ADD and denial?

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    • #47702

      My spouse was diagnosed with ADD a few years ago. Since then we have tried to get help (~8 therapists and coaches after it took 3 psychiatrists to appropriately calibrate medication). Several therapists/coaches weren’t really qualified or experienced enough with adult ADD to help. Others suggested tasks for him/us to do each week, but my spouse wouldn’t follow through, yet would say he did and get really angry when I would try to politely point out otherwise. We suffer from all the ADD relationship struggles and things have gotten pretty awful. I reached out to two close friends asking for help, but it backfired. They talked to my spouse who basically convinced them I’m just a monster who makes up all this stuff and have unreasonable expectations, and that nothing is wrong with him at all. How do I explain ADD to people close to us who would want to help form a support system and find this as jaw-droppingly unbelievable as I did at first? How do you handle an extreme case of denial where all the ADD partner is doing is finding excuses to blame you for everything and explain away any effect of ADD? How do I deal with the constant ignoring of my feelings and experience of being the nonADD spouse?

    • #47860
      Penny Williams

      Shame and denial of adult ADHD is unfortunately common. And he can’t/won’t change anything until he sees a need and is ready.

      3 Ways to Talk It Out with Your Spouse

      Here’s more on shame and ADHD:

      Life Is Too Short for Shame

      Lose the Shame Already!

      And lots of expert advice on successful relationships despite ADHD:

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #99321

        My husband was recently diagnosed with ADHD, at age 66! We had suspected it and he even had a brochure that he had picked up about it. I did some reading and saw that he had nearly all the symptoms. He was beginning to see a psychologist but he was uncomfortable with him, thinking that he was making a pass at him. We have been married only 3 years, this is my third marriage and his second. He lived with a woman for ten years because he thought she could “help him”, but he had no romantic interest in her. She wanted him though, and he stayed with her until she died of cancer. He is a carpenter and very good, and is artistic too. He barely got through high school, in the 70’s not much was known about ADHD, and he had lost his dad at age nine. His mom had 6 kids and was just trying to survive. He never got his problem addressed and he felt unloved and like the black sheep of the family. I am experiencing a lot of frustration because of his problems. He is in a lot of denial about things that he does that I don’t like, such as looking at women, bad driving, saying inappropriate or hurtful things, doing impulsive things. Recently I have realized how bad the denial is. He will do things like looking at a woman right in front of me, but he denies it EVERY time. It upsets me, but he gets annoyed and says he is tired of it, as if I were making it all up, which I am not. Once a young woman ran in front of our truck and he watched her all the way across the road to the other side, yet he insisted that he was looking at a truck! Ok so I get jealous. Does any woman like her husband ogling women? He claims he doesn’t really “see” them. Oh please!! He has had many close calls while driving because he got distracted. Yet he tells me he is a good driver. I think he has other mental problems too. He used to think people were putting their hands on their mouths when he was around them, and that it meant they didn’t like him. This has stopped. He has anxieties and sleep problems. He is often up most of the night because he can’t sleep. He seldom sleeps all night with me. Our intimacy is affected by ADHD too. He also had hearing loss, which adds to our communication problems. He can’t listen to me for long, he often starts yawning if it’s late at night, when I am trying to discuss something with him. I can relate to the parent-child thing. He is kind of immature, can’t handle things like paying bills. He is afraid of confrontation. A friend of his ran into him the other day and asked why he hadn’t called him, and he made an excuse, which he does often with me too. He has trouble with focusing on the preacher at church and doesn’t retain what he reads very well, although he likes to read. He’s a great guy overall and loves to help people. We both have the same beliefs and there’s no substance abuse problems. I’m glad to have found this forum to vent my feelings!

      • #99322

        Yes, I’m responding to my own post. I wanted to add that I am doing some things to help myself such as having some other interests. I have taken up photography, I go to prayer meetings, shopping, get nails done. I have grandkids I keep and take out to do things with. I recently retired from dental hygiene, but still go to classes to keep my license current. I often need space, especially when I am exasperated with my husband. He is retired, so he’s at home a lot. I did convince him to do odd jobs, since he’s a great carpenter, so now he’s working on boats near our home. He does projects on our house too, which really tries my patience. He is very disorganized and it takes him too long to get finished, but the end result is great. He is afraid that I’m going to leave him, he has a lot of fears and irrational ideas. Sometimes I want him to leave, I feel suffocated at times. He is dependent on me. I really wonder if he could take care of himself without me, since I know about his dependence on that woman he lived with. I love him but I need a break!

      • #101567


        I am in a similar boat. But my partner was diagnosed as a kid. He told me before we got really serious. But I had no idea what ADHD was for adults. I thought it was a kids disorder that you grew out of! So when the hyper focus part of dating was over, and he started to drift I thought that if we spent more time together it would easy. He thought our work schedules were pulling us apart and so we moved in together. He wanted a separate room to sleep cause he is easily awakened and works graveyard. Made sense to me. We were sleeping apart anyway. But as soon as he had me his true colors came through. The clutter, piles of papers, losing everything, changing plans, pacing, fidgeting, non-committal to events, disorganization, and money issues (forgetting to pay things and overpaying things). Those I could live with. But the meanness, spontaneous anger over trivial things…that’s when I thought something else was going on. I remembered the talk about ADHD and his parents refusal to accept or treat it. This poor guy has been navigating life, paddling a dingy in a swell. I am trying to find a good time to talk to him about it, but he has other pressing health issues right now. We will have a discussion soon, but I am starting by training my brain to deal with his. Short of the rude comments and lack of intimacy because he cannot focus on me, we are great together. And after we fight, I get hugs and apologies. I know he doesn’t’ want to treat me bad and says it’s all his faults. It will get better. I assure him it takes two to tango , but he is the one asking to dance. :). I just need to find a good way to stop the burst of anger. The name calling and rude comments will the death of us. I just can’t accept to live with that forever.

