I just don't know anymore.

Hello everyone, my first post in the forums.  My situation is a little complex, but I'm going to do my best to sum everything up as short as possible.

We've been together almost 3 years, became engaged pretty early, it was definitely instant love.  Our chemistry was great, he liked my sense of humor and I liked his smile.  We didn't see eye to eye future-wise right off the bat, but these things came to be.  Basically it took me two years of gentle pushing to get him to get his GED (high school dropout, 19 at the time we hooked up, I was 21).  He was diagnosed in 2012 with ADD/ADHD (not quite sure which his doctor settled on, but both were labeled as a possibility), and prescribed ritalin, which sometimes he would take, others he would sell.

When we hooked up he had a serious problem with pot.  I don't mind occasional use, I personally would rather see someone roll up a joint that shoot up a bag or smoke crack, but I guess that's just my perception.  I got him away from that slowly, and although he still smokes frequently, it is no longer day to night, and he works.

We had an apartment together for no more than 6 months, the reason we lost it was that we were in a car accident, were fired for missing a day because of the car accident (we both worked the same place through a temp agency, there was a company takeover in place and they were looking for reasons to fire people), and had to explain to the landlord that we wouldn't be able to pay the rent, and we were leaving early.  I thank God that I had worked so much overtime the week before that I was able to pay the entire next months rent and pay the fee required for breaking the lease.

Anyways, lets backtrack a little.  While we were living at the apartment there was a lot of fighting.  I would cry lots and sometimes get angry, he would get angry and throw his cellphone at the wall and everything.  He never laid a hand on me, and visa versa.  However, I find later that my moodswings were caused most likely by bipolar disorder ii.  I've been carrying this diagnosis for a while now, and blamed myself for our fighting and his outbursts.  I went to counseling, was put on proper meds, and ever since then I've carefully thought everything I say before I say it, and if I slip up at all I apologize right off the bat, explain myself, and take full responsibility for my words.

Time marches on.  I noticed that under times of stress, he snaps.  I start to realize that although a lot of it was probably my fault earlier,  I've done nothing to trigger these episodes.  I'm sure I'm not perfect, but I definitely do think of what I say before I say it, and do everything I can to be as straightforward as possible.  I do not raise my voice, get defensive/offensive, anything like that.  Counseling taught me that this was NOT the best way to communicate, so I just don't do it anymore.

I actually make him breakfast often, give him back/shoulder rubs almost every night, do his laundry, make the bed, and tell him how special he is to me every day and am still just as affectionate as I've been since we first got together.  Basically I do everything I can to make him feel special and to show him how appreciated he is.

Fast forward a little bit.  He has a few episodes, I cry a lot, but we work through them.  A few months of peace go by.  It was pretty awesome.  He decides to further his education, which makes me incredibly proud!  The day he talks to financial aid, he explains to me that either he lives on campus (which is far away, and even if I weren't in the picture he didn't want to live with 3 18-year-old roommates) and his loans cover it, he lives off campus and pays for everything himself, OR we get legally married, we can live together, AND the loans will cover it.

Needless to say, I'm excited!  I mean, even though it wouldn't be a ceremony, and it would just be paperwork for now, just knowing I'd be a Mrs to the love of my life just made me ecstatic.  But...no glee from him.  No excitement.  Just a 'whatever' kind of response like 'okay I'll make a few phone calls and we'll get everything figured out.'  And to be honest?  That really hurt.  Basically I didn't say anything at first, just kind of moped and hinted at how it doesn't feel really special to him or anything.

The following day I cry some more, I know it sounds pathetic but this is not how I wanted this news to go.  'Oh hey we're getting married soon, that's all.'  I didn't get a single 'Wow I'm really excited to get married to you.'  This day, and getting married, is something I was looking forward to for a long time.  It's like I wanted the hugs and kisses and giggles and happiness and stupid butterflies in the stomach feeling and 'i love you'.  No.  It was just 'oh okay let's do that then.'

