Fiancé Newly Diagnosed. Not sure I can deal.

This post is part rant, part seeking help and ideas.

I grew up with a brother and a mother who were both diagnosed with ADHD right around the same time (1991 when it was "all the rage") so I've essentially been a mom all my life. About 2 months ago, my fiancé was diagnosed with ADHD. We've been together for 4 years, and we've lived together for a year and a half. I've always been easy going and the opposite of a nag. With him, I feel like the uptight, nagging mom all over again. We are going to therapy together and he started a low dose of Aderall. Today (after forgetting to fill his Rx on Monday) he was to up his dose with his new Rx but the pharmacy won't have it until Tuesday. He is completely without meds and he has a deadline for work this weekend. His ADHD is ruining his career. In the last year it seems he cannot maintain a job more than a month or so at a time. He says he cannot work without his pills and he said he's afraid he's come to rely on them. I've done so much research to find other ways to help him, but he refuses to try anything but the pills and basic talk therapy. I feel like I can talk until my face turns blue, I don't feel any better and I am trying to accept that this won't change. I can deal with my mother's ADHD, she works hard to keep it under control, and she's worked hard to give me everything she could as a mom. My partner just wants to throw money at everything to make it 'all better' but he's not making any money because he can't keep a job. He can't wake up on his own. He can't take his pill without me handing it to him. I cannot ask him to take on any responsibility without a tantrum followed by forgetting to do it (he agrees that the accurate word for it is 'tantrum'). He can't - refuses to - cook, he can hardly do his own laundry. He is incapable of functioning as an adult. It feels as though he turned 15, having been catered to and pampered his whole life, and stopped evolving. I'm told I am incredibly patient, but that's not enough. I just don't know what I can do to ease this situation. I am about to start a new career that involves being a full-time student and, if he can't keep a job, a full time job. I'm terrified that it's all going to fall apart if I don't do something.

OK, first thing is to calm

OK, first thing is to calm down.

All these complaints are typical and so you need to decide what you can and cannot live without. My husband does little around the house. He gets his dishes to the sink and that's about it. He's good about helping out with dinner in terms of "Can you turn the crock pot off?" Yeah, maybe I should ask for more, but it doesn't bother me most of the time. Occasionally when I'm just in a b*tchy mood, I decide to get mad about it. But in the scheme of things, does it matter? No, not really. It's just house work. As for cooking, my hubby cooks if he wants to eat. It's simple. I plan two meals per week for us to share together, but after that, it's everyone for themselves.

Your fiance is obviously capable of functioning as an adult. He's made it this far. I think the thing is now that he should have a heart-to-heart with his boss. Talk about his diagnosis and what he is doing to treat the ADHD. The fact that he willing to take his meds and seek therapy, any therapy, is huge if you start reading the threads on her. Many women are saddled with husbands and SOs that don't want to take their meds. My own husband is very hit-or-miss about taking his. Helping him take his meds is just one of those things. Have you tried waking him and giving him the pill? I've had to do that with my hubby because he too has problems waking up. He hits the snooze repeatedly, often taking an hour or more to get up. It makes me bang my head on the wall. Especially when he has recently decided that he doesn't want me to wake him with his pill.

Perhaps you should look at it as he trusts you to help him. There is a fine line between helping and/or loving them and then enabling and/or doing everything for them. Obviously you want to love and support them. But it's hard not to get upset, irritated, frustrated, insert appropriate negative emotion, and just do it for them. I've had to re-boot recently and step away from my hubby and his attempt to go back to school. I'm a major control freak and these tendencies have only been exacerbated by my hubby being ADHD. But I've got to free myself from the stress and he's been straight with me about not interfering and letting him do it. Do I worry that he will follow through? Absolutely. But I'm the major bread winner, the bills are paid, and I'm fine with that. I'm not dependent on him, which is the best way to be, IMO.

It appears to me that you're letting his diagnosis run you off the rails because of your past. It seems that you guys were fairly happy before his deficiencies got a label. Think of it this way--you are light years ahead of all of us because you've dealt with this in the past. But that doesn't me that you have to deal with it the same way as you did before and become a mom. He doesn't want you to be his mom and you don't have to be.


I agree with what you're saying here.  However, you see things in a much more positive light.  Perhaps that's because my DH was not willing to do his part, take a pill, try to control his impulsiveness, etc.  I was doing all of the work.  It was completely inequitable.  I realized it was going to be that way for the rest of our lives if we continued to operate at that level.  (It's a very long story why it changed from good to bad, etc., see my previous posts for more details).  Anyway, I decided not to tolerate it any longer and left.  It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, especially since my co-dependency tendencies from childhood are firing away like mad.  But I have come to understand that unless he chooses to get better (or whatever), the prognosis of my happiness was meager.

So, that's up to you (whoever that might be) to decide.  My sincerest good wishes...

