Utter Despair - New To Community

I'm writing out of utter shame and despair. I, like us all, have a long story so I'll try my best to keep it brief. It's also hastily written.

I'm 30ish, living with ADHD(on Meds, Adderall), Learning Disability, panic disorder and PTSD from childhood sexual abuse.

I am engaged to a beautiful, brilliant, generous woman who accepts and loves me despite my many shortcomings. She even moved half-way across the country to be with me as I started a doctoral program. I realize now, perhaps too late that I have not been as kind to her as she's deserved. I have struggled to do what I said I was going to do so many times in so many ways, financial, emotional, and more. It's undermined her basic trust in me. And often when she raised this with me I would become defensive and blame her for her "unrealistic" standards. In short I blamed her for the very kind of insensitivity I callously dumped upon her. While there were some instances in that I still think I was "right" I now look back and realize that my denial about the severity of my condition and defensiveness have made her life miserable over the past few years.

To top that off I have been blatantly dishonest with her. I have been struggling with a pornography compulsion that led to me to looking at escort advertisements and even making a few phone calls but NEVER CROSSING THE LINE TO INFIDELITY. She confronted me about it over a year ago and I responded with defensiveness and meanness for a while before breaking down and being completely honest with her. Over the last year my stress level has risen as the demands of my doctoral program shredded my confidence and exacerbated my anxiety disorder. I relapsed with pornography and escort materials and we drifted farther and farther apart as I continued to protest that everything was fine. A few weeks ago my finance confronted me about the escort website history she found on her computer. I admitted it was mine and we had a very difficult conversation. Two days ago she looked over our phone records and discovered that I had been blatantly dishonest with her again. I'd gone out of contact for many hours the night before her birthday and given her an elaborate story about it and berated her for not believing me. When she confronted me about this I told her the truth but she has lost trust in me almost completely. I've been so dishonest in so many little and big ways and hurt her so much that she says she can't get past it. I understand and feel miserable about how I have treated her. 

I am now in intensive therapy for my trauma, starting medication for anxiety, and have taken a medical leave from school. For the first time in my life I feel like I'm in the position to make some very large life changes. But it might be too little too late. Our time together has been filled with good and love as well as all the difficulty I've listed. We are in love but I don't know what to do when I know I've hurt her and don't want her to be in any more pain at the same time I'm confident that we can get past these challenges.  

How do we rebuild the trust?

Am I right to hope we can heal and repair our relationship?

Please be kind in your responses, I am fragile. 

Thank you.



Even though we are somewhat different in issues, i have same frustrations. i have been married to adhd spouse for 15 years. I have to say the thing that has always been the hardest to get over for me is exactly what you are talking about. Its the defending, even though you know you are caught. Its the lying about it. My dh does the same exact thing and i have been deep into despair angry over it and have been stumbling over this web site to see. I have found comfort in the anger pages. Mostly the "update of sorts" by sherri forum. There are a lot of heated (from me) posts and very good discussions about the frustration of living with add/adhd. No one will beat you down. You are here, and its a start. As far as any advice? im still in it, and still mad and disappointed, the only thing i can suggest to you, is to... Be honest. Stop defending bad decisions with explanations. I can tell you from my experience, i dont care what the reason is, i need the issue to go away. I dont want to fight for it to go away and i dont want to be belittled and yelled at for it to go away. It would be so easy to say "i dont want to admit it, but yes.". Then its done! Over, finito! The hard part is not the actual offense, its the emotional roller coaster of lying, arguing, defensive, belittling stuff that will make her want to give up and go. After you admit what happened, then it opens the door for an adult conversation about how to solve a problem without wasting any more time (hers) on arguing about something we all know happened. May i ask why you do this? Not the actual offense, but the defending and pushing back at her? I would like to know why to maybe see from your side? I am still trying to get past my anger and disappointment.

My wife has been diagnosed

My wife has been diagnosed with ADHD and OCD. Regarding being dishonest ... When my wife unconditionally defends herself I personally don't care about the issue itself. Actually I rarely care about the issue ... Its the communication itself that is the issue me. We all make mistakes and have compulsions we are embarressed or ashamed of, even if we are not clinically ADHD. I hope at your compulsion with pornography, escort curiosity, could be addressed openly with your spouse as embarrassing/stressful as it is. I will love my wife what ever she does that is dishonest or unacceptable to my values (short of cheating on me) and it would be so much easier for the both of us to discuss and work through if she would just present it to me as her issue that she needs help with instead of finding ways to blame me or get reactive and put up a wall. Btw - I am very new to this site and you post has helped me more en you can imagine. Thank you. :)

My side ain't really my side.

