What to do if I suspect ADHD in my husband?

I have been with my husband for 17 years and am finally convinced that he suffers from ADHD. Over the years, we have logged many hours in marriage counseling sessions. We have always fought a lot over many things including finances and spending money on unnecessary items. He is a very successful entrepreneur, but he has had several job changes to get to this point. He has explained that he is motivated by money so in order to get motivated he needs to buy things for countless hobbies that come and go....

He is a good father, but doesn't do any of the day to day responsibilities with them like transportation, appts,  homework, dinner. It is pretty much understood that his job takes precedence. If he happens to be home from work to eat dinner with us, I have to ask him for his help to get them ready for bed. Mostly at home, he retreats every chance he gets and spends endless hours in front of his computer behind a locked door. He likes to play video games and as of late I am wondering if he also watches porn. He drinks alcohol nightly. He stays up very late and sleeps in while I am left to get our young children ready for the day. About 3 years ago, he was evaluated once by a psychiatrist per the request of our marriage counselor  and he was diagnosed with a "slight mood disorder" and was told to watch his drinking, exercise and to keep an eye on things. He never followed back up on it - I think his fear is that they will say he needs meds.

I have secretly purchased Melissa's latest book about ADHD effect in Marriage, to gain insight into if this could be our issue. The personal stories in the book have resonated with me. I can see similar patterns in him with distraction, hyper focus, retreat and frustration.  I know I do not have the medical background to diagnose my husband, but I am convinced that he suffers from ADHD. I am pretty much at that hopelessness stage, but I am trying so hard to not be. I have turned to religion because I can't stand feeling hopeless and am hoping that he will suddenly turn a corner. I guess deep down I do love him. He is a good father and talented in so many ways.

How do I approach this subject with my husband? How can I let him know that maybe we should get him evaluated for ADHD? He is going to think I have lost my mind. Please help!


Hello. ADHD, particularly the inattentive type, can be difficult to diagnose. It can look like bi-polar, anxiety, depression, mania, ODD, etc. and there can be any of those involved too. There are numerous questionnaires that you can review and answer on his behalf, and if it looks like a fit, then you can schedule a meeting with him to discuss, "honey, I'd like to discuss something with you tomorrow. Will 7:00 work for you?" It might help to discuss while going for a walk or doing dishes, as they can do better with an activity. Then say something like, "I've been doing some research and came across stories that sound just like us. Turns out ADHD was involved, so I did some looking into ADHD. In my opinion, according to my guesses as to your answers, you qualify. Would you be willing to get assessed?" Assuming he is, say "thank you. I know that I have had a role in our issues, and I don't want you to think I blame everything on you. I'm grateful you are willing to look into it. I've gathered some info on local experts, do you want to make your own appt or shall I?" That last bit is enabling but the books say its ok in order to get him to doc. 


Good luck!

agreed to eval but does not want me there

My husband has agreed to an evaluation. I mentioned to him that the therapist would like the spouse present if possible. Unfortunately, he said he agreed to an evaluation, but did NOT agree for me to be there. I  am not sure if he is trying to sabotage the entire thing. I am between a rock and a hard place. Since I had this conversation with my husband, I have gotten clarification from the psychologist on what value a spouse can bring to an ADHD evaluation. I am totally afraid to share it with my husband because he said if I bring it up again that he would not go. I am kicking myself - wishing I had gotten ALL the facts before talking with him. I had no clue that he would react that way about me being in the eval - guess I can't blame him. He probably feels blind-sided by this whole thing even though - I tried to communicate effectively, but ended up crying in the process of telling him. 

ellie70's picture

Wow, I've read many stories

Wow, I've read many stories on this website, but your description of your situation is mine to a T. What came out of his counceling? How are things going Suda?

Still have our ups and downs, but improving...

Hi Ellie70,

It has been less than a year since my husband was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD so it is still very fresh and raw.  He doesn't want anyone to know including his family.  He is on meds, one extended release stimulant, but it wears off by evening so if he was prescribed a short-acting stimulant. On most days, I think he forgets to take the short-acting one. I do see an improvement in his mood and focus when he is on the meds. Unfortunately, when I am around him, the meds have worn off.   I noticed that since being on his meds, his hyperfocus has been on his business and work. He works 60 to 80 hours a week which leaves little to no time for anything else. He does spend time with me and the kids when I plan activities for us to do on the weekend.  I wish he would take better care of himself - he still drinks at night and does little to no exercise. His eating is not that great either unless he is home to eat with us which is a rare event during the week.

We are both in individual counseling. I needed to get control of my anger and anxiety and find more constructive ways of communicating with my husband. I have learned a lot, but still struggle to communicate effectively when I get annoyed with some ADHD behavior.  We have our good and bad days. Still a roller coaster ride, but it is more like a kid roller-coaster ride rather than the upside-down coaster it used to be. So, I guess what I am saying is there is hope.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions. I know I have found comfort in knowing that there are others out there is my same situation.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Communication is hard


I have tried many different counselors with my spouse.  

While for a long time I thought the problem was all mine, I now know that my spouse hears things differently that the actual words that are being said - and when he says things, he THINKS all  his thought are heard, too.

Communication is really hard with no additional issues - but toss in ADHD - and it is extremely hard.  I honestly do NOT know what is all part of ADHD, and what is related to other things in my spouse's life - but, it is a real mess.

