It took me 15 years and this forum to realize it was me...

I have been married for 15 years.  We have 4 beautiful children but our marriage is really on the rocks.  While we live under the same roof, we may as well live in separate states.  I am an undiagnosed ADHD male spouse.  My marriage has been struggling for sometime now and I really did not understand why.  I am an educated successful professional, but can not fix the problems in my own home.  I can not tell you how frustrating it is to be a problem solver and can not seem to solve my own problems.  After reading the post on this forum particularly from the non-adhd female spouses, I get it.  Finally I get it.  My wife has gone from, wow this is great, to what was that, to something is not right, to there it goes again, to frustration, to anger, to bitterness, to being numb.  I originally thought that it takes 2 to make a marriage work and to some degree I still do, but after I have been disconnected for so long and being a typical male ADHD husband, I am beginning to understand the depth of her hurt.   I love my wife dearly, but I do not know how to get pass the walls of protection that she has built around herself to protect her from being disappointed or hurt by my actions.  I do not know how to rebuild our relationship.  I do not know how to push pass the loneliness and sometimes despair that I feel in order to reach her.   I do not know how much longer I can hold on to nothing.   If it took 15 years to get here, will it take that long to get out of this mess?


What was it that got you to BEGIN to get to this point?  I am quite sure the only way for my ADD DH will "get it" is for me to physically leave.  I passed "numb" a long time ago.

catch22adhd's picture

The brick wall

About a year and a half ago my wife got to a point where she basically said I do not have to accept what I had been given her and how I have been treating her and I got the stone wall.  I did not accept the entire responsibility for where we were in our marriage.   To be perfectly honest with you I never really understood or realized why she was always mad or upset about everything. However after 3 weeks of reading post from this forum, the problem was a variety of things ie. being disconnected, not following through, forgetting things that are seemingly  related to her and the family and not things pertaining to me. I did not clearly see the problem until I read different post and saw the affect of what I was doing to her.  

She feels that she has my attention only because I have hit a brick wall.  The problem was not that I did not want to change but did not clearly see the problem and what needed to change.  She swears me down that she has told me over and over but unfortunately I did not really hear it until I heard others.  I really did not start seeking answers until she insisted that I get help.

I have scheduled a doctors appointment to see if I really have ADHD.  Technically I have been studying what ADHD is and exploring the conditions impact on my wife.  My wife has been saying for years I have ADHD.  My teachers said it as well when I was in school.  Now I am confronted with the reality of who I am.  I am really struggling with dealing with the wall.  If I play the same game with her my marriage will fail and my children will suffer. I struggle to show her that I get it.  It is as if she has become addicted to what I have been for 15 years and does not know how to receive any thing else.


Stone Wall

catch22adhd, Please describe the "stone wall".

catch22adhd's picture

The Brick Wall

My non-add spouse refuses to trust or show any emotion at all other than anger.  She is cordial and responds when spoken to but does not want to engage in any conversation concerning our relationship.  She keeps her distance and does not want to show any interest or desire in me.  I want to say that she loves me but is unwilling to tip her hand that would express hope.  If she did she would expose herself to more potential disappointment and hurt.  She is here but seems to have moved on. I am tempted to do the same, but now that I see what is going on she is in survival mode.

This is my assessment of the wall.  I want to assume that because she has not left that something in her still wants things to work out.  She is a professional who could make it if she decided to leave.  Things would be tuff at first but she would eventually be alright if she choose to leave.  Since she is still here I assume she wants things to work out but will not take a chance at trusting me or sharing her heart with me.

Course of action.

As dazedandconfused has suggested, I am going to try to be patient, present (physically, emotionally, attentively), and consistent.  She will not trust unless she has a reason to.  Therefore I must swallow all that I am feeling and put her feelings first (this is tuff I am hurting too). Patience is not a strong point with people with adhd. Also I must be present and connected with the kids as well.  I get it.  This is not what I need to do to win my wife's heart back. This is what I need to do because this is what they deserve and the way it should be.  I get it. This forum has become my mirror.

The wall is unforgiving and unyielding. I need a bread crumb or something.  I need something to survive off of other than hope only.  She has made the statement recently how can I believe when I have nothing to go by.  You are adding fresh hurt.  This typically happens when I attempt to discuss us.  So moving ahead...try not to discuss us.  She has also stated "I dealt with this for years, you have only recently come into the realization of what has happened and what is going on".  Ok non-adhd wife's... help me interpret that. What I (adhd male spouse) hear is I survived with hurt and frustration from you for years.  If you love me and the kids you can survive this until we recover or I am willing to open up again.  This is not what she has said verbatim but what I hear in this statement.   What did you hear?

DH and I were in counseling a

DH and I were in counseling a few times. One of those times the counselor asked what did I want?  I said, "I want DH to give of himself to the family without me giving him a list of what I want.  I want it to come from his heart that he wants to be part and loves us."  Exactly what did I want? To have a person contributing, concerned, participating, discussing, planning with us of his own free will.  He still didn't know what to do.  He said, "How long do I have to do that for?"  Hmmmmm......  He wanted me to tell him a quck fix to step over this little hurdle with wife and then back to same-o same-o - wife taking care of everything .  That is what I heard when he asked for "How long?"  I told him that for 35 years I have been trying. He would have to try for 35 years.  That was too much to ask?  I guess so because he never really changed anything as long as I was willing to go back home and do all the things I have been doing to keep the family together in spite of his irresponsibility and care free attitude.  He says he gets it and will contribute, but then, NOTHING.  He thinks he does enough but is delusional about that.  He doesn't want to know just how much involvement it takes to have a family and relationship. 

I see in your fifth paragraph you list the things you need.  YOU need a bread crumb, you need something to survive.  You call her unforgiving.  Here is what I hear coming from my past of being in her shoes for years (I know some things will not apply to you, sorry for the assumptions but I will speak from my own heavy heart, "It has been all about you all our married life. I have tried everything I know how to get your attention, your love, your participation.  You have taken care of your own comfort/career/feelings/fears/whatever but did not get it that a marriage is a team sport.  Not a place you can come to visit when it suits you. You have not stepped up to contribute your share to the team's success.  As long as it looked OK from the outside, you left it alone and did your own thing.  In fact you are pulling the team down by not showing up, sharing the vision, discussing or planning or moral support. You sometimes sat on the other team's bench (out with the guys, flirting, not coming home because you had more interesting things to do, making light of marriage) and laughed at our teams weaknesses. Our team needs to survive and the morale of the team cannot survive your cavalier "drop-in when it looks pleasant" presence from the one who is supposed to be a grateful, hard-working contributer. You have asked me to be your children's mother, your wife of stature, your lover, your confidant, your financial care-taker, your cook, your cleaner, your social scheduler.  I have done all that.  I ask you to love me and spend time in the home family workings. You give self-righteous excuses, you lie, you deny, you delude yourself, anything so you don't have to think about the things that I think about every day all day and must face alone because you are both unaware and unwilling to go there with me. I am thinking that we would all be better off without the constant dissapointment, frustration, morale-busting game of "Let's give Daddy the benefit of the doubt but know that he will probably not come through for us."  I will guess that the name of the game you are playing is, "If it ain't broke, I don't have to fix it."  It looks to me like it's broke.  For her to yield to you, is now to surrender to the opposing team and face humiliation and defeat.

I have thought often that when DH and I were married, I joined a team and he declared war.  We were both playing offense and defense but we had different ideas of who our opponents were. Guess who feels like the daily victor and who feels defeated?

We are probably talking about more than my husband's ADD.  We are talking about attitudes about what it means to share a life together.  At least you are on this site searching for solutions and information. Please keep doing it and keep sharing your own frustrations so we can see your side.  Don't hold back.  It genuinely helps us to accept your condition and give us some understanding.  Some of us spouses have years of pent up anger from our own romantic notions of what love COULD be if both were on the same team against the world rather than each doing our own thing and fighting for and protecting our individual selves.  It looks to me like your wife is up against the wall and has realized that she must declare war on the opposing team.  She needs something to survive.


All I can say is .......WOW!!!!

Just read this.  Feel your pain very deeply.  Written very well.  HAVE to share with husband.

Thank you for putting into words what I have felt for years.


reply to Jennalemon

I'll second that "WOW".

Same life, different husband.  Going on 31 years, here.  Diagnosed approx. 5 years ago, not much change.  Acknowledges what needs to be done to help himself but will not follow through.  


Hi catch-

I'm a non-ADD wife, and I'd like to offer my interpretation of her statement: I dealt with this for years, you have only recently come into the realization of what has happened and what is going on.

