Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

Being a person who does not have ADHD married to a person who does have ADHD can be wonderful.  It can also be intensely frustrating.  I am a non-ADHD spouse married to a man who has ADHD.  Dr. Hallowell has the opposite - he has ADHD while his wife does not (part of the reason we are teaming up to write a book on this topic - we balance each other out!)  If you are a spouse without ADHD, you may well recognize much of what I am about to describe in your own marriage, for without a doubt I have experienced the "classic" ADHD-affected marriage.  Before going further, I will also tell you that while my husband and I have had significant struggles - born largely of his ADHD and my response to it, we now have a very strong relationship.  In fact, we are living proof that learning how to manage ADHD in your relationship can improve it immensely.

So, what does it feel like to be married to a person with ADHD when you do not have it yourself?  What are some of the basic patterns?

At first, it can be absolutely exhilarating to be with a person who has ADHD.  The energy!  The intense focus!  The creativity!  Dating a person with ADHD takes the thrill of any new relationship and magnifies it many times.

Then, once things settle down a bit, things can change dramatically.  I found myself completely confused and somewhat resentful, when the man I had married seemed to stop paying attention to me and started to spend much more time with his computer and his hobbies.  What about all that attention he lavished on me?  It felt as if he didn't really care about me any more, and wasn't tuned into my needs or our relationship.

Many years later, my resentment at feeling ignored had hardened into anger.  I started to nag him - a lot - he wasn't doing ANYTHING around the house, and he wasn't really taking me (or my needs) into account as he lived his life.  I would ask him to, and he would agree, but then he would forget.  After several reminders he would still forget.  I started to call him "reliably unreliable" - and it wasn't a joke.  I thought I had signed up for a partnership, only to find out that I got stuck doing all the "unfun" stuff in our marriage with a man who seemed to not be tuned in at all.  YUCK!  The more I complained about this, the more he seemed to "subconsciously" resist.  It seemed as if we were engaged in a constant battle and the "stuff" around living our lives was just hard work all the time.

I will explore what this anger and resentment does and how it changes everything that happens to you in a later blog entry, but here is a brief overview of a very typical cycle when a non-ADHD person is married to an ADHD spouse:

  • The start of the relationship is exciting and very focused, for the ADHD spouse is "hyperfocusing" on you and you feel amazed and excited that someone cares that much about you
  • The relationship can change its character rather sharply as the ADHD person loses focus.  The non-ADHD spouse becomes confused and begins to feel ignored.  This generates frustration and resentment
  • This frustration leads to anger, particularly when the ADHD spouse does not respond to criticism that he/she is ignoring you
  • The non-ADHD spouse, particularly if this is a woman, ends up with all the scut work around the house, feeling like the maid, rather than a cherished wife.  This leads to arguments, nagging and further anger
  • The relationship goes in an up-and-down, seesaw sort of pattern as there are longer and longer periods when resentment and anger are the predominant feeling punctuated by spurts of great fun, energy and togetherness

Resentment is a difficult emotion to overcome because of the chemicals it induces in the brain (more on this in a different entry).  But here are a couple of ideas that you may wish to consider:

Most frequently, even though it doesn't feel this way to the non-ADHD spouse, the ADHD spouse is not intentionally ignoring his/her partner.  My husband and I went through this exact pattern (and more!) and he could never understand why I felt so ignored by him at the outset of this pattern (which started almost as soon as we moved from courtship into marriage).  In his own mind he loved me just as much as he had before, and because he was just following what was interesting him at the time (often the computer) he didn't realize just how dramatically different our relationship became once he stopped hyperfocusing on me.  I could tell him that his actions affected me in a negative way, but he just didn't get it because they didn't seem to be affecting him (they were, of course, because my response to his actions was to be angry with him, but he didn't connect this cause/effect yet).

The issue was really two-fold:  First, he really wasn't as focused on me as he had been.  Second, in my response to this I made the assumption that his lack of "interest" in me was due to the fact that he didn't like to be with me as much as he had previously.  In this scenario, my response to his actions was at least as hurtful to our relationship as his initial lack of attention.  And, because I assumed the worst (he didn't love me as much) I approached in about the problem in a resentful and angry way.  My approach - "why don't you pay attention to me any more?"; "why don't you listen to me?"; "why don't you ever bother to take me out any more?" made me hard to deal with...and suddenly he, too, was with a person whom he didn't really recognize.  As far as he was concerned, I was attacking him simply for being him, and he didn't like it much.

At the time we didn't know about his ADHD, so did not realize that we could have changed this pattern early on - simply by my making the assumption that he did, in fact, still love me and was simply being distracted by other things, then talking in a non-judgemental way about what was distracting him, how important it was to him (or not) and how it affected us as a couple.  At that time he literally had physical trouble disconnecting himself from that mecca of information overload we call the computer (a problem that many people with ADHD have as the computer is very high-stimulation for them).  A healthier approach to our issue would have been to agree that our relationship needed help, create systems for him to have specific periods of time when he was focused on me so I didn't feel rejected, and improve our ability to communicate in a non-judgemental way (in both directions).


Years of living like pigs

It is not exhilarating to live with a person with ADD/ADHD.  As the husband of a wife who likely has ADD/ADHD I am totally fed up.  The mess at our house is just unbelievable with piles of clothes everywhere.  I come home and the floors are covered with mess.  The paint is pretty well falling off the walls because we had to take a $6K trip to Florida when the house needed alot of work.  After we got married (she hid alot of this quite well) she took her own bedroom.  The room has been an absolute shambles for 15 yrs, now my daughter is staying in the room and it's still a pigpen.  Before my daughter occupied it 7 years ago it was so bad at one point the floor was totally covered with loto tickets, garbage, etrc.  She will not clean it up and if I touch anything she gets mad.  She has also pretty well destroyed our Van's interior with coffee stains everywhere, goes to TIM HORTONS and leaves open creamers on the seats, etc.  We can't have people in because of the mess not to mention the Jealousy problems.  Alcohol has alway been a problem also, I can't take her anywhere where I socialize. If I look at or talk to any other female I am flirting. Being extremely headstrong you just can't tell her anything, I've been trying to get her to go get diagnosed with possible treatment.  Our finances are also wreaked because she doen't understand when an emergency or vacation comes up you just can't keep charging it, you need cash.  I won't even mention the anger issues.

We have two kids and they are both slobs to. So now I'm trying to clean up after three slobs.  Sorry for the disorganized rant but I'm tired of being stuck with everything, it's like living with a third child.

So hurt and angery!

I did not have the romantic hyper-focus start that some of you had and to be honest that makes me feel jealous and mad at myself for ever being in this situation. Due to my earlier abndonment(s) from my parents I had an "I don't need you" attitude when we met. That worked fine for both of us until we had kids. Then I NEEDED his help! Addicted to gaming he was not much help. We went to therapy and I pushed my feelings to the side to make room for his ADHD. Still my feeling of being put on the back burner would build until I would blow up crying and wanting him to show me that I am important. That is the security that I have been looking for all of my life!     So time went by- I became used to doing things for all of us on my own and not needing him. That was very lonely and became worse when our oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, our other child has ADHD. When I REALLY NEEDED HIM to help all of us make it through the life change of: poking our child at lest 8 times a day with a needle for blood sugars and insulin, the emotional upset in the whole family over the loss due to the chronic illness... he ran away to work and left me to deal with all of it alone. I should have expected this as it was normal but that pushed me over the edge. Now 2 yrs later, 18 yrs in the relationship with him I m so angry, resentful, hurt and defeated!       He is on meds, we have done therapy 3 different times but it always focuses on him and nothing gets fixed... he is always"working on it" with little change. Today he expected that I should be happy because he now evenly shares the pick up/ drop off for school with me when he is in town. REALLY !!!???!!! Nope!!!!! He works from home and should be involved in the children's lives much more than that by now! He hyper-focused on them for about a year when his dad passed away but then lost track of that.       When he is out of town on business I relax and let it go. When he comes back it just builds back up. I am so tired and sick of it! Sometimes I think we would be better off separating but I feel like he will give up n the marriage if we do. Right now he is secluding instead of talking to me. I can not do all of the marriage work on my own. Yes I also acknowledge that I am to blame because I would just pick up the pieces for him and I let go of myself and my needs. I carry anger and resentment...that is only one part of it. Others would not have stayed with all of this and my friends that have been around to see it think I am very patient. As he has never hyper-focused on me or our marriage in the past, I have little faith that he ever will and I do deserve to be some ones everything as I have made him my everything in the past. The odds are definitely against us as we got together young, the ADHD, we have a child with a chronic illness... maybe its time to say I can't do this anymore and morn the years of work I have put into this and move on. Thank you for letting me get this all out and best wishes to you.

I'm done!

Reading this post, was like reading a biography of my life.  I have been married 21 years to an ADHD spouse.  Just like your post said, in the beginning he lavished on me and made me feel so special, but as soon as we got married he immediately became addicted to video games, computer games, the internet, porn and anything that would allow him to zone out.  I call it "his world".  I have gone to sleep alone nearly every night for the majority of our marriage.  He has been diagnosed with ADHD, but refuses to take his medications consistently.  His brother and sister also have been diagnosed with ADHD and they, along with their spouses and children, all say my husband has it the worst.  It has completely ruined our marriage.  I am depressed and have completely given up on him/us.  I have two tween/teen boys who see the destructive behavior of the dad and are starting to act out.  We live in a completely dysfunctional state.  We have gone to several counselors who have tried to get him to see how his ADHD is affecting our marriage/family, but he doesn't see it.  He makes excuse after excuse, lies, and refuses to stay on the meds.  I just can't take it anymore.  Sometimes I think I am the crazy one, so it was good to find this site and to hear other stories like my own. 

Resigned2B's picture

Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna...

Melissa, I don't believe I know how many children you have with this man and how many of those children have your husband's ADHD.

Throwing a number of kids into a relationship like this really determines the outcome of the mother/wife's mental health as well as her PTSD from raising them ALL by herself for thirty-one years. One or two kids with ADHD and a husband with it? No problem. Six kids and a husband with it? Just give it up. There is no hope left. Even if you manage to make it to age 60 the scars these mental cases have left you in their wake, and still do, leaves no thinking brain left.

Just constant PTSD trauma and more injury as the years go by...

BTW, he's JUST been diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes. Now that he's spent all our money and with the 'unaffordable-healthcare-act'??? Well, I think everyone gets it..

Words of encouragment to everyone with ADHD or spouse of ADHD

This is actually a reply to someone but I decided to post it here so that it would hopefully be seen by more people. I was married to an ADHD person for 7 years and had 2 kids with him and both of my boys have this condition, one is ADHD and is now 21, the other is ADD and 24 as well as married. Would not change anything those boys are my life and have been there through everything with me. The only reason that marriage disintegrated is because he started self medicating with drinking and other substances. This does not work and he became abusive.  Looking back now, I might have been able to save this marriage by doing things differently but I had not learned enough about this condition.  I am remarried to you guessed it, another ADHD man. 15 years. It has been tough but we have worked through it. He also had some self medicating issues which he brought under control. I have learned to let a lot of things go, work on what we can, cleaning the house together is a recent discovery that works well because I can definitely tell you that nagging your spouse and children to do things around the house does not work, do it together as a couple and eventually as a family.  Everyone work on one room together at the same time - works wonders!  We also made the decision to have a date night, once a week is all I asked for where he is all about me and I am all about him. We absolutely do not discuss any relationship problems this night either, we just hang out, laugh, go to dinner and/or a movie or make dinner together on the grill, sit outside with our tiki torches lit or enjoy a movie at home. The home things have actually become our favorite because it is less money, we are making dinner and cleaning the dishes together, enjoying a glass of wine and just having fun. I found that when I stopped nagging him and came to the realization that I can't change him but I can change the way I react to him, things started to change. Slowly at first but then quickly. I had to become humble and had to take the first steps. Took about a year to turn it around. We were also on the verge of divorce but I would think about all the good things we had done over the years and all we had worked so hard to accomplish as well as the fact I still loved him very much.  I had to stop thinking about the negative things because that just fueled the fire for me.  I figure, if you are still in love, its worth fighting for and working on. It can be done, it does take work and the spouse with ADHD does feel like things are out of control.  It's all they can do to stay focused at work and stay on task.  They are exhousted when they get home for a reason and if he is saying you married me knowing this, deal with it, well you can deal with it but the ADHD/ADD spouse can also deal with it and they have to. That is a cop out for their behavior saying that it is OK, I cant help it so deal with it. They can work on it as well. Probably not best to confront them with that though, trust me, they will figure it out on thier own if you change the way you react to them. Best advise I can tell you is tell him how much you love him and you know he loves you and you want to make this work and don't accuse him of the marriage not working because of him, worst thing you can do. Everyone must take some responsibility in a relationship that is faltering. It is always hardest to admit oneself is making a mistake, but we are only human and we will make mistakes. You have to acknowledge it, not accuse each other of it being the others fault. It took me 22 years of marriages to figure this out. My husband will always do things that bug me, I will always do things that bug him, relationships must always be worked on, it is not easy but it can be so rewarding and worthwhile. Just take it a few baby steps at a time. Tackle each thing one at a time, let the small things go, because they are just small things, the important thing is to start spending 1 special night a week with each other to start repairing that part of the relationship, the rest will follow through. He will want to start saving for retirement and trips because this means spending time with you free from all the pressures of work.  My husband does pay our bills, he is rarely late and he does have a retirement plan we stick to, he is also big on lists to keep himself organized.  All things he has done on his own very well when I changed my attitude towards everything.  My oldest son took medication for a while but not very long, he was not hyper so the teachers didn't push him to take it, my youngest one took it until he got into high school. He hated how it made him feel. It was a struggle at first for him when he got off the medication but after the first year, he started to do really well. It is a constant struggle for him to stay organized but I know he can do it with some gentle persuasion and help. I stopped the nagging a while ago, does not work at all - trust me. With my husband, I made sure to start using sweety and honey whenever I addressed him, that brought the walls down very quickly. Even when I am mad at him, I use it, it really diffuses the situation. I would start texting him out of the blue telling him how much I loved him. Pack him a lunch every once in a while with a love note. You start doing that, he will start to do the same. It just takes time. I hope some of this has helped you in your decision and I really hope you have not given up on your husband yet. Feel free to e-mail me if you want, I did set up the contact sheet, just don't know exactly how it works. I hope this helps anyone else that reads it as well. You can have a happy marriage and a spouse that does pay attention to you as well as keeps themselves organized, chances are, your kids will have the same condition, but you know how to handle it by then, you have had plenty of training LOL If you work hard at it and compromise and have lots of patience your spouse will reciprocate. An ADHD/ADD spouse can be difficult but also so much fun and the marriage can work.  I did start praying for him as well because if you can pray for someone you are mad with and really mean it, you start to let your anger go.  You do not have to be a Christian to pray, I am, but there are all sorts of beliefs you can use to apply this to.  Sending good energies their way, positive thoughts, whatever works, it helps you to forgive both them and yourself.  I did not think I was wrong in my marriage but I did come to the realization that I was definitely doing a lot wrong to make a difficult situation even worse.  If I can do it, trust me, anyone can - Ann :)

My Husband Has Adult ADD

I am at wits end and feel such despair.  My husband was diagnosed with adult ADD.  At one of our marriage counselling sessions, our counselor suspected it and suggested he take a test and then see a doctor.  Sure enough he has adult ADD.  He is on medication and I swear, it has made things worse.  There is never any sex or intimacy.  He is paranoid and delusional at times.  He does less than ever around the house and he does not do anything towards our relationship.  His latest is that I am not nice to him.  He is not nice to me ever anymore.  Now, his latest is that he is depressed.  He is failing at his job that requires tremendous focus and now that is my fault as I don't "let him sleep" or "we are unhappy in our relationship" or "our home life sucks".  I am so uhappy, so lonely, so sad.  I ask if I can please go and see his doctor with him.  My counselor & our physician suggest that perhaps the drug that he is taking is not the right one for him.  But he gets extremely defensive and accuses me of wanting to talk to his doctor as an excuse for a "bitch session about our marriage".  I can't live like this anymore.  I am so lonely.  My counselor tells me that I have to stop fighting him to love and want me the way I want him to.  All of these years I have been with him, I have asked him for one thing in many forms....for him to spend time with me.  I just want to be cherished.  But he will not spend time with me or cherish me and it has gotten worse since he has taken the medication.  There is always some reason he will not give me what I want.  Either, I am not nice to him.  I am always angry at him.  I swear when I am angry.  He is taking a time release medication.  When it wears off, it is like a drug addict going through withdrawals.  It seems like he has tantrums.  Gets extremely tired.  Freaks out about getting enough sleep.  His excuse is that he has a hard, laborous and stressful job.  Or that he has a life threatening job.  Right now, I am not working and on disability as I hurt my back.  So he is always throwing it in my face that he is the only one working.  Someone please help me.  I feel suicidal.

Very disheartened

I just felt like saying this thread is very very disheartening to anyone who is in love with someone with ADD and is hoping to spend their life with them. I have been dating this guy for 3 months now and I have developed very deep feelings for him. To be completely honest, I am pretty much in love with him. He told me he had ADD right at the beginning, but never explained (or didnt understand) to what extent it affects his life and relationships. It wasn't until I googled ADD today that I realized that all the problems I have had with him are pretty much a result of his ADD. 

I got on here cuz I was hoping to find some help and encouragement but I have to say, after reading these posts, I am completely terrified by the prospect of being with him. It sounds like almost everyone on here has had a miserable life with their ADD partners and would not recommend dating a person who has it. I wonder if this has anything to do with the sample being biased. I mean, perhaps the happy couples out there go unnoticed because they wouldn't use a forum like this in the first place, because their problems are under control? Or is it really that literally all people with ADD cannot have a healthy, happy relationship? Is there anyone out there in that situation? If so, please do speak up, if anything to give us a bit of encouragement. I have to say, after being on here, I am having really serious doubts about being with him, even though I really want to.

Eye Opener

For the last year, I've been consumed with trying to parent an ADHD child...which has been difficult enough in itself...then having to deal with a second child with ADD, made matters all the more difficult...and then there is my spouse...  Which I wasn't aware of was ADD until I was doing some research on my child last year and needed to point the blame finger at someone...

Today, I was at the point of "I've had it!" When I just realized, "Oh yeah, he has it too!" 

Then I found this website...

After reading some of these posts, I realise that I really don't have it that bad...I just have to remember that the same thoughtfulness and deliberate action I have since changed my parenting style to, I have to now put towards my husband, and stop assuming that he can read my every thought, which after 10 years, I thought he should have been able to do by now...right?

Where to read more info on courtship phase...

Is the below topic specifically covered in the book The ADHD Effect, if so what chapter/area? I just got the kindle edition and want to read that section or get another book you suggest that covers that if need be.

'The start of the relationship is exciting and very focused, for the ADHD spouse is "hyperfocusing" on you and you feel amazed and excited that someone cares that much about you' (I am the add one and did exactly this)

Looking for More Marriage Tips

Let me start by saying, I just joined this website and am now beginning to read through the articles.  I have been with my fiancé for two years, a year and half we have been living together.  Everything mentioned in the posts and the original article depict my fiancé and I perfectly.  Right now, I am trying to cope with the fact he no longer is "hyper focused" on me and will last minute abandon me.  I try very hard to communicate with him in the right way, but I feel as if I'm failing.  Can anyone who has had success help me?  I really would like tips or advice on how to communicate with my fiancé.  I feel angry and ignored all the time anymore... this is not how I want my relationship to be and I want to avoid divorce at all possible costs.  Also, if you can think of anything else I should know about being with an ADHD spouse that would be great too!  I want to know what boundaries I need to set now and how to make the best of our relationship even with his ADHD.  Thank you!

Hi. Thanks for the reply.

Hi. Thanks for the reply.

The only reason that still makes me want to stick to it is that I know he was in a 3 year long relationship before. They even moved in together and lived together for, I think, over a year or something like that. This makes me think all the time that, surely, if he could do that and his ex partner was able to be with him  that long then he cannot be that bad. I dont know.. maybe I am deceiving myself....

great post

At the age of 40 I have finally figured out that I have ADHD. I have been married for 15 years, and my wife and I have three great kids. 

Unfortunately our marriage has suffered greatly mostly because of me. I would love for my wife to read your post, although at this point I doubt she will. I am amazed how understanding you are and how well you seem to get it.

Understandingly my wife is at her wits end with me, for many of the reasons that people talk about on here and its amazing because I have heard myself saying things during arguments so many times, such as: its not intentional, I don't do that deliberately, write it down for me... ect. I never figured this out until I read the book Spark.

I imagine that I am a pretty crappy person to be married too, because of the issues with communication, and my lack or inability to do it well. I have never self medicated except for exercise, I don't do drugs, drink, cheat or abuse, but I am not the best person around the home for obvious reasons. I have really tried with the kids to be involved in their activities, I do best in the physical sense so I have coached and been involved in that capacity because it seems to suit me best, and  I love it, because my mind is focused and centered there when I am physically involved.

In my marriage I feel like a failure because my wife is so unhappy with me and as a result we don't get along. Its sort of hard to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't seem to like you very much. There are commonalities with so many people its amazing to me. I know she is hurt, frustrated, upset and sick of it all, I want to make it better but she is now sort of past the point of talking about it.

She always swore that I was being an insensitive jerk and I always swore I wasn't. I didn't really believe in ADHD , but once I started reading about it the more I begin to understand. I have finally begun to see how destructive a force that this could be in a persons life especially when you don't recognize this as one of the problems that is undermining your relationships.

The criticisms my wife makes are true, I don't listen, I forget things, I dont pick up, I walk past things lying around, and sometimes I work so hard on these things so I don't make her mad, but Im not 100%. I have to make concerted and focused efforts to do things that normally people would just do and not have to think about, and sometimes I just dont do it.

I have tried to reboot myself so many times unsuccessfully but our married life is not what either of us want, and for our sake I want to try and do things to make things better for both of us. I don't feel like she understands me, and she seems to have given up trying to figure me out, and although I dont blame her for this, since its my problem, I do think there are things to do to make the situation better.  Despite all this, I do think there is a way for both of us to be happy together, but I know I cant do it by myself. 

I dont know exactly what to do at this point, so any advice you can give would be great.


TMilem924's picture

I'm the non-ADHD married to husband with ADHD

My husband and I have known each other for four years, and been married for two.  The beginning was great!!  He is three years younger than me, we met in college, and he has been there for me through thick and thin.  He informed me that he had ADHD, and it shows still today.  I had always noticed his high addiction to his computer, cars, and his hobbies, but never thought it would affect my relationship and marriage until I stumbled upon this website.  My husband works in the IT field, and I'm a stay at home mom of four.  I am constantly cleaning, cooking, taking care of kids, etc.  When he comes home it seems like my hard work around the house goes out the window as he throws all his crap all over the place.  I have tried making the housework equal, and it doesn't work.  He thinks he's accomplished an entire day's work just by mowing the yard, then will spend the rest of the day watching TV or on his computer while I fight with kids, clean, do laundry, anything.  He has been on business trips and the only thing I want when he comes home after a couple of days is to have "me time" away to collect my mind for a couple of hours.  When I bring it up, he thinks I'm selfish, and my requests don't follow through.  Last night, he didn't notify me that he wasn't leaving work on time for me to take care of an obligation, so I had to pack up all the kids and haul butt to my destination 40 minutes away from home, and he doesn't see why I got upset.  

After losing sleep last night thinking about how he doesn't compromise with me when it comes to things I like or want to do, I did some research, and came across this site.  The initial blog that came up in the search hit the nail on the head, dead on.  I never thought in a million years that his ADHD would be the outcome of the situation.  I always thought he was being selfish, hypocritical, and had double standards.  That feeling of bending over backwards to get things done, and getting screwed over in the end is the most painful feeling out there, especially when it comes from someone you love.  I can't wait to get the book, start reading it, and have a better understanding of ADHD and to fix my marriage.  I feel better knowing there is hope for this!!

I went trough this typical cycle

I'm a non ADHD spouse. This typical cycle was the same that I experienced at the very first day of my wedding, I struggle a lot during my first year of marriage, I went trough all of this as Melissa Orlov described . Reading this for me is like reading my own experienced and feelings. After my second year of marriage, when he was diagnosed , still was a little frustrating because he quitted the treatment and the medical help. It was not until we began to learn more about the condition and  understood better what was going on with him that we committed to each other to work with our relationship. We started to work on this like a team, I learned how to coach him and we achieved a big improvement in our marriage. We have 6 years of marriage. As Melissa said, a healthier approach to our issue , creating ways to deal better with our feelings & behaviors and improving our ability to communicate has been fundamental in our relationship with a positive impact. 

I went trough this typical cycle

I'm a non ADHD spouse. This typical cycle was the same that I experienced at the very first day of my wedding, I struggle a lot during my first year of marriage, I went trough all of this as Melissa Orlov described . Reading this for me is like reading my own experienced and feelings. After my second year of marriage, when he was diagnosed , still was a little frustrating because he quitted the treatment and the medical help. It was not until we began to learn more about the condition and  understood better what was going on with him that we committed to each other to work with our relationship. We started to work on this like a team, I learned how to coach him and we achieved a big improvement in our marriage. We have 6 years of marriage. As Melissa said, a healthier approach to our issue , creating ways to deal better with our feelings & behaviors and improving our ability to communicate has been fundamental in our relationship with a positive impact. 

Finally Figured It Out

I don't know that this will help anybody else but I thought I'd share what seems to be working for me lately.

Like most of you I have been very frustrated and feeling very lonely for a long time. After about 2 years of talking through some repeating problems, we went to counseling and found out she has inattentive ADD. We've read many books, she's been on and tried a few different medications and we've had more emotional discussions about things and gone to counseling. Despite all that, despite being encouraging and mindful of the differences between us, I still don't get from her what I need to feel loved in this relationship. I've gone through periods of being disconnected, angry and despondent. I think I may be on the other side of that and I wanted to tell you what snapped me out of it.

It was the point that I realized, despite being "married" I'm really just a single parent.   

Since, like many of you non-ADDers, I do most if not everything around the house, kid sports, pay bills etc, I'm forced to live my life as if my wife doesn't exist. This isn't the life I wanted but neither is trying to include her in keeping things running smooth and having her repeatedly fail. It doesn't matter if I remind, help or do those things for her, within a few days everything is forgotten in favor of work, TV and her iDevices (mostly work). I realized as long as I kept thinking I needed to include her in my and our children's lives I was kept in a constant state of frustration. It just doesn't make sense to stay married to someone that shows no commitment or thoughtfulness.

I really don't want to get divorced (for various reasons that I will not be discussing here) but I can't keep expecting to have a normal relationship where duties are balanced and my partner considers my needs and caters to my desires for feeling fulfilled, whole or even loved back.

But, if I'm a single parent then those expectations evaporate. I no longer look to her for anything. All of the responsibility is mine, all of the work is mine. If I want a clear spot on the couch to sit, a clean spot on the kitchen counter to cook dinner, it's all on me. As long as she as absent from my life then I can do these things and it doesn't bother me as much, if at all. It's just more stuff to clean up that the kids (now including her as a mysterious "kid") messed up. While I can include her and them in this process, I assume a child like standard of work from her too. After all, in this scenario, I'm the only parent/adult in this house. I don't treat her like a child, I have just changed my perspective so that the world now makes sense to me. I obviously can't rely on her in just about any way so, I can't consider her an equal in this marriage. I obviously wouldn't share this with her and perhaps there's something wrong with me to think this way. Just to clarify, it's not that I think less of her, it's just that she spends so little quality time with any of us that she may as well (except for the constant state of mess) be nonexistent in our lives.

