new to the forum and gobsmacked

Hi, I am a new poster, but have been lurking for days.  My husband does not have a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, but I have realized that there is something desperately wrong with him for a long time.  We have been married for 12 years, and the "honeymoon" ended when our first child was born- seems like literally when she took her first breath, I fell into the well of loneliness.    I thought for a while that my husband had a passive-agressive personality disorder (of course, since he would never admit there is anything abnormal or wrong with him, I am forced to try to "diagnose" him with info gained from personal research).  I came across this site, and I felt like all of the women here must've been married to my husband at some point.  He doesn't cheat, drink, gamble, hit me,  etc. and he keeps a job;  the problem is living with him is like living with a ghost (an ANGRY ghost).  As long as I keep my mouth shut and do all of the household chores, child-rearing (read "scut work") everything is fine- to him.  But if I express any desires, needs, wishes of my own, the anger comes full force.  

My real problem is that I hate him.  I wasn't raised to be a stand by your man type of girl.  I didn't grow up in a family of a**h*** men;  the men in my family are strong and gentle, responsible and dutiful to their families and wives.  I am not able to respect my husband, and I spend an inordinate amount of time wishing him into the cornfield a la' Twilight Zone.  I hate him because he is costing me myself.  I used to be witty, calm, just flat-out cool.   My husband's behavior has turned me into a nagging, hateful, mistrustful, irritable and vengeful individual.  I am angry that getting him to remember/agree/do the simplest, smallest task requires so much energy on my part;  I am tired of being a single parent (except when he decides to help me parent, and then he is so crappy and capricious about it that I'm all "It's cool.  I got this". )

We have 3 kids, one disabled- and I also work outside the home.  I am overwhelmed with cleaning up the messes of a grown man, who then only hates me for cleaning them up.   I am so tired of his passive-aggressive ways!   I am starting to sink into behaviors that I never thought I would ever do, because my anger is seeping out of me like a poison gas.  Lately, my favorite trick has been to wait until the pancake or sandwich he is (inattentively) making for himself is just about to burn, then suggest that he should turn it.  I sneak off and laugh to myself as he burns his meal due to his need to show me that I can't tell him what to do.  I do realize how pathetic this is.  

What is frightening to me is the thought of growing old with this person.  It is the abyss that I cannot look directly into.  I know that I can't stay married to him for the rest of my life because the stress would/is killing me.  But my youngest is only 4.  My dream right now?  I fantasize that I meet a decent man who is a decent boyfriend, and he fulfills that part of me that needs laughter, empathy, sharing, cooperation, pampering, acceptance, etc.  I fantasize that I could share that part of myself with someone other than my husband, while still giving my husband the shut up and chores that he requires.  I don't think my husband would even notice if I had a boyfriend, as long as I didn't bother him with what he calls my "endless needs".  Which- by the way, I am not a needy individual.  I actually appreciate a good amount of solitude and have never been one to begrudge my husband going out with friends, or having hobbies or whatever.  I have my own friends and hobbies, that if given the time, would keep me plenty busy.  Does that give you any indication of how awful my marriage is?  That I think having an affair could only make it better and more tolerable for us?  I haven't done so, because I don't want to make my kid's lives implode- not because I feel any allegiance to my spouse.   It is hard to feel allegiance and sympathy toward someone who seems to hate you and treat you like their personal pooper-scooper.  That's all.  Thanks for letting me vent.







To Revelation

I am truly sorry to hear your obvious pain,anger and frustration with the way your marriage has turned out.  I too am quite new to the forum and have had a venting session not unlike yours as my first - but I must admit it really felt good to be able to write about it to people who had similar experiences and could empathize completely with me.

I have been with my adhd partner now for 32 years, but I only realised in last few months that he was adhd.  I had reached a point where I could no longer live with his behaviours, much like your partner, raised 3 children single handedly, did all housework, cleaning up after him and putting up with an emotional blackhole for my existence, and everything that went wrong with his life was always my fault, and not to mention his nearly sending us broke many times.  I was very angry and had trouble even communicating with my partner on any level, my frustrations and anger had built up to a point of exploding many times and I did.    He was happy for me to do everything, didnt see anything wrong with it, as long as he could continue with his latest hobby and I and family didnt impede on his time.

I too liked my solitude, however now realise that it was the peace I had when he was not in the home, I could function better when he was not home,so I came to look forward to him being away all the time both emotionally and  physically not involved with his own family.

However, now that all children are grown up and left the house, I had dreams of him changing spending more time together with him and going places together has we grew older.  I still know that although I threatened to leave him unless he sought help with an official diagnosis and tried to understand ADHD and how it had affected our relationship, I really didnt want to leave him deep down.  I just couldn't cope any more. I had to start looking after myself and my life.

He has now had one visit with a Psychiatrist, and at times I can see he is honestly trying to change his ingrained behaviours, and for that I am eternally grateful and happy and I have shown him that.  Although he is not on medication yet, since we had a talk about ADHD (I had done many hours of research, read books etc) and asked him whether he thought that some of his behaviours could be considered the "norm' or usual for people like himself.  I pointed out some of the things that had nearly sent me over the edge over our years of marriage - and he admitted that other men he knew were nothing like that, or did would do anything like he did (and get away with it).  So our talk together, although sometimes I was very emotional, did send a clear message and I think he has had some "lightbulb" moments that may have even answered some of his questions. Even some of his friends have pointed out to him, his treatment of me and his children - although he has always just shrugged those comments off.

So what I am saying that for me this worked -- that trying to sit down and talk with your partner about things might be a good start - see how he reacts or if he makes some admissions that he might be partly to blame for the way things are between you.  If that happens its the start and maybe you could work through your problems and he may see a Doctor.

But it is a long process, and you will probably get some flack, as I did, saying I was crazy, but eventually he has started to come around slowly, sometimes 2 steps forward and 1 back, or just 2 steps back - but I live with hope and try to be positive always - and I know he is trying as I am too trying to give positive feedback and be grateful for his efforts.

Good Luck with your journey



fuzzylogic72's picture


Your honesty and courage are inspiring. Your determination is admirable, and shows what love really is. I have faith he will return the effort.

