A wife with ADHD and a husband unwilling to acknowledge or help

I was diagnosed with ADHD about 2 and half years ago and have been fairly successfully medicated for the past year.  I currently struggle with going to bed on time, waking up before noon, and remembering to take my meds on time. 

I am currently working with a psychologist and my husband and I are seeing a couples therapist.  I am reading, Understanding women and ADHD right now, I had read other books over the years but this one is very helpful to me.  I shared a paragraph with my husband, when he asked me what had brought me to such a state of weeping almost uncontrollably, and he proceeded to tell me that most people would like it if our significant others were helping and understanding and he did not see why that would make me cry. 

Most of the time when I attempt to share anything to help him understand my behavior and a more helpful way of supporting healthy change versus yelling at me, telling me I am broken, or just blaming me for blaming ADHD for my problems, he then starts telling me his problems and tells me that everyone has problems and basically walks away.  Then I think we are making progress in couples therapy and I am fully impressed by his actions there and then a few days later he starts bashing our therapist and that he does not want to work on anything, including the negative words he uses with me because he is too tired to watch what he is saying and does not feel it is fair for him to have to watch his words like that.  I am already past wanting to fight anymore and I have no idea what more I can do to help him in seeing that a marriage is a two way relationship. 

I have made a lot of progress in my own self esteem and how to stand up for my rights, because I recognized a lot of the frustration in my husband's voice that I heard in my parents voice growing up I knew something in my head was not the same as others.  I have had a lot of support from my teachers in the past and from other strangers that I feel blessed that I did not take my life at an early age over family frustration but I did run away from them after I graduated high school and ended up in a career that I fully hated and almost let myself be taken from all joys of life.  After I went back to university that is when I went to see a councillor for help.  I got amazing help. 

I continue though to receive anything but blame from my family and my husband.  I don't want to lose the progress that I have made on myself but I feel like such a loser to have such people in my life.  Any advice?

kharris4's picture


I'm surprised to see 37 people have read this but no one has responded. That doesn't seem very helpful.  :)

First, I can totally relate to your situation with being under-validated from your husband.  I'm also an ADHD wife, though not officially diagnosed. (I'm wrestling with finding the "right" doctor to talk to, justifying the expense of being diagnosed, and trying to overcome a bad experience with one dr. who brought me to rolling tears in her office when she basically told me she didn't believe me. I'd spent all afternoon working up the courage to see her about it, and in 10 minutes she crippled me by denying to offer to help me with an ADHD diagnosis, and instead sent me home with free sample depression medication.  sigh, I digress)  

However, I'm also an undergrad psych student, and I've spent a lot of time reading and studying recent research on ADHD. I also have a have a younger brother who I grew up watching being treated for ADHD with both medication and neuro-feedback.  So I'm able to at least process reasons for brain impairment and understand much of the reasons for struggles in my own 17 yr marriage. 

But----back to relating to you--- because I'm not diagnosed or medicated for it, I'm at a similar loss that you describe. My family thinks I'm a "hypochondriac" over the whole ADHD issue and I cannot get validation for the problem.  In turn, it's really hard for me to continue to explain to the husband how my brain thinks different and get any sort of understanding back from him.  It's as if I were trying to tell my dog how the refrigerator works. In Sign Language. He just cannot comprehend, and I continue to get more and more upset that I can't explain it better, and on and on.  (I mean, how MANY visual analogies can one person use?)

It sounds like a bit of a validation issue for you too, because you are excited to know that you have a reason why your brain doesn't work the way you want, and you're working on it with progress but you cannot get your husband to rally with you with the same excitement.  For him, it just feels like more work with little payback.  That must be really frustrating for you both, but don't give in to giving up just yet.  And definitely let's address what you said about feeling like "...such a loser to have such people in my life."  

Something I've found really helpful myself,  is to talk out loud to "that part of yourself" that you know is defeating you.  If you feel that inability to keep doing something long-term because the payoff isn't quick enough, or because your feeling defeated emotionally, talk to yourself and remind yourself that this part of your brain is impaired.  "This is the part of me that won't let me keep going. I know that  it's tough to keep heading down this road because it doesn't feel rewarding. But I know that it's working because....." and list every benefit you can think of. Write them down if you have to.  Reminding yourself outloud and verbally will help you process it better and help promote change in negative thinking patterns. This will help you continue, even if others around you are less than exhuberant about it.

It sounds like you have some helpful resources already employed, medication and counseling, so talk to your professional about giving you some specific kudos also.  Maybe take a list of all that you've accomplished during the week, and speficially ask your counselor to give you "hoorahs" for each one.  That's okay!  If your counselor is familiar with the limitations of ADD/HD, they will recognize your need to get some cheers in.  

Also, you might in turn really encourage your husband and thank him over and over again for attending counseling with you.  Practice phrases like, "I know you're really showing me your love by attending counseling with me, so thank you so much for working with me, and not against me in this".  Be genuine too.  (It sounds like you already are!) Sometimes I think when we find out that we are ADHD, we get very hyperfocused on our own progress, which leaves our spouses feeling really left out and un-engaged with their own lives too. (which is what it sounds like, when your husband responds with, "I have problems too").

Hope this gives you a few specific things to try!!

P.S.  I really love to write, but as an ADHDer......it took me almost 3 hours to write this response, b/c I always have a horrible time organizing my thoughts onto paper. It's a review/edit process at least 10xs.  LOL!

In the nick of time!

Thank you both for sharing, I'm in the middle of frustration meltdown because of husbands words and blame game. There is much more I would like to share, but i too need an hour or more! :) I will be posting ASAP -- 

I understand

I am a ADHD wife, and was told I was a roommate, and that "we needed to see someone who deals with ADHD". This was both after I found out husband was talking with a "friend" of mine (who is SINGLE) for THOUSANDS of minutes. I say EMOTIONAL affair, texts up to 40 times one day. I know that a lot of my behaviors are my responsibility (I take accountability for them now), but when I asked him why he stayed so long , he said "because my family doesn't believe in divorce". WTF. He asked me the same question, I said "because I accepted you for who you ARE!. I was unhappy, yes, but I knew that he was who he was because of his childhood. Anyways, I realized I want someone who loves me for ME, and not who they want me to be. Filed for divorce, and we have been separated now for almost 9 months. I must admit, I am happier now than I have been in a very long time. I realized that being in this relationship brought me down. What man says "I love my wife, and you can too for $19.95"? That is suppose to make me feels good-- NO!! I am working on my listening skills, thinking what to say BEFORE I say it, and other behaviors. Seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist, and Hey both agree that I need to get out of this marriage. I am currently in college, and love learning. Can't wait for my future, and someone who can love me just the way I am. Nobody if perfect!! NOBODY!!