He asks me whats wrong, I try to explain as kindly as possible.  And then...he flew off the handle.  Instantly anger and insecurity took hold.  I know he's got issues from his early life, and I've TRIED to get him to seek counseling, but I know not being on his medication isn't helping.  Basically  he had no empathy with me at all.  I don't think I've ever been sadder in my life, especially how I was bawling my eyes out over how excited my future-husband seems to be about getting married to me.

I can honestly say that the cruelty, the anger, and then afterwards acting like everything was okay, was a step over the line.  I just don't know if I can do this anymore.  Sure, now he's texting me the 'i'm sorry's but I've gotten those before.  I've told him counseling would help years ago, I told him his medication would help months ago, I explained to him that none of us are perfect and perhaps we would both be happier if he became more aware of his anger and found better outlets for his stress.  I KNOW he's stressed.  About school, about starting his own life and career path, but if that stress is enough to leave his 'future wife' completely alone; no, even yell at her for being upset over something so intimate...I just don't know if this is worth it anymore.

I am so very upset and I don't know what to do.  I've never been so hurt in my life.  This is completely awful.

Untreated and imploding

You are looking at a textbook case of untreated serious ADHD accompanied by overload.  He's imploding and unable to handle what is happening.  If you think you are having a hard time now you can be CERTAIN that it will get worse if you get married in the cirumstances you're describing.  You will regret it, I know you don't want to hear that and I'm sorry but you have red flags everywhere and should take note of them.  Examples (I'm sorry to be blunt but it needs to be spelled out):

- he was diagnosed but sold his Ritalin and still uses pot, he never consistently took his meds

- it took 2 years to get his GED with you cajoling him along, now he suggests getting you on the hook for student loans (which you will not be able to discharge through bankruptcy and WILL fall on you if he drops out and cannot pay) and you are proposing to haul him through college, unmedicated, untreated and still with a pot habit and a job(?).  Seriously, you would be nuts to do that

- he has anger outbursts that he cannot control (think that will get better with the stress of college?)

- he is deeply avoidant in his reactions towards you about the marriage but HE came to you with the idea of getting married so he can have his shiny new thing (college - which to give him his due he may be wanting to do in order to impress you).

Marriage would be a huge additional commitment - you should not, NOT be considering such a life-changing step because it makes student loans easier! Not ever! You know that his reactions are already making you unhappy - that will not improve - so please stop hoping that he will magically change. He won't.  Trust your instincts.

What does he need to do in order to improve his life and perhaps save your relationship? He needs to take his ADHD seriously, find a psychiatrist, get on the right medication and go to counselling. He needs to do all that before you consider marrying him, and he needs to do it consistently. This should be an ultimatum - do it or you leave (if you read my prior posts you'll see that my stock response isn't always 'dump him' but this is one of those cases where you need to lay it our very clearly to him that you will no longer tolerate his untreated behavior).

In the best case - he agrees today - getting the right meds and working with a therapist will take time and you should give it several months to see whether he commits to treatment and follows through. Until then - no wedding, no loans (at least not with you - you cannot stop him if he goes some other way).

Save yourself - if you are in bad shape due to his untreated ADHD then you are in no position to help him.

So - if he begins meds and other treatment then re-evaluate in several months (and no wedding in the meantime!). If he refuses - things will not improve and you should really cut your losses and not get in deeper - he will damage you further if he is not treated.

I'm sorry this sounds bleak, you clearly love him and want the best for him. But marriage is one of those things you needs to look at with a clear head. Re-read your post and trust your instincts. What would you advise a sister or friend who came to you with this story and asked for advice?

First and foremost, I would

First and foremost, I would like to thank you very much for your honesty.  Your knowledgeable response really gave me something to think about and gave me some direction.  You are right in saying that I do love him very much, and I do know that he loves me too.  To be honest I think furthering his education is both exciting and terrifying to him, and as you said, resulted in an overload.

