I said, "I am going to grow up.  I am going to stop letting my emotions rule me.  I will feel the emotion.  Stop to think of what and why that emotion is with me.  What I want to do about the emotion.  Then I will let the emotion go.  I permitted the ideas and feelings of romance and love and art and sensitivity be part of who I am too much.  I must stop that now and be mature and be accountable for my own emotional well-being."    He said, "You and I are the exact opposites.  You have too much emotion.  I have none at all.  I try to feel emotion, but I can't"  

This I suspected for a long time but didn't want to accept.  He does not feel shame, guilt, love, joy, regret.   He says things that are an attempt to make him "look" like a person with normal feelings. He distracts any deep conversations and turns to jokes, sarcasm, or argument to hide this.  This is not ADD I don't think.  But this is what I had been battling.  I am learning more about functional psychopaths.  It has been hard to be married to someone who is just acting and reciting words to make him "seem" like he has feelings....sentimental even.  But this is the real reason dh does not come through for us long term.  This is why he is not motivated long term to any promise. There is no feeling of love and care or guilt or shame to keep him motivated longer than his need to seem to the world and to himself like he has normal feelings of love and care and compassion and responsibility.  He says the words, puts on the act for a little while and then he is done with it...mission accomplished as far as his mind is concerned because he only needed to get through the conversation "seeming" like a nice guy.

This is the reason he does not even respect me, much less love me.  He has manipulated me without shame to take care of him. Then looks down on me for being a maleable rube.  I am saying this with sadness.  It is something for me to grieve the truth I had been not wanting to accept.  I have given my children a father unable to share real feelings and it scares me to wonder what effect this will have on their lives.

playing the role

My husband has some feelings but seemingly none that involve me.  This morning, the combination of his behavior and the Academy Awards brought this thought to mind:  my spouse goes through the motions of being a husband when he's in public or at his therapist's, but that's it, it's just a role.  

wow I am not alone!

I feel the same way in my marriage.  It feels fake when are with others because there is nothing there at home. Going through the motions describes my husband.  I totally understand. Thanks for putting it into words.  


How does your husband describe it?

Sometimes I see men (in particular) who don't risk emotions because they wish to please a partner and fear that they will be rejected or hurt or told they did the wrong thing.  It's a bit like the elementary school child who takes on the mantle of class clown because that's the only way he/she feels he/she can get any respect.  When you ask these partners what is going on, they may admit that they really feel like a failure and are embarrassed by this, so they avoid putting themselves out, including emotionally.

Or, it could be that your partner simply doesn't have feelings.

In any event, it's worth asking the question - perhaps with the help of a professional.  I feel sad about the story you relay - we all dive into marriage hoping that our partners will support us and love us...

Thanks Melissa

It could be worth a try on my part to ask my husband what is going on.  I have tried to ask him before about himself before but the subject got changed..  I actually don't think he knows. He has been this way since I met him but not as bad.  He doesn't like to communicate, doesn't even want a cell phone to keep in touch.  He does have his weekly running with a group of running friends, but we have not done very much of anything together for a long time except family vacations and once in a while family dinners out.   He didn't want anyone to watch the kids when they were small.  He has said that we will have lots of time when they move out to spend together and I knew that wasn't right.  And now I know it isn't right because I don't want to spend time with him.  There could very well be some past issues of his childhood that are hurting him.  His family knows he is this way for the most part and he doesn't have much contact with them.  I have been a stay at home mom for 16 years and now am venturing out with part time work.  It is hard to get back out there, especially thinking that I may have to be on my own now.  I have a quiet personality and have been in a controlling relationship for so long.  With also some emotional/verbal abuse thrown in.   I am very scared about the whole situation.  He is a very negative person that has a get even attitude if something doesn't go his way and trust issues.  When I do bring up something about myself, he doesn't react and barely says anything to support what I want to do.  I have felt that I am just plain stuck.  I am wondering how in the world I got into this situation, but it just happened because things just gradually changed and I didn't realize it until recently.  The kids were always the number one priority (one with ADHD) and now that they are older I am recognizing that it isn't normal.  I need to get stronger and to realize that I am important.  Learn how to have higher self esteem which is hard for me.  We only get one life and I would like to be happy.   I honestly was very proud that we were married for almost 23 years now, but now I don't think it to be that way because of how my feelings have changed.  I have a lot of feelings and they just kept being pushed down.  My friends and family have told me that I am a different person when I am by myself.  I have figured that out too.  Thanks so much for your thoughts and for writing your book!  It is helping so many people!  ...Kaymarie   

We have had marriage counseling about 6 years ago and it seemed to help but at the time I didn't realize that we should have looked for a professional with ADHD experience.  I guess it took a little time but things went back to the way they were.  Just like now, he knows that I am not happy and wants to fix it.  It is ok for while but the negativity just brings me down so much along with the now feeling way we live.  I think part of this is the ADHD but most of it is his personality.  thanks again...

