I know what it’s like to be a non-ADD spouse and discover that you no longer like yourself. Many here have the same problem – they have struggled so long, and are so exhausted, that they can no longer find the core of who they are. They write things like “it’s pathetic that I stay in this relationship” and “I feel like I don’t matter at all” and “I feel self-loathing that I stay in my marriage” and wonder if there is something wrong with them. I would like to share with you my own story of how I moved from disliking myself back to “being me” as well as provide some ideas for change that may help you.
My husband shocked me out of my self-loathing and into action when I discovered he was having a very hot affair. Suddenly, the reason to stay in paralyzed, self-loathing mode (that things might change if I worked hard enough, even if that was destructive to me) was gone. I consulted Ned Hallowell about my situation and he gave me some really good advice, which I will now pass along to you. He said "Your kids are stable, resilient kids. You are a wonderful person in extreme pain. You should seek your own happiness. Don't define ahead of time what that happiness looks like. Don't link happiness with either "saving your marriage" or "getting out of your marriage". Just pursue what brings you joy. The rest of it will fall into place." He argued that I had been working to save my marriage for 10 years with little success – it was time to try something new.
So that's what I did. The first step was to look back into myself and remember who I had been when I was the happiest. The second step was to start BEHAVING like that person, and being that person again. I remembered I had been happiest when I was optimistic, outgoing, even-keeled, not angry. So I literally erased my anger (it hadn't gotten me anything, in any event), and started following my gut instincts. These included just hanging out with some old time friends who happened to be around, seeking support from others who cared about me, and talking with my husband in a clear (and not angry) way about my own needs and boundaries (see post on boundaries).
I made no assumptions that we would continue to be married, in fact I assumed we wouldn't - that the siren song of infatuated sex and a woman who “adored” him without any complicated past would lure him elsewhere. But somehow, by being true to my happier self I didn't resent that (my behavior had been part of his leaving, I knew) I just accepted that he controlled his fate, not me. This acceptance of him was freeing. I mourned that he might choose another, but finally acknowledged him as a person completely independent of me.
By not setting in my mind a pre-conceived view of the outcome I was surprised to find how naturally things developed. In a shockingly short period of time (a couple of days) I was my old self. I had nothing to prove, no marriage to change, no one to be responsible to besides myself (I knew that part of being me would be taking great care of my kids, so I wasn’t abandoning them with this change.) I mourned the loss of the marriage I had hoped I would have. I accepted my role in my husband’s abandonment of me (did I say that I had had an affair previous to his?) I ranted at the other woman in my head for a couple of days. Then I moved on.
My husband was shocked to see the change – suddenly the woman he had fallen in love with was back. I wasn’t bubbly, but I was strong and centered and kind, and knew deep inside that I would be okay – that life was about to get better, no matter in what direction it headed.
The feeling of suddenly being myself again was like having a huge weight lifted from me. I liked who I had been long ago, and it was freeing to like myself again. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my husband in my life, it was simply that I knew that I didn’t have to have him in my life to survive. It put me back, in other words, to where I had been before we had gotten married. I trusted that I would act the way I wanted to act – thoughtfully, kindly, able to voice my own needs without anger – because I knew that I was responsible for myself and no one else.
My story may end differently from yours. In my case, my change was so shocking and the need to resolve our situation immediately so obvious (we had 14 days before he was to take a romantic vacation with his girlfriend that would have ended our marriage) that my husband decided to try one more time. He will tell you that he had a big ball in the pit of his stomach as he made that decision, but ultimately he found the courage to do so. Because of my newfound “independence” I was able to more clearly (and nicely) talk about my needs and listen to his. I gave him space to grieve and get over his affair. (It took about 8 months total for him. Because I had had my own affair, I was able to understand with greater compassion just how hard it is to let go of the fantasy that is an affair and give him that time – which doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, only that I felt empathy towards his pain even as I suffered my own).
I also stopped trying to control his life. This was a huge deal for him, and matches with a comment I hear from other men with ADD. Once their spouse starts to let them be themselves again they feel more able and willing to do the work needed to be a better partner. The bottom line - we both knew we could leave. Acknowledging that your spouse is capable of leaving, if it is done in a positive way, tends to put your behavioral priorities in order. Be thoughtful, be responsible, tend your relationship with care.
So, returning to the idea of learning to like yourself again…here are my suggestions:
Be reflective. Look back at who you were when you liked yourself best. How did you behave? How did you treat yourself and others? Then start behaving that way again. YOU are control of you – no one else is.
Accept that just as you are responsible for you, so you are NOT responsible for your spouse. You are responsible for communicating your needs to your spouse (in a way in which he receives the information and understands it) but you can’t control his response. If you don’t like his response, respond to him in a way that is consistent with the good person you would like to be. He’ll get it eventually. If he doesn’t, you’ll leave knowing you were true to yourself.
Let go of anger. Forgive yourself and your husband. Ned Hallowell calls forgiveness “a gift we give ourselves” and I actually buy into this after all of my experiences. I was the first beneficiary of my forgiveness. My husband also benefited. If you need help thinking through this and figuring out what the steps are for forgiving yourself or others, read “Dare to Forgive” by Ned.
Detach yourself from the institution of marriage. It isn’t the marriage contract you are trying to save –it’s you. Sometimes you have to back up and look at what fulfills you. Don’t mistake me here – I’m not advocating for divorce. I’m simply saying that some people have more likelihood of being happy (and maybe even staying married as a result) if they get out from under the “pressure” that the idea of “saving my marriage (at any cost)” can bring. Some find that “giving up on my marriage” can help them erase their anger. It can also provide a sort of “clean slate” from which you can recover. If your marriage won’t bring you happiness it reinforces that YOU must bring you happiness.
Be proactive and make a plan. You will feel better about who you are if you actively work to make your situation a better one. People do this differently. Some find a counselor, others read books, others initiate conversations with their spouses. Some set a time frame, some put together separation contracts or start mediation. But sitting around and feeling as if someone is just waiting to pile on more problems is no way to feel better about yourself.
Seek help from a professional. A therapist, counselor or good friend can help you start refocusing on your strengths.
Exercise. Your mood will benefit from the chemicals released in regular, aerobic exercise and you’ll feel good about progress you make getting into better shape, too. Exercise is a great way to fight depression and anxiety.
If you have had an experience in which you’ve moved from self-loathing to self-love, or if you know of a good resource for people in need, please let us know.
- MelissaOrlov's blog
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Your timing could not have been any better
Submitted by holdontomyheart on
I find myself struggling between finding myself again and wondering if my husband will seek the help that is needed. We go thru episodes where he is unhappy and not sure what direction to go in, does he want to be married or not.
There is a truly wonderful man and although he has been treated for Add for several years , I see signs of untreated depression. He will not seek treatment for this . He says I am the only person that has said anything and that no one at work thinks he has a problem. He shuts down and closes me out and then a few days later we are ok and he is happy and friendly. I told him that his not wanting to particpate in life makes me sad. I am tired of doing things by myself. He tells me he is not responsible for my unhappiness.
I am going to read this and post it and make changes to become the person I was and find happiness once again.
Submitted by arwen on
I've been through so much of what you describe. My husband is also a wonderful man, who did not want to get treated for his depression either. (My husband's depression is seasonal, he suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as ADD.) And he also remarked that "no one at work" thought he had any real problem (aside from being disorganized, which he was notorious for at work -- but since he got his work done, correctly and on time, nobody really cared). I had one great advantage that you probably don't -- I worked at the same company, in the same building complex, as my husband. I would see him interacting with his colleagues from time to time, and I could tell that all was not as smooth as he thought between them, he just was oblivious to their annoyance or discomfort with his behaviors. Fortunately for me, at one point his boss asked me if there was anything going on in my husband's personal life that was bothering him, because he'd been acting a lot more irritable in recent weeks (one of the manifestations of my husband's depression). I mentioned this very carefully to my husband, not while we were having any kind of argument or anything, just sort of a "how about that?" kind of conversation, but then observed that maybe I *wasn't* the only one who noticed anything amiss. It shook my husband up to think that people he worked with might be seeing a negative behavior that he wasn't even aware of. Also, at home, our kids were in their late teens, and they also noticed his depressive behaviors. Normally, they didn't say anything to him, but when I suggested that he check with them, and with a few co-workers (who I had seen him acting this way towards), he decided that maybe he wasn't on quite as even a keel as he'd thought. At this point I was able to get him to discuss with his doctor whether he should be treated for this as well as his ADD. The doctor added an antidepressive that he adjusts the dosage for seasonally. Not only has it made a big difference to me and our family, but there are no longer questions about irritability or other negative behaviors at work. My husband himself said he could tell the difference in how he felt -- that while he was depressed, he couldn't see it, but with the medication it was incredible how much better he felt. As a result, his work at the office has improved so much in the last several years (now that we have gotten his dosages "tweaked" correctly) that he received one of the highest ratings in the department last year.
It is hard to get anyone to corroborate your perception of his depression, but I urge you to find someone he sees frequently enough to provide a valid observation, and enlist their aid in getting your husband to at least discuss it with his treatment provider.
Your husband is right that he is not responsible for your unhappiness. At the same time, it's perfectly understandable that because you care for him, you would like him to have a rich and fulfilling life, and you would like to share it with him. I know it can be very hard, but if you can find a way to create your own happiness and also continue to work with your husband on these difficulties, it is truly worth the effort.
My prayers are with you!
non-ADD spouse independence
Submitted by arwen on
Although my ADD spouse did not have an affair, his *increasing* unwillingness to deal appropriately with some of the key issues that affected our relationship led me to the same kind of point after 30 years of marriage (and 10 years of working in knocking-myself-out trying-to-make-it-work self-destructive mode myself). In our case the "declaration of independence" involved my telling him that I wanted a separation as a result, and I asked him to leave. I wasn't angry, I just couldn't cope with him any more, and I felt that without time away from him, our marriage was doomed. This was a huge shock to my husband (although that had not been my purpose -- I simply couldn't endure things the way they were any longer.) Like you, I didn't assume we would stay married, and while we were separated, I was able to reinforce my independence. During our separation, my husband continued his meetings with his ADD counselor, and based on his recommendations, we established a formalized arrangement of meetings several times a week (not with the counselor present! just my husband and I). My husband discovered that although he certainly could manage life on his own (which he had never doubted), his life without me was considerably less rich in quality. We were separated for a little less than a year (a very very difficult period, since my husband was very upset with me for several months). We didn't stop the formalized meetings when he finally moved back since they had proved to be very worthwhile. It took a lot of hard work for several more years, but now we have a much stronger relationship and my husband has woken up to the reality that he'd rather deal with the issues that affect our relationship than scrap the relationship. I'm not sure I would say I exactly like myself better, but the more independent person I went back to being is certainly easier for me to live with, and that is definitely a plus for me!
I must say, however, that it was easier to take this kind of risk with our marriage than it might have been at an earlier point, because we no longer had children at home. It's a much tougher call to decide that things have come to a breaking point, when it's not just between husband and wife, but when kids are affected too.
kids involved in separation
Submitted by tonyafraser on
I think it is a totally different situation when kids are involved. It is devastating for kids when parents separate or divorce. All the research says that. But I am setting a terrible example of marriage by constantly being frustrated and angry at my add-spouse.
I also think it would be somewhat easier for my husband to have an affair and then I can leave him instead of this slow, agonizing process. His "affair" has been work and other commitments for himself which is just as lonely. But the other commitments make him look like a fabulous human being. Mission work, church work, etc.
I hate this, it's a nightmare of a way to live.
Submitted by tarjavj on
Thank your for this wonderful piece of advice. I will print it out and keep with me. I am in this situation at this very moment and feel very hurt and angry. My husband of 14 years is in a process of entering an affair with a women that works in same company with him. According to him, nothing sexual has happened yet, but kissing and holding hands etc. But he is seriously considering to leave me. We have 2 wonderful daughters and I have really tried to save our marriage for them and for myself as well.
We just came back from 3 week holiday together and I was really trying to work on our relationship, although he was constantly in contact with this other woman by sending emails and talking on the phone and sending sms. These messages were not just simple "hello, how are you type of messages". I saw few of them on his mobile and they were kind of "cannot wait until you are free" and love you so much etc.
Tell me how can I get to this point, not to care anymore if we are together or not? I find it so difficult, but I am not willig to compromise myself either.
Beginning of Affair
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
This is a full blown as soon as he starts throwing around words like "love" and kissing and holding hands. Anything that wouldn't be considered standard, businesslike conduct. So if he tries to tell you it's okay because he hasn't had sex, he's kidding himself and trying to kid you.
Perhaps the hardest thing to come to grips with is that if your husband is bent upon having an affair there is simply nothing you can do about it. The fact that he is willing to not only tell you about it, but continue to openly contact this person while you are on vacation is something like throwing down the gauntlet, it would seem to me. You have only two options right now - you can "accept" that he is about to go in a direction over which you have no control...or you can fight it. If you fight it, you might make progress or (more likely in my opinion) simply make things worse for yourself. Better to accept that he is an individual who will make his own choices (and have to live with their ramifications, some of which he may not like), and start focusing on your own choices. Your question about getting to a point where you don't care isn't quite the right question to ask. The right question to ask is "how can I get to a point where I understand/feel that I am better off being true to myself?" It is your response to his cruelty that shows who you are (and there is no "right" way to respond - you must find what is "you".) It always hurts when your relationship is at this point, and even if you accept that you can't control your husband's behavior it will still hurt...and you will still care that your relationship isn't working. But the fact is that he is actively hurting you right now and you need to emotionally protect yourself as best you can. You can't "work on our relationship" by yourself - he has to be participating and right now it doesn't sound as if he is doing that. In my opinion, it's time to start acting on not compromising yourself. You can't do anything to repair your relationship until he is out of the affair, which means that even if you are interested in pursuing continuing your marriage (if that's possible) right now you need to have a different structure. You can change your physical structure - for example, asking him to move out, (certainly fair) so his behavior doesn't hurt you so much. You can also change your psychological structure - agree to talk with a therapist to work through feelings, set up meetings with each other, lay down ground rules and, importantly, start doing some things to help your mental health (number one recommendation - start exercising hard at least 4 times a week...it will really help you get through this). You should also talk about how your finances will work now. Certainly you shouldn't be asked to pay for any dinners or weekends he might be spending with his girlfriend.
My suggestion is to look deep into yourself and see who you are right now...and who you want to be. You need to be explicit with your husband - "you are having an affair - emotional and physical - and you are knowingly hurting me. Here are my boundaries..." and then tell him what they are. Every person's boundaries are different, so I can't tell you where you will come out on this - the issue is remaining true to who you are (first) and understanding that the only behavior you control is your own (second). You have to make choices that square with who you want to be because you will live with yourself for the rest of your life, whether or not you are also living with him.
While I was able to understand my husband's affair and empathize with it, once the affair was out in the open I wasn't able to square living with a person who would knowingly hurt me and still tell me he loved me - the actions and words seemed out of sync. I told him point blank that if he took the vacation he was planning then our marriage would be over. This, of course, infuriated him. He felt I was "threatening" him. But I told him that it wasn't a threat. I simply wouldn't be able to continue to be married to a man who felt so little for my feelings that he would rub my face in a vacation with another woman - and take it knowing that I knew about it (and had to suffer through those days). It would make my "marriage" and our relationship a joke. So I was simply telling him what the outcome of his decision would be on my end. I did this very calmly, because it had taken me a few days to figure out this is where I stood and I could remain calm because the decision had nothing to do with trying to hurt him (everything to do with knowing my outer limits). Again - your choices may be different (my husband made a completely different set of choices when he was confronted with an affair that I had - choosing to "live it out" and let it run its course, which it did. Both approaches were the right ones because they worked for the person who had to live with them...) One of the posters below mentions that they got a separation over an affair and what that did for her. Note, however, that her husband was willing to participate in ongoing conversation with her.
