Non-ADHD spouse: Over 10 years of marriage and the switch flipped to "DONE":

Hello all.  I have lurked here for weeks reading the various posts and this will be the first post from me personally.  I would like to say that the many stories I have read here have done much to help me gain a modicum of perspective and sanity which has been sorely needed on my part as of late.  As much as I would like my first post here to be one of happiness and hope, I'm afraid that this forum will instead serve as the medium for a public announcement of a sudden, almost spontaneous realization on my part several weeks ago that - in regards to remaining with my ADHD spouse -  I am simply (and slightly sadly) DONE.

I could ALMOST swear that I heard the clicking of the switch when it happened.  I was pulling into the driveway after work, all three kids in tow, when I saw the unmistakable sight of the brightly-colored "disconnect" notice taped to the garage door announcing that, 12 hours later, the utilities in my home would be disconnected due to nonpayment of services.  This was not even close to being the first time I had arrived home to such notification, and on this particular day (luckily home from work earlier than usual) I had FIFTEEN MINUTES to make things right - otherwise my kids would be preparing for their school day in the dark the very next morning.  Though still strapped into the driver's seat,I felt almost disassociated from my physical body as I heard the voice of my 8-year-old in the seat behind me exasperatedly say: "Oh no. Not AGAIN".

That was the EXACT moment that the future of my family changed direction.  I guess it could be called "the breaking point", and while there have been moments since then that I have tried to hope that things truly were NOT broken and that this too would pass, things are truly different now and there is no going back.

Almost 11 years married in 13 years together.  Three WONDERFUL, healthy kids. Added to that is a home with an upside down mortgage, two cars, two careers - plus a pile of debt and mountains of frustration complicated by TONS of insurmountable resentment (acquired rightly or wrongly) on BOTH sides of the marriage that have brought everything to it's present crossroads. It's a LONG story with MANY details - and in fairness there WERE some bright spots.  ESPECIALLY my three kids, who are my entire world.

I'm sure I will be utilizing the wisdom found on this forum to help me find my way in the immediate future.

Hindsight being 20/20 , I realize that, even during our early dating phase, there were "warning signs" attributable to my wife's since-diagnosed ADHD.  The thrill-seeking, the late-night, booze-fueled "girl's nights out" with co-workers.  The lack of dependability and follow-through on her part for even simple things. The inexplicable hyperfocus on ideas, schemes, and plans for the distant AND immediate future that would be all-consuming for a period of days and all-but-forgotten within a week. Manic spending followed by a manic making-of-returns to shops where items were bought. The near-constant scheduling and planning of party/event after party/event after party/event after party/event.  Related to this (I see now) was an inexplicable (at the time) presence of what I can only describe as an entitlement-fueled rage when her "thrill seeking" was denied, her plans questioned, her out-of-left-field ideas challenged, or her erratic and often unsafe behavior (drunk driving, blackouts, keeping of questionable company) pointed out or labeled unacceptable.  Part and parcel of this rage was being labeled as an "unsupportive" individual (my wife's version of the antichrist, apparently), and being castigated accordingly as the reason why her plans, ideas, and overall behaviors never reached any type of productive fruition. Defend myself?  That would be unsupportive of her "right to be heard".  Invoke my own "right to be heard"? - I'd better be just be quiet lest I be accused of "hijacking" a "conversation" about "her needs".  "MY needs"? Those can only be considered when SHE is content and supported.  Damn.  I realize as I type these words that I should have seen it coming all those years ago.

However (hindsight STILL being 20/20), I realize with a fair amount of clarity that I myself enabled this behavior on her end from early on and right up to the present.  I wanted to be a "nice guy", and the last thing a nice guy wants to be is "unsupportive".  I remember thinking "If I just ______ like she told me to, she'll be happy / stop bitching / etc.  If I just help her achieve _________ , she'll be content.  If I just give her _______ , she'll finally be satisfied."  Well, she never WAS "happy, content, or satisfied" - at least for more than a very short period in our years together - regardless of how "supportive" I tried to be.  I have "supported" her through three children - conceived on her terms and on her timeframe. NUMEROUS "girls trips", new cars, weekend adventures, trinkets, furniture, appliances.  Two and counting career changes and back-to-school trips while my own personal career advancement stagnates so that I can stay home and watch the kids while she gets additional education (and incurs MORE debt) to be SOMETHING ELSE when she "grows up".  Sometimes I feel like jimmy Stewart's character in "It's A Wonderful Life" - holding down the fort at the old Building And Loan while everyone else goes on to pursue their dreams!

