unable to cope

Let me say, first and foremost.  I love my wife.  I love her with all my heart, and I would go to the ends of the earth and do anything physically possible for her.  I am attracted to her in every way.  She is everything an ADDer like me would be attracted to, plus sooooo much more.  She is my "distraction" most of the time.  I have to try not to daydream about her during my work days and projects.  I really could make a whole page of the things I love about her...  but with all that...  I am unable to make her happy.

she has "checked out", gone cold, and put up a wall that seems unscalable.  She has had one disappointment too much from me.  Her hurt, turned anger, has turned into cold apathy.  "I don't even care to try"  she says "I just don't have faith that you'll ever change"  I think the abusive words when she was angry hurt less.  at least with her anger my ADD brain thrust me into defensiveness so I could avoid any blame.(for the record, I'm not condoning defensiveness)  those words though.  and the look of disappointment on her face...  A look like I've never seen before.  If I could imagine what a thousand knives stabbed into my heart simultaneously felt like, that would be what I felt.  As she explained how she felt alone, rejected, ignored, and like I didn't give a shit about her, my knees began to shake.  I began to feel sick, and dizzy.  My heart pounding on my chest like it was trying to get out and run away.  All the words adding up to say "I don't believe I want to be married to you, and I think it was a mistake." 

what do you say?...  My brain must have ran through a thousand different word choice and reaction scenarios.  I can only imagine the dumb frozen look on my face for the seconds before breaking into tears.  thinking to myself.  "how could I not know I'm doing this to her"? "How broken and faulty am I?"  

the only thing to come out loud was a soft "I'm so sorry"

You should have seen her face...  Her eyes...  the pure, unhidden pain.  What kind of man could do this?  What kind of person would cause this in someone he says he loves you to?  

The amazing thing about that day...  I heard her.  buried beneath a thousand ton of my own pain.  I heard her.  I felt for her.  I didn't blame her.  I understood.  but maybe too late...

Her heart opened for that moment.  long enough to cry out in pain.  A moment without anger, arrogance, or judgment.  Just the hurt, and loneliness.  And as quickly as it was open, It closed.  tight.  Since then I have witnessed a little anger.  otherwise receiving cold nothing.  A couple nights of sleeping alone.  Zero communication except for short, nondescript, annoyed answers in response to my vain attempts at communication and some sort of reconnection.  There is a small amount of recognizing I exsist, but mostly because I make it hard not to notice that I'm trying everything I can to reach through.

after days in a row of this, my anxiety is so high my adderal gives me heart palpitations, I haven't slept in days, and my ability to focus has left the building.  My feeling of self worth is through the floor, I've become quiet and secluded in social or work/social setting.  I have become hyper focused on my ADD, but I'm not sure in a healthy way.

She has become...  secretive (secretive may be extreme, but she goes places, or doesn't come home for a long time after work and won't give any detail about she was doing) In what little conversation I was able to get (after a whole evening of being avoided and finally finding her already in bed hiding behind her computer), I expressed my interest in her day, told her I had missed  her, and thanked her for the note informing me she would not be home until later.  and then politely asked her what she had had going on this afternoon...  her reply...  "not much" followed by shutting her computer, setting it aside, pulling up the covers and rolling over, her back to me...  I laid there in the dark for a moment...  a soft "good night" is what I said to her, with only silence as a reply.  as I lay there in the dark...  Alone...  Next to who I had believed to be my soul mate, in the silence, my brain fluttering in every direction.  Helpless, like a stack of papers in a wind storm, all there is left to do is cry.  

as the tears form, and i'm feeling even more humiliated (I know no one can see me cry, but its a guy thing), I suddenly only hear, in my head, my wife telling me off for feeling sorry for my self, and realize I cant cry here.  so I get up and leave the room, half hoping as I walk to the door that she would notice, maybe even ask if  something was wrong.  She doesn't stir.  Like I was never there.

Helpless...  I'm not sure if there is a word that better describes me.  I don't know how to act, what to say, or do.  I don't dare try and win her over with more empty promises that I can't keep.  I only know one thing I can promise for sure.  I will fail to meet her expectations, and will let her down again, and again, and again...