Thank you fuzzylogic

Thanks for your positive comments...I  enjoy reading about the add side of things..puts things into perspective for I know my partner has great difficulty communicating to me his feelings and emotions...but I know from his actions now that he is really trying...he's never been a talker and I know thats not going to change....but I do feel like I'm in a better place than I was 3 months ago...this forum has helped me enormously....  thanks again

the payoff?

Even if he were to come around years from now, I am not sure if the payoff of another 20 plus years of marriage to someone like this is worth it.   Committing to living with someone who doesn't notice you unless they are mad at you strikes me as an incredibly masochistic choice of lifestyle, and a huge price to pay for "picking" the wrong man.  I only married him once, but he is killing me a little everyday.  OK- what if he gets treatment?  Then he might work on it and notice me a little bit more?  I may still have to ask him to initiate things, but he might do them without a fight?

My birthday is coming up in a few days- I think there is something about turning 45, last chance to change and all.   I was never one to make over much of a birthday.   Now I hate my birthday.  I've had too many years of husband playing "I won't say 'happy birthday' or give her a card/gift or acknowledge the birthday in any way, all day".  He liked to set me up this way, he would hold out as long as he could, so that by the evening, when I would confront him on forgetting my birthday he could whip out a card or gift triumphantly and trumpet, "I did NOT forget!" Of course, he could only play this for 4 or 5 years, the variation being how long it would take for me to confront him that day (or sometimes, night).  I now totally ignore my birthday, anniversary, any special occasion that the kids don't figure prominently in.  I make plans with a friend, whatever.  Now he's angry.  I disarm him.  In fact, that has been my most useful response to his behavior.   I just take the "knife" from his hand.   Late for dinner out?  I pack up the kids and leave without you.  Drive like a maniac?  Now I won't get in the car with him driving (I keep the kids out, too).  Don't want to say good morning/night?   I will show you what silence REALLY looks like.  Don't want to help clean up and prepare lunch for your visiting sister?  Now I called her and CANCELLED lunch.  Ignore my special occasions?  Now I celebrate them with others, all the while telling you, "Its not really important- you don't need to be there."    A marriage like this strains the definition of marriage beyond its breaking point and cannot last, even if I wanted it to.  Why do I stay married at this point?  I am well aware  that once you divorce- if kids are involved you lose TOTAL control of the situation.  I could pass many sleepless nights worrying about the care my kids would receive from my husband without my supervision.  Even when I leave town for a couple of days, I make sure my parents (who live around the corner) drop by everyday to check on my house and kids.  Ludicrous!  Doors left open/unlocked all night; kids momentarily forgotten in cars in the driveway; power tools left plugged in with the safety off, left on the floor with a toddler about.  Toddler spending time with Daddy on the deck, allowed to wander off (I live on the edge of 250 acres of woodland) with coyotes, for heaven's sake).  I can't go anywhere yet!

try talking to him?

I tried to so much, for so long.  I am a good communicator.  Used the "I" statements, stayed calm, avoided accusing, keep encouraging/rewarding responsible/caring behavior etc.  But our talks only end in the same ways, with the same statements from him: (1) "You are always b**ching.  I have done nothing wrong"  (2) "I am such a terrible person and I feel bad about myself"  (3) "I never said that..." (4) "You never told me that"  (5) "But its different when I do it" (6)" You take everything the wrong way"  (7) "I forgot"  (8)" I didn't think you were serious " (9)" I didn't know you meant 'now' "(10) "But I thought___ (fill in with the ridiculous/illogical/unlikely phrase of your choice)"  I could go on- but you all already know what I hear everyday.  If talking about it made it better, this forum would not exist.  I am not a dreamer- I never expected marriage to be easy, or for my husband to read my mind or meet all of my needs (I am very self-sufficient.  I can support myself financially, and amuse myself for hours on end with my hobbies;  I have close friends and am close to my family). I expected to have disagreements in marriage, anger at times, times when we feel close, times when we feel very separate but are able to come together again at some point.  But I thought that ultimately a "team" pulls together and gets the job done.  I never expected there to be no "team".  Just me- digging my own early, stress-related grave...  After so many years, it is hard to try talking to someone who you view as the enemy of your good health, mental well-being and  emotional well-being of your children.  

We have all been

We have all been "there"...where there is no reaching them, no opening those gates or tearing down those walls and getting them to admit fault. I also refused to accept my role in the problems of our marriage for many years we were hitting a brick wall for a very long time. A spouse in denial is a very difficult hurdle to overcome. Yes, we get angry because we get frustrated because we cannot figure out where the prince charming we married went to...and when we ask this ex-prince what happened they act like we're nuts. You going to him feeling anything but 'happy' or 'content' when things are just fine and dandy for him IS something they take extremely personally because they simply do not know how to process and deal with such complex issues..or don't want to..until circumstance forces them to.  

What you need to do is start working on YOU. I pretty much was where you are. I hated him. I hated that he would look me in the eyes, tell me he loved me more than anything and couldn't live without me, and then could lay out all night drinking..or VERY unfairly take my step-daughter's side on an issue when he KNEW she was lying/wrong. I WAS the enemy, in his mind. Anyway, long story short (you can read it in length in other posts), I decided I was done being angry and it would be with or without him. I made it clear I wanted it to be WITH him, but that was up to him. I stopped arguing with him. I insisted on counseling. I stopped giving him what he being his doormat...and insisted he either plug into the marriage and his family or he get out. He decided to plug in and our marriage has flourished into something better than I ever could have imagined in my wildest dreams. He was somewhat inattentive for the first few years of our marriage and then he became way more attentive, but he started behaving in ways that were very hurtful. (drinking, lying, cheating, spending money we didn't have, etc) Things escalated so far out of control we hit bottom last fall. I decided enough was enough and by God he would either get this or he would get out. I was done. I thank the Lord he decided to join me.

