Frustrated with current circumstances

Like every other non-ADHD spouse on this website, pretty much everything resonates.  I can relate to just about every post, comment, etc.  Unfortunately.

My fiance (together 3 years, engaged for 2) and I have really hit hard times just before our wedding.  Since we decided to have a wedding a year ago, things have really taken a turn for the worse.  We both realize this has a lot to do with the stress of the wedding planning coupled with the stress of everyday life in an ADHD relationship. We've gone to counseling (until we could no longer afford it), and although it seemed to help a little bit, I wasn't really seeing the changes I wanted to see. With either of us.  Mostly, I felt like the attempt to work on "us" ended after each session.  I never really felt it moving beyond that hour; I guess I never really saw the follow-through. My fiance said he found it extremely helpful, he's willing to try meds, and he's willing to go back when our finances rebound from the wedding. We do have plans to go back to counseling and to get him started on meds in the near future.  

At any rate, my issue is with my ADHD partner's current level of aggression he has toward anything/everything he finds unsuitable.  If I don't understand what he's trying to convey, he begins to aggressively yell at me, repeating the same sentence over and over without answering my question. If I disagree with him, he says I'm criticizing him and that starts an argument.  If the dogs misbehave, he goes overboard with the punishment (to clarify, he's not abusive to them, it's just so much yelling and he scares them, for sure).  If I comment on the fact that his driving is scaring me, I get yelled at and put down.  Basically, he yells about everything under the bloody sun, he'll throw things, break things, slams thing around.  It's over-the-top, ridiculous.  I have to admit over the course of three years, I have begun to react the same way towards him when I get upset.  I am ashamed to say that our fights have gotten physical recently, and I know I play a part in that as well. (Our counselor is aware of the situation.)  I realize that my behavior also needs some work -major work- I'm not letting myself off the hook, here.  I just need some advice.  I don't know how to get him to understand that his reaction to common situations is extreme and needless. Its like I have a toddler throwing a temper tantrum every ten minutes, and has the ability to really do some damage. I need him to see that his reaction to just about everything puts me on the defensive and immediately puts me on edge. (Even scares me sometimes.) I, then, overreact to his reaction and everything just escalates from there. 

Does anyone else have this problem?  How do you handle it?  More importantly, how in the world do you stay calm in the face of such behavior?



(Even scares me sometimes.) Your quote.

Do not marry someone you are afraid of. This will not magically go away.  You will end up compromising your reality to "pretend" he is not someone you need to be afraid of.

Do not have children in this union.  Making a life for the two of you will be enough to "cope" with.

Do you want to live your life for the rest of your life just "coping"?

Marriage is based on trust and dependability ... not just romance and sex. .  Do you trust him?

Thought Provoking...

I'm not sure how to reply to this... everything I type reads like an abused woman making excuses for an abusive spouse.  That's not really who/what I wanted to portray. I don't really feel like that is the case. I cannot defend the fact that I said he scares me.  However, I should clarify that all of the physicality during our fights is on me.  He has never raised his hand to me or intimated that he would strike me.  I am not scared of him in the physical sense; I don't really know how to explain what IS scaring me. It also bears noting that I suffer from PTSD and have moderate to severe anxiety, so in certain situations, I feel extreme fear/panic.  In stating all of that I have to ask myself: Am I just making excuses?  Or do I have a difficult time articulating what is really happening in the heat of the moment?  Is "scares" even the right word? If not, what is the right word? (yes, I'm aware that he should take my condition into account as well, and we were working on that in counseling.) 

I know there is no excuse for his behavior.  But am I really that wrong to think that this can be remedied over time?  I don't think this can be magically fixed, but I do think that we can fix it with a lot of work. 

To answer your question, no, I don't want to spend the rest of my life just coping.  I want to find a way out of this black hole.  Our communication has reached such a level of breakdown that I don't know how to get it back on track.  BOTH of us take everything the wrong way.  We're constantly answering in a snarky tone.  When I'm trying to make my point (albeit poorly) I'm interrupted, and he yells his commentary (which completely sidetracks me) and then that starts a whole new argument.  It just keeps cycling as such. I'm frustrated, angry, tired, and fed up.  I want to have a happy marriage, not just cope, but I don't know how to make him see his own behavior and why it's wrong. He seems to have an excuse for everything. 

I do trust him; I am not a very trusting person, so this says a lot.  Can I depend on him? No.  Currently, he's not reliable. But I am optimistic that with meds and counseling this will change.  All in all, I don't think my fiance is a bad guy; honestly.  He's willing to TRY to fix this - that's more than can be said for a lot of the spouses mentioned on this blog. 

I guess  I am mostly frustrated with how he perceives every situation.  He doesn't think he's yelling, he doesn't think he's using an aggressive tone to ask me a question... I don't know how to change his perception or at the very least get him to validate mine. 



Can you clarify something?

I get that he doesn't abuse you/hit you.

Even though, do you feel like he could lose control any minute? Are you sort of waiting for the hammer to fall?

you may not want to hear this

Dear Needs,

Everything in your post suggests that you are not listening to your gut. That alarm bells are going off, that he frequently makes you very uncomfortable, that you feel insecure and afraid. I know. You are trying to do everything right. Therapy. Counseling. Urging him to take meds. But dear, marrying him will not fix this. If you read your post and a friend or sister wrote it, what would you tell her? 

