He says "I'm sorry, I'll try", but no change...

I'm writing for the first time hoping to receive some insight. My husband has ADD, takes meds and is aware of the challenges it has posed and continues to pose in his life. I have read all the books about ADHD and he reads them when things get bad and he feels he "should".  We have been to much counseling but he doesn't follow through and do or stick with the advice and tools he is given. When i explain the pain and anguish, he says he's sorry and he'll have to try harder. I know it's not about trying harder! It's about using the right tools, changing bad habits and working on it daily.  He says he wants a good marriage but doesn't do the work.  I'm the one that keeps fighting for our marriage and he is aloof.  As the cycle just keeps repeating itself, I've lost patience and hope.  Is anyone experiencing this?

I am everyday with myself. I

I am everyday with myself. I have ADD and am a woman.

You are a great wife trying to understand and learn your husbands diagnosis to help him, you and your marriage. But as you don't have the diagnosis I want to advise you to think twice and sometimes trice before you feel disappointed or let down by him. He does care. He does want to if that's what he is telling you. But just because someone informs you of these "tools" it doesn't mean that we have found the solution and everything turns around. Strict routines and facing habits is one of the keys to take control of ADD but if we are even struggling to listen to bodily functions such as having to go to the bathroom how do you think changing a routine that's been shaped and followed for years? It's so hard for us to find motivation and strength through the first weeks that it takes to slowly change routines and even though there is fantastic medication that makes daily life a little easier it is not a miracle pill (in fact I think all of us ADDers secretly feel a little disappointed after medicating). Sometimes I feel like I am standing beside myself, yelling at myself "Why aren't you even trying!?". That's how out of control I am, the ADD is beyond me, I have no authority. But sometimes I am so sneaky that I can master it.

Though Catherine, I understand you fully, that you are tired and heartbroken over the situation. I know what it feels like to feel like you're the only one trying in a relationship and you have a right to have these feelings and also to express them to your husband. The advice I can think of and tell you is to keep communicating to your husband and that you both, even though it's hard right now, try to keep a gentle tone without accusing each other.

There is hope. Keep talking. Listen to what he has to say. Your feelings are important, yes. And it is important for him to know how you feel but it is very, very important that you know how HE feels. So that you don't walk around thinking he doesn't even try and that is not true. That would be too sad.

You're so strong helping support your husband, remember that you need a breather as well. It can't be all about ADD all the time.


Keep Your Chin Up

I love Kippei's response to Catherine.  I'm a husband with ADHD.  My wife and I love each other VERY much but sometimes my behavior, i.e. lack of attention, impulsiveness, failing to remember agreements we've made, social alienation, etc. get the best of me no matter how hard I try.  This does not mean that I don't love my wife or that I don't want to change. 

I'm reading Melissa's book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage and everything thus fare is "spot on".  It describes exactly my behaviors and, more importantly to me, my feelings when I'm chastised by my spouse when my ADHD rears its ugly head.  I try all my wife's suggestions which sometimes work for me and sometimes don't.  Even the ones that work for me don't work consistently but I'm trying.  I'm often chastised and told that trying isn't enough which just makes me feel like, "what's the use in even trying?"  There is no celebration of any successes.  I have to create self satisfaction because I seldom get recognition from my wife.  Here's the kicker--I'm a very intelligent man yet I no longer feel as though I can do anything right.  I can't make any decisions on my own for fear of ramifications.  I have zero confidence in my own judgement any more.  I know this is purely due the the constant hammering I get from my wife. 

I read a lot of posts about non-ADHD spouses who are ready to divorce their ADHD spouses because of their behavior but I'm willing to bet there are many ADHD spouses who have thought about "getting out from under" too.  While the thought has crossed my mind many times, I'm much too committed and in love to go there.  I'm trying to get my wife to understand the pain she's causing me and how her demeanor is counter productive.  Having Melissa's book to share with her may be just the instrument I need to accomplish this goal.

Thank you, Melissa, for recognizing the need for such a book and for having the talent and fortitude to create it for us.

