Husband at end wits with wife failure to deal with her ADHD.

The ADHD Effect on Marriage is a perfect reflection of our marriage. As I read the book, it seems as though Melissa Orlov was looking at our marriage when she wrote the book. My wife is the ADHD spouse and she was diagnosed with ADHD for the last 12 years. The diagnosis came after having 4 psychiatrist and 2 cases of post partum cases. Also, we used 4 marriage counselors to help correct our marriage troubles. However, different counselors were used because she did not want to agree with the fact that her ADHD could not be used as an excuse to be unproductive. Sadly, for the most, part her treatments have not helped much.
The six signs are directly on point:
1. There is a seriously unbalanced distribution of responsibility in your household. I have picked up the slack while maintain my duties. I have work many days and come home from work to do most of the housework and cook supper for the children and myself while she was home all day. She has no responsibility while having all the rights and complains when I do not complete my choirs and her choirs correctly.
2. You hate to nag or be nagged, but it happens all the time. On many occasion, I have asked her to complete her choirs. Just asking causes her to be very angry and on the edge of be physically violate. This reckless behavior falls into other important areas of our lives as well. We are in a stalement.
3. You were the sun, moon and stars during courtship. Now you feel like chopped liver. When we were courting, she was mostly kind and living with occasions of mild confrontations. I just wrote off the confrontations as honest mis understandings. In good times she was very compassionate, supporting and a loving woman that I wanted to marry. And so I did.
4. No matter how hard you try, things never seem to change - except for the worse. Yes, there seems to be no way out. I have supported all her freely chosen goals. We have used our children college fund with her promising to pay it back and she funds her goals. She has not completed any of her goals and did not pay back the money resulting in our oldest child having to obtain loans to go to college.
5. You have a child diagnosed with, or suspected of having, ADHD. We have four beautiful children. Of the four, 3 have ADHD and one have autism as well. Two are doing well and the one with ADHD and Autism is struggling to function socially in school and general social environments.
6. One spouse feels as if the other is more like an extra child than a partner. Sadly, our relationship has become a parent/child relationship. She constantly states that I am not her father when I request that she complete her duties she willfully accepted and freely chosen goals.

These dominant patterns as per The ADHD Effect on Marriage book are very present in our marriage 2, 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12.

In summary, over 21 years-3 years dating and 18 years marriage- with my wife, she always had ADHD which was not diagnosed until six years into our relationship. Before and after diagnosis, she did not complete the four schools attended, got fired, layed off or had to quit 5 jobs, very confrontational relationship with me, our children, friends and business associates. In helping her to accomplish her goals, she has taken $80K from children college fund which she promised to pay back that have not happened.

Having been through these 21 years of struggles, I am exhausted mentally because there seems to have no answer to the problem and emotionally because I am stressed out, angry and resentful. In addition, socially, I am affected because we, as a family, cannot have family gatherings and friends do not want to come around because she antagonizes them. Physically, I suffered with ulcers, depression, and benign diagnosis of cancer and intense occasion of rage. Finally, spiritually I have almost come to not believing in God anymore! To cope with this stressful life, I went back to college and studied Religious Studies, Registered Nursing and Behavioral Science. I have earned an associate’s degree in each field and soon to earn a bachelor degree in Health, Safety and Environmental Science. Also, I volunteer as a coach at the local youth sports and high schools teams. Most effective of all is recovering my faith and working out. Professional counseling and talking to close friends helps tremendously.

With the above stated, I am at end wits with my wife failure to deal with her ADHD. I do not love her as a wife anymore however being educated about ADHD I am slightly open to try to have a positive relationship again. If she does not change, our marriage will come to an end. In the meantime, I just have enough strength to maintain my job, and to provide for our children. And the book and direction to proper help is the last hope.

nice to have male perspective.

Thanks for posting.  On another forum, a man said this website for male bashing, but it's really about ADHD marriage in general.  It's nice to have a male perspective - what it's like for man married to ADHD wife. 

I'm a woman with ex-fiance (man) with ADHD.  I can definitely identify with you about being with someone starting college/school only to quit, antagonizing people (mostly while driving), etc.  I also happen to have a female best friend from college who has ADHD, who's never been able to keep a boyfriend because of her flightiness - she's an actress, life of the party.   These types of people make everyone feel wonderful (during the hyperfocus stage-can last 1-2 years).  You don't realize until after you've invested too much time in the relationship.  People wonder why you got into in the first place, but they'd understand if they were the object of affection.

I hope you take care of yourself and don't worry about your wife too much.  It sounds like you've already done you're part, and she has to willing to do her part especially since she's already had a diagnosis.  (I work at a County Developmental Disabilities office.)  One of the intake coordinators loaned me out a book on ADHD and there are actually 6 types.  I wonder if your wife has one of the rarer types (because of her anger)-Ring of Fire ADHD-it's just seems rare for a woman to be that violent and anger unless she has a brain disorder.

