I'm Never His First Choice...

Hi, I'm new here. I have ADHD myself but find that I relate more to the non-ADHD partners here because I've had my diagnosis for about 10 yrs now & I have been taking the full-on treatment approach for that whole time, so I have learned many ways of compensating for a lot of the challenges the conditions throws out there. Not all, but a lot. :) Anyway, my BF of 2 yrs is just newly diagnosed & is not even on medication yet. (At least he's seen the dr & is willing to get help). He is a very good man, very loving & selfless in many ways, & an extremely attentive father when he has visits & phone calls with his 2 boys, ages 11 & 14, which is one of the main reasons was drawn to him in the 1st place. My own children's father is hardly ever there for them & was not very good to them when we were together either, so loved this trait in him. However. This is a *VERY* sticky situation. As a divorced mother of 3 myself, of course I understand the extreme importance of children maintaining their relationship with their non-custodial parent, (If only my own ex were half as devoted!!) But I have never in my life seen a father so, dare I say, "obsessed" with his children. He sees them 3-4 nights a week, & almost every single weekend. That's AWESOME for his boys, but it leaves precious little time for anything else...especially a relationship. Whenever they call, he drops everything & runs to them, without even stopping to ask me if we had plans, (or he tries to fit everything in & it never works, stressing us all out). I see him maybe once or twice a week, for a couple of hours. He also hunts. The other night, he slept over, after we had only an hour an a half alone (my kids were there). We both had the day off the next day-a rare event. He asked if I minded if he went hunting in the morning. I knew he needed to de-stress & that's how he does it so I said sure. Neither of us had anything else going the rest of the day, so I was hoping when he got home, we'd have some time together. He said he'd be home around 10:45. 11:15 came & he was not home yet so texted him. He said he was on his way. I asked what his plans were for the rest of the day, knowing that he did not have his sons this weekend. He wrote back that he was coming home, going to send out a few emails, & then going to pick up his boys from 2:30-5:00. There goes our day off together with no kids.... When I asked how that came about he told me one of his sons called him while he was hunting & asked if he would pick them up after school. He KNEW I was sitting at home & he didn't even check with me to see if would be ok with him just taking off on me again, he just "did it." So I spent my whole day off, OUR day off, alone.... This happens all the time. I was very upset because we have had a thousand talks about this, especially me feeling like his children rule him & I mean nothing to him, & he tried to reassure me that AM important & he DOES love me but that he didnknow I would want to have time with him that afternoon. WTF??? "That's because you never ASKED! You just said yes to your kids without consulting me! And wanting to spend time with you is a given!" He said he "didn't know that." I've only told him in every conversation we've ever had... What hurts me so badly is that I think to myself, "he says he didn't know I'd want to be with him, but doesn't HE want to be with ME??" And I said that to him. That I am always the one to make a date with him, to pursue time with him. He never pursues ME. How am I supposed to feel loved if I am always being set aside for hunting & his kids & never sought after on his own? :,( This hurts me more than I can convey. I am beginning to lose hope because for the entire 2 yrs we've been together he's said he's been working on this but it never changes. I know I am maybe premature to give up hope because he has not picked up the meds from the pharmacy yet & still needs to try coaching or therapy. But I am just so weary of the hurt that I don't know if we should take a break for a while until he gets some things together on his own for a while? I'm sure he's had enough of my poor reactions to his symptoms as well. Just so sad :(

This one is tough. While you

This one is tough. While you do need time and attention, you went into a relationship knowing that he has kids. You're not his wife yet, and I have to side with his kids. Their his kids. What if he asked you to ignore a call or request from your child? Would you do it? I'm speaking from the perspective of a child that came from divorced parents. Had I called my dad and asked him to do something for me and he told me that he couldn't because he was supposed to be with my stepmother, I would have been horribly hurt. 11 and 14 are two very difficult ages--you've got one who's a preteen and another that's about to start high school. I think it is very important that he spend time with them whenever he can, especially since they are asking. There will come a time where they will not rely on him that much and there will be more time for you. I imagine that time will come soon as the older they get,

I think the issue here is that he needs to re-order his hierarchy. It should be his kids, you, and then any other activities instead of kids, activities, and you. There's absolutely no way you can expect him to delegate a whole day to you when there are kids in the picture. I think most parents would agree on that score. So in effect, you can't be his first choice right now. Choosing has nothing to do with it; it's duty. Should you get married, then he will have to shift his focus to you while still fulfilling his duties as a parent.

