How do I accept the damage my husband's :ADD has done to my life?

Maybe this isn't the right place for this...

I married my husband almost 4 years ago. We didn't know he had ADD. He had been working, at that point, for 6 months at a call center (not a good fit for the ADD brain, but we didn't know he had it.) Having gotten medical insurance for the first time, I found out I have sleep apnea, which requires a very expensive piece of equipment to treat. I already knew I have hypertension and had had a stroke. Between my diagnosis and my treatment, my husband got fired for hanging up on customers. He didn't work regularly for over 3 years, during which I had no treatment for my hypertension and sleep apnea. Our doctor "fired" us because we couldn't pay a bill, and that sort of specialized treatment isn't covered by charity care. I worked 2 and (for a while) 3 jobs and he stayed home and stared at the walls and watched TV. He did no housework and just expected me to take care of everything.

I figured out he was depressed. When treatment for that was only partly successful, I figured out he has ADD. Now he takes meds for that too, and he is working. We have insurance, and I was able to have some long-delayed surgery at Christmastime. I should be on top of the world, right?

But I am still resentful. I feel so much pain that he was unable to force himself to do his job correctly even when being fired could have killed me. Every loss in our life because of his ADD makes me want to cry. Things like not being able to buy a house, or paying 20% interest for his car because his last car was repossessed because I couldn't pay for it and he wasn't working. Or having to use a semester's tuition to get his car out of impound because he didn"t call anyone when it broke down.

I love him, I understand his ADD to some extent, but I am so responsible that I simply can't imagine not working. This resentment is tearing our marrriage apart. But how am I supposed to forget it happened? How do I say it's all right that I could have died because he wouldn't do the job he was hired for? How do I deal with permanent physical effects of 3 years of medical neglect? How do I accept that he's never going to understand that his actions (or inactions) have consequences? That hasn't happened with 2 different ADD meds, so I don't thinlk it's ever going to. Our marriage counselor wants to talk about things like housework schedules, and it feels like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Has anyone else had a happy marriage to someone who has neglected them like my husband has? Is there any way to fix this?



Oh Sueann I feel for you. Your analogy of "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" made me laugh and sums up how I am feeling at this point too. I feel like we both go to therapy but I am the only one there! He promises to try to do better no matter what the task is and yet he NEVER does better -falls back on the "but I tried" defense all the time. I too am so full of resentment for past (and present) hurtful comments, forgotten events/promises/appointments etc, I am resentful for the neglect, the loneliness. I too would like to know how it gets better, if it can get better. I am running out of hope...running out of patience... if I only knew then....


ADD is not easy or simple. When he says he tried that is a good sign. He is not making excuses but coping with his problem the only way he knows how. Nagging or demeaning him isn't going to help either of you. Would you blame a Dog for barking? Likewise with someone who has ADHD! You both need to learn a new set of skills.
Once you understand how other women are suffering in similar ways, it will help you see his behaviour in a more forgiving way. Maybe your own insecurity and resentments are now (understandably) coming into the relationship too. Help him and help yourself by coping better rather then wishing for a better life or running to a new one.This can only happen if you take his behaviour less personally and see it as a physical illness.
It must be very frustrating for you to be the more responsible person all the time, but at least you are not hampered with this disability. I'd swap my ADD for a spouse with ADD any time. . You have to be your own knight in shining armour.  With effort and understanding your relationship can only get richer and more fulfilling.

to adder

My husband SAYS "but I tried" but there is never ever ever any evidence that he did in fact try. Even our couples therapist acknowledges this. HE IS making excuses! Hiding behind his ADD. (therapist's words) He expects me to do everything and be everything to him. Do I ever even get so much as a "how are you feeling?" while laying on the couch with the flu? Forget about a glass of water or a tylenol. When I am sick or in need of something, I am on my own. You have no idea how much work it takes to just love him. I go to the therapy sessions to learn how to help our relationship work, how to help him. I read the books. He does nothing except take a pill once in a while when he feels like it, when he remembers. I don't nag or belittle my husband...that is obviously YOUR experience and I resent you displacing that onto me with no background information. My husband tells me all the time that I am an angel of patience and the sweetest person on the planet. I treat my husband with kindness and respect because I do love him. I do not show my resentment outwardly to him-I keep that inside until I can "dump" it in my private therapy session. You owe me an apology for being so judgmental, Adder.


I am sorry if I made you feel bad or demeaned it certainly was not my intention. You are correct there is a lot of things in your relationship which I don't know. Indeed I spoke from my own experience and this clearly does not apply to you. I do very much laud your effort for trying to be loving and cannot imagine how tough it must be for you. Please accept my humble apologies!

to adder

I accept your apology and sincerely commend you for husband never does - :-)

re: to adder

Thank you very much for your forgivnees. I worried greatly that I had caused you deep pain when all you were trying to do was get help. Unfortunatley my ADD phase was higher when I wrote to you. I am not very good with words but felt compelled to help you. I too have sleep Apena (way milder then yours) as well as depression/ADD and feel lethargy & exhaustion at times. Mellisa has explianed beautifully what I wanted to say. If there is any way in which I can help you further please ask and I will try as best as I can. I greatly admire your courage to go through this, to stand by your man, to come back to me with your pain and your forgivness. Your husband is very fortunate to have you!

PS Do you use have a CPAP machine for Sleep Apniea?

Reply to adder

Yes, I do use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. It took me years to get the machine after I was diagnosed. Stroke patients like me often suffer from sleep apnea, they don't know which is cause and which is effect. But when I got married and had someone to sleep with, he figured out I had sleep apnea. (My cats never mentioned it to me. :)

One of the things I am complaining about is that my husband hung up on customers, knowing I needed this  and needed his insurance to get it, and had an appointment to get it. When I was suffering such a serious medical problem, he would not/could not control his impulses and put me first, even for a few weeks.