I'm in a similar spot, only my ADD DH won't fully acknowledge the effect his ADD has had on me and our marriage. But, if I were to say something like this to my DH, I would mean that I've been hurting for years and have developed whatever coping strategies and mechanisms I needed to survive and continue in day to day life (some detachment, lowering of expectations). Though it's not healthy and I'm trying to work on this, I know I have been carrying around quite a bit of resentment, anger, and disappointment--and these emotions came as a result of DH's negative ADD symptoms and our reactions to them. Because these emotions have been developing for years, it's likely going to take years to chip away at the layers and get back to a clean slate. But to really be able to chip away and let go of these feelings, I need to see that my DH gets it, that he really understands. I would need to see proof of lasting changes so that we could establish new patterns and behaviors. If you two have a history of hurt, frustration, and disappointment, too, and you've just started making changes, you haven't given it enough time yet--your wife may be waiting for you to slip back into the old pattern of behavior, so she doesn't want to get her hopes up b/c she's afraid of being disappointed yet again. And maybe this doesn't sound fair to you, that if she's expecting you to let her down, why even try, right? You have to remember that she really does want things to get better between you two, that she has stayed because, despite how she's treating you right now, she still loves and cares for you--so much that she has dealt with years of hurt b/c the hope of being happy with you was enough to keep her by your side. I hope you can find the strength to keep moving forward, keep making improvements, keep making an effort--if you show her that this truly is your new way of acting (not just a temporary act), she will recognize it. Believe me, she's been wanting to see this in you for years.


catch22adhd's picture


Wow.......4 weeks post-self awareness.  If I can get pass the resentment of how I am being denied any emotional heart food, I think I can make it.  On the contrary....she has been going w/o the same for years.  All I can say is that I am sorry.  You know the amazing thing is she does not want to hear any words.  She does not want me to say a thing.  Do not explain anything.  Do not talk about our relationship.  She says the words are draining and killing her softly.  She says give me hope by showing me change.  So this is my response.  My wifey has a project that she is working on.  There were aspects of the project that she needed my support on.  Now mind you.... we are separated living up under the same roof.  In the past I would have said that is your project and would have gone to my man cave for solitude.  This time I stayed there right by her side to assist in the areas that she needed me for.  I tried to be attentive so I can actually be plugged into what she was doing.  I actually caught myself.  Let me first while she was working on the project I was there in the same room with her but was on my phone reading something ...(there but not connected). I then said to myself here we go again.... you are in the same room with her to help her and you are indeed physically here, but your attention is on your phone.  I am therefore disconnected. So I put the phone away and gave her my undivided attention.  This to me is the essence of self-awareness.  I can not change until I actually see what needs to be changed.  

I many of you non-adhd wifes you are saying daaaaaaa, this is common sense.  This is just what normal people do.  Well the sad reality is an adhd person is not normal because they are not doing what we deem normal people do.  This is the problem. Therefore we must put forth effort and be aware.  This is not necessarily something she can tell me or coach me in because it will seem false and rehearsed.   Change, true change comes from within not externally.  Self-awareness.  I am learning how to get my solitude time in the wee hours in the morning when everyone is sleep.  What ever works.....

Veg_girl I think I actually saw a small pebble fall from the 50 foot wall today.

How sweet it could be

Last night I sat visiting with my 95 year old neighbor.  She speaks of her husband who is gone so sweetly.  She told me her husband called her every day from work just to see how she was. If she said she needed something, he enjoyed doing it or getting it for her. She had to be careful what she said so that he didn't do things unnecessarily for her.  How they loved each other! He enjoyed work because it meant that the family was happy and felt cared for.  He felt pride in what they were building together. And she was very well cared for because his "hobby" was the financial pages.  Even his distracting pastime was an effort to support the family and her. I am sure he did things that were difficult (like showing up for work every day on time) and boring (like doing the same thing every day for years) and unpleasant (like driving through rush hour traffic and putting up with co-workers).  He focused on his family and his love for them consistently.  Now that is SEXY!!!

I mean, if you want intimacy, be the guy who a wife can count on and be proud and happy to be the wife of.  Do things together and let her know she is adored and a big part of your life.

I am getting it that ADDers don't choose to not focus. It is just the way the brain is. I grieve for the marriage that is not what I envision it could be.  A relationship that I have been focusing on so much.  I must let that delusion go and stop trying so hard to have something with DH that is never going to happen in this way.  Some of us are protecting our own hearts from years of being left in the dust of your constant turning away from us.  It feels like not just an inability but a lack of discipline and upbringing and love and commitment.  Which, in my case, it is a combination of all these things.

In my case, I believe that help for the ADD in DH will not be enough, there must be a commitment to the marriage for a marriage to work too. 

How sweet it could be by jennalemon

You said, "Some of us are protecting our own hearts from years of being left in the dust of your constant turning away from us.  It feels like not just an inability but a lack of discipline, upbringing, love and commitment".  

It is a combination of all these things in my relationship, too.  We have realized that the lack of these things in my husband's childhood and beyond have scarred him for life.  I, on the other hand, have the good combination of all these things so you would think that we compliment each other but it never has happened.  It still scares the heck out of him!!!!!!

Hate to sound unsympathetic...

but this probably will.............................

Have you noticed that since the diagnosis, there has been much soul searching on your husbands part, that NEVER took place before?  Has he now brought upbringing and family dynamic into a lot of "why he is the way he is"?  I completely understand that, HOWEVER, come on!!!!!!!!   We ALL have issues in our upbringing that make us who we are...good and bad (sometimes very bad--my Dad died when I was 7)....sometimes, it just seems that hubby is drawing at straws to add reasons and explanations for his behavior and I do admit, I'm getting tired of it.  

Maybe I'm just feeling mean today, but when you marry a man with ADHD, it's always all about them....then right after's more-- all about them...I think Sherri told me the spot on truth a few months ago, and I need to face it...."it will NEVER be all about me".  Oh well...sorry....venting.

breaking down the wall

I am the non-ADHD spouse of a husband who is in the process of "changing".  I, like your wife, have fallen into patterns of protecting myself at all costs (no matter how unhealthy) and I no longer have any sympathy for my husband's needs.  To add to the interpretation of your wife's statement that you posted earlier, I would say it this way, "I have spent years without my needs being met and suffering the damage from your behaviors, so, if you're serious about changing, proving that to me includes showing me that you are more concerned with MY needs than your own (i.e. - suffering through it until I'm in a better place)." 

Another bit of advice to you in your journey through self awareness is to work to make sure that you are truly putting her needs first.  For me this is HUGE.  My husband has a tendency to want to do things for me that HE thinks I will want/need/like etc.  However, at the same time, he neglects to do the simple things that I have asked.  While I appreciate his efforts in general, he would be much more effective if he would simply do the things that I ask of him.  

Just FYI, in case your wife may be feeling the same way.  For example, when you are supporting her on her project, be certain to do the things she asked you to do, not the things you deem necessary. 

That's all.  

Great point


You make a great point "My husband has a tendency to want to do things for me that HE thinks I will want/need/like etc.  However, at the same time, he neglects to do the simple things that I have asked.  While I appreciate his efforts in general, he would be much more effective if he would simply do the things that I ask of him."

I feel the same way. I do appreciate it when my DH tries to be thoughtful, but even in those instances, I feel like he doesn't hear me or get me. I've given up dropping subtle hints, and I'm very open and clear about what I would like or need. Instead of making an effort in those areas, though, he takes a different route, usually something that is not important to me...and usually, the "nice" things he does for me are somehow related to activities that he enjoys (like getting me gear for a hobby of that I would like it better and we could spend time together. Nice thought, yes, but why not something I want to do...why not one of my hobbies? After all, I spend plenty of time trying to join him in his things.)

And sometimes I don't even see when he thinks he's doing something nice for me--he has some grand expectation that he'll build XYZ or buy XYZ and we'll both love it and spend lots of time together using XYZ. But he doesn't ask for my opinion on it first. So when I'm not as excited as he is to use XYZ, he gets angry or disappointed...

catch22adhd's picture

The simple things

You know....what ever it takes.  The little things. Got it.  Reflect on the little things and do it.... here we go..

Hi catch!  I am the non ADHD

Hi catch!

