Feeling overwhelmed by my spouse's ADHD

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  John 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #121426

    had
    Participant

    Hi

    My husband was diagnosed 6 months ago with ADHD, having been together for 14 years. He is a lovely man, kind-hearted and desperate to do the right thing. Having run two businesses into the ground he decided last summer to sell his business and take a few months off. I also freelnace and he constructed a story that it was my time to flourish in my career whilst he became stay at home Dad. This wasn’t planned for and I was hurtled into working full time on my business, having sole responsibility for the mortgage and bills on our new home that we had bought just 10 months previously. I was willing to do this as I thought he needed a break. 14 months on I find myself being responsible for everything, supporting the family financially as well as picking up everything my husband seems incapable of doing – shopping, meal planning, organising play dates for my daughter, dealing with everything from school, etc.

    I recognised that employed work after 25 years of self-employment wasn’t going to happen. So in January, we agreed to join forces and set up a company together. Suffice to say he hasn’t achieved anything he said he would. I have come to recognise that unless there is an emotional engagement he just doesn’t follow through. recently I’ve recognised that I am going to continue to be the sole breadwinner which is a struggle every month.

    Despite knowing that he loves me and our child he is regularly emotionally absent. We rarely go out, there is no intimacy between us anymore – to be honest, it was never high on his agenda.

    I am exhausted and overwhelmed. I’ve tried to find a therapist who specilazes in ADHD in our area or one who works remotely. However, therapists who say they work with ADHD that I’ve contacted do not have any real specialism.

    I love my husband and I regularly fight with reality when I say I don’t want to be married to someone with ADHD. He has been prescribed medication but it strings him out, he can’t sleep when he’s on it and becomes exhausted and irritable. I’ve suggested a change to our diet which he sometimes follows and sometimes doesn’t and to exercise which he doesn’t do. He hides bank accounts from me, spends impulsively on things that matter to him – and forgets anniversaries and birthdays
    .
    If any friend told me the above I’d tell her to get out. But I know my husband isn’t a bad man, nor is the situation so awful to place my child in the middle of separated parents. But I am so so lost.

  • #121436

    Dizzy
    Participant

    Had, gotta ask…have you talked (not argued) with him about these issues?

    I say this because my wife was getting upset over issues that I was
    completely clueless about. All couples have issues at one time or
    another, and fortunately life experience has taught us both that
    a respectful discussion beats the crap out of having an argument.

    Hopefully he can come to understand that, as a wife, woman, and
    an individual, you have expectations and concerns that are otherwise
    not being addressed.

    He also needs to understand that, while he’s not a bad man, he is doing
    some things that are bad. Actions (or inaction) have consequences,
    and the things he’s doing are having a bad effect one you and the
    family.

    FWIW, I’m a 60 year old guy with ADHD that’s been divorced 3 times, and
    married 4 times. My Queen and I have now been happily married for
    17 years, and the only reason our relationship has lasted is because
    we have both seen enough arguing in our lives, so instead we sit down
    and talk things out.

    It does bring a much more harmonious outcome.

    I wish you only the very best in working this out with your
    husband

  • #121479

    had
    Participant

    Thanks for your reply – yes we have talked – extensively. And yes we’ve argued as well. He takes full responsibility and recognises all that I say as I say it and then it falls out of his head again He’s just left the marital home for a few days to try an get his head around all of this. I am trying to find us a therapist who can work with us both who has ADHD training but so far no luck.

    • #123286

      John
      Participant

      I understand your looking for a therapist for ADHD. ( I am the ADHD husband) I hope you have found one. My experience has been I was too picky about to Finding the right therapist- This procrastination delayed council ing months if not years. Now I go twice a month for the past yr 1/2. Every therapist has a unique style and it usually takes four to five sessions to become comfortable with them

  • #121533

    hayes
    Participant

    Had

    I’m so sorry about what you’re going through. I’m the ADD spouse here – diagnosed 17 yrs ago, now married (gratefully/luckily) 26 years. Sadly, I’ve done just about everything your partner has done here. My wife knows I’m a good man and that I love her and our kids (now 21 & 18); but doing what needs to be done (both organizationally and emotionally) is a huge chore. I’ve put our marriage on the brink twice in those years.

    My question: is your husband taking meds and in treatment himself? I originally thought that meds alone would be enough to ‘fix’ or ‘manage’ this “ADD thing”. However, those of us with ADD deal with a lifetime of shame/guilt caused by the real struggles now associated with ADD. Each day becomes another reminder of how we constantly let down those we love most – its consequences are debilitating. As well, the energy alone to just attend to all we need to is enormous. I say to friends who don’t have ADD to imagine waking up every day being told your going to forget/overlook something vitally important today – you’re just not told what that thing is each day. The pressure gets overwhelming – especially when it impacts those we love most.

    So if he’s not in treatment on his own, I would strongly recommend that and a course of medication. It took me years to realize that I had to have both in order to get a handle on the resultant emotional struggles that accompany ADD – I call them the ‘evil cousins’ of anxiety & shame. But he needs to do this for himself first – then for your family. I came to that realization after a lot of struggle in our family. I have a great therapist now (going on 3 years), and things are getting better as we go forward.

    One of the beacons for me was my amazing wife; throughout all of this she never said she didn’t love me – it sounds like your husband luckily has that here as well. Knowing that gave me the strength I didn’t think I had to struggle through this and get the help I need. So if your husband hasn’t done this yet, I hope he can begin this process; but we (ADD’ers) have to want to do this ourselves. In addition, you also have to do what you need to take care of yourself. While I think we’re worth it, I’m now very aware of how much energy it takes from the partners loving/being in relationship with those of us with ADD. We do need the help of our amazing partners, but you need to care for yourself in whatever ways you deem best.

