Find a virtual-slapper to wake up your husband and The Reason

Hello Everyone:

I'm a man in my early 40's, married 12 years, have two wonderful young boys (elementary school age) with my wife.  After last several years of anger, frustration of why we're both not happy, our marriage counseler finally got around to asking me something:  Dan, do you think you have ADD?  So after the usual procrastination a couple more months, I finally saw a psychologist.  I also have just been diagnosed in the last couple weeks that that I have ADHD and I'm now taking Strattera, so far just 1 week... but it's about 1 month too late, as my wife and I are now separated and planning to divorce.  Divorce is the consequence of ADHD in a marriage left undetected for years.

It's unfortunate the many of the posts on this Website forum say that the husbands either don't accept they have ADD/ADHD or know they have it yet still don't want to get theropy or take medications.   Frankly, these married men simply need to be slapped upside their heads by another married man that also has ADHD and does accept and has seen it's affects.   Divorce is awful for two people that loved each other, got married and had wonderful children, but broke apart over the years because of an sneaky marriage disease like ADHD.

ADHD is such a very powerful, sneaky, and vicious "disease" I call it.  It's a marriage disease, that the man having it, if he doesn't want to finally accept it and then fix it with theropy and/or meds, he is guaranteed doomed to never keep a spouse and a happy marriage.  I literally wish now I had some volunteer slapper to tell me our marriage problems was, while not 100%, is "something wrong within me, it's not her".  Now, the slapper I have, the shock in my life, is going thru a divorce.   Nobody with ADHD realizes what really matters in life, until they don't have it anymore.  Again, this is very powerful, sneaky, and vicious "disease" usually within men who are smart and strong willed and confident.  That is why we think, "hey... it can't be me."  or "this is who I am, I'm king of my world" Oh My God, how wrong we with ADHD are, somebody please slap those foolish, unwitting men with ADHD before they do more damage to their marriage and themselves (slap, figuratively of course).  They need a shock wakeup call, like separation/divorce which I'm living now.

Men with ADHD married their wives because they love them, their wives loved them.  They are each others oxygen... without a loving companion, men with ADHD cannot grow/live or be happy, but eventually sufficate if he doesn't acknowledge and fix his ADHD.   I believe the true charactor of a man... any married man with ADD/ADHD....  is shown when he doesn't fight his spouse, but he fights his ADD/ADHD.  It's not courageous to fight a loving, generous women, it's very courageous to fight a powerful, sneaky, and vicious ADHD within one's self.  Like myself, perhaps some men need to be figuratively slapped upside the head before they finally get it.

What's a quick example of how a man with ADHD effects a loving women in a marriage?  I cry everytime I see this music video, call "The Reason".   The couple love each other.  There is mutual love, therefore the girl in the video, put's her life on the line for her man.  My wife put her entire being into our marriage and I was the one taking love for granted and running her over.   I ran over my wife, though not knowingly because I let ADHD distract and fool me and I let ADHD put me first.  The question is will married men with ADHD realize and finally see what they are actually doing, what they are risking to lose?    This video has a happy ending... but someday, men with ADHD left untreated... the girl will NOT get up.

I wish you could talk to mine!

Dan, I wish my husband could read your post. We've been separated for a couple of months now, and he is obstinate in thinking that everything is my fault. He was recently diagnosed with ADD, and is going on meds.

It's heartbreaking and frustrating for me. There's the wonderful guy I married . . . under there, somewhere, trapped under this disorder. But all I get is this angry guy who was first misdiagnosed, and then diagnosed after way too much strife and suffering in the marriage. He won't even consider that his ADD was to blame for so many of our problems. The way I see it, admitting that what went on wasn't his fault--but, all the while, admitting responsibility for himself, his past actions and his future treatment, making amends, and so forth--is a perfect starting point for healing both himself and his marriage. I'd be so willing to work with that, if he came to me with an understanding heart and a real wish to make things better. But, no. That's not where he is with this, and I doubt he ever will be.

I'm being encouraged to divorce him and move on. I'm having a hard time with this right now, but I feel as though it's inevitable. How sad. I wish there was something I could do, but I've spent so long taking care of him and the marriage that I'm already running on empty. The whole world seems after me to take care of myself and forget about him. The fact that he is 100% unwilling to work on the marriage sadly clinches that.

I wish he'd reach the level of understanding you have. I pray that you're somehow able to heal your marriage. If my husband came to me and spoke as you did in your post, there's no way I'd divorce him.

Gentlemen, please don't miss the boat.

Thanks for your prayers.... you say if your husband came to you and spoke as I did in my post, there's no way you'd divorce him... that shows amazing love and strength.   He is fortunate to have that still holding on at this point.   The irony on this Web site, I read so many spouses torn by their husbands ADD but still want to save the marriage, yet the husband with the problem won't fix it.   I'm not so lucky anymore, I now have read all the posts and now understand what my ADHD has done, yet my wife will have nothing of the marriage anymore.   I missed the boat after 12 years of marriage, by just one-month and one-argument too many.  We were on a wonderful family vacation all week, and during the last few hours of trip , we had an argument over something as little as our youngest son needing to go to the bathroom.  I told my son to go pee before we leave, he said no, so not 10 minutes later, he asked to go pee. I just was giving him a firm fatherly lecture about planning ahead, but my wife interrupted... he’s just a child, etc.  I thought all week we all relaxed and had fun, the photos show us all happy, but later discovered I ignored alot and didn't help my wife much all week, which now explains the tension that last day when the argument occurred.  I was clueless of all this at the time, since was before I even talked to a doctor about ADHD, but it’s all clear now.   We both agree during the last few years of our marriage, I didn't start arguments, (I just ignored her needs) but when she started an argument, a trait of ADHD is to dive into headfirst, and I verbally exploded, said things I shouldn't have, cried and was quiet and brooded while I drove 2 hours home.   Later on, I thought we were over it as usual, another bump, but the next day... I came home from work and she told me she made the decision, we are done. I was in shock, my virtual slap upside my head.  Only then did I run towards theropy and now today know I have ADHD, is all very clear now.. she got tired of it all.  But ADHD doesn't matter now, it's not a Get Out of Jail Free card, the damage is done.  She will not wait to see me work to change with therapy and Strattera, I see now and so much want to repair the marriage, she simple wants to end it.  Missed the boat by one-month, one too many arguments.  After years of not being first, to undo the damage, she is putting herself first, then our kids... and somewhere near the bottom I'm to take care of my problem without her, though she wishes me well.  She is so very angry.  We can't talk, only text about kids, we can't hug (makes her furious if asked, so I don’t anymore)... she doesn't want to even see me or have a meal together with kids.   She found an attorney, wants couseling only how to proceed with a divorce, she just wants me out of her life and any of my words are meaningless to her.   ADHD is a confusing, sneaky, vicious disease on a marriage of two good, loving, caring people.   I hope just one husband with ADHD with still a chance reads this, understands and fights what's inside himself and does what he vowed to, honor and cherish his bride he looked so deeply and giddily at in front of his family and friends.  Gentlemen, if you still dig deep and have the love for your wife... don't let your pride and ADHD cloud or erase the reasons you made those vows.  Remember that wedding day, you would do anything for your bride… please, please do not let today, a first day towards a better life for you, be different.   You absolutely do not want to feel what I’m feeling now, don’t miss the boat for this rough but manageable ride ahead towards better waters.

Elisabeth's picture

Hi Dan,

Is there anyway you can show your wife this post?  Or do you have a mutual friend that can direct her to this site?  I only write this because about a year ago my fiance was diagnosed with ADD at 32 years of age.  To see the leaps and bounds he has made with his life in such a short time, and his (our) determination to keep on top of things makes me so proud, especially because I could see how difficult things were for him previously.  For him, the diagnosis and medication was like (his words) "lifting a blanket off my head."  He said he could suddenly see and he could suddenly understand his actions and what had hurt himself and others in his life in the past.  The day he decided to be so committed to managing his ADD is the day I decided to be just as committed in supporting him.  It does not mean there are still days when it gets to both of us, but we can't remember the last time we went to bed angry now.  I wish you the best of luck with your ADD management and also with your wife and your present situation.   Cheers, Elisabeth

lifting a blanket off my head

Hello Elisabeth:

Thanks for the comments and wishes.   I don't know if I should email her this discussion thread, but perhaps I can find a close, neutral friend to do so.  ... I already emailed her this Web site after discovering it, and she texted me back, quote "please stop emailing me on ADD".  I guessing my wife is so angry that I now even have ADHD, like... "big deal, now he has an excuse, but I'm not going to let him stop me".   This is why ADHD is so sneaky and vicious over the years undetected since it is relatively unheard of and it doesn't kill people, it just slowly kills marriages.  If ADHD was publically talked about and also killed people like cancer, all men with ADHD on this forum would rush to get therapy and medications immediately.  But ADHD doesn't kill, so some people are willing to just let it slide, brush it off, or say... yeah, whatever, tell it to somebody who cares.   My wife was the most loving, giving person I have ever met, but now she is as cold towards me as ever and wants nothing to change her mind. She is putting herself first now, that is what she told me.

What I've done (or not done for her) over the years, just being diagnosed and myself accepting having ADHD is just one-month too late.  Again, my words are meaningless to her, they upset her worse.   All I can do is love my two children and fight against the ADHD and continue daily be the good man that ADHD has hindered me.  I see exactly what your fiancé said, it's like "lifting a blanket off my head."   That's a good analogy, men accepting their ADD/ADHD, reading about it, talking about it, visiting Web sites like this about it, and willing to take therapy and medication truly do see everything in a brighter light AFTER the blanket is lifted.  I'm still very sad, alone, emotional and keep thinking back. I have my daily ups/downs and my path towards getting better is going to be longer since I don't have a supporting wife to keep my mind on course, but maybe her path will cross mine again someday.  I only know and can control my own destination.


Mylank's picture


I "slapped" my husband a few times.  It didn't work.  He is gone now and I'm trying to quickly adjust to it so I don't backslide.  However, if he acknowledged just ONCE to me that he needed help and was willing to get it I'd cave.  Try to communicate with your wife.  If it doesn't work, it doesn't, but you've tried.  Sometimes that's all we ask.

tried to communicate

Thanks for the comments.  I have tried, but she's isn't ready to listen.  She tells me to stop bringing up ADHD, she'll look into ADHD on her own whenever she is ready.  She has recently filed for legal separation, not divorce.  My wife is normally very loving and caring, but I think she is afraid at this time to change her mind, and look wishy-washy or weak to her friends and mother, an old school person that won't buy much into any ADHD baloney and is very bold women, picks openly on her husband, a gentleman, and is head of her family.  Our kids and I don't have much of a chance against that type of influence upon my wife, you can't disappoint mother...  All I can do is take care of my young kids the best I'm can and hope time heals before our kids are affected.  We would both agree, most of our arguments were started by my wife, I just usually exploded to end the arguments.  Now, I just smile whenever I see my grumpy wife when we switch between time with kids.  My psychologist thinks it's a powergrab, as with ADHD I unintentionally over the years ignored my wife, so now that she has my attention and is calling the shots and being cold to me, it's hard to let that power go.  This is cruel payback, but in reality this punishment is only making me lose my true love for her and leading to our kids (who are showing signs of ADHD themselves) of growing up with separated or eventually divorced parents.  It's a living nightmare, again why I think ADHD is sneaky and horrible marriage disease.  In my case, you just don't see it killing a marriage, until it's detected too late.   I'm doing okay, in theropy and taking Strattera and just being the best dad I can.  Time will tell how this finishes up.  Thanks.

Here is a good video about how Divorce affects Kids, produced by the NBC's Today show.

I think this story makes sense, this was my household, we simply argued all the time because of ADHD coming between us.  I hope my wife reaches out to me and works to rekindle our marriage soon before our kids are affected.  I still love my wife, she still doesn't believe or perhaps she already has lost all love for me or under the powerful negative influence of her mother and friends and it's just too late.  ADHD = what a nasty disorder!  It may defeat my marriage, a painful lesson so I won't let is defeat me.  People with ADHD hyperfocus, and I promise myself always to hyperfocus to win over this disorder and live a happy, productive life.

I share a similar story, but sadly mine was only temporary...

We discovered ours 3yrs ago, and for about 12 months out of those 3 yrs, we were cool. But little by little things began to creep back in. He said that the thought it was due to his getting used to the meds and that they weren't working as effectively. But I think it's more along the lines that the meds aren't going to "do it all" for him and that in time what he should be doing is modifying his behavior in order to beat those things that tripped him up before.

He says that it's because I'm not supportive. After 3 yrs of initially discussing side affects that (from what I can see appear to be under control) - by the way, it's also my fault that we don't talk about his meds - though it could go both ways, why does he have to wait for me to bring it up to discuss it......yet another responsibility of mine concerning him). In the begining we also talked until we're blue in the face about all the issues that marriages w/ ADD encounter, and read a couple of books.....when things began to get better, I suppose, now looking back at it, those things did kinda fall off....especially for me...but if things are better, why do we need to stay there? He says that because I don't have it, the only time it becomes *an issue* is when it's affecting me or us in some way.... Err? Doesn't that make sense though? When you are happy, you tend to stay in that happy mode until something bad happens. You don't constantly dwell on the bad stuff if you are having a good day, unless it somehow changes your day. If I don't have it, why would I be conciously aware of it everyday..... apparently he wants me to do that, and check on him everyday about it. Honestly, lest there is an issue, I don't really remember to say, "so how are those meds you've been on for the past 2 1/2 years..." Unless he presents an issues, I guess I assume they are fine because he hasn't said anything about them. Does this make me insensitive.....because that's how he paints me. 

I signed up on this site 2 yrs ago but stopped reading these posts because to me they all sounded sadly the same...they are all my story, and since I'm going through it too, what's the point? To not feel alone? What I want is how to fix it. There are coping helps I got from this site and we've attempted some of them, but they're always only temporary. If I don't keep it on the forefront of my mind and repeatedly remember to remind him, they stop. And that's unfortunate for me because I become the lead in everything as always. 

I guess the question I have is when you say "support" what exactly do you mean? Because we seem to have differing views as to what that means and he can't tell me what exactly he needs. Everything he indicates includes me BABYSITTING HIM. He's not a child and I think at some point he needs to set the reminders, write himself the post it notes, utilize the alarms in his iphone, and whatever other mechanisms needed to help him remember to do things rather than looking to me to be his crutch......because that's what his support feels like. And this has been a growing resentment in me through the years concerning this. I'm his wife, and want to be able to work in that capicity, I don't want to be responsible for him like he's also my child. Whenever I remember and do everything, everything works out, but this is stressful to me.

What does healthy support mean? Other than checking in from time to time about how he is on his meds....which is the only point that he's conveyed that I truly accept.

Can anyone help on this?  

Wow! You are amazing! I think

Wow! You are amazing! I think it is absolutely wonderful that you share your experience with others and try to make a difference in other people's lives, marriages, as well as in your life. I know that frustration with my husband having ADHD.. he loves me, he means well, but there are explosions, distance, days or weeks I'm ignored, and such hateful things are said!! We haven't been married long and have a little boy.. its just so hard to feel alone sometimes and not fully supported. I printed what you wrote in hopes that he would be open to reading it. The end of your message made me cry.. its so beautiful and I feel for you! Its hard I'm sure to live with this horrible disease that takes control over a person. You mean well and probably always wanted the best for you both and your just had to find the moment and time to take care of yourself and figure out ways to work things out best. I'm so sorry about your marriage, and wish it could work out. I think if she read this she would be deeply touched! I hope you two can find a strong friendship through this process and wish you nothing but happiness in your life. Thank you for being such a strong man to be open with all of us and to speak honestly! I truly wish you well!! No matter what all of us need to find ways to improve ourself ADHD or not.. and thats what you have done! This site is amazing to get views from other people on ways to make things better.. I'm still trying to find that place where there is a calmness and your message really touched me!!!thank you!

thank you, Kenya

Your post made me cry too, but it lifted my heart! Thank you, I feel great now and smiling. :-)  It helps me and brings peace to everything if one ADHD family can stay together, as a result of one family that cannot.   You have a little boy, I have two.  Your boy may have ADHD someday, as do mine.  My advice is to learn everything you can about ADHD, including Adult ADHD, since it will help you strengthen your current understanding that your husband does love you, and someday you perhaps may need to provide ADHD advice to your son in his relationships.   Be an ADHD expert.  Your husband however, has the most work to do.   "he loves me, he means well, but there are explosions, distance, days or weeks I'm ignored, and such hateful things are said!!"   I was the same way.  For things to work well, your husband needs to be an ADHD expert, plus implement the changes on himself, which is incredibly hard.  He needs meds, therapy, coaching, self awareness, and the all important "will power" to keep the ADHD traits in check.  What helps is the love, understanding and support of a wife.  I don't have that now, but he still does!  I'm excited for him! But he must not take you for granted, so after he truly understands his ADHD, he will always feel amazed that you stayed... relative to the unintentional pain he caused to you.  Men are impressed with strength when they see it, not physical strength, just strength.  Someday, I hope he sees all that emotional weight he put your thru.  When he sees everything his ADHD has done, he'll say to himself. "Wow, my wife carried all of that, and she didn't break?"  He will see you as the strongest person in the world and will have the highest respect of  you.   A marriage needs Love and Respect.  Love is a wonderful emotion, if there is love in your marriage, GREAT.  Respect comes from Strength:  strength is courage, forgiveness, understanding, knowledge, will power, etc.... none of these are physical, so they are something we all could have.  Keep your love, show your strength, and if your ADHD spouse is able to remove the blinders of ADHD, your family will see itself as the most fortunate in the world.  I'm excited for your family!

Thank you for your kind

Thank you for your kind words! It is really nice to actually talk to someone experiencing the affects of ADHD. My husband came home today after a few days of arguing and mean mean comments, some that are unforgiveable.. He was open to seeing if I needed to  get anything done after working all morning, also read the posting you had and continued reading on.. it was comforting and just that bit of effort took some weight off my shoulders and showed that he really does care. I just would like to see that acknowledgement of strength and respect you mention he will have for me someday and sooner rather than later. I wish you the best of luck! As you said I'm trying to really educate myself the best I can and know that it may be a possibility for my son to have it too. It just gets hard sometimes and feels like your world is going to fall apart and the person who should be supportive, loving and your "rock" should be no matter what through good times or bad. I'm sure you know this feeling all too well. Thank you for your response. I appreciate you uplifting me as well and speaking such words of wisdom that my husband read and felt a similarity too.. He liked what you had said about Thomas Edison:) lol.. thanks again and best of luck. I hope to talk w/ you again on this site.. it seems to be very helpful and give me another view to what a man with ADHD goes through.

Hi Dan....

I think I'm going to send my husband your post and see if he'll read it.  He's been in denial of his ADHD for years (I suspected it well before it was confirmed by a doctor) and is still not seeking treatment.  I've decided on a separation as I'm now convinced that he'll never put his wife and family first (we have three kids).  It's heartbreaking and pointless...why would anyone risk losing his family over such a thing?  I'm tired of being taken for granted, dictated to, controlled, lied to, verbally abused and made to feel unworthy and just plain stupid.  I matter....I count.  My husband had a great thing...a wife who truly loved him and went above and beyond because of it.  It was never reciprocated.  So very sad.  I'm just so tired of talking to a brick wall...he's unmoving, unbending and as usual, convinced he's always right.  "Slapping" wouldn't have any effect in this case.....brick walls don't feel anything. :(

I wish you all the best, Dan.  I do hope that things work out for you and your wife.  I will keep you in my prayers for smoother days.

I would do anything to go back in time and slap myself.

Thanks Flower Lady...   It's incredible how ADHD families have very similar stories, so many families... and likely why the very reason this Web site exists.  It's almost eerie.  I read your post and wanted to reply.  The thing that stood out in your post that my wife told me was the biggest reason she had enough, was the verbal abuse.  Not so much 4 letter words (I never cuss in public or mixed company, I think those boorish people in bars or ball games are jerks), but just between her and me I would use sharply stinging replies or dramatic gestures to retaliate against her when I noticed she getting annoyed with me.  I was always minding my own business and always thinking to myself then would eventually say to her, 'what's your problem?' Next thing we knew, we're both going at it verbally, and I knew how to play that terrible game more than she did.  In our household I at least thought it was 50/50 before I knew I had ADHD.  In reality, with ADHD it was really 90/10 my problem, even thought she started most of our arguments.  Yes, she started most of our arguments, so I was thinking 50/50 pre-discovery of ADHD, but post-discovery of ADHD I finally saw it was 90/10 my fault due to ADHD.  Weird, huh?  Yes, this ADHD is a one heck of a nasty sneaky disorder for an unknowing married couple.   I don't mind admitting having ADHD and taking 90/10 blame.  Hey, 10 percent was still her fault... she nagged!  ...which sounds like 50% the wife's fault to any man.  So, I accept 90% blame now, it's a relief finally knowing why we argued so much, and now I'm hyperfocusing to fix it.  I don't want be known as too weak to fight my ADHD, just as if it was cancer or diabetes.  ADHD, Cancer, Diabetes... all three kill families on way or another.  Having ADHD doesn't make me a bad person.  My wife is not a bad person... we were just two loving people that wasted years not knowing what the heck is going on in the other persons head.  My wife accepts I have ADHD, but the verbal abuse over the years added up too much, she can't heal now.  I wish I could go back in time and slap myself upside the head and tell myself, Dan, you have ADHD... it's okay, a lot of good, smart people do too... just control the bad part of ADHD and shine on the good part of ADHD.  I wish all these years I would have kissed, talked equally and helped my wife more often than escaping by burying my head in my laptop night and day working and not seeing the world soon collapsing around me.  I really had no idea then but I clearly see it now, a bit too late.  Time will tell.  Thanks and take care. If your husband is smart like most ADD/ADHD men are, hopefully he'll accept and address ADD/ADHD like a light-bulb going on. I say that as a pun, knowing Thomas Edison, one of America's brightest minds, was said to also have ADD/ADHD.   We're in good company.  :-)

Keeping you in my thoughts

Hey, Dan -

Just wanted to send you a note of encouragement. I hope you're still fighting the good fight. Don't give up. Your sort of commitment to working on the ADD and fixing your marriage is rare.

(And, please, send some of those rare vibes in my husband's direction! ;-)

 I hope your wife can see what you're trying to do and work with you. Hang in there. I'm keeping you in my prayers.

thank you...

Thank you BreadBaker.  It worth fighting the good fight... it's not just about me, while I do love my wife, it's also about our two innocent boys that deserve the best opportinity in life and they too may have ADHD issues they will need advice with and patience with someday.  This is a good video, from the NBC Today show:  Should you stick it out for the kids?

I wholly agree with the video, I hope we can stick it out. We're both good people, our problems are fixable no matter what it takes, no matter how much time.  Thank you for your prayers, there are a lot of good people in the world.


Dan, it was very generous of

Dan, it was very generous of you to even tell this story when you cannot personally gain from having torn it all out like this.  I hope you do help someone out there change before their spouse hits that point of no return.

Unfortunately, your story is probably a common one. Often, it was the very fact that the spouse walked out that finally prompted the ADD/ADHD'er to address their issues.  What's left on the non-ADHD spouse's side is that when it all negatively affected you, then you elected to do something about it. When the non-ADHD spouse was in pain all of those years, it was unimportant for you to seek out help.

I could show my own ADHD husband your post and it would most likely drive him to tears.  Yet, I'm at the point at which I wouldn't even be sure why the tears were coming in the first place.  The only reason my husband sought help for his ADHD was because I had told him that I had briefly considered killing us both, because I realized that killing only myself would leave our son to his care - which would surely mean that our son would be dead within a year too.

And I'm in therapy.  I'm actually not depressed. My consideration wasn't planned or concrete. It was an expression of the degree of despair I was feeling.

My husband sought help that week.  It would do no good, because now I know that the only reason he sought help was because - no matter how intangible the actual plan - in words, his very life was threatened. That's all that will ever stay with me as the reason he sought help.  The years I spent lying on the floor bleeding to death were meaningless to him.  You can't wait until someone is actually out the door - or theoretically holding a shotgun to your head - until you decide that things are jacked up enough for you now for you to finally seek help in not hurting your spouse any longer.  Under such conditions, there will be absolutely no way of convincing the other person that it wasn't the enormous damage now done to you that was really the motivator.



Thanks FabTemp, I see what you are saying, but  I think there are at least two kinds of ADHD'ers.  One that finally discovers their ADHD and want to fix it, and one that just doesn't care.  I didn't know I had it until about two month ago now... I was miserable for years too, cried after arguments, confused and thought how my wife would feel if I died unexpectedly (she wouldn't nag me anymore then, I thought).  I, like many people, have a slight fear of flying turbulence, but when my wife and I would argue and then I would travel for a business trip, I would smile confidently during the turbulence and say to myself, "come on, take this plane crashing down".  I was miserable until I discovered my ADHD.  Someone cannot fix what they don't know they have, an unknowing ADHD'ers just thinks it's 50/50 his/her fault and is frustrated just as much as the spouse.   That is why ADHD is so sneaky upon the man that doesn't know he has it, he brain truly cannot compute it's 90/10 his fault, he stuck thinking it's still 50/50 and thinks why do I have to be the only one to change?  I honestly thought I was the victim too, I worked hard for the family and provided... I guess I just married someone that turned from sweet to a sour nag.  It's a terrible cloud.  The other type of ADHD'er is someone that doesn't care or fully knows they have ADHD, but just refuse to fix it... they want to be an old dog and are too set in their old ways... those are the people that may need the shotgun approach and are looking out just for themselves.  Perhaps, those are the spouses that are truly lost causes and deserve a divorce, but there are a lot of good people with ADHD that don't deserve a divorce, but it was just bad luck and gone undiagnosed to long to prevent a divorce.  Again, it's a nasty, sneaky disorder hidden inside of many for years, it is not a disorder we chose to have but we have a choice to address ADHD after it's finally diagnosed.  Only then, there are two ways a man with ADHD can go with it. 

But, oh, that second type . . .

Dan, I agree, and I think that most of us non-ADD spouses in the forum are dealing with a variation on the second category.  From some of the descriptions left by other posters in the forum, it would seem that there are some ADDers who understand that the condition is causing them problems, but that otherwise it's up to everyone around them to adjust, reorganize their lives around them, and quit their complaining.

For the rest of your post, I know that I keep saying this, but "me, too." Or, I should say "him, too," on pretty much everything. I used to think that these coincidences were spooky, but I think that you and my husband just have similar personalities. You're both fundamentally kind, decent, intelligent guys who were caught up in something they didn't understand. The difference, though, is that you're really taking the bull by the horns in terms of your marriage. My husband is too stubborn and proud for that. In order to make this work, he'd have to man up in front of friends and family--he'd have to set the record straight about what really happened instead of publicly blaming me or some vague notion of incompatibility. He's a good guy, but I don't see him doing this. It's sad to see someone throw away a marriage for reasons such as this, but if looking like "the good guy who left the bad wife" or "the good guy who left the bad marriage" is more important to him than me or the marriage itself--and the truth of the matter--then he wasn't ever going to be a great husband, ADD or no, and I deserve better.

I really hope that you can heal your marriage, Dan. I'm praying for you.

men are from mars, women are from venus

Thanks BreadBaker...  Yes, I agree... likely your husband and I have similar personalities as men/mars, women/venus and nobody likely on this forum is a monster.   I love my wife but really keep at it because I have two young boys in the middle of this, so I'm taking the bull by the horns in terms of the marriage no matter what, since I had my mom and dad in same household when I grew up, they argued too but eventually loved each other enough to keep going to 50 year anniversary, till my dad passed last year.   So I believe my kids should have the same I had growing up, two good parents in one household.  If we didn't have kids, it may be a different path we may take but we do have kids so why talk hypothetical.... I see the pros/cons and it is worth it for me today, not for my wife at this time (I understand this, since she was the non-ADHD spouse). But my plan is do all I can just for the sake of our kids and if my wife someday truly finds enough love to work with and starts rebuilding with me someday, all the better I pray. At least I know I tried and can look my kids in the eye 25 years from now and tell them, god forbid if they develop the same ADHD marriage issues, to try too.


Going thru all of your posts, Dan, is eerie....the similarities are striking.  My husband falls into that later category and for years made me feel that I was the problem in the marriage...I was the 90, he was the 10.  It took a very long time for me to see the truth.  I did lots of reading, internet surfing and talking to others before I realized what was really going on.  It also took years for me to get my husband to see a doctor, and when the doctor confirmed that he likely had ADHD, my husband was still in denial...hearing what he only wanted to hear.  That still continues.  Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover what I'm feeling.  I reached a point a few years ago where instead of begging him to stay when he threatened to walk out, I'm holding the door wide open.  After breast cancer, 21 years of an autoimmune disease and kids with disabilities of their own, I need his untreated ADHD like a hole in the head.  I'm exhausted and am putting myself first.  It was a long time coming for me, but I'm very proud of myself for taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, and realizing that I cannot save my husband or my marriage if he doesn't want to "own" his health problem and treat it. 

He refuses to talk about anything of critical importance....conversations stay focused on household chores and other mundane matters.  I don't know how anyone...ADHD or not....can continue to avoid meaningful conversations with as much skill as he can.  He's the master.   His father passed away two weeks ago and my husband never cried, showed any sadness or even talked about it much.  It's almost like his father never existed at all.  It's not only sad, but kind of creepy.  Dan, I know you don't know me or my husband, but what do you think that's about??  Is it that emotional distance is safer, or is it that the emotion just doesn't exist at all?  My husband seems so disconnected from human feelings that it spooks me.  The only emotion he easily expresses is anger and impatience...he's got those down pat.  I actually used to be afraid of him...not because he would or did physically abuse me...but because his contempt and disgust made me feel about as big as a bug.  That's gone now, but the memories remain. 

