Making Plans to Leave

I will be married two years in August. I am making plans to leave my husband in the next few months.  I saw so many signs that there was something wrong before we were married but I let them go.  We are both over forty and should be able to figure this out.  At least that is what I kept telling myself.  The very day we returned home from our honeymoon it all seemed to intensify.  Of course, part of it is me.  I have my own baggage that I have been carrying around for 42 years.  But I could not understand why my husband was so childish in countless ways.  From losing things, to being so messy, needing constant attention, acting before he thinks and especially...he never SHUTS UP. 

We have been struggling to get along for almost two years now.  I have grown to resent him so much.  I can't stand to go home or to even look at him sometimes.  I have no respect for him because he does so many stupid things and I hate him for what our marriage is.  I can't do any more and I do not want to live like this any longer.  Every single day is a drama.  I feel like I am too old to live like this.  I am exhausted.  I am starting co-dependency classes tonight to try to help me see what I am doing but I am going to keep getting everything in order so that I can leave him.  It is just too difficult. 

Has your husband been

Has your husband been diagnosed with ADHD?  Have you talked to him about it?  I didn't see anything about that in your post, so I didn't know if he has ADHD and has been taking medicine for it, or what...

He takes meds for ADD and

He takes meds for ADD and depression.  I accidentally found this website and started reading the forums when I realized that he must have ADHD.  I got him a book on ADHD and he is doing some investigation on the subject.  He also agrees that he may have ADHD and has made an appt with a psych.  I hope it is not too late for us.  While I appreciate that he is working on the possibility that this could be ADHD and has promised to get help, he tends to "forget" what he is working on after a few days and we start all over again with the crazy cycle.  I started Codependents anonymous on Thursday and am working on detaching from him. 

Elisabeth's picture

You have to remember that

You have to remember that there is a huge reason he forgets - and that is the ADD.  He is not doing this on purpose, nor is he doing it to upset you.  Please take a deep breath and get ready to approach your husband and his ADD in an entirely new way.  You have to let go of the anger - first and foremost, as the non-ADDer, you have to learn to let a lot of things go.  You have to learn which battles are really worth fighting and which ones you just need to drop. 

"From losing things, to being so messy, needing constant attention, acting before he thinks and especially...he never SHUTS UP." - Again, there is a reason he behaves this way and again that reason is the ADD.  The first thing you must learn to tell yourself is that this behaviour of his is not intentional.  I dare say he is driving himself nuts too because he can't control these behaviours, and knowing how much it upsets you is probably making him feel so guilty.  My boyfriend has ADD and we work really hard together at managing it together .  ADD is not something you can take meds for and watch it magically clear up.  I liken the way the meds work to my asthma. I have really bad asthma that I take daily medication for - the meds help keep my symptoms and attacks at bay, but it doesn't stop them completely.  Meds is only part of the solution in managing ADD and meds may lessen the symptoms but ADD behaviours will still be present.  As the non-ADD partner, I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about ADD and together we have sat down and worked out which symptoms fit my boyfriend, what is likely to trigger ADD behaviours (stress, fatigue, alcohol) and what processes and systems we can use to manage our lives.  It is continual work but I wouldn't trade my boyfriend for anybody else - we have a very strong partnership and everyday we are making adjustments - Living with ADD is a continual trial and error! It sounds like you perhaps do not have a full understanding of what ADD is.  Can I suggest that the two of you work through a list of ADD symptoms and work out what fits your husband and what doesn't?  From here, you can then work out ways in which to manage certain symptoms.  For example, my boyfriend and I run a pretty tight diary so he does not forget - from meetings, to bills he needs to  pay, we put everything into that calendar.  The calendar (we have it linked to our iPhones) is even alarmed to remind hi m to take his meds. Also if I have something important to say to him, I know I must have his full attention for him to hear it.  So I ask him to turn of the TV or laptop or finish whatever it is he is doing and he knows then I need his full attention.

It really is about working little things into your daily lives and routines and learning to approach things in a different way. It is also really important to not speak in accusatory or defensive tones...the worst thing you can say to an ADDer is "You didn't do this/You didn't do that again."  

