Need some advice, about to call it quits... PLEASE HELP

My husband and I have been together 10 years, married for 7. I'm in my late 20's, he is in his early 30's. This march he started acting cold and distant. After being obviously annoyed by my presence one night out with our friends, I asked what was wrong. He said he wasn't happy and hasn't been in 5-6 years. I was shocked! He says I had shut him out emotionally for so long that he is numb to me. To say I was hurt is an understatement. I suggested counseling and he said he would try. I met with the counselor once on my own, and it helped me realize I was alittle co-dependent. We met together with the counselor once, and he said he didn't know if he wanted to even be with me anymore. He just didn't know what he wanted. We were both crying and hurting. In all honesty, our sex life was pretty good, and we rarely went more than a week without it. His only complaint was I wasn't "adventurous or eager to have sex enough for him". That in my opinion was our only issue in our marriage. 

He owns his own business, and participates in a professional sport. He said he had "adhd" when he was a kid, but doesn't think it affects his life now. He regularly forgeets little tasks, rarely finishes a project especially involving fixing up the house, needs constant stimulation, hates to stay home and do nothing, and likes the bar scene with his friends. Both our families have been affected my alcoholism, and his father died of a drug overdose when he was a kid. Now with our marriage issues, and for the past year he is all about his friends and going out. His friends are all about a good time and drinking. I can't count the number of times he puked from drinking too much. He's in his 30's and thank God we don't have children. During this vulnerable time in our marriage, he went out one night with a friend to grab a drink and talk. 6 hours later my husband text me to say he was crashing at his friends place because he drank too much. I'm a few years younger than him, and I'm tired of the bar scene. I'm going back to school and working full-time and I'm at my wits end.  He said he is a social person and loves being around people. He just started his own business last year, and should be focusing on that and his athletic career. He is rebelling against getting professional help, and when it comes to our marriage his response is "I don't know". 

This website has reassured my beliefs that he is ADHD, and that we both need counseling. Our relationship has been parent/child dynamic since day one since I am the more stable reliable one, and he easily forgets things. I'm at a loss at what to do, or if there is anything I can do. I can see him on a downward spiral with his business if he doesn't get help soon. For my financial future as his wife still, I want to protect him and myself. Of course I still love him dearly, and would love to be able to rebuild our marriage, however I'm not blind to the idea that the damage could well be too much. Whether we stay together or not, I want him to be healthy, and even our counselor said this cycle of "unhappiness" will continue for him if he doesn't make changes.

Any advice to persuade my husband to take care of himself, for his career and his health sake?   

It's a struggle,

It's not easy dealing with the whole "denial"when it comes to ADHD,my DH denied and denied,until I started reading a lot of ADHD books and educating myself ,so when he is in the ADHD "mood" I can handle it to a pulp,but,not always,it takes a lot of guts!.He is taking out his frustrations on self medicating him self with the substance abuse of alcohol,I have had that problem with my ADHD spouse but I go with him and drink also, I never let him go alone,too much wolves out there, you never know who is waiting to attack your husband for some "dessert" ,I was always a social drinker and still is, but he seems to take pattern from me and do it on a Fridays with me, since we work during the week and can't really drink cause our high demands "financial wise" is to risky to let our selves go to alcohol,he has been very bad and good at times ,and I have been considering divorce many times ,but I have been learning and I "KNOW" it could get better, but with work, not only on his behalf, but also on mines,the key is to let the relationship take it's natural course and try and educate your self on ADHD as much as you can,I would advice Melissa's book"the ADHD effect on marriage" and take it from there.Trust me once you get to know the ADHD better you would understand better.That's of course if you did not read it as yet.Maybe you could try and read it to him starting with pointing out the good stuff from the book first,, then go on to the diagnoses part then it might click to him,I don't know if it would work for you but it sure worked for me.Every relationship is different but we all have the same problems who knows it just might work.



Thank you!

