Help: At the End of My Rope

I am so grateful that I found this website. Most of what I've read is very comforting, because hearing people's stories reassures me that I am not alone. I would love some feedback on my situation...

I have been married for 15 years to a man with ADD. I am at the end of my rope, and am tired of feeling like his mother instead of his wife. Everything he does drives me crazy, and makes me feel so unsettled, very unsupported, totally unimportant, and scared about the future. This is the opposite of what I want and need in a partner. That being said, he is a good man, loves his kids, and uses his extreme energy to work very hard (although he still manages to spend more than we make very month, always has and likely always will). We have built a life together that I don't want to walk away from, but I do not think that I can live with him and be happy at the same time. 

For years I have begged and pleaded for him to be more thoughtful and considerate, to act more like an adult and less like an overgrown child. To think before he acts. To consider how his behavior impacts others. But he always threw it back at me, claiming that he was fine and I was the cause of all of our problems (for example, I am "controlling" when I get upset about the $1200 tool he doesn't need that he bought at Home Depot when we are struggling to pay the mortgage. I have "issues" because I express fear for our safety when he forgets to lock our doors when he comes home late at night). We recently stumbled on his ADHD diagnosis when I, totally fed up with his forgetfulness, complete inattention to my needs and the needs of my children, and impulsive and reckless decisions that were quite literally ruining our lives, told him that I wanted a divorce, but was willing to try a separation with couples therapy if he would take a good, hard look at our marriage. He was willing, and we both started individual and couples therapy.

He was very quickly diagnosed with ADD. It was a HUGE relief, and I hoped that things would turn around and we could learn to live together and be happy. He is on medication, but often forgets to take it. He often misses his therapy appointments, but makes most of our couples therapy appointments, perhaps since I remind him the day before and day of. When we are in therapy, he always looks me in the eye and tells me how much he understands me and what I'm going through. Then, the minute we leave the therapist's office, he is off in his own little world again, making impulse buys that drain our bank account, leaving the doors unlocked and every light in the house on, leaving his dirty dishes in the sink and a trail of dirty clothes and garbage all over the house, and acting as if me and the kids don't exist. I feel like I have spent the past 15 years taking care of him, cleaning up his messes, and begging him to change. He says that he's trying, but no matter what he does and how much I beg, plead, or nag, HE DOES NOT CHANGE A THING. I have finally accepted that he will never change, even with the meds and therapy, and even though I cannot live like this. He is who he is, and I am who I am, and me + him = misery.

I have become an angry and resentful person. I am angry with him, and angry at myself for accepting my live in this emotional hell for so long. I feel like a single parent to our two children (one of whom has ADHD and is a real challenge, one that I must handle alone), and I have felt like a single mom from the moment my first child was born, though I didn't fully realize it until my second child was born). My husband has never been involved in our children's lives in a meaningful and thoughtful way, only in a superficial, fun-guy sort of way, when he's around. He is the fun parent, always up for an adventure, no rules or precautions, just one big party. My kids love him, and he loves them. I have learned to let go of the idea that he will be the kind of father that  I want for my kids. I have had to make up for a lot of neglect on his part. A big part of the problem is me: I am a very organized, cautious person and like to have things a certain way (neat, clean, orderly, and functional). I have high expectations of myself and those around me (within reason - I understand that everyone has limitations). I don't make decisions without mapping out the pros and cons, and weighing the possible consequences. He is the exact opposite in every way. When we met, I found his recklessness refreshing. Now that our lives are entwined and we have two kids, a house, and a life together, I feel trapped in a sinking ship. I want desparately to get out, but feel such guilt and sadness at the thought of divorcing him and raising my kids alone. It sometimes seems worse than living miserably with him.

I am not asking if I should stay or go, because I know that is a decision that only I can make, but I would love to hear thoughts from those of you who are or have been in a similar situation. I know I'm not alone, but certainly feel that way most of the time.

I believe so many of us have

I believe so many of us have been and still are in the exact situation. I know I am. Except my undiagnosed ADHD DH does not work. I believe I will eventually divorce him. I wish you peace!

You are not alone. I

You are not alone. I felt/feel just as you and only found this site myself a short time ago. Seems like many of us are leading very similar lives, are all fed up yet continue to stay due to children for 5, 10, 20 years. My H remembers his meds once/twice a week, those days are much better than the rest of the week. He realizes how much easier the day is yet just can't seem to remember them. he is so angry when he doesn't take them, i hate to be around him. We have the ultimatum talk once/twice a year, change or leave, things get better for a month and then right back to unbearable, same old cycle over and over.  I haven't seen anyone state this yet but I can't be the only one thinking it, I worry 'what if something were to happen to me',  i am the one who takes the kids to the Dr, school, helps with homework, makes sure they take their meds, EVERYTHING, i might as well be a single mom, as many of us feel.  It causes me stress to think this, but I don't know how my H would do it, probably wouldn't, they would all just slide through life, kids would probably drop out of school, never see a Dr unless they were very sick. if I divorced him I would not want him to have the kids on the weekend. There have been a few times that I left them in his care, and he forgot to feed them, or was asleep while they went in the pool, ignored them for hours while he was absorbed in his own thing, etc. its not safe. I feel trapped too.

