New 2 forum, need tips keeping lovin' ADD husband!

Hi all! 

I just stumbled upon this forum a few days ago, and have already been helped by what I've read so far. We have recently discovered that my husband has got ADD and that it explains almost all the hardship we've experienced in our relationship this far. We got married in May this year after a long distance relationship for 1.5 years. The problems were also visible before, but they hit us full force when we moved in together permanently. (Due to different locations, we couldn't 'live together' for more than 2 months during our relationship.) He is 31, I'm 37 years old. There's been drinking and driving and jail for him, car wrecks, loss of jobs, cheating on me before we were married, drug addiction (long time ago,) alcohol addiction (long time ago,) porn addiction (recently,) and the list goes on and on with the challenges we've met so far. Despite that, I love him to bits. 

He's the most caring, fun, intelligent and wonderful person out there. The problem is also that his ADD is really starting to bug me, even after just a few months of dealing with it. We keep fighting about stupid stuff like: he forgot things, or he misinterpreted when/how to do things, needs constant reminding, has these little outbursts that will make him either angry and yell and or cry for no good reason and he has poor impulse control. He is forgetful and distant and fails to understand simple requests sometimes, feels easily overloaded. However, he is good with money, he is loving towards me (i.e not distant,) he is aware of his problems and he is trying to make amends. First step for us is to get him properly diagnosed and see if there are any drugs that can help him, although there is no doubt he's got ADD. The diagnosing can take a few weeks where we live. Second step is to learn how to deal with it so that he gets less frustrated and overwhelmed and I feel less like his mom. That's an important step and that is what I need you guys' help for. What is crucial for us to do, in order to experience less friction in our every day life i.e housework? I've heard that lists can backfire. I was thinking that we could calmly sit together and find tasks that he likes to do and that can be his permanently. He knows I'm expecting more of him now, in the house as I'm working more than full time and he is unemployed, and I've told him that the minute he gets a job, we'll revise the tasks. He is ok with that and loves helping us. He has had 2 simple tasks up until now, and that has worked out fairly well. I do not complete them even if he forgets to sometimes. Should we skip the lists and just stick to the tasks he will know he's responsible for? And I will have to not do them and not nag him, even if he forgets? Or is it ok to give a reminder? I really hate that I'm feeling like I'm his mom, I have understood now that he's trying his best, when I before thought he was being lazy and forgetful. 

How can I reach him when he's closed down because of an emotional outburst? I normally give him a hug and a kiss and tell him I love him and try to resolve, but again, it makes me feel like his mom. Any tips? 

I'm starting to feel worried about having kids next year, as we're planning to. I am worried about ending up with 2-3 individuals in my house with ADD and I'm also worried he might forget to dress them, feed them, change them, take them home from the store etc.etc. Any tips there? He has had dog experience and it went fairly well, with the exception of forgetting to give her water a few times... 

I love my husband so much and I'd really like us to achieve a good balance in our relationship. Helping him is helping us, that's my motto :) I realize he isn't so affected by his ADD as other people I'm reading about here, but it is starting to become a huge problem and I'd like to get the tips I can from you who've been there and try to do the best we can with the experience you've got. (Understanding that we have our unique situation of course, since people are different.) 

Read Melissa's book...

I'd recommend that you read Melissa Orlovs book. It will shed a lot of light on your relationship. You will also benefit from getting an actual diagnosis from a shrink who specializes in ADHD. Some will pretend they do, but will just waste your time. At about 1.5 years is when the excitement of the courtship may wear off. This isn't a sign he doesn't love you, it just means he is off focusing on other things. 

Medication isn't a solution, it is part of a solution. I'd recommend that you find a coach who specializes in ADHD. 

summerwine's picture

HI there. I am a single mom

HI there. I am a single mom with one kid and an niece and nephew all who are special needs. I also work at a special needs daycare. I am a great Mom. I am great with kids. Guess what? I am ADHD! Having ADHD does not make me a bad parent. My ex husband is a lousy Dad. Guess what? he does not have ADHD.

