Infidelity and ADHD

Has anyone had to deal with an ADHD partner's wandering eye? I discovered my husband's profile on a free dating web site.  He hasn't posted a picture and the site is known to be a joke.  But I am just wondering if anyone has experienced this.  I know the hyper focusing and need for new and exciting ventures is appealing to the ADHD person. I'm just trying to get my head around it.  It happened before, long before we were married.  And nothing came of it.  I just thought I'd ask everyone here if this is a common thing or not. 

My husband used to have a

My husband used to have a problem with blurring the lines between 'acceptable' and 'not acceptable' when it came to contact with females. For ex: we were at a New Years party, the host had just found out her husband had been having an affair, and she was upset and crying. He HAD to be the one to come to the rescue. He had to jump in and be the Knight in Shining Armor. He started to say things like "you're young, you're beautiful...I mean look at you, you're hot" and stuff like that. It was so bad that I finally said, out loud, "that's enough!" It was humiliating.

I tried to explain to him that it was feeding his OWN need to feel like everything thinks he's wonderful, but it was very hurtful and disrespectful to our marriage. I don't think he's ever SOUGHT out the women (on a dating site) but when given the chance he could not stop himself from trying to be 'everything' everyone needed. I told him "you are my husband, not hers. It isn't your job to make anyone feel beautiful and sexy but me. It hurts your marriage in the long run and is embarassing to me to have my husband trying to swoop in and rescue every f'in damsel in distress" and I knew it was only for his own selfish need to feed his ego.

It is part of the impulsivity and low self esteem. He has also been unfaithful twice that I know of. He isn't willing to admit that this is due to his ADHD and get help for it. As long as we are getting along TODAY, then he sees no need to do anything. I am 100% convinced that if he doesn't get help and address the issues, he'll cheat again. Not sure how I'll ever get him to agree. He 'pretended' to agree when I took him back after his latest affair in 2009...but apparently that was only said to get back home.


Thank you for sharing that.  I do not think my husband is cheating, but since the divorce is in the works, I think he feels he is a free agent. He craves the excitement of the possibility of a new lover.  That is why he browses online- it gives him some sort of novelty.  I do think that he wants the divorce partly so that he can entertain other women. He is not the type to have an affair, so this is his way of feeding that need.  End the marriage- sleep with other women. In our dating life, it happened just like this, but he came back begging.  He obviously discovered that those conquests were fruitless and that he needed and loved me more.  I just wish he realized that this is just history repeating itself.  Only this time, he won't have a do-over with me when he comes back.  I need him to see that this is the ADHD and not the end of his love for me.  It is so frustrating.  Hopefully he will attend one session with the new therapist I lined up. She is pretty convinced this is all related to the ADHD. If he listens in a safe environment, perhaps his mind will open a little.  It's my last chance!

prairiechick72's picture

dating sites are one step closer to cheating!

Ladies take it from someone that has lived with this for years on and off of course. In my situation my ADHD husband says it all "my fault and he did it to piss me off". The latest profiles he put out there, on one he used my date of birth! My mistake was letting him get away with it one too many times. And of course he says he has never cheated, but really who is he kidding?  As Dr. Phil says would you do it if your wife were standing right behind you?

We are all responsible for our own actions, words, reactions... This time forgiveness won't be my mistake. I do enjoy reading all the stories and have found strength from everyone on this site. I can honesty say I cheated on my boyfriend back then, now husband 20 years ago. It was a terrible mistake on my part and now I think deep down he feels pay back is sweet. However the dating and porn sites are not our only issues. ADHD and depression have ripped our marriage apart and him not wanting to take medication to improve the situation has cost us a future together. I have felt myself become a different person over the last 15 or so years! Is there anyone else that can relate to this? Is it normal to feel like your a washed up rag?

prairiechick72, Hi!  I'm new

prairiechick72, Hi!  I'm new to this site and relatively new the the whole ADHD thing.  My DH is the one with ADHD (unofficially diagnosed)  and until recently I had no clue, I thought most of his anger, inability to keep a job, focus on his friends rather than me was a product of his upbringing (although I think this has a lot to do with it as well) rather than ADHD.  What brought it all to a head was when I caught him in an affair with someone who has been to my home and knew he was married.  The reason I wanted to reply to your post is your comment "In my situation my ADHD husband says it all "my fault and he did it to piss me off", are we married to the same guy??? When confronted this is what my dear DH said to me.  I had been looking at the phone records and would question him about all the calls to the same number he would make, he doesn't sleep so there would be text messages from midnight until 4 or 5 in the morning to the same number, found out it was the skany wh--- and he tells me "we just did it because I knew you would look at the records and wanted to piss you off" who does this to the person that they are supposed to love??  We are still married but I don't feel like I want to be anymore, after 11 years of mental, emotional and semi-physicial abuse and then to have him cheat on me with a skany wh--- I don't know if I can stay.  Sorry for the rant and all of this to say I understand completely what you are saying and just know that you are not alone :o). 

I know there are differing

I know there are differing opinions on this, but in my opinion dating sites are just about an inch away from cheating. It definitely crosses the line. If someone who is married will join a dating site, then they are not too far from the next step...and the next step. I would have NEVER thought my husband was the 'type' to have an affair either.

I also feel that for every rat we see, there are 10 others we don' what you're catching him doing it probably not all he's doing. Just please be careful and ask yourself some very tough questions...such as I am having to ask you really want to be with someone who has a constant need to feed that apparently cannot be filled by you? I am not willing to live with it, and he refuses to believe it is a problem, so I'm trying to figure out what to do...but I know that I am not willing to live the rest of my life worrying about when the other shoe will drop.

I cant believe that there

I cant believe that there might be another interpretation for a spouse to join a dating site and not consider it cheating?! The question is, I feel, whether your spouse is really willing to commit to a monogamous relationship OR are we willing to have one that is not. :( not a good feeling- I hope this goes your way Sherri- you are strong and directed in a healthy way and deserve better. Make that we deserve better (though my issue is slightly different, concept is same.). I am really letting this get to me and despite the struggle to follow my own advice...its so hard!! And scary...

Thanks Lulu. We've made it

Thanks Lulu. We've made it through 'the dark side' once again, but where the problem lies is that he thinks he can 'control' his ADHD himself. He has agreed to go back to counseling with me...and I'm definitely considering that option, but right now I just need a break from dealing with it all. Going to take the next month of two to decide how to proceed. He wants me to believe he will never cheat again, and I TRULY believe that he believes it, but I also know how ADHD gets ahold of him and I DON'T trust him at all when it does. He has admitted to not even knowing who he is during those episodes.

I am thankful that he's back in our bed, back in church, spending time with his family, and is feeling better. But, eventually we have to be realistic and face the fact that his ADHD isn't controlled and needs to be. Our marriage depends on it.

Sherri, I have the warmest


I have the warmest hopes and optimism for you and your husband. I am glad that he has come home (emotionally and physically) and I and impressed by the strength you've shown (and the compassion for everyone else when they need advice!)

We were separated from Oct

We were separated from Oct 13th 2009-Dec 18th 2009. He lost his job May 2009 and found out his mother was dying at around the same time. She passed away Oct 23rd 2009. He started behaving horribly around mid-August and I finally asked him to leave in Sept...and he did. Begged me not to divorce him the entire time he was gone, but treated me horribly. Found out in Dec he had an affair from Sept-Nov. He begged me to let him come home (she got him an apartment right across from hers) and swore he'd do whatever it took for me to trust him again...and counseling was an absolute MUST. I insisted. We finally found 'the' counselor in June of 2010 and she diagnosed him with ADHD almost immediately. He started meds in Oct and from Oct 2010-mid-Feb 2011, he took meds and was hostile and extremely irritable. Prior to meds, we were discussing renewing our vows...things were amazing. When he stopped the meds cold turkey, he just smacked the floor. That was his 'trigger' this time...but at least this time he didn't cheat...and he was kind (but EXTREMELY DISTANT) during the entire ordeal. Slept in the den, quit going to church, wouldn't do anything with his family, etc.

Thank you...I'm just concerned about wasting anymore time with things and needing to figure out the very best way to proceed. I know he cannot guaruntee me that he won't 'go to the dark side' again...and I am trying very hard to accept that and prepare for it. BUT, at the same time I want to do everything possible to avoid it again...but I just don't know what that is. Our counselor doesn't even seem to be familiar with ADHD to the degree that he has it.

My trust in him has been decimated...and I don't know where to begin rebuilding it. This episode was a real just how unpredictable untreated ADHD can be.

Can betrayal every really be rebuilt?

When you have been lied to over and over about addiction issues and then you find out about internet cheating, can you ever rebuild trust in that person, and if so how? I hate lying. I always believed that once you became an adult you should stand by whatever decisions you make in life. Good or bad, you choose the action, you choose the consequences. My husband was an addict (I guess will always be) and lied constantly? I would ask , were you drinking, always No. Are you high, no. It was only when it was so blatantly obvious that he would admit the truth. In september, I came across several emails where he was corresponding with women, some even on a porn site. I clearly was upset. But I confronted him calmly. I asked several questions in hope that he would come clean. He didn't until it was blatantly obvious that I knew something. I am an attorney and am skilled at cross-examination, so a bit unfair, but I reeled him in. I kicked him out. We had many conversations about whether internet was cheating. I believe it is and stand firm on that. In my view, an emotional connection with someone outside the marriage is cheating. I told him before we got married that if he ever cheated on me - game over! Easier said then done. I won't say we reconciled, bc we have still not dealt with the issue, but he moved back in bc I was sick. His excuse is that he was lonely bc I have been sick. I get that. Because quite frankly I was lonely too! But I explained to him that regardless, he never discussed his loneliness with me, and by going outside our marriage, he didn't give me a choice or chance to work on that issue. We started marital therapy, and as my other posts mention, we are separated again. My question is this: once a liar always a liar, once a cheater always a cheater? How do you once again believe someone who has a history of lying? Can trust be rebuilt? If so, how? He is newly diagnosed with ADHD ( at least to me). Infidelity and addiction are not uncommon for ADHD people. Nonetheless, regardless of his condition, he is accountable and responsible for the choices he has made. I'm so much happier in this short time we have been apart. I am getting healthier physically and emotionally every day. We meet with the counselor tomorrow. Can I ever move past betrayal? He of course wants me to forgive and forget. I've struggled with forgiveness foe a few reasons. Shouldn't he be remorseful? Can ADHD people really express remorse? Saying it was a bad time! Sure doesn't seem remorseful to me. The bible says to forgive, but it doesn't say you have to reconcile. I'm so stuck on this issue. I don't even know what things I should be considering. What things can he show me to confirm that he is trustworthy? We have agreed to remain separated until October, and then we will make a final decision about our marriage. I don't want to at string him along. Is it something you can ever really get past, or is it something that is always lurking in the back of your mind, no matter what they do. I don't want to wake up some day in the future and ever feel that pain of betrayal again. It's so devastating and lowers your self-esteem to nil ( at least it did me), especially because I was so sick. Anyhow, and thoughts and suggestions would he appreciated! Kathie

I am here. I am living with

I am here. I am living with the betrayals..the cheating..the addictions. I'm living with the emotional and physical loneliness. I'm dealing with the overwhelming fear that things will never change and that eventually my life with him will end. I'm hopeless and broken. If I could get to where you are, I would never look back. Never.