Somehow, the scars on my body from my own physical battles are not nearly as painful as the scars on my heart.  They might be invisible, but oh do they hurt.  :(


It is eerie how the similarities are striking. My husband had the same thinking on who's fault it was for all of our problems. It wasn't until his diagnosis almost three years ago that he realized that most of our problems were because of him.  I believe he still has a big problem accepting it and refuses to begin to do the hard work necessary to make life better for himself. I keep hoping someday he will get there.

My husband can't talk about anything of critical importance either. My husband is great at avoiding conversations he knows need to be handled.

Funny you mention the fact that your husband never showed any sadness or cried when his father died. My husband didn't either. Yet, when one of our animals has died, he cries like a baby???? He also cries if someone elses animal dies, even when he doesn't really know the people or the animal very well. Bizarre!!!!!

I used to be afraid of my husband too when he would express anger and impatience but as I grew older I became bolder and finally stood up to him during these outbursts and I think it actually took him by surprise that I was no longer going to take the heat. We were then able to talk about his anger and what effect it had on me and other people he would get angry at. Luckily, his counselor worked on this problem and my husband has improved tremendously.  Now, if we can only make some progress in many of the other areas.......

I'm at the same point in my relationship in that my husband is fully aware that our door is wide open, too.  Any talk of walking out is met with "there's the door".  It is just sad that this crazy disorder has brought our lives to this point.   

emotion - or lack thereof

My husband doesn't talk about anything of importance either.  Conversations are always about "safe" things - what needs to get done today, kids' schedules, dog, etc. If I even bring up anything that might involve emotion, I watch his eyes glaze over.  

I've asked him about this and his reply was that he's applying for jobs and not getting any responses so had to shut himself off emotionally.  I told him that I do understand the need to do that while job searching, but I'm not a job, I'm not an application, I'm his wife, and I need some emotion from him.  All the while, his eyes glazed over again and he just stared out into space, looking blank.  It's very frustrating and painful to give yourself emotionally to someone and not get anything (emotionally) in return.  

"Wow" from me as well


jgf and newfdogswife, it really is amazing how similar our husbands are! I used to go crazy trying to get my husband to think of anything more important than breakfast. And sometimes even that was a stretch. Poor guy. He'd look like his brain was going to explode when I would try to discuss housework or finances with him.

My husband interpreted his reluctance to deal with any of these things as proof that he didn't love me and we shouldn't be married. I think that's why he left. I've been devastated, and am still struggling with what the therapist, friends, family, other ADD sufferers, and other non-ADD spouses have been telling me: It wasn't me, it was his ADD, and that our marriage didn't stand a chance without diagnosis, treatment, and his taking responsibility for himself.

I miss and mourn the husband and the marriage that should have been. I wish I weren't being driven to divorce him in order to live.


tracsport's picture

emotion....the lost art of showing you care.

I think just recently, when my wife let did I start to really explore my emotions. I cried briefly when my father died in May, but when i was there with my mom and family, I didnt cry just felt was hard to describe. When my wife left me, I cried, and sobbed and felt like my word was over...I just experienced the birth of my son in November, and my daughter is 3, and one of the joys in my life. My wife and her family who visited often said I never smiled, showed any emotion, just sat there like a bump on the log...grumpy so to speak. The glazing over, I bet that was part of it as well. Over the last few weeks, I have cried, laughed, been angry (my psychologist called my wife and messages were mixed, or not what either one told me earlier...)...I am frustrated and hurt and the emotions are flying around me now, more then they ever have. I got to spend a day with my family after christmas...and even then my wife said I have not changed, I have not gotten better, I still did not smile, did not laugh, or have a good time. I was so happy to see them....I get all flustered...and its hard to take whats in my heart........and transfer it so others can feel it, see it, experience it..........I know growing up in a family that did not show alot of emotion or touchy feely things was a part of who I am, but I do feel joy, saddness, happiness, being angry..the whole 9yds...but havent a clue sometimes I dont show it. My intentions are always good, but either come out bad or dont come out at all...........I really like this posting..and the comments that have been made on it. Am i scared now......i sure am............but I have to start somewhere....just hope its not too late. My wife wants a normal life......I hope I can at least meet her somewhere down this direction :)

Keep up the great posts...


not too late

Yes, I believe that our parents or our environment that we all grew up in, have a huge impact on our marriages.    ADHD is the root, and how we’re raised compounds it.   ADHD’ers hyper-focus.   If we were raised and learned as children to do something or not do something, we hyper-work as ADHD adults and therefore hyper-focus to do or not do something.   Someday, I hope your wife will see this.  You can change, smart people are able to change when they discover their ADHD is hurting a family.    My wife doesn’t see this, she doesn't even understand ADD or ADHD, she doesn't care to. Plus perhaps she was raised to be very unforgiving.   The other day, she talked to my mom, and she said "Dan has an illness".   OMG, that shows she still doesn't get ADD, my wife calling ADD an illness is very short sighted and an insult to our 2 children, who also now been diagnosed with ADD.  ADD and ADHD is not an illness, people with ADHD (my kids and me) are not ill, we're are not sick.  They are healthy, bright, good kids. It's a disorder, with definition means "lack of order or regular arrangement" ... ADD is something not typical.  Again, perhaps not her fault, but something she learned as a child to be unforgiving. Our environment as a pre-adult, is so significant in our adulthood.   Having the smarts to undo what we learned as a child separates success from failure and I believe we can do succeed.  It's not easy, but focusing on something important, like your love for your family and your marriage or just doing it for yourself, will keep you on track to make your changes in yourself, permanent.    

aking2's picture

Dan, you have described the

Dan, you have described the end of my 28 year marriage. Last summer she
finally said that she was going to sleep in another bedroom. I decided
that I would go live at my parents and give her some space and time
alone. Of course I did this without any discussion with her. I thought
things would settle down if she didn't have to see me everyday. About
a week later she called to discuss bills. I went back to the house, we
went through the pile of bills and at the bottom she shows me a
lawyers bill for our divorce.
I felt like a balloon that just popped! I hugged her, she hugged me
and said to me that she felt like she was losing her best friend. But
I realized that she had not said she was losing her husband, and with
shoulders slumped I walked out the front door. I figured that I had
used up all of my second chances and that the least I could do was
leave without making it anymore painful for her.  As you and so many others have related in these blogs, I couldn't understand that this was her attempt to "slap me harder than ever."
You see already in our marriage I was addicted to porn, had previously
stolen from my employer, been caught and luckily only got deferred
adjudication. Then on my last job I got fired for starting my own competing business.  I was threatened with a lawsuit for a sizable sum.  Once again she drafted the response letter that ended the lawsuit threat.  She was convinced that every time she got a promotion I
would act out and try to sabotage or at least embarrass her. She was
steadily moving up in her law enforcement career while I achieved very
little. Yes, I admit that there was a bit of a jealousy by me toward
her success. I just could not understand how I could be unable to
succeed at anything I tried. Failure seemed to be my middle name.
Then to add insult to the injury of distraction during sex, the diabetic ED kicked in.
In the past our sex life had been adequate with me usually able to
achieve a traditional orgasm but only after a long time. But I prided
myself on the fact that she very much enjoyed our love-making, so at
least I seemed to be good at something. But the ED and then Pyriones
Disease took away whatever pleasure I had received from sex. Even with
Viagra and the others, I was unable to achieve an orgasm other than by
masturbation.  She began to take my inability as a personal inadequacy by her.
My porn addiction was running rampant, with not just straight, but also gay
and bisexual websites. I began to doubt my sexual identity and told
her that I believed I was a bisexual. This obviously now was too much
for her to take on. She became convinced that I was leading a double
life as a gay male and that was the reason I could not maintain an
erection during sex. She believed that I was denying my inner self.
We each went to marriage counselors, mine being rather inept I feel.
Hers was another matter. We met with hers for a couples session and I
felt like I was being interrogated by the police. I immediately became
evasive and angry and never went back to see this therapist with her.  I know that this therapist was telling her to divorce me because she would occassionally breakdown crying and ask why I kept lying to her about my real self.
So here I am a year later with a surprise diagnosis of ADD, which really
explained a lot of my childhood as well as my adulthood. Interestingly I have told several oldtime acquaintances about my ADD and they thought I knew it all along.  They could see it and assumed that we both knew about it.  I have found
a therapist who is going to combine neuralfeedback and standard
counseling to help me get to a serviceable level of a life again.
Only now I am really all alone. All of our friends were her friends,
all of our family was her family, and I don't want to be a burden on
my only daughter who is recently married and expecting their second
child. She doesn't know any of this family history.
Thanks to everyone for sharing themselves in this blog. I am hoping by putting
this down on paper publicly that I can begin to heal somewhat.  As usual I am rambling, but in short Dan I understand and fervently hope that you guys get the opportunity to try and heal together.

thanks for writing this

Dan, your contribution is so good that I am going to print this thread for my defiant SO

thank you

Thank you.  Just you being on this Web site, says a lot about your character.  Lots of people and families in this world are affected by ADD/ADHD and it seems the best way to find peace is to talk openly and learn more about it.  People can choose to run from it or let it run them... I choose to face it head on.   One of my favorites:  God give me the strength to change the things I can, the patience and serenity to accept the things which I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Best of luck to you.


Thanks so much Dan


I wanted to thank you so much for this post and all the other comments you have posted over the last few weeks. It has opened my eyes and made me realize that no matter how much my ex-husband blamed me, a big part of our problem was his unknown ADHD.

Divorce is the consequence of ADHD in a marriage left undetected for years.

This statement is so true in my case.  I was married to my husband for 7 years before things fell apart. When our 2nd child was only 2 months old he seemed to go off the deep end.  He said he felt trapped like I was trying to box him in. Really what I wanted was for him to be responsible and pay more attention to his family.  He is a bona fide workaholic.  He put work above all else in his life even his family. I spent much of the marriage angry and frustrated.  After several angry tantrums displayed early on by him in the marriage over things that were really small, I learned to just keep my mouth shut.  This caused me to act in passive-agressive ways to show him my anger and frustration because again, I knew that any attempt to communicate with him in an adult manner would start World War 3. My behavior towards him to show my anger was the silent treatment. It worked but I realize now it contributed to the break-down of communication in the marriage. He moved out when our youngest was only 6 months old all the while blaming me for his reasons for wanting to leave.  Later I discovered an affair.  He at no time appeared to want to return.  Looking back I think he just did not want the responsibility of a family nor could he handle it. He wanted to basically be free to work all the time and revert to acting like a teenage boy.

I think of Adult ADHD as a phantom disease because it can be hard to even know it is there.  I dated my husband almost 8 years before we got married and then was married to him 7 years before he left.  He was not hyperactive but basically was a workaholic and seemed to always be on the go.  Therefore I never knew there was an issue.  I just thought he did not care and liked to work.  Knowing now the symtoms of ADHD there were so many signs that this was going on (Always on the go, always losing things, disorganized, bad with finances, impulsive, distracted, quick temper etc...) I think he got bored with the marriage way before I even realized it.  The reality of married life was not half as much fun as the fantasy he had in his mind of what marriage and family was supposed to be like. It was not until this past Spring (2 years post separation) when my 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, that he and I both realized that he had ADHD as well.  He realized he had struggled with it his whole life. So just like you, it went undetected and I realize it was a huge factor in the demise of our marriage. It was the start of a healing for me.  I was able to really stop blaming myself for everything and start to realize that there was an undetected "disease" in our marriage. I still have a way to go in order to heal all the way and to get my self esteem in a good place but so many questions have been answered and so so much makes sense now that did not make sense over the life of the marriage.

Nobody with ADHD realizes what really matters in life, until they don't have it anymore.  They need a shock wakeup call, like separation/divorce which I'm living now.

I found these statements to be both enlightening and interesting.  My Ex seems to have moved on with his life like nothing ever happened. He has basically lost his wife and 2 beautiful daughters and he seems un-fazed. He has moved his new girlfriend into our old family home.  The only home my daughters ever knew.  They now have to visit him there, with another woman living there.  It is totally against how he was raised (in a strong christian home) and what I thought he believed.  He seems to care less how his actions are affecting his children, family or me.  Do you really think he realizes what matters in life now that he does not have it anymore? He had both separation and divorce and he appears to be falling further and further off the moral compass.  He appears to not be remorseful in the least about what he has done or lost.  I would like your insight into what he might be thinking or why he is doing the things he is doing? I saw in one of your other posts that not all ADHD Spouses are cheaters and that some are just bad apples.  So would you say that infidelity is more based on bad character and morals than something caused by impulsiveness and the need for constant stimulation? 

Like myself, perhaps some men need to be figuratively slapped upside the head before they finally get it.

I agree that my Ex probably does need to be slapped upside the head.  I go back and forth between anger for him and empathy for him.  He knows now that he has ADHD and yet he is doing nothing to treat it.  He told me that he thinks it benefits him because he can get alot more done than the average person.  What he does not realize is that his inability to focus is causing him to miss out on the beautiful things in life because he can not calm his brain long enough to pay attention to them.  His children, his family, a beautiful sunset, a walk in the woods enjoying the sounds of nature, reading a good book and so many more things too numerous to list.  He is missing "life" and that is so sad to me.

Dan I respect you so much for your honesty.  It is so good to hear from a person with ADHD(especially a man) and that you do get it and you do want to try to change. Just the acknowledgement that you need to make changes is a huge step.  Don't give up with your situation.  You never know how God can turn things around.  He is almighty and all powerful and he can work miracles.  Just continue to pray.

I found the Lyrics to the song the Reason and I think they are really deep.  Just the fact that you would relate those words to yourself and your situation is a huge step and a beautiful thing.  Here are the words for those that have never heard the song before:

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with every day
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
That's why I need you to hear

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you [x4]

I'm not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I've found a reason to show
A side of me you didn't know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

Thanks Dan


thank you.

Thank you for your comments, Ann2222.  Like I believe of everyone posting here, just being on this Web site, says a lot about your character.   I don't know your ex husband entire history, but I do know that ADHD is a very powerful and blinding disorder upon the person having it and the spouse/family it affects.  Hence this very site exists for a reason, correct?   ADHD may have something to do with his behavior, but also all men should have hearts.  If he's showing little or no heart, it's has to be something other than ADHD.   Thanks for posting those words from the song, it means a lot.  ADHD'er are not all bad traits, we usually do have big hearts when it's not clouded and we all have non-ADHD issues too... I still don't know why, but ever since a young teen, I had tears at every wedding I've ever attended, it's embarrassing.

These are good traits of ADD/ADHD found from  We don't lose these good traits but the BAD traits eventually override or hide the GOOD in a ADD/ADHD marriage.  I think I have about 22 of the 24, but that doesn't matter much in my marriage, my wife considers them a hindrance now.

1. Insomnia makes for more time to stay up and surf the net.
2. The drive of HYPERFOCUS.
3. Resiliency.
4. A sparkling PERSONALITY.
5. Generosity with money, time, and resources.
7. A strong sense of what is FAIR.
8. Willingness to take a RISK.
9. Making far-reaching analogies that no one else understands.
11. Possessing the mind of a Pentium—with only 2 MBs of RAM.
12. Pleasant and constant surprises due to finding clothing (or money or spouses) you had forgotten about.
13. Being FUNNY.
14. Being the last of the ROMANTICS.
15. Being a good conversationalist.
16. An innately better understanding of intuitive technologies, such as computers or PDAs.
17. Honestly believing that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
18. Rarely being satisfied with the status quo.
19. Compassion.
20. Persistence.
21. Joining the ranks of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and other creative types.
22. Always being there to provide a different PERSPECTIVE.
23. Willingness to fight for what you believe in.
24. Excellence in MOTIVATING OTHERS.

Hope a few spouses can remember back when these traits mattered and at least can recall some good memories.  Moving forward, I wish the best of luck to all families, and hope many more good memories can still be made.

arwen's picture

anything to excess can be bad

Dan, I'm afraid that I have to differ with you somewhat regarding this list of traits.  I agree that these are traits typically displayed by people with ADD/ADHD, but I don't agree that they are intrinsically good -- just like a little candy is a great enjoyment, too much is a bad thing.  A certain amount of hyperfocus can be good -- too much can be a problem.  A certain amount of willingness to take risk can be good -- too much can be extremely dangerous.  I think a fair amount of the conflict between partners with ADD and partners without ADD is the differences in where they draw the line between "enough" and "too much" of these traits.  In my experience, the partner with ADD often doesn't recognize that "too much" is even possible. 

yes, I agree Arwen, things in moderation are good

Yes, I agree, everything should be kept in check.  A glass of wine or spirits for centuries is acceptable, too much frequency is alcoholism.  Food is a necessity to sustain life, but too much is obesity and health problems (unless you are Michael Phelps, with a 12,000 calorie per day diet... sorry, one of the traits had to kick in there.)

What matters... are these traits kept in check pre or post-discovery of ADHD?   Pre-ADHD discovery, someone may have no idea they are rubbing someone the wrong way, overtaking a conversation, focusing too much, etc... the traits may therefore not be kept in check but rather cause new or increased conflict.   Post-discovery of ADHD, it's up to the person having ADHD to say to him/herself... I better slowdown and really think about this.  It doesn't make that person right or wrong, it just makes them think first, which is always important for everyone to do.   I like the baseball saying, "Swing hard in case you hit it"...  that is what many ADHD people believe and do.  And I also believe the Yogi Berra quote, "You can't think and hit at the same time."   Thinking first brings success, success without thinking is just luck or God given.   Now, everytime my ADHD may pop-up its head too often, at least now I know what to look for and can think and act to moderate it.

As the non ADHD spouse, who's

As the non ADHD spouse, who's been living with a just diagnosed parter for 7 years, I felt compelled to add a few things to these statements, just to show that while they can be positives, living with them long term can turn them into a negative.


1. Insomnia makes for more time to stay up and surf the net. <- Leaving a partner alone while they wonder why you don't want to come to bed with her/him

2. The drive of HYPERFOCUS. <- And ignoring the important things, like family or finances. 

3. Resiliency. <- Which is so strong it can often come across as not caring

5. Generosity with money, time, and resources. <- That are usually better spent elsewhere. For example, treating friends to dinner when the phones have been cut off

7. A strong sense of what is FAIR. <- Fair for you. Not for every one else. 

8. Willingness to take a RISK. <- With financial stability, safety and relationships. Or stupid risks that you'd expect a teenager or young adult to make. 

9. Making far-reaching analogies that no one else understands. <- Really, what's the point if nobody understands you. 

17. Honestly believing that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. <- Despite realistic evidence to the contary. 

18. Rarely being satisfied with the status quo. <- Even if everything is running smoothly and doesn't need to be changed. 

20. Persistence. <- Sometimes you need to know when to give up

21. Joining the ranks of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and other creative types. <- There's no value in this if nothing comes of it

22. Always being there to provide a different PERSPECTIVE. <- While totally ignoring the perspective of others

23. Willingness to fight for what you believe in. <- While running down what others believe in

24. Excellence in MOTIVATING OTHERS. <- Whether they want to be or not. 



reply to Astrea

Brilliant post Astrea!  Like many ADHD characteristics, they are great in a casual acquaintance type of relationship, but cause so many problems when you are in a life long interdependent relationship like marriage.


I'm sorry to read this, Astrea

Hello Astrea:

Sorry to read your bitterness, Astrea, but I can understand.  Yes, I think everyone here on this Web site already understands the negatives of ADHD... hence why they are here on this Web site in the first place.   If your ADHD spouse has not yet been to this site, try to get him/her here.   Of all the posts on this entire site, 90% of them, especially under this category, "Anger, Frustration & ADHD", are negative.    Negativity breeds negativity, plus it's easier to bring down than to build up (the Twin Towers can be demolished in hours, which took years to construct).   I understand the reason for bitterness, some can understand more than others, some people can forgive more than others too.   I also understand too much of any good thing, is bad too.  The 24 points listed, of course, could all be negative to a certain degree...  It doesn't take brilliance, since I could also easily find negatives in the 10 "good items" that you omitted.   So, are they really good?   It's all a matter of perspective and again, all of us on this Web site already have seen the negative perspectives from 90% of the posts.   I'm sorry the list of 24 good ADHD traits offended you.   The list is intended to show someone diagnosed with ADHD, this is what they have, now make sound choices to either build up things or let it destroy you and people around you.   Again, people on this site already know ADHD can easily destroy, hence why they are here.  It's using ADHD to build up... that is the hard part.  Nuclear energy can be dangerous and could destroy so much, but when used properly nuclear energy has many great advantages for the world.  Does man-kind ban all nuclear energy? Or does man-kind understand it more and harness it for good?   The debate could go on forever, but I tend to always move forward, while learning from the mistakes of the past.   Ten years from now, ADHD will be better understood by all.   God, I hope so, as my children have ADHD and I don't want them living my same mistakes of not knowing or ridiculed or made fun-of, or looked down upon for having been born with ADHD.   I just want them to benefit and move onward from their strengths or weaknesses that God and their parents gave them.   I love my dear kids so much, they must not look at ADHD as a negative only.  I must teach them thoughout their lives to control the negatives that ADHD brings, and focus on the 24 positives in moderation for the benefit of all, especially for their future spouse and for a happy marriage.

You are one of the already 90% of the stories proving ADHD can destroy.  I hope people can add more stories of how ADHD can build, which is more challenging to do.  I'm feel bad for you and understand you, as you never signed up for that, you got the bad deal.   To forgive, I hope someday you can understand more about ADHD, even though to truly understand it, is to have ADHD yourself or study both sides of the argument for years.   My wife filed for divorce the very month I was finally diagnosed.   I realized it will take years for her to finally understand and forgive; it's unfortunate, but I accept that.  Much like understanding alcoholism or addiction, I bet the best counselors for alcoholism and drug addicts are former alcoholics/addicts, only they truly understand that person's mind (perhaps with the exception of a PHD in Psychology, who spent years talking with them).  My wife is not an expert in ADHD, but she wasn't supposed to be... this is not her fault, she didn't sign up for this either, I feel bad for what all happened... divorce is sad for me, but it's forgiven.   ADHD is a terrible, sneaky "marriage disease", unfair and nasty to all involved in the marriage.  All must be understood, then forgiven someday, especially when children involved.  In arguments, my wife has called me "evil".  Uncontrolled ADHD is evil, uncontrolled nuclear energy is evil, anything not understood by those negatively affected by something is evil.    I am in pain, but I'm not evil, nor is my wife, nor is anyone I know.  My parents raised me better than to be evil or hang around evil people.  Therefore simply...  "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  That applies to everyone within an ADHD Marriage.

Please seek professional help and therapy with someone with years of working with clients with ADHD, read ADHD books, read posts and blogs of both ADHD and non-ADHD people, get spiritual help... do whatever you can... when you are ready to start healing.  You might not be ready now, but someday for a happy life, you need to get help for yourself of the trauma you've gone thru.   Right now you are may be bitter and just want revenge, that is understood and forgiveable, but you must not let that destroy you, bitterness will eat you alive if you let it.  All good people want peace, to have peace is to forgive, and to forgive is to understand.   Understand ADHD first, you will then forgive someday, then you will have Peace!   Peace be with you.


    - Pope John Paul II, the Vatican, December 8, 2001


Dan, Your post has a lot of


Your post has a lot of good insight when you point out how poisonous negativity can be. You were able to really articulate a point for me when it comes to looking at every ADHD trait as negative and the overall damage that can do (I strugle with finding the positives with ADHD because I was not able to make my partnership work). I really appreciate that.

I will encourage you however to understand the nonADHD partners perspective as well. You encourage Astrea to learn all she can about ADHD so she may begin the forgiveness process but, from what I hear, it seems as if you are overlooking the nonADHD aspect. Whereas is may be correct she is bitter (I am not speaking for you Astrea) you assume that she is not doing all she can to understand ADHD. What may come across to you as bitter may simply be complete and utter exhaustion from her ADHD spouse and their marriage.

You correctly point out that unless one is an alcoholic or drug addict then how can one possibly understand that state of mind. But is it not also true that when someone starts "fixing" their "disease" that has hurt their loved ones for many years, it takes many years for the healing process of the loved ones to be complete?

Just as we do not know what occurs in an ADHD brain, you (and other ADHDers) unfortunately don't fully see the pain your actions caused. Many times it is not easy to get over, at all. I left my ADHD fiance in July and where am I on this January afternoon? On this website because I still need to understand how someone as pure hearted and loving as my ex can put me through such torment and hell. Because as a nonADHDer, I simply cannot understand how I don't even miss him a little bit when I loved him so much. I was that exhausted and hurt by his ADHD (or better yet by his lack of really addressing the harm he was causing us).

Dan I really like your insight and hope you keep sharing, however I implore you from time to time to focus on the negative aspects, just a little bit, so you can empathize with our and your (ex?) wife's situation. I implore you to understand that damage has been done and unless that damage is addressed, then the healing process cannot begin. I am not asking you to harp on this. I am just simply saying that you cannot understand our viewpoint until you understand that because of the way our brains work, we can remember and feel all past pain. We are not able to just forget about it.

It is not rare for the ADHD spouse to want a fresh start and clean slate after their diagnosis; to want endless recognition for working on the negative aspects that ADHD can bring to a marriage. I would say (pretty confidently) that one of the biggest frustrations of the nonADHD spouses here is that we almost never get recognition from our spouse for all our effort and hard work in holding everything together before, during and after diagnosis.

arwen's picture

well said -- great post

Brooks, I think you have perfectly expressed something that many of us non-ADDers have been trying to communicate about recognition of damage and the non-ADDers inability to forget it. Thank you!!!

I have forgiven my husband for the torment he put me through for so many years but I will never be able to forget it, they have left permanent scars on my soul.  I know he did not mean to hurt me, but it doesn't change the fact that he did.  Even though it's not as bad that he did it through negligence instead of malice, the fact that he failed to work to correct the negligence for 15 years despite being routinely apprised of it is a debt he owes for.  During those 15 years, he used me up and didn't think even once about it. 

But -- it's not a debt that I will ever demand payment for -- when we ended our separation, I agreed to wipe the slate clean because I could see that it would not happen again.  Please note that my husband did *not* have any inherent *right* to *expect* a clean slate.  My agreement was something I chose to give -- but I would not have, if he had not *shown* me that his change in his treatment of me was based in a new permanent realistic understanding and acceptance of his responsibilities towards me.  His demonstration of this change *to my satisfaction* made me feel it was worth the risk to try one more last time to make our marriage work.  Not every non-ADD spouse sees themselves in that kind of situation, or wants to do that, and that's also perfectly fair and reasonable.

Brilliant, Brooks30 and Arwen

Thanks so much. You said it better than I ever could.

The only problem is, I'm still waiting to be paid back. When do I get to own a house again? When do I get to drive a car made in this millenium? When will my medical needs be addressed? (We both make sure HIS are met so he can work, when does it get to be my turn?)

I love him, and we never separated, but the feeling that "this is not what I signed up for" is so strong. When does that end?

None of us will have that

None of us will have that answer for you Sueann.

Either you accept and surrender to your marriage (with surrender meaning give in wholly to the partnership, not the hardships - those should always be worked on) or you move on.

You have been so strong and I am sure it has been a difficult road indeed. If I could hug you I would.

Stay strong dear .

To be perfectly blunt,

I'm extremely offended by your claims that I am bitter, destroyed by ADHD, offended by the list and in need of professional help.  My post was not bitter, I did not say at any point that the list offended me and you do not know anything about me and are in no position to judge whether I am 'destroyed by ADHD' or in need of therapy. 

Posting again after calming down

While I definitely have my bitter moments Brooks, I tend to have them alone once my son is asleep or in the company of a friend I would be lost without. If I don't vent, it only gets worse.  Dan, I was simply pointing out that every positive can have a negative depending on your perspective. A lot of these traits were things that attracted me to my fiancee when we first met, however living with them long term has taken nearly all of the thrill out of them.  

As Brooke stated and has happened to many other non-ADHD, I am completely exhausted emotionally & have very little left to give to my relationship.  I've watched hopes and dreams disappear because of the behaviour of the person I thought was my life partner and while I do understand that a lot of that is the ADHD, that does not mean I cannot be upset or angry about it or that having ADHD means he can blame it for all his actions over the last 7 years.   Currently we're living apart - which has very little to do with state of our relationship. 

Brooks has said it all a lot better than I can at the moment - and more tactfully too! 

I tried, but no good.

Once again, I try to be positive and helpful, but I still get bitten in the rear.  Did it ever cross one's mind it may hurt someone going thru a divorce and piecing his children's and his own life back together, all because of his own ADHD,  when taking his list of "good positive traits" and throwing them back in his face as more negatives?  Negatives, I can't get away from them.  I thought I understood, but I was wrong, I'm wrong a lot, after all I'm a man and I have ADHD.  Let's remember, we are all self-serving SOB's.  Sorry, only men with ADHD should get professional help, their spouses will be fine.   I'll leave the suggesting to the professionals, it's true, I don't know what I'm talking about. 

Many of us non-ADDers DO see professionals

Dan, I think you need to remember that some of the spouses on this forum have gone through a horrific time with their ADD spouses, me included. We're not trying to make *you* out to be the baddie. There are many voices on this list who do *not* have cooperative, enlightened spouses, and they're speaking out of immense pain and frustration. Really, for them, those "postives"--well, aren't, and there is overwhelming evidence in their relationships to back that up (again, mine included). That doesn't mean that they're not positives for *you*. But it does mean that if you post them, it's more than likely that there are a bunch of people who will *not* agree with you, and they have every right not to agree after what they've experienced.

It seems as though many (the majority?) of the non-ADD spouses on this forum *have* sought professional counseling on their own. For my part, after being told I was a "bad" and "abusive" person by my severely ADD husband, and then being abandoned by him, I was terrified that I WAS all of the things he said I was. I thought *I* was the one who couldn't see the damage I was doing. I went back into regular therapy, and it took quite a few sessions for my therapist to convince me that I wasn't the problem, and that I wasn't remotely like what he said I was. I should note that I have a therapist who pulls no punches with me, and I'm not the kind of person who gives her therapist, shall we say, "creative" answers, or who only goes to someone who tells them what they want to hear (and there are therapists out there who are more than happy to take your money and do just that, to keep you coming back). It took *months* for her to convince me--or remind me, really, that I was a good person, and a good wife. I had had *that much* damage hurled my way by my husband. But I will admit that I do have a co-dependency problem, and that I sometimes reacted badly to my husband's issues. I've been told I did a bunch of things "wrong," just like any person in even a "normal" marriage, but nothing that would take down a marriage like my husband's ADD.

