I am an ADHD wife... got any thoughts for me? My husband doesn't have any interest in learning about ADHD...

I have been married for 33 years. My ADHD was only diagnosed about 6 years ago. It explained a LOT of things to me and reduced my self-blame and 'beating myself over the head with a baseball bat' tremendously. I'd always thought I 'only needed self-discipline' (for better follow-through) and figured it had to be some sort of character flaw in me that had me so scattered. (actually I bought into the whole "dumb blonde" thinking before that was no longer PC, but that's another story)

He has consistently refused to learn anything about ADHD and is, in my opinion & observations, thinking it's just an excuse for not getting things done. He is very negative, judgmental, critical and conveys the attitude that "if only (people) would do things his way, things would be a lot better". He tends to seem 'disappointed in me' most of the time, for one reason or another.

He IS smart and his % of "being right" on any given topic is amazingly (and annoyingly) high. In the right mood, I can handle that by telling myself 'at least I was smart enough to marry an intelligent guy'. Other times it is terribly defeating because when he is 'right' that often, I am 'wrong' an equal number of times.   

Most of the posts and forums deal with situations where it is the husband who has ADHD and the wife who is dealing with his flaws and foibles. I need ideas on how to get my husband to know about and better deal with me, the woman, having ADHD. And I need to figure out what I can do in this situation. I am assertive and have little hesitation in letting him know my feelings and needs. He agrees to try harder but returns to same-old, same-old within days. Any ideas?

What are you doing to manage

What are you doing to manage your ADHD? Are you taking meds? Being coached in strategies to organize etc? Get him involved in what you are doing to help yourself adapt and see where he goes from there. Go to couples counseling. Definitely.

I am on meds; I have gotten

I am on meds; I have gotten coaching and have made many changes thanks to the new strategies I've learned. He will not get involved in any of it... it's "not his problem" (it's mine).

My heart really goes out to

My heart really goes out to you. I am in a similar situation myself. Plus my two children recently were diagnosed as ADHD. My son is obvious, because he is extremely hyperactive, but I really need him to understand that my daughter doesn't have to be bouncing off the walls to have the same thing. He seems to have NO interest in learning about it..I will be curious to see the replies for this question, because I feel the same way you do...

My $.02

I would say, for both of you, focus on being the person you would most like to be, especially now that you have a new framework for understanding how your brain works. Try not to think too much about whether "he" gets it or not until you feel a bit more solid yourself. Learn as much as you can, and try out different ideas -- and Curls, you are also modelling for your kids how to navigate what Ned Hallowell calls the "Attention Surplus Disorder" world when you have a different way of being. (Probably if you are all 3 ADD, you can have some great silly times together, you and the kids -- being creative and goofy and quirky is part of the fun of ADD. (Poor hubby, he will be outnumbered.) But also as you learn new ways to organize or manage tasks or whatever, you can be teaching your kids about making choices, learning how to be your best self. They're lucky to learn young!) RK, from the sounds of it, you and Mr Attention Surplus are in a bit of a rut, you're on the edge of counting who's "right" more often. Ugh! And it sounds like it will be really hard to define yourself on your own terms (it's really hard anyway) if he's offering opinions all the time. But figure out one area of your life where you'd like to carve a new path, and start there -- preferably one for you, and not for him -- explore what your medicated brain lets you do, and explore some of the strengths you have that might be a bit buried under the tally of all those times when you're "wrong." If you haven't found Sari Solden's books, I'd recommend them. Beware, also, that being diagnosed in mid-life somewhere is freeing and also (for me anyway) depressing at times, you get the explanations and the "aha!" moments, but then you also bump into a fair bit of regret about all the unfinished projects or unfulfilled potentials or impulsive decisions you can see behind you. That's part of why I say not to focus on teaching Mr Skeptic Hubby. You don't need to be trying to "prove" neuroscience to someone who wants to believe in Character Flaw, you'll have enough to work on yourself! Find supportive spaces -- friend, online forum, coach, etc -- and share your triumphs (and tribulations) in those places for now. good luck! lupin.

