Should I stay or should I go

I recently got married to someone who I thought was IT! I mean everything in a nutshell. Even thought we came from EXTREMELY different planets (backgrounds) I felt like we just meshed so well. Knowing the my ADDer came from a broken home and a harsh environment (the HOOD) I could see the lack of expressing too many emotions, not knowing how to be romantic and not knowing how to conduct themselves in a new environment (the suburbs) but I thought that could change with time in no time. Boy I could not have been more wrong!! After our wedding date, things became warped. I found myself doing EVERYTHING! All of the qualities that I once fell in love with are now erased like they were never present in the first place. I soon became overwhelmed with remembering when her bills were due and keeping track of events and many other things up to my eyeballs. In all of that, I lost ALL of me. I soon struggled with keeping my personal bills and responsibilities in order and noticed that I was not paying as much attention to my son as I always have. I found myself trying to raise not only my child but my full grown spouse as well. I BEGGED and CRIED and TRIED and TRIED to show her and explain to her how her lack of focus and inattentiveness affected me. I grew weary and my health began failing trying to keep up with everything. I went from fun loving and outgoing to miserable and unhappy really quickly. I felt as though I had done all that I could to save us. We started counseling and it was awkward at first but we both got into it. I was so beyond frustrated and angry within 1 week following our first session that I thought my head was going to explode! During our 3rd visit after explaining my frustrations and anger and extreme lack of interest in this marriage, the therapist asked a few SIMPLE questions and BAM! She advised this could be ADD. I instantly felt horrible about being angry and decided that I was going to tough this out but there WILL BE boundaries. I began reading this forum and it gave me an alternate view to ADD marriages. This soothed me for a spell. I began then noticing that everything was getting worse almost like now that I may have a condition, you have no choice but to stick with it! Um, NO. I asked her if she thought she was socially awkward or saw any differences in her coping skills from anyone else...she said no and didn't care how others viewed her as long as she did not embarrass me. Talking to her is like talking to a wall. Here came the instant frustration and anger with everything I mentioned. Completely defensive no matter what I said. I advised her that she was becoming impossible to be with anymore and I fight myself EVERYDAY to stay here in this marriage and her attitude does not make it ANY better. In a nutshell, she understands that she may have ADD but doesn't know what to do as she was never used to caring about herself in this way she mostly always just had survival skills more than anything else. I am completely drained of EVERYTHING, love, emotions, desire, and so much more. I have blocked her from my heart in fear that I may lose myself even more while helping her find herself. I fear that she is just getting on the bandwagon in fear of losing me and our life together and not really for herself. It makes all the effort phoney and useless. If you do not see a problem with yourself, how can you put all of your efforts into this? I feel like I should get out while I can before I'm unhappy for 20 years down the line. I'm not getting any younger and she's not really trying to make much progress (in my opinion) Please help!

another perspective

Hi there,

No one can really advise you on this. It's too important a decision and none of us have the information we need (actually knowing you and your wife) to be able to comment.

I will say this in defense of your wife: If she just got her diagnosis- (as I did in the fall) she is in for a process of discovery. She can't overnight click her heels and change. I know you aren't hoping for that- and that you just want to see some commitment to working on things... but she quite possibly feels like she can't change or that her changes will never be enough for you. She is obviously in defense mode.

I have become very depressed at times realizing- I am never going to be demure and controlled and measured. That is not who I am- ADHD or not. I cannot rid myself of my outbursts, but I can make them less frequent and less severe. I can remind myself to pay closer attention to my husband and the things he values- but I can't guarantee him I will remember all the little details.

Maybe your wife needs to understand that you aren't expecting her to become a different person over night- unless you are- in which case, maybe you should get out.

I am sorry this relationship has been so difficult and that you feel so tired and drained. I hope you can work it out soon.


Thank you for your response.

