My husband refuses to accept his ADHD

When I met my husband he warned me that he at times is very "nervous". At the time I had no idea what that meant or what to expect. When you first notice that something is wrong with their behaviour you just laugh it off as stress from work or whatever. Until you start to see a pattern then you try to connect the dots. So I got online to look for answers.  After yet another huge fight I dragged him to the doc who tested him and confirmed my suspiscion. I thought it would be a turning point for us but he only agreed to see her to make up for the huge fight we had. A week later after I had returned home he forgot all about what the doc said and refused to accept he was suffering from ADHD, saying it’s all in MY head. He claims I make it up to control and manipulate him.

He is in denial and is not willing to take meds or go to counceling. He links adhd to some kind of mental illness and his ego won't let him believe that he's not as perfect as he would like to be. I feel like i'm standing with my back against a wall in this marriage. I can't get through to him. In only two years so much has happened, he has ruined so many special occassions (like our wedding day) I'm sick of the verbal abuse, the yelling, the drama, the walking on egg shells but I'm not ready to give up on him yet. Might I mention we've been married for a year and a half and together for two years. I can't throw in the towel yet, there are a lot of good things too but unfortunately most of the time the negativity that surrounds him overclouds our relationship and feelings as well. He just doesn’t seem to be able to control himself, he yells, insults me, basically he’s very unreasonable. Me asking for technical information in a store is enough to set him on fire because when I ask for info in his presence I make him look lik a dumb and ignorant fool. If his collegue says he has to do most of the work he takes that as him saying that he’s a thief who’s getting paid for doing nothing.
You just can’t reason with him, he has a whole different mindset. Everything has to be about him, he needs to be reassured and praised. Nothing is ever his fault. God forbid you state your opinion, he hates criticiscm. I don’t even care so much about the fact that he doesn’t help me with anything it’s the verbal insulting and abuse that I can’t take. I need to be myself and I’m a very outspoken person, at least I was.  I’m too confronting for him. He’s not used to people like that. Even a wrong tone of voice is enough to start a huge fight with me where he not only insults me but our relationship as well. A simple disagreement or misunderstanding leads to him questioning our marriage, expressing his regrets about being in a relationship with me,  treathening to leave me. What’s worse is that he can’t even apologize for it, no cause it’s my fault, I said it in the “wrong way” so that justifies everything he said and did after that. He’s very defensive and everything I say he takes as an attack on him.
When we fight he deliberately tries to hurt me by coming home late. It’s predictable I know what to expect by now. It’s frustrating to know that you move heaven and earth on a daily base to keep them happy and calm yet to hide their own faults and defects they put all the blame on you for their behaviour. With his friends is the same thing. One day it’s his best friend, the next day he’s talking behind his back in a bad way. I had that two faced mentality.  I don’t think two people should be alike in marriage, I don’t look for a clone but I would like to at least share the same morals and beliefs. Problem is constantly surrounded by people who don’t dare to go against him for various reasons. He is used of people keeping their mouth shut knowing how he will react.

I know he loves me a lot, in his own way. He accepted my son like it were his own. And I know he would just die if I left him for good. He’s big hearted and on a good day a real darling. Unfortunately days that like are rare and amongst my married friends I feel like an outcast.
Even going to bed when he falls asleep on the couch and I can’t wake him up is reason enough to cuss me out, saying I left him there like a dog (?!?)

I could go on and on…


Can someone out there give me some advice on how to avoid these arguments, how to deal with him without giving up too much of my own personality? Someone who has ADHD or is dealing with it in their marriage.

Hi Stella I don't know if

Hi Stella I don't know if this helps but a Dr. suggested a book: Driven to Distraction for you to read or for him if he has enough patience. I haven't picked it up myself yet but if it makes you feel any better, you're not alone. I have been with my husband for seven years. He holds it against me that Ive said our wedding was the worst day of my life. The one day we were supposed to stay together he was no place to be found. I tell him "check the video". I spent the better part of our relationship holding on because of who he is as a person. I didn't see that the things that were causing big problems for us were things he's just not capable of. For example: going places, feeling stressed when confronted with questions-he acts like he's the brain surgeon at NYU"I'm busy, I can't talk right now", we will talk later." You know that later never comes. He works for himself because he could never work for anyone. The rules don't apply to him. Being the wife of someone like this is a very lonely life. I thought it would get better once we had children but it only got worse because all I want is someone to share in my life. to do things with. the things that I want are so simple and to get him to do them is so draining. By the time he actually goes along with it I am sick to my stomach the entire day is ruined. When I look back, every occasion even down to the day we brought our twins home from the hospital has been gut wrenching

....every special occassion is just a waste of time

Hi twin mama, my wedding day was a disaster too. He got so drunk that he stripped and took all his clothes of even his briefs. People were mortified. When the party was over we were supposed to drive up to a hotel to spend the night in the honeymoon suite. He was drunk so he couldn't drive, i had to drive a car in my wedding dress i couldn't believe it. This was not how I pictured it. But it got worse, we get in the car and he notices that he has lost his wallet. He makes me go in again and look for it. I don't find it and go back to the car. Screaming, yelling, cursing,...saying I had taken his wallet. Finally the wallet was found on the floor at his feet where he dropped it. But did he apologize for accusing me? Oh no he didn't. No instead he told me to drive straight home. He got angrier and angrier and yelled that he wasn't going to a hotel with me cause he was already feeling sorry for marrying me. It felt like being in the twilight zone, I remember thinking " is this real ? is this really my wedding day?" And so I did, drove straight home. He got out of the car and went in without even turning around. I was left with taking plants people brought us and luggage we took to spend the night at the hotel out of the car all in my wedding dress. I went in 5 min after him and saw him sleeping on the bed with his tox on and everything. I looked around at the remains of my wedding day and cried...cried myself to sleep. It's hard for a woman to forget something like that I think. Whenever people talk about their wedding day I just sit there quietly and remember the dissapointment of my wedding day. There's so much pain
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our (adhd) wedding day in a parallel universe

==>Twin Mama and stella7: when those ADHD moments overcome me (or when i'm sad, happy, conflicted), at times i remember my wedding as the worst day of my life. looking back i can now laugh about it and honestly feel it makes a good story for the grandkids (i.e. when we eventually have kids and they have their kids!). i had no idea that among the many situations we as non-adhd partners share, that a "worst wedding day" would be one of them!"today, our story begins....."==> the first day he proposed was wonderful (first marriage for us both) and i was on cloud 9! that evening, i gave him back the engagement ring----we had an argument over something that escapes me now. then the following day, he gave me back the engagement ring which i opted to wear on my neck instead (i took off the pendant from a necklace he had gifted me earlier and replaced it with the ring). fast forward to several months later (after giving him back the engagement ring) after a special dinner he painstakingly (e.g. he had to call the local library, and talk to the neighborhood grocer to find out what "simmer" meant! the reply: why don't you just take your girlfriend out to dinner! the "simmered" pear dessert was perfect! the kitchen was intact while he cooked with his suit on---the only damage---a chopping board that was inadvertently left on the stovetop got slightly burned----and i've kept that chopping board to remind me of this gesture from DH who never even cooked in his life before! he has since learned, and loves to bake fish and prepare asparagus!) prepared he proposed in such a personal creative way that i choose to tell the story of the second proposal and forget the first! ==> two weeks before our 1st wedding date, he cops out by saying: "i'm, overwhelmed", i have come to despise that word, "overwhelmed". the week that we were to have our 2nd wedding date, he wanted to postpone the wedding, so i cancelled instead. after two months, two wedding gowns and one reception gown later, (not to mention family and friends who previously sent gifts for the 2nd wedding date) he and i were married at the local courthouse ==> as we said our vows i was in complete shock. DH even commented how he held his breath for my answer to: will you take this man to be your wedded husband? (he actually believed i would say "no"!) after what seemed like a black & white silent movie (in my head) we were immediately rushed out of the room by the court representative who took the only wedding day pictures we had, as the jailbirds in orange uniforms, handcuffed to each other (can you say, "the chain gang song!"?) were ushered in for their hearing! as soon as we got out, i weeped and sat down in exhaustion---while in the background we saw uniformed cops run down the corridor after a lady cussing on the top of her lungs!!! ==> a far cry from the wedding i envisioned (and dreamed!) as well as planned for: 200 people, a horn trio, a choir with a full orchestra, a garden wedding and a reception indoors to feature DH on his violin and a tribute to his dad and my grandparents! after our courthouse wedding we ate lunch and he went to work that afternoon! my father had to ask for a copy of our wedding certificate (must have been the lawyer in him) to make sure he wasn't hearing things! "....and that, dear children is the story of our wedding day, (and i hope it ends like this):....and they lived happily ever after...."==> if you have not had a chance to do so, i highly recommend reading, reviewing and reading for reminders later in your marriage, dr. h's "driven to distraction" and "delivered from distraction" and make both a part of your personal ADHD resource library. i got them on cds after i read the books.

