please help - at the end of my rope

I am absolutely astonished by this weekend's events. As I sit here and write this, I can feel my shoulder muscles coiling up into that tense position where it feels like they sit by my ears and I don't know whether I am numb or want to cry. I was diagnosed with ADD 11 years ago and with medication and humanistic/behavioural therapy have come to a place where I feel that I have the skills where potentially I could have things somewhat under control with minimal struggle. My husband is a different story and has driven me to a place where I am not sure how to put my feet on the floor tomorrow morning. I am absolutely shattered - I have a mountain of work staring me in the face and I am so upset I can barely move, nevertheless meet all of my deadlines and obligations.

Because I didn't always travel the path of least resistance, as I am sure many of you will relate to, I am a bit behind schedule on my life goals. In an attempt to rectify the past and progress in a positive direction, I am working full time and going to school with 3 courses this semester, as well as carry my fair share (all) of household duties, aspire to exercise a bit and perhaps have a bit of time for relaxation and hobbies. School and work things alone have me at functional workload capacity. I cannot remember the last time that I was no so pressed for time that I had to choose between shaving my legs or drying my hair. The last meal that didn't come out of tupperware eaten at a desk or in the car is a distant memory. I would expect that my husband would see that I am stretched and pick up some of the slack, but in reality that is only a dream and reality is a nightmare.

My husband was diagnosed with ADHD 15 years ago and on a drug therapy, but never supported by therapy for more than a few sessions here and there. He is a medical professional and holds the opinion that any humanistic/behavioural therapy is just a big love-in waste of time and the only way it works is if you "buy in" to it and he doesn't. However, he is more than happy to spout off advice at me "as a clinician." A large source of our conflict is I am not keen to take advice on how I should run my life from a man who in the last 6 months has nearly lost his job, gambled away money we did not have to splurge to the tune of $50,000 and has not picked up a dish, paid a bill, done a chore, etc without prompting. I have afforded him with every resource money can buy to help get him organised, the harped on him for a few months until I felt like my head would explode because he just had no interest and then gave up. His answer is always the same, "If I don't create it myself, I just don't remember." However, the suggestion of making a list is met with grumbles and mumbles and if by some miracle the list gets mad, the list gets lost - or he will do a few things on the list and get sidetracked, too tired or very often, simply chooses to do puzzle books and play video games instead.

We constantly live from crisis to crisis. He also hides things to the point that the trust in our relationship has essentially been destroyed. One of the biggest, he was having problems at work for about 8 months before I found out about it; the point at which point I found out the conversation revolved around the fact that we could not continue to live overseas in Europe past the end of this contract because his employer was not renewing his contract for the following year due to his not following his professional development plan. His answer was, "Well, I have ADD and they give me a plan and don't follow up with me, so I'm not to blame." Thank goodness through my professional connections and some begging, I was able to secure  a contract for him at another location that did not involve moving over an ocean. At that point, the remorse and tears came flowing and I thought there was potential for a change. This new environment is very supportive of his needs and is really helping develop professionally, so that is good, but now it's the rest.

He teeters on the edge of what I call a gambling addiction. It was heavy steady for about a year where he lost a substantial sum we did not have to lose, which nearly resulted in our demise. Since then, there have been several incidents to the tune of a few thousand dollars, which is better, but still money we do not have to burn. He does not admit to having a problem, "It's just how he relaxes" and when he has lost the money and I have questioned it, he gets teary eyed and remorseful saying he thought he could win it back. He just doesn't see the blatantly obvious.

We are in debt up to our eyeballs mostly because of his impulse spending and inability to follow up on things which then spawns late fees and interest charges. We keep separate bank accounts, but as he is the "breadwinner" I am unable to meet all of our financial obligations with my salary. For a time, I had access to both accounts via the Internet, but he freaked out and said he felt like a child with that arrangement and he would pay certain bills out of his accounts. Things lapsed, bad credit accrued. I'd be surprised if he could get a long distance plan with his credit rating. This is all complicated by the fact that as we are expatriates, we do not have debt consolidation options, lines of credit or other financial tools to help dig us out of this hole other than to figure out which minimum payment or bill skipped will do the least damage.

To further complicate matters, he also has an obsession with an online game that has become a major problem in our lives. Recently, on his birthday, I came home after class with a cake, wine and a lovely dinner. I laid it out on the table and yelled upstairs for him to come join me; I was really excited because I had scrimped, saved and taken advantage of recession airline prices to plan a lovely island getaway weekend to celebrate his birthday. I wedged the tickets into a guide book for the area and wrapped them up - thinking it would be a lovely surprise. After two hours, I took his gifts and a piece of cake up to him because it was too engrossed in a mission with his online pals to come downstairs. I stood there thinking that anyone with a birthday gift in front of them would open it, but his hands were too busy fighting computer generated monsters. When I prompted him, he ripped through it without even looking and responded with a very fake smile about how lovely the book was. It wasn't until three days later when I told him I was uncomfortable with the e-tickets in his bag everyday that he realised what he had actually gotten for his birthday. I suppose I should be happy he was at least carrying around the book, but it was a real kick in the teeth.

