I found this site by accident recently. Reading the posts brings of unpleasant memories to the surface.
I was married to a man with ADHD for 30 years. We divorced 10 years ago and he passed away 7 years ago. When I first met him, he was 23 and I was 22. What I thought was ‘high energy’ was hyperactivity’. The hyper-focus we all know so well makes you believe that the two of you are perfect for each other. For us, the hyper-focus began to fade on the honeymoon. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I put up with some of the things he said and did over the years. I was stupid enough to believe things would get better with time.
We never heard of ADHD until the early 1990’s. After reading about it, he never doubted that he had it. He found a doctor who prescribed medication for him and saw him about once every three months. At his first visit, he told me his doctor was quite surprised that he had been married over 20 years and that he must be married to the ‘most patient woman in the world.’ He said the medication helped him focus at work, but it didn’t seem to have much effect in other aspects of his life.
He had episodes of hyper-focusing on projects or problems for weeks at a time. There were many times when we stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning talking about a problem he had a work because he simply couldn’t let it go long enough to go to bed. He would repeat the same sentences over and over and over again. Then he would get mad at me because I would finally refuse to stay up any longer. He could talk about 6 different subjects in a 5 sentence paragraph. It wasn’t at all unusual for him to get mad at something (me, his parents, his job) and not speak to anyone for several days at a time. I will never forget when our daughter came inside crying her eyes out because ‘Daddy won’t talk to me.’ It was one of those aha moments that you read about. It broke my heart.
He took no responsibility at home but he was very responsible at work. Even so, he quit two jobs without having another job lined up. He never gave any thought to the fact that doing that left his family with no health insurance. As far as he was concerned, he was always mistreated and taken advantage of at work. In addition to the problems we had due to his ADHD, he was from a very traditional family as far a male and female roles were concerned. Even if he hadn’t had ADHD, we would have clashed on these types of issues. Domesticity was never my strong suit and being married to a man who didn’t help made it even worse.
Even 30 years after the fact, he could recite chapter and verse about things I had done that made him mad or hurt his feelings but if I mentioned something he had done he couldn’t remember it. If he couldn’t remember it, it must not have happened.
Before learning about ADHD, I honestly thought that at some point he would magically figure out that I wasn’t such a bad person. By the time I figured out that wasn’t going to happen, we had been married 8 years and had 2 kids. Why did I stay? The idea of raising our kids by myself was overwhelming and I couldn’t imagine taking my kids away from their Dad.
My breaking point came after one child had already graduated from college and the other was within a semester of graduating. He went into a hyper-focus period where he was obsessed with all the things that I had done to wrong him over the years. He decided that I had been ‘stealing’ money over the years. He decided that I had 'kept in touch' with old boyfriends. He was completely out of touch with reality and for the first time ever, I was scared of him. At the time, I thought of it as an ‘ADHD storm’. After 3 days of obsessive conversations, refusing to allow me to sleep, he backed off. But a month or so later he started in again when we had a bounced check. (I later figured out that he had run up a $250 bill buying porn on our Direct TV account, which caused other checks to bounce.) I moved out and never looked back. My lawyer later told me that his lawyer said that my ex was ‘difficult’ to deal with. She said he must have been very hard to work with because it was very unusual for the opposing lawyer to tell her something like that.
I don’t want to make this sound like I wasn’t at fault. Had I been a woman who cheerfully took all the household responsibilities, we might have had far fewer problems. He needed someone just like his Mother (who did absolutely everything for him, his Dad and his brothers) and I’m nothing like her.
Life has been much more stress free over the past 10 years. Yes, it is sometimes lonely. Yes, I sometimes wish I had someone to share good experiences with. I try not to be bitter, but being married to him for 30 years has made me very gun shy. Once you have made such a bad choice you never quite trust your own judgment again.