Disastrous Wedding Days

To the person who first posted this topic - You might also try reading "You Don't Have to Take It Any More" by Steven Stosny. Be careful not to let ADHD be an excuse for allowing someone to abuse you emotionally. Master/slave relationships are not generally considered "good marriages". Your man needs help, and you can help him understand that if he doesn't get it immediately he will ruin your marriage. Melissa Orlov

to stella7 with husband who might have ADHD

Hi stella7 - you could have been me, everything you wrote is exactly the same with me, except for the fact that I don't have any children. One thing I CAN share is that my husband is on ADHD meds, and while it has helped him focus, it has NOT helped with defensiveness, ultra-sensitivity or passive aggressive behavior (like not coming home just to get back at you). Our situation escalated past verbal abuse and acting out and went into physical abuse for a while. I honestly don't know if there is a solution, after nearly two two years of marriage, I am seriously looking for a way out. I have become a very different person, and the mental stress of living with someone as volatile as this has become very hard on me. I am also very angry and have acted out myself on occasion. I don't advise that you do the same thing, nor do I even suggest that you look for a divorce, but I do suggest that if you want to save our marriage, you need to find a counselor who is familiar with ADHD and the accompanying issues with it as it pertains to marriage. DO NOT APPROACH this as if "something is wrong with him" - but rather, try to convince your husband to work with you towards fixing your marriage through counseling. If he needs meds, then the counselor will figure that out after a point and hopefully, lead him there. I am not sure what else to say to help you, because i have not been able to figure out my own situation, but I can tell you, this is NOT something that will fix itself unless you do something to get help.

New here but I know how you feel

Hi, this is my first post. I was happy to finally find this website, after 24 years of living with a husband with undiagnosed ADHD (or some form of it). For those of you who are wondering if clearer communication would be one of the solutions in mitigating the negative experiences you have had with your partners, I can attest to the fact that 24 years of fine-tuning my communication skills (and I have a degree in psychology) has not resulted in much success in communication with my husband. The problem - it seems to me - is that people with ADD or ADHD are trapped in a pattern of behavior that was created by them in response to the outside world, at an early age. The first step in their evolving out of this response trap is to being by trying a more simplistic train of thought: 1) everyone wants to be happy 2) I don't live in a vacuum - my happiness is also affected by the happiness of others around me 3) if my behavior is inadventently causing me or others to be unhappy, then if I want to be happy, then I should try to change the behavior that no longer works for me 4) I am not responsible for my own childhood experience that may have created the patterns of behavior that cause me or others unhappiness; but, I am responsible for how I react or act today that causes unhappiness in others 5) there are options for me to control or change the behavior that causes my unhappiness: options might include medication and/or therapy designed to understand how my behavior is not creating the success and happiness I would like 6) my partner (spouse, etc.) is not the person (probably parent) who first created this behavior reaction in me; I can trust that my partner honestly wants to be happy and wants happiness for me

One of my own great frustrations is that I have been unsuccessful up to this point in convincing my husband to face and address the behavior issues that have been "the elephant in the room" for all these years. It was our child (23 years, college grad, successful, kind-hearted kid) who first mentioned to me that he himself might have some symptoms of ADD and he was considering seeing a therapist and using medication. As I began to research this disorder, I began to see a picture of my husband. For many years, I'd questioned my own sanity, until I read that one of the symptoms of ADD may be that the ADD person actually lives in a different reality and processes events differently- for example, creates a completely fake memory of what was said or not said in an argument. For me, someone who prides herself on honesty, kindness, and sensitivity, this has always been very difficult.

One of the most devastating experiences for a non-ADD partner - in my own experience - is that the ADD partner can switch immediately from a loving husband to a cruel verbally abusive person, and with absolutely no provocation. The non-ADD partner may not even have a clue as to what behavior or word of theirs caused this change. Thus, the habit of "walking on eggshells" - to avoid any possibility of  confrontation. The fact that the confrontation and the verbal abuse is not only unwarranted but actually may be in response to an attempt at kindness or assistance on the part of the non-ADD partner makes it even worse. The ADD partner seems unable to stop the behavior train once it starts; the non-ADD partner may try to offer neutral clarfication, calming-down gentleness, or other ways to stop the verbal assault, but to no avail. Soon after, the ADD partner may either apologize, spend a period of time "in a snit", or act as if nothing has happened. Meanwhile, the non-ADD partner feels devastated. I have experienced this many times. It seems not unlike being physically beaten. The difference is that it leaves no scars.

I have seen some gradual progress in my husband trying to deal with the behaviors that are unsuccessful for him (and thus me and us): compulsive spending, avoiding necessary action (not simple tasks left undone for a week, but for decades), anger responses far out-of-proportion to the situation, and not taking responsibility and blaming others.

What has helped me the most is: strengthening myself through meditation and yoga practice; exercise; comraderie with other women; a job that is not exciting but offers me personal satisfaction in completing projects; and serving others (I care for my infirm mother full time). I have neglected seeking therapy for myself, although I do take medication for depression. Therapy would be helpful, but I haven't had the extra money to pay for it.

I appreciate being able to post these thoughts; and I hope that my experience might be of benefit to someone who is also dealing with this issue. 

Little Progress in Husband with ADD

Your husband exhibits many of the same traits that my husband did before he fully accepted that he had ADD and started to treat it.  Understand that the experiences you have had up to this point do not necessarily predict the experiences you will have in the future should your husband decide to get a full diagnosis and start treating his ADD.  Perhaps your son's exploration of how medication helps him might inspire your husband to seek assistance, particularly if they were close.  Perhaps you can encourage your son to share his experiences as they unfold with both of you (not just you) so that your husband can hear them first hand?  This would help keep it from looking as if you are pressing a personal agenda by being the one to bring forward the info.  Also, it would give your husband the opportunity to ask questions, or to hear the answers to questions that you ask of your son in your husband's presence, that might open new ideas for him.

The unexpected spurts of anger are a big issue.  We had those here, and I will tell you that they have stopped completely since my husband started his medications for ADHD (in this case, Wellbutrin).  And, when he takes a break from his meds to test whether or not he needs to continue to take them (a process of which I approve), the spurts of anger come right back.  Even he has the ability to see them for what they are now - intensely destructive.