I know exactly what you mean

I've had ADHD my whole life, and I married a man who doesn't believe it exists and absolutely refuses to do research or read anything that has ADD/HD in the title. He thinks its just a way for me to excuse the fact I didn't get something done. He's always so negative about it and doesn't think I need help that I just need to get over it and deal with not being able to stay focused and if I grew up and matured I'd understand that he's right. So I know how you feel, and its difficult to try and get them to understand.

Do something for yourself

I have ADD and have had all my life, I am 48. Married with 3 Sons; The oldest has ADHD(hyper), my youngest has ADD(non-hyper).I do not understand the need to justify or to convince your hubby or anyone that you have it. Don't let him feed off your low self esteem. You need to focus on learning as much as you can and developing a plan to help yourself to reach your potential. You owe it to yourself! I control my ADD, it does not control me. It takes alot of work and I make mistakes but I never quit trying. I wish you the best.


Husband that doesn't want to understand ADD in his wife

I am a 48 year old wife, with 3 children.  My husband comes from a family of high anxiety, germaphobes, that have everything in its place.  Also, my husband is somewhat self-centered, is a business owner, and sees his family everyday (they have businesses, too, and eat together 6 days aweek - we live in a small town). He would be extremely happy if everything was white glove at our house, perfect at times for anyone to drop in, all documents were paid and filed on time, laundry done, ironed, etc. and I was never late for anything.  Basically, he feels his home is his sanctuary and he should be able to come home late in the evening and relax without any messes.  Unfortunatley, I didn't realize he was this way when I married him and I didn't know I was ADD until in my forties.  We have been married 23 years. One son and our daughter has it, too, and all of my nieces and nephews. The degrading, belittlement, etc. I hear from my husband is getting more than I can bear. Even with all the family history, he is condescending and doesn't feel he needs to live in "this chaos" all the time, and why don't I just get things organzed.  I have finally come to terms with me, and that I have problems, but I keep telling myself I'm a good person.  I think I would leave him, but my kids need me.  He treats them in sarcastic ways, too.  They show their frustrations to me, but when trying to share things with my husband about it, he doesn't believe he is wrong on anything.  I believe he also has something going on mentally.  His mother has problems with anxiety, depression, worriness, panic feels, etc, as does his oldest brother. His younger brother is very condescending, negative and ornery to his employees,family, etc. His sisters are the same, one is morbidly obese, while the others are not.  His dad is very sarcastic, too.  The enabling I'm done in 23 years in allowing my husband to convince me "I'm abnormal" has taken its toll.  I think I have fallen out of love with him due to so many things, like my continued frustration with my ADD, frequent sexual rejection from my husband, lack of emotional support and understanding, etc.  I have always been salaried full-time positions, bringing in over 100,000/yr, but nothing I do is ever good enough.  I rarely hear any positive comments, only negative from him. The non-verbals of my husband regarding the messiness and chaos of our home is very stressful and is much more common than the verbal ones.  I agree with him regarding how stressful it is to come into such a mess every day.  I keep trying, but it is such a slow process.  I was reduced to parttime last year and now resently laid off.  I still have a hard time getting motivated in the am and staying focused.  I take Vyvanse, 40 mg in am and 40 mg at 1:00 p.m.  I also take 20 mg of Lexapro.  My psychiatrist says I have obsessive thoughts when it comes to writing, organizing, cleaning, but not compulsive behaviors.  I feel like I'm a failed perfectionist and should live alone, but that is not an option.  I don't know what to do.  I would love to have an organize home for once as well as have a social life, finances under control, weight and appetite under control, etc. Love is a beautiful thing.  I I'm working on my feelings towards myself, but I have had so many resentful feelings over the years to my husband for not helping out and for how he does not fight fair, that I'm wondering if he doesn't also have some mental issues too.  There are not support groups in our area, but in the past month I have found the internet to be extremely helpful.  Can someone help me?  I want to feel I have my life in control, organized, loved like a woman, etc.  Thanks.

