So tired of being at the bottom of my husband's list

My (suspected) ADD husband is so eager to impress and please everyone, and can charm himself out of (or into) any situation.  But when it comes to me, it feels like he doesn't care at all.  He has no interest in anything I say, and will actually walk away from me when I am in the middle of telling him something.  He has, on occasion even walked out of the house while I was in mid-sentence.  Today he actually closed the door of the room he was in, so I could not talk to him from the next room.  The one sure way of getting him to NOT do something, is having me ask him to do it - no matter how simple the task.

We are on vacation with our two young children, visiting an old friend of my husband's, who has moved to another country, and I feel like a tag-along - like I'm not even supposed to be here.  We spend every waking moment with his friend, and his friend's circle of friends.  I'm an introvert, and need quiet time to recharge - something my husband is well aware of - and I am exhausted by the constant interaction with people I hardly know.  (Not to mention the fact that my husband's friend is THE loudest man I've ever met!). I like these friends very much, I just didn't realize they'd expect us to spend every single moment with them.  And yes, I have expressed this to my husband.

Today, I was in bed all day, sick with food poisoning - and my husband somehow thought this would be a great day to finally entertain friends at the house.  They lingered over coffee as he made them breakfast, then offered everyone drinks when they dropped by after tennis - all the while laughing and conversing loudly, as I fought stomach and headache upstairs in bed.  When I told him I was upset at his lack of consideration, I could tell he was angry.  This is always the pattern:  he does something inconsiderate or thoughtless (sometimes even cruel), and when I express my upset over it he gets angry at me.  Because in his mind, he's done nothing wrong.

I have read and researched ADHD, and suspect that he does have it.  After some initial resistance, he is now beginning to accept this as a possibility.  I have recommended some of the books and websites I have read on the subject, but he can not be bothered to read them.  One book I brought with me, I left in his bathroom to skim (it's written in bite-sized chapters, half page each) but he wouldn't read it.  I then bookmarked the "chapters" I thought were relevant, but he laughed at me for doing that, and still would not read it.  I tried to read it aloud to him, but he couldn't be bothered to listen.  

I'm at my wits' end.  I have suffered so much mistreatment and neglect by him, and have searched for answers and solutions in my self, knowing that I can't change his behaviour, I can only change my own.  When I considered divorce a few years ago, I told myself I needed to do everything I could to save my marriage, so that if it did ultimately end in divorce, I could tell my children in all honesty, that I had done everything I could to try to make it work.  And I truly have.

I realized today when he would not read the book, that I have been trying so hard to get him to make an effort, but he just won't.  I have been trying so hard to be understanding.  I feel I have the insight, ability, and desire to comprehend how ADD creates certain patterns in his behaviour and in our relationship.  I accept my responsibility in these patterns.  I want to find out how to alter these negative patterns to improve our relationship.  But without him acknowledging the effects of ADD, we can't work on anything.  And I just continue to suffer - despite all the efforts I've made.  I'm feeling like I've waited a long time for a change that's not going to occur, and thinking it might be time to separate.

I'm so sorry, your pain is

I'm so sorry, your pain is really evident in your writing and I can relate to your feelings. All I can say is, without my own weekly therapy, I wouldn't be at a place where I realistically feel ready to leave. Not just saying it. I really recommend the book Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. It was a chance Amazon recommendation that has changed my life. I realized that all my problems were not my fault, and that I am not alone. As you said, you can't change him, but you can help yourself, and in time you may see more clearly what is going to be best for you.


Typical untreated ADHD

Hi, everything you describe sounds like it's out of the textbook for untreated and neglected ADHD (the neglect probably started with his parents or wider family, I am not suggesting he wilfully does it but that is how he has come to live his life).  If he gets evaluated and if he can find a drug combination that works for him then his outlook could be good. It will depend on his attitude.  It is an unfortunate fact that the instrument of perception that could help him see his situation (his brain) is *the* very thing that isn't working properly and that gives him an erroneous and incomplete understanding of his world and of yours.  If he can accept that he has ADHD and if he takes that realization seriously then his and your life could be unrecognizable compared to what you have now.  He would have to take the meds for the rest of his life but many accept that. My husband was 'absolutely scared' to be evaluated, feared that meds would 'make him not himself' but is now a total convert.  It can be done.  But  your husband needs to understand the severity of the impact of his condition. Don't push him to read about it if he isn't willing yet.  If he is willing to get an evaluation, make sure as far as possible, that it is with a medical doctor or psychiatrist (ie who can prescribe, not a therapist), and with one who understands adult ADHD (not child ADHD, there are still some dr's out there who believe all kids grow out of it, but research shows that is not the case).  If after months or a year or so you've tried all the meds (there are many combinations, it might take a lot of experimenting or it may not), and if he is one of the minority for whom drugs don't work, then you can know that you tried. 