It seems he has a compulsion for this game and it doesn't matter what else is going on if his group is doing something he needs to be online. He has been known to stay up for days at a time and I suspect he is using his Ritalin in an improper fashion, as he as "borrowed" from my script without permission from time to time. With only one internet connection, I have found myself sacrificing research time for my studies, so he can play the game. He tells me all the time that I don't understand how the game works and that I can't set time limits for him because he cannot predict how long a mission will take and he is working in tandem with a group of 40 other people that he cannot just walk away from. Kinda crummy that he will have that sense of commitment to people he has never met, but the person who feeds him and keeps him in clean underwear gets the shaft. We have tried numerous "methods" of cutting down the game time, but then he sneaks, or throws a fit or "5 more minutes" me to death.

We have come to blows over these situations a few times, most recently two nights ago. After a knock-down, drag-out argument where I basically expressed that I was on the verge of filing for divorce yesterday morning, he called to apologise and then came home from work to find me I at my desk working on a research paper. The first words out of his mouth were "Can I have the Wifi for a mission?" No apologises for his actions, no hellos or hugs & kisses, just a sense of urgency to meet up with a group of people online.

I didn't react well to this, I will admit. When I started to get upset, it was a floodgate being open: all of the anger and frustration about dirty tissues all over the house, squalor (which is being kind) in his office, all of the past hurts of not considering my feelings the nights he went out with friends the one night our schedules allowed us to be home together that month, the birthday incident, all of the solo dinners due to the computer game came raging out. He couldn't understand that it was a cumulative hurt and that was why I was so angry. He fixated on the fact that I was completely overreacting to him asking to have the modem. This happens quite often when we have talks about our situation; he can only see the most present events and doesn't understand that things build up and wear me down.

Today is a perfect example of a "day in the life" and why I am at the end of my rope. We woke up and he made his breakfast leaving bread crumbs and gobs of jam all over the counter top accentuated by leaving the milk and butter out. Dirty dishes left as he lies on the couch to watch TV while I go over and clean up from the breakfast preparations and begin to scrape some sort of cheesy tomato sauce goo from the bench top and ceiling (I kid you not) from some midnight snack debacule. While I am doing so, I suggest he go and get and his planner so we can go over a list of things he needed to do today. I was met with grumbles and mumbles about how he had to go to work tonight, so he should not be expected to "work" all day. I set a timer and 30 minutes later suggested that he should go shower and get going for the day. 45 minutes later, I yell into the bathroom where he got sidetracked doing a puzzle book and was screamed at for being a nag. I tried to stay calm and suggested that while he was in the bathroom it could really use a once over (despite my cleaning it well four days ago at midnight after I got home from class) as it was disgusting by any standards. An hour later, he emerges proclaiming the bathroom was clean and sauntered out onto the balcony to finish his puzzle book page. I was downstairs cleaning up the daily messes and the entire time he is yelling down from the balcony that I really should get a move on my school work and the work I brought home from the office. I tried to explain to him that I could use some help and that if I didn't do this, it would never get done. He gave some lip service about helping and flopped down on the bed and started reading a book shouting something about how I was procrastinating and he knew all about procrastination.

I poked my head into the bathroom to see what he had done - the pile of clothes that was on the bathroom floor was moved outside of the bathroom door into the hallway next to the hamper, there were old disgusting grapes next to the toilet (I have no idea), dried snot smeared on the toliet paper holder, the floor was still dirty and gunk crusted to the sink, vanity and mirrors. I brought him back in and showed him the mess and asked him to address these issues and told him I was going downstairs to start working on my paper that needed to be turned in shortly. An hour later, he comes downstairs and tells me that he is going to the library to study for an upcoming licensing exam.

He went off and I started my school work. I rang him to ask him to take a copy of a journal article for me that was not available electronically. He rang back an hour later leaving a voicemail saying he was at the library and they did not have a copy of that journal (which I knew wasn't true, as I had seen it there two days ago). I could hear from the background noise in the message that he was in the car with the windows open, which means he wasn't in the library. When he didn't turn up for another three hours, I rang his cell phone again which went straight to voicemail. I rang the library front desk and had a friend who works there look for him and she said she had not seen him all day. The funny thing was, I am sure she thinks he is having an affair, but I knew better - he was hiding out in an internet cafe playing his online game despite me telling him that I had about a week's worth of office work, two papers and an exam to prepare for in addition to the house being in a bit of a state and numerous household paperwork things that needed looking after.

Quite frankly, if I didn't live halfway around the world from any "safe haven" and know that I would have a hell of a time getting a job in this economic climate, I am almost at the point where I would pack my bags. I often wonder if that is the only reason I am still here. When he came home, I got a half hearted apology with the rationalisation that he didn't want to fight over his wanting to play the game and he didn't go to the library because he didn't want to study.

Like I said, I am just at the end of my rope and I am so upset by this it is paralyzing me. I am so busy with school and work that I have no me time; I can't remember the last time I went to the gym and I really think my stress level is beginning to effect my health. Every three weeks or so, I get so tense, I have to drag myself in for an adjustment and my massage therapist constantly comments about how I am crippling myself. Despite my best efforts, I am still struggling with my ADD and managing my work load. I just can't do it all and I don't know what to do because if I don't, it will get so out of control it will be unimaginable.

Please help. Any advice, anything is much appreciated.