@ PjLoops I typed a long response and my browser refreshed and erased it. So frustrating. I'll try to distill what I remember. First, thank you for your thoughtful response. For whatever my thoughts are worth, I don't think you need to "get past" your feelings of anger and disappointment in order to move on. I certainly don't think my fiancé needs to get past her feelings of anger and betrayal, they are valid. My actions were inexcusable. I hurt her. I am responsible for that and so it falls to me to make it right. She need not get past her anger in order to give me what I need, compassion. And I need not get past my feelings of inadequacy and shame in order to give her what she needs, honesty. Maybe it's naive but I hope we ca get to a point where we feel our feelings, whatever they are and don't allow them to impede healthy behavior. As for the whys, there are so many. A big one is shame. When I've been confronted I feel so much sadness and shame. I respond with hostility because I don't want to face up to that sadness and pain. I feel ashamed that I'm not able to cope on my own, ashamed of needing help. Allowing myself to react in shame compels me to be dishonest just to hide the fact that I am in pain. Crappy logic, i know. I can sometimes feel infantilized even if my partner goes out of her way to avoid that. My baggage not hers. At the times when I have been able to lay my shame on the table we have been able to make great progress. In these moments I can see that the shame is not on "my" side. When it comes to honesty there is only one side. I know I need to continue to cultivate my own well being as it in the moments where I am most ok with myself that I can face up to the feelings of shame and inadequacy that compel me to choose dishonesty against my own best interests. I'm still working through this, I hope there was something useful in it.

I'm with PJ on this...if

I'm with PJ on this...if there was just honesty from the very moment of discovery SOO much pain and damage could be avoided. The reasons you state for denying things is one that I've read on here many times. I get that shame is a huge problem. This issue has been huge for us too. When you are being lied to, when you know they are lying, is something that just goes beyond a normal 'issue', it is a kick in the gut. It is like taking dynamite to the foundation of the marriage. My husband has been unfaithful so as he continues to be dishonest, I continue to feel an overwhelming (almost suffocating) fear that he will never be trustworthy. I cannot spend the rest of my life with someone I don't trust.

I truly hope you are able to face your demons and find someone to help you through your porn addiction. Being honest with your fiance could maybe help release some of the shame you feel about it and help her to believe that you are trying to work through the reasons behind it and want to stop. There is no shame in needing help...hell, all of us are here pretty much because we cannot cope on our own...ADHD or not. The shame is in not taking advantage of the help you have and not being honest about the issue.

My husband always jumps almost immediately to the "child" role...accusing me of treating him as such...no matter what the issue or how I approach it. I admire you TREMENDOUSLY for acknowledging that it is your issue and not hers. Although the parent/child dynamic is sometimes a huge issue in these marriages/relationships, admitting that you automatically assume that position for yourself will help a LOT.

We aren't ashamed of you for the things you do...we are just hurt and want honesty, acknowledgement, and resolution. If you're like my husband, your shame keeps you stuck in the same patterns and the same roles and making the same mistakes.

<browser refresh issues and lost content>

I have noticed that more than a few of you have lost what you have typed in by accidentally navigating away from the page before saving it.  This is quite common since a number of browsers use the backspace key to take you to the previous web page, rather than backspacing over the last character typed.

I have just added some javascript that will pop a box up warning you that you have unsaved changes (at least in most browsers that support such actions).  I have also added an autosave to the forum posts, so that if for any reason, you don't save the forum post, it will be saved as a draft and you will see a small blue bar at the bottom of the screen telling you that there are unsaved versions to which you can revert.

Hopefully, these two additional features will save all of you some frustration.  Sorry I took so long to implement these changes (both are pretty complex).

Any other issues with the site giving you headaches?


You ROCK!! I get so

You ROCK!! I get so frustrated at the backspace key ... I can't even tell you!!! Thanks!!


Advice on repairing the trust...also new to the community...

hello all,

My fiance is the same way - he tends to be inattentive when he's out of his daily routine, and when there's an issue that he created he's constantly defensive.  Looking back at the last 3.5 years with him, he's always been this way, we just didnt know ADHD was the underlying issue until recently.  A few times a year we get into screaming matches where he defends himself for HOURS, even if it's for something stupid, just to eventually admit he was wrong and ask for my forgiveness.  I've also recently learned that he's lied and has been 'omitting' things from me.  He's promised over and over that he will change, but after a month or two he he slips back into his old habits.  We are supposed to get married next month - but how do i forgive the lies?   How do i/we stop these continuous patterns?  We are currently in counseling and he sees a therapist.  He's also looking into an ADHD coach (does anyone have any feedback on coaching?)  How do i allow him to rebuild our relationship - and more importantly, is this even possible?  I am still around, so i obviously love him very much, but I cant do this for the rest of my life and definitely cannot have children with him like this....do i leave him and stop the cycle now?

I'd love some advice from both the ADHD'ers and their spouses...

Please help!

Prof Browne's picture

Very difficult decisions to make

My heart goes out to both of you.  ADHD can wreak havoc on even the strongest relationships.  It would be good if you think it can be fixed.  Reality is though, that trust is very hard to rebuild and sometimes things are just broke and like Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again. If you don't feel children are possible between you is there any point in really getting married when you obviously harbor grave doubts about your fiancee?  I would take a long deep breath before committing totally on this.


I do not have ADD. My wife does. If I had known about all the nonsense ADD forces me to put up with, I would not have married her.

This may sound harsh, but a few months of a tough break-up now will save you years of frustration later.

Sounds hopeful

Actually, reading about this perspective from your perspective gave me hope. You are trying really hard to empathize and realize your shortcomings. I know my boyfriend has the potential to do that, and I hope one day he does.