My wife hates me. I feel hopeless and depressed. I don't know what to do...

Quick summary:

Early on in marriage, lost job. Not because of ADHD, but because market tanked in recession and had to move. Wife didn't want to move but we had to in order to survive.

Since she didn't like area, I spent more time trying to fix situation and not paying attention to my wife. We finally moved again. Made another job change to defense contractor and that went under two weeks before son was born. Luckily had a back-up and was unemployed for 5 min.

At that point at the age of 29, was diagnosed with ADHD. My wife still resents me for making her give up original job. On the plus side, we had moved into same area as her parents. Plus it's the nicest area we've lived in.

This current job I had lost because of my adhd. I was working close to 75 hour weeks, and I was constantly stressed because my wife was even more resentful towards me. I also had to travel about 40% and I was trying to manage projects and repair my marriage because of my lack of emotional connection, attention, and emotional presence. I was relieved when I had lost that job. But the stress of unemployment was harder on her because she was dependent on me and she had no control whatsoever.

Luckily, being a good engineer, I wasn't unemployed for long. Now, finally after years of bouncing around, I've had the best position for the past year. Economy is improving, I am finally in a stable position, and I can provide for us and our family steadily. In this economy, that is a blessing.

Now (30 years old):

But over the past year, my wife has resented me more and more. I've been reading books on how to become a better husband,  but it seems like anything that i try is never good enough. I've been on medication and I see a psychiatrist every three months to help with me with my medication. I've found a good balance of dosage and I think that it helps. Although, my wife refuses to give me any feedback whatsoever. I ask her what I can do to make things better and she refuses to say anything because she says she's been telling me for three years now. 

She snaps anytime I make an ADHD mistake. She yells at me, sometimes hits me, tells me I'm stupid, retarded, and that I don't deserve a family. When I grab her arms just to get her to stop hitting me, she says things like I hope i get bruises so I can call the police and have them take you away. She said that everyone in my life has had to put up with me and that I don't deserve to have any relationships. 

I love her, and I love my son. But it seems like everything that I do is wrong.  I want her to understand that I'm human and I'm going to make mistakes. I'm not perfect. I am trying, but it always seems like I do something that causes her to loose control.

She refuses to come to therapy. She says that therapist don't work. I try the 5 love languages, I try to do things pertaining her love language. When an argument arises, I say I'm trying to do things pertaining to her love language and she replies that the test she took was not long enough and that wasn't really her love language. I'm keeping a journal and so I can track what works and what doesn't. I'm trying to plan date nights and it seems that I always manage to mess something up just before and she hates me for the entire evening. 

Something always makes her upset. Today I had to reschedule a mini-vacation because I had an important meeting at work. I'm the cognizant engineer and I have to be there. But her anger and hatred overtakes her. It's not that I want to cause her stress, but I'm not missing a meeting that is very important to the company. It's not that I value work over our family. I just want to be secure in my employment. That's more valuable. We can always reschedule the vacation (which we did). Plus management was happy and they even gave me an extra half day to take off. 

But it's seems that she can never take any change to a future schedule because of something that is out of our control. Go with the flow and reschedule, it's not the end of the world. She could not. She was so angry and upset. I'm confused because management understood, and that they knew they were causing us to change our plans. But that one thing that was not in our control, she took all of her anger and resentment out on me, in front of our son, doing the things I said in a previous paragraph.  When I cry, she says that she feels nothing. She says very hurtful things. She says that I'm only worth a paycheck to her.

Now I'm believing that I deserve all of this. Maybe I do. I don't know anymore. I hug my 2 year old son and tell him I love him. I want to do the same to my wife. But I'm afraid that she'll take the only things I have in this world away from me: herself and my son.

I feel so lonely...


I'm the "non" wife and my

I'm the "non" wife and my husband has ADHD.  I understand your wife's frustration, but hitting you and calling you names is totally unacceptable.  I think you need to tell her that, and also consider separating if she is not willing to work on her anger-management issues.

Lack of control?

Non-ADHD female here also. No, you don't deserve this type of treatment. Try to be gentle in words but firm - tell her no more hitting (that is the first step, the name-calling can be dealt with after). Don't get into a tussle.

So, recapping, you were diagnosed with ADHD after marriage, she stays at home with the child (you mention her being dependent?) and she is unhappy at everything.  Speculation - she is acting out of fear? She is frightened for the future and feels that she is not in control of anything. She is struggling with the ADHD diagnosis (that there is no 'getting better' or or off switch to make it all just go away), that your son may have it (50/50), she is frightened of another job loss no matter how irrational you think fear might be, she feels surrounded by instability while she craves stability and she feels there is nothing she can do to create the stability for herself. She is panicking that she is losing sight of herself (has to cater for your ADHD at every turn) and over-reacting.  Is any of that sounding plausible to you?  I could be completely off-base but it reads to me that fear may be causing her actions.