None of these choices are easy, but perhaps a business-like conversation about how you will now be living your lives would be helpful. One book that was helpful for me (earlier stage) was "Do I Stay or Do I Go?" which, among other things, talks about ways to structure separations. Another really good one is "Too Good To Leave, Too Bad to Stay".
You may find that this "business-like" conversation goes a long way towards helping you disengage emotionally and resolve some of your feelings.
I send you a virtual hug and hope that your situation improves soon - whatever that may mean in your case.
two similar titles
Submitted by RowdyD on
Hi, Melissa---There are two books with similar titles: Should I Stay or Go, and Do I Stay or Do I Go? The first, by Lee Raffel, offers guidance for what she calls "controlled separations." The second, by Dianne Occhetti, is apparently out of print and there's little information about it. Could you clarify which book you mean?
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
the raffel book.
Is this still a good book recommendation?
Submitted by ArasHF on
Is this still a good book recommendation? It was published in 1998, and I'm just wondering if there is a similar recommendation up to date. I couldn't even find this book on audio and I'm horrible at reading paper books. Just wondering. Thanks!
Wonderful piece written here, Melissa
Submitted by Soldier On on
I'm new to the blog, Melissa. Just reading through occasionally. This self disclosure is such a compassionate, great piece of writing. It gives such impacting guidance for a really difficult point in time in these marriages. I love your strength and the way in which you were able to use your grief from your own affair to empathize with what your husband needed to do. I am much older than you, but I know I don't have that kind of maturity. I really have to work at it...going back and forth. Great piece and good guidance.
"...Being True to Myself"
Submitted by Mariposa on
I have not visited here for quite some time now. Perfect timing that I received an email notifying me that there was a response to my old post regarding "Learning to like myself again". Just read Melissa's response to Beginning of Affair... and realized I needed to hear what she wrote. It has been a year since I moved out of my ADD partner's place; many unhappy memories are back as I remember how bad things got that lead to that last straw and made me move out. When I finally found the strength to leave- I thought a miracle happened as he started to plead for me to give him another chance.... promised that he would do the work for the relationship, promises made that he will change, realizations that made him even seek help from the AMEN Clinic (not cheap). He is actually now on medication... consistent most of the time EXCEPT when he wants to go out and drink and hang out at his friend's bar- that is when he will skip his pills b/c he knows he is not to mix it with alcohol or drugs. He does this less frequently than before, but still does it mostly when he is depressed or down about something. I have begged him that he needs therapy to help him learn positive coping skills- but he says he doesn't have the time. I forgot to mention that during the beginning of our reconciliation- and the making of new promises, he also grabbed the opportunity to start his own business (a long time dream of his) I have to say that he has made a lot of positive changes, controls his anger a bit more, tries to communicate. But a year later... he has not yet started therapy. AMEN Clinic doctors told him a year ago that he needed to quite his second job b/c his brain needed the rest and sleep. So, needless to say - the start of a new business did not help.. During this last year- I still have had to deal with real mean temper tantrums, his cruel words still happens whenever his anger got out of his control, aggressive defensiveness is still one of the worst to deal with if you disagree with he says or feels that I don't support him if I express a different opinion. It has come to a point these past few days that I am now questioning again "when will I get to that point again when I feel I don't care and strong enough to leave again" I am recently seeing that he has been slowly slipping back to his old ways... shutting me out, increase moodiness, even stopped saying sorry. Then Melissa mentions that its not about getting tired enough...it is about being true to yourself.... I recently had the guts to tell him that I have been seeing his old ways resurface, but he has not reacted. There have been days that he just ignores me, does not respond to my emails or texts, I have pleaded to him to talk to me, but his excuse is that he is too tired and doesn't want to fight. He told me several times before that its not his ADHD- he knows that he makes conscious decisions. This was difficult for me to hear b/c it just confused me more... it actually made it easier for me to forgive the hurts if I could blame it on his ADHD...What hurt more was the thought "so if it is not the ADHD, then he hurts me on purpose"... I don't know what to do now... b/c another point Melissa made in this comment that hit me : " You can't work on our relationship alone". I had attended a group session for Partners of ADHD - only ONCE... I was looking forward to it helping me stay strong in my decision to give the relationship another chance. But I ended up crying and never coming back b/c each one of the ladies told me at some level "you don't have kids with him" , "you are not married to him", "get out while you can", "you will never have that partnership that normal relationships have when you are with a person with ADHD". One comment that stuck with me was...."you need to be prepared that you will always be alone in the relationship".... I think now, they were right.? I am trying to be true to myself that I cannot go through hell again BEFORE he realizes that he needs to make changes again....only when I am completely gone. I keep telling myself that I don't have control if he chooses to be mean or treat me how he does---- when I know that he knows right from wrong. He displays this well when he chooses to be nice to his customers even when he does not feel like it. Its all "conscious choice not all ADHD? Now I am confused again... However, I am trying my hardest to be true to myself and what I need... and it hurts like hell trying to make a decision to leave someone you love in order to love yourself first. I think I just gave myself a venting session - thank you for this safe place.
HI, I am sorry for your pain.
Submitted by tonyafraser on
I am sorry for your pain. I noticed you said you love him. I actually don't know how I feel about my husband anymore. I think it's helpful that you know how you feel about him.
I don't think you can work on the relationship alone. I remember reading that ADHD people sometimes need ultimatums. This sounded really harsh to me, but I think if I would have used ultimatums right from the beginning, I wouldn't have all these horrible memories of loneliness and betrayal.
I was thinking of something that might be helpful. What if we tried to move on from the past and look at the immediate present situation. If we can see it clearly, we can simply decide what we will and will not put up with. As of right now. If they can't meet these new needs, then it has to end.
That seems simple, but I have tons of triggers that make the past come flooding back. I think this is my main problem. I don't know how I feel about my husband and almost every situation has a trigger, especially with a lot of the behaviors not changing since they don't follow through with treatment.
I think it's a horrible way to live. I noticed I get really upset and then my husband starts sugar-coating everything. Then I relax and we go through these cycles over and over.
But if we can decide what we will and will not put up with, it might clarify the issues.
I hope that helps!
being true to yourself
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
Being in a relationship with a person who has ADHD does NOT mean you will always be alone. It does mean that you need to negotiate how to make sure you attend to each other. My husband takes the time to tell me he loves me every day - that's one of his ways of letting me know I'm not alone. And if I start to feel alone, I just tell him, and he immediately pays attention. Don't let those women in the support group creat your reality.
YOU should create your reality by letting your husband know that it is NOT OKAY for him to be mean or ugly with you - you deserve respect. You can share your feelings with him about your fear that things are slipping back to where they were - do it gently, but firmly. Something like "I am feeling anxious these days because they remind me too much of when our relationship was so difficult. I'm not willing to go back to that time, so I would like to talk with you about my feelings and what seems to be triggering them." If he won't engage in a specific conversation about it, then in real time point out those times when he's being mean or disrespectful with something like "I'm sorry, but I'm unwilling to be treated like that. When you're ready to have a constructive conversation with me I would be delighted to talk with you. Until them, I'm going to leave the room. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm simply getting myself out of the way of your behavior." To be clear, you don't control how he treats you, but you DO control your response to how he treats you. Walk away from him when he's mean, while reinforcing the positive moments.
His response to this will initially be fury (how dare she?) but if you are consistent then he either will start to figure it out and engage productively, or else you'll get the answer to that question in the back of your head.
Submitted by mayhem on
I read this article at the right time- thank you! I, too, have become angry. I'm so filled with anger and resentment that I thought my head would pop today from it. I notice that I have lost myself along this way and I want to go back to the old me - who I really am. My kids deserve to see that person. I deserve to see that person again. I have already begun to do so and I didn't know. I've been going out and about with my children, taken up a new hobby that I'm excited about, looked up dance classes that I've wanted to do, applied to several jobs. Now all I have to do is let go of my hubby. Let go and let God, as they say!
Anger...it's taken over my life!
Submitted by Dazed_and_Confused on
I really appreciate the message written by Melissa because I just had a meeting with our counselor last week where I said that I am angry about the last 6 years of our marriage and I don't know how to deal with it, where to put it, how to let it go.
My husband has ADD to the nth degree, and without knowing this, we've had a very very bumpy six years of marriage. I can recall screaming, begging, pleading, plotting, scheming, trying, asking, planning, devising, suggesting, requesting that my husband "come to the table" and take ownership of our relationship and all of the tasks and responsibilities of running a marriage. He has been completely in the dark and checked out in terms of the things that need to be taken care of. He spends all of his attention and free time on the computer, or rather computers...because one computer to pay attention to is not enough. He typically has a few applications, movies, video games and other distractions running all at the same time. In the meantime, I am the one running around in the background who even knows who our insurance agent is, who knows and negotiated the terms of our home loan, who negotiated with the car salesman, who knows when our son's nect vaccinations are due and who plans for and prepares taxes each year. Did I mention that I also prepare a financial plan for at least 3-4 paychecks down the road on an ongoing basis so that he can plan his money accordingly?
I can't say that my husband doesn't do anything, because through screaming and blowing up like St. Helens multiple times, he now on board with taking care of the kitchen at night, taking the garbage out and the bins to the curb on garbage day, and taking the dog out. He's even started to take care of laundry other than his own. The one saving grace about ADD is that my husband is extremely tied to routines (but don't try to break routine!) so his laundry was part of the routine, I just got him to do some of the 50 loads of everyone else's laundry while doing his!
However, none of his participation in household duties came about without a lot of painful pulling, screaming, pleading (all of the measures described above) on my part. Each accomplishment is something that I can not look at with joy and greatfulness because he's helping out and is engaged, but rather I resent what I had to do to get him there! Now that he has resently been diagnosed with ADD and is getting help from a phsychiatrist and a Dr for meds, he is now the wounded victim and according to him, I need to give him a break and be patient! Um, what about me!!!!!! Because he has this diagnosis now, it appears that his slate is wiped clean and I am left being an angry, wretched B#@!*. Even while he's getting all this help, I recently uncovered an Amex bill that was racked up with all kinds of personal expenditures...lunch, iTune charges, tech gadgets...whatever popped into his mind, apparently he bought for himself. The reason this is so extremely disturbing to me is that we agreed, and had discussed often, that the Amex would not be used for personal purchases anymore. He agreed and assured me througout the month that he was not using it for such purchases. Well, $445 dollars later in gadgets and lunches, all he had to say was "Sorry" and look at me the same way he does when he gets "caught" doing everything else he swears he won't do but does. Then, when he came home later he lashed out at me angrily about making him feel bad and guilty about what he had done. The catch is that I thought about how I would confront him about this and I decided to take a non-blaming or scolding approach. I was shaking I was so upset (I believed him when he said he wasn't using the card anymore) so I decided to tell him how it made me feel to find this out. I said I was scared for our financial future, that I was confused and hurt. In the end, I was still the bad guy.
Six years of this has widdled me down to a mere shadow of my former self. Angry? Oh yeah! If I stay, it could be the death of me, if I leave, I am so destroyed that who would want a washed up, overweight, angry and beat down woman such as myself? I look at pictures of myself when we were dating and I just see someone who is so happy, glowing skin, nice hair, fresh faced and physically fit.
Was I put on this earth to solve his problems at the expense of my own self? No. Did I take vow at marriage for better or for worse? Yep. Do we have a sweet 4 year old who I don't want brought up in a broken home? Yep. Did I really need to read Michelle's message above...on this day....the day after finding the Amex bill? Oh yes. Now, my list is made, my mantra has been formed. Wish me luck. I'm off on a journey to find me, the gal who I knew when she was 33 and am going to find out who she is again at 39.
Submitted by rapidly aging on
Dear Dazed and confused,
I am you in some parallel universe. I could have written the above write down to the 39 years old now. Thank you for being so honest, it is like you read my mind and verbalized it. I see you wrote this 6 weeks ago, I'd be interested to hear how you are doing now. I have a college degree but am a stay-at-home-parent with a 4 and 6 year old. I also was the thin, overachieving, active type pre-babies and am now, just as you described above. I have literally aged 20 years in my 10 years of marriage.
To be honest, I feel paralyzed by two things which I cannot control and they keep me in this awful marriage.
1. He is from X country that did not sign the Hague convention and has threatened to run off with my kids there if I divorce him.
2. Even if he stayed here (pretty impossible, since I do all the bills, insurance (i could totally relate to you), etc...would I want to hand my kids off to him for a weekend and whatever skanky chick he is sure to find within a year?
Please update us and any advice would be appreciated.
A Note for "rapidly aging"
Submitted by carolina on
I really, really hope that things work out for you, but, just to be on the safe side, why not visit a lawyer--or, if you can't afford one, try a law school? Such institutions often have students who are willing to provide some free legal counsel. Anyway, it is always best to know your rights and how to protect them, especially when children are involved.
Just a thought.
How are you now?
Submitted by Dazed and confused on
Just wondering how you are now after all that. It would be nice to see how someone like you "turned out" because your post rang home.
I am right there too
Submitted by tonyafraser on
I wish you luck and let me know how it goes. I also see old pictures and it makes me so sad. I was beautiful. I was happy and earned a college degree and escaped a violent home. Only to run to a person with add who showered me with attention and love. Which ended when we got married. He is a work a holic. He makes lots of money very well respected. Tons of charity work. But totally unreliable when kids were little. I was left alone with little kids constantly. His family also has adhd and they have been a nightmare.
I have been scapegoated by his friends and family because he appears so well. I am a mess. I am actually too tired to pursue anything. I am only able to do the daily grind and am prone to completely blowing up at this point. Ironically, I did 4 years of fertility work to have my 2 kids and adopted my 3rd. I set out to be super-mom. But I can't keep up with Mr. Adhd and have fallen apart despite 10 years of medication and doctors. I was even overmedicated for awhile.
I am on a very low dose medication now for depression and refuse to see any more doctors.
I really don't know how to recover. When I look at him and think it might work, I get a trigger and all the old memories flood back. I don't trust him based on how cruel he has been in the past. He used to even write long emails at me if I tried to interfere with his life about how horrible I was. And I had infants. I have to grieve that this second chapter in my life 20-40's has been as bad as the first 18 years of my life. But now I'm just an overweight, angry mess. I've noticed the more I stay in this relationship the worse I look and feel.
I am interested in the controlled separation book, I'll have to get that.
I hope you do well, I wish you the best.
Containing the ADD
Submitted by melissa s on
I have read, read read so many posts but recently have just "got it". I too am the non ADD spouse who for the last 10 years have put out the financial, physical and emotional fires unmanaged ADD symptoms can cause to the sufferer and those who live with and love them. I have newly joined all the spouses who are ready to give up the battle and live happier, better lives. My epiphany: Just because your spouse has a disability doesn't mean your life HAS to be destroyed. Here is what I came up with that helped me regain my happiness and sanity. (maybe it'll help someone)
1. Don't let your spouses anger, frustration, or chaos ruin your day/evening. Feel sorry for them, tell them it must be hard to be so frustrated and confused...then move on with your day (work, school, fun with your kids, run/walk/gym etc.). Their anger is about them NOT ABOUT YOU. Let me put it this way - if you weren't around, they would still be confused, frustrated and angry.
