We have to be perfect all the time... they get to be a total mess all the time...

This is what really frustrates me about being married w/children to my husband with ADHD. I have to be perfect. I don't mean perform every task perfectly. I mean I have to have complete and total control over every emotion and response I have 100% of the time. I can be frustrated, but I don't get to show it. I can be angry, but I don't get to show it. I don't understand how any of this is supposed to help.

I tell him I'm unhappy with the relationship and if I'm doing a good job of controlling my emotions he might say "well that's your problem" or he might listen to why and agree to everything I say and change absolutely nothing while he promises to do better and puts absolutely zero effort into doing better.

The more self controlled I am the more it's used against me to take advantage of me. Yet when I calmly inform him that I'm not doing his laundry anymore and she shrinks a sweater because he didn't follow my advice and read the labels and instructions for the washer and drier then it's my fault that his sweater shrunk because "the person who was supposed to do his laundry didn't do it". I informed him that he is the person who is supposed to do his laundry and if he does it badly I can't be blamed for that.

I totally understand how you

I totally understand how you feel! I'm always the one not exploding, not yelling, not insulting him, and who always things about the consequences of speaking and acting in anger. However, he can get frustrated and do all the little gestures and faces when he is about to lose it. I told him just last week that I am tired of being the one who always has to hold it together and take the high road. Although I don't think there's much productivity in name-calling and yelling and screaming at one another, I still feel like I have to be on my best behavior b/c if I don't know, who knows what would happen to us? We have two young girls (3 and almost 2 yrs old) and I definitely don't want to lose it in front of them so I hold it all in and when I'm upset I keep my responses short and I don't make eye-contact. That's when he knows I'm upset. When he gets angry and speaks, I feel like he sounds like a child throwing a tantrum, and it literally disgusts me. *Sigh* I could go on and on, but, I know you already understand.

On the couch...

The problem is that by keeping it all together I'm getting sucked deeper and deeper into a codependent marriage with him because there are literally zero consequences for this actions/inactions. Recently it got to the point that I locked the bedroom door which should have been his signal that he is expected to sleep on the couch. He didn't take it that way and let himself into the room. Things escalated to the point where I hit him and he decided to restrain me on the bed. Granted I was being very aggressive, but he could have just left the room. I understand that my behavior was inappropriate and probably crossed the line of abuse but what about 8 years of benign neglect? I just couldn't take it anymore. He's on the couch and I'm trying to disconnect from him as much as possible so that I can focus on our three children who are 7,5, and 2. I'm tired of being his mommy too. If he wants to treat me like his room mates than room mates it is but he can run this relationship like I'm his mother/room mate with benefits where I'm putting everything I have into the relationship and get absolutely nothing back and the more I try to help him the less of his own energy he spends. But let me totally back out of something and all of a sudden he steps up to the plate. So I know he's capable. He just would rather take the path of least resistance in everything including taking responsibility for his ADD. I'm done having anything to do with him. I'll take care of the kids and if he cleans up dinner dishes I'll still cook enough for him but beyond that he's on his own.

You sound worn out. When you

You sound worn out. When you get to the point where things get physically abusive, something needs to change. Is there any way you can try a separation and get a chance to get your head together? Sometimes it can be pure joy to have complete control of your life again. And the only children you are responsible for HAVE to mind you. And you have a permanent babysitter every other weekend, so you actually have time for yourself. If he steps up to the plate when there is a crisis, maybe it's time to create one.....


It always comes down to money doesn't it. We can't do actual separate apartments because we don't have the money to maintain separate housing. We can't afford daycare so I can't work because what I would make wouldn't be enough for our 2 year old. So basically I'm trying to think if we could do separate bedrooms and emotionally disconnect to the point that I wouldn't care how he lives his life. So we could actually really be just room mates and raise our children that way.

That and I have an appointment with my Psychiatrist to see if there is something that will help me handle the stress, trauma, insomnia etc that this is all doing to me.

Worn out is a good way to put it.

You're right about the

You're right about the financial constraints.  Although I do work outside the home, and I make enough money to support myself, it would be very difficult (although not impossible) for my husband and I to pay for two residences.  This aspect of our situation is very painful for me:  my husband's behavior of not looking for work has led to our poor financial situation, which has resulted in me feeling trapped in the marriage.

We do have separate sleeping areas.  It helps.  (Although I have to say, having a bed to sleep on would probably do wonders for me; I moved out of the bedroom five years ago and have spent most nights on the sofa since then.)


