Reply To: I suspect my husband might have ADHD

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First off, I’m not a doctor or professional but I do have ADHD and struggling in my marriage. Second off, this post is kind of all over the place so I’m sorry. I find that as I share things with others, it helps me become a better me. If my wife were to type up a post, her’s would be exactly the same story. I have, in the past couple years, realized how much of a burden I am on her in regards to determining what is a priority and leading the family in the right direction. She is the one that manages most of the same things. I would say, yes he probably does have ADHD and you should see if he’ll go get evaluated. Before any behavior changes can be made, medication is needed. He’ll have more energy and think a lot more clearly once the right medication and dosage is determined. I have a horrible memory and rely heavily on post it notes and a notepad to remind myself to do things. My phone has around two dozen alarms to remind myself daily on tasks and important things that need done for my family. It sucks typing it out because it does make me sound like a child.

I’ve often thought about whether there was a relationship between autism and ADHD. I find that I’m emotional disconnected from some things that I know, logically, I should have a deeper emotional attachment and drive towards. I’m by no means any level of expert on autism so I can’t speak intelligently to it.

My wife has said that she is a married woman that has a husband that loves her deeply but she’s also the loneliest person on the planet because I’m not present when she needs. It is true and you are correct when you said that he doesn’t realize things need done. It’s hard to explain but its not that we forget, we just don’t prioritize it. Its not intentional, our brains just dont have it in any of our decision making processes.

You asked how to approach him about it. I don’t know if this is the right way because everyone is different and at a different spot emotionally and mentally. The brick that hit me was when she told me that if I don’t change, she’ll leave. We’ve only been married for four years and I’ve been taking medication for ADHD for over 20yrs so initially I was like ‘ok then leave’. But I’ve always said that if a person is married a few times, it generally is not the spouses that are the problem. If she left, that would be my second failed marriage so I had to figure out if her concerns were justified. Afterall I had been on Ritalin for 20yrs so I should be fine. So I started researching and learned that maybe the Ritalin wasnt helping me as much as I thought. When I was younger (in my 20’s) it worked fine but now that I’m older, my body has changed and my medication probably should as well. So I searched for a doctor that specializes in ADHD. After a couple sessions, she put me on a new medication and a lot stronger and its helped a lot. I still have a ton of work to do but at least now I recognize my short comings and can hopefully create action plans to help me and my family.

If you aren’t sure if you can talk to him about it, then my guess is that communication between you to isn’t as open as you would like it. When you two do argue, does he like to try and distract or reflect things back towards you? Its common. Either way, it sounds like you are hurting and it sounds like you are feeling alone. I promise, he is as well but we dont show it the same way. He’s complacent so it can make it easier for him to deal with things. My recommendation would be to find a couples therapy that specializes in ADHD. A Professional that really understands the condition and can help with a diagnosis and help the marriage. What I felt after getting on medication for the first time:
– A lot more energy. Prior to medication I was always tired. I sometimes would almost fall asleep on my drive home from work. It was scary. Completely stopped once I got on meds.
– I can focus on work a lot better. This moved me up in my organization where I’m now in a senior level management role.
– I am a lot more patient.
– I am a lot less lazy
– I can reflect on my mistakes a lot better now
– I was able to go back to school and finish my bachelors and masters degree. I barely graduated high school…I mean barely.

Once on medication:
For me, I live my life as a checklist. The problem I had in the past was I never added my wife, or ex-wife (i’m in my second marriage), into my checklist. I got all my things done, all my work items done, and then I was done and contributed to the family (at least that’s what I thought). But not once did I ever ask myself, “what can I do for my wife today?” or “…my family today?” I would also procrastinate on non-routine items because I didn’t know where to add them to my checklist. If I added them to the wrong place, they wouldn’t get done and then I would deem myself as a failure. Because we forget so often, fail to uphold our word, and unable to make a decision/choice, we fail a lot. This fear of failure is a driver in our lives. So not starting something means not failing at something. We go off on tangents a lot so I digress and back to checklists. For me, I have a routine, a checklist. My meds are in the same place, out in the open (not in a drawer or cupboard), every morning. My wallet, keys, and everything I need in the morning is set out. I put all my cloths out in the morning so that I have less to think about when I wake up. At work I have a post it of everything I need to do that day which I create the afternoon before. If anything falls out of routine, that’s when things are forgotten or done half ass. My wife created a google calendar where we put all of our appointments and tasks and anything involving me, us, or them. That way, if i schedule something for myself and forget to tell her, at least its routine enough for me now that I most likely put it on the calendar. I was reminded A LOT to add things to the calendar before it became routine for me.

My checklist, is about me and my things that need done. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to do other things, but if they aren’t on my checklist, I don’t even think about them. Something you can try is creating a checklist. This is going to sound childish and he may think so as well. Maybe initially, you own it as something you need. But have him lead the charge in creating the checklist (one separate checklist for both of you). It will consist of seven sheets of paper, Mon-Sun. This wont solve all your problems but it will start to paint a picture for him. In order for this to work, you have to stay consistent with it and with him. I know I’m asking you to do more, but this could payoff to a point where you are doing less. My goal, was to get those things I needed in our marriage to be added to my checklist. In order to do that, I had to make it part of my routine to create a physical checklist of things that needed done around the house and with the family. Something that has to be included on this list is date night with you, start with once a month or twice a month. You mentioned that your sexual relationship is non-existent. This is because he’s more of a roommate to you than a husband. I don’t believe you want to identify him as such so you need to get back that romance you once had. A simple date night where you are just a girl and he is just a boy may help you get there.

We got into a ‘discussion’ that I never do anything for her and then I listed off all these things I did for her daily. Her response, “how do you know what I need when you’ve never asked?”. She was right. I was filling up her bucket, but it was the wrong bucket. I filled up the ‘I can do these for myself but thank you’ bucket when I should be focusing on filling up the ‘this is what I need from my husband’ bucket. Once he realizes this, your marriage will be a little better every day.

You are an amazing strong woman. To be in a relationship with someone with ADHD is not easy, I see that now. I would have left a long time ago. Continue to have hope and faith and keep encouraging him to talk to someone. Once he does, his life will open up like he’s never experienced. I always tell people that living with unmedicated ADHD is like living life through a steamed up window. Every once and awhile you’ll have a water droplet run down the window and it will keep your full attention but you really cant see too much past the glass. You life is the steam and the drops with an occasional glimpse of reality. Once medicated, the steam is wiped away and the world opens up. It sounds like he is a high level ADHD person which is why you are still with him. He’s intelligent, probably does well at work, and he’s got a good heart. He’ll be an amazing different person once medicated, if indeed he does have ADHD.

Good luck to both of you and God Bless!