Husband's Turn

Many on this site have asked for my husband's ideas and opinions.  What's it like to have a non-ADD wife?  How did you come to terms with what ADD symptoms affect your marriage?  George has agreed to answer your questions here...but to keep him from being on the hook forever, I'm asking that you send your questions now (respond to this post) and up until May 23.  Then we'll let him get back to his own life!


sapphyre's picture


Hi George I am the non-ADHD partner. I like to use a monthly whiteboard calendar to help us organise things, but my ADHD husband always ignores it and only looks at it if he's desperate (i.e. I'm not home to tell him someone's phone number or remind him about appointments). I'm wondering, could it be that there is too much information in my 2' x 2.5' calendar / noteboard, each day jam packed? Should I stick to a simpler calendar (maybe a week rather than a month), and maybe move phone numbers and to-do lists to another area? Thanks SapphyreYou know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. - The Doctor


Coming from someone who has ADHD, I would say a smaller calendar is better, if I see a large calendar or long list I just see a whole mess of things that I probably won't get accomplished. I have to keep it to 2 or 3 most important things and 2 "if I have time" items. That works better for me personally.I cant see 30 days of things to do, it freaks me out.


Yes, you may.  I have been a little busy lately with the "day job", but scan thru the comments at least once a day to weed out the spam from the approval queue, so I will see your question in a timely manner.  George

So you are the "enlightened" Add Husband.

George, the toughest part is the anger that my ADD husband tosses around. And then there are all those broken promises half done tasks...His risky sexual behavior. I read somewhere on this site that ADD folks will say what ever they need to to get out of a situation...My husband is such a moving target. He says he wants to do better but he disappointments. 16 years married counseling meds.... He has improved in some ways but the Anger and Arrogance (his go to stratergy) has never helped our progress yet he uses it... He can not admit fault. Not even with the children. By Biggest fear is by staying with him I am teaching my children that this is what marriage life looks like and they will chose the familiar over the healthy... I am so confused I am tired I am bitter. But I am ready to move out of this tormented life. Since I believe the only way our family can go on is for ME to complete change my expectations, I have tried, lowered my standard of what a clean house, yard should look like. I have tolerated later time tables and late fees for bills......But honestly I cannot believe doing this is healthy. I suppose it comes down to Me having to believe that He simply cannot deliver on being a healthy spouse...That confuses me because I see when it comes to things he values he get it times not in the most cost effective way but he manages to get His needs met. Is it unreasonable for me to think he is actually selfish? Behavior not even connected to ADD? Its had to know what causes what. DO you know of any ADD coaches in Athens Ga For add men?


I would not suggest that I have reached a state of enlightenment. However, I have learned a great deal about ADHD and how it affects those around me. I have suggested a three step approach to what you call "enlightenment" or awareness. First, you both have to understand the effects of ADHD (read Driven to Distraction or Deliver from Distraction). Second, understand that your ADHD has a significant impact on those around you, but most importantly on your spouse. Third, determine what steps you must take to mitigate the negative impacts on those around you. Most of us with ADHD have a high level understanding of ADHD. The Driven and Delivered books will provide an understanding of many of the other symptoms associated with ADHD that many do not directly attribute to ADHD, but nonetheless come hand-in-hand with ADHD. Many of those symptoms are brought to life in the discussions on this website. Those include all the symptoms you described. Most of us who have ADHD don't even realize that we have a negative impact on others, or that our symptoms contribute directly to this impact. Learn the symptoms. Anger is one that is particularly difficult to self-assess. Most ADHD'ers don't even realize they have outbreaks of anger, even when directly confronted. I learned it the hard way - working for a boss who had a particularly bad case of ADHD. His outbreaks of anger were spectacular, but he never realized he was doing it, and was totally oblivious to any negative impact he was having on those working for him. That finally made me more introspective and self-aware. Lastly, after we understand the why (the ADHD symptoms) and the what (the impact on others), we need to determine how we can fix it. Meds help many (but not all). But meds alone are not enough. They help make self-awareness and self-control possible, but not automatic. There is not enough time or space in this comment to fully reply to this, but the coping mechanisms have to be developed as any other habit, with lots of support and feedback. That feedback is difficult, especially if it comes from a spouse who is at the end of his/her rope in a relationship. From direct experience, ADHD'ers do not respond well to spousal negative emotional responses (how is that for a euphemism and understatement combined in one small sentence!!!). So the path back to a "normal" and joyous relationship is treacherous, fraught with pitfalls, but is possible. It takes both sides to make it work, and both sides have to be both self aware and aware of the others strengths and weaknesses (and symptoms). I believe you will find much of what you are looking for in Melissa's blog posts, as well as increasingly in the experiences and learnings described by other readers of this blog. There are success stories. There are failures. I firmly believe that which path we take is the one we choose, once we realize there are two paths, and we arm ourselves with the maps (learn about ADHD) and the equipment (meds, prescription and/or holistic/herbal) we need for the journey. As for the ADD coaches for ADHD men in Athens, I will defer to Melissa to provide some references. However, a coach will not help unless and until your spouse has internalized the three steps I describe above. Otherwise, it will be a game or required hurdle, not a solution. Really. Feel free to ***register*** so your comments post immediately, and respond or ask more questions here. There really is a path to happiness, as Melissa and I have found. George

