I don't want my marriage to end, but understand

We're married more than 15 years. I was diagnosed ADHD 2 years ago, and accepted the diagnosis and meds. After a rough transition, My life has changed for the better in so many ways. My job went from shaky to great, I gave up alcohol, watch my sugar intake, exercise regularly, and always have done my fair share of house chores. It's not enough for my wife. She wants me to suddenly not be ADHD. She wants me to never again make a dumb comment. I'm supposed to become perfect.

I think our marriage is great, and we have great times together. The last few weeks have been wonderful. Yet tonight one little discussion went off the rails. I stayed calm, and tried to keep it from escalating. She wanted it to be monumental. 

I can't handle the burden of carrying her happiness, of it somehow being my responsibility. A few months ago, I told her in a loving way that she was free to leave me. I wouldn't hold it against her. She declined my offer. But it's just not working, and I wish I knew I was ADHD before I was married so I'd know to stay single. How do I end this? Should I end this? She loves me, but the constant pressure of having to be perfect is killing me. I should have stayed single. Yet I'm afraid to be alone.


Falling apart...

You have no idea how much your post made me feel...I wish more than anything that my husband would understand that I never wanted perfect. How can I when I so clearly have my imperfections too. I just want to be allowed to feel my frustrations too, openly, witbout fear of being accused of "tone", or that I am criticizing HIM. I dont lay claim that all my sadness is from him, but we should be able to talk about what bothers each of us, in a respectful way, and come to some happy compromise where we are both happy, even if we have to take turns. Im a wimp, I become crushed when he starts to accuse me of being not rational, or not speaking quickly enough, not getting "to the point" in his opinion. And my mannerisms annoy him as well, as just about everything I do now. I have said, "please be kind"... And he takes it as an accusation that I am saying our problems are all on him. I have tried to be "grown up", pleasant, unpleasant, upset, calm, every blessed thing I can think of... But you know what? I think he decided a while ago that I am the problem, he is moving on and his attempts at working it out were half hearted ones at best. Even when we were intimate. My self esteem is crushed. He just did not want to admit it. Nor did I. I loved/love him and our lives together. Our problems have been real but I always felt we should/could work it out because we are FAMILY. I viewed him as my partner (he rolls his eyes at that) my husband, my guy. I guess I have been a schmuck, and I am having a lot of difficulty dealing with this. I am struggling fo set up a safe boundary where I dont feel demeaned but he sees it as an attack. I just want to stop feeling like my heart is being continually ripped out of my chest. And to not feel so alone. Or hated (especially by him). Do I sound like I am dealing w each new punching bag develpment? Each time I try to approach him about the "kids", money, plans, needs, it becomes about how awful I am. And while I know he is suffering, its hard to feel bad because of his conviction is that it is because of my "manipulative and controlling ways". Sorry, this is venting at its finest, but I dont have anywhere else to go. How do I deal with all this? My kids, my heart, our financial safety, my future...its too much....

Feel you pain....never wrote on here before

Long story short, married almost 25 years (if we make it).  Am a medical professional and have long thought "something was just not right" with my husband.  Compulsive lying, cheating, unconnected, no drive.  FINALLY diagnosed ADHD May 2011.  Had been seeing Counselors on and off throughout marriage, but now after a long separation, he was told to "get help" or there was NO coming back.  At that point, he had been seeing a Psychologist for 5 months.  Alone, with children, with me, we all went, we all said the same thing, all he did was cry.  No real compassion, no real apologies, no real "light bulb moment" like "I need to get my act together or my life as I know it with my wife and kids is over"  Appointments were a drag, a waste.  they just BS'd about weeks happenings, but nothing was happening.  I found this website, and found out about Melissa and her upcoming seminar in Chautauqua, NY in late July.  Booked the conference, booked the hotel, we were going to make this marriage work.  The seminars (group therapy actually) were beyond fabulous.  The amount in the class was diverse enough to hear other stories, yet intimate enough to allow you to open up and be the focus of the particular conversation if you were willing.  I had read the book before attending, so I had some idea what to expect.  Husband started it, but just couldn't finish it before we left.  He opened up at class, told the truth (WOW) and seemed eager to make things change and work for the better.  Long ride home, not a word about the conference or anything.  Thought he was processing it or didn't want to 'rock the boat" on such a long car ride.  We got home...still nothing.  Never really did open up about it.

