Am I being an A$$?

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    • #47288

      I need advice. My husband was diagnosed several years ago with ADD. We have gone 15 years now with him being untreated fully. Have tried numerous meds, books, support groups, forums and he is still struggling daily with this. My question I have had for several years is this… He is hyper focused on the things he loves of course. Mainly video games. he has the main system, his cell phone and a hand held game system. He takes his cell and his hand held system with him whenever we go out…even in the bathroom. Over time he has accepted that the main gaming system is not to be played until the weekend/when he has accomplished his daily tasks. However, he is now constantly on his phone or on the hand held device. He does not drink excessively, smoke, go out with the boys, or have any kind of extra curricular activities other than his love of video games. I want to know if I am being unreasonable by telling him the do as he does with the main system with his other two devices? I feel like having these away for a while will get him back on track with focusing on the importance of his daily tasks. I feel guilty enough having to set these boundaries as it is, but things are not improving and my anger and frustration is about to burst

    • #47291


      Your husband here.
      Well, not literally. I am a husband to someone else, but share some characteristics of your husband. I too have ADHD diagnosis, maybe a bit different from your husband’s.
      First let me comment briefly a gap between the address and the message of your question.
      From what I can read in your message I could never say you are an A$$. You support him and cope with him. He can be eternally grateful for this. And should be.
      ADHD men can be easily tagged as lazy, weak, drunk a$$holes, as less men, as less people and abandoned in their misery as worthless. Therefore as long as you stay and cope with him, you cannot be an a$$.
      There is one thing which came into my focus about his “love of video games” and you and he should maybe think about. He is a man. And many men will sometimes in their lives have an issue with dopamine levels. Some of us more, some less. Some for a longer time, some for shorter. But this comes almost by design of males. It is just like many women have issues with serotonin. And dopamine issues can be treated with novelties which are delivered by achieved levels, badges, wins in video games. Videogame self-treatment is maybe even the least harmful one. Self treatment with alcohol could be much more dangerous. Or novelty seeking could be way more destructive if he would flirt with other women.
      Restraining him from handhelds is maybe not optimal, but it is ok if he see it as HIS goal. You should not push this on him.
      If he see it as a way to make him better functioning, it could be very good. It could also be very good for his self esteem if he see something as promising idea as something what would make him a better functioning men, a better person, then work on this (with your support) and then win some wins on this project.
      I experienced something like this with morning routines years ago when I had no idea yet that ADHD is my problem. My mornings before were pure confusion and procrastinating until the “house was on fire” and all I was able to do was throw something on me and in me and escape from home for job or whatever. Then I realized this is no way to start a day. I made a list of all things I have to do before I leave. Then I measure time required for each of them. I observed what was the optimal sequence for all of them. And then I tried for a few days and failed. Then again and again and again… And after a few years of ups and downs I have a firm routine which makes me feel good about myself. I to can accomplish something what looks like natural for my wife and many others.
      Wish you both all the best.

    • #47303
      Penny Williams

      It’s important to realize that the ADHD brain is motivated by interest and urgency, and not motivated by importance like a neurotypical brain is. So, that helps to make sense of the fact that he can hyperfocus on gaming. What @Robert said about “achieved levels, badges, wins in video games” is spot on too.

      Secrets of Your ADHD Brain

      It’s completely reasonable to create daily routines, and then discuss how neither of you should do your “fun things” until the daily routine is complete. It can’t be your rule and it can’t feel parental, so be careful of that.

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

    • #47321

      I could have written the same post as you. It has been impossible for me to find the line between partnering with my spouse and mothering him. I understand why he does what what he does. I have 2 kids with adhd as well. It doesn’t make it easy to accept my husband’s behavior and not build bitterness. Right or not, I decided I wasn’t not his mother. Of I want something done, I’ll do it myself. He will suffer the consequences of his actions. However, it leaves me exhausted and bitter. I have my husband and both kids dependent on me to meet their needs, pick up all the slack… He decides to spend all his time off work playing video games instead of interacting with his family, and when he does interact, he’s snappy and grumpy. He is the one who ends up alienated from his children. Everything still affects me. The kids never go to him for comfort or their needs. But, I have no control of his actions. I also feel like “I’m going to burst”. What is a reasonable in a spouse role vs. parent/child?

