Submitted by newfdog on 01/24/2008.
I was diagnosed with ADD almost a year ago after being married for 26 years. My wife is very quiet, does not like confrontation and I am of course type A, like to have fun , pretty much like everyone else with ADD. I will try to not jump all over the place, but you know how us with ADD are ;-) When I met my wife 30 years ago, she was the first woman whom I felt really liked me for who and what I am. Needless to say I fell madly in love, what I did not know is her fiancé and her had taken a break for reasons, I still don't know. Anyway, at some time they did get engaged and I was no longer in the picture, I was devastated, needless to say, at the time I did not know I was hyper-focused. I dated other women off and on, but even with others I could never get her out of my mind completely. Needless to say, your new flame does not want to hear about past girl friends, this I learned. Anyway, I did hear from a mutual friend that she was separated from her husband of 2 years as he was having an affair with an older woman whom was friend of theirs. I did meet her one night and asked if she would like to go out to dinner, she said yes and I was thrilled. Even though it had been almost 3 years since we dated, it was like yesterday, and we picked up where we left off. We married a year later to the date on Halloween and had a fabulous week cruise for honeymoon. I could not have been any happier. I was a manufacturers rep and traveled a extensively, so when I came home we were always excited to see each other and our marriage was great and loved each other very much. About 4 years later I tired of being out of town so I changed jobs and really enjoyed being home all the time. Our marriage was still good, we purchased an older house and spend many hours working around the house and in the yard. This is one of the few interests we have in common. We have a beautiful daughter who was born after 8 years of marriage and I could not have been happier. I was transfered to another part of the country when our daughter was a year old. I was very busy with work and traveled quite a bit so my wife spent most of the time raising our daughter. Fast forward another 5 years, I quit my job and we started a company, (oh yeah, forgot to say, we have worked together at the same place for the last 17 years) that was fairly successful. I was hyper-focused at first and once things became routine, I would get bored and onto something else. I went from high speed driving school (have logged many hours at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Lowe's) to quit that and spent 2 years restoring a car and going to car shows, then it was on to golf, then it was onto the present owning, showing and working dogs. Needless to say, none of these activities the wife enjoys. So here we were two years ago, wife doing her thing, I am doing mine and she would never seem to want to do anything with me. I would go out of town to dog shows having fun, while she stayed home taking care of our daughter. During this time our sex life went to almost nothing. That was a problem, while I never had an affair I have always had a strong sex drive. Arguments became more frequent, and at one time in anger I asked if she wanted a divorce, she stated "we could not afford a divorce". Needless to say I took that the wrong way in the sense as I thought she wanted one, but we could not afford it, and to tell the truth at the time she was probably correct, as I was always spending money. While at a dog show I met a younger woman who had many of the same interests I had, and we became friends. She was separated from her husband (since divorced) who also did not care for the things she liked. As time went on we began to talk more and more, not about us, but about our interests. Then we both began to start to confide in each other and before you knew it, on occasion my mind would wander and I would imagine a future with this person. We would talk to each other on the phone about once a week. One night my wife read me the riot act and spoke her mind about many of the things I had done in the past. Some of them were, my drinking early in our marriage, my hobbies she said were in excess, and ignoring her and my daughter, spending money and most of all being angry much of the time. But, she said she would, and wanted to try and work on our our marriage. . We were doing much better and we began to get along better, do more things together. We went on a trip for a week together and had a good time. About two months later I had to go into the hospital for stints and that part was non eventful and made a full recovery. While I was in the hospital they did see some nodules on my lungs and said not to worry, but have another CT scan in three months, YEAH RIGHT, don't worry. Of course you think the worst, oh God I have cancer and I don't have long left. Short story, after six months and two CT scans the nodules are gone and everything appears to be OK, however the thoughts were there and I had gone into a deep depression. During this time I continued to speak to my new female friend and needless to say my wife was less than pleased. I was accused of having an affair which was not true. But in any event, in an effort to try to save the marriage I was no longer in contact with this person I went to my family doctor who prescribed Zoloft and recommended I go to a counselor, which I did and still am.My wife and I also had gone to marriage counseling. My depression had not improved and my counselor recommended a psychiatrist whom I went to and he switched me to Welbutrin. On my second follow up visit he diagnosed me with ADD and suggested I read the book "Driven to Distraction" and prescribed Straterra for the ADD. Upon reading the book it appears many of the things I have done in my life, can be attributed to and are symptoms of ADD. Here we are now, almost a year of my diagnosis of ADD, our marriage is better, and we don't argue as much, in fact we can talk about anything and we have no secrets and while my wife was very bitter for the past years of my anger and ADD stunts, she understands why. Our sex life is great again and we enjoy having dinner out once a week. I have completed many projects around the house, in fact, remodeled the kitchen and a bathroom. The problem now is, after my wife vented her anger about how I acted all these years and it was before we knew I had ADD, I was angry and hurt deeply. Who wants to be told your a looser, lazy, spend too much money, and of course ignored her and my daughter whom she pointed out she raised by herself? Somewhere after that altercation and considering we were more or less roommates, I became hyper focused on the other person and while I have not spoken to her in almost a year, still have a problem getting her out of my mind. My wife picks up on this and we are not going anywhere without this issue being resolved. My wife has said, if I want to be with this other person, go for it. She wants me happy and I too want to be happy, but also want her happy. That said, I'm not even sure this person would want to be with me, and of course I know better now, than to make a impulsive decision. Thanks so much for the great forum to post and seek advice.
