Insight appreciated

Hello all,

I'm in a delimma.  My wife believes that I have ADHD and that this is the cause of our currant marital problems.  We have been married for 19 years and my 17 yo was just diagnosed with ADHD this summer.  She actually only met criteria on the parental questionnaire but was close enough on the teacher assessment that her pediatrician started her on meds and they do seem to be helping.  At my wife's request I have read the book and I definitely see similarities in our relationship.  I plan to discuss this with my doctor this week, but I truly do not believe that I have ADHD, but I am definitely willing to entertain the notion and recognize that i have some of the traits.

i am 45 and I am a physician.  I am meticulous in my records and I pride myself on clarity of thought and an organized, problem focused assessment of my patients.  My wife does not work other than some extremely part time work that is more for her fulfillment.  We have three children all two years apart.  

Shortly after children, we started to disconnect at times but would work it out.  Now that they are older, it has become harder.  A year and a half ago, we were best friends looking forward to the end of the day together.  For the last year we have again drifted apart.  She resents me immensely, and that resentment has only grown.  I resent her too for constant belittling comments and petty attempts at emasculation.  

I have never understood the basis for her resentment.  I believe it is simply resentment at the fact that I have a fairly dominant personality (we both do, mine is just a bit more) but I know that it is more than that.  Shortly after our first child, she had some post partum depression and she was venomous to me.  I realized that she was trying to push me away and simply sat on the floor in front of her and said "I'm not leaving you."  She cried and admitted that she was scared that I was ultimately going to leave so she tried to push me away so she could be in control.  Over the years, her defensiveness has not lessened.  Whenever challenged, she immediately attacks.

most recently, we have had a huge distance between us, emotionally and physically.  My frustrations were clearly coming to a head and she felt this.  While visiting her parents she found this book and it resonated with her.  On her return she asked me to read it and moved out of our bedroom.  I stayed up tonight and read the book.  The blame aspects, the anger, it's all there.  I'm just not convinced I am the source.  This may be denial but I am open minded and will explore this.

As mentioned, I definitely have the traits.  I have way too many hobbies and I start tons of hobby related projects that I don't complete, I am (or was) the fun parent.  When I do something, I'm "all in!"  My wife definitely handled the house and house finances but I handled all business finances.  I am also the flowers for no special occasion guy.  I play guitar to her while she falls asleep.  I get up and cook breakfast for the whole family (less often now as my dissatisfaction grows).  We were still going on regular dates.  It has been since Mother's Day that I brought her breakfast in bed, but does that sound like she is ignored (my words, not hers)?

I'm hurting.  We both are.  I'm going to the doc and be tested for ADHD, but I can't escape the thought that this "diagnosis" is a tidy box for her to simultaneously diminish everything positive I have brought to the relationship while at the same time absolving herself of blame.  Maybe I'm too hurt to see it clearly.  Any insights appreciated.

Thanks and God Bless.

 

Hello, I am new to this site

Hello,

I am new to this site and your post stuck with me.  There are so many similiarities between what you are saying and what my life is like.  First, my husband has far too many little hobbies and nothing ever is followed through.  The garage is never organized, despite the hours he spends out there "organizing".  He is a hoarder.  He runs a successful business, yet his methods are extremely outdated (will not use a computer, etc) but he gets the job done.  He is the fun parent for sure, while I tend to the day to day tasks- laundry, appts, groceries, cleaning, etc..   We have 2 small children and a third on the way.  I just feel like I am raising 3 children already.  I have little support from him and when I ask him to help he whines and complains like a child.  When I ask him to get milk he comes home with orange juice.  When he drives, he loses focus and we end up an hour out of the way, just last night I asked him to put  a crock of soup in the fridge after it cooled and it was still sitting on the counter top this morning. 

I get so angry.  I am always saying go to your md and get some medication.  He can't focus on conversations unless they are high interest on his part.  He can't remember details, has an exaggerated sense of time, doesn't listen to anything I say and has no ability whatsoever to multitask.  My emotional needs are not being met and I always feel like a single parent.  I guess I need to try to be more tolerant and patient but I feel like there is hope.  He feels he has no problems.  He thinks I am too demanding.  I am just trying to survive each day,  maintain a household, raise 2 children and work a fulltime job. 

Good Luck to all- I too need some insight!

Headabovewater, your comment

Headabovewater, your comment about the garage hit home for me. My (undiagnosed) husband has three areas of the house that are "his" -- the garage, his music room, and a basement storage room -- and he seems to be constantly organizing them. They might be clean for a few days before it looks like a tornado went through again. I don't understand how it gets to that point in the first place, because for me it comes naturally to pick up after myself as I go. I wonder if ADHD involves an inability to really "see" a mess until it gets out of hand.

I'm also new to this site, and every tidbit like this I read from others helps me fit the puzzle pieces together a bit more.   

This can be an opportunity to mend the relationship

Blind-sided,

First of all, I commend your commitment to your wife. 

I agree that not everything is all ADHD related. However, if ADHD is a possible cause for some of the problems in your marriage, you have the opportunity to fix some of these problems. This could be the kick-start for resolving other issues. It's tempting to get in a stand-off, but someone has to make the first move. I encourage you to take the first step.  As you said, you are the "all-in" type. 

You're a physician, so try to think of this in scientific terms. Your wife has the hypothesis that you have ADHD. Participate in some experiments that will prove or disprove that hypothesis. The first step is a diagnostic meeting with a psychologist. Maybe meds will be involved. In each step, be a careful observer of cause and effect. Consult your wife for her observations. If it is not ADHD, move on to another hypothesis. The point is to find the roots of your problems.

I have depression. Sometimes my meds need tweaking. I'm usually the last to know because depression comes with "blinders." It is hard to see the whole picture beyond my bleak point of view. It takes an outside source (my husband) needs to tell me that something is "off" because he has a better perspective. I think you saw that when your wife went through post-partum depression. Maybe you should consider that your wife may be seeing something you don't. ADHD has its own set of blinders. You may have some blindspots that you are not even aware of. 

 

Thanks doublej

I have an appointment set for Monday for testing.  I am open to meds, counseling whatever. I have asked her to be evaluated for depression but this really raised her defenses.

I suppose I will move out.  I actually have no idea how to proceed.  Leaving will crush our kids (13,15,17), but staying in such close proximity seems to amplify the hurt we both feel.  I have no idea what is right here.  She wants to "keep her backbone" and keep me at a distance but I can't see that working with me in the house.  We both agree that we don't want a "band aid fix".  We have been in hurtful positions before, not ths bad, and smoothed it over only to find the behaviors repeating.  We are committed to counseling and whatever else it takes to fnd a permanent fix with better communication tools.  

We had the marriage that everyone always commented on.  Best friends with support and respect.  I still don't know how it devolved so quickly.  She blames ADHD, I blame loss of consortium.  I feel this loss led me to all of these hobbies trying to find the joy I had lost, trying to either pretend I didn't need her or pretend I didn't care despite how much I was hurting.  I do have a hyperactive drive in this respect and probably need too much reinforcement in this regard and I've seen that this can be an ADHD trait.

I just don't know how much hope I have right now and neither does she.  We are still stuck in blaming one another for the hurt, even though we both know that isn't helping, and probably doesn't even matter at this point.  How can two such smart people fail to get past this rather grade school divide?  I guess if you've been hurting long enough, those shields just may never come down?