 I am the non ADHD wife.. Your wife is me, exactly me. You sound exactly like my husband. Your writing style even. Every argument you've had with you're wife is an argument we've had. The interpretation for your wife and her response is simple to me. I'll tell you how I feel about my husband... I feel like his constant in attentive nature is as bad as him cheating on me! He's taken advantage of my trust and my emotions, toyed with them for years... It is how I took it, that is how my brain and emotions processed what he's done to me.  I know he loves me, and that's what kept me motivated to stay before I knew of his condition. I also numbed myself emotionally and hardened... But he was "here" in all of the basic senses. That also kept me going. Hearing your wife say that she's dealt with her emotions because of how you've not ​been there over the years, and to hear you say "but I know why now!" is nothing more than unfair in her eyes. I think she feels like her ordeal has been minimized because now you "suddenly" have a "problem"... Big deal. that probably sounds harsh and unfair to you... And it is. But you can't expect her to just stop being hurt. You need help, you need the proper tools to stop the hurt. You sound like a smart and trying man, and I think if you can just start your focus on her and your family, try to make yourself a list, a schedule... "fill up the car on tuesdays; change the oil once every three months; put your damn phone down; your computer really isn't as beautiful and wonderful as your wife and children (you like that one? Ha!)..etc.." but to maintain this, you really need to seek therapy and be consistent. If you're aware now and "go back" I can tell you that you won't fair well and you'll hurt her worse than ever before. 

I do wish you the best! 

catch22adhd's picture

A blank check

OMG!!!!!!!! you sound exactly like my non-adhd wife.....OOOOMMMGGGGG this is scary!!!!  You said something in your post "you need help". This is where we are now.  She is saying I need to get help for me. There can be no us until I get help for me"  This statement hurts.  How do I get help or find peace if my marriage is on the rocks?  The next question is what kind of help am I suppose to get?  What do I do walk up to the doctor and say my wife says I need help?  OK..... so I am writing all you non-adhd wifes who are listening a blank check.  If you could change your husband where would you want him to start?  I take marriage very seriously and do not take the impact of what divorce will do to my 4 children lightly. I am completely aware of how divorce will also impact my wife, however for some reason I am just not hearing what she is screaming. I am wiling to get help for me.  Now what does that look like? I have excellent health care.  I have a doctors appointment Friday, but I am apprehensive.  What do I say, my wife said I need help?  Where do I start?  I feel physically fine so the general doctor can only refer me to another do talk, counsel (therapist).  Is this the type of help she is asking me to get?

Again I am willing to change but at this point my wife is entrenched in her position and not willing to expose any of her emotions other than to say if you love me and the kids get help for you.  She recently said that now that you are aware its seems as if things have gotten worse.  I was devastated. We do not argue.  We really have not had a difference of opinion in months. So have things gotten worse. Nothing has changed she says.   After really thinking about it this is what I came up with.  We are separated living in the same house.  We are under the same roof due to financial reasons.  I have a room upstairs and so does she but she chooses to sleep down stairs because she is more comfortable there.  I do speak with her trying to avoid getting into a conversation about us or our relationship.  But sometimes I feel as if she wants me there to be with her and to interact with her but then she wants all the interaction to be lead by me and the interaction needs to be "me free" (free of anything to do with me). She may peek her head around the corner of her 50 foot wall to listen, but for the most part I feel as if I am talking to her through her 50 foot brick wall.  Eventually I retreat to my area and agonize about the loneliness that I am feeling for the rest of the evening.  I feel as if she hates it when I go to my area and exist. But what am I to do.   I honestly feel that she wants me to stay down there, even if she is not really talking or only giving yes no responses.  I do not know if she wants me to suffer like she has or if she wants me there but wants me to keep trying until I finally through patience and love break through the wall.  I am having trouble sleeping at night stressing over my marriage.  What does she want from me.  I am starting to lose hope and give up.  Is the relationship beyond repair?

I have written a blank check for you (non-adhd wifes).  Now if this was your husband what would you ask of him.  I really feel myself beginning to give up.  I can not let this cause me to have a nervous break down.  I have to take care of me as well.  If this is over, just be woman enough to say it so we both can move on.  I am getting to the point where I resent taking care of a family but being forced to live as if I am a single man.  I am sure my wife's response would be, but you have lived like this for years now........What do you think she wants from me?

arwen's picture

so much to respond to (long, sorry)

I doubt your relationship is beyond repair, or your wife probably wouldn't be telling you that she thinks you need to get help!  But it is terribly important that you accept, even if you don't understand right now, that it's very likely that the loneliness that you are feeling now is something that she has been experiencing already for a very very long time without you being aware of it -- and whatever pain you are feeling now is possibly not even as bad as the pain she has been feeling before your "wake-up".  *I* understand you didn't mean to cause pain or loneliness, I understand you weren't aware of how your behaviors were impacting your wife.  But the fact that you didn't mean it doesn't wipe out all her pain.  Imagine feeling the way you do now, every day, for *years* and *years* -- that's very possibly the awful place where your wife has been.  The "wall" is possibly the only way she can survive emotionally at this point.  

Yes, you tell the doctor that your wife thinks you need help, *and so do you*.  Explain that based on what you've been reading online, you think there is reason to believe that you might have ADHD or some other disorder that is having negative impacts on your marriage.  I would strongly recommend that you ask the doctor to refer you to a neuropsychiatrist for evaluation.  This kind of specialist is most qualified to diagnose whether you actually have ADHD or some other neurobehavioral  problem (e.g. OCD, Asperger's, etc.).  Misdiagnosis by non-specialists is unfortunately all too common, and you can't embark on the right treatment without the right diagnosis.  My spouse didn't think he needed help, but agreed to see a counselor when I insisted that something was amiss -- was stunned when the counselor told him his behavior wasn't normal and referred him to a neuropsychiatrist.  

I would also suggest that you try to be completely open to the recommendations of the neuropsychiatrist.  If he/she recommends medication, at least be willing to try it for a while.  You and the doctor may need to experiment with different medications and dosages before you find what works best.  Some folks with ADHD find that they need some kind of anti-depressant along with the ADHD medication.  Counseling is also extremely important, and the neuropsychiatrist should be able to recommend a counselor who is familiar with the problems of your diagnosis.  When you see the counselor, ask if it would be OK for your wife to participate sometimes in the sessions with you.  Ask your wife if she would like to know what these professionals have told you.  Ask her if she wants to come to any of your appointments.

I tend to doubt that your wife wants you to suffer as much as she has.  When my husband and I were at this stage, I wouldn't have wished that on my worst enemy.  That said, pain is probably going to be necessary, because change will be necessary, and change is never totally painless.  You've said you haven't been able to "hear" what she's "screaming" -- to save your marriage, you're going to have to learn how to "hear" better, and once you start "hearing", you may find it overwhelming and unpleasant.  This is something you can't expect your spouse to help you with, but the counselor can.

You may feel like giving up many times.  I can't count how many times my husband and I talked about throwing in the towel (and how many more times we thought about it even if we didn't discuss it).  It takes a lot of courage.  It takes a lot of hard work.  It takes a lot of LISTENING, and trying really hard to understand how your partner is looking at things (which you may be astonished to learn is *frequently* different than how you approach them).  Please understand, I don't advocate persevering until everyone is ready to go off the deep end, but you need to be prepared to go more than just one or two extra miles.

Finally, here's a list of the things I've most frequently told my spouse I wanted, over and over (and now, after many years work, often actually get):

  • I want you to take the initiative.  I'm tired of you waiting to be told what to do, I'm tired of doing all your thinking.  (well, this one still needs some more work, lol)
  • When you're trying to solve a problem, don't just jump at the first answer that comes to mind.  Try to think of at least one more solution, and then consider which makes the most sense.
  • If you're going to do something that could impact me, or something happens that could impact me, you need to talk with me about it, immediately.
  • Don't assume.  Ask.
  • If I ask for information, don't guess.  I can guess just as well as you can.  If you don't know, say so.
  • Please answer the question I asked, not the question you think I should have asked, or the question you would like to answer.
  • Do not *ever* lie to me.  I can usually tell when you are lying, and you will be in much worse trouble with me for lying than whatever trouble you will get because of the thing you are lying about.
  • I need context.  Don't just launch into the heart of a topic, give me some introduction or background first.

For my husband and me, communication is key.  All other improvement follows from dealing with the communication issues.  I wish you the very best of luck, catch!  You are now at the point where there is a light at the end of your tunnel -- but the tunnel seems awfully long.  Hang in there!

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore


I totally agree with Arwen.

I totally agree with Arwen. Everything... All the way to and include the Albus Dumbledore quote... Love it! :)

Catch22 here is a quick response now...will be back

I need to leave this morning, but I wanted to at least address a few of the things you said.  I am the non in my relationship and my husband has inattentive ADD.

1. You are being WAY too impatient.  You have been married 15 years and a decent part of that your ADD has really been messing with the quality of the relationship you have with your wife.  I don't know how long you have been aware of the ADD, but if your experience is anything like my husband's being aware without treatment (ESPECIALLY during the grieving phase) isn't all that much different from being unaware as far as behavior and attentiveness and following through on what you say you will do.  I know my husband thought once he was more aware he was obviously better, but honestly I couldn't tell a big diff.  I could tell he was TRYING.  I could tell he was AWARE that he'd made mistakes, but then he'd make the same ones again.......which leads me to #2

2.  She recently said that now that you are aware its seems as if things have gotten worse.  --I am sorry I giggled a little reading this because I said THE EXACT SAME THING to my husband and the look on his face was about as baffled as you sound right now.  Somehow the ADD brain connects awareness with change, but nothing changes till you actually CHANGE things.  Which you are probably going to need help least a COACH and possibly MEDICATION.

