Physical Connection

There are many issues with my marriage, and most of the severe ones are due to my ADHD. Given this reality the focus is on mitigating my symptoms, and any mental foray into MY complaints seems to be dangerous. It can so easily in discussion go the way of deflecting her concerns or just sound hypocritical. Nevertheless, in the past I cannot remember having any complaints. I simply hid from reality and had neither positive nor negative things to say about the relationship. I'm sure now that this ambivalence is gone.

I'm just starting down this road and it is frustrating. With this new job I am waiting for insurance to kick in to continue experimenting with medication and therapy. I think we need to get into couples therapy to really move forward, but all of that is on hold for the next week or two. So I post here and read books. I was reading a chapter in Melissa's book last night that talked about ways in which each partner might feel unloved. It got me thinking about the relationship and what I wanted from it. I'm the only one who can change me, and changing myself will go an insanely far way towards changing the health of our relationship. Thinking about my concerns as an adult partner(attempting, anyway) would be one of the symptoms of growth. As such I cannot ignore how disconnected I feel. Touch must be my cardinal love language because the lack of it is really getting to me. I understand that the lack of intimacy is largely due to distrust and my appearance of not caring about her, but whatever the cause I'm actually having a real problem with it. I'm not just putting it away and going back to ignorant bliss.

My wife doesn't like to be touched. All day long she is with our three children and much of the day they are climbing on her in one form or another. I'm constantly wanting to cuddle or get close, and she has said that all she wants when they go to sleep is to have her own space. I can get that and hope it will improve with mending our relationship, but she has never been a touchy person. I get the sense that she tolerates me. We will by lying in bed with tablets or laptops after the kids go to sleep, and I will invariably want to wrap my legs up in hers, or attempt some variant of spooning. She plays along with this but doesn't seem to get much of anything out of it. For me these things are like a dripping faucet in the middle of the desert. Once a month we'll have sex (vs 2-3 times a week in better years) and for her it is scratching an itch. All she wants to do is "get there" and all I want to do is prolong the experience. Yeah I'm a guy and I will drop everything at any moment to get laid. This would probably be the case even if we were having daily sex marathons, but these few times are now all about grabbing up any sense of connection possible before another long stint of feeling alone.

I find myself lying awake in the dark thinking about how disconnected I feel from her, and actually hurting emotionally from that. I haven't done this since the depths of depression in 2006-2007 when the nihilism was unavoidable and the pain of feeling nothing was ever-present. Thinking of doing nothing but a half an hour of making out makes me swoon with longing. We haven't kissed with tongue in at least two years, and that time two years ago was an isolated incident in a height of passion.

We aren't cold to one another. Our daily interactions are not hostile or without affection. We'll grope each other jokingly and play around, but in terms of real intimacy where you feel close enough to be one person and feel that vulnerability? No. I hope I can get my shit figured out so she can get to a place where rebuilding that intimacy is possible. I'm not complaining in any way, but I felt the need to express this pain I'm feeling.

Are there any mothers out there who understand her feeling of wanting to be left alone after a day of children constantly in your personal space? If so, did it carry over into intimacy with your partner?

If a woman feels loved

If a woman feels loved by a man that she adores and respects, there is not much that would keep us from spooning and feeling secure in his arms.  It might happen that we are overwhelmed by children pulling on us during the day, but we have options to say to the kids..."Don't pull on mommy".  We would rather be touched by a loving, caring man we respect. We feel lonely without the partner connection. But if there is inequality in the marriage and she is giving more in many ways to the relationship than her spouse, the bedroom is many times the only place where she can feel some self respect by saying "no".  If she has suspicions of inappropriate behavior of her spouse, she doesn't want to associate herself with those behaviors. Why would a woman want to permit a man to have dominion over her in the bedroom after she has spent years supporting him, making a family for him, and then the only time he wants a connection is for his gratification? Women want a man who adores them and shows it in the decisions he makes during the day that support the family and relationship.   Dh expected me to "fill his manly needs" and didn't have a clue about being a man I could adore. He thought it was fun to be the naughty teenager in our relationship. He acted the silly clown thinking that I wouldn't notice that he was not supporting the family in so many ways.  In his mind he chooses to blame me (she is just a cold woman and doesn't want sex or many other blames he can think of) for our lack of intimacy rather than be respectful and someone I would be happy to spoon with. He doesn't want to accept that I miss intimacy just as much as he does.  I yearn, like you, to have the connection with a beloved spouse....but he has not acted like a spouse.  Spooning with him makes me feel used and forgotten like a whore. The touching must feel safe and loving.  Sometimes us women feel more safe and family-like with our children and grandchildren than with the self-serving grown men...the kind of men who want to still be treated like a child but are only contributing to the adult relationship like a child.  Those kind of men seem silly to us. We are not attracted in an intimate way by them unless we are teenagers and young ourselves.  This may be why some men leave their lifetime spouses who have worked FOR HIS OWN family.  A younger woman who wants to play and have sexy fun must seem like a much better option.  He can still be a boy having fun.  It is our sadness that the men we have been devoted to were not able to grow up with us.  We are fun and sexy but when a man is being selfish with his time and energies all day, he does not get to be part of a loving, long time respectable, comforting, intimate, cohesive family. 

