Hoping I am not alone

This is my first post ever on any site dealing with ADHD and I am hoping I can find the answers I am looking for. I am sure like many others I have a complex background that has brought problems into my current marriage. I have been married for almost 4 wonderful years to my wife Amanda who I found is my one true love. She was that one person you met and immediately changed your entire picture of what was and really felt like. I was diagnosed late in my teenage life with ADHD after it had cause a lot of problems in school and relationships. I was on medication and trying to control things that had previously caused me great discomfort. I was told that college wasn't probably a good idea because it would be so hard for me to get good enough grades. I was a bad test taker and it was really hard to sit through lectures. I wanted to prove people wrong and I did, I graduated and went to work right out of school for a very large company. The part of college I didn't tell you was I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for a couple of years and still managed to get through things. I got help after the relationship ended but never went long enough. I went from relationship to relationship and never felt what I thought it needed to continue. Then I met Amanda who showed me a new outlook on life, she was a wonderful woman who I finally felt comfortable with. We got married in May of 2004 and its still the happiest day of my life; I can smile every time I think about it. We had a wonderful first few years of marriage but I think my ADHD that I had left behind with college was still present and doing small amounts of damage without really knowing it. I had figured I had outgrown the problem and I could get along fine on my own. Our first daughter was born on 5/5/05 and things were wonderful. In January 2007 we were getting close to our second child together and I remember the day like it was yesterday. January 3rd when we were going to bed I did what I did a lot, I was feeling her belly and feeling the baby kick and move, it was a wonderful feeling and I loved doing that before we went to bed, I remember the baby having hiccups and we were laughing about it. The next morning same usual moments I felt and nothing out of the ordinary. She already had her OB appointment planned for that morning so i was excited to hear all about everything. She called me and told me that she was at the doctors and they couldn't find a heartbeat. I immediately ran out of work and over to be with her, I was a total wreck. We learned that the baby hadn't made it and they didn't know why yet. We would have to go to the hospital and deliver the baby as normal and that happened on January 5. That was the hardest day of my life and Amanda's. I was as strong as i could be for her and my family as she needed every ounce of support. We learned later from reports that there was nothing conclusive that caused the death, the placenta was more calcified than it should of been and there was some news that Amanda could have issues if we had another baby. This was all coming at us so fast, I am still wondering how with everything going on in my head I help it all together. To make things worse we had to make a decision of not having any more kids for Amanda's safety, I didn't want to lose my wife. Now during this time I was working a lot more and doing anything I could to take my mind off of things. i was talking to others and trying to understand why things happened the way they did. I had a friend that I had dated before I met Amanda and she was there to comfort me and we were still friends and nothing more. I remember spending a lot of nights awake trying to understand why all this happened to my family, Amanda, and me. I know I wasn't thinking clearly and Amanda asked if I needed help but I just said I would be fine. Well I wasn't fine and I ended up one day doing something that wasn't anything I ever said I would do once I was married. I had an inappropriate relationship with this past person. I don't know why I let it happen and i knew it was wrong but none of that came to me until after it had happened. I was so mad at myself and struggling with all the pain and mixed emotions. I did what I had learned to do before when you are emotionally abused, hide it deep inside and don't even think about remembering it. I went on as if nothing had happened and it was fine until a few weeks ago when Amanda found out about things and confronted me about them. To me nothing happened and I just denied everything, I really wanted to tell he everything because I knew I needed help and we would probably work through things at that point, but no, I lied like I have done in the past. She moved out the next day and is currently staying with family while we try and sort things out. I was in such denial that I needed help with my ADHD and how destructive it can be. I went over there last night and sat down with her parents and admitted what I had done with another person and how I didn't mean for it to happen and I tried to tell them about my ADHD and I am currently going to a psychiatrist to get all the help I need. I am going to make sure that I get everything sorted out and every ounce of help that I need. The bad part is that her parents and her see it as an excuse to explain what happened. I never went looking for this to happen with another woman and its not something I wanted to do but how do I say that to her. Maybe I am nuts and there is no hope for me but I am hoping by telling my story there is someone else out there that know what its like not to be able to control your decisions no matter how wrong they are. I also know that with lots of help and dedication that I can over come this and work with my wife to get things straightened out. I want to earn every ounce of her trust back. I broke a promise to her when we got married and I am so upset at myself for doing that. If anyone can help me out with this I would really appreciate it. Amanda is my one true love and I have known it all along but so many things got in the way and I hate blaming it on ADHD but looking back at the signs, they were all there. I love her and I am going to do what ever I need to do to show her I can beat ADHD and make sure it never controls me again. She deserves a loving, caring husband and father. Thanks for anyone’s help!

