Non-ADD spouse at wit's end

This is my second marriage and my husband's (who has ADD) 4th. When I fell in love with and married my husband he was taking Welbutrin. After we were married (3 years ago)  he took himself off Welbutrin and stopped taking Adderal. He said he's fine and doesn't need it..... And that his psychiatrist agrees (The 10 minute phone call once a month psychiatrist). I can go about a month being loving, supportive, patient, tip toeing around his defensiveness and sensitivity and being invisible before I get angry..... I get really, really angry and try to hurt him verbally. I hate myself for doing this. It's not like me. I raised two children (now adults) without raising my voice and now I scream like a lunatic. The anger comes from the fact that he's never wrong and I'm always wrong, he has no desire to have sex since he went off Welburtin (but blames me), that he is selfish and self-centered (never gives me anything or recognizes my gifts and contributions) and that he has diagnosed me with a borderline personality disorder because I get so angry with him and loose it. YIKES! (I actually went to a psychiatrist who assured me that I do not have a BPD) My  husband loves to be a victim. I don't understand it. He has lost many jobs and seems to have difficulty with authority figures.

Now here's the part that makes me nuts. He has no insight about his behavior... his life. The problem was with his mother, his 3 x-wives, the sibling, the friend the "boss", and now me. I went from being the love of his life to being "the problem". Why can't he see what everyone else sees or at least believe those who care for him. He adores his granddaughter, but his daughter will not leave her with him unless I'm there to supervise (she also won't let him drive with her daughter in the car). He denies these things.

Please help. I went from being a strong independent woman to almost believing if I could just never loose my temper everything will be okay.

Wit's End

Non ADD Spouse At Wit's End

First off, BIG ((HUGS)) to you. This is not easy to go through. Like your husband, mine is currently unmedicated, as well... though for different reasons. (Going through waiting for the next step of the ' official' diagnostic process.) I highly recommend the next step be that you take a read through the book, 'Codependent No More.' We start forgetting to take care of ourselves amidst all this choas. It's impossible to save a drowning victim when youre drowning yourself. Lifesaving 101 *grin* After you've taken a moment to breathe [and I order you to do that first], start arming yourself with education. The behaviors you are describing are symptom related. My husband has them too. Next, you are not alone. Other people are going through this too and know how youre feeling. This is hard and feels lonely. Inaccurate self appraisal is a common feature with adhd. It can be maddening. My belief is that it's highly related to the inattention. I've heard medication can be very helpful there. The lack of sex seems to also be related to inattention. It is beyond heartbreaking on the receiving end. Again, you are not alone in that sorrow. Impulsivity begets behaviors that appear extremely selfish. I wrongly attributed my husbands actions as purposeful especially with the diatribe of tangental impulsive speech that would occur when I attempted a conversation coupled with the lack of insight. I didn't realize until recently that my husband does percieve much of my communication as negative. This includes things I perceive as neutral, like simple questions such as, ' Do you know if the dog's been fed?' That rigid inability mentally to shift gears is common in this. Once theres been frustration it's difficult for him not to just shut down and label it all bad since hes had such difficulty problem solving in the past. It feels like youre working alone on the other end. Many of us experienced an abrupt notice of these accompanying symptoms after marrying. Hyperfocus during courtship is fairly common. I believe we unwitting overlook the minor stuff during courtship, but the close proximity of marriage lends itself to higher frequency of interpersonal issues. These things just don't come up with the bagger in the checkout line, LOL. Lastly, we go into marriage with certain expectations. Hang in there! I'm pulling for ya!

CoDependent No More is a

CoDependent No More is a MUST!!!

I am living a very parallel life to what you ladies are facing...and I can assure you that letting go of the anger and just taking the responsibility of 'fixing' everything off of your shoulders and putting it on theirs is a HUGE first step. I've been through 'letting go of my anger' once...and we had a huge set back and it came crashing back in like a tsunami! I was not only miserable because he had withdrawn, but I was miserable because I was that angry, yelling, controlling, demanding nag again...that I hated SOOO MUCH. I was back to the vicious cycle of spending every waking moment thinking about what "I" felt was the solution, what I felt he needed to do, what I felt would be the answer to our problems. Finally I told him "I'm letting go of my anger...I love you and I am not going to make any big decisions (divorce) until I have dealt with my anger and know that I'm not doing it out of anger alone...but I cannot promise you what tomorrow will bring...because me letting go of my anger is only 1/2 of the battle" (something along those lines).

We get angry because things are so out of control it feels 'safe' to be angry. It feels like that is the only way to get anything done, and realistically NOTHING CHANGES...not even when we think we're 'getting things done' by forcing them through our anger and threats. I decided to take another approach. We had been at a stand still, the same damned stand still we spent 6+ years in, for weeks! He felt I wanted to control him and tell him what to do (which was true) and I was pulling out all of the old 'tricks' to manipulate him and get things done my way...and when it finally dawned on me that NOTHING was changing, yet again, then I finally just had a moment when I had to get it off of my chest..and I told him "I know I am angry again...and I assure you it is my top priority to figure out why and to stop being this angry person..I hate this person...but the best explanation I can give you is that it feels safer here, in my anger..because when I let go of my anger and reach out, I just get hurt".