" I have no respect for him because he does so many stupid things and I hate him for what our marriage is."  Wow that is tough.  Remember it takes two people to make a marriage/relationship work and if he is going to get through his ADD, he is going to need your support and you are going to have to start helping him by understanding his ADD.  I understand your frustration and anger, I really do.  So if he forgot his psyche appointment please don't start with "Your forgot again".  Perhaps gently remind him by asking him if he has made the appointment yet, and if not, offering to do it for him.  Show your husband you are on his side.  He can't help these "stupid things" and your anger would not be making it any easier, which means he would be feeling pressure and doing more "stupid things."

I hope some of this helps and best of luck.  My boyfriend and I often think about the positives of ADD too and this is important too for your and your husband.  It does not have to be all drama.


Who is responsible for his ADD?

"Remember it takes two people to make a marriage/relationship work and if he is going to get through his ADD, he is going to need your support and you are going to have to start helping him by understanding his ADD."

Are you kidding me?   HE and he alone is responsible for educating himself on his illness.  Its his responsibility for making the necessary adjustments/changes etc so he can function.  As far as it taking 2 to make a marriage work, the non ADD spouse works way, way hard already in these relationships.  Stop blaming the person without the disability for the behavior of the person with the disability!  And not all marriages fail because of the faultings of 2 people....many, many fail because one alone is completely at fault....in all marriages, not just ADD-Non-ADD ones.

 

 

Elisabeth's picture

No I am not kidding you.  Are

No I am not kidding you.  Are you kidding me?   For a relationship to work where someone as ADD, both parties need to understand what ADD is all about.  If you read my post correctly, you would realise that I am the non-ADD partner and if I didn't make an effort to understand what ADD is and the behaviours it brings with it, I would go crazy. My boyfriend takes full responsibility for his ADD. But I also take responsibility for being part of his support network.  We work together on this and we have a great relationship and partnership - all I am suggesting is that what works for us, may work for someone else too - everybody is different, so I am not expecting our way to suit everybody.  I am simply trying to help someone who is asking for help.  

I am not laying blame anywhere.  Yes, the non-ADD spouse works hard, but the ADD spouse does too - we each work hard at our own parts that we bring to the relationship, it is just our brains work differently, so in some ways it is a matter of thinking "Right, so can we operate together so we can be on the same page as much as possible?"  As I said, it takes 2 to make a marriage/partnership work, ADD or not.  I am not talking about how marriages and relationships fail, that's not what this is about.

How long have you been with

How long have you been with your "boyfriend"?  Are you past that hyperfocus stage yet?  Do you live together? Do you have children?  Do you plan on having children with this man?  Do you understand ADD and heredity?

Give it time, you'll see.  Then you'll really understand.

 

Elisabeth's picture

Steph, it seems you are

Steph, it seems you are angry, which I can understand.  Yet why are you picking on my use of the word boyfriend by putting it in talking marks and trying to - it seems - trivialise my relationship with my boyfriend?  Maybe I do not like the term "partner" because I find it cold.  Maybe I am wrong or maybe you don't want to know that a couple living with ADD can be happy because of your own past experiences.  Remember everybody and every situation is different and you will never know the complete story of another. Hence I cannot comment on the source of what appears to anger in you. I have known him as a great friend for years, and we have been together for nearly a year.  He moved overseas, and I followed shortly after, so yes we live together in a new country with a different language and culture to what we are used to and where it is just the two of us together a lot of the time - and we are thriving but maybe you don't want to know that.   I am not saying everything is easy but we are happy and we do what we do and it works for us in keeping the disruption or the ADD moments to a minimum.  

It surprises me that people on these forums cut other people down.  Why not be supportive when people genuinely want to help other people or be happy that someone out there is making it work?  It seems like you enjoy the fact that there could be a chance in the future my relationship won't work - does that make you feel better?  I am genuinely sorry if it does.  I know if my relationship doesn't work, it won't be because of ADD.  I am just trying to help people because I want them to see there are options and solutions that could be worth trying.  I appreciate you pointing out what you did in your past post. We plan on getting married in the next 2 years, and having children not long after.  Yes, we do know about ADD being hereditary - his father has ADD, as does a nephew, and we fully expect our child/children will too.  So thank you for your concern.

