Get Your Marriage Out of "He Said - She Said" Today!

Do you, like many other couples, find yourselves arguing over whether or not something happened a certain way in the past?  Whether or not you’ve discussed a specific subject?  Wondering whether your partner was actually THERE when you were talking about something with him or her?  If so, you’ve probably experienced the “he said/she said” argument – the one that goes like this:

“…but we agreed to see a financial adviser!”
"No we didn’t!”
“We talked about it last Tuesday night…”
“We talked about money then, but we didn’t agree to see a financial adviser!”
“Yes we did!”

Here’s another version:

“Why did you move the sugar bowl?”
“I didn’t move the sugar bowl.”
“What do you mean you didn’t move it?  There are only two of us here, and I sure didn’t move it!”
“Well, I didn’t move it, no matter what you think!”
“Geez, you drive me crazy!  Why don’t you just admit this stuff and move on?!”

The Reasons Behind "He Said - She Said"

“He said/she said” is characterized by disagreements over past actions or decisions and are very common in relationships impacted by ADHD for a number of reasons:

  • You experience the world very differently.  Within a discussion, different items stand out to you as being important, and affect how each of you remembers something
  • Your varied histories mean that your underlying assumptions are different.  A non-ADHD partner might associate discussing financial difficulties with the idea “we need an advisor” and assume their spouse does, too, while a non-ADHD partner might associate the same discussion with thinking about difficulty holding a job and not think about financial planning at all.
  • Frustration and anger on the part of either spouse can create a “filter” that distorts their ability to genuinely hear what their partner is talking about
  • Spouses with ADHD can have short-term working memory issues that impede their ability to remember events accurately (and they sometimes “reconstruct” incomplete memories into “new” memories that feel right to them but aren’t completely accurate)
  • Defensiveness and control issues can keep one or both partners on a specific position, even after they realize that their partner has a valid point.  “Hmm, maybe I did move the sugar bowl…but I’m darned if I’m going to admit it now – I’m tired of always being second guessed about trivial things!”

But More Important...

While it’s helpful to understand some of the dynamics underlying “he said/she said” what’s MORE important is what you do about it so you can eliminate it from your relationship.

I would propose that you agree that in most situations it doesn’t matter what happened in the past.  What matters is where you are today and what actions you will take in the future.  Do you want to expend your energy arguing over something in the past that is 100% unchangeable and unmalleable, or do you want to spend your energy making whatever course adjustments and decisions that are appropriate for your current situation and building a better future?

“But,” you might say “does that mean we’ll never really agree to anything because my partner can just remember it any way he or she wants to?”  No.  If you have an important agreement and are having difficulty remembering these types of things, consider writing the agreement down.  That might be as a short paragraph you hang on to for future reference and discussion, or as part of an ongoing “to do” list.  You’ll find working out the wording of the agreement will solidify it for you both, in any event.  (And, I would point out, none of us have perfect might think your version is accurate, but I've been humbled more than once to discover that something I thought was an accurate memory was...well, not!)

As for who moved the sugar bowl, again, I ask “who cares?!”  BUT, if the sugar bowl disagreement is genuinely symbolic of something bigger, such as a non-ADHD partner who constantly criticizes a non-ADHD partner about things that are inconsequential as an expression of frustration, then what you need to be discussing isn’t the sugar bowl, but the critical behavior.  Attack the problem, not the person.  Place your energy behind something that will make a difference for you today and tomorrow, don’t just stay engaged in an ongoing spat.

Try Soothing Instead

“He said/she said” is a destructive pattern because it diminishes your partner by calling into question his or her experience and representation of reality.  Since the event in question is in the past, there is often no way of "winning" the argument (though both partners might try!) nor of really knowing exactly what happened. So, why not take a week or two to notice this when you both fall into "he said - she said", and replace it with validating and soothing behavior.  Some examples?

“I thought we had agreed to see a financial planner, but perhaps we didn’t totally get to that point.  Can we talk about it now?  I continue to be worried.”


“The sugar bowl is in the living room again.  That bothers me because I think it will attract ants.  I’m going to put it in the cupboard and just want to let you know in case you’re looking for it.  Do you mind?”  (Notice the invitation to respond here, to make sure the partner is paying attention…this increases your chance the comment will be remembered.)