Sidney Cozzoi's picture

Many good points, except...

Thanks for your responses. I would like to point out that when i wrote that I was incredibly calm. I was just saddened by a realization that this may never change. I realize these are typical symptoms. He claims he wants to do something about it but feels that he can't so he won't. We also found out that we can't afford his medication (about $600/month) and that was about the only thing he was willing to do other than basic talk therapy.

He really cannot function as an adult on his own. I didn't realize until we moved in together. He had been living in a studio apartment in Korea Town (LA) with no kitchen. He was still living out of boxes, and eating ramen and microwave burritos. He never had to clean because there was nothing to clean. He works in a very cut throat industry and for the last four years he's managed to get hired in very low level positions only to develop an attitude because he thought he was too good for the position, even though he couldn't keep up with his coworkers.
He gets away with a LOT. He has a way of getting people to give him chance after chance until he gets snarky with his employers and gets fired. He used to be able to keep a job for about 3 months and only took between 1 and 3 months to get a new job. He used to tell me it was just that he was hired as freelance and the project was over, later he confessed that wasn't true. Now he spends 4-7 months without work. He just got hired, this time as freelance, and one day in he's ready to quit. I wish I had known he was living like a teenager who's parents were out of town. I also didn't know his family was sending him money every month. His father paid for his phone and his car. His only bill was rent. I thought he was this ambitious reliable guy who was really good with his money and I know how hard it is to maintain life as a freelance artist; I was wrong.

I know his ADHD is a difficult problem and he has to work twice as hard to do the bare minimum but it feels like he wants to hide behind it rather than do anything about it. In our last therapy session we discussed how he feels like our connection is lost because I told him I wasn't going to do everything for him anymore. I told him I needed to take care of me because I've been giving my all to him and suffering for it. He feels completely abandoned, hopeless, and lost if I say no to any plea for help, even making food. He either refuses to eat or attempts to make something while throwing a tantrum and leaving a mess for me to clean up, even if we've agreed that it's a fend for yourself night.
I experimented with letting go of control. Last night we had to camp out in the living room because our dog vomited on our bed. His job is to launder the bedding and change the sheets once a week. We had no clean sheets to put on the bed because he's ignored his pile of laundry for months (I've been changing the sheets for him since I breakout easily). He had started to do them the day before but threw a fit because when he went to move the pile, dust kicked up everywhere. He swore and yelled then stormed off and locked himself in his office. On a good day, he'll start to work on everything but the thing that needs doing the most. Reorganizing a comic book collection is not more important than washing sheets when we have none to sleep on. I have nothing against comics, i love comics, but I also love sleeping in a clean bed. This is just one example out of many why it always falls to me if he doesn't do it when I let go of control.

He often tells me he wants to be told what to do because then he at least knows what he should be doing. Last night, after he said it again, I pointed out that when I do tell him what to do or remind him of anything he doesn't want to do he throws a tantrum. I reminded him about the pile of laundry and it was like a light bulb went off "Oh yeah, I do. Well, I don't know what to tell you, it's who I am." *le sigh

Yes, there is a possibility

Yes, there is a possibility that things will never change.  And that is very depressing.  My husband's ADHD was diagnosed about three or four years ago but there were signs of it for a long time, I just didn't know what they were.  We've been married almost 28 years.  We have two adult daughters, both in college.  I've withdrawn from my husband out of my frustration and sadness about the imbalance in our relationship.  I work part-time and am always on the lookout for more freelance work; my husband has a part-time tutoring job (minimum wage, no benefits) and gets paid to "take care of" his parents, even though from what I can tell, all he does is cook two meals a day and listen to his dad reminisce.   I do the vast majority of the housekeeping.  I've stopped, however, doing many things that are just for him:  I don't buy his groceries, I don't do his laundry, I don't remind him about appointments, etc.  It's painful to see how much his behavior resembles that of an immature teenager.  Whether the behavior is caused by a disease or not, it's hard to deal with, and there's a good chance it won't get better if your partner can't afford to take medications and isn't motivated to try to change otherwise.

ADHD people are people

ADHD people are people pleasers so they will keep trying even if they no longer love you or even hate your guts. They don't want to tell you the truth so they push you away hoping you will get the hint. "Symptoms" occur because they are living a lie that the world wants them to tell.  Give them permission to tell you the truth. Tell them that you know that they can't force themselves to love you or even like you. Let them out of the nonsensical "love you forever" trap that Western culture uses on people. If you are not an emotional adult, how can you expect your partner to be one. Read The Hazard  of Being Male, if you want to get some perspective.


I think I would be afraid of you if I met you in person.  Maybe that is your secret at work and you are proud of your abilities to manipulate people.  I am saying this for you to think about for your wife's sake - someone who needs communication and trust not to be manipulated by you pushing her away.  Speak the truth and give yourselves both the freedom that would bring.