My answer to your question is the same one that I would give to a friend: that you shouldn't have to try to stay calm in the face of such behavior. No one should--I don't think it is overreacting to freak out when someone starts screaming or breaking things. It is not ok, or healthy, or right, or whole. Just because he hasn't actually hit your dogs doesn't mean he isn't being abusive by screaming at them and frightening them. I want to say something really straight to you: imagine the way he treats your dogs, and imagine it being your small child. If he treats you and your dogs this way, do you really think it will be different for future children? Do you think it will be ok for your children to witness him treating you and your dogs this way? Having children adds even more stress. And it sounds like you might have some financial stress as well?

Since you asked, my advice, from the bottom of my caring heart, is do not under any circumstances marry this man. Marriage will not stop him from breaking things. You willing it will not stop it. Please. He is not ok. He is not a good match for you. He is not the husband for you. His behavior is driving you to do things that aren't you and don't feel ok to you. 

You choose whom you will marry. You get to choose. You are trying to get him to understand that his reactions are extreme and needless. I have been there, with a similar husband. I will tell you that even having beautiful, innocent children in the house was not enough to "get him to see." The threat of me leaving after 12 years was not enough to "get him to see." That people who lose control and break things have a way of justifying it and of getting worse. Lack of anger management and the violence of breaking things? Blame it on ADHD or whatever. Does it really matter? Do you want to spend years and years with someone who acts like a toddler and breaks things? 

At the very least, postpone it. Please. Look out for yourself. Listen to your gut. Something inside is telling you that you should settle for this love, this relationship. Take the time to find out why. Skip the couples therapy with the vague intention to start meds, and see someone by yourself.   

I hope this isn't too forward of me. It's just that I used to be you and I wish that someone had said these things to me before I married and spent all of those years of my life trying to "get him to see." My best to you. Let us know how it goes. 

Hard to Hear

I know you and the poster before you (I can't remember her name) are right.  Deep down, I know this isn't good.  I know I'm making excuses.  I know I'm just telling myself, "you can make this work", "you can fix this".  Why, I don't know.  I love him, I guess. I WANT it to work.  I WANT this to be it. I don't want to waste all of this money! (I'm sorry, I'm crying, I need a teensy bit of humor.)

I also know that I, too, am damaged.  I don't care to share the details on a public forum, but I definitely have some issues - PTSD, anxiety, difficulty with intimacy, the list goes on.  I have a tendency, too, to be verbally abusive.  I AM the one who gets physical in this relationship.  While I realize that NONE of this is healthy, I guess, in my heart of hearts, I want to fix this, with him, together.  I want us to both come out on the other side, better, happy, not so damaged, together.  I love him and I want to grow old with him. 

I feel like I'm an idiot for saying that.  I feel like I should know better, cut my losses, move on. I just can't.  I don't think marrying him will fix this, but I guess in a strange way I have to believe people can change; if I don't believe that, I can't change myself.

Thank you for your honest advice. (You should know, for your own peace of mind, I'm not having children. There will be no young ones exposed to this crazy. :))  


I understand that your

I understand that your partner has not physically abused you.  But you being physical toward him is potentially as destructive.  I'm not saying that one or the other of you bears more responsibility for the situation.  However, it sounds terrible to me to be in a relationship in which whatever your partner is doing calls forth physical aggression on your part.  I think that you need a break.

All the same...

Yes.  This relationship sounds stressful and hurtful.  I just went through a year and a half of wedding planning and I had the same feelings as you more than once.  Probably more times than I can count on one hand.  This ritual has been so overblown by our culture, it sucks that so many expectations have been brought in.  (The wedding day WAS amazing.  Not worth the stress, but still amazing.)  It strains EVERYONE.  I even had exactly the same rueful thought about "I can't cancel this, think of the wasted money."  I got so frustrated I threw stuff.  Small things like pens.  Slamming the fridge door and breaking a magnet.  I felt helpless and that he wasn't listening to me, and he yelled because he felt I wasn't listening to him.  (Nowadays we have agreed to try to repeat everything the other one says.  It's a massive blow to the ego having to go 'round like a 4-year-old repeating everything.  But now we both feel listened to.  I remember the things I repeat, even days later.  And it's night and day how much less often he feels I'm sitting with him and not listening.)

Personally, I stopped doubting about wanting to marry him about 4 months before the wedding, and stopped doubting the wedding itself with about a month to go.  It was only after a bunch of the huge decisions had been made, arguments had been fought with the parents and the caterer, stress was behind us - and we got through them in one piece, both as individuals and as a couple.  My DH actually surprised me.  No matter what I'd be upset about, having hurt him or doing things wrong, he told me over and over that he didn't once doubt his decision.  He was stressed, but that didn't change how he felt.  He knew before he proposed that I still hadn't been sure about it, he knew when we were engaged that I was still not sure we could be stable enough for a whole life together... and he held me and smiled with his eyes and told me he never doubted.  Now I don't either.  Sniffle, aww.

