability to care for yourself. The dissociation many of you describe (pulling away from your other or expecting nothing from them) can actually be symptoms of this fracturing -- trying to feel like you control something that you can't control. Feeling like you are partly to blame may sound legitimate, but sometimes taking that responsibility can be a way to try and reclaim some control of your life, when you actually don't have any.

Check out abusive personalities on the web and see if your spouse qualifies. (And just because you respond to abuse with your own version of abuse doesn't make you an abuser! ) You may be slowly heading down a path of no return and not really understand what is happening to you.

If you like heavy reading, "Counseling Survivors of Domestic Abuse" by Sanderson  is an eye opener on what continual abusive behavior (especially alternating between "love" and abuse) does to a person. "It's My Life Now" is a lighter read, but also very helpful.

Again, ADHD or not, abusive behavior is not OK. Abusers rarely change, for whatever reason. They are much more likely to change you and you may never have seen it coming when you wake up one morning and realize you don't have a shred of self esteem left and are only a shell of the person you used to be.

Don't spend all your resources trying to help someone who doesn't want it -- only to find yourself completely used up and gone.



And just because you respond

And just because you respond to abuse with your own version of abuse doesn't make you an abuser! 

This is helpful.  Thanks. I WAS blaming myself for verbally abusing DH in our later years.  Giving him some of his own medicine. Sometimes just to feel how his mind might be working so I could try to understand.  I will read the two books you suggested, lynnie.  I will add to the reading list all of the books on How to recognize verbal abuse and how to respond.  Verbal abuse can have a covert silent look to it that you wouldn't guess is verbal abuse until you read about it there.  Verbal abuse is all about power.

Cycle of Neglect

I just read a page online Amazon "Its' My Life Now" where it draws a diagram circle about a healthy marriage which includes the cycle of: honeymoon, leads to tension-building, leads to problem-solving, leads back to honeymoon. Then starts over again.  The Cycle of Abuse goes: honeymoon, to tension-building, to explosion (abuse,violence).  That is not our cycle (unless you consider neglect as abuse).  Ours is: honeymoon, leads to tension-building, leads to me trying to problem-solve and him ignoring and pulling away and being distant (ADD neglect), then the honeymoon doesn't start again anymore like it used to.  Neglect is abuse of trust and has no place around the word "love".

Thanks, jennalemon.  Your

Thanks, jennalemon.  Your succinct description of your cycle sounds like my relationship, too.

Pbartender's picture

That's not far so from ours,

That's not far so from ours, either...   Honeymoon >>> mutual neglect >>> tension-building >>> DRAMA! >>> I hyperfocus on finding a solution that doesn't work >>> pseudo-honeymoon during which we pretend everything's okay.

I never yelled or shouted or hit my wife, but for me one of the toughest things to deal with was the fact that so many of the things I did and said when I was at my worst danced right through the middle of that no-man's land where things start moving over into emotional abuse.  It never happened intentionally, and that's perhaps what frightened me the most about it.  The fact that I could treat someone I love like that -- even if in justified response to something they did -- that I could do it without realizing that I was doing it, and that I could do it without understanding at the time what it meant to my wife...  It crushed me.

When things become highly emotional, the temptation to use those sorts of tactics can be huge.   I used to be so much better at keeping that temptation under control.  Somewhere along the line, I lost the self-awareness, the self-respect and the confidence it takes to control our base emotions and deal with personal problems in a respectful, caring, healthy way.

That emotional control is one of the things about who I used to be that I've lost, and am trying to regain.



I am so sorry for you

I don't have any answers for you other than its not your fault and nothing you have done , deserves this treatment. Monday is a start but it won't be cured tomorrow. I made the mistake of thinking once we got to Counselling, all would be ok. Most important part for all parties to know IMO.... It's no one fault, having ADHD doesn't mean it has to be a negative, no one makes us do anything, we are responsible for only ourselves ( meaning,no one can control how other thinks, feels or reacts). Having said all of that . In our cases, untreated ADHD is destroying our lives. That isn't anyone's fault unless we do nothing about it). Biggest irony of all, I have add. I was on Ritalin so much it stunted my growth as a child. Because I went to a special school, failed math 3 times, went for Counselling for decades, became certified in Reality Therapy and Control Therapy, took Mindful Awareness classes and carry around a day timer where I write Everything down so I don't forget. Do I have milder add ? I have no idea because he won't even entertain the idea that I I might actually know what he is going through. We are a team and he is choosing to make our lives hell by digging his heels in the sand. Our way doesn't work. What is so scary about trying something different that has proven successful results. I just want me and you to have enough time in my case and patience in yours for this process to work