I will give that book a try. This year I have really focused on me and my career and going back to school, and I don't think our problems surfacing now are a coincidence. The drinking is definitely an issue, and I agree that there are wolves out there, I however am not going to baby him anymore. I have stopped making his appointments. I'm getting my own separate checking account tomorrow, and I am focusing on me. For the last 5-6 (which he claims to have been so unhappy) I have focused my extra attention on him and his career. I have been the stable one with the stable income and his has fluctuated throughout the years. We have been able to pay all our bills, but there hasn't been any financial security over a long period of time. He continues to act like a 21 year old, but has a business and athletic career that completely depend on him. I'm at that point in my life that I want to have some security, and stay away from the drama that the bar scene brings. Thank you for the advice, and I will read that book. :)

Good for you keep that,

Good for you keep that up,continue to see after you and that is the right way to do it, you have the right direction,I agree with everything you have stated ,and I think you would succeed,when you say you stopped making is appointment"I agree" totally!!! he needs to do that for himself,when we do these things,and when you read the book you would understand the "parent dynamic's" it,s not good to enable him,he should do that and want to change,we can't do that for them,trust me I have been there.

god bless you


lion-hearted girl's picture

Sounds incredibly familiar

My hubby and I have been good friends for over 20 years, married for 12. After he recently left me for the second time, I have come to the finality that I can no longer live my life making excuses for him, trying to make him happy to no avail, trying to be the perfect wife, TRYING to the point of exhaustion. I love him more than he knows and because of that I am starting to recognize that I need to let go of trying to control everything. He needs to take responsibility for his actions or lack thereof. He needs to try.

My husband has said the same thing, that he hasn't been happy in years now. This hurt deeply and I took it to mean that I needed to do something more, something better to make him happy. But with this disorder the root cause of the unhappiness, negativity, un-met goals, need to self-medicate with harmful habits is not YOU. It's not me either. It's in his frontal lobe. Denial and pushing the blame on you or your sexual relationship with him is not the reason he is unhappy. And the most frustrating part of it all is you can't force him to see that when left untreated, this disorder causes pain beyond comprehension. The impulsivity, the short-sided-ness, the ability to only see 'right now' and not working towards something in the future, the giving up when something becomes anything less than exciting and new... that is NOT something that another person can make up for.

Definitely learn as much as you can about ADHD and the companions that usually come along as well (these are some of the familiars: anxiety, depression, ODD, OCD). Melissa Orlov is truly insightful and I'm reading her book, the ADHD Effect on Marriage for the 2nd time because nearly ALL of it rings true in my marriage (or what's left of my marriage at this point). I've shared as much as I could with my husband, many times through tears. I'd also recommend More Attention, Less Deficit by Ari Tuckman as a book to get for your husband. Ari brings humor to the table at times and he makes wonderful sense. He's written the book for people with ADHD, keeping it brief, easy to reference, etc. He even has most of the book in podcasts that you can download and burn to a CD if your husband responds better with audio (or drives a lot and has a lot of that time on his hands). Russell Barkley is a good one to Google for the research he's done (with over 30 years of experience with ADHD, and in particular the effects in adults). Long story short, you can't learn enough. For your own sanity as well as how to properly cope if you have someone with ADHD in your life.

For a very long time I thought my husband was just plain outspoken with his opinions, selfish and needed to grow up. Of course those are the negatives. On the positive side he can also be extremely generous, thinks out of the box, encourages me to be strong, is very charming, humorous, full of energy, spontaneous, typically upbeat. Which is why I know that the depressed, introverted, sad, anti-social, withdrawn person he has become lately is NOT him. So, my caution to you is watch for depression. And try to get him to come to accept the effects of ADHD on your life together, before it gets too sad and hurtful. Also, watch out for triggers of his attempts to self-medicate. As you learn about ADHD, you'll see that addiction to drugs and alcohol is the most obvious (sounds like how your husband's been trying to deal with it), but also look out for less-obvious addictions. Like porn, or other internet addictions (incessantly needing to check forums, surf endlessly, etc.) He may not be that withdrawn yet, and prefers company to solitude, but it may lead there. Also, does he like to pick fights? Argue about everything? Take an opposing view about EVERYTHING for the sake of debate? That's his way of stimulating the frontal lobe --- getting those areas fired up --- at your expense. EXHAUSTING, I know.