If she refuses to go to therapy don't push her and don't get into a fight over it, it seems like she will dig in further. If being so dependent is an issue is there any chance she could get a part-time job or engaged in some activity that makes her feel that she is in control of something in her life and not swirling around you like a planet in your orbit?  Non-ADHD people need encouragement too sometimes.

I think sunlight is onto something...

I am the non-ADHD wife. About 8 years ago, I quit a job I loved b/c I was exhausted by the "second shift" of housework/childcare/life management. Before children, I successfully managed my full-time job and nearly all household responsibilities. Once children came, though, I couldn't juggle it all so I left a job that gave me a lot of fulfillment and self-worth. Truthfully, my decision was based on accommodating my husband's weaknesses (caused by ADHD). I should have made him "man up"  and act as a full partner at home. It's almost a decade later and I still regret my decision. And, yes, I have a lot of resentment.

But here's the GOOD NEWS:  my husband was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago and he does well with medication. Last year, I took a part-time job and my husband is going out of his way to accommodate me. As he says, "I'm not going to make that mistake again." Recognizing the past and changing for the future is everything.  Has your wife given up more than you are aware of or give her credit for? Like Sunlight suggested, you should encourage her to get a job or an activity and help make that happen! (more chores and childcare for you.)

Finally, as a modern woman, I can say it ABSOLUTELY SUCKS to be financially dependent on a man. I have put all my financial eggs in one basket--my husband's job. If anything happens to him (or our marriage), I'd be sunk. That's a scary place to live.  Is there anything you can do to help your wife feel more financially secure? Beef up your savings account/emergency fund? Buy life/disability insurance? Stop using credit cards?  A post-nup agreement? 

The bucket

It's like putting all your money, effort and future into a joint bucket.  Then your H doesn't take care of the bucket because he is not paying attention or realistically considering time or money. But with a husband who just wants to play the clown, your money, effort and future splashes out of the bucket.  Then when it is nearly empty, H says, "Quit talking about the damn bucket. If you weren't a nag, we would have more!"  The lack of reality and reasoning is maddening to those of us who keep trying to fill the shared bucket.


I've been reading this blog and everything is starting to make sense. I believe my husband is ADHD. We've been married for seven months and so many behaviors weren't making sense. He has his first psychiatric appointment tomorrow and I'm going with him. I REALLY want him to get on medication to help him. I don't know what medication would be best. Any suggestions?


Right now, it sounds a lot

Right now, it sounds a lot like your wife is projecting her frustrations at her loss of career and completely losing sight that you are doing everything you can, working/living/loving with ADHD. She has to learn to be a bit more pro-active about her own happiness. It seems that is one of those dynamics where one spouse expects the other spouse to fix everything, when they really need to fix themselves as well.

Now, I'm only going by what is going on in my own marriage with an ADHD partner who has been diagnosed, is taking proactive steps to the right medication, is opening up to others about ADHD awareness with family and friends. One of the things that remains is that I'm frequently left in total dependency and financial inequality due to his need for control of our finances.

Is there any way of helping to give your wife more freedom/independence. If not already, you should be helping her  to regain her esteem, like she's got some control over her life. One of the things that has always been a difficult hurdle for us was the distribution of financial equality in our marriage. My dh won't give it, and I need it to get a sense I am a partner, not someone who's running the household but still needs permission. Does she have an account you can re-direct some of your salary to? Or a spousal IRA, so she can watch it grow and feel there is forward movement for the future?

When was the last time you had a babysitter and went somewhere to dine? Even though you had to rearrange a mini-vacation with just cause (you are the sole income), is there any way to take her to a local diner, or grab an hour or two together at a spa or salon where you both get massages and relax from the week? Maybe you can give your wife some independence to make plans like that for the both of you, once you have your calenders synced up. You have to put work aside when you are home, put aside the distractions of TV-digital media, etc so she feels you are present for her. I don't mean waiting on her hand and foot, but just being there and not looking like you're escaping into some other activity.

The hitting is out of line, that is abuse. If it continues, you ought not to keep it a secret... would you consider speaking to a trusted member of the family? It is only my personal experience, if you cannot get help, the cycle of abuse will always exist.

Sounds familiar

I'm the ADHD one in my house.

Early in our relationship my wife's anger problem and short fuse resulted in her attempting to injure me and destroying a few things.   Eventually she made the decision to work on these problems and self-helped her way to a manageable temper that we can work with.  That's one of the things that's inspired me to try to do the same thing with my ADHD. 

Here's what you need to tell yourself: If she is being emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive to you, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.  You don't deserve it.  She needs to work on herself, just like you are.


Agreed. Fault and blame are not words to be using here. 

