Re: keeping it all inside

My ADHD husband has told me, "I keep things inside me, even though I'm really upset about something, but you have a harder time doing that". This doesn't make sense to me, because I believe that open communication is the key to a good relationship,  not "keeping it all inside". I don't nag or yell at him about things, I've  never been a nag, because I don't like that, but he REALLY has a hard time when I want to openly discuss something. He can talk for hours on lots of other things, but when it comes to US, he totally clams up. I don't understand. He is really trying in "actions" to make things better. He is now cooking some dinners (which is great and I love that) and is taking me on a date night occasionally (which again, I love) and is trying hard not to say things as harshly and condescending (and I praise him on his efforts).

    The tension of not having a sex life anymore, really DOES get to me at times, and I end up crying and he doesn't like that I feel bad. It feels to me like he prides himself in keeping his thoughts to himself, like that is somehow stronger than releasing them. What do I do with this, if anything, or am I approaching this wrong?

I think "keeping it all

I think "keeping it all inside" is more of a man thing, than an ADHD thing. However, I think (in my marriage anyway) the ADHD aspect of it adds a little more to the table in that they HATE (feel overwhelmed) dealing with emotions. Men are by nature, not 'emotional' thinkers...women are, after all, the 'right brainers', men the 'left brainers'. Men want to just do some mechanical action (wash dishes, hug, have sex) that is their way of saying "ok, it's fixed". ADHD makes them quicker to 'forgive and forget' and it also makes them REALLLLLY want to avoid having to discuss emotional issues that clog up their already chaotic minds. Sweeping it under the rug....that's what I said for YEARS about my husband (before knowing he had ADHD).."he just wants to sweep everything under the rug and deal with nothing!!" It drove me nuts. HOWEVER, my personality is a 'fix it NOW' type personality...and it took a long time for me to accept that I drive him nuts too!!

What has worked for us is A) we keep the most important "deep" issues strictly to our counseling sessions. It does NOT have to be fixed right now. I'm not doing 100% at this yet, but getting there. B) If I have an issue that needs to be addressed in real time, cannot wait for counseling, I address it in 2 minutes or less. "that was really hurtful to me that you did that" or "I really miss cuddling with you since we got the remodeling of the den finished" (yay!..not) and I leave it at that. Period. I don't stay mad, I don't demand he agree, I don't demand he apologize (although it is nice when he does).

I do find that he always has the same excuse "I have a lot on my mind" and this seems to be his 'reason' for most anything he does...act grouchy, stay up too late, not go to bed when I do, not have sex, do something hurtful, etc. Where I am hoping to 'reach' him soon is to try and make him aware that there are tools to help him deal with "a lot of stuff" on his mind so that everyone else doesn't suffer. I tried to mention this to him recently, finding better ways to cope with his stress, but he took it the wrong way so I dropped it for now. I am finding this as a bigger issue than I previously thought. What I feel happens is that he does 'keep it inside' and has an amazing ability to do so for months...even years...but then all of the sudden he blows like a #$*%#$ time bomb and starts to unravel. Where he thinks he's got 'ways of coping', I truly feel he's wrong...that he's pretty much not coping at all..just surviving. I'm praying about it...until I feel I can approach it with him again..but our counselor could help him tremendously with this issue and give him tools to use to avoid the build up and inevitable explosion. This is more work related than marriage related, but in the past he has done this in our marriage...and gotten to the point where, after about 5 years of 'keeping it all inside' he exploded...unraveled...and cheated. He has to learn 'different', as Melissa says.

***afterthought...I meant to make the point that there are times we ALL have "a lot" on our minds, but the difference for most is that it doesn't mean an automatic shut down of the marriage, the family, and the involvement in the lives of those who love us. For an ADHDer who ISN'T coping, but think they are, this is the result...and it's not healthy for anyone involved.

So, what your husband is doing, in my opinion is trying to get you to just NOT talk about things that make him uncomfortable and making you feel bad about YOU to achieve this goal...when the reality is, HE is the one who has the discomfort problem discussing anything significant, and in true ADHD form, he's projecting the problem onto you, as YOURS, because it is easier than admitting that it is wrong to "keep it all inside". Honestly, I think that he probably keeps nothing inside....because it isn't a matter of that, it is a matter of just not wanting to deal with it at all. When he is successful in stopping a conversation in it's tracks, then he's done 'dealing with it' period. My husband used to be a master of saying what I wanted to hear just to make the peace and get me to drop the subject and then 2 days later we were facing the same exact issue. Nothing changed.

As for the sex life..this is where I would URGE counseling for the two of is not a reasonable expectation for you to live without sex...and I think he needs to start being honest with himself about why he isn't wanting sex with you more. Something is wrong...and it needs to be addressed. My husband's sex drive is much, much slower than mine..we may have sex once a month these days. THAT is an issue for me, but I am trying to live with it...I honestly don't know how you've managed to 'accept' once a year as OK. Well, apparently it isn't...and you have every right to know what the hell is going on with him. Has he had his testosterone level checked?