But anyway, I feel your pain, and hope you take care of yourself.

Hoping you've found some relief

I hope by now your wife has gotten some help - and you some relief.  I am also a wife with ADHD.  I didn't realize for years what was wrong, until finally I went to a doctor after reading some books about ADHD.   I too am guilty of not reaching goals, breaking promises that I REALLY REALLY THOUGHT I'D KEEP..... but....  somehow it always blew up in my face and no matter how hard I tried at something I would always sabotage myself.

I don't spend money irresponsibly - I am aware of how little money we have.  But I am also aware of the fact that the reason we have very little money is because of my failure to earn enough.  My failure to earn enough is due to my failure to reach my full potential and therefore i've failed to acquire the skill-set needed to earn enough money for us to break even.  I DO take care of ALL the housework and cooking and am home with our 2 year old every day.  When I have work and my husband can't be home, I have to get a sitter, which makes it hard to have anything leftover from that shift of work.  Since getting medication in December though I have managed to be much more organized and figured out how to take the steps i need to take to get more business/make more money.  It's slow-going, but it's working.  Small steps.  very, very painful small steps.  but it's working.

I didnt' realize how unhappy my husband was.  He wouldn't tell me because he was worried i'd get offended and 'fall apart.'  Luckily for me, I realized that something was wrong since I was a child and happened upon some books at the library and it dawned on me that with some help i could 'fix' me.

Good luck to you!!!

I don't have the answer but I do have hope.

It was 5 months ago you posted this but this may still be helpful.

I resonated very much with your level of frustration and despair. Every relationship is different so I can't compare. We have been married 24 years, are both ADD and just to make it really interesting, we have been in business together for 23 years, co-teaching, authoring, recording and growing a school with 4 locations and over 800 students a year. Our experience is that working together as well as living together is like dog years: We have really been married about 161 years.

That being said, having both of us have ADD really adds to the challenge. Mine was so bad as a child that they tested to see if I was mentally retarded in second grade. I actually had a very high IQ so went through the rest of my education being accused of being lazy, not trying and any other threatening language that parents, teachers and school administrators thought would work. Because my ADD was not diagnosed but very limiting, I was forced to figure it out how to cope on my own. I learned that exercise, meditation, delegation and nutrition were vitally important and also to develop the coping skills (leaving things in front of the door that I would need the next day, using a PDA and phone synchronized to Outlook, limiting possessions to prevent clutter and being organized and systematic with keys, phones, and other things I needed).

My wife's ADD didn't really start becoming debilitating until adulthood and with the growth of the business. When we met she had her life set up with other people taking care of her daughter and other people doing things like cleaning, etc. for her. The basement of her house was stacked to the ceiling with stuff she didn't need and her paperwork was terrible, with checks mixed in with mail from 5 years before.

Since we were both ADD we had a drop of the face of the earth, nothing else was important romance that led to marriage. I remember clearly that the first time I saw her (she was presenting at a network marketing meeting at her house) the first thought that came into my mind was that she was creative, funny and really needed someone to look after her. I am very much a nurturer and that was the attraction. When her 7 year old daughter asked me to be her father it was pretty much no turning back. 4 months later we were married.

 Over time, nurturers get used up if they don't have a way to get restored. In this relationship, the clutter, lack of attention to the relationship, anger, blaming others, inability to listen and other impulse control issues have been very destructive. Where I have struggled to avoid and control these tendencies in myself, my wife has not. Now we have reached the point where I'm depleted and don't know how much longer I can hang in there. 

However, today I came across this site and the book by Melissa Orlov and I at least have hope that my wife may be willing to try and make a change. When we are good we are great and when we are bad we are terrible. I know that she is amazing and if we can overcome the obstacles and find a way to make things work, life will be rich and happy. I know that if we fail, we will be okay. But I also believe that if we can make this work together, we will each reach much higher levels emotionally, spiritually and intellectually than if we are separate.

So I urge you to think back to what you loved about your spouse in the beginning and remember all of their good points. Focus on that when you tell them that you would like them to address the problems. Make sure they know that you love them and want to succeed with them. Take them for daily walks, hiking, dancing, skiing, sex or other physical activities. Make sure there is enough protein in the diet and they are getting enough sleep. Buy them massages or even better, polarity therapy sessions. And keep up the connection. ADD people need to feel connected. They need to feel the love. We are very sensitive and insecure. Touch is vitally important. 

Good luck to everyone who loves an ADD person. They do have great qualities but they have to be willing to work on their condition.

Hope is overrated

Really trying

I have gave up hope on our marriage.  I have considered suicide on many occasions but after looking at my young son I decided to go to therapy where I have received little help. I still am not out of the woods though with suicide.  I have lost hope in everything.  20 years of being in a relationship with my ADHD wife and her denial and going to several different therapist in this website, i have lost hope with all therapist because they have not helped. Basically, I have 2 decisions Divorcing my wife or suicide.  The first will most likely happen. I hope.  

