just need support and understanding

Hello. This is my first time posting. My husband of almost 5 years has (not yet formally diagnosed) adhd. He has just started seeing a psychologist for testing and hopefully medication. I am really struggling knowing potential relief for myself of his behaviors is hopefully around the corner, however I also understand it will not be immediate, and not without lots of work on both of our parts. I guess I need guidance and support related to the fact that I am at the end of my rope and hardly want to be in the same room with him anymore. His nervous energy, pacing, tics, etc. Are driving me insane. He just gives me an uncomfortable feeling and creates anxiety in me. Is this normal to be so "over it" that you just don't even want to be in the room with them? He is getting help (after years of me nagging) and I'm grateful for that and proud of him, but it is still so tough. Maybe its more difficult because we are on the ISP of him (hopefully) getting better. You know, how the last mile in a Marathon is the toughest because you know you're almost there. Also probably important to mention that we have a 3 year old. I really wantto stay a family and do what ittakes, but I am so tired and so frustrated. I've tolerated it for so long. I think I just feel done. Like come back when you're well. Otherwise get away from me with your craziness. My husband mostly has nervous energy, some very mild tics(like neck popping and shoulder shrugs). He taps stuff, taps his feet, pcks his fingernails, and paces. He also gets irritable and can't tolerate stress well. He does not have problems at work. He is not spending like crazy or cheating or anything awful, but the daily energy he exudes is just awful. So, sorry for being long-winded, but any advice on how to be more compassionate, tolerant, etc, so that I can make it through the next few months? If you have any other questions about the situation I am happy to answer them as well.

support and understanding

Hi fedup!  I'm a first time poster today, too!  And, I can completely relate with your story.  My husband and I are married (17 years) with 3 teenaged kids.  Two of our three kids have ADHD (one boy and one girl), and it was after their diagnoses, that we realized that my husband had ADHD, too, although it's never been formally diagnosed.  Our kids are doing very will with meds, the occasional trip to the psychologist (after several months right at the beginning), and lots of support and some modifications at school.  My husband just started meds after I literally begged on my knees, but he's not convinced they will work, even though he readily admits he's a "classic case."  I am in the midst of reading Melissa Orlov's book (The ADHD Effect on Marriage).  If you haven't read it, do so.  It's amazingly supportive and compassionate of BOTH couples' side of the story, and gives practical advice on how to work together in adapting to ADHD in your life together.  Melissa's marriage was on the brink of failure, and she and her husband brought it back to even better than before, and her book tells you how they did it.  It will give you hope.  One strong piece of advice that Melissa reiterates in her book is that it is very important that the psychologist the ADHD spouse sees is familiar with ADHD.  If they aren't, you likely won't find too much success with them, because ADHD is not a simple condition to treat.  Be well, and stay in touch!  threefifthsadhd

Thank you threefifthsadhd. I

Thank you threefifthsadhd. I plan on grabbing the book. I don't have it yet and was wondering what got you all through the tough times. Thanks for sharing your story. Have you noticed the meds working for your husband yet? What did they prescribe? I am imagining you have learned tolerance and compassion being married for 17 years. What has got you through all these years? I am going to grab the book ASAP. I read the free chapters already. Just looking for some support from others in my shoes on the forum until then. Oh and his psychologist seems to be doing a great job so far. She specializes in adhd. She sent him home with a questionnaire for me, for him, and for his boss, which o thought as pretty thorough. Anything your husbands doc did that was particularly helpful let me know please. Thanks for your support! I appreciate it. I was especially touched when you mentioned getting down on your knees and begging. When my husband finally agreed to treatment I cried so hard, food tears and thanked him profusely. It is such a feeling of desperation when you want them to get help and they don't understand the importance. One question I have for you since you have children, is how has your husbands adhd affected your children, besides the biological passing of it to two children? I feel like I sometimes have to parent my husband on being a parent and to stay attuned to our son, etc. Thats so tough. Thanks!!