The memory issues have to do with how the brain works.  There is some evidence that people ADD move into the mode of retrieving memories from deep memory faster than others - which means their brain pieces together snippets of information and "creates" a story around them faster...and the story that "makes sense" to their brains is often not that accurate (perhaps because they aren't good at taking in details often)...he isn't lying, it's how his mind works.  If you want more info on this, go to the Hallowell Connections newsletter archives and look for an article on memory (I don't remember the exact issue).  Archives can be found at

The compulsive spending, the inability to complete tasks, etc are all symptomatic of ADD - untreated ADD.  Are you taking a long car trip together soon?  If so, get a copy of the audio version of Delivered from Distraction and listen to it on the trip (it's about 3 hours long).  Tell him that you are listening to learn more about ADHD because your son says he thinks he might have direct or threatening comments about how you think he might have it, too...he'll figure out if he sees himself.

I'm going to disagree with you on your premise that people like your husband are trapped in behaviors that they learned at an early age.  He isn't trapped into unchangeable behaviors that he learned.  His behaviors don't change because they are biologically based and he is untreated.  Just as if he couldn't see and needed glasses and didn't get them.  He can try to focus all he wants, but still won't be able to see without the glasses.  While poor eyesight is easier to cure, as it has no psychological side to it, nonetheless once your husband starts treatment for ADD (assuming he really has it) you will find that he will start to be able to address his issues.  It won't happen overnight (the psychological scars of dealing with this negative stuff for so long take time to heal) but you will notice a difference.  I say this because you indicate that he has started to address some of his issues (or try to) already - so he admits that they are there. 

Once he starts treatment, your job will be to gather enthusiasm for his efforts and support them as best you can.  With your psychology background you seem to have avoided one of the big problems that many run into - taking over for him and stepping all over him.  You seem to have remained separate from him, which is a good thing, and will make helping him from the proper distance a good bit easier.  But you will experience some ambivalence about his struggles - when he starts improving you will gain hope, then he'll have a problem that will remind you of his past issues and that will depress's a bit of a roller coaster for a while...but the general direction once treatment starts (assuming it's effective treatment and embraced by both of you) will be positive.

Keep doing all the things you've been doing to help yourself, too.  But don't give up on him, either.



Thank you for your hopeful comments. I have been married for 15 miserable years. Though I have deep, abiding, love for who I thought my husband was when I married him now I don't know who or what he is. Right away I could tell something was wrong. Soon into the marriage I found books on ADHD and lo and behold there my husband was. He refused help for 14 years. My life has been agony but i didn't give up becuse I beleived he had a heart of gold. A couple years ago, which was our 13th year of marriage, I was talking to a counselor at an ADHD clinic (she worked at the clinic but was not a psychologist) who said my husband sounded more like a pathological narcissist and referred me to Scott Peck's book, People of the Lie. Lo and behold, there my husband was again. Finally my husband agreed to talk to a famous psychlogist who specializes in narcissism. we had a couple of joint phone sessions--marriage couseling, basically. He refused to talk with her after that, I assume becuase she readily identified him as severly abusive. Privately, in a phone converstaion with me, she characterized him as sounding, "borderline" "narcissistic" mildly autisitc" "sadisitc" and a pathological liar. I nearly fell off my chair. He takes adderall which has greatly improved his memory and task completion but does little if anything for the defenseiveness, anger, volatility, scapegoating, projecting, etc. etc. Recently I found out my suspicions about strange sexual behavior turned up a heavy internet pornography habit which he has lied about. Guess that's common with men these days. I pray a lot. I wonder what God wants for all of us women. To this day he tells me he loves me with all his heart, even as he continues to lie, yell, ignore, and basically violate every boundary I set. Any prayers or advice is welcomed. God bless you

ADD and Narcissism

It is very common for an adult who has ADD to seem like a narcissist. The essence of narcissism is the inability to give or receive love. The naricssist becomes very needy, because he has little or no inner store of self-regard, and also quick to put others down, as any hint of a put-down from someone else sends him into a rage. He often performs at a high level professionally, as he is always trying to impress others and gather their admiration. But their admiration does little to nourish him, as he is a bottomless pit of unmet needs. He is unable to "metabolize" and make use of true love from others, just as he is unable to give true love. ADD is quite a different story. People with ADD are very able to love and receive love. However, because their attention can be so easily diverted, they can seem as if they are lost in the self-absorbed state of the narcissist. And, because their tolerance of frustration is low (due to repeated failures), they can be quick to anger, like the narcissist. However, the two conditions are utterly different. If your husband is primarily ADD, rather than primarily a narcissist, he ought to be able to respond to a therapist who really "gets" ADD. He ought to feel a great sense of relief at being understood at last. He is likely seeking for that kind of understanding, then when he doesn't get it, he likely disparages the person (therapist, or you, or whomever) who fails to understand him in the way he so desperately needs to be understood. Please send me an email if you'd like to discuss this further. ehallowell at aol dot com


I am so happy to have found this site.  I thought I was losing my mind until I read stories from people who are living my life.  To noVAmom - ditto, ditto, ditto.  I had the same situation where my son, who is 18, recently asked to be evaluated for ADD and is now so much happier on Vyvanse.  During his "trial and error" period with meds, I was able to get my husband to try Concerta - and he was a different person for a week - everyone noticed.  My husband even said that he felt better, but after that script ran out, he refused to get his own medication.

My husband was on Ritalin until the 8th grade.  Why his meds were stopped, I don't know, although I've read that it was believed that ADD ended with adolescence.  We met when we were both 16 and throughout our lives everyone accepted his hyperactive personality.  He has all the classic symptons, disappearing for hours when he says he'll "be right back".  Not telling me things but insisting that he did, constantly repeating himself, blurting out statements that have nothing to do with the topic.  In addition, I do absolutely every nuance required to run our lives and family.  I plan every event, vacation, Dr. appt., etc.  as his life runs seamlessly.  If the dishwasher needs to be emptied, he leaves his cereal bowl in the sink.  That's left for me to do.  If my son forgets to put the trash out, I do it.  When we have a party or holiday dinner, he is just another guest.  If the timer is off on the outside lights, I fix it.  I get the oil changed in my car and have it inspected.  I stay up and wait until our 2 teenagers are home at night, while he gets to sleep.  He doesn't ever miss one second of sleep - nothing is important enough to keep him awake.  When the phone rang at 11:30 p.m. and it was a police officer telling me that he pulled my son over for speeding, I'm the one who took the call - he doesn't hear the phone ring, and when I tried to wake him up to tell him what was happening, he acted like he just climbed Mt. Everest and rolls over in exhaustion.  I'M EXHAUSTED!

Over our 23 years of marriage, I've accepted his actions, however, in the past couple of years, his symptoms have worsened.  He gets up in the morning and goes to work.  He comes home at night, has dinner, and his day is over.  Meanwhile, I'm washing and cleaning and making beds before I go to work.  At night, I'm making dinner, washing, food shopping and cleaning before bed.  My weekends are spent taking care of the house.  His are spent watching tv.  Then he has the nerve to ask me - "why are you so tired?"  My children are the only help I have.  To make matters worse, I work with my husband at his business.  His secretary left in January and I  fill in, between secretaries, but this year with the slow economy, it wasn't worth paying someone to sit and wait for the phone to ring, so I've been there ever since - without a day off.  To add insult to inury, I also have to work with my mother-in-law, who is the bookkeeper.  Anyone else want to work with their mother-in-law five days a week?  Putting up with her is in addition to putting up with him 24/7.  He is just as bad at work and I've told him that if I were a real employee, I would never work for him (I used to work full-time in an executive position for a very difficult boss, but at least I was validated and rewarded for my contributions).   I would love to be able to leave but it's only a one person office and the business is both our livelihoods.  I'm stuck.  He is just as erratic at work as he is at home, I don't know how he's remained successful in his own business for 20 years.  I had a customer just this morning refer to him as "a little crazy".  He's made several mistakes over the past couple of weeks, but they were blamed on me.  He's never wrong.  It's insulting when you don't warrant 5 minutes of someone's time.

