Join the Conversation Around ADHD Marriage and Anger

Every once in a while there is a forum discussion happening that is so relevant for so many readers that I note it in my blog and direct people to it.  We have one going on right now about anger and grief that I think is worth your time to read.  And I’ll add a few of my thoughts here:

Anger doesn’t help you or protect you.  Sherri is right when she says anger doesn’t protect you.  In fact, she doesn’t go far enough.  Anger not only doesn’t protect you, it hurts you.  The anger of a non-ADHD spouse is one common reason that a partner with ADHD says “I don’t need to pay attention to what you are saying – you are just angry!”  Put another way, the most common forms of denial that I see in ADHD relationships are the dual denial of “If he/she would only fix his/her ADHD then everything would be fine” balanced by “If he/she would only be nice to me, then everything would be fine.”  Anger justifies continuing to blame your partner.

Anger and grief about your past.  It is not fun to find out about ADHD as an adult or spouse and look back and say “if we had only known 10 years ago…!”  Part of your recovery as a person and as spouses will be to grieve over the fact that you didn’t know sooner.  But you didn’t – you did the best you could do at the time with what you knew (which didn’t include info about ADHD and your relationship).  Where you came out may not look pretty right now, but that doesn’t mean that your future has to look like your past.  I encourage couples to grieve for their past and then look to what their new knowledge can do to help them change their future.

Anger and hopelessness are connected.  It takes a HUGE amount of energy to stay angry…and it impacts every interaction that the two of you have – making them all harder to deal with (thus taking even more energy!).  When you eventually run out of energy from being angry all the time hopelessness will follow.  “I just don’t have any more in me…” is the common refrain.  Put aside your anger by stepping out of the cycle of anger (see Harriet Lerner’s book, The Dance of Anger for more on this) and you will have more energy.  Plus, focusing on creating positives in your future is a whole lot more interesting and energizing than focusing on your anger or on all of the bad things coming your way.

Anger and change in the ADHD partner.  The more angry a non-ADHD partner is, the less likely is the chance of real, long-term change in the ADHD partner.  Period.  No exceptions.  You simply CAN’T get a person with ADHD to make long-term, positive changes with anger.  Those changes have to come from within that person and if they are only trying to respond to your anger (and please you) then you set yourselves up for one of the worst patterns out there – parent/child dynamics.  You create a “demand” (with your anger or response) and the ADHD partner tries to respond.  Later, the ADHD tries to “anticipate” your demand, but most often this doesn’t work, and it sets up a huge amount of resentment in the relationship.  (The resentment on the part of the ADHD partner is that he/she has to always be trying to anticipate your responses – and often doesn’t successfully do so, so it turns into a lose/lose.  The resentment on the part of the non-ADHD partner is that the ADHD partner doesn’t seem to “get it” even though the non-ADHD partner thinks they’ve made their opinions or needs clear.)

“Everything is fine if I just shut up” is a resentful refrain I hear from many non-ADHD partners.  Let me talk briefly about the biology behind this – remember the two ADHD time zone, “now and not now”?  (see blog post on now and not now here).  If the pressure is off, then the conflict in question moves into the “not now” – so retreating from conflict actually feels pretty good for the ADHD partner.  However, it doesn’t solve the underlying issues, so the source of the conflict remains.  ADHD partners do better when they engage constructively (which means in a safe environment for you both – i.e. no anger).  “Just shutting up” doesn’t work for either of you.  But neither does being angry.  Instead, choose learning conversations (see my book), working with a therapist who understands ADHD in couples, or making an agreement to conversational rules that keeps each of you from hijacking the conversation with defensiveness or anger.

There is more, but I’ve talked enough here.  Go to the forum conversation called “Update, of sorts” and read the thread about anger etc.  (The forum topic goes into other things, as well, but you can skim to find the parts you think are interesting.)  Add your own thoughts, too...


sapphyre's picture

Please read Harriet Lerner's book The Dance of Anger

The only reason I read this book was because Melissa had recommended it on this site (and I was desperate to change the way I related to my ADHD husband).

It dramatically changed the way I interacted with my husband.

Good luck all.

I cant seem to get past the

I cant seem to get past the first chapter... It made me see that i did dumb my self down, i kept everything inside to not make any waves and lost me... Just made me more mad at me... How did it end? I would like a reason to try to finish it.
sapphyre's picture

Read on...

Hi Pjloops

If a book is that confronting to me, I want to keep reading it to find out more... By the end of the book, I wasn't mad at myself... is that a good reason? {hugs}

Why don't you have a look at the book on the Amazon website - and see what others have thought (scroll down to Customer Reviews)


I it. It can

I it. It can help with many of your interactions with many people. It gives solid ideas and ways to break the cycle. Great read!


"lost me," you said!

That is it exactly;  I feel like I've been erased;  or that I'm getting erased;   I've grown into this resentful brat.

Just remembering "me" when you get drinks for everyone seems to be too big a job for him.

remembering is a non entity

Glad to find this site.



Anger and change in the ADHD partner

Melissa I need your help and advice with how to get out of the deep anger, frustration, hurt between two spouses .  What to do when a husband (me diagnosed 12 years ago) and wife have become so angry and upset and hurt that frustration have crippled both.  I was diagnosed years ago (ADHD) and I believe my wife may have ADD the signs are there however she has never been tested.  We have the same story you discuss in your book.  Courtship, Marriage very passionate, fun we would go out with friends, movies, parties and my wife would not leave my side.  At one point early on I did everything!  I cooked, I cleaned, bills, food shopping.  All in efforts to please her and keep her happy.  She had a very rough childhood and I felt she had enough pain in her life already I want everything to be perfect for her from here on out.  I made it so that was MY job and I fear now that may have been the wrong thing to do.  Intimacy was never an issue however after a few years things cooled down and everything came to a halt after my son was born.  Suddenly I was not a husband anymore I was a helper of sorts, a paycheck.  I loved being a husband and now a father however I started to loose myself.  I would question myself "Is this what marriage has come to now."  No connection, no intimacy only bickering.  She never missed what we had never showed signs, it was our son 24/7.  He slept in our bed until he was 4 and then our daughter came along and she was in with us until she was 3.  Seven years with a child in our bed EVERY night.  She never ever seemed to miss US, she always wrote it off as "this is what happens" when you ahve kids.  I NEVER saw it that way.  I husband and wife need to show their kids they are happy and in love with each other.  Family friends offered to watch the children if only for a few hours and even on the occasion that we took them up on it she could never relax.  Going out with me was like a chore she had to do.  It was like she gave up and said OK.  Even anniversary dinners hard for her to take.  Like a typical ADHD person I suffer from self esteem issues so when the intimacy came to a stop and suddenly becoming a room mate and not an equal partner.  I understand having children will change that however on a scale from one to ten, Ten the first few years of marriage and to suddenly drop to a one and sometimes zero.  I became completely confused and went into a downward spiral.  Combined with that I was constantly reminded by my spouse that just about everything I did was never enough or wrong!  If I brought one wrong item home from the store (from a list of 20) I was an idiot.  She may not have said those words however the look in her eyes and the disappointment and anger told the story. 

Melissa I am sorry to go on like this however this is the first Blog or Forum I have ever written to and I am a bit nervous.  I read your book and I believe it may be able to save our marriage.  I also already feel better getting some of this pent up anger/emotion out.  As a matter of fact my hands are shaking a bit as I am writing this. 

I love my wife more then anything however I fear that her anger and disappointment in me may be too much for her to overcome.  In desperation I would look for any sign from her to pick me up (from reading your book I understand why now) help me feel better about myself.  Unfortunately all that would be returned is anger and resentment ( I also understand why now).  For years following the birth of my first child I would see her daily disappointment in me.  Comments about my work ethic, how I should be doing more and constant comparisons to other people in my profession.  Here is my wife my partner the person I love more then anything in the world (besides children of course) telling me how to do my job BETTER.  Another blow to the self esteem.  My hair is getting gray another blow, I am too short another blow, If I lost weight it never seemed to be enough, my teeth are not white enough (she will by me white strips as a reminder), my teeth are not straight enough another blow.  You did not do the laundry right, I could go on and on.  Comments about fatherhood and her being afraid my ADHD may endanger them somehow.  I am paralyzed. I can not get out of my own way.  Does she have any idea what this does to a person?  I have never been able to truly 'Love" my self and when I look back on the years of this treatment I can see why.  Everyday I wake up waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I walk on eggshells ready for the next blow up.  How do I deal with this.  Because of my ADHD I have not been able to find a way to communicate this hurt and pain to her.  When I attempt to she just tells me she is not responsible for my happiness.  I agree 100% now, and I have allowed her to be my worst enemy.  All of the negative has made me question who I am and I have allowed her to make me feel like a "bad" person when I know I am not.  My confusion comes in why has she been trying so hard to change me?  Why did she marry me if I was not tall enough, my teeth were not white or straight enough, I was not skinny enough?  

Melissa sorry again I was afraid this might happen I am having trouble stopping.  There is so much more to us that I could go on.