Yes. Yes..! Yes! This we

Yes. Yes..! Yes! This we know is possible and kudos to you for being able to transcend this difficulty of Adhd, compensate for it in a presumably healthy way, and get on with the point of living a healthy and thoughtful life. It is what all we who are struggling with our partners are asking and yes- NoT having adhd is no guarantee that there wont be other problems/issues to face (to put it mildly!)... Thank you for that really VALID point!
summerwine's picture

I was seeing my counselor

I was seeing my counselor once and crying because I had forgotten to pack my kid his snack for kindergarten twice in two months. She was like What the hell? She forgets to make sure her kid has his lunch sometimes too. I don't have to be perfect to be a good Mom. My kids are never in danger and they are happy and they get help for their disabilities. They eat healthy food and never go hungry. Their clothes and toys mostly come from thrifts shops but we are a one income family. My sister in law helps with housework to pay for my babysitting her kids. I get the teen boys next door or their dad to help with stuff like Christmas lights or shovel snow and I cook for them or let them play Xbox as payment. We don't have a lot of stuff and we have a rule: So long as it is clean it doesn't have to be perfectly organized. So my silverware drawer is a pile of forks and spoons in no order but they are clean and they are all in the right drawer! You know my brother who has ADHD is a pretty good Dad too. better than a lot of Dads I meet at the daycare. Being a Mom with ADHD means I have to change some priorities and accept some hard things. Just like being a single Mom. My kid will never go to Disney World and we don't have a lot of fancy things. I will never be the Mom who has her kid in a million activities and I will never send my kid to a bake sale with homemade cookies. But store bought cookies won't kill him. I have parents in my daycare who can't accept that their special needs kid will never play the flute or won't be very good at hockey or whatever. It's sad to see that. My ex husband was like that with me. He couldn't accept that I wouldn't be the wife he wanted I could only be the best wife that I can be. He would not accept a silverware drawer with everything mixed up. Does it really matter that much? We have affirmations painted on the walls of my house one is: Don't sweat the small stuff and the other is: Be proud of what you CAN do. I mess up lots and I'm not perfect but I am a good Mom and I am trying really hard!

Bake sales LOL

Where my grandson goes to school, they aren't allowed to bring homemade treats for the class or sell them at bake sales. They are too afraid someone will get something with an ingredient they are sensitive to like nuts. I think bake sales are on the way out. If I want to get something made by a grocery store, I'll just go to the grocery store.

summerwine's picture

LOL our church does bake

LOL our church does bake sales and lemonade stands and the kids love it  but I don't think the school does them. We don't have any food allergies in this house but the kid's SPD can mean some foods he can't tolerate the texture or flavor of.

In dealing with an ADHD

In dealing with an ADHD spouse, the key trick is always to find that fine line that exists somewhere in between the place where you're berating and shaming and the place where you're bottling things up while taking more responsibilities than you should. 

Education about the disorder will be very important for both of you. Once you both properly understand that this IS a disability, how it works in the brain and how it limits him, you will be able to be more constructive in how these things change. 

I'll tell you right now that you are going to experience a lot of disappointment if you think your husband is going to do a good job at keeping to his household responsibilities right away. Being unemployed and without externally-imposed schedule and structure is murder for productivity in an ADD person. We have so little ability to self-start and to be aware of the passage of time, that even if we are given a very manageable list of tasks to accomplish in a day, we'll most likely spend the time fighting the urge to sit on the internet forever or some such. 

There are lots of coping mechanisms we can use, but it takes time to master them. It can be very useful to have someone helping us, but as you've already found out, it's terrible to feel controlled and parented by a spouse. One thing that I found helpful with my husband was *offering* to help in certain ways, but respecting his decisions if he said "no." He needs to be in charge, ultimately. 

And yeah, lists are tricky. Lists work well when I make them for myself, but not when someone else makes them for me. This is because the act of MAKING the list is more important than having the list on hand. Making the list helps organize my brain and prepare it for the work ahead. 

Thanks guys! Today isn't a

Thanks guys!

Today isn't a good day for us. We've been fighting a lot lately and I feel horrible. I feel like I can't rely on him for even the simplest tasks, because he misunderstands, misinterprets and guesses wrong and it makes me so frustrated. Today, the simplest thing was communicated 3 times before I left and when I got back the stuff he was going to move, was moved to the wrong place and the wrong floor even... How's he going to get a job or take care of children if I am gone for a day or two? I feel completely suffocated and like I'm a nag to him. It doesn't help how many times we try to go over things before he's going to execute on his own. It's almost always wrong. On a weekly basis he breaks things, loses things or damages things because of negligence. I'm not sure how I can cope with this in the long run. Ok, so there's a reason why he's behaving like he does, but how does that help me? Explaining the why, doesn't really help I think. We're painfully aware of his limitations in our everyday living.