Alone...   very alone.  I am a lemon.  a full lifetime guarantee to disappoint.


Oh, I'm so sorry things have taken a turn for the worse with your wife. I could feel your pain as I was reading your post, and it seems like you really do want to save your marriage. So, I wanted to encourage you not to give up hope. Your wife is still there and hasn't left yet. So, I think it's safe to say that there may be part of her that still wants to work on this marriage and is trying to see if you're on board too. And, I think one key way you can show this is by suggesting you both see a marriage counselor. I'm not sure if you're already seeing someone on your own or have pursued it through this site? But, if not, I think it would be good for the two of you to be able to express how your feel to a professional and hopefully get some concrete advice on what sort of changes would make your relationship better. Also, while working at Focus on the Family, I saw some information on one of their sites about how to better concentrate on the areas in your life you want to fix when you struggle with ADD/ADHD. For example, having a sort of mentor in your life who can help you if you're getting off-track or making a written plan of how you want to improve you marriage. So, just some ideas to consider. Well, hang in there friend! You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

What I've learned here

Keep breathing. 

I've been married 35 years to a guy with ADD, and he still doesn't believe it, acknowledge it, treat it, or understand how it has affected both of us.  But I know ADHD doesn't make him broken, damaged, "less than" etc.  It's just his particular set of obstacles to overcome.  Just like I have my own.

What I've learned from reading on this forum:

1.  People with ADHD usually have to "hit bottom" or have a crisis in order to get started on a new way of living with ADHD.  You seem to have done that.

2.  People with ADHD do better once they acknowledge their symptoms and crappy coping mechanisms have caused difficulty in the marriage.  You seem to have done that.

3.  People with ADHD do better with formal diagnosis and treatment, and that treatment should include a range of things, not just one thing, including medication, exercise, coaching, counseling, etc. And they keep looking until they find the right professional help.  And they keep checking with others to see if what they are doing is still working.  And they don't quit doing what works when they feel "better".   Have you gotten started yet?  Made an appointment?  Waiting for an appointment?  Then take a walk or run.  

4.  People with ADHD, once they get started, have to learn how to be their best selves, how not to push their spouses away through too much "hyper focus" on immediately restoring the relationship, develop patience, and talk to their spouse about how best to begin restoring trust.  "Do" what needs to be done.  Do it again tomorrow.  Do it again the day after that.  Do it because it needs to be done, not because you are trying to prove something, or to get praise for trying, or to win over your wife.  Do it because it needs to be done.  That's where you will get your pleasure and satisfaction from taking care of yourself and your family.  From doing it.

5.  Spouses of people with ADHD can hold onto hurt, anger and resentment for a very long time.  Frequently longer than is beneficial even to them.  But that's what they choose.  

6.  Working on you, rather than the relationship, can benefit both you and the relationship.  You are going to be with "you" forever, regardless of how the relationship goes.

7.  Look for posts by DF, ADDHusband and YYZ, two other guys who are walking the path you are just starting.  And there are more.  

8.  If you happen upon a flaming post by a non-ADHD spouse who has been suffering for years, thinking she/he was alone, and is desperate and miserable, use them as exercises in learning about defensiveness.  Pretend you are a scientist sifting through the anger and hurt for the little nugget of data that can be useful to you... you might find "Oh.  I do that.  I didn't realize that's how it looks to my wife.  I can change that."  You are a seeker of knowledge here, and you'll use every bit of it to improve your own life.  Don't read these kinds of posts as an excuse for continuing behavior that doesn't work for you.  

8.  I very clearly see the pain you are in.  Grieve for a while, , as often and as long as the grieving moves you along the path, for the person you thought you were, for the life you thought you had.  Grief comes and goes in waves when you least expect it.  But don't confuse the way you feel in grief for who you are.  "I am a lemon.  a full lifetime guarantee to disappoint." I will fail to meet her expectations, and will let her down again, and again, and again..." That's bullshit.  When we tell ourselves this kind of crap, it just gives us license to prove it's true.  Feel sad, angry, regret, sorrow, hurt -- whenever you need to feel those things.  But there is no scientific formula that says those feelings = a bad person.