Whenever I try to talk about medication, he tells me I'm the one who needs it.  I recently printed out some of the posts from this site for him to read, hoping he would see himself in the stories, but he never even acknowledged reading it (although I know he did).  He would never be able to read any books on the subject, I've never seen him read anything except fishing magazines.  To say the least, I'm at the end of my rope - I have nothing left to give.  I am physically and emotionally exhausted.  I used to be able to go to the gym everyday and feel good about myself - I haven't been able to do that since I started working at his office.  I do nothing for myself, I'm consumed with running the house and our children and now his business.  I receive no credit or gratitude for anything I do.  In fact, he likes to tell people that I only work "part time" because I don't stay at the office until 5:00 everyday.  (I try to leave to pick my daughter up from school and be home to make some kind of dinner.)

I used to love him with all my heart, but he's not the same man.  I know his symptoms are not him, but I'm not able to see past that anymore.  He's buried under this condition and he won't let me dig him out.  I am so sad because this is not us and I miss him - we used to be a team.  I'm to the point of telling him to leave if he doesn't get help.  I've even spoken to a therapist about it and he agrees that I should do that as long as I'm willing to accept the consequences (like divorce).  That thought scares me but I'm already alone.




I sympathize with you

Dear Natalie,

I am so happy that you found this site.  It has been a salvation for so many of us.  Melissa's comments are worth reading repeatedly to help boost you up and keep you from thinking you are the crazy one.  The responsibilites you detail seem to be classics for all of the non-ADD spouses.  The fact that your husband has had good results from meds, but now refuses to take them, must be devistating. 

Your last sentence prompted me to write.  Your therapist is correct.  If one of you leaves be sure to be prepared to accept the consequences.  My husband and I are empty nesters.  When I could not take it any longer, I handed him my wedding ring and moved out.  For 7 months I lived on hope that he would realize what we were both going to lose if we made this permanent.  Our children wrote to him and begged him to get help.  It all fell on deaf ears.  I moved back because I realized I could not live without him.  Can't live with him, Can't live without him. 

The ADD related things are somewhat better, but I think what helped me the most is reading Melissa's comments and articles.  I haven't given up, but I have made a concerted effort to let things roll off my back.  I pick my fights and have lowered my standards considerably.  I am still resentful for the added burden that I have to pick up - detailed, deadline type things - and I still long for someone to initiate intimacy, but I am working to realize it is not his lack of love for me, but just his inability to focus and plan.

I hope you will get comfort from reading this site.  It is such a help for us in a world that often does not understand.  A wise friend once said, "Where is the support for the supporters".  This site gives us that support.  I will say to you what I often hear ~ Hang In There.




     Thank you so much for your comments.  Your validation brought me to tears.  It's difficult to imagine going through life without the person whom you've spent 2/3 of it with (as in my case).  I do get comfort from reading this site, but, is that it?  Don't we deserve better?  I want the luxury of knowing that everything is taken care of - for ONE DAY!

     I often think that people in denial of their ADD could benefit from the show "Intervention".  They would see that their spouses are not the only ones who recognize their symptons.   You said that you realize that it's not his lack of love for you but his inability to focus and plan.  I take it AS his lack of love for me that he is not willing to do anything about it.  You claim that you would die for someone, but you won't take a pill?

     I switch between depression and being furious.  We promised to take care of each other and he's not holding up his end of the bargain.

     I wish you luck and the happiness you deserve.


Need of Human Connection

Dear Natalie,


I agree with everything you have said.  I often wonder if finding this site has helped or hurt my understanding of my situation.  Not because I have not gleaned wonderful information, but because of the frustration, that every post has such a sameness.  All the stories are the same, all the wording is the same and then inevitably the plea for help is the same ~ and that fact forces me to realize that nothing ever changes.  Sure you can improve your situation, but bring it back to a normal marriage ~ I doubt it.  .


ADD is not a life-threatening illness, but it can be a marriage-threatening illness.  ADD changes the normal roles in a marriage.  Once the parent child role comes in to play, it alters everything.  No longer are you on an equal basis.  Resentment builds up when one partner takes on most of the undesirable tasks and the other partner gets to slide through life because of a condition that they might be able to improve with meds, but they refuse.  Fair play goes out the window.


The thing that has helped me the most, is finding a pen pal who is in a very similar situation.  We both have long term marriages (36 + 32 years), our husbands have ADD and we are frustrated with our lot in life.  In an odd way it is comforting to find ourselves describing the exact same situations in our e-mails.  There is something about having someone listen who is caring, sympathetic and truly understands.


I wish this site would consider connecting people (with mutual permission) for the purpose of corresponding on a more personal level.   My husband has even noticed that since I began corresponding with my new friend, I have seemed calmer and less frustrated. 


Loneliness is a big part of a non-ADD spouse’s life.  Human connection could alleviate some of that aspect of ADD.  I hope Melissa and Ned will give it some consideration.



ADD & Marriage

Your comments match my own feelings.  It's great having support and knowing that others are going through this, but is that enough to stay in a marriage that is so much about giving and being taken for granted?  Why are people with ADD off the hook for owning their behavior?  Everything I read here tells me how to change my life to accommodate his needs.  That's a pretty empty relationship.  I hear what Melissa writes about having fun and planning different activities, but that takes more energy than I have right now.  Anytime we go to a new place, my husband is so excited and nervous that he worries and frets all the fun out of it.  I've been giving to this marriage for nearly 30 years, and I'm pretty empty.  I believe I have to put more energy toward taking care of myself.  If there's something left after I feel stronger, maybe then I can begin to work on "us" again.

I am starting to read "You Don't Have to Take it Anymore" and understanding that we both have shame from our early years affecting our relationship.  I'll continue reading, but the longer I'm in this marriage, the less I believe it will ever provide me in the way of a feeling of being nurtured and safe and loved.  My husband isn't interested in changing anything about himself.  He has so much shame from his childhood that his motto is "love me the way I am."  I also switch between depression (or despair) and being furious with him. 

I don't have much hope these days.  I'm trying to decide whether there is something left to this marriage worth staying for.  I don't want to be a babysitter for the next 30 years.

Best to all of you.

For Plantlover

You are on the right track.  Please make yourself your number one priority.  I think when you do this you will find the answer inside about whether or not you wish to continue.  I also found that by focusing on me, and who I wanted to be - which included setting boundaries about who I didn't want to be - I became not only a stronger person, but a stronger partner.  One my husband found worthy of not taking for granted.  That wasn't my motivation for doing it, mind you, but it was a nice side effect.

