I Need A Pep Talk...

It's been a little more than 5 months since my wife moved out into the spare bedroom.  It's been a little more than 4 months since I was diagnosed with ADHD and started treatment.

I'm happy with myself and the progress that I've made...  Physically, emotionally, socially, professionally, I'm doing far better than I was a year ago.  I'm making improvements to myself and to our home.  I'm getting along with my kids better than I ever have.  I'm getting back into some of my stress-relieving hobbies.  I'm getting out and learning new things and making new friends.  I cook, I clean, and I get all the bills paid.

But I feel like I'm just about at the point of giving up on my relationship with my wife.  I'm beginning to have a hard time keeping up my motivation to continue trying to make things better with her, when she makes no effort in return.

When she moved out, she said that it was with the intent of getting a little distance and improving our relationship and regaining our friendship.  It seemed to be working at first.  But now, almost half a year later, it feels like the situation hasn't changed, except that she's sleeping in a separate bedroom with no physical contact of any kind -- I haven't gotten so much as hug from her since Father's Day.  She said if the arrangement wasn't working out, we could talk it over...  Well, I've been trying to talk it over for weeks, and she keeps dodging the issue.

She ignores me when I try to talk to her.  She avoids me when I try to spend time with her.  She doesn't pay her fair share of the bills, but always complains about having no money.  She doesn't do her fair share of the household chores, but always complains about the house being a mess.  She hasn't been paying as much attention to the kids as she thinks she has.  She refuses to go to couples counseling and she quite literally runs and hides if I confront her about our problems, but insists that nothing will change and nothing will ever get better.  And yet, even though she's threatened it, she's made no actual preparations to leave or to file for divorce.

Throughout our entire marriage, whenever there's things have gotten difficult in an important way, she ignores the problem, hides from it and waits for it to go away.  It never does.  And she's doing it all over again in a huge way.

I don't think I can keep going with the status quo.  Being separated in the same house without her cooperation, makes me feel like I'm beating my head against a wall...  like I'm dragging an anchor...  like I'm slogging through mud.  I start feeling pride and satisfaction over a personal success or just feeling happy about life, and I can't share it with her.  If I try, her attitude drains it all away.

I want to move forward...  I want to either complete the split and move on without her, or to work together with her as a team to rebuild our relationship.

Either way, I'm feeling down about it and I need a pep talk...  I either to regain the patience and fortitude to continue waiting until she's ready to work with me, or the courage and strength to end it.

My next counseling session is Monday.  I'm waiting until then to get my coach's opinion, but I'm on the verge of giving my wife an ultimatum, of sorts, to force a decision...

A) If you're going to stay, you need to make an effort to be more involve with the family and to really try to make things better...  You need to help more with the bills, help more with the housework, learn something about ADHD (because the kids probably have it too, and you're not helping them the way you should) and start going to marriage counseling with me.

B) If you can't do that, then you need to move out and find your own place to stay.

C) If you can't do that, then I'm moving out and finding my own place to stay.





But I feel like I'm just about at the point of giving up on my relationship with my wife.  I'm beginning to have a hard time keeping up my motivation to continue trying to make things better with her, when she makes no effort in return.

I could of wrote that.

I think your plan sounds like

I think your plan sounds like a good one.  I'm the nonADHD spouse in my relationship, but I could have written almost everything you've said above, except that I (not my ADHD spouse) was the one who moved to a separate sleeping area.  My spouse is a consummate avoider of issues.  If a spouse or partner won't talk or work with you on issues, and you've made sincere attempts to change yourself (as you have and I have) and have made many attempts to communicate (as you have and I have), I think you've fulfilled your obligation to yourself and your spouse and the marriage.

I think it's useful to remember at times like this that the ADHD is not necessarily the issue.  Many couples in marriages in which neither partner has ADHD have problems, and in many marriages in which a partner does have ADHD, there often are other problems that are harder to deal with than the ADHD.  

By the way, I think that your focus on yourself and the resulting changes are great things.  Keep them up!  


I agree with Rosered. There

I agree with Rosered. There seems to be other issues at play here. I know how you feel. I don't know if my marital problems are causing my our conflicting personalities or the ADHD. Sometimes I think we just bring out the worst in each other.

I think you have laid out a good plan. You've done your part PB and you have waited for her to come to a conclusion on her own. Her avoidance is just causing you grief. I wish my husband was being as proactive as you. Right now, he seems to be stuck in defensive mode. "There's nothing wrong with me. I don't need special treatment. I'll take my medication when I want."

I wanted to say, "If there's nothing wrong with you, then you wouldn't have lost three jobs in four years and hate yourself."

I don't believe in 'in home'

I don't believe in 'in home' separations for this very reason. I think it leaves too much open for interpretation.

I am either here and 100% IN or I would leave. I don't see how you've done it this long. My opinion has always been that she either needs to engage the marriage and give that which she wishes to receive or LEAVE.

