I have a reached a tipping point in my relationship and I fear that unless some changes happen, and happen soon, that my marriage will soon be over.
Some quick background info:
My husband and I have been married for 9 years (together for 10). When we met I was a divorced mom with 2 boys - ages 4 and 6. My husband-to-be was a batchelor.
I was finally diagnosed with ADHD about 8 years ago (my youngest son was in the 2nd grade and was diagnosed as well). I have been taking Adderall XR every single day since my diagnosis. The meds don't control all of my symptomatic behaviors, but since I went so long without a diagnosis, I already had some pretty good coping skills (for example, I was able to graduate from college before diagnosis) and the meds help reinforce those skills and help slow things down for me. I would say that I am treating my ADHD and can keep appointments with the use of my phone's calendar, keep a clean house, stay on top of laundry, work full time (with excellent performance reviews), pay my bills (I even use a budget!), etc. I definitely have trouble with blurting out inappropriate comments, interrupting people, ignoring people, procrastination, correctly estimating how long a task will take, etc., but I try to laugh off what I can, apologize often and try hard not to beat myself up too much. I'm sure I have other major deficits, since us ADHDers are notoriously bad at self-evaluation.
Around the same time I was diagnosed with ADHD, my husband found out that he has Aspergers. He has all the classic symptoms, but I would call him extremely high-functioning. He has a good job, compliments my looks, does things with friends, likes snuggling and physical contact, likes to do a lot of fun activities (biking, snowboarding, camping, traveling.) But he struggles sensory processing disorder, criticizes my sons and me relentlessly, yells (a lot - like multiple days a day), calls us names, breaks things, punches walls, gets angry when his routine is disturbed, etc. He also lacks the ability to empathize. He is not taking any medication (unless weed counts.)
So, my dilemma:
How are we supposed to make our relationship work? It's not a situation where one spouse is neuro-typical and the other has ADHD - we both have neurological disorders that shape how we experience the world. And from everything I've read and experienced, it seems like ADHD and Aspergers are almost on polar ends of the continuum. He thrives on routine and order; I couldn't maintain a routine to save my life. He likes to be left undisturbed; I can't help but cause disruption. I hate being criticized and yelled at; he deals with anxiety by lashing out. I am almost too empathetic (and feel really bad about how I cause other people pain); he doesn't have a clue about how his behavior affects others. I could go on and on.
Now I am seriously questioning whether or not I can stay in this relationship. The daily verbal abuse has destroyed my self-esteem and I'm worried that I'm becoming depressed. My husband is in pain because I withdraw from his anger and criticism and withhold affection (that includes sex.) I snap at him when the criticism gets too intense - that escalates his anger and widens my withdrawal. Instead of being happy to see him enter a room, I brace myself for another verbal assault. I try as hard as I can to control the chaos my ADHD creates in our lives (medication, lists, reminders, counseling), but I don't think it will ever be enough to satisfy him.
I read stories about NT women married to men with Aspergers and the accounts are absolutely heartbreaking. I'm positive my ADHD contributes to his anxiety and just fuels an already difficult situation.
I did do one big thing to try to help:
This past weekend, I cleared out a room in our house that was being used for storage and turned it into a special room for him. I painted the walls and bought a nice couch, tv, and mini-fridge - it's a proper man cave. I'm going to be adding some bookshelves this week so he can display some of his favorite items and store things he doesn't want touched. It will be just his room - no one else can use the room without his permission or invitation. I told him he needs to go in the room when the kids and/or I are bothering him or when the house feels too chaotic or when he just needs a break. I told him that he doesn't get to yell anymore or blame and criticize us and if he feels a negative emotion coming on that he needs to go into his new space so he doesn't abuse us. I hoping this will be enough. I hoping that he will use the room regularly, so that we can all have some peace.