        FYI-part of moving in was that we planned to marry. Now, we don’t have time for it. Weddings take to long to plan. I don’t have time to get the paperwork for a courthouse ceremony. We don’t have time. We don’t have time. One ADHD excuse after another. When he is calm, we should start thinking about dates…sigh…

        I could some help on how to approach it. I don’t want him to think I have been diagnosing and studying him behind his back. I wish I could find the perfect article to send that was short and concise. For him to find himself in it. No shame, no blame. Just HELP!

      • #101772

        This for Bunny Girl – Please don’t marry him! The problems you have now will only intensify. Yes, you’re living with him now, but there’s still a difference when you make that commitment. I love my husband, but probably wouldn’t have married him if I knew how it would be 3 years into the marriage. We are Christians and know God is helping us to make it, even though it’s hard. I vented a lot in my first post. He is really a good man, just has a lot of issues. I have some too, it’s not all his fault. I get very impatient with him. I tend to look too much at his faults. He will be reevaluated soon at the psychologist’s office, the first one that we liked, not the one he didn’t like. Some of his problems are age related. think about that too, Bunny Girl. When your man gets old with ADHD, you’ll have more to deal with. I say get out while you can and turn to Jesus too. NONADHD Wife

    • #47868

      Thank you. I appreciate the response, but it just isn’t helpful. I’m aware of and have read all those articles and many books already, but for advanced cases, there seem to be no resources or qualified professionals available.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by NonADDspouse.
      • #49003
        Penny Williams

        There’s nothing you can do until he sees a problem and wants to change.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #48987

      I just ended a two year relationship with a man who has undiagnosed, untreated, unacknowledged ADHD. My ex-husband had ADD. From my exhaustive research and therapy sessions, I would say that the denial from your spouse is because ADHD sufferers very often have trouble with seeing the “end result”, or “consequence” of an action. They are not compelled to change behaviour, negative as it may be considered to others, unless there is a direct consequence. My ex did not stop texting and driving despite numerous ticket violations/fines and nagging from me, until he totalled his vehicle. The money it cost him, woke him up. He also had tickets for drunk driving, and last year he drove home in a nearly unconscious state and vomited into the toilet. After he registered the shock from me, he stopped the drunk driving, but did not stop the drinking. In fact, a few months ago, he drank so much he came home and defecated on the floor of my house. I know from my readings, that often ADHD sufferers go through multiple marriages before it registers they have a problem. So I knew I had to give him a consequence: my leaving. He chose to keep drinking. I had to leave.
      A friend of mine is an alcoholic. She can drink a litre of scotch a night. She wakes up feeling perky and fine, no hangover. She says because of this lack of consequence, she continues her toxic behaviour, even though she knows deep down it’s not healthy and will kill her. It’s the same with the ADHD sufferers who are in denial. The shame of admitting the problem is too much. They must lose the relationship / marriage , and sometimes that doesn’t even change them. My ex’s denial ran too deep. he refused medication, even though he realized the stupidity of pouring alcohol into his body. He lost me, a lovely family and a beautiful home. Without active therapy and a medication program, I believe there is no hope for a relationship with someone with severe ADHD. No hope at all.

    • #48997

      To be honest, I get tired of all the excuses for bad behavior! My family has a history of ADHD, and my dad was the worst. However, he was not mean to my mom or any of us kids. Okay, it’s frustrating and sometimes it’s hard to be aware of how we are impacting ourselves and others, BUT it’s not like we’re completely oblivious!!

      When you grow up with ADD/ADHD you don’t know that it’s not “normal.” However, you DO know that being a jerk isn’t acceptable. I know this isn’t what you probably want to hear NonADDspouse, but he sounds like he has other issues besides ADHD. My brother also has it pretty badly, but he still manages to have a good relationship with his wife and kids. I don’t know your situation, but if it were me, I’d be looking for a way out of the marriage. Maybe a separation is all it would take? But, he’s being a jerk, and you don’t need to put up with it. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone who is behaving this way is to stop allowing them to do it to you.

      My heart goes out to you.

    • #50301

      Its true about them accepting it and getting the help they need. I am in counseling because if my family won’t. I will. I still would like a divorce!

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by lindyloo7. Reason: Spelling
    • #50349

      So what techniques are available that someone can use to help himself along with seeing the effect of his ADD on others? He says he wants help, but still suffers from extreme denial. I understand I cannot force anything, but there just can’t be “nothing” to do by either one of us…

    • #50374

      What I’ve always read and heard is if your spouse won’t get counseling, then go yourself. We always think we can “fix” the other person, but we can’t. The only person we can “fix” is ourselves, and sometimes that means getting out.

      I know it’s hard when you’re in the middle of it, but how long are you willing to be miserable? The sad part is when we’re in an abusive relationship, we end up participating and having our own problems. We keep making excuses, we keep hoping, and in many ways we’re in as much denial as the person making us miserable. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, we’re making ourselves miserable because we aren’t willing to face facts.

      I guess if you want to stay in this situation then you’ll have to find ways to make yourself happy. Find other interests and other friends. You are NOT going to change him. You are NOT going to get him to go to counseling. You are NOT going to get him to take medication. So what ideas do you have? What do you think someone is going to tell you that you haven’t already tried or thought of?

      It’s interesting that you’ve titled this “ADD and denial?” Then you write this: “I understand I cannot force anything, but there just can’t be “nothing” to do by either one of us…” “Either one” means YOU can do something even if he won’t. Stop asking for people for ways to “fix” him because they can’t anymore than you can. I’m sure he’s frustrated if he’s been to all those therapists and nothing has helped, but that’s his problem. Maybe leaving will give him some space and time to figure things out and maybe it won’t. At least you’d be taking some positive steps for yourself because the only one you can fix is YOU.

    • #50391

      Thank you for the posts. What I would like to know is not how to “fix” things, but rather, if it is his very disorder that keeps him from recognizing how his behaviors affect others, isn’t that a symptom in need of treatment or coping mechanisms? He is begging for help with that, but nothing is working. How do people get to that point where they overcome the denial and/or see how they affect others?