I hope it helps, if nothing else, to just vent and get it all out.


my "role"

I think it is difficult to accept that you have a "role" when you are doing more than your share.   We didn't start off neglectful and angry.  I didn't ask for the "role" of nagging wife.  I hate having to say things multiple times.  I don't have this "role" with anyone else in my life; he is the author of this crappy marriage script.  I do my share financially and more than my share in the home.  I establish boundaries that he punishes me for having.  At times I feel sorry for him, because I know that his fate is to be old and alone (unless he is able to sucker someone else into this crappy deal).  Of course, since he is almost fifty, if he marries someone his own age, perhaps there will be less pressure on their marriage because they can just retire and travel around in an RV (I hope she doesn't expect him to remember to fill up the tank!).  Yes, it does help to vent.  Also, I was not connecting to how depressed and fatigued I really am until I started reading the comments on this forum.  One individual in particular spoke about having a friend's husband just fix something broken when it happened during her move to a new place, and how she had forgotten that people like that existed.  That comment has drifted around in my head for several days now, alternately making me want to scream or weep.  I have thought about how I rarely go out with my friends and their husbands because seeing their happy marriages makes my thoughts turn to my own marriage, which I can rarely look full in the face without getting chest pain.   For three days now I have stared into the face of my depression, and I can't move.  I didn't even go to work for two days this week.  Perhaps I am not ready to look at this yet- because it is paralyzing me.  Soon we will need to change the title of this thread to "Revelation's Lament" LOL.  I appreciate your supportive comments (supportive of me, that is- I am not ready to read any comments supporting that b**tard, yet) Ha ha!  

Try and see your anger as

Try and see your anger as something you're done feeling. I understand that chances are for you that his ADD behaviors came first, the anger later...that is the case most of the time..but the fact remains that the anger is a CHOICE. The anger we react with is MUCH MORE DAMAGING to our lives than the actual behavior that pisses us off, it is such a horrible cycle to get sucked into...but there we are, years later, angry, bitter, and 'stuck'. That's why I'm saying that you need to decide that you're either going to live with or without him but either way you're done being this big blob of anger that is killing you. You are 100% valid in being angry and hurt and disappointed at his behavior..but somewhere along the way you let it overcome and overwhelm you (just like the rest of us). Just decide if he wants to stand and tantrum and be an a$$hole, that you're just going to walk off and feel sorry for him, be a little angry, but not let him drag you in. I, too, feel sorry for him...because he is destroying his life and the lives of his children...and his marriage...and isn't willing to see it.

If you truly aren't willing to give him an ultimatum, for fear of sharing custody with him, then you honestly have no choice but to just accept things the way they are (IF he refuses to get help, admit how his ADD is affecting the lives of everyone around him, take responsibility for what he's doing to you and your marriage) and let go of the anger. I truly hope you can somehow get through to him without causing more stress for everyone.


the anger blob

Thanks sherriW13 for your response.  I know (intellectually) that you are right.  I just have to get there emotionally.  I do wish that I could find more understanding in my heart for him.  But its coming down to him or me.  In many ways, I think it is a no brainer.  He doesn't seem to feel or want anything, so it doesn't seem as if I could really hurt him anyway, no matter what I did.   If I left him, at least one of us would probably be happy and have some peace.  Its like being angry at a block of wood.  The wood doesn't know, doesn't care and cannot be other than a block of wood, even if I desperately want it to be otherwise.  I have a funny question, though:  why is it that he gets angry about behavior that he sees in me that mirrors his own, but cannot recognize it when he does it?  For example, he will often not stop walking away from me when I am talking to him (not arguing, just talking about day to day stuff) as if he is in a hurry.  I hate this behavior and find it so offensive.  I walked away from him while he was talking to me a few days ago and he exploded, telling me I was the rudest person he had ever met.  I pointed out to him that he frequently does this to me and had in fact just done so the other day and he said, "But I had to get my keys and go pick up the kids"  (silly excuse- the kids were at my mother's house, who lives a 45 second drive away).  Why is he so discerning when it comes to my rudeness, but cannot see his own?

Anger about big things

My husband isn't a tantrum-er or anything like that. He's gentle and mild and gives every appearance of being reasonable.

I'm the angry one. I quite literally could have died from his ADHD entitled attitude, refusing to work and provide me with insurance to cover a serious health problem. For 3 years, I thought every day "I'm going to have another stroke and die (or become a vegetable)." I can't come up with anything I can do that makes that memory go away. I am beginning to feel that the marriage counselor is right-that our marriage is beyond repair.

So how do I, with serious health concerns, or the lady who has to face a winter without a vehicle because of her ADHD husband's negligence, not be angry? How do we banish the hurt and pain from our minds, accept that the consequences of our spouse's ADHD fall on us (and not him),  and go on with the marriage as if that BIG THING hadn't happened? I don't know the answer, I wish I did.

As with everything in life,

As with everything in life, you get so sick of being angry that you just resolve to change. Being angry at what your spouse does is one thing...letting it consume you to the point that you're suffering health problems IS a choice you make. Just as it is easy for us to wonder how they can 'not see' or 'not want to change' their behaviors, we are just as guilty of the same. My husband did NOT change his behaviors...I just got to the point where I was truly done being angry and decided to change..whether he did or not. Let me just add that his behaviors and attitude were HORRIBLE for many weeks after I had this took him quite some time to decide he wanted to be a part of the change and not a part of the problem anymore. My circumstances were extreme (had just lost my father in a horrible way) but I FINALLY realized how sad of a shell I had become. I still got hurt, still got angry...still do sometimes...but who doesn't? I just stopped letting it consume me. It is a 24/7 effort for a very long time. Getting closer to God has helped me more than anything else.

Revelation, I can't understand what it must be like to live with someone who you feel doesn't care at all...but there is a part of me that feels like maybe he does care. He is in need of some serious intervention....before he loses everything. The way I see it, you might be the only chance he has. There have been many times that I felt like my husband didn't care about specific things, but the reality was that he chose to deal with it through denial and 'sweeping it under the rug' because that was much more comfortable for him. I'm just saying that he may care a lot more than you think..because if I have learned one thing it is that the actions of my husband can often not match his words at all...and what he truly feels is not always seen. And, if in the end he truly doesn't care, then why would you want to stay with him anyway?