I wish I knew why this is working so well for me. I actually feel hope for the future now. I know that if I were on my own I have a lot more power and control to live life the way I want to. It's okay if we don't have sex, if I were single I wouldn't be anyway. It's okay if she doesn't do housework or pay bills, if I were single I'd be doing all of that. I would be cooking all the meals and making sure our kids got to their practices and tournaments, if I were single. I suppose it sounds as if I "may as well divorce her" or that I've "emotionally divorced" her in some way. I would say it's nothing like that. Neither one of us broke anything off from one another. It's more like I had a partner that I was married to at one time and suddenly I realize they simply are no longer there. If it's just me I can move on, I can keep going. I can work harder and do it all, because if I were really single then I'd be successful at all of this.

I still love her and care for her in a way, but it's nothing like what I expected from a spouse or marriage. It's much less, but still warm and caring. Not because she does anything to illicit that, it's because that's who I am.


You've just written my relationship with my adhd husband. He was 1st diagnosed about 10 years into our relationship. Adderall made him nasty, so the doctor INcreased it, then he got violent. We abandoned help after being so disgusted with that treatment. Our relationship got worse. I ended up HATING him. He tried a 2nd psychiatrist and the same thing happened. Now on a 3rd psychiatrist who found the MTHFR DNA mutation and has run genetic testing to see what meds he can tolerate, we are hopeful. After 21 years of a mostly horrible existence which has given me health problems, I am working on forgiveness because I know he can't help it which I didn't know until I found your site. Tremendous thanks and praise for sharing your story and helping me and so many others.(Baneeners on Facebook)

Thank you Bea-nonadhd for

Thank you Bea-nonadhd for your post, it was running through my mind as I was being bludgeoned with a water bottle by my absusive wife. I am ADD. I just found out about 7 months ago. I'm an adult with two kids in a similar situation; I have a wife with health problems, she's had three surgeries for thyroid cancer and just had a recent surgery to correct her acid reflux. What this means is that she is 1/2 the spouse that I was hoping for. I am typically poor with that, "List" that most people have in their heads. I take medication for my ADD (Amphetamine Salts) it works, however it wears off around 9:00 pm at night. Typically, it's hard to get up in the morning based on this as well, I'm grumpy until I take my meds. I also have two children, 8 and 5. My life is hell, however I do my best to deal with my non-ADD spouse and her explosive temper. Our family is in horrible debt, based on her health and her having to go on a leave-of-abscense to deal with the most recent health issue. I am a professional in a company that makes software. Long ago, I traded the family finances to my wife in exchange for chores that she did not have the energy to manage. I do what I can to complete these choirs as soon as possible. Sometimes a backlog develops, based on the amount of time in a day or due to a change in my scheduled based on some type of obligation my wife has created for me without my knowledge. Personally, I track everything. I am completely visual, put it away somewhere and I will immediately forget. Don't look me in the eye when you talk to me and it will not get done. It sucks, I am constantly battling my own potential to fail by my own hand.

So, let me get to the point. If I don't use a coupon, I get a 1/2 hour argument about money and being irresponsible. My ADD is blamed. If I misplace my keys, it's my ADD. If I offer an explanation, it's an excuse for my ADD. My kids get to hear about what a bad parent I am, because I am ADD. Please don't be this type of person. There are coping strategies. However the sad thing is that their is no way to currently exit my situation. I am abused, deameaned in front of my children by my ball busting wife.


My husband and I have been together for 11 years, and will be married for 10 in June. When we met things were amazing just like everyone tells you, "you'll know when it's the right one". I've read several books, and recently have read The ADHD Effect on Marriage, and I must say WOW I didn't know someone was in my house writing it, because it was a mirror of what I'm dealing with. My husband wasn't diagnosed until after we were married when I suggested that something didn't seem right. He grew up being told he was lazy, and that he was hyper, and bad. Went to college, bounced from job to job, but never found his nitch. We were quite relieved when he was diagnosed and things had gotten better for awhile. Medications are working, but the maintenance of things aren't. I'm not able "YET" to not take things so personal. In reading The ADHD Effect on Marriage is understand a lot more than I did, but I'm very bitter, even resentful. There is definitely nothing like being courted by someone with ADD, and it was truly a fairytale experience. But how do I fall back in love with someone that I resent so much? It's so difficult to explain to people why he is the way he is, he's not a bad person, and he's not broke so I can't fix him. But people don't understand, and I'm honestly tired of making excuses rather than just saying my husband has ADD and he doesn't realize he's doing the things he does. How does one get past that anger? I placed the book on my counter and it sat there for 2 months untouched by him. I thought if he saw the words "rebuild your relationship" on the cover it would be exciting to him. How do I get him to open up and read this unbelievable book?

Thank you

Reading this post really just helped my marriage.  Struggling with a husband that has ADD, for last 12 years.  Thank you for your honest words!!

Petrified After Reading This

As a 29 yr old woman with ADHD, my heart is breaking.... There is no hope is there? Have already been through a divorce but then reluctantly decided with my very first love to give a real relationship a try. What the hell is a real relationship anyway because everything I do is wrong! He doesnt feel loved, has gone as far as legit thinking I am unfaithful because I always forget to check my phone or turn up my volume while he is away for the week working and sometimes it takes me a bit to get back to him and I always thought it was just him being a jerk. Its me isnt it???  Tried everything since I was diagnosed at 8 yrs and cant function without Vyvanse I gave it an honest try for 3 years and just like every other time off meds I spiraled. I hate it I just want to be f****** normal for my daughter and my man! I hate who I am.... :'(

11 years of real hell

I have been married for 11 years now to a man with adhd.  He has just recently been diagnosed, he refuses to admit the problem.  He screams about everything, he throws things, puts his foot through railings, swears, blames me for everything from his missing socks to the weather.  I am exhausted.  He has destroyed my life and my childs life.  He has no interest in sex and never has, that is also apparently my fault.  He has created a division between myself and my child by slandering me to her behind my back, and encouraging disrespectful rude behavior from her toward me.  If I object he laughs and claims it is all just a joke, what's wrong with me, can't I take a joke?  He will not obtain help, and is currently seeing yet another counsellor who is going to try to solve his problems by positive thinking.  This is counsellor #5.  He is oppositional defiant and has to work out every problem by conflict.  And If anything has to be done, it won't happen if I am not here to babysit him through it.  He is sucking the life out of me.  I have no time left for myself or my REAL child.  I dare anyone out there to say that people who have this problem should really stop creating more of them.  Marriage to people like this is just hell, and why add to the burden.  His family attacked me when I first arrived on the scene.  I have nothing to do with them at all, but would really like to give him back.  They probably all have the same problem.  He hides the truth about himself at work, he seems to do fine there.  At home not so much.  SO, he says if he is fine at work, it is not him, it is me, (again).  Emotional destruction has been the price I have paid to be married to him.  I cannot say it has been worth it.  God bless anyone who is in this and still alive.  Has anyone ever found out what causes this illness?? 


I don't care if it's personal or not.

It seems that as soon as you 'realized' that this was not personal you were much better off. My perspective on how personal ADD is means nothing to me. 

Don't get me wrong. I understand your points, but it does not change my life. I don't want to understand what hurts, I want it to stop!

I see that you 'negotiated' some changes. I have tried this and have had NO changes take place. The more my wife learns about ADD the more she DEMANDS I give and the more I take responsibility for everything. All I ever hear is that she 'can't'.

I am burned out, checked out and sooooo tired from carrying her. I supported her for years with little or no help with even the house work. I would work long, insanely hard hours to come home and have to get the kids homework done and make dinner (at 10pm!) Now she has a job and I can barely function. I am just used up yet I am supposed to do all the things she can't do. This morning I was screamed at for not wanting sex. She can NEVER remember what I like or how I like it in bed so I just don't care for sex anymore. It's like I don't exist in bed. Additionally, she behaves in such a way that it's just a turn off. Half the time she can't even remember hygiene habits before sex. How am I supposed to deal with that?


At some point, don't ADD people have to take responsibility for themselves?


Communication and sex

Now that I have the attention of the ADD/ADHD men,

Dh has not really talked to me for years other than to say yup, nope, whatever or to manipulate discussions to deflect anything of meaning.  He walks out of the house without saying goodbye or where he is going (no job location).  This morning I told him that if we don't talk, we both must assume.  And that I am assuming that his not needing to talk to me means he is talking to someone else.  

When someone acts suspiciously, he gets to be a suspect unless the air is cleared.  His response was "For crying out loud.  Will you stop? Must you always think the worst? Are you saying that, because that is what you are doing?"  And then walked away, slamming a door and saying he was going to be late for "picking up a part to bring to a client."  He needed to leave immediately....VERY important business from someone who does not make a living wage.  

This from a traveling salesman (his own very small business) who does not wear a wedding ring.  From someone who shamelessly flirts with every waitress, salesclerk, secretary and friend of mine.  From someone who has a problem with impulse control and drinking.

 To me who goes to church by myself and doesn't lie and tried to have regular discussions and date nights for nearly 40 years.

If a spouse cares and wants a relationship, and there is a misunderstanding,  you want to clear it up as soon as possible rather than attack the person who brings up a problem.  If a spouse is covering up something and wants to be independent and not talk or share, they will try to hide and will divert the accusation and not directly address the problem. This hurts the spouse who has been trying to clear the air. It is rejection.

My contribution to our inability to communicate is that i have been emotional and there is a lack of sex.  

We both blame each other for lack of sex.  He blames me for not having a sex drive (like I am abnormal and should be ashamed).  Me blaming him for lack of hygiene, smelling of smoke and beer, being untrustworthy, his lack of supporting us financially, his lack of motivation, lack of integrity, lack of effort and ignoring me unless he wanted sex. I have a sex drive but feel like I am being taken advantage of yet in another way and not cared for. When you don't trust someone, you don't want to be vulnerable with them and give more of yourself to them.

So here we are.  No communication because I have stopped trying to communicate with someone who only sabotages every attempt.  And he has never tried to partner and communicate with me.

The note to ADDers......If you don't talk or make an effort so your spouse TRUSTS you, you will not get sex.  You have yourself to blame for that one.  I would love nothing more than to have a trusting, intimate, relationship with my husband.  But he just thinks he deserves sex because that is the "deal" of marriage and doesn't see where he is the one who is the turnoff. (I am assuming that he gets attention from the waitresses, clerks, and secretaries and that means to him that he is sexy and desirable daily so it must be my fault that we don't have sex.) 

Not only are you missing intimacy and the possibility of a nice family life to be proud of and work and build with a life long partner, but you are missing the life of walking hand in hand through this life with someone you can trust ....  so you are not alone in life.  What a sad thing it is to be married and feel alone.  Why would someone choose that?  Is the shiny thing just easier than a lasting love? 

I am going a little goofy for lack of intimacy and love.  He seems to be fine.



1st meeting

Hang in there, no one said that this was going to be easy but compared to where you have been it can hopefully only get better. My husband and I are a little farther along than you. He has been diagnosed for two years and only accepted it for the last year and have had several sessions with a therapist.  My husband  has had several sessions by himself and then I went in for a couple of sessions with him. Therapist was very informative for me and also used my point of view because both have different aspects on what is happening. This is not an area where I am always right and he is wrong it is understanding each other. Even though I have some insight into this it is still very difficult and am considering going myself for a few sessions since I am having a hard time getting through some issues myself. Probably more than anything expecting things to be changed now. We have just gotten medication regulated it takes time to find the right one and the right dose. Then I have to help my husband keep schedules, he is doing better but still messes up. That seems to be the most important thing right now is him keeping on tract with a schedule as to what and when to do things. He still doesn't know when to quit work if he is still working when the meds wear off he just keeps going for hours. If I call he will say I will clean up and be home in a little bit I can always count on that point being two hours. Anyway  nothing is a quick fix it will take some fine tuning and probably always will. He has to be willing to work at this to and even at times they loose focus on working on it and have to be reminded. The therapist has given us the most help because she has been able to give us ideas of how to cope and can correct him with his thought process and not me being the person correcting him which doesn't work well I then feel I am the parent correcting the child and I'm sure he feels the same.

Another thought is search for different therapists we had been through three before we found the right one for us. Others either didn't have the knowledge for understanding ADD or we just didn't connect.

Only been married a month....

I've been with my now husband for over a year now, and he told me right after we met that he was ADD.  However, I really didn't understand the ramifications of this until recently.  Like most here, at the time, I was just basking in the beauty that is the hyperfocus of his ADD...and of course, it was all on me.  It made me feel so loved and special.  Every waking moment, he wanted to be just with me and talk only to me.  I'd never felt like that before.  Sure, he was an absolute hurricane in his daily life.  His apartment always had dirty dishes strewn about and his closet looked as though it had never met his clothes because they were everywhere but inside it, but I adored him.  And, every weekend I would come over and pick up all his dishes and sweep his floor.  It didn't matter...I was in love.

Now, we've been married for a month.  His focus is totally on buying a tent and going backpacking.  His excuse is that he wants us to go backpacking for our honeymoon...which we won't be able to take until next year, because we had recently moved and both started new jobs.  At the rate this is going, he'll be going on his honeymoon all on his own.  I love him still, that hasn't changed, but I hate the laptop for giving him the access to so much information.  Literally every waking moment is spent researching tents!  And, hours after I've gone to bed, he comes in to the bedroom to wake me up and let me know what he's found.  At first it was almost cute and I ignored it, however, now, I'm resenting it.  I feel very frustrated. 

I'm the one that cleans, does the dishes, does the laundry, buys the groceries, drives us everywhere, feeds the pets, and works 10 hour days.  I've asked him on occasion to please stop leaving his dirty clothes right next to the hamper in the hallway instead of just opening the lid and putting them inside as well as stop leaving his wet towel wherever he find convenient instead of just putting it on the hook on the back of the bathroom door.  I've given up on both those ideas.  He will take out the trash without being asked about once a month.  He will cook and does it wonderfully, however, I have to clean up the mess afterwards, otherwise we end up with swarms of flies and ants because he will just let everything sit there until I clean it up. 

I know he doesn't mean to ignore me, but I feel like I just exist to be his maid at the moment.  Intimacy is nil, and I find myself wondering what the point of this marriage was.  I feel bad for him because one day I'm able to cope with my frustration and be loving and civil to him, and the next day I can barely speak to him.  Why don't I talk to him about what I'm feeling?  He would ask the same question.  However, when I've spoken to him before about things that bother me, it's all seems so silly to him and he sees no reason for me to feel that way.  In essence, I should just get over it. 

I love this man more than anything else in the world and I want this to work.  I'm glad I found your site and I'm doing a lot of research on how to deal.  I'm just very frustrated at the moment and from what I'm reading, I should expect it for pretty much the rest of my married life. 


Crisis mode! My wife has ADHD. Her grandma just passed away. They were very close. Her parents were divorced. Her grandparents were one of the few positive role models and healthy relationships in her young life. She has since gone off the handle. She has turned her back on everyone that loves her, including me, her sister (best friend), mother, old friends. She avoids anyone that tries to reach out to her. She moved into a new home, which is probably because of the other man she is involved with. My wife was a baptized Christian. I would NEVER expect this behavior from her. It is like she is a different person. Our marriage was (is) not rosy. I just read Melissa’s book two days ago (ADHD effect on marriage). It's like it was written about us, our problems, her issues, my responses (parent) and our dysfunction. I feel like a failed husband because I never realized her issue or understood the dynamics and complexity before. I honestly thought she was undisciplined, lazy, and irresponsible based on her immaturity and upbringing. I was so wrong. I love my wife. I want her back. What do I do? Why has she shut down and withdrawn to this degree? It's like she would throw a marriage and healthy, happy, functional family (two young boys) away for a couple weeks with some other guy. She is suffering in every sense of the word. But she claims she is happy. I know the stress is extreme with her new job as a nurse, two boys, a husband that doesn't understand her, and now grandma gone. The marriage was very up and down the first couple years. Then the BIG pattern of her withdrawal from me came about 1 year ago. I issued new resolve to connect, be the perfect husband, show affection, help out, organize, etc. She never reciprocated. I was crushed. Then depressed.  Now this.

1.Questions- How much of her behavior is attributable to ADHD? I know the impulsive spending, but turning your back on people that love you and throwing your values out the window? Lying? Cheating?

2.Does this have anything to do with change in medication? I have no evidence she is doing anything different. Straterra, seemingly intermittenly.

3.How does grief affect people with ADHD?

4. I have made much of this known to my wife. She knows I have new understanding. She knows I will do anything to work on the marriage.  She won’t stop seeing this guy. She says she has genuine feelings. After a few weeks? Genuine enough to throw away a willing and able husband and functional family with two boys? How do I get this guy to go away? How do I win my wife back? Sorry for the long post, but we need help.

Deborah__'s picture

To Ms Orlov

Only now did I read your post regarding feeling ignored. It was as if I was injected with a "hope" medication. THANK YOU so very much. If true positive lasting change can take place for you...then it can for us, too.

Ok, now feeling very discouraged

So, I'm reading the posts from the last several days since I wrote.  Here I am, feeling all optimisitc.  I'm thinking, maybe I can do this.  I've been reading my books, doing the exercises, and taking care of me.  I have been seperating what affects my partner only, what affects us, and what affects me.  What affects us and me is where I pick the battle.  But if it's only gonna affect her, I let her learn the hard lessons.  I'm feeling pretty good about this because it seems to be working.  I'm also taking care of me and not allowing her narcissism to affect me.  In short, I feel like I'm on the write track.  i'm feeling good, i think there is light at the end of tunnel.  I reply in here trying to share my optimism and now I feel like I'm back to square one.

After reading the last several posts - are you telling me that in 14 - 20 years nothing is going to change? That this just could be part of the cycle madness that ADD'ers put us through as they weave thier web of mass manipulation? I have felt the way that has been expressed in the posts.  I have thoughts of leaving. But then i think - why? I have RA, an autoimmune disease, Endometriosis Stage 4, possibly and autoimmune Thyroid disease all of which causes me pain, fatigue, i am not as mobile as most people as i do have limitations, and protecting myself physically is minimal.  So - in light of my physical ailments I think - my partner has not left me.  Though she can be very insensitive to it.  Am I feeling guilty and all my optimism is for naught? I have the very complaints expressed in these posts.  Am I holding on to a thread of hope when I see little glimpses of change?

I do feel overwhelming stressed in the relationship.  My partner thinks that she is not as bad as others nor does she see her actions as severe as I feel them.  I often here "I know I'm not perfect, but I'm not that bad".  Now, I do think she is trying - is this a false sense of reality? I'm feeling so confused. 


Feel like I have wasted my life!

I met my husband when I was only 16. Have known him all this time, been married for better than 30 years. I'm now 49, will be 50 in Feb. From the day I said I do, he changed. It's gotten worse, the older he gets. I  could tell you everything I know prior to us meeting that I found out after marriage, but I'll do a condensed version of during. He can't hold a job, has had as many as three in a year. Lies to everyone.....Things that don't make any sense to lie about, he does. Makes up stories about things he's done that he has not. Tells everyone he is a "military man" when he was kicked out after 9 months 13 days for doing stupid stuff. He has gone on dating sites, when I show him proof, says he had no idea it was a dating site. Wants nothing to do with me, unless it's for sex.Fights with me on a daily basis and when I refuse to fight, goes to work and picks one. If he gets access to our checking account, blows through money like it's water with no concern for how do we pay the rent and live. Has an obsession with a certain author and goes on hunts for her books that he will read hundreds of times each when he's not hounding me for sex. When he has access to a computer, it's an obsession. A total slob at home, pack rats, even from the trash.Yet at work, he goes on wild cleaning sprees and drags home anything that he can from those sprees. Never mind it's not his job to do said cleaning and none of his other coworkers do it. It's an excuse to dig through saved items and drag them home. Calls me names, tells me what a bad person I am daily, yet still wants sex from me.Screams, go on rages, has hit me at least three times. Broke ribs twice. I have spent my life awaiting a change that I now know will never come and now have no idea how to get out of this. I have no family and no support. I keep seeing all this info about how to help someone with ADHD, how about the people in the wake and have suffered in their lives?

Living with an adhd adult

I'm ready to leave this marriage. It's my second marriage - my first was to a non-adhd adult who jut basically ignored my needs. I always went to bed alone, i raised the kids alone, i was lonely and miserable. I spent a year in therapy figuring out what I wanted - I didn't want to have to be the control freak, I wanted a partner, I wanted someone who would come to bed with me, who wanted to have sex, who would be conscious of my needs. And I communicated that to my now-husband when we were dating. I was very clear. ANd here we are 5 years later - we have a child (my third), and I go to bed alone every night. I raise the kids alone. There is no follow through on his part. We haven't had sex in 5 months, and quite honestly I hate him. In one breath he tells me not to be so controlling. In the next, he asks me how to cut up a sandwich for our son. I'm just done. He knew he was add - he just ignored it. I've sat with him and wept, begging for him to meet just one need of mine. And he can't. And I deserve more than this.

So Frustrated

My husband has ADHD. I have always know this, but I have only recently started to realize what it means. We have had a passionate/explosive relationship in many ways. We go from being amazingly connected and in love (which is honestly like being high and I crave it) to being in the depths of despair and close to divorce. I feel as though I am at the whim of his moods. He goes from crisis to crisis...some are self-created, some are from his environment. He just recently told me that I cause 75% of his feeling of crisis. Just recently I have noticed that he might create this in our relationship when things are going well. He blows up when he's angry, calling me names, cussing, and yelling in our neighborhood. I get so angry at him and also say horrible things to hurt him. He makes me so angry when he attacks me because I feel so resentful of his behavior in our relationship. We look like two little kids, I am sure. Actually, little kids probably wouldn't even act like us when we fight. Our arguments are now much more civilized, due to the fact that we have a beautiful son now. I refuse to participate in his anger most of the time. I am the breadwinner, organize everything, including child care, finances, etc. I feel like I am a single mom, which is something I never anticipated. He gets angry I try to control everything, but I don't see how it would ever work otherwise. I don't want to have to control everything, but would rather have a partner who helps me. He spends hours working on tasks that should take a few hours, is constantly worked up about work or some other relationship, doesn't want to be held accountable for being home at a certain time, I could go on and on. In the past, he has struggled with substance abuse, gambling, pornography, etc. I recently found an ADHD support group and he agreed to go. I made an appointment with yet another counselor, and he is supposed to be a specialist on ADHD. I am on the Internet researching ADHD and how it affects our relationship. I feel like I am the parent and the enable.  When we discuss the ADHD, he just gets angry, and tells me it's my fault for making his life more difficult. He often times talks for a very long time about his feelings and what he thinks and then walks away angry or in tears. After we have a long drawn out argument (over days sometimes), he usually agrees that he only saw things his way, promises to improve, etc. I feel as though I NOTHING out of this relationship. I am looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, but I am losing hope. I signed up for companionship and a partner, but I feel like it's just a nightmare.


I stumbled upon this site yesterday after googling "how to be with a man who has ADHD". I have been with him for over 2 years, and was informed right away that he has ADHD. Things were great, and then I started realizing that I was getting insanely frustrated EVERY DAY with him...he forgets everything, I have told him numerous times that I'm tired of feeling like his mother, etc. But I always said/say "it's too late now...I'm already in love with you!". I was battling inside back and forth whether or not to leave now and save the hardship of drawing it out, but I just couldn't justify leaving him for something that isn't always his fault. I am so thankful I found this site! He and I read through a ton of posts last night together and we both have a renewed hope that we can work together to make our relationship work. Even just reading the posts of women venting inspires me because I now know I'm not alone!! I always say that people don't understand what I'm dealing with, they don't get why my fuse is so short with him, but now I know that other couples are dealing with the same thing and OVERCOMING it! I pray for a long and happy life together for us and for all you other struggling couples out there. Get encouraged and energized...you are not alone and you CAN do it! I know we have many years of battling this ADHD ahead of us, and maybe I shouldn't speak too soon, but at least I have hope that we can do it and fellow believers to encourage us along the way.

Hopelessness seems to be setting in...

As I read more and more posts on here, I feel validated that I am not, in fact, the crazy, needy wife my ADHD husband claims. Unfortunately, I also feel suddenly like I am going to throw up. Most of the attention he gives me off and on is only hyper-focus? He is not capable of being an equal partner? I will forever be at the disposal of whether he chooses to manage his mental illness? I feel as if a part of me just died and it's time to mourn. I am angry that no one made me understand this is what I was getting into....please, someone tell me where to turn for help.

equally ignored

my husband gets upset so often because everything else seems important to me than him.  ...he is right. more often than not I have no desire to spend time with him, to share his dreams or just sit and NOT talk about how to fix this. it isnt the disstraction that takes my attention away its a emotional response that happens when I overload my head. it is hard for me to keep a train of thought, it is hard to sit still. yet all the things in the world that are so difficult for me are worth it. if I have to spend two straight hours not catching one word of the movie , instead telling myself "dont move, dont move, dont move" so that I can make him happy and strengthen our relationship then that is two hours of repeating silly words that is well worth it.

however, as often as you hear someone with adhd say "thats the way my brain works, get over it" you will see it is a direct result of being tired. when you work all day and come home you dont want to be bombarded at the door with huge problems or negativity. well two hours of sitting still gives me one of the largest headaches you've ever felt. trying to pay attention to your words when you talk to me  and then NOT interupt you...gives me a headache. by early evening, it feels as if I've been trying to read in a language I dont speak wearing glasses that make  the letters blury. no matter how hard I try, I still cant understand most everything in that book and now I have a migrane for my efforts. to top it off theres a neverending list of things I didnt get done today or didnt do right.  I fully understand how hard it is to live with someone who is adhd...but the reason I say "thats the way my brain works, deal with it" is because WE live with adhd every day of our lives. and WE have to keep trying. doing the best we can do all the while knowing it will NEVER be right. we get to walk around knowing that people tend to view us as lazy, that we lack hygeine, that we are dense and that if they just shout loud enough or tell us for the eighteen thousanth time to take our the trash more often...we will somehow understand the language you are speaking.

it's not that we cant see it or are too lazy to do it. we literally tell ourselves to do something...and our body doesnt listen.  sometimes I dont have patients for my husband because he somehow thinks that at the end of the day HE made all the effort and he puts up with my "dissability". I have no desire most of the time to be with my husband because he refuses to accept that we are EQUAL. I am not dissabled. I am simply forced by society to follow a "normal" pathway. dont treat me like a lazy imbacile all the while keeping me from my abilities. STOP trying to get me to read blury latin......use international body language. I make a lousy housekeeper.....but I make beautiful jewelry, I can paint, draw, build you just about anything with wood and power tools and I am fully capable of doing ordinary things...in my own unorganised way. there is not much I havent tried, or cant do....except finish things without a little help. I need someone to clean WITH me. and I need someone to tell me that its ok....that I cant tell myself to brush my teeth because it doesnt cost him anything to say "I'm going to brush my teeth, are you coming? (wink)

for eight years we battled not even aware thats what I was (adhd) and while it's never gone, my husband told me last night when I asked him yet again if he was sure he wasnt sorry he married me "we always hate what we admire" meaning the things about our spouse we sometimes love about them can drive us crazy.  there are just a few things that make a world of diffrence.  dont ask me to do things your way....it is simply not something I can do and everytime I fail your going to get more and more distant from me.

we do not respond well to being told we have bad hygenie or cant do dishes because we KNOW and we feel horrible. but knowing does not get it done and know matter how many times you tell us how YOU do it...we wont be able to do it that way. if you need that thing done....listen to what we need to do it and dont make fun of us or make us feel stupid. 

it is understandable to have the main areas clean but we need someone with us. my husband no longer cleans for me or even with me...he talks to me while I do my chores. this is a sacrifice I know for him because that means he has to basically "babysit" but he doesnt clean it for me now and I do just fine. I kid you not...if he walks away I stop. but it makes me feel loved that he does it for me and it also doubles as quality time for us.

one thing I hear nearly every day in the past from my husband was "I just dont understand how you cant do the dishes" well guess what...we dont either. yet we dont let our lives end over it. and guess what, we havent the slightest clue how you guys can manage to hold down a job or hold a conversation without interupting each other. I spent the last thirty years saying I'm sorry all day long. "I'm sorry I talk too much"  "I'm sorry I didnt get that picked up". I was sorry I was alive. yet I found not one other person said they were sorry to me. it was always me.I  spent most nights wishing I were dead so no one had to DEAL with me. I was exausted from saying I was sorry and even more tired of being picked on for being thirty and not being able to spell words right half the time.  the funny thing was, that when I sat and thought about it I would get angry. there are millions of people that are lazy. there are millions of people that cant hold a job or any of those other things. so why are WE the diffrent ones? should I be so hard on non adhd people because they cant be active as much as us? should I get mad at you for not being able to keep up? should I take it personal that you need quiet time instead of chatting? should I think to myself that I'm better than you because I can do just about anything you put in front of me while you have to read books or take classes to even begin to see how it's done? for everything I need you to help me with...there is something that you need me to do. you need me to pay attention. slow down, focus. you need me to have patients while you need to walk and I need to run.  they way I see it....we are far sighted, you are nearsighted. we work on auto pilot because we are in three or more directions at the same time...you only see whats right in front of you. we talk too much because that is how we think. we have a hard time remembering that for YOU to think you do it inside your own head. if you want us to stop being the victim and saying "it's just the way I am".....start asking yourself if you are MAKING us a victim by choosing to only see how much we need your help. the sooner you realise you are the same as us...the sooner we can all stop taking drugs so you can "deal" with us. because let me tell you.....if I have to sit through one more movie, or wait quietly while you think in silence and then have you act as if it were no great effort and we should just "do it all the time" then ask yourself when do you want to start talking non stop, and spend every waking moment being active. and if you cant do it....you might just think about finding some pills to fix yourself because it is rediculous how slow you are and you should be able to think outloud all the time.  I'm just saying....who made the rules and then ask yourself were they adhd or not? stupid question really...we need each other. my husband needs my drive and ambition, my passion for life as much as I need his slow pace to think things through a little more and enjoy the more peaceful things in life I would otherwise miss out on.

