On Guilt, Divorce, and Perceived Helplessness

Here's a brief rundown: My wife has ADD. She is forgetful to the extreme, always looking for keys, always late for things, defensive when given the slightest bit of criticism. Over the years, she has been asked to do the same things over and over again, and she seems to be unable to learn.

In July of 2010, I sat her down and said, "We're in trouble." I listed all the ADD things that, at the time, I didn't know were ADD things. I thought she was just purposefully blowing me off and disregarding things, or I thought she was just stupid. In any event, my opinion of her really fell below the level it should be for a marriage. I want to love her. I don't want to bear a burden. And I felt I was bearing a big, heavy, forgetful, absentminded, unable-to-learn-anything burden.

In September 2010, we started couples therapy. She was diagnosed ADD ("Seven out of ten on the severity scale" was that therapist's guess). The therapist recommended either medication or talk therapy. I said I'd be willing to support either or both. My wife chose neither. In fact, she chose to stop marriage counseling, too, because she was starting a new job, and didn't want to irritate her new employer with a slight change in her schedule. ("Slight" here is defined as, showing up an hour later than usual on Mondays and working an hour later--something that would have been acceptable.)

So she does not treat her ADD. And five months later, her employer calls her into the office and says she's going to be fired if she doesn't shape up. She doesn't shape up. How can she? She has ADD. She can't remember small details, and the job was all about small details. She quits to avoid being fired.

Five months of unemployment. No unemployment checks. Five months of her saying to me, "Why do YOU get to have a nice job and I don't?" Five months of me saying, "You need to apply to minimum wage jobs so that you have some income so that your savings don't run out." She does not apply to enough jobs, or the right job, and five months later, she's nearly broke. Emotionally I am drained.

Now, she has a new job. And today, she overheard her employer say they were about to fire her and look for her replacement.

I'm sick of this. I have read Melissa's book. I've read John Gottman's seven principles. I even read some other ADD book. We went to a second counselor while she was unemployed and she couldn't offer anything that we haven't tried. Nothing seems to work.

And yet, I'm unable to steel myself long enough to say, it's over. She cries. She says she hates life and that she doesn't want to be on this earth anymore. And for all my dissatisfaction with the marriage, I can't seem to shake my sense of obligation to her. She "loves" me. She's just incapable of doing so much that I want from a spouse: noticing messes and necessary home improvements; shopping frugally; respecting my space; accepting, remembering, putting into practice the criticism I (now very gently) give her; etc, etc.

It's like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jeckyl loves me and wants to do everything possible to make me happy. Mr. Hyde wants none of that, ruins her best intentions. Do I divorce Mr. Hyde in spite of Dr. Jeckyl? Is anyone else going through this, too?

What you said really struck a

What you said really struck a chord with me. I'm afraid I don't have any advice or suggestions, since it seems like we're sailing the same seas. :P 

I'm not married, but am living with my boyfriend, who I LOVE. He has severe adhd but beyond taking meds sporadically he is not doing anything else to take care of himself. He has a job which is total chaos. Living with him is a roller coaster and no matter how I have said, begged, written down, suggested, etc...to PLEASE get more help for his adhd, he won't do it. I've literally dreamed I was beating my head against a wall, that's what this situation feels like. He makes many wonderful promises, but I don't see how those promises can happen without more management of his adhd. 

 In this case he is the jeckle n' hyde as his moods and sanity swing back and forth from day to day and hour to hour. I can't imagine being without my lovely guy, at the same time I can't stand this roller coaster. It is a special kind of hell and I totally empathize with your plight! 

 " Take care of you" is the best I've heard and can come up with. Also sending you gratitude since posts like yours make me realize I'm not alone!

 Blessings and support,

rara avis

I'm not a 7 of 10...

But you *ought* to be able to say "You need help; we can do it together, or you can do it alone."  It's not hard to do, really - and yes, I'm sure I have ADHD.  _really_ I am.  But even just recognizing the problem isn't enough.  Luckily, there are doctors, counselors, medicines, and books like Melissa's.  But you should have a willing partner in mitigating the issues of ADHD.  Has she seen this forum?  It seems to help a lot of people who are just discovering the depth and scope of their issues.  It was critical for me.

I hope she sees that not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive spouse, too.

good luck

It's tricky

My husband has ADD and I'm also angry all the time. I resent being a mother when I want a partner. The difference is that he takes his meds, is very willing to get help and is completely aware of all the heartbreak this causes me. We go to counseling and he articulates extremely well exactly what I'm feeling and how the implications of his ADD are affecting our family. My point is this: despite his efforts, nothing changes. not. one. thing.  I'm pretty sure from your comments that your wife wouldn't either. You have to consider that, too. You could invest more time and energy into something that is just not going to give you what you need or want to make you happy. I wish I could walk away but I just can't do it to our young son.  It's my own baggage, having grown up with divorced parents but still, I can't do it. All in all, he is a good dad and he is not abusive. Good luck, Friend. Please keep me posted. I admire the folks who make it through, whatever course they take.


HI Dbcarrots,

Yes, I get what you're saying. I should clarify now that my wife is now taking medication. She started taking it right after she lost the first job back in March. But it didn't help. Like your husband, she has a good understanding of what her ADD does to me. But it was only when I actually sat her down and handed her divorce papers for her to consider filling out with me did she actually feel compelled to do some of the easy things that I had asked her to do (clean up after herself, etc.).

And now I'm thinking: I begged and pleaded and dragged you to counselors for 13 months so that you can start acting like a partner and be a little bit helpful and NOW you're being helpful? Fuck this!

I am fortunate that I don't have children. I want out. I worry that once I've left her, I will miss the friendship, and beat myself up for not sticking around. I sincerely hope that won't be the case, because right now I'm inclined to divorce in haste, repent at leisure.

You should feel free to keep me posted, too.


On Separation

I want a separation. I have told her I want it. Logistically it is difficult because she has no money to move out. I have the money, but I don't want to, although I may just buckle down and do it. Now that she has no job, she is sort of trapped here, although I think her parents would help her if pushed to it.

I would have to wait until the end of October, beginning of November to get a separation with her moving out, and the time between now and then would be torture. I'd come home, see her moping around the house, feel guilty, feel compelled to make her happy. I'd take back my words and say, "no, it's okay, stay." And then I'd live my own private hell while she felt happy she didn't have to leave.

As bad as it has been, something about the image of her packing up her stuff and leaving is heart-wrenching. So many dreams--gone. And it's hard to remember in those sad moments why such a thing is happening. And the "why" is: day to day living is a chore, and day to day living is what makes a life. I will miss parts of her--our great conversations, her sense of humor. (Sex is not something I will miss. Lousy sex. No passion at all, never has been.) I think I will miss her a lot and perhaps the reason I've hung on for so long is because I feel like I'll miss her too much and regret it.

I've told her MANY times that I don't love her. She says "I love you" and I don't even respond. She asks for hugs and I give them but only because saying "NO!" will cause hurt and arguments. Why she wants to stay with someone who openly admits (and has been admitting for oh 14 months now) to not loving her is a mystery to me!

On Separation cont'd

Wow, you deserve so much more out of life, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks so. My husband can't afford it either, although he works full-time and he's 50 yrs old. For me, too, it would have to be a swift action of him moving out (it's not going to be me), and I would definitely not be around for the packing. It would rip my heart out for the same reasons. I hesitate, too, because I fear it would be break our son's heart. I would miss him -- I love my husband and like him very much as a person -- we have a lot in common and we actually do have great sex. But we don't have it now because it's got to be a holistic experience, not just physical. Your "why" is my "why" as well. The sheer effort of making this work is exhausting and it's not working. She probably stays with you because she's in denial about you not loving her and she gets mixed messages -- hugs, occasional sex, the fact that you are staying... just guessing. It's mind-boggling to be so unhappy on a day-to-day basis yet not be able to improve it or make a change. Really out of character for me. I also cannot even entertain an affair which my friend has suggested might be the push I need to end it. That's not my style either.  Since you don't have kids, you might be doing her a favor of ending it. She'll find someone who loves and lusts her and maybe it will force her to deal with her ADD. Then again, what do I know?

ADD woman here...

