Married to ADD

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    • #106622

      I need some big advice regarding my marriage to my husband who has ADD. Diagnosed as an adult about 4 years ago. He likely had ADHD all his life based upon stories he and his family has shared over the years. I do believe that my in-laws were likely aware but chose not to do anything about it when he was younger. I knew from when I met him that he suffered from this issue. I myself was extremely type A and aware that I was the more functional spouse in the relationship. He maintained his chaos for the first 10-12 years of our marriage without medication and I picked up the slack. There were many jobs changes and lay-offs (which in hindsight I think could have been a result of the ADD)… we moved twice and had 4 children over the last 15 years. When my third child was just 7 he literally forgot her at a sports practice and I got a call from another mother saying my child was all alone on the field at the school. (I was at work at the time). Later that night discussing it he admitted that he was not paying attention to me when I told him the pick up time and he got distracted. That is when he finally admitted to lack of recall and attention issues and agreed to try medication. He started with his general practitioners and for the last 4-5 years he goes monthly to the GP to get his adderall. I have begging him over the years to please see a psychiatrist who can fine tune the meds since they are not optimized. (I have my doctorate in pharmacy so I know medications)…. He has yet to even call a psychiatrist. The thing about the adderall is that I think that it has changed his overall personality. He has become arrogant on the adderall. The other issue is that having ADD he often forgets to either make a monthly appointment and has on numerous occasions even missed his appointments. Just last month and through the new year he went 11 days without medication because “he forgot and MD went away for a week”. I firmly believe that in these periods of time he goes through withdrawals. He even talks in his sleep much like a “night terror”. I should also mention that he is severely overweight and has sleep apnea which does not help his memory. He takes blood pressure medications (2) which might also have something to do with the adderall.

      Our marriage has completely fallen apart…. I know I am not perfect in this relationship but the major underlying factor is my husbands issues surrounding his ADD. I have read a lot about being the spouse of ADD partner. All the financial chaos we own it. Bills paid late, if at all… notices for unpaid parking tickets, debt, etc…. The day to day chaos is ridiculous… lost items (wallet, chargers, Ezpass, keys) Failure to remember to pick up medication, dry cleaning, children, failure to keep appointments, etc. Every “area” in our home he is responsible for is a mess…. the garage, the utility room, his clothing, papers, etc…. just this morning he spent 20 minutes turning the house upside down looking for his work computer charger. (never found). It is honestly like having a 5th child. I hold down a full time job working the opposite shift of him (days him, evenings me). I do this so I can be available if my children are home from school and/or ill. It helps save us on camps and day-care as well. When I come home from work I never know what will await me. Sometimes tidy sometimes mess. There is always something to take care of at midnight or 1 am because a task wasn’t completed. Last night I text and left note for laundry to be put in dryer and when I got home at 12:45am it was sitting in the washing machine. I try to delegate what I can to the children but I hate it when they have to do things he should be doing because of his shortcomings.

      I have been speaking to a therapist individually since October (4 months now) and he was suppose to go to one as well. He went one time, had to cancel 2nd appointment for work obligation and never went back. I told him to please find a marriage counselor as well. Since my insurance doesn’t cover marriage counseling and his does. He has yet to. Sure I could find one but I want to see some effort on his part. I have been exercising 5-6 times a week, listening to podcasts, reading and looking on line for communities such as this for self help. Trying to be as physically and mentally fit as I can be. I told him this past week AGAIN that he needs to find a psychiatrist and marriage counselor. I will support any of his self help goals 110% AND I will find a way to financially support it. In his weight loss efforts I have offered: weight watchers (or any other plan he wants), nutritionist, trainer, gyms, I have offered to go to weight watchers together and the gym together. He wants no part of if. He wants to play racquetball… I fully support him but offered that in order to not have a cardiac event after 1 day of racquetball he consider 3 months of cardio even walking/running outside before hitting the court. I have read that ADD sufferers pay little attention to things they are not interested in and hyper focus on what they are interested in. This is my husband. Especially with sports (football) and staring at his phone. He never initiates intimacy and basically we are living like roommates. When we were first together he was interested and hyper focused on me, now he’s no longer interested so there is no attention for me.

      The words separate, divorce and “I’m done” are murmured daily around here. He’s done with my nagging and feels like I treat him like a child. My therapist suggests that I am the only adult functioning as an adult in this home. Financially we have little means for him to move out and for us to support two households. We have four children to put through school (hopefully) and I am sad daily that if he keeps up with the way he’s going he won’t live long enough to walk his 3 girls down an aisle. I am super lonely in my marriage. I told him today that I can not do this much longer. I feel like running away. I work so hard to keep this home running smoothly, and work in a stressful job. I have little time for outside activities and friends but I try really hard to see my girlfriends and do work out several times a week. It is so difficult to have a conversation with him. He feels I lecture him. Maybe I do. NO matter how intense the lecture nothing changes. I know I am a strong woman and I can manage with or without him. I can only imagine what his life would be like without me in it. I do so many things for him behind the scenes that he isn’t even aware of. I thought about going on strike this week and not doing these behind the scenes things for this family just to prove my point.