Unfortunate affair

You don't mention in your post whether or not you slept with this other woman once or whether or not it was a longer, more emotionally charged encounter.  It makes a difference, I think, in terms of how I suggest you approach your wife and her parents.  I'll be looking for your reply. 

Melissa Orlov

More info...

We were together just once last April after losing my daughter in January and my wife having some medical complications associated with sugery. I was trying to be strong but it was really harder than I think I could handle. i think that I thought it was an emotional affair for awhile before it but as I am looking back it was random and periodic. The actual sleeping together just happened once.

to EMU

okay.  I'll write you a thoughtful reply tomorrow (when I'm not at the end of my day)

Melissa Orlov

One Time Affair

Thanks for your fast reply yesterday with further details about how many times you had slept with the other woman.  I'm sorry I wasn't able to get back to you last evening, as I'm sure this is a tough time for you, but I try not to write about big topics at the end of the day when my mind isn't working as well.  I know that people take what I say here seriously, and I try my hardest to be thoughtful.

Your situation is hard, but I'm hoping you and your wife will be able to overcome it and put your marriage back together again.  Though you will never have quite the same relationship as you did before you slept with the other woman, you can hope for a relationship in which you both have a better understanding of both your strengths and your weaknesses and that you love each other in spite of them.

I would not use ADD as a reason for your straying from your marriage.  I agree with your in-laws when they say that you are using your ADD as an excuse.  Furthermore, if you do pin your infidelity on your ADD you risk having your wife decide that since ADD is a permanent part of you she isn't willing to risk having her heart broken again.

And it doesn't seem as if ADD is the issue, in any event.  When you say that you thought before you slept with this woman that it might be an emotional affair, you suggest that you spent a certain amount of time getting to know her before you slept with her.  That means that it wasn't completely impulsive.  No, you reached out to her because you were completely, emotionally drained and needy from the trauma that you had suffered as a family from the loss of your daughter and your wife's medical problems.

What I hope you have learned from all of this is that you reached in the wrong direction.  There is no doubt that your wife was equally as devastated by the loss of your child and by her health issues as you were.  Hopefully, next time you run into emotional trauma like this you will turn to her...and work through the issue together.  As you may have decided by now, a better choice, if you are faced with a situation this traumatic again, is to admit your feelings of being overwhelmed, and seek professional help for yourself and, if she wants it, for her.  It is okay to be overwhelmed - everyone is overwhelmed at different points in their lives!  But make sure you show the respect your marriage deserves by dealing with it constructively.

Since you are in another situation that feels overwhelming right now, I'm going to offer some suggestions about how you might deal with this situation constructively.  Take those that feel right to you, and see if you can use them to start patching things up with your wife.  As you are doing so, remember that trust takes a very long time to build (and can be destroyed in a second), so don't expect her to suddenly act towards you right away in the loving way she used to.  She's going to be dealing with this for at least a year.  At the end of this note, I will also give you some insight into the process that your wife will go through as she heals from the hurt you have given her.

Some ideas for constructively dealing with your current situation:

