The world doesn't get it

Hi Friends,


I've been around for some time, reading your posts and finding great consolation in all the experience you're sharing here. However, since it doesn't make the problem magically go away, I felt I needed to put my two cents in on a topic that I has been really bothering me.

I've been in a relationship with a possible ADD/ADHD-er for some time now, it's been a few years (hopefully, soon to be officially diagnosed). We're both approaching middle age, but we're still young. She's a caring, loving, very likeable person. We care about each other a lot, and I know she's trying very hard, but it's also very frustrating for me to see that all her effort (and mine) has brought little to no results so far.

Since the very beginning, weird things kept happening, but it took me a really long time to even start connecting the dots. Once it clicked, it was quite a revelation, since it gave me a direction. I suddenly had all that scientific knowledge to relate to and great places like this board where I could go and discover I'm not the only one having that kind of trouble with the SO. And sometimes simply to convince myself I'm not mad. That when I feel angry, frustrated, tired and burnt out the way I often do, it's a normal way to respond to the ongoing, everyday struggle with her symptoms.

Since the very beginning, I've had this feeling I'm not coping too well alone, and I also feel quite lonely in my relationship. Because of her absent-mindedness (and sometimes overfocus on insignificant details), I don't really have the feeling we're able to discuss things too deeply and truly come to conclusions, at least not to the point that would be satisfying for me. So I've been talking to friends about it from time to time, if only to blow off some steam. When I discovered what the underlying issue was, I introduced the name ADHD to some of those talks.

Which brings me to the point: regardless of whether the issue is named or not, it seems like the outside world doesn't really get it. I mean, I can talk a lot, say thing like "X is doing this and that", "it's really annoying for me that X does this", "I fell like I'm drowning in chaos", etc., and the only feedback I'd get is "well, that's X for you!", "yeah, we know she's messy sometimes, but surely you're overreacting", "it can't be that bad", "there's two sides to every story", "maybe you're not listening to her", "it's really hard for me to imagine", and, last but not least, "so she has some really weird ways of doing things, but why do you care? it's her time and let her manage it". I've been getting that from friends, some of whom know her quite well, but also from therapists. It's making me sink even deeper into "there's no hope" thinking.

On the other hand, I understand this quite well. When she focuses, she can be a good partner in conversations, and her hyperfocus and the occasional interruptions are interpreted as deep interest. If she gets distracted, she's really good at keeping up the appearance of listening, even if she doesn't register a single word. If she talks about our shared problems with our shared friends, she always gives logical explanations for everything, that have nothing to do with ADHD. She can present herself as a victim of circumstance, usually has a wide variety of excuses for every occasion (that she seems to honestly believe in), it's always a "temporarily busy period in her life", and she very often mixes up cause and effect, showing our trouble as a result of my decision, rather than my decisions being the effect of her erratic behaviors. She underplays her mistakes, often saying "I think it's not true", or "ok, that did happen, but it happens to everyone", or "well, I think maybe from time to time it happens to me that I can be late sometimes, but I really don't think it happens so often". Also, she uses lots of "honest lies", like "I understood this differently", where in fact the message was quite clear. But from the outside perpective, it always appears very logical and convincing. So, both the way she communicates with the outside world and the message really create the illusion of a non-ADHD person, maybe a bit messy, maybe a bit absent-minded, but all-in-all, within the limits of what's usually described as "normal". She's often late with deadlines, but covers it up with excuses or speeds up for the final sprint, so it's often "only an hour late" or only "5 minutes late", or sometimes "barely, but still on time" - nobody except me knows what's been going on behind the scenes. She's always very attentive when it comes to looking for possible explanations, so whenever something happens to explain her delay, she uses it as an argument.

Bottom line: I feel like there's no other person in the world who'd be able to understand this, and I mean truly understand. I can describe dozens and hundreds of everyday situations, but it's still just a description of separate events, it doesn't even begin to cover what it's actually like to be living it. Every time we're together, I feel like I'm in this weird singularity that's sucking out all my energy and strength, where space and time mean something different, and the communication can be an absolute nightmare - it's like the words mean different things, and even if formally we both speak the same language, there's something happening in the communication channel so that virtually every message get through distorted. The simplest, everyday actions like going for a walk, or shopping, can turn into a life-draining struggle. And the simplest decisions, like deciding what shoes to wear, can take long hours and usually mean never-ending debates I'm involved in.

But when I say I have trouble communicating, or doing things together, or not coping well with the chaos, it always feels like I'm only scratching the surface, without really describing the true nature of the problem, no matter how many examples I give. Sometimes, it makes me doubt myself, because once I'm done talking, it always feels inadequate. And then I sometimes feel like maybe I'm the one with the problem, since, once put in words, those things don't really seem like something to even worry about, and definitely not to be described as a "living hell" that I sometimes feel I'm in. So maybe I'm the one making something out of nothing. It's only once you experience all of them at the same time, with all intensity, frequency and absurdity, that you get this internal understanding of the problem, but I often doubt that's something that can be conveyed. And sometimes I really need to, because I feel like I'm on the brink of madness, and just need to talk and be understood.

So, my questions are:

-> Do you also feel like your SOs are really good actors, and may seem pretty "standard" to the outside world, most of the action happening "behind the scenes"?

