Waiting, waiting, how do you handle the waiting?

This is the second time I have posted on this site but last time, not really knowing how to do this, it ended up in a strange place in the midst of a thread and probably went unnoticed. I am married to my husband of 21 years who was recently diagnosed with adult ADHD. The background to our story is in my other post under Finances and ADD. I have sought help from my pastor and another counsellor and friends and have been given probably good advice but sometimes misguided advice by people who have no understanding of ADD and how it impacts the lives of everyone affected by it or indeed the person trying to live with it and pick up the pieces of their self esteem, their career, finances and marriage. I feel very alone and so come back to this site to people who truly do understand.

What I need advice on is how you deal with the interminable waiting while your ADD husband tries to get things done. To give an example: Two years ago we were advised by financial counsellors that we needed to file for banckruptcy because we are indeed banckrupt. My paycheck, our only reliable income, is now being garnished to the tune of 25%. When the garnishment came into effect I thought that this finally would be the incentive he needed to finalise the banckruptcy which has been to the lawyer and back once already, though they may have forgotten who we are by now. Several sparse paychecks later there has still been no progress. We had words about this about 6 weeks ago and he wanted to file the taxes first so we could pay off some of our present debts with the refund so we did not lose it. Ok that seemed reasonable but it took weeks for him to get the taxes together and in the midst of that I had to stop him from abandoning it and taking off on a trip, albeit a money making venture, that I knew would cause another huge delay in the process. The taxes were filed yesterday, he is gone on his trip today. I just feel so badly that we need to get out from under this banckruptcy burden so we can see where we are at and try and begin again. I have huge frustration that it is out of my hands and I have no control over it and thus over my life.

I feel like my children and I wait and wait and wait for him and in the meantime our lives are put on hold. I can't organise the finances effectively until I get my full paycheck back, I have even had a payrise in the midst of this but the impact of that is a little lost right now. Even as I write this I feel the tension and frustration rising up in me and I don't want this to be my life. How do I deal with this, how do I address this, how do I stay patient and respectful of him? He is on medication and he does work very hard when he works on these things but if you could see the amazing document he handed to the accoutant (I am not sure what we are paying the accountant for) you would see why it takes him days and days, no weeks,  to accomplish these things.  I do believe with some polite reminders of our agreement that he will eventually get this done but how do I stay sane in the meantime?. 

I just need some good, trustworthy advice from people who understand and have been where I am before I take the advise of misguided, though well meaning people, and leave him! I truly believe this family can make it but I also believe we have a lot of work ahead of us to make that happen.

 

Waiting for Change

You have written what I think some of your guiding issues could be in your post.  Let me pull them out here:

"I truly believe this family can make it but I also believe we have a lot of work ahead of us to make that happen"

"I just feel so badly that we need to get out from under this banckruptcy burden so we can see where we are at and try and begin again. I have huge frustration that it is out of my hands and I have no control over it and thus over my life.  I feel like my children and I wait and wait and wait for him andin the meantime our lives are put on hold."

"how do I stay patient and respectful of him? He is on medication and he does work very hard when he works on these things but if you could see the amazing document he handed to the accoutant (I am not sure what we are paying the accountant for) you would see why it takes him days and days, no weeks,  to accomplish these things. "

Here's the picture I get from your post:  Your husband has the ability to pay attention to the details and to work very hard under duress or deadline, but perhaps pays too much attention to details over efficiency.  You have ceded control of some of the highest stress inducing parts of your life to your husband by handing over control of the accounting.  He is trying hard - on meds, etc. and you still love each other, but you are losing hope - partially because everything seems to be up in the air right now.

My personal reading of this is that we are all in a very hard, up-in-the-air time right now and we are all looking for support we can count on to get through it.  You need your husband's support, but because of the financial issues and his ADD can't rely on it and the times PLUS his ADD have created a "perfect storm" of bad feelings that are dragging you both down.  Not being in control of your life at a time when everything seems to be going down (and therefore feels all the worse) is a terrible feeling.  But understand it would probably feel different in different times that seemed more upbeat.  I'm thinking that not ALL of your concerns are directly ADD related.