9 months in looking for a way out

I am recently married to a ADHD spouse. I just happened to stumble accross this site in a desperate attempt to find some validation and support for what I have been dealing with for the last six months. The stories on here are for the most part are from couples who have been married a long time and have children. If you had the chance to run before you had children, would you? Thats the delimia that I am being faced with. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD several years ago and I knew about it prior to us saying I do. His adhd (I feel) has been getting worse these past nine months since we have been married. Of course we have dealt with it before with some soultion, but now it is a stand still. He was taking aderol this past year and it worked for awhile until his body got used to it and caused extreme mood swings. He has since switched to redaline which does not seem to help what so ever. When ever i try to talk to him, its what every body else on here says, he feels attacked and the problem is with me not him. "You knew about my adhd before you married me, so deal with it."

There is no attention being paid to me, our realtionship, or anything that has to do with us. Bring up finances? Forget about it, he makes more then me yet blows it on expensive cars and projects. I am the one with no debt and savings. He doesnt let me talk when we are out, he just talks right over me. He talks down to me in front of friends and families. He never listens or try to understand my needs. There is no relationship. We both work full time, I am going back to school twice a week, and I see my friends. I try to talk to him about quality time but all I get is "you are selfish with my time."How can that be when we never do anything fun together?

I am a very affectionate person and strive for companiosnhip. I am beginning to think that I made a mistake in believing in my now husband when he said he would work on his ADHD and would keep our marriage as his number one priority.  We are only nine months in, we own our own home (I put my own money down) and I dont know if I can live with him acting like a child and not having a fulfilling life together. My friends tell me to run yet here I am stuck, not wanting to give up on us but not wanting to lose myself either in a life full of unhappiness and depression as others have written on here. What should I do?



The Wake Up Call

For my entire adult life, I heard complaints from my former husband and children that I didn't pay enough attention to them, that I loved my work or computer more.   In my early twenties it was recommended that I undergo testing for adult add.   I ignored it because of my ability to focus so intently on items of interest that I didn't think I could possibly have ADD or ADHD.

Last week, my fiance' moved out of my house and back to his while I was on a business trip (without my knowledge) to get my attention.  He said, I get so focused on something that it is like I have a boyfriend.   He wants to fix US but I desperately want to fix me, for me, as well.   Your blog post describing your husband's behavior sounds exactly like me.  I get super interested in something and then move on to the next thing, often times dropping the hobby or item of initial interest.  I can spend hour after hour on the computer and when I take on a project of interest, everything else takes a back seat, eating, sometimes sleep, social life....everything!

I love my fiance' and truly didn't mean to ignore him, I really didn't realize I was, but I have to take a real hard look at my past, both professionally and personally and see the patterns that have been rather destructive but also beneficial.  

I have not been diagnosed, I don't want him to believe I am just looking at this as an excuse for my behavior and I don't know where to turn to find out if my hyper focused behavior, impulsivity and what for years I jokingly referred to as the "most disorganized, organized" person you will ever meet syndrome is really ADD or something else?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Feeling ignored, and hurt

My husband is ADD and diagnosed long before I met him.  We lived together for 3 years and recently married.  It's both our second marriage and the kids are grown and it's just us two.   It's true, the doting and hyper- focus has diminished, but still going strong  when we plan for just us time.    Challenge is, he is a business owner where I am not involved in his business.  I know the staff and socialize once in awhile and easily can drop by the office to chat or sometimes help out with office things.  I've just finished a year of school after early retiring from my long term job and looking for work.  Lately, he's be so stressed with his business and tend to become distant for days on end.  Early in the relationship he had to interview for a new bookkeeper and I became very territorial and jealous over who he would hire.  So this person has left, and until today, did know,he had just recently hired someone new.  I was at his office and saw this new woman walk by me and a staff member told me it's the new girl they are trying out.  

I am hurt for the following reasons....  1. He didn't tell me he was even interviewing, let alone hired someone. 2. He didn't introduce me to her when I was there.  3. I wonder why he wouldn't tell me.

I understand how focused he gets at work but  I feel unvalued it was something he couldn't tell me even in chatting about how his day was. I am always feeling like he is not present when he worries about work, because he just watches T.V. without engaging in conversation or goes  on his computer to do work or look at cars.  As I say,  it's periodic, but I am not sure where I fit in his life sometimes because I enjoy our time together and he puts a boring spin on our time together when he's like that.    I try to think of how an ADD mind may work, or not work, and it helps; me  being a very emotional and feeling woman, but do I let him have his way and just go on making plans to do things on my own? Or do I keep trying to communicate my needs when he tunes me out.  At the end of the day, I am a happy woman.    These periodic hurts seem to affect how he values  my place as a wife.  We are both 57 and we have our own history to create.  I understand interdependence, but it's just us, and I like to spend it having fun and not to plan everything to his mood.

Where to go from here

I have purchased a book for my husband, Reaching a New Potential, which was recommended by our local CHADD chapter. He began reading it and has highlighted parts of the book. I ordered another book for myself online that is supposed to help me make sure I am not enabling his behavior. I found out information about a support group that meets once a month in our area and also made an appointment with a counselor for him and me. Hopefully I will be able to attend. We had to make the appointment very late in the day to accommodate his schedule and my son should probably be at home in bed during that time. We don't really have anyone we can ask to watch him.

I asked him flat out last night if he is willing to work on his ADHD and learn how to manage it. I said I feel very badly that I have gotten so angry in the past with him for things he can't change. I said I can't imagine what a day is like to him, and I am willing to work to learn about what he needs if he is willing to work to learn about what I need. His response? No. He requested (actually demanded) that I ask less of him...that I ask for nothing at all, really. He wants me to just allow him to swoop in and be a husband/father when it works for him. Where does that leave me?

He also told me that the support group, the book, and the counselor are all things that he is doing for me. Hmm. I know he didn't ask for this illness/disorder, whatever it is. No person in their right mind would ask for ADHD. If the fate of my life with my husband is to live his ADHD and all the baggage that comes along with it, and he refuses to work on it, what does that say about me? It seems that if I choose to stay in the situation, I am the only one to blame. After all, my mind isn't sick and can make logical decisions, right?

What I Know For Sure

1.  There will always be something.  Always something else.  Whether it's a truck. Taxes to be paid. Children.  Judy at work.  Always something.  And it will never get to me.  There will always be something.  And it isn't me - the wife.

2.  Every single day, you will hurt me.  Every. Single. Day.  I will be hurt.

3.  Nothing I can say or do will get through to you.  Nothing.  Death, words, tears, begging, hoping.  Nothing.  Nothing will get through to you. I do not matter.  I never will.

The end of my happy little story. 

If you're looking, it's time

Newlymarried -

If you're looking for a way out, maybe it's time before you get too far into this and eventually children are involved.  All of us on here love(d) our partners.  Some of us can make it work, other's can't, a few trying.  I'm one of the ones trying.  But trying is a two way street. If he is not going to hold up his end by taking his medication and learn to be a functioning ADHD then this really is no different then an alcoholic or drug addict bringing you down.  What would do if it weren't ADHD but drugs?

With mental illness, yes there are things that they can't control and things they do because of the illness. But if they are controlled and learn to function there may be traits you can live with because now you can learn to function around it. But you can't function around something that is out of control and you don't know if your coming or going.  It puts you in a tailspin.  

You don't deserve that.  I would have a very frank conversation, don't pull any punches or sugarcoat.  I would say, "We" (b/c this will show you will be supportive) "should go to the doctor and have your meds reevaluated.  Your body has grown used to this one and we should look at some other options." I would then put a date to it - he should make the appointment, not you.  This makes him accountable and responsible for himself and you aren't enabling.  Tell him he needs to get an appt by such and such date.  If he uses a smartphone, he should put it in there for a reminder.  Just a calendar put it there, or if it's a note on the fridge put it there.  But he has to do it.  I don't think a reminder or two is a bad thing.  ADHD's tend to get caught up in other things and they will forget. You should expect this med's or not.  

Having an ADHD spouse can feel like having a kid already. But once they are on Med's, learn to control things, it gets to be a bit easier. But you'll find you still have the reminders.

My partner is beginning to gain more control over her ADHD.  There are still things that work my nerves though.  These are things that I have to weigh which brings me to the message board for help, ideas, etc.  There is a book I'd recommend - "living with ADHD when you're not the one who has it'.  You can get it on Amazon.com.  It's the only book of it kind as it speaks to you and I and how we can take care of ourselves.  It's helped me to and keeps me from enabling. 

There is not an easy answer to this.  But the one thing I would say is this - before you bring in children, get yourselves on track.  This will not change if you have kids, it will just become harder and more out of control for you. Some on here have suffered for years with partners who haven't controlled it and would recommend you leave now.  Other's have been successful and would recommend you hang in there.  A few, like me are trying and still feeling our way through.  I would say that you, like me, still have some weighing do before making a final decision and you're in a good position to do so despite being married already.  Just remember this - it's not okay for him to say, "Well you knew I had ADHD when you married me, so deal with it".  That is not okay. 

I don't know if I helped or answered your question.  I wish you the best!

re:9 months in looking for a way out

hey newlymarried, let me just say that I feel your pain and, maybe to the dismay of most of the other people here, I'm a man currently in the process of getting divorced and getting my marriage of about 4 years annulled.  Maybe a bit of background on this whole situation.  In my relationship (which spans about ten years), I've always been the responsible one.  Make sure bills get paid, doing all the clerical and upkeep of the household, etc. - she's the fun one who sets up things to do, trips to go on, etc.  If we had people over, she would do the cooking and I would clean up the mess....in fact, if there was a mess (any kind of mess), I would clean it up.  I truly understand what it is like to get a phone call at work with questions about performing the simplest tasks - I've often asked myself how did this person get through childhood?  Fact is I'm starting to realize I just inherited a variety of messes someone else was probably cleaning up for her until I took the reins.  Before we got married, I had a good, loyal girl who loved me and who may have been a little messy but what did I care, I loved her.  What kind of man would I be to not be with someone I loved because she was a little messy?  Well these problems were indicative of something much more serious.  As the first two or so years of marriage passed, things were good but slowly I came to resent her because our house was a mess and when I asked for the simplest task to get done, it wouldn't.  Then when I would nag (and I mean like after 50 times of asking "please take out the garbage today" or "please clean your closet up - it's literally falling into the hallway and I have to walk over your clothes to go to the kitchen" - btw, I don't like being a "nag", I hate it), she would begrudgingly pick the bag out of the garbage and goose stomp as she took out the trash.  Let me say there is true disappointment when you ask someone to do the simplest task and you clear your mind of it, work a full day and come home to complete the task yourself.  The only thought that would pop into my head is how important am I that my wife won't even try to help keep the home up nice for us?  Does it occur to her that bringing kids into this hovel was less appealing because how would it make sense to add on dirty diapers and empty bottles into this situation?  A few years of this past and it got to the point where, as many have said here, I inherited everything.  I mean everything - I did her dishes, I cleaned her closet, I cleaned the house, I paid the bills on time, I would even pick up her tampons (come on, I'm a guy....I'd do it once in a while but it was clockwork).  Do you know how it feels to come home from work (which my wife did NOT have - she worked doing private sessions with a handful of clients during the week, that's it) only to punch into your second job?  Do you know how it feels to want kids so bad but to be so scared their lives will be in jeopardy if in the care of this person?  My biggest goal at this point in my life is to start a family of my own but as our problems got worse, I started to resent my wife.  I carried the weight of all these tasks I'd do and would tell her about it calmly, madly, sadly, every way under the sun to get some help, any help.  Nothing worked.  I could not influence her AT ALL.  This to me translated into she didn't care about me, our marriage, my feelings, our future, nothing.  Our marriage problems got worse because she took my emotional withdrawal as I didn't love her anymore which IS NOT the case.  I was fed up with how I perceived I was being treated.  She developed a relationship with another guy which was literally hundreds of texts and emails for a brief period of time - she lavished in the attention.  When I found out about it, she cried and cried and completely denied anything physical ever happened.  Can you imagine how it felt to keep a household together with the last wit you can muster only to find your partner is focusing her energies on texting another man?  Well we went to counseling and what came of it?  She pinned it on me - I stopped showing interest in her life, it was my fault, I don't care enough, I spent no time with her.  How am I supposed to do all of the things she wants me to when I'm carrying the load of chores that most couples share?  I'm a normal guy, I'm not angry or crazy or anything but positive.  I'm from a great family and I am so blessed to have been given the life I have - just a preface to anyone who may be wondering about me (well maybe he's a complete jerk and deserved it!....I'm a teddy bear - I work hard and all I'd like is one or two vacations a year and some affection when I come home from work, that's it).  As I mentioned before, I wanted kids.  I still do.  In May of last year after a sessions with a marriage counselor, my wife and I were together that day before we briefly separated for a few weeks to go into our "separate corners" - therapist's words.  I didn't agree with it - people should work out problems together but I wanted to badly to do what I thought would help, make her happy, save our marriage.  Whatever it would take, however I disagreed with it.  Well months later I found out the day we were together before she went to stay at her Mom's, we had gotten pregnant and she aborted the child (without saying a word to me).  Needless to say this was the sign that was handed to me, in paper, that I had zero influence on what this person I love with all my heart did with her life and our marriage.  The mess is always made but the cleanup was never something she'd have to deal with and, therefore, consequences were nothing she was familiar with.  I spent the time we started seeking help in November, 2008 - August, 2009 getting therapy to save our marriage.  Her therapist, my therapist, two different couples' therapists and while I bled to do everything she wanted that I thought would make her happy (I made a loooooong checklist), she did not lift a finger in very much the same fashion.  Some of you may be reading this and thinking she was just a bad wife.  I'm telling you - no one who loves a person would do all those things to someone they love so dearly.  I hear from her every now and again and she is miserable and wants me to come home - those voicemails, emails and texts sting.  It took every ounce of strength I could work up to pack my car on six different trips to move all my stuff out and proceed with removing myself from this helpless situation.  As I sit here though, I can tell you there is nothing that makes you feel as bad as when the person you do everything for breaks your heart and ignores your pleas to meet you halfway while you lose your mind, bit by bit.  I miss her everyday, I love her and I want to be with her more than you can know but a marriage is not about fulfilling a commitment of pain and degradation.  It's about promising to fulfill your collective life goals built on love and trust and doing whatever it takes to make the other person happy.  To this day and I'm sure for many to come, she will continue to ask me to come home and I will always want to.  But if your gut is telling you the road you're taking is in the wrong direction, listen to it and recognize it's not selfish to let someone endure the consequences of their actions.  Otherwise you'll be cleaning up these messes for the rest of your life while your partner will continue thinking it's ok.  In my experience, life is not perfect and living anything less than what you DESERVE just is not right.  We all deserve love and respect and certainly if we give, I say it's ok to expect some getting too.  I'm hoping someday to have a  family - it just won't be with this girl.  Sad because she means the world to me.  Doesn't mean she is right for me though.  Hope this helps.       

OH MY GOD... This is my life.

OH MY GOD... This is my life. You are me. My wife is your wife. Are you or your wife Christian? Did you have a strong support network? People that would reach out and counsel either you or her? Besides the therapists/counselors? I mean really supportive family/friends?

I do love my wife and I have hope but this is so painful. With proper medication and behavior therapy is it possible for her to come around?

I find it very interesting that your wife had a change of heart eventually. It does not mean that anything would change in the marriage, she is probably just really struggling on her own. But she could just as easily find another guy and repeat the process over, you know what I mean?

Deborah__'s picture

To: amoor983

You said,  Are you or your wife Christian? Did you have a strong support network? People that would reach out and counsel either you or her? Besides the therapists/counselors? I mean really supportive family/friends?

You are absolutely right! If it were not for my friends of 35 years, I would not be here. She's the one I called when I was distracted by my barking dog and put down the loaded 45 I had in my mouth. I've posted the whole thing today under "Other" Newly Separated. There MUST be a supportive friend/family etc. No one can deal with all this without it. THANK YOU for your very insightful comment.

Just don't have children unless things really improve...


I can well understand your problems.  I just found out my husband has ADD after 10 years of marriage.  We have children.  I thought I might be able to provide some perspective for you.  I adore my husband.  And I say that despite his alcoholism - he's been sober for two years now, the ebay spending binges, the ridiculous arguments about nothing etc etc etc.  He has been on anti anxiety meds also for a few years and this has definitely helped.  However, if I were to turn the clock back to where you are now, would I do it again?  No, probably not.  And I hate to say that because he is a wonderful person at heart.  I am lonely.  There is just not the intimacy you would expect.  I have basically raised our two children alone while he has been either drunk, inattentive, basically useless.  If you think you have it bad now, you have no idea how bad it could get if your husband doesn't want to change his behavior and you have kids.  And surely that is the caveat - being willing to try to change.  I am fortunate that my husband is about to start medication and therapy.  I HOPE this will eventually give me the relationship I crave, but seriously who knows?  Most new parents have no idea how difficult it will be to adjust to their first born - the grenade it launches into your relationship.  Throw an ADHD husband into the mix who doesn't want to change, or isn't changing to the point where you are happy with him....honestly, please, please don't do it.  Maybe my opinions are somewhat tainted with own memories of returning from hospital after a c-section to a husband with so little empathy he asked me to unpack the suitcases from the car...then proceeded to cook himself dinner....then was drunk all night...you get the idea.  God it's so bad you have to laugh.  Eventually.  Years later. 

If you can afford it, or your health insurance covers it, find a therapist to talk to - for you.  Listen to your friends as they will counteract your own emotional perspective with a more logical viewpoint.  Sometimes an ultimatum is needed...either he gets help or you're leaving...?  Just don't have children unless things change!!

9 months and looking for a way out

I know you posted a while ago so I don't know if this will help.  I was married to an ADHD person for 7 years and had 2 kids with him and both of my boys have this condition, one is ADHD and is now 21, the other is ADD and 24 as well as married.  Would not change anything those boys are my life and have been there through everything with me.  The only reason that marriage disintegrated is because he started self medicating with drinking and other substances.  This does not work and he became abusive.  I am remarried to you guessed it, another ADHD man.  15 years.  It has been tough but we have worked through it. He also had some self medicating issues which he brought under control.  I have learned to let a lot of things go, work on what we can, cleaning the house together is a recent discovery that works well, making sure we have  a date night, once a week is all I ask where he is all about me and I am all about him.  We absolutely do not discuss any relationship problems this night either, we just hang out, laugh, go to dinner and/or a movie or make dinner together on the grill, sit outside with our tiki torches lit or enjoy a movie at home.  The home things have actually become our favorite because it is less money, we are making dinner and cleaning the dishes together, enjoying a glass of wine and just having fun.   I found that when I stopped nagging him and came to the realization that I can't change him but I can change the way I react to him, things started to change.  Slowly at first but then quickly.  I had to become humble and take the first steps.  Took about a year to turn it around.  We were also on the verge of divorce but I would think about all the good things we had done over the years and all we had worked so hard to accomplish as well as the fact I still loved him very much.  I figure, if you are still in love, its worth fighting for and working on.   It can be done, it does take work and the spouse with ADHD does feel like things are out of control and if he is saying you married me knowing this, deal with it, well you can deal with it but he can also deal with it and he has to.  That is a cop out for his behavior saying that it is OK, I cant help it so deal with it.  He can work on it as well.  Probably not best to confront him with that though, trust me, he will figure it out on his own if you change the way you react to him.  Best advise I can tell you is tell him how much you love him and you know he loves you and you want to make this work and don't accuse him of the marriage not working because of him, worst thing you can do.  Everyone must take some responsibility in a relationship that is faltering. It is always hardest to admit oneself is making a mistake, but we are only human and we will make mistakes.  You have to acknowledge it, not accuse each other of it being the others fault.  It took me 22 years of marriages to figure this out.  My husband will always do things that bug me, I will always do things that bug him, relationships must always be worked on, it is not easy but it can be so rewarding and worthwhile.  Just take it a few baby steps at a time.  Tackle each thing one at a time, let the small things go, because they are just small things, the important thing is to start spending 1 special night a week with each other to start repairing that part of the relationship, the rest will follow through.  He will want to start saving for retirement and trips because this means spending time with you free from all the pressures of work.  My oldest son took medication for a while but not very long, he was not hyper so the teachers didn't push him to take it, my youngest one took it until he got into high school.  He hated how it made him feel.  It was a struggle at first for him when he got off the medication but after the first year, he started to do really well.   It is a constant struggle for him to stay organized but I know he can do it with some gentle persuasion and help.  I stopped the nagging a while ago, does not work at all - trust me.  With my husband, I made sure to start using sweety and honey whenever I addressed him, that brought the walls down very quickly.  Even when I am mad at him, I use it, it really difuses the situation.  I would start texting him out of the blue telling him how much I loved him.  Pack him a lunch every once in a while with a love note.  You start doing that, he will start to do the same.  It just takes time.  I hope some of this has helped you in your decision and I really hope you have not given up on your husband yet.  Feel free to e-mail me if you want, I did set up the contact sheet, just don't know exactly how it works.  I hope this helps anyone else that reads it as well.  You can have a happy marriage and a spouce that does pay attention to you as well as keeps themselves organized, chances are, your kids will have the same condition, but you know how to handle it by then, you have had plenty of training LOL  If you work hard at it and compromise and have lots of patience your spouse will reciprocate.  If I can do it, trust me, anyone can  - Ann :)

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That is a hard thing to do for normal men let alone someone with ADD/ADHD trying to read our spouses minds!! 

It helps if we write things down, keep a journal of the hints you give us, or comments you make that will let us know that you like something without actually telling us.  I do not like it when my wife has to tell me certain things to get because I usually forgot or did not listen when she said something.  When I found out I had ADD and how much having a journal or writing stuff down has helped me I am super pissed that I did not have this earlier.  I think it would have saved my marriage from where it is now. 

I always thought that wild flowers were my wife's favorite and I would get them about every other week and set them on table.  She enjoyed them but they were not her favorite.  She told me about 3-4 years ago what were her favorite flowers and I did not remember until she mention something about 3 months before her b-day this year!  It was a fast comment, something in passing but I ran downstairs and wrote it down.  For her birthday I got her a dozen yellow tulips delivered to her work.  I passed that test!

So, have your husband start writing things down, the hints, the comments about what you like, it will help him remember and keep him out of the dog house!


This depends... My husband

This depends...

My husband knows ALL of my favorites (color, drink, chocolate, places to eat, etc) but if we're having a conversation about something else, he "reads my mind" and can be VERY wrong a lot of the time. Never assume anything...write it down for him if you have to. Whatever it takes to make the marriage less stressful for everyone and more peaceful for everyone as well. :)

I won't even go into the times that I've tried to read his mind....eek!

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My wife still assumes that I am thinking negative thoughts about whatever she asks me!  I have asked her to stop assuming and just ask, which she started to then she has slipped backwards and started assuming again.  I am the one with ADD and assuming whatever I want is not usually good for those that I am assuming about.  With ADD I hate assuming because I am always wrong so  I ask direct no BS questions, why beat around the bush or sugar coat it.  If I do not want to know the answer then I do not ask.  I do not read minds and I will not attempt to read my wife's mind.  That has gotten me into a heap of trouble!!

Our counselor tells me

Our counselor tells me ALL.THE.TIME to just ask my husband directly instead of just assuming or 'reading between the lines' of his half-hearted answers. I am trying to do this, but part of the problem is..well, his half-hearted answers. I am sometimes in the need of direct reassurances or an adult response (not defensive and angry) and I don't always get that. I can take a half-hearted answer and run with it until I have worked myself into a complete frenzy...when he does not see his 'half hearted' answers as half-hearted at all. We're working on it. :o)

I was recently reading about menopause symptoms...and one of them was a change in the breath..like bad breath. Since we had an issue several months back with him avoiding kissing me I immediately convinced myself this was the issue..although he finally gave an explaination and the issue had resolved itself for the most part. I 'jokingly', but not, asked him if he had noticed anything different about my breath, citing the information I had read. "no....no....no". Was his answer...seeming to have to think about it after the first soft, unconvincing 'no'...instead of the "no, honey, not at all" like I wanted/needed. To me, that was half-hearted and unconvincing...to him, he had answered my question..problem solved. Problem? What problem?

I am 42 and feel the pull of old age creeping in. I shower everyday (with a few lazy exceptions here and there when I don't make it out of my pajamas). I keep myself clean and brush my teeth everyday. I always have 2-3 different scents of body spray that I use because I like the 'pretty' feeling I get from smelling pretty. It just wasn't the reassurance I needed from my FIVE years younger than me husband, ya know? Anyway, I made a lot of assumptions in the following weeks and wound up really pissing him off in counseling one day by bringing up the 'kissing' issue again....which was dead in his mind....but very much alive in mine...because I assumed to know what he was thinking.

waynebloss's picture


After she told me what she thought I was thinking, I asked her to please stop and ask me or just tell me why you asked the question.  I hope that when we start the separation things will get better and this year can be folded up and burned!  I will use it as a learning tool but I never had such an awful, horrible and completely degrading year as 2010. 



When my husband says "why?"

When my husband says "why?" asking why I asked him something I immediately fear that I'm heading for an argument. He really does not always make it easy to 'communicate' with him....so sometimes my 'assumptions' are made because I cannot get a straight answer from him or because he doesn't always make himself clear or 'easy to access'. I mean it wouldn't be ADHD if there weren't some communication issues involved. :-P

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Re: :P

That is what my wife used to say, I would ask a question and she would look at me and and say, "really, you think that the answer is going to short and not turn into something else?"  Made me stop and think about what I asked.  I was not intending to ask 1 question with it leading into another or a "discussion" I really just wanted the answer to my question.  It is not until now that I understand how my questions (without thinking about them) were the ones that touch very "raw" subjects and how they would turn into something more. 



