Hope I give hope for the non-ADD wives


Greetings all –

                I’ve recently taken my wife serious about having one of our son’s checked for ADD.  I’ve been in denial due to the effects of some of the medication.    When going through the questionair, I mean really going through it this time, I started to see myself.  Then things started to happen at work.  Not bad things per say, but I could not explain why I couldn’t get things done or why I can’t remember tasks.  I started to investigate Adult ADD and no matter what test I take I’m “highly likely” to having it and the symptoms all look and feel so similar to me.  I haven’t been officially diagnosed yet, but I have an appointment set up and written down, because I can’t remember when – go figure.

                I have spent days on research and I’ve found this site.  I’ve spent hours going through blogs and posts.  Some of you seem very bitter, but then again I don’t have a lot of the extreme symptoms.  I do not comprehend how you feel, but I am very sorry.  I don’t verbally/physically abuse my wife, I’ve never called her a name.  I do not abuse my children.  I’ve been in IT for years, 9 years at last job ( laid off due to corporate buyout ) and 3 years at current.  I’m in good physical condition and I’m adept in social situations.  But I’m here because I am the problem.  And I’m practically unable to hold back the tears.  I haven’t cried in 25 years and I find it very un-masculine, but I’ve never been punched so hard in the gut as I have in how much I relate to so many of you with my current situation.

                As I’m coming to grips with all of this new found knowledge about my as yet undiagnosed life-long issues, I hurt very much.  To some of you I can honestly say – leave him.  For the rest of you, you seem to have come to a crossroad and you want help.  I offer you this meager attempt to understand.  It is most likely that I have ADD ( not HD ) and there are several aspects of my marriage that are similar in scope as many of yours.  What I need you to understand, from a guy who’s always known something was wrong and just now finding a name after 38 years, there is nothing that hurts more than knowing I’ve hurt the person I love the most.

                I’m not sure many of you can understand how hard it is to not be able to understand why you can’t remember anything.  I can look you in the eye during a conversation and I can’t keep my eyes from glazing over and the harder I try to focus the more I can’t remember what you are talking about.

                My wife is very frustrated with me.  Every time I try to speak on serious topics, I can’t get the thoughts out of my head and into voice.  When she’s upset with me I make it worse with a stupid smirk.  I hate it but I can’t stop it! I hate it!  I’m not laughing at her but it’s condescending and I can’t stop it!  I don’t think she’s being silly at all, but when I notice I’ve done it and stop doing it, she’s already seen it.  It’s hurtful and I’m not trying to be. 

                Then there’s the issue of constant frowning.  I’ve always been a creative person and thought that all that was going on in my head was my imagination at work.  I don’t even know that I do it most of the time.  My wife has told me that I always look like I’m having a bad time.  This really breaks my heart.  I cherish the time we spend together and I don’t mean to give that impression at all.

                So here I am with a name for my issues.  What good is an “official diagnosis” if the one you love may have already given up?  But this is my bed.  I made it.  I will do anything I can for her and my kids and I want you people to know there is hope.  I will always have a problem and I believe that knowing about it is the right way to get back on track.  My wife is a great mother and a wonderful wife.  I’m trying hard to do the mundane tasks and I’m already overwhelmed.  I had forgotten to register my youngest for kindergarden!  It’s not too late, but he needs his 5 yr checkup.  Another appointment I made that I can’t remember for the life of me.  I’m trying to take on more bills.  I feel so terrible that she’s been so bogged down with the stress that I’ve done nothing to help with.  I’ve made strides with routines such as making the bed every morning and loading/unloading the dishwasher every night.  Small efforts, but I’m trying. 

                This is getting long and I’m ending it.  I love my wife.  I’m nobody special, just broken.  I’ve been praying everyday ( with a few forgotten days in between ) for many months.  I don’t pray for me, I pray that my wife will have the strength and courage to keep going forward with me in her life.  And I thank God for everyday that her and my kids have been in my life.  My wife will not go to counceling with me or read this website and she is not to blame.  Don’t any of you ever accuse her.  One of you wrote in a post “To be, Rather than to appear”.  It’s not enough look like progress, I must show her it’s permanent.

Dear DF, Thank you. I guess

Dear DF, Thank you. I guess I needed to see this post tonight, and if you want to know why just go and look at the one I just wrote. Now if you would consider this, do me a favor. Tell your wife when the moment is right, "I love you, and would appreciate you reading this." Then give her a copy of your post- it WOULD mean so much for her to understand that you DO in fact have a clue as to her and your pain. If you can not bear to talk about it just yet tell her that too, with the assurance that you are working on it and will discuss it later when you can (but that you love her and want her to know how you really feel). I could not tell you how much that would mean to me, if I thought that was even close to being true in my case. Take care.
DF's picture

My reply

I'm glad you got something out of it.  I never really pointed out that my intention was for those of you frustrated with your spouse, if you could please see that some of us really do want to climb this mountain.  I've read so many posts from frustrated spouses and I really do feel your pain, although in a different light. 

I married my wife because I love her.  Yes I'm afraid of losing her, but my being here isn't for trying to "keep" her.  I have to earn the right to tell her how I feel.  The hurt and the frustration, the horror of seeing my oldest son break down and cry because he says he's stupid.  I've been battling that very same torture for as long as I can remember.  But what can I do?  My discovery is brand new and she's been hurting for years.  I can't expect her to just go bake a cake and all is well now.

I want nothing more than to grab her and hold her and tell her that I love her, but I can't quite get a grip on the feelings of rejection.  Our intimate life suffered for so long because I would do nothing and she would have to initiate everything.  I'm sure that added to the feelings of me not caring for her.  I don't even think I told her that I'd lie awake endlessly, hoping she would show interest in me - see my catch 22 dilema?  I've been my own worst enemy.  I tried obsessively to tell myself that the worst she could do is say 'no', but I'm not fooling anyone.  My wife telling me 'no' is nothing like being told I can't have fries with my burger.