Cheers,

Elisabeth

 

 

 

 

I am with you Steph!!!

  We all (ADD or not) need to take responsibility for our action/inaction and deal with the consequences. Just because you have ADD doesn't mean that you get a free pass! I do not have ADD, but I do have issues from my past that I have to acknowledge/understand how they may influence my behavior or perceptions and I work on it every day so that I can do my best to be a good wife, mother, friend. We all have issues we have to overcome and I understand that having ADD makes it hard but it is NOT an excuse for bad behavior. My husband once made a comment to me that "this is the way I am and I am not going to change so deal with it." My reply was "Okay, if you don't feel you have to work on being a better person/husband and that you are just going to behave in a way that does not consider anyone else but you then I guess that means I can do that too. Think about what that would do to our relationship."

  My husband has ADD, he is highly functioning, graduated magna cum lade, reads about 2-3 books a week (but none of them have anything to do with relationships or ADD because that is not where his interest is) and he does well with his job and tasks. He is also verbally abusive, he has horrible rages, he lies to avoid responsibility for his actions and he is extremely unempathetic and selfish. I know that these are issues that are a result of his horrible listening skills, impulsive/reactive remarks/actions, lack of focus on the state of our relationship and his lack of empathy(ADD)--all things that he could learn to overcome, just as I have had to learn to overcome my issues. We have been married for 5 years and have been in counseling for 4 1/2 years and been through 3 counselors in that time. I have read everything I can get my hands on to try and learn about ADD and to try and help/support him as best I can but I cannot change him only he can change him. So you tell me Elisabeth, who do you think is not doing their part?

Elisabeth's picture

I agree, ADD/ADHD is NOT a

I agree, ADD/ADHD is NOT a free pass at all.  I never said it was.  And I, like you, also have issues to deal with that may influence my perceptions and work hard at it everyday too - and coupled with his ADD, as you know, it can be a nightmare.  I am lucky that my boyfriend accepted his diagnosis from day 1 and is doing all he can about it, including taking responsibility for his treatment and therapy and learning just how ADD really does affect his everyday life/our everyday life .  I am also very aware not everyone is so accepting about their diagnosis or so willing to get help - which is obviously difficult for the non-ADD spouse who is left to pick up the pieces and try and keep going and a marriage/relationship going too. I am also aware that other people have faced awful social stigmas surrounding ADD/ADHD.  All I can comment on - and all I ever say I go on - is my own experience.  And I am aware that what works for us, will not necessarily work for even just one person, but all i can do is put it out there and hope it helps someone.  Aren't we all here to support each other?  I recognise that you are working your ass off, doing all you can, and all I can do is offer you my ear.  

Thank you Elisabeth

 That is exactly what I meant. I am happy that you are doing well, and I really do hope that it continues that way, the fact that he accepts his ADD and wants to learn how to best deal with it is a good sign but just be aware that many of us have been where you are now with our spouses too--at first (hyperfocus). Then things got bad, real bad. I really thought that my husband was so sensitive, understanding, my biggest supporter and that he really appreciated me for all that I am. I felt that we could overcome anything together, safe, secure and so excited about my future with him. Now I feel like I have been a victim of fraud. Now I know that fraud is a strong word but the man I fell in love with and couldn't wait to marry is not the man I live with now. I feel tricked, betrayed and angry but I am not one to give up easily so I threw myself into learning as much as I could about ADD, we have spent thousands of dollars and countless hours in counseling, I have given and done everything in my power (w/o sacrificing my self esteem) and the progress has been minuscule at best. In the 5 years that we have been married I have been emotionally beaten and drained, I have had 5 anxiety attacks and situational depression. My doctor has me on Zoloft and Xanax for these issues--I never had problems with anxiety or depression before I was married.

I doubt that Steph hopes for your marriage to fail, If you read some of her other posts you will see that she is very supportive. I think that she just wants to warn you of what could happen, what has happened to many of us that have been where you are at the first part of our marriage and wish that someone would have warned us.

