At what point do you stop fighting for your marriage?

I was trying to explain this to a friend.  My husband has decided he wants to leave, and since i've been pretty miserable with him lately, I didn't oppose to the idea.  But still I still have thoughts about getting back together with him, still trying to mend things, still trying to work it out.  My friend thinks I'm nuts.  Ok, nuts isn't the right word, but he couldn't understand why I would want to go back when I've been so miserable.

What I tried to explain to my friend is that my husband is an amazing, wonderful person.  It's this out of control ADHD that's screwing things up.  It's not 100% the reason, but I believe it's certainly a big factor.  Looking at the overall "big picture", we are great for each other.  Our friends who know us, despite knowing our struggles, still think we're the perfect couple.  Friends envy the relationship we have.  I can give you a hundred reasons why we're made for each other.

But unfortunately my husband loses sight of that as he's currently hyperfocused on what's wrong with our relationship.  This is not the first time he wanted to leave.  Each and every time, I have been the one that fought for our marriage.  I'm the one that has agreed to many changes (I know I'm not perfect, I'm willing to work on my own issues), I'm the one that ends up going through hell trying to convince him to stay.  And when he does decide to stay, it's because he usually realized that he was being petty and stupid to want to throw this marriage away over a little whim.  So he does see what I see when he can see clearly.

I feel like if I can get my husband to see clearly, he will understand what I'm talking about.  He's mentioned it before many times, we've got a very strong relationship.  He knows we complement each other well.  Until he starts hyperfocusing on the problem, then all of a sudden the relationship's not working out.  He's currently unmedicated.  He was on adderall for a while which he liked a lot until the effectiveness went away when his body adjusted to the medicine.  Then he just quit and has never gone back.  I want to convince him to try taking adderall again before making the decision.

But at what point do I stop fighting for the relationship?  I'm getting tired.  There's a part of me that wants to let it go and move on because I don't deserve to go through this crap.  And there's no telling when he's going to hyperfocus on something wrong in our relationship again and want to leave.

There's the other part of me that refuses to let a good relationship go over a trivial issue that husband is hyperfocused on and can't see past.

An older friend of mine told me, society today, people give up too easily and for the stupidest reasons.  She said that's why there's such a high divorce rate.  At the first sign of trouble, it's divorce.  Back in her day, people worked through their troubles.  People made compromises, and learned to live with the little annoyances and enjoy the bigger reasons why fell in love in the first place.  No one is perfect.  What you do is you find out what's really important in a person, and learn to deal with the unimportant things.  I feel like she's dead on.

Do I keep fighting for this or do I need to give up hope at this point?

justme2013's picture

I am sorry that I don't have

I am sorry that I don't have an answer for you as I am also searching for the same answer. I just wanted to thank you for sharing and let you know you are not alone in feeling this way!

Hello Nonadhdme, I stopped

Hello Nonadhdme, I stopped commenting on this website awhile ago but after reading your post, I just felt I wanted to respond and say you are not alone.  Your post deals with what I experienced for over 12 years (married for 24 yrs), the constant telling me by the add spouse that he wasn't happy and threatening to leave me (on a side note, almost everyone I meet says I am the sweetest person, go figure!).  Four times he left and three times I let him back.  The 4th time he left, I found out he had been having an affair.  The affair nearly destroyed me and to this day I look at a lot of things in life, not just our 'relationship', differently.  I, too, at first did everything I could do to be a better wife (because after all we are convinced by them that it is ALL our fault!) and I went through hell, too, each time he left.  In the time since he has been gone, I have finally been able to see a lot of things that went on in the marriage as caused by ADD and this has allowed me to let go of some of the anger and hurt, but I have also realized how unhappy i had been for years and also what the marriage didn't have-companionship, intimacy, the other parent.  We all want so badly for our marriages to work but at some point, we have to face the fact that things will not change if the spouse is not taking control of their ADD.  If we stay and they do not control it, we most likely will continue to be miserable OR we can get out and hopefully find happiness, whether that is with someone else or just within ourselves as we no longer have someone continually telling us we are the problem.  Only you will be able to decide when you have had enough.  I believe that what your older friend said is true in general but when dealing with ADD, the non ADD spouse could try to work things through for years and again, nothing will change if the partner is not taking responsibility.  Unless someone has been in a difficult ADD marriage, they have no clue what it is like.  You wrote the sentence, "There's the other part of me that refuses to let a good relationship go over a trivial issue that husband is hyperfocused on and can't see past."  The problem with this thinking is that most likely it is not a good relationship because your husband is telling you AGAIN he wants to leave you.  Why is he not staying and working on the relationship?  That would be a good marriage.  Again, I know what you are going through because I lived the same thing and in my case, to have had it end with an affair after hanging in there for so many years was devastating (even though I am not saying there is someone else involved in your situation).  I do a lot of looking back through the years asking where did they go and why did I stay and most importantly, why did I let myself put up with such a loveless and verbally abusive relationship.  I wish you nothing but strength as you deal with this difficult situation.                