If you don't mind my saying so, I think I know one reason why sometimes on the list you rile up some of the members without meaning to. A *huge* issue for long-suffering non-ADD spouses is the concept of reparation. Many of us (again, me too) have had our careers, families, health, peace of mind, financial security, and whole years of our lives destroyed by our ADD spouses. I know that I wouldn't even consider taking back my husband, let alone actually take him back, unless he made some *major* amends in my direction first, because the balance has been so badly thrown off in our marriage. After years of getting maybe 10% of what I needed to live and thrive, to my husband's 90%, and being treated as though he was the one true center of the universe and I was nothing, starting over at 50%-50% would not cut it--there's too much of a deficit. (I have to applaud Arwen for doing essentially that, BTW, if I read one of her recent posts correctly. Maybe I'm just not "there" yet, but I couldn't do that myself.)


and the right attitude. Our hearts should be willing to listen and learn from one another. It was the charming, comical, sparkling personality that attracted me to my ADDman, then the extremes and contradictions, the demands and accusations got in the mix. It all gets so confusing! I keep looking for balance, a level playing field to help me get to the heart of the matter and instead I'm caught up in an emotional flurry and nothing is resolved.

All the positives in my ADDman are not balanced out with calm responsibility. The struggles are not met with sound, well thought out decisions but, knee jerk reactions. I want my life to be orderly and on course. I want at least some sense of security, a future, a hope. I have no sense of that when the positive parts are met with extremes and contradictions. I want to be able to enjoy all those positives without feeling like the rest of my life is sinking and I can't do anything about it... For me, when I know things are on course, then I know I can enjoy the ride. When I know things are off course, I can't relax. I was raised to take care of what needs to be taken care of first. Fun came after that. My career, family, peace of mind, financial security and many years of my life lie near ruin by the charming, comical, sparkling personality I thought I could love forever...

I thought he was happy because his life was in order. I thought that together we could do what ever we set out to do, we'd learn, grow, build our life together. Things aren't what I thought they would be, not at all. Please keep balance in mind... I'm so tired of trying to figure things out for so long, I don't want to demand, accuse, berate... I want to give up. My ADDman doesn't care to learn, he's having too much fun...

reply to Clarity

Boy, I'm right there with you.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Some Thoughts about Disrespect

I have been reading this thread with interest.   It is now about two months and a half, since my ADD-EX-SO left, and I spent so many hours attempting to figure out the deeper level of the dynamics.  
The keyword seems to be DISRESPECT.   I wonder, if this is only my own experience.  Maybe some of you, who felt devastated and burned-out were also suffering from sensing that deep all-disrupting disrespect.

Every person with at least average intelligence can learn theoretically, how to handle a car, how to maintain a car technically, and the trafic rules.   That same person can just as well learn theorectically how to treat another person as an equal, how to communicate, how to be decent.  
Just as people can know, when they need to fill in oil or when they have run through a red stop light, they also can know, when their behaviour with a SO is not matching their theoretical knowledge.
That is, where the analogy ends.   There is a question of the motivation.   People maintain a car, because they value it, because they know that else it breaks down.   The respect the trafic rules, because the value their own life. 
Only people, who value their SO as an equal partner are motivated to invest time and effort in the maintenance of the relationship.   As soon as they take the SO for granted as a utility, that is not worth the effort of maintenance, then comes disrespect and depreciation.

My Ex-SO only seemed to treat and respect me as an equal, as long as we were exchanging emails and talking on the telephone.   For reasons that I still am only speculating about, it radically changed from the time of our meeting in person.  
It was his underlying disrespect, that caused most of my pain.    Most probably, he has not even a clue, that his behaviour was so full of disrespect.   I wonder if he ever in his life has respected someone, especially respected a woman.  

1. When two persons have a conflict, and they first make sure, that they both share all the divergent information causing conflicting opinions, and then they talk about it long enough, they can usually find a solution, that is rationally convincing to both.  
My Ex-SO assumed automatically, that nothing I had to contribute, was valuable enough to hear and to consider.   He refused to listen to me, he interrupted me, he jumped to conclusions.   His disrespect impeded to ever solve any conflict.
2.  Every body can loose their temper or cause or trigger damage to others.   People with respect and empathy feel liable, they are aware of the consequences of their actions, they apologize or make amends.   People with respect, lacking empathy do the same, when they get feedback about their behaviour.  
My Ex-SO disrespected me so much, that he never apologized with full sincerity, he never made amends.   Instead of feeling liable, in his opinion, I was so worthless, that I deserved, what he did.   I was as worthless as his treatment.  
3.  When people are puzzled by a respected person's temporarily incomprehensible behaviour, they assume that there is a rational explanation, and they ask for it.   When my Ex-SO did not understand something, his disrespect made him automatically jump to the conclusion, that there was something dysfunctional, unbalanced, wrong with me.  
4.  When people want a respected person accept some improbable claim, they honor that person with giving evidence and rational reason, until the other is convinced.    With disrespect, he demanded me to accept anything he said as true, my demands for evidence got me his rage.  
5.  Commitment, no matter if legal marriage or otherwise, means accepting obligations on a mutual basis.   With respect for an equal partner, one is bound as much as one expects the other to feel bound.  
With disrespect, my Ex-SO did not feel bound to me by any moral obligations, when he felt the wish to dump me, he just did it.  
6.  When decent people respect others, they feel inclined to base the interaction on a fair balance of giving and taking.   With disrespect, my Ex-SO wanted all the benefits for himself, I was not worthy enough for him to give me as much as he got out of me.  

Would my Ex-SO have respected me, accepted my support, I could have been strong and capable enough to cope with all other symptoms of his ADD.   But his disrespect devastated me.   Respect or disrespect make no difference concerning an ADD-person's having troubles to cope with some aspects of life.   But it makes a great difference, if two people cooperate to make the best based on mutual respect, or if one acts ruthlessly by his own drives, making the other suffer for it.   
There is an instinct in people's brain, that makes people distinguish between in-group and out-group.   In the extreme, the same behaviour that is punished towards in-group members is expected towards out-group members.   I am wondering sometimes, if in my Ex-SO, and maybe in other ADD-men too, the in-group just consists of one person, himself, and everybody else is outgroup.   The dichotomy of respect and disrespect as in my examples is similar to the differences in how people treat members of the in-group compared with the out-group.
Could it be, that we Non-ADD-partners sense the disrespect, while the ADD-men have no clue, what it would be to respect us?  

Dan, you have gone a long way of insight, more than many men with ADD might ever go.   But what about the question of respect?    Did you disrespect your wife in the past as I have been disrespected?   Has your change of attitude resulted in your fully respecting your wife now as an equal or are you just missing the benefits of having your intact family around you?   

arwen's picture

you may want to rethink

Crossroads, you said in your post:

Every person with at least average intelligence can learn theoretically, how to handle a car, how to maintain a car technically, and the trafic rules.   That same person can just as well learn theorectically how to treat another person as an equal, how to communicate, how to be decent.

I used to think this myself.  But now I cannot agree with you.  My husband and I spent a great deal of time and effort exploring this very question.  I couldn't understand how he could apparently master a skill set at work but be unable to apply that same skill set at home.  In our case, the skill set was even closer to being the "same" as in your example:  at work he would listen, he would not interrupt, he would treat his colleagues as equals -- but at home he couldn't do those things.

After years of working on this problem, we came to realize that even though the skill set might apply in both places, *the contexts were vastly different in my husband's mind*.  To him, interpersonal interactions among people in general were a mysterious dark swamp with no rules, no consistency, and no guidelights.  The reason he felt this way was because with the memory problems his ADD caused, he couldn't remember enough about previous interpersonal experiences to create any kind of structured context in his mind in which to apply the skills.   Work, on the other hand, had a small number of simple rules for interacting with colleagues, and another small number of simple rules for interacting with bosses.  That much he could remember.

So, it wasn't a question of intelligence.  It wasn't a question of motivation.  It was a question of limitations in the learning process.  Interpersonal interactions outside of work were just too complicated for him to wrap his brain around.  He could *not* learn how to treat people respectfully "just as well" as he could learn other things.  Yes, he could learn  -- but it was much much much harder for him than most other things he tried to do.

Over time, we have worked together to create a very small set of additional "rules", beyond those he applies at work, to be used in his interactions with people outside of work.  It was very difficult for him at first to stretch his memory capabilities to handle this greater degree of complexity, but with (a LOT of) practice it became do-able.

From my experience, I suspect that many people witih ADD have this kind of problem.  So, please don't assume that the ability to master some particular set of skills has *anything* to do with mastering another, when it comes to folks with ADD -- it's not necessarily true.

Incidentally, I also have to take issue with the basic validity of your statements:

Every person with at least average intelligence can learn theoretically, how to handle a car, how to maintain a car technically, and the trafic rules.  


... people can know, when they need to fill in oil or when they have run through a red stop light ...

Actually, these exact things are skills that any number of people with ADD struggle with.  My husband completely ruined the engine of one of our cars by not being able to remember to put oil in, and I don't know how many tickets he got for running red lights and stop signs.  My husband's brother, an exceptionally smart person, doesn't drive because he has so much difficulty with these skills.   Again, mastering the skill has nothing to do with intelligence.  It has to do with the limitations that ADD can cause in brain processing, and the degree of complexity of the tasks and environment.

So, you may want to rethink your hypothesis . . .


What Set fo Rules?

Hey Awren,

I'm just getting around to reading this post of yours and I wonder what are some of the rules around social interactions outside of work that your husband was able to learn?

arwen's picture

extra rules in social interactions

Hoping, to be honest, this was a while ago, and I can't now remember all the rules in the small set.  It seems to me there were 5 or 6 -- and at this point I can only remember these four:

  • A closed door requires permission to open, and a question of "Who is it?" or "What is it?" in response to a knock on the door is NOT an invitation to open it.
  • When you serve yourself at family-style meals, consider the other diners -- don't think only of how much you want, and don't finish off the food without checking if anyone else wants more.  This situation usually doesn't come up at work -- you're either served a buffet where there is plenty for all, or you're getting your food from a cafeteria or getting separate portions off a menu if dining out.  In family-style settings, my husband would often take more than he really needed and leave others still hungry, just because he really enjoyed the dishes served. 
  • Don't move or use things that don't belong to you, without checking with the owner.  At work, my spouse has access to whatever he needs without borrowing from others, and everybody's "turf" is clearly defined -- there's no "common space" that would contain any personal belongings like there is in a home, school, or church.  At home or at other community places, my husband would move or use things without any discretion or permission, and sometimes as a result items were lost or gone.
  • Don't assume everybody's "on the same page" that you are -- check!  At work, people have reviewed the same documents or presentations before they get into meetings or conversations, so there's no need to make sure that he's talking on the same basis of information that they are.  Away from the office, it doesn't work that way!  So you can't be certain of what the other people know and don't know.  In order to avoid misunderstandings, it helps to ask a few questions and take whatever steps might be necessary to get on the same page.  My husband used to assume we were on the same page, and would launch into discussions that would confuse me -- or my statements would confuse him, and we'd end up in all kinds of fights from the misunderstandings.  Happens a lot less now.  Sometimes I still have to say "I'm not sure we're on the same page", but then he can step back and do the check himself.

    [A corrollary:  Start at the beginning -- describe the context.  At work, the context of any discussion is typically predefined.  Meetings have agendas.  Many discussions are based on those presentations and documents I mentioned above. Again, away from the office, it doesn't necessarily work that way.  If you want people to understand what you're talking about, they need to have the background.]

We didn't need to include any rule about interrupting (a common ADHD problem), because that *does* apply at work as well as at home.

These "rules" are obviously tailored towards my husband's specific problems -- other people with ADHD would need various different rule sets.  I hope this addresses your question!


"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Great question, about respect...

Great question, Crossroads...

"Dan, you have gone a long way of insight, more than many men with ADD might ever go.   But what about the question of respect?    Did you disrespect your wife in the past as I have been disrespected?   Has your change of attitude resulted in your fully respecting your wife now as an equal or are you just missing the benefits of having your intact family around you?  "


Yes, I did disrespect my wife before my ADHD diagnoses for the last several years, a dumb or smart man could all be totally clueless with ADHD, it's like walking around with a blanket over his head.  Once I finally saw what I was doing to my wife all these years... OMG! What a breakthrough! Eureka! We're saved, it's like discovering the human genome and mapping what causes cancer! Imagine my humbling, then my determination/drive to set things right.  Instead of getting a hug and encouragement to proceed with help and correct everything.... WHAM...she files for divorce.  Imagine my disappointment, but I know that emotion will eat me apart and it still does, but I have to understand her and forgive her.  I understand and can forgive my wife completely, my wife is not strong like Arwen or any other strong/smart wives sticking it out when their husbands finally turn the corner and admit their ADHD.  My wife is not is as forgiving as other wives of ADHD'ers.  Why isn't she, but why do I forgive her?  Simple... her family, her friends, basically her environment.  Remember... you cannot forgive someone until you understand, understand means getting all the fact, a full trial with data.  At this point, my wife wants to hear nothing, zip, zilch, nada.   Do I understand?  Yes.  Do I forgive?  Yes.  Do I respect her for this divorce?  No.  I don't respect her now for a completely different reason.  Before it was my blindness of ADHD for not respecting her, so I repented and asked her for forgiveness.  I still haven't got it from her, why? She doesn't have the facts, she doesn't understand. Her family, friends, counselors wasn't much help to her, so that is why I understand it all.  That's too bad she doesn't forgive, because she needs to learn to forgive for herself. Mother Teresa was the richest women in the world, she didn't have a dime, but she was strong and forgave everyone.     Now, it's my wife's blindness to the facts of what's this divorce is causing, someday she needs to ask me for her forgiveness, and I already have.   I accept the divorce, but does my wife need to continue to ignore the facts our children are hurting and make war?   You really cannot ask to be forgiven for something, until you repent.  She is nowhere near repenting.  She admits no wrong.  This divorce is all for the benefit of her and the attorneys, not the kids, not me, not our families.  Until my wife admits fault, repents, acknowledges to everyone what this divorce negatively is doing.... no, I don't respect my wife now.   I understand, I forgive, but I don't respect her.   Those with understanding/knowledge, I respect.  Those with forgiveness/peace, I respect.  Those things require strength, I respect strength.   I don't respect her lack of strength... her lack of understanding/knowledge, her lack of forgiveness/peace.  Someday after the divorce, when she understands and forgives and "literally says it"... that is STRENGTH... then I will fully respect her.   I am praying for my wife to show strength... Forgive! 




    - Pope John Paul II, the Vatican, December 8, 2001


Regardless of your faith or beliefs, Pope John Paul II was very wise and respected by billions of people world-wide of all faiths, religions and beliefs.


The failure to forgive, especially when it serves to prolong conflict, is extremely costly in terms of human development. Resources are used for weapons rather than for development, peace and justice. What sufferings are inflicted on humanity because of the failure to reconcile! What delays in progress because of the failure to forgive! Peace is essential for development, but true peace is made possible only through forgiveness. 

Forgiveness in fact always involves an apparent short-term loss for a real long-term gain. Violence is the exact opposite; opting as it does for an apparent short‑term gain, it involves a real and permanent loss. Forgiveness may seem like weakness, but it demands great spiritual strength and moral courage, both in granting it and in accepting it. It may seem in some way to diminish us, but in fact it leads us to a fuller and richer humanity, more radiant with the splendour of the Creator. 

No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness: this is what in this Message I wish to say to believers and non-believers alike, to all men and women of good will who are concerned for the good of the human family and for its future. 

- Quotes from Pope John Paul II


The statements of Pope John Paul II apply to the families going through a divorce.  It is sad so many children in our world must continue to be negatively affected by the failure of adults to make peace before, during, and after the divorce process.   No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness.   This is why I have forgiven. 




Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil. It has its perfect exemplar in the forgiveness of Christ, who on the Cross prayed: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). 


Religious or not, this make good sense, but difficult for people to do;  I have forgiven for the sake of my children and for myself.   I hope and wish for all divorcing people to do the same, so finally they may truly move forward with good parenting communication skills.  No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness. 



Dan, no offense meant, because believe it or not we all do like you and want things to go well for you, but I think you need to step back a little. You're coming off as very preachy, and you sound like you're contradicting yourself.

There's one thing I don't understand at all in your post. You seem to expect her to "repent," but you also make it sound as though 90% of the problems that led up to the divorce are your fault. Which is it?

Also, understand that as much as you *want* her to forgive you, you can't *make* her forgive you. And, believe it or not, that's her right and it doesn't make her a horrible person. You sound very upset and very conflicted, and I can understand that. But I think that essentially stepping up onto a high horse over the issue of forgiveness after everything you say you've done, and berating your wife--whom by your own admission you have treated badly for years--for being too hurt to forgive you is, at the very least, counterproductive.

This is going to sound harsh, but please hear me out, and understand that I truly do wish you well. When you treat someone badly, just because you realize it and *want* forgiveness and *ask* for forgiveness, that doesn't mean that you *deserve* it. Outside of admitting fault, what have you done to *earn* her forgiveness?

we'll agree to disagree

Let me try to explain it this way...  This may be one of those ADHD analogies that nobody understands.

Me:  Wife... I didn't know what I was doing and I started the house on fire.

Wife:  You started the house on fire?!  I'm angry, you fool, I'm done with you!

Me:  Yes, I know, I accept that... I'm sorry, so please let's just move on from all of this and...

Wife:  Oh no, not so fast, you idiot...  

Me:  Yes, I know... but the kids... 

Wife:  Shut up, the kids are resilent and will be fine... what about me, my house, what about all I put into this...

Me:  The kids... they are still in the house.


Thanks Breadbaker, you make good points but bottomline, what you, my wife and others still may not see...    I don't yet deserve and frankly, I don't need forgiveness, maybe not until I'm on my death bed...  Sure, it's good to receive it, but it's even better to give it.  What I want and my children need is peace...   We all may just end up going around and around on this point.   Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus... when divorcing, their children are left floating around in space.  I know that is not good for them, our innocent kids.  My kids deserve better right now and after the divorce, someday I hope our children forgive both of us.


Read again please, the quotes I posted from Pope John Paul II about forgiveness.   Be you religious or not, those are very wise words.

I would love . . .

To hear your wife chime in on this issue. I get the feeling that we're hearing only half of the story, at most.

I'm not going to post on the subject of your situation any longer. With all due respect, you are very "stuck," and I really don't wish to go around in circles with you while you are in a state of so much pain and confusion.

BTW, I'm a devout Catholic, Dan, and Pope John-Paul II understood the frailties of the human condition far better than your short excerpt shows. I suggest you delve deeper into his writings for the sake of your own understanding. For one, they may help you to step back enough to be humble in the face of your own failings, and to be more compassionate of others' situations.

Be well.

- BB

So would I BreadBaker, so would I.

I'm on this site, I've laid out my failings, my faults, I showed her this forum, yet she is not here.  She refuses to post, she refused to talk, she's awol to all of this.  I too would love to hear her chime in on this issue.  I'm not humble?  Oh, gosh, how you don't know me.  Compassionate?  I understand, she's forgiven.  You say you "get the feeling that we're hearing only half of the story, at most."   Well, that says it all about the kind of trial I would get.  Like I said, let's agree to disagree.  Thanks and peace be with you. 

arwen's picture

maybe misinterpreted

Dan, did you consider that possibly Breadbaker is thinking  that there are more contributors to this "story" than just your wife and you?  And that therefore your wife's contribution would therefore *also* be less than 50% of the "story"?  Your kids very likely have their own unique "take" on your "story" which may cover issues you and your wife are not even thinking about.  I say this from my own personal experience with the dysfunctional times within my own family.  There were times our counselor asked to have our children come in, so he could get their input, and we *always* heard something from them we hadn't expected.  There could be other contributors as well.

It seems to me that I am seeing the same behavior in several of your posts that I used to see a lot with my husband -- a failure to stop and think about alternate possible interpretations to things that initially upset you or rub you the wrong way.  This is a natural tendency for anybody, with or without ADD, but it seems to happen more frequently with ADDers.  It is not a behavior that served my husband well, and I doubt it would for anybody.  He has learned, through a lot of practice, to curb his negative impulsive response and to take the time to think about whether the other party could mean something more innocuous that it might have originally seemed.  This has kept us from untold conflicts, and I'm very very greatful that he has worked so hard to acquire this important skill.  I can't help thinking that it could also reduce your conflict level, which sounds like something you would like to do.

As far as humility goes, it is possible to be humble about some things and not humble about others.  I've known only a couple of people in my life who I could say were truly humble across the board.  I am humble in some ways and very definitely not humble in others.  Possibly you and Breadbaker are looking at different aspects of your character.  I do see humility in some of your posts myself.  But I also see evidence in some of your posts of expectations that you believe should be met, and in my view, a truly humble  person would not.

And I'm sure you must realize that compassion involves more than simple forgiveness, although they certainly are related.  Compassion involves feeling what the other person feels, and understanding how and why they feel it -- walking around in their shoes.  This is much harder to do than forgiving.  Forgiveness can be given without understanding -- compassion can not.  There are things about my husband's feelings and behaviors that I don't understand, but I forgive anyway.  There are other things about my husband's feelings and behaviors that I couldn't possibly forgive without understanding and compassion. 

For most people, imagining themselves in the other person's shoes doesn't necessarily achieve true understanding -- when you are enough like the other person, it may work well, but if you are very different kinds of people, it almost always fails.  Sometimes a reasonable understanding can be obtained by imagining yourself taking on all the abilities and traits of the other person and then imagining that character in their shoes.  But most of the time, these efforts also fall short.  Even the imaginative people I know have trouble with this.  Most of the time, we can only attain a clear and valid understanding of another person by being in the *exact same situations* and feeling the *exact same feelings*.  With all due respect, you have not been in your wife's situation -- you are still in the process of adapting to your ADD diagnosis and treatment yourself -- from my experience and those of other couples in ADD relationships that I know, the odds that you have actually achieved a true understanding of your wife's perspective are pretty low.

You have come quite a way in your journey to heal and I commend you and encourage your efforts.  This is very hard work you are doing!  It really thrills me to see you opening up to learning new skills and behaviors, to consider new ideas and differing points of view, to acquire a more realistic viewpoint that will be more useful to you.  I can understand how frustrating it would be to be unable to demonstrate these things to your spouse.  But at the same time, I can also understand that she could feel unwilling or unable to give you that opportunity.  I'm sure you also know that you have a long way yet to go in this journey.  Good luck, keep at it!!

can one forgive, but not respect?

Thanks Arwen for commenting.  As always, your posts are very good.  This whole thing can go off into an tangent, but I have been presented with the need to respect whatever my wife is doing now.   I understand all she has gone through, I was there!... therefore I forgive her actions now.  But what if I still cannot respect her actions now?  Let me explain understanding, forgiveness and respect... all how a man, or at least this man, sees it.

So the question is:  is it possible to understand and forgive someone, but not respect them?

Example: A wounded person stole food. Why? The person's family was starving. Ok, understandable and therefore forgivable, but not respectable. Stealing is wrong, the respectable thing is the courage and honesty of asking for free food and/or the strength and determination to work off the loaning of the food.   The moral of the story:  there is always at least two paths to take to get to the same goal, the high road or the low road.

Therefore, my premise... I understand all my wife's actions now, but don't respect some of them.  As with ADHD, I did regrettable things to her, she has anger, so she continues the non-communication, while my children are innocent collateral damage.  Okay, I can understand a person doing that, it's human and it's going to take her a long time to forgive... I understand, so I forgive her and she doesn't forgive me.  But respect her non-forgiveness?  That's hard for anyone to do, it's like respecting violence (the Pope's quote, unforgiveness = violence), that's fundamentally wrong.  If she wants my respect, a man respects strength without violence; strength is understanding and forgiveness.    I've been told by a woman psychologist it may take my wife at least two years before she can forgive me for my ADHD.  That is two years before we can truly, openly communicate, share ideas and raise our children very well, but separately as divorced parents.  Therefore, in two years, we will have mutual respect for each other.  Two years after this "ADHD divorce", we will have mutual respect, understanding, forgiveness, and... PEACE!  Our children will rejoice!


The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. - Mahatma Gandhi

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.  - Mahatma Gandhi


I hope this all makes sense...I just want the main goal: peace.  I know what needs to be my part to raise the kids, asking for nothing nor expecting nothing mutual from my wife for 2 years.  Peace will come, it will just come in time.  Thank you for the wishes of Good Luck, Arwen.

arwen's picture

understanding, forgiveness and respect

I've certainly forgiven people I don't respect, so I'd have to say that yes, of course, it's possible to forgive without respect.

I've understood people I don't respect, so that's also possible.

I understand your conclusions in your example about somebody stealing food, and I fundamentally agree with it.

But -- my agreement with your conclusions assumes we are all agreeing on the definition of "stealing".  What if what is "stealing" to me and you is not be "stealing" to somebody else?  If the person who "stole" the food intended to bring equivalent food back later, did they "steal" it or did they "borrow" it?  If you were brought up in a commune where all property was shared, would you even understand the concept of "stealing"?  I certainly wouldn't be happy with such a person taking what I considered to be my property, but I would be able to not only forgive and understand them, but I would also be able to respect them.  That's because according to their own moral value system, they were behaving in a moral manner.

So the question is not necessarily quite so black-and-white as you pose it.  And that's true of most questions where judgement of people are involved.

I would also like to suggest that there are different grades of respect.  In our society, we extend a certain basic level of respect by default to anyone we encounter (which may be withdrawn if they prove themselves unworthy of it -- but we give them the benefit of the doubt about whether they deserve it when we first encounter them).  While we may feel somewhat wary of people we don't know, we show basic respect by speaking politely and acting as if they have no harmful intentions.  Then there is a higher level of respect that we give to those who have earned our special regard, like the people who defend our nation or who volunteer to serve others.  Somewhere in between is the everyday respect we give to most people we interact with on a regular basis.

Respect does not require agreement.  Clearly you do not agree with your wife's decision.  (I'll say frankly that I don't agree with it, either.)  But that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve respect.  (And I do respect your wife's decision.)  Your wife has her body of life experience and moral training that informs her personal ethics.  You have your own life experience and moral training that informs your personal ethics.  They are not necessarily the same.  They are very probably different in some respects.  The question I would ask is:  is your wife behaving in what she believes is a moral and ethical manner?  If the answer could be yes, then it's possible there is something you do not yet actually understand about her feelings and values. 

In my experience, when that possibility exists, it is far better for everyone concerned to suspend judgement and accord the other person the basic default respect that we give to strangers and other people we don't know well enough to understand.  This is why I can respect your wife's decision.  If I had not done this myself in dealing with my husband's ADD-related feelings and values that I didn't understand, I could not possibly have saved my marriage.

Suspending judgement is hard.  Everyday life requires us to make all kinds of judgements without really having complete information, just in order to keep moving forward, so it's what we tend to do naturally, it's what we're used to.  But trying to deal with your marriage/divorce situation is not everyday life -- so it may require special handling and special efforts.   Your natural inclination may be to judge your wife's decisions, but it may do your relationship and your family more good if you could put judgement aside for the time being and accept that what you don't agree with may still be reasonable and valid from some other perspective you can't presently see.

Respect and Different Kinds of Forgiving

There has been a lot of discussion about forgiving.   But I think, there are different kinds of forgiving, that apply to different situations.

Here is a very good article about this:
Additionally, I think that respect has a lot to do with it.   Many times the transgression is a consequence of the transgressor's lack of respect for the transgressee.   Due to the transgression, the transgressee also looses respect for the transgressor.   

1.   Respectful forgiving means to restore mutual respect.   It needs first an agreement between both on the magnitude of the transgression, and then an agreement, what amends and restitution is needed to do justice and restore peace.   I personally think, that durable harmony of a couple requires mutual respect and therefore this is the only method for a couple to move on after a transgression.

2.   Condescending forgiving means to forgive by feeling superiour, because the transgressor is intellectually or emotionally incapacitated to acknowledge and comprehend his transgression and therefore no amends can be expected or demanded.   This kind of forgiving does not restore respect on neither side, it just allows a transgressee to continue the interaction with the transgressor, when they are forced to by circumstances, like with neighbours or coworkers.   It cannot repair the harmony of a couple.  

3.   Humble forgiving is a consequence of low self-esteem, lack of dignity, lack of a feeling of self-worth.   Humble forgiving does not restore mutual repect.   The transgressee disrespects herself and agrees to deserve the transgression, even though it generally not accepted as correct behaviour.   The transgressor disrespects the transgressee before and after being forgiven, the transgressee respects the transgressor, no matter what he does to her.  
Unfortunately, girls and women get brainwashed from the cradle on to be treated with open or subtle disrespect by boys and men, until they take the normality and appropriateness so much for granted, that acts of disrespect seize to cause any conscious outrage.   Women submit consciously to disrespect and are too inclined to humbly forgive, what they should protest against with outrage.  
But even though women submit externally to being disrespected as an unavoidable fate, the disrespect hurts, and the untended wounds accumulate.   It can be a vague pain without knowing the reason, it can be depression, or it can be repressed and get psychosomatic or anything.   But suffering disrespect takes its toll sooner of later.  

