Scared of how angry I am at my husband; need a true success story

I am brand new to all of this and I feel most days like I am losing my mind.  I'll tell you about how I met my husband and where we are now.  After reading these blogs for a couple of weeks, I am not sure how you all will respond, but I need help.

I am a highly organized professional woman who leads a team of highly efficient and competent people at work.  I always thought my job would be enough.  Six years ago I met a brilliant, kind, funny man who loved his job and acted like he loved me.  We agreed on financial responsibility, companionship, work coming first for both of us, and no children.  We married and moved in together after two years.  I thought he was a momma's boy who never learned how to cook, clean, pay bills.  I made a schedule and showed him how to do all of this.  He is a highly successful engineer so this should be simple.  I have never been so wrong in all of my life.

Four years later, all I do is dream about either running away or beating him to a pulp.  I worked so hard for my job and it is so specialized that I can't just leave it.  So the anger builds.  It took me four years to get him to a counselor, who recognized immediately that he had ADHD.  However, she wouldn't tell him for at least two months because she didn't think he was ready.  He is getting a formal diagnosis with as soon as he can see a psychiatrist.  I have read Melissa's book, Pera's book, and all the internet sites I can find.  He is a wreck but seems willing to try meds.  So far so good, right?  He meets with an ADHD life coach and we can easily afford whatever medication he might need. 

Not so fast. A little bit more about me. I am not a great catch but I told my husband that up front.  I run a medical service where my orders are instantly understood and implemented.  Other people's lives depend upon it.  I keep my home neat and tidy because that allows for efficiency and cleanliness.  I knew I never, ever wanted children because they would not fit in my orderly, precise life.  My husband is now the 30 year old child I never wanted.  He can't follow simple instructions to clean the house.  We can't have a simple conversation because he looses focus in the middle of it.  I have become his mother, organizing his appointments, his work schedule, and our house schedule.  Yet he still can't follow it.  I see every small item out of place and feel anger.  White hot anger.  For the last year, I dream at least weekly about making him bleed.  I have to walk away from him on an hourly basis when we are home together because I am afraid I will physically attack him.  I have not ever touched him in that way but I think that I could, very easily.  I hate losing control, but at least when I yell at him, the items he needs to do get done AND they get done correctly AND they get done in a timely fashion.  Nothing else gets him to do what needs to be done quickly and well.  But the anger is so strong I am afraid of it.

I have been in therapy for the last three months and it is not making anything better.  If anything, it is making it worse.  My therapist says that my anger is justified due to his immature and inconsistent behavior.  I just need to leave him and start over.  Most days, I feel like that, too.  But I am ashamed of leaving my marriage; I took my vows very seriously ( and still do).  I also know that if I knew what this would be like, or if my husband had acted in our courtship like he does now, I would have never, ever married him.  I feel ashamed of wanting to leave my husband but all I see when I look at him is a disgusting, repulsive pile of childish, crying, clingy weakness and need.  He was completely competent during our courtship and changed once we moved in together.  I feel like he lied to me with his actions but now I am stuck with this albatross around my neck, strangling me to death.  I wanted a simple, child free life with a man who loved his work and me.  I honestly feel this is his disease, which he hid from me.  My standards and expectations and behaviors have not changed.  His abilities changed once he left hyper focus. He needs to do the work.  NOW. I am in therapy to work on me but all I hear is that I would not be angry if I was in a relationship with someone who was more compatible with my expectations.   It hurts so much because before we married, he WAS compatible with my expectations.  He lived alone, kept his house clean, and was kind and attentive.  It all went away and I feel so stupid for not seeing it before.  Now I am stuck with a person I dream about hurting.  I am such a failure but I feel so powerless.  I can get divorced or I can be something I am not.

I feel no hope for the future because every single "success" story I've found has the non-ADHD spouse making back-breaking, soul crushing,  accommodations for the ADHD spouse.  I have to help him organize, lower my standards significantly,  and not show my displeasure in having things at significantly lower standards just to make him able to SOMETIMES function at the level of the average 8 year old.  AND I am supposed to encourage him for small things around the house.  AND I must make sure there is nothing else around when I wish to try to speak to my husband to distract him, I must make a 5 minute conversation take 20 minutes so that he can write everything down and have me review it before he does something like the laundry.  I would fire any person in my office who behaved in such a way.  I have not become a woman at that top of her field by making these levels of accommodations for anyone, most especially myself. I think I am as angry at myself for not seeing through his charade as I am at him for not being who he pretended to be every day. I read these posts about how if my husband were in an accident, would I feel differently?  Yes, I would.  That would have been an accident and there were have been four years of love and support and organization to hold on to for all of the difficulties ahead.  My husband wouldn't have withheld parts of his personality until we were married.  I have a right to choose a spouse who is capable and compatible, don't I?

