I have been reading the contributions on this site for almost a year now and feel that I should make my own. Whilst reading up about child ADHD I happened upon a link to adult ADHD. I clicked and read and it was the biggest and brightest light bulb moment I've ever had.I have been married for 30 years. Like so many of us, I met and married my husband after a whirl wind romance, having been in a steady relationship for 5 years. He was, and is, a good man. He was, and is, a good father.He has always worked hard. But he has been a bad husband.
Like so many of us, I also carry baggage from my upbringing. My dad, I can now see, was an emotionally stunted man who had narcissistic tendencies. He was physically violent to my mum and to us children. He was an angry man who was also a coward. My mum was very young when she met and married him (4 months pregnant with me). He was a serial philanderer who kept her short of money. Once the children were at school she found herself a job and that's when my father's jealousy really kicked in. He tried to prevent her from socialising and would beat her up to leave bruises to stop her leaving the house. My mum stood up to him and he didn't like it. I spent my childhood 'being good' and being able to 'mind read' situations.My mum eventually left him and got a divorce. He used my siblings as pawns ( I had left home to go to university) in appalling ways right up until he died. He cut my one sister and I out of his will.My other siblings took the money and ran, even though we had made an agreement that what ever was left to the children would be shared 5 ways in recognition that we had all suffered.My sister and I walked away from the situation and out of their lives.
My love map was geared to finding someone who was kind, gentle and not violent. I found him. BUT..........he has driven me to utter, utter despair over the years. I have had mental and physical burn out (not a break down - my mind was totally clear, but my body physically shut down). I tried everything I could to get him to meet me half way with house hold chores, planning ahead, social events, sex. I have left him twice. All the time reading, thinking,trying to work out this man who in public was charming and sociable but in private treated me like the housekeeper and protected himself with what seemed like a fortress wall. We tried counselling (3 times). I worked on coming to terms with my upbringing, reconciling and grieving for the childhood I never had. Reconciling and grieving for the father I never had because his own issues were too large. And reconciling and grieving for a mother who couldn't bear anyone to be better than her and resented having children who had achieved in spite of, rather than because of their upbringing.
My husband was only motivated by what motivated him. He couldn't see a problem with that. He didn't want to do something, so he didn't. When he was motivated, he was a dynamo. He liked the admiration and praise. He didn't notice the little shadow working quietly in the back ground, clearing up his mess, cooking, shopping, looking after our child and working full time. At one time we had his sister living with us and his mother turning up at weekends because her 3rd marriage was breaking down. I felt like I was the master plate juggler.
I was angry, exhausted and totally ground down.I couldn't turn to my own family- they wouldn't have understood and would have been judgemental. I tried ignoring. I tried screaming in his face, which was so humiliating. I considered that his behaviour was passive- aggressive. He fitted a lot of the profile. He fought me every step of the way, refusing to read or talk about this. There was nothing wrong with him. I was the one with a dysfunctional family. This was my problem. But I knew that what ever had happened in my childhood, it was not entirely to blame for what was happening between us. I continued to try. He continued with serial obsessions. The longest involved him running a football team in order for our son to have access to a sport that he loved.For over ten years he spent evenings and weekends doing this. Someone had to keep the home running. I became an expert in doing all the background stuff so that he could 'grandstand' in public. Everyone loved him. I was a dour,miserable cow. I resented our family and friends not being able to see through this. I tried talking to his mum -big, big mistake. Her children are perfect and my husband in particular is the golden child. It must be me. But I knew that it wasn't entirely me.
Things came to a head about 6 years ago, after a family holiday where I was scape goated again. I told my husband I was no longer prepared to act as the buffer between him and his mother. ( He would quite happily ignore her, leaving me to manage what I now see is her own ADHD behaviour).
My own parents got ill. They both died within 12 months of each other. I had spent 2 years with a sibling refurbishing my dad's house because he didn't want strangers doing it. I spent the following 2 years caring for my mum. I continued to work full time. I continued to to be sad and angry with my husband.
SO - what has made the difference between us? Why do I now feel hope and a sense of peace for the first time in my marriage?
1) We moved house. My husband could not see that where we live was not suitable. He was happy, so there was no problem. We have moved to a place where we are both unbelievably happy.
2) I found out by chance about adult ADHD and when I showed my husband the article, he simply said 'that's me isn't it?' This alone has given me enough strength to work this through.
Overnight, I changed the way I perceived his behaviours. I got it. He wasn't being mean to me on purpose. He was like this generally, but others didn't spend enough time around him to notice, plus, in his family, such behaviours were the norm.
3) I bought Melissa's book and encouraged him to read it with me. When I realised that he'd only read up to page 28, and I had nearly finished it, I told him that I wouldn't read anymore until he caught up. He still hasn't read it. I've read it through twice. But it's ok. We have placed his behaviours and the vicious cycle of symptoms and response into the 'that's the ADHD effect' box.
4) We have learned to laugh with each other again. And about the ADHD.
5) He has recognised what he has put us through and is willing to have a go. That is worth millions in my bank.
I have no doubt that there will be times when I reach for this forum to vent or to add a comment, but for now we are both hopeful that we can reach a peace. We have managed to be able to continue to love each other in the face of unbelievably difficult life events.
We're still here and and hanging on.