Only you will know when enough is enough. I think you're perfectly deserving of knowing her intentions and what direction she feels things are going/ need to go. I am not sure how you should represent the idea to her that you're about to give up, but I would at least let her know that you're working hard to make improvements, ask for her input on what she's seen and feels, and let her know that you're not comfortable letting things go on as they are with no end in sight and instead of giving her an ultimatum, ask her what she feels she can contribute/start to re-contribute to the marriage that might help you feel like you were at least working towards a mutual goal.



I've heard lots of stories where the ADHDer won't change, possibly because they are controlling the relationship through their actions and they like it that way. The partner may be miserable, but the ADHDer is happy enough.

This sounds like your wife has managed to wrestle away the reins and control, and she finds she likes it that way-- or at least she's "happy enough." Your plan sounds like a good way to convince her that BOTH partners have legitimate needs that they bring to the relationship.

   Normally such a sweeping


 Normally such a sweeping statement would require more justification than “I have heard lots of stories”.   I think you may find that often the ADHD person wont’ change because often they *can’t* change.  That would be the nature of biology no?     The relationship is dysfunctional and chaotic because *they* are chaotic, not though intent, but through neurology. It would be the reason why e medication for many has a tangible benefit. It would also be the reason why it is a DSMIV diagnosed condition.    The suggestion that the ADHD person is blissfully happy and content making their partner miserable not only displays a profound ignorance of ADHD but is frankly offensive.  

It sounds to me that PB is doing everything humanly possible and his wife is refusing to meet him halfway.    That is not his fault, and that is nothing to do with ADHD. It’s a person without ADHD behaving in a selfish way... It *is* possible.    

PB my thoughts are that ultimatums have a habit of blowing up in your face, they can force a decision that in the long term is not the right one in retrospect.   I think the changes through the hard work you have been putting in have to be seen as efforts for your own self, not for your wife and not for you relationship.   It may be that your relationship doesn’t hang together, but you will have still made significant gains in yourself that will be good for everyone regardless.   Of course it may also be that this effort has a side effect of helping your relationships in general, including that with your wife. 

YOU should make the call IMHO rather than wait for the hammer to fall, to be honest I think are far more determined than I,   I could not have done what you have in the circumstance, that level of sheer determination very much goes to your credit, and you should hold on to that as an achievement. 


Yes, Jon, if I were writing a dissertation, I would also include footnotes. However, as I have stated before, my posts are mainly from personal experience, and "...stories" was just a way to quickly get to the point of the short post. Although many ADHDers may not be able to help some of what they do, there are also some who don't really want to change parts of their behavior, especially when it involves making something right. (I believe my post to you after you thoroughly analyzed your bullying, dishonest behavior at work may be somewhat of a case in point [Jon 2012]).

You seemed to have missed my point also. I was stating that although it seems from this site that there are ADHDers who don't seem willing to change, in his case it looked like the situation was opposite --- that he had a legitimate case for wanting his wife to come around now and see how many changes he had made for the good of them both. But it appears she is being selfish in refusing to participate in making the relationship better for BOTH of them -- and she should not continue taking advantage of his good behavior and other advantages of being married if she isn't going to contribute.

OK, Lynne  sure; I am not at

OK, Lynne  sure;

I am not at all sure how or why your post to me was a case in point, and to what point,  but if you feel it was, please expand on this as I would genuinely like to be able to understand the central tenet of what you are getting at.  Currently aside from what appears a visceral dislike of all things ADHD  It makes no logical sense to me at all.   

 As an aside, when using  paraphrasing in parenthetical referencing,  it would normally be considered poor form to alter the original meaning, and you would normally only use square brackets in relation to a direct quote(in quotation marks) where you had a need to alter the quote i.e. for grammatical purposes etc.       

I'll take your word for it about the point you were trying to make,  it's the constant backhanders to anyone with ADHD that wear a bit thin.

You asked me once if I was your EX, I wonder if you feel we  ADHDers are all your EX?     


Jon, you get a kick out of the debate, I see.  I hope your love life does not go this way....a winner and a loser in every confrontation.    Lynnie has taken your bait to spar but she is good at it herself.  I applaud you both for not retreating into self reflection and look forward to vulnerable rhetorric looking closer into the minds of all.  You have shown us much about the back and forth of spouses in ADHD.  It is helpful.  DH would like to have the on-going verbal sparring that I believe he thinks is THE attraction and glue for all marriages.  If he were working harder on the things that would REALLY show me he is capable of love and caring and responsibility, I would gladly take part in the merry verbal darts he likes to throw and sling some great witty retorts his way with a smile and some sass.  However, the foundation of a strong trust and faith are not in place in our relationship.  So his verbal sparring attempts seem "out of place" and a little dangerous to me.  And I feel like a fool for taking part in "defending" myself from his "half truth jokes" because he is not willing to converse sincerely. 

Yes Jenn,  I believe you are

Yes Jenn,  I believe you are correct.  You misread me though if you think it about winners and losers.  It is about getting at the core of the issue rather that all the gumf that often surrounds it. I am delighted to be outmaneuvered  in a discussion because  I walk away feeling I  learned something.    My love life is certainly not about winners and losers,  my wife is always ready to challenge me when she feels the need, and it is one of the things I most respect about her.  I have learned a lot about a great many things this way, she has a feisty intellect that keeps me from sloppy thinking.  

