Embarrassed by ADD partner?

I've been dating my ADD ex-husband. I thought he'd changed, and I've been very impressed at the way he's gotten his life together.  This week we went together to a 3-day workshop...being with him around other people all day for three days, I was reminded of a few of the things I didn't like about him. I felt that he was obnoxious...he repeatedly made very disparaging remarks about a certain political party (completely out of context of the conversation...just thrown in as an insult to that political party). Most of the comments he made were snarky and cynical; he didn't contribute in any positive way. Then, we were preparing food with the other people, and he was mixing something with his hands, licked his fingers (not just a simple taste...stuck his fingers one by one in his mouth and sucked on them), then put his hands back in the food. He did this repeatedly. Even I (who have already shared any germs he has) was disgusted by it. He also has a cough, and has been coughing right in my face at very close range; he doesn't back off or turn his head.

Do I need to talk to him about these things? This is where we got into trouble before. He's 54 years old and I am NOT his mother. I'm quickly losing the respect I have for him; he can't even be taken out in public without embarrassing me. HE is not embarrassed...I've never known him to be embarrassed by any of his rude or strange behaviors in the 30+ years I've known him. But he was so rude that I wanted to pretend that I didn't know him.


I talked to him about this. I told him the specific incidents I was talking about and how they made me feel. His only reply was "Sorry; I'll try to do better". It sounded so insincere that I asked why he did the things that bothered me. He said, about coughing in my face (it wasn't just once, but repeatedly over the past couple of weeks), "I don't remember doing it". If he doesn't even remember doing it, how can he 'do better'? The same with everything else I brought up; he didn't know it would bother me or didn't remember doing it or doesn't know why he did it. Vague, unsatisfactory answers.

He has a LONG history of saying or promising whatever I want to hear just to shut me up (he once told a marriage counselor that he did that). I guess I can only wait and see if he really means it. Dealing with him is SO hard. Maybe it's a bad sign that he's annoying me so much already; we don't even see each other that often. If anyone else I was dating did half the things he did, I wouldn't be dating them anymore.

If no one else was eating the

If no one else was eating the food but him, let him lick his fingers. Who does it really hurt? Is it disgusting? I guess some might feel that way, but pick your battles....

When he coughs in your face point it out IMMEDIATELY and say "please cover your mouth, I don't want to get whatever you have" and point it out again and again...that is how he'll become 'aware' that he's doing it and stop.

The rude comments are gonna have to be let to as well...he is entitled to his opinion, even if it embarasses you or you don't agree. He's not a 5 year old, it isn't up to you to coach him on how to behave or what to say at any given time. If you don't like it, don't go places with him.

I really do think you need to reevaluate your decision to try and reconnect with him if you aren't 100% committed to loving him ... quirks, embarassing habits, and all.

I don't mean to sound harsh, honestly I don't...but I do think you're feeling resentful towards him and that is why all of these things are bothering you. Time to reevaluate yourself and figure out a way to stop it in it's tracks before you end up like you were before the divorce. FOR YOUR sake. ((HUGS))


Sherri, you are saying what I am but in a way a non adhd spouse can relate to. A point I'd like to add is that healing is already a difficult road and having somebody beat you up about your faults when you have been beating yourself up, and no unless you are some sort of god/esse you don't know what the other is thinking and I don't know any ADHDs who haven't confided in each other that this is how they feel, for 40 years, is not conducive to progress. Also, I am so sick of hearing about the non ADHD saints and martyrs club. I agree with Sherri 100% If you know that you cant tolerate your ADHDer get out, don't use him as a punching bag.

My husband used to break my

My husband used to break my things quite often (always claimed it was an accident). If I cried or even looked sad, he'd get mad at me and say "are you trying to make me feel even worse than I already do??" He never did anything to make amends for the things he broke and I wasn't even allowed to be sad, lest it should make him feel bad. I usually ended up comforting  him. There was never anyone to comfort me.

can I say

can I say that's just awful?  didn't you feel manipulated?  How is it possible to not be allowed to feel sad?  Yikes!