Today is the day :) .Today he has his first counselor appointment, and I need advice from you AHDHer's . What part if any do I take in this appointment? In the beginning when the appointment was made I was to attend it with him, yesterday I got a feeling that he may have changed his mind and plans to go it solo. I want what is best for him, because I know it will be the best for us. I am sooooo nervous at this stage I'm losing my logic thinking. I have been thinking about what I would say if I did attend...I'm so close to leaving this relationship that to be honesty I'm not sure it's not to late. I do love him, it's there has been so much to deal with. I know he is moving in the right step to get help, but I also know it will take time .Time (WOW) that's the key word for me, I'm not sure I have it in me and that scares me. Regardless how long it takes for him to get the help he needs, if I can't stay I DO NOT want to have a negative impact . I have already done and said things that have effected him in reaction to his BEHAVIOR , I know in lue of the ADHD we both have to claim our part , but I feel I'm at the end. Thanks for reading, feedback and prayers needed.

1st appointment...

If it were my first appointment...

I think I would have some anxiety about my wife, or what she might say, and have a more difficult time opening up to the counselor. I think couples therapy would be in order after he sorts through some of the ADD affects on your marriage.

I had never seen a therapist before my ADD diagnosis and was quite anxious about the first one. Maybe offer to wait in the waiting room and see what he says. I certainly hope this is a break through moment for him, which could help your marriage. 

Good luck today and I hope things begin to get better...

Re; 1st. appointment

I should have more clear. This is  his first councilor appointment, but was diagnose about 7 yrs ago. He has been on and off med's, but choose to stop taking them 4 months ago.

Off meds...

Were the meds having bad side effects? I will Never go off my meds and back to that ADD Fog. I understand that not all of us ADDer's respond well to meds. Honestly the meds help me function better, but my study of ADD and it's effects on those around me is the real reason I feel that I am improving. Does your husband accept ADD for what it is and what it is doing to your marriage? Knowing my wife, I knew it was improve or die... My wife does not think there was much wrong with the way I used to be, Really? She thinks I make too much of ADD and focuses on why I am different in ways she never expected, like my walking regiment and weight loss. Adderall is just my solution to my weight issue. OK :-?

I understand the anger is what's on the surface, my changes in routine surprising, and I'm still learning how to use my awake brain, but I wish she would come to this site and read a little. Two years post diagnosis, the ADD is just old news and nothing to discuss. I feel that I have scratched the surface and need to keep working.

I hope your husband, who knows of his ADD, can re-ignite his mind on how it affects you before it's too late. I seems many of us guys just choose to ignore everything, like I used to do.

I hope the session goes well... 

Wow! What a great attitude

Wow! What a great attitude about ADD. I think there are so many of us spouses that wish our ADD spouse would take just a portion of your attitude! My DH complained that he didn't like his med's - couldn't give a concrete reason or example of what he didn't like about them - and went off of meds for a month (w/o telling anyone what he was doing). But at the beginning he liked the dextroamphetine XR for focus. We are in counsling (this was the last hope for me before I was leaving) which at the start seemed to help - we did the set meeting time daily (he did miss a few in the beginning but apologized and we moved on) then our meetings were consistent until about 3 weeks ago.  Now he misses our daily meetings (and doesn't say a word about it) and the last meeting he made he was 25 min late and was irritated that I mentioned he was late; of course no apology and then he started to fall asleep during our meeting. Your wife is a lucky lady to have a husband that is so willing to take control of ADD and not let it ruin his life.

Thank you :-)

I am a programmer / accounting systems analyst, so I like (NEED) structure, order, logic and most of all "A Plan". At the tender young age of 43, the ADD was discovered and once I started researching the disorder, I knew I could make things better. The diagnosis for what I thought was just a twisted captain at the helm of my body. (Brain) Initially I took on the responsibility of the roommate type marriage we had evolved into. I knew my inattentiveness and all the other ADD crap had beaten her to a pulp. She always had to be the "Bad Guy" and bring the issues to life, because I did not see them, or felt so bad about them, that I could only hope they went away, because I damn sure couldn't talk about it. Well that was Super-Awesome... Like Wayne said in a post up there, when she was forced to bring it up, she was mad, so she assaulted me with the topic (Well she was mad, can I blame her? No), but when I'm surprised/attacked, shields at set to Max and I shut-down not uttering a word, I feel like all I can to is fall asleep and hope it's gone when I awake. (Real productive (Me)) The guilt and embarrassment is so immense. The worst part is during these confrontations I have thousands of thoughts regarding the matter, but I can't get one out fearing it will make things worse, and the comment will be useless because I was forced to say something only because she made me respond. Evil circle of pain.

As the therapist said, I have an empty bucket to fill. I'm not going to promise anything and let my actions speak for me. I guess it is irrelevant whether she buys the ADD thing or not, it hurts, but If I continue to act better maybe we can save the marriage. I think it is very much better than two years ago, but I'm scared to get too comfortable and relax. 

I cannot tell you how much help, people like you, have had in my recovery/rebuilding period in my life, but I REALLY appreciate it and I hope that maybe some things I say could be half as supportive to others.  

waynebloss's picture

Please GO!!

He needs and so does his counselor need an "outside" view of what has been happening.  Us with ADD will not see what we have done because we think and actually see that we have done nothing.  The counselor will need to hear from you so they can understand and get the whole picture of what is happening.

BEWARE: Do not go in there with the attitude that you can start "bashing" us, fix us and that YOU have done nothing wrong!  It will make us clam up and the party is over. So please, if you go make sure you can check your anger and your attitude at the door. Be honest about everything but say it with a tone that is not condoning, or a tone we have heard all of our lives about how bad, stupid and dumb we have been. You can point out what has gone wrong, what he has done to cause this situation in your marriage/lives and we need to see and hear that, it will go a long way toward the healing for both of you, especially for him.  But when we hear that tone it is over, the walls come out, the missiles and guns come out and we are ready for war faster than you can blink.  

My wife went with me twice and both times it was Wayne bashing time, everything I EVER did wrong she brought up and nothing she did was wrong, so I kicked (did not invite) her out of the sessions until she can get over the anger and be neutral or at least come with me with the intent to help both of us not make me out to be the ONLY bad element in this hell of a marriage.


A little more tough love...

You know I am in your corner, cheering for your marriage and praying that this thing turns around for you...so I will give you my honest opinion...as always...

Put aside the "tone" in which things are said and LISTEN to the words. Don't shut her out of your sessions...just because you don't (your ADD doesn't) like what you're hearing. Quit focusing on what she's saying, or how she's saying it, and focus on what she's trying to do..BE VALIDATED and BE HEARD.

If she says "Wayne checked out of the marriage and acted like a 3rd child while I did everything myself" then you say "yes, I did and for that I am truly sorry"

If she says "Wayne cheated on me" then you say "yes I did..and I will spend the rest of my life proving to you that I am a changed man and will never do that to you again"

No matter what she says, NO MATTER WHAT TONE you perceive, LISTEN..don't 'go there' and get pissed, put up walls, etc. Wayne, my friend, the ADD is still got ahold of you in this aspect. You want REAL changes? You want to finally feel like your wife is truly being healed? Then listen to her 'bash' you and REALLY listen to what she's saying...and tell her that the 'new Wayne' hears her, the new Wayne is a changed man, and the new Wayne is ready to face 100% everything he's done, apologize, make amends however SHE needs him to make amends and try and get this marriage back on track. For a woman, being heard and feeling like their hurt is validated and acknowledged by the one who hurt them is the KEY first step in healing. When I first found out about my husband's affair I was livid. For weeks I threw everything at him that I had...and when I KNEW he was ready for change, when I KNEW he was ready to heal the pain he had caused, is when he TOOK my 'bashing' and he cried...and he apologized in a way like never before...and when he didn't put up walls and get defensive. THAT is when I gave him a clean slate. THAT is when I was able to forgive him. Eventually, I forgave him and I moved on and I no longer had the need to hear him vocalize his accountability for his actions (although he still does often, he does it of his own free will). Amazingly enough, his being accountable for his actions TRULY helped me be accountable for my own. I knew I had been angry and that my anger was damaging to the marriage...but I wasn't able to verbalize it and make sense of it until he had taken full responsibility for his own actions.

Just like I tell the non-ADDers here...you need to be down on your knees humble, ready to accept and love everything about your wife...and being pissed at her bashing you, considering the pain you admit you caused, makes me feel you're not fully opening yourself up to this marriage. The bashing has a time and place, and needs to be done and gotten over with so that things can move forward....but this won't happen until at least one person is willing to listen and acknowledge. We spent 2 years with one counselor alone...and all of our sessions were 'Dean bashes Sherri, Sherri bashes Dean' and NOTHING ever really was accomplished. I fully admit he had some very valid points...and it might have taken me almost losing him for me to really 'hear' what he was saying...but my true healing came with him 'hearing' me and letting me emotionally dump on him...and him taking it. I love him and respect him SOOOO much to this day for it. He took it 'like a man'....and it made all the difference in the world.

Take the focus off of 'what she did'....and focus 100% on you..what Wayne did...and what SHE needs from you to believe you are sorry and to heal. If that means you sit through a few counseling sessions and apologize over and over for all you've done, then isn't it worth it to save your marriage?

waynebloss's picture


I did listen, it was an eye opener for me and the things I did wrong.  Those sessions were the ones that open my eyes to my abusing alcohol, to my reactions, to my overall bad ADD self.  I listen to everything she said, I even wrote them down so I could work on them outside of the sessions.  For me, I was not as bad as some of the ADD men in here, I was still a bad person but not as bad as bad as some of them.  For me, I could see that she was angry with me, that she needed to get it out but after awhile, I needed to concentrate on me, what I felt, what I wanted to work instead of her coming in and doing nothing but bashing me for an hour! Early stages was not a time for me to hear what I have done wrong!  

I do not focus 100% on her anymore, I focus on me, but there are times when I catch myself over analyzing her or what she is doing and I need to stop.  New habits are hard to do!   

If I did not accept her for what she is, she would have been out the door already!  You are correct about listening to each other, and until recently we could not listen to each other at all.  She would not speak and I would get angry, which was due to how we used to communicate and I understand that. One of my important changes was learn how to, and still learning, to communicate without being an ass!.  

Again, you are correct, she was not hear, was not validated until recently.  I did not want to listen, to know what pain and hurt I caused my wife!  I was ashamed of me, of the man I was and how awful I was to her and my kids. When we had our healing separation talks, she said it was the first time she actually felt that I was listening to her in a year.  That she sees me changing for the first time.  It was a communication breakthrough for both of us.  We actually talked last night about some stuff that happen last week and both of us listen and apologized and understood what we BOTH did wrong, our trips and left the conversation smiling, saying goodnight and actually feeling of "like" toward each other. That has been gone for over a year now as well.

What I was trying to say to Bless, is that her husband is in the denial stage and is not willing to listen to her when she tells him what he has done wrong. It will not matter where she does it at, if she has that attacking tone he will not listen to her and his mind will shutdown and go on.  I know, I did it myself!  It is hard to put aside the "tone" when you are not ready to, when that is all you heard for YEARS.  It hard to take it on the chin to see how horrible, how awful, how much of a man we are not.  It hurts our manhood, it crumbles out core of who we are, so forgetting about the "tone" is not something that will happen in the 1st couple of sessions. Before that will happen, the ADD person has to WANT to change, not need to, not change for XYZ, but WANT to change for himself or it will not work. 

I have cried, I have apologized, I have changed and shown her that I am a "new" Wayne but right now she is still angry, still not seeing me as a "new" me, still has her walls up, still does not want to turn toward the marriage and have a clean slate.  I am hoping that this healing separation will do that for her, if not then we try everything else before we give up.  Our conversations she has stated she is starting to find peace, see me for me but is not ready to work on us, so I take it day by day and see what happens. 

Bring on the tough love Sherri, if I can survive what I just went through in 2010, then I can handle anything!! 


Ok..with those added details

Ok..with those added details I feel a bit better. :-P

You're doing great...honest you are. You make a very good point...about needing time in counseling for yourself...I agree with that, it just seemed like you were saying something different in the other post. I often wish my husband and I could have separate sessions sometimes, but I feel like it takes both of us there to create better communication skills and I worry that he wouldn't be motivated to hit on the hard issues...like his 'destructive' coping ways he's developed and creating better ways to cope. He does not cope with stress/big life changes well at all. There are several issues I think he would be happier if he would work on, but as long as he's going and we're making progress, I'm trying my best to just stay out of his head and let him sort through everything himself...and ask for what help he wants, when he feels he needs it.

My honest opinion on the 'tone' thing....it is very hard, as a non-ADDer to read when the right time is to bring something up, then decide how the best way to bring it up is, and we often find ourselves hoping it won't turn ugly. My tone, body language, facial expressions...are all read wrong more often than not..add the fact that it is a 'hairy' subject and you can bet your pretty a$$ that 75% of what I say will be mis-read or taken in a negative way. It is hard....but I love him...many of us love our ADDers enough to compensate and work through it...and this is why counseling is so crucial in breaking down those barriers. I can say something...he'll get mad...our counselor will say 'what did you hear her saying?'..he'll repeat something negative..she'll say "no, I heard this..." and he'll 'get it'. I'm praying eventually he will 'get it' when it comes from ME. :)

There are very little 'good ways' to get through to someone who is in denial about their ADHD. It took the threat of you losing everything for you to finally 'get it'. It took my husband the same. You can sugar coat it and place it on rose petals on a silver platter and some ADDers are just going to deny it is a problem because they have no 'risk' involved. I call it 'motivation' and think that big changes only come with 'motivation'...but this isn't exclusive to ADHD...I was motivated by the same kinds of things...almost losing  my marriage, losing my Daddy, and just plain and simple the misery I was living HAD to end. No one will change if it is easier to remain the same...and they have no risk in doing so, ya know?

Thanks for the clarifications.


waynebloss's picture

Re: Language

I do feel that ADDer's have a hard time with regular communication but we are very attune to non-verbal language!  We can see your body position, your eyes, your facial expression adn can gather what we need from that!  My wife's body language is very bad right now, she started one conversation, tone was nice but her body language was not telling the same story.  I politely asked her to calm down, take a small time out and come back before we talked.  She was mad and shocked but then came back and asked I how knew. Told her that I can read body language very well and hers was not a happy one. 

We do need to work on communication for the rest of our lives but need to be able to communicate as we can work on our skills.


Lets hope that the communication stays open adn civil like it right now, it makes life a tad bit easier!


Have a good one!


Yes, communication is hard

Yes, communication is hard for two reasons...the body language/facial expression issue...and the defensiveness on his part/paranoia on mine. Either I am making expressions I don't know about or he is completely misreading them...and he is so sure that everything I say is ladended with negatives about him...and I'm so sure that every negative thing he says means that he's not happy and is going to cheat again. This is the best and simplest way I can break down our communication issues. The medications, I feel, have made it even harder for me to talk to him..because his fuse is shorter and his defensiveness is sky high. Hopefully in time this will improve. It really is one of the hardest things to re-learn...after 13 years of marriage. As you said, old habits die hard...for all of us. :)

Keep counting to 10..keep thinking before you speak. Make no assumptions. Ask what she's feeling in a way that says "I really care". You're getting there. :)

waynebloss's picture

Re; Shortness

The meds awake areas in our brains that were muddy/foggy.  In Melissa's book she said, which made more sense to me now, is that ADHD people take everything in as an equal, as they all have the same importance.  With the medication on board, we are now able to add levels of importance and in the beginning we add too high of importance on issues that should be low priority.  It does take time, a conscious effort on both parts especially him to learn what goes where! 

Tell him I am rooting for both of ya!! 


Hugs and prayers!! 


The 1st meeting...

  • Thanks to each and everyone that gave me feedback and prayers for today.

I went with him not knowing if I was attending or sitting in the waiting room, but when (she) called his name he said can she (me) attend also? :) My eyes are wet with tears just remembering him asking.

She ask him questions about how things were while he was on the med's and now....etc.He said he had trouble focusing,was hyper...and he would not take med's again, because they made him grit his teeth, and the med's he had tried only worked for a while then they would have little or no effect on him that was good.

 I listen as my heart filled with an  assortment of feelings, then she asked me a lot of the same questions.... I could hardly speak....I became over whammed with pain, fear and yes happiness. I was a basket case for a couple of min's...with tears in my eyes I comely told her about the man I loved and the elephant we lived with. My husband tried to com me, then said: she has been though a lot this year lost her job , her rental house and has to deal with the effects of my ADHD. He said that he had read some where that ADHD can be hard on relationships, but he had no problem with it without me. He also said that it must effect some people more than other's , because I was the only woman that it had effected. Yes I went there with info. that not only was this (us) was the longest relationship he had ever has (2 yr's, he's almost 52) , but there was a letter from his ex wife that told a different story....she did not say ADHD, but problems that implied it. Information that I DID NOT talk about (I felt not my place nor did I want to want him to feel like he was being attacked) was: he had to attend summer school to gradate and also failed,  last attempt was to test out which he did, that it took him about 10 years to get though 6 years of collage, that he has had about 20 jobs , with his present job being the longest at 5 years, that he has been engaged about 6 times and married 3 with us being the longest relationship period, has been married twice before us with 7 months being the longest they lived together ( he divorced both and both tried to stay with him....not his story, but know it to be true)...when I meet him, he made enough money to own or have owned a home , but lived in a 34 ft. camper, was and still owes over $15,000 on credit cards with little to nothing to show for...the list can go on, but  there is no doubt the effects are there and bad, yet he does not see it. I will say that some how he has been able to have GREAT CREDIT and still does.

Councilor speaks to him....you say that you have no problem...you are closed to med's, I can't fix you. He say's that he didn't understand how , but I had told him of  non stimulant med's and he would be willing to try them and come back to see her. She said she had , but was not a psych. and could not explain, but his doctor could . He told her that I had gotten so upset before that I had kicked him. I think both of us was surprised when she ask if (he) might be open to group (anger management), he declined that for now but, he has appointment's to see both councilor and Psych doctor 1/25. I'm still have mixed feeling about us and how this will be in say 6 months, but for now I'm trying to take things one day at a time...that's all I /we have anyway. Thanks for reading, feedback and prayers needed.

I would go...keeping the

I would go...keeping the content of the appt to the 'untreated ADHD'. At some point he needs to own up to it's effect on your relationship...but to think that will happen in one appt is probably asking too much. My husband knew what it was doing to our relationship BEFORE counseling, so we went in with a clean slate and the attitude that we were going to fix our marriage and leave the past in the past. To avoid "he said, she said" sesssions, maybe you can both make individual appts and get your 'side' of things out and let the counselor sort through the rest. I'm praying for you, lady!

response to newlymarried

It sounds like you're struggling with some very real issues (that are not just you!) that may or may not be related to the ADHD and I empathize with the very difficult choice you are faced with.  I can tell you that adding children to the mix does NOT make it any easier.  There is a lot to keep track of, demands on time are greater, and resentment can build with taking on more than your fair share of the household and child-rearing duties.  Interest in the relationship wanes because of the lack of attention so even though he may tell you that spending time together is important, sex is important, your relationship is important, etc, the follow-through is just not there, at least in my experience.  I have 3 children whom I love dearly so I can't say that I regret staying married but I probably would have made a different decision in the early years if I knew then what I know now.  Best of luck to you on this very personal and heartbreaking choice.

Hope you have found your way!



I have been married to my ADHD husband for over 14 years and I can tell you that things have only worsened over time.  This is a horrific disease and in my experience ONLY can be managed when the ADHD spouse comes to grips with his or her disease and makes a commitment to getting help.  I will likely divorce in 2011.  All signs are pointing in that direction.  It is heart-breaking, but I no longer have the ability to be co-dependent in this disfunction.  I feel for you!

Curious as to to your outcome

Have you been able to make any meaningful changes that have resulted in an improvement in your marriage?  Cognitive behavioral therapy? new meds? 

Reading your post this morning gave me some hope that men with ADHD might be able to change.  I am a woman married to an ADHD man.  This man was the love of my life.  I now have such deep disdain for the damage that he has done to our marriage.  Infidelity, porn addiction, no consistent work, bursts of anger, depression, impulsive spending, mis-management of finances, inability to be intimate.  Wow, who in their right mind would be interested in this marriage - right.  The ONLY thing holding us together is my memory of how it was and how I long for it to be.  He WAS the love of my life.  I am 46 and it is time for me to move on.


Has your husband sought help or read about ADD? I had No idea I had it until my diagnosis at 40+ years old. I looked at the doctor like he was crazy and he told me to read "You Mean I'm not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?". I had not gotten through a book in years, no kidding... I read it with a highlighter in one weekend.

I responded well to Adderall and things are better for me and my family. The interesting paradox I see is that I have sought out all kinds of info relating to ADD, from both perspectives, to better understand myself and my affects on those around me. My wife has not really read much about ADD and thinks I put too much on it's effects.

Two years later things are better, but there is still a lot of anger/frustration over the past that never seems to go away. A major resentment has been created by my weight loss. I was never an addict of any kind, except for food. We always had this in common and now I don't, so there is anger that my Pill has the ultimate side-effect of weight loss. We have finally agreed to disagree on the subject, unfortunately. I have mentioned this website and wish she would visit and see that her experiences are not unique.

I know I had a big bucket to fill, regarding trust and self important behavior, so I apologize for past actions, try to learn new coping skills and deal with things better than before. Maybe one day the hurt and anger will be far behind us.

Good luck and thanks for posting...


Thanks for responding. My

Thanks for responding. My husband has been aware of his ADHD since he was very young. He experienced a myriad of crisis situations, including rehab, jail, etc. before I met him. In comparison, his crisis have been much less catastrophic since I have met him. He has also been on Adderall since I have known him, or at least since I can really remember. He has also had shining moments---spending time as the popular president of his high school class, class flirt, etc. Unfortunately, at this time, he feels as though it is my obligation to stop requiring anything from him. If we didn't need anything from him, after all, there wouldn't be a problem, right? From my end, I play the role of parent to our beautiful son (1 year), breadwinner, organizer, planner. I need something from him...for heaven's sake, I need help from him. I'm a human being, not a super hero. My aunt always says, you can't stay married if you don't get anything out of it. I desperately want someone to tell me that I will get something out of this if I stay in this marriage. I want to hear that there is hope.


Less "Crisis Situations"... Interesting... I have started referring to my life in terms of B.C. and A.C. , because after high school I really lost my direction going nowhere in my college career and working go nowhere jobs and then my relationship with my wife started in the early 90's. Her name begins with "C". C had very specific ideas and limits as to how relationships work. I did not know about my ADD until 2009, but living and understanding and wanting to please my wife held me to some codes and structure that I thrive under. My first job when we were married lasted 12.5 years, not months :-) and I am in the same industry, with only 20 days of unemployment (Laid-Off with a month of severance pay) So  my NonADDer wife changed my life. I have always pulled my fair share of things and I am not lazy. I always said if we both work full time we split the work at the house.

Here is the post Adderall problem. I used to never see a problem until it was blowing-up in my face, then I dealt with it and I was always "Laid-Back" because "I" was unaware of many problems... Now I am Hyper-Aware of all the things that must get done and know it is a mathematical impossibility. To help my knew Anxieties, on my days off I like to ask my wife "What are two things you really would like to see me work on?" This seems to help both of us... She likes that I ask what seems important to her and I (Being a TERRIBLE Mind-Reader) know what I work on will be appreciated. In the past I would work on things in futile efforts, if I found out later that I should have done something else.

This post ADD knowledge thing is a work in progress, like a marriage, I guess... Both people have to contribute. The funny thing is typically I am the organized one, because I figured out a long time ago that I was NOT organized and use every electronic reminder/calendar/Task & To-Do list known to man to stay organized. I still fail sometimes, but who doesn't?

You should expect your husband to help out and he is not your child. Many ADDer's never get it because they don't want to face the monster. I was relieved to find out there was a reason for what went through my brain, so I choose to take it on a deal with it. Some guys need to know that you have limits to shock them into reality. ADDer's love "The Comfort Zone" and why leave it if you don't have to? I don't want to be That Guy anymore...

There is hope, I hope too...


What helps me now

You sound like a thoughtful

You sound like a thoughtful husband who is honestly working on managing your ADD. I notice you write ADD and not ADHD. My husband has ADHD, and his means explosive anger, impulsivity, hyper-focus, and frequent boredom with life itself. How different are ADD and ADHD? It seems that some people use them interchangably.  

ADD or ADHD...

The H is for Hyperactivity. I was never very hyper as a child or adult, which is part of the reason I went 43 years without knowing I had it. I was pretty laid back most of the time, but when I did blow it could be pretty bad. Low self esteem helped me to internalize things and I did/do not like to react in the moment fearing making another wrong response to someone I love or if if did not like the person I would take pleasure in using sarcasm and a grin, fueled by adrenaline, to defeat the situation. My reactions to conflict yeilded horrible results with the people I love, but worked well against mean or rude people. My wife thinks I blow the ADHD effects out of proportion, or use it as a convenient excuse for past behaviors. I wish she would read one of the books or this website. My weight loss and exercise routine is a Real Sore subject... We used to have Emotional Eating as a common trait. Now I eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm not. Our age doesn't help either... Guys my age only lose weight when they are trying to impress someone, if the unfortunate perception. We still have lots of work to do in the area of trust. Before my ADHD was discovered we were the classic room mate couple. I had a new job and befriended a co-worker and asked her opinion about some things my guys friends would be useless to ask, and things that would cause friction between females in my family and my wife. I needed to talk to someone with an objective outside opinion. Discussing marital topics was a worse offense to my wife than a real affair. I did not think she would ever find out, but an email was found, my life blew up and I had just discovered that ADHD was a Major factor in my behaviors. We saw a family therapist and agreed that I would end the friendship before the end of that year. I decided to end it early, worked through the email with my wife and send it. It was not a fun day, as I copied my wife on the responses, yikes... But it was over... We are still working on this thing and are working on new coping skills. I don't clam up anymore and this is new to us and frankly I can speak my mind and it can bs good or bad, but I'm communicating and I used to not be able to say much in the heat of the moment. I'm the one that stays calm, interesting... There is a bunch of give and take, but both people in a marriage have to do their part. I understand that my ADHD is not gone, and never will be, but I'm taking my meds and learning as much as I can. We all have issues to deal with and I'm hopeful of my marriages future. Thanks for your encouraging words. Sorry about rambling on, but it's late and the meds are pretty much done for the day :) YYZ


wow, i am glad you did that. It gives me hope for my wife and our marriage and family.

Why do you care if he says he is just doing it for you

He is doing it. At least give him a chance before you give up or you are no better. After all, are you not the healthy one? You should be pleased that he feels strongly enough to try something he is reticent to try. Maybe something will stick. And just so you know, this is a lifetime condition which needs careful management. Would you kick out a diabetic husband for reluctance to try another treatment?

Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate you reaching out and responding to my post. Perhaps you are totally right, but....

If I had a diabetic husband who refused to follow what he needed to do to manage his condition, it would also have bad effects on our marriage. Also, I see the analogy between ADHD and diabetes, but the difference is that, if it is indeed a mental illness, his mind, the part of him that is sick, is making the decisions. That causes a lot of pain and suffering in the lives of those around him. Perhaps I have to simply realize that that will be our fate.

I know I sound cold, but I have spent the last five years beating myself up and trying to make sense of this. I'm tired of it. I want my life back. I want the life I thought we would have together. It can be a life that is created based on his needs and mine, but I no longer want to live my life alone (with a man, who seems like a stranger to me, living in my basement) except for brief moments of his hyper focus and/or rage and anger.

