Exhausted but hopeful

I feel hope now that I've found this Web site but I'm still exhausted.  I have been married to my ADD husband for almost 7 years.  I'm not sure exactly when it started getting worse but five or six months ago all we were doing was fighting.  I was not totally aware of how difficult life is for him and letting my anger take control.  He started avoiding me.  I worked all day and most nights at three jobs while he was unemployed and doing the things he wanted to do (or perhaps felt he needed to do -- things I find odd but that he finds important -- like collecting "valuable" items from dumpsters and then finding a place for said items in a storage trailer) and when I came home he would either already be gone or on his way out the door.

We separated in March for a short time and began getting counselling both together and separate and he is now seeing a psychiatrist so his meds can be properly managed.  This has helped but not 100%.  Finding this site helps me to better understand ADD and especially ADD in a marriage.

I should mention that he has been diagnosed with ADD for several years, before we married.  But it seems to be getting worse.  Is this possible?  Or is it me having less tolerance?  I feel like I'm the parent -- I've seen others make this same comment so I know I'm not crazy.  I've raised my three kids.  I want a husband!  Not another kid!  He realizes this, he's the one who actually said this is why I'm so angry, so it's not like he's oblivious to this problem. 

I can't talk to my/our friends any more about my difficult marriage because they want to know why I stay with him in the first place.  It's good to know there are other women in similar situations, even though I wish no one had to live like this! 

Is there a chat room online that any one knows of?  Sometimes I want a person to talk to RIGHT NOW or I feel like I'm going crazy.  Our friends do listen if I'm having a particulary bad day but many don't understand why I stay with him.

I stay with him because I love him and want to be with him.  I didn't marry him for the good times, ya know?  And after reading much of the posts on this site I believe we can work it out -- I understand better that there are things I need to do differently.  I was already picking up on that through the counselling.  This just reinforces the counsellor's advice and adds to it.

Some of the things he does:  sleeps ALOT -- it blows my mind!  Hasn't worked in over a year.  Collects things other people have thrown away and stores it, then spends hours (usually at night) "processing" this stuff.  He says it's worth money but he won't part with it.  Puts off important things: calling the psychiatrist, going to the dentist, paying bills.  He gets over-bearing in social situations -- wants to be the center of attention -- a lot of this is covered on this site and I will try some of the suggested techniques.  Wanders off without telling me he's leaving or if he gets mad at me he'll go away sometimes for up to 24 hours.  Has very little concept of time.  Gets really angry over small things and denies this -- says he's just joking around.  I get scared when he does this.

All of this is familiar to all of you, I'm sure from reading so much of the same here today. 

Here's my part in the marriage:  I returned to school and got my BA and MA during our marriage while working part time for most of my years as a student.  (He worked some, too.)  I now have 3 jobs to support us.  One job is the basic 9-5 with good insurance, the second is teaching at night which requires lots of planning and research and writing, the third freelance research, it's sporadic -- usually done on lunch hours and other squeeze in times.  So I'm tired at the end of the day.  I should say that I LOVE my jobs so at least I don't have the stress of a bad work environment. I'm also a neat freak.  I like my house to be clean, very clean.  Especially the bathroom and kitchen.  I like things to be where they belong so I don't have to waste time looking for whatever it is I want (Husband likes to re-arrange things, like where the scissors and saran wrap and pens are).  I don't like to be alone.  After work when I have time I like to go out, I like to be with my husband and our friends.  He's often asleep but when I go to bed he'll go out and do things -- go to a bar or just drive around, even with the price of fuel!

Things we've tried: lists used to work very well; he won't do them any more.  I ask him to do one or two things each day to help me (take something out for dinner, do laundry) or remind him of one or two things HE said he wanted to do.  How many times have I come home to find him laying in bed and he admits he's been there all day?  I couldn't tell you.  And of course the counselling and new psychiatrist and new meds. 

My husband accuses me of criticizing and persecuting him.  Perhaps this is what it seems like to him.  To me, it seems like he is torturing me.  Because he has ADD he can sleep when he wants, have no responsibility, spend the money I earn and want so desparately to save, and get angry (he denies this) at me for being fed up.

I want a better life.

I know he loves me.  He is fun, brilliant, creative, sexy, kind, helpful to others to a fault, insightful.  He does help me in a lot of ways and he was so supportive of me when I was in school.  He compliments me and is, as far as I know, faithful.  He's a huge flirt (did I mention he is sexy?) and his flirtations with other women are usually in front of me, not disrespectful, and flattering.  Our sex life is good, not what it used to be, but I'm not complaining.