It is good that your husband is addressing his ADD (though you don't say how effectively).  But what can you do to be more in control for you?  Is it necessary that your husband manage your bankruptcy issues, or could you (since that's at the heart of your financial concerns)?  Are there de-stressing things you could start to undertake, such as meditation, that might help you psychologically manage your situation more easily even if it doesn't actually change for a bit longer?  Are there friends or family you can rely on to help keep you upbeat (make sure not to focus on how hard your life is with them or that just reinforces the bad side)?  Would you consider talking with your doctor about whether some anti-anxiety meds might help you for the short term?

You don't sound ready to me to leave your husband, but it does sound as if you need to make sure that you don't back down from filing for bankruptcy.  Since this is a huge cause of concern for you, and since his lack of dealing with it is changing how you feel about him, I think you have little to lose by really pushing on this area so that it moves forward.  (The alternative is to cede him control, let him diddle more, and lose all hope, which doesn't sound like a great option.)  Acknowledge that you appreciate the work that he's done so far, but that the stress of waiting around for resolution is really starting to get to you and you need his help in moving things forward.  Many men have a particularly negative feeling about bankruptcy and will do just about anything they can to avoid it because they feel it reflects upon them negatively (as providers).  Share with him that the bankruptcy itself isn't what is bothering you - that you still love him anyway - but that the waiting in limbo is really taking a toll and that you are ready to start your new chapter in life but can't move on until your finances are better under control.

Some people with ADD are conflict avoidant (my husband is one of these) and it is simply easier to put something really tough off than to tackle it (particularly if the "thing" at hand is huge).  But you have a balancing act - follow his time table vs. losing respect...and the respect is really hard to rebuild, so consider your options carefully here.  "Polite reminders" may not be enough...you may need to air your deeper feelings about how this is affecting how you feel about him and your relationship.  Make sure that he doesn't feel you are threatening him, as I suspect in this case that would slow him down vs. speed him up, but do try to communicate how serious this issue of waiting is becoming. 

Also, please find a healthy outlet for yourself as you work through this...and keep posting if that is part of that outlet.  We appreciate your using this forum as a way of touching base with others who share your issues.

 

 

To answer your questions.

Thanks Melissa for replying. I have tried several times to respond but keep losing it and having to start over. Hopefully this time.

To answer your questions. The medication makes a huge difference to his ability day to day to focus and keep on track. I can tell within minutes of walking in whether he has forgotten to take it. I think still though he has trouble dealing with the big picture of prioritising and planning. He is not seeing a therapist only talks with the psychiatrist and I think he needs to be taught skills to deal with things and I am not sure how committed he really is to changing in that way.

Much of what still needs to be done with the bankruptcy involves his 'business' of buying and selling on e.bay and what I would call compulsive buying at auctions which is part of what got us into trouble financially. I would not have a clue how to find all this info, he has it buried in his computer so I really feel he has to deal   with it. 

I do get up early most days to spend time for myself thinking and praying and working on my own issues of insecurity and lately I have realised my inability to really trust people. I have tried an antidepressant but found it made me extemely tired and out of it and I could not do my job effectively. My job, by the way is my refuge, the only place where I feel in contol and confident of my ability and I think I am a different person there.

My family live on the other side of the world and my sister in particular has been extremely supportive through all this, mostly through e.mail and some phone calls.  I have 5 brothers also but only two of them know about our situation. We have not been home for 6 years and my parents have both died in that time. I would very much like to move back there so my children can get to know my family and I know they would be very supportive of us. My husband has kept a lot of this from his family which I actually find hard as I always feel we are hiding things from them and have to pretend a lot. I do have some friends who have helped me through the roughest spots but like you say you have to lighten up or the relationship becomes weighed down by the problems so i still keep a lot to myself. I was seeing a cousillor for a while but we seemed to get to a place where we were covering the same ground. I have considered going back to her again as she did help me somewhat.

I would definitely say he is conflict avoidant which makes it very hard to address anything. He gets very defensive also no matter how gently I try to address things and while I understand that his self esteem is low he does need to take resposibilty. He also does not want to hear how i feel and how things affect me. I think because it makes him feel bad that he might be the cause. I think we both need to see a therapist together and am looking for the right time to bring that up. Trouble is they generally cost a lot of money.

I also don't think I mentioned that our 8 year old daughter was started on meds last weekend for ADHD which I find very stressful in terms of knowing we are doing the right thing and though her problems are mostly inattentiveness and are affecting her at school she can be a handful. My husband is not a hands on Dad and both kids feel he doesn't give them much time, me neither for that matter. They would tell you he spends all his time at the computer, telling them to be quiet so he is not distracted and that he works all the time. He can also be be very funny and occasionally does find a connection with them.