The more I think about these

The more I think about these points you bring up the more muddled my thoughts become. From here and other posts it sounds like your husband is really in the depths of his symptoms. Who knows though, maybe every ADHD spouse comes here and thinks, "My god some of these partners are so much worse than I could ever be." We sure are good at distorting reality, but even then I don't think I could push it that far. I know the defensive stance is inadvisable, but I feel like going there so I'm not going to filter myself and just do it.

I'm inattentive and my ability to gloss over stress has lead to her sense that I don't care and that I'm not invested in the relationship. I so much want to fight through that and show her the value I place on it. Physicality is a primary love language for me, but it is also a concrete way to display affection. When we get into fights my brain gets cloudy and doing chores or rushing into some kind of physical labor makes automatic sense. Instead of mulling around in a fog of thoughts it seems easiest to just launch into some activity that benefits the household. In the same way, touch is simple and intuitive. Spooning and stroking her arm is something in front of my face, something that comes from genuine feeling, and something that I hope can be mutually gratifying.
So I really see our disconnect as due to my inattention and inaction rather than any kind of inappropriate pro-active behavior. I don't impulse buy; I don't horde; I don't flirt or cheat; I don't run off with some activity and abandon the household; I don't endanger the children; I don't yell or berate or mock or abuse. I do work very hard to make the income to support us, and working from home I do contribute to the functions of the household in an amount that seems above average. The problem isn't doing nothing to help her, it is forgetting to do this or that thing that cause stress or make plans get strained. If there are 10 tasks to get done I'll space out on number 4 and number 7. When I go to her physically I'm looking for gratification, sure, but not in a "fill my manly needs" way. I'm trying for that connection, and as you said it is hard to make with the lack of trust. We aren't actively trying to have a child and she can't take birth control, so some of this is just being unable to risk it, but I would feel all the connection I need just by being close together. 95% of my gratification is giving her pleasure, but like kissing, she has never been comfortable with that.

I think we are making steps towards rebuilding a sense of trust that will allow for intimacy. At least we have stopped walking backwards. As I said we need to get insurance to kick in so we can go at it with extreme prejudice. It is funny because last night I finished this post and climbed into bed. We each had one Ipad and were looking at houses on Zillow. She was especially cuddly and playful and we were connected for a time. After a while she turned off the light and went to bed. Alone again, fantasizing about tying her down and pleasing her until she can't stand it any longer. How's that for lack of filter?

That language would have

That language would have thrilled me when I was 18.  Now that same language from the father of my children, from the grand dad of my little sweet grand girls.....that is not alluring AT ALL - but scary.  Like I said, if a spouse (male or female) is  wanting that sort of titilation and thinks that this kind of "sweet talk"  as in "tie her down" works with us as mothers and grandmothers...you are still thinking like a teenager and maybe what it is you want is to find a young "girl" who still thinks manhandling is sexy.  The rebel without a cause only works on girls and women who are not grown up yet. We need security and kept promises....not out-of-control man parts. I know you said it to yourself but women know intuitively when hormones are what is driving a man's actions.  As a young girl, hormones were driving my actions too. That's what you do when you are young. A mature woman can tell if her spouse loves her.  We really can "sense" if there is a heart and soul involved in your love making and in your words.   

