Six Signs that ADHD May Be Part of Your Marriage

Wondering if your marriage problems might be explained by the presence of ADHD?  Here are six signs that you should look for:

1.      There is a seriously unbalanced distribution of responsibility in your household.  A partner with ADHD often has trouble following through on tasks that are boring or need full attention.  To compensate, non-ADHD spouses often "pick up the slack."  But after a while, this leads to resentment and lack of partnership, as the non-ADHD partner feels he or she shoulders the vast majority of the "scutwork" and responsibility, while the ADHD partner gets to do whatever he or she wants.

2.      You hate to nag or be nagged, but it happens all the time.  In an attempt to get an ADHD partner to complete unfinished household chores or change habits, it's easy for non-ADHD partners to feel they are forced to nag.  But unless the spouses have agreed that specific types of reminders are necessary and acceptable, nagging always hurts the relationship.  The issue isn't one of "willpower" on the part of the ADHD, but rather "brain wiring."  A better choice  is to set up ADHD-sensitive structures and habits to support better distribution of chores and timely completion.

3.      You were the sun, moon and stars during courtship.  Now you feel like chopped liver.  You haven't been courted until you experience the amazing hyperfocus a person with ADHD can deliver!  Unfortunately, hyperfocus inevitably ends, often abruptly.  Distraction once again becomes the norm.  The non-ADHD partner is left feeling confused and alone.

4.      No matter how hard you try, things never seem to change - except for the worse.  Until couples know ADHD is part of their relationship they tend to choose ADHD-unfriendly solutions to their problems.  One example - asking an ADHD partner to "just try harder" and expecting a better outcome.  Another example, trying to suppress non-ADHD partner's anger because there is no obvious way to express it without incurring defensiveness.  Once you know about ADHD, though, you can choose different approaches known to be effective when ADHD is present.

5.      You have a child diagnosed with, or suspected of having, ADHD.  ADHD is highly heritable.  Adults with ADHD have approximately a 50% chance of having a child with ADHD.  When a person actually has ADHD, about 80% of the expression of it is inherited, vs. about 20% due to environmental factors - putting the heritability of ADHD up there with eye color and hair color.  So if you have a child with ADHD, chances are good that at least one of the parents has it, too.  If you already know one of you has ADHD, then just assume it's impacting your marriage.  Once you learn more, you'll see that it is.

6.      One spouse feels as if the other is more like an extra child than a partner.  Unfortunately, one of the most common patterns in marriages affected by ADHD is the "parent/child" pattern.  One adult is the "responsible" one, while the other one is carefree or considered irresponsible, and often finds him or herself being told what to do.  Usually, the ADHD spouse is not actually carefree or irresponsible, it just seems that way because he or she can't follow through easily on daily tasks.  The imbalance of power the parent/child pattern creates engenders resentment in both partners that often leads to disrespectful interactions.

If you see these patterns in your marriage, I recommend you pursue the possibility that ADHD may be impacting your relationship.  Find out all you can about ADHD by reading Delivered from Distraction or similar books.  Read my blog posts (start in the favorite posts sections) to see if you see your marriage there, and ask questions in our forum.  Discovering ADHD is causing relationship troubles is actually good news.  Now you'll be able to start learning how to turn your troubled relationship around. 


I cried a little bit when I read this

We were five for six--and only because we don't have children, so #5 doesn't apply.

Every time I see something like this from you, Melissa, I wish that my husband had "stuck in there" for the sake of the marriage and come to some sort of understanding about the enormous role his ADD had in its collapse. We might have been able to save it. But he just blames it back on me, or a sense of "incompatibility" and that's that. I wonder now if he ever even really loved me. I can't help but think that he at least would have *tried* after the diagnosis if he had. Even after all these months, and having moved on in my head from this marriage and looking to the future, it still hurts to think that the marriage--and me--didn't rate nearly as highly as his stubbornness and pride. Leaving the ADD aside, I'm rather ashamed that I married someone like that. I deserve better.

sapphyre's picture

Hugs for BreadBaker

So not your fault that he didn't care enough about your relationship to make some effort to deal with his ADHD.

At least now you know it was hard for both of you, because it is hard for all of us. I hope that gives you some closure.

It does

And thanks for the hugs. :)

After reading the forum for a while, I'm starting to think that, beyond the ADD, I may have simply made a very bad marital choice. Lots of husbands seems willing to work on their issues and take *some* responsibility. Mine let his ADD trash much of the marriage without knowing it, left, and then found out about the issue. I think that a more loving, courageous husband would have at least *tried*. Mine took the easy way out. This does bring me some closure--I think he just couldn't handle, or admit, not being "right" all of the time. One of my family members called him a "quitter." I think that would have been the case, ADD or no. I'm so disappointed in him, and I wish he could have proved me wrong in this respect. :(

I read your other post. Hugs back. This truly is hard for all of us. Thank goodness for this forum. Between this, my faith, my friends, my therapist, and my work, I'm able to maintain some sense of sanity.

sapphyre's picture

On your 'very bad marital choice'

Hey, you're human. Getting married is always a bit scary, and there's no fool proof way of being sure.

I've known very happily married couples who'd only known each other a little while before they married, and others who knew each other for years who can't stand each other (but still stay together).

Hubby and I lived in different countries when we met (he was on holiday), and had a whirlwind romace with an engagement less than 3 months after we'd met (and we'd only spent 3 weeks together in person at that point), followed by a long distance relationship of more than 6 months until he could immigrate to my country. Lots of my friends were convinced I must have been duped by someone using me for citizenship... more than 13 years, 2 kids, and a mortgage later, we're still crazy about each other, and sometimes still driving each other crazy.

I hope there is someone else out there for you, BreadBaker, you deserve it, and you are certainly not destroyed because of one failed relationship.

I know what your going

I know what your going through. Your story sounds like mine only I have two kids 16 & 12.  I thought there was hope when he was diagnosed, but it hasn't.  It's actually got worse and he's taking the cowardly way, too.  Although last week he was going to try.  This week...he knows it's over.  He knows it's over and doesn't want to try and wants me to file for divorce.  He's getting off his meds, because he doesn't think he has a problem.  He even went as far as saying he realized he never loved me and only stayed for the kids, but now he has clarity.

If he can't make the right decision

You've got to. It's incredibly sad, I think we all want this happily ever after feeling but then we're forced to make a decision that takes us somewhere we never thought we'd have to go. Whether I physically stay or go I ruminate about doing or not doing the right thing. Can I find my way? Will I ever feel joyful again or will I end up living a life of regret? I find some comfort in solitude and catch my breath and reflect... I once loved him and made a commitment to him, I did not commit to ADD. If my husband chooses ADD over me that is his choice but we both live the consequences of his decisions from one week to the next. He's the one who keeps rocking the boat and I might have to jump ship one day just to save myself...

one more frustrated wife...

When you say "I once loved him and made a commitment to him, I did not commit to ADD" I feel a lump in my throat because you are describing exactly how I feel!! After 6 years of marriage, sometimes I just wake up feeling angry, like I know I am up for another battle just to keep things stable.

My husband is always changing jobs, needless to say he always blames other people or situations in his work place just to leave. I sadly have discovered that it is not "people or situations" but his own ADD what makes him bored, inconsistent and therefore ineffective in his work. He loves to travel, to discover new places, to meet new people, to paint, to create, to talk, but he hates having to keep a report in EXCEL, and doing the same thing everyday, and basically all the things that an average 9-5 job requires of anyone else.

I get ANGRY every time he quits a job, so last time (two weeks ago) he just left his job without telling me, while I was abroad visiting my family. He just called me one night and said "Baby, I am coming to see you!...I will be flying tomorrow morning"...And something that for a loving wife would have been a thoughtful gesture, for me it was calamity.  By the way, he had to drive two hours from our home to the airport the night before and he got a flat, because he never checks the tires, or fluid levels in the car before, even though I am always asking him to do it. He did not have a spare tire because since last time this happened, he has never put the spare back in the trunk....!! All these inconveniences (and risks)caused by his forgetfulness. And even though he had had a spare, he never learned how to change a tire.

All these things make me feel sad, embarrassed, defeated, and less of a woman and more of a big mama that is always worried about things he will forget, not do or simply put off for "later"

I don't know if what I feel for him is love anymore. He has always been a loving, caring person to me. Like I have read in other posts, he always says he loves me, and brings me flowers and fills me with sweet details. But in daily life issues, I am always feeling like we will end up ruined financially, and I an truly affraid of having a baby, because I already feel like I have to take care of/ worry for my husband to have another responsibility. Moreover if we both work, I wonder if he will forget to feed, pick up, bathe, or watch our kids if I ever need his help...

I am just very tired, overwhelmed, angry and unhappy right now.



Pink's picture


If you can't get over what  you are  dealing with now... do not have kids with him. things will get worst. Not better. I happen to me. I waited 5 years before deciding if I want to have a kid and mabye he will get a job maybe he will change if I have a kid. Nothing change on his side. Just turn out I have 2 kids rather than a husband and a baby. They do forget things. I had no choice to leave the baby with him and I have to work. He doesn't follow and take care of him as a mother does. It is not the same. He will only focus on that. The house was a mess. There was no dinner on the table. I said to myself okay that fine he is taking care of the baby. But, if I was home, I will manage much better. Take care of the baby and when the baby is sleeping then clean up and cook... but not someone with ADD they can only do one ting. still with one thing not prefect. Plus you will 90% have a kid with ADD. Are you ready for that?

I hear you but...

I hear you but I feel like you made a sweeping generalization with the comment, "...but not someone with ADD they can only do one ting." That's simply not true because many people with ADD/ADHD are quite capable of handling multi-tasking, including myself. In fact, some people with ADD/ADHD handle multiple tasks better because it's not just a single thing to do. Of course taking care of the house and the baby would be easier for you. That's like saying someone without dyslexia could read better than a person with dyslexia -- no one would disagree with that! I've been a stay-at-home mom for going on 11 years for three children, ages 10 (11 in Nov), 9, and 6. I do struggle with day to day tasks and responsibilities (some days more than others), but I think it would be wise (and considerate) to not stereotype others with ADD/ADHD solely based on your husband's symptoms.

i cried a lil bit

im new to this site but can definitely relate. i was married 14 years, recently divorced. during my entire marriage, i was the breadwinner, took care of all responsibilities and was neglected emotionally. my husband rarely even spoke to me unless it was regarding our children and our sex life was non existent. we went to counseling on several occasions but were told that he has  "communication" problem. after 14 years with no change...i could not take it anymore. i filed for my divorce and it was final in april of this year. shortly after my husband moved out he was finally diagnosed with ADD. now it all makes sense!!! now i feel as though i left him when he was sick and needed me. however he is in denial and claims that he doesnt have the illness...yet he wants us to start over. i love him dearly but i dont want to go through the same free now...divorce final. im cofused and dont know what to do. we have 2 kids together ages 8 and 13.

i understand ur grief totally. it seems like my "EX" would have done everything in his power to save our marriage. he left after i filed and did not say a word...we never discussed anything during our divorce or separation. before the diagnosis, i was convinced that he never loved me because if he did he would make the necessary changes to help our marriage survive.  but he didnt know what was wrong with him either. now that he wants to start over im not sure that i have the patience to work with him on anything.

Well, well, I am the one

Well, well, I am the one diagnosed with ADHD, but 5 out of six apply to my marriage except number 5! Weird! I am the one who felt like chopped liver (we're separated now) and felt like i had another child, but he's the one who felt like i nagged, couldn't change behaviors, or "try harder". When he said he was trying harder there was no visible change. He always left tasks undone or incomplete. Now i am a little confused. Help please..

I firmly believe that love is

I firmly believe that love is just a conscious choice for the mind to lead the heart. If you can become infatuated, you can love (barring some major psychology change or other bizarre event). Infatuation wears off after two years (on average- 5 love languages). I suspect this is very difficult for people with ADHD, and even harder on their spouse because of their reaction (withdrawal). I think MANY people with ADHD have become very habituated to using withdrawal as a mechanism to escape their problems. The world does not understand them; they must suffer everyday from confusion, guilt and shame. After a while of relationships, jobs, etc falling apart, I think they give up hope, move on to the next one, and chalk it up to either incompatibility or the other person's fault.

Cried too

I actually sobed...someone finally got what im dealing with. Now i can help hubby and me.

sapphyre's picture

4 1/2 out of 6 for us :)

1.      There is a seriously unbalanced distribution of responsibility in your household.  I work and run him and the kids around (he has an anxiety disorder too, and other health issues), but neither of us does more than the bare minimum in housework. 1 point.

2.      You hate to nag or be nagged, but it happens all the time.  I found out nagging isn't an effective communications technique in my first long term relationship (I call that relationship practice for marriage :P) 0 points.

3.      You were the sun, moon and stars during courtship.  Now you feel like chopped liver.  I was complimented more times the night I met my hubby than I'd ever been in my entire life beforehand LOL... however, he still is crazy about me and lets me know all the time... guess I'm one of the lucky ones! 1/2 point.

4.      No matter how hard you try, things never seem to change - except for the worse.  1 point (until ADHD diagnosed), mind you not much progress.

5.      You have a child diagnosed with, or suspected of having, ADHD.  Yep, 1 point.

6.      One spouse feels as if the other is more like an extra child than a partner.  Yep, 1 point.

To2save's picture

6 out of 6 for us..

... and I am the partner with ADD. I was just diagnosed and only started on Meds this Tuesday. I'm really scared that my Husband has completely given up on the marriage - and a large part of me doesn't blame him. Yet, it is frustrating, too, because I didn't know. I am reading and seeing myself on nearly every page of the books that were recommended to me.

I know the destruction this has had on our relationship and I do not deny I have this and want treatment, therapy, whatever it takes because I love him so much.

He has refused any kind of counseling because we'd had counseling in 2003 with a counselor that only caused more destruction. She took sides and tried to refer my husband to a treatment program for emotionally abusive men. This man isn't emotionally abusive, he was just trying to cope with the chaos.

I hope and pray it isn't too late for us.

Reading part of my story on these comments

Dear all,

Yesterday, I saw a note in a newspaper website regarding Melissa´s findings on ADD and marriage and following the link I appeared here and I have been reading the comments left on several sections since then.

I happened to find that part of my story as a couple with my husband if here. We met almost 9 years ago, dated for less than 1 year and then we moved together; after 4 years and a half of a great life and plenty of plans and dreams, he made me the marriage proposal and we get married. 3 months after the wedding, his started to be on "his world", reacting with anger after any comment, and leaving me each second more lonely than the one before. He had never been "that man" in the five years we stayed together before, and I started to think that he was acting that way because he stopped loving me, but I could not understand why after only 3 months of the most beautiful day in our lives.

At that time he started an individual therapy that still maintains but I really feel that has not been of help: for example, ADD has never been a word mentioned. We tried a marriage therapy early in the beginings that was not of help and another one 1 year ago that was more "questioning" but he was unable to maintain and give up. We tried several things, even travelling to Europe to "finding one with each other" but when we came back, now 1 month ago, he expressed that ending the marriage was the decision he wanted to take and we are now 1 month separated.

I can not say he did not try, but I have been always thinking that he should have tried harder (reading these comments I am finding that may be there is a cause for the "why" he couldn´t meet my expectations about "harder").  I always thought about his lack of commitment and thinking that may be he was "looking forward to understanding" what marriage is, and those things; always complaining about his lack of commitment, his distraction with the facebook, playstation, forums, complaining why their friends were most important than me (because it was obvious that in his relationship with them he was always proactive, funny or good-humored and not with me), complaining why everything was left "half-done" and a lot of things more. In contrast, he has never got distracted from his work and he is brilliant at that point (although he forgets to do some things or he leaves things to do in the last minute, but not in terms of un-care or irresponsibility).

I have joked with him in some opportunities saying him that he had a "ADD" (and being totally ignorant of the extent of this condition; please understand me) because of those moments when he forgot something we had to do, or something we had talked or any other thing. In other occasions I thought he was depressed due to his lack of willing to do things, but he never took my comments seriously, meaning: accepting to do something with them.

I really do not know if there is any chance now, I am worried about him and I mentioned this to him and suggested him to look for a psychiatric assessment or to change his therapy without success; I am worried because I noticed him depressed but to be honest, I do not feel hope since he only thinks that he did things wrong and that after 3 years, there is no chance to recover our relationship, even feeling sorry about me.

Nevertheless, I have found a possible answer to my "why", an answer that I have not consider before and, alone or together, might be of help for him... because I can not forget how much I loved or how much I still love him.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences, at least for me have been of great help.



shame, loss of confidence, fear to hope

I am an active dad of 3, and a willing husband.  After reading this post and the responses, I fear that I have ADHD.  Currently I'm seeking a therapist to talk about my experiences.  My marriage is on the ropes with my wife and best friend of 16 years claiming she no longer is in love with me and wants a divorce because of my lack of being the rock that she so desperately needs.  I've been in and out of jobs, inconsistent, and unreliable, irresponsible in her eyes and childish.  So many people around me say that I'm so talented, eloquent, well spoken, high potential, and bound for success, but inside I feel at any moment they'll know the true me, basically that I'm a fraud.  My wife told me that she wants to be with an adult not take care of another child.  She tells me that she can't trust me to do anything, and that she doesn't trust my judgement.  All the while this has happened, I took all those criticisms and have felt deeply ashamed, loss of dignity, hopelessly trying to make her happy, but continuing to fail, and be in despair.   With this new information, I don't expect my wife to come back to me or our marriage to be repairable but it has given me hope, in knowing that I might have a chance at my own dignity and confidence back.  I love my wife deeply, and wish for her happiness.  It makes me sad.  Knowing now that it is hereditary, I hope to make it easier for my children if they were diagnosed to be able to manage it with awareness and success.  With so many people on this web site, and so much hurt and pain resulting from this illness, I understand and can validate all those feelings both in the spouse and the ADHD spouse.  It stills comes down to choice and level of commitment.  I understand that a relationship must heal, but only if each person in the relationship heal first, come to terms with it and either decide to commit or to part ways.  I must take care of this, address it, and take action to make me the best me that I can be, managing all my gifts.  I truly hope that my wife can join me in that journey again, but for now, I'm grateful that I found this website.  It gives me hope.  

hockeymom11's picture


I think you have taken the first step, by admitting that you need and want help.  So many of us with ADD spouses LONG for the day that they step forward and take responsibility.  This is so important and the fact that you've written the above blog is proof that you want to make a change.  They always tell us Non-ADDrs that we can only fix ourselves, so it's true for you ADDrs too. You can only fix yourself and you've taken a huge step in the right direction.  I hope others with ADD will read your post and follow your example of strength and courage.  Good luck, stay strong. 


I think many people with ADHD have some of these same qualities. My wife is an amazing writer and well spoken. Witty, fun, outgoing. Our son is well above average in verbal skills for a 3.5 year old. Since he was two he used almost perfect English! And everyone says he and his brother are adorable and smart. When he gives you a compliment it will melt your heart! My wife was the same way… Was. That was before she struggled with a husband that didn’t understand her and/or the “love” (infatuation/puppy love) wore off.  Hence the present day. I am glad you have hope. I need it, because my wife is where you are at, probably only worse.

Question please

Hi, I am so sorry things have been hard for you. I wanted to ask you a question since you have been the one diagnosed.I think my husband has ADD. what would you recommend to get him to a Pychologist ? When I ask him to go or speak about ADD he gets defensive. I have taken him to one in the past who diagnosed him but my husband says this is incorrect. I love him dearly and have my own issues but he hasn't had a job only some freelance since before we were married which is over 3.5yrs. He hasn't moved forward on a lot of important issues in our lives and it is beyond frustrating and as been a factor n leading to my own health going downhill. I want to move forward and I think if he sees someone else for diagnosis they can help us with stratagies to move forward. HOW DO I GET HIM THERE THOUGH?!!! I thought you may be able to give me some tips? I also want to say Good on you for doing everything you can to improve your life and your marriage ! Your husband will see the change. Communicate to him you are doing it for you both. That has gotta help him see how much you love him! I pray you guys work it out too. We have come close to divorce ourselves.

Is there still hope?

My spouse and I have been going to a therapist for quite some time, but it was only recently that our therapist made the suggestion that ADHD may be playing a major role in our marital problems.  She (our therapist) suggested that I search for a book about ADHD and marriage.  I stumbled upon "Married to Distraction" in the book store and found relationship in this book.  I saw Dr. and Mrs. Hallowell on Dr.Phil, started reading this website, and now I can't stop crying.  The book offers such hope...I just don't know if it's too late for us.  My spouse and I were so much in love, in the beginning, that people could feel it 20 ft away.  Now our sex life is nonexistent, our intimacy seems forced, and just recently, hearing "I love you" is a rarity.  I get such mixed signals.  I feel the effort we're both making sometimes.  I think things are going well, but then I get the cold shoulder.  I feel like an afterthought to all the friends, the hobbies, etc.  I know that there is "love", just not sure if there is "in love" on the other's part.  Is life with someone who has ADHD always going to be like a constant rollercoaster of emotions?  We've been together for 5 years, married for close to 3 years.  I've never dealt with this type of relationship but I feel like I'm losing my spouse already.  Are the following also characteristics of people with ADHD: 1. a new interest/hobby every so often (almost seasonal) that eventually takes up all his/her free time  2.  a new friendship (again almost seasonal) where the other is placed on a pedestal and whatever the friend needs becomes priority.  I have so many questions but I'll start off with those.  Thank you for your time.

Nettie's picture

Double Yes

Seeking the new (search "crafting") and hyperfocusing are common traits of people with ADHD.

I haven't yet read Dr. Hallowell's latest book; however, I looked at it at the bookstore, and I believe the topic is expanded to reach a larger population than ADHD couples. I suggest reading his earlier books and those by other authors on ADHD.

Thank you...I'm still learning.

Thank you so much Nettie...I continue to read his current book but already plan to pick up "Delivered from Distraction" as soon as I'm done.  I just hope that I can convince my partner to follow through on reading at least one of these books, because I think it will help our current situation.  I find that my spouse is more inclined to read magazines and websites than that fitting of people with ADHD?  Thanks so much for your response.

Reading mags and sites instead of books is more fitting

Yes, Reading mags and websites is more fitting.. I have ADHD bad and can tell you I couldn't read more than the first paragraph of a book... read it 3 times.. still diddn't know what it said and threw it down.. Took 3 years on meds for me to even pick up a book... Now I read.. Hyperfocused at times unfortunately but has to be something I WANT to read.. Mags and sites are quick bursts of info so we can process and not feel overwhelmed.. Quick and to the point works better and we can search what we want to know more about..

Hope this helps!


did i make a mistake?

Hmmm... did i make a mistake? My wife either reads a page and throws a book down or becomes hyperfocused and reads the whole thing. She will take two days off work and read an entire harry potter novel. She won't crack the bible. Or a book about ADHD, apparently. Because her grandma gave her "ADHD effects on marriage", and she never read it. I recently gave it to her again, trying to instill some hope, but will she take it the wrong way? I know the first day she didn't read it. It was an epiphany for me! What would get her to educate herself about the topic? I think she is avoiding it because it hurts, or she is in denial, or thinks she can manage on her own (we can't). Doesn't she understand that if she tweaks her meds and takes behavior therapy with me, that this could change her life? We've married almost 4 years, she never talks about ADHD.


I just noticed ur post and identify with so much of what u r saying and feeling. We are newlyweds 4.5 years and 4 of those years have been in and out of counseling, ministers, marriage fitness and we have a meeting with her psychiatrist on Wednesday and hopefully she will show up. I read the book and gave a copy to my adhd wife to read and she has yet to open it. Not sure whether our meeting this week is validation to finalize my loss and I really know that or what? I did not know the word untill 6 months ago and when I discovered this site I saw my life and my marriage down to every last detail.

I remember the days people felt our love from 20 feet, maybe even a mile away, people wanted what we lasted 6 months after the wedding. She has missed the last four years of our marriage completely. We learned the latest relationship habits as well as re-building and re-establishing our former connection. She shows no interest and when I try to connect she has something more important or is too busy to accept my calls and or requests. Yes, I relate to the new interests that lay unfulfilled and her relationships that are on fire and then end abruptly without is how u describe on the pedestal. A very sad state of lonliness and if you noticed a few of my prior posts.....I am the one who just had cancer surgery and she was no where to be found and during my recovery had it not been for my church family bringing me meals and helping me...........I would have been totally alone. Logically, I thought that would have been a great time for her to step up to the plate and instead with adhd, she ignored me because it interfered with her need to feel busy doing "important things." I feel for you, in fact her entire family history is right there for me and I have witnessed it all, from mania to depression to shock treatments to my 80 year old father in law running away with a younger woman and feeling absolutely no remorse. His wife said to me he had ignored her for 20 years prior to his latest affair. My wife has all of this history and actions to be educated (in my mind only of course) and it does not seem to have an impact on her behavior. good luck to you!.....and once again, this site has helped me understand what I really am facing......

Still clinging to hope...

Sandune, thank you so much for your heartfelt response.  We too, have been in therapy for years...things seem so good for awhile, I can see both of us trying, but then it gets bumpy again.  The connection between my spouse and I seems to be in a constant inconsistent state, forgive the oxymoron, but it's true.  Things are great but then, with each newfound interest, I feel more like an unimportant afterthought.  With each newfound friend, I feel my insecurities grow and my jealousy intensify.  It is all detrimental to the strength of our marriage.  I am starting to understand more with the help of this book and with this website.  I hope that my partner will take the effort to read the book at least, and now I can adjust my way of looking at things too.  Another thing you mentioned that rang true was that I also see the history in my spouse's life as having huge effects on things now.  I just pray that history will not repeat oneself and I hope that there is still fight left in both of us to make this work.  I'm so sorry that your wife was not able to be there for you during your recovery by the way.  I do hope that you feel better soon.  Thank you again for your candor.

Nettie's picture

Family Environment

Sandune, I feel your pain, I really do. Concerning your spouse, it must be exponentially harder for someone with ADHD raised by ADHD (or other condition) family. I was adopted by an uber-organized parent, so I have some skills tucked somewhere under the fog.

You can't make someone read something (although DH probably feels that's what got him to read the book that magically appeared in his backpack every day), so it may take a lot of personal pain to wake someone up on their own.

Also, Trix, yes, I love magazines, short web items, and postcards, but I can also lose myself in a book or discipline myself to read less exciting material by breaking it into short spells. ADHD doesn't always exhibit in the same way.

Hope is was too late.

Thank you so much for your advice Nettie.  Unfortunately, as of today, my suspicions were spouse, basically said that "she couldn't do it anymore".  I have lost her.  I tried to talk to her about the book, the blog, the revelation but she gave up on "us" over a month ago.  I'm completely devastated...I've lost everything in one big brush off.  She says that I'm her best friend but I know that that's untrue because she has been hyperfocused on a sick friend and doesn't know what's been going on in my life lately.  Thank you though...for a brief second I had some hope, but it is as you said, "you can't make someone read something" or fight for a relationship.  I wish all those, who have significant others with ADHD, the best of luck and I hope that they are able to discover its' contribution to a relationship so they can fix things before it is too late.  I love my wife with all my heart, but apparently, it was too late for us.

too late

As a non swept up into hyperfocus courtship and later marriage.............I relate so much to your post. I tried for 4 years now. It is mind boggling! My wife hyperfocus's on everything but our marriage and does not understand my concerns. I have tried counseling 3 times and failed each time. Books, self help, taking responsibility, etc. just don't work. She runs away from dealing with her own issues and it took me a long time to see that our marriage is just another situation to run from.

I wish I could say hang in there.........but I can't. Contributing to a relationship is not in their process. Don't take it personal as I use to, thinking there was something else I needed to be doing, doing differently, etc. I hope you do not have children living at home. 

I have been literally ignored for 4 years now and she has completely missed 4 years of our marriage. She too, never asks me about me or what is going on in my world.  I learned to not take it personally, difficult but necessary. I have now moved from disappointment to sadness and have now let her go in my mind. I loved this woman more than anything and the hurt has been so devastating to me. Yes, it is too late for us....................and the sad part is she doesn't realize it yet or even understand why I left 7 months ago.

Nettie's picture


Recall the movie "Speed." You are desperately trying to do one thing or catastrophe will happen. While you are making split-second decisions on what exit to take from an ending highway, you are asked to help someone at the back of the bus. You can't do it. You may either lose attention and crash the bus or help that person as the bus explodes. Seemingly a no-win situation.

The ADHDer may need YOU to figure out the challenge at the back of the bus and then help them ease off the gas, realizing the bus may not actually explode.

A ramble

Thanks to everyone for your contributions. Helps a lot.

I have the same sad story as many spouses here. My partner is long gone, though, and I'm still looking for answers.

The hardest part for me is that I stupidly thought the hyperfocus was love. I had never had that kind of attention before and it was, so far, the highlight of my life. And then he was gone. And I wonder if any of it was "real" to begin with. I still want to be as wonderful as he told me I was. It's still hard to accept that it was never me, but rather I was just something shiny and new. The heights of the courtship are still wonderful memories but blunted by the fact that he doesn't even speak to me now, that he has a new partner and that apparently, everything was my fault. I'm the one with healthy friendships of twenty years and more, with a therapist, with steady gainful employment, with clean laundry, with no criminal record but I bore the brunt of the blame and because I wanted to enjoy more happy times, I accepted the blame, both for the downfall and for fixing everything. And he just spaced out and then faded away. I appreciate that I may have dodged a bullet, especially as he has a family history of mental illness (not including ADD, which I acknowledge is not a mental illness. There is something of an epidemic of bipolar depression, alchoholism and suicide in his immediate family, though) and if we had been further involved legally, it would have been difficult to disentangle ourselves. I'm rambling here but I just need to say this, mostly for myself.

I loved that man with every muscle and fiber of my being. I thought he hung the moon. I thought he was the most clever, funny, handsome thing I'd ever seen. And he loved me, too. And I I was so happy. So ecstatically happy and I felt so safe and secure and cherished, things I'd never felt before, things I never expected to feel. And we made plans for a happy life together. He was my best friend and I treasured him. I'm proud of myself that I can love so well, with such devotion, and I try to have no regrets, but it's hard to have faith in the very concept when something so lovely and rare turns so ugly and unkind. I can report about a dozen ways in which I apparently failed, but he's always lily white and just moves right along. It's hard not to feel ridiculous, stupid, used. In every way, he's cut me off and I accept that it's just as well, but I cannot conceive how I came to be the party at fault.

I'm pretty certain I did absolutely everything I could. I read every book, I tried every technique, I accomodated, I set boundaries, I pushed back, I made room, I forgave, I compromised, I loved anyway. At the end of it, I am still mystified. And angry. With him, yes, but with the ADD that addles his brain and behavior. I suspect he wants more for himself, too but I know he does the best he can. He's not malicious. It's still sad for me to imagine a future without him in it. It may ultimately be more stable, but it will also lack his laughter. It's hard to believe I couldn't do anything. It's hard to believe he's gone. It's hard to learn to live with something I don't understand.


to arabella

I have and am walking in ur shoes for the last 4.5 years, as our courtship was the most wonderful time of my life and ended abruptly. I have gone thru the grieving and mourning period, for so long I tried everything to get her back.........she was and is gone. Keep your faith, work on you, take care of yourself, I have gone in and out of depression from emotional exhaustion from trying to find out what really was going on.

I just wanted to be loved and love back in the same way I was treated in her hyperfocus will not happen. Her diagnosis went from adhd to bipolar is genetic, 2 generations that I know of now had it and refused acceptance, treatment and counseling until they finally their were institutionalized. 

If they would only accept and take responsibility for their diagnosis!


Thanks for your reply

Thanks for your reply Sandune. I appreciate your thoughts.

Looking back, I feel like I should have known better, that it was so obviously too good to be true. I'm moving on and putting myself back together, trying to stay compassionate and forgiving and keeping in mind that it's likely hard for him, too but perhaps in different ways.

I wish him all the best, I really do. I completely internalized all the blame and believed it. I have to work my way back from thinking I'm somehow a terrible incompetent inconsiderate wretch. I also still miss him every day. But I'm not really sure what was him as a personality and an individual and what was the ADD.

I wish I understood. I wish it didn't hurt so much to be adored and then abandoned. I wish he was who I thought he was. I wish I'd never met him. It has been both the zenith and the nadir of my life so far. It's comforting to know I have great capacity to love and unnerving to realize that I can be so easily manipulated. The two of us together were something of a perfect storm.

This morning I offered a seat to a woman with a small child on the subway. None of the other passengers did. I thought "How can I be such an awful person if I make every effort to be thoughtful and considerate?" I feel like I have a long way to go to come back from this, to feel ok again, to be willing to open my heart, to trust my own judgement again.

I am glad that I'm not alone in this, and I thank you each for your courage.

You're not alone. I understand your pain.

To sandune and Arabella, I totally understand your pain.  It has only been 2 weeks since my wife decided to walk away.  Days after she said that she'd given up, she then mentioned that she had developed feelings for someone else.  Now I'm even more devastated, as if losing her weren't enough to shatter me.  I still find myself with so many questions, drawn to this website for some answers.  I agree with our romance having been "both the zenith and the nadir of my life"...everybody says she'll regret losing me and will return, but I'm not holding my breath.  My biggest question: was any of it real or all just hyperfocus?  Oddly, she still cries about her decision to end our relationship but she's got her focus on a sick friend...and now a new love interest!  So why the tears?  I sometimes wonder if we could've fixed our relationship if we had known about ADHD's contribution...but I'll never know.  I too, wish she'd recognize her diagnosis...but she's not willing to try to understand.  Now, do to this devastating loss, I'm suffering from emotional exhaustion, depression, and anxiety.  Why couldn't we have been one of the lucky ones to make it?

The Perfect Storm is so comforting to see so many identical situations out there. My healing process gets better each and every day. I had to reflect just a moment on your comment "the two of us were something of a perfect storm". I recall those days, the energy we had was so intoxicating...........people felt it from all over the fact, they would come up to us and tell us how wonderful we were together and how magical it all was as they observed us. Yes, it was magical, and now I understand it was not real.....I thought it was, couldn't get enough of it and was so devastated when her hyperfocus ended. Now that I can "believe" it was not real I can move forward. I invested so much into her "fantasy world".

lovely to ugly

Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt thoughts about your relationship and your sadness. If it helps you to think about this, statistically it's likely that something besides just ADHD was going on with your husband. You know inside (and we'll repeat it to you!) that everything was NOT your fault. Did you contribute? It would be hard not to contribute something to your issues as a couple unless you were dead, so of course you contributed something. But you were also clearly a very stabilizing influence on this person who didn't have his act together (and still doesn't it sounds like.) The hyperfocus stage of a relationship is "real" in that you both experience it and treasure it while it is happening, and the emptiness you feel when it goes away is just as real. The only thing that isn't "real" about it is that you don't understand the underlying causes while it is happening - that there is more brain chemistry than you realized. But, then again, you also have unusual brain chemistry during this period (lots of extra dopamine that normally isn't there) so you can't "blame" the ADHD spouse for the hyperfocus period - you both were experiencing, and enjoying, chemical changes. Perhaps thinking of it that way will help you feel less "duped." (For more info on brain chemistry and romance, if this is a topic that interests you, see Helen Fisher's Why We Love.) My personal opinion is that it is better to have loved with every fiber of your being than to never have loved so well. You can live a "vanilla" life, or you can live one that's more interesting. For better or worse, "more interesting" (or more rewarding) always equals "more risky" - just like in the financial markets. But that doesn't change my feelings that we can all "dare to be remarkable." You had a remarkable period in your life. Your mistake wasn't loving too well, it was not sticking up for yourself sooner when things started to go bad. It's a really common mistake to make - "if I can just 'give' a bit (and then a bit more) then things will "go away" or "get better." But that doesn't address the real issue, which is (in this case) his symptoms (ADHD and perhaps other symptoms). So the symptoms continue, and you are on the road to ...well, where you are. Try not to beat yourself up or feel ridiculous. What's ridiculous about giving your all to something worthwhile (love)? And you can only be "used" if it's premeditated on his part, which I can assure you it wasn't. Did he behave badly? Yes. Are you right to be angry? Sure! His inability to deal with his issues has changed your life for the worse. Who wouldn't be angry? Time, and a search for understanding and acceptance that you did your best will heal some of this. Yes, you can be sad that you didn't know more about it as you were going through it. I remain sad to this day that my husband and I "wasted" 10 years of our lives fighting and being unhappy while we were trying to deal with his ADHD but didn't know it. But I accept it, and have moved on to a better place, and hopefully you will be able to, as well.
aking2's picture

Lost too!