What has gotten me through

What has gotten me through all these years...good question!  I don't think I've been terribly successful; after all, I'm here on this blog, reading Melissa's book, and looking for a therapist who specializes in ADHD.  Truth be told, I'm very frustrated and angry at this point, but Melissa's book is giving me hope.  I've watched others go through divorce, and it's something I really want to avoid if at all possible.  I wouldn't describe myself as tolerant and compassionate, but then, I don't know what it's like in a 'normal' marriage.  Maybe I'm tolerant and compassionate in comparison?!  I do pick my battles, for sure, and that occurs on a daily basis, and has become easier as my kids have gotten older.  I think I also basically sucked it up, and believed that my husband was the way he was, and wasn't going to change, and the only person who had control over my feelings was me.  I compensated for him, took on all the responsibilities around the house and with the kids, and focused mainly on keeping our family together.  I've worked outside the home on and off (right now, I work from home), and my husband's excuse for not helping out is that it is my job.  However, even when I was working outside the home, it was my job, so I view that as an excuse on his part.  It might sound strange, but my husband travels a lot, and I, for the most part, find it a relief when he was gone.  At least things are routine and orderly when he's gone.  When our kids were really young, the most difficult part was the few days after he returned home from a trip, because everything became chaotic until we settled into living a chaotic life.  By the way, I don't entirely subscribe to the theory that what someone else does or does not do should have no effect on your response.  Especially in a marriage---it takes two to tango, and if you really love the other person, you need to be mindful of the things you do and say that can be frustrating or hurtful.  I believe that theory when it comes to outsiders, or people with whom you rarely cross paths, but not when it comes to someone you are in a relationship with.  Anyway, what else did I do...I relied (and still do) heavily on family and close friends to help me out, especially logistically, with the kids.  Recently (over the last 2 or 3 years), I've made a point of doing some form of exercise for 1 hour every day.  I read a lot, and not just books about ADHD---books that take me out of my reality for a while.  I have forced myself to become independent - everything from doing home maintenance to driving kids to activities - but I think this has backfired in a way.  By becoming so independent, I feel that my connectedness with my husband has suffered.  At least I know that if our marriage does end in divorce, I can get by on my own---I pretty much do it now, anyway.  If I ask myself why I stay, it's because of the good things about my husband.  He makes me laugh (almost as much as he makes me cry), he is eternally optimistic (I can tend towards the negative, so we bring each other to a middle ground), he is a fantastic father (when he's in town, he loves being with the kids, especially the older they get), he can diffuse a difficult situation with one of our kids like nobody can, he has never had trouble holding down a well paying job, he is not abusive, and doesn't spend money like crazy (in fact, I would say he's annoyingly cheap sometimes!).  His mom is quite a meddler, but he has always stood by me, and never let her come between us.  As far as my husband's ADHD affecting the kids:  I think that the two who have ADHD and are well controlled on meds see the difficulties untreated ADHD causes.  They get frustrated with him when he says he's going to pick them up at a certain time, and then he shows up half an hour later with no good excuse.  They also get tired of asking him over and over again for help with something.  For my daughter without ADHD, I feel badly, because she has had to grow up very quickly, and I often see her compensating for her ADHD siblings, especially her twin brother.  I try my best to step in between when I see that happening, but I can only do so much at once, sometimes.  She also is more helpful and supportive to me, especially around the house, because she sees how frustrated I get with the lack of help around the house.  On the other hand, I've taught my kids a lot about work ethic!  I've definitely spent my fair share of time parenting my husband and our three kids---just the other day, we had an argument because he wouldn't stop playing XBox with our son and it was well past bedtime on a school night.  He actually said to me, after I told them to shut it off for the 3rd time, "But, we're almost done this mission!"  He sounded like a child, and I couldn't help but tell him so.  My reaction wasn't at all productive, so the next day, after I calmed down a bit, I told them both that there would be a new rule: no XBox after 9pm and max 30 minutes on XBox.  At least my husband realized I wasn't being unreasonable at that point.  Anyway, I don't think all of my rambling has exactly been inspiring for you, sorry!  I really am holding out hope that Melissa's book will help us turn things around, and I also hope I can find us a good therapist who specializes in ADHD.  I just hope that my husband is open to making some changes, that I can believe that those changes are sustainable, and that I can forgive and forget!

I am a survivor

I read threefifthsADHD comments and I felt like she was writing my life's story.  I have been reading this blog for several months and have never commented, but everything  she said about her husband and her situation is so like mine. I have been married for 52 years and I do not know how I survived.  He is ADHD, some OCD and bipolar.  I have always done everything while he hiked and took care of his body by diet and exercise.  This has been his obsession and I have had to cook according to his latest whim.  I decided long ago that he would not do anything and I could nag him and argue or do it myself.  Although I was very burned out, I still  loved him and kept on doing it and being nice and thinking that when things weren't great, it must be me.  Then last year I found out he has been having an emotional affair with another woman for 6 years.  This also happened 30 years ago and I was able to move past it, but after being responsible for everything and about killing myself all these years to find out he was spending his time and energy with someone else while I did the work almost killed me.  I had a muscle spasm in my heart because it upset me so much.  Wouldn't you  think at 70 years old and married 52 years, your husband would not run around on you?  He said it was because of his ADHD and he was not in his right mine, but wouldn't you think once in the 6 years he may have had one sane moment where he felt very guilty.  Well, he did go to counseling with a specialist in ADHD and he realizes he has ADHD and he is really turning things around.  He's helping me more and trying to change his behavior.  I am still very hurt by his actions.  He is a very good person and I know he loves me and he loves our family--2 sons and a daughter--but I just don't know if it is worth all the pain. 

