Feeling fed up and quiet

I looked for this forum out of sheer desperation.  I am SOOOOOOOOOOO... fed up with my husband.  I am not even sure if/how much I care anymore.  I didn't get married until my late 40s and had been a single, independent, professional woman until then.  I adopted a couple of children along the way on my own and our life was good - not perfect, but comfortable.  I married to enhance my life and share it with someone.  What I have gotten instead is a whirlwind of chaos, embarrassment and shame in this sham of a marriage.  It feels crazy.  I feel like I have two choices - (1) live in this clutter and chaos - being responsible for every detail because my husband can't/won't handle things and swallow the anxiety and frustration that I feel; or (2) pack his bags and put them on the boulevard.  (The house is in my name.);  My husband talks a good game and can be a very kind and loving person - on his terms.  Things around here are a mess.  His ADHD drives me crazy and he doesn't take personal responsibility to make it better.  Oh he will go to a counselor or get meds if I insist, but it is just for awhile.  As soon as things "calm down" (aka I "calm down") he tinkers around the edge of the issues for awhile, but eventually he goes back to his old ways.  Last year I found out that he hadn't filed income taxes for 3 out of 4 years we were married.  (We filed separately because he had a huge debt to the IRS when we got married.) When I told him to move out because of the lies, he really started to get his act together.  Short lived though.  He exhibits the responsibility of a teenager - inconsistent and wanting someone else to take care of things for him.  And NO WAY am I willing to sign on for that.  When I talk to him about things that are bothering me - like totally destroying the kitchen and leaving it for me to cope with (for days and days if possible) while he reads downstairs - he either makes me the wicked witch and him the victim... or he gives me this half smile like "what about you?"  Am I perfect?  Not on your life... but I don't live in the extremes that he presents.  It drives me crazy.  He can't hear well - refuses to keep his hearing aids in - (has lost two pair at the cost of 4 - 6k per set), and then sulks when I don't want to sit and shout to have a conversation with him.  He never took care of his teeth and now has lost one of his front ones.  At age 60 and a professional pastor - I go in public with him only to have him open his mouth and without his false teeth.  He refuses to keep a calendar and then agonizes or bothers everyone to find out when/where things are going to happen.  His car is  unbelievable it is so packed and filthy ... then he wants to use mine when we go anywhere or have to transport someone.  I could go on and on.  Now on other things... he is like clock work... always mows the lawn, takes out the garbage to the curb on Friday mornings, etc.  So... makes me think that some of this is choice on his part too.  His comment is usually that he doesn't understand why I can't "overlook" things or help him (aka take care of him).  I detest him a lot of the time, quite honestly, and my life becomes more separate from him while under one roof day by day.  I made a commitment to this marriage and I would like to honor it.  But I am so miserable and I feel like I have been robbed of my dignity when I am with him.  He just doesn't seem to care and I have no desire to take care of him.  Feedback anyone?  I don't even want to argue with him - I just want him to go away.  Help!

Tired old man's picture

Welcome to a place of rest.

Hello Dptilleraas...your frustration rings loud and clear in this forum and it breaks my heart to hear of your heartache.  While I wish you had no need to be here, I'm glad you've made your voice heard in a place that offers support for those who ache and are seeking healing and understanding of their current position.  I wish I had some sage advice to balm your discomfort, but I don't.  My journey is equally as painful and confusing.   I can only offer a sympathetic ear, and assure you that you are not alone. But there are many, many people here on the site that offer tremendous wisdom and insight.  Take the good and pass on the bad, and remember that this is a space that you've created for your own healing.  Like a touchstone, keep in the back of your mind that there is a safe place to speak and you can use it as much or as little as you need.  That thought keeps me feel safe in my darkest times.  You're in my thoughts and prayers this day.  