Has anyone had a spouse that accomplished significant improvement decently quickly?  Daily success, minimal back sliding?  Something where he has his lists/schedules/coping mechanisms so that he can function with his ADHD tools like a non-ADHD person?  Or very close to one?  He is destroying the safe, organized, efficient home I worked so hard to build.  My anger isn't going away unless he gets significantly better quickly.  These last four years have eroded any love or kindness or empathy I used to have for this man. Or do I have to end this marriage and feel like a failure for not seeing what he was before we got married?   

I am new to the group, but

I am new to the group, but not completely new to ADHD and it's effects.  I can definitely feel your anger, and I understand it.  However, I think you may want to find a new therapist...while I agree that your spouse may be the cause of the anger, I think you have to find a way to get control of it whether or not you end up getting a divorce.  A good therapist will help you do that.

One thing I'm not that familiar with is the hyperfocus, but if he was able to keep a clean home and manage his life before, why not now? 

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of anyone that has made significant improvement quickly without it coming to a screeching halt a few weeks in - they just can't seem to maintain it.  Kind of like weight loss, I guess - too fast and it comes right back.  My recommendation would be to get him on meds quickly, maybe meet with his ADHD coach together once or twice so that you know what they are working on and what to look for/expect in terms of results, and check into a new therapist for you.  When I get this fed up with my husband, the only thing I can do is distance myself from them emotionally - it's not the silent treatment, but I basically go about my life as if he were not in it other than what I have to do.  I'm not sure that's the right thing, but I think getting your focus off of him and on helping you might help you get through this really hard part right now.  You might even want a trial separation.  Then, when you can calmly get some perspective, see if he has truly improved or not, make a decision.

If you do decide to give up, you are NOT a failure - dealing with ADHD is freaking HARD, and even more so when you never saw it coming.  I'm really sorry you're going through this.

Inspired to comment

Hi Midnight, 

I've been lurking here for a while now. Your post inspired me to finally say something, but I am so maxed out by my current ADHD-influenced living status that all I can really muster right now is "yeah, what she said." 

That and a big thank you for being so honest and detailed.  

Thank you!


Moving forward

He needs to see a psychiatrist (looks like that is in progress), and when he does (and IF he is diagnosed with ADHD) then he and you will start the process of getting the meds right. You might as well forget the ADHD coach until you get the meds right. He might be lucky and hit on the right dose straight off the bat, maybe not.  During that time you will need to back off the anger, be calm and supportive (he will be fiddling with his brain chemistry because you want him to, remember, and to make both your lives better) and attempting your best to give him accurate feedback.  Although he may be seeing a coach, an actual medical diagnosis may hit him - he may have feelings of self-loathing ("my brain is broken", "I am a failure"), guilt ("OMG what have I done to everyone"), trepidation ("will I be me if I take brain meds") and overwhelmed ("do I have to relearn everything about the world?").  On the other hand he may be glad and relieved, which would be great for him.

Getting angry over a brain disorder is not going to help either of you. He is not choosing to be immature, he literally does not perceive the world in the same way that you do. If you really cannot accept that then don't stay with him.  I do understand that you feel your were deceived however it is the very nature of ADHD that he did not choose to deceive you and could not (without treatment) perceive that you could possibly be being deceived. He meant everything that he said to you during those times and (unless he is a malicious jerk) was not intending to hurt you nor deliberately constructing a charade. Sure he may have kept his house clean and done his own laundry perfectly, but ADHD people *often* suffer and go off the rails from the extreme pressure and overwhelm they feel from suddenly having a partner who has expectations of them every single day, hour in and hour out. 

"My therapist says that my anger is justified due to his immature and inconsistent behavior.  I just need to leave him and start over."

Does this therapist understand that he may have ADHD and what ADHD is? If you want to stay with him, even a little bit, then find someone who does.

Re tails of woe and all is hopeless:

My husband was diagnosed in his 50s (also has been successful at work and has multiple degrees), now happily takes meds (and he needs pretty high doses, his ADHD is quite severe), is more successful at work (interpersonal behavior much improved), and is much more like he was when I met him. He does not have a coach or therapist. Take it for what it's worth.

