I'm not sure where to begin without writing a novel. I'll keep it as short as I can, but this is a doozy. I've been reading 'The ADHD Effect on Marriage', and this led me to come here.
This is my second marriage. I had a very brief marriage in my 20s with no children resulting. That partner had OCPD, and was meticulously organized. Too much so, in fact. And very controlling. So it's no surprise that I chose a second husband who was the opposite -- spontaneous, outgoing, and utterly disorganized. My now-husband of 13 years (living together for 14) was diagnosed with ADHD plus anxiety and depression several years before I met him, and confessed to me that he had had a *past* porn and phone sex line addiction. His is a Jekyll/Hyde personality. I fell in love with him because he was 'nice' and 'kind', and seemed to love children. He came across as a brilliant, funny, sweet, and kind man who was interested in many of the same topics I was. We had long conversations about everything, and our sex life was pretty good while we were dating. He convinced me that the sex addiction was in the past.
His mother was controlling and difficult, and insulted and criticized me when we visited her home and my now-husband stepped out of the room. She has a history of histrionics, and of being controlling and critical. And I'm not the first woman in my husband's life who had serious problems with her. She's part of the backstory and stress. His sister is very cold, and my husband has said she's been verbally abusive to him. But he continues to reach out to her. Her husband was jailed for assaulting his mother and brother, and is a very disturbed man who doesn't work due to mental health issues. He also threw my husband's mother against a wall and called her "a Hungarian whore" a few years ago. I'm afraid of having my daughter around my sister in law's husband because I don't trust that he will not explode at her or harm her at some point one day. They are also part of the backstory.
My family treats my husband with respect, even when they know he has problems. I'm not comfortable with or able to relate to a family as dysfunctional and hostile as my husband's. But I was polite to them for over 13 years.
Nearly a year after we began dating, just after he proposed to me, he was fired from his job. We moved in together anyway, and the problems began immediately. I saw his mood swings, which were extremely severe. He'd lie in bed all day and do nothing. He would spend days on end not applying for work, and when I asked him to focus on finding work, he'd yell at me. One day, shortly before we got married, he was angry with me, yelled furiously, threw packages of frozen meat down on the kitchen floor, and stormed off. I remember that my heart was racing, I cried for a while, and I wondered if I should break the engagement. In the end, my love for him overcame my concerns, and I married him.
The past 14 years have seen frequent cycles of his severe mood swings that often seem to have no relation to any particular trigger, though seasonal triggers such as traumas related to his mother's Holocaust experiences affect his mood, as does the winter (SAD). He also has cycles of yelling (which he claims is not actually yelling, just raising his voice in anger; I'm not sure what the difference is, but he says I'm too sensitive to his raised voice and that I'm the one misinterpreting) at me and at our 9 year old daughter. He is rude and belligerent toward me, but then often blames his behaviour on me. Truth be told, I *have* become upset and angry, especially now that we're in a situation where he's depressed and unable to work, and has drained my significant retirement savings fund during his many bouts of unemployment. When I remind him of this, he tells me that he never asked me to use my retirement fund. (Yes, but what was the alternative? Starvation?) We've gone from earning over $100k a year together to living under the poverty line in just a few years. I'm afraid of being homeless. I'm a professional with a PhD, but haven't yet found full-time work after graduating last fall. This is not an easy situation to be in. (Understatement alert!)
He has lost many jobs due to his ADHD symptoms, but just as important I think are the anxiety and depression. He doesn't realize how he comes across to others.
He has never hit us, though he has thrown things down on the floor and stormed off when angry, as per that first frozen meat incident. He has no patience, and it takes almost nothing to set him off. He is particularly triggered by his family of origin, and responds to me reactively as if I'm his mother or his sister, criticizing him, as they did throughout his youth. I'm expected to be a saint, and not be upset. He is very self-absorbed -- so much so that even when he seems to know that he has started a fight due to his symptoms, he simply blames it on his meds. E.g. "I'm underdosed/missed my dose/had no money to buy my dose. Don't you understand?? Just leave me ALONE!" Last year, he lost his meds during a household move, and had a full-scale episode of yelling at me and at our daughter. My daughter told me that she was afraid. I nearly left him then and there. Yet I stayed. He blames it on the medication withdrawal, and thinks I should forget it. After one angry explosion, he texted me that he was sorry for being such a jerk (His words). Unfortunately, I've come to see that the 'nice' guy I married has a very strong tendency to be exactly that.
