Me, ADHD, and my marriage

I'm new to the forum and have been doing as much research as possible to understand my ADHD, but I need some help and I don't know where else to look so any help would be appreciated.  Here is my story:

I was diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago.  I'm in my late thirties and have been married to the most patient woman in the world.  However, her patience has been worn thin and we are currently trying to rebuild our relationship.  But, I have some issues that I can seem to find solutions to and I'm wondering if you all could give me advice.  First, just to let you know I do see a therapist once a week, because I was brought up in a rough home and have some issues that run concurrent to my ADHD.  Second, my wife and I are seeing a therapist and trying to work out the years of trust issues that developed due to my ADHD, which we didn't know about until 3 years ago.  We have been married for 9 years and were together a year before that.  I'm only telling you this for background info.  This is were it begins.  For almost 9 years I have ignored my wife.  This was not done purposely.  I didn't help her with house work or made a big stink if I had to.  I didn't touch her all that much, like hugging, kissing, rubbing her back, etc.  I didn't support her when she started her sewing business, which fell apart eventually.  I basically have jumped from moment to moment with out being aware of time and what has happened during that passage of time.  Looking back, I see where I went wrong and believe me I'm currently carrying so much guilty that it makes it hard for me to feel human much less lovable.  I wasn't trying to hurt her.  I really do love her more than anyone or anything in the world.  I could lose everything and I wouldn't be as crushed as I would if I lost her.  No one person has stuck by me like her and to think that I have ignored the person I love....it is an unbearable weight.  But, I'm trying.  I'm trying to be a better person and a better husband.  We are not without our fair share of problems though.  Sometimes I will have doubts about our relationship that is sparked by something she says or her lack of sexual interest in me and wonder if she wouldn't be better off with someone else.  Once a thought like that enters my head I hyper-analyze it to the point of paranoia and anxiety.  I can't seem break from these thoughts and in the process I will push her away, but that is not what I want to do.  However, I know if I share with her the insanity that is going on my head she will be overwhelmed and frightened.  Have any of you had problems with obsessive thinking?  I don't know what to do about it.  There are a few things that trigger this off.  One is boredom and the other is insecurity.  Since the day my wife told me she wasn't sexually attracted to me, I have had a hard time believing that she would ever want to have a sexual relationship with me again.  It has been difficult to stay faithful, but I have turned down every advance that any woman has made on me.  Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea, because there is a certain justification to what she said to me that I have been made full aware of during our sessions with the therapist.  But, one of my biggest problems with my wife is her inability to communicate with me.  She tends to bottle thinks up.  In our therapy sessions she admitted she did this because she knew how sensitive I was and was afraid of how I would react, which made me feel even worst.  The thing is that I have developed a trust issue with my wife because I don't know if she is giving me the full story.  Is she afraid of how I will react and not telling me everything?  I just don't know.  And, what makes it worst is before we went to see a therapist, we were on the verge of separation and she admitted that she had a crush on a guy at work.  This is a guy I see every time I go into work.  He is a nice guy too.  A little cocky, but overall pretty nice.  She said she was attracted to his confidence and with me feeling so broken and crushed due to the way I have treated my wife for close to 9 years, I can tell you I'm exuding very little confidence these days.  What I really need is some positive encouragement from my wife that she still loves me, that she still is working towards rekindling our sex life, and that she still finds me attractive, but how do I ask that of a woman who has put up with so much shit from me.  Honestly, I don't think I would hyper-analyze her recent and unknown purchase of sexy underwear, if I knew that she was completely honest about her intentions with our relationship.  I realize that building trust takes time, but I feel I might sabotage my efforts if I can't get these obsessive and hyper-analytical thoughts under control.  I'm still a little raw right now, because the talk of separation was only three weeks ago and I do feel we are heading in the right direction, but when my self-doubt gets the best of me it taps into the all the raw emotional turmoil of my abusive upbringing and I often feel like maybe I will never be able to change.  I don't want to go down that road it will lead to some dark thoughts that I haven't had in a long time.  At least not since I before I met my wife.  Please give me some advice.  I love her.  I don't want to loose the only person patient enough to discover the good parts of me. 

Welcome to the board. There

Welcome to the board. There are a handful of ADHDers on here, but not many.

I just want to encourage you to hang in there. Your story sounds a lot like my husband's. He was diagnosed three years ago as well and has struggled until recently. We've been in counseling for a year. He could probably use some counseling on his own as well but...that's another story.

You sound a lot like my husband as well. He carried/carries around a lot of guilt for hurting me, ignoring, generally being a a-hole to me since we got married. It's damaged his self-esteem. We've been married for almost five years and have finally gotten to the point where I feel like we're not treading water.

Have you brought up your concerns at counseling? You seem to be very aware that you screwed up, very much willing to change and/or fix things. I don't think you should be afraid to talk about these things. Yes, your wife will probably not want to jump back into bed with you until her trust is re-built. It will get there. It may take some time, but it will. I'm finally starting to trust my husband again after everything, so there is hope.