At least some marriage research suggests that soothing behavior is a critical skill in keeping things healthy.  And for good reason, when you stop insisting your partner is wrong, you open the door to working together more effectively.


my husband has ADD and I'm very unhappy

When i 1st meet my husband he told me he had ADD but wasn't taking meds for it. when we where dating everything between us was great. My husband is in the U.S Air Force. we have a 5 month baby. lately i havent been happy because im in the house all the time with our son n when my husband comes home he just goes right to the computer or ipod n just ignores me and our son. which makes me not want to have sex with him or do anything for him, he gets super mad n angry n just calls me names that hurts me, and that pushes me away even more, and he gets him more angry. its an up and down thing with him, the only thing that he'll pay mind to is cars, he loves reading about them looking at pictures of different cars etc. it drives me nuts and he know it does so instead of trying to spend time with his family he just takes me shopping and lets me get what i want. i'm truly hating my marriage and want out, if he does get help. i what to know how someone gets ADD. i know that his mother did drugs while pregnant or so i heard. but i really am unhappy and we just started out marriage and family.i love him so much but i honestly do not know how much more i take. thank you

How you get ADHD

Though it's not totally figured out, it seems that ADHD is a chemical issue in the brain - not enough dopamine, among other things.  It is highly heritable, which may mean your husband got it from his mother and that the reason she was doing drugs was that she was "self medicating" or very unhappy in her life, perhaps in part due to her own ADHD (speculation on my part, but one possibility).  ADHD isn't "catching" so you don't "get" it in that way - you inherit it from a parent (most of the time - there are a couple of much less likely scenarios, including head trauma or birth trauma).

Couples VERY frequently run into problems after the birth of their first child - that changes their relationship more than they anticipate it will and perhaps your husband is dealing with this change by "running away" from it and retreating to his computer and cars, which provide endless stimulation for him.  As you've already noted, though, that behavior is very hard on a relationship.

The two of you would likely benefit from the help of a marriage therapist who can help you talk about these issues and craft ways to deal with them.  You might also consider reading my book, as it will give you some ways to think about your relationship and your own role in why you are both having trouble (it's never just one person who is creating the problems - never).

I was confused by your comment that you want out of the marriage, if he does get help.  Does that mean you'll stay in it and miserable if he doesn't get help?  Anyway, I think the best way for you to manage it is to understand that you BOTH have a problem (by definition, since you are married) and that you both need help with this problem.  That will help you husband realize that you aren't blaming him - but also don't wish to continue to live in this particular manner.

Good luck with it.

Do all people with ADD have a parent with it??

My first husband was a total b****d control freak. Like me, he was highly successful in school. I see ADD traits in other family members, and some have been diagnosed with more serious mental-health issues (bi-polar, schizophrenia, etc.) but I never have. My daughter appears to have rampant ADHD along with OCD (must be a difficult combination) and basically destroyed her life as a young person. (No treatment ever; she says she can manage by herself.) She lost custody of her biological son, who has been diagnosed ADHD. Does that mean I do have it, because my ex surely does not. Can someone be a carrier? These people are not biologically related to my current ADD husband.

I've seen figures as high as

I've seen figures as high as 80% Sueann. 80% of people with it have a parent who has/had it. 80% of people with it will have a child with it. I am fairly certain our daughter and his daughter from a previous marriage both have varying degrees. I am not sure how much is normal 12 y/o stuff and how much could be ADHD. She is a lot like my husband in that she sees things in a very different way. EX: she asked me to go get her pants from the dryer one morning. I have 100 things to do in the mornings and she has just herself to get dressed and ready, so of course I told her no. "you're so lazy!!" "I am lazy because I won't go get YOUR jeans for you?" "yes!" and she was dead serious. In her mind, that made me lazy. No regard to everything else I had to do. Things like that worry me. There is just no rationalizing with her or making her see where she was wrong. Me refusing to do something that SHE doesn't want to do does not make ME lazy. She either just didn't get it, or refused to admit she did. She isn't having issues in school or socially so at this point I'm hoping it is just her being a hormonal teenager. LOL

Highly heritable

ADHD does run in families and is highly heritable.  Research suggests that an adult with ADHD has a 50% chance of passing it along to a child...

