I have been searching high and low on the internet for help with this burning question. My boyfriend has ADHD. He wants to get married. I have gone over every possible "should you get married" questionair, searched myself, used my brain, used my heart.. Every time, I come back to the same place... Can I live with his ADHD how it is for the rest of my life? If it were never to change or improve, could I deal with that. Would I want my future kids to deal with that????? I never have an answer... I think because I don't know what exactly it means for my future... I am hoping to find an answer or the beginings of an answer here.
A little background on him and how ADHD has effected our relationship so far:
He was diagnosed as a teenager, he is now 33, and has tried several different medications and counciling with a ADHD specialist. It helps.. To a certain degree... Obviously it never goes away.. He doesn't like taking his medication and has stopped for the last year or so. We experimented with herbal remedys and have found those to more helpful than the prespriction varieties.
We been together for 2 years and lived together for 21 months of the 24 we have been together. It's like he becomes a whole other person when he is effected by it... When he is himself he is caring, calm, insightful, great at communicating in a calm manner... and then it's like a switch (I mean immediatly over a period of 3-4 seconds) and he changes his whole manner... He gets stuck on one thought and then as he continues to talk or think about it gets more and more tangled and not about anything we were originally talking about. He gets really upset, passionate, angry (never hitting or anything) it's like he goes from a 3 to a 8 or 9 in a matter of seconds and it's not even what we were talking about! He has tried to explain how his brain doesn't connect things when he is thinking... Here is one example of a conversation that happened just the other day..
Me: I wonder how you would go about cutting a whole in a wall to make a doggy door...
Him: Oh you measure and go right through, I think it should be simple...
Me: yeah..I don't know how I feel about just making a hole in a wall of my house....
Him: What? you would decide not to do something like that because of this? (typical of him to be VERY general to a point where I have no idea what he is talking about)
Me: Hmm? I just mean I would be wary of doing it.
Him: Wow I can't believe you would want to buy a house without making any improvements to it, that is incredible... How can you think like that? Why would you think like that?
Me: *silence*( Its easy to see we are no longer talking about how to make dog doors and I usually choose silence at this point)
Him: *5 minutes later* sorry...
Another example would be him letting over 25 letters come from the DMV and leaving them unopeneded. Only to find out later they were telling him he had an unpaid ticket and his license was suspended (5 months AFTER it was suspended ) Whereas if he had opened the letters paid the 50 dollars it would have been fine.
He just gets overwhelmed by things because he can't think them through in a rational way....I lovingly call this his "episodes of irrationality" Some of the ways we have tried to cope are as follows:
- We set up a code word. He said in one conversation about his ADHD that he doesn't realize he is slipping into these "epdisodes" until after it's over. I would always aggrivate the situation by trying to tell him he was being irrational and yadda yadda yadda... So we decided the code word of "strawberrys" ( I let him pick a word that made him think happythoughts) would be said when I first noticed signs of him slipping into an episode. It works to a certain point. But once he is past that point it doesnt.
- Opening the mail. We agreed and decided, after the DMV letter issue, that because we live together and depend on him being able to go to work and contribute that I would open all "important" mail. IE. from the DMV, IRS, Work related stuff, etc. and find a good time to show it to him and talk about any action that needed to take place. This has worked GREAT.
- The bill pay account: After a year of living together i grew tired of him overdrawing his bank account, not paying his share of the bills on time. And not for lack of trying. He doesn't go on spending sprees and is actually quite frugal. He just doesn't manage it well. So, I suggested we set him up with a second checking account that we call the "bill pay account" we sat down and budgeted how much of his paycheck each month went to bills and rent. So when he deposited his check he automatically deposts the same amount of money into the bill pay account each month. Then we set all of his bills on auto pay from that account. Now he doesn't have to think about it. Everything gets paid on time and he has not overdrawn his account in the last year since we did this.
- Lists I started making lists of anything I needed or wanted from him. From taking out the dog in the morning, to our weekly agreed upon chore schedule (which is hanging on the fridge for both of us to review) I try to make these notes and lists loving and encouraging Instead of nagging.. I don't know how well I suceed.
- Cutting off the alcohol: He is not what I would call a mean drunk. He is however a very unpleasant, un reasonable one. We both enjoy our wine and cocktails but have agreed that tipsy is as high as it goes. When he goes past that point it just becomes one long episode. To encourage this, I limit myself to the same level as him. That way I can encrouage him to cut himself off but cutting myself off. It works every time.
- Discussing situations before-hand: There will be times when I know there is going to be a situation that does not lend itself well to his ADHD. Driving 6 hours to my parents house for a visit, going to target etc. I try and bring it up before hand and talk about being aware of his feelings and letting me know his limits of control before things boil over so we can make a change to the situation. This works some of the time... not a lot though.
These are just some of the things we do on a daily basis to cope. Do you think these are helpful or will be more damaging in the long run??
Our relationship is actually (inspite of this) one the healthiest I have been in or heard of. I truly love him in all of his spontanious, quirky ways and can honestly say I am truly happy at least some point in every day when I think about my life with him. I am just afraid that if I take this step and marry him that I will find it unmanagable at some point.... I'm scared of the consequences it will have on our future kids... This is the only thing holding me back... I am ready to jump in on every other level......... am I being too picky? too wary? Are there ways to make sure we can manage this in our marriage and family life... Or will it always be a what if, every day...? I am willing to put in almost any amount of effort into this.. I just want to know that effort will pay off. At the end of all this I keep coming back to one thing. He is aware of his ADHD, he is MORE THAN WILLING (and I feel so blessed by this) to recognize and work on it by many different ways. But will that ever be enough? I don't want to be these women who 30 years later say they would never have done it again. Please help...