The Death of a Dream...

I am new...  My husband was diagnosed about 9 years ago with adhd.  i keep holding on to hope for a marriage with a partner who is consistently the same each day  but i fear it will never come to pass.  we can have one good day, then 8 bad days, then 2 good days then 2 bad...  IT IS NEVER SMOOTH or consistent.  Our arguments about this invade our lives constantly and take us away from what is important:  working, raising a family and loving one another. 

I could solve all of this as the wife who would continue to always concede, fix the problems and pick up the pieces.  but i am loosing strength to do so.   i get scared thinking of growing old with a man whom i will have to care for more and more...  I already do everything from finances to reminding him to take his medicine and much more.

does the medicine (generic adderall) ever loose its potency and therefore someone must keep uping the doses?  it seems as if the problem is getting worse as the years go on. 

how long before concerta becomes generic?  that seemed to work better for him but we are without insurance at this time.

can you build up a "tolerance" to the adhd meds?

so happy to find this group.  I think you will all be my new life line.  I love my husband but i am beginning to resent the fact that I seem to be the caretaker rather than the wife/lover.  i have no interest in a romantic relationship with someone whom i am constantly caring for.  I am very disappointed in how this all turned out.  19 years of marriage...

My husband built up a tolerance to the meds

He tried Vyvanse and it worked great at first. He started working again. But a few months later it seemed like all the progress was gone, he was forgetting things, etc. His coach declined to work with him any more because he wasn't on the proper meds. He was switched to other drugs which had bad side effects. Now he's taking Concerta but they have upped his dosage again.

Other spouses have mentioned on this site having similar experiences with meds. I don't know the answer. I think eventually my husband may not get any more benefits from any meds.

Hey, holding on to hope-

I hope you will find some support and solace here.  I know I have.  It is very sad to be disappointed in a marriage; I have to remind myself sometimes that many people are disappointed in marriages that have nothing to do with ADHD.  My husband tends to be very contentious also.  We too have that good day/bad DAYS  pattern.  Coming to this forum has at least helped me to recognize that overall, he is trying- and that makes me feel a teensy bit better.  Yesterday, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the floor behind a chair.  I woke up to the sound of him washing dishes and shushing the children, "Mommy's tired."  That made him my hero! Those events are rare.  But maybe all the sweeter for  their scarcity?  It has affected our romance, also.  I am usually too tired and resentful to be romantic.  One thing I like about this forum is it does give me a glimpse behind the veil, so to speak.  I had not really considered his internal life for a long time; primarily because my own internal dialogue has been such a long, drum beat of despair.  I like reading posts from folks with ADHD who give me clues as to what/how they process information.  And venting here gives me the opportunity to have my anger and disappointment acknowledged, so then I have a bit more energy to acknowledge him.  Best wishes and welcome.

Wife of an adhder

I have been only married to my adhder for 7.5 years. My husband was diagnosed adhd as a child but his parents refused him medication. As an adult he has been on and off of generic Adderall. We do not have insurance so he had to take it twice a day because the extended release was to expensive. In my husbands case he did require more and more to function, however he began to lose weight. My husband works many hours in another town so he would take the Adderall with him so he could take is second dose in the middle of the day. Being the adhder he is he would forget to take it sometimes or not remember if he took it or not so he would go take more. He started to abuse it after a while I don't think it was intentional (he would have been better on the extended release). At this point he is not taking any meds. I didn't see a huge change in his behavior from the Adderall, I did notice he was a little less hyper but is some ways he was a bit more irritable.

I understand what you mean about being the wife that always concedes and trys to fix things and picks up the pieces. I have 3 small children but many times it feels like I have 3 small children and one big kid. I love my adhder very much, he has many good qualities about him he just has adhd holding him down. At this point I am learning (trying) to overlook all the small annoyances that come for living with adhd (one child has adhd too) things like cabinet doors never getting shut, water always left running and lights always left on. It's the big things that are harder to deal with. I take care of all the finances (he brings home the paycheck) I deal with all the appointments, shopping, planning, housework, children, and things like that plus I'm in college too. I have only recently started to learn about adhd and come to realize almost all of our relationship problems are common problems in an adhd marriage. I hope down the road I don't feel like I waisted my time with him altho I do worry that may happen.

It is hard to feel the husband/wife relationship when you feel like you are mothering your husband, it tends to become a mother/son relationship after a while, when that happens its hard to get the romance back. My marriage swings between husband/wife, and mother/son a lot. I've been starting to leave the adad at the bedroom door so to speak and that is helping to rekindle the husband/wife relationship. In my case the more "romantic" our relationship becomes the more responsive he is outside the bedroom. It's not a magic fix he still has the adhd, he just seems more willing to try and please me when I back off a bit (often gritting my teeth).

