Here we go Again...What do I have to do better to get off this ADHD Roller Coaster with my Spouse

Im finding these Blogs terrifically insighful and Melissa, I perceive you to make a lot of sense, so heres my details...Any insight you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Have been married for 20 years & my spouse told me he is going back on his ADD meds....Why he ever went off, I do not know, but he obviously think he was getting better....NOT.... He was in therapy  while on meds the  last time....getting individual help, but he never discusses his indiviual issues with me, so I have no way of knowing what was effective or not.... I assumed he liked the Dr several years much to my surprize when he mentioned to me last week he didnt like the original Dr., didnt click with him, office was too messy etc.....Talk about a delayed response as to what you feel....This is typical....

My husband is very reactive, and makes decisions based on if it " feels good". I feel he is not able to identify what worked or did not work during the time period on meds. he is reactionary..Not impulsive  but reactionary to feedback, criticism or being challenged. We look at things very differently. Has one therapist tell us...You two arent on the same page....You arent even in the same library .....

Lovely man, father to our 3 kids, and has a heart of gold to help anyone, does chores is mostly responsible  has the same job for the last 12 years, but has battled focus issues all his life...Also has depression and anxiety running in his family.   He got diagnosed with ADD 7-9 years ago,  took various meds Concerta, Strattera etc.... He has little abliity to plan, prioritize or move forward on anything substancial....He cooks, cleans, shares home chores, is on time to appointments, but get him to plan a vacation or anything or  make plans to go after a new job,,it doesnt happen....He cant identify sequential steps and gets lost in the details. Nothing materializes....He talks alot about what he plans to do, but Ive gotten my hopes up so many times to no avail.. He talks about starting a business, but he hasnt demonstrated the skills toward doing this to take him seriously... I honestly feel sorry for him, and our relationship hangs on a thread constantly....Ive been hurt too many times....

Im organized, process focused, multi task,get it done type of woman( Yes opposite attracts yes?), so his behavior is frustrating and intolerable to me... I see him talking in circles over and over and never really getting to the root of the problem to hold himself personally accountable on  any particular issue. To grow and develop he needs to take action..He has problems making decisions, and when he does... he tend to react, getting poor results. He is also not good at "reading" a situation or my emotions...Has known me for 23 years, but reacts to my emotions...Doesnt know me enough to be able to "read" me well. Its sad.

When asked over several months, Ive even sat with him and diagramed out the pattern of behavior he is stuck an effort to help him as he requested.....also given suggestions on developing to do lists, for follow up.. The problem, is he never brings it up again. He doesnt ask for help, or to discuss progress, it just dies....

This is absolutely frustrating to me, and Ive definitely detached because each time he gets frustrated and commits to doing better, and it doesnt happen. There are other issues at play here.

His personal workspaces are cluttered with papers and infomation he cannot process through. His car, dresser, workbench in the garage. Maybe once in a while he cleans it all  up, but its more in response to an argument we've had. Ive learned he doesnt respond when I ask him nicely....He jumps when there is an argument between us.   (He grew up in a conflict avoidance environment,so when I get angry, his conditioning response is to take action and get things done)..The problem is when the tension lessens, he goes right back to a complacency pattern until the next marriage eruption. He doesnt want to be made to feel bad, but he doesnt make himself accountable for followup.....

Our communication is not terrific as I feel he talks in circles without action,and Ive tried to detach and position personal accountability for his own issues...I waffle from total detachment to trying to reach out to him to provide support but admittedly pull back when I dont see results and follow through....Anger doesnt work, support doesnt work....Im going in circles and not happy.

Rather than just going back on Meds and doing the same thing over and over, I asked him what is going to be different this time, so he increases his chances of success?   If I ask him challenging questions, he is HIGHLY DEFENSIVE and doesnt like to be put on the spot...Has issues with weak self esteem..If I give him plenty of time to get back with a response, he rarely does....He makes attempts to develop lists, but 2 days later he doesnt follow them.  I dont feel he has a lot of personal introspection to look inside himself to be truly honest...about what is going on..Maybe he truly doesnt know....but the what does therapy do if a person  doesnt learn from it.

My ideal situation would be to have him speak up and to ask for help when he is struggling, because at least I      know he is trying to figure things out... He doesnt do this...

Ive  made the suggestion to join  a  local ADHD group for him to talk to other ADDers and to get personal recommendations on Dr's, therapy, coaching etc...I'll know by the end of the month if he take the suggestion and follows through....

Is it unrealistic to expect him to understand what worked and did not from 4 past attempts at therapy so he isnt going back in this viscious circle again and again....Otherwize he has wasted a lot of time and money getting help in therapy, and still doesnt have a good understanding of the key issues...

Melissa, Can you please help me get off this ride as Im dizzy, unhappy and frustrated to be going down this rabbit hole again without success..

Thank you & Many Blessings,






I read the ADD transcripts from Dr. Phil and then clinked on a link there to get to this site. I am an ADD spouse and as I started to read some of the things I became overwhelmed and relieved to the point of tears. This is what I have been going thru with my husband of 3 1/2 years. Lately I just want out of the relationship but I don't want to abandon him. I have given him almost 4 yrs of chances. Its like the man is single. He will leave with his friends and not come home until the middle of the night or next day. I cannot get him to contribute to the bills, his bank acct is always overdrawn (Needless to say I got my own). He does not let me know how much money he has. He is very secretive about that. He will also not let me know what he spent it on. I cannot get him to do anything around the house. He starts projects and does not finish them. He is very irresponsible. We have a 2 1/2 yr old daughter and I get frustrated, overwhelmed and angry because I feel like I have 2 toddlers instead of one. I feel overburdened at 46 years of age. My question is and I am alittle embarrassed to ask this but are ADD people/spouses capable of domestic violence due to the illness? Yes this is another reason I am ready to throw in the towel ladies. Its not like black eyes or anything like that. Bumps and bruises at first but now it has progressed to him body slamming me at my age. This has happened twice. I have insisted that he look into anger management classes or both of us go to marriage counseling. He said he would, two weeks later I am still waiting. He does drink alcohol which compounds the situation. I am the one getting physically hurt and yet he acts like he is the victim. I am ready to get out of this marriage because of this, I know I need to look out for my health, but wonder now knowing what I have read about ADD if that is why he is acting this way? And yes I know that if they hit you once they will hit you again. Is/Has anybody else gone thru simular circumstances and can this situation be remedied? He has never been diagnosed by a doctor but he has a daughter and son from previous marriages that have been. Please advise... Sue in Texas

Body Slams in Texas

It doesn't matter if it's ADD or not.  If he's pushing you around physically it's time to get out.  If you want to give him another chance after he can prove that he no longer drinks and has gotten help for how he treats you, then that would be up to you (though I would say that the other characteristics don't sound promising, either).  Anyway, I ALWAYS draw the line at physical violence.  Leave and stay safe.


If you are up for a small investment, I would like to work with you to create a better plan (and with him, if he'll do it).  I'm going to start taking clients in Sept for marriage consulting and from your description it sounds as if you are the type of couple I might be able to help.  Details will follow within a few weeks (will be posted on the site) if you are interested.  I'll be charging by the hour ($125 which also includes a detailed conference report I write after the hour for follow up purposes).

If you're not interested, I'm not at all offended, either, and will write some things here (but can't be in such detail as calls, obviously!)