Non ADHD Husband here

My wife has ADHD and i don't get it either so do 2 of my kids. i have tried to learn but my problem is it never seems to be enough. the thing i don't get is i accept her for who she is and how she is but she can not do the same for me. I can be very negative and critical especially with my kids but even with her. But a lot of it comes from frustration that i have to handle and make this house hold work. and i am wrong for doing what i feel is best. It is hard to understand all the aspects of ADHD and i feel i get the bad end of the deal often because i do not meet her needs and understand her problems can i ask what about mine. ADHD is a family thing not just her own. It effects us all and since we can not communicate it makes it even harder. my point is for no ADHD male it does not go with are thinking and that is wrong but even with all the reading if both do not give a little it continues to be an issue and will never change. Your husband should learn but his understanding and preseption may still not be the result it thought it should be. that is where we are at and we are no further closer than the day we found out.

can't compensate for your spouse

critical  to moving ahead in your relationship will be getting your wife to understand just how severely her ADHD symptoms impact you.  This can be really hard (easier to deny then accept that you are hurting people you love).  But it is critical in your forward momentum.  Once she understands what the ADHD symptoms are doing she'll be more willing to accept the source of your anger.  In addition, she may be motivated to take charge and change things rather than risk the union.

For your part, you can help in this process by approaching her in a controlled, not angry way.  Insist that she hear your side, but understand that ANY time you move to "that tone of voice" you will have lost her attention.

If the original author is still around...

As the non-ADHD spouse, my observations and feelings could be relevant to you.  Since I am writing for "the other side", I will try to be as tactful and helpful as I can.  I know that this has been hard for both of you.  My exploring his side doesn't mean that his is the only side worth exploring!

ADHD has been a hidden contributor in decades of difficulty in your relationship.  A diagnosis is an explanation, but it becomes an excuse if not treated effectively.  You decades of shared frustration cannot simply be disregarded now that this major factor has been identified.  Knowing the cause doesn't make old and new frustrations any more tolerable... especially if they all look the same.

I suspect that he has to see improvement on your part before he could consider opening up.  You are working on it for your own sake and you are doing your best to mitigate the symptoms/consequences, right?  Even if he never opens up, any success you have fighting ADHD is yours.

You forcing him open by being assertive and "trying to get him to better deal with you" could appear to be yet another cycle of communication frustration between you two.  As your spouse, and as your non-ADHD spouse, he has had to put up with a lot over the years.  He has to see your success on his own before he can have any expectation or hope that it will be different this time.  Your success loses its significance if you point it out and expect some change on his part.

Admitting this to be my personal opinion...  Your statement about being right and wrong struck a nerve with me because of what I am experiencing with my wife.  What truly justifies something between life partners to be an epic battle of right and wrong?  I think we all set the bar way low.  Why keep score?  Maybe you're wrong more often because of ADHD and you have yet to accept it?  What's wrong with communication, observation and an open-minded exchange of differing viewpoints?  Do your personalities make for a spirited debate but your relationship (affected by ADHD) turn it into a frustrating mess?

BTW - Who really wins when it ends with "you're right, but you're still an @#%@%," even if not said aloud?

Maybe he wins more often because he picks his battles.  He has determined that he is right, that the fight is worth it, and has already formulated several arguments.  Doing the same may be tough for someone unsuccessfully fighting ADHD.  Maybe getting into these right/wrong frustrations tells him that nothing has changed and the ADHD diagnosis really is an excuse.

In my opinion, my wife is wrong more often because of her ADHD - and I don't judge her negatively for it.  It does cause fights.  When we discuss our differences of opinion, she cannot simultaneously listen and formulate her response.  This causes her to either miss what I am saying or rob her response of context and relevance.  We get frustrated and it often devolves into a fight.  I also let her be wrong and carry on... not because she has ADHD, but because she's a person that sometimes has to experience it for herself before she believes it.