You said somehting in another post to someone else about reclaiming your values, actually making a list and working on regaining those things. I feel very much that mine have been degraded through our marriage. the things that matter a lot to me have been pushed aside and I am going to work on reclaiming them for myself. I have been thinking a lot about that since I read it.

Thankyou for listening and responding. It means a great deal to me.

To Vivi

Thank you for your nice note.  If I may make one more suggestion that may help you.  You seem to be very family oriented, which is great.  I suspect that your husband's disconnection from you and the kids bothers you more than you let on.  If you don't work on many other things, perhaps you could sit down with your husband and say something like "Kids grow up quickly, and it can be really fun to be around them.  It would mean a lot to me and to the kids if we could schedule some special family time together - fun stuff, perhaps crazy stuff.  Is there anything that would really sound fun to you?"  If he doesn't have any ideas, talk with the kids about what they might enjoy - going to the aquarium, having a movie night out, playing basketball, building model airplanes together, having a paper airplane contest, going to some concerts, having a video game contest...whatever works and can bring you together regularly.  Some families schedule a specific night (I know of a couple of families where the dad takes one kid out to dinner every other Friday, for example, for some special one on one time) for group or individual activities.

Anyway, I'm guessing that if you could help strengthen those bonds it would make your family stronger, would make you happier, and would help you feel a bit less neglected.

Reaching out to family

Your comment: "My husband has kept a lot of this from his family which I actually find hard as I always feel we are hiding things from them and have to pretend a lot." really hit home with me. I had done this for years and finally very recently asked my husband to please at least reach out to his sisters. He agreed as he feels as desparate as I do. Well, of course, we both wished we did this ages ago. They both hopped on a plane (difficult for both of them due to young children and jobs) and came to visit. They listened and empathized AND then helped us set out on a new course of action. We have a LONG road and we still feel pretty desparate and frankly not many things have changed. I am incredibly angry and resentful. BUT, we now have weekly calls with one sister so she can help us stay on track. I am personally so happy that this "secret" is out and I don't have to pretend everything is fine anymore. My sister-in-laws have been beyond sympathetic to both of our situations. I don't know why we were both surprised, but their reaction to our problem blew us both away. As a side note, I have just discovered this site tonight. So much of it is very helpful....and it feels good intially to read that I am not alone in my frustrations. But, I am also a little depressed by what I have read. I am trying sooo hard to remain hopeful, but with everything I am reading, improvement seems further and further away.

Family response and hope

Hi - great that your family is reaching out!  Wonderful.  I urge others to move past any shame they may be feeling and reach out for help and support, too.

As for feeling depressed, please keep in mind that people write at this site when they are in need...then when things get better they tend to not have a need to write here anymore.  This is a good thing for them, but what you see here is distorted by this fact.  You see the pain, but little of the triumph.  But that triumph is real, too.

Is there really a light at

Is there really a light at the end of this tunnel? Do people really remain married and happy when one partner has ADD? I'm at the point where I don't know if I believe that anymore. I'd be very grateful if you could convince me otherwise...it would bring back my hope.

light at end of tunnel

ADD is a spectrum disorder. In my extensive investigation I have seen not one case with light at the end of the tunnel if the ADD partner is at the severe end of the spectrum. For people with 'ADD Lite' there is much more hope. The other cases where couples seem to make it is when the non-ADD partner can just 'give in' to the disorder, let go of any expectations of getting what they need in the relationship, live pretty much as friends rather than close loving partners, and do the ''Till death do us part'' thing very selflessly. Perhaps some people here will disagree with me from their own experience - Great! Then there may be hope! The only brightly shining light at the end of the tunnel of a seriously ADD marriage seems to me to be the one of getting out of the relationship, ie, divorce.

ADD and marriage

I am completely confused. I have been married to my husband for 11 years. We have been happy and no problems, except for every day rush with kids and job. We always new he had ADD, however, never found any medicine to help. After a wonderful day on Thursday, he comes in and announces he has to leave to go find himself. Boy, I didn't see that coming. Everyone is in shock that knows us. He has changed jobs within the past 6 months and is not too satisfied with it, which I think is a huge problem. His doctor is putting in on Adderall today. Is this normal for someone with ADD to completely check out to find himself? Says he can't stop his mind from racing. Will the medicine help him get back on track? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Light at End of Tunnel

I'm pretty sure that Ned Hallowell has seen plenty of cases of success in all areas of the spectrum, and I'll talk with him about posting info about some success stories here.

