What can I do?

Hello, I am married to a man with ADD. I do all the work at the relationship and at understanding my DH's ADD, and he says the relationship is important to him but he doesn't DO anything to make it work. He forgets what he says he will do. Or else he says he can't do it even though we agreed what to do. I spend so much time studying and reading about ADD and thinking of ways that could make things better, and then more time thinking how to suggest them to him in kind ways, and then we talk about it and he thinks something could help and I used to feel happy then because I thought if he had agreed we would do something that way then he would want to do it but he just hardly ever does it. Now I don't really believe him anymore. I DO believe he would like things to get better, but it' s like he can't really understand what the problems are, and also he forgets everything. So if he wants it to get better it's just because he wants me to be happy. I have CFS which means my energy is very limited. He doesn't seem to get what that means either. And when I tell him what I need to make it worth staying married to him he gets worried and says he doesn't know if he can give me what I need because he doesn't understand those things. I told him how the ADD effects the marriage and me. I told him he needs to be fair and responsible and get some medication or other help or at least learn about it. He doesn't like the idea of drugs. What else will work? And he says he can't read books to learn about it because reading is difficult for him so I send him links from the internet, articles and websites, and I copy good information and e-mail it to him. If he reads them he doesn't say anything to me and things are just the same. I recorded a tape once for him to understand how it was for me and he listened to it once, then we listened to it together and discussed it. But nothing helped for more than just the present time. Nothing lasted. It's like it's all down to me, and I just can't do it all, but it's like he can't do things either. Or he can't make himself do them. He said he doesn't understand what I am talking about and he asked me for concrete examples so I wrote it out for him but he says he can't read it so we read it together and he usually gets defensive. Sometimes things get better after we have a talk but it doesn't STAY better. I am crying inside. I love him so much. I don't want to give up on our marriage, I really don't, but I don't know how I can stay in it at the same time as looking after myself too. What's the point of being married if only one person's needs are being met most of the time and the other person is just getting drained? Sorry to moan.

I can sympathize...

I can completely relate to everything you described in your post, everyting, except that my ADD partner is taking medications. Although, that hasn't motivated him to make some behavioral modifications. I hear the same exact words repeated to me over and over again from my partner that you are currently hearing from your husband. Its as if they don't want to do what it takes, because it does require them to invest alot of energy and effort into making modifications that could take years; but we'd at least like to seem some form of effort. Even just a tiny bit, you know!? My partner, doesn't follow through on anything he says. All that I feel now is constant doubt and anxiety about the uncertainty of wondering if he is going to fullfill his words by backing them up with actions. Then we turn in the "nag" that they can't stand, but they are the reason we are nagging! Unfortunately it seems you've realized the same things I have, nagging nor compassion and kindness has made any difference in their reaction to taking responsibility for themselves; therefore, we can't force them to see that they need to change, they have to want to do it and see it on their own. Its obvious that this is very difficult for them. I just don't understand how I can tell my partner over and over that something he is doing is creating pain for me, and no matter how many times I tell him; he still does it!! Do you feel that happens in your relationship? I am also in the same position as you, not the same condition as CFS, but I have been sick alot this year, migraines, allergies, depression, insomnia, somedays its just hard to function, just a mix of everything; and my partner cannot empathize with what I am going through, but I'm the one that has to forget all the things I am going through and be forgiving to his problems. I devoted alot of my energy to this man, to understand him better, to salvage our relationship, I've done everything I've can to help him; only for him to do as your husband does, make temporary adjustments. I really feel the theory behind this is because they are only making the modifications to make us happy not because they've accepted inside themselves there is an issue; and that is why its temporary. They aren't truly devoted to making the change. I just want you to know that you aren't alone, as I am experiencing the same thing. Currently, my partner and I are taking some time "apart" from one another because I can't continue to drain the happiness out of me trying to save our relationship, when I'm the only one saving it. You know?!? I feel as if I am becoming co-dependent and I do not want to live my life that way. I wish I had some great words of wisdom to offer you. I've tried making a pros and cons list of what life would be like with or without my partner, but at this point in time its hard to even create that list being that my partner, isn't a partner at all! I guess if you've tried every source of help that you can provide for him, and he still isn't getting it; then maybe you need to try to just focus on your happiness and health. Maybe if he isn't getting all of your attention, or all of his needs met, maybe that will give him the jolt he needs to get himself together for the sake of your marriage. Its a tough position to be in, we love these men, and we fell in love with them for a reason; but what happens after the relationship has developed deeply and you're the only one in it!? What do you think you are going to do?

