Family Frustrations

My ADHD hubby's family is on my last nerve. I guess it's because after four years of marriage, we're actually living in the same town as them, so we're back into the honeymoon phase of sorting out family dynamics.

To start, I have a hard time not feeling resentful towards his parents. Because hubby was homeschooled, no one ever picked up on his ADHD until he was married to me. I know that a lot of folks have been dealt with that hand and hubby says that he sort of glad that he was never diagnosed because he wouldn't be the same person. But along with that has been the years of damage he's done to his parents. And now his sister's husband is on the war path, dragging up past wrongs, and generally causing mayhem.

Hubby's parents don't believe in ADHD. They'll give him money for his Dr visits or meds, but at the heart of things, they still don't understand. I've sat in the same room with hubby's dad and heard him say that he could never understand why hubby could never get out of bed to do things he wanted to do. I wanted to scream, "It's the ADHD!!" But I can't.

There's other dysfunction at play, unfortunately. Hubby was the first and much longed for child, and I feel that his parents want him placed in a glass box. They never supported his ambition to be a cop--well not until he was three years in and just before he was fired for tardiness. And now, he wants a motorcycle as his primary vehicle, which entails selling an older truck that his dad gave him. His dad doesn't want him to have a motorcycle because he might get hurt or killed. He would prefer us to sell the truck and get a newer car for me to drive so that hubby could have the car I drive. But that's not on the table. In any case, I was under the impression that his dad was OK with us selling the truck, that he knew hubby would do what he wanted to do. But then when our brother-in-law found out (via my Facebook) about the bike, he got all upset and went to hubby's dad and got him stirred up. When I confronted him about it, he ran off at the mouth and pretty much dredged up every bad thing my hubby has done in the last 5 to 10 years. I know my hubby has made mistakes, but do I really need to be reminded of it when I'm working to forgive and forget? I'm happy with hubby now, more than I have been since we got married. Hubby is going back to school, getting his life in order, and all his family can do is dwell on his mistakes and cause trouble. It infuriates me!

Can anyone else sympathize?

It sounds like your husband

It sounds like your husband needs to come clean with his family about his ADHD. I've had similar situations with my in-laws; however, my husband likes to pretend he doesn't have an illness so it just leaves everyone baffled at his behavior. It sounds like your in-laws don't understand either, I would educate them.

It's very hard, I know.....

When my husband was first diagnosed, he was so "happy" (as was I, honestly) to have a "reason" for all this disconnected, inappropriate and hurtful behavior. Honestly, at that point in time, I, being the medical professional, assumed something worse, such as early onset Alzheimers, dementia, even GOD forbid, a brain tumor.  He gently told his Mother all about it, over a period of several days.  No real interest on her part, AT ALL!!!!  More denial than anything.....THEN....Dr Oz had a series of shows about "Adults With ADHD".  Apparently she watched all of them.  If DR OZ says it exists, then it does. She actually spoke a bit about it.  Didn't know where he got it from, was never picked up on in school or home life, or so she claimed.

A week or two later, in private, she actually, in her way, apologized to me, by saying she wished they had noticed it sooner, and felt bad for me as "it must be difficult".  That was ONE SINGLE SOLITARY TIME.  Now....a year later...wants NOTHING to do with it.  We will bring up doctor appointments, medication, ANYTHING in conversation and SHE WANTS TO HEAR NOTHING ABOUT IT.  One would think if no one else will listen, surely you could count on MOM.  Whether your child is 8 or 48, you care about them and want to be part of everything they will let you be....especially medical issues....NAH....she will ignore, change the subject...whatever she has to do, NOT to hear anything at all about it.

All I can say is that I agree, family involvement, in a normal world is ideal.  The more support the better.  The more people cheering on his self improvement the better.  I just hope your situation is different than mine, and that his parents are more receptive to the facts.

Pbartender's picture


"All I can say is that I agree, family involvement, in a normal world is ideal.  The more support the better.  The more people cheering on his self improvement the better."