Wow. I had tears in my eyes as I read your post. First thing you must know is that you are not alone. And you have options. Do you see a counselor at all? Lots of us on here see someone professionally and it really helps us cope. There are so many things in your post that I want to comment on, but I think you have probably already said those things to yourself or had someone else say them. Please hang in there. You are not at the end of your rope if you accept that you do have power here. I needed to give you a virtual hug before starting off on my day but I will be back to see how you are doing so keep posting! Relax, take a deep breath, I am praying for you.

For Seafolly3

First, bravo for getting your own symptoms under control and for having such a good, firm understanding of who you are.  You show great resilience, a strong work ethic, an ability to make things happen for yourself.  All of these will help you as you move forward.

The biggest thing that struck me as I read your post is that you are falling into the parent/child syndrome.  A better direction than trying to nag your spouse into cleaning the bathroom or not being on the internet is to set boundaries about what is right for you and what is an absolute must.  See my post on boundaries in the favorite posts area.

Also, spend some extra money and get your own internet connection (or Wi-Fi).  Perhaps you can coordinate times when you are both on your separate computers doing your own things and happily so, then won't resent that time so much.  As for your husband's thinking that he can't leave a game.  Bull.  What would happen if his internet server went down?  Nothing.  His friends would just go on without him.  (probably hard for him to imagine, but true). 

You didn't marry him so you could track him around like a child and have to figure out if he's at the library or not.  He either spends time holding up some share of the work and spending quality time with you, or risks getting the boot.  But be careful not to put yourself in the position of dictating how these things get done - if he's going to do it, then he's responsible for the final product.  If the bathroom just gets too gross when done "his way", then ask him to do something else like the laundry or cooking dinner.  Whatever it is, try to make it consistently his - that takes away the dynamic where you are the "task giver" and he is the "task doer" (subordinate position).

I would also be careful about unconsciously setting him up in ways that guarantee his failure.  The birthday dinner sounds like an example to me.  What were you doing for the two hours while waiting for him to show up for dinner?  If he doesn't come to dinner within a few minutes, go up to him in person, ask him to look you in the eyes (so he can't be looking at the computer) and get him to come down the stairs with you.  Or, conversely, call him from your cell phone a few times on the way home.  "I'm bringing home a really special surprise for you, candlelight dinner in 45 minutes..." can get him expecting that he has to stop soon.  And if there are tickets hidden in the book and he doesn't see them right away, point them out to him.  Giving him the book when he wasn't paying attention means he won't be paying the attention you would like...that's a hard way to give a gift!

Your description of your days reminds me of my daughters' - she has figured out how to hold it all together in spite of her ADD and does a marvellous job at it...but sometimes she pays too high a price in that work becomes everything and she has no time for anything fun.  It seems to me that your life is too unbalanced right now and is, essentially, unsustainable.  You must find a better balance or your life will explode (and my advice - don't add kids to this mix until you have found that balance, for the workload increases exponentially with kids).  Balance can be found a number of ways (spiritual, different grad school, different job, husband helps out more, close network of supporters, hiring help, etc.)  Explore whatever options you can afford to.

Finally, you mention not having time to exercise.  Consider exercise "treatment" for you, as it will help calm you as well as make you more focused and stronger.  Allocate a minimum of 30 minutes 4 days a week and you will find that it will be well worth the effort in terms of payback.

Melissa, You have finally


You have finally pushed me to the point of where I must say what I think almost every time I read one of your responses to a post that you did not orriginate...

Why do you always take the more responsible parter (non-ADHD or not) and point out everything they are doing wrong? If anything we all give example after examle of how or what we have changed yet from your point we need to adjust further and further and further sitll.

You are coming across as giving the advice that we have to be these literal PERFECT supportive partners so our ADHDer (or the less progressive of the two) can thirve all the while we are trying and trying without any real result most of the time...and then when a real, lasting result occurs there is yet another hurdle that must be conquered. From what I am reading, and from my own experience, while we are trying to be supporitive so our ADHDer can thrive, we are actually diminishing a little bit each day.

As the non-ADHDer in my relationship and the one who also takes care of most everything and has to remind my fiance of everything important that needs get taken care of plus remembering to ask him if it got taken care of plus remembering to remind him to update his palm all on top of taking 7, 4000-level or greater university courses plus a legislative internship, I have no freakin time to take care of the small things in my canceling that hair apointment or calling my grandparents back. Hence I completely sympothize with this woman and I think she is amazing! As far as the present goes, while you think she is setting him up for failure, I think she (and we all) are just a little sick of reminding our partner over and over again that it is time to spend time with us. She obviously just wants to feel wanted by her husband.

I have many opinions about your relationship, Melissa, but I will not pretend to take an ultimate stance on it since people's opinions about relationships that are not their own (after all no one knows what goes on behind closed doors) are opinions that can go do you-know-what to themselves.

I just ask that while I have taken much of your advice, don't look to what this woman has done and find the two things she may or could have done different. 

Seafolly3, I personally think you have done amazing things with your life and refuse to let ADHD determine who and what you are going to be and accomplish. You have loved yourself to have progressed this far. When you look at your relationship, I know that deep down you know what you need to do to make sure all your hard work pays off.

