Newly (self-)diagnosed and frustrated beyond reason

A few months ago, my wife decided that I have ADHD. After some reading on the subject, I've come to agree. It seems to explain a lot of the last 20 years we've been together. I'm still having a hard time figuring out what's "me-me" and what's "ADHD-me," and hoping I can get things under control better than I have in the past.

In the meantime, my wife seems to have checked out. She told me this weekend that she's convinced she has no problems, that all the problems in our marriage are solely mine. She has decided (she says) that she's put up with my bad behavior for 20 years, and she's not putting up with it any more. So I feel that just as I finally begin understand what I might need to know to get better, she has kicked my legs out from underneath me, and joined with ADHD to kick me when I'm down.

I've tried to appeal to her on a pragmatic basis: "How do you see what you're doing leading anywhere but the divorce you claim you don't want?" I've tried to appeal to her on every basis I can imagine. I've tried to point out how odd it seems that after 20 years of not knowing any of this, 20 years of being able to legitimately think I was maybe just a jerk, NOW we find out I have real trouble controlling parts of my brain, and suddenly NOW she wants to blame me -- at the moment we find out I'm not *solely* to blame, she blames me solely.

I'm not trying to make her responsible for my problems; I'd be happy if she would just stop adding to them!

I first tried asking for her help, but lately I've just been asking if she can stop cruelly adding to my problems by pushing me (and I don't mean ADHD-style "you're pushing me because you asked twice in one day, I mean literally standing over me and repeating a mis-quote over and over until I acknowledge that yes, the words came out of my mouth (e.g. Me: "Yes, I said you immediately did X, but I shouldn't have included the word 'immediately,' because it was actually an hour later" Her: "Did you say immediately?" Me: "Yes. I take it back." Her: "But did you say immediately?" Me: "Yes, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it." Her: "Did you say it? Was it true?" Me: "Yes, I did. No, it wasn't." Her: "But you said it." and so on), and then saying that's the sort of crap she doesn't want to hear. Earlier today I tried to have a reasonable and calm discussion with her, but I made the mistake of implying (not stating directly) that she had made an error earlier in the day. She told me I was having an ADHD moment, but when I asked her how ADHD was affecting my behavior or statements at all, she first said "everything you say is affected," and then said, "Nothing, never mind. I was wrong," but in a way that implies she's just saying that to shut me up, and clearly believes I'm not in my right mind. I was feeling calm; I think she just thew the label at me to make me feel bad, and maybe distract me from any possible suggestion that she had made an error. (And oh yes, I didn't apologize for the error I'd made yesterday (I'd printed something incorrectly, and so needed to edit and reprint it), so after waiting about ten minutes for me to apologize, she pointed that out and suggested it was, again, what she expected after 20 years.)

I have explained to my wife for years that I've never felt like she was on my side. That whatever problems she might face in life, she was facing them with me, but whatever problems I was facing in life, I was facing those problems and also my wife. I reminded her of this again this weekend, and she first said she didn't care, that she was tired of being on my side (not that I can ever remember her really being so), and then after a bit of time, brought up a recent lunchtime conversation with friends where she had expected me to "take her side" and felt that I had instead taken the side of a friend (and the truth, incidentally, but I could definitely have been more circumspect when she asked me point-blank at lunch, apparently expecting me to lie for her). That made it her against me *and* our friend, and so apparently justified her joining with ADHD to kick me in the head.

She appears to have completely given up on me. I read the posts here and I think: Hey, we have no financial troubles, even though I manage the finances. I've pushed for us to have the discipline to be debt-free. She pushes the more serious parenting questions to me. I know I've made life hard for her, there's no question about that, but I've actually spent years and years coming up with coping mechanisms that actually work well (she would acknowledge I'm a dramatically better person than I used to be until the day she decided I had ADHD, after which point I'm just as bad as I ever was, clearly untrue).

Now that I have ADHD, see, there's no question but that when we remember things differently, the problem is me. On the rare occasions I've produced witness that supported my version of events, she changes the subject to another fault of mine rather than acknowledge her error. In her mind, her memory is perfect, and mine is always wrong. Always, without exception. Which is amazing, because I have an excellent memory; I'm a software developer well known for my good memory when managing projects and code.