I hope you both can find the strength to stop letting this condition control your emotions...and lives...and find some peace again. My biggest motivation was my children. My son (who is special needs) NEEDED me to get my $hit together...and my daughter, who was 11 at the time, had seen so much and suffered the raw end of the deal from my anger for far too long. I couldn't look myself in the mirror anymore and looking her in the eyes was mortifying. I was done.

finding peace

Thanks SherriW13 for your kind and supportive words.  I think if I were to boil down my anger, part of it would be due to my husband's behavior.  Part of it is the sadness of knowing that I will not have a somewhat equal partner in life.  I think everyone needs to feel like they have someone to lean on at times.  ADDers can maybe say the words, but they can ring hollow when viewed next to their actions.  I am sad when I think about how my husband's negativity and neglect have managed to poison what should have been good memories.   I can maybe stop being mad, but I don't think I can feel emotionally connected to someone who doesn't seem to be emotionally connected.  I hear what you are saying, that he may care about our lives, but not know how to deal with certain aspects that are uncomfortable and that I should maybe give him the benefit of the doubt.  But intellectually, this seems the equivalent of "Just because he cheats, doesn't mean he is a cheater".  How much sense does that make?  Maybe a potential side effect for some people with ADD is that it makes you an a**hole- for whatever reason (feeling bad about yourself, trying to cover up your lack of confidence, whatever).  But being an a**hole is not a diagnosis (plus, you can't cure it).  How/why would anyone open themselves up to THAT kind of person? Who cares to dither about such subtle nuances like "diagnoses" and "exacerbation of symptoms"? So many women on this forum list TERRIBLE things their husbands have done to them, then say, "but he's really a good person".   What do you have to do to be a bad person? When I look at comments from ladies like Suanne (hope I spelled that right), I think: maybe part of her anger is stemming from the internal conflict of trying to believe that someone gives a crap about you, when they act like they don't give a crap about you.  The mental machinations it takes to believe that is like spinning straw into gold (or believing that you can).  It does not appear that there are too many women with ADD (at least on this forum) who are just flat out a**holes;  why the disparity?   In fact, it seems that when some woman post that they AND their partner have ADD, the WOMAN seems to be the one holding it together for the kids, household, etc. What does this say about how this disorder manifest?  Perhaps my bigger "problem" is that I do not care enough to sort out "bad behavior' from "bad behavior due to distorted reality/disordered thinking."  In the end, what difference does it make?  I'm still screwed.  And I gotta worry about me- we can't BOTH be worrying about him : )

You are exactly right...that

You are exactly right...that is what I'm saying...let him wallow in his a$$holishness...but refuse to join him. The way he acts so aloof, and gets so angry when you express any 'issue/feelings' to him makes me want to kick him in the teeth. Someone or something needs to give this man a reality check. I am angry at him and I'm not even married to him...but my concern is you and your health...and your children. I do not think you can even start to make any progress yourself without giving him a wake up call and giving him a chance to prove what he might actually be feeling. I know I bore the brunt of a LOT of anger when my husband felt at his worst about himself and I wonder if your husband cannot handle any 'complaints' from you because he internalizes it and it makes him feel worse about himself. I mean I feel "tough $hit" for him, it is something he NEEDS to deal with and only you can make him. It does sound like he is in over load mode...and will fight tooth and nail to have to 'add' anything to his "to deal with" list. Often, once these walls are torn down and they are forced to deal with life as they should, the results are quite shocking.

I can only say this...I didn't have this situation in my marriage, but I did have my own personal hell and was a flaming ball of anger for many, many years. I do know where you're coming from, and I know how hard change comes...even for us non-ADDers...I can appreciate how much harder it comes for those with ADD...but I would never excuse no change at all. You're right, regardless of the "Why", it needs to be dealt with. The tools are IS refusal to do so is just a deal breaker in my opinion.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Reality check

SherriW13- I had to take a few hours to think about your post.  In the meantime, I have had a birthday (44th) and an argument with him about Thanksgiving.  The situation is that he, his brother and father set about trying to make plans for family Thanksgiving dinner (none of them-or father's wife- can cook, by the way). My husband asked me if I could make the dinner and then we could take it to his parent's house.  I said no, because (1) the logistics of transporting an entire holiday dinner and 3 kids an hour away was too much to do and (2) the dinner would not be hot when we arrived, and his parent's kitchen is dirty and unhygienic (they are pretty old) and I did not want to try to do food prep under those conditions, nor do I have the time to clean it up beforehand (I work outside the home, also).  Then he said maybe his brother and his wife could host the meal.  I didn't want to do that, either as (1) brother's wife is a terrible cook (2) their house has been "under construction" for 10 plus years (sound familiar), and (3) they have several indoor dogs and cats and I am very allergic (get itchy, tightness in chest, burning/running eyes, feel like a balloon is in my head).  He asked if maybe we could host the meal.  I told him I needed to think about that for a few days;  what I didn't say was that I needed to think about it because when we host meals, its for a very large group (more than the people already mentioned) and he rarely helps much; it can be quite overwhelming to cook and clean for 15+ people, and I do have to go to work the day before).  

I got back to him a couple days later and said OK, we can host Thanksgiving and I will make the dinner.  Then he called his brother and got back to me and told me, "Too late.  My brother's wife said she will cook and my parents are going there, so that's where we have to go".  OK.  I told him I cannot physically tolerate being in a house with that many animals for hours at a time.  He said,"Take some benadryl".  I told him I didn't want to spend the holiday sleepy- he said, "Then take Claritin".  I told him I was planning on making dinner anyway (my mother and I have a couple of people that we usually send holiday meals to) and that maybe it was time for a NEW tradition, having dinner with OUR family.  No- he says, "The TRADITION is to have dinner with my parents."  I pointed out (quite reasonably, I thought) that of his 9 siblings and spouses, we are the ONLY ones who make it to family Thanksgiving dinner EVERY YEAR; the others alternate parents/in-laws dinners.  I said, "Why don't we have dinner together as a family earlier in the day, then you can take the kids to your brother's house and spend the rest of the day with your family (brother only lives 30 min. away)?"  "No.  I am not going to eat 2 dinners;  the TRADITION is to eat dinner with my parents."   I sought clarification- "Are you saying you WON'T have dinner with me here on Thanksgiving, even though I will have it cooked and on table?"   "No. I am having dinner with my family."  I said, "Aren't I also your family?" He kept saying I didn't see his point that is was important to him to have Thanksgiving dinner with his parents.  I was stunned.  Is it not self-evident that I "see" his point, by the fact that we have had 11 out of our 13 Thanksgiving dinners with his family/parents?  I was feeling pretty salty by this point in the conversation.