2. I looked around my house and made a list of what bothered me most. For me it was the unmowed lawn, peeling house paint, and tools left out (dangerous for my 3 children). I decided we (my kids and I) would be responsible for most of the upkeep of the house together. Now, I like pulling into my driveway after work and seeing pretty flowers, a mowed lawn and neat house. It's - NICE.
3. Take over the finances. Despite wanting to equally share responsibilities in our finances, I realized my husband really lacked the focus to maintain interest in this. I still wish otherwise, but there are no more surprise $bills and we have a healthy savings. We both get cash allowences for the week. I get the feeling of SECURITY in return for my efforts.
4. I gave him the spare (guest) room and bathroom to live how he well - lives. His mess, clothes, papers, and filth can pile up. I don't feel responsible for it. I just close the door and FORGET ABOUT IT. If he can't find clean socks - it's HIS PROBLEM.
5. One blogger suggested using paper plates and utensils - genius. Helped alot. When I get tired of this, the kids and I eat off the real stuff and save his dinner on a paper plate for whenever he may come in from work. He reheats it, and when he is done, throws it away.
6. I started painting again. I joined a running club. I got really involed with my childrens' swim team. In short, I stopped waiting for him to notice me, or make plans with us. He can join if he wants to or not, we HAVE FUN ANYWAY.
Issues still remain in our marriage but they just don't effect me so profoundly anymore. For me, the revelation is this: I don't have to cure my husbands ADD traits, but simply contain them in a way that does not effect our communal life so negatively. I'm pulling myself and kids out of the chaos with or without him!
Now that I've regained my sanity - Melissa, how do we (I) go about rekindling the warmth/affection in my own heart for my husband? How after what you went through - did you go about softening that "heart of stone" feeling?
just an observation
Submitted by brendab on
In your second point you write about making a list of what bothers you most.
You might be able to use that idea a little differently to rekindle your affection for your husband. You could make a list of things you remember that make you feel loved and cared for and ask him to give you those things again because you want to rebuild your affection for him.
Submitted by vcalkins on
I love your attitude.
rekindling affection with ADD and SAD
Submitted by arwen on
melissa s, "containing the ADD", as you put it, is very close to what I did with my spouse and his ADD. And I don't have a "heart of stone" feeling at this point. But I also haven't able to get back to the kind of warmth and affection I used to have, either.
I've lost some kind of innocence or something -- I can't play anymore, either. I don't mean I can't stand to sit down and play a card game or board game -- but I don't get the same kick out of it that I used to, it's just a way to kill time. Going to an amusement park seems just inane. Going to the movies is mostly just ok, although once in a great while there is one I actually enjoy. There are any number of things that I do that I like doing, but I literally don't know how to have fun anymore, I'm unable to lose myself in the moment and just be happy. I feel that my inability to have fun and my inability to rekindle the warmth and affection for my husband are connected. My sense is that I've felt for so many years that there has to be at least one grown-up in the family, and since I can't ever count on it being my husband, I'm "it" -- all the time -- I have gotten used to being in 100% 24/7 ultimate responsibility mode, so that now it actually takes a conscious effort to relax. (I don't exactly sleep well, either.)
I'm sure this situation could improve but for the fact that my husband also has SAD, which ironically doesn't make him depressed but rather affects his ADD behaviors. This means we have an annual cycle where in summer his ADD symptoms are quite tolerable, fall they get worse, winter they're terrible, spring they get better. I definitely can't relax in fall, winter or spring, he isn't functioning very well during those times. I think I could afford to relax in summer, but I'm so exhausted from the previous nine months that all I end up doing is "recharging my batteries" for the next nine months. We've tweaked my husband's meds about as much as we can, I think, over the past several years, (and he also uses a full-spectrum lamp seasonally), and these things have helped a lot to limit the problems with this cycle, but not enough for me to get past this last hurdle in dealing with his ADD.
How do I break through this barrier? It won't help me to make a list of the things that I remember that make me feel loved or cared for and ask him to do that again, as another poster suggested -- he couldn't possibly deal with that from November to April. Because my husband's ADD is hormonally linked and was in abeyance when we met and married, nor did he show any SAD symptoms until his 40's, he's not the same man I used to know now anyway, except in summer. I'm sure that for me, instead, the key is something like selectively relaxing. The only problem is, I have absolutely no clue how to go about doing it!
rekindling of afftection
Submitted by melissa s on
arwen you have a good insight. There are times where the ADD symptoms seem to get worse, winter time/holidays are very typical of my spouse.
I have been thinking about the apathy in my marriage. I realize it's because I still feel resentment that I shoulder most of the day to day responsibilities of running our lives. He does do chores ...it's just his list is much smaller. Containing the ADD and minimizing it's impact on my personal life and that of our children has helped tremendously.
Here is my thinking. I would like to recieve some of the wonderful enthusiasm I know he has for things he is interested in. Day to day things just aren't his style..... so what if I plan intensely exciting experiences to do together, bond together over?
Sky diving, scuba diving, biking across the White Rim Trail UT, white water rafting.....I like all these things too and we'd have a fun exciting experience together outside our normal everyday routines. Perhaps that's key - outside of the normal everyday grind and that invovles physical participation (not to mention fun).
rekindling affection: I agree
Submitted by ajr on
I think there is merit to some of your comments.... I find me and my ADD husband get caught up in the daily grind of 2 jobs, 3 teens and maintaining our lives, schedules etc... we get too tired to have fun...It becomes another chore.....Well actually, I would have to be the one to plan everything, so I lose interest and it just becomes another thing to plan on my list of TO Do's
BUT, when we have gone away to do things together, day trips, weekends, getting away from the daily grind, it often helps..It does help us to rekindle a little glow somehow, so I think there is merit here...
All you can do is try..Thanks for the idea....I' ll make the effort to plan a family outing this weekend.
wish i could join his fun
Submitted by arwen on
It sounds like you and your husband really do have fun -- it sounds fun to me, anyway! Unfortunately I have a chronic leg condition that seriously curtails many of the more physical kinds of activities. My husband and I used to enjoy travel, lake sailing, skiing, mountain biking and hiking, but I can only do the biking and hiking now to a very limited degree, and even when I do them, I have to be so careful of my leg that it takes a fair amount of the fun out. Distant travel is also problematic with my leg (and right now we can't afford it either, since I lost my job earlier this year), and anyway these days travel with him is more of a challenge than fun -- when he gets out of his routine for more than a day or two, his brain goes "on vacation" as well and he seems to lose all ability to think. We still can sail, but our opportunities where we live now are limited. And just in general, we are not in the prime of life anymore (close to retirement) and can't physically manage some of the things we used to. We actually did do some skiing this past winter, and we each had a good time, but since my husband is a very good skier and I'm not, he doesn't want to ski with me, it's too boring for him, he wants to go on the black diamond slopes that I would break my neck or something on -- so the only way we were together was that we were on the same mountain, and I just don't find it as much fun when I'm doing it alone.
Also, my husband isn't the hyperactive kind of ADD. His idea of fun is reading an exciting new techno-thriller or sci-fi stories, or investigating new gadgets or electronics on the internet. The former can't really be done together and I've learned from experience that if I express any interest or enthusiasm for the latter, he persuades himself that I would like to have them (even when I make very pointed statements like, "That's neat, but I would have no use for it," or "That's cool, but it's way too expensive.") and ends up spending our money buying the doggone things (and most are not cheap).
But you have given me food for thought. I think you're probably right about the physical participation component (all those endorphins!), I need to figure out what we *can* do that might fit the bill -- bowling? ping pong? multiplayer video games? (our kids left their video game sets behind when they moved out, I guess these days the "hot" games are all interactive on the internet) -- or maybe we should take ballroom dancing lessons, neither of knows how to do that but he might be up for it.
Thanks for *your* insights, melissa!
Submitted by Sueann on
I sounds like we have a lot in common. My husband is energetic and loves to hike and swim. I can barely walk due to chronic orthopedic problems and a car accident. He knew this when we got married and said he loved me and didn't mind, but I think he feels shortchanged. If we could exercise and "play" more together, it would be better.
In addition, I have to depend on him more than I'd like to do household tasks that are too difficult for me.
...speaking of holidays...has
Submitted by carolina on
...speaking of holidays...has anyone had the experience of a spouse/partner simply becoming available (emotionally and/or physically) during the holidays? It's happened to with my ADHD fiance for the past two years. His decision that he simply couldn't bear the celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas left me on my own--and very, very depressed about it.
Somewhat...but it wasn't
Submitted by SherriW13 on
Somewhat...but it wasn't always this way so I am hopeful that since we've begun a new journey together in our marriage that this year might be different.
I am wondering how many ADDers suffer more intensified symptoms during the fall/winter months? I am reading Arwen's posts about SAD and wondering if my husband might have that too.
Submitted by shaun2684 on
Hi Arwen, I enjoy your posts, your maturity and your gentle and wise words of hope. I'm not there yet. I'm living with my husband of 5 years - we've been 'together' for closer to 9 - yet I find that my patience is all but gone. I did all of the non-ADD partner stuff (yelling, blaming, nagging, etc) and then a few years ago I was diagnosed with AML. I'm pretty sure the constant stress of living with my ADD man contributed to getting sick. I've recently spent 7 months getting treatment in another city and we in effect were 'separated' although it wasn't for relationship issues. I have and am still engaged in ongoing counseling to get my 'bad' self back, the one that was happy (albeit lonely), financially independent, and engaged in my own life. I had issues before I had him, so the road still feels uphill.
The thing is, that when I was 'falling in love' with this man it was based on unsound information. I didn't know anything about ADD and how that can effect a marriage. I thought he would be loving and respectful to me. I thought our sex life would be sweet, intimate and caring (and last more than two minutes and include foreplay). I thought we could team up in business with our complimentary talents and take the world by storm. Even after we got together I thought it was a simple lack of communication on MY part that made those particulars not happen. Learning about ADD, and learning that I need to give still more (and apparently forever with no guarantee of his continued willingness and work) after I gave to the point of near death sounds SO UNATTRACTIVE to me! Today he is sweet and gentle. Night before last he was telling me how he forgives and I should too. A week ago he was drunk and saying stupid things that I know aren't true and making up stories to support his outrageous lies. That last part was actually night before last. I've got a counselor scheduled for him/us AGAIN because I told him I wanted to make a concious decision to stay or go and I wanted him to be there, but honestly, I've got my own fish to fry and I don't want to work that hard at a relationship with him. Did you feel this way?
I know I lied to myself in the beginning and I think I'm lying to myself when I say he could be the man I envisioned. Is it totally lame of me not to work on this now? I know you don't have my answers, but I would really appreciate some feedback. There are alot of wise women on this site, so jump in if you feel you have some insights!
Help containing wife with ADD
Submitted by Paul K on
I am the non-ADD husband of a wife with ADD. This reply was extremely helpful as I have been struggling over the past 2 years to understand why I have gone from a relatively stable, happy husband to a depressed, critical, unhappy man. My wife has not been formally diagnosed with ADD, but all of the telltale signs seem to be there (from constant connection to her computer to never finishing any project she starts). We have 3 kids in elementary and middle-school and just as I thought our normal frenetic life would transition to a more stable one, I have found the stress level rising. My wife has been totally overwhelmed and exhausted for the past 2 years and told me that she cannot wait until all of the stress ends.
In all of this, I feel like I have completely lost sight of who I am. I feel like what little time I have outside of work and raising our kids is completely consumed by responding and enabling my wife of 14 years. I am tired of being in reactive mode all the time and my wife seems to have very little interest in spending time with me or even relaxing (these are never on her list of things to do). I have to handle all of the finances now so we don't bounce checks and I cannot even discuss money with her anymore (it stresses her out completely). I feel badly, but I am trying to carve out just a hour a day for me so I can remain sane. I am trying to get back into those activities I once valued, but I am struggling with tremendous guilt about taking time from our already stressed family (which might cause more family stress). I feel like I am so out of touch with old friends, family and even work acquaintances that I don't even know where to start!
Maybe I just need to slowly find coping mechanisms that don't erode my sense of self-worth, but give me more space and help me get back to who I used to be.
Help containing wife with ADD
Submitted by Canuck on
We're in the same boat. My wife has recently been diagnosed but the hard work of her figuring out how she has gotten to this point , the problems she has had with family, the low self-esteem, etc has yet to be done. She is in total denial, doesn't want to hear anything about ADHD, figures it is just another way of blaming her and wants to be accepted the way she is. Which is impossible, she has cheated on me with who knows how many men, she never loses a chance to tell everyone she can , including my family, school officials, her friends, acquaintances, doctors about how abusive and controlling I am. Lots of self-pity and rage.
For many years I too have been in a burned-out mode, feeling guilty about taking time out for myself. My wife refused to share any time with me for years. She preferred playing on the computer, which eventually led to the chatting with strangers, signing up on the free dating sites (which are full of married dirtbags looking for sex) and then she went into the wonderful exciting world of casual sex with strangers, with a bit of romantic fantasy to sustain her.
I would suggest that you take the ADD more seriously, talk to an ADHD-aware counsellor, take a more structured approach to improving things, because in my experience things will get much much worse if you don't .
I just noticed that you posted over a year ago - so maybe things have changed for the better. Hope so !
Thank you... That what I am
Submitted by Pink on
Thank you... That what I am doing as well. I have giving up waiting for my husband to do something. I just do it and ignore him. I want a clean home I just do it. His stuff on the floor... I tell him if I see them next time...that mean you don't need them, I will throw them out. I have done that to show him that I mean it.
I have to move my apt around to avoid them doing something I don't like. I don't like him eating on the sofa. I went and buy an expensive sofa and told him he can't eat on it because it will get yucky. Now, he stop eating on it... because he is afraid I will buy more stuff. It work.
2009 on containing the ADD
Submitted by Soldier On on
Guess what, Melissa. That's where I got after many more years of marriage. It took a long time to figure out. And the younger women are ahead of the game. Good for you. I am still carving things out. I also like being in charge of the finances and the security of knowing so. I recommend this to every spouse of an ADHD-er. I have never yet met one that could handle money responsibly or with a plan.
The thing that you have to work against in your head is that you thought you were marrying into an equal partnership with reciprocity. Then you find that the home front feels more and more unequal. I read something in a health magazine on fibromyalgia that said that each child in a family represents a full time job! Where was this language and wisdom when we were burning our bras? If you are raising children you must respect that because you want the best for your children. If you were single, it would be worse, unless you are some highly paid person. (Notice how much I think about money at my age?) My bottom line is how does this extra pair of hands and paycheck help you and the children. Who will be there in the middle of the night when you have a sick child and a need to get to the ER while someone watches the others. Even the worst of ADHD-ers can pull out a mature side. You just wish it were more often.
It's a very difficult call, but unless the guy is a drug addict or alcoholic or abuser, the children need the father security thing, too. All the internalization things are going on. Children do better with two parents in the home if both parents are reasonably trying. I know alot of people will not buy this, but longitudinal studies are coming in on things that we did not know in the 60's and 70's. However, it's your mental health that is needed in order to raise the children.
As for how to regain the heart, there is no easy fix for this. Maybe a fixed date night where the children see you going out as a couple, and where you see you are a couple might be the place to start. I like the fact that in the Bible women are asked to "respect" their husbands. That's a good start. Just try for respect. Don't push for what we call love as we use to define it. Going for "respect' will change the quality of your interactions and help you set some expectations for how you wish to be treated.
