You Can't Change Your Relationship On Your Own

I hear from too many non-ADHD partners who say they have been working really, really hard to ‘compensate’ for ADHD in their relationship, only to end up frustrated and resentful.  This outcome makes total sense – you can make changes in yourself and improve things somewhat, but you cannot address the issues that your partner contributes.

I like to visualize it like two people whose feet are stuck in gooey mud.  They are holding hands.  One partner, who starts working on his or her issues, is able to start to float up out of the muck by improving what he or she contributes to the partnership.  Perhaps that includes a gentler approach, or improved ADHD treatment and behavioral control.

But they are still holding hands.  So if one partner doesn’t do any work to change the fact that s/he is standing in the muck, the floating partner can only rise up so far.  After that, that second partner’s continued progress is held back by the lack of progress of the still stuck partner.

The floating partner will either remain ‘stuck’ or will have to choose to let go or disengage.  But, of course, a disengaged relationship is no longer a partnership.  So that’s not a great option, either.

There is some good news in all of this.  it’s always a good idea to contribute your best self to your relationship.  Taking that first step to start ‘floating up’ often has a positive, encouraging effect on the partner who is moving more slowly out of the muck.  Furthermore, you can be proud of your ability to change your input into the relationship for the better, which is a lot more desirable than looking back from some future day and seeing yourself as an angry partner or someone who had a chance to manage ADHD symptoms and chose to deny the need to do so, instead.  (Eventually, once you know about ADHD, you are likely at some point to want to manage the symptoms better…why not make that NOW, before your partnership becomes a casualty of the delay?)

So, if you are a non-ADHD partner who has unsuccessfully labored under the idea that if you just work hard enough, you can ‘make’ the relationship change, take a breather for a moment.  Rather than work alone, make a plan for how to gently and non-aggressively approach your partner to request assistance.  This can take some lengthy lobbying, but your best bet for progress is when both of you are involved.

Need help convincing your partner managing ADHD symptomatic behaviors is important?  Consider my live couples seminar, given by conference call.  Let me do the heavy lifting for you.


How do you deal with an ADHD partner

who believes he is incapable of change? We have done you seminar a few years ago. He said all of it made sense at the time. Still says it makes sense. But he is just incapable and useless.


Has your husband worked on Leg 2 treatment strategies, for example, hiring a coach to help him change habits that are getting in the way?  Intention and action are not at all the same.  Same with Leg 1 treatments such as medication, exercise, etc.  

I suggest a coach so that someone else is responsible for keeping him on track towards new behaviors.  The coach can initiate, organize and follow up with your husband until such time as he can do those things himself.  Those are the ADHD symptoms that most often get in the way of 'starting' on a new path.  There are very few people who cannot change at all...

If he's unwilling to take on the work, and won't delegate out to someone else (i.e. a coach or perhaps a therapist who also coaches) the things that are getting in his way, then it's likely that he will continue to not make progress.

Your own comments about him (incapable and useless) suggest you are fairly far along in being fed up with him, perhaps even feeling contempt...which is a strong predictor of divorce.

This came out wrong

HE says he It makes sense and HE says he is incapable and useless. I don't. I believe he can deal with this, although admittedly I am getting quite discouraged,  but I will always support him. I realize now that my post sounded really wrong. 

He does have a coach but he doesn't go very much. He will start on basic, lik sleep because that is a very big issue with him. But he doesn't follow through. I want couples therapy, he doesn't. I have suggested that we both go see his therapist so that can voice my concerns and he  refuses.

His sleep habits are now worse than before, he doesn't go to bed more than 3-4 times a month before 5 am. I truly believe that this causes all other symptoms to be amplified. He says it's not the issue. I'm the issue and he's had enough. Then I cry - like most days - then he denies saying I'm the issue that he is the one who is useless and we'd be better off without him. Then he wants me to ignore all of that, why don't we just live in the moment - and then the cycle start all over again. 

Thanks for clarifying!

Thanks for writing back to clarify.  Here are some thoughts.  It is CERTAIN that your husband's sleep habits are impacting the severity of his ADHD symptoms.  Sleep deprivation, in fact, can mimic ADHD...but in all cases, less than 7.5 hours of sleep a night, in a regular pattern will make ADHD symptoms worse.  For that matter, make those without ADHD foggy, distractible etc. too.

You can't lead a horse to water, as they say, so I can see why you would be so discouraged.  It is NOT your fault that he isn't getting sleep and isn't willing to go to therapy to work with you.  Though I'm pretty sure you know this, let me say it again because it's really, really important for you to hear it.  It is NOT your fault if oyur husband isn't willing to work on managing his ADHD.  It's HIS ADHD and he is the ONLY one who can do this.  You may be angry or frustrated (as many non-ADHD partners rae) but that STILL is not an excuse for him to not do his best to manage his ADHD.  That means working diligently with his coach, not haphazardly.  Getting his sleep regimen better.  Doing therapy if needed, etc.

Your husband is in denial - denying that his ADHD makes a difference.  Sadly, if he remains in denial then you will have three very bad choices - to stay and be angry (for anger is inevitable if you are required to 'give in and go along'); fight back (not sustainable in a healthy relationship) or leave.  Not a good set of options.

Have you tried sharing with him my blog post "For Men with ADHD Who Aren't Convinced It Matters"?  If not, you might try that.

I'm sending you a virtual hug.

I second that emotion

Julia, I hear you. I'm just discovering this website and I feel like I'm reading my own diary. My husband also feels that he is incapable of change. He pulls all-nighters like a college student studying for finals and I never know when or if he'll come to bed. It's unsettling. He often goes into depression and self loathing when he feels like he's letting everyone around him down. I feel bad letting him know that he's letting me down, but he is. He has what I believe is "learned helplessness" after years of untreated/undertreated ADD.