Your story sounds so

Your story sounds so familiar. To be honest, seems like your husband has such a long way to go that even if he had a good attitude it would still be a struggle for him. And he doesn't even seem to be serious about getting his act together.

it's not just that you should not be sucked totally dry and taken advantage of. You should also be listened to, respected and loved. You should give and get back. Seems like a distant dream. I am in a very similar situation, except for that we have a big family and the kids are still young. I am going to wait till they grow up. If he changes on his own before that, I will reconsider. But I've helped him so much and still been made the wicked witch that I don't see him taking responsibility of his actions, getting rid of his appalling teenager attitude or growing a heart. So now I just try and build my own life.

Hoping for all the best for you,


To dptilleraas

Thank you for sharing this, and doing so in a way that both expresses your sheer frustration and is also respectful of all those on this site (and your husband).  It is obvious to you that you cannot continue on this path, and if you are at the point of "I detest him a lot of the time" then you have very little to lose by trying to really get him to pay attention to how his ADHD is impacting both your life and his.  Also, given what you've written, you probably are responding to him in a way that feels like you're being bitchy, controlling or belittling to him - that's the symptom/response/response sequence I talk about in my book.

Without trying sound as if I'm pushing my work, the best way that I've found to get folks with ADHD to look at their own contribution...and also those without ADHD to look at their own contribution...is to take my seminar, which is offered both in a recorded version and live.  Details are here.  It's structured to get people to face what they are up against, and then provide insight on making the changes they need to make.  It's helped a lot of couples recognize the issues and start the work they need to do.  But it's clear that no one makes changes until they genuinely understand that it's in their own best interests to do so.

You describe his being like clockwork on things that are his own (lawn work, etc) but not helping you.  This sounds as if he may be trying to exert some control over you by refusing to notice/care/help.  This is almost always a side effect of a parent/child dynamic in the relationship - he feels you are too much in control and/or arbitrary with what you request, so resists in areas in which you are involved (this is not always conscious, by the way).  It's effective in the short-term (he has more power) but very destructive in the long-term (you learn to detest him).  Anyway, I note this because it does suggest that you are also playing a role here that you will need to also come to terms with if you wish to successfully turn things around.  Parent/child is perhaps the most common dynamic in these relationships - almost impossible to avoid if you're not looking for it, in fact, but you can get around it.  And need to, as it's incredibly destructive and leads to all sorts of negative interactions between spouses.

You probably need to do some soul searching - are you willing to put in the time, energy and engagement with him that is necessary to turn things around?  Or have you already made up your mind that this won't work?  I can tell you that if he does treat his ADHD seriously, there is a decent possibility that many things could change...but also that this takes time and lots of work on the part of both people.  Also, you don't know how long this will take or exactly what the change will look like.  Do you have that time?  You've lived successfully and happily on your own for quite a long time - you have your own ways of doing things.  Are you interested in the compromises it takes to live with another imperfect human being (who isn't a child)?  I don't ask that to put pressure on you, but because it's a legitimate question.  Some folks aren't ready or interested in significant compromise, which is what I think you would likely have to make (so would he - it goes both ways.)  Your partner won't enhance the life you used to have so much as change the life you do have (as you've discovered) often in surprising (and sometimes negative) ways.  Something to noodle over.

