February 13, 2019 at 7:58 am #109122
I am in my 50’s and recently diagnosed with ADHD and ASpergers . I came to the realisation that I had ADHD very late – our daughter has aspergers and it took me a long while to really get my head around it as I thought a lot of the so called odd behaviour was normal. Chuck in my own adamance, arrogance and black and white thinking and I was a horribly neglectful partner and parent. At the time I really didnt understand this I thought I was attentive in so far as I did what I was asked. But in hindsight I never asked any questions, initiated anything or took any kind of responsibility for our family. We ended up in a parent child dyanmic which is miserable. Professionally I was fine good job etc…
In recent months I have realised my role in all of this and my wife who is depressed and anxious was increasingly upset and hurt as it became apparent that I had effectively conned her over the past 20+ years. I had lied about money, covered up mistakes, all the usual ADHD coverups and maladaptive behaviours.
I have read Melissa Orlov book and Gina Pera’s but to no avail I could not get my wife to understand that I was truly sorry and took full responsibility for my actions. In an attempt to finally resolve this I found survey results on the FAAAS website which outline how NT spouses felt as a result of living with an ADHD/Autistic husband. http://www.faaas.org/assets/effects-of-differing-neuro-devt-levels-on-nt-asd-adult-relationships-english.pdf
I thought it would be cathartic and resolve the accusation I was only interested in getting away with it again, although deep down I knew it was potentially terminal. All it has done is confirmed her fears about me. She doesn’t buy that I wasnt aware of what I was doing and that essentially i am a mean, selfish and hurtful individual who only cares for himself.
In short I think I have killed my marriage, she basically doesnt like me and thinks she is a fool for ever lasting this long with me.
I’m not sure what I am asking here but should I persevere or is the right thing to give her space and see if she comes round maybe.
April 16, 2019 at 10:55 am #114137judiroParticipant
Sorry that you haven’t had any replies to your post. Good for you for coming around to all the realizations that you have recently had. You’re going in a good direction! No matter what, keep going. Your marriage might or might not survive. Either way, you should continue on your journey of self-discovery and of taking responsibility.
What will probably be hardest for you to understand, is why your wife isn’t as inspired by your A-ha! moment. Remember, she has been living and dealing with you prior to your a-ha moment. In fact, she has probably been trying to get you to realize some things about yourself that she could see, but you couldn’t from deep in denial. The fact that you have had a A-ha! moment, won’t magically erase everything she’s dealt with over the last 20+ years. For you, it may have been like someone flipped a switch and turned on the lights, suddenly you can see everything in crystal clear, sparkling detail. And I think that the tendency is for you to want to quickly move on now that you can see. It will not be that easy for her. I don’t know if it will be impossible for her, but it won’t be like flipping a switch.
Have you sought any couples counseling with someone familiar with how ADHD affects relationships? If not, you might consider it. It can be very helpful to have an informed guide to help you two repair and rebuild. Someone who will have compassion for what both of you have been/are experiencing, and who will help you through without judgment. You should try this even if you end up separating. Because you both will benefit from the healing, regardless of whether you end up together in the end.
You will have to give her time to see whether she can forgive and move forward, and you’ll have to give her time to trust this “new” you. Remember, her experience of you is 20+ of dysfunction and denial. You want her to believe in the change, but it will take her a long time to unlearn all the old ways and trust that this new reality is going to last.
One thing that stood out to me from your post was where you said, “she doesn’t buy that I wasn’t aware of what I was doing…” I don’t think you were totally unaware either, you were probably in denial. Denial is an active process, and it implies awareness on some level. Also, you probably aren’t going to get far with her if you try to suggest that you were not aware of what you were doing, that’s not taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for what you were doing will probably be a better approach. Don’t say “I didn’t know what I was doing” and don’t blame your ADHD/Asperger’s. Taking responsibility would sound more like, “I was deep in denial, and I know you tried to bring things to my attention, but I was in denial and protecting myself from having to acknowledge that I have this because acknowledging it would have made me feel defective. And in the process I hurt you deeply. I was not trying to hurt you, but I did, and that is on me. I see that now, and I am going to get to work on trying to repair the damage, and earning back your trust. Are you willing to try working through this with me?” Assuming you love your wife and want to rescue your marriage, you might even want to add something like “I realize that this went on for a long time, and I will need to give you time to believe in me and trust me. I love you and I am committed to helping you heal from the damage I have caused, if you are willing to give it a try.”