He is finally seeing a psychiatrist this month. I am hopeful, but cautiously so. I don't trust that he will take the initiative to help himself. A coach could be just what he needs... but after years of me trying to help him, he's become defensive and resistant to any change suggested by me. Sometimes it feels like I'm living with an emotional, defiant, stonewalling teenager. I am often angry, tired, lonely and losing patience. Ugh. I still love him, but I'm not sure what else I can do other than take care of myself. I'm also just barely hanging on to my attraction for him as he no longer takes care of himself physically. I'm sure that our current relationship is not sustainable.

I'll say, it feels good to know that I'm not alone in this struggle! 

Exactly the same!

After years of this I feel totally empty. Years of doing everything possible to help and support him. Whatever he said he needed from me to support him in moving forward, I did. For example, taking on half of household chores at once was not realistic, so lets start small. No problem, I will take on more. Then small is not small enough, he needs to start with only 1 chore (!) and do it consistently and move forward from there. Ok. That failed. If only I praised him more when he actually did the chore, he would feel better and want to continue. Then if only I was more loving to him, physically, he would feel wanted and would feel better about himself etc...All one sided. I ended up exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.I have nothing left now.

You are right, this website is helpful for finding strategies and support and knowing that we are not alone helps (sometimes). 

Phylis....your's is a typical case....

Some times in reading posts and comparing them to my relationship and years of others post about their own, a person will post about themselves and their marriage what seems to fit the exact mold of most....And your's is one:)

The only advice I can give is to never make it worse...Things that make it worse is:

1) Living with expectations for them to be different. You must accept what is front of you for your own peace....(You don't have to like it or agree)

2) Becoming Co-dependent yourself (a guaranteed way to become angry and bitter), and not forcing them to be responsible to the life and responsibilities that are theirs

3) Not setting boundaries where needed, due to selfishness and irresponsibility (Anytime a person lives with the mindset that everyone else will have to adapt to me, and show they will never work for positive change you must set boundaries and walk away from engaging it)

4) Never point out their dysfunction, all that means is you have lost your life and are being consumed by thoughts of theirs....

Hopefully he start working on him...


Help. Or should I just give up?

I am the non-ADHD partner who has done everything I can to make things better. He does acknowledge that he has ADHD but, beyond starting medication 3.5 weeks ago, will not do anything about managing any of his symptoms or behaviours. I think he has other issues besides ADHD relating to denial/avoidance/lack of empathy, as well as communication issues along the lines of Aspergers or non-verbal learning disability (and he DOES agree with that), which add a LOT of complications. His main way of dealing with anything is NOT to - just to avoid (and he admits that too).

I don't feel love for him any more - haven't for several years - but I was hoping that maybe if we start figuring out these things I could fall back in love with the guy I first met (yup, back in the hyperfocus period). But I am so angry and hurt and resentful that I don't even think that is possible any more. He is now taking meds, albeit a bit inconsistently. But I think he is waiting for the pill to fix things - is still doing everything possible to avoid actually dealing with any of this, or taking any responsibility for making changes himself. (To him, the fact he is taking the pill or purchasing your books means he tried... but he's barely read the books, and he completely refuses to put anything in them into practice - to ever TRY at anything).

I think I am at the end... after everything we have been through, I can't imagine what would make anything change now. Our relationship is already pretty much over, even though we still live under the same roof. (We haven't even talked for over a week - which is heaven to him because now I am avoiding too). It is hard to imagine that I would get my feelings back even if he did somehow decide to work at this. It's very hard to fathom - he came straight from another marriage to be with me, and I know he will be terribly unhappy living alone. But he would rather continue to avoid dealing with any of this (and accuse me of complaining if I dare try to raise anything) and just let our separation be the outcome. Even though we will both be so unhappy. (As we are now. My lose-lose proposition).

I feel pretty hopeless reading your books too, because all of the advice seems to be given with the assumption that the ADHD-partner ALSO is working on things. But if he isn't... then I cannot be my best self with him in this house.

If you have any suggestions, I welcome them. Because I think we are at the end, and I am probably only clutching at imaginary straws. Thank you.

A Thought?

Reading through what Melissa was pretty easy for me to identify myself in this mix of issues..and even though I am the ADHD partner in one aspect....I am, for all intensive purposes, the Non-ADHD partner in the relationship with my wife and without a proper professional diagnosis....I am working off the assumption ( based on all things I know and have to work with )...that my wife falls into the category of the symptoms at least...which really are similar or the same in many (most ways )....despite which category of a true diagnosis in a definitive way? 

There are so many different combinations of co-morbid features like OCD and anxiety, anger and impulsiveness, oppositional and defiant resistance, mood swings ( which may look like Bi-polar but????? )and then any other kinds of behavioral issues attached to those things that keep being brought up here like Narcissism or Depression ( and the like ) that I have really started looking past those things in my wife ( since there is nothing I can do about that personally?  Plus... I have really found that much of that is only due to circumstances and when the circumstances do those conditions so I am pretty quickly seeing how those extra bonus add on's (unless truly diagnosed by a trained professional ) are just more symptoms themselves and are less of the cause?

But the biggest problem of all as I personally have experienced in myself..;;and am now experiencing this in relationship to another person is denial.  First and foremost....and  that does simplify this down to the steps in the order of importance?  In that case...what Melissa said about the logic first step to take?  First an only step that will actually work just my confirmation in trying other things myself out of desperation and without anything left to try?  Once you try everything first ( not because you don't believe it yourself ) but because you are desperate to find something?  Anything at all and when push comes to shove.....what ever works right?  And what lobbying but that has one particular road block standing in the way of denial and that is in communication?

Rather than work alone, make a plan for how to gently and non-aggressively approach your partner to request assistance.