 

Linsy's picture

Responsibility only for yourself

From my experience, suggesting she gets help is a red rag to a bull. If you look after yourself, and get help with the ADHD issues that have troubled the marriage, you may find that the whole thing heals itself. Every time my husband looked like he was open to getting help, things got better, it was when he retreated into denial and blaming that things got catastrophically worse. We are not together for this reason.

BlindSided, a couple of comments

I might be wildly wrong but a couple of things occurred to me.

Firstly, the order of the most recent events - your daughter was diagnosed and then your wife found the book and moved into a separate room?  If so is it possible that she is angry at you for 'causing' her daughter's ADHD (and 'spoiling' her children?). Sorry if that sounds blunt but it seems that adding ADHD into the mix when she was already resentful could be exacerbating things.  It could easily take quite some time (months) for her to come to terms with the ADHD finding in the daughter but piling it on top of other feelings of hurt and distance just adds fuel to the fire.

Second, does she resent your career? Your children are in their teens, she can fast-forward to their leaving and then she will be left withour her own life and dependent on your income? This resentment that you describe seems to go back a very long way, does she feel she sacrificed herself for you and for the children?  And now, with ADHD added, it's even more "all about" you and the children, and even less about her? (I'm not saying those feelings would be justified, but whether it's plausible).  That could explain her retreating (she feels wounded and unwanted?).

Linsy has great points about working on yourself might coax her forward - but if she is also resentful about you and your daughter potentially being the center of attention then it might take quite some time.

Of course all of this gets thrown up in the air if your evaluation shows no ADHD.  Do you think it's elsewhere in your family? Or even in hers?

Sunlight,thanks for your

Sunlight,

thanks for your response. I had actually typed an attempt to answer but I guess I forgot to save it. 

Long and short, the last 48 hours have brought a lot of changes to my thinking. I am actually learning to accept my role in this and accept that she is probably right about ADHD. First, I didn't paint a very accurate story of what led to our in house separation. We had been fairly hateful and hurting to each other for weeks before things came to a head. She had actually reached out and offered to accompany me on a trip to our alma mater to try and reconnect. I snubbed this offer in a hateful way because I was hurting. While I was gone, she made more efforts and found this book.  My initial response was that she was trying to fix me because she couldn't accept her own role but I see that I was the one doing that.

We have repeated this cycle of hurt before. We love each other and so our eyes clear, we push through it, and things get better for awhile until next time which is usually worse. We both agree that this time something has to change. 

I think my wife's understanding of my daughters condition opened her eyes to what was happening to us and I have to see it as a blessing.  I have never felt that she blames me for my daughters ADHD though. No, as I learn more her resentment is not from this or work. It's the casual way I dismiss her contributions. I do it all. Leave clothes on the floor, hardly ever pick up after myself, clutter the house with crap I buy...  LOTS more.  She reads intentional hurt and disrespect into that shirt on the floor whereas I never gave it another thought because I was already moving on to what next little thing I had to do to accomplish the next challenge of the day. 

I have resisted and denied but I'm definitely coming to believe and accept my responsibility for this. It is making me question everything and totally doubt my reasoning though and I am completely spinning. I am the guy people come to for help.  I am a nice, loyal, loving, and giving person. It is SO hard to come to terms with this, because most if the hurt I caused may have been unintentional but some was definitely not. 

I hope that this is a more accurate representation of us. I think my first post was at least in part trying to get someone to validate that someone like me couldn't really have ADHD.  In this I know I was not being completely honest. It is so hard to reconcile these things I am seeing with my self-image...  I feel like I'm losing it. 

Baby steps...

 

ADHD doesn't make you a weak person

B-,

So my husband has ADHD. Sometimes he's OK with it and sometimes it really gets him down. He will feel like a failure or damaged goods or weak. I sense you may be feeling like that right now.

PLEASE HEAR THIS!!! For me, the non-ADHD spouse, I do not love less or think less of my husband because he has ADHD. The strength of his character is not determined by his diagnosis, but by his response to it. I respect him more when he approaches his ADHD with self-awareness. It's totally OK with me that he has weaknesses and it is OK that he may need extra help in certain areas (like organization and time management). We all have weaknesses. The most successful people learn how to compensate for them using whatever tools are available. That's character.

My sister was recently

My sister was recently diagnosed and we suspect my father had this as well. My parents turned hateful and divorced after i had finished college and it almost seems I am repeating the pattern...

Don't give up!  Please!  You

Don't give up!  Please!  You sound like a very thoughtful, insightful person.  It's hard to be married, it's hard to stay married, but I think you can do it!  

My husband gave up before he started.  He's sad that our marriage is in tatters but won't exert any time or effort to solve the marital problems or to acknowledge the role of ADHD in our situation.  I can't fix things on my own (I've tried; it doesn't work).

I won't. I promised I

I won't. I promised I wouldn't. 

I'm just a whirlwind of self doubt right now but ill settle down I hope. Self doubt has always been an emotion I quash immediately but now I have to go through EVERYTHING and question myself. Just makes the floor a little unsteady right now. 

So here is yet another question. Using the lingo, when my "hyper focus" on rebuilding our trust wears off in five weeks, five months, five years, whatever, are we just going to repeat the same thing?  Is this process inevitable?  I couldn't bear that...  Neither for myself nor for my wife. 

I truly believe that it is

I truly believe that it is possible to make lasting positive changes.  Will it require persistence and time and hard work?  Yes.  The only thing my husband has committed to is taking medications, and that has not been enough for him.  Necessary, but not sufficient.  I agree with Melissa Orlov that behavioral changes and communication are also vital.

No, you are not condemned..

.. to repeat the cycle. You might have to work harder than (some) non-ADHD people to learn new responses and habits, and it will take time to understand how you might have misinterpreted or not noticed the clues that your wife has probably been sending your way for many years. But just showing up to the battle is half of winning, and you seem very open-minded - also a great sign at this point.

My husband was diagnosed about 18 months ago and I believe he will never un-know what he has learned in the time since. There is hope, go for it.

Take a Breath

We can tell that you are in a hard spot and your feelings and thoughts are flying all over the place as you try to fix things. When I'm in this place, I start predicting all kinds of dismal outcomes. Pretty soon, I'm sure I'm going to be living in a van done by the river. :)

My advice is to slow down. Don't move out. (Remember when she "admitted that she was scared that I was ultimately going to leave"? A little bit of that could be in play, so don't make her fears come true.) Protect your kids from that turmoil until you two have a better plan in place. I suggest you call a truce with your wife for the next few days. Tell her you love her and are committed to her and that you want to find a way to get through this. Ask to put the problems on hold for now. Make it clear that you are not ignoring the problem. You are waiting until you can do something productive about. You'll go to the appointment on Monday and see what happens and where that takes you. (She probably has a lot of hope riding on that appointment.) Encourage her to go out (a movie, coffee with friends) and take care of the homefront so she gets a little space.

Speaking of the doctor's appointment, have you considered taking your wife with you? (We had a discussion about that here: http://www.adhdmarriage.com/content/need-advice-about-evaluation-my-husband.)

Finally, if you are diagnosed with ADHD, it's just the beginning of the process. I suggest you come back here to vet ideas and get insight from others.

I really wish the best for you!

Thanks for this. I've

Thanks for this.