Thank you for your response. I have said that I don't expect her to change overnight and I'm not out to hurt her or make her feel like an outcast but to no avail. She has always had to be in defense mode her whole life and now its extremely hard for her to let that go. She is very stubborn and I know that this situation is so unreal for her her right now as she admitted she used to joke about it all the time but there's a glitch in her thinking she's trying. I guess she is trying mentally but there are no actions to show ANY progress. I'm not looking for Rome to be built in 1 day but I sure don't want to wait for 30 years just to see 1 building either! I really think she feels that a pill will magically make her better...I know it will not and as I learn about ADD i try to educate her as well and I tell her that the pill will only slow her brain down to be able to grasp things better but she needs to learn new coping strategies and step outside of her comfort zone to learn better ways to deal with things. She holds onto the ways she had in the past but doesn't want to be judged for her "ghetto" ways. I'm so confused and I can't believe this is my life. I feel tricked and duped into this marriage and it's not fair because now I feel obligated to stay with someone I no longer know. 

She is the same,

She is the same person you married before and now.I am no expert but I am in a relationship with my ADHD husband as well, and I know that things can be really hard.If she does not take responsibility for her own actions then things will NOT change.She has to willingly do the things to better herself and to make change.The beginning is called the "hyper focused courtship"and as you read and go on you would understand that sometime's being in an ADHD relationship the "hyper focused courtship"could just end abruptly,zilch/zero/nada.This is b/c their brain's are wired this way and the only thing that could bring back the focus or the attentiveness and to ease down is,meds,therapy and self-work.Other than that,there is no change and things can continue to be pretty much ugly.

But I read and I trust that things can get better! the thing is I am not telling you to wait and see,it would not happen like that.She needs to woman up to her actions,take meds and get therapy and things could improve dramatically.Being in an ADHD relationship could turn around for the better.(I read that) G:)

I love my ADHD husband,and if he did not have ADHD I would not have loved him this much.This is no reason for me to stay and be bullied,but,I am staying b/c not only I love him,I "trust" he would wake up soon and make change,I try not to nag him but,I have come up with something else other than nagging him,I wait for him to be in a good mood and I take him down in the ADHD conversation and he agrees to taking meds and therapy ,and he has not done it as yet but time is getting close.I believe he would.

I hope I give you a little encouragement,hang in there and try in ways you think you could get through to her and

good luck!!!


how long have you been married and when was her diagnosis?

Marriages, even ones without an ADHD component, are hard work. Period. They go through lovely times and then awful, tough times that shake you down.

Having said that- if it's this much work at the very beginning and you don't have a lot of good-will stored in the bank from the good times, I can see why you might want to pull the plug on it.

Her character isn't going to change significantly. We are who we are. So if you have a problem with that, get out. 

On the other hand,  behaviors can change-  if she is willing to put the work in and you are willing to grant her a little time and space to try. It isn't fast though. Undoing years of coping mechanisms is hard. Also- as Melissa Orlov's book discusses- you may need to change your approaches as well.

Whatever you decide, I wish you luck. :)



We got married in November

We got married in November 2011 and 1 month later everything went haywire. I know she can change but she's so used to saying I don't know or I can't remember ALL THE TIME and when I think shes going to get it I am proved wrong. She tells me she doesn't know where to start. Well if I didn't think anything was wrong with me I wouldn't know where to start either. She has not had an official diagnosis we are just going by the word of our marriage counselor. She is to be diagnosed next month. I know it sounds horrible but I don't want to raise an adult woman. She relies on me for everything even things she knows I don't know ex... Why does Walmart sell this...I don't know!! I always say I don't work here so I can't answer that...she gets frustrated. I make myself stay because I made vows to her but other than that I'm not sure there's much else that my anger and frustration hasn't taken over. I don't know if I can revive feelings that I've erased with anger. Unfortunately that's my defensive mechanism and one never had to reverse this action.

She is the same person, no

She is the same person, no matter what. But what you are feeling is not normal. I went through a time with my hubby before and after he was diagnosed feeling like I got tricked into marriage, and to some extent, feeling guilty because I pushed for the marriage when he wasn't ready.