It doesn't feel like it, but your road has turned a corner.  Best wishes.


May I be the first to give you a round of applause and a standing ovation for what you have written?

Very thorough, concise and to the point.  I don't think you missed anything.  That is perfectly put !!!

Thank you rockland45 for your

Thank you rockland45 for your encouragement.  It is much needed.  Also thank you for link.  I have that page pulled up in another tab right now.


I'm breathing.  Taking deep slow breaths.

I very much appreciate your insights.

To fill in some gaps:  Yes, I believe I am at bottom.  And have hit there rather hard.  It came as a surprise to me, because I had already thought I had found bottom once...  guess not.

I thought I had realized and was managing my symptoms well.  what I realize now, is I was only managing the symptoms that I felt.  Not the ones that effect the people around me.  Mostly my wife.  I mostly have a grasp that it is happening, and am excepting that it is happening.  I am still just beginning to understand exactly what and how it's happening.  I have become much more open to feed back, and trying to hear what the complaint really is beneath the hurtful words that come out in the anger.  It's One of the most difficult tasks I have ever encountered.

I do have an official diagnosis  I see a Therapist regularly.  Currently about every week to two weeks.  I've been to a few of them until I found someone who fit well.  I faithfully take my medications.  I don't like the way I feel off of them.  I also try to maintain a high protein diet, fish oil, control my caffeine, and sleep cycle.  Since "hitting bottom", I have recently started two new things.  I am trying Yoga and have just started seeing a chiropractor.  I first decided to see a chiropractor for some lower back pain and neck pain.  After doing some minor research I discovered some case studies on the links to spinal subluxation and ADHD symptoms.  After talking with the chiropractor, I've decided to add it to my treatment/management plan.  

Several things have made me realize a mistake I've been making.  I haven't been really been seeking management for me.  I've been trying to make my wife happy, instead of treating for me.  I've decided to approach my management in a direction that allows me to bring out the best in me.   Although my wifes anger and resentment makes that focus very difficult.  My wife is so focused on her anger and blame, that she is not interested in repairing the relationship.  She believes I have to take the full responsibility for where our relationship is.

I'm just beginning to understand the reasons behind my wife's anger, and more so her hurt.  I have just started to reading Melissa's book.  It has already started opening my eyes further than just my situation.  I have also read some of those flaming posts by non-ADHD spouses, and have repeatedly heard many of the exact same statements that my wife has made to me.  It doesn't take a genius to start seeing the connections...  even when you don't want to.

Your number 8 struck me...  In fact I ended the last sentence in tears.  I don't have much to say about it, other than, It was exactly what I needed to have said to me.  Permission to feel the way I do, but with calling me out on a belief about myself.  Thank you.


Nicely put!

It means a lot to me hearing this kind of understanding. I feel like I have learned so much from you Gardener, and many others out here. You keep reaching out to people like me, who need a bunch of help and I wanted to say how much I appreciate it ;) 

I almost died

We almost died last night...   It was quite an experience.  It was a long night.  I will probably never learn that when my wife is angry with me, and she asks me to go out with here, it is probably to have me cornered in the car so she can communicate at me.  yes, I said "at" me.  after a good couple of hours of getting the brunt of a non-ADHD partners anger and blame, she did take me to a movie.  

On the way home...  We came inches from being hit head on by a drunk driver...  I think I can tell you the serial number on his head light bulbs...  It was that close...

My wife was driving, and did an amazing job of reacting.  I give her the trophy for driver of the year...

The event...  if only for a short time...  reconnected us...   when we got home we talk about the experience. how close we came to death... or at least serious injury.

I hugged my wife.  told her how precious she was to me, and how thankful I am that she is ok, and How devastated I would be if anything ever happened to her.  She also shared similar statements.  It was the first time in weeks that in the night she cuddled up to me.  we even held each other as long as we could into this morning.  I had missed being that close to her.  