You are brave

You are brave, very very brave! I don't know how you do it! I just couldn't. My life and wellbeing just could not take it one more second one more day. But we still have counseling, and I'm feeling guilty about that. Is it just a replay of the fantasy that things can be different? I don't know. Sometimes I can be patient with what he says. Other times, it just flames the anger! I suppose tomorrow is a new day. I still can reconcile whether his behavior is addiction or ADHD, both, or just plan [email protected]@[email protected]@@.

Brave? More like coward. The

Brave? More like coward. The affair was in Fall 2009...and when I took him back he swore we'd go to counseling and figure out why he cheated..and it wasn't the first time. We aren't in counseling right now by my choice. Not sure I have any faith in it anymore. Not only that, if he's not willing to go in and sit down and say "I cheat and I am prone to becoming addicted to anything I do (drinking, pills) and I want to change that" then WTF bother? Counseling got back to "it's all her fault" and I just gave up and we quit going. I literally couldn't stomach another second of it. I am considering going alone to deal with my resurfacing anger and negativity. (even in this post..I hate the negative thoughts I have towards him..) To my knowledge, he's clean and sober...but with the sneaking and lies and money disappearing left and right (which, in all fairness has ALWAYS been an issue..not just related to addiction necessarily) it is hard to trust anything he says.

My advice would be to do NOTHING right now. Continue to go to counseling and continue to keep him out of your space so that your peace of mind isn't compromised. You will know when you're done...if you reach that point..there will be no question. Just the fact that you're not sure, leads me to believe you're not done. I could never manage a separation from my husband...I would never trust him enough to be faithful to the marriage so if I make him leave, it will be permanent.

Brave Indeed

I think it takes a lot of courage to stick it out, and even more courage to handle the after effects of affairs, addictions, etc.  I have been in counseling for the last year for myself, just dealing with all the health issues (but mostly complaining about my husband).  I have the same feeling about this couple counseling, albeit she was the one that led me to the ADHD Effects on Marriage book and this website, which gave me the courage to take the blame off myself and insight to separate!  I agree with what you said about the husband needing to begin the finger pointing back at himself regarding the addictions and cheating (addictions, affairs, and lying!) it is a complete waste of time.  We agreed to 4 months, and I'm taking EVERY SINGLE DAY OF IT (NOT NEGOTIABLE), but I was struggling with whether to bother with the counseling.  As for his cheating while we separate, all I can say is please,  he couldn't stay faithful in the marriage, I have no doubt that he will now that we separate! NOT! I don't really care, because I gave up that trust a LONG TIME AGO, and he has never earned it back.  I guess I'll see tonight whether he has been enlightened! I'm thinking not!  Thanks for the support!

complete agreement

i completely agree with what you're saying about lying and cheating.  my partner has not cheated per say, though i discovered this morning that he has been using my business computer to surf porn sites that are horrific, and has also repeatedly viewed live chat porn sites often right before coming to bed.  i'm disgusted.  he has also lied about his porn collection, told me he threw it out and i found it yesterday.  i busted every single dvd i found (much to my satisfaction).  personally i think live chat IS CHEATING.  he's getting off to other women live!

i don't know how to get past the mistrust... when we're on things are great - sadly more often we're off.  we've been together for 2 years - i carry the load (though what non adhd spouse doesn't)... even so far as helping him with legal issues to have more access to his 3 yr old daughter.  while i'm doing his legal work, he's surfing porn sites.  then has the nerve to ask me for "more exciting sex" ... i ordered a kama sutra dvd thinking here's a beautiful, balanced way to learn better technique (he is not very skilled in bed and more often than not lasts only about 2 minutes) - while watching it he got all mad and said what's the point of this?

he's also addicted to pot, drinks too much beer, and spends more time planning to party with his friends or go paddling then he does anything to do with me.  so while i'm working my butt off to build a future in the most positive healthy ways i can, he's doing all this. 

i wish i had something positive to say but i've no hope left.  i can't fathom spending my entire life like this.  i feel like i'd rather be alone than constantly be dragged through the roller coaster.  i've got to hand it to you if you are able to go back for any reason, but for myself i'm thinking i need to end this.  i have to look after myself and my own health and well being first.

online cheating

Broken hearted, it was so weird to read your post because I am going through a nearly identical situation.  I hope you're hanging in there. I've been married to my ADHD husband for 2 years.  He is kind and loving, and we had a strong relationship.  But there were some very hard issues with money - he had massive student loan debt, IRS debt, etc, and I took care of all of it.  Then last week I found an email account of his and discovered that he had been on a lot of xxx porn sites and I found email solicitations for whores.  I threw up.  I couldn't believe it was him.  I don't think I'm over the shock.  It's complicated because he has also just been diagnosed with untreated PTSD from having been with a mountain climbing friend who died (15 years ago).  When I confronted him about the emails, he broke down, cried, said that I'm the love of his live, said that he had no intention of following through, that he wanted to go to therapy to work it out.  The psychiatrist and therapists say that it's high-risk, self-destructive behavior.  I believe that nothing physical happened, but I'm heartbroken, shocked, feel betrayed and repulsed.  And used.  I know it's that he didn't "think" of it at the time (he also drinks too much and was drinking during 75 or 80% of the emails). But at the same time, how do I ever trust him again?  How do I get over the fact that he solicited a whore?  I told him that I could have handled a heroin addiction more easily than this.  I know he has ADHD and complications of guilt from PTSD, but where does responsibility come into it?  I've agreed to stay together while he gets into therapy and while I have some therapy (I was having panic attacks).  But where does this leave me?  3 weeks ago, if you had asked me if I could live with a man who solicited an online whore, I would have laughed.  Now I'm doing that.  Is my compassion for him hurting me?


Its the loss of trust that is

Its the loss of trust that is the hardest thing to deal with. Even when things seem better, the inevitable slips (disappearing, horribly rude outbursts, unsafe behavior) all makes the "bad feelings" come slamming back... The fear. I want there to be trust. I want to believe that he wpuld not do anything to put me or his kids in peril, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. And the last at this point is what scares me most- because he is in denial about finances but has opened up about the other two issues. I dont even know where to go from here..i know it is important to not flood my spouse with more than one issue at a time, but which to choose feom first?! The rude verbal abuse, latent substance abuse when he is stressed, or the huge amount of risk he is placing us in by charging up a storm? Yet having said that, he has been around in mind, he has been participating in counseling and in our personal conversations,.. He has been back in connection in so many important ways to numerous to mention BUT... It is difficult to know what to do. Any thoughts?!! ***rereading my own post, I realize how bad this still sounds..yet is has been nicee since we have come back can I explain??
DF's picture

It's late and I'm tired, but...

I'm outraged by such poor behavior, but I will refrain.  You all are here for hope just as much as I am, but I could never and have never entertained the idea of being with another woman.  I'm still trying to figure out 'everything' I've been doing over the life cycle of my marriage to get to the lonely place I'm in now.

I have been a VERY selfish individual over the last several years.  I have created distance with my wife and I kind of think I built up my own walls of resistance.  I can't speak for everyone that has ADD(HD), but I'm human and if my wife were visiting dating sites it would destroy me.  So I can't even begin to think about the prospect of her being with someone else.  My anxiety and self esteem issues would be hard to control.  "Maybe" my issues would make it tougher for someone like me to cope, but I'm in no position to say.  Bottom line is, I'm human and if I wouldn't want my wife to do that, then the very least I could do is return my respect in kind.

For Lulu - Your worries are genuine.  Before I realized my condition and my oldest son's as well, we constantly argued.  My wife was always playing referee and even though we haven't been up to our usual shenanigans in a very long time, she is sometimes very quick to jump in and referee something she 'thinks' is getting out of hand but isn't.  I know when my buttons are getting pushed and I stop well in advance.  If it's finances you're worried about, let me offer this.  I'm broke.  Very super broke.  Haven't been this bad since I was unemployed for a few months some 12 years ago.  Every time I'm getting money set aside to pay for the kids summer sports activities, something stupid happens ( like my piece-o-poo car breaking down ) and I have to rob Peter to pay Paul.  Problem is, Peter found some friends and he's tired of me robing him.  Have I told my wife?  No.  We have seperate accounts as is, always have.  Our relationship is obviously not where I'd like it to be so the idea of adding more stress on her plate strikes the fear of God in me.  I'm trying real hard to relieve her stress when and where I can, but damn it's hard.

I also understand, like several posters here, what it's like to be alone.  It sucks!  All we're looking for is to meet halfway aren't we?  Problem is as I'm seeing it is most ADD(HD) spouses aren't committed to taking on the responsibility of learning to carry a lead pipe around so they can smack that ADD(HD) symptom when it gets too close to the surface.  I know when I got short tempered with my wife and son it was because I felt I had a loss of control.  When I'm getting upset I can only hear "I'm not stupid! Stop making me look like and idiot!".  That's my hard reality, but I see it now and I'm proud to say I carry a lead pipe and use it all the time to tell myself "Shut your damn mouth!"  

Now don't get all down on me.  I know it looks and feels bleak and I didn't paint the best picture, but you've already forgotten what I said above -> "......the life cycle of my[your] marriage...."

It's cyclical.  We all hit a rough patch somewhere.  We're all here because we've all hit a real doozey.  In order to bring a marriage back around it takes one person to have the strength to move mountains.  That's what I see in each and every damn one of you in every post I read.  You have to believe.  Sometimes it's all we have, but it can get us through the rough patch.  I am DF and I have ADD, but I'm not much different than you when you simplify it down to human need, I just happen to live on the other side of the coin.

Thanks DF, I will try to

Thanks DF, I will try to remember the word cyclical. Its funny, if you dont mind my saying- but the lead pipe view is a little extremist, dont you think? I am learning that it is not effective to deny any of our attributes, both good and bad. It makes us who we are. So the adhd is a part of you just as my low self esteem Is deeply ingrained by now in me. It does NOT define who we are as people but does undeniably affect us. We should not, therefore deny it, just not let it take control of us. That is what I hope for my husband. He has stress, he reacts (by disappearing, abusing substances, hanging out by himself or a negative group of good ole boys) becausw i think its easier. But not in the long run- he doesnt see that each time he breaks our trust, he is crapping on this special gift, the love and security of his family. Worse still, pointing that out only serves to make it worse and helps to perpetuate the cycle. I am really trying to gain my own strength- as we all are, but its challenging. I wish I could say to him, but will instead say to you :), that a slip or a mistake in judgement could be just a momentary thing...but own it, acknowledge it to those it affected, and then let us all move on. It is pure Hell to be stuck in limbo, at this one spot...