I never knew about ADD until after my divorce and got the diagnosis 5 months late.  I am reading these posts by both wives and husbands and just want to cry.  We left each other after 28 years of marriage.  I think she thought that the idea of a divorce would shock me into better behaviour, but all it did was make me believe that she really wanted me to provide her with an excuse to leave me.  So I just gave up and believed that she really had finally had enough of me.  The marriage counselor was useless because we did not even know about my ADD and so I felt that they were ganging up on me and I got defensive and hurt by their behaviour towards me in session.

One year later I am so depressed that I can barely guilt myself out of bed by noon most days.  I interviewed a therapist and begin next week with both therapy and neurofeedback.  I hope that I am not being unrealistic about the outcome.  I lost everything, I don't have any friends (they were friends through her line of work, law enforcement), her family will not even respond to a Facebook inquiry much less call or text me, and our daughter has a new family and babies so I don't get much opportunity to interact with her. 

I guess what I am trying to offer is to anyone about to end up like me, take your ADD diagnosis seriously because the people around you see the world and your actions completely different than you do!  I wish I had seen this site a couple of years ago, maybe it might have made the difference.

To2save's picture

Both are common..

Both numbers 1 and 2 are common. I read Married to Distraction, I'm part way through Delivered from Distraction, and am about done with Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? The last is written specifically for the spouse of a person that has ADD by a therapist that runs a support group for the spouse that doesn't have ADD.

It has been hard for me to read, but I am glad I have. I needed to see in black and white what my husband has dealt with.

I've been crying, too, while I read here. Most of my tears are because I am afraid my diagnosis may be too late to save our marriage.

New Member

Well, after I stopped crying I felt that I needed to make a quick post.  I found this site about 3 hours ago.  There are people that understand what I'm going through!!! Halleluliah.  My husband has just been diagnosed recently with ADHD.  I had the "aha" moment so many times tonight.  It was like some of you got inside my head and wrote down what I was thinking.  I will post more after I've had time to process some of this information.  It's very overwhelming for me.  I'm like another person stated, all of them except for 5 because we don't have children.  I'm scared, feel very alone and don't want my marriage to end.  Thank you all so much for being here.  For the first time in five years I feel like there might be hope.  You have no idea how grateful I am to all of you!


Welcome to the site, and thank you for your post.  Having people realize there is a resource here for them is why we started this site in the first place.  If your husband was just recently diagnosed, then he (and you) are in a period of adjustment right now.  Frequently, people get their hopes up immediately after diagnosis, but then are disappointed when they realize that it takes time to "turn the Titanic" around.  Your relationship, and your spouse, have a lot of momentum (in a negative direction).  He surely has some ineffective coping strategies in place that he will need to change (such as retreating from conflict or denying that ADHD is an issue), and once he gets relief from some of the ADHD symptoms, he will then still need to create NEW structures that will make his life - and yours - smoother.  It takes time to make these adjustments, but the results are really, really worth it.

One way to start to overcome being scared is to learn all you can about ADHD.  Get a good sampling of resources - Delivered from Distraction is great, so is "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy? as you both start to look for tactics to manage ADHD"  In addition, if you find that you are angry much of the time at your husband, then "The Dance of Anger" is a great resource.  My "favorite posts" area provides solid information, and you can get the support from many of our active forum readers/posters.

Best of luck as you start to move through this!

long time partner but still undiagnosed

I have been reading that some of you have been married only a few years and have recently gotten a diagnosis for your partner.  This can be a huge blessing.  I have been married 31 years and have struggled off and on to get my partner to a situation where a diagnosis might be possible.    I have been in couples counseling alone and to my partner's doctor and my doctor, all of whom agree my husband does have ADD.   I desperately want my marriage to be more rewarding for both of us and I know it is possible, but only if we know what we have to work wiith and are willing to make the effort, both of us.....  If you have gotten a diagnosis, you can do it, you at least have the situation defined in some sort of way and have a few parameters.   Have courage, you have taken the first step and you are young in your relationship.   Blessings from someone who longs for the diagnosis so a plan can be implemented.  


Tips please?

May I ask How did you get him to a Dr for diagnosis. I think my hubby has it. He was diagnosed by one but hubby said he was wrong! I think it is a contributing factor to things in our lives like him not having a fulltime job since we have been married , over 3.5yrs. he is intelligent so it baffles me ! He gets defensive when I say I think he has ADHD and has said that his friends think its rediculous but they do not live with him. Any tips on getting him to a DR ? I was going to bring it up in our marriage counselling that he is obviously having problems finding work and completing other important things in our lives and needs someone to help him through and I would like him to go see someone. My phyc said the other day " I dont know how much more work I can do with you until your husband deals with his issues". I do love him dearly but I get so angry and frustrated !

Is it possible?

I am dating a man with ADHD who is wonderful. However he's been married twice and has cheated. He says he has learned from his mistakes and wants to be with one person forever. Is this possible for him? Another question is does it always get that bad after the hyperfocus ends? If they are focused on you at the time can they still be attentive after the hyperfocus wears off?

I Wouldn't Hold Your Breath...

ADD/HD or not...looking at his past track record, I would definitely be a little skeptical there.  I'm sure that he has told his past 2 wives the same thing that he's telling you, or they wouldn't have married him either.  But then, anything is possible.  Coupled with his past marital history, and ADHD...I would suggest that you read more posts on here.  At least you're getting informed of what you're getting involved in early in the game.  Strap yourself in though sister, because you're definitely headed for the ride of your life!  :)

Is there hope?

Please be specific about the roller coaster ride!!

try again?

I would advise you to go slowly with this one, simply based upon his track record. Stay together for as long as it makes sense, but don't entangle yourself contractually through marriage until after the hyperfocus period is over and you can see what you really are dealing with. If you do decide to get married, have a clearly spelled out pre-nup that deals with what happens in the event of divorce, particularly on the financial side of things. He may feel as if he's learned from his mistakes - and it's great news if he has - but he didn't learn from the mistakes in marriage #1 in time to save marriage #2, which would give me pause to feel that "this time" he might have it right. And if he tells you that one or both of the divorces weren't "his fault" be skeptical. Generally speaking, people who get divorced have a bad sense of their role in the problems, and this seems to hold particularly true with folks with ADHD, who often aren't very good self observers (this has been researched - not just my opinion). You might also make yourself a partner wish list. If you could have any/all characteristics in a partner - what would they be? I'm guessing divorced twice and an adulterer wouldn't make it to your list. Which means he may be nice to you, but you may also be deceiving yourself in terms of how "wonderful" he really is. What characteristics do you really, really want in a partner, and how many of them does he actually possess?

try again?


 Thank you for your feedback. When we first started seeing each other he told me about his adhd and his past. He owns up to being a jerk in his first marriage but says he married her for the wrong reasons and the second one which was short was for the wrong reason also. We have so very much in common but enough different to where we compliment each other so I can see how we can work. He is absolutely wonderful and everyone around him thinks the same. I've seen the hyperfocus happen to an extent where everything happened really fast and he's told me amazing things and it's great when we're together but then I won't hear from him in days and he makes plans and doesn't follow through. He sometimes tells me he misses me and loves me then he will go for a while and not tell me. So I'm confused about the hyperfocus thing. One more thing he definitely owns up to his adhd and his past mistakes and told me he's glad we didn't meet earlier in life because it wouldn't have worked with him because of his "wilder" past. He wants to be with one person the rest of his life and has rededicated his life to Christ. He comes from a great family and is a faithful church attender. My question is that is he capable of having a healthy relationship and is he really hyperfousing? Please respond

JDC, none of us know him personally

so there is no way for us to say if *he* is capable of having a healthy relationship, but if you are asking if ADD automatically makes it impossible for a person to have a healthy relationship--the answer is a resounding NO.  I'm in a very happy marriage with a man who wasn't diagnosed with ADD until he was 35 and we had been married about 5-6 years.  Yeah we had a rough year mostly with frustration as to why he wasn't following through on things he said he would take care of, which is what led us to the diagnosis, and the following year (after a period of excitement that we knew what was *wrong*) had its rough moments too as he grieved having ADD and remained stuck in hope that meds were going to be all he needed.  Once he accepted he needed coaching until he learned the tools to cope with his life and accomplish all the things non ADD people accomplish, we've had a much smoother ride.  Which is not to say that irritations and frustrations don't rear their ugly heads.  We have arguments just like all couples do, but ours tend to be based around inattentiveness.  At least with a diagnosis, I don't take it as personally as most women I know :)


I asked him how long his hyperfocus on the relationship lasted, and he said it's really hard to know since we had no idea of ADD at that time.  He's guessing several years from before we started dating through our first years.  He originally told me he didn't think I was capable of making him angry since we'd known eachother & been good friends for about 3 years before we dated.  I asked him today when it was that I finally made him mad (he not teasingly tells me that I took his statement as a CHALLENGE :), since that is probably when he started seeing the relationship more realistically, he's pretty sure it took more than a  year after our marriage.

If you are counting how long the blissful honeymoon phase lasted, I'd say easily our year of dating, and first several years of marriage, but as I recall we had a big (ADD behavior related in retrospect) issue with him not following through on something important at about 3 months married.  I don't know how to identify hyperfocus, but I guess what you could use to gauge it is when he puts a reasonable amount of time into you & your relationship but is also balancing other interests, hobbies, and relationships with friends at the same time.  Since it's hard for an ADD person to balance sometimes it is in this integration that the conflict comes up.  I remember being married about 6-8 months and waking up in bed alone to find out that the man that was going to follow me "in a minute" was still up at 2am playing video games!   After a couple weeks of this (he was deep in a new video game hyperfocus) he balanced back out, but I was hurt, offended, and very tempted to throw all the video games out of the house.


To this day, I'd say I feel I have all his attention a lot of the time.  It isn't hyperfocus at this point, since he is keeping a lot of balls in the air and he can't be unnaturally interested in every going on with me but he is still INTERESTED in the goings on with me.  Just last night he, of his own volition, asked for a list of authors/books I've been wanting and took it to the used book store that I was supposed to get to visit but couldn't, and came home with 5 new books for me to take on vacation.   The interest shouldn't go away, but the unnatural focus on you as the whole center of his universe can and should go away.  It is very similar to that *honeymoon phase* all couples experience, but I will say that ADD people are VERY GOOD at it because their focus can be so complete.


No idea if any of that is helpful or not, but I hope so!   ADD men can be a very good bet in marriage, it is hard to say if yours is or not because of a bad track record.   Definitely give it enough time (your it all went so fast comment is a red flag to me) to be sure it is real, but ADD itself is no reason on it's own to opt out of a relationship.

Thank you Aspen

Thank you so much for your comments. It's good to hear a positive story about an adhd relationship! He does tell me I'll call you back in five minutes and never does until days later. He does have alot of things going on at one time so he's definitely distracted easily. I know he is a good man and tries his best. I think I will just give it time and see what happens. It just scares me about when the hyperfocus ends. I'm not sure how intense his hyperfocus is though because I don't talk to him everyday and only see him once or twice a week at this point. Yes you did help. Thank you. If you have any more comments feel free!! 

Holistic ADHD

A holistic approach to medicine is used more and more by doctors these days. Do we really understand the physical, mental and spiritual connection in illnesses? I am often put in situations where I am forced to experience and understand these connections. I wonder why, since I am not a doctor. Although my astrology says that is my greatest strength, as denoted by the Moon, which is sign of healing.


I was born in July, the moon month; on Monday, the moon day, and 12 am, the moon hour. I guess that makes me a natural healer. My experience has evolved around several illnesses, including my own challenges with arthritis, nerve damage from vietnam related illnesses, low blood sugar, and sinuses, all of which I cured or learned to manage. After two years in the hospital, I had rheumatoid arthritis and told I would have live with it. My spiritual belief in nature allowed me to seek the knowledge I needed to cure it.


Denial is like a pain pill that covers up the physical pain, but in this case, it is the emotional pain. It is a spiritual belief that creates the mental perception that prevents one from healing the physical defect. Denial can affect a person’s character and cause a kind person to manipulate facts to hide the illness from themselves and others.


My real challenges have been with my own children and my current experience with step children and family. I was only 16 years old when I intuitively knew and planned on having a child, eventhough I was not married.


We often hear people use genetic illness as an excuse for a condition or illness. However, it is also the best way to learn about holistic medicine. Genes are codes programs into our physical and mental makeup from past incarnations, diet, family, and spiritual history. They are programs similar to computer software, and whatever has been programmed can be reprogrammed.


Drugs and diet also play a role in the health of a child. While cocaine can have the most addictive effect on the brain, deplete the body from lack of nutrition, it can be cleaned out of the body easier. Marijuana which is thought to be the mildest of drugs is a fat solvent and remains in the nervous system longer and can be passed on to generations. It along with high volumes of sugar in the diet may be a leading cause of ADHD. ADHD may also be linked to high levels of free radicals in the blood. Amino acids and other brain nutrients can help to repair the damage along with with controlling and slowing of the breath.


I began a regimen of herbs and vitamins about 6 months prior to my Son’s conception and throughout the pregnancy. Although I didn’t have much experience with brain chemistry. He lived with me about 25% of the year, and the other percent didn’t live in a holistic environment, yet he was influenced more by me. When he had Asthma, I cured it in one summer and it never reoccurred. He eventually became a top honor student and  athlete and grew up to be very successful and spiritual in his world view.


My middle daughter, whose mother was told by more than five doctors that she was infertile, was a miracle birth. I also started a nutrition and diet regimen years before impregnation. She was born by natural delivery, but suffered from genetic illnesses caused by years of poor diet, marijuana, which may have attacked the nervous system can cause ADHD. It was still treatable, but was dependent on her influence. While she lived with me 50% of the time the other 50% was a poor environment, which she was more influenced by. Her ADHD continues to impact her life and is being passed on to my granddaughter, who I can treat only when she is with me or when I send her nutritional supplements. However, I do influence her mental and spiritual outlook, which can eventually heal the physical.


By the time my youngest daughter was conceived, I had a vast knowledge of nutrition, homeopathy, herbalism, midwifery, and genetic illnesses. With the help of five doctors, including a naturopath, pediatrician, homeopath, family practitioner, and an herbalist, I went to work on her genetic codes. To determine the code, we tested everything including blood, hair, urine on a regular schedule and applied mega nutrition to balance out the chemistry and detoxify the blood. As a result, so many new red blood cells were being generated that one doctor became concerned, because she had never before witnessed it, and sent us to a blood specialist. I knew the regimen was working.


We delivered a healthy baby at home, who grew up with a heightened perception, perfect health, and spiritual outlook on life. A child that never had to be disciplined, because she could process information before we could and was so aware of her surroundings that she could intuit lessons from others. She became a top honor student and is now a medical doctor and pediatrician, with plans to be a holistic doctor.


I also gained experience by teaching school to children with ADHD, many who were not diagnosed but were sent to the school because they were too difficult or unruly at other schools. Most of them could not sit still long enough to learn, so the lesson became active and interactive. However, we needed to deal with their diets and the only way to do that was to teach the children how their nutrition affected their behavior. Most of them were influenced and changed their own diets and stopped eating sugar throughout the day, when I related it to not being hip or cool. In less than a year and without drugs, many of them returned to normal public schools and became good students.


Holistic illness can began on the spiritual level and work its way down to the mental and physical. Or it can start at the physical and work its way up to the mental and spiritual. Children who are born with physical dysfunctions like ADHD, can have problems dealing with normal situations in life, because the physical signals in the brain either over react or under react.  It manifests mentally by affecting perceptions, when the brain overcompensates by sending its own signals. This can cause communication conflicts, because the brains signals often don’t reflect reality. It can cause problems in relationships, work and other areas of life. Not only will they have problems seeing how they affect others, but may have difficulty observing themselves and learning from experiences.


The older the person gets, the more experienced they become in using the illness to their advantage or disadvantage. One must fully understand the original physical symptoms to understand how it may have evolved over the years in adults. Especially in Women who harder to diagnose.


If the problem is corrected during early childhood, the person can live a normal life. However, if undetected an adult can grow up with poor mental habits, even if the condition is treated physically. It can be difficult to detect, because the person has mastered the ability to convince themselves and others into believing that what they saw was real.


Remember that the person is not processing information that is grounded in reality and the brain is affecting their hearing and seeing. Once it comes out, they can hyper focus on the thought, making it a reality that is not born out of truth. If they are hyperactive, they never let it go. Many non-ADD partners in marriages often complain of false accusations.  Attention deficient can prevent a ADD person from processing all the information needed to reach a conclusion, and the brain fills in the missing pieces. Remember, they have problems completing any tasks that require long concentration and attention, including perception.   


Allopathic or traditional medicine use drugs to help manage the signals to the brain and calm the person, but is not a  long-term solution. Naturopathic medicine, which specializes in replenishing the nutritionists to the nervous system can restore the brain to its natural state. However, mental treatment is still needed to correct the perceptions and poor thinking habits. A therapists who is not aware of the holistic approach to ADHD cannot understand its impact physically, mentally and spiritually. They can only work on the aspect of the person they are familiar with and may not be effective because they can only diagnose the facts the person lets them know. ADHD patients are very good at hiding facts from themselves and tell stories which they believe are real.


When a person has hyperactive ADD, they often start speaking before they process what is occurring, because the brain is overreacting to a stimulus. When is it is hyperactive it becomes hyper-focused, meaning that once it comes out the mouth, they believe it and cannot go back and see the facts, like reverse meditation. They often cannot remember what happened in the past moment and their attention is only focused on the moment.


Treatment is difficult without a nutritional regimen that restores the brain chemistry, because they may not remember the therapists advise. It’s like trying to fix a car without putting fuel in it. It is also difficult if the therapist does not understand the impact the physical deficiencies  have on the person’s ability to process information.


We you often hear therapists say that if one person in a relationship has ADHD then both have it. Not true. The non-ADHD may have mental symptoms associated with reactions to the ADHD person. They may need help with anger and learning to be more patient and compassionate, but they do not have the physical problems associated with the illness. And their problems may only have started once they got into the relationship. They didn’t grow up with ADHD their entire lives. The therapist has to deal with the non-ADHD partner from the moment they got into the relationship, and address the entire life of the ADHD person – the physical degree of the problem and how it has impacted them mentally.


An ADHD person who is in denial, will tell a therapist that their lives are perfect, accept for the people around them. They are generally oblivious to others and their own experiences in life. They can use attention deficient to ignore responsibility, their behavior, and the consequences it creates in their lives.


Another mental symptom is ADHD patients overrate themselves. If they do 50% of the bills, it is a good job to them. This is a result of the brain trying to compensate for the lack of stimulus and feelings of inadequacy, so it produces thoughts that are not grounded in reality.


The key to holistic medicine is understanding that to every illness in life, there is an equal cure in nature.


I also believe that my higher power puts me in these situations to help myself and others. I have the knowledge at hand, but must learn how to share it. Although my knowledge of health may have benefited others, I have ruined marriages in the process, because not everyone understands why I was so determined to help my children through their health.


None of my children liked taking all the those vitamins I mixed up in a bowl or blender, but two of them intuitively knew it was the right thing and later embraced it, while the one who is still having trouble with her life resented it to this day.


My relationship is the same way. I am probably the only one who is experiencing the problem, because I have to deal with the responsibility it produces. However I am resented for tying to address the problem, because I am not a doctor or therapist. I didn’t understand the degree that it affected adults and have been going through a learning curve, of which I have become angry. I know, I can only help another if I am compassionate and understanding. But first comes the knowledge, then comes the solution. 

Could You Share More...

Of exactly what kind of vitamins and foods to incorporate in one's diet for adult ADHD.  My mother has introduced me into the Macrobiotic world, due to her battle w/colon cancer.  I have been educated more on organic foods, techniques in food preparation, and a more holistic approach on things.  I truly believe it works.  I'm really curious on what type of concoction you have invented.

Brain Nutrients

Vitamins and good diet is important, but you need more Amino Acides that bypass the brain barrier and help create neurotransmitters, which ADD lack. The best source i found is Pain ad Stress Center products at [link removed by admin - invalid & broken link]. It has a product called Brain Link, which includes complex amino acids and a homeopathic neurotransmitter complex. They have them for adults and children, but yu can check with a naturapathic doctor or a physician who specializes in nutrition.

arwen's picture

need to be very cautious with diet and serotonin

The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine are key factors in ADHD brain function.  As far as I've been able to determine, diet doesn't have all that much of an effect on dopamine levels (although lack of exercise does).  Serotonin levels, however, can be affected by diet Therefore, a diet that ensures that adequate building blocks are available for this neurotramitter to be formed is important.

Minerals important in serotonin production are magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and iron.  My husband has mild hypertension and his ADD meds caused mild restless leg syndrom (RLS), so he started taking a small magnesium supplement to help with these disorders, and we discovered as a result that it also seemed to help his ADD.  Vitamin B6 is also important for the formation of serotonin.

HOWEVER, just adding these nutrients to a diet may not help ADD.  That's because the *timing* of the ingestion also matters.  There is a lot of debate on this subject, involving how long these nutrients stay available in the body, and what other nutrients may be competing for the same transport channels in the body.  I've read a great deal on this topic in the scientific publications available on the internet, but there does not seem to be any clearcut medical guidance on when and how it is best to utilize these nutrients to help brain serotonin levels.   Furthermore, one must be very careful in dealing with serotonin, since it is not only active in the brain.  Serotonin also operates in the rest of the body, and has impacts on the immune system, sleep, and blood clotting, among other functions.  (The serotonin in the body cannot cross into the brain, and vice versa.)  If you were to increase these nutrients in your diet to increase your brain serotonin, it would also increase your body serotonin, with potentially significant effects.

In general, I also subscribe to a holistic approach to medicine, but I really feel that brain function is something so critical that it should not be casually experimented with, and this issue is so complicated, that it warrants consultation with an expert (e.g. a licensed dietician) before applying any dietary changes that will impact serotonin levels.


"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Diet and ADHD

Oxygen is also important to the brain maintaining attention span. Oxygen to the brian needs iron and glucose to burn and diet is directly limited to the amount of glucose, especially if one consumes too much sucrose, which imblances the pancreas. Low blood suger has similar sypmtoms as ADD, when a person cannot maintain attention long enough to process information. Eliminating high sugar and other food chemicals from the diet should be the first step in any treatment. Parents don't need a doctor to monitor sugar intake.

People with low blood sugar and ADD tend to crave sugar, because the body wants glucose to sustain oxygen levels.  A diet high in proteins and essential fats are also important. It amazes me when people add drugs to cure a problem on top of poor diets, which over the long term creates many of the health problems we have. Diet is always the foundation to the body chemical balance.

Sugar and salt in large quanities are drugs too.

diet and adhd

go to the resources section of this website (new) and look for the article about treating ADHD with nutrition.  It's a good place to start.

Crying since I found this site

My fiancee was open about his ADHD from the very beginning, including being medicated.  There are things about the way he behaves that I have always known relate to his ADHD (i.e. needing to be compulsively organized in order to not become overwhelmed and function).  After reading much of this site, I am thankful that it's not as "bad" as it could be, that he has, at least, taken some responsibility.  However, what led me to even search out this information is still a complete deterioration of our relationship.  Our fighting has become almost constant, I cry every day and am finding myself questioning how I (a really intelligent, strong woman) became so "lost" in this situation.  I hardly recognize myself any more, and my friends are telling me I seem unhappy.  So, following an instinct, I decided to search out some information and landed here....divine intervention.  I never realized that the ADHD symptoms can interfere in a much more subtle way.  I see myself, him and our relationship in all of these posts.  I am just crying...crying over the sense of relief I have found (that I am not crazy), but also terrified that this is something that will not improve and I will continue sliding into more drama.  I love this guy.  I really do, and I have been banging my head against the wall trying to work with him to make this work.  He manipulates every "discussion" to make me feel like I am the "bad" guy, and it's so subtle, I end up feeling like I have been spun around, not knowing which end is up.  If I point something out to him, I am "hurting him" and "victimizing" him.  While I freely admit my faults in communication, I think I am a very kind and loving person and the last thing I want to to is hurt him.  But I am so increasingly frustrated with this spiral we have gone down. It is the constant "roller coaster" (that many here have described), but it's always blamed on ME.  If I just functioned the way HE wants me to, we'd be fine.  And I have come to believe it.  I have taken on the full responsibility for our issues and now I find this forum and see us in EVERY SINGLE thing others have's textbook...from the amazing "courtship," to the distractions, to me feeling like he pays no attention to me, to him spending hours making promises and lists about all the great things we are going to do (never happen), the obsession with his computer, getting over-involved in new and exciting projects that fizzle out, his need to talk and dominate conversations and be "the expert," his need for "space," odd sleep patterns, the list goes on.....

While I am grateful to have the information, now I also feel an overwhelming sense of discouragement, like this is beyond my scope of what I can deal with, and that I should just get out.  Is there hope?  

Welcome Grateful

Welcome.  You don't mention in your post if your fiance  sees a therapist or coach. I would suggest go that route first.  Most importantly, as so many of us have posted to others who are engaged....WAIT!  Take your time.  Its worth waiting out and making a fully informed decision vs. moving ahead and regretting your marriage.  The road is a tough one.  Find out all you can and get into couples counseling now.  Insist he take responsibility for his behavior and the impact it has on you and your relationship.  It will only get worse when married.  Insist that he see a coach or counselor himself.  You owe it to yourself.

Best wishes

StopInterrupting's picture

Welcome to ADD land

Forgive my biting sarcasm, but after six years of living with and being married to a woman with ADD, it's how I've learned to deal with it.  What you need to be prepared for -if you marry this person - is a lifetime of always having to be the "adult" in your relationship.  For me, that means always being on guard to make sure doors are locked (or even closed after she or her ADD son walk through them), checking stove burners to make sure they are off and not emitting gas, chores are finished (completely).  People with ADD are great at starting things but they rarely finish them.  In my case, I do the "finishing."  They also think they can multi-task as they tend to work on several projects at once (it's more "stimulating") but it's usually me that ends up finishing them.  It's not fair, and a lot of times it's just an excuse for laziness ("I can't help it, I have ADD"), but that's just the way it is.

As for your personal relationship, get ready for weirdness.  My spouse "remembers" me saying things I never said (I'm a lawyer, words are my tools and I remember what I say!), or has no recollection of things she's said.  Be prepared for horrible rages over the stupidest things.  These rages can last for days.  Be ready to turn from being your spouse's "savior" to the lowest scum on Earth during a disagreement.  Be prepared for ad hominen attacks.

My wife knows she has ADD and takes medication for it.  However, she is very defensive about the issue, and seldom takes responsibility for the problems in our marriage her ADD causes.  I love my wife very much, however.  She is the most creative person I've ever known.  She is also loyal, a trait I prize above all others, even love.  To me, loyalty is the most important thing.  So, in the end, the benefits outweigh the costs, but just barely.

Good luck.  Come here often, if for no other reason but to know that you are not alone, you are not "crazy," and it's not your fault.


Welcome to ADD World...

Michael, I just gasped when I read what you wrote about your wife.  She is my husband's twin - lost at birth, no doubt.  My spouse also changes history to support his argument; reminding me of something I "said" but not really.  I used to think I was insane.  Today, we had another inane argument that will (no doubt) last for days.  You're right - it's not fair - it's never fair.  Not in the way I grew up believing fairness should be.  Even on medication, he never takes responsibility for his raging outbursts.  Usually, they are all due to something I said (or he believes I said.)  I love him very much, but he pushes my sanity at times.  Yes, they are amazingly creative, funny, quick-thinking, fast-talking and loyal.  My husband's love for me is never in question, even though his anger can shoot arrows through my psyche.   Thanks for posting.  I have been reading comments for several hours and yours was the most relatable.  Best of luck and I hope to read more from you, Robin.

StopInterrupting's picture

To Robin Tweet

I started to write this long email about what happened after I wrote the post you replied to but couldn't finish so I'll just briefly summarize events.  It's not a "happy ending" story.

Last November my wife tried to kill herself.  This was after she left me (the 1st time).  She left me two other times.  She made a false report of domestic violence to the sheriffs during one of her rages.  Fortunately, the officers did not believe her (I have the official report).  She came back supposedly to try "reconciling" but I found out later she was only buying time, using me to pay her final 2 COBRA insurance payments (the last of which she got refunded to her directly) and other expenses while making plans to go stay at a shelter for "battered women" where she would get "$2,000" of free assistance and medical services from the State of California and the federal government.  She left for a third and final time at the end of December.  At one point she told me she wanted to date me.  She told me I "ha[d] her heart" but she needed to see changes in ME before getting back together; maybe in "6 months" it would work.  In January I got fired from my job of 8 years following an email she sent accusing me of "stalking." 

I am convinced my wife has Borderline Personality Disorder ("BPD"); the " black and white" thinking, the "gaslighting," the name calling, the smear campaigns, it was all there.  But stupid me, I just kept coming  back for more.  I have a new job now and I am slowly but surely getting on with my life.  I can see now how warped this relationship was.  I never thought about me and always focused on how I could make her happy.  I realize now how my career suffered as I focused on my wife's problems.  I was not blameless but I no longer believe that most of the problems in my marriage were caused by me. I also now realize that you can't make someone with BPD happy; love does NOT conquer all.  People with BPD are good liars.  They have learned to manipulate people and distort facts as a way of surviving.  They anticipate being attacked so they provoke you into attacking them thus justifying their own unacceptable behavior.  They anticipate being abandoned so they abandon your first.  You can't change that.  Only they can.  It's sad.  They will never get that the "chaos" they constantly complain about is of their own making.

I read your other posts.  I see you just joined this board and know you are looking for answers.  Sometimes there just AREN'T any.  I wish you the best and will reply to any other emails you send.  Maybe in doing so, something good can happen from this.

Take care.


I would rather deal with ADHD

I would rather deal with ADHD any day of the week than BPD. My suspicion (and our counselor's) is that my step-daughter has BPD. She fits the description to a T. Sad part about it is, there really is no treatment and the prognosis is not favorable. I think her mother has it as well. ADHD can be treated and managed, but as I was reading your two posts above it was clear to me that you're dealing with much more than ADHD. I'm so sorry that it cost you so much emotionally and in many other ways.


I was amazed by your simaliar events in your marriage to mine. It appears that although you have crazy day that you two are working together. In our marriage we have reached the same stage. I dont often find non ADD husbands on this site. It was nice read thoughts from the same prospective. I have encounter many of the same things you describe. Interestingly you mention loyalty. My wife is the same. I also highly value that quality. I think ADD effects women slightly different than men. This creates some different dynamics in the marriage. It seems these waters are rarely sailed and almost never chartered or recorded. Thank you for plotting down a few points on the map of a successful voyage in a sea that is at times turbulent but often boundless in beauty .

I would get out. Sorry.

I hate to say that but if I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would run from my husband as fast and far as I could go.  I would not suggest anyone marry someone with this.  At least he has been diagnosed and on meds but it sounds like it really doesn't help that much.  My husband is driving me insane with his constant mess ups, not finishing things, saying one thing and then something else, saying things and forgetting it, forgetting what I said.  Your sanity and your health aren't work it.  Probably not what you wanted to hear and just my opinion.  Good luck with whatever decision you make.

Hi!  I'm in the boat with

Hi!  I'm in the boat with you.  My DH has not not been diagnosed but I believe after reading everything I have found that he is ADHD.  And like you, all of our arguments and disagreements are "my fault" as I don't talk right, I don't act right, I don't come to him right (I'm the one that has supported us for 11 years, had a full-time consistent job, have an advanced education and talk to people all day as part of my job).  I, like you, am a strong woman and have felt like I was crazy, I could function and do all the right things at work and have successful relationships and communication with male and female co-workers and friends but couldn't get through a nite without an argument or without being ignored by the one person who was supposed to love me.  I felt the same, I would want to "talk about or discuss" something and then somehow I ended up saying that I was sorry and feeling like the whole argument was my fault.  Now my DH does tell me that he loves me and I think in his own way he does, but most of our fights are b/c (as I've figured out) he is hyperfocused on his friends and ignores me, but he can't see it.  My breaking point came when I found out he was having an affair, I have always felt that I made my bed and that I had to sleep in it (marrying him) but finding out that he went outside of our marriage just to pi__ me off b/c he was mad at me was just to much.  I filed for divorce, it never went through as he wouldn't sign the papers and kept telling me he was sorry and wanted to work things out.  We are together now but I am struggling as to whether or not I want to stay.  On the one hand I truly believe you don't just divorce someone b/c they aren't well, marriage vows say in sickness and in health.  But should I stay in a miserable for me situation if he isn't willing to get help and try to make things better.  Would we always have struggles b/c of this sure, who doesn't have struggles???  My advice if you want it, is to really think long and hard b/4 making that commitment, I wish I would have seen this before.  I thought getting married would make him be more responsible and it's only made things worse.  I think any relationship can be good but it does take both and if only one is willing to work it's not going to.  Best of luck, I hope my story helps you to feel 'sane' and like you are not alone, because you are not :o).

im new here

Hey guys Im new here and I found out that my husband of about one year and a half has ADHD. Im glad to see im not alone, but feel overwhelmed for what is ahead of me. We got married at 23 so we are young I thought most of his problems were because of his age but I came to find out its ADHD. I love him so much and know he has a very good heart but his symptoms have tore me apart! All these signs scream my marriage I do everything, Im always nagging him to get motivated, I feel like im pushing against a mountain that is never going to move so whats the point! I refuse to give wish me luck I hope this blog can help.

P.S. If you have any tips on how I can communcate with him please share! when we argue he is always on the defense its like trying to communicate with a boxer in the ring. metaphorically speaking that is! lol he has never  abused me.

Examples of Less Destructive ADHD marriages or persons

Are there examples among site members of ADHD diagnosed individuals whose lives have not been so terribly destroyed or whose marriages are not failing?  Is there a spectrum of ADHD in which, some people are functioning and others are in dire straights?  Can some persons who have lived most of their lives without a diagnosis, be finding their way anyway, and not leave a path of destruction behind them?  Does ADHD always come with oblivion regarding others and self centeredness?  On this site, are those people with the disorder, who are getting by, not here?  Maybe not.  Perhaps they exist but they do not need a support website because they are doing alright.  And finally, does ADHD ever come by itself, with no other comorbid conditions?  Just curious about some opinions and observations.  Thanks.

I believe so...I hope so

I think if you read the Dr. Hallowell and Dr. Orlov's post you will see they have been able to survive the ADHD. I'm at a point in my marriage where I don't know if it will be saved or not. I do know I'm committed to working on my problems and will not let them dictate who I am. It may have taken 45 years to get to this point but I know for me the worst is behind me.

The counseling, books, and research I'm doing does say it is managable, I know there will be times I slip and fall like others but like any other sickness or disease or what ever you want to call it you MUST want to get help for yourself and if you do things can be better.

I do believe you are right, we are not hearing from those who have overcame this and we probably won't.

sapphyre's picture

Dr Ned has ADHD as does Gina Pera's husband

And they are still married.

It's just so many little things can add up to a lot. Please have some hope.

I'm still married to my hubby too. I think that you have to be quite a strong person in yourself especially if you had an undiagnosed spouse.

But when your spouse is uninterested in getting help and doesn't think there is anything wrong with them, alarm bells, that's what this site has taught me. Fortunately, our child being diagnosed helped us understand my hubby and get him diagnosed. (Unfortunately he also has severe anxiety and chronic pain, but that's life, eh? And I'm snoring :P)

arwen's picture

Yes, I'm sure there are

My husband's brother has had a successful life and a good marriage -- he has not been diagnosed with ADHD but there's no doubt in our minds that he has the disorder, just like all the men in my husband's family, he has many of the classic indications but few of the very negative habits that often develop with ADHD -- I think he learned from his big brother's decisions that didn't work out so well (not exactly mistakes per se, but ill-judged perhaps for the time and place), and made different decisions that worked out better for him.

I gather from comments that he has made that his marriage has had a few rough spots, and that he and his wife have gotten some general marriage counseling in the past, but it hasn't sounded like anything as rough as what my husband and I have been through.  He certainly hasn't left a "path of destruction" behind him.  He's been very involved in a variety of non-profit organizations and activities.    He's always been pretty aware of other people -- on very rare occasion when he's very invested in some particular activity, he fails to immediately see another point of view, but mostly he's not just aware but thoughtful of others.  At least, that's the way it appears to the rest of my husband's family, including me.

As far as I know he is not on this site, and I doubt he or his wife would feel a need for the support available here -- and I suspect you are right, that it's because they are doing all right.  I think it probably has helped that they don't have kids, so there are fewer responsibilities and dependencies to have problems with.

As far as I know, he doesn't have any comorbid condition.  That said, many of the guys in my husband's extended family seem to have Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as ADHD (although the ones who have moved to the South, or always lived there, don't exhibit any serious symptoms).  My brother-in-law lives farther south than we do, so I don't know if his  apparent absence of SAD symptoms is simply a function of his location, or whether he really doesn't have it.