I am not giving up on him. I love him very much. I do feel, however, as though I could possibly be better if I am saving myself from more heart ache and destruction. At what point do I say enough is enough? And if I can't ever say enough is enough, how can I cope with this. I don't know where to turn for strategies that are effective.

Anna, I feel the same as


I feel the same as you do, and I've been educating myself. The more I learn, the more I want people around me to learn, and it's hard because until you are faced with the situation you and I are both in, it doesn't make sense. The more I read I feel guilt, I feel sad, and confused, because  this is certainly NOT what I had in mind when we were dating I thought oh my GOD there really is someone who is going to do the thing you "ONLY HEAR ABOUT" and he's going to be everything I always dreamed of. Well as you know by now that all wears off, because the "hyper focus" ya it goes away and you're back to being a parent to someone you once loved and wanted to be in love with. I have two beautiful girls my husband went all through school and college and knew something was wrong, but just didn't know what. It wasn't until we had a major argument and the book driven by distraction was purchased that we both realized he we can work on this. Thing got better for awhile we had our first daughter.......repeated with the "HYPER FOCUS" behavior so now not only am I ignored so is my oldest daughter, fast forward our 2nd daughter was born she'll be 2 in August, well he's still focused on her, it didn't wear off yet, but it will. I'm tired of feeling guilty for my feelings I'm exhausted parenting him and my two girls I hate having a room mate and not a soul mate, and the whole time he is ok with it, it doesn't bother him a bit. I've bought book upon book, I've joined groups I've talked to many many people, and the only conclusion I can come up with is I can educate myself until the cows come home, but it's not going to help until my husband learns how to deal with this CURSE on a daily basis, not just when I flip my lid. your husband will have to do the same they need to have the correct thought process we can't make them think the same way we think it's like we're on FM radio, and they're on AM and have no tuning button. Wish you the best while it can be rewarding, it can also be hell my husbands family enables him so that makes it even harder to deal with.

Thanks for responding.

Thanks for responding. Honestly, it helps to talk about it with other people who actually understand. To a person who isn't experiencing it, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

No one should be treated like

No one should be treated like that. It seems that putting up with it is enabling the behavior. Mental illness isn't a choice but understanding it and treating it is. My heart goes out to you. My ADHD husband has put me through h e double hockey sticks and recently told me he was an alcoholic. Now I'm hoping things will turn out okay since he is in recovery (so he says), but everything seems to just revolve around him. He doesn't even seem to have the ability to see past himself. Why should anyone have to live with another person who is careless with your heart and needs? That's unrealistic, in my opinion.

That seems really unfair to your husband

He has to talk to you while you do your share of the work of maintaining your home. That means he can't watch TV or read or anything else. How is that easier for him than just doing it himself? Doesn't that mean everything takes him twice as long is non-ADHD-affected couples?

My husband knew I was handicapped when he married me (I could hardly hide it; nor did I want to.) but I didn't know he has ADD (no H). That seems unfair. I had no idea I was marrying a man who would not carry his share of the burdens of life, either financial or domestic. It probably isn't fair that he's married to a person who can't walk at a normal pace, but he knew that when he married me. I guess, if you were someone like me, you'd be screaming in frustration because I can't keep up.

My husband lost all his teeth by his mid-40s because he didn't brush properly. Now he has dentures. I find the idea that you can't remember to brush your own teeth rather amazing. It is not fair to you because you could lose your teeth. It probably isn't fair to your husband or co-workers because you are more likely to have bad breath. I don't see how you can stand it.

Please take care of yourself

iia remember feeling like you. I was frantically trying to figure out what was wrong with my husband. ADHD seemed like a valid explanation. He did, after all,.have ADHD. But what you are describing sounds like much more is going on. it sounds like you are being abused emotionally. In my case it ended up that my husband was a severe alcohic. Only after he hit his bottom, got sober, and agreed to work with me instead of against me, did things start to get better. Please take care of yourself...self sooth, write letters to yourself, do nice things for yourself. If you have been pushed so far to the edge that you are suicidal, it has gone too far. Take yourself back.

"Help Me"

We at this forum definitely wish to be an outlet for you, and an understanding and empathetic audience.  However, if you genuinely are feeling suicidal, you need to connect with a doctor, therapist, suicide hotline or best friend and share your feelings and need for help immediately.  There are people out there who can help you - take advantage of both those who wish to support you virtually (us) and those who have the ability to support you in person (all those others).  For help, you must reach out - please, please do so RIGHT NOW (even if you are feeling somewhat better - it will be good to have that support (or lifeline) in place).

Deborah__'s picture

To Melissa in response to "HELP ME"

You are so RIGHT! I found myself in a very suicidal situation...and thankfully, my dog's incessant barking distracted me. I purposefully got in the tub and shut the shower door, sitting on the tub floor with a loaded 45 in my mouth...fully intending to pull the trigger. My little dog, literally, saved my life. I did just as you suggested, I contacted a good friend right then at 2:30 AM. Her suggestion to me was just as you gave regarding "HELP ME". By 8:00 AM I was at my Dr office, no appointment...just walked in. He'd been my Dr for 25 years. So when he was told I was there with no appointment and looking the way I did. This precious doctor came out to the waiting area and took me to his office. He set me up that day...with a therapist. I was in no shape to drive all the way out to the therapist who had cleared a time for me to be there within an hour. One of the other folks that had come to the office for an appointment...drove me. I had walked barefoot to my doctor's office that morning (3 blocks). Even though I'd been diagnosed with PTSD, living with someone with ADHD was more than I could handle or understand. I'd literally allowed myself to be beat down to truly believe my life had no value. ( WHAT A LIE...but I believed it, as I was told that daily)

WHY is there still such a stigma attached to anyone seeking help for a emotional issue, etc. It's as if people don't realize that your brain is part of your body!!

My hubby has ADHD and a medical professional. I don't want to repeat myself as I've posted several times today, plus started a new topic under "Other"...Newly Separated. One thing for sure is that we deeply love each other and are BOTH determined to work this out. I am now living 600 miles away. THERE IS HOPE no matter how dark it may seem.

Keep reaching out


I've read your posts, and I really support you to keep reaching out...to friends, on the forum, to a therapist.  To connect with whomever you choose that might give you some hope.  You don't say when you considered suicide, whether it was just recently or ...but whenever...it is important to keep as much of a support system around you as you can.  And certainly posting here can be very helpful,  There is so much support on this forum.  Just remember, you are not alone.

All my best to you.

Deborah__'s picture


Thank you so very much for your comment. That suicide attempt was about three years ago...and not the first one. Although that was the most serious. I'd gone so far as made a list on who I wanted to have certain items I possess. I actually put there names, with sticky-notes on the backs of some paintings I have. Jewelry was given special attention, as I have some heirloom pieces. Pieces of antique furniture also had the names of who I wanted to receive certain pieces. I'd thought long and hard who should receive what. Looking back, I can see that this was one of the most serious attempts anyone could make...going so far as thinking it through to that degree. This was VERY dangerous.

I am so deeply grateful that I did not pull the trigger on that 45 I had in my mouth...seriously...it really was my little dog's incessant barking (and howling) that distracted me. As soon as that happened, I got out of the tub and called my friend. We are now separated. I live 600 miles away. He is a medical professional...yet, still I don't know if he really understands the seriousness of NOT getting additional help. It appears (I'm not sure) he feels that he can never change. This is one thing he, still tells me.When we BOTH made the decision on where I would stay it was a shocker. These are friends of 35 years. The goal is restoration and wholeness...NOT divorce. He is the only man I've loved in my whole adult life.

As long as there's life there is hope! I'm gaining new insight from this things I read on this site...and I'm no quitter. Have you read the new post I wrote on the FORUM area under "Other"...Newly Separated. It would mean a great deal to me if you would, as everything is put in that post. Any advice, information or information going into a positive direction would be most appreciated

3:00 AM this morning he called me, trying to draw me into a screaming match about something that had long ago that had already been resolved. Being so far away actually has given me more confidence to stand my ground. One thing that I do know is that we both deeply love each other. However, he keeps telling me that certain things "are just the way they are and not likely to change"...and I know this is not true. He is a medical professional and should know better, but says differently. It "seems" (I'm not sure) that if he holds to this position, then he's safe in putting all blame for every issue on me. That too, is ridiculous. He's accused me of things when I wasn't even there. He's forgotten and left his phone open and I HEARD him slamming me to some of the others that work with him at the same hospital. Other than utter shock, I was hurt in a way that I had no clue I could be hurt. When I brought this up to him, as usual, I got the "talk"..."You just don't understand, etc, etc, etc" I heard what I heard. Rather than allow myself to be drawn into a screaming match...I calming let him know that I needed to get back to sleep, but reassured 

What really grinds me is when he repeats my name over at minimum three times, telling me that I just don't understand...as he's the "professional". However, we are both professionals in our chosen fields. He has his medical friends convinced I'm the problem in his life. We are both members of MENSA. The decision to separate was mutual, as was the place I would stay. Of course, I had to be the to leave as he would never be able to get an extended leave of absence from the hospital where he is employed. Our, mutual, goal ti to work things out, To be reunited. Love was NEVER the issue. Trust is a huge issue. Getting him to admit any wrong doing is next to impossible...even when it's as plain on the nose on your face. He always has to be right...about everything. I see this as having been put down and ridiculed so severely from his earliest years. I do not see him as some monster or bad guy. He's my husband I love him and am sure he feels the same about me'

Again, I want to say a great big THANK YOU for your comment. It surely was a huge dose of encouragement,

Kindest Regards





Some do take responsibility...

I did not know that I had ADD until I was 43 years old. I'm the ADD guy in the marriage and after diagnosis Everything made better sense. The meds helped me see everything I was missing, but that is only part of the treatment. You also need therapy, at least for a while, and you need to learn as much as possible about how ADD affects Everyone around you. There are a lifetime of bad coping skills that develop in ADDer's. It takes hard work to un-do these and learn better ways to deal with things. I know it must totally suck for you right know, but you can't fix her, you can only try to get help for yourself. There are many people on this site from both sides of ADD who can help you. The more you know, the better, so you can decide what to do. I've heard many of the Non-ADDer's say it helped to separate the ADD from the Person. This must be Very hard, because the ADD traits are Very Personal. ADDer's cannot hide behind the diagnosis and expect improvement, but it is really scary to admit you have a brain disorder and step up and punch the ADD traits in the face.

Hang in there...  

excuse for your behaviour?

hmm... would you really use the diagnosis as an excuse? what would be the difference with knowing without diagnosis?

on the other hand, the diagnosis can help you a lot. There are many options for treatment you are discarding even before trying them. Why don't you give yourself the chance to decide not to treat you just after you are sure this is not the best option for you?



She might need a little help, though.

Does she try to improve or not at all? If she is trying there are lots of things you can do to help her, starting by writing a schedule that includes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, including brushing teeth and personal hygiene. You have no idea how much mind clears when the everyday activities are written and you just have to follow what is next.


looking for a way out

If your husband is not willing to work with you on his ADHD issues and your repsonse to them, in my opinion, you should leave. You are setting yourself up for heartbreak after heartbreak. I shed tears when I read Melissa's excellent and hopeful book about the ADHD effect on marriage. I can only manage me. It is possible to have a successful ADHD marriage but ONLY if your spouse is willing to do the work. Mine isn't so none of the strategies she suggests will work for our marriage. Sadly, I am resigned to a stressful marriage for the rest of my life. It's your call, but think carefully of the heartache you will experience daily. Even though you love someone with all your heart that can't make it work. I hesitate to present such a negative senario but that is what I am living day after day. 


looking for a way out

If your husband is not willing to work with you on his ADHD issues and your repsonse to them, in my opinion, you should leave. You are setting yourself up for heartbreak after heartbreak. I shed tears when I read Melissa's excellent and hopeful book about the ADHD effect on marriage. I can only manage me. It is possible to have a successful ADHD marriage but ONLY if your spouse is willing to do the work. Mine isn't so none of the strategies she suggests will work for our marriage. Sadly, I am resigned to a stressful marriage for the rest of my life. It's your call, but think carefully of the heartache you will experience daily. Even though you love someone with all your heart that can't make it work. I hesitate to present such a negative senario but that is what I am living day after day. 


looking for a way out

I, too, amm married to an ADHD spouse. I read Melissa's book about the ADHD effect on marriage. I can only change me and this book only works if both partners are willing to do the work. Unfortunately my husband won't. I have resigned myself to a miserable marriage, stressful every day, often ending in tears for me. You need to assess your situation and make you own choices but I encourage you to look carefully at what you life will be like when you are the only one working to make this marriage work. In my opinion, leave before you turn into someone you never thought you would be: bitter and beaten down.

My thoughts exactly...

I am surprised no one has seconded your thoughts - I am in your position, only a few years into the marriage, and I know exactly what you mean. I can feel your pain and applaud you for trying so hard. Just wanted you to know, you are not alone with such thoughts, someone in NY understands...

9 months

Having a spouse with ADHD can be very frustrating. You are led to believe everything is your fault. The bad times can be very bad but the good times can also be very good. I am 14 years married and my husband was diagnosed 5 years ago. Our marriage is a lot of work and sometimes I just want to give up. If you are not up to the work than yes I would get out but if you can't imagine your life without him than the work is worth it.



I am so thankful for your

I am so thankful for your blogs. We are just starting our journey through this adhd thing and its nice to know I am not crazy. For so long I thought it was just me. Like you said it was almost as soon as we got married things changed almost instantaneously. Please keep this going and do not listen to the negative people out there, people like me really need this!

another perspective: "Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse..."

Dear Ann Norment,

You leave me feeling very encouraged, thank-you. I am old school ADHD, I was diagnosed at five with A.D.S. (Attention Deficit Syndrome in 1968) and have had to deal with it my whole life. I wish I could take Adderall XR but because of the abuse of drugs in the West and the Asian Opium wars of the past many medicines are unavailable here and so I take Ritalin. Anyway, there is always hope and we just have to keep taking life one day at a time. I am on the other end of the spectrum, I want more attention from my Non-ADHD spouse.

I am a Special Education & Gifted/Talented certified teacher. In my day, ADHD was considered a form of mental retardation. I have suffered but continued to fight. Medical professionals told my mom that I needed to go to a special school for retarded children and that I would never amount to anything.  Yet, I have since graduated college with my master's Degree and now teach. Unmedicated, I am still unfocused, constantly distracted and meet "all the criteria" of ADHD. Now, I have a lovely Chinese wife and a beautiful future ahead of me. Anyway, this is my second marriage and I really want to make it work. When we first met I was the subject of her "hyper-focus," as I keep hearing it referred to by the Non-ADHD Spouses of this forum. And now, she is busy with her life and I am left feeling lonely and ignored, just like the rest of you describe.

It's just life, people fall in love, are in love and then eventually find that they are no longer "in love" but continue to love each other. I think, well maybe that is life... I remember reading that Heraclitus once said: "Nothing is permanent except change" and so I continue to try to direct my life in the way, I desire. Pompous, sure, but so what... I just want to feel happy and to live a fulfilling life.


Eddy (The crazy foreigner)

I wish all of you a happy and fulfilled life.


Rambling bla bla bla

Dear Extremely Driven,

i think you are so cool! All my life I knew people like us were different and generally though "they were the weirdos" my friends and I referred to them as "mundane" because they were so slow, insensitive, dull witted and awkward. Then after years of ridicule, scorn no mater how hard I try to be like them through behavioral modification and "medicine" I've come to feel much more accepting of them. I admire their strengths and work hard to gain similar strength although I stil do not understand the and find them perplexing. The luckiest thing for me is that I now live in China where I am appreciated for my strengths and tolerated for my differences because, I'm an exotic foreigner from America. Chinese do not understand Westerners and feel: Ha ha, so funny, foreigner so crazy, never can understand their thinking way." But, at least I am accepted and appreciated for who I am. 

All I really wanted to say was I really enjoyed reading your post and think I would have enjoyed knowing you.




Hi!  Can you tell me which book you bought for yourself?  Did you find it personally helpful? Thanks!

I cannot tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I wish I..

34 years and 5 children later, and we're still where you are today.  My children are my life, and I'm sure my reward for remaining with this man. I "love" him only because he is the father of my children, but I can tell you I truly hate him. We didn't realize what ADHD was until about 15 years ago, just thought he was an egotistical a$$. We know now that he has ADHD and I can tell you, he's still an egotistical a$$. EXTREMELY successful at work, (a sought after world wide technical expert/speaker in his field) and in whatever he enjoys or wants, but it is all about him. Unfortunately, our children feel pretty much the same about him, but they realize that they can leave and have a life of their own, so they can deal with him on their terms.  We only have one child left at home for a couple of years yet. I wish I could tell you that they change, but I cannot.  Keep reading and see what is the general consensus of non-ADHD spouses. You will find much pain, anger, bitterness, lonliness, hopelessness, regrets and depression, just to name a few. Most have experienced them all..... I wish I would have RUN and NEVER LOOKED BACK. Good luck to you, I wish you peace...M

To welltheresyourp

I got to the place you are at about a year ago.  Hard to explain to others that it isn't the same as "giving up."  I don't feel resigned at all.  I feel quite free, actually.  I think it is because I have finally, to paraphrase Melody Beattie, the co-dependency author, I have finally stopped "forcing what isn't" and "resisting what is."  I have accepted what I have and don't have, what he can do and what he can't do, and I just .... go forward!  When you stop trying to make something into something else, it feels... wonderful.  Best wishes.


Hi there.  I saw your post yesterday and it really resonated with me to a level that reached my heart - finally!  I am not married yet but I am in a serious relationship with a man that sounds just like your wife.  We are going to be getting engaged and I really need to talk to someone.  Would you be up for a conversation via email?  I really want to talk to someone that would understand and obviously, you will.  Please let me know! It says not to post email addresses so I don't know how to havea  private conversation with you.  I really need some help here  - thank you!  Thank you so much! 

Need encouragement


I really could connect with what you shared! I've been married 21 years to a wonderful man. It's only been in the last 5 years that he was diagnosed with ADHD, but once we realized what it was, we started working on understanding it, and recovering from years of frustration.

this year has been rough. I lost my dad to kidney failure in December. Life was set aside and we as a family were in crisis mode for months surrounding this. Now it's summer, 7 months have gone by, and what a beating we've put our marriage thru. I think we both forgot everything we learned. 

I am a Christian too. Any words of encouragement or survival tips would be great! 





Finally figured it out - welltheresyourproblem

I was re-reading some old posts and found this one of "welltheresyourproblem" under "Finally figured it out."  It is worth reading again from the beginning. I copied parts of it to re-read again later.  This is where my thoughts are as well.  The ideas are explained so well.  My sanity depends on making these changes in my head also.  Acceptance, for me, means to not expect dh to be a cooperative equal partner.  My sanity hinges on me doing everything and not wanting change.   Having expectations of partnership and intimacy with dh has been making me crazy.  I am working on giving up those expectations.  He is JUST NOT ABLE or unwilling to be a cooperative partner.  The thing that baffles me is "Where did my courage guts and nerve go? Why have I permitted myself to be stuck like this?" 


From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your words. To have this insight from your point of view has made me realise that I have rightfully defended my partner all along. He has not been diagnosed with ADHD but displays all the 'symptoms'. We have been together for just over 3 years and at times it is amazingly wonderful and then other times I want to beat my head against the wall out if frustration. We often joke about his 'craziness' and his inability to be anywhere on time, although it does get hard to handle at times. Many others look at him as if he is psychotic or insane because he is all over the place and all at the same time, and he never stops talking..... I always say, that's my boy! People not only judge him, but judge me for being with him.Reading your words has taken all the frustration away and allowed me to reassess the situation from his point of view. I adore this man and his quirkiness, whether it is actually ADHD or not,. I am the one who needs to chill out and let him be who he is because I love who he is and he loves me. I truly cannot thank you enough for initiating a paradigm shift in me that may just save the most precious and rewarding relationship in my life. Thank you

To defeated

I am sorry you are going through this.  I have heard, "I'm working on it." for 40 years.  That phrase means to me now, "Stop talking. Let me be."  It really is frustrating when you know how good it COULD be between two people who are communicating and working TOGETHER.  I hear you.  You are not alone.  I hope you have friends and family to help you through.  We need family we can depend on.

Thank you jennalemon

It's nice to know I'm not alone- thank you. I admire you for hanging in for 40 yrs! Take away some of the ADHD and my husband can be wonderful. I have let him know that I understand that he doesn't mean to hurt me, that I do love him, and how wonderful he is. I have also let him know I'm so sick of feeling hurt, alone and feeling that I have to an "I don't need anyone attitude" to protect myself. That helped me survive when I was young it shouldn't be part of my marriage also. Now I am trying to rebuild myself and give him back his responsibilities. As for support we moved a few hours away from what I would call home a couple years ago. I admit I did not like him very much for taking me away from my support system. At first I drove "home" every weekend but then felt bad for leaving him out as he didn't want to go and the kids did. I have again decided that going "home" a couple times a month to see family and friends that I grew up with is something that I NEED. He is welcome to come with if he wants. Where we live now there is some support but I don't feel like I fit in very well so it's difficult. This week I made a trip to my best friend (from high school) house. The day before I had decided I need space of my own for when I'm hurt, sad and angry. Also I'm sick of not being touched or showed affection unless he wants something. So I asked that one of us move into the guest bedroom. Anyways, at my friends house I laughed and laughed at kids, my friend and I just being goofy and I felt like the old me instead of the angry resentful monster I've become. It felt so good! Going "home" helps me to remember who I was before I gave myself up to pick up pieces and become the angry-hurt person. Therapy will start again soon too. I realised I have never left him with the responsibility of his symptoms. I've done research and numerous college papers on ADHD but this is the first time he's learning for himself. Tonight I also realised part of my hurt is because I feel that I went above and beyond changing myself so many times (not always quietly) to make the marriage work, save him when the symptoms created issues, researching what might help, understanding, to ensure the kids didn't suffer too much.... Honestly that was all done for someone who didn't give much time or effort to me or our marriage because of untreated and undertreated ADHD. Ughh I could vent for hours about inequality when it came to anniversaries, bdays, or anything that should be celebrated! There is so much pain to work though but we'll see if the situation can change in a reasonable amount of time. Thanks again for your comment and helping me to vent!
Resigned2B's picture

Words of encouragement...

Dear Ann,

i don't know if you'll ever see this. I'm wondering how things are going now, three years later? 

When my husband and I first married I NEVER knew why he behaved this way. I decided it had to be me. If he REALLY loved me why would he be so inattentive? It took THIRTY years to find out why... Even though, together, two out of three of our birth children were diagnosis at age three and four, it never occurred to me that my husband was the donating DNA. I took responsibility for EVERYTHING. I have been drowning for all these years. Together we have six children all now adults.

Early on in our marriage I wrote my husband notes EVERY week day for close to two years. I told him if he wanted to keep getting things like this in the mail he would have to reciprocate at least a few times. Went he never did, I eventually stopped. I decided that his new fetish for rock climbing meant more to him that I EVER could...

It is JUST BARELY turning around now. A lot of resentment to let go of for enduring and sacrificing SO much in our lives. It is actually a full scale 'grieving process'. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even capable of getting past such a gigantic and lengthy loss of who or what I COULD have been. He tells me now just to leave him. I know he thinks he is being gallant but you can imagine what a rejection it feels like after THIS long.

Please update your status. Thank you for posting this!

Resigned2B's picture

So hurt and angry...

Dear Defeated,

The painful memories of my own relationship, having an ADHD spouse, two boys with it, and four other children, over the past THIRTY years, is frightening! I'm just logging in to tell you, and others who have posted, that I am SO sorry for the pain that you are going through! 

I have used the analogy of treading water in the ocean as my husband throws large rocks for my to hold on to and still swim. Each of the rocks has a name: unemployment, six children, laser focused on ANYTHING else, accumulation of messes left for me to clean up, unfilled tax returns, overdrawn check charges, huge projects left undone for years, deferred home maintenance, borrowing against our 401K WITHOUT me knowing it (this is a NEW rock just hurled at me a little over a week ago). All while he hides in 375+ pages of action novels (186 novels read in 26 months) and I'm still trying desperately to stay afloat.

Many a time have I sank to the bottom and still managed to rise to the top. I'm still not even sure why I try. Maybe, like you, I have too many years and children vested  into our relationship.  You are NOT alone!!! Good luck!

Spouse with ADHD

My husband also has ADHD. We've been married for 12 long years. I can't stand being around him. He always blames me for his issues such as losing his car keys, phone or wallet. I get tired of it. Last night I asked to used me car today and he called me selfish and I got so upset and hurt. He just recently started taking ADHD med but I don't see much difference. He's into he computer 24/7 and does web development. Soon as he comes home he constantly on his phone texting his friends back and forth. We used to hang out a lot and got along great but not anymore. Some how I always gets blamed for his issues and he's always right and not me. I had a job for over seven years that I recently quit to stay home with my two kids and go to school. He's never kept a job more than two years except when he was in the military. He thinks I do nothing around the house and he thinks he doesn't need to help out at home. I always clean up after my husband mess plus the kids. If he can't find something he'll tear apart the house till he finds it then leaves the mess cause somehow it's my fault. I get tired of it. We haven't slept together in over a year and I want to have a good relationship but I can't keep this up. Any advice with dealing with this would help. Thank You.

Resigned2B's picture


Dear After,

You have written on a thread that appears inactive. The chance of someone seeing it and responding would be low. Having said that, I just read it. You appear to be new to this site. Welcome.

If you look at my name in the corner it should appear in blue, Resigned2B. Press or click on it. That will take you to every post I've made here. That will help you understand my own background and why I'm taking this position.

I too, have been in it over thirty years. We now have six adult children. You're right, it never changes. How you react to it is the ONLY thing that changes. I know that puts all the burden on you. A burden you've likely carried with you for thirty years and you (rightly!) sound like you've had enough!

You are 49 and didn't say anything about having children You may feel like being 49 you are too old to leave. It is NOT too old to leave! Picture yourself saying all these same things when you are 59. THEN it really might be too late to start again. And instead of wasting thirty years it will be over forty! 

When you read my story please come back to the thread and ask me anything you'd like. Good luck to you!


Response from your writing of 9/25/2010

Hello Ann, I just joined the sight and read your advice from 9/25 2010. I would like to know how things are for you now, was it worth your effort and have things continued to stay good. I too have let things go etc... Didn't last more than six months. My husband is back to ignoring me for five or six days at a time and telling me he is too tired etc...( Why do I do this to him ), always focusing on himself instead of us as a couple. I liked what you had to say and would like to know more... I too pray for my husband and God knows I'm angry at him but sincerely want a more enriched marriage.
Resigned2B's picture


Dear Pragmatist​,

Please come back to the thread and let us know how your new found 'hope' works out for you...

Deborah__'s picture

To: Resigned2B

I surely do plan on keeping an eye on just about all I can gobble up here, and sharing what happens with us. The hope arrived when the mutual decision was made to separate. I know that trust is earned...not given. Love is given. I posted the whole thing on the forum under "Other"...Newly Separated. It'd mean a lot to me if you read that, as I've been posting almost all day on other threads. However, I've not had one comment on what it was that drew me to this site to begin with. Maybe if someone has a way to remove the tiredness from my hands...that'd be great. I have several serious health issues...all mentioned in what I'd posted under "Other". Any advice or information from you would be deeply appreciated. The "hope" was the separation...but not the end. I see it as a new beginning. Thank you so much for asking me back...that in itself was encouragement!
















Resigned2B's picture

To: Paragmistist and others...

I'm not sure I have responded to you. I saw your post again here as I was writing to someone else.

I have set up a special email if there are any who want to write me directly. It's one I can block if comments get abusive. Anyone one in need please feel free to use it. I'm not a professional but I have thirty years of experience!

baby4uandme @ icloud .com

Of course, run these together with no spaces when emailing!


Resigned2B's picture

Very Disheartened...