A new begining

Hey! I totally empathize with what you are feeling. I know it is not too much to ask for your spouse to help you, especially when it comes to serious medical issues. It does make us feel unloved and rejected when they seem be to be taking the easy way out. As you quite rightly say, you could never do such a thing. I too would feel my spouse had no honor and lacked real commitment. Almost certainly it would feel as if they were hiding behind their ADD. On top of it all, for him to be depressed such a short time after your marriage,  which  must have been such a blow. It has left you wondering if he truly wanted this relationship and you.


Life has been real shit for you and no one should have to go thru that  and still  there is  there is no end in sight to your pain. Nonetheless, here you are today,  your sleep apnea under control, a job, and your spouse however he is. This tells me a lot about you, what you have gone through, the despair, your amazing strength of character and dedication.


You have the grit inside you and somehow got through this one sided relationship this far. Alas it was a heavy burden, a burden no one should have to bare. You are an electric battery which was forever discharged more then charged. Now you are completely drained and don't know how to come to terms with the past, or to choose a path to the future. You are still the SAME character that got you this far, only your battery is drained completely, you have nothing more to give! Yes I know,   I know, it's all so unfair, why you, what have you done to deserve this, it has all been sh**, life is sh**, your spouse is sh**,  ADD is sh**.  What about your needs, your life, do you not deserve love, happiness? Haven’t you always done the right thing? Well listen and absorb this to the every depth  of your being “you deserve better, you deserve more happiness”.


Ahh, to hell with it all, let’s have some “me” time. Let’s put your self first for a change. You are going to take time out for a while to look after you, to enjoy yourself, to pamper yourself.  How about you bake me some cakes? I am hopeless at those.


Let’s really get involved in this baking thing, let’s even name each and every type of cake. Let call this cake the “HOPE cake”!. This is not going to be any ordinary run of the mill cake, oh no! It is going to be  best most divinely delectably, soft, stunning, exquisite and wholesome cake ever made in the world! What’s more, any person who eats your cake gets a large dose of "hope" too!. There lives are made immeasurably better, richer and more fulfilling!


You don't know how or why these cakes are going to be special, they just are! Trust me O.K.? You have what it takes, your talent is just waiting, waiting for you to open the door. The magic is in your hands! Your job is just to bake each and every cake with total love, total devotion. Think about this cake at every spare moment, will it be,  sponge, layered, fruity ? . Think about its exquisite color, feel the delight of all those people who eat it. Feel their joy, look at their smiles as they eat and  smile back at them. Yours is an amazing gift,  to bake "hope, lots and lots of hope. Everyday, as you fall off to sleep,  think about this wonderful cake of “hope”.  Feel its power to transform, to make the desert bloom. Accept the magic of your talent! Do not worry how, just trust and have faith it will happen, you will have “hope” in your life.  Yu don’t need to know how or why just expect it will happen, just bake that all!


I have got lots of other cake ideas when you have made the most of this one! So get baking you guys and have  a little “me” time whilst doing it!


Seeing ADD as a physical

Seeing ADD as a physical illness doesn't change any of the results of the behaviors associated with the disorder/disease (pick your favorite PC term). Hearing your husband say "I tried" a billion times doesn't make one bit of positive difference if the same behaviors continue after years of therapy, medication, and work. We ALL have serious issues. Some of us were molested as children and/or abandoned and/or had criminally messed-up parents, etc. Some of us are bi-polar or have cancer or have to care for a sick parent/child, etc. We each have our own serious issues to deal with that make achieiving our life goals very, very hard. So...why do those folks diagnosed with ADD get some sort of special pass? Would you blame a dog for barking? Of course not, but I would get that dog trained pronto so it would know when barking was appropriate (stranger in house--Timmy in a well--woof!) and not (most of the time).

Add as physical

Sing it Lili!  I couldn't have said it any better! 



Reframing ADD behaviours

People with ADD don't get a special pass to excuse their behaviour. Yours is an unusual case in that there are unresovled problems even after a lot of time and effort. We can all learn and sometimes reframing behaviour gives us a greater power to control it. For your sake find a way to forgive & forget the past and make the most of what is left. We have to forgive for our sake otherwise it eats us from the inside. Maybe in time both of you may learn to better manage and live with this.

Don't know that you can make this comment

I am troubled by this comment "I'd swap my ADD for a spouse with ADD any time."  I think that is going to cause hackles to rise as I know that it raised mine.   I am the spouse of an ADD mate, and compared to most women on this site, my life is a cakewalk and I STILL get overwhelmed with frustration when promises aren't carried out and I hear a bit too much of "but I tried" and "I don't know" when trying to figure out why commitments weren't fullfilled.

I would never say that I would swap my frustrations for the frustrations of my mate because I honestly don't know who has it worse, BUT I can tell you from where us non-ADDers are sitting the ADD life sure does seem like a bargain.  You *forget* to do anything you don't like to do, apologize ad naseum but seldom make lasting changes, and live in a world where you don't notice anything that needs to be done around you.  There are definitely worse lives out there--many being lived my non-ADD mates!

I think this site has to be a bit scary for a person with ADD.  There is a lot of anger and frustration here, and my ADD husband didn't find it to be real ADD-friendly (in the sense of welcoming I think); BUT this is genuine anger and frustration caused by the actions of a person who promised to love, honor, and cherish these women.

She could have DIED because of his behavior.  Is that his fault as he was an undiagnosed mentally ill person?  I don't know--I'd venture to say that in this position it might have behooved him to WONDER at least if he had a serious issue considering that he was acting horrendously.  But it sure as heck iwasn't her fault either, and she is saying she has permanent damage caused to her health because of getting treatment so late.  She is looking for help GETTING OVER the resentment and keeping her marriage going.  I applaud her for wanting to do this and not just staying mired in resentment over things which cannot be changed now.

