How do you deal with the frustrations of living with someone with ADHD?

With apologies to those whose marriages are in real trouble....

My husband is a very sweet man. He takes his meds faithfully, isn't addicted or a wild overspender or anything. But the fact of living with his ADD drives us both nuts. I'm looking for hints on dealing with these things.

One problem is the sheer cost of having ADD. Meds and a psychiatrist are expensive even if you have insurance. We stay broke all the time even though we do not spend frivolously.

Another cost is having to replace things that the ADDer loses or breaks. Let me give you an example. He is supposed to wear glasses to drive. He has bifocals and they don't work well when he's on the computer, so he takes them off and puts them in his pocket, without the case of course. They got broken and he doesn't qualify for a new pair under our insurance until December, so we decided to wait. Last week he got stopped by a cop for "drifting" through a stop sign and  the cop noticed that he didn't have his glasses. His job involves driving clients so he told his boss, so he got suspended for a week until he got a new pair out of pocket.

I don't want to think how much we've spent on screwdrivers and hammers. Basically, he buys them new for each project because he can't remember where he left the old ones.

I am so tired of picking up after him. Wrappers, cans, etc. He promised to pick up a mess the dog made a month ago, and hasn't done it yet.

So how do I deal with all these minor frustrations? Can an ADDer learn to put the hammer away, throw away the wrapper when they eat a piece of cheese, not break their glasses, etc? I brought this up with our marriage counselor and she said he could try coaching, but we can't afford it. I put up some reminders in the kitchen about the trash, but he learned to ignore them. Has anyone found any way to actually live with an ADDer without driving you both nuts?

I don't know

I still haven't figured it out.  Do want to read Melissa's book and hope there might be some answers (was hoping for an ebook, but since that isn't happening am planning on ordering it online). But just a trip to the grocery store is enough to drive me batty.  From other things I've read on here it seems it's very hard for them to learn those little things, although if they manage to make it part of their existing routine that can help.

Making Progress

As far as containing the messes, I've been doing this for years before I knew I was dealing with my husband's ADD. 

I've basically created "zones" for him to have clutter up.  I bought a basket or a tray so he can put his keys and wallet down as soon as he comes in the door.  He puts other stuff in it sometimes, but every so often I'll clean it out and put the rest of the stuff out.  Also, he has a room for all his hobby stuff.  I can shut the door and not have to see the clutter or anyone else who comes into our home. That is the zone he is allowed to terrorize.  If he leaves his keys or something else out where it doesn't belong, I simply toss them in the basket or put it in his room, so he doesn't tear up the house looking for things.  I get him to contain himself to the zones by continuing to put his stuff in there when I find it around.  Again, if he clutters a no clutter zone, or stashes stuff in a drawer that doesn't belong, I put it in a small, open box or container and put it in his room. Sooner or later he started putting his own stuff in his own room.  He even tidies up his own room (well, to him it looks tidy) every now and then when the floor gets covered or he gets tired of not finding things.  He uses the basket by the door partly because he's learned it works, and partly, I think, because he like that I was thinking of him while I was out shopping.  You might try this with your husbands glasses or save your change until you have enough to buy a spare pair (unbeknownst to him!).  I hate being "sneaky" or hiding things, but it seems to be working out well enoguh. 

I never thought of the methods I put in place as "boundaries" (I read that phrase in here today somewhere), but I guess that's what I'm doing.  His new habits didn't develop over night, so hang in there.  There are still times I have to follow behind him, but it's gotten much better over the years.  If you have a dump zone like a garage, you might suggest that "WE" go clean the garage.  I don't know why, but ADDers seem to get motivated when chores are done together.  Turn some music on that you both like and make a day of it.  Who knows, it might even turn out to be fun. 

