Hi everyone: Don't know where to start but I'll do my best to keep the backstory short. I'm non-ADHD spouse in 7th year of marriage. I married him for all the wrong reasons. The co-dependant, low self esteem part of my fell in love with the the over the top 2 year courtship never stopping once to think that anything was wrong. Yes, he played some video games. Yes, he had trouble keeping things organized but I was there to help him with all of that and the level of adoration, commitment, love, sex, romance that I got in return seemed like a great payoff. Got married, got pregnant within weeks (I was 38) and had a baby all in one year. He literally shut down on our honeymoon. He slept for most of the first two days and pouted the next 3. I had no clue what was happening. He has been in shut down mode ever sense. Was diagnosed with ADHD and depression our 3rd year in. He took his pills and thought all was great because he could focus better. I would nag, rant, rave, beg, plead for him to spend time with me and do family things but he was into his video game (World of Warcraft) and addicted to porn, etc. We have sex about twice a year now...if that. 3 years ago this Valentines day, I had had enough. I told him that I wanted out and moved out, with my daughter, to my parents. He went into a tail spin, ended up in a psych unit and then when he came out, found a new love interest and started having an affair. All the time, my 3 year old was MISERABLE. My mother was telling me that I was making the wrong move and I listened to my child cry for her father every night. It was three months of hell. Finally, I decided I had to go back, by then he wanted out to be with this woman and started divorce proceedings. We pulled it out of the fire and we've been on cruise control ever sense. We were going regularly to see an ADHD coach together (me to additional private sessions). Things started to feel better. Not a lot had changed but it helped me understand what was going on. He stopped wanting to go about 9 months ago and we've been in a steady decline ever sense. I've stayed in this marriage to provide one world for my child. It's very, very low conflict in that we don't fight, bicker, argue...EVER. The house is calm. I thought calm was all that was needed. I thought I could make up for the rest of the attention she wasnt' getting from him. Two days ago my daughter actually said to him "Don't yell at me, you're always playing THE GAME, what do you care". His answer was "I'm not always on the game". She emphatically said "YES, YOU ARE". Truth is, if he's not playing the game from the time he gets home 3pm until 10pm at night, he's obsessing over building RC cars. All of this happens downstairs completely away from us. Most days I don't even get a hello when I come home from work. Yesterday, on the way to a playdate, my daughter asked why I was driving and not Daddy and I told he was at work and I joked and said "Hey, what am I chopped liver?". She said, "No, no momma. It's just that you're ALWAYS with me. I just get disappointed that I don't see Daddy." She paused and said "Ya know, it's like you guys are divorced. You just live in the same house and aren't mad at each other". I was speachless. THIS is what I've been teaching her. This is what my mom taught me. Well, it ends with me. I won't do this anymore. I'm worth more and so is my daugther. I mentioned it to my husband and he had no comments. I prompted him for one and he said "Well, she's 6, what does she know". And with that....I"M DONE. I have a lot of work dto do between now and leaving but I'm starting the work right now. I'll be going to a CODA meeting next week, I'm going to get to a therapist to only work on myself (don't working on him or marriage issues). The bottom line is that I know he's here, that he would prefer to stay married, he holds a job, and he fully admitts he has ADHD and takes meds and all....but it's not enough. He says he sees how it affects us but he's just simply unable or unwilling to put in the work it would take to make this better. I acknowlege that 50% of this is me also. I'm codependant to the core, I am addicted to food (i go to OA meetings to deal with that), I have self esteem issues and I'm a horrible speller (sorry, moment of levity). I take 100% accountability for my 50%. I deserve someone who takes accountability for there "stuff" too. My daughter doesn't deserve to have a dad in the house that isn't present. I used to think that just being here was good enough but now I see that we are doing more damage than good. I'm going to set up a meeting with out ADHD coach/marriage counselor to talk about the end. If he chooses to step up, great. But as it stands right now, I'm going to make my life with him or without him. This is about me and my daughter. Nothing has been about me in a very, very long time. I just have to stay on the path to get help for my issues. If I don't, I will be stuck in this patteren forever and my daughter will marry a man just like this....JUST LIKE I MARRIED A MAN JUST LIKE MY DAD. Like I said, it ends with me. One thing that I do need advice on....how do I stop doing all the things I used to do for him. If i don't do the money/bills, he will ruin us. Even with me in control, he manage to spend $650 on RC car parts this month. He spent his bonus at work instead of giving it to the household account like he said. So, unless I want to lose the house and car, I have to do that for him. So do I only buy enough groceries for Victoria and I? Do I just not cook for him or do his laundry or remind him he has to refill his pills, or to set his alarm to get up in the morning. Or that he hasn't eaten cuz he's been on the game for 12 hours? Is THAT the type of stuff that I'm supposed to detach from? Thanks for listening!!! Sorry it was so long. Gina B

