I Live in Complete Chaos!

I have been married to an undiagnosed ADHD husband for 11 years.  This site makes me realize I am not crazy afterall...!  It's also a little sad because I have been living in total stress, exhaustion and chaos for SO long.  It has affected my health, my credit (I now have none), my sex life, my family, and obviously my marriage.  I am currently considering divorce. 

My husband is the HYPER in ADHD.  In fact, when I started researching what could be going on with him, he shows almost every sign of the manic side of a bipolar person....he's super high energy, sleeps very little, is very excited and happy, extremely impulsive, and can get into talking 'fits' where I have to ask him to be quiet for a minute... He is very funny and has a larger than life personality which is what attracted me to him in the first place.  However, the flip side of this excitement and impulsivity is that when he has an idea, he suddenly has to do it.  Whether it's buying a new car (we've had more than 20 in the past 13 years -- he once borrowed my car one day and came home with a different one), starting his own real estate business (in addition to a full time job where he already puts in 70-80 hours a week) which included 4 houses in a few months; now all are upside down or in foreclosure.  I stopped answering my home phone because of all the mortgage companies calling my house.

In five years he changed jobs 5 times.  The 4th job fired him (according to him, the supervisor was a jerk and 'had it out' for him), and the only reason he hasn't left his 5th job is that no one else will hire him.  He's very smart and excels in his profession, but he has been accused of 'trying to wear too many hats'.  He always tests at the top of the list, but has been passed up for promotions twice.  Once again, it's the supervisor's fault.  He finally was promoted last year to a job he liked, but a few months later decided he wanted to apply for ANOTHER position.  Oh, and at the same time, decided to interview at a completely different company.  Every time he does this, he comes home and I have to ride the emotional roller coaster ride.  Will he get it?  WHY didn't he get it?  Should he leave the company altogether?  It's so-and-sos fault he didn't get it.  At least it's better than what he used to do; decide to changes jobs without even telliing me.

Early in our marriage I dealt with the anger outbursts.  Everyone saw him as this happy-go-lucky guy and would never know he had broken our bedroom door one night when he kicked it in (I was 8 months pregnant and had locked him out of our bedroom after he kept telling me he'd be home in an hour and showed up 5 hours later).  We'd fight because I'd think he had driven off the road because he was supposed to be home hours ago...but instead he would've just forgotten to call.  After our second child, he had an affair with a woman at work b/c I wasn't 'attentive' enough to his needs.  I ended up staying with him because I was afraid of trying to raise two babies by myself.  He actually became an outstanding father....partly because he likes to do what they do!  He'll sit on the floor and play Legos for hours.  He draws pictures with them.  Watches cartoons.  They are the center of his universe and I am out in orbit.  And while all this is going on, I'm doing all the chores.  I'm often saying, "Why do YOU get to be the fun parent?"

Someone wrote their ADHD spouse is a guest at his own party.  That is my husband.  In preparation for a party, he will spend the entire time cleaning the room no one will BE in (the garage) while I run around doing everything else.  He can't cook on the grill because he forgets the food is out there.  I now mow the lawn because I'd rather just have it done than fight about it.  I've found the milk in the cupboard, important mail filed before it's even been opened, we pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars in fees to the bank because he can't balance his many accounts.  I don't bother to ask him if he knows where something is that I set down; he could have put it away two minutes before and not remember.  I've sat in the dark with my kids doing homework by candlelight because he forgot to pay the electric bill.  Practically everything has been turned off at some point because he forgets to pay the bills (and because we have so many bills coming in from all the other houses).  Our home remodel ended up costing over $60,000 more because he kept wanting to add more to the project.  We are in a constant state of stress!  And he wonders why I'm not in the mood for sex??? 

Even with all of this, we have managed to survive and in the past 6 months we have been able to enjoy being together.  He's still the person who can make me laugh and we have two incredibly thoughtful and caring kids.  We were both commenting that it's the happiest we've been in a long time....and then last week I found out he recently began emotional affairs with TWO different women online.  I was in shock.  When I asked why, he said he didn't even know himself.  Because I don't desire him.  And he's right.  But it's hard to be intimate in the middle of a tornado.

So, here I am.  Afraid of changing who my children are and will be by breaking up our family, and not sure I have the energy needed to even try to fix this nightmare.  He says he'll go to counseling, but he's not one of those people who is searching for answers.  If he were sitting here he could explain every one of my complaints above.  I would really like to stay with him, but if we can't find the help we need, I don't think I can go on any more like this.  I am emotionally and financially exhausted.  Help.


I would like to stay with him

You are on the right track - you both need professional help.  From the tone of your note it does sound as if you aren't ready to give up on this relationship, even though you are feeling very exhausted and hurt.  Sitting down and making a plan for recovery with your husband may help.  By setting specific goals and deadlines you may have a better feel for whether you are both working towards a mutual goal of staying together (if you indeed have that mutual goal).  You should both contribute to this plan, and both be responsible for checking in from time to time to see how you are doing.

If I were part of a team creating a plan for a situation in which you are finding yourself, I would think about adding some of these items to the list:

  • marital counselling with a person who understands ADD.  Measure progress by (XXX?)
  • finances get straightened out in stages - stage one - you take over ALL the bill paying and in exchange for the time it takes you to do this, he take over some other task of similar duration (laundry, dishes, mowing the lawn, whatever) and stick to it.  Stage two -whatever you need to do to get out from under your multiple houses.  Stage three - financial counseling as soon as you can afford it. 
  • improving connections that lead to romance - while it doesn't sound romantic to plan romance, nonetheless romance is based in connections.  Make a plan to figure out what the two of you need to feel more romantic
  • the emotional affairs need to stop now, and you need to be able to verify that they've stopped somehow.  Figure out how before they turn into real affairs.  Negotiate some way to verify they are over.
  • serious conversations about what you want your marriage to be (with each other, and on your own)

Set some reasonable deadlines in your plan - if X doesn't happen by Y time, then it may make sense to leave.

