I'm non-ADHD, feel like I'm losing myself because I'm trying to accommodate my ADHD spouse

Hi everyone, I'm never posted on any online forum before, but I need help so much and I don't know where else to turn. I've been with my partner for 14 years now, and he was diagnosed with ADHD last year. I did some research on the topic, and I realized that so much of his behaviours, good and bad, stem from his ADHD. It's really helped me understand him better, and our doctor recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which he agreed to try. We couldn't afford CBT, so he tried going to a regular psychologist instead, and the experiences were so bad, that he's sworn against trying any kind of therapy again.

The reason he was even willing to try therapy in the first place was because the stress he undergoes in a very dysfunctional workplace exacerbated his ADHD so much that he's been on extended sick leave twice in the past two years. He doesn't feel that he can leave this job, and he doesn't like it when I bring up his ADHD at all when we argue or have communication problems, or talk about his problems with authority at work, because he feels like doing so is "an excuse". He is angry all the time -- whenever he drives, when he plays hockey, when he watches TV, when he plays video games, it doesn't matter, he judges everything and everyone so much. He says that the world is screwed up, and that if only people "made sense" (which means if they did things they way he thinks they should be done), then he wouldn't get so frustrated. He says he thinks people at work are out to get him, and the only thing he can do is defend himself, loudly and constantly, so that they know not to mess with him. I'm afraid he'll get suspended, or fired.

As his partner, I'm afraid that if he goes on sick leave again - and he likely will, since all the stress is making him behave in a volatile, explosive manner, so that he attacks me if I do or say anything he interprets as "disrespecful" to him - that I won't be able to handle it again. I nearly left him the second time, he was so mean and angry with me all the time. And I couldn't talk to him about it without taking the blame for his outbursts - because I caused him to get angry you see. When I try to tell him how what he says and does hurts me, he gets very defensive, and says that now isn't the time for me to start telling him how "horrible a person he is" -- all I'm telling him is how I feel, but he doesn't see it that way -- he says it's code for blaming him for my oversensitivity. Even though it's his behavior that starts it! I start by speaking calmly, but he hurls insults and jibes, he uses sarcasm, says that he's tired of people like me and his terrible boss who just take advantage of him, who don't speak in words that make sense. Then he tries to convince me -- and he is a very, very, very good debater -- that me feeling hurt is wrong, because there isn't a bonafide reason for it. So instead of me trying to talk about my feelings, it turns into how I'm the one who's wrong, and I should feel guilty for bringing this up, because there's no good reason for me to blame him for any of it.

I'm so confused - at this point, my only other option is to just take it and say nothing. I already admit blame more than is due me, just to get him to calm down and maybe talk and listen to me without shouting and insults. How do I bring up issues I have with his behavior in a way that will make him listen -- not agree, but listen, without getting so defensive? Sometimes he even throws things, breaks things, and then tells me to shut up because he can't take it anymore. Basically, he doesn't believe that any of the problems in his life -- his work problems, my problems with his behaviour -- are related to him at all. He says he doesn't understand what I'm saying, that I "don't make sense".  Please, please help me -- how do you talk to an ADHD spouse about behaviours you don't like without them turning on you? I can't put up with his behaviour anymore, sometimes I just swallow the anger and apologize, like it's my fault, when I know it's not, just to avoid a fight. Sometimes I think he wants to fight. When's he's angry, it's always for a good reason, he believes. And we talk about it like it's a real issue, because I care about what he feels. When I get angry, he says I'm just crazy, and it's not a real issue because he doesn't think it is. I don't want to be a doormat anymore. Is is possible to have this kind of conversation with an ADHD spouse?

All I could think, reading

All I could think, reading your post, was "sigh".

I couldn't talk to him about it without taking the blame for his outbursts - because I caused him to get angry you see. When I try to tell him how what he says and does hurts me, he gets very defensive, and says that now isn't the time for me to start telling him how "horrible a person he is" -- all I'm telling him is how I feel, but he doesn't see it that way -- he says it's code for blaming him for my oversensitivity. Even though it's his behavior that starts it! I start by speaking calmly, but he hurls insults and jibes, he uses sarcasm, says that he's tired of people like me and his terrible boss who just take advantage of him, who don't speak in words that make sense.

Yes, yes, yes. Amen sister. If I typed out the sentence "this is very common and happens a lot" 1000 times it would not stress enough how important it is for you to GET this. It is NOT about you. It isn't about you being overly sensitive. It isn't about there being no bonafide reason for your feelings. It isn't about how you're approaching him. It isn't about YOU.. AT ALL. This is a coping mechanism that is deeply ingrained in them that causes them to A) deflect blame to avoid feeling shame for their behaviors B) deflect blame to avoid admitting that they are, in fact, their own worst enemies and PART OF THE PROBLEM C) deflect blame in order to avoid admitting that they need help D) become defensive so they can protect themselves against another 'attack' from us (yes, telling them they did something hurtful IS an attack in their minds) and E) if they keep saying it over and over again eventually they will believe that the issue is ours, that we are overly sensitive, and they learn that it is a means to an end. He deflects, you feel bad, you apologize knowning you aren't wrong, and he wins. I've heard the phrase "why would you start in on me now?" or "now is not the time to start your shit" or "why do you always have to kick me when I'm down" because there as NEVER and I mean NEVER a good time for me to say "I miss spending time with you" or "we need to talk" or "can I explain something to you?" or anything that even hinted that 'feelings' were about to become the topic of discussion. NOT happening. If I discussed something neutral, like issues with the kids, just wanting some support and input...he didn't get mad or deflect, just changed the subject completely.

What I started doing instead was asking myself why his behaviors made me feel so bad, why did I always react with anger, and why did I continue to try and 'fix' him when it was obvious it was not within my abilities to fix anyone but myself. The only place I know to tell you to start, since he is in denial city (along with my DH) is to start with YOU. You need to know why you've accepted this kind of cruelty as 'normal' and why you continue to swim upstream against the 100MPH current. Once you start working on YOU and take his ADHD and his issues off of the table for a while, then everything seems to just have a way of making so much more sense without a 10th of the effort. Your post is about how emotionally unhealthy you are as much as it is about how his ADHD is out of control. You cannot change or fix him. But you can give yourself an emotional break and work on you for a while. (((HUGS)))


What is 'normal' for me now, and behaving like my ideal self

Your post is about how emotionally unhealthy you are as much as it is about how his ADHD is out of control.

I'd never really looked at it that way, but to see it written down, I know now that I've always suspected as much. When I really sit down and think about it, and try to communicate the essence of how I feel in one sentence, it's this: I'm afraid of him. Not that he's going to physically hurt me, but I'm afraid of what he'll say, or more specifically, how bad or guilty I'll feel because of what he says. I want to learn how to detach myself from his comments, and I think the reason why being told I'm uncaring, or thoughtless, or oversensitive gets to me so much is because deep down I wonder if it might be true. But it's him saying it, when he's frustrated, and I should work on my boundaries, which I realize now are pretty much non-existent.