I'm very glad you said this

I'm very glad you said this Heather. Melissa, I'm sorry but I have to chime in with Heather's observations. The non-ADHD spouse is not perfect, nor should they be expected to reach perfection with no wounds of their own.  The constant lists of what >I< should give up, surrender, stop feeling, stop saying was doing me no good.  To quote a lyric from a favorite song by Five for Fighting, "Even heroes have the right to bleed."

You should know this Melissa, just from one non-ADHD spouse; I would read this blog and become even more enraged over my situation than I had been before I stopped by.  I would see the "help" as suggesting that even more had to come from me and only me. Additionally, even if giving my all, I had to suppress all of my anger and frustration about that situation at all costs.  I felt saddled with the responsibility of my husband's ADHD well past the point that he ever attributed to me.  Yet, I was growing angrier with him, as if he was the person who was telling me that my anger was the cause of all the problems and that I had to suck up all of his limitations, allowing him to pick and choose when, or if, he'd decide to act responsibly.

It made no sense to me, actually. This is a time at which my husband is aware of his ADHD and is trying now harder than he ever did before - and succeeeding in many areas!  Yet, I was growing angrier and angrier and couldn't put my finger on why.

I finally realized that I was not angry with my husband. I was angry with the advice I was reading that was telling me that it was all my fault and all within my control to just accept a life in chaos.  I wasn't trying hard enough. I was too angry. I couldn't - or shouldn't - feel angry because that's just "making" him more ADHD (as if that were even possible.)

As I said, I speak only as one non-ADHD spouse. However, it seems that I'm not alone in feeling this way. You should know if your advice is prompting this sentiment in your readers.

I felt so blamed, chastized and burdened by the advice on this blog, I went seeking others, but couldn't find any that were currently active. This at a time when I needed insight - not more blame on myself - the most.

Incidentally, this week, it was a recent post from a commenter with ADD/ADHD that he had worked to get under control that made me stay.  I figured that at least, I could read posts like his for some support and insight.  Without them, I would just kinda fade away, hoping to find some other give and take on ADD/ADHD out there.

(I wish I could find it now. It was left this past week and was a great post. He talked about his growing insight into his disorder and about his mom stuggling with her issues. )




Thank you for your input. I feel like we are peas in a pod. I am at the point of constant frustration and hoplessness even though my fiance also is working really hard and has been for a while now. For myself, if he steps off the "progress" track for even a day I can't contain it...I freak out. I know a lot of my feelings stem from just who I am as a person (i.e. organized, detailed, and reaised to hold myself accountable to every action).

Therefore, after I read much advice, even outside this forum (in books mostly), I keep getting asked to be more, and more and more supportive! Like you, even if I come home from a bad day and just want to vent and have him hold me and give me some advice, he completely shuts down. This isn't every time but often enough where it seriously makes me feel alone. And I know we can't expect everything from any one person so I have my friends that are more than happy to listen to me vent and give me that advice but I would rather have that form of "intimacy" with my ADHDer.

But my main point is that, like you, and I know you didn't use this word, I feel inadequate. I read and read about what I should do, and I seriously try and it's almost as if it is for nothing. I feel like (and at this moment I don't think I am wrong) my fiance's ADHD progress is ultimately his responsibilty but if he is to suceed and thrive to his very best, well then that is my responsibilty. It is a lot to ask from a person who entered into this relationship seeking an equal. I don't know, I may be off but I feel that you and I are going through the same emotions FabTemp.

An apology and some honest anger

I hear this comment enough that I must certainly take your comments to heart - and I apologize to you. It isn't my intention to hurt you, make you feel hopeless, or otherwise discourage you.

The simple answer to why I comment on the behavior of the writer is that the writer is the person asking for the input.  And as the writer can only change the writer's actions, and not the actions of the partner, I have thought that providing feedback to the writer was the most constructive thing to do.  But I am hearing loud and clear that others don't see it that way and that while I may think that people can receive my comments neutrally, that's not the case.  So I will try to modify my approach so that people do not feel that I am somehow disparaging them or putting them down.

While I hear what you are saying, and will be responsive to it, I must say that these comments do make me a little bit angry, too.  I'm not always perfect in how I respond to stuff - I have good days and bad days just like the rest of the people on this site.  But when I try to clarify my opinions, sometimes people don't seem to listen.  For the record, I will once again say I do STRONGLY believe that the non-ADD spouse MUST stand up for herself (or himself) and not let ADD rule the roost.  In my opinion it is not okay to live in a relationship in which the downsides of ADD are the dominating elements of the relationship.  I have repeatedly stated that the ADD spouse must be responsible for their own behavior or, if they are incapable of being so, the couple needs to find middle ground.  "Middle ground" to me is not "the non-ADD spouse gives up everything so the ADD spouse can live in fantasy world".  It is exactly what I call it - middle ground.  To me that means you find whatever the balance is that works for the unique relationship you have.  WORKS being the operative word here.  I AM IN NO WAY suggesting that a non-ADD spouse should just live with it.  I may try to point out things that seem like red flags or seem inconsistent to me to people who write here - again, I'm more likely to comment on the behavior of the writer than the behavior of the absent spouse - but those comments don't change my underlying assumptions.  A marriage that doesn't work is a marriage that doesn't work.  You figure out whether or not you can fix it, and hopefully my suggestions can help you figure this out.  But if you can't figure it out, then that's that.  I'm a big believer in trying to fix things, particularly if you can affect meaningful changes through new information or new tools available to you.  But you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever hear me say that someone should lose themselves in their relationship for the sake of keeping it together.  Life is way too short.

