Husband seeking advice from ADD Spouses

Hello, this is my first post, and I am new to the concept of ADD and its impact on our family. My wife (of 14 years) has very recently been diagnosed with ADD Inattentive type - though she does not accept it openly (I believe in her heart she knows it to be true). For me this was a revelation. I asked the ADD specialist who diagnosed my wife, to recommend books to help me understand the condition. My goal, to be better able to deal with the impact ADD has on me, my two young boys, and to be able to support my wife and be the best husband I can possibly be. Needless to say, having this illness in our lives for 16 or so years, undiagnosed, unrecognized, has been a huge challenge. We just never understood our relationship issues and the ADD roller coaster had its way. Working with psychodynamic marriage counselors ..... well, I am sure many of you know just how problematic that can be when un-recognized ADD is present (inattentive type). Needless to say, today, after a few months of veracious reading, at least now I understand the impact of ADD, my role, my wife's role, and I have the tools to start to heal. A lot of pain, but ready to forgive and fully prepared to take on the long road to healing ahead...... definitely starting with taking care of me so I can be the best for my family. All this said, the purpose of this posting is to ask female ADD spouses for you advice, if you are willing to share with me and others in this forum, as to what was it that your husbands did (or did not do) that helped you address your ADD and ultimately helped pave the way to a more loving and intimate relationship with him. I do appreciate every relationship is different and each carries its unique dynamics, however, I am interested in what worked for you. Melissa's book was wonderful, however, I figure getting your all input as well can only help me (us) obtain more love and intimacy in our marriage. Thank you all in advance for any feedback. Best wishes, CG.


First, it's great that you've come here and that your reading about ADD and that you're working to help your wife and relationship. That's huge in itself.

My husband didn't think I was ADD - he was one of those people who figured ADD was some pop-psychology thing that was made up. He believed me to be ambitionless, selfish, lazy, etc. etc. The breaking point came when we moved to a huge city, and life got crazy and impossible really fast. He is an untenured University professor and I am a musician and a teacher.This means we are poor. Very poor. In a city where everything is insanely expensive. There was huge pressure for me to get a job, and when I failed to do so he became angrier and angrier and more stressed. I had a one year old and a 3 year old at the time. the one year old was with me 24/7 and 3 year old was enrolled in a preschool we couldn't afford. We'd signed a contract, so we couldn't take her out when the money disappeared. We borrowed money (a LOT of money) from my parents  and i've been scrounging ever since to pick up any kind of work I can. I was having anxiety attacks and pretty much couldn't function and decided that after a year or two of suspecting I had ADHD that I would finally try to get meds/help.

Things are not perfect, but my husband realizes now that there really is something neurologically wrong with me, not psychologically, and to an extent he is empathetic. He won't read Melissa's book - although he said he tried, but got to angry. We still have no intimacy at all, but we are no longer at each other's throats and I most of the time I don't feel like I'm in some kind of emotional prison. We are still living paycheck to paycheck and occasionally have to take a handout from my parents (which at 42 is humiliating) but... it's better than it was.

The trouble with the medication (besides the physical side effects) is that it is easy to take on too much once you start to succeed at something. Also, it takes a while to find the right kind of medication and the right dosage. Also, there is a lot of shame that goes along with being reliant on a controlled substance: Every month you have to go through the humiliation of getting your pills, often with lots of people standing around and you never know if they'll be out of what you need, or tell you your insurance won't cover it because of some glitch or whatever.  At the moment I am without meds because last week we went to another country to visit my husband's family and forgot that my appointment was wednesday. I didn't get the reminder phone call and subsequent messages because my husband insists we keep our phones off to avoid any possibility of getting 'roaming' charges. I can't get an appointment for another month, and I can't get a prescription until I've seen my doctor again. So for the first time since I started Adderall two years ago, I will be un-medicated for a month. I'm kind of terrified. But... that'll be another post.

Good luck and please try to be as understanding as possible. Be willing to talk to your wife. Any time I ask my husband if we can sit down and talk he acts as though it is a huge annoyance. I can't tell you how hurtful it is... especially since what he will do instead is play with his iPad or watch TV.

Well - gotta run. I know I should not be on the computer right now, even though my drug-free brain is saying... "ooooh, let's look up X, Y & Z!!!"


ADD wife..remorseful...too late..spouse doesn't recognize impact

I'm the ADD spouse in our marriage.  My husband and I were madly in love when we got married a few years ago.  I'm still insanely in love with him.  But after we got married, my life spun out of control with multiple unexpected life events.  Health, financial, children.  I'd never before had to be in a relationship where I had to communicate, be respectful, responsible and accountable to another person on such an intimate basis.  (My first marriage was a disaster and my spouse was gone for so much that a relationship was never truly formed.  We married quickly with no regard to learning about each other.)  So my second marriage was my FIRST real relationship with the very real stresses of marriage and all that goes with it.  I totally lost my sense of bearing in life.  I did not know I had ADD.  I simply thought I was losing my mind.  Forgetting the simplest things.  Feeling humiliated because I would forget a very important task but have absolutely no decent explanation for why.  Forgetting to pay the car payment and KNOWING I was supposed to, marked it down but never did it... and just NO GOOD EXPLANATION for it.  

