When do I stop believing things will change?

I truly have come to the end of my rope.

I have tried for seven years to get my husband to seek help for his ADD.  Despite a psychiatrit's diagnosis, he believes he is "managing " just fine.  I have tried the soft sell.  I have tried the hard sell.  I have tried the ultimatum.  I was diagnosed with ADD 5 years ago and have done pretty well on medication along with therapy.  My husband says, "Just because you have ADD, doesn't mean that I do."

Except, he does!  He procrastinates, fidgets, zones out, forgets things, can't wait in line, has become addicted to pornography, takes risky short cuts, has has lost a job, never acknowledges milestones, lacks empathy and perception and compassion.  We live from crisis to crisis. If he didn't have a secretary, he would never be employed.) He does not see his part in these crises or rationalizes or justifies his behavior.  

He does not believe his addiction is linked to untreated ADD.  He tried a 12 step program but has decided that is not for him and has his "demons" under control. This is very scary to me.   

I'm sitting here in tears now because he has once again promised me that NOW he will focus on our marriage - the issues at the office have been cleared up.  He has his addiction "under control." He wants us to have intimacy and promises to work on empathy.  

I read an earlier post by Melissa that stated, "if nothing changes, nothing changes" and it reminded me of the definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results!

I feel like I live on a roller coaster.  Someone correct me if I am wrong.... you can't just try harder and then be empathetic!  In addition, we can't have intimacy if there is no empathy or compassion.

My husband gets angry at me because I react when he forgets something important to me.  He says, "shame isn't healthy for me" and uses it as an excuse to move to the couch.  He then says my anger is holding us back from intimacy.  But let's go back to the beginning..... as my spouse, he is responsible for remembering an anniversary date (just a small example).  My angry or frustrated response is natural.  His neglect or irresponsibility is holding us back from intimacy.

I'm so confused.  He has me believing that my hurtful reactions to his lack of accountability or irresponsibility have caused the deterioration of our marriage.  He does not see how negatively his ADD is affecting us.  In the first place, he neglects or forgets something, but then later his defensiveness causes a "double-whammy."

I am so tired.  I am so demoralized.  I am feeling very trapped.  Another question I have is what is the connection between an over-inflated ego or lack of humility and ADD?   His unwillingness to even explore if his ADD is causing major problems for our marriage seems so arrogant.  It is as if he is above reproach.  

Finally, my husband just is unwilling to understand how his ADD and struggle with addiction have really made me feel so unsafe - so insecure in our life together.  I worry what shoe is going to drop next?  I do this from experience! In another post by Melissa I was reading about basic needs and it was very insightful because when a person's basic needs go unmet, it is impossible to live without tension and anxiety.

I recognize his behavior is our of my control.  I can only change myself.  But how can one come to accept this way of life?  

I have given up a career to stay at home with our sons. I can't just jump into the workforce and make what my husband is making to support myself.  However, staying here is killing me.  It really is.  I'm so frustrated.  He claims I have drawn a line in the sand with threats of divorce, but really, he is the one that has drawn the line in the sand because he is not willing to explore his part in all this.

Any words of wisdom?

Why Doesn't the ADD Spouse Agonize About Happiness or Unity?

I have read many many posts on this site. It is painfully common for non ADHD spouses to agonize over whether they should continue being miserable or leave their spouse. But I have yet to read a post from an ADHD spouse who is seriously thinking about leaving their partner because the partner just doesn't understand how awful it is to have ADHD or ADD. Even when the non ADD partner is judgemental or makes the ADD person feel like a child somehow the ADD person keeps coming back for more. Getting yelled at for always being late is undoubtedly no fun. Trying to explain about yet another traffic ticket, unpaid bill, overdue library book, pile of trash in the living room next to the burning aromatic candle or childish temper tantrum to someone who is no longer sypathetic must be very difficult, yet somehow the ADD spouses always seem to stay in the relationship. Why is this so? If the non ADD spouse is so completely unable to understand the agony of living with ADD, then why not leave that spouse?

Because the ADD spouse has a

Because the ADD spouse has a maid, cook, accountant, chauffer, nanny, etc. all rolled into one. So you have to get yelled at for a little bit...its all worth it.