"If no one else was eating

"If no one else was eating the food but him, let him lick his fingers. Who does it really hurt? Is it disgusting? I guess some might feel that way, but pick your battles...."

This was food for everyone to eat. We were all in a kitchen making snacks. He was making a dip and had his hands in it up to the wrists. He was very blatant about sucking on his fingers (all his fingers, all the way in his mouth), then sticking his whole hand back in the dip. Maybe you had to be there...after so many years with him, it's not easy to gross me out, but I was disgusted.

I'm definitely reconsidering reconnecting with him. I thought he'd changed, but now I wonder.

Thus my disclaimer...if

Thus my disclaimer...if everyone else was eating it, that's just gross. I agree. Not sure how you handle it though.

Yeah, I don't know how to

Yeah, I don't know how to handle it, either. I DID talk to him, but there's no way I could discuss it with him without sounding like his mother. And he played the scolded little boy. I could SEE him thinking "Oh man, she's mad at me again"; why are they always surprised when they do something so maddening and we get mad (I tried really hard NOT to sound mad...in fact, I wasn't, I was disappointed)? It's SO easy for us to slip right back into the same parent/child patterns again. I don't want to date a child; I want a man I can depend on to act like a civilized adult (at least in public).

will you guys just quit

With the GD "they" generalizations. People with ADHD are not ALL ALIKE! Bash your husband if you like or the other guy but stop painting every person on earth with ADHD with the same brush.

I am fighting for my life, here

I am sorry to generalize. No one here could tell me how to deal with my husband if he were totally unique, if other people didn't know anything about the disease (syndrome, disorder, difference, take your pick) that he has. The reason this forum helps is because we can learn from what worked for others, what the brain differences are, etc. There are a lot of commonalities or Melissa couldn't have written a book about marriages impacted by ADHD. I see so much here that reminds me of how I feel or how my husband and I relate.

But I went through over 2 years when I thought I was going to die because my husband refused to work or provide necessary medical care/medications or insurance for me. (You live in Canada where this isn't a problem, but in the US, you can die from not having medical insurance.) He's wrecked my car, severely injured my foot, left me stranded. Other spouses here have had similar experiences. We need to learn how to process them and still believe the spouse loves us. We need to learn how to love someone who does not take our needs into account ever. We need to learn how to get what we need if we don't or can't get it from our spouse. It is a very hard row to hoe. Not all of our spouses are as willing as you are to acknowledge the problem and treat it and be the spouse that their spouse needs them to be. (I actually had to threaten to leave my husband in order to get him to get any treatment. He still does not do any counseling or behavioral therapy. He thinks he's fine because he works and takes medicine.) If he decides not to work again because of his ADD, I face all the same problems, so I am always scared.

It is very hard to be married to someone who thinks differently than you do, and even you have to admit that's the case with a marriage between someone with ADHD and someone who does not.

"It is very hard to be

"It is very hard to be married to someone who thinks differently than you do, and even you have to admit that's the case with a marriage between someone with ADHD and someone who does not."

It's not the thinking differently; I love that about him. It was his not keeping a job, not helping with the kids or house or farm, his running up $70,000 in credit card debt without telling me, forgetting important things, never being anywhere on time, and (most importantly) blaming me for all of the above (and more) that led me to divorce him.

"Thinking differently"

I am glad that my husband does not blame me. I know that is another frequent feature of ADHD marriages.

But my husband has done most of the other things you mention, minus the overcharging on the credit cards, and I'd like to learn how someone's mind works that thinks those things are ok.

HAS someone in this thread

HAS someone in this thread generalized? I was writing specifically about the ADD man I know, and I don't think I generalized his behaviors to anyone else. Even so, if "they" are all so completely different, why do we keep hearing the same behaviors (forgetting, interrupting, not handling money well, etc) coming up over and over?

"they" is the issue

It is precisely the use of the word "they" rather than the word "he" that is the issue here and that turns the idea into a generalization.

I've decided to write to this topic in the larger blog forum and it will be posted up today if you're interested.