Where do we go from here? (LONG)
Submitted by newfdogswife on
Couple Overcoming Anger and Past Hurt
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
I think that the two of you are definitely on the right track, and hope that things do indeed continue to get better. Before continuing, I want to remind anyone reading this post that I am expert in how ADD affects marriages, but I am not a degreed counsellor...
There is much positive about your joint growing understanding of ADD and the dynamics of your marriage. He is clearly working on his ADD symptoms, and you are working to separate him the person from his symptoms.
Here are a few things that struck me (in no particular order): About hyperfocusing and what you do together - your husband needs to understand that part of the joy of doing things together is in the sharing of those things. When he moves into hyperfocus mode it means that he is no longer in sharing mode. His hyperfocus shuts you out. It's okay for him to have things that he loves to hyperfocus on, but he needs to learn not to judge you if you don't wish to tag along and get ignored in the process (too hurtful, and not even very interesting!) But it does sound as if both of you would like to have things to share. Perhaps this will be something completely new? Or, perhaps, he can join you in something you suggest without the sighs and shows of disinterest. Try setting up "experiment times" with new things (a tango dance class, hikes in the mountains, whatever). As with any experiment, it's okay to fail - no grudges held on things that don't work out. Who knows, you could have a whole lot of fun (or perhaps a whole lot of laughs at your bad choices!) as you set out to find completely new endeavors.
About "I never loved you" type comments. I bet you big money this one was said at a time of depression or anger. Come on! How many people actually get married to someone they don't love?! Remember that negative feelings today have a way of coloring positive feelings you had yesterday. While it is a hurtful statement, consider it in context and consider whether or not what the person is saying is "things could be a lot better for us than they are now".
About the girlfriend (and, yes, I'm going to call her that). What you are both having trouble gettting out of your mind with this woman is the fantasy of what/who this woman is. Boy, is it wonderful to imagine how great it would be to be with someone who thinks you walk on water all the time! I happen to have a lot of personal experience with this particular area, having had an affair myself, and having been the victim of my husband's affair not so long ago. Here are some insights I have gained from being on both sides of this equation (and keep your eyes out for a blog post on this - it's time to write about it...) First - the affair is the result of someone being miserable - in this case your husband. He started connecting to this woman because he was so unhappy at home. Second - it is no wonder affairs are hard to shake. They feel great. Complete acceptance and love, with none of the bad stuff that reality is made of. Third - they don't last, but you get over them much faster if you actually believe that. (I read a statistic once that something like 85% - or more - of affairs that had broken up marriages don't end up continuing...reality is just too much for them.)
In this case, your wife's willingness to give you a divorce if you wish to continue communicating with this woman is her way of recognizing that you are your own person. If you wish to continue, there is nothing she can do about it. It's not an endorsement that she thinks you'll do better or be happy - just that she knows that she has a right to protect herself from further hurt.