-> Do you find the same difficulties with accurately describing your problems? Do you think neither a clinical list of symptoms, nor a lengthy list of examples really describe the issue? That's it a matter of "I feel it" rather than "I comprehend it"?


Anyone care to comment?

I'll comment at greater

I'll comment at greater length later, but for now, I just want to say welcome to the site but sorry you need to be here.  

I have a slightly longer

I have a slightly longer reply now.  

My answers to your questions are yes and yes.  

I'm now divorced; my ex and I were married for more than 30 years. He is basically a nice guy.  Other people find him charming, for the most part.  But he was unemployed or underemployed for more than half of our marriage, so the  need for him to interact with people on a daily or near-daily basis in a workplace was limited and there aren't a lot of people who know him well.  His experience with people who know him well seems more mixed.  That is, they're not necessarily charmed by him.  And I think there's a strong possibility that he was let go from his first (of only two) good jobs because of personality issues, although I was not aware of the ADHD at the time.  

I also agree that it's hard to describe the issues accurately, at least without violating my ex's privacy.  For example, a huge issue for me was his communication (or lack thereof).  Several years ago, he became his parents' part-time caregiver, in a city 150 miles away.  So he'd be there four days per week and at our home three days per week.  When he was gone, he rarely called or emailed or responded to calls or emails.  And by rarely, I mean, maybe he'd contact me once per month.  This, from a guy who still claims that our marriage was the best thing that ever happened to him.  Talking about this to other people makes him or me seem nuts, or both.    

Yes and Yes

Yes, I feel that my husband often appears doting and attentive when we are out and people assume that our entire marriage is like that.  Sigh.  He has good reasons/excuses for lapses both in public and in private. 

Yes, I do experience the same difficulties.  Individually, they seem insignificant and I run the risk of appearing frivolous if I bring them up.  

I often use this forum to vent for the reasons you describe.  I was the beneficiary of some very hurtful, not useful and damaging advice early in the marriage.  The people meant well but advice for and non/non marriage doesn't always translate to an adhd/non marriage.  I'm talking simple things like "why don't you just divide up the chores, how hard can that be???"  "JUST make a family calendar".... "you're being too easy on him"  "You're not communicating what you need from him" "you're being too hard on him that's why he's not responding" ugggh.  Too many of us on this board know how useful this advice is.  

It can be crazy making.  I stopped talking about it almost altogether. But that is lonely and  isolating.  I have 2 close friends who are very aware of the situation and we chat about it every now and then.  I don't burden them and I don't want our entire friendship to be about me unloading frustration.  I find that they understand concrete things better than the build up of not so little little things.  For example, they can understand how I feel about lack of impulsive control and visiting dating sites.  They can understand how I feel about lying.  They can understand how I might feel yoked to someone so ridiculously lacking in financial fluency.  They get it and they get how ADHD might contribute BUT it's harder, much harder, to explain all the little crap and how it eats away at you. Things like it's July and my H still hasn't changed his tax withholding and I've been talking about it since December or he's driving a car that has been uninspected since October they kinda get that frustration but think he's just kind of stupid and don't understand how it's tied into a wealth of frustrating behavior and communication. 

And, oh yeah, the "honest lies."  Uggh.  And I don't want to call him out in front of other people.  Besides, it makes me look bad too. 

It can be absurd and surreal and lonely.  


Reading your post made me think of why I isolated so much. People don't get it, and I guess I just gave up completely. Somehow the non spouse keeps looking worse to most people. It does not help that we defend the other spouse to others sometimes.  And I think I just accepted that and gave up the fight.  Too tired of fighting, even if its for the right thing. I hope I can leave with a smidgeon of sanity and start over, digging myself out of the hole I put myself in....

No the world does not get it

I agree with you completely on the fact that the world does not get it.  We have tried for awhile to find a counselor that understood effects of ADHD.  We finally got referred to a psychologist, with the "specializes in ADHD".  She had no idea.... Until I found Melissa's book, I thought I was crazy (my husband still thinks I am crazy and blowing this all out of proportion).  He still does not agree that he has ADD, but ironically takes his ADD meds fairly regularly (he once blurped on accident that it helps him at work). The problem is the meds wear out by the time he gets home and besides, meds don't fix everything.

Its good to read some of the posts here, as living with ADD partner can truly challenge one's sanity, and I think I am loosing mine....  DH constantly shares our problems with his "friends" (more like people that will listen). And I feel like I never even get a chance to say my side of the story, which is probably silly because unless you lived it, its very hard to understand. But why can't one of them at least question about his part in the problems?  There has got to be someone thats wise enough to at least ask?  Long story short, I am a horrible wife and he keeps calling me an emotional abuser.  That probably hurts the most. After I gave and gave and gave and gave some more, he really believes I used him somehow.  What??? And to all his friends I am a witch. 

Anyway, at this point it doesn't matter, as I just want my sanity back and much yearned for, peace.  I made some big mistakes of hiding his mistakes from people around us, and frequently took the blame for the consequences b/c I felt so bad for him. In fact I apologized for a lot of things early in the relationship. He is such a nice guy, after all...  Big mistake and it completely backfired.  A really sad thought occurred to me the last few weeks--my DH has never truly apologized for anything to me that I can remember.  How did I not pick it up earlier?