As far as tools, yes, I've bought a few things again because they disappear into his room or only-God-knows-where.  I simply keep a set of essentials handy for myself and either hide them, or establish a "no touchie!" rule on them.  Or I buy tools in dainty sizes that he would never use but work for many of my purposes.  I have the cutest little hammer for hanging pictures that has been around for a decade or so now.  :) 

I buy glasses and plates that I don't really care if they get broken, or I buy super durable ones (Corelle) so they don't get broken (much).  I'm just glad he helps with the dishes!  As far as wrappers or whatever, I just get over it.  I have to take my own stuff back in to the kitchen anyway.  "Revised expectations" is the phrase for survival. 

There are a few books around for helping ADDers stay organized.  I'm on my way to trying a few more out--will post future successes.  Good luck!

A comment from a newbie

Hi -

My name is Catharine and I was just recently diagnosed with ADD. Just wanted to quickly chime in here -- I am SO motivated by doing tasks together. It's ... well, I'd say "it's kind of nuts," but then, that's sort of the point, eh?

Anyway, just wanted to give encouragement that that approach really works with me.



great ideas!

If he leaves his keys or something else out where it doesn't belong, I simply toss them in the basket or put it in his room, so he doesn't tear up the house looking for things.


Great idea so that he always knows where to look first for something he thinks is missing. I like that you have a clutter room for him and insist he keeps everything there.  I also like that you realize that it is important to put his stuff into an open container when you put it in his room.  So incredibly important for an ADDer.

you might suggest that "WE" go clean the garage. another really good idea since you seem to know how to work WITH him and not make him think his opinions don't count.

"Revised expectations" is the phrase for survival.  If people really stop to think about it, most of our relationships require revised expectations. We do not get to set all the rules of how things are done.

This post has some really good points about creating boundaries and finding ways to work with ADD, creating some win-win situations.  I am so uplifted to think that there is hope for these relationships.


No answers still dealing and

No answers still dealing and getting nuttier by the day.  I wish my husband did have an existing routine to add too when it comes to taking care of the house.  It takes an act of congress to get him to do anything around here.  Our home is small so I don't have a room to spare but he does have the garage and it is a disaster.  I continue to just pick up whatever as I go if it is something I can take care of.  To cut down on my frustrations I am eliminating as many flat surfaces as possible to stop the collection of clutter otherwise my whole house would consist of piles of stuff. 

Minor frustrations (NOT!)

For right now I'm staying put. Frankly, I just can't face asking my daughter (a rather judgmental soul) if I can stay with her. She's already struggling with my ADD grandson (not her biological child) and doesn't need to suffer because I married an ADDer.

Anyway, I'm looking for some ideas for specific ADD behaviors.

1. He can't finish a drink (non-alcoholic). I always find glasses partly filled with juice or water. They get bugs or the cats knock them over and make a mess. Can his distractibility be so bad he can't focus on drinking a glass of juice until he's drunk it all?

2. He's now got 2 pairs of glasses but still drives without because he can't find either.

3. He can't figure out he will need a towel after he gets out of the bath and so doesn't take a towel with him. (There is no linen closet or other place to put towels in the bathroom.) Then he walks back to the bedroom across hardwood floors dripping wet. God know how much it will cost to refinish our floors when we move or else the landlord will sue us.

If anyone has any ideas how to control these behaviors, I'd love to hear them.

the towel thing!

OK, the towel thing: Before I figured out my husband had ADHD I thought he must have grown up spoiled rotten, with someone daily replacing his towel and not minding that he'd placed a wet towel in random places around the house. The number of times I was tempted to ask his mother about that is countless. I nagged him endlessly, of course, to please remember to put his towel back so he had it for next time to no avail. Then I suggested, repeatedly, that he dry off in the bathroom and put the towel back right away. Eventually it became habit! So now his towel goes back, mostly, and I have a naked man walking through the house to go get dressed. ; ) I can't quite tell from your post if you literally have no towel rods in your bathroom...if so maybe you could put a hook up on the wall for his towel? And get one of those super fast drying thin towels for him to use?

Man, I am not looking forward to my  husband needing glasses. One more thing to consistently lose...