DF, as usual, more paralels in our lives...

"Before I realized my condition and my oldest son's as well, we constantly argued.  My wife was always playing referee and even though we haven't been up to our usual shenanigans in a very long time, she is sometimes very quick to jump in and referee something she 'thinks' is getting out of hand but isn't. "

My wife does the same thing because I used to but heads with my youngest daughter. Well... Post diagnosis I quickly realized she is exactly like me. In the old days, I knew in certain situations, like not wanting to go to school because she felt sick, my daughter would Really Work my wife over because she did not understand that with ADD, once you get away with staying home from school when you are really just tired, then the dangerous precedent has been set. My "Stay Home Rules" were simple logical and consistent. Fever or Vomiting and you should stay home, otherwise NO. I know it sounds harsh, but I know how I was as a kid and my kids are smarter than me :-) Since diagnosis, I know why my youngest and I butted heads because we were the same. Now I STILL get jumped by my wife saying that she won't have me yelling, deflecting the situation at me?!? I'm not yelling and have not yelled at my daughter in two years... It will take a while longer for the Outcome Prediction Protection Plan to start acting based on how I am now, but it does frustrate me acting better and still getting pooped on ;)

That being said, we turned I a  big corner yesterday :D More on that later... I gotta go to work...




How do you stop?

Hi DF, I am just curious as to your statement...

"I know when my buttons are getting pushed and I stop well in advance."

So how do you stop?  Our middle daughter pushes my buttons all the time and so far I can't figure out how to NOT REACT.  Occasionally my DH will intervene and help me.  Once I said to him in frustration, "How does she know where all my buttons are?!"  He answered that it is because I am a switchboard. :)

DF's picture

How to stop? Self awareness

My situation is different form yours and not just for the obvious, me male, you female.  From things I've read in your posts, you have dialog with your husband.  I have idle chit chat and her dislike for her job means I can't ask her about her day.  It's tough.  What can she say if she doesn't want to talk about the office?  She left for work, came home and nothing in between.  Discussing weather and traffic everyday feels like such a fruitless effort and I don't feel much connection with her that way.

My wife is enjoying her self discovery process and has new friends I know nothing about.  She goes to be with them and I don't know where she goes.  I fully respect her 150% and I believe and trust her.  Since being on the meds I've noticed it makes it easier for me to control my anxiety over it and when I go to bed alone, my head isn't spinning with negative thoughts.  I know it's very important to let her find her way and not interfere or force myself into the picture with my feelings so I do not question her at all - not one bit.  It does play hell on me and can sometimes be unbearable, but there are times when she will let me know in advance that she may not be home or that she's going to be with a certain friend.  I find it incredibly relieving to feel included in her life even in the smallest way.  And sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night and she's not home yet I will stress, but I will not text her or call her.  If I wake up when she gets home, I don't care what time it is, it makes all my stress go away and it's like a sense of calmness rushes over me.  I say nothing because I want the last thing she gets from me every day, either voiced or text, "I love you.  Goodnight."

I'm reading ADHD Effect on Marriage and I think it's great that her daughter embraces it.  It's important.  For me, I'm not there yet.  ADD(HD) has given me some solid experiences, but I'm still firm on my stance that I'd be in jail for excessive manslaughter if ADD(HD) were an actual person.  I'm getting off track.....

So in practicing on self control and listening ( since I only hear 2-3 tings my wife says unfortunetly ), I recall some months back after have traced it to several other 'talks' over the recent years, that my wife can't stand being around when my (ADHD) son and I are arguing.  She said "....she just wants to leave....".  I don't care what else she said, that's the part I heard loud and clear.

When I see that my son is driving his semi truck into my wall of buttons, I immediatly switch to concern for my wife leaving.  I hate going to bed alone.  I hate that I've gotten her to the point in our relationship that she would rather leave than be with her children.  I know the kids mean the world to her and when I see her close up shop, it tears at my heart.  All I can think is that my son will not stop and he can't see her change when he's angry and I can't beg him to stop.  I can control my anger because in my marriage, my anger turns quickly to sadness.  The sadness that I feel alone and that I struggle to find such absolute joy in the accomplishment of being a great father.

Yesterday my son had to write an autobiography for school.  I had to work so I asked him to read it to me.  I almost cried because for 7 pages he wrote about his feelings for me and how important I am to him and not one word about his mother.  F##K I'm crying now.....................

AW - I stop because I have to.  I stop because if I can't learn control I will lose the best thing that's ever happened to me or our kids.  I stop because I want so damn bad to earn the right to be married to the most beautiful, wonderful woman/mother in the world.

I know I'm a great catch.  I know I can easily make dozens of other women happy, because I know I have a lot of qualities that make me worthy.  I would rather have my fingernails pulled in a far off prison camp than be with anyone other than my wife.  So I stop myself because I have failed to tell my wife that for 12 years and my actions will have to speak louder than words since she's not listening right now.

Who is the cheater?

It's my wife - the non-ADHD partner - who is having the affair.  I don't know if it's to 'get back at me' or because she's angry and frustrated or despite having 'cut me off', she still wants to have sex or I should be blaming Facebook for getting two high school sweets back together.  But honestly, I have enough trouble on my own - this does not help.

Been there

In my experience her affair was 1.) to make me jealous 2.) to make her feel better about herself 3.) result of our inability to communicate what we each needed from each other.  She was immediately the 100% focus of my Hyperfocus and that was what she wanted... when other things were important or I focused on something else too much there was always a string to real me back in... also a result of her own "issues"..

That said- It hurts and it will always be "your fault". Look for your part.. distance or whatever and address your issues that might be contributing but you didn't step out and you didn't MAKE her.. She chose that action.

At least in my experience..

Re: terrible thing to go through

Yes, I've been through this. My diagnosed husband of 28 years had a 3 year affair with a 22 year old woman. (diagnosed 4 years ago) It totally destroyed my life. We didn't have a bad marriage, and we've always been very good friends. But, at the point where he met the other woman, my husband was working on his PhD in music. (he had just completed writing his dissertation) He was invited to teach at a band camp in Florida, and I was also invited to come along. The camp was for a month in the summer, so it was also sort of a "working vacation". The other woman (girl) was also a teacher there, and even from our first meeting, she came on to my husband "like gangbusters". She told him that she was there to "pick his brain clean", and that she was going to do everything she could to learn everything she could from him. But THAT isn't what she was THERE for. She was there to BE a teacher to middle age children, NOT to BE a student, or get involved with a married man. If fact, she said that stuff when were all getting acquainted, and the other teachers and I sort of gave each other funny looks. (the way she came across was extremely FORWARD for a "first" meeting)

     Anyway, she was with my husband every minute she could get. They had lunches and dinners together and went for drinks after band practices. And of course it was on the beaches in Florida, so the sunsets, alcohol, sand, water, (you get the picture) And of course all these get togethers were "WORK RELATED" I usually found out "after the fact" and when I mentioned to my husband that this wasn't appropriate for him to be doing, (especially the 2 of them ALONE together having drinks) he put me off (of course) and then got very DEFENSIVE about it. And of course the "defensive" part was the big red flag. I just felt in my GUT that something was going on. I didn't get angry and yell or scream at him. In fact, I tried to be "reasonable" about it, and I reminded him that being alone with someone else was not what he should be doing. And I reminded him that I WASN'T out with some of the other younger men teachers that were there. (And also the appearance to his co-workers wasn't good)

   That was the start of a then 3 year affair. When we all went home, she texted him, e-mailed him, called him, and it got EXCESSIVE. I directly told my husband "You are having an emotional affair", which of course he denied, and got all defensive about. He told me there was NO SUCH THING as an emotional affair. I tried to show him articles and books on the subject, (he wouldn't listen), and more defensiveness. He was "in it" bad. I started downloading some of the e-mails this girl would send. They were usually suggestive in nature and always started with a "problem" she was having with her students. (she teaches public school)  My husband LOVED all the attention, praise and glory she gave him, and he ate it up. The PROBLEM? I gave him lots of attention and praise and love, but I was the "OLD" wife, and she was the "new" young exciting thing. The emotional affair then turned to a full blown affair, the ENTIRE time he denied it was going on. He kept telling me, "She's JUST A KID", "What would I want with a KID?"  "You're out of your mind", "You're crazy".

    I knew that he was most likely "ripe" for a mid-life crisis, but it doesn't excuse him (or anyone) for cheating. NOTHING excuses someone from going outside the marriage to try to make themselves "feel better", or think that is going to "fix things". An affair ONLY makes things a BILLION times worse than whatever issue you may be having.

    In the meantime, my husband graduated with his PhD in music and was looking for a job. He was tired of teaching public school and wanted to move on to a college. This other girl told him about a small college that was closer to where she lived. (I didn't know this at the time) He told me, "I found a job, and I'm going to take it". It was a LONG way away from where we lived, and I was  having trouble considering leaving our house, family, church,etc. and move to another state  THAT FAST. I KNEW he had to get a new job, and I was ready to accept that we would be moving cross country (most likely) But, the WAY he did this was HORRIBLE. He wouldn't TALK to me about the move. HE MADE THE DECISION AND THAT WAS IT, I HAD TO ACCEPT IT OR LEAVE IT. "There aren't any other jobs available, and I HAVE to take this job" Which was weird, because I had an entire STACK of jobs sitting on our kitchen table. He wouldn't listen to ANYTHING I had to say. This wasn't like him to just DEMAND that I accept what he wants without ANY discussion at all. ESPECIALLY as something as important as a MAJOR MOVE and a NEW JOB.

    I was the one who sacrificed and went through all those years with him to get his degree. I'm the one who did all his "back up" work that I got no "credit" for. (not even credit from HIM) Some of our friends saw how much work I did for him, and were embarrassed for me because NEVER gave me any credit or support for helping him get to where he GOT. Many times, I really ENJOYED helping him, because I too am in music, and it was something that we both did together. I thought that it was something that we were getting to 'SHARE". Well, the joke was on me. I give him a lot of credit because he has ALWAYS WORKED VERY HARD to make something of himself, and also to provide for our family. He was SHOCKED that I was dissapointed that he didn't give me any "credit or appreciation" when he wrote his dissertation, and got his book published. He gave the credit and appreciation to a professor friend of his. My husband was having trouble getting his dissertation published, and I gave him a suggestion that seemed to be possible, he wouldn't listen to me, but when this other professor said it, my husband gave THE OTHER GUY credit for the whole thing. I really cried over that. Even on the day of his graduation, he ignored me, and couldn't wait to call the other girl. I had invited all his family and friends and had thrown him a surprise party. I was entertaining his family while he was talking to the other girl on the phone and acting like I was spoiling all his "fun".