Melissa's apology

  Hey Melissa,

  I just wanted to post and say that I understand your approach. Your responses to my posts have been thoughtful, honest and constructive in that it was me that asked for advice of what I can do, not my husband. I appreciate your support and honesty.

  We (non ADD spouse) cannot change our spouse, we can only change ourselves, the way we react, what we are willing to compromise on and what we are not. It can be exasperating living with someone that has ADD, especially when they do not meet the expectations we have of them, however basic they may be.

  In my own situation my husband behaves more like a hormonal, irrational teenager than a leader, reliable caretaker I expect that a husband should be and that has me in a place where I feel more like a mother to him than a wife. What I have learned through reading and posting here is that even though his behavior has guided me into this "mother" role I also have allowed it to put me there and I have a choice in whether or not I stay in that role. I choose not to be his "mother" and though it is a hard situation to navigate I am persistent in trying to break out of it. So, how do you do it? Every day I am mindful of that hole I am trying to climb out of and I try to make choices that take care of me while still keeping in mind my responsibility of being a good wife. So, what is  a "good wife?" I try to be loving, caring and mindful of the greater good in my marriage, but I also take care of myself and I have had to really sit down and think about what I am willing to compromise on and what I am not. I made a list, 1. what is my idea of how a husband should behave, 2. what I absolutely need from my husband to feel loved and secure (these are non-negotiable) and 3. what I would like to have but am willing to compromise on. I made my choices and am consistently communicating these things to my husband, he has a copy of my list so that he can refer to it. He knows that it is up to him to make his choices from there. This is a work in progress and I don't know if our marriage will last but I do know that if it doesn't and I have to walk away, that I tried everything I could, short of compromising my needs and that either way I will be okay. We are in counseling and we have good days and bad days, but I am still here and I don't resent him as much as I used to because I know that I have made my needs very clear to him, that my needs are reasonable and that now the "ball is in his court."

  I sometimes read these posts and feel like the odds are against me, like things will never change, but then I realize that it is my life, my choice as to what I am willing to live with and what I am not and that I alone am responsible for my happiness. My heart goes out to all of you that are in this type of situation, I am intimately familiar with your pain and I know how heavy a load it can be, how I wish there was a "magic pill" that would resolve these issues. Just remember to take care of you and try to be fair to your spouse, not for their benefit but for yours so that in the end, despite all the agony, you feel good about you.

  I am grateful for this blog. Grateful to have a place to go where people understand my pain, because unless you live with it no one else can truly "get it." So I thank you Melissa, and everyone else for sharing.

Can you explain HOW further?

I read and re-read your comments are few times before writing this post, but what I keep asking myself is how to implement this in our daily lives? And why are his in-actions my fault if I re-act to them, as if I don't re-act, we will lose the roof over our heads, our jobs, our electricity, etc? I apologise if this is a bit wordy with specific examples, but I am so at a loss with some of these and they don't fit into any of the coping strategies I have read, that I felt they required further explanation.

One of the things that struck me most was your statement about striving not to be a task-giver and making him a task do-er. As I said before, I let things in his hands for the majority of our relationship. With that approach, rent & bills go unpaid (incurring late charges, interest & further debt), he has let his medical license lapse, forgotten to confirm his contract past its expiry date date, etc. I did not start acting as the task-giver until the point where I had to go into the office of the CEO of our company (I was working as a Administrative Assistant for one of the Divisions within her office) and beg her to intervene and find him a placement for 2009, because my husband did not register into the clearinghouse on time despite being well-aware of the dates, did not disclose his ADHD to the Registration Board and did a few stupid things that got documented and when given the opportnity to recifty them, did not. For 4 months, we sweated out whether or not he would have a job (which is huge as our residency in this country, our financial means and the progression of his career are all seriously dependent on it).

Thankfully, my workplace and the CEO were willing to intervene dependent on my answer of one question: Do I think he will change? Recitfy his wrongs? Proceed in a positive direction? In my heart, I thought no, but to save our butts, I told them yes and per the suggestion of managment sat down with him and developed a learning & development plan with his expected outcomes, due dates and next steps. I remind him of this every few days in passing, but not one inch of progress has been made since the fortnight when he signed the new contract that I procured for him on professional connections and a bit of begging and pleading. The problem is if I relinquish being a task-giver, he will lose his job, we will lose our visas. he will have a hell of time continuing on in his chosen profession and we will both have to relocate over an ocean.

We had a conversation several months ago that I would continue to assist him, but when he was ready to work on certain things that he needed to come to me and I would help him. Until he showed some interest, I was out (despite silently monitoring the really important stuff on the side, which is no small task).

There was zero improvement. Everything was no better if not worse. The low point after my fixing his employment situation  was as his six month review is coming up and he had several action items to proceed with, which I left notes and reminded him about at least weekly. The impetus to get him to act on his obligations was me driving home from my office while I was supposed to be in class with an email from his Registration Board sent to his work email (which I have proxy access to) stating that they have been urgently trying to get in contact with him for several days and needed to speak with him in the next 24 hours of he would lose his abilty to practice. I saw them email at 3:00 and knowing he was home asleep from "sick" from a big online game battle the previous night and not answering his cell phone raced home to get the message to him before 4:30 when their office closed. He only takes action on things once they are in CRISIS MODE while simultaneously spouting out excuses as to why this didn't happen until now: long hours, illness, being tired, etc.