My best advice, after learning all you can about ADHD, is to find ways to keep yourself happy. Define your personal boundaries, as Melissa says. How far will you or won't you bend on something extremely important to you? If you keep ignoring those things you will become negative and unhappy yourself, and start blaming him. Very bad cycle to get into. Learn how NOT to push him away with better techniques in your marriage. Never think you are to blame and don't let him make you feel like any less of a person because of his short-comings.

Next is to make him responsible for managing his ADHD symptoms. Support him, but in the end he needs to accept it, come to grips with it, and want to try to seek help for positive ways to handle it. He will need to take the steps to get treatment, and to stick with the treatment. If he loves you and values your relationship, he will do this. But you can't force him because he will end up hating you for doing that.

I just hope it isn't too late for me and my husband. He finally wants to get help and to try. Now if I can just get the local therapist/psychologists that I've emailed to get back to me so we can schedule something and begin this journey I will be happy.

Hope this helps you!

Sounds incredibly familiar

SUCH a great post! Thank you so much for sharing.

My husband is on Adderall, and we both have been accepting this as "treatment" for about 5 or 6 years now. But, we still struggle so much with so many of his ADHD related personality traits.

Neither of us really has ever acknowledged any of his ADHD personality traits, other than disorganization. The short fuse, constant opinions, intolerance, yelling, constant pontificating, never satisfied - no matter how much I do for him, blaming, selfish, unyielding, narrow view, etc... are not things we ever recognized as ADHD related, but based on the gazillion posts I have read at this point, these are all clearly common in ADHD people. Discovering this is like a million pounds have been lifted off of my shoulders! My husband also has many good points too to offset some of the challenging aspects of his personality - but I've been spending the last 12 years dismissing the most challenging characteristics as simply "male" tendencies toward dominance/aggression, without any awareness or understanding that these traits are actually ADHD related. I never consciously attributed them to ADHD. I just thought my husband was sort of an ass (but also a great guy in many ways) because his mother is an opinionated jerk with tons of mental problems and so is his sister - but they also have ADHD. I often naively thought that there was sometimes something about ME that was provoking him - like maybe a snotty tone in my voice or a hostile look on my face. I've tried to do everything to be hyper-self aware so that I don't come off in a way that he could ever construe as provoking/snotty/jerky, and to basically be beyond any type of reproach. Having to work so hard just to have a simple discussion with my husband after 12 years of marriage, gets me down sometimes. I used to think that he could and would change and mellow out, over time, if I made everything just perfect for him. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened, and I've given up trying to be perfect.

Just realizing that these traits are part of ADHD, is such a GREAT and freeing feeling. I wish there was a way I could help him see that these traits are ADHD related, so he could try to work on them. I know he would at least try if he understood that they were ADHD related because he's that kind of guy. He knows he's too aggressive and yells a lot, and he has improved a little over the years, but not nearly enough. He usually points outside of himself and blames others (usually me or our kids) for the way they respond to HIM, instead of trying to understand that he can't treat people poorly and expect them to respond in a happy go lucky way. Suggesting that his challenging traits are ADHD related would be supremely offensive to him, I know. If I say a peep when he's in that angry, hostile mode, no matter how right I may be or how innocuous my comment might be, he views it as provocation, and escalates his intimidation or just shuts down, and storms away. Storming away is usually followed by days of giving me the cold shoulder. It's gotten to the point, where I actually prefer the cold shoulder. At least during that time, he's handling his own crap because his ego won't allow him to ask me for help when he feels so slighted, and he curtails his constant complaining.