I love me again
Submitted by pinkflower on
I got exactly the same problem with you. Hubby have an affair online thru chatting site and facebook, doesn't even care if he get enough sleep. It bothers me and pissed me off all the time as he shut all kinds of communications with me. We had several big fights, and he told me he will change slowly if only I give him some more time and space. At first I didn't understand at all, why he's doing it anyway when he knows it's going to distract him from daily life's activities.
I couldn't sleep thinking that he contacted that woman every second, started to hate my life and my stupid decision to married him a long time ago. I would go to him fueled with anger and confronted him of his mistakes and what I didn't get from him. He kept saying that I was not patient enough to wait for him to change. One day I couldn't help anymore, I really wanted to hurt him with my words, and to get a divorce. It came back to me as a big blow, as he believed he did nothing wrong and fought me back by doing something he never ever did to me. I was so shocked.
He seemed to regreted for what he's doing, but a day later, he was already starting to sit all day in front of the computer. That was my moment of truth, I asked myself if I deserve this kind of life. So I made a decision to make myself happy by doing what I like. I started to contact all of my old friends that I abandoned because I was so focus on my marriage life and always been very accomodating to my husband. I tried not to think about him and what he needs, and more to think about myself and what I need. I start to feel good and not blaming myself, still have ups and downs but I keep searching for something that can make me happy. My husband looks surprise because I treat him well now, without nagging. I give him the freedom to do whatever he wants . He's improving a bit by starting to go to gym again and help me do the chores, which he didn't do for the last 2 months since the affair began.
This morning I read your blog and it really help me to understand, why I feel so good now. And I'm totally agree of your suggestion to detach ourselves from the marriage institution, it's my self that needed to be saved. So now I'm not thinking of divorce nor a reconciliation, I'm just thinking to continue my life to the fullest. I forgive my self and my hubby, let go of my anger, and nowadays I don't need the sleeping pills. I try to be independent so when he refuse to involve in my activities, I don't feel it as a rejection. It's a long way to go from here, but at least I have my self back on track! Thanks for your post, I don't feel alone now.
Submitted by slice on
I feel sorry for what you people have had, or are currently going through. I'm saying that from the other side of the fence. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with A.D.D.. I battled through depression, went to daily group sessions met with a psychiatrist which led to more depression. I knew what I should be doing but couldn't understand why I didn't follow through. I especially felt sorry for what I was putting myself through. The A.D.D. diagnosis was a eureka moment.
After reading all of your posts I'd like to state that not every A.D.D spouse cheats, is totally inconsiderate, demeaning, a hot head... et al. I understand that you are expressing your own thoughts and experiences however I truly hope we are not all painted with the same brush. Bad spouses come in varies shapes and sizes.
My wife, of 32 years, and I are currently experiencing a rough patch. (We married at the age of 20.) Our kids, who are now adults, aren't leaving the nest and we argue about their roles in the household (one of our girls show strong signs of A.D.D. .). I must admit I'm hyper-focused on the issue which I'm sure leads to my wife's frustration.
My concern, with some of the opinions, has to do with the "let'em fail" approach. I'm not saying you should take over the duties or cover for your A.D.D. spouse, that can't be good for you or the relationship. Going the exact opposite, in my opinion, is just as damaging. My wife and I were married for 30 years before my A.D.D. diagnosis. I experienced the joy of knowing. Now I'm experiencing the greiving state of what could have been and what others (namely my wife) had/has to experience. The fact that all of this has raised self-esteem issues, for your's truly, isn't helping. In my opinion, at least in our case, tough love isn't the best medicine when trying to solve this problem. (No matter how much work you put into it, you can't make a cat bark... even though it might get you on America's Funniest Videos!) I now don't view marriage as an individual sport. (Notice I said "now"... awareness, meds and A.D.D. therapy does work even though my past still comes up to haunt me.) Work together and you jointly benifit. As a person with A.D.D. I have positives to offer. My only wish is that my wife can fully understand what it's like from this side of the fence. Once that happens we can work on this challenge together. The sink or swim approach only works in wading pools, at least that's my opinion... then again I could be biased.
sink or swim has a place
Submitted by arwen on
Slice, my husband of almost 35 years has ADD and was diagnosed 15 years ago -- he has been on medication and counseling since. I have also gone through some counseling (I don't have ADD). My husband did not have the "eureka" moment you experienced, he found his diagnosis to be a horrible shock. He's a wonderful man in many ways, but he's not very self-aware. He went from denial before the diagnosis to excusing all his behaviors with his ADD. We both wanted our marriage to work, but although a few things improved, most things didn't, and some got worse. He felt better on the meds, and he just couldn't understand the idea that the meds didn't actually fix the problems, they just helped create a situation where he could make changes in his behaviors. The counseling helped his self-esteem but he didn't really want to change any of his behaviors. Finally I just couldn't deal with either his behaviors or his attitudes any more, and I asked him to move out of our home, to separate. I fully expected that we would end up divorced. I told him that if he wouldn't or couldn't change the way he treated me, I didn't want to stay married.
One of his serious problems was an attitude of helplessness about *everything* -- it was always "I can't", even about things he had shown he could in fact do. I'd done a lot of research about ADD and I'd come to understand that there were in fact a lot of things he really couldn't do, and why, but his attitude went well beyond this. He'd never try to figure out what he *could* do. He wouldn't take the initiative about anything. He was constantly answering "I don't know" to simple reasonable questions, didn't care that he didn't know things he should have known, and didn't take any responsibility for finding out any answers. Actually, he didn't expect to be responsible for *anything*, except going to his job -- he expected me to be responsible for everything in our family's lives. I was working full time, taking care of our home and raising our children, managing our money and trying to help my husband deal more effectively with his ADD -- it seemed pretty outrageous to me that he couldn't manage anything at all on his own. I had tried everything imaginable to build his confidence, to motivate him, to help him find ways to approach these difficulties more successfully and easily -- no good. It seemed to me that "sink or swim" was the only option left.
And it worked. It finally woke him up to how serious the problems were. I didn't make any overtures to resolve the situation. I would meet his efforts halfway, and I offered him help and encouragement, but I refused to shoulder any of his fair share of our relationship. If he began showing his old behaviors, I stopped working with him until he made the effort to stop them again. You may find this hard to understand or believe, but this was actually just as difficult for me to do as his changes were for him. He learned that in fact there really were a lot of things he could do. He was forced to become responsible for himself. And he decided that he wanted to make some changes in order to save our marriage. We ended our separation in a little less than a year, and our marriage has been a lot better ever since.
I certainly wouldn't advocate *starting out* to cope with ADD by using a "sink or swim" approach! Certainly, if there are kinder, gentler ways to bring about change, they should be pursued. But sometimes "sink or swim" is the only thing that will provide enough incentive. Many of us here whose spouses have ADD have gotten right to the ragged edge of that point -- there really aren't enough resources to help the non-ADD spouse to cope. In my opinion, when the problems don't improve even over a long period of time, it's legitimate to question whether both parties are making sufficient efforts, and if the conclusion is that there is a great disparity with no indication of improvement in sight, "sink or swim" is a legitimate option to consider.
Submitted by slice on
Arwen, I can see your point and I agree that every situation is different and that is my point about "sink or swim". In my opinion, it is not a cure-all for every "situation". It appears that using it as a last resort in your particular case was the right approach. I also feel that a better relationship with an ADD spouse first has to start with a better understanding of ADD. (I know, I know, you may not have signed up for this.) In my case, I was the person who charted the course in our family. Unfortunately my road maps led to nowhere so I can understand my wife's frustration as our mariage headed into its second decade. A few years later depression hit hard for her "dreamer" because the dreams remained just that. It was a dark time, the roles were reversing and our world was never the same. I'm still fighting the fight after being diagnosed at the tender age of 50 (2 years ago). Self pity still has a hold of me at times but I have moments of hyper-focus productivity. Unfortunately the past 5 years or so has tainted my wife's view of me. We're still hanging in there but if she played the sink or swim card my self esteem would be shattered since I am trying (trust me). To make matters worse our 22 year old daughter (who can't come to grips with the possibility of her being "blessed" with A.D.D. and who also resides with us) is pregnant! Toss in the challenges the present economy has given my wife and me and it's clear that neither one of us is doing the backstroke. If only life came with scuba gear.
i am new and trying to set and keep boundaries?!
Submitted by newstart on
I have been married to a ADDer for over 20 years. He was diagnosed 2 years ago with ADD and he has "mentally checked out" in his words for the last 6 to 8 years! We have struggled with trying to run different businesses (he says he could never work for someone and take orders from them) and try to keep them afloat. We each had to file for bankruptcy (5 years apart) to eliminate our mounting business debts and massive credit card bills. He is a "great guy" who does what he wants, when he wants, without worrying about the consequences. He is a creative person and comes up with ideas in business but does not carry through on them as he gets distracted and looses interest, and then comes up with another idea! In the beginning, I could juggle the finances and make it work, but as time went by it became harder to deal with massive bills - tough when expenses are way higher than income! He believes that it was my poor financial skills that got us in this mess since "you were in charge of the finances" - I was in charge of paying the bills and he was in charge of raking them up!
He did not want to take medication for ADD or do anything about his depression (he had just mentally checked out, he was not depressed) - all he would do is go to business where he would be busy doing things (but not necessarily have a productive day and actually finish the required jobs) or sitting on his computer reading emails till 1-2 in the morning! His family sent medication for him in the mail, but he did not like them and the side effects and he stopped them in a short while - he would not go to a doctor so it was not monitored! The only time he went to a doctor was for testing and got back a letter saying he had ADD. Nothing was done about it.
It has been very rough trying to help and finish his creative start-ups, try to keep on top of his business jobs without him feeling he was not in charge (He HAS to be in charge, he is the man of the house) - that became difficult as our 2 kids grew up and I had to spend time looking after them and my in-laws who spent considerable time with us on my own. Responsibility was all mine, he would play with the kids or spend time with his parents when I reminded him that he needed to talk to them and not go sit on his computer every evening after dinner.
I wrote to his family that someone needed to do something about his problems and I cannot take care of everything on my own - kids, bankruptcies, lack of money, a house that he did not help maintain, etc. The end result was that he left the house a year ago and went to live with his brother - leaving behind massive debts at work, and $ 6000+/mth home expenses, a kid in an ivy league college and his tuition! For 6 months, he helped pay for nothing here, and all his expenses were taken care of there by his brother and hence he had no expenses! If it had not been for my younger son who helped at work every evening and on weekends (he is very bright and does extremely well in school) the business would have gone bankrupt again and we woudl have been in deep financial difficulties again! He says he is getting better and his depression was gone as soon as he left home (!), his ADD is under control with no medications, and he is totally fine. In the meantime, my son and I spent the year paying the debts, college tuition, house expenses, and with the help of some wonderful, wonderful friends did up the house a bit and sold it. He would not pay for the painting/touching up the house or cleaning the house saying that "it wasn't needed" and if I wanted to do that to sell the house sooner, I would have to pay for it! Since I did not have money a friend paid for it!!
He now sends enough money to pay for the apt. and utilities and basic expenses. I am trying to run the business, and lately he has come for 2-4 days, when I am not there, and makes major changes because he wants to try out something new, and then expects me to continue wherever he takes the business and then leaves and takes off again. He has done this so many times where he changes the course of the business and then leaves it to me to continue from where he left it that I just cannot take it anymore. So, 2 weeks ago, when he came while I was gone and changed things around again, I FINALLY decided "that this was it" and I would not run his business anymore (my name is not on the business and I don't have any liability. He and our son are on all the documents). He has to come back and either run the business himself, or close it down and that's it. His comment is " That he does not have to do anything, and I should be grateful when he does anything" - and I am never grateful "enough" - what DOES grateful enough mean? in a marraige? because he claims that he is married, just living 400 miles away, but is not repsonsible for helping out with the house, wife and kids he left behind? He only needs to do anything, if he FEELS like it.
I have so forgotten what I wanted in life, that if I had a few minutes when I was not running around after him or the kids, I do not know what to do with myself - I have no hobbies, no time or inclination to enjoy anything because I am just so tired, and have a knee and ankle problem. He, on the other hand in my opinion, is enjoying being a single man going on holidays - skiing, white water rafting, just holidays - things he never did with the kids when they wanted to. The last holiday we went on together was 6 years ago to a week long religious conference, with a 3 day stopover in London at my sister's. After that, all we have done is work, work, and work, trying to keep ourselves afloat financially with 1 son in college, and the other starting to apply for next september. He must have gone for 4-5 holidays in the last year since they are paid for by his brother.
Several people in his family have ADD (I found that out last year when someone made a random comment) and should know what it is like to go through that themselves and as a spouse and mother of an ADDer! Instead they have chosen to totally cut all ties with us and only support their brother in everything! If I say anything, my husband's answer is (as of yesterday)- "This is the way I am, I am not going to change. Take it the way I am, or we should separate" - this is constantly what I get and I am tired of living life like this. He says he has improved and is doing well in the new business he has started, under his brother's supervision and his infrastructure of office and staff, and blames me for all his failures! He is successful since he has moved - not that initially taking meds and regularly seeing a physician, going for counselling, and changing his lifestyle by exercising, meditation and not sitting in front of the computer has anything to do with his improvement! Or that he has to work from start to finish because nobody is there to complete the job, and he won't get paid unless it is finished. He is now taking responsibility for his actions because he is on his own in business - he does not seem to get that.
I am trying to set boundaries of not continuing his business, of trying to study and get back into the workforce so I can earn money (what happens when he stops sending money as that is dependent on "my behavior" - if I behave he will send it, otherwise there will be consequences of my behavior!) I will have 2 kids in college next year that he says he will pay for them, but ...! He says a lot of things and in his mind they are done because he thought of them but does not realize that nothing was done to put that into reality! Thinking is equal to have done that in his mind. He also forgets what he said, so his constant thing is that I am making stuff up and saying he said things that he never said! My perception of the words are always wrong.
I am just so tired after 23 years, and so broken mentally, physically and emotionally (he says he is fine and I am the one with borderline personality disorder and love to live a life of chaos and I am the spender in the family?!), that I do not think I can continue anymore unless he changes and shows that he is willing to do it. I am tired of his threats that he can do what he wants and I have to finish his jobs (he did that at work and at home - you would not believe the mess he can make in the kitchen when he cooks only pasta! he cooks and I have to clean up). I have started seeing the counsellor (gone a few times) that he sees (both of us see her individually and as a couple) and am trying to have the strength to learn how to set boundaries and stick to them (we have gone through this business crisis 4 times in 2 years - every time I felt bad and went back to work 15 hours days- literally, no exaggeration - with 0 pay). This time I have to stick to not going back to the business (and let him deal with it) and doing a job that gives me financial independence. If I don't do that I will have to stay in this marriage just because of financial insecurity and I don't want to do that - it is pathetic for a person with a Master's degree to be working so many hours at work, and then coming home and looking after the house and everything it entails, and being financially so dependent! He is using that as a controlling issue, reminding me constantly that it is because of him that my son and I have a roof over our heads. On his own he is earning, when he was here he didn't do it, so he is capable or just doesn't work enough to support the family if he has a choice? Is that it? He does say that if he had a choice he wouldn't work - so earlier I did things so he had a choice, and now he has to work so he does? Then that is not ADD, it is intentional. When he cannot tell right from left while driving when I am in the car, but is perfectly fine on his own, that is not ADD, but a choice, isn't it?