Have you done anything with CBT?  I have looked at a total of half a book about it, but what I've taken away so far is a lot about tuning in to a steady voice inside yourself that never sways with the "I always fail" and the "I can't" and "I should" or "I shouldn't" that people tell themselves.  I think it's the same thing that Liz Gilbert has conversations with in her notebook in "Eat, Pray, Love."  And it's the same concept I see in these daily emails from one woman's idea called the "Inner Pilot Light."  Bear with me while I get new-agey, now.  Your Inner Pilot Light is a voice of eternal support, love, and positivity.  It never lets in the negative.  It takes setbacks as nudges from the Universe to set you up where you're meant to be.  It reminds you that the way you are is perfect - no ifs, ands or buts.  I get these emails every day.  They were hard to read at first - they were either way too hokey or way too close to things I really was feeling insecure about.  They were just vague enough, like horoscopes, to apply to any possible situation.  But after a few months, I had thoughts pop up that were my own but were just as positive as those emails.  And now when I'm feeling low, I can sometimes have a chat with that voice, reason with it (from "sweetie, who'd benefit from you throwing yourself out the window?" to "go talk to him and tell him why that hurt you") and love myself.  One time I was feeling low after a nasty argument, and this song started playing in my head, you know the one that goes "because you're amazing just the way you are" - that was my Pilot Light singing to me.

OK, so all this is to say, I got a Pilot Light email last week about putting things off even though you maybe "shouldn't," because you're not ready to do them.  And that it's actually fine for you to wait until you are ready.  From your posts, it sounds like you are not ready to change.  You are the only one who will give yourself permission to leave or stay.  The doubts are there, which is a sign to listen to.  But if you're not ready, then you aren't.  That's okay!  People on the forum also talk about waiting before taking action - while they're giving advice from their experience that you shouldn't wait so long, they also had a point at which they were ready and made that final action, and not before.

Don't get me wrong - by NO means am I saying their advice is invalid, or their emotions, nor am I trying to discount their years of hurt, their broken trust or their decades of trying!  I'm not saying whether you should or shouldn't leave.  I'm not saying anyone else's choices were worse or better, or that they were any stronger or weaker, or anything!!  

I'm saying: 

  • that it's ok not to be ready, and that people act when they truly are ready - no matter what their "shoulds" say.  That the only purpose of your internal shoulds is to compare yourself to a standard that's not tailored to you.
  • Also, that wedding planning puts a ridiculous strain on any relationship.  Two years is a LONG time - I was a mess after 1.5.  And had the same doubts.
  • And finally, maybe to tune out from your shoulds, and have a look at the Inner Pilot Light for a little while. :)

Tantrums and outbursts

I've seen this (I am non-ADHD married to ADHD).  Before I knew anything out ADHD I started out puzzled, then went through the following stages:

- fought back (I am a type A and can get very 'forthright' if my babies are threatened, whatever my babies happen to be at the time)

- I eventually recognized ADHD, read a lot, was very puzzled about how many people said 'it's not personal' - it sure looks it at the time, but the light came on when I understood the frustration and build-up - it is not personal!  Here is the issue in your case - is it or is it not personal?  Would you dump someone with Tourette's or a tic or something else that was not chemically under their control? Or is he really a jerk?  This is the big question - and you can choose to walk away even if it is chemical.

- then I got very politically incorrect and am sorry to say I giggled (yes, it looked so ridiculous when looked at coolly)

- then I outrighted laughed because I couldn't stop myself (I thought it would make things worse but nope, he was too busy freaking out)

- then I decided I actually could calmly ignore it (either in or out of the room) until the storm passed and the sun came out and his world looked fresh and new.

Then meds happened.  With the right meds, it s-t-o-p-p-e-d d-e-a-d. No tantrums, no freak outs (except when under the type of stress that would make me lose it too and so I am, if not forgiving -as I am very hard on myself I also tend to be hard on others- then understanding.  I still can and do walk away if a mini-freakout happens (walking away is a big achievement for me, I was always ready to go for the kill if someone started a fight, but if this is behavior is ADHD then it's not usually not about starting a fight with YOU or ME, it's about an overload of being unable to get the right response out of his brain and then his mouth, and often correlates with panic and/or anxiety).

I am not generally a fan of 'better living through chemistry' BUT dealing with his ADHD has been an educational experience and a half. The meds can be powerful magic.  Though it might take a while, though everyone is different and response to drugs highly individual, though in the worst case your bf may never find a magic combination, there is a possibility that our experience could happen to someone else. I am sure my husband's case is not unique, he may be special to me but he's not that special to the rest of the world - in fact he's pretty textbook severe ADHD.

It seems to me that anyone with moderate-to-severe ADHD should get on meds first (may take months or longer to get it right, be patient) and have counselling later (if at all, my husband does not).  In your case getting him 'under control' may give you a much better chance and more time/mental space to work on your own issues. If he doesn't get this behavior under control then both of you are spinning your wheels. I think when boiled down it is that simple - his brain chemistry is compromised, talking about it won't fix it, only meds stand a chance (and a good chance, although some people do not respond). You can choose to stay with him and insist he tries meds, or you can decide it's too much work - no-one else can tell you what to do.

I hope something here resonates, I wrote in a hurry so forgive any errors, just wanted to drop in a quick response.

Thank you

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone for their comments.  I've really been struggling lately.  I've been doubting my relationship, my decision to marry (again), my love for my fiance, whether or not I'm cut out for a partnership with someone with ADHD (I fall into the "perfectionist" category).  A large portion of this doubt and struggle is due in great part to my fear of commitment, intimacy and personal vulnerability. 