Anytime I approached that subject, or no, ANY subject all I get is the same frustrations you have.  Doesn't want to talk and work through anything, I'm just a nasty old bitc*, that is out to get him and make him miserable.  I too, have tried everything I can, but being human, one can only try/do so much.  One person alone DOES NOT make a marriage, and therefore one person alone CAN NOT fix the marriage.

As suggested by others, I let down all the walls, let down my defenses and chose to love again sometime in late September until mid October.  Things were great.  He was "hyperfocused", I was going out of my way to make it work.  Intimacy in FULL SWING.......doting.....Then, one day...just one day, something ticked him off and his anger came out at me again.  He started the silent treatment again, and I kept reminding him we need to communicate and we need to open up and we have something good here, but he never returned.  We have twins preparing for college and he could NOT be less involved. (nodded off at one of the open houses---denies it vehemently), has NO CLUE who applied where or when or anything.  Christmas is here, and he has no interest in the making lists checking them twice, shopping NOTHING.  I am all alone.  I am the grown up and I have two intelligent maturing children who will be going off to live their own lives, and I will still have this man/child at home, should I choose to.  I apologize to those of you with ADHD that feel that comment is an insult, but there are not many other ways to describe it.  Where in life are you given a partner that you spend your entire life with and he knows as much about you today as when he first met you, as he remembers nothing.  He cannot/will not take responsibility for anything, nor can he OWN that any of this is all him, nor does he seem to care.  At this writing, December 16th, he is virtually shut down.  There's NO conversation or communication (weather, what's for dinner is the extent)  We, the non-ADHD spouses are supposed to forgive and forget, and start over and not pick on them, and watch our tone and ENOUGH IS ENOUGH ALREADY.  I want a partner in this lifetime, that is why I married, or I would have chosen to be alone.  Will it EVER be about ME?  I will love him until the day I die, but I have lost "ME".  I am a shell of my former self as my self esteem is shot from being forgotten, second best, runner up, "the nasty bit*h" that's so mean to him.

I am sorry, I vented too.  I don't even know if what I said was a reply, or just getting it all out.  Glad I got to do that...I needed it.


You are not alone

Hello NJTWINMOM and lululove, I read your comments the other day and have been thinking of you both and wanted you to know you are not alone.  I have been married 26 years, although my husband left last year, and can relate to everything you have written, especially the parts, "Compulsive lying, cheating, unconnected, no drive" and he "has NO CLUE who applied where or when or anything".  That has been my entire life with my husband, no connection at all to me or our children.  It has driven me nuts and given me nothing but frustration!!  Lululove, you expressed it well when you said something to the effect of we should be able to express what we need without worrying about being attacked for how we are saying it and what we are saying.  It is a very sad situation for all of us but I know now that it is not us as we have been told for years, it is ADD!!  We have to remember this as our self esteem is low and our partners have not made us feel worthy of their love for many, many years.  NJTWINMOM you asked if it will ever be about you and I have to be honest and say no, I don't think it will.  If things in 25 years haven't improved, I believe it is very wishful thinking to think it will ever change.  That is hard to swallow, I know.  At some point, we have to come to that realization and move on as difficult as that is.  I have been alone now for 1 1/2 years and still not through the pain but it finally has gotten a little easier.  Sometimes I think to myself if he were home what would he be doing, not doing and saying and that is when I KNOW I would never go back to that life.  I just wish you both, and everyone else on this site, the best as we deal with what life is handing us right now.      

Thanks km

It was never "picture perfect" for us.  we met at 14 and 15.  We dated a few years, he moved away, I got my life together, went to school, took the EMT program as well and joined the First Aid Squad, and I was moving on with my life without him (oh teen love right...first love, oh the pains) but I survived.  THEN, for financial reasons, he moved back home (our home state).  HE sought ME out.  I loved him with every fiber of my being, and believed the old "if you love something set it free....if it comes back it's yours, if not it wasn't meant to be thing.  We dated a little, things got serious quickly (I was 22 he was 23) I told him if he just was back for fun and a good time to please go, as it took me a long time to heal over losing him initially.  He assured me that he was back for ME.  That after being away, I was the one, blah blah blah.  