At this point, I do not know whether I want to stay married for the sake of it or not, for myself, for the kids who will both be in college next year. He seems to want to decide whether we stay married or not depending on whether I behave or not! Caring for him doesn't have to mean that he can treat me like a doormat, and I allow that to happen. Just so tired. But I do see life getting better now that I have time to think (after stopping to run his business a week ago), starting to study for my certificate and learning to enjoy the things I used to before we got married. It is difficult but if I do a little everyday it has to get better. And if he comes back to visit we can sit down and talk about the future - I have come to the point that it doesn't make a difference - only what matters to ME is that I get to enjoy life too. That I go back to being a human being with wants and desire, not a body that does their bidding.
"This is the way I am, I am not going to change ...
Submitted by wishannastar on
"This is the way I am, I am not going to change. Take it the way I am, or we should separate."
My husband uses this phrase on me sometimes and it drives me crazy! To me, that expression puts all the responsibility for the continuation of our marriage on me. I'd love to find a good response to it. If anyone has one, or some insight into the phrase, I'd love to hear it.
To newstart: I wish I had an answer for you. It must be very frustrating. I hope you find a solution to the situation that brings you both peace and the energy to pursue your own happiness, whatever the outcome of your marriage.
"This is the way I am...." ?!?
Submitted by Jessa on
I am new to this site...but not new to living with a spouse with ADD (14 years)! I felt I needed to respond to your question regarding the comment "This is the way I am, I am not going to change..." My husband has uttered those words many times, in many forms - such as "If you don't like it you can leave" or "You're the one who is causing all the problems, you need to get professional help" or "If you don't like the way I am, go file for divorce". I kind of laugh (NOT that it is really funny) just that there are so many variations! My husband was diagnosed three years ago, while we were going to therapy (yet again) for the multitude of marriage problems we were having. It happened that our therapist (who was male, and married) also had ADD! He recognized the signs/symptoms and helped us start the process of diagnosing and treating my husband. His explanation of those comments went something like this: Your husband (in denial that there is anything wrong with his behavior or attitude) is trying to make himself believe what he is saying...not you. The more you make "sense", the more calm and focused you are, the more "facts" you have to justify your position, the louder or more frequently he will use those comments. It is a control mechanism and a form of denial. He actually used the analogy of my husband beating on his tribal "drum".."I am man" "I am right" "You will listen to me"...which he explained is actually a sign of his uncertainty! I admit that this sounds funny and I am laughing while I write it, but that is how it was put to me and in a weird way, it does make sense.
My husband and I have come a long, long way but we are not "there" yet. I don't honestly know if we will ever be totally "there" (wherever that is). There were 11 long, awful years during which he was not diagnosed and during which he was angry, verbally and emotionally abusive and agressive (when he was drinking), and during which he would bribe,coerce, and guilt me to get his way...be it buying a new TV that we couldn't afford or into doing things I did not want to do.
At the beginning, I was completely in love and dedicated to him. He was attentive and loving and all the things everyone else describes in the "hyper-focus" stages. I did have some clues, but not anything that would jump out and I didn't know anything about ADD or ADHD. When we had our first son I began to notice the detachment from us and the focus on other things. He missed a lot of our son's "firsts" because he was always pursuing his fun, his excitment - hobbies, sports, etc. On the surface, it sounds like a lot of new husbands and fathers...or so I thought at the time. He was (and is) very organized in some areas (almost obsessive) and a total disaster in a lot of other areas. It was really when I started drawing the line that we started to have problems. I refused to let him bulldoze me and (not knowing what I was dealing with) made demands that he start behaving like an adult, a father, a husband. He began drinking frequently (2-3 beers a night) which of course was a form of self-medication, but which I called alcoholism - and the fighting began. The fighting led to name calling and physical threats (he never physically touched me, but made threats to do so). I should mention that I was raised to be independent and confident by a father who did not subscribe to "male" and "female" stereotypes...he raised three daughters the same way he would raise three sons, and he participated actively in the houshold and in raising us. My husband was raised in a family where the man was "king" of the house - his father wouldn't even get up from the table to get himself ketchup from the fridge. My husband's behavior was so outside of my understanding of marriage, family, and a relationship. The women who married into his family before me sort of "fell into line" with this attitude...I came in and said um, no I will not do as I'm told and I will be respected as a person and no you will not dictate my relationship or my life or they way I raise my children and yes, my husband can think for himself and does not need your approval....they love me!!! (maybe)
When he was finally diagnosed we had lived that way (barely making it) for years and as a result I still bear many emotional and mental scars. I see so many similarities posted on this blog and it gives me hope, and makes me sad at the same time. My husband is so different from the man he used to be...since he's been on medication he has worked on and acquired a self-awareness that never existed in his life. He now realizes (sometimes) what he did and what he does and he has some understanding of how I feel..although I know it isn't a total understanding as we still have a long way to go. He has worked and is working towards making things better, but it is a really tough road. There are days that are unbelievably wonderful and days that are horrible. This weekend, we went out with friends (had a few drinks) and he said some really inappropriate things, which resulted in a fight when we got home. He told me that he wanted a divorce because I was such a b**ch and I made him miserable. I slapped him - for the first time ever and told him that if that were in fact true then he needed to tell me when he was NOT drinking and that he better have a damn good reason because we have been together for14 years and have two children and I have stuck it out, with no promises of a future. I told him that I deserved better from him. He stood there with his mouth hanging open - speechless. I turned around and went to bed. I certainly do not advocate hitting anyone, for any reason...but that was it - I had finally heard it enough! The next day, he apologized and I told him we would discuss it later this week and to meet me in the living room after the kids are in bed. I think it totally shocked him and I know he "finally got it" on that point at least.
I really do know better ways to communciate effectively and I utilize them frequently...but it is an ongoing struggle for me, and for any spouse of someone with ADD/ADHD - especially when you have already been in the relationship with them when they were at their "worst" (undiagnosed/untreated). I am always looking for new and better ways and that is what led me here. I know that the reason I stayed in the past was because of the children, but now the reason is for me...if I don't try, especially when he is putting in a lot of effort on his part, then I will not leave feeling good about myself. I do need to be the person I was and the person I want to be FIRST. I struggle finding that "loving feeling" and I struggle with forgiveness (of myself and my husband). The reason I am able to say this now is because my husband has come such a long way in a short amount of time...perhaps he is hyperfocused on this or perhaps he is that scared. I am just beginning to understand all of the factors that have contributed to our relationship and certainly his family has NOT helped...they are manipulative and controlling, they use guilt as a means to get him to do what they want him to do and they offer realtionship advice such as, "give him more sex" (only the actual conversation, between me and my father-in-law was much more demeaning and crude)!
There are so many obstacles that sometimes I do want to run. I certainly do not advise "running" but if you have tried and given and done all that you can, then it is time to let go...especially if he is not trying, giving, and doing much of anything. Taking medication is the easy part...changing the behavior requires climbing uphill and recognizing and then battling to change ingrained, learned behaviors and quite possibly even his own family and friends who are in denial or even support of those behaviors.
thanks for your thoughts about "this is the way..."
Submitted by wishannastar on
Wow, I really appreciated sensing that you seem to understand how frustrating it is to hear this message over and over in all its various forms. I thought your response to his divorce demand while drinking was right on. I'm just so stunned when he uses that line on me that I am unable to respond. Maybe that's why he says it! Actually no, I really have learned to be as non-confrontational as possible and to speak as little as possible in all of our communication that I don't think that is true. I do wonder though what he is thinking when he says it. And no, I haven't asked him because I have learned to be as non-confrontational as possible at all times.
I did not know about my husband's ADD when we married. I noticed he seemed a little distant in the couple of months before the wedding but attributed it to work stress because he genuinely seemed to be happy about our wedding. I didn't realize at the time that I had already ceased to be the flavor of the month. It wasn't until after our wedding that I learned he had been diagnosed with ADD a few years earlier. He says he didn't tell me because it is untrue, he does not have ADD. That is his story and he is sticking to it. He will not consider medication or any other intervention because there is nothing wrong with him. Mind you I have never suggested there might be something wrong with him. I only asked for clarification about what I had been told about his diagnosis.
I'm just rambling here so I'll close. Thanks again for your response and you have my best wishes as you move forward.
Jessa, Thanks for sharing
Submitted by newfdogswife on
Thanks for sharing your story. Man, how similar your's is to so many others. Please keep contributing. It helps to get things off your chest sometimes.
boy, have I heard that...
Submitted by LeeAnonymou on
Thanks for posting---I'm having one of the horrible days, and your message reminded me that it's not all my fault. My husband is back on the "you're the one who's crazy" wagon. Banging the tribal drum--- I'll keep that image in my mind. It's reassuring to hear that he's probably just as scared as I am, and all that bravado is him trying to convince himself of his worth.
You need a newstart
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
My heart goes out to you. Your situation sounds awful.
Since you are seeing a counselor, I'm wondering if you might talk with a counselor about whether or not it's time for some contracts around some of the more contentious issues in your relationship - including who will pay for college, and how much. One way to start to wrap your mind around this idea is to read "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by Lee Raffel.
One more very useful resource is the book (recommended to me by a reader of this site)is "Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay" by Mira Kirschenbaum. I recommend this one because you say "I do not know whether I want to stay married for the sake of it or not". It does a very good job of providing insight into what issues you have in your relationship, as well as realigning how you think about staying. (This doesn't mean that it encourages people to leave each other - to the contrary, it provides a framework for how to think about this question that is very helpful.) I recently finished writing an overview of this book for my "resources" section of my book and this is what I wrote:
"This is an insightful and thoughtful guide to resolving relationship ambivalence (that period when you can’t decide whether to stay in your marriage or leave it). Under the theory that relationships are too complicated to weigh good vs. bad, Kirshenbaum offers 36 diagnostic tests against which you should measure your relationship and your feelings. She likens the process to how doctors diagnose illness. One caveat – be careful to look carefully at whether unresolved anger around your relationship, or treatable ADD symptoms bias your answers to the negative."
Good job getting to the point of realizing it's time to start taking control of your own life so that you can enjoy life, too - that's the beginning of the rest of your (better) life.
I am starting afresh but it is difficult to stick to what I want
Submitted by newstart on
I am fortunate that our counsellor is an expert on ADD so I do get to see both sides of the coin. I would definately advocate having a counsellor with that background. Since he is 400 miles away his individual and our couple counselling is done over the telephone - given a choice i would strongly suggest against that. It is much better in person even it is a three hour drive round trip! I will definately read "Too good to leave too bad to stay".
I think in the last week I have become much stronger and can actually see the change when I write an email about the business - earlier it was just lashing out because of the past, today it is more that this is what I want and this is what I am going to do. He wants me to go back and sell the business and go through that hassle. As he puts it, "I am busy and cannot come in the near future". Well, earlier where I would have gone and done it and been very upset about going, now I am sending him options of realtors in our area and helping him by suggesting what he could do to make it easier for HIM to sell it. If he asks politely I MAY be willing to help by making 1 trip to the business. But that's it. Unless my paychecks are cashed I am not going to go and work anymore. Hey! The choice is working 75-90/week for free or sitting at home for free! What choices?! Why did I not make the right choice all these years I do not know. But BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.
My husband does not believe in "writing" anything! He will only talk about it and that is always open to my misunderstanding what he meant! He told my son he could rent an apt. in NY City(?!) and my husband would pay for it (??!!) and when my son was ready to sign a lease and needed the deposit my husband said "I never told you that I would pay"!!!! Lucky that my son had not signed the lease otherwise ... He does this all the time. I have now learnt and only communicate with him through email. When he does not want to commit he still sends messages through friends who are helping me with getting everything in order. Friends are upset that I have dug in my heels and won't finish this closing, but ... I know this is the last of the past that needs to be put to rest, but I am tired and am not willing to put in my money (borrowed money) to pay for the business debts anymore. He has to figure that one out. I have learnt never to work in a business with your spouse or his family - it always ends up being ugly, when you say "no" for the first time. My 23 years of working without question has no value, my saying "NO" right now is me being nasty.
His diagnosis is that I have borderline personality disorder and claimed that he had doctors who say the same thing. He was very upset when I asked him to have the doctor write it on their letterhead and give it to me. He does not think he should "cater" to my insistence on having the letter. "He is not going to cater to my whims all the time". Naturally! He also claims that I love living with a crisis all the time ( a crisis is something that comes up that he does not want to deal with), chaos and that I am the spender in the family!
I am a lot stronger and am now looking for a job, any job that will start generating money for me so I don't have to be totally dependent on him financially and will make sure that I am set by the time my son goes to college in sept. 2010.
This website is great and made me realize that others are going through the same thing, and that other spouses say the same things - I am not going to change, I am always right, you have the problems, etc. etc. Thank you for helping me feel normal, not crazy.
Do for you
Submitted by Beckyd58 on
Wow what a great post!
Submitted by Soldier On on
Dear newstart: You wrote from the heart that's for sure. This expressive post described exactly how I have felt in living with an ADHD-er. Big ideas, dangling potential. Having to keep the money coming in while he abandoned ship is not a comfortable place for you to have been, and you wrote it out so well. My ADHD-er moved the location of his business 11 times in 16 years. When I made him enumerate the places and time frame, he was shocked. What was I doing? You know the answer.
Then there was another time when he created a business where he worked from home, in his "working retirement". OH, MY GOD! And we live in a small condo now. Does working in your BVD's constitute a casual Friday dress code?
We have known each other as children. So one day I got him to finally tell me all the places that he referred to as his childhood home. It turned out that his mother had moved them 22 times in 15 years. Again, when he put it together, he was again shocked. I can count on one hand the places I have lived and this is in two marriages spanning 40 some odd years. Yep, made for each other.
How has life gone for you after that post? I truly hope the best for you.
Therapy for the non ADD person
Submitted by Sass on
One of the steps you mention is "Seek help from a professional". Should I be trying to find a professional that has a background in ADD so when I am expressing my feelings (hurt, confusion, frustration, anger, etc) about my life with an ADD person they can understand what I am talking about and help me with dealing with that?
Therapy for non ADD person
Submitted by peta on
I think it is important for therapists dealing with spouses of peope with ADD, or with couples where one is ADD to have background in the condition. My ADD husband and I did marriage counseling for a year before our second child and I felt it was a wasted year as the elephant in the room was hardly mentioned. In retrospect, and particularly reading the posts on this site, I can't believe we didn't talk about it as it is probably the most important factor defining the quality of our marriage.
The thing I find most frustrating about being married to an ADD husband is his claim that his condition makes it impossible for him to be emotionally available. Where can you go from there? This is an important thread for me as I had begun to suspect what is suggested here. As with so much else in a marriage to someone with ADD, you've got to do it on your own.
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
All this sounds so familiar...
Submitted by Sharona on
I have an ADD husband, diagnosed 1 year ago at age 58. We have been married 3 years and it has been the toughest and most unrewarding 3 years of my life. This is the second marriage for both of us, his behaviour was a significant factor in the first marriage disintegrating and the major factor in the second one almost disintegrating. ADD is not the only set of issues my (current) husband has to deal with, he is very controlling (in a covert, passive, VERY aggressive way), very conservative, has unresolved issues with his family of origin, but it does seem to accentuate them and make them worse.
I have just realised, with no small sense of shock, that what I have been trying to do this past year is to be myself and enjoy life again. I have reconnected with old friends, spent 3 months out of the coutry with family, friends and often just by myself. That has saved my sanity. My husband just does not "get it" and feels that I have serious problems, including possibly being bi-polar. He sees my explosions of frustration at his irresponsible, unreasonable and totally self centred behaviour as totally confusing, there's no reason for me to explode like that, why am I behaving so badly! He spent a lot of time in denial upon his diagnosis of ADD, didn't want to take medication and doesn't take it on weekends. I have recently asked him to take it on weekends as I am tired of him reserving his most pleasant and productive behaviour for work and leaving me the unmedicated awful dregs. I don't know if he will do it or not as he said that he liked a break from being driven. Actually, he's not at all driven when on Adderall, he's just behaving a bit more like a regular non-ADDer.
