Looking For Hope

I am a non-ADHD spouse who recently stumbled on this site while trying to find some information on ADHD.  I bought Melissa's book and so far have found it incredibly insightful, I am often surprised to see our exact issues staring back at us in print.  I was thrilled to find this site and to hear people's suggestions, to receive advice and encouragement, as I'm sure many of you know it is difficult to find someone who can really understand what it is like to be with an ADHD spouse.  I am saddened to say that I have found none of that here.  Everyone seems like they HATE their spouse who has ADHD.  Maybe I am confused, but after seeing all these posts I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't just a forum to feed the fires of resentment.  Or maybe I just have an exceptional spouse.  I certainly think so.  We have been married for around five years, we have kids together, he has had affairs, he has went on spending sprees, and drank way too often, and has said some pretty nasty things to me.  He hyper-focuses and leaves me alone to take care of everything else, but I certainly don't hate him.  Because he is also kind, intelligent, affectionate, fun, generous, hard working, he is a wonderful father and a great friend.  Maybe I am just luckier than others because what I see in my husband is a man that tries incredibly hard in spite of a brain that gets in his way.  When I speak to him I generally hear a lot of pain and hurt and disappointment.  When I confront him on something and he lashes out that he is just a bad husband and I should leave him, my heart feels physical pain for him because he really believes that.  But he is a good man and a good husband.  He is intelligent and attractive and in most regards a success but he doesn't believe that.  He constantly feels like he is not good enough and when I speak to him and he lashes out at me I know that what he is really saying is that he hates himself and is guilty and ashamed.  I have seen many of you write about how living with an ADHD spouse is like having another child.  I can see that, because I often feel the same way.   However, I would never treat my children as poorly as I am ashamed to say that I sometimes treat my husband.  I love them unconditionally and their pain is my pain, why not so with my husband who I also say I love unconditionally.  So I am posting something for others like me who want to focus on the positive.  I may not be able to find it but I can attempt to give it. 

I don't understand the way my husband's brain works and I have a tough time seeing things from his point of view but it goes both ways and honestly, who is to say my way is the best way.  This is about both of our happiness and both of our lives.  Here are some things that have really helped us.  I handle all the money, but we discuss weekly what we have and what we can spend.  I even keep a spreadsheet so that we can track where money goes.  This is helpful since he genuinely doesn't even remember what he spent money on.  My husband isn't a moron and he doesn't want his wife and children to starve.  He understands cause and effect.  Keeping him in the loop of our financial situation helps him to control his impulse to spend.  He kept missing family events so now we have a shared calendar.  I talk to him about the event and make sure it fits in his schedule and he wants to go then I add it to the calendar.  If necessary I remind him that its coming up.  He rarely misses anything anymore and he is proud of himself.  He owns his own company and uses the calendar to organize all his appointments, I handle his billing now so it is one less thing he has to remember and I can get the bills paid on time.  I never hold out intimacy on him.  That is the way that he feels close to me and I find it cruel to take that away from him, is it any different or less cruel than him refusing to spend focused time with me.  It also helps him to stay faithful.  He doesn't help much with cleaning but he does have his assigned chores and that's what he does every week.  He loves to cook so he does the cooking.  It drives me crazy that he rarely goes to the grocery store and runs to get meals last minute but dinner is always there and why cause a fight over how it gets there.  He takes out the trash and I set up a calendar reminder for him the night before.  Does he forget? Of course he does but I don't say anything.  The next week I will tell him, it's trash night, do you need any help getting it out?  I forget things too, maybe not as often but it would still make me pretty angry if my husband always threw it in my face and acted like I was useless because of it.   He doesn't do things the way I do, he doesn't always put things in the right place and when he does dishes he usually gets distracted in the middle and ends up with only half done but it's half less than I had before.  Sometimes I ask him to do things and he doesn't want to do them so he pretends to forget, lately it was cleaning the garage.  In the end, I figured I'm the one who wants it clean not him, so I cleaned it.  Instead of a big fight, I had a clean garage and a happy husband.  I don't ignore my hobbies or my life because he is so busy, I just work with him to find a way to fit both our interests in.  It's never been that he doesn't care about my interests he just honestly forgets I have them.  He expects me to take what I want the way he does.  So I do and he accommodates because he loves me.  What I have always found is that my husband is incredibly self focused but not selfish.  He loves to be the hero he just needs to see the bat signal before he will show up.   