This is a reasonable thing to ask for and it makes sense to do?  My wife and I did the couples course together ( and not assuming here ).....I think there is another element in the ( might be or maybe department ) for some couples and not others and this is where I can offer my own positive results into.....when dealing with the problem of simply being understood ( not emotionally but actually the "language" and "approach being used" you are actually being understood as you speak...and as the other person hears you?  I haven't really ever had a lot of trouble being understood when I speak...until I am confronted with something ( with some people but not others ) that has absolutely mystified me and I have always wanted an answer for this which I have now started to discover why with some "real" quantifiable answers I can order to lobby effectively in the first place?  That is my focus as least with my wife right now can't use the tools or outlines in the seminar class....if you can't even get past the instructions in order to do the exercises without some kind of conflict or disagreement....with that just to start?

And there in lies 90% of the problems my wife and I get into?  Not so much not agreeing about what we want or anything one "thing" or problem we can't agree on.....we can't even discuss or converse about anything....without misinterpretation and defensiveness coming into play?  That is the problem and that is A problem...when it comes to Lobbying?  As I have found out the hard way myself?

Using myself as 1/2 the source of our conflicts when it comes to communication and the ability to understand things.....I found a perfect explanation to something that I experienced in school growing up that highlights this problem perfectly as a means to start on the right foot?  Step I'm seeing it...before you go to step B?

The Problem:  New Math    If I had to point to the worst thing that ever happened to me in my experience in school in the 60's ( in my personal opinion ) New Math was an absolute disaster and the brain fart ( not brain child ) of the people who came up with this travesty in our education system thinking that this would work or even thinking this was a good idea in the first place?

Taking the "classical education" of a 1000's of years and suddenly throwing it the toilet for a "NEW IDEA"   without thinking this through....was like walking in front a moving semi truck and getting smashed to pieces...because you didn't look both ways before stepping off the side walk...and wondering what just happened?  That was and is...about the dumbest completely illogical thing to have to try and figure out ahead of time....that this was a BAD IDEA...and wondering why?

And the reason why is simple.  Trying to fit the idea to the concept...instead of fitting the concept to the idea?  When ever you do are taking any logical progression and context...and throwing it out the window in service of something else which is not being "disclosed" or told to you in order for you to simply understand...."why am I doing this?"  And "what is the goal" or "purpose" and "how can it be used?" you need to learn this? the purpose or goal? And.....What is the linear progression or steps you must take to reach that goal?

How.......can it be applied?  How will it be integrated into another discipline and how do they work together in unison either alone or separately?

When........ do you use it?

Where........... can you put this to use...and in which way will it be of use or service to you as a tool or devise in order to make use of it?

All these things need to be known ...First.....before you can effectively learn any discipline in terms of just isolating it separately ...alone all by itself as solitary point or object....floating haplessly in outer space....and then finally telling you after you learn it and have perfected this skill......"Oh....and's how you will apply it and what it's used for?"  That would be like telling someone a joke..and forgetting to include the punch line which makes as much sense as that as far as I am concerned...or walking in front of a Mac Truck without ....looking first before stepping off the curb assuming nothing is coming?  That's how bad an idea.....New Math was for me at least but some seemed to grasp this...without all those things present first which is why I am bringing this up?

"In the 'new' mathematics, then, first there must be freedom of thought; second, we do not want to teach just words; and third, subjects should not be introduced without explaining the purpose or reason, or without giving any way in which the material could be really used to discover something interesting. I don't think it is worth while teaching such material."

1)  Freedom of thought

2) Do not teach just words

3) Subjects should not be introduced without explaining the purpose or reason


4) Without giving any way in which the material could be really used to discover something interesting. ( and or useful to you in some way?  I might add? )


Here...just learn this.


Because?  Because why??    That was the entire premise of the New Math system of learning?  You'll find out later...but for now....."just learn this?"  Because?????????????????????????????????"

And here are the things I use to remember hearing along with my own thoughts at the time throughout the entire "New Math" nightmare. 

You'll need to know this first before you can learn the next step. ( school teachers and administrators )

Next step of what?????????????????  Who's on first???? I don't understand???????????  What's the goal?  What's the purpose?  How will it be used and how can I ,make use of it?  What value does it serve?  To what end?  Give me an example of how I can use this and what will be the end result once I do??????????  "What, where, when, and how????"

"You don't need to know that for now, you'll learn that learn the material and learn the only need to focus on the material and just memorize it for later to use in step 7 or 8 once you learn this first.  ( teachers or school administrators )

"Well begging your pardon.....BUT YES I DO!!!!   OR else I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT???????  DO YOU NOT HEAR THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?????????" ( errrrrrrrr!!!! )

"Parents and teachers who opposed the New Math in the U.S. complained that the new curriculum was too far outside of students' ordinary experience and was not worth taking time away from more traditional topics, such as arithmetic. The material also put new demands on teachers, many of whom were required to teach material they did not fully understand. Parents were concerned that they did not understand what their children were learning and could not help them with their studies. In an effort to learn the material, many parents attended their children's classes. In the end, it was concluded that the experiment was not working, and New Math fell out of favor before the end of the decade, though it continued to be taught for years thereafter in some school districts. New Math found some later success in the form of enrichment programs for gifted students from the 1980s onward in Project

In the Algebra preface of his book Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell, Professor George F. Simmons wrote that the New Math produced students who had "heard of the commutative law, but did not know the multiplication table."

"In 1965, physicist Richard Feynman wrote in the essay "New Textbooks for the 'New Mathematics'":[4]

If we would like to, we can and do say, 'The answer is a whole number less than 9 and bigger than 6,' but we do not have to say, 'The answer is a member of the set which is the intersection of the set of those numbers which are larger than 6 and the set of numbers which are smaller than 9' ... In the 'new' mathematics, then, first there must be freedom of thought; second, we do not want to teach just words; and third, subjects should not be introduced without explaining the purpose or reason, or without giving any way in which the material could be really used to discover something interesting. I don't think it is worth while teaching such material."

"In 1973, Morris Kline published his critical book Why Johnny Can't Add: the Failure of the New Math. It explains the desire to be relevant with mathematics representing something more modern than traditional topics."