I have said before and I will keep trying to make ppl aware of the fact that for us the worst time for me emotionally was the year following my husband's diaganosis.  Why?  Because before that we didn't know WHY and afterward he KEPT DOING IT EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW WHY.....definitely worse! 

We got help fast.....within a year of the awesome honeymoon phase of our marriage ending which probably took 3-4 years, so fortunately a lot of resentments hadn't built up.  We started fighting a lot....he made a mistake or two and lied to me about it (forgetting to pay a bill etc) and the lying was worse than anything.  The lying and my reaction to it shook him up so much that he immediately sought help, he found ADD after searching online for symptoms like him, I honestly thought he was crazy since my idea of ADD is my cousin who bounces off walls--never heard of ADD without hyperactivity!  Then we got Delivered from Distraction by Dr Hallowell and there are a couple self tests in there which made it OBVIOUS that ADD was a possiblitity.  FYI, we took those tests printed out with his answers written in to his first appt.

I kept reading beyond that.......what do we do now?  He waiting for the pills to be his magic bullet no matter how many times I explained to him that just because meds can make it so you can see well enough to thread a needle for the first time, still doesn't mean you know how to sew.  He was going to need to develop new tools.  HE COULDN"T ACCEPT THAT.......he waited for his appt in 3 months without doing much except reading particular passages I would point out to him or listen as I would read something to him.

When he got diagnosed I was ready to hit the ground running.........WE KNOW WHAT THIS IS....LETS KICK IT TO THE CURB!  And he seemed to hole up and do...........very little (I believe I described it around that time as 'nothing') but nothing wasn't really true.  Read a post of mine or two from back is when I found this site and I was ready to pull my hair out.

I DIDN"T REALIZE HE NEEDED TIME TO GRIEVE THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH HIM.  This is the stage you sound to be in to me.  You want to hold up and feel sad and lonely and grieve.  You wife is ready for you to do are going to have to TALK about this.  The angriest I ever was was during that year post-diagnosis when he kept acting to me like he was ready to do the work and he kept holing up.  DON"T ACT LIKE YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU will only be more disappointment on top of disappointment.

Now once my husband came out of the grief he was much more like XYZ....accepting that he needed more than meds, accepting that he hadn't been paying attention, accepting that he'd hurt me and that he needed to help fix that.

Your wife has to be ready to trust you again.......fortunately due to the relative short amount of time he was affecting me badly, I was always willing to trust and work with and support.....and still those things he'd done to hurt me (intentionally or not) still HURT me and had to be talked about and resolved while he really really wanted to sweep them under the carpet and never think about them again.

I told him if he accidentally hit me with the car, I would accept it wasn't his intention, but we still had to go to the hospital and fix the damage.  It was HARD for him to hear but it had to be done.

As far as my blank check, the single most important thing to me at the beginning probably would have just been DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO.  Every time or tell me that you didn't before I find out some other way.........finding the electric bill shoved into a pocket in the car ISN"T the way I want to find out that you forgot to pay it......etc  OH and while you are at it, stop making everything about you......your posts are all memememe  and seem to show very little knowledge of what you have done to the family.

Also, I can't remember if you have Melissa's book or not (there is a post from me in my angry phase that made it to the book :( ) but you REALLY need to read it together.  You are BOTH in there and you both need to feel heard and it is WONDERFUL way to take a section and read it and discuss how it affects you.  You are both at the stage where you don't even know what to ask each other, so the book is invaluable.  We read it when we well knew what we were dealing with had had been for years and it still opened up wonderful conversation.

Wishing you and your wife all the best on this one, but you are really going to have to take a breath and realize this kind of damage can't be fixed in a month or is hard work and is for the long haul.

Ok now I am late cause I am not capable to writing a short post :)  Also listen to ARWEN, every bullet point she listed is VITAL.

If that was the short list ;)

Hey Aspen...

You are SO right about the year 1 A.D. (After Diagnosis) It was the worst for us too.

On a completely unrelated subject, do you refer to me as "XYZ" for a reason or did you not see my Rush Reference in my "YYZ"?

Just curious ;)

Cause I thought it was your name :)

LOLOLOL  I had to look twice at your post to even wonder why you would ask why I call you XYZ.....and I am the detail oriented one in our family :)

And even though I had a friend that I seriously believe was the hugest Rush fan in the entire world,  I still see no reference, so that makes me doubly inattentive today :)


SOOOO sorry YYZ!!!!  I just thought in my head that XYZ was such a great name cause we are always talking about doing X and getting reaction Y or whatever.....maybe that is just me :)

Moving Pictures :)

No problem at all Aspen :D 

I figured you were thinking about X, Y, Z... Once embedded I figured even looking at "YYZ" you could only see what you knew was correct. "Welcome to the World O' ADD" :D

On Rush "Moving Pictures" the song "YYZ" is the instrumental on the album. On "Exit Stage Left", Neil Peart plays a Kick A$$ Drum Solo!

I kept waiting for someone else familiar with my rants to mention the "Typo", but nobody ever did, so I thought I would say something before there was confusion between my two Names ;)

catch22adhd's picture

You mean its gets worse....

I guess there is a lot of soul searching that has to be done.   I think I need to back away for a second and regroup. Focusing on this 24/7 is emotionally taxing.  Very Very taxing.  I love my wife dearly but me having a stroke or getting sick will not help matters either.  This is all I think about day and night and in the wee hours of the morning.  I need to back away for a moment for my sanitys sake.  This does not mean stop trying but it does mean get help and take it slow.  


Worse, I guess, is relative to your situation...

For us, we were never really doing THAT badly.  There was anger, there were fights, but as soon as those things started getting more and more numerous; we both realized right away that this wasn't 'us'.  I think maybe being friends for several years before being a couple helped us there.  He knew I wasn't a angry nag and I knew that if anyone in the world could make me feel loved and special, it was him--we immediately got to wondering why are we so angry and hurt then!?!?

That led us fairly quickly to ADD and that let us fairly quickly to solutions.  The problem was not being on the same page.  I was the one with most of the anger because of all the inattentiveness I was experiencing, but once we had a reason, I was willing to let it go quickly.....clean slate....lets work on this.  He was grieving.  Now I have grieved........I have seriously grieved having lost 5 very close friends all together in a plane crash.  And my husband was my rock for months and months, so I WOULD HAVE been there for him if he TOLD ME he was grieving.  I think we just neither of us realized.

I was ready to GOGOGO and he didn't seem to want to.........NOW I can see that he couldn't.  He was grieving, he was processing.  I remember asking him why he wasn't doing anything, and he telling me that he WAS.  When I asked for examples of what he was doing........all he could say after thinking about it was "I am thinking about doing things."  Now I know that for a man with newly diagnosed ADD this is a necessary process......he was getting his mind around the road ahead the way that you are.  I didn't know and since he isn't in general a big problem solver in life (you know the kind that goes into his 'cave' to play video games, clear his mind, and then come out with a plan). I expected that but my husband went into his 'cave', played video games and escaped for a while, but he DIDN"T come out with a plan or more ready to tackle the plan.  If I hit him with needing a plan as soon as he emerged (hey I left him alone in there for a couple hours hoping he'd come out better) his reaction was to want to run back into his cave and escape some more.

We just didn't understand what the other was dealing with.  Dr Hallowell was GREAT to help me understand what HE was dealing with, but for a long time we nons felt a bit left out in the cold.  Melissa's book filled a real need in my opinion and also Married to Distraction by Dr Hallowell is fabulous to help you know what is going on and reconnect from whatever place of distance you are in.

If we were going through this situation again, knowing then what we know now, I don't think it would have been so hard.  But suspicion of ADD to diagnosis was about 2 months for us--during that time I read up on it like a fiend and he sat around waiting to see if meds were suggested.  After diagnosis, I was ready to implement the suggestions I had been reading about and he was in grief mode hoping the meds would do it all.  It was maddening.

I feel DEEPLY for all of you without supportive wives......but think of it the other way. I was doing the best I had in me to support my husband and it wasn't in the way he needed at the time and he didn't even know how to communicate that to me.  And here I am thinking "I wiped out my anger because I understood it wasn't deliberate, I gave you a clean slate, and THIS is what you want to do with it!??!"    I think I ended up way angrier when he was finally ready to work than I started out from his inattentiveness..