I digress again, sorry.  I made a decision to leave my husband yesterday (thats after several years of deep down knowing thats probably the best choice).   I still love him very much, but the cost of that love is more than I can handle. What is it about these people that makes us stick around and keep hurting? I feel terrible about this, as I feel he is so darn helpless and the worst of it he does not realize it.... But I have to keep telling myself that he is a grown man and can take care of himself.  I am sure my warm feelings won't last long as he refused to do this peacefully and wants to fight for mutual property--for our house that fell in such disrepair that we can't even sell it at this time without owing a bank substantial amount.  Why? Haven't we fought enough and argued enough? I guess not. I am just so very tired....


I understand your feelings...BigSurprise....

#1...Is Yes...Shame causes that....But I will add (to be fair) that there is no way a person could understand without living with them like you do....So please be careful about venting to your close friends....They will learn to dislike her and not want to fellowship w/ you guys...(and that is not your goal)....

#2...No...You could acually list the behaviors....But it would take a while because it effects most every aspect of their lives...Plus...They are more effected at times, than they are at others times...Which is probably the reason you say it must be felt or experienced...Wanting to understand it, is what causes us so much inter-conflict with in our selves....

Remember this....Many people are just difficult to live with, and it's not always intentional on their part....The knowledge of my comment doesn't change the results you experience, but, it's true anyway...It's always the most important issue to consider before we make a life time commitment....But our emotions usually blind us to that kind of awareness until it's to late....


It's a very ambivalent thing

c ur self,

You replied "no" to the second question, but a few sentences later you wrote "But I will add (to be fair) that there is no way a person could understand without living with them like you do", which is the actual answer to question 2...

But I get your point. Mine was, listing the behaviors still doesn't do it, it's not the whole picture. I feel like there's something very surreal in such a relationship that cannot be captured by any description.

I know it's not their fault. Trust me, I do. And I actually think it adds up to the frustration. Because I know we're both trying, and both keep failing. Sometimes it lessens the anger for the spouse, but the frustration remains, because it's caused by your spouse's actions, not by the fact "they're a bad person". They can be the sweetest being in the world, and you still have to deal with their actions. So, I think there's much ambivalence, because on one hand you love them, and on the other, they can irritate you like no other person in the world.

Yes, I'm careful not to overdo it

So please be careful about venting to your close friends....They will learn to dislike her and not want to fellowship w/ you guys...(and that is not your goal)....

Yes, I know it's risky. That's why it's only a group of 2 or 3 close friends whom I can trust and I know they won't start hating me or her. It's impossible to live with it and not share it from time to time. But I'm always careful both in terms of quantity (not loo much, not too long, not too intensive) and quality (always stress her positive traits too).

Thank you for your comments

Thank you for your comments so far, and, although sad, it's also consoling to see how much we have in common.

PoisonIvy, about the long-distance thing, I often notice that if we're apart and my partner is busy, she often tries calling me all the time but can literally find no time for it. But she keeps thinking about it. And then calls and says "ok, I can't talk right now, gotta go" and hangs up. Sometimes she'll again after 10 minutes, and 10 minutes later, and 10 minutes later, and so on and so forth. But sometimes she'll go silent for hours or even days.

vabeachgal, it's like I'm reading about my own life. In my spouse's life, there are unresolved things that must inevitably lead to a disaster, but she's always 5 minutes late. Like the mobile is starting to fail, so she says "I must finally buy a new one". She starts doing endless research, but never actually buys one, and then one day the phone is dead, and she can't make some very urgent call, and then there's also great fuss about the lost contacts, because she had intended to make a copy, but never did. Or the car that's making strange noise, so she must take it to a repair shop, but she keeps driving it until it breaks down in the middle of the road, and then she's late for a meeting (even more then she would have been anyway), and cannot call for help or to the people she's meeting, because that's the moment the battery dies - she had forgotten to recharge it, although she honestly had intended to.

Sunnymirage, I sort of became a recluse these days. And it's quite natural that your spouse's friends, who don't know anything about what your life actually looks like, see nothing to raise their suspicion. So when your spouse tells a story, they make the assumption it's a more or less objective picture, and then will usually respond with advice that might be great for non-ADHD, but may also be very destructive for an ADHD-er and their relation. Because they often say "there's obviously something wrong with your spouse", not knowing how much effort the spouse makes, how much patience they show, how much sadness and loneliness they feel. And this sinks in very deeply in the ADHD mind, which, from my experience, is usually on a constant lookout for proof they're right, sane, good, there's nothing wrong with them, and basically anything that can counter-balance their low self esteem.


Bigsurprise, thank you for your comment.  You are probably right and its not fair to expect other people to know what is really going on. Yet it so hurtful when you cant even defend yourself from misinformation.  I do think that ADD partners have a bit of a twisted view on reality (and yes, I know people see things differently, but I think some things are still rather concrete). So sometimes I do think they sincerely believe they are telling the full story when they talk to people...which makes it even more sad and forces me to question my sanity again and again.