You will have to try to not make this about you and your healing and revelations (because she already thought you were being selfish, right?). That might make it harder for her to trust and believe in the new aware you. If she hears a message from you of “Well, I am better now, so everything is fine. What’s wrong with YOU that you can’t get over it and get on board with the new me…” it’s probably not going to work. You can’t just tell her that you get it now, and it will be different going forward. You are going to have to show her. And part of that is going to be showing her EMPATHY with what she has gone through, and respecting her journey toward healing from it.
I hope that makes some sense 🙂
June 25, 2019 at 2:27 pm #121022
Thank you for the detailed reply. You are entirely correct with your assessment, although i didnt expect her to simply move on once I realised that the reason the relationship failed was because of me. I have tried to acknowledge my behaviour and absolutely acknowledge that it is 100% my fault.
Sadly I am really no further on. Although I am on medication and aware of what I’m like, i am still struggling to control impulsive comments which are ill thought through. This behaviour simply reinforces my wifes view that I dont care enough to be thoughtful or do something about it. I am looking into to therapy but feel its probably too late for our marriage the hurt she feels justifiably is so deep that I’m not sure its savable.
I have suggest couples counselling but she isnt interested, given that it appears like I am simply asking a 3rd person to adjudicate on what has happened when its clear its all my fault. I know I shouldn’t go down the whole shame route and I will try really hard not to but also it feels worse simply moving on, i thought I was acknowledging things. I will see what happens but not hopeful and thank you again.
Thank you again for the very thoughtful reply its very kind.
July 12, 2019 at 9:53 am #122232judiroParticipant
Sorry to hear that things haven’t improved. It’s a difficult thing for sure. One thing that potentially helps is that with a diagnosis and medication, maybe she can eventually shift her thinking to viewing this as a medical condition, and remove some of the blame from the situation. If you were diabetic, she wouldn’t blame you for being irritable or unreasonable when you go into a low blood sugar episode. She’d view it as something outside of your ability to control, and she’d get you some sugar to bring you back to yourself. So, maybe instead of couple’s counseling, you could ask her to come with you to your ADHD/Asperger’s counseling. If she doesn’t view your problems as a couple’s problem, but a YOU problem, this might reframe counseling in a way that is more appealing to her. Just a thought.
My husband and I have done both couple’s counseling and ADHD counseling for him, that I participated in. One of the things that was beneficial for me was to learn what kinds of things the counselor was recommending to him, and learning how to take a role in encouraging/reminding him to come back around to those strategies when he would get off track. For example, he sometimes over economizes on words when he says things, meaning, there’s a whole thought behind what he’s saying, but what comes out of his mouth is like shorthand, he doesn’t voice the whole thought, so what he says can seem short, or cold. We decided we’d borrow a technique used by couples who engage in “creative” sex play, and create a “safe word”. That allowed me a way to tell him “you’re doing it again”, BEFORE things escalated into an argument, or before I got angry and exasperated with him. And for him it served as a signal, to give him a chance to think about what he had said, and back up and try to state things differently.
Good luck to you, I wish you the best. Don’t let yourself get mired in the shame and blame game.
