Is it my husband, or the ADD?

I am so grateful to have found this website. Reading about everyone's individual experiences has been incredibly affirming. I know my post is going to be a long one but I am desperate to hear from others in the same situation and to figure out what factors are ADD related and which are just my husband.

I am 32 years old, married to a 34 year old man with ADD. He has known he has ADD for about 10 years. We have been married just under 2 years and have a beautiful 5 month old baby. He has a well paying job and I stay home with our daughter. My husband has been on meds in the past but never found the right combination and now refuses to try. He won't go to individual counseling but we are in couples counseling with a counselor who does not specialize in ADD.

Before we had our daughter, things felt relatively manageable to me in our marriage. I knew very little about ADD or how it was showing up in our relationship. We had issues which I wanted to address before having children (sex, conflict resolution, household chores, etc) but he refused to go to counseling and then I got pregnant, so plans changed. Ever since our daughter was born, we have been fighting all of the time and our relationship has been unbearable.  Before I had my daughter, I had enough energy to expend on helping my husband "do" his life (I wasn't working while I was pregnant). I now realize that all of my "helping" was at the expense of my own needs and wants. Now that I have an infant, I no longer have enough energy to take care of the baby, our dog and my husband, much less me! Subsequently, the symptoms of his ADD have gotten worse as he is "acting out" from not getting enough attention or affection. This just makes me incredibly angry and resentful. Here is some background info and a description of the issues I'm dealing with:

PRE-MARRIAGE: My husband and I met in our early 20's and there was an intensity and excitement to our relationship immediately. We had incredible conversations that lasted for hours but felt like minutes. I had never had so much fun with anyone I had ever dated. However, we broke up and got back together 3 times over the next 7 years and then finally, on my 30th birthday, he called and we talked for 3 hours and I just couldn't resist that old spark and intensity. No one had ever made me feel so energized! He was living out of state at that time so we visited often and became engaged after just 2 months of being back together. We were married 9 months after he proposed. Looking back over the years of our on-again, off-again relationship, I can see now that every time we were broken up, he would shower me with attention and affection. He would tell me in very specific, seemingly introspective words about the ways he had "changed" and was ready to get back together. I felt like the most important person in his life...when we weren't together. Inevitably, we would get back together, he would shift his focus elsewhere and the problems would start. I see now that I was so quick to excuse his selfish, angry, scattered behavior because the moments when we would connect were intoxicating. I felt like a drug addict, willing to put up with all of the negative, just to have the short-lived "fix" every once in a while. I didn't know anything about ADD and the hyper-focused behavior that can occur. I was the focus until he got me and then the focus shifted elsewhere and I was left wondering why I fell for it again. I even talked to him about this issue before we got married and he swore that it wouldn't happen after getting married. I fell for it. This was before I realized that he is an expert at telling people what they want to hear, even though he most likely cannot/will not deliver.

FINANCES: This, luckily, is an area in which he excels. Money is extremely important to him, he makes a decent amount each year and he is generally okay with managing it, so we are in a good position there. My complaints in this area are that he is self-employed and does not get a regular paycheck. We do not have a budget and I have no idea how much money is coming in and when. Some days he comes home in an angry/depressed mood and complains that we have no money and he doesn't know how we are going to pay the bills this month. The very next day he may come home in a great mood because a check came in and he starts brainstorming about the things he wants to buy. Neither of us spend money easily but his attitude about it leaves me spinning. It's hard for me to know how much I can spend on groceries, baby stuff, household items, etc. when I never know if it will be a day when he feels like we have money or don't have money. If it's a day when we "don't have any money" and I have purchased something (ex: toy for the baby) he gets really mad and accuses me of not knowing the value of money because I came from a family where we didn't worry about money and my dad was always available to help me out if I needed it. What?? I try really hard to not spend extravagantly because I don't know how much money we have at any give time. I do allow myself to occasionally buy some toys for the baby or curtains for some of the empty windows in the house. Not to mention that if there is something HE wants to buy, like clothes which he doesn't need, he goes ahead and does it and I don't complain because I assume he knows that there is enough money to do so. This is a real power situation. He has all of the power in this area and I feel helpless. We have tried to do a budget but never finished. I can see our checking and savings accounts online but he has business accounts that I can't see and frankly don't understand. He invests money in the stock market and is online every day playing around with it but he never asks me if I want to invest or how much we should spend. He says it's his money and he should be able to invest it if he wants. We are also consistently a year or more behind on our taxes, which I cannot take over because they are extremely complicated.