I am very angry and resentful of how this has affected our children and how I have not been able to do anything to stop or change it.  I come from a family that love each other and greet each other with a hug and a peck on the cheek.  All my children have seen from my wife and I is minimal.  I am not one for making out in public however they learn from what hey see.  Because of all the anger and frustration my wife finds it hard to even say good morning.  Barely a kiss hello or goodbye I am told "if you want one come get one".  Because of this is is a chore to get a kiss good morning or goodnight from her either.  When I do get a kiss it feels forced.  I am so sad, I have not felt any love from her for what seems like years.  She has not told me she loves me unless prompted.  This anger has paralyzed us.  Lately at night my ADHD brain will not shut down and it is all I think about.   

Here are my questions: How do I not take all the pain from the comments away?  Everyday I wake up I look in the mirror and all I see is that I am not tall enough, my teeth are not white or straight enough, I am not skinny enough, I could be more successful if I was like the people my wife used to work with and on and on.  How do I NOT let that effect me?  How do I find me again and not let her hurt me anymore?  Every morning I wake up feeling more of a failure then the day before. 

Melissa you wrote above that " The more angry a non-ADHD partner is, the less likely is the chance of real, long-term change in the ADHD partner.  Period.  No exceptions.  You simply CAN’T get a person with ADHD to make long-term, positive changes with anger.  Those changes have to come from within that person and if they are only trying to respond to your anger (and please you) then you set yourselves up for one of the worst patterns out there – parent/child dynamics.  You create a “demand” (with your anger or response) and the ADHD partner tries to respond.  Later, the ADHD tries to “anticipate” your demand, but most often this doesn’t work, and it sets up a huge amount of resentment in the relationship.  (The resentment on the part of the ADHD partner is that he/she has to always be trying to anticipate your responses – and often doesn’t successfully do so, so it turns into a lose/lose.  The resentment on the part of the non-ADHD partner is that the ADHD partner doesn’t seem to “get it” even though the non-ADHD partner thinks they’ve made their opinions or needs clear.)"

With that statement you just summed up the last 10 years of our marriage.  When I read what you wrote it gave me chills.  

Last note:  Please understand my wife is wonderful mother and a really good person with a huge heart.   I feel the combination of years of my ADHD and maybe a touch of ADD or postpartum has facilitated this huge downward spiral.  We are both responsible and it is not because we want to be bad people it is because we did not have any idea how to deal with the hand God has dealt us.  I just pray it is not too late. 



I cant help but shed a light on something here

I read and appreciate your reaching out for help and i will not get in your way. I am thrilled that you are here. I would like to add a piece to your puzzle though. Please think about the first 11 years of your marriage and the every single day involvement/entanglement with your female BFF. Who did you listen to more? Whos advice did you take? Who felt like a 3rd wheel in their own marriage.... There is your disconnect, and there is a huge answer on feeling alone and terrible for the first 11 years. (this has been addressed and fixed) Also, the only reason personal details about appearance were mentioned, and never harped on, was because those were things that you talked about. You also asked why this was never pointed out to you.(remember the professional work photo) i would never use that against a person. things were purchased only after asking if you would like for them to be purchased to help you feel better about yourself. I agree this is a tough spot, but there is more to the picture than was painted above. Sorry for invading your space, but i really felt i needed to add piece that would "fit" why a spouse would pull away. If this werent so detailed, i wouldnt have intruded. Sorry.

Myownself - Are You the Spouse?

Are you this poster's spouse?  I'm a little confused by what you posted - is there another woman in this story??  Is the wife the BFF???  Can you clarify a bit, because I would actually like to respond to both posts (assuming you know each other) or to the original poster or...

Hi, yes, i am the spouse. The

Hi, yes, i am the spouse. The bff is his female bff from college and they both had a connection that i was warned about before we were married. He practically lived with her and his brother(her husband) on weekends. They called each other like 15 times a day, they were besties... Her husband had a problem with it while they were dating and she told him that she knew him (my dh) first so he needed to deal with it or basically move on. I think they were married for close to ten years before i met dh. She would be super nice to me in front of everyone and then every now and then would say something or do something to make me see "my place" loud and clear. He always defended her and i always felt like the third wheel. However, i knew going in to the marriage that i might get pushed around for a while until she realized we were married, but that never happened and he never let go... We basically follwed them where ever they went, we did whatever they were doing and we just seemed to be an extention of "their" family instead of being our own family. Also, the girl before me made a big stink about it and was labled "crazy" by her an dh AND his whole family!. When i brought it up he would say: "oh, no! Not you too!" that was not a road i wanted to go down so i just dealt with it. So, finally, after a while, and counseling, he did see the little jabs and understood the deal. She is our relative by marriage, too. We worked it out. But the time we were married up until 3 years ago, i had to deal with it, and i was constantly compared to her, her ideas were "the only way" no matter what or how i felt. We are not faced with that problem any longer as she understands boundaries and he understand boundaries. However, that was extremely hard on me! (the most crushing problems were my babies. the way i did it was wrong because SHE did it differently... We fought every single day and every single feeding! (she nursed 10 min and gave a bottle and i nursed until THEY were done, or i pumped until i felt i was done - 10 months - both children had feeding problems related to acid reflux)). I felt last in my marriage, i felt stupid and i was not "heard". Not to mention dealing with all adhd stuff. and alcohol stuff. Some of the worst arguments were after his drinking! This is now a huge trigger for me. I did the counseling for over ten years trying to bring my best to our marriage. I made a bunch of mistakes by letting my frustration get the best of me, but i tried. I am totally exhausted now, i am wicked mad and i am learning... But not sure my path as of now. I need my independence. He did everything for me, he spoke for me, he made decisions or felt he was allowed to make decisions for me... I could not breathe... Just a constant struggle. I am babbling, but i am not a bad person like i felt he was implying above... I tried as hard as i could.

Does he acknowledge any of

Does he acknowledge any of this? Years of playing second to ANYONE in a marriage can leave scars that are difficult to heal. I know. Only our 'other woman' was my SD and I was treated like a monster and have only once since it all happened gotten an "I know you tried hard and did the best you could, she didn't appreciate it and will just continue to do things her own way" the rest of the time it is "she's my daughter, I will do what I want". She still to this day (moved out over a year ago) talks about me to him in very disrespectful ways and he tolerates it by not defending me. I know that 'role' all too well and NO ONE should EVER come before your spouse. I find it not surprising that he failed to mention any of this in his original post. The entire gist of it (except for maybe the very last little 'I know ADHD has played a part') was that you were just angry with him and not willing to let go of your anger. The blame game is going on hot and heavy here...we're all very familiar with it. Taking a hard hitting look at our own contributions to the downfall of the marriage is where progress starts. He needs to stop saying "she's angry and doesn't accept me because I'm short and have gray hair" and say "why is she so angry and what can I do about it?" and mean it!

You do need to let go of your anger...if you want to remain married to him...and try and start with a clean slate. This is much, much easier if you BOTH are willing to sit down and say "I really should have never done this, I am very sorry, how can I make amends".

Prof Browne's picture

The cycle of blame

Sherri, you are absolutely correct that we are dealing with difficult blame issue here.  The issues involved are not exclusive ADHD although the self-esteem certainly is.  You have to decide seriously if the marriage has a future that both of you are happy to go through, not much will change and the blame will certainly re-appear at regular intervals. 

Anger is so destructive...but

Anger is so destructive...but so damned hard to let go of. This is a great reminder of why we need to..HAVE to...thanks Melissa!

I have tried so hard in yet nothing!!!

My husband has ADHD in i have tried everything, talking to him, counseling to help him understand his anger, and reading her book The effects of ADHD on Marriages. In he say all of the right things but yet nothing, he told me he want to read the book he really does but yet he hasn't even finished the first chapter. It is just disappointing that he has time for fantasy foot ball in drinking beer in other things that interest him but nothing to help our relationship. He say all the right things all the time like, he loves me, that i am the best thing that has ever happened to him in that he couldn't live without me, but when he say these things to me there is a blank look on his face. I never see passion or love or romances in is eye, it's blank nothing! When we have sex it's like he just lays there like its boring for him and hes not into it, he doesnt kiss me tell me sweet things, rubs his hand on my face its just nothing. I have to get him excited ever time we have sex it's not like it use to be where he would be excited just to see my necked body, it nothing anymore in it makes me fell really bad. Makes me feel like i am just the girl he sleeps with in it mean nothing to him. He has no passion, love, romances anymore!!! where did it go? what did i do wrong?? I feel like everything is slipping throw my hands and i have done everything i have in i just keep falling down in getting nowhere!!! I am scared this is the man he is n this is what its going to be!!! Can anyone with ADHD tell me what to do or what is going on please!!!!!!!

Prof Browne's picture

Hi kclelland Can you tell us

Hi kclelland

Can you tell us how long have you been married?  Did you know him for long before you married?  was there a period of time when his reactions to you were 'normal'.  You say you 'are scared this is the man he is..' was he something else before?