It's not that I'm not sympathetic. I'm the non and my hubby is ADHD and it's a fight everyday to get some of his attention. While we have no kids, he has a funky work schedule (3rd shift, weekends only) and is very devoted to playing amateur pool. We can't travel for more than an overnighter during the week because he has no leave. I generally see him for about an hour to two hours a day between work schedules, me going to the gym, and his pool. So I can understand where you are coming from. Perhaps you can sit down with him and explain that you are feeling neglected, but also tell him that you understand that his kids are important. Nonetheless, he needs to be actively working with his ex to cut down on any unnecessary requests. If they have plans already to be picked up after school, then they need to stick with it. Perhaps he can schedule to pick them up on another day. There will be unexpected (and downright annoying) interruptions; I feel you there. It seems like something is always coming up to conspire against me and my hubby spending time together. His disorganization coupled with what I would call simple "bad luck". Sure I get bent out of shape, but I've got to keep things in perspective. A year ago, we weren't even under the same roof and I barely saw him twice a week.

Best of luck to you.

Debidoo973's picture

Thank you for your

Thank you for your perspective. I will keep that in mind. Especially the part about how someday the kids will be gone & at that time we will have more time for each other. I disagree though that just because there is no piece of paper stating that we are husband & wife that that means we have any less of a commitment towards each other. We may never GET married. We have both been burned badly. But we ARE totally committed to each other now. And if you have never had kids, it is hard to understand the full dynamics here. Being a parent myself, I personally believe the hierarchy is spouse (or partner) first, then children, then other things, unless of course the children have an immediate NEED, not just a want. I am a firm believer in children learning to allow their parents to have time (yes, even a full day at times) to rejuvenate and replenish their reserves, ESPECIALLY when caring for one or more with ADHD is involved. It is an absolute necessity. That's what grandparents are for, lol. His kids have been a bit spoiled, & he tends to say "how high" whenever they say "jump," whether it's a real need or just another whim. See, his ex never cared to be involved with them as a family, so for 13 yrs, it was just him & the boys. It has been hard for him to get used to including me, or even letting me know what they're doing. She honestly never cared. I am understanding about this. But at the same time, we've been together 2 yrs now. That's a long time & he should be starting to get used to the "new" norm of what it's like to have a whole family. It's not just him & the boys anymore & never will be again. He also jumps for one of his sons bc that son has a temper & my bf tries desperately to avoid upsetting him. (Wrong, in my humble opinion). Anyway, I thank you again for replying & will keep your advice in mind. Take care, Debi

Different Perspective

I read dazed and confused's response, and, while I agree that your children should be a top priority, I feel that your bf has allowed boundaries to be crossed, and therefore the kids feel it is a free-for-all for their father's attention. Of course, kids will do whatever we let them get away with, and they know that they can manipulate their dad. You, however, being the love interest in his life for two years, deserve a top space in his hierarchy of priorities. Obviously, if it his day with them, or there is an emergency, then that should be the priority, but if it is not, then there is no excuse why he can not devote time to you EXCLUSIVELY. That is not asking too much.

I am sorry to say, I do not see this changing with him, unless the meds suddenly begin to magically transform his mindset. He has bought into this way of life as how it has to be, and the kids now expect it. To change it to a healthy dynamic would involve a LOT of self-awareness, change and firm discipline with his kids for your bf-do you think that is possible? If not, then you know you deserve top billing with your relationship and ultimate marriage, after God only, and should rightly hold out for that.