You need to allow yourself some time to grieve as well. ADD is scary as Hell. You have to readjust your thinking. And yes, you have to ask yourself, "Can I stay in it for the long haul?" Six months is no indication of how things will go. I don't think it's fair of you to bail on her when she'd just discovering some of this stuff. Would you do the same thing if she had cancer or some other terminal disease? 

Honestly, the first year of marriage is Hell. It's not all wine and roses like society/people would have us to believe. On my first anniversary, I sat across from my husband at Applebee's (because we were too poor to eat elsewhere) and thought, "Who did I marry? I don't even know this man." Marriage changes everything even when you think it won't.

Have you tried supporting her, loving her in spite of everything, and not expecting anything in return? Yeah, there will be times where you feel like you're raising child and there will be times when you don't feel that way. The fact that she was willing to go to counseling is leaps and bounds above what some of the spouses on here do. If she willing to work with a doctor to get medicated and willing to seek some additional counseling on her own, you may see gradual improvement. Yes, it will take time, but if you really love her, it is time well spent. Continue to seek out marriage counseling and give it some time.

My honest opinion is that I

My honest opinion is that I fell in love with the "hyperfocus". Now that the battle is won and things are "permanent" I am no longer seeing any of the things I fell in love with. We have only been married for 6 months, 5 of which we have been having major issues. I find myself not focusing on my son's ADHD because I'm trying to bring her up to speed on life. Most time i feel as though she uses ADD as a sympathy card. How is it that she can find things to research on her phone that SHE wants to know but if i ask her to research insurance options for HERSELF she makes all kinds of excuses : I can't see the font on the phone...I didn't have time at work...I was sitting in traffic and couldn't focus...I wanted to wait for you to show me how to. We dated for a short time and all within a year we were married and I feel like we don't really have any memories to hold onto as we have constantly had obstacles in our way since we've gotten married. I feel like I woke up to a stranger. She allows her family to say insulting things to me and she NEVER sticks up for me or anything. She always tells me she didn't hear what happened even though she would be within 2 feet away from the person. She just tunes it all out and of course this all happens AFTER we get married. I ask her to put herself in my shoes and I then explain a situation and ask her how she would feel or react...she tells me exactly how I feel!!!! It's like magic and I'm telling her well that's how I feel and the next day...NOTHING I said is remembered. Nothing! I can say you spend way to much money on junk food and this is why we never have any money for activities and we struggle to pay bills that are IMPERATIVE...HER: like what are you talking about... ME: you went to 7-11 2 times, CVS, Sheetz 3 times, Jerrys, Burger King etc. Her: I only went to CVS 1 time!!!! This is the extent of the conversation cause she heard nothing else I said. I fight with myself everyday looking for strength to tolerate this and this is a battle that I am quickly losing. She says she's trying but admits that it's in her head but I'm not seeing action so to me you're not trying is the conversation we have daily. When I talk to her calmly and I'm trying to understand her she gets lazy and starts the "I don't know" & "I forgot" thing again but if I talk to her like I'm crazy then she puts so much effort into it and even still that only lasts for a few days. I hope I did not offend anyone with my frustration, I'm just extremely confused and frustrated.

Just FYI...she comes from a

Just FYI...she comes from a life of manipulation in order to survive so sometimes it's hard to tell if she is trying to manipulate me out of habit to keep what she wants or if she really doesn't know. We are just 2 totally different people from 2 totally different walks of life and not only is this ADD, she has a great struggle with expressing her emotions and asking for help and horrible communication AND has never seem romance or real love growing up and no one she's dated in the past has required it from her. She is simply clueless and I feel extremely overwhelmed because the person I married did not have those issues. It wasn't perfect but she had potential. Now it's like I am married to a stranger. To answer the question of would I leave if she had cancer or a terminal illness, my answer is NO I wouldn't even think about it. To me ADD is a condition that can be treated by medication and counseling but most of all self determination. The main ingredient in managing ADD is all on you. If you chose to ignore it or not put all your effort into learning how to manage then you will suffer and sometimes others around you. Cancer is different. Although you can be treated with all types of things these days and you can have counseling, you have NO power to change it. You can't put all your efforts in to managing it alone because it may or may not take your life. ADD is not a brush with death or something that you cannot control. 