 No he was nothing like this before,  we have been together 11 months now and married for two. He used to be the man that i thought never could be true, caring loving , thoughtful, had me so far up on cloud nine felt like the best woman in the world. and don't get me wrong he is still all of those just not as much as he used to be. I don't see the passion and love in his eyes anymore, its blank in some times scary to see. I just don't get it because i think it is me, does he not love me like he used to in is just saying to make me happy that why he say it with a blank look in no passion or love in is eyes? I just beat myself up every day not knowing what he is really thinking...  

courtship hyperfocus

What you describe sounds like a classic courtship hyperfocus followed by the shock of the hyperfocus wearing off.  I talk about this in my book (see pages 35-39).  You should also read the parts about symptom misinterpretation and symptom/response/response as all of these will be relevant for you.  First, don't let your fears/responses make it worse.  What's going on is NOT personal, and it's not a reflection of how he feels about you, even if it feels that way to you right now.  It's the re-ermergence of ADHD symptoms after the dopamine "highs" of infatuation and courtship, which put ADHD at bay.  When he says he loves you, believe it.  Have some gentle conversations with him about how you need to "hear" his love (i.e. being more proactive in the bedroom with you, attending to you in certain ways that make you happy - give him details.)  Just having him "feel" loving isn't the same as his showing you in specific ways that you can "understand."

You describe a man who, it seems, probably has not come to understand how much his ADHD impacts those around him.  He CAN learn about this impact, and also do something about it, so don't despair yet.  But understand that it takes time and some deep conversations.  Consider getting professional help, but if you do, make SURE to find someone who understands ADHD.  (Perhaps my audiobook, when it's ready, will help - many with ADHD don't read much - too hard to stay focused on the page.)





How much time should I wait......

Hi, Melissa

After finding this website, I can't express enough how glad I am. 

You said, "He CAN learn about this impact, and also do something about it, so don't despair yet.  But understand that it takes time and some deep conversations.

But how much of time should I give to my husband who had been diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago but hadn't been on any treatments? 

My spouse is so geared up with his career and doesn't think his ADD doesn't impact on our marriage negatively much. He thinks maybe there could be some issues like time management but not to the extent where it ruins our relationship.  However, for the last two months, he had behavioral problems that he used to have for a long time- i.e. being on drug on a daily basis. He totally shut down himself. He said he was frustrated and angry so much at my inconsistent housework, nagging, complaining and toxic worries.

Then to understand him and myself better, I picked up the book 'Driven to Distraction' and I was crying at some parts because it was describing about myself, which I had no idea how to deal with when I was a teenager. After finishing the book, I had explained him that I needed to go through the assessment and apologized him for it must have been tough to live with another ADD person. 

When I told him that OUR AD/HD need to be fixed up together, he said "YOUR ADD looks more terrible than mine. Do something about it like I do try. Buy an agenda and get the work done. If you show a bit of effort, then we'll consider seeing a couple therapist thereafter. Taking medication is something that takes time for me to accept. Get the assessment and go through the treatments. And you teach me how I can work on my ADD"

Now I feel I have to do well enough to motivate him to see a therapist together or lead him to see a psychiatrist. I feel burdened and it gives me more fear. If I screw up down the road, then I'll blast the chance to get us the professional help.  

 I'm in a hard position... I have to set up my assessment with a doctor, do well to have some hope to see professional help. Before I get the treatment, my work will still be struggling and he might use this as his excuse not to look after his ADD. 

I wonder if it's doable tha two ADD spouses can build up the marriage.


Building Marriage in Steps

Your husband is in denial, which is unfortunate, but common.  Instead of letting fear immobilize you, continue to focus on you and your ADHD.  As you progress through your own treatment you should gain strength, self-confidence and consistency in your successes.  This will help you neutralize your husband's argument that you are the only problem.

As for fearing that you'll run into problems, we ALL run into problems as we try to keep things under control, and those with ADHD run into relatively more problems with consistency and accomplishment simply because of the nature of ADHD (which is nothing if not about inconsistency!)  The thing to fear isn't that you'll make a mistake but rather that the fear of making a mistake will keep you from trying in the first place.

In addition, I would suggest that my couples course and/or book might help your husband confront some of his own issues.  It might make a good baby-step towards counseling and set you both in the same mind-set, as well.  The next session starts in January, 2012.

Building up your marriage takes multiple steps.  You both want to manage your ADHD, which is the step you are currently working on.  You also need to find common ground about what ADHD means for you both (I would suggest this is your next step).  Then you want to focus on re-finding the joy you've lost - getting past angers, fears, etc and moving onto the positives.  I lay out that process in my book.

Best of luck to you both!

Beyond Angry

I am so beyond angry that our marriage has ceased to resemble a marriage. It is two people going through the motions. My children are my concern so I keep telling myself but my thoughts and feelings of abandonment, trust, intimacy and love have left me feeling empty and wanting to feel whole again.  I will give a little history: I met my husband 11 years ago. We dated off and on for about 2 years. During the two years he broke up with me claiming he didn't want to get serious, wasn't ready for a commitment and so on. I remained in the picture however, because I liked the way he made me feel when we were together. It was like he was a light at the end of a long tunnel. He was always very helpful and giving. However, I think I was blinded by my need to fill a void that I thought was missing. I thought I needed a man to complete my life. I was living on my own, had a small child and managing ok so what was missing was intimacy and love. I had blinders on. During those first two years he cheated on me. Giving my the excuse that a female colleague had just come over to watch a movie and spend the night on the couch. He totally explained away the incident and since I couldn't prove it I decide to give him a second chance. But that one incident seriously messed with me. I don't think I gave myself time to really get over it before I plunged back into a now serious relationship with him.  We decided on counseling to help things out. I should note we were just dating and going to counseling. Should have been a red flag, but I felt I could and we could make it though anything. Let me note that I knew he had ADHD, Tourettes and had some chemical dependency issues, but that I never really attributed those symptoms to our marriage until two years after we were married. During the two year prior to our marriage some questionable things took place but he always had an answer for them.  He verbally wasn't very nice. Very condescending to me. After we got married things seemed to go smooth until my daughter entered high school and then we started arguing about her. She is his step daughter. He would say she has no respect for him as he was verbally being condescending to her and I called him on it which only continued to put a wedge in our marriage.  Some of the arguments could have been resolved if we calmly listened to each other and made a decisive decision together but that never happened. We would always argue intensely about it for a day or two and then something clicked and he would say I see your point. It got so bad that I hated telling him something or sharing my concerns because he would get in a very negative mood about her.  After my second daughter and son were born, our marriage started to fade away. There was no time for us, which I understood was typical but he could find time for kids, his friends occasionally and time for whatever was going on at work.  I was always last and when I mentioned and at times complained about it I was a nagging bitch.  During the last three years, our marriage has disintegrated.  A year ago and a half ago, he was planning on taking a trip with the office but everyone started backing out and it ended up that he was going with two female colleaques from his office and his best friend until I saw his phone and asked him about it. His response, will if it was you, I'd let you go. I was shocked and said in response, I will keep that in mind. He ultimately sent the lady a text, now mind you, not his best friend but her, that I cannot put my wife in this position. I must note that I do check his phone and have checked his phone for years. I am always finding questionable things on his phone. But as usual he has a good reason or I just wanted to believe the good reason. He has even gone so far to dismiss his behavior by making me feel like it was my mistrust that was breaking apart our marriage and that he was doing nothing wrong. During this time, we continued to go to numerous counselors, to a program within the Catholic Church and yet he continued to claim that it was all me and that he was doing nothing wrong and he had been trying to work things out.  A year ago he had a female colleague that he totally confided in. He would come home saying she is a lot more peppier than you or I and again I found myself questioning him.  During Christmas last year he made a big fuss right up to the day before because I didn't want to go to a party she was having. So I said ok I would go and then he quickly told me oh well I told her you weren't coming a day ago. I was hurt because he had made a big deal out when he really didn't want me to go at all. During Thanksgiving she sent him a txt talking about how thankful she was to have him in her life. About a year and a half me and his mother found out that he was taking prescription pain meds. He had a history of chemical abuse and was sober for 3 years prior to me meeting him or at least that is what he had portrayed. He still likes to do Marij in the evenings.  Anyway, we thought he stopped the use of the painkiller but 3 months ago, I noticed cash being withdrawn and credit card purchases from cvs and walgreens. I asked him if he was still using and he said no. I also noticed when he would come down off the painkillers and I kept asking but he kept telling me he wasn't and was rude a couple of times telling me I should trust him. But one night he came down hard off of the painkillers and I keep asking throughout the night if he was  ok is there something he wanted to tell me and of course he said no but later that evening he came home and said he had been lying to me for the last 5 months. I know it's been longer.  He of course had a so called good reason which I didn't buy this time and asked him to get help. That we would get help together and he of course said he would do it on his own that's how he's always did it.  I personally don't think he has ever been sober. Just good at the lies and hiding it.  I was sucked in for so long. I told him that if he wanted to continue down this road that he was doing it by himself. I could no longer trust or believe what he said to me. I told him I was only here in this relationship for my kids because they have no idea right now about their dad. They think he is the most caring and fun loving person and I would like to keep that image for as long as I can but in doing so I am only letting him know he hasn't hit rock bottom so no need to hurry and fix things.  He had managed to take what little self-esteem I came into the marriage with and trample it. He has taken my trust and threw it right out the window. He has only shown me he is good at covering his tracks. Image is everything to him. He always wants to seem like the hero or the one whose got the answer or there when you need something but he had overlooked the one person he had built a life with. He has had no problem throwing me under the bus to save his personal image. I am this overly jealous wife who doesn't trust her husband. I have gone to parties and no one really stays long to talk with me or get to know me. So I stopped as of several months ago going to anything work/his friends related.  I am beyond angry, at him and at myself. Him for the obvious and at me for hoping, believing and wishing.   I have slowly over the last year with a counselor we both started with but now I am going to solo, built my self-esteem, I am hopefully going back to work and but my life in order for whatever transpires down the road. Sad to think the amount of love and time you pour into someone cannot make them take an honest look at themselves and change for the better. Only they can take that first step.

