When is it time for the ADD partner to call it quits?

My wife and I have been married for almost 20 years. Four years ago I was diagnosed ADHD after a marriage counselor suggested I be evaluated. (I had suspected I was ADHD for about 5 years before that.) I have a college degree and have been relatively successful in my career but definitely have been coping with ADHD symptoms for all my life. We have a teenage son who is talented and athletic. From the outside, our family looks great.

My wife is extremely bitter that she married a man with undiagnosed ADHD. She has taken on all the family financial tracking, is very neat, organized, and ambitious, and I am a man whom she sees as irresponsible and untrustworthy. We have been fighting more or less continuously for 15 years about behavior generated by my ADHD symptoms. My diagnosis, which provided me great relief, has led my wife to great disappointment. I have been sleeping on our couch for almost 3 years.

I have been taking medication since my diagnosis and have gone to counseling to resolve long-standing depression. I have participated in ADD support groups and have changed my daily behavior so that I keep my appointments, never lose my keys, and have methods to overcome my forgetfulness and distractibility.

I realize that I have been in denial about ADHD, hoping that I could make it go away. But lately, in the past few months, I have found myself accepting my condition and am gradually losing my sense of shame about it. My wife, though, sees me as another child to take care of.

I am flummoxed, though, and am at a crossroads in my marriage. For years, my wife has screamed, yelled, and threatened me in efforts to get me to change and she has been despairing  at my inability to totally contain my distractibility, forgetfulness, and impulsiveness.  During really intense arguments, my wife has hit me with her fists on 2 occasions and screamed insults at me for all the neighborhood to hear. I have actually learned to be calm in the midst of our arguments and in the past 2 years have gotten much better at containing my temper, so I have  learned to ease some of the conflict.

This past weekend, however, my wife became very upset with me because I could not recall the specifics of a meeting that we had with our financial advisor.  She feels betrayed that she married someone with a condition that will never get better and that she is in for nothing but frustration for the rest of her life.  She then said she wished I were dead because that would make things better for everyone.


After the argument, we cooled off,  made some amends and actually spent some enjoyable time together the next day. But I can't get her comment out of my mind. I know it's no picnic to be married to someone with ADHD and I feel a huge load of regret for the pain I have caused her. I am accepting, coping with, and treating my condition. But no one has ever told me they wished me dead. I have been obsessing about it and now I am seriously thinking about ending the marriage.

We have been at the brink of divorce before but have always managed to find a solution to stay together, mostly because we love our son dearly and want his life to be as stable as possible. We have also done some marriage counseling. There are a lot of posts on this site about the non-ADHD partner getting so fed up they need to split. But what about the ADHD partner who is fed up? My psychiatrist early on advised me a while ago that I might be experiencing a form of abuse but I have shrugged it off until now. My wife has told me several times that she herself feels abused by me because of my ADHD.

So, to put a point on my post, I think because of my ADHD I am having a hard time evaluating whether I have actually been hurt and I don't know what to do. I want to preserve my family but I am finding that living in my family is an increasingly horrible experience.