      I want him to live his best self. Be happy and have energy. Get off medications for blood pressure get off apnea machine (which he never really wears anyway) for heavens sake. I accept that if we no longer make each other happy then we can part friends. He has been my best friend for 20 years… its just been so super hard. He will always be the father of my children and his part in their creation makes my heart super happy. I told him today to only communicate with me regarding the children this week. I can not take the bickering any more. I need to figure out the next steps. I am hoping that I can get some solid suggestions throughout this blog. I get that this is a sickness… he can not help many of the symptoms he suffers from. The thing that is not acceptable to me is the lack of interest to try to fix the things he can. I spoke with my 2 older children yesterday and I explained that I am trying very hard to keep our family together. I expressed some frustration regarding their father. I know they see it as they too are witness to the chaos. I would hate for this family to fall apart over this which could be managed.
      Advice please!

    • #106637
      Penny Williams

      Most non-ADHD spouses find themselves taking on more of the “daily grind” in the relationship. You have to split the duties based on what each person is successful at doing. Sounds like he’s not good at remembering to make appointments and actually doing it, so that may need to be one of your tasks.

      Structure and routine are key. I know some people in this situation make a daily to-do list. The key is that everyone gets a to-do list, not just the ADHD spouse. Then no one is called out or made to feel like you’re mothering or nagging. Any tasks that are done repetitively (like laundry) should happen on the same day and time every week. Once things become habit, it takes away the issue of poor memory.

      Married with ADHD: How Real Couples Make It Work

      Tips for Couples

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

    • #106645

      I am a 50 year old male, husband, father of 4 who was diagnosed with ADD only after finally realizing that 2 of my children have the same condition. I can tell you with little hesitation that if (your husbands perception is that) you are lecturing, nagging, treating him like a child, then things will not improve. I can promise you he isn’t doing this on purpose. If you continue the road you’re going down, there is little hope. If you meet him where he is and somehow muster the wherewithal in your own neuro-typical capacity, then you will most likely see a marked improvement in daily life. I can’t explain it, but the added stress of an ADD’er feeling like everything they encounter is somehow being “screwed up” only makes things worse. It creates resentment and causes the person with ADD to dig their heels in. From an ADD’ers standpoint, it feels like an injustice – as if the neuro-typical people are making all the decisions, never making mistakes and blindly walking the road of clear and quick thinking – only to create a scene every time we ADD’ers forget, neglect or seemingly are not “trying hard enough”. I would be willing to bet that if he criticizes you regarding something you’ve forgotten or not gotten quite right then you are overly defensive back to him – thinking “how dare he criticize me with all of his screw-ups”. Again, yet another frustrating thing from the ADD’ers point of view. The ADD’er thinks “wow, I get criticized seemingly all day long, and I somehow don’t have the ‘authority’ to criticize”. You have to ask yourself why that is. There’s a deeper psychological aspect going on here – its called subconscious authority or the unwritten alpha complex. I’m not an MD; unfortunately in-spite of having an IQ over 130, I couldn’t complete the curriculum necessary for such a degree. It basically took everything I had to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business. I do have a PhD in observation, however – and the added benefit of having inattentive ADD my entire life. If you think you’re frustrated, you should live a day in your husbands mind. If you think it boosts your husbands self-esteem by forgetting the things described in your post – you are truly delusional. There is simply no way a person would intentionally do the things you’ve described.
      Having said all of this, if you don’t meet your husband where he is, then there is really no solution. If you meet him where he is, then there exists the potential for improvement.

    • #106665

      I appreciate the feedback… I can not even begin to image what goes on in my husband head. I try so hard to do things that take the “extra” responsibility off him. I certainly do not make all the decisions as if I had been over the years we wouldn’t be where we are especially in the financial situation we find ourselves in. The hardest thing I have a problem understanding is the impulsive thinking. I send my husband for soccer cleats for 1 child ($50 item) he comes back with tee-shirts for himself in addition. His justification is “they were only $7 EACH”. but you purchased 5 so now a $50 purchased became close to $100.

      We have a shared calendar in our phones. That only works if one looks at it no? A daily calendar as well as write on board for daily lists and activities for the kids. I keep money hidden in his car for the day when he runs out of gas and forgot his wallet. I know he does not intentionally set out each day to forget things and such.

      I want to see a marriage counselor but I want him to make the decision who to see. In 2015 we went to therapy and he “didn’t like MY girl”. OK so find one you do like and I’d be happy to go.

      Small steps would count in a BIG way. Taking some healthy lifestyle changes I know is challenging but I know that the act of exercising and dieting and thus weight loss would lead to better sleep, increased ability to focus and an improvement in the overall way one feels.

      I want him to admit he has limitations and ask me for help. Its the current state of arrogance and blaming me because I have reached my limit. I very often fly off the handle because as the non-ADD spouse who can not fully understand his head it gets old and exhausting over the years.

      I want him to be the best version of himself, for himself, for me and for our children. I am a bit of a control freak…. some of which was inborn and some of which has grown in me after years of him being ADD. I think it is difficult for me to realize that I have no control over this and I need to make a choice every day to focus on myself.