As for the success you describe as giving up what you need in a relationship, I don't define that as success.  I would posit that those people decided that they wished to stay in that relationship because it did give them something they needed.  Or perhaps I am naive and there are more completely and totally self-sacrificing people out there in the world than it seems these days.

Divorce is a very viable option for some people (it was the option my husband's first wife chose - she walked out on him).  However, same man, same ADD symptoms, same difficulties, different wife, and we have worked it out.  Not without effort, but the effort was worth it because we have a wonderful relationship now. 

In other words, I think it's too easy to classify as all "difficult" ADD people as being unmarriageable.  Not true.  And, yes, the less ADD there is, the fewer symptoms,  but that doesn't guarantee fewer ADD-related issues because spousal response still plays a really big role...as does knowing what the warning signs are before you get too angry and too adversarial.

Your post sounds angry.  Perhaps you can find a way to constructively release that anger (therapy? a journal?) so that you may mourn what you haven't had, and then start working towards something more rewarding?

I think "light at end of the

I think "light at end of the tunnel" has a right to be angry. I am also tired of the ideas on here that lean toward its the non ADD spouse's responsibility for making a successful marriage. Learning a "different way to respond" etc. That "spousal response plays a big role" is crap. Tired of ADDers escaping blame and responsiblity.

Right to be Angry

I agree 100% that she has the right to be angry...so do you.  Anger is a meaningful indicator that things aren't right.  She also has the right to express that anger (as do you).

If you read this site without the "filter" of your anger on, you will see that I say over and over again that I am not suggesting that the ADD person gets a free ride or should use ADD as an excuse.  In fact I say over and over again just the opposite.  ADD can be a reason, but should not be an excuse.  Furthermore, in post after post I recommend that people with ADD get a full diagnosis and full treatment so that they can start to take responsibility for their share of making the relationship work.

Do I request that non-ADD spouses also take some responsibility?  You bet!

If your husband had a broken leg, would you insist that he run up the stairs just because that's what other adults can do?  No, you would modify your behavior towards him until such time as he could manage it on his own.  But if you were really really angry about the broken leg, you might also choose to berate him about his inability to get up the stairs or you might even tell him that if he doesn't get up the stairs successfully he's a failure.  Would the existence of your anger - no matter how much you thought he OUGHT to be able to get up the stairs, make the situation any better?  Might make him decide not to try because he would dislike "earning" further anger, but it wouldn't magically get him up the stairs.

Yet somehow many non-ADD spouses think that if they just get angry enough then things will get better.  That their husband will suddenly realize that his spouse "really means it" and "shape up".  But think about the biological responses to anger.  Fight or flight.  Is either or those responses what you are seeking?  Becoming adversaries?  Becoming strangers?

This is why I talk with non-ADD spouses about their anger and taking responsibility for their own issues so much.  In their frustration and misery and, yes anger, many non-ADD spouses do not realize how they are contributing to their relationship's problems.  I know what this denial feels like, as I've been there myself.  There was a time in my own (then completely miserable) marriage in which I would have been able to list the 100 ways my husband was a complete failure as a husband and how I couldn't stand it any more.  I would have meant every word of it.

Anger, like that you are carrying around, is completely destructive in a relationship.  Doesn't matter if it's "justified" or not.  Like the man with the broken leg your husband didn't ASK to have ADD.  His ADD just IS.  Furthermore, he has had many years during which his ADD has kept him from learning skills that you have learned - like how to get organized, how to keep track of time well enough not to be late, how to communicate effectively without getting distracted.  These things don't just disappear because they distress you (or him, for that matter).  It takes a ton of time and effort to create the support structures necessary to overcome these basic issues.  And it's not just "trying harder" - it's actually changing the physical parts of your environment as well as changing behavioral patterns over time.  But it can be done - I know people with ADD who are NEVER late (as just one example) because they have a system in place that works for them.  (Wish I could say the same for me!)

