Having Trouble Coping


I just found this website today, and boy am I ever glad I did. I have been reading through some posts about frustrated ADHD spouses, and I find that my situation isn't so different from any of yours.

My husband and I have been together for 3 years, married nearly 1. He told me that he had ADHD when we first began dating, but I didn't feel like it would have a big impact on our relationship. I know now that I was wrong.

My husband has all of the classic symptoms of ADHD. If I'm talking, he doesn't focus on what I'm saying, and will interrupt me in the middle of a sentence to begin talking about something entirely different. If I'm talking to someone else, he has to interrupt me just to finish what I am saying. If I ask him to do something, he procrastinates about it for hours, then forgets to do it - so I usually end up doing it myself. To add to the problem, we are living with his mother who also has ADHD.

My mother-in-law keeps telling me that most of our problems stem from his ADHD. Until now, I thought she was just making excuses for him and letting him use the ADHD as a crutch. The more I read about it, though, the more I realize - hey, she's right!

I find myself completely overwhelmed. I work a part-time freelance writing job, usually 3-4 hours a day, and I'm also in school, which takes up the rest of my time. At the end of the day, I find myself cooking, cleaning, taking care of his mother's animals, doing laundry, calculating finances, finding lost keys and other items, and paying bills. By the end of the day I drop into bed mentally and physically drained.

Every time I try to talk to my husband about the problems, he always pins the problems on me. He tells me that I do this and that which results in him exhibiting this behavior. It's always a different excuse, and normally its "my" fault. Most recently, I've complained to him that I want to move into our own place, and that I'm not happy here because I feel like I'm taking care of everyone. He told me that I'm finding things to be unhappy about, and that me complaining so much about things is making him feel inadequate and unhappy.

Another major problem is his extreme overreactions to things I say. I could say the most innocent thing in the world, and he'll blow up like I accused him of murder. He'll say all kinds of nasty things to me, and then turn around and apologize for it later. I hate to say it, but the apologies don't make up for the hurt caused in the first place. His inattentiveness and lack of respect for me really hurts. Not to mention, if I ever mention how much I do, or how badly I feel, he says he does ten times more than I do, and feels ten times worse. He goes to work, works 8 hours, and then comes home and sits on games ALL night long. I realize that it can be exhausting to make himself focus all of the time, but I wish he could be compassionate towards me when I'm feeling stressed, too.

In all honesty, I don't know what to do. I feel like our marriage is headed straight down the drain. I find myself depressed, stressed out, and generally exhausted by the end of each day. Does anyone have any advice on how I can work through this? I'm really determined to make this work, because regardless of the things that frustrate me, I still love my husband.


StephanieB - sorry to hear

StephanieB - sorry to hear about your issues with you DH. But yes, as you have read that you are not alone in this.  There are many ADD spouses on here that are are able to offer helpful insight and advice.

Is your DH treating his ADD? Any medication and/or counseling?  Have you tried marriage counseling?

The outbursts are so very hurtful - the best I can offer is try to not take them personally.  The outbursts aren't about you but about his ADD. Sorry, I know that doesn't help much. My DH has those very outbursts also - they add so much stress and pain to our lives.

I would insist that your DH get help with is ADHD and counseling.  And counseling for you to help understand how your reactions to his actions/words impact the situation and him. There are many many ADHDers that once their ADHD is contained life is more manageable.

Best wishes as you begin your journey.

Thank You

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. My husband isn't very receptive to the idea of medication or therapy. He took ritalin and adderall as a child, and he says both "slowed him down". He also believes therapy is a "bunch of crap". He thinks that only you can help yourself.

I've mentioned the idea of him going back on medication and the idea of therapy, but he refuses both. I won't be able to enter counseling for myself until our finances improve (i.e I get out of school in about 3 months).

I know his outbursts are the ADHD, and I keep thinking that every time he does it, but you're absolutely right; it still hurts. I keep hoping things will improve as he gets older, but the more I read, the less hope I have.

It can get better...

Hi Stephanie-  Your story is so familiar to me- I am married for 20 years now to a recently-diagnosed ADD hubby.  Early in our marriage, I had the same thoughts and experiences you describe-  interrupting, total lack of attention to me when I spoke, blaming for every fight or argument, and fear that it would not improve.  20 years later I am still here, and although there are still big problems, he has developed some insight and things *are* better than they were in the early days of our marriage.

We have a son who was diagnosed with inattentive ADD, and my hubby, to his credit, recognized that he had the same set of symptoms and got diagnosed himself.  I was hugely relieved!  I thought, "Wow, so there's some explanation for this besides him being a selfish and emotionally abusive a**hole!"  He got on medication and was seeing a psychiatrist for a while, but quit the doc soon into it with the "bunch of crap" argument (aka another impulsive decision where he thought he new best).  The meds still help but the going is rough without him getting some other support.

One thing I found that helped that Melissa Orlov talks about in her recent book is developing empathy, and taking responsibility for your part in the issues that ADD brings to your relationship.  When I stopped yelling and focusing on how disappointed and betrayed I feel for not having the true partner I thought I was getting and changed my side of the conversation to "what can I do to make this better and how can we together make the most out of what we both have to offer", at least we were able to talk more about things. 

He still can't seem to hold a job down and has a very short fuse about small stuff with me and the kids, but he is works hard to listen, attend to others, organize his time and get things done, and is a loving hubby and dad.  I still struggle as a lonely spouse who feels like things could blow up at any time, at least on the job front, but now I can tell him how I feel and it's okay.  We will stay together and I think he is finally ready to go to therapy again and with me (he just blew up another job last night- sigh).

Anyway, give yourself a hug, get the support you need, and keep coming here-  this place is a Godsend in my book. 

Thank you, Suz. I really

Thank you, Suz. I really think now that I understand his condition a little better and have others in my situation to talk to, our relationship will grow instead of stagnate like it has been. I really hope so, because I do love this man and would hate to see things go badly because of something he can't control.

I also hope things get better for you. :)

Step...if you love him, than

Step...if you love him, than it's worth it to work it out, but do it NOW before it's too late. I am TIRED and have to do the same thing and I personally am sick of having to do everything for him. If I had known what it would be like to be married to him, I wouldn't have married him. I have been with him for nine years and married for nearly seven and I am at the end of my rope. I told him that if things didn't get better I was leaving in the new year (2011). I've given myself until June to get myself straight, career wise, etc and then will re-evaluate our relationship. I am slowly cutting (emotional) ties with his family and doing other things in preparation for a divorce. Slowly empowering myself. Only you, know your strength and what you can and will endure. I know that I have endured enough and I'm sick of the excuses and refuse to continue to blame his actions on the ADD. Ultimately, he needs to man up and accept responsibility and quit using his "illness" as a crutch. He has had an easy ride his entire life with everybody coddling him and it ends with me. I'm not trying to sway you either way, but I'm keeping it real with you. It won't get better until he realizes that he needs to work just as hard as you to make it work. And if he won't/can't do that....well, you know what you need to do....and then ask yourself, do I want to do that?? 

Good luck! :)