When do you get out of a marriage to an ADDspouse

We are in our 8th year of marriage, with 2 children under 6. My husband was officially diagnosed with ADD when our son was 2, his is co-depression. He has had at least 18 jobs,  one third ending in two weeks, the longest job he held was 9 months.  Most of the time we are not insured such as now. I haven't had a regular checkup in about 3 to 4 years.  I have the children insured through the state which is now being terminated since my ADD husband forgot to put the envelope they requested in the mail. One of deals, was he is to fix part of the mess he makes. All he had to do was put it in the mail. Both children need speech therapy, but money allocated for medical has always gone for his doctors, Yes four years of therapy, coaches, lists and medicines have not improved his lack of organization and time management. Two of the biggest reasons he loses jobs.  He is also quite arrogant, this has cost us bundles because he believes he is smarter than all others.  The sad thing is he has a masters degree and is professionally certified and he has been sober for 15 years.  He has no recall or common sense and sometimes it is not ADD, he is just lazy.  I work part time at my children's preschool and have received aid to pay for their school. We have little debt because I manage the bills and although we live in a old townhome, we will not lose the house. I have given him until June to write a plan and put it in action, using all the advise he has previously ignored. He has to secure a job any job. I am sure I am depressed but really do not have the time or money to pay for me to go to anyone.  My children watch more TV than I want them too because I spend the afternoons cleaning the house and fixing the messes he makes.  When does marriage with an ADD spouse become more hurtful than helpful?  When is the best time and way to separate from the chaos and unstable enviroment?  When is a marriage to an ADD spouse bad for the children? Does anyone have any advise or examples of what I would face after the divorce?

I feel I am in the similiar

I feel I am in the similiar situation only it is my wife that is the ADD spouse. She has the most sincere heart but I am increasingly angry, exhausted from all of the responsibilities, carrying the entire financial burden due to her inability to hold a job, using most of our income for her needs, following up on just everthing out of necessity otherwise it becomes a crisis. I feel I don't have a spouse, instead another child that sometimes doesn't even acknowledge her own limitations or appreciates what I do. This has damaged my career and my ability to try something different, lowered my own self esteem, and hurt me financially.

I am truly sorry

Unfortunely, our situation has esculated, his resume is in such bad shape the only job he could get was with a bad business man and now he has worked for free the last three weeks. Of course, he has also lost his unemployment benefits. I have now fallen into a deep depression, a realizing of lost dreams and hopes for my children and life. I am trying to make the last break and head for separation.  I read about successful ADDers and their non-ADD spouses problems and I wish that was all I had to deal with. What really happens when a person is not successful with ADD despite all the help given to them.  I am not sure how I am suppose to be okay with this.  I am at a point of making him pay for his own help and me using the money I make for the children and myself.  I don't know, wish someone did. I imagine you have tried everything, I wonder if they could get disability to cover their medical needs?

Your situation sounds far,

Your situation sounds far, far worse but I have contemplated separating several times. We are trying to work through it and I am putting my faith in God. I believe most of my anger stems from feeling like I was deceived and the extent of this condition was hidden by herself and her family and I really have no one to support me and sometimes I just want to walk away. I always have to be the rock. I believe marriage is a life long committment, we take the good and the bad, however, when your physical being and emotional state is at high risk and more importantly your children's future and health are put in danger because of your partners condition I would have no qualms of leaving the relationship.

When to Get Out of a Marriage

I think there is no specific set time or incidence that can be held as a "rule" for when you should leave a marriage - each couple has to figure this out for themselves.  Your case sounds very dire, and your gut instinct is telling you that it's time.  Unlike many people who are at this site, you husband has tried to treat his ADD for a number of years and had little success.  This doesn't bode well for his ability to change things in the future, unless he discovers he's been misdiagnosed or suddenly sees things differently.  In addition, his job record is really a problem particularly given his level of education...again, there's not much room for improvement there - he can't improve his skills by getting more education...which means his issues are harder to deal with.

What you will likely face after divorce depends in part upon how you get divorced.  Statistically, you are more likely to have a "friendly" relationship with your (then) ex-spouse after divorce if you use a mediator, rather than divorce lawyers, so this is a route that I might suggest for you.  Likely you'll feel more stable because you won't have the unknowns of your husband's erratic behavior and job history hanging over you, but will for some amount of time have less money (you will most likely have to split your assets, including what you have in your house.  Some women I know who divorce and keep the house end up being "house rich" and "cash poor" as they buy out their spouse's interest in the house.)

You will want to answer some questions, such as "how will you make your living?" and "where will we live?" and "how will I feel if my spouse gets joint custody of the children"?  Joint custody issues after divorce is one of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, to make it as "civil" as possible if you do decide to call it quits (hence my suggestion about a mediator...things tend to break down with lawyers involved).  I don't know your situation as a single person would qualify you for any financial aid that you are not currently getting.

As for the "hurtful" vs. "helpful" question you post.  What do you think?  What does your husband add to your life?  Do you feel that he is a good person?  You are the only one who can answer the helpful/hurtful question.