I  also am genuinely not seeking a fight or a confrontation ( I tend to try and avoid these in life)  what I am doing is challenging so that *if* there is a well reasoned rationale that I am missing then I see it as an opportunity to gain an insight into something I have not considered.  

 It is true that I can be sometimes harsh on unfounded generalisations, if only because I want to understand if there is reasoned thought behind it or whether it is simply prejudice.  I cannot help but challenge prejudice, it is nothing but sloppy thinking that should be called out as such. 



I think you just like to argue Jon -- maybe for the adrenaline rush? I really don't care for it -- had enough with 2 of my exes and several of my relatives. As I have said before, my posts are intended to support women who are in possibly abusive relationships who may be getting the wool pulled over their eyes, as I was. Thanks for the backup, Jenn.

Well it is of course your

Well it is of course your prerogative to think whatever you like.   But fro what it is worth you would be incorrect.   On the other hand you seem to like making gross generalisations with little in the way of rationale to justify them, and I don't care much for that either, but in the end it will doubtless continue and  hey that's life. 

The thing is that advise has most value when one can show demonstrable success in the personal application of it themselves, so if your given expertise is in escaping abusive relationships then it probably has great value, if it is about making things work, maybe not.    The original post in this thread was certainly not about  the NoN ADHDer escaping an abusive relationship was it?       


Pbartender's picture

These aren't the sweeping statements you're looking for...

Jon, you're seeing a problem where there isn't one.

Lynnie didn't make any sweeping statement or generalization. 

She said she heard lots of stories about ADHDers who refuse to change, because they are happy enough with the status quo even if their spouse is unhappy.  She admited that it's anecdotal -- albeit rather well-documented anecdotal -- evidence.  She never said that all ADHDers do this.  She most certainly wasn't trying to put blame on me for not changing.

Furthermore, what she's describing is not endemic to ADHDers.  It's a well documented characters of co-dependent relationships in general.  Alcoholics, for example, are notorious for this sort of relationship...  One person in the relationship behaves badly and then manipulates the other to let them continue that bad behavior, meanwhile the other person selflessly and submissively accepts the blame and enables them.

She did say my non-ADHD wife seem to displaying the same behavior that she has heard about in many ADHDers (Rosered also said the same thing right above, and others have mentioned it in regards to some of my other posts).  She suggested that my wife may be "happy enough" with the current situation and is controlling things to keep it that way.

She said nothing wrong.  Relax a little...  You're arguing against something she never said, or even implied.

With regards to ultimatums...

I am improving myself for my own sake and for my kids.  As I said above, I am happy with the direction I'm headed.  I feel more like "myself" than I have in years.  But I'm not happy with the relationship with my wife.  It's stagnated in a not-happy place, and it's infecting my efforts for improvement.  Something needs to change.  It's that simple.

Most ultimatums don't work out, because the people giving them don't think through the consequences of what happens when the people receiving them refuse.  And when the ultimatum is refused, they don't have the guts to back up their threat and actually go through with it.  My wife giving me an ultimatum without thinking it through is exactly what put us here in the first place.

I've thought this through carefully, and now I'm getting second opinions on it.  I'm ready to reconcile, I'm ready to let her go, and I'm ready to leave.  And I know what it'll take to see each of those through.

This is me giving her one last chance to make her decision one way or the other.  If she won't make the choice, then I will.




The problem with them, is that they seldom result in the outcome you want.  Have you tried writing a letter to her, expressing your concerns?  She can't run away, and chances are, she'll read the whole thing.  But be ready for a response you won't like.

To me, it sounds like she's angry and full of resentment...nothing you can fix if she's unwilling.

I admire your hard work.  My ADHD spouse didn't do squat. I left.  I am seeking professional help.  Blah, blah, blah.  It's definitely not easy.

Best of luck...

Pbartender's picture

$#!+ or get off the pot...

So, I talked with my counselor about this yesterday.  In so many words, she pretty much echoed Rosered, Dazedandconfused, Sherri and Lynnie...

She thinks that DW probably made a threat (separation/divorce) without really thinking through the consequences, and without researching what would actually have to be done to carry out that threat.  Her stubbornness and pride has made her unwilling to back down from that threat, but she's also unwilling to act on it because she's either "happy enough", as Lynnie says, with the way things are, or because now, after she's already made the threat, she's begun to understand the consequences and is afraid to follow through.

Knowing my wife, that's probably a pretty reasonable assessment.

So, she won't move forward and she won't step back.  I don't think that will change, unless I force the issue.

As soon as I can manage to keep her in one spot long enough for a private conversation, it'll be done.



Pbartender's picture

Looks like it's going to be Plan B...

Looks like it's going to be Plan B...

She's looking at getting her own place ASAP, and we're working together toward a no-contest divorce in the near future.  Neither of us is interested in arguing over terms, and we're both aiming for what's best for the kids.