I'm so glad to have found this site. I'm at wit's end! I've been married for 21 years and I don't know how much longer I can take living this way. My husband is a good man, I firmly believe he has good intentions and I believe that he loves me as best he can. He has severe ADD (not so much the HD part, thank the Lord) and has known he has this diagnosis for most of his life, but he refuses medication and he refuses to admit that it's an issue. He is so defensive, I never know when any comment is going to trigger anger and a huge defensive reaction. He turns everything around and makes it my fault, to the point that I learned to preface every request I have with an apology that I probably do whatever it is worse than he does but...(fill in the blank). It's like he has a force field around him that won't let in any sort of acceptance that he's done something wrong. Anything he does admit to, he says I drove him to do. I've spent so much time blaming myself, going to therapy trying to figure out what's wrong with me, and trying to accept that I have to take responsibility for all the little things that he doesn't notice or see or those things just won't get done. We have tried couples therapy but any time he feels threatened (which can just mean that someone politely suggests he needs to change something) he antagonizes the counselor and we end up quitting. He says we need to find a counselor who is smarter than the 4 we've already tried, because none of them can see through to the real problem. Which I've come to realize in his mind means that they don't see that the real problem is always me, which (believe me I know I'm not perfect) after years of therapy I know is not the truth.
The hardest thing is, he just seems to entirely lack empathy. He has no ability to put himself in another person's shoes, and he will simply ignore even the most serious situation if it threatens his own comfort or requires his attention. I honestly don't know sometimes if I'm dealing with a narcissist or if it's just the ADD. His parenting mirrors all of this and it's often like having an extra child. He takes everything his teenagers say or do personally, like it's an attack on him, and then he fights with them as though he's the same age (actually, now that my oldest is 20, he's more mature than my husband when they argue...despite the fact that my son also has ADD). He demands respect but he doesn't listen, pay attention, or understand what others are going through and he doesn't do the daily hard work it takes to truly earn that respect. It's hard to respect someone who doesn't listen to or respect you. It's hard to feel loved by someone who ignores your pain and your real needs.
Our son went through a major depression a few years ago, and he simply ignored what was going on. It was very scary, very serious and it lasted years. My husband checked out entirely, dealt with it by yelling at my son or ignoring him, and left me to deal with it alone. He fought me on getting any kind of help for him and I made the mistake of respecting that for far too long, and our son suffered for it. I spent years on alert, up all night with a depressed kid who I was worried would hurt himself, dealing with escalating issues that involved self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Before long, I had exhausted all my own resources and ended up with major depression myself! He ignored this, too. He ridiculed me. He minimized my pain and refused to take it seriously. He refused to help even when I begged him to stay up with me at night because I was afraid I'd hurt myself. He told me not to go on medication and made me feel awful for considering it. He took my depression as a personal attack on him when he considered it at all, and most of the time he pretended everything was fine.
After years of this suffering and misery I finally went against his wishes and got help for both of us. Both of us were in counseling and both of us are on medication, and thankfully that has gotten it under control. We are stable now, but the root of the issue is still there...I really can't pretend any more that this is OK or that I'm at fault for all of it. I can't pretend that if I'm depressed or sick or in need of help again, the man I am married to will be responsive to my needs. And honestly I'm dealing with some PTSD because of the scary and prolonged situation with my son. I don't like the person I've become and I hate the fact that right now I honestly have turned off my own empathy and compassion where my husband is concerned. I'm just so tired of his needs being more important than all of the rest of ours. And I hate it that we wasted years trying to make him happy by not facing what was going on and getting help...those are years we won't ever get back. When I try to discuss this with him, he tells me it was awful living with depressed people and wants me to feel sorry for him for having to go through that. I have a really hard time feeling sorry for him, although (since I was the one dealing with our son's illness) I do know how hard that is. Then I feel bad that I don't feel bad.
I'm committed to staying married and doing everything I can to make this work. But I am starting to think that it's going to depend on whether or not he can face the fact that his issues...whether they are ADD or some other, larger problem...need to be addressed and worked on. I've told him that I want him to go to therapy himself, but he's not done it so far. I really don't think that couples therapy will help until he starts to work on his problems as well, but I'm willing to try it again in hopes that maybe a marriage therapist can help him see that he needs help. I don't know what else to try.