Over 35 years of marriage to ADD husband

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

I could have written a lot of

I could have written a lot of this myself.  Thank you for sharing, and best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

wow, I printed ,

wow I printed this forum,I can't imagine how you did not know something was wrong with your ADHD husband before,that sounds like a long term never ending suffering,and believe me I've suffered,I've suffered 1 year 3 months and ready to run like forest Gump,but I admire you for your strength and courage, of the many things I pray for alot and you have that,wow!,I really do admire you!

I realized something similar a couple of weeks ago

I looked at my husband and I got scared. I'm not scared of him, he's the mildest, gentlest man I know.

But I realized he was no more use to me than my dog is. In fact, there are a lot of similarities. Both are fun to have around and good company. I have to take care of both of them. I have to pay for their food, provide a home for them, pay for their medical care. They are both totally dependent on me.

That is not what I want in a spouse. I want a partner who will work along side me to make a good life for us both. I will work but I want him to work too. If he can't do that, I at least want someone who will maintain my home in livable condition to free my time up to work to support us. I'm tired of stuff being broken and lost because no one takes care of it.

It isn't flattering to compare my husband to my dog. We have no financial security. I will never be able to retire. I'll still be working when I'm 75. And I am so tired I want to collapse. But if I do, I'll just fall into a heap. No one will be there to catch me. No one will be ever there to catch me again.




well most that you have mentioned I've done,I took care of my ADHD husband,I took care of him while he slept in till 11:Am on mornings,still washed,cook and financially supported him for 4 to 5 months when we first got married,I got so fed up of doing it ,but,I loved him so much and the only thing I was focused on at that point was love,then he betrayed me and got his job,found an apartment and left me to fend for my own self and now he would not support me at all financially.His big game he plays with me to get out of self-unworthiness is that "I used him",I am still grieving over the fact he betrayed me and then he would come and pile up so many other things on top of that,that I can't even think straight lately.what if we were living together,I would imagine that he would have me paying all the bills while he won't or procrastinate.I have been reading a lot of blogs here and the women are facing alot of financial difficulties regarding their ADHD husband's paying the bills on time or even getting them done at all,and now I am very happy I don't live with my ADHD husband.

I hear you

I would sometimes wonder if my ADD spouse had a heart and soul or if there was something missing in there that I was trying so hard to reach.  He just doesn't share things about himself.  He just distracts himself with little "games".

I am sorry for what you have been through...

I am an ADDer who is just about 3 years post diagnosis. I was 43 and things seemed to be in a death spiral in my 13 year marriage. I was very surprised by the diagnosis because I knew nothing about ADD other than the stereotypes. Finally so many things made sense about my life. I responded well to Adderall, I now exercise regularly, I read and post a lot here about ADD and it's terrible effects on the ADDer's and the Non-ADDer's. Your post reminds me very much of what my step-mom thought about my dad. She had finally come to the conclusion that my dad was a narcissist. When I began to tell her about the long term affects of unknown ADD on a person and all the reasons my dad's behaviors were explained by an ADD diagnosis. He was JUST like me and I told him all about why I thought he was every bit as ADD as me. My dad will never follow up with a doctor to confirm my thoughts, but I think the knowledge helps as much as the meds.

Does your husband know what he is dealing with? It would still take a lot of work on his part to re-work a lifetime of bad coping skills, even with the help of the meds. It is not too late for change, but it takes so much work from both the ADDer and Non-ADDer. I cannot even begin to imagine how much damage the ADD had done to you and your husband. Sometimes I don't know if too much damage has been done to my own marriage, but I keep working on myself and trying to un-do as much of the ADD damage as I can.

I thought that your post was very good. You have come to the right place to help work through some of your thoughts. There are many great folks on this site that have helped me and I know they can do the same for you.

Such a long time

Thank you for responding.  Just being heard and having other people write about the confusion with the same sets of frustrations is helpful.


jennalemon,  I have ADHD and I take absolutely no offense to  what you have written.  Don't feel bad about the decision you made to leave, feel liberated.  Feel smart.  You now understand the reality that he never will.  I am him and my husband is you.  I don't want anyone to have to go through what you and your children have gone through but your story and the stories of others on this website made me change.  Thank you for sharing.  

You are not a "nagging victim": you are a victim.  You don't need to be "fixed":  you need to be found.  Try to only fear what your life would be like if you stayed in your situation.  What a strong woman you are. 

I try not to be defined by ADHD,  you shouldn't have to be defined by it either.


I am happy to see you on this site trying so hard and accepting so much.  Helping us confused spouses.  Trying to fill in the questions we want so badly.  Thank you for responding and caring. Keep up the work.