    Sorry this went on so long; but your situation resonated so closely that I wanted/needed to put some context here. It’s hard, but it sounds like your husband is a good man and loves you and your daughter very much, and knows that you love him. I cannot fully express how much knowing that means to us – so don’t lose sight of that. I wish you well going forward, and send all good wishes your way. I check back here quite regularly, so I hope will too…

    CHRIS

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  hayes.
  • #121575

    Penny Williams
    Keymaster

    An ADHD coach might be able to help a great deal. They would work with him to create goals (like those tasks he’s to do in your joint business) and then create tailored strategies that work for him. Plus, it’s someone to keep him accountable to accomplish tasks that isn’t the “nagging spouse.” 😉

    The ADHD Coach: A Personal Trainer For Your Brain

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

  • #121835

    jvbeach
    Participant

    I can totally relate to this and wish I had the answer.

    My ADD partner and I have been together for over 11 years in which I’ve supported him in learning to live with ADD. And I’m exhausted. Partly due to not recognising how important it is to look after myself through all this, and partly from life contantly throwing challenges at us. Intimacy stopped a while ago, and isn’t likely to change any time soon.

    Most recently my OH’s contract ended and he’s now on the dreaded path of ‘finding another job’. He hates it. I hate it. It takes forever. And it costs me a fortune (he owes me over 5k from the last unemployment period).

    Long story shot, he’s now at the point where he’s run out of money and can’t afford to pay his share of the bills. After talking with him about his spending, I discovered he’d not cancelled bills that he should of 6 months ago, and when he was getting a wage, has been spending £200 to £500 of it per month on nothing or in his words ‘I don’t know where it went’.

    Now I fully understand that this is ADD kicking in and that managing money is a big challenge so I can’t take it out on him. But where does that leave us?

    We can’t affored coaching. He’s good at taking his medication and tries to keep up with other supporting activities (running/mindfulness etc.) but I can’t afford to bail him out. I just don’t earn enough. Plus stress/pressure is building in both of us now that money gets less and less. Not good when we’re already exhausted.

    However, despite all this, I will try to keep talking and being honest with him. Harder to do than it sounds. I just hope that between us, we can find a solution.

  • #121922

    Keri C
    Participant

    I read your post and think I could have written the same thing. I am where you are. There are no specialists in our area and I can’t even find one to do counseling via the internet. He is a good man but bad husband- he tries but not the right ways. I don’t have the answers, but you are not alone.

  • #122224

    mzuyder
    Participant

    Hi all,
    I feel like I could have written the first post. I have been with my husband 8 years, married for 6 and we have two little kids. It is really hard being married to someone with ADHD-inattentive. I work full time, manage all our bills, organize child care, birthday parties, field trips, family vacations, groceries, laundry, cleaning, car maintenance etc. and it is so overwhelming. I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to parent with someone who contributed to our household. My husband is really fun and funny, and an engaged father to our two boys; However, when he is battling his demons, which is often, he can come across short and rude to me and our kids. Financially we struggle as he was virtually unemployed for the first 6 years of our relationship-he was trying to build his own business and would occasionally bring in $, but it was inconsistent and lean. He often gets frustrated with our financial position or our inability to purchase nice things, go out etc, but won’t make a budget with me or see a planner, despite my making many efforts over the years. I sometimes look around our rental home and with the exception of the television, everything else was, in one way or another, acquired by me. It is very difficult and frustrating and I struggle all the time with balancing my life. He rarely asks me about my day or my courses that I am taking, and I often hide the “tasks” that I do be completing them all before he gets home. He doesn’t like it when I clean or organize in his presence, so I try and fit it all in before he gets home. When I ask for help or try to shift some of the household responsibilities to him (grocery shopping, meal prep, cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry, recycling, compost etc), he pushes back calling me a task-master and a nag. I have tried making charts, using apps, creating “fun” pinteresty-to-do lists, but it never sticks, and I am constantly feeling like I manage two kids, a household and a man-child. As a result, it is not attractive and find myself avoiding intimacy, which is frustrating for him, because he is interested and wants that. He has finally found a job that he is happy and excited about for which I am grateful, but all the rest of the household stuff, it exhausting for me.

    Is this what the rest of my life will be? Has anyone had any success with having their ADHD partners contribute to their household in a more balanced way?

    I envisioned my partner and I working together to paint a bedroom, or do some minor home renos, or make meals together, but he has no interest in any sort of ‘project’ that he perceives as a ‘task’. I love doing projects and enjoy the process, so I just do these things on my own, but this is not how I imagined my life partnership to be. Sigh.

  • #122239

    leftie22
    Participant

    mzyuder – I felt like I was reading my own life when I read your post! I’m sorry that you’re in that situation, and I can relate 100%, except that I only work part-time and still find my responsibilities overwhelming. I can’t imagine doing all of that and working full time.

    For me, it’s just stopped being optional for him “not to notice” what needs to get done, or for me to make things fun for him. We have a joint calendar, but I’m the only one who puts anything on it and he doesn’t look at it. Every time I brought that up, he’d claim he did look at it, but then somehow he still didn’t know anything that was going on that week, where the kids needed to be, what days I was working, etc. But if I bring things up or ask him to do anything, I’m “micromanaging”. A week ago I created a reminder list for all household responsibilities, because like you, I do a TON of stuff that he never sees, so then he always seems to resent me when I’m sitting down for a minute and he “has” to do dishes. The reminder list has made that stuff more visible. I put everything I do on it, like bills, meal planning, shopping, cleaning, and the list has 34 items. Just having that in writing made me feel better, and he actually did a couple of them for the first time in our 10 year relationship without me asking. (It’s pathetic that that’s the case, but I feel like the reminder worked.) He also wants a lot of praise whenever he does anything, which also makes me really annoyed and resentful, but at least he did it. I thought of making a trophy for vacuuming.