"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

LulaBelle's picture

You can have a happy marriage

I am married to a man with ADD. We have been through some very horrific  times together and many wonderful times. However, what we always hold onto is our basic friendship and high regard for one another. We began as friends for a year before we became romantically involved and have now been married for over 30 years. Yes! my husband's symptoms ( distractibility, irritability, impulsivity, immaturity, hyper-sensitivity, forgetfulness, etc.)  and my negative reaction to them have been a source of intense friction, frustration and even depression. There were times when I felt suicidal when he lost yet another job because he had trouble fitting in and just going along with the flow. There are times when I feel like leaving this marriage and finding someone "normal" so I would have relief from playing the "Mommy/bitch" role. But I also know that with any relationship, there will be difficulties. When I am able to set aside my husband's ADD behaviors, I see a very fine, loving, sweet, funny, playful, sexy, smart, creative guy, who is actually in psychic pain. I see how much he has struggled with this brain/chemical dysfunction and I understand that he responds to stimuli differently then I do.  Marriage to a person with ADD takes a lot of energy, compassion, understanding and acceptance of his/her quirks. With this site (which I am very grateful for) and getting professional and/or personal support you just may be able to pick up the pieces and create a wonderful new mosaic. My husband got married "for better, for worse" and I plan to stick it out, support and love him for the rest of my life. With dedication and the two of you willing to work together to  improve your understanding of and communication with each other, your marriage can become a loving sanctuary where both partners feel understood and loved unconditionally.

I hope that this helps!

Distracted & mostly happy

I think there must be a spectrum of severity. I don't have nearly the struggle other users are describing here. My college roommate's husband also has ADD, and they seem pretty happy. I think it helps that we were diagnosed before we got into our relationships. We and our partners could make adjustments early on.

My boyfriend found this site after the NYTimes article, and he was relieved my case wasn't so bad. I think a lot of people on this forum arrived long after the goodwill in their marriages had deteriorated. We are just happy to find some practical advice to prevent problems. Like, I didn't know until this weekend that he felt overburdened by household chores. He just does them. Now we can formally divy up the jobs. I'm calling dibs on all plant watering and recycling. Maybe I can just be the helper elf for cooking; coordinating dinner is horrible for me, and I don't care what we eat anyway.

I really hope these little accommodations can help us avoid a build-up of bad feelings and get us ready for when things might be more complicated (Kids? Job changes? Illness?). Anyway, we are in our 30s and had some failed relationships to learn from. We aren't dumb kids who think love conquers all. I think we both expect to put effort into this.

Yes we are here!

My husband was diagnosed with inattentive ADD almost 3 years ago....we've been married 8.5.  When he was diagnosed at age 35ish, he had gotten a college degree, made tons of friends, had a detail oriented computer job he was VERY successful doing, and had a happy marriage (though we were arguing way more than was comfortable for both of us).  We have never for one minute been anywhere near the divorce mark...pre ADD nor Post ADD diagnosis...and while a lot of that owes to our personal views on the sanctity of marriage, I think part of it is due to the type of person he is.  He recognized that it was him who wasn't following through on agreements and was not remembering conversations correctly, and because there are lots of issues in his family, he went online and did the research to find out what type of issue he might have.  I was stunned as was the family and our friends to find out it was ADD because our experience with ADD was the hyperactive type with ppl bouncing off walls which believe me is NOT my husband :)


1 chapter of Delivered From Distraction, which was our first  book, and our eyes were opened and we were both convinced.  It's too bad that it took 2 months to get the doctor's diagnosis because I had been reading and sharing tips with him which of course he wasn't implementing at all!  He has taken his meds from the start though they've been tweaked 3 or 4 times, and he spent a very frustrating period of time really wanting meds to be all he needed.  He accepts now that meds alone aren't enough.    He has gone through 3 types of coaching, and we think we've found what is working for us....though that is also due for a bit of a tweak.

You are right that there just isn't as much need to post here when things are going well.  I am constantly thinking I should add something to the *Progress and Hope* thread, but I get busy and it seems less and less important until I forget altogether.  We should all keep in mind how much acknowleging progress is important and hope and praise for when things are going well is helpful to everyone reading this forum. 


You have inspired me to go add a story over there, so thank you!  And please know that the extent to which ADD negatively impacts your life is entirely to do with how well the AD/HD person does in recognizing what issues they have and developing ways of dealing with those issues in a way that doesn't impact others adversely, AND how well the other people in their life support that process and are able to let go of pent up anger and frustration that have developed during the time that person was undiagnosed.  Also, keep in mind that just because your mate has a *diagnosis* that doesn't make you problem free. I am a perfectionist and that also negatively affects us both, but I don't have a pill to help me deal with the issues I'm struggling to correct. Sometimes I think the people with a diagnosis are more fortunate because they get specific, targetted help addressing their main issues while the rest of us have to struggle along on our own.  We all bring negative *stuff* for those around us to deal with.  We aren't *better* than the person with ADD who is trying to improve.   I do maintain that anyone trying to improve is doing better than a person refusing to improve, but hopefully they can be encouraged to see what they are somehow currently blinded to.  Several stories are here of people whow are recently diagnosed and were previously in denial, so there is always hope.


We were fortunate that pretty soon after our relationship started being negatively impacted by ADD behaviors, my husband took action to figure it out--that allowed less anger and frustration to build.  Our biggest frustration now is how slow the progress seems at times--I think he needs to work with the coach more often but that is a challenge at the moment.  Also, it seems he does way better with third party suggestions.  I could have been making a suggestion for 2 years & nothing happens, but once the same suggestion is made by the coach all of a sudden it's genius!  Makes me wanna scream at times, and I have in the past (not proud of that); but now I just try to be grateful the idea is trying to implemented.

Thank you for writing this out!

I found this site a few hours ago and have been both relieved and terrified.  Relieved to know that others feel this way and scared that so many people have gone through such extreme experiences and so many people have had their marriages end in failure.

I was diagnosed with ADHD a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately I only got 3 counseling sessions through my school and we are both graduate students so further treatment/counseling is on hold until my husband starts his new job in September.  I came here because I thought maybe some of our marriage problems were the result of my ADHD and I was hoping to get some advice and support.  However, I identified with the non-ADHD spouse in every single point above except number 5 (no kids yet).

My husband was really weird about my decision to pursue evaluation for ADHD.  He kept telling me how successful I was and why would I want to bother doing something like that that would give me a negative label for the rest of my life.  It crossed my mind while learning more about ADHD that he might have it, however, I dismissed it as part of just getting used to knowing that other people don't think like I do.  I do not think that a conversation about the possibility of him also having ADHD will go over well but after reading all of your experiences I think it is necessary.

Thank you for putting this site together and for so many people who have shared their honest feelings.

Yes to 5, hopefully not 6

1. There is a seriously unbalanced distribution of responsibility in your household. I do everything in our household apart from taking out the garbage and walking the dog.  I take care of our children, work full time, cook, clean, change lightbulbs, wash cars, do the gardening, you name it, I do it.

2. You hate to nag or be nagged, but it happens all the time.  I feel old when I nag. When I nag it almost always ends in a fight.  I have learned not to nag but I am still learning how to ask without sounding like I nag because he doesn't listen / is distracted most of the time, so I almsot always have to ask more than once.

3. You were the sun, moon and stars during courtship.  Now you feel like chopped liver.  He adored me.  I felt so special.  Now all he does is spend hours watching TV, playing video games or surfing college football chat rooms.  Not only does he ignore me but our two sons too.  I feel so bad for my children becuase their father is disengaged most of the time.

4. No matter how hard you try, things never seem to change - except for the worse.  I have tried so many things - books, counseling for me (he refuses to go), letting go of anger ....  it works for a while then we (I) fall back into anger and resentment.

5. You have a child diagnosed with, or suspected of having, ADHD.  I pray that neither of my two boys will suffer from this awful, awful disorder.  If they are I will do everything I can to help them so that they are successful ADD'ers and will try to counel them throughout their life so that they don't ruin their lives or relationships.

6. One spouse feels as if the other is more like an extra child than a partner  I joke sometimes that I have 3 boys at home.  His mother babies him a lot which does not help the situation at all.  He expects me to baby him.  I told him no way ...  that's your mother's job.  How can you respect a man that wants to be treated like a child?

Six Signs that ADHD is in your marriage.

This is my first time to post to a public forum, but I am so desperate.  I have reached my limit!!  Today, I thought about suicide, although I know it isn't an option.  I almost convienced myself that it would be much better than living a 30th year with an ADD spouse who will not admit he has ADD even though numerous  counselors have told him he does.  Being an older male, his generation doesn't accept counseling very well.  The sad thing is his 20 year old son was diagnosed w/ADHD at age 5.  My husband's 72 year old father admits to having had ADHD.  Our son has a better understanding of the condition than his father does.  I think pride has a lot to do with it.  Pride keeps him from admitting he has ADD.

I don't know what else to do.  We have seen over a dozen counselors.  My husband doesn't follow up.  Is there ever a case where you recommend divorce b/c I am about at that point.  I've had breast cancer twice and my husband's ADD makes me wish I would have passed away.  I fought so hard to stay alive b/c my children were so young.  I had a reason to live.  They are grown now.  I don't think someone should be sentenced to such a life when the spouse refuses to get help for ADD.  I really think it is time to DIVORCE.  This is very difficult for me b/c of my christian beliefs.  I don't take this lightly.  Suicide is not an option, even though I have thought about it.  I think it is better to just walk away. 

Please help.  The proverbial, desperate woman...




Forget About Couples Counseling - Go Yourself

You need an individual counselor, and fast. Please find someone who can help you through the depression you are suffering and help you move away from suicidal thoughts. No one is "sentenced to life" with a spouse who refuses to help himself. But you need to help YOURSELF...and quickly. In this case, inaction is your enemy. You don't need to go through this alone, and shouldn't. Please find your own counselor right away.

A word of thanks

Dr. Orlov, I want to thank you for your reply.  My husband read it and I guess reading a response from a professional opened his eyes.  Yesterday, I printed the article, ADD Husband Asks for Help Turning Marriage Around.  The article was so true to life for him he decided to go to the doctor for help.  He was placed on stratera.  I feel like there is hope again.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your response and for this website.  He continued to read several blogs on his own.  He has never, ever done this before. 

proverbial woman-God bless you Dr. Orlov

Clearing Things Up

I'm so delighted that your husband saw himself and his situation in my writing. I have to clear something up, though, which is that though I am expert in the topic of how ADHD affects marriages, I am not a doctor. Monitor the impact of the Strattera carefully - taking notes about what changes he feels, what time it seems to wear off (if it does) and whether he has any side effects. If this medication doesn't work for him, he should go back to the doctor to try a different ADHD med. (Many find that one doesn't work, and another one is very helpful.)

i understand

I have been married to my husband for 29 years and he has severe ADHD but isn't diagnosed yet. I have recently started therapy and had affirmed my fear that I had been enabling him for 29 years. I don't think I have the energy to work on making things better. I think I am done. Don't harm yourself, get out if there isn't another option. Now is the time to care for you and find a happy life. Take care.

Your thoughts please?

I was diagnosed with ADD 40 years ago in 3rd grade.  My parents split up when I was 23, possibly because of my Dad's ADD, at least in part.  My wife and I have been married 25 years.  It's not always easy, but we're still together, although my anxiety about her possibly leaving someday never fully goes away.

Some thoughts for your consideration and comment:

- The love your ADD spouse felt for you during the hyper-focus was real, or at least as real as any romance.  However, that kind of passion doesn't last forever even if you don't have ADD.  But I think that ADD makes the routine child-rearing years more difficult, because there's so much monotony and we're so lousy at managing that.  I've tried to be smart about it, and I've avoided pouring my need for novelty into really destructive stuff like affairs, gambling, or the like, but some people don't understand that novelty is just novelty, and they get caught in that stuff.

- We really can't help being this way.  Paying attention is like holding my breath.  I can do it, but not for long, but try explaining that to the rest of the world.  It's like being the only person in a school of fish, and they don't understand why I can't stay underwater all the time.  After all, I can do it for a while.

- Your spouses know that they have ADD.  Maybe they know the label and maybe they don't.  Maybe they admit it, and maybe they're in full flight from it.  But they know that they're different in some vague yet pervasive way that they can't really articulate.  But often they don't dare admit that, especially if they don't know how to describe it.

- Most all of us ADD folks are ashamed of ourselves.  Despite a reasonably successful professional career, I still feel like I'm not living up to my potential, that I should be doing more.  I still live in fear that my wife will wise up and leave me.  When I hyper-focus on those feelings, I can become completely immobilized by sadness.  My wife thinks I'm just ignoring her.  When I focus on anger, I can carry on some pretty intense arguments, and I'm pretty articulate when I want to be, but then my wife feels hurt and angry afterwards and that scares me.

- My mind feels fuzzy most of the time, and that frustrates me.  I get irritable because I'm working so hard just to stay on task, and its exhausting.  I fear to let people see the sadness I live with most of the time, because nobody wants to share that.  I also fear to let people see the hyper focus, because then they find me too intense.  But that's the only time my head is clear, and the only time I feel happy.  I don't use drugs, but I can easily understand why other ADD folks do.

- My medication wears off around dinner time, so my family gets the worst part of me.  I suppose I could take it later, but I have such insomnia as it is (both on and off medication). 

- If you will forgive my presumption in speaking for your ADD spouses, we're sorry for the pain we've caused you.  Those who can't admit it are those who feel the most sorry.  They may never come around, and you may need to move on.  That's sad but it's reality.  Most of them probably didn't mean to hurt you, although there's probably exceptions.  If you've been stuck waiting for the apology you deserved but never got, I hope you can take one from me.  I'm sorry ADD messed up your marriage.  If it's too late to fix it, then I'm twice as sorry.  If there's still hope for you, then you have my prayers and best wishes.

Good luck.

Understandable yet so frustrating...

Reading this post made me sad because I know my husband could identify with everything you posted and I feel immense pain and sadness for him in that. I hate that he has ADHD and has to suffer through being "different", having a hard time making and keeping friends, being unable to focus, and constantly making impulsive decisions that he later regrets.

Then on the other hand I feel so angry at him for not taking his ADHD seriously! My husband was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in elementary school and made the decision during middle school that he didn't want to be labeled and take medication anymore. We had talked about it in detail while dating because of the immense impact it has on our relationship. Even then he would go back and forth between admitting that he has ADHD and saying that he's going to seek help, get on medication, etc. Then the next week he'd tell me he doesn't think he has ADHD anyway and that it's just his personality! Four years later he is still doing that and I've just about had enough!! I know he is struggling with accepting that label but I'm so angry at him for being selfish. He says he doesn't want a divorce and tries to make me feel guilty by saying that as his wife I should just "love him for who he is" and shouldn't care that he doesn't want to go on medication, go to counseling, or learn about his ADHD. When we are on the brink of divorce he will make an appointment and get on medication, then he'll take it for a week or two and go off of it again. He'll read two pages of a book and then it will just sit collecting dust. He's only motivated to do something about it when we're in crisis -- as soon as he feels like the risk of divorce isn't there anymore he'll go right back to not caring about the ADHD. I know he's not intentionally hurting me but... what should I do?? I want to just be happily married and start a family, and I have a lot of built up resentment because I feel like I'm already raising a twelve year old and that if we were to get pregnant I would basically be a single parent. What's the point of even being married?!!

Not taking ADHD seriously

There are many reasons people with ADHD deny its importance:

  • they feel admitting they have ADHD will mean they are to blame for the marital issues
  • they don't believe they can "fix" things, so denial is a means of escape from trying and possibly failing
  • they genuinely don't understand the impact that ADHD has on others, even when you tell them point blank about it (this part used to drive me crazy)
  • they don't want to be labeled as defective
  • they fear that admitting to ADHD will mean they will be forced to take meds (it doesn't)

Your husband needs to learn about ADHD and it impact on you and your relationship before you end up divorced.  One way will be reading about it.  Here are two relevant blog posts, one on accepting you have ADHD and one on what it's like to be a non-ADHD spouse so he can get a better feel for your situation.

Also, when my book is out (soon now!) that will be another resource for him to learn without feeling threatened by it.

Not taking ADHD seriously (The Reverse)

Do you have any thoughts on the reverse situation? My ADHD was discovered a little over a year ago and I responded well to the Adderall and gone to sessions with a Psychologist and have been reading and trying to replace poor coping skills with new ones. I eat a lot less and walk over 20 miles a week.

Only my wife does not think I am much different than a year ago, other than I have lost a lot of weight, because of the (Speed) that I take daily. I don't want to push her into reading more about ADHD, because I think she see's ADHD as my Excuse Disease that explains all the hurt I have caused throughout our marriage. I see so many Non-ADDers out here searching for answers to explain their partner's behaviors. I know it takes time and lots of effort, but it gets a little depressing to be feeling and acting better and the main person I am trying to make up to does not see a change. Maybe I beat her down with too many facts explaining the way I felt and acted when I first was diagnosed with ADHD.

This website has been a great source of insight from both sides of the ADHD experience. I am just going to keep trying to fix myself, as I don't know what else to do.



The Fixer's picture

Excuse Disease

I'm new to this blog, and can't read another Reply...most of you are talking about a 5-10 yr commitment; mine has been for over 20, and I'm just about at my wits end.  I'm replying to yyz, because I'm sure my husband, who was diagnosed 2 years ago, feels the same way you do.  He is seeing a therapist who uses cognitive therapy on him, and he has been taking Strattera for over a year.  He thinks he's changed drastically, but honestly, I can't see much of a difference. After reading the NYT article he sent me, I realized that after 20 years of this, he can't just start taking meds, dump this article on me and expect me to leave him be and all will be better--we've developed bad behavior patterns over the 20 years that just can't be undone just like that.  He accuses me of being resentful and angry, and I am--I've been the breadwinner for over 15 years because he can't hold a job.  Now he's in his 50's and I really don't see anyone hiring him.  I have supported him and believed in him when family and friends recommended I get out of the marriage.  He asked me recently why I've put up with him all these years, and I was surprised that he didn't realize that a) I love him and  b) I truly thought it was because he would get it together, especially once he started getting help, and once he got it together, he would feel better about himself and therefore treat me and my daughter better.  Here's the thing--even though he's figured out he has ADD, I still think he wants to blame someone, especially me and his family.  In a recent fight, he told me he can't focus on "the marriage" anymore because he needs to focus on himself and his career and how he can't work on both at the same time.  Also, I'm not allowed to have any expectations of him, and you bet I get resentful when it looks like he gets to do whatever he wants--when he can't deal with me or our teen daughter he puts the tv on or goes to his computer, and when we tell him we need to talk to him, he acts annoyed and impatient. So my daughter talks to me a lot now, and he resents this--but he doesn't really want to be out of the loop, he just wants to extract the info he thinks is's so rude and very difficult for most to have a conversation with him as he's always interrupting with questions, and then when he's heard enough he changes the subject...there is very little give and take when talking to him, and he doesn't seem to be aware that he does this.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that ADD does feel like an excuse for him, I know many with the affliction who function quite well and don't allow the disease to disable them like he does.  The other thing is that all I have ever asked of him over the last 10 years is to get a job so that I didn't have the financial burden on my shoulders (and quite frankly, after 22 years, I'm ready for a break), I don't care about the home repair projects or household chores--I would love to switch places with him but I don't think he will ever be in a breadwinner position.  In the end, I'm really not getting much from this marriage, it's very one-sided, very unequal.  And he must feel trapped because he can't leave me and support himself, although he has talked about leaving and having me continue to support him, which seems incredibly unfair.  He takes his prescribed meds, but he gets panic attacks so smokes pot continuously all day and has 2-3 drinks a night, so medicates himself with these other drugs, plus he drinks quite a bit of coffee, which I think adds to his anxiety!  He's been in therapy for over 2 years and carries on like this is such a big deal (him: what "normal" person is in therapy for 2 years??  Me: PLENTY!!)  I am going to try to get help to understand him, but I'm just not sure how much more I can take.  Like many of the spouses have stated here in these blogs, I think he has other issues besides the ADD, unfortunately.  Really wish we could have figured this out earlier. I just had a flash from 15 years ago when I begged him to get help when he kept getting fired, I told him that maybe something was going on with him that really needed to be addressed, and of course he only got angry and hurt, and refused to see a therapist.  If only then...YYZ, you don't say how ADD manifested itself in your marriage, or how long you were married before discovering that you had it...if it's been a while like my situation, maybe some of the changes you're feeling are only internal (and of course, physical), maybe it's too soon for her to notice a difference yet...???  Like you said, just keep on working on it.  My husband takes it very personally that I'm not noticing any changes, since, he claims, he's doing it FOR ME...for me?? You said this, too--help me understand:  ultimately, this is for you and in the end it will help your job and your relationships, including the one with your wife, right?? 

Pink's picture

I am in the same boat as you.

I am in the same boat as you. My husband hasn't been working for 11 years and he think I am still responsible to take care of him. yesterday he said to me. oh... you don't care about me.. and you think I should be happy that you give me a place to eat and put my head on? How is that suppose to make me feel. Supportive?

Excuse disease

Thanks for your reply "The Fixer"... My wife and I were married for almost 14 years before my diagnosis. From the beginning of our relationship communication was a weakness in our relationship. I believe ADD has a major role in the communication issues. Like many ADDers, I did not see a problem coming until it was blowing up in my face, my wife would wait for me to realize there was an issue and when I would not figure out there was something bothering her, the next time she would be furious. By this time anything from me was too little too late. To make matters worse, I would shut down and not talk. I've been through this process too many times to count, and I'm totally embarrassed that I never notice something is wrong before it gets to that point. I am improving my communication skills by the fact that I notice her emotions better than before and try to ask her about what is wrong. Perfect, not by a long shot, but better. I can engage in a confrontation far better than the old days, by staying calm and saying one of the many things I was thinking, but not able to say n the old days. I still love my coffee, but I don't use illegal drugs and hardly drink. The alcohol messes me up and I don't like to feel that way anymore. I have better patience, I am a bit better about interrupting someone speaking, my focus is better and I realize it could take a while before she sees the new reactions as normal instead of expecting all the old stuff. My job status has never been poor in our married life. I have not been unemployed since 1994, which only lasted a couple of months. This was before we were married. I believe my wife helped me with the unknown monster ADD. I knew she would never put up with a unemployed husband, cheater, alcoholic or drug abuser. I also knew if I was impulsively blowing money she would not tolerate this behavior. I hope I can continue to improve and prove to her that I will make things better. My actions have a lot of catching up to do. I will continue reading and trying to apply what I have learned. Thanks for your post...
The Fixer's picture

Excuse Disease

Thanks for your answer--wow, 14 years!  My husband's problem was and has always been that NO ONE tells him what to do, so when we had problems, many times he would over-react and then come to me like a child, expecting me to fix it.  Problem with that is that he never wanted to hear what I had to say, as then it would seem like I was the one in control--this is a big issue with him, who has the power (due to domineering & judgmental mother).  He has control issues, and like my past therapists and all of my friends say, this is probably because he has little to control since he's been unemployed for so long.  After so many years of being the forced bread-winner, I DO get to make a lot of the decisions, just like in a traditional marriage where the husband works.  Also, like you, he's lousy at expressing himself and communicating, and does this thing where he makes ASSUMPTIONS about others feelings, which always gets him into trouble.  I know it's because he doesn't want to have to deal with the back and forth of a normal conversation, and its easier to make assumptions rather than interact.  Our teen daughter told me recently that he never talks to her about anything anymore.  When she was little he could control her and be in charge, but now she has opinions and feelings, and I think this is hard for him.  (His biggest fan is the dog, since the dog asks little of him!).  He says I have no respect for him, but how can I?  All I ask is that he work and help me pay the bills.  I recently tried to talk to him about retirement (we're in our 50's) and he looked at me like a deer in the headlight, and even asked what I was talking about!!  When we started fighting over it (because I told him I wanted to quite my job and take a break), he stated that I (ME) will have to work past retirement age, like I was crazy for even suggesting it.  And he wonders why I get so angry with him!  I believe he is really trying to make an effort, but to me it doesn't seem like enough.  I've looked at his computer's history to see what he does on it all day, and I see that he looks at job sites all the time, so he is trying, but after all these years you'd think he'd find something.  I've suggested a life coach for him, or one of those career courses, or taking a class in something he likes like real estate and then getting his license and pursuing that--he's refused all.  I finally got him to a therapist, but as I said before, he says this was for me, not him.  I just don't know how much longer I can continue...I was taught to go the long haul, do what I had to for the family, finish the job I started, I had responsibilities  to the family...  He started working when he was 16, and when I met him, I was envious of his ambition!!  So ironic!  I think the drugs (caffeine, alcohol, and pot) are a huge problem, and I wish his therapist would make him see this.  Don't get me wrong, he's not a drunk or a stone-head--he smokes a little pot all day long, and then has a couple beers and a glass of wine in the evening, and drinks coffee in the morning and then in the late afternoon, and occasionally in the evening, and claims he can't function without the pot, which he has been smoking since his 20's.  I actually think he needs to take anti-anxiety medication, but he likes the pot better.  I don't think I mentioned that I have attention issues as well, but somehow I manage to function normally (I have many friends and am considered successful in my job, and have a number of hobbies I love; he has very few friends, and of course, no job, but no hobbies, either!!).  I'll continue to read and learn about ADD and try to understand him better, but I fear the damage may be done.

The Fixer from yyz

My post from last night may have seemed a bit disorganized, not because of my ADD, but because I was posting from my iPhone. I know, another excuse from an ADDer... (HaHa, if I cannot keep my sense of humor, then I am in REAL trouble)

I really do refer to my life BC (Before "Insert name here"). I believe my ability to Hyper-Focus on her fueled a relationship which might not have happened otherwise. The Focus made her feel special, and there are many posts to this type of beginning of a relationship. My wife was, and still is, everything I could ever want from a woman. Beautiful, Smart, a great mom, a great friend and many other things.

The Control issue is something I can attest too... So many times in my life things are taken from my control, usually after messing something up, but never the less, I could have been really trying hard, failed, then have it taken away because I must have been 1/2 A$$ trying to the others involved. This feeling of failure after trying is miserable. This goes for chores, jobs, fights with a wife or loved one, everywhere... I was laid off last Friday! Twelve years at one company, then recruited to a new company to run the department, then three years later, outsourced. REALLY? Well it is a sign of the times. I am killing time on the computer, monitoring Monster, My Email (Expecting an offer letter today), LinkedIn, Facebook, here too... I started Hyper-Focusing on my Job Hunt 4 hours after losing my job, because I know myself well enough that boredom is my Enemy. I also know my family depends on the 1/2 of the income I provide and I hope to never let my kids worry about money, if I can help it. You mention that your husband has an interest in Real Estate. Commercial or Residential? I am in the IT side of the commercial real estate business and have know the "Broker Type" (Sorry for any Stereotype), but I think many of these people have some ADD traits, know that I know what they are. The brokers can focus on a deal and literally force it through. This may be an avenue to look into.

After medication, I feel that I can read the room far better than before. The day I was laid off, I felt as if something was out of place and it was true. Anxiety is fairly common for me now, because I SEE more to worry about and realize that my to-do list is Seemingly Impossible to finish. So on my day off, I like to ask my wife the "Top 3" things she would like done. This is a new technique for me, and it helps me to focus on something that will also help my wife have input on my focus of the day. Win / Win as I say :-) I am a programmer / problem solver by nature, so that helps me deal with ADD and it's evil / destructive qualities. I know there are many that have given up on change or don't like the diagnosis, and this is tragic because there is help out there and your life can change.  

I have a teenage daughter and an elementary school age daughter who have noticed some changes in Dad. I am not as worn out and agitated in the evenings, after work. I have really had some good talks with my teen, who seems to be comfortable talking to me about most anything. I feel great about her wanting to talk to me about here ever-changing almost adult (Uggg) world. 

For me, any kind of downer like alcohol ruins my stimulant aid and unless I am in a social moment or anxiety is flairing up, I tend to minimize their use. I have an anti-anxiety med for these moments, but I only take them as needed, usually one around bedtime to help get sleepy. I think I have somehow always known and feared being addicted to things, so I chose food to self medicate. Now food is not an issue for maybe the first time in my life.

I wish you well and certainly commend your efforts in your search for knowledge, and especially the efforts in trying to save your marriage.



The Fixer's picture

The Fixer

Wow--thanks so much for this insight--it was very helpful!  I'm so sorry about your job, it made me weep a little to read that simply because I know how this would devastate my spouse-- absolutely DEVASTATE him. 

CONTROL:  He's always going around the house looking for ways to have control, but sometimes he does things without asking me or my daughter, he appears to not respect our needs or concerns.  He was always installing things on MY computer because he thought I needed them, I didn't appreciate him doing this without asking me, and when I'd say so, he would act all dejected or get belligerent (this is his usual modus operandi when being "criticized")--HE feels so bad and wants so desperately to blame someone rather than accepting the's so hard to have him around all day every day, and since he doesn't have much of a life, he is home A LOT.  A typical day for him: on the computer with his morning coffee, then he makes himself a big breakfast--we usually can't have much of a conversation during this period because he can't focus--when I try to talk to him about the day, he gets agitated, too much info, he never wants to discuss anything.  On the other hand, he'll go off on a tangent over some news item he listened to on the internet, and get upset/belligerent because at 7:30 in the morning i don't want to talk about Dick Cheney!  Then after breakfast he walks the dog (and probably smokes a little pot during this time), then he comes back and sits on the computer for another 2-3 hours, then he makes a big lunch, then maybe runs a few errands, comes back, makes coffee, sits on the computer a few more hours, then walks the dog.  By now it's cocktail hour, so when he comes back from walking the dog (probably smoking a little then, too), he has a beer or two.  Then he starts talking about dinner and plans for the evening, which I usually can't get excited about because I have WORKED all day...and HE HASN'T!!

I believe that he is still in denial about his ADD...I finally told my daughter that this is why he explodes all the time, and has no patience for us.  You, on the other hand, sound very sensitive, I wish my hubby would try a little harder, but I think he feels like the whole world is against him, he's a victim!  I think he loves me, but our marriage has been so one-sided for so long, it feels a little co-dependent at this point.  I think the only way this could ever change is if he began to pull some of the financial weight, and I honestly don't think this is ever going to happen.  I'll mention to him that you said that real estate would be good for him, but you see, he has always had this fantasy (I call it) of owning his own business--he did this for about 2-3 years, about 5 years ago, and it failed.  He promised me if I was patient he could make it happen, and I was--I was so does your wife handle your moods?  I just can't get over feeling resentful...if he loved me, he would try much harder.  I hate that he treats himself like he's I said, I have attention issues, too, but can work, and have friends and a busy social life!!  I also suffered from hormonal depression, and learned how to manage that, because my family depends on me!  Most of the job suggestions I make to him are beneath him, he feels he would be underemployed... The sad thing is that when we fight and talk about splitting, I ask him what he would do, and he thinks that a divorce attorney would make sure he got financial support from me, which really depressed me, and that he would probably be forced to find work--BINGO!!  Crazy, right?? 

That third leg of treatment for yyz

You have been trying medication as well as behavior changes and that is wonderful and critical.  But in a relationship, you also need to work together as a couple to develop ways of interacting that take ADHD and your partner's experiences into account.  This is where I would suggest you go next.  The process includes evaluating your communication patterns, addressing her anger, and measuring how effective you are against the goals that are most important to you as a couple.  This "third leg of treatment" as I call it in my book, is where I see couples make the most progress and repair how they are together (though they can't do it until they've got the meds and behavioral stuff in hand first).  So you are part way there...

Pink's picture

Get over the Failing problem

My husband know he has ADHD since he was a kid and he talk about it in the open saying that  " I have ADD and LD. " But, he doesn't believe that what is causing our marriage to fail. The main problem he has is not working. When he works he get fired.  I am the main person here and It been too long.  The counselor understand me but she also trying to be soft on him saying oh.. ADD has nothing to do with it. Then she said why am I angry? She told him he needs to work on his job. Find work and work at it. He just kept giving one excuse after another excuse. Like you said he is afraid of failiar.  How do you get the person past that point. How can he get up and say I have to try... if I don't try you never going to find out wether you success or fail.

ADHD denial?

It sounds like your husband is still stuck in the denial about the ADHD. I also got diagnosed in childhood, and stopped my medications in middle school because I didn't want to feel that I was different than the other kids, and because the medications didn't make me feel any better than not taking them. As an adult, I told myself that I didn't really have ADHD because I could hyperfocus on things that interested me. I ignored the signs of ADHD in my son for way too long, because I didn't want to face in him what I didn't want to face in myself.

Finally, after my son got diagnosed, I decided I had to look at the issue again. I bought a book on adult ADHD and eventually finished it (while simultaneously reading 5 other books, of course). I realized that even the things I saw as proof that I didn't have ADHD were in fact symptoms of it, so the denial pretty much went away. I was surprised to see how much of the ADHD descriptions applied to my Dad as much as to me. I had to talk openly with my son (and eventually my daughter) about the ADHD so that they could deal with it.

The best idea I can offer you is probably also the worst one. If your husband believes that ADHD is so awful, he's got two choices. He can deny that he has it, or he can hate himself. He probably does some of both, but neither is making your marriage better. The only way out of that dilemma is to convince him that it's OK to have ADHD. That's a tough sell because the larger society doesn't buy that, and we all have memories of elementary school where sit still and stay on task were the most important virtues. And now he's got this clearly frustrated wife.

Paradoxically, I suspect that the best way to help him face it would be to stop demanding that he face it. As he says, to "love him as he is." I don't mean to join him in the denial, but rather to openly tell him that "you have ADHD and I still love you nonetheless even if you often drive me crazy and even if you never change." I don't expect that would be even slightly easy, because he's going to be really skeptical about this after all the rejection the world has thrown at him, and because you're genuinely and understandably frustrated. So even if you deliver this message pitch perfect, it will probably still take a long time for it to sink in. And even then, there's still the rest of the world getting angry at his ADHD and undermining the message you're trying to send, so it may be a long time before he feels safe to address this. My wife has not been judgmental at all about my ADHD, but I still live with the lurking fear that she's secretly more angry than she lets on, especially when she's up in arms about the house being a mess because the ADHD children and I are very poor at noticing or caring about the clutter that bothers her so much.

Should Have Paid Attention Earlier

I had suspected my husband of 30 years was ADD, but thought a grown up could "mature" out of it.  I waited too long and have many years of built up resentment and anger.  I now have to let that go. I am considering leaving the marriage as I really can't live like this.  What would be  the difference in living with someone that truely has no clue how to engage you or being alone? Nothing what so ever, just less stress of always hoping and expecting something that will never be.

But You Do Have Another Option

You offer two choices - living alone in the same house as your husband or living alone without him.  There is another choice - living with your husband but not alone (i.e. getting to a point where he better understands and treats his ADHD so he is a better companion to you).  

It could be ADD, it could also be they just aren't great spouses

I am new to this site but not new to the disorder or its effects as I am a sufferer.  Yes we are a challenging lot and can make the routine seem extraordinary, but posting after posting makes ADHD spouses sound like thoughtless, cruel ogres who couldn't give a whit about their families or households and are internally focused to the exclusion of all others.  What isn't mentioned is how wracked with guilt we feel when we have 'lost' another day or night to the disorder, how we beat ourselves to a pulp internally because we can't remember even the simplest of tasks, how we so very wish for our lives to be normal, to be able to everything that folks with regular functioning minds can accomplish without a thought.  What folks may not understand is while we seem thoughtless, we are actually buried in thought, drowning in thought, suffocating in thought.  We can't stop thinking, can't stop thinking through anything and everything, can't simply leave the house to go the grocery store because by the time we've thought through everything we need to do to get there and do the shop--make the list, grab coupons, check through the fridge and pantry to make sure we didn't forget anything, oh do I have the letters we need to mail, should I write a check or use my ATM card, does the car need gas, maybe I should eat lunch first, do I have enough time to do this and do my other errands, aren't there other things I could be doing other than going to the grocery store, maybe I should just do a small shop now and bigger shop tomorrow, do I really need to go at all, I guess we have enough food to get us through the next couple of days--that we end up paralyzed and don't go at all.  And this is a trip to the store.  And while I cannot speak for all folks with the disorder, my guess is I am not alone.  Ask an ADHD person what it's like to select a birthday card at the CVS for their spouse or parent.  You might get the entire disorder summary in just that act.