Anyway, I'm frustrated because since she informed me that I have ADHD and that living with someone with ADHD is hell on earth, she's turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm trying harder than ever to walk on eggshells and behave perfectly, but every single mistake I make is met with a complete lack of grace, a huge stack of judgment, and she'll say at 10am that she needs at least the rest of the day, and maybe the next, of me staying away from her, because I dismissed something she said, or didn't apologize adequately for something I said. And that's it. Once she's decided to be offended, which is literally every possible time I give her even a fraction of an inch to be offended, she takes it, and holds onto it for days. 

Oh yes, one more thing: we both work from home. It was an arrangement that worked beautifully for 2.5 years, until she decided I have ADHD. Now it's terrible, because she says we shouldn't spend any time together at all. 

I'm working harder than ever, and I think we'd be fine -- better than fine -- if she would just choose to stop being my enemy. I know she's got 20 years of reasons to be upset, so I don't know what to do!

Man, that was more than I intended to write. Feeling raw.

So sorry! Been there and

So sorry! Been there and still there! She (your wife) finally feels vindicated, but she is behaving poorly. Please get melissa's book! It will help you more than her right now. It is very eloquently written from BOTH sides. This could be your lifeline right now. She is stuck in am i. Don't defend anymore, just try to watch what you say, don't try to communicate anything until you read. Have you made an appt with the doc? The doc will tell you the level of severity, which will take the edge off. You don't sound extreme. So, this may help her to not blame everything on adhd. She also - by herself - has to remember she played a part too. Your arguments sounds like my arguments. They are not fun. He is NOT arguing with me anymore about everything because I am not in a good place. He is seeing an adhd specialist, he has been on meds for over 10 years - yes 10 years and we are still where we are because I don't think he really 'got' that he needed to do more than take a pill. Adhd is not your fault, but now that you know, it could definitly help if you were able to reach out ot the docs for help. There is so much more that I could say, however, I have to run. Just please, please, get the book : )

Thank you

I was putting it off because I'm avoiding any impulsive decisions or purchases. But given that today is not looking very good, and your response made me cry, I decided to buy the kindle version. I'll start reading it today.

Thank you.

P.S. No, haven't seen a doc yet. Want to, but haven't prioritized it enough to make it onto a busy end-of-year schedule. I'll see what I can do about November.

Excellent! Most excellent!

Excellent! Most excellent! Unfortunately, she will be running the gamet of emotions until you get diagnosed... Because, then, she will have to admit her part too. There will be the "frustration and sadness" that it has been so hard, and with this knowledge, had it come years ago, you both would not have lost so much time arguing. She will be spinning for a while... My DH blamed me for just about everything wrong with him - I'm not affectionate enough, i don't pump him up enough, he's not a good dad, or a good husband, he isn't taller, his teeth aren't straight enough, - somehow all his problems were my fault. (no, i did not pick on his teeth or his stature, i just didn't build him back up after his physical or what he deemed a bad picture). I know it's it's his low self esteem, he made it my job to "make him feel better" about himself. Im not critical, but I'm not overly nurturing. I don't find his lack of self esteem very interesting or appealing. I didn't find his monthly breakdowns attractive. His defensive, belittling, sarcastic, condesending attitudes did not help at all. Everything we have done in our 15 years together feels like a struggle, all uphill. Everything felt extremely hard, while looking at others just floating or gliding through everything. Our conversations have turned to "short bursts" because too many sentences can turn to misunderstandings. Like you, he works from home and I am stay at home mom for now. Very difficult. I am so glad you got the book!! I REALLY, REALLY, hope you find some comfort in there. There are some AMAZING people here that are ADD that know exactly what you are feeling and they have helped all of us so much. You are not alone! Take care of you. When she see's that you are trying to fix it, she will come around. At least you have this knowledge now and are looking for help, i on the other hand NEED to let it go that we had this diagnosis years and years ago and my life 'could have been drastically' different knowing what we know now! Keep posting! : )

Top of the List...

If you do have ADD, I myself did not know I did until I was 43, the meds can make a huge difference in your reactions. (For the better) You won't be blind-sided as much and be able to grab the "Best" response out of the 200 options racing through the ADD brain. Books, this site, counseling and meds will help. Don't talk about how you will "Fix" yourself, because your actions and consistency will do the talking. This will take time... A Long time...

