He keeps saying it's my fault

That I'm not trying hard enough. 

Every day I try, and hope, and pray... and have for a very long time.  What is he doing?  Whatever he wants.  If he feels like cleaning up, he will.  If he doesn't, it's left for me.  If he wants to play video games he will.  If he wants to leave he will.  He sets up crazy expectations for me - tests that I can only fail, then he's disappointed when I fail.  E.g. wanting couple time at 11 PM when I have to get up for work the next day.  Wanting me to drive in terrible weather to come see him when he's away (Why should HE have to drive in the weather, he asked.)  It's so sad he can't see my responsibility, my bill paying, tackling the unpleasant things in the marriage (chores, food shopping, etc) as "trying."  No, trying is MAKING myself have an emotional connection that just isn't there. 

This is common, right? 

He isn't grasping that I'm at the end of my rope.  How much more bending can I do?  How do you all react when you're told it's YOUR fault?

Which one?

You're not specific...which one of you has ADHD?  I'm assuming him?  

If he isn't 'grasping' it, then give it to him with both barrels.  Subtle messages are not the language of someone with ADHD.  



I'm very leery of the phrase 'undiagnosed ADHD.'  There really is no such thing.  If there is no diagnosis, then there's no way to know he has it, unless you yourself are a practicing clinician with experience in this field.

Please don't take my words wrong; they may sound harsh, but they're meant to be cautionary.  Some of the things you describe (the tendencies toward being controlling) are not actually symptomatic of ADHD.  This isn't to say that two different conditions can't co-exist in the same person, but the controlling tendencies are more symptomatic of OCD, BPD or NPD.  There can be tendencies of self-centeredness in ADHD, but that is usually a result of an individual person's coping mechanisms that he or she has developed over the years.  It is never used (to my knowledge) as a diagnostic criterion.

In this case, you likely still need to give an unambiguous message that things have to change.  Demand marriage counseling,  but then YOU find a counselor who has some experience with ADHD.  Let the counselor be the one to evaluate him.   


EDIT: OK, so I just noticed the other thread you've got going.  Kinda changes the picture a little bit, although what I said above still stands.  Sounds to me like this guy needs one of two (perhaps both) things.  It's probably time for you to do a 180 on the marriage (that doesn't (necessarily) mean leave him - it DOES means start living your life, with or without him, and working on just the 'you' rather than the 'us.'), and he needs to sit down with a counselor who actually listens to HIM.  

Would it be fair to say that prior counseling sessions have started out by you listing your complaints and then you and the therapist ganging up on him to 'fix' him?  I know that doesn't sound nice, but try - honestly try - to replay those memories and experience the sessions from his point of view.  That's a pretty toxic scenario for someone with ADHD.  From his perspective, he's hearing his mother, his father, every grade school teacher, most of his middle school teachers, and any counselors he's ever seen saying "If JIMMY would only try a little harder..."  There comes a time when, all of the 'trying harder' having failed, the one with the ADHD just responds with a big FU. (Sorry, I'm not trying to be crass, I'm trying to convey the enormity of the internal oppression he likely feels.)


Assuming you are the non-ADHD spouse:

I've been where you are--at the end of my rope that is.  So much so that I thought I might be having a nervous breakdown.  So I feel your pain--I really do.  Here is some food for thought which I have worked through myself and as a result I am much better off emotionally. 

As the one who is better able to rationalize and observe symptoms and results, sadly, it does fall on us to be more responsible for attempting to "fix" and also keeping the household running despite everything else.   I've learned my ADHD husband is not even able to do, such as the household finances.  It is overwhelming and confusing to the point of tears for him.  As for me, it's a piece of cake and so I handle it, managing our strengths and weaknesses.  Unfortunately it often means for non-ADDers that we have the lion's share of the work.  If the things you do have responsibility for are difficult/stressful, try to think of ways to simplify them for yourself.  My husband is currently in denial or at least refusal of seeking treatment, so it's on me to learn all about ADHD and figure out how to make our relationship work the best I can. 

That said, there are also some boundaries that need to be established in any relationship, not just those affected by ADHD.  There are just some things we made clear early (or later learned the hard way) that WERE NOT ACCEPTABLE in our relationship.  For example, I will not tolerate those angry tantrums.  I leave the room, leave the house, or ask him to leave (calmly).  The consequence of raging is my absence.  The End.  ADHD or no, that is not an environment I want to live in.  I would suggest that you make some of these kinds of boundaries as well.  You might start with the driving in terrible weather.  Your safety is more important than avoiding an angry reaction.  You will likely get angry backlash at first in every new boundary atttempt, but holding your ground is so important.  Also important is at least trying to explain what and why you are making such a boundary.  Communicate well, keep it simple and at a time when he is calm. 