Here's what happened to me:  I had been focused on saving "us" and dealing with my husband for too long, and had stopped caring adequately about who I was and what I was doing.  I decided that I couldn't do that anymore, so I spent some reflective time asking "who do I want to be"?  I decided that I wanted to be the happy, outgoing, unafraid, nice person I used to be when I was in high school and college.  So I started being that person again.  It helped that my husband was out of town at the time I started this, because the first few days were quite different from where I was.  I started talking with friends about wanting to change, started doing some things spur of the moment, started hanging out a bit more, took time for myself (massage, reading a special book, etc.) and showing myself that I was important.  I found this to be rejeuvanating.  I could spend energy on me, and know that I would be responsive to the energy I spent because I was in control of that reponse.  No more throwing energy elsewhere and hoping my husband would notice!

While getting to the point where I made this break between my "new self" and my "older self" (as opposed to my really old - college - self, which was the same basic profile as my new self) took a long time, making the transition was pretty fast.  I simply started focusing on me.  This didn't mean I left my kids or anything.  Rather, focusing on me included being able to spend time with my kids without feeling any guilt that I wasn't spending effort on my husband.  It meant enjoying my friends, not talking about my husband, etc.  I gave myself permission to not be responsible for him.  Which, of course, meant that he had to be responsible for him...which is how it should have been in the first place.

An important part of focusing on myself was deciding who I didn't want to be.  I didn't want to be mean, angry, overbearing, resentful, cruel, sad.  While you can't control the sad part very well, the other things are behaviors that you do have quite a bit of control over.  Once I said - this is not me, then I was able to stop myself from saying mean things, or putting myself into a situation which might encourage me to be spiteful.  I wasn't perfect (resentment is very "sticky", as you are now reading in "You Don't Have to Take It") but exerting control for a meaningful goal (that of making myself happy) was easier than I had expected.  Also, when you set expectations about who you are going to be, people around you notice.  Someone I used to know said "if you act as if you deserve respect, you are more likely to get it" which is another way of saying that there are boundaries that every person sets up.  Your husband isn't paying attention to you (taking you for granted)?  Either he's being allowed to do so OR he's clueless about how to live in a marriage.  You'll be able to differentiate between these two options once you feel better about yourself.

I worry that I don't always communicate properly the importance of being yourself, not some slave to an ADHD other.  It's really hard to communicate - people come here trying to save their marriage and somehow I have to say here are things you can do, but you also need to make sure you are happy with yourself first and foremost.  They can't quite imagine the combination, and I understand this because I had trouble figuring it out, too.

I don't know if this makes any sense to you...but GO FOR IT!  Be yourself, and find what makes you happy.  Maybe your husband will follow along...maybe not.  But you'll be better off no matter which direction he takes.

Thank you for your comments. 

Thank you for your comments.  I've known for some time that I had to take better care of myself.  I've been working to spend more time taking care of myself, but the idea of making the mental change is a new angle.  I also appreciate that you said that we have to first be happy with ourselves, and not feel enslaved to our partner's ADD behavior.  I'm going to spend some time defining who I want to be and work from that angle.  I appreciate the encouraging words and new ways of thinking about life.

Nurtured? Safe? Loved?

Oh my goodness.  Your post is so timely for me.  Your "I don't have much hope these days" is almost word for word what I said, just this morning to my ADD husband of 36 years.  There is no way any human can be hopeful when they feel used.  You change ~ he can't change is pure bull.  What about therapy, meds, support groups, memory tools and mainly just the will to change.  My ADD husband funtions well at his own business.  I have worked in his office.  I have watched him use memory tools (watch alarms, post its, taking notes during phone calls and meetings, etc.), but the minute he walks through our door he feels "entitled" to turn his focus off.  "I'm sorry" is his means of communication to me.  A few "I'm sorry" to his clients and they would be out the door.  He would never let that happen, which is why I know change with me is a possiblity.

Where is their responsibility?  Intervention by families is acceptable for a loved one's refusal to deal with a servious problem.  No intervention for ADD.  The expected response to ADD from the non-ADD spouse is always to be more understanding and to change your appoach, reaction and expectations.

Lonliness ~ frustration ~ depair ~ depression ~ hopelessness ~ abandoment ~ responsibity ~ burden ~ parent/child ~ emotionless ~ escape ~ empty ~ sexless ~ alone ~ juggle ~  all words that are sprinkled in every post I read.

My conclusion to ADD  is "Nothing ever changes, no matter how hard you try"




The suggestion to be more flexible with an ADD spouse is so that YOU can stay sane, not so that he can "get away" with not changing.  I spend a lot of time pointing out how damaging lack of hope and anger are to moving forward because I think too many non-ADD spouses don't understand this element of their relationship. 

But I also try to communicate that it is necessary for the non-ADD spouse to set some boundaries...just as your husband's clients do.  Some things are not okay in a marriage, and you have to determine where the line is and draw it (but also be ready for the consequences of drawing it...just because you tell him you don't wish to be on the receiving end of some behavior doesn't mean he'll stop...and then you'll be forced to make some decisions).

I do not advocate that fixing ADHD relationships is one sided.  You must BOTH move and meet in the middle.  What I do advocate is that the non-ADHD spouse get out of the way to make it possible.  That's completely different from "you change - he can't change".

Set aside your anger, and set the boundaries that make sense for you (forget about what makes sense for him because that's not your area).  For example, you may decide that one boundary is that you will start to behave respectfully and that you expect others to respect you because you deserve it (this is NOT the same thing as obeying you, which is an unreasonable request of one adult to make of another).  You begin to behave that way and you will immediately start to feel better because you know that acting respectfully is the right way to be in a marriage.  You probably ought to tell him about how you are going to be behaving in the future (and not to punish him or tell him he's earned it, but simply so he is forwarned and not surprised).  Here are the hard parts - first, you can't set HIS boundaries for him...only yours for you (which can include what type of behavior you are willing to put up with, but don't hold him to a higher standard than you hold others to).  Second, you need to make the change not because you want to shame him into similar behavior, but because that is genuinely how you intend to live your life from now on.  Trying to shame him into being respectful is a game, being more respectful because that is who you are is a commitment to returning to be the kind of person you wish to be.

How will this change your relationship?  Well, for one thing, you will watch more carefully how and what you say to him.  You will still have the full array of topics that you can cover, but you will respect that he is his own, autonomous person and approach him that way.  Second, you will not encourage him to talk with you without respect.  So, if he says something mean to you, instead of responding to that mean thing,  you can say "I'll be happy to hear the content of what you are trying to communicate but only when you can figure out how to say it to me respectfully, because I deserve that".  This will infuriate him for a while, but he'll get used to it, and start to accomodate you because there won't be other options.  Be careful to remain neutral as you deliver this message.  And make sure that when he DOES approach you respectfully you actually listen to, and consider, what he has to say.  Give him the benefit of the doubt for understanding something about himself, for example, if he tells you it's hard for him to change.  It's only respectful to do so, right?  (And, by the way, it IS hard for a person with ADD to change...but far from impossible.  So you can acknowledge that it is hard, but reinforce that it is necessary in order for the two of you to remain together without disrespecting him.)

There are probably other areas where you may wish to draw some boundaries, can figure those out.  Start with a biggie like respect, make it go both ways, and see what happens.



Lowering Standards

Thank you both for the kind words about how this site supports you - that makes me happy, as my goal is to create a place where people can find others like them and learn from them.

I am always interested in the balance between lowering your standards / letting things go and finding happiness.  I see letting things go as a way of finding more peace within yourself, but then also hope that people can create happiness together, too, not just live in a sort of mediocrity.  I'm hoping, Katherine, that you also feel that there are many good things - hence your reason to come back into the marriage.  But if you are feeling as if life is just one big series of compromises, is there a way that you can change that?  I try to tell people to re-ignite their passion, or at least the fun they have together, once they get to a point in their lives when they aren't just furious all the time.  My husband and I did this initially with traveling together (getting us out of the house where all the chores were helped take me out of my resentment zone!) and now we find that both travelling and biking together is something that we really enjoy.  We also try to create quiet time together when we can (haven't been as good at it lately), which is also a good connector of a different type.  What types of things do you love to do together that you haven't done for a while?  Are there ways that you might be able to make things feel more positive for you?

