Reply To: I may have ended my marriage

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Hi, W,

Sorry that you haven’t had any replies to your post. Good for you for coming around to all the realizations that you have recently had. You’re going in a good direction! No matter what, keep going. Your marriage might or might not survive. Either way, you should continue on your journey of self-discovery and of taking responsibility.

What will probably be hardest for you to understand, is why your wife isn’t as inspired by your A-ha! moment. Remember, she has been living and dealing with you prior to your a-ha moment. In fact, she has probably been trying to get you to realize some things about yourself that she could see, but you couldn’t from deep in denial. The fact that you have had a A-ha! moment, won’t magically erase everything she’s dealt with over the last 20+ years. For you, it may have been like someone flipped a switch and turned on the lights, suddenly you can see everything in crystal clear, sparkling detail. And I think that the tendency is for you to want to quickly move on now that you can see. It will not be that easy for her. I don’t know if it will be impossible for her, but it won’t be like flipping a switch.

Have you sought any couples counseling with someone familiar with how ADHD affects relationships? If not, you might consider it. It can be very helpful to have an informed guide to help you two repair and rebuild. Someone who will have compassion for what both of you have been/are experiencing, and who will help you through without judgment. You should try this even if you end up separating. Because you both will benefit from the healing, regardless of whether you end up together in the end.

You will have to give her time to see whether she can forgive and move forward, and you’ll have to give her time to trust this “new” you. Remember, her experience of you is 20+ of dysfunction and denial. You want her to believe in the change, but it will take her a long time to unlearn all the old ways and trust that this new reality is going to last.

One thing that stood out to me from your post was where you said, “she doesn’t buy that I wasn’t aware of what I was doing…” I don’t think you were totally unaware either, you were probably in denial. Denial is an active process, and it implies awareness on some level. Also, you probably aren’t going to get far with her if you try to suggest that you were not aware of what you were doing, that’s not taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for what you were doing will probably be a better approach. Don’t say “I didn’t know what I was doing” and don’t blame your ADHD/Asperger’s. Taking responsibility would sound more like, “I was deep in denial, and I know you tried to bring things to my attention, but I was in denial and protecting myself from having to acknowledge that I have this because acknowledging it would have made me feel defective. And in the process I hurt you deeply. I was not trying to hurt you, but I did, and that is on me. I see that now, and I am going to get to work on trying to repair the damage, and earning back your trust. Are you willing to try working through this with me?” Assuming you love your wife and want to rescue your marriage, you might even want to add something like “I realize that this went on for a long time, and I will need to give you time to believe in me and trust me. I love you and I am committed to helping you heal from the damage I have caused, if you are willing to give it a try.”

You will have to try to not make this about you and your healing and revelations (because she already thought you were being selfish, right?). That might make it harder for her to trust and believe in the new aware you. If she hears a message from you of “Well, I am better now, so everything is fine. What’s wrong with YOU that you can’t get over it and get on board with the new me…” it’s probably not going to work. You can’t just tell her that you get it now, and it will be different going forward. You are going to have to show her. And part of that is going to be showing her EMPATHY with what she has gone through, and respecting her journey toward healing from it.

I hope that makes some sense 🙂

Best wishes,