Looking back on my whole marriage

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Relationships Looking back on my whole marriage

Viewing 6 reply threads
  • Author
    • #112994

      Hi, this is my first time posting. I am the non-ADHD wife, and I finally realize that what we have been struggling with our whole marriage is husband’s undiagnosed ADHD, and my inappropriate reactions to it.
      Some background: we are in our early 60s. Son is 35 and was diagnosed with ADHD at age 8. He was treated in a multi-disciplinary program including medication and he has done fantastically well, married, great job, etc.
      Husband has been a chronic under-achiever relative to his IQ and potential. Always procrastinates, easily distracted, moved jobs all the time (often got fired), very impulsive, blurts out inappropriate comments all the time, argues, drives too fast, doesn’t pay attention, gets irritated very easily and over-reacts, but at the same time can be hyper-focused on things that interest him (managing our finances, stock exchange). He forgets things ALL the time.
      He has suffered from depression on and off for the past 10 years and is on Welbutrin.
      We’ve never really discussed that he may have adult ADHD nor has his psychiatrist mentioned it, but after reading a lot over the past few weeks, I am sure he does.
      It makes me look at my own behavior and especially my incessant nagging, mothering him, as well as my loneliness…..
      I have carried the major responsibility for nearly everything for so long and am exhausted and very sad.
      He has an appointment with his psyc this week and he is going to discuss it.
      He has already started taking fish oil (I remember now that this was recommended a few years ago and he took it for a while but then stopped. Not persisting with things is another of his issues!).
      I wonder if he needs a higher dose of Welbutrin (he’s on 150mg a day) or perhaps Concerta as well?
      I am on Zoloft on a mini-dose (25mg a day) which helps keep me sane.
      Any advice or suggestions would be very welcome.
      Thanks in advance

    • #113008

      I read your post and thought to myself I could have written this exact entry. My husband and I are in our 40’s and married 17 years. We have 4 children ranging in age from 15-7. I too am the non ADHD spouse. My husband has been taking medication for his ADHD for about 5 years. Although “diagnosed” he never went about it via the “proper” channels. He gets his medication prescribed monthly from his general doctor. I have urged him for the last 3 years to please go see a psychiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment regimen. Still he has not. As you know this is one of the most frustrating things for an ADHD spouse. Follow through and the complete lack of it. I could probably list 10 things right now that should be attended to which he has no desire or motivation to tackle. I also believe my husband suffers from depression which perhaps mild could benefit from both behavioral and medication treatment. I have been asking my husband to seek therapy for himself and for our marriage for about a year. Again no follow-through with that. I have had so many similar things in my marriage that you mentioned above including several job “lay-offs” which at times I have wondered if he was actually “let-go” due to inefficiency or disorganization in his job role. One of the reasons I demanded he at least speak to MD and try medication was his forgetfulness. Keys, wallet, suit jacket, when he left the house. Failure to remember things I asked him to handle or take care of and finally as a mother of young children the last straw came when he forgot our daughter at a practice field one evening while I was working! I received a call from another parent stating my 1st grader was at the school all alone holding onto a fence with no one in site. She was just about to pull away after picking her own child up and noticed mine there. Thank heavens my daughter knew where I worked and they called me. I had given my husband specific instructions to pick her up at 7pm and low and behold he got involved in something and hyper focused on it and never paid attention to the time. He also claims I told him 7:30… I am a bit OCD and knowing his ways I repeat myself so many times. I know I told him 7. It was at that point that he agreed to try medication. He had told me the medication is “like putting on eye glasses and seeing the world for the first time” He has essentially taken the same regimen for 5 years. I do think that it could be even more effective if managed appropriately. (I am a pharmacist so I feel like I have some additional insights on the medication part).