I'll do it for $120.00!!  jk 

i'm all for getting help. Especially if he is willing.  if he's not, don't throw your money away.  Then there is the problem with the willing to get help ADDer that will usually forget the plan, the meds, the list, the anniversary, the dog leashed to the car, and what the doctor had to say.  I think we are mostly like addicts.  We are addicted to an unfocused life.  i was a dad that would inspect rooms and if they weren't clean I would put them on restriction and ground them for the weekend.  That would be on Thursday and by Friday I had forgotten I grounded them.  Since they too were ADD they would also forget.  All my kids would forget their lunch so we were coached to let them go hungry and THEN they would remember thier lunch.  NOT.  They learned to bum food from their friends.  They ate better lunches than anybody in school.  One kid had his mother make an extra sandwich for our middle child.  it's funny to me that I never forget what time the college football game starts or what time we T off on Saturday.  But I forget to do what is not fun and interesting.  I forget about my daily responsibilities on my job.  But I don't forget to meet the guys for lunch.  I foget to cut the grass and floss my teeth but i don't forget where the m&m's reside.  I forget to feed the dog but not my face.  I'll lock the door and turn out the lights before bed time for 37 days in a row then will for some reason stop doing it for 6 months.  Most of us will stop and help people on the side of the road but will forget your birthday.  We will talk to friends for hours and offer good advice but forget to flush the commode.  We are highly  sensitive to criticizm and hate taking any blame because if one ever allows himself to see just a glimpse of the truth about thier life, the floodgates of guilt and shame are opened leaving you sitting in depression and a self loathing stuper wondering why you were ever created.  It is an extreme life.  it appears we either see ourselves as never to blame or all to blame.  We despise routine but desperately need it.  We resist any thing close to a structured and disciplined life but the happiest ADD people fight hard to live within boundaries.  I have been on and off medication for 20 years.  i have spent thousands on counseling.   I've even had moments when I had the counselor asking my advice. Sometimes we seem brilliant!  Mostly we feel dull!  Then add living with an opposite like yourself that has clear thoughts and actually plans the vacation and what to wear to the game we recoil because we feel utterly stupid and act like our plan is to not have a plan.  I think that pride, laziness and selfishness is heavily mixed in this disease.  I wish there was a pill to take or a clinic to attend tha would profoundly change the direction of the ADD life.   i have repented and have sworn to do better more than Mother Teresa.  The first step as you know is to admit there is a problem. Then mustering the courage to do something about it is a pretty big leap.   It is truely the road less traveled.  I say pray for your husband every day.  That is what has helped me more than anything along with adderall and zoloft.  I'm going to lock the door and turn out the lights now...and flush.



reply to Mike G

This fits my husband to a "T".  What is your take on why most ADDers balk at the thought of having structure and discipline in their lives and fight against it so much?  My husband has accepted his ADHD but doesn't seem to want to take the steps to promote some peace and happiness in his life....  About the only routine he can follow through on, is getting himself out of bed in the morning!  He wings it every day!  Even plans that "he" makes for himself are very rarely followed through with.  I pray for my husband daily and sometimes even throughout the day.   

My Take

From my view, I think their are levels of ADD.  I also believe ADD is a handicap of the brain.  I was just telling my wife that had she married a guy with polio she would have gone into the marriage knowing her husband would never walk like other men.   No one would expect him to try harder to walk.  He would have to live in a world where healthy legs are prevelant but would learn from an early age how to cope and adjust to his handicap.  The attratction a woman would feel toward the guy with polio would be his courage, resolve and mental toughness to overcome.  ADD guys have usually developed coping skills that doesn't develope character and integrity.  We are usually witty, creative and charming.  We can seem confident, likeable and fun.  Depending on the level of ADD some can have thriving successful carrers because they have learned to surround themselves with detailed people that delivers what he promises.  We usually live reckless lives and are risk takers.  Women are attracted to the personality.  When they marry the wife is one of the detail people that he leans on to survive.  The difference is the people at work don't have to go home with him.  When dating she gets the best of him.  The charm and romance is exciting and magnetic.  After a few years of marrriage she no longer gets them best of him.  When he becomes bored or frustrated at work he doesn't feel self respect so he will take out his frustration on his wife by demanding more sex, venting, moping around with a bottomless pit of need for approval. Sex is only a quick fix.  The self respect is not filled becuase of his inability to focus or achieve.  And even if he has achieved success in his job there is still this feeling that there is something better out there that will be more fullfilling.  That is why many ADD men have sexual affairs, become addicted to porn, gambling, alcohol, golf, fishing, or whatever brings him immediate pleasure or the feeling of self respect.  The levels of ADD are quite different.  I use to read stories about famous people with ADD.  Jay Leno, J.F.K and of all people the apostle Peter.  That was a stretch even to me.  We all try to find someone like us to be the measuring stick.  Many great actors have ADD.  They can work on a movie set for short periods of time then move on to the next project.   But most of them will change wives as many times as they change movie sets.  Marriage is hard enough without a surprise handicap.  If you read my first entry you read that my wife had a nervous break down last summer.  To actually realize I played a major role in that is a double edged sword.  It makes her feel better for me to confess my role but the guilt and shame i feel is quite heavy especially when i can't look and the mirror and scream " do better" and change the handicap.  I use to think ADD and depression were 1st cousins.  I now think they are twin brothers.   Even as I write this I think "i sound so negative and don't offer much hope".  So please remember this is only my take from where I am today.  Your husband is handicapped.   If he is like me he has little self respect and to admit fault and weakness is dangerous to the soul.  It is ultimately the only way to heal and hopefully one day his eyes will be opened.  I realize this is a scatter brain writing but i do want to say i am blessed.  My daughter just asked me a question.  Hearing her say "daddy" warms my heart and helps me to be thankful for God's sustaining love.  My son texted me a few minutes ago.  He's 26 and it's Friday night.  I have much to be thankful for.  My wife has lived with more mercy and grace than I can explain.   I do think that even handicapped people have boundaries.  He's got ADD but he's not an idiot...just acts like one.  I don't know if i answered your question but it was good therapy to write about myself.  


My Take

First, I hope your wife continues to get better.  She is lucky in that it appears you are facing this disorder head on and realize how badly it effects "everyone" involved.  Again, your take fits my husband to a "T".  This is our life, so far, too.  Thanks for the reply.


You are spot on MIke G !


Keep posting Mike G..... I find your posts more insightful especially of your awareness of  your ADD and dealing with it....I'm the Non ADD spouse.....ITs my golden dream to have my ADD spouse have more self awarenss rather  as you mentioned.....   This is so very true "If he is like me he has little self respect and to admit fault and weakness is dangerous to the soul.  It is ultimately the only way to heal and hopefully one day his eyes will be opened.  "

He's open to help, meds etc....but the self awareness thing is a big missing piece of the puzzle....


I agree that there are different levels of ADD. Im wondering is my  spouse has "ADD medium to light:  "My ADD spouse does household chores, doesnt forget his keyes, remembers to pick up kids, and generally is responsible, isnt impulsive....Is kind and caring.....He just gets overwelmed when too much is on his plate, cant prioritize, cant plan, cant execute a plan as he gets distracted with all the other things going on in his daily weekly life...Theres not a lot of room for vision and planning a life together....


My  visual analogy is  like this:   Both of us see a beatiful exotic island in the distance that we agree we want to get to...( ie Marriage utopia)....Im in one rowboat  and hes in another( we are towing our 3 kids too )....While one of us is focused on  the course to the island....My spouses boat is sometimes on track, making sure our kids are safe and on track rowing, other times spinning in circles, sometimes I have to tow his boat behind me to keep it on track, as it goes off course.... His boat is straying off course, so we both get SOooo tired of rowing and cant get to the island..... I feel I have to always chart the course and check the Map so our boats are moving  together rather than getting caught in big waves and taking on water....

In other words, My dream would be to have my spouse admit his boat takes on water at times..and ask for help to " plug it" so can ultimately stay on course to the island....Big Task.   Im not even sure he would get my BOAT analogy....