Here are a few examples:

1.  About 8 years ago, we were in family counseling.  The counselor told us we had many options.  We could stay as we are, we could get a separation, we could get divorced, we could work with her further.  It seems quite apparent that all my spouse heard was "Get divorced."  He will often say, "Dr. So-andSo said we needed to get divorced."  He even uses it as a jab at me, as I have heard him tell someone under his breathe that a counselor advised him many years ago to "divorce her."  When I called him out on it, he replied, "You don't know what she said to me when you weren't there."  And. . . that is true.  I do know how words get messed up before they hit his brain.  What he recalls, is different that what is actually said.  That is why I try to communicate EVERYTHING to him in writing - as a self-protection.  

3.  Yet another counselor, he insisted told him she felt sorry for him as I am punishing him.  This was never said while I was in session with them.  When I asked for clarification from the counselor, she told me she advised him to ignore my opinions and go about the business of getting his ADHD under control.  If he did that, I would likely follow (in my willingness to work further in the counseling.). 

4.  Yet, still another counselor told him how very sad and bad she felt for him because I would not attend the counseling with him.  When I asked him if he told her how many other counseling session, with how many other counselors,  I did attend with him, he said, "Well, no I didn't mention it."  

5. This morning my spouse is leaving, and is angry our son is not up.  "I told him he needed to be at the job at 9 am."  Quite funny as my spouse is late 90% of the time, and if he does bother to call his customer, it is to make an excuse about how he is running late. I asked our son if he knew his Dad promised he would be on the job at 9 am.   Our son told me that his Dad indeed told him last Friday and last night he had a job this morning.  However, he did not hear his Dad state a time.  This is a typical round at our home.  We tried note boards.  We tried weekly meetings to get the work schedule on the same page with all three of us.   My spouse cannot get on board.  We need to all fly on his coat tails.  Willy Nilly, as his whims lead him.

6.  This year we had a plan for Father's Day.  We bought a new awning.  My spouse said he wanted to install it as a Father's Day project, AND when our daughter volunteered to cook supper, he stated that he LOVED to grill, so for Father's day, he wanted to cook.  That plan started to fall apart early, as he wanted to change the plans and install the awning on a different day (Typical pattern.)  I insisted we stick to the plan, and get the awning up.  By 8:30 pm we were all quite hungry and I asked him if he was ready to cook.  He snapped, "It's Father's Day.  I shouldn't have to cook."  He has been  letting me know these past few days how I had no right to "take control" over Father's Day, which should have been his day.  And he pouts.

It is all crazy making for me.  Now I just want to get out of this situation.  I know I myself gave all I have to give.  There is just nothing left.  

What I am doing as a current means of finding a way to stay sane, is sticking to plans that are made - only changing them in case of fire, lack of breathing, or act of God.  I cannot deal with the chaos of never knowing from one minute to the next what the plans will be.  

The trouble ensues when we try to work out miscommunication.  My spouse insists we are all trying to attack him, and are all against him.  He defends, and defends, and starts to cry, and nearly has a break down.  

So sad.  Very scary.  I wish I knew how to help him.  I don't even have the hutzpah any more to look for alternatives.  



ellie70's picture

Suda, thanks for your reply.

Suda, thanks for your reply. I am struggling with everything right now as after finding this forum and after reading Dr.Hallowell's books "Married to distraction" and "Driven to distraction" as well as ADHD and marriage by Melissa O I finally realized what was the reason behind my dysfunctional marriage. We have been married for 14 years, together-17. Laser focus courtship lasted 6 months and ever since that ended, it's been really really tough. Porn addiction, drinking, impulse buying, lying and moving our family around the US for job changes. In between jobs now, he is looking again, we are probably going to have to move again.

 He has been treating his ADD with adderall IR, but no counseling or education (books, articles) or therapies. 

He is willing to go to therapy to trying to fix this, quit drinking as it was becoming an issue, plus alcohol cancels out the effectives of ADHD meds....but I see no hope.

I just feel bitter and am grieving the past 17 years of my life that could have been very different. I dont think I will ever be able to have an emotional connection with him as he is probably just not capable. I feel so much weight on my shoulders and wish it would go away as if by magic. 

Both of our children have this awful condition as well. 

The only thing that makes me feel a bit better is that I am not alone and all of you guys are out there dealing with the same.



I feel for you. I have had

I feel for you. I have had some similar experiences with drinking, porn and job changes. Fortunately, we have not had to move and there hasn't been a job change in the last 7 years so we are on the up and up, but my guard is always up waiting for him to drop some bomb on me.  He does take meds and sees a therapist so I guess that is why I have hope.   I constantly wonder if our children have it as well. Our oldest daughter (elementary age) is doing fine in school, but I am constantly reading about ADHD in girls because there was some behaviors at home that made me read about ADHD. Like you,  my research led me to Melissa's book and I cried when i read the first page and realized this is why are marriage is so dysfunctional. I have also read Ned Halloway's books too. Like you said, there are others that are in similar situations.  I have found comfort in talking with others online, but to be honest I have felt better when I have attended a local CHADD meeting. It is one thing to read online, but it is another to share your experiences or listen to others in a group setting at least for me...