You are not my dh.  If you are indeed doing the things for the home that you say, you are contributing WAY MORE then my dh.  My dh does not make a living wage and is a hoarder yet thinks he is God's gift to women.   Please remove any association from my writing to you on those accounts.  I guess I was trying to put myself in your wife's shoes and trying to tell you what I /(women) think about when they say "no".

Fantasies are just that,

Fantasies are just that, fantasies. Things like that in the bedroom require an extensive amount of trust, and even if we were up for exploring that kind of intimacy, we aren't even remotely there on the trust meter yet. I guess the reason it crosses my mind is just because of how sparse things have been the last year or so. I believe that these kinds of sexual escapades can exist in a healthy relationship, and that they aren't necessarily the province of the young. I sure hope when we are 60 that things are still interesting in that regard. People are all different, and there is no wrong opinion as long as both partners are on the same page.

To be honest the biggest turn on for me is when there is a lot of heart involved. When we first got together and there was a lot of kissing and caressing in addition to the more carnal activities, it was amazing. This intimacy, wholly separate from any particular sexual act, is the whole reason I posted this topic. It's what I'm talking about. It can exist sitting on a park bench or cuddling in bed or in flagrante delicto.

I don't blame you for putting yourself in my wife's shoes. It is through that kind of sympathy that you and others on this forum provide helpful commentary. We need to get into a couples therapy setting to launch into these issues to avoid immediate assumptions of blame or the frequent misunderstandings, but here I can get third-party assessments that really help clarify my thinking.
After all, despite the discrepancies between your situation and mine, the core issues of inattention, consideration, and support are still there. We both still have relationships unbalanced to a serious degree. We both long for a lost intimacy.

I respect her saying "no," and want to earn the "yes." The only time I'll tie her down is upon her request.

connection

Jack, I don't know if this helps, but from another woman and mother here..

It is great that you want to connect with your wife. Generally, women need for the emotional connection to be ok to want sex, and men often feel the emotional connection during or after sex (the chicken and the egg thing). I am speaking in large generalizations here, but if the emotional thing is not healthy and the trust is not there for women in a long term relationship, enjoying and wanting sex is out the window. Absolutely, I was tired with my small children and work and when my spouse (who has ADHD and with whom the emotional life was not ok) wanted sex, I was not interested and it was partly due to how tired and depleted I felt. But is was mostly because our romantic, emotional, and friendship connection was not ok. 

My spouse was big on making lists to describe the ways he showed his love for me or the things that he did for the family. I feel bad now that he felt he had to, in a defensive way. Unfortunately, they were not the things I needed from him to be emotionally connected to him. Also, his connection to sex and the physicality of it was pretty intense (kind of like your fantasy). I am not saying you are doing this, and there is nothing wrong with it, but he would be at a level 8 when I needed to repair and rebuild things and start at a level 2 and keep it there for a very long time. He had a tendency to fixate and obsess about things, and sex could be one of them, and I felt a lot of subconscious pressure about it, even when he didn't say it out loud. 

If it were me, I would consider some serious marriage counseling or the like, put all of your energy into rebuilding the trust, and put the sex thing on hold for a while. Ask her what she wants and needs and then do it. Sex may come, but it may not be there until the rest of the stuff gets worked out. 

My best to you. You sound like you love your wife and want your relationship to be better. I wish you the best in your endeavors. 

 

 

Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this comment, it really solidified a few things for me. First you talk about the emotional connect. Women before, men during. That is a much better descriptor of what I was trying to get across. Second, I like the way you expressed the levels. I think maybe for guys if there is a dearth of connection it just makes sense to ratchet up the intensity of the few sessions that do happen. I suppose I was doing this in fantasy. Fortunately that is isolated to day-dreams, and not a pressing goal in real life. I'd say we operate at about a 4, with the occasional 7. When we first got together almost every waking moment for about two weeks straight was turned up to 11. I don't really want to go back to that, and I really do not have an agenda. If we can feel more connected in any manner that is my only goal.