MagicSandwich's picture

Well put

I really like how you put it, "To me ADD is a condition that can be treated by medication and counseling but most of all self determination." It's not at all like being diagnosed with cancer, but if one were to make a parallel to another medical condition I'd say that ADHD is similar to having diabetes because both conditions are managed by daily relentlessness in self determination, impulse control and medication. 

dazedandconfused I am so

dazedandconfused I am so happy that you responded to this as this is a therapy session for me. Thank you. I knew coming into this that we were different and marriage was not going to be puppies and rainbows. But I saw a woman with self determination and drive. I commended her for not becoming a statistic in such a harsh environment and no family structure and falling victim to drug usage and nothingness. She has a hardworking attitude and has a big heart. I would never take that away from her. I have always understood her and never wanted anything in return. I know 6 months is not a long time but this began from day 1 with her. November 2010 I mistakenly ended up in the city of Baltimore on a fluke and met an amazing woman. I saw so much potential with her. I wanted to help her go back to school, get some type of career going and travel the world and make many memories. All of this was right up her alley and I could tell that no one had ever cared about her enough to even mention anything like that. As soon as we got married...all of that faded, she no longer had faith that she could go to school and work at the same time, she didn't want to travel cause money was tight or she had never been on a plane, train, etc. and she was too comfortable with her job and didn't want to change it. HUH? Things we talked about for a whole year just POOF disappeared? She had an amazing relationship with my son and it was almost like they were friends for she is strict and does not play with him but is a verbal disciplinarian. I mean everything is the complete opposite of what i knew. I mentioned to her when I first started seeing major changes that things were different about her and I wasn't sure what was going on but I didn't like it. Her response was well you're stuck with me now and if you seen these things before would you have stayed with me? I honestly replied...No. These changes were not something that I was aware of and didn't know if I was strong enough to deal with. Shortly after this i found out my son has ADHD and I was devastated. So  I have already had to rewire my life to be his strength and learn about what helps him learn/focus and now i just find out that my wife has it too? Its hard enough knowing that my child's brain in like an action video game (metaphor from the doc) and he has no direction and doesn't know where to start because I'm trying to balance changing for her and him all at the same time. My child comes matter energy should go to him. Especially when its obvious that she is not getting help and doing any of this for herself but just so she doesn't lose me. You can half-a** something when you don't really care about it. When you're heart is in it...theres nothing that could stop you!

You make valid points. But

You make valid points. But you have to remember she is not wired like you...she's not even wired like your ADHD son. The biggest lesson that I have had to learn is to NOT apply my thinking to my husband. I'm still working at it! Like you, I'm a go-getter. If I make a plan, I don't deviate from it. I bust my butt to accomplish it. It's SO HARD to look at my husband and not see that same drive. Essentially it is that he is too overwhelmed. They see all the steps at the same time and it just drowns them. They can't take it one thing at a time and when they can't, they shut down. 

My husband used to have drive. He was a cop...he kicked butt and took names....had the best conviction rate in his department...spearheaded the first warrant squad. But it didn't save him from the ADHD. He pissed off the wrong people (no filter these ADHD folks...) and they went after him for his chronic lateness. This happened two days before our wedding. After we got home from our honeymoon, he just shut down. Slept all day, would stay up all night "working' seedy clubs. It was awful. We moved so I could take a different job and it got worse. He wouldn't even get out of bed...wouldn't look for a job. When he did find work, it last a few months before he got let go for the lateness issues and uncontrolled anger. My family thinks he's the most irresponsible person on earth, which is really hard on me since their opinion matters. But I've stuck by him and stuck up for him and he is slowly changing. He's been working as a cook and a DJ at a bar for the last year and half. He's developed tricks to get to work on time, with or without his meds. He's doing better but there are still days that I just want to scream. If I was in his position I would be filling out job apps left and right, knocking on doors, anything to get a more stable job, but he doesn't. He seems content with mediocrity which is really upsetting. I was engaged (before I met my hubby) and I broke up with the guy because he had no drive. I suppose it's karma for breaking the guy's heart? :-)