Tomorrow he has 2 job-interviews to prepare for and I need to help him feel better or else he's going to do badly on the interview. The household chores are going better than expected, but he volunteered to do the things that he thought he could remember and kind of likes to do, so I'm hoping it's going to stay this way. Sorry for the venting here, am just extremely frustrated today!


I apologize if I offended someone with my question whether he'd be a good dad or not. Of course that's not all about the ADD. I'm just worried that he might forget to do the really important stuff if I'm away. 

Please do not put the

Please do not put the responsibility of his mood or how well he does in his interview on your shoulders.  If he does get the job.... is that your doing as well?  No.  As for the list... I can tell you that I have made dozens and dozens of lists for my DH in the 4 1/2 years we've been together and it's all hit or miss.  I've learned that I can make him a hundred short, easy to read and understand lists.... but if he's not going to do it, he's not going to do it.  And I can't get him to understand why it's important for him to make his own lists.

I'd like to suggest another book to you.  Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie.  Feeling responsible for his moods is codependent thinking and it's something I'm REAL good at.  But I'm learning it's not my responsibility and I don't have to take on the guilt and blame.  Keep letting him volunteer for the things he knows he's good at and remember to show your appreciation.  Positive feedback feels good and it's encouraging and it will take him a long way (hopefully).

As for the topic of children.... my DH is not a ''bad parent''.  He is a very loving father and he works very very hard for his family (that's what's good about work being his hyperfocus).  I'm a stay at home mom, so a lot of the responsibilities of the children I accept.  I know that if I don't bathe the kids, they don't get bathed.  I know that if I don't brush their teeth, their teeth don't get brushed.  I have an almost 5 year old (from a previous relationship) and a 3 1/2 year old (ours) and in the end, I could be resentful that I almost ALWAYS have to bathe, teach, show, explain, deal.  But I choose to focus on the important.  The kids know their ABC's, counting, dressing themselves, manners, age appropriate behaviors... it doesn't matter who taught them what.  It's more important that they know.  We've had a few situations regarding safety, last winter we had an ice and snow storm that were not typical of our area and DH made (in my opinion) a very dangerous call.  I was furious,.... no, BEYOND FURIOUS that the safety of our children was compromised like it was.  But since it had already been done, my decision was that I wouldn't allow him to take the children anywhere by himself if there was snow or ice on the ground.

I hope that your DH does well in his interviews today.  (((Hugs)))

Time for a seminar

Sounds as if you are going in the wrong direction.  Not for purposes of self promotion, but because I think this could work as a sort of intervention for the two of you, I would suggest you think about my book and/or taking the couples seminar that starts in January.  The link is on the home page. 

As for tasks around the house - I suggest you consider using the recipe box COORDINATION system I have in the back of my book (see section on the Chore Wars, as you seem headed into these).  The difference between your parenting your husband and not is the difference between the two of you coordinating what each of you will do and your taking charge of it all in a "reminder-person" nagging role.  You don't want to get there!  So the recipe box system lets you both sit down, figure out what the top priorities are for the week, talk about the details, make some notes (might be important), say "no" to things you don't want to do, etc.

The ADHD is the reason many things are problematic right now, but it's important to also understand the role that your responses play in his ADHD.  So as the two of you approach making things better, you'll want to be thinking along the lines of BETTER treatment for ADHD than what he has (there are three legs to this - again, see my book) and also better RESPONSES to ADHD.  The latter, from you, does NOT mean hiding what you are feeling.  Rather, it means creating an environment in which your needs can get met and he won't feel under attack for his ADHD issues.  From the sound of it, this doesn't seem to be the direction in which you are currently heading, hence my suggestion about the seminar.

If you have specific questions for me, post them in this thread as I'm going to keep an eye on it for responding to you.


I have been seeing a non diagnosed ADDer for 9 months and I am deranged! I tell you what, the categories on here are like a diary of my life. I have just joined as I think this site really makes me feel like I am not alone,at the moment I am apart from my wonderful gorgeous loving darling of a man, he wound me up, I flipped And he's been funny with me ever since. Today I let go of my anger and my pride and apologised for my part in the circumstances. I know I have to leave him to think about it, it's been making me crazy thinking I dont like the personI occasionally become when I lash out - as I see it as mirroring him... I don't know how to even get him to do anything about any of it. I thank god this resource is here so I can work out how not to lose the best friend I have ever found.