Dear Disheartened,

I have friends that are married to ADHD men that are angels. I'm hoping one of my sons meet people like them to marry. They seem to have a knack with their spouses that balance out the couple.

However, the only reason they're not writing to this site is because they don't know about it. I know their stories match many of the difficulties found here.

Melissa Orlov's book it written to help give hope to people in this type of relationship. On the side, she started this site so people struggling on each side of this issue can exchange ideas. The good news is that ADHD is not found in Heaven. So, if an eternal relationship interests you, the  wrenches of ADHD thrown into your life can be considered mere stumbling blocks of a brighter life as an eternal family.

Living happily with an ADHD spouse is an art. Like living with anyone who has a disability, it takes time, patience, understanding, a sense of humor and a degree in detective work to follow up on every word they tell you.  Apparently, it can be done. The question remains with you. Do you want to spend the rest of your life dealing with these kinds of patterns. Know too, that any children you may have together will likely have, either a full blown case, or milder symptoms. 

That's very important to understand. At that point, you will not only have your husband to deal with, but children who display the same bewilderment on how to get from point A to B.
You will be responsible for teaching those children coping skills for an illness you don't even understand yourself. 

There are many endearing qualities these people have. Please come back and let us know how you are doing. 

Good luck...

Thanks for your kind response

Thanks for your kind response.

I used to believe in eternal relationships, though recently I don't know whether I do anymore. As I was saying to another user on here, I would be willing to put up with many aspects of his ADD, tho I don't know whether I could cope with having a partner who ultimately doesn't make me feel loved at all. Surely this is not the case with all people having ADD, I hope? It is very unfortunate, but the descriptions on this website don't really depict people with ADD under a very positive light...maybe something should be done to encourage those people you mention (whose ADD partners are "angels") to get on here and post their own positive experiences.

It's not everyone!

Hi Xiongmao,

I support you to not over generalize and think that all relationships impacted by ADHD are disasters.  And to also realize that there are plenty of non-ADHD relationships that can be.

But I also want to suggest that you get to know your boyfriend very well before you make a strong commitment to a forever after.  It is really important to get to know him and all of his particular issues (as I would suggest to anyone getting into any serious relationship) so that you are honest with yourself about whether he is the right person for you.  ADHD does pose its interesting challenges.  It does often require more energy, more acceptance and more patience than the average relationship.  But everyone's ADHD is different from the next person's so it is impossible to know exactly how his will show up based on what you read on this forum.  You will have your own personal experience, and so I hope you will be open minded if this is someone you truly love.  You will want to make your own decision about what will work for you and what won't, and that should be your decision alone to make.

Resigned2B's picture


Run, do not walk, away from this relationship. You have now disclosed enough information for me to understand where this is headed. If you feel ignored now, and you're not even in a 'real' relationship and it's only been three months, you haven't seen ANYTHING yet!

The thread of ADHD behavior that involves going unnoticed by your partner isn't that they don't care about you anymore. It is that they laser focus on something else, ie, video games, rock climbing, hobbies, self- medication, etc.. It doesn't really matter WHAT it is because whatever it is, it is NOT you. And that NEVER feels good. Eventually you realize you are facing life's challenges along because he is so sidetracked.

I have spent thirty years if this and we have six children. He can be right next to me and be a million miles away. Though he can't manage to get our taxes and finances in order he HAS managed to read WELL over 300 action books (his latest obsession) in the last 30 months.

Between that and watching TV at the same time there is a wall a mile high saying: don't even think about talking to me or addressing any problem we have going on because I AM HIDING!!!

You, at three months, are not CLOSE to being invested in this relationship yet. You have a chance to choose your future. Think hard, because from what you just shared, you don't appear to want a future of living alone...


Resigned2B's picture


Wow! I've stayed for thirty years. I guess I must be a super wife... ;)

Here's a thought. Perhaps you could speak privately with his ex. My guess is she will tell you just what you already know. If the idea creeps into your mind that he would never treat you that way? Ignore it, he absolutely would!

My husband had a first wife. That marriage lasted five years and together, they have one daughter. When I heard his ex- wife's complaints I made the mistake of thinking it was related to her. After all she was nothing like me. I was wrong.

She complained to me about how rude it was for him to be so late in picking up her daughter for visitation. How their daughter was counting on him keeping his word. 
This is what I said: "Listen up. He does NOT play favorites with his children. He is constantly late for EVERY child he has. Why in the world should YOUR daughter get special treatment?"

She was well aware, after living with him five years, that I was echoing what she had experienced. She said nothing in retort. She knew he would hopelessly be forever the same way and that her daughter, like our children, just better get used to it.

They are all grown now. They have ALL gotten used to it. They love Jim dearly. If they want him to be on time to their wedding or some other special occasion, they know they MUST tell him the event starts at least an hour before it actually does.

My husband is a great guy with a loving heart. Perhaps that is why it is so hurtful when he doesn't come though for us...


Hehe, I guess you must be

Hehe, I guess you must be indeed. But, jokes aside, you really must be a very patient person if you have lasted this long, based on what he sounds like. 

Resigned2B's picture

To: X

'his ex is a guy, not a girl, and so am I =)'

Please don't think badly of me. I'm confused. Are all three of you men?



No worries, nothing wrong with asking. Yes we are. 

Be conscious of your choices

Hi Xiongmao,

Having reviewed what you said above, I would suggest that you be conscious of what you choose to do in this "relationship."  It sounds like your boyfriend, if I might call him that, is very much caught up in his ADHD symptoms, and if you are feeling like you are not getting his attention now, that is not a good sign.  What I find is that those who have ADHD have to be willing to manage their symptoms (which, in this case, would look like sharing "attend" time with their partner), be properly medicated, and own that there is something worth working on in the relationship.  In the absence of these things, it ends up feeling like an uphill battle to get their attention, and to really feel like the relationship is a two way street.

I wish you the best.

Hi Nancie,

Hi Nancie,


Many thanks for your message. Unfortunately the situation is a bit more complicated than I described. Is there any way I could pm or email you? That way I could tell you the whole story, if you would like to hear it, that is. Many thanks


Hello... Hope this reaches you

My boyfriend and I have been together on off for 4 years. The last two where solid until 2 weeks ago. In May he started changing and going to old habits. I brought them to his attention and inquired of any problems going on. His answer, as it is to most of my questions was "I don't know" . That is very frustrating to me. I pride my self in my patience but he has pushed me to the edge.  Recently our fights have become more heated, especially on my end. That is very unlike me. I'm the calm one he listens and try's to compromise or pick my battles. My friends husband has been going through a tough time and the other night she explained to me about how people with adhd have these problems. She said depression and anxiety. I remember my boyfriend telling me weeks before he had add but had it under control. I dismissed it. The next day, after speaking with my friend  I looked up adult adhd. I also found this website! Blessing! I bought the book "couples guide to thriving with adhd" it was like reading about our relationship. I now understand his way of thinking and behaving better. I see my mistakes and how I can learn to heal our relationship. Last night he broke up with me. Should I bring up this information to him now or give him some space first? I know he struggling and doesn't know what it is but now I know it's his unmanaged adhd. I don't want to disrespect him by telling him this. Please guide me in the best way to find a solution. I love who he is and I know with this new knowledge we can make things work! I don't want to lose him. I know we are a great team  and now knowing how to work with adhd I know we can be very happy together. I feel lost. 

Thank you 




I saw your message a couple of days ago. I am really sorry to hear about the problems you have had with your boyfriend. Unfortunately, for as much as I would love to help you, I really do not have that much experience with this. I have only known someone for ADHD for a few months, so you are likely to know much more about the topic than me. There are plenty of people on this forum who do have much experience and who will be able, I am sure, to help you.

Having said that, I do really empathise with you and how you feel. It too have experienced, if only for a short while, how frustrating it can be being emotionally involved with someone with ADHD. From my own personal point of view, I would wait to bring this up. Maybe give him some time first? I say this simply because I noticed some people with ADHD who do not fully accept their condition can be extremely sensitive about it and may take it quite personally if you blame the disorder. However, sooner or later the issue will have to be addressed. Denying it or neglecting his ADHD will certainly not make it go away. From what I have read, the best way to manage it is to face the problem directly. I really admire your determination, and I am happy you have found these resources. It really sounds like you care for him. In that case, if I was you, I would try all I can before giving up. This is only my opinion, which unfortunately I cannot really back up with any long term experience, but I hope it will help nonetheless.


I really wish you all the best.

dragonfly99's picture

Has your wife been diagnosed?

Has your wife been diagnosed? If she went to a psychiatrist would you go with her and talk to the doctor? Would you support her in therapy? Do you still love her? I ask these questions because I have all your wife's symptoms and have been married to a wonderful man for 22 years. I never in a million years suspected could have ADHD until my granddaughters were diagnosed and they act just like I did at their age. I wasn't diagnosed as a child because Back in the 1960s They didn't focus on girls. Iam going in on Monday to see if I am ADHD. I strongly suspect I am and if I am I will try medication because believe me I hate being this way. I feel so terrible, lost, I can no longer focus on anything. I was functioning fairly normal until I had a brain injury at 35. Things started to fall apart and I started to lose what little control I had. At 45 my dad died and I started going through menopause, then things just spiraled out of control. My house was not messy but it wasn't spotless. I am 55 now and I just can't function anymore. The house is a mess, but my husband has always been here for me. Never yelling or nagging. We do the cleaning together so I don't get overwhelm. He is going with me to give his input. Have you offered to go with her? After I read what you wrote I went in and burst into tears and told him I was sorry for ruining his life with my problem. I hugged him and he said, I loved you when you were better and I love you even if your worse because I took that vow. He said he would see too it I got diagnosed and treatment. I have been ignoring him for sometime and sex has been rare but he understands that I don't do this on purpose. Your wife needs help and support. I bet if you told her you would help her get treatment and support her but not tolerate using ADHD as an excuse, she would accept it and try hard to do better. But how can you expect change when she has no diagnosis and no treatment? She needs to be educated on it and so do you. Go to a ADHD support group with her and talk to actual people who have a diagnosis and they will be happy to help put you on the track to finding a doctor and support for both of you during treatment. I only made it through college because my husband supported me and pushed me to do better. Be her husband not her parent. My husband told me he gets frustrated but will never leave me. I was in an abusive marriage before him and what you sound like is my ex husband, sorry but that's just what I see when you use such harsh words about someone who has a very good chance of having a mental health condition. Yelling and cussing them only makes it worse. When you make them feel like they are worthless then they will act like it because that is what you make her feel like. Sorry but I've been there done that. Criticism only makes her angry and defensive. Take action and help her get a diagnosis and treatment, that includes therapy and support groups.
dragonfly99's picture

Is she diagnosed?

Has your wife been diagnosed? If she went to a psychiatrist would you go with her and talk to the doctor? Would you support her in therapy? Do you still love her? I ask these questions because I have all your wife's symptoms and have been married to a wonderful man for 22 years. I never in a million years suspected could have ADHD until my granddaughters were diagnosed and they act just like I did at their age. I wasn't diagnosed as a child because Back in the 1960s They didn't focus on girls. Iam going in on Monday to see if I am ADHD. I strongly suspect I am and if I am I will try medication because believe me I hate being this way. I feel so terrible, lost, I can no longer focus on anything. I was functioning fairly normal until I had a brain injury at 35. Things started to fall apart and I started to lose what little control I had. At 45 my dad died and I started going through menopause, then things just spiraled out of control. My house was not messy but it wasn't spotless. I am 55 now and I just can't function anymore. The house is a mess, but my husband has always been here for me. Never yelling or nagging. We do the cleaning together so I don't get overwhelm. He is going with me to give his input. Have you offered to go with her? After I read what you wrote I went in and burst into tears and told him I was sorry for ruining his life with my problem. I hugged him and he said, I loved you when you were better and I love you even if your worse because I took that vow. He said he would see too it I got diagnosed and treatment. I have been ignoring him for sometime and sex has been rare but he understands that I don't do this on purpose. Your wife needs help and support. I bet if you told her you would help her get treatment and support her but not tolerate using ADHD as an excuse, she would accept it and try hard to do better. But how can you expect change when she has no diagnosis and no treatment? She needs to be educated on it and so do you. Go to a ADHD support group with her and talk to actual people who have a diagnosis and they will be happy to help put you on the track to finding a doctor and support for both of you during treatment. I only made it through college because my husband supported me and pushed me to do better. Be her husband not her parent. My husband told me he gets frustrated but will never leave me. I was in an abusive marriage before him and what you sound like is my ex husband, sorry but that's just what I see when you use such harsh words about someone who has a very good chance of having a mental health condition. Yelling and cussing them only makes it worse. When you make them feel like they are worthless then they will act like it because that is what you make her feel like. Sorry but I've been there done that. Criticism only makes her angry and defensive. Take action and help her get a diagnosis and treatment, that includes therapy and support groups. ADHD tends to run in families so maybe your kids need to be seen also. 3 of mine have it and several of my grandkids have been diagnosed. Don't lose hope. editreply

And to top it all off - I am

And to top it all off - I am told by "him" that I have high standards.  Can I just ask - if I have high standards living like this?? What is everyone else getting out of life? 

Resigned2B's picture

Top it all off...

ADHDers believe THIS is what a normal relationship/lifestyle is like. They are flat out wrong. Many/most simply don't possess the capacity to know better.

My husband, the CPA, CEO after committing several huge financial infidelities, will NOT put together a financial plan to help us out of this. I took over the checkbook a year ago. He's had 52 weeks to present a plan. Last night? "I need 2 more weeks..." REALLY??? What's changed that the past 52 weeks just wasn't long enough? We're 60. Just HOW much longer is reasonable to wait? When we're under a viaduct?

it NEVER changes. It just takes on different excuse...



With incredulity and shock, (yes I'm still shocked) I simply won't to punch a boxing bag to oblivion.  Reasonable???  Trust me these so-called conversations, discussions, full on fights of a disgusting level are definitely quite the reasonable response to the fact that I do not matter.  He is not capable of me ever mattering. I've got reasonable - I know what reasonable is.  HE is not reasonable.  Couldn't get close to being reasonable - because NO ONE matters but him.  I'm sick of hearing how I'm not reasonable aka How I don't matter.  How much more pathetic could a person be to not care about anyone else but themselves?

Resigned2B's picture

Knowing for sure...

I've been at this now for over 31 years. You're right. It never ends. If you have kids with it they're issues never end either. You just simply pass the baton to some poor, unsuspecting victim... :(

To Knowing For Sure...

Those are some big realizations I have had.  Serious. And deep. He will never be able to come to me and tell me "I get it."  He will never get it.  But I get it enough for both of us. I agree.  The kids issues will never end either.  And he will hide behind the children.  The cycle of this "pathetic" life.  What is there to hope for?  What is there to even want out of this life?  He says I get overwhelmed.  Like it's me - I caused this. I'm just going through a phase. He's right on some level. I'm an enabler.  I allow him to treat me this way because I simply, for right now, don't value myself enough. 

Resigned2B's picture

Knowing for sure...

Please read some of my past posts. It is NOT you. The ADHD level in your home is making you 'feel' like you're losing your mind. Those with ADHD actually believe this is how most people run their lives and relationships.


It is for this reason ADD/ADHD is covered under the Americans with DISABILITIES Act! Unfortunately, those of us who have to put up with this mess of 'magical thinking' are NOT covered!!!

You are likely not a nag nor are you over reacting. You are simply in SHOCK and OUTRAGED that you are taking care of people you love, maybe even gave birth to. They look normal enough but, in fact, are incapable of clear and reasonable thinking.

BTW, most nonADHDers tend to try desperately to pick up the slack where their spouses/children are clueless. This is why you feel like you are enabling. In truth, you are trying to survive the real world. One THEY don't live in!!!

If there is a way to get your spouse to go to an ADHD coach you might have a chance working together. Usually the ADHDer has to be at the bottom of the barrel to realize their skewed thinking needs help and professional intervention.

Thank you Resigned2B.  These

Thank you Resigned2B.  These forums really can help.  I am in shock and in utter disbelief.  And I am having a very hard time with the bigger realizations that keep coming to me.  It's almost like having a baby and then finding out that baby will never walk. I'm angry.  I'm sad. I'm scared. I'm hurt.  It's a grieving process for the marriage I will never have.  And I keep asking myself "What did I do to deserve this?"  Where did I go wrong?  Why me?  And then I feel guilty.  I have so much in life to be thankful for and I certainly have survived worse things in my life.

What is an ADHD Coach?  How do you find one?  Thanks again!

Resigned2B's picture

Thank You...

It breaks my heart to hear you. There are some who have the disposition to make these relationships work. I'm clearly not one of them but I've spent 31 years and six children trying. Now, at 60, with no retirement,  I'm just waiting for death.


I can see that you're fairly new to this forum. Melissa Orlov offers a number of seminars across the country to help those married to ADD/ADHD. She has many resources. You can also do a search on CHADD. There's likely a chapter near you. They offer different types support groups for people in your area. They should have a list of doctors and those who specialize in ADHD coaching. It helps the patient understand new coping techniques and modified behavioral therapy. 

I've begged my husband to go for a year now. He won't do it. I guess I'm not worth it to him. I'm a former model, flight attendant, well educated, beautiful, organized, supportive, dedicated, and I guess, the world's biggest sucker. I ask myself the same question. What could I have done to deserve this? How could I have handled it better all these years to have been a more effective wife and mother? The answer is -- not ONE thing. There's no pill YOU can take that will change the 'magical thinking' that goes on inside the mind of an ADHDer.

The experts tell you not to take it personally. Really? I DARE them to be THIS dismissed, constantly, and then NOT take it personally...


Dear ThomsonR, My husband and

Dear ThomsonR, My husband and aunt are ADHD, my father and other aunt are Bi-polar. Every case is different, in different ways and I am not a doctor, or an expert by any means, but the major themes that you are describing remind me more of Bi-polar than ADHD. It can be hard to decipher, as they can both effect family in similar ways, but the hoarding, the anger, the intense highs associated with spending money...this screams bi-polar to me. You may be able to function with an untreated ADHD case, but someone with Bi-polar needs to be treated otherwise it can get worse, much much worse. Sincerely, TravelBug


I wish I had answers for you. I'm living the exact same life, tho he is my partner. We are not legally married. we've been together for 9 years now and we agreed a marriage license was not a necessity. He & I don't have children. But he has 3 of his ex-girlfriends kids that he has claim to, of sorts. He has none of his own. And mine are fully grown & live in another state. 

He hid his ADHD for a long time but I'd say in the last 2 yrs., we've discivered thru therapy that he has it. But that isn't the only problem. Since last year when I had heart surgery I've discovered he was cheating on me. The 1st time, he paid for it, so he claimed it wasn't actual cheating. Now this year, it's with a fellow worker at hisa company that he's known a long time & I knew that also. But before, this shenanigans was not going on. (I don't think ?)

He is anatural born flirt, so I've let a lot of it go. Until now. I caught him at cheating because there were too many signs of it and I had to somehow get into his phone which he keeps attached to him everywhere he goes. Plus, all of technical stuff all has passwords that I don't know.  But one night I found his phone (in our bed ) Where he usually leaves it at night, but he must've fallen asleep before he locked it, so I got int it. He was to be getting up soon so Ihad to rush to see anything.And get to put it back before he woke up or I would've seen more !!

Well, what I did see was not pretty. It hurts more than standing on a pack of nails that are on fire !! And then more !!!  Texting, pictures, lovey-dovey stuff. You know how it goes.  I am sick and he refuses to cut itoff with her as I ask him to.Why ? No idea for sure. I mean, as faras I know he's gone with her, she must be still texting him at least. He said he's ignoring her and she hasn't contacted him ? I think it's Bullahit. I wish so badly that I could get back into his phone or his  computer !!  I want to go and tell her off because I do know where she lives and her phone number & name. Not much else tho. Except for job which I could screw her up on too, if I wanted to. But that would only hurt me because my guy wousd freak out over it.

He's naping right now cause he has a therapy appt. soon. So he came home early from work. Then after therapy, he has work again at amother place ? Or so he says. Cause I don't see another aycheck coming in. Unless he's been hiding it. Like some other things I notice missing.

Here's my problem though. I love him and I'm already in my 60's and have disabilities. I thought he was going to be my end of the line guy. I hated dating. I don't want to back to doing that. Got a lot of young guys who ust wanted easy sex, so they contacted me. Nothing to be serious about, I don't want that. I want the guy I have now. He is a little younger by 4 yrs. but that's not much.


He's complaining about my disabilities cause most of the women that were in his ife before also had disabilities and eventually died.  So that's what he sees happening to me too. And worried when he goes out I won't be there for him. What an ass. There are so many ways to compwnsate for things I suffer from, which he knew he day I met him because I told him I had stuff wrong & the meds I took. But now he's got stuff wrong & takes meds. So because he's getting to  be 60 soon, he's freakin' out !!  I'm going to die on him. Then he'll have nobody to drive him anywhere r take care ofhim.  That's the excuse he's giving me. Well damn it, what about his kids ? Stupid excuses as usual. I guess that's what the ADHD does to hisbrain. Or maybe he's just using an excuse overall ?

He's been pulling some very irresponsible things lately too. Like going out without me because I don't like how he fidgets in the car so he drives alone. Then he stays out late or doesn't come home til the next day & feels that nothing is wrong with that ? There's so much more, I'd need a book to write it all down. But you deserve a break. Just thought I'd let ya know that your not at all alone. You have all of my sympathies. God Bless.


Thank you for giving me some hope..

Thanks Ann for giving me some insight on handling an ADHD mate. I can see how most of this would work. I am not an extremely openly affectionate person, tho at times I can be. When we first met, he was so all over me I couldn't stand it. I was so used to being and doing things for myself. He was a bit annoying....But very sweet now that I think of it.  I wish we had that part of our relationship back.  Gosh, it was so good !! He tries very hard. But this thing with his flirting and feeling so involved with people dying drives me crazy. I can manage his flirting aas ong as that stays to all it is, but he had cheated on me more than once and it is killing me. I don't think he's gone really far with any of it, but I did see some of their text messages and thought I would die !!  I love him so dearly. We've been together for 9 yrs. now and believe me, he is my last one. I will not date again or even look. I was about to give up when he found me online. THe 1st time he did it to me, I was hospitalized after having heart bypass surgery. I guess it scared him pretty badly. He's had a bad experience with the women in his life for a long time. Mom went young. Plus was paralyzed since soon after giving birth to him. Might be some self blame in there somewhere ? His grandparents went soon after too. So he was responsible for all their care by himself cause no family helped him. Little chance to live his life be cause of all of this. Plus, he had no idea he had ADHD then.  His mom made sure however, that he did lots of things himself at least. And he traveled a lot cause family took him places where they vacationed or lived. Like Puerto Rico n' stuff. He also traveled on his own. Went to visit friends who moved to Nevada, and saw many, many places. Went to concerts a lot, College in Maryland. Worked at a TV station for awhile. And actually managed to get married at some point, but it only lasted a year & he was dumped. (Cheated on many times first tho )  Also, his Dad left his mother in the wheelchair. Even tho he stayed with her for 15 years first. Tough life. Only child, etc..Now he's trying to deal with ADHD. I feel so bad for him. He does well with a lot of things himself. He's managed to keep a job he never wanted, but had to take to get benefits for the kids his one g/f brought into their lives. He has none of his own. He's still there, but would much rather be working in the field he studied for. (Film)  I believe he was great at it. All those TV screens in front of him seemed to keep him happy. But he had to leave it because of his situation and he couldn't leave his Mom. I wish he could go back to it, but he's 59. Who would hire him now ? Plus, things are run all differently now & he'd have to re-learn everything.

I'm trying to react & talk to him in the right ways....All while discovering these "cheating: episodes.It ain't easy. But I sure want to try my best. Your letter has enlightened me a bit, so I thank you. I hope you can take it as long as you need to. I'm a very willing partner to stick it out with him. I just can't handle this "cheating !! I asked him to cut her off instantly and all he said was that he was ignoring her if she sent him anything. No calls, etc. Of course, I don't know how much of that is the truth though. So my brain is torturing me. He doesn't give me answers I ask for. He said he can't. Maybe because he figures it's only going to mke me feel worse because I think he knows I didn't get very far in my discoveries of what they were doing or saying. He empties his phone & computer pretty regularly.  And I didn't get a hold of his phone right away. It was just a fluke one night when he fell asleep before locking it. And I saw it laying in our bed, like where it usually is each night.Yeah, because he was likely saying all of his lovey-dovey stuff while he was falling asleep. I know he called her in the mornings too cause I overheard him saying "Good Morning" to her rather happily one day. Of course he lied to try covering himself up. Tried to convince me it was on the TV. Rewound the TV but it never came up and I said so. But then he just dropped it. I also caught him smiling very strongly while on his computer in the morning which is something he's never done before. Usually in the a.m.'s he's in a lot of pan & is stretching something, not looking too happy at all. Why all the lies ? Why can't he be honest with me and stop hiding things from me ? How or will I ever be able to get him to share more of his life with me ? Also things like bank accounts n' stuff that wives generally see all the time. I don't even know how much he keeps in the basnk, tho I offer my info to him all the time. WE share the expenses, so why not the info to go with it. Mine are all exposed if he wants to see it. I don't lock anything. Why does he need to lock stuff all the time now. I don't think he did it earlier in our relationship.  It must be the "cheating" and "flirting" thing going on.  I don't do that.  But he has many female friends who I know he calls sweetheart n' the like, so it isn't at all unusual for me to overhear that being used. Or hear him saying I love you to them either.  Some of them text him constantly. But I have to ignore it all because THEY are JUST old friends. Ha. I wonder.  OMG, I am hurting so badly !!  Thanks for listening. I know I can rant.

I am you from back in 2010...

I'm now exactly in the position you described in your post from back in 2010. What ever came of this? What did you do? I'm struggling to determine what actions to take to save my marriage. I'm taking Adderall but she says things are worse now!

I'm also married but single

I'm also married but a single parent, my spouse has ADD but can't seem to get around to trying meds. I have settled on the reality that I'll be doing all the work and raising the kids with very little support. Your post mirrors my thoughts and sentiments almost word for word. I wonder how well you are holding on? Some days I don't see how to face another day of this, but of course, I have to, I just do it. Sad to have this in common with everyone here but this site is a safe haven and I am glad I've found it. 

Hi Squirrel...

I like ur post...It's short and right to the point (reality) of how it is....If I could suggest a few things to encourage you, that I didn't learn early on...Are things like....

Acceptance...(acceptance doesn't mean you agree, it just allows you to be constructive in the reality of your life with him) This can really help you with staying at peace in your own spirit....There is nothing worse than being forced to do most all of the work in the marriage and being angry and miserable because we can't change another adult...Happy and tired??...Or Miserable and tired??

Acceptance will also allow you to calmly set down and think clearly what kind of boundaries you must set up to protect yourself and your children from his non-participation....It will allow you to separate your responsibilities from the one's he may be forsaking....You will never ever be responsible for the things a Father and Husband only can and should do...So don't let yourself cross that line (never enable or carry another adult, it will destroy you, and make an invalid out of them) or carry any guilt concerning it...This will also help you stay aware of the things as a wife and mother that you know are your responsibilities....

Never expect things to not go undone...When someone refuses (the reason don't matter) to take part in the mundane things a day is full of, things will go undone, it's a fact of life, so accept that, and don't allow yourself to carry guilt for what isn't completed as you think it should be.....If you don't schedule some self care time for yourself you probably want have any...So take care of yourself!

Don't bite off more than you can chew in activities for the family...Keep your life small and peaceful....Don't make plans like there is two responsible adults at work....Never assume he will change or hope he will remember etc etc...I promise you this, IF there is any real long term change for the better....You will be the first to know.....