It seems to be an unhappy truth that on this website you will encounter far more unhappy stories than happy ones - those successfully treated are too busy getting on with life.

I feel like a success story

My husband got diagnosed and on meds. In my experience, it took a good year to get to the new normal (I have heard others say the same). It was a pretty steady progression with a few setbacks. The best and biggest change is the return to the emotional connection. I feel loved and respected. When there is a good emotional connection, it takes the rough edges off other annoyances.

That said, even with meds/counseling, I doubt your husband will ever be as organized and efficient as you would like. (I really get your point of view. If I didn't have a husband and 4 kids, I would finally have an orderly, efficient, organized life.) You'll have to decide what you can live with and what you can't. I think you should give your husband a chance to "get better" and then decide if you are still compatible.


Miss M, I think it is great that you are able to be so honest about how you are feeling. The kicker is that the hyper-focus stage of ADHD, when a couple first meets, can mask many of the behaviors of ADHD, so the problems as a couple arise after a year or two, or when the hyper-focus wears off. So you have issues to deal with that you didn't know about when you married. Sucks but that's how it is. Straight from the hip: the success stories I have seen entail the couple working together. The spouse with ADHD addresses and treats it, and the non-ADHD spouse understands ADHD and lets go of being angry at a brain disorder that can be treated and managed, but cannot be reversed, recovered from, or made to disappear. They change their language, communication, and way of seeing each other. I have seen posts by Arwen and Sherri and Melissa, the author of this site, to name a few who successfully address these issues. 

Forgive me if I am wrong, but you sound like you are not in this place. You and your spouse are not on the same page, and you are saying that unless he makes significant progress quickly, you will not be able to stay married to him. My experience is that therapists don't usually advocate for actions like divorce (unless yours is inferring that this is what you actually want). Your anger is absolutely understandable, but I am not sure I agree with your therapist that it is justified-- as in, your spouse deserves it. 

My question is, do you love your husband now? Do you want to be with him or not? Not, would you want to remain with him if he met your standards or was a different person, but the guy he is now, at the core. You mention being stuck and feeling so angry. I understand this. But the best thing my therapist said to me is that I "sounded like a victim." I realized that I was letting myself be stuck and angry. It was not my spouse's fault. It was my fault. In my case, I needed permission to accept that we were not the right people for each other, and that ADHD contributed to, but wasn't the cause of, our problems. Once I did this, I genuinely wasn't mad any more. 

I hope I don't sound sanctimonious. My own marriage imploded a year ago. I don't think there is any way I could have saved my marriage, but it would have been better for all involved if I could have let go and realized that my spouse was not that guy, and it was ok for us to split up, years before we descended into dysfunction and unhappiness. We are both much happier now. Sorry to sound blunt or unkind, because I mean this with empathy and positive intent: Half of this issue is you and how angry you are. The marriages that succeed are the ones where the spouses are genuinely together--the marriage and relationship is more important than anything else and most actions and decisions are done for the sake of it. Are you both there or can you be there? I am only responding to what you have written, but for now you sound stuck in that "If he does A then I can do B" place. This won't work, and it puts all the responsibility on him, which isn't fair. Your husband may make great progress but he is not going to be a different person. You can cause him a great deal of harm wishing he would be a different man, or being furious with him because he cannot or will not. Resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. You will cause yourself a lot of harm, too, if you can't let go. I hear that you don't want to feel this way and have tried hard. I myself had to leave and live on my own for it to happen.

I am not an advocate for divorce, but in my case, it was the best choice. It sounds like you may be able to use some space--have you thought about a separation? So that you can focus on yourself and think? I for one completely understand how difficult and soul-crushing it can be to be in a bad marriage, and to be the only reasonably functioning adult. I hope that you are able to find peace, and that everything works out for you. My best to you. 

I completely agree with you.

I completely agree with you. My husband functioned quite well before we were married and not hyperfocused on anyone. So why is he so unable to do anything now? And I agree about lowering standards and so many accommodations. I have Fibromyalgia. Where are my accommodations? My husband is not so distracted that he can't see me suffering, but he is unable to get up and help me with ANYTHING. Don't get me wrong, I have tried everything they say to help my husband try to remember things, praise, relax standards of cleanliness, etc., but there has to be a line somewhere. It isn't fair to expect so much from someone with a brain disorder, but I feel that all the exceptions that are made turn them into a child and reinforces many of the behaviors. 