As the non ADD spouse, my inspiration was coming here and finding out that I wasn't the only person who had responded to an extreme situation with fear, loss, anger and breaking things ( including my own hand ). 

I agree that it is important to remove yourself from an unhealthy environment. If it is not his fault, is it also not your (his) spouse's fault as well?

Don't Blame Yourself ...

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling so alone ... I know, personally, how bad that feels.

However, as others have said so far, don't blame yourself. No one (ADHD or not) deserves to be treated badly by the person they've devoted their life to. Granted, we're only hearing your side of the story, but it sounds like you've done everything you can, and you're willing to do whatever else you think might help. At some point, she has to recognize that.

I have a big problem with folks who refuse to see people for who they are NOW, and can only see them for their past mistakes. Some people should be held accountable for their past, if it's easy to see that their pattern shows no sign of change. Otherwise, we have to allow for the possibility that the mistakes of the past were learning opportunities which may, in fact, make that person a much better individual than they were before. So, it sounds like your wife really needs to have a wake-up call that makes her realize that she's wrong for continuing to blame you for what's happened in the past. No one has invented a time machine, that I know of, so it's impossible to change the past. However, the future CAN be changed, if you're willing to let it be changed.

I think, for you, there has to be a point where you say "Enough is enough. I want a future with you and our child as loving, supportive family. But I'm done being blamed for the past, when I've spent the past (x) number of years trying to make up for the mistakes I've made." Make a point to ask her how she would feel if you reacted to everything the way she is doing. You're not blaming her for anything or trying to turn the tables on her, but you're asking her to consider whether SHE would tolerate being treated the way she's treating you. Let her know that you're willing to do whatever you can to make things better, but you WILL NOT continue to be blamed for everything. If she can accept that and begin to move forward, great. If she's not willing to move forward, I think you need to seriously consider other options.

Here's something else to think about. Others here have wondered if she's "acting out" her anger/frustration related to her own fears/anxieties, etc. But have you considered whether she's intentionally (or unintentionally) sabotaging your marriage? Did she give up a long time ago, and doesn't want it to work anymore? Is it possible that she wants a divorce, but feels like she'll be better off if YOU are the one that files? i.e. guilt over something SHE's done, or her own role in the situation? child support/alimony? I don't know, and I hope that's not the case. But that was my first impression.

Anyway, it sounds like this has little to do with your ADHD, but SHE (or yourself) is assigning the blame there anyway. I know it's tough when there's an innocent child involved, and there's not an "ideal" solution when it comes to divorce/custody, etc. But I'll leave you with this ... children are better off in a broken family, than in a broken home. Your son knows (even at 2 years old) that mom and dad aren't happy right now. And if things don't change, he will be dramatically affected by it. It may be hard to believe, but you have to consider the fact that having two parents who live separately and are happy, will be a much better situation for your son, than having two unhappy parents living together because they THINK it's better for him.

Best of luck ...

One more thought ...

Here's one more thought that might be helpful in mending the situation, or helpful in coming to a finality of the situation.

Kids look to their parents as examples of what is acceptable and not-acceptable in a relationship. Your son will most-likely end up dating and/or marrying a girl that is a lot like his mother. Additionally, he is most-likely going to use your example, when determining what is acceptable in that relationship.

This is good to consider for a couple reasons. It allows you to ask your wife, "If our son grows up and marries someone who treats him the way you treat me, will you be okay with that?" Mothers are protective over their sons, and this may be the approach she needs, to understand that the way she's treating you is wrong. On the other hand, you have to also ask yourself, "If my son marries someone who treats him this way, will I be okay with the fact that my example has shown him that it's okay to let someone treat him this way?"

The answers to those two questions will go a long way in helping you decide what needs to be done, and will give you the strength to pursue whichever outcome devlelops.

Again, best of luck ...

It Will Only Get Worse.....Run Like Hell.

I promise you..... the first time you actually do end up in jail will be a big eye opener for you. I've had a lot of the same issues with a couple of my exes. My first wife literally set me up and I spent an entire year behind bars. Needless to say, when I was released, I divorced her. The sad part is that 10 years later I talked to her on the phone and when I spoke about the incident she said "I never did that to you"...and then once I went over the story she said "Oh my God...I did do that to you, I am so so so sorry for that". Pffffft.

If I were you, I wouldn't waste any more time and I would walk away from the entire situation. It's tough with a kid involved but in the long run everyone will be better off. You don't want to wake up in 7 years and think "What the hell was I thinking" once you've realized that the marriage is still going nowhere and you've wasted all of those years.

Not everyone is compatible... plain and simple. People grow apart, like different things, want different things, acquire different tastes.. 

I've been married twice now and am 39 years old. I look back at all the relationships I held on to when I should have let them go. There are literally millions of women to choose from. Some will be a better match then others. We just have to keep putting ourselves out there till we find a match.