Ive come to reframe  how I look at ADD since Ive  read posts on this site.... Its OUR problem, rather than just....Before I wanted him to be accountable for HIS ADD issue. His....I dont want to shame or blame...anymore...It didnt work....The self awareness and reaching to me for help would be a big step....Were both hesitant based on past behaviors and  weak. results....


He did follow up and went to a CHADD meeting last week, but I never hear about it....After several days Ive asked him to write me an email telling me about it, especially if hes uncomfortable talking to me person to person....I havent seen anything yet.... Sent him a Text telling him how proud I was he followed through to set up the meeting.. No response.....Any insight as to why I get no responses??? even when I ask kindly and politely

Im trying...... I need sharing , feedback and insights into his world and brain....


Keep writing. ...If its good therapy for you....Its certainly helping me.....and giving me hope.....


All the Best & Many More  Blessings.


I agree!

Please keep posting, Mike. You are very concise and articulate. It is fascinating and helpful to hear you point of view. Thanks for sharing!

I agree, too!!!!!!!

Please keep posting, Mike.  It is good therapy for all of us, ADD and NON-ADD. 

Any insight as to why I get no responses???

I acutally wrote a response last night but my adderall wore off and I started to fade.  My thought on why you get no response is based on your boat analogy. I write from an extreme ADD point of view so this may not be the case at all.  Sounds like you are the goal setter, the organizer, list maker, educated and accomplished.   The boat analogy is brilliant and may tell you why he goes silent.  He may feel inadequate compared to what you can accomplish.  i think most men want to feel a sense of leading the family but when your wife can paddle faster with more efficency it does fell like you want to take your own boat...always having to wait on us to catch up.  We want to get to the same island... in the same boat.  The silence may come from feeling like he's being quized by a parent.  I know that my daughter and I have the same level of ADD.  We don't take constructive criticism or reminders too well even when the questions or suggestions are kindly spoken.  We already feel irresponsible and that we will never measure up.  It sounds like your husband has a mild case but still has some feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment about his limitations compared to yours.  i have been driving through the same neighborhood for 30 years and my wife will still point which way for me to turn at some of the intersections because I have actually turned the wrong way.  i would get so angry for her doing that yet I see now how utterly frustrating it was for her to ride in a circle.  No man wants to be corrected but the ADD guy has a much shorter fuse.  Again he may be interpreting your question about his CHADD meeting as a correction instead of an encouragement.  

Today as we were leaving church my wife pointed for me to turn right.  For the first time I didn't get made... but it helped that she didn't roll her eyes when she pointed.  blessings

No Responses from Husband: Bingo !

Mike G.....

WOW...... Yes Im a move it forward, make it happen. never quit, type of woman... I have dreams, goals and a vision for where I want to go.( I grew up in a single parent household with little direction, money or support....If I didnt learn how to figure things out. for myself, no was there to).......This is a double edged sword sometimes...One strength can also be a weakness and vise versa.... but I dont tend to think of my personal "drive" as intimidating, but yes to some it may be... I can assure you it was an attraction for my husband( opposties attract)... Once an its difficult to deal with...

 My husband definitely has feelings of inadequacy, feels like he is" bellittled"( his own words) if he feels you are talking down to him, and admittedly the parent- child relationship is evident in our marriage. I recognize this doesnt help and would love to  respond differently to help him with these feelings...I have to actively work on this hourly when I am around him, as I can look at him the wrong way, and he gets defensive.....Other times, he blows it off, and laughs it off....You just never know......I have never met a more defensive man than my husband...Relationship Stifling....Im sure  the root being driven back to his childhood playground days....

 Never the less, he isnt really aware of the " triggers" of these emotions and we go down the same " rabbit hole", getting the same results..( Similar to you recognizing when your wife is going to start correcting you when you drive down the road.".... Are ADDers not able to say ?" time out" ,I know my wife means well, and Im not going to try a different way to respond this time.....Congrats on catching yourself this time on the driving directions with your wife.... Thats what I mean,.....You saw it reacted differently by catching your response,and got a better output.... I'm sure its not easy..Its a level of consciousness to not repeat the same patterns....

  I think its about awareness on both parts...You are highly aware and insightful .....Blessings.... Every time I get vulnerable and pour my heart out to him to share feelings etc to get him to open up, it falls short...No response.. I used to think he didnt care but I know he does...Ive learned to calm down and tell myself...He does care, he does care..... I think the inadequacy is spot on....He doesnt know how to respond so its silence..

 Had the same response several years ago, when I bought a book on the 5 steps to intimacy.....Had a sense we were on different playing fields here....Not a lot of emotional connection,. Opened up and asked him to read the book together.... No response.... He hinted that he felt inadequate about being emotionally connected... Physical imtimacy, all works there...I guess he feels competent!


Now when I dont know what I am doing, come hell or high water I work to figure it out...Doing nothing is not an option( Im still trying to figure out the ADD  marriage yes?)....For my husband though, it si different. I suspect he churns which drives the inadequacy, thing....We are wired differently...

 Ok all you males with ADD who are highly insightful...How do you get to and address all those years of inadequacy ,embarassment and nasty feelings, when you have a well meaning spouse who wants to help?....I just cant  do much if he wont share  those yucky feelings and open up.....Its frustrating to see the same cycle and same pattern and get the same results....Therapy hasnt gotten him there either....How did you get to your heightened level of self awareness??

Regarding the CHADD meeting, I even sent him a text telling him how proud I was of his follow up...No response...Ill keep trying.....

 Let me exhibit patience (admittedly not my best quality)...and keep  dolling out positives..Ill committ to diligently  keep it coming for the next 4 weeks.....Maybe repetition helps Im sure...... This is awfully hard.... but I appreciate your insight.....Im hopeful.....My goal is to have my husband and I to hopefully transition from a TUG boat to a Sail boat.....someday.....Some days we sail , most days we tug.... as long as we dont head toward the Navy Destroyer.....Its too ugly then....

 This is very funny...I roll my eyes all the time LOL....Its one thing me and my ADD husband can actually laugh about together!. So for one ADDer Rolling eyes is a laughable moment, and for another it makes you mad...... Interesting....

 Thank you so much for your insight....You can awake or sleep knowing you are making a positive difference !

 Prayers & Blessings & Many Thanks. I feel like big weights are being lifted from my shoulders knowing that others face similar issues and the sharing is very powerful...


eye rolling and other hilarious things

I love that eye rolling has totally different responses and Mike/AJR, honestly, I have had fits of laughter over some of my boyfriend's forgetfulness! We call him THE BLOND. He has Blond moments which for the most part we can both laugh at, sometimes I think that people around us think we are crazy because he's done and said things that have just put me into fits of laughter!

At the end of the day we do our best to keep things on the more humourous side when we can. The one thing that I love about my ADDer is that when he gets it, he really gets it! I have to remember, in order to make a change you have to do the same thing 28 times before it becomes second nature. I try to give my boyfriend a break and remember this when we have our bad days and no communication.

28 times people, 28 times.


Breath of fresh air


Your posts are a breath of fresh air. It's so easy for me to focus on the negative aspects of my relationship since my husband and I are at the very beginning of starting to deal with things. Your posts are refreshing and a great reminder to try to see the bright side of things. I need to remember that sometimes! Keep it up!


Today was a good day for us so I'm feeling optimistic. I'm realizing that it doesn't matter if you are with an ADD partner or not, relationships are always hard and I like to try to keep it fun if I can regardless of ADD.


arwen's picture

why no response

Mike gave a great answer.  I have a couple of other thoughts.  (My spouse has ADD, I don't -- we have been married almost 35 years, and he also has Seasonal Affective Disorder to make things more "interesting".)

