Newlyweds looking for advice

I'm new to this forum - this is my first post. I do not have ADHD, but my husband was diagnosed with ADD around the age of 12. We were married last summer. We have been friends and have known each other since high school (dated for the past few years, more recently). I've known about his ADD diagnosis all along, but knew very little about how it affects adults, and I had no idea it was affecting our relationship until very recently.
When I was feeling loving and patient, I would repeatedly have to ask for his help around the house. When I was feeling less patient, I would accuse him of not caring, being lazy, or expecting me to do everything. I've been doing research online and reading about adult ADD, and now I see that we are stuck in the 'chore war.' My understanding is limited, and I do my best not to blame him, find fault with him, etc., but we both work full time and lead very busy lives – I don't have the energy or the desire to complete all [very necessary, but not obvious to everyone] household tasks. I feel like I'm walking a very fine line, constantly bothering him to help me keep up with housework – how many times can I ask before he begins (if he hasn't already) to resent me?
Another serious issue is his personal hygiene. He will often go days without showering or brushing his teeth. He gets very dirty at work, and as you can imagine, this impacts us in a number of ways. I'm often embarrassed… for both of us. And it is already having a negative impact on our intimacy, very, very early in our relationship.
He is quite bad with managing money, but again, that is not something I want to take over completely. I would prefer he learn how to help me manage it. He will ask me not to buy groceries for a few days while waiting for a paycheck, but doesn't stop swiping his card for $5, $10 at a time at fast food and convenience stores. He has little concept of how the small charges add up.
The most benign issue is how he hyper-focuses on computer games. It is worst when he is [I think] slightly depressed, worried about money, work, etc. He can easily spend 5+ hours in front of the computer, and not realize it is 4am or he missed an entire beautiful Saturday afternoon. At first I felt like he didn't want to spend time with me, but I've come to the conclusion this isn't really about me at all – he doesn't even realize he's doing it most of the time.
I'm looking for advice in a number of areas: Help for me to understand him better, and the healthiest ways for me to act; Does it sound like his ADD is not managed to the point he should see a professional for help? Are there systems that worked for you that we could try (ex. chore schedule)? Any help, advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am thankful to be tackling this early in our relationship – maybe we can avoid doing years of damage by paying attention to the issues now.
Thanks in advance.

Big topic

Hi there and welcome,

Your difficulties are all too familiar with many of us in this forum; it's awesome that you are looking for solutions this early in your relationship.  I commend you!  For many of us, we've experienced similar things for literally decades without knowing there was a real cause. I think the best advice is to read, read, read so you can educate yourself of the nature of ADHD symptoms and also how YOUR reaction to them might affect him.  Melissa's book and all of its references is a great place to start, as well as this forum.  There is a lot to sift through, here, I know, but when you read the stories and supportive advice you may be able to better understand the pitfalls you can avoid. 

A few tips for the meantime from my own experiences:

--do NOT give him a pass on chores because you are tired of looking at the messes.  Kind accountability is key.  Don't nag, don't roll your eyes, just let it not get done.  A reminder to take the trash out when it is spilling onto the floor is likely acceptable.  You know what your guy accepts as nagging or otherwise, but do what you can to encourage follow through.  News flash: You really can't do it all. Not forever anyway.  I thought I could and I actually did it all for about 15 years.  Then I finally wore out. My first "failure" to sustain it was a stick of dynamite in my marriage --kerflewie!  

--get your financial house in order right away; find solutions NOW.  At least a few people in this forum literally had to take away the debit card and give an allowance instead.  I personally had to do it and I hate it.  But what I hate more is the tens of thousands of debt I allowed to happen because I didn't take this necessary step soon enough. 

--Find a way to confirm that your communication is coming across like you think it is.  Ask him what he just heard you say periodically, especially in the more serious conversations.  I didn't know that for many, many years what I meant to be encouragement, actually sounded like condemnation to my DH.  Not to mention things that came across as nagging, me expecting too much, etc, etc, etc. 

--If you haven't heard of "boundaries" in a relationship, educate yourself about those too.  For example, clearly communicating how much anger you are willing to listen to before disengaging from an argument or conversation is a boundary.  Think of what makes you feel hurt, afraid, angry and identify the point at which it would have been nice to stop the unwanted behavior that might have made you feel that way.  This is oversimplification; there are a good many books out there on the topic. This might be how to address the hygiene issue you mentioned.

--remember that ADHD is a MEDICAL CAUSE of the behaviors you are witnessing. I've often said that it is so hard to muster compassion sometimes because it seems many ADHDers can walk around in the world, looking and sounding like everybody else. Compassion is probably the single most important thing that keeps me willing to work at our circumstances; the second being patience.

This is only a start; there is so much more. Solutions for your circumstances may look a lot different that mine.  Good luck.

Many thanks for your kind

Many thanks for your kind response and personal advice. Your point about compassion and patience sounds familiar.  While my patience might wear thin at times, I try live with compassion toward everyone (most importantly, the love of my life!), and that's what often brings me back around when anger threatens to take over.

We just had a serious talk last night (OK, I do most of the talking...) and it went fairly well. I approached it in this way: I think we have two main problems here - your ADD and my response to it. I grew up in a household with an alcoholic parent, so it's fair to say that my response to problems can often be characterized as controlling or typically co-dependent. So, we both have things to work on! During our discussion last night I explained to him how hard it is to trust my well-being to anyone else - I've felt responsible for all aspects of my own life since a very young age - I think that helped him to understand my response to his behaviors and why I seem to be such a "control freak." 

I just purchased the ADHD Effect on Marriage and look forward to starting it this weekend.  Maybe I can even get my husband to read it! He seems open to working on these issues, since I finally framed it in terms of, this could all lead to major issues down the road.

I am very grateful that his mom pushed for ADD testing when he was a kid.  She had to request it repeatedly, and he was finally diagnosed while they were living overseas.  My husband is incredibly smart, but his childhood was characterized (like for many people) by being told he wasn't trying hard enough, or he was being lazy.  I hope working on this in a more constructive way now can undo some of the self-esteem damage he still carries.  He was very successful in the military for 4 years (he even had to shave everyday!).  I wonder if that is a typical experience or not.  I feel like the military could go either way for someone with ADHD - very well or painfully poorly.

When I finally figured out that ADD was the main root of most of our problems, the biggest light bulb ever flashed on for me.  And I still find it amazing how much the 'disorder' is misunderstood, including my own misconceptions. If I explained this to most of the adults I know, they would think I was crazy, and probably just accuse my husband of laziness or lack of discipline.  I hope we get to see this change, for all of us who struggle with it now, and the future generations who will too.


You are a few steps ahead of me since you have his mom's support of the subject. My DHs mom is in denial as much as he is, I think. It is interesting to hear of the military experience. I truly believe that being in the military helped to mask my DHs symptoms for 10 years. All the meanings were clearly defined. We knew what achievement was, what was considered successful, how a person was aloowed and not allowed to react to you professionally, etc. The Box was clearly defined and we knew where we had to be and when and what to bring with you. The chaos of decision making was pretty well divided between "allowed" and "not allowed" and consequences were clear. We met while we were both active duty so I never had a chance to see him otherwise until 10 years into our marriage. Whatever quirkiness he still had that the military had not tempered was not evident to me as something "wrong." Interestingly much of his symptoms were exposed at the least structured season of his adult life--while he was unemployed for over a year. I've since tried to create structure and organization around the house in an effort to support that need. Happy reading! You will glean so much from this book.