Anything to forget...

I knew I was forgetful long before I was ever diagnosed with ADD. For me, Everything has a specific place. It has to be this way. I NEVER lose my keys because they can only be in 4 possible places. Drawer (under kitchen phone), pocket, ignition of car or my briefcase. Basically I use this practice with everything. As far as leaving cups around, nope... I'm either sitting and drinking or if I'm working around the house I have a place on the island bar for easy access in running around the house mode. The towel can happen, but rarely. Someone generally would need to interupt my VERY specific order of morning objectives. While brushing my teeth, I turn on the shower, grab my towel from my towel rack (if too old, grab a new one), place by my shower, spit, rinse toothbrush which then immediately goes to it's place, then get in the shower.

I know I sound like an obsessive compulsive, but if I stay with my strict routine, things go well. If there is something extra that day I use my outlook/iPhone reminder's for the out of the ordinary things.

By the way... My feet do not ever touch the floor until they have been dried off :-) Many of my good behaviors I fully attribute to my beautiful wife who has let me know of any habits that suck, so I can correct them and add to the regiment.

Without order, there is only chaos :-)

The ADD diagnosis explained a lot of what I knew about myself already...


YYZ, How is it that you


How is it that you were so open to suggestions from your wife? My husband always means well, but often says he has so many things going on in his head about work (he excels at his job, but home life is chaotic) that he can't remember to do "all the things" I'd like him to do.  So I focused on getting the wet towel to stay in the bathroom and gave up on asking him to dry off in the shower, to rinse off the sink, to put his towel back on 'his' towel rod, etc. I guess I feel like his work is a priority for all of us given I stay at home with our daughter, and I worry somehow that if he has more to remember at home, he'll actually do less well at work!!! Any tips from you or 'your beautiful wife' are much appreciated! thanks!

If Mama ain't happy...

You know the old saying, I'm sure... It can take a while for the modified behavior to be appended to my auto-function features, but I try. Before diagnosis, which was not until I was 43, I used to think to myself "Damn... A bunch of things bother her!" Now I realize most of the forgetful things must have seemed inconsiderate and lazy :-) I still do plenty of thinks I'm sure, but so does she :-)

We both work full time jobs, so I have always tried to split the duties. Sometimes I do more, sometimes she does. I do things that she does not and vice versa... I don't think any marriage is 50/50 very often and you staying home with the kids is as hard, if not harder of a job, than your husband's job.

Don't let and ADDer off the hook, or we will assume it is okay, obviously, or you would say something. (ADD un-medicated Mindset)

When he gets good with the towel on the shoulder trick, add the dry off in the shower trick, then dry the feet B4 exit trick... It is all about routine and routine is a function of long term memory which ADDer's have NO Trouble with :-)

Good luck,


Mama Ain't Never Happy

He thinks it is my responsibility to make sure there is a towel in there for him. I think someone who graduated from college can figure out that after the bath comes the drying off. And then he would walk through the house naked because he dresses out of the dryer. (Just us here, no kids; the dog and cats really don't care whether he's naked or not.) He firmly believes it is not possible to actually hang our clothes in the closets.

Does anyone have any hints for the lost/broken glasses? Or to make him remember he's drinking a glass of something until he finishes it? Or is that hopeless?

arwen's picture

tough nut

Your spouse is one tough nut!

Here's what I would do:

(1)  Put large sign outside or next to the tub, that says in big bold red letters "Don't Forget to Get a Towel!"  The sign can be removed when you have visitors.  I have a similar sign in our bathroom for our ADHD son-in-law who has trouble remembering certain shower-related necessities.

(2)  Buy a couple of Contigo autoseal spillproof mugs (8.00/pair at Sears), make him use them by removing all the other glasses to somewhere he won't look for them, then it won't matter if he doesn't finish his drink.