      Other people’s experiences and emotions don’t make any sense to him whatsoever. Articles, books, and therapists haven’t been successful. He is very highly intelligent, but often unable to even try what’s recommended to help because it “feels so wrong to him” (e.g., why do I need to tell you what time I’m coming home, delegate responsibilities, follow through with promises, put anything on a calendar or do anything on a calendar, listen to you, have a routine or boundaries, stop saying really insensitive/hurtful things, prioritize, discuss a budget, recognize lack of intimacy, etc. It doesn’t bother me, why does it bother you?). Although nothing has helped, every person, article, and book seems to say that these symptoms are something that can absolutely be managed. Is that just not true? Is that the missing piece here? He just won’t ever be able to manage this (and I should just walk away)?

    • #50398

      I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. My dad had ADHD, and in hindsight, it was pretty bad. It wasn’t diagnosed, but it obviously runs in our family because my brother and I have been diagnosed. My dad didn’t have very good filters or boundaries, and he could unintentionally hurt my feelings (my mom said the same thing). However, we never felt unloved or that he didn’t care or couldn’t understand why things bothered us when we pointed them out. He tended to get to places early, while my mom was the one who ran late. I still remember him sitting in the car, reading a book, waiting for my mom! He was responsible and affectionate, reliable, hard working and kind.

      He was also distracted and had trouble completing things, especially when it got to the part that wasn’t interesting for him. For instance, he liked building things from wood, but he didn’t like painting or varnishing. Sometimes his work could get a little sloppy (although he was talented) because I’m pretty sure he was getting bored and wanting to move on. He wasn’t good with a budget, but my mom was, so she took care of that part. They did a great job of saving money, paying their bills, and leaving their children a pretty nice inheritance.

      They didn’t have a lot in common. My dad was very outgoing and loved being around people. He liked working in his shop, building things, going out with friends. Unless he was exhausted, he needed to be busy. My mom enjoyed time alone, she was interested in her church, and she loved being an RN. But, they did things together, too. I remember when my brothers and I were young and my dad was always traveling for his job. He’d be gone all week, get home on Friday and almost always took my mom out for dinner that evening. They were respectful towards one another and even as they aged, they would talk about their love for each other.

      I don’t know what’s going on with your husband, but his issues are more than ADD/ADHD. I appreciate how hard you are trying, and I’m sorry if I sounded harsh. BUT, the fact is, he’s not trying at all. Okay, he’s “begging for help.” However, that means he needs to take some responsibility and make some effort. You listed all the things he doesn’t do, along with the fact that he completely dismisses your feelings. He might have some depression, but that still doesn’t allow him to treat you so poorly.

      The problem you face (I think) is enabling him. As long as you are the only one working on the relationship, he doesn’t have to change anything. You’re right, the “symptoms” can be managed up to a point. I’ve certainly tried a lot of things, and some work better than others. Some things seem to work for awhile and then I need to try something different. Sometimes I feel discouraged and depressed, but I don’t take that out on my friends and family. It’s MY job to figure out what I need to do next.

      I feel as though I’m always in a state of keeping myself balanced. It’s not horrible, but I can lose perspective at times, and feel frustrated with myself. It’s hard for me to remember that it’s temporary, and I need to pull back a little. That might mean going for walks, reading, relaxing and just giving myself time. Everything interests me, so staying focused is difficult, and I tend to be spontaneous and sometimes I forget things or even my next thought. But, I’ve learned to write things down, check my calendar, watch where the money is going, pay the bills on time. My husband does a lot of other things, and there’s no reason he should do it all. Also, he’s much more affectionate than I am. But over time, I’ve learned to give him a hug and tell him how much I love him, because I do and it’s important for him to hear it.

      I’m trying hard to “hear” what you’re saying and understand your pain. I can only go by what you’ve written. Look at your last paragraph and think about what you’d tell someone else. Suppose your very best friend came to you and told you the same things your writing about here. What would you tell her? If you were my best friend, I’d be telling you to think about leaving. You aren’t just walking away! You’re here and you’ve been all over the place trying to find ways to get through to this man and help him, but he refuses to do anything. What’s keeping you there?

    • #50913

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, AnneHW. He’s convinced that he is trying and very hard, but he’s not embracing the “try differently” approach because alternatives don’t make any sense to him. Also, how can I say he’s not trying when he does take meds and go to many appointments? How do I – or anyone – explain that “he’s not really trying at all?” I guess I can’t accept that we can’t figure this out after all we’ve been through, in addition to not having a clue how I’d survive a divorce without a support system. Realizing I maybe just should have left a long time ago is also pretty tough to swallow.

      It’s helpful to hear that your dad still made you feel loved, cared for, and that he could understand why things bothered you when pointed out. If that is possible for people to do with ADD, then I should go because I don’t experience those things at all even after all the treatment attempts. I’m just told I’m unreasonable and shouldn’t feel that way, but I thought that was an ADD symptom so I keep trying to get help. I also feel pretty guilty sometimes because I’m so upset, frustrated, and angry most/all of the time now. Who would want to work on things when we’re both behaving poorly? What a mess. This is so very hard, and I don’t feel anyone is available to help either one of us.

      Thanks again.

    • #50916

      That’s sad, NonADD. I hope that eventually you’ll find a way out, whatever that means. Part of the problem with being in a bad relationship for so long is we do tend to blame ourselves. Since we’re the ones who are being honest and trying to find a fix, we are often harder on ourselves than the person who is causing most of the trouble. Of course, we do and say things that contribute to the problem. I doubt that it’s ever completely one-sided. And then there’s the guilt and fear that really keep us from moving forward.