I wouldn't waste any more time. Cut your losses and move on. It might take a while for the pain in your heart to dissipate, but what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. She's already at the stage where she is hitting you and threatening you with the cops. It only gets worse from there my friend. Some things aren't meant to me fixed. Go find our happiness. You'll be much happier once you let go....I promise.


Good Luck and stay strong.

I feel your pain

I can somewhat understand why your wife feels the way she does but that is NO reason for the hostility towards you. She needs to be more understanding about ADHD. She has to know that you don't want to act the way you do anymore than she does. You see, I also suffer with ADD, panic disorder and depression so I know how you feel. My faith in God is helping me, it can help you too! Just know you are not alone. From what I am discovering, there are a lot of men and husbands who have ADHD. Hang in there, man. Do what your heart and instincts tell you. The fact that you still love your wife and are not ready to call it quits makes you a WINNER! May God give you peace. God bless


That is abuse

I hope the husband in the original post did get out, and took his child(ren) with him.  No matter what other factors are involved, NO ONE DESERVES OR SHOULD TOLERATE ABUSE!  Physical abuse like hitting is never acceptable and no one should put up with it for a second.  He should have called the police each and every time she hit him, documented like crazy, and gotten the hell away from her ASAP, preferably taking the kids.  It is especially dangerous for men to stay in that situation b/c she could easily accuse HIM of being abusive and then it would be her word against his.

Again, NO ONE should have to endure abuse.  No one.

I Wonder What Happened With You??


As the roommate and slave (wife) of an ADD man I totally understand where your wife is coming from. I understand the rage. Having said that I applaud you for taking all the right steps to manage your ADD. My husband will do nothing to better himself, refuses to help with anything, and I suspect he is off his meds and off them for a long time. I know it's been a long time since your post but I want to say that I believe your wife is behaving this way because she is utterly depleted and at the end of her rope. You guys need serious counseling and probably daily counseling for a week or so and that's assuming you want to stay with he and assuming she can get over her apparent hatred for you and resentment of the past. I wonder if you could post an update and let us know how you are doing. You sound like a nice guy. I wish you luck. 

I am much like your wife.

Yes, I am much like your wife.  Please know, I was not this person in any other relationship.  I am bowled over by marriage, loss of my independence, and having to have endured physical threats (fist poised to punch my lights out), nonstop lying, baiting for constant fighting, no sex , complete abdication of any responsibilities at home, while discovering he was not taking any of the multitude of medications he was supposed to be taking post open heart surgery 6 years prior, and that as a result, he had an aneurysm almost incorporating a kidney, and that he was in Stage 4 renal failure, and that he was undiagnosed ADD at 64.  I AM EXHAUSTED.  He wanted a mother, not a wife.  He is very dependent.  I was exhausted before I got married from my 80 hour/week job.  I continued working and I was expected to do everything at home. EVERYTHING.  I found out he didn't even have his  two rescue Brittanys on heartworm medication or anything else.  All of you out there that say this man's wife needs to seek anger management, is off base.  I guarantee you, this is a two way street and every person has a breaking point especially when all their hopes and dreams run smack into ADD.  While you perceive yourself as a loving, giving husband, I would caution you that my husband would probably give the same account, and he has been an absolute nightmare, to the point I no longer wanted to live.  He sees me as the angry, problematic one.  All I can say is...if this life with him is not what hell is, I really don't want to go there.  You need to be in weekly therapy and coaching is probably needed.  And she needs to go talk to an ADD savvy therapist.  At some point, you should both be psychologically tested.  For all you know, she could have borderline personality disorder and/or have suffered from childhood abuse of some sort, and I empathize with her probable feelings of having lost herself.  If nothing else, leave a copy of Melissa's books laying out for her.  She needs to know her experience is not unique, and that there is an explanation, and that there is hope.  She can visit the spouses of ADD partners blog to learn she is not crazy and she is not alone.  There is support for her and understanding...of ALL of her responses to these IMMENSELY challenging changes and losses she is going through.  Labeling her and condemning her accomplishes nothing.  Her responses to you are not atypical.  It saddens me to see women with ADD men not rushing to her side to strengthen her.  It is common for abuse to occur in this dynamic, and judging does nothing to help stop it.  Loving her and helping her will be the key.  She needs a SUPPORT SYSTEM that does not include her husband.

rsteele please listen

Your wife does not cherish you. A wife who LOVES you would not do these things and make you feel this way. I have the same imposition you have except mine has morphed into different things than yours have. The luxury of not knowing you personally allows me to say these things to you. They are hard facts to swallow, I know. But you will live. If you don't then you are a coward.

I have been with my wife for 15 years. For financial reasons I have never been able to get help for this. My wife was genuine up until 4 years ago when she got pregnant. My imposition, all of its effects, and my marriage changed. Since then she has doubted me, berated me as a man, and the world has flipped so upside down I don't know how to reverse it. Among my research till now there are some things I already know, and maybe some things you are unaware of.