Research also shows that about 80% of the manifestation of ADHD is inherited - i.e. that for those who have ADHD 80% of it is due to genetic factors, and 20% due to environmental factors, (birth trauma, etc.)  For some perspective, that puts the heritability of ADHD right up there with height and hair color.

So most of the time, a child with ADHD does have at least one biological parent who passed along the genes.

Can't take this anymore

I just found your site today at work -  was planning on telling my husband we were through this evening but will read your site before I do that now.  My life has been one nightmare after another and didn't even know why until two of our three kids were diagnosed with ADD about 15 years ago. It didn't help our situation however because he was dealing with rage issues and a gambling or lottery mentality. He admitted he probably had ADD, but refused to take any meds for it and said he had already developed 'coping mechanisms' for remembering, etc.  He's never been a consistent provider, and has always been self-employed because he said he didn't like having bosses. When money dried up it was always someone else's fault. He was addicted to debt, always borrowing money; because we had three small children I felt cornered and obligated to keep signing the re-fi papers just to survive.

Long story short: we started marriage with no debt 32 years ago and now have amassed almost $900K in mortgage debt which includes about 50K of credit card debt. We're drowning. Three years ago he maxed out all my credit cards because he had 'deals' closing that would pay them off. Never happened.  I work full-time and go to school at night to support us while he still is self-employed and making money in dribs and drabs.  He might make a $5-10K commission, then nothing for the next 6 months. Our kids are grown and out of the house. We can't afford to live here on only my salary and risk losing our home. I am done.  With him it's always future tense - "I just need to..." "I'm planning on..." "I'm going to..." "When this deal closes..."  He doesn't seem to have any learning curve from past mistakes but will continue making the same mistake as though it were the first time. He's a magical thinker.

I didn't want to leave him when the kids were small, but now I'm at the point where I don't care about collateral damage. I'm in constant torment and emotional pain of never knowing what's going to happen to us - along with a boatload of anger and resentment toward him. I'm also very angry with myself for putting up with this and being intimidated and manipulated by his anger in the early years of our marriage (not intimidated anymore), angry at myself for believing him and not putting my foot down and saying "NO!" when he wanted to keep borrowing money. Bill collectors call, people knock on our door - can't take this lifestyle anymore.

The really crazy part is everyone loves him! He's very charming and personable. The people at church think he's great, our kids adore him, our grandchild thinks he walks on water - so I'll be the really, really huge bad guy here if our marriage breaks up. How ironic and twisted is that, but emotionally, I don't care anymore.

situations very similar

Just know that there are others out there with the same issues!!  I read your post and felt like it was my life..I have 3 teens also..(only one we believe is ADD), but I am FED up with my "commission" only husband as well.  Sales is not the job for someone with ADD..there is no focus, no follow through and any issues are always someone elses fault. 

I go through life thinking that I am not living up to his expectations, and honestly, HE is not living up to mine!  Our communication skills suck..and if we try to discuss issues, it ALWAYS ends up in an argument.

I am told it is because his world is "grey" and not black and white like mine...

I am at my wits end and do not want to support this behavior (or lack there of) any more.



ADD and sales jobs

My husband (ADD) has been very successful at sales jobs over the years. These were retail, not full-commission jobs. He is very charming and likeable, and that goes a long way in sales. I've noticed that he lots of acquaintances and no real friends. That seems to be a theme of a lot of the posters on here.

No way I would think he could be self-employed in sales. Not enough discipline to get up every day and talk to strangers if no one is going to be checking up and seeing if he does it, so I agree with you there. But with sales you meet new people all the time and it's very stimulating, so it can work if they have the discipline. How you can get them to be disciplined I haven't figured out. If I ever do, I'll be shocked. 

always turns into an argument


There is so much similarity, I agree, especially about the expectation and arguments. The first 10 years of our marriage I took full responsibility for everything - somehow I wasn't supportive enough, not loving enough, not praying enough for him. The next 10 years I started to wake up slowly, but it's taken me a long time, so I guess I can't fault him for his learning curve when I was so dense about this for so many years!

