Reply To: Feeling overwhelmed by my spouse's ADHD

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Anybody not that invested with time, money, or children with an ADHD partner, think very carefully what you are willing to live without in a partner FOREVER, because people don’t generally change, and my experience with people with ADHD is that they CAN’T change, and, really should not need to, but it takes a special, wonderful, understanding, strong independent person person who can ride the fine line of providing stability, financial support, external boundaries for a person who, much of the time seems to forget that you even exist, and upon whom you can never really depend…

My ADHD partner’s therapist (who I forced him to see) told me in our 1 joint session that to expect him to be dependable, or helpful, or neat, or steadily employed would be the equivalent of choosing a paraplegic partner then expecting him to take you ballroom dancing, then getting mad when he couldn’t. I have tried so hard to remember this. I try to imagine what it must feel like to know that any room I walk into will contain at least 1 person (likely more than 1) who is extremely angry with me because I failed to complete a task I promised to do, or I was late (or more frequently, both). My heart aches when I watch him try so hard to make friends, only to watch him blow through so many social cues that people soon start making excuses not to make plans with him. I watch him struggle just to leave the house on time to make it to his minimum wage job, that I insisted he get after his “business” failed—going from the car to the house over and over to retrieve forgotten items, and know that telling him to allow more time, or get his belongs together the night before will just fall on deaf ears… My compassion has diminished to almost zero since He went completely unemployed for 3 years, during which I went into debt and was forced into bankruptcy after paying both his bills and mine for those years, and I begged him to TRY to find any kind of job, which he refused, insisting that he was not created for boring or menial work. Astoundingly, he watched me spiral into almost a stressed out complete nervous breakdown, heard me on tearful phone calls with bill collectors, witnessed me working two jobs, missing sleep, and just not making it despite all my efforts because I simply don’t make enough to support two people on my own, and STILL did not get a job until I told him to get a job or get out. When it finally affected HIM personally, and HIS stability was threatened, and he was faced with homelessness he got a job in a few days, yet when I pointed out that forcing him into doing the right thing via an ultimatum was not consistent with the actions of somebody who loved another person, he became incredibly upset that I would even SUGGEST that he did not care about me. He now gives me a set amount from his paycheck (not all of it) and I pay all bills, buy all food, pay the mortgage, pay for his credit cards (from his first marriage).Thank God I never joined our finances officially, the thought of a joint checking account with him is enough to cause nightmares. HE can’t go bankrupt because he is involved in some property ownership thing with his siblings, and it would negatively affect them and THEIR credit, so we are forced paying off his thousands and thousands of dollars of debt. THAT he can care about, but not me almost losing my house, or my own credit score, which is in shambles. I love this man, but I can’t view him as, nor treat him as a partner. He is somebody I chose to love, and he is doing his best. I believe this, but…I can’t muster sexy feelings about somebody that I basically need to parent, down to the level of reminding him (ok, nagging him) to bathe. I would ask him to leave, but I honestly believe that he is not capable of living on his own, but I absolutely resent that he has turned me into his mommy, just like he did with his first wife that he left because “she was mean to him, and nagged him all the time.” After living with him for 7 years, I now want to send her a 3 foot high trophy for putting up with him for 27 years (undiagnosed). We are now at the point that as long as he stays employed (he flits from 1 minimum wage job to the next) I will let him live here, this is my red line, that he has a job. I fantasize that he will meet somebody else who wants to take care of him…If I were independently wealthy, that would be great, because he is SO MUCH FUN to hang out with. If I could pay a housekeeper to walk around behind him and pick up after him, and if finding the money to pay bills were not an issue, I could just enjoy all the wonderful qualities that he DOES have. I feel like such a hypocrite because I fell in love with him because he was funny, kind, spontaneous, and honest–and he is still all of these things. I just never realized in the beginning that someday I would care so much for a life that even approximates calmness and stability so damn much. I am so tired of wondering what mess is on the other side of the door when I walk in. I am so tired of calculating the odds in my mind every time he tells me he is going to do anything (70/30 against in most cases). I shudder when I think what might happen if I ever become ill, or unemployed–I hope I would just die quickly. I know he could not handle it, and I cannot depend on him, yet he WANTS to be dependable, and he wants “recognition” that he does WANT to be dependable, without any actual dependable actions. It’s just so hard to peer past what IS happening to appreciate what he INTENDS to to happen, and to be satisfied that he always means well. I guess it’s just my wacky neurotypical mind being judgemental again… I chose this man, and I will stand by him to the best of my ability, I’m just so sad to really be confronted with the fact that I will never have “real” partner to shoulder life’s burdens with. At best I have a wonderful party buddy to do “fun things” with, because he can only respond to “fun” or shrieking bitch monster, and I refuse to be turned into something I’m not. I just try to enjoy his charming company (truly charming) when I can afford to go on a vacation, or a concert, or a movie, and just try to ignore the rest, but it’s so freaking hard, and sad.