Most of the time, I just apologize for whatever it was that I said, just so we can get on with our lives. That doesn't even bother me.... I'm the type of person who really needs very little. I'm happy when my family is happy. I'm happy to work hard, be the financial provider (which I am), be the primary care giver to our kids, do the yard work, and anything else I can do. The only thing I ask in return is that my family be happy, and it is supremely frustrating to me that he so rarely can be. At least my kids are happy and doing well... to me, that's the most important!

Thank you again for your post.... So helpful!



Thank you all so much for the

Thank you all so much for the advice and sharing your stories, I'm very appreciative and have taken it all to heart.

Things seem to have gotten worse in my household as of just a few hours ago. In order to concentrate on my school finals, and since he just doesn't know what he wants and needs his space, I asked him to stay at friends place for the next week and 1/2 so I can finish my test. Well for about 2 days he stayed away, and we didn't communicate. Well 2 days ago he comes home to do laundry. we barely speak. Yesterday he comes home after work, to get some clothes, and we talk. He said he can't clear his head, that he "loves" me but he is not "in-love" but is still attracted to me. WTF! I'm thinking. Because his friend who he stayed with was working late, he slept on the couch, and I slept in our room. Tonight, it just got worse. I come home after work, and start on my homework. He comes home a few hours later, to get some stuff. I tell him I can't concentrate, and I thought he needed his space. He says this 1/2 separation thing isn't working and he is frustrated. He is emotionally and sexually frustrated and he doesn't know what to do. Not to share to much information, but I told him until he clears his mind or starts therapy, that we couldn't have sex, simply because its too much of an emotional rollercoaster for me. Am I wrong for that?  any advice on sex during a separation would be appreciated. I set up my own checking account, and am cutting off the chores and "motherly" things I used to do for him. Was cutting off the sex too much too soon? Considering how unclear he is mentally, I was afraid I would get my hopes up that we were healthier emotionally than we are. He does have an extremely high sex drive, which I've read is another sign of ADHD. I don't know what to do, again....



I have ADHD and my husband does not. I am not perfect (don't know if I thought I was when I think I am ALWAYS can I argue). But I see now my behaviors, and I want to change. Not only for me, but for HIM AND OUR CHILDREN as well. I just hope he can see it and that I am serious. I did recently start school (Dec 2011) and that has really opened my eyes (he's been trying to convince me to go for years, but I NEVER did good in school- he couldn't understand the reason I didn't want to go was because I was AFRAID I WOULD FAIL). I think marriage is hard period. Some people have just figured out their "balance" way earlier then others. I just am really sad that we may not be able to see our balance if he is really "done". I just wish he would talk to someone other than me, maybe he could hear SOMETHING that I can't explain right. I just want to cry. I don't want him to have to do everything for me. I don't want to use ADHD as a crutch.......I never have. I just want to UNDERSTAND. I am sorry I turned this into me.......that was not my intention. But maybe a view into an ADHD mind may help? Let me know if you have other questions ( I honestly don't know about the sex thing, to be honest, my husband hasn't touched me in a month).


lion-hearted girl's picture

The curse of parent/child dynamics in relationships :(

If I can recap, you guys have known each other for 10 years, married for 7. TRULY an accomplishment, knowing that he has ADHD and that you are probably exhausting yourself. He's at the age where he may be going through an early mid-life crisis. My husband is the same age and those were his words to describe the turmoil he is going through at this point in his life.

So, if I understand your posts, you are definitely dealing with a Parent/Child Dynamic in your relationship. You've been the maid for a LONG time, usually probably without complaining (been there myself). You probably let most things slide but 'slide a comment in' here or there when he drinks too much/plays too much video games/acts less than what you know to be 'mature', right? It is really easy for us to think that a person with ADHD can just clear their mind. But without knowing what it does, how most people cope with it in the wrong way, and without any type of treatment strategies, he cannot clear their mind.