Wow. Your anger does come

Wow. Your anger does come through in your post... and it's definitely not healthy to be living with that. And not healthy for him either. He can feel it, I am sure and he probably wonders where his loving and accepting woman went and who is this person snapping over shut drawers and a toothpaste lids (or whatever small things are drawing your ire).

Frankly- all marriages have rocky times. And all spouses, when they get to really know each other, find flaws that were not apparent in the courtship. I am sure he wasn't actively hiding his traits... he was just inspired to be his best self.

Anyway- you have basically said that the anger won't go away unless he makes a radical recovery... which is highly unlikely. It's as likely as him saying that he will begin to be more like his courtship self when you begin to treat him with love and affection. Not gonna happen.

If you truly don't love him and don't have the patience to see if treatment will help him, then you should leave. You'll both be better off. But- life is messy. Relationships take work. All relationships. I guess if you are happy being alone with your ordered stuff and your job, then that's fine. You might feel differently after retirement. But really look at yourself too. I know I am the ADHD spouse... so maybe I am biased, but you sound really tough to live with as well. Can you make some accomodations (separate rooms)?

Best of luck to you.

Bait and Switch

Smllingagain, I agree with you to some degree, but feel like Miss Midnight needs a little defending. I think she is so angry because she got the old bait and switch. Her anger is not healthy, but I can see why she is so mad.

I agree that she is probably not that easy to live with, but she knows that and has been completely honest about it. She has a great deal of self-awareness ("I am not a great catch but I told my husband that up front"). I also think she would have chosen to be alone with her "ordered stuff and job" rather than being in a mismatched relationship. She thought she married someone who wouldn't force her to make that choice. In fact, he lived the same way. Finally, she thought they had a shared vision of marriage ("We agreed on financial responsibility, companionship, work coming first for both of us, and no children"). After they got married, she kept up her end of the bargain, but he didn't. (Pleas note that I am not questioning his sincerity, intentions, or best wishes. I'm not debating who's lifestyle is better or who is easier to live with. The fact is he is not acting in the way she signed up for.)

I think this is more than "rocky times" or petty annoyances of "shut drawers and toothpaste lids." To stay in this marriage, she will have to completely change her definition of marriage and lifestyle. She will have to compromise in ways she never wanted to. That is a bitter pill to take. Imagine that you were married a couple of years and your spouse came home and announced he was a polygamist and wanted a second wife. How shaken would you be?  I suspect this is what Miss Midnight is feeling.

Thank you all for taking the

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.   I know I am not an easy woman to live with and I would have stayed alone until I met my husband.  I always thought I would be really good at my job and helping people by using my annoying eye for detail to take care of my patients.  It seemed like a good way to give back and be true to myself.  My husband changed all of that.

I know that my anger is not helping, which is why I went to counseling.  I know it was what made my husband go start seeing his own therapist and get on the path to diagnosis.  I don't want to be angry like this forever.  I have brought up a separation many times but my husband insists that with a diagnosis and treatment, he will get better.  He is afraid that if I leave, I will never come back; he is probably not wrong.  I never thought I could love another person the way that I used to love him; I am ashamed to fail at marriage; so I am hoping it gets better.  I am trying to do everything a good wife would do for her husband.  But I don't want to live with the man I have right now.  I could not do it for the rest of my life and I would not want to. That was why I asked about the timing.  I want to give him every opportunity because of a feeling I barely remember. I don't think I love, or even like, the man I am with every day.  He functions like a rock star at work and looks shocked EVERY DAY that he needs lunch, or breakfast, or gas in his car.  I can't reconcile that behavior.  

I can deal with him needing lists (of his own making) and routine.  I am such a rigid person that routine is fine by me.  In fact, my cleaning routines only got more detailed after he moved in because he has horrible asthma.  HIS lungs need a very clean and tidy space or he could have an attack.  Back when we still touched each other, I would wake up in the night and hear him wheezing; I would make him get his inhaler so that he could breathe.  

There was no anger in me before he changed.  We were happy and had many common interests.  Why must I completely change my entire system of morals, values, and expectations because he spent two years hiding his true nature from me (albeit unintentionally)?  I would never have inflicted my level of organization on another person without giving them ample warning.  My family was verbally abusive and chaotic.  I spent 8 years in therapy while in school to manage all of the crap from them.  He knows all of this, because I TOLD HIM.  It is why my quiet, organized life is so important to me.  I held nothing back from him and I honestly thought he didn't either.  There were so many addicts and abusers around me I thought I could tell when someone was lying to me, using me.  He never felt like that.  It is why this is all such a punch in the face.  Bait and switch is exactly correct.  