What a terrible thing to find

What a terrible thing to find out.  It's somewhat odd that he has the desire to play the role.  Although I suppose having someone care for him is plus.  I am so sorry for you and your kids.  As parents you teach your children how to have inter-relationships and that certainly isn't what you want your kids to learn.  But remember, you are only responsible for your own behavior.  You can try to mitigate his lack of affection but you can't eliminate it or fix it.  If he truly feels no emotion, it certainly isn't ADHD.  The ADHD individual usually experiences more extremes of emotions, or doesn't process them well, but they certainly have them.  Good luck in dealing with this.

I agree

I do have ADHD and have so many emotions. I feel a lot, sometimes to an extreme. I am so sorry you are going through this, and I hate to say, I can relate. I am currently going through a divorce with a non-ADHD  spouse, and I feel like I gave so many emotions, and he gave none. It's hard, sad, and draining. When you feel like you gave your life to someone, always looking for SOME emotion, and then they leave. So sad, and it hurts so bad. I hope you do well.  :)


I think that my husband has feelings but that he does not want to deal with the fact that I do, too.  His behavior in this area bears some resemblance to the child-mother dynamic.  He wants to tell me things about himself, show how sad he is, etc., but he has no interest in, and in fact an aversion to, me expressing my feelings.  He wants to be taken care of but he doesn't want to provide care or support to me.    

same for me

I think you are describing my husband to a tee!

Apparently we married the

Apparently we married the same man.  He gets to vent but doesn't feel like listening.  We did a values bracket; list of values from which we pick 12 then narrow down to 3 by using a sports bracket playoff concept.  We each did our own separately and it was illuminating to discover that while mine were a mix of myself and others (caring, integrity and security), his were all self-focused (well-being, wonder, and mindfulness).  This helped me realize that while he does value me its completely within his values to focus only on himself, and others as they relate to him, rather than as independent units.  Well ok then.  Next step is to decide if that's a deal killer.  So far not.  But then one has to accept that it's unreasonable to expect him to act in a caring nurturing way, because it's not a priority on the value scale.


Always gets to vent but I don't.  I am a very caring, patient person and have been there for him.  But is took its toll on me and I don't know if I can get my feelings back.  You know they won't change and I am not getting the validation to help.  Hang in there!  I am trying but I am running out of survival skills.

Emotions are good

You sound very much like me, Jennalemon.  Please don't change who you are because I have been there and it just doesn't work!  I can't be a non feeling person just because he is that way.  I have suspected the same as you for a long time but I didn't want to accept it either.  It is so true when he does or says things that make him look like a person with feelings.  Friends and and others don't know the real him like we do.  OMG, no deep conversations and always the sarcasm, jokes or argmuments.  I have begun to realize that this is not part of ADHD but not sure.  Mine is a very negative person.  It has brought me down for over 20 years.  It is so easy for him to dismiss my feelings and I am so frustrated that he doesn't listen or hear what I am saying.  I have begun to know that it is not me and not just in my head.  I am very sad too and I am hoping my kids won't be effected heavily by all of this.  I have just read Melissa's book and it is very enlightening.  I wish I could have read it 10-15 years ago, but we have other non-feeling issues involved as well.  I have friends that have ADD or ADHD and they have normal feelings.  I have been a stay at home mom and am in a very difficult position to figure out.  I know he loves me but is it enough?  My heart hurts so much.  But I am very thankful to find out that the rudeness and blurting things out has validation but not by him.  He denies being rude and says that he is just a loud talker.  Thanks for posting...very emotional for me...crying is good too, right.  Best of luck to you.. hugs.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Those confusing emotions


I am reading through this thread with much interest.  One of the things that first attracted me to my spouse was his seemingly antenna-like ability to feel/find a person in pain amidst a full room of people.  He said he had a second-sense to people's pain.

Now, almost 30 years later, he still has the ability - but only towards others - outside of our marriage.  And it has taken on a strange flavor:  He is drawn like a magnet to unsavory people.  Says he has a kindred spirit to hurting people.  Tries to be a savior-like friend to people who have nothing to give him back.  He is used by these people - taken advantage of by these people - and then he feels terribly let down. 