So I guess I'd like to say thank you Lulu L. since you are the one who gives me hope.  I can not show this post to my wife, at least in the near future.  I'm trying so hard to connect, but stay distant because I'm learning about hyperfocusing and I'm not helping my situation with it.  She tells me she doesn't want to talk about how she feels with anyone and I believe her.  It frustrates her.  I'm not a bad person and I'm a good father ( I guess? ). But as I've said before, I'm here so I'm not perfect.  I can see her put up steel walls at the meer sight of talking about her feelings. 

Sometimes I would just like for her to unload on me just to get it out.  I do believe it would help her, but sometimes I get the feeling she doesn't want to hurt my feelings and that frustrates her even more.  She tells me that she hates getting to that boiling point with me because it makes her feel like a B****.  Honest truth is that I don't even know when I'm doing that to her, but I see a lot of people feel the exact same way in these posts. 

I don't know if any of this would help her....yet.  You have given me hope that if your ADD(HD) spouse is willing to address the issue and work hard to control the freight train, that you still would give it all a chance.  I love my wife so much and I miss making her laugh.  I will make her happy again because I know I can.  I just wish I could see clearly enough to recognize it. 

I'm rambling again.......

DF's picture


It is now official.  I have just been diagnosed with ADD.  I know I didn't need it for me, but I needed it for my wife.  I was afraid to tell her, but did not know why.  I know now.  I could not put into words what it is exactly and  par for the course I messed it up because I couldn't get the words out.  So I vomited some sorry explanation for what it is because she believes it to be a learning disorder only.  It's so much more, but I couldn't go into it.  I felt her frustration with me.  She said I made it sound like I was using it as a cop out for the past few years.  I felt like I made it sound that way, but I couldn't voice to her that it's my whole life.  I feel like after 38 years I'm just now finding out I was adopted.  It's so very hard to explain.

Right now it hurts.  I need her and as I write this I'm alone.  She has gone to be with her friend.  I have done this to her and I want so much to hold her and tell her I'm sorry.  I've been telling her I'm sorry so damn much I don't know how she could even come to believe me. 

I told her again about this website.  I hope she finds it on her own free will sometime.  Ever since I've found this web site I've found purpose and understanding.  I've been trying to repair my relationship with my wife and eldest son and I've not known anything other than I'm the problem.  Reading everyone's story has given me direction and I know now what it is I need to fix -> me, but I have direction now.

She's not ready to find me here on this site.  I have more work to do on me.  I always seem to take 1 step forward, 2 steps back.  This week so far I took 2 steps forward and today was my giant leap back.  I accept this challenge.  I wouldn't be here today if I didn't believe.

I will go to bed early tonight and try to keep my thoughts from spinning as usual.  I will think of the silver lining.  tonight she said the discovery doesn't make up for the past few years.  By my count that's 3-4 out of 12.  I've got more positive years than negative - of course I worked nights for 9 of those........ 

Finally - I may not have been able to spit out what was going through my mind, I may have frustrated her even more as I stood there in the doorway.  But tonight.  Tonight she looked me in the eye and I got to return the look and tell her that I love her.

DF, this is a very fragile

DF, this is a very fragile time for you as well as for your wife. Yet part of me wants to congratulate you- because now at least you have some explanation for the emotional rollercoaster I am assuming you (we all) had been on. It is not a solution, you and she have a big journey ahead and you put it very well- there are some things she might not be ready to face (nor you)? Your heart and your motivation seem strong and that is huge but if you can go to a good counselor (IMPORTANTLY wellversed in what adhd really is) to help you through this transition it will help you through the bumps. And use the time to read (or get audiobooks)- hopefully your wife will become willing to learn what it is you've been going through. I sure didnt when I first heard about this - not REALLY and I blame myself - I should have, given my educational background. But that goes to show you, that Adhd is so complex- some of the characteristics that can be so infuriating to your partner probably looked like you were doing it on purpose and that breeds resentment (which is why she needs to read). But you have things to do too- read this site to get ideas and lets talk again. In the meantime, take a moment to digest this information and consider this to be your first year to transition into this diagnosis to find yourself and your wife a new "baseline" if that makes sense. Try to take it slow with this diagnosis and with your wife, but you're doing great--keep the love in front and verbal. After two sessions of counseling this week already (one for me alone and one in couple counseling) I feel stronger and ready to face the rest ofthe week. And thats the best I can say for now- And for now, its enough for me. ** By the way, starting NOW dont think of YOU personally as the problem (that kill your self esteem and its not true)- it is the ADHD symptoms which is causing so much heartache...and that is what you (and your family) must come to terms with. Take care DF and be kind to yourself this week- its been a tough one for you!
DF's picture

An update for Lulu

This post of mine has gotten a bit off track, but looking at the people we're talking about it's kind of funny.  It's our forte.

So I decided recently to take some advice from you and Sherri.  I'm starting a routine of telling my wife I love her one time each day.  I'm apprehensive about it because she doesn't reply in kind, but I'm going to work on it regardless.  I'm very concerned about her feeling 'forced' to answer a certain way so I'm going to make an effort to just say it and walk away like tearing off a bandaid.  Last night I sent her a text telling her that I love her and goodnight.  I got no reply, but I'm okay with that because I expected that and her phone is acting funny ( and that is the truth ).

So last night I took another step in trying to beat down my anxiety issues.  She was awake and I rolled on my side to sleep facing her.  No matter what she would do I was not going to beat myself up for several sleepless hours.  I awoke in the middle of the night by her snoring, but she was laying on her side facing me just inches away.  I did not move to save my life and did not mind the snoring at all.  I had also noticed that my foot had found hers in my sleep and she did not move away for as long as I was awake. 

These are giant steps and I feel really good about them.  I will continue to try and keep it simple.  I do not want to over reach and crowd her.  I have a ways to go to earn her love and I'm not going to mess that up.  She is absolutely intoxicating and I fantisize about her daily, but I know I need to keep working on me and concentrate on not hyper-focusing on her.