You need to cut the apron

You need to cut the apron strings. Do not live in the same house, close every account that has both your names on them, do not do ANYTHING for him. If he is ever going to change, he needs to make that decision. He may need to hit rock bottom. Chances are he will simply find another codependent woman to pick up where you left off. Show your daughter what a strong woman looks like. Stop enabling him, no matter how hard it is. Good luck, I know it's not easy.


While I pretty much agree with Waterfall, I just want to ask...what medication is he taking, and has it EVER done him any good?  He may need something as simple as a dosage adjustment or a different medication all together.

This is a good question. It

This is a good question. It can take a long time and many trips to the doctors office to get the right medication/dose. My ADHD husband has had trouble with the follow through and the follow ups required to get the right medication, so he just gave up. How do you get someone who can't focus to focus on getting the right medication? That said, at a certain point you have to stop taking care of a person who refuses to take care of themselves. ADHDers are exhausting!


First of all, I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. Marriage, family, children, home life are the most important things (in my view) and it's devastating when it's not working out. A little back ground on me, I unknowingly married a severe ADHDer (he was just diagnosed 7 months ago). We have been reading Melissa's book, we are both taking the relationship course she offers, we are both in individual counseling, and in marriage counseling, he wants to change (but is having trouble with the follow through), and overall we both want to stay together. I am VERY lucky in that he recognizes some of the impact his symptoms have on our relationship, and truly wants to change.

I want to commend you on something no one may have said to you yet, and that is that you've made the best decisions you could AT THE TIME with the information you had within the situation. In Melissa's book and course, she talks about how you need to give yourself kudos for doing what you thought was best at the time, and not beating yourself up later thinking you could have/should have done something differently. This concept has been a TREMENDOUS help for my outlook on my own situation. I KNOW I made the best decisions I could at the time - I mean how many of us in the middle of a tough situation say, "Hhhhmmm, I think I will make the WRONG decision now...." ? So please give that little gift to yourself, and know that you did the best you could.

Something else that struck me about your post was the fact that your mother mentioned that you were making the Wrong Decision when you left him the first time. I don't know the details of your family of origin life, and I stand by my kudos to you regarding making the best decision you could at the time - and at the same time, I just want to caution you about taking/acting on other family members advice in the future. I caution you because I see this a lot in these dynamics regarding ADHD. I see that the extended family are often totally unaware of how the ADHD impacted couple really ARE together. Often they are getting the "We're fine" from both of you, and often at the same time, the ADHDer is telling the family, "She's mean, she's always harping me to do this, that and the other, if she would just be nice to me, we'd be doing better, etc." So, often the moms/dads/mothers-in-law/fathers-in-law see a VERY skewed picture of what's going on. Unless you are telling them, they don't see the severe impact his symptoms are having on you and your family. They're not seeing the resentment about things left undone, or the amount of time you're ignored, or the sadness of feeling like the video games mean more to him than you and your daughter, etc. I could go on and on. Often times our mothers are saying "You need to stay and try to work it out for the benefit of the family, and staying together is always the best thing, especially for the children" or something to that effect. However, I think if they saw the REAL picture, they would not be saying that.