In the meantime, the one-way ticket to the equivalent of a permanent broken leg is living with an irate spouse.  One who thinks you are completely incompetent, etc.  It's completely immobilizing for a person with ADD to experience such anger (and it would also be debilitating for someone without ADD).  Would you ever, ever try to do something as hard as getting up the stairs with a broken leg if you knew that at the end of it you will still be the recipient of the ire of the most important person in the world to you?  Many with ADD say things like "I can never do anything well enough for you!" and they mean it.

It is also debilitating for you to be that angry all the time.  It puts tremendous stress on your body.

I wish you luck in taking the fangs out of your anger so that it will start to hurt both of you less.

 

broken leg not same thing

A broken leg can hardly compare to ADD.  A broken leg is a temporary setback.  A spouse of an ADDer has likely struggled for many years to overcompensate for the other spouse's weaknesses.  That is exhausting.  12 weeks in a cast is nothing.  

broken leg

you are, of course, right.   It would be more like having someone in a wheelchair.  You need to change your physical approach to life and how you do things in a way that doesn't match how others do things.  Plus put coping strategies into place for the individual as well as the couple that last over the long-term.  Furthermore, it's exhausting for both parties and can get you both depressed.  The person in the wheelchair doesn't have "access" to everything that others do (the "barriers" in ADD tend to be things like reading skills, people skills, etc but are still very real) and this affects his/her family as well.  May have trouble keeping a job (but in the ADDers case, not protected by any disability laws - at least not right now).  Takes exceptional stamina from both spouses to cope with it.

Where the wheelchair analogy breaks down is that society in general sees people in wheelchairs as disabled and "deserving" of extra services and assistance.  In other words we treat these people with empathy.  In general, society still sees people with ADD as "lazy" people who "ought" to be able to try harder and do better by sheer willpower.  (Imagine telling someone who couldn't walk that they ought to "try harder"!)  There is plenty of research out there that will tell you that people with ADD have serious issues/barriers that they must deal with in all aspects of their lives and that overcoming these issues takes significant work.  Again, where the wheelchair analogy breaks down is that some large number of people in wheelchairs don't get out of them.  People with ADD don't ever "not" have ADD, but they CAN learn to find ways where their ADD issues blend in better with what's going on around them, particularly, as one reader recently pointed out those with milder forms of ADD who don't also have behavioral disorders.

It would be interesting to me to get some more feedback on this comparison.  For your comment on overcompensating for the other's spouse's weaknesses gets me to thinking.  Do people with spouses in wheelchairs do this?  How do they view their role?  Helpmate?  Partner?  Is a physical disability seen as a weakness?  Should I stop talking about ADD in terms of strengths and weaknesses?  If I did, how would I describe the problems...and the good things?  Hmmm.

Melissa

Why are you so upset with me that I am angry? And everyone else who ever dares to express anger. Why do you feel the need to admonish every non add person on here who is angry? You contradict yourself all the time by saying its ok to be angry and that you understand that anger, yet in the next breath you get that lecture going on how the anger hurts the marriage and the person etc etc etc. Did you ever think that people are angry because they are at the very end of their rope and that they have exhausted all options and are facing the inevitable "end" because the ADD spouse has made clear a lack of response. following through or carrying their share a real scenario?? I didn't say another spouse would be without problems. Being alone would be less stressful, less exhausting and yes, less lonely. This is supposed to be a non judgmental site....let it be that. Just let it be that!! Don't take that away from me too....the right to express my feelings. I am embracing my anger! Its motivating me to find a peaceful life!

Anger is really not the answer

 