This is such a sad post

Your story really saddens me - not so much for all the lying and cheating your husband has done, but for the fact that you went through it, and continued to go through it for quite a while without support or a way of making things better for yourself.  I am so delighted to hear that you are working with a therapist to build yourself back up (keep at it!) and hope that you will find the strength in yourself to move in a healthier direction sometime in the near future.  I'm sure there is more to this story than what you posted, but I rarely feel quite so claustrophobic as I felt (empathy-wise) reading your words.  Everyone needs intimacy and love - but not one that's this corrosive.

I should note that I too at

I should note that I too at first did not handle things as best as I could. Like I said; I never attributed the ADHD to our marriage and was totally oblivious of intermittent drug usage.  I thought he just fell out of love with me because he was finding everything and everyone else more appealing than me and him maybe having extra marital affair or just falling out of love with me was a little easier to understand in some ways than ADHD or Drug Usage.  I am by nature very reserved.  I am also a definite pleaser and I try to avoid conflict whenever possible even if it has meant giving in. When I felt that I was being attacked or backed into a corner, my voice would raise and I would become argumentative. Which lead to intense arguments. Him withholding himself affectionately from me.  For the longest time he knew what to say to push my buttons.  He would even give the excuse to his friends, family that he was working on us and that he was trying things differently. He would try something for a short period and then it was over and things were back to the norm.  Even now that he knows I am just here for the kids he has not even made an attempt to work things out.  Regarding his painkiller usage he gave me the excuse that he is trying something new and I said that's a start because he has no follow though.  He refuses counseling and was for a while taking adderall but stopped. I know it was something to do with our insurance but he never followed though on trying to get them to pay for it.  It required too much effort.   Over the last year, working with my counselor, I have been able to minimize some of those reactions. You are right, I wish I had had a better support system at least where my family was concerned. Although, I am not saying that some of my friends did not warn me that this might not be a productive union, because several did. Love is definitely bind and when reality hits you want to keep the blinders) My family all lives back east but I think it was the way I was brought up which has keep me in this marriage so long.  I constantly ask my mother why she is still with my father (he is verbally abusive to her and condescending and shady. He uses my mother for her resources, money, cooking, and cleaning while he does nothing to help and spends his own money. It has gotten so bad that he has left the house that I grew up in fall in disrepair, and almost foreclosed on and yet she continues to stay.)  I honestly don't think she knows why.  So when my husband and I have had difficulties and issues, she has explained it away and never once has she said leave, just leave. We are here to support you. She has only offered things to excuse the behavior, and to advise that I get active in things and think about me.  I keep telling myself I was not going to end up like my mother but here I am.  I don't want to sound like a pathetic case. I have made the choice to be in this marriage and the moment to stay. Whether or not I have had support or not and even though I gave him the power over me and listened to story after story, I know now that I have the will, the power, and the means to leave at any time. My kids are my focus but with each session of counseling "Me" is starting to mean just as much as the kids. :)

arwen's picture

Anger gets in the way of ADHD thought process

One of the *key* aspects of using anger in dealing with someone who has ADHD is that it doesn't just "not work" -- it's actually *counterproductive*.  For me, anger stimulates my mental activity and makes my thinking sharper.  But for those in my family with ADHD, it's just the opposite.  The emotional turmoil *disrupts* their mental processes so that even the simplest thinking turns irrational or disordered -- and that doesn't benefit anybody.  When you try to change ADHD behaviors with anger, you are actually "shooting yourself in the foot".


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

Spinning our wheels

In all of our work on his ADD, I am still left with the mistrust, feelings of being ignored, and like we're spinning our wheels. He's on meds, he's seeing a psychiatrist, he's seeing a therapist, we're seeing a marriage counselor, I'm seeing a therapist, he apologizes every day for something, says he'll do differently next time, he wants this to work, on and on and on. I have changed my reactions, stopped trying to control him, have been thanking him for the things he's done "well enough", etc etc. I told him about 6 months ago that his words don't mean anything more, only actions do. There have been a few small changes, but like yesterday when he decides to sleep until 2pm, I feel like he is actively choosing NOT to spend time with me. When he asks if he can go out with his friends on evenings that we've already agreed that he will stay home so we can spend time together, he is again actively choosing NOT to spend time with me. The broken promises, the lying, the half done chores, the inability to have a simple, easy, normal conversation makes me think: is this really the way I want to spend the rest of my life? We're spinning our wheels, the RPMs are in the red, but the car is not going anywhere. Am I really going to have to continue to leave thank you notes for making the coffee every day for the rest of my life to ensure that he will continue to do it? Are we really going to continue to have one hour + long conversations about "his feelings" when he feels talked down to, interrupted, and at the end of the hour, nothing's been accomplished? Where is this "ridiculously happily married" place Melissa talks about? Right now it might as well be on Saturn.

Move Past "Spinning"

You are doing a lot, and for that you should be acknowledged.  When working with couples in your situation, I always suggest two things:

  1. make sure that your priorities are aligned - that the two of you are working for the same goals or have agreed to which tasks are most important (this usually takes some sort of regular meeting
  2. makes sure that you are OBJECTIVELY measuring progress.  For example, if you decide together that your husband will be in charge of doing the dishes every night, make sure that he tracks that this is happening.  If you decide that you wish to spend time together, set a specific amount of time - such as 5 hours of "attention" time a week, then track if it happens.  This will allow you to respond, when your husband says "I would like to go out with my pals tonight" something like "I completely understand that, but we haven't had our 5 hours of time this week yet and we've both agreed that I'm a higher priority than your pals.  This week you should stay home.  Next week, we should have that time together earlier in the week so you are free to go out with your friends on Friday if you want to."

Working a lot (ie. spinning your wheels) is not the same thing as working smart (ie doing those things that you both agree are important and in a way that works for you both).  And speaking of smart, that's an acronym for objective measurement that comes in handy.  I'll post on that later today.

Working a lot (ie. spinning

Working a lot (ie. spinning your wheels) is not the same thing as working smart (ie doing those things that you both agree are important and in a way that works for you both). 

I agree and would also like to add that sometimes you can work so hard that that is all you have time for. Sometimes you put so much focus on ADHD, the marriage, the anger, etc that you simply don't have time to enjoy life and it makes everything seem worse. If you're constantly planning your next session and thinking over strategies and conversations and issues you want to discuss, you're never really just focusing on being married and being happy together. There has to be some down time somewhere. I made this mistake for many months. I almost drowned.

Down time is deadly silent for us....

The down time you speak of is frought with tension, silence, feelings of being afraid of saying/doing the wrong thing. For me, I'm back to not saying anything at all, b/c it's better than it being misinterpreted/fought back against/agrued with, etc.

Good advice, but....

To #1: We have had so many conversations about our goals, they get written down, and forgotten about. The agreements we've made about him not going out on nights before I'm off the next day have been broken. I actively try every day to live the advice in the book. I am in therapy, and working on only changing me. I have been thanking/complimenting him on what he does right. I have been trying my hardest to let go of control for almost two months now, and I think I've done very well (with the exception of maybe one or two comments in two months). I only approach him to talk when I know he's had his meds, is not tired, is fully awake, not stressed out, not distracted, etc (unfortunately this only leaves about 1 hour in an entire 24 hour period). I am trying to catch him in 'truths' now, instead of dwelling on the long history of lies.

To #2: I can't track his progress, only he can do that. If I start doing that, it's me taking control of HIS issues. Example: If we make an agreement that we will spend 5 hours together in a week, then he forgets/doesn't want to/would rather do something else more intriguing, then I am the bad guy again by calling him on it, he feels like I am telling him he did something wrong, and then we start the parent/child problem again.

I do appreciate your advice, but it's so complicated to apply it.

spinning our wheels

Hi Melomom,

I know exactly how you feel.  I am SO TIRED of walking on eggshells with these ADHD men.  It seems like the whole relationship is about them.  My husband needs constant reassurance for every single thing he does.  Where are my pats on the back for moving the lawn?! (something that he should be doing).  We have tried therapy, talking nicely, talking not so nicely, NOTHING WORKS!!!  Just because he has ADHD doesn't mean he can't load a dishwasher once a month!  I don't see my husband placating me over my little depression issues.  I think ADHD people use their condition to let them off the hook with everything.  

