I figured out that my hubby has ADHD about three months ago. We're in our early 40s and have been married almost 19 years. While he was initially very resistant to the idea and he still adamantly refuses to get a diagnosis or utilize any type of treatment, I keep sharing info I'm learning... and reels. Oh my gosh! Reels have been the best way to help him learn about ADHD! They're short and often humorous and he can identify with them rather than me, as a neurotypical, trying to explain my findings to him... and he is gradually accepting that ADHD IS something real that he has struggled with his entire life.
Anyway, me learning about ADHD myself has really improved how I interact and communicate with him. I now regularly text him reminders, which heads off him forgetting, thus avoiding me being irritated or upset, and him getting defensive and angry. I have learned to keep my cool and not take it personally when he flares and calmly bring him back to the topic at hand without allowing him to fixate and swirl on one singular point. I don't just walk off anymore when he starts to get angry or unreasonable with me, but stay present and keep talking calmly until we resolve the misunderstanding. Me making small changes in my behavior and my responses to his behaviors has reduced soooo much misunderstanding, tension, and conflict in our marriage. And that part is good.
Unfortunately, now that he's feeling more understood and connected to me, he is smothering the heck out of me. I don't feel understood by or connected to him. I feel like I am the one who has suffered the most in our marriage. He regularly put most of the blame on me for our marital problems over the years, and I received the brunt of his frustrations with himself and others. It wasn't until just a couple years ago, when he finally started making outside friends and realizing they reacted to his behavior pretty much the same ways I react, that he actually started to understand how extensive his role in his poor relationships has been. He's apologized to me many times and makes a conscious effort to be better, but I'm still struggling. I feel like his verbal and emotional abuse over the years have pretty much crushed my feelings for him. I distanced myself emotionally from very early on in our marriage because I couldn't handle the constant hurt from his chaos and destruction, and now I'm suddenly feeling like a cat being squeezed by a toddler who won't ever let go. I don't want to hurt him, but I am not comfortable being super close to him - physically or emotionally - all the time, either. He constantly tells me that I am his "person", but I feel like being his person is sucking the life out of me. I feel like he is happy to let me be responsible for helping him manage his challenges - at least when it involves our family - and regulate his emotions in our relationship. I am the one who keeps calm in conflicts now - which are rarer - but he still runs his mouth in much the same way he used to until I can talk him down. I have become his educator in regards to ADHD and his "therapist", as he frequently wants to talk about his challenges and new discoveries. He tells me all the time how much he appreciates all my help and feels so loved by my efforts, but I feel like our relationship is getting lopsided. I have 20 years worth of my own trauma and disappointment from our toxic marriage and now the discovery of his ADHD (along with RSD, anxiety, and probably other things I haven't learned enough to identify yet) that I'm trying to deal with. And I can't talk to him about anything I'm struggling with. He interprets any attempt I make to set healthy boundaries (for myself) with him as rejection. Sometimes he acts hurt and other times he's outright rude and defensive, and I feel like now that I'm having to regulate myself - more than ever before - AND him, and it's a lot. We (I) tried marriage counseling to improve our communication and I hoped we could discuss, and that I could possibly resolve and heal from, all the ugly things that had destroyed our relationship for all those years. He felt humiliated by it and during the sessions he mostly sat there with his head down and wouldn't say anything. I eventually gave up because we couldn't get anywhere like that, and he just got angry every time he thought someone might find out that we were in counseling.
If you got this far, I guess I appreciate just being able to vent my frustration and overwhelm. I don't know if these feelings are part of the process and things will get better as time goes on. I can only hope so. He's happy now, but I'm just tired and I'd really love a long break from all of it.