Hello. I'm really sorry you are going through this. It is an ugly untenable situation. I agree with with the other commentator that you are teaching your children what relationships are and how to treat the ones you love. Clearly the example being set is not ideal. Having grown up in a similar dynamic I can tell you that staying together for the kids is a bad idea. I can also say the no one I know has ever said they regretted divorce. I do understand the financial uncertainty can be paralyzing. It can also almost always be worked through. Now that being said, when you think back to when you guys met how does it make you feel? Is there a glimmer of warmth in the memory? Are both of willing to work on the unhealthy communication styles? I know the non- ADHD spouse is counseled to be superhuman control wise, and that is unrealistic 100% of the time. But I disagree that the ADHD spouse is allowed to be a steam roller. We are also counseled to create boundaries and make our expectations clear. We are not supposed to continue to enable their poor behavior. It oft is easier to just go with it but it is disabling. I am still working on consistently letting my spouse suffer the consequences of his poor behavior but it is hard.  Good luck in finding solutions that work for you. Making yourself healthier will improve the health of the whole household even though you can't change anyone else's behavior.


The hitting is a real problem, no matter what the reason.  In my mind, that's a bright white line that should never be crossed again.  In fact, you may wish to consider making an agreement with your partner...if either of you hits the other again you will seek a separation.  As my mother used to say "two wrongs don't make a right."  The fact that the two of you have lived in a state of benign (or not so benign) neglect for years doesn't justify violence.

If you were male and wrote about abuse this way on this forum I think it's quite likely a whole bunch of people would have jumped all over you.

And I think you should consider what you are proposing in what you wrote.  He neglected you for years...you finally hit him.  Now you are done with him and are proposing to neglect him, instead.  This does not sound like a recipe for success.

already separated

It sounds to me like you continue to have expectations that he just isn't going to fulfill.  And that you two already separated a long time ago.  It may not be legally but emotionally.

It sounds very painful.  If you are that unhappy and feeling so disrespected that you lashed out, and now are choosing to neglect each other, I think it's time to get out.

give yourself permission

Hi nota,

I am so sorry you are having such a hard time. I read your post and I recognize much of how I was feeling not too long ago. I also agree that you sound worn out. 

I am not in any position to be telling anyone what to do, but your situation sounds like it is pretty unhealthy for you. I left my STBX after years because I read something about children learning how to be men or women by watching their parents. They may be little, but they are smart and can pick up on what is going on, even if you are trying to hide how you are feeling. The "living like roommates" may help diffuse things, but you can't go too long feeling so (understandably) angry. It will eat you alive. I reached a day when my spouse told me that he literally was not going to seek help or do anything to change, and that everything was my fault, and I realized that my children and I would be better off apart from the home that we had. I know the money is scary--I haven't been able to fill my gas tank more than a few bucks on several occasions, and I am pretty scared that my car will break down--but you would be amazed at what you can do. Not preaching, just pointing out that I asked myself if I would trade some decent financial security and a (beat up, unfinished) house for a miserable, angry, toxic (abusive) environment to raise my children in, and the answer when I saw it in those terms was fairly easy. I have asked every friend I have for favors and help over the past year, which is unusual for me, but once I started doing it, I found out how isolated I had made myself in my miserable marriage. 

Counseling can help. Take care of yourself in a positive way, as if you deserve it and you are your own best friend. Maybe you can get through to him. I know there is a blog post of Melissa's on here that is to "Men with ADHD Who Aren't Convinced it Matters." Maybe you can get him to read it? 

Best to you. 


