At least I'm not alone....

This is the first time I've ever written in a forum about this.

I've read through hundreds of the stories here and felt like I've had read about my life for the last 10 years.

The last two days I have driven around town looking for an apartment for my son and I to move into because I (and my anxiety) can no longer take living with my ADD husband. He is undiagnosed but if he does not have ADD/ADHD...then he must have some high functioning autism.  I'm not quick to "internet diagnose"...but the stories on this forum are wayyyyyy too familiar.

My other stories I have that while I am desperate to get out of this miserable situation....we have a young son.  And the thought of him staying with someone who is incapable of taking care of himself scares me to death.  He is 6 years old and I have RARELY left him in the care of his father....which is often laughed at by people who don't understand. But if you are parenting with someone who is like understand.

My question is....has anyone been able to divorce and ask for primary custody because of the other spouse having ADD/ADHD?  As much as I would love to flee from this nightmare....I would never do anything that could put my child in a bad situation.  And I don't mean that he is abusive....he just does not have any common sense when it comes to taking care of people or things....and barely himself.

And the second part....if you decided to stay because you could not see your partner caring for your children safely/ did you cope?

I'm seriously in just "survival mode" now....which I never in a million years thought my life would be.  My hindsight is so crystal clear with this's depressing.

Me :(

  Six years old is young, but


Six years old is young, but it least he's not 6 months old. Is there anything in particular about your husband's parenting that scares you? or is it more that he just forgets the boy is even there? My husband forgets to dress the kids, forgets to feed them... But they are old enough and used to him so they will remind him, at ever increasing volume. Fortunately,  Hubby doesn't get cranky with them, at least not often. I get the impression that your husband has had very little experience at looking after his son solo. l understand why you are concerned. On dark days when I think that maybe I've had enough, the little voice in the back of my head wonders what happen with the kids if we split and he had them half of the time. Would their teeth be cleaned? Would he feed them, remember to send them to bed a reasonable time? Make their school lunches? I have my doubts on that. I would spend the time they were away from me worrying about them.    Would your husband want joint custody? I don't know anything about how custody of  children is determined in the US. Maybe an inability to care for a child due to poorly managed ADHD would be something to discuss with a lawyer? There might be precedents for this. Good luck.












I'll give some examples....

I'll give some examples...

by Ibroughtsnacks - 07/26/2013 - 21:34

I appreciate your response so much. I knew that there would be people on this forum that wouldn't just say "You worry too much...." or "Just let him try it..."....because it's not that easy.

Here are just a few incidents that have occurred in the last six years:

1) I once had to jump in my car after he "went for a walk" with our son (about a year old) and still hadn't returned when a thunderstorm started with lightning/rain/howling wind.  When I found him, he was casually walking in the middle of the street about 5 blocks over carrying our son.... casually strolling like it was a sunny day.

2)On NUMEROUS occasions, he will come in from playing outside with our son on a HOT day....get HIMSELF a drink....and that's it.  And you are right....these are the times I am glad my son has gotten older so he can tell his dad that he needs a drink too.

3)I've asked him several times to not take our son on the bike path near our home.  There has been some criminal activity there and it just isn't a good place to be with a child. (Which is too bad because it could be a nice bike path)  And  My son will tell me they went on the bike path....and my husband will say "It's no big deal." But it is a big deal to me...and certainly to the police who have reported it to our town newspaper.

4)My son is very fair skinned...I can't count the  amount of times I have had to remind him to put sunscreen on him before they go outside in the sun to play....for hours. Or the times I have gotten home from errands....and he hasn't put it on.  "I forgot" what I get.

5) Every weekend is like "Groundhog Day".  We play the "twenty questions" game where he asks me all the same questions he asked the weekend before about what our son eats, what tasks need to be done, what should he drink for breakfast, etc.etc.etc.....I feel my body tensing when it starts.

I could go on......

The most frustrating is when he does something irresponsible or forgetful...and instead of being remorseful/apologetic/or genuinely interested in making sure it doesn't happen again.....he is more interested in how he can take the "bee off of him" and figure how it somehow could possibly be my fault instead.