WOMAN (THINK THEY)LOVE, BUT ARE UN-ATTRACTED TO AN INSECURE MAN. Forgive me for for speaking freely here, but I am eluding to my own wife as well. Dude if you are indecisive they hate it. It messes their whole head up. Make the decision, whatever it is, and be open about all the reasons why it's best for your family. If she disagrees, consider her valid reasons and maybe reconsider. If you truly know better then put your decision first and let her know why. Be careful of the balance of making her feel not included, or unimportant. My point is in the end if she sees your taking charge, she will love you for it or at least respect it. It may not be apparent or upfront, but it will be. Any REAL woman can attest to this.

If you put her on a pedestal, STOP. Women chase what they can't have just like us. I look across all the relationships in my life and at the time I was treating my girlfriend like the most shit, is when I was getting loved the most. I've always treated my wife like gold, never had a reason not to until now. Let me be clear when I say you should never treat the person you love like crap. But if they are treating you like crap then work needs to be done. If that work doesn't see you both actively participating, then this may mean she's not really interested, or loving you anymore, and you must move on. I have a small child as well (4 years old), and I fear this the most. Currently we are working on fixing things that we despise in each other. My wife has done a better job than I have, but I have made good strides too. I have built my whole life around her and him, to lose it would mean world-changing events to me. I would not be the same man anymore I don't think.

All in all my point to you is don't be a door matt. Puff your chest and be a burly man and let her know your not going to stand for the crap. Be an unmovable tower of strength in all situations and put your word forth. She will either be attracted to it, totally reject it, or hopefully try to compromise between what you want and she wants. If the latter happens, then be sure to be a listening, caring, compassionate, kind man toward her thoughts and feelings and be willing to put them before your own.

In conclusion I must say, no one should be hitting no one, and disagreements should NOT be happening in front of children. The child deserves to grow and learn about the world in a place of peace. Some of us know more than others what living can mean, and when your adult (or child) the world can be ugly. The time spent at home as a child should be the most cherished memories. It will bring them back to you when you are older. What I do remember as a child are the worlds best parents giving all they could to make a good life, but so much arguing all along the way. My mother made sure to make a good warm home, and my father made sure we had heat, food, and clothing. But they carried out so many disagreements that me and my brothers could see and hear. Especially me since I am the oldest and the worst stuff I got to see. 

Put your kid first first, consider your love ( marriage) second, and all else as it would be. Easier said than done I know, but when your on the outside looking at someone elses situation the answers are so clear. Trying to figure out your own are the hardest. My hopes and prayers are that this has a positive influence on your children, you, and whoever you chose to love.



Feel like I'm going through the same thing.

Hello, I am curious how things worked out with you and your wife. I'm in a very similar situation. It's like emotional abuse... and my heart aches everyday. I'm not seeing and professional help, but often feel like I need to. I to have a 2 year son witnessing all . Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you,

Emotional Abuse

It's not "like" emotional abuse...that original post.  It IS emotional well as physical.

I am not proud to say it, but I own up to the fact that I emotionally abused my husband for a period of time - sharing my contempt for his behavior towards me, and saying things that were mean to him.  We did get out of that phase, so it is possible to do so.  But I always draw the line at physical abuse - once that starts in a relationship I strongly believe that couples should call it quits.  No matter how angry, you don't intimidate by hitting.  (Did you know that most physical fights are actually started by women?!)

And the emotional abuse needs to stop, pronto.  Call your partner on it, and let her know it's unacceptable.  She's like to tell you that your own behavior is unacceptable, too, which might well be it's a call to action for BOTH of you to get your acts together.


I really am struggling with this post. Put me in a marriage with a partner who doesn't have ADD, do I become lost, confused, lonely, angry, bitter, hateful, spiteful? Maybe. But not likely. Given my 35 year track record of not being that person in relationships. 

Subject me to some stress (masters degree) , loss of control (car accidents, landlord selling my longtime home, partner disloyalty) and an ADD husband, I became lost, confused, lonely, bitter, angry, spiteful... in a period of months. Everyone here is telling this guy it's not his fault ( genetics, I agree ) but is it also not the wife's fault? 

She hasn't seen the light. I have an ADD spouse. I have been there. I am there. I am working internationally this week and my mother is looking after my 16 year old daughter despite the fact my daughter LIVES with my husband. Take this one incident and multiply it by 6 or 7 incidents a week and you have life with an ADD spouse. And if you don't know that he has ADD, you don't understand why the person you love most in the world treats you like dirt, like garbage, like you don't exist for half of the week. And even if you do know your spouse has ADD you are still being treated like you don't exist for half the week. And you aren't heard, you aren't understood, and the inconsistent inconsistency leaves you exhausted because you don't ever know who is going to show up to the table. For the rest of your life. 

