November 19, 2018 at 10:20 am #104017
My husband got diagnosed with ADD just a couple months ago. At first I was relieved that I wasn’t the cause of his distance, but since our ADD coach/counselor informed me that medication can’t help with hyperfocus (and often makes it worse) I’ve been starting to despair.
I really miss the man I married. I hate seeing my husband around other people because he is able to give them more focus than I get. He’s been able to give me his undivided attention on 1 mere night over the last year. A friend told me I should take it as a compliment that he doesn’t feel like he needs to try so hard with me because it means he feels the most comfortable with me, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like a compliment. It feels like everyone else’s feelings and well-being is more important to him than mine is.
When he can’t focus on me we can’t connect. And when we don’t connect I don’t feel attracted to him. Frankly, I don’t feel like I’m in love with him when we go MONTHS without connecting.
It’s so hard to accept that the man I love and married is mostly gone. As it’s hard to want to spend my life with this guy who can’t give me the time of day. And it’s hard to face the fact that if I have to leave, then the man I married, who is still in there, doesn’t deserve to have his heart broken because he has ADD. 😢
November 19, 2018 at 11:57 am #104039
Relationships with ADHD in the mix are tough! YOu simply can’t have neurotypical relationship expectations. These articles offer some solid strategies:
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
November 27, 2018 at 3:22 am #104449
This has been such a helpful book – my husband has hyper focused ADHD. He is a workaholic, and he gets so overtired he comes home as exhausted and upset as a child – totally overwhelmed, can hardly move properly, can’t organise food to eat…extremely irritable. This caused huge stress for us. But I have been reading and learning about hyperfocused ADD and decided to stop trying to explain how he is hurting me to him straight on – it just triggers his arguing tendencies and then he gets upset with himself. Instead, working with him on taking care of his diet, exercise regime etc and requiring him to make some changes too – reminding him not to be ashamed of how the ADD makes him behave and put that energy to adapting behaviours. It takes a lot of encouragement and not everyone wants to do that emotional labour, it’s a fine line between enabling, empowering someone to change through supporting them and coddling – especially if you feel like you’ve been ignored – which I have felt for many years and yep, it’s really hard. BUT. I decide to stay here and be with him because he is 100% worth it, I am not letting something he can’t help (but is working on) take away our closeness but for sure, I have had a couple of the illusions and glamour of love knocked apart. Who they are when you fall in love with them is a whole other person…but then I have changed too, and their need for support can feel like another child. I have PTSD so, we both have to care for each other which keeps the balance of caring and also being romantically involved somewhat steady. I think that’s important. We’re not here to parent our partners.
November 26, 2018 at 10:15 am #104291
Loving my Adhd Husband and SonParticipant
I remember being smothered by my husband the fist year we were together. He focused on me every minute. I loved it. Then it changed. We were both career focused and we didn’t notice we didn’t give each other the time to connect. Then we started our family and that is when I felt really distant from my husband. He focused on our kids to a fault. Any child would of loved it and frankly, our first son needed it. We found out last year our son had ADHD, and subsequently that is how we realized my husband had it too! My husband realized he had a lot of the same challenges as a child and probably as an adult too. However, this revelation has been a huge help for me. Just learning what adhd is has helped me love my husband and son more.
Patience is a trait I have. I am blessed because without it I don’t think anyone can handle the outbursts and sometimes cruel thoughts my son says. My husband has learned to control most of his thoughts but not all. My husband has never been medicated and has learned great coping skills. We explain to our son how successful a person can be by knowing he has a daddy that is successful living a life with adhd. But back to get that attention you need! I get it. You are going to have to schedule your date nights. Leave him love notes and he will recipricate. He needs reminding all the time! It isn’t easy to love a spouse with adhd, but god only gives us what we can handle. I hope this helps. Love is the foundation and no I don’t think love is all it takes, but love and all your wonderful traits will help you! Prior to knowing that my husband had adhd, I would go crazy! Now I am aware of his typical behavoriora that the average person doesn’t do. Educating myself about adhd was the best thing for our marriage.
