DONT BE LIKE ME (its a book?)


The last of the evening sunrays shine through the kitchen curtains and dance lazy patterns across the new linoleum tiles as I look at the newly refinished cabinets, the colors, the back splash- Decisions we made together on the colors, the tiles, the laminates... the valiant effort made to please her during the last retry of a troubled relationship. All I can see is my efforts to please her, make her happy, give her something else to be proud I could be pleased with myself. Happy wife, happy life right? She ruminated that a few times during the last few years. This comes to mind as I realize that the kitchen, as well as one other room- the study/family game and chill room, are the only two rooms left furnished.I walk through the house that was our home. Now it is only a place where I dwell. It dawns on me that it has been the latter for quite some time, for all of us- Me, my wife, my son, my mother in law.  -Me, on Christmas Day

As I keep reading through the forum posts, I see it is mainly men with ADHD and get the women's perspective.

I have to admit, in every one of those posts, I see different bits that make me think they could be describing me? (more on that later on if you keep reading)

I am the NON ADHD spouse, and was with a Severe ADHD spouse- so the roles are reversed.

In my relationship (30 years, 28 yrs married) It started out ideal- then slowly went down hill.

My observations (In my own views, my own opinion, my own side of the story):

I always joked I was OCD- Everything had a place and everything in its place. Clean as you go, or as soon as you're done with a project- clean up.

My wife and sister used to joke that i even ironed my underwear, because no matter where I was, I always tried to present a clean and proper appearance.

I was raised that appearance means something- I was raised in an old school frame of mind, and 10 years in the United States Army reinforced that principle.

When we got married and had our first place-

When it came to dinner, meals...I got quickly informed "this is the 90's mister..get used to it" because I was raised up on principles like The man brings home the bacon, or most of it, and the woman is the queen of the house and she makes it the home. For further clues on me- I was raised to say 'Yes ma'am/no ma'am, Yes sir/ no sir. respect your elders, open the door for the women..etc etc...and the military reinforced those principles.

So the meal thing did shock me, but i tried to understand…through the years when she did cook, I would always make sure to let her know how much I appreciated the fact that she took the time to cook for me and what I meant to me- I never failed to tell her that, but she always seemed to hold on to the fact that she felt it was a responsibility of hers. I tried to tell her in every way, that I understood and that it was ok, I could find something to eat. Until eventually I just told her that I could cook for myself, and when things got really bad, I finally told her I was cooking for myself before her, and I would be cooking for myself after her…I really got to the end of my rope- It seemed I could never get her to understand that in the ultimate scheme of things, it didn’t MATTER if she cooked or not, it was NOT her duty to have to cook, and I appreciated what she did and when she did…but she never seemed to get it?

Dishes…When she cooked, it always seemed like chaos- it seemed like she used as many plates, pans, pots, utensils she could..and then piled them ALL in the sink. When I offered to clean the dishes she always meant well and said she had it, and she would. Sometimes we would take turns, or sometimes she would do them, and sometimes I would do them….When her mom lived with us, she ended up doing them all the time. But in the last years, IF I ever started cleaning in her presence…it always seemed to irritate her and she would down talk herself, and I would try to reassure her that I was trying to help and I didn’t mind, and that I knew she worked to and if I could ease any burden on her I was glad to do it. But she never seemed to get it because it was always a repeat.

When it came to cleaning house. I never had an issue doing house work, or windows or mopping etc. In fact, the guessed it...reinforced it. So when we first started cleaning on weekends, I would naturally go to town..and I was pretty darn quick. Thats when I started noticing, as I think back, she would get her feelings hurt. She got her feelings hurt and said I 'took over"...I didnt understand.

All, I wanted to do was be with her, be a team mate, and do my lion's share of the work..It was also ALWAYS my intention to take as much burden off her as I could...because thats the way I was raised. (there''s those principles again, the man leads, he gets stuff done. He takes care of things, he solves problems etc etc) Through the years, I gradualy changed my tactics from leading to trying to share? to doing what she asked me to do, to finally giving up and letting her do whatever she wanted to do. (that didnt work either)

I am not saying it was all her fault, or her ADHD- I was a shithead myself, a lot...its that 'I am the man, I am the head of the household, etc etc....That didnt go well either.

