I came to this site months ago and introduced myself and my relationship with ADD.  My husband and both my children have been diagnosed with ADD.  I've had some health issues and other family members with severe health issues that have kept me away from the board for some time.  As I struggle again and felt the need to come back to get some words of support, encouragement, advice, etc... I just sat here reading (and maybe I just haven't read the right topics yet) and thought WTF!  

I have read nothing but how do I deal with this, any suggestion on dealing with that, is this a symptom of ADD.  I realize ADD is real, but where are the people with the diagnosis?  Why is it the ones who don't have ADD are here looking for answers, help, solutions, etc...  What I've read (if you take out the diagnoses from the my "husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner") it would just read as pure abuse.  I personally don't think even my family means to be abusive, but as I have lived with someone who has had ADD my whole life (I believe my father and brother are both undiagnosed, my first husband went undiagnosed, and now my husband and both my children have been diagnosed) I'm starting to wonder how much of this is legitimate and how much is a convenient excuse to just be selfish.

I am normally a positive person.  I try to look at someone's strengths more than their weaknesses.  I try to look at the positives, always hope for the best, and look to the good points.  However, as I once again fell into a ridiculous argument with my husband this morning, look around the house and see no improvement with any of them, I have to stop and wonder, are these just selfish people?  Is being ADD an excuse to just have the rest of us cater to their needs?  

I have lost myself.  I have spent countless hours doing research, reading, even buying books and reading them ahead of them so they wouldn't waste time reading something that wasn't helpful to them, doctor appointment after appointment, and therapy sessions.  Why?  I don't have ADD, but I love them and want them to have a better life.  It appears that I'm the only one who is concerned with this.  Why is my free time being eat up by trying to figure them out and bettering them when they don't seem to care?  My husband is over 40, my son is turn 18 in a few months, and my daughter turns 14 next month, it's not like these are little children that need constant supervision but I have felt that I have been a babysitter for three individuals who are no older than a toddler.  At what point do you just call it quits and let them fend for themselves?

I have been in therapy, have suffered a mental breakdown, have lectured til I'm blue in the face, bought computers, pda's, smart phones to help them remember and organize their lives for it all to turn into are devices they can play games on, have spent countless hours trying to come up with solutions for each one to be more independent and successful, but for what purpose nothing gets better, no routines, nothing.  It's like two steps forward, three steps back.  When is enough enough?  When is it their responsibility to do something?  They aren't on any websites to get help, if it isn't a game they won't be there.  I read the books and tell them what I found to be some good information they should check it out and there are stacks of books with dust on them.  

My husband doesn't even get that he is the one the children mimic and that he should set the example.  He looks at me with a truly puzzled look as to why the kids do what they do and it takes everything I have to go "REALLY?".  I explain that I'm the odd man out, they don't relate to me, they can't comprehend me, be like me, but if they actually saw him doing more, etc... that they may get the idea they can do better.  That just won't work, because he may actually have to do more, imagine that.  

I love them dearly and they aren't bad people.  ADD, selfish, both, who knows?  But here I sit at the computer trying to put my world back together as they "play".  So, yes, I ask the question, WTF?  Where are the ones with this diagnoses to help answer our questions?  Where is their responsibility in all of this?  We (as in those posts I've read asking for advice and help) sit here wondering is this ADD, how can we help with this, how can we help with that, etc... and all we have are each other saying hang in there, you wrote my life, it's the same thing with my husband/girlfriend.  

I do realize there are individuals on this board with ADD and do respond.  I am in no way expecting someone else to fix my problems or my family.  This is more about venting how alone I feel in this battle.  Venting about the fact that I am here again seeking support, answers, and hope that I may can help someone else with something more than "I sympathize".  Frustrated at reading others who are suffering like me and all we have is each other looking for help not the "offending" party seeking help.

I don't expect a medal for doing my job as a parent or being a good wife.  I just don't understand why those with the ADD (and maybe it's just my family) aren't out there trying to do more instead of just saying well I have ADD and this is how I am.