DF's picture


I'm in a bit of opposite situation on the intimate life.  I have always had a strong drive, a long hug gets me all buzzing, but as I've not communicated this well with my wife we've gotten to the point where she is not only frustrated with me, but now we're not being intimate either.  This is something that I'm coping with and trying to find ways to warm her heart again.


I have urged counceling, but due to annoying persistance, I told her after the last time that I would not push her about it.  The difference now vs. then is that I'm in a different place and I'm aware of my problem.  I know it would help us soooo much to do counceling and I'd even stay away if she didn't feel comfortable with me there. 

The intimacy is so important to me, but I don't feel her interest in me - at all.  I want so bad to just touch her, but even in her sleep I feel rejection.  Just a simple touch, nothing more.  I can only remember touching in her sleep once this year.  I fretted over doing it when I woke up in the middle of the night.  Took me a long long time with my head racing to get the courage to place my fingers on her back.  She did not move, but I dared not do something so stupid as to accidently wake her.  Had she rolled over away from me I would have had a long sleepless night. 

Look - I guess I've been annoying in things I've done over the years.  You may feel that a simple touch is no big deal, but she told me once I had a way about it that it just bothered her and so I want to make sure I don't draw her ire.  So I'm forehead deep into a darned if you do, darned if you don't situation.  I miss everything about her and without her voice I have no way of knowing how to go about getting a simple hug.

I see people in the posts telling us to stop beating ourselves up.  I'm newly diagnosed.  I've got a lot of pounding yet to do before I could ever think of letting go.  I'm the reason I'm in this mess.  She tried to tell me.  I feel so compeletly horrible for the way I've treated her.  I'm so adamant about trying so hard to address me and give her time and space because I'm freaking out that if I dare ask her for a second chance, she'll tell me no.

I miss making her smile........

My g-d DF

If somebody doesn't hug you soon you may blow up. You are so intense right now. I send you a virtual hug. I hope it helps. I think you may need some dark chocolate too. Don't laugh, 80% coco stimulates endorphins. Also remember, if you want her to smile you have to smile too.

DF's picture


I gave up candy for Lent!  I love dark chocolate.

"...if you want her to smile you have to smile too...." - <sigh>.  You are so very correct.  As for my intensity that's because I've not discussed anything with anyone for gosh darn long I'm a flurry of emotions.  I keep people at arms length ( wife included ).  I don't like posting my personal business over the entire internet, but I've never wanted help so bad at anything as I need it now.

I've mentioned before that finding this out so late in life is like just now finding out I'm adopted.  My whole life has been nothing like I've perceived and it has hurt my relationship with my immediate family and my wife who means everything to me.  I've never been so angry with myself.  So ignorant and blind.  I know I will get better with coping and will actively pursue meds, but I'm grieving and need to before I can restructure and begin again in control of the freight train. 

I want very much to talk with my wife about what this is all like, but I don't want her to get upset.  My focus for so many months now has been her happiness and giving her whatever space she needs.   I have a name for my issue that has been mysterious to me for so long.   It will be far easier for me to address my diagnosis than it will be for her to let me back into her heart.  Because of her I will stay true to my course, but I will miss her so much and I can't help that.   

DF Take it slow!!

You are on overload- a totally understandable thing but try to slow down for a moment. Are you seeing a counselor right now by yourself (one knowledgeable about adhd). You seem to be very intense, anxious, upset, confused, caring, loving, shall I go on?! In other words, you are trying to process so much- just as we all have had to some extent (both we nonadhd spouses and adhd partners alike). You are so right about being in part grieving. I feel like I have an inkling what your wife may be feeling- let her have her own time to process while you work on your feelings and positive coping mechanisms. The meds are a big issue that can be incredible but sometimes with side effects (at least that is what I feel). Please be willing to include or ask your wife to be a part of that process- she mifht notice changes in your behavior (good and bad) that you might not notice. Take yyz advice about exercise- if you forgive me, it sounds lke you have a lot of excess nervous energy that can be better channeled into some form of cardiovascular exercise. Eat well. Read: how about driven to distraction, and melissa orlovs book for starters. You MUST work on yourself because you must put yourself as a priority right now- to learn, to cope, to grow into this understanding. Please, as someone who has suffered myself w debilitaring low self esteem, I know it carries not a lot of weight to say feel good about yourself, etc.. But you must try to get past berating your past wrongs as a sgn of your personal defect. Own those past actions yes, but step forward with learning how to cope w these still ongoing symptoms for your today and all your tomorrows. *** interesting how both you and yyz spoke about lying awake at night waiting and hoping for interaction w your wife. Mine has said something similar. Can I tell you that at least in my case, I needed my spouse to first acknowledge all the stuff he had been doing- i felt he had put up the wall between us in bed and I was too angry and resentful to get closer when he could not seem to stop his inattentive and downright rude behavior during the day. What has made me get past this? Education in what adhd is, ccommunication with my spouse (one suggestion: open lines of long since closed communication by writing short notes to each other. How you feel. How much you appreciate her. One small note every 2-3 days. Writing can be a less volatile and less easy to misinterpret way to start talking.) Allow time to heal. Reading. My own counselng sessions. More reading. Lol- it is a long process so do not burn yourself out all at once. This is a long but necessary process to learn how to move forward. Hope this makes some sense- I'm really tired today!