When he was ready to work, I was in a "prove it" frame of mind.  We just all need to forgive each other, try to get out of our heads long enough to see what the other is going through, and COMMUNICATE with the other about what is really needed.  Those skills are invaluable to any marriage, but it is so vital here because when your brains are wired differently, there is NO CHANCE of your assumptions telling even half the story especially in the beginning.

BOTH need forgiveness for the way they've over reacted and under reacted to what has happened.  My husband's therapist helped him realize his patterns of doing this go back to his childhood where his dad under reacted to everything and his mom over reacted to everything. 

When you BOTH realize you need forgiveness, and can both humbly and honestly ask for it, you have won the war right there.  You will still have battles to deal with........but the war is already won and ADD cannot beat the two of you together.  I swear to you it absolutely CANNOT do it.

Best wishes to you!

1 AD

OMG! We are hitting the one-year anniversary mark for my husband's ADHD diagnosis. He is on medication and has made huge behavioral changes. Yet, I still "can't get over it." . I think I am still grieving the bad years. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. Is year 2 A.D. better?

I should also mention that I'm still really tired from years of carrying more than my fair share of home life and parenting.  


My question to you...can you

My question to you...can you tell US what your wife's complaints are? If she were here now, what would her top 3, 5, or 10 complaints be? Although there are a lot of similarities, other than 'don't lie', I cannot really relate to the other non-ADHD spouses 'blank check' lists of needs from my DH...those haven't really been issues in my marriage. I think it best YOU put your mind to work on this one...then I will give you my input. I am the non-ADHD DH has ADHD diagnosed at the age of 38...fourteen years into our marriage. I know all about walls. 

catch22adhd's picture

Her concerns...

Disconnection. Being there but not there are I believe her biggest concerns.  Listening to her, being attentive to what she is saying and being responsive to her communicated desires whether it be ironing the kids school cloths for the week or not interrupting her in the conversation.  Big one.  Making decisions particularly on my job that puts the family first....that communicates to others that my family is priority.

My husband being inattentive

My husband being inattentive to me wasn't something that was a huge problem in our marriage until about 2 1/2 years ago when his mother fell ill and passed away a few months later. It was the beginning of a very long, lonely road of disconnection between us.

I know it isn't the same as the situations where the non-ADHD spouse complains that as soon as she said "I do" the ADHDer seemed to flip a switch. Many complain about feeling completely unneeded and unnecessary in the lives of their spouses with ADHD. Although my circumstances were different...the disconnect was because he was hiding out in the den self-medicating...I can completely relate. Come to think of it, about the first 2 years of our marriage I had similar complaints ("why am I even here? We never spend time together!")...I guess I just tend to forget some of the more 'mild' times, as they are overshadowed by the hell of the past 2+ years. 

You are shaken up are becoming awakened to the fact that you've caused a lot of pain with your inattention. She will worry that it is only because of your current state of 'panic' that you're making efforts now. She will have to learn to trust your new found awareness and it might take a lot longer than you wish it did. Don't beat the dead horse, you both know the issues...or at least I hope you do. It seems you do. So just do the hard work. Move forward. Be present in her life. Listen. Respond. Hold her. Touch her. Expect nothing in return...and don't get angry or give up if you don't immediately get the response you wanted. 

A mistake my husband made, when once going through the similar 'panic' you are, is that he all of the sudden desired a LOT of physical connection. Hugging, cuddling, etc. Not even sex, so much, just lying in bed together cuddling and holding hands. Once his panic passed, I got left in the dust...again. That hurt worse than you can imagine. Don't do it because it is what YOU need to feel better. Don't rip it away from her if/when you feel comfortable that she's learning to trust you again. Make the changes for the LONG TERM and make them real. 

She is a human being in which you share a life...and children. She sounds like she is an amazing person. Engage in her life, get to know her. Find ways to find fulfillment as a man and father by simply participating in the lives of your family members. Take pride in being a father that your children will look back on as someone who was there for them and protected them. Take pride in being a husband who gives his wife reasons to brag to her friends. Don't beat yourself up if you don't always get things right, none of us do. She will notice that you're trying, even if you fail...and that will matter too.

Make spending time with your family a priority...put away the gadgets and engage. I wish you the best of luck.

catch22adhd's picture

Sometimes I wonder

Sometimes I wonder how much of this was ADHD and how much of this was simply poor communication.  All the signs were there but as hard as I worked for the family and gave of myself to provide for the family why did this not translate into I love you?  I used to wonder why was my wife always somewhat upset about something.  Why did she always have a chip on her shoulder.  I remember clearly during the first 5 years of our marriage asking all of the time what's wrong?  What's going on with you?  She really never articulated that she was lonely.  During our first year of marriage i literally started my first career job the Monday morning after the honeymoon. And yes I was always busy with something.  So I guess it was a disconnection right after the honeymoon.  I should have seen this but I did not.  But I do have a nagging question, why did she not say lets spend more time together?  She communicated her loneliness through angry acts that I did not translate into I need you.  She was clearly communicating but I did not hear the message...........

Today, I watch her closely.  She really does not want to interact with me in any kind of affectionate way, but if I leave the room and retreat to my cave out of frustration from dealing with the wall her countenance changes.  So she wants me there but will not show it or express that.  I can not tell you how frustrating this is.  She wants change but I am not so sure that she really wants what she has been longing for. Is it too late?  If so why is she still here?


My second doctors appointment is this Thursday.  Will be tested to see if it is true.  I do not know if my wife and relationship is beyond repair.  But at least I will be dealing with what  really is going on with me for the first time.  I will be seeing this through to the end.

Blank Cheque

Hi Catch22

I am new here, in fact i read your post and decided to join.

I am the wife of a man i believe is an undiagnosed adhd hubby. 

We have discussed the likelihood of him having the condition many times on and off. He saw a counselor for depression a few years ago, at one of which, he told my husband it was a strong possibility that he had adult adhd. There was no follow up to get formal diagnosis, as i think we let it slide a bit. It surprised me as i had always associated this with kids who have a hard time keeping still and concentrating, but as we looked into it the more obvious it became. 


We recently had words, and he said something which hurt me a lot, and after a day or two he still hadn't apologised and we were walking past each other in the house and generally not talking, so i phoned him while he was out of the house (this helps me as i feel i have his undivided attention! well at least i cant see if he is on his computer while im talking!) and asked if he thought we should talk about what happened. His response is one i hear a lot "I don't know what you want me to say". This meant to me that he was "unaware totally and completely of how upset i was", it meant to him "i don't understand why we are not talking". I wanted an apology but i couldnt ask for one because then its meaningless, because its not come from the heart and after acceptance of the cause and effect. I know sorry seems to be the hardest word but you have to understand why you are saying it. I think that I have indentified we both need education on the symptoms, and how to address them when communicating, can the symptoms of adhd can cause confusion in relationships.

I think she needs to get some counseling, and arm herself with knowledge about your condition, so that she knows your brain processes arguements differently to hers. You will need to work on the distraction while you are talking about these things though!

my cheque- I would like it if after a disagreement, my husband (once we had calmed down) decided to address it first, rather than me having to wait two days crying about it while he walked around as if nothing happened. Id also like him to not to ask me to tell him what to say, but to ask how can i make it up to you, when would you like to talk about it? And like others have said TELL ME problems you have. dont lie.

I think it would help you to keep a diary to look back on and see what leads to into bad situations and how you resolved them. 

I have been thinking about your situation, and another point you raised about showing love in different ways struck a chord with me because i recently said to my husband that I would be less angry and probably cry less, if I FELT I was loved, and had the physical and emotional security.That would make the mistakes, financial problems and lies a bit easier to cope with, but it was always a double slap in the face, because he never made up for the wrong things either and i had no good memories of love to draw from to get me through. Now i' m not talking about telling someone you love them cos although that is important its superficial if not backed up by actions. The actions are key. and theyre not the ones you would neccessarily want....

There is a book called the five love languages and it really helped me to realise what makes relationships fail in some areas, has nothing to do with adhd. I think you cant undo the hurt, but you can change how you react to it. The idea is that everyone has a different love language, and you need to learn what hers is.

eg ;although i thought hugs and spending time showed love, because thats what i wanted and needed, he thought acts of service (cooking his fave food, helping getting his stuff ready, taking care of the house generally helping him) and gifts were how he felt it ( not talking big things just chocolates and little things for his car or cover for his phone). I would recommend getting this book and discussing it with her at a later date. (sorry i dont remember who the author is i can find out later if you want)

But I do agree with another reply on here that you need to slow down and adjust. I would really suggest going out on a friend date, just to do something fun for both of you (mostly her though as you may need to compromise to get her to agree), it reduces stress a lot, again you need to check what fun would be for her, something that you can both do like a comedy club night out or ice skating, something which doesnt involve too much talking, this can reconnect you in a stress free environment, and you will be respecting the "no us talk" that she wants now.