He says certain advocates of the new topics "ignored completely the fact that mathematics is a cumulative development and that it is practically impossible to learn the newer creations, if one does not know the older ones"

"Furthermore, noting the trend to abstraction in New Math, Kline says "abstraction is not the first stage, but the last stage, in a mathematical development"

Everything said here was absolutely true for me right to the letter?  I couldn't learn Math....if I could not understand it first?  And in order to understand it...I had to have some basic knowledge or understanding and answers to those questions first?  And since no one told me that first....I could not understand it?  Period?

Of I fact...I went from  a D  ( in my last Math course in High School ) straight A's in college...only because someone finally told me how this all works together first....before they just went......"here, learn this?"  Which is exactly the point I am making and what I am finding is exactly the same things happening with my wife many times and I am beginning to recognize the same thing with her as well?  Certain basic ideas or concepts have no been learned and before she can learn anything new...the "Old ways" or "good foundation of knowledge" needs to be learned first before these abstract concepts can even be understood?

Classic Learning

Grammar teaches the mechanics of language to the student. This is the step where the student "comes to terms", i.e. defining the objects and information perceived by the five senses. Hence, the Law of Identity: a tree is a tree, and not a cat.

Logic (also dialectic) is the "mechanics" of thought and of analysis; the process of identifying fallacious arguments and statements, and so systematically removing contradictions, thereby producing factual knowledge that can be trusted.

Rhetoric is the application of language in order to instruct and to persuade the listener and the reader. It is the knowledge (grammar) now understood (logic) being transmitted outwards, as wisdom (rhetoric).

In The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric (2002), Sister Miriam Joseph thus described the Trivium:

Grammar is the "art of inventing symbols" and "combining them to express thought"  ( that's the problem right there to pin point what I hear with my wife when she speaks? )

logic is the "art of thinking; and rhetoric".... is the art of communicating "thought from one mind to another"......... the "adaptation of language to circumstance."

      Grammar is concerned with............................ "the thing"....... "as-it-is-symbolized."

     Logic is concerned with................................... "the thing"............ "as-it-is-known."

     Rhetoric is concerned with.............................. " the thing"......."as-it-is-communicated."

Diction:   Aristotle, in The Poetics (20) states that "Diction comprises eight elements: Phoneme, Syllable, Conjunction, Connective, Noun, Verb, Inflection, and Utterance. However, Epps states that in this passage.......

"the text is so confused and some of the words have such a variety of meanings that cannot always be certain what the Greek says, much less what Aristotle means."

And here in...lies the problem I have with my wife as well?   As I have recently speaking in this manner where the word ....."one" used. to denote "people"....from a "place" of a "thing".  My wife has a much easier time hearing and understanding me....even though I sound like I am speaking in some "Old English Period Peice"...or play or Novel  that has the same kind of sounds to it.....which kind of  makes me sound silly and ridiculous when I speak this way ( to myself that is ) ...but yet, have found that it works to eliminate ambiguity or to simply understand what my wife's says sometimes?

Rhetoric was later taught in universities during the Middle Ages as one of the three original liberal arts or trivium (along with logic and grammar).[21] During the medieval period, political rhetoric declined as republican oratory died out and the emperors of Rome garnered increasing authority. With the rise of European monarchs in following centuries, rhetoric shifted into the courtly and religious applications. Augustine exerted strong influence on Christian rhetoric in the Middle Ages, advocating the use of rhetoric to lead audiences to truth and understanding, especially in the church. The study of liberal arts, he believed, contributed to rhetorical study: "In the case of a keen and ardent nature, fine words will come more readily through reading and hearing the eloquent than by pursuing the rules of rhetoric."[22] Poetry and letter writing, for instance, became a central component of rhetorical study during the Middle Ages.[23] After the fall of the Republic in Rome, poetry became a tool for rhetorical training since there were fewer opportunities for political speech.[24] Letter writing was the primary form through which business was conducted both in state and church, so it became an important aspect of rhetorical education.[25]

Rhetorical education became more restrained as style and substance separated in 16th-century France with Peter Ramus, and attention turned to the scientific method. That is, influential scholars like Ramus argued that the processes of invention and arrangement should be elevated to the domain of philosophy, while rhetorical instruction should be chiefly concerned with the use of figures and other forms of the ornamentation of language. Scholars such as Francis Bacon developed the study of "scientific rhetoric."[26] This concentration rejected the elaborate style characteristic of the classical oration. This plain language carried over to John Locke's teaching, which emphasized concrete knowledge and steered away from ornamentation in speech, further alienating rhetorical instruction, which was identified wholly with this ornamentation, from the pursuit of knowledge.

In the 18th century, rhetoric assumed a more social role, initiating the creation of new education systems. "Elocution schools" arose (predominantly in England) in which females analyzed classic literature, most notably the works of William Shakespeare, and discussed pronunciation tactics.[27]

The study of rhetoric underwent a revival with the rise of democratic institutions during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Scotland's author and theorist Hugh Blair served as a key leader of this movement during the late 18th century. In his most famous work "Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres", he advocates rhetorical study for common citizens as a resource for social success. Many American colleges and secondary schools used Blair's text throughout the 19th century to train students of rhetoric.[28]

Political rhetoric also underwent renewal in the wake of the US and French revolutions. The rhetorical studies of ancient Greece and Rome were resurrected in the studies of the era as speakers and teachers looked to Cicero and others to inspire defense of the new republic. Leading rhetorical theorists included John Quincy Adams of Harvard who advocated the democratic advancement of rhetorical art. Harvard's founding of the Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory sparked the growth of rhetorical study in colleges across the United States.[25] Harvard's rhetoric program drew inspiration from literary sources to guide organization and style.

Debate clubs and lyceums also developed as forums in which common citizens could hear speakers and sharpen debate skills. The American lyceum in particular was seen as both an educational and social institution, featuring group discussions and guest lecturers.[29] These programs cultivated democratic values and promoted active participation in political analysis.