This thread has turned to a lot of sexual discussion, which is fine but in a certain sense it is not addressing the key point of feeling a bond with your spouse. If we could cuddle, hold hands, be flirty, or just feel together in something more then I would be equally pleased. Again, I don't think addressing our sex life should be a goal in this beginning of treatment. It will largely improve as the health of the overall relationship improves, so the focus is on trust, consideration, and companionship. Setting up marriage counseling is my primary goal  for the next few weeks. Before I changed jobs recently we were both seeing the same psychologist individually, so I hope that leads to a good deal of insight in group sessions.

A few thoughts

Yeah, though it was a long time ago, when I was working full time, had two small children, and did all the housework, renovating a house and running a business, we did frequently go weeks without sex, because I was falling into bed, AND I wasn't being dated, or flirted with, or feeling like a "woman" just a mom and worker.  Experts say you should schedule it, but I think you schedule date night or play afternoon first, to get connected in a fun way.   I'm sure he had similar feelings of being tired from work and raising kids.  However, every couple ADD or not, needs to know things get a lot more fun in the bedroom when the kids stop coming into your room on a whim. ;)  And even better when they go away to college!

I totally get lots of ADHD spouses feel so disconnected from or angry with or hurt by their spouses they cannot be intimate with them, and I am not writing here to imply they need to change that for any reason.  Everybody's trust is their own.  My anger, hurt, disappointment, loneliness, yada yada yada, might fade away more quickly, because we still are intimate 1-2 times per week in our mid-50's. 

ADD has never really affected our intimate life -- that's one of the few times I feel like my guy is paying attention to me, :)  though he can't tolerate lights, music or anything "distracting".  We are grandparents now, and still have plenty of fun and try new things we both are comfortable with -- that doesn't have to go away with age.   Just another experience for consideration. 

Boy it sounds like you are frequently on good, comfortable, friendly terms...which ought to mean the barriers to intimacy are low.   I've read many of your posts and you may be having a little trouble reading signals... Are you making a pass and getting rejected outright?  Or just not getting a swooning response so you're not sure, not confident you'll be accepted?    Are you quite sure you are interpreting her "plays along with this but doesn't seem to get much of anything out of it" response correctly?  I'm just wondering if maybe you're lying there feeling lonely, and so is she.  Weirder things have happened in every marriage.  And on the flip side, would you recognize a invitation from her if you saw it?  My guy has dropped many a ball I lobbed his way, and when I ask the next morning if he was tired, or not feeling well, he is astonished (and bummed because he missed out) because I was WAY too subtle to get his attention.  This is an attention disorder after all.  He would much rather I say "Hey, wanna have sex?"  Ahhh, romance. 

You might ask directly, have you ever invited me to have sex and I missed the cue?  Have you ever wished I'd initiate lovemaking but didn't, so you went to sleep?  It truly is okay to ask this stuff.  Truly.  Best wishes.

I think some of it is a

I think some of it is a disparity between our sex drives. She doesn't seem to want it very much, which again has a lot to do with our discord. If anything my sex drive is more intense that it ever has been.

There is miscommunication in our marriage but I don't think initiating sex is one arena where that is a problem. The sense is that I'm ready to go whenever, and she initiates when she feels like it. Most of the time she literally says, "Wanna do it?" Every so often I will make a move, and these days almost invariably this just annoys her and goes nowhere. I'm sure one of her problems is that there is little to no romancing. I'm not really sure how to set the mood. A few weeks ago we had wine, hors d'oeuvres, and good candlelit discussion in a hot bath.  We got out, put on pajamas, got in bed and did relaxation time with books or tablets, and then we got busy before sleep when she asked. I totally want to be romantic, but it is really unclear how to initiate this. In the bathtime scenario, going from discussion to kissing would be the natural thing, but she doesn't like that. I never start things by groping her, its always a massage or cuddling. I always end up looking like the horny guy who just wants to get laid, so mostly I just wait for her initiation. Shes looking for some mood setter to start having sex, and prefers to be essentially businesslike during. I'm ready/wanting to start whenever, and I'm wanting to get romantic and connected during a longer experience. I get the sense that we have sex when she feels like its been too long without it. Like I said, she scratches that itch and then goes about her business. I know for a fact that there are solo orgasms between our sessions, and I feel then like shes withholding as punishment.