October 22, 2019 at 12:49 pm #132128
Thank you as always for your advice and sorry its been so long since I responded. I am sadly in no better situation if anything its worse. My wifes anxiety and depression is so acute now that I am triggering it on a daily basis meaning we dont talk for days. It’s my lack of empathy (i dont get the context of things until its too late), distractibility and if I’m honest my struggle to cope with the constant negative criticism. I do my best to accept everything thrown at me but sometimes its gets a bit much. I know that I need to toughen up and deal with the way I am and what I have done. I think she does want things to work out but the list of problems and years and years of hurt is so hard for her to accept in anyway. And sadly accept that someone who supposedly loved you would do these things wittingly or unwittingly to her. I have thought of leaving for a while simply to give everyone a break but that will cause huge issues with my kids as the two neurotypical ones will place the blame firmly at the feet of the autistic/adhd one who has challenging behaviour. So I am damned if I stay and damned if I go. There is also little chance my wife will accept that my adhd is like diabetes given that it means I dont give her the basic things that a human relationship needs. My adhd and autism and the fact that I spent years undiagnosed covering up means that it all seems a little to late for me to have any form of relationship without unacceptable compromises. I feel very trapped tbh and would love to find a way through. I am also thinking of just confronting her and saying she needs to get treatment for her anxiety and depression and not expect it to go away if and when things change. THat I know is really hard for her to hear from me given what i’ve done and will cause a massive rift but its the responsible thing to do so I will risk it.
sorry for the diatribe but if I am honest I dont know who else to talk to.
October 23, 2019 at 6:17 am #132207Macushla68Participant
I’m not sure that i can offer much, but I saw your post and didn’t want you to feel alone. And I know that Judiro has given you some great advice, with a lot of experience behind it.
I’m so sorry for the position that you are in. I’m wondering, since you have trouble expressing yourself verbally, as you have said above, perhaps you could write to your wife? You have done a remarkable job of explaining yourself here, and your feelings are clear and real and honest. Your wife could perhaps read your letters or journal in her own time, when she is comfortable, and it would be less confronting than a direct conversation, with all the tangents that emotions create. It may even be something that you can share with your children. It must be a very difficult time for all of you and I am so sorry that you are all in pain.
I hope this helps.
October 24, 2019 at 10:18 pm #132430RobbyJoeParticipant
Hey there. This is my first post here, but was immediately taken by your situation as it is very similar to mine. I could write in great detail my story, but suffice it to say my wife of 16 years has suffered in the same way your wife has. We’re in therapy and I’m still only hoping it’s not too late to save it. But I can tell you what I’ve learned through therapy and repeating the same cycle of improving for a while, and slipping back again and again, causing my wife to lose faith. Please remember as you read this that’s my comments are about me, not you. But maybe you can relate or get some free insight that cost me a lot, and not just in money.
Realizing what you’ve done and how it’s affected her, and taking responsibility for it is just a tiny (but hugely important) step. If you truly understand in your brain and heart what your actions have done, congratulations! What I had a harder time accepting is that my “profound” realization and heartfelt speech wasn’t at all earth-shaking to my wife. Surprise! She already knew those newly realized truths, and hearing me admit it out loud to myself and her was (forgive the analogy), like hearing a person tap their champagne glass before giving a toast. It got her attention, but only briefly. What needed to follow was the real meat of me accepting responsibility, and that was taking serious, intentional, consistent actions to better myself and change my behavior. When I was diagnosed with ADD, I was lucky to find a medication and dosage that worked for me fairly quickly. I was (for a short time), hyper-focused on reading all about ADD. The problem I fell into was that since the medication did a lot of good, I took the easy way out and didn’t follow through on the other tools that HAVE to happen to make a true change in me. I glossed over the tools I was too lazy and uninterested in following through on. I refused to make healthy changes to my diet that every book recommended, I didn’t keep up with a good exercise regimen, I didn’t consistently use lists, set alarms, or any of a myriad of other tools proven to help ADD folks organized and focused. Oh, I’d try a few things here and there when another slip caused yet another problem, but as soon as things got better again I’d let my foot off the gas thinking I finally had it “dialed in”, only to slip again. I kept up with the meds because they were EASY, and they made me feel immediately better, so they were a positive reinforcement that I recognized immediately if I didn’t take.