I am trying to just have a life when he sleeps or is depressed or doesn't want to do things.  I spend time with my friends and try not to say anything to them about how miserable I am.

If I had to quantify our relationship I'd say I'm about 75% leaning toward divorce.  I want a better life for both of us.  I want some peace and happiness for myself.  I want help financially and emotionally.

Thanks for listening and any advice.  The anger and frustration suck, to put it bluntly.  It's wearing me out.  Oh, and thanks for the hope.




I understand what your going

I understand what your going through.You may find reading my posted article below..."social situations and forgetting" and how others responded helpful. In reading your issues...it reminded me of things that are also going on in my relationship...exactly..that I forgot to write about.I am not married to my partner,but I go back and forth with whether or not I want to stay in the relationship. The best advice I would give you for where you are at...what I have found helpful....is to give yourself space from him and as much time for yourself as you can.Not because you don't care about them,but you have to give YOURSELF a mental/emotional break and be able to clear your head before you make ANY decisions. Heres the thing.I think a person gets so caught up in their own anger and frustration about the partner that you can't stop.Even worse...you want to keep preaching,keep nagging,keep throwing ADD/ADHD books at them,suggesting counseling,etc,etc. and they just get more mad at you and then your more mad because they are resisiting and it turns into a big cycle.As much as I appreciate some of these comments on be more patient with them...lets be honest we sometimes need to just plain vent on here and say our honest feelings before we can get to a place of even being patient with them.You have to stop the cycle.I know from experience.Then get away from the situation.Do not go and vent to your friends about your partner,because your right..they will just say.."Why are you with him then?Just leave em!"etc,etc. You need to do a hobby you enjoy.If your a spiritual person,go that route.Exercising,walks,hikes for me is HUGE! It helps release your anger and clear your head.Guess what else...when you come home...some of those things they do..suddenly don't bother you anymore,because your to wore out to hound em about it.(a little humor there) Read about other things that are not always about ADD.Do things for yourself.Massages,quite music,be with nature,etc. Once you clear your head,then you can make CLEAR decisions.Don't make harsh decisions out of anger and resentment.Make decisions when your at a place of peace and know for sure it is the right thing to do.I totally understand those days of wanting to forget it all and walk out the door!That is your cue that you need a break for yourself. I have even started not sleeping at nights for the last month because my anger and anxiety about having an ADD partner has escalated.So I have chosen to sleep in the other bedroom and not sleep together.Again,it has really helped for me to deal with my own emotions about the situation. It doesn't mean you have a bad relationship..just sometimes you need an emotional break from it all. Then when your at peace a little more.Then you can come back and talk to them calmly and deal with the issues much better. Like you...my partner also sleeps...a lot and needs naps.We also struggle with finding hobbies that we enjoy together.We went to counseling on these very subjects and the counselour suggested to us to think outside the box.Each write down five to ten things on a piece of paper that you would like to do together that neither of you has talked about doing before.That helped us a lot and was really fun! When he naps,go and do something for yourself,don't take it personal.I have learned that ADD people need a lot of rest as they struggle so much to concentrate on not getting distracted,etc.Talk about when he wakes up,if you and him could do something together. Also we have found that him taking a nap before an evening out either us alone or with others...is HUGE! Otherwise you can bet they get crabby,leave early and have a poor attitude about going out,etc.Sometimes they need a nap for the sanity of everyone. Good Luck and remember....when you are frustrated...give YOURSELF a break,it is too easy to turn it on them and ALL the time.I hope you find peace!
Mylank's picture


Thanks for your response.

I had read your post about social settings and did find it helpful -- that and just about everything else I've found here.

I've been doing things for me.  If he says he doesn't want to do something or that he plans on sleeping all day (because he was up all night) I just say "OK! I'm going to the lake!" or whatever it is I want to do and I GO and I have a GOOD time!

You're right about not venting to friends.  I've stopped doing that.  Now I say nice things about hubby to them, I brag about it.  They are still looking at me funny -- because it's such a huge change -- but at least they aren't saying "why are you with him?"

Thanks again!!


