How to tell wife what I have discovered

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Relationships How to tell wife what I have discovered

Viewing 4 reply threads
  • Author
    • #194894

      Hi Everyone,

      I am 41 yrs old, I have been married for 13yrs, have 6 children (11, 9, 7, 5, 3, and 8 moths) we are very close to separating and getting divorced.

      My poor wife is exhausted, empty and feels she has nothing more to give. She is over my lies, my stories and her having to carry our family for this entire time while she gets none of her needs met. She constantly says I add no value and maybe contribute 5% to the marriage, kids and household.

      I was diagnosed as a child with ADD and my parents did not want to do anything about it. I would tell myself thank goodness they didn’t as I am so amazing and have this ability to create things, start things and this is my super power. Little did I know the destruction this super power can bring. The truth is I can start anything, create anything and pretty much do anything. The problem is that I cant normally finish it. This drives my wife mad. I also struggle being on time, I cover up my mistakes with lies, am distracted, etc etc

      I started taking concerta 8 weeks ago and my life has changed. I am more calm, more focussed. My wife actually commented that she could see the medication was making a big change in me. The people I work with have said its like I have woken up.

      Please can I ask for your help? My wife just left on a 3 week trip, 1 week prior to this she said she is done, she wants a divorce, she is happy when I leave the house and stressed when I walk back in. We have been having trouble and these ups and downs (not this bad) for maybe 11 of our 13yrs of marriage. Before she left I discovered all these articles, stories and it was as if I was reading about my own life and marriage. I needed to tell her. I asked for an hour with her which she agreed to. I sat across from her and explained what I had been reading and learning, I explained how sorry I was, I explained that I could now see why everytime I said I would change, it lasted 2 weeks and then back to normal.

      She listened, and then spoke. She said she is exhausted. She needs space. I need to respect what she is asking for and not beg or push her. She said she is hollow and that I should have zero expectations of her. She said she doesn’t have the energy or feel she owes me going to therapy any more after the work and therapy we have tried.

      Is it too late, does she think I am just trying to confuse her, sell to her and make up a story for her to stay? Thats what I feel she thought.

      How do I pass on this information so she can sit with it and read it from both side?

      I also feel broken. She constantly puts me down. Says I am hopeless and useless. I know I am not – I try my best and do add value. I am starting to think to myself – what could life be like with someone who see’s me for me. The me with ADD and the challenges, not someone in fairy land who I can fool. It hurts cause I think this person is her.

      She has also given up a lot, she doesn’t make time for friends, she doesn’t look after herself, she doesn’t do much for her own happiness. She needs to take responsibility of that part.

      We have 6 young kids, and I am an amazing father. I am so grateful for these kids. My wife and I don’t fight that much, now we ignore each other a lot. The kids I think will be completely shocked. I don’t even know how to go through the process of divorce with this many kids and with so many things happening in our lives.

      Don’t want to try and convince her but I do want her to at least read what I have read and realize I am not an insensitive monster. I am like most of the husbands in these forums with ADD….. At least I feel good, I am focussed, I am finishing things she has asked to have finished for years.

      Thank you for listening, not many people in my life understand, my parents are upset as they love me and say I should find someone who loves me for me, but I dont think its as simple as that…..

    • #194979
      Penny Williams

      Maybe ask her to read one of Melissa Orlov’s books on ADHD and Marriage before she gives up for good? Or a webinar replay with Melissa:

      Listen to “”My Partner Has ADHD?!” 5 Strategies for Living Happily After a Diagnosis” with Melissa Orlov

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

    • #195039

      Quote: “She has also given up a lot, she doesn’t make time for friends, she doesn’t look after herself, she doesn’t do much for her own happiness. She needs to take responsibility of that part.”

      Please understand what a tremendous load she has carried, to be pregnant and be up at night, to
      feed and care for all the hundreds of needs that many small children have, all as she cleaned and cooked and dealt with all the stresses that fell to her when you could not finish projects to follow through on something she needed you to do.

      You cannot imagine the bone weariness that some women have while pregnant and with a small baby. And then to do that year after year. You cannot imagine it unless maybe you have a physical condition that has similar effects. It takes a lot out of women.

      Now, if you have been, as you admit, not reliable to finish things, meaning she either has to live with the stress of it going undone, or she has to finish it for you, which is also stressful, on top of being tired and rearing children and all the other things women do to run a household, please give her the benefit of the doubt in seeing that finding the energy to do things for herself might be impossible.

      Can you imagine if she walked out the door today and you had to be solely responsible for all she did? No one to rely on? When exactly would you find the time for yourself? Please recognize that she felt wedged between her normal tasks and picking up yours.

      When she says she’s hollow, BELIEVE HER. When she says she needs space, BELIEVE HER. Give it to her. And in that space, work on the areas that mean the most to her.

      I agree with her – let her rest while you go to therapy. You work on you. She needs to recover from trying to catch all the balls when you dropped yours.

      This is only good for thought and certainly not emphatic advice: maybe tell her that after 6 months of you going to therapy alone, maybe then she could read the book. And maybe ask her what are her top two things she needs you to work on during those months.

      Does she have things to right? I’m sure she does. But she can’t even begin to do that until she starts to heal a bit. And please recognize that she really has carried more than you have. You might be a really great father (I don’t know as I don’t live with you), but even great fathers can leave a lot to the mother and never even realize it.