I've definitely been changing focus towards fixing me rather than fixing her (what I accused her of) as I am starting to accept my role in this. So I've been viewing moving out as a respectful gesture to give her space and a chance to heal, but I am questioning all my reasoning at this point. I can't differentiate what is self serving, what is self- pity, etc because I don't trust myself. We will talk it through tonight. I don't want to decide unilaterally as I would have done in the past (I always know best, right?... Sigh) and I don't want her burdened with feeling like she asked me to leave. 

Can anyone kindof explain the benefits of staying versus leaving and the risks so we can discuss these tonight?

I asked my husband to move

I asked my husband to move out for a few months.  (Our children are grown and no longer live at home so having my husband here for them is not an issue.)  It's a relief in most senses, but communication has become even harder, because my husband just does not respond to email or text messages and he never calls.  

Rosber's picture

BlindSided, I have many of

BlindSided,

 

I have many of the traits you have. My wife was handling the finances for our house. I was handling the ones for my business. I felt I was the "fun parent" also. My wife tried to get me to go in for a diagnosis for a long time and I was resistant to it. I finally did and was diagnosed. I started taking medicine and it helped me focus, but I was still running on impulses and doing a bunch of hobbies.

Without boring everyone with my same story over and over basically I have changed my life in a few ways now.

1. I take my Vyvanse 40MG every day at 7am.

2. I am getting ADHD therapy

3. I read the book "The ADHD Effect on Marriage" and my wife re-read it at the same time.

4. I am turning my impulses into ways to benefit our family.

5. I have cut my hobbies down to family related hobbies except for one hobby that I rediscovered. Which is my car hobby from the past. I spend less time though on my car hobby, my wife has accepted that the car hobby will be my personal main hobby. Its also a hobby that my son likes to be involed with as well.

6. I have stopped thinking and acting like I am the fun parent. I have curbed most of my immature actions and now share myself with my wife and son as an adult. I am still fun, I am just not going to the extremes I was.

7. I exercise daily with my wife. We walk two miles every morning. We are going to start going to a fitness boot camp 3 mornings a week this month.

There is a wide range of symptoms with ADHD and you may not have all the same ones I have. I can tell you from experience, if your wife thinks you have ADHD it doesn't hurt to go in and take the test for it. It isn't a false testing system. If you have ADHD it will show up, if you don't then you will be told you don't have it.

Couples therapy doesn't hurt at all, you both should try that. Marriage is not easy and requires work no matter how great you love someone.

If you do get diagnosed as having ADHD then for sure read the book "The ADHD Effect on Marriage", get therapy for your ADHD and your spouse may need to see a therapist on her own as well.

The therapy has helped me and my wife a bunch. We are taking things very slowly and the biggest advise I can give any ADHD spouse. Once you start treatment, give your marriage time to heal and both of you need to give effort. My wife and I remind each other that I need to give her time and she needs to give me effort. Its really both of us giving each other time and effort, I am not the greatest at putting words from my mind into type.

Best of luck to you. If you do end up having ADHD its actually a super power if you treat it and if you turn your symptoms into positive symptoms.

Rosber

 

Thanks

It's good to hear there is another side to the mountain.  I loved the superpower comment :)

My two-cents worth

I've skimmed through all the posts and your latest comments and it sounds like you've had a complete change of thinking in very short time. I'm an adult with ADHD, a parent of a child with ADHD, a mentor coach for single working moms with ADHD, and an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to the subject of ADHD. All the facts and medical information is helpful, but when it comes down to it, I'm still an individual with strengths and weaknesses who wants to be accepted just the way I am. I want to offer a different perspective for you to consider. I hear you say it feels like this is your wife's way of blaming your problems as a couple on you, but what I see, is a wife who is desperately trying to understand something she doesn't understand. If you were to be diagnosed with ADHD, I wonder if she really would use it to blame your problems on ADHD, or if it would create a level of understanding within her that allows her to accept some of your quirks in a way she is unable to now. One of my deepest frustrations in my relationships has been the misunderstanding people have had about my intentions. I've been accused of not caring enough more times than I can count, and what's so dang frustrating, is if they could see just how much I care, and just how hard I try to please them, it would give them a sense of appreciation of the person they have in their life. I really believe that is what your wife is trying to do....gain a sense of appreciation for how much you do care and how hard you try. I was just diagnosed about eight months ago and can appreciate the confusion around a possible diagnosis, considering your success in your career. What you've pointed out is another misconception about ADHD. It's labeled as a mental disorder, so we automatically draw the conclusions about it, and many believe we have a hard time being successful. That couldn't be further from the truth! We are quite successful at what we take interest in, and people with ADHD have found success in a variety of career fields. We just tend to do it on our own terms. Being slapped with a label, especially one with negative perceptions like ADHD, is no fun. Finding out one way or the other holds the possibility of building a bridge to understanding, awareness and empowerment, that would otherwise be unattainable. I wish you the best!

Thank you ADHD aware

I deeply appreciate your insight as well as everyone else's.  I think my fears about acceptance of ADHD led me to try to see a selfish motive in her actions.  As I've learned more, I see I was defensively lashing out and ascribing motives to her that weren't true.

  I have ADHD. I know it.  I have known it a long time and I have hidden from this acceptance.  This is not the first time I have been confronted with this fact.  A few years ago I was hell bent on losing a little excess weight. I was prescribed a very mild stimulant / appetite suppressant.  It worked well in this regard, but the truly amazing thing was my clarity of thought and ability to accomplish so much more at work.  Charts were actually done. Dictations were clearer.  I mentioned this to my wife and her eyebrows raised. A few months later, she had the courage to broach the subject while we were away on a trip.  I of course rejected it, defensively.  At most I would allow that MAYBE I had some ADHD traits but not the disorder, and if I did, so what?  In my mind I was a full functioning successful adult.    You see I had this concept that ADHD was a school age diagnosis for kids who couldn't concentrate.  Further, I felt that it was over diagnosed and was being used as an excuse for lazy parents to explain their kids failure to succeed in some cases.  I am so ashamed of that last statement...  Please forgive me but it was true. When my own highly functioning daughter was diagnosed a few months ago, I was skeptical. I didn't want her to use a diagnosis as a crutch to not try as hard as she needed to to succeed.  Even then I refused to learn more about ADHD.  I guess I was just that threatened by the label, I just had to look at it in the most negative light.   Now I see something different.  Being forced to confront this or abandon my marriage, I am realizing what a fool I have been.  Now, I am hopeful that this diagnosis will serve as a bridge so that not only can I understand myself better but maybe my wife can understand me better as well.     I appreciate this venue to write and organize my thoughts.  I appreciate your sharing with me and making me feel less alone in this. I appreciate your support. A sincere thank you to all.

You are giving me hope by being so honest

My husband is currently saying many of the things that you said in your first posting. However, I believe that deep inside, he knows that he is somehow "different" to most people and has always been that way. I think he is able to delude himself most of the time that he is the person he really wants to be, rather than the person he actually is. Because he believes it, he is able to convince others of this. However, his is not always able to quieten the demons who remind him of his faults, and on very rare occasions, he has admitted/accepted that he has some negative traits such as obsessiveness, forgetfullness, disregarding other people and their feelings etc.  Following your story has given me hope that given time, my husband may also be able to make the journey from complete denial to acceptance of his problems. Just knowing about ADHD has made it much easier for me to cope with our problems, but to get some recognition from him, would be so welcome.