The same about our arguments - whenever I'd try to bring up the lack of provision issue it always turned into a horrible fight, which neither of us wanted for the sake of the kids. I used to be intimidated and would flinch when he'd say something like, "With you it's always about money. I'm only good for a paycheck!" Now, all these years later I laugh if he starts on that because I tell him how ludicrous that is - OF COURSE it's about money - it's about provision and supplying a stable lifestyle for his family. That's his job! Part of the problem with this disorder (speaking from experience not professionally) is there is a huge amount of defensiveness, deflection and manipulation in arguments. For the major part of our marriage I was sucked into it - "So you're saying I'm stupid!" ["No, I never said that!"] "So you're saying I'm a failure!"...and on and on. I'd get caught up in defending what I wasn't saying and then - voila - the argument was derailed and the issue went on the back burner.

I started studying bullying and manipulative behavior, and wow, it was all there. Not sure if that is simply a defensive mechanism brought on by ADHD or is/was a character issue. It wasn't on the surface when we were dating at all. The good news is the more I learned and stopped being intimidated and victimized the less he would use those tactics. Now if we get into an argument there is no more bullying or manipulation - we still argue but at least it's more adult and measured.  That's good news. The bad news is he still insists on working for himself. Don't think I'll ever win that one.

My heart goes out to you and I understand how frustrating it is.

Do you have practical tips?

Mrs. Catnip,

Do you have any tips for keeping discussions on track?  I'm especially stuck in the "I never said that" cycle.  It's so frustrating, but can't seem to get past it.


Keeping on topic


After learning that it was a form of manipulation to stay off the topic, it ceased being personal. I used to get hurt, offended and angry because the deflections would escalate our arguments; it was the next day or two I'd realize we never got back on the subject. When he tries it now, I immediately address it calmly and tell him to stay on topic by saying something like, "That's a manipulative tactic to get us off the subject. We're talking about _______."  Using the term 'manipulative' is purposeful as I want him to know that I know what he's doing when it happens. It took a while but when he realized I wasn't getting sucked into defending things I never said it lessened quite a bit.

The main thing is to remain calm and unemotional, which is easy in that case. I wish I could say I remain calm and unemotional in the area of money, provision and stability but those are still real hot buttons for me.

Good luck.

I would suggest that you say

I would suggest that you say "can we please stay on the topic we were discussing. If you'd like to discuss _____ later, I don't mind to address that issue, but for now we need to focus on ____" I also helps TREMENDOUSLY to keep all 'heavy' topic discussions to a very minimum amount of time. If someone is hurtful to you then say "it was really hurtful to me when you ____" and then let that be it. You have to give up the need to be 'heard' or 'validated' in the "normal" sense of the word. Keeping conversations short, to the point are a very effective way to stay ON topic and not get steered into other topics. Most issues can be expressed in one or two sentences. If you cannot discuss certain topics without them inevitably going south, then save them for a counselor. For many, many years I wanted to 'discuss' something until he said exactly what I wanted to hear...and I felt for sure that if I just kept discussing it, I would eventually say it in just the right way and he'd magically 'get it'. NEVER HAPPENS. However, when he does something that is hurtful I will say (for example) "It really hurts my feelings that you don't seem interested in what I have to say" or "It really upsets me when you make promises and don't keep them...please try and be more aware of what you're promising and either don't promise things you don't plan on doing or make more of an effort to follow through later even if you don't want to" and just Conversations go south not only because they try and deflect, but there is usually another thing at play..and that is our insistence that they 'hear' us or 'validate' us. They have ears, their brains work and can process words, and you get further by just making a point and letting it go. It avoids them getting on the defensive, it avoids long, drawn out fights, and it makes for an atmosphere that is more conducive to them actually listening to our point.

Thanks Catnip and Sheri

Thanks for the good tips from both of you.  I think they will work with my ADD-husband.  He is a pretty reasonable guy.  :)

I actually have a much, much harder time with my 11-year-old ADD-son.  He likes to pick fights--for the stimulation, I believe.  I must share something funny that happened just 20 minutes ago.  I asked him a simple question and he snarkily replied, "Why do you care?"  (Pre-teen attitude just dripping from his voice.)  I said, "Why do you care if I care?"  That really threw him off-balance.  :)  It took him aback a few seconds and he finally said, "That doesn't even make sense."  I said, "It makes sense to me."  He said, "oh."  No argument erupted.

