Marriage in trouble

My husband of 11 yrs was recently diagnosed with "severe ADD".  He got the diagnosis after our son was diagnosed.  The diagnosis came in the midst of martial problems...I found out months earlier that my husband was having an affair with a so called good friend of mine(to my knowledge it is still ongoing).  Knowing he has ADD explains alot of his behaviors, but does not excuse them.  I have been very willing to work on our marriage, but after a year he still has not admitted that the affair was wrong. He has refused to move out. He shows no remorse nor regret.  He still blames me for the affair and all of his anxiety. He also blames his parents for many things. I have read several books on ADD and each day I am learning more. He is seeing a psychiatrist. I am seeing a psychologist and we are seeing a therapist together. We have made no progress as a couple because he cannot decide if he wants to be married or if he wants to be single? He is in on concerta and ritalin, still working on the dosing. As the year has progressed, I have seen more destructive behaviors occurring.  He made a comment that the "void" will never be filled.  My question is can a person with severe ADD really change their behaviors? Why do they blame others? Am I kidding myself to think he could change  and that he could ever understand the impact of his actions? 

ADD behaviors and ADDer can improve...

43 years of undiagnosed ADD. (2+ years later)

The ADD symptoms can improve with a lot of work from the ADDer (Full Ownership of the ADD effects), a lot of work and patience from the NonADDer too. (You are the most hurt by the affects). Getting the meds correct is important, but it will take time for the ADDer to adjust to walking out of the ADD Fog and it will take adjustment on your part trying to react to his new awareness. Reading body language and reacting to the surrounds where we (ADDer's) were previously seemingly oblivious to.

 It sounds like you are on the right track. Keep reading here and a lot of my favorite people will help you, I will try too of course.


Thank you for your reply. I

Thank you for your reply. I truly appreciate your thoughts.  You hit the main point.  Taking full ownership.  My husband is not there.  He still is blaming everyone around him.  I have recently learned the best thing I can do is step away.  He continues to try to engage me in the battle.  I just listen to what he has to say.  I find it is best to hold my tongue, for it seems to limit the destruction. I am just so confused about his behaviors.  One minute he wants no responsibilities, no one pulling on him and a divorce.  The next thing is he says he is afraid of being married and afraid of being single.  I thought he had it in him to want to change, but the more time goes on, the more he appears to be opting for the easier way out.  It is really sad to me, he is a good person with a good heart(I don't know what happened to it), he just has been listening to someone else who is enforcing his "destructive behaviors" and telling him he is entitled to do whatever he wants( he has admitted many times that this person in"toxic", yet he still goes back). I also see an increase in his "impulsive" behaviors, I assume that is due to his need to feel better, which he may for a short period of time and then the guilt and "feeling not so good" set in. I see that he is struggling yet, he won't open up or ask for help. He tells me he can't seem to fill the "void". He tells me he has a "wall around his heart" and that he is good at pushing people away.  That he is doing..he is pushing me away and I fear he will be pushing our sons, who are just 6 and 8 away too.  I would welcome and appreciate any thoughts or comments.

I understand...

the behaviors, for sure. It sounds like you are doing the right things. If the meds were working, I would expect some of the behaviors to be improving. He is going to have to do some serious work to help get rid of the bad coping mechanisms and replacing them with better ones. If your husband is hanging out with a "Toxic Personality" friend, he might want to think about this friendship feeds some of the bad behaviors. Wanting a divorce and less responsabilities is the classic plan for the "Great Escape"... Life without knowing all the gory details always seems much better than the one you are in. The problem is you have to Blow-Up your life to do this, only to one day see that things can suck in the new life, just in a different way from the current situation.

You spouse has to get this ball of change going himself. You cannot do this for him. He has to recognize the things he is doing that is making your lives difficult.

Good luck...



I appreciate you taking the

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.  I realized several months ago that no matter how much I loved my husband, supported him or helped him, it would never be "enough".  I came to understand that he has to do it on his own.  He has not come to the point of realizing his actions have hurt others or he may see it, but wont "go there".  I understand how one may think it is easier to project or bury one's guilt/shame, but in the end it will always follow you. It is hard to watch someone walk away or not put any effort into saving one's marriage or life.