Here's something else I've learned from being on both sides of affairs. They are dynamite - one wrong move has the ability to really blow things up. Here is one way you might consider approaching this one: Make some specific agreements 1.) no further contact with the other woman. If you do contact her again - or she contacts you - your wife has a right to know about it and under what circumstances - you owe her a full explanation so that she can decide what to do next (and before your girlfriend calls trying to break up the marriage, which is what happened to me...and yes, despite her best efforts and his repeated infidelity, I did stay with him), 2.) accept that you might sometimes think about this woman and that's okay, particularly if you realize that you are thinking about a fantasy of this woman - not what she would really be like if you were with her full time. Thinking is not the same as contacting - keep this to yourself unless the thinking is interfering with your relationship, or unless your wife asks you about it - at which point you owe her honesty...and she owes you a "safe hearing" in which she controls her response. Note that YOUR WIFE also is fantasizing out your relationship with this woman...and it is likely that she will imagine the worst possible scenario, so give her some slack if she seems pretty bent out of shape. 3.) Start building a fun, wonderful relationship with your wife that will replace your fantasies about this other woman. You may even wish to try some detached thinking about what it is that is driving the fantasy and seeing how you might address the deficiency that your fantasies point to in your real relationship in a positive, non-hurtful way. (i.e. instead of saying "you're no fun in the bedroom" say "let's try some fun sex toys together")
Affairs - emotional or physical - can provide a catalyst for analyzing why the fantasy exists and how you and your spouse want to "be" together in the future. If you can view this as an opportunity to reassess what you really want as a couple (and thus "defang" the affair) you may someday look back and say "thanks" for the wake-up call (as I do) rather than focus on the hurt than an affair can inflict.
There are many positive things in your relationship now. You and your husband wrote about how committed you both are (you only need to read some of the posts on this site to see what a blessing that is). You write about being able to be completely open with each other and a good sex life. Your husband recognizes some of his ADD symptoms and is working on them. You recognize that your response to his ADD symptoms has also caused a good deal of friction in your relationship.
You mention that you feel somewhat overwhelmed right now as you try to get through this, so a good idea would be to try to take some of the pressure off. This will be an extended conversation...you will get better and better at appreciating what you have over time. And in order to have something worth appreciating, make sure to make your days have warmth and fun. Date night is a great start...what else can you do?
My final thought is perhaps the most important of all. You have had some very hard, and emotionally damaging times. Make sure these are in your past. Do things for and with each other that illustrate how much you love each other. No matter how difficult the conversation becomes make sure that you express your feelings with the respect that a person you love deserves. Then, come to terms with your past and forgive yourselves. It is your past. You did as well as you could (which isn't always as good as we would like) and you have a choice now. Will you let it poison your present and your future, or will you move on and build a wonderful today and tomorrow?
It's okay to admit you are still getting over your hurt and your anger and work through it. But bringing that anger into today's relationship serves no useful purpose. My husband and I have "our old relationship" and "our new relationship". I LOVE the new relationship. I don't love the old one. But, as I said, that's okay because the one I'm in is the new one and, with time, we've both grown quite confident that the old one is completely packed away.
Are we the same people we were in the old relationship? Yes and no. Today we are the best of what we were in the old relationship because we both choose to be that way. We accept ourselves and each other (weaknesses and strengths) because by so doing our relationship has a depth and appreciation that it didn't even have on the day we got married. But we made a conscious decision to leave the worst of who we were (angry, hurtful, thoughtless, unable and unwilling to manage either his ADD or my response to it). Sound hard? Maybe not has hard as you think. All it takes is commitment and an understanding that this is a work in process. You won't be perfect...but you CAN find the relationship you want. So, like they say in the Nike ads - "Just do it".
Still trying to get that feeling again
Submitted by newfdog on
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
There is a period of time after an affair during which you still sit on the fence, no matter how hard you are trying, and the only "cure" seems to be time. Even though I knew that I wanted to stay with my husband and that I loved him, it took time for us to create a strong "other option" to either of our affairs. Meaning, it takes time to build up a love that replaces the fantasies completely. (Being cuddly sounds like a good start. Try approaching cuddly as a reflection of today and a move into the future, rather than a reparation for past mis-deeds.)
Interestingly, in our case, we built up something different from what we had before. Relationships that have been around for a while don't seem to experience the "high" of new love again (when every possible flaw is completely ignored and sex is a revelation!) If that is what you seek, you may find it with a new woman - for a while - but it, too, will fade. What we ended up with was a completely new type of romance - quieter but deeper, more adaptable and supportive. A lot less self-centered lust, a lot more striving to please each other. It feels better than what we had even on the day we married...but it did take time to get there. It has a substance and reality to it that seems far superior (to us both) to the joys of new love.
Right now you are both in a "wariness" period while you figure out whether or not to leave your wife. Put another way - neither of you are at 100% on your relationship, yet you are comparing it to a potential relationship (fantasy) that is more than 100% because it is ALL in your mind. (You don't even know if this person loves you - you only suspect that there may be feelings there!! It doesn't come any more fantasy-like than that!)