I can't see how it's helpful in that situation to say she is better off than the person with ADD.  From the outside looking in, his life has been a heck of a lot easier AND he got the quicker treatment for his issues.

re: Don't know that you can make this comment

"I think this site has to be a bit scary for a person with ADD.  There is a lot of anger and frustration here, and my ADD husband didn't find it to be real ADD-friendly (in the sense of welcoming I think);"

You're right. Its most unfriendly - if by that you're meaning that it doesn't make the one with the ADD feel very good about themselves; makes them feel ashamed when they read story after story describing what its been like living with what could only be termed as a decided imbecile - then it is ADD - unfriendly and I can't think of a better mise en scène for anyone ( husbands with families in particular ) with ADHD to see, on their own volition and without that automatic defense mechanism kicking in and blinding them to the ugly truth.

Personal comfort and ADD make bad partners, as I've learned- that's why I try to read the posts on a regular basis.



"Recognition is the greatest motivator."
-Gerard C. Eakedale

StopInterrupting's picture


It's hard for me not to call my ADD wife's ADD son an IDIOT at times.  One time I came home from work and found the front door wide open and my dog running out in the street.  He "forgot" to close the door behind him.

Don't even get me going about the (gas) stove, the faucets, or standing in the shower for 20 minutes because he "forgot" to wash himself.

What a burden ADD is on the rest of us.


"One time I came home from work and found the front door wide open and my dog running out in the street.  He "forgot" to close the door behind him.

Don't even get me going about the (gas) stove, the faucets, or standing in the shower for 20 minutes because he "forgot" to wash himself."


LOL! Ah, man WTF is it with not closing doors behind them?!? LOL How old is your (Step?) son? My oldest boy ( with the ADHD ) is seven.  We'll be sitting there at tea or having dinner and he'll see something, the neighbor's dog, the postal man, whatever, and all of a sudden, without warning, the boy will jump up and tear-ass out the front door without shoes, shirt... mouth full of food and more'n likely a pair of chopsticks ( his mum is Chinese ) in his eating hand...I can only imagine what the neighbor thinks when she see's him running at her full steam...I half expect to see her and her dog take off running down the street with my son right behind them...a piece of seaweed salad dangling from his chopsticks...

Here's the kicker: I have ADHD as well. On more occasions than I care to enumerate here, I've gotten us out to the van for our morning commute and found the key still in the ignition - still engaged! I hadn't bothered to even shut the engine off the day beforehand and left the motorcar to run all night. When we get home in the afternoon, my kids know instinctively to wait inside the van as more likely than not, I've forgotten the house keys and will have to have a few minutes to jimmy the door lock open. I could go on...

But I NEVER forget to close the door behind me ;)

Having ADHD and at the same time having a child with the same disorder, a child whom I've dedicated my life to helping him overcome his obstacles, has given me a unique sort of patience. Patience not in the sense where you give them passes on things, overlook their faults, stifle resentments ( 'oh THATS okay dear' ) - I think a lot of people here who are the family members of those with ADD think that to be patience, its not, its just the opposite - and even if it were, thats not going to help their ADD family members] later. What I mean rather is a deep-seated desire to stop everything else around me and say 'What is really taking place here?', 'What does [my son] really need to learn from this?' regardless of whatever else I'm doing...somehow I've come to understand that those times when it is especially inconvenient for me to get to the root of things with respects to my son's ADHD behaviours, its especially important that I forget myself and behave as though nothing else in the world matters more than making sure that I'm being consistent in enforcing those principles and ideas that I've talked with him about...making sure that I seize those opportunities that are presented to drive home the lesson...that can take many different guises...sometimes its being especially gentle and understanding at other times it calls for an approach similar to that I would imagine to be used by Army Ranger instructors or Shaolin Priests in instructing their charges...whatever is needed at the moment and ALWAYS ALWAYS in a controlled fashion and never directed by emotion. I can tell you that everytime I've made myself to do that, the reward has been great.

Anyway, I went on a tangent there...

take care



Even Agent Smith Gets the Blues

                - Eugene Donohoe, Dublin City

To David

  I am so impressed at your determination and consistency of your awareness and learning about your ADD to become a better/happier man and to teach your son how to be a better/happier person. We all (ADD or not) have our own issues in life that require a real good look in the mirror sometimes, none of us are perfect, but if we are honest with ourselves and face these issues we can learn to be better people, HAPPIER people, a real gift not only to ourselves but to the people who love us as well. I really appreciate your posts and look forward to reading more, I hope that one day I can say the same thing about my husband. BRAVO!!

I have to agree with you on

I have to agree with you on your comment about the ADD life sure does seem like a bargain.  Who wouldn't like living in a "Peter Pan" world, not ever having to "grow up", not having any responsibilities, or it being OK to forget to do anything and everything.  I hate to say it, (not my true character) but, I would switch with my ADD husband in a heartbeat.  I am so ready to live in a "Fantasy World" for a change.  Only problem, my husband would fight me to the finish, as he still continues to dwell in his ADD issues and I'm afraid he always will.     

Oh yes

Agreed!! Well written, you nailed that answer adder. As a wife of, no matter how difficult, we HAVE to keep this knowledge in the front of our heads, period. No one has a perfect situation in life. What a difference it made when I finally reached that understanding. Resentment shows it's ugly head every once in a while, then I move it along. Why waste my time on resentment when I can be productive either for myself or my family?!

Accepting ADD Damage

Thank you for posting your feelings on this - you are experiencing what many, many readers on this site also experience.  There is no doubt that one of the first parts of recovering from what I call the "tyranny of ADD" is mourning for what is lost and what could have been.  (Note here - what could have been is often better than what would actually have been under different circumstances because it is all in our we of course err on the side of what we would have liked to have happened.)  I spent close to 15 years growing increasingly unhappy with at least some of the things you mention in your note...and the last several of those were during a time when we knew that my husband had ADD but hadn't figured out yet how to overcome it and live with it well.  You have had a particularly bad confluence of events - unemployment for him, multiple jobs for you, and serious health problems for both of you.