Maybe "Some" comfort...

Regarding your H having to "Step-Up" if something were to happen to you (Which we will hope never happens) In almost everything I have ever done, school, work, home, vacation or whatever the crisis, I function like a machine. I know for a fact (with me) that I have a hard time doing things when I don't have to. ADD in me is a world of chaos and when any pattern develops, you just take it as a given because you need less to think/worry about. You "Think" they don't mind because they have done it the last three time, so I guess they always will?!?! There are things I do all the time. In my old mind, I never realized that my DW taking on something new/extra was a burden or she would ask for help, right?!? ADD Oblivion... Guilty of this for sure, but working to prevent future offenses. So I function at a Very High level when I am loaded up with Extra. My best semester's in school were when I worked Full Time or took an incredible load of classes. I could make A's in Physics and D's in Government. (One class interesting/challenging to other dreadfully boring/un-interesting) I can be the Best Employee with a demanding load and Not-So-Much during the times between projects. 

I have a "Real World" undiagnosed / un-medicated ADD Example for you. My DW had a chance to go to Europe with her dad and mom, several years before my diagnosis. She gone for 12 days during the school year and my DD's were ages 3 and 8. I still worked my demanding FT Job and handled everything at home (As I should be able to do) The key was that I knew this would be a challenge and I created a schedule for the week that I followed to the letter. Having a plan was a must for me and my DW, being the worrier that she is, I Needed her to know things were syncing like a well oiled machine. This was a period driven by the challenge, everyone said "Awe... How is YYZ going to do this without you???" and these comments always bothered me because, though I can be oblivious at times, I do a lot with the kids and around the house. All in all, if the ADDer is basically well functioning, I believe in a period of Needs they "Can" be counted on. I believe this because I can be counted on when things are on the line. ADD is different in each one who has it, so I'm sure results can vary. I just wanted to say this to hopefully give you "A little" piece of mind.

Funnyfarm... It seems a shame that your H does well on meds when he takes them, so how about a "Med" reminder on his phone set to go off after he is usually up, so the habit could form to make this a set thing in the morning ritual? For me, it's the first thing I do when I go to the kitchen to start the coffee ;)

Thank You.  That does offer

Thank You.  That does offer some relief. he is 'well-functiong' depending on the function, if its exciting or something he wants to do he will work/play until he drops. maybe because he knows he doesn't HAVE to do the boring things he doesn't, although the times that he HAD to do X because I wasn't home he forgot. Forgot sons PPT meeting, forgot Dr appt, forgot boy scouts, etc. I shouldn't worry over something that will hopefully never happen, but sometimes i just can't help it.    Meds-Yes it is a shame, i have tried notes, verbal reminders, putting it on top of his coffee mug, you would think that would be a clue, but he would move the pill box pour the coffee and walk out the door. Like he didn't even see it, or saw it but the light bulb of recognition didn't go on. I've said he is like a Train going down a track without any station stops. It took him a year to set a reminder for his Dr appts on his phone, which does help when he hasn't misplaced his phone...its almost funny, if it weren't so frustrating. memory and anger seem to be the biggest ADD issues for him.  We had the TALK recently and he has remembered his meds 3 days in a row, surprisingly there have been no fights in 3 days....wish he would connect the dots. Maybe thats the crisis thing you mentioned kicking it, the marriage being on the line, its a shame to have to give the ultimatum in order for memory to work. That helps a bit, not taking them makes me feel like he doesn't think our relationship is important enough to bother taking meds, but maybe you are right and when the crisis is over so is his memory for remembering.  For now I am enjoying the peace. 


Eerily familiar

When I first read this I was left wondering if my wife had written it.   She like you has got to the point where all she feels like is my carer,  and she is so very,  very angry and I feel.... well I feel the grinding wheel of past history comes around again... where everything I value turns to dust.
  I think things are irreparably broken,  that I have robbed her of promise and happiness.     You guys sound in a similar place. 

The thing is,  I can understand her anger,   I really can, I wouldn't live with me either if I didn't have to wake up in this skin  every day.  In a lot of ways, the best thing you and her could do is to save yourselves.   Fly away and  find peace.. there is none here, only uncontained fallout.     