I had the idealistic thought, that maybe this is the moment things turn around.  The moment you realize life is too short, or you realize what you could loose.  I held that into this afternoon, until she returned.  I was sitting on the sofa, reading Melissa's book on my computer when my wife came to sit down next to me with her computer too.  I was comforted by that.  I smiled and welcomed her there.  the pleasantness didn't last though.  She looked at what I was reading and gave me a funny look.  I said, "I'm working on my ADD and how it's affecting our marriage.  I'm reading The ADHD Effect"  She knows of the book.  She is a therapist herself and is familiar with a lot of resources.  She began to read a small section from the book, out of context, and decided to use that to make a point about how it is wrong how the nagging she does is seen as her fault and it's not fair how it makes her the "bad guy" and that it's the ADHD that makes her do it and its my fault for not managing my ADD...   Well... It goes down hill from there.  I asked her to give me a break for 5 minutes, and ended up not seeing her for 7 hours until she returned home.

I tried to talk to her.  I apologiesed for getting flustered by her, and told her how I understood how that made her upset.  She ended up turning it into a conversation about if this marriage is going to work or not.  She has no more patience, and doesn't ever see herself forgiving me.  She is angry because I get to make all the choices that affect our marriage, and she is just stuck with the consequences of my choices.

It looks as though I either fix my ADD and it's affects in a mater of days, or I may be working on it single...  A big swing from this morning.  I didn't get angry.  I listened, even with getting accused of not hearing her.  I have put down proof after proof the last couple days of the things I've realized, learned, and started moving toward.  but, "You have ADD.  The likely hood that you will actually keep focused and follow through is statistically slim."     Yes, thank you for you positive reinforcement.  so...  you want me to get it managed, but you feel the need to say things to lower my self worth.  And what is the purpose of that?

You will get a lot of practice at this....

If any of what follows is useful to you, great.  If none of it applies, if I'm way off the mark, then never mind.  

1.  Rebuilding your marriage post-diagnosis is not a before/after kind of deal.  It's not even a steep or shallow upward learning curve.  It's not even two steps forward, one back.  It's just a mixture of good things and bad things, connecting moments and disconnecting moments, distance and intimacy......and the future will either reveal more total positive than negative over time, which might save your marriage, or it won't.  There is no "if I do this, then I will get this".  Mainly because there are people involved.  Events like your driving experience are more like a flower in a vase -- lovely in the moment, but wilting over time... You need to just keep on planting, watering, tending more and more flowers, all the time.  You're never all the way there.  But you knew that.  

2.  you want me to get it managed, but you feel the need to say things to lower my self worth.  And what is the purpose of that? Well... it is to punish you.  I have been married 35 years.  I spent the first third of my marriage confused.  I spent the next third of my marriage feeling ignored and hurt.  I spent the next third of my marriage PISSED OFF!  I spent the last five years withdrawing.  Then, after all that work "adjusting" to the reality of my marriage, I discovered the ADHD Effect on Marriage.  You can see the sort of stages I went through.  Now, with enough knowledge about ADHD, you might even understand why.  Another non-ADHD spouse might only take 1 year to go through these stages, or might leap directly to anger.  Now that your wife finally has your "attention"  you're going to have to hear all stuff she was saying when you weren't paying attention, or you heard but didn't believe it, or you heard it but thought it was her fault.  

3.  follow through is statistically slim  She really would rather not get her hopes up.  She doesn't want to be a "chump".  She's gotten her hopes up before.  

4.  I have put down proof after proof the last couple days of the things I've realized, learned, and started moving toward.  You can write down your successes, the things you've learned, etc. in a journal.  Otherwise, just keep "doing what needs to be done" and shut up about it.  Sorry.  I just don't want you to believe you can earn "points" from your spouse.  You can't draw her into learning more... you can't persuade, bully or guilt her into acknowledging her share of the responsibility... Want proof that you can't?  Was she ever successful in doing that to you?