      “Hope is not a strategy. If you want to fix your marriage, fix yourself” I’m working on these two ideas every day now. Making changes in my life. In my reaction to my husband.

    • #106674

      The decision making process for an ADD’er can be excruciatingly slow and very often inefficient. Does a neuro-typical more often make better, quicker and more logical decisions? Without a doubt. But if you consistantly rip that aspect out of the hands of another person, resentment is the result. Is this easy – no, absolutely not. My advice would be to back off, allow the other person to exist on equal footing – and know that you will have to sometimes be the parent in the situation. You will absolutely have come to the rescue in many occasions, however, the less angry become the better – trust me on this one. Will this solve the over-aching ADD problem – NO! But it will allow the person with ADD to gain some self-respect and self-confidence, thereby feeling like they are on equal footing without feeling like they are treated like an irresponsible 15 year old child. Encourage your husband to buy whatever note taking device he desires and somehow encourage him to write his thoughts down in the book. Carry the book with him and if he loses it – then buy him another one – and if he loses that one, buy him another one! All without making a big deal of it – treat it like “it is what it is”. If it weren’t for exhaustive note taking I wouldn’t be able to function. Fortunately for me I learned this on my own fruition, but great sacrifice is the result. I do fine in day-to-day life, but I am not a prolific accomplisher of things – this is because I am constantly reorganizing my thoughts and notes, trying to not forget what I need to do, what I’ve done, etc. etc. I could probably take on a lot of other things in my life, but this would more than likely overload me and I would begin to flounder due to having too many things going on. Try to simplify your lives. If organization is an issue, then help him organize (without being overbearing or making it all about you), as this will not improve on its own. The ADD mind is by definition unorganized and unable to process things like a neuro-typical person, therefore, the world has added challenges due to this. Chaos manifests into more chaos. There is little room for more chaos (like weight issues) when trying to get through the day requires all physical and psychological attention. Simplify things, organize things and help when needed. And know that this won’t solve the problem, it will only help address it. Perhaps if this occurs then, with some of the chaos put to the side, the actual issues can be addressed; seeing a doctor, being motivated and organized enough to get and stay on medication – and finally, looking to adjust the lifestyle to improve the body image.

    • #106678

      ” I can only imagine what his life would be like without me in it. I do so many things for him behind the scenes that he isn’t even aware of. I thought about going on strike this week and not doing these behind the scenes things for this family just to prove my point. ”

      I have felt, thought, said this so many times myself.

      I’m new here also and I don’t have any advice. My husband of 12 years is not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD but for many years I have suspected he is undiagnosed with “something” and a lot of what you shared is so familiar to me.

      In some ways this is a benefit to our marriage because I have strengths where he lacks and vice versa. But, even though I’m really great with time management, organization, decision making… it gets overwhelming being in it alone. Essentially he goes to work and comes home… and he plays with the kids (so I can get things done). It’s like being a mother of 3 instead of 2 and it’s wearing me down.

      Over the years I’ve determined that there can only be 1 of 2 explanations for the way things are managed here:

      1. He’s just a lazy a-hole who has no desire to participate in any responsibility
      2. He’s undiagnosed with “something”

      I don’t believe it’s the former… because he’s NOT a big jerk. He’s loving and thoughtful. He’s intelligent and I truly do not believe he “expects” me to carry the full load alone. It just seems like he doesn’t understand what needs to be done or even how to do it. I don’t think he has any understanding whatsoever about all the things that I do. He seems to sincerely believe that what little he does is very helpful. Essentially he will take the initiative to either load or unload the dishwasher and if the place is starting to look cluttered he’ll throw everything into a bin and call it “done”. It’s really no help to me at all and a lot of times what he does just causes me extra work anyway. He puts dishes away in the wrong places and I can’t find what I’m looking for (we have lived here for 9 years and just about everything has always gone into the same place — he can find what he wants to use but can’t seem to put it back there later, he just shoves it anywhere).

      When he cleans up the kid’s toys or clothes, it’s just in a pile, in a bin somewhere leaving me to dump it all out again and actually put things away where they actually go — it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it saves so much hassle and headache when I can quickly locate the things I’m looking for and not having to search the house.

      He’ll throw the hose into the pool to fill up the water level but I don’t think he’s ever actually put it away. If he has to take the nozzle off the hose to use it, he just throws it in the yard where it gets lost, rusted, rolled over by the mower, etc and we have to buy new ones all the time. All these little things sound trivial, but it adds up when pretty much everything he touches either gets lost or broken or ruined… and he doesn’t “get it” when I bring it up — so I just don’t bring things up anymore. I just do it, re-do it, clean it, put it away, fix it, or buy a new one — whatever the case may be.

      If he fixes a snack for the kids, he leaves crumbs all over the counter or floor, doesn’t put the dishes away or clean up after it, many times forgets to turn off the oven, etc etc — it’s like I have to follow behind him “finishing” every single thing he does. It can not go on this way forever.

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