November 26, 2018 at 10:36 am #104299
I believe you can have SOME neurotypical expectations of an ADHD relationship. They just have to be obtained via different methods than normal. I am also a husband with ADHD who was diagnosed at age 37. Hyper-focus for me, and most likely your husband, is not about people, places or things. It is entirely about brain stimulation. Newness, as in a new relationship or a new electronic device or conversation with new people, causes changes in our brains that keep us focused on whatever it is that caused that brain stimulation.
One of the tricks my wife and I use to keep our relationship causing that brain stimulation is to share the things that cause brain stimulation for me. That way it allows us to keep our relationship somewhat “new”. You might try a date night once a week, going out to do something that both of you love to do. That would give him brain stimulation while simultaneously removing him from all the things at home that might be pulling him in another direction.
I am glad you are both seeing a counselor as some men with this issue won’t seek help for it. It may take some time but I believe if you are both committed to making things work it will happen. Seeing a therapist and reading both of the books that were recommended above were invaluable to my wife and I during the process.
November 26, 2018 at 11:22 am #104309
The man you married also had ADHD. That hasn’t changed. I’m not sure how long you’ve been together, but either his behaviour has changed or your perception of his behaviour changed. Perhaps he is more comfortable and doesn’t “try” as hard. My question is when is it you feel the need to be the center of his focus? Is it in social situations? If so you need to ask yourself why you feel that way? Most social occasions are just that…social. The focus shouldn’t be on you. Just as yours needn’t be on him. If he is never home and you feel left out, then schedule your own things to do. You should have your own interests that don’t require his attention. But you should also have at least one weekly date night with just the two of you, alternating who chooses what to do. That is the time for the two of you to connect. QIf he ignores you then or worse, refuses to go, then you have an issue.
November 26, 2018 at 11:28 am #104310
I’ve been that guy. I can’t justify his actions or attitude, but maybe I can explain a few things. It took me over 6 decades to discover and get diagnosed w/ ADHD. For me, that meant 3 marriages, 3 bankruptcies, numerous jobs, and relationships. And, the feeling that I was just crazy for not being able to relate to others view of the world.
1. A diagnosis is not a cure,
2. Pills are not skills. If he were diagnosed with diabetes and just started taking insulin without finding ways to change his lifestyle and cope with his disease, he might stabilize but never get better.
3. With knowledge comes responsibility. Being told you have ADHD requires a personal knowledge of what that means to you and how it affects you. And then it is necessary to find new coping skills to function in a way that others don’t feel “run over” or ignored by you. Hyperfocus is only a part of ADHD, there are other symptoms, maybe less apparent, that help reinforce it.
4. Counselors/coaches/therapists can help a lot, but we have spent years developing coping skills that don’t change overnight. This is partly due to the fact that we don’t want to give up the “dopamine highs” that we have come to expect in certain situations.
I was diagnosed only a few months ago and haven’t come to terms with all of the aspects of how I am affected. Some things are trial and error and some things work quickly. Life is a continuing process.
If he is motivated to work on the problems and understands the consequences of not working on them, and you can help him, then things might go well. And, it can be an adventure for both of you.
Don’t let yourself become a martyr. You have a life too. With patience and courage, things become possible.
Best of luck to you.
November 26, 2018 at 12:18 pm #104317
The comment about newness as a stimulant should be one you really listen to because you’re getting stuck in a victim position, taking his behavior with strangers as a personal affront against you. That’s a hard place to climb out of,
and you may need professional help with it or find a support group for A.D.D. spouses. Let me tell you as a person with A.D.D., the chemistry of it is very strong. This morning, two men who work in my apt building came in to winterize the A/C units. While they were here, I made the bed, started a soup, fixed a good breakfast, and opened some of my mail. The minute they left, I felt like a marionette dropped by a puppeteer. My energy disappeared and I haven’t done anything at all challenging since! That’s an A.D.D. trait (called doubling) that I can’t get control over. That’s not the problem you’re raising I know, but it’s just to say we who suffer with A.D.D. may be loving, intelligent human beings, but our A.D.D. is very powerful and something we struggle with every day. If your husband is picking up on your feeling that he’s failing you, it can trigger self-loathing and an avoidance of a too-challenging task, in this case, your demands (spoken or unspoken). You need to have a conversation with him about how you’re feeling, but make sure you know going in that it’s most likely not deliberate, conscious or “his fault.” Use “I” statements only …no blame. The date idea is a good one, but you’ll have to deal with your growing anger-monster first!