I have to run... Best wishes,


Your wife is not behaving well

What you need to understand is that a big part of that is likely because things were not working as beautifully as you have thought for the last 20 years.  Sometimes the person who has ADD doesn't really see things the way they really are.   I am continuously baffled by the mates who come here saying that their marriages were an uphill battle for years and years, and their mate kept telling them there was problems, but they didn't see any problems so they disregarded the other person's experience until somewhere down the line they get hit with an AD/HD diagnosis.

That is some fairly hurtful stuff.  How much would want to be around someone who disregarded you and your experience and your needs for 20 years?  Not that I am saying you did this, but if you read around a bit you won't see it as terribly uncommon....and your wife's resentment and being 'over it' makes it sound like she feels that way at least.  I think it is terribly sad that it took you this long to almost have a diagnosis--by the way that should now be HIGH priority.  Get a diagnosis and get a plan.  Otherwise you are just treading water while things get worse.

Btw, I am the nonADD mate and while I had a few of your wife's issues (and prob still do have some--we are 4 years or so post diagnosis), for example sometimes forcing him to admit when he is wrong because he is sooooo quick to blow it off, or to even say "maybe that wasn't right" when it was 100% completely wrong that it really frustrates me.  Just admit it if you are wrong.  But it sounds like you are admitting it and apologizing and she keeps hammering.....that isn't a good way to communicate.   The big difference between us and many other couples is that we were never anywhere near rock bottom.  We were never even unhappy with each other.....just couldn't understand this crazy inconsistency that seems to slowly show up in our marriage (I guess as hyperfocus was wearing off).   Because he took action so quickly when we discovered a problem and it wasn't me trying to be heard while being ignored, I didn't have alot of resentments built up.

I think some marriage counseling or even joint sessions with an ADHD specialist will get you both on the same page of where you are and what you've contributed to where you are.  It is WAY TOO easy to blame ADD for everything....I've prob done that too....but we do all have to take the responsibility for our bad coping mechanisms.  To be fair though, it sounds like you have some great ones too :)   You are prob on the milder scale, as is my husband, and happiness together between ADD and non is much easier when the severity is less.


Best wishes to you!

Peaks and valleys

There's no question we've had our ups and downs, but she has agreed that many years have gone by where she's nothing but happy. I've made it a point to ask every couple of months how she's doing, and most of the time the answer is that she's very happy -- which is what I expected to hear, based on my observations.

We do have an issue with apologies. I... talk a lot. I think she's tired of hearing me talk. So she tells me that I don't apologize to her like I apologize to others, be they friends, our kids, or strangers. And she's right. When she's pointed it out, I've realized that I tend to apolo-explain, which sounds to her like making excuses, even though that's not what I intend. So I've been better about that. Also, I'll tend to apologize quickly and sincerely the moment I realize something, or it is brought to my attention. Then, after more reflection, I'll realize that my initial apology was incomplete, so I'll try to re-apologize. She doesn't hear that as a re-apology, though. She explained this week that when I bring something back up after apologizing, she hears it as invalidating the original apology, even if I'm actually doubling down on my apology. Again, because I talk a lot, she tunes that part out.

So from my perspective, I've been apologizing to her well for quite some time -- much, much better than I once did, and she just isn't giving me a chance. From her perspective, well, I think she's finally realizing that she's not been giving me a chance, so maybe there will be change there.

Halfway through the book now, and definitely seeing a little better *why* she's so angry. I've also essentially stayed away from her for a few days, which is what she said she wanted. I am, of course, terrified, but trying to act otherwise. Yesterday she seemed to start to relax, and reinstitute some of our shared routines like morning coffee hour today. We'll see how things go from here.

P.S. We've been to marriage counseling a bit. Amusingly (?), I thought we were mainly going for her benefit, and she though we were mainly going for mine. Always how it is, right?