My wife got sick and tired of my tearful apologies and promises to do better, only to have the cycle repeat, again. She got tired of me trying to justify why this kept happening because she wasn’t giving me the support and positive reinforcement I felt I needed to succeed. She lost her trust in me, and her belief that I was truly committed to the marriage and family, because I never truly owned my responsibility to keep using every tool at my disposal consistently. So she gave up, and the thought of a future without me in it became happier than a future with me in it. Hearing her say she didn’t want to be married to ADD anymore hit me harder and deeper than I would have thought possible.
Fast forward to today. I have now FINALLY realized that if I’m trying to change my behavior to make HER happy, I was doomed to fail. I now understand that I need to change my behavior because I want to be a better version of myself, FOR MYSELF, because that’s the person I want to be. If I could do that, then maybe, maybe she would see it. I didn’t announce my tools, lists, diet changes, extra time set aside for my kids, or any of the other changes I made. By that time, my words didn’t mean shit, it was my ACTIONS, over TIME, that needed to do the talking. It’s lonely, it’s scary, and it’s no guarantee to turn things around, but it’s genuine, it’s real, and it’s done first and foremost, for ME, not her. She’ll just the benefits too. I also had to realize that if I was hoping my actions would change her mind, it was like I was trying to control her. “If I do this, she’ll love me again” is a temping lie to tell yourself. The fact is, if she sees your positive changes but still doesn’t feel she wants to stay, then that’s on her, not you. You can only give her the best version of yourself you have to give, the rest is in her hands. I’m still waiting to see where I end up, I TRULY hope you find the right reasons and motivation to actually initiate true and lasting change. If you do, I’ll bet she’ll see it, and it sounds like that person will have a better chance than the one she’s experienced over the years. You CAN change, but it’s up to YOU, for YOU.
November 3, 2019 at 3:31 am #133251
Firstly thank you for the replies they are thoughtful, without presumption and most of all they are better advice than I had from any book or therapist. On the first one about writing. You are right my written communication is way better than when i talk. Talking and communicating is what gets me into all kinds of trouble. Ironically and not untypical I communicate for living but that’s a different form of communication. UNfortunately my wife understandably wants a connection and she doesnt really want to read my thoughts she wants to see it in me, feel it in me and make that connection. But thank you all the same its very kind to suggest
Robby joe you are exactly right and I can totally relate to your situation. I have the same situation with the meds (which i think need tweaking) and the inability to do the other things. Diet I am ok on just about, but lists and exercise I need to work harder to stay on top of things. Let me digest your note some more and if I may I will come back with some questions about how you regained your wife’s belief and trust in you. That is what I need to do. I realise that the way you do that is through consistency and honesty about what you can and cannot do. One of the major challenges for me is being able in the moment to have empathy for her situation and understand what she is feeling and needs. I generally get it later but so often I am caught like a rabbit in headlights and just expose my lack of understanding which then translates to her feeling unloved and uncared for.
Let me read the note again some more and thank you so much
December 21, 2019 at 9:20 pm #137053AdeleS546Participant
Have you ever wondered if part of your wife’s anxiety and depression could be related to dealing with your ADHD?
Part of it could be. I have a 30 year history of depression off and on, and most of my depression is situational. I was married to an abusive man for years and most of my depression was my reaction to how he treated me.
Another thing. I agree with what someone else posted as a reply about things improving in your marriage. In order for your wife to believe what you’re telling her and for things to get better between you she has to see change not just change for short-term but lasting, long-term change. Unfortunately there are marriages where the partner has put up with so much for so long that they are just done. That was the case with my ex-husband and I, at least on my part. I hope it is not too late for you and your wife and that healing can take place.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by AdeleS546.
December 22, 2019 at 3:58 pm #137065
Sounds like my marriage:(
December 22, 2019 at 5:16 pm #137081
Would you wind sharing how your denial ended? What or who caused things to change?