  • Accept that you did what you did because you were emotionally fragile, not because of your ADD.
  • Apologize to your wife without any excuses or caveats.  Tell her that you know that what you did was wrong and stupid and that you are sorry that you hurt her so deeply.  Tell her that you have learned a great deal by thinking about the mistake that you made when you looked outward to address the emotional pain of losing a child and her health issues (and not being able to have a child again??this was unclear to me from your note) and that you promise never, ever to cheat on her again.
  • Apologize for lying to her when she confronted you.  Tell her that your lying to her was a kneejerk response related to your fear of losing her and that you hope some day she'll forgive you for that lie.  Promise that you will always be truthful with her in the future.
  • Let her know that you understand that you have violated her trust and that it will take a long time for you to earn it back, but that you fully intend to do so if she will only give you the opportunity.  You would like her input about how you can do so effectively.
  • Tell her how much you love her.
  • (At a different time) tell her that you have no feelings for that other person, and that you will never talk to that woman again (and stick by this one - it doesn't matter if this person was your best childhood friend.  Because you slept with her, your relationship is now OVER.  If not, you are in serious risk of losing your wife.  Don't even call this woman to tell her your relationship is over.  Just NEVER talk to her again.  This is an important part of earning back your wife's trust.)
  • Ask your wife what she needs from you at this point, and listen to her response.  You are the guy in the dog house right now.  If she says that she needs you to stand on your head, you should seriously consider doing so.
  • My only exception to this rule is that if your wife tells you that she needs you to go away, you should interpret that as needing space, but you should not disappear.  Instead, try to get at how you can support her need for space and healing (thus showing her how much you love and respect her) but demonstrate that THIS TIME you aren't going to abandon her in her time of need.  Again, ask her what she needs, specifically.  If she needs counselling, either separately or together, support that.  If she demands that you start to address your ADD symptoms, take that seriously and set up the proper appointments with doctors to do so.
  • Consider talking with her parents and telling them the same kinds of things as I've put above.  Parents see a lot over the years, and they will likely appreciate your straight-forward, no excuses apology.  They will also be looking for demonstrations that you have learned from your experiences, and that you are ready to dig in and make things better for their daughter.

I promised that I would write a little bit about what it is like to recover from discovering your spouse has been stepping out on you.  First, your wife may ask for details...or she may not.  If she does, you should be 100% honest with her, with the exception that you DO NOT wish to say that the other woman was better sexually than she was, even if that was the case.  In addition, it is not at all in your best interests to show any remaining enthusiasm for that other woman if any exists (I don't think this is the case with you, but I could be guessing wrong.)  Now, some people will disagree with my statement about being honest about the other woman, but in your case your wife is making a big deal about your lying to her...and I think that she is going to be looking for you to lie to her again...and if you do, I think she will be out that door for good.  I have some experience with this point of view and so may be biased, however.  When my husband's girlfriend called me on the phone to tell me he was lying to me about her I made sure to get all the details about their relationship (where, when they had been together, etc) from her that she was willing (stupidly) to share.  I then asked him a bunch of pointed questions about the two of them.  If he had lied on ANY of them, I would have been gone.  At that point I would have been in a position where I would have felt that I could never have trusted him to be honest with me again.  Luckily, at that point, he knew better and their stories completely lined up.  I think the honesty thing (properly and gently delivered) is about "is this person putting "me" and "us" before himself.  If so, he can still be a good spouse.  If not, then there is real question as to whether or not we can repair our relationship adequately."  So that is the background of why I think you need to be honest, even if it is painful to you (and it will certainly be painful to your wife, so make sure that you are as gentle with your honesty as possible.)

Second, if she is like me, she is going to imagine what your having sex with that other woman was like for a long time.  Your sex life with your wife will suffer as a result, at least in the short term.  You'll need to remember that sex will sometimes bring anger to the fore, and rather than respond in kind, remind yourself to be patient and supportive.  Try to make sex special, and follow your wife's cues while pushing for as much emotional closeness as you can (it's a tough dance - making sure that she knows over and over again how much you love her, and also respecting her hurt and pain when she expresses it.)

Third - don't be tempted to blame your wife for your infidelity.  It does not matter that she was emotionally distraught or unavailable at the time (if she was).  There are a number of ways that you could have responded to your own hurt, including seeing a therapist of some sort.  You, and you alone, are the person who chose to have the affair.  When she gets angry some time in the future (and it will come up in spurts and starts for quite a while) accept and acknowledge that anger, don't fight it.  One of the smartest and best things that my husband did for us as a couple was let me be angry when I needed to be.  By respecting my anger, he gave me the opportunity to get over it.  If he had fought my anger by trying to justify himself or by pointing out how tired he was of my anger, he would have further fueled the flames, and we would have moved into permanent conflict mode (and probably divorce).  I respect his choices (and they must have been hard at the time) and thank him for them.