I had someone tell me to think of adhd as a "disability". If my husband became physically disabled such as loss of a limb would I help accommodate him or expect him to suck it up and deal with it alone. I'm still not sure what I think of that analogy.

At this point in my adhd marriage I am hopeful.

 Good luck to you and your husband


Hey, your husband sounds a lot like mine, but my husband is not medicated and does not believe he has ADD.  My husband also has many good qualities; sometimes its hard to see them through my own frustration.  He is also more responsive outside of the bedroom when we are more "romantic".  And I too have spent many years overlooking those small things, though it can wear on you a bit.  But he is faithful, moral and a good provider- though I also work outside the home.  I came across the post that asked spouses to identify good things about your spouse with ADD.  It got me to thinking about when/where ADD can be a useful trait.  One of my complaints about my husband is he "zones out" staring at the TV, computer, or when playing his guitar.  I realized that I have been taking good advantage of this every year at my daughter's school Christmas program (3 hours long!).  The first year, I went- and shot myself 30 minutes into it, I was so bored.  Every year since, I have sent my husband.  He activates his super-hero-like special "zone out" powers to sit through the entire program!  God, I appreciate that!  

waynebloss's picture

ADD here

I have ADD and I left the finances and the adult life up to my wife up until this year!  I was diagnosed with ADD in June, I am 41, so for 11 years my wife has been the adult and I did not understand during those 11 years what I was doing to her. When I was diagnosed, we were very close to the bottom of our marriage, it was then that I was shown what I did and how it hurt her deeply.  Once I started on medication and started counseling, I have done a 180 in my part of this family, but I hurt my wife so bad that we are separated at this time.  She stated she needs space and time to start healing, to regain strength for our marriage, but with ADD I do not know if I was able to see it in time?

  I have taken the finances over from her, she has nothing to do with it, I understand why it became too much and she stopped!  I get why people with ADD often do not handle the harder tasks of adult/married life and I also understand how tiring it can be for those that support us with ADD and I personally thank you.  I have started to become more social and work on my issues and my changes so that I can be a better person when my wife decides she wants in or out.  I sometimes find it hard to understand why grown men, who know they have ADD, understand what it does continue to live like they do?  I changed because I wanted to and my wife was out the door with the kids adn I cannot lose my kids so I pushed into changing!  Once I started down this path, I wanted it for me as well as my family, which is why I am confused as to why men/women continue to act like they do when KNOW what they are doing is wrong?  Is it because of the non-add spouse enabling them with the support?  I am not accusing, just find it hard that adults with ADD faced with losing EVERYTHING if changes are not made why are they not changing?  Scared? Are the enabled to act this way because of the support? 

I am a nurse as well and I do know that people can become tolerant to medication if taken for a long time.  This is why one who is taking medication should be seen by their PCP at least every 3-6 months to monitor the effects.  This should also include the spouse as well for outside observations.  I am currently taking Vyvanse and I am seeing my PCP every 3 months along with notes my wife takes to give to the doc to let him see if it working or a change is needed.  So far no change is far!



Wayne- looking back, any advice?

Congrats to you for making a 180 not just for your family but for you. I hope that in time everything will work out in your marriage. I noticed you said you are 41. Looking back is there any advice you would give yourself at the age of 28? My husband made improvements when he was faced with losing the kids and I, but hes still young (28, I'm 31) and has more to make. He is not medicated due to no insurance and past miss-use of the medications. I have hopes that as he ages he will continue to make improvements. Do you think aging/maturing has anything to do with learning ways to deal with adhd? As the non I do take on almost all the family responsibilities (except earning the money). This can become stressful at times, I don't want to feel resentful as the years go by and I don't want to enable him. I want to find a happy median. Any ideas?

waynebloss's picture

I have a few

I will say that I do believe that maturity has something to with me wanting to change and staying on course with those changes.  The advice I can give is DO NOT ENABLE the ADD person!  My wife enabled me for 12 years and it has us at the bottom!  Be supportive but hold him accountable for his actions and for himself. Make sure he does not pass blame on ADD but understand why he makes mistakes, forgets things or just messes up, as long as he take credit and does not blame ADD alone then it will be fine!  I am very happy to hear a youngER man has started to change for the better, it will make growing old with a much smoother journey! 

So here are my top things to find a happy particular order!

