My wife refuses to acknowledge ADHD's impact on marriage

We have been married for 14 years.  I came into the marriage with a history of depression.  There is no question that the holidays have been a trigger of sorts bringing me into low moods.  However, my wife comes from a family significantly affected by ADHD.  She has all of the hallmarks of it - hyperfocus, distractibility, forgetfulness etc... 

We have gone through some really bad years where divorce was seriously considered.  We always seemed to be angry at each other.  One of our issues is that I would complain about lack of sex/intimacy and she blames all of our woes on my depression.  I have always had problems with the fact that pretty much everything in her life takes priority over me.  On her side, division of chores was a big issue for her.   Other issues have been over her refusal to go back to work after all of the kids were in school.  There was never any resolution and the same issues kept popping up over and over.  To address my contributions to the problems, I engaged in therapy and obtained medication.  I am happy to say that my depression has been largely alleviated.  l also made concerted efforts at holding up my end of things around the house.  But even after alleviating the depression from our relationship and , she still seemed constantly angry at me.

After addressing every issue that she had communicated to me and her still being angry at me, I began to mention divorce (prior to that, it had been her that brought it up).  I told her that I had done everything humanly possible to address her issues that made her angry and she was STILL angry with me.  I told her I can do better than living life with some one who cannot be happy with me.

Pretty quickly after that, she went on medication for ADHD and it was as if a miracle had occurred.  All of the sudden, she was able to pay attention to me and communicate on a deeper level that we had previously.  Things were much better. 

She has stayed on the medication and does not seem to have the constant anger towards me, but some of the ADHD patterns continue to haunt our marriage.  Last weekend, I had a minor emergency and needed her help.  She was at the hospital as her sister was being discharged (literally leaving the hospital - boyfriend and father were both there to help and no major medical issues for the sister).  When I called her for help, she simply refused to help and told me to ask someone else.   I was very angry, as me being any kind of priority in her life has always been an open question.  She can hyperfocus on a million different issues, but can find little energy to pay attention to me.

This weekend, it was a crafts project.  While I cleaned the house and did the laundry and drove the kids around, she put in around 20 hours on her crafts project.  It's gotten so normal for her to "check out" on weekends that I pretty much just accept it.  This coming weekend, she's going skiing.

After the hospital incident, I told her that I was angry that I could not rely on her for help and she informed me that"a hundred times out of a hundred - she would choose to stay with her sister.  Ouch.  When we tried to talk about it, she simply shouted over anything i had to say about how her ADHD affects our marriage and insisted that all of our issues are my problem, that this is just my holiday blues cropping up again and that I have to figure out how to handle it.  If nothing else, I find it hugely disrespectful that she won't even consider my viewpoint on the issue.  This is not the first time she has told me when I brought up ADHD that - this is how she is and I better figure out how to deal with it. 

These issue is long standing but relatively newly discovered (last two year).  ADHD is rampant in her family, so she probably has no idea regarding what non-ADHD relationships look like.  I love her and don't want to break up, so I am just in a holding pattern right now.  Keeping my distance and trying to figure things out.  I becoming a bit hopeless.  If she keeps blaming me and won't even acknowledge the role ADHD plays in our marriage - what hope is there? 

So that's where I am - any advice on how to deal with this situation would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 

I don't know what advice to

I don't know what advice to give you since I am in the middle of my own struggle right now and have only been aware of ADHD and how strongly I believe it is affecting my 3.5 year relationship.

This resonated with me...because aside from me not having depression (though BF inserts MY issues instead)...I have felt these same sentiments.

When we tried to talk about it, she simply shouted over anything i had to say about how her ADHD affects our marriage and insisted that all of our issues are my problem, that this is just my holiday blues cropping up again and that I have to figure out how to handle it.  If nothing else, I find it hugely disrespectful that she won't even consider my viewpoint on the issue.  This is not the first time she has told me when I brought up ADHD that - this is how she is and I better figure out how to deal with it.

BF and I got into a huge fight 10 days ago (with him furious that I blame him for everything...that we don't have any relationship issues, that he doesn't have ADHD and me furious that I have been unappreciated, ignored, and unhappy for a long time and when I try to get his attention on it he brushes it off or ignores my pleas completely and tells me to let it go)...and he hasn't spoken to me since...so I don't even know if we even have a relationship left to save.  (It is a long distance relationship).

So I don't know what advice to give, but I sure do feel your pain...

Same thing with my husband

I'm so I don't have any advice for you either except maybe think about finding a counselor to talk to you, even if your wife won't go with you.  My husband is very similar to your wife, although he is on medication but I have not noticed any change like you did with your wife.  He won't go to therapy and work on strategies to deal with his anger and other issues.  The kids are totally affected by his behaviors and he doesn't see that, won't work on being a better parent.  Everything is my problem.  His anger and yelling is my problem b/c he doesn't think he is yelling, even though the kids are crying b/c he is yelling at them.  I'm planning on starting counseling on my own in January.  I need ways to cope with him and help setting boundaries.  Everything tells you to set boundaries but I need examples and help.  I need someone to help me stay in a marriage that the other person has no inclination to work on.  I can't/don't want to divorce him.  One reason is he is such a bad parent I don't want the kids with him, but he is so charming in person that I can't prove it.  He isn't physical with any of us but the constant anger, yelling, and negativity is just as damaging.  But no one sees that.  Good luck.

 

denial

CTJohn, I am sorry you are going through this. I think that the denial and deflection aspect of ADHD can be the most painful part. It's tough to feel hurt by your spouse, but it's ten times tougher when your spouse not only won't address what is going on, but when he or she deals with it by telling you that it's your fault or problem. Melissa's book talks about this and you may find more stories about it on these boards. My ex, and many spouses with ADHD, can become masters at using denial, deflection, anger, debate, and a million other strategies to escape addressing situations and conversations. I began to believe that my own was on another planet, because his perspective and the language that he was speaking made so little sense to me. 

I think keeping a counselor for yourself can help, if only to have a reasonable person see things from your perspective and assure you that you are not crazy. And maybe help you set the stage for having conversations with your wife that ask her to consider the effect that ADHD has on your marriage and family. Just out of curiosity, how does she justify going skiing on the weekends when she has children and doesn't work? Do you support her and your whole family? 

My best to you.