I think the two words that

I think the two words that work well for all of us involved is: VALIDATION and COMMUNICATION. Realizing that each one of us are entitled to the way we feel but trying to do it in a way that doesnt slam our partners, whom we love, is the only way we could get out from under the ADHD symptoms. Understand that your wife is frustrated because things are not happening the way she would like because try as you might, its just not happening. Well okay, so be it- go to plan b (get someone else to do it/hire help, switch responsibilities, check your meds to see if they need tweaking, talk, talk, laugh, love). At the same time, ask your wife to become better educated on what having this disorder could mean, go to chadd, come to this site, etc. So that she might better learn that it is not a personal intentional action by NOT DOING but a symptom of this disorder. This does not mean, as you can hopefully tell from reading these many posts, that things are unchangeable. What it means is that you two need to work on how to best handle this together to get what you need accomplishrd without letting anger and resentment build up on either side. Take it for what it is, as Haliwell/Melissa Orlov state: adhd is not an excuse but it is a powerful explanation. Take it from there.... Yes, it sounds as though you are a good, intelligent person with self esteem that has been shoved down, consider that the same may be true of your wife. Keeping on a cycle of blame (not what Im saying you are doing per se) only helps to enhance the mutual feeling of victimization- it does not help! My very best to you both... :)

There is a very fine line

There is a very fine line between 'blaming' your wife's criticism of you for your actions and helping her recognize that her anger and criticisms aren't helpful in any way. You cannot believe that if your wife woke up tomorrow and was kind, compassionate, understanding, and everything the opposite of angry and berating that it would stop all of your ADHD issues. Therefore, you need to focus on YOU and the work YOU need to do in order to start to peel away the layers of anger and frustration your wife is dealing with having dealt with the ADHD effect on your marriage.

BOTH partners need to be understood, accepted, and loved...just like lululove said...but this starts with each partner looking in the mirror and not pointing fingers at anyone but themselves. You will have to accept that your behaviors are partially responsible for your wife's reactions...and she'll have to accept that her reactions have made things 100 x worse. Then you need to work on your behaivors and she needs to work on letting go of her anger and focusing on the ADHD and how to make the marriage work for both of you. Stopping the blame game has to start somewhere....since you see yourself so much in the book examples...then why not let it start with you. Why not validate her anger, let her know that you understand that your ADHD had caused her pain and let her know that you want to change that from here on out.

You're making me feel just a tiny bit like you're wanting to wear the victim hat here...and there is no room for the victim hat in these situations. Everyone owns up to their issues and gets help to deal with them. Period. Read your first paragraph...read it 1000 times if necessary. Hear what you're saying...what you've done to your wife...and try and understand why she is who she is.

You need her love and acceptance too. She needs to let go of the past and look forward..as long as you're trying to change things and give her a different life..a different husband. I really hope you both are able to accomplish this together. Are you in counseling together? Is your ADHD being treated?

Sherry and lulu, and all the

Sherry and lulu, and all the other great non-ADD wives in this forum, it's time to pause.

There are very few diagnosed ADDers in this forum so there are very few posts by us. Now there was one from a man who shared his comments to my post. One ADDer to another.

I have been re-writing this responses a few times as I don't really know how to go about what I really want to say without it coming out the wrong way and have instead decided to point this out, please don't be offended by my response or take it the wrong way.

You are being so unfair. An ADDer is expressing how he is feeling and then he is being told by non-ADDers that he is wrong? This is what non-ADDers are doing in daily life as well to the ADDers that is one of the gaps. A non-ADDer can only be understanding to a certain extent no matter how open they are and this is one of those things where that is the most obvious. This person is clearly stating several times that he does love his wife, wants to try and wants to understand her. He is also clearly expressing that he knows that he is a lot at fault. However what he is saying is not a lie and I understand that as a partner who wants to be there, support and works so hard for the marriage you don't want to hear this. But it's just as true as the ways that we are hurting you. So many non-ADD wives in this forum are a lot of times very unfair in their posts, are acting like victims claiming they're the only one stressing and trying and working on the relationship, but the few ADDers out here in this forum we don't judge that as we understand the frustration/disappointment and also understand that the frustration is the source of the post, the focus point. This man's post is not different, it was about his frustration/disappointment. It feels like you both chose to take it personally instead of using it as one of those free tickets into our world. The harsh truth is that the criticism I have received from non-ADDers has had severe impacts on my life and is mirrored in my daily behavior. 