A little back story- I came from a dysfunctional home, I was abused by my mom until I was 12 years old. my parent divorced when I was 7- My parents both remarried. When I was 12 years old, I ran away and rode a bus across the state to be with my dad and stepmom. She was a better mother to me than my biological mom..but the caveat is that both my stepmom and my dad were alcoholics. If anything. My childhood experience taught me how I didnt want to treat my children. (more on that later) It took me until I was 49 years of age to get with a therapist to determine that yes, I was abused, and yes, that has affected my outlook on life and relationships...BUT, it has been 4 years of that so far, and I am STILL dealing with it and behavioral modification. It is hard, and it isnt hard... (this is where the ADHD on her side makes it hard, I am not trying to fault her, I am recognizing just one roadblock after the fact.)

Ok so now, back to the timeline of the story. Throughout the years (28) it had been a constant tug of war. There have been a lot of good times, great ones, but there have been really bad ones too. What i see though is that EVERY disagreement was always pretty much the same the movie groundhog day. and no matter how I tried to approach it, nothing worked because the issues always came back.

I guess from my viewpoint, it always seemed that no matter what I tried to do in our marriage, it was always wrong. IF I went to the left, it was wrong, If I went to the right it was wrong and she got upset, so I'd try to be fluid and go the way I thought she was implying...and soon enough that was wrong. From occupations...I changed jobs SEVERAL times from trucking to local work. I had a brief unemployment stint for about 6 months. back about 5 years after we got married because I wanted a job that paid the most for what I do. Finally, one day after 9/11, and the company I was working for went belly up due to the fallout of 9/11 and the majority of their work was government contract related, I chose to go back into self employment again. I told her that I was never going to change employment ever again because I felt that she having never been satisfied with anything I ever did, had caused me to move around careers..When I decided i was done with a job, it was because she couldnt handle the time I was away, she felt alone, I get I would quit and try to find something closer. Then It wouldnt be enough, etc etc.. that was my impression and my opinion.

So I have been self employed since 2001- and I have been pretty successful in so far as being able to do what i needed to do for a family- She never had to pay for a vehicle, she never had to pay for a home, or insurance for either, or taxes for either. Now I am not saying that we havent had any financial torubles- we surely have, and we have both worried about them and she would help me here there and yonder with moral support, and even monetary for little things like gas, or food, or cigarettes, but the vast majority of the time, i paid all the big expenses. Early on when we first got married, I noticed the problems she had with keeping track of our finances, and balancing the checkbook, I offered to take it over, and did for a time. I was able to pay for the bills and we'd have a little left over. We were both young and neither of us really had a proper idea about what it really took to really have a sound relationship, due to my childhood and hers. We eventually took up separate finances, on my decision, because she would get so stressed out on any of it. I am still self employed and still pay the bills to this day- I have good times and bad times, and a good bank. Sometimes, in my line of work, you have to go out on a limb, take a gamble, to make it..its the nature of the beast. I've been doing it for 30 years and havent lost my butt yet, and even during covid, I didn’t get government help- I paid every dime when it was due. My monthly bank notes for my work, this includes our two vehicles and insurance, and all my equipment has been anywhere between $3500 to $1800 per month. I have always paid every dime. In 2008 I borrowed $68k on our house, and paid that mortgage off 2 years ago. I am sorry but that is me, and she never had to be on the hook to pay anything that the business cost back. Like I said, I paid for the house, the vehicles, the insurance, any major upkeep etc. She did pay the electricity, the water, the internet and the groceries, and that’s because years ago she said that she felt bad for not being able to contribute. I did what I thought she wanted to do? Now I don’t know. The good news is I wont have any debt in 2 years- everything will be payed off once more.

folks, I need to say that I was raised that you dont start trouble but you dont take trouble. With that being said, I never had strong patience for stupid people. When I was single, I walked away from stupid women and tried to walk away from stupid men, but if said men kept pushing me, or made the mistake of putting their hands on me, it wasnt pretty. Thats just me, and how I was raised. Now with age I have decided that isnt even worth it so I AVOID stupid people when I can. Back to the story... Whenever my wife would be upset, and it was OFTEN through the years (keep in mind she wasnt diagnosed severe ADHD until 2012 and we have been together since 1993, married in 1994) I wouldnt start out ugly, I started out trying to be patient, this was the woman I LOVED. but for some reason, there was no getting through, or reaching a concensus on things most of the time. and the arguments would just keep elevating, most of the time she would say what she wanted to say and then when i got to a rebuttal she would shut me down and after so much of that so many times...I would be the one to explode. ANGER...I would even throw things, not at her, but i have hit her with an egg not trying to hit her but I did...and that was totally wrong. These kind of arguments went on for YEARS. sometimes I would get so mad, I would just walk away and drive off. Sometimes she would walk away or drive off. looking back, it was insane.I am not proud of my behavior, it was wrong then and its wrong period. I have gotten way better but, there was a few times it got to yelling. Quite a few times, especially the last couple of years, it would get heated, i would start getting mad..and then I would stop, realize it and then just look at her and Say "this isnt working, What can I do to help change this?"