Thanks st for posting your

Thanks st for posting your response.  Always chasing after him is a lot of work, and I'm pretty tired.  You're right to wonder why he's not staying and working on the relationship.  But I think that's just how the ADHD brain works.  Things can be great, but once he hyperfocuses on an issue, it blows up into a huge issue and it's all he can think about.  It can be as simple as I asked him to do something and he thinks I'm too controlling.  Then it goes out of control.  All he can think about are all the examples of times when I was controlling, and he's half way out the door.

But at some point, you're right, he needs to take some responsibility.  I don't think he knows he's hyperfocusing right now.  But do I bother telling him?  He doesn't always respond well to me bringing up his ADHD.  He thinks it's my way of blaming him for everything.  So in telling him, I'm really exposing myself and making myself very vulnerable.  And for what?  To fight for *our* marriage.  But it's always me putting in that effort.

Everything you wrote above I

Everything you wrote above I could have written and have experienced.  The "I'm leaving" is their way of dealing with anything that is difficult or involves conflict, they run.  Running can be in the form of shutting down and not talking about anything and not listening to your feelings or sometimes they actually move out of the house.  I couldn't even discuss our son's ADD with my husband (nor did he ask about it) because he thought I was blaming him for our son having ADD when instead I just really needed him to be a parent and be involved in the very difficult situation of raising an ADD child.  Your question, "do I bother telling him?" I hate to say it but probably, no, if he is still untreated because it will just lead to more frustration.  I know this is no way, though, to be in a marriage.  I just feel for you deeply because your feelings of being the only who cares and who is putting in the effort in your marriage is so familiar to me and many others. We hope and we pray that things change but with the ADD brain they just don't unless they are treated.  I don't know if your husband on his own will walk out now or eventually in the future (which is almost easier than you making the decision yourself and telling him to leave) but I do know this, you most likely will go through more hell in the coming months and possibly a year or two, but after you get your emotions stable and life goes on, you will definitely see more clearly what you were putting up with for a long time and what you no longer want in your life.  Stay strong, you sound like a nice person.       

Agree with st.  My

Agree with st.  My undiagnosed ex-boyfriend *did* end the relationship and left.  We were in conflict, and while I wanted to work on things, it did feel like I was the only one fighting for it.   I think he was focused only on the things that were challenging/difficult and so instead of airing those things out, he left altogether.  I am very sad and hurt but also, I can't help but wonder if I dodged a bullet.  As long as he remained undiagnosed, I couldn't stay in the relationship.  I know I would have completely lost myself.  So even though he ended it, I told him that I needed to be seen and heard in a relationship, and as long as nothing changed, I knew I had to leave.  Will he get a diagnosis?  Will he start treatment?  Who knows....but I cannot wait or hope for that.  Sending you a lot of strength & clarity right now.  I can imagine how hard this is for you.

Thanks.  Yeah there is a part

Thanks.  Yeah there is a part of me that is glad this is happening because a friend jokingly said "lets find you a new man!" (jokingly because it's much too early to start looking)  She said, "and this time, we're going to find you one who will pay attention to you and give you a hug when you need it without asking."

Those are simple qualities that I think most men would have when they're in love with you.  I mean, she's not asking for this guy to be a hunk who will wash your car for you every day.  Just pay attention, and be intuitive about simple needs.  My 5 year old cousin is able to do that!