I almost never hear from my husband what goes on at his counseling sessions.  Although I've asked him, and he's agreed, to tell me when either his counselor or his neuropsychiatrist (who prescribes the meds) make any changes in his routines/meds, he almost never remembers to let me know.  It's not something he really wants to be aware of.  So unless there's some really pressing reason I need to hear about, I let it go.  I don't want him to feel like he has to hand me his homework or sign his report card.  I often think it would be nice, helpful to have a better understanding of what's going on, I often think his progress would be greater if I could work in concert with his counselor, but my experience has taught me that I can only push on so many issues and no more.  This one doesn't seem to me to be important enough to fuss over.

You sound a lot like me -- a very goal-oriented person.  To use your boat analogy, not only was my husband frequently not even *aware* his boat was taking on water (so how could he possibly admit it?) during our early years, he was frequently rowing in the opposite direction (and equally unaware of that).  The entire concept of a goal was something his mind just didn't even encompass.  I found that as long as I insisted on trying to keep us headed in some particular direction and making progress, we got nowhere and I was chronically disappointed and frustrated that all my efforts had been for nought.  Instead, I had to learn to understand how his mind worked, what it could and could not be aware of, what it could and could not deal with, how much and for how long my husband could reasonably be expected to remember things, and under what conditions, etc etc.  I had to worrk with him to reduce the biggest negative impacts of his behaviors to our ultimate goals.  Then, based on that knowledge, I had to guide our situation so that it became more difficult than it was worth for him to remain unaware, or to row in a different direction. I had to learn to work *with* what he could do to still bring about the result we both desired.  When he absolutely insisted on doing his own thing, I had to work with that the best I could to still bend it towards our mutual goal.

Before I learned to do this, I would discuss things with my husband, negotiate (in perfectly good faith, on both sides) some agreement, and then expect him to "live up to it".  What almost always happened was that he would not, because (1) he'd never really understood the context I was talking about, even when I explained it in careful detail (2) he hadn't really been completely in agreement when we negotiated, but I *sounded* so rational and it all seemed to make such good sense, he didn't see how he could protest, but (3) when push came to shove, he would act on his feelings about it instead of what we had agreed on and let himself forget all about our negotiation, since it wasn't important to him anymore. 

In my experience, the typical ADDer is *not* a goal-oriented person, and even when they have goals, they are not contemplated like you or I.  The goal tends to be either very simple and short-term, or very vague and indefinite.  The idea of making a *plan*, of taking *steps* to reach a goal can be an enormous effort and even terrifying.  If you approach his counseling, his CHADD meetings, his meds as steps to a goal, he may find it very off-putting.

All of these can be reasons why you are not getting responses.  My suggestion would be that you simply ask the kind of questions that an interested friend would ask.  "How did it go?"  "Did you meet anybody interesting?"  "Was it a big group?" and see if he opens up at all.  If he thinks you have some agenda, or that he has to "report back" or demonstrate regular progress as a result of his activities, it may make him feel like he's on the spot.   Give him some space about it for a while.  Keep in mind that you have been at odds about his behaviors for a while, and precisely because he probably is not as self-aware as you, it will take him longer to understand that things have changed.  It will help to show that you care and are interested, without any specific agenda, but it will take time for that to sink in.

Here are two insights that have helped me understand *my* ADD spouse's brain:

(1) His memory is like a container with an open bottom.  Each new thing he has to remember goes on top of the previous thing to remember.  Each thing to remember stays in the container because of friction along the container sides. But when the container gets full, and he is asked to remember yet another thing, he'll happily push it on top of the last thing, *and the bottom-most item falls out of the container and is usually gone forever*.  There's no way he can put a bottom on the container because of his ADD, and trying to get him to check to see if it's full would be like trying to untie the proverbial Gordian Knot -- he wouldn't know how to go about it, it would probably take forever and half of the container's contents would probably get lost in the process, lol!  In my husband's case, the stack is a little smaller in winter than in summer because of his SAD.  So, I must try to gauge the stack myself, and pick and choose wisely what I ask him to keep in his mind!

(2) In addition to everything else, my spouse is red-green color blind.  He can see blue and yellow OK, but everything else is varying shades of grey-brown.  He interprets colors appropriately because he's been told that certain things are certain colors for many many years;  when he doesn't know, he interprets darker hues as reddish and lighter hues as greenish.  He'll never understand how chartreuse is different from yellow or forest green is different from brown or maroon, no matter how hard he tries and with all the good will in the world.  Over several years after we were first married, through experiment and questions, I learned how to see the world through *his* color set if I need to.  90% of the time I know exactly how he is going to perceive a color like mauve, or cerulean blue. Today, you can easily do a similar kind of exercise with a computer (look at any picture using the "grayscale" option) -- it's instructive. His ADD is a lot like being color blind.  There are many cases that don't seem the same to me that do look the same to him.  *All* of his perceptions are filtered and interpreted into a limited subset of what you and I probably perceive.  It has helped me a lot to think of my husband as being "perception-blind".

Please believe me that I sympathize with you more than you can know.  Our spouses seem  very very similar, and you and I sound like we have a lot in common too.  I don't know about you, but I am *not* a patient person by nature, quite the opposite, and the patience this has forced me to acquire has been hard hard work, and there's no question it has hurt me quite a lot at times to deal with these difficulties.  The bottom line is that you need to work with him and his constraints in order to get where you feel you need to go, and there is no way you can force this, you must listen, learn, experiment and try again.

You sound like you have made a good start at trying to pierce the mysteries!  Good luck!

No reponse yet but full of hope


You are an angel...I had tears reading your posts and I cant express my feelings to know that someone has a similar ADD experience to mine.... to as T"..While I dont think my ADDer has a seasonal disorder.... everything else fits.....After years of counseling, who would have every thought a website could give me so much hope in a short time....Im overwelmed with hope and excitement.... that I can actually categorize this behavior and now understand why to know how to respond differently....

This will be  extremely challenging for me, but it drives me absolutely nuts to keep doing the same thing and getting the same results...This insanity drives me to change.....Sounds crazy, but inaction and lack of results eventually drives me to action...I just cant express it to my ADD husband, as I dont think he'd understand the dynamics, ( not trying to be disparaging, but its like you said in a previous post.... his perceptions dont match mine) so Im pouring it out to you.

I have to digest all this great information and your insights are Soooo very much helpful....Ill post more tonight....You know me.... have to formulate a " plan" of action to keep my life moving forward.....

Im overflowing with gratitude to you and ready to start my day ! You too a making a difference & I hope you feel very good about that.



mg--I admire your tenacity and clear thinking.

I can't find your first post about your wife's breakdown and what you've gone thru but I read it at one point. I seem to relate to you and your wife is truly fortunate as it seems you have turned the corner. I have been married for 41 years to a man with ADHD and it is progressively getting worse. He refuses to acknowledge it and thinks we (me) should just learn to live with it. Since he earns a living and is a miser, then ADHD shouldn't apply to him. He thinks most things are my fault and I told him years ago that the law of averages suggests I couldn't be making endless mistakes. He gets along well with everyone but me and if he's upset with a client, family member, political scene, church, whatever---it's my fault. He is HIGHLY sensitive to criticism and takes NO blame. I did have a breakdown 19 years ago and until last year when I got some great help, my life was upsidedown and backwards. I could semi-function ( I pulled off 4 weddings and a few funerals). I am the mother of 5 outstanding kids--2 with ADHD and a grandma to 17 super gkids. I was superwomen/stay at home mom, handling a church job being president of a women's organization of 1000+, running a home, scouts, school, making ALL plans, paying the bills (he can't but thinks he can), meanwhile repeating things over and over and over again because he doesn't focus. He's driven me to doc appointments many times but hasn't been any kind of emotional support. In one of our many therapy sessions when asked what he thought his self-esteem was with 1 being bad news and 10 being excellent, he said a 10. The therapist said, "you're no 10". I told her he truly believes he is. He said he would try Ritylin a few years ago, but decided to take half a dose sometimes and mostly not at all. I lost that battle and I mainly lose most battles. I don't know if I'm going to win or lose the war yet. I try not to say anything that doesn't need to be said since his sensitivity leads to some ugly tantrums. I have walked on egg shells for years to keep things as steady as possible when we were raising our family. He's a good father and grandpa. When everyone else comes first there's lots of anger built up and thus my depression/anxiety. We stay together because we made a commitment and we have a large posterity so we act very civil around our large family. We have a lot of love in our family and my grandkids are the light of my life. I will sacrifice for their stability. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT ADHD WAS OR HOW BAD IT WOULD GET. No one has a clue how really awful our marriage is (except some of you) and I do need a support group if I'm going to keep living this way. I think I'll feel better now that I let someone peek inside. WHEW!