Hello, Yes that's right. If

Hello, Yes that's right. If I saw him making a real effort and sticking to it I WOULD feel hopeful. But ADD means they get distracted and can't stick to it and it sucks. Yes that is what happens. Some things are really serious and hurting me a lot every time he forgets. I don't get hysterical or anything but I tell him I am really upset and he gets upset because I am upset but then the exact same thing happens the next day. It really is too much for me. It is too painful and frustrating. < I have been sick alot this year, migraines, allergies, depression, insomnia, somedays its just hard to function, just a mix of everything; and my partner cannot empathize with what I am going through.> Sorry you are not well, I think living with a partner with ADD who is not being responsible would make anyone ill, but I was ill even before I met my DH. Actually I was getting a bit better before I met him because I had found ways to look after myself that were helping, but now I can't do most of what I need to do to look after myself because so much of my time and energy goes in trying to work out the relationship, and also I can't take my time to do things slowly because he always wants to be busy. I am trying to get back to doing things the way I need to do them because I need to. < but I'm the one that has to forget all the things I am going through and be forgiving to his problems>The other day we were doing something together and I was so tired I needed to go and sit down but he said he needed to do something with me then because otherwise he would forget to do it. I said I would try and remind him later but he said he needed to do it straight away, so I put myself out by staying and doing it with him instead of going to sit down but it was hard for me. Maybe I should just have walked away anyway. Why is it ok for things to be so hard for us and we make all the sacrifices and the ADD one doesn't have to do some hard things too? It's like we just have to put up with everything and not get upset and they don't have to do a thing. I feel like that too. It is very hard to do that with him around. I just don't have the energy. I don't want to separate either because we do love each other a lot. He wouldn't understand if I said we need a separation. < Maybe if he isn't getting all of your attention, or all of his needs met, maybe that will give him the jolt he needs to get himself together for the sake of your marriage. > I wish you were right. Is that happening with your DH? My DH just doesn't pay attention long enough to understand there is a real problem. If we split up he would be even more confused about it all but I don't know how I can make him understand any of it. I have no idea. I want it to work so much. He does too but he doesn't get that if you want something to work if it's not working you have to DO something different. I despair.

