I am six months out of a 10 year marriage, and a nearly 12 year relationship, with someone with ADD. A huge part of my healing has been sorting out what had become of those two eager people who so loved each other 12 years ago. How did they end up living as they did?
My ex is the one with ADD. We used to joke about it but it was no laughing matter. Like everyone else, we had conflict over household chores and no matter how many plans we came up with to divide tasks, his didn't get done. We finally hired someone to clean our house and that helped a lot. But that didn't address the daily chores. I'd come home from work to find a sink full of dishes, or see him come down from his office with days worth of dishes, and pile them on the counter above the dishwasher, and go back upstairs. I'd stand there and be furious because I knew who was going to load those. Me. But if I said anything, i was a nag. I wasn't giving him a chance to be an adult.
I got cast as the mother very early on in this relationship, a role I never wanted. I chose not to have kids, so finding myself in a relationship with someone who seemed so childlike was terribly difficult for me. Stupid stuff. To me, it looked like laziness. He'd do a project, then put everything away except one thing. And that one thing could sit there for years. Never able to complete things all the way.
I had to take over the bill-paying so that they would get paid. He had creditors calling on and off for years. Once his truck was repossessed out of my driveway (before we were married). I'd never even known someone who had a vehicle repossessed before. He was chronically in financial trouble. Business deals that were clearly bad investments seemed like the key to riches, and good money would be thrown away and debt racked up. I learned to protect myself from his business deals and kept my money separate and my name off any loans or credit cards with his. I felt guilty for that, because aren't couples supposed to have joint credit cards, or both be on the mortage? I felt like we were failing as a couple because in our case, the credit situation was so uneven. I have a great credit score and his has been absymmal all the time we were together, the direct result of poor decisions made during hyper-focused times.
He pursued me in the beginning, and as Melissa writes, being courted by someone with ADD - being the focus of their hyperfocus - is intoxicating. I was told I was the love of his life. I was it for him. Over the years I'd hear all the time how amazing I was. How our life just kept getting better and better. How we were the lucky ones. How he wanted to give me the moon and stars. He bought me lovely gifts. Diamonds. So sincere and loving. I felt very lucky to be loved by him.
Yet there was the everyday stuff of our life, where I was the only one in 7 years to, twice a year (spring and fall), make a pile ouf branches by the road for the town to mulch up. One winter we had a huge ice storm. Dozens of limbs broke and fell. I moved them all, with no help. Not once. I was the one to shovel the sidewalk and mow the lawn 95% of the time. He never got around to taking a turn, unless somebody was coming to visit, then I'd be hurt that he'd do it for strangers, but not to help us.
14 jobs/careers in 11 years. He'd quit them without telling me. Just announce it and be so excited because he was now going to build this amazing business that would make him rich. He'd work 12-16 hour days, 7 days a week, then complain that we weren't spending time together - that was my fault, you see, because he'd come downstairs at 11 p.m. on a work night (for me, the one with the job) and want to be together. I'd say no, it was late and I was tired, and I'd hear that I was selfish and he'd be pouty and hurt.
If I asked for help, he wouldn't give it when I needed it. I thought it was a game, that because I asked, he had to make me wait. Now I think it was perhaps just part of the ADD - some idea he had that he'd do it "later". But later rarely came and I did it myself.
I felt like I did everything, was responsible for everything. I was the stable one. Before me, he'd never been with anyone for more than a year.
We both knew he had ADD, and he refused medication. He refused to read anything about it. He thought he could manage it, and perhaps in his world, it looked managed. To me, it was just craziness. Chronically late. Doing things for strangers ahead of things for me.
In the 7 years we lived in this house, he never fully unpacked his things. His office was a nightmare of stacked boxes. Bags and bags of paper to recycle "someday". Often he wouldn't open his mail for weeks at a time. When he left, he left behind 10 bags of paper, amongst a truck load of other stuff because he doesn't finish things. He left it for me, just like the dirty dishes...
Five years ago, he painted the office and never removed the blue tape. Only after he was gone did I realize, now that the clutter was out of the way, that he had never done the trim painting either - where you paint with a brush along the wall where it runs up to the ceiling, and at the bottom of the wall where it meets the floor. He just rolled the center and left the rest unpainted. The paint was still in the basement. I had the trim paint done in 20 minutes. But for him, those kinds of details seemed like it was going to take hours and he just didn't have time for it because he had to work on getting rich.
I was one who bent over backwards. If I knew then what I know now, I hope I'd make a different choice - like to run! But instead, I tried to honor my commitment to our relationship. I did love him. I tried to accept him for who he was and love him anyway. I let a lot slide. I didn't complain because I'd get anger and defensiveness back from him, and "you don't treat me like an adult" back and I just got tired of it.