mg-WOW! An ADD person with a clue

I just found your first post about your wife's breakdown and what you two are going thru. I seem to relate to you. Your wife is truly fortunate as it seems you have turned the corner. I have been married for 41 years to a man with ADHD and it is progressively getting worse. He refuses to acknowledge it and thinks we (me) should just learn to live with it. Since he earns a living and is a miser, the ADHD shouldn't apply to him. He thinks most things are my fault and I told him years ago that the law of averages suggests I couldn't be making endless mistakes. He gets along well with everyone but me and if he's upset with a client, family member, political scene, church, whatever--it's my fault. He is HIGHLY sensitive to ideas that are not his and takes NO blame. I did have a breakdown 19 years ago and until '07 when I got some great help, my life was upsidedown and backwards. I could semi-function (I pulled of 4 weddings for my kids and a few funerals). I'm the mother of 5 outstanding kids--2 with ADHD and a grandma to 17 amazing gkids. I was superwoman/stay at home mom, handling a church job being president of a women's organization of 1000+, running a home, scouts, school, making ALL plans, paying the bills ( he can't do it but he thinks he can), meanwhile repeating things over and over and over again because he doesn't focus and doesn't even try. He used to drive me to doctor appt. because I became physically sick, but has never been an emotional support. In one of our many therapy sessions when asked what he thought his self-esteem was with 1 being bad news and 10 being excellent, he said, 'a 10'. The therapist said, "You're no 10". I told her he truly believes he is. He said he would try Ritalin a few years ago, but decided to take a half dose or no dose at all. I lost that battle and I mainly lose most battles. I don't know if I'm going to win or lose the war yet. I try not to say anything that doesn't need to be said since his sensitivity leads to some ugly tantrums. I have walked on egg shells for years to keep things as steady as possible when we were raising our family. He's a good father and grandpa. When everyone else comes first there's lots of anger built up and thus my depression/anxiety. We stay together because we made a commitment and we have a great posterity so we act very civil around our large family..unless he gets angry and acts out. We have a lot of love in our family and my grandkids are the light of my life. I decided to sacrifice my happiness for their stability. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT ADHD WAS OR HOW BAD IT COULD GET. No one has a clue how really awful our marriage is (except some of you) and I do need a support system if I'm going to keep living this way as I am depleted of energy and hope. Maybe I'll feel better now that I let someone peek inside. WHEW!

arwen's picture

Roller Coaster

AJR, your situation is so much like mine has been that I had to check to make sure I hadn't written your post!  In my case, though, the roller coaster is chronic.  My husband has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well as ADD.  Unlike most people with SAD, he doesn't get seriously depressed only mildly, but it exacerbates his ADD behaviors.  He takes additional meds that are adjusted seasonally for the SAD, and they help a lot, but they can't entirely deal with the problems. 

So, what happens at our home is that every summer he behaves pretty tolerably -- not very communicative, but not horribly forgetful, notices some things about me from time to time if they're glaringly obvious, doesn't throw his trash away but doesn't leave it in the middle of the floor either, etc etc, but is able to have a certain degree of continuity in projects and agreements we make.  In the fall, he starts to "go south for the winter", he begins losing track of more and more things, forgets our conversations more, doesn't listen as carefully, gets more defensive, doesn't remember the agreements we made in summer.  By wintertime, he's lethargic and dissociated and has lost track of everything from the prior 9 months.  In spring, he starts to come out of it, with a certain degree of irritability and higher impulsivity.  And we start the process all over again.  Talk about a roller coaster -- ours is annual.

And I hate it.  It drives me crazy.  (He was not like this when we married.  In my husband's family, their ADD manifestations are hormone-related -- they have problems as youngsters, "grow out of it" in their teens, seem to be pretty normal human beings for about 20 years, and then wham!  grow into it again in their early 40's.  The SAD is something that begins to manifest in their 30's and grows progressively worse as they age.)  To have cover the same territory in discussions over and over, year after year, is very hard for me to deal with.

Here are the things we've done that have helped us:

(1) If he can't learn, find ways for him to be reminded of what he should have learned.  My husband has a PDA, and I tell him to put the things that he will need to relearn in the spring into the PDA with an alarm for that timeframe.  Of course, he doesn't recognize what he won't remember later on, so I have to be aware of what he is having trouble remembering and tell him what he has to put in the PDA, and then watch him do it (and if it seems like it was too quick to be complete, ask him to read it back so we can be sure it will be enough to go forward with in the spring).  All of this must be done in a neutral, non-challenging, non-resentful way.  You're right, anger doesn't work.  I know.  I'm fundamentally an angry impatient person by nature, and I've had to learn a whole different way to approach my spouse.  All your anger does is further disrupt the serotonin in his brain. (That doesn't mean I'm perfect, lol -- I still get plenty irritated and spout off at times!)  It doesn't have to be a PDA -- I could instead create an annual journal for my husband with things for him to be aware of or think about so I wouldn't have to remind him.  The point is, you need to get this stuff in some kind of tangible form that you can ensure your husband is going to see, that takes you and your emotions out of the picture.  You will be less frustrated and your husband will react better.

(2) We have formal meetings 2 or 3 nights a week.  In these meetings, we discuss logistics (e.g. doctor appointments, when the grass should be cut, errands to be run, etc), projects (status updates, discoveries, expectations) and also emotional or personal issues (either individual or problems we're having).  We don't have a formal time limit, but we try to balance the need to talk about stuff against my husband's mental stamina.  Sometimes when we have a lot, we schedule an extra meeting, but never more than 4 a week (he'd burn out otherwise).  Sometimes the meetings are very short, depending on circumstances.  But it is *his* responsibility to make sure we have them, so that he has a certain amount of ownership in the process (because of course, he doesn't have nearly as much to bring to these meetings as I do, being fairly oblivious to a lot of reality).  He does real well with this in summer, lousy in winter.  If he forgets a meeting, we reschedule according to MY convenience (although I try to accommodate his convenience as well if I can).  We *both* take notes, and because his memory is so bad he is required to review his notes from the previous meeting before we start the next one.  The point is, take the emotion out of it.  Make it like a business meeting.  From one perspective, you and your husband *are* a business, a partnership.  Yes, it takes time out of your schedule, but I find it pretty much replaces the time spent arguing, and works better.

(3) We never leave a problem unresolved without scheduling the next time to talk about it.  This is the one key agreement we've made that I have insisted maintaining over the years (although it has been a challenge to enforce at times).  I do not countenance my husband evading problems indefinitely, as is his habit and preference, and which his ADD abets.  I understand that he can get mentally exhausted or confused, or too upset to think and talk, and needs to walk away from a discussion at times, but the requirement to schedule the next time to talk about it forces him to come to grips with it eventually.  If we don't make progress over time, we go see a counselor together.  Again, having a rule that we both have agreed to as a fundamental condition of our relationship de-emotionalizes things to some degree.  Instead of him feeling like I'm imposing a demand, he knows that he agreed to this (because he's been reminded of it so many times, occasionally forcefully).  We agreed to this rule because we both recognized that the problems don't get better if you don't talk -- they just go temporarily away and then come back even worse, and that's a sure road to splitting up eventually.  It took my husband years to accept this reality -- he also came from a conflict-avoiding family -- but he finally came to understand that *talking* about a problem doesn't *have* to mean *fighting* about it, and then it was easier for him to deal with this. Again, you have to take the emotion out as much as you can manage.