Now, all of that being said, some of what is written just sounds like irresponsible people who maybe use the disorder as an excuse.  Some of it just sounds like jerky people, disorder or not.  50% of marriages end up in divorce, and a very low percentage of those are due to a spouse having ADHD.  If your spouse won't acknowledge they have a problem and do something to remedy it, that's not the ADHD's fault per se.  Lots and lots and lots of people have problems they don't think require diagnosis and treatment, and marriages are ruined every single day because of it.  Lots of 'normal' spouses don't do their fair share of the housework or don't spend enough time with their family or are workaholics or are just insensitive jerks.

But what I think makes ADHD folks kind of special is that we're not too far below the surface if you make an effort to help.  And I am not talking about making lists, but actually looking at seeing what we do well and then filling holes where we're clearly not able to function.  As mentioned above I sometimes can't even begin a task because I've gamed the whole thing out to conclusion, decided it was too overwhelming and then didn't even bother.  But start a task for me or even better collaborate with me and I will launch (in fact, collaboration is a remarkable elixir for me; if I've got someone working with me or talking to me while I am doing the task I find it much easier to accomplish.  I think it's because the household tasks are often boring and I'll wander off pretty quickly).  And don't try to always 'fix' us but instead go for the gaps.  If we are forever misplacing our car keys, help us keep an eye on them.  If we can never remember to do a certain task then start doing it instead and give us something else that you know we can do.  If we appear thoughtless, indifferent, or distant, it is very likely an unspoken disappointment in ourselves--perhaps even subconciously--that has broken us away.  An arm around our shoulder, an extra hug, and--gulp--even some occasionally unrequested no questions asked sex can go a very long way to bringing us back into the fold.  We often have very difficult challenges to our feelings of self-worth and they are very difficult to verbalize, but you giving us some of the things that restore our confidence as husbands and fathers or wives and mothers can make a remarkable amount of difference.  The person who made you feel the way you once did is likely in there, maybe a little more buried as the complexities of life have added a few more inches of depth--layers that weren't there when we were courting, when life was free and easy, before mortgages and kids--but in there for sure.  I know it's hard to do when you're so frustrated, but please search because we're there, and we're frustrated too but want very much for you to find us.

Thank you for Your Post

I appreciate your taking the time to share.  You describe what I imagine is typical for my wife in a way that helps me understand what she experiences those times when she has trouble with "follow through" as she describes it.  I like your suggestion of helping my wife get started in some collaborative fashion, as she is frequently saying she has a "broken starter switch." 

Would you please describe for me what that might look like to you in the example you used of going to the grocery store?  That is a chore my wife has agreed to do (I do the cooking every night) and sometimes she "puts off" going a little longer than I would like.  When she does, I usually say something like "Are you planning to go to the grocery store in the next couple of days?" to which she always answers "yes."  To which I usually say something like, "Oh good, because we are out of such and such."

Even so, it's hard for her to get herself to go, so if there is something I can be doing that she would find helpful, that would be terrific.  (Of course, before even telling her about the suggestion, I would say something like "I saw something on this site that someone suggested, and I wonder if it is something you would find helpful.  Would you like to hear it?")

Anyway, re: shopping, I keep a running grocery list on a pad on the fridge and am careful to keep it up to date, so that whenever she decides to go she can just grab the list.  There is no set day she goes (though she might have something in her PDA that reminds her she needs to go shopping).  And it's up to her to go.  Other than my example above where I ask her if she plans to go in the next couple of days, I try NOT to remind her to go, as I don't want her to feel like I am nagging her.  Lately, however, it seems as if I am asking that question almost every time a shopping trip is needed.

Thanks also for your last paragraph reminding me to reach out to my wife when she appears distant to reassure her of my love.  You are right, that is hard to do when I am frustrated, but I'm sure there are times when I can "buck up."

Miss Behaven's picture

Why I Hate the Grocery Store

Aside from all the reasons why anyone would hate the grocery store, such as navigating a parking lot.


The lights the hurt my eyes. This is exasperated by my sensory issues.

The displays and signs set up to attract the attention of a NT drive me to distraction. All those bright colors and bells and whistles pound into my brain like a sledgehammer, making it 100 times harder to focus on anything else than what normally I have to deal with at home.

There is too much choice, even with a list. What brand? What size? How many?

The music and announcements over the PA system make it harder to concentrate and focus. This is exasperated by my sensory and attention issues.

I feel like I am trapped in a maze, a rat running around looking for cheese.

I get lost in grocery stores, especially the large ones.

The isle indicator signs telling you what is where do not provide enough information.

I will almost always accidently run into something with my cart, if it’s another person or if I knock something over it is embarrassing.

It’s difficult to approach sales staff.

I struggle with the etiquette in store. Is it okay t reach past some to grab something or not? Who moves out of whose way?

I seem to always have my cart in someone else’s way even when I am trying not to.

All the colors and words and everything on the labels and boxes of food are distracting, drawing my attention. It is like having a hundred people all calling my name while I search for just one in particular.

I am not very good at doing math in my head.

I am never sure what is the best bargain or if I am getting a good deal.

I forget if we tried such and such brand before and if we liked it or not.

I am afraid of choosing the wrong kind of something, the brand or type or flavour someone in the family doesn’t like. “I hate this kind! Why do you keep buying it?”

Even if I take a list and check it a dozen times, somehow I will probably forget something.

My brain might trick me into thinking I put something in the cart that I haven’t, or the other way around. Causing me to come home missing and item, or finding myself with two of something at the check out.

I hate standing in line.

The other people and their sight, smell and sounds distract me from my task. This is exasperated by my sensory and attention issues.

I often knock things over by accident due to absent mindedness, distraction and poor fine motor control.

Labels can be misleading and difficult to read.

I get embarrassed and frustrated if I have to look at a shelf or item for a long time.

I might be looked at funny when people notice I am wandering around lost or looking at the products for a long time.

My confusion, indecision and anxiety can make me look like a nervous shop lifter to staff.

I usually over spend.

It takes actual conscious effort to remember to make eye contact, smile and greet staff, and then it takes more effort to actually do it.

I forget where I parked the car.

I will absent mindedly drop a can of soup on the bread and squish it. I might be scolded for squished bread when I get home.

I don’t pack the cart and then the car full of groceries correctly and will squish something. I might be scolded for squished bread when I get home. I am too ashamed to ask someone to teach me the trick, as it seems to be obvious common sense to them.

I usually forget the canvas bags and have to pay for plastic and then do the walk of shame with my plastic bags past everyone.

I will be tempted to buy things not on the list and may give in to impulsivity.

The temperature fluctuates. This is exasperated by my sensory issues.

It takes too long.

Somethings I have done that help:


I take my notebook and pen with me, in which I tuck in the list and can make notes in.

I seek to park in the same row every time to help me find the car and hubby put a glittery thingy on my antenna.

I bring cash and count exactly how much I have before I go.

I bring a small calculator with me.

I go on weekday mornings and early afternoons when there will be less people.

I go to the same store as much as possible so I learn my way around.

I go more often so I have to buy less stuff each time.

Hubby and I try to keep track of brands, styles and flavours (etc) that we prefer and that goes in my little notebook so that I don’t bring the wrong ones home.

We clip coupons and tuck them in my notebook. This way I can match the coupon to the product. This makes it easier to swim through a sea of distracting colors, labels and displays. I also don’t have to worry so much about whether I am getting a good deal or not.

I use the heartcheck symbol and other things like that to tell me which brand to buy. (Like the little logos that tell you if something is approved by the diabetes association or is organic and such) This is another rule that helps me with the selection process and is also healthy.

I buy Canadian as much as possible, which is another (good for my local economy) rule that helps me with the selection process.

I try to avoid stuff with the corn syrup stuff in it or lots of sugar. This is another rule that helps me with the selection process and is also healthy.

I wear my sunglasses in the store and sometime my ear buds but I keep the i-pod off. The ear buds cut down on noise and make people think I won’t hear them so they leave me alone. The sunglasses cut down on the lights and dims the bright colors.

The stores try to make you feel like that

You are not alone. There is a whole science of how packages and store shelves are designed. All the packages are screaming for your attention.. If you get flustered or distracted, you are much more likely to buy their product. It's worse for packaged products. People study how to package "orange drink" to attract shoppers' attention, but actual oranges aren't packaged that way. In the US you are best to shop around the outside perimeters of the store, where fresh produce, real dairy and meat are, and try to avoid the interior shelves as much as possible (that's where the processed foods are.) I know that's hard with kids.


This comment comes from many years of working in market research. I'm not trying to minimize the fact that it's harder for you than for non-ADHD people. I appreciate your perspective.

Miss Behaven's picture

  You are right! They also


You are right! They also plan how to make malls and stores desinged in such a way that its hard to find your way out, or so that you have to move down every aisle or concourse too. ugh!

sapphyre's picture

I shop at Aldi - less choices!

I'm in Australia. Aldi has been growing and growing here, because they're home brand products are premium quality and priced at the same price as the lower quality generic brands in the major supermarket chains.

There is usually only one brand to choose from! Shopping is super fast, I love it!


I just went there this afternoon. Wanted to get two items, ended up doing a week's worth of shopping because the prices were so low. You're right about the choices except I had to choose between frozen meat at cheaper prices and the same cuts only fresh for more. Some things I like they don't have but you can save a lot of money and time.

That must be why I love Trader Joe's in the US!

Never thought of it as to why I am such a fan, but Trader Joe's in the US has small stores and they stock pretty much only their brand, which is top-notch and inexpensive.  Cozy, comfortable relaxed stores.  Hmmm...may be on to something here...

Noisy, bright, imposing

Thanks! I only visit limited aisles in the grocery store: the produce, dairy, and meat--and the flowers.  All the packaging contains, mostly combinations of oil, salt, sugar, and preservatives., it is extremely difficult to adjust to anyone who DOES survive on frozen pizza and chocolate donuts from the Twinkies aisle.

Ditto. It is difficult to filter the flashy noisy advertising.. not the power of suggestion, but the imposition on my sense of serenity and propriety.


"What folks may not understand is while we seem thoughtless, we are actually buried in thought, drowning in thought, suffocating in thought."

That's it in a nutshell. I'm glad to have found this site so I can learn more about this disorder in myself, which I recognized years ago but haven't done anything about except to self-medicate with herbs and supplements (they work, but I'm not consistent enough about taking them). What brought it to the fore, and made me realize I have to act, is the combination of barely making it out of grad school with my sanity intact, and having my son go through a miserable first grade because he simply cannot pay attention to the work he's being asked to do. I believe my husband is also ADD, but he has much better coping skills than I do, and I need to take responsibility for my own mind and how it works (or doesn't).

Thank you for your eloquent post.

Taking responsibility is that major first step

The irony is once ADD is confirmed there is an overwhelming amount of information and treatments available, moreso than perhaps other disorders since this one is still very much unknown.  We get buried in options and of course subsequently shut down.  I have used a few techniques though which have helped.  One of more helpful has been to prompt myself audially when I need to do something i.e., "You need to leave now!  You're going to be late!"  "Grab the mail and don't forget your keys!"  "For goodness sakes go and get in the car and go to the store!"  "Just file those papers already!"  "Take the garbage out; just do it!"  Saying it out loud and using my name in the command pushes me out the door or gets my task done (in fact I am currently yelling at myself to wrap this up so I don't miss a train I need to catch  ("finish up! finish up!").  I love your last line though:  taking responsibility for your own head.  Once you acknowledge its their and commit yourself to finding ways to cope and adjust--this never fixes, it's only ever treated--it will take the pressure off of everyone, especially yourself.

some practical stuff

The practical stuff:

I drove my poor wife crazy in the early days of our marriage when I kept losing my keys.  Some folks solve this by putting a hook by the door that they have to train themselves to put the keys on each time they come in.  I've learned to keep them always in the same pocket, and I check my pocket each time I go through a door.  That way, if I've left them somewhere, they're always in the room I'm about to leave, so at least it's a limited search area.

For the grocery store or similar repetitive tasks, I find it helpful to schedule them at exactly the same time in each day, or each week.  Often I will do something out of habit that I couldn't otherwise get myself to remember otherwise.  (Although I agree that grocery stores are hell -- too many choices, too many options, too many decisions.)

I don't know if reminders are good or bad.  Sometimes it really aggravates me when my wife reminds me of stuff, because I feel like a naughty child.  Other times, I'm really grateful that she's helped me avoid overlooking something important.  I suspect the difference is that I'm grateful when she's reminded me of something I actually care about, but if she's just pushing me to do things that I never really wanted to do, that's another story.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that I have to take my share of life's tedious chores, but it's just more difficult.

Pink's picture

You should be thanking us for

You should be thanking us for the "reminder". The reminder come in many type of form. Bad, okay, good one and super good. They are all "reminder". I reminding you that you forgot to take your jacket or the bill. OH sorry I remind you not to be late again. They are all reminder. If you guys pick not reminder... than we should back off when all the reminder! what do you think?

I'm wary of sentences

I'm wary of sentences containing the word "should", as in "you should be thanking us for the reminder."  That phrase strikes me as implying that there's some rule book out there to which every marriage must conform.  My own belief is that there's no such thing as a right marriage, except that a right marriage is basically satisfying to both spouses involved. I would consider a wrong marriage as one in which one or both spouses are persistently unhappy.

That was my larger point about reminders. I don't believe they're always bad, or always good.  A reminder that helps me accomplish things I consider worthwhile is welcome. A reminder that pushes me to do things I don't consider worthwhile isn't welcome. 

Pink's picture

I think ADD people are having

I think ADD people are having a problem with the word "Should" because it represent "responsibility" that is their weakness.  Okay let change the word to make it more soft to you, how about "respect" ?Will that be better? Respect the wife when they do remind you of things that you have a weakness of reminding to do yourself.

There are lots of things that have to be done

Admittedly, you might not care if the laundry is done until you find yourself unable to go to work because you have no clean clothes. Maybe you don't want to be reminded to do laundry but if the other spouse has to remind you, isn't that better than going to work in dirty clothes or not at all? Lots of things have to be done (laundry, dishes, putting out the trash) that you may not consider worthwhile but they have to be done! Should the other partner in a marriage have to do them all because you don't consider them worthwhile? That's what my husband thinks and it's very hard for me.

Pink's picture

To be honest... I have done

To be honest... I have done that with my husband... he has his own walking closet with all his clothes all over the floor.. and wear them winkle. He doesn't seem to care.  But it is embarrassment for me with walk with him like that. He doesn't care that I am embarrass of him wearing winkle clothes.  The outsider will look at me the wife made him like that. Not him.

OK, for the record, I don't

OK, for the record, I don't think my ADHD gets me a pass from carrying my share of the responsibilities of earning a living, keeping the house in order, raising the children, managing the finances, preparing for the holidays, maintaining social relationships, taking care of elderly relatives, meeting religious obligations, and/or all the other normal business of marriage and family life.  I also don't think it gives me the right to ignore my wife's feelings, or to unilaterally impose some way of living that completely drives her crazy.  Does the ADHD make family obligations more difficult to accomplish?  Sure, but that's just the price I pay for failing to check my father's DNA before choosing him as a parent.  Just because stuff is difficult doesn't mean I get to escape doing it, whether at home, at work, or in other relationships.  Sometimes everybody has to accept stuff they don't like just because that's the price of living peacefully with those they care about.

All I'm trying to say is that such give and take goes both ways.  Both partners in a good marriage make concessions and receive concessions.  I accept my wife's quirks and she accepts mine.  I change where I can to make her happier, and she changes where she can to make me happier.  Hopefully the result of all that is we both move towards a middle place where we can both live together comfortably. 

So many of the posts here seem to argue for or against an extreme position.  Either the ADHD partner has to "fix" themselves (never mind that they may not be completely able to do so) or they are completely without responsibility for their condition (never mind that there are many things they can do to minimize the condition).  I have ADHD, and have had it since childhood.  I do what I can to minimize its effects on my own life and the lives of those I love.  I can't completely eliminate all those effects, so I try to accept without shame what remains, and I hope my wife and kids will forgive what I cannot change.  Is there no option where I'm responsible for what I control, but not for what I don't?  Why so extreme in either direction? 


I think you are reasonably wary of the statement that you should always be thankful for reminders.  

However, I'd like to point out--after having lived with an ADHD partner for a few years--that your significant other may not always know when reminders are important or will be a nuisance.   Sometimes I give reminders, sometimes I hold back when I don't think they are welcome.  Sometimes I'm wrong about whether or not I should say something.  I don't want to nag or to be telling my husband what to do all the time but there is definitely a balance there and it's not always easy to know when to speak up or not.  

Did he forget to do laundry or was he just being lazy?  We can all let things slide occasionally and he certainly got by ok as an adult before we met; I know he's not going to totally fall apart.  Then again, sometimes he really forgot and would welcome a reminder, so... 


That's fair.  I once read an article about dieting where the author said that people committed to a diet appreciate their spouse nudging them towards healthy eating and away from junk food, but those who hadn't committed to a diet were resentful.  I think reminders for ADD folks work the same way.  If I perceive the reminder as helping me towards a goal that my wife and I have agreed upon, then it's welcome.  If I'm just being reminded to pursue her agenda without any prior agreement, then it just feels like nagging.  Now, granted, that distinction may not work for your spouse, and even if it does, you may not always know which side of the line you're on at any given moment.  I suppose all you can do is talk it over and try to understand each other as well as possible.


I couldn't agree more. One of the greatest reason people experience 'Failure' is 'Expectation'. Change the expectation you change the outcome. This doesn't mean giving up on what you need or want, simply adjust it. The trick to this of course is knowing what your expectations are. :)

Can you tell me? When you do get ticked off with some of the advice or what ever, do you blame your spouse for making you feel that way? Or are you aware that it is your own intolerance at that point?  How does she react to you?

You sound as if you are managing your relationship in a similar way to myself and my husband, I would be interested to  hear more of your insights. Thank you for your input thus far.

Bingo! This is us...

Wow!  Both my husband and I have been in despair because our marriage is so contentious.  I'm always angry, he's always defensive and/or angry in response.  He was diagnosed with ADD about 8 years ago (at the age of 55!), shortly before we got married.  He takes meds, but it's no miracle cure.  Until I read an article about Melissa in the NYT this week, I had no idea that ADHD marriages tend to follow a pattern similar to ours.  I am actually relieved - neither of us is a nutcase, we *just* have a fairly typical ADHD marriage.  Here's the irony - I began a totally new career about 4 years ago after years in the corporate world - I now teach special education, and many of my students have ADD/ADHD.  I'm a good teacher and am successful at helping my students learn to deal with the aspects of their ADD/ADHD that make school difficult for them - lack of organization, poor time management, incomplete assignments, distractibility, etc.  I love my job! BUT - I'm no good at dealing with my husband.  I just get frustrated and angry.

My husband is a wonderful person with many good qualities - He is extremely bright, very funny, a super musician, not the least bit cynical, kind and compassionate, handsome, and has maintained friendships with a number of very nice people for more than 30 years, just to name a few.  But I often feel that there is only one adult in our relationship, and that's me.  In my more lucid and less angry moments I can see how he has struggled with his ADD for so many years, and how it's affected every aspect of his life.  Most of the time, though, I'm angry and not very lucid!  My husband's string of broken promises to me about things he intends to do have undermined my trust in him and my respect for him.  A particular trigger for me is - over and over - having my husband waste time and procrastinate and then use lack of time as a reason that he can't fulfill an obligation.  It makes me want to scream...and I do. :( 

Ok, enough venting - I really just wanted to post to say that learning about ADHD marriages has taken a load off my shoulders.  My husband and I agree that his ADD and my reaction to it are at the root of our problems.  I am now hopeful that we can find our way to a better relationship.  I'm sure it won't be easy, but at least now we know where to start.  Thank you.

thanks for your note

Your response is exactly why I wrote this book and have been writing about this on the internet for these past couple of years.  You now have a different way to look at your relationship and will have new tools to improve it.  Very satisfying for you and for me to know there is hope!

Any way beyond the anger?

I'm struck by how many of the posts here are from spouses rather than people with ADHD, and how many of the spouses sound so angry.  I can understand that.  While I have ADHD myself, I also have two children with ADHD, and my son can really drive me crazy at times, for the same reason most of you mention.  He simply fails to follow-through on so much of what he's promised, and I get exhausted trying to follow around and clean up all the mess. 

Does anybody have any wisdom about how to live differently so that the non-ADHD spouse isn't so angry all the time, without requiring that the ADHD somehow gets magically cured?

managing anger

There is a very good book about anger called The Dance of Anger.  In it, the author states that "anger is inevitable as long as you are going along and giving in" rather than living a life that is fulfilling for you.  Unfortunately, your getting the ADHD under control (which admittedly can be very hard to do) is critical for your wife's experience.  As long as she is very badly affected by your symptoms she will continue to live a life in which she feels she is slave to your ADHD.

My husband told me once that there are three steps to turning your marriage around:

  1. learn you have ADHD
  2. learn how much your ADHD impacts your spouse
  3. do something about it

By far the hardest, he believes, is the second.  I would actually agree.  I told him for years that I was completely miserable and he still didn't understand that my misery AT LEAST matched his misery.  It took him a long, long time to comprehend what my life looked like as I tried to compensate for the ADHD symptoms he did not yet fully control.

Your wife also must come to terms with the role that her anger plays in your life, which is very hard to do as well.  You know how bad her anger feels to you, and how it makes you want to run and hide from her or fight back (fight or flight under attack).  It took me a long time to understand that my anger was only hurting me and that I needed to get it under control in the same way that my husband needed to get his ADHD under control.

This process is laid out nicely in The Dance of Anger as well as in my own book, coming out soon.

Hope this helps - and best of luck to you.



Reading my story on this comments; follow up

Dear all,

This saturday I saw a note in a newspaper website regarding Melissa´s findings on ADD and marriage and following the link I appeared here and I have been reading the comments left on several sections since then.

I happened to find that part of my story as a couple with my husband is here. We met almost 9 years ago, dated for less than 1 year and then we moved together; after 4 years and a half of a great life and plenty of plans and dreams, he made me the marriage proposal and we get married. 3 months after the wedding, his started to be on "his world", reacting with anger after any comment, and leaving me each second more lonely than the one before. He had never been "that man" in the five years we stayed together before, and I started to think that he was acting that way because he stopped loving me, but I could not understand why after only 3 months of the most beautiful day in our lives.

At that time he started an individual therapy that still maintains but I really feel that has not been of help: for example, ADD has never been a word mentioned. We tried a marriage therapy early in the beginings that was not of help and another one 1 year ago that was more "questioning" but he was unable to maintain and give up. We tried several things, even travelling to Europe to "finding one with each other" but when we came back, now 1 month ago, he expressed that ending the marriage was the decision he wanted to take and we are now 1 month separated.

I can not say he did not try, but I have been always thinking that he should have tried harder (reading these comments I am finding that may be there is a cause for the "why" he couldn´t meet my expectations about "harder"). I always thought about his lack of commitment and thinking that may be he was "looking forward to understanding" what marriage is, and those things; always complaining about his lack of commitment, his distraction with the facebook, playstation, forums, complaining why their friends were most important than me (because it was obvious that in his relationship with them he was always proactive, funny or good-humored and not with me), complaining why everything was left "half-done" and a lot of things more. In contrast, he has never got distracted from his work and he is brilliant at that point (although he forgets to do some things or he leaves things to do in the last minute, but not in terms of un-care or irresponsibility).

I have joked with him in some opportunities saying him that he had a "ADD" (and being totally ignorant of the extent of this condition; please understand me) because of those moments when he forgot something we had to do, or something we had talked or any other thing. In other occasions I thought he was depressed due to his lack of willing to do things, but he never took my comments seriously, meaning: accepting to do something with them.

I really do not know if there is any chance now, I am worried about him and I mentioned this to him and suggested him to look for a psychiatric assessment or to change his therapy without success; I am worried because I noticed him depressed but to be honest, I do not feel hope since he only thinks that he did things wrong and that after 3 years, there is no chance to recover our relationship, even feeling sorry about me.

Nevertheless, I have found a possible answer to my "why", an answer that I have not consider before and, alone or together, might be of help for him... because I can not forget how much I loved or how much I still love him.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences, at least for me have been of great help.



Post Note: after reading some new comments I am wondering if being hyperfocus in one area (as my husband is with his work) and being distracted for marriage and other things from daily life are compatible with ADHD...? Can someone advise?

Thank you again,



How to live differently

I'd like to start by telling you that I appreciate your posts in this blog.  I actually had to re-read and check dates, and verify it wasn't me posting by pseudonym.  Very surreal.

I'm by no means a master of solutions here.  There's no "fix", rather it's an ongoing struggle.  Here's what I can come up with.

  • Helping others (meekly) can help yourself because you can turn the advice around easier than making advice directly for yourself.
  • Take a break, away from the computer and other distractions as necessary when you feel distracted, avoidant, frustrated, or an argument becomes too heated.
  • Limit access to distractions, especially when on any sort of time budget.  This is extra difficult with how in-grained computers have become for so many functions.  Anything you can do to forcibly limit your access to distractions is a help.
  • Set yourself up to succeed in critical tasks.  Prioritizing helps.  This is vague and everyone says to do it.  What is important vs not important?  It's all so important, right now!

    Well, if it affects your ability to have food, water, shelter, or love, then it's important.  Everything else, no matter how important it seems, whether it will be great to get it off of your list, is really not that important.

    Now, you have this short list of important things but you keep avoiding them.  Well, set it up where avoiding that thing blocks you from doing the things you WANT to do.  This can help you tap into hyperfocus energy to get things done that NEED to be done.

    To help you not feel like you're giving up something important for for everything else, make a separate list, maybe a notepad document.  You can keep putting things in there, and close it.  When you remember to check, you can look, and you'll find that so many of those things end up being deleted 6 months later because you no longer care.
  • For conversations which routinely turn sour, take notes and/or make recordings.  This will help you see objectively some of the loops and traps you set for yourself.  "Why did I say that?  That's not how I feel about this."
  • Sometimes doing what you were avoiding will help make the apology easier.
  • Always have planned fun in small packets.  It's easy to get lost in the pile of things, all of which give you some minor sense of accomplishment, but which aren't fun, and may or may not be important.  Having had fun recently will help you buckle down with the less fun things.
  • Find ways to make productive/important tasks fun.  This is tough and easy to get lost in the process, but you know, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you will make the best of it.  So if you find some way to make a game of it, or enjoy it, it will help you get past the task-swapping, gear-shifting, can't-stop-what-I'm-doing phase, as well as the "I'm just knocking these 7 tiny things off of my list, except while I was researching a solution, I saw this reference to a cool thing that I looked up on Amazon, which reminded me I needed to order some socks, but I couldn't find the brand I like....".  Stop.  Reset.  How can your core task be made important enough to your inner self that it matches its life-based importance?
  • As has been said above, metrics help.  A list can be a metric, as long as you keep it short.  If you have 5 things to do, great.  If you have 20, then you'll get lost in the list, and organizing the list...  So maybe pick one or two things you can call accomplishments for the day and get them done.  Even better is if you can get the week's worth of stuff done by Tuesday, you feel less bad about being out of focus Wed and Thu.
Linsy's picture

Amazed recognition

Yup, this is my marriage of 23 years, and our youngest aged 9 has only just, in spite of lots of professional interventions, had ADHD potentially diagnosed. Which is what started me looking at the same thing in his father, which I knew nothing about. Then I came across this, and it EXACTLY describes the desperate mess my marriage is in. Thank you so much, I feel hope for the first time in years.


Being diagnosed with both ADHD and depression, I was 6 for 6 with these comments. However, it is too late in my circumstance. My divorce is final and she resents me for years of mental cruelty and not doing enough to seek assistance through her or on my own. It is only now I realized all of this. I am  in love with her even more now that I have stepped up therapy, medication, and self-help. The picture is clear, I see what I did wrong, and I am on the road to recovery. We are very much in each other's lives with children involved. I was a fool for leaving and it has taken months to see reality. There may be some hope for us to rekindle the flame in a few years. I want no other. I see and think about her too much. Maybe that feeling will wear off. There is nothing in particular about her. It is just her. Thanks for this information. I have been on this website numerous times and it has helped me see the light. I am getting stronger. Maybe it is her loss down the road.

It is a long road...

Disclosing my bias - Non-ADHD spouse here.  First, sincere congratulations on your diagnoses and the work you're putting into it.

Could your statements about your ex-wife be a result of a renewed hyper-focus that is common to those with ADHD?  It took a long time for things to turn out this way, so it will take the same to put it back - if possible. 

I must admit that your comment about it possibly being her loss down the road struck a nerve with me.  You describe yourself as obsessing over her while she justifiably resents you for years of mental cruelty and neglect, after which you left.  She has already tried and lost everything with you, so how can she lose anything down the road?  I can only imagine how you could react if she doesn't rekindle with you or, much worse, she decides to move on with someone else. 

All you really owe each other is enough of a quality acquaintance to get the children through this.   If you can somehow inspire anything more than that between you two, I suggest that you eternally treat it as an amazing gift. 

Wow my sister in law gave me

Wow my sister in law gave me the article out of the New York Times because she new her sister and myself were having real serious problems in our marriage for over 30 years. Yea guy's I'M the one with ADHD AND IT SUCKS!!!! With all the crap I have put my wife through she has stayed the course but she is just about out of energy. After reading this article it just pegged me right on the money. I have had counseling by Christian councilors and it got me no where!!!! they were clueless abut this whole ADHD thing. After reading all the info on this web site I feel better about getting the correct help and treatment now.  Being a Christian it was real hard for me to admit to these kind of treatments but God can work through any Dr. he wants. Christian councilors better get on board with this or the Churches are going to see divorce go through the roof. I have several friends in the same shape I'm in and are about to lose there marriages. My Personal DR. Admitted that there is no telling how many undiagnosed ADHD people at ages 50 plus that are out in the world today. 


I want to thank you for this Website and how it has confirmed things in my on life. I'm far from cured but on my way.       

My husband tried to pray himself out of it

My husband (then my fiance) was having ADD related symptoms at work. He was hanging up on customers. He said he "prayed about it" and assumed that would make it go away. Would you pray about diabetes and then go eat a big piece of cake? The problem for our new marriage was that since he had prayed about it he felt he didn't need to tell me he was hanging up on customers. I would not have married him and given up my alimony if I'd known he would be unable to keep his job. (In a call center, you get automatically fired if they monitor you hang up on a customer, even if it's an accident.) I love him but I'd have been better able to support him if I was bringing more money to the table.

Christian counselors and ministers do not understand this disease. They think praying and "trying harder" fix everything. My analogy to that is that when I went to our minister when my first husband started beating me, they brought him in and said "Now, ......, you can't do that any more." Of course that didn't stop him and I eventually left him. No more can a counselor tell him "Now stop doing that" and he will work, help with the chores and emotionally connect with me.

Best to avoid self-diagnosis

It can be quite tempting when you're in difficulty to latch on to a medical diagnosis that looks like a lifeline, but I would really caution people against rash self-diagnosis on the basis of a checklist.  I'm a little alarmed that after reading such a list so many people seem absolutely convinced they have a disorder that in practice is actually somewhat difficult to diagnose, even for professionals -- often precisely because the high rates of erroneous self-diagnosis so frequently complicate the clinician's task.

I suspect there's something wishful in this: I fear too many people may be looking for a one-stop "answer" to their problems and are jumping to the conclusion that they "have it" because "having it" would explain a great many of their life's difficulties, and because the diagnosis might hold out a potential solution.  But inattention, poor concentration, low mood, irritability, procrastination, difficulty completing tasks, forgetfulness, losing things and so on can come from a variety of causes.  It's extremely important if you have these symptoms that you approach a trained healthcare professional with them, and that you be honest about your symptoms and not tailor them so that they will fit a diagnosis that might make your life's difficulties make more sense.  It can feel like a relief to have a label to put on your problems, and, paradoxically, it can also be a great disappointment if it turns out you "don't have it".  But wrong diagnosis is worse than any such disappointment.  It's true that it might take time to find a doctor sufficiently knowledgeable about adult ADHD to take the problem seriously, but there is fine line between such a search and counterproductive doctor-shopping to get the diagnosis you want.

Please remember that ADHD does not suddenly develop at age 30: only about 30-50% of children with ADHD have their symptoms persist into adulthood, which means that the rate among adults is probably less than half that among children, but the feverish rate of self-diagnosis among adults appears to be exploding all out of proportion with what we know about the incidence of the disorder.  In short, if you didn't "have it" as a child, you don't "have it" now.  It may have gone undiagnosed when you were a child -- the older you are, the more likely that is -- but adult symptoms of recent onset are very unlikely to be ADHD. If there was no marked interference with your school performance from symptoms commonly associated with ADHD (even if they were not recognized as such), there is almost no chance ADHD is your problem.

Rates of Adult ADHD - correction to post

I agree that self-diagnosis of ADHD isn't a good idea, in part because for those who really do have ADHD there is a very high incidence of also having something else that should also be addressed.  Fully 80% of adults who are diagnosed with ADHD will have some other mental health issue at some point in their life.  These issues include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety and ODD.

The overall rate of ADHD in the population using the strictest criteria is 5%.  Using broader criteria (i.e. same symptoms, but a broader reading of them) some early studies put the figure as high as 16%.  The number of people who continue to have ADD from childhood into adulthood varies, depending upon the criteria used (do you count those who are in the group between the 5% and 16%, for example?  Do you use information that is self-reported or reported by a clinician or spouse?).  Dr. Hallowell uses a figure of 20-30% either outgrow or learn to manage symptoms effectively by adulthood.  Other estimates range from 14% of those diagnosed with hyperactive ADHD are considered "fully recovered" by adulthood (Barkley et al) to about 36% (also Barkley).  In other words, your 30-50% number for persisting into adulthood is quite a bit too optimistic.

Furthermore, there is evidence that adults with ADHD gain incremental issues (mentioned above) that children often don't experience.  This makes sense - after a lifetime of struggling to manage ADHD symptoms some portion of adults will become depressed or anxious simply because of the unpredictability of their lives.

It is likely that when reading this blog you feel as if everyone is suddenly saying they may have ADHD - but remember that this site "self-selects" for people who might have ADHD.  If you don't have the symptoms it's unlikely you would spend time coming here.



unanticipated diagnoses

While my wife has been undergoing treatment for related issues over the past year, and has notedly decreased PFC activity, we did not really consider it as full-on ADHD, through now I am wondering if that wasn't at the root 30+ years ago. The anxiety, obsessiveness, and extreme mood swings and negativity seemed to top the list. It has been especially camouflaged by her uncanny ability to notice what she believes are ADD traits in others and judge them harshly. Is this common?

How difficult is it for someone to submit to treatment for something they deny they have? Even as the yelling and silent treatment have subsided over the months, all the other symptoms are rising to the surface as the ones that are the most frustrating. Unable to keep track of what it takes to take care of the kids (5 & 6... we're pretty sure the older one suffers from it too), it is becoming harder and harder to manage their growth and teach priorities amidst the chaos.

Self diagnosis

Trying to understand if my husband suffers from ADHD, similar to but not self-diagnosis.  You say "If there was no marked interference with your school performance from symptoms commonly associated with ADHD (even if they were not recognized as such), there is almost no chance ADHD is your problem".  Well, my husband did get a PhD in mathematics in his 20s, without, according to him, any problems.  Do you think that eliminates ADHD as a possible cause of the procrastination, forgetfulness, inability to take on responsibility, difficulty concentrating, lack of organization, temper tantrums, poor social/communication skills, low self-esteem etc?

Yes, he has other problems--like SAD, poor sleeping and depression (for which he takes meds).  When I first read about ADHD, I asked him to ask his psychiatrist (not a talk to one, but a presription giving one) if that could be causing the problems.  The reply was 'Maybe, but since you're already taking Wellbutrin for depression, you're all right'--apparently this is the second most popular med for ADHD after Ritalin--according to the doc.


I did get him to a sleep clinic, and turns out he has sleep apnea, but not quite seriously enough to wear a mask.  I've also encouraged him to go to a couple of MBSR courses (one with cognitive therapy for depression).  He feels he has the depression under control 50-75% now.  He stopped the Wellbutrin, and says he feels better for not taking it, though it is more difficult to focus.  I think he is on some other anti-depressant now.  Since he only has 1/2 hour appointments every month or so, I don't think the shrink realizes what's going on apart from the depressed mood.


I also got him to ask his GP for a memory test, in case he had early on-set Alzheimer's.  But he came out with flying colours: memory is excellent.  So why the hell can't he remember from moment to moment what he's doing?  That's when I assumed it was not a memory problem, but an attention problem, and researched MBSR courses, which have helped a bit.


He has mostly stopped yelling at me, and throwing temper tantrums once he realized how much these upset me (I had an extremely abusive father, as did he).  It took a long time and he worked really hard at it, and we're both really proud that he was able to stop that.