The hardest part will be changing my reactions to his behaviours, figuring out what to tell myself when I feel the anger and resentment starting to boil over. I know there is a degree of adaptation required to keep relationships going, but I know that I've compromised too much. A good start will be, as you say, not letting him make the issue mine. Not believing him so readily, when he criticizes my actions or my reactions to things. Separating my sense of who I am, from who he thinks, or says, I am. Agreeing to disagree about who I am as a person. I was definitely more confident in myself as a person before I met him; self-doubt and self-recrimination have become my new 'normal', and it's just not acceptable.

I've often wished, oh, if only he'd go to therapy, things would be better. But I'm starting to see now that maybe therapy would be a good thing for me!

MagicSandwich's picture

The art of detachment from insulting comments

Hi Maedi,
I really believe that trying to detach yourself from his poisonous comments – working to suppress your reaction to them is very unhealthy. It means expending an inordinate amount of energy to become flat, dull & non-responsive. It means becoming an emotional table top. Sticks and stones, right? Wrong.

Words hurt. They wound. Over time the insults and manipulations will do a number on you and the damage will occur whether or not you react to the verbal abuse. So let’s be clear, his ADHD is the problem. His hurtful words are the problem – not your reasonable reaction to them. Please do not seek therapy to learn how to better absorb and detach from what’s really happening. A lot of ADHD-ers live in their own heads. They steamroll and abuse people with or without being entirely cognizant of it. It’s very common for those of us who have sustained the wicked put-downs and demoralizing rants to be told, “Your accuser says you are overly reactive but it’s all in his head. It’s not about you. It’s his problem. ”  Right. It's not about you and it's his problem. Feel better?  No? Of course not. The abuse is happening to you – therefore it IS about you to that extent. 

Your boundaries that you assume to be non-existent are actually right there where they should be, and the evidence of this is your fearful reaction to being taunted and put-down. Maybe this will sound cold and without hope, but its logic will lead you to the true path of stability and happiness: The only way to non-react to verbal abuse is for it not to happen in the first place. Therefore, he can either stop verbally abusing you, or you can remove yourself from his influence by leaving. 

People in your life should be nice to you. They should show you common courtesy and respect. You know how L'Oréal's advertising slogan goes, "Because I'm worth it"? Well guess what? You really are worth it. And don't let anybody convince you otherwise.

Live in happiness.


Respectfully disagree about detachment

I will start by saying that I am not really what I would consider a victim of verbal abuse. When we fight, we REALLY fight, and so many things have been said that are unable to be taken back. However, in general my DH is not mean or ugly and does not on any regular basis say mean and ugly things to me.

When I say that his accusations are ugly insults aren't ABOUT her, I mean that they aren't in any way a reflection of who she is as a person. Most likely her DH is the only person in the world that says these things to her. I say detachment isn't only helpful, it is VITAL..unless and until you (or I, or anyone else) chooses to physically leave the situation. I don't like to give that advice to people because A) it doesn't help, B) no one leaves until THEY are ready, and C) it tends to cause people to feel even more isolated and weak when they cannot bring themselves to do what others see as the 'obvious' solution. GETTING that what he's saying is a manifestation of his untreated ADHD and not most likely a true reflection of how he feels about her does not make it hurt less or make it any less of a problem that needs desperately to be resolved, however there has to come a time when you say "this person is sick and I won't let their disorder destroy my life or cause me anymore emotional stress than absolutely necessary" that is what detachment does. It helps you cope until you get healthy enough to leave or they get healthy themselves and stop the hurtful behavior.

And Boundaries can be there, we can know what we want and how we want to be treated, but until there are ramifications for those crossing them then they are completely useless. Having them and having the courage to enforce them is a completely different beast. Ideally his verbal abuse would stop...or she would leave...but how about in the meantime? I can understand that verbal abuse is NEVER OK and should NOT happen...but how does "it shouldn't happen in the first place and if it does then you should leave" help? Detachment IS possible and VERY helpful and it is NOT about "absorbing" anything...it is about accepting that you cannot control the actions of others around you, but you can control your own reactions and I would even argue that anyone CAN stand in the face of verbal abuse and be able to not be destroyed by it...if they can detach and let the abuser be responsible for their own actions. Being afraid of them is another whole issue in itself. If someone is afraid, to the point that they could not detach without fear of being hurt, then I would argue that leaving would be the best option. No one should live in fear of another...no matter what the circumstance.


Try to make him aware instead of detaching

I agree, detaching or finding a way to not let it bother you is not the answer. They need to be held accountable and they need to be made aware. I have said, over and over and over, even going off topic, to "take it back", or "you had better rephrase that", or "do you mind thinking about what you just said and fixing it", or " please find a nother way to say that" - i will absolutely ruin the conversation if it becomes belittleing or condesending. The quicker I do that and the quicker he fixes it, the better off we both are. I need to do this for my self. It's not mean, it may come off a little rightous, or sometimes condesending, or be right back belittling, but the "awareness" of the tone and the words directed at me need to be respectful. If I have to bite my tongue - while trying to deal the the repetitive things that drive me absolutely batty, then he can at least show the same respect when he is angry. You know what the sad thing is? It's when I call him on the "condesending, or defensive, or uncalled for comment" and asking him to rephrase or take it back, he just gets stumped... He has absolutely no idea how to rephrase or fix or even apologize in the "moment". When he is finished trying to think, he will ask or I will then have to give him a couple examples of rephrasing or non-defensive comments.... His brain shuts down at accountability, or stress, or if I yell. It's all hard. It really is all about taking care of you too. If he isn't aware, then he doesn't "know" what he is saying and all the things coming out of his mouth will mean nothing to him, but will mean everything to you. You gotta stop the cycle.

That is fine, when you're

That is fine, when you're dealing with someone who wants to be accountable or who is willing to 'work with you' but not all of us have that scenario and we are somewhere between wanting to hold on just a little longer and give them time to 'get it' and walking away. Do we go insane and stay 'attached' to the chaos in the meantime, no. I am LIVING PROOF that detachment works and that asking them to 'rephrase' isn't always an option because it isn't always words that hurt, sometimes it is actions. I do not let him do things that I feel are deal breakers without saying to him "I really hope you reconsider that behavior" but I do not have to let it destroy me in the meantime trying to fix everything I feel is 'wrong' with him. I had to detach also because I WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM and as long as I stayed detached, I remained angry, bitter, and resentful. I don't think this is a disagreement on whether to detach or not, it is simply a misunderstanding of what detachment is. Until you manage to detach, it is very hard to imagine it. It has saved my life, I am in the same marriage, same problems, same financial issues, same everything...except my attitude about it all changed. I finally realized I cannot control him and I stopped trying...and I focused my power where it is used best...on ME. He can get in a bad mood, stomp around, mope, flail, and all of the other things he does...and although I love him and don't like seeing him that way, I don't follow him and let his emotions dictate mine. Nor do I let his behaviors dictate how I feel about myself. THAT is detachment. Not becoming a doormat or sponge...or standing by and letting him run all over me. As a matter of fact, he is MUCH kinder and more cooperative and is actually TRYING now that I have detached and quit letting his ADHD control me.