I am full bore into writing my book on the topic of ADHD and how it affects marriage (which will be a more organized way to learn about it than this site) and am genuinely interested in hearing how people make the decisions about what trade-offs work and which don't.  If you have more thoughts, I would love to hear them.


Don't agree


     I was hoping you would read my posts.  I don't agree about lowering your standards/letting things go.  If you were dealing with a spouse with addiction problems, you wouldn't be letting anything go so that you can continue to live with an alcoholic/drug abuser.  These are competent, able-bodied adults that can easily address their condition with a Dr. appointment. You suggested doing something fun together - guess who will be making all the arrangements?  That's not fun.

     I don't understand why the ADHD person has such an unshakable refusal to acknowlege it.


Lowering of Standards

You get at what I was trying to get at, actually.  I'm not big on "lowering standards", actually, but rather "right sizing standards" or, perhaps, improving them.  This is an interesting enough topic that I think I'll try to get my thoughts more sorted out in a blog post on it.  In the meantime, I don't see living with someone who is a drug or alchohol abuser as the same as living with someone with ADHD.  I'm trying to think of any situation in which drug abuse can be neutral or beneficial.  Can't think of any.  But that might be my lack of understanding/experience with this things? (I doubt it, but am open to hearing a different point of view).  Not so with ADHD.  I can think of situations in which the ADHD can be neutral or beneficial, though it takes the right type of environment.

trade offs in adhd marriages

My husband has finally recognized what I have known for many, many years, that he has adult ADHD and medication is not enough. While I am glad he finally sees this, I am angry. Ironically, both of us share so many of the same feelings and emotions. We are sad, lonely, angry, bitter, disillusioned, exhausted (emotionally and physically). I am tired of f being the parent of the child that I married/ and he is tired of being treated like a child. As I read about other couples who have a spouse with ADHD, I see so many aspects of what has happened in our lives. But, the one thing I feel needs to be further examined is why? Why in the name of ADHD, after years and years and years of picking up the pieces, taking the chaos and trying to salvage a family in constant turmoil, does it seem that the non ADHD spouse is less than "supportive" or "commited" if they are exhausted and not able to continue to "support" the spouse with ADHD? I do feel sympathy and I feel sadness, but spouses need support too, especially when the collateral damage from the ADHD spouse has been so great on the kids and non adhd spouse. Other than drag my husband to therapy I do not know how or what I could have done differenty. Afterall, he knew he had issues, he had struggled his entire adult life, It was not like the issues were new........... I do not know how to recover from this, I really don't. I did fall in love with my husband but unless you live with someone (and we did not live together prior to marriage) you can not possibly really know a person and the way they cope withlife. I do not know if I will ever be able to rekindle what we once had so long ago when there are so many years of unloved and unmet needs and expectations. Is there anyone out there who has been married longer than 15 years (20 for us) and their spouse was in denial (and blamed everyone else). If you were there and supported him/ I need advice from non adhd women married to adhd men over 30 years of age. When is it ever going to be my turn to get the emotional support I need? Our entire marriage has been all about him and helping him.......this is not what I expected and I don't see how I am going to be able to find anything else to give when that is all I have done for the last two decades? I am not a bad person, but I feel like it b/c "he needs me", what about my needs? How can I move on when I have a spouse who has told me he can't do this without me? I need him to do this without me............I can't be responsible for whether or not he gets his life together.............I just can't. This is the hardest thing I have done in my life... I know he can't help that he has this condition, but neither can I. I have compromised, lowered standards and filled in the gaps so much over the years b/c I continue to give and give........

I just wanted to respond to

I just wanted to respond to the years of marriage and this is very scary. I was married 21 years to my x whom I now realize was add. Life was like everything I've read and more. I had a stroke and at the age of 37 and I remember my doctor saying to my that I had to lighten my load or I was not going to be around for my children...I knew in an instant what I had to do. I went home and told my x we're done. He disappeared for 3 years and finially the judge signed off on the divorce. My life was getting the peace I so long for. Here's the kicker, I met and remarried a few years later and guess what...he's adhd and so is his son. I guess what I am saying is that we are all attracted to a certain kind of person and the odds are that we will be attracted to the same personality and repeat. The NEW advice I give myself is that if for some reason I can not last in this relationship, I will never ever ever ever fall in love again. This time around I got two!

trade offs in adhd marriages

We're married 27 years, I'm 55 and husband is 52.  Husband diagnosed about 2 years ago.  We didn't know what the problems were before the diagnosis other than he was an angry, verbally abusive, self centered son of a gun.  And yes, because I am a decent person and learned to put up with it by disconnecting and staying in my own little world, I'm still here.  I have not experienced any denial from my husband, in fact,  after the diagnosis we began reading several books and it was an eye opener for him reading about many of the symtoms.  Most of them fit him to a tee.  He is on medication and sees a counselor every couple of months.  He has made progress with his anger issues and is no longer verbally abusive as I finally have had enough of that and now stand up to him if he starts going in that direction.  I was blamed for everything also.  I am very frustrated because I am not seeing too much change on anything else.  Still disorganized, forgetful, no motivation, overwhelmed, etc.  I compromise, have lowered my standards and fill in many gaps also.  You are not alone.  Keep your faith and hope.

Denial and Defiance

This is my first visit to this site and was relieved to read many of the comments.  Also, I have a husband with ADD and entrenched in denial.  He has even read Driven to Distraction and another ADD book and confirms he does not have it.  He was previously diagnosed by a Psychiatrist and given a Ritalin script.  He described the Psychiatrist as a quack and was non-compliant with meds. 

Our marriage is currently in a complete mess.  We met about 5 years ago, he is from the US and I am from the UK.  A lot of our relationship in the early days was long-distant.  I have realized that he focuses v.well via email and the telephone.  These mediums seem to hold his attention.  I was lavished with attention, we were the bestest friends.  I could not believe my luck.  I was showered with gifts despite the distance.  When we moved in together everything changed.  I felt I was nothing and left aside, all the focus / attention was gone.  This has continued ... and pains me hugely.  I feel I left my whole life in the UK and have been 'duped'.

All I have at this stage is anger and resentment.  I realise living with him takes a huge amount of patience.  Which I don't have much left of and is not a strong point for me anyhow.  I feel like I live with a beligerent adolescent. 

I have fears financially, he is going for his second bankrupty, bankrupt his first wife.  So I have huge concerns.

He lost one business, much of his interations with his bosses result in them treating him like an idiot.  I am guilty of this as well.  I seem to react to him as if he is 'lazy and stupid'  I know he isn't he is v.intelligent and can really apply himself, if the subject is of huge interest.

He struggles with authority figures and prefers to go about things his 'own way' rather than a prescribed way.  Everything is a 'project' the simplest tasks are monumental in his mind.

If I ask him something, I have to go into great detail.  So he can register and compute what I am saying.

He is v.impulsive, his past reveals a lot of addiction processes.  He struggles with impulse control issues and can be v.explosive.  He is forgetful, don't ask me how many times he leaves the dinner table to get something he has forgotten.  This drives me crazy.

Most of the time when he is at home, 'he is there but not there'.  Off on his own.  I have spoken to him in the past about my frustration about having to speak to the 'side of his face'.