Which means, whatever it will happen again.

I realize I'm supposed to be compassionate...but I feel like I married a child who will never grow up. And I don't know where that compassion is supposed to come from because I don't feel like I'm married to a partner in life...but just a "loose cannon" to take care of daily....along with all of the other duties I have to do.

I'm just tired, bitter, sad....and a mess a lot of other feelings that bubble up through the day.

Thank you again for your response. I imagine I will be speaking to a lawyer soon about this....


I'm sorry you're going

I'm sorry you're going through this.  My children are adults now, but my husband's lack of a "caring" gene, as I think of it, is still a big issue.  Our dog is old and ailing, and my husband never asks about her.  (He is away from home much of the week, "helping" his parents, who are also old and ailing.)  Hubby didn't notice that the dog was starting to limp a lot.  He didn't notice that her ear was full of gunk.  Today, when he left the house, he left the main door wide open, exposing both the house and the dog to hazards.

If not for me, we wouldn't have health insurance.  Now it's through my job but for awhile we didn't have any employer-provided insurance, and my husband's attitude was, "I don't need health insurance If I get sick, welfare will pay."  

I have filed for a separation.  It's just so sad and scary to be at middle age and realize that my spouse doesn't have my back.  If something happened to me, he wouldn't do anything, except maybe tell me to take a tylenol.

I know what you mean...

That "have your back" feeling is so important.  I have NEVER felt it. I can list 10 other people he would jump through hoops for but me.

I have often felt like you with the health issue because I have gone through a pregnancy/birth with him...nightmare. And another hospitalization for pneumonia that was equally as nightmarish.  I have told my parents that he is NOT the person I would want to take care of me if something happened. 

You call it a "caring gene" that is missing...I've told him he is missing his "empathy chip". He is completely flatline to other people's pain or feelings....except when he is "faking" it in front of other people.

I'm sorry about your husband's lack of caring for your dog or for the welfare of your health...short and long term.  That must feel rotten.

And you are is sad and scary.  I really had no idea adults could act like this.

Thank you for your response...I hope you find peace soon.



  If I feel sick, and say


If I feel sick, and say so-  my hubby instantly starts talking about how HE feels sick. It was the same when I had the babies... Just days post giving birth and up in the night with them too of course - but HE felt tired! It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad. I had c- sections each time. The one thing I asked him for, was that he changed the sheets on our bed before he came to pick me and the baby up from hospital. A small thing really? And - medically required! But... It didn't happen. The first and second times my mum-in-law (a midwife) changed the bed. The last time- he did do it, but not until I asked him to please do it, cause I was in pain and exhausted and I really had to go back to bed. And he did it grudgingly even then. I worry about the future. If I ever get ill.... He won't be in my corner. He won't take care of me. And he'll probably TELL people that he is.... It's scary.

I totally get the "people he'd jump through hoops for" statement

My husband is very popular for being a helpful guy (with others), and on one level, I'm glad he is such a generous person. But I get really resentful when he does things for others and not for me. He once went to help a female friend set up for a party she was throwing -- but he won't do his share around the house. I suspected an affair for a while, but after, I confess, snooping around, I've come to the conclusion that he isn't lying when he says there's nothing going on. One summer when he was unemployed, he spent a while helping a guy get his home ready to sell. I thought for a while he was going to get paid for this, so I didn't object, but the guy he was helping was in deep debt, so in the end, we got a storage shed, which is nice I guess, but I'd rather just get rid of stuff rather than store it in a shed. :) I recently had a major project I was working on a weekend event. My husband was very sweet and said he'd support me in this, but when I actually needed his help, he was busy helping some other people at the event and didn't have time for me. He's seriously a great guy helping others; I just wish he'd realize that, as his wife, I should be his highest priority, outside of his commitment to God!

I sooooo am living the same

I sooooo am living the same insanity. He helped move a female friend for 8 hours. Really? Did you think that would bring income into OUR household? He didn't even give me 8 hours at the birth of our child! 