      This is my THIRD marriage! I was in my early 20s and I was in love. He could be nice (and that’s what kept me hanging in there), but he was also very psychologically abusive. I kept thinking he’d change somehow, but of course, he didn’t. And when the person you care about keeps telling you that you’re the problem, after awhile you believe it. Then I met a man who swept me off my feet. He seemed to be everything my husband wasn’t. Unfortunately, he turned out to be an alcoholic. It was plain as day, and I still married him!!! I hung in there out of guilt because I didn’t want to fail again. What a waste of time, but it taught me something. I finally reached a point where I was no longer willing to be unhappy and being alone was better than being in a bad relationship.

      I found a job and an apartment in the city, and that’s where I met my real husband. Has it been smooth sailing all the time? Of course not. However, it makes a huge difference when BOTH people want things to work and BOTH people make the effort. Things have only gotten better because we’ve learned how to get along, and we genuinely like and respect each other. I feel extremely fortunate, but even if he hadn’t come into my life, I would have been okay.

      I have a friend who has been unhappy with her marriage forever. I met her almost 30 years ago, and she was unhappy then! She gets upset and then feels guilty, but she’s miserable. He’s not a horrible person, but I’m sure he’s not happy either. They have nothing in common other than their two grown children (who are messed up in their own ways now). She has talked about leaving him, and even her therapist asked her why she stays. I think people reach a point where they would rather live in the misery they know than take a chance on the happiness they aren’t certain is possible. I think people get worn down and lose their sense of self. They no longer feel lovable because if their partner hardly cares for them, why would anyone else?

      If you can’t get yourself to leave, can you find other interests? Can you get involved with a group, volunteer, do something that gives you some self satisfaction? You sound like you’ve lost touch with who you are and why others do like you. I know you don’t feel like anyone is available to help, but you have to reach out (like you are here). I know it can be difficult to find therapy because it’s hard for me just getting help with ADD. Sometimes being around others who enjoy our company makes us realize there’s more to life than an unhappy marriage. Sometimes we connect with a friend who gives us some support and helps us see our potential.

      When you think about it, it’s such a waste to live an unhappy life. I don’t know if you have children, but you don’t mention any, so I’m guessing not. But if you did/do, would you want your daughter living the way you are? I’m betting not. Of course, I know you must be depressed, and that makes everything difficult. I wish I could help you, but you have to figure out how to help yourself. Try to find something else you can focus on, even if it’s just for a short time. Can you get away for a few days? Stay at a hotel and get out to do some sightseeing? Try to find a way to break the pattern and give yourself some room to really think things through. Talk to your regular doctor or maybe a minister. Find a support group. I would do anything to get my life back if I was in your situation. I believe you can do it, but you have to believe it, too.

      I wish you the best! Anne

    • #50931
      laura creedle

      I’m sure this very frustrating for you and you certainly care very deeply for your husband, which means you are not a monster. But I don’t know that you fully appreciate his situation. You say that your husband is in an extreme case of denial, and yet, he’s pursued coaches and therapists and psychiatrists. This suggests that he does want help. And sure, he forgets to do his homework, because he is ADHD. Forgetting to do your homework is the hallmark of ADHD. Lying about your homework is what ADHD people learn at school. It’s not the best adult behavior, but it is a learned response from years of being criticized for having the best homework intentions in the world, and then forgetting.

      I imagine your husband feels criticized by you. It’s hard to make changes in your life and behavior when you feel criticized for things that are out of your control. You feel like you are trying to help him, but your best efforts are being ignored and undervalued. It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who messes up on the basics of just getting through the day, and refuses all your help. But it’s also hard to be in a relationship where you feel like everything you do is wrong.

      He may be able to accept your help with his ADHD symptoms eventually, but right now you need to repair the damage to your relationship. The damage is not your fault, and it’s not his fault– it’s situational. You can blame his ADHD for the damage to your relationship, but that would be like blaming cancer. It’s out of his control. It’s also out of yours. Even if he followed all therapeutic advice, and followed his drug regime, there would still be moments where his ADHD would rear it’s ugly head.

      What you both need is a safe way for each of you to express your frustrations and concerns. You both need to be understood and heard. Couples therapy would do you both a world of good.

    • #50957

      I’m sorry, but as I read this, I’ll agree with some of it. But I think a lot of it applies to children. Maybe some people forget to do their “homework,” but this is not hallmark ADHD in adults. You don’t completely forget about doing important things.

      Okay, he’s pursued coaches, psychiatrists, whatever. But it sounds to me like he is taking no responsibility for his part in this. ADHD/ADD does not turn someone into a helpless zombie. It can certainly be a struggle, and getting the right help can be frustrating, but it’s not so debilitating that he is unable to help himself. This isn’t schizophrenia.

      I’m sorry, but this actually gets me upset because NonADD, your husband is being a jerk!! If you can get him into couple’s counseling, let me know, because I’m betting he won’t go. That is why I keep telling you to move on or find a way to make yourself happy.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by AnneHW.
    • #50959

      Laura, yes, you’re correct that he does want help. I do believe that. But I agree with AnneHW that he’s not taking responsibility for his part, even though he is convinced he does, which is why I think plain denial and/or some shame are the underlying problems. He doesn’t forget to do his homework (quite the opposite when it comes to school/work), he claims to not understand it and therefore cannot do it from his perspective. He doesn’t see how the homework will help. For example, a lack of routine/ consistency/follow-through can be addressed with a calendar and structured routine that works for both of us, plus some protected alone time. He is super intelligent, but can’t create or follow a calendar so he dismisses the suggestion entirely. Or, he will try once, fail, give up completely, make excuses for why the suggestion would never work, or blame me (he doesn’t need a routine so why do I, I shouldn’t be bothered by a lack of routine, I just don’t like his personality, etc.).

      He definitely feels criticized and controlled as you say, but he’s also incredibly sensitive so nearly everything I say is misinterpreted or heard negatively and he responds defensively, if he doesn’t cut me off to talk about something totally unrelated.

      We just started couples therapy (for the third time), but he’s already not doing the homework and says he doesn’t understand it, and that my behavior is keeping him from doing anything… I’m considering my options carefully.

