Wife says ADHD is garbage

Hi all. I am new to the forum. It has been 1 1/2 years since my now 16 year old son was diagnosed and about a year for me. Still going through the "oh, so that's why..." of the things in my past. And of course, my wife of 20 years and I are room mates. We have our son, 16 and daughter 20 living at home. Both professionally employed and both kids in school.

My wife and I had our first counseling session about a two weeks ago. During the session, she "laundry listed" everything that has happend "to her" that was the result of something I did starting from before we were married. I have apologized a month earlier for everything I did put her through. Didn't realize I was doing it until I knew why. I want to get a handle on all of this and work together. She told my in the session to quit using the ADHD as an excuse. I told her that I was not using it as an excuse, but as a reason why.

Towards the end of the session, she was talking to the counselor and said that the ADHD was garbage. Kind of puts a damper on things especially since our son is truly ADHD, still trying to dial in the meds and learning new ways to do things. I am 54 and on meds  and have had a long time to develop a lots of "work arounds", but still willing to learn.

My concern is if she doesn't think the ADHD is real, how can we work on our relationship?  I know she has lots of anger and un-forgiveness that has been built up. She does not try to understand what ADHD is and how people with it just do things differently. She still talks at us and calls our 16 year old son, "lazy" "you just won't try" "it's not up to MY standards". Both my son and I are creatives (big surprise). I have been a commercial photographer and cameraman in the film and video industry ( as well as advertising, music, producer, etc.) and my son has won awards for his art work and he plays several styles of music on the guitar (self-taught). My wife works with a doctor and is very precise and excellent at what she does (and she will tell you she is). I described our relationship to the counselor as "She is linear and black & white and I am oblique and technicolor".  We driver her crazy.

Since being on the meds, I have not "avoided" interaction with her when she starts barking orders and criticizing (son and I). I have studied as much as I can. I share with my son. I have listen the "The ADHD Marriage four times so far along with Driven to Distraction.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.



carathrace's picture

3 cheers for trying differently

Hi Larry, welcome and three cheers for you, for "trying differently"!  I agree with you that it's your wife's resentments and unforgiveness that are behind her refusal to acknowledge and make allowances for ADHD.  She's got a lot pent up in there.  It also sounds like she's more than a bit perfectionistic.  Is your counselor one who "gets" ADHD?  That's very important.  There have been couples on the forum whose recovery has been damaged or set back by a counselor who minimizes the effect on ADHD on the marriage.  If your counselor is ADHD-savvy, maybe he or she is giving your wife time to vent her frustrations before getting to the ADHD issues.  I'm sorry you have these obstacles when you're hoping to move ahead.

As I'm sure you've heard by now in Melissa's book, it's not about trying harder, but about trying differently.  I applaud you and your son for your accomplishments in the arts and hope you'll keep on.  And it's good that you and your son can learn together about ADHD's effects and find coping strategies that work for you both.

Words of encouragement

Thank you for your response. It is hard enough trying to "get a handle" on everything. Worst case scenario, person with ADD with multiple major changes at one time. New job (cubicle, quiet, gray, not very stimulating or creative-NOT my first choice, but she is happy), Daughter starting college, 16 son with ADHD (enough said), trying to go to counseling with someone that does not talk to me, missing my old world, friends, interests, medication-works for work, but missing the craziness., everyday is a struggle. I describe the new awareness (ADD) as: being raised all your life being right-handed and discovering you are really left-handed. That is why things never felt "right".

I believe that I am more sad for her. Beside me making her crazy and now my realizing how unforgiving and mean she has been to me, I still see that she is troubled with other things from her past. We (the kids and I) have always known that we were the "do over" marriage and family from her first marriage (she left). Its obvious that she just wanted someone to take care of her while giving nothing back*.

Thanks again

Some thoughts from a non ADHD spouse

My wife was diagnosed almost two years ago. She is on meds but has not yet taken steps toward counseling. We are just now realizing how pervasive ADHD is in our relationship. While I have some level of understanding how ADHD affects her, it is still extremely trying to deal with the symptoms. There are many ways to define or describe these that you will find in books, and on these forums. From my perspective ADHD manifests itself in a pattern of behavior that is best described as narcissistic. There are countless posts on here from people that have endured this type of relationship for 10,20,30+ years. I am at six and counting and believe me, it is getting old. While you may question your wife's statements, my advice is to listen a bit. After 20 years of dealing with undiagnosed ADHD she has earned it.