Hey there! ****Disclaimer***** this is long. Sorry.
So, like many people on this forum I've been lurking, reading, mulling over and getting insight from previous posts for weeks before sticking my head out here to venture a post, to tell my story and make an inquiry. If I had a dollar for every ah-ha moment I've had since I bought "The ADHD Effect on Marriage" and started browsing this site (and others) after my therapist suggested that ADHD probably plays a profound role in my marriage, I'd probably be able to stop watching and tracking our budget like a maniacal tax auditor (ha, JK! Probably not), but I digress. Suffice it to say I see many parallels to my own life and actually I am pretty happy that as miserable as I truly thought I was, it could be worse (but can't it always?).
So let's begin, shall we, so I too can experience what is hopefully the cathartic release of getting my "love story" out there. First off, I'm the "non" or nt, and was a raging control freak, type a, nagging shrew, prior to discovering my husbands affair 2 years ago (this was in response to him acting like I was nothing but his slave, mother, organizer, housekeeper, cook, cruise director, single mother to our 2 children, breadwinner and verbal punching bag for the 4 years previous to this), but I'll get to that.
We met young, in high school. I was a nerdy, over-achieving, straight A, late blooming, perpetually bullied daughter of divorced parents (at this point I'm certain my dad was ADD, but that's a topic for my therapist and I). He was the bad boy cutey with the devil may care grin, fast car and the ability to talk his way out of everything. We met in Junior algebra when I was a freshman, and it was love at first sight (for me). Fast forward a couple years, I developed and blossomed and he ran into me after he graduated (I use this term loosely, he had to take 3 summer school classes to get his diploma after his graduation! There is so many red flags we could be waiving in a helicopter at this point). We started dating while I finished out height school and it was everything a young girl with self esteem issues could dream of. I was taming the popular bad boy! Fast forward.... College for me I am getting ready to leave and he proposes. I am so in love I say yes!! Then reality sets in, he can't get a job in the college town I'm moving to, so I back out at the last minute and go to the local community college so we can be together (I tell you all this so you get a clear picture). I won't be held down and my folks tell me if I'm going to marry young then I'm going to support myself. I save every penny I make while working full time and going to school (he had a crappy job and couldn't manage to save any money) and put off the wedding until I am 21. In the meantime we buy a house and use my money for the pitiful down payment. I keep going to school, not for my dream career but something practical to make a good living at. I establish a budget and make sure we live within that. It's like a dream, I still get all Disney princess giddy thinking of that wonderful time in our lives. We get married, I graduate, he jumps from job to job to job. I learn to cook and clean and playing house is so much fun! I take on more and more and more and do it with a smile on my face and he showers me with attention and affection. Bliss. Then I get pregnant.
My beautiful oldest DD was born and it was like a light switch was turned off. It actually started during the pregnancy, I had always envisioned an experience that we shared. It started out that way, but about half way through, he couldn't be bothered. He bought a quad when we couldn't afford it and spent all of his time and energy on that in fact, the day we brought her home from the hospital he dropped the carrier down loaded his quad up in his truck and rode until well into the night while I was left alone with this terrifying little creature by myself. I started stressing bc we didn't have health insurance with his job or mine. As soon as our DD was born I started a payment plan with the hospital and started getting serious about my career. I had to make sure we were covered. I am fiercely independent and although my parents offered to help, I was going to make the most of the life I had chosen with the man I loved. I worked 10Xs harder, hoping he would see and work as hard as me and so we would have the things I hoped for in our life. I made sure our DD had everything and we could pay for it. I arranged the child care, the meal planning, payed the bills etc etc. I started talking to my DH about getting a better job that had better benefits and he enjoyed (he hated that job, but he had hated the others too). Wrote his résumé scanned for openings etc etc. He eventually got apprenticeship in a field he really enjoyed that had great benefits and pay. I was so proud of him and thought it was a turning point. By this time I was rising in my career and was ready for a brother or sister for our DD. He was game for our boy. We tried for 2 years, then had two miscarriages (he flat out ignored me while I grieved and asked me why I couldn't "just get over it" in fact he made several insulting "wanting a new puppy" comments during this process) I finally had a viable pregnancy. We were both over the moon excited! Happy dances, gifts given to me affectionate moment after affectionate moment, until I had the ultrasound that showed we had a healthy thriving baby.....girl. Looking bak I could see the exact moment in his eyes when he lost interest. I had, had such a rough pregnancy the first time and this time was looking even worse so this was our last child. He didn't speak to me for 3 weeks. I had an awful pregnancy and was put on bed rest. I would still try to manage everything in the house bc I had to, then he lost his job, the one we had worked so hard for. I had to work extra hours in a difficult pregnancy to help support us. He got a better one thank god after a lot of looking and being off for 3 months. We had our second DD the day before he was scheduled to start, 5 weeks early. He went to work the day after she was born and I stayed in the hospital and a hotel close by, by myself to breasted while she was in the NICU. It was of course not his fault and we needed the money desperately, but he never offered to come with me when he was off or help in any way.......