It took me weeks of hard thinking, until I finally figured it out.   My agony during my time with my Ex-SO was not caused so much directly by all his symptoms of some combination of ADD/Asperger/narcissism, it was caused by his disrespect to make me suffer from it and spare himself.  
By externally submitting to his treatment, in his perception, I appeared to be humbly forgiving.   Consciously, I was attempting to condescendingly forgive him to a certain extent, because I wanted to continue the relationship.   But inside, I knew, that I needed respectfull forgiving, if only he would do his share to enable it.   And day after day, with growing urge and growing dispair, I wanted to regain mutual respect.   Instead, I was subjected to more and more disrespect.   His disrespect blocked any communication about his disrespectfull behaviour.   We were caught in a trap.

The issue of respect or disrespect in any transgression has two parts:  What caused the transgression, and how it is handled and coped with afterwards.  
I agree with Arwen, that a person with ADD might not be capable to control or to judge their behaviour, if it is a transgression or not, when they do it.  
But when dealing with a transgression, ADD or not, a decent transgressor with average intelligence, respect for the other and trust has only one way to cope with a transgression:  
The first step is to acknowledge the fact, that his behaviour was a transgression, that was hurtfull and damaging.  
It is disrespect to deny the acceptance, that a transgressee is really suffering, when she declares, how she feels pain.  
Respect requires to acknowledge to be the cause of her suffering, when she attributes it to him, even when not comprehending, why she suffers from his behaviour.   Because based on mutual respect, she would not blame her pain on him, if there was not a very good reason for it.  
The second step is to be interested in learning and comprehending.  
It is disrespect to deny the reality of the transgressee's experience, when the transgressor does not comprehend it.   With respect, the transgressor regrets the consequences of his transgression upon the transgressee, just because she suffers.   With respect, he accepts that she deserves better than being hurt.   With respect, he is motivated to avoid a repetition of this transgression, so he is interested and motivated to try to comprehend, what has happened and to learn, how to avoid it.   He might not succeed, but his wish to avoid a repetition is an important expression of respect.   With respect, he accepts her support in avoiding to hurt her.  
The third step is to make amends and restitution.  
It is disrespect to feel entitled to make the transgressee suffer, or to think, that she deserves it or is obliged to suffer.   With respect, the transgressor feels obliged to restore the balance, the justice of undoing any damage, that he has done.   With respect, the transgressor accepts to do everything, that the transgressee feels needed to undo the damage.   With respect, he accepts her judgement, how much amends are needed, until she feels treated with enough fairness to be able to respect him again.   Again, he might not succeed in making the amends that he agrees to make, but his wish and willingness are very important as an expression of respect.   Also, of course based on mutual respect, she does no demand anything beyond what she needs to be able to forgive.  
When she feels, that justice, fairness, respect has been given to her, she does not even decide to forgive, because feeling this is forgiving.  
To understand theoretically and generally, what it means to respect, to live in equality, to live with a balance of giving and receiving, is something, that only needs a minimum of intelligence.   But to incorporate respect and equality into one's own value system, and feel ok to live according to it is a completely different matter.   Respecting women, living in equality is a challenge for many men, ADD or not.   Demanding enough respect is a challenge for many women.  ADD aggravates the challenge for both genders, because it offers so many more occasions to act in blatant disrespect, that without ADD would not occur.   I am far from claiming, that understanding theoretically the meaning of respect means to be capable to respect a partner in a relationship as an equal.  

This sounds like generalising, this is just my way of putting things.   But it is just my own experience from the perspective of a disrespected woman.    Maybe it helps you, Dan, in your attempt to see the reaction of your wife from a different point of view.   My advice for you:  Your wife needs to FEEL respected by you, no matter what it requires from her subjective point of view, else she has no reason to come back.   According to you own admittance, you made her feel disrespected, you probably forfeited her respect.   So she also needs to be able to return to FEEL respect for you. 

arwen's picture

Off base

Once again, Crossroads, my experience is at odds with your hypothesis.  In my experience, respectful forgiving does *not* require restoration of *mutual* respect.  I have been able to forgive other people respectfully, regardless of whether they respect me or not, without feeling *either* superior or humble, by simply recognizing that they are living in a completely different ethical context -- we are operating from different sets of knowledge.  Neither set of knowledge is necessarily better or worse -- just different.

And once again, I must take issue with your statement about intelligence:

To understand theoretically and generally, what it means to respect, to live in equality, to live with a balance of giving and receiving, is something, that only needs a minimum of intelligence.

This is completely contrary to my experience.  A minimum of intelligence is certainly needed, but so is the ability to learn, which is not strictly a function of intelligence only.  Learning can be impeded by any number of brain disorders.  If you have a sufficiently serious learning disability, all the intelligence in the world will not help you learn the mores of the society you live in to the satisfaction of that society.

I'm very sorry, but based on my experience, you still have not yet "figured it out".  It sounds to me like there may be some personal axe you have to grind that is getting in the way of an objective analysis.  I urge you to read more about the physiology of brain disorders in order to understand my point about intelligence and learning more clearly.

Taking a deep breath

Arwen, we have obviously made different experiences.   We might even use the word respect differently.  
Respect means to me to consider a person as valuable, as worthy.   When a person mistreats and hurts me (or others), then that person devalues himself, and I loose respect for the unworthy person.   If the person wants my respect again, he has to become worthy and respectable by a change in the attitude, and consequently in the behaviour.  
It is exactly my experience with my Ex-SO, that someone can be intelligent, but not capable to live in accordance with his theoretical knowledge.   We communicated for several months on the internet telephone and by emails, and he was an entirely different person then, the hurting, the pain, the trouble started only, after we met in person.  
You maybe know the movie 'Cyrano de Bergerac'.   Before we met, we had deep and mutually respectfull exchanges about a lot, he listened, he was interested, he was my Cyrano.  When we met, it was worse than in the movie, where the heroine was with dull but caring Christian missing the depth of Cyrano.  My Ex had become a raging and hurtful very different man, and I was puzzled, where my Cyrano had gone.      
As an example, early on, he wrote in an email to me, that he would never want to embarrass me or the both of us, and it sounded very sincere.   When we were together, he had no inhibitions to create public scenes, and even worse, when I implored him to be descreet, he ignored it and continued to embarrass us.   Just as he knew, that he should not embarrass me and lateron he did it anyhow, he also knew quite well, what other behaviour was expected.   He just did not respect me enough to apply his theoretical knowledge.  

Also I have simplified my use of the word intelligence to the meaning of the capacities, that standard IQ tests measure.   People with a high IQ can still be very low on the EQ.   Many people are inconsistent, they know theoretically, what they should do and they do not do it.   Just as someone is intelligent enough to fully comprehend, how smoking is detrimental to his health, and he continues to smoke, so my Ex-SO knew perfectly well, that it is not correct to embarrass me in public, and he did it is spite of it.  

I have been sharing some of my thoughts and experiences, but I make no claim to know anything better than anybody else in this forum.   I do not feel very comfortable, when I am told with a certain condescention, that I am too ignorant to figure anything out.   I guess it is time that I take a deep breath and withdraw for a while, a counterattack would do no good to nobody. 

arwen's picture

broad brush

Crossroads, I'm sorry that I have offended you.   I certainly don't think you are ignorant, and I'm not trying to put down your experiences in any way.

I have noticed that it's not unusual for both ADDers and non-ADDers to draw general conclusions from their own experience.  It's natural to feel that our own experiences with  a particular problem or situation must be typical.  When ADD is involved, however, that is less likely to be true, in my experience.  As an informed person, I'm sure you know that extrapolating from a single data point rarely produces useful results.  But that's what it sounds to me like you are doing in some of your posts.

When I talk about my experience, I don't just mean with my husband.  All the men in his extended family have ADD -- so does my son, my daughter's SO, and other acquaintances.   They share many behaviors in common relative to their ADD, but they also have differences.  When I make generalizations, I draw upon my knowledge of what they have in common -- I don't assume that my experience with my husband is representative.  I'm extrapolating from many data points.  Even that doesn't make me any kind of expert -- that's why I almost never make unqualified statements about ideas, feelings or behaviors relating to ADD.

I obviously can't know whether or not what you have concluded may have actually happened in your specific relationship.  My experience suggests to me that you may be "looking through a glass, darkly", but I certainly recognize that you and I just could have had different experiences.  But when you make generalizations from it, without qualification, it seems to me that you are using too broad a brush.  You may have figured out your specific situation, but it does not necessarily represent the univeral truth that your posts imply by the manner in which you express your views.

I respect you, both by my definition and by yours.  If I have hurt you, please accept my apologies and assurances that it was unintentional.   But I would like you consider the possibility that your "broad brush" may also be hurting other posters here.  Out of respect for them, you may want to use a less dogmatic approach.  I hope you will continue to post here and share your interesting and unique perspectives.

clearing misunderstandings

Arwen, I accept your apology.   So I will continue my attempt to clear misunderstandings:  

1.   I am fully aware, that I am just processing the experience with one 'speciman' of ADD, who is an individual case of some typical symptoms in comorbidity with some Asperger's and some narcissism.  
You talk about your experience with an entire family.   Considering the fact, that ADD/ADHD in so many members of the same family points to its being heriditary, maybe the pattern of specific symptoms is also heriditary, and thus you know several cases, but of the same specific kind?

2.  I have been generalizing about the effect of disrespect.   I did not insinuate, that disrespect is in any way correlated with ADD.   With long years of awareness for feministic matters, I maintain my claim, that the devastating effects of disrespect upon women (and mutually) is an underestimated problem in many relationships, ADD or not.   With ADD, additional issues of overlooked disrespect might well have a serious aggravating effect.   This is, what I wanted to point out to Dan.  

3.  There also is obviously a big difference in the way of experiencing the life with an ADD-partner, depending on the individual religiosity. 
When subjected to the same amount of hurting, religious people cope very differently with the pain compared with non-religious. 
For non-religious people, life ends with death.   When they suffer, they ask themselves, why, how to end it, how to get justice.   The need for justice is for most people a part of human nature.   People who have been wronged need a restitution of justice, before they can heal and move on.   For non-religious people, this is a matter between the transgressor and the transgressee.   When there is no justice, no restitution, they suffer the full double-blow of being hurt and of being deprived of justice.   There is no consolation of any kind to reduce the full awareness of unwarranted suffering.  

For religious people, this is very different.   They are promissed, that justice and restitution comes after death.  For religious people, the transgression is an issue between three parties involved.  
The transgressor has to earn forgiveness not from the transgressee, but from his god, else his restitution after death will be punishment in hell.    The god reserves for himself to deal with the transgressee.    The more she is humble, the more she is willing to submit to suffering, the less she demands justice in this life from the transgressor, the more she will be rewarded in the afterlife.   
On a conscious level, this hope for eternal justice and compensation is immensely helpfull to bear pain.   It demands humbleness and unearned forgiving as rules for the behaviour.  As a consequence, there is also the expectation and even the feeling of entitlement, that everybody else is guided by the same rules.  Every transgressor feels entitled to be as easily forgiven by the transgressee, as he is obliged to delegate forgiving to the god.  
But such rules do no eliminate human nature, they might just repress the natural need for justice as an illicit impulse into the subconscious mind, where it is still a strong force. 
In my observation, many religious people consciously strife very hard to forgive unconditionally, while emotionally they cannot do it without justice for their unconscious need. 
I do hope that I have not hurt anybody's religious feelings with my attempted rational evaluation of the effects of religion upon suffering.

I think we discovered something significant..

I read these posts yesterday, about respect.  I've made posts yesterday, saying I don't respect my wife.  It bothered me, why would I say such a thing?  I slept on it last night, woke up a few times about it and it was on my much of today...  It's an awful thing for a husband to say, "I don't repect my wife".   I wish I can say otherwise, but I feel it is sadly true, I don't.   Needless to day, that's a problem in any marriage, and I'm sure my wife doesn't respect me either.  Based upon our arguments, this may have been going on in our marriage a long time, lack of mutual respect.   There is "Love and Respect".   In my heart, I still love my wife, but I don't have the respect for her.  I don't know how my wife feels, but she's the one that filed for divorce, so I imagine she lost the love, the respect is either there still, else that was gone before she lost the love too.  So, she likely has no love and respect for me.  Okay, so I love my wife, but don't respect her and I'll assume my wife doesn't love and doesn't respect me.   I cannot speak on her behalf, but I can speak for myself.  I am going to go into why I don't respect my wife, as I do know why.   I'm going to collect my thoughts, since we ADHD'ers have too much going on in the noodle and I don't want to write another millions words.  I try to keep it shorter.  But I love, but now don't respect my wife and that makes me feel awful, because she is a good person and the mother of my children.  But that has something to do with it... she is a mother and right now she is not putting our children first, one of the many examples of why I understand, but don't respect her.  Before I end this post, let me remind everyone and myself, I had undiagnosed ADHD and my wife had to live with it for many years.  I know now it was hard for her, it is sad my soon to be ex-wife is not respected by others too, for her continued anger. We live in a No-Fault Divorce state, yet she continues to publicly drag our family and this divorce thru the mud.  She doesn't want to talk directly and settle what we can ourselves.  She is sending our attorney's kids to college, instead of our own.  That and I could list her actions on on on, are all unrespectable.  

She can divorce me, she doesn't need to keep this up... she is acting very childish already.  

For all those that want to say "Dan, from an non-ADHD wife, you don't understand."...  I'm sorry, but you may not understand, did it ever occur to you, my wife has gone too far or she's may be wrong on a point?  How far does she need to go, before she is wrong?   Can she do anything, and it's acceptable, simply because she was married to an ADHD'er? 



I have read a lot of your posts and admire your willingness to try to understand the non-ADD way of thinking while also sharing your own experiences.  I do have to tell you, though, that forgiveness does not always mean staying.  I have forgiven my husband but for my own health and the health of our child, I can no longer stay with him.  This does not mean that I hate him or wish him ill-will.  In order for me to NOT end up hating him, we must part.  Whether he meant to cause the broken dreams and destruction that came from his actions doesn't change the fact that they happened.  The fact that I have forgiven him, doesn't change the fact that the trust is gone...and that I can no longer remain in this relationship.

I don't know if it's the same for your soon-to-be-ex or not, but I am guessing maybe that's part of it.  Some of her anger could be from the grieving process and the broken dreams right now.  Give her time to interact with you.  Give her space.  This will be better for your children, as well, if mom is happy and dad takes the time to concentrate on himself a bit.

God bless you.

well said.

Well said and logical, Cherokee Rose, well said!  Yes, God bless all of us!  Thank you.


Just my 2 cents. :)

From my experience the

From my experience the conversation probably went more like this from your wife's perspective:

Wife:  Can I help you with those matches?  Looks like sparks are falling into the kindling.

Husband:  You worry too much.  I'm having fun.

Wife:  Ok, maybe I do... hey, is that gasoline you're pouring on things?

Husband:  Why are you always so negative?  What's for dinner?

Wife: (Going to kitchen for bucket of water)  I really want you to stop playing with matches after you've poured gasoline all over the house.

Husband:  (Retreats into hurt silence and finds a lighter)

Wife:  Do you hear me?

Husband:  Hey, this is my new blow torch, the M43 Super Flame Thrower.  It has a remote start, explodes upon impact and only cost $355.00.  I like it much better than the other three I have.

Wife:  (Takes the kids to her sister's while husband is describing new - and actually 7th flame thrower he owns.  Returns to find the house she bought and all of her earthly belongings in flames)

Me:  Wife... I didn't know what I was doing and I started the house on fire.

Wife:  You started the house on fire?!  I'm angry, you fool, I'm done with you!

Me:  Yes, I know, I accept that... I'm sorry, so please let's just move on from all of this and...

Wife:  Oh no, not so fast, you idiot...  

Me:  Yes, I know... but the kids... 

Wife:  Shut up, the kids are resilent and will be fine... what about me, my house, what about all I put into this...

Me:  The kids... they are still in the house.


Call me bitter, call me unforgiving, call me whatever, because I've already been called it all and after two years of cancer treatment and 8 months away from my ADHD husband where I got to spend time with loving, supportive friends and family I've seen a different way to live.  Maybe we can make it and maybe we can't.  But I know the first half of the story HAS to be acknowledged.  At least in my life.

good analogy, thank you.

Good analogy, shaun2684.  ADHDer's like a good analogy, it helps our sometimes smart, but "slow to get things" minds to understand.   Our slowness and inattentiveness is why we're ridiculed....understandably it's annoying to others, especially our spouses, and therefore needs to be forgivable by us towards those that ridicule us.

Call me dumb or evil, call me self-centered and uncaring, call me whatever, because I've already been called it all and after months of ADHD diagnoses followed by good therapy treatment and months away from my understandably negative wife, where I got to spend time with loving, supportive friends and family, I've seen a different way to live.  Maybe we can make it and maybe we can't.  But I know the sequel to the story HAS to be acknowledged and is currently being written.  At least in my children’s' lives and my own. 

I hope the story has an overall good ending for everyone, I know if will for me since I am writing my part (keep it positive)... my kids story, I am writing only 50% of it (God, look over them)... my wife's story, I can't help her (most don't enjoy what she is doing so far).  Nobody enjoys a story that ends negative and unforgiving, so I hope she's working towards a good conclusion that will be enjoyed by all.

I truly hope your cancer treatments are doing/went well, I saw my father die from cancer detected too late, but I have learned so much about cancer.  My marriage will die of ADHD detected too late, but I have learned so much about ADHD on a marriage.  Bitter and unforgiveness of cancer and ADHD is not a way for me to go thru life…  Respect and understanding of the dangers of cancer and ADHD is.

Hey Dan!I&rsquo;ve been

Hi Dan

Okay…not a good idea to skim through these blogs in an effort to catch'll miss a lot.  I had to delete two posts because I didn’t read carefully.

I can’t believe that the divorce is really happening. I’m sorry; I know how painful it is.  How are you and where are you emotionally?



thanks, Sofire, I'm doing okay.

I'm mainly sad for my children, they didn't ask for any of this.   For myself, I'm doing well, always optimistic for my future.   I just posted comments on another ADHD'er thread, she is going thru a divorce, similar to me...

When ADHD'ers are able to truly acknowledge a problem, we tend to want to fix and improve it.   Those of us that see it, we are fortunate and have a lot going for us.   Those that don't see it, will lose out.   Be positive.  Thanks.


Dan I see what you mean at

Dan I see what you mean at the same time though being the non ADDer I feel like I've read books, done counseling for my husband to walk out on, tried classes, spoke to his mother, and so much more to do my part to understand him or ways I can change my behavior in an argument or whatever to be the best we can to each other. He's there and getting better at participating in helping me out around the house and whatever now.. after 3 years of marriage. In an argument though the same behavior consists. I explain how it makes me feel try to communicate with him and see where he is coming from for it to only be a repetitive pattern. I'm punished for days or even a week being completely ignored. I DO NOT want a divorce, however I have never felt so down, confused and helpless. I feel like I am giving and giving and being understanding to his needs to not get anything back in return. It can take a toll on one persons happiness and health and tear a person down. My husband loves me with all his heart as I do him. I think we are meant to be together.. although I've never had trouble communicating with another person like my husband, rarely argued with anyone and if I ever did it was resolved right away, never had been verbally and mentally abused and threatened with things that may happen, just cuz he wants to hurt me. So yes forgiveness is huge and its great to forgive a person and give your all.. but 3 yrs into our relationship and having a young child, I want more than anything to stay together!!! and will do whatever i have to to make it work.. but I don't know how long I can honestly give and give with not much in return.. it kills me!

He needs help, he has NOT fully removed the blinders

He may or may not have been diagnosed with ADHD by a professional.  That matters and it helps.  But what TRULY matters is him taking it seriously.   It seems he hasn't taken ADHD seriously yet, he hasn't had a shock!   Example:   Sure, men go to the doctor for a check-up.  The doctor may say to a man, your blood pressure and blood sugar is a little high, you better change your diet and exercise more.   Most men say okay... but they really DON'T change their diet or exercise.   A year later, during their visit to the doctor, guess what?   They blood pressure and blood sugar is even HIGHER, but men go thru this routine for years!   What's going to get most men to change?  A shock will!   A heart attack!  Or a warning from the doctor, if you don't change NOW, you will die!   It's how my father stopped drinking cold turkey after years of alcoholism, his respected doctor told him the drinking will kill him.  My dad was smart, wanted to live, and had strength (will power)... so he never touched alcohol again... an amazing man!  What was the shock I got to see my ADHD as a problem?   A divorce, the death of my marriage!  That was my slap-up-side my head I needed the remove the powerful blinders over my eyes.  After being filed for divorce... hmmm, I'm going to get informed of the problem here.  I am smart, want to live and be happy and I try to have strength to the best of my God given ability.  I'm becoming an ADHD expert, talking with psychologists regularly, and I discovered other issues within myself along the way.  I'm more knowledgeable and more self-aware than I was before "my shock".

Therefore, do I suggest a divorce filing to get to your husband?  NO!  Believe me, there are more subtle ways to get thru to an intelligent man.   I wouldn't wish a divorce upon any good husband, as I wouldn't wish a heart attack upon anybody.  Divorce is necessary in some cases, but not for all the good men with ADHD symptoms.   If I had money or didn't live in a "no-fault" divorce state, I would try to stop this divorce.  In my state, you cannot stop a divorce, unless lots of money for lawyers.  I'd rather send my kids to college someday, than my lawyer's kids to college.  You know your husband best on what would work best to get him help.  Invest time becoming an ADHD expert, before becoming a divorce expert.  Since you love each other, be strong and get him help and he'll respect you by the way you did it.  Your child will thank you too, someday.

If you truly know your husband as a good, loving person, you have a chance to do something wonderful for your marriage.  You are in control.  a) You could walk out now, cash-in your chips and be done with the marriage. That is the shock I got, it worked, and I'm getting the help I needed for my ADHD.   Thanks wife!  But I don't respect her now, she showed no strength.  I still love my wife, but I see no strength in her now, as she probably saw no strength in me unable to control my undiagnosed ADHD traits all these years.  This is understandable, but sad for everyone.  b) You could show courage with compassion and tell your husband he needs to get help, but the window of opportunity you are allowing is short because you respect your time and your life, tell him you are equal in this marriage, same as the state marriage law says.  Then, let him choose.  Much like a compassionate and respected doctor saying, if you don't do this now, you will DIE.   That is a shock to hear too, and he'll get the help he needed.  He will thank you when it sinks in just how bad ADHD is on a spouse, and he will have the highest respect of you, for your love and your strength.... your marriage will be stronger than ever before, even stronger than non-ADHD marriages because it's been worked-out like the average marriage couldn't even imagine.  Even if your ADHD spouse was REALLY bad, and you survived while your spouse truly changed, you are respected even more for super strength! You will have accomplished something amazing!

Note:  Put it in writing if you have to, even if it comes to it, have a lawyer write it up, then give him the ultimatum and have him choose. That gives YOU all the leverage.  If he doesn’t choose therapy, but chooses divorce… you can hold your head up high and truly know you tried to save the ADHD marriage now, and your child will understand when he’s an adult, that mom was more than fair and did everything she could for dad, but dad couldn't or wouldn't change for the family. There is never any shame in showing strength, true it's harder taking the highroad, but the view is always better.  Be the amazing, respected person!  Achieving success in life without raising a clenched fist are the strongest people in the world!

Think of it, as this... Cancer survivors are the most inspiring people I know, they faced death head-on and won, I'm in awe of them, I have the highest respect of cancer survivors.  Think of ADHD as "marriage cancer".   Don't let ADHD win over your marriage, oh it's a hard fight to win, but once you win... your marriage will be stronger and respected than ever before.  Work hard to make your family a "married with ADHD survivor".  Correct me if I'm wrong, but cancer survivors are happier too!  Think about it!


nobody is entitled to be forgiven

Dan, the least requirement for forgiving is the end of the transgression, not only in ending the action, but also in ending the attitude justifying the transgression.

Being disrespected is devastating.   You admit that you never stopped disrespecting your wife.  For you, the reasons are different now, for her, the disrespect continues, the reasons do not make any difference.   Therefore, she has not the least reason to forgive you.

With self-esteem, with dignity, nobody can go back to continue to be disresepcted and forgive it.   Since you justify your disrespect for her, I feel empathy for her. 

But of course I know nothing, this is just my spontaneous reaction to reading your post.




well said, seems logical

Well said, your points have logic.  For my children, myself and peace...  no matter what she does, I will respect ANYTHING she does, even disrespectful things she does, just so she can forgive me.   Then we can ask our children to forgive all of us and then.... PEACE.  

Can I do this?  Can or should any human respect everything another does?   I don't think they can, but I will try to at least "visually show" respect.

Thanks, and God bless!

Re: Some Thoughts About Disrespect

"I am wondering sometimes, if in my Ex-SO, and maybe in other ADD-men too, the in-group just consists of one person, himself, and everybody else is outgroup..."

I think this described my boyfriend.  He's the king of making up rules and holding up everyone except himself to the standard.  

W/ you on the disrespect

I have done many exercises via counseling on red flags, not choosing me, things said by him ADD true or not true and all have a common thread of disrespect in some form.  I have had many discussions w/ him over the years regarding that I felt disrespect. He wasn't diagnosed until year #15 of marriage the blaming on me reduced but all else remained the same.


read with understanding


I don't see bitterness in your post.  I read reality as you see it.  We come to this message board with many complicated filters.  Each of us is in a different place and with different perspectives.  I think we need to be careful not to use words that  carry huge negative connotations when we respond to what others write.   And we need to give those who respond a great deal of grace for their effort to add their thoughts to a very complicated set of emotions.  I appreciate everyone here who takes the time to help me understand ADD and relationships.  You are a brave group to face your pain and try to make some sense of it.


Is trust, respect and admiration automatic or is it earned?

My ADD spouse says that "I have ADD and I apologise that it was not diagnosed before marriage so you would know what you are getting into" but totally believes that he is doing perfectly fine since leaving me and the kids. He truly believes that it is not medication or exercise or working on changing his lifestyle but because of the unconditional love, trust, support and respect he got from his brother's family. According to him, ADD has not ruined our marriage at all and I should not blame marital problems on his ADD (he takes it that I am blaming him for all our problems - marital, financial, business, etc.) but should look into the fact that according to his diagnosis (he is not a doctor!) I have BPD - that is the cause!

Despite all the problems - bankruptcies, umpteen failed businesses, ruined marriage (separated for a year now); I should be able to trust, respect, admire him totally and without that there is no marriage! Trust should be implicit and total inspite of all we have gone through in 23 years of marraige and especially the last 10 years where I feel his ADD really got worse! Sometimes, I wonder if there is something wrong with me that I cannot trust him - he says he should not have to earn trust and respect even though so much has happened and it has ruined the marriage, kids, finances, etc. I either trust him or I don't - situations and events have nothing to do with trust! Is that true? Am I wrong in feeling that I need to see it before I trust and respect and admire him again?! It seems that I am the cause of the broken marriage and he is so magnanimous that he totally trusts, respects and admires me, and I don't reciprocate that! After what an non-ADD spouse goes through isn't it natural not to trust the ADD spouse just because he is a nice person? As he put it a couple of months ago, that even today he is willing to let me handle all his finances (while he is 400 miles away) but I do not trust him to do the same! I think it is a normal reaction after seeing his poor financial sense, bankruptcies, maxxed out credit cards, spending sprees. It bothers me that he blames me for the broken marriage because of my lack of trust, respect and admiration for him, and the fact that I have BPD according to him! Would love to have someone's thoughts on this? Am I the crazy one?

There are many ways to falsely label a burned-out person.....

You are insulted with the label of BPD, my SO also claims, that there is something wrong with me.  First he drives me into loosing my countenance and posture with his behaviour, when I give him feedback, he gets angry and calls my hypercritical, and when I show signs of being burned-out and a wreck, then he considers me defective and he feels no responsability for it. 
We all have only a limited resilience, and then we reach the breaking-point - breaking down or breaking up.   I cannot imagine any woman to suffer the behaviour of a selfish ADD man without getting emotionally deeply effected.

I think that trust can be lost and earned and maybe reearned.  Trust to me means that my previous experience makes the occurance of a behaviour in the future more or less probable.  
After one regretted white lie, I might keep on trusting that person, if there are no more lies for some time.   After a serious lie, I might expect more lies for a much longer time, before I restart to expect no more lies and trust again.  But after several serious lies, the trustworthiness is gone, and there will remain the expectation of the next lie for ever.
Nobody has a right to demand trust after having damaged it himself.

arwen's picture

perspective on trust

Newstart, I really understand how you feel, I've been through the same kind of thing with my spouse (diagnosed 15 years ago with ADD).  My attitude about trust is that when I first meet someone, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I probably wouldn't trust anyone I just met with my life, but with lesser things, sure.  For big things, it's reasonable for me to expect someone to have earned my trust first.  If someone I trusted violates my trust, it has to be re-earned.  So, to a certain degree, some of my trust is implicit, and some of it is not.  I think most rational people would agree that this is a fair and reasonable approach, although I'm the first to admit that it is not especially generous.

So, to me, the questions in your situation are:  how big are the things he wants you to trust him on?  And how changed a person do you feel he is?  In other words, is it the same person who violated your trust who is now expecting you to trust again, or is it really a totally different person?

In my experience, even when a person with ADD has his/her eyes opened to their disability, and is on meds and getting counseling to help see what the problems have been and how to deal with them, there are still fundamental parts of the individual that aren't changed.  For example, before my husband's ADD was diagnosed, he used to blame his problems on other people, and was never able to see his contribution to them.  After he was diagnosed, on meds and in counseling, that didn't change.  Not only did the habit persist, it got worse initially, since he began to consciously as well as subconsciously excuse himself from all responsibility, on the grounds that because he had ADD, he couldn't help it, but other people who didn't have ADD could help what they were doing, so whatever the problem was, was their fault!!  (He also went through a phase where he decided that *I* had ADD, too -- it's not uncommon for a newly diagnosed spouse to want company in his/her misery!)  On the other hand, he began to be aware of the inconsistencies in some of the things he was doing and saying, and changed to become more consistent.  The guy who blamed everybody else was somebody who I felt needed to re-earn my trust.  The guy who was working to become more consistent, I could trust with no problem.  Which aspect of my husband I was dealing with dictated to some degree whether I felt I could trust him without him having to earn it or not.