Wow, LP...  I'm sorry you're going through this and I know what it's like from the other side:  the paralysis, the terror, the low self esteem.  The only time in my life I ever considered suicide was when I realized that the disorder I have would NEVER go away.  I knew something was wrong all my life, but hoped that will power would someday get me 'over' it.  No, i'm not crippled by an accident, I don't have MS - but I am fundamentally and profoundly broken and I battle it every day.  It's not just about forgetting stuff and losing my keys.  It's the inability to feel normal in social situations and the panic that sets in when I feel awkward and don't know the right thing to do or say.  (and of course being totally f*cked when I lose my keys and forget stuff).  So I take Adderall, and it helps, but I'm forever living in the shadow of my past f*ckups and I know my husband will always have those scars.

Now, young man I'm 41.  I have a bit of perspective.  If you're 27, i'm guessing your wife is around that age too.  Although I never left a pad on the floor (!!!), I was a slob when I was 27.  Actually both my husband and I were messy.  But he says now that he just 'gave up' because I was so hopeless.

You are not doing her any favors by staying.  I think you should try a separation.  Don't be around for the packing, if you can't handle it.  Yes it'll suck for her.  Yes, she may have to ask her parents for money.  The only thing that got me to a doctor (my husband didn't know anything about ADHD, he just thought I was stupid and selfish) was the realization that he'd pretty much given up on me.  I know he'd never leave because we have 2 small children, but I could feel he no longer loved me.  so.. I guess I could say I'd like to thank my husband for his total lack of emotional support during the most stressful time in our lives (moving to insanely expensive city for his job) because it forced me to take the action I'd wanted to take for years.

You are both young.  She needs to get help and get her head together and give a shit about herself.  My seemingly careless, selfish and absent minded behaviors made my husband retreat and the emotional neglect made me smaller and smaller and smaller in my self image until finally something had to give. I can't imagine what it would be like to live with someone who openly told me he did not love me.  Your wife must be a millimeter tall in her mind. I had to force myself to recognize that I AM capable of taking care of what needs to be done, even if it scares the crap out of me.  We figured out that financially, if we got divorced, the only solution would be for him to hire me as a (very underpaid) nanny.  Which is what I was for 6-7 months basically.

I've been busting my ass and taking speed everyday for 9 months and things have gotten better.  A lot better.  But there's still a fight ahead.   There will ALWAYS be a fight.  but i'm hoping i can make that invisible to my husband eventually.

Now, you and Sueann stop that fighing:  you're BOTH pretty!

Losing patience: Wow just

Losing patience: Wow just read this, and does this hurt! We may both be the nonadhd partners but we digress on one huge point. Your wife says she loves you because she does. She may have been culpable in all of this misery but it has a reason- be forgiving. She wants hugs because she wants affirmation that you are still in the relationship and is terribly distressed because it is quite heartless what you are saying to her. Stop. Please. Saying "i dont love you" and still being here is horribly cruel. If you are there, please work on the relationship instead of merely providing "lip service". Give her hugs if you mean it because she needs them desperately... And dont go out of your way to be cruel. You made a promise way back and to act this way, even if you feel "done" is wrong. Work out the anger please and find the balance. I can tell you I have been living similar heartache hearing the words you are saying to your wife.. They are traumatic. Stop. Please.

Your post confused me in so

Your post confused me in so many ways that I'm not sure where to begin.

Where exactly do we digress? I'm not sure you said exactly how, but I think you were saying something along the lines of forgiveness, and how I ought to forgive. In the past several months, my wife has made significant changes. I can forgive her, sure, but that doesn't mean I actually enjoy living with this. I don't enjoy it. I'm twenty-seven years old and I want to enjoy my life, and if I'm not enjoying it with her because we don't match, then I have every right to leave. In fact, I have an obligation to myself to leave.

To your statement: "You made a promise way back and to act this way, even if you feel 'done' is wrong." I'm not sure you understand how guilt is really hampering me. I have an obligation to be honest to my wife and the truth is that I do not love her. Telling her this is not cruel. The "promise" stuff is bullshit. I'm not happy, and I should leave, but the fear of hurting her (and of making a mistake) is real and legitimate.

In your post, all I see are judgments. I'm "wrong" and "cruel." Browse this forum a bit. I'm not the only "cruel" one, I guess. I don't really feel like you saw my efforts to put this relationship back together. Please see my initial post. I tried like hell. What remains now is my guilt over wanting to leave.

I'm sorry you've heard the words I told my wife. But guess what? You are piling on the guilt, which makes it really hard for me to leave, even when I should (since I can't fake love). So hey, before you post on message boards, why not see a therapist first? I mean, instead of projecting your own situation onto mine. Might help.

MagicSandwich's picture

major theme

Hi LP,

You've picked up on the major theme of this message board - denial. 

For the simple fact alone

For the simple fact alone that she is your wife, telling her you do not love her IS cruel. Staying married to her if you're convinced you do not love her, IS cruel. You speak of "obligation" a lot, what about having enough guts to admit that you stay for reasons other than just guilt? Or, if you are staying simply out of guilt then you're selfish and CRUEL.  I think all lulu was trying to say was that NO ONE deserves to be told "I don't love you" by their HUSBAND and NO ONE deserves to be married to someone who only stays out of 'guilt'. Although, to be honest, 99% of the time people list 'reasons' for staying, while proclaiming they don't love the person, they are not the real reasons. Most people stay for some selfish motivation. Are you just too cowardly to leave? Using guilt as an excuse? Would rather pulverize her with "I don't love you's" justifying it in your own mind by saying "I have an obligation to be honest". No, you have an obligation to leave if you don't love her...not stick around and abuse her with your words. Huge difference. Can you not see how staying out of "guilt", if that is at all even close to the truth, is extremely selfish? Do you really think you're doing her any favors? And, why be so cruel in the meantime? Maybe you DO love her, maybe you're using your words to try and 'shock' her into being something she isn't capable of being. Maybe you're using them to manipulate the situation in the hopes that she'll get it together and be what you want her to be. Just a few things to consider. Careful what you wish for...

I had all of that "I love you but I'm not in love with you" shit spewed at me too...I would rather he have walked out the door and not said a word. (he is ADHD, I am not). Damage done. Permanent. How about saying nothing at all...instead of "I don't love you". There is NO purpose for it other than to hurt. None. Period. You have to know this, as a rational, sane (I assume) human being. You have a reason for saying it...and would bet "becasue it is true" is not the reason. 

You seem to believe that I'm

You seem to believe that I'm walking around all day shouting "I don't love you."

Having the courage to leave is not simple, and you jerks have no respect for that. Zero respect for the fear involved in making a major life change. Zero respect for the idea that someone I care about will be crushed by MY decision--guilt is there, big time. This is not a black-and-white situation, as much as you'd like to paint it that way.

Great suggestion, Sherri. How about every time she says, "I love you," I just meet her with stony silence. Great idea! I'll just swallow my unhappiness and she'll be none the wiser.

The fact that my wife is and has been my friend for nine years really makes it difficult to just say, okay, bye! I ought to add that for the past two months I've been having conversations about divorce with her, and she has set up numerous barriers to even get the ball rolling, simply because she doesn't want it.

She's not beating me. She's not cheating on me. I don't have the moral imperative to leave, except that I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HAPPY AND I'M NOT! And I'd walk right out the door if I didn't have some compassion for her.

And Sherri--telling her the truth is NOT cruel. Maybe you like being lied to, but my wife doesn't. So go spread your black-white thinking on someone else's post. (Are you the most frequent user of this site? Seems like it. Gotta put those judgmental feelings somewhere, right?)




Re: losingpatience

I've read this thread that is quickly spinning out of sorts.  I think some if it can be contributed to the limitations of electronic communications.  I think everyone should remember (including those opposed to you at the moment) that we only are seeing glimpse of a much larger, longer experience.  We don't know what efforts you take daily and only know what you have described.  I have no judgment because I don't really know what you have sacrificed for your marriage.  I haven't walked in your shoes.

I do have a few questions:

1) What motivated you to do all of the research?  You have read a lot of quality material its refreshing to me (I have ADHD) that you put time and effort into understanding us and understanding love.  Just curious as to your motivation behind it.

2) A lot have speculated as to how your wife feels about you, i'd rather ask; how does your wife feel about your marriage?

3) At the end of the day if you could go to sleep and wake up to a different reality what would it look like?  What environment would you be happy to be in?