Thanks for saying that, NJTWINMOM.

Those friends that I've told about my diagnosis think it's a either a joke or a scam...  So I stopped telling friends.

My family is sympathetic (most of them realize that they also show symptoms to one degree or another), but all live too far away to provide any real support on a regular basis.

My wife will sort of talk about my ADHD, if I bring up the subject, but she hasn't bothered to learn anything about it and when we do talk about it, she gets this squirmy, uncomfortable look about her and she changes the subject at the first opportunity.  She doesn't even know what medication I'm taking.

It can be very difficult and lonely to keep up the work and improvement, when you have no one to back you up except for the person you pay twice a month to do so and strangers on the internet.




Perhaps this explains your response to my other "less than supportive posts".  If only you knew me.  I am a MAJOR supporter of self help.

You seem ALL ALONE with this.   It must be very, very difficult and I support ANYONE who has it and does EVERYTHING WITHIN THEIR POWER to improve themselves as a person, to rectify years and years of wrongs and to try as well, to build trust and well being back within the marriage.

My husband GLADLY took the medication, he initially was receptive to seeing his Psychologist, reading all about how to change, and to get through the fog, but he has seemingly given up all but taking the meds.  I understand ADHD, I believe it does exist (how can I NOT)...I LIVE WITH IT every single day.  I see what it has done to me, to my children, to our family.  It is like a poison, systematically working its way through every person in the family and every person we dare to come in contact with, and since he is refusing to make changes and refusing to do anything further, I am finally....yes....finally....making the decision that I can no longer be a part of this dreary, miserable life.  I asked a favor of him last night.  Very small one.  He didn't do the favor.  Asked him if he perhaps forgot????  No, he simply "chose" not to do it.  To me, that is so juvenile, so hurtful and so against what marriage is all about.  I suppose a good portion of me realized last night that I SIMPLY DO NOT MATTER.  What things I think about, hold dear to me, small favors...not to mention large important ones...just DO NOT MATTER....and all that says to me is that I DO NOT MATTER.  

I have spent the better part of 34 years being lied to, misled, deceived, cheated on, hurt, and made to feel I am of no value at all.  He is passive aggressive though, so others don't see what myself and the kids see.  To the outside...he's such a really nice guy.  Then someone turns the switch, and he is the real person he is.  I could only wish he was that person that they see.  I'd settle for HALF that good. He can't, isn't and doesn't seem to strive to be that person for us, the wife and kids, the people at days end that matter most.

Keep trying no matter what everyone else says or does.  Do it for YOU.  That's what I told my husband in the beginning.  I may not always be around, but the children will ALWAYS be his children, and he claims to love them with every fiber of his being, so wouldn't he chose to be the BEST person he can be for himself and in turn for them?

Don't know.  Don't understand it.  Can't live with it much longer.  I have tried so hard....I really...really have. :(

Can't live with it much longer...

I am there... the can't live with it much longer.  I've been working on our relationship and "accomodating" nearly 19 years now.  My spouse still thinks he is wonderful because he does soo much.  I am just very bitter and need out.  I've contact two divorce attorneys but haven't mustered up the courage to follow thru with the appointment. My kids are confused too.  As long as he has money in his pocket and can play poker when he wants he is content.  If the kids or I have something we need to do which takes money or takes him away from his poker night then he is in a bad mood.  This can't be good for the kids.  They love their dad but understand he can't talk about things and goes thru bouts of he is present then he is not.  Right now he is playing the I'm such a great guy and let me do everything for you game.  When I let my guard down here comes the staying out all night or not paying bills on time or whatever the crisis of the moment is.  I had better close as I am not making much since here as my thinking is so very muddled with him acting so attentive because he knows I've reach the point of ending things.  Good Luck and say some prayers for me to have courage and do whatever I need to do to take care of my emotional and mental well-being.  If anyone has any encouragement, I sure could use it....

It makes ALL the difference!