Yet my husband can't.

So the thought of finding someone new who can fulfill some of my most basic needs sounds exciting to me.  I haven't completely written off my husband yet, but I'm starting to see the benefits of him leaving.

I completely agree with your

I completely agree with your friend. It's a sentiment that I have beat upon in this forum multiple times. Too many women come on this forum wanting to know if they should leave their ADHD husbands and many of the regular posters are quick to counsel 'yes'. It's a dangerous thing to do because we don't know all sides of the story. But with that being said, I have counseled a few women to leave on this site, but it's been in cases where there was physical abuse or repeated and flagrant emotional abuse. But a lot of the concerns voiced on this site are things that could be sorted out in counseling. Marriage is work. Daily work and it's overwhelming when you pile on jobs, finances, kids, etc. You have to fight for it or it will be lost. But I know from personal experience that there is hope.

My story is all over this board, but long story short, my ADHD husband has almost done a 180 in the past year. We went from living separately (he refused to move back in with me) to living together fairly harmoniously. Is it a cake walk everyday? Nope. But that's marriage. After talking to many people both on this board and in real life, I think we've all been brainwashed to believe that marriage should be easy. We'll all say that we know it's hard but deep down we're in love and everything's great and how could things possibly go wrong? No wonder we're blindsided when the problems start. Couple that with poor counsel or not having our friends and family support our efforts and we're done.

I come from a strong Christian family and yet I received little to no support to stay with my husband. Even now with our relationship being better than it has been during our entire marriage (nearly five years), if we get into a fight and I confide in my mom, I get, "How long are you going to put up with this?" Even when I say, "I'm in this for the long haul" I still get, "How are you going to feel in 10 years when you have no life?" What I do with my life is wholly interdependent of what goes on with my husband. I'm the independent sort already, he doesn't require me to give up opportunities to do things and see people without him, so why can't I have a life? It's this neo-modern concept of "we're married and must do everything together or we're weird or dysfunctional or [insert appropriate term here]." I can forge a life with or without him, married or not. But I choose to stay married to him because deep down I know that he loves me and I enjoy spending time with him. It's worth working through our issues. I think the one thing we need to learn as spouses to ADHD spouses is to stand on our two feet and don't let others judge us. Our marriages will never be like what society tells us they should be like. But that doesn't mean we can't be happy or find joy in them.

Now to address your issue. You were right to let him go. I think ADHDers like to throw around the divorce card a lot. I used to do it a lot myself until I recently decided to finally quit going there. Then it was like my hubby decided to start going there. Maybe it's karma. Lol. He never follows through and in fact, I diffuse him by saying, 'If that's what you want.' I don't take it personally or get angry, it's just a simple fact. I love him very much and the idea of not being with him is upsetting, but if he truly wants to go, then I'm not going to try to stop him anymore. He apparently doesn't truly want to go because he never acts on his threats (infrequent though they are). I think he just can't deal with his emotions very well and when I don't respond to whatever issue he has in the way that he wants me to, then I'm the one who's callous or not empathetic or not listening. That makes him even angrier and more irrational and then he starts threatening to leave. Yeah, sometimes I get worked up and I don't listen. It takes me some time to back off and process what he is saying. But geez, it's so hard when he's being so irrational. Last night was the first big fight we've had in a while, and he was being downright stupid. He was allowing his fears to get the best of him and threatening all sorts of things. We screamed at each other for awhile, then I held the phone away from my ear while he continued to rant before I told him my phone was dying. Then it was calm again and he was fine. He left me a voicemail and a text saying he was sorry that he had taken his emotional turmoil out on me. I probably could be a better help to him in the times that he is emotional weak, but I'm still learning the balance empathy with enabling. I have a hard time feeling sorry for him when he's allowing outside forces keep him from making a decision that effects the both of us.

I'm going to suggest that you sit down with your hubby and put it to him straight. Tell him that you are committed to your marriage and you want to make it work. If he feels the same, then he's got to quit threatening to leave or in some cases leaving. Give him some time to think about it and tell him that he needs to be similarly committed. Any counselor will tell you both that sort of thing. I would highly suggest that you take this time apart to seek some counseling. It has been the main part of the reason my husband and I are still together and thriving for the most part.