You say a lot of wisdom here Melissa. I would like admit before I had my big ANGRY meltdown I was irratated at my husband and belittled him because I didn't know how to handle it. I called him mean things etc..and it was like I deflated a balloon. My husband felt more imcompetent then ever. There are 2 sides. No one is excusing the ADHDer or the non ADHDer there are no easy answers except that people who come to this site (me being one of them) can express  all the stuff they are stuffed with. Hopefully writting your expressions will help you and I don't believe that Melissa is here to put anyone down. As I have read a lot on here I find a lot of things I have learned not only about my ADHD/depression/alcoholic husband but as well myself. I can testify that living with anger is not only destructive but it robs you of life as well. It robs you of all the things around you  like nature, children, friends, family or how about the world. When a person is angry that is usually their agenda they don't want to hear what others have to say alot because they are so intent on their anger. anger is a silent killer!!!! Many studies are coming out and it gives you many different diseases. It also builds plack up in your arteries. I have health issues that have gotten worse and now I have new ones that I have to have surgery for. Life is so much easier when you live in peace and understand that although you have been violated maybe by your circumstances it doesn't mean that they have to overtake you. Living in peace is so MUCH BETTER! Thats why I keep telling people about boundaries and how important they are. Boundaries help you to understand that the very thing that is overwhlming you doesn't have to. Ex: lets say you worked hard to clean the house and your dog comes in the house with muddy feet and there goes the clean floor. well do you get mad or understand the dog doesn't understand clean floors because basically thats their food bowl:] you can say that %%$& dog or say well its just mud and look at your dog who is looking up at you with a wagging tail waiting for a treat or pat on the head. Once you understand anger more then you understand I think how to handel it better. I have been studing alot about it and really I stress on not getting angry. My ADHD husband still does things that really aggrivate or somehow effects the family. But I either let it go or just say I didn't like that you took all the money out of the account and left me with nothing.(which actually happened) Of course I was upset and rightly so. But I have learned to tell My husband in a less destructive voice about my gripes (like yelling and telling him what a dumb idiot he is)to you need to stop and I'am now getting my own account. Well that got the message across and I didn't exert myself. Thank you for reading I feel for all of you and you find your journey more peaceful! God bless you!

What about spouses that also have ADHD?

I'm angry about some of the same things described here -- my husband's lack of organization, having to prompt my spouse all the time, being the responsible one, etc.  Melissa, you say that it can help if you realize the ADD-spouse never learned things like being on time and organization skills because they have ADHD. You encourage people to remember that ADHD is a physical disability. Well, I also have ADHD and I learned all those things (and utilize them daily because it's my responsibility to be respectful, be on time, remember/have needed items and documents, etc). Why can't I be angry that my ADHD spouse can't learn  and practice these things too?

Didn't learn vs. can't learn

I didn't say can't learn, I said didn't learn.  It's his responsibility to learn it, but I encourage non-ADD spouses to understand that this is a conscious process - not just assume that since they learned to do this stuff when they were younger, so should the ADD spouse have learned it.

So, yes, there is a BIG difference between can't and won't.  Let him know that he needs to make the effort to learn them (and he has proof that it can be done with your good example).  He CAN do it, should he decide he must and with the right support systems in place and right attitude.

So how do they learn it?

I understand my husband did not learn normal skills like washing dishes and being on time when he was young (because he has ADD and always lived with his mother). Now he's taking meds for ADD but no one has offered any real counseling for it. So how does he learn these life skills?

His boss pulled him into her office yesterday and said the people he works with (who he thought liked him) have been betting on how long he'll last. She said he has to straighten up, but didn't tell him what she wanted. He was hired as a peer counselor BECAUSE he has ADD. How can he not have the skills to know he's in trouble? How can he learn those skills on his own?

How can he learn how to do housework and be a responsible partner to me in running our house? How can he learn the skills to do his job? Who teaches such skills or how does he learn them on his own?

Learning New Skills as an Adult

There are a lot of different ways to learn these skills.  What it takes mostly is an openness to doing so.  So, here are some ideas:

  • seek out seminars and support groups at places that know about ADD.  These can provide good role models, discussions of specific strategies, etc.  they also are atuned to issues like learning how to read non-verbal cues.
  • communications workshops - these come in abundance, depending upon specific needs (personal, business, co-workers up and down in line of command, etc.)  If possible, get an audiotape to listen to once in a while as a refresher (gets around short term memory issues)
  • self-help books or books on tape (again, tailor this to the specific needs)
  • for home chores, create a system.  In our house, my husband has full responsibility for unloading the dishwasher (any time) and doing evening dishes.  If he doesn't unload, I don't do the morning or noon dishes, which serves as a system (reminder) when he gets home and sees them there.  It's not hard to learn to do dishes, only hard to remember to do them.
  • at work - he needs to sit down with the boss, talk with her in depth about what his management issues are, AND TAKE NOTES.  She has opened up the conversation by mentioning it in any event, so she will not be surprised if he schedules time with her to talk about what he can do to improve things.  He can also hire a career coach or talk with his company about doing this if it seems appropriate (this usually involves interviewing people above and below him to ascertain strengths and weaknesses, then coaching the employee about what they can do better and devising strategies.
  • He can hire an ADD coach - if his issue is remembering to do things, for example, an ADD coach can teach him how to stay better organized, and do the reminder work while he is learning
  • Financial - hire a financial tutor to sit with him regularly until he has a working system in place, or go to a financial basics seminar (or 2)
  • Look at the local university extension schools, or online, for courses that add to his resume and to his work knowledge
  • Chores and organization at home (and at work?) - Terry Maitlen has a ton of books designed for ADD people on these topics.  See her website address in the left column.

