My husband has ADD and now I have! husband and I have been married for 8 years and it has not been an easy road.  I knew he had ADD when we got married but never really understood or realized the severity of it until we had our daughter two years ago.  As soon as we came home from the hospital I was basically alone with her day and night and it was exhausting physically and emotionally. I needed his help....but he was unable to give it (saying that "his challenges" make it hard to do the things I need....which wasn't much to begin with).  I am an independent person, always have been, so I do not need a lot of "help" from him on a daily basis.  I handle all of our finances and am the handy person in our house.  But after having our daughter I truly needed his help for the first time and he could not see past himself to help me.  Never once did he wake up in the middle of the night.  He only took two days off work (the two days we were in the hospital).  Most of the time I never asked him to wake up with her, I figured I would let him sleep since he had to go to work.  But I see now that it let him off the hook for any responsibility with our child....or with me.  I would cry and tell him I needed him to just love me and he would look like a deer in the headlights.  Long story short- I fell into depression which has turned into me being pretty much hopeless in our marriage.  He says he wants to do what it takes to make it work but I am not seeing any action- only empty words and unfulfilled promises.  I am getting fed up.  I wish he would take me seriously when I tell him I am depressed and that I am exhausted in every possible sense of the word.  Has anyone been here?  What can I do?  I just feel so hopeless...

You are in a familiar spot

You are in a familiar spot for many on this forum.  It sounds like your husband has good intentions but the common execution problem.  My husband is really good at talking but not good at changing behavior.  Hence a 4 year remodel that was supposed to be 4 months, and still no walls on the main floor.  ADD makes it really hard for your husband to know what to do, mine gets worse when he doesn't have a path, or the questions are complex.  It can be paralyzing.  Mine has improved with the help of a better medication mix, and a counselor familiar with ADD.  This last part has really made a difference.  But remember it can take a long time to make new habits, and find what works best for him. 

Regarding your own depression, I was prescribed Prozac which has helped a ton.  That, combined with reading as much as possible on ADD relationships, exercising, seeing friends, doing stuff I enjoy, and internalizing the concept that the ADD symptoms are not personal has helped me get through the ugly days and remain hopeful.  He isn't failing to change because he doesn't love me enough, but rather because his ADD symptoms are in control. Oh and I went to counseling for a year and a half.  The most important concepts I learned were: 1) I can not make him change, he has to find the path himself, and 2) what happens if he never changes, because he might not.

Couples counseling with someone familiar with ADHD can help, although I have not tried it yet, and individual counseling can be very helpful.  If your husband is willing to see someone with ADHD experience, it's a good idea for him to go in with a goal that he can ask the counselor to help him achieve rather than simply going in to chat.  Like how can he be more helpful, or how can the two of you learn to communicate better, or how can he be more effective around the house, etc. 

Best wishes.


Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback.  I have been going to counseling for about 6 months.  My husband and I went to counseling for a few months a year ago and are going now to my counselor together. The problem is that he says over and over again that he wants to change but I consistently see no effort.  I am praying that our counseling continues to help us. He is also going to (finally!) start going to an ADD support group led by a counselor that specializes in ADD. 

get some help

Hi, it is good that you are recognizing that you are depressed. And I am sorry about your situation--it is a lot, I know. A few thoughts: 

-Get help for yourself now, as soon as you can. Don't wait for him--that is a separate matter. In the meantime, get help. Go to a doctor. Treat your depression, which can get worse if not addressed. And get physical help at home. I made the mistake of letting my own situation go on for too long, and waiting for my spouse to come around. Ask. Hire it if you can. I know, it sounds extreme sometimes, doesn't it? But you are in an unusual situation, and are on your own for the time being, and no matter how independent you are, it is too much for almost anyone to keep doing it long term. Can you find some extra child care one morning a week or some help cleaning or something, or asked a friend to help a bit? I know--I was terrible at asking for help, and it should have been my husband doing those things. It exposes you and obligates you and reveals you as having a tough time. But the alternative is exhaustion and depression. These days, I ask for help when I need it, and it has saved me. You'd be surprised. Try to take care of yourself first. Think of it as a positive thing. 

-Your spouse has a condition, it is true. He is probably pretty unhappy right now as well. He probably feels like a deer in headlights. I completely get what you mean when you say you need him to love you, but he may seriously be having a hard time functioning. He may be thinking, "I DO love you." Can you get counseling? Therapy? Can he go to a doctor? Can you encourage him in a loving way? If he truly has ADHD, he may need treatment and even medication to be able to function better. 

-Your spouse is used to you doing everything. Communication is important, as is stopping doing some of the things that you think he should be doing. Melissa's book is great if you can read it. It also underlines what both people may need to do or think about in their marriage when ADHD is involved.

Best to you. Hang in there. 