He doesn't understand consequences because from childhood, people have always bailed him out for his actions. He has always been smart, good at school and comes from an upper-middle class mentality household that bad things don't happen to people like me, etc.  It's a catch-22. I don't want to lose the lifestyle we have, ergo, I cannot let him fall on his face.

Moreover, he is "endangering" himself. He has an eyesight condition that requires special treatment & special lenses. I had been mentiong to him in passing that his eyes were starting to look raw and over-tired for days. He over-wore his contacts to the point were his eyes started to be so red on Thursday night they looked as if they were bleeding. Friday, the day we were supposed to leave for our anniversary trip at 10:00am, he schedules an emergency eye doctor appointment at 12:00pm which he says will only takes 5 minutes. The doctors office is in the midst of the big city, so I circled the block rather than paying $12.00 for a half hour of parking; except I circled the block for 1 hour and then an additional hour while he got examined and then while he picked up steroid drops and anti-biotics for his eyes. The doctor advised him to not to wear his lenses for a week and told him he should not go to work in this condition for 5 days. He got a note from the doctor and he couldn't understand after why waiting for 2 hours + being 2 hours late from our departure time made me cross. We immediately got stuck in traffic that made us an additional 2 hours late to our desitination and I had to drive the whole way because he couldn't see and I had been up almost the entire night the night before studying for an exam and cleaning the house at the same time (while he played computer games!) The doctor scolded him that he could have blinded himself. Despite the doctor's advise, he is at work today because he took off sick last week because he stayed up too late playing his online game and neglected to get his flu shot (and lied about it saying he got it when I reminded him) despite working in a healthcare setting. 

I can be 100% honest. Of course I am ticked that I made anniversary plans and he forgot, but I was willing to let that go.Yes, I was a bit ticked that I spent time and money sorting all of this out and he thought the date was his sister's birthday, but I let that go. Yes, I was ticked that I had to clean up the entire house from the disgusting mess he made while he was home sick (how one gets cheese on the ceiling) while reviewing for my exam the next morning and I yelled a bit. Yes, I was ticked (well furious inside but didn't blow up too much) when I came home from my exam after not really sleeping much the night before to find him still in bed waking to announce his need to go to the eye doctor 1 hour round trip from the house and that he's not ready to leave immediately as he didn't pack his bags prior despite requests for two days. Yes, I am pissed and gave him the silent/don't touch me treatment for a good hour or so because once again he waits unitl crisis mode I have to drive to our destination despite being awake all night. Our anniversary trip ended up being a few moments of fun, but generally me waiting for him to get out of the bathroom and finish this chapter in his book. He bought me flowers for the first time since I met him years ago and we did a fair bit, but how he can go from staring at one descriptive display for 20 minutes to wanting to go right NOW!, I still can't understand or predict. Sex was a non-issue; there is more action at a 5th grade dance. I don't even know why I bothered to get that wax =) How is this supposed to be conducive to a healthy life & marriage?

Moreover, something that scared me even more happened on the way home proving he has no foresight and he only sees his good intentions. Today, we were driving home from our anniversary vacation and I noticed a group of people gathered around a man in cycling gear on the side of the road. I could see that the man was hurt and despite the best intentions of the Good Samartians they were doing exactly the wrong thing by moving him. Knowing his advanced training and being a former EMT, I screamed something out the window about spinal injury and STOP! Hubby and I pulll over and he darts off up the road before I can pull a pair of gloves and other PPDs out of the glove box; by the time I reach him and the victim he is covered to his elbow's in a stranger's blood. Despite freaking out on the inside, knowing Hubby has cuts and scratches on his hands,  I did the only thing I can do in these situations and try to mitigate the anxiety for the road-side patient (you'd be surprised how often we find ourselves in this situation) assuring him his bike and personal items are well looked after, that I will make sure someone calls his wife, etc. There was a huge sigh of relief when our guy regains enough conscious to say that he was supposed to start his Clinical Nursing Practium tomorrow, which said to me his blood must have been recently tested in the past 6 months for transferrable diseases. I understand that this circumstance is unusual; he probably does road-side assistance 4-5 times a quarter and I would never discourage him from helping another human being truly in distress, but you can never be to careful these days. He believes he in invincible and takes pride in the fact that he does things for fun that most people consider stupid (That is a direct quote and don't even get me started on the not understanding social cues and being extremely rude or talking the grocery check-out girl to death...)

When trying to explan this to him, a repeated pattern in our conversation emerges, that he doesn't understand how one thing relates to the other. My strategy has been to try not to address all of the little things, but when a medium thing happens to let him know I am annoyed and on an escalating scale from there which cuts off shortly before throwing knives =) JK. We may have an argument on said day about the fact that he lied to me where he was going and did not fulfil any of my responsibilities, he cannot understands how the anger increases with a pattern. When I explain to him this happened and we agreed on this, then you did this, which went against everything we talked about in the first instance, and now we are on the forty-fourth instance; he does not see connection.