    • #51115

      First of:
      I am sorry, dear Anne,but among all your wonderfuly empathic writing and sensitive advise, this one statement of yours just makes the hair in the back of my neck stand up straight…

      With ADHD,you can definately completely forget even important things and forgetfulness actually is one of the primary symptoms of ADHD inattentive type.
      Certainly, the Big Ones with regards to fotgetfulness are more rare than ye olde “Last week,I actually found my Smartphone in the fridge after putting groceries away“…but it does happen.

      Bezüglich der Symptomatik des Herren der Schöpfung:
      Für mich klingt das deutlich nach einer Person mit einer Autismus-Spektrum-Störung im sog. “Gott-Modus“

      Thats all, folks!!

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by A-Hörnchen.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by A-Hörnchen.
      • #51125

        A-Horchen, I probably didn’t word it very well. Of course, we forget things! I do it all the time, and it’s frustrating. But what you’re talking about is typical ADD/ADHD behavior. Way too often I’ve been searching for my car keys at the last minute, when I need to be somewhere. I’ve even put ice cream in the refrigerator instead of the freezer! However, if I have something important that needs to get done, I do not completely forget about it, most of the time. It can happen, but that usually has more to do with procrastination or something else important happening at the same time.

        And I love what Andrew has said. It makes a lot of sense, and I think the questions he raises are very helpful. (Are you a marriage counselor?) I’m sorry about your marriage because I know how destructive ADHD can be, especially when you have no idea as to why life is so difficult for you compared to others. Thanks for commenting; I think you said it better than any of us.

    • #51119

      Wow, this situation sounds tough. It sounds like you have struggled mightily to improve the relationship. Also, that he has at least tried several things. Sounds like you both are terribly frustrated. My heart goes out.

      I’m wondering what the consequences are to his ADHD. To him and to you. It sounds like there are lots of consequences but they are different for both of you. If he acted differently — coped better with his ADHD — how would life be different? For him and you? How would it be better and how would it feel? It seems that a big part of the problem is that he does not see how life might change. Does he want to change? If he does, what are his ideas on how that might happen? Do the two of you actually want something similar enough to pursue as a couple? Or is there no real common intention? Is there a positive vision that he can buy into and agree to pursue as best he can in a partnership? If not, then it seems like both of you could actually feel ok about having done your best up to this point and moving on.I don’t doubt that he’s doing the best he can. Same with you.

      I should say that I am a man with ADHD. I was married for almost twenty years. I had a wonderful wife and I have two incredible children. But I no longer have a family. A lot of that was due to having undiagnosed ADHD for most of my marriage — so many destructive patterns became entrenched. But there was another factor I would say. In the past, for me to change, compared to non-ADHD people, the consequences of my actions had to be severe. Sometimes, I had a hard time knowing the true value things and only realized how I really felt when it was too late. If there is a way of communicating the value of your life together, the value of your relationship, getting him to see that, maybe that is part of the answer. Maybe he can’t see it unless the threat of losing it is very real. I don’t know. I’d have to know a lot more about you to know what else to say. These are just reactions and thoughts that came up as I read your story and the other commentary. I pray that both you and your husband find some relief and some way out of the frustration you are in. Andrew

    • #51127

      OMG, this whole thread was hard to read. He’s stuck and doesn’t know why, and you are plain exhausted of all this trying. As an ADHD person, with ADHD spouse of 20 years, kid, and family members, I will tell you that there is something more here than plain ADHD. Have you guys ruled out depression? Your husband doesn’t see himself doing much of anything or taking any initiative, even though he sees a problem. Been there, done that, was not ADHD-related.

      The other place to look for clues are to look at his family patterns, and that’s a good idea even when ADHD is not involved, as expectations and values are shaped in the family environment. How do his parents interact? Is only one of them the project instigator or the primary mover in the household, with the other partner being passive? Did the parents jump in to reassure or solve their son’s problems before he realized he could do something about them, thus creating a feeling of learned helplessness in him? How are his executive skills, and what is he lacking? (Found a questionnaire here: These family-shaped patterns are sometimes the hardest to unravel and accept, because it feels disloyal. So this may not take him anywhere, but it could help you decide your next course of action.

      I think it’s truly amazing that you still want to help, after all that. But in the midst of all this helping, do not forget that your happiness matters. If you do not fill your own well, you’ll have nothing to give to others.

    • #51130

      Thanks for the additional comments. Seeing that people with ADHD can be sympathetic and thoughtful via their comments is really making me think something is very wrong.

      My leaving has been a major threat to him in the past, but I haven’t been able to follow through (at first b/c I couldn’t accept it all, then financial concerns, now just exhaustion and concern I’ll lose my job if I have to take time to move). I think he’s also – perhaps unintentionally – been manipulative so I don’t leave by threatening with financial struggles and trying to convince me it’s all my fault. Now when we fight badly, he wants to leave too, but that changes quickly and he doesn’t go either. We’re both stuck.

      His family has not set any kind of good example, or ever recognized any ADD symptoms in him (or themselves).

      He doesn’t “forget” to do the therapy homework, he just doesn’t understand it and refuses to try or says he did but it didn’t work (and he’s truly convinced of this). He completely denies any effect of his behaviors and blames others (mostly me). To him, it seems like I’m the only one with a problem. He doesn’t get close enough to anyone for them to see any of this. To him, it feels like I’m always trying to blame him and put everything on him because I often respond by talking about the neglected ADD symptoms. I’ve learned that he’s both incredibly stubborn and incredibly patient and flexible. The extremes can be maddening for me at times.

      He does fine at work – meets deadlines, initiates things – but has total control. He won’t do any of that at home though. He says that if he can’t have 100% control he wants 0% so working together isn’t an option, which is why I get stuck doing everything. I can’t even get him to put vacation time on the calendar. Forget housework or chores or any kind of regular routine/sanity. Every day is like starting over.