OK. Where it stands now is that we will have this ridiculous scenario in which I will cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner for me and our kids (ages 4, 11, 12), and I guess he will probably stalk around the house glowering and ignoring me while the rest of the family eats.  I know he will try to prevent me from feeding the kids, (because THE TRADITION is that THEY have Thanksgiving dinner with HIS parents). Also, I am pretty sure his decision to not eat with me beforehand was a move to punish me (he is big on punishing me) by trying to make sure I have to eat alone.  But I plan to serve up my family dinner anyway.  Am I angry?  Strangely, no.  What I feel is sorry for my kids- how strange this will look to them- , and a weird lightness of being, because I now realize I cannot be responsible for his behavior and decisions.  You're right- I can choose to not react, to not be angry.  I have decided to not react (in the past, I would have been pissed, but doped myself up and gone to dinner anyway, seething and resentful).  Now, I am making plans to go visit numerous friends who know of the situation and have asked me to stop by on the holiday, once husband and kids are gone.  I am thinking that the NEW TRADITION that he is helping to create with his obstinancy and obstructionism will not be to his liking...but very much to mine : ). 


Your responses always make me

Your responses always make me chuckle a little..I love your way with words.

We used to always split the holidays between my family and his...and although I dislike the majority of his family, I always went because the thoughts of spending the holidays without him was unbearable.  I think it is your husband's approach that is killing your desire to spend the day with if he is demanding you to things the way HE planned them..without any regard for your wishes. I can understand why you are finally starting to feel the need to set boundaries for yourself. I am extremely inspired by your show of strength and by your peace with your decision. This is huge.

Thanksgiving dinner, continued

So, I didn't force the issue.  I dropped the subject until today.  This afternoon I asked him (demurely, lashes lowered), what time he planned to leave for dinner, as I wanted to plan for what time to eat and feed the kids because I have several fun invitations for that afternoon and I need to get back to ALL THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE and tell them what time to expect me.  I watched as the caboose of his negative train of thought slammed into his non-moving engine.  Suddenly, he is ready to negotiate (him: "Maybe we can have dinner together, and you can drive separately and just "stop in" for a bit to say hello to my family?"  GOTCHA!  This "not getting angry" thing just may work out for me...

Do we have the same man or brothers?

I know they are not brothers from mother and father, but maybe from ADHD. My does the same thing in many ways ie.....says my nephew does not respect me, that I'm to good to him...that my ex husband was crazy for not getting help for his Alcoholism and losing me how bright is that light bulb? No pun indented just so hurt.

My husband was the same for

My husband was the same for many years. I have a nephew that is like a son to me...and my nephew DOES act immature and disrespectful (not on any major level...just selfish like most kids his age) but he is 21!! My husband would do things very similiar to him but never could see himself in the mirror when he'd talk about my nephew's actions. It was very frustrating...and what was the worst is that he was (is still somewhat) jealous when I spend time with my nephew. He has accused me thousands of times of putting my nephew before my marriage...when I lived 6 years of my life feeling like the other woman when it came to him and my step-daughter...but he never saw it. He does now, and for that I'm thankful.


Sometimes (and I realize how ridiculous this is), it helps for me to imagine that he is a different life form from another planet, confused about  our "strange" earthling ways...I find that I am more patient when I say (to myself): "Where 'Alf' is from, there is no talking; only warfare.  It is up to me to introduce the concept of "communication".  "Alf's" planet operates as a zero sum game;  I will need to patiently- and often- explain and demonstrate the concept and benefits of "win/win."  I can sometimes address some of the less serious issues with better humor this way, instead of letting them spiral into out of control arguments.  But when I am very tired and frustrated, it is more difficult to do this.

ebb and flow's picture


Your posts are about 90% my life! The only major differences being that you are married and have kids with your partner.

I totally feel your pain, frustration, rage, loneliness, desires, etc, etc, etc. 

I can only tell you that if your partner has ADHD, and it pretty much sounds like he does, his nasty and indifferent ways are totally symptoms of his disorder-- I know this because it is the common trend on this board. :)

It could totally be possible that your partner has no idea why you are so upset with him and even if you've explained it a billion times he may feel very stuck in that he doesn't know how to fix it!

I know this may not make any sense to you, or any of us non-ADDers for that matter, but think of it as you would a mentally ill person who is unable to acknowledge that they are ill and need medicine. As a matter of fact, they will even state that the doctors are crazy for even diagnosing them as insane!!! The same sort of thing may be happening with your partner--even on the chemical level. ADDers have a very hard time with self awareness and getting an overall picture of the situation or even the gist of something being said. It seems, on the outside, as malevolent behaviour but on the inside they are completely unaware! Then, after letting them know over and over again how disappointed you are in them and that their behaviour hurts you, they may start to hear the message, but because they don't understand how they can unintentionally be hurting you they are totally in the dark about how to fix it! 

Unfortunately whatever you decide to do, whether it be to wait for him to come around and get diagnosis and proper treatment or leave, you must learn how to skillfully live with him for now. First off, taking your life back, is a must! The majority of us started out as calm, caring, peaceful individuals (for the most part) and gradually turned as a reaction to our ADD partners untreated symptoms... But I agree with Sherri about working on your anger and other 'not so healthy' thoughts and reactions to his symptoms. That is the one thing YOU CAN CONTROL! You can control how, or even if, you are going to react negatively to his disorder. Also, seeking out therapy for yourself with a therapist who understands ADD is also INCREDIBLY helpful!

"He doesn't seem to feel or want anything, so it doesn't seem as if I could really hurt him anyway, no matter what I did. If I left him, at least one of us would probably be happy and have some peace. Its like being angry at a block of wood. The wood doesn't know, doesn't care and cannot be other than a block of wood, even if I desperately want it to be otherwise."