Also, whether your spouse (or you!) appreciates it or not, you are in more than an emotional relationship.  You are also in a legal relationship, a partnership.  If your legal partner has not lived up to some of his legal responsibilities, it is perfectly reasonable for you not to trust him on those issues until he shows he can and will live up to his legal responsibilities, because if he defaults on them, *you* will be left holding the bag.  But for matters that pertain strictly to the emotional relationship, it's sometimes easier to agree to wipe the slate clean than to carry around all the old emotional baggage.

Just as with trust, there are degrees of respect.  Respect for a person as a simple human being should not have to be earned, but anything more does, in my view.    I've always believed that every human being deserves a certain minimal level of respect.  And I think it's important to *treat* family members with more respect than you would a perfect stranger.  But that doesn't mean that I should necessarily *feel* a higher level of respect for a family member.  I believe that any respect beyond that due a stranger has to be earned.

Admiration is *never* automatic, in my opinion.

My husband also received a lot of unconditional love, and trust and respect and admiration from his birth family.  They never had to suffer the consequences of his ADD behaviors -- of course it's easy to offer these things when you are not being hurt!  And it's not surprising your husband experiences these positive feeling towards you, as my spouse did towards me -- you haven't been breaking promises, failing to fulfill commitments, forgetting agreements, etc etc etc.  I couldn't get this across to my husband, when we were in your situation, all the logic in the world didn't get through.  My husband finally began to understand why I wasn't inclined to give him all the trust, respect and admiration he thought he should get when I started mirroring his old behavior back to him for a few days (i.e. behaving exactly like he had) -- then he didn't find it so easy to respect, trust and admire all of a sudden.  It may help you deal with your husband on this issue if you can somehow "put the shoe on the other foot".

So, I really don't think you are crazy.  But I would like to also point out that there is a real risk inherent in not trusting a person with ADD who has been diagnosed and is trying to change.  It's all too easy to set "the bar" for re-earning trust so high that it seems to the ADD-spouse to be unattainable, and this is not likely to foster progress.   And it's even easier to observe a behavior that looks like one of the bad, old behaviors and assume the worst through lack of trust.  Even after 15 years and significant improvement in my husband's behaviors (and mine!) and in our marriage, I still make this mistake from time to time.  It may be natural for me to feel this way, but it isn't good.  Most of the time, I'm smarter than that and realize that the best thing for our relationship is to put the trust and respect issues to the side when we have problems -- to neither trust nor distrust, but to be neutral and non-judgmental.  This was very difficult for me to do at the beginning, but it got much easier with practice, and certainly did our relationship more good than either unconditional trust or a no-trust-till-you-prove-it approach would have done.

For me, this was one of the toughest hurdles in "starting over" in our relationship.  Good luck!

Trust issue

Thanks for your clear response, Arwen. The last time I interacted with my husband was a year ago before he left. At that time, he refused to believe his ADD and had been in severe depression for the last 8 years. The computer was his friend. As I said he would not even sit and watch a movie with us on a sunday afternoon. He preferred to sit on his computer and read his emails. 4 of us haven't sat together since the August 2008!

He says he has changed a lot. He is self confident, his self-esteem is high, he enjoys holidays skiing and white water rafting, etc. that he has gone on with his brother's familyggggggggg, spends time with his nephews, etc. BUT I have not seen this man! He will not even talk about how he spends his days or weekends, what work he does over there - he seems to be travelling a lot (looks like he changed his job) from what I have heard from outside sources - but have absolutely no clue what he does, does he sell shoes or does he sell chemicals? No clue! His life there is totally unknown to me, it is like he has disappeared except for his emails! On the phone he still accuses me of having BPD, and is angry that I blame ADD (and in some indirect way him as he needs to change some of his behavior and habits) for the root cause of our problems. I totally take blame for reacting to it and it going down in a spiral, but I truly feel that the ADD (diagnosed 2 years ago, but could have been there for ever and hence habits are deep rooted in 50 years) was the basis of it.

If, as he says, he travels from sunday night to friday night, then he could come here for an occasional weekend instead of driving/flying to his brother's home. That way, I could meet the new, changed man he says he is and it would give the boys time to spend with their father. That, in my opinion, would be thinking of the possibility of seeing each other in a different light after a year's separation.

So, Arwen, if I see the change I would be willing to trust the change, but he wants blind trust, respect and admiration for him. He believes that I should trust him when he says he has changed, I shouldn't have to see the change?! One normally trust and respects another human being for being a human being, but beyond that I feel one has to earn trust, especially after what we have gone through. I gave him my credit cards when he did not have any after his bankruptcy, and he screwed up my credit by maxxing them out (and I am talking $15,000+ - he did not see the relationship between earning and spending) - how does he expect me to trust him after that - I had to finally file bankruptcy to save myself. He started a business on my name (to give me security?!) but then messed it up and I had to file bankruptcy because of that and all the debts due to it being on my name. How do I trust and respect a person who does that, without seeing any changes? I take his word that he has changed?

I can totally understand that life without "baggage" is a lot easier than being encumbered with a spouse and kids. In my opinion, he likes this new found freedom of being a single man with no responisbilities, except sending money once a month! (And I truly appreciate him sending it as I am looking for a job since a month as I have never worked, always only "helped" him in HIS business) And from the tone of his emails it seems that he is looking at total separation/divorce but just does not want to be the one to say it.  And I think I am so tired of this, that I don't really care. It would bother me that what could have worked didn't, but I am learning to live life on my own too. He does not want to work on moving back (he lives 400 miles away at present) and I am not going to move because my son is in high school till june 2010 and needs to finish his final year here, so in short, neither of us are willing to/can move. So, the way it stands I cannot see the question of blind trust (I have spent the last decade seeing him depressed and not talking to anybody), and respect and total admiration (I am not a teenager!) for a man I really don't know, and cannot know because he lives 400 miles away!

arwen's picture

baggage hurts both

I found that keeping the emotional baggage around in re-starting my relationship with my husband hurt *me* far more than it bothered him.  (He generally doesn't carry emotional baggage in the first place -- part of the ADD tendency to forget the unpleasant -- which in this situation is actually a helpful trait to a degree.)  The fact that I was unable to forget was a true hindrance to me getting beyond the past and investing in the future.  My husband's mother (who is married to an ADD man herself, although he and she don't recognize it) kept telling me that the way she had coped in this same situation was to "train" her "forgettery" --  at the time, I thought this was a perfectly idiotic idea, but now I'm not so sure.   In any event, I have a very highly trained memory, and I haven't ever been able to find any way to "switch it off" -- so I wasn't able to do as she advised.  But I did find that shutting off the *judgment* was something I *could* do (although not easily at first) and doing that often ended up being less painful and exhausting *to me* than continuing to distrust, which was literally eating me alive.  Obviously, shutting off judgment and being trust-neutral was not something I felt it was safe to do when it came to important legal and financial matters, like paying taxes.  But I felt I could afford to do it on smaller things, and it really did more good in the long run than continuing to distrust.

well written

Newstart, I have similar issues, but Arwen has done a much better job in finding the right words for a good reply.  I hope that it helps.

another day wiser


An update... my wife of 12 years will be divorcing me.   This for me is finally hitting bottom, but the bottom is a springboard to bounce back and turn things around for myself.   ADHD has pros and cons, and I am discovering daily how to control it to be successful in relationships... I never want to go thru this again.  Repeating the same thing over and over in marriage but expecting different results is the definition of insanity.  I have ADHD, but I am not insane.    I am sad and feel worse for my kids but I know I'll be okay and have the tools to bounce back very high; my best days are ahead because I'm wiser each day. I hope other married couples can learn and acknowledging their ADHD problems, work together and forgive each other to be happy again; we all loved and got married to our spouses at one time for a reason!  Marriages may be rekindled, but divorce is when couples cannot.  These stories on this site are all good to hear and may offer hope and wisdom to those wives and husbands that can.  Thank you. 

Well, that was timely, my ADD

Well, that was timely, my ADD husband just came in to peek at what I was reading. He quickly left. He is waiting for me to get it together again, but after 3o years I think I've had enough... I must say though, I'm moved by your thoughts Dan, about the 'true character of a man'. That it is 'not courageous to fight a loving generous woman'. I am also curious, is this the emotion of the moment I'm reading about? It's been a few months now, are you still feeling the same passion about making the adjustments necessary to maintain a satisfactory relationship? When you know better, you should do better. Best of luck to you.

looks like I have contact ADD

looks like I have contact ADD now! I skipped through a number of posts and found your thoughtful comments insightful and encouraging Dan. Thanks much for your input!


Yes, I feel the same about myself, have great passion to make and making the necessary changes and more.   My life is 1/2 over (I'm 42), I don't have time to be unhappy the second half.  Remember, many ADHD'ers have a lot of passion and commitment/drive... we don't quit when the cause is for the greater good, we are resilient, learn from failure and can rebuild almost anything out of almost nothing. Unfortunately, she won't be around to benefit from the changes.  I tried the last month with all I could to save the marriage for my family, she would have nothing of it, it got me in more trouble than helped....she doesn't believe me, meaning she really never knew me... she is very irrational as everything I say, she must counter or disagree.   She told me to just take care of the kids and myself, not her. It's not anyone's nature, especially mine, to not help or care for people they love, but that is what she wants... nothing of me.  She even gets angry when I just ask her, how are you?  She's become a stone, it's frightening to see her so cold... there is still a heartbeat in there somewhere, but I would get beat up even more if I try to find it.   I want to be happy, I need to hyperfocus energy on being what will make me happy and she has removed herself from that equation.   I feel bad for her and me, and our kids, so much potential... but there is nothing more I can do for all of us.  Now it's just me and the kids, and we'll be fine.  Tomorrow and years from now, I will always hold my head-up high knowing I took the highroad and did all I could for my family, post my ADHD diagnosis... I will have no regrets of my efforts. Thank you.

Be careful

Dan, I know you mean well, but that term "high road" sets up warning flags in my head. Do be careful of judging her actions, and even your own.

Please do be aware that a) while you want to turn things around, years of your ADD brought her to this point (note that I'm not saying that she was blameless, but the ADD certainly played a huge part in this), b) you're not the only one acting in the best interest of your children, and c) you do have ADD, so there were things you did of which you were unaware and--even after having an "a-ha" moment, and particularly so early on in your awareness of your ADD--there may *still* be things you do or say of which you are unaware. I'm not saying that your wife isn't wrong, stubborn, unforgiving, whatever--I'm just saying that I think it's deeply unfair to make her the "baddie." Her coldness has its roots in the way she was treated--by you. She was profoundly hurt, and a natural reaction to that hurt is to get away from what was causing her pain. An extension of that is to get her children away from perceived harm.

Also, do be aware that your description of ADDers as being able to "learn from failure and (can) rebuild almost anything out of almost nothing" is not applicable to many. It might describe your good qualities (and I applaud you for that--those are wonderful qualities to have!), but I think that reading through a number of the posts in this forum you'll see that the overwhelming majority of ADDers do *not* learn from their mistakes (many don't see their mistakes to begin with, and they certainly don't understand the consequences of their actions), and don't really try to mend or rebuild much of anything. They just sort of go off on their way, leaving a messy trail of pain and emotional (not to mention financial) debt behind them. I'm not saying that this is you--it doesn't sound like it is--but this is the case with many, many ADDers referenced on this list.

insight and perspective, thank you

I hear you, you offer great insight and perspective, thank you.  I'm for full disclosure and open minded and believe-in and practice fairness.  I always wish to hear and tell both sides of every story and willingly offer it and take it.  Every story is believable until the other side sets the record straight.  I wanting to keep counseling going (post my ADHD diagnoses). I have nothing to hide and so much to say and be accountable for... she would have nothing of it.  I wish we could both go on Dr. Phil! :-)

I agree, most of the posts on this Web site forum, are of men unable to let go of their ADHD blindness.  That is sad and unfortunate.  These ADHD men all need a good slap-up-side their heads... wake up, fellas!  Be a man, get diagnosed, acknowledge it, then hyper-focus and fight your ADHD, don't ignore and argue with your wife.   You both married for a reason, that reason still is likely there.

I agree, "her coldness has its roots in the way she was treated--by you." but don't you wonder why did I treat her that way... do you think I woke up every morning and treated her wrongly?  Perhaps some ADHD people, but not me.  No, every day in a pre-ADHD diagnosed marriage, was a new day with hope and optimism for me.  True, throughout the day, I ignored her needs and simply let her be.   She felt alone/worthless... I didn't tell her that... she just thought that.  My fault?   Well, I could have told her I loved and needed her daily... but she could have too.  By the end of the day, she just wanted my attention or something from me, so she'd toss the first stone as the way to get it.  I didn't start fights but I ended them, because I thought it was justified to stand up against being mistreated (pre-ADHD diagnosis).  And I ended them badly, and countered her nagging with much worse words and the rest went downhill.  ADHD in a marriage causes a terrible downward cycle and this went on for last several years.  It's why, pre-ADHD diagnoses, I thought she was the problem, why is she hurting and nagging me all the time?  Post-ADHD diagnoses, I can now see it was my problem of inattention to her, annoyed her. If you think it is deeply unfair to make her the baddie now, you'd have to hear the entire story. My psychologist invited my wife to talk with him alone, she refused.  What is she so afraid of, hearing the truth?  Understanding or reasoning?  I'm 42 and married 12 years... she filed for divorce less than one-month after I was finally diagnosed.  Huh?  There is so much I want to know, yet she's keeping secrets, I am not.  It will likely be years before I know the truth.  Yes, she is profoundly hurt by my ADHD and it may take years to recover.  I accept that.  In the mean time, my children and me will be profoundly hurt by this divorce.  When someone dies, you want to know answers and reason why. Divorce is a death of a marriage, it is also fair to want to know everything and why.  Divorce is serious, so learn the facts before pulling the plug. Imagine the poor families that lose a loved one, but never know how/why/what truly happened.   That is the grief I'm currently living with today.  Yes, ADHD is a SOB.. IT IS A MARRIAGE KILLER, death by a thousand cuts... and I want nothing more than to never again let it be the unexpected death of my relationships again.  That alone is enough reason for me to change and I will.  Won't be done overnight, but God gave me the tools and willpower, and this divorce taught me a lesson... so I am on my way.   First half of my life was a dress-rehearsal in marriage, career and life... lots of mistakes but learned from them.... now is the time to make it really happen, successfully.

arwen's picture

your spouse may need more

Dan, you seem to feel your wife is being unreasonable for not joining you in counseling, and for filing for divorce after your diagnosis.  While I obviously don't know you or your wife, I have been in a situation very similar to what it sounds like your spouse is in now.  My experience with this situation was that after so many years of coping with my husband's unfulfilled commitments, inattention and other problem behaviors, I felt like I had done my share of the work in the marriage -- possibly for life!!!  I felt that it was time for him to step up to the plate and do the hard work.  He hadn't helped me before he was diagnosed, and I felt that therefore he was not entitled to my help afterwards.  Yes, it would have been understanding and generous of me to do so, but I didn't owe it to him in my view.

Furthermore, after so many many many broken promises, I'd reached a point where I felt I could not trust him again, unless he established a VERY LONG record of improvement.  I don't mean weeks, I don't mean months, I mean years.  That may seem extreme -- but since my husband's ADD varies seasonally because he also has SAD, I had no assurance that the three months of great improvement he might make over a summer would be sustained during the following nine months.  Your wife may feel the same way.  I realize that may seem like a very daunting challenge to face -- I'm not defending it or saying it's good, I'm just saying that's how I felt when I was at this point.    A lot of the time I felt I was being tricked or conned by him, and I was not willing to go out on any kind of limb for him for fear of being tricked again and be left out there alone.

I stayed in my marriage after my husband was diagnosed, but not because my husband's efforts to change made it worthwhile.  Quite the contrary, for quite a while the pace of his improvement was glacial, and I almost certainly would have divorced my husband myself had I not felt that this would be much more detrimental for my son than staying married would be for both my children.  During this time, I did help my husband in every way he asked except for joining his counseling (we did joint counseling for a brief time after his diagnosis, but I bowed out after only a few sessions -- it was an additional expense of both time and money that I could not really afford, and it didn't seem to make any difference either way).   I did follow the counselor's recommendations.  I did work at understanding ADD and my husband's different abilities.  And I can't count the number of times I metaphorically slapped my husband upside the head!  Whenever that happened, he'd always "wake up" and see what I was saying, and he'd genuinely feel like he wanted to do better and promised to try to do so.  And he would, for a while.  Yet, a few weeks later, we'd usually be right back at square one.  *He* didn't feel we were back to where we'd been, he felt like since he had had an epiphany and had made an effort, we'd made progress.  He couldn't grasp the concept of a *sustained* effort, or a *sustained* behavioral change.  "Maintenance" (whether home or relationship) only entered his conceptual vocabulary about three years ago.  Without "maintenance" in his behaviors, my feelings about them *and him* could not and did not change.

I don't know if this is where your wife could be coming from.  I guess what I'm saying is, I think it's great that you recognize your problems and are working to cope with them, but I am also inclined to doubt that at this relatively early point in your efforts, you have truly managed to appreciate your wife's experiences with you over the course of your relationship.  As Atticus Finch says in "To Kill a Mockingbird", "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."  To you, every day you got up was new and promising -- that's very typical of folks with ADD, because it's so much easier for you to forget whatever you would prefer not to dwell on -- but your wife probably did not, not necessarily because she might be a negative person, but because lacking this facility you have, she perhaps also remembered *all* the bad stuff, as I did in my relationship.  Just as the non-ADDer needs to understand that the ADD mind does not work the same way as the non-ADD mind, so does the ADDer need to understand this!  At the time of our separation, my husband also thought I was the "baddie" -- he just couldn't see things from my viewpoint at all.  I, on  the other hand, could see his viewpoint as well as mine, and could objectively evaluate the appropriateness of both.  Sometimes I realized I *was* being unreasonable, admitted it and worked to change.  Yet far more often it was my spouse who was dealing with the problems inappropriately and could not see it without many hours of argument/explanation/analogy/slaps-upside-the-head.  Both my husband and I have had to learn not to judge each other by our own mental modes of operation, but we have worked to try to set reasonable and fair standards, and these standards are not necessarily the same for both of us because of our differences. 

Until you have been able to go through a similar process, I beseech you in the name of fairness to not judge your spouse at all -- in my experience it only closes your mind to the alternative possibilities.

good insight, thank you... and notable ADHD'ers

Thanks Arwen, you provide very good insight from experience and I thank you for that.   I love the Atticus Finch quote; excellent movie and a great line... it brings into perspective a lot of opinions that people have of other people in this world,... and in this marriage.  You are correct, nobody really or truly knows me or my wife unless they walked in our shoes for the last 40 years or shadowed our marriage for the last 12 of those years.

My psychologist each week reminds me of perspective.   The first time I met him, he holds up a blank piece of paper and asked me what I see.  I said, a blank piece of paper, he said he doesn't see that, then he flipped it around and showed me on his side a bunch of writing.   We are looking at the same thing, but completely different perspective. 

You are correct, in all fairness, it is best not to judge without all the facts, without a complete perspective of everything, I mean literally EVERYTHING... my wife and I don't have all the facts still, nobody does... I tried to seek more facts but only got burned… My wife turned our legal separation into a divorce because I just wouldn’t stop asking… why?   She wouldn’t answer, I kept asking, imagine that… there is such a thing as a dumb question.  :-)   Well, I’m learning every day to not let my ADHD’s curiosity get the best of me.   Persistence is a good ADHD trait, but too much of anything is a bad trait.  ADHD hurt my marriage in the first place, now my ADHD is getting me divorced, not just legally separated... a hard but effective way for me to never forget what ADHD can do to one's self.   I hope someone learns from my mistakes before they commit them.  My young son was recently diagnosed with ADHD too, someday he may struggle with the same in his marriage, so openly talking about these life's lessons now will help when I and his family will be there for him down the road.
Unfortunately today, many in both of our lives with even lesser facts of our marriage have already placed their judgments within our respective ears.  You have no idea how often I’ve defended my wife against the comments from my circle of close confidants. I’m a very fair person, and can only wish she’s doing the same courtesy.    That’s a question for everyone…. do women decide and stick to divorcing their spouse solely on their own, or do they get opinions and feedback from their network of close confidants?  If you surround yourself around pro-work-it-out people or pro-get-out-now people…  your decision and sticking to it is influenced, correct?  Peer pressure never goes away in our lives, resisting peer pressure has a lot to say about one’s strength and character.   I often am going against the grain, I go with what I believe is the right thing to do… why ADHD’ers rub certain people the wrong way.

Every day is a school day for ADHD’ers, and I’ll keep learning life’s lessons.   I’ll end with some quotes from famous ADHD’ers… Bill Cosby, a famous person who overcame his ADHD to be successful and someone that everyone looks up to, admires and respects as one of America’s favorite family man and father.  He posted this recently on his Facebook page  the quote, “Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think - in a deeper voice.”    From experience, those are words Mr. Cosby has learned and other ADHD men need to practice.  Another quote from another famous, successful ADHD person, Thomas A. Edison… “You will have many opportunities in life to keep your mouth shut: You should take advantage of every one of them.”   I'm not much different than your average guy, but I am getting divorced because of one big reason:  my thoughts unfortunately come out of my mouth.  People with ADHD have so much going on up in “their attic”, too much to keep in... we need to learn to slow down before emptying out "the attic".  Bottom-line advise for men with ADHD… don’t say what you and actually all men are really thinking if you want a successful and happy marriage…. bite your tongue and just smile and wave, boys… smile and wave.  Once you discover and accept your ADHD, then remember you married you wife for one main reason, you loved her!  Love is all you really need to be happy in life and eternity.  “Love is all you need.” – John Lennon, yet another notable ADHD’er!  Thank you, Dan.

wife's perspective for Dan

DAn - I will be honest here and say that I've made it only this far through this very long thread.  However, at this point there are a couple of things that are bothering me, so I want to speak up.

First, I think that you have learned a great deal about ADHD and how it affects relationships.  But I'm not sure you've fully gotten to the part where you've internalized that there was lots of stuff that you did because of ADHD symptoms (like be too distracted to pay attention to your wife) and that you didn't always hear her responses back to you.  It's highly unlikely, for example, that the very first way that she tried to get your attention once she felt she had lost it was to "toss the first stone" as you say.  Much more likely is that she tried a bunch of less aggressive and more affectionate measures, but that your ADHD didn't let you see them.  Eventually, after trying better ways, she decided that tossing stones was the only effective way to get your attention.  You didn't consciously start fights, but that doesn't mean that your symptoms didn't create an environment in which it was hard to get your attention without a fight.  This is a pattern that is way, way too common in ADHD relationships and it's hard to blame anything other than the ADHD symptoms.  You both responded and behaved in ways that made perfect sense when ADHD was undetected.

Another issue - you underestimate the effect of ADHD on a spouse when you say your problem of inattention "annoyed her".  Annoyed doesn't even begin to describe the sheer desperation many non-ADHD spouses feel when their mate completely ignores them.  Are they unworthy?  Unlovable?  Was the marriage a mistake?  Does her spouse hate her?  Why doesn't the sexy lingerie work???  She may well have told you she loved you...but you then didn't respond (at least you didn't if your pattern was typical).  You may not even have heard her.  She didn't get married to get ignored (and, simultaneously, be someone's personal slave, which is the other half of being ignored...the ADHD person usually ignores everything that has to do with the house and homelife - chores, kids, etc.)

Your wife likes your family and it is in everyone's best interests if all of the family relationships which can be maintained are kept intact, as much as that may irk you.  Is there some game playing going on to make sure she "looks good" in your family's eyes and you don't look so good?  Maybe.  She's likely mad enough for that.  But she'll get past that if you don't respond, and just stay the course of being a good person.  Family members will eventually conclude that the two of you were bad for each other, but are good people nonetheless.

You say you want to know and understand all that she is feeling.  But I think she has actually told you a lot about what she is feeling - because you've written it here.  She's done with you and your marriage.  She wants to move on in her life.  She can't see herself being married to you for longer and doesn't wish to be sucked back into the possibility of thinking about it.  She figures she's tried long enough.  She doesn't have faith that you will actually change (vs. just hyperfocusing for a while).  Just because you have decided that the best way for you to heal is to share your feelings, she has also decided on her own path to healing - keeping her thoughts private.  Both are legitimate and should be respected.  (She's probably not all that thrilled that you are sharing your story - and hers - so broadly...and she may worry that you're just trying to make her look bad by suggesting that if she would just come back everything would be better so she's the "meanie" since she doesn't want to risk that.)  She doesn't want to deal with ADHD - you haven't stated why, but one common reason would be that she thinks that you're using it as an excuse...

You have a wonderful story, and I'm grateful for how you have shared it here with the people who read this site (and me).  I hope you'll keep sharing it.  But you need to let you wife go fully, not partially.  That means intellectually accepting her choices and internalizing her right to make them.  Don't assume she wants to, or needs to, hear "the truth" (read, your truth).  She's moving on and healing in her own way (which may include things that irritate you, like going out with girlfriends).  You and your children can recover from this divorce most quickly if you let her go, accept her for who she is without further criticism (and accept her decisions) and create as happy and healthy an environment for each other as you can.  Create a business-like relationship with your wife to manage details as necessary, welcome her into the family as best you can for the sake of the kids, and deal with your ADHD for your own sake and for the sake of your kids.  (i.e. don't harbor any secret illusions that your wife will come back once she sees you've changed.  That's extremely unlikely at this point.)

You actually already understand what happened to your marriage, if you are willing to accept it.  Untreated ADHD happened to your marriage.  You didn't know anything about it as you were going through it, so you couldn't have changed what happened at the time - in other words you and your wife did the best you could.  So you know what happened to your marriage and you are building the tools to keep it from happening to you again in the future.  You are now aware enough that you can change your future so it is much brighter.  Or, you can spend a lot of time wallowing around in the past and trying to affix blame.  That's not the direction I would choose, though.  Don't obsess about your wife's "secrets".  They make no difference to you whatsoever at this point.  And your concern for them indicates that you are still trying to blame someone (her,at least some of the time) rather than your ADHD symptoms.  Don't go there - you'll never unravel it.

Change yourself, change your life, take charge, love those kids for all they are worth and move forward.  You'll be much happier.

Best of luck with it...and please keep us up to speed on your efforts.

Does ADHD alone cause marriage problems? It has to be more.

Thanks Melissa for your valuable comments.   There is so much I want to ask, but in consideration to prevent such a long reply... I discovered my problem is more than just ADHD and I wrote about it here... where I touch upon how a parent affects a child.

Yes, I have ADHD, but that alone shouldn't cause a marriage to collapse terribly like it has.  In the posts I've read on this site, there is much more going on than just "inattention" in marriages, including my marriage.  Something my psychologist introduced to me recently, we learned I am affected being an Adult Child of Alcoholic, ACoA... something millions of families are affected by.   During my youth, up thru today, I hid the shame of having a drunk father, who loved and provided, but he was unkind to my mother.

I thought I was a much better husband than my father was, but my ADHD clouded that judgement too. I compensated and covered for him as a child and didn't want anything to do with him as an adult, but I ended up being alot like him, minus the drinking. So what I brought to my marriage is ADHD, ACoA, a touch of OCD, plus my wife and I work at the same small business, plus any other yet undetected problems... and, oh my God... The Perfect Storm.   With all this hidden baggage, it seems no spouse would have stood a chance with me.  I see the problem so vividly now, it's like reading a shakespearean tragedy, you just want to stop and rewrite it.  I cannot change what is done, but now that I felt the pain that these chapters in my life caused, I will change and get help to never make the same mistakes again, that would be insanity.   I want nothing more than to just be happy with myself and let go of the demons that have prevented me.  I need to start writing the happy ending for my life, and if it is God's will, I know that I can.

arwen's picture

one data point is not enough

Dan, you remind me very much of my husband in some of your posts, like this one -- he has a habit of generalizing from a single data point (he does it because it makes thinking so much easier!!!).  As any scientist can tell you, however, this is not a useful practice.  From time to time you may be lucky enough to be examining a single data point that happens to exemplify the generalization, but most of the time that will not be the case.

However, one data point can *disprove* a hypothesis.

I understand that in *your* individual situation, ADD may not have been the only thing that contributed to the demise of your marriage.  But I assure you that it definitely was in the near-demise of mine.  As you may  have heard me say in other posts, the ADD exhibited by the men in my husband's family has a strong hormonal correlation.  Regardless of the life circumstances, they all "outgrow" their ADD behaviors in puberty, and then the ADD kicks back in around age 40.  (You can actually really accurately guess their ages according to this pattern if you watch their behaviors, it's uncanny.)  I met my husband in our early 20's, by which time he was exhibiting very very few ADD behaviors -- the only ADD behaviors that had persisted through puberty was a problem managing money, and he was something of a slob (but a LOT of young guys, with or without ADD, have that problem!).  When we married a year after our engagement, we had the natural disagreements that crop up between any couple from time to time, but it was only the normal adjustments of marriage.  We didn't have a lot of fights, I wasn't constantly frustrated or upset, and mostly we were pretty happy, our lives were good.  I think my husband would say the same.  Yes, I've said that I'm fundamentally an impatient and angry person, but there was little about my husband that made me impatient and angry.  And he's a very easygoing guy, so it didn't upset him unduly on the few occasions when I was.

But when he began to gradually grow back into his ADD behaviors around age 40, things gradually became more and more difficult.  We began to have constant misunderstandings and miscommunications.  He had increasing trouble following through on commitments.  He stopped being mindful of safety issues around our kids.  He was neglectful about many responsibilities and money matters, and cost us a lot of money as a  result.  He'd never put anything away, and was constantly losing things.  These were not behaviors he exhibited in his 20's and 30's except for the money management issues.

