Question to non-ADDers who have been married long term...20+ years..and anyone w/ADD who might have some input..

I keep seeing a theme...that the ADDers aren't capable of change...and it really makes me sad, regardless of circumstances, that this is something people truly feel. I think people are equally capable and incapable of change, across the board, and ADD plays a small role in it..maybe.

I went for years and years being domineering and bossy and thinking I was better than my husband and treating him like a child. You can say 'well, his ADD made him an asshole, so you were justified' but that is NOT TRUE and I refused to change as well. I am profoundly a different person today than I was even this time last year. I cannot blame MY BEHAVIOR on my husband, and just the same he cannot take any credit for me changing....and vice versa.

My thing is...I spent 6 years (of a 12 year marriage) living with his untreated ADD (wasn't diagnosed until June of this year) and no matter who was to blame it was HELL. I had gotten to the point that I couldn't even manage to cry over anything pertaining to my marriage anymore. I almost felt nothing. SO, I decided things would change. I am a firm believer that change, the most profound and real change, happens because of crisis or hitting 'rock bottom' so to speak, but I DO believe change is possible. Had I not kicked him out and decided to make myself happy, I would still possibly be living that life and he would still be chugging along as an untreated ADD a$$hole. (yes, very kind intentions, but zero follow through ability) Now his kind intentions are forefront...and getting better and better each day. If you live this life for 15 years, 20 years then what motivates them to change? The one thing I know for sure, my husband's idea of 'misery' in our marriage was nothing like mine...he hates for me to even say that I was miserable...even though I KNOW he was too, he has an amazing ability to live in denial as long as I he doesn't have to worry about me leaving him...or so things went for SOOOO many years. The one thing that would push the man over the edge of reason and bring out the absolute nasty side of him was for me to tell him I wanted a divorce. When I finally made him leave, he realized he was either going to change or never have his family back. It was 'motivation' for him...and NOTHING else had worked up until then.

Why do you feel so sure they're incapable of change? Have you ever done anything to 'motivate' them to change? Have they ever risked losing everything, been forced to step outside of their comfort zones, and forced to muster the courage to finally deal with life? I know it took me losing my father, which nearly destroyed me, to decide enough was I feel if I can change, why would I insist that anyone else not be capable?

For the ADDers..I'd like to hear from those of you who feel you have 'changed' (owned up to the ADD affects of your marriage) and how your mindset differs now vs. then.

Reason why

Simply put in my house my DH wants out I think. Not because he does not love his family. But because then he would not have to deal with the trash or the kids crying or the bills, or that the car needs oil, or feeding the kids. "Life" is so overwhelming...and it gets worse as life gets more compicated. So if I give him an drastic ultimatum like leaving him...then he wins but I look like the bad guy and my kids don't have a dad around. Like many ADD men he does not have  a job and would not a place for them to stay at. I would be good at visitations, but the separation is big on the kids.  I have almost left many times. My husband would not leave, I would have to do it and the shear thought of packing and breaking down beds is overwhelming to me. My husband knows he has ADD and does not seek treatment for it - rarely. is someone else's fault! Have you heard that one before??

But, in a way, when many of

But, in a way, when many of these men 'check out' and refuse to get help, they ARE getting what they want, to a certain degree. They're not having to 'deal' by being inattentive to everyone ... and they still get the stability of the marriage...the 'grounding' they need. Even if they're not happy. My husband was perfectly content to brush everything under the rug and resolve NOTHING and was a pro at pretending/convincing himself that if I wasn't mad at him..for a day or two we got along...that all was right with the world.  Unresolved issues? What? Huh? I used to think it was denial, but I think it is more of a coping mechanism for him.

Yes, blaming someone else is a very common way to survive as well. It is much easier to think that the other person is responsible for whatever hurtful behavior you're guilty of.."I'm going out to get drunk because you're a nag" "I'm angry and bitter because you go out and get drunk". Been there, done that. That was the hardest hurdle...first accepting that he was not ultimately responsible for my anger (Lord knows that was a tough one!!!) and getting him to stop saying "but you XXX" when he reacted to me in a hurtful way. "yes, maybe I did XXX...but that does not give you an excuse to react towards me with anger" especially since 9 times out of 10 his anger was due to his ability to twist me saying "the moon is made of cheese" into something like "you're stupid". Still working on that too, but getting much better. 