I have to say this may not be true. Unless he has no empathy at all (which would mean he has another type of mental illness) he would care if his whole world fell apart. The sad part is he may not even notice it falling apart around him until you guys are gone (ie: burning his dinner, leaving power tools around, etc)... and by then it'll be too late! And, even sadder still, he would probably just chalk it up to another f**k up or failure in his life..... what else is new! Remember, if he does have ADD he's been living in a totally different world than you his whole life while on the outside racing to make himself seem "normal"! How completely exhausting and sad!!! :( In a way you are absolutely correct... he will never be "other than a block of wood", in other words, he will never be "normal" but from what I've learn here and in books I've read, he can decrease the symptoms a great deal and live somewhat "normally". (just with a few easy to deal with 'quirks') ;)

"Why is he so discerning when it comes to my rudeness, but cannot see his own?"

I think you answered your own question here. :) He cannot see his own rude behaviours! I know its really hard to wrap your brain around because this is my great struggle too; but just because we don't understand it doesn't mean it's not possible. There are people out there who are that lacking in the self awareness department... it's called ADD. ;)

I know its hard to find compassion for him living with this disorder. I've been working on that with my ADD partner for a while now... I'm trying to get my calm, cool, collected self back as well. When my partner is being rude, I don't have to match his rudeness... or anger or misery, etc. I can just stand there and listen and be like a "block of wood" myself! Let him act like the crazy and you just state calmly whatever you need to say, keeping in mind that most of his behaviours (if not all) are symptoms and remaining respectful toward him as another human being (who has a disorder). 

I wish you all the strength in the world! I know its hard because I'm living it myself. There are days I love him to bits and other days I hate him for destroying me... But, seeing that there are inconsistencies in my everyday feelings just lets me know that the situation is not permanent and can change. It gives me a little hope each day....

Good luck! :) 

thanks, ebb and flow

I understand (intellectually) that I must not allow myself to be consumed with anger.  I try to see the humor in the small things everyday.  However, the big things do tax me.  I am not sure if I should give up my anger entirely.  It seems to me that my anger can be a healthy reaction in some regards.  For instance, my anger helped me to draw very hard lines in the sand early on in our marriage that he still declines to cross.  There are times that I feel compassion for him.  But that passive-aggressive behavior of his is like a strong spice- like curry; no matter what good thing my family is "cooking", when he gets involved, it all taste like curry.  I did try to go to counseling, but my insurance company has a contract with a "Christian" oriented counseling service.  This did not work for me;  I am a Christian, but the counselor was trying to hurry me along to compassion without stopping at anger first.  I could not aspire to compassion for him before I addressed my anger and sadness for myself.  Like when your stomach hurts and you vomit and it feels a bit better?  And after that you can be all, "I wonder if it was something I ate...maybe I am coming down with something..." (I do realize this is a rather unsavory analogy- sorry)!  I am sure I will reread your supportive post many times in the coming days, to remind myself of how unintentional these hurts are.  That will bring some measure of comfort.  Thank you.  OK. Enough lamenting today for me.

ebb and flow's picture

I have a hard time believing

I have a hard time believing that you want to hang on to your anger. I think, like the rest of us non-ADDers, you want your feelings to be acknowledged and for something to be done about them! (dammit)

Anger is toxic... mostly for the person harboring it. Try to learn to let it go... not for him, but for you!

I know for sure you wont develop compassion for his struggles instantaneously (I'm still working on it myself) but part of the progress to happiness is to accept your half of this... which will inevitably be compassion towards him and controlling your reactions to his unmanaged symptoms. Unless, of course, you really are just done and waiting for the right time to leave... Then do as you wish but try to stay true to who you really are! :)

Do you have Melissa's book? It's really good and can be very enlightening...

For revelation

I have found this entire thread fascinating for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you seem to be a strong woman, like me, who has ended up in a place that is awful.

I will tell you first (and I hope it makes you smile if you know much about my own story) that there was a point in my marriage when I used to daydream that my husband would get hit by a bus.  I was so miserable that I felt that it would just be simpler that way - my kids and I could mourn the tragedy of his death and our lives, and move on with a fresh start.  (My husband is aware that I had these feelings, so I can write about them here.)  As you can tell by that, I wasn't feeling very charitable towards him at that point.  Today we are very happily married.  (I am not saying that this is where you would end up, mind you, just noting that history does not equal your future.)

What concerns me about your posts is how far away from yourself you are letting your misery drag you.  You have become / are becoming a person you can't like very much - playing power games, punishing him for his behavior, etc.  He DOES need to be held accountable for his actions, but by being mean as you fight back do you not find that you don't like who you've become?  Lots of people come up against this in ADHD-affected relationships, and I hear people say things like "he's made me this way" but I'm a firm believer that we all make our own choices.  You choose how you respond to someone, they don't force you to behave a certain way.  It may be that you don't hold the "he's forced me into it" opinion, but in any event, it seems as if you might benefit from taking a close look at yourself and asking "do I want to be this person?"  If the answer is no, then ask "Who DO I want to be?"

When I got to the point in my own life when I asked those two questions I found it to be an incredibly empowering turning point.  I decided I did NOT want to be angry, hurtful, verbally abusive, nagging etc.  I DID want to be thoughtful, open, optimistic.  And so I decided to BE the person I wanted to be, regardless of what my husband did.  That decision gave me back to me, if that makes sense.  It also allowed me to come to terms with my deep anger and get past it.  What was the point of holding the grudge?  I was in charge of my life moving forward and the future was more important than the past.  I stopped nagging cold turkey.  I chose actions based upon whether they would allow me to be the person I wanted to be.  Suddenly, I liked myself a whole lot better and that felt good, in spite of the fact that my husband was still a mess at the time.  It also allowed me to make some difficult decisions about what I needed to do next.

In my case (and it might well not be in yours - my husband was aware of his ADHD at the time, and described himself as someone who loved me, even though he wasn't in love with me) the transition was a bit messy - I suddenly became the me I used to be, and he needed to adjust to the change.  BUT the end result was that he was able to once again find the person he loved so much and because of it make a commitment to the relationship that included getting his ADHD fully under control.  He could "see" what it was in our relationship that was worth fighting for.  I, as a person who was committed to being open, was able to self-assess about my own role in our problems and start to address my side of the issues.