Love it

I love your language, like "apolo-explain" and "doubling down" on your apology.  Made me smile.  You seem keenly aware, at least while you are retrospecting, of some of your coping mechanisms.  I have named my guy's attempts at apologizing The Three Stooges.  I know hates to use them, but can't stop.  They are Deny, Deflect and Distort.  When he knows he owes me an apology, I can see on his face how physically uncomfortable it makes him to feel so bad about his behavior. So he denies he did it or meant it.  Or he may deflect and say it was actually me who did something to cause whatever "it" was, or distort by suggesting that I misinterpreted what actually happened.  I so admire you for working on apologizing.  I say it's like pulling off a band-aid.  You gotta do it, so you might as well do "quick and clean".  Non ADHD spouses need to work on acknowledging sincere attempts at apology, and then letting it go.  Yup, over and over again. 

I don't know why this happens...

Pwinn, I was struck by your comment:  at the moment we find out I'm not *solely* to blame, she blames me solely.  I have heard this from many other ADHDers on this forum, that once  they have been diagnosed, or "discovered" ADHD, their spouses suddenly have no patience and are finished with the marriage, or behaving so badly that they might as well be.   This kind of makes me afraid for me and my marriage.  I've had one conversation with my husband of 36 years, about 15 minutes long, where I asked him a few questions of the type "Do you frequently feel like...." and he said yes to all of them.  I said I had been learning about adult ADHD after some strange compulsion had me pick up a library book on display in the new non-fiction section.  And that I thought it described him, and the resulting conflicts between spouses were a match with us as well.  He just said, well I'm not taking any drugs, and we've never discussed it again.  So now I'm worried -- will I decide I'm "finished" when and if he ever develops more curiosity about the topic?  I would like to ask other nonADHD spouses, did you get more unhappy after diagnosis?  Is it always too little, too late? 

Pwinn, your wife is very angry, and treating you badly, taking your reports at face value.  How long has she treated you this way?  Just since she informed you that you have ADHD?  Longer?   Be aware that you only might just be noticing more how she treats you.  Your awareness of how ADHD affects  you might be affecting your awareness of how ADHD affects her.  The joke at our house is that I can give my guy the silent treatment for 4 hours for some transgression and he won't notice!  I was surprised you wrote this:I have explained to my wife for years that I've never felt like she was on my side. That whatever problems she might face in life, she was facing them with me, but whatever problems I was facing in life, I was facing those problems and also my wife.  One thing my guy has always said is that he would never have achieved anything without me beside him.  I have been the one feeling like I was helping him achieve his dreams, while I had no one but me to work on mine.  And we had no "joint" dreams.  So it is to your credit that you have been on your wife's side.  Maybe all marriages can be unbalanced in this way, and it has nothing to do with ADHD.

And has anybody else noticed how many ADHD folks do IT of one kind or another?  Or is it just me.  My guy doesn't work in IT, but he has had one or two computers at home since 1985, maintains 3 websites and just got a masters degree in media design and technology. 

Neither do I!

I can't yet explain why my wife has reacted the way she has, so I'm afraid I have no answers for you. As I mentioned in a post above just now, we have had ups and downs over the last 20 years, for sure. Still, I'm not imagining the very recent change. She made it very clear this week that this was new behavior, admitted that it made things difficult for me that -- as I told her -- she is now blaming me at the very moment we find out I'm not *solely* to blame. As she puts it, she doesn't care, and it's not her problem, and she's just tired of putting up with nonsense.

I think this week she's seeing how her recent attitude shift is affecting not just me, but also our kids, as they seem to tiptoe around her, trying to avoid setting her off. Perhaps as a result of that, or perhaps because there actually is a limit to her anger, she's starting to be less outwardly bitter toward me. Maybe she's just trying to prepare for our ten day vacation in Florida starting next week. 

I definitely notice when my wife is out of sorts. It bugs her immensely that I pick up on it right away, in fact, often before she does. I'll ask her what's wrong, and she'll say "nothing," but then come back an hour later to say that she's realized what was wrong after all.

One thing the book mentions is that people with ADHD are often gracious and quick to forgive. That's me, and I've often been confused by how hard it has seemed for my wife to forgive people similarly. I extrapolate from that, though, and note that I forgive *myself* quickly, as well. Too quickly, I think it's safe to say. I'm always looking forward (now and not-now), and have trouble understanding why my wife is slow to move on. I think she feels as if my apologies to her are insincere in part because I don't seem to feel the weight of my offenses. In truth, I often despair over my inability to meet her expectations, but I've tended to put on a smiling face and pretend all is well, to my own detriment. She has been on anxiety meds, and I've tried to help by being always-positive and supportive, which may have worked against me in the long term.