    The BAD part was that he had Undiagnosed ADHD, and he was an ADHD WORKAHOLIC. He would be non-stop everyday, every hour, week after week, month after month and year after year. He was pretty proud of how much WORK he could do, and how "lazy" other people were. His famous speech to our two girls and me was this: "I HATE lazy people, and lazy people are MORONS". "The WORST thing YOU CAN DO is waste time, and NOT working is WASTING TIME". And yes, we were ALL working ourselves to death. As a family, we had a "great work ethic", but we didn't have a LIFE. We had the typical dysfunctional ADHD "life" going on. I was doing ALL the housework, yardwork, shopping, cooking, taking care of the kids, doing school functions, and WORKING. He was the typical "tornado in the house", and I was forever picking up trails of messes from one end of the house to the other. I would go to bed at about 11:00pm, dead tired, but he NEVER got to bed before 3:00am. And when he came to bed, he made so much noise, it always woke me up, he'd asked me questions and such, and even get angry if I couldn't get back to sleep.  He also had sleep-apnea with LOUD CHAIN SAW SNORING  that kept me awake. Some nights I had to sleep downstairs, which also made him angry. I got SO TIRED of all the angery, defensiveness, constant "feeling sorry for himself" and his endless need for PRAISE and ADORATION. There is a LOT about the praise and adoration I haven't mentioned here, but he REALLY LOVED ATTENTION AND PRAISE. (excessively) The TROUBLE was, that HE DIDN'T GIVE praise. Oh, he would praise others to me, but he would NEVER, EVER, EVER give ME any praise, or say anything nice about me to people in public or even in situations where I really EARNED something. That too made me cry sometimes. It felt to me like he enjoyed keeping it inside of himself instead of giving me the "slightest" bit of recognition that I often deserved. Over the years, I stopped hoping for praise, and stopping hoping for A LOT of things, because it never came. When I DID mention this to him, he would accuse me of being "overly sensitive" and would tell me "You expect too much". ouch

    Anyway, my husband MADE the move to another state, took the new job WITHOUT my approval. I stayed back to sell the old house, and was alone for 2 years. He had taken all our furniture for the new house, and I was left with a fold out couch. Our "old" house was being painted, and it needed a LOT of work, which I had to do. My husband was in the new house, working his new "dream" job (as he called it) and was playing house with the "other girl". I was left in a dirty house with trash all over the place, that was being painted, sanded, scraped, EVERYTHING. I felt like just like the trash that was on the floor of the house, because I was "left behind" in the wake of my husband's NEW LIFE. I was so DUMBFOUNDED, DEVASTATED, SAD AND HURT, THAT I THOUGHT THAT MY LIFE WAS OVER. I can't even BEGIN to tell you how much pain an affair can cause. I didn't feel like the same person anymore, I was NUMB, I CRIED ALL THE TIME. I didn't go anywhere, do anything, etc, because EVERYTHING - EVERYWHERE reminded me of what was happening in my life. I couldn't listen to songs on the radio anymore. I ESPECIALLY couldn't go to church anymore, and I was a church organist. I felt like such a hypocrite on that organ bench, and it was hard to read the music through the tears.  After several months, the sadness turned to frustration and then RAGE. I wanted my husband and that other "girl" to hurt as much as I had been hurting. But, REVENGE is not the way to make things better, and I KNEW that, but it felt good "thinking" about it sometimes. lol (I didn't Act on it)

   Anyway, after 2+years, my husband said he wanted to make the marriage work, and he asked me to please give him another chance. I moved to our new home, but the first year and a half was like HELL ON EARTH. (In fact, he was still seeing the other woman) I found another e-mail she had sent him, telling him how she loved his "love making" and missed him so much, and that she knew that he loved her because she loved HIM so much, ETC. This was after he told me he wanted to "save" our marriage. He stopped seeing the other woman, only AFTER I told him it was HER OR ME. "You can't have BOTH", and I won't put up with this any longer, and I will NEVER go through this again. He acted like a wounded puppy for a good six months to a year, like I had kicked his dog and ruined his whole "new life". Shortly after that, he got diagnosed with ADHD, and started on concerta. We both went through counseling for over a year. (each seperately, and then together)

   Well, we have a LOT of work to do STILL. My husband (like I've said before) REFUSES to talk about any of this, REFUSES to talk about sex, (and we haven't had sex in 2 years) He now chalks the affair up to a "mid-life crisis", and that he knew he was doing wrong. HE also says he "knew" that he had to come back and work on our marriage, because what he did wasn't right. I've never seen the kind of "remorse" I really would have liked to have seen, or some type of sadness or sorrow for how much hurt he caused so many people, especially me. But, there's been NONE.

He's being nice to me, but it's almost like we're living in this atmosphere of being nauseatingly "kind" to each other. There's no REAL feelings being expressed, it's like "put on a happy face and pretend that NOTHING is wrong". I'm afraid that one of these days it's just going to explode, because there are so many things that have taken place, and that have been AVOIDED. Physically I'M TIRED, mentally I'm EXHAUSTED, and emotionally - well, let's not go there. I don't try to think about my emotional needs any more because it won't make any difference. But, I HAVE been trying to help myself get stronger. (in a lot of ways) I distanced myself emotionally and in "other ways", and gotten involved in a few different projects. But, it doesn't seem to be the "difference" that Melissa talks about, when couples are trying to turn their lives around. It's still hard to positively live life, trying to go forward, when you know that so MUCH hasn't been resolved yet, and your partner doesn't seem to be on the same page. I know I don't need him there for ME to change. It gets lonely though.

    Sorry this has been so long. Hope it doesn't sound CRAZY, but CRAZY is how I feel my life has been the past several years. It will get better though, I'm sure. It HAS to.


You are not Crazy!

What you are feeling and have been through is so understandable and relatable.  I lived in that hell for 4 years.  Up and down, up and down went the roller coaster.  An affair just does something so damaging to the partner, it's hard to even describe in words.  If you can try to remember that his affair has NOTHING to do with you.  You do not lack any qualities, that he found in the "younger" version.  You are perfect and unique just as you are.  It is easy to be blissfully happy with another person when there are no real life obstacles he is facing with that person.  It's pure fantasy and the affairs never last!  All they do is create a LOT of pain and damage.  How sad that he (my husband too!) had to do something so damaging just to get his "ego" fed!

Your happiness does not depend on your husband.  If you can gather up some strength, find it for yourself!  I wish there was a magic formula that we could do to get there quicker, but you can and will do it - one day you will just know and feel that "difference."  For me, it didn't come until I separated from my husband.  But during that limbo time of emotional hell, I read, prayed, cried until my eyes were swollen shut, got counseling.  There were days that I felt like I shut out the whole world, God too!  I read everything I could about improving myself.  I took notes to remind myself of things when I felt really bad.  I started taking baby steps.  Then one day, I just had this feeling in every fiber of my being that said, not one more minute of one more day will I live like this.  I took my power back and started applying what I had read, and after less than a week of separation I feel like a whole new person!  I don't ever want to go back to that emotional hell!

I don't know if my relationship with my husband is salvageable.  I don't really know how you can rebuild trust after someone does such damaging things to you.  People do, and they swear their relationship is "stronger than its ever been".  I can't see that now.  Frankly, I don't really even know what questions to ask myself about rebuilding trust.  In time, the questions and answers will come.  In the meantime, I will savor every moment of this peaceful bliss!  My husband, well, right now his life is for him to deal with.  Amen!

YOU CAN GET YOUR JOY BACK!  That, I promise!  Kathie


Sad Truth

The negative environment the ADHD creates can, the way I see it, drive both partners to cheat.  I'm the ADHD partner and there have been times when I've had the non-specific desire to look elsewhere.  I know she has told me that I just shut her down sexually - just kill the attractiveness with the way I am.  Our sex life has declined in stages as we've gotten closer.

Fundamentally the parent-child dynamic is so opposed t healthy sexual relations that it can create such an unsatisfying life that both are tempted to look elsewhere.   

It's more than just exciting adventures, impulsivity, and a wandering eye.  If you are an ADHD man and your wife constantly nags you, belittles you, and has no sexual interest in you, what are you going to do?  It's an impossible environment to live in.  Maybe it starts with a profile on a dating site, you just want to know you are sexy and interesting to someone even if you have no intention of cheating.  

The ADHD spouse wouldn't spend so much time in the "gray area" of flirting, dating sites, etc, if he was getting everything he wanted out of the relationship.  He needs a certain amount of validation, especially since as an ADHD person there is a constant negative message of laziness and incompetence that has to be fought off.  If he knows he cannot get that at home, then he will look elsewhere.  It's also a way to retreat into another space where he can feel appreciated and validated.  Maybe he posted on this site with no intention of meeting someone but thinking someone funny, young, interesting, whatever, would message him.  And he might be able to put a feather in his cap that someone is interested in him still.

Of course that retreat can move from the "gray area" into darker territory really quickly.  I thank my lucky stars it has not.  Impulse control is not the strong suit of an ADHD partner and if he puts himself in an environment where there are going to be temptations, he may not be able to resist them. 

I can see it for the non-ADHD partner too.   Feeling like you have a child and not a spouse can't be good for your self esteem or allow you an outlet.  I'm the ADHD partner so I don't understand it as well but it makes sense that if one partner is sexually unsatisfied, both probably are.

I have to admit some of the threads on here... make me feel like I have it pretty good... as my girlfriend and I have not had cheating problems and we've both been steadily employed.   But I have been guilty of operating in the grey area, not dating sites per se, but of doing things of a similar sort of nature.  I started to realize that there were specific times I felt really driven to visit certain sites (ones she does not approve of)... and it had a lot to do with what I was or wasn't getting in my relationship.   

Sorry Sensitive Subject - But I Call BS!

The ADHD spouse wouldn't spend so much time in the "gray area" of flirting, dating sites, etc, if he was getting everything he wanted out of the relationship.  He needs a certain amount of validation, especially since as an ADHD person there is a constant negative message of laziness and incompetence that has to be fought off.  If he knows he cannot get that at home, then he will look elsewhere.

Really, so its the other person's fault.  I don't doubt that the dynamics of a relationship may cause emotional voids, but why not get out of the relationship if its so bad, before your eye begins to wonder, or your "driven" to visit certain sites that you know she doesn't approve of?  Anytime a party introduces a third party (even via the internet) into a marriage or a relationship, it is a road to disaster.  I still have doubts that trust can ever be rebuilt from that state. 