I'm sure if I'd been less angry as these behaviors developed, our marriage would have fared better.  But my point is, the ADD alone was the trigger, the instigator of the problems.  If he had continued to behave the way he did in his 20's and 30's, we would have continued with a happy marriage, my hair wouldn't be prematurely grey, and you and I would not know each other because I never would have been driven to consult guidance on the internet.  My marriage is intact today, not because ADD was the only significant instigator of problems, but because my husband and I both worked like dogs to save it.

I try very hard not to generalize from just my experience with my husband.  It is an example, not a prototype -- there is a difference!  However, I have the somewhat unique advantage of having my husband's entire extended family to examine, where all the men in at least four generations have/had ADD, so I have a broader population to observe and draw conclusions from than the average person.  Trust me, they are not all the same!  Some have had addiction problems, some have not.  Some are really self-absorbed, some are not.  Some have memory problems, some do not.  I can't look at any one of them and draw conclusions about the others -- I can only draw conclusions from looking at a lot of them and seeing what behaviors they share.

Finally, my husband grew up with a dad who did not have any addictions, and whose parents had a happy marriage.  Yes, his dad did have ADD, but that was the only potentially negative influence.  Yet we had a stormy marraige for the 15 years between the onset of my husband's ADD behaviors and the resolution of our separation a few years ago.  Contrariwise, my husband 's father had an alcoholic father, and yet my father-in-law's marriage was quite happy.

So I have to say that I can't agree with your idea that something else has to be going on in the marriage besides ADD in order for it to fall apart.  The experiences of my own marriage and that of my husband's parents show that this does not have to be the case.

Good to know, but sometimes there is more.

Arwen... okay thanks.  So maybe today I would still be going through a divorce, only because of my ADHD...  but in addition to it, I also grew up living with an alcoholic father that mistreated his wife.  He never laid a hand on my mom, but did un-normal things, she's a very caring, strong and forgiving person to get thru it.   I know what I saw was wrong, not normal, and it bothered me, but didn't really learn, what is normal?  So I guessed and tried to improve upon what I witnessed and bring it to my marriage... but I just didn't improve enough for my particular marriage to last.  This is why my wife doesn't accept ADHD as an excuse, I doubt she's even been on this Web site yet, she told me it's more than just ADHD with me.   She bothered by something more: the lingering traits I picked up from my father.  I recall her and I talked years ago... why she loves my father even though she sees how my father is overbearing toward my mother, something that bothered both of us to witness... but she still got along great, was buddies with my dad.  Her answer was something like... "he is not like that to me."   ADHD is for sure a problem in my marriage, but my parents were not Ward and June Cleaver... my parents were more like Archie and Edith Bunker.  I knew my dad set a wrong example to live a marriage, but today I am finally discovering things, including my ADHD, were perhaps blinding me from knowing, finding and practicing what is the right way to live in a marriage.  

ADHD enough to ruin a marriage

ADHD often does come with other issues, and it sounds as if yours has. But yes, ADHD "alone" is enough to ruin a marriage if it isn't understood and gotten under control. It isn't the ADHD that makes the marriage collapse, per se, but what the untreated ADHD makes the marriage look like. Imagine living with a spouse who paid no attention to you, didn't pull his fair share of the weight (but claimed he did), had trouble holding a job, put you both in debt, then declared that everything was fine? That's what some of these marriages look like. Those things are ALL the result of untreated and not-understood ADHD symptoms. You say "with all the hidden baggage it seems no spouse would have stood a chance with me". Yes, that's true, until such time as you come to grips with your role and start to change who you are in your relationship. It sounds as if it's too late for this one, but next time this stuff won't be "hidden" any more and you'll do a better job of taking care of it (and LISTENING when your spouse starts to tell you that the two of you are in trouble...even if that message might scare you.) Could you have listened before? Maybe, and that's the tragedy of it all. You'll never know the direction your marriage might have taken if someone had suggested ADHD 10 years earlier, before it was too late. It's something to mourn as you pick up the pieces.

thanks for the encouragement

Thanks Melissa for the encouraging words.   Yes, that a good way of putting it, I'm in "mourning", I'm sad for many reasons but I know the sun will rise again tomorrow.  It helps to see what needs to be done differently next time.  Now that I discovered I have ADHD and ACoA... the next time around when I'm in a relationship again (which at this point, I have no interest), I won't let my ADHD sucker punch the relationship.  Not sure if good idea, but maybe I should tell the person I'm with, when the time is right, if she sees negative ADHD traits in me... please let me know.  I'll be aware, but I won't be perfectly aware of all my actions, nobody is perfect.  What my marriage went through, I won't let happen again, but if the warning sirens go off.... I'll be listening!   Yep, it is a tragedy, but the greater the tragedy, I guess the deeper the lesson is learned and remembered.  Like the saying goes... No pain, no gain... God knows there has been pain, so it only makes sense of it all when moving forward to somehow gain and improve from this painful experience.

Dan, just so you know... It's

Dan, just so you know... It's taken me six months to talk to my ADD spouse (and that's after the three month's I couldn't even look at him). At first, all I could do is scream. I want him to hear me and consider me which he simply can't. I have accommodated him in every way while my own needs have been dismissed. After thirty years of dealing with it and never getting anywhere but in the hole financially, I want to give up. He tells me what I want to hear but he does what he wants to do. I can't believe anything he says. It's confusing, frightening and frustrating to try to deal with someone who seems to be living in a distorted reality. Though he says he loves me, I don't feel close to him and I can't trust him at all. I'm not feeling hopeful either.

I don't know specifically how your wife is feeling but that's what I'm feeling.

thanks Clarity

Thank you... the more I hear and read about ADHD and what it does to marriages, the more I'm am helped... thank you, Clarity.   I believe my wife is feeling what you are feeling... your comments and many other wives' comments on this Web site are similar to my household's story.  It is very real hearing them.   I think your comment "Though he says he loves me, I don't feel close to him and I can't trust him at all. I'm not feeling hopeful either" likely says exactly what my wife is feeling but what she won't tell me.  We've been married 12 years, but it's been really been headed downhill the last half of those years when our second child came.  My wife for years could handle one ADHD husband one-on-one, but add one then finally two kids later.... she effectively was dealing with 3 vs. 1... outnumbered in the household.  Again, I see it now post-ADHD diagnoses, but didn't all those blind years.

Tough question..... if a couple is so far apart that she can't even look at him, let alone think of him... but let's say hypothetically... the man has truly turned the corner and is changing for the better.... what should a husband do if his words today still don't mean anything to her?   Is seems that the answer is absolutely nothing.  Time heals, but it may take years... so all the man could do at this point, is go thru with the divorce and take the chance that both are still available to rekindle the love in a couple years, right?  That is what I've accepted, there is no other choice I can see.  What really hurts is we're both giving, caring, lovable, good people... I don't see either of us lasting a couple of years, single.   The thought of being with someone else makes me feel sick right now... but I don't know how long after I'm divorced that feeling will last.   One cannot control the future but one can plan for it, but where my wife and I are currently headed, nobody could plan for what may come.  Frightening.

arwen's picture

don't give up hope completely

Dan, I don't want to give you false hope, but it does sometimes work out.  My husband's uncle (who has ADD) and aunt (who doesn't) divorced after 30 years of marriage over his problems (he was undiagnosed and not getting any treatment, wouldn't go to any kind of counseling).  They were divorced for something like 3 to 5 years, and then got back together and eventually remarried, after he accepted his problems and agreed to work with her cooperatively and really listen.    During the period they were divorced, neither could find anybody they really wanted to be with, and the time they were apart gave them an opportunity to cool off and sort of re-set their relationship, and also to remember what they had like about each other at the beginning.  I'm sure this is the exception rather than the rule, but it *can* happen.

thanks, but....

Thanks Arwen.... but I think my situation is different.  My wife and I are relatively young, she's 39 and married only 12 years.   I'm home with our two boys this weekend, while she's out and about with her friends or whoever doing whatever God knows what.   She actually called my sister on Thanksgiving day, before I arrived there, to say hello.  Huh?   Isn't it odd that she's divorcing me, treats me coldly, talks down to me, is unforgiving and really acts like she has no heart when I'm around, but then she is so sweet to my family still?  Like what the heck?  My mother told me, for years whenever she called and asked my wife "how are things?" and my wife always replied... "just fine".   My mom loves my wife, and she know this... yet she wouldn't tell my mom anything.  This is why my mother is devastated over this divorce and was in shock (still is).  My mother wishes she could have done something, but was left in the dark all wasn't that bad right up to the end.  My wife filed for this divorce and gives everyone in her family and network of friends the sob story that she's really shooken up over how awful our marriage was and turns them against me... but in reality I think she's really enjoying her freedom. Since I known her, she's always been a social butterfly.  Me... I'm the workaholic/entrepreneur and enjoy just being with my family at the end of the long day.  I love being a dad right now.  As for my wife, I don't see her needed years to recoup and find someone.     I'm beginning to figure things out... sure, I do have ADHD, but I'm beginning to understand why my wife didn't care I had ADHD diagnosis or care if I'm doing anything about it... the ADHD justifes a divorce to everyone, while at the same time she just misses being single again.  I'm sad and sick to my stomach everyday, stressing and lost almost 30 pounds since no appetite, but all in all this is working out pretty good so far for my wife.

I feel sad and wish I could do something for all the non-ADHD wives in this site... there are truly a lot of eye-opening stories and I feel for each of those wives TRYING TO GET THEIR HUSBANDS TO LISTEN, you all have amazing courage and strength to fight for your marriage.   All the people posting on this ADHD site are truly affected and want to help defeat ADHD, including me... but even though I told my wife about this Web site, she is not here... she got pissed whenever I brought my ADHD up.  I recall now, she did demand I stop mentioning my ADHD to her.   I have TRIED TO GET MY WIFE TO LISTEN, but she is NOT here on this site listening, reading, posting her story, commenting with other non-ADHD wives? Isn't that peculiar?  Why is it that all the wives on this site know ADHD is wrecking or has wrecked their marriages, but my wife denies or ignores my ADHD as a cause?   This is my same incredible frustration (in reverse) many of you wives are feeling... a wife (instead of the husband) in complete denial of the husband's ADHD affect on the marriage.

arwen's picture

saying "just fine" when it isn't

Dan, it sounds to me again like you may be judging your wife's behavior, and I'm concerned that if you are you may be doing something that my ADD husband does quite a lot -- when he's trying to figure out why I've done or said something, he often doesn't think about *everything* relevant to the situation (because thinking about that many things is really hard for him), and makes simplifying assumptions that are actually inappropriate or unwarranted, although of course he doesn't realize it.  As a result, he often comes to the wrong conclusion.    He also doesn't examine his hypothesis very critically, doesn't test it or check it in any way, he just starts thinking and behaving as if his conclusion is proved true.  This has been very counterproductive in our relationship, as he often imputes thoughts and motives to me that are nothing like what I am really thinking, and "in response" treats me in ways I don't deserve.

I keep trying to get my husband to understand that the goal in contemplating  other people's behaviors is *not* to solve some kind of puzzle, but to try to achieve *understanding* -- to put yourself in their place, with *their* background and *their* capabilities (which can be very difficult, I admit), and think about how you would then feel .   Anybody can come up with *an* explanation -- coming up with the *right* explanation takes a lot of time and effort.  It requires you to think, hypothesize, question/test the hypothesis, revise/reconsider, maybe revise several times -- and then when you are done, you have to remember that you *still* could be off base -- you can only be sure if you are able to get a truthful answer from the person whose behavior you are trying to evaluate.

As far as why your wife said your situation was "just fine" to your mom when it wasn't -- of course, I don't know your situation, but I know in my own experience that when I tried to tell my mother-in-law (who I love and who loves me) about the problems I was having with my spouse's ADD, her response was that I must be exaggerating or distorting things, or that I must have misunderstood my husband, or that it was my role as a wife to cope with my husband idiosyncracies (whatever they might be).  It wasn't possible that her dear delightful son could have any negative behaviors, but if he did, it must be my fault for not being flexible enough or too demanding.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I never contributed to our problems, but she couldn't listen to anything about it objectively.  After a year or two, I gave up talking to her about it and started giving her "just fine" myself.

This was not only true with my mother-in-law.  Just about *anybody* I tried to talk to about it who knew my husband had a similar kind of reaction.  My husband is a charming, helpful, easy-going guy who gets along pretty well with people on a superficial level.  Since they didn't experience many of the problems with my husband's behaviors, they couldn't understand why I thought I was having such a bad time with them.  The guy they "knew" didn't behave like that, and it didn't seem possible to them that he would behave one way at work (in a structured environment with simple rules and limited responsibility) than he would at home (in an unstructured environment with complex rules and a wide scope of responsibility).  The only person who ever believed me was my office-mate, because she couldn't help overhearing phone conversations I sometimes had with my husband over problems, and because she and I were together the greater part of every day, she could see the toll the problems were taking on me.  So, everybody but my office-mate was shocked to hear when my husband and I separated.

Aside from my own experience, I can think of several other reasons right off the top of my head why your wife may have behaved the way she did -- embarrassment; concern that your mom might have taken her comments as criticism of your upbringing; a feeling that marital problems are private matters.  If I worked at it for a while, I know I could think of dozens of possible explanations.  The point is, there are so many reasonable possibilities that I can't possibly guess her reasons -- I don't know, so I'm not prepared to judge or make any assumptions about it.

I should also point out that it's possible for your wife to *both* be shaken up by the divorce proceedings, *and* be enjoying her freedom.  When my husband and I were separated, I was very sad and upset that our marriage had come to such a point.  At the same time, not having to deal with my husband's problems on a 24/7 basis was a real relief (like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders), and I was definitely happier on an everyday basis. 

As I've said, I can't know what has actually motivated your wife, but just because she made a different choice than I did doesn't mean she felt any differently.  Of course, it's possible she feels as you suggest.  We may never know.  But my experience has taught me that it's usually counterproductive in such situations to make assumptions and judgements.  For your own sake, I would like to once again urge you to make the effort to stay clear of these temptations.

So Arwen, Are you still

So Arwen, Are you still happier on an everyday basis now that you are back with your husband?  Do you miss the simplicity of life alone, or were you lonely and missing him????

arwen's picture

now is different

I am happier now on an everyday basis with my husband, yes.  But that was not true either before our separation, or right after it.  I am happier now than I was right after we got back together because we have worked hard to forge a dynamic where we can both be happier.

Life wasn't more *simple* alone -- it was *less frustrating*.  Because my husband and I have both worked hard at it, my everyday life with him is *now* less frustrating, too.

While we were separated, I missed my husband -- like a toothache.  I know that sounds terrible, but it's true.  Even when we reached the decision to get back together and try again, it wasn't great.  But we had made progress during the separation and I could see there was real potential for more improvement.

As far as being lonely is concerned, I wasn't any lonelier when we were separated than before it.  My husband was supportive of me in a very vague, general, theoretical way,  and he would try on occasion to be thoughtful of me, but his "thoughtfulness" was often self-serving or poorly considered with little effort.  I didn't get much affection or heartfelt consideration, my emotional needs were definitely not met (and I am not a co-dependent type).  So I was already very lonely even before the separation.

The thing that you need to understand about our situation is that my husband's ADD is hormonally linked -- he "grew out of it" during puberty and "grew back in" around age 40.  So when I met him and when we married 35 years ago, he exhibited very few ADD behaviors, and those were pretty mild, with the exception of a problem handling financial matters.  We didn't know he had ADD until he was in his early 40's.  I knew what a wonderful guy my husband could be (and was for the first 10 years we were married), and while I realized that his ADD was never going to "go away" again, his behaviors before our separation -- even with meds and counseling -- was nowhere near what he'd been like in the early years and what I knew he was capable of.  (I don't mean I think he was capable of exactly the same behavior as when he was young.  I mean he was capable of living by the same moral/ethical values, which had fallen by the wayside when his ADD resurged, and the behaviors that were affected by them.)  Even after we got back together, there was still a pretty big gap between his behaviors and his potential.  

*Now*, with hard work and tweaking his meds and light therapy, he has realized that potential.  If he had stayed the same as he was when we ended our separation, I would *not* be happier on an everyday basis.

If he really is doing the

If he really is doing the right thing, he'll need to keep doing it to prove his desire to do better not just for me but for himself. It took thirty years for us to get here, and we won't get out of this place anytime soon. Two years of medication will not erase twenty eight years of manipulation. I want to know that his heart attitude has changed and he no longer defiantly demands his own way, but desires to learn and apply what he has learned so that he can grow to be the best he can be. I need him to change course and not just tell me that is what he has done. His words mean something when the appropriate action is applied. Otherwise those words are of no effect. Empty.

There is no money for a divorce, a vacation or good counsel. I cannot support myself and I have no family to turn to. I've taken the spare room upstairs. I'm stuck here and I don't know how long it will take me to get out. It helps that he is making an effort to make things right but I don't know how long that will last. There is no future in the moment and I don't now how to hope for a happy ending right now. Maybe time will tell...

Really, I wish you well.

feel for you

Thanks Clarity... I really feel for you.   It is heartbreaking to hear your story and grief.   How ironic things can be... there are people in this world that get divorced for the wrong reasons, and people that cannot get divorced that have the right reasons to.   Divorce, especially with children, isn't something that should not be taken lightly, yet unfortunately in this country it's very easy to get divorced if there is money, and very difficult if there is none.   The saying is true, as in my case or without, as in your case.... money is the root of all evil.

So many heart-strong wives on this site... I am envious of all your husbands, yet I wish to sit down with each of them and tell them my story, so they realize how fortunate to date they are.

Here is the email from my wife, when I first tried telling her I'm getting help for my ADHD... she emailed me this AFTER she already filed for divorce. (in hindsight now I see it really didn't matter I have ADHD or not.  Like my mom commented to me... she's only 39 and single again, she's not thinking rationally now.   Best I can hope for is AFTER we're divorced and the family broken up... she may finally get around to researching ADHD in regards to marriage and relationships.

I am asking you to once again respect my wish/request to stop sending me these emails and IM’s in regard to ADD and ADHD.  I can do the research myself in regard with (our children), but in regard to marriage and relationships I will deal with that when I am ready.  I need to do that on my own.

Your wife may need the space

Your wife may need the space right now. I know six months later, I still do! The fact that she is friendly with your family is probably a good sign. I can assume she never told your mother about anything simply because she couldn't. Your mother is most likely going to stick up for you. When I spoke about our issues and tried to get some history, my in laws fiercely defended my ADD husband and accused me of being an instigator. I wasn't up for another fight and they sure didn't recognize my desperation. 

ADD is such a deceptive disorder. It is difficult to unravel the confusing behavior mixed with the jumble of emotion. After 40, many women have hormone fluctuations to deal with too, I know I had a number of health issues because of that. It was certainly not the sexual peak I had anticipated. It was a myth I guess, kind of like the saying about money. It's actually the love of money that is at the root of all evil. The saying most likely refers to a verse in scripture, 1 Timothy 6:10.

You really can't assume anything Dan, I've learned to research everything and play it by ear, take it like it comes, go with the flow, then I hope for the best when I can.

arwen's picture

well said, Clarity

Dan, I agree with most of what Clarity has said here.

Beyond that, I would also like to comment on something suggested in your wife's email.  She says that she is asking you again (my italics) to not send emails or IMs to her about ADD.  That sounds like she asked you once before, and that you did not respect her request.  This would not be likely to inspire her trust or respect.  In my experience, if you want someone to listen to you, you must demonstrate that you are listening to them, in every way.  I can understand that you may want very intensely to share your discoveries with your wife, perhaps in order to motivate a change in her perspective towards you, but in any peer relationship, I have found it is essential to give the other person's perspective *at least* equal value with your own -- even if you believe you "know better" than the other person.

we will never know, until the truth is eventually discovered.

Thanks Clarity and Arwen...

Bottom-line, I guess all of us here in this forum, openly talking, will never know the real truth... the other person in my marriage isn't talking, keeping things private.  Someday, I'll discover the truth and will learn from it and move on towards a better life.  The range of answers could be: she is completely devastated to she's having an affair.  She is the only one hiding things at this point.  Normally it would be fair when breaking up with someone, to just level with them... give yes/no, black/white answers so both parties can just simply begin to heal.  But I guess she's not talking but waiting until after getting her divorce settlement.  The only person that can bring peace for me right now is not saying anything; so she has found peace by not talking... we both are looking at the exact same issue, but two completely opposite perspectives.   It's how my psychologist described and I understand and must go thru, her gain is my loss after years of my gain and her loss.  The cruel irony of an ADHD marriage, but now in reverse.... it's why I going to beat my ADHD, I hate my ADHD and what it's done to me and my family.   I'm experiencing the pain of loving someone hurting me, but I am staying away from her since it is over, and finding comfort with what is truly unconditional love, my two postive energy boys, and have peace knowing someday we'll all know the truth but will be over it by then.   Thanks again for your thoughts and comments.   Talking and listening helps beyond just the words, it proves there are many good anonymous souls in this world.  :-)

Both appreciate you--and think you need a bit of a slap :)

Dan, I admire so much what you are doing with your life and here on this site.  I think  your determination to conquer your ADHD is as valiant as any I've seen.  Please understand how much I value this as my husband hasn't had the type of shock you've had and he is still a bit slow to make changes with his ADD.  As the non-ADD partner, I do want to say a couple of things in defense of your wife.  Firstly, please understand that I believe the *right* thing for her to do is to work on this marriage esp now that you are willing to work on it with her, and because you have children that you'll be raising together regardless.  My husband has a mild case of ADD and while he frustrates me to no end at times and I want to kick him in the pants to get him motivated to learn coping skills more quickly, we are at zero risk for divorce.  I dont mean to belittle the horror of what you are going through....if I sound out of line please blame my ignorance of just how devastating and out of control this can get.

 #1--Does it not take two ppl to divorce?  I remember when my cousin's wife wanted a divorce and he didn't-- the court was going to require 18 months before it could become final.  He leveraged his desire not to be divorced to get her to agree to counselling where he was finally made to see that their differences could not be reconcilled.  I just don't think you have to take divorce lying down...esp when kids are involved.  Do you have the option of just not signing the papers and forcing her to deal with you in some way?  

#2--I do not like reading about your recent attitude toward your spouse (even understanding that it is part of a male attempt at disconnecting from the marriage).  I think it is ironic for you to be so irritated with your wife for refusing to listen to you and take what you have to say into account...over the course of a couple months....when clearly you have not be listening to what she had to say about your behavior over the course of 12 years.  I think until you'd have to have a great deal more time under your belt of dealing with behavior you don't like/understand/think is best for your children, before you can even consider copping an attitude about her attitude toward you.

Ok that sounds harsh in print.  I don't mean to be harsh as I think you are doing a GREAT job dealing with your ADHD now that you know about it and now that this great threat to your family has woken you up.  But sheesh this woman did put 12 years in with an undiagnosed mate not meeting her needs, not meeting what she considers to be her children's needs, and not feeling heard or cherished.  This was not a picnic and may well have been MUCH worse in her mind than going through the divorce now.  Some ppl have a breaking point and there is just no going back once you push their boundaries too far.  

I know a woman who put up with 20 years of all manner of treatment from her husband.  She was a christian woman who did not believe in divorce, and he was an absolute creep to her in many ways (which I saw first hand) most especially in denigrating her in front of the children and describing her and all her friends as "fruit cakes".  She took MAJOR, EXTREME amounts of crap from this man for YEARS, and then one day she was done.  And there wasn't ANYTHING he could do to make her even willing to be in the room with him much less consider reconciling with him.  He desperately wanted to stay together because he decided they had something worth saving, and I'm not saying she should have gone back to this emotionally abusive man, but things that she used to fuel her rage against him once she left...he sent her the wrong color roses & other things silly things...honestly seemed beneath her and not worth making an issue of unless a person realized it was CUMULATIVE rage at having her boundaries and feelings violated for 20 years.

You abused this woman's feelings and sense of self.  You didn't mean didn't understand what you were doing.  But here is the kicker, SHE TOLD YOU AND YOU DIDN"T LISTEN.  You thought she was at fault.  Learning ADHD was at least partially responsible doesn't undo any of the provides a reason and hope for the future, but she at this point might not care about having a future with you.  You may have killed her love & I don't see how you can blame her for it.  I believe she can recapture it if she chooses with you, but she isn't even convinced she wants to CONSIDER doing so.  Can you honestly blame her for that?  I don't think you get to.  She gave all she had for a lot longer than you have at this point.  

#3-- I understand being upset that this is a bolt from the blue for your family.  But did you honestly want her airing your personal business to your MOM?  Why on earth do you think she'd go to your mom with her issues with you??  In our family you keep your personal problems with eachother to yourselves out of loyalty toward your mate.  My husband was the one who chose to tell his parents about his ADD....and he got it from his mom, and she views it as a great failure even though she didn't know she had it prior to his diagnosis.  Our conversations on his ADD are carefully conducted because it is such a sensitive subject for her.  She realizes now how much she missed by thinking he was being lazy when his symptoms first started showing up during his HS/College years.  We might laughingly discuss some typical ADD miscommunication or trait, but if I am really angry with him for forgetting to do something he's promised me 20 times to do, I'm sure not talking to his mom about it.

Again I think your proactivity now is AWESOME.  You are a role model here for ADD husbands--I've sent your link to mine as a matter of fact :)  A lot of women here have stayed with much worse than I am sure you were at your very worst.  Maybe it is because they love their husbands more, or because their own personalities are stronger, or because they have less options, or a greater sense of hope.   But your wife too has a right to be *over it* and disbelieving that what you are saying to her now about hope is really true.  Maybe she believed in that *fairy tale* as long as she was willing to believe in it, and her stubbornness now in refusing to listen to how you've truly changed your outlook is what has her still believing it is a fairy tale.  But at least give her credit for believing that divorce is better than staying married....she may not be right, but it is what she believes right now.  And she can feel she is putting her children first and still believe it.

I hope she gets a reality check and changes her view.  I think you can have a super marriage now that you are getting the right tools.  I'd describe ours as super and we're still missing some of the tools!  I hope you get that chance, but if that ship has genuinely sailed in her eyes, I don't think you get to blame her for not holding on for 12.5 years.  She still held on a pretty darn long time.

So sorry for you both!  And again I apologize for any ignorance demonstrated here, but I've dealt with a lot less frustration for a lot less time, and if my husband dared to talk about my frustration with it in the tone that you are taking about your wife and mother of your children, I think he'd feel a boot up a very uncomfortable place!! :)

Thanks Aspen

Thanks Aspen.   I've read your comments and appreciate them.   I have so much to reply, ADHD'er usually do (joke)... but I will practice my control of ADHD and just say thanks for now.   Let me think more about what needs to be answered.  I will say this, I have nothing to hide, I want things to get better... I'm the only one currently in this particular ADHD marriage on this ADHD marriage Web site, that answers certain things.

I will address one point... As far as the divorce, I live in a "no-fault" state... meaning neither party needs a reason for divorce, you can just do it. 120 days is the minimum waiting period, that is all.  Perhaps if I was simply born, raised, married and lived in another state where it is more difficult to get a divorce, this family would have a better chance. 

Thanks again.

Dan, while I applaud your

Dan, while I applaud your efforts to take control of your ADD and not let it control YOU anymore, you have got to realize something here (coming from an ADDer married to an ADHDer) Just because you have "seen the light" does not erase what has been going on in your marriage. This "cold" woman did not start out that way, and I guarantee you she didn't get that way in a a month's time (roughly the amount of time you've been enlightened).  As people with ADD, when we have a conviction, and we are truly convinced that we are "changed" we want other people to "get" it...and do it YESTERDAY. Your wife, I can say with certainty has had heart heart broken so many times by you, been let down so many times, that she may not feel capable of hoping "one more time", just to be kicked in the proverbial head again.  If someone has destroyed you, it's not all that easy to just "get over it" because now there's a reason.  It's similar to alcoholics...when they go through recovery, they want people to just accept that they are a different person and give them a clean slate.  It doesn't work that has to be earned back...and in some cases, the trust is too tattered to breathe life into.  Remember also that even if your wife DID know about ADD, she could assume (possibly correctly) that you are hyperfocusing right now.  After every hyperfocus comes a search for something new, and that "new" is not always your spouse.  I have been on the receiving end of that one for a while.  What you need to work on right now is patience, love and acceptance.  Patience with your wife...remember you are not the only one nursing a broken heart and she was very much a victim (whether you intended to hurt her or not), acceptance that whatever she chooses is her choice and whatever choice she makes is an understandable one, and love...there is a great lack of all things related to ACTUAL love in many ADD marriages, and maybe you can show the love she deserved in the marriage on the way out...or maybe back in? Who knows...What I do know is that jumping to any quick decisions about how there is "nothing more you can do for all of us" sounds pretty ADD to me.  How long did your wife stick it out with you before she'd had enough "trying"? Was it more than a month? I'm not saying any of this to hurt you Dan, but to help you.  Please remember that she's been there all along, before you *were there* and those wounds don't heal easily. 

Adult Children of Alcoholics + ADHD = double whammy!