But I didn't leave the instant I saw him become a bottomless pit of need.  No, I spent years trying to make lists, make appointments, find a way to make this work.  And he did nothing.  Day by day I was trying to get my old husband back and he did nothing but go down the rabbit hole in his mind.   Being kind and making gentle suggestions for three of those four years didn't get it done.   Being so angry that I am afraid of myself got it done.  I went to therapy for this anger issue of mine (yes, she knows about ADHD...she suggested it to me and gave me the name of the ADHD therapist that my husband is seeing). The best advice a therapist can give me is leave my husband or continue to be angry.  I feel damned either way.  I feel so guilty for not loving my husband they way that he is right now that I can barely sleep at night.  So now I have a choice of treating him like a child ( I am sorry, but every one of the suggestions on this site for partnering with my partner is treating him like a child but not actually calling it treating him like a child) or get divorced. 

I was afraid to post on this site because I figured quite a few people would blame me on this site...but I can take a ton of criticism for the hope that I can have my husband back ( the one I fell in love with, the competent one, the aware one).  I know that all the characteristics of my personality that allowed me to survive my upbringing and the male dominated world I work in do not match up with the limitless patience and mothering and subjugation of self that others here seem to say I need to provide to be a successful non-ADHD spouse.  I don't want my husband to validate my feelings, to understand why I am angry, to understand all I have suffered because of his disease and his behavior.  I don't need him to do any of that for me.  I know my feelings are valid, I know I have suffered.  All I want is for him to act the way he did before.  CONSISTENTLY.  I want him to treat our home as he did his own home or his parent's home.  I want him to treat me like he treats his job.  I want to live the exact same boring day of coffee, meds/vitamins/ shower/ work /cook dinner/ clean the house/ watch tv/ sleep with my husband for the rest of time.  I want him to start now, meds or no meds, just like he stopped four years ago.

I also want all of this to happen before I snap under the weight of not being true to myself.  I don't feel like this is if A then B.  I am in therapy for my anger issues with a respected therapist, I told him the ugly truth about myself and my family throughout, I am making sure he access to the best medical care in our area, I am making sure he has access to the best counseling care in our area.  I have spent money on white boards, organizers, calendars, cell phones with reminder apps.  I call him once a day to make sure he is using his list and to see if there is anything he needs to put in the calendar for work or personal information.  Until the last year, I told him I loved him every day.  I used to hold him in my arms when he would cry and say he didn't know what was wrong.  None of that got me any results.  What more can I do to be a good non-ADHD wife and still be me?    

Being true to ourselves

"I also want all of this to happen before I snap under the weight of not being true to myself. "

I know what you mean.  I place a high value on truthfulness.  Not saying everything that is in my head, but being truthful when I do speak and alerting my husband to issues and matters that are important to me; letting him know what I have planned; letting him know when things are bothering me.  He has labeled this as me "playing the honesty game."  No, it is not a game; yes, I believe in being honest.  My husband, in contrast, will lie and withhold information to help himself.  I don't think I should have to change myself to be a dishonest, deceptive person or continually work on myself so as to be comfortable with his deception.    


Miss, I hear everything you have said here and understand how much you have gone through trying to work through these issues with your spouse. That you feel so responsible for him and your marriage shows what a loyal person you are and how conflicted and miserable this has made you. I am sorry if my earlier post didn't reflect this--I was responding to your first post, but can absolutely see why you feel the way you feel in this second one.

I also experienced quite a bait and switch. My ex functioned pretty well, had a great, orderly apartment and friends and a life when we met. He hyperfocused for two years, and after we married, he started to disintegrate. When he added children and a house to the mix, he completely shut down. Could not shovel the walk, wake up before 2 p.m., work more than two days a week, remember to do anything. My anger at him unfortunately contributed to the decline--I did not know what I was dealing with until it was too late. 

It was easier with my ex, because his anger management issues and some erratic and abusive behavior, along with his inability to function beyond a pretty baseline level, provided me with a clear reason to leave. It was still hard--I agonized over it. I, too, begged him to get help and see a counselor and doctors, for five years, and he could not do it or help himself. I knew once I left that would be it. We had children in the mix, so in the end I felt I was protecting them as well. Mostly from their mother losing herself and going pretty nuts:-) Seriously. I was falling apart from stress and anxiety and depression. My kids needed me. I have been where you are. 