Last night, I was a terrible mess. I was teary and finally just turned everything off and tried to go to bed.  I felt like I was crazy for wanting to stay with him and try to make this work.  Then I calmed down and REALLY started thinking.  Why was I with him?  Why did I want to stay?  Is he really abusive - in the truest sense of the word?  And I thought and I thought and I couldn't stop thinking...  Then I woke up and read posts from Frankcesa and Sunshine.  Thank you for reminding me that the shoulds are not necessarily what's right for everyone.  My mom always says that "you may not be able to tolerate that behavior from your spouse, but maybe she can. And vice versa"  We're all different.  Also, I want to point out that all of the situations I'm describing have occurred within the last 6 months - the height of my stress!  I really am looking for advice on how to calm down and stay calm during all of this.  I do think things will get better with help and medication. I don't think he's a jerk inherently, I don't think he's going to hurt me, I don't think this isn't fixable.  I do think his outbursts are related to his own frustration with an inability to communicate his thoughts properly.  I do think this is ADHD related.  And I love that he's willing to work on it; he's willing to take medication; he's willing to do all of this.  I am the one who put the stop to counseling due to financial reasons. The wedding was getting away from me, and I couldn't take the additional stress of trying to figure out how to pay for the sessions and the wedding.  We both agreed that after the wedding we would start back up.  And yes, I know I have to make the appointments, and I have to do everything to get him there on time... but you know what? He goes. Without (or minimal) complaint. He goes. He does the homework, with reminding.  He has repeatedly said he WANTS to take medication.  The issue of no follow through is currently mine.  I know that with his ADHD out of control he has an inability to take care of this himself. Not that he doesn't want to, he just doesn't think about it.  I never really knew what ADHD was until I started researching this topic a few months ago.  It's an adjustment for both of us.  We have a lot going on and Lord knows, I am not a perfect spouse either.

So here's what I determined after all my thinking: I KNOW he loves me.  There has never been a day when I didn't think he loved me.  Sure, I'm not always his priority, sure we have our ups and downs, but I always know he loves me.  And yes, the courtship is over - to me, that hyper focus was actually a bit too much, so it was a relief when it ended.  Now I receive fits and spurts of attention which is enough to keep me satisfied. No, the fits and spurts don't always coincide with my "calendar" of wants and needs, but I need to work on conveying that better to him. I am at least 50% responsible for the fighting, the direction it takes, and the point it reaches. I have already seen such great strides on his part to do better.  I can't disregard that.  He is trying.

Then I started thinking about the situations I so poorly described in my original post.  God, I made him out to be a monster. And yes, if I read what I posted, I would say, leave him too. However, my original post was written out of anger, frustration and brevity to get my frustration OUT!  I had read all of these other posts and really worked myself into a lather.  I was so hurt. I feel like I'm heard, but not listened to.  I feel like I'm constantly nagging and bitchy.  I'm tired of never getting my way; I feel like I'm constantly giving in to a child.   

Let's take the dogs as the first example.  These animals are our children. We each had a dog when we met, and we recently acquired a third dog (we'll call him 3) that is the same age as one of the others.  Well, 3 has a tendency to start playing with the other 2, rough housing, chase, tug, then he gets mad and starts snapping and growling at them.  Being dogs and establishing a pecking order, the other 2 always snarl, snap and growl back.  These are natural squabbles.  I try to diffuse the fight, then carry on about my day.  The day before yesterday this happened AGAIN. Immediately, after the squabble ended my fiance (F) grabbed 3 by the scruff, dragged him away from the others, got in his face and yelled, "NO" repeatedly, and probably some other things.  I'm standing by watching this dog shake with fear.  He's whimpering. He's scared.  And I firmly believe that animals can be trained using methods other than fear.  I began to ask F to stop, he's scared, you're being mean... then it became more of a I'm most likely raising my voice.  I felt like I wasn't being heard. He's not paying my thoughts and feeling any attention - I want to "raise our kids" differently.  This is all I've been able to think about until last night.  I replayed the situation in my head, thinking more about F and his behavior.  This was a stressful situation for both of us.  We don't like dog squabbles, and we haven't really had to deal with them until now.  F let the squabble end, and he picked out the aggressor and separated him from the group.  I know that grabbing a dog by the scruff doesn't hurt them.  He reminded me of this when I said "you're hurting him", when I said you're scaring him, he responded "good, I want him to be scared"... Now this sounds like a bad thing, but then I REALLY thought about it.  He let 3 go then he began saying, I'm not going to tolerate this behavior. He needs to know that. I don't want them fighting and someone really getting hurt or killed.  Ok. So, in my initial post I'm describing what I saw without context.  For that I'm sorry.  I was so frustrated about not being heard that I unintentionally made F out to be a really bad guy.  Looking back on it, I know that his behavior is what he knows.  He's worried about the kids (and me), and he wants this type of thing to stop and not be a worry for him anymore. I want to find a different way to reach this goal.  He's not hearing that.  But I have to admit, it took me two days to realize that I'm not hearing what he's trying to convey either - he's scared. For our kids and for me. (our counselor has repeatedly told me to stop listening to the words and try to listen to the emotion.  I have a very hard time doing that.) He wants to put an end to the fighting, and he wants to do it now.  He's trying to attempt this in the only way he knows how. 

