This is for all those in relationships in which the ADHD person does not want to try to do better and is angry and verbally attacks the non-ADHD for asking for some cooperation and consideration. This is also for those who have ADHD to encourage you to keep up with your efforts and let your efforts be known to us so we can both appreciate each other. Don't let a relationship go on for a lifetime of distraction, heart ache, denial and finally resentment.
We have been married for over 35 years. I thought my hard work and persistence was a good thing - keeping it all together. I thought if I only filled in the spaces and adjusted my expectations, had patience, have open discussions and tried to understand that I would be loved and it would work out. I am angry at myself now for letting myself down. I was once a happy, "together", fun, ambitious, partnering type of person. Now I think of myself as hurt, unappreciated, nagging victim. If you try to do this for that long, you will think of yourself as both a nag/bitch AND a victim. Do NOT let him start his own business with no one to answer to but himself. Do NOT take ANYTHING personal. It is not personal for him. Your tears, your attempts at connection, your feelings will not affect him. He will forget that you asked him to do/not do things that mean everything to you. He will one day deny the promises he is making today. Do NOT have combined checking and savings accounts. You will end up paying the bills and he will have excuses. Expect to make all the plans yourself - financially, spiritually, socially, parentally. Expect him to visit those plans when it suits him. Expect him to stay a juvenile into his sixties. Expect him to have unconditional love for his children - because he can't tell them to be responsible, loving, focused since he is not those things himself. So you must be the strong parent to them and to him and for yourself. Then, at 60, he will be the fun one, the one that forgot/didn't have? all the pain and work that was your marriage. People will wonder what is wrong with you to be unhappy. YOU will wonder what happened to you and what happened to your confidence in yourself. He will be full of himself for accomplishing so much (that you did and supported him to do). No one will realize how alone/ignored you have been and what you have given so that you could "make it work together". And one day, he will say the words to you in anger, "What did you EVER do for me?". He doesn't recall all I did all those years. And you will always wonder who he is with because you cannot trust him. He can be charming for short amounts of time. He makes a great sales person when focused on a sale of any kind.
- Give him one thing to do each day to help you out. You may need to set it out for him and clean up after him or finish the job. That is all he can handle - ONE thing. (He may despise you for this but he will forget that he despises you). Eventually you will be the one earning the money and paying the bills - You won't know what he does all day but when it comes time to pay the insurance or the taxes, he will shrug and say the economy is bad and he is a little short - that is as far as he is able to ponder this problem. Now it is your problem. You will have to find some money.
- Don't believe his faith in himself for the future - his thinking is distorted. You want to believe him. Unless you have inheritance, simplify your life. Don't buy a big house that you will have to keep up/work full time/manage the house/manage the kids/pay taxes on while trying to accept that he can't do but one thing at a time and slowly at that, while you RUN through your day and use Franklin Planner to get the many things that have to be done in a day complete - taking up his slack.
- Keep all inheritance money in a separate account - do not mix it with your personal account - you will need it for yourself and/or your kids one day. If it is mixed, he has equal rights to it. He may be working to support the family today but eventually he will work less and less until one day you wake up and he resents YOU for taking control and making him look bad to himself. AND you will become an enabler (now that has become a bad thing in the psych community).
- Your friends and family are your family. He will do what he pleases and when it pleases him. Sometimes he will "feel like" being a husband and father - but you can't count on it if there is anything more fun going on at the moment.
He will resent YOU for having been witness to his failings. There is no guilt or shame because in his mind, he does not recall being anything but hardworking and attentive. I have let my grown kids down. Now I realize I have been working so hard to support him and compromise for him that I was not being strong for my kids or showing them how to be strong in the face of partnership with someone who refuses to/can't? partner. We never fought in front of the kids. I backed down and stuffed it and compromised. Fixing it is not just around the corner. All you can hope for is to accommodate his lack and make up for it yourself and in the end realize you are alone and you are both resentful.
To those of you who are on this site and have ADHD, I imagine you are working with to-do lists and schedules and are learning how to contribute to your relationships and come through with your promises. Please know that you are different from my husband. My husband gave up on himself over 20 years ago. I didn't get it that he is probably ADHD until just recently. I thought he was being a lazy jerk - I didn't know. But for me, too much has happened, too many words said in anger, too many promises not kept, too much history has been "manipulated" for too long. Please continue with the extra work and effort you are doing and remind your spouses what you are all doing toward those ends. This site and learning more about ADHD will help you to not hurt those in your life. Seeing you try hard will make their efforts worthwhile and you can love each other for those efforts.
So there it is. Don't I sound like a nagging victim? Yes, I do. Yes, I am. The only way to fix me now is to leave him. I need fixing. But I am afraid now. Now I have "issues" - lack of confidence in myself, fear of loss, fear of poverty, fear of rejection. AM I codependant? Sounds like it.
OK, I am ready for the avalanche of unhappy readers to come this way. But I wanted to relate what goes on in the head of a non-ADHD when NOTHING is done for over 3 decades while this is a denied problem in a marriage and the ADHD person does nothing but evades and distracts himself from problems.