Feeling overwhelmed by my spouse's ADHD

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Spouses & Loved Ones Feeling overwhelmed by my spouse's ADHD

This topic contains 9 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  leftie22 3 days, 4 hours ago.

  • Author
  • #121426



    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


    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

    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

  • #121479


    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.

  • #121533



    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…


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


    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

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

  • #121835


    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

    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


    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


    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


    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!

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.