My relationship is far from perfect.  We have bad days and sometimes I feel incredibly lonely but I do think that it is coming up with creative ways to help us BOTH succeed that will save us, not harboring bitterness and resentment over what could have been.  We fight and our feelings get hurt and randomly we feel like throwing in the towel.  My husband will NEVER not be ADHD.  But every couple has something, it is foolish to think otherwise.  I have my own issues, I come with my own baggage.  The point is to find ways to set yourself and your spouse up to succeed.  Expectations always lead to disappointment.  Someone once told me that I should picture my son married to someone like me and when I do I often feel ashamed about how I treat my husband.  I have a daughter who is ADHD and I would HATE a man who treated her like she was lazy worthless scum because of it.  Just because you are ADHD does not mean you do not have feelings.  In the end I do truly believe that people are generally good willed and that you must give love to receive love, be a friend to have a friend.  It is easy to blame others and to sit back and let them do all the hard work but how can you ask someone to change or treat you better when you are not willing to do the same. 

I'm certain that I will get angry responses to this (although I would remind you that if you have nothing nice to say you shouldn't say anything at all), but I would REALLY love to hear from other non-ADHD spouses who have found ideas that have helped their ADHD Spouse and their marriage succeed.  I would also really love to hear from ADHD Spouses about things that would help them excel and to feel less shame and criticism from their non-ADHD spouse. 

Thanks for listening.

I think there are a lot of

I think there are a lot of hurting people on this site. I don't think they deliberately hate their ADHD spouses, I think they're just frustrated. Frustration can cause you to think, say, and do things that you normally wouldn't do. And as Melissa says in her disclaimer, some people just need to vent.

It sounds like our situations are similar; my husband is not a bad person. He doesn't verbally abuse me. I think he's a little spendy with the money, but he's not an impulse buyer (at least not big things). Although we've lived apart for some time, in my heart of hearts, I don't think he has cheated. Sure he's not good at housework (although I think he's learned to do better since he's been living with some exceedingly dirty people and he's the only one who will do the work) and I have to be the handy one. But in the scheme of things, that's small potatoes. I say that without the benefit of having kids. I've often wondered  if/when we do have them, will he be able to be there for them? I can trust him to take care of them, no worries there, but will I be the one saddled with their care? It's for that reason that I've thought long and hard about the possibility of not having them at all. I used to resent that, but recently I've begun to wonder if I am even cut out for motherhood.

If anything, I'm actually thanking my lucky stars that my husband isn't like a lot of the ADHD spouses on here. I think our biggest problem is that we both have emotional baggage that needs to be put to rest--the ADD is just the cherry on top! Most importantly, he wants to change or fix his issues, and that mindset seems to be lacking from a lot of the stories I read on here. I think this is where I fail the most--I don't support him when he says he will change something because to my eyes, he never really does. He might do better for a while, but it's only a matter of time before he gets focused on something else. He wants positive reinforcement and I don't want to give it because I'm a hard worker and I don't think it's fair to reward for a job half done. Did/Do you have that problem and if so, what did you do to combat it? I would like to hear from you on how you got to the place that you are now. Do you just choose things to leave to him? I often wonder if I just didn't do something that needs to be done, then would he be better at stepping up and doing? I guess what I am saying is that I make things too easy for him.

I think you're mistaking

I think you're mistaking anger, frustration, resentment and confusion for hate. I also think you might not recognize that many of us didn't know we were dealing with something 'diagnosable' until years later. We were married for 13 years before my DH was diagnosed. When you don't know you're dealing with someone who is 'self focused' as opposed to just flat out selfish then you may not react in the most appropriate way. We all did/do the best we could/can with the knowledge we have at the time.

If you're behaving in ways that you're ashamed of, then you're more like us "haters" than you seem to be willing to admit. Many of us don't like ourselves and what we've become and that is the first part of the journey to peace in an ADHD marriage. You seem to have had the benefit of knowing that he had ADHD and what you were dealing with.

