When You Have Been Hurt So Many Times...

                                       **PLEASE NOTE: I WELCOME ANY COMMENTS/INSIGHT YOU MAY HAVE!**

I have been with my spouse for four years, but only married for four months. Finally, after years of the same dysfunctional patterns repeating themselves over and over did I suspect that something may be off with him. I am a nurse and should have known sooner, but I was looking at myself as the probable culprit of our friction. Of course, both partners contribute, but...

The first time he exploded and told me that he was "Done," i.e. wanted to break up after an argument, I was shellshocked. This finally resolved and we went back to our former intimacy, albeit not so passionate as before. So began a long and gut-wrenching process of him telling me he was "Done" any time things got difficult, which, inevitably, they will, especially as you join lives and the every-day stressors set in. But hey, we got past all those things. "Things" meaning him telling me I had inherent flaws, flaws which meant, ultimately, our relationship would not work. You name it, he blamed it- I was angry (yes, I was sometimes, with his behavior), I spent money irresponsibly(although his spending has drained our bank account many times), I wasn't part of the "team," etc. etc. etc.

Flash forward to me breaking off our engagement in July of this year. Finally fed up with his tantrums, passive and outright aggression, verbal and emotional abuse, I decided I had had enough. He was devastated. And I...surprised. After all his posturing, he acted as if his world was ending. And I love him deeply, so when he implored me to stay and marry him, that is what I did.

Today, here we are, married for just four months. Now, because I had been suffering depression for about a month and was contemplating suicide, he told me to just find what made me happy and do it. My job was a huge issue, as they had been treating me unfairly, so he said I should just quit. Fearing for our financial state, I did not quit, but I did cut back on my hours, and took time off school. Soon, he was extremely edgy and short with me. Later, I find out it is because of the decrease in income. It got to the point where he became angry at me and lashed out any time I brought up any work issue, spitting out, "If you hate it so much, quit. I'm tired of hearing it!" Of course, if I did quit, that would not be right either, because then I wouldn't be bringing in money, i.e. not being "Part of the team."

All of this came to a head about two weeks ago when I saw we had a negative checking account balance, and the main reason was countless debit card charges by him. I took his debit card back, as we had previously agreed, to put it away, so the temptation would not be there. I was quite surprised when he blew up about it after I told him I had put it away; he had agreed to this a few months before, knowing he has an impulse spending issue. He screamed, cursed and hung up, only after telling me that I was "Completely selfish" and "Just didn't get it." That day, he stopped talking to me. For days, he hostilely ignored me until I finally forced the issue and he just blurted out he wanted a divorce because "You just don't get it, you are not part of this team, and things will never change. We just don't work."

I was devastated, but thought this was the pattern simply playing out again. Sure enough, he is starting to show signs of softening again: being affectionate, talking to me, hugging and kissing me goodbye when he leaves. And yet, a trip we had planned for months is coming up in two days and he is still saying he does not want to go because it is
"Pointless to pretend when we just don't work." I am guessing within another week, he will be back to his old self again and it will be as if it never happened...again. But how many times can I take this? Yes, I love him, but I don't know if I can keep this madness up.  *PLEASE NOTE-I WELCOME ANY COMMENTS OR INSIGHT YOU MAY HAVE ON THIS!*


Truthfully? ADHD or not, this kind of behavior would make me very insecure and I would not be able to stay with someone like that.  If this was happening before your marriage and now- 4 months in it is happening... you can count on it happening again and again. Especially since you've allowed reconciliation to take place again and again.

Only you know how many times you can take this- but I personally would have already pulled the plug. He needs to know that you won't tolerate that behaviour- or he'll keep doing it again and again. My view is you should leave him the next time he pulls this move. Call his bluff. If he truly doesn't mean it- then maybe it will sink in that he can't pull that move anymore. Then if he tries to win you back- you can decide whether you will give him a final (and final means LAST ONE) chance or not... and if he doesn't try- then you know you've done the right thing anyway... In either case, you've got to stop let him calling all the shots and get your personal power back.

By the way- lots of people with ADHD don't do this to their spouses. I don't. My dad doesn't. My good friend doesn't. My cousin doesn't. At a certain point, ADHD can no longer be an excuse. It may explain why he is more prone to this kind of behavior than someone without ADHD to contend with- but it doesn't excuse the behavior.

Good luck!!! I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I know how hard it is to leave someone you love, even when you know you should. 


Today, here we are, married

Today, here we are, married for just four months. Now, because I had been suffering depression for about a month and was contemplating suicide, he told me to just find what made me happy and do it. My job was a huge issue, as they had been treating me unfairly, so he said I should just quit. Fearing for our financial state, I did not quit, but I did cut back on my hours, and took time off school. Soon, he was extremely edgy and short with me. Later, I find out it is because of the decrease in income. It got to the point where he became angry at me and lashed out any time I brought up any work issue, spitting out, "If you hate it so much, quit. I'm tired of hearing it!" Of course, if I did quit, that would not be right either, because then I wouldn't be bringing in money, i.e. not being "Part of the team."

I could have written this. As soon as we walked down the aisle, it was like he (my ADHD husband) got a head transplant. Of course, for his part, he got fired from his job two days before our wedding. So I should have seen it coming. He was depressed for months, especially when a promising new job opportunity did not materialize. Things between us began to implode. He got a job, not one that he wanted, but one nonetheless. That's when the money issues began. Only giving me the bare minimum out of his pay check, excessive and frivolous spending he couldn't account for, etc. And that's when the "you don't know how to be married" started too. It was a daily battle until the point I was so depressed that I was staring at the walls or crying. I got some counseling and meds, and that's when I started realizing that something was wrong with him. He was easy to convince; he went to the doctor and got diagnosed with ADHD. It was a temporary excuse for all our ills, but we were still fighting like cats and dogs. And believe me there is nothing worse in this world than knowing that you're not crazy and yet every word out of their mouth seems to indicate the opposite. We split up, ostensibly under the guise of him taking work a 100 miles away, therefore commuting was not an option. And basically for two and half years, we stayed apart. We only reunited under the same roof this past March and that was only because a beloved family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I knew I needed my husband to support me. Had he not, it would have been over.

We've been in counseling for a year now and while there had been a lot of progress, the ADHD still rages unchecked. Depending in the day, he can be hostile about taking his meds. He hasn't had a real, full-time job, in over two years. He tried going back to school and I just discovered today that he is flunking both his classes. But what do you do? Leave him because he is "failing" at life? He loves me, he tries to the point that he has bleeding ulcers, but it never seems to be enough. I'm the enemy i.e. "Mom". I decided today that we're having a "Come to Jesus" moment some time soon. "I love you, I support you, but I refuse to participate in the destruction." Whether or not I can control my control-freak tendencies is another story.

As for you, I don't know how to counsel you. If you really love him, then perhaps seeking some counseling would be best. I don't think you ever mentioned whether or not he has been formally diagnosed or if he is willing to be seen by a doctor, etc. I would definitely look into getting a separate bank account. I finally did it under the guise of being mad at our corporate bank and wanting to go to a credit union. I couldn't allow him to continually run us into overdraft when money was so tight. Having separate accounts has helped A LOT. He operates only in cash now, but the few times that I have given him my ATM card for something, he has been responsible and has returned it. I am thinking about adding him to the account and to our checks, but no way is he getting an ATM card. Of course, I recently read that having joint accounts when there is a ADHDer involved is just not a good idea.

As for his constant threats of leaving, it's probably a defense mechanism. He knows something isn't right, but he probably doesn't know what and instead of taking the time to figure it out, he just loses patience and makes threats. Perhaps moving out for a time would help. Get some distance, get some counseling, and take it from there. If he refuses to participate, then that doesn't leave you in a good spot. I've been there too before but I can say that time and maturity has helped.

Best of luck to you, and keep us updated.

Ditto on separate bank

Ditto on separate bank accounts.  I started my own approximately 3 years ago.  It has made a big difference in how safe I feel in my marriage.  I know that I have my own money (technically it's marital property but it's accessible only by me) and I know that I can take care of myself financially.  I pay almost all the bills for joint expenses and then ask my husband for reimbursement for his share.  

Can I get an Amen?

I believe your reply wholeheartedly. We are getting him a separate account and putting away the debit cards. It is an insidious battle that I can not and will not fight any more.


Thank you for sharing your experience, and I must say that I am sorry you are dealing with such a heavy load. I know all too well the heartbreak you feel when the man you adore seems to be a monster much of the time. The world would say leave, and they have, by the way, but I am not a quitter, and as you say, if he is willing to admit his part in this and maybe seek counseling, then things may be ok.

To answer your question, he has actually admitted that he knows something is different with his processing of information, if you will. He also recognizes that the patterns are ALL there(every.single.one), and he sees himself in the picture this book paints. We made up a plan to begin dealing with these issues. Counseling will come later, when my benefits kick in and we can afford it.

Then, I went on a trip alone-I agreed with you that some space would help, and it has. However, the minute a bill came due that was ginormous, because he had ignored it for so long, he, strangely, lashed out at me. This was our first conversation since I had left, by the way. I told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to relate to me respectfully, and got off the phone. Since then, he has called "Just to say hello," and things seemed much more normal than they have been in a while. Perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder...

As for the financial aspect, we are getting an account and credit card for each of us, with only a cash allowance per week, no debit cards. The joint account is for bills only and otherwise will not be touched. These things are not fully in effect yet because they take time to set up, but that is our plan. Wish me luck!

I don't believe in 'fate', so

I don't believe in 'fate', so it does not surprise me that you responded to my other reply (the one about Christian values and an ADHD marriage) and asked me to read this. I am reading my story...with only a few changes.

The constant threats of being "done". Took me 15 years to recognize this for what it truly is...an attempt to bully and control me. To shut me up, if you will. To 'persuade' me not to disagree with him, have an opposing opinion in the future, or to ever raise an issue he doesn't want to deal with. Honest to God, that is all it is. I've heard "I'm done" (yes, those EXACT words) THOUSANDS of times in the past 15 years and obviously he didn't mean it. For years I would react to his saying it with hurt and disappointment which would make him turn the knife even harder. Now, if I even acknowledge it, I might say "Ok...whatever makes you happy" or "best stop your pride from getting the best of you before you say something you regret" (he has admitted this is the only reason he says it) and I go on about my business. Without fail, within a day or two he acts as if nothing happened. It is about control...nothing more. The key is to figure out how to take the control away from him and this can only be done by your reactions to his 'threat'. I suspect that the reason it is taking him so long to 'get back to normal', for the 'cycle' to complete itself, is because he senses he's got you over a barrel of sorts. If you're tiptoeing around, acting defeated and depressed, this is precisely the fuel he needs to keep up his asshole attitude. I also have basically convinced my DH that anytime he is ready to leave, he is welcome to do so. *I* am done with the threat of him being 'done'...and he knows it. It has very quickly lost its power in my marriage. Good riddance. Another key, stop taking it personally. It is NOT about him wanting out of the marriage or about him not wanting to be with you (most likely...I mean I cannot know for certain...but my experience says it really never is) it is just him pushing the envelope and seeing how far he can go and using dirty tactics to get his way. Set the boundary for yourself that you're not going to tolerate it. Ignore it. It isn't worth your time, honestly.

My husband became a completely different person when our income shrank by 50%...even though it was 100% his doing. I also can completely relate to the same 'attitude change' when they sense that there is an added financial strain on the family. He doesn't want you to quit, he wants you to stop complaining, work a job that makes you miserable, and quit stressing him out by complaining about it. He's taking it personally. He's feeling responsible, so his predictable response will be to become angry and defensive. This, however, is on you to change...and not him. If you're not happy with your job, that isn't his fault and you have to be very careful with situations like this. They take our unhappiness, whether their fault or not, personally...always. For the sake of your marriage, fix this situation so that you're at least removing one source of stress that CAN be controlled. You'll be happier, making more money, and he'll be happier for both reasons. It sucks, but it is what it is. If he cares about you making money, then that is obviously something you're going to have to live with.

I took my husband's debit card about 2 years ago. We use one..mine. He takes it, gets gas and cash out for work and I get it back ASAP. He would SWEAR he wouldn't use it and then walk right out the door and straight to the store. I stopped feeling guilty over this a long time ago too. If he cannot stop spending as if we have an unlimited amount of funds then I have to protect the family and NO ONE will convince me that is the wrong thing to do. He has been very angry about it a few times, but eventually came to accept it and now it isn't an issue at all. You will find out, if you stay long enough, that "we had previously agreed to it" doesn't mean anything. Seriously. Nothing. Stick to your guns, refuse to argue with him about it, and do what you need to do. Again, if he senses you're 'weak' and feeling sorry, guilty, pity, etc...then he will tear you to shreds trying  to get that card back. Ignore it. Don't engage with him on this issue because you'll NEVER agree and it is something you really have no choice but to do. 