Looking back it's all so clear, the little lies, followed by bigger lies, followed by infidelity..well you know the story.  By then we were married, and a few months into it I SOUGHT COUNSELING.  Thought something was wrong with me.  Why was I such a bitch?  a nag?, why was I uninterested in sexual intimacy?  Well because there was no connection.  He appeared to have one (during hyperfocus I now know)...but he was ALWAYS on the prowl, I just never seemed good enough...like he was waiting for something better to come along.  Well, somehow, through counseling and much determination on my part we made it to the 6 year mark.  A few months after that, I was pregnant....not one, but twins!!!  We were overjoyed.  The pregnancy went well, we were closer than ever.  He doted on me, was EVERYTHING, and I do mean EVERYTHING an expectant Father should be.  When they were born, he was in his glory.  He was the best father in the world until the 6-7-8 point when they start really pushing back and "testing the waters" then he didn't parent quite as well.  Would get into fights with them, while behaving "on THEIR LEVEL"...it wasn't easy, but we made it.

So about 9-10 years ago. (kids were 7-8, he was 39)  I begin to really notice the forgetfulness, the "spacey" , here, but not really HERE attitude.  Being in the medical profession, I immediately thought the worst, Early onset Alzheimers, dementia, brain tumor.  I though this because we had been through so many counselors, and all he ever said was how much he loved his family and how much he wanted us all to be together and happy.  Surely, health HAD to be the culprit.  He ignored me for years and years, not ever believing me, or acknowledging that HE could possibly have something wrong....The past 16 months or so, constant fighting, kids are at the end of the rope and miserable with him here, and  countless separations, where he was supposed to be "getting his shit together" but was relaxing at his Moms, taking evening walks on the beach, visiting dating sites, looking up Moms of classmates the kids knew from elementary school well HE GOT CAUGHT....the tears, the confessions, the professions of undying love and promises, promises, promises....he's been in the house off and on this past year.  I have tried like hell.  Made the condition of he must seek counseling,(started Jan 2011, was FINALLY DIAGNOSED WITH ADHD and started Wellbutrin in July) all the computer shit must stop, and he needed to be accountable for his actions.    Well, as you all know, that grew old very quickly.  Back to the forgetting, the fighting, the blaming ME that everything is so bad.  Sees his Psych once every six weeks IF I get all over him about it. He is so unattached to the kids it breaks my heart.  They are 17.  They will be leaving for college in 8 short months, and they are so disconnected and fed up with him, it makes me ache.

Today, another  MAJOR meltdown on his part. I asked him to please go back to his Mothers AGAIN. Told me off, how horrible I AM, ALL my fault...the usual. He was ready to call the police on ME and even have ME removed from the house. YET, next breath he doesn't know why he does this, I'm wonderful blah blah blah.  ADHD is a brutal, brutal condition.  If you have a medical illness you deal with it.  Everyone jumps on board to help, everyone understands, you ACT QUICKLY, follow doctors orders, you want to get better and to LIVE.  It seems he just does NOT have the motivation/drive to want to grow up and be the best he can be, just wanting to remain the perpetual teenager, going with the flow.

I agree, he will not/cannot/does not want to or have the ability to change.  I have been faithful and above and beyond in my trying to get help for him when I first started to suspect things were wrong, but I was ignored/poo-pooed/put off.  Even his own Mother saw the changes and how bad he was getting (the memory/the ANGER) and right away since nothing mentally could be wrong with any of her children, she said it was the chemicals at his job.  Yes, of course that was a mild consideration, but this had been going on alot longer than when he started there.

I think I just want to know that "for better or worse, in sickness and in health"  is a vow that you sometimes HAVE to just have to stop taking so seriously.  SO SERIOUSLY, that you are ruining your OWN LIFE, as well as your health.  I haven't reached that point of acceptance YET, and I don't know why.  Why is it so hard to walk away from HELL?  From a man who puts his needs/wants/desires before yours always?  Who has never been a true "partner" or "co-parent"?  Why can't I just RUN LIKE HELL?  Help me with THAT ONE....please????

Sure. Because you love him.

Sure. Because you love him. Because you have an emotional tie to him since you were young (similar to me). Because maybe you have guilt having been in the medical field and you did not "catch" this but did not and reacted instead to the "crazymaking" aspects of adhd (like me). Because you can see the difference between the man and the behavior of what seems to be rooted in the underlying neurobiological disorder. Because you are afraid and thought that when you committed to this man with everything in your heart it was for keeps..for better for worse- and you trusted him that he would try as hard as you for a happy life together. Because he still feels like FAMILY. Because you still want validation and acceptance to see your value and worth as you see his (yeah maybe to codependent levels?)? But a word of caution... There may also be other factors at play which is making this worse: what people call mid life crises. If your husband is turning 50, he may see his road stretched out before him in two directions. And the "pull" towardsthe seemingly easier and more fun/liberating side is compelling. And if I am wrong on any of these points, forgive me since I am stating only what I feel...