In my opinion, there are a few more things that you need to deal with.  You need to understand that in order to have your marriage remain successful in the future (should you repair it now, which I think you might) you must do the following things:

  • make yourself remain faithful to her.  If you find yourself getting emotionally close to another woman, you should promise yourself that you will use that as a marker that something isn't right in your marriage, stop the impending affair before it happens, and go to marriage counselling with your wife.  If you cheat on her again, your marriage will be over.
  • listen to, and respect, your wife's opinions about what she wants in your marriage, and try to work through those as they come up.  This will help you rebuild trust.  For some period of time (I think at least a year) you are the guy who must be resolved to reach out, ask questions, and pursue her again (think about how much fun you had when you were dating)
  • as soon as it makes sense, start having some fun together again.  This will help alleviate the tension in your relationship.  Woo her.  Make sure she knows you love her.  Promise yourself to put yourself completely on the line for her.

Well, that's plenty to start with.  Let us know how you are doing.  I wish you good luck, and good decisions!  This does not have to be the end of your relationship, but you are in a critical point when you need to be ultra sensitive to the hurt you have inflicted and the pain that your wife is experiencing.  Having been on both the receiving end of my husband's having an affair, and the giving end of myself having one, I can tell you that the devastation and pain on the receiving end is 100 times greater than that on the giving end.  There is really no way to describe the intensity of that pain.


Melissa Orlov

You are Gifted and Wise

Melissa, Just a passerby in cyberspace, and a fellow ADD'er. I felt the need to drop a quick note: this is an exceptionally constructed and cogent response to the issue this gentleman faces. I believe you hit all the key points, and think that if he chooses to follow this advice he will be taking the absolute best path toward reconciliation. JJ

Thanks so much for your advice!

Thanks so much for the thoughtfull response Melissa, I am taking every word you said and putting all my energy into making things better. I know how much I love her and how bad my choices were and there wasn't any single thing that caused it but a combination and poor judgement. I love Amanda with all my heart and she is the most wonderful person in the world to me. She deserves a husband that has gotten the right help to make sure this will never happen again and that she will be able to trust in the future. I know it is very hard for her to see this right now and she just wants some space and i am giving her that. Every minute of every day without her seems like an eternity and its so hard with a void in my heart right now. I am getting lots of help to take care of my ADD right now because I see what other damage it has dont to our marriage and I am refusing to let it control me any longer. I have such determination to make sure that it goes away and i learn how to deal with my thought and actions so that they will never be a problem again. You sometimes don't realise what you have in your life till its gone and let me tell you that it couldn't be more true. We all have that one special person put on this planet for us and i found her, her name is Amanda and I miss her dearly. I just hope I haven't lost her for good.

Let's reframe this...

"We were together just once last April after losing my daughter in January and my wife having some medical complications associated with sugery. I was trying to be strong but it was really harder than I think I could handle." Let's just look at this from the wife's perspective. She lost her daughter, and had medical complications. Then, three months later you cheated on her because you were "trying to be strong but it was really harder than I think I could handle." So... I see from your posts that you are sorry, that you are really, really sorry. But are you stronger? Because sorry won't weather the next storm that comes along. If you are not any stronger now than you were then, I see no reason why she should stay with you. Because SHE has a life of her own separate from you, and has a right to be happy! If you really cared for her, you would want her to be with someone who can be a rock in her time of need. Not just want her back because that's what YOU want.

For cmdjls - on anger

cmdjls - I noted in another forum that someone felt that you were being negative in your responses...and I have to say that I agree here.  You seem to have quite a bit of anger in you - perhaps you have suffered from having a partner who strayed either emotionally or physically?  Even if this is not the case, I would ask you to choose your words carefully in future posts.  Note, I am not saying stifle your opinion - we value all opinions that aren't straight out flaming of other people.  Just understand that it is hard for people to put their personal stories up here on this site - it takes courage to be so open in this type of forum - and so we try to encourage supportive responses.

On a slightly different tack, I think that the original poster has learned a great deal from his experiences and that was reflected in his seeking advice in the first place, and his response to what others had written here.  He seems to have a much better understanding of the fragility of relationships and what is needed to protect them, and I hope that he and his wife find it in themselves to forgive and grow from their experiences.  My impression (and these are ALL impressions, since I never see all of any story) is that he will be more careful in future crises.