Thanks for your response...I wish your husband would get treatment. Copy & Paste some of Melissa's blogs (under her favs) about the ADD affects on marriage and e-mail them to him.

fuzzylogic72's picture

Don't worry about 'looking

Don't worry about 'looking like the bad guy'. And sometimes ultimatums are exactly what adhd's in denial need. And about visitations, and breakups being hard on the kids... I don't know; I can rememnber me and my sister asking eachother and my mom so many times (since early childhood) why she wouldn't leave my dad. Some of my worst traumas that I am still dealing with are the early memories, and sensations of emotional discord in the family; discord that would not have been there (at least not so acidic and damaging) had she left him. So I really think that's more looking for an excuse not to leave. Either be brave and stay, or be brave and leave... anything in between weakens everyone involved. Honestly, I've spent my entire life thinking about/dealing with this.

waynebloss's picture

I am one of the male ADDers

I have been married for 12 years now and it wasn't until recently that I made a change for the better.  The 1st 10 years I thought were great, I did not do the bills, worry about money, social calendar, or anything else that had to deal with our life.  My wife did all of that, at first she was hapy to be in control of everything.  Then some life changes were made and things started to fall apart.  She was no longer the bread winner, I was, so I took on that stress along with being told that I needed a college education to be anyone.  So I completed my B.S. and then went straight into my masters.  Not knowing what I was actually doing which was avoiding her, life, my 2 y/o and my newborn all at the same time.  I was going to school, working full time, working part time and when I was not doing that I was downstairs doing homework or "chatting" on line.  During this time I had an affair on my wife and was near the bottom.  She said she forgave me, but looking back I think she said that just to patch things, kind of like a band-aide over our problems.  Then 1 1/2 years ago we were camping with some friends, I had turned to alcohol to numb my brain from moving or thinking, it was calm once i was drunk!  My wife and I had a very BIG fight which drove us to the bottom where we started seeping through the cracks at the bottom.  About 3 months after that, we stopped being "married", I mean that we technically married but the friendship, the love, the trust was out the window!

Then my wife handed me a book and asked me to read it, "Driven to Distraction" was the book.  At first I was VERY pissed, yelled and told her HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I NEED TO READ THIS!! The typical ADD reaction when we are scared of the truth!  It took a bit but I finally read it, tears came down my face! I could not believe what I was reading, that this book opened my eyes to my world where I thought no one knew!  I still thank her today for that book, I also bought "Driven From Distraction" which was just as good as the first!  Things were still going downhill but a lot slower now!  We had another fight and that is when my wife told me what was going to happen, 1 - You ARE going to start seeing a counselor, 2 - You ARE going to see if medication is needed, 3 - You ARE going to start giving me space away from you/us! I was mad but knew that she was right, I had to do these things or she and the kids were going to be gone and I could not lose my kids!  I started down the road where I am today, I started seeing a counselor who has been wonderful, I also have started Vyvanse, which has been a miracle!!   The 3rd one I did not give her until about 4 weeks ago, I finally moved downstairs where I sleep/live once the kids go to bed.  We do not talk, we do not see each other except for in the morning and a little on the weekends.  I did not know how this was going until last week when we had our first talk since this happened.  She said the peace she has felt is something she has not felt for more than 20 months!  She feels better and has started to forgive me, which is making me happy!!   

Today my mind set is completely different than it was 6 months ago.  I used sit around thinking where is sh?e, why hasn't she called or text me?, why is she always going out with her friends? IT is her fault that we are like this, SHE would not talk to me, SHE hates me and is looking to leave! All the negativ stuff that comes with the ADD mind!!  It is hard to give her the space that she needs/wants to start healing, I am very unsecure right now, in a new world, learning different ways to think, different ways to handle things!  I am 6' 3" 200lbs (Just lost 90lbs!!) not too much scares me, but being alone in this new world scares the SH*% out of me!  As I have this time on my own, I am starting to learn more and starting to understand why and how ADD effects me.  I take complete responsibility for my actions, I do not blame my wife or ADD but now I know why did those things.  It is a long and hard road that my wife and I have started, I am not big on patience as well so this time now is hard but if I am going to be a better person, a better father, a better friend and a better husband then I need to "buck up", do the time for my crime and hope for the best.  I do love my wife, and I think she still loves me but right now we are nothing but roommates and mom/dad, which is very hard but I do understand. 