Don't apologize at all.

First of all, I have no guilt AT ALL.  I have told him for so many, many years something was very wrong with HIM...with US...We went to so many counselors, separate, together, etc.  I had him speak with our GP about these issues approx 8 years prior to the diagnosis of 2011 which he finally accepted.  The GP at that time willingly gave him Strattera.  he took it a week or two, said it made him fell jittery and hot and miserable.  Discontinued it without even talking to the doctor about titrating the dose or tapering off.  Surely he didn't have ADHD if ADHD medicine didn't help, right?

As far as the middle age crisis thing, I have to laugh.  I have added that into our conversations MANY times as of late.  He admits to small things which lead me to believe that may be a teensy part of the problem, but 99% of the issues and problems have been since he was 25 and just getting worse, so I feel it's non-contributory, this is JUST HIM :(

I'm starting to believe I am co-dependant.  Why on Earth would I still be able to hold on, after all he has done to me....to us?  

It's tragic.  His sister's husband left her blindsided a few months before their 25th wedding anniversary.  That was 10-12 years ago.  I ALWAYS felt that was sooooo tragic.  Giving all those years...for nothing...then BOOM it's just over.....now, 4-4-12 will be our 25th....and I'm feeling the BOOM :(

Right now, I am still handling my late Moms estate.  I am single-handedly getting paperwork, applications and everything else done for not one, but two kids who are headed off to college, upon their graduation in June.  I also need to be job hunting a little harder than I have been.  I think that once I can focus more on ME, and I am working full time again, I will be able to cut the cord.  At least that's what I am telling myself.

Side note, we went out to dinner and he made NO ATTEMPT at conversation  AT ALL.  Checked out the Restaurant Manager (my daughters boss) more times than I can count, and just "wasn't there".  I gave him the time to get his shit together and he just can't/won't.  I NEED, for ME to realize this and as soon as the time is right, to move along.  The thought of him loving and being with someone else one day wretches at my gut more than you know.  I will never, ever, ever be OK with that.  We married and made vows.  That's the part i just can't deal with and please, don't recommend speaking with clergy.  That would NOT be of any help :(

Thanks to you, and anyone else who listens and replies.  H*U*G*S to all of us as we go through this thing called life.............


I just read your post and it breaks my heart.  I know exactly what you are feeling right now.  My son who was also diagnosed with ADD last year just came home from a new job working at a skate shop (his dream job) and he is in tears right now because he is struggling with the job due to focusing problems.  I am the only one here to once again stay up till 2am with him and give him hope.  I so want to go to my computer and send my "husband" an email who now lives in another state and never contacts our son.  I want to tell him about what our son is going through and how I am at my wits end handling all of this, but I know it will be useless.  I just wanted to tell you we will get through this as difficult as it is and I am thinking of you and feeling your pain! 

Wish I could make it better

Wish I could make it better (such an understatement!). Wish life was an easier journey on the heart and yeah, I keep pinching myself so #%^ annoyed with myself for sounding like a lifetime movie of the week. Bottom line: there are no easy answers- for any of us. But thank God we were blessed w this weird strength that says IT SUCKS(!) but we HAVE to do it. It hurts, God so much, but the kids and us need to still go to school, take care of life, wake up each morning... ALL of US. And I do find little "bytes" of solace... In my kids, watching an old movie, talking to my mom (shes in heaven so its kind of a one-way conversation) ... Work IS a good thing on so many levels. Cant tell you how many times I cried hysterically in the parking lot before putting my "game face" on and entering work- something my husband has seen and then thinks those were crocodile tears.... But they werent/arent...its just survival.... Hugs to you too :)
MagicSandwich's picture

If you want to leave, just leave.


Sounds to me like your ADHD is still a big problem in that you aren't attending to the context of your life closely enough to know if you want to change it. It's probably not a good idea to offer your wife the chance to divorce you with the assurance that you won't hold it against her. If you want to be single, you will have to take actionable steps toward that goal. You. Not her.


Working differently

I was very depressed when I wrote the original post. You are correct, I am responsible for the situation. We're in couples counseling, and I am starting next week with an individual counselor. 

I'm thankful I have such a loving and forgiving wife. Over the last couple weeks we've had many conversations on how to improve things in our marriage. My wife is loving and supportive, and I am very thankful that she keeps helping me grow.