Also, I’d like to share that in my case husband confronting me about my depression made damage in the relationship grow tenfold. Is he’s “ depression “ officially diagnosed? What may look like depression to you may actually be grief about the relationship she had. And grief about one she wanted and didn’t get.
Awhile ago I read the research that concluded that if women’s depression was caused by her unsatisfying relationship with significant one pills will help for short while ( by numbing the pain) but then depression will return despite medications taken if circumstances remain same.
DONT confront her…
If you do, maximum she will do is hide sadness and end up with nervous breakdown.
December 22, 2019 at 5:20 pm #137082
Try to look at this from her perspective: you didn’t address something highly hurtful to her for many years and now confront her about depression , which might even be not depression but merely reaction to your symptoms and grief. Don’t make it feel like she owes you that because she doesn’t.
April 2, 2020 at 11:41 am #167658
You ask how it ended up? Not well unfortunately. The problem I think is that I have over the years so confused things by being unclear, avoidant, covering things up, inattentive etc that my poor wife has no idea what I stand for. I used to get upset and indignant in the past when she would say I dont care about XYZ saying how can you say that about me. But now I understand she has no normal reference that says what I care about or not. To compound things the inconsistency in my behaviour creates ambiguity so furthering the confusion. A couple of you have said that maybe my wifes had enough as there is simply so much hurt to overcome. I am also at a basic level struggling to normalise my core symptoms, i have very poor context so always answer the question in front of me especially under stress and I also cannot do more that one thing but continue to put myself in situations where people will talk to me whilst Im doing something else and so ignore them etc..
The only solution left is to be brutally honest about my ADHD and its impact, unfortunately it means that the basic tenets of a relationship are things I am going to constantly miss so I’m kind of saying have me as I really am and compromise or go and find a better life elsewhere. I am struggling to come to terms with it tbh given that the kind thing is for me to be the one to actually ,ake the decision and spare her the guilt.
April 5, 2020 at 4:03 pm #168021Shlie321Participant
I have been struggling to cope with my partner’s ADHD/autism and I came across this thread while looking for advice. We have only been married for one year and, honestly, I am wondering how your wife lasted twenty years if you were not able to be emotionally supportive.
At this stage, I would love nothing more than for my husband to have that “A-ha” moment. I think we are still a long way off that, particularly since we do not have any children (I hear a lot of adults only realise they have ADHD or autism after they have a child who is diagnosed with one or the other… Or both).
My husband is very good at accepting the difficulties he has focusing, etc. but appears to be utterly unaware of the impact his actions and behaviour have on me. I, of course, try to point things out to him when it all gets too much but he just feels attacked and we never make any progress.
I am just wondering if there is a way I can express it or something I can do so that my husband – who currently believes his wife is just over-sensitive – srealises that his behaviour is the source of my depression! I invest so much energy trying to make our marriage work, trying to act and behave in a way that makes him happy, and I feel like it is a one-way street. All on me. I cannot and will not put up with it for twenty odd years because life is too short to be this miserable. The thing is, I believe my husband is a great person! I love him to pieces and it will break my heart to end our marriage… But I also cannot live without a response when I ask a question, without emotional support when I need it, with these one hour monologues on his favourite topics, with his angry outbursts over minor annoyances, lack of eye contact, and so on and so forth. I don’t expect him to become a different person, just to understand that these things are hard for me and to make baby steps to make things easier, or just to be more aware.
To be honest with you, if your wife spent twenty years feeling the way I am feeling now, the kindest thing to do would be to let her go, let her remember what life can be like, life is too short. And feel great in yourself about the realisation you’ve had and the work you’re doing, I am sure you can live a happier life too. And it will probably be easier without someone like your wife who is carrying all that emotional baggage and resentment. I am not sure any amount of counselling will erase that… Just make sure that child of yours (the one with the same struggles as you) gets all the help and guidance he or she needs to thrive and to be spared this kind of emotional agony.
Wishing you all the best, you sound like a top bloke really.
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