I say all that because it will be up and down for a while until she gets her head around her diagnosis and gets some help. Don't give up. You'll want to, but don't. There have been many times I have been on the brink of leaving my husband but I love him too much and I can't deny that I would be loser if/when he gets his act together because as he reminds me, "he will." Try to support her through this time; take her out and have a meal and then be honest. Find out how she's feeling and ask her what you can do to help. It's so easy for us to be the "capable, in-charge" person and think we know best. I have to make myself step back and ask my hubby what I can do to best relate to him. Indeed if she comes from the background she does, she probably feels deep down that you're going to leave her so why try? It's a thin line we walk as non-ADHD spouses--how do we encourage without enabling?

And don't worry about her reasons for trying to change. That's a big pitfall. I used tear myself up because my hubby would do things to keep me quiet and not necessarily because he loved me or in attempt to keep things together. It's just how they deal with the situation and it's no bearing on their feelings for us.

Marriage is hard even when you know it's going to hard. I honestly think that if we knew how very hard it is, no one would want to get married. Add the ADHD into it and it can become a nightmare. Blame the disease and not her. Yes, she's got to take responsibility for it, but it's early days. Just remember that whatever she says will change from day to day, mood to mood. My hubby says stuff all the time like "There's no point applying for that job--they won't even interview me." and then the next day or week be like, "I'm applying for that job; I feel good about it." Their moods can swing really easily. 

Good luck and try to relax (if you can).


Thanks again...I'm still

Thanks again...I'm still battling myself on this because unlike so many others, I had a short time to know her (mostly because I had to ask the right questions as there is a code of silence where she came from). You probably have loved your husband for such a long time and have seen him have a successful career and motivation and honestly, if I had most of the chance as others, I would totally stay and try to work it out but I haven't. I didn't give it time to find out all the things I truly needed to see/know before marrying. As I said there was some motivation (off of my encouragement) before marriage and now nothing. I'm just NOW finding out little by little during our therapy session just how hard her life was. I wrote to a friend of mine responding to her comment of "I don't think its like raising her" me it's what I responded to her...

It is because I have to make sure she remembers stuff and I have to remind her to make sure she makes better decisions, I have to understand when she does things that I don’t like or things I think she should know better about…I have to show her everything her parents did not because she really doesn’t know. So the only difference is she’s grown…So imagine the duties/responsibilities you have as a mother to your son over the course of his life, to protect him, to guide him, to make sure he knows right from wrong, to ensure that he knows his potential is and can be, make sure he knows why it’s important to take care of himself and be healthy, to respect his family and friends and all of those around him, to pick and choose his battles, etc. Now imagine having to do all of those things for someone who has grown up in an environment that you have never been to or can associate with, someone who has learn habits from the street and raw trial and error, someone who is so closed to the world because of all the broken promises and false intentions and pure neglect, a person who has never seen a family unit function normally, someone stubborn to change because they have learned to never trust anyone but themselves, somebody who has all these bad experiences embedded in their character afraid to try a different way because it’s so far from what they are used to and don’t have the life skills or confidence to step outside of the box. And on top of that I have to teach her about romance and communication. Tell me the difference and the struggle that is presented…

Its a tough job...