I must say, I felt great satisfaction in getting this tiny verbal "win."  It feels so much better than banging my head against a wall with frustration. 


I know the dripping pre-teen

I know the dripping pre-teen attitude all too well..I have a 12 y/o daughter who I suspect, at the very least, has a lot of her Daddy's personality if not ADHD itself. She also has enough of me in her that she would not have stopped arguing. She is never happy to 'lose' an argument and getting in the last word is imperative. I beat my head against the wall frequently with her as well...I feel your pain. Not too long ago she asked me, during my already chaotic and busy morning routine to go get her pants out of the dryer for her. I told her no and she accused me of being lazy. She truly felt it made ME lazy not to go get her pants for her...because she was too lazy to do so. I'm praying that a lot of this is just teenaged stuff. Our counselor seems to think it is...and her strong will. But, she can be extremely irrational about things sometimes and it worries me. She does well in school and just seems the most effected relationship is between she and I'm thinking it is more anger than anything...anger because she doesn't have a "normal" she puts it, and blames me. On the other hand, she is a Momma's girl 150% and we have some of the best times together.

not just about money

I saw the figures you posted - I can't even imagine the financial burden you feel right now!

It's not just about the money - it's about STABILITY, and the money is just one important aspect of that.  Gambling behavior, deep debt, inability to know when your next paycheck will hit the account, unreliability around the house, rage at unexpected times - all of these are about STABILITY and RELIABILITY.  We get into relationships, in part, because we think that having someone "have your back" is a good idea.  When that person in fact makes you completely vulnerable instead, that's a bad outcome.  He can bitch about money and whether your expectations are fair, but that's not the whole of it.  Hard to imagine wedding vows that say "I promise to marry you even though you bankrupt me, never help me out, lash out at me unexpectedly, and resent me."  Not quite the same as "in sickness and in health" (that "have your back" idea, again!)

Perhaps a good first step for you would to be have a serious discussion with a financial professional (perhaps a savvy accountant?)  Someone who can evaluate your current financial situation and outline the options for you.  Second, your husband seems to need therapeutic and medical attention to move beyond his ADHD, anger and (perhaps) gambling issues (I can't tell if he has a true gambling issue or is just unable to envision future consequences of his actions - a trait some with ADHD have).  Under there somewhere are also possibly some self-esteem issues and, from your description, a bad case of blaming others for his own issues.  All of these benefit from good medical assistance.

You might also benefit from a book called "Co-Dependent No More" by Melodie Beatty.  It may help you in your own journey through this.

Hope this helps.


Melissa, that's it exactly

When I married my husband I had my own house that I could afford, a job that paid what my alimony didn't, and alimony. Now no alimony, a more expensive house and neither of us having a job, I am going to lose everything I own.

It isn't that I felt I needed him. I carried my life myself. Were there problems? Yes. Could I survive? Yes. But I did want someone to have my back. I wanted someone to share the burdens and joys of life with.

I'm facing the fact that I'm going to have to leave behind everything I own (that won't fit in a hatchback). I'm facing the fact that I will undoubtedly be sued by our landlord when we are gone and everything is left behind. I'm facing the fact that I'm going to be homeless because I married someone with ADD. I can't pack and clean the way it needs to be done and my husband just looks at me like I am speaking Greek.

Yes, I can face all that. But I shouldn't have to.


No.  It sucks.

I am being very careful...

Not to demand anything from him. The more I push him to fill out applications, pick up a copy of his transcript, etc, the less he does.

I wonder if this is really what he wants, to have his mother take care of him instead of providing for a wife, pets and a home. Maybe he just wouldn't tell me the wants to go home to mommy. I actually don't think he will like it after the life I have given him.

I meanwhile know that my needs will be met. No shortage of food, etc. at my daughter's house and it is heated and air conditioned. But the fact that he wants to leave this house destroyed and not clean it worries me. I can't imagine anyone renting to me after the reference we will get from the current landlord after we pull out and leave everything behind. I don't know when I can ever have my own place again.

I keep thinking someone here actually knows how I could inspire him to find a job, or at least do the work to get us properly moved out of our current home. But I am not sure that's possible.