November 26, 2018 at 12:38 pm #104303
I have ADHD and my wife does not. We recently did an interview on ADHD reWired (https://overcast.fm/+BmasVmGrQ), and I think it may help in this area as we do talk about what works for us.
In all honesty, relationships are so subjective, but there is one thing that makes marriages work better than anything else: communication. I don’t doubt that you have tried this approach already, not at all.
My wife tried communicating her needs (similar to yours) to me for years, and it has taken many years to hear them and follow through (on many, not all) of her needs. I love her dearly, and she made me aware of what was bothering her. I will admit it was an ego-denter, for sure, but I knew I had to do something after so many of the same conversation. So, I did, and continue to do so, and we remain happily married. [Example: I would often think about positive traits of my wife, but I rarely said them; I started, and I continue to do this, and it has helped a lot.] If she had not said something to me, and made sure I wholeheartedly understood, we likely would not be in a happy marriage.
Recommendation: Maybe give him one thing that would mean the world to you, small or medium, and see how he responds. It is very much important that he hears you, and it can be overwhelming for him to hear it, so starting smaller may help.
And again, it’s all subjective, and there are a great deal of emotions and nuances in relationships, but I hope something in my response (or on the podcast) helps you out. I wish you both the best.
November 26, 2018 at 2:11 pm #104356
Thank you all for your advice and perspectives.
I’ve only seen “the man I married” one night in the last year (possibly longer). Call me demanding and needy, but I’d like to see him more often than that. We’ve tried date nights, but he admits he’s only really half “there” and I can sure feel it. Before he got diagnosed we tried alternating who initiated date nights and he never did. On that one night that he was his old self (which was recent) neither of us have been able to identify why he was more present. Many of his family and friends have told me they miss him, too, and that they’ve noticed both his distraction and out-of-character behavior. His mom cries most holidays since he’s stopped buying his family gifts or even returning their calls/emails/texts.
It wasn’t until after I posted the original post that I realized we have an additional problem to my husband’s ADHD: I think he might be a workaholic. His entire mindframe revolves around work. He recently called his former boss “good people,” which I found confusing since I know he steals books from the library and cheats on his wife – then I realized being a “good” person is all about work to him. He’s “good people” because he cares about the business my husband used to run.
I know the ADHD brain loves novelty and I’ll never be able to excite his brain like I did, but I find it very painful when the women he used to work with can excite his brain in a way that I can’t – and that this results in him choosing to hurt my feelings, rather than hurt theirs. For example, he left the house to meet a former female co-worker while I was sleeping (at 2 A.M.) without waking me to tell me he was leaving (among other things I posted about here).
I’m sorry, but it’s hard not to take the symptoms personally after he said he doesn’t think he should need to give me “quality time” (meaning his full focus) when I have so much “quantity time” with him. And it hurts the he forgets to buy me gifts while he buys gifts for his co-workers.
I wish there was a forum for workaholic’s family- so far all I’ve found is bi-monthly over-the-phone meetings. The combination of the two is confusing. The only person I’ve talked to who’s been helpful is his sister, who also suffers from both ADHD and addictions.
Thank you all, again, for taking time to read my story and share your own.
November 26, 2018 at 3:54 pm #104380
It’s not add possibly. Your husband may be a narcissist
See these YouTube videos and psychology today that is just one of the many signs:
Knowing the Narcissist
Just to make sure. Know all the facts and follow your gut
November 26, 2018 at 4:06 pm #104382
Another possibility is shame issues.