Wow. I know it offers you


I know it offers you precious little help in changing your situation, but I want to say that I hear you, I agree with so much of what you said, and if you were beside me I'd give you a giant hug... and a stiff drink. I wish I had some answers, I could use them for myself.

I do believe people get used to being selfish. It's not PC to say it, but I feel it's true. There is no other explanation for actions that a human being can plainly see causes hurt to another. You can have any disease in the world- it does not excuse selfishness.

Hugs to you.

Hath not an ADDer eyes?

You said: "actions that a human being can plainly see causes hurt to another."

We can't.  Oftentimes we honestly, simply, completely, truthfully don't see/predict/reason through the results of our actions.  Two nights ago a box of tea fell on my head while I was dragging something off of a high shelf.  But that doesn't mean I'll look out before I grab something from that same shelf the next time.  I think about the end result, and I just kinda plunge right in and trust I'll get there somehow with minimal collateral damage, after all it went decently last time OH BOY OK LET'S GO.  90-something percent of details get lost.  And I do not learn from mistakes.  We ADDers show up at the starting line of a marathon and, well, kinda always assumed we'd get our hands on some seven-league boots before this thing started, but hey, we didn't get the boots and we never did get around to training but let's just take a shot anyway because the rest of the marathon runners are all gonna do it, so surely WE can too, I mean, we want so hard to get through it, that's gotta count for something right?!  There was never a single thought towards cause and effect.  Just end-result and 4,000 gallons of hope.

These are generalizations.  They are the mildest of cases.  I can bet you have been very hurt by your partner's behavior, countless times.  And it must have been exponentially worse than a box of tea on the head.  I know it seems like your partner couldn't possibly NOT realize how much hurt their actions are causing you!  It is that way with my partner too.  Every time I manage to REALLY put myself in his shoes, my heart falls down a mineshaft for the feelings I caused.  But that doesn't get taken into consideration the next time.  I lack the mechanisms to connect past experiences with similar situations in the present.  I don't have the brain chemistry that would allow me to step back & say to myself, "I am really motivated to do XYZ2, but last time I did XYZ1, my honey was really upset about it, better not do it."  ADDers can leave a trail of emotional wreckage a mile wide and 50 miles long without once glancing back and yes, it totally sucks.  

I think it's not fair to assume that ADD logic takes the same path as non-ADD.  Things that are obvious to you, we are often oblivious to.  If we don't learn through success, we won't learn.  We don't learn from our failures, our letdowns, our disappointments or our guilt.  And we hurt a lot of people along the way with our unique mix of misplaced focus and scattershot enthusiasm.  All we can do is apologize and hope that next time, we can try differently.  We are still human beings, just a slightly different breed.

Having ADHD, I identify with

Having ADHD, I identify with this post to an enormous extent. Thank you so much for posting this. I feel that this is something I could have written myself if I had only been able to articulate it.

You're very welcome,

You're very welcome, Bullvine.  It hurts to be talked about like we're not human.  It hurts when we let ourselves and our loved ones down, it smarts when we know we'll do it again, and most of all it stings that some people believe we willfully choose to stay on the same painful path.  

I also wanted to preempt a very probable, very logical response from the disillusioned spouses.  If we know it is hurtful, why don't we just change our behavior?  Right?!

There is nothing we ADDers want more than to change the hated hurtful behaviors.  As I mentioned, it DOES kill me to feel what my partner feels.  But our wishes can't stand up against our brain chemistry.  It's like trying to change gravity by wishing something to float: This is science we're trying to argue with.  