Now for the other: Sunshine, you described what I'm going through almost exactly!! Thank you so much.  I was puzzled in the beginning, then I began fighting back, and I've continued to do so (also Type A).  Sometimes the things he says seem very personal, but overall I don't think the outburst itself is personal.  I really do think it is as you described - he's frustrated that he is unable to communicate and then lashes out. The action is intentional, but the effect not necessarily so. In the heat of the moment, I have the ridiculous need to win, to be right, and to WIN, by God. So, I have a really hard time staying calm and walking away until it blows over. Thank you for seeing what I was so poorly articulating and reaching out.  It really made me feel better that someone else had a similar path and things got better.   The "breaking things" was actually pretty minimal (small stuff like you described) until our HUGE fight.  He broke the coffee pot. I explained (after the fight) that it would not be replaced for x amount of days. He likes coffee before he leaves for work.  I think that finally resonated.

Here's the part that is hard to say... Sometimes, when I'm really angry with him, I almost revel in the frustration I see building in him. Why? Because it matches my own level of frustration.  "Finally, he's feeling what I'm feeling."  And I will feed on that during the fight.  I also use his inability to express his feelings against him, I will take something that he mis-communicated and whip him with it until he is a bloody pulp (so to speak).  So, you see, I'm not so nice right now, either. When our fight finally reached the level of physical, I had been angry and stewing for at least 2 weeks.  I'm talking the silent treatment, no touching, sleeping in another room kind of angry.  When I finally unleashed my wrath, he didn't know what hit him, and man, I just couldn't let it go (whatever it was). I fought with him for two days; I couldn't stop.  I think I had bottled up so many emotions for so long that it all came out at once.  I absolutely started that fight, and the escalation was indeed my fault. No question.  This type of fight and escalation has only happened once and we immediately sought counseling after.

So, after everything and a good, hard look at myself and my situation. WE need to go back to counseling and he needs to get some medication sooner rather than later.  I really do believe that this is fixable. We need help, but it's doable.  


Rosber's picture

There is some good news in

There is some good news in the bad times you are going through.

Your ADHD partner wants to take medication as well as go through counseling. I am sorry that you aren't financially able to get the meds or treatment.  Those two items along with the fact that he wants to seek them is great. Is there a member in either of your families that could help with paying for the medication and therapies until the time comes when you two can afford them again?

Or how about talk to your therapist and see if they would possibly lower their fees until you could afford the full amount again? My wife and I were in a tight financial situation and I went to our therapist and offered to detail her SUV monthly to help offset the costs. She cut her rates in half so I could come in and get weekly therapy.

Your partner really really really needs to be on medication, therapy for himself first, once he gets himself back on track and happy with himself then you both should go back together. You should also get therapy for yourself as well. It would help you to deal with how your current situation is making you feel as well. Money is a huge stress on any relationship. Its one of the factors that pushed me over the edge. My wife and I had to tighten up our belts and live very tightly financially after we accrued huge debt getting treatment and schooling for our autistic son.

I never was violent or broke and threw things, but I would yell at times and not really know I was yelling.

There are many books posted on this site that would be a great help to you both. The ADHD Effect on Marriage has really helped me wife and me work together again in new ways. You could get the book if you haven't already and both of you could read it and practice working together on things as a couple using the things in that book. It helped me as an ADHD partner in a HUGE way! He has to put forth an effort though. I really strong effort. He has to want your relationship to be a happy one.

One thing you could try is to record him on your phone while he is having a tantrum. Maybe just voice recording, because if you try and get video he may see what you are doing and get even more angry.

Once he calms down and you two are talking calmly maybe suggest he listens to how he sounds when he is having an anger outburst. He may be so overwhelmed, that he doesn't even hear how he sounds. A recording may just make him see how he is acting. It might make him want to work on resolving his anger problems.  I am a reader, I love to read. So it hasn't been hard for me to sit down and read books on ADHD. Some men though really don't like to read. My brother for example is not a reader at all. He hates reading. I would encourage you to get him to read some books about ADHD and the both of you work on the things in them together.

Its really not hard to change the way you do things, it just takes effort really. Come up with some creative ways to get him to read and work on changes behaviors. Offer to give him a backrub and read to him while you relax him.

Walking together has been a really good thing for my wife and I. Its helped me get the exercise I need for my ADHD and it gives us time to talk more.

Another thing I could suggest is the two of you could each pick one thing that you each like to do and take the time once a month to possibly spend time with each others hobby together. My hobby is my car, I like to work on it and I like to take it to car shows and to my car club activities. My wifes hobby is mainly exercising and reading. So I have stepped up and involved myself with her exercising. We walk 2 miles every day, rain or shine. My wife always participated in an exercise boot camp and she always hinted to me she would like me to go by complaining that she didn't like being partnered up with a stranger and I never heard her. We now are doing the bootcamp together. My wife really doesn't care much for cars or car related activities but she has gone to a few of my car activities over the last year. This month she went with me to my 35 reunion for one of the nights. We didn't stay at both activities too long and we both had fun and talked with people we both knew. My wife knows my high school friends, most came to our wedding.

A relationship takes a lot of work and effort. Your partner needs the ADHD fog to clear so he can get to working. That was the bottom line for me. I was living on cruise control until the right combo of treatment and medicine cleared my fog.