Anyway, I'm going to find an ADHD-savvy doctor in Dallas when we return from vacation, and try to rebuild from there. I was panicked late Monday night because of the things she was saying and because her anger was unabating, but given three more days, she does seem to be relenting. Still not what I'd describe as "reasonable," but less openly hostile, and I can work with that.

Reading the book has kept me up late a few nights crying, seeing how and why things I'd dismissed as long-past and currently irrelevant are still very much in the back of her mind today. I finally told her today I'd been poking around an online forum and reading a book, and while she braced herself at first -- I think expecting me to suggest she also read it, as it usually my habit -- she seemed to be happy that I was focusing on my own issues by myself, and not yet trying to rope her in. 

BTW, my father was diagnosed with ADHD in the last few years, in his late 50s, and is currently on some apparently heavy-duty meds. They've made a world of difference for him. My mother is less angry at him post-diagnosis than she was pre-diagnosis. She's relieved, is probably the best way to describe it. I suspect the main reason is that the meds make it possible for my dad to focus at work, for example. Without the meds, perhaps she would also be more angry than ever. I don't know. 

Admire your insight

This comment struck me as "very true" in my relationship, and I really admire your ability to both see it and say it.  One thing the book mentions is that people with ADHD are often gracious and quick to forgive. That's me, and I've often been confused by how hard it has seemed for my wife to forgive people similarly. I extrapolate from that, though, and note that I forgive *myself* quickly, as well. Too quickly, I think it's safe to say. I'm always looking forward (now and not-now), and have trouble understanding why my wife is slow to move on.  As the non-ADHD spouse, while reading Melissa's book, my hope for you (as it would be for my guy if he were reading) is that you learn something from the brief discussion about grief -- both for yourself as a way to forgive yourself for the years when you didn't understand ADHD's effects (but that won't take long!  ;)  and for you to understand why your wife might be "holding onto" anger, not believing you are trying to make changes, or just punishing you.  That section suggests learning to hear the grieving your wife may be doing in statements that might normally make you defensive.  Then just taking a moment to acknowledge it, emphathize with it, so she feels you are aware and regret it too, but not letting yourself spiral into shame and defensiveness.  Done over and over, each time a little bit of the grief is set aside, Melissa says.  This is the tricky balancing act many here are struggling with.  If the non-ADHD spouse never feels acknowledged for how things have been for them during the "dark days" then they have trouble embracing the "sun light" that knowledge of ADHD can bring.  The ADHD ability to "get over it and move on" very quickly just compounds the feeling of non-ADHD spouses that nobody "gets it" what it is like for them.  And the non-ADHD spouse has a lot of responsibility to actively work on "getting over it"... There has to be a point of "enough" in order for the ADHD spouse to feel motivated to keep working on behaviors and the relationship.  I struggle with this hugely, worrying that I will never be acknowledged "enough."  For example, my guy spent a very intense year going to grad school full time and working full time.  He gave up a few of his "extra curricular" activities but our relationship really suffered from lack of time and attention.  I picked up even more "slack" than usual around the house, too, so he'd have time to study, then threw a big family surprise party at a restaurant for him, as he couldn't attend commencement.  About a week after it was all over, he said while walking through the room, "Hey thanks for your help this last year."  I looked at him very intently and said, hoping to start a conversation about how we could recover and make new, better plans for our relationship, and said "I appreciate that -- it was one of the hardest years of my life."  He said "Me, too," and left the room.  I totally understand now and not now, and once school was finished it was in the not now.  I totally get how hard the year was for him, and how hard he worked, and I don't think he owes me something in return for my support.  Well, yes, he does.  He owes me some recognition of what I gave up, what the relationship gave up, so he could realize his dream.  I know he thinks one thanks should cover it.  Time has lessened the sting, as it usually does with "grief" and I don't mean to imply by my story that this is something I am still obsessing about... I used it as an example of how hard it is to "forgive and forget" for the non-ADHD spouse.  But I do not punish him for not doing it, or snipe at him, or make him feel guilty for that year.  But I have said, when he recently shared another of his wildly imaginative, creative and terrifying ideas for something 'we' should do, "You know, honey?  I think the next big thing will be something I choose."  He looked sheepish, agreed, seemed to understand what I meant, but added "Well, don't take too long to decide or you forfeit."  Gotta love the guy.  Sorry to ramble on so long... You note the difference three days made in how you felt... I always remind myself when I'm low what Jennifer Nettles sang "The bad times pass like the good times do."  I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that things will get better, then try not to be so shocked when things get a little worse.  All things pass. Best wishes 

