Many of us on this forum are here because we are at our wits end. I assume there are many spouses of ADDers out there who are NOT on this site who are able to negotiate, partner, support without fear of power imbalance and trust their ADD or ADHD partners. We are here because something is wrong with the partnership and we are at a loss about what it is and what to do about it. If our ADD partner is denying, fighting and isolating, we are being rejected and ignored as an equal partner in their lives.....in the life of our marriage.
I will give you the benefit of my counseling sessions as I work though this currently with a counselor who seems to be right on target with me.
I have been acting somewhat like a child my entire life. Even though I talk professionally, work hard, am responsible, love others. My parents are dead but I am still trying to please their voices in my head, old culture directives, my husband, my sisters, any institution with authority, the Bible, teachers, all "experts". I am still trying to find out (self help books and this site) how to be a good girl and do things correctly and by the rules for the benefit of everyone else. I was taught that is what I SHOULD do....behave, work hard, not complain.
I get to grow up now. The counselor said you would be surprised how many women my age are similarly going through this after a life in small town, religious, Midwest upbringing. I would be someone without a backbone no matter who I was with.....just tell me what to do for you and I will obey you. My parents did not model how to be a grown up with a strong voice and backbone and assertiveness to navigate in an adult world. They did not ALLOW me to have an adult voice. My mode of navigating my family was to soothe, take care of other's feelings, do the work and not make any waves or trouble....someone my mother could be proud of. I am now paying the price of my parents' inability to show me how to be an adult equal and work out boundaries and rules for OTHER people to be in my life.
I got the message that having fun was foolish. This is likely what attracted me to my dh. He was fun and funny and did not play by the rules. I wanted him to be by my side to fight my battles for me....because I was not allowed to fight (or even to disagree). I was "nice".
I get to spend time learning about assertiveness and having a voice and a backbone. With many of us, it is not the ADD but it is a partnership with unequalness. We must stop being children and crying and complaining and start learning how to give ourselves a voice with power. Believe me, this is not something that will come easy for me...I have a trigger that does not allow me to be "selfish" and having power makes me feel selfish and wrong....just what i was taught NOT to be. But I must for my children's sakes, learn and model how to be a grown up.
Assertiveness is based on balance. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs while still considering the rights, needs, and wants of others. When you are assertive, you ask for what you want but you don't necessarily get it.
Aggressive behavior is based on winning. It requires that you do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings or desires of others. When you are aggressive, you take what you want regardless, and you don't usually ask.
This is a difference between dh and me. Even more than the ADD, his method of operation is to be aggressive. This is not ok. I will learn how to respond to agression...not run away from it but stand up to it like a strong adult.