I love my DH and am no longer angry or bitter or resentful and am getting to a healthier, happier place personally even though he remains untreated and hyperfocused on anything BUT me. However, I have survived infidelity and would not ever consider myself lucky to have married someone who is capable of a betrayal of that magnitude. Whether it is ADHD related or not is beside the point, it hurts like hell and devastates the lives of everyone who trusts and loves them. Part of being an adult is realizing that every need you have does not have to be filled simply because you have it, especially when it is at the expense of those who love you. I admit I am rather shocked at the way you throw in his infidelitieS as if it is no different than spending a little more money than he should. Maybe I'm taking that wrong.

He is a good person...we all say that...in spite of all of the pain and sorrow we've endured (and caused). But having ADHD isn't a free ticket to treat others like crap and have no accountability. Now that he knows what he's dealing with, you bet your buns I expect more of him, and one of those is that HE NEVER CHEATS AGAIN! I demanded better of myself as well, and he is the lucky recipient of that 'better', it is only fair to expect 'better' from him as well. What is wrong with that? I can forgive MANY of the ADHD related issues...don't even really react at all to them anymore, but some I won't.

I have to disagree.

Please don't take offense to this as I am only giving you my opinion based on my personal experience.  But I have to disagree with you, I don't hate my husband, I love him to death or I wouldn't have married him and stuck by him for the past 5 years!  I do however hate the behaviors...I hate the fact he cant put me first, I hate the fact that he has cheated on me (more than once), I hate the fact that he thinks the checking account will never run out of money, I hate the fact that he doesn't finish ANYTHING he starts (I have a half remodeled house to prove it).  Hes a funny, very smart, good guy with untreated ADHD and more than anything that makes me sad, he could be so successful but he cant see that.  Please see that many of us are dealing with knowing the issue, but having a spouse that cant or wont do the work needed and this goes both ways!  My own DH is in complete denial that his ADHD has anything to do with our issues as a couple.  My husband used to be my best friend, somewhere I lost that friend to ADHD.

Do I use this forum to vent...yes I do, because I know there are those on here that understand exactly where I am coming from.  But I also take away advice and ideas that I would never have gotten if I wasn't on here.  I know that, here, I'm not alone in this battle that I fight every single day.  Don't paint everyone with the same brush...because you never know where they are at or what they are dealing with.


If you haven't seen any good suggestions or advice here

then I have to say you haven't looked very far or very hard.   If you think everyone here HATES their spouse, then I don't know what site you are reading but it isn't at all the site that I am reading.


My husand and I have been happy together throughout our marriage (having no idea of his ADD) and continued to be happy together throughout treatment to this day.  Though honestly during his times of grieving for the ADD and not doing a lot of work on his issues (not explaining how he was feeling to me even though I asked), I had some anger at why he wasn't learning coping tactics and that is how I got here.  The suggestions I received from Melissa, and Arwen, and Hoping for More, and others here at that time; gave me insight as to why he was & wasn't doing what I thought needed to be done and more importantly gave me resources and ideas of how to make him understand how I was feeling.  When he finally accepted that taking a pill wouldn't fix everything FOR him, he got more on board and it's been mostly smooth sailing since.


I hope you are married to an exceptional husband.   I certainly feel that I am!  But a person who gets mad at their husband for not dealing with their part of the issues damaging their marriages, isn't revealling hate.  This is a caring loving person who wants to work out their issues ( A hating person would just leave) and isn't getting any support from the other side.  I'm sure you'd agree both you and I would be in a different place if all our weekly meetings stopped,  he stopped sticking to the budget we agreed on together, and stopped recognizing ADD as an issue at all.   Or if he'd put you through years and years of heartache before trying to change.  Many ppl here are dealing with situations so exponentially harder than any I've faced that I frequently doubt that anything I can say would even help. 

I will go to the ends of the earth for my husband who I adore and who wants to be the best partner he can be.  I won't go across the street for a man who cares nothing for what I have to say, how I feel, what I need, nor what he can do to help--THAT is what a lot of ppl here are dealing with.  I can certainly sympathize though I don't have the same experience.

You said:

I don't understand the way my husband's brain works and I have a tough time seeing things from his point of view but it goes both ways and honestly, who is to say my way is the best way. 