We go on a date night once a month or so, but it is really limited to when grandparents happen to be in town. She won't trust even extended family members with watching them (which as you probably know amounts to sitting there in case they wake up, which for us is never). There has been more than one date night in recent months where we had a good time, came home, and never got down to it.
The ironic thing is that I'm hotter than I've ever been. I'm 6'4 and when we married I was around 210lbs. Now I'm 175 and have muscle tone thanks to our workouts at the Y. She is bouncing back as always from the latest pregnancy and getting into her size 0 clothes. I ogle my wife even more now than I did when we met, and the random hot girl walking down the street ain't got nothing on her. For the first time in my life I'm proud of my physique, but it seems to have no bearing on her desire.

We'd probably be having more sex if there were a male birth control pill. She can't even take the low dosage pills due to bad mood reactions. We have just a little bit of experience with reproduction (/sarcasm) so she can totally map out her cycle and take temperature readings to know when she's ovulated. It still leaves large chunks of time where her conception of sex is impossible, and this time she didn't even bother to do that, so there's no "safe zone."

It is entirely possible that I'm missing or mis-reading signals, but I'm pretty sure instances where she was ready to go and I missed it are few and far between. She's blunt and pragmatic about sex. As I said, she just asks.

This is something that does bother me, but in my opinion sex is a reflection of the health of the relationship so it isn't the biggest fish to fry. Melissa says something about it being one of the last things to work on. I just wish it could be part of the toolkit to get to better intimacy and trust, rather than an artifact of that journey. Maybe I'm just being a stereotypical guy, but connected sex is a huge part of loving and feeling loved.

Dear Jack

Jack, you seem to ask for women's opinions, and then offer rebuttals as to why they don't apply. I think you mean well, but I think you are totally missing the boat on a women's sex drive.

Let's first note the biggie: If she has young kids, she is tired. Know what turns a woman with young kids on more than anything??? A daddy who says, "Hey kids! Come do something fun with daddy all evening. Then let daddy get you ready for bed and read you a story!" Then go to bed with her and excitedly tell her all the fun things the kids said and did. Do this at least weekly. And no hedging! Don't tell me how you already do some portion of this -- it is an all or nothing thing so your wife sees YOU plan it and YOU carry it out without her having to be the coach, giving her a complete break. Try to enjoy touching and being physical with the kids, meeting some of your touch needs for yourself. My father used to love to lay in the living room floor and let the grandkids crawl all over him while he played with them. All satisfying touch doesn't have to be sexual.

Second: Ever heard of sublimation? Substituting some other activities for sex? You need to do this to take the pressure off of her. Pressured sex ain't no fun. Again, if you don't have a sitter, take the family to the park. Go for a walk together and hold her hand every once in a while. Take the group to MacDonalds and let them play on the equipment. Just do something with your family and be with her in ways that couldn't possibly involve sex. Hold her hand briefly, but not as if your life depends on it. Playfully. Just for fun. Or just let her initiate all touch (but you must respond -- not punish). Women like to flirt for flirting's sake -- they enjoy the chase just like a man does!

Third: The possibility of an unexpected pregnancy is the BIGGEST TURNOFF in the world! And if she is responsible for the birth control, how could you expect her to be relaxed? You personally need to take TOTAL control of the birth control -- i.e., you have condoms and such available within reach at all times and you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS put them on before she has to remind you or even think about reminding you. And YOU are always careful. Your cavalier attitude about her getting pregnant again so you can enjoy some intimacy shows how clueless you are in this area. Men don't like condoms, but they are better than no sex, right? And then she doesn't have to take responsibility (again) for the cleanup -- you do.

And finally, you keep referring to a lack of trust. A woman absolutely must be able to trust her man to enjoy intimacy with him. I know men don't understand this, but the ones who just accept it as gospel truth probably get more sex. You need to read and read and read and read everything you can about how a woman feels about sex. Men are sexually driven by hormones, but women are driven more by what is going on in their thoughts about the man they are with. Only when she feels she can really depend on you will she relax in your arms and truly enjoy your touch.

Ask her to recommend some books that express how she feels. Then sit on the couch and read a little each night and talk about what you read. And listen to her. Just because you feel passion and connection so strongly from sex is no indication that women feel the same. Sex for an adult women is usually (speaking for myself, but I think this is typical) a sign that she feels secure with her husband.

