Need to get out, but want to stay

I am so sad, frustrated, unsure right now. My husband of 1 year (together for 2 before that) and I have recently decided to separate....sort of. I know, truly I know, that I need to RUN and not look back. I have heard all of this advice from those who have lived it. I have ignored the red flags, and chose to marry this man after discovering (through this website) that undiagnosed ADHD is what has been affecting our relationship all along (and his two previous marriages I might add). Before making the final decision on marriage, I felt informed on what I was getting into and that it would be a lifelong struggle. I am a patient person. I am a "fixer" who feels like someone needed to give this loving man a chance at a good, happy relationship. I loved him enough to be that person. So, I jumped in....well, after calling off the marriage twice ;) Now, a year into it, things have been up and down, up and down, and for once I would like a stable relationship. Yet, I don't seem to be able to let go.

Things have been pretty good recently. We have started counseling with a great therapist (she's also ADHD, so I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing). Yet stupid little things set him off to such a degree that he can go from the most loving, awesome man to a cruel, spiteful person without an ounce of love in a matter of moments. He threatens divorce whenever we get into a big argument, it is ALWAYS my fault (I'm such a nag), talking things through just makes it elevate. The children (we have 5 still living with us) have gone through this roller coaster with us, and I feel horrible that we are putting them through this.

My problem is, I don't want to give up. I don't want to feel like a failure yet again. This is my second marriage. My first dragged on for 12 years, and I am almost positive that he was also ADHD. I just had NO clue. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment, and only fall for men with this condition. maybe it's because the courtship hyperfocus just blinded the heck out of me in both instances. I worry, at this point, if there are any good men out there left without ADHD. I've never known anything different. Yet, I feel I deserve more.

I know all this, and yet we both keep coming back to each other. It's like a horrible addiction that neither one of us can get out of. We go from, "Yes, we are divorcing" to "I can't live without you" within a day or two. It's driving me nuts. I just need some help and support to give me the backbone to just leave, and not look back.

Some background

I became a huge nag in my previous marriage, and it turned into a mother/child relationship. My husband never did anything around the house, couldn't hold a job, wouldn't even change a diaper (I think he maybe changed two or three diapers throughout three children). I was full time in school, did daycare 10 hours a day, and was single-handedly raising three children. Our sex life became non-existant...I had so much resentment built up. We had great communication though, and could talk about anything without getting upset. Nothing got resolved of course, but at least we could talk. He never could understand why I was so upset, which only infuriated me more. He felt that as long as we loved each other, it should be unconditional. But I had no more love to give. We separated, then divorced...both my decision. He's been horribly depressed, and wants me back. I feel horrible, but know I made the right decision. I hated what I had become.

A couple years later I met my husband now. He was the most loving, attentive man I had ever known. GREAT with my children, very fun. We were extremely passionate about each other, which had been lacking so much in my last marriage. I chose to ignore the red flags...which were:

-two previous marriages (both their fault of course)

-two children while still in High School (different mothers)

-he has held a great, steady job for ten years now. I am thankful for that! Before that though, I think he worked at every place in the valley (maybe for a month or two at a time). Literally maybe 50 jobs in a few years.

-casual sexual relationships with a few women between his marriages and right before me. They meant nothing of course. He was just dating (mind you, we are both very religious and this is a huge no no in our religion, yet he didn't think it was an issue).

-addiction to computer gaming- for HOURS when he claims it will be only for a few minutes, and if I try to get him off, watch out world, he's ornery as heck.

-addiction to gambling (goes out of town religiously once a month, and will miss anything to make sure he goes. I had to pay him $100 once, and buy him dinner, to stay home with me. Luckily he is such a cheapskate that he only uses free credit from the casinos, never his own money, thank goodness).

-addiction to money, and saving money. This one is not bad, just annoying at times. I would much rather have this than uncontrollable spending). Won't go anywhere without a coupon. Our money is separate, and if I need to borrow anything, it gets written down and he will ensure that I pay him back- did I mention we were married :)

-a clean freak. Again, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Much better than a slob. It's just annoying to constantly be told to pick up every little thing.

-broken promise after broken promise (though he's learned never to promise anything to me anymore. If he says he will do something, I must take it with a grain of salt, unless the word "promise" is used, which is extremely rare).

-No time management. At work, he has timers for everything and is always on time. At home, "one minute" means an hour or two. If you tell him he does this, he denies it and says I'm over exaggerating.

-he nitpicks every little thing that I, or my children haven't done around the house. Yet, he barely lifts a finger, unless it's a project he is interested in. He likes to delegate instead. When I, or one of my children bring this up, it's a huge fight and we are being disrespectful, which causes his threat for divorce.

-he doesn't take responsibility for his actions, and will rarely ever admit fault or say sorry (I have to be the one to bite my tongue and say sorry to keep the peace, even if I feel strongly that I was in the right).

-cannot get a project started unless it interests him. The other day, he had to do some small data entry for something, and he literally HAD TO clean and organize his entire closet, cleaned the bedroom, did the dishes, cleaned his sons room, etc. He never got around to the data entry. I did it.

-horrible communication skills: talking things out causes him to become defensive and I always end up being the bad guy.

-strained relationships with most of his children

-His parents and siblings all have addiction, gambling, relationship, time management, and fidelity problems and are extremely dysfunctional. I've mentioned the possibility of ADHD before (because I know it's inherited and want to get them some help), and they deny that it could be that.

He has some wonderful qualities too. He is attentive, when I'm his focus. He loves to make me feel loved. He is a good helper and a hard worker, IF I can get him started on something without nagging too much that it starts a fight. He's great with kids. He's FUN and loves to do things with his family. He can be extremely romantic and passionate. Sex has never been an issue in our relationship....we still have sparks quite often. He is loyal, as long as he is in an established relationship and not just "dating."  We have fun together, and truly enjoy each other's company. He loves to come home to us. It upsets me that he has so much potential, but because of the way his stupid brain works, there are so many things that get in the way of this.

I'm just tired of what I have become and see the old me coming out from my past marriage: the whiny, complaining nag. I don't know how not to be and still get things done. I love the things that made me fall in love with him. We were awesome...we were the "perfect" couple. Now, I'm lucky to get his attention. I feel second to his computer game and his dogs. He has never been diagnosed, but is willing to get a diagnosis and try medication. Is this something I should attempt, or just get out? I read him some of Melissa's book the last night. "Wow, that's totally us," was his response. "Yes, dear, that's what I've been telling you for three years now," was mine. He has never thought he might be the problem. To him, things have been great, as long as I'm not nagging or being disrespectful.

I'm tired!



I'm the last person who is

I'm the last person who is going counsel you to get a divorce. Especially since you mention that you went into the marriage with the "red flags" already in view. I'm not entirely certain that ADHD is at play here. While traits vary from person to person, some of the things you mentioned seem to echo OCD. I have a hard time seeing how he can be addicted to gambling but also addicted to savings. That's a complete contradiction. You mentioned counseling, but has he been evaluated by a licensed psychiatrist and not just a family doctor or professional counselor? It could be that he exhibits some traits from both ADHD and OCD.

Try sticking with your counseling. It's taken a good year of counseling for me and my ADHD hubby to make lasting progress. It sounds to me that your husband is very reactive and sensitive to criticism. The threats of divorce on his end are simply doing what he's always done. As for you, I can see from your narrative that you have already taken baggage from your first marriage into this second one. Do you want more baggage to carry into your third? I think you owe to yourself to work on this marriage instead of pulling up stakes. You didn't describe anything that isn't learned behavior and that can't be treated by a good counselor.

Best of luck.