So you see, I have to do the research on what would help.  People in a support group he belonged a while back arranged originally for him to see a therapist for the depression.  He's not good at all at taking the initiative.


He has said that he would be willing to go for an ADHD test, but I understand that it is quite expensive (in the Cdn$1000 range) and not covered by our government health insurance.  He also says that he's managed for almost 70 years, so why the fuss.  Unfortunately I suffer from all the exhaustion and frustration other spouses have expressed on this site, and am finding it very difficult to carry on.  I do get very angry at him, but have tried to adopt a "so deal with what life throws at you" attitude, and that helps.  At least I manage to keep my mouth closed if I'm angry, so that I don't say something I'll regret.  My health is suffering--last year I was sick for 4 months (doc said I was "run down")--and I'm beginning to feel the same paralysis this year.


If it would help to get an "official" diagnosis, I'm sure we can come up with the money even though we're retired.


Thanks for any more thoughts on this subject.

Re: Self diagnosis

Naturally I'm going to avoid offering an opinion about someone I haven't met, but some symptoms must have been present prior to the age of seven to qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD.  The rub, of course, is that they may have been present without being detected, which is the reason for the focus on developmental history in arriving at a diagnosis.  But as dropout rates from both high school and university are substantially higher for people with ADHD, school completion all the way to a doctoral degree without incident would be considered uncommon.  It's always possible, of course, that in choosing math he self-sorted for a pursuit in which hyperfocus would be a benefit and any problems went undetected.  Marked inconsistency in school performance -- exceptional proficiency in one area (math) and unexplained below-average performance in others -- might be a clue. On the whole, though, I'd bet against ADHD in this case -- but that's not much better than a guess.

Could you confirm that his thyroid function has been evaluated to eliminate hypothyroidism as a potential cause?  You mention that he is approaching 70: he may wish to consider asking his doctor to have his levels of bioavailable testosterone (Bio-T) tested.  Late-onset hypogonadism shares several symptoms with ADHD and is underdiagnosed and undertreated.  Depending on what province you're in, you may need to pay out-of-pocket for a Bio-T test, but it's not much more than $50 if I recall.

Also don't neglect yourself.  Consider consulting your own doctor to see if she or he thinks a referral to a mental health professional would benefit you in dealing with his difficulties.

Hope this helps.

With all due respect . . .

While I find some truth in what you say, you are neglecting one important symptom: hyperfocus in general (not just in maths, the sciences, etc.--not even just in schooling). Specifically, many ADDers have this ability to hyperfocus on what they want or want to do, regardless of whether this affects someone else (spouse, children, etc.) positively or negatively.

There are many stories out there of ADD spouses who hyperfocused on their careers, schooling, hobbies, etc. and did fairly well--if not extremely well--in those areas, often to the neglect of others, and those around them. There are many ADDers out there who have extremely successful careers . . . and horrible, chaotic personal lives.

>>>school completion all the way to a doctoral degree without incident would be considered uncommon<<<

I'm not sure where you're getting this. There are actually a fair number of ADDers out there whose lives are evidence against this statement, and I personally know more than a few (in the liberal arts, the performing arts, etc.--and hardly subjects that you think would "attract" ADDers). Again, there are ADD individuals who can hyperfocus on school and do quite well, as far as they're directly concerned, "without incident." But if you look at their personal lives--marriages, friendships, etc.--you'll often find some extremely unhappy spouses, friends, etc. who have stormed off in utter frustration. Ask many of these people, and they'll tell you that they feel as though they've been forgotten, neglected, ignored, and used. This doesn't happen through malice on the part of the ADDer (usually), but simply because that ADDer can't "see" beyond school, career, hobby, whatever. Anything outside the scope of the hyperfocus was hidden from view, as if the person were wearing blinders.

I get the impression that there are also a number of people who have completed higher degrees *with* incident, but there are differences in, shall we say, reporting. Whether the degree was obtained with or without incident is dependent upon who you would ask--the ADDer ("no") and the spouse/family ("yes"). Often, the damage is greater to those close to the ADDer than to the ADDer him or herself. There are reasons why ADD therapy often consists of sessions with the spouse--it's to judge whether or not the ADDer is accurately reporting the situation (again, not consciously "lying" otherwise--they simply cannot "see" everything that their actions and inactions affect).

BTW, Dr. Hallowell has ADD. If the title is anything to go by, he was able to complete a doctoral degree. ;)

With all due respect

Thanks also for your post.  I still think that ADD may be a possibility.  I'm going to buy "Delivered from Distraction" and give to my husband to read, and see whether he finds it useful.  This will take a while as he always has several books on the go, and in the meantime, will suggest that he have the medical test.  He is much less defensive now that he realizes that I'm not criticising him, blaming him or telling him that he's defective in some way.  He has been told that his whole life. And yes, the personal life in chaos strikes home.  I'm wife number 3, though that's not so unusual these days. 

Pink's picture

How do you get test for ADD?

How do you get test for ADD? or ADHD?

My husband have ADD and now My son have ADHD. I don't see an improvement on them. My husband tell me there is no test. The doctor just ask you a few question and that it.  I am worry about my son. He is going to be 7 years old and he only weight 40 he med make him not hungry. He is a small eater as well. He eat a small amount and he doesn't like to eat junk food. He tell me I don't want to be fat. I know the med side effect but how can I test him for ADHD. The doctor said oh... your husband have it and my son doesn't listen to order and day dream in class... okay give him this med. he has ADHD.

I don't think this is right. One doctor send him for a brain's scan and everything was normal. What other test can he take?

Re: With all due respect . . .

I didn't say that it was impossible, merely atypical.  I know from personal experience that AD(H)D is not incompatible with attaining advanced degrees.  However, it is also true that students with ADHD leave high school without graduating at about double the rate of their non-ADHD peers.  The percentage of people with ADHD who are college graduates is less than one-third that of people without the disorder.  The percentage who then go on to complete advanced or professional degrees is correspondingly smaller.

Subtype as a factor

I get the impression that it often comes down to subtype, but it's more of a statistical tangle than can be relayed by black-and-white (or even dark gray) facts or opinions, pro or con whichever stance you happen to take.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong (Melissa? Arwen?), but I get the impression that subtype inattentives have a stronger ability to hyperfocus than do subtype hyperactive/impulsives. I can't recall where I've read this, and I don't have the time at present to go scanning through books and websites to find it.

For instance, among my friends and colleagues who have ADD, off the top of my head, I know a professional chef, a minister (with *three* graduate degrees, plus divinity school on top of that), several computer programmers, a high-level administrator in a school system, a teacher, a couple of executive-level individuals in arts administration, a successful visual artist, two college professors, two VPs in different businesses, a psychiatrist . . . the list goes on. Out of all of the above, almost all of them have been divorced at least once. Only five are currently married. Two of those are on the brink of divorce. All but two of the total, IIRC, are subtype inattentive.

comparative educational outcomes

There are indeed suggestions of variability by subtype, though the results of studies in this area are mixed. However, such evidence as there is suggests that inattentives actually tend to be more likely to be viewed as below average or failing in school than combined types. They also have lower rates of high school graduation, though the difference is not enormous. Comparisons of rates of college graduation are not useful because the low rate of college completion in both types renders the sample size too small to afford confident comparisons. Nevertheless, the differences are sufficient to raise the possibility that there may be comparatively higher rates of LD comorbidity among inattentives.

That said, both groups still have significantly lower rates of both high school and (even more pronounced) college completion than their non-ADHD peers.

A flaw among such studies is that they typically exclude anyone with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, so the comparison group is, if you like, "better than normal." Even so, and in spite of admittedly encouraging examples of exceptions, the statistical trends are pretty unmistakable.

May I ask . . .

. . . if you are married to or are the parent of an ADDer, have been diagnosed as one yourself (or suspected), or are a medical and/or mental health practitioner who specializes in their treatment?

These questions are not meant to poke you with a sharp stick, so to speak--I'm merely trying to discern why you are posting here, and from whence you are drawing your information.

In other words, perhaps you should introduce yourself? This *is* a forum for those affected by ADD, after all, where they may share their personal stories and seek support and guidance. One can only assume that you are here for one of those reasons, and not to nip in, tell us that in your scientific opinion one or more of us is horribly wrong (no matter what our own research and personal experiences may say to the contrary), and nip back out again--since that's not particularly helpful to any of us, is it? I also ask partially because I'm reading very black-and-white and (for lack of a better word) antiseptic thinking in your posts. I'm going to assume that this is not how you mean to come across, but you don't strike me as a spouse whose life has been wounded by an ADDer, or as someone who has had significant and close personal contact with one. Again, I'm not saying that this is what you are--merely that this is how you are coming across.

Re: May I ask . . .

I disagree that I've said or implied that anyone is "horribly wrong," and what you characterize as antiseptic I prefer to view as neutral and professional.  For a variety of reasons I decline to identify myself beyond what I have already said, namely that I know from personal experience that ADHD is not always incompatible with advanced degrees. Beyond that, as I've contributed nothing so far but material drawn from peer-reviewed publications, I'm pleased to let the information speak for itself.  If you think it would be helpful, I'd be happy to add published references for any claim I make in the future.

But I note that others are allowed contribute without being called upon to reveal more about themselves than they wish to.  I'd like to be permitted the same freedom.

Freedom is, of course, encouraged :o)

But there's no need to get all huffy. I was merely asking "why are you here?" and "what are your sources?" ("peer-reviewed publications" isn't much help--there are hundreds out there on just about as many topics, and you'll find that it's not exactly unheard of here for a poster to back up their claims with sources).

The assumption is that you're here to receive or offer some sort of support. I'm sorry if your life has been touched by ADD. Most of us on this board have had, and continue to have, difficult journeys because of it, and if this is the case for you as well, then you have my sympathies. But you seem to have some anger and defensiveness going on. I'm going to assume that it has nothing to do with me, per se, but that perhaps I've hit a nerve, and I am sorry if I may have unwittingly upset you. This back-and-forth seems counter-productive for each of us, and probably isn't doing much for the folks following this thread either, so I'm not going to post further in response.

I wish you well, and hope you find what you're looking for, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Take care. :o)


I agree that this has become counterproductive, but I disagree that I have been "huffy"; I am neither angry nor defensive: that's simply a misattribution, one that could be avoided by simply taking what your interlocutor offers at face value rather than using it as the basis for drawing (erroneous) inferences about emotional states.  I've come here to share what I know, from a variety of perspectives, on issues touching the subject of this site in case it might help someone.  That's all.

Self diagnosis

Thanks so much for responding.


I will definitely suggest that my husband asks for this test.  If it's a condition that only affects older people, I don't think it is the underlying problem, as he was showing all the symptoms, plus more, when I first knew him over 25 years ago (early 40s).  Then, it was quite intriguing to be with someone whose mind worked so differently from mine.


And I appreciate your attention to my health.  I do go to a therapist every couple of weeks, and that does help me stay sane.  Actually it was she who suggested that my husband may have either ADD or Aspergers from my description of his behaviour, though since she has only met him once she obviously does not really know.


Even if he does not have ADD, funnily enough I do find reading posts on this site very helpful as the symptoms are so eerily similar, even if the cause is different.  And it helps to keep me compassionate.  As he has suffered from other people's criticism his whole life because he 'doesn't fit in', I don't want to add to the burden.


Thanks again.

Hypr1's picture

Bio-T and me

I am not even sure if I really want to mention this. But in case someone gets some help from it that will be good enough for me. My wife woke me up (so to speak) in December by announcing that WE will go to marriage counseling. Being ADHD it was a shock, even though I clearly remember many talks about our decaying relationship over the many months prior. So we are. During our first month into this (and over the holidays which was really really hard on us), I began to see my symptoms of ADHD very clearly. The beaten down depression, the I must be stupid, crazy or lazy that many with ADHD fall into, over years of untreated disease.

Then I got my Testosterone tested. GUESS WHAT... I am way under the low of the low. I'm 53, and way low -- OMG -- I was very upset when I learned this... it to me is hard to talk about and strikes not only at my relationship but at my man-ness (is that a word)! In any case - after being upset I shared this fact with my wife and we both became somewhat relieved. The lack of desire and closeness, lethargy, loss of muscle mass, other things too and the dreaded E.D., (oh geez), also driven by the obvious ADHD symptoms; now seemed to be driven by another factor. OMG OMG OMG!!!! Did I say Oh My God? Yeah, that.

Without hesitation I started hormone replacement therapy this week. It's a daily patch. I may just be having a placebo effect, but I keep a mood log. And the last few days I feel my depression has receeded markedly, my anxiety level -- low which feels really odd to me; so -- I am probably being way to positive about it at this point -- but the Low levels of "T" I have has probably been going on for over 12-15 years. I hope that I am on a path to healing. All I can say is that the test is worth it. If you combine the symptoms of low T with ADHD -- I think that is a freaking hydrogen bomb, to your life, your relationship, etc.... shwew... sorry -- I am hopeful and very positive about it, do I seem that way?!?

Anyway -- later!

Hypr1's picture

;-D W the? ... Bio T and me (further down)

Hey -- check out my post below titled "Bio T and Me". I really meant to post under your comment, but can't change that now -- any way -- I hope you find out about your T!!!

What the ??? Oh crap -- this didn't end up where I thought would -- laughing at myself now.... ;-)

Linsy's picture

Finding that ADHD fits the bill

This is a very good cautionary note. But if on the other hand you look back over a person's life right to the earliest years and see failure at school matched with high IQ, blurting out tactless things that are remembered years later, reckless behaviour, a history of financial stupidity, self medicating, depression etc, and all the very precise effects on a marriage, then I do think that it is worth pursuing a proper diagnosis from a mental health professional and meanwhile reading all the very sensible advice on this forum and elsewhere.

It is a lifelong torment. I managed to get 52 yr old husband's mother to admit she and her husband thought he was stupid and rather gave up on him, instead of noting his high IQ in no way matched his performance at school. Also two sons with many of the symptoms, one very close to diagnosis. Also me, optimistic, strong and joyful, reduced to a wreck by his behaviour. So there we are, compared to the completely daft diagnosis of depression (he kept saying he didn't feel depressed, but I kept coming home thinking he was going to top himself) it makes a great deal of helpful sense. What will happen now I have no idea, but I feel small green shoots of hope.

hockeymom11's picture

Fruitcake: not generalizing

From Faith's post, she is unhappy, unsure and confused.  I"m not generalizing that all people with ADHD are horrible and I specifically said she should NOT give up on the man she loves, but if she doesn't learn how to handle her responses to his behaviors that bother her and he does not admit that there is a dysfunction between the two, then they are setting themselves up for failure. 

I think if you are in the engagement stage and do want to make it work, it is very worthwhile to seek pre-marital counseling.  As a matter of fact I think ALL couples ADD or not should take it.  I wish I had because we all can learn to listen better, communicate better and deal with each others "faults" better. 

This would work better than going into a relationship with anger, confusion and resentment.

That's all I ment.  I wasn't generalizing, I was responding to Faith's post. 

Please don't take this the wrong way, but your tone reminds me of Miss Behaven so I hope this is not another one of her personalities sneaking in here.  If it's not I apologize profusely.

not generalising?

Sorry hockymom11 I was replying to We are NOT horrible people! by JAGPowderhound - 08/13/2010 - 10:32 about generalisation, did I reply the post to you by accident? As an aside I totally agree with you on this one - councelling before marriage is a great idea, but a must if you are going into a relationship where you know there will be health psychological or mental issues, knowledge is power, power to decide for yourself and not become a victim of circumstance and therefore angry. Good call. 

Faith, if you are reading this - do not get married yet. Wait at least a year and live together first, long enough for the hyperfocus to wear off. :D I would have still married my husband then and still would now, ADHD and all!

early child hood


I have read about every comment about ADD and ADHD from these forums and Blogs for a week or so. I would say that the( non ADD people) have a lot to complain about and need to vent. I would say by reading these articles, blogs or forums has help me realize some of my patterns having ADD and how it affects, and hurts my wife but I have a question to Melissa and Ned. Does being brought up in a single parent life style or environment cause or maybe create ADD or ADHD? I grew up in a single parent home and we all had to work to put food on the table to just survive. My Dad left when I was 5 years old and my grandfather raised me or tried to raise me with an iron fist at my early child hood. He grew up in the depression days. He would beat the crap out of me if I did not do a chore the way he said do it but in his defense he always paid me for my work. Got married to a great lady and have two kids that are awesome. My son was diagnosed with a mild case of ADD and has some of my patterns but takes a low MG Concerta but does real well in College and both our kids know we fully support them as they grew up.

My Wife and I are Christians and I have worked alot with kids in Jr. and Sr. High in Church youth groups. The ones I notice in youth groups that seem to have some type ADD or ADHD are ones from broken families and have a real hard time functioning. I'm not a Dr. and it takes just about everything I have to cope with my ADHD but I am seeing real pattern in being brought up in a broken or single parent homes and some of these spouses are incredible single parents. I have told my kids before you get married to anybody find out about how they were brought up.

I would love to know the ratio of the ADD @ ADHD People that the (non ADD OR ADHD people) ARE WRITING ABOUT and VENTING BIG TIME came from single parent situations. Because if we think for a minute that Divorce doesn't affect a kid we are fooling ourselves.  

Pink's picture

I am a married woman and I

I am a married woman and I agree with you divorce do affect kid. My husband with ADD and my son has ADHD and I am working very hard to have a full family. even though my husband doesn't work but I had rather have a farther and a mother together for the kids. I do my best for the kids future. Thank you for your point. I hope people just do not give up and look at your family and the kids not just yourself.

sapphyre's picture

ADHD marriages seem to have a higher failure rate

Hi Richard

ADHD is usually inherited from one or both of the parents. I read somewhere that when the husband is ADHD, and the wife is not, the marriage is more likely to survive. But when the wife is ADHD, and the husband is off, most of these relationships break up.

Upbringing certainly has a lot to do with how you are parented. ADHD kids from loving supportive families with consistent fair parenting will do better. I suspect I am one of these. Also, the severity of the ADHD can vary. I believe I have mild ADHD, but my parents did a great job of bringing me up, so I have lots of automatic coping mechanisms as an adult. My husband was adopted, his parents were nice people but couldn't understand him at all. He has an ADHD diagnosis, and I believe his is severe.

So, in summary, my opinion is that ADHD symptoms will be worse when the person was brought up in an inconsistent environment (which is more likely with a single parent, or an abusive parent, or an emotionally unavailable parent). But this is not because the person's upbringing caused the ADHD, they had it from birth. And of course, if one or both of your parents has ADHD (most likely undiagnosed) it makes it harder for them to be consistent parents.

I would think

the families are broken due to undiagnosed ADD. My father was never diagnosed but mom now thinks he could have been ADD or Bi polar. My sister always had his "personality" and when we found out my husband has ADD I realized that I had walked right into familiar territory without knowing what I was doing. It's the devil I do know I guess... Anyway, as a kid I would beg my mom to divorce my dad and she finally did when we were all grown up and moved out of the house. Finally, after a long time abroad, he had come home with his mistress.

I figure if I had been raised in a more nurturing environment I would not have thought my ADD husband's behavior to seem routine. My father married his mistress and he died abroad leaving all that he had to her. We also found out he was husband number four or five and she was a bit of a black widow.

A single parent situation might have been a relief. Guess I'll never know for sure. I'm not ADD but grew up surrounded by people with undiagnosed behavioral issues. Lot's of anger. No money. I was constantly picked on about nothing like the look on my face, the way that I sat or because I wanted to read a book in bed. I write and vent here because I am validated here. Family, friends, doctors, pastors are unaware of the interactions non ADD spouses face on a daily basis. I have never known people like me anywhere but here.

I hope you continue to make a positive impact in the lives of all those kids out there. They all need something.

Linsy's picture

We all longed for our mother to leave our father too

She eventually left him only when she was dying, and he didn't really seem to notice. And I too walked into familiar territory, thinking I could solve what my mother could not. OF course my father, born so long ago, would never have been diagnosed. It is difficult enough in the UK now with the NHS only acknowledging Adult ADD in 2008.

Hey Tig

We should be encouraged in thinking that there has been some progress made in that we now recognize what is happening in our relationships. I continue to pray that my children will be spared the confusion and heartache that has been and continues to be so pronounced in our lives. I also pray that we have the strength to prevail as our stories are bound to continue, hopefully with happy endings.

Linsy's picture


Loving mine was tough, but we stuck with it with some breaks. Now he has gone and I was able to love him at the end.

the science

Clarity has it right.  ADHD is hereditary.  About 80% of ADHD symptom expression is due to heredity and only about 20% due to environment...putting it right up there with things like hair color in terms of heritability.  The broken homes may be a result of the undiagnosed ADHD, rather than the other way around.

Hello there! I came from a

Hello there!

I came from a single parent home, surrounded by a loving family! I lived with my mother, and actually think things could have not worked out better! Yes times are harder and people don't always understand the loyalty you have to family in those circumstances. I think its great advice to get to know someone and their family background or how they were brought up. My husband has ADD along with his dad and brother. They are a very loving family with parents who have been married all their lives. There is a lot of guilt placed on my husband, subconsciensly He is the most loving man I have ever met, and also carry so much rage. Being married to a person, you kind of get the brunt of all upsets or feelings, however it can take a real toll on me sometimes, because I've never been treated in such a manner, EVER! Yes I use this site to vent, and anytime I can try to relate or find out more about how things are for my husband, it makes me feel better. I'll do anything to understand and work with him I love him more than anything. I"ve also never been loved and treated so poorly in all my life. It's confusing, frustrating and who knows how much a person can take. I wish you well! My brothers come from a divorce family and both have characteristics of divorce. I don't know much but its interesting to read your perspective! take care and best of luck to you!

I can only speak from my

I can only speak from my experience. I do have add and did come from divorced parents. My son on the other hand also has ADD and was officially diagnosed in 5th grade although we sort of knew before then. He has had to loving and supportive parents. We understand that he has a problem but he still has the same responsibilities as our non add child. We DO NOT allow  him to use his add for an excuse to not be responsible. He does work much harder in life in general.

Those are good observations

Those are good observations about divorce. But when it comes to ADHD,  one must ask themselves Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg?

ADHD runs in families which means that there may be a symptomatic parent(s) for every symptomatic child you see. Divorce affects everybody. ADHD affects everybody too. Oftentimes ADHD is the motivator in a divorce and not the other way around.

Thank you

Thank you for this insightful post.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was younger, and now that he's an adult I sent him to your site.

Recently, I read a book your readers may be interested in - Mistaken for ADHD by Frank Barnhill, M.D. which lists nearly 50 conditions that ADHD may actually be.  You may want him to do a guest post for you.  Email me if you do.


Thanks for bringing that up - this is one of the reasons it's important to get a full diagnosis from someone who is really familiar with ADHD and similar disorders.  Other things - even eye tracking problems - can mimic ADHD.  Plus, those who do have ADHD often have other issues they need to deal with, as well ("co-existing conditions") such as depression, anxiety, ODD and more.  So it's never a good idea to just say "I'm sure my spouse has ADHD."  Take the next step and see a professional about it.

Thank You

for doing the Today Show segment this morning.  I wanted to comment on that post, but there was no place.  My apologies.  I was watching it as I was getting ready to go to another marriage counseling session with my hubby (no kidding).  I began therapy myself a few months ago due to anxiety issues.  My hubby has joined me in the last few weeks.  Our communication and marriage issues were a recurring discussion topic in my sessions, and my therapist thought it would help if he would join me to work through some stuff together.  This morning, the show, it was like a light bulb moment, and I beileve it truly was a sign.  I didn't say the words ADHD during our session, but the spot and this little blog post here that I was able to read beforehand helped me to understand and articulate what I was going through with him.  The doctor FINALLY understood because I used the right words--nagging, feeling like I have a child instead of a husband, not having him as an equal partner I can count on to help, forgetting things, acting irresponsible and uncaring.  I'm cautiously optimistic that we're on to something and can finally have a breakthrough.  Hubby is resistant, and I know I can't MAKE him do's his choice and his responsibility.  But, I want this to work.  I know we can do better.  He's a good man.  We owe it to our kids, to each other, and ourselves, to exhaust all possibilities.  Thank you again.

1. There is a seriously

1. There is a seriously unbalanced distribution of responsibility in your household. I feel like I do everything. At first I thought this was solely a product of the fact that his family (mostly his mother and 2 much older sisters) have always done everything for him. I talked with him before we got married, that I was not his mother, and he seemed to understand that there should be some distribution of labor once we merged households. However, he finds these tasks (he agreed to do the dishes daily and clean the bedroom and bathroom weekly while I do all the cooking, laundry, shopping, and other cleaning tasks) boring and has completed them two weeks in a row without reminder maybe once.

2. You hate to nag or be nagged, but it happens all the time. I hate to nag and I try not to. It really doesn't matter how nicely I ask, though, it's always perceived as nagging. What usually happens is either I do it or it doesn't get done. At one point I simply began to do my and my son's dishes, leaving his for him, and I quit doing his laundry. He's got a list of excuses for everything he doesn't do, every little thing he does do (even when I have to remind him) deserves a gold star, and you'd think I do nothing.

3. You were the sun, moon and stars during courtship. Now you feel like chopped liver. The hyperfocus ended, literally, the day we got married. He constantly tells me he loves me but I can't help him see that his actions don't follow his words.

4. No matter how hard you try, things never seem to change - except for the worse. My husband had already been diagnosed when we met and he was on medication. Unfortunately his overuse of his meds (sometimes he would go through his month's supply in two weeks) often led to extreme anxiety and insomnia. He has recently come to see the negative effects of this overuse and has done well the past couple of months in taking them as directed. This has definitely resulted in improvement since he sleeps better and isn't so squirrelly and twitchy. I'm a psychologist (a double edged sword in this situation) and tried very hard to suggest appropriate remedies (making lists, using reminders, and other organization skills) and offered him various reading materials (from Jon Kabat-Zinn to Daniel Amen). He discusses these things with me but forgets about it as soon as the conversation is over. I admit that in my frustration, the words "just try harder" have crossed my lips but I can't say I really expected a better outcome.

6. One spouse feels as if the other is more like an extra child than a partner. This is the most frustrating one for me. I have two grown sons from my former marriage (21 & 17). My 21-year old has ADD. While he was growing up, I assisted him in improving his organizational and attentional skills. There were little signs all around the house reminding him of his responsibilities. I made it clear to him that I was his mom and there to help him but that he ultimately had his (age appropriate) responsibilities. He is now a well adjusted, independent straight A college student. Unfortunately, my husband's 3 mothers (his sisters were 14 and 17 when he was born) did none of this. They either did things for him or lowered their expectations (Oh Cliff's special, he just can't do it). I don't want to treat him like a child. I felt like it would be more demoralizing to him to have me constantly giving him instructions. But he still acts like a child. Every time I have a problem, whether is regards him or not, he makes it about him. Any complaint is responded to with an endless string of excuses and a simple "I'm sorry" and he thinks that makes it ok.

I'm so frustrated I don't know what to do. I'm not sure how I stumbled across your interview on the Today show this morning while I was surfing the net. After having spent several hours reading through different threads I feel hopeful for the first time in months. Hopefully, he will feel the same way.

I really appreciate what you

I really appreciate what you said and have to laugh a little w/ you hopefully:) to get our minds off this a little.

I get the fact of not wanting to be his mother. My husband's father and brother have ADD or ADHD and his mother did everything for him and expects a lot out of him, even with him beginning a family and being so busy with his own business. She never thinks about how much is on his plate, and makes excuses for his unexcusable behavior at times when he doesn't know how to handle himself. He used to really upset me a lot and has gotten some help and talked to a professional. There have been major changes! I just hate that I'm married to someone where I feel drama follows, if something I say is misunderstood. He has felt people attacked him all his life, and I get the brunt of all that he holds inside. I've become a very anxious person, when I used to get along with almost anyone, patient and hardly ever fought w/ anyone. I was at a point w/ our first son and just being married, for awhile I contemplated divorce. I stay home w/ our son and love that he has made this possible. However at times, I get the guilt that he works all the time and is tired. We haven't had dinner as a family for a week, and I understand this is due to work, however, he has been home the past few days and didn't once try to sit down w/ us for dinner. My husband plays in a band, helps his parents at their shop, and runs his own business. He works his butt off for us to do his very best, however I am the one who stays home w/ our child, spends every breakfast/dinners alone, while he is there for everyone else. I totally understand this, and he does his best, offers to give me free time for myself then when I ask, and he's tired, he blows up. "why can't you do it when our child goes to bed?"

Things have been really different and amazing and better than ever for awhile. Then something every once in awhile triggers. "I work all the time, I'm tired, I could stay home with our son all day, and all you do is complain" I do not complain, I believe I deserve time for myself, time to recharge and shouldn't have to explain so much why I deserve this time! Everything truly has been better than ever, then tonight we argue over the most ridiculous stuff. I went out on the porch, and he locked the door. I said if you dont' let me in what is also my house, I will go to the neighbors. He then said I'll tell them you hit our son. This is totally uncalled for and I cannot get pass this at all! Yes if you have ADD you say things you don't mean, we say things all of us that we don't mean or wish we could have handled things better when we disagree, but threatening to make an attempt to lie, after locking me out of the house about our child, when we are suppose to work together is unbelievably one of the worst things to say! Then I vent, totally not in the best way at all, and I know i could have handled things better too, but really my husband, love of my life, father of my child, just said this to me because I'm mad.. I will not be threatened or have a man who loves me take it to that point. No matter the case, I do not deserve that, and all because I wanted 20 minutes to myself before our son went to bed, so I could relax!

Sorry doesn't just make it okay, especially when things have been heated and feelings have been hurt. My husband closes his eyes while I talk, plugs his ears, rolls his eyes, you name it.. occasionally he will be sweet. I figured if you see two people communicate effectively things get resolved, and when you see this, why not do that each time, instead rarely do I see that, I get the cold shoulder, completely ignored, nothing happend, get over it.. whatever the case is nothing gets resolved and I can't stand it anymore, even with it not being as often. I"ll sit and vent on this page and stick by my beliefs and then he'll do or say something to make me forget all this.. then in a few months we'll be right back here. I'm sick of it! People really do handle things in an adult thoughtful manner.. without being enemies. I want more of these days! I also would like to be respected for the fact, that no I do not make any money, but I'm trying to start my own business, help my husband with is, clean house, leave hardly anytime for myself, get paid nothing, take care of our son 7 days a week/ 24/7 am told if you need time let me know and then when I ask.. if he feels like it sure.. otherwise it feels as though I don't work that hard, I have all this freetime and we'll get around me when we have time. I work my ass off even at home, have hardly any adult interaction and just want to feel loved and supported w/ my needs as well.

I'm sorry I just had to vent. I didn't want to involve any of my family members, hopefully someone can relate and I"m open to suggestions. My husband loves me with all his heart, but in my opinion since I have known him I've become more of a fighter, have been put down out of anger, told sorry and then expected to move on. There has been verbal abuse and the man I love has made me feel like less of a person/ woman than anyone I have ever known. His mother in the past has told me these are just his ADD traits. I do not care, at times there is a point to not knock down the person who is there for you most, accepted you as you are, and stands by you even at your weakest moments. All I ask for is a little respect and time to feed my needs as well. On the good days they are amazing and there have been so many for months now.. this just brings me back to what we dealt with commonly and I cannot get why anyone no matter the case, would ever purposely say things to someone they love, just to get a rise or make them hurt when arguing. I had to vent, and feel better getting my thoughts down. It can get very frustrating with a feeling of helplessness. My husband has the biggest heart, but in these times, I feel I forgive and forget tooo much and get walked on and thrown under the bus waaay more than I should!


5/6 (none of our children have been diagnosed ADHD...yet)

My husband also suffers from depression.  He was diagnosed ADHD as a child, but his parents opted not to treat it.   It's now obvious that his mother goes through the same cycles.  He has been off and on medications for ADHD and depression for the last 6 years.  I feel like I live on a roller coaster.  I don't want a divorce, but I know that I can't continue to live like this.  Our marriage "works" when I put all of my focus on him and his work.  If I expect him to contribute or put me first, then we end up fighting.  He starts to feel like a failure and I end up consoling him when he's done something to hurt me.  I feel like we're trapped in a vicious circle.  Sometimes I don't want to be the bigger person.  Sometimes I want someone who can take care of me.  I'm most afraid that it's a losing battle and that he'll never be able to be an equal partner.

Family "Interventions"

Twice this week I've had what I call "Interventions" at home. I was diagnosed along with my daughter when she was 8. But our adult ADHD symptoms are very different. She: great student: began papers day they were assigned, always studying, graduating in top 10% of 45,000-student university. Also organized and astute with good follow-through. You'd never know she had ADHD, although when she was young, we returned a glass table we'd bought because her dancing, running around and unexpected flying leaps onto me made the table a hazard--that's how "H" she was before Ritalin! She's still intense, hurried, & easily frustrated and helps anyone--even those who don't want it, which lost her some friends in college.

ME: talk too much (often revealing own mistakes); did college papers the night before due; intense; easily frustrated and quick to anger; and make jokes that no one gets. I teach, obviously the wrong career choice. I rarely make lesson plans before I'm actually supposed to teach them, which leaves me disorganized, always looking for what I need right before the lesson--OR--I'll get a brilliant idea in the middle of a lesson and stop to look for papers to go with my idea. I walk around with my books, set them down, then can't find them so the whole class ends up helping me look. Grading papers = nightmare; the kids don't often get them back. I bring work home but rarely do it while hubby watches TV alone and I end up on the computer doing extensive research on what color bulletin board will make the children want to read or how to polish my stove. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I always have 2-5 ADHD students, with whom I can empathize, but with my own ADHD, it's hard to tolerate their impulsivity, lack of attention and constant need for movement.

Back to the interventions: First, I was told there was no reason I couldn't start exercising and stop overeating so I could lose weight because of the health risks; they care for me and don't want to lose me early. (OK, I can buy that, even though overeating is like making bad jokes--I can't stop myself.)  I could also get out and make new friends. I left my 3 closest friends when we moved out of state 12 years ago and still haven't made any friends; only have my BFF of 45 yrs, who is one long-distance call away. A non-ADDer, she understands and gives me support and advice (since making decisions is also difficult for me). Family doesn't understand why piles of paper and teaching books (few read) are in same places as 5yrs ago. They say all I have to do is (BLAH, BLAH, BLAH). I worked HARD for 2 days (sorting and filing in correct files and purging a few things) a big accomplishment of which I was proud. But they couldn't see that I'd gotten anything done.

In INTERVENTION 2, hubby calmly expressed that he couldn't understand why I'd made no progress on the papers and books. As soon as they started, I left the room, to which my daughter told my husband, "See, I told you she wouldn't talk about it." Attempting to prove her wrong, I returned and explained that since she'd come home, I've been depressed, anxious, even fearful and unable to get my words out, just waiting for the next scolding. I suggested family therapy; he said I've been on medication and seeing counselors for 25 years and it hadn't made any difference except putting us in debt. (This from the man who'd just bought 2 new TVs "that were on clearance!" While he listed his "All you need to do is..." (basically kick myself in the b--- and just get it done) he hit on every one of my ADHD struggles. After calmly listening for half an hour, daughter got mad after I gave an example of a poor judgement I'd made with her and explained what I was thinking when I made it, and said she was tired of wasting her time talking to me when nothing she said would make a difference, I'd get better for a day but then everything would return to normal. She was "over" me and wasn't going to waste her breath anymore when it wasn't going to matter anyway. THIS FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS ADD TOO!

When ADD is in a marriage, longevity doesn't mean a thing. We've been married for 31 years. Roommates would get along better.

new marriage heartbreak

i've been here reading a few times,and cried my eyes out as i am now. Reading so much that sounds so familiar in our 8 month marriage. Before we got married there were no signs,he was taking his meds and we were not on the rollercoaster we are now. We've had a few bad spots but nothing like this latest, he is distant towards me only,anyone else he will happily engage for hours,i feel so unloved and like it is somehow my fault. I know reading so much that it isn't but i can't rid myself of the feeling. He is also ready to spend like there is no tomorrow,and we can not afford it! i am looking for work now,which will help make me feel more sucure,but i am so depressed and unmotivated i am not sure what to do. I love this man and would do anything for him,but am i doing too much? should i just carry on with my own life and wait? after only 8 months i am still in the honeymoon stage and i feel he isnt and it hurts beyond belief. Thanks anyone that has sugestions!!

be careful

Be careful not to misinterpret the ADHD symptom "distraction" to mean that your partner doesn't love you or is distant towards you.  Sit him down and talk with him about the amount of time you are feeling lonely, and brainstorm together fun ways/times you can be together and enjoy yourselves.  As you point out, he is capable of happily engaging - and my guess is that if you asked him right now he would tell you he loves you.