    I also feel completely no attraction to my husband. I have a lot of guilt about it, but he does act like a child, and if I was attracted to that, I’d be a sick person. So I try not to blame myself.

    I just relate so much, and the feeling of being let down by someone who you thought would make your life easier – or at least supported – is so hard. My husband wants to look at a nicer house today, and I just told him to cancel our viewing, because I found a bunch of unexpected charges he made on our account and credit card. (Two days after we went over the budget and he agreed to stop making purchases that don’t fit in the budget.) I just feel like any plan I make is sabotaged, and he sees me as the “taskmaster”, like you say, instead of realizing that these are normal, adult responsibilities that everyone either has, or neglects and then gets into trouble.

    That was a rant, but I really felt everything you said, and today was a frustrating morning. He was almost late bringing our son to camp, and when I told him I don’t like having to tell him every step of getting ready in the morning when he’s supposed to be responsible for our son today (I’m watching our daughter), he got mad and said “Why not? You’re here, aren’t you?” Like it was too much to ask him to get one child ready on his own. (But if I did remind him every step of the way, I’d be micromanaging.) I can’t win!

  • #122243

    leftie22
    Participant

    I’ll just add to my long rant, that it also seemed to work a bit (who knows for how long) that I told him I either need him to start doing some of the household stuff, or we need to hire it out. He was very annoyed that I even brought it up, but I told him I just can’t keep going the way it’s going, so if he doesn’t want to pay for a cleaner, he can do some of it himself. It’s only been a week, so we’ll see. But if he doesn’t start doing more around the house without being “nagged”, I’m going to hire a cleaner. We shouldn’t have to work ourselves into the ground just because our partners have ADHD. And at least now if he gets mad about hiring a cleaner, I can tell him he has the option of doing it himself if he doesn’t like the other option!

  • #122414

    sallyspeech
    Participant

    All your stories are also mine! However, my husband and I are separated (3rd time). This time it looks as though we will be getting a divorce. We have been married almost 20 years and have 3 teenagers. I’m so exhausted after years of parenting our kids and feeling like he was another kid as well. Do any of your partners have addictions as well? Mine used addictions for a long time to cope with the anxiety and stress of his ADHD. He’s in a 12-step group, goes to counseling, takes medicine…. He is taking so long to learn new coping mechanisms. He also isolates himself and is not there emotionally or in any way to help out with parenting and with chores around the house. I set up some boundaries and he didn’t follow them so I asked him to leave. It’s very devastating. However my kids are now old enough to see how childish their dad acts and they don’t like it. They want him to be a dad and not an annoying older brother. Anyway, I relate to all of you and this is such a hard place to be.

  • #122424

    LoriR
    Participant

    This thread is a reality check for me. I broke up with my live-in boyfriend of 2 years for reasons that have already been described.

    I believe I have ADHD too, but over the years I’ve learned to time and measure everything. This takes this long, I can manage this much in one day, I need a break after so many minutes of work. In other words, I’ve become a plodder. I’m still very slow and don’t accomplish much, but at least I keep to my commitments.

    (As a mother, I was basically a failure, even though I loved my child. Motherhood was so not fun!)

    Unfortunately my boyfriend wasn’t motivated to learn these skills, or maybe he doesn’t know how to pull it all together. I believe that he meant well, on some level.

    The point I’m trying to make is that maybe people can change when they’re ready. But an ADHD man who has a woman who will pick up the slack? Not likely.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  LoriR.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  LoriR.
  • #122443

    R2
    Participant

    This thread makes me feel very sad. I’ve read about the pain of non-ADHD spouses and the guilt accepted by woke ADHD spouses.

    I want to be woke. But as an ADHD spouse, my life experiences have lead me to some conclusions of my own.

    I was OK when I was in my own. I could accomplish things, make decisions and nourish relationships. Marriage added an extra level of complexity along with a healthy serve of guilt over sharing the work.

    Being highly creative and analytical I encouraged my wife to estimate the time it took for our respective tasks. I pressed her to add time when she underestimated her contributions. I was sure to estimate very conservatively for my tasks. I really wanted to find out what was going to fix this problem.

    It turned out to my surprise that I actually contributed more hours than she did. My contributions, though essential, were overlooked and undervalued until we put a number to them. And evaluates if they were necessary or not.

    Then kids came along and there was an extra level of complexity. Along with problems at work. These problems were not ADHD related but ADHD behaviour even when it successful makes a convenient target.

    Guilt compounds, anxiety becomes a pattern and eventually a psychological injury caused things to spiral out of control.

    My wife is incredibly supportive, even if she doesn’t quite understand. She’s threatened by hyper-focus. Calls it being absent. When it’s actually my ability to solve complex problems that require more than a little commitment.

    She also just doesn’t get my (non)relationship with time. I’m telling her now that she has to give il the schedule for the schedule to work. It’s the panic from the neurotypical that creates time paralysis in my case. (And my kid’s case actually)

    I’m feeling stronger now but I’ve decided that the 90% of neurotypicals need to back off and let me succeed in my own way. My illustration for this is that I’m ignoring all “white” people telling me I have to be more “white”. They’re trying to kill the ADHD in the man or the child in the case of my kid.

    As a matter of fact. I’m cooperating with the school now so that my ADHD kid can receive the education he deserves without a healthy serve of guilt. I tell the that they likely have 10% of their kids with ADHD and that if they made the classroom fit the ADHD kids it would benefit the neurotypicals as well. (Open plan classrooms are horrible)

    There is some ideology to overcome on the part of the neurotypicals but I am going to complete this project, of being authentically successful with ADHD. I’m going to shut the mouths of the nay sayers. I’m going to prove that I doing have to be metaphorically “white” the be successful I just need to make sure my environment is right for me. And the people around me don’t unwittingly sabotage me with their intense faith in the neurotypical way.