      • #47715

        Having to deal with your ADD husband is hard enough I know, but to add children ontop of it must be very very difficult. I know the anger and frustration you have. I can’t tell you what to do as I don’t even have a grip on my marriage and this disorder.
        I am here for you if you need to vent. It is really comforting to know that i may have no friends to talk to, but I can come to this forum and write my frustrations out to some people who do get it.

      • #50670

        I feel your pain SrH and Mjordan39.. its really hard and ‘groundhog day’ is a great adjective!
        We even decided to have two homes, between a highly anxious/adhd/dyslexic 15 year old girl, and a husband who just feels that he is normal, and everyone else doesn’t get him, and a younger teen girl who doesn’t need to always be in the middle of those two…it was the best scenario we could work out. Life has been better without the 3rd child around, but .. its also now completely hard for me.. i know prior i did it all anyway, but now there isn’t even a warm body to tag team!. Though the good outweighs the bad, as the episodes of fighting and anger are less. What is key, is that I have to stay healthy, well rested and mentally strong. Neither of them will take medication, my daughter will not swallow pills, and he doesn’t think he needs to take anything, as all is fine now that he lives alone! It does pull at heartstrings, as i really wanted my family all together, but people need to realize that living with ADHD family is different, the same expectations society and even ‘healthy relationship thinkers’ have cannot be put against and ADHD family. WE need to stay strong in knowing, that there is love and connection, and maybe just maybe, after the child turns 25ish.. we can have some sense of ‘normal’ family life back, if not, at least some alone time and peace for ourselves.
        I am glad i found this group.. are there any more formal chat groups for parents/moms of kids/spouses with ADHD??
        For me its been almost a 15 year work effort.

    • #47714

      Thank you all for your input.
      Its been a rough week for us and his disorder. I lost it really bad today and left cause I’m just very tired of the “groundhog day” effect this disorder has on us. Same fight, same issues for the last 15 years. It can sometimes just be too much after trying to help him all the time.
      Anyways, it’s a daily struggle still, but I am hoping new meds and a new counsellor will help us deal with this disorder more successfully.

    • #49654

      Hi, I married a young lady 25 years old with a child, after the marriage due to her abnormal behavior I found that she’s been diagnosed with ADHD the same goes with her child too. Also, after quite short time I discovered that she’s been through a lot in her life such as having random multiple relationships, alcoholic and drugs abuse, and when I faced her with that, she admitted by putting her excuse on her ADHD diagnose that’s leading her to feel stress and feeling depressed all the time, I forgave her since she’s promised to take further action toward to end up her previous relationships and start new life with me.
      Now almost every day we have a new problem on trivial things, and whenever we come to argue, I find her yelling, screaming, even more than that by approaching me physically. I’m trying to understand her but every time I fail because of insisting of kicking me and my stuff in the street, which leading me to stay away from her, now I’m out of home for more than 20 days, last time she’s dropped me to some place to stay in, even she doesn’t care about my situation.
      Despite what she’s doing with me but I feel that she loves me, and it’s out of her control as she saying.
      That’s what’s happening with me, and I simply feel that this relationship is gonna be ended very soon and we are filing for dissolution this week.
      She’s been prescribed some medication to help her to focus and help her to get rid of the stress and the depression but I don’t think that’s gonna help.
      I love her and willing to continue with her but I’m so afraid that our life will get more worst, especially she’s wanting to make a baby, though she’s already a mother.
      I really don’t know what to do, my life is simply like the hell if anyone could please advise me what I should do. let go and move on or give her another chance!
      Your help is highly appreciated.

    • #50350

      With so many people so frustrated and feeling the “groundhog day” effect (that explains things perfectly @SrH), where are the successful resources and support groups? Why is it so hard to find them, even for people who are fortunate to have resources available to use them? Who is out there who can help because this feels so hopeless so often!!

    • #50617

      I’ve often felt resentment for being put in a position to “mother” my husband. I try hard not to because it’s not the relationship I want with him and I believe it makes him feel emasculated. It’s hard. I also have a 10 year old with ADHD. Lately I’ve started to work on establishing planning habits and routines with her. I’ve created a Sunday night family planning session where all of us, including my husband, sit down with our planners and phones to discuss our goals and plans for the week. I’ve been working on being more structured in my own routines and am trying to lead by example. I encourage my husband to share with my daughter the lessons he’s learned – what works for him, what doesn’t. I hope by mentoring her through this he’ll feel encouraged and empowered. And maybe more likely to lead by example himself. Wish me luck.