ADD is a problem, but, the killer is the denial of it...People w/ adhd who aren't offended by their reality and deals openly with it can learn how to thrive and be responsible...But it's not up to you...It's up to him, never forget that....So just live in the reality of your life, and try to stay thankful for you many blessings....


Resigned2B's picture

There is hope...

It is HUGE that you can see what's happening. When you can acknowledge it to your hubby and be contrite in trying to change with the help of an ADHD coach along with meds you still have a shot.

Melissa Orlov's book it written to help give hope to people in this type of relationship. On the side, she started this site so people struggling on each side of this issue can exchange ideas. The good news is that ADHD is not found in Heaven. So, if an eternal relationship interests you, the  wrenches of ADHD thrown into your life can be considered mere stumbling blocks of a brighter life as an eternal family.

Living happily with an ADHD spouse is an art. Like living with anyone who has a disability, it takes time, patience, understanding, a sense of humor and a degree in detective work to follow up on every word they tell you.  Apparently, it can be done. The question remains with you. Do you want to spend the rest of your life dealing with these kinds of patterns. Know too, that any children you may have together will likely have, either a full blown case, or milder symptoms.

As long as both of you understand this you have a chance of learning coping skills to help you.

I’d  like to leave you with this story:

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

"One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith and forgiveness."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The wise grandfather answered, "The one you feed,"

UPDATE: 12/13/17 There might be hope but it is unlikely it’s in staying married to an ADHDer. My life is over with him. He thinks he can do better with someone else. He, unemployed, wants a divorce now. Life’s a bit#$

re: Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

My ADD partner genuinely encourages my interest in outside activities; i.e., theater. Great ....until I return last night, excited with a couple of project in which I may play a key role. I took take off my coat and within five seconds, we are talking about the TV programme he watched. Nothing about my evening; his capacity to turn a topic from me to him is phenomenal! This morning, I sat down over coffee to "try again" . NO DICE! We spent 30 minutes on his mortgage woes and then, whoops, it's time for him to go to work. A great morning turned into an almost argument, and an all too familiar one at that. I am alert, interested, respond, ask questions and engage with his situation, any of his situations. Why his family doesn't understand him, why his marriages failed, why this, why that. Nothing about last night, nothing about me, my excitements. "Well, I am ADD and that is just the way I am!" He says, "I listen when you talk". Yes, but here's the rub: he doesen't ask questions. He listens, but I don't get the feeling he engages with me. He remembers ...oh, yes, ...when the subject is about him, rarely when it is about me. Oddly enough, he is great guy, he is a big bear of a love and when we treat each other as friends, we are at our best. Our sex life is ... iffy. We snuggle fine; intimacies is rare, brief and I have to take the lead in virtually every circumstance. Once I was wooed and won (like life on a differnt planet), I was ... always there. What am I, wallpaper? And darn it, I found out he had ADD, I encouraged meds, I encouraged and am a positive voice in our couples ADD group. I am patient with side effects as they kick in (Adderall doesn't seem to be working, and I will work with his moods until Rx is rectified) I support, I support, I support. THE PLUS SIDE: I do enjoy ande always express my gratitude for his great meals from a fabulous chef, a wonderful home (which I clean and tidy), a beautiful garden creatively designed (which I weed and rake). Please ... is there hope that one day, some fine one day, he will support me as much as I support him? "At the Crossroads in Denver"

re: Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

I can't believe what I am reading. I am married 3 years to an ADD male. It is my first marriage his 3rd... We had a wonderful courtship, attentiveness, great sex, kindness and consideration) , But it as soon as the wedding ring went all..all bets were off. It got to a point when I told my husband I felt like I got the "bait and switch" .. Truthfully I don'tknow if I every would have fallen in love let alone marry this man as he is now. The worst part of all of this is that HE cannot or refuses to acknowledge the ADD. Yes he went to a Dr. after I wept for days.. but he won't take the meds... ( I can live with that) but he refuses to take any responsibility in learning to develop skills. He is so defensive.. I can't say anything without causing a "tantrum" He is 55 yrs old but sometimes I feel as though he is 5. I am contemplating divorce. We have not had sex in over 2 yrs. and he doesn't even address that except to say " I don't know ' I try to communicate My skill are good in that dept. but they are wasted if he won't get his head out of the computer or the TV. His take on all this is that I am unhappy but he doesn't know why and that it is my problem. I even asked him to speak to my therapist just to understand the ADD but he basically told her he doesn't have it, nor wants anyone to change him and that I should learn how to deal with him. (Its ok for me to have basically altered my personality etc. His mo is that if he doesn't talk or think about it..then it doesn't exist. So how do I deal with that???

re: Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

As the partner with ADD I can identify your husband. Maybe I can give some insight as well. There are times when I resent the demand on my attention by my spouse. Especially when I just come home from work. I need the time to unwind from a long day of constant stimulation by the demands of my job. I am a hearing aid tech in a very busy audiology clinic. It is fast paced and there are constant distractions and interruptions. By the time I leave I am so overloaded that I'm about to shut down internally. I need space and time alone to decompensate so I can get to the point where I can begin to pay attention to my husband. Over the 17 years we've been married he's eventually realized this and will let me be. He occasionally gripes about it but, on his side, he needs to vent. I no longer get upset when he does this. He's loves me just the way I am and I'm a very lucky woman.

re: Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

I feel completely ignored since my boyfriend has discovered online poker. He will sit and play this for hours on end leaving me to have to entertain myself at night mostly. I most often go to bed alone. I miss his company and the companionship. I've tried to discuss it several times but it just starts arguments. He accuses me of being controlling when I get upset about it. Once he even threatened to leave me. So now I just keep my mouth shut. He claims it is how he winds down and relaxes. The funny thing is he didn't wind down like this before or until recently. I could see playing a game or two but he will play continously and I am left alone. It is really depressing me and I feel ignored or as if there is something wrong with me not to mention being lonely. I miss laying in bed at night and watching Southpark or something together. We talked and laughed. Now I go to be lonely and hurt while he sits at his computer until midnight or so. I've even tried to stay up later on some nights to meet him halfway but he won't budge. I work a 24 on 48 off schedule so it's not like he can't play it at all. He's got 24 hrs to play and he plays trust me. All I ask for is some time at night which he will begrudgingly give me about once a week. I really miss him and the time we used to spend in the evenings.

re: Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

Man, I wish I was more aware of how I was and how damaged my marriage was before my wife made her mind up to divorce me, and this article and the next one "ADHD and Household Chores" seem to perfectly describe the very same reasons she gave up on me six weeks ago. Unfortunately, apparently she told her girlfriends that I had a year to shape up or she was leaving...but never gave me any indication of my 'probation' and now the marriage is irretrievably doomed. However, besides medication and simply 'talking' to my psychiatrist, I am still in the same condition I was when she left (and I'm now trying to overcome depression as well) and I still don't feel like I have the tools to overcome my stupid mind.

re: Feeling Ignored - The Non-ADHD Spouse Dilemna

It's amazing how misunderstanding combined with miscommunication can create such a negative spiral of destructive behavior in a relationship. It's two fold destruction. Whatever I direct outward toward my spouse is magnified inside myself. There is a great CD set by Marshall Rosenberg called "Non-violent Communication" that teaches the non-judgemental communication skills you are talking about in a crash course style. If you are not familiar with his work, it is definately worth exploring. The CD set is available through SoundsTrue.com. I've been actively working on emotional healing for about 30 years. It is one of the most helpful teachings I have heard to date on communication. Peace.

Feel ignored, and Overworked

I know I'm responding to a 3 year old comment, but it sounded strikilingly similiar to my current situation.  I often feel that what I have to say means nothing, sometimes, I overtalk my partner just to be heard.  Recently I started to say - "Please focus, I'm trying to tell you something". 

I have gotten to the point where I do not talk about my day.  I try, but somehow my partner is able to divert the entire conversation onto her.  I can't stand it. I might get a couple sentences out, and that will be all - the conversation is focused on her. 

It's interesting, there are alot of things my partner would like to do, and there is very little attention to what I would like to do - what we could do together.  But I find myself going out of my way to gather the funds to do what she wants and sacrifice my own wants and needs.  

Are there any suggestions out there about how to survive with an ADHD spouse without sacrificing yourself or doing all of the comprimising?  She will literally TAKE time from us to go and relax.  She was sick and went to stay at her sisters because it was more relaxing there.  When do I get that?  Is there a safe place for us non ADHD spouses/partners to land with both feet on the ground without developing some sort of anxiety or stress disorder? 

Well, you have come to this

Well, you have come to this web site.  That's a start!  I feel this is a safe place for us and a great place to voice our concerns and to learn about this horrid disorder.

well this site is a start..

well this site is a start.. if you hear of anything else I'd be open to knowing about it.. I know everyone means well but when you have a disorder you need to look at it straight on and  realize that there is  a difference to the way they act or handle things. I'm sure its hard to feel you have a disorder and want to go about things just as anyone else and live with it themselves.. but we live with it too being non ADD spouses. My husband has a huge amount of love for me and wants nothing but the best .. when we don't get along or I share my feelings he always feels attacked and that is extremely hard for me when i'm just trying to make some understanding out of all this.. good luck.. this site is very therapeautic for me!

Thank you for responding.  I

Thank you for responding.  I really hope this can put some perspective on things.  I think the other part of the problem I'm having is, I'm also a socialworker, so everyone around me expects me to be "above" all of this.  The fact of the matter is, I am human and I'm doing exactly what I tell my clients.  I'm finding help and figuring out how to deal with this.  EDUCATION IS POWER.  However, my knowledge can get in the way when I see her family enable her.  I know that is what they are doing and become frustrated!  I suppose that is a whole other topic.  

When you wrote that you can't express your feelings without your husband feeling attacked - i get that all of the time!  Sometimes, it's like what I had to say goes in one ear and out of the other because nothing changes.  An irritating habit she is sometimes when I am expressing myself, she will look at me and smirk.  When I tell her that I find that offensive, she will tell me if she doesn't laugh she will "go off". I know she does not take her medication as she should.  I'm all too familiar with highs and lows.  But how do I make sure she is without making her "feel like a child"? 

I appreciate the support it seems I will get on here.  Not only do I hope this helps my relationship, but I now have first hand knowledge to hopefully also help others. 


Well my husband is amazing

Well my husband is amazing but for sure defensive and very sensitive, although he would rarely admit that. I get that smirk too and I feel like my feelings are not really taken seriously. Education is definately power and how can you grow and respect one another to the fullest without understanding fully what they are going through or how they are feeling. We tried counseling, only for him to stop going, I tried speaking with one of his family members and just told to brush it off and that what he says he doens't mean. I just get tired of living in the negative space that follows the behavior and at times it is inexcusable no matter what the cirumstance is! I've never really experienced frustration with communicating with anyone before, previously being a teacher as well, although I do immensely here. I know what you mean about not wanting to make her feel like a child, sometimes it just seems to feel like that is who you are dealing with. So how do you communicate with her effectively? I could sure use some tips. I tried giving space, only to have the blow up of an argument ignored and for days to even a whole week. It is so stressful and hard on the heart. I would never mean to attack someone just find our differences, we don't all ever see things the same way, and to communicate in a loving, empathetic way. It just seems like i'm dreaming for the impossible. Who knows. Is she interested in seeing this website? I wish you luck. Its nice to talk with someone sharing some similarities in their relationship. I know we all want the best, them included.. it just sometimes feels like the complete opposite sometimes

You also mentioned before

You also mentioned before feeling like your needs aren't met, or even being able to do something together that you enjoy.. I totally know that feeling 100%. It feels like we don't matter and are giving and trying waay harder at this relationship then one would have to, not to mention giving and giving and the person on the other end not doing quite that at all. do you guys have kids?

Broken Husband - Wife is Tired

My wife sent me this link about a week ago, we are approaching our 20th year in the next few days. Wow - I have full blown ADHD! We have two beautiful daughters one of which does have ADD. I've always known I've been "over-active" or had obsessions with things out side the home. I also never understood how my wife would tell me I didn't love her or didn't put her first. Just because I was so involved in many other things didn't make me not love her. I'm learning now that I just didn't get it. In fact my depression and guilt over it has lead to me being on Zoloft and Xanix and having to take sleeping pills to get any sleep. I hate that I have hurt her. I'm in counseling now and it is starting to help.

What I'm really hurting with is she is not sure she has the energy to work on our relationship. I want nothing more then to fix this, I know it could be one of my ADHD obsessions doing the talking but I've also read that sometimes in life these ADHD moments are good things. I'm confident we can put processes in place to help with the home life, bill paying, and just being more alert to hers and the kids needs.

Yesterday we had our first really good conversation since this all went down, I've been a real ass the last week with my obsession on trying to fix the mariage. I'm doing much better with that and have been able to give her space.

The other challenge we have is she shows signs of being codependent in our relationship. I think this adds an extra level of intensity when my ADHD is in full throttle.

I'm certain neither one of us want to lose the 20 years we have together, I'd be anxious to hear some thoughts on how we can go about rebuilding our relationship. 


P.S. I should have said the blog post 100% describes our situation.

I haven't been on in here in

I haven't been on in here in a bit.  First to Kenya - My partner has a son who is now grown.  We do not have any other children. 

Robinshusband - writing as the Nonadhd Partner it's the understanding you need to have for how much work your wife thinks she is about to put in and understand it's a transition for her too.  My partner doesn't quite understand either, cause now that we know, it should be easy right? It isn't.  I grow tired of the reminders, of decisions that are made that seem more difficult then they need to be.  Lists that do not get done, etc etc.  It's feeling like we do it all.  After so much, the bad can outweigh the good.  She is also double whammied, you mentioned you have a daughter who has it.  While the way I said this sounds horrible, it's potentially how she is feeling. 

But there is hope, and it will take work for both of you.  Now that you both know, it's like you have to rebuild trust and belief in one another again.  You have to fall in love again.  There is not an easy answer to your question and how we rebuild will look different. 

I would recommend that your wife get a copy of "Living with ADD When You're Not the One Who Has It" by Mimi Handlin, MSW (There are no other books of it's kind) and "Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself", "The New Codependency", and "Codependent No More: Beyond Codependency" all by Melanie Beattie.  They are all essential and have helped me as the the Non ADHD Partner.  We become so involved in taking over and taking care of things, the codependcy you're seeing isn't surprising.  It will take strength and work on her part, to let go and allow to "handle your own buisness" regardless of consequence. Theses book, being in counseling with you and this website can help her, and help you.

I hope this was somewhat helpful for you.  I have not given up on my relationship, and I hope this provides hope for your wife to not give up as well. 

My best to you!

Thanks, I hope it is not too


I hope it is not too late, we did agree I needed to move out 2 weeks ago so she could have space, at that time I was unaware of my ADHD until a week ago. I've been so obsessed with trying to convince her I can get help (I've had two therapy sessions) that I can't leave her alone. I'm doing the exact opposite of what she wants as all she is asking for is for me to give her space and time.

We've had a couple of good talks the last few days but they end-up back at her not knowing if she has the energy to do this and her needing time and space, which I can't seem to give. She insists that she needs to find herself before she can think about us. As you can imagine that is very hard for someone with ADHD to not hyperfocus on trying to get her to make a decision. All I seem to be able to do is reinforce my ADHD with her and it drives her away.


Hang in there... Offer her

Hang in there... Offer her the books, give her the space.  Then show her your changes through action.  I don't know your situation, but I do not think it's too late.  This could be good for both of you.  Change your hyperfocus from trying to convince her through words, to trying to convince her through action. Continue your counseling, recognize your triggers, and just do it. 

My partner has gone back to school and researched study methods so she can complete her degree.  I have not had to prompt her to study or complete homework.  This has made a bigger impact on me then anything she could've said.  In the past, she just did not follow through cause her attention was so distracted. It cost us some money.  This time has been different.  I tell you this to give you some hope as to how action can help you. 

I also have had to step back and watch how I say things.  It's hard to do.  But there are alot of exercises on this site that help.  It helps to come here to this group and vent.  To know others are out there feeling the same way and getting ideas on how to get through really helps.  For a long time, i felt alone and like a monster b/c i was such a nag. But to be here and hear other stories is a tremendous help. It gave me hope that my relationship was worth saving.   

The agreement we came up with, is that we would both work on ourselves individually and where that leads us will be.  Not having the pressure to commit either way and accepting that both of us have been hurt in someway by the ADHD,  has made it easier to accept the changes.  It also gave us the freedom to get to know one another again.  Maybe something similiar can work for you two. 

Feel free to write anytime.  I wish you the best!

Ignored by wife

I have found that the comments of Bea-nonadhd are not only reflective of my own situation, but your suggestions are giving me some hope. 

My wife is the one with ADD and I am at my wits end in terms of communicating with her.  We seem to communicate great about ideas, dreams and our kids, but the minute we talk about our relationship, feelings or finances, she become a different person.  In addition, I feel like I get less than 1% of her attention, and any time together (talking or intimate) must be initiated by me.  I am tired of being the one to hope and attempt to get on-on-one time with her.

I don't wear my emotions on my sleeve, but when I do express them, she simply cannot seem to ask me any questions or give me any feedback/reaction - it is like talking to a brick wall.  More often than not, she jumps directly to a solution to "my problem" or becomes critical of me.  She has told me flat out that she is not the type of person who asks questions or engages in emotional discussions - she can only think of solutions.  She also reads into what I am saying so that my words somehow are an attack on her.  I have tried dozens of times to illicit a healthy back and forth response from her, but to absolutely no avail.

I feel like I need to be able to connect with her on this emotional level for our relationship to feel "real" to me, but she seems to be fine not talking about these issues at all.  In fact she believes the entire problem is mine (and mine alone).  I don't know if I can remain in a relationship that seems one-sided.

I will order the books you are suggesting, but what is your advice on how to come with grips with an ADD wife that I cannot approach emotionally?

Good Question

And I don't know that I have a good answer.  From what I'm learning, as you begin to take care of yourself in this relationship, the other pieces tend to fall into place.  Not only does this come down to the amount of work you're willing to do, the amount of compromises you can make, but it also depends on how she will take care of herself and be responsible for herself.  I would ask this question to you - what is she doing to help her own situation?  does she depend on you to take care of everything? Let me explain - if she takes meds, does she take them as prescribed (faithfully, doesn't skip,); has she researched ways to help herself such as to do lists, reminder tabs etc.  What is she doing to be self sustaining? does she use the ADD as an excuse to not confront issues?  This is the first thing i would look at. If you can't answer these positively, I'm not sure she will be capable of meeting you on the level you need her to.

If you can answer even somewhat positively to these questions, possibly another approach may help.  I'm a very direct person. So when there is an issue, I site the issue and where I think the problem is coming from. I've never been a sugar coater.  With my partner however, I have had to compromise this and sugar coat a bit.  When I do the checkbook now, i let her see it.  I want her to look it over and see where the issues are.  Then that leads to a conversation to how we can do things differently.  Before I used to say - "You went and got your haircut and now we are in the red." as an answer too "why did we come up short".  Now you and I can take that statement, admit our mistake, and move on.  But our partners immediately get defensive.  She can now look at the checkbook and see that if she had checked the account before going to get her haircut, we would not have bounced.  Now we have some open discussion.

it's like an addiction though, you get tired of doing this and slip.  Taking care of yourself in this relationship might mean doing things a bit differently to maintain your sanity but get the answer or resolution you're looking for.  It's just up to you how much you're willing to take.  I set some clear guidelines for my partner.  There are things I'm not going to bend on that she is going to have to work on.

There are going to be things you absolutely have to do. Like for me it's the bills. Since I've taken over the finances and controlled spending, we haven't missed a beat.  Prior when she had free rain, we were in the red.  You can't feel guilty for putting her on a budget or let's call a spade a spade, giving her an allowance. It's take a bit to get over that.  Believe me.  You look at this person as an adult that you shouldn't have to do that with.  However, my partner just couldn't understand the idea behind budgeting.  So you could ultimately eliminate an issue, just by taking it over.  I let my partner see the checkbook so she sees where the money is going and that I'm not hording it. She still feels like she is part of the decision making, and I'm less stressed.

So I have given you a very long winded answer.  I hope at least a part of it helps you.  It's hard to understand the mind of an ADD/ADHD spouse.  What you love about them you can also hate in other respects.  They will never meet you eye to eye.  There is some level of "manipulation" of getting them to where we think they should be, and then there are things they just can't do b/c of their ADD and that's where we come in.  How much we are willing to take on and accept is the core question. As you go through this journey though, (and it is a journey) put yourself in the driver seat and make decisions that you can live with.  Lord knows our partners do!

Good Question

My wife often talks about her her having ADD, but is not doing anything about it that I can see.  She is not taking medication even though I have suggested its use to her.  She reluctantly uses lists and reminders when that is the only way she can remember to get critical things done.  To this day she has no idea what a "priority" is even though I have tried to describe it a dozen time.

I wish I was a more direct person and my counselor is telling me that this is the key to feeling better about myself and our relationship.  She just reacts so negatively to any discussion on her ADD behavior that I have stopped bringing up issues and have just tried to modify what I do to work "around" her.  However, this doesn't work for the parts of our life that require both of us like emotional discussion or intimacy.  How do you speak with your spouse frankly about ADD behaviors that upset you without turning the discussion into a blame session?

I really like your approach to finances.  She wants to do finances with me, but the minute we sit down, she gets really stressed out and has no concept of budgeting.  Also, she uses the credit card when we run out of discretionary money (even though she knows this is not right).  I manage all of our regular bills through a separate account that spends my paycheck that she never sees and this has really helped take out most of the stress.  However, our discretionary money comes from her paycheck which is quite variable...as soon as it is depleted, it is back to the credit card (and then a big bill the next month).  Maybe I should just take over her paycheck as well and give her an allowance (and then gently mention to her when I see the credit card being used).

If you have any practical solutions to any of the following alos, I would appreciate it:

- Never cooks (or feeds our kids hours too late or unhealthy food).  I am not always home for dinner so it really stresses me out that dinner is not on the table for our kids.

- Never remembers to grocery shop, and when she does it is all of the wrong stuff (5 boxes of cereal but no milk).  She does not understand why I insist on grocery shopping at least once a week.

- Cannot say "no" at work, but takes on way too much and then must work weekends and late nights to catch up (to the detriment of family time and couple time).

- When she does agree to a "date" with me, she takes non-urgent phone calls during the date and will sometime forget that we even had a date scheduled (claiming that I did not remind her enough times)

Wish I had some more answers

but ironically, the last few things you mentioned - I'm going through myself. I know what you are talking about when you say you "modify" what you do to work around things.  I find I do that too.  Mind you, i'm still in my limbo state as well. I think it's fair to say, you and I are at the same stage here.  It's rather refreshing for me though to find someone going through it and searching for answers that don't end in giving up.  While I've managed to work through some things, there are still a host of things that drive me to insanity.  Such as what you mentioned.  Others are - trash night, Unless i tell her, it doesn't get done.  Dishes - she goes into work at 2, yet I come home to a pile of dishes "I told you i'd do them, I just didn't say when." How Irating!!! Sometimes I feel as if I come home from one job to clock in to another.  Maybe we can buddy up and figure this out together.

The financial stuff - If you can get her to combine your incomes, I would encourage it.  It's difficult though if she really isn't doing anything to help herself.  It took my partner 5 years before she finally talked to the doctor.  We have been together for 7.  I know, doesn't sound very fun.  And it wasn't.  But now that she is on it, she does think more clearly then what she did b/c she is more focused.  But there is still a lot to work through.  These are the symptoms med's can't control.  That is what we are dealing with now. 

Stay in touch.  It helps to have a sounding board.  Maybe we can tackle those issues you listed together.  Get those books on Amazon.  You should be able to get them all for under $20. 

More questions

Yes.  I would like to keep in touch as I think we seem to be at a similar place (except my wife has not admitted to ADD yet).

I have one more question for you as something just dawned on me today after another frustrating conversation. When I do express my feelings, my wife has a very exaggerated response that tells me she either did not hear me correctly or she is just trying to make fun of me. This has happened twice lately and I want to see if there is a pattern here. In the first instance, I told her nicely that she may want to consider not taking on so much work as she had started to work late into the night or all weekend. Her response was extreme in that she felt I was telling her to quit and not work at all (the farthest thing from the truth).  Again today, when I asked her not to check her e-mail on her blackberry when we had decided to have some together time, she responded by saying she will now never check her e-mail when at home with me (a total exaggeration of what I was asking). Is this ADD behavior? It just does not make sense to me and has made me unwilling to share my feelings as she immediately tries to solve the issue with an extreme solution.

Paul - perhaps it's defensiveness

I see a lot of couples in which the person with ADHD responds defensively (and one defensive response is to clam up) because they feel overwhelmed by the ADHD and by the thought of making changes in their own situation (tried before and failed is one reason, though not the only one).  Also, don't like the idea that if they admit to having an issue with ADHD then they might be blamed for the problems in the relationship.  This isn't an accurate reading of the situation (both people always play a role) but an understandable one.

Anyway, emotional paralysis may be why she can talk with you about other issues, just not the important personal ones.  The way out of this is to come to grips with the idea that her ADHD impacts you more than she realizes, as well as communicate that you are both responsible for your relationship.  If you haven't ordered it yet, consider reading my book because I go through this in my chapters on empathy and communication.

It's possible that your wife will never be emotionally available, but it also possible that she is just "hiding" right now behind defensiveness because she can't think of a better way to manage things.  Right now it seems too threatening.

So sick of the manipulation

I do not even know where to start. I'm sure I could write a book and still not cover everything that I am angry about. Seems that my husband of 20 years, whom I've asked to give me some space, has decided as one more way he can get to me is by reading my emails and see that I have signed up for this forum, and so he did as well, knowing I would read what he posted, which of course is written to make himself look good, better than anyone, the one who is working to fix the relationship, while selfish, cold, shrew wife (me) does not appreciate all the effort he has put in over the last entire 2 weeks of trying to fix things, I mean shouldn't that be enough? I've only been stressed to my absolute limit pretty much 24/7 for 20 years, I mean how much time could I possibly need? And now he is on antidepressants :(.. Poor thing. Let's see, I think I've been on them for about 10 years now, struggling with depression and being overwhelmed, even suicidal at times.

Let me try to just cover some of the highlights if I can. First off how I have basically had to raise our daughters as a single parent, because he was just always too busy with so many other things, I had to take care of everything, from infancy to the teen years. I won't go into what all that entailed, but we all know its a hell of a lot, and I do not exaggerate on the fact that I did EVERYTHING in regards to the children. Also the house, he has never done anything to help me around the house. In fact he still cannot even hang up his wet towel, or manage to put dirty clothes in the hamper, or dishes in the sink, trash in the trash can. He has piles of crap all over the house, just piles, who even knows what is in them, I used to attempt to pick up after him, but have given up on him over the last few years. Lets move into finances. He can always figure out a way to afford to buy anything that he wants, in fact, on the day that he decides that he wants it. Only the most expensive of items, nothing second rate for him, the most expensive guitars (several of them), golf clubs(several different sets), hockey equipment, clothes and shoes, a very expensive pool table, and the topper, a brand new Corvette that we could not afford which eventually ended up getting repossessed, along with several other cars we've had the same happen to, as well as a foreclosure on a house. Do you think we have ever had any savings? No not one dime. Not for the kids college, not for retirement, nothing, ever. I have never even been able to buy my two daughters bedroom furniture, because we can't afford it, they both have mattresses on their bedroom floors, and cheap plastic drawers that I bought them at walmart, and some crapy cheap desks, but he can afford anything he wants and always has to have the best. Actually, the job he has right now is the longest he's kept a job in the 20 years of our marriage, 3 whole years. Any time he is ever fired, he never did anything to deserve it. He was being treated so unfairly. I don't know how many jobs he lost where I never got the real story on what actually happened. He also lost a business, basically was kicked out by the other partners, but never could explain why to me. Of course he did nothing wrong. They were just being mean to him. I can't even tell you how much money he owes people that he has fanagled into loaning him money. They will never see it. I find out about it by accident, when I might find a letter from someone begging for him to work out some sort of deal to repay them. We've had to file for bankruptcy twice in our marriage. I do not even know how much we owe the IRS.