      So here is where I give you some advice that has helped me a bit. I heard this great quote “If you want to change your marriage, change yourself!” I do think it is wonderful that your husband is open to seeing a psychiatrist and it seems as if he would even be open to seeing a therapist alone or as a couple (?). I am glad that you realized that you needed something to help you as well. I personally see a therapist every week. She is a psychologist so no prescribing medication, but it helps to talk with a neutral party who has never even met my husband. I vent the frustrations I feel and she gives me ways to cope. Through talking with her over the last 6 months I have realized that we should have been in marriage therapy all along. I too suffer from loneliness in my marriage. My husband who in the beginning use to hyper focus on me and making me laugh (this is common in early courting relationships when one person is ADHD I have learned) has basically checked out. Likely because I spent years nagging him and mothering him but also because he is not able to handle me and our relationship anymore. From my experience I truly believe that ADHD people are not good multi-taskers. Men are not as good as women either. My husband is completely maxed out with his job and caring for our children and running them to activities and such that he has no energy or ability to give me any attention what-so-ever. So although I feel lonely every day I find things and focus on them to help me. I see my therapist every Monday, I go to the gym 4-5 days a week and take spin. I joined weight watchers and go with a friend on Thursday’s (this can be like therapy too). I focus on my children and being present for them and cheering for them at their sports and dance and such. I read personal growth books about different topics I am interested in including ADHD and marriage. I also read fiction and belong to a book club with some former co-workers. I take a walk or go to sleep when I am at a loss of what to do. I listen to podcasts (awesome feature on your phone if you do not already know about it). Personally I like the podcast RISE and RISE TOGETHER. Every day at some point I say a mental prayer that I realize I can not change my husband as he is an adult and he must acknowledge and work to better himself inside his own illness. I am done stressing it and making him appointments (that he often would neglect to show up for). I try to stop nagging him and walk out of the room when his banter is too ridiculous for me. (He too makes untimely comments). I have noticed that the cell phone is TERRIBLE for ADHD sufferers and I have read a lot about that as well. I have asked him that he not bring the phone into our “bed” as I often fall asleep or awake to my husband on his phone. Often doing work but more often looking up stupidities or fantasy football. He honors my request for a few days and then it goes out the window. I’m tired of always asking and things not really changing. Marriage is so very hard and anyone who is married to someone with ADHD has it even harder! Couples where one or both suffer from ADHD I believe need professional help to keep things on track. In all his shortcomings I will say this, my husband is a wonderful father to our kids. He enjoys attending their events and sports and always puts them as top priority. His hyper focus when directed towards the children is wonderful.

      Take one day at a time. Learn some coping mechanisms with this new diagnostic revelation. Read, troll this website for advice. Pick up some new habits for yourself. Mostly try to understand that this is an illness. They do not wake up each morning with the thought “Today I will drive too fast, get a ticket for several hundred dollars, put that ticket somewhere, forget to pay it, then get a notice in the mail for $XXXX which my wife will see and get mad at me for all the above…” I do not believe that someone with ADHD does this. If they have suffered their whole lives they have spent their whole lives being told “you are not good enough, what’s wrong with you, why can’t you figure this out”. When I was growing up I can clearly remember classroom teachers saying these things to children… I am sure that the same things were said to my husband. He has spent his whole life in a cloud of mental chaos. Not feeling up to par. And not able to figure out why he can’t figure it out. Truly an illness. There has to be a line however between feeling sorry for them and enabling them to continue in constant chaotic state. They are adults. They must put pieces together to figure things out. Or at least want too. Your husband sounds as if he is willing to speak to the psychiatrist and start putting pieces together. That my friend is a blessing.

      Books that are helpful include:
      The ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov
      Helping Your Husband with ADHD by George Sachs and Tim Norman
      The Doormat Syndrome by Lynne Namka

    • #113009

      Hello and thank you so much for taking the time to reply and share your experiences. It does sound like we have a lot in common and I really appreciate your suggestions.
      I am the main breadwinner in our house and have been for some time, this causes many additional stresses and resentments on my part and leaves me stressed out and exhausted most of the time.
      I have zero interest in sex with him because of the anger and resentment and feeling of mothering him.
      I read Melissa Orlov’s book and highlighted practically every paragraph – it felt like the book was telling my life story.
      Do any of your kids have ADHD?
      My husband’s depression has been a big issue at times – at the moment it is under control with Welbutrin thank goodness.
      Take care and thanks again for sharing

    • #113020

      ADHD is either genetic, created by a head injury/trauma or born prematurely–at least, those are the major reasons that someone has ADHD. My brain & my mom’s are almost identical & our area of under-activity in the PFC pole are exactly the same. Her’s gets better with concentration & mine does not–I also have underactivity in a temporal lobe, which she does not. Both of are brains are INSANELY active—-lots of bloodflow. Almost, “ring of fire” adhd type, according to Dr. Amen. You should look at all the 7 types on his website.

      Wellbutrin has been a common medicine to help people with ADHD. It’s a very popular medicine, but it’s possible he’d need a combination therapy to fully treat the spectrum of what he’s dealing with. If you haven’t seen your brain in a SPECT scan (I know I sound like a broken record), you’re really just guessing & doing trial by error.

      Upon “google” inspection:
      IR up to 100
      sustained release up to 200mg
      extended release that goes all the way to 150/174/300/348/522 mgs

      Dang, didn’t know it went that high.

      Although a stimulant is not an anti-depressant, it really has helped me with my self confidence & really unleash my full potential—this in turn has led to let “situational” depression or overall bad feelings about myself/performance.

      ADHD also has a dopamine problem, so w/stimulants I def don’t feel as apathetic and procrastination-prone. We tend to take up that dopamine too quickly & stimulants allow it to “bounce” around before getting re-uptake—so we can actually experience the “reward” system regular neuro-types feel when they: finish their work, do the dishes, complete a task.

      I hope this was helpful. I found myself doing the same thing w/my husband, but he does not respond well to stimulants (even low doses). The little bit of caffeine seems to be all the stimulant he can handle. We are going to get a spect scan before we do anything medication-wise.