1. Education and seeing a counselor was the starting point for my changes! Understanding what ADD is, how it effects  and knowing how to control it is THE most important thing for him.
2. Do Not Enable him
3. Take of yourself 1st—THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO. You are not ignoring him or forgetting about him but you cannot lose yourself to him and ADD and stay strong forever! Take a you break and recharge, we (ADD folks) are a handful!
4. Hold him accountable for his actions
5. Give positive praise, not only for the big stuff but the small stuff as well!
6. Let him know that he messed up, but make it non-threatening, make it light. It will be received soooo much better!
7. Make sure that he is changing for himself 1st then for your kids (if you have any) and your marriage. If he is not doing for him 1st it will not stick!
8. Setup reminders – I have a calendar appt book where I write everything, email reminders, phone reminders, sticky notes, and I still forget some things! Habits are hard to make so any assistance will be very helpful
9. Communicate! Do not stop talking to each other about ANYTHING. If it becomes stressful take a time out, regroup then discuss again. This has been the biggest issue between my wife and I.
10. Remember that we are people also, we have feelings just like everyone else we just some of them differently!
11. Use our ADD in a positive way…someone posted that the school concert was very boring, but ADD folks can hyper-focus for HOURS so she has her husband attend. He looks like he is watching the whole thing and their daughter has a smile on her face. Find ways that ADD can help you and your marriage!
12. Have him start a journal for himself where he can write ANYTHING he wants! Getting it out on paper then being able to read it later will save many a fight, bad thought from being spoken and it will allow him time to re-think his thoughts before he acts on them! This is has been a LIFE saver for me….I hate to write, but the journal and this website has allowed me to think before I act.

This is not the perfect list but I hope it helps!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!! 


holding on to hope's picture

thank you!

thank you wayne!  this really helped me.  however if i do not enable some things are life would be in shambles... sooo, how much do you let go, etc.  i do think that if he never really learns from his mistakes he will continue to do it, i just dont dare to let him...

holding on to hope's picture

my grammar and spelling are

my grammar and spelling are bad here...  maybe looking foolish...  just pretty worn out. 


I know what it means to enable in a general sense, could some one give some specific examples of enabling and ADDer?

I can give my input...because

I can give my input...because I am probably what some would consider "an enabler".

He doesn't want to do anything around the house, so instead of fighting with him..I do it all. He had a very 'traditional' upbringing...and i wanted to stay at home with my son (special needs) so we just agreed he'd work, I' everything else (did we?) ?? I grew up with two career working parents and my brother, sister, and myself cleaned the house and cooked. My Daddy washed all of the laundry...we all put away our own.

Making all appts for them. Taking their car to have the oil changed in it so that it doesn't blow up because they never get around to it. Buying Christmas gifts for people you don't even know so that they don't have to deal with it (or won't spend too much money). Basically just doing all of the things for them that 'adults' should be doing for themselves. When you enable someone, you make something in their lives that is negative easier for them to hang on to. Being forced to deal with the crap that can come with being ADD would be one way to stop enabling them.

I too am an enabler

I have been an enabler for 32 years for my ADD husband....I look back and sometimes think what dream life he has had.....

Yes he has been a worker, for which I am thankful,  but that is all he has done...had a job for most of it.

No housework at all... nil....Never got up with kids at night for feeding...never transported kids to sport on weekends...always had whatever money he wanted...but never worried about where and how we would pay other accounts....never helped with business books...never bought xmas birthday presents...never bought his own clothes or shopping of any kind...never helped when he invited everyone over for parties and BBQ's just turned up to eat and drink with them..never made appointments for himself...would ring me to ring other people to tell them things..would wait for me to get home from work so I could cook dinner clean up, do washing then go out and pick things up from his friends, because he didnt feel up to it.  All weekend he would be out with his mates on his latest hobby or focus and spending money we didnt have, while I mowed the lawns cleaned the gutters .  If I forgot something...heaven forbid...boy did I cop it...blame blame blame....

Thats what enabler does for an ADD partner.....but no more I stand my ground now..and things are slightly better...but I did do it for 32 years because if I didnt as others have said we would have been bankrupt...and in dire thoughts were ...someone had to do it and I knew all the asking of my still would never have been done.

If I had my time over...and know what I know now.. I may not have stayed as long as I it has been a lonely sad life for me....but Im still hanging in there and hoping that things will keep improving...but not so much enabling are grown up and I can let things go.

I too am an enabler

I'm way quilty of enabling for most of my 29 years of marriage to my ADHD husband.  Most of what you have written in your post has been my life, too.  Boy, what a disaster!!!!!  But, until just recently, who really knew what the real problem was?  I'm sure most of us didn't.  So we have just lived in somewhat of a survival mode to the best of each of our abilities.  How scary!!!!!

