Having only recently read "The ADHD Effect on Marriage" I am currently working through the anger and resentment that has built up over 20 years and 17 years of diagnosed and untreated ADHD. The book has helped me understand my responses to ADHD symptoms and the significant impact they've had on our relationship, but there is one concept I am struggling with...the idea that "I respect my spouse's inherent right to make his or her own decisions and live by the consequences, whether I like what what he or she is doing." My wife already lives with many of the consequences of her actions that might be frustrating to me but are not a huge problem, but I would love for my wife to live with the consequences of her actions around chronic overspending and lack of involvement in the finances. I have owned the consequences our entire married lives and don't really see a way out of owning that because no one will ever convince me that living beyond one's means is prudent or justified. Although mostly unknown to me before we got married, it is clear in hindsight that my wife's behavior was well entrenched when she entered the marriage. I ultimately took over the finances for two reasons: 1.) I did not have the money to continually pay off hundreds of dollars of overdraft charges on my wife's checking account and 2.) I knew my wife came to the marriage with some debts (ultimately created by her ex-husband...at least he got the blame), but did not know the extent of the debt until after we got married. If I didn't take over, I feared that we would never get out from under it. As it was, the extent of the debt took more than 10 years to pay off.
Since I found out about her significant debt, she has retreated from any financial responsibility or accountability our entire married lives. She won't engage in any capacity where I end up managing the finances alone. From my perspective, her only relationship with money relates to spending. She does work and contributes about 25% to our monthly income, but has no interest in what she makes or when she gets paid. She avoids budgets, income, account balances, savings goals and will not engage in how spending directly impacts our entire financial picture. Our chronic disconnect on finances is what finally pushed me to force us to see a marriage counselor (that's how I see it). After 18 years, I was exhausted by her single response of "I don't spend much money" when the topic of money comes up. I can't understand why she doesn't recognize or acknowledge that the mortgage, car payments, insurance and utilities are spending. The only spending she has any recognition of is related to having fun in a retail setting or going out to a restaurant. In understand that my wife can be impulsive, but I am struggling to understand how ADHD plays into spending without any appreciation, recognition or knowledge for how spending impacts our overall finances. As an aside, there is no question this ADHD symptom and our respective responses have set up a parent-child dynamic in our marriage where I have continually wondered "where is the partner I thought I married?"
If any other couples have dealt with chronic overspending and total lack of involvement of an ADHD partner in the finances, I would love to get your perspective(s). Whether you were the one spending or the one managing the spending, if you have direct experience to share, I am hoping to better understand 1.) the mindset of someone with ADHD as it relates to spending 2.) what blocks someone with ADHD from engagement with the finances and 3.) any strategies you've used to come together on the finances.
Any insights or experiences are appreciated. I will also plan to share some updates as we move forward in this journey because right now I don't see a way out of living with the consequences of my wife's overspending.