To add to my metaphor of learning through success: It's like 97% of the world is professional weightlifters (or telekinetic), and the person with ADD is trying to dead-lift 300 pounds the first time they set foot in a gym.  I mean, everyone else does it all the time, you just want to do it like them.  Normally.  But to be that ADDer: it won't help if you try, fail, and tell yourself to just lift it next time.  You won't get there by coming in every day, straining to lift it, thinking really hard about lifting it, pulling your back out, and going home disheartened.  The surest way you'll get there is by successfully lifting smaller weights and working your way up to it.  Even better if someone can spot you and, if your muscles waver, catch that weight, then HELP YOU bring it safely down.  That, too, is science.  That's what we're up against.  We're not wired to operate in the same way as most of the world, but we can start getting closer with a lot of work, and someone spotting us while we "lift."  

(But we're very stubborn and oftentimes DO want to prove ourselves by doing it by ourselves, without a spotter.  And when we can't do that, we may just totally lose hope & let the spotter take all the weight.  And I don't have a glib quip for that one, that situation truly sucks for everyone every time and it happens a lot of the time.)

Again, MsMisses, I am so sorry for the pain that ADD symptoms have caused you.  Right now you sound so at the end of your rope, it will be hard for you to see anything but gloom.  I hope that talking to people here will eventually help you to see things through a different lens.  

I respect and understand your

I respect and understand your point of view.  But the thing is, some people with ADHD don't take any steps to change their brains.  Or they do one thing and when that doesn't work, they give up.  Or they make one change and that works, but instead of building on that, every morning they get up and say, "Look, I took the dog out, I've done my share, now stop bothering me."  

That is my husband.  That is who he is.  I accept that is who he is.  I've also accepted I don't want to be married to a person like that.

Sigh.  I know what you mean,

Sigh.  I know what you mean, as you can imagine, from my own experience.  As mentioned above, that really sucks for everyone every time.  And I respect and understand your choice.

As for me, I'm starting to realize that my defensiveness usually masks me knowing deep down that my man is in the right, once he's made the issue clear to me.  I feel sub-par & very guilty for not copping on the way he does to the normalest of things.  Look at me, I've messed up again.  I've failed to learn, again.  Don't I feel wonderful about my shortcomings.  And defensiveness could be protection from falling even deeper into feelings of hopelessness & inadequacy.  Can't say it helps anyone feel better.  Also, change is neither easy nor comfortable, and I think less so for those with AD(H)D.  Vicious, horrible, painful cycle.  

Thanks for your words.

I have had to accept that my

I have had to accept that my adhd dh does what he does, with no rhyme or reason to me, and there is probably no rhyme or reason with him, either.

The tea box falling on the head reminds me of how my dh piles things away in high places. it is his version of "vertical storage" :) I went into the basement looking for the holiday ornaments... I look up from what i'm doing and discovered he's perched a MICROWAVE OVEN right on a queen mattress that's propped on its side, several feet from the floor. So basically, the footprint of the microwave is ~2' x 3' and the edge of the mattress is no more than 7 or 8"..... I had to swallow hard on that one. The microwave really could have fallen on anyone's head or foot, I removed the microwave and put it on lower, stable ground. At least for you, it is a tea box and not a microwave oven ;)

I think it's these instances where i wonder how the house hasn't been burnt to the ground yet. He leaves damp clothes over the vents of space heaters. I have to be vigilant and remove these, he does this repeatedly after many warnings over the years. Damp fabric over electrical unit = electrical fire. To the adhd mind, damp fabric over space heater = makeshift dryer.

i appreciate you describing what the brain of adhd is like, so i can better understand the neurology and my dh. i am learning not to chastise or go after him anymore.  But one can still imagine the thoughts going through the fiber of my being: "how is that even possible for a human who's been part of this world for half a century to be doing what he does...? If it were anyone from the outside looking in, they might have thought it dimwitted, and not a part of adhd.