I really hope my ideas can help you, i wish you the best of luck and would like to say don't give up you can turn your life around, knowledge is power and wisdom listens and all that jazz :) 

Vanilla xx



catch22adhd's picture

time to pay up

Well I signed a blank check.  Now it is time to pay up.  I concede.  Counseling would most definitely be beneficial for me at this this time.

catch22adhd's picture

Step 1

Today I had my first appointment. Although this was a general physical a referral was made to be tested for ADHD and possible other associated conditions.  In all honesty I felt violated, however this is the first step.  I will follow through and educate myself on what this is and how best to manage it. 

I feel like superman after his first run in with kryptonite. Will try to stay up beat.

1st Step...

It will get better... It's difficult when you are told you have a Brain Disorder, so when people mention the grieving phase, this is it. The more you learn, the more you will realize how many things you have known about yourself are common to the diagnosis. I used to think that I was the only person who thought in the weird ways that I did. I did not believe the diagnosis when I heard it, then I read "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy" and I knew he was right after chapter 1. Many respond well to the meds and 30 minutes after my first Adderall, I knew what it was like to feel good. I have plugged away ever since... The real work begins after the diagnosis and treatment begins.

Hang in there...

"'There can be no us until I

"'There can be no us until I get help for me.'  This statement hurts.  How do I get help or find peace if my marriage is on the rocks?"

This is at the core of my relationship, too.  My husband has ADHD.  I do not.  Both he and I see that our marriage is on the rocks.  But he cannot seem to fathom that his ADHD has anything to do with our floundering relationship.  Is it the only factor? No.  Do I have faults and behaviors that have contributed?  Yes.  And I am working on those things.  But my husband cannot recognize that his ADHD is causing problems for US.  Until he does, and until he works on the ADHD, I don't think that our marriage will improve enough to merit staying in. 

Stay the course!


I'm no professional but I'm acute ADHD also and recently came to some huge realizations that have affected my life for 30 years because of the book "The add effect on Marriage".  I was diagnosed about 10 years ago and never really was able to grasp what it was doing to the people around me no matter what kind of relationship it was, no matter what kind of job i had, I always managed to jack it up. From my understanding, medicine is a very small portion of the treatment.  The biggest part is behavioral changes.  Get the book!  It's amazing!  As you probably already know, it's difficult to sit down and read..... BORING....once you do, personally, It changed my life.  Not properly treated ADHD destroyed my marriage and my ex wife and my two precious kids now live far away.  I had alienated nearly everyone in my life and was working on alienating my family members one by one.  I'm sorry, but you don't get a crumb. How long did it take her to build that wall??   Your crumb is that you're still married. Be extremely grateful that you're still married.  You still have a fighting chance!   All you can do is BE CONSISTENT!   Your consistent actions and consistent actions alone will start to break the wall down. Write everything down.  I use and app on my phone called Evernote.  Any thought i have, I write it down in my smartphone in Evernote.  You can't make her do it until she's ready and I believe that's where counseling comes in to play and patience.  I have the utmost respect for any non adhd spouse out there who has to deal with an undiagnosed adhd partner.   My problem is that I knew that I  had ADHD and was taking meds but wasn't making the proper behavioral changes that are required.  I think in the book it says that the meds are just an assistant, which is exactly what they are.  My counselor told me to celebrate all small successes as simple as they may be, for me, just making it to work on time.  I was chronically late for every job I've ever had. When you think you need a crumb, think about the patience that your partner as exuded to even maintain any semblance of a relationship with you.  My exwife made it about 5 years.  I was a stay at home dad because i couldn't stay employed.  My ex began to throw zingers at me like "The person I fell in love with is the person who I've come to despise the most" or  "I don't trust you with the kids".  Imagine how that feels??!!  I'm their dad :( .The great thing about being adhd is that when you're hyper focused on breaking the wall down, it will come down a lot faster than you can imagine.  You just have to be smart about it and try and railroad her into thinking "you've changed".  I like to think of ADHD as an addiction you're born with.  Until you embrace it all, you're never going to get past the obstacles it presents and also won't be able to celebrate the perks ADHD brings.  Recently, I was engaged to my soul mate and I almost messed that up also.  We were living together and she had decided to move out because of my anger, inconsistentcy, lying, all the usual suspect symptoms.  She couldn't take it anymore.  She walked on eggshells when I got home from work because she didn't know what kind of mood I would be in.  She was always taking the lions share of the workload around the house.  How long can a person do that???!!  I broke down and cried once realized what I had done.  It was 1am in and I just read a paragraph in that book that struck me deep in the heart that I had to call my mom at the time.  I was so overwhelmed about all the hurt I had caused to people I loved.  Family, friends,  and lovers had to make excuses for my bad behaviors and the meantime, protect themselves from me and whatever shitty thing I may or may not do to them.  The magnitude of words ADHD people say is lost on them as they're saying them, even after they've said them for the most part.  I used my adhd as a crutch and an excuse after I was diagnosed.  I'm adhd, so I can so those mean and hurtful things.  I"m taking the meds.... what else do you want from me??!!  Always excuses.  "I had a masters degree in excuse making" was the part I was referring to from the book.  Sorry for the long winded response lol.  My meds wore off a bit ago LOL.  The happy ending for me is yet to come.  My ex fiancee that had moved out is now talking to me again and we're working through things.  She understands that I mean business this time.  I had to earn my way back into her life and I'm happy she's giving the chance.  It's frustrating trying to repair the damage, it truly is.  Every time I get frustrated, I think about how frustrating it must have been for her to deal with me and all my excuses, lies, and everything else.  That usually gets me through any kind of self pity, frustration, or any emotion that keeps me from moving forward to repair damage that I caused.  That I caused....I accept that.  We always said that there was a piece missing and we would be the perfect couple... after two and a half years of break ups with her and getting back together, probably a dozen times at least, I finally realized that missing piece was me the entire time.  Now, I can hyper focus on us!!!  She's the love of my life and she's worth everything to me!



I don't have much to add,

I don't have much to add, just wanted to wish you the best of luck. Listen...without being defensive...listen to what your finance is telling you and actively engage in changing the things she says are hurtful to her. Don't blame her, don't blow her off, but truly listen and find something deep down inside of you that WANTS to change...for YOU. I wouldn't want to be a person who made everyone that lived with me walk on eggshells...not just for their sake, but for my own. Who wants to be that kind of ass? So, change for YOU and everyone else will benefit. Congratulations on your self awareness and best of luck to you here on out! It is never too late to make things better with anyone. 

Yes, I hear exactly what

Yes, I hear exactly what you're hearing...and kudos for you for being able to hear it, repeat it, and understand it. It isn't a isn't about her punishing you. It is simply that she does not trust you and it is your job to see to it that she does again. Not hers. It isn't your place to dictate how long that will take her. It IS your place to find out what it will take...even if you have to get professional intervention. A counseling session with someone who can get her to open up about what she needs from you, while you sit and listen intently without interruption, might be a good place to start. She cannot expect you to know how to make this all OK on your much as she would like to. But you cannot tell her that because coming from you, she will see it as you 'taking' from her, still. I don't know anyone who wouldn't prefer simple results versus discussing things over and over again...surely you can understand that. After all, how many times has she tried to discuss it in the past? Were you always receptive. She is done talking, she wants results...and she is still there, I feel, because she still has hope. Get on with life, do like you this for yourself and your family because it is what you all deserve...consistency will be your best friend right now. Being consistent and dependable. 

From the other side of the wall...

This is my first time in this forum. I could have responded to many of the other threads, but I was struck by your post, so here it goes:

My husband has been struggling with ADHD, OCD, and bipolar tendencies his entire life. What attracted me to him 25 years ago was his energy, his kindness, his sense of humor, his striking good looks, and his intelligence. He is a loving and lovely person, but three children and 15 jobs later I can't see any of those things anymore, and I hate myself for it. You have a sobered and sobering grasp of the dynamics of your relationship right now and for your wife's position in them, and for that you are to be commended. I just wanted to offer you some reassurances from a position that looks much like your wife's: we love you guys, we really do. We value all of the things we've struggled to build together and want nothing more than for things to settle down long enough to enjoy them, but we're terrified. The fires that we've become skilled at putting out seem always to be smoldering. I know that's not fair.  I cry when I am alone because i feel I'm unkind. My children, who are older now, cry about the same thing, especially my daughter who has remained tenderly open to him and his needs as I have shut down. I cry when I am alone about my inability to feel compassion. I cry about the fact that my children have to work so hard to understand, but they do and that's all there is to that, and they'll be better for it. 