ADD spouse...

I respectfully disagree.  No woman or man should be a servant to a tyrant.  It only serves to enable them further insteading of making them accountable.

I agree that none of us

I agree that none of us should be a servant to a tyrant as you put it, however, things just seem to naturally fall that way while we are trying to keep the peace, to keep our families safe, fed, cared for.  I for one never intended to live this way.  I pick my battles and one battle I intend to win is having a family that is clean, well fed, healthy etc and that's why I do all those things.  And  they would NOT get done if I didn't do them.  I know this for a fact...while recovering from surgery once no one ate a meal for two whole days, there was no laundry done, no cleaning/tidying up, no after school activities were attended, no homework was done etc....all until I found out on the second day.  Then I stopped my painkillers, stopped my bed rest and continued to do what my family needed.  Should there be a next time, I am hiring someone to come in.  Where was my hubby?  Playing cards with his friends!  Going to his hobby store!  Laying on the couch eating cookies and chips for breakfast lunch and dinner just like my kids were!!!!     While the kids were at school I actually passed out from over extending myself ...no one was there for that either.   Hubby wasn't interested in my story other than to say "well you should have stayed in bed!"


Thank you very much! I think

Thank you very much! I think you are the only person in the world who understands me!!! -- You also made me chuckle at my situation for the first time in a very long time...


I think it's just life situations that compel us to stay - "I'll leave when my kids are older, when I have more money, when I get a job" etc...  I am staying for these reasons.  A part of me loves him...but, I know that I can't live like this forever.  It's a rollercoaster especially if the ADD spouse refuses to do anything about it. They become the obstacle . The key is to move AROUND it instead of having it block your way. Sometimes you just need to deal with it and create a bubble around you where the impact of his bad decisions etc. is minimalized on you and others.  Less is more.  Not having your name on the car title, preparing financially for you, becoming active in something you enjoy etc. is important in finding balance for you. Creating new avenues to deal with your situation does two things, it empowers you and prepares you.

Agonizing...by ginettec

I feel the same way.  I look back at the years (married 27 years) and have lived like this for a long time.  It is sort of like living in an maze, you go one way until you run into a road block and then you turn and go another way.  Helped me keep my balance and peace.  Unfortunately, in my case, my husband was not diagnosed with ADHD until about 2 years ago, so up until then, I just thought I was dealing with a total creep.  A part of me loved him...but a part of me didn't like him.  At least now we know why he is the way he is.   

blind sided again

Hi Everyone, I saw that someone had read my last comment, and was thankful that this blog exists. Throughout the 14 years of our marriage, my husband has either out right lied or has been deceptive. We both belong to a program that suggests 'rigorous honesty' as part of its principles. I thought that would part of our marriage as well. Not so. Things have been smoother at home, my husband sees a therapist once a week. No major complaints. Even made love after almost a year (my husband always says he's interested, but no movement forward. Big problem in our marriage). Anyway, we have also overcome some financial problems - my husband opened a savings account that receives $200 every two weeks direct deposit from his paycheck. Saved us from his forgetting about his ATM withdrawals. I take care of the bills. This Friday, we were moving ahead with refinancing our home which would save us $400 per month. The mortgage lender called back informing me that my credit was top of the line, while my husband's credit was showing late payments on two accounts opened at our bank. I knew none of this. He is $5,000 in debt and is either late with the payments or pays the minimum. The mortgage lender stated that there would be no reason for us to refinance at this time because we could not get a rate that would benefit us. In addition, we were receiving a similar amount from a tax rebate which was going to pay for a vacation in Mexico. I could barely breathe over the deception, the money owed, the mistrust, the hate that I felt for him. His reasoning was that he thought he could pay it off in time, that sometimes he got 'caught short' with money (hates the idea of being on a budget). He apologized for the lie (the accounts have existed for 8 years!!!) and then denied that he has lied often in the past. I almost had a stroke. I canceled the vacation so that the money could be refunded to the credit card. And the tax refund will pay off the oustanding debt so that he can close the accounts, and in 6 months we can investigate refinancing again. He doesn't understand why I cancelled the vacation, he understands nothing about integrity. My problem is that my husband does what my husband does, he has no impulse control, he lies to cover his tracks - either lies of omission or comission. I, on the other hand, stay. And that is the real problem. What is my problem, time and again. I have comments on this site that address why we stay, and I could identify with most. Yet, I am slowly losing respect for myself - we teach people how to treat us, and yet I do not follow my own advice. I am learning to understand how people stay in a state of denial because it is easier. Women who turn their heads on a cheating husband, alcoholism, gambling. They are accustomed to having a washer and dryer in their house, there is comfortability in the familiar, the task of leaving is overwhelming physically, financially and emotionally. And the failure of this marriage would be an embarrassment to me having been married before. I can barely look at him, I wish I could disappear. I read Dr. Hallowell's comments on 'forgiveness', and 'being empathic' was something I tried when talking to my husband this morning. I listened for awhile, then he went back into his denial about his lying behavior and stopped being empathic. I requested that we, as a couple, meet with his therapist, for some clues or feedback on how I should handle this without making rash moves. My husband is resistant to that idea.