You sound as if you are a responsible person, so I would guess that your children will survive either a divorce or your staying married.  My personal point of view on this is that the best situation for children is one in which the parent(s) are happy and have the energy to give and love.  I've seen some truly inspirational single parent households, just as I have seen some wonderful dual parent households.  But I've also seen some really miserable dual parent households.  In other words, it's not the configuration that matters so much as the people who matter.  Again, you will always be connected to your current spouse through your kids...so if you do decide to split the best thing you can both do for your kids is decide to a.) not involve them in any way that can hurt them and b.) keep their best interests in mind when making decisions about your split.

This is not an easy time for you, and I (and all of the readers here) wish you luck.


Just curious - you say that he hasn't been able to hold down a job, you haven't had health insurance, you haven't had a regular check-up in years, you don't have time or money for you to go to therapy, and your children spend too much time watching TV because you are cleaning the house (from the messes he makes). Now, I really can't pass judgment on your marriage or on him by any stretch of the imagination. To me it sounds like you are using him as a scapegoat - but I could VERY easily be wrong. What I do know is that it sounds more like you are using divorce as a threat in the hopes of getting him to change. I don't know how much you are actually thinking about what this would mean to you. So, my recommendation? While he is writing his plan and putting it into action (until June), why don't you do the same thing? If you were to get a divorce how would you 1) provide FINANCIAL support for the family (are you working?) 2) pay for HEALTH INSURANCE for you and your children? 3) have TIME to get a health check up, go to therapy, clean the house (from the messes the children make) and spend time with the children. The average statistics suggest that when there is a divorce a man's standard of living increases 10% and a woman's decreases 27%. Are you prepared to take care of YOUR responsibilities? And, if so, is it really that much more difficult with your husband? Have you considered getting a job and in this way contributing to financial stability, health insurance, etc. You will DEFINITELY need one if you get a divorce, and if you can step up to the responsibilities that you would have without him - you might find that you are better able to appreciate the assistance that he does provide you (perhaps he can help with cleaning the house or playing with the children). If, after you have prepared for life with or without him, you still feel that he continues to be more of a burden than a benefit, then maybe at least you will have a better idea about whether or not you really want that divorce or if you are just waiting for a knight in shining armor to come and rescue you from your own responsibilities. If you don't want to even contemplate the latter possibility, but somehow it makes you ill at ease that it is possible - try reading the cinderella complex. It is an older book, but still applicable to a lot of women I think.

You are very clearly not a

You are very clearly not a person married to an ADHDer. Don't dare to assume this woman is not doing everything she can. When you are with someone with ADHD you have to do all you can to even make it to the 8 year mark. We all married our ADHDers for mostly the same reasons. The reason we have to leave because as time goes on and on, we fell beaten, defeated and sometimes insane. The last thing I would ever want is leave my fiance but guess what, the man that he has been this week and when he gets into these phases is not the same man that I agreed to marry. As far as her taking care of her responsibilities she is already doing it. When the ADHD spouse is not contributing, it is the same as if this woman had another 3 year old. The fact that you don't know this and assume she is scapegoating makes me know that you have no clue what it means to be with someone with ADHD and you are deciding you need to speak out in protection of marriage.

To Heather

Red flags all over the place here, Heather.  Your anger is intense, and you are taking it out on the wrong person.  And, are you married yet, or are you engaged?  It was unclear from your post.  If you are engaged (and the same person I was writing to in a different part of the forum) I suggest you consider standing back and taking a look at your relationship and your needs.

The fact of the matter is this - it is NEVER just the ADD spouse's (or fiance's) issue that creates the unhappiness and discontent clearly visible in your post.  YOU ARE ALSO CONTRIBUTING TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS and your anger is evidence of this.  Your disdain for the poster's questioning whether or not someone was looking at their own contribution is misplaced.  In fact, one of the biggest issues I see on this site (and I did the same thing myself, so I'm not passing judgment here) is that non-ADD spouses tend to discount or even ignore their own role in how their relationships play out.

Being married to an ADD man does not need to be a trial - it can be a great joy.  But being married to an ADD man will ALWAYS be DIFFERENT than being married to a non-ADD man.  Expecting an ADDer to be a non-ADD is a recipe for disaster.  I would feel easier if I "heard" through your post that you feel empathy towards your man for his behavior this week (whatever it was) but instead what I hear is strong disapproval and anger.  Not a good sign.

So, you need to ask yourself a few very important questions BEFORE you tie the knot.  Do you love this man for everything that he is, or do you love only parts of him?  Can you work constructively around his ADD traits?  Do you have faith that the two of you have a partnership that is strong enough to work through your trials together, or have you already slipped into a relationship in which you harass him into being a certain way (your comment about the 3 year old is telling - you don't need to be his parent but his partner...and acting as if you are his parent - or seeing yourself that way - will bury your marriage)?  Are you ready to be in a relationship in which the work is not evenly distributed?  Are you ready to be creative, understanding and loving even when he exasperates you?  Are you ready to hold yourself accountable for your own behavior towards him (i.e. were you nice/respectful to him this week when he disappointed you)?