I offer all of this only for a little clarity and another voice telling you that those who love you, will continue to do so, even if the structure of your relationship changes shape. I don't know what that shape will be, for any of us. I met my husband for lunch yesterday after I had received a text from him asking me if I was having an affair. Sometimes I wish that I were, but I'm not. It is my distance from him that has him thinking in this direction and so I can see where it is coming from, and so I met with him in an effort to step away from the house and its problems (there are so many) and to limit distractions so that maybe he would "hear" me a tad better. I explained that the issues are between us and that I can tell him point-blank what my issues are that have taken the spark out of our relationship, but he doesn't hear me. He thinks that he does, but since he has no idea how to fix it he gets angry and tunes me out. I know that this is the fear of losing me, and the fear of not knowing what to do for himself. I used to take care of all the messy things. I am not being a martyr and I have been through years of therapy for co-dependency, so I know , now, where to draw boundaries, but he doesn't like it. I am trying to be patient with explanations and understanding. I feel like he is too, but we come at it from very different places. His, I think, is to put things back the way they were, where I had an unending supply of patience and problem-solving strategies up my sleeve. The truth is that it won't ever look that way again. I try to explain that our relationship is changing and as much as I think he wants to be onboard to be a part of it, I just don't know.

Ask yourself what your expectations are for you, your wife, and your relationship. If it is to have it back to where it once was, that may not be realistic. But it is also not the end.


A lot of patience, but

A lot of patience, but hopefully not 15 years.

My ADD husband and I have been married for 4 years. He was diagnosed about a year and half into our marriage. A lot of damage had been done by then. I was in a deep depression, but I had hope that with treatment, he'd get better. He had flashes where he would do better, but in general, it was the same old, same old. We eventually separated informally when he moved for a job. We recently reunited and it's an uphill battle, I won't lie. As we spend time together, and he proves himself to be someone who still loves and cares about me, my perception changes. He's still a mess with money, but you know, I made the realization the other night that he has been there for me emotionally during the last 6 weeks (my grandfather, who's like a father, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed last week after a short battle) and had he not been, things would have a million times worse. With that realization, my perceptions have begun to change. I finally have hope that we will make it and maybe one of these days, be stable enough to have kids. 

Being patient is not a ADDer's strong suit I know. With us ladies who have been hurt, time and time again, it's hard to let go of the past and move forward. We're afraid to move forward because it may mean more of the same. I would entreat you to focus on your wife's emotional there for her and I think you'll start to seeing some results. But don't expect them to come over night because they won't. Don't expect her to throw you any carrots because she won't. Just be there. Even a simple, "I'm here for you" speaks volumes.

If you can swing, try to get some counseling. Hubby and I have been in with a counselor since last November and are starting to see results now. So even that takes time.

Best of luck to you.

catch22adhd's picture


Dazedandconfused, thank you for your insight.  I guess the wall was built brick by brick therefore must be removed the same way.  I really need a positive way of dealing with the pain of the brick wall.  Just trying not to create new problems.

catch22adhd's picture


Jennalemon I want to thank you for sharing and giving insight into how you feel and for providing a possible window into how my wife is feeling.  What I hear you saying is basically you want a partner.  I know you have communicated what you want over and over again; however, what if he simply is not aware of his actions and how they impact you?  Please give me a second to explain.  

My wife can say and has said literally  everything you stated in your post; however for 15 years I did not hear what she was saying.  I was not self-aware.  This means I was not able to see how what I was doing and how what I was doing was affecting my wife.  I heard the words that she was saying. I knew she was upset or giving me the cold shoulder because of something that I had either said or had done but I really did not see the root to her anger and frustration.  I responded to her being angry not the reason why she was angry.  My focus was on the fact that she was upset not the reason why she was upset.  One day I asked my wife what was wrong?  I asked her what did she want?  Her response was I want a normal relationship.  Now I am sure to her she was saying and feeling within herself everything that you wrote in your previous posting (an active contributing partner), but all I heard was "I want a normal relationship".  That is vague.  That tells me absolutely nothing. For years I have felt as if I have been chasing a ghost.  Looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Trying to catch my shadow.  Do you realize how frustrating that is?  

She is upset because I can not present the pot of gold and I am frustrated that I have not found it.  Therefore...........non-adhd wives out there..... do not interpret your adhd husband's inability to get (understand) what you are saying as I do not love you or care.  Sometimes.........Sometimes........he really just does not know what you want.  I know you have said it and have expressed it over and over again, however until he becomes self-aware he can not see what you are saying. Thus he can not give you what you want. You are asking him to change. You are looking for true change.  You are wanting evidence that he really gets it.  If he is not self aware then he will find himself asking you for a list of things that you  want as oppose to just knowing.  This may not apply to anyone but me and my wifey but she has been looking for me to be connected, plugged in, an active contributing partner, someone who plans the trips, helps with the details of the trip, think of little cute things to do associated with the trip.  Well what I gave was I showed up for the trip.  I made sure that the car had gas and I drove.  I was somewhat trapped in my thoughts for the bulk of the road trip but I was there, I was trying, I was footing the bill so whats the problem.......right.  Why are you not talking to me when we return from the family road-trip?  The problem is she wanted me.  They wanted me not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and all the other parts of me that causes me to be plugged into them. I get it!!!!!!!

I just did not see it!!!!! @#$%!.  For 15 years this is what she has been screaming for and I just did not know.  I presnested my self as a selfish jerk, but it was not intentional.  Even today, technically I never heard what she was saying or understood what she meant.  It was not until I heard other non-adhd wifes saying and describing the same thing that I was able to say.....Hey..... I do that...Wow my wife got upset about the same thing. OMG!!!!!!! Other people are going through the exact same thing too....  Everything has been described to the Tee in this forum. for me it was not until hearing it from others was I able to see.  This is not to say that the forum is a magic bullet.  I am still impulsive, and must fight the urge for solitude, must be aware that I can be variant and and at odds with everything position that my wife takes, but I am at least aware how things things impact my family.  So now I will explore and learn ways to be present in the lives of my family and marriage.  And by the way....yes I am a techy and I love my computers.

The computer is a way to escape.  I push delete and guess what..... the word is gone.  I type the letter 3 and guess what appears....... a 3.  In other words I know what to expect. I understand the computer.  It is a comfort blanket to me.  So when I spending hours and hours editing a video all my wifey sees is me spending a lot of time on the computer and me being away from my family. Tis true.  But I am also in a place of safety.  This does not make it right I know.  But this is what is going on in side of me.  

You're lucky

"I just did not see it!!!!! @#$%!.  For 15 years this is what she has been screaming for and I just did not know.  I presented my self as a selfish jerk, but it was not intentional."

Catch- You and your family are very lucky. I know you've spent 15 years in the ADD fog, and you're making up for all of those years of hurt and missed expectations, but you're lucky that you are now ready and willing to work on your relationship. 

The biggest problem for many of us here is that our ADD spouses/loved ones have not reached this level of self-awareness. They're still presenting themselves as selfish jerks...whether they mean to or not. And herein lies our secondary problem: even if they don't mean to be selfish, they are selfish, and it hurts. And we've dealt with this hurt for years. It gets to a point where you have to stop and ask yourself--what if he/she never finds that awareness? What if this is how it'll always be? What if he never sees the effect all of this has had on me? Can I continue this way, feeling this alone in my marriage? And if the answer is no, how on earth am I supposed to go about leaving this person, who I love so much...what if I'm giving up too early, what if that "a-ha" moment is just around the corner? Maybe I should hang on a little longer...and then another year goes by and all you've gotten is another year older. And you wonder, shoot, if I had left a year ago, maybe I would actually be happy by now...

And this is our cycle--I can't speak for everyone here, of course, but I know this has been my experience, and I've heard it echoed by many others on these boards.

catch22adhd's picture

The ADD fog

Veg-girl, take a moment and think about it.  You are in a fog.  You can hear someone speaking but you can not determine what direction it is coming from.  There is a bus (confrontation) coming right at you but you do not see it until it is right in your face.  Your add hubby is searching to find you but the fog is just so thick right now.  How does one solve a problem that they are not quite convinced exist?

Ok enough with the fog. In plain english now... on this particular matter I am not convinced totally that this is an add/adhd thing. Many of us men just do not understand the concept of family and relationship.  I can say some of the same things about my wife.  For example, does'nt she see that the grass needs to be cut or that the leafs need to be racked? Does she not know that it is time to change the oil?  Every time she cranks the car up is says "change oil soon"  The message is right in front of you.  There is no thinking involved, yet she drives and drives and drives with the message and bells ringing from the dash board. So why does she just not get it? I believe some times society places certain gender roles that are engraved in the mind of husbands and wives. It was not that my wife did not see that the oil needed to be changed.  She ignores it because in her mind that's what I should do as a husband. That's his role.  My wifey hates to pump gas.  She will drive the car home on fumes of gas only to leave me to pray my way to the gas station and hope that I do not run out of gas before I get there.  I have asked her time and time again just let me know that you are low, but she says you should be aware and check or just know to keep it full.  Wow......she just does not get it.  