Breath meditation helps train brains (ADD or neuro-typical) to be present. Try doing breath meditation together (a class may help).
Try reading a book that you are both interested in together. Perhaps a book on ADD in relationships.
Keep at it, and good luck!
November 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm #104385
I was very scared that my husband might have a personality disorder because they run in my family. After a lot of thought and talks with my therapist I came to realize my husband doesn’t use fear, obligation, or guilt (the cornerstones of emotional abuse and personality disorders), but, rather, he’s controlled by them, himself. A couple of his former co-workers thought his boss was a sociopath and I don’t doubt the boss has a personality disorder, but it’s more like my husband’s a codependent/enabler. Everyone who knows my husband agrees it’s very unlike him to be so inappropriate and calloused. But, regardless, it’s really hard to trust that he won’t continue to place the requests of those who use fear, obligation, and guilt over mine (which he admitted he does because he trusts I won’t react as irrationally as those people will).
I’d love for us to read a book together, especially about mindfulness and meditation since its helped me immensely with my anxiety. I’ll keep that in mind!
Right now I’m going by our therapist’s recommendations and hoping it gets through to him!
November 26, 2018 at 4:55 pm #104398
My wife actually did this when we went out for our anniversary!
We went to a wine tasting event that benefited our kids’ schools. There was one table with whiskey. I had gone there before and tried one of them. I returned to the whiskey table with my wife. The representative at the table offered me the whiskey I had already tried and I told her that I had. She then gave me a sample of another whiskey she had. So it was clear that I was there.
My wife and the whiskey representative started talking about how we homebrew beer. I tried to contribute to the conversation. I remember that I wanted to point out that whiskey is to beer as brandy is to wine. I could not get a word in edgewise because my wife kept talking over me.
A little while later, I told my wife I was frustrated because she kept interrupting me whenever I tried to speak. Her response? She LITERALLY told me that she not noticed I was there! On our anniversary date! Despite the fact that I interacted with the whiskey company representative before my wife started monopolizing the conversation.
November 26, 2018 at 5:35 pm #104418
I’m going to echo others and say that maybe this isn’t just about ADHD.
Maybe he’s also depressed. Maybe there’s some unmet he hasn’t been able to express to you (maybe he hasn’t realized what it is yet). Maybe he doesn’t raise that it’s normal for your interest in a person to change and that you have to intentionally do things to re-kindle it. Maybe he does have a personality disorder or still something else… But I definitely feel like this isn’t just about adhd.
I’m also going to second the recommendations that you work on your communication with each other.
A good book to read for this is “non-violent communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. It explains how to understand your needs and the needs of others and communicate about them with empathy.
I might also recommend the idea of couples counseling here. My husband and I have done it before and it has done wonders for our ability to communicate and our willingness to communicate difficult things with each other to have a skilled professional to consult and meditate when needed.
I Also want to recommend a book called “the five love languages.” it may be that your husband is trying to express his love for you in a “language” you that isn’t meaningful for you (and vice versa). This book was also very helpful for me to understand how to give my husband what he needs in a way that’s fulfilling for him.
November 26, 2018 at 10:52 pm #104429
PLEASE make sure you know if you are dealing with some kind of personality disorder. If this is what you’re dealing with, you will need support in breaking free as these relationships are extremely emotionally abusive. You mentioned your husband left the house at 2:00 am to meet a female colleague, and I cannot imagine how this could be appropriate in any way- huge red flag. If he’s not intentionally torturing you, and is indeed experiencing his own emotional pain and confusion, he still needs very serious help, considering many of his choices you’ve mentioned. Is he willing to get help? You love him, but do you need to hang on to such an unhealthy situation? Might you be happier to separate and see how things work out? Maybe that would let him know he’s gone too far and motivate a change in behavior, or alternatively, this may reveal he is not capable (or willing) of pulling his weight in the relationship.
