October 18, 2018 at 12:07 pm #101909
My husband has ADHD. We have managed together for 21 years, but I’m coming to a breaking point.
We started out optimistic, embarking on egalitarian, career-oriented lives in academia. Things were ok. Occasionally we’d fight about his inattentiveness (putting toilet seats down, forgetting to come home for dinner, forgetting that he had a plane to catch to come home, etc.), but we generally had a good time together.
Fast forward to today: I have been forced from my career track in large part because of his ADHD, am dealing with a daughter that is suspected to have ODD if not also ADHD, and am totally responsible for everything domestic (bills, chores, car maintenance, home improvement etc), as well as trying to “clean up” after my husband’s ADHD gaffs at work (I’m actually employed by the same institution as my husband, but in an auxiliary/ support role), and there is zero romance in our marriage.
I really try to accept the turns that life has dealt me, but I’m not very good at it. I don’t get to do anything for me at this point. I had to give up my career, but I’m literally adjacent to it, so I feel sidelined everyday. Every free moment of my day is eaten up by dealing with housework, or trying to manage my daughter (where is this ‘joy’ other mother’s talk about?). My relationship with my husband feels less like a marriage and more like I’m a personal assistant that chases him around all day and all night. But it’s worse than being a personal assistant… because he has zero filter/inhibitions about being nasty with me, while I imagine he would be better with an employee.
And recently (the last year and half or so) he has been on a higher dose of medication. And while it’s made him able to kind-of manage his ever growing to-do list at work, it seems it has also turned him from the quiet, calm, affectionate, empathetic, but somewhat befuddled man I fell in love with, into a rash, angry, impatient, intolerant defensive person I don’t recognize. Specifically bothersome are the ‘white lies’ that he uses to protect himself when he screws up. He usually uses these when I have point about his behavior he doesn’t want to own up to. For example: last night he was not modeling good anger management skills when my daughter told us something that happened at school (we are having trouble with how some of the teachers are interacting with her). He was yelling about how he would reduce the school to rubble and have so and so fired, and that he was going to march into the principal’s office in the morning and let them have it. Well, he didn’t. After I got our daughter ready for school, and drove her in, I told him I wanted him to model better anger management in front of her. Especially because those outbursts never lead to resolution. He never went to talk to the principal. I pointed this out, and that additionally, after these sort of outbursts I’m the one that has to follow up with the school. His response: “well! I wrote an email, so don’t throw that in my face!” But he didn’t. He hadn’t even started one. And besides that, even if he had, it wouldn’t justify the outburst, or the fact that he never follow through with his plans to meet with teachers/ the principal.
So now it seems like my husband and daughter are feeding off of each other. The outbursts are getting worse. My husband says he needs to watch tv on his phone to get through any “monotonous tasks” he needs to get through, so my daughter gives me trouble about screen time. She watches him do things like open packages and leave the wrapping on the floor, so I can’t convince her that picking up after herself is something she should do.
There are days where I want to leave and never come back. There are days when I wish I could have a lobotomy to make myself ok with subsuming myself and just running around after them all day and night. I’m having trouble seeing how I can be me and stay doing what I’m doing much longer…
October 18, 2018 at 6:30 pm #101976
Hey @cursedquitena, I’m Kendall. I don’t mind attempting to help you out a bit.
I am very sorry that you’re dealing with so much in your life right now. Although I can’t begin to relate to most of it (as I am only 19 years old with no relationship or children), I CAN empathize with all of you as far as ADHD. I’ve been dealing with it since I was 11, and it is far from easy. My family has a hard time dealing with the mistakes & screw-ups I have sometimes, & it kills me that this is a reality.
SPEAKING AS SOMEONE WITH ADHD…
We can’t control our ADHD in the sense of just getting rid of it completely to make ourselves & our loved ones happy (WE WISH WE COULD). I understand that we can be MASSIVE HEADACHES to deal with sometimes and I’m sorry for that, I truly am. But all that we can do is work to try to minimize the negatives & maximize the positives of our ADHD every single day. As long as he’s working on managing his ADHD & committed to working on it every single day, no matter the issues, I believe that’s all you can ask for.