I have the opportunity to find what it is I want to do with my life and I do see our marriage as being a very "loose" arrangement where I will increasingly live independently of him. That arrangement may be able to provide me with the outlets I need in order to be happy and sufficient distance from his truly objectionable and hurtful behaviours. He is very resistent to change and I don't know that at his age of diagnosis whether he will be able to make even the small changes necessary for a marriage to get beyond the survival stage. Survivors often come out of their ordeal pretty beat up, and I've certainly taken a beating in this one. I don't see a future for the marriage, I don't see divorce either, either of those will happen as a result of my search for myself and happiness, and I acknowledge that it may not in the end include him. That acknowledgement is very liberating and I strongly recommend it. It does seemto be the first step on the path to healing for the non-ADD spouse/partner.
Submitted by brendab on
his behaviour was a significant factor in the first marriage disintegrating
he is very controlling (in a covert, passive, VERY aggressive way)
has unresolved issues with his family of origin
I just ended my relationship with an ADD boyfriend and I am always surprised how much they have in common. He is one of the most pleasant extroverts you would ever meet, and he has a lot of integrity in many areas. We dated for a year and even though I love him, I just couldn't justify marrying someone who was so financially irresponsible, hypersenstive, always unemployed and controlling. He is like a wanderer who looks for generous people to take care of him and it is like he is blind to why people get tired of his using them. Even his 2 sons and long time acquaintances have put many boundaries in place to prevent him from walking all over them.
I find it perplexing how he seems to use his intuition to say just the right things that made me and others do all kinds of things for him--give him a place to stay, feed him, loan him money etc. I often told him that he had the uncanny ability to read me, almost like he could watch my facial expressions and read my mind. But at the same time his intuition doesn't work when people begin to reject him because they feel taken advantage of. He is genuinely hurt and confused. He is also very stressed that I have ended our relationship because he no longer has as much influence over my actions. He totally fears not having control over other people. I am still trying to figure out why I ignored all the warnings that some of his lifelong friends gave me in the beginning. I guess his kindnesses towards me filled some deep need in me and I allowed all my research about ADD to allow me to empathize more than I should have.
But I will admit that if he got treated for ADD and changed these problem areas, I'd marry him in a heartbeat.
Learning to Like Yourself
Submitted by Again and Again on
I am on the brink. Do I dare believe this site can help me. I am on strong anti-depressants, sleeping pills and a perscription stimulant and high blood pressure pills. With this regiment, I can stay awake and work the hours I need to work, to make sure we have a house over our heads. We are still in our starter home, our kids are grown and moved out. I am resigned to the fact that this is the only house I will ever have. (I am greatful for my home but something different during my life would have been cool.) I have raised our kids, paid our bills, worked everyday, had secret bank accounts so we could save a dollar or two.
We have been married 19 years, next month. It took several years for my husband to be diagnosed. He went on medicine. It helped for a while. He hasn't been able to hold a job longer than 3 years. His attitude has been "I am priveleged to have him." He deserves everything I give. He is a terrible flirt and his reasoning is, he wants to have nice conversation with nice women. If I wasn't such a witch he could have that with me. We haven't been physical for nearly 3 and 1/2 years. He just isnt interested because he can remember "that time I made him mad years ago, or I looked at him wrong today.....It is my fault his mother died of cancer (she was my besg friend) the day my father was buried (he died from cancer 3 months before his mother) my husband became very angry with me because I did not pay enough attention to him. I could go on and on.....but why.....
We recently separated, I told him I could not live like this any longer. He agreed, he could not either (cuz I am so mean.) I went to my mothers so he could make his final decision. The next day i discovered he joined three internet dating sites and was very active on the internet. I asked him why. His answer was he needed to know that he was not that bad of a person. He wanted to see if he was still desirable. I believed that he made his decision. I moved back into the house a few days later. I moved him downstairs and told him he had 2 weeks to get his affairs in order and move out. (I feel I have paid for most of this house, i am not leaving.) He has a few more days left, but he has decided he is not mad at me anymore. The world is wonderful. All should be forgotten now. I should be happy that he decided he wants to keep the marriage.
I am so confused, so angry, bitter, mixed up, hurt, devistated, ......tired. I do not have anything left inside to continue in this game. I believe life is one great big joke.
He seems very content having his own bedroom. He doesn't understand why I am not jumping for joy at his new found happiness. He cannot understand what else I could want. He is being kind again but at the sme time he is receiving "connectons" on his dating sites and suggestive face book entries. I am so confused.
Maybe I am being unreasonable and selfish. I just do not want to jump for joy. Most of me wants him to leave but there is a slimmer of hope that if I try just one more time, things will be different.
Do I dare hope again? I have read some other and speoples writing and I swear I am reading my own diary. Are there really people that feel exactly like I do? Do I dare hope again?
From my own personal
Submitted by Jeannie on
From my own personal experience with my now ex-husband, if your husband is on those dating sites, he will not stop, at least not without considerable help. If you can imagine... he is now desirable to a wide variety of women, at least in his mind. This is a strong addiction to people even without ADHD.
I just don't understand why
Submitted by Again and Again on
I just don't understand why he can't or won't believe how hurtful it is. He has been to counciling thru the years (so have I) and he believes counciling does not work. He is moving out this weekend. I am not sure how I feel about this. I just wish he would have fought a little bit for us. I wish he could have seen his effects just a little bit. I understand what you are saying though.
Thanks, Melissa, for your
Submitted by mixedup on
Thanks, Melissa, for your suggestions above. It's putting into words what I've actually been doing out of desperation for the last 4 or 5 months. I grew up with an undiagnosed ADHD mother. Very angry household. Mom and Dad divorced. My sisters and I became the parent; Mom was the child. A couple of years ago, my husband was diagnosed with ADHD. My husband is still processing this and has become even more childlike after his diagnosis. It has given him a label for his misbehaviors, and I feel he uses this as a vindication for them. Prior to diagnosis, he didn't throw temper tantrums. He didn't yell, scream, and thrash about when something frustrated him. I never know who I'm coming home to; whether the house is filled with tension or calm. He is taking medication (adderral (sp?)), but he hasn't sought counseling in a long time. "I'll get to it." but he never does. This past summer, I came to realize that my marriage had become the mirror image of my very painful childhood. I had come to the end of my rope and my survival instincts took over. I needed to find myself again. It's very difficult to even figure out what my needs are to be happy. They've been hidden since I was a child. Slow, thoughtful process that sometimes feels superficial because sometimes I can't even find my deep emotions. I must say, though, it has been very liberating as I've begun to emerge. I actually like myself. For the first time in my 14 years of marriage (and 47 years of life), I realize how emotionally neglected I've been. I now know that I need the emotional connection of an adult partnership. I'm scared that my realization of this and my detachment from my husband's and my parent/child relationship will cause me to eventually give up on the marriage. I'm already having these thoughts. My husband needs to own his ADHD. For me, discovering my needs now comes first. Painful, yes. I'm writing this with tears streaming down my face. For the praying community out there, I sure could use some. Thank you to all the bloggers out there; reading your posts gives me strength and hope.
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
so not me
Submitted by Hidden on
Thank you so much for this article...its a step I did not know how to take. I can only hope I have the emotional strength to get up and make the move I need to make, to save me, maybe the marriage will get saved in the process. I used to really like who I was...a strong independent emotionally stable, financially stable, even calm person.Then I married this energetic,radical handsome man who absolutely adored me, boy, that made such a impact on me, because my first husband left me and our 3 children 10 years earlier to have an affair with a friend of mine (they got married). In those ten years I learned how to pull my self up out of that hurt and depression, I went back to school, I learned how to save money and pay bills, purchase not only one house but two. I raised my kids almost alone, having had custody of them.
When the children grew up I met and married my very active ADHD husband, who as I mentioned above loved me and still loves me with every fiber of his being. As I write this I feel like a crud! I for the most part, don't feel like he does...my love for him has dwindled away, my self assuredness is gone, all things I used to love to do have all stopped...including my friendships with other women. He on the other hand is active with his own hobbies, and his distractions usually keep his mind occupied.
My husband also has ADHD to the ninth degree as some one else mentioned, so I wont mention all the things that his ADHD behavior's do to make me feel out of control angry and lost. I read about how many ADDers are well liked...my husband is not! Many in my family will do everything they can to avoid him, he's very out going loud and opinionated, sometimes even judgmental, and has controlling tendencies. He has only two friends and they don't even"hang" out with him. I am embarrassed to go out with him for he usually does some thing, says something to up set people...and I hear about it later,that brings me down and I feel less for him,because others talk about him in a disappointing manner or he's not well liked or respected... so we usually just stay home.
Our home is cluttered by his junk (that he wont throw away) there are rooms that cant even be walked through properly...unless I start chucking things out with out his knowledge, I hate to do that, but I feel I am left with no choice, he does have a room of his own and this room is a disaster zone...I too just close the door.
I feel depressed... he doesn't, I am angry most of the time...he's not...he's just happy-go-lucky, and nothing seems to bothers him. When on occasion something does touch his consciousness, he will simply apologise, and thinks all is well...yet his "bad" behaviour don't ever change! Not even the loss of his 11Th job (fired,as usual just last week) in our short 5 year marriage can make him think that there really may be something wrong....I am beside my self alone and I feel afraid for us financially...again! I too have been just diagnosed with RA and find it hard to physically do things, I have gone from full time work to part time, so I do relay on him financially...I hate that! He has racked up so many credit cards, bills don't get payed on time...then heat gets turned off, or something else...our name in the world of credit rating is poor because of his spending and not paying behaviors...Its hard to handle because my credit score used to be good.
I wonder... if I still was alone and independent and a happy single woman, would my RA have hit me so hard and so fast...did my depression and anger bring it on???? ....I am not saying that I was not predisposed to it in the first place...I just wonder would it have come so quickly...
Before our marriage I was very active, slim, healthy, happy, with many activities and friends. Now its all gone, I don't know who I am any more...just a keeper of my ADHD husband.I am going to take a step in faith and do as Melissa has suggested and just start painting again, just get my self to the Y and start swimming, I am going to try and over come this daunting fear and call up an old friend who I let go of, just after I married...maybe she'll have coffee with me? But...then again I'll start crying over my marriage and my unhappiness...like Iam doing here and who wants that?
I am "almost" new to this site, I have only started posting but, have been reading for a while...my name is "Hidden" I do apologise for going on about the things he does,,,I said I wouldn't. My husband and I are aware of his condition, he has been diagnosed ADHD he has been to a physiatrist, who doesn't seem to care. He has been on 3 different med's,they really don't help much and only leave him severely underweight and lethargic. We have not received counselling for there is no such thing here were we live...not even from his doctor. I also have a part in all this craziness, I too have contributed to the demise of our marriage and could have made different choices, more than likely my anger has done more damage to both I and our relationship that I realize...Be it that it may...this is were I am now, and I feel like I am drowning, and very unhappy. I will try try again for the hundredth time, only this time I will do it not to save our marriage or us...just me!
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
Submitted by Hidden on
I thank you for the excellent pointers, I just found out that stress can have negative impacted on RA.
As painful as my days at work are(due to joint pain) I have to pick up more shifts because my husband is still unemployed, so the stress factor is there almost every day. Last weekend news paper still sits unopened, so I know hes not doing his best to seek out new employment..why? I just now I am more "Peed" off then ever! His love for me sure doesn't warm my heart, when I drag my self to a very labour intensive job, and he stays home and does nothing...not even shovel the walk way that I had to step over a foot of snow to get in the house...what bigger sign could have been put up as "shovel the snow" than a pile of it leading to our front door.
I have set out to start many a new thing for my self...and have succeeded in a few.
:I did reach out to that old friend, but she informs me with "love", that she no longer has a need for our friend ship and feels its better left alone...so that didn't work. Hurt I am but I understand her perspective.
:Ive been doing some yoga at home after work and it does seem to help some with my RA, but I am way to tired and sore after working so much I couldn't even think about jointing the gym or going to the pool. My sister says find another job...not so easy when one has gone to school to become a health care provider in a major hospital...the seniority I have built up as well as the pay scale would be very difficult to walk away from especially now in our financial crisis.
:I have created a space just for me...funny that you suggest it,for as you wrote this I was creating it:) I made an art room from the spare bed room...just mine were my sewing machine and computer and art supplies are...Ive even started to sew a dress for some. one
:Melissa you are so right about asking my husband to do some thing now...as apposed to later. He didn't see the snow apparently all day...at that moment I got mad... and he shoveled almost the second I put a foot in the door...he stayed outside and did the do! Some times this is really a hard one to handle...eg: I'll go to work, ask him to make supper, I'll even put up the sign on the fridge as a reminder. When I get home no supper made or even started, not even a table set. He says he forgot or didn't see the note or he didn't know what to make...he didn't want to disappoint me with just a bowl of canned soup...I say I don't care if its just soup and a cheese sandwich...its just that you tried that counts, he still wont...even after 5 years of marriage, and my nagging, I have only had one prepared meal from him....so I give up...what makes me happy is sushi and a cold glass of white wine. I pick it up,on the way home from work...that's my supper and he can fend for himself...and he's not even bothered by it...weird!
:I tell him I would like to take over the paying of the bills...but he wont let go of them...so we have separate accounts...if the cable gets turned off...no sweat I'll just go and sew..and he can deal with it...(I still get mad though.)
: As far as folks not like him, this is a big one for me to handle too...but I have to realize what he does and says should not be a reflection of me...even though some people would have me feel that way...I still need to work on this. I will with the help I has sought after...I got my self some therapy...just for me!
: We plan of having one of those stress family meetings tonight...hope I can keep his attention long enough. Then it's time to relax...me time.
Thank you again, Melissa your advice is good, doesnt always work out the way I hope for...but for the most part taking care of me is really working...and guess what... I went to dinner and a movie with my sister last night(me time) he wasn't invited and I had a great time!
Appreciate the post... just found your site
Submitted by Bird on a Wire on
Bird on a Wire is a name that came to mind when I signed up for this website. It’s metaphorical for my attitude toward my 36 year old marriage… should I stay or fly away. We are in the process of repairing 22 years of very difficult times. After watching the PBS series “This Emotional Life” I asked my husband, on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy he was, 10 being the happiest… he said about 8 and doing more things with me would make the number increase… That should have made me warm and fuzzy, right? When he asked me about my thoughts, I said I was about a 5 or 6… spending more time with friends and art work that I like would make me happier… I couldn’t bring myself to say that it had much to do with him… honestly.
He knows he is ADD and tried to get help for it over the years but didn’t stick with anything... I personally didn't know how just how much it actually affected me so I just continued down the path of depression and lowering self esteem. Thankfully a new job 12 years ago, taught me how resilient and good I could be at something on my own! It also began a down turn in my marriage. We hung together 'for the sake of the kids' but my inability to communicate my personal needs with an ADD person who can't process emotional content in the same way, began a passive/negative spiral for me; confusion for him... I poured myself into work, getting a masters degree, raising 2 kids... he began staying away from the house more and more... work, coming home at unpredictable times, taking off on weekends for bike rides, etc. while the roof was leaking types of behaviors. He doesn’t process emotions very well and often accused me of undermining his relationship with our boys. He didn’t connect with them emotionally either.