I'm sorry that you are going

I'm sorry that you are going through this stress, it is really difficult and I give you credit for all the patience you've managed to spare. As much as I've learned about ADHD and all that goes along with it, I cannot understand why it is so difficult for my partner to be able to correlate actions and the consequences that go along with it. I have an anxiety disorder, my brain races a million miles an hour sometimes; but that doesn't mean I should let it be in control of me, or the life around me. Its a reason I may act a certain way, but I can take control once I see that my anxiety is getting the best of me. Such as using a planner. I just don't understand why they don't take control of the behavior. It is something that they can control or take control over if the effort is there. It is never going to 100%, but at least its better than only controlling 2% of it! Its heart wrenching knowing what you are going through, because it does come to a point where the pain overrides alot, and everything becomes more and more difficult to deal with. Does he blame you for any of his actions? Do you feel he exhibits any passive-aggressive behaviors? Does he say that he is sorry for upsetting you, and that he doesn't want to be the way he is, only to do the same things again? Thats what I see to be some sort of passive - aggressive behavior. I agree with you, that the emotional stress that can come from a relationship with a partner who is not in control of their ADHD can definitely cause you to feel sick! It literally is draining. I would suggest that you do everything you can for your own health at this point. He isn't being a team player, and you have to put your health before anything. I've heard that CFS is very difficult to live with and if the stress is greatly impacting the severity of it, you really have to put you first. The way I think about the exact scenario you described, he should of one, understood that you needed to lay down; and if he knew he was going to forget then he should of left himself a big note to remind himself! Instead you wind up taking care of you and him which is exhausting in itself. I am a very giving person, but at times you have to be tiny bit selfish. If he can't make the effort to remind himself, why should you strain yourself physically? It seems as things for you are very unbalanced. Is there anything I can do to help? We are on the same page when it comes to our partners not even understanding that there are problems, let alone if it would end, as you said he would be confused. How much time have you invested into trying to work out the relationship and trying to get him to notice things? If it has been a long time and he still hasn't even noticed, just a little; then you need to think about what you are going to do for you. How much longer can you be responsible for his ability to comprehend how his actions are impacting the world around him? I am learning that in my own relationship, constantly trying to tell him hasn't done an ounce of good for either of us; he usually only notices if he actually sees it as it is happening. If I react differenlty to him, then at times he may notice. Not all the time, but sometimes. Example, one day I'm trying to talk to him about us and as usual he staring into space watching the TV, I could tell he was not listening to me. Even though he said he was, it doesn't mean he processed what I said into his brain and understood it, as he was allowing himself to be distracted. Instead of continuing to waste my time knowing he wasn't paying attention, I told him "When you're ready to focus on this conversation let me know." For whatever reason, walking away at that point caught his attention. Maybe this is something you could try? I agree that they have to do something to make things work, and if they aren't doing anything to back up what they say they want; when is enough, enough? Have you asked him to go to counseling? Maybe an outside party would get him to notice himself. I feel for myself that I've enabled my partner's behavior by one, acting like a mother, and two; not being firm enough to set boundaries. Maybe you can set some boundaries for yourself, and things that you'd like to see happen; for the both of you. If he isn't willing to meet you half way or compromise, (if he is, be sure to hold him accountable for it) then there isn't much more you can do than cut your loses, or stay in an unhappy/unhealthy relationship. I'm in the exact position you are in, because we don't want either option. We don't want to leave the one we love, and we don't want an unhealthy relationship either; but I've yet to be successful in finding an in-between solution. I'm here for you if you ever need to talk, or just vent. I wish you the best and I hope that things will work out they way you want them too.

Thank you Sunny

Thanks for your support Sunny, It's good to find friends on here who are going through the same problems. My DH says he can't use a planner because he can't remember to look at it. I suggest that he use one he can carry in his pocket and look at it each time he goes to the bathroom. But he hasn't done it. I could keep on reminding him but I have enough to do just keeping my own life running because of my illness. And anyway I don't want to be a nag. I want him to be responsible for making himself remember. What happens is he buys more and more planners or diaries or notebooks and ends up not looking at any of them for more than one or two times. I said just have one and get rid of the rest. But it still doesn't work for him. No he doesn't blame me for his behaviour. He is a kind man and he hardly ever gets angry and never blames me for these things. I was going to say he doesn't say unkind things to me but he does only he doesn't do it intentionally. When he says he's not going to do something I was really looking forward to then that is unkind, but he says it because he hasn't thought about it properly. Am I making excuses for him???? Yes he always says sorry but I don't think he understands that when you say sorry you are meant to be understanding what you did that was upsetting and be trying not to do it again. No he doesn't say he doesn't want to be how he is, I don't think he has a clue how he is really. Yes he nearly always does the same upsetting things again. Not a lot sinks in with him. You are right in the scenario I wrote. I was doing all the taking care of both of us. It's not good. I agree he should have got out his planner and written it down so he would remember and then I could have done what I needed by having a rest. But I'll bet he didn't have it in his pocket, and didn't think about it. It's kind of you to offer to help but apart from replying to my posts there isn't anything is there but replying is very helpful. He does notice things a little but not for long enough so he could make things really change. Like they might change on the moment once or twice but after that it's like they never had been talked about at all because it all goes out of his head and disappears somewhere. What you say about telling him we'll talk when he is ready to pay attention is good. I may try that. The thing is then he does pay some attention when I get serious about things sometimes but he just doesn't get what the heck I am talking about or why I am so upset. I know he doesn't get it. Yes I have suggested counselling or coaching but he doesn't trust people like that, he thinks they don't know what they are doing and charge too much. Looking at what I wrote it shows up how he isn't doing much at all to get things how he says he wants them. He does some things though so as long as he does I must still have some hope things could improve. Like even if he tries something for a time and then forgets at least he is trying. But really it's only worth it if the things he tries are having a lasting positive effect. I am talking in circles. I wish it could work. Yes I set boundaries but what happens then is that he forgets them so I hold him to it and then he either does it but without any feeling which is very weird or else he still forgets and I have to look after myself by not even reminding him anymore because it is all things that hurt when he forgets and I get too upset when he forgets and forgets so I don't even go there anymore, like I don't think he'll remember the boundary so I avoid the situation because then the upset of him forgetting doesn't happen. Do you see what I am saying?