My advice about the vacation...I would go by myself if I had to...or invite someone else to go. Bet it would be the last time he stood indignant like this. Bet he would be SHOCKED as you drove out of the driveway. Kiss him good bye, tell him you love him, and GO. Again, my gut tells me you're behaving in a way (similar to walking on eggshells or groveling) that is drawing this crap out longer than it should. Simply say "ok...I hate that you're not going...but I'm going to go ahead and go because I need the break" and he would probably start inventing new ways to get control back...and he might even take it to another level of 'ugly' before he caves and gets over himself.

I recently took a job in the behavioral health field. I work with some amazing professionals who have helped me in my marriage to recognize this stuff for what it is and 'deal' with it differently. I hate to say that I 'manage' my husband, but in many ways that is the only way to describe how things are finally working for us. The very first sign that he's throwing out the bait to start a fight or start criticizing me, and I shut my mouth and say nothing more. Even though he is stronger than he has been in the 15 years we've been together, is treating his ADHD (100% ON HIS OWN), and doing GREAT in many, many ways...the ADHD is still there and although it sometimes sucks the last drop of energy I have right out of me, I just simply ignore it when it rears its ugly head. We fight a lot less these days and he could not be more ready, willing, and able to please me. Honestly, things are better than they have been in years. Stop taking it all personally. Stop believing his hurtful words. Stop reacting and engaging with him. Demand what you need and accept nothing less. It is the only way.

I wish you all the best.  

Thank you

Thank you for your candid reply, and for your wisdom. It is heartbreaking to me that anyone else should go through the same pain, but strangely, it makes me feel better to know someone understands, at least. Believe it or not, my husband ended up picking up the ADHD's Effect on Marriage book today, and saw himself in it. We had a long talk, and each made a list of what was important to us in the relationship, making a plan to enact positive changes-each of us with our own behavior.

Later, I came home and told him I had to pack because yes, I am going on the trip by myself. He, by the way, still doesn't want to go, but wishes me well on the trip(what??)-lol. Then, I said, I am going to make dinner. He said he was going to play x-box. I got a bit piqued because, this is the way things usually are when he's off-he plays, I take care of the chores, and I'm tired of it. So, I insisted he help me fold and put away laundry. He got angry, told me I was trying to control him and it was the same old, same old...and I pointed out this is the same pattern, calmly. Then I said, "You don't need to do this now. I just want help, and balance." Still simmering, he petulantly said "Yeah ok. I'm going to watch TV."

Is this the way it is: 1 step forward, two steps back? Part of me is kicking myself for insisting he help me now, but it brought out an issue we need to deal with, so...I don't know.

Just please keep us in your prayers..Carmen and Tony, and I will do my best to follow your healthy example. I did, by the way, tell him "Give me the papers hon, because I don't need this either." He knows I'm at my limit, and he agreed to make changes, as did I. I just know that we need divine intervention. I love this man deeply, and feel certain God brought us together. Join with me in prayer, please, and I will do the same for you. Your names, please? And any particular prayer request?

Oh Lord...

Consistency.  Are you going to get off that roller coaster, or get off and affect change?  Is he?  That's doubtful.  In order to prove that he wants to be a life partner with you, he needs to prove it consistently, just as you do with him.  Can he do it (whatever it is) for 6 months to a year straight?  Can you?  From what I read, the answer is no.  It sounds like there's something else that accompanies the ADD/ADHD, which is the case with my DH.  Narcissistic Personality Dis. or Anti-Social Personality Dis.  I'm no doctor though.

Your situation is exactly like mine was.  So are everyone else's on this thread.  Feel free to read my past posts.  Unfortunately, I didn't find this website until it was too late.  :(

Best wishes to you...


It is true, I am a nurse and I see quite a few familiar symptoms that lead me to believe there is an accompanying disorder, as there is about 80% of the time with ADHD. I am not completely sure what it is, but sometimes it seems like Bipolar. I would need to do more research and of course get him evaluated first to be sure...

It is good that you still look at the site-I felt led to it, and it has brought such comfort to me just to know this is real and I am not alone. When I read someone's reply that states, "I could have written this...," I know I am not crazy, and there is hope. Take care of yourself!

I know this is easy to say,

I know this is easy to say, and often I react just like you...I'm tired of the attitude every.single.time I ask for help from him...but let him get angry as long as he help. That won't magically change and the quicker we accept that, the quicker we can work on changing OUR reactions to their anger and seeing it for what it is. Again, it is an attempt to get you to leave him alone, not ask for his help in the future, let him off of the hook, etc. My true belief is that if you cannot get him on the same page by some miracle, then you must just IGNORE the anger and petulance and pretend as if he said nothing. Imagine a child who whines and fusses each time you make them do chores. Why do they do it? Because they don't want to do chores and they think that somehow whining will get them out of it. When it does not work, on a consistent basis, then there is nothing more for them to do than shut up and do their chores...and grow as a human being. I even say to him sometimes "I simply asked for help, your anger isn't necessary" and WALK AWAY no matter how much they try and rope you in, because the quicker you get control of YOUR emotions they quicker they will. Think about what you felt when he said he was going to play X-box. Think about how you acted upon those emotions. You were angry and probably came across as so. Not only is this not the best way to get results...with anyone...it is really bad to start a reaction from someone who is already defensive, by nature. If you will work to change your 'nature' then you might be really surprised at how willing he is to change his. Change isn't going to start with him. I can assure you it takes a life altering, terrifying event for them to initiate change from within. However, as I said in my other post...if you just keep believing that God can help you turn this around then He will and that is where you need to focus your energy. It will bring about changes in YOU that will be undeniable and that will bring you some peace and joy again.

Instead of insisting he do the laundry right then, on your time schedule, would it work to simply say "would you mind to help me fold and put away laundry after you've played Xbox for a little bit?" Or does any request bring about the same angry reaction?

At first it feels a bit like 'letting them get away with behaving like a child' to ignore their tantrums and pretend nothing ever happened (maintaining control of your own emotions and NOT reacting) but in the end I can assure you it becomes much less of an issue and you feel much more like a winner for gaining control of yourself. At first it affected my respect for him but as time goes on, his 'tantrums' (for lack of a better word) grow shorter and less frequent, the better that gets. Lots and lots of prayer too. That helps. :-)

Hang in there. You are in my prayers also. My name is Sherri...just pray for Sherri and D. We can use all we can get.

How Funny..

What you say is true about not reacting. Being with him has taught me valuable lessons in patience and self-control, in fact. When he said he was going to play, I did not react. I said, "That's fine, but could you help with the laundry first?," and when he started with the b.s, I just tuned it out and said, "It doesn't have to be now. I would just like some help." He continued trying to bait me, insisting that I was trying to change and control him, to make him do things on my schedule. I simply said that I did not realize it came out that way and I just wanted to get it done, but whatever...play your game, it will get done. 

Now, I am on the trip and for the first day it was strained, but I have just left him alone and concentrated on my family and me, and things have been better. Yes, the prayer definitely helps, but my cousin's well-meaning words echo in my head: "Are you just going to have to pray your way through every day with him, just to keep your sanity?" Sometimes, that is how I feel. I must take  a sleeping pill some mornings just to get control of the anxiety through out the day. 

I am heartened to know it can change. It does feel like a losing battle sometimes, and some people on this site are bitter and tell you to just give up. I don't know much about this yet -I just know that the great person I love is in there, and I took vows. I love him, as I am certain you love your husband or you would not bother. Thank you for the prayers...I need them desperately right now. Since God says to be specific...I need him to humble himself and see himself/the situation, for what it really is, and what he has done to get us here, as well as what we can do to make it better. I will pray for you and D as well.

God bless,


Your cousin has a good point,

Your cousin has a good point, but I look at it another way...I am going to pray my way through ANYTHING in life, my marriage is no exception. However, the difference is that I will pray not for my marriage to "work out" or what have you, but for guidance and answers. I pray for the Lord to touch my husband's heart, to help move him to become closer to Him and therefore more in line with the kind of husband that makes me happy and brings peace and security to our family. I also pray that if this is not God's will then to please let me know this too. I know that as long as there is doubt in my mind as to whether I am ready to throw in the towel, then I know God isn't guiding me to divorce. I cannot explain it any other way than to say my marriage was in a horrible, horrible state. My husband was self-medicating in ways that sickens me to this day to even think about it. We had NO MARRIAGE to speak of for about 2 years. He called me horrible, hurtful names. He didn't spend time with the family, he quit going to church, and he eventually lost his job and almost his life. I know how dark and desperate I felt many, many times. I never dreamed, in my wildest dreams, that my husband would be doing as well as he is now. I kept wanting the husband I had in the early years of our marriage back...look at old posts where I was coming to terms with the fact that it was probably just never going to happen. I won't say he's the same man as he was then, but possibly a more improved version who is accountable for his treatment and making progress, although sometimes at a snails pace, daily. It is my belief that things would have never turned around had I not fought the devil through prayer and pouring myself into God's word. I knew that the pain and suffering would end, one way or the other. I didn't want my marriage to end, but I was fully prepared to walk away if that were the path God showed me. I knew I would know my answer when there was no doubt left in my mind. Hang in there lady, honestly you're doing great and changing yourself really will bring about changes in him that will pleasantly surprise you. Once you stop reacting, he'll start to lose his need to be so defensive and that will make a big difference.

I work every other weekend, Fri-Sun 8p-8a. My DH stays home with the kids...daughter 14 and son 20 who is low functioning autistic. I have been working 8 months. I am still working on getting him to appreciate and embrace the importance of keeping the kitchen clean for me on the weekend that I work. At first I just went the hell off on him...more than once. Now I have started just asking him to please realize how important it is to me, how it helps me not be so stressed and have SO much to do on my first day off, etc. I've seen attempts to do better, I've seen his desire to do better and his shame when he doesn't just get off his butt and do it. I know, in time, this is going to happen, but for now I am patiently planting the seed, praying about it, and approaching it in less confrontational ways. This is how progress goes for us...me letting go of my anger and realizing there are other ways to get things done, him resisting because it is just not something he 'does' normally, and then us finally meeting in the middle. The key being that it is usually always ME who initiates the 'change'...but that's not an issue.

I hope you manage to enjoy the trip and return home with a HUGE smile on your face as if nothing he could do or say would ever be able to bring you down. It really does drive them nuts when we smile through their self-righteous tantrums.  

Pulling My Hair Out

So, here I am, on the trip, which he thought we should get a refund for because the money is so tight. He decided to stay home to pick up shifts.

Guess what? He's is Vegas. Yes, he is visiting a mutual friend that I trust, and staying with him, but what happened to "We don't have the money?'" and "I'm staying home to work?" Today, of course, he texts me to say there is significantly less money in the account than expected(go figure). I try to call him, he does not answer, and does not return my text-yet. I wanted to tell him about an opportunity to make some good money over the next few days that I became aware of, which I told him in my message, but still, no word.

This happens when he goes to work, for instance-sometimes I just don't hear from him for 12 hours while he is there. His answer-there's a lot going on and he has to focus on work, that that is all he can focus on. I know this has much to do with the disorder, but I also feel it is just avoidance of dealing with this topic. Meanwhile, I have been gone for days and this really hurts my feelings. Is this just commonplace with this disorder? I am pulling my hair out here.

PS: I am praying through this- it is the only way I am staying sane, and I, too, feel I should hang in-but at this point, I almost don't know why. What kind of a marriage is this? I feel like I don't even exist much of the time, especially since this financial business has been happening.

Help!! Please respond quickly!!

I need insight and encouragement desperately right now. This is what happened: I'm on the trip and, a few days in, he calls me and says he is going to Vegas to visit one of our friends he stays with sometimes. This friend is fine, whatever, but I know we can't afford this extra expenditure, though as he reminded me, he did stay and worked two extra shifts vs going on this trip with me.

Anyway, that was two days ago and we hung up on good terms. Yesterday, he texts me that there is much less money in our account suddenly(this is because he had ignored a student loan payment and now the payment was $700). I texted him back and called, asking that he call back, because he did not answer. For the rest of the day and night, and into this afternoon, he did not respond. Finally, today, I text him "Hello?Did you get my messages?," and he texts back "What messages?" I call him then and he FINALLY answers, but with a HUGE chip on his shoulder. His tone was flat and he was cold as ice to me. I almost felt he was about to say he was "done" again, because it seemed as if he couldn't stand me all of the sudden. This is how he gets sometimes at the lowest points.