I am the kind of person that will never give advice either way about a situation that you're asking for help on, because ultimately you need to be the one to make the decision. It only gets confusing when you're told "Leave him, shut down the bank accounts, ignore him, etc" then the next minute someone else says "Stay with him, try to work it out, etc." It seems from your post that you've already decided to divorce him, and you're asking for help on how to Not Do Things For Him. All I can offer is that giving up control is one of the most important things that we (as nonADHD spouses) can do - whether or not you stay together.

The concept of really giving up control is a VERY difficult one, that most of us on this site struggle with, but are trying SO hard to do, and some of us have had success. Living for yourself, only controlling what YOU do, making YOURSELF happy, will give you the most peace and relief you will probably ever find in this situation. I say this because I have done it - not perfectly, but I'm about 95% there. Once you've completely given up Control, the little details like who does the groceries, the cooking, reminding him about the pills, etc will fall into place on it's own. I know it's a hard thing to visualize, and I'm sorry I can't explain it any better than that. However, you will KNOW when it starts happening. Once you have truly LET GO of Control, you will see how easy it is to make those decisions in the moment - i.e. "Right now I would be reminding him to set his alarm, but since I've let go of Control, I'm simply not going to say anything." Then you couple that with something nice you do for yourself and your daughter - i.e. go get a fat-free coffee for you, hot chocolate for her - then take a walk in the park. Or go play a game together, or go see a movie, etc. It doesn't sound like you have trouble spending time with your daughter, but my point is once you start trying to give up Control, it is essential that you positively reward yourself for doing so.

Congratulations on taking control of what you can - yourself. Going to counseling, OA meetings, CODA, etc. Taking responsibility for yourself is the biggest key. Now, like I said above, if you could just work that concept into NOT doing things for him by starting with a small step (like the alarm clock thing) you will start to see that it just gets easier.

Please keep us posted on your progress.

Thank you all...

Your comments were all great and I'm so appreciative. It's so nice to know that I can come here and people understand. I just want to address a few questions that some have asked. Someone asked about the medication and this has been an ongoing issue. He has been on med’s (fairly consistently) for the past 4 years. At first he was only on Adderall XR. He was able to focus at work and it was a big help in that area. I don’t believe the psychiatrist who put him on the Adderall really knew meds like some Psych’s do. I’m learning more and more as time goes on that no two Psych’s are the same. For the past few months, on the recommendation of our ADHD coach, he has been going to a Psychopharmacologist and she is one of the best in the Northeast. We no longer see the ADHD coach because my husband feels he no longer needs to go and it took several months for him to seek out the med Dr. and get on new meds. He is now on a combo of Vyvance, Wellbutrin and Cilexa (sorry if I spelled those wrong). He has always been a gamer. There was a time over the this past summer when he hardly gamed at all. He was outside in his workshop until all hours. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s always something. Computers, RC cars, out tinkering in his shop….there is always a focus that has him away from his family. He’s also attached to his phone 24/7. Even when we are at a restaurant. He can’t just sit there and chat. Unless he is leading the discussion or the discussion is something that interests him. I have tried only doing things he likes to do so that we spend time but it’s hard ONLY doing what the other person wants to do. One would hope that at least a few things would be what I want to do. When approached with any of this he acts very defensive. And, let me add that I know how to approach him. I follow all the rules my ADHD coach taught us. I do my best to understand that he doesn’t want to be this way, that he is hard wired this way and that this is a disability like any other and I need more understanding than the average bear. BUT, what I cannot accept is it being used as an excuse. This is very hard, harder than I ever imagines, but I’m here and trying and willing to do the work. He may be willing to do the work but the work just never gets done. I feel that there is a conflict going on in him. He really doesn’t see anything wrong with himself in some sense. The issue is that I have the issue. The other side of that is there are times when he tells me that he wants to be different and wants a different life for himself and for our marriage. There is a gap as wide as the sea between those two things….wanting change and not wanting change. I do understand to the core of my being how this can be. I’m overweight. I will cry about not fitting into an outfit but then sooth myself with ice cream. That’s insane! But I admit and know it’s insane so I’m working very hard at trying to do something about it because I see that my addiction effects both me and others in tremendous ways. I’m taking accountability for it. I believe it’s my self loathing due to my weight that keeps me tethered to a relationship dynamic that isn’t healthy. This is why I have to break free. I know it won’t be today or tomorrow…and that’s ok….but if serious change isn’t going to happen on his part, something has to give. I know many say that if I change that may be enough to break the toxic cycle and my change will lead the change in him. I can only pray that happens. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it for me first and because I need to be a strong role model for my daughter. If a change in him is a byproduct of this …then that’s just gluten free/wheat free topping on the veggies. (he he…levity once again). Thanks to all of you who are helping me though this. I’m going to be checking in here often. Also, I’d love to hear from the ADHD crowd. My husband is unable to express himself to me or anyone. It would be great to hear from someone that might share the same experience from his side of the fence. I love him very much. This is the hardest thing I have ever done….EVER.