I'm glad that my replying

I'm glad that my replying has been helpful, although I worry that my rambling doesn't make sense. My partner has tried a planner, and now he will set reminders using his cell phone alarm. He will hear the alarm go off, set the phone down, prepare to do the task that he reminded himself to do; and then the next minute he is making dinner! haha. I had to chuckle a bit there. I think the "forgetfullness" becomes an issue for us because what our partners do, ultimately will affect our lives too. You know? My partner and I are currently taking a "break," and I'll be amazed if he remembers to even think about us and our problems. I just don't know how it can be forgotten, but I wonder if they get more sidetracked, then actually forget. My partner says he can't deal with more than one thing at once, and if that is truly the case; then it makes sense as to why he isn't spending time "thinking" because he is spending time on his current tasks. Maybe that is why they say they want it to work, and they never live up to it because they get caught up in the normal day to day things. Maybe if he truly want to improve his behavior, you can set time once a week to discuss one of his ADHD symptoms and focus on that discussion during that time. The problem is, getting him to carry out the action after the discussion. You said your DH isn't on medication right? He also doesn't want to go to counseling, so how does he ever expect to make some significant improvements in his life? There has to be some sort of realisitic approach, possibly, maybe you can indirectly motivate him. I don't think you are making excuses for him, you are trying to understand his behaviors and ways of thinking. I think if he was on the right medication, it might help him retain alot of the information, because it is easier to focus, and then things would seem clearer. My partner says that I speak too quickly and he can't remember my first sentence, let alone keep up with what I'm currently saying. It seems they need to spend so much energy trying to understand and focus on each word, that it makes it harder correlate the meaning of what we are saying.. If they can't remember the beginning, and the ending doesn't seem clear, it would make sense as to why the two don't come together. Everything you've said clearly relates to what I deal with on a day to day basis, sometimes I want to pull my hair out, and than sometimes I wonder if I'm being compassionate enough to what he is going through. Maybe learning about ADHD more clearly would help us be more understanding and therefore they become better partners to us? Essentially they do have to take responsibility for themselves and how their actions/behaviors impact the world around them, ultimately though, I guess its up to us to choose which of those we are willing to accept and which we simply won't tolerate. I completely see where you are coming from, especially in the fact that when they do try, its only temporary. Maybe it is only temporary because we aren't appreciative of it? I'm just trying to think of things in my relationship, where something that seems tiny to me, will be trivial to him; and because I see it as small, I don't show him my gratitude. Does that make sense? Maybe there needs to be large amounts of positive reinforcement, even if it seems minimal to us. I see that you've learned to not set expectations to avoid you feeling disappointed when he doesn't follow through, I'm wondering if there is a way that this can be more balanced. I mean that generally speaking. You can't always sacrafice yourself so you don't get disaapointed, and he can't always be allowed to disappoint you. I guess we need to take some things they say with a grain a salt, and more important things they are held accountable for. I'm beginning to learn one very important lesson out of the issues in my relationship. That being, I can't change him, the only thing I can do, is change how I react to him. It is a very difficult position to be in because you don't want to be a parent, you don't want to enable him either, but how much of this should we be responsible for? How much should we just accept without sacraficing our needs too? Are there things we can do to help them, help us? Ahhh, I'm rambling. This is a frustrating situation isn't it?!?! Ahhhh yiii yiii. I will say, it is nice to be able to talk to someone in the same situation, as it makes it much easier to deal with, its therapeutic. Not that I am trying to pry, and if you don't feel comfortable sharing with me, that is okay too. I was curious if there is anything in particular that you'd like to see improve? Maybe we could brainstorm ideas together. I would say, my biggest issue in my relationship, is communciation. If we could communicate as if we were speaking the same language, that would lift alot of barriers out of the road and make it much easier to conquer everything else along the way. In the meantime, hopefully we can have a fairy come along with a magic wand and sprinkle some fairy dust on us full of sparkling patience!