Elisabeth's picture

Thanks JGSMOM

I appreciate what you have written in your post, and hyperfocus is something we are well aware of and battle to varying degrees on a daily basis.  We have been fortunate in that for the most part, even before he was diagnosed, he was able to "get in the zone" as he called it before we knew what it was, and use his hyperfocus to an advantage for his career. He is extremely lucky that he knew what he wanted to do with his life from the age of 15 and was able to work, get it and still maintain it now after nearly 18 years.  It doesn't mean that other areas of his life didn't suffer as a result when he was younger (with him, naturally, not understanding why) and moving forward, that is what we work hardest at - maintaining the balance.  We are really aware of how this can go.  I talked about this thread with him last night and as he said "We are happy, but we work really hard at it."  We are each in our own unique situations, with influences and factors that anyone on the outside will never probably get the chance to fully understand or even ever see.

Thank you for your words.  I have taken a lot from what you have said and hope I can one day offer you something helpful too. 

you are very encouraging

"You have to learn which battles are really worth fighting and which ones you just need to drop."

I am so very encouraged by your post. My boyfriend has ADD and I want so much to understand.  he has so much to give to our relationship and I need to figure out how to respond in a way that is non threatening and encouraging to him.  You have stated so many very wise thoughts and I just want to thank you.  I think picking your battles is so important. 

"I dare say he is driving himself nuts too because he can't control these behaviours, and knowing how much it upsets you is probably making him feel so guilty.  My boyfriend has ADD and we work really hard together at managing it together . "

I can sense that my boyfriend feels very defeated when he compares himself to men who are more successful and have more friends etc.  Once in a while he reveals something in an unguarded moment that lets me into his painful world, but only briefly. A dilemma for people with ADD is that they know there is something different about them but they cannot see it.  They walk around very wounded and paralyzed because no matter how hard they try, they fail.  They can't stand any more failure so they give up.       

"As the non-ADD partner, I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about ADD and together we have sat down and worked out which symptoms fit my boyfriend, what is likely to trigger ADD behaviours (stress, fatigue, alcohol) and what processes and systems we can use to manage our lives.  It is continual work but I wouldn't trade my boyfriend for anybody else - we have a very strong partnership and everyday we are making adjustments - Living with ADD is a continual trial and error! "

I especially like this.  Even if the person with the ADD isn't diagnosed they know what stressors are in their life and they may need some help figuring out how to avoid those stressors.  This is true for the non ADD person too.  We know how ADD behavior causes us stress but the hard part is detaching long enough to figure out how to stop the triggers to our own emotional state.  Then if one method fails, we have to detach again and try another method to avoid being triggered by the ADD behavior.  I really liked it when you wrote that you work together to find processes and systems you can use to manage your lives.  This is the solution.  Two people brainstorming ways to prevent stress for both of them.  Then you go on to point out that ADD is continual trial and error--I am going to put these statements in my planner to constantly remind me to do some constructive brainstorming.  If my solution doesn't work then it's back to the drawing board TOGETHER.

"It really is about working little things into your daily lives and routines and learning to approach things in a different way. It is also really important to not speak in accusatory or defensive tones...the worst thing you can say to an ADDer is "You didn't do this/You didn't do that again."  

It really is the little irritations that add up to the nonADD spouse not feeling valued.  Not feeling supported.  So what do you say when your boyfriend did not do what he agreed to do?

"I hope some of this helps and best of luck.  My boyfriend and I often think about the positives of ADD too and this is important too for your and your husband.  It does not have to be all drama."

It looks like I need to make a list of the positives too.

Brenda 

 

 

Elisabeth's picture

Hi Brenda, Your post just

Hi Brenda,

Your post just rings so true!

In terms of what to do when he forgets something? What has worked for us is clear communication - we set aside time at least once a week on a Sunday to go over the main things that have to be done that week and we try to have 5 minutes every night just before we go to bed to talk about what needs to be done the next day.  This is why our diary/calendar system with an extra "to do" list works for us.  When he does forget to do things, I ask him if he needs my help to get it done and that is usually enough of a prompter for him.  If he takes responsibility for something say for example paying the bills this month then I make sure I don't end up doing it - but it doesn't mean he won't need gentle reminders from me until it is done.  I just usually say "How did you go with the bills today?"  If something is very urgent and must be done rather than leave it to chance that he may forget to do it, I will send him a text message or email just reminding him. "Hey babe, don't forget about XXXXXX today. Let me know if you don't think you will be able to get on to it and we can work something out."  It is very rare that he will actually then ask me to do it (which also tells me that when he does ask me, it is really because he means it).  He wants to be responsible for his actions and we both know that he is and can be, but that he just sometimes needs a little push from me.  