**One thing I did catch in your post was when you stated that you both would occasionally fight about certain mishaps he would have due to his ADHD. This isn’t good, because it plants the seeds for resentment & a parent-child dynamic to develop within the relationship (which is where you are now, literally & figuratively). While arguing is fine, it’s counterproductive when it gets personal.**
Arguing with someone who has ADHD is VERY TRICKY & FRUSTRATING. We’re so sensitive about ourselves & our ADHD that we take most things personally & end up lashing out with emotion or getting defensive. I’ve been here plenty of times.
In your husband’s mind, every time you point something out that he messed up, it’s as if you’re criticizing him for having ADHD. It’s equivalent to someone teasing a paraplegic for not being able to walk & being in a wheelchair.
“I can’t control my ADHD, yet you’re still criticizing me for it? Doesn’t make sense. But okay, I’ll just defend my self-esteem & let it go in one ear & out the other and I’ll either tune you out completely or defend myself because you’re ‘attacking me'”
Obviously, this is INCREDIBLY unfair to you because I’m sure you wouldn’t criticize your husband or do anything to hurt or bother him. You love him & you have built a life together. You only want to come together to deal with a few issues you have with his behavior, no problem with that. But in order to do that, you have to communicate to him that you have a problem with his behavior. And it wouldn’t hurt if he’d take on more of the responsibilities that you have. Only you can’t get this through to him because he immediately gets defensive. ***Because he sees you as his enemy (who’s there to put him down) & not his partner (who’s there to help him). All because he feels you took issue with his ADHD from the start (which is unfair), as opposed to his behavior (which is fair).***
And from these seeds grows a parent-child-like relationship that is dictated by the child’s ADHD, which sets the parent up for resentment & burnout. Then both individuals will lose who they are because ADHD is controlling the relationship, AND the individuals IN the relationship.
My suggestion would be,
If you all can figure out a way to take a break from your daily lives & maybe get away for a while, you both could take some time to talk through the negative feelings & emotions that you both have developed, along with discussing his ADHD (from a more understanding perspective), come to a better place emotionally, & find yourselves again so you’ll be better equipped to take on the life that you’ve built together.
I really hope that this helps,
-Kendall Boults Jr.
October 18, 2018 at 11:56 pm #101979
You sound like an amazingly intelligent and competent person, with a need to reset your priorities, and focus on yourself and your child.
Your husband sounds overwhelmed by his brain disorder, and may be doing all that he can, given his under-treated state. To start changing this:
Write to your husband’s prescribing physician about his aggressive and verbally violent behavior. HIPAA laws bar his dr. from talking to you but you can talk to the dr. Explain to the dr. that your husband needs a mood stabilizer in addition to the stimulant med; he may also need an additional, non-stimulant ADHD med such as Strattera. Your husband sounds under-medicated. This website has good info on ADHD treatment and guidance for the ADHDer to stick to a schedule of medication, CBT / coaching, and daily tasks.
Establish firm boundaries and structures to help your spouse and to save yourself. Instead of cleaning up his messes at work and home (which doesn’t work), concentrate on getting a new job or expanding your current one. Let him suffer the consequences of his behavior.
When your husband has tantrums and vicious outbursts, let him know you won’t tolerate them – and leave the room or house if necessary. Don’t hesitate to call police and/or the local women’s resources organizations; they’re not for “other people.” You need support from others because you sure aren’t getting it from your spouse.
Be ready to research therapists and set up the first appointments for him but make it clear he must commit to change. By leaving your husband to his own devices (after getting meds and therapy on a better footing), you may help him to learn self-reliance.
Don’t bother talking with him much about all the things you are having to do – he is unable to listen much at present. They tend to learn best from actions anyway.
What resources are available to your daughter? Is after-school care possible? What about respite care for yourself? Some states have resources. What is your housing situation and could you pay for it alone? Do either you or your husband have tenure?
Talk to a lawyer to learn where you stand.
This is a long-ish to-do list and you are so tired.
Remember what has been said elsewhere on this site about communicating with ADHD people:
Less talk is better than more talk. (Put any really necessary words in writing.)
Arguing doesn’t work. (Turn a smooth cliff face to the waves of his provocative statements)
Rebuking them doesn’t work. (They lose control.)
Strategic, strengths-based expectations are better than negotiated agreements. (Attempts at compromise usually fail.)
Best of luck.
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