re: blindsided again

Until your husband reaches the point where he sees how absolutely sickening his actions and behaviours are, you can not truly expect change. His denial is evidence of that. He may not lie about bank accounts or whatever particular issue again, but the cesspool from which those kinds of things germinate, is still there and there will likely be something else to take its place. He is going to have to reach a point...hopefully not an irrevocably tragic one...where he will force himself to confront what and who is is. It will hurt. I've been there ( in your husbands shoes) and I know. ============================================= Welcome to the desert of the Real - Morpheus

I relate to so much of what

I relate to so much of what you have written.  I have had the EXACT same experiences with money and the lying by omission -- which he doesn't believe exists.  We are about to hit our 5-year aniversary and I'm amazed we -- or I -- have made it this long.  I spend the majority of my free time thinking about just how much longer I can make it in this marriage.  I haven't been happy for the last 4.5 years.  Unfortunately, we got pregnant while dating.  I thought he was the most wonderful man alive and was completely confident I had finally made the right choice in spouse after a childhood of watching a very dysfunctional, abusive relationship at home.  Then, it all began to unravel when real life issues such as bills, money, responsibilities for his family, running a business, raising children exacerbated his ADHD.  He's taking meds now, but has taken himself off in the past becuase he had a heart attack (which he did not because I took him to a cardiologist), or they made him feel sick, etc. 

I find myself incredibly lonely and isolated in this marriage.  We don't talk anymore.  The is no intimacy, no connection, no love.  We stay together ostensibly for our two small children.  I'm angry at myself for making such a poor decision and getting myself into this mess.  My husband refuses to see a counselor and makes up every excuse under the sun not to.  I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to fix things in our relationship -- along with doing everything else at home, work, for our children, etc.  I'm very tired, lonely, and sad.  I know what I want to do, however, I am too afraid to leave.  I'm too afraid for many reasons, but primarily because of the children.  

I feel jipped!

After reading the comments from you and Blind sided, I too found out about my husband's past debts on my own! I was so pissed. I found out about two! One was credit card debt which he decided to ignore even after being served papers to pay them! And another was medical bills! And your right , how can they live with themselves having these debts out there? Do they really forget about them or just deny them because they can't deal with the bills? And then when confronted by them they just get into defense mode. Making up whatever!? My GOd! Let's take some responsibility for your actions! My husband was diagnosed a year ago and is on Straterra but i am requesting now that he go to a stimulant because in my mind, he needs something stronger. But basically we are on our third therapist and third doctor! UGH! Its so much work i just wonder each and every day if it is worth it. He's such a sweet guy but so unaccountable. I just feel like i can't count on him for much and its just a complete disappointment and I feel jipped! And i feel like you when you say you get mad at yourself for not choosing someone better. I've been there. I've had bad relationships and i thought i finally found a guy to treat me right and emotionally he usually does but when it comes to dealing with every day responsibilites he drops the ball. I am really mad at myself. Why couldn't i see that stuff earlier and saved myself a lot of heartache! So I empathize with you. I'm going to wait another year to see what new meds and this last therapist can do and if nothing changes, then nothign changes and i move on. Luckily we don't have any kids. And i don't plan to because i already have one at home. Oh and he's also looking for work. He lost four jobs in the last year and a half and we've been married a little over a year. So i do feel like i'm taking care of a child both financially and with just day to day things. SO i guess those past bills of his will just have to wait a little longer....why do we put up with this? It robs us of our energy, our sane-ness and our time. We feel lonely and feel like our old identities have been robbed from us. When you get married you expect a partner who acts like an adult and can achieve adult repsonsibilites. I feel jipped. Very frustrating.....