ADD sucks!

Please talk to your landlord

Please talk to your landlord and explain your situation if you are not able to clean and move all the stuff out.  At least the landlord will know who is responsible and maybe it won't affect your reference as much.  Also, he/she may have some suggestions.  Maybe the landlord can rent a "furnished" apartment/house? 

I'm screwing with my landlord enough

He is a private investor, not a company. He lost his job a year or so ago and I haven't heard about him finding a new one. He hasn't resumed the professional management anyway.

We could not tell him we are leaving because he would want to inspect and have the place available to show people. No way that's going to happen. I'm afraid I'm a slob too, and that coupled with the fact that I am married to a totally inert person, it isn't fit to be seen.

We also have 2 cats we never told him about.

On the flip side, we've paid our rent except one time when there was a big problem because husband's check was garnished for taxes and we doubled up the rent when I got my student loan. Only problem is, I've graduated now. So for over 3-1/2 years he's gotten his rent on time every month.

We're going to leave the appliances, whatever else we take. That will allow him to charge more rent to the next tenant. The family members we will be staying with have stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer much nicer than we have.

I doubt if the landlord will be much help to me in the future. I am going about 90 miles away. Hopefully, I'll find a job there (that's where most of the lawyers in the state are), and we can figure out whether he wants to follow me or stay with him mom. It will certainly give me a lot more control.

We already borrowed money from the small church he belongs to. We can't go to that well again. No other church would help, they always refer you back to your own church. Never any help to agnostic me.

I appreciate any and all suggestions. I will certainly look into that medication support program.

leaving stuff behind

I'm having trouble following exactly why you need to leave stuff behind vs. clean up...?  In any event, if you decide you want to get rid of things (give them away) one really good way to do that is to call the local church or charity and have them come do a clear out.  There are almost always organizations nearby who do this -real estate agents can usually tell you who they are - they take everything you ask them to (up to, and including everything you have) and leave your place broom clean.  Another option (more work) would be if you have a Freecycle in your area to post what you wish to give away.  Might keep you from getting sued if you genuinely are worried about this. 

Because he won't do the work

I can barely walk, and the idea of carrying all the furniture out by myself seems ludicrous. He thinks "something will come up" and we won't have to move. I have no idea what he thinks will come up, as we have gone past the make or break point for him to get a paycheck by the time the rent is due. But as far as boxing stuff up, renting a storage unit, putting stuff in it, he's not going to do it, and I can't. We have Freecycle and I love it, and have given a lot of stuff away and expect to give away more. I am sure if I wanted to give away my loom, my couch, etc. that I could get it taken, but I want to keep those things I have invested so much time, effort and money into acquiring.

I also can't clean the way it needs to be done. When I get on the floor to scrub it, it can take him and me an hour or more to get me off the floor. And I can't climb on a stepladder to paint, even if we had a stepladder. I can't even get my husband to change lightbulbs. We just move the few lamps we have from room to room to illuminate the rooms where the lightbulbs have burnt out.

I really thought, by 50, even an ADDer would outgrow magical thinking.

getting out

I'm confused - you won't be able to fit your loom or couch into your car...didn't you say you were going to pack what you could in a car and leave the rest behind?

Anyway, I guess I would return to the idea of getting one of the local charities to clear out everything you don't want.  They come to your house with a truck, take everything (including cleaning supplies, mops, EVERYTHING) and leave it broom clean.  If you have things that you want to store (and if you can afford that) then some local high school kids with a pick up truck can be your muscle and get it there for you, cheap.


I've never heard of charities that would do that

That's cool. I called Goodwill when I got evicted because of my then-teenager's ADD antics and they wouldn't even take my china closet. They only take in stuff you bring them. I haven't tried any other charities.

 The loom will fit in my car (smaller loom I got cheap at a yard sale, then I sold my big one) but not much else would if it was in there. What I want to do (absent him finding a job) is put stuff in storage. If I have to move in with my daughter, I want to be able to get out when I find a job and not have to also save up money for a new bed, couch, computer, tv, etc.

It is just infuriating to watch him play cards on the computer and not even try. Apparently, I am not not the only one in this situation. There has been a lot of very interesting chatter about non-working, non-trying ADD spouses recently. Our situation is just worse because I haven't been able to find a job since I graduated. I can't find anyone who will take a chance on a 57-year old beginner who can barely walk.