      Nothing he wants to do has anything to do with me, which is opposite of when we first met. He says that marriage is just an adventure and he wants to do what he wants and I just come along. He’ll say he wants a family, but doesn’t seem to be willing to do any of the work or preparation to make that happen. I try to talk about upcoming challenges I anticipate as life gets complicated (aging parents etc.) so we can address and not be overwhelmed by them, but until they actually happen, he won’t even acknowledge the possibility so we just live by “putting out fires” and barely surviving. It feels like he just wants to do whatever his ADD mind is into at the moment and ignore everything else including me.

      If this is more than ADD, I should definitely check out. I feel so cheated between how he treated me at the beginning compared to now, and people’s comments are just making me think I’m a fool to think anything will improve. He says he wants to change, but I don’t see any actions to support it. He says he wants what I want, but does nothing to make it happen.

      We’ll see how couples therapy goes this week. We have someone who at least understands ADD now, but I think I may have had enough.

      PS – it should be a crime to try and treat ADHD without proper training and experience – those professionals have done a lot of damage to both of us.

      • #51174
        Laura C.

        Non ADD spouse, your follow-up letter was very interesting and sad. It seems that your husband has learned to make accommodations for himself– as long as it’s in the workplace. So he is capable of dealing with his neurological-difference positively. What was telling about your response was you assertion that your husband thought marriage would be an exciting adventure. It is, but it’s also hard work. As an ADHD person, I struggled with feeling like the adventure had ended in the early years of my marriage. I tend to crave excitement– it’s hard wired in some of us. But over the years I came to realize that while I craved the excitement of the new, I also needed and valued the stability of my relationship with my husband. I had come to rely on his compassion and his understanding. If I’d thrown that over for something new, I probably just go looking for the same thing in my next relationship. We did couples therapy and I did individual therapy, but I had to come to this understanding on my own. NO one can force you to see the truth of your own life.

        We tend to find partners who embody what we want in ourselves. Chance are, your husband admired your organizational skills and stability. He probably wanted to be more like you, but of course, now he misses the thrill of adventure. What did you want from him? Did he represent impulsive adventure and fun? And what do you want now? You can’t change your husband. All you can do is think about what you want for your own future. Right now you are focused on your husband and the relationship. Perhaps it is time to think about you. If you had some hidden lust for adventure, or a new creative pursuit that has been buried under all this concern for your husband, the time to grab hold of it is now.

    • #51137

      Andrew : your post was thoughtful and enlightening to read. I just ended a relationship with a ADHD man who suffered from addictions . He also could not foresee consequence (ie driving drunk, texting while driving ). He is 47, divorced white male . Undiagnosed , untreated and won’t take medication . The breakup has been hard on me ….and I’m wondering if after realizing the consequence of what you lost did you seek treatment ? Are you better now?

    • #51140

      This just breaks my heart, but as you can see, most of us think he has other issues. In one of my recent newsletters from ADDitude, there was something about combined symptoms, including depression.

      Yes, he has been very manipulative, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that we are all on our best behavior in the beginning. And, there were probably signs you missed or ignored, which is how most of us get into these situations. However, his absolute unwillingness to make an effort in the relationship is not a good sign. Both of my ex husbands could be very nice when they wanted. Amazing how they could pull that out of the bag when it was convenient. I’d even start to get hopeful. Then something would happen, and it was always my fault. He might get better with some counseling, but it’s going to take a lot of effort and time, if he’ll even do it at all.

      Thank God, you don’t have children. Whatever you do, don’t get pregnant because if you think things are complicated now! It’s difficult and scary trying to leave a bad marriage. We all spend time going through the reasons we can’t, and it’s understandable. But, you’re young! Don’t waste too much time or give up and stay in a situation that is unhealthy. Blaming yourself isn’t going to change anything either. Everything I read says you’re miserable and you want out. It sounds like you’ve put in a lot of effort, while he tries once and when he doesn’t get immediate results, gives up. You are a lot stronger than you think. I could be wrong, but it wouldn’t surprise me if part of your uncertainty has to do with whatever it is he’s telling you about yourself.

    • #51144

      Your last post brought a shivery feeling down my spine and some flashbacks of a (now divorced) couple of my acquaintance where no ADHD was involved, and that included this “total control or none” demands and the friends of the husband feeling that the wife somehow had unreasonable demands, etc. etc. (We had a front row to all the drama so we were hard to convince, and we are still friend with the wife.) When the wife was serious about leaving, he agreed to a child, and then things really went crazy, as children and a desire for control do not mix. I think you may want to read this link of symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder in adults:

      Interestingly enough, I do not know any ADHD person that believes they can have 100% control of their life and surroundings, given the inattention issues that lead to strange things happening around them all the time.

    • #51146

      For those that may not click on the link in my post above and do not see how Reactive Attachment Disorder can relate to ADHD, here is one of the symptoms:
      “They tend to have trouble figuring out solutions to issues. They are confused about life and appear puzzled. This causes trouble with concentration, problems with attention, and inability to complete activities.”

      • #51172

        I read your link, and I thought it was very interesting. A lot of it sounds like his behavior.

      • #51176

        Unfortunately, it does sound like it, and if that’s what it is it’s a nearly impossible thing to deal with. Love at one moment, a pushing away at another moment, control 100% percent of the time — really messes with one’s head and undermines confidence. The guy we knew wasn’t “a bad person”, he just had an insulating layer of unhappiness between his rational mind and his feelings, and as a result he seemed wholly unaware of his needs and wants, and was also unable to trust that others have his best interests in mind. I don’t know if the story I know has a happy ending for the guy — as far as I know his unhappiness has only deepened. His former wife, however, who originally only pushed through for the sake of the child (there was some financial control here also), is very happy now. She works part time and is growing her own business the rest of the time, and her confidence issues are a thing of the past.