And while she always seemed more than able to forget about mundane things such as paying bills, showing up on time, getting groceries, or remembering simple things, she seemed to maintain a PERFECT memory of EVERY incident in which she felt wronged or "unsupported" by me, and seemed incapable of letting ANYTHING be forgiven.  Each new argument or spat resulted in me not only having to make amends for my most current offenses, but for ALL prior offenses.  Physical intimacy was put on hold again and again and again as she held on to old, unsettled scores until she felt she could be "close" to me once more.  On the flip side, I found her lack of tact and understanding of basic social cues and etiquette to be baffling. Simply NO filter there AT ALL.   If "offended", she seemed to feel entitled to WHATEVER response, the feelings of others be damned.  Yet, if SHE were the one at fault, the issue HAD to be approached in a "supportive" manner delivered on a silver platter and guilded by sunshine and rainbows.  MY needs, concerns, feelings, and happiness could ONLY be discussed when HER concerns, feelings, and happiness were where she needed them to be.  I began to withdraw from her simply to avoid hassle, criticism, and argument.  I would be dishonest about money I spent on my OWN hobbies and interests for the same reason, even as we struggled with the expenses of three young kids - again just to avoid hassle.  Because I was dishonest (and I WAS dishonest), SHE insisted on TOTAL control of my direct deposit (my paycheck must be deposited directly into our joint account with the amount of deposit verified by my employer's HR department for the purpose of "building trust") as well as her insisting on managing and paying ALL of the bills . And she has had a really hard time remembering to do that.  ESPECIALLY when she is hyperfocused on something else, which is most of the time.  We have "late" notices from somewhere every month.

I look back and see the pattern so clearly from my present position: A never ending series of hyperfocused schemes, ideas, wants, and needs on HER part, exacerbated by MY enabling attempts to be "supportive" (and thereby avoid hassle or criticism) on MY part.  A pattern of hyperfocus on new pets, new vehicles, exciting trips and fun adventures, parties and get-togethers with her friends, better houses, better jobs, new careers, more school, more kids, all of the things she "imagined" her life to be when she was a child,  etc. - ALL forgotten or abandoned at some point in favor of something newer, better, or more exciting, with me being labeled "unsupportive" and faced with her "rage of entitlement" if I was not in agreement with her pursuits.

It was, and still is, maddening. Soul-crushing.  Crazy Making.

We HAVE done marriage counseling.  It worked in that we have developed a "code word" for my wife to STOP physically following me (as far as into the yard) as I try to disengage from arguments when I really CANNOT hear what she is saying.  It worked as well in that it gave me enough insight into myself that I can view my own behavior much more mindfully, reflectively, and objectively.  It was less than successful in that I think my wife took from it that the "issues" are mine, since I was the one who did most of the talking during the sessions.

And as I type these words - while my children sleep upstairs and my wife is out at the bars "taking a break" from the classwork associated with her MOST RECENT career change - I realize that the sad numbness I feel inside because of the present situation at this point is rivaled only by a perfect feeling of loneliness in relation to the future.  But mixed with that is a feeling of mild relief.  And maybe even a bit of optimism.

It's going to be a long road, but I think it is the ONLY road.  After a deep breath, I have taken my first steps.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

You matter

I read this all and can relate.  It sounds like you have been patient and tried and forgiving and hopeful for so long that if you don't do something you will lose your self.  People need love.  Love that gives back to you. Love you can trust. Not just empty words but actions that say "You matter".

Much like Jenna, as Im a wife too

Oh, can I relate. My husband makes good money, yet we're always broke. Early on in the marriage, I was completely perplexed how he'd burn through his paycheck then come looking for mine after I'd already paid the portion of bills I'd agreed to. There were credit cards I had no idea about to augment his wants. Nothing can ever be his fault. Sex?? What is that? Didn't matter the method I used to approach, it wasn't happening. Since it's not public knowledge that happens to women I felt like a freak. Best part about the financial stuff? When bills were paid late or not at all, he blamed me. Wtf. We are in such a financial mess of his doing it isn't even funny. Ill be surprised if we don't lose our home soon. If we did, he would blame me. I remember going through weeks on end where major purchases I had no idea about showed up at our home. I also tried protecting the children from the behavior. Truly a nightmare when the one you love does this. I am also riddled with embarrassment when women talk about romantic honeymoons. Mine was sexless. All my husband wanted to do was run off and spend money after I'd carefully budgeted for it. The lies, oh the lies. Worst part was I began to lie too eventually just to get a minimum of my needs met.

Bilf - One thing that

Bilf -

One thing that surprised (but also relieved) me to read on these forums is the LACK of sex received by the non-ADHD spouse.  And here I thought it was just me.  I'm glad I found this place, and thank you for your response.

Oh yes..