I wasn't replying about

I wasn't replying about behaviors, i was speaking about "words". I was actually answering the person above your response, not yours. I know and appreciate your story and my answer would have been different had I been responding directly to you. No one said my way was easy, in fact, it's harder than detaching and walking away. I know this because I have done both. There have been times where it makes things worse and makes him more angry, but he knows I am listening to every word that comes out of his mouth while he has "no idea" what is coming out of his mouth. After time, he respects it and feels bad about it and tries not to do it anymore. Again, we know your story. We know your predicament, so this could be helpful to someone else. If it isn't a workable solution for you, just know that it may be helpful to someone else who hasn't tried this yet. I am very happy that your way is working for you. Great job.
MagicSandwich's picture

The hate gets through

Yes hello there PJL, I agree. I really believe there is no such thing as not letting it bother you. The disrespect and hateful words still inject poison whether or not we've achieved detachment. I've also dealt with the stumped disrespectful ranting man that cannot dial it down. I remember the rare occasion when an apology was mustered; I usually came away from it with the burden of owing him. It was, "OK I'm sorry, but you have issues too," followed by a disordered retelling of something I had done in the past that upset him, or a completely made up story if he couldn't remember a recent fault just then. Folded arms was the cue for me to apologize to him for my past transgression (real or fiction) that of course had nothing to do with the situation at hand. But in his head he felt that because he "gave" me an apology for being a real a*hole, I had to "even things out" between us by giving him one in return even though I had not done anything to warrant it. If I became upset about this pattern, anything I said was seen as retaliation which he would then cite as a good enough reason for getting nasty and aggressive all over again. Crazy stuff. 

Cheers & all the best

I have lived your scenario to

I have lived your scenario to the T! When he tries to turn it back on me, I finally say "we are not talking about me", or "what I did", or "my part in it". There is no easy way to get out of that spot. That is when the some fancy talking of appreciation of his acknowledgement can come into play. "I know this was hard for you, and I really appreciate your apology, I hope we can now move forward, and not go back to this again." if he keeps twisting, or adding things, keep the discussion back to the "topic", then acknowledge the apology again, then acknowledge any part we have in it, then when he is still mad and expecting an apology, you could acknowledge with, "i absolutely would apologize if I felt I did something in "this" very situation to warrant it" (not something from a month ago or a year ago). Then a "we need to move forward" from this now. And keep moving forward... Don't go back. It's hard when they are in the "manic" state. There is no easy out. But..., if you can get out without doing what he does, you are one step closer to helping to teach him how to have a grown up conversation/disagreement. I have done this many different ways over the years, some have worked some haven't, but he knows that I will not accept his hurtful or spiteful comments without acknowledging his uncalled for comments. Yes, it is a rough ride, but, I don't mind eating a tiny bit of crow to get him aware. I have been on this ride for 14 years. The rants are worse when he drinks. I don't engage any longer if he has a drink. When he hasnt been drinking, then I can focus on the defensive, disrespectul, denying, comments. Sometimes he "see's" how disrepectful he is, And sometimes he doesn't, but he knows I am done! i am finished with just letting it go because he is louder and bigger than me. I am done! No more. it can't get any worse?! If he gets physical, then he's out or the kids and I are out. I will not allow my children to live in an environment that is so negative or condesending. We all have our breaking points and I have met mine. We have done it "his way" for over 14 years, now it's time to try it "my way" or try a "different way" than his old way. The madness must stop and there needs to be a DEMAND for mutual respect. We are going about it with professionals. We are not doing it alone. I really feel for you. There is no "off" or "done" or "calm down" button in the moment with them sometimes. However, changing it up - by focusing on the disrectful comments - sort of - difuses it.... "I would love to talk to you about " the problem" but, if you continue to talk down to me then I need to stop until you can talk about the "the problem" without attacking or focusing on me. You know what is funny now? he uses this on me sometimes when I go off topic!! It has gotten to the point where he will step up when I behave badly and I use it when he starts to behave badly... And i have found, i learn to respect him more each time he does it. : ). This is not an over night hurdle, this has been worked on for a very, very, very, long time and we both mess up, but it has helped quite a bit!! No argument gets near as bad as the ones we used to have years ago.
MagicSandwich's picture

How do they know you've had enough

Hi there PJL, 

So here's the thing I've been wondering over lately. You say, "he knows I am done! i am finished with just letting it go." What are the signals you use to let him know you're done? After I decided I'd had enough of the ADHD tirade-a-thon I sent out a variety of "ok I've had it" signals to no avail. Eventually I found something that did work (mostly) when the aggression crossed my boundary line. 

1.) First I stopped talking completely. 

2.) Then I made absolutely no eye contact whatsoever.

3.) Finally, I got up and walked away. 

This might sound like an endorsement of petty silent-treatment to people who do not have an understanding of ADHD in an intimate spousal setting. It's not easy to describe what it is to be centered in the cross-hairs when an ADHD-er has gone beyond the point of no return in ranting and misconstruing everything. Anyway, this seemed to get the message across at the outset & helped put a stop to the re-visiting of the situation so he could retool it to fit his meandering version of reality.  