Having a lack of validation, or not getting everything you want seems a whole lot better than a spouse exploring the "gray areas" or having a full blown affair.  Do you suppose your girlfriend maybe isn't getting all her needs met in the relationship, too!  Isn't it better to turn towards your partner and try to work on those issues, rather than away from her?  The grass always seems greener without all the baggage of a "real" relationship!

Really, so its the other

Really, so its the other person's fault.

​If the dynamics of a relationship have a source, that source is ADHD.  It's not her fault, it's not my fault.   It's the dynamics that are making us BOTH unhappy.  Those dynamics drive people apart - to divorce, to cheating, to deep dislike of one another.

"I can't help it, it's my ADHD" never excuses it.   It's not a justification.  Cheating is bad, and always the cheater's 'fault'.  But there are environments that cause it, and if you do not address those problems, only heartbreak awaits.  Why would your partner want to cheat badly?  Something is wrong there if that's how he feels.  He's not being seduced, he's not just really horny.  He's actually out looking, even if only for validation.  Why should he need to?  It's a warning that something is wrong with the relationship the ​two of you have.

It's not a justification, it's just how it is.  Some people, it's true, cheat just because they can.  Some people just don't have it in them to be faithful.  But some environments drive people apart and into the arms of others, and this toxic, shame-filled environment is one of the ones that will do it.

Do you suppose your girlfriend maybe isn't getting all her needs met in the relationship, too! 

I do.  She absolutely isn't.  As I was saying, I can see the dynamic driving both partners to cheat.  She's as unsatisfied and frustrated as I am.  You both know it, because you're both missing something.  The reason it's not there is the parent-child dynamic, the blame game, all of the stuff the book talks about.

Isn't it better to turn towards your partner and try to work on those issues, rather than away from her?

When I realized that's what I was doing in that gray area, I did exactly that, and that's a part of why I am here.  It's often easier to retreat from the relationship - maybe by spending more time at work, maybe by spending more time on the computer, maybe at the bar, with friends, maybe flirting.  All forms of retreat, of getting away from the problems as much as you can.  The book and this site discuss this.  It's hard to turn to a partner who (you feel) is going to be furious at you and belittle you (or on the flip side, ignore you and tune you out).  But after I realized what I was looking for and WHERE I should be looking for it, I turned to her, to try and see how we could fix the problem.  

I have had a talk with her that in some ways mirrors what you are saying "Oh, so it is my fault?".  (About the relationship dynamics, not the 'gray area').   The ADHD relationship, like all relationships, involves two people.  ADHD is not an excuse for the ADHD partner to offload everything on the spouse, and it is not an excuse for the spouse to treat the ADHD partner like a child.  It's a dynamic between two people that needs to be attacked.  That dynamic will lead to people looking elsewhere.  It's an untenable position.

but why not get out of the relationship if its so bad, before your eye begins to wonder, or your "driven" to visit certain sites that you know she doesn't approve of?

Really I feel the same way - I know what we COULD have.  I know what COULD be.  I know I love her.  I want our relationship to continue.  But when it builds up and I need someone to tell me that I'm not just an annoying child to be picked up after...

Do I think about leaving?  Yes, I do.    But I know how it can be.  For that, for her, I stay.

Having a lack of validation, or not getting everything you want seems a whole lot better than a spouse exploring the "gray areas" or having a full blown affair

Maybe you can live with a lack of validation, but I can't.   Maybe it's not a big deal to always see that disappointed look in the eyes of the person who matters to you.   For me, feeling valuable is a pretty basic need.   What do you do, if you know something is wrong, but you also know you love her?  You try and try but at some point you just have so much missing and you know it's not just her, it's not just you, it's something else.   At some point you need to try to fill that hole and you care deeply so you don't just straight up cheat, but you try to find something that doesn't offend.  You go for that grey area.  If you're like me, you don't think about the why.  

It's like drinking to escape your problems; it assuages the pain for now but it does not address the cause and has long term consequences.  Just one drink never hurt anybody, but what about when that becomes 3 or 4?  And the ADHDer is the worst person to resist having one too many.

The grey area is a huge warning sign.  ​It *should* upset you.   It means that he's trying to get something he's missing while also not breaking any rules.  That proves he cares about the relationship enough to still follow the rules, but also that he's looking outside it for something.

Thanks for your explanation!

Thank you for taking the time to further explain.  Relationships are hard, no doubt.  And no, I can't live with a lack of validation, that why we recently separated.  Feeling valuable is a basic need.   I couldn't agree more.  Again, thanks for sharing your perspective. 

Not reading all of this post,

Not reading all of this post, but I did read the one prior to it and part of this one...

I just have to say this....NO ONE CAN KEEP UP WITH THE OVERWHELMING AND CONSTANT NEED FOR VALIDATION THAT SOME PEOPLE WITH ADHD HAVE.  It is ANY spouses job to compliment and build up their partner. God even tells us, in the Bible, as wives to build up our husbands. I believe this is part of my job as his wife. HOWEVER, if you are suffering from an overwhelming need for validation and 'outside' support, then you MUST realize that it is on YOU to GET PROFESSIONAL help to remove some of this IMPOSSIBLE job from your wife. We all know why you need it..negative thought patterns, past experiences, fear of failure...but to even suggest that it is even remotely an excuse to dip even a baby toe into a pool of 'outside of the marriage support' is just DEAD WRONG. Absolutely, positively WRONG. ADHD or not. Depressed or not. Bipolar or not. Cheating is absolutely never the answer and never 'excusable' by any behavior or non-behavior of either party in a marriage.

If you're suffering so greatly from lack of validation...get professional help to deal with it or GET OUT OF THE MARRIAGE.

If you're needing to visit the 'gray' area to fulfill some "not normal" need of yours...recognize it as part of YOUR issue..NOT HERS..and get help for it or GET OUT OF THE MARRIAGE.

I agree that both partners add to the dynamics of a screwed up marriage where there is an ADHD partner involved...but your 'excuses' and rationalizing cheating (yes, visiting dating sites and 'flirting' to escape IS cheating to many of us here) is proof positive that you are NOT addressing the real issues your ADHD brings the marriage. Were you saying "I've done it, I recognize that my ADHD being out of control led me to do it, I realize it is not within the bounds of my marriage vows, and I am seeking professional help so that I can learn to carry some of the burden of the monstrous amounts of validation that I need and not put all of that on my wife" then I would have hope that you GET IT. But you don't.

How do you know my needs are impossible?


If you're needing to visit the 'gray' area to fulfill some "not normal" need of yours...recognize it as part of YOUR issue..NOT HERS..and get help for it or GET OUT OF THE MARRIAGE.

​It's true that ADHD spouses and myself as well have some level of needs that are higher than average... but when does it become "not normal"?

The way I see it, it would be one thing if I never really felt satisfied, especially early in the relationship, but I was.  For around the first 10 months or so.  The first cracks started around 8 months - when I started spending a lot more time at her place because of changes in my job situation (my new work was closer to her place than mine, so I started spending the night there a lot).

You seem to think that a deeply dysfunctional, always fighting, ADHD Marriage provides all the validation that both partners need... I really disagree.   It's possible that even if the non-ADHD spouse is supportive, it is never enough for the ADHD spouse.  That's perfectly reasonable, I'm sure it happens, and your advice applies there.  My relationship and a lot of ADHD relationships are not in that situation.  

 I'm NOT saying that "if the relationship isn't working, the solution is to look outside".  Absolutely not.  The point is if that temptation is there, that pull is there, then something is really wrong, and that something is ADHD.  Toeing the line (wherever it might be) is a sign something is wrong.

but your 'excuses' and rationalizing cheating (yes, visiting dating sites and 'flirting' to escape IS cheating to many of us here) is proof positive that you are NOT addressing the real issues your ADHD brings the marriage

When I am talking about a gray area, for myself, I am not going on dating sites, I am not flirting.  I could get into a whole argument about what is and isn't cheating, but that's obviously up to us as a couple.  

The real issues ADHD brings to my relationship are NOT addressed, that I would agree on.  I am trying to work on them, trying to get her to buy in to work on them with me.  We've had some tough discussions since I found the book and I found this site, but so far it's given me hope I haven't had in a while.

You're assuming that I need huge amounts of validation without any basis for that, other than that I have ADHD.

And yes, I have been professionally treated for my ADHD for more than a decade, but it's only now, that I am in a committed relationship, that I am starting to see what it does to that relationship and how not under control it really is.


Thank you for clarifying that

Thank you for clarifying that you recognize the ADHD issues. I'm 100% on board when feeling that the ADHD vicious cycle in marriages does take two...I am sure that the 10 month mark you mention was a huge adjustment...she saw more of your ADHD issues and probably reacted poorly and the cycle began.

I am still not real clear on what you're saying...your initial post made it sound like you were saying "let's face it, when I am not getting what I want at home, I'm left with no choice to look outside of the marriage" (or something very close) with an attitude "some people take art classes, I seek out a female to replace where my wife is lacking". Marriage vows are marriage vows even when things don't feel good. Even when you're lonely and desperate for the touch of another human being...or a conversation that isn't completely focused only on negative things about're still married and that means that you work on the marriage even when you don't feel the other person deserves it. 

My experience, you can read the boards and get more detail, is that of being married to a man who goes through these spells where he feels he 'deserves' more than what he's getting from me and during these times he goes outside of the marriage to fill his needs. REALITY is, he is GIVING pretty much NOTHING but expecting to GET EVERYTHING. He simply does not see it that way...and there is no winning for me because he shoves me away and then claims it is somehow my fault that he isn't getting my support. This does not always involve cheating...but it has twice in 14 years. His friend told him, before he started his last affair "everything you need is at home" but it just was too much work for him. He is not always asking for validation and reassurances...but in 14 years I have figured out that no amount of support or attention is enough...and it IS impossible for me to fill up his cup...and until he works on this issue, on his own, with a professional I fear he will always end up back at 'that point' where he'll seek things outside of the marriage that are destructive to the marriage.

Anyway, I have been just as lonely and desperate for 'something different' (in my life in general, not SOMEONE different) for many, many years...I never even entertained the thought of cheating. Marriage is marriage. If you're not getting what you want you're either not giving enough yourself or you've got a huge breakdown in communication...or both...which is the case in most ADHD marriages.  

Reality check?

Easy on the capital letters, Sherri.  :D Where I'm from, that is called yelling.    Honesty, insight and opinion makes this site work for all to learn.  Please, please, don't let the intensity of your current struggles undermine your compassionate, insightful posts that we've all come to respect you for.  I'm not saying that your passion on the topic is unwarranted at all... just please don't lose yourself. 

Reality check

Thank you everyone for this on going discussion.  Hermie40 is right.  The value and insight that can be derived from this sight is contingent upon the ongoing civility and respect expressed between contributors.  All the feelings are real and valid and I applaud all of you for your bravery for sharing your thoughts and hurts.