    Every person’s relationship has a history and complexities. ADHD people can do bad things just as well as neurotypicals. But the neurotypical has a huge culture behind him/her offering reassurance that their way is the one-true-way, the master-way or the metaphorically “white” way. It is worth examining all the times that ADHD is marked in small things that don’t really matter as something to be fixed, a problem to be overcome, a character fault. Or that ADHD virtues are demonised because they’re unfamiliar.

    The insistance on compliance to the neurotypical way is blocks ADHD virtues so you can’t get anything done.

    I would love some data on all the times that ADHD virtues win over neurtyoical virtues. My theory is that sometimes, (not always) neurotypical spouses are complaining about things that are untrue statistically. Even if they love us their urging to be more “white” like the is based on a systematic brainwashing of a dominant society. It seems so obvious you’re right if the people around you all nod along.

    A paper like that would change the world. I would then like to reclaim my pride, my metaphorical land, my creative, non-linear, world changing heritage. And I would like to see all the ADHD spouses in this thread succeed using their talents and and adaptations too.

    I’m going to choose not to be sad about this post. I’m going to act by trying to change the world around me and my kid to suit us. That will have to include some pretty fancy talking to the neurotypicals around us.

  • #122445

    Kat13
    Participant

    Hi, The Priory in Bristol has specialists in ADHD. They have couples counselling there and lots of other support for those with ADHD and their partners. There are Priory centres in other parts of the UK. I don’t know if they have any distance support.

    I have been married to my husband for 12 years. I am his third wife. We have a lot of complications in our marriage but learning that he had ADHD was a ‘lightbulb moment’. My husband tries to engage in conversation and means what he says at the time, e.g. agreeing to things, but then is completely incapable of remembering what we agreed and incapable of following through with anything. I read a book recently called The ADHD Effect In Marriage by Melissa Orlov, maybe you’ve heard of it. It was way too simplistic in its solutions but it did give me some more insight into the strange workings of my husband’s brain. It sounds as if you might need some outside help with your situation to stop things deteriorating further. I’ve found that gaining as much knowledge as I can and also talking to someone else about things has been really helpful.

  • #122454

    Billkell57
    Participant

    Hello to all. I am the ADD spouse.
    Most of the previous stories are my life, frighteningly similar actually.
    I truly thought halfway through the one with 2 sons, that it was written by
    my wife. A little about myself before I add what I hope will throw a big lightbulb on for most of the troubled spouses.
    Engineering degree, certified canine obedience trainer, and very recently
    a graduate of a 16 month auto repair trade school. I can design, build and/or repair anything yet I have had 3 failed businesses, and extreme difficulty being content with a career choice. One of the most enlightening and sad realizations I have had about ADD is that the “Attention ” piece encompasses our entire mindset. I’ll try to explain. Everyone knows the attention piece as being easily distracted. By our thoughts or external stimuli. The easiest way I found to explain the transition from thought/action to thought/action, is “been there, done that”. (I started my report, moving on to admiring cloud formations, new thought, new thought and on and on.) This applies not only minute to minute but year to year. (I received my College Degree. I’m kind of done with that field, let me get an unrelated job. Done that job long enough, I’ll start my own business in a completely new career path.) On and on the changes happen. If they don’t sadness and irritability can become prominent without even knowing why. My son was diagnosed with ADHD 9 years ago at 5. During that period I was horrified to learn that I had suffered from all the symptoms of ADD my entire life.
    I was diagnosed not long after. From my late teens through my early 30’s
    I suffered from hyper focus with my ADD.
    Working 100 hour weeks was common and
    I never considered it odd or excessive. I was a doer. I met my wife/best friend
    In my late teens. We have two amazing boys. I love them all to an extent that I have not yet found words to describe the feeling. Here is where I will hopefully help those in this forum.
    As life progressed, responsibilities grew as they will. For me those responsibilities became unbearable weights. My struggles of getting everyday things done became monumentally difficult. The concentration it took to remember to do laundry, wash the car, get an oil change, make a Dr. apptmnt was exhausting. Remembering things, being on time, (always a struggle), were now being added to a very large list of things a despised about myself. It was roughly a 15 year long spiral into deep depression. I am completely surprised that depression had not been mentioned at all in this forum. It is a common condition but having been severly depressed I continue to discover that it is very misunderstood. Those that mention their spouses not doing anything to help, or being emotionally detached seriously need to get help for their spouses and possibly their own depression. A simplified definition of depression is being sad or down constantly for more than a few weeks. It is common in ADD adults and needs to be addressed before the ADD. Taking meds and seeking help for ADD is of no interest if you are depressed, so it’s not going to happen. Depression frequently shows itself as anger or rage. I went for help for depression in my late 40’s. It took over a year to realize that I had actually been depressed for over 30 years. I have been on 4 differnt meds for it to find the best one for me. Once I got used to that medication, I started with ADD meds. People without ADD will never “get” what it’s like to have it. I still don’t quite get it. My wife is frustrated by her lack of understanding of it but we are learning how to work with it. Always be aware that ADD people perceive the world in a completely different way than atypical minded people. That pile of laundry, sink full of dishes, dirty carpet…
    ADD person “that can get done later” Sensible person, “thats been a mess long enough, let me take care of it now”. When left on our own for scheduling things we are mostly aweful at it. (Reason why our businesses fail) There is always something more interesting or fun to do, which is that childish attitude I read about in the previous letters. I hate that my wife
    does all the household chores so I have told her that she needs to tell me to do things. This is normally a negative in a relationship, but with an ADD significant other you both must establish, in a kind calm discussion, that they suck at getting things done and you are not doing everything from now on. Also realize you have to be the “employer”. You have to give them a job when it needs doing. They have to accept the role of employee and do what is requested of them, WHEN, it is requested. If for no other reason than to make your life easier. My wife has given me much opposition to telling me what to do and when to do it. Her steadfast argument was that she shouldnt have to point out the dirty dishes or laundry that I obviously see.
    I spelled out quite a few scenarios of my perception of these things before she realized that I will either do the laundry when I do it, OR she could tell me when she perceived it necessary to do and I would take on the task. One might think that once I started the laundry it would get finished. Not so. Started the washing machine, now I’m reading a book, or cooking dinner, or helping with homework, or putting up curtain rods, or watching tv, or shopping on the web. All it takes is a kind “laundry done yet?” and I’m back on it. It may take more than one reminder. I’m not instantly jumping up in the middle of homework assistance to put laundry in the dryer so I may have forgotten by the time homework is done.
    This is the way ADD brains work. We are NOT avoiding the task. We literally do not have the wiring in our brains that allow us to hold on to mental notes. If the willingness to help is there I feel there should be no frustration on your part with helping us remember to get back on task. I will leave you with one more little known nuance of ADD. We are rarely doing something for the reason perceived by an atypical minded person.
    Washing dishes to get them clean? Not necessarily. To give a sense of accomplishment, to make my spouse smile, to see how fast I can do it? You dont need to always know why, but knowing the why is very different than yours may help you a little to accept the way things are.
    Bill