Your life sounds incredibly chaotic.....I hope your partner would consider some medications to at least bring the chaos a few notches down. It does sound like she cares for you.

After Melissa's workshop, I have looked into the issue of codependency.  Although its originated for families with alcoholism, it can occur living with other difficult conditions. I definitely could relate right away and am doing the work little by little. I used to feel 0 control in my own life, everything was a constant hurricane.  A little by little I am recapturing some control for my own life.  Makes me wonder if others are dealing with it as a result of long term relationships with ADD/ADHD partner... I am reading "One foot in front of the other" right now, its a daily short reading blurbs. I really really like it, its like a small infusion of hope every morning and serves like a layer of protection from the daily chaos of ADD.....


In my experience, people with

In my experience, people with ADHD cause a lot of external chaos within their own lives, within their marriages, and within their families. This, in and of itself, can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting for spouses and children. But, if you put yourself in the shoes of the ADHD person, you realize that they must have a ton of internal chaos to be able to create so much external chaos. I am extremely sensitive to the energy around me and I feel as though I absorb the internal chaos of my husband and my son, both have ADHD. Taking in their internal chaos, for me, is where I become exhausted to my very core. It effects my health and changes who I am as a person. No outsider could ever relate to or understand this concept. 

Are you sensitive to the energy around you? Does your mood change if you're with negative or positive people?

Hopeful Heart,

Hopeful Heart,

I think I could describe myself as a very emphatic person. I always think about the needs of other people, to the point of sacrificing my own needs. I feel the pain of my spouse and it becomes my pain. I feel guilt for hurting her, even if it wasn't my intention. I feel her hurt when she thinks I'm unjust. It's like a feedback loop, where I feel for both of us.

The chaos... I don't think I internalize it. I try to cope with it in the linear fashion, which is not adequate. In the other thread, I said it was like solving a puzzle with all elements shifting places at once. It's an exhausting puzzle, because you must always be vigilant and react as soon as the shift occurs. But it's also exhausting because it never seems to end, and it's very rarely that you can pause and catch your breath.


To answer your question clearly: yes, I'm strongly affected by the mood.

I think this might be the reason why passive aggression always hits me like a nuclear missile.

Good for you!!

You're very fortunate that you don't internalize the ADHD. I wish I could learn not to. 

You are probably a "highly sensitive person"

Dear Hopeful Heart and BigSurprise, 

You both have  characteristics of what has been described as being a highly sensitive person in the literature regarding relationships.  It correlates with intelligence and empathy. Highly sensitive people feel emotions quite strongly. They are unusually attuned to those around them. They are very empathetic. They are detail oriented. They are conscientious and concerned about  others.  Elaine Aaron, Ph.D. has written about this.   Her books help me understand myself better, and then understand how that dynamic affected  my relationship with my undiagnosed and untreated ADHD spouse and children.  Highly sensitive people who care so much about others can be sucked dry emotionally, as it were, by personal partners who are inattentive because HSPs work so hard to care for others but then there is no one to love and care for them.

This is not untrue. :)

This is not untrue. :)

But it makes me wonder, aren't most nons who are here HSPs? "Lowly sensitives" usually break the relationship when they think it's not working for them, and yet, we're all here, trying to find ways to make it work.

You are exactly right, Orthogirl

i am a highly sensitive person. I am quite familiar with Elaine Aaron.  I have also suspected that many on this sight are HSP's because they are so desperate to save their marriages and families. 

Thank you so much for acknowledging this.

Hopeful Heart,

Hopeful Heart,

It's interesting to see how our responses are in sync. :)

I have another theory, also.

I have another theory, also. I think that HSPs are bothered more by the lack of intimacy and emotional connection. I suspect that there are many couples that stay extremely busy pursuing worldly things and outward gratification. They don't miss the intimacy. But, HSPs desperately need a connection, so we end up here looking for answers.

My former boss has ADHD, and

My former boss has ADHD, and I think she is highly sensitive.  So it's not just the nons who can feel things strongly.

Thank you for adding that. It

Thank you for adding that. It's hard for me to imagine a HSP with ADHD. My husband is so inward thinking and out of touch with his environment. It's interesting to know that those two  situations can exist together. 

I agree w/ this 100% Hopeful Heart....

From one HSP to another....I'm also a believer, and every thing the bible teach's me about our roles as  Husbands and Wives, can't happen unless there is Closeness, Openness, Honor and Respect between us....



I am a non and definitely would fall into the "highly sensitive person' spectrum. I'm an empath and am finally learning to not take on others 'shit' so to speak and not pull in all the negative energy from my partner, while trying to make them feel better. And the inattentiveness of my adhd partner is probably the worst of the symptoms (for me). 

I fully understand

 Dear BigSurprise,

 Yes, there is one other person in the world who can understand this and that person is me -  when I read that line in your post above I felt that I had to finally register on the site and post a comment. This website and the book The ADHD Effect on Marriage  quite literally changed my life because  finally helped me understand what I had lived on a day today basis over 20 years of marriage. Unfortunately, I found the website after  my marriage had failed and I had filed for divorce. I'll never know if finding it sooner would've made a difference because my ex-husband  was happy in the marriage because I worked hard to meet his needs and, like many people with ADHD,  he is pretty happy as he is but he does not fully understand the long-term cumulative damage that untreated symptoms do to a personal partnership or  marriage. 