Sherri, he was mean, condescending, bordering on hateful. He finally admitted he got my messages but didn't want to have "this conversation, where you jump my s#$##". I told him the only reason I wanted to talk was to say hello and i was not upset. He said "Oh, really? Then what is this? Why didn't you just say hello and you love me then?" To which I say that now I am upset because he has ignored me for two days. The conversation  just went downhill from there and I finally hung up, exasperated and confused. What did I do to deserve this? WHY is he acting so hateful, like I am his enemy? Does he even care that I am gone? He actually said it was a "nice break," not talking to me for two days.

Now, he is coming to get me from the airport tomorrow when I fly home and I am sick over this. I want to tell him goodbye, because this is not love. Please help with your insight and please pray for him, because I feel almost like he is possessed.

I understand and empathize

I understand and empathize with how you are feeling right now.  Here is what I think about what is going on with your husband now.  It sounds to me that your husband, like mine, is pathologically afraid of criticism and of conversations about difficult subjects.  Both our husbands, it seems, will do almost anything to avoid criticism or difficult conversations, including not responding to messages, being rude, being surly, and so on.  Both our husbands, it seems, don't understand that their avoidant behavior not only makes the underlying problem (for example, "wow, we suddenly have no money in our bank account") worse but also adds a layer of anger and sadness to the situation.  I don't know if this is the last straw for you; if it is, yes, tell your husband goodbye.  If it's not the last straw, I advise telling him (either out loud or in writing) what your initial reaction was and then explaining that when he didn't respond, you rapidly started feeling worse.  Explain that it makes you feel like shit to be ignored and then attacked.  Move on from there.  

Thank You

Thank you for your comment-it is actually quite comforting that someone actually GETS what this feels like. Thank God for that, at least. I just don't want to be treated this way-ever, and it, unfortunately, has become somewhat commonplace. I have taken some time to cool off and pray, and at this point, I may just need to write to him-that is a good idea.

When you say "pathologically afraid of criticism and difficult conversations"-I think you pinpointed it, absolutely. Even early on, he would flip a switch the second I would want to "talk." I wonder how is your situation doing? What did you do to alleviate the issues?


You may be in the "pursuit/retreat" pattern I describe in my book.  He retreats from conflict because it's biologically difficult for men to self calm after conflict (there is research on this - it takes men much longer to physically de-escalate and for the chemicals to go away).  So he avoids conflict.  But you have stuff that needs attending to, so you pursue him.  He doesn't like to be pursued because it's physically uncomfortable for him to be in conflict so he retreats further...and you pursue harder  Also, he may view your pursuit as a desire to attack him (ie. the "I didn't want to put up with *&^*&^") - he is anticipating that you will dump on him.  Even this THOUGHT makes him anxious and uptight...hence the reason he jumps on you when you finally do get together.

My experience is that many men with ADHD hear "we need to talk" and translate it as "I have something I want you to do differently or change" which they then further translate as "you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing..."

I understand this, Melissa.

I understand this, Melissa.  But I have a few comments/questions.

1) I believe that not every issue (money, chores, and so on) has to be a conflict. But often, by action of the man (I'm using men, because they're the ones you've said have the harder time calming down), the issue becomes contentious when it could have been resolved without conflict.  I'll give an example from my relationship.  Husband agreed to do one chore every week:  vacuuming the entire house.  Husband did this chore once and then the next week, vacuumed one room. I told him that it bothered me that he hadn't done the chore as he said he would.  This upset my husband.  This became a conflict because the nonconflict way to deal with it (husband does what he said he'll do) was jettisoned almost immediately.  It seems to me that my husband was inviting a conflict.     

2) I get physically uncomfortable about things, too (thinking about our bad finances, for example), but I work through the pain.  Why shouldn't the guys do so, too?

Sounds Familiar

I have read that section, and it makes perfect sense, Melissa. This pattern has played out repeatedly. The funny thing is that, if he would have simply returned my call in the first place, I would never have "given him [email protected]#@," but now that he has stonewalled me for two days while I am on vacation, I AM upset, and have every right to be, so of course, he will hear about it. Then he uses that as further justification for stonewalling behavior.

My burning question is this: How does it STOP? What can I do, because I just feel like I can not win.

PS: Thank you for your reply, it means a lot to me. I love your book and find it to be like an "Aha! moment in every chapter." You have helped so many, I am sure, as you have helped me.

I read everything above,

I read everything above, sorry it took me a couple of days to respond...been working.

As badly as it hurts, PLEASE try to see this for what it is. Rosered and Melissa said exactly what my first thought was...he is just avoiding you because he knows he made a mistake, there is going to be a confrontation about it, and let me tell you they will go to the ends of the Earth to avoid these. I guess I will get a lot of criticism for this, but I think we deserve some of the credit for this perception. Where I really had to do a lot of hard work in this area was I would ask myself "if I forgot to pay a loan payment and it ultimately came to a huge deduction from our bank account would he be mad at me?" The answer is no. I make mistakes (forgetting payments is actually something I HAVE done) and he does not come down on me like I have ruined his day/week/life. Maybe your DH is the type that would be mad and this won't be of help to you, but putting myself in his shoes has helped some.

Also, just as Rosered said, not everything has to be a confrontation...that works both ways. The payment was missed, the money was deducted, and nothing is left but to deal with it. It SUCKS and is frustrating to say the least, especially if it happens a lot...but the ADHD will never go away completely and some things we're just going to have to learn to deal with. This is why my husband isn't in charge of our finances nor does he have a debit card to use at his free will.

He is being ugly for several reasons...in my opinion. It has nothing to do with not loving you, not wanting to be with you, not wanting to be married to you, etc. This is the first place you need to start...stop taking it personally. Stop taking his ugly words, when dealing with difficult situations, as an indication of how he feels about you and the marriage.

Second...before you 'confront' him about things like this, think about what you want to accomplish, will it be helpful, hurtful, or just simply the same old stuff? Although you have every right to be upset about the $700, you truly have to start asking yourself if there isn't a better way to deal with these things when they come up. I am in the same boat as you...he avoids telling me stuff and says it is because he didn't want to "fight" about it. Yesterday I had to find out through our daughter that my SD (whom I do not get along with at all, but he BEGGED me to let her come back here and live) got fired from her job. When I called him I asked him why she no longer had a job. He immediately got defensive. When I calmly said that I only wanted to make sure we were on the same page as far as understanding that we aren't financially able to support her, he got even more defensive ("you make me so angry!"). I calmly said that I wasn't looking to discuss it or fight with him, just wanted to know that his promise that she HAD to keep a job in order to live here was still valid and his assurance that he wasn't going to expect us to give her money. (she's almost 21). He gave me a very smart and sarcastic "you've made yourself crystal clear" adding that he hadn't been asked by her to pay any bills and that he wasn't planning on paying any...and she was already looking for another job. I cut the conversation off, even though I had a whole lot more I wanted to say AND I was really needing more reassurance from him in a much less angry way...but I took what I got and let it go. I did explain to him "you cannot bully me with your anger into not having an opinion about ANYTHING...that isn't happening, you need to accept that" and explained that I shouldn't have heard it from someone other than him and that he could no longer use the "I didn't want to fight" excuse because all it would have taken was a quick explanation of what happened, what his expectations of her were, and his reassurance that he would keep his promises to me...and it wouldn't have even been an issue. HIS avoidance doesn't fall on my shoulders anymore...I'm slowly but surely making him see that AND proving that I am not looking to 'jump' him over everything anymore. It truly seems, as with a lot of ADHD marriages, there is always some 'crisis' lurking around the corner. As he gets healthier and happier, I get less angry and less confrontational, they seem to be easier to handle and less 'crisis-like'. You really don't make any lasting impression or compel anyone to want to try harder through confrontation and anger. Just try and always keep that in the back of your mind. It isn't like pounding it into his head about how wrong it was to miss the payment, how screwed up everything was because he missed it, is going to make him never do anything like it again. Instead try and picture in your head a scenario where you hear the news and say "oh wow...that is tough...how are we going to work around this issue?" Instead of approaching it as "look what you did to me!" approach it as "we all make mistakes, let's just refigure things and see how this is going to work for us" The deed is done. The goal is to avoid things like this in the future, if at all possible...but to work through it together right now. I once forgot a $250 Wal-mart debit...and it ultimately cost us $600 in overdraft fees. He never said a word. I have our account set up now to decline debit card purchases if the account doesn't have the funds. I didn't want to have that happen again.

He is just defensive, feels badly for his mistake, knows that you're angry and disappointed in him, and just like Melissa said...the vicious cycle continues. I have found that the best way to deal with these things is to do exactly as they do...pretend as if nothing happened. Often I will still get the cold shoulder...sometimes for days...but I make it clear to him that *I* am over it, when he is ready to be over it.

You have to be more creative in solving conflict...you have to change the dynamics of your marriage where he feels as if he cannot admit his mistakes without the fear of being 'jumped.' You have to become more like them in letting some things go and moving on once an issue has been addressed. We want a 2 hour session discussing the subject...they are DONE after 2 minutes. Learn to be done after 2 minutes yourself. It is all they need, they hear the issue, they know the expectation, let it go. One last thing, no matter how hard it is...when you KNOW he's avoiding/ignoring your texts/calls...STOP texting and calling. This is the single most important thing I have learned. if I leave him alone, he will always come ot me. If I don't, the situation could continue to be bad for DAYS on end. VERY hard for me to do, but it has proven a very rewarding thing for me to trust God to do His work and for me to stay out of it. Often, just when I am about to really start struggling and NEEDING to hear from DH, I will reach out to God and next thing you know he calls or texts. Be patient

If in the end you're able to do all of this and it doesn't exact the change in him that I feel strongly it will, then you've done all you could and you'll be proud of yourself in the end. I am in this process with you, although maybe a little further ahead...but there all the same. (((HUGS))) and prayers.



Pursuing and Retreat

I am new to this sight and can't seem to concentrate on anything since I found it. After 17 years of marriage with my ex who has ADHD, 2 years of divorce, I finally don't feel alone. I can't believe how common their behaviors are and how much everyone here seems to be going through the same thing. I have so many days that I deal with all this. I just keep saying, now what? How long can everyone handle this before we crack. :(


Hello, and welcome! I identify with what you said about not being able to concentrate on anything else. Finding this site was like a lifeline to me-finally, someone gets it! I am NOT crazy! (Well, maybe sometimes...lol)

I am sorry to hear of your struggle. Divorce is so very difficult, but then so is living in a marriage marred by this disorder. It also concerns me that you seem to be trying to do this alone. Have you thought about going to a "Grief Recovery" or Divorce Support group? I say grief because losing a marriage is like the death of a loved one, and we react with the same grief and loss response. I actually lost my ex-fiance to death, and it was comparable to my divorce. Just going and being around others, and knowing that you are not alone in this, that these people truly understand and you can talk to them, is so very comforting, and helps you to heal.

Finally, I do not know what your religious preference is, but the ONLY REAL WAY I got through any of these things was, and is, with help from God. Prayer and reading the Bible have been a saving grace that is very real. You are not alone, my friend. I will pray for you. What is your name, please?


My name is Melissa. I spend time praying and have God to hold me up. I have always been the person who feels they can handle everything even when I know better. 

I think maybe some sort of support group would help. I think after this many years and having 7 kids together, I have become a co-dependent on this and because I still love him so much, its hard to imagine life without him-even with the drama. 

This is an amazing web site. At least I know when his behavior is erratic, how to react or not to react to it. I just don't want to go "cold" if you know what I mean. :( 


Out of the ashes

I do know what you mean, Melissa. I am glad you have God in your life, but he never meant for us to go through these things alone. Just yesterday, my Bible study was on how two is better than one, because if one falls, the other can lift them up and take some of their burden. Either getting involved in your church, or a support group, I think, would be tremendous help to you.

I also understand what it is to want the relationship still, even after all the pain. It is almost like-we do not know what to do without that familiar emotional struggle. It's not comfortable, but it's yours, and there is some comfort in the familiar, even if it sucks! There is a purpose in all of this, I am sure you know, and God will use it all to accomplish His will. Out of the ashes will come a new and refined you-if you let Him do that work in you.