Yeah, I hear you. It's the

Yeah, I hear you. It's the little things like getting teeth cleaned, remembering the kids need sun protection, food and drink... Where their clothes are. Which day is soccer practice - where and when they need to be picked up...

Basically everything? That's the trouble too - raising a child is in fact a never ending series of 'little things'. And trying to get that through to someone who is distracted all the time and only sees 'one little thing' but not the big picture it sits in.. It gets so frustrating. And the 'it really doesn't matter - you are making a fuss- it really wasn't my fault anyway' kind of responses just pour fuel on the fire.


Hello. I would say that you can seek primary custody and request that visits be supervised, but given your examples if he pushed back the court wouldn't have much cause to intervene. A lot of non ADHD dads forget sunscreen and basic feeding and caring. Your son may have to take sunscreen as his responsibility. 

I can hear the anxiety in your note. On the other hand, what are you teaching your child by staying? Parents teach their kids relationship skills by example. Is yours the one you want your son to model? Speaking from a child's experience, staying together for the sake of the child can be toxic. Children are resilient. And chances are your dh will hook up with someone new who knows how to function. 

Make the decision based on what is right for you. A healthy mom is better than 2 unhealthy parents.


I am dealing with this issue after leaving my STBX spouse with untreated ADHD 7 months ago. We are still ironing out our divorce agreement. I would love to have primary custody and most of the visitation, but he has insisted on joint custody and 50/50 visitation. I can't speak for every situation, but getting primary custody awarded in court (which means you make all the decisions about everything and spouse has no input) due to ADHD would be tough unless your spouse agrees to it or you could prove that there were abuse, neglect, or endangerment involved. It wouldn't cost you much if anything to have a preliminary consultation with an attorney. Find a family lawyer who is sympathetic to mothers. Find out what would happen--good to know even if you don't use the info. There are probably a lot of different things you could work out.

This is just my two cents, but I agree with ShelleyNW. I don't believe it is best for children to be in a home with parents who have a terrible, dysfunctional marriage. If your child would not be in imminent danger being with your spouse, you may have to let some uncomfortable things go (mine frequently lets our children wear the same clothes and sleep in them for almost 72 hours, with no bath--I grind my teeth but it is not going to kill them:-) I don't love that my spouse lets them watch tv shows that I wouldn't, but I can't control everything. Most important is that they have one parent who is calm and centered, no matter what happens. I don't react and I don't freak out in front of them. "Hm, Dad gave you kool aid and toast for lunch? Well, let's have some meat and fruit now so we hit all the food groups..."  

The shared custody my spouse insisted on is not ideal (he and I frequently disagree about discipline and life issues). But, probably due to his ADHD, he has almost no contact or involvement in our children's schooling, friends, activities, birthday parties, medical care, transportation, etc. anyway, and I end up taking care of these things. And he has had them over about 20% of the time since we split rather than 50% (not feeling well, etc. the rest of the time). So the reality that he can maintain is different than his idea that he wants everything to be "fair" and "equal." 

I hear you. My hindsight is crystal clear as well. Don't beat yourself up. I just look at my lovely children and know that I will always have that gift even though my marriage had plenty of "what was I thinking?" moments. My best wishes that this works out as well as possible for you. (You wouldn't believe the relief and lightness of heart that comes the night you move into that apartment:-)

I totally get where you're

I totally get where you're coming from. I have 4 children with my husband, they're 10, 6, 2 and 1. I am constantly dealing with the types of issues you describe, mostly forgetting/not doing the little things that are essential to normal daily life with children. For example, last weekend I went out (after the kids were all in bed) with my sister in law and told my husband to be SURE to take the baby monitor with him if he went downstairs so that he would hear if the baby woke up.

I came home a few hours later and could hear the baby screaming his head off from OUTSIDE the house (window was open). I ran in and got him.. he just needed to be changed, nothing serious, but I have no idea how long he had been awake/crying. My husband was happily tinkering away downstairs in his shop, totally unaware of what was going on. This has happened on numerous occasions, usually my older children will alert him to the fact that one of the babies needs attention.