Maybe all the ADHD husbands should be dropped on an island together where they could all watch porn, play with their blackberry phones, play computer games, catch up on email and lay in bed staring at the TV.  Then all of us non-ADHD wives could finally find someone who would love and appreciate us for the steady, PATIENT, and loving people that we all are.

Sorry for the bitterness in this posting, but I just can't take it anymore.






It can be, and will be, all

It can be, and will be, all about them...if you let it be. In order for it to be all about them, you have to participate in that way of thinking. I'm not talking about chores, I'm just speaking in general. A certain level of selfishness is good for us all...and that is what we (non-ADHD spouses) lose the ability to do..put ourselves first sometimes. We resent them because they feel it is all about them, but we contribute to that dynamic or it could not exist. I told my husband about a year ago that our marriage had always been all about him and those days were over...and I meant it. I stopped planning and doing everything around "will he be mad?" (but always considering his feelings, just not in the 'completely outside of normal reasoning' like I used to). He responded by becoming louder, and often appearing to me as if he was struggling to make himself heard and just speaking to be speaking and rambling on and on about stuff that was obviously nothing more than 'noise' to hear himself talk and feel heard. The more I live my life for ME and start to become a little more selfish, the worse he got...but it has now leveled out a bit and I see improvements. It took several months before I even felt like he cared about trying...or about our marriage period. I love him, but he will be my EQUAL from now on and not 'all about him'. I have a right to my own feelings and opinions and I do not have any selfish or malicious intent when I make my decisions. I make most of them to the best of my ability based on what I think God wants me to do...not my husband. It is far.

It can be, and will be, all

I hear you SherriW13, but it sounds as if there is no right way to act around these guys.  If you act selfish they don't like it.  If you baby them, they don't like it.  I told my husband last week that I have no idea what the heck he wants from me anymore.  I feel like everyday I have to WORK AT LIVING!  Life is hard enough.  The economy is bad, we are at war, people are dying, and my husband can't even find the energy to get up and push his kids on the swings outside?!  You know, PARTICIPATE IN LIFE!!!  Have you ever seen that movie "WAR OF THE ROSES," and Kathleen Turner says to Michael Douglas, "Everytime I see you eat, watch you sleep, or anytime I look at you, I just want to smash your face in!"  I guess that's sums up how I feel about my husband.  I just want him to take his meds, accept his condition, and make some attempt to plug into this family.  I don't believe that is too much too ask.



We are not all the same :)

First of all let me say I'm sorry that your DH has you in ADD Hell. I know most guys, including me, had/have a hard time admitting their faults or especially admitting they are wrong. My ADD was not known until I was 43 and I went into scramble mode when I started to see all the things I did to get our marriage into the state it was in. The meds (Adderall) helped me immediately come out of the ADD Fog, but it was counseling and research/posting here that has really opened my eyes and I know I am far from the guy I used to be. I continue to work on my ADD issues almost three years later, so I've gone way past the Hyper-Focus state ;)

Don't give up hope on your ADDer, but it is up to him to get better. The ADD does not go away, but it can be tamed and controlled.

How about you stop, RIGHT

How about you stop, RIGHT NOW, concentrating on what it is he needs from you and ask yourself "what can I do, TODAY, to make me feel better?" and do it. If the focus of your life is 'what does he need from me/for me to do' then it is no wonder you're drowning. He won't spontaneously combust and disappear if you JUST BE WHO YOU ARE. To be honest, that was part of my HUGE epiphany this past September...I had stopped living my life to an extent that I didn't even know who I was, what I enjoyed, etc. I spent 24/7 thinking about, working on, trying to fix and completely consumed with my marriage. I had heard it said, and even said it myself, 1000 times..but until the ton of bricks fell and I finally got was just words...but you TRULY do have the power to change your life TODAY, even if he doesn't. Don't baby him. Don't be selfish to the point that you think of no one but yourself, but just simply spend some time thinking about you, how you became the person you are, what you would like to change, and how to go about doing it. I am in counseling to deal with the issues I have (from childhood, previous relationships, codependency) and nothing more. Just me. All about ME. I love it. 

My marriage was killing me...physically killing me. Or should I say my REACTION to my husband's out of control ADHD was killing me. I had to change my reaction or face the very real possibility of not living another 10-15 years. He isn't much better, making some baby steps (that I am very thankful for), but my life is 75% improved over just 4 months ago simply because I decided to focus on myself and THEN, when I am less emotionally charged and more emotionally healthy, I will focus on the marriage again. My hopes are that he just follows me and in the end, when I am healthier, there will be much less to 'work on'. 

"Will he be mad?"

This totally resonates with me. For the longest time, I was living every moment of my life with that statement "Will he be mad?" attached to Everything I did. (I thought about including some examples here, but I have been reading enough on this site to know that my fellow readers will know what I am talking about.) For a long while I didn't even realize how detrimental that was to ME. Forget walking on eggshells, I was trying to float over a bed of nails.

For me, the epiphany came when I learned about giving up control, completely. One day, I just said to him, "I don't care if you get mad at me I'm not doing anything unreasonable, and it's your problem if you get mad. I'm going to do it." And I did it - ALL. Everything I was so afraid he would get mad at me about, I just Did. I was Myself, living My Own Life. There were a few times he got mad, but I didn't let it enter my world. I tuned it out. Yes, we did talk about it, and I gave him some examples of things I had done that had made him mad, and I explained again that I was just going to do them, and I was no longer concerned about his reaction. Some of the things I told him he wasn't even aware of, and was surprised that he was getting mad about them.

I, too, do not have any malicious intent, and I obviously would never Try to make him mad on purpose. I have simply changed my outlook on what I want to do, and when/how I'm going to do it. I am a successful adult, and I do make good decisions, so I am simply going to live that way. I have stopped trying to float over a bed of nails, or walk on eggshells - both of which are equally impossible. (In our house, I would be continually letting him know how disappointed I was that he had promised yet again to clean up the eggshells, and they are still there a year later.) I feel more free than ever not worrying about how he's going to react. It's a small, yet meaningful step for me.

nomorebadhead's picture

ADHD spouse dating network

are you suggesting two non adhd spouses could find happiness together? but everything would be done! they would totally understand each other! no conflict at all? what fun would that be? ;

Constant Reassurance

This is a topic that is so deep, and for so many reasons. For my ADHD husband, his need for constant reassurance comes from growing up with ADHD. He did not know he had it until about 7 months ago, and when we found out, it sure explained a LOT about how his life has been. He has grown up with most people telling him he's done things wrong, incorrectly, he needs to try harder, why is he so stupid, why can't he get things right, why can't he remember things, why can't he plan, why can't he finish things, why can't he etc etc etc. The constant barrage of negativity that he's experienced his whole life has led him to this emotional place of needing reassurance that he's doing something right. Especially when he says he's trying so hard to change the way ADHD impacts our relationship - he needs to know if what he's doing is right, or wrong.

I posted something a while ago about "our little coffee victory". My husband decided that he was going to take on making the coffee every day for us. For a while, he was only doing it 1-2 days a week. The days he DID make the coffee, I would leave him a note saying "Thank you for making the coffee." (Granted, this was after I struggled mentally for about 2 months with the concept of having to thank my grown husband for doing ONE small chore around the house.) The days he DIDN'T make the coffee, I didn't say ANYTHING, and just went to Starbucks. After several weeks, and notes, I noticed it was happening more consistently. Now, after 5 months, he's making the coffee on average about 6 out of 7 days a week. I consider this a permanent change. It gives me hope because of the WAY in which the change happened. He wanted to make the change, was positively rewarded for it, and it ultimately changed his behavior. I KNOW it's a very small thing given the scope of what needs to be done around the house, but, again, I look to the PROCESS to start making our next change.

I have grandiose ideas about this morphing into a 50/50 division of labor someday...................but I have to take the small victories that come and keep my eye on the idea that it is the WAY he is changing that will ultimately lead to bigger and better things.

Hope this helps.

Constant reassurance

I am tired of the constant reassurance of my recently diagnosed ADHD husband.  He doesn't want to be treated like a child but acts like one.  Can someone tell me how to get him to pay a bill? His pay is very inconsistent and if I ask him for money he says next week and next week never comes. His work hours are very irregular and he refuses to look for a job with regular pay.  I assume it is because he tried it before and nothing seems to pan out.  I am on a strict budget and can pay the bills, but there is not much left over for me to enjoy my own money.  I make a good salary, but there isn't much left at the end of the month. He comes home wearing new shoes, and I find a new suit in his closet every now and I again.  When I ask him if that is new he says no.  I don't have any proof so I have to let it go.  His ego is so fragile. but I have to suck it up when he is mean to me.  Sometimes he will go days without speaking to me because he is mad.  This stresses me the most. I can't say anything because he will say all you do is complain, complain, complain.  That brings me to tears because I try very hard not to complain.  I am trying to be a good Christian wife.  I always have to be available and accommodating to him but he can ignore me and my need for a loving relationship.  We used to be best friends.  All I had to do was think of him and he'd call.  it was amazing.  He adores our son who is 3 years old but can't seem to muster that same affection for me for any length of time.  When I asked why he doesn't love me with that kind of zeal he says the baby never hurt him.  I don't recall ever hurting him.  If anyone has been hurt in this relationship it is me.  He has cheated more than once and tries to lie his way out of it.  I feel he sometimes feels like a failure because he can not adequately support his family.  I don't need him to support us completely on his own. I need his help.  I have to ask for money he never gives it on his own.  I don't always get money from him because either he spent it already or he forgets.  Of course I can't nag him about it.  He is emotionally unavailable but I have to be the loving wife who never complains.  

