What to do when the connection between spouses is nearly completely severed?

My marriage to my ADD wife is at an all time low.  I've read both Melissa Orlov's book and Co-Dependent No More, both which have helped me alot.  I'm really trying to let my wife take charge of herself, however we still live in the same house with two kids, so we have to coexist and coordinate our lives to some extent.  But she is so incredibly passive aggressive and full of shame from carrying around every perceived failure she's ever had in her life that she translates any conversation about the smallest conflict into astounding anger and blame.  I can't express the slightest concern over decisions she makes or ask her to join me to discuss a family challenge without her blowing up.  If I want to talk about the kids and their anger and coping problems, she is defensive because she thinks I'm accusing her as the source of their problems.  If I want to talk about a household project like cleaning out the basement, she blows up that I'm always scrutinizing her clutter.  I've tried making less confrontational methods like emailing or texting her when I have a question for her or want to bounce an idea off her, but now she just ignores the messages.  I often follow up to make sure she got them, and she'll come right out and tell me that she doesn't even always read them.  When I express how I feel disrespected when she ignores my messages, she goes off like a time bomb and says that she's not ignoring me...she just needs time to absorb my messages when she feels she can handle it.  But that type of delaying and denial has been going on for years.

I just don't know how to communicate with someone that refuses to even acknowledge any challenges in our lives.  She hides from virtually anything and everyone that challenges her to reflect on her relationships, her behavior, her decisions.  She always puts me in a position to tackle our family problems on my own, which I'll happily do, but then resents me for it even though I directly asked for her input.  I try to give her time to think things through, but as soon as a ask how much time she needs it presses a button in her because she knows I'm asking for a commitment and we're into a fight.

The other big problem is that she's recently started denying her ADHD since her original diagnosis a couple years ago.  At first, she seemed fairly accepting, but then I screwed things up by pushing her to seek further help for it beyond Adderall, which didn't ever seem to really work.  I did a lot of research - read books, websites, called support groups.  Now I'm sorry I ever did it because she resents me for trying to "fix" her, but all I ever wanted to do was be supportive and understanding of what she was going through.  Since earlier last year, she's started denying her ADHD and even has her latest therapist believing that she has OCD/Anxiety/Depression issues, but not ADHD.  This therapist claims she's familiar with ADHD, but I honestly don't think she is.  She even called me in for one session, without my wife there, to try to get some answers to some of her questions.  She said that my wife tended to talk in circles when asked very direct questions, and often would answer questions that weren't even asked.  And I also found out that my wife was omitting a lot of details about some of our marital conflicts and leaving out any information that might implicate her in any way...she just blamed me for everything regardless of what her role was in any particular conflict.

I'm ready to throw in the towel.  I've been begging her since September to consider marriage counseling so we can learn to communicate, but she just keeps saying...I'm not ready to do that yet.  I need to fix myself first, but that just simply isn't happening.  We actually did have a couple of sessions earlier last year, but as soon as the therapist started pointing out that her own behaviors (such as lying and hiding things - big things like credit cards and court appearances) were often sustaining and inflating so many of our conflicts, she shut down and said she didn't want to see him anymore.  I am terrified to leave because I'm fearful of leaving the kids with her.  They already are exhibiting the same passive aggressive behavior that my wife has brought on.  They tell me that they're afraid to even ask mom "where she was after work" or "why the laundry isn't done" because she yells at them every time they do.  So now they're just bottling up their feelings and it comes out in major temper tantrums.  I tears me apart seeing them like this, but it's just another thing that I can't address with my wife because she just blows up with defensiveness when I try to talk to her about it.

I just don't know what else I can do to deal with this.  I've tried to give her space to work on her issues on her own, but her denial is preventing her from seeking any real help, so the vicious cycle just perpetuates itself.  I've tried reaching out to her family, and every one of them agrees that she needs help, but they get treated with the same defensiveness that I get whenever they ask her how things are going.  She tells them that I scrutinize her, I emotionally abuse her, I don't trust her, I crush any of her individuality.  With the skill of an expert, she can so easily paint herself as the perfect victim in all of this that they start to sympathize with her.   And she wins...they back off and nothing changes, except she's now alienating even her own family.

Does anyone have any great ideas that I haven't tried to get through to her?  I seem to be hanging onto some hope that something can trigger her to accept this and work on it.

I'm the wife, my husband has

I'm the wife, my husband has ADHD, and you could pretty much transpose our stories replacing you with me and my husband with your wife. 

My best advice to you IS to stop trying to fix her and start putting to good use the advice you got in the CoDependent No More book (I LOVE that book!!). I dropped ALL talk of getting help, going to counseling (I go ALONE to work on ME now), and the issues in the marriage for about 3 months to work on myself. My sanity was restored and I am a lot stronger emotionally because of it. His issues are still very much present, his ADHD is very out of control, and I'm not sure our marriage is going to survive. The healthier I get, the more I realize just how unhealthy he is...and it is heartbreaking to see him wasting his precious life away...but if he doesn't want to save himself, then there is nothing anyone can do...only God can help him.

Your circumstances can improve...even if her behavior doesn't. I think it was you that mentioned in another thread about her 'attacks'...when you try to help, being passive aggressive, etc. Ignore it. Once you take the 'thrill' out of it for her, you'll see the behavior lessen. Just like the CoD No More book says, we are reactors. Stop reacting to her behavior, you're just staying in the 'triangle' with her and things will never change as long as you do. If she questions your motives for doing something (chores, for example) just say "I'm sorry you feel that way, it was not my intention" and walk away. Also, as the book suggests too, stop taking everything personally. This is her demon. You are fully aware of it and articulate it well...so stop reacting and stop making it personal. Recognize the ADHD when you're dealing with it, and walk away. It is the only way to deal with it until she gets help. Good luck! I know your struggles. You're not alone.

 

Good advise.

Thanks, Sherri.  Good advice.  It's just extremely difficult to let her hurt our children, and it's very hard for them to understand when she isn't open and honest about her challenges and work on this as a family.  They're just left being hurt by all the unreasonable expectations and constant let-downs, so I feel I need to press the issue.  But you're absolutely right...I'm inadvertently letting her control the situation.  I need to just take the kids to counseling with me and we can work on ourselves.  She'll have to decide to join us if she wants to.

You can stand as a buffer

You can stand as a buffer between your wife and the kids, when necessary. You just have to do it in a way that says "This is hurtful to the kids and I won't tolerate that" just never do it in front of the children. Taking them to counseling isn't a bad idea either...the counselor can often give them a better understanding and hearing it coming from someone 'neutral', they'll tend to believe it more. My daughter just liked having someone tell her that her feelings towards her dad were OK and nothing she needed to feel bad about. 

She cannot expect to bully the kids and not be called on it, but we as adults CAN remove ourselves from the drama triangle and make things better for ourselves. Children aren't equipped for it.