My first husband was like that

and he doesn't have ADD. He actually expected me to sit up all night and hold the (newborn) baby in a room at the far end of our apartment so her crying wouldn't wake him. Also would call me from work to ask him to call someone on his behalf (like the garage where his car was being fixed) and then call him back. All long-distance calls, but if he called it would have been local. He never saw that I was "on duty" 168 hours a week, but he only worked a regular 40 hour week.

I am married now to a guy with ADD. He never does anything either, but I know it's not the nasty, male rules the roost attitude my first husband had. So it's a little easier to take, but not much.

I wish I knew the answer to this. I read about a study somewhere (I wish I could find it) where they found that a certain percentage of men would actually leave their wife before they'd do housework. I like to think that the male entitled attitude doesn't come with the Y chromosome but I am not sure.

Re: Inviting guest over and then not helping

That used to be my husband's favorite "trick".  He didn't invite his family often- or without my permission- but when he did, he would "mysteriously" be unavailable/not around to help with the preparations.  A year ago, he invited his sister and her husband (out of towners) for lunch.  I agreed and told him he had to help get the house cleaned up.  

A week went by; no housework on his part.  The day before the lunch, I told him (sweetly) I was going to call his sister and cancel lunch;  that I was, "...just too busy and tired to host lunch, what with the house being a wreck and no time to both cook and clean."  Boy, you should have seen him clean up the house then!  

The IDEA of canceling lunch was just so embarrassing to him that he was all, "What else do you need me to do...?" that entire day.  My husband is often motivated by avoiding embarrassment.  It seems he has an IMAGE he wants to present to his family, and he hates for me to do anything that makes others question the facade.

He is also invested in the IMAGE of his family of origin.  Once I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, and nobody in his family called me at all (until I mentioned to him how I couldn't believe those people  couldn't pick up a phone and show me a teaspoon of concern).  I told him he better not mention it to them, but I was pretty salty about it.  He was so embarrassed.  The next day, EVERYONE was calling me.

holding on to hope's picture

very sad with grief

I look around and see other couples in just the general public smiling at each other, making a connection and I just am so devestated that we have such a beautiful family on the outside and a horrible lonely and bad marriage truthfully.  we are believers and seriously i do not consider divorce an option.  but what i am left is a long and sad life of loneliness.  its like our marriage has died and i am grieving.


we see a counselor next friday...  i cant even imagine waiting this long for help. 


this is such a tragedy for me... for us and for 6 beautiful children...

Hi - 6 kids! I have two with

Hi - 6 kids! I have two with my husband and no more! I want more, but with him I can't see that being reasonable or mature. At least you have kids to help with the housework. We too are believers, but I really struggle in seeing how it is best to stay. I cannot control my depression or my anger which I take out on myself and the kids mainly. That is sinful. I have prayed and hoped and I am too worn out to try 100%. How is the sin of divorce worse than the sin or anger? He is faithful to me physically, but his adulterous is video games which control a lot of his life. I can see older couples where the husband ADD and they are living at almost poverty with zero savings. I am so scared to being left destitute.


Thanks Wayne for that. I also don't quite understand how to stop enabling. I heard on a radio call in show once about the husband trying to sabotages himself. Then when my husband did go to counseling they also talked about how he sabotages himself. Is that easier than dealing with working on ADD? Trying to change is a lot of hard work. I saw your point about how the ADDer has to want to change for themselves. Mine does not seem interested in doing so. Well, really interested for like 3 weeks and then it is back to his old ways - I suppose because it is hard work. Also because someone always bails him out of his problems. He can be charming and convincing!

Wayne, I think I mentioned this before or on another thread...but I really think my husband wants me to leave. Because it would take the heat off of him. How can I tell. Do I just leave and see if that works? I have not clue of what else to do? He refuses to get a job, so if I leave I am scared that he will quickly find a girlfriend so he will have a place to stay. 


One more question for anyone - What is the point of me going to counseling? I mean I go home and nothing is different. Is it just so I have a place to vent? I can do that hear or with one girlfriend. Husband and I have gone to mentoring for years which has not helped at all.


To southcoast

I read your story and seems so much like mine. I am also having a hard time letting go of the anger. I left my husband a few years ago and ended up going back, which is the worse thing I could have ever done. I went back because he refused to see or talk to our kids. I felt guilty and accepted him back. The problem is that he never did anything to get me back. He stayed his old self, not working, his dad supporting him. He is also charming and convincing, he can convince anyone of anything! Except convince himself that he has a problem that needs to be taken care of.