It sounds as if your husband is seriously depressed. Okay, I'm not a doctor, but please figure out how to get him TREATED for his depression! Sometimes we all need help, even men, and some of the hallmarks of depression are things like sleeping too much, not being able to find the motivation to get yourself out of a rut, etc. Sounds familiar, right? Neither your husband nor you should use ADD as an excuse for what is happening to you. It might be a reason some of the things are happening, but then the two of you have the opportunity to make things change (one thing is for certain - life ALWAYS changes...the only question is in what direction, and can I influence that direction?) And, it's never just ADD - it's ADD and your responses to his ADD that create the problems. I have recently read a book about negotiation that I think might be of interest to you. It's called "Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate" by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro. It was written for the business market, but some of what it lays out, and particularly the "five core concerns" of negotiation are very relevant for your situation (at least I think so). I am currently reading another book that, though I am not all the way through it, I think shows particular promise for you, called "How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It". I suggest this because of your words "I get scared when he does this." The book is based on the idea that fear and shame play a huge role in how couples interact. I think, if you read both of these books back to back you'll find a great deal that is relevant for your specific situation. Back to depression...My father went through a really, really ugly depression many years ago that I remember was so devastating for our family that I still remember it quite clearly. When I asked my mother as she was going through it how she dealt with it, she said that this was the "worse" part of "for better or for worse" and that she knew her husband was sick and that she had to have patience until he got better. In that case, she was most decidedly right. You sound as if the two of you are in the classic ADHD marriage struggle, made more difficult by depression (or maybe it's just a really severe case of avoidance). He needs to treat that depression, and you need to treat your anger (which is definitely making your marriage, and you, much, much worse). Your words ("My husband accuses me of criticizing and persecuting him...to me, it seems like he is torturing me") combined with the "I know he loves me..." paragraph point to a marriage that most likely could be saved but in which you are adding to your joint problems by how you are dealing with him. Make no mistake, you are IN CRISIS. Your husband experiences your anger and must interpret it in a way that says you don't love him. You experience his withdrawal and feel the same, in spite of what you write. Neither one of you is happy. Decide who you want to be. His mother, or his lover? If you want to be his lover, then be one. Don't act like his mother! Another dimension of deciding who you want to be is answering the question "am I really going to let this relationship, and MY ANGER, distort me like this???" NO!!! Drop your anger. Leave it in the past. It only hurts you, it doesn't help you. Get a therapist to help you, if you need to. Then, be the good person you want to be - visualize that person in your head, and start being that person. Stop thinking "marriage" and start thinking "relationship"...what do you want out of this relationship? How would YOU (forget about him for a second) make a better relationship - one that works for you BOTH? How would you treat him? How would you like to be treated, and how could you get that across in a nice way? (For me, that doesn't include bowing to his every whim, nor does it include allowing myself to be angry all the time...you'll need to figure out what works for you.) I turned my marriage around when my husband had an affair, and I was able to look at him from another person's perspective. Though the affair was a great shock, in spite of our deep troubles at the time, I was able to step back and say "Wow, I really do still love this man! Now I've pretty much lost him...but we still have kids, so I've got to figure out what to do so that we are still speaking to each other in the future." His attractiveness to someone else reminded me that he was actually a darned good person, and that how we had been behaving had warped us both...I mourned that this had happened, and then decided to take charge of my life again. No more anger directed at trying to change him- it would do me no good (he had too good an alternative option to put up with my anger any more) and, as I looked at it I realized that my anger had also not been good for me...it had warped me into a mean, bitter person. So, no more anger for me, either. I replaced it, almost overnight, with calm. I looked back to who I thought I used to be (a person I liked quite a bit more than the person I had become through all this distortion) and vowed, for my own self-respect, and for my children, to be that person again. And so I was. I can't say "just like that" because it had taken years to get to that very low, low point to show me the necessity of making these changes, but once I decided to do it, then the change was pretty much instant. (But you can't play act it - my husband's affair, and a short two-week interval that we had before he was scheduled to take a vacation with his girlfriend served as the catalyst I needed to change - for ME, not for him.) But the surprise result was this - I erased my anger and became me again Anger wasn't my core feature any more...thoughtfulness and flexibility, were. I decided that my happiness was important (that he might or might not be part of that happiness - buy only if he earned it), and I decided to forgive us BOTH for the terrible mess we had made of our lives. A new person emerged. My husband didn't believe it (and his girlfriend surely didn't believe it, after all the bad stuff she had heard about me for the previous year). But then he saw just enough of a glimmer of the person with whom he had fallen in love, that he decided to try again with me. He still loved ME, he just didn't love the person I had become. And I still loved HIM, even though I most certainly hated the person he had become through his own anger and avoidance. Now, as you know from this site, we are doing beautifully, and we have a deep, deep, caring and trusting relationship. I don't know how to create that sense of crisis for you - though you are most certainly in it. You need to get out of the behavioral patterns into which you have gotten, and you need to let go (completely) of the anger which now dominates (and ruins) your relationship. It doesn't matter who is to blame for how you got to where you are. Not at all. You have BOTH contributed to it - probably in equal measure, though that may surprise you. What matters is that you are happy in the future, and that you feel that you are actively (and successfully)working towards building that future. (Which, by the way, doesn't have to include your current husband...however, it sounds as if you fell in love with each other for good reasons and that much of the love is still there, so you might consider trying to save the relationship. If you do, think of it as a "relationship" not a "marriage" and that might help break you out of some of the hidden landmines associated with expectations about what marriage is all about (like being supported by your husband)) As you are working to build whatever happy future you might have, with or without him, think "today" and "tomorrow" and put the past behind you. In fact, for a while at least, consider making the past "off limits" unless you see something from the past that absolutely must be dealt with in order to live today. (And that does NOT include figuring out whom to blame for something that has happened in the past.) I've blabbed enough here for now. If you read this before Sept. 16, you may want to join the live chat I'll be on at 11:30 am EDT - still typing, but more immediate feedback - if you have any questions. See the home page of this site for further info. Melissa Orlov P.S. They don't call it the "seven year itch" for nothing...it's a tough time for many, many marriages.
Mylank's picture