Reply to Sunny

Hi Sunny You are so right – the forgetfulness and other parts of the ADD behaviour become issues for us because what they do affect us and our lives. That’s what happens in relationships even with a child or someone. If he forgets something that is important for both of us he doesn’t realise it’s both of us being affected in fact he doesn’t see there is any effect because he has already forgotten about the thing he forgot to do anyway so it is off his radar and in his eyes there is no issue anyway!!!! I think they get sidetracked like you say but then they have forgotten the first thing too. Like my DH sometimes looks at me completely blank, like he has no recollection AT ALL about what I am reminding him he had agreed to do. If we agreed it yesterday or last week there is not much hope he will remember it today because so much other things have happened in his world and in his head in between. Like he remembers all sorts of things but they are nearly always the things that are not actually so important. So I have to remember the things that will affect both of us. I have to remember for both of us. I have to try to bring his attention to the important things but I just get very very tired and frustrated and want to give up sometimes. It’s funny what you say about setting a time each week to look into different ADD behaviours together. That’s what we do! Usually we look at something and then he says he can’t understand it or he can’t do anything about it so I find a different way to try to get it across or a different way to try to improve on the symptom but he gets bored with it too quick. He needs lots of change and variety in order to hold his attention. But what about what I need? Also sometimes he forgets about the time we should be working on the ADD stuff and that upsets me too but other times it's good. He is trying some natural remedies to overcome the ADD problems. I don’t know if it will be enough. If it doesn’t make a lot of difference I will tell him again that this is a very serious matter and he is risking the marriage if he doesn’t take control of the ADD. He needs to understand that and I need to be very firm and stick to it. But also I think some things I could just forget about wanting anymore. Know what I mean? It would be easier if I could feel ok about accepting some things he just can’t do anymore and then I could still be happy with the things that he still does even if the others aren’t going to happen. I think I have to accept what he is capable of and stop wanting the rest and I need to be ok with that because otherwise I will never be happy will I. Yesterday we went out for a meal but we didn't really have anything to say to each other. It was sad. I bought him a new shirt and he didn't say he liked it. He just said he wasn't sure if he liked the colour. When I stop to think about it I can tell he really isn’t taking enough responsibility for improving it and he isn’t taking it seriously enough and either he needs to get more serious about it or lose the marriage or else we just live as friends. I encourage him and praise him a lot so that’s not the problem. He doesn’t believe he is any good anyway. Someone on one of the boards said 'is it right that the only things that change are the things we let go of wanting?' and that is how I feel too. I want something and he doesn’t give it and I tell him how I feel and he still can’t do it so I try to stop wanting it because HE sure as heck isn’t going to change anything. But then eventually you are left with nothing I guess. Which is his choice. I try. You have tried. But everyone has to take care of their own improvement and I can’t do his for him. I know that. It's like most of the great things about the person I fell in love with has just gone and he doesn't even remember the good things. The biggest thing I would like to see improve? That would be that he pays good attention to me and my needs and tries to give me what I need. REALLY tries instead of just saying it and doing it once and not keeping it going. You say communication is most important. You are right. Nothing can get better unless we can talk and understand and listen and hear and empathize. But first they got to be able to sit down long enough to do it! And concentrate on the subject. And all the rest. I hope you are enjoying your week end and doing somethings you like.