I 110% get the concept of self-care and am better implemeting it into my daily schedule, but when life hands you the deck where you have the choice of going to the gym for 2 hours or spending an hour fighting the futile battle in hopes that important task that must be done is complete, what do you do?


I felt like I was reading about my own situation...accept that I also have a 2 year old son (not the hubby...a TRUE 2 year old) to take care of and my husband doesn't work.  I work 3 jobs and am going to med. school for Oriental medicine, so I TOTALLY understand the stress of school while trying to live at home in a chaotic atmosphere.  I wish I had some answers for you as I am seeking the same advice.  I can tell you, however, that I was ready to divorce my hubby last week.  Instead, I found a support group where I could go and talk to other ADD'ers and the spouses of those with ADD.  It was a God send (the group) because it just happened to be on the evening I had a breakdown and was about ready to drive off a cliff (not really...but metaphorically speaking).  I literally was ready to pack my bags and my baby into the car and leave and I chose to frantically find another option that evening.  I told him to watch the baby and that I would be back in a few hours. 

The group really helped.  I saw people there with ADD and also their spouses, loved ones or friends who also want to help them.  I gained a better understanding of how a person with ADD thinks and feels and also how to better deal with my own emotions.  I must admit that I am now back in the same boat this week of wanting a divorce, but tonight I am going to the group again.  Maybe eventually if I keep going to this group I will find better ways to cope and so will my husband.  I pray you can find a group like just might help.

God bless are in my prayers.

Thanks for the

Thanks for the well-wishes;  at least I do not feel like I'm alone anymore. He has been storming around waiting for me to apologise for yelling at him, which has made things complicated. The good that has come out of this is that in my mind I have drawn a line in the sand for myself with what I am capable of taking on and that I can find people out there who can relate to this insanity. Your thoughts and prayers got me through the past few days and I can't thank you enough for that.

momof2's picture

I think we live the same life

I found some comfort in your post. My husband and I have been married for 16 years. He was diagnosed 2 years ago with ADHD when we began seeking help for our daughter. She was 7 at the time. I can relate to your relationship from the addicting video games to the financial nightmare. I am a teacher who just finished my master's degree. I chose an online program because I thought it would help my schedule. That was a big mistake. He put me down to the wire more than once for assignments because he wouldn't get off the computer. I was always stuck driving the kids around as well because God knows he can't keep track of a schedule. We have a 14 year old too. I have addressed all of these issues with him, he shows remorse, and then we are OK for a little while.

Last Sunday he came to me and said he loves me, but does not know if he is in love with me anymore. He said he is tired of the ups and downs. I couldn't believe it. He is tired??? He said as a last resort he is going to go to counseling. He does not want me to go with him. At first I was devasted. Now I am beginning to get very angry. He has embarrassed me by forgetting to pay bills and getting my wages garnished. Forgotten to pay the property taxes and our house went up in the tax sale. Stolen my identity to get credit cards to start his own business and never paid them.  The list goes on. If I can put up with all of that and forgive him, why can't he see that I am not the root of all of his problems? I think he feels all of his problems are from being married to me.

My heart is broken. So, I can relate to all of the situatons you are describing. It is my life too. I have found the courage to stay and now it is him who wants to throw in the towel.

My advice is to do whatever you can to get him into couseling before you find yourself in the same situation as myself.

Good luck!

I just want to give you a BIG

I just want to give you a BIG hug and let you know that you are not alone. A lot of us understand the embarassment, the hurt, the angry words and how it begins to wear on you day after day. There is a comfort though in knowing that we are not alone and that we are not losing our minds.

My heart reaches out for you and I am sending all of my good energy your way.

On Feb 28, I left my ADD

On Feb 28, I left my ADD partner of over 5 years. And what prompted me to leave was actually this web site and stories like the one above. My ex and I are in our late 20s, and I left because I saw us becoming really dysfunctional and hating each other in the next 10 years. It was better for both of us to break up and live our lives separately and happily than by trying to force a relationship that just wasn't working. To the woman who wrote the story above... Leave this man at once. You are sacrificing your health, and yourself for this selfish man. I believe that people with ADD can lead full, healthy lives - if they are open to putting in genuine effort to working with the disorder. Your husband is completely closed off, sadly. Life is far too short to waste your precious life like this. Leave, and fine happiness in yourself. Good luck, and god bless.

My marriage has lasted

My husband and I have been married for 31 years.  Each of us is ADD, though my husband is undiagnosed and has greater control than I do.  We have three adult children, two of whom are ADD. 

My ADD was "enhanced" (?!?) by depression while dealing with my oldest's educational issues during the 80's and 90's when our school system had absolutely no understanding or support to offer.  He now owns 14 houses (with the bank's support) and rehabs and leases 13 of them.  He is married and has a child.  He offers us assistance and though he and I have a difficult relationship (all of that mothering and trying to keep him on task), he is successful.  My second son has not gotten the attention that the other two (ADD) have.  Yet he has perservered and is now out of state working on his doctorate in Chemistry.  My daughter has moved out of state and works in accounting.  She has used her connections to build friendships and establish a support system for living away from home.  I see their distance as being equipped to willingly face the world on their own.

My husband gives me support and yet there are times when I still fall apart.  He encouraged me to go to school.  I had great hopes of completing the degree in the prescribed three years, but had a set back when steady schooling, no social support and no summer break lead to me running into a brick wall at the end of the second summer when the knee surgery before Memorial Day led to a staph infection.  Returning to school with a loss of $3,000 for a travel course that I defaulted on due to his illness and no rest over the summer led to my collision with the brick wall of exhaustion.