Depression -- you bet


He does suffer from depression -- he's on prozac for that.  We are also still in counselling and have discussed the depression.  I'll bring it up this week, see if we need to do more.

Thanks for the reading suggestions.  I'll look into both books this week.

You are absolutely right about my anger needing to be brought under control.  I've actually not been to this Web site for some time because A) I was reading _Driven to Distraction_ and B) our relationship suddenly got better.  After first finding this site and reading over it, I went home and told husband about it.  And I told him "I've been handling things and doing things completely wrong" and I apologized.  He couldn't believe it.  Since then he has been really trying not to annoy me and I've been totally controlling my anger.  Even when he gets exhausted and crabby, I just smile and hug him and move on.  Yesterday he slept all day -- I got some work done that I'd been putting off and the only thing that made me mad was his snoring.  But all I did was tell him to go to bed (he was on the couch) if he was gonna snore.  Also, as I said in response above, I've been doing what I want.  I don't have to have him attached to me to have a good time.  If he doesn't want to go, I go without him and  have fun.  This makes life so much better for both of us.  I get to have some relaxation time, he gets to putz or sleep or whatever without me nagging him.

I'm realistic -- I know we will have future rough spots, but now I know how to deal with them.  We agreed to remind each other of how good this has been if we feel a fight coming on.  We made that agreement one week into this blissfulness and that was a week and a weekend ago -- so 2 weeks+ of being happy, calm, loving, relaxed, etc. 

Who would have thought "dropping the anger" would have done so much?  For anyone else going through this -- STOP BEING ANGRY!


I just wanted to say that I

I just wanted to say that I have found the same thing! It makes such a difference to get your own emotions and anger under control first.Your so right! We learn the hard way though..that is for sure. Otherwise we unfairly attack them over and over.It sure helps to bring peace to the relationship..not completely,but it helps!
Mylank's picture

Blissful peace!

We definitely have peace and how nice it is!  Glad for your success, too! 

It's so different at my house.  A month ago I would never have believed it would change so quickly or that I was the one who needed to make a huge change. 

Not everything is perfect -- I still have to ask him to do things that to me are obviously in need of attention, he still sleeps during the day and stays up all night doing what interests him.  But, he is home when I get home, we smile at each other and are very affectionate, if I ask him to do something he says OK, and if it doesn't get done I just ask again very nicely.  I know it will get done eventually.  AND, I know when to back off and just do something myself without getting my ducks all scattered about it.

I worry some about this ending and I've expressed this concern to my husband but as more time goes by the more I'm able to relax and simply enjoy having a loving relationship again.

Will Newfound Blissfull Peace Continue?

Bravo to you for your successes!  You ask whether or not your peace will continue...the answer is that now that you've gotten here, and know that you CAN get here, you can make it continue.  Which is not to say you won't have any setbacks.  I wrote about one that I had  this year, after a longer period of peace than you've had at this post.  I'm thinking you might want to read it because it offers specific ideas about how to get past a "blast of anger from the past" (and, as I look at the post now, I realize I was still a bit mad when I wrote it...the tone is more aggressive than usual...but the advice is still sound.)