I too have a husband that I

I too have a husband that I believe has ADD. Although he has not been diagnosed, I am certain that he is. I've read almost all of the comments in this blog and he's done exactly everything you women are experiencing. He makes promises to pay more attention, even during sex but he still gets distracted. I'm not big on taking meds so I wouldn't dare ask him to medicate himself, so, I came up with some strategies that helps us and maybe it can help you. First, as you already know, communication is the essential key of it all and the willingness on his part to comply. Sticky notes work wonders (E-mails too). I place sticky notes in places where I know he will read them, etc. I found that it even helps me as well. I don't make his things-to-do list strenuous because I know I will just find him sitting around doing nothing and he will tell me a quick lie in a minute just to get me out of his face (Nagging) but I don't. I had to learn patience with him but be firm. I don't beg anymore I demand. These men are not children and if they can hyper focus on the things they love they can hyper focus on working on their issues. Now how can this be done? What are the things that interest your husband the most but causes hi to get caught up in the moment when nothing else matters? Set a limit on it! Collecting old movies over the internet is what wires my husband and he can do this for hours on end. So, we both agreed that he can search the internet on Fridays for his movie collecting hobby and the rest of the week is for simple stuff like checking email, weather, sports highlights. I also try to involve myself in the things that interest him and I partake in it so that he doesn't feel that he has to totally disregard them. We make sure we plan and write down what we expect from eachother on the weekends since he's off on those days. I leave sticky notes on what I need him to do for that day and I make sure he does those things before he engages in anything else (because PROCRASTNATER should have been his birth name)! As far as the low desire for intimacy, I found out that he is really into "dirty talk" while in the act so I make sure I do lots of it and Oh Boy does that help!...So, if "dirty talk" is what turns him on I make sure I "talk dirty" all night long!! LOL! He's also into role play, so I go out and buy sexy outfits (I encourage him to do this as well, so that he can get to choose what he wants to see me in). I also have found a way for him to initiate sex since I was the one who always initiated it which can get very frustrating at times. So, I sat him down and explained to him how often I would like to have sex. For example, I'm a woman with needs at least every 4 to 5 days so I tell him to keep track of the last time we were intimate. If we have sex Monday, he knows around Friday or Saturday I'm ready again!!! If I want it sooner, we've come up with ways to give him ques. For example, when he comes home from work, I'll be wearing nothing but stiletto heels and my birthday suit or when we're in bed I'll begin to start without him right in front of him...( if you know what I mean) he really gets the point then, for some reason men love it! I personally don't care for it but as long as it's not degrading or sacrificing my dignity I do what it takes to keep it funky in the bedroom. My point is ladies, there is hope if you combine it with a lot of communication, creativity, and of course PRAYER!!! How will you ever figure it out if you don't pray and ask GOD to teach you what needs to be done concerning your marriage. He knows what you're going thru and He put you their with your husband for a reason. GOD knew it would take a strong woman to deal with a man of such caliber and only a strong woman can conquer this challenge and what a CHALLENGE it is!!! Get on those knees ladies and PUSH...Pray Until Something Happens!!! God Bless, StrongWomanInControl

Stronger and stronger

Hi Strong Woman. It's good we are strong otherwise we would have given up wouldn't we. Some of what you say makes sense to me. You are right, these men are not children, but I think you are mistaken that we can decide what they will hyper focus on. It seems to me that it is random and if I want him to focus on clearing out the attic but his brain has begun focussing on something else then I haven't got a hope of getting him to do the attic because he can't hold two things in his brain at once. And when he gets bored with whatever he was focussing on he goes straight into whatever the next thing is that catches his eye and I might have told him about the attic and I might tell him a few times and he might say yes but it doesn't mean he will remember to do it because he thinks lots of things are important to do and if the boy down the road has got a puncture and he sees it out the window to him it's important to help the young lad fix his bike so he will do that although I tell him the attic is more important. As you point out nagging and begging don't work but you say demanding works with your DH. So how does he remember to LOOK at where you put the notes for reminding him what to focus on? In our house there isn't a place that he will see them. I put them on the bathroom mirror and it's like he looks straight through the note wherever it is even on his computer screen or his breakfast cereal box or on the handle of the front door but it's like they are invisible to him.When I send e-mails he reads them once and usually doesn't even remember to reply or let me know he has read it and if he does reply he says what I sent is good but then guess what - he doesn't remember what it said when I talk about it afterwards. In one ear and out the other. Sometimes I sent him e-mails of how I was feeling or what needed to happen or love letters but he doesn't tell me he even got them so I feel like I am ignored and what I say or feel or want is not important to him because that is what his behaviour shows. When you tell him he can only do his hobby one day a week aren't you treating him like a child? Doesn't he resent you telling him what he is allowed to do? Sex on demand? First off how does he remember when to do it? How does he remember he even did it last time? My DH has no clue when we last had sex or if he enjoyed it or if it was three days ago or three weeks. And it doesn't matter how exciting it was either! Stronger and stronger. That's what we get through facing our challenges and getting through them but I don't feel like I am getting anywhere at the moment because I am tired of doing all the work and him doing not much at all and he doesn't even see how much I do. He hasn't a clue but thank you for your ideas.