Appointment with ADHD coach set. Last attempt....

Please weigh in on this. It's probably to long. Created a letter of sorts to give to husband during our counseling session. It's my thoughts mixed with Melissa's "Care and Feeding of Non-ADD Spouse". How does it sound??? Dear Husband: I am struggling to keep myself above water in this relationship. I have some very deep emotional wounds and baggage that have contributed to issues within our marriage. I’m working hard to fix them and become a whole person that doesn’t need another person’s validation to make me feel “ok”. That said, being in a relationship with someone with ADHD and a person who is so emotionally closed down and angry makes this process of self renewal more difficult. I would love to say that I’m going to get to a place where what you do/say, don’t do/don’t say will never affect me because I’m so grounded in self love…but….I don’t think any human being is that self- actualized. I am your wife and you’re my husband. I love you and desire you as my lover, my friend and my partner. You matter to me and what you do in our relationship and how you regard me matters. In it’s current state, I cannot remain in this relationship and be the mother I need to be to our child. She is watching the toxic dynamic we play out every day. I have done everything I know how to stay in this marriage so that I can preserve her family. After her comment the other day about her feeling like we are divorced…I’ve realized the damage it's causing her. I am not perfect and I take 100% responsibility for my 50% in this marriage and the issues in it. I promise you and I’m committed to making changes within myself. My food addiction and my co-dependency are the top priorities. I’m working on getting a local therapist and working on these issues along with going to CoDA meeting and OA meetings twice per week. I know that I’m angry a lot. I hate feeling angry all the time. It’s starting to really make me dislike myself, in fact. I understand why I feel angry – our relationship isn’t going in the direction I thought it would. You’re probably angry about this, too. I badly want to work through my anger – and to have you admit, and work through – yours. (Mom/Dad/Family of origin issues) This will take some behavior changes on both sides…and perhaps some professional help, but let’s make it a mutual goal to work through it – for our (non-angry and potentially wonderful) future. A good first step will be for me to learn how to accept my past anger, forgive myself, and move on. Would you consider doing this, too? I want to have fun! What happened to the days when we loved spending time together? Our life is too serious and angry right now. Let’s schedule some fun stuff together (and get a sitter if we need to). The crazier, and the further away from our everyday lives, the better! Today I am asking you to make a solid, committed attempt at changing your behaviors that stem from your ADHD. The effect they are having on me and our family are profound. 1. No Sex, little intimacy or affection has made me feel very unloved, unwanted and rejected as a wife and as a woman. I want you to want me: We’re having some problems right now, but I really long for the days when sex was fun, and exciting, and I felt loved and safe with you. I want you to want me sexually, and when we get rid of some of the anger, and I feel more confident that you can show me you love me, can we smooth things out sexually? I really want that. Maybe we can start with smaller signs of affection? 2. When you over spend or are irresponsible with money it makes me feel that I can’t trust you and can’t rely on you or depend on you. I feel an immense burden for our family’s financial stability. I would like you to work with me to develop a plan so that I don’t have to “parent” the financial issue and you still feel like you have control too. You are such a hard worker and I've done everything I can to advance in my job..we deserve to live better than paycheck to paycheck. With work we can make that a reality. 3. When you get distracted by just about everything but me, it’s hard to keep thinking I’m one of your priorities. Why should a car, or a computer, or a game be more important than me? If I had wanted to be completely ignored, I wouldn’t have gotten married. As hard as I try to not take this personally, sometimes I just can’t. I need some time, every week, when you are focused on just me – nothing else. I also need you to address your gaming/computer addiction. Your effort to do this will tell me that you do love me, and will make me feel so much better and happier! Let’s take some time right now and schedule some time together. 4. I’m working really hard at this relationship, but feel so sad and frustrated because it doesn’t feel to me like you are too. I need attention, and one form of attention is having you take my needs seriously enough to show an effort in my direction. I want to be happy and not so angry all the time but it’s hard to keep always trying without seeing anything in return. Can we agree on one thing that you’ll work on for me and make a plan for how that will happen? Then I’ll feel happier, which will make me be happier, which will benefit us both. 5. It makes me very sad to see our daughter cry because you don’t spend time with her or with us as a family. Can we try to plan on at least 2 periods of family time each week? One during the week and one on the weekends? 6. The clutter, mess, clutter and junky appearance of our back yard makes me feel sad and very depressed. This is one of our most hot button items. Can we please make a firm plan that is adheard to that allows you to have your projects but also leaves the yard looking green and pretty? When you discount my need for order, organization, grass and landscaping, it makes me feel unloved, unvalued and as if I don’t matter. I’m not looking for perfection because I’m far from perfect. I just need a plan and I need commitment on your part. Although I’m not advocating for us to get a divorce, if I’m not seeing a true effort, that you are committed to change by actually acting and finding help for these issues, I have no choice but to emotionally detach from the toxic cycle we’ve been in. I love you and I am also trying to learn to love myself enough to stand up for myself when I’m not being shown the respect and love I’m worthy of. At that point we will need to do the best we can to find a solution that allows both our spirits to thrive with our first concern and thought being our child. I’m not sure yet what that will look like. I’m not sure if that means we both live in different parts of the house or split checking accounts. All I know is that it cannot continue like this and only an honest and true attempt from you will sway me from my course of saving myself and detaching from you. Please know that I’m praying every day that we will make it through this. You are the love of my life and I want nothing more than for us to be the best we can be for our daughter, for each other and for ourselves.