Now lets talk about driving.. I cannot even stand to be in a car with him. He speeds constantly, curses other people nonstop, texts while he drives, in front of our teenage daughters no less. He gets tickets and I have to find them shoved in some place, he doesn't tell me about them. But of course he is the only person on the road that knows how to drive. If he rides in the car with me driving, he criticizes me constantly. I can't do anything right. He makes me a nervous wreck, so I don't even try to drive with him. Not only does he criticize me on my driving, but pretty much everything else I do as well. He always needs to impress people, and I am supposed to go along with that. I prefer to just not go anywhere with him anymore.

So I'm sure Ive left a ton of stuff out, but to get to the point, over the last 20 years, I have grown to resent many, many things. This has manifested itself in me as depression, and more recently as anger. I am angry, and I feel that I have every right to be! I got to the point where I didn't even want him to come home. I was glad when he was gone. Recently we have seperated. I got to a point where I just could not take it one more day, and on top of everything, he blamed all of our problems on me. I needed to go to counciling. I had problems, and why didn't I want to be with him anymore?? What the hell was wrong with me? I mean he's wonderful right? He knows everything, right? Its been two weeks. I asked him for some time and space to figure things out. He cannot give that me. In the whole 2 weeks I think maybe there have been two days when he hasnt been calling me or texting me or been here begging me to see how much he has changed, that he wants to come and prove it to me, talking to me for hours and hours, about how hard all of this has been for HIM. Its all about what he needs. Why do I need time? That is too hard for HIM. I feel like I have been sufficating and drowning for years. I can't tell you how much stress it takes off of me to have him out of the house. And you know what? Right now I don't want to work on the relationship. I want to be LEFT ALONE. I don't want to go to counciling to work on HIS problems and help HIM. I AM TIRED OF EVERYTHING ALWAYS BEING ABOUT HIM!!!! But STILL he does not get that!!! And now he has decided to also crowd and sufficate me on this ADHD forum. Super. So I can't post anything without him seeing it and I will have to read all of his posts about poor him, and he's trying so hard, and now he can't sleep, and he's depressed, blah, blah, blah. Well maybe he can read this, but I'm sure none of if will get through to him. He will still be whining about what he needs, that he cannot take this seperation. Well right now I can't take being together and the way I feel right now, I don't think I will ever be ready. I'm tired of always giving what everyone else needs. TIRED OF IT! Does anyone get that? Probably other spouses of ADHD partners... I feel like all the life and energy has been sucked out of me by him, and now I'm supposed jump right on board to help him, and let him back in, when he can't even give me any space to myself for more than one day. Honestly, yes I'm very angry, and I don't want to work on it. I'm sorry. For once I want to live my life for me and what I want. How dare I right? Well that is how it is. So suck it up.


so sick of the manipulation

I read your post and burst into tears.  Again.  Which is what I've done almost every day for the past two months.  BUt don't worry, there's been PLENTY of tears in the fourteen years we've been married.  None on his part, I might add.  I could have written every single word you wrote.  In fact, if we swapped husbands you probably wouldn't even notice the difference.  I've reached breaking point - I had a complete meltdown yesterday, including very suicidal thoughts.  I can't bear the thought of living the next forty years with this selfish life-draining person, my whole personality and energy has been subsumed by him.

When I try to talk about my actual daily life with other people, they never understand.  And he manipulates whoever I talk to.  All he has to say is that "he loves me, he's doing his best and he's trying really hard to improve.  She blows everything out of proportion.  She's been depressed for years.  Her standards are ridiculously high.  She tries to impose her perfectionism on me."  HA!!  Everything is always someone else's fault.  He is completely and totally incapable of accepting any blame or responsibility.  If he does, it's just words, there are NEVER any actions to back it up.  It's some sort of daydream where he thinks that if he says something out loud then poof! it must be true.  I wonder why I've been depressed for years...

Towels on the floor?  tick.  Dirty dishes all over the house?  tick.  Loud music and noises ALL the time?  Expensive guitars in the home "office" that he HAD to have so he could concentrate?  tick.  Not able to see the floor in the so-called office, but which is really a playroom for his computer and music equipment (all expensive)? tick.  Crazy, irresponsible driving?  tick.  Mattresses on my kids' floors?  tick.  Crappy second hand furniture?  tick.  No savings for the kid's education?  tick.  In fact, I've got one up on you on this one:  he EMPTIED (stole) the kid's education fund that I had set up for them. Maxed out credit cards THREE times without telling me he had them until I saw the bills in the mail?  tick.  Taking off to go surfing when he is supposedly working?  tick.  Manipulated his father into paying his credit cards (to the tune of $18000 X 2) TWICE? tick.

In January, I started my first job as a teacher, up until this point I had stay home and make sure that everything ran smoothly for the family and his business.  But I got fed up.  No appreciation.  No gratitude.  No nothing.  I decided that I wanted regular money and a chance to see if I still existed.  To my surprise, my colleagues appreciate me and think I'm a valuable person.  But it's been nothing but trouble - I'm selfish, I'm neglecting the family.  He can't concentrate on his business.  He told me that I should'nt have worked this year, he really needed this year to sort his business out.  I've ruined everything because I don't trust him and didn't give him one bloody year to consolidate his business.  When does it end?  When do I get my life back?  When do I have to stop supporting him?  No, of course I should support him, but when is it reciprocated?  What about the help I needed in this very difficult first year of teaching?  Ha!  It's all ended up being about him and how much trouble it is for him!!  Has he forgotten about the fourteen years I've already given him?!?

In the past two months he's started yelling at me everyday - for about two hours.  That's on average.  Sometimes he can yell at me and lecture for 4 hours at a time.  That's right, I'm not kidding.  FOUR hours.  Like a broken record.  And he follows me around the house and continues yelling at me through closed doors.  Is this abuse?  I think so.  When I've told him that it is, the response is:  "It's because you just don't ^&%* listen to me!!!!  You're so argumentative!!!"

I finally convinced him that he had to go last week.  Just for six months.  But he won't go.  He agrees with me and has even said how much easier my life would be without him.  Then come the excuses.  I can't take him being around me anymore.  I am totally losing my mind.  (which just supports his argument, that I am depressed and hyperemotional)  I was so distraught yesterday (after he yelled at me in the morning before work AGAIN) that I seriously thought I can't live like this anymore.  Why won't he just go and give me some PEACE?  He came home tonight and said that he has just rented out some office space and that will give us the space he needs.  He just needs somewhere quiet to work.  THIS is the solution to our problems?  What about ME?  I need him OUT.

Yesterday, after I thought I just couldn't live another day in this twisted ADD world, I decided to, on the spur of the moment google to see if there were other women like me.  I had to know if I was totally out of line like he said I was - that the problem was only me.  And here was this whole website dedicated to me!  I feel like it's the only moment of sanity I've had in fourteen years.  Do I feel vindicated?  Yes.  Is that petty?  Yes, probably, and not very helpful to my husband.  But I'm not feeling terribly magnanimous.  I told him in the first year of our marriage that I thought he had ADD.  He denied it and said he only had short-term memory loss. (diagnosed in grade 4)  It was only when my son was diagnosed with it last year that he admitted he might have it too.  But instead of getting help for it, it is now the number one excuse for just about anything under the sun.

I feel SO sorry for you and I should be addressing your issues, but I got carried away by all these burdens I've been carrying for so long.  I think both of our husbands now need to finally accept some responsibility and look after themselves for a while.  What better way to prove that they can be equals?  I'm sorry to say, but if they can't manage to do even that, then they might as well move back in with their parents.  It's a start anyway, and it certainly gives us the much needed break we need.  Pestering us and sticking around is NOT proving their love.  It's only pointing out again how needy and dependent they are.  I know I sound like a complete b-----, and I am certainly not advocating separation for any other couples on this website, but I think the both of us are at the end of our tethers.  I don't want to antagonise your husband, but where is his sense of fairness?  Can't he hear the desperation in your voice?  He's backed you into a corner with no way out.  I hope you don't mind me saying these things, but if you're like me, you just want somone, anyone, to back you up and support you.  So, here I am.  Please give her some space.

Thank you

Thank you thank you thank you  thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!

It's okay to vent....

Hi, cactus.  I didn't even finish your blog and I felt like responding.  I don't ever do this.  I just want to say it's okay to vent--you have every right.  Believe me you are not a b---, needy, or asking too much.  It's just grief.  I think your just asking for an adult relationship with adult level communication, love and respect.  I also googled to see if there are any women like me, and wow apparently there is a whole universe full of frustrated, angry non-ADHD women.  ;)  I'm a 38 year old non-ADHD and my 40 year old exfiance and best friend has ADHD.  I just want to say I understand the rejection, anger, and hurt.  Don't call yourself a b----.  I know what it's like to be dating "the life of the party,  stand up comedian, sweep you off your feet, and random acts of kindness." Oops it's really HYPERFOCUS-thought he was in love and very reliable.  Then a few months later after, oh no, the commitment word, he's not as interested and it turns into a strange game of being swept off your feet only to be ignored again by false commitments.  But anyway don't put yourself down.  The fact that you are researching info and trying to find help is a good sign.   I really think ADHD is a combination of time/attention learning disability and mental illness (I work at a County Developmental Disabilities Program).  It's difficult because it's like living in the twilight zone or Bill Murray's "Groundhog's Day" living only in the now:  people with ADHD can be extremely intelligent and good in "groups" socially, which is deceiving because they have problems with one-on-one, concepts with time management (unable to understand how past decisions affect now, and how what I do now affects the future), problems with intimacy because of focus and attention problems.  This just lead the non-ADHD person to be confused because of course you would interpret this as selfishness and rejection.  Don't beat yourself up.  I stopped helping him in any way because I was becoming an enabler.  If the ADHD person is unwilling to get on medication and go to ADHD coaching you shouldn't be responsible in any way.  It's not any different from living with someone with bipolar or another disorder who is unwilling to get help when there are so many resources out there.  There's just no excuse, and you shouldn't have to put up with it.

You probably need to make amends

That's what I want from my husband, and he's not in a financial position to do it, since, at 48, he's in an entry-level job. What I want is the car he wrecked back, the loom I sold to pay the rent (mine before the marriage) back, and the credit fixed so we can buy a house. Not going to happen, never. I have to accept that if I'm gong to stay married.

YOU can probably make some amends. Can you sell some of the guitars and electronic toys (try eBay) and use that money to buy some FURNITURE FOR YOUR KIDS? Teenagers want to have their friends come to their house and sleep over. They are probably nearly as tired of you and your ADHD behaviors as your wife is. You don't have to bother your wife, just send her a check or a gift certificate to a furniture store.

I've seen this with all the ADD guys who find out after years of torturing their wives and families, when their wife feels like she'll die of exhaustion if she has to live with them any longer. There have been several on here, they post a lot for a brief time, then I think they give up and decide it's easier to stay the same and try to muscle their wife into fixing all the problems, or find a new, shiny woman to fix their problems. (She'll be posting here next year.)

My advice, as another long-suffering wife, is: FIX YOURSELF AND LEAVE YOUR WIFE ALONE. DON"T MAKE HER FIX YOUR PROBLEMS! DON'T EXPECT INSTANT FORGIVENESS because now you can put a name to all your bad behavior over the years.

I can say this. I still live with my husband and we have some good times. I think he's happy. I am coming to terms with the fact that I'll never have the life I expected to have. Your wife might do the same if you work on yourself and give her some space.

I do need to


You are all correct and so is my wife, everything she says about me is true. I am embaressed and ashamed of the way I have treated her and the kids. I don't know what I was thinking by posting on here, her post has helped me see this.

I'm not going to give explanations or ask for anyone to feel sorry for me because if I have learned anything in the last week is that this needs to not be about me. I know the only way right now she can look at anything I say is with skepticism, anger, doubt and manipulative intents.

I am going to be my best to do what she wants and that is to give her space. I hope she can find the answers she needs to be happy.

to robinshusband

A large part of me thinks this is none of my business, but I already commented on your situation, so I hope you don't mind me saying one more thing.  You sound like a nice man and I believe you are contrite and truly love your wife. (same as my husband says he does)  ADD skews everything and what it warps most of all is a person's sense of trust.  I really hope for your sake, and Robin's, that you can give her the time alone that she needs.  That you show her you are capable of change by demonstrating concrete, continuous results over time without requiring instantaneous feedback.  And that you show her you are a person she can trust.  CAn you do this little by little over six months time?  (with the possibility of nothing in return?) 

(I could ask the same questions of my husband), But to be very brutal, you are right, the decision lies with your wife now : "hope she can find the answers she needs to be happy".  WEll, unfortunately, the questions she will be asking herself are:  "Can I go back to this man who has caused me so much grief, voluntarily and happily?  How will my life be better by doing this?"

I hope you are successful in learning more about the ADD, and I'd like to give Robin a big hug - I'm sure if we met each other  we'd be able to eventually have a few laughs about many ridiculous/chaotic things in our lives.  I won't write anymore unless either of you ask me to.  I've intruded enough in your marriage.   


Thank you for what you wrote. I am doing my best to do exactly what you say. I honestly feel like even responding to this or even reading on this blog is violating her. I do love her very much and hope that she can look back on some of the few things in our relationship that show there is hope of me being what she needs.

I'm not going to post on what I'm doing or the progress I feel I'm making because it will only been seen as trying to control her thoughts.

She is the one who needs the support, understanding, and time. I'm ashamed of what I've done to her. Please keep this on her and not me, as I'm trying to do that one day at a time. I did yesterday and I'm trying today.

waynebloss's picture

Reversed Situation

I am the one with ADD, I am 41 and found out earlier this year.  My marriage of 12 years is in the pits and I know why.  Since I have found out, I have started/continued counseling, taking Vyvanse, and I do exercise!  I was the bad ADD person, self medicated with alcohol to slow down and numb the wold inside my head and around me.  I do understand what I caused to my wife and I have started and continuing working on making the changes I need to make for me.  We recently spearated, kind of, I moved downstairs 6 weeks ago and that is where I spend my time when the kids go to bed (which is usually around 7pm...yes they are 6 and 5).  We had a talk about 3 weeks ago and she stated that the time/space is really helping her de-stress and bring peace to her.  Which makes me happy and I am thankful that I have the ability to give her FINALLY what she asked for.  I would help around the house with dishes, laundry and ensuring that the house was kept, thanks Army, but I had nothing to do with the bills, money or family plans.  I took over the bills in September and we both try to assist with making plans but that has gone to hell!.

But now I am having issues with her, which I do not like, but it is just how I feel.  We do not talk about anything anymore, nothing but the kids and our schedules and that is it.  She will not talk to me about the bills, us or anything else of importance (but the kids).  This past T-Day she did not invite me to her family's dinner, I asked if I was going with her and the kids and she said she would think about it and never said anything to me after that.  I tried to bring it up but was met with anger and snappy remarks, which I have learned to stop and walk away. (Before I would go after the snappy remarks with my own).  Then I had another talk about money, she really needs to know that we are very close to losing everything, but as I was talking, she just sat there, breathing heavy and not saying anything.  I said what I had to say, in a positive tone using "we" all the time instead of her or me, and she still became angry with me and has not talked to me since.  I am tired of being treated like a piece of crap, I know that I did the same to her, but to demand that I make changes, demand that I do A, B, C or she is walking out with the kids, then for me to do everything she demanded and continue to do them (for me), and she still ignores me, does not talk to me, sometimes walks through the house like I am not even there.  Then tells me that I made the changes but I am just going through the emotions and I do not mean them.  She always makes "family" time things like go to the park and then 20 minutes before makes other plans for her and she leaves ( I cannot ask her where or with who or she makes me pay with remarks, actions or words) for hours and the kids and I go about our plans.  Most of the decisions about us being together I have left to her to make, I do not want to step on the time/space she wants away from me, so I always ask to see if we are doing something together or are we going our separate ways. 

I have not dropped off the ADD wagon, I have not shown anger, frustration or even make those snide remarks I used to.  I am always thinking about my actions, my thoughts and the tone/words I use during what little conversation we have. I know that time and patience is something that we with ADD do not have a lot of, I am trying and learning, but how much crap do I have to take before I say enough?  I know that she has some anger issues with me, but she refuses counseling making excuses why she does not go, but yet demands that I go? She is turning to her best friend who is in a worse marriage than we are! I know that there is anger, bitterness, and resentment towards me and she might be asking herself if she wants to continue with us but does this give her the right to treat me like she has?  I am not depressed, I wake up smiling and in a good mood, not about to let her ruin my day because she is mad at me, us or herself. The only med I take is for ADD and I try the conversation waters by asking "how are you?" or "how was your night?" and when I see her at night, if I do, "how was your day?", "how was work?" to see if is safe to enter or just stay away. 

How long does the spouse with ADD take the abuse from the non-ADD spouse who refuses to help herself or us?  I was bad, I have admitted to everything and took full responsibility for my actions and have started the correct what I needed to.  Should I be quite and take how she is treating me because I had ADD and did not know?  Let the anger, frustration, no communication be the way of life in our house until she is ready to make a decision?  I am lost and do not want to drive her away, but the last year has been hell for me too, no sex since Jan, no kiss since June, no "I love you" since Aug, no hug, smile, or look from her eyes of  that shows she is still there since Oct.  Just need to have someone tell me, talk to me about this since the one I need to hear it from will not say anything to me.  My counselor says that I should be patient but stand up for Myself when she is over the top angry or making remarks or doing actions that really hurt, which I do, but just wanted to know, to hear others thoughts and suggestions.




Hole in the bucket's picture

As the nonaddhd partner...

As the nonaddhd partner... even when my wife -does- try, I still stand around waiting for the other shoe to drop. 
But a year is enough.  My suggestion would be suggest marriage counseling again.  If that fails or she refuses, my suggestion is separation.  You got your stuff straight, Wayne.  And you deserve your credit.  You also deserve the chance to go out and enjoy that life you've just started.  It might be that she has too much resentment to just let bygones be bygones.  It might be too late for the two of you. 

The other thing is, how does she look at it?... she went through hell, alone, taking care of the kids -and- you, for TWELVE years.  Suddenly you pop a pill and have an epiphany and you're happy.  Some people don't let go so easy.  You've endured a year of hell... she suffered 12.  I'm not saying she's right to treat you this way, quite the opposite.  I think she's filled with resentment and 12 years of lost dreams and happiness and now she sees the source of that resentment happy and it makes her sick... so she's throwing a temper tantrum. 

Another way to look at it is that you get a chance to make her fall in love again.  I say give it a shot.  Theres this book called the Love Dare.  I'm not much for all the religious rhetoric that comes along with it (bite me Kirk Cameron, you were cooler as Mike Seaver!) but you can remove that and the book still works phenomenally.  

The Love Dare

It is phenominal..I have the book and did it (although not all the way through) and I really think it gives a great perspective as well. I do, however, love the religious aspect of it. LOL

Twelve years is a long time...I admit that..but coming from someone in the shoes of his wife...there comes a time when you have to care enough about the other person to either get on with the marriage or let them go. If she isn't 'ready' to let go of the past after a year, then maybe she needs a little nudgy-poo.

waynebloss's picture


Amen to..he was WAY cooler has Mike Seaver!!

Hey Wayne...I was wondering

Hey Wayne...I was wondering about you and how Thanksgiving went...

I already told you in another post that I think you're getting somewhat of a raw deal. She is punishing you instead of working towards forgiving you. She has kept you at arms length for a very long time. This proves to me (in my mind) that she isn't working towards saving the marriage...she is not doing her part.

My husband cheated, called me unspeakable names, abandoned his family for 'attention', wasn't there for me during my father's accident, hospitilization, and death...and made it impossible for me to be there for him during his mother's death...which hurt almost as much as the affair...all within 3-4 months last Fall. In the end, when everything came out, I gathered all of the information, and took the time to decide how to proceed..I ultimately decided that I wanted to give my marriage another chance..because I felt that the things that went wrong were fixable and avoidable (in the future) and bottom line, I still loved him very much.

I didn't ask him to move back home and live in the den like a roommate. I didn't withhold sex from him...or refuse to tell him I love him. I was hurting and broken...but courageous (or crazy?) enough to throw everything I had back into the marriage and go for broke...and the risk seems to have paid off. What your wife is doing is bordering cruelty. You are her husband for Christ's sake...her leaving and you not being allowed to ask where she is going and with whom is WRONG. There is a fine line between needing space to regain some peace in your life and taking complete advantage of a person who has wronged you..it feels like emotional warfare..and she's holding all of the guns.

Only you will know when enough is enough..but she isn't playing by the rules as far as I am concerned. Maybe it is time you demand she make some damn changes...and get into counseling...and be honest with you about why she's leading you to believe she wants the marriage to work, but doing nothing to help it progress forward.

Sorry..I don't mean to be harsh...apologize if I seem that way. This isn't much different to me than the ADD spouse who refuses to get help or see their fault in anything. Continued prayers!

waynebloss's picture

Not Harsh

You are not harsh and I expect the bruit honest truth when I ask for it.  People in here that continue to post helpful comments as well as frustration I take with a grain of salt.  I value the honest feedback I get from this web site.  I have suggested that my wife take a gander at some of these post from the non-add spouse, that it might help her relate or feel "not" alone, but since this came from me she ignored it. 

Thanksgiving went fine at my mom's house, I come from a big family and we are rednecks so family, love and laughter is required!  My wife and I spent the night Wed and had a good time (at least I did, did not dare ask her), then we went to the movies, I went with my kids and big sis, she went with my nieces to another movie.  My sis know some of what is going on, but did not know that I was not invited to my wife's family dinner.  She wondered why I was going home and she about lost it!  Told her to back off and do not say ANYTHING, let me handle my family, it will be fine and for to be good!  About 30 seconds later my wife came out...nice timing, we all said our goodbye's then I followed her and the kids to her car.  She got into the driver's seat and I put the kids in their car seat, kissed them goodbye and shut the door and turned and walked away.  Did not speak to anyone until the came home on Sat.  I cried on the way home Thursday, knowing that the 1st time in 12 years I was not with my family on Thanksgiving but understood to a point why.   I took Friday as a chance to finish projects that I did not finish, read some books and visited friends.  Was going to make it positive even though it stung a bit.  The real anger issues started Sat and Sun and has continued til today.  I have some plans that I talked with in counseling, most were thrown away, but there was 1-2 that we both agreed upon.  My counselor has met and talked with my wife, so she does understand both sides!  If I nudge, make a value attempt at suggesting something I am met with anger, a stare and some words which I acknowledge then walk away.  I know she sees me not talking, walking away, being "silent" as me reverting back to my old self, which it is not, but I cannot tell her that, right now she does not believe me, so I just test the waters to see where she is at and if it is safe. 

She has not worked on the marriage, she says she is working on herself and she might be, but with all the anger, bitterness and resentment I am not seeing an ounce of change from her going back 5 months.  So I take it as I can and just wait to see how Christmas is going to go, then see if we are going to be together for New Years or if she has other plans.   We shall see, meanwhile I will watch "growing pains" and Mike Seaver in action! 


Hole in the bucket's picture

Wow!  Your redneck family and

Wow!  Your redneck family and mine differed somewhat. 
family, love and laughter
Roughly translated to
Brutal physical abuse, being beaten with a 2X4 or stomped on with my stepfather's brand new Double H's, fear, racism, bigotry and terror.  A lot of that damage results in constant pain each and every day.  THAT'S growing pains.  lol 
Other than that it sounds similar though.  Trade ya?

didilaughs's picture

Wayne and Sheri

Firstly, I need to acknowledge how much I have gotten from the posts particularly from both Wayne and Sheri.  I have literally spent the last two days in tears because I AM NOT ALONE.  Thank you so very much, both of you, all of you.  My husband of 17 years was diagnosed with ADHD, at the end of an extremely painful 5 years.  He is still in the stage where it is my fault, that if I do this, that or the other, everything will be fine, not understanding that no matter what I do, because the barriers are there, and the fundamental systems of avoidance remain fully in force, nothing that I do will make any difference.  I don't know how to change this, I don't know how to get through.  I don't want my marriage to end.  We have a 6 year old - we were late in life parents.  I know full well I have not responded to him appropriately all of the time, but there are many, many, many times that I have.  I have invested hours and hours in reading, in talking to people, in trying to talk him through the issues, to no avail.  He has decided that this is way his brain is wired and he is unable to change.  He is on meds - they have increased his anger, and in a lot of ways made him harder to talk to.   It is like now he clearly sees the buttons to press with me, so that I get angry, which then gives him the excuses he needs not to move forward - after all he has do deal with the screaming bitch of a wife.  I have also been under enormous pressure the last six years - first baby at 41, my mother died 8 weeks later, we had to move states for my husband's work (he was not coping), so lost my supports, my job, my chance to finish my uni degree easily, I went into depression which he took as rejection so had an affair, I lost three babies in 14 months, and my elderly father was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  I had the expectation that he would be able to step up to the mark, but of course could not, and could not see why I was a mess - all he could see was what I was doing to him.  He could not see that the little of me that I had to give HAD to go to our daughter, there was nothing left for a long time.  The list of excuses he trots out for not hearing what I am saying, for not doing anything about HIS issues is enormous.  I understand completely Sheri's post about not being able to heal until the barriers are down - that is where I am now but I am at the stage where I truly can't do any more, at some point the decision to work on this also has to be his.  I have and still am supporting him in any way I can, but he won't talk, he won't share his feelings.  Made even worse because he has teamed up with a singer with ADHD, so has all those discussions with her (He is a scientist and part time musician - highly intelligent), and I end up resenting having my life and me discussed with her - and far too reminiscent of what happened during his affair.  The whole 'my wife doesn't understand me' is just too corny for words and so insulting.  In his eyes, everything starts with me, never him, despite some stunning examples over the last months where he has managed to start an argument and keep it going all by himself (for once I managed to keep my mouth under control on these occasions), which to me raised the question of how many of our arguments has he accelerated/started, and I have bought into then been blamed for.  The frustration of dealing with ADHD is enormous, life wrecking, and utterly devastating, and I don't know anymore how to get through to the person I know still exists, the man that I love so very much.



Hi my name is didier I recently learnt that I suffer from adhd/add it has taken a toll on my wife and what hurts the most is I had no idea what was wrong with me until recently. Ive read some of the stories and I fall under alot of the symptoms what I will say is as someone with adhd my personal experience is i feel like im being attacked thats how we interprete it and when we are instructed to do something we have the intention but we forget almost like it was never mentioned until they remind us aswell as employment having issues with sustaining a job my wife is an amazing woman and would kill me to loose her I am willing to do whatever it takes to fix this problem I have to save my marriage and live a normal life
dragonfly99's picture

Maybe you aren't just ADHD.

Maybe you aren't just ADHD. There are other disorders that can coexist and if not treated can affect you too even with ADHD meds. Sometimes you need medication for that too. Bipolar, OCD, depression and other mental health conditions can interfere with treatment. You might want to go back and talk to the doctor that diagnosed you about your concerns. Support groups are a good tool for finding good mental health providers and a lot of good advice. inwish you luck in your future.

Dear Feeling Ignored - I am

Dear Feeling Ignored - I am so sorry.  I and many others know exactly how you feel.  I for one know for sure I would never have gotten married if I'd known this.  It's OK to say that out loud.  So I tell myself. 

My husband sounds like yours.  He accepts his ADD and he tells me over and over and over he still doesn't have the tools and the treatment plan.  I keep asking when are you going to get one.  He says - I'm going to do that now.  And now never comes.

I just want to feel happiness again.  What I wouldn't give just to feel happy.