I have been able to get back on track, but slowly.  I am working in an internet cafe.  I have taken courses toward my degree over the last year and one half.  I hope to finish in the fall.

seafolly3 - your situation is so much more difficult.  You do not have the support that you need.  You need to list what is needed for your own health and well being.  You must have support physically - take a walk, get your exercise.  You must have support spiritually - find a church, a small group or Bible study where one on one sharing is possible.  You must have support emotionally - friends to talk over life and help place it into perspective.  You must evaluate when professional support is necessary - medical, psychiatric, therapy. 

I will not discount that there are times when a divorce is appropriate.  A discussion with a professional should help outline the issuues and whether they can be addressed, but know that there are those who have successfully sailed over the troubled waters of a relationship with an ADD individual and lived well.



re: leaving spouse

My adhd husband and I seperated as well. We have been married it will be 13 yrs this yr.  I just had surgery and I have been doing well, although I'am in pain as I write because I'am  still healing. But my husband doesn't get it. He keeps asking about if there is any chances for reconciliation! I keep telling him I'am happy and healthy and he admits he is not. I told him today I don't want him to talk to me about it unless we are with the counselor because he is so manipulative and the counselor even said if he wants to talk about things to talk together with him. Its so hard I made mistakes because I couldn't handle his Adhd. He doesn't understand this . He is so unsensitive theres no way I will go back to the kind of life of the adhd world. I 'am so sad right now because there are people who don't understand the pain I have endured some people just see that we have kids and we are married. I'am crying because I hurt physically and emotionaly. I refuse to let Adhd come back into my life!!!! My kids are doing very well and even my Adhd son. I do have people that see that I'am healthier now and many that see the hurt I went through. I'am sorry to ramble just needed to write thanks for listening...I still am optomistic even though I hurt so bad right now God Bless!


Hi there!  I am so glad to hear that your surgery went well.  I have been thinking about you and wondering.

I just wanted to comment on what you wrote about how some people are judging your decision because you have children etc.  God wants people to be happy and you have the right to decide what makes you happy.  It sounds like you can lay your head on your pillow in peace at night knowing that you did all you could do to try and make your marriage work.  Be confident in your decision.  Who cares what other people think because there will always be someone who disagrees with you no matter what the circumstances are. 

Be good to yourself and take care Opto!


Thanks Steph, I really appreciate your words of encouragement especially at this time.  I'am feeling very grateful that I didn't have cancer but what I did have could of turned into cancer.I think My husband is lacking understanding on that I had major surgery  and that its going to take several weeks to heal. So he wants reconciliation to come back but he hasn't changed. He did quit drinking because the people he is living with won't tolerate it. But really he hasn't changed! He still is very impatient, can't stand my oldest son and comes over the day after surgery and is asking me questions that should be asked  at the counselors office. because of the meds I was on and pain it overwhelmed me. Everytime he came over He didn't stop.  I talked with a friend yesterday  and got some good wisdom.  So later on I talked with my husband and set boundaries up again because he was stepping over them. It actually went quite well I  think he realizes I'am serious and I told him (in a loving way) to give me respect by stopping the questions. I love boundaries they really help me to stay the course and boundaries help me not to be angry. also boundaries do not let things attach to me and destroy me. I'am dealing with a full plate at this time; surgery, seperation, no child support for months and I can't work. I have no idea except my faith is the strength that I draw upon.My church is really helping me also! I hope things are going better for you???? please keep in good to yourself too! Be blessed.....

Hi Opto

Hi Opto.  Good to hear from you again.  I am glad you set up those boundaries.  That step alone gives you strength.  You are right, you do have a full plate right now and the priority is you. So take care of yourself and heal.  Emotional stress will hinder your physical healing.  Keep the faith dear.  God will take care of you in his way. 


to everyone anywhere wake up

first MELISSA thankyou for everything your are doing on this site and with other people who need u and u are innspiration for anyone you had a hard life and still do. u dont PITY yourself u dont HATE or RESENT your partner and u know adhd is not all the fault of everything and u know non adhd Isnt aswell.

 u realise its the individual who has to do it and best its a team effort and u do what u know is best and u cant just have pity on yourself because out their non adhd or adhd everyone struggles but we have to help each other and ourselves.

EVERYONE YES EVEN ME not particulary anyone but adhd no adhd spouse non spouse mother father patner children carer and who ever i missed looked at yourself

 MELISSA has had a hard life so have all of u and MELISSA is helping others not because she has to its because she wants to she has done the best job anyone i know so far to help herself, her marriage and expecially helping others and from this day she will keep helping others and she will save alot and she may not but dont BLAME melissa PLEASE



go melissa u r is giving me strengh i dont know u and ive only been on thois site for 2 weeks BUT  i truly love what u r doing plEASE FOR ALL OUR SAKES AND YOURS KEEP HEPING BECAUSE THATS THE BEST WISH ANYONE COULD WANT



(and yes ive lived in my chilhood with siblings with adhd my husband as adhd and 3 children which all have adhd and u know that ive never ever said i hate adhd and i would never wish my familly without it)