But I hate to say this -- I bet you won't try any of this. I bet you have really good reasons why you will continue to do the same things you are now doing and will  just try to force them to work, cause that is what is normal for YOU. 

I'm really not trying to make

I'm really not trying to make this a point-counterpoint argumentative interaction. If my responses have been rebuttals then I have failed to set the correct tone. I really do appreciate the opinions being offered, and more critical comments are the most helpful. A comment like yours is much more likely to make me stop in my tracks and have a little introspection instead of launching into a reply immediately. I'm trying to come here honestly, and talk things out with sincerity. None of us really know one another, so what I'm really trying to do in response is give a clearer picture of my situation and fill in the blanks. If I don't do that, then you all just have to assume the gaps based on your interpretation. Of course, it is all reality as I see it, which isn't all that reliable, but again I'm coming to this forum with the goal of being as truthful and blunt as I can be.

We are both tired a lot of the time, and she almost never gets a 100% break. I have work during the week that is mostly kidless, but she doesn't have something like that. I'm sure that is a biggie to address. The only time I can think of where she gets a total break is Sunday afternoons, when I often take all the kids to the gym and work out. I do play with the kids every day and get satisfying touch through that, but I think I should play with them more.

I've pretty much stopped any advances, and I'd be really surprised if we have ever had sex that she felt pressured into. She is a strong woman, and generally only does things when she damn well feels like it. But I take your point in the sense that stressing the issue of our sexlife is counter-productive. Unfortunately I think the same troubles hinder displays of affection, she doesn't seem to have much interest. Misreading signals here maybe. I need to work on flirting without going above PG-13.

I agree that the aura of pregnancy is a turnoff for both of us, but there is no birth control I can take control of. She will not use condoms, and even withdrawal, a dubious method to begin with, totally destroys her mood and ruins the entire thing for her. I really don't have a huge problem with condoms for the reason you specified. This is why I say I wish there were a pill for men. I'm religious about taking medication, whereas she forgets frequently and can't take the pill without severe mood reactions. My attitude certainly isn't cavalier about pregnancy. If we did get pregnant it wouldn't be planned but it also wouldn't be unwelcome. We want 4 kids, but we are waiting until we buy this house and get settled. If we had an oops moment it wouldn't be a disaster, and I think we would both be excited in spite of our foiled plans. Under her constraints, knowing her cycle and scheduling around that is the only option. I don't even care very much about intercourse. If she were open to anything else I would be almost completely satisfied by that. Hell, if all we ever did was tend to her I'd be pretty happy. As soon as we have the 4th I'm also going under the knife, so this will cease to be a consideration.

Rebuilding trust is huge, and that is a slower process. I've become more keyed-in, but still have a lot of improvement to make. If I can get there, to a point where I'm not constantly letting her down, then the long process of restoring trust can begin. I have no illusions about divorcing sex from this trust, and this post isn't about looking for solutions to get a quick fix on our sexlife. I felt the need to post because I was feeling the pain of being disconnected.

This generalization about men and women is not helpful. Men are slaves to their hormones and women are cerebral? It can be true that she needs more from the relationship to get in the mood, and you don't need to dismiss my motives to express that idea. I'm not some horny teenager just looking to get laid, and my reasons for wanting greater physical intimacy have a lot more to do with my brain than my penis.

I can understand why you would default to the idea that I wont try anything new. Judging from the horrific track record of the average ADHD husband detailed here, that is a safe bet 95% of the time. How many people here are the ADHD spouse? Of those how many are men? I'm here trying to get better, and as medication and therapy come into play I hope that it wont be so difficult to do things differently. Right now I'm not sure I know how to start a conversation with her about this without fear of it turning into a huge fight when I say something stupid. I'm reading books on my issues and hopefully couples therapy will be a good forum for starting those conversations.

I really wish you luck in

I really wish you luck in patching up your marriage. Mine is too far gone because of pressured, inconsiderate, and bad sex and also trust issues stemming from ADHD. The memory issues are the worst:/  Sometimes I feel your wife grossly overreacts and others I feel her pain. At least you have SOME intimacy. I will give my husband ZERO save for the foot rubs and back massages he pushes on me or an awkward hug before bed, before I retire to MY glorious room. I gave for 2 1/2 yrs straight and did not get what I needed in return. I am now just flat out done with my husband, but he wants me to stay for many reasons, so I stay. 