Yesterday, had my weekly meeting with my psychologist.   Discovered something very interesting.   Apparently (something I never knew), I have been holding inside a problem that was bothering me since I was a teen... keeping it inside of me for last 30 years.  My father, who passed away last year, was an alcoholic.   The height of his drinking problem, was when I was a young teenager.   I recall being so ashamed, embarrassed and upset by his drinking... unable to confront his temper, so I dare not confront his drinking.  I didn’t want to talk about it, not even with my other family members.  The day after, when all was sober, life went on as if nothing happened, until it happened again and again for many of my teen years.   I remember compensating for him, trying to cover for him, politely smiling to everyone outside the immediate family that “all was fine, normal, no big deal.” I covered for him, making sure everyone was happy or just trying hiding the problem... I learned at a young age don't hang your dirty laundry out in public... the big elephant in the middle of the room, you just ignore it and don't talk about it.   As it turned out, that is something you continue to practice throughout life and in your relationships.  I am a people pleaser... I go out of my way to make everyone happy, even strangers... but those that eventually get close to me, like my wife, they become part of my inner circle and I can let them in on everything, including secrets and treat them GOOD and POORLY... because they are family.   Therefore today, I thought I was doing better than my father, when I promised myself I would never publically humiliate my family, my wife... anything bad, you keep behind closed doors.  It is why I'm always in control of myself, limit my fun, always worried what others are thinking about me, I'm reserved.  However, behind closed doors, is where family sees the real story and they hear all my problems.   I now see that also destroys a family.   It's why, when I get divorced, it will be very hard and humiliating to me, this public failure.  I still haven't told my close friends about what is going on.  Everyone outside our families will surely say "what?, I don't believe it... they seemed so happy, they are such a nice couple".     It why people like me and why my wife fell in love with me... I try to make everyone happy.   I'm the funny, caring, thoughtful, generous, tireless and nicest guy you ever want to meet initially and give the impression to friends/neighbors that all in wonderful...  something I practiced since I was a teen covering for my dad's drunkenness.   Until I trust you enough to share with you my problems that I don't tell anyone else.   I only let my wife inside my bubble, and she got the best and the worse.... and lately the worse exceeded the best.   That, on top of my ADHD traits... ugh!

Why I bring this up, is perhaps it may help other ADHD families out there... perhaps additional problems are holding back your spouse from acceptance and recovery.    Did your spouse have an alcoholic parent?  Perhaps the reason your ADHD spouse won't admit or get help, is because of the public shame he thinks of it.  Like alcoholism, your spouse learned you don't talk about marriage problems to anyone, except your wife.   Maybe find out if your spouse had an alcoholic parent, and he/she just learned to adapt and that "it is just the way it is, and you don't talk about it, you just try to hide or ignore it."   Ignore the big elephant in the room.

Therefore, perhaps to get progress in a ADHD marriage... find out if your spouse had an alcoholic parent.

So...  I now discovered I have this double whammy, ADHD and ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics).  I am so relieved finally to get more answers to my problems I knew was bothering me, but couldn't put a finger on it...  and fortunate enough to have the brains to process what I discover, and need to get over it.  I'm not over it yet... hard to say when I will be, but the discovery of a problem IS SO HUGE, one cannot fix what they cannot see.

Here are links to learn more Adult Children of Alcoholics: - I answered 16 out of 20.





Adult Child of an Alcoholic

Thank you, Dan, for the links helpful to those who had to grow up in an alcoholic home.  I'm sure there are many here, ADHD'ers and non alike, who had to deal with the relentless destruction of substance addiction in their homes.  As I'm sure you've learned, many persons with attention deficit disorders develop substance addictions and, since ADD/ADHD may well have genetic links, they, in turn may have been the child of another ADD/ADHD'er who turned to substance addiction.

I wish, however, to address your issues about having had an alcoholic father.  I am a non-ADHD spouse who, like your wife, is done with my marriage and my husband's issues.  I, like you, grew up with an alcoholic father.  I've read a lot of your posts here stating that you are mystified by your wife's relcutance to deal with you on any level any longer.   The combination has brought me to tell you something I came to realize in dealing with my husband's ADHD.

I have heard ADHD compared to being blind or being unable to walk.  I've heard it compared to a lot of life-quality altering disabilities.  From my experience of having had an alcoholic parent, if I had to compare ADHD to any disorder at all, it would be substance addiction.

Like an addict does commonly out of shame, the ADHD'er goes on to "pretend" (or possibly truly forget) that none of their previously caused havoc ever happened. Like an addict, the ADHD'er makes a million promises that are never kept.  Like an addict, the ADHD'er is completely unreliable in showing up when they're supposed to, getting out of bed when they said they would, completing a much needed task like they said they would, or focusing on much of anything else but themselves and their compulsion.   Unlike the ADHD'er, the addict has to ingest a substance to make their brains act this way, yet that very act is also a compulsion with them. Without extensive treatment and - most importantly - an acceptance of the responsibility they held in so much destruction in others' lives, the addict will never stop that compulsion.  In recovery, an addict must every day remind themselves that they are an addict who can never, ever allow their guard to drop against falling into that compulsion again.

And just like an addict does sometimes, an ADHD'er/ADD'er can wind up alienating other people from their lives for good. There can be circumstances under which the abuse and rejection and burden under which the addict placed those who once loved them cannot ever truly be forgiven.  Any addict in recovery must try to seek forgiveness for their actions done under the grips of addiction, but they are also counseled extensively for the possibility that they may never gain forgiveness from select individuals.

I would ask you now, if your father was alive, just how far would he have to go to gain your trust again? After having destroyed a childhood you can never get back, after having hurt you time and time again with his addiction, only to leave you stonewalled as to why you ever had to be treated like that (because it was never talked about or acknowledged) and after having so casually thrown away years of your life down his bottle, after forcing you to bear 100% of the responsibility of carrying HIS outside reputation despite how much pain you were in, what WOULD it take for you to truly ever open your heart to him when he, once again, promised that he would stop drinking?

See, I never forgave my father for having thrown his life away and a significant part of mine down on a bar.  His compulsion was not ever MY problem nor fault.  He had a disease that had a treatment which he never sought.  But had he sought it at some point in his life, all he would ever have was his sober future, because he could never give me back my past.

Likewise, I will never forgive my husband for the years of my life that he has destroyed. He didn't "mean" to. Neither did my substance addicted father.  My husband was only living the way his brain forced him to, but so was my alcoholic father. No one just ups and stops an addiction in a day through "willpower", just as no one ever "willed" themselves out of ADHD.  In the grips of addiction, my father was no more a truly active participant than my husband is in his ADHD. What they shared in this - and failed miserably until it was too late - was a responsibility to see just how much of the destruction behind them was THEIR doing, and how they needed to work to stop it.

You were too afraid to talk to your father about his drinking, because he would have flown into a rage like most alcoholics do when confronted by their children.  It doesn't matter, though, because he would have to be a total idiot to not see a son in pain. He SAW it, Dan, he was just too into addiction to do anything about it. I can also reasonably assure you that your father hated himself for not stopping his drinking, as most alcoholics do, but YOU would not have known that.  His denial stopped him from ever making that clear to you.

Likewise, it is likely that your wife did tell you, over and over and over again, what was hurting her.  The involuntary compulsion in YOUR brain would have stopped you from hearing it - ever.  What would have been left was her pain and your continuing to act as you did.  YOU felt that you loved her, but what SHE probably saw would have really looked and felt a lot like hatred.

So, when trying to understand your wife's reluctance to deal with you at all, just imagine if, instead of ADHD, you'd had alcoholism. Would you understand why she would choose to deal with a permanent break in that case? 

Thanks FabTemp... good insight.

thank you, what you describe is interesting.  You make some good points... I would like to address each of them, but that would very ADHD-ish of me, so I won't.  It's good therapy that I don't!  :-)

But you helped me see and understand why it may be a very long time, regardless that I now see and admit my faults, before my wife forgives me.   It's heartbreaking to see misery, but more understandable to me now.  I don't like knowingly being a burden to anyone, and I'm a giving person... so knowing someone can't forgive me and take my offered olive branch, especially the mother of our two beautiful children, bothers me.   I've forgiven myself, but we'll always have this hanging over my head, until she does forgive me.  I've learned to live with this over my head, but I also need the best communicate with soon to be ex-wife, for the best interest of OUR TWO YOUNG CHILDREN.  Until she forgives so we can then truly have open, productive, shared, communication about our children, we are not serving our children the best we can.  Our kids and their development is being altered and delayed.  Heaven help us, if our kids will be sitting in therapy when they are adults, because of the my wife and my actions today!   I guess I may need to wait years before me and my soon to be ex-wife can fully put our two-heads together to help best raise our children in a "healthy as can be" divorced environment, regardless if our children have ADD or not (and they do).  Divorced parents can better raise their kids, when there is no friction between the parents. Like they say about forgiveness, you do it for yourself, not for the person you are forgiving.   In our case, she needs to forgive someday for our children's sake.  My wife has the benefit of knowing, when she is ready to take it, the olive branch will always be available from me.

But I appreciate your comments, FabTemp... what you say makes sense.  You and others do make sense.  I understand, she wants out of the marriage.  I understand, respect and accept that... but please, readers of this forum... please be careful of how you exit a marriage, especially if children are involved.   In the end, ten years from now, both parties will have the 20/20 hindsight to look back, will know the truth and what the appropriate action should have been, and both parties will therefore know if they were right-on-target with their actions or maybe a bit off.  

I want our kids to be happy and healthy, I truly want my wife to be happy and healthy, and God knows... I surely want to find happiness and be healthy too!  Time will tell, heaven protect all of us on this journey.

By the way, my reply was much longer than I wanted it to be... but my comments could have been longer... so I did so-so on my ADHD therapy.  :-)

Also... the reasons why you forgive others, mainly for the benefit of yourself! 

Alcoholic Parents / ADD Husband /Forgiveness

Wow, FabTemp...You are spot on!  I grew up with an alcoholic single mother.  I had to be the adult at age 6.  I drove my mother home one night from a bar when I was 8 years old.  My mother hated herself for the abuse and pain she caused her children but couldn't seem to break out of the habit and get help for the addiction. 

And now, I am married to and taking care of an ADD man who has "good intentions" but still manges to get our car repo'd, addicted to porn, loses jobs left and right, ruined my creidt and sees nothing wrong with the fact that he plays computer games all day and spends the money he did earn at a job on computer software instead of food that our family desperately needed. 

We were on the Dr. Phil show with Dr. Hallowell.  We were offered free help with a counselor for 10 sessions.  Then, Dr. Lawlis offered us FREE help in Texas if my husband would just read his book.  My husband hasn't read the book.  I have tried to read it to him -- he falls asleep.  I have 2 jobs, am a mom and a wife and am going to medical school.  I loved my husband once.  We married in 2005 and had maybe 2 weeks of a good marriage.  It is now 2010 and I can only think of 2 times in our whole marriage where we have had a good time together.  The rest of our marriage is me picking up the slack and trying to keep food on the table.

I got sick 2 weeks ago and had to go to the hospital for severe dehydration.  I stayed home from work that day.  My husband new I was sick.  He spent the afternoon on the couch in the living room sleeping, while his wife was dying (literally) of thirst in the other room.  I fainted when I tried to get up to walk.  He finally came in the room around 5:30pm that night.  I told him he had to go and pick up our little boy from preschool and then to come back and get me and take me to the emergency room.  He wasn't going to take me because he said I just needed a glass of water.  I told him if he didn't take me, I would call someone else.  I am not one to go to the doctors or the hospital unless it is URGENT.  Luckily, I went because they ended up having to give me an IV and 2 bags of saline solution.  He just sat in a chair playing his computer games on his phone...never asked me if I was ok or if I needed anything. 

So, I decided I can make a better life for my son and I elsewhere.  I am getting a divorce lawyer.  I am also a Christian and don't really believe in divorce unless infidelity is involved.  Well, the porn addiction is enough to satisfy that "requirement."  When a person doesn't want to help themselves even after being offered FREE help, there is nothing you can do for that person if they don't accept it.  That book that my husband was supposed to read in order to get help from Dr. Lawlis is the "water" and my husband is the "horse."  I led that horse to the water, but he wouldn't drink it.  I am ready for a better life for my son and I.

To make matters worse, his mother is an enabler and gets him out of trouble and pays all his bills when he needs it.  We no longer have phones because he spent our bill money on software...his mother gave him her phone to use.  When my husband decided not to work, his mother paid off his truck so he wouldn't have to do it.  I was FURIOUS.  We live in her house.  We pay her rent, but because my husband did some work for her, we have been able to live rent free for a few months.  But now, that time is coming to an end.  Well, so is this marriage.

Thanks for letting me rant and rave a bit.  I adore all of you for sharing your experiences...both those with ADD/ADHD and those living with our loved ones who live with it.  Just remember -- forgiveness IS the best way to go.  I have forgiven my husband.  There isn't anymore anger, just disappointment and grieving on my end.  Now I know it's time to move on...but I have already forgiven him.  Just because a person forgives you, doesn't mean you can stay with them if that trust has been broken over and over again (as is the case for me).

Theoretical knowledge does always lead to skills

Arwen, sometimes I am not expressing myself well.   Obviously, I did not put enough emphasis on the word THEORETICAL.   Theoretical knowledge does not mean the same as acquiring skills.   I once knew a girl, who had As in natural science at school, but when she wanted to make tea, she had to ask someone, how to know, when the water was boiling.  
Somebody with at least average intelligence can theoretically learn rules of what is regarded as right or wrong by other people, just as he can learn the word order of a foreign language.   This does not mean, that they are capable to apply that knowledge to their own behaviour.   My wondering about my Ex-SO is exactly about that discrepancy.  
There are different ways of people having ADD, and my Ex-SO was capable to maintain his car, that is why I used the example.  
Somebody can learn in theory, that when he runs his car into his neighbours fence, he is liable to pay for the repair.   Somebody can learn the same rule in theory, that when he hurts my feelings, he is liable to make amends to make me heal.  
This theoretical knowledge does not mean, that any person with ADD would even notice, when he hurts me.  
But the difference between respect and disrespect gets noticable, when I or anybody else points it out to him, how much he is hurting me.  
The person with respect would then accept his liability and would be motivated to make amends, my Ex-SO with disrespect refused to accept his liability, and that is, why I think, he did not value me enough.  

The rule, that whenever somebody causes damage to another person, there is a moral or legal obligation to make amends and restitution for the damage is understandable for everybody of average intelligence, ADD or not.   Not to notice, when there is a situation requiring the application of the rule could be typically ADD.   But the outright refusal to make amends, when a person suggests it or demands it, that to me is disrespect in many ways.   Disrespect for the reality of the pain, disrespect for the person deserving better, disrespect for the person's evaluation and judgement.  
Of course, I do not know, if that devastating disrespect of my Ex-SO is a part of his ADD or has other causes, and so I was just wondering, if others felt as disrespected as I did.  

arwen's picture

theoretical is not the issue

Apparently, *I* am not expressing *myself* well.  So I will try to be simple and clear.  I apologize profusely if this comes across as being abrasive and blunt, but I don't know any other way to make my point.

Difficulty in learning socially acceptable behavior may have nothing to do with intelligence.

When ADD is involved, it often has to do with memory capacity and function.

If you have limited memory capacity and function, you can't necessarily even learn the THEORETICAL stuff.

So rules aren't always understandable, even if you are intelligent.  If you don't have the memory capabilities, you can't create a mental context in which to interpret the rules, and the rules don't make sense.  It's very difficult for anybody to learn anything that seems completely nonsensical, without going completely insane.  (Your own difficulty with understanding what I'm trying to get across to you is a perfect case in point!)

Imagine you are playing a game, and you are handed a set of rules.  But you don't know what game you are playing.  How do you make sense of the rules you are given?  How do you know when to apply them?  How do you know what the consequences will be?  This isn't *exactly* like what life as an ADDer is like, but it has some of the same flavor.

To understand this requires you to suspend judgement and contemplate a whole different paradigm of mental function -- one that may seem very bizarre to you, but it nonetheless very real.


I just notices, that I messed up the title.  Of course, it has to be:

Theoretical knowledge does NOT always lead to skills!

not just met

I am in the very same position as yourself and marriage - from the opposite gender.  I am a female, diagnosed 5 years ago with ADD - exclusively for academic purposes.  I was ignorant to the fact of how ADD would affect me in my social life, most importantly my marriage.  I too have two wonderful children and married for 12 years.  I am now seeing a psychiatrist to assist with the anguish the separation has placed on me and to understand and work with my ADD.  The way you describe your relationship with your wife is so very similar to mine with my husband.  I understand your feelings, I am sorry for the situation you are now finding yourself in.

Thanks Carol Ann, you will succeed.

I wish you the best, you will succeed!  Remember, keep positive!  Don't get down on yourself since you wouldn't get down on yourself if you discovered you had a hidden cancer for 12 years, but you would be optimistic and driven to FINALLY see an issue and start winning over it.   You can win and control and use the power of ADHD to do many great things, that others without ADHD cannot.  Hyperfocus on changing what needs to change!  Just don't let ADHD control you till it’s too late, that was my hidden problem in my marriage.  Also, this site is called, meaning ADHD is equally your husband's concern too.  My wife (and soon ex-wife) still won't even read a book about ADHD adults and ADHD marriage… that is wrong of her.   If you had cancer, your husband would likely become a cancer expert and read everything about it.  If you have ADHD, your husband should become a ADHD expert and read everything about it.   If he doesn't, he is equally at fault for any "future" problems in your marriage.   I trust he is smart, loving and forgiving, so he will do everything he can to learn about this "relationship disease" and do what is best for your children, who themselves may have inherited the ADHD gene.  Discovery of ADHD is more that 1/2 the battle.  I'm optimistic for you, as I am for myself!  There is no cure for ADHD, but we can learn to harness it and continue using ADHD for good, while keeping the negative traits of ADHD in check.   Again, self-awareness is huge! 

A tip I use to keep me positive as I go thru a divorce....   In my heart, I know my wife is making a mistake.   But I cannot help her now, I have to make the best of it for myself and my ADD kids.  A divorce from someone I love and me thinking I will miss ½ of my children’s best years, puts me at the bottom right now, but I absolutely know I won’t be at the bottom forever and will get thru it.  I have to be positive… now that I know I have ADHD, I treat it like a “wild bronco” that has put me on my butt a lot of times, I’m determined to keeping riding and I will “break and tame” my ADHD and ride it out of the mud to higher places and do great things, that others will have no idea how I did it.  The reward for me is to pleasantly surprise the believers and the doubters, everything else I wanted to accomplish in life will come along the way.   I've always had plans and goals and I won't let a divorce stop them.  When I reach my accomplishments in life, I plan on buying my ex-wife a vacation every year.  I would do it, as a gift from my kids, her well being affects their well being.  Start making these plans for yourself now, it's so much soothing to plan for positive things, and get over the negatives as soon as possible. I know it's tough right now and it is human nature to occastionally slip and feel negative and mourn, but things will only get better for you moving forward.  Be positive, love your children, keep your plans and goals and take care.  Dan

P.S.   Thanks, but don't feel sorry for me, feel sorry for my divoring wife, who still only understands the negatives of ADHD run unbridled and put us both on our butts.  Feel sorry for my kids also facing this divorce and their own ADD in their young lives, something they don't understand yet.  Pity doesn't solve anything, understanding does.  Knowledge is power.  Thank you, just for your understanding. 

A wife with ADHD with same problem, spouse that won't listen

Hello Everyone:  I read this post of a married women with ADHD, who's husband is divorcing her, and he isn't communicating to her either.   Similar to my story, just reverse gender.   Sad and frustrating to read...

Perhaps all the non-ADHD women that commented on my thread, could you please read her story, then relate and comment and help her from a women's point of view.  I know what she's going through, so any help and understanding would be great appreciated by any recovering ADHD'ers.  Thank you.  Dan 

an ADHD poem - The Wonderfulness of Me

To counter all the negativism of ADHD, a poem to help pick up diagnosed ADHD'ers, and to help bring peace with those non-ADHD'ers in our lives. 

"The Wonderfulness of Me." 

Once again, sorry to all of what ADHD may have done, as those ADHD'ers that finally see it, feel sad for the past.  But eventually it's time for us to look forward and create a positive future. 

mradhd's picture

How painfully real, yet almost surreal


Although I have only just met you for the first time through 2 of your posts here, I must say that I not only fell like I've known you my whole life, I feel like we are living the same life and going through amazingly similar feelings and pain. I can only wish that this terrible affliction will get the attention it truly deserves. Way too many lives are being destroyed and too many hearts are being broken over this true "silent killer". The sad part is that, I'm sure our ADHD/ADD had a lot to do with why our wives fell in love with us to begin with. It has always been prevalent in my character, yet there was never an explanation or definition as to why I was so upbeat and usually very positive and outgoing. Why I got along with everybody, until my constant inconsistencies drove people away. Comments or jokes that I would say would offend people and I didn't realize it. I'm a lover, not a fighter, so I genuinely felt bad whenever I was aware that I hurt someone's feelings. 

It is so hard, better yet so frustrating to just know with every part of you, that with some proper help from your significant other or another person vested in your relationship with them, there is nothing that we can't accomplish. Personally, and I bet you can relate, I feel as though I can do anything that I set my mind to. I have complete and utter confidence that I can do anything required of me, in practically any environment. Now I'm not saying that I feel like some kind of God or superhero. I'm simply stating that I have an inexhaustible belief in myself, that I am capable of great things. Some would say that I am a Narcissist. I can even see why. But I'm not. I don't outwardly express any deliberate arrogance about what I think I'm capable of. I just go out and do it. The underlying problem is, I only have any legitimate success with those tasks that engage me in a way that I want to pursue a greater level of accomplishment than with other things I am responsible for. To our spouses, that translates into not caring. They only see that we are constantly disappointing them. They feel that they can never truly depend on us. While we both know that our hearts are exactly where they need to be. Probably more than we can ever convey to our spouses. Because actions speak louder than words, we fellow ADDers are suffering with a sever handicap. My heart explodes with love and desire and affection for my wife. It hurts me more to realize that I have driven her not only to want a divorce, but to move into her own apartment and into another man's arms. Don't you just want to scream as loud as you can at everyone that just doesn't understand? But when it's your wife that flat out refuses to believe that ADD is a very valid explanation for our constant failures, any reaction that you may have, if you just let go, would probably wind you up in a hospital because, as far as clear thinkers are concerned, you would be completely out of your mind and have lost any sense of reality. Or even worse, you would end up in jail because you were acting out physically, not necessarily violently, but in a way that made your wife question her's or your safety. Trust me, I have been through both of those situations. Far too long of a story to tell here, but a very painful & undeserved experience. 

I know all too well, just how bad it sucks to go through exactly what you are going through. My only true strength comes from my faith in God & others that believe in Him as well. It's absolutely indescribable what Jesus has done in my life. I can only speculate, but I feel as though I may have been really suicidal if I didn't have God to turn to. He has answered so many prayers, but not necessarily the way that I asked for them to be answered. But as a parent, you can relate to how to answer all of your child's requests. Even when you know how bad your child wants whatever it is that they are crying for, you are the parent. You know better than them. You know what's best for them and you would never let them fall on their face and get hurt. Or would you? Perhaps God allows certain lessons to be taught in a way that will actually sink in and get us to truly understand what needs to be done & how.

I wish you the best of luck & much love. I will pray for you and your family. Just remember that if you walk 9 miles into the woods, you will have to walk 9 miles to get out. It's not easy, but it is what it is. So you can choose to quit and give up literally every single thing that has meaning to you, or you can look back at those things that were that catalyst for the decline in your marriage and work patiently and consistently at reversing the way they affect you and your loved ones. they don't disappear, but they can be caged with some real diligence on your part. Whatever you do, and believe me this is very hard I know, don't keep telling her that if she would only have helped, or all she had to do was read an article or a book or listen to an audiobook, or just listen to you because you never meant that stuff that hurt her and made her feel like you couldn't really love or care about her. If you did, you would have just tried harder, or been more attentive. You never intended for things to play out the way they did! You just didn't know what was going on, but NOW YOU DO!!! I say this with much love and understanding, as well as experience...IT WILL NOT WORK...EVER!!! It will only drive her even further away and you will start to appear weak. I only say that because, I am living it right now!

Trust me, there is ALWAYS hope. But there's a big, expanding hole in that bag of hope. And if you keep pushing, All of the hope will just pour out on the floor and you will be standing there holding an empty bag and a hole in your heart that will take a lot more heartache to repair.

Good Luck & God Bless!


I am confused

I read these comments and your last post about how for years you've disappointed your wife over and over, and I am confused as to your attitude. "I have complete and utter confidence that I can do anything required of me, in practically any environment...I don't outwardly express any deliberate arrogance about what I think I'm capable of. I just go out and do it. The underlying problem is, I only have any legitimate success with those tasks that engage me in a way that I want to pursue a greater level of accomplishment than with other things I am responsible for. To our spouses, that translates into not caring. They only see that we are constantly disappointing them."

I believe in ADD and I am married to an ADD man who is undergoing treatment and we are doing well, but I can state categorically that if I were married to a man constantly acting and saying that he could do anything he set his mind to as long as it engages him, constantly saying that he'll NEVER disappoint me again, and then disappointing me; I would conclude that I don't engage him.  

You can't have it both ways.  You can't say you can do anything you set your mind to, then constantly not do what your wife asks you to and expect her to be ok with it.  

What are you expecting her to stay for?  I mean I understand ADD makes it hard, and I believe in working it out together with mutual support, but few self-respecting women are going to hang around and take that kind of treatment year after year after year.  They will go find someone who meets their needs and leave you to find things to engage you so that you can successfully accomplish them.  

I hope that things work out and that you both work on these issues together, but if she decides she's put in enough time & doesn't trust you to give her what she needs,  this is not a woman being unreasonable.  She is protecting herself. 

I think all the divorce around here is terribly terribly sad, but it doesn't make them wrong.  Some of the people stayed as long as they possibly could and then they decided they weren't going to get what they needed with their ADHD mate.  I am sorry for everyone involved including the kids, but the divorcing spouse often genuinely thinks they are doing the right thing for the kids and themselves.  You can only give what you have to give.

I am not being a smart aleck...I am genuinely curious.  I do not have ADD, I love a man with ADD, I read posts from people with ADD, and I desperately want to understand them, but they often seem to be to only be written taking into account one viewpoint.  You want your wives back.  Your wives don't want to come back, ergo your wives are wrong & needing forgiveness for tearing your family apart.  It isn't like I don't hope that your families will stay intact.  I do very much!  But it seems like men who understand what ADHD has helped you to do to the women you love and to her love for you would understand that they might just be done.  You didn't get help soon enough.  

mradhd's picture

Some much needed clarification

Aspen. I will say this with as much respect and honesty as any typed message can express, so please don't be offended. I am simply responding to your views.

I wouldn't expect my description of what I believe I am capable of and of my attitude about this entire mess, to be fully understood and definitely not empathized with, by a NON-Distracted person. Especially a spouse that has probably seen much of the damaging negative consequences that are present in a mixed marriage (ADD/NON-ADD).  I certainly don't feel that I have done more than scratch the surface of what ADHD is fully capable of, in both good and bad ways. I think it's safe to say that nobody can claim that. By simply reading the words that I wrote, I see how they can sound somewhat boastful & confusing. Yet (and here's the common ADDism), I know exactly what I mean by writing them. My best description would be of me just living each and every day with a want and desire to be better than I am, and an overactive naive gland (as if there were such a thing). A major reason for desiring to be this "better than I am" person is because I want my wife to be proud of me! I want nothing more than to give her the life that she so deservingly should have. It's been a long time since I was single and on my own, but I've basically been ADHD all my life. Back then, whenever I had some great idea or notion, I would be excited about it for maybe a day or two. Everything just came to me very easily. I was always "a natural" at just about everything. I believe most people with ADD are. But I really didn't desire those things enough for myself to ever put anything in motion. My general thoughts were, "That would be so cool!", or "Man, I'm gonna be rich". Not one time did I set my mind on any of my big ideas with a hope or desire for it to shape my future. No goals. No course of action. Nothing but maybe just writing something on a piece of scrap paper or a napkin. When I fell in love with my wife, those ideas and dreams had a meaningful purpose. They were a vivid means to an end of not being able to support my family properly without being away from them so much, because I had to work at a job that I didn't really like, for 50-60 hours a week. So, as best as my scrambled mind could do, I would repeatedly speak my ideas into existence. Unfortunately to her. I would then write down a general idea of the idea. I would start to work on the logistics and some common questions or improvements on the idea. I wanted her to know, without any question, that I was one day going to make her very proud to call me her husband. 

My problem was that my turbocharged, hot rod brain would either blow out the engine from just flooring it so quickly, or I would never get the darn thing out of Park! 

Please understand that I have done just about everything that I can do on my own, to harness this wild beast call ADHD. I was diagnosed less than 2 years ago, and have been on different levels of Adderall for that time. I'm not saying that I am the perfect husband and she's crazy for wanting a divorce. But it's very difficult and most commonly expressed here...FRUSTRATING, when you get to a point that you can see light. You can put your finger on SOMETHING that can explain why you do the most ridiculous things, the way you do them. It's really not all because deep down, you must not really care! It has absolutely nothing to do with how in love I am with my wife. Most likely, those things that do engage me and I can achieve some level of success at them, are things that don't require a life long commitment and a constant desire to please and understand them more. It's a lot more complicated than just saying, "Maybe I don't engage him?". It's just not that simple.

And as for having only one viewpoint. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not saying that I am some special person that can think however I want. Obviously that's not happening here! What I am saying is that I have read the book, "Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD", not fully, but enough to get an idea of what the spouse goes through. A LOT better idea. I am also a follower of Jesus Christ and that means that I will do my very best to focus on what He expects from me. In that I am saying this: 

John 13:34 -"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." and also...

Matthew 22:37-39 -"Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

I'm not preaching to anyone. I am simply stating that what I believe in is written above. I teach it to my children and I do my best to keep it on my mind. Nobody's perfect, so I won't say that I never disobey. Everyone does! But I realize that true love means to put other's needs ahead of yours. Believe me, this too is rather new for me. I was a very selfish, self-centered person. Even when I thought I wasn't.

Believe me when I say this. I am extremely grateful for how much love my wife has shown me over the years. Even though she has moved on and into her own apartment with our children and has another man in her life that she has been intimate with, I can still appreciate all that she did to help. Even though her opinion was that she always helped in any way should could, she flat out refused to help in the way that was needed. She didn't want to have to hold my hand and be a parent to another child, ANYMORE! Picture your child being sick and you have medicine for them that will make them better. Not immediately, but it has been proven to heal. And the child just will not take the medicine. You try to convince the child that taking the medicine is necessary to make the sickness go away. NOPE! Not happening. You even bribe the child with candy or something else attractive to a child, but the child simply refuses to take it because she has been a good girl, and has brushed her teeth everyday, and eats all her veggies, and cleans her room, and all kinds of other stuff that good girls do to help. Why should she have to take this medicine? Doesn't any of that other stuff that she does count? Of course it does! If she wants to win the Greatest Kid Award! But if she wants to not be sick anymore, then the medicine is what will help fix her problem.