The combination of life events AND a real relationship sent me into a downward spiral.  I began to let go of my dreams, hopes and goals.  I started to 'settle' for a mediocre life.  I just couldn't understand how a once successful woman (I ran a six figure business, am a mom and more) would suddenly start to just get stupid.  I remember getting up in the morning and not having a clue what to do first.  My husband felt like he'd been tricked.  He thought he married an independent motivated woman.  

Because of my fears that I was just getting 'dumber' and 'dumber' by the day, I even wrote him a long letter explaining how I had changed my whole outlook on life.  I wanted to be someone else with less goals.  I wanted to forget about a career and just be a mom.  (nothing wrong with that by the way, but if you wanted a career AND to be a mom and to be a successful entrepreneur and then changed that mindset for no apparent reason....well it was a shock for him to hear me say that)  Those things werent true.  I didn't want to give up my goals and dreams.  I was too embarrassed to admit I couldn't figure out how to get back on track.  

I simply couldn't offer an explanation for why I was becoming more and more of a space cadet.  I couldn't tell him, "Hey, I'm pretty sure I'm mentally retarded and I don't know how I got this way."   Actually, I tried a version of it that basically said I wasn't this way til I married HIM.  (yeah, that was REALLY one of my most stupid moments).  

Truth is, I've had ADD all my life.  It's been fun and goofy and one of the biggest reasons I was always so excited about life and changes and moving forward.  I just never had to respect someone else as a life partner whom I lived with.  Growing up, I'm almost 100% certain my mother was ADD too.  So, haphazard living ran in the family.  I didn't discover mine until I was researching my son's learning disability.  I was so ticked to find that people had been recording MY life.... (yeah, the typical ADD'er...)

When I finally fell in love FOR REAL and married a man so amazing that I still think of him just the way I did when I met him - well - I had no clue about real respect, communication and living with a husband.  Sure, I got the sex, the flirting and just having fun part down.  Great conversation once upon a time.  But gradually, after he became more and more frustrated with me, his speech began to involve little put downs.  His opinion of how I managed my finances became more negative.  I began not only to feel stupid, but the stresses added to it, wore me out mentally.  I began to be super defensive.  EVERYTHING set me off.  I began to use cuss words in our fights.  Prior to that, it was rare to hear a bad word out of me.  I began to act like the person I was mentally believing myself to be: a quitter.  a failure.  low self esteem.     So, I would yell, accuse and call ugly names.  The girl who never cussed can now insert the F word twice in one sentence and 6 times in  2 minute argument.

Less than a year ago, I was diagnosed with 'very powerful ADD.'  Anger, relief, grieving, ready to move forward.  But I didn't get counseling.  Just medication.  I told myself I didn't need counseling.  ha!  My angry outbursts continued. I would stay up all night trying to 'fix our relationship' but never made the move to seek therapy.  I guess I thought it would fix itself.

We've been married three years as of last month.  My husband asked me for a separation this past week.  He said he will no longer take my abuse.  He still loves me.  But he can't take it anymore. I'm an emotional basket case and too late, i'm in therapy now.  

My advice:  Let your wife know she is valued.  That she is smart.  That you believe in her and KNOW that she is more than just the symptoms or frustrations of ADD/ADHD.   Encourage her very tactfully and gently to get counseling for herself.  Do it now before both of you start a vicious cycle that spirals.   Its so important that her self worth is kept in place.  When you have your confidence, you feel more beautiful inside.  

I'm working on getting mine back.  I'm making changes.  It's probably too late.  I want so badly to work through this with my husband.  But he's just done.  I tell him ADD kicked his butt.  He doesn't believe its ADD and says its just my issue.  

So... there isn't anyplace to go but up once you've hit the bottom.  Unfortunately, you often have to make the climb back up without the one you treasured the most.    Team up with your wife and make sure she knows you BELIEVE in her and go forward together.


Hi Still Me

Hi Still Me, thanks so much for getting back to me on my post, sorry it has been a while for me to reply. I do hope you have got your Man back. Honestly, I can't imagine him not responding to your discovery of the fact that you had undiagnosed ADD. If he were only to read Melissa's book perhaps he would understand that you are not your behavour here. ADD is awful but if you are aware you have it and are willing to treat it then I would hope he would give your relationship another chance. My wife and I are still struggling along, her symptoms mean that she gets really worked up about things and as a result gets overwhelmed and then creates conflict with me. I have got very good at not getting hooked anymore and so she will escalate to try to blow off steam at me. So this is all very well, however, it means she constantly looks to me as the problem and as a result our relationship suffers. I do appreciate your advice and I do share with her all the things you suggest, hopefully they will sink in and from that she will feel the comfort and safety of knowing that she is valued, cared for, respected and loved. I am scared though, because every time I share this with her I know it is just a matter of time before the next thing comes up that will get her ramped up and from there it is really easy for her to launch into me rahter than stay with her anxiety. Thanks again Still-Me - I so so appreciate you replying to my original test.