  • #122471

    LoriR
    Participant

    Many thanks to those who provided further info.

    As I mentioned, I believe I have ADHD too, but I’ve worked so hard at “functioning” and taking tnings seriously that it’s hard for me to remember what I used to be like.

    Also, I had no knowledge about ADHD (other than some.vague awareness of schoolboys taking Ritalin), so I had no mental framework for ubderstandingwhat was going on.

    Enter my wonderful boyfriend, who let me down many times. I had the typical reactions: thinking he was lazy, lying, and didn’t care. I thought if I told him something once, that was enough. And I thought some things were too obvious to mention.

    I tried desperately to figure out what was wrong with him and/or our relationship. Eventually I found out about ADHD, and spent many months learning whatever I could through books, websites, and YouTubes.

    But after 2 years of anger, resentment, and resignation, and having developed the lifestyle of a full-time servant, it was too hard for me to become a loving and understanding companion. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for spouses who have been doing this for much longer, with children thrown into the mix.

    I wish I had known about ADHD when this relationship began. I think things would have been much better for us.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  LoriR.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Penny Williams.
  • #122475

    amyalyce
    Participant

    I can relate to so much of what has been written. My husband was diagnosed seven years ago in his early 40s, six years into our marriage. He has always felt different and inadequate, barely made it through school and struggled with addiction (thankfully clean and sober almost 20 years). I took on most all responsibilities early in our marriage, which led to resentment. We both work full time jobs, and today have two small children (and a small farm and two puppies) as well. I was a seething put of anger and dislike. As a poster said above, I did most everything, and felt like I had to nag or constantly remind, and eventually do everything myself (oh, martyr!) or it wouldn’t get done.

    Our son, now six, has been a handful since he was 17 months old. He’s now six, and has finished kindergarten (which probably took two years off of my life). In April, after I had to jump through so many hoops, he was finally diagnosed with ADHD combined type and anxiety. I have learned SO much about ADHD since his diagnosis, mostly due to groups like this (and others) and podcasts. As I learn about tools and techniques to help our son, I see where I need to help my husband as well. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes this all pisses me off! It’s so much work and stress to be the partner (and parent) of people with ADHD! BUT…I can recognize and appreciate my husband’s gifts (so smart, so funny and loveable, sensitive, such a good dad…and see that his challenges are something he needs help – and grace – with. Time and organization are huge issues for him. Seeing things that need done are huge issues. I see a parent coach (to help with my son) and she pointed out that ADHD causes people to see all tasks horizontally, like a flat timeline, so that everything has the same importance. It’s my job to find ways to help both my hubby and my son turn their lists vertically, and assess what order to put things. For my son, it’ll mean helping come up with a checklist of 3-5 things that need done in the morning to get ready for the day (hopefully including peeing, brushing g his teeth and getting dressed), that we can put on his own little clipboard to check off each morning. For my hubby, it’ll be similar anytime he’s faced with a large project (defending our pastures, for example, OMG I thought I would kill him! – this was before our son’s diagnosis – but he couldn’t prioritize and estimate time on removing old fences, drilling new post holes, setting new posts, and stringing five new strands of barbed wire). Hubby is usually in charge of making dinner (a leftover from my high risk pregnancies), and that usually works out ok…with reminders of me about time when he gets distracted by phone calls and stuff. For the dishwasher, I bought a sliding “clean/dirty” magnetic sign as a visual cue. For spending – and he is impulsive – we have an agreement that we will not spend more than $200 (except for Costco trips and things) without a discussion. I just pointed out Friday, on our way to camping in the trailer we bought two years ago, that no, we don’t need to trade it in for a “better” model, and that he has a tendency to think something else must be better than what we have. I have to take responsibility for the fact that I tend to get worn down by his ideas of bigger and better and eventually cave. No more. I am grateful that he’s been a fantastic employee for many years and is very secure in his job.

    Anyway, I would encourage those of you who are struggling to read more about the affects of ADHD, recognizing that it is a brain difference, not something they do on purpose “to us”. Give yourselves grace for your feelings – it is freaking hard on us who don’t have ADHD, too, in different ways than it’s hard on those who have or. Penny Williams recently had an excellent podcast about self-care for parents of ADHD kids, and I would suspect it would be relatable to those with ADHD spouses, too. (Her Podcast is Parenting ADHD Podcast…I think it was episode 62 or 63.)