Of course your spouse does not want you to leave. Of course he is lost and devastated. My last post was directed toward saving your marriage, but it sounds like you may be asking about saving yourself. In which case, others may disagree, but if this is really the issue and your marriage can't be saved, I think life is too short to live in misery and a terrible relationship. I again wonder about a separation for you. I know that I could not think clearly until I lived by myself. What do you need to give yourself permission to do what you need for yourself?  Who knows, maybe some space will give you a break and give him a chance to work on himself. 

I wish you the best. Hang in there and take care of yourself.  

My heart goes out to you

Miss Midnight, I'm really feeling for you and your rough situation. I wanted to give you some words of encouragement.

First, please don't feel that you were weak or gullible or naive when you got into this relationship. Your husband really was that guy he presented himself to be. He is not that guy now, but your experience was true and real. He was not a con man who set out to dupe or trick you.

Second, you must be an incredible woman. There are a lot of women in the world, but YOU are the one who pierced through a foggy ADHD brain and captivated the heart of this man. You inspired him. He wanted to be like you. How amazing you must be to garner that full attention.

Third, being on the receiving end of an ADHDer's hyperfocus of love and attention is absolutely intoxicating. Most of us here can attest to that. You don't need to apologize for returning that love. (I defy any person who says they could resist such love and adoration.) I know that it is so, so heartbreaking when it fades, but I try to think of the hyperfocus time as a gift that few get to experience.

Fourth, don't feel guilty about your anger. Using it, in this case, was a natural, logical choice. Unfortunately, sometimes ANGER and CRISIS and LOUDNESS is the only way to get through to the ADHD brain. Also, good for you for trying to get out of this state.

Finally, are there any alternative ways to set up your marriage? It may not be traditional, but it could work for you. For example, can you live in separate residences? (I have a good marriage, but even I fantasize about moving into a duplex with 1 side for each of us.) Someone below suggested hiring a housekeeper. Maybe your husband can hire a personal assistant. I'm sure others here could offer more suggestions.

This is how I have been

This is how I have been feeling.  I worked at a Fortune 100 company, reporting to upper management. It was a job that required organization, diplomacy and multitasking skills -- approximately 100 projects in my position alone. I was the top paid in my grade level. My husband I met through a mutual friend who described him as a little "slow". I thought he was the "Peter Pan" guy when I met him. He had a clean home -- except he was in his 30s and living at home with his mother -- and his mother did all the cleaning. His mother passed away the year we met, and I moved in at his insistence shortly afterwards. He said I had "promised"... in hindsight, I never did such a thing... but I remember just talking about a place in the future. Things were really great because we were both on a high from the romance and I thought he was the one not to mention he was so sad losing his mother. In hindsight now... I know now he pushed for me to move in the month after his mother passed, to fill the slot that was left by her. Clean home, good meals, and now a warm bed.

I'm learning loving with detachment. I'm also dealing with a lot of resentment resulting from 20 yrs of ADD marriage. My upbringing was dysfunctional, but I've been in self psychology for the last 20 years. Since my spouse knows the details, when there's a disagreement, he'll throw it in my face that I have mental issues from my past. I really don't, it's an ongoing process to be human.

Surely your anger is beginning to seep into other areas of your life such as work.  I know an ADHD couple -- the wife is hyperactive, the husband is ADD with inattentiveness -- and they drove each other up the wall. They seem to be happier separated and both minding their child but I can tell whenever the man forgets to pick up the child and I get the call from her (very hyper and exceptionally enraged). Now this woman has been able to go and achieve the goals she wants to be happy, and the man goes and does whatever he'd prefer which is staying in his den.


I am sorry you are having

I am sorry you are having such a hard time. It sounds like maybe this is just a terrible fit and, given that you don't have children to worry about, it might be best to move on. I certainly don't believe a person should sacrifice their very self and live an extremely unhappy life just to stay married to someone.

But your husband isn't some snivelling ball of need and weakness. I feel defensive on his behalf since I have been in his shoes. He is wired differently than you- but that doesn't make him evil or small or stupid. If you don't want to be married to him, leave. But don't lose yourself and villainize and traumatize this poor man in order or stay and uphold your vows. If your actions don't support your vows, what does it matter if you have an intact piece of paper anyway? 

I am sorry you find yourself in this situation and that things have become so unhappy. No one can walk in your shoes and if, in your shoes, life is miserable with this man... Give yourself permission to leave. You have one life and you have a right to have some measure of happiness and peace. And so does he. 