Acceptance

Endeavour, you can probably help me understand the other side of this thing. Your husband is lucky to have a wife who cares enough to try to understand him and relate to him. I'm unclear if you are hoping he is going to change, or if you are hoping he will be able to accept responsibility? You said "I think he is able to delude himself most of the time that he is the person he really wants to be, rather than the person he actually is." Without an example, I'm hesitant to read into this, but I wonder if it is possible for him to be both? I wonder if he has accepted himself just the way he is, even though he sees that he has faults that other people do not accept....or does he have trouble accepting responsibility? I can only draw upon my own experiences as a reference, but I know I annoyed my ex-husband to death...leaving cabinets open, leaving used tissues on the table (he trained me to fix that one), consistently forgetting to make biscuits with our dinner even though I knew he loved them (and often had several opened bags in the freezer because I'd forget I already bought them), serving dinner late or not at all, house not cleaned, running late, etc. After so long of not getting it right, I kind of just accepted that nothing was going to change and my attitude was that's just the way it's going to be. I could only try SO hard and fail so many times before I finally just decided I deserved some happiness, because the madness of trying to get it right, by somebody else's standard, was driving me insane! Not to mention it hurt to have my intentions inaccurately judged. The five years following our divorce was the hardest, because I didn't have the threat of his booming voice looming over me....I had no external motivation to get things done, and nobody acting as my executive functions (which is what the person without ADHD ends up doing most of the time), but I still had all the responsibility for myself and my two kids. The most frustrating thing about having ADHD isn't my personal quirks, it's everyone else's judgment and non-acceptance. There is so much I LOVE about myself, and the things other people find so aggravating are things that simply don't feel like they matter so much to me. They matter to the extent that I keep a job, keep my house, provide for my family, get my kids where they need to be, etc., and they matter to the extent that stress harms my health, but the day-to-day stuff of having the house look just so, or being exactly on time, or keeping the cabinets closed, just doesn't feel like it matters so much. Who I am and how I treat other people are the things that keep me awake worrying at night. That said, I can appreciate that those things ARE important to other people, so I try to be considerate and do the best I can, but what I look for in my friendships and romance, are people who share my same internal values and are willing to meet me halfway with the rest....who will offer to close the cabinet instead of grumble (at least not out loud), or make some kind of regimented schedule (with my input) for cleaning that's easy to follow. I used to beg my hubby to make me a to-do list, but he saw that as being too parental. I saw it as helping me to be more aware of what was important to him. Trying to put my thoughts into some kind of priority order is hard enough, let alone trying to prioritize my thoughts based on what's important in somebody else's mind. And trying to remember everything....very difficult. Even when I make myself a list, I have to remember that I have a list to begin with. I didn't know I had ADHD, but I knew how hard I tried. So you see, sometimes, it's just easier to accept our faults than it is to try to change them. Medication has helped me, but it's not perfect, and I can't be on medication 24 hours a day. I am my own worst critic, and I am always striving to be better than the day before....most days I fail at achieving that goal, but I go to bed and wake up enthusiastic, because I am grateful for the opportunity to try again. All in all, I really just want to be loved and accepted. Just. the way. I am. Because despite my quirks, I think I'm pretty darn cool.

You said that "we are what our choices are..." and I couldn't agree more. What I've realized since studying ADHD and taking medication, is one of the problems is that our brain loops. It thinks a thought and gets kind of stuck...maybe not on the same thought, but stuck in the thought mode instead of action mode. I can explain this to you only because the medication has changed this for me, to a certain degree. When I'm on a medication that works, my mind thinks thoughts, sorts them automatically into some logical order, and my actions follow my thoughts...things get done. When I'm not on medication, or on an ineffective medication, I think about what I should do, and that thought triggers another thought, which triggers another thought...I may even be envisioning myself getting done what needs to get done and thinking about how pleased the other person will be when I do it, all while sitting there not doing anything (well, usually I'm doing SOMETHING, but not the something I'm supposed to be doing)....my point is, my brains gets stuck in thought instead of actions, so what you see on the outside is my actions, but there's a WHOLE lot more going on that you can't see. It's not because I don't care. It's because my brains gets stuck. That's not to say I can't change that. I can, and I often, to sometimes, do. I just want those without ADHD to realize that my inaction is not because I don't care.

I share this with you in hopes that my personal story will have some parallels that create some insight for you. I imagine as the partner without ADHD that it's pretty painful to feel like your needs and desires have been disregarded. Even if your husband won't accept that he has ADHD, your newfound knowledge can go a long way in forming your own acceptance and putting you in touch with some valuable resources to help him.

Thanks for taking the time to

Thanks for taking the time to respond. It is only the personal accounts of enlightened ADDers (that's what I call people who accept that they have ADD and it has knock-on consequences for the immediate family) and their partners that has allowed me to escape that madness that had become our daily life and to regain my confidence and self-worth. There are indeed many parallels between our experiences. You ask if I am hoping that my husband is going to change or is it enough that he accepts responsibility. I'm not sure you can separate these 2 things. For him to take responsibility for some of his most unpleasant behavioural traits would in itself be a huge change. You are completely right when you suggest he has accepted himself with his many faults, because he doesn't believe he can change anything. He believes he is "made" that way and can only adapt his behaviour by not being true to himself. He did make huge efforts when he thought I was going to leave him, but after a while simply admitted that he couldn't continue like that. Since learning about ADHD, my perception of my husbands' actions has changed enormously. For example, he frequently makes insensitive/offensive/insulting comments. I used to react badly, telling him how hurtful his comment was. He would (sometimes) seem surprised, and immediately defend his position either by saying "Don't be so precious" or by pointing out that everything he said was factually correct so he shouldn't be criticised for saying it or dismiss it saying it was just a joke and I had no sense of humour. This would of course escalate the situation as far as I was concerned, and I would be left feeling hurt, weak, inadequate and (sometimes) abused. Now, in a similar situation, I understand that the comment is often made impulsively and with absolutely no understanding of social niceties (like a toddler innocently saying "look at that fat lady"). I believe that he only realises his gaffe when he sees my reaction (I'm not sure whether at that stage he actually thinks "oh no, that came out all wrong" or " I shouldn't have said that") or whether he still fundamentally believes that he is "right" to say whatever he wants. I recognise the defensive comments as a habit/coping mechanism which he has created over so many years, that it clicks in automatically. I still don't like the fact that he makes these comments, but my reaction is completely different. I don't get so angry. Sometimes I simply ignore him. Sometimes I walk away before he can start the lame excuses. Occasionally, I am calm enough to say something like " You probably didn't mean that to sound like an insult, but it did".  Either way, I'm able to move on without bearing (too much of) a grudge. In discussion, I've established that my husband truly believes that if something is not said with malice, then it is not malicious. His complete lack of empathy means that he does not appreciate that the recipient can interpret it with various emotions.

I have not consciously made an effort to change how I behave in this situation. It has happened sub-consciously as a result of me learning about ADHD, which offers a logical and plausible reason for why my husband behaves as he does in certain situations. Beforehand, the only sensible explanations I could come up with were because he's nasty, because he has to subjugate me to feel in control, because he doesn't love me, because he has no respect for me etc etc.  I think that my husband is aware of the change, but is not aware of the reasons behind it. Until he is able to accept he has ADHD or WXYZ or indeed any other brain condition that sometimes distorts the way he thinks, we cannot work on the problem as a whole. I can only chip away at single behavioural traits such as impatience, forgetfullness, lack of consideration etc. That is why I was so affected by the original posting from the guy who had gone from a position of denial to enlightenment.