Hi Magic....hmmm

I have done all of the above.  I really depends on MY state of mind... When I have been in a calm state of mind... I can spell it out.   I let him know we are getting no where.  I am able to verbally "go from point A to point B to point C" showing how the conversation has gone from "thing to thing to thing" and is just spinning in circles.  In my calm state... I can say calmly "this has gone far beyond a resolution and we need to stop."  IF he can stop, then the conversation stops... Then, if he can't stop... I have been known to sit there with my arms crossed saying "I'll wait"... And eventually it goes to a "what do we do now"  type of format and everything calms down... Where we can then move forward with "how can we avoid this in the future... Or  "I know now not to "problem" and next time "you will know about  "problem".    That is rare, and he seems able to hold that format lately....   Since seeing his adhd counselor - he doesn't even argue with me anymore... He just listens.  It totally shocked me at first. Now, he is getting a little more feisty... Now, if I am not calm, and if I feel myself losing it, I try to get a grip.  But,  if I get to the point where I am so utterly frustrated and exasperated by his comments and accusations.... then That is where I start with the "take it back", my arms get folded, his statements get mean, and I tell him to rephrase his "comments" or "take them back". He loses "focus" and will either say more mean things or he will throw up his arms and say "you aren't listening to me!"...  This seems to irritate and frustrate him enough to stop.  He has lost his train of thought.. He'll be madder that his train of thought has stopped, but the argument is basically over and I think a touch of awareness starts to creep in.  That is where I can say "it's not necessary to attack me to talk about our problem. I don't appreciate it and I will not tolerate it.  You owe me an aoplogy!"  sometimes it works... It's almost like you have to distract him "off the topic" to get them out of attack mode.    I distract with a kind of "i will not allow you to talk down to me" stance. I have heard other people disagree with this type of stance, but if I don't stick up for me or take care of me, then who will? There is no need for it. It doesn't solve anything. When I said "I was done this summer". I actually told him i didn't care if he got his stuff together to go live elsewhere.  That is when he said he was going to "fix this!" (not right away of course). So, I have been slowly thawing out from my deep freeze.   There is this rational side of me that can really think and "see" what is going on and then this other side, complete frustration, exasperation, exhausted, defeated, overwhelming "what did I do to myself!" feeling comes over me and I just go limp.  My mind starts in survival mode and I think of how much longer do I need to tolerate this or how much longer can I do this without my head exploding in to tiny pieces.  I hear everyone say how much they love, love, love their adhd spouses and Sometimes I think I have lost that "over the top" feeling. I'm sure it's there, but I lost me in the process and I can't stand to see the person looking back at me in the mirror.  Do I really have enough caring in my heart to fight my way back, or is it too far gone... In order to continue, I need to see progress.  We just had the same argument we have had for years... And he is insulted.... I have awakened another day, for another argument of the same. just like groundhog day.... A repeat performance... A repeat defense. A repeat condesending beginning... And He stopped it.  He is wounded and I am not quite regretful.  Just irritated that he couldn't just say - "yeah, I made some pretty poor decisions in the past and I'm not too proud of it" instead he said "you have just insulted me and basically treated me like I was an idiot". To which, my opinion, he didn't quite think his decisions through in the past, or research them, or cared to research them.  it's embarrassing... Instead he chose to defend it all. He chose to turn it on me. And, he hasn't a clue about cars. My dad was a mechanic, And I dabbled in cars for a bit as a hobby. I don't know everything, but I look up and figure stuff out before I do most things.  And - i never, never call names.... So his adhd did that all by itself.  I hope some of this made some sense... If it doesn't, please let me know. I will be trying to figure out the latest problem, i know I could have done things VERY differently. But, when he hasnt a clue and starts to talk down to me.... Well, It's amazing how it all comes back.
MagicSandwich's picture

Serenity now

I hear everyone say how much they love, love, love their adhd spouses too, but there’s idealism and then over here in the light there’s what we call reality. Speaking of reality regarding, ”You have just insulted me and basically treated me like I was an idiot". OMG!

This is my fantasy retort (given the opportunity) to sum up a situation that happened a few years ago: “No it’s not that I insulted you and treated you like an idiot; it’s that I’m angry at you. I’m angry at you because you left my grandmother’s cremation urn in the taxi on the way back from her wake and on top of that, you arrived late to the service and lost the remaining set of our house keys somewhere along the line. And instead of partnering with me to remember the cab number or thinking out loud to retrace your steps back to where you last saw the house keys, you sat there on the front porch & deflected the entire situation by complaining that Grandma died during the coldest time of year and that my family should have had a burial instead of a cremation because the total cost for the cremation turned out to be more expensive, which you insisted was true even though you never saw a bill or spoke to the funeral director. ”

Serenity now.

You sure that wasn't in a

You sure that wasn't in a movie clip? That read like a Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, New York Vacation. Omg! I'm So sorry.


A Country Music song...

Wow that is a terrible way to treat someone you love.

Classic ADD Super-Guilt on the inside of him, but point the blame away to anyone else but yourself because the list of screw-ups is long and adding to the list drops the self-esteem to a new record low.


MagicSandwich's picture

ADHD super guilt

Hi YYZ - Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense - and - it is also an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes they are responsible for that offense. So I guess what I don't understand about the ADHD super-guilt thing is the apparent lack of the emotional experience.  Are they not experiencing remorse at all, or are they feeling it somewhere inside underneath all the denial? Is it an inability to say "Gosh I'm so so sorry," or just a refusal? 

Sorry for the zen overload. :-)

Difficult to describe...

Many times in my case I had no idea something I had done or not done caused hurt to my DW. So when it gets brought up seemingly out of the blue to me, generally after she stewed over it waiting for me to notice, in vain, the blows up at me over it. I was completely unprepared for the problem, not good for an ADDer, suddenly a thousand thoughts racing through the brain but you can't grab the right thing to say. I was afraid to say something to make it worse, because I'll verbalize something and have it misheard. ADDer's look stone cold because we don't see the subtle facial expressions and because of this we can present expressions that we don't intend. This process is so over-whelming it drains the brain and just start shutting down, especially late in the day or at night, the ADDer is tired early and a conflict can make you so sleepy you struggle to stay awake. Talk about guilt... Struggling to say anything AND apparently falling asleep like you don't care. The guilt inside is incredible. Disappointing so many for so long, then suddenly the is a new way you have let someone down. I would try to come up with an explanation, but it sounds like passing the blame and you don't want to be wrong, again, and a defensive posture comes out because of all of this. I can say I'm sorry when I make mistakes, but sometimes when something is brought up in anger and saying "Sorry" seems like not just admitting fault, but More Importantly admitting "Intent to Hurt". This, for me, makes "Sorry" such a hard thing to admit. Do I "Intend" to hurt someone I love?

Since my diagnosis these things are so much better, still difficult, but the meds help me communicate, be less impulsive, less oblivious to the subtle ques around me and slow my racing thoughts into something I can use to resolve an issue. Hopefully some of my ramble makes sense.


It is worth mentioning that

It is worth mentioning that ADHD affects the part of the brain that controls emotions...so it would only stand to reason that the way things (guilt, fear, anger) are felt AND expressed by someone with ADHD won't seem 'normal' to someone without ADHD. (referencing 'normal' as how us non's experience and express these things).

Guilt is often expressed as deflection...they deflect blame as a coping mechanism. It is easier to blame someone else than to admit you screwed up yet again. This isn't to say they don't FEEL the guilt, in their own way, but it usually just goes into the 'I'm such a loser' file and adds to the already shattered self-esteem. On top of that, as the 'loser file' grows, the more they are convinced that NOTHING they do will ever be good enough and they are essentially paralyzed by the guilt. No sense in trying, it will only result in more disappointment. Fear of failure is a very common thread among ADHDers and this fear is, I feel, often far worse than we can comprehend. We (non's) have the ability to see failures as a lesson learned and just move on. ADHDers don't.