Best of luck to you.

barneyarff's picture

Hi   I totally understand



I totally understand what you are saying.  I'm a professional woman too who has to work hard on NOT intimidating people.  I'm told I have a really strong personality.  In my career, this is good.

I'm confused about how your husband kept a clean house before you were married yet did not know how to cook or pay bills.  Just a piece of oddness there.

I notice that we think similarly.  I, too have tried everything and used a lot of my energy trying to help.  My DH was undiagnosed for many many years.  In fact I would say his undiagnosed ADHD and my anger towards it contributed to  my cancer.  And yes the chores the nonADD spouse has to do to maintain a  relationship is parenting.  I don't care what the professionals say.  I'm all for helping each other with their weak spots but the expectations for the non goes way beyond having the other's back and feeling like the spouse has her back.

One thing struck me about your post.  I'm wondering if what is keeping you in relationship that seems pretty clear you could leave easily, is the shame of it.  I know that has been a huge issue for me.  Guilt and shame.   Ahhhh 2 "old friends" that have caused me more damage than my DH's ADHD.


And as for your strength of communication.  I really enjoy it.  I get that you have a need to be efficient and neat and even though I am not as driven by that as you are, I get it.  And bravo for being so clear about your needs and desires.  If you are that clear and someone still doesn't get it, well, screw em.  (Just my opinion but remember I'm a really tough, hard to live with woman, too.)  AND BTW-- if you were a guy, you wouldn't have to explain yourself, you'd be bragging.  Once again, our misogynistic society rears it's ugly head to bite women like you and me.

Personally I think most of the stuff non-ADD spouses are supposed to do is sexist too since it's mostly men who have ADHD.

Sometimes I think it's a mixture of ADHD and man raised in this woman hating society.   (Waiting for the nasties to come at me for that one!!!!)

Look at shame and guilt.  If those are holding you prisoner, consider breaking out.



ADHD & sexism

I think you are onto something with the sexism. I have a couple of boys with ADHD. I'm working overtime to teach them how to take care of themselves. I'm pretty sure, though, they'll both find a woman to take care of them when they are adults. It chaps me to think about it.

My dh behaves like someone

My dh behaves like someone from the previous generation when it comes to the role of women in society. I can't help but feel everything he knows he learned from seeing his father act toward his mother 40-50 years ago. It feels chauvinistic at times in private. Loves the wife, hates when she's right but keeps her in her place just enough so she can help  him out of jams. He never learned anything about women in the subsequent years since he lived at home until the time we met. He can talk the equality talk and even give me major lip service for others benefit, but I don't really see him embrace any of these things in our private and personal life. It feels politically incorrect and it irks me no end. It's like being in a (policed) state and I don't agree with the politics but I have to deal with it.

My husband was the same way

He was raised by a social worker who eventually dumped his dad, after years of keeping his business afloat with her earnings. He gave great lip service to the idea of women being equal but once the hyperfocus wore off, he was like a bad father from a 1950's sitcom. Wife does it all, man just sits and watched TV. This was particularly galling as he was not working and I had 2 jobs. But he refused to do anything to clean the house, with a great deal of attitude of "it doesn't need to be done" and "I don't have to do what you say." He did come across as a male chauvinist pig, even though I don't think he believed that way.


My husband was one of 4 kids raised by a single mother. In the 1970's, she went back to school to earn a computer science degree. She was one of the few women in that field. She built her own house (except the wiring). My husband truly believes women can do anything and everything they set their minds to. It's was one of his attractions for me. And yet....he can't seem to figure out equality in the home. (That second shift killed me.) Maybe he saw his mom do everything and so he thinks women do....everything?

Learning disorders and 1950s-60s chauvinism

"everything he knows he learned from seeing his father act toward his mother 40-50 years ago"


"never learned anything about women in the subsequent years since he lived at home until the time we met"

I have a pet theory.  ADHD is often accompanied by learning disorders (and is a developmental disorder).  And many (not all) ADHD people have "sticky" or "rigid thinking". So maybe what those people (not all ADHD) learn early is so firmly imprinted that it is truly difficult to get that mindset "unstuck" and new information assimilated.

I was a furious as you are

No, this isn't a success story. But when my husband was diagnosed, I was told I could not expect anything from him for a year. I supported him for a year while he neither worked not did anything in the house, and I worked 2 jobs. Eventually he did get a job and we had 3 pretty decent years, although I was still angry at his lack of contribution to the house and not making enough money.