Sometimes I find if I can relate the consequences of something not getting done step by step to him - giving him the chance to make a connection as to why it is important - we have better results of getting it done the next time around. He doesn't always get the obvious priority that a non-ADDer may understand - as I have said previously, our brains work differently - but I find sitting down and talking about the consequences from my point of view really helps him.  And sometimes by doing that, I can also understand that things are always as necessary or important as I first thought them to be.  The big thing is losing track of time and helping him understand that it doesn't always take only 5 minutes to get somewhere, or only 5 minutes to get ready, that he has to factor this time into his day too.  I had to point out that being late - particularly when you don't notify someone that you are going to be late - is not only rude, but can be looked at as being arrogant and conceited too.  We talked about the fact that you make a time to do something for a reason, particularly when someone else is involved, the timing is extremely important.  He just assumed everyone just thought "Ahhh that's him late again" in a joking kinda way.  They did think that but with a lot of frustration, irritation and annoyance rather than fondness.

I hope this helps.  

Cheers,

Elisabeth

 

 

one more comment

Elisabeth,

I am trying to figure out a way to help my boyfriend without offending him.  His friends have confided that they consider him selfish and inconsiderate.  They do not like the way he tends to freeload.  They describe a one sided friendship where he takes and they give.  Since they are only friends it is simple to just avoid him.  I think the problem is that no one is being direct with him and he has no clue that his behavior is causing others to avoid him.  Since he doesn't know why they reject him, he takes it as a rejection of himself rather than his behavior.  It is difficult for me to see him hurting because he has not learned some things that are obvious to me.

He has developed a very strong ability to read body language as positive or negative.  it is remarkable how often he is right on target about my emotions even though I haven't said a thing.  I truly don't think he has a clue about the impact of his behavior that is triggering this negative body language from others.  I want to be gentle and kind and I certainly do not want to betray any confidences people have shared with me.  I just don't know where to begin or if he will even believe me that he is so completely clueless about social expectations.  Anyone got a good book that explains all these little social nuances or expectations that no one really talks about but non ADD people know?   

I liked the way you described your boyfriend's behavior with extremely negative words like arrogant and conceited.  I don't think ADD adults want to be seen this way.  If they can't figure out how they are affecting people, how can they ever change?  Just sad beyond belief that something I take for granted in my interactions, he does not understand.  One other issue I have is that he is hypersensitive. I think he has developed this as a way to protect himself and brace for the worse.   So how do you handle a delicate situation with someone who is so fragile from years of hurt?  Usually he keeps these hurt feelings covered well, but occasionally has let me into this little corner of his world.  If anyone has any ideas, I'd really appreciate hearing them.

Brenda

Elisabeth's picture

Hi Brenda, this is a tough one!

Tough because nobody has been direct with him and tough because it could be that in the past when somebody has been direct, your boyfriend may have reacted badly. 

My boyfriend also has hypersensitivity.  I remember just after we first met - and this was years before diagnosis - a few conversations we had where he took some things I said really badly and so personally.  My initial reactions were to think "Oh god, get over yourself! And I was just being honest and friendly, not rude!"  - particularly when I know how my other friends would have taken such comments in the same context...we would have just laughed and kept going!  Now that we are aware it is an ADD symptom, he knows then that most of the time, he just has to take a deep breath and realise something said was not aimed at him as a low  blow (for example, as a result, he does not handle sarcasm from other people well - he often has to clarify that people are joking otherwise he will stress and obsess over it for hours).  This is still something that does cause a a bit of grief because I am usually very direct, will say things in the heat of the moment, but then I just want to move on with things.  He needs to talk about it and make sure he understands where whatever was said came from and what it meant etc.   So I am learning to take a softer approach with my boyfriend, like being calm before I react to something and to think about whether or not something really IS worth reacting over.  The social expectations too is a very common thing.  His dad, who has ADD too, is  the one that will say inappropriate things and my boyfriend is very aware of this symptom so he tries so hard not to do it.  The big thing is to remember that these things are more likely to happen if an ADDer is stressed or feeling uncomfortable.  