*my personal experience* I don't think it is a lack of the emotional experience, it is just an overwhelming fear of DEALING with it. I do know there have been times when my husband did not seem to be able to feel remorse, but it was during those times that I was pushing him HARD for validation of the pain he had caused. As with almost anything, the harder I push the more resistant he is to give it. It is very difficult to get someone who is stuck in ADHD denial to seem remorseful or admit their fault in the marriage problems. I think there have been periods of time, when my husband's ADHD is most out of control, where he is in such a strong state of denial that he does not have remorse for what he does...not long enough to stop doing it, anyway. Eventually, the walls come crumbling down and he's left with the harsh reality of what he has done and then and only then does he hold himself accountable. After the damage is done. That's the b!tch of it all. I think these 'phases' (where they can convince themselves that making any given decision is OK) can last 2 minutes (impulsive spending) or 2 months (having an affair). From the outside looking in, I feel my husband is as incapable of experiencing and dealing with emotions as someone who is 10 years old. I mean that with all due respect, and I do think it is ADHD related in his case...but he just completely checks out when a circumstance arises that you would invoke a strong emotional response in most people (losing a parent=pain, impending birth of a child=fear/responsibility, losing a job=fear). I think he may feel these things, but gets so overwhelmed by their intensity that he simply cannot handle it and shuts down...OR copes in very destructive ways. (cheats, self-medicates, withdraws completely) He cannot just feel them, pick up and move on, and trust that in time the intensity will lesson.

Just my theories and viewpoints.

Maybe that is why my husband

Maybe that is why my husband totally shut down and won't even look for a job. He can't deal with the pain of losing a job he loved so he shut down.

The question is, what do you do about it? Our situation is not supportable. We can not survive with no one having a full-time job. He will be homeless and I'll be the grandma mooching off my grown kids. What do we (he and/or I, together or separately) do to get out of this impasse? It isn't a matter of not being happy. We just will not survive if he doesn't start to function. How can I help make that happen?

You are sure doing your homework, Sherri...

One of my DW's biggest complaints over the years is some sort of "Reaction" from me. She gets them now and I think she has a bit of the "Be careful what you wish for". She does not have the upper hand in the verbal conflict department anymore, not to mention I stay way more calm than she does because I can think through situation and respond with a clarity I never had before. I definitely do not display emotions in a way you would expect. I feel the emotions, but show very little as I feel like I have to force it and it seems fake to me.

I was very emotional as a kid and made fun of because of it. The worst of all the bullies was my step-dad. His favorite thing to call me was "A Big FAT Sissy". I cannot fathom calling a child a name, much less one like that... I had 10 years of being called names and embarrassing him as a "Son" because I was terrible when I attempted sports, but was a great musician, good at build models, I loved to read, and I beat him at any game involving strategy. (Drove him crazy) He bullied me for the last time when I was 13, I cried, then got a rage you would not believe and I vowed to Never show weakness again. I have cried 2 times since that day. I realized my emotions gave too away to people and my new seemingly opposite to what you would expect reactions threw people off balance. It was my first and best coping mechanism. I never sought confrontation, but was ready for it and watching the frustration on the instigator's face made me more confident by the second. This lead to the previously mentioned "Grin"... My step-dad did not get to see my 14th birthday, as he was caught cheating a month later by my mom. Looking back, knowing what I now do about ADD, he was SO Totally ADD. Very Smart, Slick "Car Business", he always had a job, but we were always moving because of changing jobs. Verbally abusive, impulsive and a total womanizer, but did not get caught until after the 10th anniversary. (HeHe ;) I probably drove him crazy because he knew he was just like me confident on the surface, but feared being discovered... Sorry to spin off on that tangent, but in a sense he created what you see today. I would Never be that A$$ to the people I loved though, just to the ones who asked for it ;) 

One thing to note about the lack of normal response. I think my discarding the emotional baggage as it takes so much energy allows my to react to an emergency with calm and purpose. When I was laid-off in July 2010 after 16 years of work in the same profession (12.5 at one company, then moved for big money to the second for 3 years), I was stone cold when I was in the HR office as they explained I was great at my job, but economic difficulties made my position one they could no longer afford, I said okay and assured them when they needed my support I would work out a fair contract price, packed my tings up, got in my car and sat there for 10 minutes, then called my DW and told her, we met at our favorite Mexican restaurant (She was Freaked Out), I drank two margaritas (Over 2 hours), went home and started sending my resume to every contact I had, through email, Facebook, LinkedIn and every tech website I was signed up to. I was at my current job 26 days after being laid off. I knew myself well enough to know that staying active and driven was key. Moping around would have been a disaster for me.



It is worth mentioning by Sherri

Yes, I agree.  This is my husband, as well.  I wish I knew the answer to getting them to just let go with their emotions, good and bad, fear, pain, sadness, loser mentality.  If they would I think they would be surprised how much better they would feel.

Groundhog Day (Great Movie)

You say "We just had the same argument we have had for years... And he is insulted.... I have awakened another day, for another argument of the same. just like groundhog day.... A repeat performance... A repeat defense. A repeat condescending beginning..."

Reverse the roles: NonADDer starts the cycle and you have my house. I've even posted "Groundhog Day" as my example, too... It's a disagreement the we have agreed to dis-agree on, yet my DW still brings it up. Usually when she is having a bad day and somehow from somewhere the conversation "Left Turns" into the "Repeat Cycle". I never get angry about the topic, but I do get angry because she won't let it end. Thrown in my face, again and again. Her anger takes over and she cannot stop it once it starts. I understand all the stresses that lead to these blow-ups, but I wish she could stop ending up firing all barrels at me. The last time it came up, I saw it coming and was simply not going to participate in it again. My DW does not like/let anyone get the last word in, but I gave her nothing on the topic, restated that we simply did not agree, she kept going... I was pretty mad at this point and told her just to "Go away.." I NEVER do this but felt like there was no other option. I did not curse and I NEVER call names, but SHE was Ticked-Off with my "Go Away" resolution. I told her "Nothing would get resolved on this anyway unless we got couples therapy", which I have suggested on multiple occasions. Sherri and I have covered my "Groundhog Day" topic on several occasions and I wish she could read some of Sherri's posts regarding her anger. My DW is a sweet and caring woman to a fault. She never wants to disappoint someone, but this ends up overloading her and stressing her out. Her own therapist even suggested that the only one that gets unloaded on is me. Maybe because of my past ADD inattentiveness and I understand this now, but I am not going to take a beating like the old days. She is used to the old YYZ in "Shut Down" mode where she could say whatever, but now I can compete in the arena and she is not used to it. She still focuses on everyone else, but herself, and is so hard on how she performs not matter how many times I tell her how great she is and that she is way to hard on herself. I probably never said these things before my diagnosis.

I want her to be happy and not angry, but as we all know, I cannot fix her...