By the time I was diagnosed with ADD, my little sister had been diagnosed years earlier and my mom, who is undiagnosed to this day but openly admits to being ADD herself, had read and learned all kinds of things and she and my dad had joined CHADD and attended parenting classes. So, it was no big deal when I was diagnosed, other than getting over my anger and frustration at having not had it noticed earlier, and the guilt on my mom's part over her not having seen it in me. But, my husband's story is much more akin to this. He had multiple teachers in school tell his parents they suspected ADHD and to get him to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. His parents ADAMANTLY refused. He had a really rough childhood and has spent years working through many of the emotional and mental scars left by his undiagnosed ADHD. When we were engaged, I continually told him I didn't care what his parents had said, I knew he had ADHD. I told him why I thought that. I showed him. I got him to read a couple of my books. He accepted it pretty readily, but still struggled for a few years with that voice in his head (thanks to his parents) that tried to tell him there is no such thing as ADD, and if there were he certainly didn't have it. (Side note: My father-in-law is so painfully obviously ADHD himself, as is one of my husband's sisters, but they would never listen to me about it.)

Fairly early in our marriage, I made the mistake of telling my mother-in-law once that I had him almost convinced to see someone about him being ADHD. You know in cartoons when someone gets suddenly violently angry and their eyes turn red and actually turn into daggers? Well, I've only seen that happen once in my life and it was right then. I thought my (still new) mother-in-law was going to actually leap across the table and strangle me when I said that. She got right in my face and wagged her finger at me and told me through gritted teeth, "Don't you DARE EVER do that! We have spent his whole life telling him there is nothing wrong with him, and I WON'T let you come along and tell him differently!"

Fortunately, although my husband still hears his parents' voices in his head telling him this is all just a hoax and a "crutch" for lazy, weak hypochondriacs, he doesn't listen to that voice anymore. He was relieved and excited to learn about ADHD and see how it had affected him throughout his life. A couple years ago he finally got an official diagnosis and started meds and it has made such a difference. He is supportive of me and my ADD, and is supportive and understanding of our ADHD kids. We finally sat down and had a very uncomfortable chat with his parents a year or so ago when we were there visiting and they wanted to know what all these pills everyone was taking were. It wasn't the easiest talk, but at least they halfway listened, especially when he started pointing out what a difference treatment has made for him, and told them he didn't hold any ill feelings toward them for pushing away any talk of it when he was younger because he knew they were doing what they thought was best for him.

I try to have the same great attitude about it. But, I still have some resentment towards them, especially his mother, when I think about how hard his childhood was for him or when I think about how much better off he would be in some ways if his parents hadn't been so stubborn and prideful. It really does make all the difference when there is support and understanding from loved ones. I still won't even mention ADHD around my in-laws because of the looks I get from my mother-in-law when I've tried. But, I know my husband mentions it occasionally, mostly in passing, when he talks to them on the phone. Thankfully, we don't live near them anymore and they aren't very involved in our lives. We do live near my folks, who are nothing but loving and understanding about ADD.

All I can say is that I agree, family involvement, in a normal world is ideal.  The more support the better.  The more people cheering on his self improvement the better. Amen to that!

ADHD and Divorce

I am so sorry to hear about your experiences. I have been on the ADHD marriage group for a few years and have never commented until now -- when it's already over.

I left my ex late last year because of untreated or poorly treated ADHD that led to procrastination and lying and behavioral problems and drug issues (we had tried eight different drugs from Focalin to Concerta to Adderal, Wellbutrin, etc). The only thing my ex needed to do to see my kids was to be seen regularly by a psychiatrist. Today I showed up to meet with the psychiatrist. Turn out, my ex hasn't been there in months. I want to scream at her family (also with ADHD, depression, OCD) for not helping her and scream at her friends for not helping her. 

I read your post about your in-laws. It is likely your husband has long-standing family mental illness. ADHD doesn't fall from the sky, it is likely part of the compound of his family somewhere. My ex's mom is depressed with OCD and has written suicide notes. My ex's brother is OCD and ADHD and has suffered depression since he was a teen. My ex is has ADHD, depression and probably some mild OCD tendencies. When I contacted her family, the message was clear: SILENCE. They provided no help, became angry with me (why would you be angry with me when your kid hits rock bottom?), blamed me and worst of all, didn't get my ex the help she needed.