Throughout the 20th century, rhetoric developed as a concentrated field of study with the establishment of rhetorical courses in high schools and universities. Courses such as public speaking and speech analysis apply fundamental Greek theories (such as the modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos) as well as trace rhetorical development throughout the course of history. Rhetoric has earned a more esteemed reputation as a field of study with the emergence of Communication Studies departments in university programs and in conjunction with the linguistic turn. Rhetorical study has broadened in scope, and is especially utilized by the fields of marketing, politics, and literature.

Rhetoric, as an area of study, is concerned with how humans use symbols, especially language, to reach agreement that permits coordinated effort of some sort.[30] Harvard University, the first university in the United States, based on the European model, taught a basic curriculum, including rhetoric. Rhetoric, in this sense, how to properly give speeches, played an important role in their training. Rhetoric was soon taught in departments of English as well.

All of this is speaking in terms of rhetoric as an art form of a discipline in speaking?  What I have come to learn is that rhetoric in terms of how my wife hears and understands more a "phenomenon" or the effect of something that has to do with how she hears things and the way she hears them and processes things as she hears them come through to her?

And the reason I am so focused on the word...."rhetoric" because my wife speaks much and so often....either interspersing it alternatively with logic when she talks or tries to explain things....or....goes off on rhetorical tangents to the point the the point she was trying to make....gets lost in translation?  I finally told her just a couple of days ago...if she could try and not speak rhetorically so oftenl....or bounce back and forth from logic and rhetoric....because I get so confused with she does well it sounds like a person having a conversation with themselves or like when you talk to yourself  for example

"She was walking up to the house and she had this thing in her hand...... I wonder what that thing was?.......and then she came around the corner of the house and....that reminds me...the house needs painting?.....then she saw the dog chasing the cat......that cat, what a handful, cats are so funny sometimes........and that's when the dog jumped on the mailman......our mail man is such a great guy and he's always so friendly......and his mail bag fell on the driveway and the letters went everywhere.....I wonder why they use those mail bags instead of a cart of something?

Instead of saying...."She was walking up to the house and came around the corner...and saw the dog chasing the cat and the mailman was startled and his mail bag fell and spilled letter everywhere?"

So when I finally did point this out to her and she heard me this time.....she actually agreed that she does do this....which I told her is why I have such a hard time following her?  If you took the rhetorical....completely out of the conversation....I can follow along just fine..and understand everything quite simply even the most complicated of topic that go way into depth?  As long as those "interjections or a personal nature" are left out entirely...then this hurky jerky,  disjointed way of speaking suddenly become clear, unambiguous and easily understandable and stays.,,,"on topic"...and the superfluous flotsam and jetsam and judgments and things of a personal nature like.....the mailman if friendly and a great guy.....cats are funny and a handful....what was the thing in her hand.......the house needs painting........and why mailmen uses bags instead of gone a with confusion?

The problem here is....the rhetoric might be useful or add to the topic of the mailman being started by the dog and cat and spilling letters on the driveway...if somehow all those things that were said...were somehow connected to this particular event?  In this example however.....nothing was connected with anything other than my wife just expressing how she personally felt, pondered, wondered, or reminded of....during the entire time she is simply telling an easy to understand event....with none of that there to cloud and confuse and make it difficult to know where she is going or to follow this?

What I am attempting to learn a new language and approaching this analyzing this "language style" order to understand it better?  It is literally "Greek to Me" they say but especially when trying to lobby and get her to understand if when in as the Romans do?  I'm literally attempting to understand this language eliminate that first....before I can lobby effectively?

But I also know for me that in school like I was showing for myself only...that some kids understood the NEW Math....and I just simply didn't.  But it was because of exactly what I said and the approach was just all wrong for me which meant....I HAD TO HAVE A DIFFERENT APPROACH....or I simply could never understand it no matter how hard I tried?  The New Math approach for me....was like someone talking Greek......and that much is a fact and all the supporting evidence I included that was mandatory for me to understand it...that was completely missing which left me totally clueless?

I know this thread is not directly related to communication..;...but you can't Lobby...if the other person cannot understand you...first and foremost....which is what I have discovered?


It's really hard

I'm struggling, big time. 12 out of 12 days in 2017 that I have cried.

one thing I am really fed up with and that I am pushing back really hard on is blame. As Melissa kindly reminded me, I am not to blame. I react and I own up to that. But I am not to blame for his behaviour. The words I hate the most are: because you, but you, if only you. I am now pushing back in those. No, it's not because of me that you are not getting up, forgetting to do things, not going to bed etc...I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THOSE WORDS AGAIN. 


Hang in there Julia....

When our spouse's refusal to discipline their own lives causes us to try and pick up the mantle (mothering an adult). It doesn't take long for our eyes to be opened to the dysfunctional product being produced by this type dependent/co-dependent relationship...The weak and foolish never break the cycle...But there are those that are wise like yourself, that say NO MORE!

I suggest you continue to walk away and don't get sucked into the act/react game (relationship suicided)...Once you're not the crutch any more, he will grow up or not...But no one can create responsibility and conviction for him that will make him mange his life....The only thing I think we can do in this situation is to be an example by living a life of peace and joy regardless of the circumstances (never be a victim)...And hope that they aren't so deep in Denial and Pride that they can't learn self discipline and a more excellent way! 

I just wanted to encourage you and cheer you own!

Many blessings wished your way this day!


Julia A Discovery of Sorts About the "YOU Topic"

I said this earlier in my own way by saying....."I tired ( or fed up ) with hearing about ME?  As in the same thing you are saying about hearing you coming from him?"  I've found for the time being...if I say "we" ( which I hate doing by the way lol ) defers responsibility enough at times....that my wife will accept what I am saying as long as "she" is not fully responsible or singled out in any way?  We is safe enough....for her to listen to me...and if I always start out by saying what is my responsibility first  ( without being apologetic...but more just stating my side of the problem first ) and heaven forbid if I say I am not to blame and what I do that is right....which is taken imediately as her waiiting or hearing "how she is wrong"...even if that is not what I am saying?  Right and a big deal for my wife and her staying away from making anyone responsible....( but keeping what you said about you not being to blame to yourself but not forgetting that in the moment? )

That works with my wife...and keeps the conversation going?  Just thought I would pass that along to you since I hate hearing about me from my much as it sounds that you are fed up with that too?

