I can't BELIEVE I'm here...

My husband and I will soon have been married for 35 years. It's been difficult. The last 10 years have been very diffucult. Diagnosis after diagnosis: REM behavior sleep disorder--we sleep in separate rooms, him on a matress on the floor and under a cargo net to keep him safe after breaking bones during an episode; Hepatitis C, which he probably got from innoculations during the Vietnam war--he was drafted (The Hep C was treated and thankfully he is virus free after two years post treatment); let's see... severe depression, zero libido, ED, PTSD, PLM (periodic limb movement), sleep apnea, and now? It appears he has ADD. Really? How many more letters are there in the alphabet? ...

We are working with a very good counselor who two weeks ago spotted ADD behaviors in my husband and the relationship. Luckily, my husband is motivated to work on his issues. Me? I'm tired. Exhausted. Frustrated. Rejected. Hurt. Lonely. Sad. At 53, I feel I am at a breaking point: I fear arriving at the end of my life and wondering why I didn't go find someone who could be there for me and be a whole partner in love and life. But every day is a new day and I seem to find moments of hopefulness for our marriage.

I am listening very carefully in our counseling sessions and observing behaviors in myself that perpetuates the destruction of our relationship. Here are some things I am learning:

1. The most passive (passive-agressive) person in the relationship has the power. Contrary to what it seems. The least passive person is not able to get below the greater passivity of the other; it would drive us crazy before we could ever get that far down. Therefore, the most passive partner maintains control. He does his ADD thing, I nag, he gets passive, I get angry, I lose myself, I don't like me anymore. He wins. Well, he actually loses too, but you get my meaning.

2.  I am learning and trying to understand that when my ADD husband promises something, he really means it (most of the time) when he makes the promise. Then he forgets, loses track of time, gets involved in something else that distracts him from keeping the promise.

3.  I was heartened when the counselor instructed my husband that a promise/agreement to the other is like a vow in the marriage. The agreement or promise must be honored with the same committment. I am learning to recognize my feelings when they surface, those of frustration, hurt, sadness... I have to search through the habit of anger to find the emotion behind the anger.   

4. I am learning how to respond as his wife instead of like his mother when I feel frustration, hurt, sadness. I am learning to go to him in a soft and calm voice, one that does not have a blame/shame tone, one that I would use with a co-worker, and tell him, "I feel frustrated because you told me you would be ready when I got home at 5:00 and you aren't." Then I am quiet and allow him time to respond. This takes all the guts I have I tell you. It's hard. I want to rip into him with all the frustration of the past 35 years. But doing it the new way, instead of him feeling like a scolded boy who then gets defensive, he is able to remain the adult man he is and feel how he has let me down, which creates guilt for his actions (which the counselor says is good! eh-eh.)

5. From this site, the instructions from our counselor have been reinforced that my role is to be his romantic support that reinforces desired behaviors. This is very hard for me because the anger is RIGHT. THERE. I have practiced another way of reacting for so many yers that I am not entirely sure what the job description of romantic supporter is.

Well, I needed to vent and lick my wounds when I signed up on this board a few minutes ago, but I decided to try to be more positive and maybe share some things that might be helpful to others while reinforcing new ideas for myself.  Thanks for reading.