I find he forgets most of what I tell him and resort to sending him emails or phoning him.  As mentioned, he seems to respond well to these.

He has made some improvements regarding time-keeping and money.

At this stage it is just  a fight, he blames me for the state of the marriage and I blame him.  So we are both angry.



UK / US Marriage

I am in the middle of doing some in-depth research about executive functioning issues that might be helpful for you...I will keep you posted.  In the meantime. what support do you have in place for you?  Do you have friends or counsellors or, when you left the UK, did you leave all that behind?  You need a support structure to get through the stress of the problems that you are facing with him, including the financial issues, which are very scary.  See what you can do to get one in place.

People with ADHD are not so good at self-evaluation, particularly if they think they have a point to make (as in "I'm fine, YOU'RE the one with the problem")  It will likely be hard to get your husband out of his current mindset.  You most certainly won't be able to do so while you are both angry.  The natural human response to anger is defensiveness and more anger, as anger is a sort of attack (which puts you into "fight or flight" survival mode biologically).  Somehow, you need to figure out how to get your own anger under control (you don't have much control over his anger).  You will probably need to attack this on several fronts simultaneously.  Here are some ideas:

  • ask yourself - what benefit do you get out of your anger?  (I bet you can't find any except possibly that it makes you feel better in the very short term)
  • consider meditation or quiet time that calms your body
  • find connections with people who are supportive and help you calm down
  • ask yourself - is this angry person who I want to be?  Do you like yourself as an angry person?  If not, resolve not to rise to his bait.
  • ask yourself - does your anger get the response out of him that you want?  (bet not - bet it just makes him angry)

What's your goal here?  To prove that one person or the other is responsible for your mess?  It's never just one person.  His ADD symptoms and financial irresponsibility may be driving your crazy right now, but if I wanted to (which I don't, actually) I could argue (from the little information that you've given me) that it was irresponsible to marry someone you hadn't spent much "in person" time with.  Is it his fault you didn't do enough due diligence?  Is it your fault that you respond to him with anger when he attacks you?  Or vice versa?  My point here is that you are both responsible.  Try to stop the blame game, and get yourself, at least, under control.  Okay - so he doesn't focus on you at the table adequately.  What are you going to do about it that is constructive and has the potential to work?  You've gotten far enough to see that getting angry doesn't work.  What's another possible response?  How about sitting in a different location (between him and what's distracting him, perhaps)?  What about verbally inviting him into the conversation with questions like "what do you think about that?"

Have you analyzed WHY he does better on the phone and email?  Is it because the communication is more focused, perhaps?  Because he is in a location with fewer distractions when he is using those tools?  Because he has music on in the background and that helps him focus?  Do you use a different tone with him in these methods of communication?  Any of these could be possibilities.  If you weren't mad at him, what might you learn?

What inspired him to go see a psych for the original diagnosis?  What's different now?  Perhaps you could share some of that with me, and I could give you some more ideas about how to approach getting him to more openly address his symptoms.  But understand that as long as he feels under attack, he's unlikely to budge into that place called "diagnosis and treatment" that can seem so scary and threatening (perhaps nonsensical to those who aren't the ones with ADD, but those feelings are real and need to be respected).

Hope this answer doesn't scare you or make you mad (!)


Totally relate

My marriage is the same. We were married in June of 2007 and by June of 2008 I was sure this was a huge mistake but I can't figure out what I should do. I don't believe marriages are just to be thrown away or that anyone should be self-serving and call it quits just because it isn't fun at the time, but at what point is enough just plain enough? I have lost everything (parents and friends left behind, house repossessed, furniture given away, books donated, etc.) to live with him and he treats me like I am completely worthless. He doesn't hear me unless I am direct to the point of belligerent and then, of course, he is offended and angry. I can't talk to him, there is NO intimacy of any kind on any level. He is refusing to go to the doctor to get his meds refilled. He has hundreds of excuses for why he can't make it into the Dr's office, but he sure did remember to go buy a DVD player on his way home from work yesterday. How can I talk to him and start to work on solutions when he is unable to communicate? Just working on making it through each hour without bursting into tears in front of coworkers and students...

When to Call it Quits

You ask a couple of questions, the first of which is when do you call it quits?  My answer to that is when you have tried all that you know that you can try, when you have explored every option, when you know in your heart that you have done this in a good, positive way (vs. an angry or offensive way that contributes to his resisitance to you), and when you have clearly outlined what you think it will take for the marriage to work and talked thoroughly about this with your partner.  When you have done all this, and you feel that there is no other direction in which to go, then you should consider (I think) what's called a "controlled separation".  This is a certain type of separation that is worked on together, rules laid out, with specific time frame set up ahead of time.  It's the last chance for each member being responsible for getting their act pulled together again to save things.

I do think that people have an internal mechanism which tells them what their own personal tolerance is for any relationship.  However, I also think that under duress people can make extraordinary changes that they might not have known they have in them.  Therefore I say "don't give up when you think you can't do it any longer.  Only give up when you KNOW you can't do it any longer."

As for your communication.  You are right..."fun" isn't always the point, though good companionship is important.  A few suggestions that may help you in the future.  First, keep yourself from going to the beligerant stage.  It's NEVER helpful - ever.  It sets him up to be angry at you and resistant to other things that you might say as well as to the immediate thing you are requesting (which you already know as you say "then, of course, he is offended and angry").  You put yourself in the position of being unreasonable and mean - you wouldn't want him to go there, so don't fall into the trap of saying that that's the only way of getting his attention (I used to do exactly the same thing, and did it for many years, so I know how easy it is to fall into this mode...I'm simply advising you that it's not in your best interests, even when it seems as if it's the only way to get his sets up too many bad interactions and feelings).

Second, unlink your issues from whether or not he is taking his meds.  The more you harp on this, the more excuses he'll think of not to take them.  It's a power thing.  If you continually reinforce with him that there's something "wrong" with him that needs meds, then he'll fight back in the most "impressive" way he can - that is to not take the meds, thereby defying you.  This is psychology 101.

Your real issue isn't his meds, though it's tempting to distill it to this since it's easy to imagine that if he took his meds all would be better.  Your real issue is how he is treating you (and, conversely how you are treating him, which isn't always respectful).  He can't communicate with you right now because he doesn't want to.  Your issues are hard for him, and he figures that if he retreats, perhaps they will "go away".  Your job is to let him know, in a respectful way, that they won't go away AND THEN TO STOP TRYING TO TELL HIM HOW TO FIX THEM.  You let him know what you need, and help him see what a great future you might have together...but give him back his autonomy.  SUPPORT him, rather than scold him, think "carrot" rather than "stick" and see how far he might be able to go.  Clearly, he has been motivated to take meds at some time in the past...if the issue is depoliticized, and if he starts to think of the meds as a way to help address specific issues such as inability to focus on creating time together (i.e. less personal issues that don't equate to "being broken" in general, which seems too large to tackle) then he may be willing to start again.  Regardless of whether or not he starts again, the issue isn't the meds.  You don't care how he takes care of the problems he is having, only that he does.  The meds may be the fastest way to address some of them (assuming he also makes the behavioral changes necessary once he starts taking them) but they probably aren't the only way.

The reason that you want to cry is that you miss what you used to have and you are afraid you won't ever get it again, I think.  So let him know that - let him know what you loved about being together when you were dating.  Let him know how much you miss him and what the two of you were together.  Find out the positive things that you still have and focus on those, rather than on your fears about what you don't have now or might not have in the future.  If you focus on your fears about the future, then you will create just that future for yourself because fear is paralyzing.  Enlist his positive side - get him remembering what he used to like, too, to help him move away from feeling as if you are going to come after him all the time.  Make it your job to put the two of you into a good place as often as you can so that you can reconnect.