(4) I hesitate to include this last, because it could be so easily misunderstood.  I take everything my husband tells me with the proverbial "grain of salt".  I don't say this to be disparaging -- at the time he says something, it is almost certainly what he thinks is true, and he is undoubtedly sincere *at that moment*.  This is because the memory formation and retrieval processes do not work the same way in ADD brains that it does in non-ADD brains.  (I am convinced that this simple fact is the root of many of the "strange" behaviors that ADDers seem to exhibit -- they are coping mechanisms for dealing with a wayward memory.)  He *wants* to do better -- that's a good thing, and a good place to start.  But I can't ever settle for a promise or an intention.  I've learned to commend him for that good intention, and then (again, in a non-challenging way) ask "how are you going to do that?", or say "you'll need some kind of plan, or strategy".  He often doesn't have an answer.  Sometimes we brainstorm.  Sometimes we schedule a time to discuss it.   The point is, you can't just let it drop.  You don't need to be a pest, but you do need to make sure it gets followed up on.

(5) I've supported my husband being counseled throughout the past 14 years.  There were times this was a serious financial hardship for us, there were times I couldn't always pay all the bills on time.  I always figured it would be cheaper and less stressful in the long run than a divorce.  My husband sees his counselor every two weeks.  I interact with the counselor by phone on occasion and I join the sessions several times a year (it used to be more like every two months, but there's no longer that need for us).  Between the counselor at the med complex twice a month and me at home twice or three times a week at our meetings, my husband stays more "on track" than off.  Which brings me to . . .

Did you ever read the children's story "Tootle"?  It's about a young train who wants to be the railroad's champion Flyer, but likes to stray off the tracks.  Eventually the folks who run the railroad figure out a way to curb this behavior, by putting red flags all over the fields where Tootle likes to stray -- this works because the one cardinal rule that Tootle has had drummed in to him is that a train may *never, never* go where there is a red flag.  I  realized that my task was fundamentally similar:  find one key rule to drum into my husband's knowledge (in our case, we *have* to talk about the problems and we *have* to set a time to do it), and then set up the red flags (with PDA reminders, meetings, notes, and counseling).

It's a lot of work, and it's certainly not the life I would  have chosen.  But he really *is* a wonderful dear man, and now that we've come through the worst, I'm glad I stuck with him.

I hope you can use some of this practical experience!!!  Good luck, my prayers are with you!

Roller Coaster AJR; Got a Response from ADD husband


Ive been quietly listening to the blogs for the last 2 weeks….Just trying to absorb all the information….

Arwen. Mike G, Melissa ,Et al… non ADD and ADD friends....

Our house as been calm for the last 10 days..A  welcome rarity..since usually there is always something to trigger an upset…amongst my ADD husband and I …..This give me hope….Its almost scary..I’ve normally conditioned my response to be on “edge” when its so calm as I know the   “ shoe is going to drop” eventually.

My issues is that Im not getting communication feedback from my ADD spouse…..Frustrating and we aren’t on the same communication page…. We do better communicating by email as it take the edge off the tone and visual aspects of my facial expressions,…My ADD analogy was that we are 2 boats..rowing sometimes in the same direction..Trying to get to the "marriage utopia island" in the future…..His boats zig zags off course mostly and I get tired of always charting him back on course as he gets caught up in whirlpools of behavior , constantly rowing in circles.. Highly Defensive, feelings of inferiority, lack of focus and follow through Etc ,etc….

I DID finally get a response from my ADD spouse! .He did go to a CHADD meeting  ten days ago and I asked for some feedback via email to see how it went….My last post was regarding still no response….Had to email him one more time calmly, but he finally did respond with prompting. I found his response enlightening….

Without all the specific details, I think having him attending  THE CHADD meeting with  14 others with similar issues truly helped. No longer is he all by himself fighting this battle, “him against me”, but for once I suspect he found comfort in other ADDers having similar issues, and it helped his self awareness

…..Everyone went around the room telling their story…His history was mainly about lack of focus and inability to move forward on many things…When the Chadd facilitator “pressed him as to why”, he appears to have been met by other ADD responses who offered to help him with whatever issue it was to move forward. It was more involved than that, but the basic gist…

I think he found comfort in others going through what he goes through just  as I get comfort from all of you on these blogs understanding what  I  as the non ADD person goes through… His Chadd meeting comments” The main thing that I learned from the conversation is that if there is an area of your life that you are not comfortable with, where it gives you a lot of discomfort, there is no reason not to asked someone to do something for you.  We tend to get frazzled when we try to take on too much. “ 


“I think it is a combination of things on this:  one is the fear of failure which is typical of ADD types.  The other is a list of things to do at home, at work, and with the family and if I don’t get things done, the opportunity is gone and then I get resentful that I didn’t do what I wanted/needed to do.”

 I sent him an email telling him how proud I was that he attended the  meeting and took steps to try something different.

I know its too early to tell, but I’ve been seeing  a renewed determination in my husband to get things done, stay on track with his TO DO list in the last 2 weeks since the meeting… and a lessening of DEFENSIVENESS which I attribute  to reducing tensions on the home front….

Could thi s be?  Ive been here before…. trust me,  in past lasts for a week, and then  the bottom falls out of the wagon….everything goes back to ADD land….Im holding my breath, something has changed…. The change is lasting a bit longer this time…and no verbal explosion yet…..

Normally my ADD husbands  temperament  tends  to be lacksidaisical, nice friendly ,easy going… happy go lucky, Nice guy but no direction…..I’m seeing an “edge” to him now….Defensiveness has subsided, a little more self determination and” come hell or high water…I’m going to get this done ..” He even caught me in the shower a few days ago and asked me how I thought his ADD “rehab” was going……He ASKED ME!  Hmmm.  I told him I thought he was making progress..He thought so too….Nothingh heavy, nothing heavy duty..Simple awareness....

Could  a decent level  of self awareness have come out of the Chadd  meeting??? We’ve spent countless years, & four therapists later ripping each other apart and never really getting to the core issue because we didn’t have the ADD diagnosis at the  Apex of our therapy… And now a different approach….

I know its just a start but I truly feel that if we have a small bit of self awareness

Stay tuned my ADD and Non ADD friends…..

I guess my key  take home learnings are this:

1.       We have to approach the ADD as OUR issue, and work together to work cohesively to figure out better ways. Verbally killing each other day after day month after month.. doesn’t work….But alas it takes 2….

2.        It definitely helps to have a spouse who is willing to get help…. and try things. If only he didn’t listen to me personally….Maybe it helps to hear it from other ADDers…Not just a nagging wife…

3.       If you aren’t getting the results from your therapist… don’t give up…Try something  or someone different….Find a CHADD group who has qualified ADD specific people who are knowledgeable, and not just therapy generalists.

4.       Self awareness is a Key…I so admire some of the ADD posters who have true self awareness and the impact to their spouses.( George I have a printed copy of your post “set a new course”….You  & MIke G are my ADD awareness role models.

Thanks for listening…This webite gives me hope....Hopefully a glimmer of hope out there for those in despair…Trust me Ive been there.