      I do not think she’s right to insult you. Can you look beyond that to the person she was before? Has she always insulted you? Or is this after years of feeling hollow and trying to get you to see? If so, then she’s speaking out of a deep exhaustion that says she’s poured out all of herself and you’ll never hear. This might be desperation. This might be a voice that tells her she has to save herself because she’s being wrung out like a rag. Is it true? She might feel so. And that’s what you’re fighting. How can you restore the feeling that you’re a team? It first has to start with some healing.

      She needs to breathe and grieve. You need to breathe and grieve. Right now, you’re likely hyperfocusing on her because you feel desperate to save it. If you keep putting her under the lens (instead of putting your symptoms under the lens), then she’s going to recoil further. Listen to her. I’m going to say it again: listen to her.

      One thing I would say with emphatic tones: tell her that you DO believe her. Tell her that you are listening without saying “yes but,” and that you will work to give her the space she needs.

      Because in the end, if you can’t hear her and understand that the fallout of unaddressed adhd symptoms has affected her so very deeply, then you’ll not only hurt this relationship further, but you’ll continue hurting every woman you’re ever with in the future.

      Right now, her exhaustion is affecting you, right? Then your adhd affects her. We all affect each other. There’s no escaping it.

      I agree with you – she needs to read the book. She needs to be able to have empathy for you and your struggles. But you’re gonna have to be the one who starts that path. You’re gonna have to show her that this isn’t just a more robust version of the two-week stints she’s seen before. She needs to see YOUR EMPATHY and your effort first. That is where she is.

      So meet her there.

    • #195041

      Thank you for being so honest and saying it how it is.

      Please always be this person. Its not even about giving advice, its about sharing how it feels and what hurts.

      I will give her the space. I don’t want to convince her as I know that would be me trying to control her and all she wants to know is that I can hear her and will honor her wishes.

      The part that is making me want to throw up is that – reading more and more and understanding the parent child dynamic, and everything else is the EXACT thing we have been falling over for years and years. I sat in front of her 3 days ago. I had pages and pages of things printed out, stories, examples, links to podcasts. I started crying and said – “this is what has been happening, this is our story” – I acknowledge all the pain and hurt and have not said at all there is anything that she needs to do. That will and could come in time.

      What I am trying to do is ask her, to listen, to read about what has been going on with out us being aware or conscious of it.

      If the medication had not had such an impact on me, and she had not commented, I would not have even tried to talk to her. I would have stood up – and told her I am so so sorry and she deserves more. She is the most amazing human I know.

      How can I ask her to listen to a podcast or read something? She is in quarantine in a hotel in Australia for the next 2 weeks then working in Australia for a week and then flying back to the USA. I don’t want to pressure her for a decision. But I want to push for her to see what I have seen in these pages and forums. This is so real it is scary. This is not me begging for another chance. Its my hope that while she recovers and heals she can understand that this ADD demon has been in our marriage all along.

      I take full responsibility for what I have done and for what I need to do. I also know this is not going to be a walk in the park and change in the next 24 hours.

      I just hope she is not so broken to see this information for what it is. She has girlfriends in her ear saying have some self respect, move on, blah blah, they don’t know this part of the story.

      Or should I just let her go, have her time, and what will be will be? I value your opinion because I cant see much perspective write now.

      Thank you

      • #195106

        Giving her space means letting her have these 3 weeks without you asking her to read or listen about adhd.

        I know, you’re bursting at the seams to have her hear you on this. Do you want her to be able to start trusting you again? Then honor her request. If you can’t do this thing, putting aside your need to tell her so that you can honor her need to recover a little, then she’s going to see this as more of you not following through, not being reliable.

        Don’t say “but.” This is what it means to give her space. Don’t chase her. Don’t repeat the same request again and again. Let her be.

    • #195095


      I’m the ADD husband, and I’m with Leah on this one. Your story resonates very much with my own. We’ll be married 28 yrs this summer – 2 awesome adult kids (22 & 19). I was diagnosed 19 yrs ago at age 35. Our marriage has been to the brink 3 times – even after medication. I thought Concerta would ‘fix this ADD thing’ – not realizing there were years of built up habits and behaviors that also had to be addressed before we could be ‘us’ again. My wife bore the brunt of so much herself – very similar to your situation. Even when I realized the consequences of my behavior, I couldn’t just wave it away because I finally felt ‘whole’. I had to do the work to make the significant changes in myself, THEN try to rebuild the relationship that we had.

      But I had to give her the space to grieve and heal, as well. While a lot of my hurt was self-inflicted, it also inflicted hurt on her. She cannot just ‘let that go’ because I felt new and whole. I’m not always sure why she didn’t leave – but I’m grateful that she loved me enough to stay.

      Give you wife the space she needs. That being said, continue to tell her how much you do love her – and that you want her to heal as well. You also need to find the therapeutic structures that help you become and maintain that better version of yourself. But also know that ADD doesn’t ‘go away’. This is a life long challenge. I still make many of those same missteps; I’m just in a better position to deal with them in the moment, and in our relationship (including the underlying/comorbid challenges). If and when she’s ready, then you both can begin the process of rebuilding the relationship together – as partners.

      I hope this helps from someone who’s lived this on the ADD side. I’m pulling for you/wishing you well on this – and sending you both all positive energy. I check these boards regularly, and hope to hear how you’re doing…


Viewing 4 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.