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback!  My husband and I are currently in counseling.  I had been going alone for about 6 months to deal with my depression and she suggested he start coming in too.  It is very hard for me to take care of hard.  For the first 6 years of our marriage I did everything I could to accomodate my husband and then when our daughter came along I was obviously focused on taking care of her.  I am burnt out and need someone to take care of me for once and I fear that will never happen.  My husband is going to start going to an ADD support group which i am very excited about....I have been encouraging him to do this for years.  I appreciate your suggestion to stop doing some of the things I am doing.....but it is so hard!  If I dont do most of the things then they will not get done.  Or I have to remind him a million times which would just be easier for me to do it myself.  It is exhausting!  I appreciate your suggestions and I am hoping to implement them all at some point...

Your Not Alone!

After being married for 8 years I have never felt so alone!! My ADHD husband swears he would go to the end of the earth for me but words and actions are 2 different things. If I mention to him that I am feeling alone or depressed, he continues to tell me how great I have it and I have no reason to feel this way. How do you explain feeling alone when you are surrounded by a family? yes, my husband does go to work everyday and provides for our family and he does not cheat on me. From the outside looking in I am a lucky woman to have such a "devoted family man" Which in a way.. Yes I am lucky! BUT!! He makes me feel like a whiny brat when I am basically begging him to pay attention to me and my feelings.  When talking to him about anything important to me, I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall. He hardly responds to me and quickly changes the subject to something totally insignificant. I am also feeling hopeless and depressed. 

Focus on you

Just like unjoyfuljoy above, you need to help you. Get some help with the depression before it goes viral and affects more aspects of your life and self. Some do it with meds, but i preferred to improve my diet. I take a vitamin D supp every day which has helped immensely, and also helps my ADHD husband - when he remembers to take it or I tell him to take it. All the usual things that have been suggested here on the forum are so helpful, even though they seem so simple. Getting more exercise and fresh air, loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, and doing some of the things that you love. It took me a really long time to get back to remembering ME and honouring that I am valid, my wants and needs are valid, as are the wants and needs of our kids. When I was feeling really down it was so hard to get up and do things like gardening or going for a walk or enjoying some music that is uplifting because at the time I just wanted to wallow in my own self pity. But I realised that nobody and nothing was going to change my situation but me. I have learned to take responsibility for my choices, and that I choose to stay even though life with him is always going to be like an emotional rollercoaster. I have learned to have my say regardless of any potential outburst an bullying, and have also learned how to stay focused and not get too engaged in the ADHD cyclone when having discussions that turn ugly. I mentioned elsewhere on the forum that I have had my rants here on some of my bad days, and I know that's the same for so many who visit here. We all have bad and sad days, but at the end of it all, its our choice to stay or to leave. Staying means altering how you deal with the ups and downs and caring for yourself - never lose sight of who you are. But it also means you have an opportunity to grow as a person by learning new ways to improve your own wellbeing. Being with my husband on this rollercoaster has taught me to be a strong and independent woman as opposed to the co-dependent vine that I was. I have also realised that another of my choices is to either allow it all to get to me, or to find a way of dealing with it and moving on. Seriously though, if you're not already taking a vit D supp, talk to your health practitioner and give it a go. It has made a world of difference in my coping mechanisms! 

Married and DepressedI

I don't blame my spouse for my depression. I don't even blame my spouse for the struggles that we are unable to change. I've tried couples counseling, and after we leave the sessions, there is zero efforts made to use the tools unless I incorporate them into our communication. It didn't help that our counselor would not address ADHD behaviors that affected our relationship. She would disregard my mention of my partner remembering situations where I would be accused of making a commitment that I didn't make, or the daily misunderstandings that I was blamed for. Lately I feel depressed no matter what I do to fight it. I know this is because I think there is more to my spouses condition than ADHD, and this makes me feel hopeless. My wife's mother has been in fragile health for the last two years, and I have been made to run our business alone in order for her to visit her. If I ask for a reschedule, I will be made to feel as though Im attempting to prevent her from seeing her mother. I've been accused of such things while I work double shifts in order for her to leave. She's also returning from every trip with new extreme interests, and extreme diets. While she's away, I rarely hear from her, and I fear of her return. I know I'm breaking down, and my wife is changing before my eyes. The more I disengage with her attacks or defenses (encouraged by my therapist), I see more clearly how much I'm criticized, and made to feel like I'm ridiculous. If there is anything I would love more in the world is to have some peace in my life for just a little while. Since my wife was diagnosed with ADHD last year, I can't seem to have more than two days without chaos. Along with my understandings with what my wife is dealing with, my own awareness of what I'm dealing with day to day has become overwhelming. I don't understand her anymore. The changes in both our lives have pulled us both apart, and caused extreme behaviors by my wife. She received a text about her mother being in the hospital again, and she refused to contact the hospital for an update, and instead spent the majority of the day chain smoking and pacing our home. Her sister (whom has also been diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar) wouldn't return her calls or texts. After 8 hours of waiting in extreme stress, and everything with a cord layed out around the house, she finally got an update. Instead of suffering another day of waiting for updates, I told her to head out to the hospital. I woke her up at 4:30 am, and I prepared to run our business in her absence. During her drive she relayed to me that she offered her sibling a different explanation to why she was heading up. An explanation that puzzled me, because it was a lie. A lie to make her sister feel like she had planned to join her because she sensed in her voice that she needed her. These type of stories are very common for my spouse. Things often get turned around. On top of our marital challenges that are fairly normal, we have the ADHD symptoms that offer some challenges, but these stories that do not happen, and the strange accusations that only your worst enemy would attempt have been added to our situation, and I am not able to handle much more of it. My sadness has deepened into depression because I am hopeless. There's just too much that continues to add to the layers of our issues. Love is just not enough.