I will be praying for you, and I wish you the best. Please try to think positive thoughts today-Satan loves nothing more than for us to focus on everything wrong in our lives...



But he isn't...

As much as I understand the psychology behind what you are saying, Melissa, what precipitates the pursuit/retreat is so often things that shouldn't be an issue in a grown up relationship to begin with.  Not only that, but then you have someone handling things very badly and the other person has to almost be uber "perfect" or controlled in order to not end up in a big mess.  

If both people try, that is one thing.  If only one person is willing to make the changes, and the other puts limitations on it - it's way too hard and completely unfair, in my opinion.  You end up in a victim/abuser circle that no one should be encouraged to stay in.

I have accepted that there

I have accepted that there are some issues that we probably never will be able to talk about.  An example is our future as a couple, because of my husband's extreme fear of thinking about his future.  I have, fortunately, been able to deal with his aversion to talking and thinking about financial issues by separating my money from his (for the most part).  We have separate accounts and we each pay approximately half the family expenses.  The separate finances have, for the most part, made me more comfortable with my husband's aversion to talking about his career plans.  My feeling now is that although it's unfortunate that he is underemployed and is not looking for a better job, it's his problem to deal with, as long as he pays his share of the bills.  

I have a pretty good support system.  My sister and a few of my friends know what's going on and have my back.  My mom doesn't know all the gory details but she has been extremely supportive with financial help.  

I haven't decided whether I want to stay married.  I don't think divorce is easy (or easy to decide on) for anyone, but as a woman in her 50s, I'm especially aware of the hazards.  But I'm also aware of the hazards of staying in a situation in which there will always be uneven levels of financial and emotional and physical contributions.  For the time being, I'm doing a lot of thinking, trying to maintain my status as a valued employee at my workplace, carefully choosing my "battles" on the home front, and trying to be kind to myself.

barneyarff's picture

Wait a minute. So the person

Wait a minute.

So the person with ADHD gets to "forget" to pay a bill, skip out of town and go to Vegas, not respond to frantic texts from his wife?   Really?  Is this person 13?

  If a man doesn't want to "Have a conversation" then maybe he ought to pay the bill, stay in town and answer the darned text.   These are adults who want all the perks of adulthood and whine when they have to have some responsibility.  And they can walk off the extra chemicals produced from the talk...... it's their own fault.   BTW-- how about all the cortesoll I have from stupid stuff like this?  I have to walk that off or turn into very round person.

My son's therapist told me today that it seems as though ALL 13 year old boys will refuse to admit when they do something stupid. (Mine had made holes in the wall of my dining room with a screwdriver).  She laughed and said that she could threaten the Chinese water torture for the rest of their lives and most would not give in.   Sounds like some of these people are still stuck in "13".  

We really had a go around about the holes in the dining room wall.  DH was talking to my son and that was great.  However, my son just got more and more stubborn to the point where DH gave up.  After awhile I walked into my son's room and said very softly.  "I know you put the holes in the dining room wall.  And you know I know right?  He agreed.   So, this can go 1 of two ways, you can be an adult and go tell your Dad you did it and take your punishment or you can sit here and pout.  If you choose to pout I will not do anything for you for a very long time.  (remember he is in some pretty exciting stuff including learning how to fly).  And while you are standing next to me i will call all your group leaders and tell them exactly why you will no longer be coming.  Then I'm going to take all that money I'm saving from not spending it on you and buy myself something fabulous.  You, on the other had can come home from school and sit in your room.  It's your choice.  And he absolutely knew I would do it because I've had enough.

I have no idea how this will translate into an adult relationship.  Except maybe to have extreme consequences (but no drama)  As I type this I think  it might be a good idea to have consequences without drama.  What they would be for a person who pulls crap like your hubby did I don't know.  But maybe if you were just matter of fact about the extreme consequence you were going to perpetrate on him, the point could be made. 

Good luck



Barneyarff, thank you! As soon as I stopped laughing after reading your post, I wanted to reply, but have not, because by that time, I just needed a break from thinking about it all the time. Go you on your handling of your son's bs-I am guessing he admitted what he did and is enduring his consequences as we speak.

As for me, perhaps my husband forgot that he married a strong-willed gal from the south with a solid backbone...but now he remembers. When I returned home, I had the discussion with him about the certain consequences of his behavior. Let us just say that things are now changing for the better. I also think that it will only get better from here. We must each take responsibility for our own actions and do our part to make things right.

God bless, and tell us how things are going with you!!

Yea to Barneyarff!!

Quit letting these guys HURT YOUR FEELINGS!  Don't live for them, live for you!  Life is short.  Go out and have fun.  Intimacy is overrated anyway. 

Here is what I am realizing

Living with someone for years who is very ADHD or ADD brings on a co-dependent relationship. It is easy to say don't let them do it but to actually take the step in that direction can be difficult. We have lived daily with their reaction to our "enough is enough" response. There is a huge retaliation from that reaction. With that said, I must say this. 

Once you decide, "enough is enough" you must stick with it. Because of my line of work, I am finding that MANY women that are dealing with these guys will always want to help, see through the chaos and have hope. Hope is our greatest gift and our biggest downfall. Hope for the best but realize this. These guys will not change. They adjust, they get on meds, things can get better, things will get worse but in the whole aspect of having a relationship with these guys, we have to make a decision to either tolerate their abuse or change our way of dealing with it. 

I know this sounds weird but they act like children. They throw fits when they don't get their way, they stomp away, they call names, they apologize, they cry, they get angry...repeat repeat. Remember that we wouldn't tolerate this from others. If you want their behavior to change, put your foot down and keep it there.

If their tone of voice changes, stop them.

If they call you names, stop them.

If they get angry, stop them. 

How? Stand up to them and say STOP. I will not tolerate your behavior. Im not your child but if you want to act like one, I will treat you like one. If you raise your voice, call me names, stomp your feet, throw a fit, you can go to your room. I will not tolerate your behavior. That is the end of the discussion. Now go. 

If they start talking, remind them. Im not dealing with this. Now go to bed, go to your friends, go for a walk. I do not have to tolerate it and won't. End the discussion.

They will try to start an argument, tell me, Im not talking to you until you stop acting like you're 3. 

It takes time but it works. 

Remember, they don't change. Meds take the edge off of them. All those who actually take meds, will say "I don't need these, Im fine." Tell them, its their choice. Make it wisely. The meds or you. Control in these relationships are huge. Let them know they are not in control of this, you are. 

I know it sounds harsh but after 17 years of marriage and 3 years of divorce STILL dealing with him, I know what has worked. Ive talked to hundreds of women who are dealing with these men. Co-dependancy is as hard to break as is there behavior.  BUT it has to start with someone. 

Hope this helps. 

You are absolutely right

You are absolutely right Jewwell.  They are like children and you end up being the parent which completely ruins the relationship.  The last thing I want to be is my husband's mother, but that is where it is.  And being a single parent of an adult is just the pits. 

So it seems

Interesting enough it is so hard to end. Even after divorce I find my self still attempting to do things like that but have to stop myself. It is difficult and nobody wants to parent their spouse. It seems that if you are willing to stay married, as I tell many women, be willing to parent these guys. That is what it unfortunately entails. :(

Amen to That!

And not only do you have to be the parent, but they resent you for it, and rebel, and do things to spite you, and around it goes. Very sad.

It's ridiculous...

It is exactly as you say - and to be honest, it is unfair to ask people to remain in a relationship that is so unbalanced and abusive.  I thought for a long time that things could and would change, but we have only been trapped in a circle of abuse and he only makes a little effort when he understands I am one foot out the door.  The head games and irresponsible behavior that radiates into the whole family is absolutely ridiculous.  

I believe there are people who have ADHD who work really hard to meet the needs of their spouses and to meet their own needs.  I believe there are people with ADHD who can make their relationships work, who care enough to do so.  I also know that there are people like my husband who prefer to always take the easiest way out and depend on everyone else to pick up the pieces.  As an adult, that is not acceptable or even rational behavior.  It's time people were called to account for what they are doing, not given excuses.

Ownership and Acceptance

The first step of fixing anything is to admit there is a problem.  The second is to identify the multiple issues influencing the problem.  Then you can start fixing the individual issues.  We can take ownership of our influences; enabling, treating like a child, disengaging, etc. but if the ADHD spouse does not take ownership and fix the issues they influence then the problem will not be fixed.  One can choose to live what is left of the problem, or not.  And there is no wrong answer.  It saddens me a great deal to see how many people with ADHD choose to not modify their behavior, or stop short.  Not only is it destructive to the relationship, but it curbs their potential as well.  Being ADHD is not a life sentence, it can be managed and they can thrive, and love and be loved.  The lightbulb must want to change and it seems so hard to identify the motivating catalyst.

I Feel Better Just Hearing...

"MANY women that are dealing with these guys will always want to help, see through the chaos and have hope. Hope is our greatest gift and our biggest downfall. "

That was beautifully said, and it is, unfortunately, me. Being a nurse, I naturally want to help someone in distress. If you have a problem, I want to fix it, a wound, I want to treat it. *Sigh!*

But as you said, enough is enough. I did help him, I have tried countless times to look past the abusive behavior and find hope, but I am fresh out-dried up. I have decided to end it, because, as you and everyone else says, they do not change. Perhaps if he had agreed to stay on the meds, I would have reason to hope. I refuse to live my life in an emotional turmoil, just hoping to be treated better today. And you know what? Here's the crazy part: I am a strong-willed, take-no-BS kind of girl from the South. I do not back down from a fight. I stand my ground and stand up for myself. Yet look at what's happening in my marriage. Behavior that I would never tolerate in a million years has become almost commonplace. And why? Remember the old story about how to boil a frog? Put him in room temperature water at first and he's happily swimming around. You keep gradually turning up the heat, and he does not notice the slight changes...until it's too late, and he's your dinner. This is what happens, it seems, in these "Codependent" relationships. We go through the whirlwind courtship, they are all charm and all about us, and we're hooked. Until one day, it changes-subtly. But it keeps changing, and we keep adjusting, and so on. That is how we end up here: frogs on a plate, if you will pardon my crude analogy. Codependency is an appropriate word, sad to say. Change does start with one person being willing to-I am going to be that person. It will probably break my heart to leave him and wash my hands clean of all this, but I am in the process of doing it now. Please, those of you who are Christians, pray for me! I need all the help I can get. My heart is heavy.

PS: I am curious, Jewwelll, what do you do?

I work with women that are

I work with women that are going through divorces. :(

It is hard to come to that decision. Its not failure, its coming to terms. Its what has to be done to save our own sanity. It is hard. I struggled with finding ways to help him even after the divorce.

The turmoil does end but even after you divorce him, he will try to keep you pulled into the madness. I am a strong woman also and will not take other peoples drama. I live to find peace and enjoyment which is difficult with these guys. Its not in them. They live in chaos and are attracted to women who want to help.

You'll find yourself stronger, happier, and more content. Work through the lonely times by finding something you like to do. Join a group, have lunch with friends, pottery, sports....anything to fill time. Journal your life to remember when they are "romantic and sweet" that you can remember what you go through the other times when they are "terrors and drama."


Boiled frogs

Yes the boiled from metaphor does work oh so well.  I just want to say I am sorry about the end of your marriage.  I wish you the best of luck in ending things as smoothly as possible and that you can rebuild a new better life.  I also hope the best for your husband, that he learns to act like the grown up he is and manage his own life.  Hope springs eternal.

Don't let someone label you as co-dependent

I don't believe women who love needy, selfish guys are usually co-dependent. In the book, "Women Who Love Psychopaths" (who are also very needy men), the women they studied rated exceptionally high in Cooperativeness, Self-directedness, and Self-transcendence/spirituality. They say that  men fairly devoid of these characteristics seek out women who are high in them so they can catch the overflow, so to speak.

They note that cooperativeness is a risk factor for her. She is friendly, so she is approachable; compassionate so she can connect to his "struggles in life"; tolerant so she can endure his antics; supportive so she can help him; empathetic so she never stops listening and hoping. Empathy will keep her in the relationship way beyond the point of sanity, sometimes hooked by their "sad" history. Her high tolerance level causes her to keep telling herself that it isn't that bad. Universally these women were found to have high levels of trust, as in "blind trust." She has high levels of an unusual kind of loyalty, known in recovery circles as "insane loyalty," which make it difficult for her to leave the relationship.