Again no judgment I can relate to your thoughts it reminds me of a past girlfriend.  It's ironic but in hindsight she was my first love and she loved me fiercly; more than anyone else has before in my life.  We were deep in love but just couldn't make the day to day work (didn't know it then but it was my ADHD symptoms causing the issues).  She never stopped loving me but I felt like I was fighting a losing battle everyday because I could see the pain I caused her.  I wasn't abusive but my "distraction" was interpreted as "disinterest" and to her it felt like I didn't love her.  It would confuse her she would in one minute feel like the most important person and the next feel like I was never there.  I could see that pain and what it cost her, but I still love her today.  I couldn't at that point figure out my issues I tried everything I knew at that point in time.  After years of not being able to figure it out I didn't cut ties.  I didn't think I was making a selfish decision because I still loved her but I knew a year before we actually separated it wouldn't work.  I told myself I was staying out of hope, out of love and out of guilt but the deep deep down truth is I didn't want to face the reality of hurting her.  What I didn't realize until the last few months before we separated is I had hurt her more by staying and giving false hope.  I hadn't told her these things as I realized them (many of them I didn't realize for years after) but when I had thoughts of "this isn't working or can't work" I should have been a man.   I should have faced my fears and trusted her to receive the information.  I should have given her the same right I gave myself; time to process reality and work through the pain.  I could have married her had I been up front and we actually figured things out.  Who knows what she would have done different had I been open and there was two brains instead of one working through it from the same perspective.  I am not proud of that last year and I can't emphasize this enough I DID NOT know all of this at the time.  I didn't realize what I was doing I really thought I was doing my best not to hurt her.  It was selfish, it was cold and it killed a small part of her heart.  Many years later and I realized all of this I had a chance to apologize to her and I did.  I talked to her about what I realized about ADHD and the source of many of our original issues but more than anything I apologized.  Funny thing is she still loved me and I her we still cared and we cried over the regrets of ill action and ignorance.  Mostly though we cried for the missed opportunity of knowing a true love and losing it because of my fear of facing reality, my lack of trust and my lack of understanding ADHD.

I shared all of that because I think that is your circumstance again I have no clue what shoes you are walking in.  I just want to share an experience that I had and your thread reminded me of.

We all come for support here and I hope I can return the favor many other here have given me.

Be Happy LosingPatience

I am you, with the added complications of twenty additional years of built up frustration and college-age kids who are two additional people I don't want to hurt.   I sympathize completely with your situation. 

 You have a right to be happy and have your needs met and it appears that you have concluded that this is very unlikely in your current situation and that this is not apt to change in the future.  You appear to have been thoughtful and mindful of your wife's needs and feelings and you deserve respect for that, as well as for the courage it takes to bite the bullet and do what you need to extricate yourself from a bad situation.

All I can do is wish you the best of luck in successfully navigating your way through these unpleasant waters coupled with a bit of envy that I was not as perceptive as you when I was your age.


"The purpose of our life is to be happy"   Dalai Lama


Doesn't matter if you say it

Doesn't matter if you say it all day, or one time, the damage is still the same. 

There are MANY things I could say to everyone I know that would be TRUE, but very hurtful and helpful in no way...does that mean I should say them just simply because they are true? If you don't love her, that's just reality...I am certainly not condoning you tell her you love her if you don't...but give me one good reason why you have no choice (it seems to be what you're saying) but to tell her you don't. Yes, it would be best to say nothing...

Feel about me what you will...if having compassion for your wife makes me a target of your anger then so be it. I have never pretended to understand anything or anyone on this site for the simple goal of 'getting along'. I see a lot of "me me me" "I deserve..." "I have a right..." filling your posts...why are you even HERE if you're just looking for everyone's approval and blessing for you to stay married to someone you obviously have zero desire to work with? If you were a female here posting the same about your male husband (as is usually the case) I would say the same thing...no one deserves to live with someone who does not love them...and staying is cruel. Leaving isn't easy, but again that feels to me like you saying "It isn't easy for me!" versus "it would be best for her". Seems selfish. Just my opinion. Feel free to ignore it...since my frequency posting here seems somehow relevant to my credibility. 

I haven't walked in your shoes...but speaking solely on a human level...I feel sorry for your wife...regardless of what she's done or how hard you have tried. Something is bad wrong with her self-esteem to stay with a man who tells her 'honestly' that he doesn't love her. 

First of all, thanks to ADHD

First of all, thanks to ADHD Husband and Aikenhead for their thoughtful comments. I want to respond to you both, and I will in just a moment, but first, I feel I ought to deal with Sherri.

Sherri: My wife is not the "target of my anger." I'm not very angry, and I don't shout at her. We have what married couples sometimes call "conversations." I don't know why she doesn't leave either. I wish she would. I've asked her to and she won't. I've chosen a lawyer for us both and she rejected my choice, and I left it up to her to choose one, and she didn't. You write: "why are you even HERE if you're just looking for everyone's approval and blessing for you to stay married to someone you obviously have zero desire to work with?" I'm actually looking for the opposite: people to remind me that it's okay to leave when I'm not happy. You also write: "There are MANY things I could say to everyone I know that would be TRUE, but very hurtful and helpful in no way...does that mean I should say them just simply because they are true? If you don't love her, that's just reality...I am certainly not condoning you tell her you love her if you don't...but give me one good reason why you have no choice (it seems to be what you're saying) but to tell her you don't." Yeah, it's wise to not be completely honest with most people in your life, but your spouse shoudl be the one person you're totally honest with. Complete honesty with the spouse, especially when it comes to your feelings, is key. So, Sherri, don't respond. This has become a pissing contest and is not helpful, so please, disappear.

ADHD Husband: (1) I did so much research because I wanted to make an informed decision about what the marriage was going through. I read a couple of books on ADD and a couple about good marriages in general. I'm the kind of person who tends to do a lot of research and find life's answers in books (literature or nonfiction). I don't make seat of the pants decisions. If anything, I tend to overthink things (like now).  (2) my wife loves me and is unhappy with her own life (job situation). She does have very low self-esteem as a result of her ADD and is making great strides to improve her life. About the marriage? She thinks we could do more things together, and mostly I think her need for my love an affection is unmet, so I'm guessing she doesn't like it much, but she also won't let go of hope that it could get better. (3) In a perfect world, my wife would be happy somewhere else, with someone else, and we'd be good friends, and I would be with someone who didn't make me so nervous and uncomfortable.

Aikenhead: Thanks for your sympathetic comments. I do need to bite the bullet, and am doing all I can to fight the guilt and actually believe myself when I say I have the right to be happy.


I told my husband to leave too and he didn't. He was going through a period of about 3 years where he refused to work and wouldn't even clean the house, so I understand how you feel. It isn't good to feel "stuck" with you spouse like that.

Both names are on the lease and my daughter (matrimonial lawyer) says I can't make him move out just because I pay the rent. My job has unverifiable income, so there's no way I can get another place. He has no income, having lost a job (6 months ago!) that truly made him happy so he can't move either. We've had some good times in the time since I asked him to leave and I hang on to those and hope he will someday become again the person I married. 

But I don't feel my primary job is to be happy, but to be a good person, so maybe that's the difference between us. I gave up expecting to be happy a long time ago. Now I'm just trying to survive. Maybe if I were 27 I'd think like you.

That's a very good question.

That's a very good question. I am the non. I have been on this yo-yo angry ride lately. I see tremendous effort to change, but the anger still comes in waves, regardless. I think it all goes in steps or phases or just will take time. I'm processing every day. I think there are a couple things to go through first before we can go forward. One of them is mourning the loss of the "fairy tale" and "what could have been". I keep hearing gardner, too, when she said that some of it was NOT intentional. I do believe that some or most of it wasn't. There are the other times when things cut like a knife, and times when the level of frustration seemed to almost make my head pop or explode in to a million tiny pieces, but i am still riding the "processing" wave. There is a roller coaster of emotions that i fight with/through everyday. Sometimes when i'm dissappointed, or feeling sorry for myself, i wish he was my "rock", so i would have a safe place to fall or someone to talk to. This feeling of being alone is almost unbearable. i have no family close by, friends that will never understand, rain everyday, kids back in school. Just sad lately. Need to find something to lift me up! Maybe tomorrow. I am so very thankful for this site.

Mourning the fairy tale

I did this as well. To this day, I can't believe I got myself into this.  If I had another chance at love and found a "rock," I probably wouldn't even know what to do with it.

pjloops -- ha ha!!

First, I'd no doubt break my toe and blame it on my ADD ex.

This sounds like you are divorcing her...

because she doesn't fulfill the stereotypical feminine role of taking care of the house and you. If she got hit by a car (that happened to me) and couldn't take care of the house, would you divorce her?

Don't get me wrong. I'm as angry at my husband as anyone on this site. He doesn't fulfill the traditional masculine role of supporting me, and I had no idea he felt like that when I married him. But we are still together. I am struggling to make it work.