More than ADD

Hi tanyaD, big hugs to you, stay strong and dont lose yourself. Your story reads like a carbon copy of my own. I'm not suggesting that i am an expert in this field, but it definitely sounds like more than ADD. After 15 years of fighting, counselling, ignoring tools and diagnoses, i accepted the diagnosis from a psychologist that my now ex husband has not only ADHD, but a range of personality disorders that includes narcisstic personality disorder. My psych told me that only 5% of people with this ever come to a point of realising and accepting that the way they live, think and behave is detrimental to those they claim to love. The only constant in our 20 years together was his destructive tendencies toward himself and everyone around him, all for his own pleasure and personal gain. Like you, i dont blame him for the way he is, but had to accept that even though its not his fault he is this way, it is his responsibility to manage it, no one elses. The children and i didnt want to be blamed for every little thing anymore so i ended it it. Now, after 7 months of freedom i have my self esteem back, am working on my guilt and shame complexes, and tell myself every day that i dont need to be depressed and/or anxious about my thoughts, feelings and decisions. My advice to you is simple and offered with so much love - do your research on other disorders and make a decision about whether you can live like this forever or not. I tried to help my ex and my marriage for so long, but had to choose mine and my childrens wellbeing to come first. Now we live free of the paranoid accusations, irrational temper, convoluted arguments, forgotten responsibilities, selfish behaviour, thoughtless spending, and constant denial. I wish you so much peace and strength tanyaD in whatever you choose to do.

Thank You Mandi K

Thank you for such a kind and understanding response. I know in my heart that this cycle will not change. For eight years I've given this marriage my all, and I don't have children, so I've been here on my own trying just for the marriage. I've blown up and had my own ugly breakdown in a recent fight with my spouse after leaving for a few days because I just couldn't deal with the stonewalling or blame. I also deal with so much guilt. Am I being insensitive, or controlling, or abusive, or all of these other things I'm accused of? I know I have been guilty of being mean when I'm angry or being insensitive at times, but I don't think I would feel so exhausted all the time, or nervous about what added responsibility I'll be taking care of next if I was this major problem in our marriage. There's just never a period longer than a week that I feel stable. For the last two years, my spouse has been telling me that her mother is dying, and every time she's in the hospital, I feel bad, and cover all the responsibilities so she can be with her parent. I lost Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, and every other month to my spouse leaving to visit with her Mother, and her sister. This last year has been the most extreme, and I feel like I'm just here for convenience. I thought marriage was a family, and I'm not living a marriage where I'm part of the family. I'm the caretaker, and the one to pick up fallen pieces. I am getting a divorce, and just the thought of it scares me, because I know how impulsive she can be. She's threatened me before that I would leave with nothing, and I believe this may be the case. My one blessing is that I have the support of my family whom have loved my spouse, and thought she was part of our family. It's been difficult for my Mother and sister to see me treated this way, and the behaviors have been extended to them as well. It's time for me to leave, because I know it will get worse. Your words were so close to my experience, and I know that you understand exactly what I have gone through, and what is in my future if I stay. 

Thank You

Finding yourself

Hi tanyaD, you are most welcome. I know that living in the situation that we have experienced can make you completely lose faith in yourself - your judgement, your self esteem, your ability to just be who you are. My ex also would play on my sympathies, an interesting parallel is his mother ending up in hospital and passing away. I began to realise that his constant need to be 'looked after', his sense of entitlement, was a pattern that he'd had his whole life, and it would never change, and he would always have another thing that took his time and attention while I was just expected to run the household and cater to everyone's needs. I had several breakdowns during my 'time', and was constantly accused of being a control freak, psychotic, a liar, even accused of having an affair several times and constantly grilled about the families finances. In the end he broke me down and I bought into it and went to see a psychologist to get help. After many sessions and assessments he assured me that I was none of those things, and the short story is that he helped me to not only understand that my then husband was basically living an alternate reality, but to make better choices and get further professional help with taking my life and self back.It certainly wasn't easy, and I've a ways to go yet to finalise it all, but I can see clearly now without the constant threat to my wellbeing. I'm still sad about the whole saga, sad that it couldn't be different, but it is what it is. The only people we are truly in control of is ourselves, and we owe it to our own emotional and physical safety to make the best choices for ourselves. William Glasser's book "Choice Theory" helped me a lot, I highly recommend it. Peace, love and strength to you.