A message to my wife <Her Name Withheld>:  If you do venture upon this site I'm confident you will know me when you read through my posts.  I love you -

:-) I am happy that you're

:-) I am happy that you're getting some response that is giving you some peace of mind. THAT is so crucial to you, I understand how much 'approval' and 'atta boys' mean to ADHDers...so I'm glad you're getting some 'body language' clues that she's seeing that you're trying. I know this will help motivate you to stay on track. GOOD for you, also, to keep on trying and showing her you love her even when she doesn't reciprocate. She will, just give her time.

I'm a little confused though...could you clarify something for me? You do such an amazing job here of putting your thoughts and feelings into clear and concise words. There is no doubt in my mind that you're A) remorseful beyond the pale for what you've done, B) determined to do things differently from here on out, and C) that you love her and want to be a source of happiness for her instead of pain like in the past. If you can portray that so eloquently here, why are you having such difficulty saying it to the woman you are so insanely in love with? It is much easier, and more comfortable, to say it to us strangers....but you need to step outside your comfort zone and open these lines of communication with your life. You can't spend the rest of your life communicating with her through us, in the hopes that she'll stumble upon your thoughts and then know how you feel. I am no ADHD expert, but I do feel like this is somehow related, but it is also just FEAR keeping you from being able to JUST SAY IT. Just what I'm feeling from your posts....correct me if I'm wrong. You're terrified you'll smother her and push her away..you're terrified you'll be rejected...and you're keeping some very important things inside that she needs to hear.

Just some food for thought..



DF's picture

Yup -

"...Just what I'm feeling from your posts....correct me if I'm wrong. You're terrified you'll smother her and push her away..you're terrified you'll be rejected...and you're keeping some very important things inside that she needs to hear......"

Yup.  No correction required.


In a different post I had mentioned my difficulty.  YYZ explains it well too.  There's so much going on and I have so much to say at one time so I struggle just to get one sentence spoke.  Everything always sounds good in my head so why can't I just say it?  I can talk to anyone and provide valuable insight on the fly without a problem.  But where my wife is concerned....... I want to say the right thing and more often than not I talk for 10 minutes instead of actually answering yes or no.  It grinds her nerves and I can see it and I can see myself trying to overcompensate and regain ground lost -> adding further to her visible frustration.

So I come here to lay it out like so many others.  It's sooooo much easier and if I write her a letter, who wants to sit through a book like that?  Plus it seems a pintch cowardly.  Like breaking up over the phone.  Now I have written letters in the event that I had an accident (non-selfinflicted of course) she would find them and know how I feel about her.  Granted, I've not gone back to read each letter before writing the next because it's like moving forward for me.  I said what I said 6 months ago because that's who I was then - this letter is who I am now.  The next letter will be much more interesting for me to write seeing as how I have a new plot twist in life - ADD. 

I've told her about the letters and what they are meant for.  They are not out in the open, but they can easily be found. 

DF, You provide some

DF, You provide some interesting perspective. Agree w Sherri you can write very eloquently and articulately - it is not cowardly to express your thought in the written word- Plus it gives you a wonderful opportunity for editing. I wonder slightly about the "if something should happen to me" letters. Unless you are in the military, is this really necessary? (sorry i misses it if you are ;)). In any case, I continue my suggestion to now expand this wonderful view you have (and it is great and uplifting) of your wife onto yourself. Take some time to reacquaint yourself with YOU. You talk about concerns of hyperfocu on your wife, and I cant comment on that. But I do think it would help you if you spent some time on how to find your inner peace. Meditation (Jon Kabat Zin is great!), exercise (something cardio?), good nutrition ( check what Hallowell recommends in Driven to Distraction). I just think that if you find balance in yourself it will definitely move to your relationship. Just a suggestion... :)

Second you there on the Jon Kabat Zin

His work on mindfulness is very important, especially for those among us with unhealthy stress and a short fuse. Are you "fly off the handle guys" listening. I am using the work to cure depression in place of more meds.

DF's picture

Such kind words

Oh my you all make it difficult to keep ones anonymity.  It's hard not to get too detailed, but at times one must throw themselves on the sword a bit in order to get the right message across.

I would say that I fall into the creative side of ADD.  I was an art major in college before changing my major 4 or 5 times and then never finishing.  I even wrote a poem that I have kept with me for maybe 15 years that my wife never believed I wrote.  I can paint a picture with words and have made my wife cry with one of my recent projects.  Maybe it was what I said and what I did or maybe it was becasue she had already made up her mind to consult a lawyer....... eh, details.  Then I made her upset at Christmas because I had something made professionally by my design.  It took me over a month to get the title just right.  I wanted her to look at it and see how special she is and that she means a ton to me.  It invoked great sadness in her and instead of it being something special that she can display, it sits in wrapping in another room.  In hindsight it was powerful, but not how I wanted her to react.  I know she appreciates it.  I've never been more proud of one of my creations, but it is what it is. 

I have another stellar idea for her birthday that is much more toned down and will not have a title.  I hope this one will be okay to display..... fingers crossed.

Backing up some.  Yes I can write.  I can spin out a dance of words for all of you, but that's because I'm relaxed and I'm extremely passionate, borderline unhealthy I suppose since it's driven by self-inflicted fury.  I do not believe I'm of a depressive nature since I hate all signs of weakness I display, hence wife at arms length.  My low self esteem has interfered with a lifetime of intimacy and never more important than it is now.  I suffer with quiet rage and I'm seeing that it's because I've not know how to release or convey properly to others.  I've tried meditation, but I should be on medication first before trying again.  My head races and I find that I stop concentrating on breathing and start frowning. 

I put a lot of effort into controlling myself and I've not ever known why.  This would explain why I have a short fuse.  I'm constantly feeling out of control.  It stinks.  I do exercise when time permits, but I get consumed sometimes with sad thoughts and end up stopping early.  Then the rage comes that I failed to accomplish anything.  Yes I would butt heads with my family, No - I would not 'normally' yell.  I knew when I was mad at myself and that's where the anger most often stays.

I have found peace in my knowledge gained from my diagnosis.  I can work on control a lot better - HA! 