They say ADD is harder for women in relationships because they have a harder time fulfilling the "female" role of taking care of house and kids. That is all kinds of hard work, even for those without ADD. I have no idea how an ADD woman does it.

Just playing devil's advocate....


Nope, it's not that.

First of all, I think a lot of ADD people would resent your implication that being ADD makes you in some ways as incapacitated as being run over by a car. It's not fair and frankly hurtful to people who have ADD. They are not helpless, and as Melissa says in her book, having ADD is just a different way of being. So if I'm unhappy being married to this kind of person, that makes me sexist?

Secondly, aren't you wonderful for making it work, even though you aren't happy? Gold star.

Thirdly, I have been playing devil's advocate with myself for 14 months now, wondering whether I'll ever have an equal partner, and not just someone I feel like I have to take care of. Read Melissa's book. The Parent-Child dynamic that takes over is absolutely deadly for lots of reasons. It's even pretty evident on this message board that nobody wants to feel like his/her spouse's parent. So I'm not asking for a servant. I'm asking that I not be a parent to a full-grown adult.

So yeah, I want her to clean more. I don't want her to leave her bloody menstrual pads under the sink instead of throwing them away. I want her to clean up when she makes lunch for herself (not for me, just for herself). It would be nice to have her vacuum (she never does--I always do). I never said or even meant to suggest that I want her to do it all. What I've wanted was for her to do 50%, and it has taken waaaaaay too long to get to that point. So I'm frustrated. And I have no kids. And I'm 27--lots of years that I would rather enjoy than not.

In short, my wanting my wife to clean doesn't make me a sexist, and forgive me for feeling offended that you think it does.


We had a woman on here who had MS...

and her ADD husband insisted he was as disabled as she, and couldn't even provide food for her and their child. So not all ADD people would resent it.

I absolutely agree she should throw away her own menstrual pads. It might be incumbent on you to make sure there is a nice wastebasket in the bathroom.

My point was that I hear a lot of resentment from non-ADD husbands because their wives don't do enough housework. I complain of that too but only because I am handicapped (and he knew it when he married me). The idea of a guy standing around with a notebook (sorry, that's the image you project) figuring out if his wife, who has a pretty severe neurological disorder, is doing 50% of the housework is ridiculous. If you love her, figure out a way to make it work. If all you want is to be married to Suzy Homemaker, fire this wife and find one who fits your standards. I think your dates would be more like job interviews. I don't hear love in your post, just anger that she doesn't fulfill your expectations.

Right, she doesn't meet my expectations, which are pretty basic.

Fine, shout from the rooftops that ADD people are just like people who have suffered major accidents. See how many friends you make. Yeah, some people may feel the way your friends feel, but frankly, they're wrong. ADD people aren't incapable, and it's people like you who allow them to suffer huge blows to their self-esteem when they make mistakes. Shame on you.

There is a wastebasket in the bathroom. And I don't want to have to remind her of that.

"My point was that I hear a lot of resentment from non-ADD husbands because their wives don't do enough housework." No. Your point was that I, losing patience, am a sexist jerk. I don't recall any reference to any other husbands resenting how their wives don't help out.

What I'm seeing in this forum is that a lot of wives resent their husbands for not doing enough housework. Does that make them sexist? Or is there only one version of sexism?

At this point I'll invite anyone else who has been following this blog to comment. Do you want an equal partner? To what extent is not having an equal partner harming your relationship?

I want an equal partnership and I'm not ashamed to say so. And marriage is work, so maybe my dates would be like job interviews. I'm not going to sit here and spout romantic ideas of a marriage. Marriage needs to work on many levels. That's why we date in the first place--to gather enough information that will help us figure out of the relationship will last long-term. Living with someone and conquering the world together--feeling like you're part of a team--is one of the biggest things that makes a marriage succeed. Letting your partner influence you is another. (See John Gottman's book, The Seven Principles..etc.) If you don't work together--that is, if the ADD spouse is lazy while the other person does nearly all the work--love evaporates pretty quickly. And I've gotten neither aspect from my wife, despite doing my utmost to keep her from crashing and burning.

So hey, Sueann, I can't be any more clear about this: I don't want a Suzy Homemaker. I want someone who thinks enough of me to split the work of living daily life. At a certain point, it doesn't matter why she doesn't. She just doesn't.

That said, I started this entry in the forum writing about guilt, and I guess I don't need any more guilt, as I'm struggling with enough of my own...




I totally understand your

I totally understand your frustration and i understand the disappointment in wanting a partner. I almost want to say if you dont have children then RUN. But, i dont know what or why you fell in love with her. There are so many levels of frustration and anger. So many parent/child traps. So many things that make you say "what the hell did i do to myself!" i have said it a thousand times. It's perfectly normal and you should also feel safe to say it here! We all are going through very similar frustrations, only our tolerance level and disappointments are all very different because we all have different expectations and different needs. After being here and reading and writing and just "listening" to what everyone is saying, each day gets easier and i learn more about me and what i want. My dh is really making an effort and i have two children to think about too. I have posted so many of the same frustrations but with different issues. The need for respect is essential, the need for an equal partner is essential, the need to be able to rely on your spouse is a necessity. She has to do a lot of work in order for you to see her in a different light. If she chooses not to do that work, then you have to take care of you. No one can force her to change. She has to want to. I wish you the best. Keep reading and posting!

As a non, I can understand

As a non, I can understand your frustrations.

I was just wondering...when you were dating her, when you first met, what did you love about her? I know it wasn't her doing equal shares of the household tasks and helping you split the financial obligations of the family. So what was it? Does all of that go out the window now that you have really gotten to know her and how her ADHD makes life more complicated? What if you married the girl of your dreams who cooked and cleaned and WAS suzy homemaker and then she fell off of horse, hit her head, and was all of the sudden a slob who felt fine dining was pop tarts? Your wife has a disorder that should in no way be an excuse to not TRY. Consideration (by you) needs to be made as to how hard it is for her to do things you and I consider 'easy' or 'normal' or 'routine'...such as applying ourselves enough to keep a job or tossing our used feminine hygiene products in the trash. Also something you need to give STRONG consideration to is your level of support. I will tell you what I tell everyone else who comes here frustrated, angry, and ready to give up...(AND MYSELF)...are you giving her everything you're asking of her? I don't mean that because you're vacuuming regularly that you're being a good husband. I mean are you doing more than just reading...are you FEELING compassion for her? Are you asking her "how can I help?" are you allowing her to make mistakes on her own and supporting her through them as she learns (hopefully?).

My experience with females and ADHD is zilch..other than those here who are females and have spouses who seem to set extremely high standards that no one could possibly live up to, especially not ones with ADHD. I can't speak to you about your experience other than what you have posted. I will say the main thing I feel is lacking in your words...forgive me if I am wrong...is love and compassion. A little of each go a very, very long way with someone who has ADHD. The more disappointing she feels she is (your words and actions will tell her) and unloved she feels by you the worse things will be for everyone. Are you REALLY considering the mountain she may be climbing? I would encourage you to read posts by the females here with ADHD and ask questions. Don't come here asking if you should leave her...come here asking "how do I better understand her struggles" and "how can I help?"

I wish you all the best. I think just the fact that you came here proves you want things to work...I know that isn't easy for most men...to share their stories. Kudos to you for that.

Brilliant, Sherri!

You said what I was really wanting to say, in a very balanced and thorough way. I try to be like you described but it is so hard when I have challenges of my own. Kudos to you.

Sueann, are you ok?

I'm sorry Sueann, but he didnt post anything any different than i posted weeks/months ago. I know you know we all have our own set if expectations of "what could have been" vs "what is". Just because it's written here doesnt mean we can articulate it well enough to really get our feelings across and remain somewhat private. When i started reading your Some of your earlier replies and your earlier posts, they sounded very simlar to the gentlemans' posts here and it seems you may have transfered a little bit of your frustration of not being able to do it yourself onto him. It isnt that he isnt able to do it for himself, its that he is disappointed in his equal partnership and that she isnt doing the work. Not necessarily house work or a job. Adhd affects every aspect of a realtionship and the complications and mis-communications spread like a virus to everything it touches. Makes even the most laid back of laid back people go crazy, imagine what this could do to someone who absolutely MUST HAVE ORDER. I'm not saying this person must have order, but we all know what it's like to ask for something to be done or to ask for help and not get it. Take care : )

I'm fine (at least as much as I usually am)

Look, I've never claimed to be the best housekeeper myself but I don't think that's what relationships should be about. I was actually projecting my feelings about my first husband. He had me have major knee surgery because my knee was too bad to go downstairs to the laundry room in the basement. No thought that he could do the laundry or we could make a laundry center in the kitchen. No, I had to alter myself to fit the work. It didn't work and we fought like cats and dogs about my supposed inadequacies for years until I finally dumped his ass.