Last February, he cheated on me online for what he claims was the first time. I was sleeping soundly at about 3 am, and he awakened me to tell me that he'd just cheated, and that he was so sorry, and would never do it again. And that the woman had turned out to be a scammer who had threatened to tell everyone on his friends list. He claimed that it had only lasted a few minutes, and that it hadn't progressed to taking off his clothes. But I had a sense that he was lying. So I logged into his e-mail and Facebook accounts on my laptop. (I had never done this before because I had previously trusted this man with my life. I KNEW he would never cheat on me. It never occurred to me that he was that type of man.)
When I read the chatlog, I almost vomited. The interaction had taken place over a few hours, not a few minutes. He was trying very hard to arrange technical access with her over Facebook, and then it moved to video chat. The female scammer had offered to show him parts of her body, and he replied "Oh, you don't have to do anything special for me. . ." He commented on how beautiful her body was. Then they went to chat, and apparently, what happened then is that he did indeed undress and begin to masturbate as she put on a show for him. She then took a photo and tried to extort money from him. The oldest trick in the book. He had lied to me.
I should mention that at this point, we hadn't had sex in 3 years. I've gained a lot of weight during the marriage, so I've blamed myself. But the unremitting stress of this marriage plus undiagnosed hypothyroidism have both contributed. He wouldn't touch me, but was masturbating for a stranger. I would never have thought it of him, but had this woman not proven to be a scammer, I'm certain that he would never have told me about the incident. He woke me up in the middle of the night to reveal this to me and break my heart (and immediately lead to my plans to leave him, that are still in mind) because he thought she would contact me first.
I then made the mistake -- still in tears and having no idea what to do -- of reaching out to his family. I was in a terrible state when he revealed this to me, and I was reaching out to everyone in my family and in his to gain support. Their response was to pretend to be supportive, but to then e-mail my husband to suggest that I was the cause of his mental illness and cheating, and that they'd like to invite him over to talk to him about that. My husband didn't confront them about this; he still has not done so. He has not defended me against his family's verbal abuse of me over the years because he doesn't like to make waves, and as he puts it, they're "his family". So after I learned that they were blaming me for his cheating, finally, after 13 years of smiling at them, I e-mailed the relatives to tell them that what they had done was hurtful. They responded by denying they had done anything wrong, telling me that I was the problem, and cutting me off and excluding me from invitations. Any invitations they send are specifically addressed to my husband and daughter, as if I don't exist. My husband has never confronted them about this inappropriate exclusion. In fact, my husband thinks that my hurt and anger at his family is the core problem. (I'd been almost super-nice to them for 13 years by that point, and tolerated more than anyone should.)
I made plans to separate from him, and was ready to implement when he promised to adhere to certain conditions that might restore my trust. He admitted to being a sex and porn addict, so he promised to attend weekly sex addict meetings. He went a few times, but then found them inconvenient, so he stopped. He also agreed not to use the internet downstairs alone late at night. He adhered for a few weeks, but then slipped into old patterns again. I have no idea if this includes more online dalliances, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The point is that he didn't adhere to this basic promise. Finally, he agreed to allow me to access his e-mail and Facebook any time, so I felt comfortable. Once again, he allowed it for a few weeks, then changed his passwords. I've reminded him of his promises, and asked for the passwords many times over the past year and a half, and he claims he'll give them to me, but he never has. So really, he hasn't taken responsibility for mending what he did and giving our marriage a chance of some kind. I sometimes wonder if he's doing all this at some level to end up divorced and sad. He's comfortable when he's depressed and anxious, oddly. Rather, it's his comfort zone even though it's awful for him. It wouldn't take much for him to show that he's willing to do his part. But he's just not doing it. Self-sabotage? I wish I knew.
I let his shirking of his promises go for a while, because I'm so numb due to this marriage that I have to choose my battles. But because he didn't keep his promises, he's never done what it took to regain my trust. I've continued to do all the usual domestic things a wife and mother does for the family to maintain a sense of normalcy, to apply to jobs to try to turn things around financially, and am launching a business to make a living to support the family (he's on disability now after being fired again, this time after only 2 months on the job, back in December). I try to keep as calm as I can even though I'm lonely, sad, and angry at being betrayed, and at his unwillingness to confront his family about blaming me for his ills, and for specifically excluding me from all family invitations.