(3)  There is a device called the EyeWhere eyeglass locator (  -- maybe you could give this to him for a birthday or holiday gift.   *I* would keep the locator device, rather than letting my spouse have it -- or super-glue it to the refrigerator or some such.

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

That is the coolest idea!

I've never seen those eyeglasses things before. What a cool idea! It might help with one of our biggest problems in the morning. Dog and cats tend to knock my glasses off my nightstand and I can't see them if they aren't on my face. But my hearing is excellent. My daughter gave me a similar thing for keys years ago, but it wouldn't stay on the key ring. 

Can you put that kind of cup in the dishwasher?



arwen's picture

top rack

There are various models -- the $8 version is the kids travel cup I think, which is top-rack dishwasher safe.  Most of Contigo's products are top-rack safe, but a few aren't.

keys, towels, glasses, etc.

WOW....I can't believe I'm reading behaviors from others, that my ADHD husband as done for our entire 31 year marriage. UNREAL. You guys are right about the COST of ADHD....It has cost us untold thousands and thousands of dollars in meds, treatments, getting certain foods because of his picky eating habits, and the untold amount of BROKEN STUFF where the girls and I get blamed.

- KEYS...It took ten years of chaotic running around like nuts, looking for keys in the morning, before I could convince him to put the keys on a key rack by the front door. All the while my husband is yelling at the girls and me, when HE is the one who lost HIS keys. "Somebody took my    keys"...."You hid them from me, where did you hide them?".......... "Why do you do this to me?" But NOT JUST KEYS....tons and tons of LOST STUFF. You name's been lost and has to have been replaced at one time or another.

-TOWELS....Every morning.....forgets to take a towel to the shower, so he yells at me to bring him one. You would think he'd get TIRED of forgetting the towel, and standing in the bathroom, getting the floors and rugs wet, while waiting for a towel to appear.

-GLASSES.....OMG.....I don't know HOW many pairs he's broken (can't even count them). A month ago, he broke HIS pair AND MY PAIR in the same morning. I couldn't believe it. Now we BOTH have to go get new glasses.

-PROJECTS......Endless amounts of money and time spent on projects. Most don't ever get finished. He finishes the things that HAVE to go to other people; being a musician, he has to finish music compositions, making tests and things for his classroom (he's a professor) etc. But, there are ALWAYS things that aren't completed or done wrong on WHATEVER he does. He's NOT a detail person, even though he TRULY believes he is. Don't even get started on the household projects..........we won't go there right now. lol

BLAME.......ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS blames someone else first for something......... anything.... that goes wrong, other than face the fact that that it was HIM that possibly messed up. The COST of THIS is the hurt and anger that comes from forever being blamed for things that we didn't do. It causes painful scars that don't get healed because new wounds keep showing up and the cause can't be discussed. He WILL NOT TALK ABOUT HIS ADHD. I don't get this either. I've NEVER shamed him for having it, don't try to hurt him, but he is forever hurting us with things that we CAN'T resolve. The price of this has caused my emotions to go dead. Our girls are older and understand much more, but they too still get hurt by certain things he says and does. (again, won't discuss it)

     I read Melissa's book,  IT WAS TERRIFIC. It's just hard for those of us whose spouses refuse to change the behavior aspects of their ADHD. (even if they take meds, they won't take advice) I wish there was an answer for folks like us. You either have to just "live with it" or leave I guess.


Yes we can to all of the

Yes we can to all of the things you listed. I think me being a woman makes me a more sensitive ADD "victim" than perhaps a male. When I constantly lose things and get scolded for losing it by  parents or now my husband who all mean well then it makes me sad. I feel like I have let them down and that I am a failure. Men I feel are more tough, they can handle nagging and scolding better and just shake it off.