He was very much "woman has to do all the work." When my first daughter was born, she had her days and nights mixed up. He made me stay up all night and hold her so her crying would not disturb his sleep, because he worked and I didn't. I'd like to see him produce all the sustenance for another human being in his own body, clean, cook, shop, wash and nurture with no help.

All what's going on now, where my husband is in bed and the guys can't bring in the new washer tomorrow because there are piles of laundry that I can't move and he won't move is making this feeling worse. I just got finished working for the night (internet job) and I'm tired, stressed and frustrated.

Thanks for asking.

Oh, I'm not the greatest

Oh, I'm not the greatest house keeper either. I grew up in a house where my mom hired someone to do it for us, so, I do it, but not as perfectly as some people. I just felt some of your frustration that came through as something that happened to you in your post above. Hope you are a little less frustrated today and i hope you got some well deserved sleep! I would be extremely peeved if i had to put up with your first and second dh! I wish you well!

Have to write to get it out!

Hi Everyone,

I am new here but I am sympathetic to all who are on here.  Let me explain a little.  While going through a brutal divorce four years ago, I began to date someone who i new for a few years prior, I knew him from a social circle.  When we started seeing each other, he was depressed, ill with two very treatable stomach disorders and thyroid disease.  I took him to doctors, got him healed, gave him attention that he so desperately craved, praised him, even worked by his side doing construction as I was between jobs and needed the pay.  I was 51 years old, looked and felt much younger.

We enjoyed our time together, we traveled constantly, we were out all the time at dinner, always conversed and enjoyed.  I began to notice that he was constantly late, had the worst excuses, and even worse than that, would never answer his cell phone.  Naturally, being a woman, I assumed that he was seeing others as well as me, and if that is the case,I will probably never know now!

His background was awful, bad childhood, beatings daily, no positive role models in his life, what I call "raised by wolves" although I did not judge him, rather I felt that he needed a boost.  I was fortunate to have grown up in a small and loving family.

So boost him I did, showing him how things are done properly, that vehicles need registrations and insurance, bills get paid on time or before, normal is NOT 10 bounced check fees per month, please take off your WET WITH SPACKLE BOOTS BEFORE YOU COME INTO MY HOME, please stop unrinating ALL OVER THE BATHROOM FLOOR, please rinse the filth that you leave behind after a day of construction and you are here taking a bath, please stop letting the dog out with noi leash and forgetting that he is out there.

I could go on and on and on with the negatives, there are many, many more.  I found a doctor, I knew he was ADHD and I had a feeling he was bipolar.  She confirmed it.  He has been on meds for a year now, and we go to therapy, guess what, HE STILL CANNOT REMEMBER TO PERFORM THE SMALL DAILY TASKS.  He leaves the outside door wide open after walking in, he leaves every light on after leaving the room permanently, he cant remember to use his towel (different color than mine) so he uses mine.  What he sees in front of him product wise, he uses, and never replaces.  It is there, it is his.  There are nights that he will not even wash his hands after being in construction all day, then comes to bed (on just washed sheets that I put on at 8PM after work) with no shower.

I have two grown sons that live on their own, one married the other in Graduate school.  I feel like I am this 48 year old mans mother.  I DO NOT WANT TO RAISE ANOTHER CHILD, especially one who CAN'T learn.  It has become very difficult for me.  The doctor says "look at how willing he is to change the things that are wrong because he loves you, you will not find that anywhere."  It changes for an hour, she just can't seem to grasp that.

I work 55-60 hours a week in a demanding job, clean up after him (yes, I related to the comment form someone on if he would only clean up after himself after making HIMSELF a sandwich, key word, HIMSELF, he has NEVER made one for me, guess he can't remember to ask if I am hungry) take care of this home, and take care of it well, pay all the bills, do the laundry, garbage, remind him of EVERY TASK that HE needs to do for his work, his children, pay his ex, etc.

Am I exhausted, YES, has he grown me old, YES, do I feel like his MOTHER, YES, do I want to have a physical relationship with him, NOT ANYMORE, he has mentally, emotionally and physically drained me with all of it and the PROMISES that are NEVER KEPT.  

At first, when we first met and he told me his saga, I felt so badly for him, but now I understand why his wife wanted out, SHE NEEDED TO SAVE HERSELF............SHE WAS BEING DRAINED BY HIM TOO..........Their 9 year old son is ADD AND ODD, oppositional defiance disorder, try telling this child the sky is blue and have him look you in the eye and say in a nasty tone : "it is NOT."

Shall I tell you about the porn addiction, 300-400 sites, disgusting sites, whenever he was alone that is what he would do, and then lie about it to my face.  How do I know?  I was forced to install software on his computer, as he would forget to erase his history (wow, big surprise) and  he would say to my face "I don't have a clue how that all got there, maybe YOU put it there."  So at one of our sessions in July, I walked in with a 5 pound folder of the printouts and after he denied it, I pulled it out of my bag.  All he could respond with was : "SNAGGED"

You see, I too like many of you was beginning to believe that maybe he was just stupid, but he is not, quite the contrary.  The issue is, he can only apply his intelligence to where HE WANTS TO.  I started thinking he is selfish, but he is not, he will do anything for anyone, EXCEPT REMEMBER TO DO WHAT HE SHOULD BE DOING DAILY.

Oh, the impulsive spending, the other day he bought a metal detector, for $1,100, four weeks before Christmas.  He considered it an impulse buy, I told him that a candy bar at the register is an impulse buy.

Do I sound like I am losing my mind and about to have a breakdown, you bet I do.  The problem is, I thought I could function with just picking my battles, but EVERYTHING HAS BECOME A BATTLE, and I am always the one on the losing end.

You ask why I am still in it, well, it is hard to just leave someone you love, and believe me, I am not in it to be a martyr, I have repeated to him that I am not his sacrificial lamb. There are (were) so many wonderful things about this relationship that I have been hanging on to.  I guess I need to set a deadline, but it felt good to take a part of what you all spoke in words and let you know that you are not alone.

I could go on for pages, but I will stop.  I have tried the kind way, the angry way, nothing works, it is just how his brain deciphers........maybe I am the crazy one then for staying......................

MagicSandwich's picture

" I started thinking he is selfish, but he is not"

Hi janie12,

Actually, what you wrote describes selfishness perfectly.  It's OK to see his behavior for what it is, ADHD or not. When he makes food for himself and never shares it with you and never makes you something to eat either - that's selfish. Coming to bed with filthy hands is disrespectful. Sometimes a little pornography can be exciting and fun (we're all adults here), especially in a loving relationship where pleasing one another is the shared goal. However, a spouse who hogs visual stimulation all for himself (or herself), claims to have no idea why the computer's cache is loaded with porno URLs and blames their partner when "caught" is a not somebody who "can't remember what he should be doing daily."  No, somebody who does all of that is behaving like a secretive, selfish liar.  And yes you should be taking it personally because it's a personal affront to you. 

Think about how the doctor pleaded with you to "look at how willing he is to change" and remember that change-willing people by definition are not afraid to: 

  • Hear accurate descriptions of their behaviors
  • Listen to how their behaviors (intentional or not) hurt people
  • Make amends for having caused hurt

You aren't crazy - you are reacting appropriately to somebody who has been untruthful and hurtful for many years. Chin up. 


I write constantly because he forgets what he said and did!

Oh My!! We could be twins! I write constantly because he forgets what he said and did. It's only for my sanity. He never sees me write or he would jump to a conclusion of his own. I write to find sanity in my own head.