He has lots of friends and everyone loves him because he is so much fun and has so many hobbies--bird watching, flower identification, hiking, mountain climbing, snow shoeing, etc. etc.  He has a very brilliant mind and is very interesting.  On the other hand, I feel like I have not even been able to have a life because I have spent it taking care of him, but I have 5 sisters who are the most wonderful friends I could ever have and are great supports.  My children are great, too.  I believe my daughter was severely affected by my husband's ADHD. She married someone with ADHD.  She was married to this crazy but funloving person for 13 years and she went into bad depression because she had to do everything, plus she was the main breadwinner. She just couldn't survive.  She is now married to a very nice young  man and she is very happy.  She knows her dad has these mental problems and gets angry with him because he will not take any drugs.  He is a real health nut and drugs are not in the picture.  He feels the therapist can do the job.  I believe she married someone like her dad because she did love her dad and admire him.  I just wonder if there is anyone  out there who has been married to someone with ADHD for 50 years and has survived.  We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and he was seeing another woman.  He thinks I live in fear that he will leave me, but sometimes I think I live in fear that he won't leave me.  I love him and my faith keeps me going.  But when I look  back on everything I have been thru I really do not know how I have survived.  Do I really believe he is changing?  I don't think it's possible, but he keeps telling me everything is different because he knows what's wrong and is seeing a therapist.  I have read all the books about ADHD and frankly, they make me feel like it is a hopeless situation. I know Melissa feels she has worked things out and she certainly has a good attitude, but I would like to hear from someone who has been married a very long time and their spouse really made long lasting changes.   Fortunately, I have a very close relationship with my children, my in-law children, and my grandchildren.  That keeps me going.  I also know that I could live fine alone and he would be the one who would completely go to pieces.  I am doing a lot better than I was last year and I am grateful for all the blessings I have had.  He has provided a good living for us and was a good father to the kids and I have had the kind of life I wanted with closeness to my children and their families.  I feel very loved and appreciated by them.  That really helps.  His therapist has diagnosed him as wanting to rescue everyone because he felt so bad for his mother being treated poorly by his father.  This woman that he was involved with has mental problems, too, and he claims he was trying to help her.  He also has several male friends who have big problems and he tries to solve them and gets emotionally involved in their problems and can't sleep because of that, so I believe she is probably right about what is motivating his behavior.  Anyway forgiveness, love, and faith have kept me going.  Good luck to the rest of you.  It is a good thing I did not know he had ADHD years ago because I may not have been brave enough to hang in there.


Your story is both inspiring

Your story is both inspiring and my worst nightmare. My husband had a physical affair in 2009, 12 years into our marriage. (it wasn't his first infidelity). This taps into my gravest fear, and that fear motivates me to want to leave more often than not. I am in a MUCH better place now than I have ever been, and I have detached from my husband and finally let him start making his own way in life without any input from me. He wasn't diagnosed until June of 2010 and is of the thinking that he can control his ADHD himself. He has tried meds twice, and recently stopped taking them for reasons I'm not real clear on. He sees no need for counseling, behavior therapy, or anything other than meds. When I read stories like yours, I really get that sad feeling that if I stay I am only prolonging the inevitable. I love him, just as you...and my faith does keep me going. Just when I want to give up, God has a way of poking me and saying "hang in there" and so I do. Since I started relying on myself for my own happiness, life has been much better for me. I TRULY feel born again...as if I look at the world through different eyes. I FINALLY get what they mean when they say "life is too short". We are only here for a short while, I don't want to spend my entire life being lonely and alone...and married...or worse, betrayed and devastated emotionally by affairs. I KNOW in my heart that he can succeed, and all of my prayers for him are asking God to help him reach his full potential and be someone he can be proud of.

I'm sorry I don't have much to offer in the form of advice, but you do have our support and you're not alone. I will keep you in my prayers, as I do all members here.