Is your boyfriend aware the hypersensitivity is a symptom of ADD?  If not, how comfortable are you and he on talking about ADD? If you are comfortable you could start by talking about something you read recently on other, less obvious symptoms of ADD....and you found hypersensitivity to be on there.  You could ask him if he thinks he has this symptom.  I find I tend to approach serious topics with praise as well.  I talk to my boyfriend about what he is good at in those situations and what he thinks he needs help with.  If he thinks he doesn't then I can say "Ok, but why do you think "so and so" was offended after that happened then?" He will give me his answer, or sometimes that prompt alone makes it click in his head.  And then we are kind of reminded that his ADD has been at work again (I hope this makes sense).

One thing we always talk about is that our brains just simply work in a different way, and how we can help each other out with our different ways of thinking.  For instance my boyfriend is so calm and collected in an emergency, or sudden changes in plans etc.  He has this amazing ability to - in a split second - have thought of a solution.  I just cannot do that, I am so hopeless at dealing with last minute, unexpectedness (which makes us laugh because how the hell did I end up with someone with ADD?), but he can so in those situations, I let him take charge.  And i know he likes it too.  Social situations is one area where he leans on me moreso.  It has helped us immensely to identify both our weaknesses and strengths and how we can help each other, because I know if he felt it was just him leaning on me for support, he would feel like he was letting me down.

Is your boyfriend open to reading forums?  There is plenty of talk about this subject on forums and the internet etc.

I hope this has helped.

Cheers,

Elisabeth

emotional intelligence

Elisabeth,

I was googling yesterday and began to wonder what role emotional intelligence might play in ADD.  I found one article that mentioned that ADD children usually lag way behind their peers in emotional intelligence.  They have not learned how to read social cues accurately and therefore they respond with inappropriate behavior.  They may read the emotions of others but they don't really understand the role emotions play and they assume the worse.  In addition to offending others, they have inner emotional reactions that are way too sensitive. 

So perhaps it is a matter of immature emotional intelligence even though he has a high IQ?  I am going to research this more because it comes up frequently.  When I cry or get very quiet because I am processing some sadness, I get the sense that he is experiencing some anxiety. 

I understand what you mean about being careful to be calm and think through any negativity I might want to express.  I also do not transition well when I have my little list of how things will be done and then suddenly expectations are not met.  I don't handle these things well.  I have also experienced the following thing you wrote: "For instance my boyfriend is so calm and collected in an emergency, or sudden changes in plans etc.  He has this amazing ability to - in a split second - have thought of a solution"  My boyfriend is very good at flexibility and dealing with a sudden change of plans.

Well, I must say you are seeing the same things I am and it is a relief to hear a positive spin on some really hard issues.

Brenda

Elisabeth's picture

Hi Brenda, That is definitely

Hi Brenda,

That is definitely true about what you have said about emotional intelligence.  My boyfriend also experiences the same thing. When in situations when I can tell he is not reading the social cues so well I try to let him know without making it obvious to anyone else, but we are still working on this - we have some cues we use when we are out, like hand squeezing or just asking him to "help me with something".  He also assumes the worst so I try never to start anything with "We need to talk" or I try to never leave things hanging otherwise he will stress.  If I say there is an issue or something we should discuss I have to be prepared to discuss it there and then.

His father, who also has ADD, will assume the worst too.   My boyfriend proposed to me during our holidays in the Philippines last week (I guess that makes it sound more serious if I can use the term "fiance" now!) and I had no hesitation in saying yes - it was a gorgeous moment and we were in the middle of nowhere!!  So we eventually made our way into a village to contact our family and we could not get hold of his dad and we so wanted to be the ones to tell him the news from our mouths but leaving a message like "Your son called with big news" would have left him full well in a state, especially knowing we were in a very remote location.  So we had to leave the message in full detail with his secretary and then wait until we had a chance to use a phone again.  

There is no denying ADD is hard to live with.  But with a commitment from both of you to work with it rather than against it, it doesn't have to rule your life.

Best of luck Brenda.