You know Simora thanks for

You know Simora thanks for posting. I GET, unfortunately, what the others are saying. It IS so tough loving and interacting w someone who has ADHD. The frustration is oh so much worse when the ability to face that "monster" as someone said is not happening. God, its brutal in fact. But I do sometimes fight to work out that behind the adhd is still the man himself, and apart from those "letters" is someone with his own unique character and perception (to which he has a right to own, no matter how much I might agree or disagree w it). Same goes for me, and I struggle to maintain that right while I fight my own demons (named low self esteem). I like hearing your views though I dont always agree w them- and am not sure my DH would either. Bu the point is that you bring a much needed other view to this forum so keep writing. As for Lynn, I hope you are not "outta here forever- I need to hear from you too. And Sherri!! Listen if it was not for this forum I would be so aloneee in my misery. My friends dont really get it and I am really needing to keep my sanity not just for me but for my kids sake. So keep writing you all, and remember this works best if we are here for each other (through agreements and not).

hey lulu

Ironically, I am playing the role of non ADHD spouse in my relationship at least 80% of the time. It really sucks to have the responsibility of doing this when I have been diagnosed with severe combined type. The kicker is that I have just been told that I am suffering severe depression and PTSD and doing it with out SSRI which I really don't trust because of under reporting of serious side effects, discontinuation syndrome, and a 50% success rate.

In spite of this, I do laundry, cook, bake, taxi kids, schedule, plan organize and make appointments. I write all our correspondence, reservations and comparison shopping (although I tend to go way overboard on research). Today, after shopping for 6 months for a new bathtub, I found a 3700$ can spa luxury tub for 1999. I also care for my 2 special needs kids better than anyone I know would be capable of. I get life done.

I am also defensive, emotional and impulsive amongst other things, and I alone was the worst victim of my ADHD. I know that every time I am asked if I am a doctor or why I am not one, every time that I am mistaken for a professor and every time my processing delay circumvents my perversely high IQ. To understand at the age of 44 that you are not the loser you believe yourself to be because you did not make a stunning career full of ground breaking research when you know you are capable intellectually is devastatingly heartbreaking. Conversely, being within sight of your undergrad degree while understanding your limitations is heartening.

I can not speak for anyone but myself, and at times my spouse. But what I can say is that it is an enormous burden to a square peg in a round world.  I do admit to being opinionated. I am an old lady and I have ADHD. I am also climbing out of a very deep black hole. And some SOB keeps stepping on my fingers when I get to the top. That will never stop me from climbing out again and I wont trust the guy who throws me a rope. So hand by hand I climb. Slow going but always rewarded with sunshine.


I dont know if that is the role of nonadhd spouse as compared to "mom". I have heard over and over how the way adhd expresses itself can be different bet gender but how much is biochemical versus motivational/cultural differences is a big question... Who knows? I have girlfriends who have adhd and they also do the "primary" mommy roles w some spousal help (which I am not really getting at this point). It does stink, no matter what side of the biochemical fence you are on to have to shoulder the bulk of the home responsibilities. Obviously you have found a very functional way to compensate for the negatives of adhd with great success and I applaud that. It is NOT easy to do as I have seen my DH struggle w many of the things you say you do. And I'd like to put out there that he too has been successful at least professionally. The idea (and to be sensitive to) is at what cost? You have depression, post-traumatic and a host of negative connotations associated with your identity - which would be better off not there. Same for my hubby. And same goes for ME. Not only have I had to deal w my own crap of low self esteem and depression, but with my spouses tough ability to CONNECT and HELP. I think I could be a lot more understanding if it was not so iften dealing w his aggressive, dont confront me or youll be sorry attitude- a response Ive heard common w adhd. So the bottomline of my verbal meandering (sorry I know its annoying), is that the only way I can see for us to get past it is to recognize the annoying events as they happen, TRY not to take it personally on EITHER side, voice our feelings (to keep the resentment down) regularly, and support each other the best we can while acknowledging to the other person that this is going on. Tall order, I know- and not there.