    • #122525

      mortpm1
      Participant

      Bill, my personal experience is that my ADHD partner SAYS he want reminders, but then becomes upset when 1 reminer turns into 2 a few days later, then 2 turns into 3 a week later, then he has the audacity to become upset when I give up and do it myself (if he happens to witness it, otherwise he would not notice, lol).

      When do reminders turn into nagging? We can all agree that nagging is not nice, but who gets to define this?

  • #122476

    LuannKelly1980
    Participant

    Hello, I have ADD and was recently divorced from my husband of 9 years who had ADHD Hyperactivity type. I did all the adulting, while he did what his feelings dictated, in including extramarital affairs. My best advise is to not dismiss his behavior on having ADHD. Regardless, he is responsible to go to work, provide, and contribute to decisions. ADHD is not permission to act like a man child, nor for me to overspend and be irresponsible with money and housekeeping. I am now divorced and he is with girlfriend number three. I am starting over, and work very hard to counteract my own ADD tendencies.

  • #122524

    mortpm1
    Participant

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

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

    • #122744

      LoriR
      Participant

      Unfortunately, the ADHD partner might not be able to help out when you’re sick, injured, or old. My partner was willing to do eŕrands when I was injured, because he liked to do outdoor things. I still had to hobble around and do all the cooking and cleaning.

      But when I was too ill to cook, he said, “Okay, I’ll just cook something for myself.” I was supposed to lie there and starve.

      I’m not bashing him; he was a caring person. This is just the reality I lived with.

    • #122749

      LuannKelly1980
      Participant

      Hi Lori, I am reading several situations like yours, where the ADHD partner is a basically a dud of a partner. It really needs to be stressed that ADHD Innatentive type isn’t lazy, irresponsible, or selfish behavior problems. I found this out about my ex spouse. He actually has an Axis II Personality Disorder on top of his ADHD Hyperactivity. As I’m reading several replies sound like there is more at play here than simply ADHD.

  • #122530

    LuannKelly1980
    Participant

    Hi, what a situation. Not too different from my own experience. Have you considered that your husband may also have Borderline Personality disorder? The irresponsible, wanting to be parented behavior sounds just like my ex husband. He was also ADHD, and I am ADHD Inattentive Type. Having ADHD in itself doesn’t make a person childish and irresponsible. Most of us try very hard to achieve, even to our own detriment despite our brains being wired differently.

  • #122562

    nanwilchi@gmail.com
    Participant

    Perhaps a “life coach”, not a family therapist, because what you are wanting is help with the structure of your lives.
    Second, another medical eval for your husband. ADD has some co-morbidities like depression and treating just one aspect is not enough.
    Lastly, and I mean very lastly – this book “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay”

  • #122638

    juliebean45
    Participant

    I hear my story in every comment. 18 months ago I left a relationship of 18 months because of his ADHD. Man-child ✔so funny✔ not serious when he should be✔ works✔ starts a lot of stuff but doesnt complete✔ always has $ for what he wants to do (play darts) but the water bill may be late or in arrears✔ I’d get so upset by this and like others have said, lose respect for him because I have a daughter with ADHD, I dont need another child with it! I trusted him to go home to TX with his adult son & gf at Xmas to visit his family while my daughter & I stayed home by ourselves because there wasn’t room in the car for all of us. Christmas day I didnt even get a call, I got a text message & it was what he sent everyone on his list. WASNT EVEN A PERSONAL TEXT TO ME! He didnt even see the problem with that! Believe me I wasnt blowing up his phone while he was gone because I know how schedules go “right out the window” sometimes while visiting family. We spoke maybe twice that week. He worked like I said, but then he’d come home and literally “check out” in front of the TV for hours. Whenever you would ask him about getting himself together, he’d get defensive or say, Baby steps, baby steps. Well, I got tired of watching the baby taking forever to even try to walk on his own. I believe I dodged a bullet but at 50 the ” breeding pool” of decent, normal , nice guys, not living at home with their parents is getting smaller & smaller. Ugh! Good luck to all of you legally tied to ADHD’ers

  • #122708

    jvcf
    Participant

    I hear you completely. I have been married to my husband for almost 25 years. He was diagnosed with Inattentive Adult ADD seven years ago, and still hasn’t gotten a handle on it. I am at my wits end. I hear everything you’re saying. He is a nice man, but in some ways he doesn’t want to acknowledge that his brain doesn’t work like other’s do. Early on he would say to me, I’ve been this way all my life. I don’t have a problem with it. You have the problem. I’m happy with the way I am. I have to say he does go to work and does his job well, but they get the best of him. I get the leftovers, and that is not fair. I’ve seen a very good therapist through the years, and she has told me it will never be fair to me as long as I’m in this relationship. It is not his fault he has ADD, but it is his fault if he chooses not to do something about it. My husband is seeing a phenomenal therapist. Every word out of this man’s mouth is gold. I even was invited to attend a session. My husband can’t get out of his own head. He has spent his life assessing everything, but never gets it out of his head and onto paper or into the real world. He takes medication. He doesn’t want to do anything but sit and watch TV when he’s home. I have to push to go out. I handle our lives, and I have come to resent it. He lives in a life I take care, rent free, and I am just exhausted. I pay all the bills, do the cleaning, the groceries, the cooking, deal with the house, with any contractor that has to come here, with any thing at all that has to happen in our lives. I can’t make him understand how exhausting and unfair this is. As you said, intimacy is a real issue, and has been for a lot of the marriage. We have been to counseling together. In the beginning he was all over me, but through the years sex has been a constant battle. It is almost non existent, and he knows this is not okay with me, but he still does nothing about it. This has been a battle ground for the bulk of the marriage. It makes you feel unloved and unwanted. He wants change, but does nothing to achieve that. I hear you and I hope some part of this helps.