Sherri, I am not sorry I

Sherri, I am not sorry I stayed with my husband.  He is kind and generous and he makes me laugh with his wonderful sense of humor.  He is really trying very hard to do things right and wants me to give him another chance. Being older and with less energy, I just feel overwhelmed sometimes and like I cannot go thru this again.  I stayed in the marriage because having a whole family has been very important to me for my kids and grandkids.  I am letting a lot go and taking care of myself more now like you said.  God has nudged me, too, in so many ways that I know I am where I am supposed to be.  One of my devotions last week said "why do you want to sever something that God wants you to work through."  Lots of similar messages so I feel I have done the right thing in staying, but I do think I should  have taken better care of myself.  I come from a long line (and a generation) of women who are caretakers and I thought it was my duty as the good wife to do everything and to keep peace and make my husband happy.  He has been very affectionate and has written  me wonderful love notes and cards thru the years which I have reread and they all say how much he loves me and couldn't live without me.  He gets hyperfocused and when he sees "something shiny" he has to find out everything about it so he gets involved with situations that are not good.  He  has always thought he has the right to have any friendships with anyone he wants and that it would not affect me so he has had a lot of female friends.  His therapist has helped him see he has to avoid those situations that might be damaging to our marriage.  And I always thought that I should not restrict his freedom because  he would be unhappy.  But I do feel he has a lot of mental problems that makes life harder for him.  It all seems so simple to me but not to him.  I also wanted a Cinderella ending to our long romance, but I have realized that is not real life and my expectations were impossible to meet.  I just want to be the loving, kind, patient person God wants me to be and that I have always been.  I am happy and optimistic.  My children tell me that I am the rock that has kept us going.  I believe that is important.

My husband took meds for about 3 days and said they were causing him to lose his appetite and he is very skinny from all the excessive exercise he gets.  Luckily my husband loves to go to counseling and frankly I am glad she can listen to his problems and I don't have to. Life is so chaotic when he is home so when he goes to our cabin and gives me a break, I have a chance to have some peace and quiet.  I hope you are also able to take breaks.  I  have always managed okay thru the chaos but the affair threw me over the edge.  However, I figure God is taking care of me and will take care of me.  I certainly don't think I can depend  on my husband to take care of me although he swears he will spend the rest of his life caring for me since I took care of him all these years.  You are right about it being a rather lonely marriage.  Detaching is the only way to survive.  You will also be in my prayers.  Without God I could not make it.  It does help to know I am not alone.  I suppose the people who have had long successful ADHD marriages are not on this website.  We turn to these types of blogs when we are hurting.

Thank you for commenting.  It does help.

Kutac, I, too, can relate to


I, too, can relate to your story.  My ADHD husband and I have been married 30 years.  He was formally diagnosed about four and a half years ago when we were on the brink of divorce.  He has been the same way as yours, having all of the fun, caring more about other people and their problems and leaving all of the work for me and our daughter.  It has certainly taken it's toll on our family.  Like Sherri, I have learned to detach and live only for myself.  I just pray everyday for my husband and hope he can make the right choices along his way.  Welcome to the family and please know that you are not alone.

It sounds like he would be a

It sounds like he would be a really good candidate for meds. The tapping, picking fingernails, pacing are all ways to 'calm' their brains. Try not hold it against him or let it bother you, it really is necessary for him to do this to expend some of his nervous energy. I used to be very annoyed by my husband shaking his leg...but I had no idea he had ADHD and that it was something he needed to do. Has he ever considered how beneficial exercise might be to him? Even walking for 30-60 minutes a day might help tremendously with his nervous energy.

Try and take a deep breath and just relax and let him go through the process of being evaluated and see how things go. It is great that he's agreed to all of this, but no matter what happens you have to learn to live your own life and not let his dictate yours. It is very common for the ADHD to take over YOUR life to the point that you have no identity outside of it. It also causes the resentment and anger you're feeling towards him because it becomes very hard to separate them from the disorder. These truly are things he cannot help. Hopefully you can develop some compassion for him as he is taking a huge step in getting help...a LOT of men simply won't do this...or take meds and feel they are 'cured'...or feel there is nothing wrong with them period. He deserves huge kudos for that.

Keep us posted. You're not alone! ((HUGS))


Insane, tolerate, nagging

As an ADD dad, who has a wife of 18 years and is dealing with some of the same issues, an MFT is giving us guidance and repairing our marriage.  As you are still able to "nag", then there is still a level of caring to nag.  My wife no longer nags because she did not like the person she was when she nagged and has given up even caring due to frustration.  The list of items that bothers you seem to point to something deeper.  Nervous energy, pacing tics, etc, are his burdens and acceptance of those items may help.  Why do they drive you insane, cause anxiety and make you feel uncomfortable?  Tolerate sounds like the opposite of acceptance.  My wife told me just a few weeks ago, "I'm only coming home for the kids", because she is Angry and feels numb.  All these words are place holders for what is being felt by the non ADD spouse.  Feelings of abandonment, not being seen, not being heard and lack of participation are the internal struggles my wife is having to deal with from my past behaviors.  We are finding through the MFT that effective communication is so very important.  My wife feels deeply wounded from the promises I have made and never followed through with.  She feels embarrassed and rejected from my non participation in extended family events and our own family events.  I can say looking back, that a lot of these behaviors were ADD related and come across as being very selfish.  I got a wakeup call from my wife and took steps to fix myself.  I'm now on medication and see many of the errors of my past behaviors, so there is hope.  As your only 5 years into a life long relationship, this may be only the first hurdle of many that will affect your relationship.  Again looking back, effective communication may have  adverted the situation I'm currently in.