I can see what you are all saying. The tension in the situation has dialed back considerably since he has moved to the couch. I'm less angry and he can take care of himself or not. He has shown a remarkable interest in contributing to the chores around the house because I explained to him that he can stay here as long as he is not making thing worse. It's been pretty amicable actually. I initiated the chore box from Melissa's book because at least it will provide an objective measurement of what's going on so that if he decides not to do it and I throw him out of the house he can see that he brought it on himself. He has a reasonable amount of responsibilities around the house given his work schedule so I do more than he does but I expect that. Before my expectations where basically "not nothing" which I realize that by constantly lowering the bar when he failed to preform I basically created an unreasonable situation for myself basically granting him permission to keep performing poorly until he had gotten out of anything. He has this way of coming across totally wounded and helpless like he just can't figure out what he could have done different but as long as I've been married to him I've realized that this is a deceptive act that he puts up consciously/unconsiously so that people feel like whatever it is he's doing/not doing isn't his fault. It get's him out of a lot of culpability if the person falls for it. I realized this when we met with out Priest and the rendition of things he told the Priest was ever so slightly slanted from the truth. Not so much in the factual details but in the perceptive details. He basically convinces everyone he is doing the best he can when what I see is an almost total lack of effort to be anything more than a warm body in the room doing the bare minimum needed to get by. Now that he is on the couch I see the effort he's putting in and I'm torn between being greatfull at least for that and angry because he could have been putting this level of effort in all along which means my suspicion was completely correct and I feel "played". I'm sure eventually I'll get over that but I'm not getting sucked back into that again. Now I know what he is really capable of.

I'm also less scared of the financial aspect of a divorce when I found out what the child support would look like for our state/his income/number of children. Basically it wouldn't be a great life but it would be something. Our house currently is split into two completely separate apartments. I've also considered the possiblity that when the upstairs tenant moves out he could live upstairs completely out of my way and there would be the convience for the kids of not being dragged around all week in joint custody and that might be better two because one of the things I'm really concerned about is that he scares me where the kids are concerned. There are times where he has done things that make me think he can't really be responsible for the for any great length of time without supervision of some sort. I provide that because when I see him physically dragging one of the children around by the arm because he didn't adequately verbalize his request to them to the point that one time I had to take my daughter for an ex-ray because she was really hurt. So I stay pretty close to the kids. He also left our baby in the car and came into the restaurant on a very hot day. It was only a few minutes but only because I turned around and asked him where she was. So I'm concerned about joint custody. I find the idea of just turning them over to him for 50% of the time when he would implement not structure and could actually be dangerous, is a problem. The issue isn't that he's like this most of the time but when he does something it's totally random and unpredictable. Because of the way he comes across to people no judge on the planet would think he's a bad parent and he's fun with the kids most of the time but he needs supervision. He also has trouble with arbitrary rules and just changing things on them for no reason so they get frusterated with him because he doesn't explain anything. Half the time what he thinks he said and the words that came out of his mouth are totally different. So if I'm not around to intervene... it would be hell for the kids.

Having him out of the bedroom... I'm not really angry. I know it sounds weird but part of my anger was just the idea that he gets off scot free for everything because he avoids natural consequences so easily. I feel like now he can't because he's on the couch. He has to face his situation because he says he doesn't want to be there. The injustice was making me angry more than anything else. Now I just feel sad. Mainly because the whole thing is a totally preventable tragedy.  It's a sad thing when a person makes a choice to disengage from life completely and has to live with the consequences. I'm sure he'll be very lonely/depressed etc. I'm sure when he looks back on his life it will be regrettable. I have a lot of friends. I have not isolated myself. So I can get the support I need from a lot of different places and he sees me doing that.  He literally doesn't have one friend, just aquaintances he sees on Sunday at Church and his therapist, because you can't have friends when you take zero initiative in life. So now that I have stopped including him in my social plans things are going to be a lot different for him. It saddens me because we could have had something a lot different if he made different choices. The trouble is even he doesn't know how to motivate himself. I've suggested that he might have depression along with ADHD but he didn't give the suggestion any validity so I don't think he's going to do anything. While I see him taking the initiative to do chores so he doesn't get thrown out of the house, (which be both agree since I will take the kids with me that if someone has to leave it's going to be him for their sake) I don't see him taking a lot of initiative in any other area. He doesn't even really take care of himself. We've discussed the problems at length but he doesn't seem to remember the conversation so we have started recording them on his phone so that I don't have to say the same thing more than once. Basically he acts like all of life has to be explained to him because he doesn't engage his brain in anything except work. I can't help him with that. So he's on his own because I've committed for my own health to stop taking initiative for him in some insane attempt to save our marriage. Basically if it falls apart, it falls apart. I'm holding up my end so whatever he does is whatever he does. He understands the boundries and if he doesn't respect them then I'll ask him to leave. We have also agreed to no hitting and he has agreed that if he can't just let himself into a locked room.

I've had Melisa's book for five years. I've read it a dozen times at least. He just bought his own copy this week and I'm sure only because he's looking for a way off the couch. We'll see what he accomplishes with it. I know one thing. I'm not his mommy.