I have learned that the best thing I can do is to take care of myself and our boys.  As hard as it will be, I have come to accept the reality that my husband may not change, for he has said "he does not see anything wrong" with what he is doing(his affair). He feels the need to live his life on his terms. It is amazing to me how everyone around him(family, counselors, good friends) are showing him the truth and he still continues to justify his actions/behaviors.  I honestly feel that he is a "scared boy" who does not want to look at what he has done, but would rather look at how he has been wronged. We have made no head way on our marriage counseling because the sessions are all about him and the list of all my faults and wrong doings. The counselor understands ADHD and does redirect him. It keeps coming back to he has to decide marriage or divorce. Time is running out...I am seeing it is not healthy for me or our boys to be living like this.

Really sorry...

to hear your story... I have read so many other similar posts and I just don't understand why they continue to live in their own little reality. You are doing right to take care of you and your children. I bet some Ice Cold Divorce Papers might wake him from ADD Escape-land. If the meds are working, he "Should" begin to see to big picture, otherwise he just doesn't want to deal with the reality he has created.

Sorry for your hard times.


I thank you once again

To: YYZ, I thank you for the time you put in to respond to my posts.  I have filed for divorce and I truly do not think he understands what that will mean. I spent the weekend reading your past posts and I have a question for you.  You mentioned how ADDers like predicitability.  Would you mind explaining that a bit more?  I know one does not like change, I was just wondering if there is more to it.  The reason I ask is that I wrote my husband a letter several weeks ago.  In the letter, I apologized for the unhealthy behaviors I brought into our marriage, I asked for his forgiveness and I let him know I am working on me and repairing my life.  His response was not what I thought it was going to be, it was one of "well that is just you and then it was more blame on me", no acceptance.  I spoke with the psychologist(who works with ADD) I see who said the letter probably "terrified" my husband in that, in it not only shows I am grounded, but that I am not the same person he married.  Now that I look back, at the time that has passed since I gave him the letter, I have pulled back more, I do not let him engage me in a verbal battle and he in turn seems to me running away and "moving/spinning" more and even more conflicted.  I never considered my changing possibly being a factor in his behavior. From your perspective, is that a possibility?  And if you do not mind me asking, what was your turning point?

You are welcome :)

We are all here trying to learn, so I'm happy to try and help.

Divorce: He knows "Exactly" what that would mean (IMO), which I also would believe would be assisting in his "Great Escape" actions. I would expect he is scared and acting in many ways opposite of how he feels. He may feel guilt over what he has caused, even though may not admit. He may fear that you have gained control of your life and feel guilty because he has not. Blaming you is common because as an ADDer you cannot face another self-induced life implosion. You will not engage in the verbal battles, again the change scares him. Your letter explaining how you may have contributed to some of the issues in your marriage gives him the ammunition to support blaming you, but he knows he has as much or more to admit to. You improve, he fails... He ignored the letter, common, not because he doesn't care/believe, but because he just wants it to go away. (I'm guessing on all of this, trying to think of how I might react without meds/knowledge) I believe your spouse is acting out his "Great Escape" so he can "Believe" things will be better after the final collapse of his life with you and the children. (Why try if you are only going to fail? coping mechanism)

Predictable things: I love them because my long term memory is good and once memorized I go on auto-pilot. I don't need to worry about them.

Turning Point: About 15 years of marriage (No cheating), 2 kids, new great paying job after 12+ years at the same company as my wife, Super new job stress, long hours, new co-workers/friends that I knew my DW would question, a major father-figure died, my health was not on a good path, my DW and I lived like room mates for years, depression took over my optimistic former self. Anxiety attacks because of how over-whelmed I was. I knew something was wrong and went to my doc, who sent me to the shrink, then 43 years of un-known ADD was discovered. Everything suddenly made sense and I felt like I could turn things around if it wasn't too late.