Your (likely) misunderstanding of his ADHD symptoms is exactly what happened to me early in my relationship.  It's very destructive, and one of the first things I write about in my book.  Don't go down this path of convincing yourself you are unloved simply because he's distracted.

P.S.  ADHD is misnamed - it's not "attention deficit", it's "attention dysregulation"  This means that his ability to focus on stuff other than you is not necessarily a comment on you.  The other side of that is if you are feeling lonely and put upon, as I was, you may well be showing it...and a person who is conflict avoidant (and many with ADHD are) will pick up on this, too, and may work just a little less hard at connecting...

Lack of emotion.

Melissa, Thank you for making this point again. My husband tried to make this point to me for years, that he had emotions, too many in fact, they flooded him and he was unable to process them so he wouldn't or not fast enough anyway which made him look as if he didn't have any. I knew he did because with careful questioning he could give me all the 'right' answers, so I found it very frustrating that he did not deliver them when needed or at all as I was 'sure' that he 'could'. Mistake.

He describes it as a sieve most people have a regular flour sieve but his mesh is much larger so when lots of information comes in, too much gets through and he is 'flooded', other people can select from what falls through theirs because it comes through at a rate that they can deal with. Now at a push he can speed up his possessing rate manually with a lot of effort, but this leaves him feeling tired cranky and anxious as you don't really ever know when you will run out of puff. Ritalin helps to close down the mesh to a rate that is useful, but in doing so you do not get the 'good' parts of ADHD, the rush of creativity the fast flowing ideas, designs, concepts that make the ADD person so interesting....dilema.

We are NOT horrible people!

I was just made aware of this site and really enjoyed the blog/article.  Probably the best thing I've ever read to truly state my state of mind is the hyperfocus thing. But when I read all the comments and comments on the comments, all I can say is SHEEZ! I hope my wife takes time to read the article b/c we are having a really hard time b/c we are the polar opposites: me = ADD, wife = Anal/OCD.  But reading all the posts almost makes me wish I'd never come here b/c the picture everyone seems to paint and overpaint and overpaint is just how HORRIBLE those of us with ADD are! I'm self-aware enough to know my shortcomings and have been learning and trying to deal with them the best I can ever since I self-diagnosed in college - well, sort of; diagnosed by the therapist I was interviewing for a psych paper on. . . .you guessed it, ADHD.  Anyway, I'm sorry for all the hurt you people are going through. I really do feel your pain, but there must be SOME good in your mates. Once again, "SHEEZ!" 

I totally agree with you. I

I totally agree with you. I heard about this site on the today show although I did read one of dr hallowells books, and felt the same way you do. I wrote that i did not feel that this was a good site for those of us with ADD. Someone wrote back noting that it is helpful to see both sides and to help those that don't have add to understand those of us that do. I decided to keep coming back to read the comments and try to help others. I to am aware of my ADD and some of the frustrations my spouse has with me.  I also like to point out that he is not perfect either. Every person has their problems and marriage takes work and communication. Like you said I found so many angry people, and I do feel their pain. Some of the comments have helped to look at my own behaviors and understand a little better why my husband gets upset about things i feel are inconsequential. Please keep coming back so I don't feel that I the lone adder defending the rest of us.

Not Going Anywhere. . . .yet!

I'm not that easy to scare off.  I do seem to see a tendency to relate and "help" those non-add people a bit more than those of us with ADD.  What's really funny to me is that what seems to be the chief complaint is how the spouse's with ADD don't do any housework, yardwork. . .or just about any work at all.  I don't mind doing work.  My biggest problem is that my wife and I look at the chores completely differently.  If we've got a list things that need to be done, fine, lets do it together.  2 people doing a job will get it done WAYYYYY faster than just one.  That, and I'm a social person and want the added stimulus of talking to someone while we work.  For her, if there's work to be done, the list (or literally, the house) is divided up into two parts: Yours and mine.  I cannot express in words how resentful I get when I get home only to find her telling me: "I've done my part. . . .you have to do yours. . . now!"  Sorry, but I was not put on this planet to be your slave.  

Bottom line is this: I JUST found this place and I'm going to scour it for information and let my wife know about it and see what happens.  

Good idea in theory, but

It's usually the case that the times my wife is available/feels like doing work and the times I am available/feel like doing work do not coincide.

She gets home from work, and she wants to relax before doing any work.  I get home from work and I want to get my work done before relaxing, because once I do relax, I don't want to get going again.

Plus, we get home at different times.  Not because our work schedules differ, but because she rarely leaves work when her day is done.  She often gets caught up doing something else, and so gets home 30 minutes to an hour after I do (sometimes later), despite the fact that if she left at 5pm when her work day is technically over, she'd get home 30 to 45 minutes before I do.  If she did that, she could relax a bit before I get home, then be ready to go/do work when I do get home.  Theoretically, that is.  Because the truth is, once she sits down and relaxes, it's very hard to get her to do anything/go anywhere.

On the weekends, I get up and want to get going.  She gets up and wants to go on the computer before getting to whatever it is she/we need to get done that day.  If she needs to go grocery shopping, for example, sometime before we go out at 6pm, she might leave the house to go to the store by 5pm.  I would be much more likely to go shopping earlier and get it over with.

I am not saying my way is right and her way is wrong.  They are just different.  What I am saying is that our work style differences do not lend themselves to our doing chores/work together.

When we do have something we need to do together, I am always the one who is responsible to get us started, and I hate it.  The conversations usually go something like this:

me:  Are you about ready to start on the yard, hon?

her:  In a minute.

me (after waiting what I hope is a reasonable time):  Is there more you need to do before we start on the yard, honey?

her:  Yes, I just need to do this one more thing.

me (after waiting what I hope is a reasonable time):  Do you have much more to do, honey?

her:  Almost done.

Me (after waiting what I hope is a reasonable time):  Do you think we can start in 15 minutes (or some other attempt to get her to give me a time when she will be ready to start)?

her:  OK, 15 minutes.

me (after 15 minutes):  It's 15 minutes, honey.

her:  OK, I'm coming.

me (seeing no movement on her part):  Come on honey, can we please get started?

This could go on forever.  But usually, one of us ends up getting mad.  She might loudly snap: OK!  Or I might angrily say:  Come ON!!

I've yet to have an occasion where we plan to do something together, even if we agree to a time beforehand, where getting started goes smoothly.

I've yet to figure out how to ask her to actually get started without some sort of difficulty.

I've even tried saying something like:  "Ok.  We agree that tomorrow at 1pm we will work on the yard together.  If you are not ready at 1, what should we do?"  To which she will reply something like: "I promise I'll be ready."  Or something else that indicates that her not being ready at the agreed upon time is not even a possibility.  And my sharing that my experience is that she often isn't ready when we agree either doesn't help, or else actually makes it worse.

So the next day, when she isn't ready at the agreed time, I don't know what to do other than my example above, which is not very effective.

And so, I'd rather NOT try to do chores/work with her unless absolutely necessary.

Peas in a Pod!

This sounds less like my ADHD husband, and a helluva lot like our ADHD child/teen. It applies to everything; from the moment of waking to the moment of sleeping. It is completely exhausting and unwinnable. She is simply not self-regulating, unless hyperfocused. Gorgeous, talented girl too! Though this is a lifelong issue, that's for sure.

Good in theory but...

Oh I can so relate to this - ours is 22 now and even with all my training, I have not found a way to replace the 'broken' internal clock that one so desperately needs to get through life.

We have tried egg timers (worked for a while - but only for three min tasks and didn't work to keep him moving through them).

When younger we made flash cards or charts (all visual stuff - that's good) so he would turn the card to the next page for the next step. We learned all about breaking things down and how much was involved in each step - he learned to dress in the right order, but still not on time.

So we added a timer clock - he learnt to take apart the timer clock and reassemble it, we learnt we had to physically keep him on task and we had to vary our instructions a little every day to keep him listening, not the order just the descriptive words we used.

He does not register the passage of time in any way, the longer they are the harder it is, mins right through to years. Our son is a joy to know and highly gifted, he knows the insides of a computer like you know your own child's face. It is just getting dressed in the morning and eating three times a day that we have trouble with :)

But I am here to tell you that in the end it all works out all right. It is just not quite what you expected. Hang in there.

Just Curious

JAG -- Does the "let's do it together" approach apply to both your AND your wife's tasks?  I'm curious b/c my husband often wants me to help/keep him company when he is doing his chores, but seems perfectly happy to let me do my chores (like washing and folding OUR laundry, getting groceries, preparing dinner, etc.) by myself.  If I were to ask him to help me with my chores, he would get very annoyed that I'm cutting into his "free time."  So I find myself resentful when I get through my tasks quickly and efficiently, and he leaves his till the last minute, then when I'm finally ready to put my feet up and relax, he wants me to jump in and help him get his stuff done. 

like you

Hi JAGPowderhound - we are polar opposites too - just like you say.  My husband and I have just started talking about the idea he may have some ADD tendencies.  I have only recently learned about it and I'm no expert but many of the things I've read sound like him though I think he isn't severely impacted by this.  It does impact our marriage though I think he thinks all is well and I think I am at times overwhelmed by his needs.  Anyway, we did discuss that we both have our issues and said just what you said - we are polar opposites and we each have our own "disorder".  He ADD, me AR/OCD - we just talked about this!!  I think it's so important - in any marriage ADD or not - that each person recognize their own problems and idiosyncrasies and also the fact that the other person is never going to be exactly the way you think they should be.  Enormous compromise is needed in most marriages for things to work out long term.  We actually think that our polar opposite-ness is complementary.  I'm hyper-responsible and organized and keep our life in order.  He makes my life fun and interesting and gets me to take risks and try things I'd never do if left to myself.  I would be a boring, practical ninny.  He has encouraged me to do things in my career that I never thought were possible and has really helped me which in turn has helped us.  He's my go to person when I need creative out of the box thinking both for personal things and in my work.   When my husband's ADD-ish behavior starts to drive me nuts I try to focus on his many strengths - hopefully others can try to do that too. 

hyper responsible sounds like me

I'm hyper-responsible and organized and keep our life in order. He makes my life fun and interesting and gets me to take risks and try things I'd never do if left to myself. I would be a boring, practical ninny. He has encouraged me to do things in my career that I never thought were possible and has really helped me which in turn has helped us. He's my go to person when I need creative out of the box thinking both for personal things and in my work. When my husband's ADD-ish behavior starts to drive me nuts I try to focus on his many strengths - hopefully others can try to do that too.


What I miss the most about the ADDbf is the fun.  I am all work, taking care of my single life and my two daughters, taking care of my rental property and building a business in my spare time (literally work all the time). When I had an adder in my life I had so much fun.  It was like he taught me to play again and take time to smell the roses.  I totally understand that having a playmate is very different from marriages, bills and kids.  I hear the agony in the chaos many people express here and it is very real, especially the financial and long list of household duties. 

I think part of the reason I was so attracted is that I am very unbalanced in my work/play life.  I always told myself that I could play later, but first I had to do these responsible things.  Funny thing is I had more vacations the year he was in my life than I have had in the past 10 years and I don't see any negative impact from just setting the responsibilities aside and taking some of my limited money and just going. 

I am glad that so many people have shared what it is like to feel you are the only adult in the house. It is good to realize it and then find ways to change it.


That is so strange...your

That is so strange...your experience is completely opposite of mine.  Before I met my ADD spouse I had money and time to take vacations, go camping, go to concerts, and have fun.  Once we got together, he shot my finances to hell and all my time was being taken up working to pay both of our bills because he couldn't keep a job, and then coming home and spending the rest of my free time doing all the household chores because he was either incapable or unwilling to do them in any sort of timely manner.   I went from happy and fun loving and stress free to crippled under stress and responsibility and financial burden. 

We are NOT horrible people.

Any generalisation is wrong. There are some horrible people with ADHD/ADD, just as there are some horrible people with epilepsy, some horrible people with cancer etc. 

The difficulties lie with running a traditional marriage with an ADHD/ADD person and the concomitant issues arising from doing that. Expectations being that people entering a  marriage will be entering it with similar states of mind and health and go from there. Issues arising from supporting a person with ADD/ADHD come is suspect from the belief that the subsequent behaviors, are a choice issue, not, as is often the case, an inherent issue.

The debate still rages as to whether we should be trying to 'fix' ADD/ADHD, is it a quality of life issue, a safety issue or simply a normative issue?

The facts are that living with a person with ADD/ADHD is or can be quite confronting, confusing and debilitating if you do not understand the issues or have never come across them before. 

Having said that, I feel that most people, given the understanding and empowerment to affect their own outcomes, with information and guidance, but most of all acceptance of self from their partners,  would still choose that person to live with, as it is not the person themselves that is the issue but the outcomes of their behaviors. Living with the consequences of someone elses actions does not sit well with most people, if there is one message I would like to highlight here it is "Take responsibility for yourself and your actions and their effects on others" - then perhaps choose to do it anyway, but owning it is important. When you do this you give your partner permission to 'love' who you are, as you are not making them 'responsible' for who you are and therefore, giving them permission to change or 'fix' you.

One of the most depressing

One of the most depressing times in my marriage was when a counselor asked us to list 3 positive things about our spouse...and I literally could not think of one. I was sad because I felt like I had been robbed of my 'fairy tale' and I also felt sad because I knew he wasn't a horrible person and I knew it would crush him for me to not be able to honestly think of one good thing about him. At that point, all I had left was that I loved him...and inspite of a lot of hurt and destructive behaviors, I felt he loved me too.

I hope that everyone can understand (even if you haven't been there or if you have been there and were able to rebuild what once seemed doomed for disaster) that just feeling the anger towards the person you once loved so innocently is devastating. It truly is a cycle, a cycle that is extremely difficult to see when you're in it and even harder to break once you do see it. I recognized my anger long before I let go of it...because for many, many years I blamed him for 100% of it. How could I stop being angry when he wouldn't stop doing things to make me angry?

I talked bad about him to friends and family, I was brutally honest with him thinking it was the right thing to do, I heard nothing he said, understood nothing about him, felt like I was living with a complete stranger, and had nothing but mean thoughts about him going through my head 24/7. It was a miserable exsistence. Only after suffering personal tragedies and hitting rock bottom with the marriage (us separating and him having an affair) did I finally realize what I was doing...and made some REAL changes. The same man that I loathed is now the same man that I love in a whole new way. I never dreamed I could feel such positive things for him again...ever. I never doubted that I loved him, but boy did I doubt his love for me. Now I see...he really is doing the best that he can...and even when he falls flat on his face I still love him because I know he's trying. As long as he tries, I am 100% in with him.

As you can also understand, a lot of members have the resentful feelings because they have the ADD dx, but their spouses won't get help. I can't imagine how frustrating that is. How is that fixed? How do you recover from that? Reality, I would assume, is that you don' might be able to let go of the anger for your own good, but if one refuses to quit spending the family into bankruptcy or to provide for the family by having a steady job, or is angry and confrontational all the time then I don't see how the marriage could survive.

There is a lot of anger to go around...but if BOTH parties are meeting half way...even if progress is 2 steps forward, 1 step back...then that is the key to success, I feel.

How Did You Change?

Hi Sherri -- thanks so much for your post.  I feel like I am exactly where you described in your post.  I (as I think I posted elsewhere and you responded) end up in VERY negative thought spirals about my husband, and I can't stop.  I, too, rarely can think of positive things about my husband, or what about him made me fall in love with him.  Sometimes I feel like those positive feelings will never come back.

We have both been trying, and sometimes I start feeling more loving and positive -- I am trying REALLY hard to not react to "triggers" and to let things go that I would normally get really angry about.  It's hard, though, because my husband is a sarcastic, cynical person -- which sometimes is funny but many times he's kind of angry and negative about everything around him and that brings me down and it's hard for me to stay "up."  Like, he says really negative things about our kids, and that gets me angry and sad, because I feel like we should be connecting about the joy they bring us, not how annoying they are.  I feel like we have nothing in common anymore.  I used to try to think of ways we could spend time together, and now I find myself less excited about the prospect, and feeling like disconnecting might be better.

How did you get out of this cycle?  I want to look up to my husband, feel proud of him, and feel positively toward him, but every small fight we have sets me back so much.  I'm really sad because at the beginning of our relationship I felt like what we had was so precious, and wanted to treat it that way, and now I can't imagine ever feeling that way again. I don't doubt his love for me but wonder about my own ability to love him the way he is.  Do you have any advice?

Honestly, I wish I did have

Honestly, I wish I did have some advice...other than just stressing how important it is to change YOU (regardless of whether he changes or not). Looking back I can see it all, but when I was right in the middle of it, I couldn't bring myself to be nice or say one nice thing about him most of the time. He would apologize for the 'transgression of the day' and 3 days later we'd be barely speaking again because of another bad/hurtful decision he'd make. The worse the stress was in the home, the worse and more frequent his decisions were..until they led to his ultimate affair. Things escalated so far out of control with us, his mother died, a month later my father died (unexpectedly) and we just simply hit rock bottom. We reconciled, I started trying to just love him for who he was...fixing/improving what I could (stopped his uncontrolled spending by taking away his debit card...he still has access to the account, but it requires making a personal visit to the bank)..and loving him even when he stumbles. Recently, he repeated an old 'bad behavior' by staying out very late (when promising not to) and I immediately fell into the anger hole...temporarily. Having some time to think about it, and a friend urging me not to let it be the 'end of the world' like I feel everything is sometimes, I let it go. I told him I loved him, that it really is hurtful to me when he does that, that I hoped he could understand that, and I truly am just praying for the best.

Honestly, I watched the movie "Fireproof", given to me by a very good friend...and started doing the Love Dare that goes along with the movie. That was a huge 'ah ha' moment for me..made that much easier because he watched it about 2 weeks later (during our separation) and it had the same impact on him that it did me. It teaches the basic principal that you love this person, treat them with kindness, even when they don't respond with the like. Period. No excuses. No throwing in the towel after a bad day or two, but truly putting yourself in there 110% and staying focused on your love for the person and not their faults. Loving them unconditionally. His ADD diagnosis came much later...we are in counseling because of the affair...and we had already started on the road to rebuilding our marriage, together, when we got the diagnosis and it was like the final piece of the puzzle. Now we are getting the help we need to keep things moving forward. I let go of my anger much faster now, much faster each time the temptation is thrown in my path, and he is learning that his behaviors are hurtful and that he has to give 100% too in order to get the things he craves/needs/wants from the marriage.

It sucks. It's hard. It is as close to impossible as anything I've ever had to do...but you can do it. It is a lot easier if HE is willing to meet you in the middle.

One thing I did think

One thing I did think of...

In the past, everytime we had a matter how big or small (most of them should have really never been a fight to begin with...90% of the time it was ME choosing to fight over every.little.thing) was "the end of the world" to me. That was my attitude. It wasn't "oh, we just had a fight over money" it was "Oh my Lord, he's done it again. he will never change. I hate him. He couldn't possibly love me and his kids and act this way. What is wrong with him. he's so irresponsible. He doesn't care about anyone but himself. I should just divorce him and be done with all of this horrible stress he causes me" It was never anger was so nasty and ugly and just all consuming. Now I have a friend that "reminds me" that every thing isn't 'the end of the world' like I used to treat it...and I hope that eventually it will become a habit..and I won't need the constant reminder.

Just don't let all of the small stuff add to the pile of big stuff anymore. That was a huge one for me. Even his spending money that we don't discuss first, one of our HUGEST Issues in the past, is no longer a fight. He did it recently. When I found out I cried. Then I texted him (he was at work) and told him that I wished he'd have discussed it with me first because we REALLY didn't have the money in the account..and that it would be a miracle if we didn't bounce some outstanding checks. That was the end of it. He apologized, took full responsibility, then said he would get the cash to put back in the bank. Ended up not being necessary, but for a day or two he had to sweat bullets just like I did. I let him go through the stress with me for once. I can only hope it made an impact. Why get angry? It was done, I made him aware, he admitted fault, and we dealt with it together. As long as I see this progress, I am happy. I think me not getting mad and screaming and yelling and stewing for days is having a HUGE positive impact on him as well..he does not want to cause me stress..and when I don't react with anger and yelling it really does (somehow???) make him seem to be able to do better..have better control.

Best advice

I can't get my wife to listen to me, and reading your post about how you used to deal with your husband was like reading about my life.  No so much about spending money b/c I don't spend money I don't have.  The biggest problem for my wife is that I don't do things according to her schedule.  She also gets upset and goes ape-$#@* over most any "indiscretion".  She will go on and on and on and on and mentally and emotionally try to beat me up.  That immediately puts me on the defensive - a similar response I developed as a teenager when I finally decided I had had enough of that crap from my father and decided to stand up for myself.   If my wife could/would simply read things like your post, I think it would really help b/c I've gotten to a point I've never been in my entire life: I'm so angry and disgusted with her treatment of me that I can't find a way out of my anger and hatred for her.  I can't even look at her without feeling absolute disgust.  The sound of her voice now takes my blood pressure sky high.  I just hope I/we can figure this out before too long b/c I cannot live like this much longer.  The book is on order and I can't wait to read it so it can help us.   Just makes me sad that someone gave her the book "The Superior Wife Syndrome".  I haven't read it, but I've done quite a bit of research on it and what I've found ain't good.  Still, back to the point, reading your post helps me. . . .so, thank you.

She probably hates herself,

She probably hates herself, but doesn't know how to stop. I don't know what your specific problems are in your marriage, but since you're 'aware' that you are PART of the problem, then maybe it will take you breaking the ice with her and making the first move. I know you're at the end of your rope with her and feel "disgust", but I think just like we have to see things in a while new light when we find out about our spouses having ADD, you too have to have a certain amount of sympathy for what she's been through and take the chance (if you feel it's worth it) and put yourself out there. I admitted some of the hardest things I've ever had to admit (basically taking my share of the blame) to my husband during a time when he was hurting me more than he ever had..and had no guaruntee (or hope) that it would make any difference..but it did. Maybe it would help to say "I know I've hurt you..we've hurt each other...but I want to get help so that we stop hurting each other and can find happiness again" The hardest part, after we decided to accept our individual fault and agreed to get help together, was not blaming each other for our OWN bad behaviors anymore. Yes, he hurt me with his actions and words...but that did not excuse my behavior that followed. I was like your wife...wasn't happy until I beat him down with my words and hurt him as much as he hurt me with his actions....and I was MISERABLE. I was so frustrated that nothing ever changed that I was disgusted with us both! Seriously! I hope you can find a reason to keep going and give your wife a chance...give her some understanding and patience...and give her just a little of what she needs from you and maybe the results will be better than you could imagine. If there is something that you could do to show her that you care and that you want things to change, do it. Good Luck!

...and he was very hurtful

...and he was very hurtful with his words too...and it took him admitting that the 'affection' he claimed he needed (and never got) from me was something he 'earned' by stopping the cycle of pain and hurt we were in. We both reached the ends of our ropes..the only difference is that he took things into his own hands and cheated on me. Our home life was miserable, but it was equally miserable. Just don't be quick to judge your wife and blame everything on her...I know she didn't disgust you when you married her, so try and REALLY examine what might have led her to become the person that disgusts you today...and help her find herself again. Love her enough, love her unconditionally, so that you can put yourself in her shoes. Don't focus on what SHE needs to do, it will never work. Sympathize with her, have compassion for the pain she's endured, and change yourself in hopes that she'll follow suit.

The way you talk about it

The way you talk about it makes it sound like her demands are unreasonable.  When you say she gets upset when you don't follow her schedule, are you talking about her flipping out if you wait an extra day to do the dishes because there weren't enough for a full load, or her flipping out because you were supposed to clean the litterbox on Tuesday and 5 days later it is overflowing and the cat peed on the carpet because you didn't clean it?  There can be a huge variation in how badly a person is deviating from a housework schedule, which can make a significant impact on quality of life for the people living in the home.  Which do you think is closer to your case?


This is a common occurrence: She will tell me (note: she NEVER asks, it's always an order) that I'm to do a, b, c, and d before the end of the weekend - on Sat. morning.    By noon Sunday, she is hovering around me because I've yet to do c and d.  It's then that she tells me angrily that c & d were REALLY important.  I simply look at her and ask, "Is the weekend over? No? Well then, I'm right on schedule."  I do get c & d done, but the whole time she is stewing and constantly telling me that I needed to get it done. . . . NOW!    

Another side?

From my experience with my ADD husband, that seems pretty close to the truth, but there were reasons for it. I'm not saying that they were *good* reasons--just that this what what things degraded to out of desperation and (maybe) necessity. I'm just throwing this out there. I have no idea if this is applicable to your situation or not.

- I had asked him to do a,b,c,d, but was myself doing e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,etc. after having spent several years begging him to handle his half of the alphabet. I had given up, and was taking what I could get, but even the tiny amount that he had agreed to wasn't getting done, let alone the half that he really *should* have taken on. I can't even begin to tell you how depressing this gets after a few years.

- Let's say a through d are only the most important things that have been selected out of a through m. So, right away, we're dealing with four equally--and very--important issues. If a person hasn't been made aware of the other much less important things that were possibilities, they wouldn't see that on the priority continuum, a-d all share the #1 spot, with the rest of the items falling behind in line. So, I can understand the "c&d are really important" issue from this standpoint (been there--on both sides, actually, as my boss does this to me).

- Let's say a and b each take an hour to do and are relatively easy, but c and d each take two or three hours to do. In our home, if they weren't addressed until 7pm on Sunday night, it was a pretty safe bet that they weren't getting done, or that I would have to swoop in, put him in gear, and do them with him . . . after having already done my half (and more) of the weekend chores, and desperately needing the Sunday evening of rest I had planned in so I wasn't mentally and emotionally fried for work on Monday. Or he would pull a near-all-nighter and do them, and then complain about how he "never gets enough sleep because of" me, and/or silently resent me for the rest of the week.

-Now, I see that you do get these things done (And kudos to you for doing that! I wish you could give my husband lessons! :). it might be that there has been a precedent set, and she doesn't trust this "new" situation. Or that she's so on edge that it's difficult for her to leave the situation alone and trust it. Neither of those are justified, but they are understandable.

- Or . . . and this was often the case with my marriage--they were extremely important things and you weren't communicating *when* or *how* they would be done. My husband would leave very important things to the last minute all of the time. Sometimes they would get done, sometimes not, and all I'd get out of him was something like "I'll take care of it." Let's say the deadline for something is 9am on Monday (I'm making this up) and the person is told about it on Thursday or Friday . . . but then doesn't mention or respond to questions as to when he'll do it and/or leaves it until Sunday night. Yes, they're getting it done, and that is very good, but if the other person is kept guessing or out of the loop on the timing or process of something that affects them greatly, their stress level is going to *skyrocket* until that thing is done. Being kept in the dark and helpless to affect a situation (outside of nagging - !) is *no* fun. If it happens enough times, that can lead to a situation where a person expects that, and then falls into nagging, anger, stewing, etc. right off the bat. Keeping someone guessing--even if you don't think you are, and don't mean to--causes *so* much avoidable agita. 

- Maybe the ordering is coming from a different place, too. If I asked my husband to do something, he would ignore me. If I said "do this," I stood about a 50% chance of it getting done. It's not a great way to run a household, but after a while I was exhausted and desperate and did whatever I could to keep my head above water and the marriage more-or-less afloat.

Well that isn't reasonable at

Well that isn't reasonable at all.  If she gives you a deadline and starts hounding you before the deadline is even over, then she is definitely creating unnecessary friction in the relationship.   Now...if Tuesday rolls around and c & d aren't done, then she might have good reason to be upset.  Especially for things that have a specific consequence if they are late (like taking the trash can to the curb on garbage day)

Before I realized my husband had ADHD, I would often ask him to do things by a certain deadline, but I was making the mistake of letting these things sit for WAY too long in the hopes that he would do them without my having to ask.  So by the time I asked, I was already pissed off, and the chores were already overdue.  I wonder if maybe this might be part of your wife's problem.   Is it possible she doesn't realize or believe you have ADD?  A big part of my problem was in not realizing my husband had ADHD.  I kept expecting him to act like a normal responsible adult, and I kept getting disappointed and frustrated.  And me being angry all the time made him even less likely to do anything I asked him to do.  Vicious cycle...

Chores, cont.

She's very aware of my ADD.  Here's the real rub for me and her: I want US to do things together to get the work done faster and. . . .well, be together!  But, even when she's started to make our bed up, and I simply walk to my side of the bed and start to help her; her response: "NO! I'm going to make the bed!" Can't I help you? "NO! Now leave me alone."  That goes with every single thing to be done around the house.  What she will NOT help with is anything outside.  Honestly, that's not a big deal b/c I grew up doing yard work and have done it for a living and I know how to use my commercial grade equipment so that it's done quickly, efficiently, and no one gets hurt! (60" Dixie Chopper, Stihl commercial weed eater, Stihl chain saw, etc.)   If she ever came out and said to me, "Let me help." I would NOT turn her down flatly.  I've got over 2 acres of land to keep maintained, so it's no joke.  She won't even combine our laundry together! Me: Hey, I'm doing a load of darks, you have any darks you need washed?  Her: "I'll do them later."  Wasted time, wasted water, wasted soap.  Just plain stupid, IMO.  She is a completely task oriented person.  When I get home, if I've got to cut the grass, I put my stuff away and get a

big drink of water head out to it. Otherwise, I get home and am ready to leave work behind.  For YEARS (while dating, engaged, and now married) she would get home and I'd be there to greet her with a big "HELLO! How was your day?"

and she would 9/10 times tell me (actual quote) "Not now, I'm busy. You're slowing me down."  After a couple of years, I stopped trying to greet her.  Heck, I'm not allowed to really speak to her in the mornings.  If she's in the shower,

drying, getting dressed, eating, etc. - a simple "What do you want to have for dinner?" would get the same response as my end of day greeting: "I cannot talk. . .you're making me LATE!"  The result: We don't speak unless she is updating

me on the chores I'm to do or we're about to have a "We need to talk." moment.  I had more interaction with roommates in college that I didn't like! ! ! 

BTW - sorry for this thing looking weird. The website reply is acting up

This just breaks my heart.  I

This just breaks my heart.  I would jump for joy if my husband offered to help me out with chores instead of sitting at his computer.   The laundry situation you mention is absolutely ludicrous.  Why would she turn down your help?  I have the exact opposite problem.  I normally do ALL the laundry but if things pile up because I'm not feeling well, my husband will actually ignore the HUGE pile of dirty laundry and pick out the two pieces of clothes he wants to wear and wash JUST those two pieces of clothes, wasting water and electricity.  And then if there's still dry clothes in the dryer, he will throw his two wet pieces on top of the dry clean clothes and put them all through another complete dry cycle.  Just so he doesn't have to empty out the dryer.  It seriously makes me want to pull my hair out. 

But enough of my venting.

It really sounds like she is no longer a spouse to you...just a rather unpleasant roommate.  Have you two gone to counseling yet?  Do you think she still loves you?

A nonADHD Point of View

As the non ADHD partner, I can relate to some of your wife's behaviors.

Re: your wife not wanting to do things together.  There have been times when I also have refused help from my wife.  Mainly, it is for those things which I have taken on because my "standards" are different than hers, or my approach is different than hers.  Not expecting that she should do certain things MY way or according to MY standards, I have taken them on myself or prefer to do them myself.  So in the making the bed example - if I was very particular about how I want the bed made, and she offered to help, I'd probably say "That's OK.  I've got it."  Or if it took her much longer for some reason to do a particular task HER way and she offered to help me do it, I might say "No, thanks."

Re: your wife not wanting you to wash her darks with yours - I have also been in her position where I know if my wife does the laundry it will come back all wrinkled, and so I would prefer to do it myself.  And when she offered to do it for me I also would say "No thanks."  We've had many conversations about this and we have figured out how to share on the laundry chore.

I am learning that it might not always be the best idea to not allow my wife to help when she offers.  because there IS a difference between saying "no, thanks" and meaning "I've got it," and meaning "No way I want you to help!"  I often meant the latter.  And I've come to learn that when I say "No, thanks.  I've got it."  I am sending the message that she is not "good enough." 

Is that how it makes you feel when she says those things?  Have you mentioned this to her?

Re: you talking to her when she is "task centered" - I have experienced that as well.  My wife has the ability to carry on conversations and do certain tasks simultaneously.  I do not, especially when I have to use my brain to participate in the conversation - like maybe "think" about it before answering a question.  Or when she is talking about something somewhat complex and I have to focus to get what she is saying.

So when she starts talking to me while I am focusing on some task, just like your wife, I might also ask her to let me finish what I am doing first before talking to me.  Or if I am running late for work and feel like I can't stop and listen to what she is saying, just like your wife, I might say "I can't talk about that right now.  I'm late for work."

I also prefer to be looking someone in the eye when talking about anything other than mindless chit-chat, and so if I am doing some task that prevents me from doing so, it's difficult for me to participate in the conversation.

I have also learned that what seems a simple question to me isn't always a simple question for my wife, and vice versa.  Perhaps your "simple" question of "what do you want to have for dinner" isn't quite so "simple" to her.

And finally.  Perhaps her stopping you at "Hi honey how was your day?" is more about what she expects will come AFTER she answers that question.  If you are anything like my wife, as soon as I answer "fine" to that question, she is likely to launch into a long, non-stop description of HER day, which I might not be able to listen to as I am focussed on a certain task - which for me, is usually preparing dinner.  Again - she often feels insulted and becomes upset with me when I ask her to hold off until we sit down to dinner.  So I'm working on making those requests in a kinder way.  And she's working on not being offended by them.


My wife's been anal-retentive for as long as I can remember.  She was never happier than when she first moved into her own apartment and life was completely on her terms.  Everything was clean and in its proper place. . . .always.   When we got married and moved into together, our 1st year of marriage was just hell. . . not quite the hell/purgatory it is now, but hell.   Are her "standards" more precise than mine? I guess  so.  If you were to come to my house, you would no doubt say it was neat and clean, but according to her, it's a complete wreck and takes ALL of her time just to keep it above the level of being condemned.  

As I stated, she is unbelievably task oriented.  Which can be a good thing.  But in all things in life, moderation is the key.  If you can't "relax" unless you have checked off your own imaginary list EVERY SINGLE night before you can sustain ANY kind of conversation. . . .that's too much.  And that task oriented nature has turned her into a drill sergeant, barking out "orders" that I'm supposed to hop to immediately.  Hell, I even asked her once, "What can I do to turn you on?" Her response: do the chores.  I know some reading that would say, "Well, there you go!" But to me, that attitude simply turns her into a prostitute.  "Yeah, I'll get 'horny' if you do some work first."  Soooooooo romantic! ! ! !   Makes me feel sooooo wanted and appreciated.  All I'm good for at home is hired help; basic labor.  Thanks, but no thanks.  

The laundry: I've had to do my own laundry since the day I graduated High School and I know what I'm doing, but beyond mixing our laundry, I'm not allowed to do the kids laundry.  

I understand that if my wife is focusing on something important, not to bother her - or anyone for that matter.  But, there is literally nothing she can do and give me the time of day.  Even wanting to give her a hug or a playful pinch on the butt would bring a scornful "You're going to make me late!"  

Both that and the stonewalling at the end of the day have served as a complete spirit killer.  You ask ANYONE who knows me and they'll tell you I am an open, easy going, happy person.  With the years of being squashed by my wife, I actually look forward to the times she's gone - either working or just away.  

There is a reason for all of

There is a reason for all of this...for you not doing a, b, c, and d...and for her being so upset and angry about it when it's not done ..and the deadline hasn't even arrived yet.

In the past have you been a reasonably reliable 'go to' guy for her? The past is a heavy beast we all carry around sometimes..and if she's had to 'resort' to this type of situation to get things done, then that would explain her yelling...and that would explain her over reacting when the deadline hasn't even passed. If you've always been 100% on target and gotten done your share of responsibilities, then maybe this is an issue of control for her.

Again, you have to look at WHY she is acting the way she is acting and you have to try and learn ways to prevent her from feeling what she's feeling. You cannot expect or ask her to change until and unless you are willing to do the same. It takes a commitment on both parts to stop pointing the blame and start looking at "what am I doing to make this situation worse?" COULD you do a, b, c, and d all by Saturday evening? Are you on any level intentionally not doing them just because she "told you" to do them? (I ask because my husband has admitted to this himself).

Focusing only on her and what she's doing wrong will change nothing...but she has to give you the same consideration..and stop focusing on what you HAVEN'T done but giving more credit for what you have.

This Sounds So Familiar

My wife and I used to have the same kinds of interactions.  We've both been working on our behaviors - her on follow through, and me on my angry and/or nagging reminders.  I do have a couple of comments to your post.