Do any of you computer types (calling yyz!) know how to take solitaire off a computer?



Something happened today that I don't understand...

We brought a stove into the house (haven't had a working stove in over a year--and I love to bake!). He wanted to bring it in one way and I told him to turn it around. He refused, told me to move a pile of stuff and I said it would take a couple of hours. He turned all the bags and boxes out and threw all my stuff on the floor so he could open the door wider, while I was crying and begging and pleading with him not to do that. Then he couldn't get the stove into the house anyway, until he turned it around like I had told him to. He doesn't get why I am upset that he made a mess that I can't clean up because I can't get down on the floor. I just sat and sobbed. He doesn't see this as disrespectful. I don't even want to be in the same house with him.

Is this ADD behavior or is my husband just being a jerk?

I think I understand...

Sorry... but from what I just read, ADD or not, that is being a jerk. I hope he feels really bad about this and tries to apologize and do something nice for you!

Hang in there...



Yeah, there reaches a point

Yeah, there reaches a point in a relationship when to the other you don't have any good advice, anything worthy of consideration and nothing but biased opinions, ADHD or not. I agree--this is just jerkism, though it does take a hard road to arrive at such a dark place. I'm sorry you guys are "there."

We really are "there"

It's 1 am, I can't bring myself to go to bed with him and we only have the one bed. How in the world do you manage to stay married to someone who doesn't care what's best for you? Who creates extra work for you and then criticizes you for not doing it? I don't think he understands how this one incident of disrespect just exemplifies in a very clear way all that is wrong with my marriage.

Jerk meter is high

Call it being a jerk, being dense, being inconsiderate...ADHD is not an excuse to continue to be rude, thoughtless and uncaring.  It's one thing if your partner is identifying issues and working to resolve them, trying (and sometimes failing) to address your needs.  It's another if he prefers to remain in a state of deep denial...

He did this once before...

when I was in bed after having surgery. He insisting he had to combine 2 boxes of videotapes even though I told him I didn't want him to. (One box didn't play and the other did, so it made no sense to me to combine them. I just wanted to make sure none of the old ones played before I threw them out.) I remember crying and begging and he just ignored me. Is the desire to get rid of the spouse's stuff an ADD thing? God knows he has enough "collections" of his own.

He is so out of touch with reality that he denies what happened. I am scared, especially since we have to move, and I don't know what to do.

Sleeping too much?

We are still living together but the situation is deteriorating. His mother told us yesterday that she is buying a 2-family house with his brother and selling his childhood home. I believe my husband would rather be a homeless guy with a shopping cart than live under his brother's roof.  He said he wasn't planning to live with his mother anyway. I said how do you expect to find a place to live on $239 a week in unemployment? He said there are places.  He is refusing to face reality. I am worried about our dog. He can't come with me, he would eat my daughter's dogs. (not really but I don't think it would be comfortable for the little dogs.) I can't understand the magical thinking. How is "everything going to be all right" if he puts forth no effort to make it so?

He's sleeping a lot, too. I am up for hours trying to get stuff done before he ever gets up. It is very hurtful that he sleeps while I'm working, and he's the one who got fired. I think he's trying to escape. For ADDers, it seems like whatever feels good at that second is what they will do, and sleeping has to feel better than scrubbing the floor or whatever.

The other problem is that he prefers playing cards to doing any work. If I get off the computer, he gets on and I hear the card game going-no resumes, no submissions for jobs, just games. Again, it must feel better at that moment (what's in the paper towel roll, to use Melissa's analogy). How do I make him want to look for a job?

Frankly, I'm scared. I can't do all this alone. Maybe I should be able to. Maybe someone can invent a time machine and I can go back in time and avoid getting my leg crushed by a car, and then I'll be able to do all the work for 2 people by myself.


Your post did help, thank you. It's hard to understand a man's mindset that would be ok with inconsistent provision, living off his wife's income, having creditors calling all the time, and most especially making his family VULNERABLE.  Never thought of it that way and you're exactly right. One thing I've never felt is that I could rely on him. Or if he did come through it was agonizingly at the last minute with no time to spare in the situation, creating high anxiety and depression.