I dont' know what to do anymore.  He is on medication, but I don't think it is that effective anymore.  His doses are constantly being increased and his therapist won't sit down and talk to him about his issues.  The therapist just writes the prescription.  I met with the psychiatrist once before to provide background but he still has not sat my husband down to discuss the issues in our marriage or to help him improve his behavior.  Trying to get my husband to see another doctor will be impossible.  He thinks he is mostly fine. Sometimes I need reassurance that things in my life will be ok.  He rarely provides that to me.   



Feeling frustrated and lost...

My husband and I have been married for almost three years, both remarried and each with kids from our previous marriage but none together. We only just discovered that he has ADHD within the last few weeks and I have to say in many ways it has been incredible to finally have a way to make sense of all the things that have been going on.  I think that he feels relieved to finally have a name for the way he does things besides being labeled insensitive, self centered, or just plain A**hole.  I am myself really happy for him and hope this helps him deal with some of the guilt and shame he feels for some of the choices he has made a long the way (his lack of impulse control has been a great source of turmoil for him).  I love my husband dearly but things have been really bad for us for a long time.  Like most, it was a whirlwind courtship and I was swept off my feet but once it ended, it was gone.  After that came learning how to contain his out of control spending, his drinking, his philandering, his mood swings, his brutal honesty, his disorganization... Even without knowing what the problem was he was able to get most of this under control, he truly is an amazing man.  But to be honest we both know that most of his self control has simply come from me being on top of him so much that he either had to leave or comply.  Because of this there are a lot of hard feelings between us and we have mixed joy about his successes.  Most often he feels shamed and unloved, criticized and nagged; so much so that when he is home he hides in his office and I barely see him at all.  I on the other hand feel exhausted and forgotten, I feel like the bad guy even though everything I have done has only been to keep him from completely self-destructing, which is where he was headed.  I have been reading the ADHD effect and I believe it has very good advice however, I am afraid that I can not go any further.  That I can not find enough in myself to be the person my husband needs me to be.  Mostly I just feel numb.  He needs my support and love and empathy.  He needs me to trust that he can do things on his own and give up my control.  He needs me to forgive him for what he has done and allow him to move forward.  And the thing is that even knowing all that, even loving him as much as I do I just can't.  I am so angry at him.  I feel like I used to be a fun happy person and now I am just a horrible monster who nobody wants to be around.  Even my kids tell me that I used to be fun before I met dad.  But I feel like I can't let go because at that point no one would be responsible.  My husband doesn't mean to, but he gets so carried away.  And he can be so damn "honest" that he cuts me to the core and then because it is in the past he no longer even sees it as relevant and forgets that I have been hurt.  In fact he forgets everything except his own pain so that in his eyes there is no progression at all and I am just, as he puts it, "A B***h that can't stand it when things don't go her way."  Except I am not like that at all!! In fact, nobody in their right mind would describe me like that except for him.  And he avoids me like the plague.  I guess that's where his hyperfocus comes in, and I do understand that, but it still leaves me alone.  Always alone trying to figure out how to put back together my broken heart and keep going on while he spends countless hours playing video games and surfing the internet.  And I don't mind taking care of the house, in fact, I prefer it that way but I do mind that he sees nothing that I do at all.  Not taking care of the house or working full time or taking care of both his and my children (which total 6 btw), standing by him through his cheating and drinking and spending and temper tantrums.  He is so in his own world that all he notices are the things that intrude, like me yelling at him, but never the good things I do.  Talking to him never helps because he becomes angry, shifting the blame back onto me because he feels like I am trying to shame him or make him feel guilty when all I really want is to just know that he sees me and that he still loves me somewhere deep inside.  And now that he knows he has ADHD he seems to be trying but I can't even will the walls I have built around my heart to come down.  Like I said.  I just feel numb.  So I don't know where that leaves us.  I am afraid that it will be like this forever.  That I will never have a partner, a team mate, a friend.  That it will always be me over here holding everything up, aching for more and him over there, completely oblivious.  I love him dearly.  He is such a good man who does try really hard but I don't know if I can be happy with him.  I need a partner, not another child.  And there are cracks running all through me so that I know soon all that I am holding up will come crashing down on top of us.  I am so exhausted.  How can I possibly make it through this?  How can I possibly build myself up enough to be strong for both of us?  How can I let go of all of my hurt and anger so that I can give him the empathy that he needs?  We have no insurance and there is absolutely no way we can afford therapy so where does that leave us?  I have so many questions and so few answers.  I guess my hope is that one of you has been in my shoes and can tell me what to do.  I don't want to end this marriage but I don't know how to keep it either.  Thanks for listening.  ~mrsajdelinquent

Feeling frustrated and lost

Although your situation is different than mine, I can relate to much of what you wrote. I'm no therapist, but my opinion is that you should start writing and organizing your thoughts on paper. As spouses of ADHD men, many of us women get so caught up in all of their crap, that we lose ourselves. With all you seem to have going on, you MUST find a way to carve out some time to focus on yourself. The most success that I personally have ever had with this is by going to a coffee shop where I was certain that I wouldn't run into anybody I know, and just start writing. What am I good at? What am I bad at? What are my likes/dislikes? Who makes me feel good to be around? Who makes me feel bad? What do I get out of my marriage? What do I want out of my marriage? Is there a way to get what I want from my marriage? What are my short, medium and long term goals? What do I need to do to reach my goals? What are my interests/hobbies? What would I like my hobbies to be? What type of a person, mother, wife do I want to be? What type of kids, husband friend do I want to have? What really pisses me off? and any other questions you can think of that can help you get on solid ground about who you are. One time I did this when I was feeling particularly hopeless and lost, and even just wrote the question, "How can I figure out who I am?" For me, just writing stuff down helps me feel more independent and strong. It feels good to be there for yourself and figure out what you actually need and how to give some of it to yourself. When everything is so vague and foggy in your head, and you are just surviving by trying to keep all of your fingers in the dike, it's difficult to determine what track you should be on or even what you should feel. You have to start somewhere, and I've had the best results by just writing. Just remember to completely shred what you wrote when you are done, so you know that you can keep your thoughts private. A friend told me to do it, and I felt completely unmotivated to do it. When I'm feeling really depleted or angry or upset, I try to force myself to do it. It helps me. I hope it helps you.

Undiagnosed ADD Spouse

My husband and I married 3 1/2 years ago.  He has 2 children and so do I from previous marriages.  We now have 1 child together.  Both of our marriages prior to each other were very unhealthy.  His ex was controlling, manipulative, had an affair and left taking his 2 children who were very young.  At the time the mother was awarded primary custody due to the ages of the children and the time in which they divorced.  Recently he went back to modify (after 10 years of living with this custody schedule) and she manipulated the kids to think that by adding 2 nights a month it would be equal custody even though it isn't.  He has a lot of anger and resentment towards her about all of this because the children keep saying this is what they want but she refuses to acknowledge their wishes.  His belief is that she wants the money as control (the child support would go away if they had equal time).  Regardless, this has caused him to resent, in mind, all women, including me, by the way he makes comments about women. His ex has also made comments to their children that are incredibly rude about me and the 2 children, especially the youngest who I am close to, have told me things she says about me  (ie.  I should not have bought stuff for my husband and my baby while I was pregnant because I could still have a miscarriage, or that they won't have any attention anymore once the baby is born.  I recognize why she says this but it is still so hard to hear). 

I was married to an emotionally and physically abusive man and continue to have issues with him on a regular basis in which I have filed restraining orders, my children's counselor has hotlined him for inappropriate behavior (which he has always walked a fine line that the family service workers can't do anything about). etc...  Since my husband and I married, my ex has "teamed up" with my husband's ex to make our lives miserable.  My husband is so fed up that at times he says he wishes he never met me because my ex causes so many problems.  I resent his statement because I didn't ask for my ex to be this way, but feel responsible for it all, even though both exes contribute.  I simply want to escape the conflict and only "put out the fires" as they occur and forget about it the rest of the time.  My husband feels it is important to talk about it on a regular (daily) basis.