So I have taught myself routines where all these things have a certain spot. My keys are supposed to always hang, no matter what, on the hook in the hallway. Even if they are in my pocket or in my handbag, I always take them out and hang them on the hanger. If I don't hang them there for some reason my husband will ask me where my keys are and tell me to hang them up. By having clear spots that doesn't take any lifting or moving of other things to get there I have managed to excel and can now proudly say that I hardly ever lose anything anymore, nor do I never forget half of the stuff I need whenever I go out.
But it didn't happen over night, I had to figure out where my ADD stopped me from having control, for me it is when hanging my keys on the hanger takes an extra activity. Such as having to move my husbands bag out of the way to reach the hanger, the hanger being in a different room that is locked, the hanger being occupied of something else that needs to be removed. All those things will take me off my course.

To me it sounds like your husband isn't really too excited about dealing with this. Sounds like maybe some of his man-laziness plays a big part in it too. Because as I mentioned in the beginning of the post, I had the motivation for this change in my life, for me it was too much emotionally when I failed at these things. If he on the other hand feels that, ah if I ignore the garbage she'll nag at me for a few minutes but it's definitely worth being able to watch the whole game, open up a beer and not having to put pants on cause I don't have to go outside. If he doesn't want to change and doesn't really suffer from any embarrassment feelings after these things happen then I doubt that he is ready for coaching either.

  I tried putting the hooks


I tried putting the hooks on the wall for keys to go on, but he doesn't remember to put the keys there and they have been lost several times.  Also, he has bought 3 pairs of head sets because the dog or cat has gotten to the cords to chew them because he leaves them everywhere.  Ive told him several times to put them away so such and such doesnt chew them but he doesnt get it.  I need maybe to use the basket idea or somthing. ;)

I didn't even know I was doing it!

I've been married 35 years to a great guy who suffers from ADD--I just discovered it, and he doesn't know it yet.  There are so many great strategies here.  

Yes, yes, YES, do chores together.  It seems guys in general think quality time is doing things together more than "date" things, and my guy can stay on track much longer if we do anything from dishes to repainting the house together.  I can't be too rigid in "how" and I don't get to decide when we are "done", but yes, doing it together works. 

Yes, a strict routine is helpful to him.  And yes, he is able to "learn" a routine.  But it has to be small, and only one new thing at a time.  I laughed about the towels and naked men.  Years ago, it took a sincere, heartfelt request (with a glimmer of tears) to get him to "try" to hang up his wet towel.  First try, the doorknob.  "You did pretty good today, getting to the doorknob"  Next few days, wadded up and wedged into the towel bar.  Better, I said brightly, really going strong, you'll get there!  Well, how's it supposed to be? he asked.  Oh, sorry, I wanted it hung, and flat, and straight!  Well, why didn't you say so? he wondered.  20 years later, he still hangs up his towel.  I think at one time my definition of "hang up a towel" and his were very different.  I do miss the half-naked guy walking in the hall, though.

Unless your ADD partner has a crappy character underneath the ADD, remind yourself that they are NOT doing the things that make you crazy because they don't respect you, love you, or because they want to hurt you.  This understanding has changed my life.

And remind yourself that just because they can sometimes get it together (such as at work --are you sure?) doesn't mean they can KEEP it together.  A lot of frustration comes from "If you can do this, why can't you do that?  Or you did it last week, why didn't you do it this week? " For example, I can run a mile.  But I can't run 25 miles.  Asking an ADDer to get it all together and keep it together is like that.  Would you say to me, Look, you just ran a mile, just run 24 more? 

Even when you can't help them, or just need a break from "helping" you can ALWAYS help yourself.  Now if I could just do something about the cupboard doors.......