BUT, we still loved one another enough to keep trying. Looking back, I can now say, thanks to behavioral therapy, and recognition, I did everything wrong in communication when it went beyond talking. But, I have to realize also that for the first 18 years of our relationship- ADHD was at play and neither of us knew it. She was taking prozac for depression when I met her and she was a social drinker. It wasnt until later on that i found out that prozac and alcohol dont work well together. I didnt discover until 2 months ago..yes 2 months ago, that she had daddy issues. She always said she had a hard time showing emotions, and that is a fact. She never could really show me physical love. She did it by saying it. and THAT did mean a lot. But in so far as physical was hard to come by, but I loved her. I was always a touchy feely type of guy when I loved a woman. I've only had 3 girlfriends, the first one was while I was in the army and she couldnt wait on me. and the second one did have some really bad issues, My wife was the 3rd and last. that was 30 years ago. she was 19 and I was 23. She is now 50 and I am 53 this year. Anyways, as the marriage went on, I always noticed that the only time she got lovey dovey was when she had been drinking. I never was a drinker. Yes I partied when I was younger, I got drunk 3 or 4 times...but I never needed alcohol because of what I saw it do in a my stance on alcohol, became another road block in this relationship...I just didnt realize how much. So we kind of dwindled down on the going out and dancing and eventually stopped because the alcohol...its hard to explain. Through the years I tried to always let her know that it wasnt her drinking the alcohol, it was when I wasnt around to protect her, that it didnt mix with her meds. Does that make sense? I meant well. She even told me a few times that she didnt need the alcohol and I believed her and all was fine. What I didnt realize is that I never denied her time with her mom and she spent a lot of time over at was an alcoholic (privately) and she was accommodating my wife. I cant say how often but I now know she was enabling her back then. I dont think my wife ever drank while she was pregnant with our son, I think she is smarter than that. Despite all of what I am saying, I can stand up and also tell the world that She can be the most caring, helpful, selfless person I know...and I still love her. in 2006 or so, her mom came to live with us. Her mom is a good person, she has her own issues but in her core, she is a good person. I never knew up until a few months ago, that her mom was 5th of whiskey a day alcoholic. I knew she liked wine, she claimed it helped her sleep at night..ok, I get it...but it also took prozac and sleeping pills too. She'd go through a box or two of wine in a week, a quart glass at a time. She kept the wine in our fridge. I really didnt have an issue with it until she'd get drunk and come out to interact with us...or our son..he was very young. My wife would eventually tell her 'mom go to your room'. I finally told her mom that she was a grown woman and she could do whatever she wanted to do, in her room. And IF she decided to get drunk then ok, do not interact with my son.

My MIL lived with us from 2006 or so until this past April when she finally had a 4 month melt down in dementia and ended up going to a care facility (thats another ADHD story with fallout) What i discovered during that time was i would start finding empty voda bottles hidden here there and yonder in the home, not to mention over a case of empty miller lite cans hidden all over our bedroom, in the closet in her pockets of coats, in boots, in a 2 drawer filing cabinet, in boxes, under the bed on her side....I never got upset with her and always talked to her about it. She told me she did it to help her deal with her issues. I always told her that I didnt mind the alcohol, i understood, just as long as she didnt hide it and I was there to protect her. I thought I was being good and understanding. So when we were at the store I would let her get an 18 pack and some wine coolers or whatever and we'd actually sit out back and drink a beer and felt great, and the world was good. But, then before long, i would notice that the alcohol would be gone out of the fridge and I would ask her If she wanted me to go get more and she would say no, I am good..I dont need it. and then later on, I would find the hidden empties (beer and/or vodka) from more that she had got. I never understood. I was always suspicious.and that became a trust issue.

I found out later that her mom’s brother would take her mom to a doctor appointment and on the way back, she have him stop at the local drive through alcohol place and she’d order a gallon of Long Island Ice Tea with 5 extra shots in it.. he said they knew her by name. Anyways, my MIL would bring it home and if I was there, she’d put it in her car and when I fell asleep, she’d sneak it in and her and my wife would split it.

When the end finally came, a couple of months ago, she claimed she drank just to piss me off, and that she only acted out because thats when I would pay attention to her. Folks, I started out paying a lot of attention to her, in fact through the years she has even told me I am too ‘clingy’…she denies she ever said it (is that ADHD?)