There are two books that I've liked on the topic of deciding whether or not to stay in a marriage.  One is "Do I Stay or Do I Go?" and the other is "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay".  They have quite different takes about how to figure it out - but are both very helpful.

Best of luck with it.  Not a fun time.


Official Diagnosis and Career

Thanks for your reply.  It helps to see it written out in steps.  Right now it all seems so massive, I feel like it's hard to know where to start (clearly, with counseling...)  Since posting this, I've seen some disheartening news on blogs and other sources online which basically say if he is "officially diagnosed" with ADD it will pretty much ruin his career (law enforcement/military interviews include a section about being diagnosed with and/or treated for any psychological reasons; previous people in these fields have given their personal experience saying whether it's or not it's fair, a person with this diagnosis will be passed over for promotion or disqualified completely).  One of the women I've made an appt with lists ADD as one of her speciality areas, so hopfully she can give me some guidance on how to approach it.  Or any other ideas are welcome. 

Keep the Faith

My ADD hubby and I went through counseling and it helped quite a bit!  He didn't want to go at first.  In fact, he only agreed so that I could "get help for my issues".  I didn't care that he thought I was the one with all the problems, as long as I got him there!

Together, our psychologist helped us to understand each other and how we think/react differently - how our actions were perceived by the other, how we each felt about certain things, what was negotiable and what wasn't . . . I learned to give up the need to control everything and Hubby learned how his indecisiveness and "zoning out" affected me. 

If you can find a good doctor who specializes in ADD and couples counseling, I think you will find things will improve greatly for you and your family.

Good luck!

Married for 32 years to undiagnosed ADHD / Bipolar

I read your post and saw so many similarities to my life over the past 33 years.  I married right out of high school and had plans to do great things with my life.  My husband became controlling and wanted everything to about him.  I always felt like I had to be the responsible one  (even though he is 3 1/2 years older) and the more extreme his behavior became, the more I withdrew.  

Just last year our adult son went through a really bad spell due to a spouse with mental illness (he now suffers from depression / manic episodes) and we brought our son home, only to deal with complete chaos in our lives for 2 weeks.  Finally I had to call the police and force our son to seek medical help.  My husband was no help with the situation and saw nothing wrong with going to do dangerous activities with our son  (ie...shooting firearms).  He said he wanted to make memories with our son.  I then had 2 manic people to deal with.  

After this episode with our son,my husband was scared to see some similarities in his own bahavior. My husband agreed to go to the dotor and they diagnosed him as ADHD / low mania.  The doctor and counselor could not believe that he was 54 and had never been diagnosed.  He tried Adoral but it did nothing for him.  He then was prescribed Ritalin.  It works when he takes it.  Right now, he believes that he doesn't need it and can just call on God to take away his symptoms.  God is great, and believe me, I call on him many times for strength, but I fear this calm period with my husbands behavior will be short lived and we will have to address the issue of medication soon.  

I felt for years that I was the one who had something wrong.  My husband made me feel awful for not having "fun" like he does.  I don't like to run down the beach yelling like a kid,  I don't like big noisy crowds.  In fact I lost a lot of who I was because of trying to deal with constant chaos for 32 years.  

My husband changed jobs and / or we moved over 50 times in the first 25 years of marriage.  He is now self employed, but it is a feast or famine situation.  He gets hyperfocused on work for a while and then we sometimes go over a year without any income.  I have gotten good at squirreling away money when times are good.  My life seems like a constant roller coaster ride and I have considered leaving many times over the years (although I never knew what the cause of the chaos was).  Just at the beginning of this year I understood that I don;t have to try and be responsible for my husbands extreme behavior.  He needs to be in charge of that,  I am not the behavior police.  I have found things that I enjoy doing and I don't need his permission to be happy. It  may be that I have to choose at some point (for my own health) that we need to go our separate ways.  I do love him and he somehow provided for me and our 2  children (now grown) .  Our children have issues they have to work through with their dad because he was not diagnosed for so many years.  He is very judgmental  of them and me.  It has caused resentment in our family.  

Just know that you are not alone in what you are going through.  I spent so much time dealing with one crisis after another and the chaos did not allow me to step back and look at the situation clearly.  I don't have to live this way.  It is not just up to me to fix this......he has to make an effort also.  It may be that taking medication or not taking medication may be a deal breaker for me still.

I completely understand where you're coming from regarding jobs!

My H is never happy at a job. He tells me how awesome it will be, even when I say that he will come and complain to me about it a few weeks in. He hates his supervisor, his coworkers are idiots, everyone has it out for him, the work is boring. He has surprisingly managed to stay at the same company for 6 years, but has been in several different positions and shifts there. He of course hates something or someone at each position and puts in for a transfer. He's been working 1st shift for 4 years after stints on 2nd and 3rd shift and just put in for a shift change so he could move to a different part of the factory. Starting in February he will be working 2nd shift-the worst shift of all. 2PM-10:30PM. We'll never see each other and maybe that's good. It will allow me to come home from work and do stuff like mow the yard and clean without having him complaining that I'm doing it. But why would you move to such a crappy shift? Or maybe he'll get that mailman position he wants to apply for for $22 LESS an hour than he's making now because he can work by himself! He doesn't THINK about the consequences of these decisions!