Communication is key. If you approach in a respectful, we-can-do-this-together way (and under the supervision of a counselor), you should be able to get your concerns across without ticking off your wife. Show her your post if you have to, or rather write her a letter that is similar in tone and details. Communicating verbally can be so difficult sometimes.

Best of luck to you.

Thank you.  I needed to hear

Thank you.  I needed to hear that.  Sometimes having ADHD is so difficult because so few people know anything about it and I feel very much alone.  I know I'm not and my wife has made efforts to let me know she is in it for the long haul.  However, it is more of a personal thing that I am concern about.  I definitely don't expect her to jump into to bed with me.  I have understood her reasons for the state of our sex life.  I guess that all my life I have want to feel connected to someone.  My mom told me about a time when I was little and we were riding around town.  She said I looked very sad and she asked me what was wrong.  I told her that I didn't have friends and she assured me that I did because when she would come to pick me up from school I would be hanging out with all sorts of kids, but I never felt connected to them.  I never felt connected to anyone.  I always felt misunderstood and along came my wife, who upon meeting me said she had no interest in me what-so-ever.  But, after time she got to know me and she has been there ever since.  She told the time to see past all the impulsiveness and inconsistency.  She feel in love with the kind and care parts of me that I have hidden for almost all of my life.  I couldn't ask for a better person to spend my life with.  Thing is, I was not trying to be an a-hole.  I had no idea most of the time.  I really loved her and would often react to her reaction about my inattentiveness, which would trigger my self-doubt and it would snowball out of control.  Is time really the only salve to the wounds?  Is there anything I can do to make her believe I really intend to change without her thinking that I'm just hyper-focused on it now and that months down the road I'll go back to my same "self-serving" ways?  ADHD and patience don't seem to go hand in hand.  Any advice on that?  Thank you, again.

I recognize that most ADHDers

I recognize that most ADHDers don't set out to be a-holes! But for those of us on the receiving end of the forgetfulness, disregard, and other negative aspects of ADHD, it is hard for us to differentiate. And I didn't mean to insinuate that you expect her to jump into bed with you. It was just a turn of phrase. You seem to be very aware (almost painfully so) of the negative aspects of ADHD.

To answer, your question...time does tell and consistency is key. There will be a long while when she will just worry that you are only hyperfocusing. I was that way for a while until something truly shifted in our relationship, and things clicked together again. But when I was at ground zero with my husband, I just desperately wanted to see some consistent follow-through. This is old news now, but that whole love language fad that went around a few years ago really has something to it. My "language" is acts of service and quality time. When my hubby deliberately plans to spend time with me, I'm as happy as a lark. When he says that he will do things for me and follows through--wow! I was shocked recently because I called him to ask him to do the dishes. I about fell out of my desk chair when he told he had already done. Granted, there was no room left in the sink, but the uncontrolled ADHD part of him probably would have just started assembling dirty dishes on the countertop. But instead, he focused and washed dishes until he couldn't get anymore into the drainer. It was a huge moment for me as mundane as it is.

I would suggest that you either a.) ask your wife what you can do to show her that you love her or b.) if things are too touchy for that, sit down and think about your arguments. What were they about? What was she concerned about? Can you do things differently? It's something, though I will say that just asking her is the easiest. My hubby often thinks he's doing something to show me that he loves me but it's just not speaking to me. I thank him for the effort and then direct him down the path that means more to me.

You're on the right track. Things will get better. Just keep your eyes on the prize and have some patience. She may not seem like your efforts are worth anything, but I can guarantee that she is taking notice.

Guilt will get you nowhere.

Welcome to the forum!

It seems like you are really struggling with feelings of guilt about how you've treated your wife.  This is understandable, but the most important thing to focus on now is how to move forward and treat her differently than you did in the past with this new awareness.  Guilt will only get in the way of that process as you are starting to see. 

Firstly, you didn't ignore her intentionally to cause her pain.  Intentions are very important.  Did it hurt her?  Yes, and you can still feel bad about it without feeling guilty.  The guilt is inhibiting you from being the partner you want to be for her.  So, I suggest leaving the past in the past.  Focus on how you want to treat her now from this point going forward and don't worry so much about if she's hiding any feelings from you.  Things take time and once she feels safe that she CAN share things with you without your getting upset she will.  You feel that you can't gain the confidence you need without first getting encouragement and reassurance from your wife, but unfortunately in a situation such as this, the burden is on you to "win the person back" so to speak by showing that you truly are capable of change.  Once she sees this, her hurt will lessen and she begin to warm up to you again both physically and emotionally.