I hated myself, more than I was angry at my husband but the situation itself evolved so totally out of control in such a brief period of time, it took me three years before I could break the cycle. 

Its not his fault. Is it not also not my fault? Do we all lack blame? 

In the end, it is me that stopped. I broke away from our unhealthy interactions, I made the connection that he had ADD and made the space for myself to be better. 

Reading this guys list of ways he has tried to improve things... All of us non ADD spouses have a deep seated need for our partner to try this hard in a relationship. And it is likely that need is going to go unmet. And yet, I am drawn to the memory of a time my husband and I were to spend a romantic evening in a natural hot springs. He had brought tea lights ( beautiful, romantic), and it was windy. He spent more time lighting and relighting the tea lights as they blew out than paying attention to me. And I wonder, if in the hyperfocus of improving the relationship, has he stopped to ask her what she wants from him? I don't know. It IS just one side of the story.

No ADD spouse is blameless. No non ADD spouse is blameless. 

No one should be subjected to emotional abuse. The ADD spouse can't help their ADD ways, or their coping mechanisms from years of maladaptation. The non ADD spouse (can/can't) help their response to something they don't understand. Everyone loses. Everyone has lost. 

I am just trying to find my way here. I am talking my way through. All these truths (truisms) don't add up to a cohesive picture. 

Everyday, regardless of what happens in my world around me, I try to love myself. Everyday, I try to say one nice sentence to my husband while I am creating space to prevent myself from reacting in disappointment and anger. I guess I want to understand why, I want to know what comes next. A handsome young German man sat down at the bar next to me last night and was obviously interested in getting to know me. And I was so tempted, so overcome by the need to be known, to be loved. I overcame that need because I have no interest in causing any further damage to myself. And I have some pretty high standards for my own moral compass ( which made my failure in my current relationship difficult to swallow ). Well, no answers here. And I have promised myself to bring light into my world in other ways and reduce the space this relationship takes up in my brain. One day at a time. And maybe a lifetime of days becomes more than just trying to survive and make sense of the world around us. 

I am in Amsterdam. And it is beautiful. Have a good day and I apologize for the lack of coherence. 

The heart of the dilemma

Your comment beautifully lays out the dilemma - is anyone to blame?  Can the ADHD partner 'help it?'  If not, what do you do?  Do you just accept a crappy relationship?

And this is where, I think, people get confused.  No one is suggesting the non-ADHD and 'other ADHD' partners just grin and bear it - that since their partner has ADHD they should be subjected to a life of hurt, pain and loneliness.  Knowing about adult ADHD is helpful insomuch as it provides a specific path AWAY from that hurt and pain, and it involves work from both partners, not just the ADHD partner.

But if you have both tried as hard as you can, and your partnership is still not satisfactory to you, then you should think seriously about leaving that partnership.  I try to help partners live together in a happy, healthy, accepting, flexible relationship in which each partner sees and understands the issues of the other and appreciates them.  That is a far cry from staying in a relationship that makes you unhappy and is unhealthy.  I will grant you that it can take a long time for a couple to get to a place that they both feel is healthy for them, but it can be done and I have seen it happen repeatedly, even from really dark places.  BUT it does not happen to all.

You are right - no one should be subjected to emotional abuse.  If you can't move away from that pattern with your current partner, then it is time to ask yourself whether it makes sense to stay in that relationship.

I am learning...

To break the pattern. I have been pretty healthy coming up on three weeks now. We will see if it is sustained. I anticipate some mistakes in the short and long term but hopefully not throwing things, screaming, crying, etc. 

I went to my psychologist today. I wanted to talk about this new revelation of my husband possibly having ADD as she has counseled me individually and also together with my husband. She made a few comments that threw my for a loop and I am processing them now. 

She was against labeling people with psychiatric diagnoses. She said that psychiatrists only label people, because it is requested by constructs (such as family doctors, etc). Instead, she said that psychiatrists prefer to identify specific behaviors or characteristics such as lack of impulse control, etc. She said we all have quirks in our personalities and that some people just have different biology (she of course said this much more intelligently, I am just paraphrasing). She asked me if I really needed him to seek treatment and coaching or if I could detach and depersonalize without the label. She made the point that unless he himself seeks help and tries to improve things for himself, he would only make small gains, before returning to old behaviors once the threat of my unhappiness was gone. She suggested behavior modification and boundary setting. And said to make the boundaries very specific, time limited, and to minimize them as much as possible. 