I would argue, however, that your mind is getting in your way now much more than your actual situation.  I'm not downplaying what are likely continued irritations that your husband's ADD can cause when I say this.  Rather, your note is full of resentment held over from past events and your mind has focused in on these (and, probably, a fear that what has happened in the past could happen again...which it might, if you don't get your mind in order around these issues).  To be the healthiest possible couple, not only does your husband need to take control of his ADD, but you need to make sure that your dread of his ADD doesn't take control of you.  Right now, you are interfering with forward progress for the two of you as much as he might be.

I would like you to see if a new attitude about where you have been might help you both move forward.  Start thinking about your life this way:  "What has happened in the past has been really, really hard, but the worst is over.  I've finally gotten the treatment that I need and my husband is working, treating his ADD and treating his depression.  We have survived these awful experiences and are still here to tell the tale and, hopefully, rebuild our lives.  Even though what has happened in the past scares me, I do love my husband and want to work to make today and tomorrow better than yesterday."

You yourself have identified what your biggest issue is right now.  It's not your husband's current status at work or at home that is hurting your relationship, it's your "resentment is tearing our marriage apart".  Your therapist isn't talking to you about schedules and housework because she's dense...I think she's doing it because she is trying to get you to move on.  Resentment creates chemicals in your brain that take a very, very long time to subside...and therefore can color every interaction you have with your husband.  You may think that you are holding in your feelings until the next therapy session, but it's quite possible that he is reading your signals, in any event.  It may be why, in fact, he thinks it's important to reinforce how much he appreciates you (your disatisfaction makes him nervous).

I will try to give you some perspective here by telling you a story about myself and depression.  I am an incredibly strong person - if you met me you would undoubtedly agree.  If anyone could "force" themselves to do something for the good of someone they love (and even for the good of herself) it would be me.  Yet I became depressed as I dealt with my marriage issues and simply couldn't do it.  Depression paralyzes you.  You can't imagine not working, and you can't imagine that your husband didn't love you enough to force himself to get back to work.  But you haven't been depressed.  I wouldn't have been able to imagine it, either...until I experienced depression myself.  I want to reassure you that your husband's inability to get himself back to work has nothing to do with how much he loves you, or whether or not he will be able to find a job in the (undepressed) future should he need to.  Don't resent HIM - resent the illness, for that' what depression certainly is.  Certainly someone with health issues as you have could be empathetic towards someone who was "held hostage" by an illness?  It wasn't his choice to become depressed but, happily, he is now working through it.  In the future, you and he will want to keep close tabs on whether or not he is sinking back into depression...and effectively treating his ADD will help ensure that he doesn't.

Other ways to start trying to think positively - you haven't been able to buy a house...yet today perhaps that isn't so bad (look how many people bought houses that they couldn't really afford and are now losing their equity, too).  You are paying interest for his car because you couldn't afford the loan in a bad time...that's not great, but not the end of the world.  See if you can find a way to pay off that loan ASAP to get that off your back. 

You ask the question "how am I supposed to forget it happened?"  The simple answer is that you aren't.  You won't ever forget that you had this terrible period.  Instead, you need to mourn it, accept it, and forgive him (and, possibly yourself for your lingering resentment).  Understand what happened - he has been learning about his issues, you have been growing angry and resentful (even if you don't share that with him).  You both did your best with the tools that you had at the time...the question is are you going to use your NEW tools to do better tomorrow?

I don't know lots about your situation, and if you are willing to share more of it I would be happy to give you more specific advice than this, but here's a starter:

  • consider reading "Dare to Forgive" by Ned Hallowell.  He lays out why forgiveness is good for YOU, and why forgiving someone isn't the same thing as saying that what they did was okay
  • read my blog post about creating boundaries.  It's important that you don't take over for your husband, even if you charitably agree to help him out sometimes.  He's at a critical stage when he needs to take responsibility for his ADD.
  • work with your therapist on forgiving and accepting, as well as starting to think about what you have that is positive.
  • consider leaving yourself notes in obvious places that remind you about the mindset in which you wish to be.  You really are building for tomorrow...every day that you start out with resentment is one more day in your past, rather than your future

Please let us know how you are progessing and keep up the questions.

More on my circumstances

Of course, the biggest fear is that he will go back to being the way he was, that one day he will just decide not to go to work again, and I'll have to support him because my name is on the lease, car note, etc. That's what happened before, and I didn't pay his car note because I could not afford it, and it didn't have my name on it.

The problem is that this depression begain immediately after we got married. We married in April and by July, he was not doing his job the way he was supposed to and got fired. Why is a marriage eagerly sought so depressing? If he can decide not to do his job correctly, can't he decide not to do marriage correctly (cheat or whatever, not that he's given me any indication he would do that). It means to me, he is a person with no honor. I ALWAYS do my best at whatever I do. If he couldn't do that job, he should have discussed it with me, and quit.

Years ago, I was depressed as a result of a medication I took for hypertension. I was suicidal (wrote notes, and bought the means to end my life) BUT I STILL WENT TO WORK AND DID A GOOD JOB.  I could not imagine being so dishonorable as to leave my boss hanging. That's why I can't understand how my husband managed to let depression immoblilze him.

I have effects from this that won't ever get better. Teeth damaged beyond repair, and a foot that will hurt the rest of my life because he dropped a bookcase on it while we were moving to this house that I hate. I don't know how I am supposed to say that these things don't hurt, when they do and always will. I wouldn't be expected to live with a person who had caused me so much permanent pain by hitting me, so why is it ok to live with someone who damaged me permanently, physically, by his ADD behaviors? Forgiveness, to me, means saying what he did is all right. How can I do that?


Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. Its not saying what the wrongdoer did was ok. Not at all. Certainly one can forgive, but not forget. Forgiveness releases hurtful emotions held inside..and they are destructive to your health and well being, Sueann. Please talk to a professional about your feelings. You need to look after yourself now. I am praying for you and your struggles in a very challenging situation


Forgiveness just means that you are giving up on hurting him back for the hurt done to you. By focusing on what he has done wrong, consistently, you are keeping yourself in bondage to those issues and they keep on hurting you. When you forgive, you aren't letting him off the hook, you are letting yourself off the hook as his jailer. It is NOT easy, it requires practice shifting your mind from what he has done to you to more positive things. YES, he has hurt you. YES, he was obviously negligent. YES, you have reason to be angry. Yes, it is good to have validation. I have been bitter and angry for a long time. The only one I have hurt in focusing on his wrongdoing is me. Grieve, then move forward. It really is better for you.

More for SueAnn

Has he ever indicated to you that your marriage and his depression are linked, or are you just assuming that because of the timing?  One thing I've learned with ADD - don't associate two events unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they should be associated.

If you had suicidal thoughts that you were ready to act upon, then you know just how debilitating depression can be.  It is a wonderful thing that you got through it, and got to the root of your depression (and isn't it great to be able to pinpoint the cause as a medication, rather than something unknown?!)  But people respond to depression differently, and just because you responded one way doesn't mean he will.  To not let him respond in his own way is to discount him as a person - an act of disrespect, which I suspect that you don't realize you are making (for certainly someone who wishes to be respected also tries her hardest to respect others around her).

You have suffered a great deal, there is no doubt.  But your resentment and anger are hurting YOU much more than him.  Please give Dr. Hallowell's book "Dare to Forgive" a try.  The worst thing that happens is that you've spent a few hours reading it.  But perhaps you will find in his words the strength to view the act of forgiveness in a different light - one that will help you be healthier as a person.

And on the topic of forgiveness, I will continue to disagree with you.  Forgiveness does not mean that what someone did was all right.  My husband has forgiven me for my affair...but that doesn't mean that it was okay.  I understand why I had the affair, and I have apologized for it, and we have both accepted it...but that doesn't make the affair all just puts it in its the past.  Until you forgive your husband for your past, you will be living with not only the physical reality of it (the bad teeth, bad foot) but also the mental anguish of it every day.  Do you wish to put yourself through that?  Wouldn't it be better if you could move on?  (If either my husband or I had forced ourselves to live with the anguish of our mutual affairs every day I can guarantee you that we would now be divorced AND our lives would be far worse.)

Reply to Melissa

Melissa, you always give me lots to think about and I thank you for it.

Suppose you had to live next door the man you had an affair with, or the woman your husband had an affair with? That's what it's like for me. My foot will always hurt, my teeth will always hurt. How can I put that in the past? It's not IN the past, it's my present and my future.

I feel like if I forgive my husband for behavior that so damaged the quality of my life, he'll feel like he has permission to do it again. When I had to spend a semester's tuition money to get the car out of impound, I was furious and let him know it. The next time the car broke down, he actually called the 800 number and got it towed and it didn't cost us anything. If I had been all sweet and lovey-dovey and said, "that's ok, I don't mind waiting another year to graduate so you didn't have to make a phone call" he would have done it again. The only consequence to him is for me to be ANGRY about it (and I am). He hasn't dropped any more furniture on my feet, or served me any more nails, and I feel that was because I was angry when he did those things. If you have any other ideas how I can protect myself, I'd love to hear them, but right now being angry seems like the only protection.

OK, I'll try it

I went ahead and ordered the book you talk about from eBay. We don't have the option of using our public library because of vast library fines. How ADD is that?

I still feel I need to be angry at all the wrongs that have been done to me, in order for there to be consequences for him when he hurts me. If I make it seem like whatever he dishes out is OK with me, what incentive does he have to behave in a way that's safe for me?

I'll try to read the book but I work full-time and go to school.

To SueAnn

I'm glad you ordered the book and I really hope you read it.  "Letting go" (or forgiving) is quite different from "letting him get away with it" and Dare to Forgive will help you differentiate between the two.

Dare to Forgive book

I've leafed through the book, but I haven't yet seen anything about my issue. I don't see anything about how to protect yourself from the person who wronged you, and might continue to. If I forgive him, or if I don't, what keeps him from doing it again?

My life depends on him NOT exhibiting ADD behaviors, in other words, going to work, doing a good job and keeping the insurance on me. When he chose not to, he endangered my life, very literally. How can I ever feel safe? How can I ever turn down my street and not expect to see his car, because he got fired (again)?


Sueann, your anger and resentment is something I really can relate to. I have been in some very, very dark places where those feelings have consumed me to the point of being ill. Not only did I feel the relationship was over, I felt my resentment was so deep and so unresolved, that no one could help me. The layers and layers of anger and resentment were so englfing, and then I'd be so angry that the first issue was never resolved properly and now issue #3,456 has happened. One piece of advice I kept getting was to "let it go....." and I felt that the next person who said that to me was going to have my fist in their face because that "let it go" sounded more like "let him walk all over you" or "he gets a free pass" or "your strife really isn't that important" or "why are you making such a big deal about it" or "you don't get any validation."

I believe strongly that each person must find what works for them -- what works for one person may do nothing for another. But I do want to share that, to my total surprise and wonderment, I did find a way to let go that works for me, and it's done wonders for me. It includes knowing that if I choose to let go, I can choose to take back -- and I can take back any time, that I am in control of this letting go thing, I make the rules for myself. And I get to just say no to letting go of certain things if I choose.

In this time period I have learned so much about my anger -- and I'm only talking about myself here, I'm not in any way suggesting that we share the same issues -- but I learned and saw how pissed off I am about all obstacles, and about all people who hindered me instead of supporting me, and how f*-ing difficult every little step of progress has been. So angry. 

I'm still working on it.