I lived a separate life most of the time, while he'd be upstairs in his office, laser-focussed on the next great business, while our life fell apart around us. He got a dog and never walked it because that would take time away from his work.
Yet I found ways to be happy because I am a resilient person. I wonder if there is a "type" that people with ADD are attracted to? Someone who is stable and can provide an environment for ADD living? Would be curious to know.
With him, there were also periods of terrible depression when the latest job or business didn't work out as he envisioned. Anything had about an 18 month shelf life with him - except for our relationship. It lasted nearly 12 years, and then the depression set in again over the winter. I expected him to quit the job he'd gotten, working from home - the job that was the answer to his prayers so he could work at home in his pajamas with his dog.
Instead, I was told he had tried for five years to get me to care about him and he was done. He moved out within weeks and left the state.
And with him went all the negativity. All the clutter. All the chaos. Yes, I was heartbroken. I miss many parts of my old life. First thing I noticed coming in from work is that the house was as I left it. No dishes piled in the sink. There isn't laundry sitting in the washing machine from 3 days earlier. The house is clean and I know where everything is. My household income was cut in half but I am making it on my money.
It has taken months to realize that the story I was told about why he left was just that - a story. I'd gotten so used to being accused of being a nag, of having to have things my way, of not letting him be an adult, that I had stopped questioning these statements and had fallen into the habit of trying to do better so he wouldn't feel that way.
Now I am finding resources like this site, where I read about my life, and how others have lived with the chaos. How they have suffered as I did. Tried and tried. Coped. Managed. And how pointless that all is if the person with ADD won't take responsibility for their illness.
I am a good and loving person. I have so much to give. I hope to find love again, with someone who is an equal to me, not a problem to try to manage. Now that I am free from the pain of living with someone who does not see the world as I do and never will, I realize how exhausting that truly was.
My heart goes out to those still living under those untenable conditions. Just know that you can be happy again on your own. I am finding life to be exciting and wonderful. No more chaos and criticism. No more mood swings and magical thinking. My life feels like my life again - like how I felt in those happy years before I fell in love with him. I do not regret that love, but I wish I had known then what I was dealing with. My part in that is that it was embarassing to be living that way. And out of loyalty to him, that I didn't want other people to know how truly scattered and irresponsible he truly was.
Those of you who have found this site and have a partner who wants to work on the relationship, who is willing to take responsibility for his problem, consider it a blessing. And those of you, like me, who are out of the relationship now, take heart. Life is good and you will heal. I'm still on my healing journey and I welcome any comments about this post.
"Type' that attracts person w/ADD
Submitted by woodrose62 on
When I met my husband (he was diagnosed with ADD 15 years ago) I was an in home caregiver for his best friend who was dying from cancer. He saw me from the beginning as someone who could take care of him. As a double whammy he was also diagnosed 15 years ago as having a Dependent Personality disorder. We have been married (legally but definitely not in terms of a partnership) for 25 years. I am about to retire this year and am finding it hard to imagine spending my remaining years with someone who refuses to take responsibility for his illness. I take responsibility for absorbing myself so much in my work that I have been able all these years to ignore (most of the time) the emptiness and imbalance in our relationship. Thanks you for your insights that sound so much like an echo of what I have been going through and feeling. I just found this site today and am grateful to know that others are going through similar challenges and that some have made it to the other side. I started counseling today to help support me in making some decisions. Congratulations on making yours and claiming your life back.
I am a "rescuer/ caretaker
Submitted by 531T on
I am a "rescuer/ caretaker type" having grown up in an abusive, alcoholic household. I ignored all the red flags when I met my husband and believe me, they were there. Now I'm paying the price. He's built up a decade worth of resentment towards me (for being his mother, and consequently having no sex drive) which has now manifested as verbal abuse and aggressiveness.
I sure wish I hadn't been a rescuer. If I ever get another chance at marriage, I will choose a healthy partner. Live and learn.
Submitted by adhdwife on
I am just blown away... it's like reading a list of symptoms to a disease.. so many things that seem totaly unrelated and then BAM.. it's a syndrome. Husband was wonderful during courtship, we were souldmates. of course he was peenyless and had just self destructed on wall street, guess i was in love with being in love and then 15 yrs later he lost all of our money. I am now broke, living under the same roof, had a restraining order becuase of drinking, his room is a MESS, he can't find work.. we have no sex life and have moved on to live separate yet parallell lives revolving around our 6 yr old. we can not communicate, i do all the chores and bill paying, i am resentful and hate who I have become. I am on probation at work since my attitude has spilled over.. I find myself hopeless at times.
I JUST CAN"T BELEIVE I AM NOT ALONE.. even things like he never finishes anything. oh my god. he can paint a wall and leave a spot.. then put the paint away because he will 'do it later' so i say 'do it now or it will never get done' he get defensive that i am treating him like a child and of course he is acting like a child..
i am just blown away by this site. He WAS just diagnosed and put on all sorts of stuff.. has found a new woman who loves him just the way he is because of course he is CHARMING and focused! Even if he can't remember to put an envelope in the mail , or do his laundery for weeks.