I have just really realized something after selectively reading through these posts.  I am 42 year old add male and have been married to my non add 38 year old spouse for 15 years.  We have 2 boys aged 7 and 5.  Our 7 year old son has also been diagnosed with ADD.

My wife has asked for a divorce and cites our marriage problems on my ADD symptoms and behavior and adds to the complication that she now feels she is gay.  My wife only disclosed her feelings about her sexuality 2 months ago.  She claims she has not had an affair but she met someone at work who was gay and felt a very close connection to her.  She had a close friendship with this woman a year ago.  She tells me they both mutually decided that they could not continue the friendship because they were both in committed relationships but they also shared a mutual attraction to each other. 

When she was spending time with this friend I had a visceral jealous reaction to her interest in this gay woman... even though she said they were "friends."  I stifled my jealousy as much a I could and encouraged her to continue the friendship in spite of my jealous response.  In retrospect I feel so foolish to have doubted my gut reaction.  After reading all your posts my feeling that she has in some sense already strayed from our marriage has been confirmed.  I still love her and I want nothing more for us to work through our issues, but I feel she has betrayed and taken away my trust in her.  I also don't know if I believe her regarding the significance of her sexuality.  I fully believe that people who are towards the center of the sexuality continuum choose their partners based on the person rather than their gender.  I do believe my wife is choosing the easy way out rather than committing to the hard work of working through our issues and really getting to the root of our marriage difficulty.  We have been attending marriage counseling but my wife insists on separation or divorce.  I am so hurt and angry at her, that I have trouble expressing myself.  I do fully acknowlege that my ADD has had a dramatic impact on our marriage.  I have Mellissa Orlov's book and I am reading it now.  I have also give a copy of the book to my wife.  She has not opened it as of yet as far as I know.

I would love to hear from any of you.  You all seem so insightful and I am eager for any comments any of you may have.

Thanks, Rob H

I am hard pressed to comment

I am hard pressed to comment on the non-ADHD partner.  Even less, on the true sexuality of your wife!  But I can say that this sort of thing fits with what I am talking about.  Non-physical homosexuality is in that broad gray area.  It's easy to rationalize; why should my spouse be offended that I spend too much time with a same-sex friend?   I'm straight, it's not like it's going anywhere.  But sometimes it can go somewhere.  You could already tell that they were more than just friends, which is why you got jealous, so something was going on.

If your needs were getting met in your current relationship, that might not ever happen.   Of course it's wrong to get close to people of the opposite sex, but the same sex is a little more gray. How close is too close?  What if the person is of the same sex?  What if it's not even a person, but a chat room online you always go to talk to people about your problems?   The gray area is not merely "cheating vs. not cheating".  The gray area is whenever you turn away from your spouse for things most people would share.  When you start to look for emotional support elsewhere first.  

The bottom line is that the ADHD marriage dynamic (parent-child in particular) poisons the relationship.  You stop seeing your spouse as someone to trust, a partner in life, etc, and as someone who always nags you, always yells at you, always makes your life miserable.  The other spouse sees the ADHD partner as a child, a chore, an unpredictable source of chaos, etc.  

Once you are in that mindset, everything changes.  You went to work with your shirt inside out?  Rather than tell your partner and laugh about it, your first reaction might be to keep it under wraps so you don't get another lecture on always hanging up your clothes the right way.  (My situation is not that bad, thankfully!).  The non-ADHD spouse might resent every interaction just as much. 

And when it's that bad, and the ADHD aspect is not addressed, the BEST outcome is that you both stay together, burning with resentment for each other, knowing that you're miserable but staying in it for the kids, for your vows, etc

Of course most people can't live like that, and will find an outlet.  They'll try to keep it as "safe" as possible, try not to offend, but at some point it's gone too far.  New relationships, can be such a rush, it can easily feel like you're living again, for someone who has been down so long...   especially for an ADHD partner with hyperfocus.

I can't speak to your case really.  I can't tell you if your wife is gay (my gut feeling is that she is bisexual).  I can't tell you the answer to the million dollar question: can your relationship be saved?   Or even if it was really ADHD that drove you apart.

What I can tell you is that having uncontrolled, serious ADHD in your relationship can be so poisonous, that it can drive people out of the relationship, maybe by divorce, maybe by cheating, maybe by just avoiding the spouse as much as possible.   I don't know how to mend the fences; for your wife, being with someone else might be so refreshing after all those years, that she doesn't want to work on your relationship any more.  If your partner has given up on the relationship emotionally, it might be too late.  There's a difference between wanting to make it work and not being able to, and just wanting to end it.

Re: choosing what's real

Thank you to all of you who posted concerning my last post. This subject really touches on a lot of issues. I have a hard time understanding those who go "outside" the marriage to try to fix things and make themselves feel better. (like my husband did) We had a LOT of undiagnosed years where my husband's adhd was at the core of most of our problems. I did one thing different though. I didn't "nag" him because of all the adhd behaviors that I found frustrating. I went the "other way" and tried to be understanding and just "took up the slack". (I know better now)  He DID work very hard, (was a workaholic, NOT GOOD)  but in the 1980's, being a workaholic was something that was praised and heralded. I didn't make as much money, and my ridiculous outlook was that "things eventually even out". NOT!

    "Not nagging" didn't work any better than nagging, and not being resentful (at the time) didn't work EITHER. Something I don't understand is this: Even if we weren't living the "typical" relationship that adhd can often cause, why did the SAME results happen in OUR relationship?   (well, eventually it did) Because, eventually after so many years of me doing all the "grunge work", and him doing work that "meant something", he STILL went outside our marriage to find "something better". He didn't see "my kind of work" as important as his, because it didn't pull in enough money. But, I was ALWAYS working some kind of job/jobs, to bring in extra money. He NEVER saw it as both of us working towards one goal. We DID live seperate lives, but he KEPT it that way, regardless of how I tried to get us to do things as a couple. (don't do any more)

    There were SO MANY years that I didn't get what I wanted and needed either, but I didn't have an affair to try to "find something better". Example: When I hit 30 yrs of age, and came into my sexual "prime", I was burning up with sexual desire, which lasted about 10 years. My husband made NO EFFORT to let this be a natural part of my life and/or OUR sexual lives, and he avoided me like the plague. Something that was a NATURAL part of a woman's life, and something that he could have REALLY ENJOYED, was something he ignored and left me alone to deal with myself. If I had done what HE had done, and sought "relief" outside the marriage, there's NO WAY we would be together right now. He would have left me in flash.  I needed attention too: I needed to be validated too: I needed someone to tell me that I was attractive and desireable too: Why did HE feel it was OK to have an affair, and even follow through with it, but it wouldn't have been ok if I had done that. ( I was missing a LOT from our relationship and from him) In MY mind, it WASN'T OKAY to make things worse by having an affair. period. (even as much as I LONGED to have someone just put their arms around me and say "I LOVE YOU", it STILL WASN'T RIGHT to have an affair) Another thing:  My husband would never say "I love you", unless I said it first. (he still doesn't) I don't get this.

     I wish I could give the rest of you, who have also gone through this, some sort of wisdom or advice on how to "cope" or how to change SOMETHING. The only thing I can offer is that I HAVE FELT WHAT YOU ARE FEELING, and know what it is to have your heart ripped out of your chest, and be left with your heart and mind and soul "broken to bits". Nothing seems to make sense, and you can't put ANYTHING together to make even the "tiniest" thing seem "normal". (at least that's what happened to me)

    I see the damage and the destruction that all the undiagnosed years has done to me. I had put up with too much, and tried to be too "tolerant". I wish I WOULD have screamed and yelled at him for wrecking the house just after I had spent HOURS getting it clean, and make him do "his share" of work around in the yard etc. He would do a "tiny bit" (I'm talking about 10 mins worth), then yell at the girls and me saying, "I can't do this all by myself, you guys have to get out here and help me". (that was usually a Saturday morning around 8:00am) We would drag ourselves out of bed, after a long week, get outside and start helping him, but then my husband would GO BACK INSIDE THE HOUSE, leaving us to finish the majority of the stuff. In the typical adhd way, he would START things, NEVER finish them. Then he would complain to neighbors, family and friends about how much "work" he had to do, and take credit for how GOOD the yard/house looked. 

     Another thing: He also used me as an "excuse" to his boss and co-workers, etc. as to why he couldn't get something DONE that was required of him. All these years, on top of everything else, I have lived with a neck and back pain condition, caused by a car accident. I have lived in some pretty severe pain all these years. At times it's better, and I have a good doctor for pain control, but it's always "there". My husband would constantly complain, "I can't get any work done, because I have to do All wife's work, PLUS all my own work too". "I couldn't finish the report, or (whatever) because of my wife's pain. She needs me to do everything for her, and I can't get MY stuff done". I heard this for so long, I finally HAD IT. I yelled at him to STOP using me as an excuse for him not completing his own work. When he kept doing it, I started TIMING how many minutes, hours, etc he was actually spending "doing my work". The days where he actually spent TIME with me, or doing something FOR me, were few and far between, and the actual TIME spent "helping" me turned out to be a maximum of 4 minutes per day. (that was combined times) I would add up each few seconds where he was in "face to face" contact with me. He would get me a cup of coffee, or something, but not actual WORK, WORK. When I showed him the list of times, he stopped saying it, because he knew it was true. But, why did it take PROOF? He couldn't just take my word for it. I don't know.

   Since my husband won't confront how much the ADHD has affected our relationship, many things still stay the same, and all it does is push me further away. There are times he "sort of sees" the effects of how much it's affected me as a person, but he still won't address it. He's trying to be nicer to me, and helps around the house a lot more, (which I give him credit for) But it "feels" like to little too late, you know?  Am I wrong for thinking this way? I know I have to read more of Melissa's writings on how to improve myself and get myself to a better place. I don't believe things I used to believe or trust in things I used to trust in, which make me feel sort of "naked" emotionally. I guess I believed fairy-tale stuff or something. Gotta keep changing. Keep reading, and learning. I gotta get better, and keep climbing, and keep choosing what's REAL.

Have a good day people.

