I am the non-ADD spouse (husband). I’m in my early thirties and have been married to my wife for nearly 3 years. Prior to meeting her I had no real exposure to ADD/ADHD. She was diagnosed as a child and was medicated throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Also, she was medicated throughout the year that we dated and into our engagement. For the most part, she functions pretty well, but does a lot better when medicated. My mother-in-law is bipolar (doesn’t admit it) and has really bad bipolar cycling roughly twice a year. My father-in-law is a workaholic and exhibits extensive amounts of unhealthy codependent behavior. Her siblings along with her parents all feed on drama, share in unhealthy codependent behavior and embrace the victim role. My family background has some depression and I suffer from anxiety which I manage with medication, exercise and self-study on the topic. Although my family is not perfect, it is comes no where near the dysfunction of her family.
I have experienced the amazing feeling of dating someone with ADD where you are their entire world and all the focus is on you. Consequently, I have also experienced confusion and frustration as our relationship shifted into married life and that focus was shifted elsewhere. She stopped taking her medication and we didn’t communicate very well throughout the initial stages of our marriage. She was hiding her insecurities and ADD while I was mad and hurt by what I perceived was passive aggressiveness. I found this website and read through some articles which seemed to enlighten me a great deal as to how someone with ADD functions and what they deal with. Even though I did my best to learn about and discuss openly what she deals with she still would hold back. The only real positive and open discussion we have had was when I made her watch the documentary called ADD & Loving It?!. For once, her anxiety and apprehension about discussing her ADD dissipated, albeit very briefly. Even though I have learned a little bit better what she is dealing with I still find myself feeling neglected, frustrated when she doesn’t follow through with important things, angry that she is so hard to read outwardly and hurt when I feel that I am carrying more than my fair share of responsibilities. When we do discuss things, she exhibits only fight or flight behavior which results in her always being the victim (a behavior used by everyone in her family).
My wife is headstrong, stubborn and doesn’t like to be pushed into doing anything outside her comfort zone. Instead of making an effort to fight through the normal setbacks and disappointments of life, she has slipped into a depression she won’t acknowledge. She has difficulty establishing true bonds of friendship due to mistrust and issues she learned in the home. We no longer are social or double date with friends and she has become reclusive with the few friends she does have.
We recently got pregnant which was followed by a disappointing miscarriage. I mistakenly went ahead with her desire to get pregnant even though I knew the timing wasn’t right. I was not being honest with her or myself. The miscarriage has been difficult for us both but I knew the timing wasn’t right because we have a lot I think we need to work through before we bring a child into our lives. I realize there is a lot more going on here than just the ADD, but I am just so desperate for insight and help. As time has gone by, I have adapted and realigned many of my expectations for our marriage and future. Following the miscarriage, I have taken a lot of time for self-reflection and can see clearer that I need help personally. I think I have become codependent and have allowed her ADD to dictate far too much. As I have seen her unhappy, I have taken it upon myself to try to make her happy but have failed and I have beat myself up over this and I think that is why I have allowed much of this to occur. I have realized that I have been lulled into accepting the status quo in terms of our relationship and have pretended that it is okay, even though I am suffering a great deal privately. I have ordered Melissa Orlov’s book The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps so hopefully there is some insight waiting for me there. I admit that I was naïve by telling myself that some of the “small issues” would go away or get better with marriage or by having children. After re-reading what I have written, I am amazed and blown away… Who have I become??? This is not the life or marriage I had hoped for. I really need to get help. I am hoping there are others out there who can give some insight and perspective, in addition to some ideas on how to not be codependent with an ADD spouse. Where is the line between pushing them and letting them figure things out on there own? How do you decide when it is time to look at getting a divorce and move on with your life? I feel that I am left with no other option but to give her an ultimatum of going to counseling individually and as a couple, even though I know she will fight it. I know that I need to get healthy and am willing to do it even if she doesn’t agree to go.
- Hurting Husband