Recently diagnosed with ADD, Marriage in turmoil

I was diagnosed with AD(H)D back in April of this year(2011). Prior to this profound discovery, the communication with my newly married wife was starting to get worse and worse, some days we speak no more than "Hi, Hello, I love you (seems hollow), Goodbye, and so on. We had been seeing an MFT and myself with anxiety disorder that was masked with an undiagnosed ADHD. My wife bless her heart is a VERY intelligent woman BSN in Nursing, BA in Psychology. She had suggested I get tested for ADHD. I had agreed and the finding was yes in fact I do have ADHD. It shed light on the issues with the communication problems with my wife. At first it was like a feeling of "Oh My God" this explains everything. Seemed to be a great revelation to the issues at hand.

After learning of this Psychiatric epiphany, I made the move to start learning as much as I can, purchasing books, including the one mentioned on this site. I learned an overload of information, suggested to my wife who had heard of ADHD but never had a strong intellectual basis of the disorder. She started reading the books and reading information on the internet regarding the non-adhd spouse and they're experiences. It seemed to just set off a ticking time bomb of emotions, anger, resentment, to name a few emotions.

We have seem to hit a stumble with our own path to making the disorder coexist in a manageable way that is not destructive to our relationship. She has concerns that the steps that I have taken have not worked. Steps include; The meds (Adderal, Celexa), seeing a MFT, seeing a couples MFT who s has the most experience with ADHD in our area. I've been taking accountability for my issues and not blaming anyone for the ADHD & only accepting it and trying to make it work for us. The depression and my initial reactions of shock and awe have passed. As I said before, from what I understand I am doing everything I can possibly to control and dampen the effect on our relationship. The PsyD has told me many times this is going to take time to get the balance of medications working correctly to lessen the effects of the ADHD on myself and my marriage. I have some feelings, hurt, dismay, depressed feelings of responsibility to the issues that plague us. I am at the point with my MFT, the new couple MFT, we can't move any further until something happens with one of the number of things on our plate of issues.

Here is where the underlying issue is, the resentment, anger, disappointment, frustration, and myriad of emotions on her side. I have a constant guilt about what I've done passively to the relationship, and it hurts. Knowing that I was the one who brought this into our relationship pains me more then I think I could ever tell my wife. The thought that I emotionally hurt her is a huge blow to my self esteem.

This leads me to my questions given the limited background (I could on for days regarding this), where do I go from here? I feel I am on a waiting game with the PsyD with regard to Rx's, a waiting game with the MFT's to what is the next step. However the frustration, anger, resentment, etc, just keeps building it seems with no end in sight, my wife has started to see her own MFT to work on some of her own issues, but this is not even close to being at a point we can both agree progress is being made.  I want the resentment to go away, and I truly want her happy.  Moreover I want us happy. However it seems elusive. What else is there I can be doing, the responsibility that I have to correct this is very clear to me. Working past the initial shock and awe was hard, and I know there is a ton of things I need to work on but I can only do one thing at a time, otherwise I obviously 19 things get started and not finished.

Very similar!

I too was diagnosed for the first time back in March of this year.  I was a splintering realization, because, like you, it explained so much, yet what a horrible shame that nothing had been done earlier.  I find that my medications are working ok, though it seems time to try a slightly different dosage, just to see if there's a 'better'. 

A) So yes, some of the changes include just waiting and experimenting cautiously with different dosages, to get the best one for you, while still keeping in mind that there may not be a best one, and the best one may also change over time.

I've been married 17 years this month (17th!  Coming up - anyone have a suggestion?  My wife is very anti-materialistic...) and my realization, like yours, was profound sadness and distress that I had caused her so much hurt.  But -

B) Don't let the knowledge of the hurt you've caused poison you.  Apologize sincerely, take ownership of your condition(s), and ask your wife to work with you on what you can change - the future. 

I've apologized many times over the last few months, in person, in writing, via email and ink.  I've said it with flowers, with attention - and with in-attention (because she's more of a loner, and I dislike being alone).  Sadly for me, she's not really forgiven me for the past, not willing to let go of the past hurts, and not willing to commit to the future.  Interestingly, in my case, I'm the one that's craving measurable progress.  My wife say it all takes time.  And on some levels, I know she's right - many years of slow decline can't be reset in a month, a season, or God help me, a year. 

C) So when your wife says that she's concerned that the steps aren't working, she's right - but she may mean that it's the steps that she needs to take about her emotions and feelings.  I know my wife has many of what sounds to be similar issues, but neither you nor I can 'fix' them.  They have to accept that what's happened can't be changed, but that they can take a role in changing the future. 

Maybe she can give you some milestones or progress points?  I know that with my ADHD, I like a specific task.  If I have a measurable goal I can work towards, then I'm usually pretty good at it.  It's a list of clients to contact, or a party to set up next weekend, then fine.  If it's a six-month project or a 'don't make me mad' request, then it's hopeless.