For a few years we settled into a sort of friendship that was not very satisfying to either of us. I kept myself busy and chose to do my own thing and he did his. About 3 years ago, while I agreed to transfer docs from an old computer to a new laptop for him, I discovered pictures of him and a girlfriend with whom he rekindled a relationship. It was heart wrenching wakeup call and we decided not to throw away all the years without trying to sort things out to see if we could repair our relationship after all. He said she was a fling, she lived in California; we are on the east coast.
Unfortunately, the girlfriend wasn't giving up too easily since she was divorced for about 10 years at that time and seemed desperate for 'them' to work. After we agreed to work on our relationship, he claimed he had no contact with her, which proved not to be true... they didn't see each other but kept in contact by phone and internet; however, when I asked, he said they did not. Last April I found the pictures he said he destroyed so I wrote her a letter and said she could have him. He said (somewhat panic stricken) that he did not want her and thought it would be ok to just talk with her… duh??? I insisted on seeing a therapist I found who specialized in separation agreements. I had enough. After our first session, she got us to look at the scenario and encouraged us to give it another try. For 9 months things are progressing… “Learning to Like Yourself” is what I’ve been working on for myself. My husband is trying to be open to change, still doesn’t ‘get it’ emotionally but trying… I’m just feeling tired and kind of empty.
Thanks for your website… as many others noted, seeing similarities helps a person feel like they aren’t crazy, because that’s what living with an ADD partner is like most of the time.
Submitted by TimS on
THank you for this. I have got to the position where I have lost myself thru having to deal with all the rubbish my ADD wife has projected on to me.. It re-assures me in thinking that I now have to look after myself as an independent person.
Loosing the Me I loved
Submitted by Mariposa on
I am new to this site. And it as been very helpful. I've not been able to tell anyone what I have been going through. So surprised I am not alone. I don't know where to begin. Have been drowning in emotions that I cannot share with with others because of the shame I feel. I guess I should start by saying that I am the non-ADD and have been dating a person I genuinely love and care about for three years. He swept me off my feet- charming and so attentive, creative, fun. He even presented me with books about relationships and communication, sharing what he had learned from a failed marriage. I felt relieved that I finally found someone who I can grow with and who also valued "good communication" and understood the work it takes. At least that is what he told me.
It has been a struggle learning how to communicate with him, for I have learned that I have to choose my words, my tone so carefully so that I don't throw him into a defense. When he gets mad it me, he will not talk to me for days. I walk on egg shells and its so draining. Somehow I thought my "unconditional love, patience and my prayers were finally answered as he started to open up to me about thinking he has ADD. I understood how hard it was for him to share this with me. In the last year he has tried several different medications. However, he did not go back to his MD for more than six months after finding that the first medication only caused more rage. He recently opened up to his mother, who shares with me her heart aches of her married life to a husband who she now thinks also had ADD. There was not much information on ADD back then and the negative thoughts related to so call mental health issues in our culture would have not helped anyway. I have been passionate about understanding ADD not only with hopes that he will be open in getting help; our relationship improve, but also how I can change my ways and thoughts to avoid the ugly anger outburst, hurtful words, abandonment, apathy towards me. But now it seems to only be get worse, when I thought everything was "finally going to get better".
After one of our disagreements and not talking for days, he sent me an email link to a website about Adult ADHD. His way of telling me he knows... I was happy. Our happy moments or shall I say his good moods do not last long. I anticipate what the week is going to be like. I anticipate special moments...3 years in a row he forgot my birthday. And when I remind him (even on the day of) it only angers him. I have learned with last Christmas past that I am not going to expect anything. Surprisingly it it turned out nice. However, the roller coaster on a daily basis is seems never ending. He started the new medication, but is not consistent with it. I am hoping he will be.
These days, his temper seems easily triggered? Or sometimes I think he deliberately does not try to control it like he used. I think maybe because he now knows how much I love him now. A few times he has been so hurtful when frustrated and told me to just leave the relationship as if it were my fault for the way things are. I am always shocked from some of the things he say that I would never think he'd say to "ME". As he did respect me once, actually told me how much he admired me, my way of thinking, living, my values. Now it seems all that has been replaced by "I'm always complaining, nagging, too intense, drama". I understand now that the beginning of our relationship was "the hyper-focused" time for him. We have been living together now for a year. Which I am coming to the conclusion now that this is the reason why he doesn't pay attention to me like he used to, takes longer to say sorry (or never at all), treats me like as the last of his priorities. His 2 children do not live with him- but they visit every 2 weeks. I love them dearly as my own. When we are together, I see how happy he is as we are like a family. What has shaken my up recently, is when he gave me a late xmas gift, but because he felt I did not like it- he raised his voice very loudly as he got upset when I was trying to explain that I did like it. His daughter ran to the bathroom and he quickly, apologized to her bring her to a different state of what just happened. I was so hurt, scared, because he never treated me that way in front of his children. I stayed in the bathroom the rest of the night crying, heard him laughing and playing with his daughter, as if I didn't even exist? I have been shaken up by this since, feeling disrespected humiliated and mostly unloved. He has not spoken to me for 3 days. I try to email and text him (my only safest way to communicate with him), desperately trying to make him see how much he has hurt me. It makes him more angry and I only leaves me with more ugly words to try and forget. He tells me that I am reminding him that he has a disorder that he lives with. I should know by now to try and push anything on him when he is in such a state, but most times, I cannot predict when.
I am now in a state of loss faith, because I feel that all my patience and understanding has only driven him to take advantage of my forgiveness or maybe I am becoming someone he hates. I don't want to give up on him or us, but I don't want to stop being the woman I used to be that was very proud that I would never allow anyone to treat me this way. During this last fight, he was looking at me crying and asking me why am I acting so pathetic. I cry as I write this and as I read more about ADD and feel that this is going to be long journey if I decide to stay. Sometimes I wish I had the strength to just say no more. But I still love him. I have always been the resilient one here. I know ADD people need stimulation. Has my love and forgiveness become boring and has loss meaning to him now? I know I need to take care of myself and he is solely responsible for helping himself. I don't want to end up hating him or him hating me. But I don't even know when to walk straight, turn right, left? I am so lost and feel helpless. This is not me.
Submitted by cglenn26 on
I have been married for almost 10 years to a man with ADHD. I have known for years as I am a health provider and had him diagnosed a few years after we were married. Having children made things worse for me and my husband. The good thing for you is that your s/o is at least willing to try and is trying medication. He may do better with a patch for of the medication that he just puts on and takes off. My husband only started ' dabbling' with meds once our oldest daughter was diagnosed by our PCM and she started meds. My spouse cannot take meds due to his job and having to take random drug tests. When he takes one of my daughters pills it is a blessing. He recently went away for a week with work and when he came home I had purchased and started reading Melissa's book, The ADHD Affect on Marriage. To my suprise, my husband picked up the book and started reading it and after 3 days he is further into the book than me. He actually started helping me around the house and has been a changed person. He told me that when he started reading the first three pages he cried because this has been our life for the past 10 years. I do not have ADHD and feel as though I am always ' on' and can never relax. My husband has become angry at me in the past and has on a few occasions raised a hand to me. I have been tough enough and he knows that if he truly lays a hand on me his career will be over. I think a huge piece of the puzzle is that adults with ADHD had it as children and most of them have another condition such as anxiety or depression that is also untreated which makes things worse. We have tried counseling in the past and when we go he is awesome then we stop because he thinks everything is fixed and then he goes right back into his old patterns. Reading Melissa's book is opening my eyes to how his mind is really working and how he cannot control things as much as he would like to. I am so thankful that he is actually reading the book also so he can see things through my eyes and understand how frustrating it is for me. I have often told my husband that he puts his job before me and our kids and he admitted to me that he does not know what else to do as his career has been his passion since birth. Last night is the first time we have talked for more than 2 minutes in years and most of it was about him taking meds on a more regular basis and what he would do for an alternate career. Hopefully we will continue down this path and heal our marriage and our family as it has taken a toll on our children seeing us yell and fight. My advice to you is to get the book and read it and get your s/o a copy also. His anger comes from his internal frustration with himself and medication alone is not the answer. Some of the meds do bring out rage but there are others to try and he is not doing himself or you any justice until he at least tries them all to see which will be a good fit for him. Hopefully this will help, if not, you have seen what the rest of your life will be like and if you do not like it or if it is escalating into something that scares you or is not what you pictured for yourself then you have to decide what is best for YOU and what will make You happy. You cannot change them no matter what you do or how hard you try and you will just exhaust yourself and start to fester so much hate and resentment towards them that it will just eat at you on the inside. I know this might not be what you want to hear but it is the truth.
Ladies, I feel like we are
Submitted by lululove on
Submitted by Mariposa on
Thank you for sharing cglenn26. I feel like I am scraping for every little hope that will keep me sane. I too am a health professional, which I embrace b/c it helps see things differently. However, at the same time- I often find myself saying "I should know better". I know I should be thankful that he has taken the first step- acknowledgement and attempt to start meds again. I have found myself lately obsessed with the traits of the ADD as I'm learning more through books and this site- feeling that I am putting all the blame on ADD for all the hurts. Is he not responsible at some level for the consequences of his behavior or is he not able to do that b/c of ADD? I am also questioning my own self reasoning as I make excuses for all the hurts. As we non-ADDs to some level feel "unimportant" b/c of their inability to be emotionally available; I then wonder why my s/o is able to "control" is behavior and what he says in social settings or is more capable of showing consideration to those not so close to him? How did I become his enemy? So, I analyze: maybe he does have some functional level to control his behavior and conclude that "it is just that he doesn't care to do it for me anymore"... So, how much of his hurtful behavior is to be blamed on ADD and how intentional was it?
I am so needing to hear him apologize at the same time trying to accept that its not going to happen. This morning, after 4 days of trying to climb out of my own depression after that hurtful incident Friday evening, I found my compassion again and the courage to make the first step in breaking the silence btw us. It is usually me. Before I left to work this morning, I quietly tried to hug him, he kept turning away- so I just spoke. Told him that I loved him and don't want for us to end up hating each other. He just brushed me off as if I was bothering him-and says that he doesn't want the day to start off a sad note and tells me or maybe himself that "its going to be a good day- leave it alone.". I take a deep breath and realized - I won't get any further with my trying to reach him. Also afraid I will end up pushing him to say something ugly. I just told him "okay" and left. So, here I am again- on top of an already unresolved conflict that I am forced to sweep under the carpet. I feel so empty and question again- if his reaction was ADD or simply b/c he just doesn't care. I swear the feeling of "he just doesn't care", feels real! I am struggling with blaming my hurt on ADD the reality of how he just treated me.
Butterfly, first let me say
Submitted by SherriW13 on
Butterfly, first let me say that I am sorry for what you are going through. It is not easy...but the one bit of positive I feel coming from you is that you're not angry and bitter about his ADHD..yet. That's good. I hope I can cover everything I thought about wanting to comment on from reading several of your posts over the boards today...
First, you said he recently started meds, right? Just something to keep in mind...the meds can make them seem apathetic and irritable. They did my husband. He was sweet and kind and once he started meds he was mean and irritable all.the.time! He switched (from Concerta) to Vyvanse and it isn't as bad, but still not 100% sweet and kind like he used to be..but getting there. This might explain some of what you're experiencing. He may need to change meds.
Also, he sounds to me like he is unraveling (I love that word, our counselor uses it a lot) and the harder you try to push him...to 'fix' him..the worse you will make things. It is hard as hell to just back up, give him some space, and let him deal with things on his own. It most likely has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with how he feels about himself. Although my husband was appreciative of me learning all I could about ADHD, he doesn't really like talking about it (although he will occasionally) because they do go through a period of 'mourning' when they feel 'defective' , as your s/o said..heard it myself from my husband, and you just have to give them time and space and let them deal with it on their own. I don't focus on the ADHD so much as just "the communication" problem we have. It is amazing of you to care enough great that you want to learn, but for now I would take the focus off of the ADHD and focus simply on bringing peace to yourself. There is NOTHING that pisses my husband off more than for him to feel like I think he needs to be 'fixed'.
There is nothing wrong with opening the lines of communication..even in the best of times in my marriage, I am usually the one who does this. I don't like that I have to be the one 75% of the time, but it is what it is. I am not so concerned about being right as I am about just getting along. I am going to guess that when you went to him this morning and said you were tired of being hurt...that is ALL HE HEARD. The most amazing information I've read about ADHD is how things like this, being faced with the hurt and pain they've caused/are causing actually facilitates a complete shut down of emotions sometimes...on the outside. They may be dying inside, but you would NEVER know it on the outside. You're better off just saying "I Love you, I hope you have a good day" and letting it go.
There is a lot of 'sweeping under the rug' in these marriages in the early years, when we just simply are desperate to get along. Of course we learn that some issues are better left under the rug, we just have to agree to disagree, and other issues are going to have to be resolved sooner or later.
Everything you're feeling...EVERYTHING...I have felt before. I know this dark side of ADHD well. It SUCKS! You do feel like the enemy. You do feel like the emotional detachment you feel by them is intentional because many of them are social butterflies. My husband has told me "I just need space..I don't want to be around anyone" but then goes right out and enjoys lunch with his friends and nights out with them as well. (all in the past, but feel it needs to be mentioned to prove to you that I GET what you're saying/feeling). It was ME he didn't want to be around. I felt like I was standing in the way of the life he truly wanted. I felt like he hated the ground I walked on. I felt like there was no way he loved me..no way! But he did.
Start taking care of you. The more you try and fix him, the more you push for answers and resolution, the worse it will get. Leave him alone and let him deal with it on his own....but absolutely let him know that you love him and you are there if he wants/needs you. I haven't read Melissa's book yet(it is on its way!), but MANY people swear by it...so get it. CoDependent No More is another I suggest you get...sooner rather than later. You cannot deal with all of this in this state of mind. You're going to have to be stronger or you will always extremely vulnerable to each and every mood swing he has..and you'll also be a much easier target for his frustrations. It is NOT about you...but you will make it worse by unraveling right along with him.
Get into counseling...with or without him. You have to learn to identify what is and isn't ADHD and react accordingly. You need to learn how to communicate effectively. Approach your relationship as something you both have to work at...and work on. Let him know that you're done with things as they are and ready for something different...and that you're ready, willing, and able to meet him in the middle..but he HAS to meet you there too. Life is too short to spend 4 days mad over ANYTHING.
Relax...take a deep breath. This does not have to be fixed tonight. What needs to change immediately is your reactions to all of this. Chances are good that he does love you. Chances are good that this is his ADHD out of control..maybe with the medication exacerbating his irritation and is behind some of his 'pushing you away'. Chance are good that the more you work on you and give him space the more strength he'll find in your sense of peace and be drawn to you instead of away from you. It sucks to know that the desperation we feel when they act this way makes it worse and we basically are forced to 'suck it up' and not take it personally, but the rewards truly are amazing when you are able to finally do this...if for no one else but you. I'll tell you like my counselor told me...he needs you to ground him. The fear is that you'll grow stronger and he'll grow weaker or think you don't need...but him and leave.. that is not how it happens. They are drawn to our strength.
(((HUGS))) I hope you can do something relaxing and help get some peace about this situation..and then take the bull by the horns, so to speak. You are being controlled by his ADHD. It needs to stop.
what if he has already left?