She always encouraged me to go and do- I appreciate that about her. I always encouraged her to go and do. But then she’s tell me that I am always doing things without her and put friends first.. I have asked her many many times over the years if she wanted to go with me to do something and unless it was something she wanted to do or was interested in, she’d decline. But sometimes she would tell me that she was happy anywhere as long as she was with me? I guess because of the yo yo dynamics, I eventually ended up trying to act off her cues…if she wanted to go and do something and it was something other than a woman thing….then I would go, I think one of the big issues is that because I never denied her her time with her mom, they always went and shopped and did things.

I don’t know….

I guess, in my own way, I subconsciously started setting up my own ‘boundries’ over the years?

Even when it came to the house I never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do, where to put furniture, the Christmas tree, etc etc. when it comes to laundry, I failed there and through the years I always wondered why laundry piled up and a lot of time I would put a t shirt on and when I sweat in it it would stink. I discovered that laundry would be left in the washer for days, then get put in the dryer. If I said something no matter how I said it, it was always taken as criticism. So I would start doing the laundry, and that was wrong because I was taking over….this yo yo happened time after time after that eventually (because I didn’t know ADHD and she didn’t either yet) I just would say I was cleaning my clothes before you, and I know how to do it…don’t worry about or touch my clothes, I will do it. It made her mad. I thought I was helping take a load off.

Now the caveat here is, when it comes to laundry and house work, she slowly started procrastinating after her mom moved in and it wasn’t long before mom was doing all the laundry and cleaning. I eventually stopped mom from doing my laundry and I told her many times that she is not our maid.

I guess there is a lot of things I eventually quit doing or trying to help with because of all the times I got accused of taking over, or doing it ‘my way’….i didn’t understand.

It even got that way with the outside, the yard and such….I always took pride in the yard, kept it mowed, weed eated, driveway/sidewalk edged…she and her mom and our son always played in the flower beds and that made me happy to see them. Then eventually my wife wanted to mow, she said it helped her unwind….But I noticed she never mowed properly and when I offered help she would get mad, because I was telling her she was doing wrong, and she would quit….this happened with everything…so I eventually stopped and didn’t do anything unless she asked me to. Because I wanted her happy

Our house has ended up dirty, unkept, piles of clothes everywhere, disarray…now I understand…procrastination. And when I would start cleaning, she would get mad. Even though I said I was just trying to help, trying to take some of the load off her because she works too…it didn’t matter, and we would end up arguing.

It got so bad that I gave up, I started procrastinating, letting stuff go…I started self-loathing, and I blamed her. I couldn’t understand why one minute I am the most awesome guy, then the next minute I am the sorriest SOB ever.

I didn’t like for people to come over because I was embarrassed and ashamed. All I wanted to do was work, and come home. IF it was not a good day at home then I would stay and work, and work, and work…then come home and sleep and sleep and sleep….as would she.

One thing that stands out- it seems like over the years, more often than not, ESPECIALLY over the last 10 years- every saturday morning that there were NO plans, a fight would magically spring up. i did notice that patern and even mentioned it. She had no real explanation and neither did I.  it would usually start something like this:

Me- sitting and drinking a cup of coffee and comment 'Sure is a pretty day, kinda like a lazy day'

her- oh yeah! I with ya. (except I would soon notice this air about her, that 'look') 

Me- Are you ok? Is there anything I can do to help?

Her- No...I'm fine.

me -ok.

Her (getting irritated)

me- Ok whats wrong gal?

Her- I cant do anything or plan anything with you sitting there. It just makes me want to sit down!

me- ok, (standing up)  what can I help with (in a good mood with smile)

her- irritated - I DIDNT ASK YOU TO DO ANYTHING!!!!

me- I dont mind! (still in a semi good mood but alert)]

Her- NEVERMIND!!!! and she goes and plops down in her recliner... 

Me- ok well, I guess I'll go to work, I have stuff i can get done there. I love you

Her- I love you too

(later on i would get a text "just checkin on you! I love you! with a smiley face blowing a kiss)   This happened a LOT

then when I would call her before I left work that evening- she would say "I didnt cook, you might want to stop and get something and I didnt do anything again today" to which I always replied, 'Thats ok, youv've been busy at work! Can I get yall something too? and we would exchange I love yous....I never understood these occurences.