        Anyhow, I’m not a psychologist, just a dedicated people observer (trying to make up for my ADD which leaves me undiplomatic at the best of times). So there is still hope I am wrong. NonADDSpouse, I want you to know that you are not a fool for wanting to taking care of what you’ve got, no matter what has happened or will happen. You are a person with a deep capacity for love, which is an amazing thing.

    • #81345

      How are you doing now? What was the outcome?

      In retrospect, I think ADD and denial are totally separate issues, although they both are linked to shame and self-image.
      Lots of people with ADD have totally erroneous beliefs about self-control — thinking they can control behaviors that they can’t control.
      Meanwhile, the shame and self-esteem problems trigger various coping mechanisms such as denial, which
      creates new problems beyond the ADD itself. The problematic coping mechanisms aren’t beyond their control, but they
      can’t afford to relinquish denial and the comfort it provides, until they correct erroneous beliefs about what to expect of themselves,
      and until they have a more realistic sense of themselves being valuable for other (more appropriate) reasons, like loving family.

      Best wishes.

    • #81700

      After a really horrible few months and near divorce again, we went to a new coach and two new expert therapists (like $600/hour out of pocket experts). They said that although he may have ADD, the challenges and lack of progress are likely a result of ASD not ADD (symptoms can be similar to ADD and misdiagnosed, or ADD is in addition to the undiagnosed ASD). All of our previous efforts took the wrong approach and did more damage than good, to both of us.

      For now, we’re giving up on “experts,” “professionals,” and “support groups” and trying to figure this out for ourselves with our own schedule and academic reading.
      The number of people who claim to be experts and really don’t know what they are doing is just terrifying.

    • #81722

      I think the whole thing is totally up to you. Sorry you feel you wasted money, but I guessing diagnosting any “mental health” issues is probably difficult. Even when you know it’s ADHD, there’s no guarantee things will get better unless the person who has it is willing to take responsibility and work on it.

    • #81723

      Please do not rule out that you, your spouse or your child may be suffering from the MTHFR gene mutation. (You didn’t list any of the “symptoms” your spouse has been experiencing.)

      Here is my (abbreviated) story. At the end I provide additional resource information, some with links.

      First, I state I’m not a doctor, I don’t work for one, and I’m not selling anything. I suffered for literally years. I recently found about this mutation following decades of my own depression that would evolve from depressive episodes that would last days, weeks, then eventually cause me to rage on a regular basis. For years, I had been in and out of therapy as time and money allowed. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, etc. Doctors didn’t even have that term yet! I had been on so many anti-depressants, beginning at the age of 22, I felt like an anti-depressant poster child (now age 62). Some would work for a while, and then I would need to increase the dosage, or change the drug. Some, the side effects were not tolerable. Over the years, I would go through several doctors and specialists, never determining what was wrong with me.

      In 2016 I had reached a turning point, I was severely depressed, I was loosing my teeth and had terrible gum disease issues; I would have regular rages whenever I got upset, and I was starting to have regular suicidal thoughts. I finally went to a naturopathic doctor who determined my issue within a month. Through a simple saliva [or blood] test, it was determined that I have the Methyl-B Mutation (MTHFR gene mutation). There are many different variations of the MTHFR depending on how it has been passed down from the parents. Several symptoms resulting from the mutation mirror other medical and mental issues such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, depression, autism, etc., just to name a few. The mutation lays dormant and can be brought on by some sort of trauma, stress and/or diet.

      In layman’s terms, those of us with a MTHFR gene mutation have a highly reduced ability to convert folic acid or even folate into a usable form. Research estimates that as much as half of the population may have an MTHFR gene mutation. I don’t “methylate” (or I can easily over methylate) with B vitamins. I have to be very careful to avoid foods with synthetic folate or folic acid in my diet. (I found that if I eat anything with 20% or more folic acid [per serving] this is when I will experience rages and can go into days of depression). Several symptoms resulting from the mutation mirror other medical and mental issues such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, depression, autism, etc. I started doing as much research as I could online and discovered that 30% or more of the population has this mutation (and increasing) and they don’t know it. It can lay dormant and stress as well as diet will cause it to flare up. A great resource I found online is Dr. Ben Lynch who states: “…I believe the MTHFR gene mutation is a highly significant public health problem that is completely ignored. Yet, millions are suffering from pulmonary embolisms, addictions, fibromyalgia, miscarriages, schizophrenia, severe depression, cancer and autism to name a few…:

      Doctor Lynch (who also has the MTHFR) was my go to resource when I first started researching this issue, and I have personally chosen to be an advocate for him to get the word out to as many individuals as I can about the MTHFR Mutation.

      You owe it to yourself, your spouse or your child to not just accept the norm of being diagnosed with some sort of “DD” and prescribed addictive prescription drugs. Trust me; internally, those who suffer are BEGGING for a better answer. And if it’s not the MTHFR, then at least you know it for a fact, and you also know that you are doing EVERYTHING you can to help you or your loved one.

      Additionally, do not rule out possible head trauma. You don’t have to “pass out” with a full concussion to have head trauma. I found out that I also had a total of three head traumas from the time I was 22 (when my depression and anti-depressant use started — head injury due to earthquake), as well as two minor auto accidents with whip-lash. (This is why I still had rages even as I was working on the MTHFR mutation with my doctor.)

      Basically, I got the “double whammy”. Just this past November, I completed a 6 week Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy, which is totally non-invasive. (See links below.) My depression has significantly lifted and I have follow up weekly counseling to deal with the strong negative habits I’ve developed over the years.

      I cannot express enough how much better I am feeling and doing! I have my life back. I continue to work with my Naturopathic doctor to keep my mutation in check by balancing my system with natural supplements, NO DRUGS!

      I provide this as information only – my PSA!

      Good Mental Health!


      The best source I found online is, Dr. Ben Lynch at
      His website is full of information and resources to include a step by step plan beginning with the DNA test to determine if you have a MTHFR mutation and what type you may have.

      He himself has the MTHFR and has been providing training to doctors all over the U.S. He will also have available on his website a search for doctors in your area that have taken his courses. Dr. Lynch has a plethora of information and other resources on his site as well. He is where I began my research and I continue to review his site for updates.