Please understand me and

Please understand me and Kippei, okay I am trying to hear you. I am sorry if this came off as judgemental, it was not my intention. Certainly Ive heard the same comment from my spouse, so I hear the validity in what you are both saying. So as a non-adhd spouse who is trying to understand how to get PAST the symptoms of this disorder so that my spouse and I can reach a better place, perhaps you can tell me: what is it that you, our ADHD partner (yes, I am inviting ALL ADHD partners to respond please) need to hear AND have happen so you dont feel put upon by us anymore. How can we connect and, hopefully, have some of our needs met also, while keeping you feeling secure and happy with yourselves as individuals? Let me repeat: thank you to all the people with ADHD who respond to our posts, they are so helpful and have explained so much for me...

There is absolutely no need

There is absolutely no need to apologize, we're here to help each other see things from the angle that we aren't in the right position for!

I really don't have an answer to your question. I myself feel that I am a little more sensitive than others. That my ADD has made me more sensitive to negative criticism than non-ADDers. I think it has a lot to do with always "failing" at everything and always getting to hear how I once again didn't manage to do something and here is the key: it's always something that the other person (the one who is not happy about it) is so shocked happened. It's no secret to us either how our behavior is shocking and we can tell by our spouse's reaction how uncalled for it was and also with teachers. I would one day turn in a great, short assignment in a subject and the next day when having to do something more craving (but the same subject) my results would be so different (as if I had gone mentally challenged over night that's how big a difference it would be).

So I scold myself for doing something stupid, then I get the extra from the people that were affected by it as well, it is just a huge slap on the self-esteem. Depending on who your spouse is too this can have different levels, how they use their words. Us women, we tend to be very lecturing and mommy like. While men are a little more harsh and short. Not everyone though of course.

This self-esteem issue is something for us to work on, no one can fix it for us. But maybe think a bit more of how things are being worded and maybe letting some things go. Instead of always lecturing about an undone task perhaps just stating that it's undone. Checking a little with your spouse and have an open communication even about the things that make you angry. In my case, the more I seem to not care about something I didn't do and the more tired and angry my husband gets from me disappointing him and putting up an attitude. The more I am actually suffering and regretting and punishing myself on the inside.

I can't tell right now if I am making any sense as my medication has worn off so please just let me know.
I also want to repeat what a help it is for me to hear your thoughts. It seems like a lot of times, the key thing to learn is exactly where we are unable to understand each other so we can be more patient and actually help each other.

With all due respect, it is

With all due respect, it is very obvious to me that you took my comments the wrong way.  I blamed NO ONE and that is just exactly as it HAS to be for anything to ever change n these marriages. I stand by my opinion that playing the victim, regardless of which spouse is trying it, stops possible progress DEAD IN ITS TRACKS. I frequently give the same advice to nonADDers...focus on AND COMMIT TO CHANGING that which you know is hurtful to your spouse. 

At no point did I tell him he was wrong..I was 100% honest with him about what I feel will give his marriage the best chance for survival. I have done and am still doing the hard, hard work of fixing ME..and my ADHD husband is doing the same. I am not giving my opinion from a place of inexperience..an ADHD or not, anyone can change, implement the resources neccesary to manage these marriages, but not until we get real about how to break the vicious cycles and stop the blaming.Do you really feel that it is in  best interest to blame his wife 100% for his lack of confidence in himself? Even if she contributes to it, it is still up to him to stop it.  

Since we're different people

Since we're different people we most likely interpret him in different ways. I re-read it all and I still don't think he is putting 100% blame on the wife. To me he is just responding to the specific thing that we were talking about, it was focused on marriage, spouse and the part in life that we are/have been married. If he was talking just in general about his whole life, ADHD history etc then maybe I would also see it that way.

I feel that we are saying the exact same thing you and I though just taking different roads there. Of course it's up to the person to change the self-esteem. It was and is up to me to change mine that I am 60% responsible for (the other 40% I think is my environment, the people that has been around me my whole life. I don't for one second say it was intentional though). But in a crucial moment in a relationship and in the moment of change, this particular problem plays a very big part. It becomes a bad circle try hard - fail YET AGAIN - deal with the feelings of failing yet again - having the person you love and who you are partially making the changes for also scolding you - become even more upset - normal human emotion response is to dramatically feel like everything is hopeless and why am I even trying.