My hang up with all of this ADD is that I had to give up sooo much to assist my spouse with his life goals. He doesn't remember me doing any of that because I am now, early retired because of all the stress he put onto me because I was a music and tv production teacher with 3 boys. (All of which have some form of my hyperactivity caused by hyper thyroidism inherited from my Mom and they carry ADHD/ADD symptoms (no one is willing to get diagnosed because I'm the Mom and the boys rule like their Dad. They can't remember important things, but they can sing all the words to every song they hear, and recite entire tv dialogs with accents and actions. It's very entertaining if you aren't too frustrated when they are in the "NOW")My hyperthyroid has become hypothyroid. My energy has waned which I always thought that was how I coped and dealt with his ADD. This is very unfortunate for both of us. He takes it personally and as a put-down. Like he thinks he can take all the "blame" for our relationship and the relationships he tries to establish with his boys now. (A little too late for the boys..they remember him not taking part in their early years. It wasn't until they started school that they at least found common interests, however, it was dad's way or no way. Little room for their opinions and dad couldn't talk and do at the same time. He was focused only on the task and frustration became evident in their barking at each other, usually ending in both sides yelling and walking away from it. (sometimes forever;until they could forget. It depended on their focus of blame of self or the blaming of the other) I'm living in their positions now, at 56 yrs and 33+ yrs. of teaching music and other needed subjects and extra duties expected of teachers. (My husband would blame me of being too involved in my job! What! (That's another story of how I bent my schedules and planned my lessons only at work which meant I'd stay late or not get as prepared as I needed to be in my mind, which caused internal resentment. I've always been a highly energized and enthusiastic teacher but, that soon deteriorated and with a bad back from enthusiastic cheerleading, a diving accident, several concussions from sports....the health part caught up with me as I tried to continue on with the same spirit. Needless to say, I had to fall out of my wonderful and exciting career.

May I pause here to expain...I used to be highly organized, cleaned the house every Sat. because Mom said it had to be done, a place for everything, and a lot of whimsical areas to break up the planned look. I've always been flexible. My husband was flexible in his now moments which I never knew when it was a when moment or a now moment. Procrastination was his and still is. Clutter from him and then his sons would say but dad---look at your messes. (That didn't fly well with Dad.) Lots of yelling from his frustrated sons to their frustrated Dad has hurt their relationships, as well. The oldest son understands what I go through,and has figured out if you can't beat it-join it- or do without your Dad. The other 2 refuse to give up their forum. It's all about their problems. Lord knows, they all have a brain that fires off differently and communication is a hassle, especially about feelings and emotions. I hold this stuff inside of me for all of us and try to figure out how to let their Dad know whats up when he can handle it. When I get it right, it works; Please Lord, don't let me come across as a nag.)

These thoughts go through my brain, everytime I start to open my mouth. I feel guilty for not handling it right, because I am a teacher. I've taught the autistic successfully, and the ADD/ ADHD child with patience and understanding and strategies that worked for the child. Why can't I get this right with my own husband?


After reading your 2 chapters?? !!  I really think he has grown to resent me for my stability and now that I'm not as stable (worn-out and hurting physically, mentally, and emotionally AND, yes! I go to a psychologist and a psychiatrist and I'm being treated  for depression and doctors are trying to fix my physical disabilities, as well, mainly because my hubby said go get help. Whatever you have to do! Get help! Or, get out! This coming from him after ALL I have tried to adjust to for him and the kids. You can only imagine how hurt I am. His favorite words to me are to shut-up and things will be great. He has decided to blame my mouth, which, if you knew me, I hardly ever complicate situations with words, because it overloads him while he is working on the situation.(ie...toilet broke for a year; I try to fix it unsuccessfully, and he takes it personallyand I'm a bad person for trying to help him out with these "little chores". Being accused of trying to outshine him or I'm throwing the problem in his face are the remarks and add-itudes I live with daily and boy! ARe they really apparent now that I'm home and not "working".


This writing thing feels really good to me. It exhausts my brain so I feel like I've had a say and I've tried when trying doesn't work....I'm exhausted...please , for now, I have to go for a walk in the cool air. Need to clear my head and move on to chores on the farm...or I will be accused sometime in his "now" that I don't care about him and I'm not helping enough and when I do I do it not the way he wants it done, and then he takes it personally and I never meant for that to even enter the moment. Grudges, blame, shouting, and in the next moment, he's bringing me a bowl of ice cream and smiling and talking "at" me about his day and if I comment positively or negativeyl, it doesn't matter, life becomes one big scary run on sentence. My self-control and patience that I've always used to get ahead with people and gain their confidence has blown away in the wind. So I try to sit very still.

Thank you for your book. I'm buying it for myself this Christmas. Thank you for putting yourselves out there for others. Wish you were my neighbors. Maybe my hubby could see it better. I'm on his side and I always have been despite his affair, his breakdown, because he was too proud to share problems with me back in the mid-life crisis days of yor. Maybe I need a senior-life crisis? Do you think he'd even notice? You never know with him.


Losing Pateince, do I get that you

Do I get that you have tried?  Yes.  Did your post trigger a feeling in me that was too close to home?  Yes.  And for that, I guess you can disregard any of my statements.  But I hope that you read a little further, so I may have at least an opportunity to explain.  I understand that you have tried, and I also understand the challenges that you, the partner who does NOT have ADHD has had to face. I do too!  In fact, I've been in this relationship, longer than you have been alive! (wow, what a buzzkill, lol).  I meant no disrespect to you, losing patience.  And if I was inarticulate in my last post, please chalk it up to the fact that I am dealing with a lot of stuff like the guilt of what I may have done, versus the pain and frustration that I have had to deal with in this relationship...just like you (apparenty?).  Yet, there has been pluses, not the least of which are the children, and many happy memories that have come from it  (along with a lot of other not so nice things, granted).   I guess your and my dividing  point was this: if you feel like you are "done" but continue to live with your wife while making it clear that you don't love her ("I DONT LOVE YOU") but you feel guilty for staying...it is just causing a lot more stress and trauma for all.  Yes, you are young and have so much ahead, with or without your wife.  But then, if you are staying consider that maybe there is a reason other than guilt?  Or else, take a trial separation to clear your heads, and define a new starting ground for your relationship...if there is a chance for one.  Ironically, in my case, I feel that I have had to deal with all the things that every non-adhd partner has laid claim to, yet at the same time, my spouse feels like you do: that he has done all this stuff and tried but its not enough. And acts very mean, angry and critical to me as a result.   And though I cant and wont speak for you (of course), it kills me that there has been no accountability on my husband's part except a feeling of his apparent victimization from my evil hands(?)...I don't know, but it has hurt. A lot.  So perhaps what I am saying is this: consider a trial separation if you need the space, clear your heads and allow transition, OR not, and leave, OR stay and try with counseling (yes, I AM GOING, it HELPS A LOT).  But saying stuff that hurts like that, I can only speak from the woman's perspective:  it is traumatizing what you are saying/ as are the hugs that given without meaning.  She LOVES you.  And if you don't love her, or are ambivalent about your feelings for her...then try something different than this kind of hurt.  It can go on for years, and it is not the way to go.  Again, I mean not to start a battle of any kind, but offer a slightly different perspective.  (Shields down...)

summerwine's picture

Your wife has a disability. I

Your wife has a disability. I don't mind calling it that and I have ADHD so does my son and brother and my niece and my nephew has AS. Just to get a diagnosis you need to have severe (clinically significant) impairments in two or more major life areas. It's not some other way of being. Its more than your brain working a little bit different. It's a debilitating disorder caused by the brain not developing as its supposed to. It effects executive function.  Like autism it is on a spectrum so its either Mild Moderate or Severe.  Some of us CAN"T keep up a job or make it through school or have a good marriage. But most of us can. If you have good treatment and medication and work really hard for YEARS then maybe it's just another way of being. My family counselor had me watch a video of a lecture by a top research guy and he said that ADHD is worse than depression or anxiety but that it's more treatable than they are. Your wife has a disability and she found out about like a year ago. That's not very long to fix all the bad stuff that comes from having a disability for 20 plus years and not knowing it! If you can't do in sickness and in health, richer or poorer for better or worse then admit it. Admit that you don't want to be with a disabled woman and cut her loose. Pack your stuff and leave. But don't crush her so bad that she will never get help or build her life again. My ex husband couldn't deal. I am better off without him and so is my son.





Re: summerwine

Thanks for that link had never seen it before and I find it of great value!

leopardprints67's picture

You sound alot like my husband...

This is like reading about me and my husband, although my husband does love me and tells me every day. It's the only thing that keeps me going, knowing that while I drive him insane and am detrimental to his health apparently, that he still loves me. It's why I haven't put a bullet in my head yet. He hasn't totally given up on me. Which means, I can't give up on myself.