Roller Coaster Reply


First, thanks for your kind words.  CHADD meetings are probably no different than AA meetings.  Finding people with common behavior threads is validating and offers hope.  Forgive me if I repeat myself but from the ADD perspective it is important for us to feel support from our spouse in a way that is not condescending.  We already feel pretty crappy about ourselves so living next to the ordered mate can lead to a "I'll never measure up" attitude.  Sounds like you are very respectfully supportive.  I feel very inadequate giving advice so I won't.   I'll just state some things from my perspective.  If they apply and help, I'm glad.  Again, writing is good therapy for me so chew on any meat offered and spit out the many bones.  

I am the first to admit that living with an ADD person is incredibly trying.  I can also say that the ADD person living with a perfectionist is quite draining.  I also know how utterly frustrating it is to be the ADD guy and also be the main source of income for the family.   Everyone is looking to you for the house payment, food, clothes, tuition, gas, vacations, retirement, cell bill, etc.  I don't know how a man feels when his wife makes more or equal money but at this point I'm ready to try it for a spell.  Don't get me wrong, I wanted to be the big dog and provide all the aforementioned.  I am also married to someone that wanted to be married to the big dog.  She is a pure home maker.  She is great at making our house a home.  She is motherly.  She is good to the core.  She never had ambition to do anything other than be a wife and raise kids.  I liked that so we married.   She quite frankly had a pretty hard mother that never gave her the blessing of approval.  Her mother never affirmed her dad and really never treated him with much respect.  Guess what my wife struggles with?  I am a pleaser and she is a pleasee!  Her friends call her the poodle on a pillow.  I like the poodle on the pillow.  I put her on the pillow!  When i was young I worked 2 jobs just like my dad did to make it.  It felt good!  I was perfectly willing to work the 2 jobs!  However, our collective wounds and weaknesses clashed and became an enormous sore.  She looked to me to make all the finacial decisions. I don't blame her.  I embraced the idea.   I looked like a hero for the first 25 years.  The last 9 we have been drinking goats milk.  I may sound like I'm venting.  Maybe so!  As I mentioned before I take medication for ADD, Sleep Apnea, Heart Disease, and depression.  I think, well crap, who the heck am I?  I am trying to take responsibility for the ADD, go to the doctors, take the meds, not expect anything from my wife becuase after all I'm the screw up!  I end up feeling like a robot and a loss of self.  I'm not saying that is bad but sometimes I wonder which side effects are worse?  I admit I get cynical from time to time.  OK God, my kids are gone, we're broke, my wife barely tolerates me, I have 4 stents in my arteries, can't sleep, sex drive of my uncle Emmett who died in 88, and a job that has little promise of finacial gain.  Hey maybe I'll get diabetes and have to hack off one of my legs!  That will be new and interesting.  OK that's enough!   You guys that aren't ADD have your own sack of rocks, maybe not as many but knowing we are one of the rocks really weighs heavy.   I feel horrible that you have to live with us.  Not very often mind you, but sometimes, I feel bad that we have to live with you.  We are all so flawed; even you planners, list makers and bar setters!  This is the most "stating the obvious" things I've ever said.  If you live with an ADD person, you have to find your peace and happiness within yourself or you are going to live a long, long, frustrating life.  Do you know what has kept us together other than the obvious God answer?  Laughter!!  Believe it or not we have laughed our butts off at ourselves and yes at others. We all seem to have a measure of pretending that we have it all together when in fact nobody does. Well, I feel much better but maybe I should go to bed now. 



arwen's picture

laughter does help!!!

Mike, you've said a whole lot of important things, but the one that I responded to most was what you said about laughter.  I've always said that the most important reason that I married my husband was because he was the only man I knew who shared my sense of humor, who was as nutty as the rest of my birth family.  There's no doubt that this has been a critical factor in our ability to maintain our relationship!

I hope you won't be offended if I offer a point of view.  You say that "knowing that we are one of the rocks" weighs heavily on your mind.  I know my husband feels the same way.  But although I don't have ADD, I am nonetheless also one of  *his* rocks.  Although I'm through menopause now, for many years I suffered from PMS, and for a couple of days every month, I was pretty volatile and impatient and very hard to live with.  I have allergies and asthma, so there are certain household chores I can't do.  Because of a serious infection I had years ago, I now have a chronic leg condition that also prevents me from doing some things.  And for the last several years, I'm prone to migraines, which are sometimes completely incapacitating, so I can't do anything while they are happening and he has to take care of the necessities.  I assure you, these things weight just as heavily on my mind, and I feel I'm a burden to him at many times.  Is it possible that by treating your wife as a "poodle on a pillow", you are blinding yourself to those ways that she may be one of *your* rocks?  Please understand, I'm not trying to cast any aspersions on your spouse, I'm sure most people aren't the non-ADD "rock" that I am.  But you are quite right that none of us is perfect!!!

When my husband and I first fell in love, he told me he wanted to put me on a pedestal.  I refused to allow it.  I told him that it although it was terribly flattering, it wasn't real, and that I felt that any relationship that wasn't firmly grounded in reality was ultimately doomed.  We have both been glad in after years for that decision.

Finally, I obviously don't know how *you* would feel if you didn't make as much money as your wife, but when my husband and I did it, it didn't bother him.  He just looked at it as "more for us".  But I must also say I think it's likely that one important reason it didn't bother him at all is because of my own attitude about it.  I have *never* understood why anyone should think that a man should support a woman financially, just because he's a man and she's a woman.  I feel that both partners ought to be laboring and contributing equally.  I do feel that keeping a home and raising children competently can be a full-time job (depending on the number of children and other situational factors).  I also believe that a woman should be just as capable of supporting herself financially as a man.  I went to college to prepare myself for a career (we married while I was still in college), and when I graduated, I got a full-time job and established myself in a career, before we started having kids.  When our first child was born, I was making more money than my husband, so we agreed that he would go back to college and take care of the homefront while I supported the family.  When our youngest was born, he had finished his degree and we swapped roles -- his new job still paid less than the one I was leaving, but we had agreed to "take turns".   When our children got involved in competitive athletics, I went back to work to pay for the expenses.  Now he makes more than I do, and we're both OK with that too.  All along, though, we were both contributing in some way (although not necessarily monetarily) just as much as the other, and for us I think that was the key.

More power to you, don't give up -- you have come such a long way already!

blinding self


Well said! Maybe ADD people either take no blame or all the blame.  Neither leads to a balanced life.  I really don't want to sound pitifully pififul but I have oftened thought of how my wife would have been much happier with a guy that offered more security.  But she married me and here we are so all I can do is press on and make the best of it.  I do hear what you say about not putting her on the pillow and appreciate your insight.  Keep laughing!!




arwen's picture

this is progress

AJR, this sounds like true progress -- good for you!!!  And thank you for your kinds words.

It does sound like there has been a positive step towards self-awareness.  My spouse did not join a CHADD group (there was not a suitable one in our area, and I didn't feel competent to start one!), so his steps towards greater self-awareness came through different channels -- so I don't know how relevant my experience with his journey would be to your situation.  My husband's developing self-awareness came in fits and jerks.  Because not being self-aware was a lifelong condition, there were many periods when my husband would revert to his "normal" state of being not terribly self-aware in between times of greater self-awareness.  I had a tendency to assume that once he reached a certain point of self-awareness, he would sustain it, but that wasn't always the case.  (I'm sure that was partly due to my husband's Seasonal Affective Disorder -- even now he loses a lot of self-awareness every winter, and I have to re-stimulate it every spring -- so much fun.)  All I can suggest is to watch for positive indications and encourage them when you see them, but not to expect them or that progress will be smooth or rapid.  It takes a long long time to change the habits of a lifetime.

