My husband has ADHD and I’m running on empty

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Josh1986 6 months ago.

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  • #110881


    My husband has ADHD and I’m running on empty. I’m not trying to be mean or ugly, but I feel like everything gets blamed on his ADHD. At some point isn’t a 45-year-old man going to just force himself to do what is needed around the house? I understand you had a long day at work, I understand you’re tired, I am too. But if I am cleaning out the garage, how can you bitch and moan instead of helping me? At what point do you lose your guy card? It just feels like it gets used as a crutch. I’m exhausted and tired of being the only one who works around the house. Can I please only have responses from non-ADHD spouses? Because right now the last thing I need is more explanation. I need more solutions.

  • #111300


    Hi, I know your post says non-ADHD spouses only; I’m not a Non-ADHD spouse, but I had a thought about your dilemma – and I promise it’s not just another excuse.

    I’m going out on a limb here, since we’re strangers on the internet and all; but it sounds to me like maybe your Husband hasn’t fully/conciously acknowledged the fact that his ADHD has an impact on you – or perhaps he has, but is genuinely afraid of admitting how deeply his condition effects you and your relationship. Either way, you’re burnt out, so things have to change – simple as that. And the first step towards sustainable, long-term change, in my experience anyway, is honesty.

    I myself have ADHD, and I’ve been able to build a really solid relationship with my family – but it took us a long time to get there. One of the most important steps in the process, was me taking ownership of my ADHD, and acknowledging that although my behaviour isn’t always within my control, my actions still have consequences – for me, and for the people I care about.

    So, my solution/suggestion would be: set aside a specific time to talk, and agree on it with your husband (so you can circumvent distractions, transition difficulties and/or hyperfocus). Right from the start, re-frame the issue so that it’s ‘You & Your Husband’ vs. ‘Your Husband’s ADHD’; rather than ‘You’ vs. ‘Your Husband & His ADHD’. Remind him that you two are a TEAM. You’re in this together; like it or not, his ADHD impacts both of you, so life needs to be MANAGEABLE for both of you. You could try something along the lines of: “I love you, and I understand that your ADHD makes Executive Functioning a challenge. I know you don’t intentionally do [X,Y,Z] – but when [X,Y,Z] happens, it effects me too. It’s important to me that both of our needs are being met. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how we can achieve this, because our current situation is unsustainable. ADHD is your reality – but you’re more than a diagnosis, and you’ve developed other skills and talents in spite of your challenges. We need to find a way to distribute chores/responsibilities which play to your strengths, so that I’m not shouldering too much on my own”.

    Or, you know, something that sounds more like an actual human, and less like a blurb from a Psych 101 textbook, haha.

    I hope that helps – I know ‘talking it out’ isn’t an immediate solution, but that’s the only thing that’s ever actually worked for me (besides the adderall, of course, haha). Either way, I hope things improve – it’s a difficult situation to be in, because, as they say, “you can’t make people change; people have to want to change”.

    I had some other thoughts that might be relevant – I know you’re not looking for great big long explanations, but maybe they can help provide some context:

    I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times before, but people with ADHD tend to have a lot of unresolved shame and self-esteem issues – which, for me at least, made apologies TERRIFYING. It’s much less scary to say “oh yea, I forgot to wash the dishes because of my ADHD”,than it is to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. This is a difficult/challening/overwhelming task for me, and I screwed up. I know it shouldn’t be that hard, but for some reason it is – and the fact that this simple thing is so impossible for me to do, makes me feel worthless”. But, in my case at least, that’s exactly what I needed to do – because I needed to ‘prove to myself’ that my family would still love me even if I screwed up the simplest instructions.

    It may seem ridiculous and super obvious, but even now, years later, I still need my parents to confirm that they ACTUALLY love me every now and again. Living with ADHD creates a weird internal echo chamber of doubt and uncertainty, where you question everything from the passage of time, to the strength of your own family’s love.

    But, by acknowledging the impact of my actions, being honest about my limits, and asking for help when I’m struggling, my family and I have been able to deepen our understanding of one another and more easily resolve our issues.

    I no longer say “woops, my ADHD made me late!”; I say, “I didn’t mean to keep you waiting – I know that running late makes you anxious, and I’m sorry to have upset you”. I don’t say, “Oh, I forgot to do the dishes because of my ADHD”; I say, “I’m sorry for not following through – I genuinely forgot. Is there something else I can help with?”