You don't say whether you have had other significant relationships since your divorce. But if you ever get to the stage of living with somebody else, could I suggest that you get them to learn as much about ADHD beforehand?

Knowledge is Power

It sounds like you are doing as much as one person can do. Sometimes it only takes one person working on things to create a massive shift in the relationship. Your change of perception may be exactly what your husband needs to feel safe to move toward acceptance and begin taking responsibility.

I have had two significant relationships since my divorce, and I would say my ADHD affected each in different ways but were not a major contributing factor to their end. Our values and goals simply weren't aligned well enough. I would say the same was true for my marriage, but I certainly was more committed to it, and I'll never know what that knowledge could have meant to it. Our daughter was diagnosed a few months ago and he still thinks it's just an excuse, so it's hard for me to believe anything would have been different. We really were like oil and water. If anything, I think ADHD negatively affected who I ended with as a partner, because I admired the strengths I didn't possess, and that admiration was superficial. I've since done a deep dive on my values and have a better sense of what traits I most highly desire to feel satisfied in my relationship, and organization is not among them (although it certainly would be a perk!) It's true...knowledge is power, and a little bit of it can go a long way in serving a relationship well, and your suggestion is well-received.

I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your experience. I hope your newfound knowledge brings you healing and the effort you are making is rewarded with prosperity and happiness in your marriage!

You give me hope as well

When you said that you have not made a conscious decision to change but your attitude and response has changed over time I felt more optimistic than I have in weeks.  I know that my wife is still well entrenched in her defensive blame, perhaps more so now that we are both coming to terms with what appears to be the root of our problems. I at least have an answer. I have to admit that I hurt her even though in the beginning I had absolutely no idea. In the later stages I knew I was hurting her with my anger but I guess I felt that it was a reasonable response to the constant hurt and rejection I was feeling.  I'm ashamed of that response but I can see it.  And I am slowly coming around to forgiving myself for this.  

She, on the other hand, has a bigger hill to climb.  She has to forgive herself for that constant rejection that has crushed me.  She has to do that and let it go before she can ever even begin to forgive me.  And she has to do it knowing that she withdrew on purpose.  It won't matter to her that her reactions were the same as mine, a response to hurt from the one person to whom you made yourself most vulnerable.  It won't matter that she was doing the absolute best she could possibly do with a constant feeling of rejection due to distraction that has gone on I guess forever.  Admitting to herself her role is going to rip her apart, possibly worse than I have felt ripped apart these last several days.  And I absolutely bleed for her in this because I know it is coming.

Right now she still keeps me at arms length.  She is so well entrenched in her defenses, she can't even see that she still blames me almost entirely.  Emotionally I agree with her, but logically, I know that our reactions to each other make us equally responsible for this mess.  I'd like to take the blame entirely but that is not going to help us.  At least when it comes to the chicken or the egg question, I can now say that my in attentiveness was the likely start of it all.  I couldn't really admit that even yesterday.  I still held on to my belief that my responses were all because she pulled away and denied me a true connection to her.  Maybe my conscious responses were, but I still am responsible for the distractiveness, the unfulfilled needs, and my own denial of my problem.

Its pretty hard to go from seeing yourself as a victim to seeing yourself as a perpetrator and taking stock of all the character flaws that admission uncovers.  I do not envy anyone that journey and I would especially love to spare my wife.

 

Suggested reading

If you have not already done so, can I suggest you get your wife to read Gina Pera's Living on the Rollercoaster (or some similar title) and You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid.  The first is aimed specifically at spouses, and I have to admit to feeling overwhelmed and depressed when I first read it, although reading so many anecdotes that mirrored by own situation validated my emotions. I read it again a year later after I had read the second book and also watched some of Russell Barkley's videos on YouTube and felt much more positive about it the second time. The other book is aimed predominantly at Adults with ADD and gave me a much better insight into the emotions my husband might be experiencing. Also, does your wife use this forum? She may get just as much benefit from it as you do, although I appreciate you may feel uncomfortable at letting her see your postings and vice versa.

You have survived the first, and biggest, step of recognition of your problem. Of course, its not going to be an easy journey, but at least all the other steps are much smaller ones. Bon Courage!

One other thing...

ADHD aware, you brought up another point that is a concern for me. In my current state I'm a bit mistrustful of myself. You mention that I have had a rapid change of thinking in a short time and that rapid transition is a warning flag for me as well.  Is this acceptance or am I just focusing on this because it offers an explanation of actions and feelings that I just can't otherwise reconcile with who I "know" myself to be and who I know my wife to be?

I see an evolution in my posts as I at first left out pertinent details so as to shape my thoughts of events into something I could accept. I slowly transitioned into giving a much more accurate portrayal of us as I realized I could maybe start accepting this truth.  My question is, when will I know I have it right?

Note to BlindSided

Only you really know the answer to that question, but it sounds like you have had some deep-seeded denial for awhile, and the threat of your marriage ending is forcing you to face what you've already known in your heart. You've gone from saying that you don't think you have ADHD to saying you know you have it, and you've known it for a long time.

My diagnosis came as a fluke. I was in an accident and had a neuropsych evaluation. My report came back as having ADHD. I was shocked, because I wasn't expecting the test to measure for that, but not surprised, because I had suspected it years ago. She offered to refer me to someone, and my first reaction was...what for? I was opposed to medication. But the more I thought about it and the possibility of things being different in my life, the more curious I became. I'm now on a medication that works, and I'm getting things in order that had been in disarray for years. I went through a period of depression as I came to terms with it all, but in the end, I'm still me...nothing has changed other than my understand and my mission in life. There is a negative perception out there, which is unfortunate, but my mission is to shatter those perceptions by showing the world a different face to ADHD. Please don't feel ashamed of the beliefs you had about ADHD....many people share that belief. People simply don't know better, and we've done a really poor job of educating them and making ADHD seem like such an awful thing. Once you know, you can help give ADHD a different face...the face of success. There is SOOOOO much that is GREAT about people with ADHD, but you never hear about that!! We tend to be very creative in our thinking, fun, spontaneous, intuitive and thoughtful....all extremely valuable traits!! Frankly, I have a very hard time looking at it as a disorder. To me, it's simply a different way of thinking. I know your head and heart are in a tailspin, but what you need to know is that ADHD doesn't change who you are. It simply changes your understanding of why you do the things you do. Getting it "right" is kind of an elusive goal. You'll know it's "right" when things start moving forward, instead of remaining stagnant. From the mouth of Dr. Phil...do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Make happiness your goal, and everything else will fall into place. Perhaps getting treatment for your ADHD is a first step toward repairing your marriage, but it's not the only step. Every relationship requires two people to give 100% to make it work. You need to know that an ADHD diagnosis doesn't make you responsible for the problems in your marriage. It simply gives you another tool in your toolbox to work with.

Your words are so valuable

I appreciate your point of view and willingness to share it.  I read and re-read these posts and your response to endeavor. You are quite simply an awesome resource here. A heartfelt thank you.