Yes, I know exactly what

Yes, I know exactly what you're talking about. Instead of saying "go away" how about trying this..."I know that you are convinced that you know how I feel about this subject, but I am asking you to respect me enough to believe me when I say that I do not feel that way. It is very frustrating for me to know exactly what my own feelings are and to have you insist that they are something different" I think putting it in the most "dummy" terms makes opposition to it impossible. How could she argue with that? How can she, without looking completely insane and irrational, argue with it? And, if this doesn't work...just tell her "I love you. I don't want to fight about this ever again" and physically remove yourself. Go to the bathroom..or go for a walk..but don't tell her to go away. That dismisses her in a way that says "I don't respect you" and the point is not to 'win' by being disrespectful but to say "I love you enough to stop this right now and never to argue about it again because it simply is not how I feel"

My husband is 100% convinced that I feel a certain way or think a certain way about quite a few things that he is simply DEAD wrong about. I'm not arguing with him about it anymore because the only way to prove to anyone that you don't feel or think a certain is through actions. Words will not change a person inherent belief about you. Actions will. I am wondering if your wife does not keep bringing this subject up as a way of either getting reassurances that she desperately (obviously) needs OR to defend her own anger towards you. You insisting she's wrong is reassuring to her...you getting defensive and telling her to go away gives her a 'right' to be angry. You're screwed either way. So just stop arguing with her about it...period. "I love you...I don't feel that way...I'm going for a walk"


My response was created out of utter frustration and it was, of course around 9pm and my medical helper was fading fast (No excuse on my part, just part of the equation)... I knew it was the wrong thing to say, but the topic had nothing to do with her frustrations and was just the easy way to throw anger at me. After my response, she throws the "Do I want a "D" into the mix" and If so, just "Pack my bags and get the "F" out!". I told her I did Not want that, but was not going to keep repeating this argument. I hate these "Pi$$ing Contests"... I disengaged for the rest of the night. I was not going to make anything worse and her anger prevented anything positive from happening.

I'm glad I don't have a bad temper, can you imagine the combo of the Mean/Angry ADDer and the Angry/Stressed NonADDer???

Thanks Sherri :)


Yyz, you absolutely did the

Yyz, you absolutely did the right thing by not taking it. Good for you. Maybe the "d" was her panicking/anxiety and trying to keep you in the "mix". There is that emotional anxiety that takes over and doesn't calm down. Been there, it's an awful feeling. If things can be resolved before that level is reached then all can be avoided. I ate a little bit of crow this morning and so did he, but I just wish I was better. I'm still having difficulty with past vs now. I still get a lump in my throat when i think of going forward without taking all my caution and warnings signs with me. Good for you! You deserve to be valued and respected too.

Thanks PJ...

The next morning was slightly better... She explained that her outburst was due to all the stress she had been under lately and I explained my reactions "Go Away" comment was due to my stresses. We just left it at that.

I really don't think my ADD is a factor to her, as she has told me as much. This is part of our problems because she does not understand ADD. After my diagnosis I shared many things that I read as it related to my life and after a month or so, she simply did not want to discuss it anymore. I know it looked like the next "All about Me", "Easy Out" defense for any/all of my actions. I understand this, which is why I kept educating myself and working on being a better husband. She sees that I get the disorder with the "Easy" fix, which included ending my obsession with food and subsequent weight loss. She is stuck with a disorder where the meds tend to have weight gain as the major side effect.

We are so busy with our 2 girls, one who started high school this fall, that all we do is work all day, rush home to stay on top of the kids activities/homework, then on the weekends more school activities, cleaning house, home improvement repairs that are just one after the other. We have not had a date night in months. We are a machine that works well to complete tasks, but the couple hardly exists... We actually discussed the fact that WE need a getaway, just the two of us, but everyone else seems to come first. 

Believe me, I could tell everyone "I can't help you now, We have plans", but I'm capable of being selfish and my DW cannot stand to be perceived that way, even though it would only be her seeing it that way. Uggggggh.


Plus with all of your work

Plus with all of your work and projects, that took some time away too. We have the exact same schedule. I am very hesitant for date night... I need a buffer... Not quite ready to be reintroduced. I would maybe go to a movie. That would be the buffer and a topic to talk about would present itself. Her self loathing can be quite destructive. I feel for her and her problem with weight. After 40 the metabolism seems to retire and the medicine adds to it, oh boy... I have gained about 15 and never realized how hard losing weight could be...it does a huge deal to the psyche and ego and makes me want to avoid people and places at all costs... This summer was a ton of funerals and i was not feeling good in my outfits. You are really in a tough spot. Unhappy spouses are not easy to be with. : ( I feel for ya.


Your are right about metabolism and combined with self medicating with food, this was one thing my DW and I always had in common. I still like the same things to eat, I just eat a lot less. I certainly understand about feeling terrible in clothes. I had ballooned to over 280 pounds and at 5'-11" I was miserable. I have settled in around 185 pounds for over a year now. It does not help that several people have joked to my DW that I must have lost weight because I have a girlfriend... Geeeeez! 

A movie is a good idea. Too many of our fights begin at dinner, especially if we have had a drink. Things start so well, then things could go wrong. I am just not going to have the Adderall Diet Pill Argument any more. The good news is my DW has strictly followed a doctor regulated diet plan and has lost 20 pounds which has helped her quite a bit. Hopefully a sign of things improving.


Oiey! Girlfriend! I bet

Oiey! Girlfriend! I bet that made her feel lovely and proud for you! Yay, hubby can get a girlfriend when he loses weight - yipee! That IS some incentive! Funny, but not so funny. I can't imagine the sound of deafening silence on a date night. We are not young and excited to "get to know each other" again. I think we have had the priviledge to know some stuff we would we would have been perfectly fine not knowing. The only "safe" place at this point for me would be the "comedy" arena. Comedy show, comedy movie - not soo intimate as the dim lighting, and quiet atmosphere. Maybe try to find something that puts you in a neutral light hearted atmosphere, so even if it does turn towards awkward, you can still end on a good note. And, she may look forward to going out more... I might be up for that - soon. our only glitch is having to find a babysitter. I do not like to "pay" extra for anything. Why pay when I can rent a movie, or why pay when we can all go out. I really have my "I don't want to be alone with you" walls up tight. Movie sounds safe ground for me. Congrats on the weight loss. That is a huge accomplishment. The ability to keep it off has been on you though. That is a great feeling for you I hope you are proud of that. . My sister's husband is add and is struggling with weight... He lost a lot in the beginning, but found a way to gain it all back and more. He must have increased his intake of food? Not sure. He is a great, great guy. Wicked smart and funny. He had a grip on himself and just has to get a grip on the food addiction. Cudos! She is working hard too! Good for her!

The Not so Funny... (Ear-Splitting Silence, with Death Stare)

The "Must have a girlfriend" type comments always come from her co-workers. I used to work at the same company for a long time, so all the old timers know both of us well. The comments are always said "In jest", because everyone sees her as a Very Confident woman with the Rock Solid marriage. This goes back to her fears of being judged or ridiculed, so these guys don't THINK the comments will upset her, but when I here them I just cringe because of the after-affects to come... Thanks for the "Pat On Back" about my battle with the bulge :)  You mention your brother-in-law gaining the weight back... Wow... I wish my DW would actually research ADD and Adderall further than "Side effects include upset stomach and weight loss". Several other ADD friends of mine mention the initial Adderal 20, but then after you get used to the Adderall its effects subside. I was never addicted to any substance other than Food. I've found articles on Obesity and ADD. I've asked my doc if Adderall is a weight loss drug and he says NonADDer's try to get it all the time because the speed will increase the chemistry to higher than normal levels and help them lose weight, but the Adderall "Corrects" my brain chemistry by bringing my brain chemicals UP to Normal levels. To me, I can catch myself in an old bad habit if fresh brownies are around, but for the most part I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. I have been really off for the last few months in my walking regiment due to the massive chaos and projects, but I intend to start again. It is hard not to fall into the emotional eating thing during the roller coaster, but I'm hell bent not to go back to ADD and Obesity. 