Lastly, so sorry you fell into the "conversation in the car" trap.. (insert evil laugh)   It's the ideal environment... there is no TV, there's  not another room you can escape into.  

Keep on keepin' on. 

Add one more thing

I just wanted to add that I have a great deal of (unhealthy) motivation to hang onto my anger and not give "credit" to my spouse for efforts/improvements/changes he makes.  I have long held the position of "responsible" and "virtuous" in my marriage... I am the GOOD GIRL, I am the WRONGED WOMAN.  I get things done, I'm kind and attentive to people whereas I have plenty of proof he is not, right?  So if I give credit where it might be due, doesn't that make my pedestal a little shaky?  If you start to be a little more right, doesn't she start to be a little more wrong?  Our minds are crazy things, and they come up with all kinds of reasons for continuing bad behavior and crippling mind sets.  If she was "right" to nag you all along, how can she admit that nagging never helped and now hurts more than ever?  The most unfair, cruel part of this realization is that you CAN'T tell her those things... any more than she could successfully tell you where you needed to make changes.  Would it be helpful to you if she were encouraging and gave you credit for your efforts, instead of belittling your efforts and predicting success?  Absolutely!  Do you need her to do those things in order for you to make changes?  God, I hope not.  

I'm on that pedestal with

I'm on that pedestal with you, however, I am not jumping down! LOL! Seriously, I feel all those things, too. I used to be in that place where I felt my anger was justified, and let's be honest, kept me safe. I think I've come to a place where I can say, yeah, I've been angry, but I know it only served to cover up a world of hurt. I don't function well in a state of pain, so I let it turn to anger. As far as who is right and who is wrong? This may sound conceited, but to some extent I was right! I knew my husband's behavior was not healthy. I knew it was not normal. Did I know how to deal with it in a healthy way? Probably not, but I'm refuse to beat myself up for not doing something when I had no clue what was going on. I tried for years to deal with my husband using a model that all the experts would say should work with a "normal" person. Nothing worked. So I got angry. Now I know he has ADHD and I have to learn how to respond to him better. Neither one of us has been wrong. I still see myself as the good girl, the one who gets things done, the one who has had to put up with a boat load of crap from my husband, but I've decided I can be those things and allow him to be a good man, who tries to get things done, and has had to deal with the aftermath of his ADHD. If I need to work on not blaming him for things that happened as a result of his ADHD, then he has to do the same for me. ADHD causes forgetfulness which causes nagging. Now that we BOTH know better, we will do better.

The more I know, The more I don't know

Thank you gardener, and Waterfall.  I am very grateful for you sharing your perspectives

it has been helpful shedding some light on things for me.

I feel like your wife and I

I feel like your wife and I are one and the same! First, let me tell you that I think it is terrific that you have taken the initiative to read the book, come here to this site, and do whatever you need to do to manage your ADHD. My dream is for my husband to get to the point you are at some day. Let me offer some suggestions, as someone who has felt the exact same things your wife is experiencing.

First- address her nagging. Tell her you don't think she is the kind of person who would nag her husband under normal circumstances. Tell her you realize she has been put in a difficult situation and the nagging is a result of her having to deal with your ADHD. Am I saying we non-ADHDers are not responsible for our own behavior? No, but I can tell you I hate being a nag. It's not me. I never wanted to be in a marriage where this is common. Tell her you understand that dealing with your ADHD has turned her into someone she is not. 

Second- validate the truth in her statement that she pays the consequences for the things you do. I know exactly how she feels. Your ADHD has probably caused you to do and say many things that changed her life FOREVER. Don't underestimate the impact it has had on her. Own it! Telling her you are sorry is nice, but I can tell you, apologies lost their impact on me years ago. She wants to know that you get it! 

Third- admit to her and yourself that she is right. Managing your ADHD is not going to be easy. Let her know you understand the irony of someone who has an attention problem having to focus on their attention problem. Don't make false promises, she's heard it all before. Tell her you are committed to managing your ADHD. Tell her you are going to do it with or without her. Ask her to support you, but let her know you understand that she is long over due for some support from you.