By George, I think you've got it!!! Enlightenment

"I firmly believe that which path we take is the one we choose, once we realize there are two paths, and we arm ourselves with the maps (learn about ADHD) and the equipment (meds, prescription and/or holistic/herbal) we need for the journey." George, your reflections are on target, valuable and timely. Tomorrow we meet with a lawyer to discuss options.... Having the male of the species perspective, on this topic, is valuable indeed! You must know that you and Melissa give hope to so many of us who cling so to the possibility of attaining some variation of the marriage partnership you two seem to have build. I can only hope my husband chooses to join me on the path that benefits our whole family. Note, I did not say easy. I would so hang in and work my part of the plan, if he really bought into the realization that His ADD is really a tough dynamic to live in, and that he really could choose to modify his reactions. Depending on his decision I shall re read all the books again. If he is going to actively work through his ADD stuff, with the hope of saving this family unit, is it worth it to me to roll up my sleeves again and recommit to this marriage. Otherwise, I shall journey on without him and save the books for our children to read when they are older.. and dating. Again Thank you...Both

From the husband with ADHD

So, yeah... I'm a little disoriented most days. I need a list of things to do or nothing gets done. My wife just bit my head off for putting something in the wrong place and all I heard was an attack. I scanned through and found that article about non-ADD wives and how they try to cope with our 'inactivity'. It was a godsend. I reacted harshly and should have been more attentive in my response, but it seems to be a little too late. Anyway... to the point. I have a real problem on my hands. I've got the ADHD pretty bad and she was born without patience. When we were first together we were inseperable and had a great time. But now that more and more responsibilities have been pouring in, I've started to drop the ball and I don't think that she is understanding what I am going through, dispite her suggestions of getting on medication. So I have been, I've been taking Aderall for a month now, to no avail. I'm beginning to feel alittle down because she is agressive and takes the reins from me and does not hesitate to tell me how irresponsible I am. I know this is all frustration speaking, but it still gets to me. I have tried to express to her that the only way for me to be able to take care of things is to give me a little more time (actively, i.e. when setting up our new internet through satellite, I asked the teller all sorts of questions and my wife huffed and rolled her eyes at me saying I'm and idiot for taking too long). The only reason I need more time doing things is because I feel i need to be more thorough or I haven't done anything at all. I do alot of cleaning around the house and can do alot of dishes at a time, but she is obviously not impressed by my speed, or lack thereof. I have now been label'd as: Lazy. I have a hard time understanding that statement since I break a sweat when I sweep the floor or need to drink extra water when I do laundry. I'm active. I did, to me, alot of work. I'm not an idiot, I know she does the exact same thing but much faster. And maybe I'm OCD or something, cause to do the dishes is like surgery, I'm in there with prescision tools and magnifying glasses. We've tried lists, but we both lose them. Calandars don't stay on walls. Egg timers have saved my butt a few times. My PDA is too involving to conquer. I get easily offended. Medication is apparently not working appropriately. I can't remember what I ate yesterday. My wife hates that I am so scattered. I hate that my wife is so scheduled. I never get to make any desicions in the house because she feels I am incapable. All in all, I want to know how to help myself, which is the only end of this relationship I can. So, to sum it up: I have no attention span, poor time management and use the phrase, "I don't remember" alot. My wife has zero patience, tolerance or time for any of this. Any suggestions? -Joshua