As long as this other woman is out there, your wife won't be able to get out of no man's land and fully give herself to you. And even after you do, genuinely, decide not to pursue this other woman (and that is where I'm placing my bets on this one) it will still take your wife a while to feel secure again. (Even though I don't have any doubts whatsoever about my husband's interest in me any more, I still found myself dreaming about his mistress last night. AAARRRGGGHHH! Drives me crazy! HE hasn't thought about her - at all - in half a year! At one point, he couldn't even remember her NAME!!! I, on the other hand, still have her popping up once in a while. Totally unfair!)
I suspect that your wife has a point of view about how she would like you to proceed - perhaps you can figure it out together? Whatever you do, try to move yourself into a position where you are creating JOY for her - not tears.
Questions I would think about - is there something in your relationship that you think will get in the way of creating something NEW and wonderful? (Don't try going back to being 20 - doesn't work that way - and it won't even work that way with the new person. I'm talking about you and your wife leaving the past behind and starting fresh). Can you continue to focus on the positives you might build on together? On the downside of things, can you imagine sharing your child with another man that your wife might marry after you've left her?
Think hard about your choices, because it sounds to me as if your wife is, indeed, being pretty supportive of you given that you are making her unhappy enough to cry a lot, and "supportive" can get you far. (Maybe it isn't sexy, but it provides an EXCELLENT base for creating a NEW future together!)
Choice or a Chase?
Submitted by newfdog on
No one gets hurt
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
As far as I can see, the ONLY situation in which no one gets hurt is the one in which you leave the fantasy behind and move on. The woman you are fantasizing about is not particularly invested in you - it doesn't sound as if she'll care much if you don't pursue her. Your wife, on the other hand, will.
YOU are more likely to get hurt by pursuing her than by not pursuing her....here's why. If you decide to not pursue her then you can return your thoughts to your marriage and decide why it is you should or shouldn't stay with your wife based on the merits of what the two of you have together, not on whether or not someone else MIGHT be more fun if all the stars align just the right way.
Don't stay with your wife because it's comfortable. Figure out the good reasons why you should stay with her and why you should love her - she deserves love, not dependency. If you decide - once you are thinking clearly - that you don't love her enough to stay married then you have a different issue - but at least you will have considered it clearly.
Here's another way to look at it. How will you feel if you break up your marriage for this fantasy and this other woman decides she doesn't want you after all (the most likely scenario)? As far as I can see, that's not a win/lose, that's a lose/lose. Don't take what I say as a put-down...it's not that at all. I'm thinking statistics here. How many relationships does it take to find a really good fit? And you are so far at the beginning of this relationship with the other woman (if I understand it correctly) that you are far from knowing if you've found a good fit...your chances of lose/lose are pretty darned good. Your wife's concern about this other woman doesn't mean that she knows something you don't. It means that your wife is a normal woman who doesn't like the idea that her entire life might be totally upended by some stranger. She's expressing her concern about the instability that you've introduced into her life, not a commentary about this other person's suitability.
You are certainly interested in the chase...there isn't anything else there! If you are worried about "doing the best", how about concentrating on doing the best in your marriage? Sounds to me as if you still have some leeway to really excel there, if you decide - really, really decide - that you want to do it. Maybe it's time to excel again...sounds as if when you do your wife might appreciate the effort enough to come along and join you for the ride. (Okay, it's a bad pun to go with your car...but a little humor is always a good thing, right?)
Revelations or Possible Answers?
Submitted by newfdog on
A new counselor?
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
I cannot tell you if you need a new counsellor - you and your wife have to make that decision on your own. I suspect that your counsellor's suggestion to plan a weekend was along the lines of "have some fun together to lighten things up" and that his "pick three things" wasn't because he wasn't listening, but because the laundry list of items that is now coming up is positive, but needs prioritization.
Send me an email at [email protected] with your phone number and first name in it, and let's talk about this offline a bit.
lost that loving feeling
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
Did you read Saturday's Wall Street Journal article on the research going into how love declines - and what keeps romantic love going? The scariest part, I think, was reading:
"Psychologists studying relationships confirm the steady decline of romantic love. Each year...the average couple loses a little spark...a survey of over 2,000 married people over 17 years (showed) average marital happiness fell sharply in the first 10 years, then entered a slow decline." (WSJ, 2/8/08)
YIKES! Sounds gruesome! The article goes on to discuss the role that dopamine and other chemicals in the brain may play in sustaining romantic love.