 My ex-husband was born in the 50s and was never formally diagnosed with ADHD.  I found this website and subsequently read the book  as a result of trying to figure out what had happened to my marriage and my life.  Reading about some of the common symptoms that are frustrating for the personal partner, such as procrastination, innumerable unfinished projects, chaos within the home, poor time management / disappearing  for hours, and the highly inheritable nature of ADHD led me to this website.   It is still tragically upsetting to me to realize that even though all three of our children were given a diagnosis of ADHD by a psychiatrist,  The possibility of the condition in one of us as parents was never raised.  We did attend marital counseling and the counselor never considered  this possibility. Once I began learning about inattentive ADHD  The pieces all fell into place.  Over and over I read on this website and in books about ADHD comments or  descriptions that are precisely what I experienced such as feeling like my ex-husband was another child for me to take care of, his sibling saying he has always been a space cadet, he himself saying he is a "nice guy," years of frustration about not having help with paying bills and managing finances, always being late, constant clutter from unfinished projects throughout the house, and worst of all the utter loneliness and despair and depression that resulted  when I had a medical problem and needed him to be there for me emotionally and physically and rise to the occasion so to say and he could not or would not do so.  

 So I want you  to know that it's not you, it is the unmanaged ADHD.  You are perfectly normal in your  reactions to the effects of this condition. You were absolutely right that those who  are in an intimate relationship with an individual with ADHD are highly affected by the symptoms whereas  others outside the relationship or not.  I am tearful even now because the ADHD effect was so gradual and subtle and  something I did not understand. I was fully committed to working hard to make our  marriage  successful and to raise our children well. Therefore, I tried harder and harder and became more and more frustrated, angry, and isolated. As is described in the book,  I learned that asking for attention and help was unsuccessful so I became strident and upset and that was likewise unsuccessful.    So my emotional needs went unmet  and then on top of that I was physically exhausted by doing all the things that my ex-husband always said he would do but just  never got around to getting accomplished, important things like paying the bills and doing the taxes, etc.    Outsiders looking in don't realize how depressing it is to be with a partner who is unreliable and inconsistent. They don't understand the devastating effects of loss of trust in your partner.   The situation is made worse when one's partner is kind of like a kid himself and the children side with the parent that lets them do what they want to do as opposed to the parent that is trying to instill discipline.  

 So to answer your question, I don't feel that my ADHD spouse was a good actor per se but I do think that those outside the marriage  are not personally affected by the symptoms unless they have to work with the person with ADHD closely, such is in a work group. I now understand why my son's classmates were unhappy with him when  their school made them perform group projects. My son is nice and pleasant but he would not plan or do his portion of the project until the last minute so of course the other kids had to take up the slack. That caused problems and that would be similar to the dynamics within a marriage. The other dynamic is that it still pains me that outsiders think of me as an angry, frustrated, intolerant or, as my ex-husband describes me, "difficult" person when I really am not that way. I came across as being  that way for years and years as a result of the stress, depression, and sheer emotional exhaustion and isolation that was the result of trying to keep it together with an untreated ADHD spouse and children. But, one good thing that has come out of  finally learning about ADHD is that I don't think the symptoms are deliberate, so I don't think that our significant others are true "actors" which would imply that they know what they're doing, but nonetheless the end result is still highly stressful for the personal partner.

Your second question basically sums up what happened to me as regards developing feelings that I did not comprehend.  I developed situational depression.   But of course, there are always lots of things that one can blame and I did not want to admit to myself that it was my marriage because leaving the marriage would affect our children. So  all of us, myself and my ex-spouse and my children, made excuses such as it must be my stressful job or I'm getting older or hormonal imbalance  or my difficult character, etc., etc.   I knew that I did not feel loved by my ex-husband. I made a commitment to stay in the marriage so I suppressed my feelings and my need for love. That suppression led to depression.    You are correct that I would not have been able to fully explain how I felt to anyone who had not personally lived with a partner with ADHD. And I think that is exactly what happens to people who see counselors who have no personal experience as regards living with someone with ADHD. That is why Melissa Orlov and her book changed my life. SHE had lived this and her experience was what I lived for years.   Her book allowed me to understand that I'm not crazy, I'm normal. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to be loved  and nothing wrong with needing to be with a partner who meets your emotional needs.   It is normal to feel it before you comprehend it.    At the extreme end, suppressed feelings become depression. Sometimes it can take years for the actual cause of the depression to be identified.   This happens to survivors  of childhood sexual assault.  

 So yes, I had the same difficulty with describing my problem. But I want you to know that I care and others care. That's why this website and Melissa's book are such a blessing.

 I fully understand your need to talk and be understood. And you are correct that it's hard to find others who have actually lived with ADHD and who fully understand. I hope this reply helps. 

I'm so glad you're here

Dear Orthogirl,

You have no idea how glad I am you decided to register and share your experience, although I'm sad you need to be here.