They don't want to tell you the truth so they push you away hoping you will get the hint.


Thanks for the insight. That is really interesting and it explains some puzzling behavior to me that my ex had. After he hit me, we separated, he went to counseling and seemed to do all the right things for getting back together (which we did 8 months later). However, he gawked at other women way more after that and he would make little comments like, "If you hadn't made any move toward coming back, I probably would already be married again by now," or he would tell me how the marriage counselor would tell him he absolutely could NOT bail out of this marriage for various reasons. He started being a lot more passive aggressive and did creepy things that seemed geared toward making me think I was going crazy.

I would have been far happier had he said my expectations were just more than he wanted to deal with and that he wanted to move on. By that time, I really didn't want to stay with him either -- just felt obligated to try to make it work.

My ADHD spouse definitely is

My ADHD spouse definitely is a people "pleaser" in the sense of wanting to come across as being the type of person who makes other people happy.  But this crashes against that part of his self that is very self-centered and that doesn't want to do things that I, for example, have asked him to do to make my life a little easier.  I think your explanation contains a lot of truth.

ADHWE, please respond with your truth

What is the lie that you are living?  What is the truth that you are forced to not tell?  I am giving you permission here on this anonymous forum to be who you are and not hold back.  You have nothing to lose by telling the truth and a lot to gain by learning and being heard.  You have nothing to gain by manipulating an anonymous forum.  But you are here for a learn right?   Because, if I interpret what you said about your wife, you no longer love her or maybe even hate her guts and the lie you are living is that you are happy and loving.  

You said you would be afraid of me.

I told you the truth. I did not try to manipulate anything here. What I read  on this site was a whole lot of women complaining about their 
ADHD husbands. It turned me off because there were so many loving victims ready to throw out what they see as trash.  I was not diagnosed until I was sixty years old. I had to diagnose myself from internet material. I had gone to doctors for help in my 20s and 30s but they just kept telling me that it would get better. Finally, I asked my physician for a referral and he started telling me that I just needed to work harder. I told him that I had lost over $50,000.00 because of this thing, and I was not going to accept no. He relented and gave me the referral. 

When I went to the Psychiatrist, I told him that people blame me for everything. I did some things but I had become a convenient scapegoat for every problem that other people had. I was an easy target. The doctor suggested that I take Adderrall and said that things will be different. It was. I could control my attention and put it anywhere I wanted. I saw that others who had been critical of me were not all they claimed to be. I began to challenge the assessments that everything was all my fault because it was not. I could defend myself for the first time. It did not matter whether it was my wife or my boss or my extended family. They began to respect me more because I was not a push over who would take responsibility for every problem that everybody had. They had their own problems. They had their own issues. You have your own problems and issues. Nobody is perfect.  

When I relieved myself from the stress of everyone else's problems, I began to work on my own. The lights, and gas are not longer turned off because I forgot to pay the bill. My manager respects me and loves the work that I do. I know that I am not stupid. I am a great person. People like me. I am not just like everybody else but some of my differences are really nice. I do not hate me any longer. My marriage is not the best but it is manageable. I know that I will live if it does not work out. I can live without her. I am not a victim. ADHD people are really great if you let them do things their way and look for the good things in ADHD. There are bad things but plenty of good things. You would not have married him if he was the same as everyone else. You chose him because he was different. 

I am glad that you have had

I am glad that you have had good results with treatment.  

I do not disagree with your perception of what was going on when your ADHD was untreated; however, I think it's possible that the statement that everyone blamed you for everything is not an accurate representation of reality.  My husband sometimes says that, and he is wrong.  He is not blamed for everything.  I don't know if the ADHD causes him to feel that he is blamed for everything or what the reason is, but it definitely is not true.  I have also noticed that he will try to accept responsibility for things that are not within his control but will not take responsibility for things that are within his control.  Again, I think this is probably related to the ADHD.  

In any case, I'm glad that your life is better now.

The problem I see

One problem I see in your comments Rosered, is that you have decided that your perception is valid and that his is not. I understand that everybody may agree with you but just because everyone agrees with you, that does not make your perception reality. It also does make his or mine reality for that matter. What we see is the product of our upbringing and later experiences. Our perception is also colored by our internal and external environment and state. The idea that I can define someone's experiences is ludicrous. Even if I was with the person 24 hours a day, I can not be that person. Imagine if some man tried to tell you that there was no discrimination against women and that they knew that what you said you experienced was not true. That may sit well with you but I do not think it would sit well with most.

There are some people who said their spouses abused them. I do not think that is ADHD. I think that is spousal abuse. 

All I meant was that it is

All I meant was that it is perhaps not true that everyone blamed you for everything.  I believe that you perceived you were being blamed for everything.  I think both could be true.

Thank you

Also, thank for being happy for me.