"We" the lessor of two evils and much easier for me to live with as long as I am not who "owns what?"


Good point J

Lately I have been really focused on learning about how to fight fairly with your spouse. My husband is kicking my ass at it. I think I have scared the shit out of him so now all that ADHD energy is focused on solving this problem. 

I always say my problem is that I need to learn to ask for help without hurting anybody. 

DO.....Update on This Last Post You Responded Too

That "we" thing again?  It's a fine line there too?  This is where I am still fine tuning and learning and last night was a new twist ( actually not new but I really am paying attention to these things ).  Last night was the first time in a while that my wife and I got into a tight spot....but literally as I was explaining it too her....I saw where the problem was?  She started out with this "we" thing in trying defer some of it onto me ( I knew exactly what I did and didn't do..and what I did was keep my mouth shut..and what I didn't do was react ). Having said that...even keeping my mouth shut caused a problem in that she sensed something wrong ( my frustration over another road block in our conversation again ) as I started getting quiet?  This is one of those damned if you do...damned if you don't situations?   If I say will only cause more of a problem so.....I've  been choosing to let things like this slide and not get upset about them even when it hits you in the face from something that was said?  For the most part, this works out well and if my wife wants to take some credit for this, she is welcome too as long as it doesn't go too far?

Last went too far and I know the reason for this..and that had to do with alcohol.  I am not concerned about the amount of alcohol my wife consumes and that isn't the issue.  The issue is losing her inhibitions and then things start ramping up on there own?  She went from completely unreasonable in a matter of minutes while I watched this in real time at about the 3rd glass of wine ( but no more ).  The problem is for her as I have began to when she has a rough day at work and needs to unwind....she will go to a drink of wine or two to calm her down and relax?  Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but she is one of those people...who kind of has a "light switch" when she now, unwinding takes the form of unloading onto me?  That was the case last night..and when that happens.,...logic and reason leave the building along with Elvis!! LOL  The "we" and the "me" convoluted in a hurry and once she started was all down hill from there.

And what you said here has a lot to do with it?  "I think I have scared the shit out of him so now all that ADHD energy is focused on solving this problem." LOL  This can work in many ways I think?  I am afraid of saying the wrong thing when she gets like I default to not saying anything and just holding my mud?  But when that doesn't work..and then that becomes the problem in itself.  It's best to call it a night...and tomorrow is another day!! LOL  I had to pretty much end this before it ramped completely out of control...and there was no winning no matter what except throwing in the towel and leaving it right there without a fight?  I am very sure in this was the alcohol that did it.  When one minute we're fine...and the next we're not...and the only difference is 3 glasses of makes it easy to pin point the problem?  Inhibition really is a determining factor for what ever reason I think?


You mention contempt . . . question from the other side

I'm the ADHD partner, and I confess it took me years to discover that first, I had ADHD, and that second, it had a major impact on my relationship. During those years, I did a lot of emotional damage to my partner. It doesn't help that I also tend to be controlling, selfish, and spoiled (thank my parents for that). So needless to say, I have a ton of bad habits and hurtful behaviors, and then lump the forgetfulness, bad prioritizing, easy distractibility and low frustration tolerance on top of that. It's not a good combination.

I started seeing a counselor a year and a half ago, which gave me some tools to address some of the worst things, including not listening to my partner, interrupting her, getting mad when she's trying to tell me something negative, getting defensive, and impulsively opening my mouth and letting stuff out that really shouldn't be said. I also started medication, beginning with Adderall and then moving to a higher dosage of Vyvanse.

I wish I could say the counseling and the medication fixed everything, or even that it started to change things, but in all honesty, it hasn't. And it's not for lack of me trying to implement things--every day I'm trying to listen better and understand what to say and do to make my relationship with my partner happier. But every day she tells me how I'm still selfish, hurtful, bad at listening, uncaring, etc. It's really, really frustrating, and I'm trying to not be defensive, trying not to shift blame or walk out of the room (which is typically how I want to deal with things), but it's extremely hard when each time I mess up, I get a tirade of every one of my bad qualities and past crimes.

And that's not to say that my partner isn't trying as well. I know she is. But it makes me wonder--she says I'm not working hard enough because I'm not 100% (ergh, or even 50%) stopping the behaviors that make her angry or hurt. So I guess I'm not floating too much. On the other hand, she's not letting go of any of the past anger and hurt, and she expresses contempt for me about how uncaring I am, what an idiot, how lazy, etc. It's not one bit of a partnership--she flat out said this was all on me. If I try to ask her help, all I get is that I created this mess and therefore I have to fix it because she's got nothing left to give and I made her that way. And until she sees change over a long term and consistency in me, she's not going to believe that I care or that I'm making an effort.

In that scenario, are either of us working hard? Am I just the failure for not being able to change my ways? (And I do notice that I interrupt less often, get defensive for a way shorter time, and I'm forgetting less stuff because I write everything down. But the 'how long' I get defensive doesn't matter to her because if I react defensively even for a second, that's a failure. Same thing for if I impulsively say something that hurts her feelings.) 

Is it possible to save a relationship when it's all up to one person because the other insists that they've been hurt too much to "give" any more? I feel like I'm in a sinking ship with a bucket with a hole. Makes it kinda tough to put in that effort.

(oh, and shortly after I managed to get my partner to come with me to counseling, we stopped altogether, because she felt the counselor was taking my side--the counselor would make suggestions on ways for my partner to contribute and said it wasn't possible for it to be 100% one partner's fault. The counseling wasn't a lot of help anyways because anything I learned about ADHD and tried to explain to my partner, she saw as an excuse for my behavior.)

Is it possible for everything to be on the ADHD person?  How can you convince the non-ADHD who is hurt and angry that your condition is not just an excuse?