Now looking at these examples that I described comes purely from a male perspective.  Does it really upset me, no not really. This is just the role that I play as a husband.  What you veg-girl want is for your DH to do those caring and thoughtful things that the former husband of the 95 year old did.  Is it possible that many of the family things that you want him to do are things that he sees as the wife's responsibility and not his.  Could it be possible that he has tuned those things out not because he does not care or does not love you, but he just feels that that is not his responsibility.  This does not make it right and this does not justify the situation, the idea is to examine the thought behind the actions that are frustrating you.  

Yes in our vows we add/adhd husbands promised to cherish you, but for years I felt that I am cherishing her by being faithful to her, paying the bills (all of them), and keeping a roof over our heads.  But to my wife that was not enough.  She wanted a relationship. I was expressing love one way but she needed it expressed in another way.   I do not know whether that is an add/adhd thing or a classic issue in married life.  Please do not give up or let go.  I know you have needs that are not being met, but hopefully through prayer and counseling he will begin to see. Also take a closer look at your expectations.  It is scary to have a dream (fantasy) of what a husband should be as the gold standard.  I believe your husband loves you dearly, but is just having a difficult time expressing it in a way that you can receive it. He no doubt needs to try harder, but with hope and counseling maybe he will begin to see.

Please note that my wife would probably say" dare you give someone advice about marriage when our marriage is jacked up?"  Well who best to ask about how to deal with a troubled marriage, someone who has a perfect marriage or someone who can identify with your plight?

Still chipping away at the wall.

4 days since the last time that I upset my wife. My goal 365 days. 


Regarding responsibility. The

Regarding responsibility.

The problem is, so many of us Non-ADHDers have shouldered all of the responsibilities of marriage and family, while the ADHDer lives the care-free, fantasy life, ignoring or "maybe" not seeing the responsibilities of marriage and family.  In my case, my husband still continues to fail in taking care of himself, his vehicles and his possessions.  As a means of survival, I have always had to take care of most of the responsibilites of life.  In recent years, especially after his diagnosis and awareness of the problem and visiting this site as often as possible, I have learned to let go of alot of the responsibility that truly is his to deal with.  It is hard I will admit.  I have had to pretty much put myself in a "FOG" if you will, to let some responsibilities go, that in the past I would have just taken care of.  

MagicSandwich's picture

It's not Mars vs. Venus. It's you.

"Many of us men just do not understand the concept of family and relationship."

Dude, seriously? You're going to Mars-n-Venus your inattentiveness? Not buying it. And stop calling her "wifey"

catch22adhd's picture

Mother's Day

Wishing you all a happy Mother's Day.   

I have to commend you for

I have to commend you for looking at this site and trying to see how your wife felt, that is leaps and bounds from what I've ever seen from my husband.  I saw your frustrations in her not responding immediately to your trying to change.  I did read further to see that you did become more patient and I was glad you didn't expect her to just start living happily ever after like mine does because he can remember to take his Adderall.  

I have been with my ADD husband for almost 16 years.  He has within the past two years received a diagnosed, takes medication, and did for a short time attend therapy (I think he made all of 3 sessions), but that was only after I had broken and said do something/get help or I'm gone, I can't do it anymore.  We have two children who were both diagnosed years prior and it took almost two years of me asking him to see someone after it dawned on me that he was most likely ADD as well.

Somehow, he still believes that I should just trust whole heartedly and that his "working" on it and his "trying" to get better and how things are "getting better" is supposed to magically erase the previous years of neglect and abuse (some of the things some ADD'er do to compensate that are abusive either mentally, emotionally, verbally).  I'm also supposed to jump for joy because he can take a pill each day that helps him at work, but does nothing to help with the problems at home.

You seemed truly committed to repairing your relationship with your wife.  I admit I am new to this board and haven't read everything.  My question is, what made you decide to change and how is that going for you?  I don't see a lot of change in my husband or my children (I see them imitating him more than trying to improve), the medication seems to help some for a short period they all can seem to focus for about two hours on extended release formulas, but they all struggle.  

My husband talks a good game, is so apologetic, and is going to work harder.  It's been almost two years and I still don't see much change and I really don't have it in me to continue to be his cheerleader and to keep hoping for the best.  There are a few things that aren't as bad, but as a whole I see someone who really hasn't changed a lot.  I don't have ADD so I really have no clue how long it takes, what needs to be done, how difficult it is to change, etc...   




I am an ADHD wife. I read these posts, and feel sorry for BOTH parties. The one word I want everyone to think about: ACCEPTANCE. No one is perfect, no one!! I know I have made mistakes, bad choices, etc........I have been on meds 4 years now, and I can STILL do NOTHING RIGHT!! Husband said we needed to "see someone who deals with ADHD", but once there, only went twice. So, I tried. BTW.....he was talking to a single female without my knowledge because she "listens" to him. Yeah, I listen, but not the way you WANT me too. I can't change who I am, I can only change my behaviors. I filed for divorce, because I need someone who accepts me for ME, not what he thinks I SHOULD be. Non-ADHD ers may think this is me being an ADHD-ER. Ok, well, I take responsibility in my contribution to the demise of this marriage.......but not ALL BLAME!!! Period. I hope he finds someone he can accept, and hope he finds the happiness he so craves. Good luck to all on here. I will leave you with something I came up with: "Amazing people beget Amazing Masterpieces".  :)

Want to save your marriage here is how!

From a girl who is in love with a man with ADHD and has given up herself the only thing,after years of hurt, that would make me turn back in hope, would be understanding and change. As i am sure you already learned a non AdHd spouse stops believing words that come from someone with ADHD. Because everything usually ends up being all talk and no action. No compromise, not hearing the non adhd's hurt. This over many years makes us numb and thus the wall. If you want to save your marriage you are looking at a life change starting now and no excuses or failure! Tell her what you have learned in detail. Detail is important!!! Tell her what you did and explain to her how that destroyed you both as partners. If you have a hard time with it think to yourself how would I feel if someone ignored what I needed for years! Try to think back to some long standing complaints and address them. Research each one in order to be able to comprehend them on a level that your brain is not allowing you to get. This site is good for that. I know you have been hurt to and you have to put that aside for a year. Tell her everything! Dont make it a 15 minute talk because after 15 years that will not be enough! Look at an hour of telling her without excuses or blame on how you let her down ADHD or not. Be prepared for her not to believe you! But the details of you finally understanding will spark interest trust me. She needs you to understand what u did because unless you understand you cant change. And it needs to be in detail because i am sure she has just heard the words "i understand how you feel" when really you had no clue. Next and most important you need to follow through and this is where ADHD people fail all the time! Make lists and put them around the house to remind you to do things. Take up more chores without being asked and do them! You have to do it! Offer to make dinner or do the laundry when it needs it withoutbeing asked. this will really shock the crap out of her! These are not going to be things you do for awhile till she comes back and then stop because that wall will go right back up quickly! Set alerts on your phone and follow it without fail! Trust e no one like to do chores ADHD or not! So do more so she doesn't have to do so much of what she dislikes too. We do chores because we have to if no one else does them. And if someone is not pulling there weight then resentment builds and we think to ourselves why do i have to work so hard and he doesn't! If my ADHD man would come at me with real understanding and noticeable change I would not trust it at first but I would eventually come back. Expect a year! Listen and write down what she says and research it if you have to. Accept what she says as true even if you don't understand it if she says she feels alone that is how she feels! Ask her what she needs from you and be honest. If she needs to feel that you are in the relationship then schedule time on your phone. From 6 to 8 pm every night i am going to put my phone in a drawer and just hang out with my wife. Even if its sitting across the room watching TV with her. Don't rush this. Dont just one day start talking and talking because this will annoy her. After 15 years of hurt you are on a thin line. Make every Saturday a day you take her to a new restaurant. Something anything to show her that u want to be present now. She will keep her wall up for awhile and you will think that nothing is working after months of trying but it is...she is just preparing herself for the let down. If it never comes then she will eventually come back to you. After you feel you both are on better ground then ask if she would go to counseling so you guys learn how to talk to each other. She will. She still loves you or she would not still be in a home with you. No one hangs on to that much misery if there was not love. I would come backk too my ex gladly if he made these changes! I would need a real sense that he understands that he was not getting it! He was not hearing me and he was not following thru and two, i would need to see change without me asking. 


Example, walk up and tell her you would like to be in charge of doing dishes everyday. And do her mouth fall open! Lol typed from my phone so sorry for the rough writing.