You seem to have it a LOT more together than my husband and you seem much more intelligent. No offense to mine, it is what it is. If your wife is willing at all and you keep doing what you're doing, I think ya'll could find a way to have a great marriage again. Just don't lose your focus. All this work would essentially be for nothing if she senses you stop trying so hard. I bet she can feel how hard you are trying and really appreciates it, but has a deep down, sinking feeling that you can't keep it up. She may be expecting you to lose focus and go back to "normal" and that would likely ruin any trust you might have built. 

Maybe and probably once the trust is back, she'll start giving you better responses at everything. Maybe in the meantime she'll learn to accept the ADHD and find her own healthier coping strategies. 

I'm an optimist. 

What finally woke me up was

What finally woke me up was the realization that she was getting close to a place where she would seriously consider leaving, in spite of taking on great hardship in that process. It scared the hell out of me because it not only meant things were bad at home, but they were bad enough to make three young children in an apartment with few job prospects an actual alternative. It sucks that I had to push it that far to get that kind of scary reaction, but I agree I think we still have some fertile ground to work with.

The thing I worry about is that she doesn't feel like much is changed. Whenever we get into a fight any statistical improvement in my engagement doesn't seem to matter. I have always done some work to help out, so I need to fill the gaps where I falter, but most importantly work on being emotionally invested and available. That is much more ethereal and hard to grasp for me, even if I can feel these things strongly on the inside. It seems sort of like speaking the wrong language, and I need to learn.

When you say "I bet she can feel how hard you are trying," I would say she probably doesn't. I'm doing a lot of thinking internally to figure out the nature of this thing, but external action is probably not a huge difference. She places absolutely no value on trying, which is understandable because for years I have resolved to try harder, and "trying" is now crying wolf. I'm actually planning action to make trying more than just a hollow wish of mine, but she has nothing to point to here and now. Since we have some modicum of intimacy even in this situation I think we can function together for the few weeks it takes to get wheels in motion. She isn't really very accepting of ADHD or the symptom-response-response dynamic. This is why I think couples therapy is absolutely key, where someone other than myself is spelling these tactics out, and most especially spelling out how she can adapt her behavior to really get to a healthier relationship. Any suggestion on my part that there are steps the non-ADHD spouse can take is just a recipe for disaster. We need to ease into this with a neutral party.

Just two hours ago we were cuddling in bed with the children watching Doc McStuffins at our feet. We are all sick at this point and have basically taken the weekend off to be sloths. So we were cuddling and I was giving her the occasional chaste kiss on the neck. I thought about some of these themes and kept it there, and we just spooned and relaxed with her wound up in my arms. I need to do more of this, it was a good time.

Mojo

Something hilarious just came across my Facebook news feed, and since we have already broached the subject of light bondage, here you go:

Mojo Upgrade

Don't worry, while the text might not be totally safe for work, there are no images or offensive things (unless of course factual descriptions of various sexual practices is offensive).

Disclaimer: This is not in any way applicable to the situations we have discussed in the thread nor do I plan on sending this to my wife (Maybe after lots of progress towards a healthier relationship). As we've said, the theme of this thread is not about sex therapy or spicing anything up.

Yeah that is no less true,

Yeah that is no less true, but plays to the more stereotypical view of men's attitude toward sex. About as close I get to #5 is checking her out or smacking her ass as she passes by. As the dude in the article noted, since the rebuff factor is 95%, actual propositions (even suggestive spooning at lights-out) have just ended. The rejection just intensifies the sense of disconnect.

#1 is Hilarious: "I hope you're specced for beast mastery. 'Cause this dick ain't gonna tame itself." Funnily enough, the reason we met is that she was a staff member on a WoW server that I administered. I fully expect none here to know anything about that subculture, but it was the reason we knew each other platonically for two years online before we ever actually met.

I love Cracked.  I do know

I love Cracked. 

I do know WoW, but never got into online gaming myself. My gaming consists of Lego trilogies and Mario lol.