Does he or doesn't he?

Hello, I'm new here and have been amazed at the amount of comfort I've found in reading other people's messages.  Finally I don't feel so confused and alone!  THANK YOU!!!

Without getting in to too many details, I have had a STRONG suspicion that my husband has ADHD (with a BIG emphasis on the "H"!!!) for as long as I've known him.  Now that I've begun reading things here, as well as reading the book "Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD?", I see SO many traits in him, and the coping skills I've adopted in response to his behaviors, that make me suspect this even more.

On a positive note, I have convinced him that he needs to get tested to find out if he does, in fact, have it.  But on the negative side, he had his first intake appointment with the facility that will do the test today and the person he spoke to remarked that they find it odd that he could have ADHD yet be relatively organized (he keeps the filing system in our house).  He can be very task-oriented and becomes like a dog on a bone with things, but he can never sit still for long enough to have a conversation, interrupts constantly, and just kicks up the level of stressful energy in our home ten fold just by walking in the door.  These are just a few of the traits I've seen (coupled with co-dependency issues with his children from a first marriage) and I am at the end of my rope and SO ready to leave, but financially it would be difficult and we have a 7-month old son.

I guess my question would be, is it possible to have ADHD and be able to focus selectively on things (i.e. household organization) that wouldn't normally be considered an ADHD person's strong suit? 

Even if he's diagnosed, he has flat out said that he refuses to take any medications, so I'm not sure how he'd manage it anyway, but I'd like to at least confirm that my suspicions are right. 

Anyone out there have experience with an ADHD spouse who can be organized and get things done when they want to?

Thanks in advance!


I was diagnosed with ADD about 1.5 years ago. I am in charge of the checkbook, and rarely mess up. I am very organized because a long time ago I knew I had trouble being organized and forgetful. Thank goodness I realized this and started becoming a list freak. When I first discovered MS Outlook at my job back around 1999, and began using the contacts, tasks, to-do's and reminder's I became organized, at least during the day while on my pc. I was an early adopter of the first PDA/Phone Nokia 7160 (I think) and it would sync with Outlook. Since then my pc reminds me of everything or my iPhone will. Chaos is my enemy, so I try to maintain order or I will lose things and not be able to find what I need, after procrastinating until it's almost too late in the first place. YES we can be organized and focused.

Interrupting during a conversation, check... Can't sit still, fidget constantly, check... Impulsive spending habits, check... Bad mood at the end of the day, check... Can't see an emotion on someone's face, check... Forgetful, check... "A" student or "D" student, check... Never admitting fault, check... Road Rage, check... I had a long check list, for sure...

There are many different faces on us ADDer's some are high functioning, some not so much. There is help out there for both the ADDer and the NonADDer, just keep reading your books and these posts. If your husband is willing to see a doctor about possibly having ADHD, that is a positive. I had NO idea, until anxiety attacks sent me to the doctor at age 40ish. When I began reading about ADHD I was shocked and relieved to discover that there was an explanation for the way I have always felt and behaved. Stimulant therapy, counseling and much reading have brought me a long way forward. There is still a long way to go...

I thought my wife was done with me, but I believe she see's me trying and is giving me a chance to re-tool myself.

I was REAL nervous about the meds too, but my doctor explained how they would help slow things down for me, which is the opposite of what I thought stimulants would do.

I wish you the best...

Thank you!  I know that

Thank you!  I know that ADD/ADHD can have many faces, and I was pretty sure that someone with it can be organized, so I appreciate you confirming that via your personal experience!  I was actually quite surprised when my husband told me what the "professional" had said, as I worry he'll be looking for any way out of dealing with these issues.  He's 50 now, and changing behavior never is easy, but especially for someone whose way of approaching the world is so ingrained at this point. 

If everyone plays along...

I have ADHD. I cannot prioritize very well. However, I can organize. When I test for jobs I always test high in librarian. This made no sense to me, but consider the fact that an ADD person will often be the calmest in the midst of chaos. I can organize chaos, but others need to play along or I lose interest (focus). ADDers can also focus on something, but we need to be the ones choosing what to focus on, or at least feel that we are the ones choosing :). We're not all the same though, so this is my experience. The problem we have at home is that the way I organize and the way my wife organizes is very different. If it is my task to organize and she doesn't play along she can still accomplish what she needs to, but I simply cannot. Find a system that works for you both and stick to it for his sake, and your sanity. You may be pleased with the results. Remember, he *wants* it to work!

So true!!!

Your first three sentences say it all - my husband can be organized, but cannot prioritize to save his life!!!  I hadn't thought of the distinction, but you make it so crystal clear!  Thank you!  Hopefully his testing in a couple of weeks will prove my suspicions and we can get on with addressing the problems! 