At the same time spouse is going through his/her own emotional circle and it's just a full frontal collision.  

I agree...it is easy to take

I agree...it is easy to take things different as we're all different. He said his lack of confidence in himself was "purely" a result of his wife's treatment of him...and that is the main comment I guess I took issue with. Purely, to me means 100%. He cannot, for his own future happiness, continue to think that his wife is responsible AT ALL for any of his actions. We are solely responsible for ourselves and our actions.

Where I want to make it clear is that I'm definitely saying the "scolding" needs to stop as well as everything else. I always say that for years I didn't see my husband as a human being...God's creation. I saw him as a selfish,  man-child who didn't care about anything but himself..his wants always seemed to come before everyone else's needs. But I saw the light, I realized that I was to blame for MY way of thinking and my reaction to his ADHD (didn't know it was even ADHD at the time) and I knew that if we were going to stay married I HAD to listen to him and realize that even if I felt he was unfairly accusing me of being controlling and nagging...reality is, that is how he saw me and that is NOT how I want my husband to see me. So, see, I do realize that there is fault on both sides...but since HE was the one that posted, I gave him the advice I felt was best for him. If his wife would post I would advise her quite the same.

I give ADHDers a lot more credit than most here do, I feel..honestly. I think many think they cannot change because of this or that and I feel that with love, encouragement, and support ANYONE can change. No one is motivated to change by being treated like a child. No one is motivated to change by being made to feel bad about themselves. It just does not happen. Even as a non-ADHDer, I was unmotivated to change anything about myself because no matter how hard it seemed I tried, I always was made to feel like a horrible, controlling nag. Who wants to the person they are married to to feel that way about them?

It is difficult, and somedays even I worry, but for the most part with enough love and understanding from BOTH partners, it can be done. You should never be made to feel like you are being scolded. It is as damaging to the marriage as the ADHD behaviors themselves.

I realize that my post starts

I realize that my post starts and ends in a contradictory way...let me explain..

Yes, my husband made me feel bad about myself, but it was up to me to change how I let people make me feel about myself. I had to admit that I WAS trying to control him and that I did talk to him like he was a child. I was, essentially, guilty of what he was accusing me of. I justified it through his behavior...and that was wrong. I hated him feeling that way about me, so I changed ME. Now, he cannot honestly ever say that about me...because I am a different person. He does not accuse me of these things anymore...or only very rarely when he's really 'unraveling'. I didn't like how he felt about me, so I changed. He didn't like how I felt about him, so he changed.

The orignal poster needs to identify why his wife feels the way about him that she does and if he wants to, wants her to feel different, then he needs to behave differently. Does this make sense?

Hehe, I suppose it did in a

Hehe, I suppose it did in a way but I understood the point you were getting at. It makes perfect sense. I give this tip to a lot of my friends in regular relationships without any ADD etc. Like I said in my other post, no more of that teenage stuff. They wonder why me and my husband get along so well and truth is because we let everything but the enormous things go. In response I get "Why is it always me who have to change, why can't HE be the one that has to speak in a softer tone constantly?" well someone has to the one and now it happened to be you. He will hop on board pretty quickly. 

We speak very respectfully to each other, we're being patent and understanding. In return (I was the nagging wife actually.. though I should have been the lazy one) I feel so calm and happy. Now that I don't have to get worked up constantly and he is calm and responding very well to the way he is being treated by me.

:) This is why I really


This is why I really wanted to stress in the first post that I didn't want it to be taken the wrong way as I really don't think that you, or lulu either for that matter, are not getting it. I have missed his use of "pure" though. I think my "reading impairment" could be the bad guy on that. I do my best to keep up and read things properly before answering. Which is why I appreciate that everyone's so open and understanding.

Marriage sure is a struggle but sharing all the ups and downs with someone is so wonderful. Something that you're bringing up, about the non-ADDers and that I also think is wrong is how also us ADDers at times are just blaming the ADD and shrugging our shoulders at it. My ADHD is pretty badass but it can definitely be controlled to some extend and I intend to control every single millimeter of that extent.