Okay. The winds are still

Okay. The winds are still blowing and we can't see where we have landed but the house is back on the ground and largely intact.  

I was diagnosed with ADHD yesterday. I start Ritalin tomorrow.  Before my doctors appointment, my wife and I went to a counseling session with an ADHD coach / marriage counsellor.  It was quite a day.  I was completely freaked out.  I have been threatened by the diagnosis, threatened by what I expected would be the response from my doctor (a good friend), still threatened by the hurt I'm feeling from my wife,...   I am not scared of much.  I'm not scared of public speaking, I'm not scared of flying.  I'm not scared of bears.  I'm not scared to hold someone's life in my hands.  I will literally beat the holy crap out of a mugger with his own shoe if he comes for me or my family, but someone seeing me for what I really am?  Well that just petrifies me.

I was a hot mess heading into the counseling session.  We sat for an hour in the parking lot in silence before the appointment.  We had gone to the gym together that morning and had decided to head down early to get lunch prior to the appt.  Pretty ambitious to think that either of us would have an appetite.  A relatively minor (in retrospect) kid/car issue derailed us a bit and got her angry.  The tension in the car grew on the way down. I was reaching for any reinforcement I could get because I was feeling so threatened and insecure and therefore I talked. A lot.  I guess I do that.  My wife has been very reluctant to show emotional support in this, it's part of her defenses I think.  She doesn't like to think that my responses are born of hurt and rejection.  It's just easier to see me as "hateful".  She finally asked me a question about why I behaved a certain way recently. Now this was a discussion we had already been over.  I tried to answer her and got slapped down hard.  End of discussion.  I must have interrupted but I don't recall interrupting.  I thought I was getting to the point and answering her question.  She said I was yelling and angry.  I know I didn't feel angry.  I didn't feel I was yelling.  She told me that this is why she never fights back anymore... "I can't ever win an argument with you!"  And that was that.  Yes, we have had this encounter several times before and I am still baffled by it.  I know I am somehow invalidating her feelings by my response but I truly don't understand why.  I really suck at this and it is NEVER the response I expect.  I can't stop myself from responding (and i was asked to!) so boom, there goes the convo.

The wait in the parking lot was terrible.  I felt like I was sitting on the Black Bench again in first grade outside the pricipal's office.  Couldn't talk, couldn't move...  Inside was worse.  Our counselor was nervous.  I guess from the hurt tension between us.  She went into ADHD and to my surprise, she didn't grill me about all the things I was doing wrong.  She didn't make me feel stupid or broken or even at fault.  She tried to get us to work through some communication exercises which were extremely painful.  During one of these she picked up on the extreme defensiveness of my wife and actually called her out on it a bit.  My wife's response was more defensiveness and withdrawal, but the counselor skillfully moved on to different ground.  On the whole, I didn't have to be so scared.  The counselor was kind and she really was just feeling us out in a gentle way.  I munged it up a bit in the communication exercise by combining too many issues and thought processes but, what are you gonna do?

Round two.  I get to my doctors office and I have simply no idea what to say.  This guy knows me in a professional way and we have great mutual respect for each other.  And here I was, walking into his office basically asking for a controlled substance.  I went into why I was there, recounted a lot of my stuff from childhood on and my wife actually jumped in and bailed me out when I got stuck.  Once again, not the response I had feared.  Open, honestly wanting to help, completely at ease with the whole thing he was great.  I start a stimulant tomorrow.

The ice was breaking a bit and I felt like my wife was connecting a little more, not just resisting every little overture.  We decided to go to the grocery together and figure out dinner.  Before we were married we did this almost every evening when we lived in Memphis.  We cooked dinner together and it was good. The kids were happy and we shooed them all to bed so we could make the final hurdle of the day, Melissa's phone in group counseling session.  Our first session of the day was like sucking a hint of dew from a honeysuckle vine.  This one was like drinking from a firehose.  It was session two and it was on anger, something we hadn't come to grips with yet.  It was like she was reading our life together...  We were guilty of every bit if it.

I was feeling my wife pull away a little again and was a bit confused.  She actually fell asleep on the last slide and I found myself wondering how I was supposed to feel about that.  I mean, to me, this was our life...  I woke her and she rallied for the questions but at the end she looked at me and said, "I know you want to talk about all of this but let's try to wait for the morning, okay?", turned her back to me and gone.  Out. Kaput.  Saturation point exceeded.  I have to say I was hurt. I just needed some loving gesture or reinforcement that we were somehow better off than we were yesterday.  Besides, I wasn't exactly comfortable with the new terminology, "emotionality" or "emotional impulsivity"...  Where I came from admitting to anything with the word emotional in the description was grounds for an ass-whipping.  So I needed her to wake up and reinforce that my feeling like a wuss was okay.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.

This morning I hit the gym early.  We barely crossed paths which was okay because we were both sorting through our own views of the previous day's events.  I guess the exercise helped my focus because I did actually pick up my clothes and I MEANT to make our bed...  I made my own coffee and then promptly left it on the counter right next to my neatly folded Ritalin prescription that I had vowed to myself to get filled for myself so my wife would not have to feel like she was forcing me into doing something I didn't want to do.  Sigh.

Work was busy and my wife came by to drop off the prescription but I didn't make any headway against that arms-length distance in her eyes because I was still too busy castigating myself for my inability to follow through with my intentions.   I had an appointment and then ran a quick errand for my wife before heading home.  She cooked a nice dinner and I did the dishes (okay full disclosure, I recruited my baby to help so it all got done and she could show me where everything went).  We sat down to read a bit and I plugged in to this forum to read some responses.  I was deeply appreciative of the many insights as usual, but Endeavour's post really resonated with me.  As I typed a response, I realized that it wasn't really all about the how's and whys that I have been chasing (how did this happen to us?  Why don't you love me?), but simply about forgiveness.  Forgiveness that can lead to acceptance.

We came upstairs to do the homework our counselor had given us.  It was a communication tool (mirroring) and as silly as it seems to me, I have to accept that what I'm doing right now and what seems logical to me is not working.  Before we started, I sat her down and looked into her green and yellow eyes and asked for two favors.  She gave a timid smile like she would rather have just done the dishes herself...  And I asked her to please forgive me. I am so sorry for all of the hurt that I caused her and whether it was intentional or unintentional was irrelevant.i told her I was tiring hard to forgive myself as well.  I then asked her to please forgive herself, because I already had.

A few days ago, I changed my name on this site from Blindsided to Blind.  I've uncovered a lot of things I didn't expect to see.  We both still have a long way to go and a lot of skills to deveop.  We both know and acknowledge this.  But when I saw the softening in her eyes, I knew I didn't want to be blind anymore.  The kiss that followed was all the reassurance I ever needed.  I know I'm a bit hypersensitive but I'm going to find a way to communicate my needs to her without dwelling on hurt feelings.  And I'm going to find a different language to convey my respect for all she does for me.  I guess I'll learn the language of laundry.  Come Hell or high water...

the firehose

I'm so delighted that you are working with a counselor who is able to help you feel safe as you start to work with these issues.  So funny you mention the firehose analogy on my course - I often warn participants that there is a lot of information in it and it's like drinking from a firehose - often couples come back to it again later when all the information has had a first round of absorption.  I do it this way to jar people out of the stories they tell themselves (such as "the ADHD partner needs to be fixed" and "if you would just stop being so angry everything would be fine") but, of course, appreciate feedback if you think it's too much!

