Hi, my name is Cathryn, and my husband has ADD.

Why do I feel like I'm the one with the problem here? lol.  Ok guys, I'm a newbie here.  I found out a few days ago that my husband of 5 years has ADD.  At first I was happy.  I thought, there's a reason he is the way he is.  Now, for some reason, I'm scared to death.  What if he doesn't change?  I know that's not a good mindset to have, I need to believe he'll get better.  But what if I will always feel alone, worthless, overwhelmed, desperate for companionship?  I have been overjoyed to find this website and learn of others going through the exact same thing as I.  I admit I'm depressed at seeing how many of these marriages end in divorce.  I'm a stay at home mom to 2 young children.  May I ask a few questions?

Are ADDers aware of the negative affects they have on loved ones?  My husband seems completely oblivious depsite my calmly and lovingly telling him how I feel.

Will I pretty much always have to be his mother?  Overseeing everything?  Taking care of everything myself?  Cleaning up after him constantly?  He doesn't help me around the house, this is almost too much, I want more kids, but with him I already have 3 kids to take care of. 

He spends money constantly, money we sometimes don't have.  I can't trust him with our financial future, depsite me being the one handling the finances.  Is this normal?  It scares me to death that b/c of him, we may never be financially secure with a good savings, etc. 


Thanks yall, I know I'll have more questions, I'm just so overwhelmed right now, and as I've said many times-scared.  We don't take marriage lightly, I don't want divorce to be an option.

Elisabeth's picture

Hi Cathryn,

It is so normal to feel overwhelmed.

The first thing to realise is that ADD is a brain disorder and your husband will not get better.  There is no cure.  With the right medication and support he can learn to manage ADD and work towards changing his behaviours, but fundamentally he still will have ADD.  My fiance as ADD and in his words the meds give him the tools to be able to clear his head and focus on managing his ADD, but this does not mean it disappears.  Stress, fatigue, alochol, certain foods, lack of exercise all contribute to my fiance's ADD symptoms and their severity.

In saying that, I am lucky because my fiance is very committed to working on his ADD and he tries to understand how particular behaviours impact on me.  But the same goes for me.  You have to remember that a person with ADD and one with no ADD work on different logic, so sometimes my behaviours do not make sense or hurt him too.  Because he is so committed to working on his ADD I made a decision to be just as committed to him in my support and we look at managing his ADD together.  It isn't just him who lives with it, I do too.

ADDers are not always aware of how their behaviour affects people.  And just because you explain how one behaviour impacts does not mean an ADDer will understand consequences of the next action.  With my fiance it helps when I can give explanations relating back to him to help him make a connection.  You are definitely on the right track talking calmly - whether you have ADD or not, speaking defensively never gets anyone anywhere!

In terms of being his mother, well you will have to accept some things of the ADD are just how it is.  That will probably get a lot of people's backs up by me saying that but it is true - you are dealing with someone here who actually does have a brain disorder....they are not just being lazy, which is often a common misconception.  While I do not run the entire household, I do take responsibility for overseeing it and managing it and I ask my fiance to do the same things and when he does them I acknowledge it.  We have found that by me asking him to do the same things, he ends up doing them himself over time anyway - and this has been a huge step for us.  I am so proud of him.  But acknowledgement is a two-way street and my fiance is well aware that I do basically run the house and he does not take that for granted.  I do not let him get out of anything I have asked him to do either....even if it takes 3 days!  I myself have learned to let things go a little bit and not to be cleaning up after him every step of the way. I learned I have to give him a chance to do the things I ask him to do and sometimes this may take a bit longer than I myself would have done it in.  For my fiance it is a huge thing when he does remember to do something and he is so proud of himself so I encourage these times as much as I can.

When it comes to our finances, we share the responsibility, although when it comes to cash my fiance hands it over to me.  My fiance does have the tendency to make large, impulsive purchases.  Not long ago, we were out browsing in town - we live in Tokyo - and I went to the bathroom.  I returned 5 minutes later to find my fiance signing off on TWO Large screen TVs....I can laugh about it now but at the time (we have since had to buy new furniture to accommodate them too)...so we learned from this.  Now if my fiance was going to do the same thing I would ask him "Are you sure we really need this?" so that he can come to the conclusion himself that we don't.    You say you handle the finances, so limit how much your husband can have and also maybe cancel any credit cards or take them out of the wallet.  We tend to keep ours in a draw and we generally don't take them out with us so we can't use them.

Living with someone who has ADD does take patience and time.  I know I am quite lucky because my fiance fully accepts his ADD and does his best to manage it but at the same time we see it as a team effort.  I think you are definitely on the right track coming to these forums and I hope this helps you a little bit or that someone can shed some more light on the topic.  Can you get your husband onto these forums?  Or can you look up ADD together on the web and find out about it together?

my behavior


"so sometimes my behaviours do not make sense or hurt him too.  " 

I've read a lot on this forum but this particular reminder is so important to me.  After my divorce I went through counseling and it has been difficult for me to transition into a new male/female relationship.  My counselor tells me that sometimes I am "catastrophizing", that I am totally overreacting to an event.  I am in control of my actions at the time, but the emotions are like consuming me.  My counselor told me to tell my boyfriend that I would be doing a time out in the future when these emotions hit me.  Then I am to write down my exact feelings, never share them, and then look to see if there were patterns over time.  If I see a pattern I may have a trigger to avoid.  I actually did this and it is amazing how writing down these emotions makes me feel like they have moved from inside me to the paper.  This catastrophizing isn't good for me or the relationship.

What is important about your statement is that my boyfriend is very sensitive to these emotions he sees in my body language or my tone of voice.  He is operating with a different logic and truly doesn't understand that my emotions are my problem not his.  I think he may have had a lot of reactions over the years and braces himself for the worse when it happens.  He cannot stand to live in the chaos of emotionally out of control people.  I think another issue is something I read about ADD.  The author said that the ADD person takes in much more sensory data than we do, much quicker than we do, and this is why they get distracted easily.  If this is true then he may be overwhelmed by the sudden changes he sees in me.  Thanks for helping me to understand why I'm having such a negative impact on him when I suddenly find myself in these moments. 


In the same boat

I would advise you to keep very close control of your finances, but I have not, myself, found a successful way to do this. My husband did not disclose to me that he did not file and pay his state and federal taxes for the eight years between his divorce and our marriage. In fact, he was surprised when the IRS agent told us that it was eight years, because he thought it was only three. He was unemployed the first two years of our marriage and entertained himself by shopping with my credit card which I stupidly had given him access to upon marrying him. I did not know what I was getting into. We now have massive debt that I am struggling to pay off.

I am the "bread winner" in the family because my husband is unskilled and has ADD, so currently our bank account is in my name only. We have a credit card, but the limit is very low and he maxes it out fairly quickly. I give him the grocery money and am generous with pocket money, but I still get resentment from him. He wants a joint bank account and full access to all the money, and I just cannot allow that. If I make out a budget, he looks at it and then forgets about it. Working out a budget together does not work either, he simply does not add up his purchases in his head. They are not cumulative. He lives very much in the moment.

Since you have children, be very, very careful about your finances. Debt can be crippling.