  • #122709

    R2
    Participant

    It’s so unfair to comment on someone elses’s marriage. So I won’t.

    I will instead note that ADHD is a neurological difference that often doesn’t need curing. Usually it’s the damage done by bullying and negativity that needs curing.

    Usually the abusers are completely convinced they are morally in the right and the ADHD person is evil. It starts early: daycare for my kid.

    I believe that people with ADHD do not need to be made normal but to be give the tools to fight with prejudice and thrive.

    I am not happy with the moralising tone of these posts. I cannot comment on their tragic circumstances but constant negativity is very harmful, paralysing even.

    • #122710

      R2
      Participant

      It is worth looking at the way that a school environment is set up , not to treat the ADHD person as a child but to harmonise your styles to reduce stress there’s lots of resources on this site.

      You may also want to look at how to behave around trauma to avoid deepening injuries.

  • #122718

    Dizzy
    Participant

    R2, there’s little doubt that us adult ADHD men can be difficult to live with,
    and although reading some of the above hurts a bit, it’s coming from the hearts of
    those on the other side…the people who love us, and just want make our
    lives better. They cause us no harm by sharing their feelings.

    Been divorced three times, and married four. My Queen and I have been married
    17 years now, and it’s only getting better with age. I call her my Queen because she’s
    likely the only woman in the world that loves me, even with all my flaws… 🙂

    • #122787

      R2
      Participant

      You’ve got a great story Dizzy. And you’ve set a great example of owning mistakes. I agree this must be done. I’ve done my share as well. Non-ADHD spouses also need to take your example on board.

      I see my kid being stomped on by teachers who believe they’re doing the right thing. And then read the same level of ignorance in some these posts. They’re not offering any solutions. Not showing respect for natural ADHD characteristics or practices like these examples:

      1) Messes : leaving things out to aid memory.
      2) Procrastination : last minute energy
      3) Emotionally absent : hyper-focus, the greatest ability ever!

      Non-ADHD spouses can be abusive when they don’t understand. I say there’s a duty for them to get educated. And to differentiate symptoms of depression like loss of interest in once enjoyable things, loss of confidence, feelings of inadequacy or doom.

      It’s worth people checking to see if they’re a teapot calling the kettle black. You know, who is abusing who? Check to see how much of the blame should they own.

      I’m sure that will sting if they can really do the heart work required. But it will be hard for them to open up because the dominant neurology supports most of their perspectives. They may not feel they have to do the work.

      It makes me angry when teachers don’t think they have to do their work for my kid and blame him for their lack of effort. I think the same thing applies in a marriage.

  • #122732

    SteveG67
    Participant

    Hello there
    I’m Steve. I feel as though this is a reflection of my current situation.
    I was diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive) when I was 40, 12 years ago. I had functioned as a Manager / Matron in NHS mental health services. I was diagnosed after starting my first PGDIP; I struggled with reading,concentration, planning etc.
    I found that over the time I have struggled to cope as the workload pressures in the NHS increased and smart technology / internet served as real distractions. I ended up getting into trouble a few times for missed deadlines and the quality of my work when ny meds stopped working. I ended up on long-term sick with depression a few times.
    2 years ago, after 31 years with the NHS, I took voluntary early retirement to study to be a CBT therapist. The course was supposed to be a 1 year full time programme. I’ve struggled throughout this course, academically. Clinically I’ve had great outcomes with my clients.
    My husband, who I have been with for 21 years, left me 3 months ago as he was fed up with my broken promises that have led to us being in financial trouble. There were other reasons,but mostly it was about my ADHD and the perception that it is an excuse to hide behind.
    The good news is that my final will be submitted before the final deadline next week. It would be done before the end of the weekend if I hadn’t become distracted and did something irrelevant for the last six hours.
    Nevertheless it will be done and I should be qualified 2 weeks later. I have been practicing as a therapist for a month, charging student rates, and have built a small caseload specialising in working with adults with ADHD. The clinical work really focuses me; it’s the dreary theory / research reading that has been my issue.
    I’ve also got a part-time job, doing something different, starting next month, which is good news.
    My husband is moving back home tomorrow. I’ve told him that I won’t be made to feel bad about my ADHD by him or anyone else, I do that to myself on a regular basis; I told him that if he wants to be with me he needs to work out how to support me and, if he does. I’ll be making every effort to stop being defined by this bloody awful disorder.
    The thing that helped was reading a book called ‘Smart but Stuck’ by Thomas Brown, that explains adult ADHD really clearly and the science behind what we di or don’t do. It’s really interesting and something I recommend to my clients.
    I know I’ve withered on, but just wanted to share my experience with people.its good to know that I’m not alone.

  • #122786

    R2
    Participant

    Good story Steve!

  • #122793

    LoriR
    Participant

    As far as moralizing and abusing–yes, I do feel great regret at my judging him by my own standards, and my inability to cope.

    But don’t you think we’re being abused too? Doing all the housework, cooking, and household paperwork, finally hiring tradesmen to do what our loved one promised many times to do “tomorrow,” going to events by ourselves because he got distracted at the last minute, being denied sex for months on end. . . .

    And being stymied in our attempts to hold it all together. It’s impossible to be realistic about anything because he keeps saying he WILL do this or that. So you just give up and become cynical.

    He was a truly lovely person without a mean bone in his body, and a brilliant conversationalist. I miss him very much, but I had to leave for my own sanity.

