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Couples With One ADHD Partner

ADHD effects across 3 generations

I joined yesterday out of a desperate need to share and maybe get some understanding. Needless to say, I have a rather specialized dealing with this and maybe it will help someone make a decision. I just wish that I had had an opportunity to get before-hand knowledge.
I am a normal(?)  woman of 70 years who has gotten my daughter and her family to move in with me. (around 3 years ago)
My husband died exactly a week before my grand daughter was born. At this same time my daughter was told that her company was downsizing when she attempted to come back from maternity leave - so they were in danger of not having a place to live.  Her husband had spotty employment as a construction worker so his salary was barely enough to put food on the table.
To me it was like a God-sent puzzle coming together and a no brainer finance-wise. My daughter and her family moved in and agreed to take on as much as they could towards expenses. At first my social security check supported everyone because my daughter wanted to get a degree in nursing (which took a couple of years). During this time I had to have a hip replacement and two spinal fusions due to necrotizing-osteo-arthritus.
Obviously, it was a mutually productive arrangement.

Then I found out her husband had ADHD/Bipolar with clinical depression disorder.  He was moody at best and we all walked on eggshells around him in order not to upset him.
Then my grand daughter who is now 5 was diagnosed with ADHD—(inherited)  We have learned how to adjust to her behavior patterns. Both are on meds and seeing phychiatrists and doctors on a regular basis.
We recently learned from my son in law’s mother that this runs in her family and she nearly left her husband because he was so hard to live with.
I cannot begin to tell you the regrets I have had over my decision. The only reason they are still here is my daughter. She has developed a really bad weight problem and I have read that she probably eats to fill the emotional voids in her life. She is probably depressed too since she can see no way out of her present lifestyle. When things get really bad-I retreat to my “grand mother suite” and find that I am spending more and more time there. My son-in-law verbally taunts me and makes fun of or destroys everything I hold dear. When my daughter is at work and he comes home-I get back into my room and sometimes stay there until he goes to bed at 11 o’clock, He acts like he hates my guts and nothing I do makes any difference.
This is a hell of a way to spend my “Golden Years”.
I get up at 7 and and take my grand daughter to school and the come home and clean the house. At 3 o"clock I pick my grand daughter up and help her with homework until her father gets home-Then I pull my disappearing act until my daughter comes home. I keep her company for as long as I can. Then I go to my room until my house is my own again at 11.

My PLEA to others contemplating marriage to a person who seems a little unstable is get them tested BEFORE you tie the knot. Then get their family history and maybe even get genetic testing done. PLEASE remember that what you do will possibly-no- probably affect several generations of your family and loved ones.


I feel so for you, because you were not the one who married the guy and yet you have to deal with it.  If it were me I’d kick him out, allow your daughter and granddaughter to stay, but ask him to leave or treat you properly - no grey area. 

The thing about people with ADHD is that you give an inch and they will take a mile.  We all get angry at things, and it is natural for human beings to express that anger by yelling or hitting, etc. and that alleviates the stress.  It is like all this emotion/stress/upset piles up and then just comes out.  The difference with a person with ADHD is that they are in a constant state of stress/anxiety - particularly if their ADHD was not treated starting in childhood.  Anxiety is caused by ADHD, just as Oppositional Defiance Disorder is caused by ADHD - both of which make for very difficult people.

But as we non-ADHD tolerate their bad behavior, even though it is caused by a brain disorder, we encourage it.  So by encouraging it we are validating that the explosive, high emotion, nasty behavior is a good way for them to alleviate their stress and anxiety and then guess what they do not do, find a different way to deal with it.  And you cannot tell an ADHD person that they are misbehaving, because it is their brain that is telling them they are reacting appropriately.  Just like you can’t talk a psychotic person out of an episode, you can’t talk a person with ADHD out of high emotion (which is what all the nasty behavior is).  There have to be consequences to their behavior.  They have to be consistent and immediate.  And if you can find him in a calm moment when he is being relatively nice you can explain to him what behaviors you won’t tolerate any longer, tell him what the consequence will be - have to leave the house for an hour, go to his room, etc. and if he won’t comply you will call the police or help from someone to make him comply.  You might try going to his therapist and asking what strategies you might use as consequences.

The one thing you can’t do is continue on without a plan - this also goes for your granddaughter too.  You and you daughter should be helping her at this point find solutions to alleviate her stress and deal with and accept her own ADHD.  It is never too soon.  I have a husband who can be volatile with ADHD and a daughter with ADHD and I can tell you if you are not meting out consequences when he mistreats you seconds after the event he will not get it and it will backfire.  There is no sense in going to your room and coming out later and telling him what happened an hour ago hurt you.  People with ADHD have no time management skills - at all.  This is why you must have a plan.  You can’t meet his high emotion with your own, they will always win because they have no way to control their brain in those moments - it is fight or flight and they will fight to the death or go so totally inside themselves you cannot reach them.  Your son in law may not be at that level of extreme.