      Last thing I will say, is Wellbutrin–according to the reviews, has the least side effects of any SSRI (ie sexual dysfunction, weight gain, digestive issues)….I guess that’s why it’s so popular. I took it about 13yrs ago solo before my scan & on whatever does I was, it seems to treat my adhd pretty well.

    • #113034


      So far as far as I can tell my children do not seem to have ADHD. Definitely not hyperactive. They do hyper focus on stupid iPhones and iPads at times and it takes a bit to snap them out and get them to put them down. This is a generational problem as well perhaps. I highlighted 90% of the book too!

      The frustration is real… I too have been the breadwinner for many years of our marriage. During all the times he was “laid off” I stepped up to work more hours. Some weeks as many as 50-55 hours. With toddlers and infants at home! Then I would walk in after a 14-16 day of work to a MESS. I would yell at him and get pissed off. He wasn’t capable of multi-tasking to watch the children and entertain them, and use the nap time to try to apply for jobs. No way could he cook or clean up too. I would get so mad when he ordered pizza or take out for $40+ dollars at times. I would think “I’m busting my ass out there and you spend this money on take-out?” Make a box of pasta for less then $2…! Through therapy I have uncovered that part of the anger I have is at no time during these periods of lay off did he even try to get a BASIC job at a deli or restaurant or anything for extra cash. He literally was applying for positions that were lateral to what he left and he thought it fine to have me work extra and him mind children by day. It wasn’t even that I wanted him to get a minimum wage job, but it was the lack of offer or initiative that really hurt me.
      Usually it is the lack of initiative that is the most unattractive thing about my husband. For example, my husband has had major problems with his teeth over the years, and does not like dentists. He uses the “I do not like dentists” to just not go to the dentist. He has not been in 5 years. This has happened before. It usually results in a tooth crisis when he gets an infection or abscess or a tooth breaks. Then he’s in a scramble. It gets so old. How about you just go to the dentist 1-2 times a year since you have a history of tooth issues and avoid all crisis and chaos? I think “told you so” or sarcastic “who didn’t see that coming” like 10 times a day. If I say anything about it he sighs and makes it that I’m the ass.

      One of the things my therapist has also asked is “does your husband function as an adult in the marriage?”. In my case I would say about 60% of the time. The other 40% he functions likes a 14 year old boy. Playing video games, avoiding chaos, ignoring late notices, dumping his dirty socks wherever he wants. All this makes it as if I have another child. He doesn’t really seem to care. I just told him last night that I am trying hard to sensor all my thoughts and conversation with him to avoid speaking down and “mothering” or nagging him. I feel like anything I say now is taken this way. We can’t seem to have a serious conversation or a conversation that results in support through years of friendship. That is the most hurtful. He sees everything I say to him as a nag or my being a pest. I simply asked this weekend what is the plan for the yard this year? Landscaper? you going to do it? He’s like… “I don’t want to do anything”. What kind of plan or adult answer is that? Anytime to want to vent I am happy to relate and share.


    • #113060
      Penny Williams

      The first-line treatment for ADHD is stimulant medication in most cases. Wellbutrin is not a stimulant and only works on ADHD symptoms for a very few people.

      A Patient’s Primer on the Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD

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

      • #113162

        Thanks again for responding, this site is really helping with my chronic loneliness.
        This is not something I have (nor will) discuss with anyone.
        Disappointing news is that husband had psychiatrist appointment today and asked him about ADHD but the psyc said it’s not his field!???! I am so disappointed.
        He did give H a name to try but now let’s see if H does anything about it – unlikely.
        I am holding back on my instinct which would be to step in and make an appointment…

        Other than that I am feeling very very sad and dismayed at the life I’ve had with H and how perhaps an early diagnosis could have changed everything….
        Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been a bad life, but wow, how we’ve struggled 🙁
        Thank you all for your inputs and support

      • #113324

        Hi, I am pleased to update that H has now scheduled a full assessment to see if he has ADHD! Imagine – at age 67….
        I am very happy that he is willing to do this and at the same time I can’t help thinking about how much time we’ve wasted.
        I will continue to update – the appointment isn’t until mid-May and the final one is early June (it’s 3 appointments in all).
        Wishing you all a lovely weekend

    • #113069

      I’d say you’re in crisis mode. Nag or no nag—you’re keeping this family together & doing all the work of two people in the marriage.

      If it were me, I’d start setting some hard boundaries—things are going to change.

      Adhd diagnosis would be my 1st step, along with marriage counseling—if you feel this is worth the investment.
      Thyroid is another thing to look at, as most hormones start declining after 30’s and a lack of testosterone can REALLY affect energy levels for both men/women–I’d get yourself checked out too.

      My heart goes out to you, because he sounds like just another “child” to look after & you are a person–you have needs too that are completely neglected & are MUCH MORE of the issue here, than whether you’re “momming” him or are nagging.

      This is not good.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Skypark962.
Viewing 6 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.