First, a comment about your reply to your wife when she told you angrily that C & D were really important.  I wonder if you realize that your remark, which sounds sarcastic to me, probably fueled the situation and made your wife even more angry?  Granted, she probably "shouldn't" have been angry in the first place.  You might have instead genuinely responded to her anxiety (perhaps based on past experiences?) that they were not going to get done, by saying something like "I know they are important, and I am planning to do C at such and such a time (or after I finish this TV show, or whatever) and I plan to do D at such and such a time."  I know that's MUCH easier said than done.  But if I were your wife, that kind of response would have helped allay my anxiety.

Second, I have been in your wife's shoes.  I know my wife well enough that when a certain time rolls around on Sunday, and she is kind of "hunkered down" on the couch or in front of the computer, all bets are off on her getting around to certain tasks that she might have "promised" me she would do.  And so, as it starts getting close to that time, and the task hasn't been accomplished, my anxiety starts to increase.  I also have been know to nag and/or ask in an angry tone whether she plans on doing the things she said she would.  I'm working on doing that less, because I know that's not a helpful way for ME to respond.  I'm just trying to help you understand where your wife is coming from.

Replying to your "Choices" post

Running out of room, and didn't want to post anything that would be set as three letters a line. ;)

I have *no* idea if any of the below (long) post applies to you. YMMV.

She sounds worn down--a lot like quite a large number of non-ADHD spouses married to ADHDers.

I'm not saying that she's right (at all), but have you tried to view things from her perspective? I mean *really* tried? Just doing housework, hugging, etc. isn't enough. It's very difficult to explain to someone who hasn't been on this side of things, but it has to do with a certain consistent level of attentiveness and consideration. My husband did (and tried to do) things around the house, but I got the impression that he did these things because he felt like he "had" to--not because he was being considerate and sharing the load. Later, when he began to "get it," it was extremely difficult for me to switch off all of the built-up resentment after so many years of feeling like anything important to me was the last thing on his priority list.

My husband would also get upset with me over the hugging/displays of affection issue. He's not a mind-reader, but he really would want to get affectionate when I was in a rush to get out the door, on deadline, or in the middle of something that couldn't be dropped. I mean, I'm disassembling a chicken, point of a freshly-sharpened chef's knife in the middle of a leg joint, about to bring the rest of the knife down to cut the leg, and he would put his arms around me from behind. It would startle the pants off me, and more than once I got hurt. I could sit in front of the tv or be in bed with him for hours and the man wouldn't come near me. As soon as I'd head off to work on a project or to the shower to get ready to go somewhere, he'd follow me and try to get affectionate. This is unbelievably frustrating, and makes a wife feel as though everything has to run on his schedule, and hers doesn't "count."

Some of these things you mention are ADHD marriage-related, others look to me like male-female communication issues. If I may "interpret" a few things--and please bear in mind that I'm just pulling this from my own experience. When she says that doing chores would turn her on, she's not being a "prostitute" (which is *incredibly* harsh--I'm sorry, but if you talk to her like this, I can understand some of her behavior!). What she's saying is "if you would show me that you care enough to do things that need doing around the house entirely on your own, without my saying something or nagging, long before they get to crisis mode, and properly, it would show me that you truly and deeply love and care for me and want to make this marriage work." Consideration and caring are HUGE turn-ons for women. Re. "properly," chores should be done in a manner and at a level that you BOTH can live with. Just because your standards of cleanliness, organization, whatever are different than hers doesn't mean that yours are "right" or should prevail by default. There should be a compromise--always, always, always.

There's an attentiveness issue that may be at work here. It's not that a spouse doesn't do anything, doesn't care, or doesn't love, but he/she may not be listening as much as they think they are. I mean *really* listening. It's hard to convey what I mean here, so I'm going to create a scenario.

A woman is lost in the dessert and dying of thirst. She encounters a man who is fully outfitted.

She: Do you have a canteen there? May I please have some of your water? I'm dying of thirst.

He: <no response, even though he's looking right at her>

She: (a little more loudly) May I please have some of your water? I'm dying of thirst.

He: Oh, hey! How's it going? You don't look so good. Are you ok? Is there anything I can do to help? Look at this *awesome* flashlight I found--here, you can have it!

She: Ok, thanks. But please, may I have some of your water? I'm desperate and feeling very poorly.

He: Oh, sure, sure! Here, I have this bag of salty peanuts--it's all yours!

She: Um, thanks, but I'm allergic to peanuts . . . and I really need water.

He: Oh, I'm sorry! Here, have this peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

She: I can't eat peanuts--they'll kill me. And I really need some water. Please?

He: <he drinks from his canteen, caps it, and puts it back on his belt> How about this snickers bar?

She: Peanuts would kill me. Plus I'm dying of thirst. Do you not understand me? Please, please--water.

He: I have a box of Goobers!

She: Listen to me! I need water, not peanuts!! I'm dying!

He: <pause> How about this five-pound bag of sea salt?

She: JUST GIVE ME THE %$&#ING CANTEEN!!! (she rips it from his belt)

He: Ungrateful bitch.

This is what my marriage felt like. My husband was wonderful, loving, generous, and tuned out everything I said from the moment we were engaged. Every day. This really wore me down, and made me feel like the lowliest thing in the universe--twice over. Once for not being heard, and then again for being berated because I was upset for not being heard.

(BTW, my husband, my mother, and myself are described by everyone as "easy-going," too. All three of us as stubborn as mules at home.)

Your post made me smile.  My

Your post made me smile.  My husband also has the same habit of ignoring me all evening, until I try to get some chores done and then suddenly he is all over me.  And if I don't instantly drop everything I am doing to return his affection, he gets angry with me.  Never ONCE does he offer to help me with my chores so we can get done quicker and spend time together.  It is always an urgent demand for affection the instant I try to get something done (usually something that I asked him to do three times and he ignored me until I just got frustrated and did it myself). 

Thank You

Jag-  As someone new to this website, and being the non-ADHD spouse, I really appreciate your perspective.  Reading through all of your comments about your wife (turning down your help, stonewalling you and being a spirit killer)- I wondered if my husband had found this site as well!  I am still in the stages of being hurt and angry, but I also am desperate to figure out what is going on in his head.  I have a feeling  he is feeling very similar to you.  He won't share any of his feelings with me, so it is nice to hear your point of view.

Hey Ren

So many times I have felt you empathize with postings I have made, and now I find myself empathizing with you.  I know how angry I was feeling all the time.  How I was beginning to feel I'd rather NOT spend time with my wife because it seemed like time with her was always so frustrating for me.  Just "simple" conversations were infuriating.  And so I was starting to have the urge to detach.

Well, I knew THAT was no solution.  I did not marry my wife just to detach from her.  But it really felt like we were getting caught in this vicious cycle that I read about so often here, and I SO did not want that to happen to us!  I started fighting really hard to save my marriage before it was too late.

So, I spent a LOT of time reading posts here.  And I started to realize, to really come to get it, that it was NEVER my wife's intent to make me angry.  I came to realize that she really was trying her best.  That enabled me to not be SO angry ALL the time.  And I started concentrating on understanding how my wife's brain works, and also tried to learn how our brains work differently.  How, for example, what is very simple for me, might be very difficult for my wife.  And so, I was even less angry about her behaviors.

But I also realized that while my wife had gotten a diagnosis and was taking meds, she wasn't doing anything else to address her ADHD behaviors.  And I kept hearing on this website, over and over, that taking meds is only a PART of addressing the problem.  Another part is to develop new coping strategies which take the way an ADHD brain works into account.  And the third part is developing new patterns of interactions in the relationship.  (Thanks, Melissa!)

And so, as I started to feel I was gaining some sort of understanding, I began to share with my wife that I knew she was trying very, very hard but that I was afraid that if she didn't do something else, like participate in coaching, things wouldn't change.  Well, you can imagine how that was received.

So I started saying things like, "I hear all the time that trying harder is not the answer, and I know you have been trying very hard, but nothing is changing.  So maybe you need to try something different." Again, imagine how my telling her what she needed to do came across.

So then, I started saying "I think we need to find someone familiar with ADHD to work with us as a couple."  I had to kind of force the issue - telling her I was reading how couples who do not address their issues get to a point where they basically can't stand each other, and that I did not want that to happen to us, but that I was afraid it would if we did not do something about this.

And I was very persistent in continuing to say WE need to find someone who is familiar with ADHD to work with us.

She finally agreed, and we have been making some good progress.

So I guess the way we finally began to get out of this vicious cycle was to start working with someone who understands ADHD.  What I needed to begin to let go of my anger was for her to agree to work with someone who understands ADHD.

And now that we are working together my wife is more able to participate in conversations with me about things I feel are NOT working, which she couldn't even HEAR before.  And I hope as we continue to move forward, she will be more able to share with me things SHE feels are not working, which she has been reluctant to do.  (She tends to be a "not make waves" kind of person.)

Plus, we are now beginning to work on how we might intentionally create times when there are positive interactions, so that it's not always about things that need fixing or adjusting.

Hope that helps!

I have ADHD

I am dealing with adhd and been on a medication vynasee or something like that and it didnt help it just put me on a cloud and made me grind my teeth alot. I do love my wife and dont want to hurt her . I just have loose lips and words fly out and i dont realize what i say till the end.I guess thats the short temper. If anyone has any advise it would be verry help full. My wife found this site and im taking this action..The 6 things u have listed on the blog describs me. I dont want a divorce i just want to have a normal loving marriage.

engagement....then ADD....can it work?

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I just became engaged to a man who I’ve been friends with for a long time. His intense focus on me was amazing, always intent on helping me when I needed anything, going out of his way with ease and without complaint. Frequent massages, exciting dates, endless discussions of the future and our plans for marriage, vacations, even a home and savings account with investments. We’re both 25 now, and he has moved to another country for his job. The distance is not a source of distress, I am starting graduate school and we have a deep level of trust. We have a similar family background, and strong religious ties. Everything seemed perfect until the last month before he left. He ignored me and focused on his computers, he will have 3 to 4 laptops going all at once with the tv on in the background. He can’t sit still and always has to be touching something, lately he has been touching me and its become offensive. To the point where he says that if I want to cuddle with him, I have to offer him something else to do with his hands if I want him to sit still. He tunes me out and changes the subject regularly, and often talks down to me. We are both very intelligent, went to the same college and had the same friends. There is no need to talk down to me.

He has reckless spending habits, has extremely expensive hobbies, and no concept of how to pay bills- hes always had his living expenses paid by the company he works for (we both work there). We both have the same military commitment to the reserves, and I try to get him to do his paperwork- even offering to do it for him. But he never does. He carries a backpack around everywhere with all of his outstanding paperwork in it, but rarely opens it up to finish. At work, he is the go-to guy. He literally does the work of 5 people everyday, and on bad days he does even more. He negelcts himself and his life for this job.

Up until now many of his habits, characteristcs, modd swings and pet peeves seemed to be normal and due to a hectic work schedule. As I’ve gotten to know a close friend of his who has dealt with ADD closely before, I finally realized that my fiancé is not the man I thought he was, or even who he thinks he is! I don’t want children because of the responsibility and overwhelming nature of caring for them. I love them, but am unwilling to commit to that level of responsibility for a human being. But now that my fiancé and I have intertwined our lives for deeply in preparation for marriage….I realized that I now have a child half of the time. When he is at work, he is a very different person. But when he is at home, he treats me like I am a pet. I’m his distraction to take his mind off of the real world. Therefore I cannot bring up any topics related to work or school, which is difficult because when we were friends we talked extensively about both! I have lost my friend and he has been replaced by a patronizing, hypoctirical child who I am afraid will destroy our lives with debt from ridiculous spending and obsessive habits.

I love the man he is when he is, as I learned from research, “hyperfocusing” on me. I can’t handle the man he is when he is tied to his laptops, videogames, and even porn (he downloads porn for hours, amassing a collection that I honestly never see him look at except when hes collecting it). I am afraid that to make our relationship work, I am going to have to sacrifice everything I want for myself- my career, graduate degree, self respect…he treats me like a pet. I just….I hope that there is some way for him to be somewhere in the middle between hyperfocusing on me, and ignoring me completely.  I’m sorry, this has become a rambling journal entry instead of the question I had meant to write. I’m devastated to have read many of these entries, as I never wanted to be in a relatinship with someone who couldn’t take care o themselves again. My last serious relatinship was with a man who was overcome with depression, and refused to seek help. I can’t do it again and its terrifying to have lost my best friend and fiancé to ADD….

He is intensly sensitive to criticism, and sometimes lashes out in cruel ways when I try to broach a topic where he was wrong, or made a mistake. He has no problem pointing out my mistakes and often has excellent advice- hes done much to help me in my career and studies when we were friends. Now that we are engaged....he never wants to discuss anything of a serious nature. Even budgeting! He is in almost 150k of debt due to his excessive hobbies (race car building, photography, technology and never ends). I could go on....thank you for creating this place for all of us to post. I don't know where else to turn because he refuses to believe he has ADD. Is there any way to reach him without completly chaning who I am and how I live?

Trying to have faith...

hockeymom11's picture


PLEASE get help before you get married!!  Take it from someone who has lived in a hellish state for over a decade.  I'm not telling you to give up on the man you love, but DO NOT commit until he is willing and able to seek help.  Denial is very real with ADHD people and it's what I'm dealing with now with my husband.  He too was hyper focused during our courtship, exciting, romantic, energetic the works. 

Now 14 years of forgotten birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, kid's games, school functions etc have worn me thin.  Severe debt due to his excessive spending habits, endless hours playing video games.  It's miserable.


please, please, please both of you get help so you can start off on the right foot.  Happy and healthy.

If I knew my life was to become this living hell, I would have walked away many years ago.

please make him get help.  it only gets worse without it. 

marriage to ADHD MAN

I would read the books on this site to know what you are truly up against. Faith is right in some of her comments but until he see's a need to change it's really hard to say it will work. It may take breaking off the relationship for him to see that he needs help. That's what it took for me and my wife. I am ADHD and alot his problems are alot like my own problems. I would say if he spends that much time on porn that should make anybody a nervous. If you break it off with him and if he really loves you he will do what ever it takes to get you back. That means being confronted about his issues and that will be the hardest thing you will ever have to do to someone you love. 

Getting tested for ADD  the right way is a brutal 2 to 3 hour of testing but well worth it. My Dr. made me go through a full testing and thank God for my insurance because it covered all the cost. This type of testing I went through really shocked me in the the way I think and process things. It really brought me to a certain reality. My Dr. and I are working out the meds and counseling. 

It can work but he has to get confronted with issues and you might have to walk away for a time so he can see his issues. If you don't some of what Faith said can be true. 






I am referring to what  by hockeymom11 - 08/28/2010 - 22:12 said not you. sorry for the mix up.

Is deception an ADHD symptom?

My wife seemed to be a paragon of truth and forthrightness. I'm reasonably astute and, having been deceived in past relationships, considered myself capable of discerning deception. But her behavior these past nine months has revealed a woman with seemingly a lot to hide. Her growing distancing prompted me to redouble my efforts at trying to make her life easier (I do 100% of the housework, bill paying and dog care -- but she she merely adds little variants to her list of things I should do and walks out again). She's from Europe so the only thing I know about her background is what she's told me, but even now after six years there are things said that just don't seem to add up. I've learned from researching that I need to quit questioning her inconsistencies but it would help if someone could clue me in as to whether deception is a factor with this condition.

Deception or distortion?

I remember thinking that my ADD husband was taking advantage of or manipulating me but, after much observation (especially when I noticed his deceptions were about trivial as well as important things) I realized that he actually believed what he was saying. It seems that his reality is distorted. Just today, he insisted that he told me that my mother called this morning. (He did not) He believes he's right and told me "I'm not going to argue with you about it anymore, I told you she called." That's his final answer though it is not at all unusual for him to forget to tell me that someone called, I've often joked around about him making a lousy secretary. On the other hand when his mother got divorced (from husband #4) there was only a brief mention of a gun being involved somewhere along the line... (?) and the subject was dropped. Further questions were disregarded or brushed off. The behavior feels very deceptive somehow as I'm inclined to think that if I can't trust or believe someone with a little thing, how should I feel about their integrity on a big issue?

Anyway, after some time and quite a bit of observation, I realized that my ADD husband does not contrive or intend to be deceptive, it just seems like a logical conclusion. What made it obvious is his inability to repeat a joke or play a board game. There is little recall or strategy going on to be able to do either successfully. He is very skilled at dodging issues that he can't keep track of or recall with light hearted social banter but, he's very serious about getting his own way. 

Sounds like you're just starting to piece things together. There is a lot of information here to help you understand what's going on. I can only empathize and comment on my own reality. Another poster commented that behavior like this seems evil, I suppose the root of it all is... I wonder how anyone else feels about it?

I have run into a very

I have run into a very similar issue with my ADHD husband.  He will say things that I know are not accurate, and if I contradict him he is INSIST that he is right.  This particularly pertains to recounting past conversations or interactions between people.  He doesn't make up stories the way a compulsive liar does.  He will simply recount something that happened in the past in a completely bizarre way that includes massive exaggerations and gaping omissions.  I had dated a compulsive liar before my husband, and there is a marked difference.  It is very clear that my husband believes that what he is saying is true, and doesn't see himself as exaggerating at all.  I've come to the conclusion that he simply perceives interactions between people very differently and his memory is altered by this perception.

Is he secretive? Does he tell

Is he secretive? Does he tell you he'll be home by 3 and come home at 9? Is he vague about where he's been, what he's been doing and whom he's been with? (Please forgive me, I'm not prying, I'm just trying to understand just how much of her behavior I can pin on AD/HD). Thanks.

He isn't really secretive.  I

He isn't really secretive.  I know all his passwords and he knows all mine.  He is very good about coming home when he is supposed to, and I don't ever worry about infidelity.  But YES, he is ALWAYS very vague when it comes to giving me information that pertains to what he was doing, in particular he is bad about answering any questions that have to do with time.  If I ask him how long something will take, he will NEVER give me a direct answer.  He will say something like "it totally depends on x,y,z, I can't tell you how long it will take".  But he does the same thing with money questions too, if I ask him how much something will cost, he can never give a straight answer.  I think he just isn't very good at estimating figures.

As for where he was or who he was with, he is pretty trustworthy, but if he does go somewhere out of the ordinary he will usually not volunteer any information and I have to ask him multiple questions to figure out what he was doing.  He gets annoyed with me when I do this, and will often make up sarcastic jokes like "I was out having an orgy with 4 circus midgets".  I think this stems from him feeling like I am too controlling. 

I have read about other spouses having problems with infidelity with their ADD spouses, but I have been fortunate in this regard.   He does spend time watching porn late at night, but he knows I don't care if he does that so he doesn't really have to hide it.

Vague about time

He's vague about how long it will take or how much something will cost because he genuinely doesn't know.  Rather than commit to something he doesn't trust, he tells you the truth.  This is hard to understand for people without ADHD because keeping track of time seems "easy" to us, but people with ADHD lose track of time frequently.  My husband, for example, is what I call a "time optimist" - he always thinks something takes less time than it does (and pretty consistently at about 30% off).  My daughter gets distracted in time - she's on the path to doing something, but gets distracted, then gets back to it, then gets distracted again.  Eventually she gets there, but it's hard to predict when it will be in advance.

Perhaps you can be grateful that he knows himself enough to remain vague rather than promise something he probably won't deliver on.

Thinking that something is right when it's not

Some people with ADHD have short-term memory issues that get in their way and it sounds as if your husband is one of them.  Some preliminary research suggests that some people with ADHD move to long-term memory faster than those without.  The consequence of this is in the retrieval.  Our brain stores only "chunks" of information in long-term memory (saves space?) and then, when we access it, pieces the story back together again in a way that seems to make sense.  This means that long-term memories are often faulty, even when we are convinced that they are correct.  Since people with ADHD often move to long-term memory storage faster than those without they can sometimes be convinced they know something happened when, in fact, it didn't.  But their version of events is what their mind is saying happened.

My husband and I handle this in a couple of ways:

  • my being aware of this means that sometimes I just drop something rather than argue in a "he said" / "she said" conversation.
  • I do this memory reconstruction mistake routine sometimes, too (Another reason to drop the "he said" / "she said")  Adopting an attitude of humility around memories can be very useful in a relationship (one needs to draw the line at the truly critical...but most of these conversations aren't)
  • We look for a different way to approach it.  Rather than arguing over what did or didn't happen, we circle back and ask ourselves what the original issues was.  Can we start fresh again and forget about what did or didn't happen?  (Goal is to resolve whatever the issue was, not to fight)

vague times

How long something may take is one of the questions that I hate the most, and the one my husband is always asking. I really have no idea how long it may take the simplest chores. I always am very vague, and he finds that irritating. I don't like to put a time on a project because there may be unplanned interruptions and than i may not get done in the projected time. It also causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety when i know i have a certain amount of time to do something when i have no idea how long it should take.  (I hope that makes sense). My husband also tends to let me know how long something should take, like it should take no more than an hour to mow the lawn, then i have to try really hard to live up to that. I now say yes it probably does take you an hour to mow the lawn, but I need to allow myself 2 hours.

It is very odd how my time is never the same as his, even driving one place to another. Last week I called on the way home from the store (already in the car), and it took me 15 mins longer than it takes him to drive the same distance. He called to see where I was because I should have been home already and he was waiting for me to go to an appt.  I'm not sure how that happens all the time I didn't even stop along the way.  Now I just tell him well thats how long it takes you which is very different than my time. The good news to this is the older I get the more I recognize these time issues and plan accordingly, I know that it is an inconvenience at times but if I am up front that I need more time than he would and maybe whatever the project that needs to be should be done in increments, or broken down into smaller steps.

Help...I have been dating a

Help...I have been dating a terrific guy for the last 7months, I thought we were so in love, at least i know i am, but 2 weeks ago after having started to take Adderall one month prior, he told me he wanted to back up our relationship 15 paces and be just best friends again while he took some time to figure himself out.  Prior to this we would text, call on the phone, and im at night...we dont see each other on a regular basis, because we live 350 miles apart.  When he told me he just wanted to be best friends he said that nothing would change about how much we communicated, he just asked me to be patient with him, and because i love him with my whole heart of course i said i would.  However, for the past 3 weekends he has gone away by himself to think about what he wants to do with his life and our communications have dwindled down to him calling me in the morning for 5 minutes and a im sometime just before he goes to bed saying good night and sometimes not even that much...he does still tell me that he loves me everytime that we talk.

After reading all of the posts it has not scared me away from him, i still love him all the same if not more, but now i understand why he is how he is...what i need help with right now do i get him to communicate with me again?  Part of what he is having to deal with has to do with trust, he was married before and because of that marriage he has a hard time trusting and opening up...for the most part letting people in.  So, if anyone can give me some suggestions...only positive ones please...that would be greatly appreciated.  I want to win my man back from what he is going through and no one i know seems to understand...and they all think i should just give up and move on, but that is very hard to do, when he has stolen my heart.

A delicate balance

You have a balancing act to do, particularly since you are so far away.  You need to respect his request for distance (if you asked for distance you would want someone to give it to you) yet communicate that you still care about him deeply.  You want to be supportive without being a sucker.

Find ways to show him you care even though he is currently distracted.  Ask him about himself and what he's going through and offer both a helping hand and a good ear (best way to learn to trust another person again is to be in conversations in which you find out that person is trustworthy.)  Send him notes without smothering him with attention (since he's asked for distance).

You should also, however, protect yourself.  At some point you will need to assess how long you are willing to wait for him.  If not now, then set a reasonable timeframe for yourself.  Otherwise if things don't work out you will end up feeling awful about yourself.  I believe that if you ar honest with yourself, you'll know when the time comes to disengage (and it doesn't sound as if you're there yet).


Our marriage has been a struggle because it's like we are from 2 different planets. My wife feels every symptom of my ADHD is a personal slight to her. I feel like I have cut so many friends and activities from my life and focused on coming home and trying to please her by participating that I have very little outside life left and we both feel that we are not supporting each other. Before I was diagnosed I didn't even know why she was frustrated with me. I love her deeply and  find her a charming, intelligent, beautiful, sexy woman with sharp wit and ready humor. That is, when she isn't feeling completely burdened by life with me. I am trying as much as I know how, but it seems to be slowly killing her with stress for taking on all the responsibility of managing a household.

What I wonder is; how do I help her not to feel so stressed and help her take time for herself? She sacrifices everything for everyone and no matter how much I try to pick up some of the slack, it's never the right decision, the right time, the right priority, the right toilet paper, the right way to fold the laundry, the right way to load the dishwasher. I am pretty frustrated. She also feels that I get all the benefit of being able to leave the house and work on my paying hobby. She really believes it's all fun, but in truth, it pays for itself and then some. Rehearsal is part of the preparation in order to get paid as a professional; it's not just sit around and jam and talk and relax. It's work. Its setting priorities and choosing material and working out arrangements. It's another challenge for me in trying to be organized and disciplined. She acts like it's a vacation for me.

She is working 20+ hrs week, taking online classes for her degree, and being responsible for 90% of the work and decision making for the household. She doesn't like or trust the way I handle these decisions, so she does it all. I'd like to help her learn to let some of that responsibility go so she isn't so overwhelmed and resentful. I'd like to learn to be able to take more responsibility on myself so she can take time for herself. Any suggestions on where to start?

I AM that wife!!!

My husband has yet to receive his official ADD diagnosis however it is just a matter of time. I am the one who manages the household from top to bottom including bills, children, pets, my own educational goals, family doctor's appointments, aging parents (his and mine) and my 32 hour a week job. Am I stressed, you bet!! My husband and I have been together for 18 years. From day one, I have encouraged him in his educational pursuits and have tried to make his transition from student to professional and eventually to husband and father as smooth as possible. As he changed careers (a few times) the one thing that we could count on was my ability to maintain organization and my consistent employment. For her, letting go of that control is a frightening thing. I would like to have my husband take some weight off my shoulders as well but the thought that something might be missed or that I would be left out of the loop is terrifying. What if my husband is so successful that he doesn't need me anymore or worse, want me anymore?? On the other end, what if it doesn't work out and my husband slides backward and lands us in a position worse than the one we are already in? One other thought, maybe she likes being known as the one who "does it all", making sacrifices for her family at the expense of herself. I'd be lying if I didn't perk up every time my mother-in-law says to me "I don't know how you manage it all". I look at this as a sort of enabling/martyr kind of behavior. I am hoping that meeting with the psychologist will help us both get a grip on how I can let go of some responsibility so my husband can feel like a successful part of the family. I take it you are a professional musician. A career that affords so many people joy can't possibly be work, can it?? I understand any time you have to perform to another person's expectation it's not about you any more, that's where the "work" comes in. If you can make other people and yourself happy at the same time, that's the biggest payoff ever!

 In my humble opinion, your wife has to be willing to let go perhaps just a little at a time. Baby steps and patience. Maybe she has never been the one not in control of things. Has she been this way all of her life? She may not know how to relinquish responsibility and she may not see herself as worthy of looking out for her own well being. She doesn't want to be seen as self indulgent. After having my son recently diagnosed, my other son in the process and my husband as well, I have realized I can't handle it all. My brain is sucked dry. I am finally looking forward to really starting to take care of myself and perhaps having my husband be interested in my own wellbeing too (we aren't quite there yet).

Best of luck to you and your wife  

Hi everyone, new here

I am a 37 y/o man and I believe that I may have an undiagnosed case of ADD going on.  My wife and I are currently separated, but working toward reconciliation, pending my behavioral changes.  Just a touch of background.  I don't know if there is any correlation, but I had epilepsy from the ages of 4-16.  I also had behavioral issues in school such as being too fidgety, daydreamy, and unfocused.  Yet some times I was really, really focused.  At age 12, I sat down in one week of my summer vacation and read the entire World Book Encyclopedia from A-Z.  As an adult, I have been extremely selfish towards my wife, leaving all major responsibilities on her.  I had difficulty sticking with a job early on.  She has considered me "just another one of her children" for a long time.  I have long known I had some kind of problem, but diagnoses of PTSD, Depression, and BiPolar Disorder all turned out to be dead ends.

The biggest issues in our marriage have been my seeming inability to listen and understand her, my lack of stability and responsibility, and my very short fuse and low threshold for frustration.  Very fortunately, the separation has given me the opportunity the see objectively my own behavior and realize what she has been through for the past 15 years.  I don't want to make excuses.  I just want to find the problem and fix it.  My therapist suggested that ADHD may be an issue here, and I am seeing an MD next month for possible treatment.  I have read up on it, and I do see many symptoms that fit.

My question is not a simple one.  There is no doubt that lack of maturity has played a large role in our marriage being where it is, and I don't want to use ADHD as an excuse for not being a loving and respectful partner.  I guess I am just curious of what kind of relief I could expect, if any from medication.  I have no doubt that it will be a difficult road ahead, but I love my wife so much, and I truly want to be the best me I can be for her.  I've put her through enough.  Thanks for reading this much.

Inappropriate public behavior a symptom?

I'm new to this site, so I wasn't sure if this was the correct place to post this. I've been wondering if my husband's inappropriate behavior in public was part of his ADHD, and it appears that it is. Can anyone give advice as to how to handle situations when he is rude and makes inappropriate statements/action in public? Some recent examples:

- He acts as though he's everybody's best friend, when in fact, most people are annoyed by him. He's prone to interrupting conversations, bragging, putting me down in front of others, talking too loud, asking questions that are inappropriate, etc.  He asked a woman in her early 50's if she was 60 yet.

- He recently ran up to a male friend of our teenaged daughter's and pinched his nipples, not once but on two occasions. Both times the child was standing in a group of friends and was totally embarrassed by this. I told my husband that this might be considered sexual battery, and he laughed and said he would do it if he felt like it and there was nothing wrong with it. This so embarrassed my daughter, that she no longer wants him involved at any school function. Her father is the laughing stock of the school, and kids now say things like "I'm going to pull a 'Mary's Dad'" and then do something stupid. (Mary is not her real name...)

- He called my stepmother a liar "as a joke". This later escalated into a physical fight with my father, causing me to be estranged from my father for over a year.

- He frequently gets into road rage incidents, getting out of his car to hit on other people's car windows. He sees nothing wrong with this behavior. I'm actually hoping he gets arrested for this at some point.

I'm so tired of dealing with his immature behavior, and the stress it causes is overwhelming.  I've come to the point of not really wanting to be with him in public any more. My daughter has threatened to run away from home. We tried marital counseling a couple of years ago, but he walked away thinking he really wasn't doing anything that needed changing. Can anyone relate to this?

ok, some of this is ADHD and some might be him.

I have been diagnosed with severe combined type ADHD and even before seeking treatment I never once, nor did my ADHD husband ever behave like that. Is it possible that he is using the ADHD label  to legitimize  his behavior? Does he have a co-morbidity? Did he have an assessment? Is he being treated for the ADHD?

So glad I found this website

Hi everyone, 

this is my first post. I am 53 and I have been married for 36 years to a wonderful man who drives me crazy!  I first thought about ADHD when  I watching Dr Phil, and I started to cry because I recognized everything about my husband in that story... I mentioned it to him and he did speak to his doctor about it but his Dr said that nothing could be done for him as an adult. So we did no more about it. However, the impact of this has been disaster and I am at the point where I feel divorce is looming. My husband is wonderful (yes you read that right) but he takes me on a crazy journey every single day. I can say that we are 6/6 on the score but he has not yet been diagnosed ( an appointment has been set up). There is not a single doubt in my mind that this is what he is suffering from. I am that nagging, bitchy, retaliating wife that I never set out to be.

I don't know if there are varying degrees of ADHD, but if there are, then he must be suffering badly. From a lack of responsibility, to poor car driving, poor parenting skills, no sexual activity for many years, no plans, forgetful, poor memory, problems at work, low self esteem, and the list goes on. 

One of the biggest problems for me, is also how it has affected me: I honestly feel like I am going mad, losing my mind and feeling totally depressed that thoughts of divorce or suicide have crossed my mind. Living with a partner that has this problem has to be one of the most soul destroying for the partner.

I told my adult daughter that her father was going to see a specialist to see what was going on with him (I did not say ADHD) and she went mad at me, blaming me for everything and saying that it was because I was dominating and over bearing, that I had walked all over him, and that I was needy... well at least that is some of the stuff she said as she berated me for 2 1/2 hours on the phone on my birthday!

What she will never realise is that I had to pay the bills, stop him from wasting money, make the decisions on purchases, take responsiblity for everythng because if I didn't do it, he wasn't going to. Yes I had to be the strong parent as well.

When he rang her back to try and explain she refused to talk to either of us, and so this looks like it is going to destroy our relationship with our daughter.  I am at my wits end, as it now looks like I could miss out on my four wonderful grandchildren, all because I tried to tell her that there was something wrong with her father and that we were seeking professional help.

In Hidsight, I Think My Ex Has ADHD

Wow I can’t believe how many of these stories sound like my marriage. Unfortunately mine did not survive. I came upon this site actually because my child is ADHD & my mind is reeling because now I am re-looking all the problems in my marriage through a new lens. We were 6 for 6 on the checklist. My husband was a very heavy drinker and that overshadowed all else. I figured that in itself explained his behaviours so I/we did not think there was a need to dig any deeper. I have read every single story here in “6 signs...” (it took all evening and I ended up with a very large pile of Kleenexes at the end) The more I read, the more I came to realize that I think his main issue was likely undiagnosed ADHD which was exacerbated by the drinking. Like so many of you others here, I felt my sanity eroding. When told time and time again that the sky is NOT blue, you start to think “Maybe he’s right, maybe I’ve been wrong all along” I felt CRAZY a lot of the time. I took on 99% of the household responsibilities. I felt like he was another kid and I was a single Mom without an adult partner. Often I tried to talk to him about an issue and was told “I can’t deal with this, I have too much stress at work” so home problems were often MY problems. Our marriage lasted15 years and like all, had its ups and downs. I have tried many times to peel back the layers and figure out if there was a point at which things took that turn from which there was no hope of success. Five years ago? Ten? That was just torture; eventually I came to the conclusion that it was a gradual process and trite though this sounds, it simply is what it is. He announced many times (usually when drunk) that the marriage was over. Then he’d sober up, tell me he loves me, needs me, please don’t leave etc. This pattern repeated itself with increasing frequency till finally one day last year this declaration was made in an even creuller manner than ever before and I decided I have to tuck my kid under my arm and get out of here because it will NEVER get better. I realized I was constantly holding my breath, waiting for the “next time”. Call it a roller coaster ride with no end (only temporary breaks), call it a living nightmare, there are so many fitting analogies out there. Lucy never did let Charlie Brown kick that football and I finally, finally realized the same was true for me. At first I beat myself up with guilt for not being patient enough or figuring out a way to make it work; to “love him better”. I felt like I had a ring with 1000 keys on it and I just had to persevere because I was convinced I’d eventually find the one that unlocked everything. I took my marriage vows very seriously and was determined to make it work. I kept telling my husband to please, please don’t give up on us; one day we will look back on this as a rough patch but we made it. I, like many others, was of the belief that it’s better to have a Mommy and Daddy together in one home NO MATTER WHAT. Well although my husband was the one who ended our marriage, I see now that it was the right choice for us. Nothing drove that home as clearly as the change in our child. Obviously a toxic atmosphere has a negative effect on children but holy cow was I ever in denial as to what extent. Whether you’re yelling at each other (yes, kids can hear through walls/closed doors, especially when they’re supposed to be asleep but instead are living on tenterhooks because they know something is terribly wrong in their home) or whether the atmosphere is silent/dripping with frost, or even simply a lack of affection and warmth. Kids are sponges and often we as adults are so wrapped up in our own pain, we think that as long as we feed them and read to them and take them to soccer, they’ll still think everything’s okay. WRONG!!!! They see the garbages overflowing with Kleenex. They catch you gazing off into space. They sense the strain between you and your spouse, no matter what measures you take to try and shield them from it. They are aware that you are barely coping. You and/or your mate are possibly short –tempered, exhausted (“no I can’t take you to the playground tonight, maybe tomorrow…”) distracted etc. etc. Stress is a beast with an insatiable appetite and until you bring it under control, you have no idea how much of you it consumes. I realize now that I was in a deep pit and now that I have begun to crawl upwards, I can see sunshine again. I’m not there yet, and make no mistake I still cry a LOT, but there is now a spark of hope and I realize without a doubt that this was the right choice. My child is doing MUCH better in school, and is just happier in general. We have a better relationship (I’m not nearly as short-fused and exhausted which helps a lot.) We laugh more, have fun more. I say “yes” more often to playing a board game, to going to the park. I can now be truthful about the tensions which were in our home instead of pretending everything was ok. We have had some amazing, honest conversations. This is primarily due to the fact that there is at last an absence of pervading anger, resentment and disrespect in my home. My husband has gone to AADAC and so far so good has remained sober. This makes me happy because it makes him a better Dad. It is bittersweet however because I also feel “Why NOW; why not when it would have benefitted our marriage?” But you can’t live a life of what ifs. I said to him “We didn’t have a good marriage; let’s at least try to have a good divorce.” And so far that has been working. We negotiated all the components of our settlement in a mature and civil manner (assets, custody, support payments). We both realized that you can spend a fortune and go to war and end up divorced or do it civilly and still end up divorced. We chose the latter and let me say, no regrets. We are not “enemies”, we made a child together therefore we are bound together for life. We have had to sell our family home, coordinate things regarding our child, attend the same school events etc. Make no mistake THIS IS NOT EASY. But it makes you feel so good if you can manage it. (One of my Mantras through this has been “You will never regret taking the high road”It’s so true) This is just my story. I am not advocating divorce for everyone in a stressful situation by any means. But I do want to say that for some, like me, it is the right choice. You should not feel guilty for considering it. You may consider it but ultimately decide to stay in your marriage. Whatever your situation, living in misery is always the worst option. Take steps to fix your marriage NOW if it can be fixed. Take steps to leave NOW if it cannot. Life is short; it goes faster as you get older. One final word for those of you who do decide to leave the marriage, do NOT go with a lawyer who fans the flames of hatred and wants to pit you against your spouse (unless of course you are in an abusive/vulnerable situation and you need to be protected). I have heard a lot of horror tales of divorces which turned into bloodbaths when there was really no need. Realize there has been enough hurt already. And lean on your friends and loved ones for support. That is what is keeping me sane. For the first time in years, I believe happiness is a possibility. Good Luck to all of you here; I hope you find your own path to happiness, whatever that may be. xo
Tired old man's picture

Incredibly well said!