I was a "silent member" for some time, and thought reading was enough. But when I registered, I was really surprised to have discovered how much more you can get from being here if you take active participation. For one, I'm painfully aware my posts are hardly positive; mostly, I'm just venting. I have so little to say in a constructive manner. But reading all the thoughtful, honest, deeply personal responses I realized even though I put so many negative emotions on display, and doing it for my own selfish reasons, I might actually be helping someone who has the same experience, and who, like me, need to know others do too. That we're not alone with this burden. So wow, here's the negative actually reforged into positive. My anger can be helpful too. I'm not just bringing more misery to the world by complaining. It really means a lot.

I am happy something in my post must have had resonated with you so strongly, that you decided to share your thoughts. I hope you'll soon discover the blessings of being here, just like me.

Reading your post, I was so grateful for you being here. It was excruciatingly painful for me to know you've suffered the way I do. I literally had tears in my eyes. But it had a cathartic effect. I thank you from my heart for being so honest and for sharing your intimate experience. And mostly, for saying so clearly and so loudly you understood me. Please know I understand you too. And it goes to all those who read this, all of you, both nons and ADHDers, I truly cannot express the magnitude of my relief, and you're all part of it.

Being here, I understood the importance of self-support. It does help a lot to be able to talk to someone who immediately knows what I mean. That's what I had expected from therapy. I had imagined how a trained specialist would immediately know what was going on. ADHD manifests itself in so many ways, but in the end, there's still the same underlying problem, and it all boils down to the same set of everyday issues. It's just that some of them can be more evident than others. I was hoping there's some thing that had been defined, studied and described so many times, we wouldn't have to start from scratch.

Well, not really. It turned out we might be just hitting another wall.

Here, it's different. Sad as this may sound, at this point in my life, I actually think this might be the only place I can visit and feel like I don't have to analyze in detail every weird conversation and every bizarre incident. I can just speak how I feel and I receive support and understanding I crave so much. It's really therapeutic, but there's also the bond that I get with everyone whose life is similar to mine, and that goes beyond therapy, even if we're total strangers. That's how support groups work, and thanks to all of you, it's been the best I've found so far.

So whenever you're sharing your observations, ranting, venting, moaning, sobbing, obsessing, and also sending your positive message, please know my thoughts are with you. I understand you and sympathize with you, and always wish you the very best.

Oh, and also, by "actors" I

Oh, and also, by "actors" I did not mean they do it on purpose. I realize mostly they don't. What I meant was that they've developed some techniques to seem "less". Less distracted, less guilty, less absent minded, less late, less undecided, less responsible for what happened.

I know when my spouse says to me "I was late for X because I had forgotten about X", or "I was late for X because I had forgotten about Y", it seems to her like a perfectly valid explanation. And, interestingly, to the outside world it seems logical. They wouldn't go into analyzing what really happened unless they have reasons to, because it's the way a human brain works. So they won't see the real message, respectively: "I have forgotten about X" or "I had forgotten about Y, and I was also late for X". In my experience, the ADHD mind finds the craziest logical patterns where in fact there aren't any. Often to justify their behaviour. You need to listen closely to get the absurdity, but most people don't really need to.

OMG--this passage is my whole

OMG--this passage is my whole life in a nutshell:

Outsiders looking in don't realize how depressing it is to be with a partner who is unreliable and inconsistent. They don't understand the devastating effects of loss of trust in your partner.   The situation is made worse when one's partner is kind of like a kid himself and the children side with the parent that lets them do what they want to do as opposed to the parent that is trying to instill discipline.  

The inconsistency is hell.  From day to day, one never knows what the person will be like--calm, hyper, focused, out to lunch, happy and jokey, sullen and moody.  It really is impossible to live with.  Right now, as I type this, my relationship with my 18 year old son is in such tatters and while I am FAR from a perfect parent, a great deal of the issues are because DH lets the child get away with EVERYTHING and I do not.  Example: the child blew his curfew, which is 1:30am--plenty late.  Two weeks ago he didn't who up and didn't answer texts until about 2:15am, at which point he texted me telling me to "relax, he is 18 and he'll be home when he gets home".  If it was ONLY me, he would have lost his car keys for a good long time after speaking to me like that, forget the fact that he waltzed in at 2:45am.  DH thought that was too harsh, so I let him handle it.  DH had the child clean his room.  That's all--clean his room.  What the hell is that?!?!  I have no earthly idea why DH won't be a grown up.  When I ask him why he won't discipline the child, he tells me I am too strict/overreact/it's not the big deal I am making it out to be/some version of that.  All of those responses fit perfectly with the ADHD view of whatever is easiest and the most fun in the moment, the impulsiveness--not seeing the longer terms affect of your behavior or decisions.  He wants the conflict to just "be done" and gives no thought to the lesson he is or is not teaching the child.  I have so many examples of this with both children.  When DH travels for work, both boys actually act better.  So interesting to me.  It's like they know what they can get away with when he's home but that I alone won't tolerate it.  Why am I not tougher when he is home, you might ask?  Well, when I tell the 18 year old child to do something and he says "I'm going to ask Dad" and Dad lets him off, despite the fact that Dad and I have had the exact same conversation more times than I can count about NOT giving in to the child, making him take responsibility for his actions and behavior and mouth, yet Dad lets him off the hook-I don't know what to do next.  And every time it happens, DH and I have a gigantic fight about him NOT doing that again, and then a week later...he does it again.  And the cycle repeats.  