I think you make great points

I think you make great points and that you do so respectfully.  That said, the letter is kind of long.  Can you shorten it? 

This is as honest as I can be.....

I've just paired down my letter. It's a 1/4 of what it was. I cut out all the stuff about sex and most of the stuff about me entirely and focused on the yard, my daughter, and us as a family. I did it all while I heard the bombing from our basement of his most recent conquest on Skyrim (a video game). I'm sitting here re-reading and I'm crying and in sooo much pain. See, I KNOW he has the capacity for change. It's not because I know that ADHD isn't some terminal death sentance of the psyche...it's because we all have the capacity. And, in truth, he's done some things that constitute as change. Mostly in reference to setting alarms to not forget to pick up daughter and taking meds more regularly. I'm just so scared to ask him for anything concerning me because I don't think he wants to make the effort that it's going to take. It's been suggested by our ADHD coach that he stop gaming alltogether...he is addicted..Point blank and he needs treatment. His ex asked him to stop gaming and he divorced her. Just shut down and divorced her. Who am I to think that I have anything more and that our bond is any stronger. I don't know if I can take him looking at me and saying "I know you want sex, want me to spend more time with you...but...I can't, I won't...the compulsion to do somethng else is just too strong and I won't try to learn anything that will change that". I don't know if my fragile new found strenght that is still clinging to my ragged self esteeem can handle it. He said in therapy once that the work was just too hard. That he didn't want to do the work because it's just to hard. He just wants, instead, for me to accept him..as is. So what do I do? Not ask for what I need because I fear the answer or just ask for what I think he may be willing to deliver at least for the sake of our daughter. OMG...I'm so tired and I'm just so sad and I can't watch my daugther cry over him one more minute and I can't be a single-married parent. I'm just soooo sad......how is this my life? Why didn't I see this before we married? How can I save this family for my daughter and still save myself? Thanks for listening...Gina B