The sexless honeymoon was just the start of the lack of sex. Any time I tried approaching a solution (knowing this was totally abnormal) what I got was blame for why it was my fault. At first I believed him. After making every adjustment he suggested, I finally realized it was all just another lie. Another place he'd never take responsibility. He eventually fessed to the fact, "what if he couldn't do it". Well he has plenty of energy for any other activity that interests him. Hours spent on them. No idea why you'd torture your wife with saying it's her fault she gets no sex.

ADHD or Bi-Polar?

Zombie,

Has your wife been formally diagnosed with ADHD? I know that the symptoms of ADHD and Bi-Polar mimic each other, but your laying out of events seems very much like Bi-Polar. The binging and mania fueled episodes are very troubling. From what I understand, Bi-Polar seems to be more prevalent in women.

Other than that, I don't know what else to say. I'm not a proponent of divorce unless there is abuse (physical/alcohol/drugs) or persistent cheating. I certainly agree that there are some major inequalities in your marriage. I'm sorry that counseling did not help more; it has been a life line for me and my ADHD hubby, but he wants to make our marriage work and though sometimes it takes time, he knows that changes need to be made on his part in order for us to be successful. It seems that your wife as a flagrant disregard for your happiness as well as the wellbeing of your children. Even if she is not Bi-Polar, there is definitely a secondary mental disorder going on in addition to the ADHD.

I understand some of your frustration regarding money. If your wife cannot remember to pay the bills, then she doesn't need to be in charge. My husband used to be of the mind that he was the man of the house and he should pay the bills (like his dad), but I pushed back at him on that because he could never pay them on time. He's eventually given in and sees that it's easier for me to handle it because I excel in the area and he doesn't. He does seem to be getting a little more responsible and as that increases, then I am willing to have more faith in him. Currently, we don't share bank accounts because of some past indiscretions on his part. I have, however, recently thought about putting his name on the account and on checks, though I have no intentions of giving him an ATM card. That's just not a good thing for him. I'm not very methodical in keeping my bank records, but I at least know what's in there on the whole. He just swipes first and then asks questions later. Lol. He can be trusted with one temporarily, but not on the whole. Not yet, anyways.

I'm sorry that things are so difficult for you. I truly hope you can work things out, but it sounds like you've made up your mind. In any case, we're here for you. Best of luck to you.

 

Dazed - Yes, my wife has been

Dazed -

Yes, my wife has been professionally diagnosed.  I suppose "manic" was a bit of a poor choice of wording in my initial description of her behaviors, although her hyperfocus on whatever happens to have gotten her attention for the short term sometimes does seem obsessive to the point of mental dysfunction.  FWIW, my wife and I BOTH have professional / educational backgrounds in the mental health field, so we are pretty familiar with the various diagnoses and their symptoms.  I have wondered about BiPolar in regards to her before.  Working in the mental health field HAS been a bit of a curse, however, as she seems quite keen to diagnose ME with various illnesses from time to time, although usually only after I have said something to her she doesn't like. lol.

She IS a very kind and loving mother with our three kids.  I never meant to imply otherwise. 

It has been about a month since "the bill incident" -  the final straw that precipitated my "I'm through" moment in my original post.  Shortly before that she decided she wanted to change careers and go back to school, which I was "supportive" of, (while thinking to myself "what will she want to be NEXT year?") and agreed to take on the role of basically being a single Dad so she could go to class and study and be successful in her coursework.  (I have never "thrown this up in her face" and don't intend to - feeling that her career change would be financially beneficial to her (and by extension our kids) if / when our marriage ended.)  So during the time since my "I'm DONE" moment, our availability toward each other has been limited to taking turns with the kids seperately while living in a relatively tense "roommate" situation.  We were well into that direction anyway as I think I have spent maybe TWO nights in "our" bed in the past year - my "normal" spot to sleep is on the couch downstairs and I even keep my laundry stashed down there.  There is nothing that is "mine" anymore in the master bedroom.

This "tense" situation has been difficult, but I feel I have made some progress and gained some introspection as of late, and changed some of my OWN behaviors that certainly contributed to the grudges she seems to hold onto FOREVER. 

For example:when she was out at the bars until 3:30 am a couple of weekends ago (while I'm watching the kids all weekend and almost every weeknight so she can go to class / study) I was initially very angry to wake up at 2 am to our 2 year old crying and to find her still out on the town and NOT answering her phone.  Worried - I waited up for her.  When she arrived, I explained to her that I was 1) worried , 2) frustrated that she didn't answer the phone when we had a kid who was under the weather, and 3)kind of sad that it wasn't ME she was staying up for and that I was sad about our relationship.  I told her this calmly - no argument, no indication of anger or resentment.  The fact that this did not erupt into a fight was a HUGE step forward and I was proud of myself for not reacting in an accusatory,resentful, or angry way. 