My marriage is on a slow climb to new success. Even though my marriage went past the breaking point. My wife filed for divorce 2 months ago. I let her know it wasn't what I wanted not with words but my actions. I have worked extremely hard over the last 2 months to bring myself out of my darkness for myself, my wife, and my family. Being faced with losing my wife and family made me admit and confront things I had been keeping deep inside of myself and not talking to my wife about them or seeking help for them.



Good Advice

Right now our finances are strapped solely because of the wedding and things related to the wedding. It's a big day, and we're trying to make it nice.  Once that is over, things should go back to normal and we'll have more "fun" money that is not already earmarked for something else.  I guess it was just that I already had so much on my plate, I didn't really feel like I could manipulate our finances to incorporate counseling at the time.  I just needed to not be in charge of yet another thing. 

I have read a number of books including the ADHD Effect and found them very helpful.  My fiance is not a reader.  He has requested we get him the audiobooks, but again, that's one more thing I have to do/think about doing.  And things fall off of my list.  I think it is very hard for the ADHD partner to realize and understand how many balls we non-ADHD partners have in the air at any given time.  And as much as I'd love to make him/this a priority, sometimes I need him to take the bull by the horns and get it done himself without my constant reminders.  Hell, I have to set reminders to give reminders... It's too much sometimes.  That aside, I realize now that I need to make our relationship our first priority and I need to focus FIRST on doing things to make us happy and stable.  I've dropped the ball on that one. 

I will take your advice that he needs to get the help first, then we can go back together. That makes sense to me.  We started couple's counseling without being informed about ADHD, now that we know, so many things make so much sense. 

I don't feel comfortable recording my spouse.  I feel as though that would be a little underhanded and would cause some trust issues.  I would prefer that we reach a point where he trusts me enough to validate my feelings toward the situation at hand.  That may sound ridiculously optimistic, but that's how I feel about this.  I wouldn't want him to do that to me.   

We actually do a lot of things together already, but it wouldn't hurt for us to take a look at those things and see how we could make them more meaningful.

Not Ready ...

I know several folks have commented here, regarding your well-being and the possibility that this might end up being a dangerous relationship. While I tend to agree, that's not what stood out to me the most to me when I read your post & comments.

In my opinion, it sounds like neither of you are ready for the marriage. I know ADHD folks can/do have anger issues, but what you're describing sounds like it's more than just ADHD. You sound like an intelligent woman who accepts that she has faults, and is working on them. But I get the impression that you're still struggling with your ability to keep it all under control. Please note, I'm not a doctor and obviously I don't know either of you personally, so this is just MY OPINION. I might be dead-wrong. That being said, it doesn't sound like he's ready to be part of a sharing, give/take relationship with anyone. You may or may not be ready for that kind of relationship. But either way, it sounds to me, like neither of you are ready with each other. Maybe you could be more compatible with each other later on down the road. But I get the impression that the pending wedding, itself, could be the biggest cause for ya'll to have "really hit hard times." Could it be that one, or both, of you are subconsciously screaming "We're not ready for this?"

I'm normally very optimistic about the idea that ADHD folks, and non-ADHD folks can make positive changes to improve their ability to live in an ADHD relationship. However, considering the fact that you're having these traumatic issues BEFORE even being married, I suggest that you both seriously consider — at least — postponing the wedding. I'm sure neither of you is fond of the idea of telling your friends and family that the wedding is being postponed, nor with the perceived embarrassment of doing so. But marriage is a serious commitment. Even if you're already living together in, essentially, a marriage-type relationship, it's not the same as actually being married. If the relationship ultimately fails, you'll have to deal with the stress and burden of divorce. Whereas currently, you still have the ability to just go your separate ways if/when things don't work out.

Maybe removing the emotional and monetary stress of the upcoming wedding will give both of you the opportunity to step back and see things more clearly. Maybe it would free up your finances enough for both of you to get the counseling/medication that you need, in order to see if you're truly compatible. 

Whatever you decide to do, I really feel like you need to get a true understanding of his ADHD situation before getting married. ADHD does not go away. With the right meds/therapy/etc., living with ADHD — and/or living with an ADHD partner — can be improved. But it never goes away. You need to see what he'll be like when he's getting successful treatment, so that you can determine if that alleviates the problems you're having now. You also need to know whether his successful treatment improves the impact that his behaviors have on YOUR issues. Until that's accomplished, proceeding into the marriage seems like a bad idea.

I love analogies. So, think about it this way ... Let's say you feel like you're at a point in life to make the big commitment of buying a car. You see a car that you really like, and it's for sale. You test drive the car and it seems to be a good one, so you decide to buy it.. The salesman says, "Write me a check for the down payment, take the car home for the weekend, and come back on Monday to sign the paperwork." But when you drive the car the next day, there's a loud knocking noise coming from the engine. Would you completely disregard the noise and buy the car anyway, just because you've already said you would, and laid down a large amount of money for it? Of course not. You'd want to know what's causing the noise, and how serious it is, before committing to the long-term obligation. If you find out that the car just needs a tune-up and it'll run great afterward, you might be more inclined to go ahead and buy it. But if you find out that the engine is shot, and will have to be replaced or rebuilt, you'd probably walk away from the deal, right?