Also, see if you can take some time to write about what you are thankful for - each day if possible.  A journal, particularly if it is focused on the positives in your life, can be a good way to refocus yourself on all the good things you still have.  When you are depressed and down, as when you wrote your entry here, it may seem as if there are no good things, but if you search for them, you will likely find some great things (special things that friends did for you, or nice things you were able to do for someone else for example).  These can help provide a more positive outlook for you in general, which should help you be more flexible in your relationship.

Finally, DON'T start a family while you are in this mode.  You need to fix the two of you as a couple before you add kids, because kids add a huge amount of stress and often have the effect of further isolating the primary caregiver (who will likely be you in this relationship).  Your life will be much easier if you wait because you'll end up in one of two places - with a stronger relationship to support having kids together OR as a single person with the freedom to start fresh.  That in between ground, divorced and a single mom with kids is VERY hard territory to navigate.

Please let us know how you do.

Sadness reading your great response

What a great response.  I think your insight is very respectful to the "team approach" marriage really is.  Unfortunately, I am the one with ADHD, and my wife made a clean break (please see other forum "separation leading to divorce" I could use your help), and seems to want to proceed quickly to formal separation.  The extraordinary circumstances leading to response is exactly on point.  It woke me up bigtime, made me re-evaluate my meds, make immediate changes, and address many needs my wife cited.  She acknowledges these changes yet seems too angry by past "promises" or inconsistencies that she does not seem to care.  I am not sure what to do.  She wants to move forward toward a "conclusion" which I do not support.  I recognize my culpability and am willing to address my shortcomings (I am a bad self-evaluater, but many of my faults have been brought to my attention in therapy, family, this situation).  I hope time heals all wounds, but fear that living in a situation away from home where she is confronted with material things she wants in a marriage only adds to the problem.  I have a self-destructive tendency and in many ways pushed her to jolt me out of my rut, the problem is I may have pushed too far.  I never saw the finality of her act until she made it clear, yet it happenned so quickly, and she refused to see what reaction her actions spurned.  She is stuck on the anger, and I see no way to help her to see me otherwise.  Any suggestions?

So just leave already

I am sorry but I dated, married and had a child with a man that has undiagnosed/untreated adhd and I frankly can not see how having any kind of relationship with a person with untreated adhd could ever work. My moto is that everyone has problems and that it is what you do with them that counts. We dated from 1989- 1994 married in June 1994, had a daughter in November 1994 and he left around March 1996 (knowing that he had big problems) we finally divorced in January 1999 and he to this day he still hasn't done anything about his problems. He has filed bankruptcy, gone through countless girlfriends and engagements, doesn't pay child support and in this economic downturn is about to be homeless all while letting his daughter watch. Now being involved in this is my fault too because early on that little voice in the back of my head told me to RUN LIKE HELL from this person but I didn't listen but at least I did know something was "wrong". While I was still vulnerable to him I didn't take him to court for child support again my fault for allowing myself to be manipulated. NOW his daughter has been diagnosed adhd and is doing great on medication and he teases her by saying well .... if it works for you then maybe I will go to my counselor and see if I can get meds. I know that I sound like I am still angry and I am not it is his disasterous life is his to live. I have learned to let go and I have learned that I will never give another person longer than 6 months to get their stuff together adhd or not. Life is too short to be miserable with a person who will not take care of themselves. What makes me angry is to hear you all talk about how manipulated and used you are and for how long you have put up with it and you don't have to. These people DO NOT CHANGE and you can't make them. Get out and show them you mean business now, take back your life while you still can. It hurts me to hear about anyone that is being abused by someone who is not well mentally and refuses to get well. With that said I do have empathy for people with these problems but if they are unwilling to deal then you have to move on. Society also has to make accepting and recognizing mental issues a medical issue and NOT a moral issue so that people will feel more comfortable with talking about their issues and getting help. I am also aware that the issues they are dealing with may well prevent them from seeking help which is the most cruel part of mental health issues. I know this will probably put me in the hot seat and I will get many angry responses but I have been there; manipulated, lied to, cheated on and used etc. etc. while being told I was the person with the problem and just felt like this needed to be said. Be kind ............

To Airedale

Not an angry reply here. Thanks for your honesty. I will use your post as inspiration.

Thank you and well said! You

Thank you and well said! You sound like the person I once was and will be again! I don't think people will get angry, just finding this website has really enlightened me on what I am currently facing and the decisions I will need to make in order to stay healthy.

re: Leaving is not always easy

Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you took back your life! congrats to you. I'am in the middle of doing that as well. I'am seperated from my Adhd/ Depression/alcoholic husband and I'am finding myself again. I understand what you are saying but it is difficult to leave mostly because of love for his/her spouse. However you are right the change and you can't make them is right on the dot. I feel sadness I see the sadness in my husband he has such  addictions especially to beer. He needs rehab and he won't go. Hes lost his family, home, and more how low does one go? However I remember all the abuse and crap I've had to deal with and how miserable we are together.It makes it easier for me to take my life back and not keep allowing the stuff to  continue. I also wonder about how many posts I've read about nonAdhd spouses  who develop health problems. I have to have surgery in the near future because  I may have cancer. I can't help to think that after all I've read about stress and how it effects your health if all the stress, anger and having a breakdown effected me. I know it did! It definetly triggered my Fibro.So while I'am taking back my life I also am taking back my health. While I may have the answer for my life it still doesn't make it easy....God bless! 


I agree that things never

I agree that things never change. For 26 years I thought things would change, so I hung in there. (Until recently, I had no idea he was severely ADHD and couldn't change.) I first went head to head with him when he became argumentatively and abusive but he seemed to thrive on argument and chaos. I then went into the avoidance mode, just leave the room and let him be. Nothing ever changed or helped, except to get worse. I thought he was a good, honest, loving man so I thought it was worth trying to make the marriage work. I've now found out that he had been lying to me, cheating on me, and stealing from me for many years. He was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...sometimes very nice, loving, sweet, considerate...but then he was mean, nasty, abusive, self-centered, narcisstic, and unreliable. He could go from one to another in a heartbeat, or his mood could be measured by how much he had to drink. Mello after a few beers. Mean and nasty after ten. He was more interested in having sex with himself than he was with me. He would spend hours (and tons of money) doing a little project he was interested in doing that contributed nothing to our home instead of fixing the things that needed to be fixed. He is 60 now and has decided that he wants a new shiny bauble (girlfriend/wife). Although he can't decide which one. He is "in love" with a new one almost every month. Needless to say, once I opened my eyes and found out what he was doing, I left thoroughly disgusted with the time, energy, trust, and understanding I poured into him. I, too, suffered greatly healthwise from the stress of living with him. I've been away from him for almost a year, and I am healthier now than I've been in years, both physically and mentally. He, too, has lost his job and his wife, but doesn't seem to care. Afterall, he thinks there is nothing wrong with is just everyone else. When I read all of these stories, I wonder if everyone is married to my husband. I feel sorry for his latest "victim." She has no idea what she is getting into. I have no intention of ever getting married again for fear I will learn my new husband is ADHD (or bipolar or some other "mental disorder") after I marry. I will never go through that again. I am not sure of the difference between mental disorder and mental illness. Mental illness can be fixed and a disorder can't? Or is it just a social nicety?