Your husband's response to your putting your foot down about Thanksgiving suggests to me that you might have some success with him if you use this approach.  More importantly, you'll probably like the results for you.

I describe the process I went through in more detail in my book, if you haven't read it yet.

Best of luck with the holiday stresses.  This time of year can be so difficult!

Melissa, do you mind if I ask

Melissa, do you mind if I ask how long ago you started making the 'transition' and how long ago George joined you?


Melissa will want to comment later (she just finished up work for the day). She started her transition rather abruptly in July 2006 (what happened is detailed elsewhere here on the blog in some detail), and I joined her at that same time, but in my case with some rather dramatic fits and starts, as I at first was not entirely trusting that she had made or could maintain the transition, and because I had "checked-out", I was not quite sure that I wanted to make it. But we both made it through, and now we are in a very good place, as if we had never been anywhere else.

I only ask George because

I only ask George because (incase you don't know the story) my husband and I hit "rock bottom" last fall...during a separation. We reconciled, and although the changes weren't "cold turkey" like Melissa was able to pull off, after a few months we started really getting things right and back on track. I would estimate that somewhere around 4-5 months ago things finally settled, we started trusting the changes, and came to a better place than we'd ever been in our marriage. He recently started meds and sorta scared me into thinking that maybe he was 'slipping' back into his 'ADHD hole' but I think time will prove it to be a false alarm, I certainly hope so. If it was/is medication related, it's an easy enough fix. Just wondering how long it has been for you guys since you turned things around. Congrats to you both!

Thanks for your response, Melissa

My own fantasy prominently features a small, single engine plane.  Actually, for many years I nagged and yelled; the past few years I haven't.  I just ask ("pretty please?"), remind (and remind, and remind), then appeal to reason, promise "treats" for task completion, then GODD*MMIT do it myself.  I don't usually say anything after that point.  I think that's why I am so much angrier than I was in the beginning.  I used to let my anger out; now I try to repress.  Because my husband is so passive-aggressive, he will not debate, confront, discuss anything that he doesn't agree with/ believe/ see in a civil manner.  In the past, a lot of the discord in our relationship was because I would try to reach compromise with him, but the communication issues and his passive-aggressive behavior always got in the way.  Things would escalate and open warfare reigned for weeks, complete with land mines and snipers.  I realized kids were becoming collateral damage.  I stopped b*tching.  Now its guerilla.

The way we approach problem-solving now is this: 

(1) I "carefully" present the issue;

(2) he denies there is an issue;

(3) I remind him that it takes only one person in the equation to have an issue; then suggest several "win-win" compromises, and ask him for his view/input;

(5) he- by default- refuses to compromise, by continuing to deny there is an issue;

(6) shenanigans ensue; he hurls accusations; I maintain a look of serenity (that I know really p*sses him off);

(7) I "smash the table" and do what I please;

(8) he smolders for days (particularly as I strive to look unconcerned);

(9) he appears to get over it- but secretly bags it for future ammo at the next "squirmish".

But you are right about the anger making me someone I don't want to be, though I am only that "someone" with him.  In my "real" life, I am generous, forgiving, conciliatory, open, trusting, caring, accepting, etc.  But now I feel like if I am that way with him AT ALL, he'll run over me like a semi-truck (this belief is not without merit).  So in many areas I have very firm boundaries. But I am becoming aware that where I see boundaries, my husband sees insurmountable walls.  I realize that unless one of us changes, our marriage will always suck.  This is childish- I know it has to be this way- but why is it the partner who has their sh*t together is the one who has to change (just crabbing)?

Hi - I didn't read the

Hi - I didn't read the comments in this thread yet. I just found this site as well. I am you in so many ways. I wish we had a support group in my city, but it disbanded last year...:( But maybe just connecting with others--just reading posting like yours makes me feel so alone. I too was not raised with this type of man that I married. He was motivated when I married him, but then realized that they actually "work" involved in going to work, or life only gets worse. 2 kids later it is almost impossible to live with - for HIM or MYSELF. I too, hate who I have become. of course he always blames everything on me or someone else.  I am shadow of who I used to be. I am nothing now. Nothing but a despondent slave who loves who children, but snaps at them too often. Life to him is too overwhelming...taking out the garbage..FEEDING the kids if I am not home (won't do it more than once a day...."I already fed them!") , kids crying, the car needing oil...all of the little things. Life. I fantasize about connecting with someone else.....but deep inside some part of me does not want to hurt him in that way. My hubby is not MEAN. but lazy or selfish. He is what ADDers like to call Intrinsically motivated. I know it is hard for my husband. But what is infuriating is that he won't take meds (tried one and it didn't work well), try natural remedies, take sugar out of his diet, exercise, go to counseling. He obviously does not love me and it makes me wince half of the time he says it because if he really was committed to our family he would be committed to getting help. At least yours had a job! NOTE....SIde note...Our insurance does cover Bio feedbakc and Nuerofeedback. It helps he went reguarly. We don't have the money even for the $15 copay...why...becuase my husband is ADD and unemployeed.  Maybe your hubby could do that.

southcoast- you must be married to my husband also

Yes, he has a job, but that is all that recommends him.  Your post about how your husband is with the kids is reverberating in me.   Sometimes, you realize that the behaviors that you have come to accept as normal and day to day are really f***ed up (this usually happens for me when I see these things in print).  Sherry, I really appreciate you expressing the feeling like you want to kick my husband in the teeth;  in that regard, we are unborn, evil twins.  Treatments?  No.  Sadly, my husband would never admit there is anything wrong with him.  He thinks he is a reasonable and rational person (watch my eyes bug out of my head, cartoon-like).  