As soon as both calm down, lowering their fists and their pride then an ADHD marriage goes pretty smooth. At least that's how I see it. I have Melissa's great book but for now it's in my bookshelf as an investment, I feel great knowing it will be there if that time comes but for now we're doing great just dropping the whole teenage garbage about who's fault it was and who can stay mad the longest.

Ok I am loving this whole

Ok I am loving this whole exchange in conversation between sherri and Kippei. It was my hope to hear the AdHD viewpoint clearly, not to diminish my own in the process and I think that has been accomplished. Hearing Sherri articulate so many aspects of the nonadhd view and have it compared to that of the adhd side is perfectly sensible. Both siides are true and though they do come different sides of the road it seems we are, are we not ?askng for the same thing?! Validation (hear my point of view and respect it, not necessarily agree w it) and communicate (how can we can work it out to each partners satisfaction?). Is it not interesting how even reading each others post can be misunderstood? All the more underscores how when we talk to our own partners of how important it is to take a moment/hiccup in time before reacting to what is being said. Jumping onto anger is the thing that can befuddle any attempts to reconciling an argument and i for one, am tired of it. To spend time fighting and not even fully understanding the others viewpoint. And lets be honest: we all seem to do it because our feelings and frustrations often (legitimately too!) run so hot! But it doesnt help. So that is why I asked: what is it that the ADHD posters feel would keep them off the anger/blame/ and esp the trigger defensiveness response so we could move on from there already? I wish some of the male adhd posters would jump in too (no offense to Kippei- you are so articulate!

The slightly humorous thing

The slightly humorous thing is that a lot of the problems being expressed on this forum I experience myself with my husband, but to a lesser extent. We might save a lot of time if we take into equation that they are also men. My husband jumps right to the defensive, angry, "hmph-team" as soon as I get on his case and he is far from ADHD and I noticed very quickly that it wasn't because he's a stubborn, selfish caveman but because I sound like my mom. So I changed my tone and way of speaking, just tweaked it and ever since he hasn't done this. If I forget and go back to my old ways, he'll be back in his armor. Phrases as "I feel like.." and a complaint followed by a long list of how much we did and how little he has done isn't recommended either. 

There was a very good post about this on a different board, a woman explaining that her husband was driving her crazy, being so rude. She had for two days been letting him sleep in while she was running the ship, taking care of children and the house work. Typical situation. She was okay with him sleeping in as their work schedules allowed this. After the two days she had prepared dinner while done everything else and asked him to do the dishes. To which he responded rudely and got pissed off and completely ignored her for the rest of the evening. But talking to her it turns out that the way she had asked him was a little different from how she thought she had asked him and we assumed by the tone of her post. It had gone something like this "Now can't you please take the dishes  afterward as I've cooked for this WHOLE family and been cleaning, taking care of the children, gone grocery shopping and taken care of everything all by myself for two days". To the poor husband who has had long shifts and just gotten up this is just a pure insult, she's basically saying "Since you haven't done anything I have a right to ask this from you". Being married to a man I understand the iceberg effect in a relationship however I think that her way of speaking has been a part of their relationship since the beginning. I know I have this in me and have talked like this in the past. Nowadays I know not to list the things that I have done unless he refuses to do the dishes for a dumb reason. Even though I am the diagnosed one in my marriage, I am still the most effective and hardworking one in this household. So this is why I think that maybe the husbands on this forum gets a small free ride from the diagnoses and maybe the wives are doing the mistake of just following the way that our mothers did it.

When I changed the way I asked my husband to do things I quickly got a response from him, he started to speak to me differently and it has been very rewarding!