I am 42 and I married my husband (37) in 2009. When we got married, my children (3) were grown and he had a 7 years old son. We had worked together and that is how we met. Has was a hard worker and very kind. I didn't realize that he had ADD at the time until I moved in with him. He has full custody of his son. As time went by I realized that he was having problems finishing anything and would get sidetracked really easy. He is a vetran and goes to the V.A. hospitol for treatment every month. I told him that he needed to talk to them about his thought process and maybe they could help. He did and was diagnosed with ADD and was put on meds. It really helped in the beginning. He is now attending collage and gets so overwhelmed. I try to help but spend most of my time getting frustrated with him. My stepson who is now 10 (11 in November) and he has ADHD. When I first came into their lives,  he was 7 and still messed his pants. His biological mother signed him over to my husband when he was just 6 months old so my husband had been raising him his whole life. He was like a wild child. Not that he was bad, he was just ok with being dirty and would get off the school bus and stop and poop in the field right by the highway like there was nothing wrong with it. I had to potty train him. It wasn't easy. When I realized that he had ADHD, I understood that he was just getting side tracked and waiting too long to go. My husband didn't think anything of it because he really didn't pay attention. He loves his son as do I. It's been a few years now and it seems that they are both getting worse. Both have no organization, they lose or break thing constantly and I feel that I have to do it all. I still have to tell my stepson to put his clothes on one piece at a time. They are both very smart but seem to have no common sense. It is so frustrating for me to live like this. I try to understand, but wow. Since we have gotten married, I have had a stroke and a nervous breakdown. My husbands family is unlike anything I have ever encountered. And lately, it seems that my husband have become very selfish. Both of them will just bust unto song, or quote movies (word for word) or stomp their feet or bang on things. I doesn't matter if I am trying to watch something or read something. I feel like my life has stopped because I have to live theirs. I love them both and refuse to just give up but I really need some help. I have PTSD now and would love to just get a job and have a life too. We can't afford counseling. My home is a mess because I just gave up on trying to keep it clean when I saw that they both just make messes all day everyday. I need some help to deal with this. We had an issue with our son from school and I was trying to deal with it, my husband made our son go to his room so we could talk. When he left the room, I got a 45 minute speech about how him (my husband). It is always about him. How can I parent this child when all my husband can talk about is himself. Please help me.

Finding help

Dear Anita,

You have a very difficult situation. Living with someone with ADD is a challenge, but it sounds like you have some extra challenges with your stepson. It also sounds like ADD is common in your husband's family. Do you have health insurance? Most insurance policies cover 16 or 20 outpatient visits to a mental health clinic. If you have coverage, consider going by yourself to first get some support so you don't feel so alone and your world out of control. If this is not an option, reading a book or two about ADD may give you some comfort and advice. I have discovered that when my partner seems selfish to me, it's usually a symptom of his ADD--essentially, "hyperfocusing" on himself. Sometimes I have to say, "Wait a minute. Let's get back to this situation we're facing." I've had a couple of breakthrough moments: One was when I realized that my partner loved me and his "bad" behaviors were really a symptom of his disorder. That allowed me to take them less personally. The other was when I read a study that showed how women routinely put other's needs above their own. Since then, I often have to tell myself that what I want must have equal consideration to what my partner wants. But I need to state that and I need to set limits and stick to them, calmly and consistently. It was a rocky road when I started doing this, but over time, my partner has come around. It is a kind of training. Think of it more like dog training. Set limits and expectations and reinforce the positive whenever it happens. I got to the point where I was ready to split but I climbed out of it, and after 11 years, my partner and I are truly happy. My best wishes.