ADHD spouse angry that I'm on this site

Uggggg....Last night my husband found out that I was reading and writing to this site. He was soooo angry and immediately became very defensive. He began to pick apart every line of my first and only post and cross examine me on the absolute truth and validity of each statement. He was very insulted, angry, indignant and insulted that I would think or write such things. He is not an angry, aggressive or abusive man. He's in fact the exact opposite. However, last night's fight, which started at 11:45 as I was getting out of bed to get medicine for our sick child could have gone on for hours. I told him that what I wrote was true because it was how I felt. He indicated that our marital problems were due to his diagnosis of me with Narcissistic Personality Disorder! (I've never been diagnosed with that and I've been in counseling for the last year, and on and off for years before that....) Anyways, it was the beginning of a blame game. I did not want, or could not participate because our baby was crying for me in the next room. What it did do was enable all of my self doubt, self loathing, and confusion about what really is going on in this relationship creep in. I'm a smart, educated woman. I've put myself through college and post graduate school, graduating at the tops of my classes. I can manage my life pretty successfully. However, when it comes to this predicament in my life, I don't know which way is up, or what is right and wrong. I get turned around and around and usually end up pointing the finger at myself. "If only I were a better person....If only I weren't so bitchy....If only I weren't so demanding..." I know it is not all due to his ADHD, anxiety disorder or depression, but what is the source of our problems and how the heck do I fix it????? I'm just so exhausted.


First and foremost....Do not blame yourself.  This has nothing to do with YOU.  It has to do with HIM.  You are a smart, caring woman and are just looking for help.  Please do not let him turn this around on you - something that ADD do very well - blame others.  Take care of yourself and your little one and if you have to find a support group or therapist that will help you cope do it for your own sanity. It is not yours to fix.  He has to want to fix it too.  I know your frusteration, sadness and pain.  Do what you need to do for you.

Angry on Site

Do you restrict or comment on your husband's internet actions?  In this case, his anger is his problem.  You have every right to seek comfort from others who share your predicament.

Thanks. I know. I have

Thanks. I know. I have every right to read and write what I want. I know this, but it is an issue and I now secretly read and write to this site. I'm really struggling with my husband right now. I don't know what is right and wrong anymore. I especially don't know how to talk to my husband about his adhd. We've grown so apart and it is such a sore subject that now it is tabu. I've tried everything from anger, rage, threats of divorce, to nice, understanding, loving and supportive. We don't get anywhere...

Not Getting Anywhere

You are in such a tough predicament and my heart goes out to you.  I guess it's time to stand back a bit and take stock.  Take a look at my post on boundaries (in the Melissa' favorites) area for the two of you are definitely in a stage of blurred boundaries.

Unfortunately, it's easy for me to say that you need to start drawing lines to protect your rights but it's really hard to do sometimes, and that seems to be the predicament in which you find yourself.

You might benefit from an outside opinion - i.e. working with a good counselor, preferably one who gets ADD.  That person can help you start to sort out what's "right and wrong" for you (which is the important part here) and what your next steps might be.

My heart goes out to you.  I

My heart goes out to you.  I am living in the same crazy world as you are.  I find that after 18 years of lies, and covering things up, and omissions, i don't trust a word that comes out of his mouth anymore.  How do you sustain a relationship with someone if you don't have faith in anything they say?  Can you have a marriage without this basic trust?

Lying sucked the happy energy out of our family


This seems like what's going on in my house, too. My husband and I both have AD/HD, as do our two kids. For most of those years, we've been (more or less, with a big dose of humor) a happy and successful AD/HD family. Somehow my husband and I used to truly share chores. And he's a great Dad - or he used to be. But even the kids are at the point where they're really hurt because it seems like his AD/HD has gone into overdrive and they often feel forgotten.