    • #50673

      So, about me. I’m a 50 year old psychologist who never realized he met criteria for AD/HD until my two sons were diagnosed. Lots to unpack and interpret there, but I tell people that I don’t live in your head or your house so I can’t tell you what is “right” or what will work in your situation.

      However, generally speaking I would guess you want to be a wife and not a mother. Being in a position where you’re nagging at him or setting limits pushes you toward mommy world and away from wifey world. I would guess that your husband would be more satisfied with a wife, as well.

      I have been someone totally addicted to video games. Again, lots to unpack there but I think there are a few main issues to think about.
      1. There is a line between hobby and addiction. It is a line in the sand but its in danger of being crossed when it becomes dysfunctional.
      2. Is it a social outlet for him? My youngest son socializes frequently through video games. He will play with 4-6 friends and the game is simply the club they hang out at. I wouldn’t want to take that away from him.
      3. We have had a rule forever in our house – work before play.
      4. Discuss ground rules – no cell phones during meals, conversations, etc. Set definite times for togetherness, family time, etc. where electronic media isn’t allowed. Maybe, also have protected play time for him so that he knows he won’t be disturbed during those times.
      5. I don’t get the sense that you want to, but you can’t take away all sources of fun. As you’ve experienced, cutting down on the console resulted in increased use of other games. If he’s going to reduce overall usage, what can he replace it with that will be satisfying?
      6. Similarly, is it a stress reducer for him? Does he have other methods to go to, instead?
      7. You can’t make people do anything but you can help them if they want to do something else. It took me a while but I realized that I could spend my time playing or I could spend it on other valuable interests, but I really didn’t have time for both. I don’t know how old you folks are, but at 50 you become increasingly aware of how little time you’ve actually got to do things. The time I was spending playing became too valuable to me to spend that way. Maybe, if I won the lottery and spent all day in my pajamas I would then be able to afford to play games more, but the reality is that I got to the point where I felt like I just couldn’t afford to take that time away from other activities. It makes me a bit sad, at times, but it is the right choice for me. How does anyone feel when they have to give up time doing something they love?
      8. Think about professional help. Perhaps, a bit biased here but is there the possibility that he, you, or both have a diagnosable condition that underlies some of the issues. Psychologists, counselors, pastors, good friends, family may be able to offer some perspective and help that is missing within the family system you’ve got.

      Lots of issues to explore there. I hope that helped a bit. No, you’re not being an A$$ that I can tell. If you want a more objective opinion I’ll give you my wife’s number. She might tell you a bit of a different story.

    • #50684

      I am in a similar situation. My husband has not been diagnosed with ADHD but I have thought for many years that he has had it. Knowing some of his family history I believe it was something that started in childhood and has become heightened by life with 5 kids and a business, especially in the absence of good coping skills. He is currently being treated for anxiety and has refused counseling. He has in fact crossed the line of hobby and addiction. There is a social aspect to the game he plays and I completely understand that it can be a stress relief. We do live a very high speed and stressful lifestyle, owning a seasonal business. However, when he takes my kids devices so he can have another account to play this game and has created more credit card debt than I care to mention, it seems to be a problem. I also feel like I am his mother. I have had to change his account to make him an 11 year old kid so he has to ask me every time he wants to purchase something. I have expressed to him that I do not want to be his mother, I want a partner. Someone who can take responsibility for himself and he seems to want the same thing. I feel he lacks the self control to be in that situation. We recently had a situation where he wanted to download an app that was free and he could not because I didn’t have my device with me to approve the download. He said this is frustrating and my reply was yes and it is frustrating when I look at my credit card bill that I almost had paid off and it is not that way anymore. I have an 8 year that is in counseling and has not been diagnosed yet and that is another source of contention. We disagree on how to parent and impulsive, high strung, over-reactive child. I am at a loss for how to assist you, but sometimes even just knowing there is someone else going through the same thing is helpful. All of the responses are interesting. I wish it was as easy as just having a conversation sometimes.