She "asked" if she could go out again the very next Friday as she had an old college friend coming into town and I was again "supportive".  I invited her to have a talk and a glass of wine in between these two outings which rapidly degenerated into a hashing out of old grudges on her part, but did not escalate into defensiveness or an argument on mine, just a "thanks for talking" and my disapointed retirement to the downstairs couch. 

Today our kindergartener became sick at school and my wife could not be reached.  I DID get the call, however, and left work to get him, attempting to call my wife and texting her as well.  No response from my wife as I checked him out, took him to the doctor, took him home, made him comfortable, made plans for coverage at my job, etc..  Almost two hours later my wife finally calls back - she had "left her phone laying" at work and forgotten about it - resulting in her missing the calls.  I chose not to be frustrated about it - about the facts that it is REALLY hard for me to be off of work - let alone leave suddenly in the middle of the day, or that I had to pick up the slack (again) for her "forgetting" her phone, or the thought of what would have happened if I'd NOT Picked up the slack - which would have been our little boy sitting sick and scared and crying in the school clinic.  Instead, I reacted calmly.  When she got home she apologized for "letting me down".  I said "thanks" and gave her a brief hug, which she stiffened away from - an action that has become her pattern and is celarly and admittedly a result of her inability to let go of past fights.  Then again - I'm working on MY reactions to MY feelings and think that I've done well - at least not giving her any NEW grudges to hold.

I have come to believe that her grudge-holding is as much a factor in our current situation as her impulsive, unreliable, scatterbrained-type behaviors.  She holds onto her resentment like a leprachaun guards his gold.  All of the times I have been "unsupportive" of her desires, all of the times I have been "emotionally abusive" (to qualify - we have had some BIG fights in the past - I have raised my voice AND used profanity in the heat of the moment AND said some things she didn't want to hear related to her own behavior - usually after I have tried to END the argument by walking away only to be followed by her so she can exercise her "right to be heard RIGHT THEN" but I DO NOT see it as intentionally inflicted "emotional abuse" and have told her that - which she sees as FURTHER emotional abuse.), all the times I didn't "encourage her dreams" - she hoards it.  Nurses it. Seems incapable of divesting herself FROM it.  And feels entirely justified in that.  It stays there simmering, reigniting at a moments notice and clouding EVERYTHING in the resultant smoke.

Much of my OWN resentment comes from this, as it seems that any spontaneous enjoyment we find ourselves sharing suddenly becomes derailed when she starts "remembering" past fights and becomes distant once again - saying, essentially, "This fun time we are having can't be legitimate because you have hurt me in the past and I'm just waiting for you to hurt me in the future".  No matter that most of the "issues" came from her own extreme defensiveness and sense of entitlement - precipitated by her OWN unreliable, impulsive, and tactless behaviors (which I am not allowed to bring up!)!  This same pattern has RUINED our intimate life.  She can't "be close" to me when she is "just waiting for the next fight" - which, of course, contributes to the "next fight".  I HATE trying to hug her and feeling her stiffen and recoil. Trying to kiss her playfully and being met by tight, pursed lips.  I HATED knowing she was not into it when we still HAD sex.  I THOUGHT I could go without touch but it's no way to live.  I feel like, in this marriage, I am little more than a walking manila folder packed full of long lists of greivances, offenses, and word-for-word transcripts of all past disagreements with the BEST and most damning parts highlighted.  It's maddening and has really made me start to think I must be a really shitty person.  Luckily - my kids make me think otherwise.

A few months ago I attempted to remove myself from an argument (per the protocols established during our marriage counseling, no less) to prevent it's escalation - only to have her pursue me through the house and into the garage.  I DID remind her that I was following our agreed upon protocol but she continued the pursuit and the argument.  I DID become angry, yell, and use profanity.  What I did not know was that she was RECORDING it on her phone!  Our oldest kid uncovered it just the other day by accident.  I imagine my wife had been replaying it over and over to herself and when I asked her why she had it she said she wanted to play it for our marriage counselor if we ever went back.  My first thought was that I would NOT stand for that as it is NOT the purpose of MC to "present evidence" as part of some kind of trial - especially as a portion of an explosive argument (which I had tried in good faith to end BEFORE it devolved into profanity) recorded without the benefit of context!  With my wife demonstrating THAT type of mindset after two years (on and off) of MC, I;m not very optomistic that MC is going to do much more good anyway - although she DID tell me this weekend she wanted to go "one more time".

It's a crazy way to live.  In the course of a half hour I'll go from feeling like I love her and will do anything to work it out to feeling like I must be CRAZY to think there is ANY way of working it out because I can't STAND her anymore to thinking about how convenient it would be for me to just get run over by a train.

Sorry for another RAMBLING post.