WOW! My wife and I are 40 pages into The ADHD Effect and I am astounded. Unfortunately I am also nearly out-of-time to save our marriage (and to spare our 10 year old boy and 12 year old girl the tragedy of divorce and its effects on children). We also have (2) older 20-something boys from her previous marriage that her and I raised together since marrying in 1998.
My wife has been aware of her ADHD condition for nearly 10 years. I found out about it a week ago, by accident, from the pharmacist as she handed me a "refill" of Adderall that my wife has been taking for the last (10) years. I knew she was taking a daily pill but I had always been told that it was to assist her "digestion" and it was prescribed to her to combat "constipation". Once questioned about it, I learned from her last week that it was for ADHD. Upon some quick research, I picked up a copy of The ADHD Effect. We are about 40 pages into it at this time.
Unfortunately, my wife is so discouraged that her mind is nearly made-up that divorce is the only "answer". I, on the other hand, come from the camp that this is, or can be, "a new beginning". My wife is not nearly so eager to agree. We have been in conventional counseling for the last (12) months and it has gone predictably nowhere. Conventional "relationship books" have also been shown to be equally fruitless. My wife's symptoms have trumped EVERYTHING that has been presented to her through conventional counseling and relationship books. My wife and I discontinued the counseling a couple of weeks ago as she felt we were at an impasse. I know now (by way of Ms. Orvol's book) that my wife's symptoms not being addressed or treated properly, why our efforts have gone nowhere. I also realize that the fact that our counseling was not ADHD-specific, it also stood little or no chance of improving things between us. (By the way, our marriage counselor was also uninformed as to my wife's ADHD and therefore was not given opportunity to focus on this or to refer us to an ADHD-specialized counselor).
The accuracy of pages 3 and 4 of this book nearly knocked me out of my chair. I knew that I had finally found my answers. Even as skeptical as my wife is right now, her "armor" has shown signs of cracking under the pressure of the accuracy of this book as to our life experiences together. Reluctantly, and in her own quiet way, she has begun to admit that what we are reading is spot-on as it relates to what we have been going through as a couple. (Most specific to our experiences are):
- Her lack of attention and affection for her husband. (Over the last 10 years, every single hug, kiss, and sexual encounter between us was instigated by me. Resistance was often high. Total rejection was common.)
- Her constantly and intently focusing on anything and everything other than me was a daily occurence.
- Her OVERWHELMING belief that I am CONTROLLING. (This is her admitted primary motivation for divorce).
- Her OVERWHELMING belief that I am a FATHER FIGURE. (This is her admitted secondary motivation for divorce although it is running a close-second to the former).
- Over the past year, she sits in front of a magnified make-up mirror for 2 - 3 hours per day tweezing and looking for imperfections.
- Over the past year, she retreats to the playing of video games on her smart phone for 2 - 3 hours per day.
- Over the past year she appears depressed and is highly defensive.
- My withdrawal and isolation over the last (5) years which I now know was a defense mechanism to avoid the pain of rejection. I also turned to more frequent use of alcohol (mostly at home) during this time. I stopped drinking cold-turkey in November of 2010 once the seriousness of our problems came to the surface in order to "take that off the table" as a primary reason for our marital problems. Prior to that, I thought we were just "distant" and "coping".
- My feeling at times that I had another child in the home rather that an adult.
- Her perception of time. (We did the "paper towel roll" exercise and she agreed that this was an accurate representation as to how she perceives time to be).
- Living in the NOW. (This is, for me, perhaps the scariest and most frustrating symptom of ADHD. This, along with "time perception", is the reason that I believe that the consequences of divorce and its effects on the children (for example) do not strike her as they do me. Those moments have not yet arrived, therefore they do not exist!). Further, as "family history", "fond memories", "hard work", "devotion" and "commitment", all things that I have tirelessly demonstrated over the last (13) years of marriage, seem not to effect her decision-making at all. These things only exist in the past even if they occurred as recently as two days ago. These things are what I now call "outside" of her "circle of time". My thinking is that most of us are motivated by both the experiences of our past as well as our desires and hopes for the future. How is one motivated if they are arguably motivated by neither?
I suppose that now we are in the "battle stage" of diagnosis and treatment.
THE GOOD NEWS: My wife has reluctantly made an appointment with her doctor to go in and discuss her medications and perhaps focus more intently on her ADHD symptoms. Almost as importantly, she is considering allowing me to go in with her in order for us to both make sure that the doctor is aware of ALL of her symptoms. My wife has in incredibly consistent way of minimizing and/or denying her symptoms which is why I want to discuss these things with her doctor as a couple. A couple that is in very serious trouble. Ironically, it is impossible to "press her" into allowing me to go with her without being perceived by her as being even more "controlling". (She is currently taking (2) 15 mg Adderall tablets and (1) 20 mg Celexa per day. (The latter being an anti-depressant that she only started within the last (3) weeks).
If there is any advice out there, the question I would have relates to an "event" that happened just prior to what seemed to be my wife's ADHD symptoms going haywire. When our oldest boy left home over a year ago, my wife took to her bed for (4) days straight. I chalked it up to "empty nest syndrome" and concluded that it was normal and that it would pass. I cared for her. I brought her breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed during that time. Woke the kids and got them off to school. Took over many daily functions of the home. And, I continue to perform the daily routine of waking the kids and getting them off to school among other things. These are all things that my wife used to "jump out of bed" to do for our family in the morning. Sadly, my wife has not been the same since our oldest son left home. A few months after he left, my frustration as to the much increased distance between us and the continued rejection finally brought our marital problems to the surface. Could it be that her ADHD symptoms multiplied or magnified as a result of this traumatic experience? Could a change in medications and/or dosages at that time have counteracted these changes in her?
The "tight-rope" that I am walking is insanely stressful. To be the one encouraging medications, counseling, and the reading of books for the betterment of our family and the salvation of our marriage seems to be the most bizarre risk while your wife is simultaneously telling you that she wants a divorce because your are CONTROLLING and a FATHER FIGURE! I have never been faced with a situation ANY TRICKIER than this one! "Fragile" does not begin to describe the state that this marriage is in. Having our children's future mental well-being and security hanging in the balance is a scenario that would not wish on anyone.
I so wish someone else would take over for a while. At least until her perceptions of my being controlling and parental are alleviated. This is as close to a "no win" situation as I have ever experienced. A "no win" situation with stakes riding on it that could not be any higher.