Where to draw the line?

My husband and I have been separated for 5 months.  There were a few reasons for the separation (which I will briefly mention later) but since the separation I've tried to move on with my life.  My husband pushed me away through his actions and words.  My question to other married couples dealing with an ADHD spouse is:

1) am I abandoning my husband or not trying hard enough if I move on?

2) How do you differentiate bw what's ADHD and what's abuse?  (When I say abuse I mean, "punching bag" for anything that goes wrong whether is work, driving related, losing something.  He's abandoned me/left me stranded with no way to get home, he's yelled, screamed, threatened to leave me, threatened to hit me, name-called, etc)

3) what's the percentage that we'll actually make it if I do decide to stay or am I prolonging the inevitable?  Should I view divorce as an opportunity to better my life?

4) will children make our marriage worse? and will he be able to control himself in front of the kids? and is it highly likely he will act out on the kids the same way he does with me?

As you can see, I'm searching for answers and every day I reflect upon my situation and I'm frankly lost.  What follows is depression.  I love love love my husband but he has untreated ADHD.  It's been 5 years of him trying/wantiing to change but also 5 years of constant anger, anxiety, depression, walking on eggshells, fighting (over god knows what), name-calling, impulsivity.  I need to have the same love for myself and be selfish for once so that's my dilemma.  I want to make sure I have a good future like I wanted and deserved.  If I could do it with him I would but my experience with him has been a very difficult one and has negatively impacted my emotional/mental state...not to mention ruin my self confidence.

I'm very confused and its one big pile of mush. My husband has said he hated me and wanted me to find someone that will love me.  Now that he realized he was losing me treatment became his priority and he loves me and can't live without me.  This roller coaster is so unnecessary and I need peace.  I've been a punching bag for 5 years and I'm terrified of giving him a chance and this blowing up in my face and ruining me.  I can't handle being hurt anymore...I'm at a breaking point. 

Do people with ADHD have 2 sides...cruel/heartless/angry....then...nice/gentle/caring?  Could there be something else wrong with him and doctors aren't diagnosing him?  Is he narcissistic or does he have BPD?

I don't want to give up on my marriage but I also can't live life and be abused whether its a disease, genetics or whatever you want to label it.  I would love to hear other opinions.  This is the only place where I can find support.  Thanks in advance for your time.

I've been having these exact

I've been having these exact thoughts, hope.  How long should we live with an ADHD spouse who won't get help or at least isn't working very hard?  A year?  Five years?  Twenty years?  I have such a struggle inside myself.  Marriage is extremely important to me personally and it would take a LOT for me to contemplate divorce.  But at the same time, what if he never seeks help?  Do I truly have to live like this for the rest of my life?  The thought of the affects of divorce on my children...makes my heart break into a million pieces.  For now, I'd at least be willing to stay together for my sweet babies.  He does no harm to them except won't discipline them which turns into bratty behavior for them, but I'm trying my hardest to dispel that and make my kids good people.  At least my husband isn't physically abusive...and not really verbally abusive.  Doesn't raise his voice ever.  So those aren't things my children ever see or hear.  But like you said, when my kids get older, will his behavior begin to negatively affect them in substantial ways?  How long can we deal with this?  I don't know.  I do know, and I said this in another post today, that therapy might be a good idea for myself so that I can improve in ways that my husband has helped to ruin.  I have tried and tried to help my husband but since he won't accept that, I need to help myself.  Good luck hon ((hugs))

Drawing the line

To answer your questions (based on my 13 years of marriage to an ADDer)

1. No one can answer this for you. I've held on for as long as I have, although we've both threatened many times to leave, because of the "good guy/bad guy" thing...and the 'good guy' somehow ALWAYS keeping my hope alive...giving just enough, at all the right times, to keep me hanging on to that sliver of hope that someday he would actually follow through with some of the empty promises.

2. I honestly don't know about this one either, except I have read several people on here claim that their spouses have the anger, outbursts, etc...and they are lessened with medication. That is the only thing, judging from what I'm reading, that the medication might possibly help with in some cases..the anger and irritation. It is typically helpful with focus and attention issues. I was (and still am sometimes) my husband's 'punching bag' (emotionally) for MANY years. I got the brunt of anything and everything that was wrong in his life...and the blame as well. I DO feel that is ADD, it is in my case anyway. Since the ADD behaviors are coming under control for my husband, he's far more aware of how he's affecting me far more often than ever before and he actually CARES too...so I do feel a lot of what you're describing could be either ADD, the vicious cycle of fighting and yelling that occurs when they behave badly and we react badly, or both. Been there, done that..made HUGE progress in this area.

4. For me personally, if you don't have kids now, I would wait until the marriage/homelife is stable and peaceful. I cannot tell you the tremendous amount of guilt I feel for what my 12 year old daughter has gone through in the past 6 years or so. She is in therapy because of us. Although we hit rock bottom and have come back fighting for our marriage, I still worry about the long term effects of all of this on her and her decision making later on in life....as she chooses a partner, as she parents, etc. :-( Spare yourself this...and get things in order and under control and THEN have kids.