I agree & this is a helpful attitude to have in any marriage but especially in an ADD one in my opinion.  Except for things like you saying he's cheated on you....I have no problem saying not doing things like THAT are certainly the best way to stay married.  I know it isn't the best way to stay married to me.

I handle all the money, but we discuss weekly what we have and what we can spend.  I even keep a spreadsheet so that we can track where money goes... Keeping him in the loop of our financial situation helps him to control his impulse to spend. 

We do the same thing.  I think a lot of non spouses take care of the money, but the important parts of this system for us are the parts that INCLUDE him rather than me just taking care of it.  The weekly meeting keeps us both on track and the spreadsheet helps him see it in black & white.  Since he agreed on how much money that category received as a budget, then it isn't ME telling him he can't spend more on it, it is the spreadsheet showing the budget has been reached.  In a tight month recently I posted the spreadsheet on the fridge and it kept both of us mindful of what we could and couldn't spend.  He's mostly stopped overspending on toys and/or interests for himself--just has them added to the budget when possible-- but now his desire to spend money will show up in extra groceries or whatever.  He just really enjoys the feeling of spending money, but is willing to work on it---that willingness really is key in my opinion.

He kept missing family events so now we have a shared calendar.

My husband has never missed events, but our problems was he'd double and sometimes triple schedule us.  We're still figuring out the calendar thing.  I hate computer calendars and he hates paper, so basically I keep my organizer and a family calendar and he puts the shared items electronically into his.  It doesn't work perfectly and I end up reminding a lot as he TRIES to double schedule us, but he hasn't successfully double scheduled us in a while :)  He is bad to not check his calendar first before saying he can do something and when he does remember it isn't always updated with all my stuff.   It is something to take care of in our weekly meeting but we've been falling down a bit as we prepare for our anniversary celebration.


I never hold out intimacy on him.  That is the way that he feels close to me and I find it cruel to take that away from him, is it any different or less cruel than him refusing to spend focused time with me. 

I agree with this, but neither my husband nor I are interested when there is anger between us.  If I have felt ignored all day, it is physically impossible for me to push that aside and be intimate.....I literally cannot respond.   If my husband feels I've overreacted to something he did or forgot to do (which sometimes happens when it is a trigger issue), he can't even think of intimacy even when I think that would be the best route to closeness.  Our resolution is to resolve the anger as quickly as possible & then try to reconnect intimately quickly also.  I applaud anyone who is continuing to have a healthy intimate life as I find that rare in ADD/non couples.

He doesn't help much with cleaning but he does have his assigned chores and that's what he does every week.  He loves to cook so he does the cooking.

My husband also has 'chosen his chores' but he doesn't faithfully do them weekly.  He mostly has to be reminded and he'll always do his chores plus more if we are working together to clean the whole house.  For example we go on vacation for a couple weeks soon and when I start cleaning up the house so it will be nice when I get home, he'll pitch right in and do anything and everything.  It is a process though & certainly didn't come automatically.

We don't have trash pickup so that is a source of arguing sometimes for us.  Mostly because the big trashcan outside stays full and he only takes it once a month or so..........once it is full, he hauls off bags of trash every few days, but he doesn't empty the can so that I can just run a bag out there.  When he forgets to do the trash, I tend to have trash that I can smell in the house (I have a great nose and he doesn't, so I smell it immediately and he never does)  

He expects me to take what I want the way he does.  So I do and he accommodates because he loves me.  What I have always found is that my husband is incredibly self focused but not selfish.  He loves to be the hero he just needs to see the bat signal before he will show up.


This is an interesting comment.  I think we have something similar.  I wouldn't call my husband incredibly self-focused but he can definitely be that way sometimes.  He might not think of something I would want to do, but if I mention it, he is all for it usually.   My husband also loves to be the hero and may also need a little nudging.  We've worked on a few code words/phrases.  For example if I feel he's been in his man cave enough for the day, I will ask him when 'holding time' might commence--he loves nothing more than snuggling up on the couch watching the shows we've recorded.  He will finish right up to get to holding time :)


I'm glad you have a successful marriage.  I hope that for each and every person here, but I am confident that you are misreading what some others are writing because they do not have a mate willing to work through the steps of compromise with them right at the moment.  I have all the compassion in the world for a person in that situation!