I can feel this pain you are expressing, because in a different way I’ve certainly been there. I have been in 2 major relationships with narcissists (fathers of my children, in fact)- one, with milder narcissism, also had ADHD- I was ignored and emotionally abused here but his intent was not premeditated, more innocent. Divorce was painful at first, but an enormous relief in the long run, and now we are on quite friendly terms. In the other relationship (much more brief), I was with an extreme narcissist who was very likely psychopathic- there was gaslighting, a complicated web of lies, attempts to isolate me from family and friends, intentional emotional torture, and MANY more classic signs… I will never put myself in a relationship like that again.
I agree there’s much to consider, such as depression, as you’ve mentioned how he’s distancing himself from family, as well as your marriage, and acting “out-of-character.” I have also read “Non-Violent Communication” by Rosenburg, but it is hard to communicate with someone who is becoming more and more distant, if that’s the case. If he has one of several personality disorders, such as narcissism, then he just won’t care to participate in trying to empathize or communicate compassionately. But if he just has ADHD, depression, anger or self-esteem issues, or just lacks effective social/communication skills, then the book could be enlightening.
I also have ADHD. I can be affectionate and attentive in relationships, but can also fall into being a workaholic due to perfectionism and difficulty in transitioning attention from one thing to another. This caused issues with my younger daughter (my oldest is grown)- because I’ve made her wait on me way too many times when I couldn’t pull myself away from my work. Well, one of my biggest fears has been that she might take after he father, so I have bent over backwards to teach her to be empathetic towards others. When I learned that “parents who work too much and don’t show their children that they enjoy spending time with them” could be a contributing factor to narcissistic personality development, YOU BET I made up my mind to make every effort to prioritize spending quality time with my daughter!
That’s my story- a bit rambling, perhaps not exactly helpful, but I can relate to what you’re dealing with on various levels. I really do wish you luck!!
November 26, 2018 at 11:32 pm #104431
trbell – I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story! I’ve recently come to realize my grandmother, sister, and ex-boyfriend (who was accused of rape by 6 women I know of) all have Antisocial Personality Disorder (AKA “sociopath”) and many people in my family (including my mother) are codependents/enablers.
I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am that you’ve also endured the hell of being emotionally abused. Having spent so many years enduring the hell of my sister and a mere 1 year of dating (then 4 years being stalked by) my ex I can only imagine how difficult divorce from a narcissist may be! Have you looked at the Out of the FOG website and forum? I’ve find it immensely helpful.
The thing is that I’ve struggled with the worry that I married someone like my sister. It’s only recently, though therapy, that I became assured that I didn’t. The fact that you jumped to the same concern actually brings me so much solace! I’m relieved to know others would have equally as much difficulty feeling assured their spouse doesnt have a personality disorder. It makes me even more resolved in setting the boundaries I need to set to feel assured this is the case.
The thing with my husband is that he’s been VERY receptive to the boundaries I’ve set in the past. The instances I’ve described have spanned the past 4 years and outside of them he’s never been anything like a narcissist/sociopath. On top of that, when he’s confronted with my emotional reaction to those actions (which has only happened in therapy because I otherwise hide my crying from anyone and everyone) he’s been quite contrite.
Despite all that, I’m not sure if I’m willing to commit myself to reliving the pain of his odd/inappropriate/confusing behaviors. Understanding the reason he does these things might help me forgive him, but it won’t make them hurt any less. I feel like in order to stay in those marriage I have to choose between requesting he temporarily cut contact with everyone from the sociopath business or accept that I can’t let myself trust him to make my well-being a higher priority than theirs.
Thank you all, again, for sharing! This forum has been so helpful to me this week! 💜
November 27, 2018 at 12:18 am #104433
I’ve noticed that I do this too. Especially when meeting new people, like all the other parents I’ve been meeting either at birthday parties or something. For me it comes from social anxiety, and being a little over stimulated from meeting some one new. I’m otherwise alone quite a bit. After while I realize I’ve been so focused on paying attention to this other person, working hard to be my best version of me, and also working hard to make enough eye contact and think before I speak, etc, that I realize I’ve lost tract of my child and what they are doing, usually getting injured off to the side.