He actually will buy new underwear and run up charges because he hasn't done laundry.
ok.. I will stop now. but i am just in shock.. and tears!
It is a list of symptoms. Not
Submitted by Miss Behaven on
It is a list of symptoms. Not of a disease but of a disorder.
I have ADD and focused on saving my marriage.
Submitted by YYZ on
I was in my mid-forties before anxiety attacks, which I had not ever had before, sent me to my doctor, who referred me to a Psychiatrist. I could not believe the diagnosis because like most of the world I did not really know anything about the disorder.
I began my research by reading "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy". I am really happy to have found this website and have benefited from the many posts I have read. I really respect the Non-ADDer's for their posts and more importantly trying to gain some knowledge of ADD. I had always thought the things I did were just poor character, impulsive and selfish actions and why I had such an ability to forget to do the one thing asked of me on my way home from work, just Stupid... How many times after being "Why/How" did you forget?!?, and I bark back "Do you think I forgot on purpose, because this conversation is "So" fun?!?...
The book I just referenced has helped me more than I can say. I have since run the full table of emotions since the diagnosis. Elation for actually feeling good and able to focus, guilt because I could grumpy to my children at night because I was exhausted at night, Sadness because of 40 plus years of un-diagnosed ADD and what could have been better, happiness because the next 40 WILL be better, anxiety because I don't know if my wife has had enough and doesn't really see any difference in me a year later, I am in far better physical condition because exercise REALLY helps and I walk 25+ miles a week. I wish my wife would read a few posts around this site, but she has always had a lot on her plate and I will not push her. I can only take responsibility for myself. I will keep reading and working on my coping skills. am
The ADD is still there, but better controlled through a combination of meds and knowledge. I am sorry for what you have been through and hope things continue to improve in your life.
Best wishes to you...
I have ADD and focused on saving my marriage.
Submitted by 4u2c4me on
I also have just started down the same path. My wife and son whos 2 just went back home for two weeks to get away. At first I seen it as opportunity to complete some projects and to work on some eternal issues that cause the problems. Its has turned out like a two week roller coaster. Work and focus today. Breakdown tomorrow. Been to many many meds to mention. They just cant get me stable. I witnessed emotions of living without my family not to mention she is 2 months pregnant and the thoughts of not being there. I have also found the value in not judging others for how they live, there are so many who are in battle with this as well.
I am fortunate enough to have somehow got through life unscathed other than terrible social skills and anger. Now that scenario could change for the worst and honestly I am tired. For those who are not ADD but involved you have a right to be upset that you have been exposed to this. From what I see in past post here you even have a right to run. But for the few ADD ers that are making a effort but seeing slow results hang in there and find every technique possible to eliminate anger and arguments to start. My goal for now is to eliminate the hotspots that cause anger driven spats. Good start I say to open up energy for working on other hotspots such as focus and routine.
I am a dedicated husband, homeowner, father, employee and student. I find a way to make this all work but only on borrowed moments. I do have my dormant periods and this is one of our hotspots. Others are decision making, and the biggest is anger.
Even though I was mostly involved in our lives it wasn't enough to make up for the symptoms and the effects they are having on them. This is lead to her get away and get much needed space. And I should also say she is a d d and has mentioned that we should seek help together. I agreed. All this I just stated is a result of the time she has been gone. To be continued..........
Submitted by surprised by li... on
Thanks so much for sharing the success, peace and hope of your new life.
Here is my concern, obviously, we wives all wanted a loving, caring, companionable relationship- marriage, so how do we avoid the pit falls , if there is a 'next time around' ? I can not imagine how I would of ever known the truth about my husband -until we married and shared our lives daily. I don't think that I could ever have the courage to risk a surprise like this again!
Love this post!
Submitted by ebb and flow on
I have to say, most of what you wrote here about your old relationship is my current situation to a tee! You expressed it all perfectly.
It's sad that your partner never did want to take responsibility for his ADD... But at the same time, because that was the case, I'm glad you are now able to move on happy and free... away from all the negativity!
I'm consistently hearing that if the ADD partner doesn't get help and take responsibility for his/her own symptoms/disorder the situation really won't ever improve on its own.
I can only hope and pray my partner sticks with his new found interest in getting therapy for our relationship issues and his symptoms! I think it'll be really good for the two of us to mend and repair all the damage both of us have caused each other.
I wish you're relationship had a happier ending... But it seems it still worked out for the best!
If my relationship ends, due to failed attempts to "try differently", I can only hope to feel as strong and ok on my own as you seem to be feeling today!
Thank you so much for sharing a bit of what you went through...