I can tell you from experience, she is tired of feeling alone, tired of feeling like your support system, tired of picking up the pieces. She is running on empty. You need to figure out what she needs from you and give it to her. Dates, romance, surprises or anything that lets her know she is loved and appreciated are necessary. It's not too late. She obviously loves you. That near miss and the way you came together proves there is something to build on.

Have you read The Five Love Languages? If not, buy it today! We all receive love differently. This book will help you figure out what her "love language" is and tell you how to give her what she needs. Good luck! 

I agree with the statement

I agree with the statement about validating her feelings about her nagging. Regardless of whether she 'owns' her actions or not, owning up to being a participating contributor of that part of her that emerged as a result of dealing with ADHD would probably get a little bitty toe in the door with her. It isn't about "I do X because you do Y" it is about you saying "I do X and I know that is where Y came from" even if she won't say "I know it was my choice to do Y and I own up to that", you still have to go through with your own accountability to this situation if you ever want to make meaningful, lasting changes. If she 'blames you' for her nagging, then say "you know what, I truly do get where you're coming from...and I am sorry that my behaviors made you feel that was the only way you could be heard"...otherwise, you're not moving forward, you're staying stuck in the 'blame game zone' and that place is difficult to get out of, if not impossible.

My husband has said to me before "I know you are so angry because of me...and I am so sorry for what I have done to make you that way" All of the roses, money, hugs, kisses, love making, etc in the world could not come close to making me FEEL as loved as statements like those. It truly is where I start to WANT to let go of my anger. 

First, I'm glad that you and

First, I'm glad that you and your wife were not injured.  How scary!  But then, to the emotional ramifications of the near hit:  If something like that happened to me (nonADHD) and my spouse (ADHD), I would expect to be relieved and temporarily very close but I wouldn't expect the incident to change my overall feelings toward my husband.  That is, if I had decided that I no longer wanted to be married, almost being in a car accident with my husband wouldn't make me want to continue being married.  In fact, maybe the opposite; I might feel as though the incident provided me with the clarity to see that this is NOT the person I want next to me at the last moment of my life. 

WOW! I thought you were talking about my situation!

WOW! I thought you were talking about my situation! Almost down to the smallest detail.  Thanks ADDonfire for sharing your feelings and your situation. And thank you gardener447 for your insight and wisdom.  As much as I'm hurting I can tell everyone that this site has become my "go to" place multiple times a day as it is a great resource for advice and knowledge.  Just like when I first started reading Melissa's book it was if someone had been spying on my marriage of 20+ years and how it has come crashing down around me in the last month. I was asked to move out and its crushing me, but I fully understand how much my family even became a distraction to me.  I've been attracted to distraction to the point of avoiding all conflict, most decisions, and a lot of responsibility.  Diagnosed w/ ADHD about 6 months ago, but the recent turn of events have obviously turned on the 'hyper focus' and this site and all those who are courageous enough to share have really helped.  I have also learned that I must work on myself and learn to love myself (very tall order at this moment) instead of worrying about my wife's happiness.  Talk about insanity! I've lived the definition for over 20 years = Trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Ummm, hello? McFly? (Back to the Future reference!) 

So ADDonfire, hang in there...I'm right there with you, almost literally. I miss my family terribly and I can only hope that my marriage survives intact but forever different. 

And please, all the other posters that offer advice - keep firing 'em out there because we're listening and learning. Desperately trying to change our ways of thinking, our ways of processing information, our ways of not only listening but more importantly hearing our loved ones. I want to change but I am terrified of what that might look like. 




ADDonfire, thank you for

ADDonfire, thank you for posting! Your post was very moving. I am sure this is what my husband would say if he posted to this forum. I know he loves me, truly, but ADD is such an interloper. It really is mentally and emotionally exhausting to be in an ADD relationship regardless of who has the ADD. Do you think you could print out what you wrote here (or an edited version) and show it to your wife? Do you think that would help? I wish you much luck and I hope you feel less alone.