From that point until I found the text that lead to my discovery of the affair I might as well have lived alone (except I did his cooking, cleaning, laundry and money management). I was angry. I was bitter and I did not like who I was and this is not what I wanted modeled for me children. I decided I was going to make it work. I begged him to go to counseling and he refused I read the love languages, I did special things for him. I stopped yelling and screaming and nagging...nothing. I also started pouring myself into getting my body back, doing things I enjoyed, continuing to advance my career and spend time with the best part of my life, my girls, and I would lie in bed, alone and cry myself to sleep, missing the charming prince I had married. At this point he hadn't bought me a present in 2 years or even acknowledged my last birthday or anniversary, but I was desperate for him back.....then I found the text. He had been having an affair for over a year. The worst part was he kept lying. I had to drag every detail out of him. He would not come clean, but he wanted to stay with me and swore it was over. He agreed to go to counseling and told me that my controlling, nagging and emotionally unsupportive ways drove him to seek and love from another. I listened and changed and took a good look at who I was. I stopped controlling and nagging and asked him for input and for 6 months....it was simply amazing. He never took any accountability in our marriage counseling session but he was so defensive I didn't push, I was just happy to have the man of my dreams back. His conditions where he never wanted to be reminded of the affair ever again and we had to start with a clean slate, except my changing how controlling I am and to make more of an effort to be loving. I KNOW!!!
If you can't tell, I am very matter of fact and out spoken. No one, I mean no one, walks all over me, except him, because I have and probably always will adore him, despite what he does and how he hurts me. I loved him so much I enabled the sh** out of him. Sheesh, what a loser I am (I'm kidding, I don't think I was or any one else is/was a loser for this. I was trying to show love)
I got a huge promotion, we bought our dream house and for the third time in our 13 year history I lost the magic of hyper focus. Once again I was carrying the team, albeit in a calm non judgmental way, but still infuriating. Then the fights really started, and I mean whoa! He would start screaming and would break anything he could get his hands on, lamps, walls, a broom once, he would actually rip clothing off. For the longest time I shouted right back until my 30th birthday. One of my biggest complaints is that he does not plan ANYTHING and will not follow through and if he does plan or start something he procrastinates to the point of ridiculousness, you get my point (I know now that its not his fault but still.....) so despite offers from my mom and friends he wanted to plan it, but it snuck up on him. My mom called him two days before and asked what the plan was, there was none and it was a holiday weekend, most of our friends and family went out of town. He panicked and came to me and I put it together. We met a couple (i stress "couple)of our friends at a bar and I reserved a hotel room within walking distance. I tried really hard to make the most of it, but he was pissed at me bc apparently I was upset with him. I was but I tried really hard not to show it. When we got there he started slamming down drinks, but I ignored him and had fun. The bar had a mechanical bull and I decided to ride it. He went ape sh** on me, calling me a slut and whore and that I wanted to show off me t**s and screaming at me. Then he told me to have fun on my birthday and left. Our friends were stunned and walked the hysterical me back to our room. One of the guy friends went out looking for him and brought him back as he was attempting to walk the 20 miles back to our house. When he got to the room he started screaming again and I realized I had no more fight left. I was a completely independent woman, financially, emotionally and in all ways that mattered. I calmly looked him in the eye and asked for a separation.
We talked about it when we got home and I gave him 6 months to make some real changes and win me back. The weeks that followed were even worse, but I stopped fighting. I stopped judging. I focused on me and found a therapist and she called out the ADD. I researched and found a psychologist for him and have been researching out the wazoo. I try very hard to be empathetic and was supportive when he was given the diagnosis. I don't judge I've been making lists and praising his progress, which is two steps forward, two steps back, repeat. The psychiatrist can't see him for another three weeks to start meds. I try not to take his actions personally anymore and am willing to work with him on treatment and by in large he has been receptive. In fact he was heartbroken when he realized how much pain he caused, until the next day when he thinks its not a big deal and I'm marginalized and I feel taken advantage of. I have lovingly detached and had previously started the process of letting him take the fall for his own action as a way to cope with my situation. He sometimes wears dirty clothes now because doesn't do laundry and has to eat peanut butter and jelly the last two weeks of each month bc he spent all of his disposable income.
I want my prince back and am willing to work for it, like I have in all parts of my life, but how long do I need to grit my teeth, say encouraging words for small actions and not be me and speak my mind, before he is secure enough to have a real conversation? I am also struggling with having to forget all the wrongs and sacrifices I've made. When is that acknowledged, or is it never and besides my career, my beautiful home and gorgeous girls, the last 10 years don't count?
Thank you for reading. Sorry this is so long rambling. I got on a roll. :-)