I see her points. I just don't know if I agree with them. Time will tell. She suggested I let go of my expectations and find freedom. Which I do agree with. She is a Buddhist and a Russian trained psychologist (PhD in psychology, practiced for many years) who uses insight oriented therapy and non judgmental awareness methods. She really helped me keep my sanity when I was losing my mind. She is also smarter than me, which is helpful. Some counselors I met with really didn't understand my questions or offer me ways of thinking that mesh with my view of the world. She knew exactly what I was saying and what I was looking for within minutes of my first visit. I never had any plan to discuss ADD with my husband in the near future, so I have time to think these things through and to see how our relationship evolves now that I am not holding on so tightly. 

Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate the time you take to respond here. 

Psychiatrist recommendation about not identifying ADHD

Well, if your husband's ADHD is mild, then using non-medicinal treatments such as behavioral therapy and greater self-awareness may work.  I would recommend adding exercise, a better sleep regimen and fish oil to her suggestions, as these have been shown to help.  If the ADHD is not mild, or continues to get in the way of your relationship, then her advice is not good advice and ignores the physiology of ADHD.  (I wasn't surprised to hear you say she was educated the U.S. is geneerally ahead of other countries in recognizing ADHD.)

If you like her a lot, and you feel you BOTH continue to make progress, then stick with her plan at least for a while.  If you find that your husband is unable to continue to focus on you and your relationship, does not sustain his treatment, and does not look inside himself enough to genuinely address the ADHD symptomatic behaviors, then you'll need to find someone else to help you both.

ADHD isn't a 'religion' that people believe in or don't, and there is a lot of research out there about what works to treat it (go to my online treatment guide and download the two free chapters of "Thrive" for a complete overview of optimizing ADHD treatment.)  Behavioral therapy is one of those treatments, as is she may be able to help...or may not.  It all depends upon your husband's response to her efforts.

Donario's picture

First off.. I am amazed that

First off.. I am amazed that I found this forum so quickly. Secondly, I am saddened that my wife is in this same category and is ready to leave me. I am currently on a clinical trial of a new ADHD drug which has me absolutely bonkers - feeling things (which I think are possibly clarity) that I have not ever felt before being an untreated ADHD adult. If I try to express the clarity I feel, she throws it back at me and reminds me of the pain I have caused people in the past rather than acknowledging I am trying to become a better person. She insists that I divorce her in order for her to be free. I feel she needs to make her own decisions and to stop using me as a reason she is unhappy. It sucks :(

Your wife has been using you

which is now being disrupted as you can see her games and she can't blame you for everything that goes wrong in the relationship.  It sounds as if you could use counseling, but she may not accept this since it means she would have to do some work on herself and accept her part in the problems.  If the other person absolutely won't make changes, then separation and perhaps divorce may unfortunately be your only alternative.  Try not to fight with her, but keep suggesting that you go to counseling or a marriage retreat such as Retrouvaille.  I have also recommended "Divorce Busting" by Michelle Weiner Davis to many people.  Her suggestions have saved many marriages.  Also the book, "Boundaries" by Townsend and Cloud is extremely helpful.

I suggest your wife feels she has no life...been there!

From you post it sounds like your wife feels she has no life...she resents you and blames you for it...The story you just told and the reason's you gave for all the upheaval and instability (no secure feelings for her, no stability for her on a day to day basis) I don't doubt the story of your life as you stated in your post is true in your eye's...If she was telling this story, she probably would see it differently.

You wife sounds like she has gotten bitter, and cold. She really needs counseling and some self reflection time...You also have to understand, life can't be about you all the time, your schedule, your inability to function without being intrusive on her...You say she gets upset at your ADHD moments? Why? What effect is these ADHD moment you call them having on her? And, her rights as a person and her goals in life? 

Self awareness is going to be a valuable tool for you both....You cant' keep letting your actions pile up on each other, and make excuses for that, by blaming or telling each other their problems...There is no hope for your marriage until you both take care of the person in the mirror...Hopefully you can both find a quiet peaceful stability that want be found in one another. One that will cause the excuses and blaming to fall by the wayside....

I hope your wife will summit to a good counselor that can help draw you both into a mind set of being responsible for your own emotions and actions....

Blessing C...


Get out

I know your pain and it feels hopeless. You have a lot going for yourself, it seems to me she hates herself not you. I got hurt on the job years ago and like you situation things just went from bad to worse over night. She says all i was was a pay check now I am nothing, she hits me.I went to a shrink now I am crazy in her eyes I tried everything like you. But now she has a boyfriend and she tells me how great the sex is with him and that my kids hate me. She goes out all night comes home at 5 30 in the morning. It kills me cause I tried everything but I finally am letting go. Thank God I read your post cause I was so ashamed of myself felt this only happens to me. She told me 30 mins go to jump off a bridge and die it would be better for everyone. so hang in there, you are not alone and there are good people out their for guys like us. Dont say sorry anymore to her. good luck Mike


This is terrible and unacceptable. I am the ADHD male partner and our relationship, my wife gets angry at my symptoms too, she feels unappreciated which at that moment, she is right, she is, its not entirely under my control and I feel constant guilt over it, and I wish there was more I could do to help it. 