She is frequently very self-directed, benefiting his illusion of stability, and masking his manipulation and coercion. But her self-directedness will eventually cause cognitive dissonance in her when "his talk doesn't match his walk." Self-transendent women also like to encourage others to self-transend. She is more focused on the intrinsic meaning of life. A woman who was lower in self-directedness/reliability would never have taken on a person with such low functionality.  But of course, there is no way in the beginning to know that this person was unable to reach his highest potential because of the hardwiring of his brain.

I know "psychopath, sociopath, or narcissist" seem like harsh terms, but the descriptions line right up with a lot of the individuals described in this site, for both needy individuals and the women who take them on (the traits research was from women only). These women are NOT co-dependent or otherwise unstable (at least not at first...) They are exceptionally strong, intelligent, gifted, caring people who are, unfortunately, also naive. Read it and see if the shoe fits. After putting up with incredible circumstances, we do not deserve to be labeled as unstable contributors.


How Could You Know?

How could you know, Lynnie, that that is exactly what I needed to hear? I have struggled with the suspicion that perhaps I have become codependent. I have felt this way because of the very traits you point to in the researched women. Regardless of what I have endured, I still care very much for his welfare. Even as I plan my exit strategy, I feel guilty when I think of depositing my full paycheck into my own account. What will he do? How will he survive? I am so fiercely loyal to him, and to us, still. It seems ridiculous, and maybe codependent, but I have always been that way with those I love.

I am sure I have sustained psychological wounds during all of this, but crazy, I am not. I know this is unhealthy. My DH is somewhat of a narcissist, but he is not crazy either. Something in him sees the traits you mentioned in me, so he stays, though I have heard "I'm done" a thousand times.

Thank you for affirming the positive traits that brought me to this place, however bad it is now. After all the beating yourself up you do during this drama, I needed to hear that- your empathy is touching.

The term is not to suggest

The term is not to suggest that we are unstable. If it offended, my apologies. It is how I view what I did with my ex. I didn't want to see him fail and hoped for years that it would change. If you view co-dependency as a bad thing on OUR part, it is not intended. We are strong women and can handle a ton of things on ourselves. Im a little shocked that it was read into as being unstable.

Definition of Co-Dependent

ADHD symptoms in a spouse have brought many strong women (including myself) to their knees.  There is a common response to feeling so out of control...to try to take more control.  Here is the definition of co-dependence as given by Melodie Beatty in her book "Co-Dependent No More."

"A co-dependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior."

This describes a lot of (but not all) non-ADHD spouses who've been struggling for many years - particularly if their partner was undiagnosed.  After a while it seems as if the only way out of the quagmire is to "force" the ADHD partner to get help, to do things differently (or a certain way), etc.  Another set of words for it is "parent/child dynamics" - at least at the extreme end of parent/child behavior.  In my eyes, moving toward co-dependency is a pretty understandable response to the endless ups and downs of living with non-treated ADHD.  But, once identified, co-dependency should be moved away from as quickly as is humanly possible.

Co-dependency doesn't make you a bad person.  Nor does having ADHD make you a "psychopath, sociopath, or narcissist," either.  Remember that the descriptions of people with ADD on this site are often written by non-ADHD people, through the lens of significant pain and, often, not complete understanding of the motives or stressors their partners experience.  This isn't to say the people with ADHD don't have problems or aren't behaving badly, but I take issue with your suggesting that the non-ADHD women are NOT co-dependent or unstable when their own words suggest that they may be feeling unstable at a minimum, and the men ARE psychopathic etc. based on the stories of their partners.  Or, as I sometimes discover when I start talking in depth with couples, the relationship tends to be more subtle (and interesting) than originally portrayed (for example, the storyteller often does not see his or her role in the dynamics of the story...)

RE: Codependency

First of all, I want to say that I know where both Jewell and Lynnie were coming from. One was saying that this was how she felt in her particular situation, and I did identify with that. I also appreciate that Lynnie would feel empathy enough to say what she did, which was very valid. I am guessing that her response may stem from a personal place: one of feeling like, after enduring much, we are so often labeled negatively, in spite of all we tried to do to make things work.

While I do not think I have become codependent, I know that I have allowed his behavior to affect me greatly. I can only try to do something about it now. Thank you all for your valuable insight and feedback. I do not judge either way, I am just glad to have this support system.

This may be a controversial perspective

Ok I have what may be a controversial perspective.  It could be that he just didn’t want to talk to you and that he was enjoying a break.   His trip to Vegas to see a friend and his not going with you on your trip may be as simple as “I need some space away from you”.    So you text him, he doesn’t reply, you  call him, he doesn’t reply.   He may be thinking to himself,  ok so what do I do get on the phone and tell her to leave me alone for a few days, or do I answer and miss out on the space I am enjoying??   He is probably getting a little frustrated by now because really 2 days is nothing, and now  you have the sh*** with him cause he wants some space and your insistence that he talks to you is intruding. 

So he forgot to pay his college bill, he worked some extra shifts right? Will the sky fall in over this?   With regard to the trip he most likely just didn’t want to go, or would rather go to Vegas and visit his friend, sometimes it's just great when my wife leaves me alone for a while, freakin fantastic even.. I can just breath out and relax without feeling the great controller is about to hit me between the eyes with a hammer at any moment, but in truth I  really do love her to death.  

So it sounds like you are into a pattern of being the controller, however well-intentioned that may be he will resent it.  You will resent thinking you need to be the parent, and boy I can tell you he will resent being treated like a child.

So, also he may have shits because you are working less and earning less, and lack of money is a stress.   I have been in this situation, where I said to my wife pretty much what your husband said to you. 

She was miserable in her 9-5 job and never had good things to say about it. So I told her to do whatever she had to do to be happy.    In the 10 years we have been together she has only been full time that once, and then only for about 2 years,  meanwhile I have worked long hours the whole time, and we have constantly struggled with money AND her  unhappiness over not having the house she wants.   Anyway there was a time when this annoyed the crap out of me… she would criticise me for not pulling  my weight and then I would work long hours while she got to pursue “whatever it was that was going to make her happy”   I *resented* that I  had to do all the heavy lifting income wise and could never get off the hamster wheel to pursue things that may make me happy.     These days I have learned to just roll with the punches.   We do alright and really income wise we are in the scheme of things well off.      But like I said I really *really* harboured a lot of anger and resentment over this for a long time, and of course this is made worse by being criticised for not “pulling my weight”   hey,  I understand it a lot more these days and have chilled a heap.

 See for me this whole dynamic is clear as day, it drives me completely nuts when my partner calls me all the time about something that can wait… it’s just another *distraction*.        It’s not a sign that he doesn’t love you, it’s a sigh that he is overwhelmed, and he wishes you would temporarily leave him alone.

As for his constant explosions and references to breaking up or divorcing or whatever,  he  has no filter,  he thinks it,  and instead of taking mental time to bounce it around and filter it before saying it, he blurts it out, he pretty soon forgets he said it,  and tries to get back to normal.

If you take this stuff to heart, or personally it will drive you insane.  

Take the time to do this little exercise in your own head to see what it like… make a conscious effort to be aware of the thoughts that you are thinking, especially when interacting with people.    You will notice that you have lots of thoughts that you don’t say….  “ I can’t believe he wore *that* tie”,  “ I wonder if she looked in the mirror this morning” “man that guy has a massive ears, what a wing-nut”  smiling at the boss you might be thinking you really want to tell them they are massive dickhead etc.. 

Well we really suck at this kind of filtering, and I am always saying the wrong stuff and spending a lot of time extricating my foot from my mouth, and I am in the more controlled spectrum of ADHD in this regard. Many of us have *no* control, an ADHD friend of mine was like this and got beaten to death outside a bar one night cause he just could not keep his wise cracks to himself. Being this way can be really dangerous. 

Lots of us lose jobs constantly because we tell the boss to go jump….no forward consequence filter see?

 A lot the stuff you describe sounds like plain vanilla ADHD behavior to me, and to be blunt you sound like a highly strung and emotionally reactive kind of person.   This can be a challenge, but my wife and I are similar and while it has lots of challenges it can work.

Anyway, I am rambling, but best advice I could give is to set some boundaries on what is important to you, and don’t mother him, you will both learn to hate each other for it.   And again don't take this at all personally but try not to be a  drama queen,  just set clear boundaries, stick to them and be matter of fact and try to shrug of the irrational explosions if you can ( I really *do* know this sounds easier than it is)

Good luck :)

Boundaries and frustration

I am watching his car pull out of the driveway this morning.  He has not said a word to me at all, not even Good Bye.  I am not a thing in his life OR he is punishing me for something again by ignoring me, or he doesn't want me to know where he is going.  I have told him over and over how important it is to me for him to say Good Bye when he leaves and let me know where he is going.

Very helpful reply...when a

Very helpful reply...when a non-ADHD spouse can read this and not be defensive, you know they're getting somewhere in this journey. I actually was shaking my head "YES!" more than once...and I am the non-ADHD wife, my husband has these filter issues, need to be left alone temporarily, overwhelm, etc. Love this. Thank you!

For Your Enlightenment...

"...to be blunt you sound like a highly strung and emotionally reactive person"??? I must say, after dealing with the abusive behavior of my DH for years now, that statement is astonishingly insensitive. Further, you are speaking from a lack of information. The truth is, when there is any issue, I first pray about it, and then approach him with a calm and respectful manner. Many things are triggers for him, especially money, so I take extra care to communicate on that subject. If he or myself become triggered, I suggest we table the issue until we can talk about it rationally. Of course, I have lost my cool in the past, and that is on me, but I am taking steps to deal with my own issues constructively, as we all have them.

The sudden $700 student loan payment, due immediately because he did not deal with it, is just one incidence of this sort in a looong line of others, leading to a depleted bank account. Yet this is not what I even wished to speak with him about during my trip, when he ignored my messages. I simply wanted to say hello and see how things were going with him. Further, I only texted him once, in response to his text, followed by a call right after, because many times, he does not hear a text, but he hears the phone ring. After that, I did not message him for two days. Finally, I had to ask if he received my message, because of a pressing work issue. Trust me, the last thing I want is to talk to him when he is acting like a jerk.  He, however, avoided speaking with me, assuming I was going to jump him over the money. Not so. I simply chalked it up to "Had to be paid...live and learn," and did not give him a hard time about it. Nor did I give him a hard time about wasting money in Vegas, when we did not have it- it was just not worth getting into. Another thing I make sure to do is GIVE HIM SPACE when he is upset. Why? Because A: He is not fun to be around,  B. It is loving and respectful to give someone space when they are upset, and finally C. Nothing is accomplished anyway when you pursue someone if they are angry.

Finally, as for the financial situation, I am actually the main bread-winner in our little household, as I earn more money, and work more hours. He works Per-Diem, therefor, his hours are unpredictable. If I, for a time, reduced my hours, owing to Depression over our situation, well, sometimes these things need to be done for our sanity. Also, he should not have resentment, because I personally put him through school, doing a job I hated, for two years, with the agreement that I would be able to stop working and return to school upon his graduation. Of course, now that he has graduated, we "can't afford" for me to go back to school.  He, by the way, did not bother to get a job to help out when I was putting him through school, though I often found him sitting on the couch, playing X-Box.

That being said, Jon, he finally, in a moment of honesty, admitted he has been unnecessarily hateful and has said many unforgivable things to me, and is beginning to see the truth in the "lack of filter" phenomenon, etc. I, in turn, recognize and own that I have played a part in these destructive patterns. I love him very much, regardless of what we have endured, and pray for full restoration in our marriage. We are scheduled to BOTH get evaluated by an ADHD-trained Psychiatrist.

Meantime, perhaps you can remember that the "controlling behavior" you see in your wife just may be because she feels she has to step up if she wants anything to be accomplished, and remember to put yourself in another's shoes before you cast judgment on them.


I think I must have some kind

I think I must have some kind of disorder because although I agree with a lot of what Jon said, obviously, there are parts where I do feel he needs the "enlightenment" you speak of as well after re-reading his response today.