You've seen the other side now and know that you can live together in a loving way...keep up the great work, and continue to build a "history" of enjoying each other, and eventually you won't even worry about going back to that really awful place you used to be.

Mylank's picture

This line has been disconnected

Hi Melissa,  I'm assuming the post you referred to in above comment is the one about your phone being disconnected.  I read it and found the steps you took helpful and comforting.  I've bookmarked the page so I can run to it if needed.

Mylan and I had a small set back this weekend.  We were babysitting our niece and nephew, ages 4 and 1, and in preparation I asked him to please be there to help, i.e., no falling asleep or wandering off.

Right off the bat my sister in law made some man-hating comment that I forgot quickly but at the time I thought it was hilarious and laughed loudly.  It was enough to ruin most of the weekend.  Mylan did help with the kids but at the park he wandered away and Saturday night he slept 12 hours leaving me to put the kids to bed and deal with them in the morning.  I survived and didn't blow up at him.  I just apologized for hurting him, reminded him it wasn't intentional, and then smiled as much as possible through the weekend. (Our youngest is 18 -- having little ones around was trying for me.)

Today, Monday, he has been asleep all day.  Literally.  I went to work, worked at home after work, made dinner, did some housecleaning, entertained his friend who popped by, all while he slept.  Am I angry?  No, just disapointed.  And trying to understand and remember that he is not me.

better times

My husband and I are going thru some of the exact same things.  He sleeps a lot, doesn't sleep at night, loves to start projects in the garage,etc.  We've been thru a lot the last couple of years.  Just recently I started to do things that made me happy.  So what if he wants to hang out with friends when I want to be home on the couch? I let him go, and he comes home happy to see me. I've stopped nagging him. I'll give him the oppurtunity to do the task,and if he doesn't then I nicely mention it to him. He usually does whats required just not on my schedule or exactly how I saw it being done.  Also, we've learned that its ok for one of us to leave for a little while during a heated argument.  Come back later when you've cooled off and then talk about it.  Anger can be a huge roadblock to compromise.  My husband was on prozac but had to stop b/c we are trying to have a child.  He is more relaxed than ever and he says its b/c I'm not nagging him about something.  I still speak my mind but I pick my time. I really did used to "nag" him. I did it b/c I wanted to have control of how things were done. I needed that b/c my household seemed out of control That had to stop. I've also learned that negative comments send him into defense mode really quickly.  I think its b/c of the negative comments he heard growing up. "you're lazy,stupid,etc" When he hears anything negative now,its like tearing an old wound.  When things start to get a little stressful just remember that they are better!!

Mylank's picture

in common

It's so great to meet people who have similar relationships as mine.  Not that I want anyone else to go through this, but you know, for the support.  I felt so alone for too long.

I still sometimes harp on my man, but like you I try to keep it limited to when it really needs to happen -- for instance this weekend we babysat our niece and nephew and he's the kid-person, not me, so I told him I'd need his help the entire weekend, not just when it was convenient for him.  Well, he got mad at me for something and I spent a portion of the weekend single handedly caring for a one year old and four year old.  It was very stressful for me.  I have kids, but they were that young a very long time ago and I don't tolerate little kids well.  I love these kids very much and they are well-behaved so it helped, but I'm rambling now.  We got through the weekend, the kids left, and we had some alone time -- apart from one another -- and it helped.

You mentioned negative comments from his past -- my husband was abused mentally and physically by his mother.  So if I say to him, "ya know, if you could just tell me your leaving before disappearing for 24 hours I wouldn't worry and get angry," he says "I've been abused all my life and I won't take it from you."  I'm thinking "Huh?"  But that's the way they see it.  So I've learned to be very careful.  He still sometimes takes things the wrong way but we deal with it in new ways.  Recently he caught on to the fact that when he leaves for long periods of time, while he's doing it to calm down or avoid a fight, it isn't fair to me.  I've been trying to tell him this for 7 years.  Our marriage counselor has been trying to tell him since March.  But something was said recently -- I don't even know what -- that made it click for him. 

How's it going without the prozac?  You said that he's more relaxed because he thinks your nagging him less.  What about his depression?  I'm assuming that's why he was on prozac.  If my man doesn't take prozac he gets extremely depressed, horribly depressed.  Not necessarily suicidal but he just goes to bed to hide from his inner pain and nothing will get him up.  He can stay there for days.