Obviously buying a car is not quite as serious as marriage. But the situation is the same. So if you wouldn't buy a car that already has problems — knowing that you're going to have put more money into it — without knowing if that'll make the car reliable for the foreseeable future, why would you commit to a lifetime marriage with the same issues? It may be hard, or embarrassing, etc., to postpone or cancel the wedding at this point. But in the long-term, it'll be less of an ordeal than having to admit defeat 5-10 years down the road when you're facing divorce. 

But again ... that's just my .2¢ worth. I wish you both the best, whichever road you decide to travel down.

This is abuse, not ADD

Get help.  You are being abused.  There's a difference between having ADD/ADHD and an abuser.  You do not have to take this and if you marry him, you will likely experience worse, because he will then have you just where he wants you.  Being scared is not a part of love.  If your counselor isn't helping you, get another one.

p.s. The way you came back and recanted your previous post is very typical of someone who is in an abusive relationship.  And just in case you wondered, I've been there and done that and got out, so I know what I'm talking about.  Get help.

a while to reply...

We immediately went back to counseling. The majority of the time, his responses are "tantrums" or "outbursts" that are symptoms of the ADD, but we do have occasions of "abuse".  It doesn't have to be one or the other - it can be both. However, I saw remarkable dedication to working on our relationship in the last 2 months, getting his ADD under control, and willingness to correct the behavior.  We continue to work on our relationship.  Things are still not 100%, but we're working on it. 

As it turns out, a lot of our issues do actually stem from me - my behavior, my own anger, my way of thinking, and my fight or flight response.  Also, my monthly hormonal changes create a ridiculous amount of strife in our relationship - to the point that I need to see MY physician to work this out.  I am in NO way saying that his behavior is "my fault", I'm saying that my own bad behavior does increase the propensity for his.   

He has started taking meds.  Considering the fact that we only realized that ADHD was a factor a year ago, I think this is a good sign for what is to come.  His medication decisions are his own with his doctor, so I am trying to stay separate from that, unless he requests my presence.  (I wouldn't want him making those types of decisions for me, I feel I need to extend the same courtesy.)

I wanted to come back to this forum and say that I was in a state of turmoil during my original post.  Reading the responses were incredibly helpful, and encouraged me to go back to counseling, ASAP.  We are a struggling couple, and insight from experience is helpful.

Positive Direction ...

It sounds like you're taking the right steps. I hope you both continue to see positive changes in the right direction.

Without necessarily trying to re-hash everything that's already been written in the original post and comments, I would like to offer a few more bits of advice.

• Tread carefully ... it's easy to mistake short-term success for long-term results. In all likelihood, you'll both have setbacks. Sometimes it might just be one or the other of you. Or sometimes it might be both of you at the same time. Those can be hard times, because it's also easy to mistake a "relapse" for "no progress." If that makes sense?

• EXCUSES: I believe there's a fine line between the strength it takes to admit faults and work on fixing them, versus using those faults as an excuse. I'm not saying either of you has done that ... but it's something to watch out for. "I'm having a tantrum and it's because of ADD," or, "I'm sorry I overreacted, but it was my time of the month and I was angry." Don't let your symptoms become an excuse for acting on them.

I went for years, hearing my side of arguments as "defending myself." It wasn't really until a year or so ago, that I realized that my wife heard all of it as an excuse. As our communication with each other has improved, we've both changed our perspectives. I asked my wife to tell me when it sounded like I was making excuses. Based on that information, I was able to start changing some of the things I was saying/doing. Suddenly, my wife started telling me how she was beginning to hear my rebuttals as an explanations, or as insight into my ADD processes. And she said that helped her, too, because she could finally see that many of "our" issues were actually just ADD behaviors that she was interpreting as "He doesn't care about me enough to change his bad habit(s)." And I can see how, if she thought that way, why she was so angry with me.

• I would encourage you to, at least, offer to go with him to his ADD appointments. I agree with you, that those are his decisions to make. However, that doesn't mean you can't help him. My situation is a bit different, because I have significant hearing loss. So, when I'm making important decisions, I'm glad I have my wife for support. She helps me by making sure I heard things correctly, and by also letting me know how different decisions might affect her. So ultimately, I make my ADD treatment decisions myself ... but I rely on her input because it's extremely valuable, and I don't always trust myself to make the right choice. But if we (ADD folks) feel like we HAVE to make the choices by ourselves, with no help, often times we will ... they just turn out to be the wrong choice! LOL. Long story short, I think it would help both of ya'll for you to be "in the loop" when it comes to his ADD. And also, remember that treating ADD isn't JUST about treating the person with ADD. The person living with an ADD spouse has to be willing to change things and work around some obstacles, too. And a trusting, supporting relationship should work both ways ... you need to bring him into the loop regarding treatment of your issues, too.

Which brings me to my last point ...