I come across very strong in my determination because I have to focus on not failing.  It's so very important to me to be the person I want to be.  So I will get sad at times when I write, but I'm not suicidal.  I'm not in the military, I'm in IT.  When I say "if anything every happens to me" - I'm saying - "If I get hit by a beer truck or something".  No - I'm not a drinker, not since I've gone back to school.

I'm all over the place right now, sorry.  My wife is sitting next to me....not reading, but you never know. 

She has a power over me that I can only explain as love.  I can't think clearly for fear of dissapointing her, but give me a month and I'll find a way to put my heart in one line to her.  So in a nutshell summary....

I'm not a big drinker.  I despise gambling of all kinds.  I don't physically harm my family or call them names.  I'm very mindful of what my kids might hear.  I am broke, but because I spend all my money on my kids sporting events and equipment.  I can't afford to be a compulsive spender, but I do fail to manage my money all the time.  I've long ago given up hope on that.  I do suffer from many of the ADD symptoms, but thought my behavior normal.

I'm a shiny new car with a dent in the drivers side door.  I am here because you all have inspired me.  I've told my co-workers and they all thought it was funny that I didn't already know and they did.  My therapist specifically told me when I asked her - "Oh I can see you're ADD.  I just thought that you knew and it was your MO."  What the flip!?  All these people know but me and my wife?!  Are you kidding me?!  My inner rage is white hot so my tears are mixed emotions. 

My wife is not at my side anymore - went into kitchen.  I'm so upset with myself.  I just want to tell her.  I know I've been far below perfect so before any of you feel too bad for my situation I will remind you that I'm in it because of me.  My wife has tried to tell me, but I've not known there was a problem.  I've neglected her needs.  When I started working days, my job had been so stressful that I unwound at home with a grumpy attitude.  My guilt, my fear, my hurt - my problem.  It takes two to dance to the ADD song, but I'm not asking her yet.  I'm not strong enough.  I'm still learning to walk again.

Bahhhh!  Now that I think of it, she always told me to stop locking her out, that we're partners and we need to work together.......  great I'm still doing it.  Day late dollar short.  Here comes the rage.

"fly off the handle guys"

I wrote to you wishing my children could be around 'my guy', and it's because of the  "fly off the handle" response that causes me to avoid this unity.  The other two men in my life, the Father of my Son and My Dad don't have that response, but have been labeled ADD.  I am very interested in the work you referred to, because it could help bring the first step to unite the people I care so deeply for into one working environment without worry of explosions or leaving anyone out.

some ADHD's have emmotional self regulation issues

related to a tightly wound fight/flight response. Mindfulness is a meditative practice that helps to bring balance back to the brain by slowing things down and allowing adrenal chemicals to subside. It is not religious though it is practiced by a large number of Eastern religions particularly Tibetan monks. There are tons of you tube videos about it. The man who was mentioned is one of the most well known contemporary practitioners.

Good start DF...

Face to face communication of my true thoughts and feelings are easier than they were 2 years ago, but not easy or comfortable for me quite yet. Really for me to be able to put my thoughts on the "Un-Sent" page has been my best communication and has diffused many big blow-ups. My post diagnosis self is still Very aware that continued improvement in needed in the "Real-Time" in person to person communication. I think my wife still thinks she needs to blow-up to get my attention, and sometimes probably does in our busy world. None of us can be aware of every little thing at all times. Un-Learning my "Shut-Down" in the event of confrontation has been very hard for me. I am terrified of saying the wrong thing, too much practice... I can react immediately at times and it takes both of us getting used to the different interactions. My wife has some new coping skills to learn herself :-)

Sherri... You are Good!


DF Reply...

I can relate to much of what you said in your post. I watched my youngest (9) break down last night and I was not much help. Bedtime has been a recurring problem with her since about age 3. The last 2 years have been much better because I knew she needed an exact bedtime routine to follow and she has done well with this system. If things are off schedule, the spiral of out-of-control begins... I try to stay nice, but unwilling to give-in the these irrational demands (Sleeping with Grandma who lives with us) or lying down with her, as I AM NOT going down that road again after so much work. When she gets upset, I know it's real as I have lived it, and I Hate myself for giving this monster to her, although she is undiagnosed, but she is Exactly like me :-(

One thing you said Really stuck out to me, you said "I don't even think I told her that I'd lie awake endlessly, hoping she would show interest in me "... I have laid in get awake for hours thinking it was a possiblilty, then when it was apparently not going to happen, no sleep for hours...


DF's picture

Is what it is I guess

You guys have been a joy to read as well as some others in the various posts.  It's hard, true, but I'm glad for the sense of direction I've never had.  I hate feeling spineless in front of my wife.  it is not an attractive quality, so I will work on that. 

I too see me in my 11 yr old son.  It takes so much for me to gain some sort of control of my frustration.  I hate being angry, but then isn't that being angry at me now?  Unbelievable.  A vicious cycle.  I try so hard to help my son understand that I do understand him.  I took him with me to my evaluation last night and I laugh about parts of it.  The therapist was asking him questions and I kept going into my normal mode of taking control of the conversation.  I saw that the therapist wasn't looking at me and only at my son and repeating the questions.  I sooooo  feel like I'm living an episode of the Dog Whisperer and I'm the dog.  It's both amusing and informative.  I see there's much work for me to do.

Lulu - I saw my wife last night sleeping again.  She is the most beautiful sight.  She cares for me and I see it.  I will continue to try and not be so focused on her.  It's counter productive and it's suffocating her.  It's what I have to do if I want to see her more often as I saw her last night sleeping.  I've not been a good person for a lot of years and I'm not going to be able to just stop beating myself up over that.  I can only work on the person I want to be.  And who knows, maybe one day she will come to me for a hug........

As I so often tell myself ( I have an alarm that reminds me daily ) - It's not enough to show her, she has to believe the change is permanent.

