I have to ask myself, what am I getting out of this relationship?

I have been with my husband for the past 10 years. We have been married for the past 3. Ever since we got married, the neglect and childish behavior has been too much for me to deal with. Compounded with his substance abuse problems and I have to ask myself, what am I getting out of this relationship. I have a history of my own substance abuse problems and I have the residual low self-esteem that goes with it. After my own treatment and therapy to avoid relapse, I am getting better. I have re-enrolled in school, fixed my credit problems, began  doing volunteer work and become a responsible adult. My husband is a decade behind in what little recovery he has. Substance abuse issues aside, in my mind, my husband behaves like a 48 year old baby. Incapable of handling a credit card or checking account, washing his own underwear, following through on his own volunteering of housework, keep his gas tank filled before work. I do EVERYTHING that a responsible adult needs to do. I'll come home 4 hours after he volunteered to clean the bathroom, ("as soon as you leave I'll clean the bathroom"). Not only is was the bathroom not cleaned but the house is trashed and he's outside working on his beloved truck. Our responsibilities are split 95/5. This is not an exageration.

I can't help but feel like he ignores me, doesn't follow through (which feels like he just outright lies) just to spite me. I yell all the time. I wouldn't be able to stand me either. He says he loves me but.....

I had no idea that ADD was even a possibility. I recently listened to a program on the Australian Broadcasting Channel on ADD. I thought they were talking about my husband. I decided to Google, Adult ADD and affects on marriage. I decided to show my husband what I had found. I kid you not, he was too distracted and forgot I had mentioned the article I found on Adult ADD. After reading the article, he agreed that he suspected that ADD was his problem all along. In all fairness, before discovering the ADD, he had told me that he thought he was losing his mind, forgetting things all the time. Now when I bring one of the symptoms to his attention, he just says, "It's the ADD". I guess that makes it all right then? That doesn't excuse all the CRAP behavior on his part.

When is it ADD and when is it just outright neglect?

I grew up with 2 alcoholic parents who outright neglected my sister and me. Now I am married to someone who prefers to either a. play video games or b. work on his truck. From sun up to sun down, he is outside, working on his truck. He comes in when dinner is ready. The dinner that he in no way participated in His truck doesn't even need to be broken down. He spends entire paychecks on auto parts and auto paint because he's going to sell it. Years later, he's painted it 4 times and spent $1,000's and $1,000 on fixing it up to sell, only to trash the inside and never follow through.  When I call him on it, he tells me that I should be happy he has such a tame hobby. To make matters worse, I do 100% of the household chores, laundry, "grown up stuff" and my husband gets to play with his truck. I am sick and tired of being the only adult in this relationship. He forgot our last anniversaries. 

Every weekend when I am out by myself, I see other couples out together. I try to bring up things we can do together, only to be dismissed. "I just need to finish this one thing" or " if I do this it will really increase the value" "Maybe next week" or "Just give me an hour and I'll be ready to go". Needless to say, we never go anywhere together. He loves his truck and based upon the amount of relapsing he has done, he loves his drugs, weed and booze too. I have completely internalized his neglect.

I really just want to quit. I have a great job and worrying about my 14 year old daughter and me sounds a lot better than being an mother to a 48 year old baby.

At least he acknowledges that he needs treatment and I acknowledge that I have addressed his behavior with extreme anger. I scream and yell. I want to beat into his skull how detrimental his neglect is. He doesn't even acknowledge it. If he does, it will improve for a week and go right back. He shuts down, sometimes rightfully so, because of my anger...If you are reading this, you know exactly what I am referring to. I am still a young woman. I have a good job and I am clearly capable of living an independent life. He is a burden on me, my emotional state and my finances. I am depressed for the first time in my life, which is saying something because I am a recovering addict.

I have spent the past 2 hours reading the posts that are identical to mine and crying.

When is enough, enough? When should I just cut my losses?




  Hi norcalgal1, The day I


Hi norcalgal1,

The day I found this site and read and read for hours - I found myself crying too, so much was so familiar and it all just felt hopeless. I don't know the answer to 'how much is enough?' - only you can answer that, obviously.