I am currently in the process of filing for legal separation (spouse does not know this yet), because we are dealing with other issues (explosive anger and abuse), but I think that a year ago, when our youngest was under a year old, I would not have felt comfortable separating because I would have been afraid of leaving the baby with him. Now that the baby is a bit older and not in constant need of supervision I have realized that I can't handle this relationship anymore.

I think that your son being 6, he will most likely be okay. As long as the issues are relatively minor, you can probably work with your SON to make sure that his needs are met when he's with his dad. My 10 year old already compensates for her dad's ADHD by reminding him to bring along diapers/etc when they go places. She has Type I diabetes, so is on an insulin pump, and she has learned to not rely on dad to remind her to test/bolus, he is constantly forgetting that as well.. even though forgetting that could possibly be FATAL, it still falls through the cracks. While the situation is not ideal, your son will have to learn that there's certain things he may have to do for himself when he's with Daddy (like remembering sunscreen, getting juice, etc). As long as there isn't serious issues with safety I wouldn't stay with him simply because you're scared of that aspect of separation.

Good luck, I totally empathize with you. I love my kids to pieces, and love my husband for giving them to me, but if I had known that I would essentially be a single mom I would have seriously reconsidered having children with him. I have 5 kids, not 4, and it's 10x harder to "care" for him, because as an adult he can do whatever he wants and all I can do is pick up the pieces. At least my kids have to listen to what I tell them to do and I have some control over it.

Just remember that no matter how hard the situation will be when/if you separate, it can't be any harder than what you're doing now. You're already essentially being a single parent, with separation you would just make it easier by removing the contact/interaction/stress of dealing with ADHD every day.

Thank you...

Thank you so much to all the people who replied...and to the people who have posted stories that I have been able to read and relate to on this forum.

This past weekend, after reading my posts....which make me sound so angry and bitter....something that does not make me happy to be like...I did  a lot of soul searching and started walking down a path for myself....

As much as I would love to "cut bait" and leave...I know I need to do some things mentally and emotionally first...or I will just be a mess wherever I land.

My friend and I started yoga on Saturday.....which was wonderful.

We bought a nice, used car on Sunday...which was also my birthday....which although having a car payment after two years is not a great feeling....the feeling that I can comfortably visit relatives and friends far away without worrying feels like I got some of my "freedom" back.  I miss that network of people.

And above all...I am coming to terms with the knowledge that this situation is not what I dreamed of...not even close.  But if I want to enjoy my days without all kinds of anger and resentment...I better acknowledge it and deal with what I have in a healthy way. 

I am no longer going to take blame for things I have not done.

I am no longer going to seethe about misgivings but find ways to make lemonade out them.

I will acknowledge my husband does not have the same thought patterns that I do, and try...tryyyyyyyyyy to be more patient.....but maintain healthy boundaries.

I will not take on more than I can reasonably do.

That's my short list for now. 

I very much appreciate the replies and support...and will continue to visit here and gain strength. 

Me :)


I've come to very similar conlusions


My marriage isn't quite what I imagined it would be either... Yet, it's the one I've got and the three kids and I wouldn't be better off in any sense if I threw in the towel. And... funnily enough, since I decided that I've got to be a bit more assertive where it matters and just ignore what doesn't so much - things have got better. On the weekend my husband said he planned to mow the lawn. 'yeah - right' I thought. But he actually did it! Without me reminding, suggesting or reasoning him into it. I've been giving serious thought to going back to work soon as our youngest will be full time school next year. I think feeling some economic independence will do wonders for my peace of mind. Hubby is resistant... But he's just going to have to lump it, really. I'm a Uni grad too - why is it my lot in life to clean the loo and do the vacuuming?  And if one day in the future, I've just had enough, well - I will be able to make decisions from a position of relative strength, rather than feeling like a beggar. And more than that - more than everything really - I'll have my own social circle again. I'd never thought about it, but since I got married my friends have basically drifted away, or me from them. I guess I've been so invested in my marriage and keeping so many balls in the air, that making calls and visits to friends just didn't really happen. So - spending more time with friends and family is going to be a big priority for me from this point on too.