Two and a half years later, I believe things are getting to much better place.

I hope you get less conflicted soon...


YYZ, I admire your

YYZ, I admire your honesty and your courage to share your experiences and insight.  I have learned so much from your posts and your words have helped me piece alot of things together.  I am truly grateful for all that you have shared.  What you last wrote totally explains what is going on with my husband. I can see it, but was unable to piece it together. I know he carries alot of guilt and shame, I cannot imagine the burden that must be.  He is fearful and I know he is definitely scared of the work.  To stay married will be an effort, to walk is not effort.  As the pressure mounts, so does his anxiety. He just started seeing a psychiatrist, who seems to know how to deal with ADD.  The thing is, I think he is still looking for anyone to tell him that what he is doing is okay (aside from the person he is involved with, who again he refers to as toxic).  It is so hard for me to understand why he won't take "ownership" of what he has done.  I get he is afraid of the work, afraid of failure and afraid of loosing his "freedom" among other things, but isn't the other option much worse?  My hope is that my husband (whether we are together or not), will one day find the courage to say, just as you did " I hope it is not too late to turn things around".

Thank you again !

Thanks for your kind words...

You never know when someone will get it... It will probably be when you least expect it. My wife and I had a recurring disagreement over my meds and there affects on me. I just stopped taking the bait and without the conflict things began to settle down. It is amazing when a few weeks of peace go by, things begin to normalize. My DW never really thought my ADD symptoms were an issue. I don't really talk about them to her much. I think it just reminds her of when things almost went Super Nova 2.5 years ago. Maybe for you and your spouse a little time without conflict can give him some time to sort out his issues, maybe he has decided it is easier to continue down the Escape Route. Keep doing what you are doing and things will work themselves out :)


 YYZ has pretty much given

 YYZ has pretty much given you what I would consider some great 'insider information'. I would like to add, from someone who is in your shoes, that any change you make in yourself will be seen as a threat initially. The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner (I believe) talks about how just removing yourself from the vicious fighting/anger cycle with them really threatens the partner and can make things get worse before they get better. I think YYZ is exactly right also in the assumption that he might be jealous or resentful that you can change so (seemingly) easily. Why have you changed? he probably asks himself. The imagination can run wild with all sorts of ideas...all of which will paint you as selfish, uncaring, unsympathetic, fake, and many other ugly things. Having someone break the dynamics of a relationship (good or bad) throws the other partner into a frenzy...add ADHD to the mix and you've got the potential for some serious unraveling and lashing out. Harriet Lerner says they will do everything in their power to pull you back into the old pattern and restore the matter how horrible that balance was...we all find comfort in 'the same old, same old'.

Also, sometimes I think they sense when we are getting really low on energy and motivation to devote ourselves to fixing the marriage and they use this as an excuse to 'give up'. It is easier to give up than to fight. I have always known that my husband does not have 'fight for the marriage' in him, so to speak. He is a pro at sweeping things under the rug , "I don't want to fight anymore", "you just need to accept me for who I am", ignoring issues hoping they will go away, trying to bully me into his way of thinking (although ironically I get accused of this exact thing a lot), and he is just a master at avoidance of everything...but when push comes to shove, he has demonstrated zero ability to come to me and say "I really want to work this thing out and this is what I am offering you.." He, I feel, isn't secure enough in our marriage to put himself out there and be vulnerable like that. I do it, and sometimes it blows up in my face. He is RARELY willing to concede that we've both acted like children and need to stop the non-sense, and he'll treat me very coldly for days...even after I've extended an olive branch and apologized for my part of the conflict. I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe your husband is extremely threatened by your changes and feels there is just simply no way he can keep up so he's flailing even harder than before because he's terrified that he's toast. Of course, if he's having an affair and sees nothing wrong with it, that pretty much would make him toast in anyone's book.