There do sometimes seem to be 2 sides to my husband...especially in the past when his behavior would be so hurtful and cruel and then the remorse seemed so real and the apologies seemed well thought out and genuine...and the next thing I know he was doing it again. ARGH! I was told that progress is typically slow, the last 9 months of my life are a testament to that, and that counseling can take 8-12 months to complete. Maybe you should open yourself up to his treatment, go with him if you're allowed, and give what you feel you can to his 'treatment'. I have found that no matter how hard it is, no matter how scared I am, the more I give, the more I get. My husband was unfaithful for the 2nd time last fall, and after a separation, me losing my father, and him losing his mother, we hit the bottom. He begged my forgiveness and agreed to do whatever I wanted him to do if I would give him another chance. I decided that two things would happen...not only would I put EVERYTHING in the past and look only forward with him as we went through counseling together (it was during this marriage counseling that we got the diagnosis of ADD) but that I was going to let go of the anger regardless of how things ended with us...I was doing it for ME...I was going to be different, no matter what. So far, so good. Sometimes it's 2 steps forward, 3 steps back, but the more we try, the more we learn, the better things are. He's done a lot of soul searching right along with me...and that's made a huge difference.

If he's willing to get help, I feel there is always hope. Best of luck!


Hi, Hope

I have been separated from my husband for almost seven months....after 26 years of marriage.  He has ADHD and OCD and has not sought treatment for either.   We have three children...22, 19 and 13.  I'll try to answer your questions.

1. You are not abandoning your husband.  I'd be willing to bet that you've bent over backwards to accommodate him...doing everything you can think of to figure out what will make him happy, doing it and then discovering that nothing works.  You are probably exhausted, confused and anxious to find out what you've been doing wrong.  The answer is nothing.  You tried and tried and tried some more....for him.  Now you need to take care of yourself.  It's very important.

2.  If your husband has been name-calling, yelling, threatening you, screaming and leaving you stranded by the roadside--that IS abuse.  Abuse can be physical, verbal or emotional.  It sounds like your husband has done two and threatened one.  Abuse and ADHD don't necessarily go hand-in-hand.  There are many folks with ADHD who never raise their voice or lift a finger against their loved ones.  It sounds like your husband has something else going on here.  My husband was also verbally and emotionally abusive.   I've often described him as another one of my children...acting very immature.   I don't know why he is that way, but in many respects he's just not tuned in to people and therefore is not adept at recognizing emotions or realizing how his actions affect others.  It's not uncommon. 

3.  Nobody can tell you if divorce is the answer for you.  Some here have tried and some are trying to keep their marriage going.  It's a personal decision, but I can tell you why I made mine.  I finally came to realization that my husband would never accept his diagnosis and never seek treatment for his condition...that I would always be wrong and he would always be right....and that no matter how much you've shared together (even children), nothing will fix things unless both people are devoted to the marriage.  I was and he wasn't.  It was 26 very, very difficult years.  The only thing I wish I could change would be to have separated earlier.  It took this long for me to reach the breaking point.   It's taken me seven months to start finding myself again.....I was lost in a very awful place, but a little TLC for me has helped.  I've still got a ways to go because it still hurts....not the belief that I didn't try...I tried like heck....but that he doesn't "see". I don't know about percentages but I never put much faith in numbers anway...they're just that...not people.  Again, you have to make the divorce/separation decision.   My personal opinion is that if your husband is unwilling to go the distance....with individual and couples' counseling for as long as it takes/meds if needed....then you're going to have a very tough road ahead. 

4.  Children are wonderful, but they cannot "fix" your marriage.  I have been the primary parent for my sons since their birth.  My kids have felt ignored, abused and unappreciated by their father.  Their relationships with him are strained.  My oldest is indifferent, my middle son says he hates his father and my youngest is confused....he has special needs and doesn't understand why is father is so distant.    My husband did act out on his children...esp my middle son, who is quiet and somewhat shy.   It truly pains me to know the damage my husband has done to them.  He is not a strong male role model, but there are other men in their lives that are.  I, too, am a very committed parent and am raising them to be good men:  compassionate, caring and responsible.  I am doing my damndest to see to it.

I completely understand your depression.  I take Paxil for mine...it's helped a lot.  Can I tell you this....taking care of yourself is not selfish...it's imperative.   NOT taking care of yourself IS selfish because your condition affects others in a negative way....take your husband's unwillingness to get treatment.  That is selfish.  You're looking for help...that is not.  I think it's time for you to get off of that gut-wrenching roller coaster ride, Hope, before you fall off and injure yourself.  It might help if you can get away for awhile...so you can think more clearly and come to some decisions.  Whatever you decide, you'll have good days and bad days.  Be prepared for that.