First, you need help for

First, you need help for depression. You may need to take something until you see a light at the end of the tunnel. Then you need to dig yourself out. Only you can make yourself happy and only you can figure out what that would be. If it means you will be a divorced dad, then that is what it will be. Divorced people can find happiness and sanity. Married people can too. Only you know what you are capable of and you need to give yourself permission to be happy. I am glad to hear you wont hurt your son by taking your own life. That would be a tough lesson for him to learn. I am sure he would rather you be divorced and "here" than miserable and suicidal. Stick around. We are all here for you.


Time for you to take care of yourself first.  Forget about the ADHD, forget about "saving" your marriage.  When you are contemplating suicide, even peripherally, the MOST important thing, bar none, is that you seek and get the help you need.  Your son needs you.  You need you.  Depression is notoriously difficult to work with for a therapist...and is also a risk factor for divorce.  So focus on YOU.  What do YOU need to be happier?  Who can help you?  With whom can you connect to improve your daily life?

Taking care of me

Basically, after twenty years of scarifice in this ADHD relationship with my "wife", I do not know how to do that ( find myself ) anymore and if i did my "wife" would antagonize me to no end. The things that made me happy no longer make me happy.  I do not even go to church anymore!!!!! And I do not trust therapist either after 20 years of going to several therapist none have help including this site which was my last hope. 

Melissa Orlov you just do not realize the magnitude of this situation!!  With my adhd wife I am always at fault in her mind and she becomes very destructive to the family when someone states she have a serious problem!!

Divorce is my only way out!!!  I did my duty to her as a husband.  After the divorce, maybe I will be able to find myself, if I do not kill myself first.

Perhaps You Miss My Point

Your comment is about how your wife will respond if you do things, suggesting that you are deeply entwined with HER, not yourself.  It's easy to lose yourself and become lost.  I was also this way for a while.  In fact, I was at such a loss as to what I could do to make my situation better that I used to fantasize that maybe my husband would just get hit by a bus one day.  I could grieve and move on...  That's pretty lost!  (Also, my doctor diagnosed me as clinically depressed, which I suspect you are, too.  PLEASE go talk with your doctor about this!!)  Anyway, my point is this - STOP worrying about how your wife will respond or anticipating that she might antagonize you.  Okay, maybe she will.  At which point, you do what you have been saying you are going to do, anyway, which is walk out.  Right now you are letting her behavior control you, and you deserve better than that - be your own boss.

The kernel of your next step may be contained in your email.  Start going to church again (don't take your wife).  Reconnecting with your church community will feel good, and prayer (for those who pray) often is a source of strength and inspiration.  Don't worry if people ask you why your wife isn't there with you.  Just tell them that you wished to be there and are happy to see them again.  AND, don't forget to make that appointment with your doctor - RIGHT NOW!  There is help out there...

I have followed your Point

First I went to several Doctors and it did not help.  They all contradicted there suggested treatments.  I am on meds with no avail but continuing my education which bring peace more than the meds.  I can truly say my wife wake up every morning to antagonize me.  She realizes that school is my way to cope. Now, she is critizing me about going school yet she wants all the finanical and medical benefits that i have aquired from my education.

If i am so bad of a person, why do not she leave and go find the peace and happiness that she wants?  I am not leaving my home that I worked hard for to lose it in divorce court because of the lop-sided disposition that the court system have toward women regardless of whether they are right or wrong in marriage.

You quoted , " In fact, I was at such a loss as to what I could do to make my situation better that I used to fantasize that maybe my husband would just get hit by a bus one day." I pray everyday to God that he takes her to Heaven so that I can be at peace in my life.  I do not see this desire as being LOST! I believe even if we get a divorce, she will use our children and court system to antagonize me for the next 12 years at which our youngst child will be 18 years old.  Not only will it bring peace to me and our children, it will bring peace to her for which i beleive heaven to  be.  It is very hard for me to understand why God would let a person live with so much trouble within themselves and inflicting pain on others.  After using all known therapy to heal, her death got to be the only solution. 

I am Frustrated with no where to turn.  Why did I not see this when we were dating!!!!



Explanation of LOST

I say I was lost because no matter how hard it gets, I don't think it's right to wish death on another.  Rather, you take a different path - divorce, separation, staying married but living in different homes, etc. that isn't physically harmful to the other person.  You may deeply regret your marriage to your partner, and she may antagonize you at every possible point, but living with someone while wishing them dead illustrates very little self-worth.  I don't say this as criticism for, as I said before, I was there myself at one point.  But I urge you to get psychological help from a counselor.  There IS a way out of your situation what will put you in a better place than you are now - but you need some courage to find it.  Put another way, continuing to live in the situation in which you are living now is NOT what you worked so hard for.  You may have the trappings of a good life - house, good job, etc but if you remain so depressed as you are, then you will remain as unhappy as you are now.  Is that what you've worked so hard for?  Things over happiness?