We have easy free sitting options with a stay-at-home grandmother, but if my DW senses Anything that might indicate her being inconvenienced, the deal is of ASAP. There are SO many reasons that it never occurs, even on automatics, like anniversaries, valentine's day and birthday's usually include the kids. Really most of my DW not wanting to go out is because there is too much that needs to be done and it would "Look Bad" on her part to go out. (Having un-real expectations of herself because of what others would think) I've got news for her... The List is Never Done... I never used to see the list, unless the item was an emergency fix now, or she would wait and if I never noticed the job that needed fixing/cleaning she would get mad about why She is the only one to notice. This is Not the case any longer, in fact, I have a much better grasp on what can be done and what can wait. The List over-whelms me because I know I cannot ever "Get Caught Up"... I mentioned that we had no real obligations this weekend and she quickly pointed out all the things that have slid because of the Big Projects lately, so I'm out of luck this weekend too, I see already... Ugggh...


Awww... You can always rent a

Awww... You can always rent a movie and have movie night - and, yes, with the kids- the theory here is, after you have seen all the movies to rent, then she may spontaneously recommend a movie night OUT... Jk, you never know. I can admit, I am scared to be alone with him... I thought I was the one who invented "excuses"! Find her weakness... Then try to spontaneously throw it in the mix. There's a step towards "date night." Doesn't have to be night time. Movies are mine. I LOVE the popcorn. We started going to movies as a family last month... It has been the first step for us. We even sat next to each other at the last movie - "Johnny English - with the kids." I really, really wanted to see bridesmaids this summer, but I was SO not in a good place. My dh did lose a few pounds with adderall...i see it all coming back though... I have always been on the lowest end of the BMi chart, it has even suggested I gain weight, but now I am considered within range. Probably in the middle. I have a number that I like and I am 10 above it as of today. Dh has always been over his, doc says his BMI is obese, but he is about 185-190... He's shrinking in height from 5'9" to 5'7 1/2. I'm 5'6" and 135. Ugh! Absolutely Frustrated with myself for not being my number. I did have back surgery last year and am doing extremely awesome. 150% better. So now is the time to "move, move, move" and I am only walking with my neighbor when I have a membership to curves. Not too much motivation, but I KNOW I would be so proud of me if I did it. Still in the pits and still climbing out. I'll get there. i am actually a little relieved I am not fuming all day long anymore. That was a deep dark place. Good luck this weekend! I would love to hear if and when you guys get out there! Take care!

Thanks PJ :)

I did watch a movie tonight at YYZ Cinema 1 ;) My DW go home and within five minutes of how was your day brought up something from the past in an attempt to bait me into another rehash. I Did Not Engage the comment. I did not give any sign of reacting to the comment. Tomorrow is a new day...

5'-6" and 135 after back surgery, good for you! Keep walking, that is a habit I'm going to get restarted.


You've taken a lot of grief

You've taken a lot of grief over this topic...and sadly you're probably got the burden of being the bigger person and walking away. I know you don't want to get angry and say things that simply do not help, but you're human. It really makes me sad that she dismisses your ADD, but I think your theories are probably spot on as to why. Yours is certainly a unique situation where you're GLAD to take responsibility for it and she's not even wanting to hear about it. I still think your best bet is to just remove yourself physically when she brings up this subject. You'll never say anything to convince her...and she's apparently not going to stop bringing it up...and you don't want to fight with her, I am sure. I know there have been times when my DH would just refuse to argue with me about something...and just walk away. I didn't like it at the time, but I respected him more for it. Keep up the good work! :)

Oh..and MAKE A DATE NIGHT! Don't wait until things calm down or you'll never do it.

Thanks Sherri :)

You are right about walking away from it... I think that my main objective was to Not Discuss it because I knew how that movie ends. Poor execution, but I can work on that too. I just hope she will let go of the anger one day. Maybe Date Nights would help... Not having them does not help...


She will...one thing that we

She will...one thing that we all know as a universal truth is that you cannot demand someone respect you and it happen, you have to behave in a way that shows her you respect yourself (and her, too) and you do this not only in the way you act but the way you react. You have to ask yourself...is this about something you're doing wrong (NO) or something she feels about herself being deflected onto you...because you're the easiest target. (YES) Walk away and it sends the message that you are not going to be drawn into 'that' battle again...by telling her to go away you've already been hooked. Ya know? Once she gets no reaction from you for long enough, she'll let it go. You've tried everything else...so time to try something different.



Going silent...

I am definitely going silent on this argument. I felt bad with my calculated jabs. She had totally lost control and I was mad, but calculated each response. My sarcasm can be brutal. I did not cuss or call her names. She is used to having total control in an argument and frankly I had enough of my usual role. I'm used to being wrong or misunderstood when an argument takes place. This time was different. I had been working my tail off all weekend and just simply saw this one coming.

The only problem with going silent is that's like my old shut-down mode. She argued and I was quiet. I guess the difference on this topic is she knows my opinion of the subject, whereas in the past she had to draw her own conclusions about what I thought.

Thanks Sherri...


Can I sneak back into the conversation friend?

Hi Yyz and all, yes Im here though only after an extended break from this web site. You all brought up some excellent points in the past, the biggest being that I needed to focus on myself and not so much my spouse- it was too much crazy making, y'know? And coming here to this site, as supportive as it had been kept me too immersed into the sh%t tbat my life felt like. I miss you all though, and I am sticking my nose back in because i see my friend is having some bigger issues. Yyz, though the advice is excellent, I am reminded of something I read in Harriet Lerner's book, the Dance of anger. Namely- if your wife is angry there is a reason that I feel must be heard. But not, as you rightly point out, at the end of a long and tiring day with the meds wearing off (what a lethal combo, we all know!). Can I suggest one thing? Your wife wants to be heard and though she may be feeling "crazymaking" too, you need to give her some validation and power in her life too (just as you desire it for your own). So how about giving her a written "coupon" that says, "darling- i love you but i can not address your upset at this very moment due to my own stress/ exhaustion- please accept this "coupon" as a promise that we will discuss this issue at a time when i am better able to address it at: (pick specific appointment day and time when you will be fresh). And then keep the promise. The dynamic you are describing is not good- you both need to be heard and respected and some dynamic must be put into place to allow that to happen or the resentment wont ever go away...I will be happy to give an update about me but I was really worried about you my smart and kind friend, yyz. And WHY are you no longer walking?! Back to the exercise my dear!! ASAP!

Absolutely Lulu!