Is there any likelihood that your husband might seek a diagnosis and get treatment? Mine agrees he needs to be seen by an expert.... It just doesn't seem to get up the priority list on any given day. He is genuinely stressed about work right now, so I'm letting it rest for a week. I'm not a person who yells, and my husband is very very sensitive to anything even close to criticism, so I'm always careful how I word things. My own take on things right now, is that I'm going to encourage him to get diagnosed and treated and see how things go from there. If my husband tries to be better, even if it's hard, even if he stuffs up often - the fact that he really tries will probably be good enough for me.

But if he won't try, if I'm stuck in the current unhappy status quo... Well... That's a whole other question.

The very best of luck to you.

carathrace's picture

You ask a lot of good

You ask a lot of good questions, which are also hard questions.  When you asked yourself what you're getting out of this, what did you answer yourself?  You've been with him for 10 years.  Is there anything still there to build on? 

If you think there is, then it may be worth it to invest more time and energy in the relationship >>>>that is, if HE is also willing to invest time and energy.  If you want to go this way, there are a few things you can do.  First, you can read up on ADHD.  Melissa's book is a good source for relationship help with an ADHD spouse.  I like the website help4adhd.org -- under "Diagnosis & Treatment" there are tests your husband can take, which might help convince him to get help.  He needs to get on board here; it can't be just you.  So the initial goal would be to get him officially diagnosed by a professional and get on medication if that's indicated.  Then an ADHD coach or counselor to help him acquire some skills/coping strategies.   I have to be honest though, that even with professional help, he still may not change a lot.  Living with an ADHD spouse means you have to do a certain amount of lowering expectations.  But really, don't we do that with everybody to some degree?  My husband and I also go to joint counseling so my voice gets heard too.

You sound like a really capable person and good on ya for how you've brought about your own recovery.  I know you know that anger and yelling make the communication worse between you, and at the same time I understand how frustrated and disappointed you are.

A long haul

Good job staying clean and functional! I often ask myself why I bother being married. Inertia seems to be the real answer. Well, that and not wanting to hurt him further. The reality of ADHD is that he can't fix it by trying harder. It isn't personal. He can manage it if he chooses, but learning how to do so will take concerted effort and will. Your post indicates that he really has no reason to change. Looks like he likes his life just fine. Until he realizes that he wants to be the new and better him, he will backslide. And if you choose to stay you will need to let go of the anger and resentment. Behave the way you want to be treated. Stop enabling. It's really hard. Is he providing enough value to make it worth it? Good luck.

carathrace's picture

no good options today

Shelley, your words here really hit me between the eyes today.  I'm having a hard time with disappointment and frustration lately.  It seems my husband's "concerted effort and will", if they were ever there, have exited the building.  Unlike some ADHD spouses, he does NOT like his life just fine.  But he's so f*ing stuck and hapless.  I see my options as:

1.  I can be his mother, monitor his life so he doesn't forget anything, take him by the hand & lead him to bed at 10 so he doesn't stay up all night playing solitaire over and over.  Very bad option, unhealthy, don't want to do it.

2.  I can withdraw, detach from him.  If he promises to do a task and doesn't do it in a certain time frame and it needs to be done, I can do it myself.  If I tell him dinner will be on the table at 6 and he's not home again, I can eat it myself and he can have leftovers.  This feels real hopeless to me as a rest-of-your-life kind of thing.  Unsustainable.  I don't WANT to be distant with him.  Plus, I don't see how I can do this and not stay in a perpetual state of resentment.

3.  I can divorce him.  Not an option.  I love him.

I will need to let go of the anger and resentment if I choose to stay, just as you said.  What do I do about the disappointment though, the "let down again" feeling?  What about the teeth grinding frustration when we have to get new credit cards AGAIN because he lost his wallet AGAIN?  How do you deal with those and not lose respect for him?  I'm really afraid of losing respect, because I don't think I can come back from that.

Another thing you said that's true:  It's really hard.  I really really love this man and tonight I feel so hopeless.


Carathrace I've noticed before that our stories tracked pretty well. I just keep going back to the "all unhappiness is the result of unmet expectations." I now expect dh to not be home on time for dinner so I don't usually get upset when he meets that expectation. Same for tasks. Now this is very depressing as I still have no interior walls on the main floor. I tell him to come to bed soon, knowing its highly unlikely. So I no longer wake up furious. I realized I'm not yet ready to divorce him so I'd better let these things go so that I will be happier. 