And the anger at those unsavory people appears to be taken out on me.  Why would he devote so much time and attention to these users, and yet be angry and mean to his wife, who only wants to love him and be loved by him?

I grow weary.

He remains at the position of he can do no wrong.  Most especially is his attitude "of I didn't purposely hurt you, you are not allowed to be hurt." 

He cannot see nor understand that being forgotten hurts me.  Not being asked what I would like hurts me.  Doing things 'his way' without my input hurt me. "It's his way or the highway" hurts me.  Not being able to compromise hurts me. 

He cannot see not accept not understand that any of the adhd traits cause problems in relationships.

It is sad.



Irony hurts

First I want to say that being hurt by your husband's very poor behavior is a very reasonable reaction.  And living hurt is no way to live.  But his adhd symptoms are not personal.  He most likely did not mean to hurt you.  One of the things we learn in therapy is that we choose how we react to negative stimuli.  Yes it is hard to not have a negative reaction but if you internalize that adhd is not personal then you can let that hurt go faster.

Unfortunately another thing we learn in therapy is that we can not make people change.  My therapist caused sleepless nights with the question of what happens if nothing changes, because it is most likely not going to change significantly.  Can I live with that?  I don't know.  The only suggestion I have is the next time your hubby starts down the road with a new damaged soul and complains, ask him why he thought this time would be different?  I have to remind my husband that the people that drive him crazy time and again are doing the same things why would you expect differently?  Or point out that is was bound to happen since he went down the same path.

To the extent that his behavior effects you directly, try to tell him how you feel at the time. Don't criticize his behavior but say that you feel disregarded when he talks at length about other people's problems but don't ask how I am doing. 

Best wishes

Dear Exhausted

My DH is drawn to unsavory people also. He believes he is helping them by being willing to spend time with them and listen to them and accept them as friends.  He is also drawn to Homer Simpson & Family Guy.  He also hoards dirty junk and is focused on recycling old junk that he collects from anyone who wants to get rid of any machinery.  He spends ALL his free time removing screws from machinery and categorizes the pieces.  These pails of rusty, greasy, categorized junk literally line the walls of our once beautiful, now dark, dirty and dingy home garage.  It is a testament to decades of him sitting with his beers, cigars and dirty tools by himself diverting himself from anything more overwhelming or challenging...like responsibilities.

I have always known that he takes his disappointment and frustrations of the world out on me.  I thought I was strong enough to take it and didn't want him to take it out on the kids.  He would be mad at the world and then emotionally make me pay for it by ignoring me, manipulating me and "getting his way" with me. The only place he seems to have power and control is with me....and I had let him.   He seems to pride himself with his ability to get a way with things and not be responsible.  Yet, he thinks he is a great husband and father because he has such a fun personality (in his own mind).

The questions is, "Why have I let this happen to me?"  Why did I not let myself see it?  Why have I permitted myself and my children to be in a lifetime with him?  I didn't know any options. I was taught that sacrifice was LOVE (John 3:16).  I was taught that a woman served her family and husband (Proverbs 31 (10-31).   I listened to romantic songs of the 60s-70's which told me LOVE was what girls did.  Leo Bascaglia taught us the most important thing is LOVE.  Girls Scouts taught me to SERVE.  Church taught me to serve first God, then others then myself.  LOVE was the most important thing in the world and Mother Theresa was the epitome of love in modern times.  We we told to love EVERYONE. I was taught this over and over: "But I tell you, don't resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Mathew 5:39).

Now I am learning that I am probably a co-dependent enabler. That I should look inside myself to know what I contributed to any dysfunctional relationships.  I loved. I gave my self away.  There is nothing left of me. I have taken on a victim mentality. 

I am guessing there are a lot of women who had the same upbringing as I had and took away the same life lessons that I did.  So how do we teach young people to love with eyes open?  To love but not permit your heart and soul to be diminished by someone who tells you they love you but ignores your well being?  How do you fight to keep your self intact and healthy when you were taught that fighting was bad and that love conquers all?

I am exhausted too.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

I'm feeling like a fool


I can say, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes." I didi my side, but I am surely not being loved  by my spouse as Christ loved His Church. 

A few days ago I found an interesting conversation goin on in the "Other" section of this forum.  The title of the thread.  "What role does Christian Faith have in your marriage to an ADHD partner? (For those who are Christians)"

You may find it interesting, too.