  I am - of course -


I am - of course - completely biased. I have been with my ADD husband for over a decade. I didn't know he had ADD when I met him. I knew he was forgetful and I knew he had problems "getting going" but I thought that was just part of his 'newness' of being in a relationship. I was wrong. Several years into the marriage he was diagnosed with ADD. He has medication, acknowledges he has ADD but that's about it. I bought the books, I found information, *I* told him that ADD was a reason for his behavior but not - in my book - an excuse and that he should use the books to come up with things that work for him. He hasn't so far.  

The guy I fell in love with seemed to disappear overnight as soon as we got married and despite medication making a difference, it isn't quite what it was. I now know that it is likely I fell for him while he was in his hyperfocus phase. 

I've been contemplating divorce for many years. We don't have kids (and I would *never* have them with him) and I would be financially independent. In fact, I was thinking divorce after our first year of marriage but then I was still holding out hope things would change (after all, they had been great *before* we got married, I didn't see why we couldn't go back to that). Of course DH was also *promising* me he would address the issues. He never did and when he was diagnosed years later, all the puzzle pieces slotted together.

If I knew what I know now when we were talking marriage, I would never have married him and I would have left him. I would not have wasted nearly a decade of my life trying to fix the unfix-able. It seems your wife is very reluctant - whether through upbringing or her character - to acknowledge she even needs help. If you have tried to help her face this and she still is not open to suggestions, I would leave. Especially because you have a child that looks to *you* for guidance and parenting. You are responsible for your child, you are not responsible for your wife. She is -after all - an adult. I know it's easier said than done, but in this case, I would count my losses and run. 


stay or go

I have been asking myself this question for 16 years.... I knew something was not right within a month after getting married, took nearly 6 years to know it was ADHD, and only discovered because I was getting my first child diagnosed, and the light bulb went on for me & my H. Now its been nearly 10 years since we knew why he behaved the way he does and i have tried and tried to get him to change, but he just doesn't seem to want to, or really can't, i don't know which it is. I have stayed because of my children, yet at the same time feeling resentful that i have spent most of my 30's & 40's with a man who is more like an unruly child. I am ready to 'go', yet still for my children I have yet to take that step. I know eventually I will, when I look into the future I cannot see staying in this relationship once they are gone, and I am looking forward to the freedom. So should you stay or go ? Only you can answer that.  What does your future hold when you look into your crystal ball ? 

I feel your pain...

So much of what you said resonates with me, especially the part about blocking your ADHD spouse from your heart out of fear. I have done the same, and the wall I have put up over the course of our marriage gets thicker and thicker each year, and my anger has grown exponentially. Like you, I have become a person I no longer like (angry, frustrated all the time), and feel like my husband is like a tornado in my life. I realized that not only am I a mother to my children, but also a mother to him. I also have no partner to depend on. I have been married for 15 years, and only 2 years ago realized that my husband has severe ADD. I was the one to bring it up, and to ask him to seek help. After being angry and in denial about it for months, he finally agreed to seek treatment after I threatened to divorce him (it was a serious threat, because I had had enough). He was quickly diagnosed (9 on a scale of 10, according to his doctor), and had been taking medication and seeking therapy. Unfortunately, he forgets to take meds every day and often forgets his appointments or can't make them because his work schedule is totally insane (his choice). What I have found is that he is very defensive, and often refuses to take responsibility for his actions, even when he is clearly in the wrong and has caused me or my children obvious distress or potential harm. He blames almost everything on me, and expects me to clean up after his messes. Perhaps this is a trait of ADHD, or maybe he is just tired of everyone telling him that he's not good enough, that he's a screw up, or he's a mess (which he's heard his whole life). We have been making very, very slow progress in therapy this year, and making our relationship work is an exhausting, full-time job. If not for couples therapy, I would have divorced him a year ago. I cannot tell you to stay or go, just that there is hope, if you and your wife are both willing to put everything you have into repairing your marriage and LIVING with ADHD - because there is no cure -- AND if you can accept that the only thing that will ever change is your response to the ADHD, then you might be OK. Good luck. You are certainly not alone in this struggle!