That being said, it's not the recommended path. We are supposed to stick up for our needs. I have a near pathological need to avoid conflict so am really adept at letting things go. But I do think we need to work with the adhd condition rather than fight it when developing expectations. And ask for specifics when they agree to do something. Wish I had a magic wand...

carathrace's picture

it's good to be understood

Thanks for your understanding, Shelley.  No interior walls on the main floor.  Jeez.  That is rough.  I have lots of unfinished places in my house but nothing that big.  Can you hire it done?  That's how I finally got my bedroom inhabitable.

I am like you with conflict.  Plus, any time I do bring anything up, he acts like we should call it quits because I'm obviously so unhappy with him.  Yikes, overreaction!  Lucky for me, I have a group of women I meet with every week -- we call ourselves Wine & Whine.  It's my safety valve.  Do you have some girlfriends you can vent to?  Actually this site is as good as my girlfriends because everybody here GETS IT.  Not that we can SOLVE IT ...but at least we get it.

When is enough, enough?

norcalgal1, you know the answer.  I will say it for you.  Now.   Talk to people who have left.  They only thing that they regret is not having done it sooner.

If it was not for the fact that we have two small kids, and intertwined finances (I am lucky that my husband's impulse buying is minimal and he has a good job, as do I), I would have done it, and my husband's behavior isn't nearly as bad as what you describe.  Still, I don't want to live with someone who is tuned out or on the computer/cell phone much of the time when home, does not respond, forgets conversations, does not keep promises, does not do his share, and blames me for his actions.  I don't want to be the angry unhappy person I've become (I am much happier when we are not together). There is quit a bit of good, including in his behavior to the kids (when he focuses) and the fact that he is always willing to go out and do things (but then often tunes out when we are out), and is good hearted person, but it does not overcome the negative.   As I realized, I am particularly ill suited to be married to someone with ADD, as I put a premium on integrity. But with 2 small kids, there is a heavy prise; not one I want to pay right now.  I don't want to be without my kids half the time and unable to pay for their camp/ music classes/ fun activities.

You have a potential of having a good life for you and your daughter, and your cost is mostly overcoming inertia and giving up a dream that never was.


Dear norcal,

I am so sorry you are going through this. And I am struck by your story--how strong you must be to have gone through your own recovery. 

Full disclosure, I had a pretty tough marriage and I left my spouse with untreated ADHD last year. My decision was easy--things had gotten unlivable and there was some verbal abuse as well--but when I come to a cross roads like this and want to make a decision, I always a) talk to a neutral person I can trust (mine was a therapist) and b) make a list of pros and cons. Seriously. What's the worst and best thing that can happen if you separate? What is the worst and best thing that can happen if you stay? 

I am sorry this is affecting you with depression and anger. It is understandable--I was sad and furious for a long, long time. Remember you can't control his behavior right now, only your own. Keep your sobriety as the highest priority (I would think it would be tough to live with his substance abuse). Perhaps taking a break and staying somewhere else would help you care for yourself and your daughter and help him realize what it at stake. Or if you stay, some on these boards have found some relief with a "tough love" approach and some detachment-- you stop washing his underwear and reminding him to get gas, not because you are mad and resentful, but because you aren't going to enable him any more. I do know now that with ADHD, it is not personal--he probably means he is going to clean the bathroom, but following through is harder for him than for us. Not an excuse, just an explanation. It is what he decides to do to treat it that is important. 

Do you have a sponsor or someone you can talk to? My best wishes that this works out for you. Stay strong. 



I left

I left mine and we remain friends. I partially help with handling his bills, but force him to handle most of it. He still texts me asking questions that he can find the answer to himself, and that's what I tell him.....find it yourself. 

Mine is a mechanic with an addiction to working on his car. He was always online looking for better performance parts and talking about it like it was alive, but couldn't manage to keep the interior free of trash. In typical add style, he wouldn't work on the car we needed to sell (not interesting enough), so instead of getting over $1000 out of it, we had to sell it for $700. He blamed it on the car, of course. 

I am happily free of him. The love left and I was unable to get it back because of all the problems his add caused for me. 

Good luck!