D) My conclusion:  We can only blame ourselves so long, and six months sounds like long enough.  We all need to stick with the medicine, experiment to find the right dosages, and continue counseling.  We need  to have some ongoing empathy for our non-ADHD spouses for the future going forward, and we need to support them in working through their own issues.  It would be great if we ADHDers had some specific guidelines (Melissa's suggestion for Boundaries I think works especially well for the non-ADHD partner), but in the absence of specifics, all we can do is change ourselves, and invite the other spouse to come along.  I can't believe that I am the one saying this, because honestly, I have almost no patience to wait for my wife to catch up to here I am, (I've crossed the anger bridge and am waiting, foot tapping, on the friendship shore, alone)..

But it sounds we both have to wait on them to recognize the changes, accept that the future is something we can both be happy in together, and that we love and support them even in their frustration, concern, and indecision.


PS - that was hard to write, because in  doing so I am really realizing how much my pushing her to accept progress is not helping.

Well its nice to know that

Well its nice to know that I'm not alone in my peril. Similar situations, your experiences can help shed some perspective on a shady area of this new discovery. I see a long road to happiness in front of us. I will be checking back here periodically. Reading this on a mobile phone for privacy reasons (little kids and peering eyes...). More to come. Thank you all that have responded I am going to take the time and read each and every reply.

The Big Apology

Howdy.  I read all the posts here from ADDers and nons, looking both for tips on day to day coping, and for underlying threads so I can do better at self-awareness.  One of the "threads" I have detected is how many Non spouses are still carrying anger and resentment and hurt from the past, whether or not their spouse is getting treatment.  From the ADDers I hear "I"m getting treatment but my spouse seems to think it's not enough" and from the Non's I hear "S/He is not getting or staying with treatment".  It's logical that the people on this board are the ADDers getting treatment and the Non's seeking treatment.  The other halves of these relationships haven't shown up yet.  That being said, I have been thinking very hard about apologies, why they are required, yet don't seem to be effective.  I haven't solved either part, but I have taken a small step forward in figuring it out. For Me.  I want to make really clear this is my own judgment of myself, not of someone else.  And I want to clarify my pain has never been the result of name-calling, shouting, shoving, drinking or drugging.  If that's been your cross to bear, I am so sorry.  Anyway.  I have been writing this post in my head all day, and had intended it as a new post on the appropriate board (Progress maybe?) but since BrianinCA and Arkyn are talking about the subject, here goes.  I have been married 36 years --Two months ago a book about adult ADD and relationships leapt off the library shelves into my arms, I started reading it in the parking lot, and cried for half an hour.  It took me a month to gently suggest to my guy that he might have ADD.  He listened (I was brief :)) and at the end he said so what do I do about it?  I mentioned an evaluation, then meds, therapy or both if he in fact had ADD.  He said Well I'm not taking a pill, and we've not discussed the issue again.  That's my short story, to set the stage, as it were.  A while ago I wrote a very eloquent little whine about apologies -- the kind I want/need and the kind I call non-apologies.  Apparently that little nugget fell into a dark corner of my unconscious, bounced around a while, and today it was thrown back out -- with a big red stamp that said "Bullshit".  Huh, I thought.  Really?  I turned it over in my mind looking for flaws.  When people are "wronged" don't they deserve to get "righted?"  Rather than denied, deflected or distorted to?  Didn't do it, might be you, or you're looking at it wrong.  Those three have been my guy's standard defense or "coping" methods over the years.  So I examined it again, and another little nugget popped out of my subconscious, a bedtime story if you will, and I'd like to share it.   Dick and Jane (am I dating myself?) are asleep in bed one night.  At 3:07 a.m. Dick has a dream that he is riding a bike, and a vicious dog comes out of nowhere and starts snarling and snapping at Dick's leg.  Dick kicks out to knock the dog away, and races away on his bike, heart pounding.  At 3:08 a.m. Jane is suddenly awakened by her darling Dick BOOM kicking her SO HARD that she sits up, cries out "AWWWWW!" tenderly rubbing her bruised thigh.  Now let us pause in the story for three possible endings.  Ending #1:  Dick! she says.  Dick!  wake up!  Huh?  Huh?  You kicked me! Dick says "I did? Sorry." Dick rolls over, goes back to sleep, while Jane mutters a bit, rubs her leg a bit and falls back to sleep.  Next morning, she says "Man, Dick, what were you dreaming about last night?"    Ending #2.   Jane says nothing to Dick, lies awake wondering about Dick's passive aggressive, or not so passive, tendencies.  She wakes up the next morning, out of sorts, while chipper Dick just irritates her even more.  Finally that evening, Jane says Dick you really hurt me last night when you kicked me and I think you could at least apologize.  Dick says I kicked you?  I don't remember that.  If I did, I didn't mean to.  "Well, you did kick me, and that's not an apology."  Dick says I"m sorry you got hurt but I really didn't mean to.  I was asleep.  Jane says are you going to say you're sorry or not?  Fine, Dick says.  Sorry!!  Ending #3.  Jane gets kicked again the following week, during the middle of the night, and many, many more times over the 3, 8, 16, 21, years they are married.  Jane and Dick eventually figure out, not due to their own insightfulness or wisdom, but because of a short item on "Inside Edition" , that Dick has a condition that causes him to kick Jane in the middle of the night.  One hopes there is a specialist, a medication and a website that can help Dick and Jane.   Jane is struggling because Dick never really said he was sorry and meant it, and Dick is struggling because he was asleep.            SO, that's the little story that came into my head, and today I released, like a pigeon on  New York rooftop, my desire (requirement?) that my guy apologize for all the ways his ADD behaviors have hurt me over the years.  He always told me he didn't mean it.  He always told me he couldn't help it.  He always told me I never intentionally hurt you and I didn't believe him.  Since learning about ADD, it has taken me two long hard months and many tears, and today, even though he hasn't gotten evaluated, he hasn't gotten help, and he hasn't ever talked about it again, today I believe him.  Would I be mad at him forever if he kicked me while he was sleeping, dreaming of being chased by vicious dogs?  I hope not.  He was sleeping.  Did I experience real hurt, real loneliness, real despair over the years because of his behaviors?  Yes, I did.  Did it always baffle me that a nice, fun, smart loving guy could do such things?  Yes, it did.  Did that sobbing day in the library parking lot suddenly make almost everything clear?  Yes.  Not everything of course, because being married is sometimes just a pain in the ass, and guys sometimes do goofball things, and women are sometimes just a little too-you-know, and there's money, and kids, and work... blah, blah, blah.  But the baffling, agonizing what-the-hell-is-going-on part of my marriage?  That's so much better.  And I'll never again ask my guy to apologize for suffering he never, ever wanted to happen.  The stuff he did intend?   Man, he is so on the look for that!!! 