arwen's picture

possible explanation

OK, Pwinn, you've had undiagnosed ADHD and your spouse has been struggling to deal with it for 20 years (struggling because it's very hard to cope with things one doesn't understand -- sort of  like trying to fix an engine block when (1) you have no idea how it works and (2) your best guess is that it's like a milking machine).

For 20 years, your spouse has probably been thinking that if she can just get you to understand a few things -- her feelings, her point of view, her priorities, how to organize, whatever -- you will see the error of your ways and things will then naturally get better.

Now she finds out that your marital/family situation is in many ways permanent -- (1) things *might* get better but only with a ton of work and (2) they won't get *all* better, just *some* better and (3) some things are probably *never* going to be better.

How hopeful would *you* be in such circumstances?  She wanted the problems to *stop* and instead she's found out they're not going anywhere.

What many folks with ADHD tend to not truly see is that (1) the ADHDer forgets a lot about a lot of the problems and (2) the non-ADHDer *cannot* forget *anything* about *any* of the problems.  This is not because they "want to hold on" to negativity.  They can't forget any more than you can remember.  However bad the problems may have seemed to you, I can assure you that it's very likely your non-ADHD spouse remembers 10 times as many occasions of problems and feels they were at least 10 times worse.  Trust me, a memory that *cannot* forget a single detail can be as much of a torment as a blessing, it just depends on whether the memories are bad or good/useful.

So your spouse has just learned that something  at least 10 times worse than you think it is, that she's been beating her head against the wall with for 20 years (which seems 10 times longer to her than to you, because of her more robust memory capabilities), is *never* going away -- and you would like her to be  -- what? cheerful? enthusiastic?  Odds are that she's in the depths of torment and trying desperately to save her sanity.

Her reaction is really not so bewildering, if you actually think about it from *her* perspective.  Please understand, I don't mean this as any kind of put-down!  Walking in someone else's shoes, *without still wearing your own*, is a hard thing to learn to do, and I give you credit for at least wondering what the root of her behavior.  Hope this helps -- good luck!

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore


IT - for YYZ

Ironically my first college course was an introduction to basic programming. I failed... What do I do in IT??? I'm a programmer/analyst. Funny, huh???


sullygrl's picture

Finished once Diagnosed?

Gardener - This really struck me "I have heard this from many other ADHDers on this forum, that once  they have been diagnosed, or "discovered" ADHD, their spouses suddenly have no patience and are finished with the marriage, or behaving so badly that they might as well be."

I can offer up one idea as to why that happens. It's possible that the non-ADHD spouses have been getting to the point of no return on their frustration level with the ADHD spouse and inequality of give-and-take in the marriage. They may have been giving huge clues of dissatisfaction with the way things are but it's not until things have totally blown up "I can't take this anymore, I want a divorce!" kind of blown up, that the ADHD spouse begins to wonder "well, maybe I should look into this? Maybe this isn't normal behavior? Maybe it really IS me?" and lo-and-behold they start doing some digging and discover they have ADHD. It explains everything, right? Should be easy to move on from there, right? We have a labeled, treatable issue and we can go from here, right?

WRONG. The non ADHD spouse may be thinking "well great googly moogly, we have a diagnosis! Well, yippee!  Doesn't undo the past umpteen years of not being listened to, of being marginalized, of being told "sorry sorry sorry" but repeating the behavior within minutes.  Does it always mean the end? No. But the ADHD spouse needs to remember that the non-ADHD spouse has been dealing with the ADHD symptoms all along, just putting a name to it is kinda like putting lipstick on a pig. I saw that it was a pig before, now the pig is prettied up. Still an oinking pig.