Submitted by jlbartoli69 on
My husband has ADHD I do not. He has left the relationship because he is not happy (for alot of reasons) mainly because I am not affectionate and loving enough towards him. I find it very hard to be loving and affectionate towards him when he talks to me in the harsh way that he does, chooses to do things with his friends or spend time doing his hobbies over spending time with me or me and our daughter. There are other things that he does that get to me as well but those are the two main things that really hurt me and make me feel unloved. But like i said he has left the relationship and does not want to come back, at lest right now he says (although I seriously think he does not want to ever come back). He thinks we are too different also. I have tried so hard to be able to deal with his personality/behaviors and obviously I have not been successful with it yet. He says right now he thinks both he and I need to work on ourselves and if we end up back together, great...if not, oh well. He believes his ADHD has lessened over the years (was diagnosed as a kid) and that he can control it on his own (sometimes with pot). He refuses to take medication (had very bad experiences with meds when he was young) and he thinks therapists don't know what they are talking about (also went to therapists when he was younger). I love him very much and I really want to keep our family together. My worst fear in life is to have my child not grow up with her mother and father together. His sister suggested that the best way to work towards him wanting to give it another try would be to work on myself (I agree with) and having a friendship with him. I don't know how I can have a friendship with him now because I am so hurt that he no longer wants to be in the relationship. I want to try but I don't think I would be able to handle it, especially since I know that he wants to see if maybe there is a better match (girl) for him out there. He has been laid off work for the past 2 years (although he has done alot of different jobs from time to time). Two months ago I had told him maybe he should leave because he was having a hard time figuring out wether he should stay and settle in our relationship or go and see if there was a better relationship out there. He really has nowhere to go and still be near our daughter so he stays on a friends couch or sleeps in his truck or takes our daughter 2 hours away to stay with family or and visit a girl who grew up across the street from him when he was younger and she was his "crush". I feel guilty that he has nowhere to go. He does have a steady job starting soon, which is good. I want so bad to continue working on our relationship but I do think that both he and I do need to work on ourselves right now. I am just so scared that I will loose him in the process. It is also very hard for me to see him because I want him back so I tell him to please not hang around the house, just pick up our daughter go do something with her then drop her off. His sister thinks that doing this may just push him away. When she suggested going the friendship route, that the best relationships are based on friendship, this makes total sense to me. I just don't know how to turn off the feeling of wanting him in a relationship to being able to have a friendship with him. Can anyone help?
did you stay living together?
Submitted by jlbartoli69 on
Melissa, When youfound out your husband was having an affair and you decided to go through the process of loving yourself again were you and your husband still living together?
Submitted by xois on
I can't believe this site...really...I am seeing things reflected on this site, feelings where I have used the EXACT same wording like parallel universe, twilight zone, etc. These comments came form a place of not understanding what has been going on in our relationship for 15 years, and internalizing and believing my mate when he was saying it was all me...all my issues, all my problems...I simply cannot believe it. it is like a veil is being lifted. My husband can totally run over me in an arguemnt. he just keeps coming at me with more and more and more words for HOURS until I just need to check out for emotional survival -- if i walk away, he follows me...he does it in front of the children even though we agree we shoudln't do it. He says I am angry, and he is right...but he doesn't know why...if I start to craft a response, he says "you are blaming all this on me" before I can even finish a sentence...I have tried not caring, over caring, ambivelence, and down right panic to get out. He is known to be cruel when he talks to me, says horrible things...he was on my ass for MONTHS about riding my bike to work, but I had to wait until june until I could becuase I was using my lunch hour to go nurse our son at the daycare center...for 6 months he criticized me, my weight, my clothes, my looks, JESUS! june came, we rode a few times, and he has given up on it. All that arguing, stresss and he just gives up. I have asked about 5 times to put the kid trolly on MY bike so I can ride even if he doesn't want to...but nope...he hasn't done it...I need to figure out how to do it myself. I can't carry all of this any longer! This is NOT how I want the rest of my life to be.
I do want to be myself again...carefree (in my inner person), excited, ready, poised instead of beaten down (not physically), guarded, impatient, and all bottled up, isolated, and terribly lonely. This add is withering me. I need to take action for myself! My friend reminds me that no one cares more me than I do! it's time I show it to myself.
My husband is newly diagnosed...he is trying to fine tune his meds...and it not yet a the point where I can bring any of this to him in a non-threatening way. He thinks meds and done...but doesn' tknow about all the other stuff...changing his behaviors to function better in relationship and household...he doesn't see an ADD specialist. and I need to work on my reactions. I love the idea of letting go of the marriage as an entity,and working on myself...taking care of my kids, and what I can control. I do 90% of the daily stuff that needs to get done...becuase his reaction to messes upsets me (and the kids) so much (mild ranting and raving, cursing etc). But I'm done with that...I'm done getting wrapped up...
This site is helping me be more compassionate...to not take his neglect, indifference, and current guitar obsession personally...This is nothing left of our relationship...its totally dead...so this can go 2 ways -- we can say, yeah, we have a clean slate...let's start new (once we both work through our issues) or well, we tried...let's be friends for the kids and move on with our lives...we'll see which road we take.
Separated Non-ADD Spouse - Learning to Like Yourself
Submitted by Sue02360 on
This is exactly what I needed to read. My ADD husband (treated) and I have been separated for over two months. Our stories are very similar, as I find with many others on this site. I have read your book and we are in counseling, separately. He will not go together and will not make a decision whether or not he wants to remain married. I feel like the whole family is in limbo waiting for him to make a decision, which has made me extremely anxious and nearly paralyzed with fear. I want to remain married and I have been doing everything in my power to show him that. Which is exactly what I need to stop doing because it is not working. I printed out the excerpt you quoted below and stuck it on my computer monitor at work so I can look at it every day. It nearly immediately calmed me down. This is a hard concept for a "control freak" to embrace, but it is "time for something new".
"Your kids are stable, resilient kids. You are a wonderful person in extreme pain. You should seek your own happiness. Don't define ahead of time what that happiness looks like. Don't link happiness with either "saving your marriage" or "getting out of your marriage". Just pursue what brings you joy. The rest of it will fall into place." He argued that I had been working to save my marriage for 10 years with little success – it was time to try something new.
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
This is a tough transition, but hang in there. Once you are at a place where you are loving yourself enough to find your own happiness you are more likely to make the right choices for you about your relationship, too.
Liking yourself again
Submitted by recoveringspouse on
I am getting a divorce after a very long marriage. My wife and I have a son with ADD with whom we are both really frustrated about his lack of planning, spontaneity, lack of accountability. The ironic thing is that these are very likely some of primary causes of our divorce. My wife has not been diagnosed with ADD, but she thinks she has it due to her own inability to focus on tasks. But where I see it is in her total lack of accountability. She has thrown me under the bus so often and blames me for all the problems in our marriage. She has explosive and long simmering temper that I always tried to avoid.
So, after being miserable for a very long time, I sought out a counselor. I picked a female counselor because I wanted to see if I was seeing the picture accurately and wanted perspective of a woman. She helped me understand that the marriage for all intents and purposes has been over for a very long time. I found out with concrete proof (though I suspected for years) that she was having an affair with a family friend. That underscored and corroborated my decision to seek a divorce.
But, like our column says, I need to be reflective about my own nature and behavior. I know that I wasn't a perfect partner for her. I traveled alot and I'm sure that I came home very tired and angry. I know that I didn't give her emotional support she needed. I can recall several times when I could have done much better. So I can have a better next relationship, the reflective part is key for me. Seeing my counselor has helped me figure out a go forward plan. My life caved in when I filed. In fact, I think I lost it for a little while. According to my counselor I am much, much better now, calm and able to see the future again.
I exercise a lot, I plan for the future. I am comfortable with the idea of not being married. What I am having trouble with is anger. I have plenty. I have so much anger towards her and him (who used to call me his friend, we would work together on weekends, have a beer together, see each others' families.) I have so much anger that it is really hard to let go of all of it. I feel sometimes like my heart is caving in from the anger. I want to, I need to let go of that. I want to, I need to forgive her and him. I just don't know how. Someone in my family told me that my wife's ex-lover actually did me a favor because my soon-to-be ex hasn't treated me well in years. That I have concrete proof which should assuage my conscience about seeking a divorce. Sometimes it does. Most of the time, though, I continue to feel shitty about it. Then I peel back my emotions (though with great effort) and realize that I am truly really sad about the impact on my children and the fact that this will hurt financially. I don't really have any lingering sadness about not being married to her anymore. What I'm feeling is pain over my children.
I don't have any idea where I'm going with all this other than to say that I am feeling better now than when this process started 8 months ago. I think the counselor has helped a huge amount. I can't recommend that highly enough. Helped me realize that others have gone through this, that having sad days is expected but to stay in the now and not what might have been. She has also helped me develop proactive ways in dealing with the kids and helping them through this. I think exercise has helped.
I am working on and will continue to work on ways to let go of my anger and receive that gift. I think that is the next major step in my recovery.
Recoveringspouse, I feel your
Submitted by jennalemon on
Recoveringspouse, I feel your pain and understand your anger. I am sorry for what you must have gone through for such a long time. Thank you for coming here to say what has been going on and letting us know that there is resolution if a person decides to stop being partnered with someone who refuses to be responsible or accountable.
Submitted by recoveringspouse on
Thank you for replying. What is very helpful for me is to know that I am not the only one who has experienced something like this. I tend to isolate (my own pathology, I guess) and think that it must be my problem and only my problem. Reading the other blogs here is so revealing that others have gone through and survived similar problems. Liberating!
Something very cool happened today. I went into my bedroom and was talking on the phone and suddenly my eyes landed on a book that I've had for a long time but never read - 'Anger - Wisdom for Cooling the Flames' by Thich Nhat Hanh. I had posted yesterday that this is my big issue that I have to deal with. And by accident? I saw this book and will begin to read.
I'll keep you all posted.
This blog and responses should be required reading...
Submitted by Jettisoned in VA on
First, may I just say this post (and it's responses), even though it is over three years old at this point, resonates with me on so many levels. I am the non-ADD spouse to a husband who is not only very symptomatic ADD, but dyslexic as well. He exhibits the disorderly habits (borderline hoarding, in my opinion), the blurting (verbal vomiting), the seeming inability to predict consequences, inability to stay focused on a topic, etc. so clearly and definitively, it is textbook.
We are on the brink of separating- for the second time. We have been together for over 10 years and there are days when I feel like I have been committed to a fool's errand. We have a school-aged daughter, who also has ADD (and most likely dyslexia, too), and by the end of most weeks, I am frazzled, drained, and feel ready to collapse from the effort and patience it takes to keep all the moving parts together. I would estimate that over 75% of the household work (he does laundry- meaning that he puts in the washer and dryer successfully, but does not have the focus to put it away) and 90% of the parenting responsibilities fall onto my shoulders, in addition to working a full-time job and scraping up the remnants for a social life and/or exercise (Forget doing anything creative, even though I am a writer by trade and training).
While he's allowed to be an overgrown kid, I am almost always stuck being the stodgy, stick-in- the-mud adult. I can't even fathom relaxing or letting loose because one of the plates I juggle would fall...and wouldn't that be selfish?!
Everyday is a balancing act of walking on eggshells, issuing gentle reminders, deflecting emotional bullets, and convincing myself that my marriage is not some kind of karmic debt that I paying off. Anything could trigger his mood swings and bullying behavior: I didn't hear something he said from upstairs (and has to repeat himself), a look I unwittingly gave (and showed him disrespect), or just that his anger has simmered over from another time and I am close-by.
One particularly delicate topic is money. He seems to have no problem spending it and/or reminding me how much he spends on bills, but when it comes to crunching the numbers I almost always end up writing a check for the difference. We have separate accounts, but spilt many of the household bills. His employment record is shoddy and he is currently unemployed, but wants to start a business. The one thing keeping him (and us) afloat right now is sizable inheritance he received some years ago, which he is going through very quickly.
Despite his inheritance, he pays almost nothing for our daughter and the situation has been that way since the day she was born. Her diapers, formula and daycare have become books, Tae Kwon Do lessons, and aftercare that I bankroll. Again, I know that many younger couples (especially those with kids) have issues about responsibilities and money, but our clashes eclipse normal.
His behavior includes angry rants, incessant arguing and harping, and lashing out. Again, I am not perfect, but all tactics to de-escalate it DO NOT WORK. I've tried being quiet (he just keeps yelling), yelling back (he gets louder), being nice (he gets meaner), and physically leaving (he follows me and/or continues through a door). He doesn't understand that his words have daggers attached to them and he spits them out like a nail gun. He blurts and says whatever is on his mind, and if I disagree, he will insult me until he is blue in the face.
Of course, the same does not apply to gratitude or compliments. Or special occasions or holidays. Or affection or demonstrations of tenderness.
He has not been on medication for sometime and patently refuses counseling, even though I've asked for it. His preferred methods to cope are to self-medicate using pot (5 times a day, sometimes more…) and alcohol, which do not help his allergies, mood swings, or health. There is a small window where he is tolerable to be around, but then he eats himself to sleep.
I'm at the point where I can't even remember who that person I fell in love with was- certainly not this raging ass. But honestly, I am less concerned about myself and more so about my daughter. She desperately needs and DESERVES calm and order (remember she’s ADD and likely dyslexic, too), rather than the chaos that is currently swirling around our house. And if I am truly being honest, I don't want to her to become or end up with someone like her father. I want her to be self-sufficient, polite, and thoughtful. But most importantly, I want her to be free from a victim’s mentality.
Right now, the freedom that would come from divorce is my favorite fantasy. It’s what I think about before I close my eyes at night and what I think about during down moments in the day. Freedom to raise my daughter away from his anger, disorderly manner, and mood swings is an overwhelmingly compelling thought.
I don’t know if I have it in me to put up this indefinitely, even in a managed way. Does anyone out there have any advice or guidance?
Thanks for taking the time to read this…
Jettisoned, I am so sorry
Submitted by recoveringspouse on
I completely feel your pain. I am a jettisoned spouse who feels (rather felt) many of the things you wrote about. My Dad told me that I would be no match for my ex's verbal attacks. She has been trained since she was young to do this. It sounds like your husband is very similar. I don't have any advice to give because that would be so hypocritical of me, giving someone advice when I'm barely managing my own mess.
I can tell you this, though. I have been in counseling and have learned how to deal with my ex's verbal abuse, moods, etc. I am learning how to work through all this pain and anger and regret. I have truckloads of each but know that my life has to move on and it is. I am now to the point where I realize that I don't grieve the loss of my marriage so much as I grieve the loss of what I thought my future was looking like and grieve (very very much) what is happening to my kids. It is horrible. I'm a grownup child of a divorce. I made it and know mine will. But it is really tough to take.
So, I guess I do have some advice. Get some counseling for yourself. I wouldn't even worry so much at this point about dragging your husband along. I needed someone to tell me that I wasn't crazy. I needed help with discernment about my marriage. That is now some 11 months out and I feel like I still have work to do but am proud of what I've done so far. It hasn't been at all easy. There were days that I was a quivering mess sitting in her office. My therapist told me that I really need to bring my A-game to work, that I have to compartmentalize this, I can do this by realizing that feelings can be strong, emotions can be strong.
I wish only the best for you. I know what it's like.
This is good info
Submitted by ShouldaCouldaWoulda on
Melissa, I am glad to have found this site- I am currently separated from my ADHD wife and only found this site 2 months ago- very lonnnng story.
I sure appreciate your allowing me to post on the forum because, reading other people's journeys, it has greatly helped with my own validation, recovery, and life strategies.
I am currently looking to replace my therapist with one who is aware and fluent with ADHD because the one I've used for 4 years doesnt put stock in it and I feel that was a diservice to me and my marriage.