My biggest frustration right now is, I never "intended" to disappoint her. I never "intended" to cause her so much pain and struggle. I never "intended" our lives to fall apart they way they have. But, I did "intend" to fulfill many of her fantasies. I did "intend" to spend the rest of our lives together. I did "intend" to keep my vows when I spoke them in front of family, friends & God! Unfortunately, people still say those common vows, (I,____ take you,_____, for my lawful wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health. AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE!)

Now I realize that some may say, "Oh, of course you're gonna throw in the wedding vows because you didn't have to deal with all the bad points in your marriage." To that I say, I didn't care about the good or the bad, and I lived the bad points. I wasn't watching from the stands. I knew when I screwed up. But I feel that no matter how many ways I tried to either; get her on board for the sake of, well...everything, or to change myself with personal development books and recordings, and with a different approach about everyday life and with many other things. The hurt that she felt inside overshadowed ALL OF IT!

I GET IT! However, the end of your reply to me, "But it seems like men who understand what ADHD has helped you to do to the women you love and to her love for you would understand that they might just be done.  You didn't get help soon enough.", makes me wonder... do you!? 

Perhaps I could just..."TRY HARDER"!

I see your point

mradhd, good points.

Also, let me add something that Aspen brought up.  Is the choice for divorce unreasonable?   First of all, if there is a rotten spouse (and you know what I mean), then yes, get out of the marriage and protect yourself, even if you have children.  With that said, it is my belief that when children are brought into this world, that changes everything.  If a couple without kids want a divorce, even is only one person wants out, it's still 50/50, so the tie goes to the divorce, again it's unfortunate but there are plenty of fish in the sea, move on.   But when a couple with kids want a divorce, the children need to have a say in the matter.  Ask the kids, and what would they say?  If the person wanting a divorce is in the minority, that means something, or at least it should.  The kids never asked for splitting their parents, missing 1/2 the time with the two parents they love.  The divorce is putting an adult's needs ahead of the children.  That is wrong.   That is unreasonable. The day my first child came into this world, I knew my life became less relevant, it was all about my child's life now.  My life became even less relevant with the birth of my second child.   I would never intentionally put my needs ahead of my children.  Someday, my kids will need to forgive me for my mistakes and my failures to keep the marriage together, and they will also need to forgive their mother for her mistakes and failures too.   At least I have peace knowing I did my God-given best, and she will likely say the same.  I trust our children as men will be strong and forgiving to both of us.  They have to be very strong and forgiving, this divorce is something they didn't ask for and they will live a harder life on their way to becoming men, because of it.  

 Perhaps your soon-to-be-ex

 Perhaps your soon-to-be-ex wife HAS taken the children into account.  To draw on my own experiences, when my relationship was at its worst, the question I kept asking was "Will my son be better off if we split up?"  What affect was the fighting having on him? What about having a mother who was constantly tense and short tempered? Having a father who promises the world and barely delivers a speck of dirt? Was my son better off living in this environment or would he be better off only seeing his father on weekends and having parents who weren't constantly at each others throat?

That's only the short term stuff. I  also wondered what long term lesson my fiancee's behaviour was teaching our son. That it was okay to break promises? That some woman will always be around to pick up after you? That his personal needs and wants came before the family needs? Would my son turn out to be just like his father in all the worst ways? What was my reaction to my fiancee's behaviour teaching my son? To be afraid of doing anything because someone might yell at him? That women are demanding and angry all the time? 

The relationship between you & your wife also affects your children, whether you intentionally drag them into it or not. Kids are aware of the little signals that we don't even realize we're giving off. Would it be better for a child of any age to live in a house where their mother no longer loves their father rather than to have parents that are divorced, but aren't fighting all the time?  My mother is an alcoholic and I can remember, even as young as 8 or 9, wishing that my parents  would split up so my dad would be happier.  (20 years later, I still hope for this.)

Just because your wife hasn't discussed these things with you, please don't think that she hasn't taken your children into account at all.

I am open minded about both sides of ADHD marriages

I see your point, because I am open-minded, rational and fair.  I know the damage ADHD can do on a marriage and accept my responsibility.  Please believe me when I say this and I'm not been smug, just sincere and honest:  With ADHD, I've already thought through of all possible reasons for her actions; many ADHD'ers are good at playing chess, when we want to hyperfocus, we think of the many combinations of moves on both sides.   My attorney says likely most of his office team has ADHD.   I could have been an attorney, but I chose engineering, since I wanted to create things, not fight for things.  No offense to all attorneys, there are many noble and good ones out there.  Like an attorney, I could hold my own in defending any point of view, if I wish to hyperfocus.   This was my downfall I admit...  It didn't marry for brains or money, nor did she... I fell in love with my wife because she was beautiful, inside and out, I loved my wife dearly and she loved me for my drive and creativeness (ADHD)... over the years, when she started an argument after I ignored her needs (ADHD), I finally joined the argument and won most of them (ADHD).  I won the battles, but lost the war when she finally gave up and just dropped the "big one", the divorce bomb.  I had no idea and was "in shock".   It was the shock that hastened me to get me the help I needed about this "ADHD thing", and I was finally diagnosed.  OMG, how blind I was by it.  It does not matter on intellegence, even the smartest and most powerful people in the world, do dumb things.  Which is why I've hyperfocused on my problem and changed my life and won't let ADHD beat me again like it has.  Compounding my strength to win over ADHD's negative traits, by also knowing both my boys have it too.  ADHD can offer greatness, but in moderation.   All my life, I had a powerful tool in my mind, but not understanding how to use it fully.  I showed above average and below average traits, it made me both shine or frustrated me, beyond words.  My wife could say the same too, I hope I impressed her, but it seems I frustrated her even more.


My soon to be ex-wife, when we had "the talk" with the kids to break the news, she said similar to "you know how mommy and daddy argue, well we won't live together anymore to prevent that".. while I fought back my tears and kept a positive face.   I was put in a no-win situation as I could not tell my children the truth, that mommy is divorcing daddy for his undiagnosed ADHD, only diagnosed the same month as she filed for divorce.  The truth to our kids is we will stop arguing and build a stronger household now that dad finally knows what ADHD is, taking meds and seeing a therapist, and mom would take time to research and understand Adult ADHD on marriages and be forgiving.  Instead of being open-minded, rational and fair, she has made this "poop sandwich" for everyone and is too smug to admit any mistakes at this point, so we all will continue to eat the sandwich and everyone dare not say directly to her what it tastes like.  I understand her "chess move" and perspective and forgive her, but you understand, I don't respect people who are smug and can't admit faults.  It's a bad move, and God, do I have faults and made bad moves, we all do.   My wife won't admit any bad moves now, even as we get divorced in a "no-fault" state, the law doesn't care who is right or wrong.  Currently, my wife is being smug and still thinks she is doing this for the kids.  No, the kids don't want or need this.  She is doing this for herself, if she doesn't love me, fine... have the courage to please just say that.  I can handle it, hey, I've been dumped in the past by girl friends I loved before too (hey, I see it now, I had ADHD). I accept that she doesn't love me, but please don't still hide behind saying she is protecting the kids.  It's get's very tiring and old.  Let's forgive, admit mutual fault (again, she has no benefits legally not to) and have peace that our kids need and have an amicable divorce and be the best divorced parents we can be, all for the benefit of our children, and frankly benefits for her and me.  Forgiveness and understanding benefits the giver, not the receiver.  


When my soon-to-be ex-wife truly understands what ADHD has on a marriage and forgives it, my respect will soar highly for her.   Right now, she refused to understand, she doesn’t care to know what ADHD has on a once weaker person like myself and refuses to forgive.  I am stronger now, knowledge is power, I have more knowledge now than before she filed for divorce.  “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” … is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.   I want my wife, the mother of my children, to finally be strong again too, knowledge is power.   I and others respect strength, and not the physical kind.  “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” … another quote from Mahatma Gandhi. 


God, please give us all strength and understanding on both sides of the discussion on this Web site about ADHD marriages… “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.”   We are not perfect and we all make mistakes, but adults should never stop working together for peace, strive for self improvement, admit and give forgiveness of our mistakes when we discover them, and then always, ALWAYS put our innocent children’s needs, first.   She is seemily being very selfish now (I understand why and therefore forgive.)  I have pride and I am fair, so I won't be a push over, but I would wish her a good life moving forward.... the earlier part of our marriage, we were very good to each other for years and she gave me two beautiful boys as I gave her the same... I want her to have a good life, with or without me.


My apologies to all for my long comments, I knew I was letting my ADHD go on and on.   If I had a wife now that said, "come to me" ... since a wife is my equal, I would now know to sprint to her needs.   Better yet, I would have first asked her "what can I do for you, my love, rub your feet?"  :-)

mradhd's picture

Wow! It's like we're living the same life! Hmmmm?

I know EXACTLY what you mean! And I know that we are both looking at our own situations from the same perspective of part victim and part villain, and I think even part peace keeper. Calmer heads usually prevail and for some reason, I have been the calm one most of the time. Not ALL the time, but definitely more so than she. But again, I feel EXACTLY like you do about how the children should be a part of the future of their family. They have to live with it for their whole life! But after reading many entries from many frustrated wives of men with ADHD, I have to say that I do understand why they feel like they have no other choice but to just end it. Cut all losses & get out before it's really too late. Too late for what though? Too late to turn their lives around? Shouldn't their spouse's and children be a part of that? The problem with that is the spouse didn't have any say in the chaos that their ADHD stricken husbands introduced, unknowingly, into their marriage. She just dealt with the madness as it happened, and probably just accepted each day as it happened. Until one day she tripped over the long string of disappointment & struggle, and said, "Where did this come from? Why is it in the middle of our living room? I bet he brought this home from the flea market or a stupid garage sale! HONEY!!! Can you please get this string thingy of yours out of the living room. I keep tripping over it & it's making me nuts!".  "What's that? Uh, O.K. Honey! I'll get it as soon as I finish looking for, uh, hmm... what was I looking for?" (At that very instant he completely forgot that his wife asked him to do something. Anything! So the supportive and loving wife just goes about her day, after day, after day of having to step over this ever growing long string of disappointment & struggle. But like carbon monoxide, her stepping over the string & not saying or doing anything to allow her husband to be accountable, is just a silent killer! A killer of love and marriages.

After several weeks or even months, the string has grown into a rope that is winding throughout the living room and now the dining room. One day, while cleaning up the toys and clothes that the kids have left all through the house she asks herself, "Why am I the only one ever picking up around here? These aren't my messes!" Then, as she's walking over to pick up something else, she trips over the string rope again, and breaks her favorite Precious Moment figurine that she got for her 1st born child. Now, she isn't screaming or shooting steam from her ears. No. Instead she's quiet as she picks up the pieces of the broken Precious Moment figurine. Although she is quiet, she is not at all silent. Everyone knows that there are some bad things brewing inside her head. Even He knows it, but he can't help but want to comfort his hurting bride. So he begins to walk over to help her pick up the pieces and he hears, in a low but very clear voice, "GET AWAY FROM ME!" He seems shocked and immediately becomes defensive because he can sense that she feels that this is somehow all his fault. Yet he has no idea how that's even possible. He knows he didn't put the kid's stuff all over the place. And where did this huge, stinky rope come from? Why doesn't someone pick it up already? In half-hearted disbelief he blurts, "Are you talking to me!? What the hell did I do!?" OH BOY! HE REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE SAID THAT! What apparently is happening here is that she is completely convinced that He brought this "rope" into her house, and into their lives. She even asked him to get rid of it, whatever it was. But he is completely oblivious to any of it. He didn't bring that in the house. He never really heard her ask him to remove it. And he can't understand why all this crap is all over the place when the kids should be picking up after themselves. Is there really someone to blame directly for all of this? How can you? Where does the real fault lie? Is that even a question that deserves an answer? Who knows?

It's an awful shame that the biggest chasm between grief and understanding for each of them is so uneven and unpredictable, so wide and so unchartered, that it seems almost impossible to ever have the proper bridge to get either of them to realize that they are both right & yet both wrong. And the only sensible and true way to deal with this is by, well...DEALING WITH IT! Love isn't disposable, yet far too many marriages end senselessly because someone gives up and quits. There are so many failed marriages that can be saved if both would just realize that real failure can only exist after someone quits! I know that I NEVER QUIT! I NEVER denied what I have. I was relieved to put a name to my obvious, unexplainable insanity. I have always looked forward to clearing my head and finally making something happen for us! 

But that's just me...

I think I get it...

You asked me, "

I GET IT! However, the end of your reply to me, "But it seems like men who understand what ADHD has helped you to do to the women you love and to her love for you would understand that they might just be done.  You didn't get help soon enough.", makes me wonder... do you!? 

Perhaps I could just..."TRY HARDER"!"

And I think I understand your frustration with my  comment.  I agree with what you said about marriage vows and about caring for kids ideally within a marriage bond.  My husband was diagnosed with inattentive ADD about 2 1/2 years ago, and diagnosed or undiagnosed we've never approached a scenario where divorce was thought of much less discussed so please don't think I believe ADD to be a death sentence for a marriage.  Marriages can and do thrive in this situation especially when a mate gets prompt help when a problem becomes apparant as my husband did and is continuing to do....not that it isn't still frustrating at times! :)

What I am saying is that I've been reading here for a while.  I know many nonADHD wives with ADHD husbands ARE DONE.  THEY HAVE HAD IT.  They were willing to work and work for years, perhaps with a diagnosis perhaps without, but they hung in as long as they were willing/able.  Some of them don't care what you have or why you have it. They would have cared a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, but now they don't because their love has been killed by the inattentiveness, thoughtlessness, carelessness.  Their love is dead and they aren't interested in reviving it.  That is what I feel some of them men aren't getting.  I don't think that is ideal, and I hope they give that love a chance to rekindle both because they made promises and/or because they have kids.  But we all have to accept that it is a valid choice to say "NO MORE!!  I am going to find a man who does not treat me like this.  Who helps me the way I want/need ot be helped...who supports me in the way I need."  They can wish you well with your treatment and simply choose not to be part of the roller coaster ride anymore.  I don't always agree with them, but I can understand their thinking and I think you should stop marginalizing it.  One of the consequences of ADHD is unfortunately hurting those you love and who love you.  For some those wounds are healable and for some they are not.  Sometimes the consequence is that you kill relationships that you are unable to revive.  It is terrible and it may have been inadvertent, but a dead child lying on the road doesn't really care if you meant to hit her with your car.

I am just saying sometimes the mate might not have anything left to give by the time treatment is sought.

When the love is gone

Aspen, you've captured my very thoughts.  A few months ago, I commented even to Dan here that he got help too late.  In far too many cases, the ADHD'er seeks help only after their world has fallen apart, usually by the spouse's departure.  But the spouse is out the door already.  If one waits through all of that misery that they are living and have caused, never seeking help before, it is never going to be persuasive to go seek it after the ADHD'er was finally dealt a blow.   Seeking help after-the-fact only serves to solidify the selfishness with which the non-ADHD'er had to live with for so many years.

"Oh wait. Now it's destroying my world. Let me see if I can go get help."

What is left is knowing that if the non-ADHD spouse had just continued to agree to live in hell, they would still be in hell, and the ADHD'er would have never sought any help at all.

I have to deal with this too. It was only after I revealed to my husband that I was having murder-suicide fantasies that he finally sought help.  He was diagnosed within that month.  He can never undo that sequence of events now.  I had to tell him that I sometimes fantasize about killing myself and taking him out with me for the sake of our son for him to think there's something wrong??? The years of tears and screaming and repeated conversations to a brick wall? Those didn't count??? What he wound up telling me by getting help at that point was "Holy crap. She could snap and kill me now.  I think I'd better do something."

And treating ADHD is like emptying out an ocean with a teaspoon. To go from 1% effort to 5% effort is a 500% improvement for the ADHD'er, but it's not much change in the lifestyle of the one who went from carrying 99% to carrying 95%. That person is well spent - to the point of leaving or thinking of suicide.  They cannot carry 95% to wait and hope for another 1% of effort to come down the line in another 10 or 20 years.  They already know just how much pain they had to suffer when the ADHD'er didn't care to seek help. If they just go back now, then it's reasonable to expect that the ADHD'er is no longer threatened with loss and therefore, no longer motivated to change.  So, what's the point of going back?

I'm sure my husband continues to work on his ADHD because he doesn't want to live that way any longer. However, >I< no longer have it in me to extend any energy any longer.  I don't want to die either. But if I stay with him for the rest of my life, I know my death will not come through natural causes or illness in old age.  I have to leave. I know what lies ahead already.

Virtual Slapper

Enjoyed your comments Dan.  My heart goes out to you.  You definitely got a big slap.  I am married to a talented man who is a retired serviceman, a machinist, very intelligent, can make something if he can see a picture of it.  He has a cute sense of humor, likes animals and get fix just about anything.  The down side  is he doesn't hear (won't wear his hearing aids), doesn't read, spell or write (unless it has to do wiith mechanics) and refuses to talk about anything that pertains to "us".  He will talk about the weather and other mundane things that I get from anyone but not much of serious importance.  It's frustrating to know what to do.  I'm glad I found this site to learn and share.  Best wishes to you!

thanks: ADHD Explained in a simple and logical way

Thanks for your comments.

For everyone, I also found this great ADHD Web site.   It explains all about ADHD especially for adults.  It is something that may bring peace and understanding to all ADHD marriages.  It has many ADHD videos, including some from Dr. Hallowell, founder of this site.   Video of ADHD explained.  I got the shot of adrenaline!  :-D

You know, the human brain is the most advanced and fascinating machine in the world.   As we all know, machines are not perfect and need maintenance.  One should never be ashamed to admit that. 

Even Ferrari's needs occational oil changes.




Wish my husband could see this

If you will look back at some of my posts from last year you can see what I have been through with my husband denying that he has ADHD and then even being diagnosed (misdiagnosed I would say) as having anxiety stress disorder.  The citalopram seemed to work for a little while but now he is just full of anger and frustration because he can't understand why I am not happy with him.  He still is just as forgetful and doing just as many confusing things as before.  He is constantly trying to fix something only to make a huge disaster of the whole thing and I have to take the time to fix it  and then he gets mad because he doesn't understand why I am upset.  It just goes on and on.  He would be extremely angry if I even mentioned to him the idea of getting on here and reading anything.  It makes him angry.  I see no way for peace in my life, other than he leave which will break my daughter's heart but I am so tired and sick of all this. 

Wish my husband knew this

I wish I'd read this post months ago.  I wish someone would "slap" my husband upside the head.  He just doesn't get how much he's putting at risk with his refusal to look at his ADD and deal with it.  This has been a really hard week for him, and so it's been a hard week for me.  I start out each day, asking for strength and grace.  I try to be flexible when he can't respond to my requests - even just to talk for a few minutes - and then expects me to drop everything and listen whenever anything goes wrong in his world.  I did well today, getting through several events and adjusting and moving on.  And then, there's always just one MORE.  The straw that does me in, and I'm in tears trying to find a way to get through the rest of the day.  I'm so tired of being in pain all the time.  After years of giving too much, I'm dealing with physical symptoms and exhaustion that doesn't get better.  It seems the more I work to take care of my needs and pace my life so that I can heal and still function, the more he needs to pull on whatever energy I have.  I don't know how much longer I can live with the constant chaos. 

My husband is a good man.  And as long as he's unwilling to look at problems and take responsibility for them, I can only do so much.  It takes two people to make a marriage work, and we're both only just surviving right now.

Me me me me.....

Dan, I hope you won't think that I'm dumping on you, but I see a lot of similarity between your comments in this thread, those by other ADHD husbands in other threads, and my ex-boyfriends extensive (and rambling) emails to me.  That common thread is "me, me, me, me." 

I see, "sure, I was a very difficult husband for all of those years, but it was the ADHD!  You have to forgive me! NOW!"

I see, "Why can't she see how unfair she's being to me?"

I see, "I keep sending her links to let her know what's going on with me."

Trust me, your wife knows ADHD intimately.  She dealt with it every moment of her life for 12 years.  Have you ever considered that she just can't deal with it anymore?  That your insistence that all the trouble is in the past now that you are diagnosed is just another example of how ADHD is still affecting your perceptions?    I am happy that you are thinking positively and want to work on overcoming your ADHD - I'm sure, at some level, your wife is too.  But, respect goes both ways - and until you can see that she has 12 years of reasons to be done with her marriage, and that it doesn't matter WHY, only WHAT, then you will continue to have problems in your relationships.   Of course there was a reason for these problems, it's great that you now know why and can work on making sure they don't happen again, but they happened, and no amount of "it's not my fault" can ever change that.  When you can feel compassion for your wife, rather than blame, you will know you are on your way.

I can TOTALLY relate

I'm not crazy, but oftentimes in this relationship I feel like I am. I'm the responsible one made out to be the boring one, the one that's too serious..... Question of my life....if everyone is constantly having fun, when do we do the things that need to be taken seriously in know those that have dire effects if not addresed or done?

So they always wait to get handled by me, and he does the fun stuff that doesn't require thought or work, I'm boring and well, he's fun!


Does it ever end? Aside from my ending it in divorce that is. Where's the silver lining to this ADD debacle? If it's there, I cant see it....too many clouds....forcast is rain....again. It's been raining for 14yrs!

Yes, this disorder that we

Yes, this disorder that we are dealing with, does make you feel like you are crazy.  I am the boring one and the serious one, also.  Thank goodness for us that somebody in this relationship is!  The serious stuff gets handled, most of the time, when it gets to the crisis level.  Then, the chaos begins for everyone involved.  No, I don't believe I will see an end to it, in my lifetime, unless I choose to leave. 

I have sat here for 2 hours

I have sat here for 2 hours this morning, reading all and re-reading some of the posts in this thread. This thread has hit home with me more than any other that I've read on this web-site, although almost everything I've read has hit home with me in one way or another.

My husband of 20 years and I have recently seperated, about a month ago. Since the seperation we realized that he has ADHD. Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago, but for some reason, even with all of the problems we had in our marriage, we never made the connection that he might have it and that might be the cause of our problems. We have both posted to this site over the last month. I won't go over every problem in our marriage and the progression of all of it, I think most that are here reading can grasp how much damage that 20 years of dealing with this condition undiagnosed can cause. I feel like I have given and given and given and given, times infinity. We've had the overspending and irresponsibility with money, the job changes, the bankruptcies, the me feeling unloved, ignored, unimportant, while he is off pursuing his latest interest ad nauseum. The me doing everything to keep the household running, including cleaning up all the messes and piles, that he left behind, raising the kids pretty much on my own, and feeling like nothing I did was ever good enough. He was a perfectionist when it came to everyone else in the family and what we did. Over the years I built up resentment and anger, but always stayed because I felt it was the right thing to do, and always hoped things would get better, this was always enforced by his latest "dream, sceme, or plan" to make a better life for us, and he always meant well, he always had good intentions, so I felt like I was the bad guy for doubting him, for being angry with him, for getting to the point where I couldn't take any more disappointments, couldn't clean up any more messes, couldn't deal with the constant chaos, and what started out seeming like a magical type of adventure seeking and fun, but had become another reason for me to know disappointmet was just around the corner....again. My dreams of a happy life with an equal partner were never going to be realized. I always thought if I just try harder, if I can just be better, enough for him to really love me, if I can just be supportive enough of him so that he can pursue his latest dream or idea one more time. I have carried so much guilt for so many years, that maybe I wasn't doing enough, that I wasn't enough for him, but I was becoming more and more exhausted and tired from always trying to be the responsible one. The anger and resentment finally overtook, but the guilt was still there. I was  (and stil am) so lonely. Feeling so alone. Sometimes feeling it was my fault, other times being so angry because of how selfish he had been and had always put himself and his needs ahead of our family. And like so many others have said, outside of our home, most people saw him as a great, caring guy, with a charismatic personality. Surely all the problems had to be my fault. I was the cold, angry, resentful spouse that was withdrawing from my life with my husband. Its all so confusing. It all causes so much hurt and pain. And the kids are not immune to all this either. I feel like i've let my children be exposed to this constant stress and chaos and instability, as well as my unhappiness, and the tension between my husband and I for too long. It has hurt them. And even though I stayed for so long because I felt it was best for them, I know now that I was wrong. I should have left earlier. All I've done is expose them to a dysfunctional marriage and set an example for both of them (both girls) that they should take up all the slack, clean up all the messes, and expect nothing in return. I hope that they don't grow up and marry and become what I have become and loose themselves and forget to care for themselves because they are so busy trying to fix everything and keep everyone else happy and everything in order at all costs to their own mental well being.

And now that there is a diagnosis, and my husband is getting counciling, I see so much of him in the posts by Dan. That after 20 YEARS of dealing with all of this, I should just jump right on board and be supportive and acepting, and forgiving and let all of that go. 20 years of hurt and frustration, "poof" should all just be gone, because he didn't mean to do all of it. I do understand that. I don't hate my husband, but just because he has been "slapped" into reality and is loosing things important to him after all these years, and now wants to save things and change things because its what he wants, he misses his family, now he wants to do things right. How do I know, and I don't know, that this isn't just one more hyperfocus, his latest mission of what he want to accomplish. I've had so many promises over the years, hundreds of them, and often have been manipulated into going along with things I didn't want to go along with. How is this guaranteed to be different? And how I am just supposed to shake off all the sadness and frustration of all the years that I have built up? And be his cheerleader, and be there for him again? Be there to pick up the pieces, the ever supportive wife? And if I'm not, somehow I'm a "quitter". To someone like Dan, I don't deserve respect. I want my husband to be better, for himself, I hope he is very successful with his treatment. I hope also that Dan can find true peace in his life and "forgive" his wife for what she is "doing to him". Obviously he has not gotten past his me-itis, he still can't see how much she has been through because of his illness. He is still focusing on himself and what he needs and what he wants, and if she is not on the same page, then she is bad and selfish.

At some point we have to claim our own sanity. Sometimes enough is enough is enough. It becomes about self preservation. I have to move forward for myself. I have to think about myself before there is no more me to think about. My husband also felt that I needed to let him back in immediately, have everything back to the way it was, because he was going to make things better, same song, yet another new verse. How is this any different to me at this point? I'm tired, exhausted actually. I can't do it right now. Not because I'm selfish and heartless, but because right now I need to take care of myself. And no, a few weeks is not enough. I think Dan, and probably my husband, and many other ADHDers that have been diagnosed and expect instant forgiveness and for everything to immediately be alright, really are not seeing all of the hurt and damage they have caused, rather it was intentional or not, its still hurt and pain, and sometimes it cannot be recovered from. They think they see, they think they understand, but they don't. They are still in their ADHD world of expecting instant gratification, they don't have the ability to really see things through the eyes of the people that they have hurt the most. I'm not sure that they are capable of it. I'm not sure what will happen with my marriage at  this point. Right now I am no where close to being ready to work on it. I need to heal myself. This week my husband says he is willing to give me that time. Maybe he is now, but I'm experienced enough with him to know that next week may be a different story and he could be back to pressuring me to hurry and make a decision and give him a chance to prove how much he is going to change. I can't. I don't have that stamina in me any more. Its been used up. I have to have time to take care of myself. I don't know how long that will be. Maybe forever. I'm not willing to sacrifice anymore years of my life, hoping that things might get better. I've spent half my life doing that already. Dan hasn't posted in a while, maybe he is learning and recovering and understanding more now than he did then. I hope so. I hope he is not still pinning all the problems and the end of his marriage on his wife because he believes she quit trying and is putting herself before him and their children. At some point we have to put ourselves first and meet our own needs. It took me years to see this but I finally I do, and I won't be guilted and manipultated into feeling bad about it. I matter. Everyone matters. No ones needs are more important than someone else's. I'm sorry that it takes something like a divorce or a seperation to make some people realize that. Its a sad situation. But unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world.

Just a GIANT hug to

Just a GIANT hug to can be so hard to finally say enough. Please take care of yourself and the best to you.

Waking up...

Sneaky indeed... I was 43 years old when i was diagnosed. Our marriage had been strained for years and when I started getting anxiety attacks and my GP sent me to the phychiatrist, 10 minutes later he was sure, and wanted me to read and come back and share my feelings. Wow... Every ADDer's dream, an answer for so many things that I thought were my bad behaiviors, an explanation... I responded well to Adderall (Waking up) and began to talk to my wife about these things, but I'm sure I wore her out quick in the first month, after that she does not really want to talk about ADD?!? It' like she thinks it's my latest excuse for all the pain I have caused. How do you move forward when I don't think she believes it is a Real Disease? All I can do is read and try to understand this thing better. I have years of work to do to repair my behaviors. It is just REAL difficult to do this in silence. I understand her anger, and try to read everything I can no matter how painful it is to do. I do lots of housework, homework, household projects (sometimes a little hard to finish, but they always work) I have not been unemployed since 1994 (4 months). I wish my wife would poke around and read about some of the men who don't do much of anything. If my wife had a disease I would learn everything I could about it. It's like a joke, excuse disease, so many people think. Someone said 3 step forward, then 2 back, which sums my last year well. I have a Special Pill that takes care of many of my problems, Mental, emotional and physically (I have lost 45 pounds since diagnosis) but it is the "Speed" that get's all the credit. It just goes back to her view that I always get my way, though the price can be high. I was reading on this site one morning and she asked what I was looking at, I told her and got a total "Whatever" reaction. Damn... My ADHD has been a marriage killer for years, but I will not take 100% "Blame" for a medical condition. All I can do is try to be a better husband and hope she releases some of the anger and resentment.

It's not that easy

To just get over and release all that pain and anger.  That person that has stolen so much of your life and drained who you are right out of you. Sometimes too much damage has been done. A person is only capable of giving so much.