I'm sorry if I got off topic.  My frustration level with all of this is at an all time high this summer--lots of stuff has happened that makes me feel particularly depleted.


You summarized my life.  I

You summarized my life.  I did feel it before I could comprehend it.  I also developed situational depression.  I remember the counselor saying "Well, you don't seem fundamentally depressed" or something along those lines.  It was in response to the dissonance of living in such a frustrating and unfulfilling partnership. There isn't much help out there, even if you have excellent friends, because if you don't live it you don't understand it.  As you well described, you end up being perceived as the problem as your ADHD spouse is blissfully unaware.  15 years in.  I've only now come to terms with how lonely this marriage has been and how unloved I've felt. You're right, of course, if you're a person of integrity, you just keep trying harder and harder to make things work.  Ironically, the one person who would understand what it's like one friend whose husband and son have ADHD.  I'm not sure about her!  LOL ... the household is so darn chaotic that I am stressed out being there !!! It is frustrating.  My son is working with my H this summer so they're bonding a bit more.  It's hard.  I have to tone down my "upsetedness" so my son doesn't resent me but I resent it because only ONE of us is taking care of the house, taxes, financial aid and keeping the rest of the wheels on the bus as well as doing the extra work I took on.  sigh.  

Thank you for posting.  When the kids were young and were going through a difficult period, I would find solace when other moms described the same difficulty.  It was reassuring to not be the lone ranger.  Same here. Thanks! 


Welcome.  I too am sorry you

Welcome.  I too am sorry you have to be here.  I have been married for 22 years to my ADHD husband.  If you go back and search my other posts, you can get my whole back story with him.  

To address your specific issues, the things you raised in your post, I wish I had more hopeful things to say.  After 22 years of this, I can honestly say  I just don't think ADHD is conducive to a satisfying relationship.  I know that's not what any of us wants to hear, it's just my experience.  I do not generally talk about my DH with other people.  I have not worn my wedding ring in over a year and often people assume I am not married.  At this point my life and is are so separate that there is almost no way to get it back.  So many things he does or things that go on between us are so bizarre I just don't say anything.  Example: DH travels a lot for work, sometimes driving and sometimes flying.  Often when he drives he will call and say he is an hour away and then not walk in the house for another 4 hours.  If I ask him what took so long, I used to get a few different responses: one-that he didn't say he was an hour away OR he misspoke and didn't mean that, two-that there was an accident/detour/downed tree/typhoon/flood that held him up (I'm being a little sarcastic but not much), or three-no answer--literally a blank look and a "um...I don't know...I stopped to go to the bathroom...".  Just nonsense.  This has happened so often and for so long I know longer even retain what time he says he will be somewhere.  I often observe him during a discussion and it almost seems like he is waiting to see what side I come down on and then he picks the opposite.  I can't think of any other explanation for some of the nonsense he spews.  Another example: DH never went to college--he went in the Air Force right out of high school, but when my son, who graduated from high school in June, was applying for colleges, DH knew everything there was to know about college and the entire application process.  Some of what he told DS was inaccurate, but I kept my mouth shut.  Now, I have a BS, an MA and some post grad AND I work in the education field, but PLEASE, DH--tell us how it is in the college world.  Bizarre.  I have many examples of topics on which DH is an expert and no one can tell him otherwise.  I have stopped arguing.  DS (also ADHD, age 18), racks up parking tickets like you would not believe.  DH told him not to worry about paying them, nothing bad will happen, there's no rush. really...I logged in to the city website and guess what??  Those tickets are logging late fees, but sure DS, ignore the tickets, go with what dad said.  Neither of them believed me when I told them.  I have stopped correcting either of them.  It's not worth it.  Either they will figure it out or they won't.  Add to this that someone has to enforce the not fun parts of life, pay the bills, make plans, etc., so I am often the bad guy in our house because I insist people clean up after themselves, that kind of thing.

I do think my DH is a terrific actor.  Like so many others who post here, he appears charming and funny and personable , not distracted and impulsive and arrogant.  He's super hard to live with on a day to day basis.  The combo of misinformation, half information, wrong information, forgetfulness and arrogance is crazy making.  I often have to go in the bathroom, take a breath and remind myself that IT ISN'T ME.  I am not nuts.  I am not always wrong.  It's hard to live with.


Dvance, I am sadly coming to the similar conclusion about conduciveness of ADD to the healthy relationship.  After I told my husband I am done and was serious this time (we have been there before) he  actually got me a card that said sorry.... And not to be mean but when I talked to him, he couldn't say anything else, like what he was sorry for, but almost went on a defensive anger again..... And still did not asknowledge the ADHD part (I dare not even bring it up it makes him so mad). So here we go again... It took me so long to muster up the strength to be able to say I had enough and mean it and I really don't want to go back to the rollercoaster ride... I am pretty sure he still loves me but not enough to actually do something about the ADD?