Hang in there.

I'm happy for you and think

I'm happy for you and think it's so great that you guys have gotten to a point where you guys are working together on the issues.  One difference between your husband and mine is mine doesn't apologize afterwards.  His apologies, if he does give them at all, usually point the problem to be back to me.  For example, he'll say he's sorry that he ran away, but it was because I was driving him crazy.

I don't think marriage is easy.  I certainly believe in working hard to work things out.  I've said it on another post before, I know we have something very special that not many other people have, which is why I've been always fighting for the marriage.  I work way too hard at this marriage and for him to just walk away from it because all he can focus on is going out to have fun and not deal with any of the responsibilities and work in maintaining a home, then forget it.  I deserve more than this.

No marriage is perfect.  I get it.  Marriage takes work.  I get that too.  Unfortunately he doesn't!

Can I ask you guys a

Can I ask you guys a question?  I too don't believe relationships/partnerships/marriages are easy... but is it supposed to be this hard?  like pulling teeth from an alligator sometimes.  Granted, not all the time - but the inconsistency is maddening.  I gave the ex a list a couple of months back of what I needed in this relationship:

1. get tested & start treatment if that's recommended

2. exercise 1-2x each week

3. engage with me, either by words, touch or look

4. date night every week

5. say or do 1 nice thing to me every day

Was that too much?  He said he wanted to do these things, wanted to not be mediocre.  But in the end, he couldn't do it.  When he broke up, he mentioned this list and said "there weren't any consequences"  What??  I thought he wanted to work on this b/c he said he wanted to work on this.

Am I/Was I nuts to ask for these things considering he's undiagnosed?

I don't know how much to attribute to undiagnosed ADHD and outright Grade A asshole behavior.


I'm sorry bksts, but I did

I'm sorry bksts, but I did chuckle at your list and your story, because it's so true.  My husband had a list of "to do" tasks that he needed to do, such as sort out his finances, look for a job, exercise, etc.  He told me to hold him accountable.  He said, check up on him and make sure he does those things because left on his own, he knows he won't do it.  And you can probably guess what happens next.  He starts complaining that I nag and starts resenting me.  And then like yours, mine said there were no consequences to not sorting out his finances or not looking for a job because eventually the bills get paid.

So he asked his friends and family to hold him accountable.  That didn't work either because who wants to have to deal with that crap?

So in the end, nothing got done except now he resents me too.  But I will say this, there DOES need to be consequences to him not following the list.  I see ADHD people need that.  They procrastinate and put off work until they get in trouble.  Like at work, if his boss tells him to do something and gives him a week, he won't do it until the boss is ready to yell at him.  That's his motivation.  Their motivation isn't to make things better, but to stay out of trouble.  That's how their brains work, I think.  I think some ADHD people do figure out that they need to do things, despite the fact they don't want to.  No one actually wants to work!  No one wants to do the unpleasant stuff, but we do it because we know if we don't do it now, things will pile up and it will be even more painful later on.

Your list, which is a list of things you want, I don't think is unreasonable. If any item that sounds remotely like it might be unreasonable is #5, though I personally don't think it's unreasonable, some people may interpret that "nice thing" to be a big thing that they have to do every day when you and I probably know a nice thing could be something as simple as picking up dinner, or calling me in the middle of the day to ask how I'm doing, or unloading the dishwasher.  

And lastly to answer your first question... Is it supposed to be this hard?  I don't know.  I'd like to imagine every marriage has their own issues that cause one spouse to ask the same question, whether it's infidelity, fighting with the in-laws, drinking, addiction, etc.  So maybe it is supposed to be this hard... I don't know.  I do know to not hold out for fairy tale marriages though.

oh some ways, i

oh some ways, i feel good that i am not crazy to ask for those things.  but on the other hand, i do feel somewhat like an idiot.  not b/c i feel what i need/want is unreasonable - but that it may have been too unclear or unspecific for him.  i guess it doesn't matter anyway.  he left the relationship saying he's mediocre and doesn't think we're a good fit.  i didn't want fairy tale, but i did want a partner.  work together with me to weather life's storms.  it seemed he was usually out for himself first.

thank you nonadhdme.  i think, today, i feel low.  that this relationship is over, that ADHD remained undiagnosed but caused destruction and ruin, that i lost myself in the process, that i made mistakes.  my head knows i did the best i could have heart/soul haven't caught up yet.