Leave him. It sounds like

Leave him. It sounds like you've suffered enough. It's one thing to suffer because of tragedy (an accident, injury, etc). But it's a whole other kettle of fish if you've suffered tremendously as a result of the callous actions (or inactions) of your partner. Yes, you should stay in marriage if you can... But as the song says, "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold them." Fold. Understand that you've really, really tried. You sound like you will be much happier by yourself, or with someone else. Why should you force yourself to stay with someone you resent so much? Love youself first here, darling. I hope everything works out.

Thanks for the response. I'm

Thanks for the response. I'm quite sure that I will leave him when my youngest is gone. He is a caring father and I couldn't leave and take his kids, that would be too much and I think I would regret that more than I regret having kids with him in the first place. We continue to go to counseling although--again--he has gotten to the point where he thinks we are doing better and can cut back to twice a month (what a joke). I told him yesterday that I would be going to counseling alone as I needed some time with our counselor by myself. It was a great session. I am hopeful for my future, with or without him in it. The counselor sees other problems with him besides the adhd which he seems unwilling to address. His low self-esteem, while typical of many adhd people, will not improve until he confronts the cause. The cause is his continued quest for his dad's acceptance--which he will never get. It is also his unresolved pain because of his mother's desertion when he was 8. He does not want to approach or discuss these two issues--AT ALL-- with the counselor. He just wants to see about taking some medicine and hopes it will all go away. The counselor says that while his adhd is a big problem, she thinks he uses it as an excuse for other bad behaviors and for not tackling deep-rooted pain that is making us both miserable. It all makes sense to me. She did some extensive personality testing on us when we first started with her and (not to my surprise), found out that he is a follower and I am a leader. He is a worker and a server. I am a boss and an organizer. He is self-employed and has been for 28 years. He is not cut out for self-employment but continues because his dad is self employed and he is looking for his dad's approval. Hid dad is a leader/boss type though and so self-employment suits him fine. My husband is like his mother. She could never have made it as a self employed person. She worked for the same bank for 38 years--even when the bank changed ownership 3 or 4 times--she stayed. He is working in a position that he is not cut out for because he is trying to impress me and his dad. He will never be good at it and this just adds to his already battered self-esteem. He has been beating a dead horse for years and refuses to admit that it's dead. I have tried to suggest that he go to work for someone else--that I will re-do the budget or whatever to make that possible--but he sees that as another failure on his part and won't even think about it. The counselor is going to see us separately for awhile to see if she can convince him to seek another line of work. Right now he thinks that he wants to start selling cargo trailers on his lot where his office is. She says that he is just trying the "self-employment" thing in another direction. He thinks he can sell but he's just not that good at it. He sold cars in the past and was never consistently good at it ( he will argue that point as he remembers the great months and the bad months but not all the mediocre months in-between). He has always sold his own roofing jobs and has kept us from going to the poor house but has never blazed any trails in the trade-even after two hurricanes. He is good at the actual roofing, but he sucks at the business end of it. She says we will not make it if he continues to be self-employed and if he refuses to confront his past. I know she is right. Self-employment takes every brain cell he has just to get through the day. It has made a nervous wreck out of him but he has done it for so long now that he has accepted his anxiety-ridden state of being as normal. I see him chasing his tail constantly but he doesn't see it. I see a nervous, puttering, busy, frantic, little man with so much anxiety all the time that it is hard to see who he is anymore. He is living on remote and doesn't see what is driving him to do what he does or be who he is. It is sad. I hope the counselor can help him see it. If she can, we have a chance. If not, no chance. I believe that with God all things are possible, but God won't drive a parked car. I believe that when he is ready to walk through the fire of his past, that God will be there to help him through it. God has done that for me. But until he decides he wants to, nobody can do anything to help him. He is going to school now but only to get his degree in gen. ed. This is his goal and while it is a good goal, it has no purpose. He thinks it will make him feel better about himself. I think he will be disappointed. I think he needs to be working on a degree that will help him get a regular job. I have just started another business that I feel will allow me the freedom to go if and when I need to. As usual, my business is starting to grow and he is becoming more insecure. As a result, he is kissing my butt all the time and making me nauseated. I am his mommy--a role I have unintentionally assumed over the years. I have felt like a wife so few times in this marriage.....what does that feel like? I have forgotten. If you are reading this and thinking of marrying an adhd man, think again. ADHD is one thing, emotional baggage is something else. The two of them together is a very bad combination. Most ADHD people have some emotional baggage--it comes with the territory--but you better find out how much and how severe that baggage is before you marry an ADHD'r and start raising a family. You better consider, too, how it will affect your children if they have adhd and have a parent with adhd. The counselor told us when we first started with her that when we are born, we come with a suitcase called the sub-concious. As we travel through life, people pack that suitcase with all kinds of things--some good, some bad. My husband's suitcase if full of all kinds of nasty, decaying stuff--courtesy of his crappy parents. The problem is this: he doesn't want to clean out that suitcase. It's just too messy. So he paints it different colors and puts flower decals on it and says "see, I cleaned up the outside and made it all nice and pretty": but the foul odor from the inside keeps leaking out and spoiling the party. In four years, my youngest will be 18 and the party will be over. I pray that he realizes this before I turn out the lights.