hopeful wife's picture

Living with an ADHD for over 20 years

My husband is a wonderful ADHD man. He thinks big. He always has some big project going on and yes, he is a mess! I am so glad to have found this site. And to be honest, he was the one who directed me to it.  After a fitful begging. pleading, screaming, crying, and I've had it DISGUSTION...He loves me. And he doesn't do any of the behavior "on purpose" or "intentionally." He found this site and since then, we have been "getting better" like I hear is the normal way to describe it.  He got on medication 3 years ago...but it did take the ding dong doctor  a whole year to diagnose his condition as ADHD...I knew it wasn't depression...and I tried to tell the doc that...anyway, adderol really really really helped the situation. I did ask my doctor about it...about dealing with it...the mess, the forgetfulness, the apparent disregard for my feelings...did I need something to cope? Divorce has never been an option in our marriage. We married for better or worse. No matter what. She told me I needed to look at it a little differently. So I did. So I tried. But I still kept telling him how tired I was of "being his mother" instead of being his wife. I would tell him what I need. He would try. He would do great for a while...then the mess again, the lack of being present...the disconnect. So, I beg some more...I refuse to always pick up his stuff.  But now, I am looking at it differently. I understand he doesn't consciencely forget about my feelings. He does love me and he does show me and he does work everyday. I just have to recognize when he is tired...overwhelmed and completely brain-fried and not expect too much at those times. So, I had to write...because it amazes me how many folks are going through this and interpret it as the person is a real jerk. They really do come across that way sometimes. But I know his heart. My advice to any who will listen is patient...don't expect the ADHD spouse to meet your every demand and need. They can't. There is something wonderful about each one them...or else we wouldn't have married them in the first place. Notice the good things they do. Notice the things you fell in love with. Think of all the great times you've had...remember that you aren't so perfect yourself. And keep on working on making it work! Love to all!

Without wanting to be narcissitic, what about MY life?

I'm new to this site today. I've come to many of the awarenesses written hear through different paths. Mainly, just trying over the past 16 years to focus on compassion.  But I'm in a state of exhaustion - emotional and often physical. Both kids have executive function disorder, and my husband has owned up that he has EF problems also. Now that one kid has been diagnosed with ADD I realize (and again, he sees it) , that he suffers as well. But he thinks "he's handling it. he's accommodating it."  Well, no, he's not. I'm doing the accommodating. I have been doing the accommodating for 17 years. When the Executive Function problems were identified, I said point blank - "this brain (mine) is having to do the executive funcitoning for four (4!) people! Two kids, you and me." It is absolutely exhausting. My husband even said to someone recently that he "cleans the kitchen" and "she does "everything else"" (and frankly, he doesn't "clean the kitchen" - he puts most,not all, of the dishes in the dishwasher and washes most, but not all, of the other things. Sweep? no. Wipe down counters? no.  ). I've thought "who does he think will finish the cleaning?" Now I know he doesn't "think". Not out of malice. Just because his brain can't do it. Ok. I get that. And I'm just now, this week, acknowledging to myself that i"m married to a person with a disability. But there is something particularly weird (sorry) about this. No wheel chair for instance. No acknowledgement from him that I'm having to GIVE so much of myself, my life, (I know this is so selfish sounding, but I'm hopeful I can be candid here in order to get constructive feedback), to compensate for what he cannot give (and what frankly I expected that he would give, when we were married). So I'm facing a loss. And I'm facing it alone. And its not a loss I can easily share with other people. Friends/family could "understand" if you were always  driving your wheelchair bound spouse around, but they don't know you are shouldering ALL the scheduling/housework/relationships for the kids and family/pets/school etc responsiblities and getting so very little back in return (he keeps the cars running, writes the checks (although doesn't "manage" the finances), and washes the dishes. That's it for helping with the household). And loneliness? He has no friends. None. He's a nice guy, but does not do anything about relationships. Never arranges anything social with me or others. When I say "never", I mean never. Its so incredibly sad to me to think that i"lve probably got 25- 35 years left on this planet. I like having FUN! I like being with people! I like living in a tidy space! I like to travel. I'd like to find JOY in this last quarter century of good health. Unless something changes, there will be existence only. I'm beginning to think I need to tell him what "I" need. I'm not leaving him. But I need to have a different life within our marriage. Its killing me. 



You are certainly not being narcissistic.  If you read a number of the other posts on this forum, you will see that there are quite a number of women (and a few men) that feel very similarly to you.  I encourage you to educate yourself as much as you can about ADHD.  You might want to get Melissa Orlov's first book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage, as a place to start.  I'm sure you would be able to relate quite a bit to what she talks about in there.  Maybe you could get your husband to read it too.