Sounds a bit like me

Joshua.... this sounds a bit like me... I too have had a problem as you can see from some of my other posts with a "schedule" or doing things around the house for example. To sum it up.... I was placed on adderal. and have been on it for about 4 months now 20mgs. It is woriking wonders. Have you talked to your dr about your dose? Maybe up it a bit. I found a vast improvment on my time management and organizational skill once I was on it up to full 20mgs. That being said. Adderall and all meds don't have the same affect on everyone and it may not be for you, may need to try another one. I found that once on adderall ( i assume the same for all adhd meds) that I was able to focus more and think a bit clearer and able to plan out what I was going to do next or jus tthe plan of the day. I was able to start on house chore and finish before doing the next. Where as before I would think of 10 things that needed to be done and just get overwhelmed and not do any of it... this turned into a probelme with the wife as you could imagine. BUT with meds and counsoling, it has helped. A side not before I fortget, if it was just an expression forget it, but you mentioned need a drink of water doing the laundry, dry mouth is a side effect of adderall, just in case you didn't know, I didn'[t when i started taking it. As I stated above councoling is very helpful in dealing with ADHD, it maybe good if you haven't done it to start and do that to better understand yourself, I know that it has helped me greatly and am just now seeing that I am in fact chaning some of my ways. A very good book, is Driven to Distraction. I found a lot of info there as well as it pretty much describinh my whole life. I am in my 30's and just diagnosed about 4-5 months ago so I am still fairly new at this. It was something that i always thougth I had but never got it diagnosed unitll it casued a problem in my marriage. To that effect, I have been dealing with my "new self" or me since I have been on meds and counsling and it has been 4-5 months and am now just seeing a change or noticing it myself, ADHD is not something you can cure overnight, like i said it has been 4-5 months and i am now just noticing a change. My wife noticed it shortly after my meds as did I for somethings but my way of doing things or way I act/behave (not the right word) has taken 4-5 months to notice. I think that the Driven to distraction book would be very good for you to read and very helpful. I think that your wife might benift from it too, so she can see what you are going through or how your brain actually functions. We are wired differntly and process things a lot different then everyone else. I know first hand all about that. I think that if she understood how you worked it might give a her a bit more patience and less stress for you... Hope this helps any more questions just ask... take care...

jfd, I just wanted to

jfd, I just wanted to comment that I really take interest into understanding ADHD, as it makes things seem so much clearer as to why things in my relationship happened. I appreciate your willingness to express what you go through, because my partner doesn't say how things make him feel; nor does he explain how he is thinking so that I can make sense of why something is stressing him out. Its very difficult when I am trying to understand him better and he isn't cracking. I often think that maybe it could be difficult for him to even make those thoughts clear to me? I will say our relationship isn't in a very good place at the moment, alot of it has to do with the ADHD AND MY negative reactions to them. I have been working really hard to be more understanding towards him, but he doesn't seem to want to understand himself. He doesn't seem motivated to try to understand himself, is that because it seems like a huge task to take on? To me, I perceive it as he isn't willing to try because he doesn't see it as a problem, or he doesn't care. If he experienced a session of counseling with me, and saw that it is different than what his mind is thinking, and isn't as overwhelming as his mind may be perceiving it to be, could it be motivating? How can I encourage him? He seems to be able to be more accepting of things, when he can visually see the results. Example. I suggested that he create a budget to manage some of his finances. This sounded extremely complex to him, so I took it upon myself to show him what I was suggesting. He was able to visualize the way the budget organized things, and now he doesn't live without it. I'm sure you understand how he may be thinking about thinks, do you have any suggestions? Also, what made you realize how your behaviors/actions were impacting your relationship? Thanks for helping!

ADD Marriage

The focus of my ADD crisis is in my relationships with my family. I keep hearing that I fail to connect with my kids and wife, that "I'm in the room but not there," yet this is so difficult to overcome. I was diagnosed 5 months ago and titrated onto Straterra, took parenting classes and began seeing a counselor. Things have definitely changed for the better, but I was amazed to find myself recently doubting the whole diagnosis until my wife reiterated her frustrations and recent events. I read the "Top 7 complaints of non-ADD spouses" on ADDitude and realized again what my wife is really going through. An incredibly challenging part of ADD is that non-ADD'ers seem to observe the unusual behaviors 100 times as often as the ADD subject acknowledges them. Has your husband read Delivered from Distraction? I originally laughed aloud at the notion that someone could describe me so accurately. But, sadly, we need to be reminded frequently about specific examples that make living with our inattentive-selves so frustrating. The group sessions in Boston sound so promising, I wish I could attend one more locally. Just realizing that others are going through similar challenges gives me hope. I would strongly advise having your husband read that book or search ADDitude to help him understand that failing to realize there's a problem and making the same seemingly silly mistakes repeatedly are hallmarks of the condition. For both of your sakes, please hang in there. I'll keep you posted as my wife starts attending sessions together with me.