Along with the diagnosis has to come therapy, medication, treatment. One of my favorite quotes from Melissa's book is that choosing not to treat ADHD "is not a neutral act" (I'm paraphrasing here, don't have the book in front of me.) Just because you have a diagnosis doesn't excuse the behavior itself. So now it becomes a game of patience and willingness to work hard to show you understand where you have hurt sooner from your past behaviors and that you're working on it.  Not making promises that have already been heard about "trying harder to remember, not steamroller over you, not interrupt, not forgetting to pick up the kids or at least making sure they have real clothes on before dropping them off at the bus stop," but actually making an appointment for therapy (couples and singles) getting medication, working on the issues that have pushed your spouse so far away in the first place.

Bottom line is it has taken so much time to get to this point, it will take a long time to be able to trust and build the relationship again.

Everything you said, And...

If the meds, knowledge and behavior changes go well, you can also get stuck with the "As usual you get the easy fix for your issues" and your spouse is still dealing with their issues that are not so easily resolved. My DW saw my changes and felt that way for sure. We still argue about why I am not struggling with my weight anymore. I don't obsess about food anymore and I get a lot of exercise, unlike the first 43 years of my life. The last time the food issue came up I did not take the bait. We had agreed to disagree on the matter and I explained that I was not going to argue about this issue. I stayed calm and just kept trying to move on. I don't know if my attempts to "Not beat the Dead Horse" helped, but I knew how bad the argument would get if we went at it again. (Round 164, I think)

2.5 years later we are still working on the trust issues...


I wish your wife would come

I wish your wife would come here and read some of the 'other side' stories and see how lucky you (she) are that you got such positive results from the meds. So many of us wish it were that 'easy' for our DHs. The "easy" fix would seem more like a Godsend to most of us. Good job not arguing over the weight thing. There is no winning.

I wish she would too...

Thanks Sherri... I don't think she believes anything wrong with us has anything to do with my ADD. She just wants me to admit that the effects of Adderall on my brain are the same as the effects on a normal brain. It's so goofy because we are saying the same thing in a way. I say Adderal corrects my brain chemistry and one of the results is my not self medicating with food. She says Adderall is a appetite suppressant as side effects include weight loss. I almost laughed when we were coving the topic, again, because it's like "Groundhog Day" saying the same responses (monotone from monotony) and hearing the same reactions. I kept asking her "Why" was she doing this because without outside professional help the topic would never resolve itself. It just get's a little frustrating that the day started off well, getting stuff done, then this again, just in time to ruin the rest of the day and weekend. The anger is still in control, unfortunately. I'm up too late, paying bills after our DD1's concert, so 5am is coming fast...

The journey continues


The way I see it, BFD if

The way I see it, BFD if weight loss is a side effect. It isn't like you had a meltdown, almost lost your mind, were anxiety ridden, driven to the edge, and then went to the doctor and said "I need speed so I can lose weight". This line of thinking, and argument itself, is insanity. My DH loses weight too when he takes them..and he's 6'4" and weighs 135!!! I took phentermine years ago, it is 'speed' and it does suppress appetite. So, technically, you're both right. It isn't even something that should matter at this point. Get on with your with each other TODAY, admit "yes, it does suppress my appetite" and put this issue to rest once and for all. It does increase dopamine production and helps your brain use it better, but as a result you are 'satisfied' and aren't needing the extra dopamine you used to get from the satisfaction feeling of eating. It is semantics...and it is ruining your weekend? It is nuts. You should not feel bad for finding a medication that has helped you function in life, that had an added side effect of helping you become thinner. She should not begrudge you your happiness with the medication if it truly helps you feel better. Bottom line, love each other enough to quit arguing about this!!

Totally agrre :)

I think her own low self-esteem and anger gets in the way sometimes. We were miles away from the topic and somehow it "Left-Turned" into it. She had an ADD moment I think ;) A lot of this has to do with the fact that she does not know much about ADD, even when I explain reactions/behaviors in DD#2 what make her mad in terms of how DD#2 could get to these actions from an ADD point of view. The fact that being over-weight together for so many years because of different issues and my remedy comes with the "Thin" card just does not seem fair to her. I totally understand, really... I used to be envious of thin people that I watched eat way more than me and think "It's not fair that some get the "Skinny" gene and some don't."