We just finished having a ridiculous argument about Thanksgiving dinner.  He asked me if I would make dinner for his family and I told him I needed to think about that a couple days (I am tired from working a lot lately, and my kids can be a handful; plus, he has a large family).  I got back to him a couple days later and agreed that I would make dinner.   Then he says his sister-in-law is going to have the family dinner  at her house and that it is all planned now.  We argued because I have been with his family for 12 Thanksgiving holidays now and I told him I would like it if we could start our own tradition with OUR family.  Further, the brother and sister-in-law have two indoor dogs and a cat, and I am pretty allergic.  First, he claimed he didn't know how allergic I was.  Then he tells me to take some Benadryl.   I told him I would make dinner anyway, and that I didn't want to spend the holiday drowsy.  I suggested that we have dinner together with the kids earlier in the day, and that then he could take the kids and go to is brother's house for the rest of the day.  "No," he said, "The PLAN (his emphasis) is to eat dinner with my family." I was rather stunned.  I said, "Are you saying you won't have dinner with me?"  I said, "But I am your family, too." "No", he says, "I am not eating two dinners."  (Please.  As if he didn't want to be caught cheating on his brother's turkey with my turkey).  The upshot?  He is going to take the kids and go to dinner, and I am going to eat my Thanksgiving dinner by myself.  Does this sound like a person who would agree to any sort of assessment or treatment?  Oh well.  It is what it is...

Part of what makes me coo-coo for coco-puffs, is that he is such a hypocrite about these sorts of things.  He is crabbing to me about the holiday being SO important, because his parents are old and he wants to see more of them (me, rolling eyes- his parents live about 45 minutes away, he gets off work at 4 pm and doesn't work weekends.  He never goes because HE DOESN'T WANT TO).  And, his parents ARE old, and they have had multiple hospitalizations the past few years.  But he's never gone to the hospital to see them during those times in 10 YEARS  (remember, 45 minutes away...)!  Naturally, its my fault that he doesn't go see them, because I often won't accompany him.  Why?  Because he always wants to stay 5 to 7 hours, and wanders off with his dad doing "man things" and leaves me with his mother who dozes off for a good deal of our "visit" and with 3 kids to watch.  5 to 7 hrs is a long time to be perched on someone's couch watching someone else take the nap I can't take.  OK- I'm done lamenting.

Hi, what did

Hi, what did you decide on Thanksgiving?

<Smile> I too and stuck in anger. Ebb and Flow asked who would you want to stay angry. I find myself wanting to stay angry because it is a feeling. For a while I was just despondent. I was numb. And it was awful. At least being angry I feel alive as opposed to a walking dead person. A total shell of a person. Another reason is that I am used to the feeling. Kind of a like a good fitting glove. I didn't say they were WISE or SMART reason....just the reason. I have to shed my anger because of the kids and for myself. 

Sherri - I really hope that I can get to where you are. How do you get past the feeling that by not being angry or judging their behavior that it is giving them a free pass to continue acting immaturely?

I have stopped nagging about things (at least only bring it up once every few months) and nothing changes. That is where the difference us I think between regular marriage advice and ADD marriage advice. ADDers don't change their behavior.  (Editor's note:  This is a gross generalization which is not actually true - I have left it in because the next poster responds to it.  The reality is that UNTREATED folks with ADHD often have difficulty changing their behaviors (or even seeing that they need to be changed, if they are in denial) but this does NOT translate into the statement "ADDers don't change their behavior." - Melissa)


For sure visit the grandparents....but take two cars!!! If you can. My husband does not drive as he has a suspended license related to his ADDness. Doesn't care though.


Hey Southcoast- Thanksgiving decision

I (non-angrily and without being judgmental) took my marbles and went home;  I just told my husband WHERE I was eating, WHAT TIME I was eating, and WHO I planned to go visiting afterwards when he and the kids were gone.  I told him, "Its a shame that you don't feel like you can have dinner with us, but that is up to you- 'cause you know my cooking if off the chain!  But you do what you feel like you have to do- I'm not mad at ya'."  Then I walked away, smiling and humming.  He approached me a few minutes later, ready to negotiate a settlement.  Basically trying to get me to come see his family, if only for an hour, and that I could drive myself.  We'll see.   He seems to understand more and more than I don't really care for his parents.  Or his brother, for that matter.

 I think am a very pleasant person- at least I strive to be.  I try to be engaging and am conversant on many subjects.  The problem is the mix:  I am an African-American, southern Methodist-raised, feminist-reared on Ms. Magazine, pro-choice, mother was a welfare-rights advocate and former battered woman (though not for very long- my mom kicks ass), Democrat, medical professional, BBC-listening, amateur classical pianist, avid reader, organic gardener, cooking/cleaning/canning fool.  My father in law is Scots-Irish descent, Catholic, Neo-conservative, anti-feminist, pro-life, FOX news watching, anti-welfare MOTHERS, reads only propaganda, non-cooking/cleaning, canned food eating, thinks people who buy organic are stupid to pay more, controlling and condescending.  As you can imagine, whenever I show up for something, feathers fly.  Not because of me, though; I am not concerned with changing anyone's belief system.  I feel like I can good-naturedly debate such things, (if the other person wants to),  then have coffee- no bad feelings at all.  But my father-in-law wants to CHANGE me and my mind.  That's not cool, because I LIKE me and know my own mind pretty well.  I think limited contact with them (him) is better, for the sake of maintaining decorum and civility.  

waynebloss's picture

Wrong Statement!

"ADDers don't change their behavior."  This is completely wrong and you should make sure that when you make this statement that all those that read it understand that it is applied to your situation and no one else.  I am a 41 y/o male with ADD, just found out about it in April and since then I have started seeing a counselor and taking medications that I would never thought I would take.  I am on Vyvanse to control my ADD brain so that I can control it!  I have stopped most of my behaviors and along with re-learning the way I think, react and process what is happening after doing one certain for 40 years I can say that I have changed my ADD into something that I can control, it does not control me.  Go through this site and you see nothing but frustration from non-ADD spouses and their onslaught of how horrible we are, but please not group all of us into your statement, we are human, we are all different and we all do not act the same. 

Just thought I would ask nicely, I am not upset or mad, just wish people would contain their judgements to their situations and not try to group us into a group and make a generalized statement which is not true.




Hi Wayne

My apologies Wayne. I should have said that my DH and the couple others I know do not change SINCE they refuse to go to counseling, take medication or at least learn more about ADD. My DH gets mad at me what I generalize too. So thank you for pointing that out.  Good for you! Good for you!