Hi Joshua, I'm sorry to hear

Hi Joshua, I'm sorry to hear that you have all of these frustrations going on in your life right now, but when I read your post, I relfected into my own relationship. I'm super organized and like things in order, and he isn't that way. I hope that in my rambling I can share some of my thoughts and experiences with you. I am probably the most impatient person in the world, its really bad, and my partner whom has ADHD, takes alot longer to do things than I do. It drives me crazy that he seems to take hours to do what would take me five minutes, and it boggles me. At the same time, it boggles him that I get things done so quickly, as if I'm taking some form of speed. We actually are able to laugh at each other now. What really caught my attention, is your discussion about cleaning the dishes. It kind of made me smile. This used to be a never ending frustration. He takes a good amount of time to do the dishes, and I well, can clean up an entire kitchen in five minutes. He is puzzled and amazed at the speed, and wishes that he was able to be as quick doing things because it will delay his entire day taking on a task, which to him, is huge. I get boggled at how easily he seems to get overwhelmed, but the more I read about ADHD and how the brain's thought process works in that condition, it made sense. I wondered why he often took so long, and he told me that he felt it was some form of OCD, and perfectionist behaviors. He said "I want to make sure I get it all." Meaning, he will go over a clean plate twelve times to make sure its clean, but he is this way with everything. He will go over and over and over whatever it is he is doing, to make sure its all done. Like you said, thorough. He has been on medication since December of last year, and it hasn't increased his speed in cleaning. My partner and I used to argue all the time over household tasks, and I picked up on a pattern. It was when we were trying to accomplish the same cleaning tasks at once! Since we both do things so differently, we seperated the tasks and do them at different times so we don't get in one another's way. I like that he is helpful granted the situation, so I am okay with what he takes on or doesn't. Any extra is just a bonus. He does the dishes and vaccuums everday, and will throw in a load of laundry here and there. I'll dry the laundry, fold it, clean the other parts of the house that need to be done, and clean both full bathrooms on the weekends. It seems to work out great. I have not been the perfect non-ADHD partner, but I did learn that I was once at one time acting as harshly as your wife is now. Has she ever taken a step back and think that maybe she just needs to be patient?? Does she have any anxiety issues? Control issues? I can say that for myself, the anxiety of wondering when and how something would get done would make me feel as if I was going to jump out of my skin. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have learned to be a little more patient and understanding. He also, will keep a clock around him when he is doing things in case he gets caught up in the moment and drifts away from the time he has worked on something. Has she taken any time to learn about ADHD and how your brain processes things? Believe me, I know how hard it is to be patient, but just as she wants you to improve certain aspects of your ADHD, she should give a little and learn to be patient with how you do things. Being a super duper organized paperwork freak of my own, that maybe when she has a set "to-do" list, its probably hard for her to break out of her own scheduled plans, and difficult to have to wait to check something off of that list. That is a form of OCD, at least I think it is. It probably makes her anxious, because I still get the same way. In my thoughts, she should be grateful that you are willing to help, and accept that you are willing to take 5 hours to clean the dishes if need be. In the end, all that should matter is that you did the task, and accomplished it; it shouldn't matter how you got it done; as long as it is done. If she can't appreciate that you are trying to help with the household tasks and you aren't doing a good enough job, than maybe she should to them all herself and not complain. I know for myself, it was alot easier to stop nagging, and appreciate the little things that he did to help me out. a great deal. In the end that little thing made a HUGE difference in helping from day to day.

No CLUE NO Concept of time.

I am a 42 with ADD. This is my husband complaint before I started to take Med. I had no concept of time. He would say you are to slow. When doing house work. Or any time . This hurt me very badly. When I started to take Med. I was able to calculate better the concept of Time. Before I had no clue of how much time would pass. When I started to take the med . I started to make cleaning fun by playing games with myself like setting the timer on my oven while I clean the kitchen . I give my self 15 minutes at a time . My husband would say what are you doing ? I would tell him . I want to see how much I can get done in 15 minutes and try to beat the clock. He loved the Idea. When he purchased me an Apple I pod touch for Christmas . I realized that it has a Timer on it and a stop watch. I carry it around in my back pocket while cleaning. I set it to 15 min. It becomes a race to me and I want to win. The med helps but it still takes effort to accomplish your goals in a timely manner . Just realize that people with ADD are clueless to time . My husband says now to me . You can stay focused longer then me. He can still multi task better then me. I hope this helps in any way to have insight in to ADD or ADHD. person. Thanks Clacius