It is definitely hard work to change our ways. But I see that I really need to change because he never will. Or better yet, I can't change him, I can only change myself. You have to feel that you want to change for yourself not for him. This is a hard thing to do because I see myself struggling with it also. We have to take care of ourselves and hope that everything falls into place, weather that is our husbands will follow suit or just leave. My husband will never leave on his own. He is not much of a coward to do that. He can't even support himself.

I decide to change for me only. I don't' expect him to change. If he does it will be a plus, if he doesn't I guess I will have no option but to leave. I don't want it to be this way but if the ADD person does not see he/she has a problem and is not willing to take responsibility for themselves, then we can't do it for them. I have been trying so hard for so many years (13+) and it hasn't worked so far, and it won't. I can't control him, can't tell him what to do. I can only set my boundaries and expectations and hope for the best.

Counseling is good because it gives you a different perspective than your girlfriends. A professional may see things that other people may find hard to see. It's for your benefit, believe me. You need to take care of yourself. It's not fair to your kids that you take your anger on them. I did that a lot and it's not worth it.

Wish you luck.

One thing I feel is for

One thing I feel is for certain, he probably won't change unless he is 'motivated'. That is why I'm so puzzled (although I admire and respect anyone who has been married for 20, 30 + years tremendously) why people stay for so long without ever saying "enough is enough" and giving them to choice to either change (seek help, treatment, medication) or lose their families. God gave me the courage, after losing my father and getting a big fat healthy dose of 'life is TOO SHORT for this!', to finally say enough is enough and tell my husband "I'm done living this way...I'm going to make changes..I want you with me, but if you choose not to change with me, then our marriage will not survive" and I meant it more than I had ever meant anything EVER before..and he knew it. Before that, we spent 6 years playing the blame game, me crying myself to sleep, his empty promises, name calling, fighting...blah blah blah. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

As a believer, your husband has an obligation to Christ to love you as "Christ loved the church". To give of himself more than he asks in return. To make every decision he makes with your happiness in the forefront of his thoughts. To make sure you are never lonely. To make sure your physical and emotional needs are met....and if he doesn't know what those are, he needs to ask. Anything less, and he's not fulfilling his duty, to Christ, as your husband. You, too, have your duties...and obligations to him...but it sounds to me like you're already doing your part (standing by him, letting him be the man of the house).

I got so sick of looking at my self in the mirror and being so horribly angry all of the time...and couldn't even look my daughter in the eyes without feeling horrible about myself. That is what kept me going..kept me on track..and helped me let go of the anger...even when my husband made things very difficult for me to do so.



I feel for all of you...

I have ADHD (have had it all my life), married and 2 kids. I must say that our lives are nothing short of chaotic, for many reasons, but when you add someone like me to the mix it makes for pretty miserable lives for all around me: parents, siblings, wife and 2 boys. I am 100% honest when I tell you that I try. I try really hard to be a better husband, a better father, etc. but more often than not, is not enough. I am nowhere near being a good provider for my family, and have been called from loser, to piece of garbage, to incapable, and many more things. It is tough, really tough to accept that you are not "normal", that your brain is not the same as other people's, but sometimes it feels like everything is collapsing and crumbling right on top of you. The last thing I want to do here is make excuses for myself, or any other ADHDer, for that matter, but the honest truth is that I feel really terrible for all of you who have to live/put-up with someone like me. If I could leave you with one piece of advise, I would encourage all of you who are struggling with the decision to part ways from your marriage, JUST DO IT!! It might be a tough decision at first, but at the end of the day, we all know it will be for the better, for everyone involved. Best of luck to you all, and God bless!!

Tasmanian re: "I feel for all of you"

Tasmanian, your post made me so sad to read it.  No one should ever say such things to you.  My husband has made me plenty mad, but I have never called him a loser or a piece of garbage.  I don't believe that about him.  And I am angry for you that anyone would say such things to you.  Many people here are struggling to stay in their marriages.  We vent. I say things here that I wouldn't say to my husband (he is so sensitive that I cannot say anything to him at all).

When you say "put up with someone like me", I'm not sure what you are talking about.   When I read the posts, there are many common themes, but also different spouses have different things that really burn them up and different things that they CAN put up with.  For instance, Sherri doesn't seem to like how her husband handles money, but appreciates how affectionate and sweet he can be.  My husband is GREAT with money, but emotionally, he is like ice.   So the phrase, "someone like me" is over-generalized to me.  What are YOU like?

Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing more responses/venting from those with ADD.  I would love to hear more how things are from the other side of the glass.  For instance, corresponding with waynebloss has been very instructive for me, and I'm sure it has for others too.  Please, jump in.  Tell us all about it, if you can/want to   : )

Re: Tasmanian

Hear Hear. It would help so much for us non's.