When the time is right


Although I'm not the one with ADD in my relationship, I have a very similar communication issue as yours. I have a very hard time getting my thoughts to go from brain to mouth. Recently, I have found that writing it all down and reading it to my partner works. He understands my difficulties and is happy to have any form of sincere communication from me. Plus, it has actually helped my brain - mouth connection, although there is still progress to be made. Instead of staying silent when I'm unhappy, I'll be able to give him an idea of how I'm feeling and why. So when the time is right and you and your wife are ready to communicate with each other, maybe you can write down what you feel. Having it on paper can really help keep you on track and focused. I don't think she will be able to doubt your seriousness because you WILL get emotional while reading it if you truly mean it.

Also, thank you for sharing. I hope you are able to share with your son, too, and to make sure he gets the tools he needs to live up to his full potential. My boyfriend was diagnosed as a child but received only medication at one point but he does have siblings with issues so his parents were spread pretty thin. I think his issues were put on he back burner and now I am the one who will have to help get him on track on top of paying all the bills and working two jobs. You are right that you will have to show her that your changes are for real and that they are permanent. Actions speak louder than words. Keep it up and she will begin to see it.

DF: More common...

You said "I hate feeling spineless in front of my wife. it is not an attractive quality,.." Ditto... and my wife would say it's not attractive that feels like she can say anything and Not get a rise out of me verbally.

I too have always gotten so angry with my 9 year old... I know why now, and I try so hard to not raise my voice at all, but I also won't let her get her way because of it, then my wife ALWAYS steps in and let's her complete the victory and now I'm even more angry because there is NO count of me even Trying to do better, it's only a mockery of my attempts to do so... Even last night I know how mad I used to get, eventually yelling at my daughter, before ADD diagnosis, now I'm caught in the middle of trying to keep a child who needs boundaries desperately, understanding where the late night mental spiraling out of control is coming from (I gave it to her) and my wife Not acknowledging that I make any attempts to be better. I was not going to give in to my daughter, then she sets it as a new standard. I was mad she said something ugly to me and I walked out of the room. Knowing how this terrible separation will consume her thoughts, I went back in and told her I did not want her to go to bed with bad thoughts, I told her how much I loved her and that we think alike, and I was like her as a child, but she had to respect her parents. Well... my wife who always lurks close by, only hears me get mad, nothing my daughter utters quietly, mocks my attempts, then goes to the rescue... Another young undiagnosed ADDer enabled again.

The next test for our marriage will be when I tell my wife that my 9 year old Needs to be assessed  for ADD. I'll be damned if I let her go through life feeling like I did, if there is something that can help correct her undiagnosed ADHD.

Congratulations on your first steps


early assment

first, let me say that you guys have to stop with the guilt and shame (DF and XYZ) ADHD is not a "monster" nor a disease, is is a difference ;an anachronism of sorts. This book was tremendously helpful in helping me to understand this. http://www.4-adhd.com/article6.html We are square pegs in round holes so to speak. Don't go telling your children that your sorry how defective you have made them. But do get the assessment.

Russell Barkley has done one of the longest and largest longitudinal studies on ADHD children into adulthood and he is adamant that early detection is key to improving quality of life in the long run. Understanding this early on helps you to develop coping skills that will avert some of the most detrimental effects of ADHD. It also helps us to understand how important structure is for our ADHD kids. One of the issues we ADHDs have in parenting is consistency. This is what blows our kids up. You have to pick battles carefully and one at a time. Don't fight on every nuance and detail. Once you decide something with your spouse stick to it. We have found out that changes in routine so unbalance our 2 ADHD kids that we had to stop the sleeping in on weekends thing. We only allow 1/2 hour extra and bed time is 1 hour later. At night I check for books, flashlights etc because otherwise all hell breaks loose in the am.

When you are being challenged, don't compromise, not even once. Just say no firmly, and again, and again..... No, strong and firm, no, not NOOOOOOO!!!! Be aware that you are prone to blow ups and take several deep breaths. Your fight or flight response is going into launch mode and will cause you grief. Go into the bathroom and splash cold water on the back of your neck and tell yourself out loud to speak calmly and firmly. Speaking invokes cognitive function and stops your adrenal system from overloading.

Above all, forgive yourself. You are no more to blame than if your children had been born with a heart defect. You did not purposely set out to create a defective child. We are different more than defective and it is contingent on you to discover your strengths and abilities so that you can model positive attributes to your children. Taking control of ADHD issues effectively is a fantastic way to show your kids how to be in the world. Think of this like having telepathy. Without control, you would hear all the voices around you and go mad. If you can control it, you have a gift. Its a matter of perspective.



With my youngest Schedule and Repetition is absolutely key. Last night we were out of schedule and she was challenging me. I perfected bedtime because of this technique, but because of my past yelling moments trying to "Not give in, because it sets a precedent" My efforts were always under minded by my wife coming to save the day. Do you think my daughter has figured this out, Of Course... Last night was like stepping back into the past, except I did not yell, I was Firm with a raised voice level, but not yelling. My mind was much more organized, agitated, of course, but I was thinking of what's happening in her tired ADHD mind. When I left the room I knew that what I last said was not nice, referencing grounding if I had to come back in, so I did not want that to be her last thought before going to sleep, so I went back in and told her that we said some not nice things and I wanted her to know how much I loved her, but she did have to mind me. It did not seem to help her, but I know it was right.

Of course my wife had been listening around the corner and only heard the louder moments, ridiculed my handling of the situation, and went in to lay down with her and sooth her. Precedent set, again... My heart breaks when she is so upset, because I know these feelings, but I also have to be a parent too. By 10pm it is hard on me as my Adderall is gone, but I am so much better than the old days and it is not noticed. After this event I know that my childs needs are first and my wife will be PO'd when I suggest she go to a therapist to check for the obvious. My guilt is waiting this long to confirm the obvious. I have only told my kids I have ADD and apologize only for past over-reactions and use the Monster term in this forum. My daughter is smart and on her own keeps telling me she thinks she has ADD. Believe me "Pick your Battles" in one of my main strategies.

Thanks Simora


look for basic parenting workshops in your community

tell her that you need to learn these techniques now that you are making changes and you need her there so she can help you reinforce those techniques. The workshops are way cheaper than therapy and way more appropriate. Telling her it is your issue takes any type of blame away from her and saves feelings in the interest of helping your child. For your edification, I am the strong arm in our house and my kids always tell me I am the favourite parent.  It is not an ego thing, it is because children crave structure and it is detrimental not to provide it.