Jon, we weren't born 'controllers'. For every ounce of your being that hates being controlled, there is an equally disgusted part of ours that hates the role as well. If you get NOTHING else today, please get that. It helps to change the dynamics entirely when the two people in the tug o' war are able to fully accept the position the other is in. There is a HUGE amount of fear involved in the controlling we do. When I say it was one of the hardest things I ever did, letting go of that control, I mean it. I MEAN IT. Can I look back now and see that my 'control' was an illusion? Sure. Can I look back now and see that my 'controlling' was a big part of the problem? Sure. A counselor put it to me like this once...when you don't grow up in chaos (my home life was VERY boring and 'cookie cutter') then when you see behaviors that are red flags you react. You react immediately and with force. Imagine you have been an animal lover all of your life and you see someone beating a puppy. Do you calmly approach the situation with control and try and handle the situation as an adult with full respect for the other person or do you get instantly angry and step in on behalf of the puppy? You're completely unfamiliar with, uncomfortable with the situation so you feel confusion, anger, and you react according to what your gut tells you needs to be done to stop the chaos (abuse of the puppy). We are often VERY wrong in how we react, especially when you toss in the ADHD aspect of the person to whom we are reacting, but it is often quite late in the game when we figure this out and the vicious cycle is already in place and extremely hard to break free from. We don't do this because it makes us happy or because we want to...we do it because we are terrified of not doing it. It doesn't work, we know this...but it is inherent to who we are and the only way we know how to TRY and maintain our marriages, sanity, and lives. Terrified...emphasis on that word. Before I finally GOT IT, that my 'controlling' was wrecking my marriage, I would say to my husband "I don't want to control you, I want YOU to have more self control" Living with someone with ADHD IS, quite often, a constant state of 'waiting for the other shoe to drop'. You need to know and understand this. I didn't grow up with college bills not being paid, parents who withdrew from each other, parents who felt that a couple of days away from each other was OK without any contact, etc.

YOU need to know all of this and BELIEVE all of this just as WE need to know about the 'filter' thing and all of the other stuff you posted about...or things will never change. You seem to 'tolerate' "the controller" because "I love her" but I would argue that that isn't the right attitude and just as equally damaging as our tolerance of ADHD behaviors without understanding of them. When you can TRULY wrap your mind around why this person that you love is the way he/she is then you can truly start to change things within yourself that can, and often DO, result in changes within the other person as well. I am a firm believer that the more each of us tries to truly look at our spouses through understanding eyes, the more we try and put ourselves in each other's shoes, the more our issues with each other will resolve themselves. When I finally realized that my 'controlling' was an illusion that I had fooled myself into living for far too many years, I did let go of it...and my husband almost lost his life. Talk about TERRIFYING. He lost his job and we were nearly financially and emotionally destroyed in the 9 months following my 'letting go'. But, today he is a much stronger person because of it (he KNOWS I am not micro-managing his life for him anymore and he has taken on the role of managing himself quite well!) and I am a changed person because I now have the proof that he can be his own person and make his own mistakes without me having to stand over him like a mother hen. As I said before, the feeling that the next crisis is always looming never goes away completely, but I feel we are far more equipped emotionally to handle these things now. I pray that they are much fewer and more far between now that he seems to recognize the damage they cause to the entire family, so far, so good.

Carmen, one thing I would urge you to try and understand...what was going through your mind when you were trying to contact him and what HE was thinking was going through your mind are very likely two very different things. Even if your motives were purely innocent, even if you just missed him and wanted to talk, there is a very good chance that you didn't give that 'vibe' to him OR he was paranoid about his 'mistake' enough to be avoiding you regardless of what you said. There is never a "normal communication" in these marriages, and I say that with all due respect. We have the 'controlling' urge and they have the 'avoidance' urge so these two things have to take priority during any communication and we have to learn to be concise and to the point and then be done with it and they have to learn to acknowledge our concerns and address them...eventually. If you truly wanted to just say Hi then text and say "I miss you, just wanted to say 'hi'" and IF you get a phone call or response, make it a point not to bring up other things because it just feels like 'bait' to them and they learn not to trust our 'innocent' motives anymore. I realize the loan/money issue needed a resolution, but most of the time you just need to decide what YOU can contribute to the conversation to help resolve the issue and then wait and see what he is willing to contribute. He is going to avoid you when things like this happen...it is just how they operate. It is how they survive. I have learned that the quicker I address an issue, state my feelings, and then move onto the next subject the more he is willing to address issues with me. He is learning to feel certain that if he'll just address an issue with me, that I won't beat it like a dead horse. I am learning that a 2 minute conversation about something has to be enough and I get to the point very quickly. He does not avoid me very often these days. But, when I know that he is...I leave him alone...100%. He will, 95% of the time, approach me about the subject eventually. Just remember that just because YOU are thinking one thing does not mean that he is thinking the same...and no matter what your M.O. was, no matter how innocent your attempts to reach out were, that wasn't where his mind was and that is why you two were on very opposite ends of that battle. He does not think like you, he will often be in 'defensive' mode...and in a very balanced way we have to help them learn that we aren't going to 'jump' them for every mistake they make. We truly do, or at least I myself did, set them up to have that belief because for many years it was our reality. I reacted to EVERYTHING with the intensity of a lioness protecting her babies...even if it didn't show on the outside, on the inside I was constantly wound up and ready to snap at any given time.

How are things going, generally speaking? I saw where you two are going to counseling?

I'm sorry..

...but what?  "A highly strung and emotionally reactive kind of person.."?  That is a horrible thing to say to someone you don't even know.

Personally, I am tired of hearing that there are limitations on what a person with ADHD can do, that they require special treatment all the time, that they can't/won't communicate so get over it... and that they don't have self control.  That to me is bs.  I have a child with severe ADHD and have had two husbands with it - I'm sorry, but you absolutely can control things.  My husband controls things very well at work and with his friends.  He may need a bit of extra time to himself, but as he doesn't treat other people with the disdain he treats me, I know he can control it.

Plus, being a relationship with someone where you don't know when the other shoe is going to drop (and it pretty much always does) will make you overly sensitive, Jon.  If you don't pay extra attention to what is happening, you could end up homeless, bankrupt, your house burned down... oh, the list goes on.  Let's just be blunt about this - not responding to your wife when she calls you repeatedly - rude.  The onus is not on the over functioning spouse to be more controlled and "perfect", it is on both of the spouses to challenge themselves in the areas where they are weak.  An over functioner needs to let go as the under functioner begins to pick up their slack.  It goes both ways, all of the time.

This reminds me

I am fascinated by the stories in this thread/posting - they are all about regaining control of your lives to diminish anger in yourself and your relationship - EXACTLY what needs to be done.  Figure out where your own boundaries are, act as YOU wish to act in order to be proud of your responses and yourself (if you have my book, see the chapter on boundaries for more on this).

The thread reminds me of what we used to say to our kids when they were younger and started to throw a tantrum in order to get their way (by any means!).  My husband and I both would respond in EXACTLY the same way every time, with these words:  "Tantrums don't work.  When you're ready to talk with me about what you want, please come find me."  Now I don't suggest those words should be used exactly as is for an adult partner, but how about a consistent response that engages the partner and invites them to engage with you?  Perhaps something like "I would love to talk with you about that, but not when one of us is angry.  Let's talk about it when you've calmed down."  And then, of course, when they do come back (if they do) then it is important to listen to their point of view.

This would (theoretically) work when the spouse wants something from you.

When you want something from your spouse then it's reversed a bit.  "I would like to talk with you about XYZ because I think it's important, but want the conversation to be constructive, rather than angry.  When might be a good time?"  You then need to pursue the partner until you get your hearing.  In a nice way, of course.

Thank you, Melissa. I would like your thoughts:

Your insight is much appreciated. I must admit, though, I am frustrated beyond belief. After the "breakthroughs" we have had, with him admitting he may have an issue and agreeing to see the doctor, things are still such a mess.

What I mean is that, while he finally owned the fact that he has been soo out of line with how he has spoken to/treated me over small issues, these things keep happening. For instance, just two days ago, I politely asked him to postpone playing his guitar while I watched a movie. It had been a long, hard work day for me, and he had been home all day. Of course, when I finally sit down to relax is when he wants to make a lot of noise. Long story short, he blew up- this time, the tantrum culminated in him telling me he hated me and could not believe we got married, that he thought it would fix things, but it could never BE fixed, because "you just don't get it." I, apparently, was a "selfish [email protected][email protected]" (yes, he called me that name) because he could not do exactly what he wanted, when he wanted-never mind the fact that I live there too. BTW, we have a small one-bedroom apartment, so it is pretty impossible to do these things without affecting the other person. In the end, he relented, saying he was "psycho," and did not deserve me. Progress perhaps? Or not, because the next day, something very similar happened again, owing to a very small incident. I am looking into separation as we speak.

He is scheduled to go to the psychiatrist on the 11th of this month, so I am trying to decide what to do with that. I went to the doctor the other day and was prescribed an antidepressant, an anxiety medication, as well as meds for insomnia. I am hopeful about that, at least. At this point, I just feel unjustly attacked/abused. Staying just sends the message that this treatment is ok. Any thoughts? I do not have an easy out right now, by the way. If I was to move out for a while, it would take quite a bit of doing.

I'm not married, so I realize

I'm not married, so I realize that my perspective is different.  I have, however, gone through a similar struggle with my boyfriend (now ex) for about a year and a half now.  He suffers from really, really severe ADHD. In August, he wanted to marry me and be the father to my children.  Now, he wants to have nothing to do with me.  He did the same thing - threaten to break up, actually break up, then we'd make up and move forward.  I came THIS close to walking down the aisle because I thought that finally we'd have the stability that we'd both been longing for.  We love each other, I thought, and when things are good, they are really good.  Only problem was he was impulsive, said a million things he later told me he didn't mean, could never finish anything he started, promised me things and then didn't follow through...  He finally told me that he'd done nothing but hurt me and wasn't good for me (now that I look back on it, probably true).  The point is this - no one deserves to be called names.  No one deserves to constantly be on edge about whether or not this time, when he says he is going to leave, he might actually walk out of the door.  No one needs to question whether or not he truly wants to be married to you, or if he means it when he tells you that it's a mistake and he hates you.  Telling you those things is unfair to you.  I also think something else is going on with my ex boyfriend besides the ADHD, but you can only encourage someone to get help for so long until you have to take care of yourself, too.  I wanted so much to help my boyfriend, but I realized that in trying to help him, I was really hurting myself.  (Not to sound like I am on a high horse, though, because it took him saying things that were just unforgivable for me to get to this point).

Staying or leaving is your choice, and I know that it's not something anyone can or SHOULD get you to do unless and until you decide that is what you want.  It sounds like it's not, so I really hope that things work out at the psychiatrist's office.  This is my only advice - remember to take care of YOURSELF too.  

Are we living parallel lives

Are we living parallel lives or what? Appx 2-3 months ago my husband, who also plays guitar, started playing guitar without his headphones. I asked him if he would please put on his headphones as he had ALWAYS done and I got a very similar (ANGRY!) reaction from him. I was 'ruining the one thing' he enjoyed most and he denied ever using headphones. I honestly wonder sometimes how I remain in touch with reality when I live with someone who truly has such a different recall of events than myself. God as my witness, he always wore the headphones so he wouldn't disturb us. Best I could figure, he had just simply decided he wanted to hear himself and be loud and he was going to convince himself of whatever he had to in order to justify his sudden change of plans. We have a small home so when he plays, no one else can hear themselves think. So..now when he plays, we all just live with it.

The horrible words you are hearing are, as I said before, I feel just an attempt to manipulate you into never mentioning his playing again. He wants to play when he wants to play and you're not supposed to have an opinion or feeling about it. I don't know how else to put it, this is the "the world revolves around me" attitude that you can so often see with someone who has ADHD and untreated. The "I'm psycho and don't deserve you" is also a ploy...it is an invitation for you to 'rescue' him and an attempt to twist the situation (which should be about his behaviors and how inappropriate they are) into being about how he is the victim and how you need to reassure him that he IS deserving of you...and then you resent him...and he continues to behave disrespectfully and around and around you go. It isn't progress, it is more of the same.

I recently had this same thing happen to me "I will just never be anything but a disappointment to you and [our daughter]" I told him to stop making himself the victim, that he had choices everyday just like the rest of us..and if he chose the behavior that was hurtful to us, then he had no one to blame but himself. It wasn't about "deserving" someone as much as just about making choices that don't HURT those who love you and trust you...and believe in you.

ALL of this is manipulating behavior. The blow ups...the pity party...all of it. I am NOT trying to be discouraging to you..I am trying to help you be aware of what is really happening and how YOU can change your reactions in order to make things better. You cannot change anything is you're not aware of what is truly going on. Truth of the matter is, I don't know that any of it, on their part, is intentional...it is just how they have learned to react, cope, get their way, etc. They never learned healthy ways, compromise, and owning up to their wrong doings. I can directly attribute this to my husband's childhood and his very unhealthy example of how two adults who are married interact with each other, get the things they want from each other, etc. The ADHD, I feel, is just an added complication.