    I wish I had known about ADHD from the start. There is a lot of information out there about the ADHD brain, and many resources for non-ADHD partners. The person with ADHD should be willing to change a few things too, which is not always the case.

    However, I don’t know if we ever could have made it. Near the end he told me he needs “kink” in order to enjoy sex, because vanilla sex can’t hold his attention for long enough to complete the act. Major incompatibility there!

    And we had quite different ideas of what makes a happy home. I prefer peace and privacy, whereas he wants lots of people around.

  • #122796

    R2
    Participant

    LoriR

    I would take the analysis back to the innocent child before analysing the adult.

    CHILD. Parents, teachers and other responsible people need to change how they do things to allow an ADHD person to thrive and care for themselves. These adults also need to be responsible for the injuries they inflict.

    ADULT. If there are spinning-off injuries due to life in a neurotypical world they need to be treated differently than ADHD. Neurotypicals can get those injuries too so they’re not ADHD.

    – Addictions (substance, porn, shopping, Pokémon)
    – Depression (lack of joy, lack of interest, memory loss, lack of follow though)
    – Anxiety (fear of starting things, performance anxiety, social anxiety)
    – just a few examples.

    These injuries need to be cared for like any person. And any missing life skills need to learned.

    But I don’t like seeing a huge list of stories that paint ADHD as the injuries inflicted by the neurotypical world. One long horrible story is enough otherwise it amounts to vilification of a minority. I call them “I’m not prejudiced but…” stories. People need to offer understanding and solutions.

    I’m a parent defending my kid from the future. And feeling for these poor people’s ruined lives of either neurological persuasion. This conversation could be on here 15 years into the future defining ADHD people as kinky, lazy, selfish, poor providers. If someone doesn’t speak up then it will take on an air of truthiness.

    To sum up.

    1. ADHD talents are amazing and should not be thwarted
    2. ADHD people need to learn life skills just like anyone and be responsible when they hurt others just like anyone
    3. ADHD can receive a psychological injury like anyone.
    4. Psychological injuries are real injuries and deserve care and loyalty to enable healing
    5. Frustrated spouses need to educate themselves as to what is bad behaviour and what needs loyal care.
    6. Frustrated spouses need to be careful about creating a mass archive of prejudiced stories vilifying a minority neurotype
    7. ADHD people frequently change the world with their talents. Let’s do it again so our kids don’t have to endure this.

  • #122807

    R2
    Participant

    I agree with so much of what Steve said. However I would assert that ADHD is a genetic difference and not a disorder. (The disorder comes from injuries)

    Try substituting another genetic difference like hair colour, height, eye colour or race and see how well some of the posts pass a smell test.

  • #122550

    R2
    Participant

    I believe this thread was to help because the poster was feeling overwhelmed.

    Working with an ADHD child has taught me to pair ADHD and neurotypical motivations. If a house is set up for ADHD it may not look exactly like originally envisioned but it will work for everyone.

    ————
    Neurotypical motivation + ADHD motivation = successful technique
    ———-

    Cleaning + connecting emotionally = parallel work.

    Getting going + Avoid daunting tasks = Smaller goal.

    Organisation + Remembering = Leaving regularity used tools out as reminders

    Clean up messes + Simplify = Bins, less stuff, making sure cupboards are not puzzles.

    Apply for jobs + Simplify = Use an employment agency.

    Grow food + No digging or weeding = Lasagna Gardening + automatic watering

    I also like:

    Lean Methodology to do regular tasks right the first time

    Creative Bullet Journals to make sure nothing gets missed

    5S methodology to get organised

    PS I’m hearing a lot of “I’m not prejudiced but…”. It’d Be good to keep this positive.

    (A negative spouse can kill ADHD Strengths, even inflict a psychological injury)

    Your Free Guide to All the Best Parts of ADHD

    – hyperfocus
    – personality
    – ingenuity
    – risk taking
    – sponteneity
    – humour
    – romance
    – anything is possible
    – compassion
    – different perspective
    – motivating others

  • #123175

    John
    Participant

    Hi
    Iam new and some help getting started. I have an angry wife that’s overwhelmed of my forgetfulness. She is afraid I’ll heart myself driving. Once I was ironing and payed the ironed clothes on anCooktop and I accidentally turned one of the burners are burned a couple shirts.
    Cooktop accidentally turned one of the burners all burned a couple shirts Now she is fearful I’ll burn the house down.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  John.
  • #123308

    R2
    Participant

    I’m so sorry you have an angry wife.

    I just let my wife drive when she’s in the car because it’s better than getting yelled at.

    But I love 5s for standardising procédures to avoid mistakes. You can find it on google.

    Don’t beat yourself up. You’ll be fine.

  • #123289

    R2
    Participant

    Hey John,
    5s is a great way to introduce safety into repeated procedures like ironing and cooking.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/zGFbwaAHcaKdYuK9A

    Also I just let my wife drive when she’s in the car. It’s better than being yelled at the whole time from the passenger seat.

    • #123413

      John
      Participant

      Hi R2
      Thank you so much for your suggestions and thoughtful remarks.
      The 5S’s is a good structured mindfulness for addressing and completing task.
      Much appreciated,
      John ADHD Husband

  • #122623

    R2
    Participant

    Yep. I thought that post was a vilification of a minority. I feel sorry for her but. Just not enough to take the blame. Or even see that poor guy blamed for what seems to be massive depression, possibly induced by bullying and definitely not helped by negativity. I really think the post should be withdrawn.

  • #123414

    John
    Participant

    R2

    You may be right.

    I am expressing my feelings seeking help how I may change my thoughts and actions for a better attitude and relationship with my wife.

    Thanks
    Currently in therapy with my wife and psychiatrist.
    ADHD husband John

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