My husband of 30 years has ADHD. I was told by his family when we first met that he had ADHD when he was very young and it was controlled by Ritalin then he eventually grew out of it. Having no other knowledge of this type of wiring I believed everything his mother told me about it. I was given the impression that he was the only one in his family wired like this. Of course I was wrong about that. A couple years ago my husband and I went to counseling together, not for the ADHD but for the arguments that we would have about his family. We had become estranged from his family over dozens of behaviors and comments towards me over the last 30 years. It was cyclical and it would go like this. At family gatherings, something would happen or something would be said that was rude, hurtful, a false memory, anything really, and it was always a little crazy. My husband would not be a witness to it or deny he witnessed it, and then he and I would have an argument over it on the way home or the next day. At the next invitation my husband would forget anything ever happened with his family. Knowing he wanted to accept the newest invitation, I would start to have anxiety wondering what would happen at the gathering. If I said no to the invitation, he would not see his family and it would be my fault. If we went, we would have a disagreement the next day and it would fester until I forgot about it again and let it go. It has been a 30 year cycle of this over and over. It got to a point where I said I was not going to spend another Christmas with his family because of the behavior.
At marital counseling my husband's childhood ADHD diagnosis came out in one of the sessions. This is when I was first made aware that ADHD isn't something one grows out of. It was a new day for me. Enlightened to no small degree. What I also discovered was that it is highly likely his entire family has ADD too, somewhere on the spectrum. Another moment of enlightenment. I discovered that their comments and behaviors over the years, which I would occasionally express at Turrets syndrome, were driven by their own ADD or ADHD. I started to see my husband in a new light. Even though his family had hurt me over the years, I started to see them in a new light. The truth is though; they still have responsibility for being unkind.
Fast forward to today. We have managed to work on our marriage and be open about our behaviors - his ADHD and my anxiety towards it. I have more compassion and less expectation of my husband because I have a better understanding of how he is wired. We have been more peaceful because I accept and understand better where we can be our best and where we can get into trouble. To be very honest, I am the one that had to change. I had to change my behavior because it is nearly impossible for him to change his. There are days like today though where I get so highly frustrated that I want to cry. I occasionally get into what I call a comfort zone and forget that he won't remember a plan. An ADHD partner forgets so many things that are discussed. We have a trip coming up to Colorado over a work event (of his) in June. After discussing at length our plans, I made a separate hotel reservation to arrive a day early so we could have a day to ourselves. This morning I found out that he now has a work event planned for that day. This was not on his calendar at our lengthy planning session. As insignificant as this sounds, it really hurt me. It also made me angry and frustrated. It was a reminder that I sometimes feel like I have three children (we have two children) and that I can never let my guard down about planning. I was looking forward to the trip and now I don't really feel like going, which I realize sounds childish and petty. Anger is an emotion that is useless with an ADHD partner, but one that is a valid emotion. Occasionally I get my fill of the ADHD. Venting. Thank you for this site.