    Doing this has also helped my family understand what specifically I struggle with – so they’re much more patient, and have stopped inadvertently putting so much pressure on me. We all know what can be reliably expected with my ADHD, and through a lot of trial and error, we’ve been able to make lifestyle adjustments which play to my strengths and mitigate my weaknesses.

    Instead of saying things like, “why can’t you just get up earlier so we’re not late every day?”, now they say things like, “I’m frustrated that we’re late, but I know your ADHD makes it difficult to percieve the passage of time correctly, and I appreciate you doing your best”. Instead of, “seriously, how many times do I have to ask you to do the dishes?” they say things like, “hey, Hon, you know I love you, but I think you may have forgotten your promise to do the dishes” or, “Hey, I know you’re going to take care of those dishes – just curious if you had an ETA. I can’t make dinner until the counters are clear” etc, etc.

    It hasn’t been easy – it’s been a long, ugly road, and we still have bad days, but it’s a huge improvement from where we were before.

    Anyway, best of luck – I hope things get a little bit better every day.

  • #111603

    Penny Williams

    I’m a non-ADHD spouse. You said, “just force himself to do what is needed.” If he was able to simply force himself to do it, it would be done. His brain works differently. Urgency and interest motivate the ADHD brain, not importance.

    Secrets of Your ADHD Brain

    This isn’t an excuse — it’s biological fact.

    So, the step forward is to brainstorm new ideas to try, because what you’re doing now isn’t working.

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

  • #113467


    I’m also running on empty. He has untreated ADHD, the kids have adhd, and I’m exhausted. He’s been working to be more attentive in a way that says “you’re my wife and I remember that you need affection,” and I do really appreciate that. I appreciate it so much. So he does get big points for that.

    But everything else being on me… it’s draining, exhausting. Tonight I think I’m going to just crawl into bed early. I don’t feel like I have anything else to give for today.

    And can we just put the rest of the week on hold?

  • #113470


    Untreated ADHD, does he want to get on medication? Or is open to it? Medication gets a bad wrap bc others abuse it–but some of us really do NEED it & for me–it’s the difference from struggling or functioning.

    Yall need a serious talk. I know what it feels like to pull all the weight/responsibilities in a relationship.

  • #113481


    Seek help beyond this forum.
    I am the ADHD husband and my wife was often the one running on empty. We have been married 22 years and I was finally diagnosed about 10 years ago but she kind of knew what was going on for many years. The biggest clue was one day I was sick and took a really strong and high dose decongestant (aka stimulant) and was very focused on my project all day and at the end of the day, my wife found me cleaning our furnace. I finished my project, half the house was spotless and I moved on to the furnace. It was quite a funny scene.
    Your husband owes it to himself and to you to seek treatment (if he has not done so already) and to find a good ADHD coach. I have been through 3 of them until I found one that I could work with. We build strategies to make life work for me and the rest of the family. My wife works with me to find solutions and we go through our frustrations but have many more benefits overall.
    Never allow ADHD to be a crutch! ADHD is a gift, a superpower. He needs to harness that power in a positive way and a lot of good will come out of it.
    Best of luck.

  • #113947


    I just wish I wasn’t oblivious to obvious things at times! Its like I can acknowledge it but my brain goes 1000 miles a min at all times! I neglect others emotions and feelings! Not cause I don’t care but can never focus on important things or tasks unless my adhd gives me super focus then I slay whatever I’m doing but its usually only few thing and mostly not what needs to be super focused on! Theres no real way to explain it! I have severe adult adhd some days ill feel its a gift others a curse! But I find myself going from so many thought at a time I become lost or just brush peoples conversation to side like what they say doesn’t matter but in reality my brain is just cycling thought at insane speeds! I can usually never focus on one thing! Most adults look at me weird cause I talk so fast and about so many things most look at me like child like that don’t know me at times cause I’m so hyper at times and don’t even realise it! But once people sit down with me they see my gifts my genius! Litterally! But most don’t get to see it cause its like I’d rather them think I’m dumb and sneak up with my smarts but doesn’t always work like that in my favor! Sometimes I come off looking dumb before I get chance to prove what I am! Just a rant. But with substance! Also I’ve never liked idea of pills and so on for my adhd so I’ve self medicated most my life with marijuana does anyone else medicate this way or medical and have a good system edibles and so or view? I struggle every day! Does any one else relate??

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