One thing you cannot do is continue on in the same manner you have been.  You are certainly not doing yourself any good, but what you may not be aware of is that you are not doing him any favors either.  It does someone with ADHD no good to not have consequences for their bad behavior, it only adds fuel to their fire, validates that they are ‘right’ in their behavior.  And remember your granddaughter is watching all of this, and though she may not know this now she will eventually know that she has ADHD and daddy does too, and he will be her number one example of how to be an adult with ADHD.

Stand your ground.  As much kindness you have in you for taking them all in, you have just as much resolve.  You will be the hero of this family and save all of you if you stand up for yourself, and by side effect them.

Posted by YellaRyan on Mar 26, 2014 at 10:00pm

I totally, totally agree with your advice. It is so very wrong to not Tell or hide or not get tested. Non-ADD sufferers have no idea what they are in for. Being forewarned is being forearmed - if people know what to expect then they can also be of help. Keeping a secret is not worth the broken hearts and regretted relationships.

Posted by CullyRay on Mar 26, 2014 at 10:14pm

Totally agreed.  I have been married for 30 yrs to a man who has anger issues and was diagnosed with ADD at age 50.  He has not worked regularly for the last 25 years.  He is controlling, angry at the world, blames everybody for everything that goes wrong, uncaring, impulsive with his action and says and behave inappropriately.  To add to that, our adopted daughter who is 15 was diagnosed with ADD/personality disorder and bi-polar.  I stayed with him because I thought I could help and when the kids came along, he promised to change.  He always threatened suicide and I didn’t want blood in my hands and so I stayed.  It has been hell and my life has been ruined.  I am praying now that my children are infertile because I cannot honestly allow this mental illness to be passed along.  I can’t stand coming home anymore to my beautiful home.  It is a mess and he and my daughers are both hoarders, lazy.  AFter a long days work and a 3 hours commute, I come back home to having to cook dinner for them.  When asked to do some stuff, he is always busy.  Not sure why since he doesn’t bring home much money.  All I can say is that after years of therapy and meds, nothing seemed to help.  Some days I prayed that I die to get away from him and some days I prayed that he dies so to end the misery.  It is bad.  If anybody suspect or confirm that their boyfriend or girlfriend has mental illness, please think twice before getting involved.  I am so sorry for such discouraging news.  This is just my experience and I certainly hope all of you have a better way of dealing with this sort of misery.  I am way pass retirement age but will never be able to enjoy retirement.  I can only stop work when I can’t move my body parts cos we need the health insurance to cover their meds, their therapy dealing with their unhappiness, anxiety and depression.  There is really no way out for me and I would hate to see anybody living the hell that I am in now.

Posted by Nowayout on Mar 27, 2014 at 12:10am

You poor devil.  I will pray for you and the lady with the initial request for help here.  Other people have no right whatsoever to destroy human lives like this.  It is just obscene.

Posted by Maree on Mar 27, 2014 at 5:31am

Thank you all for your input to my situation. I have sent a copy to my daughter in hopes of maybe enlightening her to do something about the situation. Unfortunately, she still loves her husband (I think) and she has stated several times that if he goes so do she and her daughter, I dearly love both of them-they are literally my reason for living.
Then there is the financial aspect to consider- When they moved in, I had money in the bank (a savings account and enough for bills and several credit cards with large unused amounts left on them) Because I had to buy furniture, appliances and support the whole household for two years—I now would have to claim bankruptcy in order to exist on my social security alone.

Maybe your replies will be my daughters’ wake up call and for that you all have my undying gratitude.
Thank You

Posted by mandifer1 on Mar 27, 2014 at 7:02am

From the daughter of the person that started this thread:

First off, let’s.tell the whole story. As I recall, the den furniture, refrigerator, washer and dryer are all coming out of my money, as well as the cable, power, water and 90% of the groceries. This was an arrangement we made in exchange for you watching my daughter before and after school. While I was in school for 14 months, not the 2 years you claim, he was working and all our money went to daycare and whatever was left was used for household expenses. He did not destroy the backyard habitat, which I am assuming is what you meant by what you hold dear. He cleaned up a lot of the mess left from a few years of neglect on your part.  There are many other flaws in your original plea for attention, but let me leave it at that. If you have anything else to complain about regarding this situation, feel free to act your age and not air your dirty laundry on a public board.

Posted by Justjenny111 on Mar 27, 2014 at 9:02pm

Justjenny111, I encourage you to talk to your mom. 
This is not a public board in the sense of people actually knowing who’s posting (aside from folks like yourself). Many people find it helpful to come to online forums.

Posted by rosered on Mar 27, 2014 at 11:46pm

Sounds to me like you may need some counseling yourself . Your own daughter , who apparently lives in the same home as you , seems to know where she stands . It sounds like she and her husband are supporting YOU . Do you have any social outlets ? Friends that come over ? Hobbies outside of the home ? If not , try a change , rather than sitting around waiting on more problems . See a therapist an talk it out . from what I read , it sounds like you go from room to room hiding from your problems .

Posted by simple man on Mar 28, 2014 at 2:48am

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