Good for you!

No... it is absolutely NOT possible for everything to be on the ADHD person. 

She needs to let go of her anger and hurt. She, like me, needs to learn to express her anger and her hurt and have it heard and then forgive and move on. She needs to go to her own counsellor and then the two of you can go together to each other's. Or something. 

Good for you for trying. I have noticed in my relationship, my husband and I get on this weird cycle where he forgets about me, I get angry, he starts paying attention and doing things but because I am angry, I don't engage and then he loses track of me and then I get angry. Pretty lame, pretty juvenile. 

So make a sustained effort. Don't blow all that ADHD energy in one go. Put some reminders in your calendar. 

And good for you. Great work on doing all that work. 

No problem gets solved overnight. Keep communicating. Keep repeating back what you hear from her until you understand and she can see that you understand. And try to understand her. When my husband makes an effort to see things from my point of view, anger and defensiveness dissolve. He doesn't even have to agree with me, he just has to try to understand my perspective and the fight is over. 

Have faith. Keep working on things. Don't let the resistance derail you. Time and persistence solve a world of hurt. 

I'm in the same boat

I'm the ADHD partner as well.  I did not find out I had ADHD until 25 years into the relationship.  I have gone through counseling and am on medication.  I feel that I have worked extremely hard to get a handle on my situation.  I know that I will never be "cured" of ADHD.  That being said, my husband is still very angry and resentful and claims the problem is totally mine.  He doesn't know how to change or match up with me.  I don't want him to match up with me, but I do want to try to change the way we interact as a couple through doing the couples course.  We are both to blame for our relationship problems.  I am willing to accept responsibility for my actions.

It's all in the approach.....

This statement of Melissa's is so very true for me.  "Rather than work alone, make a plan for how to gently and non-aggressively approach your partner to request assistance.  This can take some lengthy lobbying, but your best bet for progress is when both of you are involved. " 

Years ago, when I suspected my H of possibly having ADHD my "fear" was NOT about the ADHD. It was knowing that my H would not be receptive to the idea. It was knowing, from experience that if it involved him and I needed him to consider was not going to go well.  I had become "used" to that in our marriage. THAT was THE issue I should have been more concerned about. My H NOT being approachable, receptive to communication with me. While I am aware that adhd does contribute to this, in my mind I also believe that at some point, the caring, thoughtful and loving person takes into consideration a spouses comment, view or observation. Yes, my H has adhd and I never felt for a moment it couldn't be handled by the both of us. I may be a slow learner....but I put myself into it and learned. My H's response to the news was as I expected..sigh. But I hung in there...for him, for us....and selfishly .. for me. In doing so I uncovered a deeper issue that explained my H's "unapproachability" from the beginning of our marriage. The adhd was benign compared to this. 

I believe that any spouse who is NOT approachable( WHO accepts THAT in a marriage? may very well have another perhaps deeper issue. It is worth considering.......because adhd is NOT a deal breaker, in and of itself. And it should not be the end all be all excuse for relationship problems. A rational thinking feeling person who displays a self aware attitude of SOME sort, for the most part.....will consider it. Adhd may cause times of not being "aware" but it is NOT a constant way of being. In other LOVING approach to my H about adhd was NOT noticed.....and THAT was the REAL problem......

Approach is important

But also very difficult when the issues are so deep and have been going on for so long. I now have zero coping ability after having given everything. If I don't take the first step, whatever it is, it doesn't happen. I need to be nicer, kinder, more loving, more empathetic, more praising of his efforts etc... I need to ask how his day was - one time I texted him in the morning to wish him a good day at work and he responded: Well, it's not like asking about my day at the end of it but I will take it anyway. 

If I dare try to discuss anything and not matter how i approach (can we talk?, there is something I would like us to discuss, let me know when we can sit quietly and chat, can we agree on a time to talk? Etc...) he will tell me I am attacking him, judging him etc...then it will likely go into all the wrongs I do to him (but you, because you, if only you etc...).then it will likely go into how horrible and inadequate a person he is and how I would be better off without him. Then I'll give up, cry again (which usually doesn't take very long since I have zero coping ability) and he will go watch tv, play video games and will certainly not come to bed that night. It will start all over again.

Try to discuss the issues? Can't even begin.


Hi Julia.  I used to be a crier.  I would sit and scream silently and cry with frustration and disgust and anger and grief and loss of love and loss of hope.  I would cry and cry and cry.  Some of it was hormones, yes, but, if I had those years to do over again this time I would know what to do with those feelings.  Feelings are your body's way of telling you that something is not right in your world.  I think more women cry historically (and hysterically too) because many times we are trapped between children and finance and tiredness (and achiness of body) and inequality and because we all can't be a #10 with guys lining up to smother us with love.  I was artistic and sensitive.  There was a hint in my head that said that artists just felt more and this was a good thing. It is not a good thing to let bad feelings have their way with your sanity and well being. You can be a creative, passionate person without feeling bad too much.

Crying is a release of pent up emotion.  We need to "get it out".  So some of us cried.  It's a childlike and childish thing to do.  There are better ways.  You DO have control over your thoughts.  Not so much your feelings about your thoughts.....but control over what you think about and how you think about it.  

I used to think that if someone was physically torturing me that I would have reason and right to cry and scream.  But even that would be a choice.  I am not sure what I am getting at.  I just feel so much like I can relate to you and want to tell you, after years go by that all the crying I did was not good for me. And it certainly does not help relationships.  It is not healthy for your physical health to cry too much.  So, what else to do when you are sad and frustrated?  THINK your way to a  more positive, more healthy feeling.  You don't have to FEEL bad.  I know that sounds trite.  Someone said that to me at the time and I was offended.  Like "You don't know my pain."  But now on the other side of the drama of sadness and frustration, I say with experience, that you don't HAVE to feel things so MUCH.   You can feel the feeling, try to learn the lesson the feeling is telling you, and then flip it with the strength of your mind.  Decide how you want to feel about something and talk to yourself to get to a healthier place in your heart and mind.  A counselor told me that our words and actions GET us something even though we don't know that is what we are doing.  I wrestled with that for a long time, thinking she was SHE did not know my pain!   But what I was unconciously trying to do with my crying is to get sympathy and hoping that someone would hear my sadness and make it better for me - rescue me....or just love me.    Well, that is unrealistic and childish if you really think about it....but now I see that is what I really was doing, subconciously.  I didn't have any other way to get what I I cried for it.   IT never came.  I just looked ugly crying and got a headache.  