I wish you better days ahead, Hope.  Keep us informed....you've got friends here.

hockeymom11's picture


you MUST take care of yourself. If I've learned anything from Melissa Orlov or this site is that YOU must come first.  you are not abandoning anyone but yourself if you don't.  Melissa posted that this is OUR JOURNEY to happiness and they must fix themselves.  WE cannot fix them.  If they take no ownership, accountability for their actions, YOU cannot change them.

FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY I get it.  After 14 years of misery and 11 for my children,  I'm done with him.  Melissa says we can start this journey even if still living with our spouses (which I do b/c of his excessive spending and our debt), but I sent him a note and told him I am "fixing myself" and I'm taking steps to take care of myself and my children.  He can come along on  my journey, but if he chooses not to, I AM NOT WAITING FOR HIM ANYMORE.

Best thing I've read on this ENTIRE site was that post by Melissa. 

Please don't wait.  Help yourself.  You have "cyber-friends" here who know your pain and have lived your life.  You're not alone anymore.

Link to post?

Is it possible to post a link to Melissa's post that you mention above?

"your journey"

I believe Melissa's comment to which Hockeymom is referring is here.

Drawing the line.

5 months ago I separated from my husband with ADHD, OCD & depression.  He was completely out of control.  We had been together for 10 years and he was in denial.  I kept waiting for the person I met in the beginning of the relationship to come back.  That person was never coming back.  The lying, cheating, excessive spending, computer addiction, online porn... Neglect of self, wife and home.  I could go on and on.  We do not have any kids together.  I just could not do it any longer.  My brain was deep fried.  The disorder was taking quite a toll on me.  I decided to save myself and accept that I cannot help him.  He does not want help.  I don't want to waste any more of my life.  I have been through enough.  Now I am just trying to heal and grieve the loss of my marriage.  There is no happy ending for me,  or even a "good enough" ending for me.  It is all so very tragic and sad.  Best of luck to you!  Your online friends are here for you.

Thank you all

Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my post.  It really does give some clarity on my situation and what I have to do.  I know I need to move on in order to save myself and have a life I deserve.  I'm fighting alone and the person is destroying me.     

He's not the man I thought he was

The man I married checked out as soon as he said "I do". That hyper focus stage was over. I should of cut it off then. Kids made it even more challenging. Thirty years later, not much has changed other than I know how to "deal with it" better now. I've come to believe that abuse is abuse whether he knows it or not. I don't care if he doesn't realize that he's treating me bad, it still hurts me. What is it with us women loving these men enough to try our best when they can't do the same for us?

You said yourself in one sentence, "I love love love my husband..."  then later it was "He's abandoned me/left me stranded with no way to get home, he's yelled, screamed, threatened to leave me, threatened to hit me, name-called, etc"

I'm stuck because of a financial situation my ADD so put us in and thank goodness I have a room upstairs away from him! One day, maybe I'll have the means to move on. I flat out told him "I can't believe I have to protect myself from you!"

It's so sad to end up in a place like this but, you really aren't the only one...

You definately are not alone

I've been with my ADD partner for 5 years now. And for the same reasons as you (financial) I'm still here and working towards changing that. I was very independent when we first met and got together and some how over time it all eroded. His anger outburst and other issues took me to an ugly place when I woke up and realized that the person I was had all but vanished. How did that happen? Oh being bombarded cleaning up the life messes, emotional message and attempting to develop new ways to chart a course to a better relationship at the expense of loosing ourselves! Mine took an extensive online test for ADHD and landed in high end of the scale. He was shocked even started to read a book I picked up for them and suddenly I was "hopeful". That quickly changed and was abandoned like everything else. He still denies that ADHD is a problem or a condition he has (most days) and attempts to make me think i'm responsible for all his and our problems. If they are unwilling to do anything about the issues there is nothing we can do for them besides accept the fact we must protect ourselves from them until we can get where we need to be for our own sanity.


hockeymom11's picture

so many stuck

I think so many of us are "stuck" with our ADD partners and our miserable lives because they have excessively/compulsively spent the money.  I want OUT so badly, but we have so much debt now because of him.  I'm working on paying it off slowly, but the thought of living like this for one or two more years is killing me!  We are already in separate rooms, we don't speak to each other unless absolutely necessary and I know what this is doing to my children.  They hate him and they tell me that.

I know no credit company in thier right mind would give me a card b/c of what my husband has done to our credit, but one came in the mail the other day and I filled out the application!! I KNOW I have to rebuild my credit slowly so that in the future I CAN get a car or a house.  So if they accept me I will buy something small each month (pair of socks!!!) and pay it off.  The SAD part is, my father gave me a credit card when I was 18 and told me to do this.  I feel like I've taken 300 steps backwards in my life.  I guess there is no dwelling on the past, only looking towards the future.

At least we have support hear and a friendly ear to listen to our woes.   THANKS ALL.