I really do believe that if you have not talked to your husband already that you do so, and that you let him know that you have needs to, and that the two of you try to find ways to negotiate time and opportunities for you to take care of yourself.  And that you share with him that it's important for you to add some fun into the marriage.

If none of this helps, I suggest you get professional help.  If you like, you can contact me through my website.


When thinking outside the box becomes a problem

Lately my job has gotten so much more demanding (It's Christmas and I'm in sales) that I can't keep up with the housework. I know I'm supposed to be sensitive to his ADD quirks but I'm getting frustrated. Examples:

I was making homemade french fries and none of the slotted spoons for taking them out of the oil were in the drawer or the dishwasher. We have 4! This is a job that has to be done with some speed. I end up screaming because I'm afraid they are going to burn. He (much more graceful and physically adept than me) figures out how to pick them out of the hot oil like tossing a salad, with big forks. OK, that's great, but can't you wash all the dishes so I can have a proper spoon?

If there aren't any clean plates, he'll suggest eating off of our pie plates or platters. Wouldn't it be better just to wash the dishes often enough that we don't have to do that?

I understand about adjusting expectations. Our house isn't heated because we can't afford to pay the gas bill. I didn't get a birthday present. I can never have people over. I don't know where to draw the line between what I should accept and what is unacceptable. I do understand about thinking outside the box, but shouldn't they at least acknowledge that there IS a box? Maybe sometimes they could be like other people.

What works sometimes for me

What works sometimes for me is to give my husband a finite list of "most need" items (usually no more than 3), pref without a strict timeline (ie a couple of days lead time). It has to be written on a list (again no more than three in this house!). It seems to facilitate his organization and keeps me from having to stress over mentioning it over and over. Its not easy.. Trying not to stress its true!

budget for his ADD

I manage the finances in our house (of course) and after many all-out arguments with my add husband about parking tickets, lost glasses, etc....things I didn't budget for, it finally occurred to me: why DON'T I budget for them? After all, this will never stop, and much like the utility bills, his add-related expenses will always be there. So now, I have a $50 line-item in my budget on ever new paycheck cycle. When he gets his next parking ticket or loses something, I simply take it out of that line item. If there is any money left in that line item at the end of that budget cycle, I roll it over to the next month or go splurge on something for myself. Seems to be working OK so far. By the way, he does not know about this, as if he did, it would become just another way for him to justify over-spending or extra money that it was OK for him to use.

Pick my battles and zones

Hi Sueann,

Like some of the other replies, we have created zones where he can do whatever he likes. His office is a total mess but fortunately there is a door. My husband is handy and has a load of tools - They are strewn about his work area in the basement and garage - two of his areas. I used to get overwhelmed with wanting to organize these areas, but the job is too big for one person. There is so much stuff. SWhat really makes me hyperventilate is that when he does a household project, he likes to buy "extra" stuff so he won't have to go back to the store. Hie explained to me once that his time is precious. What really gets to me is how much we spend and I don't think he even knows what he has. We have brand new equipment that he bought for a household project still in boxes. It sickens me at times, but I have learned to just let it go and not to look around too much.

As far as keys, wallets and little things, he has a basket by the front door that he throws things in. Funny though because even that gets to be a mess after a while. I usually clean it up after 6 months. I can usually find loose coins enough to buy a latte at Starbuck's:) One time I cleaned out our junk drawer and found three IPOD shuffles.  He most have bought new ones when he couldn't find where he put them.

As far as the little things, I have learned to let them go especially now with his recent diagnosis of ADHD. Some examples are he NEVER makes the bed. Each night, I clean up the kitchen and put all the dishes away only to come down in the morning to find several glasses/dishes in the sink. All he has to do is put them in the dishwasher. He is notorious for taking coffee to work. Instead of bringing the coffee mug back inside, he leaves it in the garage. So I bring it in and wash it. 

 At times I do get resentful, but I try to look at the big picture of the good things he does and contributes to our family. However, it is not always easy for me to do, but I try.

Good luck!