For me I never notice things until the walls are coming down around me,  it's not until  the wreckage is unavoidable that I even see it.....and it always catches me by surprise, shock even... it's not any way to live,  and  I know that is not what the ones I love deserve. 
One of the hardest things is that I know my wife and  my kids are missing out, I'm like a husband/dad  shell,   vacant and absent.   And I know that  I'm missing out, and one lonely day I'll realise just how much I've wasted for  the sake of the meaningless endless back ground noise that just won't ever stop.   
My  wife harbors so much resentment because I am incapable of being supportive at the right time.... of just being there... to soothe,  to share,  to comfort.   
For all those moments that should have been shared special moments, much to my shame, she feels an intense disappointment  and she  feels cheated.
Functional partnerships are not competition,  but that is exactly what they are when you have to shout to be heard.
Picture that every flow of thought from  start to its conclusion requires concentrated exertion so as not to just become  random  noise.... that's how it is, and in that chaos, you are trying to be heard,  to be noticed, and to  be appreciated and  cared for,  loved, cherished and  adored.

I'm sorry that  you are in this place,  it sounds like a desperately lonely place to be,  and   for what it's worth,   my wife would share in most every  word of what you have written.
You and her need to escape,  else  two miserable people becomes four and there is nothing good in that.

I am feeling that way too

I read all the posts in this thread and have felt all of it in some way or another.

A little more than 6 months ago  I was furious, I was in so much pain, and I was desperate for help, to be free, for anything.  Then H started the medication.  We had 4 ish FANTASTIC months!!  Then it ended.  I'm the only one trying anymore, and I have even stopped trying as much.  All he does is pop a pill everyday.  Has no motivation to read, get counseling.  Even coming to this site seems impossible for him, though I have begged.  We MET Melissa, he really enjoyed listening to what she had to say, but all self help/self improvement has STOPPED.

I am so sad, so very ALONE, and I feel as though I tried.  Did every single thing AND MORE, to make this a marriage worth having.  I can no longer do it alone.


Sorry to hear about the effort stoppage on your H's part. Did anything happen around the time that things seemed to change? Something big to de-rail his attention to you? Do you think he feels bad about how he has acted for most of the marriage? Reading all the Non-ADDer posts was not easy for me to do, but I tried to push through because about 6 months after my diagnosis I really felt like my "Wheels were Spinning" like Dr. H describes in "Driven from Distraction", the next thing would be "Sliding backwards" and I feared I would do this if I did not start back on my ADD learning path. Stopping the Wheel Spin is on him, though... I hope he figures this out.

I hope things get better for you soon. 

Thanks YYZ

Thanks for your reply.  I do think he feels badly for all the years of pain and lies and disconnect, but he seems to only feel that way when confronted with the harsh reality of his actions/inactions.  Not for one minute do I think it crosses his mind at any other time of day I can't think of anything that happened, except that he just stopped trying.  I tried for about another month to keep talking, keep working on things, keep trying to communicate and work through and figure things out.  He just didn't, and no amount of me trying to talk to him is changing that.

Kids prom is Friday, Graduation is Tuesday the 26th.  I'm laying low until all this is over.  Then I suppose I will weigh my options and let him know I can't do this anymore.  I need someone to care for me, dote on me, love me.  I can't be his Mommy forever, or now a ROOMMATE.  He wanted me to put stuff in the past and try to have feelings for him and "want" him again, and I did everything to let him know this and he was certainly receptive.  Once we settled more into 'normal pace" and regular life came back into play, he was DONE. 

My description is that his wheels have stopped :(


I'm sorry your H is stuck. Prom and graduation must be stressful enough for you too. I worried after about 6 months that all the ADD stuff was just slipping into the past, mainly because my DW never really thought it was much to do with any of our issues, so I tried to keep reading, posting and being better at home. Surely better communication, memory and being less oblivious would be noticed over time, but I still don't know if she thinks it is true or not. We may be 1 notch above Room Mates, which is something at least. I know that is not nearly enough, so you being mommy or a room mate cannot be too appealing of a future. You seem to have made quite an effort to understand his ADD, but certainly seeing improvement should be the reward for understanding and patience.

Hang in there... Sorry about your Devils falling the other night. I was pulling for them coming back from being down 0-3 in the Cup Finals ;) 


LOL...had to read the Devils comment a few times before I understood it....SOOOO NOT a sports fan...LOL

Anyway, yes, it's stressful, especially because I'm thinking I have just a few weeks after graduation and they will be going away to school.  I cannot imagine what will happen then.

I do think the medication helped him tremendously, as well as MY change in attitude.  That carried us for a few months....then I noticed HE wasn't really doing anything other than popping a pill.  I pulled back a bit because I noticed things were going right back to the way they were, not talking not trying to make things nice,  and now it's as if not much ever really happened for the better.  I'm tired of being the one with the books, and the website and doing all the work.  Almost done with Codependent No More....a book recommended to me from posters on THIS VERY SITE....well, sadly, this book speaks to me in a way no other has.  I know the ADHD is HIS problem, HE has to act to be the best person HE can be, and not a damn thing I do or say will help or make anything better.  I have to start living for me, and not trying to "help" him.  Hopefully, he will "rise to the occasion" as they say, or he will be on his own.  Whatever happens now, and from that point on, is solely his responsibility and he alone is accountable for the outcome.  I have tried, cried, held on, let go, controlled, "let go", begged, asked suggested, forced, and NOTHING has EVER been the right thing.  I can't do this anymore.  I AM SO ALONE.