When we were first married I was undiagnosed and she called me brain damaged, but meaning it in an honest way (I am a former boxer) which hurt, but after some serious work together and my diagnosis we trudge along pretty well. We found our love again and each year I feel we get better and closer. The thing is we went to a counselor, and she encourages me every time I take a step towards better management, I really dont get anger anymore unless it appears I am not managing it well, not holding up to my end of the work basically and that is deserved. I often lose my sense of self worth because I often feel like a child because she reminds me of my schedule etc... all of the time. I just have to accept it, which is not easy at all and I am in counseling for that. 

Back story aside, my ADHD is showing. Anyhow, what she is doing is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. She sounds like she is unwilling to work, she has already checked out on you, its harsh but true. You may love her, and that is grand for you to say and you have a very forgiving heart, but I dont think you do, I think you are at a point where you dont know what to do or you wouldnt be on here. YOu are starting o realize your self worth and that she doesnt respect that. You are codependent and are afraid if you leave she will be ass out. She probably will be, because she has issues she isnt willing to work on. Right now she is teaching your son it is okay to verbally/physically abuse your mentally ill partner until they break. Do you want your son to treat his future SO the way you are being treated right now? He will, we all do what we were modeled, and at two that is when it is most potent. She is teaching him to abuse the weaker one in a relationship to get your point across.

I would say give her the ultimatum either you go to counseling or I divorce you and take the kid, thats it. When my wife and I hit rock bottom thats the ultimatum she gave me, and I chose to stay and work on it, I thank her for it in my heart every day. She compelled me to do the right thing, and I had the integrity to take up the work. If she doesn't have the integrity to put as much into this as you, than she doesnt deserve you. Find someone who will teach your son to approach people with concern and cooperation.


I literally JUST posted a VERY similar story...and my recognition that it was past time to end the relationship. The truth is that no one who is secure in themselves and genuinely cares for someone would evet allow them to feel so deeply hurt and alone. So...she's unhappy. And YOU are clearly unhappy. So the two of you, together, are the emotional ewuivalent if mixing ammonia and bleach in the kitchen sink. Its slowly killing both of you and anyone in close proximity... You neex to remember what it felt like to BREATHE. And likely so does she. Feel free to shoot me a message if you want to ralk more...i know from experience it just helps to know you're not alone.

Respect for your proactivity

You're a responsible person and loving father.  Great that you're on meds; I have found a DBT/mindfulness class has given me a resource so that helps me get more of what I fairly need in communication.  The smallest changes are for me huge.  I have two stepsons and a Godson (grandson that I adore).  

I've been in marriage and partnership for @30 years.  It has taken some time for my wife to become more settled and empathetic; I agree with the non-ADHD spouse comments.  From reading this website, I have more appreciation for my wife's loneliness as there has been no support (groups) for adults with ADHD. 

As this is an older post, know that the self-awareness and accountability you are taking gives you child great role modelling.  

Whether or not you remain in the marriage, I found real insight 'for myself' context wise in relationship from Harville Hendrix "Marriage a Path to Wholeness" (there are some great quotes of his on Goodread).  


Relationship remains difficult; and as I've let go more of my expectations of my wife to be different, things have improved.  Age is a factor in trade-offs; as I am quite a bit older than you, I likely am more resigned to some of the barriers to intimacy that continue.  The experiences you shared here I fully relate to and, while there are occasion setbacks (relapses), they are more seldom.  

And, it remains very significant that finances wise my wife and I are stable.  Your following your job prospects were necessary and moving nearer your in-laws seems (ed) a well thought out decision.  Best.






Support Groups

We do offer tele-support groups for ADHD partners and for non-ADHD partners.  Go to our support groups page for more information on them.  The next sessions are coming up.


If your wife hits you and

If your wife hits you and says these things, and it is repeated behavior, then you need to leave.  She sounds like the type who would try to get full custody by lying about you or using your illness against you, but you have to leave and fight that.  The only thing that matters after that is getting some shared custody with your son, which won't happen amicably.

of course, taking your son with you in light of her tendency for violence is an option - you are the father and can do that - just be ready for war about the son.

leave and fight for your son - it sucks, but it is the ONLY option, in my opinion.


Hi rsteele,

It sounds like you are in an abusive relationship. As long as her behavior is not just a reflection of yours (i.e. you don't initiate the hitting and name-calling), I can see no reason to behave this way, even if she's really tired and angry. There's many ways you can express your anger, not always constructive. but this seems really low. Don't want to generalize, but I believe it's usually the other way round and it's the ADHD spouse who needs to be dragged to therapy.

Thinking you deserve it... That sounds really unhealthy. My personal opinion, I think you should immediately look for professional help, both as a couple and individuals.