Breath. :)

I have ADHD, am female, and am getting a divorce. In a lot of the posts I read, I see the non ADHD partner frustrated, angry, bitter, etc. yes, I have ADHD, am on meds, and still struggle every day to feel NORMAL. My husband of 15 years recently told me I was a ROOMATE, and that we needed to see someone who deals with ADHD. We are not bad people, but the way non ADHD-ers talk, it's like we do this to piss you off. We DON'T.ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain, neurotransmitters don't function properly. It's our brain chemistry!! Yes, we are who we are. Am I making excuses, no!! But isn't that part of a relationship:acceptance? I could sit here and give you tons of "imperfecIons" about him, but I choose not too. I accepted him the way he is, but it was his choice to go outside the marriage when I decided I am done. Physical cheating, I don't know, but emotional yes. We don't listen like you want us too, we don't do this, we don't do that. I am 38 years old and still cry when I am told "TRY HARDER". It's like telling someone with glasses to squint to see can't. We do the best we can with what genetics has given us, and I truly am sorry you are struggling. I am taking things day by day, I have two kids who need me, ADHD and all. Funny how the kids don't judge, but adults do.  :( I hope you find the help you are looking for.  :)


I have ADHD and professionally coach individuals and couples with ADHD. What I have noticed with some couples is what I call the "switcheroo." When people with ADHD are instrinsically interested in something they are more likely to do it. People with ADHD also get excited about what is "new" and "shiney," something that provides a thrill. We get a chemical rush. So do others but for us it is a rarer experience, harder to come by. In new relationships - the honeymoon phase - is a bright and shiney time. So as a result we are more on the ball. We get a thrill helping our new sweetheart. We get a rush anticipating our new partner's needs. Then the relationship settles in, the honeymoon phase is over, for some couples it is literally when the honeymoon is over. We are more secure in the relationship and are no longer getting that chemical rush that helps us continue to be the person we were at the beginning of the relationship. This switcheroo whether it comes on slowly or quickly is shocking to our partners. Where is that person who anticipated my needs and gave me all that attention? Where is the exciting person I fell in love with? Who is this lazy, non-listening, somewhat resistant person I am now living with? Meanwhile the person with ADHD is wondering why their partner seems dissatisfied with them, always telling them what they are not doing, what they should be doing. Both parties get angry and disappointed.

(Again it is important to remember that I am not describing all couples affected by ADHD but a subgroup that I have encountered.)

This is when there has to be a readjustment of expectations on both sides. This is also a time when each partner has to work very hard to catch each other "doing good" and point it out rather then trying to catch each other either not doing or doing wrong. It is a starting place. Obviously there is a lot more that needs to be done with this subgroup but I wanted to point out this kind of trap or expectation that I often see happen with couples where one or both have ADHD. It is surmountable and the process can be revealing both personally and couple-wise.

No one is to blame here. The person with ADHD is usually unaware of this shift that is chemically driven. The person without ADHD has developed expectations based on past performance which is completely reasonable. The real problem comes when expectations by both parties stay in the past and are not willing to find a new reality.

Well first thing...

I don't think this site is designed to help people with ADHD. I think it was started as a companion to Melissa's book which of course, deals with ADHD's effect on marriage. Thus you find many of us on here talking about marriage and our ADHD spouses. I have seen a recent uptick in ADHD individuals coming on here for advice, but I am truthful with them in that this isn't the place for true ADHD support. Rest assured there are forums out there that cater to people with ADHD and there seems to be a lot of participation.

You should also remember that the most desperate of people are going to flock to sites like this, thus their stories are going to be pretty bad. There are people who come here that are in abusive relationships. ADHD shouldn't be used as a crutch in those cases. I came here when my marriage was at its worst and was actually put off by the lack of hope I was given. I took some time out and then returned last year with the express goal of giving hope to those who come here looking for it. There is hope a lot of the time.