November 27, 2018 at 2:19 am #104440
If your husband was recently diagnosed, it may take some time for him to deal with his symptoms and really be able to hear you. I find that a lot of ADHD people (myself included) kind of live in our own little worlds and have trouble understanding things outside our own perception. My husband can tell me I’m doing something annoying 50 times, but until I notice myself doing it, it doesn’t register. I don’t mean to ignore him. It LITERALLY doesn’t register. Have you tried going to counseling with him? Sometimes hearing someone else say it (or at least validate what you’re saying) is enough to jolt that attention.
My husband and I both have ADHD, and we went through a patch where we were both just disinterested. Life was hard, we had our own careers going on, we were bored with each other. Rather than split up over disinterest (which we actually considered), we decided to find new ways to keep things interesting. It took a few months, but it worked for us. We try to take day trips whenever we can to new places. We go to festivals, and try to go to a new restaurant for date night. Just being in a new environment is mentally stimulating enough to get us more focused on our conversation. Something new or weird. Random bits of novel excitement to jolt that adrenaline.
That’s what the work is. Just searching for that next jolt of adrenaline to up those dopamine transmitters. ADHD workaholics are adrenaline addicts. Adrenaline does something to their brains similar to medication. The work gives them a sense of urgency and purpose, an edge, and makes them feel excited and proud, something ADHDers don’t get very often. Exercise does this, too. If he can work on pulling himself away (REALLY away, physically AND mentally), and you can provide some of this in little ways, maybe it’ll help.
I wouldn’t recommend putting yourself out there by planning a big exciting date for him. He’s probably so used to being distracted he wouldn’t notice and you’d be disappointed. (Been there, done that.) But maybe, while working with a therapist on one big thing you’d like him to change, you could slowly introduce new exciting things into your relationship. Like a motorcycle! (Don’t do that. impulsive ADD brain talking.)
Giving him an ultimatum may not work any better than it would with any other addict. He’s so used to going to work to get his purpose/adrenaline hits that he won’t know how to function without it. But he definitely needs to unplug from work if he’s ever going to have any kind of life outside of it. Maybe an extended vacation? No cell phone or computer (for him)? We went on a cruise. 🙂
It was natural for us because we both have ADHD and understood what it felt like to be so bored in our relationship. It felt REALLY personal at first. What do you mean you’re bored??? For ADHD, bored means familiar. Bored means comfortable. Bored means safe. Which are all REALLY GOOD things to have in a long-term relationship, they just don’t keep the ADHD brain from being distracted. He’s got to figure out how to manage his brain. That’s his responsibility. But, if you want him to be more attentive, you kind of have to hit him over the head to snap him out of it.
I’ve often felt like I miss the man I married. My husband has changed a lot over the years. So have I. We’re still familiar, comfortable, and safe. But with the new experiences we’ve added to our memory bank, I kind of like this new guy. On the other side of the mess, I’d marry him again.
I hope this is helpful, and I hope it give you hope. Best of luck to you both. <3
November 27, 2018 at 8:03 pm #104518
My mother-in-law once reminded me to remember the man I married & think about whether he had really changed or not. He did hyper focus on me while we were dating and responded much like the other spouses described with ADHD. When we talked about it he assured me that he loved me even more and it took me years to take his word for it rather than feel that he was intentionally neglecting me.
It was incredibly difficult but I needed to be the one to initiate almost all our activities together in addition to doing many other tasks around the home.
There was a time and I strongly considered leaving him long enough for him to grow up. Now I am glad I stuck it out. He developed cancer a few years after that and we were together a lot during that period of time. Being so sick opened to his eyes to many things and, because of necessity, he became my best companion again. I think it was in part because of the intensity of it and the realization that his days were limited, in somewhat the same way that a deadline seems to help with the tendency to procrastinate.
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