Relationships do "mature" and change. And I think it's highly likely that the stimuli provided in the early stages of romantic love do fill you with "feel good" chemicals that keep the interest alive...chemicals that are hard to replicate or sustain. That said, there ARE ways to bring more "oomph" to your stble relationship and make it more exciting. Try these:
Set time aside for romance, even if it feels forced at first. Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than normal and use that time to cuddle and tell each other that you love each other. The physical touching and positive reinforcement releases some of the "feel good" chemicals that you are missing...plus it's a great, positive way to start the day.
Schedule regular dates. Too often, "routine" takes over, and routine is BORING! Set time together to be "dating adults" rather than "married parents" and have some fun again! (When my husband and I first started trying to do this after more than 12 years of being "married parents" we promised to try to do something silly on a regular basis. That helped!)
Go out of your way to touch each other. Hold hands when watching TV. Be open to a quick kiss at the kitchen sink. Though it may not come naturally, you CAN create the habit of showing affection and this will go a long way towards helping you have the same kinds of spontaneous, positive feelings with your husband that you have for your kids.
Spice up your sex life. Try something new - maybe sex toys (Babeland is a great site for finding out about sex toys in a non-threatening way if you want) or a sex-oriented vacation. At a minimum, increase the frequency that you and your husband sexually connect. It is true that in the case of sex drive, if you don't use it, you lose it. Also, consider that medications (anti-depressants, for example) or hormonal changes (such as menopause) might be affecting you. (Or, conversely, untreated depression.) Talk with your sex therapist about this possibility.
Few people sustain romantic love from the day that they get married until the day they die. Most of us go up and down. When we "work" at it, we can find great pleasure in each other's company. If we let it go, our passion just withers. Since you are seeing a sex therapist it seems that you aren't just kicking back, which is excellent. Take pride and hope in your willingness to address your issues head-on. Talk with your husband about your desire for his attention in small ways, and make sure you (and he) take the time it takes to connect on many levels. (Remember how much TIME you spent thinking about your husband and doing little things for him when you were dating?! Connecting takes time - a rare commodity in a family with young children and busy lives!)
One of the best things I ever did for my relationship with my own husband was decide, one day, that being meaningfully connected was the singly most important thing in my life. Kids, household chores, financial stability all took a back seat. I even reorganized my professional life a bit to accomodate a more flexible - and less stressful - schedule. The result is that we are both thriving. Once encouraged in this way he, too, decided to put us first. After the thrill of renewed romantic love, the second-best result of it all is that our kids are incredibly happy, stable and well-balanced as a result of the tenor of the household.
Don't set a goal of "recapturing what you used to have". Set a goal of creating a better relationship - one that is appropriate for this stage of your life. For my husband and I that means less frequent, but more meaningful, sex; lots more holding hands and quick, reassuring touching; making time to "date" each other; and loving getting into bed together so we can cuddle. Plus, we've completely stopped criticizing each other (a waste of time - we're both big adults now and should be able to do what we want) and are better at sharing chores - something we've both come to associate with mutual respect. Finally, we make a point of telling each other we love each other every day.
Good luck to you with this!
P.S. You can't do this alone - so try to get your husband actively involved in finding the things that work for you as a couple as soon as you are comfortable doing so. Try to keep the tenor light, so as not to put too much pressure on him - particularly in the sexual realm.
More on Lost that Feeling
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
I realized that I didn't fully respond to your question...I think that ADD may contribute to part of your issues - it is easy to get distracted. And that distraction could most definitely play a role in your husband's lack of confidence in whether or not you love him. I had the same exact question about my ADD husband's feelings for me. He was distracted for many years, which led us to not be as intimately connected (no casual holding hands or showing our emotions led to feeling less of those romantic emotions). Eventually, I took his distraction as an indication of reduced feelings for me. And he took his ability to be distracted as a lessening of interest.
Could this be happening to you? What happens if you knowingly pump up your casual touching and the special gestures you do for each other?
Submitted by newfdog on
Update December 2008
Submitted by newfdog on
Just a quickie to let everyone know we are still doing well. We are almost finished remodeling the house and are getting along better than ever, in spite of some rough going on the job fronts.
Doc has changes my meds, dropped the Strattera and Wellbutrin and am now taking Ritalin.... Its heck to be over 50 and taking Ritalin, but it works....
We wish everyone a happy holiday season
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
It's so great to hear that you are still doing well! And nice to hear that you do well in spite of challenges that are coming your way economically. That can put strain on your relationship and it is testament to its renewed strength that it does not.