How much is too much?

I have been reading this forum and decided it was time for me to post...

I am a non-ADHD man living with my girlfriend of nearly 6 years who has ADHD. She was diagnosed while in high school and has tried different medicines and approaches.

She is ready to get married (and rightly so). I want to be married to her and have kids, but her ADHD symptoms drive me crazy. Our entire relationship, she has been habitually late, lacked motivation for the most part, neglected responsibility (including household chores, and any financial responsibility). She has worked a few jobs, but most have been part time, low paying jobs like babysitting. I assume full financial responsibility even though we are not married. I also have assumed most of the household tasks like cleaning and cooking. She thinks I do this because I am stubborn, but I see it more because I know cleaning and cooking and paying bills has to get done.

Over the years I have told her that these things really bother me. I may not have been vocal enough about it, but I did tell her. Within the past year, I thought the problem may not be with her, but with the way I handle my frustration. So I went to therapy and was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I have been working on keeping my thoughts and frustrations inline. I have become more vocal about my frustrations with her while also becoming more distant. She has made attempts to work on her ADHD symptoms, but they still happen. She was just recently very late when we were leaving with some friends to go out of town. I felt like that was the moment things changed. I realized that I could no longer handle the frustration caused by these symptoms.

I don't know what to do now. She is waiting on me to give her an answer about whether or not I am fully committed to her and will marry her soon, or if I feel like these are things I cannot overcome. I feel horrible to think that I could deeply love and care about her, yet be unwilling to accept her faults and move forward with marriage. I'm afraid that if we get married and the ADHD issues persist (which she says they will), then my frustration will grow and grow until I breakdown.

My therapist has helped me a lot with this situation. Any advice would be great and I appreciate all the good advice in this forum.


Tough question...

I did not know I had ADD when I married my wife. The thing that really helped me, unknowingly, was that she was Real Clear about certain expectations and had Clear boundaries about many aspects of a relationship. She basically gave me the structure that I did not really know I needed to make a relationship work. Things were still Not Easy by a long shot, but we made it for years and I was finally diagnosed with ADD after many years of Room Mate status. I became so anxiety ridden that I finally saw a doctor and the ADD diagnosis was a surprise, but made so many things make sense. Balance between an ADDer and a Non-ADDer is not easy, obviously... But knowing what you are dealing with could help out a lot. You both have to be willing to do you share of the work and the ADDer will need to know clearly what you are needing in the relationship that currently is not there.

Best wishes to you...

Thanks YYZ.    So looks like

Thanks YYZ. 


So looks like we've come down to it. We got into it this weekend. She needs to know now...Get married or be done with it. 

I am so confused right now. My brain is telling me to end it because I can't live with the inner turmoil. I am so frustrated that it is hurting me physically. My heart though, says to not end it. We have been together for 6 years. She is a good person and will be a great mother. I just have a fundamental issue with her ADHD symptoms. I still have to shoulder all of the financial responsibility and most of the household responsibilities. I cannot go into a marriage knowing that this will continue to be the case. As I have said to her before, I need a partner, not a child. 

I know if I do decide to end it though, we will both be in pain for a long time. I still love her and care about her and don't want her to be in pain. Nor do I know how I will move on. She is the only person I have ever had this type of relationship with. 

I am lost right now, so anymore advice would be very appreciated. 

Tough call...

It is a tough call, but if you think the ADD symptoms are bad now, just wait until you have kids. The over-load on an ADDer is huge when life changing things are added to the delicate balance. Does your GF not want to work on her issues with ADD? I think couples therapy would be a good call to work through all concerns with moving to the next step. The ADDer must want to improve if you have any hope of seeing any relief of the symptoms.

We have been to counseling

We have been to counseling together. She is wanting to go to individual counseling but her job has just changed insurance and it hasn't kicked in yet.

She has worked on some of her issues but it goes in spurts. She will do better for a bit then get back into her previous habit. 

It doesn't help that I have anxiety about the situation and probably make the situation worse by thinking too much about it. 

She sees it as a trust issue on my part. As in, I don't trust her to fix her issues down the road. I believe trust is based off of a person's character or past experiences, and it is those experiences that have led to my issues in the first place. So, should I trust her 100% to fix her problems? Its hard to say. Her other family members are similar to her, so I expect that she will be the same way.

no one can give you a yes or no here...

I always go with my heart. but then again, I've gotten into some binds that way...