I feel terribly for both of you. But I wish more than anything that you could spend a day in her head and see what she goes through. Every day, from the minute you wake up, it's a struggle just to get through the day. If anyone who's critical of someone with ADHD, be it a parent, friend or spouse, they would be blown away and alot more sympathetic. I also wish she could be in your brain and see what an organized brain FEELS like. I have no concept of what my husband is talking about when he says to slow down, calm down, THINK.  His brain works at a slower, more methodical pace. He notices details, nuances. My brain is alot like a speeding hamster on a wheel. It goes and goes with alot of effort but gets NO WHERE. I can walk right past the dust on the mantel or the cat hair collecting in the corner. I can't...because my brain is already 20 paces ahead of my body. I'm so busy focusing on just trying to stay focused, that I have tunnel vision. He can walk thru a room and immediately point out everything that needs to be done. 

I will tell you one thing and I'm just agreeing with the other posters here. If you truly don't love her, don't be on the fence about it. It's not fair to either of you. If you don't love her, then gently, LOVINGLY, out of respect for the woman you did love, please...please let her go. 

ADD or something else

I can relate to everything you wrote about your spouse's habits and your frustration and emotional turmoil.  

Before I share my thoughts I want you to know that I'm not an expert on ADD or ADHD but I was a teacher and worked with children who had been labeled as such and so I have a lot of experience working with cognitive and behavioral disorders.  SO, here's where I have a problem with labels such as ADD/ADHD:  First of all, those are ' catch-all' over-generalized terms that describe behaviors that we all exhibit to some degree in our lives and don't point to any root cause or specific disorder.  The difference though between the labeled people and let's say, someone like you and I is that it's not typical behavior for us to be forgetful, irresponsible, etc..   My husband is a nightmare to live with and he's drained the life out of me.  I stayed here for various reasons that snowballed into one big trap...a HUGE mistake.  My husband was labeled ADD and sure, he exhibits such symptoms.  However, we later discovered that the has dyslexia and a host of passive-aggressive behaviors that he developed as coping mechanisms to deal with the shame of his learning disorder. My husband is a very functional dyslexic but he does seem to be ' stupid' in that he never changes his bad behaviors.  However, he's not stupid at all.  He's just got this repressed anger that he expresses with behaviors that many would label as ADD...forgetfullness, tardiness, playing coy or stupid and more.  If you are not familiar with Passive Aggressive behaviors, I would suggest you research the term and go from there. The children that I worked with that were labeled ADD/ADHD were extremely creative, very bright kids and simply didn't fit into the one size fits all classroom teaching model found in most schools.  As adults, these folks don't fit into a typical model for work, marriage, lifestyle either.  Their brains are wired differently, no doubt.  But, that doesn't make them stupid or helpless or even worthless.  However, because these folks are considered different or treated differently..sometimes as trouble makers or difficult or oppositional, they develop other coping behaviors that are - in my opinion- the toxic and destructive behaviors that interrupt and destroy relationships and personal success.  I might note that I've also known some pretty successful dyslexics and other adults who had learning disorders who were not destructive people harboring repressed anger.  

My situation is very sad because I'm always between a rock and hard place...it's a no win for either of us in our marriage because my husband cannot be objective or logical or even insightful enough to see how his behaviors negatively impact our success and his personal success.  We've tried therapy and he tried medications.  The meds turned him into an antisocial monster and I sincerely mean that.  Sure his memory and attention improved but it was like living with a meth addict.  Any of us would probably become more attentive and efficient multi-taskers when we are using stimulants.  I can remember using them in college to help me pass exams but then one day it occurred to me that meds are not making me more intelligent..I mean, the meds aren't providing answers.  The answers were there all the time..so why then was I not able to access them without drugs?  It was stress, lack of confidence, etc...  So, I found other ways to cope with stress.  Many ADDers suffer a lot of stress due to previous shame.  It's a knee jerk reaction for them to mentally shut down when someone confronts them with an issue.   I've noticed that ADDers are always thinking, their minds are always ' stressed' on so many other thoughts that they often behave without paying attention to what they are doing.  So, they put their keys down and have no idea that they are doing that.  ' They are not present' in the given moment. Does that make sense? 

I don't have any advice for you regarding your marriage.  You will have to decide what works best for you and remember too that as much as you may want to mend your marriage..it takes two to do that and it's not up to you to fix your wife in the mean time.  I have immense empathy for you  and I wish that I would have left a long time ago because I'm suffering too many negative outcomes today.   I could deal with attention issues and dyslexia but my husband has other issues that have destroyed our marriage, our business and my respect for him.  It's a nightmare to say the least.





Hi losing patience,I am new to finding out about ADHD and the terrible damages it could do,My ex-husband has ADHD and we separated yesterday,the reason I  am using the terms EX is simply because I have no intentions of making up back with him..I have mild ADHD,and my Ex has severe,I loved him like there is no tomorrow and still do but,I was not happy and very miserable.To me love is not enough to hold a marriage together, it comes with a whole package.We had great sex,but I was manipulate by his high sex drive and controlling childish behaviors.He too was a messy,forgetful,procrastinating type of a guy, and I am not going to stay In a marriage and don't feel happy.If you are not happy then do what's in your heart and what's best for both of you.Today I am very happy and I feel free like a dove.I am not saying that it's not going to be hard but it's going to be harder if you don't do what's right for the both of you.I am 32 and my ex is 47 and my relationship with him was very painfull.We had loads of problems,fights mentally,verbally, even physically twice,but we only lasted 1 year 2 months.I can't be in a relationship and not be happy,I feel for you and your wife..I hope things work out for you.GOD LUCK!..........from.lovehurtsalotwithanger.

My husband has ADD and I'm

My husband has ADD and I'm also angry all the time. I resent being a mother when I want a partner. The difference is that he takes his meds, is very willing to get help and is completely aware of all the heartbreak this causes me. We go to counseling and he articulates extremely well exactly what I'm feeling and how the implications of his ADD are affecting our family. My point is this: despite his efforts, nothing changes. not. one. thing.  I'm pretty sure from your comments that your wife wouldn't either. You have to consider that, too. You could invest more time and energy into something that is just not going to give you what you need or want to make you happy. I wish I could walk away but I just can't do it to our young son.  It's my own baggage, having grown up with divorced parents but still, I can't do it. All in all, he is a good dad and he is not abusive. Good luck, Friend. Please keep me posted. I admire the folks who make it through, whatever course they take.

But surely if he's aware of what he's doing he can change?  Everyone can.  Please tell me with effort, strategies and treatment I can make those I love happy.  I have severe difficulties- learning difficulties and adhd and I'm willing to do anything, even put my own life on the line for my friends and family.  I want to make the quality of their lives better than they would have been, even if it kills me.  I have to believe it's possible or I'd give up trying.  Are you saying it's impossible for some people?  What would make it possible?  


Response to Cheetarah

Yes, he can change. It's a question of following through on the treatments and what he says he will do in general ways. Also, just because his lack of follow through and irresponsibility (he forgets to pay bills, for example) are dealbreakers for me, doesn't mean they could be for someone else. I saw the signs early on and ignored them which is my fault. I hesitate to make blanket statements like "it's impossible for some people" but the dynamic with my husband is not something I personally would have chosen if I realized earlier what I was in for. If you can commit to "effort, strategies, and treatment" with and without your boyfriend or family, I think you have a great chance at reaching your goal.


wow, losingpatience...that's tough.how are things now?better?

cheetrah-this also sounds true for me:"resent being a mother when I want a partner. " except in my case, father...

glad i found this webpage.



We are separated, awaiting divorce.

It's been the 5 most difficult months of my life. It was the right thing to do, and over the course of the last 8 or 9 months or so, with the help of my therapist, I realized that my issue was not that I didn't love her (I did, very much) but that not every two people who love each other are meant to share a happy marriage together. Apparently, we weren't. We did not/could not make it work on a day-to-day level. It was beyond my ability to sympathize with her and her ADD struggles, and she could not overcome those struggles in a way that enabled her to live the life she wanted to live.

We do not talk now. It's too difficult for both of us, emotionally. But I read her blog. She's taken the money that I paid her to leave our jointly-owned condo and she's now in graduate school---something that she had wanted to do while we were married, but did not have the resources or motivation to do. So at least her life is getting better in one way.

I am sad as hell, because at least when I was angry, a part of me hadn't given up yet. Now it's all done, and there's no hope for us, and I'm in a period of mourning.

Months of therapy ahead for losingpatience.

Mourning - for losingpatience

I am so sorry that it did not work out for you and your wife.  Regardless of who contributed what to your demise (and it's ALWAYS both partners in one way or another) it's sad when two loving people can't make it.

Your story is the PERFECT example of one of the things I teach in my seminar - it's not ADHD that causes divorce...it's denial.