Something I learned that actually startled me was that my husband really didn't see all that I was contributing to our marriage (long term & short term planning, groceries, vacations, finances, vehicle stuff etc).  All that stuff is not on his radar at all, so whether it gets done or not, he has no idea.  I felt like an idiot for being resentful that he didn't notice me in this way.  How could I expect him to thank/praise me for something he has no clue about?  These things just flat out don't occur to him, therefore, to him they aren't "real."  I have been dumbfounded a few more times in this way, and sadly from what I've read, the blaming thing may never go away completely.  I think communicating well and managing other strategies will minimize it.   I realized that some of his suggestions to go enjoy myself in what I like to do is actually a test to see if I will choose that something over him.  The way the conversation happened, I was able to tell him I thought that was a manipulative, unacceptable thing to do and he hasn't done it since.  Perhaps when there is a moment for conversation you could ask a string of questions that lead to the obvious failure of his test and let him know how him setting you up makes you feel.  Again--boundaries.

These are just a few things that I found very helpful to my relationship, but everyone's is different.   My first step out of my worst emotional point was to make time for myself, even if I had to get up earlier or make an appointment to do so.  Start there and tackle on thing at time.  Decide to not take everything personally, (easier said than done I realize, but do try.)  Keep reading these forums and books finding out everything you can about ADHD and being married with it involved.  My marriage is far from perfect, but I think I've made significant progress in the last few months in my effort to keep my sanity and from running fast and far away.  

And yes, there is hope!


Following up on Hermie40's posts (and again, I'm assuming that you are the non-ADHD spouse),

First of all, Hermie is right on.  And I'm saying that as the ADHD spouse in my marriage.  Here's a little exercise...  Try making as comprehensive a list of 'household tasks' as you can think of.  Be fair, and don't 'pad' your side for effect.  (By 'pad' I mean, don't make 'opening the bills' 'paying the bills' 'driving to the post office' and 'mailing the bills' into 4 different tasks.  They're not, really).  Be honest and take into account the things he DOES do. For example,  I was raised in a house where I had to mow the lawn every week, so making that task a part of my adult routine was not difficult for me, since I already had  it in my muscle memory.  But my wife frequently won't give me credit for that, since she thinks I 'like' doing it.  Truth is, I don't.  But I DO get a sense of accomplishment and relief when it's done.  Same sense she gets when she does the bills, I expect.  But that doesn't mean she likes it.

At any rate, give him the list, and ask him to identify WHO does WHAT.  Do it nicely.  Don't be nag.  It can be - as Hermie pointed out - eye opening.  

Also, the person with ADHD typically has got to tackle issues one at a time.  Ask HIM to pick one.  Tell him you'll support him.  You're his friend, not his mom. And then do your best to be patient with him.  He not only has to learn how to do this new thing (and he will almost certainly require a strategy that is different than what you might do!) but he also has to UNLEARN old ways of dealing/not dealing with it.  It's ALWAYS twice the mental and emotional workload for one with ADHD to develop new behaviors than it is for someone without ADHD. 



fuzzylogic72's picture



FANTASTIC idea about the list, and letting him identify the work discrepancy. As the adhd partner myself, it's been refreshing reading your threads on here; your suggestions are practical, realistic, and most importantly, from years of experience with how NOT to be dealt with, I can tell the truly good recommendations that stand a chance of working on the adhd brain, from the fluffy ideas that sound good, but are more geared to a non-adhd way of perceiving things. Great to include the comorbid conditions angle, and advising caution around using assumptions rather than DSM-IV criteria. It's so important that our partners are clearly educated about this disorder, and focus on solutions rather than just partake in 'venting communities' (although venting is therapeutic, but both partners need to do so, then MOVE to SOLUTIONS). I appreciated reading that there are others like myself who understand the condition, and try to help others help us, and themselves. Thanks for your clarity and POSITIVE input!


boundaries really are part of the answer


I am not married to ADD so sometimes I think that I may not have as much perspective to make suggestions to those who are really hurting. Most of the time I just read and try to learn.  But I am so glad that you posted such a clear explanation of boundaries.  You are living it so you will be heard.   

I remember watching the female role models in my family do everything for the family including working full time.  I went into marriage believing that is what you do when you love someone.  So I allowed my boundaries to be non-existent, not realizing what I was doing to myself.  I especially liked it when you said

"Unfortunately it often means for non-ADDers that we have the lion's share of the work. If the things you do have responsibility for are difficult/stressful, try to think of ways to simplify them for yourself". 

It is possible to simplify if a person will just say "no" to things that are labor intensive and add stress to their life.  But many people don't take the time to really consider the "shoulds and musts" they play in their heads all the time.  they aren't willing to change the way they do things or give up things that are costing them stress. 

One more comment is that when people try to change boundaries they will get resistance, but over time the other person will adjust to the new boundary.  Keep us posted on other things that work for you.


I agree.  I have had troubles

I agree.  I have had troubles with boundaries myself.  I used to do everything then feel bad b/c it wasn't enough.  Silly.

My husband has shown he responds to boundaries... that is my shred of hope..... 



Oh, of course it's alright to say no; I didn't mean to relay that we should just suck it up and do it all, all the time.  Now my home is not as chaotic as some here but it would still be a bit "messy" (a fight) if I came home and just stopped doing a bunch of stuff cold turkey.   I found that easing in and out of stuff is a better way to inflict change in an ADD household, as you noted.  Change over time gives a chance for adjustment.  But still, there are just some things we have to hold on to for wisdom's sake, in many cases the finances, for example.  If this is stressful for part for her, then there are ways to simplify such as online bill pay and so forth. 

There is wisdom in your comments--thanks for being here!