To be brutally honest, you pushed him away by asking him to stay at a friend's place. I TOTALLY understand your desire to focus in order to get through your finals. But, quite honestly, you probably shouldn't push him away. Thinking that he's going to clear his mind. He has NO idea how to do that. You should, by all means, set expectations as far as "I need from 5-10 every night to study" and then make sure he understands that you can spend time together after that point. It's not an ALL or NOTHING mentality. It can't be. He will not improve if you push him away and "scold" him, like "get your mind straight, boy!" "just snap out of it already". He will be too upset with you because he'll feel like you're treating him like everyone else has all his life -- as if he's a child, incapable of things that the grown-ups do.

His saying that he has not been happy for the past 5-6 years is NOT a negative reflection of something you've done, but it is him coming to realize that "Damn! I am NOT happy! I don't really know why! I should be happy, but I'm not". Years of not being treating or and coping negatively with ADHD and with people misunderstanding him are the root cause. Not you. It is a cry for help. Of course he's not sure what that help means, which is why if he is willing to try, you need to act on that and support him.

You can focus on all the little negative things he is doing and saying at times (which, remember, is his NORMAL way of dealing with things, right?) or you can listen to the major things he is saying when he says the separation isn't working. Yes, a high sex drive can be another sign of ADHD, because it CAN be yet another way he seeks to "self-meditate". But, honestly, he's a man in his early 30's who finds his wife attractive. And, honestly, who doesn't enjoy the high of sex? I know, you don't want to feel like a piece of meat ---- but look BEYOND that thought. He WANTS you. He could be 'taking care of it himself' --- wouldn't that piss you off? Quite simply, he still wants to connect with you. And, it is the only way he REALLY knows how. He is currently living in a fog.

Don't be afraid to connect with your husband. What you are in is a separation of your choosing, in order to get something done (and because you think it's what he needs to clear his mind). Knowledge about ADHD, therapy with a doctor who thoroughly understands ADHD and sees couples, and then medication as one of the steps to help him "clear his mind" are your first steps. But to do that together, you need to stay committed and connected as a couple. You will be all the more stronger for doing so.

I gave it a try...

So yesterday after getting my schoolwork, and while he went out fishing with his friends, I got us dinner. He came home, and it was pleasant. The next thing you know... we connected physically if you get my drift. It was a nice reconnection. However, not 15 minutes after, he left to go to a party he was late, that I guess I wasn't invited to since I didn't get invited. SO I went back to doing homework. Fast forward 6 and half hours, he comes home at 3:30 am. He said he went out, was the DD and then got breakfast with one of his guy friends. Needless to saying being woke up that late when he got home made very unhappy. He couldn't understand why I was upset. If he he was staying at friends or family members house, he would of respected them in coming home so late, and would of text or called to let them know he would be in late. His reasoning for doing whatever he wanted, was that "he is a grown man". He continues to say he doesn't want to comfortable and look back and regret not enjoying his life, yet he clings to the 2 single guys friends he has because his other guy friends are married or in stable relationships starting families and "settling down". I'm frustrated behind words right now because I feel so disrespected. Before he has a game in sports career, a few weeks leading up to the game, I have been super supportive in getting special foods and drinks for his diet, and keeping calm so he can mentally prepare for his game. For this first time, I have need support in my going back to school and especially now with my finals, and have told him that these finals are "game" and that I need to be mentally prepared. He has shown very little support at all, other than a text saying "I hope you rock your final". I'm just so lost right now, and so hurt.  

I AM the ADHD spouse.

I am the ADHD spouse and am having a VERY HARD TIME convincing my husband (NO ADHD) to seek counseling to try for US, not me. I tend to use my words incorrectly to where they sound attacking. I am TRYING to think about what I say befor I say it. I have learned ALOT in the last week (my husband said he was done and he can't take it anymore-I have a PLEASE HELP post I did earlier this evening). I don't know how to convince him that I LOVE HIM AND NEED HIM. I think he has been so angry for so long, he can't HEAR me. Does that make sense?  I just wish he would tell me what he needs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.