sullygrl's picture

Completely normal and understandable

It probably took you a while to get to the point where he would see someone for testing/medication? My story is very similar to yours.  married 8 years, issues came to a head about a year ago when I told him I couldn't deal with the behavior so we went to couples therapy and he went on his own to therapy. A couple of months ago I again said "I'm done" because we weren't getting anywhere (and wouldn't be able to get anywhere until he deals with this little thing called ADHD). Now he's looking into specific treatment and meds. Also not a spender/cheater/slob variety but still manages to annoy with the hyperfocus and constant dialog about interests du jour and unable to sit still, be quiet, stop interrupting etc.

Best thing I can say is take care of yourself and your child during this time. Make some boundaries and stick to them. (I'm still working hard on that one) Make quiet time for yourself, preferably in a room without your husband's tics to make you crazy, even if it's reading a book while your child naps in the same room with the door closed. "Shhhh baby's sleeping" might work better than "shhh you make me crazy".  I am fortunate to have a room of my own that I can shut the door to when needed. I also see my own therapist, originally for depression, but lately to deal with trying to keep the myself sane dealing with keeping the marriage together while husband sllllloooooowwwwwlllyyyy seeks treatment.

Do you have family close by? Friends that you can drop in for an afternoon away from the house? Can you drop off your little one to grandparents and go get your nails done? Massage? Take a long walk in the woods? Whatever is Zen to you? When you get that feeling of anxiety in your gut step away, tell him you're taking a break, and do so.

Best of luck to you!

Everyone. Thank you so very

Everyone. Thank you so very much for your insight. It has been helpful. I think staying focused on taking care of myself is the best advice. I do have great family support and friendships. Perhaps I should focus on them more. I do sometimes think about the codependency thing, and believe it likely transfers to being a spouse of an adhd'er. It sometimes seems an obsession and transferring focus back on myself and my son seems great advice and like a nice retreat, honestly. Sullygrl, it is amazing what just being in a different room can do for my mood and my nerves. Perhaps I am overly sensitive to his energy? Is there a way I can learn to be less sensitive? Thanks for your understanding and normalizing of my experience. @adhd spouse, does it not make senseto you that my husband's tics would make me feel anxious, uncomfortable, and irritated? These behaviors are an outward physical reminder that my husband is not well. I have been unable to just "accept" that these behaviors are normal, healthy, socially appropriate, healthy for my child to witness, comfortable at all for my husband to experience. Please help me understand why I should accept this? I acknowledge that this is his way to quiet his poor mind, that its a symptom, but I do not want to simply accept this forever. I want him to take care of himself and get well. His tormented brain is tormenting all of us in his path. It 's awful to be in a room with someone putting off so much nervous energy. Does that make sense? Just hoping for clarity on your post. Again, thank you so much for your input!
sullygrl's picture

overly sensitive?

Fed Up - are you overly sensitive?

Probably not...well not at first anyway. It's probably something that has built from a "hmmm, he can't seem to sit still" to a "oh my goodness can he REALLY not sit still?" lol.  There are degrees of everything. With some of the nervous tics, like tapping and pen clicking, it makes an audible distraction which is bound to drive the average person bonkers over time.  Leg shaking and the like? depends on if you're sitting on the couch and they're shaking you too, right?

As to being less sensitive, I have to say I've seen my own therapist and one of the big things we've worked on is not sopping up my husband's extra energies, be it just hyper, or anxious or angry and argumentative or whatever. Easier said than done, especially as some people tend to be more "spongy" on that front (I think people with higher empathy are more prone to feel a bit more overwhelmed by this type of behavior). We've had a lot of "it isn't yours to take on" discussions. Sometimes I even picture a "shield" of sorts, reflective to bounce it back at him. While I know I'm not actually making a shield it helps me redirect the focus.

Meditation, deep breathing, yoga-type excercises all work to make you calmer when it happens. When you start feeling that "he's agitated now I'm getting agitated" start taking in deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Or picture soft light. Whatever works for you.