A few years ago, my husband was feeling stressed at work and so for some reason, he started smoking. He snuck around for YEARS smoking. It might not sound like much - it's not an affair, he didn't gamble our life savings. But there was lots of lying, lots of weird gaps in time, lots of strange looks and tense conversations that didn't make sense. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure it out. It hurt me incredibly because it seemed like "all of a sudden" he didn't love me any more. I often asked what had happened, but he just shut down more.

Last summer someone caught him and told me. When I gently confronted him, he was astonished because I didn't really care about the smoking (one one level - it's his body to choose to hurt, after all), but I was torn apart by the lying. But I was also really relieved. I thought things would get better because the lying was over. Not really - actually, it seems like his AD/HD symptoms have gotten worse. Ironically, he had just started to quit when I found out. Supposedly, he hasn't gone back to it, and I do wonder if that has affected his symptoms. Nicotine stimulates dopamine, right? But I also don't know if he's telling the truth this time.

I used to think that he was the type of man that might be messy, might be late, but would never lie or deceive those close to him. Sometimes I feel like I don't know who he is any more. Of course there were broken commitments before. But before, even though sometimes we got mad, it always blew over. We laughed a lot. Now, it's a mess and I feel like we're not happy or having fun with one another any more. It's hard not to be furious about how he "ruined" all of our mutual hard work.

I read this blog sometimes when I'm feeling especially frustrated. Melissa's suggestions can sometimes get me a little cranky because I feel like I'm "supposed" to play the role of the non-AD/HD spouse in this relationship because I'm not the one who fell apart. But I have AD/HD, too! And so do the kids! Following my self care routines to manage my AD/HD symptoms and helping the children to learn to manage their symptoms - plus regular Mom stuff, house stuff, and work stuff - well, it's enough!!! I was very supportive for months after his deceit came to light, but my energy wore out a few months back. He says he wants to, but he can never seem to manage to take the first step. I've pre-screened therapists and coaches for him, but he still doesn't follow through. I'm starting to wonder if I'm stuck between a choice of continuing to live in chaotic hell, giving up (divorce), or dragging him to therapy. But I feel pretty strongly that people who get dragged to therapy might not really want to be there, and I worry that if I give up and drag him, it won't help.

I'm really, really tired of having to have it together when he "gets to" fall apart!! I have a pathetic fantasy of how lovely and calm it would be if I could just check myself into the psych ward. I don't belong there at all - no risk to myself, etc - it's about the fantasy of escape! We worked hard to build a life that worked, it got ripped apart, and at the very minimum, I'd like him to work at least alongside me to put it back together. But the only good times we have now are times when I do best at keeping calm and not getting cranky. For that I strongly suggest Harriet Lerner's book - The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate.

Good luck to everyone trying to trust!

I feel your pain. I often

I feel your pain. I often think the same things you talk about.  Sometimes, I wonder if maybe it's not him, maybe it's me, I mean he hasn't had an affair ( to my knowledge), he doesn't beat me, or verbally abuse me, he doesn't gamble (although some might argue that the way he deals with money is definitely gambling), he doesn't look at porn (again, to my knowledge), so it must be my problem, right, because he's a great guy?  It took me a very long time to stop myself from thinking this way and say to myself, "no, it's not me (not that I don't have my own issues to work out).  It's not Ok for your husband to lie to you, even if the topic seems trivial...and especially after you've spoken to your husband about how important it is for you that he be upfront about things with you.  Once you put that out there and your spouse chooses not to care anyway, he is making a statement, "Your needs are not important to me." (Or, maybe I'm wrong and my needs are important but his ADD prevents him from doing anything about it!)  Lying about smoking for years is not trivial!  In my case, my husband took $10,000 out of our home equity account (to pay off debts, not gamble), but we had agreed we would not touch the remaining $10,000.  I only found out by happenstance six months later.  He never intended to tell me, and hoped (stupidly) I wouldn't find out.  I went ballistic and I guess I made an impression on him...but guess what?  I found out that he went and did it again!!!!!  It was only $350 this time and he put the money back the next day.  It has been at least 7 years since the last time he did this, but OMG, why is it that ADDers can't ever learn something and have it stick permanently??????  Ommissions and lying are not ok.  They go to the core of trust in a relationship.  I think it's important enough for you to tell your husband how it made you feel when he lied to you for all of those years.  It hurts. It devalues you and your relationship, and he needs to know he can't do that again.  He needs to know that no matter what, he must always be honest with you.