You may blame your wife, but blame also rests with you.  She didn't force you to marry her, you made a decision which you now regret.  But it was your decision.  You have chosen to stay with her, in spite of your misery - again, your decision.  You are not a bad person, and your wife's staying with you (but bitching all the time, from what I gather) is her way of telling you so - but also telling you that she is either desperately unhappy or, perhaps, in need of counseling of some sort.  I suspect she has told you that she is unhappy - have you listened to her comments?  Considered them?

In any event, you mention divorce, as well as thinking of injuring yourself - PLEASE get professional help!


Yes, I have made a decision to marry her which was based on each other willing to work for the good of the other.  I have again done everything possible to help her to help herself! She went to 5 different psychiatrists, 5 different social workers, tons of meds to deal with her ADHD, several surgeries and supporting her in all of her career moves. She even stole 80K dollars from our kids colleges fund and wasted it.   She is attacking me for helping her!! I have fullfilled my end of the joint agreement- each other willing to work for the good of the other.  Where is her fidelity to the agreement?  I trusted her therefore no blame rest on me!  The only blame is me being faithful to our agreement while she continuously doing wrong. Yes, she is wrong because all possible treatment she have used and not follow, consciencely.  

No materials do not make me ultimately happy, however beening drained finanically trying to help her I have to take the above position- protecting my home.  If I do get a divorce, I wil be on the losing end financially.  I will lose 75%  of my income to her who is not doing the right thing and the remaining income will not allow me to living to provide for myself.  

" But I urge you to get psychological help from a counselor," Again, I have been to several counselors with no avail. This case is not a typical case yet all the counselors i have seen do not understand.  My wife have done horrible to me, people connected to me and businesses we do business with.  For example, she have physically attacked my family members yet she is mad because they do not come to our home.  Futhermore, I had a company function and brought her and even there she attack my coworkers and i almost lost my job. I am only scratching the sufaces with these examples.   And I am the blame!!!

Thanks for your help, and I had hope because your book seems to be on target but you do not understand this is not a typical case!! If you had to study this case, you would have to rewrite your book.  Communicating via message board does not do justice to my case either.  All my postings and replyies are real in other words not a prank.  I do not know where to go anymore!! 

And if I find a resolution to this unique case, I will let you know about it.



Behavior You Describe

Did she physically attack family and co-workers?  That would be really bizarre behavior, to say the least!

I don't know what to tell you.  You have seen a series of professionals, none of whom you say understands.  Why not, is the question?  I'm perfectly willing to believe this isn't a typical case, though at least some of the things you describe sound very "typical" - spending money she shouldn't have spent; being defensive or aggressive (in the face of hostility??? you don't say) - these aren't that unusual.  Having trouble holding a job is also common for someone with ADHD.

The real question is this - how do you protect your money/investment from her, if she is married to you?  She's perfectly capable of going out and getting a loan without your signature, and that would make you as her spouse, liable for her debt.  It seems as if you know this, but I would reiterate that you are not really very in control of her behavior or situation.  No matter HOW badly you want her to behave a certain way, she will do as she chooses.  Sometimes, the MORE a spouse wants a person with ADHD to behave a certain way, the more they rebel.

I'm sorry you're in the situation you are in.  It sounds horrible for you, and I'm sure it's also horrible for your wife (it can't be fun to live with someone who would rather have you die.)


No, hostility was present.  She just became agitated during normal conversations. 

Yes, i am aware of the financial responsibility of how my wife can negatively affect me. I am actively protecting myself from financial troubles based upon her behavior.  

My request for her behavior to change is based upon what we agreed upon from the beginning of our relationship. Agreement to help each other be all we can be by meeting our goals- which is based on love.

My praying for her demise is not known by her.  I have never verbalize it and i hope it never come to past but it is very difficulty not seeing it as an option when all else have failed. 

I do not know why the therapist to not understand my situation.  When I hear that statement from the therapist i feel like the most isolated and abandon person in the world. 

If only i can get others to walk in my shoes!!



Fueling her Resentment

Have you ever asked your wife when both of you are in a calm, non judgmental moment about her most important dream/goal?and  If she truly believes you have in some way either indirectly or directly sabotaged her goals? That feeling right there for a person with ADHD is intense enough to fuel vindictiveness for many many years to come. 

Fueling her Resentment

I have on several occasions ask my wife what here dreams were and she acknowledge them.  I supported her tremendously but she never completes what she starts.  After supporting her for 20 years and all her fail attempts, I had a enough.  As of yesterday I got up with my lawyer and filing for a divorce!