Lol, say it isnt so?! The

Lol, say it isnt so?! The problem isnt adhd its they're MEN?!! Aww. Just kidding y'all. I think I kind of get what you are saying, I certainly have been guilty of the "you do this, cause I did everything else at home" comment. Granted, its TRUE, but I guess there are nicer ways to ask since he does work crazy hours for the most part. I need to think about this though because I still need him to do more with respect to our household (not fair I keep doing it ALL) and to have him understand that I do so much that I dont need to hear the kind of criticism HE doles out when he contributes appallingly little at home. It is frustrating: his irritability and intolerance of things are high esp when he is stressed (why is this sink dirty, why is this floor muddy- when they are not!) but his inderstanding of what I go through and my stress is not often understood but dealt w as "tone" and my criticism of him. The inequity feels so big but how to bring our responsibilities back to a more fair distribution is still a work in progress. Yes could some of it be because they are men and dont want to deal with this, or perhaps that I am giving him too much slack in rationalizing its the adhd? Ultimately, i realized, it doesnt really matter which reason it was. I find I need to pick my battes and if something really bothers me, we need to address it somehow. Very hard to do when its a topic DH doesnt care about (which then exacerbates the AdHD symptoms.). Really tired so dont know if this makes sense...

Of course you should give him

Of course you should give him the piece he deserves if he's acting the house king. If he walks around the house like the dirty police then you have my blessing to let him know just how NOT helpful he is. I also think you know what kind of situations and everything that I meant. My husband is also very sensitive when he is in an irritable mood, usually from low blood sugar (after work before dinner). Usually I just try to ignore him, distract him until dinner is ready with a shower or so but if he is being too obnoxious then I definitely get in there.
I've also talked to him about it when he's in a good mood, how being hungry, stressed and tired effects him and me and how we need to really be careful with that. He's been very positive to it all and usually he corrects himself right after he's been rude about chores for example saying "please don't listen to me, I'm so whiny because I'm hungry".

Maybe postponing the reaction on his behavior until when he is in a different state of mind could be helpful. Not permanently but as a try to apply a change. Not feeding him anything that could cause a fight or hard words at that moment but you write everything down so you can really remind him off this later when he's open for that. Maybe doing that a few times could open up his eyes about this part of him?

Also, I am a lot like your husband, I have a high intolerance with the house holding areas that my husband doesn't think really matters. We have divided it so that I cover those areas and the part of the housework that I don't prioritize and usually suffer in my ADD chaos but annoys the life out of my husband he is responsible for instead. This was my husbands suggestion and it's working really well actually, since I have problems as it is so doing the things in the house that I really dislike and don't think is that important is even harder. What do you think about that?

To me dishes are a no-no. I hate doing the dishes, it is so boring and has me tied to the sink for too long. So I am pretty good at postponing them and my husband hates a messy kitchen. So he does the dishes now and ever since it's been world peace in this house.

At those moments when he is

At those moments when he is so stressed and meds have worn off (ie end of day) there is no way any discussion would be good. He is irrational, raging and will say keep out of my way. In other words like an angry wild animal who warns you to stand back because he cant promise he can control himself. I step back, let him do his thing and I do mine. Its not nice, but I am trying to learn it is "not personal". He literally has no restraint at that point. I dont think explicitly writing things down would help to bring to his attention later since that would be CRITICISM and his defensiveness kicks in big time. But I do bring in the request, say the next morning (freshly medicated and rested) to try to act kinder despite the stress. Anything more would be not helpful - and I think he does hear it. No it is not emotionally fulfilling to be treated unkindly because of someone elses stress, esp when its your partners. I am hoping couple counseling will open up a better line of communication. I am trying to make greater efforts to find my own life fulfillment and that of my kids right now. And to accept that his journey is his own- to take responsibly or not...its his ultimate decision (adhd or not). Never easy.... :( but I am growing as a person (i think) :)

Yes you know when the timing

Yes you know when the timing is right, the next day was kind of what I had in mind. I think sure it's good that you are both aware of how he gets when the meds wear off however I don't think it can be used as an excuse. Maybe he doesn't but I got the feeling from your post that he does. So people just have to stay out of his way. In my opinion, when I am like that (it happens but not daily) and feel I can't control my anger and will just ruin everyone's day then I should be the one pulling away and staying away not the other way around. If he is aware of this state then he should work harder on trying to control it and maybe he should try an energy source. Of course coffee isn't a good choice if it's at the end of the day closer to bedtime but fruit or something similar to give the brain extra quick energy might be a good thing. Depending on how sensitive his sleep is he could eat/do different things?

I think you're definitely growing! ADHD suck most of the time but it has taught both me and my husband a lot. About people and about us and each other. How to open up and really try to read and understand other people. Very good that you do put yourself in the first room together with your husband and your children. There should be an even balance!