"I didn't want a fairy tale,

"I didn't want a fairy tale, I did want a partner."  That's it exactly for me.  I know that marriage is hard.  I know that life is hard.  I struggled with personal and family emotional problems in my teenage years.  I refused to give up.  I knew that my life would never be a rose garden, that no one's life is perfect.  But I also know that this is my one life, and that I have as much a right to try to find some happiness as does anyone, and that it ain't gonna happen with my husband.  

I'm the same way, there are

I'm the same way, there are good days and bad days... good hours and bad hours, even.  Deep down, you and I both are probably going to be better off, and it's probably better off for our husbands too because in the days following them leaving, they might realize what they've done, what they've given up, learn from the experience, and finally grow up.  My friends all agree, life would be so much better if I didn't have this burden to carry with me.

There's a definite difference

There's a definite difference between those ADHDers who want to try and fix things and those who don't. I think I decided a while ago that if my husband didn't try, I would have probably left. But he tried. He failed a lot but there was intention there. He's "winning" a lot more these days but he still has his moments. The employment issue is a big one. He hates his job, it barely provides enough to cover his expenses, much less our household ones. And yet, trying to get him to fill out applications is like pulling teeth. He lacks the focus, sure, but really? You HATE your job and you can't focus long enough to get out of there?!? Wow. That's where I totally do not understand ADHDers. Of course, I was talking to one of my friends who's husband doesn't have ADHD and complains about his job all the time, but doesn't ever do anything about it. So maybe it's equal parts fear of change and the inattentiveness of ADHD.

To the OP... If you want to save your marriage, then there needs to be some equality. You need to know if he wants to save it as much as you do. If he does, you need to get counseling. If he doesn't want to go or doesn't have the right attitude, then he's lying about wanting to save your marriage. I'd let him go off and do his own thing, and you do yours. Unless you're eager to jump into another relationship and/or have no more feelings left for him, why not try a trial separation. I think it would both give you space to work out your personal and "togetherness" issues. He may need a kick in the pants to see that he doesn't want to lose you...or a kick in the pants for him to finally let you go. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you.

Good luck.

Thanks!  Yeah the employment

Thanks!  Yeah the employment issue is weird because he continually complains and complains about his current job.  But I think I've seen him send 2 resumes on the first day of his job search, and that was it.  Then it's all complaining and complaining about how he's not getting any job offers.  Duh.

You're dead on about the equality part.  I'm always the one chasing after him.  I'm the one that has to convince him to stay and try to make him see clearly.  And once he sees clearly, he realizes he's made a mistake.  But I have to sort through the ADHD cloud first, and that's a lot of work.  And then once he's back, it's just a matter of time for him to want to leave again, so I think I'm going to just have to let him go and let him really experience what life is like without me.  Meanwhile I'm going to start moving on with my life!

Lack of employment and

Lack of employment and underemployment and not looking for jobs are big problems in my marriage.  My husband has had two major jobs in his adult life; he was fired from both of them.  He spent five years unemployed after the first firing; has been underemployed since the second firing.  One of his current jobs is working for his dad and although it's "work" in some sense, it's not a job that he actually had to apply or compete for and it's emotionally and physically draining (he provides personal care and companionship to his dad and mom, both of whom are disabled by illness).  He has not applied for any jobs since he was fired almost four years ago.  I'm the main breadwinner now; I don't mind that, but I do mind my husband's lack of ambition and premature march to the graveyard.

My husband said to me a

My husband said to me a couple of years ago that I'm upset because he's not looking for a better paying job is an indication that I only love him if he makes money, which is obviously not true.  I told him, it's about motivation.  I don't care if you don't make a lot of money, as long as you are working to better yourself, and working to improve.  If you're stuck in a rut and you're happy in your rut, then no, that doesn't work.  But he doesn't get it.  You gotta try.  If you fail, that's ok.  But you have to keep trying!