What dawned on me...I was getting hurt just as much...AND I had the added misery and shame of being angry and negative all the time. So, I just finally owned up to it and told him that he was right, I was angry and I was just trying to use my anger to manipulate him and the outcome of my marriage. I had NO CLUE how he would react. I honestly did not even think along those lines..we had just been fighting for so long and getting nowhere that I felt like I had to just STOP something and the only thing I had control over was my anger...and with God's help, I was letting it go. I'm about 80% there...but am getting there. I still find myself being upset with his actions, but my reactions are much more in line with what I want. I am hopeful that his actions will improve as my anger subsides, and we will be able to communicate again and start rebuilding AGAIN...but the most important part of me was to accept that me putting HIS responsibilities on HIS shoulders meant that he may not ever manage to be what I need him to be (especially since he denies his ADHD is in control of him)...and I have to accept that my marriage might not survive. But, it is the best chance we've got and everything else I've done up to this point HAS NOT WORKED. ((HUGS))

Wit's End

Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful response and the time you took to write it. I've read the book and many like it. Actually I read everything I can get my hands on, but I can't "share" any of it with my husband. (As I mentioned..... I'm the problem and he doesn't need to do a thing) I think I understand your anger and I certainly don't deny my own. But my problem is that I can only take him telling me that my anger is a problem (when I'm not angry) and that I'm "the problem" a few hundred times before I snap. It's like, "You want anger? I'll show you anger!" And I hate myself afterwards, because that's not "me" to be hurtful, but mostly because I've fueled his fire all over again. Thus............... what you say makes perfect sense. But I haven't made it more than 2 months without getting angry (outbursts.... rants....). He loves to be a victim and I just can't relate to this.

I told him today he can divorce me or stay. But if he stays I don't want to hear one word about my anger until he takes responsibility for how his ADD impacts our relationship. It felt really good and I don't know why it took me so long to say it and mean it. He knows my button and pushes it over and over again and it controls me. Wears me down... and I start to believe him. I don't think he's aware of this at a conscious level.

You are right about the "misery and shame". I can't believe that I find myself trying to say every hurtful think I can image. It's childish and embarrassing. (Like a child calling someone a big poopey head, but I'm a grown woman!) It's like he hurts me over and over again, denies it, blames me and walks around with Teflon coating. I own up to my anger, apologize, promise to work at it, read books about it and go to therapy, but I can't break the cycle without him accepting that "WE" need to work, not just me. I'm redundant. I'm sorry. It's just that finding this forum and support today has been huge for me.

Thanks again.

Can I make a suggestion?

Can I make a suggestion? Focus solely on YOU and finding a way to just let the anger GO. You know he's pushing your buttons. You know you don't like yourself when you 'go there'. You know he has ADHD, which complicates everything. Take control of YOU and YOUR reactions and stop focusing on insisting he take control of himself. Let him sink or swim...while you find some peace in your life.

I have spent the last 4-6 weeks being angry...knowing I was angry...knowing I was just saying things to hurt him, to 'shock' him into admitting his share of the responsibility for the train wreck our marriage was becoming once again...the whole time rationalizing my anger by pointing out every thing he wasn't doing, wasn't taking credit for, etc. Hell, he checked OUT OF OUR MARRIAGE and then tried to blame me! Hell yes, I was mad...but then I started realzing that it was making everything worse, getting me no where but more miserable, and making me a hypocrit. I was asking him to admit what he was doing to keep us from being able to move forward...and there I was indignant in my own anger. He wasn't doing ANYTHING to make things better...why should I?

Because I have to live with myself and my decisions. It just went something like this....I love him, I want to be married to him, but I am DONE DONE DONE trying to 'fix' him with my anger. If it worked, we wouldn't be going on 8 years of this vicious cycle. DUH! Done. Told him "you have responsibility in this have to own up to it and fix it. I am meeting you half way...and letting go of my anger. I have needs. I need you to meet those needs. I will meet yours. I will show you I respect you as a human being by controlling my anger and not fussing. I will let him be 'him' and I will continue to work with him to see that my needs are met...and he seems to be willing to meet me in the middle. I'm journaling about things that I want us to work on, but I'm simply expressing how things make me feel and not fussing or accusing. I acknowledge his efforts and explain that I know it isn't easy to recognize some of the things that are issues, and I hope that me pointing them out isn't taken as criticism, but just simply as me trying to improve our marriage. It is very hard to trust him to do the right thing, to just let go and let him be responsible for him and focus all of my attention on me. I am a 'fixer' by nature...I think I have all of the answers to his (and everyone else's problems)...and it has, for years, taken away the responsibility from him to do anything for himself or to have to face his own issues and demons and really put thought into how he's going to tackle them. He's finally going to have to be 100% responsible, even if I end up feeling like divorce is the only option, I cannot carry the burden for him anymore.