Your words jumped right off the page and hit me between the eyes.  "Stress is a beast with an insatiable appetite and until you bring it under control, you have no idea how much of you it consumes. "  I am slowly coming the realize how deeply and completely the stress of holding my family together has taken on me.  I've always said to myself and my ADD wife, there's always another emergency coming right around the corner, and I have personally surrendered myself and my needs (exercise, good diet, meditation, good sleep and hanging with friends) in preparation for the next round of key lockouts, forgetting to pick up the kids at school, forgetting to shop for groceries, you all know the song. I'm not overweight, but I've become hypertensive, borderline diabetic and at one point, had ulcers. It's not easy to remind yourself to make time for yourself after years of conditioning, but I'm finally learning to tell  myself, "It's about time for me!".  Stress is a deadly dance partner and I'm tired of this old song.  Best wishes, sadgirl.  Thanks for sharing.  --T.O.M. 

All but #5- or were, now divorced.

Separated 3 years and divorced for one.  I know the ADHD was a huge factor in the deterioration of our marriage but it's still a revelation to read things like this & understand more.  We bought an old house to renovate early in our marriage, if you can imagine.  He said he'd "do all the work"  as he wanted the place so badly.  Of course it didn't happen and it caused all kinds of conflict.  That was pre-diagnosis.  But I came to realize that it would have been something else if it hadn't been that.  My ex finally got himself diagnosed at considerable expense, but then did nothing with the information- no meds, no treatment of any kind. 

I was supporting the family and doing pretty much everything at home too.  It definitely felt like having another kid that I eventually didn't even like anymore.  He felt zero responsibility to contribute to the financial support of the family or impending university expenses.  I don't feel that all can be blamed on the ADHD.  There's personality too.  Even though I was doing everything and the one my kids could rely on I got a lot of criticism from him & he was never happy with anything, could never allow himself to enjoy anything like nice experiences, vacations. 

So now the children are with me & he moved away to his home town.  I imagine he's quite happy living in his own little world, zoning out without other people around who would like his attention. 

I loved him a lot for a long time, but eventually the love faded away & it was a great relief when he moved out.  We did lots of counseling but things never improved for long. The divorce had to be, and I have no regrets.  Our children are doing very well and that is the main thing as I always knew that I would be fine. 


Hi. Thank goodness your kids

Hi. Thank goodness your kids are doing well. I am the non-ADHD wife and can relate to almost everything you have experienced, though we are just beginning our seperation. Can you describe what your seperation was like? Did he live nearby until it was final? Did you try to reconcile during that time? How did you hold up emotionally? Sorry, lots of questions I know, but I'm venturing into a great unknown, and it would help to know a little about what I might expect.

My experience

Hi Hermie40. I am the one who ended the marriage so my ex had a lot more difficulty emotionally. As I said, it really was a huge relief for me. I immediately felt better once he was gone, just free of the stress and tension of him being there. My children were all teenagers who could see what was going on before my ex moved out. He didn't want to go, told me he still loved me, but it was much too late for me. I was 100% certain it was what I wanted and that it was the way it had to be so no, we didn't try to reconcile. We had tried all we could before that. We know & our kids know we did everything we could to make it work & there was no way it was going to. That was important to us to know. Our children remained with me & he did live nearby. He agreed they should live with me to minimize disruption to them and also his inability to support them or provide a home suitable. I also told my children there was no chance of us reconciling. Now their dad lives in another community but they visit on occasional weekends, talk on the phone & maintain a pretty good relationship with him. After the tumult you could say that we have had a good divorce. We were able to keep everything peaceful for our kids and I understand that's one of the most important things for kids to do well with parents' divorce. We didn't fight in front of them or badmouth each other to them. They are secure with me too as I support them. So many factors to consider I know, but I am financially independent , have a good job, so money worries haven't been an issue. I was just happy not to have to support him any more, had come to feel like he regarded me as his meal ticket & little more. I have a lot of supportive people in my life too. Friends and family have all been great. I am very fortunate . My children have a much happier mom. They have told me they can see a big difference in me. I have even been seeing a lovely , sweet man for awhile. That has been a revelation, being with someone like him. So the uncertainties make it frightening, but there are many good things on the other side. I hope my experience reassures you somewhat Hermie40. I realize divorce experiences can be vastly different. But the divorce wasn't so bad, the marriage had become so. Getting divorced certainly isn't the worst thing to ever happen to me. Looking back I know I loved him & would do it all again as we had some good years & it resulted in 4 wonderful children and I have no regrets. I really mean that, no regrets. Ask me more questions if you think it'll help. Good luck.

an ah-ha moment

I just have to share with you Aimee, while reading your post - like so many on this site from the non-adhd spouse - so much of it I can relate to. But something you mentioned gave me that ah-ha feeling. The comment about never allowing himself to enjoy nice experiences, vacations. I remember when we had just gotten married and I took my husband to see a band from Scotland that I just LOVED that was playing here in the states. On the way home from the concert, he mentioned something about the venue and how it would have been so much nicer at "abc" instead of "xyz" and then he went on and on about the whole evening, basically putting it down. Which I have to say - up until his comments flowed - I had thought was just an awesome wonderful evening out. I remember saying to him that he never can just enjoy and go with the moment, that he always had to find something to pick apart or put down. I have always just written that off to his personality, but I guess it too might be another factor of his ADHD. His ADHD that went undiagnosed until I was in a deep depression (due to the side effects of the ADHD and our relationship) and pushed him into counseling. I wish I would have paid more attention to those things "before" ..... hindsight is 20/20.

I am glad to read that you went through with the divorce and seem to be happier now. I am walking that fence right now and we have a little one at home that I cannot stop worrying about. We've done counseling for over a year and like you mentioned - things never improved for long. He stopped going to counseling about 3 weeks ago and despite my best efforts we're sliding back down hill. But to listen to him, I've done nothing, nothing at all.

Me too, ah-ha.

Hi Pirate's momm. Your saying your spouse says you've "done nothing" is like mine too. Maybe that is also an ADHD trait. He is a blamer and would accept little responsibility for any of our problems. All me being this or that. I heard a lot of "you're so this, you're so that". Even though I lived with it for 20 years, I'm still learning a lot about ADHD and the familiar behaviours that I hadn't previously attributed to it. HAve you seen the tv show "ADD & loving It"? It interviews many very successful ADHD people such as actors, writers, doctors. My ex is the classic low self-esteem, low achieving , one poor job to another type. Unreliable. THank goodness I could support our family. My kids were teenagers but one of the biggest concerns is how it's all going to affect them. Mine have done great. I understand why you would be very concerned about your little one. I feel bad that we couldn't maintain ourselves as a couple for the family to centre around, but it's definitely a happier home now & there was no way it would be if we had stayed together. My ex was getting worse with time, wasn't the man I had married. I know I changed too & the incompatibility only got greater. As far as not allowing himself to enjoy things- he grew up with few opportunities. We had a reasonable lifestyle & were able to have vacations, go to concerts once in awhile, have some fun, but for him there was usually "something wrong" & he'd be a sourpuss & not enjoy it. I would have thought someone who now had chances to do things would appreciate it, but no. I hadn't attributed that to ADHD but maybe it is a trait too. He would often ditch plans with me at the last minute too. We'd have tickets for something then he'd tell me "I'm not going". Once he did it the morning we were supposed to get away for a few days without children. I had the time booked off work, arrangements made. That was the very last time I asked him to do anything with me, 2 years before we separated. What do you do with someone like that? Someone who's been diagnosed but won't do any treatment? You know what I did. I hope you find a place of peace for yourself Pirate's mom, no matter what you do. It took me a long time but when I did what I did, I knew it was the only way for us & the right way.

How to initiate treatment

I am fairly convinced that my husband has many of the classic symptoms of ADHD and our marriage has many of the dynamics described throughout this site.  He was diagnosed as a child but never really treated, and he is a recovering alcoholic (he quit drinking completely on his own 8 years ago after he could finally admit that it was a problem).  

We are about to have our second child and I have some major medical issues that will need attention after the baby is born, so am very scared that we are not in a situation that either of us will cope very well with once the baby is here.  I was worried about what a second child would do to our relationship before my own medical issues and now I am downright scared.  I cannot continue to "overcompensate" and he will need to be the primary caretaker of me and our two children--while I think some good can come of this and balance out our relationship, we need some good coping skills to go through this with our relationship in tact.   

He has agreed to see some one but firmly does not believe that he has ADHD.   I know from watching him deal with addiction that he can deal with anything he believes he needs to, but will NOT deal with it unless he believes he has to.  My question is what is the best way to go about this, recognizing I may only have one shot at getting him to see some one-- should I seek out a marriage counselor who might also be able to assist with ADHD, or should he first see some one who is an ADHD specialist?  My guess is that we will need both over time, but I am not sure which is the best place to start given his reluctance.  We live in a small rural area, so it will be a commitment to drive the hour and half (in traffic which is one of the things that puts us both over the edge when he is driving!) to see any one and I want to get it right.  Any advice would be most welcome.



Eye Opening

I just today had a conversation with someone that for the first time (after eight years of marriage to my wife) put the idea in my mind that ADHD was likely a significant factor  in our marriage (I had never even considered the possibility that she had ADHD). I googled "ADHD in marriage" right after that and this posting was one of the first things that came up. I was blown away. All 6 questions (although #2 has not been as much of a factor in recent years, since I have learned to just do my best to take care of things on my end, having found that nothing in the general realm of complaining helps at all) tell the story of our marriage in a nutshell. It is wonderful to finally have some hope that everything I have been experiencing may actually have an explanation that makes sense, and that there are things that can be done to help make things better! My copy of "The ADHD Effect On Marriage" is already on it's way from Amazon. Thank you, Melissa, for giving us hope.

This is the story of my life.

This is the story of my life. It is so bad that I have been interviewing lawyers and am ready to file for divorce.


I notice these are from the

I notice these are from the perspective of "non-ADHDer".  Then, it seems that some of the comments following is a re-victimizing of the offender.  That doesn't make sense to many who do not have ADHD - but for those of us who DO have it - WE understand tremendously.  You see, I have (undiagnosed) ADD.  There is no question in my mind since my son was diagnosed a year ago.  What he explains he goes through, I have dealt with for 41 years.  I had thought I was going insane, or that I was completely stupid, inept, unlovable, unable, a great burden, and the list goes on for 40 of those years.  Although the diagnosis for my son was very difficult, it was also a Godsend, since I now know what I am working with in my own situation.  After 11 years of marriage, I made mistakes that caused my husband to walk out on me.  Did I purposely "plan" for this to happen? Of course not!  Do I intentionally mis-manage my finances so that this week when I got paid, I realized that after the bills are paid, I don't have enough to feed myself and my son?!?  For goodness sake!  This is NOT a DECISION to make to PURPOSELY RUIN our lives!  One poster said she was ashamed to have married a "man like that"  - she "deserved" better - wow.  I'm a good person.  I don't "deserve" to have this disability.  It was inherited.  Good grief.  If you only knew a small percentage of the hell your husband goes through,  maybe the shame would fall elsewhere.   Have a nice day.     

Different situation than yours

I'm the one who said that, but I think you misunderstand my situation. We're talking about a guy who would physically hurt his wife and say, in essence, "your face got in the way of my fist." The ADD isn't what I was "ashamed" to have married: It was a man who insists that he never, ever does anything wrong, and used this as a weapon to bludgeon his marriage to death.

Was the ADD his fault? No, of course not, and I don't blame him for that. But it's not mine either, and I don't appreciate being blamed by him for the pain it caused both of us. I could have lived with a man who admitted that he (knowingly or un) did things that caused incredible pain and difficulty to others, and was trying to work through that. I can't live with the promise of unending abuse and neglect at the hands of someone who thinks he's perfect, thinks that everything he does is perfect, thinks that everything on earth must be worked for his benefit no matter how it affects others, and feels justified in calling someone horrible names and saying bizarre, reality-bending things when they say "ow" because he bruised them. And will then lie to his friends and family and say that you hurt him instead. Whether any of this is part and parcel of the ADD is irrelevant. Living with him was killing me. It was horrible dealing with the pain of being hurt again and again, and then constantly blamed and berated on top of that. And I do deserve better than a lifetime of that.

You are a good person. I can see that just from your post, and I really hope things get better for you and your son.

5 of 6 also... unfortunately...

Neither my wife or myself knew about her ADHD until long after we were married. We've been married roughly 7 years at this point... Ironically, my wife is an LCSW... a professional therapist. She picked up on her own condition in the past year and is currently on meds for it. The meds have greatly helped her ADHD, but have negatively impacted our once VERY happy marriage. We have 2 children and I have another older child from a previous marriage. I experience everything I've read on this site thus far (I only registered today), and I feel vindicated that I'm not alone and also pleased that my wife isn't doing these things just to DO them. Reading the other posts I've read gives me hope for OUR marriage. I now feel that I can understand her condition a bit better and not just jump to personalizing all her feedback. I get all of it... eye-rolling, sighing during "discussions" or disagreements/conflict; a lack of sexual interest on her part or a lack of focus which leads to her frustration (this from a VERY orgasmic/multi-orgasmic woman). I'm no spring chicken (late 40s) and neither is she really (early 40s), but the eye-rolling, lack of attention to my emotional needs and the now all-too-infrequent sex have been difficult. VERY. But I DO really love her and our family. I'm not sure what to do about the sexual issue, but I know I can't have SO little sex forever. I'm not THAT old. Ha ha.

I'd appreciate any suggestions... I'm definitely nearing a place where I feel I might need to make a decision re: our marriage.

We're you both happier when

Were you both happier when she wasn't taking the medication? Is it possible she doesn't require medication?  Should she try a different one?

Thanks for the response...

Well, she was DEFINITELY a LOT more sexual OFF the meds... initiated all the time etc. But she'd get angry more before she was on the meds... I think I've got her convinced that "we" need to look at a different medication. But she definitely noticed a MAJOR difference in her ability to focus at work ON the meds. 


I find it interesting/odd that an ADHD stimulant medication hinders her sexually.  That is such a huge side effect of the SSRI category medications (Paxil, Prozac etc) would definately think that if she is more awake and alive and focused, she would also be interested in sex as well.  Yes, I agree it's time to visit or at least speak with the prescribing physician and see what can be done.  In my experience, as well as reading here, the sexual issue seems to be with the NON ADHD partners, as we are so FED UP and angry.

Thanks for the help...

Well, on TOP of the ADHD meds, she's ALSO on Prozac. So I guess REALLY, the ADHD affects her sex drive/focus, and the AD meds curb her drive. Same outcome for me unfortunately. And like many married women in my experience, the lack of intimacy doesn't bother HER too much. Ha ha.

You're right though... as the non-ADHD partner, I'm beginning to get highly-fed up/resentful etc. It's gotten to the point for ME where I've suggested that I not sleep in the same bedroom as it's merely a REMINDER that there's a 90% chance we're NOT going to be having sex. Sigh. Had I known before we had gotten engaged, married and had children...


First off, I was under the impression that Prozac was a last resort SSRI for ADHDers. Other meds are tried first, but more importantly...isn't it standard practice to work on the ADHD, med-wise, first, without any anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, etc. interfering, and then​ to add the latter back in? In other words, first you address the ADHD, and then you address other mood/depression/anxiety issues.


As they say, hindsight is 20/20.  Issue is....was the non interest in sex before the ADHD meds?  I would tend to blame it on the Prozac.  You never said exactly what ADHD med she is on, btw.

You are correct...

Sigh. I believe the main culprit is the Prozac. The manifestations of ADHD certainly don't HELP foster a great sex life (with the inability to focus/live in the moment), but I'm guessing the meds don't exactly help EITHER. I'll have to see which one she's on... at any rate, it's definitely no fun and shows no sign of ebbing. Sadly.


I find it interesting/odd that an ADHD stimulant medication hinders her sexually.  That is such a huge side effect of the SSRI category medications (Paxil, Prozac etc) would definately think that if she is more awake and alive and focused, she would also be interested in sex as well.  Yes, I agree it's time to visit or at least speak with the prescribing physician and see what can be done.  In my experience, as well as reading here, the sexual issue seems to be with the NON ADHD partners, as we are so FED UP and angry.

Six of Six :(

I have read so many comments regarding the six signs and I feel for all of you. My wife recently got diagnosed with ADD and also her two children from a previous marriage. It does explain a lot, however, now when they are all on medication, their behavior does not change. Being responsible, being on time, cleaning up after themselves is not happening. I have two children from my previous marriage and even if they are younger, they are more responsible. As soon as I bring this up in a conversation I get the cold soon as I bring any issue up regarding following rules, paying bill on time, responsibility etc.....the cold shoulder right away. We have not even been married for a year, dated for a year and a half before getting married. I feel the resentment more and more the more I have to remind everyone of what to do a.s.o.

I feel that I now have five children (four teenagers and one soon to be teenager) instead of my two. To top it of she, ALWAYS takes kids side......especially when they are wrong. Instead of teaching them responsibility she constantly undermines me in front of the kids. The lack of respect, caring about me and my boys, and taking overall responsibility of household chores and finances are really starting to get to me.

We are seeing a therapist, who informs my wife of what to do however, my wife refuses to do it, even on meds. I don't understand???

I would really appreciate help, advice, and pretty much anything that will help the situation    

Same here

You have described my dh more acurately than I have been able to put into words myself.  And these are the issues that have affected me most negatively. Is this ADD or is this just oppositional?  I would like to know too.

Same Here :)

Thanks for making me feel that I am not alone in feeling this way. I don't know if it is oppositional, adhd, passive aggressiveness......what I do know is that it should not be this way. I am by nature a problem solver and I do not give up, however, this entire situation has me very bewildered since it really does not matter what I do. his will not get done and when I enforce rules, bed times etc I get the cold shoulder or even worse....the mean and sarcastic comments. When I then ask if we should sit down and discuss changing rules, bedtimes, chores etc.........then she walks away.

I was really excited the first few times we met with the therapist, because we were both given books to read to understand what was going on and then solutions of what to do. I have done everything that the therapist have asked me to do and my wife have done pretty much nothing. I feel extremely alone since I am the one shouldering pretty much all responsibilities in the house.

Another thing is the lack of simple "thank you's" for things that I do for my wife and her kids and even worse the lack of apologies when they break things. This has to do with manners and I have a hard time believing it has to do with adhd since they say thank you and apologize to other people but for some reason not to me.

The more I write in my diary, and read it again, I have a hard time thinking this will work out since she is not even willing to do what the therapist telling her to do

Any thoughts???

I have become a person I hate

I am constantly fighting with my husband to the point that I found him to be too unbelievably insensitive and clueless to be normal. I have never cried so much in my entire life until this marriage, constantly feeling angry and frustrated yet I receive no genuine support or compassion from him. It shocked me that he felt nothing seeing me so distressed and hurt. Then I stumbled upon this site and BINGO! All the signs listed here fit him and our predicament to a T! My biggest suspicion arose when I began to draw parallel between his 12 yr old son's (from previous marriage) behavioural problems and disposition and his. Needless to say the boy has been diagnosed with ADHD since he was 7 but my husband has not. Whenever we quarrel, he can't seem to figure out why I get so worked up. He always doesn't see his fault, blames me for everything and NEVER apologises even though it is as obvious as night and day that he's driving me crazy and faulty. When he wants to talk or feels excited abt something he wants me to see, expects me to drop whatever I am doing immediately without any regard to the importance of my task at that moment to share in his "excitement" which is usually nothing but a personal obsession with a song, tv programme or a new coat of paint that he just completed. We have a 19 month old daughter now and no prizes for guessing that I often have to scream my lungs out to get him to help me with my overwhelming stress over child minding and other domestic matters. He drives dangerously too despite the fact that our baby is in the car. Ironically, he always reminds me not to speed, blurts out unnecessary caution when I am the one driving and he's the passenger. At first, I thought he's one heck of an egoistic guy who hates to be fixed. But his constant blame on everyone and everything except himself starts to appear unusual to me. He is often socially inept, blurting out whatever he fancies regardless of how offensive his words can be. He has difficulty respecting authority which gives rise to regular conflict at work. After reading this website, it now makes sense to me that his annoying and provocative ways are much more than a mere character flaw. It is a mental disorder. Now the fun part is to convince him to seek formal help and diagnosis. In the meantime, the nightmare continues.
CurlyQ's picture


Having read this book, having raised a child with a "mild" case of ADD, having read Driven to Distraction and  Is It You, Me or ADHD, I can solidly confirm that ADHD is the reason for ALL the problems in my marriage.  I have a husband who loves me very much.  I love him just as much.  For years I'd said to him, "Someday something is going to happen to me and you'll see how out of balance this relationship is."  There have been nights while reading your book, that I've had tears running down my cheeks-for the sadness, the grief and the frustration of not having had this diagnosed in my husband earlier.  

Today was a day so full of desperately needed  hope.  My husband had an appointment with a psychiatrist who could prescribe for him,  ( We have been seeing various therapists trying to work out marital issues, who weren't MD's who could prescribe an Rx.)

My husband spent an hour with this Dr, who in the end said that my husband wasn't ADHD afflicted and that he wouldn't prescribe anything for him.  

Bordering on despondency is how I'm feeling.  


You should go....

Any time an ADHD spouse is going to see a physician for a diagnosis, the other spouse should go also. ADHDers do not see things from your perspective -- to them, they are are absolutely normal. You would probably be amazed to hear the answers your husband gave to the psychiatrist. You have a right to be there -- this affects the quality of YOUR life too.

My guess is the husband feels vindicated

I can hear the conversation now. "No, the doctor says there's nothing wrong with me. You're the one with the problem. If you'd just stop being so angry, everything would be perfect." and this will give him the excuse to not do anything more to contribute to his household. I doubt she can ever get him to see a doctor again.

Even when I was PAYING for my husband's therapy (because he refused to work) I was told I had no right to participate in the sessions or have marital therapy. I was just supposed to pay up and shut up.

I figured it out

I have been married for 14 years happily for me, but she was living with me and my ADHD and now she wants out. I now have a grip on what has hampered me for all my life. I had trouble communicating with my wife and did not understand why. I was treated for this (with adderall ) and found immediate results, but I still face an impending divorce. This makes me cry. I hope that it is not too late because I care so much about my wife and love her on many levels. During the marriage I shared frustrations but lacked solutions. I have hope for our relationship but this is all I have. It takes two to make a relationship work, and before she was the only one that seemed to care, and now I am the only one. All I can hope is that time will heal. I have so much regret from all that has happened to us and wish I had figured this out before it came to this point. I guess good will come out of all this someway. I just really hope that it does with her not without. She is an amazing person and she deserved much better than what I offered. The thought of losing her hurts so much, and I wish I understood how much she was hurting.

The first change I saw was the ability to listen. All my life I would think ahead of conversations and not hear a damn thing people were saying. Now I feel like I am in the present it is fabulous. Next was confidence I wanted to call my wife and tell her "I think your hot." I can do things more organized I was creating to do lists wow I have never done this in my life or at least done it well. This all happened the first day. Later that night I read a book cover to cover I can't remember in my life being able to retain information while reading I was always distracted and could never concentrate. We have separated and I am the one that initiates the scheduling of our children, I would have struggled to do this task or procrastinated it until it would frustrate everyone. I have such hope for me but for her she reached the burnout before I found change.

All I have left is the hope that time will heal and I continue to get better. 

Thank you for this website Melissa it has helped me understand both sides of this problem. 

so confused and sad

Hi... I dont even know where to start but here it goes. My spouse was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. As an adult he does not take medication. He has self managed it quite successfully but has had moments. 7 years ago he became indifferent to me. We have a very loving, caring relationship so when he decided to break off our wedding, being angry with me, telling me he didn't know if he loved me anymore it was a complete shock to me. We had a break for 3 monthsand after ever attempt I started to move on. He then came to me, begged me to take him back and I did. I love him. We were stronger than ever, had a child, of course we have has rough patches but we always worked them out. My spouse has been working away from home, he works 3 weeks away home and home for one. Its been a little over a year, we don't like it but we needed to do something or risk loosing our home. Our relationship to me got better, most intimate than we have been in years. But this last trip back to work something changed. He texted me and told me his adhd was messing him up terribly. I of course offer to be there for him. But of course I messed up by reacting wrongly to a request from him and he completely ignored me for days, along with my five year old son. I then got angry and kept texting him asking him what was wrong. I finally got a reply after telling him he was scaring me and needed to know he was alive! He finally told me he was unhappy. But didn't clarify if it was with me or work. He finally called me and told me he was unhappy with me. I was shocked, had no idea as I said we seemed happy. He told me he didn't know if he could continue to love someone that doesn't love themselves. I was speechless... It was due to a comment Imade about disliking my body, iI am overweight and not happy with the way I look but ivdo love myself. I told him this but it didn't seem to make a difference. He went on to say he has given up stuff to make me happy but can't tell me what because he didn't know at that moment. I have been in agony for almost three weeks over this. It didn't clue in that it could be his adhd. My mother told me he had expressed to her that he was struggling with his adhd on his last visit home. I decided to hit the internet to see if adhd can effect how you treat your spouse and your site came up. I have been reading... and crying I love him so much... I feel bad because after he told me his feelings I blew up and was an emotional reck asking him why he was doing this to me and that it makes no sense. He finally called me back a couple days later, which I had been researching relationships in hopes to find a way to communicate better with him. My mind is in overdrive with all the questions as to why he is doing this. We spoke, I remained calm and I apologized for how I reacted, told him it shocked me and I was willing to try if he still was. He says he is and wants to talk it out when he gets home. Today he was very curt with me when he called after I told him my son was still sleeping. He didn't want to talk to me. I text him and asked why he didn't seem to want to talk to me and I told him I'm here for him if he needs to talk or just needs to vent. He finally relied, told me he was cranky and not feeling well. I pick him up tmrw and honestly I'm scared. I'm scared I will say all the wrong things. I want to suggest that he goes see a doctor and tell them how he is feeling and see about going on adhd medicine but I'm scared this will anger him... Any advice on how to approach him on this is greatly appreciated. I'm crying all the time, its soooo hard to hide it from my five yr old, he's caught me and has been acting out because of my lack of attention. I really need to get a handle on this for his sake. I read some of the post and they are very helpful... Some are terrifying to me. He's managed so well over the past 13 yrs(we've been together 11 yrs minus our little break) that I'm at a loss on how to help him. I also feel bad I never researched adhd to understand him better. I just keep praying that things will get better and that he don't leave me.

We love someone who does not love us

being angry with me, telling me he didn't know if he loved me anymore

spouse has been working away from home, he works 3 weeks away home and home for one.

he completely ignored me for days, along with my five year old son.

He finally called me and told me he was unhappy with me.

 Today he was very curt with me

 He didn't want to talk to me.

Dear Jenia, I used to be you.  My H has done and said all these things. I kept trying, working, giving and most of all crying.  We think we love them. No, we just don't know how else to BE and we are afraid to be alone.  But look....look at what the facts are.  He is not worth your tears.  Obviously he THINKS he wants his freedom more than he wants you and his son.  I am sorry.  My H was a traveling salesman.  So much freedom and then he gets to come back to a family that he takes for granted.  I wonder what this pull is for us to WANT to be with someone who DOES NOT CARE FOR US.  My relationship too, has seen him being OK after a blowup or a while away - then ACT good for a little while. SELF RESPECT is something we both need to work hard to get back.  Right now, while someone we NEED is treating us like something they want to throw away, it is eating at our confidence, trust, faith, sanity.  It could be that we love security because security is being disrupted trying to love a partner who is secretive and contrary.  We must find our own strength and security.  How to stop crying?  Get to a counselor who will hear your fears and grief.  A good counselor will help to set your mind straight and force you to get a check on reality and be with you to mature into a strong woman who can stand up for her self and her child.  I am doing the same here.  

Jenia, the translation of how he treats you is this: He does not love you. If he says the words we want to hear...I love you....they are hurtful words because his actions do not match his words so instead of making us feel secure and loved, the words are false and crazy-making.  I am sorry.  Accepting this and finding strength will permit you to let go and find a better life.

What is love?  Listen to Helen Fisher "The Brain in Love" Ted Talk.  She describes what love IS.  It is not what our H's are showing us.

I dont know what to do now. I

I dont know what to do now. I just discovered the reason of my horrible marriage. And till now I kept blaming him. I kept trying and trying to make it work, he promised to change and I admit that he tried too but only for a day or two and then returned back to his old self. And then I always cry so much. And while he was following I always noticed that he was under extreme stress. I didn't know anything about his state, until just now.  I don't know what to do, I live in Pakistan, and here if I tell him about it he will get angry that I'm accusing him of being insane. Here, people think any psychological problem means the person is mental. Telling him or anybody else is totally useless. What should I do? Is it possible to handle things differently but without mentioning that he has ADD? Well at least I won't nag him anymore or get frustrated when things don't work properly. I have an 8 month old baby too, what if he has inherited it from him? Thank God I found this out before my marriage got totally wrecked. 

I am overwhelmed.....

These are my stories too.  My husband must have ADHD.  For 30, yes thirty, years,  I have lived with a man who has lost job after job and can't explain why.  We are currently suffering financially because his job situation just continues to get worse due to his lack of focus and organization.  He can't carry out simple tasks because he gets distracted doing others.  He never remembers anything I tell him and it makes me feel like he just doesn't care.  In the beginning of our marraige, he was so focused on me but lost that focus and now we barely communicate.  He can't hold a conversation for any length of time and a lot of the time falls asleep instead of listening.  If he attempts to read anything, he falls asleep.  Therefore, anything that relates to paperwork or paying bills, I am in charge of.  I feel like the biggest nag but what I have become is his mother.  I hate what I have become.....he is like having another child, a 58 year old child and I am just tired.  Tired and depressed and kind of done.  I am obviously angry at myself and at him.  I asked him years ago to go see someone because something was just not right.....of course, he never followed through.  I think I want to leave.....I have spent 30 years doing this.......I don't know that I am capable of doing the work to try and fix it.....I am too exhausted.

What to Do

I've been married to my husband for 8 years but instead of our marriage becoming closer and stronger every year we've gone down a very different path than I could have ever imagined. I strongly feel that my husband has some form of ADHD but he refuses to seek any medical advice. I have brought up the possibility of medical testing multiple times but he simply remarks to me by saying, "There is nothing wrong with me, I'm just fine." So this basically leaves me guessing that this could be an issue in our marriage which I am highly suspect by his personality traits, behaviors and actions. It leaves me feeling lonely, withdrawn, unloved and ignored. My feelings aren't important enough to him to want to do something that could help change our marriage for the better. He seems satisfied with things the way they are but I'm really unhappy. I feel at a loss at what I can expect to change if he's not willing to consider that he does have an issue. Any suggestions?

Hi sicjwc

One suggestion; Take your focus off of him possibly having adhd; and just make a list of the things you feel or living proof your marriage relationship is an unhealthy one....Find a good counselor (I would recommend a Christian Counselor) but, a reputable one at least.....Then if he refuses to go...take your notes...Go and share it with the counselor it's painless; and I believe you will be glad you did....



I am the so-called "Mr. ADHD", and you all can organize and tidy up all the so-called diseases and disorders to make you feel comfortable, but as for me: I am not at war with myself, I go through life in ways that interest me, I am not going to let others' tantrums bother me just because of how I choose to conduct myself. People do not have power over me, even the woman I love most and is truly "the only one for me," in other words the only person I could ever hope to tolerate living with; and I do sincerely wish that in a more sane world I could marry her but in this one I cannot and choose not. Does that mean everyone in her family including her should just off themselves in suicide because they cannot turn a stubborn and self-satisfied man into a selfless provider from whom sprouts imagined futures and imagined great-grandchildren? Get a grip people, life is for YOUUU to live in today. Love as much as you can. Love doesn't have to be sex (though its good, its a bit overrated in the grand picture). Love doesn't have to be between people. Just be present. Everything else in this world is taken away from us, so that we must toil endlessly just to have a positive bank statement? Flip a switch or merely swap the lens of your perspective to see the truth, that even now as we're speaking or you looking at this webpage we're all dead as grains of sand in the desert. Love keeps us going. God's love brought life to what is dead. Yes the courtship period is dead. I've replaced my heart with brains, I love with my brain. That is the so-called "ADHD curse" you perpetuate. We "Mr. ADHDs" are opportunistic and happy. Is that so evil? Who doesn't use others? People using others does not end with the type of men and husbands you are all having tantrums about: many women will be used by salespeople, many women will be used by employers, many women will be used by the state; and only they seem to be blind to such injustices and continue throwing monetary worth and more importantly TIME at these heartless faceless entities that care not about you nor love you. If you read all of this and still it doesn't sink in, you will never understand your so-called afflicted husband or significant other and ought to write them off as selfish people, nice as they are.

Well Rice & Beans you said one thing that is truth!

(God's love brought life to what is dead).....But you can take the rest Mr Opportunistic with you....Your self-motivating speech we aren't buying....To many of us have been carry a irresponsible happy child in an adult body (seeker of a self interest life) way to long....To buy what you're selling.... At least you have been wise enough to not vow any commitments you would never take serious....For that I applaud you! The God who brought you from the dead....Now His message is SELF....But you and I; we were just brought from the dust to bring Glory to him....Maybe someday you will get it! C

When sheeps take care of a

When sheeps take care of a wolf you know God is laughing and shaking his head from up above

Rice N. beans.....That days coming...

I apologize for my reply R&B it wasn't called for.... Isaiah 11:6: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. C

Can't Cope Anymore

We've been married for 18 years and have 3 children (17, 13, 11). My husband was diagnosed about 3 years ago after I urged him to get tested. Years of losing jobs, forgetfulness, and all around not being able to keep up with our daily lives. I thought being diagnosed would make it easier for me. But since his diagnosis I feel a sense of hopelessness bc now I realize he can't ever change and this will be my life forever. I work full time and have basically raised our daughters on my own. Been thinking very seriously about divorce over the last couple of years bc I am so upset at how my life is. Mostly, I am upset at this angry person that I have become. It feels hopeless to me. He feels like he wants  us to work on it but I am exhausted. Not sure how we can come back from this. I feel like I don't have what it takes to be the non-ADHD partner...supportive and understanding. We now have a very negative way of interacting with me just being the angry person and he is defensive and depressed. Is divorce the right answer?


If I were in your shoes

If I were in your shoes Kismet, knowing everything I had learned in life and having my own biases, is wait until the youngest is 18. I wouldn't do it in such a way that there's a lot of legal fees and financial penalties for the husband, just let him go peacefully so he can figure out what is important to him. He may realize that he had a lucky streak, had a wife and kids and life was good, and it still is OK, but that was just a passing chapter in his life that he was damned lucky to have, and now he can go be a trucker or figure out some other way to spend his time. And after the separation you are also free, the kids are grown up and now you can travel around and have new experiences without being chained to your house. There's a problem going on in America and the Western world today where men are just forgoing marriage and children to avoid these situations. That is because divorce is so costly. If you make the process easier, there are less perturbation to the aether and some man in the world can say that divorce is not always so ugly