• COMMUNICATION and TEAMWORK. Marriage is a lot of work. I think too many people go into it, assuming "She fell in love with me just the way I am," or "He knows I can be crazy, but he loves me anyway." To me, that's wrong. No matter who you are, there's a tendency to believe that the things we don't like about a potential spouse, will change once the marriage takes place. Or the person will "grow out of it," etc. In my opinion, you should enter a marriage, KNOWING that you will both change. It's only natural. As life happens around us, our reactions to it adapt. Our collection of daily experiences eventually changes our perspective on many different issues. So marriage does take a lot of work, because as your own personality evolves, you must also be willing to accept the gradual — and sometimes sudden — changes that happen in our spouses, too. So, deciding that you can live with this person for the rest of your life, based on who that person is TODAY, is only part of the process. You also need to have a firm understanding of who that person might become in 5-10-20 years from now, based on the experiences that have made them who they are right now. Obviously, no one can predict the future. But just give some thought to the struggles you're both dealing with now, and understand that there will probably never be a time when there isn't some kind of stress on one, or both, of you.

Because of that, you have to know that the two of you work well together as a team. And to do that, you have to communicate with each other. A LOT. I'm not talking about your ability to say things to each other. I'm talking about give/take communication. Effective communication. Successful communication. I can't just tell a blind man that the sky is blue, if he's never seen the color blue before, right? If I want him to understand it, I have to find a different way to describe it. Marriage is the same concept. You can't just say the same thing over and over. If the message isn't getting through, you have to find a new way to communicate it. And vice versa.

In closing ... Life is tough. Marriage is tough. Having ADD is tough, and living with an ADD person is tough. Additionally, having the issues you have is tough ... as is, living with you and those issues. So you're both already starting out with a lot of stress. Neither of you can make this marriage successful on your own. It takes both people, and it takes both people working as team to help and support each other. I thought I understood that concept ten years ago ... but if I did understand it, I certainly didn't follow through on it the way I should've. I'm glad that my wife and I were able to find the strength in ourselves, and in each other, to work through our issues with ADD. Honestly — even after a storybook romance, engagement, marriage and nine years together — ADD nearly tore us apart. We should've taken it more seriously, and much sooner.

I apologize for the long comment. But I truly feel like I've seen, first-hand, the worst and best parts of marriage. Fortunately for us, the best parts have always been worth fighting through the bad stuff. And I know that we would've eventually thrown it all away, if it weren't for the fact that we finally came together with a true understanding of what we both need to do to keep our team together, strong and cohesive. So, maybe this comment is more about marriage in general, than just about ADD. I just think our current society has lost sight of the true value of a committed partnership/marriage ... And I think so many people miss out on their chance for lifelong happiness, because they weren't ready for the hard times. Granted, crazy, weird, and sometimes life-altering things happen ... divorce is never foreseen, yet sometimes it's the best choice for everyone involved. I get that. But if you enter marriage with anything less than a "this is forever" commitment, you'll stumble on so many little potholes.

But if you're both committed to getting past the potholes, you've got a much better chance of finding the smooth, open road that you're both meant to enjoy together.

Good luck with everything.

I have to say that it seems

I have to say that it seems you are putting a lot of work into a relationship with a man that you are not married to yet.  Please think long and hard about this.  If you are in counseling now you will be later too.  If you have kids with him, that stress and life change stresses a marriage, add that one partner has AD/HD and it's worse.  Anger is one of my husband's worst 'symptom"/behavior of his ADD.  Plus this is how his family acted-they yelled.  But, my parents argued all the time too, I was scared to death of my mother-she never hit me but the yelling was scary.  I made a conscious effort to not be like that.  My husband has not.  In the beginning of our relationship he yelled a lot, got angry when not necessary, like your fiance.  At first it bothered my (don't like yelling because of my childhood) then I realized it's not personal.  So I went ahead with the marriage despite that and an addiction to porn and a lot of lies.  I almost called off the wedding even though I had my dress, the hall, etc.  I remember cancelling the date to order bridesmaid dresses because I didn't want them shelling out money for a dress when the wedding might get called off!  But I still went ahead with the wedding.  11 years later we have two kids and his yelling is destroying them, and he doesn't see it.  The kids can't stand him, my daughter is afraid he will hurt my son, which is so weird because he has never physically hurt either one of them.  When they are adults they will want nothing to do with him.  This is not the marriage I wanted and not the father I wanted for my kids.  I feel I made a poor choice marrying him but obviously wouldn't have my kids if I didn't so I can't say I wish I never married him.  But now I am stuck.  I can't leave him because he would get some kind of custody and I can't prove he is an unfit parent. 

Is yelling and uncontrollable anger abuse-yes.  I've looked back over the years and wondered why his anger/forgetting and everything else seems to have gotten worse and it got worse after we got married, then after we had our daughter a year later.  Then after we had our son 5 years later.  I remember when I was pregnant with my son we had a huge blowout fight and I said to him "why did you want another child?  It's just one more person for you to yell at".  Same with the dog,  like, you, he constantly is yelling at the dog.  It's just someone else to yell at. Now I've read a lot of posts on how with the proper medication the anger has stopped or diminished so I think maybe my husband is not on the correct med or dose so I'll have to write him a note to talk to his doctor about that in January and we'll see.  All these life events are stressful, even though they are good things, and change how you interact and change your routines and everything.

This is just my opinion-I'm sure there  lots of stories where people have saved their marriages and have a good relationship again.  But please think about it.  Remember I said my parents fought all the time?  One time I asked my mom why she married my dad when they obviously were not happy.  She said she wanted to call off the wedding but didn't because everything was paid for and all set to go.  And here I am now in the same situation.  It's not good.


Good luck.