Forget the other poster.  I suggest you work through some of these questions - perhaps talk with a close friend or counselor who can help you explore whether what you are getting yourself into has the wonderful, loving, fabulous qualities to it that every bride should feel.  Yes, relationships are hard, but when they get harder (which they ALWAYS do) you need to have a base of compassion, forgiveness and broad-based love upon which to build - and sometimes even that isn't enough.  Please make sure that yours is strong enough for the journey you are about to take.

If you are not engaged, but already married, I suggest you consider talking with someone to work through some of your anger...or perhaps find something else that can calm you a bit -  meditation, etc.  You sound very stressed, which is understandable, but unhealthy.

And by the way - generally speaking "doing everything you can" isn't the same thing as "doing everything effectively".

To Heather I agree with

To Heather I agree with MelissaOrlov. My darling husband has ADD and we've been married for 11 years, together for 15. Things that a non-ADDer take for granted like remembering to drop off the mail, placing the cheese back in the fridge or simply to have a conversation that is restricted to just 1 topic, is not an automatic task for an ADDer. He tries very, very hard to be organised and focussed that sometimes, I forget that he is an ADDer and when he forgets something, I get upset. However, if I stop and actually watch him for an hour, I can see the effort that he has to put in to achieve those tasks that a non-ADDer would perform in auto mode. Let him do things that make use of his ADD qualities. Daddy is more fun than mummy cos Daddy is more spontaneous and always come up with better games. Find out what he loves (most focussed) to do and try to help him find a job that satisfy that interest. He'll last longer in the job. No, it is not easy. No marriage or relationship is easy. Empathy and compassion is the answer. You must love your ADD spouse for his/her many qualities which also includes his/her ADD attributes. The spontaneity, the passion, the crazy fun. Another thing, support. Join ADD support groups. You'll meet non-ADDer spouses and you'll know that you're not alone and you can exchange tips and offer encouragement. I find that when the going gets tough, I go back and read litreature on ADDers and their challenges. It helps to calm my nerves and work out the issues at hand and be more understanding and appreciate my hubby more.


You said the magic word that makes a difference in an ADD/nonADD relationship (or any relationship for that matter) TRIES, your husband TRIES.... Mine doesn't try at all. Quite the opposite. He spitefully chooses to do the opposite of what is needed in a situation. He has the attitude to match. My husband has not read one book, not one webpage, doesn't even pretend to be interested in any organizational tool(agenda, calendar), doesn't take his meds consistently, and...AND when I see he is having a tough ADD day I ask if he took his meds because he looks like he is having a tough time, he says NO, you take a pill. So, as you see, ADDers need to step up and be responsible. DO their share of the work. I do all the reading, research, doc appointments, individual counseling etc so I can deal and yet there will be no success at all when only one is working for it -Drained........but at least I know I did all I could.


I agree with you 100%. My ADHD husband "tries" just enough to appease me temporarily. He cannot follow through with any treatment plan and doesn't seem to care enough about saving our marriage to keep trying and stick to a treatment plan. I have to have an absolute meltdown for him to take action and as soon as I calm down and the incident is forgotten, he stops therapy, takes himself off his meds and reverts back to his old ADHD ways. I'm so tired of this... I refuse to spend the rest of my life on this roller-coaster. I respect the institution of marriage, but I also deserve to be happy. I also don't think it is fair to make my kids ride the roller-coaster either.

I agree

I agree with the above posters. No...you do not want treat your pwADHD like a child...but they almost force you to. I agree that they should get some credit for trying but it truly is like having another child when they are not making the effort to help themselves. I have the same issue with my pwADHD....he tries just enough to appease me and then he is right back to the same frustrating habits. As all of you know here....it is truly exhausting dealing with a pwADHD because not only are you having to pull your weight and handle your own responsibilities you are also having to work over time to remember FOR them, find things they are always losing FOR them, making lists FOR them, managing their impulsivity FOR them so it does not sink the whole family, try and keep them organized...and I can go on and on and on. You may not take kindly to saying that they are like children but if it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, quacks like a duck...dog gone it.....it is a DUCK!!!! Dealing with the pwADHD treated or untreated is like living 2 lives at the same time. You are trying to manage and deal with your own life while trying to keep the pwADHD from sinking the ship with you, and in many cases, your children on it. I do have empathy for their plight...it can not be an easy life to live. But in all the reading I have read on ADHD....it states that having ADHD is NOT an excuse for irresponsiblity and in my case...that is exactly what it has become. And the crazy part about it is, while you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to keep the ship from sinking, they are so distracted in their own little world that they really do not have the faintest clue, or acknowledgement for what you are doing. So you are basically busting your butt and to add insult to injury.....getting ingnored right along with it. So that appreciation from them that might soften the anger and frustration a little bit is lacking...which just makes it all the more tiresome and frustrating. Sorry...just had to get it all out.