Hormones are another story.  I hate that men say the things they do and excuse themselves because a woman is experiencing hormones.  But now on the other side of youthful hormones, I can tell you that there is no fighting it.  Hormones WILL have their way with a person.  The best bet during hormone time is to pamper yourself when you know it is hormones and don't take yourself too seriously and lay low for a little while - maybe giving yourself the rest and relaxation you need.  And treat yourself....definatly treat yourself!  Don't be a martyr....No one likes a martyr even the martyrs don't love themselves.....I used to be a I can say that.

I know that if I had read this when I was younger and experiencing these things, I would not have wanted to hear it.  But it is the voice of having lived it and coming out of it that I am trying to speak from. I hardly ever cry now.  When I do.....I step back like a third person in the room and look at myself crying and ask...."What is this about? What do you want?"  It is never anymore that I expect sympathy or a rescuer.  It is more often that I am tired and need I love myself a little that day and do something healthy for myself.

Oh yeah,  and your SO sounds like a jerk.  He sounds just like my H. He sounds like he's just not that into you..... Knowing this is not a bad thing, but you need to look at that.  If he shows you that he is not into you, you might want to just look at that and decide if it is true for yourself.   And give yourself some credit for being a person deserving of a good partnering partner.   Without emotion.  Just look at it and accept what is.  And sit with the thoughts and acceptance of what you really see and feel.   He is hurting your feelings!  And you are not trusting your feelings because you think (and hope) you both love each other.  Sounds like you've been doing all the loving and the praying and the hoping. That is what I did for 40 years.....the loving and the praying and the hoping.....all by myself.

The vulnerable cry.  The strong accept and make choices. A counselor or a good talking pal sounds like a good idea.

Crying to get my way

Crying at a loss or a sadness for a bit is not childish and there should be no shame for tears shed in grief.  I can get misty from some Facebook images that pull at my heart. BUT the crying I was doing when I was younger was a daily crying and sulking about the same problem over and over again, daily, as if that was the only coping skill available to me.  I thought it was the only response to a distant, irresponsible husband.  Instead of fighting for my dignity, or seeking help, or making a change, or getting hold of my emotions, I a powerless child.  I didn't know anything else to do. Not any more.  

please, no more tears

Hi, I'm new to the forum and completely relate to the crying - being ignored - crying more cycle. 99.9% of the time SO just can't/ won't see me : ( I feel virtually invisible - and pretty much like the angry maid around here. I go from that to the maid on strike! Am I passive/aggressive? Or just tormented? Or both?

 Crying occasionally is probably quite healthy - constant suppression of emotion is said to be 'body toxic' and will likely damage your health. Only problem is if you live with someone in denial that their actions contribute to your state of mind be prepared to cry a lot! Or learn to avoid/suppress crying. This is eventually what happens to neglected children - they just withdraw into their damaged selves.  As adults we can make positive choices to avoid such negative outcomes - focus on work, children, friends but then you realise you are just trapped in a failed relationship - the only sane way to deal with it is to ignore as best you can.

I know we should aim to be responsible for and take control of our own state of mind - but No Man is an Island. People do bounce off each other. If it were a work or social setting you might limit your interaction with someone you found at times, fun and charming but ultimately draining. How do you do this when you live with someone? Can and should you really encourage the flat-mate model to deal with the pain of this type of life partner?

It's only on a couple of recent occasions in the last couple of years that my SO has noticed me crying  - but then quickly moves on/ doesn't really want to know why - just wants it to stop. Of course - it will start again - nothing has been aired and so will not be resolved. Let the past stay there but the same behaviours remain in the present and will continue into the future. 

I think he has noticed me cry maybe twice more recently because he realises that our relationship is at breaking point/broken? And that as the kids grow up I am more and more likely to leave. If he can sometimes notice now - why not before? Is this due to ADHD? Can we ever really be sure? He is not diagnosed (to say one way or the other) and likely never will be - counselling/therapy wouldn't be his thing.

I am trying like a lot of women on this site to avoid crying and focus on other positive aspects of my life. I often think I have it under control then something happens and it all floods out again.

I hear you Jenna

A complete stranger sent me a screen shot of my husbands online dating profile. And after a week of waiting for me him to explain to me what the hell was going on, I left. I lost my shit and walked out. 

Because I don't want to ever let my life be that controlled by another person again. I don't want to be unhealthy again. I don't want to be a martyr. I don't want to lose all the things I have gained in the last 6 months. 

So when I feel healthy. When I am ready. When I can walk in the front door of my house with peace, understanding and acceptance, I will go back. But not now. And not till then. 

I don't want to check his phone. I don't want to check his computer. I don't want to wonder what he is doing. I don't want to micromanage. I don't want to be a parent.

I want to be healthy. I want to go to work. I want to be a good mom. I want to exercise. I want to have a calm household with a healthy routine. And when I can do those things again with my husband, I will go back. If I can't I won't go back. 

I can't wait to see my counsellor next week because I have so many questions about how you live with dysfunction in your life without letting it overwhelm your world, make you codependent or a martyr.

Ever again. 

What helped me...

Was looking after myself. Get out of his world. Created some space. Do some things that make you happy that don't involve your husband. Creative things. Connecting things. Look after yourself. Drop the issue for awhile and focus as hard as you can on making yourself healthy, sane and happy. Make the best choice for you. 


Moved to another thread - I'm new to this site and still trying to navigate properly!