Gave Up

I am the non-ADHD spouse that recently gave up on my husband, who has diagnosed Adult ADHD and will not attend treatment or take medication.  His condition has not helped my own anxiety. He often creates very uncomfortable situation for me in which I am on verge of increased anger on my end, frustration, emotional isolation, you name it.

We have been on and off seperated for 8 months. My husband had a difficult time keeping jobs, negotiating with his ex-wife on their daughter, he was lazy- would DO NOTHING around the house unless I "asked him to".  Is it normal for me to experience anger and to have taken that out on him. He calls me verbally abusive but in fact I was very angry with him most of the time for not providing for family, being lazy, alcohol addictions and expecting me to take care of his daughter (my step-daughter).

The right to pursuit of happiness

God does not want people to be chained to someone who makes them miserable. An alcoholic will not change until he hits bottom by himself. You don't want to enable him to keep doing/not doing what he is doing/not doing and dragging you down with him.  Let his innocent daughter see you as a model of strength and love.  I know it is not easy.  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.  His words are just words.  If you are trying to communicate, you need to be able to say what you need to say.  He can say what he needs to say.  It is called saying what you need and want.  I, in the past, had been too silent when it came to stating my needs because DH would tell me I "said it wrong", was unloving, a bitch, worse....he fought dirty with words while I did not, yet he would tell me HOW to speak to him.  NOW I realize that by curbing my anger, by "letting" him have his ego at the expense of my sanity was detrimental to not only my well-being but to the family (children) and to the dynamics of our relationship.  How do you hold your own when someone else is not afraid to hit below the belt verbally?  Especially if you are a sensitive person who was taught manners and fairness?  Without becoming someone you don't want to become - a dirty fighter yourself?  That is a good question.  Anyone?

Pathology with ADHD

Jenn - if you think you can take it, read, "Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths, & Narcissists," by Sandra Brown. It will tell you what is going on when bright, capable, caring women hook up with men with severe personality disorders -- why they do it and what the man is actually feeling/doing. It is shocking, but makes sense out of the crazy behavior some of us have lived with.

This is not for the normal ADHD problems in a relationship. But I've said before that I think some of these more severe cases of men who are hateful, abusive, uncommunicative, and noncooperative are more than just ADHD. And the statistics are on my side!

The answer to your last question? You cannot hold your own with a person who doesn't play fair. It's totally impossible.



This is eerie.  I WILL get that book and read it.  When I looked up the definition of psychopath in Google, it revealed new studies that re-define what we used to think of as evil and physically dangerous people to now be seen sometimes as an informational processing deficit to some degree.  Here is a quote:  "Newman ..... believes that psychopathy is essentially a type of learning disability or “informational processing deficit” that makes individuals oblivious to the implications of their actions when focused on tasks that promise instant reward. Being focused on a short-term goal, Newman suggests, makes psychopathic individuals incapable of detecting surrounding cues such as another person’s discomfort or fear." Too many times DH has been clueless of the hurt he causes.  Thanks Lynnie.


Wow, jennalemon, I wish you and I could sit down and have that proverbial cup of coffee some time. This is indeed eerie, and as I joined and read posts on this site, I realized that there was something deeper going on with my estranged spouse than just ADHD. I really think that I have post-traumatic stress from my decade with him. I became so shut down. He seemed to be so oblivious to my feelings, and so capable of "fighting dirty" as you call it--and I also am sensitive and was raised to be fair and have good manners. I was never able to understand how someone who said he loved me could call me horrible names or tell me, because he was angry, that I was a terrible mother or the like--and then later, when I tried to talk to him about it, somehow was able to twist it all around so that it was actually me doing something wrong and he was the poor, put-upon victim. I also read the "gas-lighting" post from earlier and it just describes my relationship, unfortunately. Just yesterday, we were trying to come to some agreement on how to divide our finances as we separate. So excruciating. And my SO became angry, raised his voice, called me names, accused me of being selfish and only caring about myself (when I truly, honestly, believe the opposite was going on--I am a fair person!) And then this morning, when I got up, I was greeted with, "You have got to stop being so mean to me and mad at me." As if the roles had been reversed. It is chilling to me--I really think he believes this to be true. I have been tempted over the years to video tape him and then show him later, but I don't think it would do any good. 

Only time will tell how much damage I allowed it to do to me, really. I can't believe I lived like this and put up with it for this long. And wow, the worst lay in store for me when I finally told him that I couldn't take any more, and that if he didn't go to a psychiatrist, I would have no choice but to leave and take our children. He of course said that it was me with the problems and we are almost finished separating. The answer to your question is that you absolutely cannot hold you own in this situation. 

jenna, you seem like such a good person. I am so sorry for your difficulties and unhappiness. It is not too late! Hang in there and focus on yourself. Do what makes you happy. You deserve it. I let go of trying to get him to understand, and when I told a therapist and a few loved ones what was going on, it just sounded so ludicrous. I can't believe how relieved I feel at the prospect of not living with my SO any more. Counting the days. 


"I really think that I have post-traumatic stress from my decade with him."

wow, you just summed up how I feel and I never thought of it that way before. Recently i have realized that the almost 2 decades of living with an ADHD family has made me a bitter, resentful, unhappy person. I have thought of ending my life..not in any serious way just passing thoughts, like if i drove my car into a tree my pain would be over type can I let my H make me feel this way ? I am not naturally a depressed person but i am thinking of starting an anti-depressant just so I an cope living with my ADHD spouse and ADHD children. I LOVE my children dearly but the stress of it all, caring for them, with no help from H is killing me.

I was reading the forum about saying something nice about your ADHD spouse and some of the things made me H does not play with his children, is not caring, helpful, etc...all those things that people posted about their spouse..  I really think this is not ADHD its something more, i need to pick up that book mention on this post.  I live with 4 ADHD people, they all have the typical executive functing issue, can't organize two pieces of paper if they needed to, are completely forgetful, leave a mess everywhere they go and don't pick up their mess..all the classic stuff. But 2 of the 4 are more than ADHD - can't ever see the consequences of their actions, everything is someone elses fault, they are self-centered, lie, love to start arguments, always have an underlying anger about them, are so very difficult to live with. unfortunately one of these two is my husband who takes his ADHD so inconsistently its up and down every day.  The other 2 while have ADHD are also empathetic, caring, wonderful, funny, happy, compassionate, would give the shirt off their back kind of people, who without these two my life would be total misery.

While ADHD is a very frustrating thing to live with being either the person who has it, or the person who just lives next to it...its the OTHER stuff that make living with that person unbearable.  All the helpful suggestions I have read on how to get the ADHD spouse to do what you need...just don't seem to work...

ADHD or Something Else?

"Key Symptoms of Psychopathy

  • Interpersonal/Emotional: Glib and superficial; Egocentric and grandiose;  Lack of remorse or guilt; Lack of empathy; Deceitful and manipulative; Shallow emotions
  • Social Deviance: Impulsive; Poor behavior controls; Need for excitement; Lack of responsibility; Early behavior problems;  Adult antisocial behavior

Glib and Superficial--Psychopaths are often voluble and verbally facile. They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a clever comeback, and are able to tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming. One of my raters described an interview she did with a prisoner: “I sat down and took out my clipboard,” she said, “and the first thing this guy told me was what beautiful eyes I had. He managed to work quite a few compliments on my appearance into the interview, so by the time I wrapped things up, I was feeling unusually… well, pretty. I’m a wary person, especially on the job, and can usually spot a phony. When I got back outside, I couldn’t believe I’d fallen for a line like that.” ".....

Continued at: from Robert D. Hare, PhD in Psychology Today 2007