I understand what you mean about Melissa's advice.  She gives great advice and I know that she's right, but sometimes, it is just so hard to hear that the only way to fix things is for me to let something else go that bothers me.  Gee, by the time I'm done, I'll be slicker than a rain coat, 'cuz everything will just roll right off of me and not bother me.  But I don't think that that's really a good thing because then you get to a point where you just always feel, "What the heck, it doesn't matter.  Nothing matters."  and then you lose your ability to hope and then you stop caring altogether.  I don't think it's ok to let things go so that he gets to be irresponsible and you have to be the adult in the relationship.  That doesn't seem healthy to me in the long run. 

Oh, yeah

The home equity thing--- hit a nerve, yes, indeedy. We took one out a few years ago to cover some of his debts. Within 6 months, he had the debts built right back up and I'm paying the home equity bills. I feel like I'm sitting on a pile of sludge, I swear. I'm tired. He tells me I look worn out, and it's true, I am. But when he says it---even though he knows it's because of him--- it becomes a character flaw. I take on too much. I don't say no. I let things bother me to much, etc., etc., meaning I'm not like him. Oh, and I've "let myself go." I've "aged." I've always said there are two sets of rules in our house, one set for me and the other for him. Nothing I do is right, even the things I have no control over like getting older. (I'm in my forties, a couple of years older than he is.)

This weekend--- something happened which involved an acquaintance of his insulting me. My husband? Did he run to comfort me? Did he give me a hug and say, "Sorry, the guy's a jerk?" No. He told me it was my fault because 1) I let the guy talk to me like that and then 2) I took it too seriously, that's my "problem." While my husband stood there and listened as the guy did it and did nothing. My teenage son offered comfort where my husband didn't, and that's just not right.

I'm not supposed to let anything bother me. If I do, it's because I need "help," I have "issues." I'm supposed to let him do whatever he wants and ask no questions, even if it compromises our home life. He was "out" on Friday, having volunteered earlier in the day to pick up our kids from school. My son called me repeatedly from the front of the school--- where's Dad?  Dad's phone is off. Dad has suddenly put a password on his phone, and when he calls, it displays "private number."  I had to leave work three hours early to get my kids because my husband was "out." But I wasn't allowed to ask where or be upset about it, because it's his life and I need to tend to my own business. I should have let my boys find their own way home. (One is a teenager and had a ton of music equipment to bring home, and the other is in elementary school. I was supposed to let them figure out how to get home on their own when nobody showed up to get them? And because I didn't, I was being "controlling.")

Doing anything with him is torture these days--- you never know which man you're going to get, the loving father and husband, or the guy who thinks you and his kids are stupid and annoying and says so. My kids are confused and sad, and frightened. Their father is obnoxious to them, and I'm supposed to support whatever he says as the other parent in the team.

They say the person who cares the least in the relationship is the one in charge. I think we're in a tie here.... I'm starting to be too tired of him to care.

Man, i'm sorry to hear it. I

Man, i'm sorry to hear it. I don't know why it is that some guys just let themselves get so out-of-whack internally that they become like this.

As its been said before, it will probably take some sort of crisis moment - or something of that ilk - something that is harrowing enough to cause the 'life-flashing-before-my-eyes' effect; ala Charles Dickens maybe, before your husband reaches his epiphany. I catch myself becoming like that, taking things for granted, being petty and my 'twilight-moment' always pull me back and I realise how much my family means to me and how so very lucky I am to have them.

We all have moments where we are less than sterling, but its something else altogether to live like that which you described, on a day-to-day basis, week after week, year after year, oblivious to those around us, particularly those whom should mean the most to us.

Maybe your husband will reach a point where he can see that as well. Let hope for that.



Even Agent Smith Gets the Blues

                          - Eugene Donohoe, Dublin City