Your son's situation reminded me of my husband's two kids, both with ADD. It was a really rough time then when I really wouldn't have minded jumping off a cliff or something like that.  Having the 3 of them was complete insanity, where I looked like an insane person trying desperately to establish some order in our house. It was like spooning the water out of the sinking boat and I can't even describe what they thought of me trying to get some stability and structure in the house.  But thinking back on it, I realized that of the two kids, one of them really hated me for trying to help and especially after the diagnosis.  But the other, even though frustrated with structure, actually started doing quite well with it (not that they admitted it, but you could tell). But then things fell apart more, so that was halted as well. Which makes me think, are there types of ADD/ADHD where one type actually takes the help/resources and actually attempts to improve their life and that of others and the other just rebels at everything? At work I am starting to see some highly educated people that do an incredible job but I can now tell have ADHD/ADD.  They have gone though doctorate programs, successfully and are doing well at work, but of course I wonder how that translates to their families....

Is there hope?

I wonder if anyone has had a positive outcome with this type of relationship or even if its possible?  I realize that most, if not all of us here are because its not working.  But I wonder sometimes. Also, I bumped on some research recently on the prevalence of MTHFR mutation in ADD/ADHD population and some hopeful improvement after taking MTHFR supplement.  Has anyone tried that?



Hi Bigsurprise:

first thank you for your recent response to my post in the other thread. Your kindness and compassion was desperately needed. And your are so right about those so called professionals!!!! I read this thread and cannot believe how spot in you are!!!! Omg the uncanny ability to justify, excuse and "normalize" everything really does make us feel as if we are crazy or too needy. I'm saving this post so that when I'm questioned I'll have this answer! This is so true and it sucks big time. The people in my H life have known him forever and all they see is this kind compassionate really nice guy!!!! By the way the ex is an ex because she left him! 

Anyway thank you again for the kindness. 

As of right now I'm just trying to get space from him and figure things out. I am exhausted as is he. My health is being compromised as is his. I haven't even mentioned the step daughter who's hi functioning autistic, recently diagnosed, who is 18 can't graduate can't hardly leave her room does absolutely nothing and gets extremely defiant when confronted. He enables her and allows her to do or not do anything. No contribution whatsoever. The mom wanted her out and is now not wanting me back in the house because our fighting is harmful to her. Well guess what she can go home then but no mom don't want her either because in her words she made everyone's life a living hell! Oh so tell us what to do to make her life better? Is burns me up beyond belief. Talk about wanting to go into a rage!!!! Anyway I can't do anything about anything other than what's best for me at this point. Funny I'm a Christian and have always said I won't choose divorce but I also don't have to live with him!

thanks again. I am sorry we have to "meet" under the circumstances we are all in. I had NO idea what I was getting into. My son has ADHD but nothing like this! I thought based on him I could handle it! WRONG! I think for the adders out there that are managed and it's hardly noticeable they are somehow much more emotionally mature. 


Hi Bigsurprise

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Thank you for checking in on me. Its very kind of you.  I moved back home a week ago.  We are both just taking it one day at a time. We both know we have to make concious efforts to be understanding and patient with each other.  One good thing that occurred while we were separated was his daughter decided to move back with her mom. She was diagnosed on the asd spectrum about a year and half ago. She came to live with us  last year and it was not a good situation. Fortunately I had told my H that I was thinking of moving back beginning of september and at that time we did not know she was thinking of moving. As it turns out she left four days before I was set to come back. Im so glad I told him before knowing so it doesn't seem like thats the only reason!  Anyway somedays I feel hopeful others the past starts getting to me and I feel scared to death! He has been seeing an ADHD coach and it seems to be helping him to understand why his responses get the responses from me. We are working on schedules together and planning out attend time and when to work on things that have been let go. There are things that I told him he needed to take care of around here as it got pretty messy while I was away and he is following through. He's also making an effort to stay connected so thats good.  It has only been a week so we will see.  

When I read the things on these blogs some of them hit so close to home but others are so much worse than what I deal with. I am grateful that my H does, to the best of his ability, understand how he has effected us. I also, to the best of ability, understand how my critiscm and anger contribute to making things much harder for him. So at this point we are taking things slow and focusing on being kind and having some fun together. Im trying to find ways to thank him for the things he does do. He does always thank me for the things I do and I realized I should do the same. 

Anyway, how are things with you? I hope you are finding some peace in your situation.


Hi anteight,

Hi anteight,

I'm glad to hear you are sorting things out! Thank you for letting me know. It seems like there's been plenty of positive developments in your life, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for each and every small (or big) achievement. From what you've written, your H sounds like a very open-minded person, and it seems like a great spurt of positivity from both sides. That's A LOT!

Thanks for asking about my situation, that's very kind. My partner does not seem as open minded as yours, so I've been dealing with a very strange mixture of denial, misunderstanding, blame-shifting, treating ADHD as excuse and trying to prove me wrong each step of the way. I don't think she's malicious, though. If anything, as with most things in her life, she seems lost. Misinterpreting spoken (and un-spoken) language as she often does, it does not help the therapy either. For me, it's still a rollercoaster, but I've been trying to distance myself emotionally to catch a breath now. Not to let the "fixing" turn into an obsession, apart from the fact I've been feeling quite depressed lately, so I'm just focusing on doing things that I know are good for me.

Please stay in touch, regardless of the outcome. You're a ray of hope; I really hope this rubs off on me. :) I wish you all the best!