Lots to think about

Thanks for the feedback Melissa.  I am all about self growth and am hesitantly excited that there may be a new way to look at this situation that may provide some hope.  I have gone to counseling several times over the past five years to try to gain some perspective on this situation - and to try and avoid the potential pitfall of taking responsibility for himj.  It is like he is just waiting for me to take care of things.  And you are so right - it is such a parent/child interaction.  I hate it.  I run a school during the day and the last thing that I want to do is to come home and have to be in charge too.  Anyone who things it is grand to be in charge has never been in charge.  You do every job no one else wants to do.  And so much is on your shoulders - especially in a middle management position.  My husband has a job with lots more flexibility, and frankly, lots less stress/demands most of the time. And it is a double bind... it is like he wants someone to take care of things (namely me) and is angry that I won't care take... yet, when I lay out my needs, his response is so juvenile.  I have told him lots of times that we teach people how we want them to treat us.  If he ignores my needs/requests until I have a melt - is he really wanting me to have melts to get my needs met?  We have less and less "shared space" - physically and emotionally.  It is my best way of avoiding chaos and strife.  We are pretty estranged from one another at this point - he lives in the basement and I come home and go to my daughter's room (she is at college).  The other day we had a not so pleasant interaction and he accused me of having an affair and preparing to file for divorce.  I was so frustrated with his comment- not only that he would make the accusation, but more so, that he would find a way to blame me for everything - avoid owning his stuff - and make him the eternal victim.  Ugh.  He is pretty good at avoidance, a master actually.  I bet he could live in that basement watching net flix and reading for an eternity, avoiding anything that feels unpleasant to him.  I just can't live like that.  Life "happens" to him and he goes belly up.  That doesn't work for me.  I try to take things head on.  My goodness.  It is beyond challenging.  He lives in a state of paralysis and licks his wounds.  I don't mind a bit of that - but then do some creative problem solving and get going.  Enough said... My husband has many, many good points.  Our core values are similar.  He is well meaning (I think).  But I just hate the way he handles (or doesn't handle) his personal life.  It causes me such stress!  And I feel so embarrassed and on the defensive.  For me?  I have lots to learn and frankly, that excites me.  I am typically an optimist and conflict/challenges are just hurdles to overcome.  Sure I get defensive and knock off for a bit, but then I find my resolve and go forward.  The looming question in my marriage, however... can/will he ever make changes.  If not, I won't live like this, its not worth it.  So... where do I start?  Talking to him is futile.  In fact, I told him a year ago that I was totally open to marriage counseling IF he initiated it.  I didn't want to own that too.  And I know that it would be perceived as me trying to "fix" him.  I gave him all sorts of information, referral resources, etc.  And then I left it with him.  Well, that was last October... exactly a year ago.  Suggestions?

Some conundrums...

I'm delighted to hear you say that your husband has many good points and shares your values - that's a good start.

It's a strange conundrum - asking someone who can't take charge of things to take charge of setting up marriage counseling...pretty typical, but also ripe for failure.  My suggestion at this point - tell him you want to take the couples course together (live if you need the "push" each week - my next live course starts in January)  It's pretty low-involvement on his part - just get on the phone for a bit each week...but it might help him see better what's happening in your relationship and help him look harder at himself and how much the ADHD is running his life (the way you describe how he manages / doesn't manage his life is TYPICAL ADHD).  Reassure him that you aren't asking for any specific action as a result of taking the course - only that you wish that you both were better informed...and see where it goes from there.

It's hard to overcome avoidance and retreat...the only way, really, is to understand why it is happening.  Another conundrum as when one of you is in retreat, the other has trouble pinning them down for serious conversations that lead to better understanding...hence the importance of a third party (in this case, the third party is my course and/or me).


One eternal question is "Will

One eternal question is "Will it work this time?". Will my work, compromises, sacrifices and understanding pay off this time if they did not make any difference before? Will the adhd spouse meet me half way this time or even take a step towards me without taking two steps back later? Will I exist for him/her this time as a person deserving of love, comfort and fair play?

At some point, you just loose faith. Especially if life is still miserable after years of trying and compromising. Or you may find something to believe in but that something might not be your marriage.

It also comes down to expectations. If my spouse learned to be more responsible about everyday stuff (which is very difficult for him and would lighten my burden), would I in return settle for a a marriage where I don't feel loved or comforted (which would ease his burden and be very difficult for me)? This kind of compromise might be possible on some level, yet the idea of living without reciprocal love is, in the long run, horrifying.

How many times should a person try? In how many different ways? How many years, gallons of tears or sad looks in the faces of one's kids should one overlook? What are the most important things in life?

Sorry for sounding slightly pathetic, but I feel these are valid questions, too.


Mysteria, I agree with you

Mysteria, I agree with you and feel the same way about my spouse.  I don't think you sound pathetic at all.  

I feel the same pain every single day

I wonder the same thing.  I wonder why I stay, why I try, why I even still care.  I feel like I will never be able to just leave and get over it and be done with it.  With all the hurt and pain, anger, hatred, disappointment and misery I KNOW that if our marriage were to end, and he was with someone else, I would die inside.  Answer me WHY?????  