I do feel like some of it is to impress me, and he's afraid of change.  He was never really pushed by his parents to do anything education-wise, so this is like taking an elementary school student and telling them to choose a life path.  I'm not trying to demean him or make him seem less of an adult by saying that, but it's true.  His upbringing has a lot to do with the way he looks at education.  It's diving into the unknown, so it's probably scaring him a lot more than it would scare the average person.  Not an excuse for him, does not make his behavior okay, but at least I feel I understand his struggle a little.

I know that deep down he doesn't mean to take his stress out on me, I'm not sticking up for him because that does not make his behavior okay.  What this does prove to me though, is that he isn't just some jerk, and has an actual problem that needs to be addressed before he can make progress.  I know that he also has some deep rooted insecurities from his childhood that he needs to come to terms with.  Coming to terms with these insecurities I feel is one of the most important steps to more easily manage his overall condition.

I gave him the opportunity to come talk with me over a cup of coffee, and let him say what he wanted to say.  Surprisingly (well not really, he grew up bottling his feelings because of some stuff I'm not going to get into right now) he didn't have much to say, but body language and facial expressions said a lot.  He understood the severity of the situation and how close I was at that point to ending it.  I gave him an ultimatum;

I will leave unless:
1)  No more pot.  Period.
2)  I'll help him find a psychiatrist that accepts his insurance.  (We have found one online just before he went to work, he's making the call tomorrow.)
3)  Meet with his normal doc and have him put on a different medication.  (He admits that the plummet in our sex life is because the ritalin directly affects his ability to perform, which is embarrassing to him and part of the reason he doesn't take it like he should.)

I guess there were a few things that he didn't feel comfortable talking about, which were also adding to the stress.  It took a little time for him to think about it (which I understand because those things are a lot to take in), the only thing really scaring him is the medication, but he agreed and is meeting his doctor soon.

I really do feel bad for him.  I know he wants to do the right thing.  His parents were just plain awful during some of the most important developmental years of his young life.  I don't see him snapping or going crazy, but combining these deep rooted issues with a lack of medication for a condition he has, I can tell he's really hurting.  I laid everything down gently, and he was very receptive.  Actually got a little emotional and asked for a hug.

I did tell him that we're not getting married anytime soon, and once we start seeing progress in him and he commits to the changes, we can talk about it then.  I'm not going to cave or jump into anything, we seem to have a pretty good understanding of eachother and just agreeing to not smoke pot at all says a lot.  To me, at least, I've been surrounded by people with addiction issues my entire life.  Even though we don't have an apartment, he's staying with me at my mom's.  (It's temporary until we can get our own place.)  He's decent in coming home right after work and keeping me up to date if anything changes.  He's not an idiot, and I can tell when someone's smoked, so I don't see him sneaking around with it behind my back or anything.

Sorry for making my response so long.  I just wanted to thank you and let you know that after taking your advice into consideration, some positive changes are already being made.  So, thank you!  :)

Hi creativemind89

I'm just another anonymous person on the internet but I'm glad if something I said helped you. It looks like you're on a much better track now. Probably just taking marriage off the table for a while relieved a lot of stress for him immediately right there - it was all too much too soon for him on top of the hopes for his education - maybe he was wondering what he was getting into.

On the medication - it's perfectly understandable that he is concerned and maybe afraid.  It would also be normal that getting the meds right becomes a process and not just a quick fix - so he has to be reassured that sometimes there may be a step forward followed by 2 or 3 steps back but that is not the end of the world. Your job during the time while he is trying meds is to give him honest feedback - it may be very difficult or even impossible for him to accurately recognize some changes in his behavior. So he has to trust you, and you might need to reassure that you're not taking advantage of him during these times. Somehow accurate feedback must get to his prescribing doctor.  One idea might be to keep a journal that he can hand to the doctor, another might be for you to jointly write some notes before each appt - really I am trying to encourage you to make sure that the doctor gets accurate information - just do what you have to do!

Good luck, hope you two make it :)