Last night was a weird flash-back

I think that was what caught me so off-guard. I have my youngest figured out. My wife and I agree on most parenting approaches. I am more of a hard ass, because I have a harder time reading visual cues. To me... Stay home sick, sure... If you have a fever and/or throwing up, otherwise you are going to school. Bedtime has been the biggest issue. We have watch the Super Nanny consulted with other friends. I believe bedtime is in it's twilight hours, the oldest is a teenager (All new problems coming) and our 9 year old who hast to be really out of sorts and off schedule to be an issue at night. To add to last night, my wife had been out of town for 3 days. Tonight... back to the routine, just like normal. My youngest was very sweet tonight and did everything right. She needs structure and routine as bad as me. Chaos = Pain and Suffering :-)

DF's picture

YYZ - Dude......

I'm sorry but you are making my sides split open.  You and I are very similar as we keep reassuring each other. 

"...I know how mad I used to get, eventually yelling at my daughter, before ADD diagnosis, now I'm caught in the middle of trying to keep a child who needs boundaries desperately, understanding where the late night mental spiraling out of control is coming from (I gave it to her) and my wife Not acknowledging that I make any attempts to be better...."

Look I give my wife all the credit in the world.  She's lasted this long right?  But, I too felt that was the case as you state.  I've been fighting myself for a long time now before diagnosis to just stop yelling and trying to control the anger.  What would make it worse is when my son goes to my wife griping about me.  Oh man it takes every ounce of every fiber of my entire being to control myself.  I hate saying this and I hate that I feel this way, but until the past week or so I had no idea why I would feel this way.  So it just complicated matters so much for me.

All I knew and all I wanted was/is to handle the situation.  Things have been hard for my wife and all I wanted to do is make her home a safe haven of sorts.  A place she can come to just detox from a long day.  So when my son is all worked up and I know she hears him, I don't know that she hears me "not yelling".  Case in point, the other day there was a meltdown about homework.  He kept taking a sledgehammer to my buttons and smashing them, but I held fast on my frustration only to have my son go to his mom and gripe.  I felt so useless and defeated and very much like the enemy in everyones life. 

I was so incredibly distraught by this that later in the evening I couldn't help but just want to go away.  My wife's feet and calves were sore from a spent day and I was granted the permission to help ease that soreness.  I don't get to do this often and it means a lot to me because I want so bad to re-establish trust and that I'm not asking for anything in return.  it's about her and that's what I want it to be - no strings attached.  I want to help her anyway I can, but that night, having recently come to this website and being overwhelmed with everything, I just couldn't help but want to go crawl away somewhere.  I needed my wife, but had no faith in myself and it was all consuming.  So I stopped being there for her before I really wanted to ( walked away ) and I took away from myself something so precious as her appreciation. 

I want my family to be happy.  I'm so tired of being the bad guy. 


I am wondering how/what has allowed you to make such amazing progress with your acceptance of ADHD so you do not play the blame/defensiveness/denial game.  My husband and I separated nearly 3 months ago and are headed I suppose for divorce.  We did enter marriage counseling again last week, and I am trying to be open, honest, admit my mistakes, etc.  However, all I get on the opposing end is blame for everything that has happened in our 17 years together, accusations of controlling his life, and denial that ADHD has had an impact on our marriage.  

He has been diagnosed for a year and a half and is still trying to get the exact meds correct.  He did make many changes, but it was terribly slow progress for our already spiraling marriage.  We started taking the online course earlier this winter, but he wouldn't continue as he did not want to accept the impact of ADHD.  I've done so much on my end that he refuses to acknowledge: counseling, meds for depression, constant positive support for the littlest steps he has made.  He refuses to read anything on this site because it's all "too depressing".  I'm at the point--you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

How have you made these great leaps and bounds?  What has allowed you to accept the situation and move forward?

Thanks for your thoughts...


I don't know about "Amazing Progress", but thank you :-)

The diagnosis offered explanations, not excuses, for SO many ways in which I behaved. I thought all of my short comings were because I was selfish, absent minded, oblivious and so on... I thought I was just weak compared to others. I reacted well the the Adderall and dove into getting my ADD under control. I have half of my life in front of me and I am going to do better! The ADD is still there, I can still make bad decisions, but things are getting better. I don't want to sit around in the fog anymore, I feel better, act better (some may disagree). Like any problem, there is a solution or at least a way to improve things. I'm a programmer/analyst so once I have a plan I move to the next step. My own marriage is up and down and my wife does not think ADD is really a factor, but she does not want to learn more about it, either. She has issues, like me, and does not have the "Easy" results that I have and is not real happy about it. I own my ADD and am working on controlling it. Thanks for your kind words. YYZ
DF's picture

This is creeping me out

YYZ - it's getting to the point that there's too much in common as far as you and I are concerned - but for wives.... different scenarios.  I'm getting closer to asking you to come to my house and talk to my wife for me so I can continue to be the chicken I am.  ;)

JS - Hmmmm.  To give perspective, but without implying I know more than I do.  I'll try.  So here's what I have.  My.......... 'attitide' towards my wife had come from my belief that she will always be here no matter what.  My 'attitude' changed with the job I have now.  It's very demanding, but the opportunity is huge so I've stayed there.  After 3 years it's getting easier and less stressful, but already too late.  She continued to support me and manage me and the family while I worked and stressed - "Isn't that enough?".  Quite a common misconception of males.

Things came to a head about one year ago.  She's been under a lot of financial / emotional stress - no thanks to me and I proceeded to have an outburst in public.  My first ever.  And her father and brother had front row seats.  This was the straw that broke the camels back.  I didn't speak for days because i was so ashamed and so horrified by what I had done and my inner fury stewed.  This made things worse.  It was then that when I finally spoke to my wife about it I told her I needed to be a better person for her and this time I was really going to try hard.  Well......  turns out cleaning the bathroom everyday before bedtime and washing dishes made me a bit obsessive compulsive and I still neglected "her" needs.  I ended up channeling my frustration to my oldest son because like me, he has ADD and we butt heads constantly.  

