I am a 42 year old male diagnosed with ADD about 14 years ago. While I struggled during high school I graduated with a Masters degree in 1999. I currently work as a City Planner. I have been married to my 38 year old wife for 15 years. We have 2 boys ages 5 and 7. Our oldest son has also been diagnosed with ADD and I attend and participate in counseling with him when the therapist requests my involvement.
My wife and I are currently attending marriage counseling: our relationship has been gradually devolving for several years. About a month ago my wife, after 4 sessions into the counseling, expressed she was ready for a divorce. A week later she compounded my confusion by declaring she thinks she is gay. I am absolutely certain I do not want a divorce.
At the risk of this post rambling for far too long I will try to summarize the highlights/lowlights of our relationship:
- after my diagnosis my wife was elated because "I was n't a jerk," while I was devastated that I had a "mental illness." I did not seek professional help for a year, after which time I started a trial and error process for finding the right meds. I have been taking Vyvanse for about 3 years with satisfactory results.
- our relationship has been on a 6 month cycle for as long as I can remember... my wife has a meltdown about my weakness as a partner, lack of contribution to household chores, not dependable, and not participating in charting the family's future ... the terminology most apt is a parent-child dynamic. She has declared many times, "at some point I will be sick and tired of being sick and tired." Our sex life has suffered tremendously. We have only had sex twice in the last 3 years.
- 3 years ago I had a major anxiety attack/breakdown and was briefly hospitalized. I have been in individual counseling ever since and have added Cymbalta to my med regime. Very recently, I also started on Lorazepam since the divorce and sexuality topics have been front and center in our discussions.
- I experienced 2 bouts of unemployment about 4 years ago that caused a great deal of damage to our finances. Shortly after my hospitalization and while recuperating at home, I missed a payment on a credit card which we had transfered a large balance in order to take advantage of a zero interest rate offer: I handle the household finances. The interest rate jumped from 0 to 30% and the credit card company would not negotiate. I paid the $1200 monthly payments for about 6 months but the juggling of our finances was clearly not sustainable and we began investigating bankruptcy. I began working with an attorney who an attorney coworker referred us to. My wife asked me to handle the filing and I agreed but found myself paralyzed with fear of the process. After 2 years of procrastination and not paying credit card bills (on the advise of the attorney) I finally finalized all the materials for the bankruptcy when my wife hit me with the divorce bombshell. This may change our approach dramatically.
- After my wife told me she wanted a divorce I hit bottom. At the same time I have been really evaluating myself and have learned a great deal about myself. I realized I fell in love with my wife with gusto as an ADD individual will. I also held her up on a pedestal and was always more concerned with her feelings than my own. I now realize this contributed to our downward spiraling relationship. She has told me she felt I was distant, when in fact I loved her so desperately and was extremely fearful of her increasingly common rejection of my requests for affection both sexual and non-sexual.
- In spite of my worry over a potential divorce, I feel as if I have reawakened. I am frightened about my/our/our children's futures, but I feel excited about the future. I have affirmatively declared to my wife, our marriage counselor, and my individual counselor my intentions to work towards salvaging our marriage. With the help of our counselor I aspire to create space for both of us to evaluate our ourselves and our relationship and create an environment where we can have the best chance to safely rebuild a better future for us and our children.
I am not entirely convinced of the importance of my wife's assertions concerning her sexuality. While she claims she has sexual fantasies about woman "all the time," I have the sense she is using this as a way to create a barrier between us. My wife's parents divorced when she was 10. Her father was an alcoholic and a drug abuser: he has since died due to an overdose. My mother-in-law has not been supportive of my wife in the ways she needs (listening, comforting, support) ... she blames her for our marital problems. My mother-in-law supported three children as a single parent with help from her parents; this support came with significant strings and tied her financially to a very domineering father. My wife has shared with me her childhood memories of going to school hungry and the shame of unpaid school lunch bills. My wife has developed a very sophisticated set of self defense mechanisms to protect herself. I am trying to be cognizant I may be clinging to my desire to preserve the marriage, but I believe my wife has erected barriers between us to protect herself. Further, I believe her disclosure about her sexuality is intended to be the most insurmountable barrier imaginable: our relationship cannot possibly continue because she desires a sexual relationship with a woman. While I don't doubt my wife's assertion that she has sexual fantasies about women, I don't think this necessarily means she is exclusively gay. She has said she has always had these sort of feelings, but she never felt uncomfortable with the thoughts because it was just part of who she was. My wife intially pursued me in the early part of our relationship: I am relatively confident her assertions about her sexuality are overstated. My feelings have been strengthened on this issue in the following ways: as I feel better and more confident about myself and assert my feelings regarding our marriage, my wife has become less certain about her convictions concerning the divorce... she has expressed doubts and her feelings seem to change over the span of a few days.
In spite of my conviction about fighting for our marriage I struggle with the following issues:
- I am angry that my wife is willing to give up on me, our marriage, and the life we have built for our children. I feel she is opting for an easy way out, rather than doing the hard work of working through our issues to see if our relationship is worth saving.
- I am uncertain how I feel about my wife asking for a divorce. I am of two minds about this; I could interpret this as a rejection of me, as a statement that she no longer wants me or as her trying to protect herself from yet another disappointment.
- A small part of me struggles with my wife's sexuality in spite of my belief she is making more of this than is necessary. I love her and want to support her... if she insists she is gay then I want her to be happy, but that would mean supporting her and accepting divorce. I do not want to live in the unhappy situation we have been living in.
- I am worried about setting a bad example for our boys. On the one hand I have always told them, there is no problem we cannot resolve as family. On the other hand I don't want to be a poor role model and irrationally struggle with a failing marriage out of fear of loss or rejection.
My goal of avoiding rambling has failed. I would appreciate any feedback anyone may have and I thank those that take the time to read this.