I am DELIGHTED that your wife was willing to be supportive and take the 'risk' of softening her approach to you - and also that you were willing to take the risk of talking about forgiveness.  Both of these things bode well for you as a couple.  Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, but what you are discovering and writing about is a good start.

Rosber's picture

Glad to see you are working

Glad to see you are working through things!

Make sure to give your wife time and not to push her. Thats been the hardest thing for me.

Light at the end of the Tunnel ... Keep Moving Forward

Admittedly, I don't have the attention-span to read all of the comments, so forgive me if I repeat what others have said.

I've been diagnosed with ADD for about 4-5 years, my wife is Non-ADHD. I closely identify with many of the issues you've outlined ... Great marriage that others always comment positively about, dominating personality, unintentionally & sometimes intentionally hurting/ignoring each other, etc. Therefore, I do want to commend you for your willingness to identify and fix problems that have arisen. Nonetheless, I also want to caution you. The thought-process of "we've always had a great relationship," along with your personality, career, hobbies, etc. are most-likely play a big role in her feelings of being ignored, not-appreciated, loved, etc. I was in the same boat, steadily rowing the boat wherever I wanted to go, whenever I wanted to do it. I lost sight of the fact that my wife was in the boat with me. I took her silence as affirmation that our relationship was as strong as it had always been. I was wrong. WAY wrong. Little did I know that she was pulling away from the connection that we'd always had. Long story short, it almost ruined everything.

Fortunately, we righted the ship. It took a LOT of work from BOTH of us. And — although we're still working every day to keep things moving forward — We both feel that we are infinitely closer and stronger than we have ever been in our 10 year marriage. There are a lot of factors that have played into that progress, but I'll try to list a few here without getting too lengthy.

• TWO-WAY STREET:

If your wife feels like you might have ADHD, she did the right thing by asking you to consider it. If/when you're diagnosed, however, she must understand and accept that ADHD is not just your "problem" to fix. Your ability to accept the ADHD, learn and understand it more, and possibly take medications will obviously play a big part in getting your relationship back on track. But she will have a lot of work in store, as well. She also needs to ACCEPT and UNDERSTAND the ADHD. She will need to come to terms with the fact that there are behaviors that aren't always in your control. Yes, knowing these behaviors gives you the ability to work on changing them, but it doesn't happen overnight. She will have to learn which behaviors are worth getting upset about, as well as the behaviors that she needs to "just let go of."

For several years after I was diagnosed, my wife knew I had ADD, but that was about it. She still blamed me for, and got upset about, every behavior. When I tried to explain to her that these were ADD-related issues, she just heard it as an excuse. It was black/white with her. Either I fixed a behavior or I didn't. She didn't recognize the progress, or the sincere effort I was putting forward. Not that I blame her necessarily. I can't imagine what it must be like, to live with me. But my point is that your wife will have to accept the idea that —while she isn't the one with ADHD — she will play an active (and sometimes INactive) role in your combined efforts to live happily with ADHD.

Eventually, my wife turned a corner where she finally began truly understanding why I do, or don't do, certain things, and why I do things the way I do them. She began to see patterns. And instead of getting angry, or expecting me to fail, she began anticipating potential problems. Instead of expecting me to fail, she began working with me to find better ways to do what needed to be done ... and most importantly, she found ways to help me understand what SHE needed from me, what was important to her, etc. Another big thing was that she started realizing that some behaviors just weren't worth getting upset about.

I think I've said this in almost every post I've made on this site, so I'll put it here too ... To me, there's such a big difference in working WITH an ADHD person, instead of working AT them. That's the difference with us now ... My wife works WITH me now, not AT me. She can't expect you to fix the problems on your own. She has to be willing to take an active role, and make changes in her own behaviors, to affect positive change.

• DEPRESSION & EMOTIONAL CONNECTION:

Before I was diagnosed with ADD, there were two "conditions" that I had always believed were more myth and/or weakness, than actual medical fact ... ADHD and Depression. When I met with my doctor about the possibility of having ADD, I was obviously leaning toward more acceptance of ADHD as a real condition. But my doctor said something that had a profound impact on me. He said (paraphrasing), "People with ADD/ADHD often suffer from depression, as well. Especially someone like you, who is a high-functioning adult, because you know what you're capable of accomplishing. When you're not able to do it, or can't stay on task, it's extremely frustrating. The subsequent feeling of failure, added to the feeling that you're disappointing the people around you, leads to depression. And that, in turn, feeds into the ADHD, because you begin to feel like there's no point in trying, which makes it that much more difficult to motivate yourself to succeed."

That notion impacted me because I realized how true it was/is. I don't know about you, but I'm extremely connected emotionally to my wife. No matter what mood I'm in, I'm easily influenced by her mood. If I'm having a bad day and she comes in with a smile, happy face, etc., I can't help but feel more positive. On the other hand, no matter how great I feel, if/when I realized that she's upset or something is bothering her, I'm instantly affected by it. Whether it's because I want to help make her feel better, or because I'm worried that I've done something (or not done something) that's made her upset, my mood is dragged down. In short, I feed off of her, so I need her positivity to keep me focused and positive.

That's important for both of you to know, because again ... it's a two-way street. It seems like the knee-jerk reaction for non-ADHD spouses, understandably, is to get mad, vent and rant, as a way to get something done. And for the ADHD person, the stimulation of an argument, the build-up of anger, etc. often DOES provide the motivation to accomplish whatever task is causing the problem. But that situation also leads to residual anger for both people. And as you said, many times it leads to more intentional hurting of each other.

---

In closing, I guess I just want to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Don't give up. It'll take time to get everyone in your family accustomed to the affects of ADHD on each person. Empathy is important. I will say this ... I hope that both of you can find a resolution that keeps you in the house. You can't fully understand the affects of your (possible) ADHD on other people, if you're not around them. Your wife and kids can't begin identifying and understanding how the ADHD affects you, if they're not around you. So if you're not in the household, there's little room to move forward toward a happy ending.

Also, it's very important to think about your ADHD daughter's feelings about all of this. If she's been diagnosed, and hears your wife blaming ADHD for your problems, separation and possibly divorce, how is that going to make her feel about her own ADHD? Will she begin blaming herself, in part, for the problems you and your wife are having? Will she inherently develop anxiety about her own relationships, for fear that her ADHD will ultimately lead to unhappiness on her partner's part? Will she expect that she'll never be good enough for someone to want to marry her? Will she end up dating/marrying a man that's far-less than she deserves, because she feels like she's not worth more than that because of her ADHD?

We have a son and a daughter. Regardless of the ADHD issues at hand here, my advice for married people with kids has always been this ... Husbands should treat their wife the way they expect their daughter's husband to treat her someday. And wives should treat their husband the way they'd want their son's wife to treat him someday. Because that's exactly what's at stake. Your kids are looking to you for an example of what is acceptable and not acceptable in their own relationships. Yours and your wife's example will teach them how to treat their future partners, as well as how they expect their partners to treat them.

I'm sorry that you're feeling so lost and confused. But, please know that there are happy endings out there. If you do have ADHD, it doesn't have to define you. It's not an obstacle that can't be overcome ... it's just a challenge that has to be overcome.

I wish you all the best ... keep us posted.