All of the above contributes to our problems in our marriage but so does the fact that my husband has difficulty focusing on things that are outside of his job or things that he wants to focus on.  He has mentioned that he thinks he probably has ADD, but other then joking about getting a prescription to medicate his ADHD son (whose mom has decided to stop medicating and blocked my husband from being able to medicate him, even though teachers and medical professionals have said he needs medicine and has been diagnosed by 3 different clinicians) he has not tried anything.  So many times I find myself angry with him about not giving my attention, planning dates, being available for his job/clients/friends but not me, or ruining important nights by living in the moment that I am becoming a wife I don't want to be.  I have become distrustful of him because of his fly by the seat of his pants attitude that I don't know where to turn.  I am frustrated because he can remember every stat imaginable about sports, but can't remember our kids schedules when I have it posted on our smartphone calendars.   I have suggested counseling and after many struggles gotten him to attend sessions with 2 different counselors but when pushed to think outside his box and into mine, he almost rebels, cops an attitude and won't go back.  He feels that I need counseling and that I am an insecure, distrustful, ungrateful, sometimes other choice curse words, and psycho person.  He says he is trying to provide for our family and I should be thankful that I get to stay home.  Don't get me wrong I am VERY grateful for him being able to provide for us and tell him that.  The problem is that I feel he gives so much of his attention and thoughtfulness to his clients/friends that I resent him and it causes issues that lead him to believe I am ungrateful especially when he has the energy to go out with them and stay out late but we never have the "time" because we have 5 children to do the same for ourselves.

Anyway, I know I am rambling, I just don't know where to turn.  I have tried individual counseling and get to a point where she wanted to bring him in and he gives up.  I have tried reading books my husband suggested and he gets bored and won't finish them with me (although he will read a book of interest to him).  I have tried talking to him, crying and telling him how I feel and he thinks I am trying to be manipulative.  I don' know what else to do because I think the issues stem from our previous marriages, but are complicated by his undiagnosed ADD.  Please help. 




Missouri, I have a knot in my

Missouri, I have a knot in my stomach just from reading your post. Your husband, reliving it every day, means that there is clearly major damage to his whole person. I have had similar damage to me - clearly different circumstances - but resulting in the same effect. When you think of something everyday, and can't get past it, it is PTS - post traumatic Stress. - you do not have to go to war to experience an emotional trauma. The feeling of helplessness (courts, ex-wife, children, your ex, school asking for help for his child, etc) he feels on a daily basis would cripple anyone. Your emotional turmoil is taking a huge bite out of you too. You sound much stronger than him in knowing you must go forward and he seems to be spinning and stuck and just swallowed up. You are in a really, really hard place. i am so sorry for you. I am so sorry for the child. My mother married 3 times, i had 3 dads, she moved us over 18 times by the time I was 16. I went to 11 different schools by the time I was 16. She is still living in "crazy". The reason I am telling you this is because, I am ok. I knew that she was bat crazy when I was younger. My 2nd dad was my saving grace. I was lucky if I saw him two times a year because we lived in different states. (he adopted me when I was 4- so he is the "real" dad). You may not be able to get the kids out of crazy, but you both can provide safety, security, and STABILITY. So important. They will know their dad loves them and wants them. When they get older, they will be able to choose who they want to live with and when they start driving, they can come over when ever they want. The only thing that is hard to do is "Wait out the crazy." There is no shame in counseling, i have done my share. Kids are full of survivial tactics, just please know they will feel your love and they will "see" as they probably already do, that you both offer love and acceptance and will always be there for them. Know that there WILL eventually be an end to all the madness. When the kids get older, your ex and his ex WILL BE out of the picture for good. You just have to survive the best you can - but know there will eventuallu be an end to the madness! I am so sorry for you. Your husband is clearly taking it out on the ONE person who understands and is standing by him. Remind him you are not the enemy- you are his partner - you feel the same pain and frustration that he does, but yours is worse because he takes it out on you. He needs to find another outlet - if he wont go to counseling, then he needs to get active, play sports, go exercise, go to a place where he can "pound out the rage" he must feel. Maybe tell him to "take his anger outside" - do not direct it at YOU - the fact that you are still there is what HE should be grateful for! YOU are important too! Don't let him forget that and don't YOU forget that! When he starts talking bad about women, bring up favorite women in his family he may love and say not all of them are bad.. I just saw Oprah's lifeclass on abuse last night and it was really, really good. If you can access her clips on the internet, the first few shows will empower you. You are incredible with what you have gone through so far. So happy you are here! I wish you all the best.

Interesting blog

Been reading your blog as well as others on this site... step-son is adult ADHD. He was diagon Been married to his father for 20 years. My step-son is 26 and recently engaged. Totally engrossed in his i-phone/i-pad most of the day when he should be working. Has no ambitions. Grossly over weight. Was a problem child at school. Expelled twice (at an exclusive private school where generations of the family have been - so managed to have both over-turned). Over the years nothing has changed, Every time we are with him he causes either a problem between my husband and myself by story-telling to his father, being obnoxious and rude. His father is aware that this is going on and I am told "don't rise to the occasion". The problem is that this boy/adult has never been disciplined or put in his place by his father. My daughter (who was adopted by my husband) and I are warned to tip-toe around the son when he is in one of his bad moods. He is very jealous of any affection shown towards myself and my daughter and my husband stays away from us when he is around. It is maddening that at his age he is still playing the game of attention seeking...... negative and positive. Has a habit of taking over wherever he is and trying to control the moment.

Our daughter is a loving person who has always been there for her step-brother during difficult times. She unfortunately bears the brunt of the blame of his actions to a point that she has now said she will not be home at the same time as him because of all the nonsense.

Over the years I have tried my best to deal with ADHD problem that he has but I am afraid it is wearing me down! On leaving and flying home yesterday, he hugged me and said "sorry about all the s.... I have caused.....

The worse thing is my husband actually gets in on his game and allow this all to carry on. Of course ADHD is never blamed and the scenario is turned around to make us feel that WE are the cause.

What do you do when your spouse is being manipulated by the ADHD and not putting his foot down. Or is it too late!

His fiancee is aware there is a problem but is very caught up in the whole engaged and wedding planning at the moment. Believe me I am only too glad that she will be "taking" over but concerned when they have children that she is going to have him as one more! also I can't handle this repeat again- help!

His fiancee, who is a social worker by profession is aware of his problems and seems to control him to a degree. 

ADHD Treatment

Dr. Orlov,

I have ADHD and have known this for several years. I retired recently and my wife and I had looked forward to time that we could spend more time together and improve our sometimes rocky relationship. First, I am the real deal, I am seriously ADHD. It first knowing what caused my behaviors made me feel better because I know it is more than me just being an a** h***. I try to work on my ADHD symptoms but they occur with lightening speed and all I can do is apologize, which I do. However, apologies are no longer effective for my wife she wants me to change, which I want to do desparately. However, I am not changing except in small steps....sometimes. I am reading your Book, "The ADHD Effect On Marriage". I know we both need treatment. My wife says she will read it when I am done. I do not feel she will become involved with the counsel you provide in your book, I am the problem not her.

Question: Can a healthy marriage relationship be restored if I devote myself to treatment and work on my ADHD symptoms?

ADHD and anger

I am so happy to have found this site! This morning I came into my office and searched the internet for "ADHD and anger" because I was feeling so depleted in dealing with my 43 year old husband's chronic ADHD related anger and frustration. I have never actually been a blogger, but it is such a relief to read so many of the posts. Finally, I don't feel so alone in my struggles with my husband's ADHD. It is so comforting to read about others having similar struggles. I could write and write and write, but I'll try to keep it under control as much as I can! :-)
My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years. We have an 8 year old son who also has ADHD and a 10 year old son who does not. My husband was diagnosed about 5 years ago and my son was diagnosed about 3 years ago (when he was in Kinder). I have learned so much about my husband through my son. And I am hopeful that I am doing a better job with my son than my husband's mom did with him. I don't think my mother-in-law had much ability to deal with my husband at all when he was a boy, and she was very abusive and hysterical toward him for all of his ADHD ways.
Both my husband and my son are on Adderall, and they have the same "version" of ADHD. My 37 year old brother also has ADHD, but it manifests itself very differently than my husband and son. Although my brother struggles with anger and frustration, he is not so free in his expressions and overall angry and hostile attitude. He's much more introspective and emotional. In fact, usually my brother is the most kind hearted, caring and compassionate person I know, and we are very close. He does have episodes where his frustration gets the best of him and he explodes, but he's just not constantly picking, edgy, complainy and displaying an overall demeanor of hostility. He's such a great role model for my 8 year old because he can relate to many of my son's challenges, and he gives him great advice and coping strategies. I am so grateful that my son has my brother as a role model because my husband, though a great father in many respects, models such horrible coping skills.
My husband is frequently so angry and looking for reasons to express his anger. He tends to look outward for his happiness and really has no idea how to search inward or find what could help him be happy. He's so difficult for me to deal with at times because I never know how he's going to be.... his attitude changes so much throughout the day. In the mornings, he's usually a bear! He takes his medication around 8:00, and so by 10am, he's super happy. That lasts to varying degrees until about 4pm or so. By the end of the day, he's seething anger again. What that boils down to is that the only time I or our kids are with him, he's enraged and anybody around him can feel it oozing from his every pore. His fuse is so short, he yells a lot, picks at the boys and I, and he complains about EVERYTHING. He is hyper-focused on negativity. He was not always so focused on negativity, but I can't say that I never knew something wasn't "unique" about him.