Thank you for your advice about getting financial guidance and medical help. Told him yesterday that it's imperative we do that and will make sure the appointments are made today. Also ordered "Co-dependent No More: Beyond Co-dependency". One of the things I beat myself up over is why I stayed as long as I did - asked for a divorce twice during our marriage and both times things got much better. One counselor put us on a contract where he would abide by simple things like paying bills on time, and he actually did it for several years. I remember thinking we're good, this is the way life is supposed to be - but then came the very slow financial slide back down, only so much worse than before.

Your website is very helpful,

Mrs. C

I feel the same way!

I just found this site, after yet another special day (Father's Day today) turned into a crying, arguing mess.  I read your comment and felt as if it was my own.  I, too am so fed up after 14 yrs of marriage to someone who seemed so together, and yet apparently knew he was facing issues all along.  His father (my father in law) has only recently been exposed as someone in need of major mental health intervention, and they are so similar.  I feel betrayed. 

My husband has not worked in 2 yrs.  College-educated, and very social and likeable by all accounts, but yet no one knows the hell I live through at home, along with our four young sons.  My added issue to your comments that are so like my story is this: I am a strict Catholic, and am deeply troubled by the thought of ending my marriage because of this, too.  I feel I have lost my perspective, and sometimes cannot figure out what is "normal" and "acceptable" behavior.


Also, I feel his inability to cope is selective, and he never freaks out at his buddies, or even his bio family, which is why they have turned on me (the family).  Talk about insult to injury.  I am feeling  very down and alone, and am glad to hear similar stories, even though I wish none of us had this problem!

Managing through the private hell


My heart goes out to you and I'm sorry you had such a difficult Father's Day celebration, but please know you're not alone. Your sense of betrayal is shared and understood. I just recently found this site as well, and when I read Melissa's posts about the feelings of the non-ADHD spouse it validated what I'd been experiencing for the last 30+ years - I had always thought it was just my own private nightmare.

The comment you made about no one knowing the hell you live through at home struck a deep chord. Have you spoken with your priest about this? He might be a strong spiritual ally for you.

It's difficult when you're in the heat of the battle to have a clear perspective or know what's normal. In hindsight I muddled through for years not knowing what was normal, but just knowing something was terribly wrong. When you're in survival mode mentally, spiritually and emotionally - like treading water day after day after day barely keeping your nose out of the water - it's pretty hard to think clearly, especially when you're also caring for children.

I'm glad you found this site, too, boymaker - it's made a big difference for me just knowing we're not alone.


Have you contacted your local church? Ask if they have anyone who can help you pack, etc. Or donate what you dont want and ask them to take it? I know this has to be a horribly tough time for you, I am truly sorry and will pray it works out for you. If nothing else, I can hear two things (I think)- 1) you are a strong minded capable woman; 2) you love your husband even as he drives you crazy and acts so seemingly infuriating. Btw, did you see the other posting the other day regarding how pharmaceutical companies often have a drug "gifting" program for individuals in economic crisis? I've heard that too, so you might want to check it out... Other places to ask for help (dont know where you are..): vfws, temples, call ChADD?! Wracking my brain to think of any other possible solutions... In meantime stay strong. Sending cyber support to you too Sueann!

Letting go of the need to feel validated

I too find myself needing to feel heard and validated, and so find myself often repeating things over an over until my wife "loses it" and finally responds with something like "OK!! I HEARD YOU!"  And I find myself thinking, "well, I wish you had said so, and I would have stopped harping at you."  I would love to do what you recommend and just say what I need to say, assume she hears me, and then move on.  Thing is, though, she often DOESN'T hear me.  I find myself often saying things to her like "Were you not listening to me yesterday when I told you such and such?"  So mu question is, how do I actually come to believe she did hear me when she doesn't give any sort of reply?

Hey, long time since you've been on here

I hope things are better for you, but it sounds a little like you, like me, are stuck. I think there's a book about that called something like "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay."

If you need her to hear you, can you find a time when she isn't watching TV or on the computer? Make sure there is eye contact.

But if you need her to really HEAR you, understand what you are saying, I'm beginning to think that will never happen with an ADDer. Very frustrating.