Update: Eight Years After Divorcing ADD Spouse

Hi everyone,

In 2011, I first posted here about my ADD wife and feeling terribly unhappy about our marriage. Her refusal to take responsibility for her ADD and my terribly unhelpful responses to her really ruined the marriage. My original post is here.

I wanted to give you an update on what happened after, especially since many of you are likely thinking about whether divorce is the best option for you. Of course, I can't tell you objectively that divorce is the best option, but I can tell you my experience of divorcing and moving on.

In March 2012, I filed for divorce. It was crushing. I honestly hadn't remembered how terrible I felt until I decided to look back on the posts I'd written here. (I had pretty much abandoned this site after the divorce was almost final.) As I limped along, I got into another relationship, one with a woman nearly 15 years older than me. I loved her very much but because we could never have a traditional family, I was unhappy; yet I was also emotionally weak and unable to leave her and just be single. Her love felt wonderful and our connection was great, but I was always mourning the family I'd never have.

So guess what? Guilt and bad coping mechanisms kept me in an unsatisfactory relationship until August 2019. Yikes. So, count 'em: that's 2002-2012 with wife, then 2012-2019 with girlfriend. Seventeen years of unsatisfactory relationships. I'm not saying that post-marriage relationship was terrible. But I am saying that I rushed into something that left something missing.

What would I have done differently? After I made the decision to divorce, I should have stayed single and nixed any romantic entanglements, as lonely as I would have felt. I should have done therapy often, perhaps twice a week, and made a point to sit with my sadness and accept it. I should have cultivated friendships with other guys and NOT buried myself in starting a nonprofit. I should have thought more about my values and not compromised on big things (if you want kids, don't tell yourself you don't want kids just because you love someone--love won't carry your relationship if it's competing with regret for closed-off opportunities). 

Ultimately, though, I do not miss my ADD ex-wife or regret the decision to divorce her AT ALL. We have not spoken since she drove away in June 2012, and going no-contact was super helpful. The ADD would have been a massive headache my whole damn life. I will say that dating and then living with someone who does not have ADD feels like a dream come true, especially if they are clean and competent at running their own life independently. It'll feel weird in the most delightful way to have a partner who doesn't need constant, toddler-level supervision, and you'll love it at first, and then you'll take it for granted, which is kind of a good place to be, IMHO.

Also, please be aware that caring for an ADD-stricken partner can give your life purpose, even if you HATE doing it. So when you give up the job of full-time caregiver, you may feel void of purpose. Think long and hard about how you want to spend your time and make meaning of your life before you begin your next big thing. Seek therapy on this point. Make sure that thing, whatever it is, helps you address your own issues and doesn't distract you from them.

Happy to answer questions or address comments if you have 'em.