ADHD is one of the singly most treatable issues that psychologists and therapists work on.  A huge percentage of adults with ADHD can take medication and make behavioral changes (both) and get those symptoms out of their way.  It was your wife's inability, or unwillingness (I suspect the former) to look her ADHD directly in the eye, own it, and take care of it that took you down.  Don't get me wrong - per other posters here, I'm sure that your responses to her didn't help.  She probably felt really underappreciated, among other things, and the environment in which a person with ADHD lives can impact whether or not they can muster what it takes to "own" their ADHD.  I hear from ADHD adults with some regularity some version of "why should I bother to try?  I'll never be good enough for you...!"

Time will tell, but I think it's likely that her ADHD will continue to plague her until such time as she takes her treatment seriously.  It sounds as if she has consistent enough work issues that whatever she chooses to do in the future will suffer, too, without treatment.

As you focus on healing, understand that you didn't have control over this.  Only she can control whether or not her ADHD symptoms get treated.  Until she takes control of her own life, there is little/nothing you could have done to make things permanently better (temporarily, yes, but not permanently.)  Yes, you probably could have responded better, as another poster suggests, and that would have certainly helped.  (I say this not because I know anything about your specific situation but because it's almost always the case...even if spouses don't see it.)  But the reality is that this only goes so far, particularly if the ADHD is severe, which it sounds as if hers is.  After a while, you want a partner who is capable of paying attention to you and being at least "reliable enough" to get along.  Perfection isn't necessary, but a decent relationship is.

Best of luck to you as you move on.

Sometimes you've gotta save yourself

It is a sad story but you were wise to bail before things got too complicated with kids and such.  If a person won't own their problem, seek all possible help and do their own hard work, there's nothing you can do except save yourself, unless you want to end up in co-dependent hell.

  Good luck to you.

You sound a lot like me...

I'm just now reading your posts, and I can identify with you completely.  I am the non with a severe ADHD husband.  We separated months ago, we get along for the most part now, but are at a complete standstill.  I have yet to contact a lawyer, mostly because of guilt and feeling like a complete failure. 

I used to be as angry as you were, and am feeling the same way you list now.

I left because I identified in myself, the role I played in all of it, and had to change it because I hated what I had become.  The anger and resentment was rampant, and it still is a factor.  I didn't have a willing partner in any respect...I had a mean, grown child. 

I was the income earner and I moved out, slowly cutting the purse strings, but I haven't completely stopped yet. I need to stop enabling him once and for all.  I've finally come to accept that he won't even try to make things work, or attempt to make things better on his end, regardless of what he says.  I'm tired of doing everything and him not doing anything.

I've read books, gone to counseling (and still do), and to a psychiatrist to address my own issues and get through the garbage in my marriage.  And I still only see one answer that stares me in the face:  divorce.  This breaks my heart, but I deserve to be happy and healthy, just like the next guy.  I'm fairly convinced it's over and, honestly, I don't want to pursue it anymore.  I want out, but I am scared to take that final leap.  Why?  I don't have a clue beyond guilt and feeling like a failure.  It took me years to get this far, I hope I won't waste anyone's time anymore (least of all, mine!) to do what I gotta do.

You sound very angry...to the

You sound very angry...to the point of lashing out at anyone or anything around you.  I say this b/c I recognize this as the non-ADD spouse myself.  Up until almost 3 mos ago...boy was I flippin angry.  My hubby couldn't breathe w/o getting my ire.  It began to spill over to all of my other interactions with those other than my spouse, too, but I didn't see it.  Everyone was out to get me, period.  This is another thing I'm recognizing in this thread.  At one point my hubby wanted to get Melissa's book, but I threw a fit about that not being the "right" book b/c I simply could not get over her use of the term "nag."  I was resentful that me having to repeatedly ask my husband to do the most mundane of tasks and be an equal partner in our marriage meant I'm "nagging."  Well we had a long talk along with him saying he loves me but is no longer in love w/ me....and it has truly opened my eyes to my role in the whole thing.  I've even read Melissa's book (which is brilliant, btw.)  I now know that just b/c his ADD symptoms lead him to do sometimes horrible things, this doesn't mean I am perfectly ok in responding with the vitriol I had built up inside me.  The explanation for my actions is there, and even textbook to the script of ADD-nonADD marriages...but that doesn't make me any less culpable in the situation.  Your thread reminds me very much of how I was before realizing what a mean and angry person I became - someone I really didn't like or recognize.  Now 3 mos later we're going to marriage counseling and I've completely snapped out of my angry, bitter self.  I realize that part of the role my anger played was to protect me from hurt.  W/o the anger, the things he says/does hurt so much more now.  Still I know that I am generally in a MUCH better place than I was when I was so angry all the time.  

Look, like it or not, your wife has ADD just like my husband.  With it come a set of predictable symptoms or behaviors that aren't necessarily pleasant.  The thing is, we ALL come w/ a set of behaviors that aren't pleasant.  Every single one of us, ADD or not.  Some people exhibit ADD-like behaviors but do not have ADD.  We simply have a label we can readily apply to our spouses that make predicting certain behaviors much more easy to do.  Sure you can leave your wife and find someone else in a greener pasture, but that person is going to come w/ her own set of baggage and you'll still have your own, too.  It's not so much the baggage as it is how the two people w/ baggage interact - the dynamic they create w/ each other.  

You knew (I'm assuming), like I did, about the ADD prior to marrying your wife.  You knew there were unsavory aspects to it.  Perhaps you just hoped it would go away, I know I did.  Perhaps you thought "nagging" (yes, I'm using that term b/c I recognize this is exactly what it is now) would cause her to change, like I did.  I was dead wrong.  I contributed to how bad our marriage has become.  There's a saying about these types of things - the problem is using 6 of one and a half-dozen of the other.  Moral?  Not 1 spouse in 1 marriage is responsible for 100% of the problems (excluding the obvious extremes of abuse, crime, drugs, etc).

At this point you want out.  That is your choice to make.  I have my own beliefs about that b/c of my belief in the commitment of marriage.  To me, a divorce should be like an amputation to be had as a last resort and only to save a life (read that in one of those self help books, lol).  I believe this is what was meant w/ that "promise you made awhile ago" remark earlier.  And I 100% agree with that.  To me, committing to TRULY go through the ups AND downs in marriage is a matter of integrity.  But my viewpoint on the commitment of marriage is not the point here.  It is your choice to make, no one else.  And the frustrations you're feeling w/ your ADD spouse are absolutely legitimate.  However, being on the receiving end of the "I don't love you" from my husband who also throws out the "I'm just being honest" line, I also must say it is 100% cruel to say.  I'm sure this is not your intent, but the result is the same just like I'm sure it's not your wife's intent when she does the things she does in re: to her ADD.  Same w/ my husband.  I always tell him that if he punches me by accident or on purpose, it'll hurt either way.  And this goes both ways here.  There really is no need to say to your wife that you don't love her and then wonder why she doesn't leave you.  If you're not planning to stay true to your commitment, that is your decision...but then follow-through.  I believe guilt to be a bit of a cover-up.  It can cover-up empathy for the person when you thought you had none.  It can cover-up secret fears you would be making the wrong choice.  It can cover of the lack of courage to do whatever you want to do.  Whatever it is, the guilt is yours...own it.  Don't use it as your shield to stay and continue to inflict such pain on her by saying you don't love her.  

I say this w/ the utmost respect and kindness...and I say this recognizing it's quite possible you're still in that space I was in a few months ago where I couldn't see sincerity if it kicked me in my teeth and I just had my dukes up non-stop waiting to let someone have it for any perceived or real aggressions.  You need to make a decision and you need to make it fast.  Either you end this immediately in the kindest and most respectful manner possible, or you do your best to take ownership of your role in things and commit to fighting for your marriage, even if you're doing it on your own for awhile.  Either way, let your wife escape from this land of purgatory.

An aside to when I was this angry and lashing out in every direction - I honestly feel I got to that point b/c I felt utterly ignored and dismissed by my spouse so somebody was going to listen to me somewhere.  On some level...getting angry at others did give me the attention I was so utterly lacking in my marriage.  Again, it's an explanation, but not an excuse to continue.

I wish you the best of luck in your quest to find the right thing to do.  And to answer your OP, no your technical experiences are not unique...most non-ADDers are living w/ this.  We all have different ways in which we are trying to handle them and different perspectives based on time in the foxhole, but you most certainly are not alone.  I hope you can find some wisdom on this site that resonates w/ you and helps you through.


NOTE:  I did not see your final post about being separated so that negates some of what I've said here.  I'm sorry for your stress and I hope you figure out what's best for you.