In the end the arguments turned into her saying she didn’t have an opinion, she didn’t have a say….and all I could do was tell her LOOK AROUND YOU!!! LOOK AT EVERYTHING…YOU HAD AN OPINION, YOU HAD YOUR SAY. THIS IS ALLLLLLL YOU. ( and thats something else that got affected the ADHD)

During the last couple of years she always stated “WHEN AM I GOING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH!?” And I in turn felt the same way because everything she would say to me- I always thought and sometimes told her that she needed to go look in the mirror and say those things...(and that affected the ADHD)

It got really ugly that night….i said a bunch of ugly things to her, as well as she saying ugly things to me…And as I did for the last 4 months is end up yelling to her YOU NEED HELP, WE NEED HELP, OUR SON NEEDS HELP!! And she would yell that NOBODY TELLS HER WHEN SHE NEED HELP, SHE WILL DECIDE WHEN SHE NEEDS HELP……and I ended up saying WHEN WAS IT GOING TO BE IMPORTANT? WHEN WAS IT GOING TO BE IMPORTANT FOR YOU? US? OUR SON????

She never answered that

In the Army we used to do what we call an AAR- that’s an ‘After Action Review’. It’s purpose is to, after any training exercise, to identify any failures in said exercise and come up with a solution to remedy said errors so that during the next exercise it goes smoothly and according to plan. This only works if you have the proper training, the proper knowledge and the proper tools to even begin the exercise, or you are doomed to failure.

So my AAR-

What failures were identified-

1) Prior traumas that were not recognized, acknowledged, nor treated by either party before, or during the majority of the relationship- contributed to actions and reactions between the parties.

2) Lack of proper knowledge of ideals when it comes to people working working together in a relationship, not enough empathy or lack thereof, eventual lack of compassion.

3) Lack of proper communication on both sides and ignorance/ defiance to seek PROPER help in order to help sustainability of relationship.

4) Lack of Teamwork.

I used to take pride in the fact that, because I was in the Boy Scouts (never made Eagle, but I did make it to Star Scout) and the fact that I excelled during my 10 years in the United States Army, and because I had received certain morals and principles in my life. But not so much anymore, because the one thing…the ONE and only thing I wanted most in my in a shambles and I HELPED MAKE IT THAT WAY.

That’s is a very hard pill to swallow- I have been through 53 years of this life, and I stood tall, I stood proud, I was confident, I had purpose, I had goals and I knew where I wanted to go. But I failed…I failed because I let my TEAM down…. All because I didn’t have, nor second guess when I should have, nor took the initiative to do my OWN research, to improve my OWN self until it was too late.

It may be too late for THIS relationship…its dead on arrival. I really think, as bad as it sounds, that it was doomed from the start, and NO amount of good intentions could have saved it unless there was one little thing….


And I guess that is why I am here.

I am here because I know that ADHD is real, I have lived it, I have abused it, and it isn’t something to disregard or take lightly. I am here because all my medical stuff is through the VA, and my therapist is a civilian but authorized through the VA…and she doesn’t see ADHD the same way the all of you, ME, and others see it. But, I cannot just change therapists that quick…It is a process through the VA and if any of you are veterans and have dealt with the VA then You know what I am talking about. Besides...After everything thats happened...I feel like maybe I have ADHD.

I intend to change to one that DOES know ADHD and can help me with it, so I can help them.

My hardest day in my whole life

Was the three days that I took my truck and enclosed trailer and help my wife and my son move. Move out of what was supposed to be our happy home, our ‘safe place’ and know that I played a major role in creating this situation. And I am not proud at all. They think I am the reason, and rightly so.

My hardest day was Christmas… I sat in this house- what was our home, where our dreams lived and died. And as I look around and see the different spots and can see the memories, those GREAT memories…and I helped end it. 

My wife and I are amicable..we have a 17 year old son. He has ADHD too. I know she loves me, and she knows I love her. We have said as much. And my son knows we love him and I know he loves us.

She told me that she knows she has daddy issues from childhood, She said she knows she needs therapy, and she would hope that one day she would and also that WE could sit down with a therapist and work through our stuff.  She also said that she never really had to be on her own, and she is right- I got her from her mom's apt...and she never had to try to make it on her own. 

She said she wants to have fun, have friends, have friends come over- travel..

She said she need to learn to love herself because nobody could lover her until she did.

I told her that in my heart, I felt….no….I know that our story is not over.

I owe it to her, I owe it to myself…but most importantly I owe it to our son.

I havent spoke to her over 10 days. I dont intend to. Not because I dont want to, but because she left for reasons and I know I am one of them. its the least i can do.

I’ve always been proud and reserved, and it used to take a lot to get me to open up. So my writing all of this, for yall to peruse and comment, and is only a DROP in the bucket of 30 years, took a LOT of inner me to post it.

( Reading thru all the posts, have also helped me see what an ass I have been- I also have a lot more growing to do)

And I appreciate your listening to my story.