You asked a question but I do not like how you worded it.  I do not "feel" that I have changed, I know that I have changed!  Someone who feels it but does not know it has not changed, they are just going through the motions to make someone happy but not themselves.  The changes I have made in my life within the last 6 months is something that only God himself saw coming!  I am a nurse, a stubborn headed man who was taught that you show no emotion, you take care of your family and if you do not then you are not a man!  To hear that I failed, that I did not take care of my family, instead I almost destroyed it!!  I was, still am ashamed of my actions and what I did.  I do not live in the past, I do not sit and ponder why I did those things, I do not think of my wife and how she was a part of that.  Now I move on, keep on making that changes that I started and pray that God sees it that she stays in my life and we once again can tell each other the 3 words that I have not heard in 7 months....I Love You! 

fuzzylogic72's picture

wisdom in your words


I wish some divine force could transplant your realizations into the minds and hearts of every single person loving/living with an adhd person. Your words capture what I believe to be the truth; it's not about 'accepting', or 'dealing with' our differences as human beings... it's about realizing, and building on the similarities. We all just want to love and be loved. All of us. And there is no excuse for not trying to change. For any of us.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Non-ADD spouse's reply - a stay-at-home Mom

It would be great if I could place my 51 year old wisdom back into my 25 year old being.  But I cannot.

When I know better, I do better.

In 1982, at 23, I had my own apartment, had a brand new car, and worked a 40 hour job in accounting.

When I met my soon-to-be spouse, I was an emotional wreck. He rode up on his white horse and rescued me. But once I was rescued - I was, well, rescued. Didn't need to be rescued any more.

My dream was to be a stay-at-home Mom and have 12 children.  My husband's dream was to own his own business, and be able to make enough money to provide for his family with that business.  I really thought we would make a great partnership because he was great at what he did, and I had business savvy from 7 years of employment  experience. 

We married and 5 years later had our first of two children.  I adjusted my dream of having 12 children by divine wisdom!  I supported my husband's choice to be self-employed.  We could have lived his dream quite nicely - if we lived inside the means his business provided.  But he could not - and I allowed him to  control the financial decisions with his anger.  

When he wanted something, a $60K house when we could afford a $40K house - a $40K addition to the house to make a second bedroom instead of a wall to make one bedroom into two - I always, always buckled under his cold-shoulder. 

I guess I was subconsciously preserving my own ability to be a stay-at-home Mom.  But after a few years, he strongly was suggesting I needed to get a job to improve our financial status. 

That caused me to become angry.  I was still supporting his choice to remain self-employed, but he was no longer supporting me being a stay-at-home Mom.   Funny thing, he would often make irrational comments about the poor-behavior of kids who had 2 working parents - but then come right back at me about not adding to the financial stability of our home.  He compared our financial status to his self-employed friends - but refused to acknowledge that his friends were DIVORCED.  To me, divorce was a very high price to pay.

He also could not let me help him with his business.  I could pay the bills - and that was all the input he could use from me.  He ran the business his way - with no business experience or education.  I felt - and to this day feel - he had absolutely no use for my skills.

Somehow he could not see that my being a stay-at-home Mom added to his ability to be self employed.  I did all the book work for his business without being paid, I handled the family finances, I bought his uniforms, I did all the household chores, I did the laundry, I drove the children to school and activities, I did the grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc.

In my opinion, if we lived within the  budget his business income provided, we would have been fine.  Besides, why was it my dream that had to go - why not give up his business and get a regular job with benefits? 

Now my children are out of high school.  I have accomplished my stay-at-home Mom dream!  I have started my own business, and now have the wisdom to look back and wonder why, oh why, did I let his anger control me?  Why did I put up with his non-support of me?  I don't know.  Low self-esteem on my part?  I don't really think so - but it could be. 

He has never cheated on me, never drank, never spent irrationally - like buying a boat or fancy car or gambling - but - he also had no room for my gifts or talents.  He'll do it himself, he'll do it himself, he'll do it himself.

He says he loves me.  Says he doesn't want to lose me. Says, says, says, says. 

Does he change?  No.