Have you ever seen the movie "Contact"?  It's about a girl, Ellie, whose father teaches her to love astronomy and communicating with others far away via ham radio.  She always wants to talk to people farther and farther away from home on her radio, but he tells her to be patient and says "Small steps, Ellie, small steps".  After he dies, she  dedicates her life to the SETI project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), and does eventually seem to receive a radio message from other intelligent beings.  The message includes instructions to build a machine whose purpose is not clear but may be for communicating with or traveling to the aliens.  The government builds it and Ellie is eventually chosen as its occupant.  When the machine is started, Ellie experiences a worm-hole trip through space to a place where she meets an alien who takes the appearance of her father.  Her "father" tells her that humans have taken an important first step towards interaction with other species.  When Ellie, ever the scientist, says that she needs to take some kind  of proof of her experience back with her, he says he can't provide that, that humans will just have to grow and learn, and that this is the way it has always been done with new species like humans.  "Small steps, Ellie," he says, "small steps."  When she returns to earth, she is told that according to all the instruments that were monitoring her, she didn't go anywhere.  When an inquiry is conducted, she admits she can't be positive that she didn't hallucinate her experience, but that although she has no proof, she believes what she experienced was real.  No one is quite sure just what to make of all of it, but despite skeptics in high places, it seems that the common man believes her.  Ellie continues with her SETI work and comes to accept that what she believes in will eventually come to pass, but only through those small steps. 

As I'm sure you've guessed, I've often thought this movie was an appropriate metaphor for what my husband and I have gone through in dealing with his ADD.  Sometimes trying to communicate with him has felt like the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, lol!  And not all of our steps have been forwards, or even sideways.  Whenever we tried to take big steps, we almost always fell short of our goal and then there were disappointments, sometimes crushing ones.  So don't be discouraged if the steps are small and slow.  You have good reason to hope!

Progress is gone Awareness is gone I am alone again

Ive not been contributing on the blogs for the last 6 months...Definitely reading but not posting..somewhere lost in my own mess and trying to figure it all out....AGAIN.... We had ADD success in the Fall which lasted til the new year( the most remarkable progress in 20 yrs)... but most has faded..Yes, I know 3 steps forward, 2 steps back,,, dont expect straight line progress always...I know.....My ADD spouse if a good dad, father provider, but cant put a plan together to do move forward in life or anything he does...Doesnt smoke, drink excessively or cheat.....A general nice guy with no direction to move forward in life....Keeps a job but  not many promotions as he doesnt have direction in a career to move progress forward....Always there to be supportive but wont step out on his own...Desperately wants to do things on his own without oversight and then rarely follows through to accomplish things to the end....We both recognize  the parent child relationship is not good for I disengage and have lowered my expectations drastically about having a satisfying, emotionally connected relationship with him....

Poor self esteem is at the root, fear of failure feeling like a screw up......but even thats not motivating to move on....

I dont have ADD but my spouse does....He is tired of always going in circles getting the same results, wants help but always reverts back to the same patterns...Is on meds now but not the right ones and not seeing a difference.. There are focus/ processing issues and anxiety issues...which run in his family....

Id like to put measurements in place for follow up, but he doest like anyone standing over him and  checking on him ( ie parent/ child) yet without this he is doomed to fail as he doesnt have the self awareness mechanism to monitor his status, feeings, let alone ask for help....

THe most progress made was last fall was when he got involved in a monthly chadd group. His awareness expoded, defensiveness way down and although not miraculous, I could see the light bulb shining some light of improvement where as before I would just watch the same pattern materialize day ofter day, month after month. He is not impulsive, doesnt spend $$ like crazy, doesnt lose things, helps around the house, does chores etc etc...but will churn and churn on decision making.....Fear....of making the wrong decision and srewing up....He either overprocesses information which is valuable in his job of data mining but deadly sometimes as he over analyses everything and doesnt move forward to take action.....

Mind you ID make suggestions and postive reinforcement  and granted wed have all out fights in frustration, but there is definitely a lack of self awareness of what causes the problem when things are bad, and a lack of self awareness of what works well when things are good.....Ive tested this theory and have asked my spouse several times.."Gee things are going much better..dont you think?  What do you suppose is causing this.......I get blank stares and I dont know.....Very frustrating I think, as if you cant recognize when things are "good" and continue to do those behaviors...... then its likely you dont reconize when things are "bad" and continue to do those behaviors.... albeit a viscious circle.....

His home behaviors during those initial Chadd meetings were so improved I actually sent  his ADD coach flowers I was so impressed...I was genuinely feeling terrific about  the progress in my marriage.Yet how are you to continue these behaviors when you cant even recognize what they were.....?

Ex; After going to several chadd meetings my spouse stopped. When I  gently asked why, he said there was a member at the meeting who was monopolizing the conversations  and he wasnt getting much out of them...I stated maybe he should talk to the facilitator and ask him to get it addressed so he could get more out of them..He never took the suggestion and just stopped going......

Ive asked him 5-6 times to come to the website and read and learn..... as he blames me for being angry, bitter and non  loving....and he doesnt understand why...even though weve talked about my feelings for the last 15 years,, he cannot internalize the connection between my lack of feelings for him and his ADD symptoms.....It doesnt matter how much I tell him,,,,he doesnt get the connecton and likage..... I feel just closeness  to all of you postings as I read all your pain and have similar feelings as well as a spouse of an ADD partner.

Last evening he told me he spent several days reading the Blogs and hasnt really gotten anything out of them.......For me these blogs have been my lifeline to sanity and a huge sense of explanation  of the dynamics in my  miserable marriage....He is not illiterate and has an advanced degree so it isnt a reading issue.......He isnt able to process information and to be able to formulate it to a conclusion....

Ive repeatedly asked him to set up one on one coaching and still nothing...I do feel anxiety is in play here as well as ADD and while I try to be suggestive to stick with things that work......I feel like a failure  on this roller coaster...I can see the patterns, see the viscious circle, distance my self so as not to enable behaviors but am honestly not wanting to be warm & loving to a man who hasnt yet taken responsiblity for his ADD, anxiety, and tells me Im the reason he has anxiety.....He had anxiety growing up so I dont buy into this diversion tactic...It was well in place before he met me....

All I long for is a man who  is coming to grips with his ADD and is willing to express to me his anxieties, his need for help with his lack of processing skills and get help. Seeing a psychiatrist one a week for one hour, coach for one hour.... and I as the spouse get  to live the other 166 hours of the week that the therapists never hear about because he can only progress the immediate things  in his head....Ive seen the patterns for years,...Ive suggested I come to the thearapist meeting with him, but Im tired of pushing for things to try....

Im so alone, lonely , angry, frustrated, tired of trying and since he is maybe reading these blogs run the risk of further damage if he reads this....Now he is upset as Im on the computer too much trying to find a sense of support from this site.....the very thing he doesnt get.....Im feeling that divorce is the next stop on this roller coster ride....or else Ill crash....






It's like a relapse

My husband did this in the beginning as well. He actually took is medication and told me it was like a miracle! He had this big revelation and was making fantastic progress for a while. (a month or more if I remember right) Then he just up and decides he doesn't need the meds anymore. I never mothered him about what he should be doing but when I realized he had not been taking his medicine, I bust out crying. It was like his big breakthrough just fell through. He had to feel my despair because he quickly went back on the meds and has not really lapsed since (unless he runs out and has to call for a script). It took him years to figure out he needed those meds no thanks to his family insisting that I was the problem. Now if he would just commit to seeing a therapist or a coach, and learn about proper communication skills we could move forward. But who knows when that might happen. I'll probably have to bust out crying again...

Gosh, I'm with ya' hon, hope you can treat yourself somehow!

Nettie's picture

Sponsor Needed

Maybe, like in AA, hubbie needs an ADHD sponsor who can hyperfocus on helping him. The kind of "in your face" behavior at which we excel :)