Hang in there, but know, at least from the shoes I have walked in, you are not in an easy place.

My mom didn't believe it at first...

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then, God bless him:  Dr. OZ came along with his Adult ADD series!

My mom now accepts it, but I think what's happening with your MIL is that she is PAINFULLY aware now that your DH has ADD and remembers evidence from his childhood now that she's seen the Dr Oz thing.  She feels responsible for not doing anything, not recognizing it, not taking care of her child properly.  Any mention of it reminds her of this.  Heck, she's probably also realizing that maybe she's got it herself, and that she is frustrated at all of her own unrealized goals/dreams etc.

When we were kids, the only people diagnosed were the hyperactive ones.  Nobody realized that the inattentive types existed.  Hyper-focus was thought of as 'hey, this kid really IS super-smart!  He's just lazy and only does things right when it suits him.  he's selfish and lazy and spiteful and hurtful and we need to punish him regularly to keep him in line."

My mother always figured that I was really smart but just didn't WANT to do anything.  In reality, I had so many dreams that just evaporated because time and time again, I just 'couldn't get it together' or, would for a while and then fail...  or take a bold step... in no apparent direction.

I have no advice unfortunately... otherwise maybe talk to her about it? 


Have opened up a MILLION times for discussion.....she either just sits there and stares blankly into space or changes the subject immediately to something else.  

Both my husband and I have come to the obvious conclusion that it is HER, that he got it from.  She has every classic symptom and with age, it has only gotten worse.  I pray for ALL of us if that happens to out husbands as they age.  She is next to impossible to deal with.

I always wanted to stay local to my family, and never move away, but since they are all gone now, and it's just her, I would love to move far, far away and try to see if my husband and I would benefit from a new start.  Now though, I can't.  My kids are here and entering college in a few weeks.  Number one, I wouldn't leave them and two, in state residents are far less costly.

I feel soooooo stuck and sooooo alone.  I hope I can make it through the next 4 years.  I hope to get back to work soon, AND then who knows what other opportunities that may bring.  I'm only 48.....other than the joy I get from the children I love and adore, this simply CAN NOT be all there is for me in this life.

Thanks for the comments,

Thanks for the comments, ya'll.

I keep encouraging my hubby to sit down with his parents and have a chat about the ADHD, the effects of it, etc. He finds it so demoralizing that they're not supportive of him. Well his dad is supportive of him going back to school, but that's about it. He's adopted so on top of all of this, he feels like his brother-in-law is trying to take his place in the family by being the "good" son. It's heartbreaking and frustrating all at the same time.

What makes it all worse is that his sister is supposedly ADHD. She was diagnosed a year or so ago. But I just don't see it. She's very driven, on time, graduated top of her class, very responsible, (insert wonderful adjective here). If she is ADHD, then she is highly functioning. The problem is--their parents see that and then look at him and who knows what they think. Probably that there is something worse wrong with him. Or that they've failed miserably as parents or some sort of other malarkey. His sister just got her degree in counseling and seems convinced that hubby has Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't think it's true, and while I respect the fact that she has a masters, she's not a doctor! I'm sick because I made the mistake of confiding in her because I knew she could understand from a psychological standpoint, but now it appears she may have violated my trust. Her husband (the brother-in-law) knew way too much about me and my hubby's problems and then he claimed that sister was having to play psychologist to the parents. Oh and that hubby should get a job (he has a part-time one...better than nothing) and take better care of me. He obviously thinks that everyone should function as well as his wife (hubby's sister).

It's just a mess. Things are still keyed up as I type. My trust in my hubby has been rattled by all of the dredging up of the past and I'm having a hard time finding my equilibrium again. Ugh. I hate family strife.

Pbartender's picture

"Demoralizing"... the perfect word for it.  That's exactly what it feels like.