Oh, how familiar this all sounds and how exhausting it feels to read about the exhaustion I feel being a spouse of someone suffering from untreated/under-treated ADHD! I have to work SO hard not to slip into “I must do everyting or else nothing will get done!” The truth is that even when I was doing everything there was STILL chaos – there are things ONLY my husband can do.
He was only diagnosed 6 months ago and we are doing better, though I’m unsure how much is permanent. But he’s started taking medication and I’m hopeful.
But talking to him about his difficulties was the hardest part! He’s completely unaware of what they are! If I brought up anything specific (“please take out the trash when it starts over-flowing,” “please be more affectionate,” or even “please do this thing you said you’d do”) he’d react with frustration and anger. Then he’d make a real effort with that one thing, but a million other things were still neglected and he’d always fall back into neglecting the one thing I’d requested.
The only thing that’s made me feel any better is a good counselor – ours actually has ADHD so he understands our struggles well.
My best advice is this: focus on the trouble your wife can perceive. When I tried to talk to my husband about him being “distant,” “disorganized,” or “overwhelmed” we got nowhere because he doesn’t realize he’s any of those things (I think decreased self-awareness is the WORST part of ADHD), but once I started talking about him feeling “un-energetic” he started listening because he DOES feel like he has less energy. Maybe the feeling is the same for your wife, but what helped me identify it was asking him how he feels different than he did before we got married (which was shortly before his symptoms started getting worse).
Secondly, once you’re able to get through to her find a couple’s counselor/therapist who’s familiar with ADHD. Your wife needs to set up her own reminder system. You can’t remind her of everything when you have your own things to remember! You both need support on navigating ADHD: your wife on her symptoms and you on figuring out where each of your “lanes” begin and end, then sticking to your lane, and letting her suffer when things I her lane fall apart.
I think ADHD marriage is a lot like addiction marriage: both partners need support and the sufferer will never seek treatment as long as we (their non-ADHD spouse) is preventing the natural consequences of their actions. Your kids’ health always comes first and i have no doubt it will be hard to figure out where your lane ends because you care so much about the kids, but if I was in your position I’d start setting some boundaries like, “when I come home after a long day of work I don’t have any energy to help with dinner or the kids hungry behavior so ig the kids aren’t fed when I get home I’ll need to take space to myself.” Then the hardest part is sticking to it and NOT helping!
I hope something in here helps. Best of luck!!!
P.S. my husband CONSTANTLY forgets to eat! Then he feels terrible because he’s been so hungry for so long! You’d think he’d have figured out how that works after 37 years of life, but here we are!