I have chosen to try and fix me, because I am the only one who can. I told my DW the other day I just was not going to waste time discussing the topic anymore. My DW is doing very well on a Dr monitored diet and I've been fully supportive and not said anything about the prescription part of the plan. I just want her to feel good about herself.

Thanks Sherri :)


Several updates

My wife came into my office and talked to me a little while ago, and we had a conversation that enabled me to talk (and cry) about what I've learned from the book (which I finished last night), and her to tell me that she stopped taking her anti-anxiety meds three months ago (which explains oh-so-much in the details), and quite a bit more. She's starting her meds again next week, and I'm making an appointment for diagnosis for when we return from vacation.

She heard me clearly, acknowledged that my brain chemistry made it difficult to communicate certain types of things, but that she believes me when I described what I have missed saying. All in all, a far more ideal conversation than I expected to have today, or this week, or even this month. 

I have deliberately avoided suggesting she read Melissa's book, but after our conversation today, she asked if she could, or if it was for ADHD people only. We're taking the kindle on vacation, so she'll read it then.


truly awesome.

Linsy's picture

I think I understand

Hello, I read your post with great interest. My husband of many years left home last year at my request because I could not take any more. I was exhausted, stressed and at the end of my tether and had no more energy to give to trying to solve his problems. In the end it was the impact on my children which led me to asking him to leave. He did, and his diagnosis was delayed by his moving, but he is going for it again now. If your wife appears to be behaving differently it may be the relief that there is an explanation for what she has lived through. I know I behaved quite oddly when the possibility of this diagnosis first came up 18 months ago, as it made things fall into place. Also he blames me a lot for all kinds of things, very unreasonably - I know I have reacted angrily, but the provocation was very great. Your wife is probably feeling quite raw, now there is an explanation she wants to get to a conclusion and an improvement quickly. You seem to be a great guy, responsible financially - mine isn't, in fact the opposite which was a killer in stress terms for me left holding baby, vacuum cleaner, job down, debts in check and everything and all.

Keep going with Melissa's book, and all the very best to you both. Be kind and gentle to her, listen to her and do not try to score points. And spend time apart and together ON purpose - the holiday sounds a great idea. The great Bernard Shaw said: Marry a man for life but not for lunch. Distance is good!

Another set of updates

I started taking Adderall on October 28, so just over three weeks now. My wife and I agree that it's difficult to see marked change for the better, which seems to have caused her to realize that I wasn't as terrible as she was thinking. I have 20 years of awfulness contributing to her anger and frustration, but apparently I'm not awful every week. She suggested that is part of the problem: If I were terrible daily, she might have been motivated to put her foot down a lot sooner.

We're trying to focus on the future, and the fact that the doctor agreed that I have "mild to moderate" ADHD and that I'm on meds seems to be helping her. We had another rough patch when she realized that one of our daughters (12) might also be dealing with ADHD; she blamed me for that, but I couldn't argue with that, I guess it is genetically my fault. :{ I'm going to seek out an ADHD-savvy counselor after the first of the year, while she finds a counselor of her own. We seem to agree that separate counseling is more appropriate than going as a couple right now.

After almost a month and a half during which our relationship was like that of cordial housemates at best, she's being slightly warmer to me lately. We still don't seem to have similar ideas about what an ideal marriage relationship is like, but that doesn't seem to be ADHD-related, just life.

I was able to tell her how frustrated I felt about something, and she seems to have listened. I explained that she seemed to be saying about everything I did: that's you and your ADHD. Even when I think it's just non-ADHD me, or actually even her, and the accusation is unfair, I was frustrated because I would think of our 20 clueless and hurtful years and think something like, "I deserve that, for all the times she didn't know to say it then." I think she understood what I was saying, and admitted that she'd done it "once or twice" just to be mean because she could tell it bothered me but that I didn't argue back.

I was sure happier when I wasn't carrying the weight of our last 20 years on my back, but obviously reality is better than fantasy. I don't know what the future holds, but she's swung from uncharacteristically bitter back to her "normal" stubborn self, so I have some hope.

Thank you to everyone who commented on this post. There were a couple of posts I really didn't want to "hear," but they were all enormously helpful, and I've re-read each several times for encouragement and challenge. Thank you, thank you, thank you.