Male v. Female ADHD, the exact wrong combo?

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    • #196725

      Just venting, I think, but if anyone has encouragement or advice I’d love to hear it.

      Just recently I read an ADDitude article ( and OMG, I finally had a diagnosis For *Myself* of ADHD. I’m in therapy that seems to be going nowhere, and I’ve taken ordinary online ADHD tests (designed for men, I think) many times. I usually do these tests for both of us, and my husband always “passes” with flying colors, so to speak. I always conclude that ADHD isn’t my issue because I never score very high on those tests. Took the one for women [Self-Test: Could You (or Your Daughter) Have ADHD?] and it was a miracle, checking box after box of Very Often. I scored 64 out of 72.

      My husband doesn’t want to deal with the idea that he has any issue that might involve looking at his behavior or unpacking his baggage. He remains emotionally unavailable, gaslighting or stonewalling his way past any attempt at discussion, and stuck in “childhood”, [which really might be, “stuck in the ADHD coping mechanisms that worked with his mother when he was a child.”] I’ve been struggling for twelve years to compensate for this, trying to be accommodating, taking on the lion’s share of the adult life-work, and feeling like my entire life somehow came to a crashing halt when I got married.

      I am definitely going back to a therapist to explore this, but what I’m fascinated by – not in a good way – is how badly classic male and female ADHD mesh, at least ours. Please know that I do have some compassion and understanding, I have spent a long time unpacking his baggage in my own head. But I’m so tired …

      Loud noises or violent tv or music blasting just kill me, he bops from one incomplete loud distraction to the next, in, out, up, down, to the store and back and out again. Obviously Covid hasn’t helped any, we’re both here all day, me praying for peace and him dancing the hula 18 hours a day.

      I desperately keep my stuff minimal and neat at great effort even though it takes up almost all my time, because otherwise I’m a completely non-functional basket case, something as stupid as a crooked picture can distract me. he’s a Stuff Tornado that’s “organized” like an archeological dig. In his space, if it happened in October, the paperwork is probably underneath the forgotten Christmas cookie, the down vest, gloves and snow tire receipt, but above the pool membership and bicycle patches, probably about 6″ down. I once watched in amazement as he came out of the shower, started talking to me, and apparently unaware, tucked his dirty underwear into the bookcase. And then he’ll ask me if we have any ___ or where do I keep the ___ or do I know what happened to the ___. NO I DO NOT KNOW, could you please stop making this all my job when I also suck at it and you’re making it impossible?

      I’ll be trying to write an email and he will come in, talk about some irrelevant thing. I’ll try hard to hold my thought and respond with attention and friendliness to him. He gets *just* to the door and I spin around just enough to see the To: line, he turns back and comes in again to talk about something else, I set my mouse down and turn to face him again. This can literally go on for half an hour, over and over and over… while I’m thinking with astonishment this is freaking unbelievable, he couldn’t possibly be turning around again, doesn’t he at least see how Rude this is? Until at some point I’ve given up remembering why on earth I was sending an email or even who I was sending it to, so annoyed I’d throw an ax at his forehead if I had one handy. (Easily irritated: check!) Oh my god he just did again, and He’s On A Conference Call! I’m staring intently at this screen, and he’s come out here to tell me he’s getting his phone, then he’s letting the dog out, then Jimmy talks too much on these calls, then his shoulder hurts, where is his sweatshirt, then am I going to bring him lunch, and what am I making, and when, then look at what Snuffy’s doing, so cute. Oh no, I hear his door opening again. Aaaargh, no, oh please no … What was I saying?

      In almost every way, I feel like he demands I provide him the very things I struggle so hard just to handle for myself, mess and appointments and adequate nutrition and bills and taxes and distraction and investing and retirement and lack of accomplishment and impulsive behavior and some life goals and my On Off switch about activity… the things i had halfway decent coping mechanisms for in the past.

      I’m at my breaking point, I don’t have a life other than playing Mommy all day and night for both of us while my head and my life fall apart. I’m finally starting to see why I’m stuck in depression and this house, which is an exciting and hopeful illumination, but I still feel at sea. When we aren’t doing this dysfunctional dance we can have some very sweet and loving and fun time together, but it makes me sad that mostly instead of being pleased, I cringe when I hear him coming (and try not to show it.)

      Has anyone had success in somehow joining forces with an ADHD partner instead of wanting to shoot them?

    • #197103

      My partner and I both have ADHD. I’m male and my partner, like yours, isn’t keen to analyse things. But what I have noticed is she often critises me for things she is even more guilty for, it’s like a defence mechanism. She tends to talk more and lose focus, but we’re both guilty of that. But she gets annoyed with me for having poor time keeping. She also has worse anxiety than me and is very OCD. So the only way it works if for me to take a very relaxed view on her foibles and remind myself that I have plenty of ADHD symptoms too. But also we talk a lot and try and understand each others symptoms, so although she won’t discuss ADHD (because the medication doesn’t agree with her) she is prepared to accept me being late isn’t disrespectful. We’ve only been together 2 years and I have to say it’s the best of times and also quit trying at times. How long have you been together and at what point did it start to become difficult ?

    • #198944

      I feel you. I am female and realized one year ago that my husbands adhd had such an impact on me. And that i probably have it too (in a more girly form, so different from most male adhd, no wonder you feel lost).
      The book “ADHD impact on marriage” by Melissa Orlov was just a continuous “ahaaaaaa” forme. And i cried so much realizing all the patterns that we had in our broken communication. Realizing that my burnout from work and pregnancy and that was lasting despite 1,5 years of maternity leave (heya Sweden) was also very much a “i moved in with and adhd guy four years ago” burnout.
      It is clear from your message that you are in a difficult place. There is always hope and possibly for a beautiful live together with ypur husband if he too realizes how bad the situation is. Orlov’s book is my only tip to you.
      Giant hugs of compassion to you, i hope there is light at some point at the end of this tunnel for all of us.

    • #198963

      Hm, this is interesting to read. I learned a lot from this thread.

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