I have ommited of course

That my husband works away, travels but helps out a great deal when he is home. We both do a lot of reading on ADHD and compare notes about strategies to cope. He is aware that his verbal outbursts have caused the PTSD and he feels like crap and has sought both counseling and medication for this condition. He is making a great deal of progress on controlling his very perplexing  temper. It is perplexing because when he is not caught up in the inexplicable grasp of fury , he is without rival as a supportive caring and helpful partner. We are also aware that there are triggers to his outbursts which we are starting to recognize. If we had sought help earlier we could have bypassed this crap, but unfortunately, my gen did not air "dirty laundry" nor did we recognize ADHD especially in adults. Its a tough ride for anyone but I guess that I am trying to say that I feel that If you are in a relationship with an ADHD person you have a couple of choices. You can either acknowledge and support (warts and all) or cut and run. As you may have guessed, I also have little patience for people who give up without trying, ADHD or no ADHD.

It really is all about them, isn't it?

In response to one of my early posts about my husband injuring me, and wrecking my car (separate incidents), Melissa wrote that he should learn to be more careful. She never told me how to make that happen.

I hear ya!

Mine never learned to be more careful. I had no way of forcing him to make amends for the hurt he caused/things of mine he destroyed. He felt bad, but it was all for himself that he felt bad (because he screwed up), never for me. (gross generalization.) My ex has made some changes, but I don't think he's learned empathy yet. Or good manners. If he hasn't learned them by 54 years old, will he ever?

I honestly cannot think of

I honestly cannot think of one instance, in the 26 years that I was with my husband, that he acknowledged that I had a right to feel sad or angry about the things he did. His apology was (invariably) "I'm sorry you feel that way". NOT "I'm sorry for what I did".

Not his mom

This is an interesting predicament for you.  I know that you write later "if this had been anyone else I wouldn't still be dating him."  This man is your EX husband...I'm trying to figure out why he gets special treatment vs. all the other guys out there.  And, no, you cannot be his mother.

As for the question as to whether or not someone can change who has ADHD, the answer is unequivacably YES.  I am working with a couple right now in which the ADHD husband has decided to become significantly more mindful and supportive of his wife, with great success.  Is he perfect?  No, but he sure is paying attention, and has been maturing and doing better for long enough it seems likely that it's not just hyperfocus.  He likes the changes he is making, likes the new person he is becoming, likes the way his wife is responding, and this gives him inspiration to continue to make the effort and permanently change his habits.

Many people have great difficulty changing (ADHD or not!) but for those in this thread who say "it really is all about them" and "people with ADHD can't change" you are making generalizations that are inaccurate and an unfair slur against those with ADHD.

My ex did make changes, but

My ex did make changes, but now I wonder if they were just 'hyperfocus' on me. His focus seems to be wandering and he isn't as polite or attentive as he was in the beginning. He HAD good manners (privately and in public) and was fun to be with, so I know that he understands how he should behave; he just isn't behaving that way anymore. It's frustrating to start dating one person and end up with a different person.

I assumed "all about them" meant that posters' and my husbands...two similar husbands, not a broad generalization. I DO think it's 'all about him'. He rarely takes anyone else's wants or feelings into account. I can't tell you how many times in the past he's left me cleaning up the mess (literal and figuratively) that he made...it's all about HIM and protecting himself from work or other unpleasantness, often at other people's expense.

A Little Story

In our final round of marriage counseling (there were several), an unfortunately pattern developed. Every 2 weeks I would go in with a list of "what he did/didn't do in the last 2 weeks", and we'd sit for the whole session and argue "Yes you did" "No I didn't" or something equally unproductive. At the end of every session, the marriage counselor would tell me that I had to be more patient or I had to accept my husband as he was; he never seemed to ask anything of my husband. I thought my 'wants' were pretty minimal: honesty, sharing the load, participating equally in decisions, being more polite and thoughtful toward each other. The counselor's advice was things like "go out to a movie together", like that would solve our problems.

Finally, after a few weeks, in desperation, I asked if I was expecting too much from marriage? Was I being unreasonable? The counselor said that in a normal marriage, what I was asking would be very reasonable. But I was asking more than my husband could give. That's when I gave up on the marriage.

And I don't appreciate

And I don't appreciate censorship (having my posts edited). I don't need apologists for bad behavior in my life. I'm outta here.