Your coupon idea sounds like a really good idea. I like that... This one particular subject is one that we cannot get through on our own. This subject has been discussed at least 50 times, I swear... A few months ago, number 39 I believe, we remained fairly civil and just decided we would agree to disagree about the topic. We don't have to agree about everything, you know? I suggested on about 5 of these rounds that we could not resolve this topic ourselves and we would need a couples therapy session or two if we wanted it resolved. I really wanted to do this... The Groundhog Day discussion is just wearing me out. It ruins the day or weekend and has the same outcome morning, noon or night. This is a bad cycle. My DW used to plead for me to participate in an argument, now I can do so but if I don't agree or let her get the final word in, the topic will just come back another day. I will just not react angrily when the subject come up again and remind her that we agreed to disagree and if she wants to discuss it we can schedule a couples therapy session. I don't know what else to do.

I am sure glad to see you back, Lulu... I've had some major home improvement projects that have me working most of my weekends and evenings after work, so my walking has been stalled, but be assured now that the Master Shower is complete my regiment will resume :)

I had disappeared for a couple of weeks myself, but here I am back in the saddle again...


arwen's picture

sticking up for yourself when spouse talks down

I totally agree with your "i will not allow you to talk down to me" stance.  I have the utmost sympathy for my spouse's ADHD brain physiology and the real problems it causes for him regarding memory, learning, impulsiveness and so on, and I'm willing to cut him a lot of slack about those things as a result.  But *none* of that makes talking down to me inherently necessary or acceptable or unavoidable or uncontrollable.  OK, if I've behaved in a way that I *deserve* condescension, that's one thing.  If he can explain to me what was thoughtless or not terribly bright about what I thought or said, then there's at least some justification.  But just because he's him, and I'm me, and he enjoys feeling superior????  No way.  That's just plain chauvinism.

And I apply the same standard going the other direction.  If my ADHD spouse does or says something that's a problem and seems thoughtless or not too bright, I don't jump all over him for it, or get all high and mighty -- but I do ask what was his thinking behind it, so I can understand better and determine whether there really is a problem or whether I've just misunderstood, or what.  If it turns out it's no big deal, or a misunderstanding, that's fine, and I admit any mistake I may have made.  But if his answer makes it clear that there wasn't *any* thinking going on at all -- well, then, frankly, he *is* being like an idiot, in the respect that there's not much thinking going on in either my spouse's brain or in any hypothetical idiot's brain.  And I'll be doggoned if I'm going to treat him with respect when he *has* the capacity to think better than an idiot and doesn't bother to do so.  I'll be more than glad to accord him greater respect if he earns it.  I'll be glad to explain to him what I see as the problems in his thinking, or with the lack of it.  I'm more than happy to work with him to use his abilities.  But I have no obligation to pretend that he behaved better than he did, or that it was actually OK -- in my experience, that kind of "let's pretend" is seriously bad juju, that just encourages a distorted perception to the ultimate disservice of all.

I *do* love my ADHD spouse, and because of that love, I've invested time and effort and money in developing a more functional and satisfying dynamic.  But that love does *not* let him off any behavioral hooks -- I make a very clear distinction between what's fair and reasonable in everyday living together and what's part of the loving relationship.  I have *exactly* the same expectations of my spouse in sharing our abode day-to-day as I would any other "housemate", relative or not, regardless of sex, color, creed, etc etc etc -- indeed, as I did of my son when he was living in my home while my husband and I were separated years ago.   To the extent that his brain physiology makes certain tasks much more difficult, I'm totally open to negotiation -- I'm more than happy to let him do something else that's easier for him instead if we can make it work out OK.  But his brain physiology does *not* mandate any particular *attitude* --  there's no more excuse for whining or bullying or any other bad attitude in a person with ADHD than in anybody else, and my love for him does not ever excuse or accept such.

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Totally, totally agree! Hey,

Totally, totally agree! Hey, I said for someone to read your posts and wrote the wrong name! Oops! I will have to clarify. There is so much good on here, and so many good people that I really need to make a list! Cheers!

It all boils down to

It all boils down to detachment and accountability, on both of our parts, as a combination in whatever the issue might be.

How can his behavior and attitude not influence you

Sherri, I wish I could do what you say. But my husband has decided not to work any more. I have only a commission sales job. (If you knew me, you'd know how ludicrous that is-me, a sales person. I couldn't sell water in the desert.) So, of course his behavior influences mine. There are so many things we can't do, so many plans we can't more forward on. His car died before he lost his job, and now my transmission is dying. How will I make it not influence my life if we have to walk everywhere because we have no car? I understand about your attitude changes, but how do you do it when your spouse is doing (or not doing) things that will destroy your life?

Sueann, I cannot honestly say

Sueann, I cannot honestly say that I have ever been in your shoes...but I do know that I would never let anyone destroy my life. I know my DH holds the power, same as yours did, to potentially cause our family some real, serious damage if he was to get fired from his job. Although the thoughts of it terrifies me, I realize that I have no control over it so I try not to spend a lot of time thinking about it. I can say 'I would do this' or 'I would do that' but the truth of the matter is, I don't know because I haven't had him go without work for any period of time. When he did get fired, for refusing to sign a non-compete (we both agreed it would not sign it, even if he got fired as it would have crippled his ability to support his family) I supported him fully and the second time when the market crashed and his industry suffered, causing him to lose another job I supported him the entire 6 weeks he was out of work. I was stressed and terrified, but I never got angry or criticized or blamed him. I have no idea if that played a role in him being very motivated to find employment, or if it is just that he has a strong sense of responsibility for his family, but either way I cannot relate to someone who won't work because I've never dealt with it. I would imagine it is hard to have any respect for his choices at this point. However, I do and always have believed that we have to help ourselves and count on ourselves when the situation arises and the time comes that life dictates it. I pulled myself up out of poverty, had an infant who had seizures daily and was newly diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis, divorced the man who was "destroying" my life, and went to work and made a life for myself and my son. I know what it is like to have nothing and have to start to depend on yourself again...and I had so many hurdles in my way that it seemed impossible...but it wasn't. I worked with what I had and made it work.

Divorce doesn't seem to be an option...so I don't know what else to tell you. The only changes I've ever seen in my husband (for the better) have come as a result of me changing my attitude about how big of a loser he was. It is not your fault he won't work, please don't think I am saying that...but he needs SOMEONE in his corner encouraging him. Does he have anyone?

Since I wrote that...

We had a horrible week of sales. If things are not better next week, I will be out of a job, although the people I work for know it's not my fault. This makes his decision to do nothing even more scary.

I was a housewife for many years. My husband (NOT this one), simultaneously demanded I not work and criticized me for not bringing in any money. I find myself thinking the same things that DH #! said to me about my current husband, but never say them. He knows I love him, but he also has to know this arrangement isn't fair. I don't know what to do about it.

His therapist put him in a depression therapy group and he starts that tomorrow. It meets at 11 am, so there must be a lot of depressed folks out there who don't have jobs.