I'd also like to add that I have to keep whatever needs organizing in my "living space." If it's not where I tend to be in the house then I will not even consider the fact that it exists. Our filing cabinet is next to the computer desk in the main part of the house. The filing cabinet in the garage.... I know it's there, sometimes. But I have no idea what's in it, even though I have used it in the past. I call it "archives" -- not sure what's archived there though.  I also take all the doors off of closets b/c there is no way I can remember what's IN the closet if there is a door on it. duh! On a related note - I also have to hang my pants from hooks on my wall. I have like 20 pairs of pants b/c I keep thinking I don't have any or I am about to run out b/c *someone* put them in the dresser. Sheesh! On the wall I can see them -- just make sure to wash them when I am not looking or I'll end up with another pair. :)<br>

Also, if I say I am going to organize something (probably WAY overdue), interruptions of "I need you to...".... uhhhhh...... <br>

Real world example: <br>
Me: Honey I need to organize the garage today (fully intending to organize the garage)<br>
Wife: ok. how long will it take?<br>
Me: Um, a while (I have no clue)<br>
Wife: Ok {chuckle}<br>

1 hr later my wife looks outside and the entire contents of the garage are strewn across the driveway (I see categorized piles, she sees a complete mess) and I am now washing the car, moving the lawn, trying on old hats from my memorabilia box, <insert something that looks like not organizing the garage>, or no where to be seen. <br>

Have no fear, I realize that the garage needs to be put back together b/c it might rain or something - and I am still "organizing the garage" - but it will probably take all day and if someone introduces something new (something I didn't decide I would be doing that day) it could jeopardize the entire operation. :) <br>

She has learned to laugh about this.<br>


Wow, your wife is a saint.  I had a fit a few weeks ago because "I'm going to get a few things out of the garage to take to the recycling center" was 30 minutes later all kinds of papers strewn on the ground outside.  On a windy day.  Oh, and the real kicker: it was a box of papers that had been destined to get recycled 2 years ago, but somehow never made it there.  Now he was organizing those papers again, and actually finding some keepers!  

Sorry I'm not responding at all to the original post, just having my little garage rant here.

Not to laugh...

but your post made me chuckle because I can SO see that happening in my house too.  My husband did a cleaning out the garage drill on a beautiful day, so I sat outside on a blanket with my son while he dragged all sorts of stuff out into the driveway.  Then he rearranged it all and put it back...boxes and just a different configuration (so we'd have room for the new vehicle we were buying).  Like I said, he can be a dog on a bone, but sometimes I feel the energy can lead to a lot of activity for not a lot of end result. 

you gotta laugh...

Well, I'm glad it came across as humorous instead of pissy.  I try to see the lighter side, but some days are just too hard.  To his credit, he worked really hard with me today, after a full days work, cleaning the bedroom, even throwing some stuff away (almost) voluntarily.  

I have learned that I can't watch him "declutter" (I use that word lightly in this context, since there is not much "de" going on), because everything gets sorted into a hundred piles, hardly anything gets chucked, and worst of all, going through a stack that would take me 30 minutes takes him 3 or 4 hours. (oh, but the piles are very *organized* - absolutely keep, probably keep, most likely keep, could throw away in the next decade, will throw away after showing it to someone else first...)

This sounds like something

This sounds like something that happened to me.   My ADD husband (boyfriend at the time) had JUST moved in with me and he announced a grand plan to completely clean and reorganize my kitchen.  WOW! I was so impressed!

I come home from work to find the contents of all my kitchen cabinets strewn all over the counters and floor.  A few things that I use most often are put away in the tallest shelves and cabinets that I can't reach (he is tall but I am short), but the rest is left all over the kitchen, not an inch of counter space left.   He is no longer working on the kitchen, but is sitting at the computer.

Because we had just moved in together, I was polite and didn't say anything at first.  I was thinking that perhaps he just got tired and would fix it later.

Well, after a few days of my kitchen being completely unusable, I finally made a comment about some of the stuff being on the tallest shelves and I couldn't reach them.  He acted completely offended but didn't do anything to fix it.  After about a week more of the kitchen being in complete disarray, I finally spent several hours putting everything away all by myself.  He saw me doing this and didn't even help.

I should have known at that point that something was seriously wrong. 

Sounds frustrating...

That sound pretty frustrating. It sound like you realize he was trying to help with something, but it didn't work out in the end. When you were putting things away by yourself, did you ask for his help? 


Often times my wife will do something "by herself" and then later on I hear about how I should have helped her, usually when she is mad about something else.  She had an expectation, didn't tell me, and then is upset that her expectation wasn't met.  In the end I feel bad and think, "if she had asked I would have gladly helped" (ok, I'm human so not always gladly).  This feels, literally, like the story of my life. I am ADHD. It is very difficult to prioritize. I want to help, but people need to let me know when they expect it.


Expectations can be terrible for any relationship, ADD or not, and we all have them so we have to be careful. I remember someone once telling me -- "what happens when people 'assume?'  It makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me.'" Ha!  It's definitely true.  

No I didn't ask for help. 

No I didn't ask for help.  But seeing as he was the one that initiated the project, volunteered to do it, and then left it unfinished, common sense would indicate that he should assist me in cleaning up the mess HE MADE. 

If I am doing just doing general cleaning or chores, I don't expect him to read my mind and come help me without my asking, but in a situation like this where he totally flaked out on a project, I think any reasonable person would expect assistance.


I agree it makes common sense. He probably does too. Most things that I miss b/c I become distracted or am just thinking about 50 things at once would be considered common sense actually. Thats what makes ADD frustrating for both people involved.