Nagging or Enabling - neither work

I feel your frustration and pain. I didn't really understand my behavior in the effects of my marriage until recently. I was a confident, independent, strong, giving person when I got married. My husband was undiagnosed with ADHD (at least to my knowledge). He was and has always been a workaholic. Frankly, I was too, but I was working on creating more balance. What I learned about my behavior is that I enabled him in the beginning, by picking up the slack. As his behavior got worse and worse, I became a nag. Nothing seemed to work. I got cancer and was getting sicker and sicker, and he, too, resented me because he had to pick up the slack (even though he did not pick up any slack). I laughed when you talked about your having to get up early to help him with his chores. Not in a funny haha way, but I have heard that so often - when my husband would decide he was cleaning the garage or doing a chore outside, the hole household went into a tizzy! I was sick for 4 years in a fight for my life, and I had so many needs that simply went unmet. I got lonelier and lonelier. Never once did it even cross my mind to go outside our marriage. During those 4 years, he went through a few very scary years of alcoholism, then drugs. He was stealing my pain medicine, I did not know this for a very long time. Even with my own illness, and his extremely bad behavior, I did not "cheat" on him. In September, I found out about the internet cheating. I was devastated. To this day, he justifies his bad choice by saying I was not meeting HIS needs. True, but how could I after years of the pain he had caused? He never once discussed his needs with me. Instead, he chose to get them met outside our marriage. He wants me to "forgive and forget", but all I can think of is what happens the next time he doesn't get his needs met. What I know for sure is that the best predicter of future behavior is past behavior. We recently separated, and I feel like a million bucks, without all the pressure of the drama. I'm not suggesting that you need to leave your husband, but I had to find some space where I could work through all the turmoil and find some happiness for me. I lost my identity in our marriage, and now I have to refind who I want to be. Find some peace for yourself, and try to focus on what makes you happy. Detachment isn't unloving or indifference. It means being centered and true to yourself, in any situation. You deserve more than 4 minutes of contact (hell, I had about 30 seconds). If your husband wants to change the relationship, then he needs to do some work. We can't change them! We can only change ourselves. Good luck and know that we are all cheering you on to find your joy!

I agree 1000% with everything

I agree 1000% with everything you said...especially the parts about 'looking outside of the marriage'. It isn't about keeping isn't about "I was more lonely/miserable/hurt/desperate for attention than you were" it is about staying true to the marriage and the commitment until it is TRULY over. I had two male co-workers that were hitting on quite heavily...and all I did was RUN from it. I told him "stop saying things like that to me..I am married" and I avoided him like the plague. God, I was so lonely and could have very easily 'gone there' but just the mere thoughts of turning outside of my marriage to another man made me sick at my stomach. God's honest truth. I don't pretend to be a saint...or better than anyone else...I just do not get how anyone could ever justify any kind of relationship with someone outside of the marriage. For my husband, it was all about the attention...and what I hope he gets, because God help him if he EVER does it again, is that you get what you give and if you want 100% from someone, then you give 100% of yourself.

For many years, during the time he spent 3 years sleeping on the couch, the only time he would seem willing to accept that his behaviors were hurtful (didn't know about ADHD then) and promise to 'do better' was when he wanted sex. And I mean it was SOOO short lived that he would literally convince me that he was accepting responsibility for 2-3 days and then get sex and that very night go out and get drunk. Is it any wonder I shut down completely? (physically and emotionally). He TRULY felt that 'doing better' for 2-3 days was HUGE. I guess, for him, it was.


if only they could string a few of their good moments together..

My husband says, I had needs, they weren't being met - ok, I was lying in a flippin hospital dying! So no, sex wasn't on my mind. All I can say to him is what about the 3 years you were a flippin drunk! How fun that was for me. Did I cheat on you then? His behavior changed for a day or two, then right back to pretending that I was invisible. God, if he could have just strung a few good moments together ... They were so rare, and random, and then they would disappear ... Never enough momentum to rebuild. Sad. I wish I could have your strength to stick with it, but I just got so tired of the drama, and I needed to save myself, literally. Staying would have killed me, and truthfully, I had to be real about what could happen. If the cancer comes back it will be terminal, and do I want to spend my dying days with someone who can't even focus on my needs for a moment, who demands from me something that I can't give him (trust - when he broke that trust)! Where is their compassion and empathy for the pain that they cause.
Keturah's picture

It figures

I copied the thread of this original post and all that has been responded to and/or shared with my ADD husband.  I sent the thread in an email and the subject line read "I'm just sharing this because I see a lot of these posts..."

All I wanted him to do was to simply read what everyone had written and possibly see where I fit and feel.  Also, to show him that neither of us are alone in what we are experiencing. 

Soooo, I wake up this morning, he's printed off the email and the parts that he can relate to.  Of course, he prints off and feels just like the 'person' who had stated that "The ADHD spouse wouldn't spend so much time in the "gray area" of flirting, dating sites, etc, if he was getting everything he wanted out of the relationship".  Wow.... out of all the posts.... he focuses in on the post's made by someone who has and is doing some of the same damaging actions that he is.  Again.... if you notice, I sent the email and in the subject line stated that I was sharing this because I see MYSELF in a lot of the posts. 

He never even acknowledged any of the posts that exemplified the pain and/or issues that WE all encounter.  Again, I felt as if it was flipped around to be about him.  He walked away saying that reading the posts made him feel even worse!  That was sooo very far from my attempt ....all I ever wanted was for him to try and understand how I feel.  He's not reading a book on the non-add spouse, attending therapy in hopes of understanding how ADD affects me ...our children.  But I am doing all of these things and more, I am really trying to make this work. 

Validation?  Where the freak is our validation that we are sticking by our partners and going through hell and back multiple times ....and the core reason for most of our reason to work on our relationships are simply because we LOVE THEM!  Who the heck wants to be hurt over and over?  No one sane that I know ....but all we want is the same understanding that you (the ADD'er) wants from us... UNDERSTANDING, acknowledgement of our feelings, the impact that ADD has on US ....we are not blaming you, we are trying to understand.  However, in my situation, I feel it's 1 sided.... I need to understand him and adjust. PERIOD point freaking BLANK....

Going online and talking to ex or a random stranger?  Sure, it's probably exciting ...but they do not have to deal with a home, kids, job, school, bills, woman issues, pains, diseases, ANY of the day to day things we deal with and keep doing just because!


WE SIMPLY LOVE YOU.... if it (the relationship) isn't working with US, do you really think that not addressing and fully working on your ADD symptoms isn't going to manifest themselves in future relationships?  It will be from one woman/man to the next until it's fully addressed!  It often seems to be that 'some', not all ADD'ers (in a fantasy world) would just like to have a person/body that is there for them when ever, where ever, no strings attached, for validation, encouragement, fulfillment, what the heck ever!  If fantasy is what you want ...then keep reaching outside of what you have to fulfill your 'immediate' need day you'll wake up and/or realize just how lonely life will be cozy'ing up to a computer and/or someone who really doesn't give a crap about you deep down inside.

To that?  I say good freaking luck!

BTW.... most of my questions above were rhetorical.

Signed.... fully frustrated!



It's not a justification

I don't want anyone to think that I'm saying ADHD justifies cheating...  Nor am I saying the ADHD spouse is the only one whose needs aren't being met.   I'm not even saying all cheating ADHD spouses are fundamentally good people and their ADHD (or their partner!) drives them to cheat.  Some just are cheaters.  I really can't speak to any individual spouse, to say what is ADHD, what is not.  There are compulsive cheaters who are also ADHD and fixing one will not fix the other.  There are ADHD spouses who will never get enough validation.  Each person and each relationship is unique.   Some people will never be satisfied, ADHD or no ADHD.

The one thing I'm sure of is that the ADHD relationship, parent-child dynamics in particular, put massive strain on the relationship.  I am honestly amazed that some of you manage to stay in relationships under such strain.  

I also know that if you are in these stressful situations you will try to adapt to them as best you can.   The book talks about "retreat" - the ultimate form of which is, I think, an affair.  But there are many ways that do not break marriage vows, do not look anything like cheating, but are still a way to avoid your spouse and detach from the relationship as much as possible.  It is all the same spectrum though.    From what I have read most of you have endured at the extremes of the spectrum; through things like affairs, alcoholism, and simply never being there.

I am much less far down the road than all of you and I want to change what is happening here.  That is why I am on this site, reading the book, and so on.

Reading what you write about spouses who only work hard a day or two and then give up, I have been there, been that person.  I think it's important to understand that even with simple chores, the risk sometimes feel so high that I want to run away from the task.  Let's say, for instance,  she wants me to do laundry.  Simple enough, dump the clothes in the machine, add the detergent, spin the dial.  But one day I spin the dial to the "wrong" setting.  One day I wash whites with something new and now they are all dyed a faint pink.  She gets really upset, tells me I'm an idiot and can't do anything...  What would you do in that situation?  Well if it happens once, no big deal.  If it happens again and again, you just want to avoid laundry as an issue as much as possible.  You don't want to do it because you know ​you might screw up, and if you do, a tirade is waiting for you. That sort of mindset devolves to you seeing your spouse as the source of all this anger and bad feeling, and once you are there, it's quite natural to withdraw from the relationship.  The pressure to do so gets very strong.

That high risk of failure is a big part of the whole dynamic.  You don't want to do anything because you don't want to start a fight.  It could be anything, no matter how simple or everyday.  Driving has earned posts on this blog, for instance.

So that means it's the non-ADHD spouse's fault?  Of course not!  If there weren't so many problems from the ADHD to begin with, it wouldn't get to that state of things.  If the ADHD was controlled, the whole situation would be different.   If there weren't constant screwups, then the spouse wouldn't be on the edge of exploding.

Remember that you can only control and be responsible for your behavior.  

Here's the big question though, what is the non-ADHD spouse supposed to do about it?  This is what I asked in the "Now You have an excuse" thread I started, and I still don't entirely know the answer.  "Do it for them"/"don't nag", and have nothing change, or blow up at them and get them to finally pay attention at the cost of driving them away?   Are you as the non-ADHD spouse supposed to pat them back every time they do a tiny thing right?  What are you supposed to do when you ask them to vacuum and they forgot the biggest room in the house?  

I don't really know the answer.  I really wish I did.  The book is a good resource, but it is a much more complex problem than "nag"/"don't nag".  

Growing up as I did, a lot of the ADHD marriage dynamics go back generations in my family (ADHD is very genetic).  I watched my grandparents have some of the fights I'm having now, and I want to break that cycle.  I'd like to break the pattern and set a better example for my kids.  If there's any good signs from that troubled past, it's that my parents (and their parents) stayed together for their whole lives.   But I want better... I don't want to be having the same fights for 50 years!

It's clear to me that both people have to be willing to make big changes, and do it for the relationship.  If either is fully checked out, and does not want to change, it will not help.  If either only wants to blame the other partner, it won't work.  If you read the book, the posts, and say, "Ah-ha, I knew it, he/she is the source of my problems", you can't make progress that way.

I'd say the first and most critical step is to find an environment where you can really get a grasp on how you both feel.   That alone can be hard, because the emotions, the environment are so intense.  I've sure seen a lot of intensity since we started down this path of discovery...