I dunno...

I think there's a difference between unconscious detriment and unknowing detriment...asleep is asleep - totally unconscious and unaware and not in control of one's actions.  Unknowingly hurting (as opposed to harming - intent matters)  those who are around you implies that with knowledge, one would not do it.  That's where taking ownership of one's condition is, and taking responsibility for treatment.  One wouldn't ignore cancer, herpes, or rabies unless there was truly no other choice.  One can't willfully ignore ADHD without that ignorance being a conscious and knowledgeable harm to those around the afflicted.  You can believe your guy that he loves you; you can believe that he never hurt you before he knew; but after he knows, he's making a knowledgeable choice.  With that in mind, I read you endigs.  To me, ending #1 is a reasonable one.  It's sleep!  Dreams are weird sometimes...but a recurring dream of violence should probably be spoken to with someone who can offer advice, or maybe just buy some XXXL pajyamas and putting both legs in the same one.  Ending #2 is just plain odd - he was asleep, why should he remember, less apologize with sympathy and understanding and regret?  I might say "huh, well sorry about that!" but knowing that dreams are dreams,  wouldn't give it much thought, and I wouldn't expect a rational person to do so otherwise.  Ending #3 is also rational, like #1, but vastly sadder.  He's a kicker, and likely always will be, especially if he doesn't get treatment.  If he doesn't, then he's willfully making the choice that he'll kick anyone in the same bed - man, woman, child or hounddog - ad so his choice to not treat his kicking is a deliberate, conscious choice.  Anyone who knows he's a kicker has to accept the consequences.  If someone doesn't want to risk getting kicked, they they can't get in the bed.

Baseline - the past can't be changed.  The future can be.  I know I've hurt my wife, my parents, my siblings and others many times over the past years unknowingly.  Now that I know about the ADHD, and understand (at least somewhat) how it affects my thinking patterns, I get to choose (with some effort) what I do.  I get a chance to second-guess myself for good reasons, and I have must deal with the consequences, good and bad, of my decisions.  I hope that you and your guy find a path that with knowledge aforethought gets to you both to the place where bed is peaceful.

How is it possible that the hurt is unintentional?

My husband lost the first of (now) 8 jobs only 2 months after we were married. I begged and pleaded with him for 3 years to get and keep another job. My job offered no insurance and I suffer from a medical condition that, untreated, will result in my death (hypertension, and I've already had a stroke). He once went 5 months without applying for a single job! I told him every week I wasn't getting my meds. Yet he will tell you to his dying breath that he didn't know I wasn't taking my meds. I worked next to a drug store, and I guess he thought they were giving them to me for free and without seeing a doctor to prescribe them. Angry as I am about this, and scared, because he is again out of work, I have to accept that he really wasn't trying to kill me by not working. But that doesn't make me less scared. I don't know the answer to this one. In the original scenario, the person who is kicked is still hurt and bruised and needs their partner to acknowledge that they are hurting. I can acknowledge that it wasn't intentional if he can acknowledge that he did hurt me. Apparently, even that is too much for a lot of ADDers.