This also wore down my wife.  Then came a family trip on our anniversary some months later.  I had HUGE plans to bond with the kids and give her some self time.  Night of the trip, plans changed and I was devastated and blew up at my wife - no name calling, I don't do that.  Doesn't justify it though.  So for 9 hours in the car I fumed and said nothing.  Bad for me.  Marriage went far south from here. 

It got worse because I knew something was wrong.  I knew I was a problem.  I just didn't know what to do to fix it.  I couldn't see it.  This is when I began to hyper-focus.  Talk about going from bad to worse.  While my wife was upset, I was constantly on her daily.  I left little notes for her and was generally just suffocating her.  As her mood failed to get better I tried harder.  Bad for me. 

So, whether this is what drove my wife over the edge I may never know.  We don't discuss it as she does not wish too.  I don't push it because I don't want to see her upset with me.  We've come a long way.  I've been working on me for 10 months.  It wasn't until 2 weeks ago I found a name for my struggles and an understanding of it to know how to better control what's been bothering me.  I've been asking myself "why" for so many years.  "Why" am I doing what I do and "why" can't I just do what she would ask of me? 

Now that I've gone way off track..... I find your husband fortunate in that he was diagnosed a long time ago.  Had I been diagnosed so long ago, i would still have a willing partner to work with.  I'm in charge of my freight train alone and it's hard, but it can't be any worse that what my wife or you have been going through for such a long time.  I don't have a lot of sympathy for an ADD spouse that isn't giving their best effort.  I'm sorry.  It angers me when I'm trying so hard to make a new future that people could be so careless with a second opportunity.  The non-ADD(HD) spouse from most of these posts I've read, have had a long time of struggling.  My heart goes out to all of you for the effort you continue to give and to my wife for still being with me, even if there's still distance.

Maybe I'm so determined because I've known something was wrong for so long, but not known what it was in which to address it.  Maybe it's because I felt like my wife left our marriage and I knew that wasn't what we wanted.  She wanted something better from me and I couldn't tell what that was.  My wife provided me with the desire to find out what I needed to do.  I checked all the web sites for "Oh my wife is ignoring me..." - I could not relate to any of them.  No offense to them but I had nothing in common and I felt like less of a man for having read such crying. 

Then something, I don't know what or how to explain it, but something drew me to look into Adult ADD.  That's when I started to open my eyes to my condition.  I've been in denial for a very long time.  I then stumbled into this site and I've never found more in common with anyone in my life than I have with the strangers here.  I was reading posts from other people and could have sworn it was me writing them.  I found a base for my strength. 

JS - the difference between your husband and me or YYZ or Simora and a few others is that we're on the level about what's going on with with us and we come here to tell people with /without ADD(HD) that there's hope.  In the same hand, I get hope from the spouses like you that are trying hard to make it work.  If we can better understand our situations, we can address the things that need to be 'tweaked' to make everyone's life a bit nicer.

Have your husband read this original post at the beginning and my initial reply to Lulu.  Yes, I can come across as being a bit depressing, but that's my grief from knowing how I've hurt the people I care about.  It's also my inner rage and stubborn determination to make life better for everyone.  I have a problem, but that just means I have the ability to address it.  I don't want to be depressing.  I don't want anyone to start feeling sorry for me.  I'm here as the problem.  I'm here to keep reminding myself that I'm going to win and after 12 years of my wife taking my lumps, she's more than welcome to slap me around some.  I will not fall and I will not fail her or my family. 

JS - your spouse has the unique ability to have the power of change on his side.  But he has to accept it and grow.  The Dude has to want too. 

How about...

You talk to my wife and I'll talk to your wife :-)

JS... Your has to get to the "Face the Facts" phase before progress can be made. His reactions, I understand well...

Well guys... It's 10:30 and I am here on the pc. I better go to bed and give a little sign that I have learned something :-)


fuzzylogic72's picture

DF- I totally agree with lulu

Therew's nothing I can add to what she said; it's a great idea. As for communicating, I'd let her know how it felt in my head (just try to describe it on paper for yourself first, just for clarity) when I want to express something but can't b/c I'm afraid having it come out wrong, or whatever. I think that was a run-on sentence; eek. Anyways, what worked for for me was to give her that description as best as I could, and tell her you want her to know these things, and you appreciate the exchange and would it be ok if you wrote them to her in an email. Then there is none of that face-to-face, on the spot anxiety or pressure. Also, she would be able to read it, re-read it, and think about it. Then she could approach you to discuss those things, if she wanted to. Or she could even write her own reply, and you could do the same. It might sound odd, but it's baby steps man; we all need tools and tricks to get us through some things. Plus, you're IT; she should get it!

PS- I TOTALLY hear you about the getting the hand-slap for the "smirk" that apparently quite a few of us must unwittingly wear when under pressure.

You sound like a DF (Damn Fine) husband, and a good man. Don't get discouraged; there's good things ahead.

fuzzylogic72's picture

oh yeah..

I forgot; you asked how we deal with this stuff, and stay optimistic? We don't, it's just a front; inside we're all depressed and miserable. Haha, kidding. But I put my answer to that question under the forum heading "other"; the thread is called Pivotal Moments.



DF's picture

small update

2 full weeks and no steps backward and it feels really good.   Thank you all for your various comments and posts, not just to my comments.  You have all helped me with strength and courage.  I'm making great progress in the area of facing my rejection deamons.  I have taken lots of advice under consideration and to heart. 

I still do not think my wife is ready to find this site and read the things I can't seem to even put in writing correctly to her, but I believe she knows how important it is for me to address ADD and take responsibility.  Last night she came to me and gave me a hug before going out with friends.  I'm sure some of you can imagine from your own situations how great that feels.  It makes life worth living when the one you love makes a simple gesture like that - No I'm not suicidal or crazy stalker type.  It does make me feel more like a "poophead" for all the years of neglect she dealt with, but that hug makes me feel like I can beat this F&*($ING ADD.