resentment, embarassment of ADHD spouse

I just read your post on resentment and I know that this has been a key issue in my 30 year relationship with my ADHD husband. I feel as though I have given the best years of my life to him and his "problem" and have very little to show for it. I am at a point now where I am finding it hard to "get up" one more time. In the past, when we have reached a crisis point in our relationship, we would go to counseling for awhile and he would start on a program to change his behavior; then I would get re-energized and feel that things were going to finally be better and then he would eventually spiral down to the same place that he was to begin with and I would become resentful and depressed...AGAIN. This merry-go-round has been going on for years. I am at the point now where I don't know if I can get up again. We are going to counseling again and he has adopted some good habits to manage his ADHD. He is teaching a class at church on procrastination which helps him be accountable for his own procrastinating and he is using lists now to help with his day to day projects. He evaluates his behavior now more than before and tries not to be so defensive and reactive. I should be ecstatic, but I'm not. I feel emotionally dead and divorced from the relationship. I am still repulsed by so many things that I wonder if we will ever be able to have any happiness. He is still very immature and has low self-esteem. He says and does some of the silliest, most embarrassing things. Just this morning, he told his secretary (who is at home sick) that he had a bad reaction to antibiotics once and had to give himself a "finger enema" with yogurt to restore his intestinal balance. I can just hear the laughter as you all read this. He does things like this quite often and even seems effiminate at times. This makes it really hard for me to respect him or be intimate with him. I feel like I am being intimate with one of my kids which is really creepy. It really isn't what I would call intimacy anyway, just mutual gratification on a purely physical level. I don't even want to kiss him. It literally turns my stomach. I have spent most of my marriage treading on eggshells so I wouldn't hurt his feelings and I feel sorry for him a good deal of the time. His father was an abusive tyrant and his mother deserted him when he was 8 so he has had a lot of other problems that he has not been willing to work out. He has said that he saw no reason to go back into the past. It has only been over the last year or so that I have convinced him that his past has affected our marriage in a very negative way and that it is still affecting us. He has always become mean and insecure when I would experience success. He would become demanding, jealous and verbally abusive. This has always sabotaged my moving forward as I have not wanted to let the marriage fall apart because of our 3 children. We have progressed to the point now where he knows that I won't put up with his crap when I try to move forward, so now while he is still insecure about it, he is not a jerk but he is a kiss-up. This is almost as bad as being a jerk. I just want a man who is self confident and assertive. He is not. When we met and started living together ( a big mistake), we were in the USMC together. He was neat as a pin and very organized. He was built like a brick and seemed self assured. This was all an illusion as it was the Corps that was shaping his habits, and I soon found out that he was messy, disorganized, reactive, childish, and had a very addictive nature. I was two years into the relationship when he got out of the Corps. Shortly after that, I was pregnant with out first child and starting to realize what a mistake I had made but I felt it was too late and besides, there were times when I felt very much in love with him. I have gone through addiction to pot with him, sexual addiction and work addiction. He has always worked for himself and has always provide for us. He has never trifled on me. He does not drink or smoke or curse. We attend church together and he can be very funny at times. He is what most would call "sweet and nice". I just feel that sometimes the "sweet and nice" is to make up for all the hell he has caused me. As of right now, we are having our teenage son evaluated for ADD. I have been homeschooling him and my ADHD daughter for the past 3 years because of continuous problems in school. I don't know who I am anymore. I have taken care of everything for so long that I don't know where to stop. I had incredible art talent when I was young and still do but cannot get motivated or inspired to paint more than a couple of paintings a year. My counselor told me that if I wanted to achieve my dreams (which seem to be quite more aspiring than my husband's), I would have to get out and go after them by myself. This is overwhelming for me as the thought of more responsibility just adds to the stress. My husband and I don't have the same goals or aspirations and in general, he doesn't see himself living in the same manner as I would like to live and doesn't feel comfortable with the same type of people that I am comfortable with. This makes it hard for us to do anything socially the anxiety that I have about him saying or doing something embarrassing in public. We have always lived where and how he wants to live a house in a rural environment. I would rather live in an apt or condo in the city but he couldn't handle it. His mannerisms cause friction also. I don't know if he is just odd or if it is the ADHD. He has a loud obnoxious laugh that makes people cringe -which he seems not to notice- and when he gets excited, he has a tendency to start talking a few octaves above normal which is extremely annoying. He bites his nails-again not attractive for a 54 year old man and he frequently dresses either like an old man or like a dork and gets highly offended if the kids and I say anything about it. He has expressed the willingness to take meds but because of money, we have to wait until we get our son evaluated and helped. I am severely confused. I don't know if we are just incompatible or if the ADHD is most of the problem. I find myself thinking about the time when our kids are gone and I can leave too. This has always been something he has said I would do. Probably because his mother left him. He has never been able to face the fact that his emotional neediness has been the dividing factor in his past relationships (where all his girlfriends eventually dumped him) and is a dividing factor in our relationship. He still continues to be emotionally needy which I cannot stand but I don't think he knows how it affects his behavior and repulses me. I can't talk to him about it because it hurts his feelings and he already has such low self esteem that I always regret having talked to him. I have always been a strong, assertive, logical person and he is amiable. I don't mean to run over him but I seem to manage it just by being myself. He seems to need a sweet, nurturing, cheerleader type which I am not. After years of living with someone who is a good person but terribly annoying and oftentimes impossible, I feel like a critical, mean-spirited ogre. It doesn't matter what I say or how I say it, I seem to hurt his feelings or run over him in some respect. My son seems to have the same opinion of me. I'm negative, critical, controlling, etc...and also to blame for everything that goes wrong. It seems that "being me" is a bad thing in this relationship and I feel trapped because I can't be the Aunt Bea type that they seem to need me to be. I hope you and some of the readers of this site can give me some hope from an objective standpoint. I am anything but objective right now.