I can understand what your

I can understand what your saying. I was injured on the job, tore the medial meniscus in three places in my left knee and herniated two disks in my lower back, a nasty court battle ensued and she stood by me, I think thats when the ADD started to make an appearance.  THANK GOD my wife has great health insurance. I too suffer from hypertension however I lost like 75lbs and that pretty much changed everything for me. Had I had a stroke before 30 it wouldn't have been good. I had to tell my wife, when things got rough and the statements were coming out that I am hurting her. My reply and feelings after hearing this was "Wow" never in a million years would I intentionally do something like this to hurt her emotionally, physically, or anything in between. The apologizes have not even stopped to this day, I wake every morning look at a new day and apologize for the wrongs from the previous day and remind her that I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel even if I have to make the light. I would put myself at a much higher function ADD'er. I can only imagine the pain and the emotions of what was done. In perspective I could never do that to someone.

One wakes up in the morning that has ADD, they do not think they are going to intentionally cause emotional duress, physical harm, and the sort, its a subconscious action that by itself occurs on its own and the key to fixing it, the person unintentionally needs to have a reality check. I had one and I am way more sensitive about how i say things, the content of what I am saying, and the underlying tone that conveyed.

In the absence of a job, I took a huge dive into my subconscious and underlying fear of going back to school, since having done that I've accomplished straight 4.0's (Law School to boot!). If the only thing that changes is my outlook on life and what I apply myself to I can overcome. It takes a certain mindset to challenge one's self and their subconscious to find what about them needs to change the most, for me it was getting an education to expand the opportunities for my family. Having to explain it in that context to my wife I think helped a ton.

I wish he understood it as well as you do

I made my husband aware of how he was hurting me and he never "heard" it. I was in a car accident years before I got together with my husband, so I understand where you are coming from. I had a small stroke when I was 47. Long-term hypertension. My husband knew about both the damaged leg and the stroke when he married me. (I was so afraid he wouldn't want to be with someone with screws in her knee and all the other problems, but, whatever else he is, he isn't shallow.) I had no idea he has ADD.

I still am baffled as to how, when I told him I'd had a stroke and they told me a second stroke would be fatal, he wasn't worried about how I'd get my meds. I told him every week, "I have hypertension, I have no meds and you need to find a job with insurance" because mine didn't have any. With him not working, the cost of a doctor visit was as far out of reach as the moon. He never heard me, although I must have said it hundreds of times. Imagine going around every day thinking you are going to die and your husband doesn't care. But it wasn't that he didn't care. I think me speaking to him must sound to him like the teachers sound in the Peanuts specials "wah wah wah" but no real words.

Congrats on the Law School grades. Have you passed the Bar yet? I got a paralegal degree in December but no one wants to hire a 57-year-old inexperienced paralegal with a severe limp.

Just started almost done on

Just started almost done on the first year, I'm thinking paralegal to start focusing on business law, workers comp, disability, for human resources positions just an idea MCSE's in this area in CA are easy to find and make the shift. If you can't use the paralegal cert, you use the knowledge of the laws in ur state to a different area.

You have company

I just posted for the first time tonight and after doing so read a few recent posts. The similarity between your situation and mine is remarkable. Even the fact that our spouses have professions that treat/study those with mental issues and disorders; my wife is an MFT. Where our recent experiences differ is that you and your spouse seem to be doing this together and she is providing some level of support for you. i.e. reading about non-ADHD partner treatment, couples therapy. While I too feel the unbearable weight of me transforming her into, as she puts it, "a person she doesn't recognize", she seems to be stuck on all the past hurt I have brought upon us. I can so easily relate to the frustration and impatience it seems like you are going through with regards to your diagnosis and treatment. Wasn't this supposed to get better? I wish I could offer some beneficial insights since we are following similar paths, but all I can do is provide you with company at this point. I'd be very interested to learn if there was a catalyst that may have precipitated your wife suggesting you look into ADHD as a diagnosis. For me, in retrospect, it was the birth of our children about 2 and 3 years ago. As we both know we didn't just "get" this so, why now? The realization that my kids pushed me over the top is just another burden of guilt. I try to remind myself that everyone carries a full bucket and what makes is spill over should not carry any significance. I think there is clearly some treatment ownership for our spouses here - whether anyone believes they are innocent victims or not they still play a role towards improving relationship by letting go of what can't be changed in the past and realizing that our often damaging patterns and behaviors of the ADHD are changing.