First of all, I want to say thank you to Dr. Hallowell and Melissa Orlov for such an incrediby helpful site.
I am an ADHD spouse. I am 39 and have been married to my wife for 15 years. I was diagnosed with very mild Asperger's Syndrome (AS) at the age of 37 and then at 38 my therapist suggested I may have NLD instead. Bottom line: Both I and my doctors believe that I am somewhere on the "high end" of the autism spectrum and until about 5 months ago, all of my treatments and coping strategies focused on that.
An incident about 5 months ago led me to ask my therapist whether I had ADHD. I couldn't see how my ADHD traits were a pattern and not an isolated incident, so I didn't really expect my therapist to take the idea seriously. But when she said that all of her other AS/NLD clients have some form of ADHD, I immediately made an appointment with my doctor and researched ADHD. I then learned about ADHD primarily inattentive (ADHD-I). (For those of you who do not have ADHD, I cannot even begin to explain how utterly surreal it is to read something like a description of ADHD-I, instantly recognize you have it, then recognize you've had it your entire life, and then realize how many incidents you thought had nothing to do with each other were all linked.) Anyway, I got a diagnosis, am on medication, have regular follow--up appointments with my doctor, and continue to get therapy.
I now feel like ADHD-I, not AS or NLD, has been my #1 obstacle in life. This discovery has been very valuable because the tips I've picked up for coping with ADHD have been much more helpful (for me) than the tips I've picked up for AS/NLD. I know I have a lot more to learn and am working hard to compensate for my weaknesses. I am proud of the fact that I was open-minded and proactive enough to recognize I had a problem, sought out a diagnosis on my own, take medication, get therapy, and read wonderful sites like this. Also, my wife and I are in couples counseling. I have a very successful career (albeit at the expense of my marriage in the past) and contribute financially to the family. That's the good news (I think).
The bad news is that I am coming to terms with how much damage I've done to my relationship with my wife.
* For most of our marriage, I was not very helpful around the house.
* For the first few months after our first child was born, I wasn't very helpful with the baby, either.
* My wife is a giver. I have been a taker. I probably still am.
* I have a tendency to interpret everything literally. This causes all sorts of communication problems. I know this. I don't like it. I want to stop doing it. I have no idea how. When I am told I take things literally and I am given the non-literal explanation, I think I do a good job at not getting defensive. And I am usually very good at seeing how the literal words could have been used in a non-literal way. But none of this helps prevent the tendency to take things lierally. The mere awareness that I have this tendency is quite literally (no pun intended) worthless as a tool for preventing me from doing it.
* My wife is exhausted and has tried to tell me in so many ways, but I'm unable to see the big picture. When she mentions specific examples, I think I do a decent job at fixing those specific problems. But she tells me I am not getting the big picture and haven't fixed the root cause. I accept that.
* My wife feels intense sadness, hurt, disappointment, frustration, anger, and rage at me. I'm starting to understand how my actions have impacted her.
* I have a tendency to hyperfocus at the expense of her, the kids, the house.
I am trying very hard to make changes, but I worry it may be too little too late. She has engaged in classic character assassination (attacking me personally, questioning my integrity, intelligence level, telling me she doesn't respect me, etc.). She is dismissive of my feelings. She has shouted at me in front of our kids, threatened me with divorce in front of the kids, and physically attacked (she even did this once in front of the kids). I am starting to wonder if there is a vicious cycle going on, where the more emotional stress I feel, the more my ADHD symptoms impact my behavior.
I am finding it incredibly demoralizing to be treated in such a combative way. I sometimes think about giving up on the marriage. I take responsibility for my mistakes (to the best of limited ability to understand them), but I also feel that I deserve to be treated with respect.
Thanks for listening. Any words of advice or encouragement would be appreciated.