      Possible Head Trauma:
      Concurring Concussion – Healing TBI Symptoms with Neurofeedback and Without Drugs
      This is a wonderful (and easy to comprehend) book that describes “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The information provided on injuries in history, from Henry VIII to Elvis Presley, I found very, very interesting!

      Synopsis: “This lively, well-researched, and hopeful book is an excellent primer for anyone dealing with TBI and its aftermath, from victims to caretakers. It is clearly written and illustrated for the average reader, but contains information that may be new to many healthcare professionals puzzled by odd and unresponsive symptoms and the realization that time alone does not heal the brain. Conquering Concussion by Mary Lee Esty, Ph.D., and C. M. Shifflett presents history, new research, treatments, and 20 years of clinical case histories. These are real stories about real people struggling with post-concussion symptoms: terrible fatigue, headache and body pain, emotional swings, mental fog, insomnia, weight gain and balance problems. It shows how TBI symptoms overlap with other diagnoses such as ADHD and depression, and reveals the link with PTSD. It features neurotherapy, but presents additional therapies that can aid recovery. Topics include: Head injuries in history, from Henry VIII to Elvis Presley. What happens in concussion, the many symptoms that may appear, and problems with standard testing and treatments. The origins, supporting research, and results of neurofeedback. Detailed case histories of children, adults, and soldiers with memory problems, severe head pain, insomnia, ADHD and PTSD. Medical issues which may need attention before symptoms of concussion can heal. The rest of the story: What happened to people in this book who never expected to work or function normally ever again? How they regained their skills, jobs, families and lives?”`

      Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

      For Information purposes:

      I utilized Neuroasis here in Tucson for my TMS treatments. They provide a free 90-minute consolation with their onsite psychiatrist.


    • #99000

      I know this all too well experienced my ex walking out on me and doing extensive mental damage, unknown to me he was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and adult but never got treatment, we went to six therapists all not experienced with ADHD and nothing helped and he decided to walk out and then come back to walk out and file for divorce and his behaviors in the last two years and half have been terrible – drug use, prostitutes – and still even today blames me for the marriage falling apart – I found out right at the end of the ADHD and did whatever I could and I highly recommend checking out Melissa Orlov and Dr. Hallowell’s book – The ADHD Effect on Marriage : Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov, I actually spent the money for my ex to meet Dr. Hallowell in NYC and it was costly and Dr. Hallowell brought up that many therapists are untrained to ADHD and won’t be able to help those who suffer from it if it’s not diagnosed or addressed, also both in the relationship would require therapy – not just the one diagnosed. I also found out I had some characteristics myself and went for an evaluation and got diagnosed with inattentive ADHD which I immediately seeked treatment and medication and on my own journey – he keeps being in denial and does whatever it takes to hurt me even up to today where he wrote me an email noting he went to see a specialist in his area, he lives a hour away and that they told him he was fine and that his childhood diagnosis was a mistake likely and that the marriage ended because it was unhealthy because I asked him to pick up his clothes or clean up after himself…yeah. I literally got that email today. It’s heartbreaking because I love him and did everything I could for him but I can’t deal with this anymore, I have a mother with dementia and a home that is falling apart and I also didn’t ask for anything in the divorce because he claimed he was broke but it cost me thousands in lawyer fees because he stood me up in court to get a cheap and easy divorce – so much more to it all but it’s not worth it. I say that the person needs to value and love themselves enough to want help, it’s just like an addict. My ex is used to replacing people – especially women – in their lives that it’s become second nature. He enjoys drama and disruption it seems so it’s just not good to be around someone so toxic and unacceptable for their behaviors. His friends don’t experience what I did and I got insulted by many when I would call him out on his actions – with my own ADHD my general issues are time management and trying to juggle so many things at once and clearly financial since I can’t make ends meet now alone but he’s just way on another planet with what he’s said and done that I can’t even compare myself, he loved the fact that I shared my own diagnosis as if he was validated but actually I owned it and told him I was seeking treatment right away thinking it would set an example but all it did was allow him to broadcast – see, there’s something wrong with HER, I told you… so the reality is if the person is willing you can make it work and I do recommend checking out Melissa Orlov’s website and forum with Dr. Hallowell and she has a few programs as well – that book opened the door to so much for me that made so much sense and it’s sad when people are so unwilling to just try to see if there is another solution. I also say incorporating a low carb/paleo or keto diet because sugar can affect ADHD as well as adding in exercise, yoga, meditation and adjusting your sleep patterns will help out a lot

    • #99128

      It seems like you’ve been let down by the professionals early on, this may have caused your spouse to lose confidence.
      Anyway, my partner is undiagnosed but obviously ADHD. My journey in educating him and eventually getting him (and our family) diagnosed, helped and treated began 3 weeks ago.
      It’s going slowly but I’d say in the right direction.
      I bought a book called “so I’m not lazy, crazy or mad” and I gave it to him. I said something simple like- “look babe, this book is about you! I’ve read it and I’m sorry I keep shouting at you for not putting the trash out” then I gave him a hug and left it on the table.
      Then I bought a book, “smartest boy in the math class” when he put our son to bed on the weekend I produced it and it was the bedtime story.
      Now, I say things like -“babe, you’ve zoned out on me again!” And I laugh.
      Our life has become easier because I understand.

      I gave him a storage box with a lid for his cycling clothes and he didn’t say anything but I know he’s happy now it’s organised. At least he won’t accuse me of hiding it anymore.

      I find articles online describing his struggle, screen shot them and email to him. I’m doing all the work, our trash is still stock piled and attracting rats but I’ve taken action.

      I cannot change him but I can change myself. He hates me a little less now I’m more understanding.

    • #101574

      I wish my partner was like this. Instead she left me. I wasn’t in denial but I was scared to talk to her about it because I feared she’d leave. She left anyway.

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