I agree that YYZ offers

I agree that YYZ offers amazing insights to what is going on with the ADDer.  It has been very helpful to me.  I also appreciate your comments.  You are correct in saying you feel my husband feels threatened my my changes, now I firmly believe that.  I guess I would say, is it really that hard to say.." I am really messed up and I need some help?  Will you help me out?"  I have said that to him many times over the past year,( although not lately) and I told him I would give him the time he needed.  He never said it.  I guess taking "ownership" of one's behaviors can be overwhelming.  But I would think the relief one would get afterwards would be well worth it.  That is what I am stuck on...he will not take ownership of his behaviors.  And after explaining to him what my limit was, he went ahead and "pushed the limit", got caught and  I then filed for divorce.  It is so sad that he is going to give up everything, for what?  Being by yourself.

After re-reading your entire

After re-reading your entire thread, it seems to me that you are 100% justified to file for divorce. Having an affair and blaming you? Really? Wow. You are not responsible for his ADHD, the behaviors it causes, or the anxiety he feels from the uncontrolled ADHD. You said the affair may still be ongoing. My husband was the most resistant and least willing to admit any fault when he was cheating. The full blown deflection of blame and unwillingness to admit any fault could be a way to rationalize what he is doing...since you're so horrible and make him so miserable it is OK for him to cheat..kind of thinking, ya know? So, since he would not respect your boundaries, and obviously no one would be willing to keep trying when NOTHING was being done except blame and cheating, I think you've done the right thing. If the divorce doesn't scare him straight, then nothing will. (((HUGS)))



Wow...I'm floored by your situation because so much of it could have been written by me.  Although no affair, we've been separated for months and all I get is how everything is my fault.  Even things that are so completely irrational most people would just laugh.  During the course of our separation, I worked on myself so much--I am truly now a different person.  HOWEVER, I received the same responses...not good for me to be different, more positive, healthier.  Just more walls were built to protect himself.

If it weren't my life, it would be an interesting study to see how far people can go to protect their ego self.  I was forced to file for divorce due to no child support or alimony from him, and he refused further counseling and told me he wanted nothing more than a speedy divorce.  I will tell you, the divorce papers just created even more anger and blame.  

I gave up trying to help, reason with, or even speak with him long ago as it is too painful for me and the conversations are circular.  Once we separated, he quit medications and therapy--I suppose as others have said because he thought, what's the point?  And, I do think doors were opened that he would rather keep closed.  

I have adopted the position that I need to move forward with my life, with or without him.  If he does some self-reflection, grows, and wants to move forward together, I will consider it.  But I need to live my life for me and be the best person that I can be too.

Good luck.





I agree with you that I have

I agree with you that I have to live my life and I have to put me and our boys in a healthier environment.  For the past year, I have asked my husband to move out, he never did.  He would say he would, and then he would not.  I think that was a big mistake on his part.  I have explained to him that the first time he will experience a separation will be when we are divorced.  I know he will be so completely lost, he will most definitely fall apart and this time I will not be there to pick up the pieces.  He has had many professional counselors tell him, not to divorce, do the work.  I guess it is easier to think it will all go away.  I will keep working on me. I am happy with the place I am at and I will continue to work on repairing my life, for me and our boys deserve to be in a better place.

keep writing, I am listening

Sherri, thanks for your response.  I have been reading alot of old posts and I came by the one your wrote that explained your entire situation.  I truly admire you and others who have been able to work things out.  I know it can be done and I know it is really HARD work. If anything, this last year has given me the opportunity to look at my life and change the behaviors I did not like.  I will continue to learn as much as I can about ADHD, for I have a wonderful son with ADHD (who is doing incredibly well on his meds) and a husband, who regardless of what happens to our marriage, I will have to be able to communicate with for the rest of my life.  I want to mention one thing, I read a response where a non ADD spouse asked "why do we have to make the first move?"  I was told by our marriage counselor it is because we are the stronger ones.  My counselor explained "that it feels as if I am picking on you, but in fact, you are the stronger one, so I am asking you to make the move first, and he, then it will be his turn and he will have many things he will have to answer to".  Keep writing, for I am listening and taking it all in.