I have been so hurt, so permanently changed, and in the worst possible way, by this man and this relationship....yet here I am, here he is and here WE are.  :(

Count me in with both of you and all the pain our hearts have endured.

I agree,,,

I'm with you Rosered.  I don't think Mysteria's comments sound pathetic either.  I just feel so bad for her pain.  It is a terrible spot to be in and I totally understand the fear of gearing up to hope for change.  But the opposite of faith is fear.  And it is hard to have no guarantee.  

In the same boat

I have been married to my husband for 30 years and know exactly what you are going through. My husband was recently diagnosed with ADHD . I have left after the third affair I am now putting myself first. Like you it was the lying I found difficult to come to terms with I never believed he would lie to me. He is very charming and nice but also blames me for every thing. I also find he gets around me and others by telling us what we want o here. He is on Ritalin but though he says it has cleared his muddled mind and he doesn't feel so impulsive I don't believe it us stopping all his bad behaviours also he hasn't stopped drinking to excess. With a physiologists help I know I now need to put myself first at the end of the day know matter what is causing his bad behaviour it is happening and I can't stop it. Good luck try to think about what is best for you

I understand how dp feels

I, too got married in my forties and totally relate to description. I just did not sign up for this! We just had a loud argument--and right after my seeing my counselor for goodness sakes! He started telling me all this clinical stuff about what he's discovering about his ADHD with his counselor. I ask if they're discussing any coping and communication strategies because I'm really not seeing it after 10 months already. He tells me that basically the counselor is providing intervention not PREVENTIVE ones. He tells the counselor our latest fight and then they discuss how he can not add fuel to the fire. This makes me sound like the problem--again.

He had the nerve to accuse me, Ms. Everything has a place, for just flinging a pack of paper towels under the sink because he says "I didn't do it!" He routinely forgets that he routinely forgets. That I've also been laid up recovering from foot surgery and there is no way I could reach down to that lower cabinet, and that just flinging things in spaces because he doesn't want to take the time to properly place them is not my MO but his! 

This escalates into a full blown because I am so tired of his consistently naming me as the forgetful one and then when he discovers that he's wrong either ignores that or huffs off like he's a teen! The rationalizations, justifications, and many times straight out lies he comes up with to coerce and cover his actions and/or protect himself drive me crazy with anger and frustration and I show it and shout. Then I look like the ultimate nut case because in these moments he becomes so calm. He told me, "I've been trying to have a civil conversation with you for 15 minutes, but you're not rationale." I said it hasn't been and then he triumphantly flings his hands in the air and says, "Yes! It has been because I watched the clock, so there!" And walks off. Childish one-upmanship crap!

I've told him about this site, but he doesn't look at it. A year ago I sent him Melissa's article on men who aren't convinced that their ADHD is effecting their marriage, he said "Yes, I read it, but that's not me." 

Tonight, I told him after 7 yrs. I am so tired of doing and being it all and he had the nerve to yell "So am I because I'm the one working!" I couldn't believe it! He's shoves my lay off in my face and forgets that since we've been together I've been the primary breadwinner while going to school, cleaning the house, paying the bills, and cleaning up his financial messes, etc. as he spent like water! Then when I quietly said "Good, then separating won't be a problem" he stopped in his tracks saying that it would, he didn't want that. Then why, why, why won't he listen?!!!!!  And now that he's the breadwinner, he refuses to leave the apt. I paid for and provided or divorce me...I feel so very stuck, depressed, and hopeless right now. I know it's the moment because I'm basically a strong person (which before we argued, he was just saying to me and I know that he counts on), but I'm so through with him and losing me that I'm not sure how long I can take this. But I have to until I find a new job so I can pay our debts and break away clean of any association.

God, I'm so tired...and I don't want to talk with let alone argue with him either...just want him to go away...I'm so sad and angry with myself for allowing myself to get caught up in this relationship and marriage. I won't make the same mistake again...thanks for listening anyway....