    • #50717

      I’m a couples therapist who specializes in treating couples affected by ADHD. And let me start by saying, of course you’re not a you-know-what. You need him and you miss him, and constant videogame playing gets in the way.
      It’s good that the two of you were able to come to an agreement that the main gaming system would not be played until the weekend and when he has accomplished his daily tasks. That shows that the bond between you is still working.

      What I’ve found is that people with ADHD have an even more intense reaction to the feeling of being judged, criticized or rejected by their spouses than neurotypical people do. I am absolutely sure that rejection-sensitive dysphoria, which Dr. Dodson identified, is a major symptom of ADHD. It probably has to do with our whacky dopamine system. It takes more stimulus than it does in neurotypical people to feel that other people think well of us, and our batteries of good feeling run out more quickly. RSD causes absolutely horrible, visceral feelings of pain. They literally feel wounded — and brain scans would probably show that this is the way their brains are experiencing this.

      So the best way to get him to become less attached to his video games would be to share with him that you need his presence, that you need him and want to be with him more. Not in an angry, shaming way, because if it comes across as either anger or judgment (or “you’re hurting me”), that’s all he will see it as. Adults with ADHD are secretly desperate for praise and approval, because of their low dopamine levels, but it makes them feel ashamed of themselves that they are like that, so they rarely admit or ask for words of praise and appreciation anywhere near as much as they need it. The gaming system is a quick reward system — it releases dopamine. But so does a compliment to him, a sweet word, something you say that shows you appreciate him for something.

      You can say that you shouldn’t have to do all that, and I realize you are working really hard already and just wish he could step up to the plate more. And that’s fine. If you can phrase that in a way that doesn’t put him down, you’ll get through better. As in, “Sometimes I get so tired. I’m not always strong. I really do need you. I like being with you, I really do, and I miss you when you’re on your game. I start to feel really bad about myself, like I’m not interesting to you anymore.”

      Then listen to him, listen to his struggles, assume that he wants to be the most loving husband and father he can be, but that ADHD is getting in his way. You can work on some interim step — some reduction that he feels he can do. Then be prepared to help him stick to it, just as you’d help someone who’s trying to give up cigarettes or midnight pints of ice cream — calmly, with a minimum of anger.

      Good luck!

      • #50730

        Thank you so much for this information!

    • #50727

      I have the same issue. When it got to be over 40 hours a week, I confronted him and said this is not ok. Now he conceals it. I still have a hard time believing that living in a fantasy world is ok, but after reading the psychologist’s post, I can understand my guy’s need for gaming–although I still don’t like it. I think there are are better ways to handle ADD. He and I need to sit down and have a conversation about limits. He’s been gaming for over 20 years, so I can’t see it changing. But I can hope. This is the single most upsetting issue for me. I can deal with all the other ADD stuff.

    • #50764

      It seems to me that the problem is not with the gaming per se, but with the fact that he’s not focusing “on the importance of his daily tasks”, as you phrased it. Unfortunately, that is the very problem with ADHD – the important completely loses to the interesting. Chances are that taking away the games will merely lead him to find something else interesting to do. Even more of a problem is when the important things are important just for you and not for him. It’s not that he doesn’t value that, it’s just that his brain never gets a chance to panic in that case, and use the resulting adrenaline rush to get him started.

      DH and I are both ADHD, and only when our kid got diagnosed we realized that most other people would be able to easily select important over interesting. It seemed so magical! So my only suggestions are shared calendars, reminders, always enforced hard limits on time-constrained issues (no pulling out the phone at the table, no going away until dinner is finished), picking your battles on minor issues, letting him fail on things that only concern him (it’s how everybody learns), and most of all try to let go of judgement, because nobody is likely to do well when they feel judged. What he does or doesn’t do has no bearing on you, although I understand it can be hard to see that (we had our moments also).

      Now, if the guy grabs the game from the kid and goes crazy shopping, like for that other poster (hugs!), that’s past ADHD and getting into addictive behaviour, in which case he needs professional help. I’m guessing that’s not the case here, although I suspect an ADHD coach can help.

    • #50855

      Why cant you just play with him i have adhd and i wish my wife will just join me its somthing we can both injoy together i dont gey why she is so understanding

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