It is one thing to know that

It is one thing to know that guilt will get you nowhere, it is quite a different thing to understand and incorporate this into the life of a person with ADHD.  I know the guilty will do nothing to repair my marriage.  In fact, it will slow down or keep progress from taking place, but it's not like I can just toss these feelings to the side so easily.  I was just diagnosed 3 years ago.  I'm in my late thirties.  I have treated my mom, my brothers, one of which died before I could express how I really felt about him, and my sister very poorly.  I was very impulsive as a teenager and some of that stemmed from the abuse I received at the hands of my step-father and father and some of that stemmed from the undiagnosed ADHD.  Having this brought to light recently has made it tough for me to not take digs at myself.  Don't get me wrong.  I think you have delivered sound advice.  I agree that holding on to guilt will do nothing for me.  I know because I see it in action when I try not to lose my temper, but it happens anyway and instead of moving on I pull back from everyone around me and beat myself down.  I don't think others realize how much more my own actions hurt me when I am not trying to hurt them.  I know that sounds crazy.  But, that is my reality and I have tried to figure out ways to break the pattern.  One way, which I hope helps, is to keep track of the events, times, or things that puts me in these difficult situations, so that I can find a particular pattern to change or at least brace myself for.  I have been trying to do this for years without knowledge of my ADHD and failed every time.  At least now I understand, kind of, what is going on.  I think I expressed before that I understood that most of this was personal and they were things that I can work through in therapy, but the anxiety of not keep it under control while my wife is trying to work things out with me is difficult.  Sometimes I just wish I could sleep anytime I didn't have something to engage myself in so that I would reduce the opportunities to push my loved ones away.  I don't want to give in to those types of thoughts though.

Your story pretty much

Your story pretty much reminds me of my relationship.  Actually most stories on this forum remind me of my relationship, but yours has a touch more similarities.

I'll tell you how it is on the other side, and what your wife is probably, or hopefully, thinking.  My husband is the most amazing person in the world.  He is extremely loving and the kindest person I've ever met.  And like your wife, I view myself as the most patient person in the world.  

I've been with my husband for almost 10 years now.  There are a lot of things about him that bug me.  The biggest thing is the lack of attention and romance.  There's not a whole lot of touching, hugging, kissing... Well, there is when he wants it, but when I need it, not so much.  When we first started dating, he was hyperfocused on me, and that was amazing and wonderful, but eventually that faded away.

But I've stuck around for so long and put up with a lot of crap because I still love him more than anything in the world.  And it sounds like your wife is probably in the same boat, even though we are dissatisfied with the marriage.

What you can do?

First, the things you said in your post, tell her all the stuff you wrote.  Better yet, print out what you posted so you show her that you're not just talk, you're admitting something publicly and seeking help and advice.  Your post also has a lot self-awareness.  I'll bet you your wife doesn't know that you are this aware, and she probably would appreciate hearing how much you value her.

She doesn't trust you because she's been let down so many times.  She doesn't trust you because you're not the same person she originally fell in love with.  But I'll bet she still sees a glimmer of hope and she's still holding on to the idea that you might return to the person you once were.

She's not sexually attracted to you because she hasn't been getting the affection, the attention, and the romance from you.  Be patient on that one.

She bottles things up just like I do.  I'll give you two ideas on why that might be.  One is, all the things that bother her, they sound petty.  They're little things, that if I were to tell people, I would think they would say "What?  You're going to complain over something that small?"  For example, he doesn't clean up after himself.  He'll sometimes forget to do things like brush his hair or brush his teeth before going out.  He was supposed to help me out with chores around the house, but then he disappears after 10 minutes.  He'll get on his iPhone "to check the weather real quick", end up spending 30 minutes on it, and then get annoyed when I say something about it.  These are all little things where my friends would say "let it go, it's such a small thing."  She probably thinks the same thing.  "Am I really freaking out over these little things?"  But they add up.

Another possibility why she bottles things up is she's given up.  She probably has brought some of these issues up at one point or another.  And your response probably wasn't what she was hoping for.  That's not to say you're a bad person.  You're probably viewing all these little things that bother her as a lot of whining and nagging.  Give her a safe environment where she can let all this out.  All you have to do is sit there and listen.  After you're done listening, it will be your turn to speak.  But that's not when you start airing your grievances.  You speak, and you repeat what she had just said, but in your own words.  That way she knows you really heard her.  Save your grievances for a different time.  You'll have your opportunity, but for now, this is about her, and about you hearing her.

Work together to put together some sort of plan to respond to her grievances.  Just because you heard her doesn't mean you're done.  Start by doing little things.  Be realistic.  You won't change over night, and she doesn't expect you to.  But any sort of effort on your part will go a long way.  Oh, the most important part: don't ask her to tell you what to do.  Don't say to her, "if you need a hug, just tell me."  She doesn't want to be married to a robot.

Think back (if you can) to how you were and what made her fall in love with you to begin with, and do those little things!

Now, to be fair, if you have grievances too, you can do something similar and create a safe environment for yourself to talk to her.  But do this only after she's seen you've made changes and she's seen you make an effort.  She'll be more receptive that way.

One last thing... The insanity in your head, as you described.  Tell her that to her.  Because otherwise, you're bottling things up.  Be honest with her, be sincere.  If you're worried about the relationship, tell her what you feel.  Just make sure you don't accidentally end up blaming her for things.  Not saying you do, but my husband does that a lot.

The things to keep in mind: she still loves you, otherwise she wouldn't still be there.  You have to be patient with her trying to develop feelings for you again, it's not going to happen over night.  Good luck!