Perhaps I sound snarky myself, and if so, I apologize, but I have dealt with an ADHD partner making me feel secondary for too long to not understand your plight. This is my plight: "Oh, I know you had a really hard day and I said I would be home at eight for the dinner you made, but the band practice is going to go until whenever, so I don't know when I will be home. Just eat without me. You know this band is really important to me." Translation: His band is more important than ME, when I need him most. 

Listen, I know you love him, as I love my husband, but I must be honest: I saw this behavior from the beginning: AFTER the crazy Honeymoon Phase, of course! It has not changed in five years, and after 6 months of marriage, I am still put on the backburner, and expected to just "understand" when he breaks his word to me. After all, he is the crazy, creative ADHDer, with musical talent...give him some space, right?? LOL. Truth is, my dear, this will not change, unless he is a highly enlightened individual who gets it, and is committed to changing it. If not, you sound like a great person who deserves your man's focus, and I would not settle for less.


Debidoo973's picture

heartfelt thanks...xo

Cbrooks, u have no idea how much your response means to me. It was quite difficult to publicize my post-because it is a very risky subject. "They are his CHILDREN, after all," is what I often hear when I try to discuss this in person...There are few who truly understand like you have, & am extremely grateful! You have hit the nail on the head. Dead center, even. Mark & have had this discussion many times regarding his parenting style & what his children DO now expect from him-and so does his spoiled ex-wife. Whenever she's had enough of the boys all she has to do is text him & boom! There he is at her beck & call, ready to "rescue" the boys from their grouchy mother & be their savior of a wonderful father. And boy, doesn't she know it! She plays this card well and uses it against him also since she has full custody (something she only got by lying to the police that Mark beat her with a deadly weapon in front of the kids-I.E. The bathroom door that she herself was trying to barge in on him with!) How a bathroom door can be considered a "deadly weapon" is beyond me, but that's another story. Anyway, since she knows he is so desperate to see his boys as much as possible, since she quite literally TOOK them away from him, she will use this tactic to get him to say "how high" whenever she says "jump, you can have your boys right now if you want them." She's really just using him because they are irritating her or she wants to go out, but he is letting her manipulate him, just like he lets his boys do to him. But this is changing. I have put my foot down recently. I will not tolerate this pandering to them from him any longer. I broke up with him 2 weeks ago over it. Did not see him or talk for a week. Told him it's basically me or the kids if this is the way things are going to be. I don't deserve it & won't put up with it. I'd rather be alone than be treated that way. He is willing to make some changes. He does see where he has put their feelings above mine. He does not want to lose our relationship! (Thank God!) We have signed up for Melissa's Seminar in April & are also going to begin couple's counseling & also made it mandatory that he see an ADHD coach if I am going to continue in this reationship, because changes have been "promised" before, but you know how long those last without accountability. Thank you again for your understanding. It meant the world to me.


You are very welcome, it is a pleasure to me to let someone know they are NOT ALONE- and not crazy, as some may have you believe(i.e. him) LOL. I could write a book on the heartbreak I have allowed into my life, simply by not acknowledging this and dealing with it before it became ingrained. I saw it, but ironically, blamed myself for pretty much all of our issues, mainly because he said I had the problem, not him; and as a caretaker type, I was ready to accept that, even if false.

I am so very glad that you took a stand with him, and early on, BEFORE a marriage- in order to salvage the relationship, and for it to be what you need it to be: a necessary move. Good for you!! Please keep me updated on your progress.

Those exes can wreak havoc on an already tenuous situation as well-maybe it is possible to insist she stick to a certain schedule only and not text or contact him outside of that? It may take drastic measures, but she obviously needs to be held to firmer boundaries as well, if your relationship is to survive. My cousin has her husband's ex contact him only through their joint email account, and he changed his number. That way, there is accountability, and both of you are in the loop at all times...just a suggestion..?

God bless you and keep your head up...I will pray for you.