Thank you, Sherri


Your advice is very good and it sounds like it's working for you. I'm pleased to hear your husband is meeting you half-way. My husband says he's moving out in response to the limits I told you about in a post earlier today. This is probably why I didn't set the limits sooner. He has control issues as well.

I like your statement about trying to fix him with your anger. It makes sense. My anger was more about defending myself from the blame and criticism. And as we both know, when one is angry they aren't feeling the pain and hurt. You are a fixer by nature and I'm a teacher by nature. I was convinced for years that if I could just find the right way to share the information he'd say, "You're right. Let's go to a therapist and get some help with this." Irrational on my part. He'd rather get divorced (#4) that deal with the fact that just maybe the problems have some connection to him and aren't entirely due to me. He likes himself he says and he's happy with who he is, but he also wants and needs to be in a relationship. He's a serial monogamous. He'll just replace me with loin term relationship number 6 (and marriage #5). It hurts and I cry as I write this.

Thank you for getting me through a horrific day.


You have to have boundaries.

You have to have boundaries. You have to recognize that nothing will ever be any better than it is right now if you don't start setting boundaries for yourself. I assure you, there is nothing that you can say to him, about him..nothing that you can point out, mention, bring up, rehash, or make mention of that will make him have that "ah ha" moment. He isn't brain dead...he knows he has 2 options. He can either meet you where you're at and work on things and admit his fault or he can leave. You can make more headway in these situations by simply STOPPING the blame game. Disengage with him for a while and let him think about things. DON'T beg him to stay, try and rationalize with him (thinking if I just say this one thing, in this new way, he'll finally hear me!! ..yes, I'm a 'teacher' too, in that aspect), and whatever you do, do NOT engage in a fight with him or even a conversation about anything other than "I'm willing to work on my anger, I want to save our marriage (assuming you do), but I cannot do it alone..we need help" This is where counseling (with someone familiar with ADHD) can be VERY valuable. They can get them to 'admit' and 'get' things that we can't. Maybe instead of focusing on insisting he admit his fault, just tell him "I'm working on me...if you decide you're willing to meet me half way, let me know" and just simply leave him alone with his thoughts.

((((HUGS)))) I am so does sound like he's neck deep in denial...even after 3 other marriages. :-(




You're the best! A Godsend. Thank you. You are right and I will take your advice. So far I've simply told him  that it's his decision and I will cooperate with him, but it's not what I want. I also told him that he'll have to do the leg work and that I am simply going to live my life as always. His brain loves new things, problems to solve, change, etc. So right now he's self-stimulating trying to figure out how to move, money issues, etc. He's done it before and backed down. This time I'm just not investing any energy in it. Given the opportunity I will tell him that I'm working on my anger and I'm willing to work on the marriage with him, but that I can't do it alone. I have disengaged and it's a very peaceful feeling. I'm appropriately sad and licking my wounds, but not looking to him for anything. I said my say and threw it up to God.

I'm surprised by how few counselors really understand ADHD. Many think it's simply about one's lack of organizational skills, follow through and distractibility. They don't understand hyper-focus, self-stimulating brain behavior by creating conflict, negativity, communication quicksand (the harder I try to explain or get out of a conversation the deeper I sink in the quicksand), etc. Have you read Dr. Amen's work? Here's a helpful link:

I really appreciate all of your time and support (and hugs)

Right back at you ((((hugs))))


NonADD Spouse at Wit's End

Thank you for you kind and helpful words and the time you took to share them. I've read the book and quite a few others on the topic. I think my problem is that his hyper-focus went from how wonderful I was to my angry outbursts (from time to time... I don't walk around feeling angry... I feel hurt). He tells me 100's of  times that my anger is a problem when I'm not angry and after a month or so of this I explode and fuel his fire all over again. I finally told him today that if he's not happy to divorce me. If he doesn't want to divorce me, I don't want to hear one word about my anger until he deals with how his ADD impacts our relationship. It feels good and make sense. Either way my life will be better, because I just can't be treated poorly and told that I'm "a problem" day in and day out. I'm a strong woman, but it finally got to me. My therapist has been great, but I just can't stay healthy being blamed for every problem. It sounds very much like your example of shutting down and seeing things as "all bad". I asked him when he was going to go to the store and get the drinks (bottled water, soda, etc.) and he went nuts.... very hurt, angry and insulted. And thus the spiral begins and I just don't have the strength.

Underneath all this is the sweetest guy and I love him dearly..... I'm an academic and I've read everything I can get my hands on, but I can't do it alone. God knows I've tried. He seems to want to play the role of the victim and I really don't understand this. I wonder if this is specific to him or the result of growing up with ADD at a time when no one knew much about it. He's 55 and was diagnosed within the last 20 years.