I was wondering, if both of you are working at well-paid jobs, can you just hire someone to do things the way you want them done? A housekeeper or maid could maintain your standards. Do you think that would make you less angry?

I eventually gave up on my husband. As far as I know he's living in a pigsty of a house with dog poop on the floor, and he won't answer calls and emails from me about outstanding practical issues. But at least I'm no longer angry at him. I'm just sad because we could have been so happy, if he had only tried to meet me part way.

Your Expectations

You should be very frightened of your anger. Your controlling nature will cause you to implode or explode sooner or later.  I believe that you may have too high of expectations where your husband is concerned. Marriage is not about you as an individual, but about the two carefully, gently, patiently, and lovingly combining and adapting to life. I don't hear any love on your part only disdain and anger for a man that is not ever going to be like you. Marriage is based on unconditional love, acceptance, and most of all respect, not on someone else's unrealistic expectations.

I hear from you that you want it and you want it now. If you want someone with ADHD to change certain behaviors with success, then you need to find the way that works for them, not you.

A good way to reevaluate the marriage is to do so away from job, home, husband, family, and friends. You're very organized and efficient so try this. 

Pencil, paper, privacy, and list all the pros and cons to you. What do you really want out of life? Did your thinking about this marriage change from the time you married? Is there anything left for you in this marriage? Would continuing the marriage fill any present needs of yours or your husbands? Are you hanging on to a marriage that is over, because of someone else's perceptions of marriage and divorce?

It sounds like you and your husband may both be harming yourselves and each other.  A marriage that is not based in love and respect can not survive!!!!

God won't hate you

So just leave them, and really, it is that simple. There is nothing to be gained by losing your mind, there is no reward for struggling and hurting that much, this is what I know after seven years of hell with an ADHD. There is no reward waiting on the other side, no good can come of allowing someone to destroy everything you are and everything you have worked for.

I spent seven years going through the same nightmare with an ADHD. No conscious, never thought about anyone else, turned our home into a pig pen, lied, cheated, ignored me, refused to have sex but sexted other females, fixated and stared at pre-teen girls in the mall, pool, or restaurant to the point that I was afraid some father would punch him senseless. I lost it a few times when I tried to explain the implication of his behavior toward these children and he said I was just jealous. Then I would scream at him, recalling every bastardly thing he had ever done to me. He left for days and didn't come back. I wouldn't hear from him, he would just disappear, never called, never text, would not answer his phone.

I tried to tell myself it was the ADHD, that I should stay because I was a good woman and I didn't want to go from man to man. I didn't want that lifestyle. He took full advantage of my beliefs and took things as far as it would go. When we were moving into a new house, he suddenly decided he didn't want me with him, and here I remain, in shock and disbelief, lost in limbo until I can get an apartment. And once again, he won't talk to me, answer his phone, text back, nothing. But I have come to expect him to do mindless things because he has brain damage after all. Damage to the frontal lobe from my understanding, not the gift as some try to claim. Damage that leaves him with no empathy, sympathy, honesty, morals, conscious... nothing but a manipulative, predatory, evil personality. There is no gift here, just a brain that does not function properly and as he intends to get no treatment for it, never will.

God did not intend for me to be miserable, God wanted more than that for me, for us. Bless you all for your posts. It has saved my life to know that I am not imagining anything, that I am not delusional, that this is really happening to me. I can only hope for recovery now, recovery from the horrors of life with an ADHD psychopath.

I understand your anger and

I understand your anger and how you feel.  I think we all can relate to feeling like our husbands are more like a child than a husband.  I do want to add what another post mentioned, your husband should see a psychiatrist and get on meds.  The coach and/or therapy will help but he needs meds to help him focus better.  My husband has been on meds for several months and is finally see a decent therapist and things are getting better.  But he still has ADHD, my kids still have a dad with a chronic disorder/mental illness that they need to know about and know how to deal with.  His negative behaviors still affect us, more so them because they can't understand.  I still have a ton of hurt feelings and anger from dealing with his behavior for years.  I know how you feel, you didn't sign up for this but take your vows seriously.  It's hard to be married to someone with ADHD or any mental illness or chronic illness or addiction or a ton of other problems.  I don't like it either.  It really stinks.  I often feel discouraged too.  I think you might need a new therapist too.  You need someone that will help you get over your anger, and deal with the stress, not just tell you it's justified (even though it may very well be).  I'm so glad you found this site.  I hope you can find some encouragement and support here.  Even though we are all different, we all have very similar situations.