Lastly, I feel that leaving isn't always the only option...and that you can relay to them that the behaviors are not OK without leaving. It is very hard, it takes a lot of strength and patience, a lot of control over your own emotions and a lot of courage to stand in what you believe and not let their words be daggers that poke holes in your own truth and what you know to be right. Sometimes it takes weeks, if not months, of standing your ground, maintaining control of your emotions, and setting and STICKING to boundaries before things might change...even just an inch..for the better. Other times, you can start to see improvement with some issues in just a couple of occurrences.

What I have come to know as the truth for my marriage, the more defensive his behaviors/attitude about something the more likely there is some kind of guilt attatched to it. OR, like with the guitar situation for me and my marriage, I think he is feeling like he's compromised SO MUCH that he simply wasn't willing to compromise on that anymore and instead of just saying "I would like to play without my headphones now" and doing it in a way/at a time/at a level that we could all agree on he just completely lied and pitched a fit to avoid having to compromise anymore. I say this because I get the line "I have already compromised a lot" quite often these days...and I try and point out that it isn't a compromise if you're going to throw it up in someone's face. Compromise is about sacrifice. Marriage is about sacrifice. Do it for the good of the marriage or don't do it at all, ya know? Your husband may be getting so defensive about 'being told what do to' (they often see it that way) because of the upcoming doctor's appt. He may feel defensive because he feels like you're thinking if HE gets help that everything will be perfect (i.e. HE is the only problem the marriage has). There could be any number of things going on, but it definitely sounds like he's on the defensive. I am usually fair good at ignoring this kind of thing if I can put my finger on what I feel is the 'reason' behind it. If I let it get to me, and take it personally, I end up making a huge mess and regretting it. You think to yourself "he really thinks horribly of me simply because I don't want him to play his guitar" and you feel guilty and you feel sad that the man that you love would think such horrible things about you. However, the belief I am starting to adopt is that it really isn't about us at all...but more about how they feel about themselves and deflection of fault in order to prevent any further bad feelings of themselves. This is huge for me...because almost immediately I find myself feeling sad and worried that he would think so badly of me...and that kind of thinking is what has been my horrible contribution to our marriage (and fights) for the last 6-8 years. The more I put my faith in God and the more I start to believe that I AM an OK person and that I am NOT some monster out to destroy his life and every shot of happiness he has, the better I start to control myself and the better he starts to respond.

Pray...pray...and pray some more. If God wants you to walk away, even if only temporarily, He will let you know...and you won't have any doubts or second thoughts.



It seems to be their pattern. I call it doctor jeckle and mr hyde. My ex would do that. They would go through the, You did this, You did that, Im sorry, Forgive me, I hate you, I know I need help. It was always a cycle that continued on forever. The cycle doesn't change. Its either we deal with it or leave it. I never understood why they cycled. It was like they forgot what they just did or said. He would always look at me like he couldn't understand why I was mad at him. Like he wasn't there listening to himself. I didn't understand it became too much for me.

I have to head home. Ill get on here when I get there and write more. 

Huggs and Hold on.



Why would that be appropriate, Melissa?  I can't understand the advice that "you should.... until you are heard..."  You seem to be encouraging people to give more, try harder - but mostly from this post to accept that their partners will behave like children.

Karly, why is what

Karly, why is what appropriate??  I know that dealing with my ex, he acted like a child. I had to come to the conclusion with him over 17 years plus 3 post divorce, that he will not change. He has his ups and downs and doesn't accept responsibility for what he does. Its not about trying harder, I just came to the point that I had to either accept him for who he was or limit my conversations with him. Even 3 years post divorce, I have to limit conversation. Im not sure what you are refering to as appropriate and looked back through the post and couldn't find it. Sorry.  I can only relate what I have dealt with and concluded to. 

Have a hard time...

I have a hard time understanding how this is good.  I have done just this as well - all the management.  I just can't get happy about a marriage that takes so much work and gives so little anymore.  I feel like I need someone I can actually trust for a change.  I don't want to have to patrol boundaries every day for the rest of my life.

I am the poster child..

...for whom the marriage didn't work out, and I still visit the site every so often.  It helps me cope with my reality and understand I'm not alone.  Your situation is exactly like mine...see below.

And like Sherrie said, past verbal agreements don't mean anything.  He resented me for the very things he asked me to do, like write down what household chores needed to be done, helping him wake up, etc.  He asked for help then chastised me for belittling him...huh???

Oh Boy

When you say that he chastised you for exactly what he asked you to do...that is my pain right now. He tells me to quit because he can't stand how my boss treats me, then I am at fault when not enough money is in the bank(although I did not even quit-I knew better, I saw this coming. I just cut back on hours). You feel like the parent of an errant teenager. Of course, after reading some of the book, this is obviously the "Parent-Child Dynamic," so regardless of the past, it needs to be changed. I want to be a team, not adversaries. Fortunately, he has shown he is open to learning about this disorder and what can be done, so here's hoping. I am sorry your situation ended badly.

Thank you


Thank you for your candid and vulnerable response. I know all that you said is true, and I know I, too, had to fight the urge to exert control in such uncertain circumstances. It is definitely true as well, that his head was not in the same place mine was. It is not possible that I gave him the "vibe that I would jump him"(lol), because we were 3,500 miles apart, and I just said "Oh, ok, give me a call," but I am sure that he expected me to come down on him, and so avoided me. That has been his answer throughout life for situations he can not handle-shut down or run away. I believe what I have heard so many times: God brings some people into our lives as mirrors, to help bring out both their and your issues. In other words, you attract someone who will challenge that part of you that needs work, and vice-versa.

You are so brave to openly speak of your struggle with control. I feel lucky that all of this has come to a head now, relatively early in our relationship, so we can work through it and move ahead. Thank you, also, for your support on the issues mentioned by Jon-I suppose I felt a bit unjustly attacked!

In answer to your question, things have been getting better and healthier every day. He has admitted he may just have this thing called ADHD and agreed to be evaluated. We each have separate appointments set up for next week to see an ADHD-specializing Psychiatrist. We have also begun reading the book The Total Money Makeover, by David Ramsey, and it has been revolutionary! My stepmother, an accountant, gave it to us as a wedding gift(ironic, yes...), and since then, we have set up a budget, and have agreed on a financial/life goals plan that we are both abiding by. As I have said, money is probably THE biggest issue to my DH, and myself, so dealing with this, though painful and humbling, is the best thing we ever did. Just by setting up this budget, we both have a newfound respect and affection for each other. We are both working as many hours as we can, and sacrificing to get rid of debt. If anyone has been struggling financially, please read this book-it will open your eyes and change your life!

Of course, I know that this is just the first step in a long journey, but I have renewed hope and believe that, with God at the center, we can make it. Praise God!!


Bad News


I thank you for your support in this drama I am dealing with. Wanted to give you, and all, an update. My DH went to the dr, was diagnosed with ADHD, and was prescribed Strattera. He took the first part of the trial pack, and I was super excited, thinking, this could be the road back! Not so much, as about 2 weeks later, he declares one day that he does not need meds or counseling, and will do neither. He does not believe he has an "issue." In response to me pointing out all the questions he himself has asked about why he does certain things as he does, he replied, "That's just me. I'm selfish. I want what I want, and that's it. I'm sorry, I guess I'm a d&*^%, but that's how I feel."

This came after a particularly negative experience, when I had had a heinous work week, and just wanted to come home and have dinner with him. He agreed to be there at 8 pm, when I would get home from work. Well, suffice to say, he blew me off when I called him 7 hours later on my way home. He said he had "already made plans to write music with the band before he made plans with me, and that was of utmost importance to him." I suppose of course, that means that his word to me meant less to him, and I was easier to blow off, although I needed his emotional support so badly at that time. Later, he claimed not to know how much I needed him to be there, or he would have been. Yet, this is one of countless examples I could relate, in which I come second to whatever his endeavor is at the moment.

There is a pervasive aura of hostility in our house, and during one really silly argument, he presented me with divorce papers, which I signed, and up until now, he has not done a thing to move forward with it. THerefore, I guess it is up to me. I refuse to stay in a marriage where not only am I treated badly, but my husband is not willing to do his basic part to make it work.

What are your thoughts??


Debidoo973's picture


Cbrooks, It must be even doubly hard for you as a Christian to contemplate divorce, huh? I personally was married to a Naricissistic man for 17 years who treated me & our kids very badly (HE came first, always! Our needs were considered a "burden") yet the church we were in did not approve of my desire to leave the marriage because there were no "biblical reasons". (I.E. Sexual Adultery). I was so mad at the preacher for expecting me to stay in the hell-hole of a relationship like that for that kind of reason that I responded with, "I can fix that!", or something to that effect, lol. Seriously. Sounds like your husband doesn't even put God first, even his this band is a church band. I'd be willing to bet he is a Narcissist too because he sounds pretty damn wrapped up in his own needs. You may want to look up the traits of that Personality Disorder, hun, because guess what? Those people don't usually ever get better, even with therapy because the they are too shame-sensitive to ever accept the truth that THEY are the problem, & they just continue on going to therapy for the whining they do about how unfair life is to them. They tend to feel entitled to having everything they want & get quite rageful when they don't get it. I ache for the hurt you are feeling. The complete disregard. The worthlessness. I stay with my BF bc he hurts inside when he sees what choosing his kids does to me. He's never had to choose with someone before bc his ex never wanted to be with any of them. And he HAS cancelled on his kids after I told him how badly I needed him on a night he was supposed to see ME anyway. (He felt like a schmuck disappointing his kids he said. So I said "Wouldn't you feel like just as much of a schmuch, or worse, disappointing ME, whom u already had plans with, even though u couldn't reach me to confirm, so u automatically just assumed I'd be okay with u changing them then to see your kids instead?!?") Omg, I was soooooo pissed that day!!!! If he didn't cancel with his kids that night, I'm sure I would have left him for good. But at least with my BF, there are signs of hope & change. I have also learned that his own father does much the same thing, so this is a learned behavior, not necessarily that I don't mean much to him, so that helps me deal with it a lot better. But back to you, hun. I think you really should pursue the divorce AND check the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You are not the crazy one. You have not asked for too much. And your emotional health will only continue to get worse if u stay. Trust me, even with God's grace supposing to be "enough," I still ended up in the suicide-watch dept of the psych ward 4 times back in 2006-2008 until I finally left the marriage (and subsequently the religion) in 2009. I'm here for you. (((Hugs!)))

Debi, you are so kind

I want to thank you for your kind and sensitive response to my painful situation. I also apologize for the delayed response...sometimes I feel I have to step back from always being IN this for a few days, to try and get some sanity back, you know?

Anyway, I am glad that you and your bf are working on things, it is good to know that a man out there can honestly self-evaluate and make changes when necessary. He also came through when you needed him that day, so that is great! I know it will be messy to construct and enforce boundaries, but it is worth it.

As for me, I am still on the hampster wheel...lol. For instance, after working so many hours I got physically sick and had to miss work a few days, I lost my second job. Now that there is not nearly as much money in the account, DH is freaking out, and becoming belligerently accusatory about how selfish I am, among other horrible character flaws. Yesterday, he finally lost it, screaming at me "It's not hard. Get a job and keep it." After name-calling and gut-wrenching verbal attacks, I lost it. I told him how selfish HE was, and what about the second job he promised to get? Why is our budget all on my shoulders? Aren't you the man here?? He spat out bitterly, "It doesn't [email protected]#$ing matter anyway. You will never change. This doesn't work. You don't care about us. I'm looking for apartments and getting the hell out of here. You make me miserable." To which I said, "Great! The faster the better. No, this doesn't work, and I don't think things will change either, because you can't see yourself for who you really are."

Fast forward to later in the day. I have applied for ten positions in another state. He finds this out and is hurt, saying, "Oh, so I guess you don't want to try and make this work." Whaaat the....?? Yes, Debi, I think Narcissistic is about right. They want what they want, when they want it, and to heck with your needs or desires or dreams. Those things, and you, come second to whatever he is doing at the moment. I am putting things in place right now to start a new life, away from him. The horrible thing is, yes, I still love him. I wish I could take it out of my heart right now, but I know it will fade in time. It just makes it more painful now. Suggestions?