LIES: One of the most important values to me is honesty. I rarely lie about anything and I expect others to tell the truth to me. HOW did I end up marrying a man who has no problem lying????? For example, he has always known that I did not want to marry a man who smokes cigarettes. When we got back together, he told me he had quit and I believed him. After we were married, I started to suspect that he was smoking and asked him many times if that was the case. He lied directly to my face and I believed him for a while until I stopped asking and just told him I knew he was smoking. Turns out he had never actually quit and had lied to me because he didn't want to disappoint me. I told him that lying to me disappointed me far more than the actual smoking. I told him I know how hard it is to quit and I could be understanding about that but not about the lying. Regardless of my feelings, he continues to lie about things here and there, maybe even things I don't realize, in an effort to avoid disappointing me. He lied to me about smoking pot for a while, too.

DRUGS: He smokes pot about once every week or two...more if we are in a lot of conflict. I believe he uses it to deal with the symptoms of the ADD, which get worse if he is unhappy with something in his life. He has told me before that it's the only time his mind isn't spinning with a million different thoughts at one time. I will admit that it also puts him in a good mood, which is sometimes a welcome change when we have been fighting or he has been depressed. Overall, though, I don't want him smoking pot because it's bad for his health and I don't want our daughter to think it's ok to do drugs.

DISAPPOINTMENT: I realized recently that before any holiday or special occasion, I prepare myself to be disappointed. This makes me very sad. My very first Mother's Day this year was a classic example. Prior to the day I had mentioned that it was coming up and that I was excited that it was my very first. He and I have discussed the types of things we like the other to do for us to make us feel special. He knows that I would really like him to put thought into his gifts to me, such as cooking me a meal, a cake on my birthday, a bubble bath or even a nice note with his thoughts. When we were dating, he would do those things all of the time. There were scavenger hunts, long letters explaining his feelings for me, etc. So, I know he is capable. The week before Mother's Day, I started wondering what he might do for me and I prepared myself for disappointment (based on most holidays since we've been married). That morning, he slept in, while I got up with the baby. He came downstairs and hastily wrote one sentence in a card and gave me the card with some flowers. Maybe I am ungrateful, but I was disappointed. I've come to realize that I am not with a man who plans ahead. Will I ever be able to accept that and be happy with what he does do?
         The disappointment goes both ways. He says that his way of receiving love is when I take care of things for him (like his mom does for his dad). He wants me to "mother him" - make his doctor's appointments, get him up in the morning, pick up after him, take over selling the (unsellable) large-lot purchases of building materials he made on a whim, send birthday cards to his family, etc. I'm okay with helping out but he is a grown man! Can't he get himself out of bed in the morning? He is disappointed with me quite often because I will not take over the management of his life for him. And it's not just the management of it...he wants me to do it in a specific way a lot of times or else he gets upset. I know that people with ADD often have trouble doing certain things that non-ADDers may not. How do I know what he is capable of doing for himself but just doesn't want to and what he really could use some assistance with??

SEX - We have not had sex since our daughter was born 5 months ago. We already had sexual issues before I got pregnant. I felt like it wasn't me in particular he was attracted to but rather, when he wanted to have sex, I was the designated object for him to have sex with. It seemed to be all about his pleasure, not mine. I have told him multiple times what I wanted and needed. I tried to be extra generous to him in hopes that he would reciprocate with me. I created romantic situations, hoping it would help, but it didn't. He made promises to do certain things for me but didn't. His idea of initiating was to turn to me and casually say, "Wanna have sex?". No romance, very little foreplay and my pleasure was completely my responsibility. Sometimes it would be physically painful but that didn't seem to matter either. No amount of discussion changed anything. During pregnancy, I just decided to initiate when I wanted it because my desire was so strong due to the hormones. Since having my baby, I have NO desire to have sex with him. I can't even say that I want our sex life back because I was unhappy with how it was before. Why would I want to have it back?

ANGER - He is significantly larger than me (a foot taller and over 100 pounds heavier) and his anger is scary to me. I've told him this on multiple occasions but he dismisses it (and me). He will never be able to understand what it is like to be smaller and more vulnerable than someone else (very few people are bigger than him). He has never taken out his anger on my physically but I feel like he is really out of control when he is angry. Maybe that's just my interpretation because it makes me so anxious. He says I haven't really seen him angry and that I'm too sensitive. If that's the case, I hope I never see him "really angry". I never know what kind of mood he will be in when he gets home, and often find myself going to great lengths to avoid provoking a rage. He will also get annoyed with our infant if she cries and will scold her verbally. I HATE that!! She is a baby and has no other way to communicate other than crying. He says she shouldn't be crying - "there's no need for that". He feels she should be able to wait to get her needs satisfied, so that he can finish whatever he was doing, such as watching t.v., reading the paper, or sleeping. It breaks my heart every time he does this. He has told me that he feels like she has ruined everything because he/we can't do all of the things he/we used to do.

DEPRESSION - I feel like he uses depression as an attention-getting mechanism. I don't think this is a conscious thing. I think it is his psyche's way of getting his needs met. He has always been really moody but i haven't seen it as intense as since our daughter was born. He has talked about wanting to kill himself a couple of times. Then, when I dote on him and worry about him, his mood improves and everything is fine. He has talked about going to the hospital because he is so down but then when he feels better he refuses meds or counseling.

HOUSEHOLD - Since I stay at home with our daughter, I don't mind doing the household work such as cleaning and laundry. However, I have SO MUCH resentment about the fact that he usually makes my job harder instead of easier. He leaves his clothes on floor. When I cook dinner, I do the dishes and when HE cooks dinner, I do the dishes. Even when my mom was here from out of town and cooked us dinner, she did the dishes while I put the baby down and he sat on the couch watching t.v., without so much as an offer to help. He leaves things all over like change (we have a change jar), rubber bands/plastic bags from newspapers, newspapers on the floor, shoes all over, his travel coffee mug on the counter (every day!), etc. Once in a while he will help me tremendously around the house by doing things like cleaning the shower, the bathroom, vacuuming the floors, throwing in a load of laundry or doing the dishes. I truly appreciate when he does this. But, really it's the day to day picking up after him that drives me insane. If I don't do it then I'm the one who has to live with the mess all day and he will come home sometimes and say he just wants the house to be clean when he comes home.

RISK-TAKING - I don't know if this is ADD related or just the family which he grew up in. He is the biggest risk-taker I have ever met. His whole family is the same way (except his mom). Whenever we are all together, they inevitably start talking about all of the injuries they have each incurred due to reckless behaviors. They talk about it like it is a badge of honor and something to be proud of. I almost think that he can't wait until our daughter starts racking up injuries so he can "brag" about them to his family. These are not small injuries, either. He broke his back while on an ATV, going off of a huge ledge on purpose at full speed to see if he could do it. He had to be airlifted to a hospital and is lucky he is not paralyzed. He's been badly burned on his legs, broken several bones and been in a car accident where he flew through the glass of the car's back windshield and flew over 30 feet. Again, he's lucky he survived. He's been in numerous fender-benders where he has bumped into the car in front of him (no injuries). I won't even begin to talk about the injuries his siblings and dad have wracked up. Most of the time, though, the injuries are due to reckless, irresponsible behaviors and they all think it is hilarious. I'm TERRIFIED to have my daughter grow up in an environment where such dangerous choices are seen as brave and encouraged! Whenever I try to talk to him about safety, he scoffs and tells me I'm overprotective and that I overreact. When our daughter was a newborn, I didn't want my husband falling asleep on the couch with her on his chest because she could easily roll off onto our hardwood floors. I don't like it when he holds her high over his head (thus about 8 or 9 feet above the ground) with only ONE hand. He wanted to start feeding her solid foods when she was only a few weeks old, regardless of what the recommendations say. I realize I may be a bit on the overprotective side but I am also reacting to his complete lack of concern over safety issues. I fear that it will only get worse as she learns to walk and tries to climb our steep, hardwood stairs, and is playing outside, etc. He lacks the ability to empathize with others (he readily admits this), and rarely experiences physical pain when injured. He drives fast and impulsively - worse when angry. Any mention of safety is a "challenge" to him to do the opposite. He criticizes and makes fun of my suggestions related to following expert advice about a safe home, product or activity. 

FAMILY - We live near my husband's family, all of whom (3 siblings and his Dad) have ADD, except his mom. Because of this, my husband gets affirmation for all of his ADD behavior. His mom enables their behaviors because she likes to feel needed. As long as they need her to cook for them, clean up after them, wake them up in the morning, she feels loved. She, herself is extremely passive/aggressive and will say one thing but expects people to react to the underlying, unspoken message. It is crazy-making. I HATE letting them baby-sit our daughter because I know they have the same risk-taking tolerance as my husband. Years ago, my husband's mom owned a daycare at their home. On one occasion, a child got into the street and was hit by a car. Another child was on the swing set and got one of the swing ropes wrapped around her neck and almost strangled herself. Neither child was seriously injured, but my husband's mom talks about it like it was no big deal. More recently, their other granddaughter was just starting to walk and they would leave the door to the basement stairs wide open (the door is in their living room). They let this same granddaughter eat gummy candy when she was first learning to eat solid foods and her mom had specifically told them what they could feed her. They were watching this same granddaughter, who had no experience with stairs and didn't realize when she had climbed all the way up the stairs and was at the top looking terrified because she didn't know how to come down. There are so many boundary issues in that family that I know that whatever I tell them I want them to do or not do with my daughter, they will go ahead and do what they want when I am not there. My husband even agrees that this is probably the case. I have seen many instances when his father does exactly the opposite of what you tell him. My husband is the same way. I am unable to have any fun when they are watching her because I don't think they are responsible, but my husband does not want to pay for daycare when his parents are so close and willing. He says, "They raised 4 kids. They know what they are doing". I don't think that they do!

I think my husband's ADD symptoms are compounded by his upbringing. His father has never been quick with a compliment and instead has focused on his childrens weaknesses. My husband brought home a report card in high school with all A's and one B. His dad pointed to the B and said, "What happened here? How come you didn't get an A?". My husband and his brother were so afraid of their dad's anger that they would go to great lengths to cover up accidents or broken items. If something was broken like a glass or if something was spilled on accident, someone had to be to blame. There were no accidents. Punishments were severe, both physical and emotional. I believe his upbringing in a controlling, angry, passive/aggressive home has severely affected the way he sees and lives life. I cannot stand his family and he is completely entrenched with them emotionally. His mom will gossip about me and his brother's wife with other family members and his dad is inappropriate with his physical boundaries with me, such as tickling my feet, neck and sides when I've told him firmly over and over not to do so. My husband says he is willing to stand up to his family for me, which I greatly appreciate but have not taken him up on yet. Next time there is an issue with them, I plan to ask him to intervene and I know he will. I feel like I am Alice in ADD-land and I am the only one who sees things clearly! He is less motivated to change because he gets affirmation for his ADD-ness from the rest of his ADD family. I also wonder how much of all this is the ADD, and what might be other problems mixed in with that.

Well, if you've made it through my post this far, I thank you for reading all of that. It feels good to put my situation into words and I hope that there are things that stick out for you about what I have written and that you will comment on them. I could use some outside perspective!

I have so much ambivalence about our relationship. A lot of people have posted that they really love their spouse and want to make it work. I have very little motivation to make it work and my feelings of love seem to be hidden by all of the anger and resentment. My husband thinks of himself first in all situations, will not accept suggestions from others, is "always right", and intimidates people to get his way when he can't placate them with empty promises. I want a second chance at finding a loving relationship with someone who is able to manage his life and meet me half-way. Someone who wants to make me happy instead of focusing solely on his own happiness (or lack thereof). I want someone who can plan ahead a little. Someone who makes our family a priority. A man who is capable of being gentle and nurturing with his children. Someone who cares enough about himself that he is able to form genuine, connected relationships with others instead of always putting on a front and needing to feel like he is "better" than those around him. I don't want to spend the next 5, 10 or 20 years trying to make it work and then realizing that maybe instead of a 2 out of 10 on a scale of relationship happiness, we've managed to get up to a 4 and that's as far as it's going to go. I don't want my daughter to grow up around my husband's negativity, lying, anger and demeaning treatment of me. I'm still young (early 30's) and I am constantly having to give up on my dreams about the kind of marriage/partnership I want to have. I'm not so deluded to think there is such a thing as a perfect relationship that is always easy. But, being in relationship with my husband is SO far from easy and I'm not sure it will ever change.

The biggest factor that keeps me around is our daughter. I love my daughter more than I ever thought possible, but I wish we had never gotten pregnant. I want what is best for her but I don't know what that is. I don't want to have to share custody and I don't want to continue living in the state we are living (I hate it here. I feel so alone with my problems here. We moved here when we married, across the country from my home, with the understanding that it would not be permanent.) I'm afraid if we end things I will be legally bound to continue living near him and his family so that our daughter can split her time between houses and I know he would never agree to leave here. I don't want my daughter to grow up not knowing her father but I'm terrified at the thought of letting her spend days alone with him (or his family) due to his reckless behaviors and love of risk-taking. She is so young at this point that I feel like a divorce would be less harmful to her now than if she were older. Plus, I want to have more children at some point. I wonder if I am being selfish for wanting something different and not wanting to stick it out for even a few more years. Unfortunately, my husband and his father are both attorneys and I know I would be in the fight for my life if we decided to split.

Thanks for reading and for your thoughts!!