I think you should start watching hockey next season. Go to a game and you will get hooked (Pun intended ;) 

I know what you mean about time spent without the children buffer, auto-topic conversations. You seem to research everything and put in the effort. I sure try to do the same by learning about the ADD and trying to make things better. My efforts seem to be a bunch of Wheel Spin in regards to my marriage recovering. I know it takes time for things to seem better, but dang... We tend to do better with other adult friends around, but when we are alone, sometimes starting a conversation is so awkward. We had dinner before going to a wedding and it was pretty quiet, then my DW said "Well there is not much to talk about that won't pi$$ you off...". I was stunned because I usually say something that makes her mad and I told her there is not that many topics that pi$$ me off. I was mad because before the evening has really started she seemed to torpedo the evening in one stroke. What am I supposed to say to start a fun topic after this? We get to put on happy faces and go to a wedding and reception for 5 hours in this mood. What a waste of an evening??? Was this testing my communication skills or just a way to make sure I was as angry as she was, evidently? You are totally right about each owning their problems. I have ADD and my DW has Anger/Anxiety issues. 

Things have lightened up as we are about to go on vacation, which is good. Hopefully things keep trending that way. Maybe I need to read Co-dependent No More? I know SherriW sure recommends it. I seem to be stuck trying to figure out what I can do to make things better, but the target keeps moving. 

I totally agree with you, Alone Sucks...

Well then I am the same

I'm probably as bitchy as your wife is then, because I can easily see myself saying something like that.

We do ALWAYS seem to have words or get in a "snit" just before an event, or even just leaving the house sometimes.  Then, it's a LONG silent ride to wherever we are going and a very cold unfriendly night just as you described.  Lately, I must admit my husbands temper has been amazing though.  He was so easily Pissed off before, but now he seems to understand things more.  Realizing I am NOT THE ENEMY.  We do still have incidents as you describe, and I hate it.  

Was your wife always an angry bitch?  My guess is NO or you would never have married her.  Do you think she has just been conditioned to be one, as I feel I have.  It's all such a sad horrible mess.

NO Will not watch hockey.  I watch the World Series (or some of it) and The Superbowl.  That is the extent of my sports interest.  Lucky this is all hubby cares about as well.  Guess that is something good for our relationship :)


So... What stresses do you feel before going to an event? It seems like the conditioning has occurred in the last 3 years, since my diagnosis. We did not have a high rate of "Going out" failures before my ADD was discovered. You mention that your H's anger has been much better since he started his meds. So I take it that he had a quick temper before? I was very laid back and rarely got mad, but at night I would get grumpy and pretty impatient from being tired. After meds, these symptoms has improved dramatically. What has changed is how I react to little "Snippy" comments from my DW. If I heard them in the past I usually ignored them, but I believe most of the time I missed the comment or did not hear the comment as a jab. I do react to these now and the difference is that I will get mad about the comment, but not Angry yelling Mad. I don't know if I am explaining this well, but I get mad more frequently at fairly low intensity, instead of Rare high intensity anger. I think my oblivious mind left my DW thinking that I did not care because I did not react to things. I know she felt like she had to go Over the Top to get my attention about things.

Maybe these snippy comments and my reactions Now are the issue? This is a new dynamic in our marriage. My DW married a Laid-Back Guy, who turned out to be in-attentive and oblivious to many things that needed adult discussion. She became conditioned to getting angry to get my attention, then I shut down and she had to drag the conversation out of me. This must have been maddening to her because she thought my silence meant I did not care, not the case of course. Now I hear and react to comments that would have slipped right past me in the old days. The net effect on our relationship since my diagnosis is that I am not the exact same exact guy she married. Communication was the #1 Problem before we got married, because of the shut-down and silence, which is not the case now. She may have adjusted to this communication, then 13 years later it finally changes. We had emotional eating issues and always battled weight issues, but I was the one who gained Way more weight proportionately, now I don't "Seem" to have to fight the battle anymore. I know she fears the worst when it comes to relationships because our families set the "Crappy Marriage Standards". Our parents had affairs with people at work, divorced and married the other person. Now, I show unhappiness, lose weight, and seem to be wanting change and she is sure it is because I want a change in the partner department. I don't... I do love her... The LONG Silent Rides have to be avoided, so we must figure out a way for the evenings to start and end better.

I have to get ready for work and will try to get back to this later. Thanks for your comments NJ (Not watching hockey) Mom.