Unfortunately I will have a

Unfortunately I will have a hard time being objective... I am engaged to a man with ADHD (a condition that I was the first out of anyone in his life to notice) who was diagnosed at the beginning of this year. We have gone through many trials in our first year together and we finally got to a spot where it seemed as if he was conscious of his ADHD and doing everything he could to ensure he was "grounded" as opposed to floating in their air like a balloon with the wind telling him where he was going to go. So we set a wedding date. Now, three weeks later, surprise, surprise, he has gotten lazy in his efforts and had put my through 6 days of me being the mom and him the toddler (this is a pattern that goes back and forth and back and forth). Now I am evaluating if I can even be with him let alone marry him. Who can really live in this pattern for 15, 20,45 years? I set the wedding date because I felt that he had grown up and had taken control of his ADHD and himself. Obviously I knew that there were going to be bad days here and there but I truly felt that I could at least get my "grounded" finace more than the toddler. Almost a week straight of this again is putting me to my wits end. All of you here can identify with having to take care of everything. So this week I am doing that on top of my 21, yes 21 credit hours and an internship for our state legislature. I have never been this busy in my life and I just want to yell at him for getting "worn out" and going back to his old ways for the week. Who isn't warn out in life!?!?! Especially in these times. I know next week he will get back with it but I can't keep having him put me on this roller coaster! We all get fed up with life and need a day off but when you are the spouse of an ADHDer, you don't get that because if you are not taking care of it, then you can't trust it will get done! Argh! I know that had nothing to do with your post but it did lead up to this: Since I was wrong about this being a pattern I wouldn't have to put up with too much, I have obviously began thinking about what my life with my ADHDer would look like. You and I seem to be very similar people. I too am a kind and loving person but somehow don't have in me to be a constant cheerleader (in our defense I would say that even the cheerleader may lose that gusto if with an ADHDer long enough). I don't want him to wake up one day and resent me and I too don't want to wake up one day and feel that he stole the best years of my life. I am truly scared because I also don't want to not have him in my life. The only insight I can give you is that you need to leave to make yourself happy. Obviously I know this seems an impossibility to you and the judgment you WILL receive will most likely be damaging. Despite this, I always tell myself that we have only one life (that we are conscious of at least) and if you continue on this path, I am afraid you will die unhappy. Look at the bright side, you may even have a better relationship with you daughter so she won't see you "harping" on dad all the time.

To Heather

Are you putting off the wedding?  You don't say.

There is something called "hyperfocus" that you need to be aware of - its the ability of a person with ADD to focus completely upon something of importance to them...until they no longer can, or until the pressure to do so (internal or external) subsides.  Sounds as if your fiance has been hyperfocusing on your desires.  However hyperfocus is not a long-term solution, as it can't be sustained forever, so you need to address the underlying structural issues in your relationship.

You should ask yourself some questions - does everything HAVE to "get done"?  Can you learn to give yourself the days off that you need regardless of the endless tasks ahead of you (this pile of endless tasks goes on forever...and gets worse with kids.  Those who survive it are those who can put it aside every once in a while without feeling guilty).  Are you jumping to conclusions too quickly about how he will manage his ADD based upon fears that you have about your future?  Dealing with ADD can take a while...lots of effort over lots of time.  Has he had that time?  Do you think that you can "be easy" with him, even though he has quirks?

The best relationships that include ADD are those in which each spouse cherishes the special things that they bring to the relationship - some of which are directly a result of ADD.  The worst relationships are those in which one spouse is beating the other to become non-ADD (and the ADD spouse is fighting back).  This doesn't mean that having ADD gives you a free pass to being irresponsible, but that ADD that is controlled is viewed by both spouses as generally being a positive (or at least neutral) rather than a negative.  If you aren't there yet at this very early stage in your relationship you should be thinking long and hard about who the two of you are and what you both might need.

You won't be doing him any favors by marrying him before you two have dealt with this more fully.  He deserves to be loved by someone who cherishes him...and you deserve to be loved by someone who cherishes you.

Hello, I don't know how much

Hello, I don't know how much I can help. I can just share my own experience. Although I am a U.S. citizen, I lived in another country for more than 30 years with very little help concerning ADD. I have a son who has this and as the years have gone by I am deducing that his father, my ex now after 30 years of marriage, has the same, although he would not acknowledge this or want to go to a psychologist for possible solutions. Since the time my ADHD son was a toddler, and my husband having all the symptoms of ADD (although I knew nothing of this back then) my life became a living hell. I don't know if it's worth it to get into all the details since the symptoms are very similar. Having 10 children, this situation was extremely difficult to cope with since many times I had to neglect the time and attention with my other kids to give to my ADHD son. And my ADD husband was of little help. His solution was to yell and scream at the kids or me. He also was driving me crazy, always doing things opposite of what he told me he was going to do. Nagging just doesn't work, at all, or even lovingly trying to bring things to my husband's attention so we could have a more peaceful household and try to work things out. To make things short, in my older age, now in my fifties, with most of my children grown up except my 14 year old twins I'm living with, I received a large enough amount of money through a leave. I don't think I was copping out. I bore a lot of anguish and stress and suffering which was affecting my health and even causing me to have many inexplicable body aches. So, I knew this was an opportunity to have a needed change. And I'm so glad! It's hard for me after depending somewhat on having a married relationship, even though at times it was lousy, but I was elated when we separated. I don't even live near him. I figure, if he has something to learn in life, maybe he can learn it better without me. I'm happy and my kids are happy for me. Except my ADHD son, that is. I still communicate with my husband by phone (too far for anything else) and my son, as well as all my other kids. Well, if I could go back in time, I would have done so many things differently. I've heard that there are different levels of ADD and that excluding MSG from your diet can even heal you of it, something I wish I had known earlier. So, what I did with my life and the decisions I made may or may not be for someone else. But even though I'm older, I feel finally like I have a whole life ahead of me to look forward to. Getting bitter or resentful would only ruin things. By the way, my other kids see the ADHD in their brother and feel sorry for him, but no one feels sorry for their dad, at least not much. I guess with adults, kids expect them to be better persons and it weighs heavily, not just on the wife of an ADD husband, but on the kids as well.

As I write this my husband is

As I write this my husband is building a walk in closet in our as-of- yet unfinished master suite, which sits adjacent to our kitchen with holes in the ceiling (for the recessed lighting), and the living room with one wall still incomplete. Our upstairs is half painted, this office I'm in will someday be a dining room, and this is our 4th house together that we've done like this. I am generally working 6 days a week paying the bills, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the 2 kids, and AM TIRED. And I want the order back in my life. I just want him to find a job that will work for him and take some of this load off. Both kids are out for the night. And I'm just sitting here. Alone. There has to be more.