I really do think that I'm making better progress with my grief over my diagnosis.  It doesn't hurt all the time now and I can take more of a thoughtful inspection of what my life is and has been.  There is still some pain.  Yesterday I took Sherri's advice (again!) and asked her what she wanted for mothers day.  I got the expected response - "You don't have to get me anything".  Hearing that was like pouring salt on a fresh wound.  With the help of meds I was able to control my speach, but I told her it was important to me that I never not get her something.  The nice thing is I didn't feel the steel walls come up and enclose her.

Got to keep focusing on me and not getting too antsy.  I do not want to crowd her.  I really hope she finds you all on this site.  There's some great people here.  I have no words to describe what you have helped do for me and I'm great with words....... ;)

Writting here...

DF... Your writing here is helping you Defrag that hard drive in your head and sort through things you did not know or understand. You might begin to notice, after a while, that some of these thoughts begin to find themselves in conversations with your wife, and or, cause you to think of ways to re-think approaches to your wife, like M-Day gifts. You may "Hear" seemingly random things she says and equate them into a list of possible gifts. If you say "Honey... I was thinking about getting you a "Widget" for M-Day, because you mentioned "X" a few weeks ago" then she does not have to tell you what to get :-) I sound experienced with this dance, because I have been throught it "A Few" times :-) I wouldn't push her onto the site, she knows about it and will start looking if she wants to look, but as I have suggested to Sherri (Mrs. Great Insight) this site can put new fears into a fragile process as easily as make her feel comforted by not feeling alone in her experience. The Big Mixed Bag of Info... As usual I related to your post, so I had to respond :-)



Hi DF Glad your weeks are

Hi DF Glad your weeks are going well! Need to hear the good here- we too often hear the not... Why shoukd she have to come here to this site at all? Its all good- you are communicating more, telling her you love her, all the makings of a great start. Let this site be for you, if that is a better dynamic- She'll reap the benefits either way if you become more centered on your own personal process. I want to add, that I wish I coyld convey how important it is to work on your self esteem. I disagree- if I could be so bold to say low self esteem does not seem to be a given in adhd. Rather it results from the fallout of having it, right? You may have to deal with the problems with organized thought, unfiltered input.. All that, but the low self esteem seems better addressed with working on how you feel about yourself -and the story that goes along with it. I've suffered from low self esteem for decades and am only now coming to terms with it. You have to or else you can keep making a self fulfilling prophecy of failure (seeming), attracting negative people, and perpetuating the bad feelings about yourself that keep you in hell. It starts with the willingness to let that go, even if it (ironically) is something comfortung to cling to- feeling bad about ourselves is the only thing some of us have known --- so think about breaking away from this mindset. And only you can do it- like you said, anyone can say you are awesome but only you are the one to let yourself believe it. Start slow, it starts to come if you let it. And your interpersonal relationships will improve as well ( you have to really love you before you let others do it too)...


I agree here.  Allowing yourself to feel good and accept praise, accept your accomplishments, etc. is so important to knocking down that wall of shame/guilt.  Over the years, I have complimented my husband's intelligence constantly...but he wouldn't allow himself to hear it.  When he started to make really positive changes in his life, and I supported him with positive comments, he would not allow himself to hear it.  Somehow he must feel a comfort in it, but it keeps that wall up.

Ita not easy and I dont mean

Ita not easy and I dont mean to say that those w low self esteem do it intentionally. You hear these negative voices so long that sometimes it feels more like who you are ("Im crap, Im stupid, I'll never succeed") that it is suffocating. Truly Ive gotten to the point I feel like I can not breathe, and there are some days that if Im tired, stressed and certain events or people cross my way...then I have to be careful to not let myself sink (i try to go to bed or be alone those times or be around really positive people if I can). But I also know that as I try to.break out of this mindset- to really do it, my fears of failure and that internal "mean" voice tries to bring me back. And its tempting because if I dont go back its means facing what I dont know...chance at bigger failure. I dont know if that makes sense but... Im trying to be good to myself. And Im really trying to keep more positive people and energy around me than not. That helps a lot. Its not easy... But I am hitting my own tipping point!! Slow and steady! :)

Low self esteem

One way to start to attack low self-esteem is to personalize the "voice" in your head - picture it, then talk back to it or "set it aside."  Spend five minutes each morning, breathing deeply, and talking to yourself (inside your head or aloud) about how that voice is not reality...it's fear.

Another thing to keep in mind about self esteem is it is directly related to performance.  So as you start to get a handle on ADHD symptoms (particularly memory and organization issues) you will start to be able to convincingly tell yourself "Go away, voice.  I CAN do this!"

So to the original poster - you are clearly moving in the right direction.  Get some specific help on being more organized about your time - perhaps a book like Ari Tuckmans "More Attention/Less Deficit" or a coach can help you.  Get a calendar system you like, and track EVERYTHING you must remember.  Use alarms, beeps, email alerts...and bring what you need to be doing into the "now" at the time you most need to do it.  You'll see a big improvement if you do this, I bet.

One more thing - I agree with the poster who said that your progress is important to you - and that you shouldn't hang your hat on having your wife come here.  As you make progress she will most likely notice - perhaps she already is doing so and the hug you so appreciated was part of her way of letting you know she appreciates your effort.  Understand that she probably won't tell you she's noticing anything for a while because she won't want to "curse" your progress this way (and because in the past you probably had difficulty sustaining change...)

Universal Low Self Esteem

My wife is constantly putting herself down and she is the NonADDer in my life. She does not accept compliments about her looks, her being a good mom, wife, daughter, household state. It is never good enough because someone's house is cleaner or weighs less after kids or does more activities for the school... I have told her for years that she is the only one criticizing herself this hard. She does not accept this... I have lost weight since I don't feel addicted to food and like to exercise, so I "Can't be attracted to her"?!? I "must" want to be with someone "Like me"?!? There is not anything I have come up with to make her stop the self bashing. I have ADD and don't project low self esteem, but that is my coping mechanism. LSE is a real problem for many and I wish I knew how stop it...