All I know is that he has

All I know is that he has done a lot of things to "retreat" and so have I...but without question there is no comparison to the hurt caused by the cheating. It destroys everything you ever thought about that person, your marriage, yourself, your family..your world. It is something that follows you through the day, into your bed at night, in the shower, in the car...everything reminds you of the person you love sharing themselves intimately with someone else. It would hurt when he went out drinking all night with friends. It would hurt when he would sneak behind my back and spend money we didn't have. It would hurt when I would find out he lied to me about things. But I could move past it and it didn't consume my entire life. The cheating did. His affair (which I found out about less than a month after my Daddy died from complications of an ATV accident) was completely and utterly devastating. If nothing else, think of how it makes the other person feel about you and themselves and consider other ways to 'retreat' if you must retreat. (not you specifically, just anyone in general)

My husband said to me, months after we had reconciled, just in a casual conversation about it "I never even considered how it would hurt you." Maybe that's ADHD...maybe that's just him...but how it would devastate him is probably the FIRST reason I would never cheat...very close second being that I could not live with myself.

I'd say "just do it right" but that wouldn't help

You really grasp the complexity of this. Why can't you just do it right the first time? Was I not supposed be angry when he washed my dry-clean-only Christmas-present silk pants in the washer and ruined them? I try to praise him for things I don't think he deserves praise for, like loading the dishwasher, but it sounds hollow to me.

I wish someone had praised me for walking 3/4 of a mile each way to work while he drove our car that I had paid for. (while I was supposed to be on crutches.) But that was pretty much what was expected, so I did it. He never acknowledged it.

My husband has never even thought about cheating, as far as I know, but he does retreat in other ways, mostly by playing games on the computer. I can see that what Sherri's husband did is a whole order of magnitude different. Sherri, I am so sorry that happened to you and your husband.

Fully Frustrated I Feel Your Frustration

Not only do I feel your frustration, this topic makes me so freaking mad, because my husband (now separated), does the same thing!  I try to tell him how I FEEL, and I get that same BS response ....If my needs were being met, I wouldn't have been doing it?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  That is your poor lame excuse!  In my own personal view, I'm not sure my husband has the ability to validate my feelings, ADHD or not!  Rather than face the reality of what he did, he looks to others to confirm that internet conversations is not "cheating".  Just once, I would love him to say, you know I hear what you are saying and I'm sorry that you feel that way, what can I do to help relieve your pain!  What can I do to rebuild trust!  Has never happened, and I'm sorry, but unless he deals with his issues, it will never happen.  I wholeheartedly agree, that going online and talking to random stranger, or even having a full blow affair, may be exciting, but both are total fantasies (because they don't have to deal with real life issues).  They sure put energy into that, hours and hours on the computer (or absence if they are having an affair), but yet, they simply cannot turn their attention towards us - the ones who have stood by their side THROUGH ALL THE CRAP!

Keturah's picture


I am giving you a cyber hi-5!  Total crap! 

I even asked my husband ...okay, so lets say it's not cheating.  Why would you constantly do the very things that i asked you not to because it/they would hurt me/us?  He responded and said that he thinks I'm controlling.  Controlling? 

Okay... let's ask another way. 

What if you told me that kicking you in your balls really hurt you.... my kicking did not cause them to bleed or you to die, but it still hurt nevertheless.  Would I be wrong for continuing to kick you where you asked me not to?  He said yes... Then I asked, so what is the difference?  He said it's because it's intentional and physical pain!

REALLY!!! Are you serious!

Intentional?  Your repeated contact isn't intentional?  Physical pain?  Hell I'd rather be in physical pain and see/feel the results of healing vs. emotional pain.  Emotional pain that I've forgiven and tried to move past only to encounter the same freaking hurt AGAIN.


OMG..... there has got to be a rainbow at the end of this storm! 

Thanks for sharing... <hugs>

Are You Sure We Aren't Married To The Same Man!

My husband told me the same thing - Controlling - I call BS!  In my view they take NO responsibility in their behavior and castastrophize ours!  Have I been a nag! Yep, but to use their logic - if he would change his behavior then I wouldn't be a NAG, because I wouldn't have anything to nag about!  They cause emotional pain, and they don't seem to care in the least that they do (or at least they won't admit it).  In my view, anytime either partner puts their attention to something outside the married (and I'm not talking hobbies/interests/friends here!), they are cheating!  The thought of him (my husband) sharing anything personal about himself with a total stranger (or with anyone else) MAKES ME SICK TO MY STOMACH!  After I found out about it, did he quit?  I highly doubt it, he just got better about hiding it and lying.  After all, he deletes the history on the computer every time he goes on it -- who does that!  I can find out, if I really wanted to, but why bother, the trust has been broken, and he has not done 1 thing to repair it.  He has never validated that it hurt me, despite seeing my pain!  Instead, he says, what "if I were meeting HIS needs then he wouldn't have done it!"  Really!  What about my needs! I guess they just don't matter and around and around we go!  The only hope is a really strong boundary, validation, and some sign of remorse! 

That's really sad to

That's really sad to read. 

After something that bad has happened, and the damage is so obvious and so vivid, that he would still not try and do what he could to help...   that just saddens me.  

One thing the book mentioned that I've wanted to say... is that nagging doesn't work because it is not an issue of motivation.  The spouse really wants to do things right, but can't because of ADHD.   That doesn't seem to apply here.

In your case it really starts to seem that he doesn't want to do things right, doesn't want to be part of the relationship...  Of course I cannot hear his side of the story, but that is what I see, especially when the stakes are so high.   Even ADHD people pay attention in the middle of a fight or a terrible situation. 

It's one thing to be ignorant of all of it... but once you know it, you see it, and you have to face it...  it's a different story.  Here I am trying to do what I can and find out what I can to fix things.

My husband has said,

My husband has said, repeatedly, how sorry he was for what he did, that he takes FULL responsibility for it, that he feels tremendous amounts of guilt for what he did and swears he'll never cheat again because he never wants to hurt me that way again/feel that way again. Before I found out about the affair..we were separated and I worked and had to have him come watch the kids for me while I worked. He would come to the house and sit and sob. He would call my SD to come watch our kids so he could go to the den and cry in private. (so our kids wouldn't see him). He would cry when I was on the phone with him. We would go to lunch, he would cry. I would ask him to come home and he refused, but begged me not to divorce him, but never gave me a good reason. After finding out about the affair it all came together like a perfectly fitted puzzle. I THOUGHT his tears were about losing his mom...his mom passed away during our separation, as did my Daddy. I THOUGHT it was about him not wanting to be with me but not having the courage to tell me. He later told me that it was the guilt eating him up inside and he knew that before he could come home he had to tell me and he figured when he did, I would divorce him. I also chose to forgive him and try again because he ended the affair before I found out about it. Granted, it was just a few weeks, but it was better than finding out right smack dab in the middle of it. I know for a fact he had stopped sleeping with her (she accidently confirmed this before she realized what she was doing). There was a gray area (him claiming it was 3 weeks..her claiming it was 11 days) but in the end I decided to forgive him because I saw true, raw remorse. I think he still feels horrible about what he did...and I hope he never, ever forgets that feeling. Our preacher gave a sermon about forgiveness and making mistakes and learning from them..and he said the best way to keep from repeating a mistake is to never forget the pain it caused you and everyone else the first time you did it.

Your husband would never return to my house or bed until he was on his knees crawling through flaming glass taking responsibility for what he did. My husband will say it was only for attention, but admits that he wasn't giving me anything and therefore wasn't getting anything. It isn't an excuse, just a reason...and you cannot live the rest of your life wondering if his needs are being met. I truly am happy for you that you've found peace!  ((HUGS))

And thus, we are separated

The closest my husband has been able to get as far as an apology ... is that he know he f** up! and it has always comes with a BUT!  There is NO WAY he is returning to my house and that is why he hasn't been in the bed ... no accountability, no remorse, only excuses!  I still feel sad at times, because I think of what could have been, but the reality over everything stops me from being hooked!  I am so much happier without the drama and pain!  You all have helped me so much by your willingness to share your stories and perspectives - they keep me grounded! ((hugs))

The Best Way to Say I'm Sorry

I came across this article that Melissa Orlov wrote and I thought it perfectly summarizes what we have all been talking about (the highlighted/bold/large print are my emphasis):

"Not all apologies are created equal, particularly when the offense for which one is apologizing is significant.  The best apologies are those that both signify regret and also help the hurt partner begin to heal, and they have some very specific characteristics.

Many apologies come with an explanation or caveat.  "I really didn't mean to hurt you when I wrote those inappropriate emails to my ex-girlfriend...I was just feeling so lonely!" a husband might say.  This type of apology implies that his wife was somehow responsible for his bad behavior.  But she's not.  She may not be paying enough attention to him, and for that she is responsible, but he has a host of possible responses to that problem.  He could tell her he feels lonely, request that they see a marriage therapist, or write that email.  He chose the email option.  It's his responsibility.

And now she's hurt.  The best type of apology in this case would be something that acknowledges his full responsibility for the action chosen, plus suggests a way to make the future look better.  "I didn't mean to hurt you and promise not to hurt you in this way again.  I'm deleting the person from my email files, Facebook account and Twitter list today.  If she contacts me, I promise to let you know.  Is that a good start?  And may I hold you and tell you I love you?"  In her hurt, she may still lash out at him, but his response acknowledges both his responsibility and her pain...and provides the foundation for positive forward movement.

And I want you to notice that in no place in this apology does he suggest to her what she might do to make things better - he focuses only on his own actions.

In cases of significant trauma that impacts trust, such as an affair, really big lie, or long-term issues around reliability, a single apology is not enough.  A long-standing 'posture' of apology is often necessary for an injured partner to recover.  This is sometimes hard for the "offender" to sustain.  "I've apologized...why can't you just get over it and move on?!" is the often angrily asked question.  While a single, or even string, of apologies is helpful, what rebuilds the damaged trust is the actions that accompany the apology.  Is the husband who wrote the emails willing to listen to (and validate) his wife's pain over the long-term and put his arms around her when she cries, even months later?  Or was he just apologizing because it was the most expedient way to get out of the hot water he found himself in?  Does he follow through on his promise to have no contact with the ex-girlfriend over time, or does she remain somewhere in his life?  His longer-term 'posture' of apology is the series of actions and continued validation of his wife that proves his dedication (and apology) are real.

And, again, adding an explanation or caveat doesn't work well.

This is not to say that the husband shouldn't seek to solve the underlying problem - his loneliness But unhooking it from his emails means that the couple can focus on the underlying issue, not on his bad choice.  He can continue to take responsibility for, apologize for, his bad decision while also asking that his needs be addressed in a meaningful way.  (And it's almost inevitable that once he opens up about his own needs, his wife will start talking about hers...)

Next time you need to apologize for something that was a breach of trust, make it straightforward and without caveat.  Suggest a way you yourself can correct the problem.  Validate your partner's hurt over the long haul.  Seek to address your underlying issues in a constructive way.  Listen to how your partner responds.  You'll find it's the best kind of apology."