My marriage has done a 180 in the last year. My husband is generally not medicated, but he tries really hard to mitigate the effects of the ADHD. In fact I just admitted at our last counseling session that I understand his concerns with taking the meds--he doesn't "feel" like himself. Who am I to nag him about taking a drug that so alters him? So I don't anymore. And in response, he continues to make positive changes. Is every day cloud nine? Nope. But what marriage is? The important thing is, we love each other and he endeavors to respect me. Does he help clean up the house? Nope. But it doesn't really bother me. I'm not a clean freak and he doesn't require it of me. So I make time when I make the time and if I really get into the weeds, I ask for his help and he usually follows through. Yes, I still go too far sometimes trying to "help" him and it upsets him. "I'm not a four year old," he claims. OK, some days I could debate him on that statement, but if he so desperately wants to prove himself, then I shouldn't get in his way. I'm working on that. It's hard because I'm a helper. I want things done on my time line and that's where we start having problems because he's obviously not time line driven given the ADHD issues. So I will get frustrated with him, but we have to keep moving and not get bogged down in the moment.

selfishness etc....

Hi All -

first, to reiterate: ADDers are not being selfish on purpose, or  deliberately  dumping responsibility on the non-ADD spouse thinking, "HAHAHA!! I don't have to do anything! I can kick back and everything will be done for me!!!"

I am the ADD wife, and I had NO IDEA what was wrong with me all my life.  In my situation it is more the 'inattention' and inability to manage time/demolished self-esteem/underachievement/anxiety that is the problem(s)

I, too, get very discouraged coming to this site, so I haven't for a while.  I have to remind myself that I am nothing like the men described by the non-add women who post here.  I believe also, that in a lot of the most severe cases that ADD is not the only factor.

There are many factors that can't really be controlled for in any study, like the Mars/Venus factor and upbringing and environment....  So many complaints are about the ADDer not doing any housework, but in my situation, I do everything and my nonADD husband will not do anything unless I ask. And even then, it won't happen until he decides to do it which usually isn't soon enough so I do the chore anyway.

I take meds and I work my ass off to make as much money as I can.  This is difficult because I also have a 3 year old who is at home with me (we can't afford preschool, but that's another post). I have 5-6 part time jobs and every week the schedule is different and I am always scrambling for childcare or having to take my daughter with me to my job which is very stressful.

I can't speak for the ADDer who does nothing to change.  I know that I will 'relapse' and there's nothing I can do to prevent it, but my husband knows that I'm doing everything in my power to be 'normal.'

If I'd known that I had this disorder and how it negatively impacts EVERY aspect of my life (and always will) before I got married, I probably would have avoided relationships altogether. However, there's no going back, so we're doing what we can.  we are also in the 'roommates' phase, but fortunately neither of us has another relationship in the picture, so we are both ok riding it out for now.  Will it get better??  who knows.... I hope so... I'm just trying to survive with minimal damage.

I'm filled with respect for

I'm filled with respect for you, Ellamenno!  I do not have ADHD; my husband does, along with other emotional disorders.  It might interest you to know that my own therapist told me that she thought that in my husband's case, depression and anxiety probably caused the ADHD-type behavior, not the reverse.  So for him, yeah, it's definitely not just ADHD.  He doesn't do nearly as much on a day-to-day basis as you do, nor do I!  Keep on keeping on.

To Awurf

OMG, that makes total sense to me. It was when my soon to be ex told me we were "roommates" that I came to this site for help. I was lost, always wondering what I did wrong, etc. Its too late for us, because he choose to bring someone else into this (a single female that he says "listens" to him), and I can forgive, but won't forget. That is just who I am, and I know it. I look forward to my future, to find someone who accepts me, even after the honeymoon phase. I now am (I think) aware of my behaviors (negative) that I want to change for me to become a better person. I, at the age of 38, decided to go to college, and I LOVE IT. I am on meds, and that helps tremendously. I think this forum is for BOTH ADHD AND NON-ADHD persons, but I see mostly Non-ADHD-ers on here. As I explained earlier, it's not that we intentionally do things to piss our partners off, we just have a different version of reality. Hope that makes sense. Thank you again for your post, as my psychologist explains: ADHD is not an excuse, but an explinaIon of behaviors. Made perfect sense to me.  :). Have a wonderful weekend.