As an ADHD woman- I feel for your girlfriend and I want to tell you to have some patience with her and give her a chance... 6 years is a long investment to throw in the towel on. Also- speaking personally, I have changed a lot over the years... quit drinking, went through school, became a lawyer, became a mother... so where it looked like I would never financially contribute, I now am equal in that department. But- I've never been a perfectionist and my housekeeping, cooking, etc, is still just mediocre... essentially- I am still ME. I still bother my husband with my intense emotions, never-ending chatter, impatience, defensiveness... I drive him crazy. In good and bad ways. And for now- he says the good outweighs the bad! 

However, also as an ADHD woman, I want to warn you both to be areful about jumping in to marriage. If the divide is too great, you will feel like a mean, angry, cold, nag, AND she will feel picked on, belittled, punished... You will both feel misunderstood. If you need more than she can give, you might come to feel resentful if she doesn't change much... and most people don't change that much.  It sounds like this is already really hurting you... and if you marry her, with NO changes, you can count on being more hurt and she can count on feeling TERRIBLE about herself.

My advice is similar to YYZ's. you need to have a frank conversation with her about what you both need.... with concrete examples, "I need you and I to make a list of all the chores and divvy them up. You do laundry and I do shopping." "I need you to clean after yourself- dishes, etc so there isn't extra for me to clean when I come home". "I need you to have a steady job or at least look for a steady job so I feel like we are both in this together".  She should give you a similar list: "I need some space and patience with how I do my chores. It won't be done the way you do it, but it will be done. " "Pick your battles. Don't pick at me for the small things.", "Give me some notice about what is important and what is not important".

If you can both see yourselves being able to compromise and meet your partners expectations to some degree- there may be hope. but if you know now that you will never be happy with her and she cannot change enough for you to feel happy, then you should move on.

I think it's awesome that you are actually taking a hard look at this. It doesn't do anyone any favors to rush in to marriage and/or kids.

Good luck! 

One last point- How would you feel about her marrying someone else and having someone else's children? I've always agreed with that saying- better to marry someone you can't live without, than someone you can live with.

So I went to my therapist

So I went to my therapist yesterday, and was diagnosed with depression. So in a matter of two years it has gone from anxiety to depression. It was recommended that I start taking anti-depressants. My ADHD significant other was upset when I told her. She said "I told you that you needed medicine months ago, but you didn't listen to me." 

Things are beginning to make a little more sense. I am pretty much sad about everything, and I don't tend to care about much. My relationship has the same affect on me. It's just gotten hard to care. I just really want to stay at home and not do much. This hurts my SO because she sees how disconnected I am.

It was hard on me trying to make things work with an ADHD partner. I'm afraid that it has now (along with other external stresses) taken a toll on me. I have gone from a happy, easy going person to a sad, angry person in a few years. I'm not sure how this will work out. I intend to take the medicine and I hope it helps. I'm still afraid that the damage in my relationship has already been done though. She sees this as me not wanting to try to make things better, but I feel so disconnected at this point, it really does seem hopeless.

I do know one thing though...a person with depression/anxiety and a person with ADHD is a volitile combination.

hang in there.

Depression is a tough and confusing foe. I have been there. Good for you for getting the diagnosis and giving the meds a shot.

As for all your commentary about your ADHD partner- I have to say that depression clouds the issue. Depressed people don't see things so clearly.

Also- it is too simple to blame your ADHD partner for causing your depression. It may well be that you two are having a rough time and the ADHD is exacerbating that hard time, but that can't be the sole cause. In general- people are responsible for their own happiness. Your partner can't make you whole. You need many pieces of the puzzle- friends, family, hobbies, fulfilling work, recreation... to feel happy.

My suggestion is to stop turning this issue about your relationship over in your mind for the short term. Also- drop the marriage talk. You need to feel better-  in order to see things clearly and come to good decisions about what you are doing. Start exercising, reconnect with friends, read some books, go really easy on yourself... Focus on feeling better.

Once you are in a better head space, you can turn back to this and determine whether this relationship is too difficult for you or whether you want to make it work... but if you are depressed, everything is going to look bleak and you are not necessarily going to able to think things through rationally.

Good luck! And hang in there. It CAN get better. I know this firsthand. Hugs to you.


The last comment was very insightful, but I was hoping there was an update. I, myself, am in an ADHD marriage and have had similar issues arise throughout.