Is it ALWAYS my fault?

Hello everyone. I guess this site has been bitter sweet for me. As an ADHD guy who is just about to start as second marriage, I can't help but be discouraged by what I'm reading. It seems to me, that almost all of the conflict in relationships is attributed to the partner with ADHD. Can this be the case? I struggle with emotional impulsivity - outbursts that are both irrational and uncalled for. Is this the ONLY reason my marriage failed? It was certainly an ugly aspect of it, but up until now, I thought it was one ingredient in a large list of reasons we didn't make it. Now I feel like it's the only one. 

I really hope someone can shed some light on this as I am now very much considering not proceeding with my current situation. I can't bare the idea of being the reason my second marriage falters too. 


It takes two

Of course I don't know your situation, but usually it takes two people to make a marriage work (and fail).  If you read some of the posts here you'll see that when dealing with add, especially undiagnosed, a certain type of dynamic develops, for example the non add spouse nagging, treating the add spouse like a child, being impatient, annoyed and frustrated over things that can be explained by add.  All marriages are hard work, but this makes them even harder.  If you both go into it knowing some of the common pitfalls, willing to work on things and educate yourselves about symptoms, what treatment can do and so on, you have a that much better chance of succeeding.


Thanks very much. My situation is complex, for sure. Especially since during my first marriage, I wasn't quite sure what was wrong with me. I hadn't been diagnosed. I thought I had mild OCD - but not ADHD and attributed my blowups and hers to common marital strife. I now see that I can be very irrational and explosive at times. And very often, it's unwarranted. I am relieved in as sense, that I recognize this as a deeper problem. This way I can stop ignoring it, and hoping it will go away by itself. 

But the guilt and shame persists. Was every fight a result of my emotional immaturity? It feels like it. Although even people without ADHD fight, have conflict and communication problems, I can't seem to divert the blame from just me. And let me tell you, it's quite paralyzing.  I can't help but think that had I been diagnosed earlier, I could have saved what I had. 

But that's where it gets even more confusing. Long story short, I married my high school sweetheart. We were never really a good match, but I always thought she was the only one who would put up with and or stay with me. I know I can be and was difficult. So what role does lack of compatibility play in all of this? I read an interview with Ned Hallowell who said that almost all ADHD people marry the wrong person. I honestly feel that is what I did. Am I kidding myself to think that in itself could have contributed to the discord and strife? My gut says yes, but my tendency to blame and feel at fault for , well, everything has me crippled with fear. Fear that I am the sole reason it failed. Fear that I will again, be reason my new marriage fails. 

My only hope is that certain people without ADHD are better suited to live with people with the condition. 

Any thoughts? I am quite down about this and in much need of support and insight. As you all know, it's hard to find good counseling about ADHD - at least it has been for me. 


Did you seek therapy and

Did you seek therapy and medication to address your ADHD while you were married?  If yes, did you attend couples counseling in addition to the individual therapy?  If yes, then I think you made a sincere effort to make things work and your wife should have met you halfway.  But if you refused treatment and medication and basically told your wife to deal with it, then I suspect the majority of the fault may lie with you. 

It's not your fault you have ADHD.  But there are things you can do to lessen the impact of ADHD upon the relationship.  As an analogy, it's not a diabetic's fault that he has diabetes.  But if he refuses to take insulin and eats candy, then he has to take accountability for the consequences. 

On the other hand, if you married a nagging, mean, uncompassionate, uncaring shrew, then it probably wouldn't matter whether you had ADHD or not.  She would still find things to be unhappy about.


I did seek help and suggested therapy for us. She refused until it was too late. My only regret was not knowing what I had. If I did, I'd have sought counseling for that specifically. But I'm not a psychiatrist. By the time I took steps to get to the bottom of my condition, we had grown very far apart. I stopped wanting to fix things. We just really did not enjoy each other's company. Essentially, we became squabbling siblings playing house.  Had we gone to counseling earlier, maybe they'd have recognized my behavior pattern and advised us accordingly. Alas, that's not what happened. 

If she refused therapy then

If she refused therapy then it sounds like she wasn't interested in making it work.  Even before I realized my husband had ADHD, I was always open to therapy...but he was usually the resistant one.  And money was always an issue (he was unemployed or underemployed most of our relationship, so I was resentful about having to shoulder that burden on top of everything else). 

I eventually realized that the money spent in therapy was absolutely worth every penny.  The ratio of dollars to resultant happiness was pretty much unbeatable.

At this point, it sounds like all you can do is learn from the mistakes of your first relationship and determine not to let them happen again in your next one.  If you find yourself having similar arguments and conflicts, make sure your partner knows about how ADHD affects you and how to deal productively with the frustrations that are likely to occur.   Once I learned about ADHD and how it affected my partner, it made a HUGE difference in how I saw him and how I reacted to the things he did.  The really unfortunate thing about ADHD is that it can manifest itself in a way that looks very nearly identical to someone who is lazy, irresponsible, and selfish.  Can't remember to do chores, can't hold down a job, can't manage finances, can't resist impulses, etc.  It's a lot for a non-ADHD person to deal with, especially if they have no clue that there is a disease involved.

I am very upset about this.

I am very upset about this. Really don't know what to do. I now look back at every argument, disagreement and conflict inside and outside my marriage and blame myself. I hope I can get by this, but it really seems that I am the source of just about everything. 

Don't be upset - LEARN!

My husband has ADHD. I love him very much. He married the right woman and I feel I married the right man. We need counseling but he's resisting. I know he is scared and doesn't want to be labeled. I feel strongly that if we can just start talking about this stuff, we can build a stronger, more loving, caring marriage. Blame and fault finding have no place here! Developing the skills and implementing the tools to better manage the symptoms are what needs to be focused on. You're getting a second chance - make the most of it and apply what you've learned. Use the lessons from the past to build a better future.


I have been with her for over 2 years and my anger has never been an issue until recently. I had an explosion on Sunday night, said stupid things and then felt remorseful immediately. It brought me back to my first marriage and scared me. That's exactly what I used to do.

We haven't moved in together yet, but I now fear that there is some monster lurking inside of me that will come out once we're around each other more often. I want to control it so bad, but I've never been able to. I blurt out what feels right at the time, and these words hurt. 

My only hope is that my treatment - just started meds and am seeing a specialist- will help me control these symptoms. It's just that it seems like something people with ADHD can't control. I seem to be lacking the voice of reason that tell most people to calm down and think about what you're saying before, not after you've said it. 

I am terrified that I am going to fail, again. Even thinking of calling it off. Which is tragic as I love this woman like I never thought I could love someone.

Never give up...just talk to

Never give up...just talk to her about how you are feeling, if she truly loves you she will understand.  Remember you are only human, a human with ADHD, yes it is a challenge, however we all have things in our lives that we have to overcome, yours just has a name for it.  My ex-husband is/was a habitual liar and to this day denies it...

I commend you for reaching out to get help...I wish i could get my ex-boyfriend (he just wants to be best-friends while he figures himself out, he hates himself right now and cant give me the love I need/want) to reach out to me or someone for help, instead he is dealing with everything on his own.  He just recently started taking Adderall, so I keep praying it will help him.  I love him with all my heart and if he gives up on us it will just crush me, and I imagine that your fiance feels the same way as I do.

Just remember you are not alone...keep positive...and love with all your heart!!!

Strike 2

I'm reading this and the guilt and fear are almost paralyzing.  I'm in the process of being divorced by my second wife and the situation is almost identical.  Total shut down of all intimacy.  No more best friends.  No more long term plans or thoughts about growing old together.  Now it's about relief from the daily struggle to keep things pleasant enough so that long term, permanent scaring of our 2 young children (and each other) is kept to a minimum. 

Don't feel guilt, you are

Don't feel guilt, you are doing what you feel is best for you and your children, that is all you can do.  That is all anyone can expect you to do, especially since no one has walked a mile in your shoes and felt what you have felt.  Just take it one day at a time...

Don't allow your second marriage to fail

Get help, educate yourself, educate your future spouse, participate in the couples workshop and do this prior to getting married.  Your future spouse has a right to know what she is signing up for.  You need to educate yourself with the help of a counselor, look objectively at your first marriage and what caused it to fail.  ADD surely played a role in the failure, but you can learn from that experience and not repeat those mistakes.