There's a theme here.  You ask "how can he learn these skills on his own?"  My point is that it is best to not try to learn on his own (unless he happens to be good reading books or listening to tapes.)  He needs to find expertise he can trust (school, tutors, coaches, boss, support group,etc) and learn from them.  Nobody ever intuits how to do these things - but when we are young we don't think much about HOW we learn to do chores or how we learned to get organized...it happened with the coaching of lots of teachers, our parents and sometimes our friends.  (I remember a particularly effective 6th grade teacher who really helped me learn how to get organized.  I LOVED her!)

At the same time he is learning this stuff (which you should work with him to prioritize if that seems appropriate, cause he can't do it all at once) you should be thinking about structural support systems at home.  What will make it easier for the two of you?  What signals or cues

I've begun to think of treatment for ADD this way (let me know if this makes sense):

Physical changes to you or your environment  PLUS behavioral changes to how you do things.

To be successful, a person with ADD needs to do some of both types.

So the physical changes include: 

  1. changes to your body through medication (changes how brain takes up Dopamine and other things), excercise, nutrition, alternative treatments
  2. changes to your environment such as the installation of reminder boards you can't miss, buying and using a cell phone as a reminder, getting a personal secretary to keep you organized...structures that support behavioral changes
  3. changes to your point of view - taking responsibility, becoming more "can do" in attitude

Behavioral changes include:

  1. changes in how you do things in your daily life - setting new routines, creating reminder systems, learning new financial tactics, etc.
  2. learning to be more self-reflective (probably needs the help of a therapist)
  3. changes in how you communicate - learning specific conversational techniques, teaching self to not interupt, more attention to showing affection
  4. improving connections, particularly intimate connections

Anyway, I'm still thinking through this and need to sign off now...but will return to it later.

Learning skills

Ah, but what to do in the case where the ADD spouse takes no responsibility for his ADD. Never read a book, won't listen to my recaps on books I have read, won't use schedule boards in the kitchen that we put in place, barely remembers to take his meds and then lies about it, (30 pills in a Rx -bottle half full but that hasn't been refilled in 2 months?!?!?!?) won't seek anything on his own, when I do make appointments for him/us he forgets and shows up late, ignore our scheduled "talk time" because there is something else that has to be done. This from the same person who never ever misses a night out with friends, never forgets a party... You get the picture. What can help there? This is my frustration.

Reply to Melissa-Learning

I appreciate your reply for being both thorough and very fast.

It all sounds rather depressing, like his whole life has to be taken up with this. Should I drop out of schood and go back to working double shifts to pay for this? (No way his income will stretch that far). Or does that undo the idea of him being responsible for his own actions? And if you don't live in Boston near Dr. Hallowell, who does this? He is being treated at the Psychology Department of our local university, in the AD/HD clinic, and they don't offer services like this. And because they don't take our insurance, we only qualify to see interns for marriage counseling. (He does get med monitoring from a doctor there, who is only there 3 hours a week and does no therapy). They act like, since he gets the drugs, that's all he needs.

I don't see "joy" in any of these posts. Some of them sound like struggling to survive. You ask the non-ADD spouse to figure out what they need, and forget about what they want. Is getting your survival needs  met (lights on, not getting evicted, clean laundry, etc.) to be described as "joy" if you were unlucky enough to marry someone with ADD? I miss the fun when we were dating, and I handled all those things myself for myself and we could just enjoy each other. But now that I have to rely on him, it is so hard.

By the way, his boss dropped this bombshell on the way out. Today was her last day. His new boss is hardly in a position to assess his performance, since she's only been there a week. And he really doesn't know how to wash dishes. He assumes everything in the dishwasher is clean, and puts it away, even if it still has food clinging to it.