I have been with my ADD

I have been with my ADD husband for 31 years.  It really doesn't get better, but I have found a way to survive.  This may sound impossible to do, but you need to have ZERO expectations of him, and either learn to self-soothe (which I am very good at now) or find your emotional support outside of the marriage.  I don't know what I would do without my girlfriends.  If you don't have any children, I think it would be in your best interest to leave.  I am a strong Christian and I don't take my vows lightly, but if I had known before I had children, I would have ended the relationship.   Your husband is NOT CAPABLE of being your best friend or even your emotional equal.  He isn't normal.  (John don't even comment!  Sorry but it is true.)  Basically you have to have a life outside of your marriage just to SURVIVE your marriage.  My husband and I get along because we spend most of our time apart.  I work and go to the gym for over an hour almost every day.  We sleep in separate bedrooms because he drives me nuts!  I have to be around him all day on Saturday and Sunday and that is more than enough for me.  Did I mention I have been on anti-depressants and sleeping pills for 23 years?  If you don't like the way this story is going, do something about it.  I have developed a very strong relationship with God.  You might as well start with God because you will end up there anyway.  He is your only chance fore real peace.   I won't divorce my husband because we have a family and because he is not capable of doing a lot of things on his own.  I really feel sorry for him, but I'm not going to let him drag me down anymore.  I have only come to this conclusion in the past two years.  It took me that long to totally give up on the marriage.  Funny thing is...there never WAS a marriage in the real sense.  Do not expect an ADD man to fulfill you in any way.  It does not happen. 


31 years? I salute you, McCleskey. Every single thing you said, I relate to, with the exception of the kids. I have learned that I can not "vent" to him about my day, he can only deal with so much, so I talk to girlfriends, yes. I also learned to self-soothe quite a while ago. If I allowed myself to go into the meltdowns I used to every time he said "I'm done," I would be in the Psych ward right about now! Actually, that is starting to sound like a nice little respite...lol.

Anyway, you are right, he isn't normal, nor will he ever be, I believe, especially because he refuses to get treatment for his disorder. He scoffs at the idea, even when he had a doctor diagnose him and prescribe meds. I have been fervently praying, because things may go great for a few days, but then another very painful situation happens...see my response to Debi above for the latest debacle. And down on my knees I go. As we speak, I am putting in place a new life, in another state, near my family. What is difficult is that I have made a life here too, have a job, school, friends, etc. (Though, on a side note, "friends" in LA have not turned out to be real friends...but that's a different story.) The point is, it is going to be hellish to uproot everything I know, and do everything on my own. I am scared financially, as I have nothing in place yet. Yet I still think this is the right thing to do. I had a dream last night, and as I woke, I kept hearing the phrase, almost audibly, "It's time." Daily, pretty much, he does or says something horrible to confirm that I am doing the right thing by ending it. No, I do not take divorce lightly, and that is why I have been here this long, but I think it's time, because you are right, it does not change.

PS: I, too, have been taking insomnia, anxiety, and depression meds for quite a while now. I feel your pain..

PSS: Thank you also for telling it like it is with John :0)

Good luck to you.

I laughed when you said the psych ward sounds like a nice little respite.  I have felt that way many times in the past.  Good luck to you girlfriend.  I can tell you are a sweet, kind, loving person.  Life is tough.  And that won't change either, but God is good.  There is a book that a read every night.  A little devotional called Jesus Calling.  It gives me a lot of strength.  I think you can read it on-line if you are interested.  Best of luck to you.

Thank you

I will look that book up. I also gain much insight and wisdom from an online daily devotional called "Girlfriends in God."
You can get it delivered to your phone daily. Also, thanks for your encouraging words. You're a pretty cool chick yourself!


If you don't have children then cut your losses because one day you will want to and if you have children you won't be able too. You won't imagine your children with this person three days a week and every other weekend. Just run screaming to a lawyer as fast as your legs will carry you. Do it and don't look back.

Double-Edged Sword

Yes, thank God I do not have children, but my heart also aches whenever I see a beautiful, pudgy, smiley-faced child with its mother. I want that, I think, but obviously I can not when I am married to a man-sized child. But I am 37 years old and know that my time is running out. I am just going to give it to God and pray for His timing.

When you've been hurt so many times

I can relate to what you are saying with the back and forth.  Kind of he loves you, he loves you not.  And if you're in the he loves you not its your fault.  I have been married for 20 yrs and my husband was just diagnosed 1 year ago.  2 children, dogs, a house later.  We are still together and I can say I do love him. But we continue with arguments that I can see are related to his ADHD sx.   All these years if I got upset with his behavior, not calling, disappearing for hours then showing up all smiles, saying he paid a bill when he didn't. Saying he put money in the bank when he didn't.  But if I got upset he response was   If I'm unhappy then I'm the one with the issue.  So I need to go somewhere, talk to a therapist and figure it out.   Many years of therapy later I now see my expectations are reasonable. When I'm upset by his behavior I have a good right to be upset.  We have made progress in making changes.  We are taking the seminar, which has been very helpful.  My husband has gained a lot of insight into the impact of his behavior.  When past patterns come up though.  I have such a hard time getting past the hurtful behavior.  It just brings back so many years of unresolved hurt.  Now he will take responsibility and apologize (when given some time). So I don't have any answers really other then be sure to take care of yourself.  I just am adding my own concern about how to really move on with so much unresolved hurt.  

It just brings back so many years of unresolved hurt.

Years and years of this treatment cause so much hurt that is never goes away.   You can push it down for a while, but when they act up again, it comes right back to the surface.  My husband used to tell me everything was my fault also.  He had me believing I was the worst wife on the planet.  Now he has realized that he needs me.  He is 61, and can't think like he used to.  He has always been fairly quiet, but now he seems sullen and depressed.  When we do things together, it always seems to be a competition with him.  And HE always has to be better than me.  I have gone out and made other friends, and to be completely honest, I don't even want to be around him much now.  It took me years to do this because I really hated leaving him out, but I go out and do my own thing while he hyper-focuses on the tv.  I can only see this getting worse as he gets older.  I try to be as kind and loving to him as I can be, but there is no real relationship.  ADDers are like a "box of chocolate".  You seriously never know what you are going to get at any given moment.  Lower your expectations to almost nothing.  Take care of the important things yourself and look to other people for love, validation, and fun.  And pray.  Lot's of prayer.

Why Is It?

I know what you mean-he does something unacceptable, you get upset, then HE gets upset that YOU are upset, and somehow, you end up feeling bad for being upset.

Thoughts please: I am trying to keep things civilized and still kind of loving, even during this time of me separating from him. If you read my previous posts, you would know that I decided that a divorce was the right path, after he adamantly yelled that we should divorce, that he did not have an issue, and would not take meds or go to counseling. Followed swiftly by him saying we should try to work it out and buy a house together, etc. etc.(LOL) Back and forth. I know cognitively I will divorce him, but am trying to keep it on the DL until I have a place to go, and a plan in place. This for my own safety as well as sanity. I feel guilty about that, somewhat. Further, I am actually feeling guilty for not having sex with him for nearly a couple of months now(don't think I don't hear about that).

Today, I had an interview with an out-of-state employer which went very well, and DH seemed kind of ambivalent. Due to some incredible financial pressures, and struggles because of his irresponsible spending, we both had agreed on a budget. Recently, we even decided to start a special fund to go toward his band/his rock-star-aspirations. And btw, in reply to Debi, no, it is not a Christian band. It's a hard-rock-look-at-me-I'm-so-cool-Band. We also increased the amount of money to be transferred into his own account, to be used at his discretion.

Well, guess what? Today, I came home and found a bunch of new music equipment in our living room. After much questioning and resisting by him, he said he had "borrowed" $200 from the checking account to get the stuff, but would pay it back, less $50. This is right after me losing my second job, by the way. In response to me saying, "What about the Band money, and the extra in your account?", he became irate, throwing out that he didn't want to hear my s^&%, it was HIS money, and he didn't have to answer to me. He said it was just the same old s^&  that he was tired of, to "get off his back" and why don't I just go ahead and go to that other job? All the while, btw, he was trying to ignore me, playing his guitar with the amp turned up. When I pointed out that I have a right to ask where our money is going, (hello, I work full time, and he did make a commitment to this budget), he just scoffed at me and acted like I was THE biggest pain in the butt.

A while later, as he's on the way out to a late rehearsal, of which, when I ask when he will be home, he gets immediately defensive and says, "I don't know, 2? Whenever," I have actually begun to feel bad about getting on his case and tell him I love him. I don't want things to be so heavy with us, so negative. He sighs and says, "Yeah, love you too. Even though you're crazy." And he haughtily stalks out the door, barely saying good-bye. Me, crazy??

I would appreciate any insight people out there may have, especially those who have been through this, because even though in my mind, I have decided to end it, I still love him, and feel so rejected, so second-place, that I don't know what to do.

Like a magician

I am so sorry.  It sounds to me like your husband knows he screwed up and is displacing the blame to you in order to maintain his own self image.  There is this great book, Mistakes Were Made...But Not By Me, that shows how we all distort reality to suit our own cognitive image of ourselves.  You do have a right to expect him to stick to the budget he agreed to.  And when he has calmed down perhaps you can ask him how he proposes to convince you that he will do what he says.  In the meantime, perhaps you should start depositing your money into an account on which he is not a signer, and just move money into the joint account when it is bill paying time.  Good luck on the job!

It's time

It's time we stop trying harder, feeling badly and buying into the whole abusive cycle.  This is abuse, plain and simple.  One person acts badly, goes back on promises, is mean and/or shirks responsibility... and we feel badly for calling them on it?  It is an abusive cycle, not a marriage.  While there may be limitations and struggles that need to be recognized with our ADHD spouses, abuse should never be tolerated.  It filters into everything and only grows.

I think that for some spouses with ADHD, they have never had to live with the consequences of their actions, and if they have - they don't relate it appropriately as a consequence of their behavior.  Their parents should have helped them see that, but in the case of untreated or undertreated ADHD, this loop isn't closed.  As ADHD is a spectrum - some people are able to live with it with fewer problems than others.

I don't think we do anyone any favors when we lower our standards of behavior to acommodate ADHD.  No one with ADHD needs to be mean, condescending, cruel, manipulative or self righteous in a relationship.  No spouse of someone with ADHD needs to be controlling, condescending, rude, mean or self righteous either.  The difference, in my experience, is that the former is done, then the latter comes as a response to try to salvage self respect.  

If you're in a bad spiral - get out.  If you do or  don't have kids - get out.  If you don't get out, get space and get help.  The longer it goes on, the harder it is to see the light and the harder to break the pattern.  Work on your self esteem and ask yourself why you allow yourself to be treated this way.


OK, so here I am, after all the craziness you may have read before, and in my mind, I had decided to leave, but had not gone through with it yet. One day, I was paying some bills, and he made a scathing remark about how we would not have to worry about money for bills if I had a "real job." This is after I just finished my second job, and he had not bothered to get the full-time job he had promised to. The hostility emanating from him was so thick, you could cut it with a knife, as had been the norm lately, and something in me just broke. I knew we could not go on like this.

I finally just said "You won't have to worry about it anymore, because I'm leaving." This conversation began after a protracted and painful period of back-and-forth over "Should we end it or shouldn't we?" There were days when things were like old times with us- laughing, playing, inside jokes. More often than not, though, he seemed to be doing all he could to communicate that he would do exactly what he wanted, when he wanted, so get used to it. Never over the line, like cheating, but just being a jerky guy, like not bothering to come home, even if you went to the effort to make him dinner.

So that day, I sat with him and we had the talk...we just don't work, our priorities are different, he wants what he wants, when he wants, and it does not matter if he promised me something, his priority was, basically, himself. I wasn't willing to be second priority to my husband. So, long story short, I packed all my belongings that could fit in my car, and drove across the country to my family's house, going on interviews the next day for jobs.

So, new place, new people, hopefully, soon, new job, but here's the sucky part: I miss him. I miss our life. I saw his picture yesterday, and started bawling. I was ok for a bit, and I still am, here and there. But it feels like my life has been broken into shards of glass, and I am just in limbo, getting randomly cut, waiting for a life to start. Everything I knew is just...gone. How do you get through this? Anyone have any suggestions? We still have a joint account, until I get a new job and we can dismantle it, fyi, so we still have to have minimal contact about that. Also, I took our two beloved dogs, upon mutual agreement, and I have updated him on them. Also, he is supposed to be filing the divorce papers, since he still lives in our hometown, but he has not as of yet. He recently changed his profile picture on Facebook, but did not change his marital status...??

Good for you, cbrooks.  I

Good for you, cbrooks.  I think you did the right thing.  As for getting through the pain, start looking on the Internet.  I'm sure there are many resources for people going through breakups and divorces.  I often go to the "divorce" section of the the Huffington Post.  Here is a link: