Infidelity and ADHD

I will try to be brief. My husband and I have been married for 10 fabulous years ( or so I thought). He is a strong, thoughtful, loving man, a wonderful husband and a great father to our two boys, 6 & 3. Which is why I was completely blown away when I discovered he had been having a sexual affair with my best friend and next door neighbor for 10 months. Yes, I sent him packing and we immediately started marriage counseling. Ou therapist diagnosed my husband with ADHD on their first visit together. It is just so hard for me to say that ADHD made him do it? He now tells me in counseling that he has always had low self esteem and never feels like he can do anything right. I never would have thought this about him as A. He has never mentioned, alluded, acted in any way that he has these negative feelings and B. He is the most cock-sure and confident man I have ever met, which is part of my attraction. I have read books on affairs and adult ADHD but can't find one on about those two subjects specifically. I am at a loss. So on top of dealing with the shock of his affair and the betrayal of my BF, the fact that her and I live literally next door, I now have to try to stroke his ego to make him feel better about himself? I am just so angry and I can't get away from reminders of the affair ( like seeing her or her kids or husband in the friggin back yard or at the bus stop) and I can't figure put how to deal. Tryi g not to lower his self esteem while discussing the affair is extremely difficult. Trying not to hurt him by expressing my anger is also hard. How do you Open the lines of communication to allow him to express how he feels about himself when all I want to do is say "this is your fault and you did it, I'm not gonna try to make you feel better about yourself" but in not so nice terms. Any thoughts? Anything? I am sure I left out tons of info but I didn't want to be to long winded. Thanks in advance

Whew..where to begin. My

Whew..where to begin.

My husband is ADHD. We have been married 13 1/2 years. We had the typical "HIM: You just want to control me! ME: You have no self control!" dynamic in our marriage for many years. We had some circumstances that added a great deal of stress to our marriage and things just went completely out of control. In the fall of 2009 his behavior got so bad that I asked him to leave..little did I know he had started an affair. He left. Long story short, he insisted he didn't want a divorce, but insisted he wasn't cheating..just needed some 'time' to sort through things (his mother was dying when he left, died about 2 weeks after he left). I found out about 2 months later. He begged for my forgivness and wanted to come home. To be honest, I didn't care about making him feel good about himself...what I did care a tremendous amount about at that time was him getting counseling and figuring out why the hell he would ever arrive at the place where he thought it was OK to cheat. There was NO WAY I was undertaking the responsibility for fixing whatever it is in him that made him 'go there'. I flat out told him I didn't trust him, and if he could not accept that then he could leave. He had a lot of hoops (still does, somewhat) to jump through and that there was NO WAY I would know how long it would take for me to trust him again. But, like I said, therapy for him to look deep down inside of himself and figure out what allowed him to think that was his only option was something that was 100% his responsibility. I am right by his side in sessions, but I have made it clear that is one of his issues that has to be looked into.

Having the "H" part of ADHD, means that there is an inherent lack of impulse control. They sometimes cannot see two feet in front of their faces. According to my husband, it took him about 2 weeks to figure out he'd made a huge mistake and the rest of the time he spent trying to figure out how to tell me, worrying he'd lose me forever, and how he'd get out of it with the other woman without pissing her off and her telling me. So he didn't see past the next 2 weeks of his life. He also was at a point where he blamed me for 100% of the problems in our marriage. As one of his friends told him, he had everything he needed at home to be happy...but it was much easier to just find someone who didn't know him, didn't know all of the bad stuff, and gave him the ego boost that he wanted. I cannot say for sure why, but there is a higher rate of infidelity in ADHD marriages than in non-ADHD marriages. Whether it is the compulsivity, the impulse control issues, the self esteem issues, or the constant need that some of them have to feed their egos (there is never enough attention), I honestly don't know. All I know is that the only way I could ever get past it was for him to dig deep down and figure out why he does it and 'fix' it. We are still in counseling.

This all happened in Dec of 2009. I decided at some point last summer (2010) that I had forgiven him and that in order for us to be able to move foward 100%, I had to put the affair behind us. We've had some setbacks that made those insecurities resurface, so even if I have forgiven, I have not forgotten (not because I don't WANT to)...but I know I will in time. This has come ONLY because he has fully acknowledged what he did, how wrong it was, how hurtful it was, and has shown remorse from day one. He also has (with enough consistency..a few fumbles here and there) jumped through flaming hoops and taken a beating from me when I felt like I just had to relive it in order to get past it. He cannot dictate to you how you will heal, when you will heal, and what will help you heal. You need to dictate that to him. He needs to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.

And..lastly, as hard as it is to swallow, you need to be willing to listen if he gives you some concrete reasons why he wasn't happy in the marriage. Our counselor does not feel his ADHD had anything to do with his cheating (although I don't think I agree), she just feels he gave up on the marriage because we were both so unhappy. From reading your story, I am not sure I get the impression there was a lot of problems in your marriage before the affair...that you were made aware of. This could be attributed to the HUGE communication issues in ADHD marriages. My husband was very good at (and still is sometimes) keeping a list of all of my transgressions...and instead of dealing with each issue as it arose, he would wait until the list was a mile long and then explode. This might take 5 years. For some, I think they just do not let it out at all...but use it to justify their behaviors.

You're not alone. There is hope though...with enough remorse (HIM), enough accountability (HIM), and enough professional (both) help you can get past it. Without these things though, I wouldn't have dreampt of giving him another chance.


Wow- thank you so much for replying. I really do appreciate any insight into all of this, as I am totally lost. You are correct, there were never any issues that I was aware of before all of this occured. If anything, around the time the affair began we were very happy, as I had cut down on my hours at work (I am an ER nurse) and was able to be home more with the family. My husband is not a confrontational type, nor is he the meek partner. I never would have thought he had ADHD. He is a rock. We have no problems with him spending money, keeping a job, arguments, etc. Nothing. Our only problems (again, or so I thought) was the mess he leaves in his wake and his inability to finish projects. It was not something we fought about after I got a cleaning lady. I found out the affair on Jan 26, 2011. Apparently it had been going on since April of 2010. Again, with my backyard neighbor and best friend. It was and is such a shock, as this is such a deviation from anything in his character. Our MC did diagnose him with ADHD, but she did say that doesn't excuse his behavior but may explain some of it. Yes, my husband is very remorseful and does not want us to split. I just let him move back in last week, and he is doing the best he can I guess but I am still so angry and hurt and keeping having flashbacks of them together. We are moving to a completely different county in less than 2 weeks thank god, so I dont have to have hourly reminders of the affair out my back door. When I asked my husband what she did for him that I could not, he tells me she made him feel desired, that he was in control, and the thrill and excitement. He tells me he is jealous of the time I spend with our children (and him), but not just him and I together. He has not said it but I am assuming I have not praised him enough, as I never knew I had to. We have 2 small children, one just recently diagnosed with ADHD. Who knew he needed that kind of attention. I can't help it. I have felt that sometimes he is like another child. I have to tell him good job and constantly reassure him that I love him, when I really want to kick him in the face and go have my own affair. This "feelings" crap is not me, and I am very much struggling with all of this. His low self esteem is an irritant, as crappy as that sounds. Its like the man I married doesnt really exist, as my husband tells me he has felt like this all his life. I attempted to do "sexting" with the other womens husband just to see what it was like, and the guilt was crushing. I still cant fathom how he was able to keep this to himself for so long, and when we would all get together with our children and have bbq, etc. Our counselor says he has compartmentalized his whole life due to his low self esteem from his ADHD, so thats why it was so easy. Sometimes I think this is just a crutch or an excuse. He has never used it as such, but still......

I am trying to get over all this, I really am. I want us to stay together, I want us to be happy, I can't imagine life without him in it, but I guess my problem is I just dont understand. I think eventually I will have to accept that I never will but I can't right now. I wish I hadnt let him move back in, but I don't want to mess with my childrens heads and have him move back out, and then move again to the new house, etc, etc. Especially for my adhd son. All this will be hard enough with having to change schools, etc, so am trying to keep life as normal as possible for both of my boys. I ahve read every book on the infidelity side, and adult adhd I can find, but I still cant cope. SO just like my name, WTF now?

I could never move past it

I could never move past it with a constant reminder in my back yard. Having to pass the apartment building where she got an apartment AND got him the one right beside of her was bad enough for me...but in my own back yard...I don't know. I'm glad you're moving.

Take the responsibility off of yourself to try and understand and put it on HIM to make you understand. If he's truly remorseful, he'll talk until his lips fall off making you understand AND telling you how he plans on ensuring it doesn't happen again.  I searched until I found a counselor that I felt could truly help us. I took some control as a means of helping myself have a little peace of mind that things were proceeding as I needed them to.

Please don't keep your feelings secret from him...if you're upset, tell him. If you're struggling to understand and are finding it hard to cope, tell him. Him dealing with your emotions and your struggles over what he did are called "consequences". The time will come, if he does his part and accepts his consequences, that you'll start to regain trust  and respect for him. Don't tiptoe around the issue and certainly don't cover up your emotions just to avoid making him feel bad. He should feel bad. As cruel as it sounds, seeing my husband struggle with the guilt and the pain of what he had done, helped me heal. He owes you that much. He owes you whatever you need to heal. At the same time, you have to eventually make a conscious decision to forgive and move forward or not to forgive and let him go.

My husband doesn't use ADHD as a crutch or 'reason' either...we didn't even know he had  ADHD when it all happened. The only answer I ever got was that he did it for the attention she gave him. Our marital dynamic was so screwed up, I can at least acknowledge that I withheld emotionally and physically from him...but it still should have never been an option to him. Fixing our problems at home was where his answers should have been. Also, in contrast to your situation, not only was our marriage in shambles, there were red flags going up around me everywhere..that I ignored.

It's not your job

to make HIM feel better. HE'S the one who strayed, and HE is the one who has to make YOU feel better. Don't forget that. ADD is not a license to cheat; cheating would have been a drop dead deal breaker for me. He has to earn your trust, and he needs to know that. You letting him move back in is enough; the rest is up to him. Never feel guilty for taking care of your children (especially when your husband is just the biggest kid); if he wants to spend more time with you alone, HE can arrange babysitting and a date with you. He's got a lot of making up to do.