I used to be a combination of very 'co-dependent' about it, yet also very aggressive myself. I would try to make everything "perfect" in his life so that he wouldn't complain or get angry. Yet, that would ultimately always fail, because nothing stays perfect, even if you can get it perfect for awhile. If he got his intimidating and yelling behavior going, I would get in his face to let him know that he didn't intimidate me. I resented his aggressiveness deeply, and wanted to send him a clear message that he couldn't intimidate me with aggressiveness, and let him know that his aggressiveness would be met with mine. It never worked and always ended in big fights and days without even speaking. Many of those arguments never actually got fully resolved and resentment continues to stir around in our relationship.
Now, my strategy is to try to get away from him when I can see that he's getting hostile and going to start ranting. When I can't reasonably get away from him (like in the car), I am just supremely conscious of not saying a word. I've decided that I have to "separate" myself from him a great deal. If I focus on the kids, my career and trying to do what makes me happy, and just try not to let his anger or moodiness get to me, I am so much more balanced and happy. However, what ends up happening is that as I let go of the turmoil that I used to feel every time he got upset and just let his anger be his, his anger increases. It's like he tries to engage me, so that I will say something that he doesn't like, so he can feel justified in exploding on me. If I just let him do his thing without saying a word or sending him some confrontational body language, he just gets madder and madder because, I think, he thinks I'm being dismissive of his ever so important feelings. The bottom line is that I don't know how to be with him.

I do interfere when he yells at the boys in an intimidating or too harsh way, especially for silly reasons (ie. somebody left the bread out or something like that). That really sets him off because he views me as interfering with his parenting. I try to explain to him (when the kids are not around) that I'm not interfering about WHAT he is saying, but I'm interfering with HOW he's saying it. But, that never works. My kids are both lively boys. They NEED discipline. I know that. I'm fully supportive of appropriate discipline; I just don't think that flying off the handle and yelling at kids is a good way to get any good results or help them develop in the best possible way. I'm sure that's how his mother treated him, and I'm also sure that it only contributed to his high level of frustration and anger. Especially with my 8 year old, I think it's important to model appropriate communication and apply clear boundaries and discipline. It seems that my husband's only coping skill is to yell. He's never physically violent, but he still is often very intimidating.

My husband has struggled with many failures in his career endeavors,  for our entire relationship, and this causes so many problems between us. It's frustrating for him. It's frustrating for me too, but for different reasons. I resent all of the sacrifices we have made and continue to make to give him every opportunity to be successful, but yet, he never is. He's a very attractive, industrious person with so many great business ideas, good business intuition, and great communicative abilities (with people outside our family), most of the time. He has tons of friends and is very social. But ultimately, his ADHD precludes him from ever reaching any level of success that could contribute much to our family's financial life. I have a solid career and have always been able to provide a decent living for our family, but the last few years have been so stressful. It sure would be nice to get some help from him, financially. Besides the money, the biggest problem lies in his CONSTANT complaints about what we have or don't have.

He's always so easily angered about the fact that we don't have better cars or can't take this vacation or that, or don't have certain things, and he says things like, "oh great, we can't even afford to ...." and he says it in an accusatory tone - as if I'm not providing him with a certain lifestyle that he should be entitled to. It makes me see red! I work so hard to provide what I can, and he has zero appreciation. He only focuses on what he doesn't have. We have a nice house, our kids go to private school, I do way more of the household and yard chores, and I don't even mind doing it. I don't even need him to appreciate it. I just get so tired of the complaining when everything is not just exactly the way he thinks it should be. When I try to point out all that we have, he always replies with something like, "yeah, but this or that is going to break soon" or "yeah, but that's not the one I really wanted" or "yeah, until the boys break that too."

Ok. I'll stop. Sorry for writing so much! Thank you for creating this blog! I'm sure I will be on here a ton!

I feel your pain

My husband is not quite so aggressive but, close enough...and the constant's driving me crazy. I'm a peaceable person...I just want's so hard sometimes....thank you for posting!

Has he ever considered taking

Has he ever considered taking another dosage of medication around 4 p.m? If it takes the edge off of his hostility and anger from 10-4, then it would stand to reason that it might work in the evenings too. It is fairly common for ADHDers to take 2-3 doses of meds throughout the day to keep things on an even keel. It actually helps some of them sleep better to take a 4-5 p.m. dosage. 

I can't do this anymore ~ The anger and frustration is too much

Good morning all,

I will make this quick and short.

My boyfriend and I have been together for over 3 years.  His anger and frustration seems constant, I'm always at fault.  There is no adult conversation at all.  He is 54, I am 45.  He gets frustrated almost every time I ask a simple question or make a comment on things that are benign.  I have begun to stonewall and shutdown.  I have tried to have conversations with him to explain how I feel, what I need in calm adult tones.  He immediately gets upset, rolling his eyes, frustration comes out.  His anger has increased to where he is starting to throw things, etc.  I support him, I pay all the bills and he is completely financially irresponsible.  

I can't take it anymore.  He knows he has ADHD, but says that's not the problem. The problem according to him is that I need to lighten up.  It's really hard to lighten up when I am the sole breadwinner, I do all the housework, we don't communicate because he gets so angry.  He doesn't seem to care about my life.  I am at a loss and think I need to cut the ties and ask him to move out of my house.  He has a heart of gold, but it's buried under all the angst and frustration.  I think it's time we stop this toxic cycle.

We both deserve better in life.  I think he would be happier with someone who can lighten up, and I think I would be happier with someone I can talk with.  

I'm hesitant to kick him out because he has some pretty major financial issues right now, that are all self created.  He blames others for his financial plight.  What do I do?


Wow! Where do I start???

We were married going on 5 years ago, literally the happiest day of my life. A handsome, intelligent, funny and adventurous and attentive man and now there’s a whole lot more to add to the quotient. I will list them out to hopefully make this a shorter process:
1. Alcoholic- Now 2 DWI’s and still proclaiming that it was my fault for making him mad. Wants to self medicate with alcohol every evening after work while still visiting his probation officer, counseling classes and paying court costs.
2. Uncontrollable Spending- Had 7 companies after him for money owed with one warrant if not paid.  I have since taken over our financial affairs and offer him an allowance that originated as a monthly then weekly which is now daily due to uncontrollable spending.  I ask him to please just buy newspapers, magazines etc instead of alcohol at least during the weeknights.
3. Hoarder- I have never seen anything like it in my life. He has papers, magazines, articles, pictures, tools, nuts, bolts, screws, clothes etc from throughout his life. Every time he enters the house with a bag of any kind, he leaves it where it falls and does not want to dispose of it.
4. Clutter Monger- Everything he touches stays where it falls. Clothes on the chairs, couches and floor or hanging on the doorways instead of the closet, shoes at the front door and in the living room.  Crumbs, crumbs, crumbs! All over the kitchen counters and floor. If he opens a wine bottle, beer bottle, coke bottle, the cap or cork stays on the kitchen countertop. Paper towels everywhere! Coffee grounds everywhere from making coffee in the French Press. Magazines and their articles (torn out) stacked in the bathroom, empty pill bottles all over the tiny bathroom countertop.
5. Purges- Over drinks, then over eats, then purges.
6. Forgetful- Every day now I ask him on the way out the door if he has his cell phone and reading glasses. He sometimes says yes and then either calls to have me look for them or comes back home to find them during working hours. Losses everything in the clutter.
7. Frequent Confusion-He calls them “train wrecks” when things are moved around or changed. Even a change of plans can throw him off.  Rarely completes a task or will postpone till later.
8. Sensitive to Light and Movement- He will become angry about things such as light from my watch glistening in his eye while he is driving, or me pointing at something (in his peripheral vision) in front of us like a possible car collision with an oncoming car.
These things cover most of what life is like in our home which I am sorry to say no longer feels like one but instead a prison of constant nagging, teaching, instructing and frequently praising for good behavior.  I want you to know that he frequently gets loud and yell’s like a child and his favorite line is “Just DON’T tell me how to do it!!!” In his defense I will say that he has tried really hard to focus and keep things clean and orderly, not drink all the time, and make and keep a list of things to do at work and/or at home, but unfortunately he is not successful. I want you all to know that I actually prayed this morning. It is the first time in a long time because my life has been so exceptional for many years before this after dealing with past hard times. Then I stumbled on to this website which I am excited about. I just don’t know where to start. I don’t have the money to go to or listen to the classes but will buy the book.  There is no support group in our city and he had been going to a psychiatrist for about a year before losing his job but he only diagnosed him with a small amount of ADHD.  : (((  While going through all the DWI  counseling etc. he seems more receptive to the idea of help from me instead of responding to me with what I call “turning tables” on me and making it my fault or just plain denial. Do any of you have any other suggestions than just buying a book for help? Thank you for any assistance you can provide.