Melissa Orlov


cmdjls, after reading your comment and Melissa's I wanted to respond personally so that you know where I am coming from and where I am going. I do see a lot of anger in your response and I welcome that but I also think you need to understand that there are others factors and details that arent in the story that affect things. Unless you have gone though an experience like this, losing a child, ADHD, etc. then you can't know what is it like and I think on television and in movies some things are portrayed as bad no matter what. I am a much stronger person now and I am getting help and support to deal with issues that I never did before. I don't just want her back cause its what I want, it has to be what we both want and thats what we are working towards. I am getting the help that will help me through the next storm but that storm will NOT be another person getting in the way of our marriage. I know people love to say once you do this it will happen again but I want to make sure that I get all the help and support I need so that will never be a concern in our marriage again. I love my wife more than anything in this world and yes I am sorry, very sorry but thats only a part of the full picture cmdjls.

After an Affair

You need to understand the underlying motives in an affair, I think, to guess whether or not someone is predisposed to do it again.  My own thinking is that if someone reached out because they were in extreme emotional pain, and unable to manage that (as is the case with EMUGrad) then they can learn a great deal about themselves and what they value after they end the affair, take a deep look into themselves, and set a course for the future.  This type of person, I think, can end up much more self aware and in control, and the relationship with the spouse (changed, to be sure) can end up much stronger.

On the other hand, someone who thoughtlessly has an affair because he or she simply has poor impulse control is a good candidate for doing it again, unless something significant changes (medication to treat underlying ADD symptoms, for example). So do sex addicts, and those who simply get bored easily and are seeking the new or the thrilling.

Sounds to me as if this case is one of the former, and I'm really rooting for the two of them to work through their pain and issues and work it out. 

Melissa Orlov

Melissa: I have been

Melissa: I have been searching through this site for a discussion of ADD and infidelity and found this post of yours tremendously helpful. My ADD husband and I have been having difficulties for many of the usual ADD-related reasons (which, as you point out elsewhere, we are BOTH responsible for managing more effectively). We are scheduled to begin counseling to help us deal with these issues and to complicate matters I have just caught him having an extramarital affair. The worst part of this for me is that while he is willing to pursue the counseling, he is not convinced that our marriage can be saved because of what he calls our communication issues. From where I sit, the important question is whether he is committed to fixing our marriage -- not whether it can be fixed -- and he is less than reassuring on this subject. My gut tells me that his ADD is a contributor to his lousy decision making (ie., to have the affair) as well as his somewhat defeatist response to what we can do about it. And I am devastated by where we are right now -- so much pain, so much anger, that I am barely functioning. My question to you: is there anything particularly ADD-related that could go some way to explaining the spectacularly crappy choice he made in sleeping with someone else? Or his reactions to being caught and deciding what to do next? He tells me he is not interested in pursuing a life with this other woman but he also seems less than moved by what he has put at risk. Yes, he feels like a despicable person but he seems utterly incapable/disinterested in any sort of campaign to make me feel better and restore trust between us. Any advice? Many thanks.

You are still friends with

You are still friends with this person you had an affair with? How did your wife deal with the loss of your/ her child? I'm asking these questions b/c I've been through this in another relationship. If you repair your relationship, please talk with her about the loss of the child if you haven't already. I didn't get that and I needed it. I wish you the best.

To answer your questions AmyK

I am no longer having any contact with the person I had the affair with and I am fine with that as I want to work on things with myself and my wife and thats the most important part. After the affair happened I just went on as if nothing had happened and told the other person that it couldn't happen again. Yes she was around myself and my wife at different times as she was a friend of the family and she helped watch our kuds at times but I had so much happen in my past that I was able to block out things that had happened and never think of them again. I know it sounds strange but I am working with my counselor and dealing with these past issues and I understand so much more about things and how to deal with them better now. After my wife left it was a no brainer that I have zero contact with this person and concentrate on getting every ounce of help that I need to get, and I continue to do that today. As for your next question on my wife dealing with the loss of our child she turned to the "MISS Foundation" website and looked there and read a lot there. We didn't talk about it a lot and I remember many long nights with her crying and me holding her and all I wanted to do was be strong for her and support her and tell her things would be ok. Like I had done in the past I kept telling her I was ok and I would be ok when really I was just avoiding thing and blocking them out of my head as usual. This was not the way for me to handle it and it lead to some bad outcomes. The thing we should of done is accepted the help that is there for these situtations and let that take us through that terrible time. The hardest thing I ever went through in my life was that day and I will never forget it so I need to learn how to properly deal with it and be able to move on and not have it cause me any more pain in other areas of my life. I miss my wife more than anything else in this world and I want to get the help I need to get back together. Thanks for your questions Amy