Well crap ...

So much for "... without getting too lengthy."

Wow

Everyone on here just hits the nail on the head.  The fact that there are so many people out there with the same issues and are dealing with them is profoundly comforting.  Of course I wish none of us were troubled by anything but, I see positive results at the end of the road now.

Your comment on your empathy with your wife is startling.  I have felt that in many ways i am an amplifier of my wife's emotions.  When she is upset with the kids, I come down as the heavy.  When she is happy, she can pull me out of a horrible funk without even trying.  I'm going to digest those comments a bit more.  Thanks for them.

I also appreciate your insight and caution regarding the kids.  I have stayed at home and other than the one night, stayed in the same bed.  Just three nights ago we were discussing what behaviors we were modeling to the kids and how these were behaviors we never meant to model.  At the time, we were still both pretty defensive and in the blame cycle sequence, but at least we are aware.

Lastly, I just want to reiterate to everyone that has posted on this thread and others how important your comments are.  Just two weeks ago I lived in a world where I was different and no one really understood me (and I can now say I didn't understand myself either..., still don't but working on it).  I didn't see my being different as a curse and actually felt quite blessed by my intellect and abilities.  That being said, I still felt alone and constantly under pressure.  This week I can see that there are TONS of people just like me, and that I can be understood by others and maybe one day even myself.  That is a pretty powerful transition and I have to thank my wife first for getting me to face things, and also all of you with your support and encouragement.  Every anecdote and every story is one more connection that beats back the hopelessness and disconnect that comes from feeling like you aren't understood and frequently misjudged.

Thank you.  Profoundly.

 

The Right Track ...

It sounds like you're on the right track. Just keep in mind that the positive feelings you're experiencing now, won't always be there, especially considering your emotional mirroring of your wife's moods, etc. there are going to be hiccups along the way. Expect them, but don't let them take your focus off of the overall picture.

Rosber has a a great point, too. Communication is key. As men, we often feel like we're not supposed to talk about our feelings. But I've found that one of the most effective tools in getting my wife's understanding, is to tell her when I'm getting frustrated, and why. Often times it's not in the "heat of the moment," which is probably also a good thing. But I think My willingness to give her insight into my mind has made it a lot easier for her to understand the behaviors, rather than just identifying them.

Lastly, I don't know if it's allowed on this site, but I'd be glad to give you my contact info if you ever need a "sounding board," or just need to talk about something that you don't necessarily want/need to create a post for. Just let me know. 

I loved this...

"But I think My willingness to give her insight into my mind has made it a lot easier for her to understand the behaviors, rather than just identifying them.

I am sure that this will take time and effort on both our parts to get there but now I know the goal.  If I may, how long have you been aware of your ADHD and how long have you and your spouse been working on these communication skills?  Y'all are way down the road that I want to be on, but taking other advice to heart, I know I need to be patient and understand that my wife will not want to necessarily sprint down that path like I do.

And thanks for the offer of contact.  I may take you up on that. 

Oh, and your other post wasn't too long...  actually you have a real gift for clear and concise written communication that I envy.  +0

It's a process ...

My wife tells me it was 2009, which sounds about right to me. In hindsight, I think it took a year or more for me to realize that the meds weren't going to fix everything by themselves. After that is when I really started trying to learn more about ADHD. So that put both of us behind the curve from the get-go. Honestly, we've actually only been working on it, together, for about a year and a half ... And it all started clicking and making big progress in the last six months or so.

I love writing. It's one of my "things," that I can get lost in for hours. I think it really helps me, because it's the one place where I can get all of my thoughts organized, expressed and delivered, without forgetting or getting distracted! You write well, too.

I understand what you're

I understand what you're saying about feeding off your wife's emotions.  For her sake and your sake, though, I encourage you to work on being responsible for your own feelings.  I don't know if this is even an ADHD thing or not, but it's certainly true in my family.  Everyone (husband, children) except mom has the right to be in a bad mood; if I (mom) am in a bad mood, it either drags people down or I'm criticized for being a bitch.  I don't think that's fair.

I hear you

I am definitely affected by my wife's mood, as she probably is by mine to some degree. I honestly don't think I have ever blamed her for it though as I am not sure i really recognized it until I really thought about it. I probably did at some point though because I sure blamed her for about everything else...

 

No...

I can definitely remember times when I totally blamed her for my bad mood. Selective memory before I guess. Sigh.

it all seems to revolve around blame though doesn't it...  Why can't we all just be strong enough to recognize and accept our dumb-stuff?  Why do we have to pawn it off on someone else?  They've probably already got plenty of their own.

It's a hard thing.  I had one

It's a hard thing.  I had one particularly spirited conversation with my husband during which he insisted, "You're MAKING me feel this way" and I said, "No, I'm not.  I'm sorry we're disagreeing but I can't MAKE you feel anything."  Over and over and over.

I've been ruminating on this

I've been ruminating on this all day. I'm all on board with personal responsibility for your feelings, but I really wrestled with this.  I mean I really can have a direct causative effect on my spouses feelings.  If I kiss a co worker right in front of her, I know what feelings that will elicit.  Am I responsible for making her feel that way?  Conversely, if I'm whistling a tune that in my head is sounding like Metallica but in her ear reminds her of the outcrop to Ol' Yeller and she feels sad, do I have some responsibility for that feeling?  Where does the line lay?

sorry off subject...  Brain went there...

Knowing how your spouse is

Knowing how your spouse is likely to feel and making her feel that way are two different things.  What if, for example, her reaction to you kissing a coworker in front of her was for her to think "boy, my husband is a jerk, and it's clear his coworker is embarrassed" and your wife was happy because she was tired of listening to you talk about what a great guy you are?  (I'm not saying you're not a great guy, just offering a hypothetical.)  

So, to me, having an effect is one thing, but it is not the same as making someone's feelings be something or being responsible for what those feelings are.  You are, obviously, still responsible for your actions.  No matter how it makes your wife feel in the moment (good or bad), you kissing another woman could be considered objectionable because it might violate a moral or religious code (such as the sanctity of marriage vows).  I'd advise against the kissing for this latter reason.

Me Too...

Its hard.  She is doing great though and now that I understand what is happening in my brain, I see why I am impatient.  I'm schooling myself not to be hurt when she isn't on the same page because I simply shouldn't expect her to be.  It is great having a basis to understand this.  Thanks for responding Robser.  But it is good and getting better.  Yesterday was the first day on Ritalin.  I slept for 9 hours last night...

Rosber's picture

Thats great! Sleep is super

Thats great! Sleep is super important! I actually got a great nights sleep last night as well.

Understanding how your brain works and thinks is the key to unlocking your super power brother!

Yeah the hurt thing will happen, just work through it. After awhile you will not get hurt as much, as you understand more and both work together on understanding that you both think differently. My wife and I take the time to talk everything through. Communication and understanding is the key for both of you. Its worked wonders for my wife and myself.

Communication

We ahve actually made a game of our communication homework and it is a good piece of our efforts to reconnect.  When we practiced this mirroring with the counselor, we both were frustrated with the pace and elementary nature of it.  Now we see it as a means to slow the conversation down and actually have the conversation instead of me rushing ahead to where i THINK the conversation is going.  Its good that we can laugh about it but it hasn't kept us from doing it.

The anger homework from Melissa looks a little more imposing but that's okay too...