"I have been trying so hard to get him to make an effort, but he just won't"

His neurochemistry is 'sub-optimal'. His brain does not work like yours.  It's no-one's fault and it's not a character flaw.  Until his neurochemistry is addressed then asking him to make an effort is like telling someone to cure themselves of epilepsy. They can't, it's real and it's physical.   For some ADHD people it may be easier for them to see what is happening, those with more severe manifestations struggle much more - if he truly has ADHD them he's somewhere on a spectrum - everyone is unique, has unique life history and circumstances, and much of his behavior might also be learned responses.  It can take time to untangle.  But his behavior towards you (walking out mid-sentence etc) probably does not reflect how he feels about you at all.  (Always with the caveat that sometimes a bad relationship is just a bad relationship after all.)

(I'm non-ADHD female, married to ADHD male)

thank you

Sunlight (what an appropriate name for you!!),

I simply cannot begin to tell you how much I gain from reading your posts.  You are thoughtful, understanding, knowledgeable, and articulate.  Thank you for taking the time to post to so many people and share your insights.

I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks researching, reading, thinking, worrying (I'm good at that one), and trying to decide what to do in regards to my ex.  My friends say, "run away!", many people on this site say, "it will never change!", and my own little inner voice sometimes says, "it's just not worth it - it's hopeless".  But then I read your posts and I am pulled back to reality that he does not do the things he does on purpose to hurt me, and he is probably hurting just as much or more as he tries to struggle through life with a brain that fights against him.

I don't want to be co-dependent or spend my life with rose-colored glasses never seeing that, in fact, he isn't going to do what he needs to in order to improve his life, but I am not ready to give up on him yet.  He desperately needs someone to believe in him, and I still have the strength to do that right now.

So again, thank you, God bless you, and know you have touched at least one life here in a very profound way!!



thank you

opps - hit submit twice by mistake

Sound advice

Thanks for your sound advice sunlight.  Everything you say is true, but it's been a year and a half now that we've been aware of the possibility of ADD, and a year and a half that I've been encouraging him to seek diagnosis (we've been together for 11.5 years).  That's a year and a half of me trying to be understanding while my husband ignores me, lies to me, is constantly late, breaks promises to me and to our children, loses things regularly, sleeps in every morning while I get up with the kids, stays up late every night while I put them to bed, gets angry at me when I ask for help around the house, disappears regularly without telling me, is completely unreliable, makes impulsive plans & purchases, disregards my feelings, flies off the handle unexpectedly, and digs us deeper into debt, yet is constantly groping me and wanting to have sex - and all the while, I'm trying to hold together the responsibilities of running a house, caring for two young children, and managing our finances.  I had to take a leave from my job as a teacher, because our home life became a 2nd full time job for me, but when I ask him to reign in his spending, he tells me to go back to work.  So I really am stuck between a rock and a hard place.  

One of the things about this situation that bothers me the most is that everyone thinks my husband is "Mr. Wonderful".  They have no clue about what I have to deal with on a daily basis, so I come off as the bad guy when I have any complaints.  Or they brush it off as "usual husband stuff", having no sense of the severity, persistence, or breadth of his behaviours.  After many years, I have finally learned to suffer in silence.

I don't want to divorce, but this is not the life I want.  The older our children get, the more difficult a divorce will be on them.  I don't want to give him an ultimatum, but I wonder if separating might alert him to the severity of the situation, because he does not seem to get it.  Either he needs to take some responsibility for his behaviour (I'm sick of the constant excuses - the potential underlying ADD matters not if he chooses not to acknowledge it), or we're headed for divorce anyway.  I'm terrified of the financial implication of a divorce, and of the upheaval of mine and my children's lives - but I'm out of ideas.


I, too, am so sorry

I can hear the pain in your posting, and I am very sorry you've come to this point.  All I can say is this - only you can decide when you've had enough.  If you want to keep trying, that is not wrong.  If you are ready to separate, that is not wrong, either.  No two situations are exactly the same.

He is very, very lucky to have someone like you who is willing to do so much work to try and improve your relationship. 

I will say even in non-ADHD relationships, I listen to my girlfriends complain about their husbands and deal with similar situations like your husband inviting friends over when you have food poisoning.  I'm not male-bashing here at all - I love the differences between men and women - but sometimes I think we expect all men to think like us and they just don't, ADHD or not. 

Finally, an appointment for ADHD assessment!

A glimmer of hope:  3 session ADHD assessment of my DH begun with Dr. Tim Bilkey, of Barrie, Ontario - an expert on Adult ADHD.  Hoping for a positive diagnosis, because all my eggs are in this basket.  I am all out of baskets.  

Session 1 had me join my husband, who gave himself low ratings for most items on Dr. Bilkey's "Fast Minds" checklist.  I was to offer information if I disagreed with my husband's rating of himself - which occurred with almost every item, and I had lots of examples to support my rating.  

I am nervous about the next session, in which my husband goes alone.  What sort of behavioural - hopefully scientific - testing is used to assess someone whose perception is so distorted, that they are unable to give an accurate account of the frequency & degree of their own ADHD symptoms?