Over the past 8 months, since my husband was fired, his up and down moods have been intolerable. He's either yelling or lying on the sofa or in bed. And I've now also become sad and irritable, and am crying a fair bit in recent days due to his ups and downs of mood, but I'm trapped as I have no money to leave, and I'm afraid of his dysfunctional family. His sister is a lawyer, and I'm in a vulnerable position having lost all my money due to this man's job losses. I've never felt this low in my life. I basically cope during the day because I know I have to be strong for our daughter. And also, I keep hoping for a miracle that I know won't ever come. I don't want to be divorced a second time, and with a young child to take care of. But I'm absolutely miserable in the marriage. It has hurt too much for too long, even prior to the online cheating.
Whenever my hurt about his cheating last February comes up, he replies by yelling a variation on "I've apologized to you a million times! What more do you want from me???" But again, he hasn't done anything to display love for me, initiate sex, or show that he's changed. He simply hasn't bothered, and this makes me feel unlovable.
Yesterday, after a year and a half (and I realize that I may be judged for this), I found my husband's phone (which he frequently misplaces) in the car, and it was unlocked. I took the opportunity, and checked the phone for any conversations with other women. (As I've mentioned, he'd changed his passwords anyway, even though he said I could have access to help to reassure me that I could trust him.) I didn't find any salacious messages, fortunately, though he may have another account I don't know about. But I did find correspondence from his sister again inviting him over with our daughter, and excluding me. And I learned that he was back in touch with a woman who had been a friend of his, but who treated him like a surrogate husband and was jealous of me. He has admitted that he withheld the information about being in contact with her again from me deliberately, as he knew I'd be upset.
On one hand, I was relieved that there were no other women in evidence. On the other, he continues to lie to me, and he has a habit of lying in general when it will get him out of 'trouble' with people. I realize that in the scheme of things, what I found wasn't anywhere near the level of finding out about an affair. But when I told him I'd accessed his phone, he was furious with me, and made that the focus of the argument for the evening. Again, before his infidelity, I never mistrusted him, and *never* accessed his e-mail unless he asked me to. But since then, I have very little trust (and he did initially say I could access his e-mail and Facebook). I do feel it's a good practice to help heal from an affair; I've read about the importance of e-mail and social media transparency in healing from breaches of trust in marriages, but he disagrees. So on one hand, I am interested in others' perspective of this. Was I wrong to access his phone even though he had initially given me access?
On the other hand, I realize this is not the main issue. The primary issue is that this is a dysfunctional marriage, and I'm suffering. (And he's suffering too, and I feel bad or I would not have lasted 14 years, but he's also bringing me down with him.) I can also imagine a scenario where I'm older (I'm in my late 40s; he's in his early 50s) and get sick and he's simply unable to take care of me financially so I feel protected. I never feel safe or protected by him.
Our child is remarkably happy, but she doesn't like it when mommy and daddy argue either. We're seeing a marriage counsellor tomorrow, but I have to admit that if I still had all of my money, or if my business were doing well, I'd want to live in separate places right away just to make the constant arguments stop. I can't be reduced to weeping twice a week any longer. My mental health is important too, and I have to be in a balanced, happy place to be able to earn a living and be there for our daughter.
So I suppose what I'm also asking is -- is there any hope whatsoever here? Can someone like this change enough to make a marriage viable? And how do I handle his family's exclusion of me? It is a serious issue for me. Not that I want to see them -- I just want the courtesy and respect of not being written out of the story as if I'm unworthy.
Final point: He's well-liked and his public persona, especially on Facebook, is that of a nice guy. He's even revealed his mental illness there, garnering much sympathy. I'm worried that if I leave such a 'nice guy', his friends (and he has many) will all assume I was the problem, and he'll likely feed that perception because responsibility is not as easy for him as blame. I just couldn't bear that.
There are new developments, though. A few months ago, I decided that I need to take care of myself and begin a new life. I've lost 40 pounds on a sensible diet, and feel better physically. I still have about 100 to go. I began to tell my husband more about how his behaviour has affected me. Sometimes, this has involved my being emotional and crying. This has only made him yell at me more. He says he can't deal with it. But I need to feel able to tell him how serious this situation is. I suspect that losing weight has been a side effect of taking care of myself for the first time in years. I also believe that he's not really that thrilled that I'm engaging in self care.
Thanks for reading this. It's a soap opera, and I can't believe I'm living in it. Thank you for reading, and in advance for any comments.