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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Brain incapable of emotional learning?

My wife is diagnosed ADHD/bipolar. I was “baited” in a typical case of getting hyper-focused attention in dating, then she “switched” after marriage to hyper-focusing on whatever was more stimulating than me. I’ve recently been reading up on ADHD and brain executive function. It seems that there is no solution but ADHDers simply have a physical (in the brain) abnormality that means she will never be able to control her emotional reactions.

Here’s a typical scenario: a social gathering with a few people. She dominates all conversation, unable to read non-verbal cues—end of story.
OR
Something sets her off and she over-reacts, creating instant tension in everyone within earshot. She has no clue re why people are reacting to her. After the dust clears and she makes apologies (she is good at that), she will often claim, “But I wasn’t angry” and “Why did you think I’m angry?” or the strongest trump card, “I was just expressing how I felt, am I not allowed to do that?!”

We’ve been married for over 20 years. Within that time, I’ve tried calming her, “understanding” her, correcting, getting angry myself, ducking for cover and waiting it out, asking about enough meds (boom! with mushroom cloud), ignoring, allowing the chips to fall where they may, resigning myself to the fact that it’s just the way it is…

So re this aspect of ADHD and the lack of executive function that I am reading about, it seems that it’s just the way it is.

Is that right?

Replies

This is basically how it is when you’re married to someone with ADHD. We’ve all (meaning non ADHD’ers) fell victim to the hyper-focus dating.

I always tell people “Dating someone with ADHD is like nothing you’ve ever experienced”. But sadly after the courting is over, all hell brakes loose. Many adults refuse to admit that their’s something “wrong”, I personally have given up on trying to get my wife on meds. Its amazing how she can admit that our diagnoised daughter has so many similar behaviors as her, but she doesn’t have ADHD.

Good luck on your battles. I’ve only been marrued 10 years and i’ve learned that letting her “be” is the easiest thing for me. It helps me overcome the horrible resentment that comes from suffering the “parent/child dynamic”

Posted by not2day on Apr 09, 2014 at 1:27am

I’ve been trying to practice radical acceptance with varying degrees if success!  I’ve been married to my husband almost as long and have two children.

Neither of us knew he was ADHD before we were married or had children so the bait and switch was unconscious. But we’ve all experienced this.

I think the worst thing is the not being able to pick up on social cues, so then I have to explain everything in detail, which he then accuses me of talking down to him and then suddenly I’m the bad guy. My husband couldn’t survive it seems without someone to rail against and that is often me, albeit silently in his head. That is almost more difficult because I never know what I’ve done wrong, or rather the wrong reaction he is sure I’m going to have. (sometimes I think he doesn’t actually need me to have a relationship with me, he’s had whole conversations and interactions with me inside his head before I get home from work!) So he is often resentful about nothing that actually ever happened.  And woe to me if I try to point this out!  Then I’m really the bad guy and obviously trying to make him crazy. It is an exhausting tap dance. Don’t even get me started on the anxiety!

Really there is nothing that I can do to make things better because it is a disability that belongs to him but he blames on me. Unreasonable right?  Can’t reason with the unreasonable.

Posted by YellaRyan on Apr 09, 2014 at 2:02am

That’s definitely “the way it is” when that ADHD partner has:
1) the trademark lack of self-awareness that accompanies ADHD to various different degrees, and
2) little or no desire to educate themselves on these things, then try to learn some new ways & work-arounds

Not all people with ADHD will be as oblivious, as non-cooperative, as unteachable, or as uncaring about how these issues effect other people as your wife seems to be—and as some of the Worst Case Scenario Partners of many of the non-ADHD spouses who post regularly on this forum also seem to be. 

If your wife truly does have co-morbid (co-existing) bipolar disorder then she’ll tend to be even less “changeable” than the aforementioned Worst Case Scenario Partners who ONLY have ADHD because bipolar disorder is a whole different “breed” of neurological dysfunction with much less ability to purposely & consciously attempt to control the various behaviors that manifest as part of the disease process.

In terms of living with someone who is ONLY ADHD oblivious, stubborn, non-compliant, and refuses to do anything differently (“that’s just the way I am”); I don’t think it’s a whole lot different than living with someone who is truly ADHD/bipolar.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that a large percentage of bipolar misdiagnoses are none other than those very same oblivious & non-caring (highly narcissistic) people who only have ADHD (and plenty of really obnoxious behaviors they just will not try to change or even mitigate slightly). 

If she has had the bipolar diagnosis for a long time (but it is actually only ADHD) there will also be a huge paradigm shift she would have to navigate first because she has been told by psychiatrists all along that there’s nothing you can do but medicate away the depression or mania that comes with bipolar disorder. 

In other words, bipolar IS an excuse for behavior the person has zero control over, whereas ADHD is often simply used as an excuse by those who do have the ability to change but who just don’t want to try (it can seem too much like it requires them “working” harder than they already do, and only to please someone else).

Posted by BC on Apr 09, 2014 at 3:11am

I think the hardest part for me is “coping” with my wife’s ADHD. She mirror’s our daughter, but she won’t admit that she has it, won’t get tested, already hates taking meds and thinks Nothing’s wrong with herself. With that much on the plate “change” is impossible.

I have given up on trying to get her help, but instead I’ve shifted the help onto myself. I’m seeing multiple counselors and reading that wonderful book everyone here has spoken so highly of,...“The ADHD effect on Marriage” by Melissa Orlov . I’ve learned in the past 3 weeks to ignore so many of her ADHD behaviors, that it’s helped me immensely. It’s also helped me stop being a “Tiger dad” or “Helicopter parent” to our daughter.

Though Melissa states that I should have my wife read the book, I will not do that because that’ll start WW3 in my house and I don’t need that. So to whomever is reading this, helping yourself is the best thing you can do. Because those that DON’T live with your ADHD spouse thinks your spouse is the greatest person in the world and they can’t see why we non ADHD’ers act the way we do.

Keep fighting the good fight and good luck.

Posted by not2day on Apr 09, 2014 at 3:58am

I agree totally with you, not2day. I decided to act like all the people who laugh at him and talk behind his back -  the ones he calls his friends, the ones he’d rather be with - and you know what not only is my life more peaceful but it’s easier and easier to not care what happens to him.

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 09, 2014 at 4:12am

“Because those that DON’T live with your ADHD spouse thinks your spouse is the greatest person in the world and they can’t see why we non ADHD’ers act the way we do.”

So very true!...when you show up at the extended family gathering or neighborhood potluck and the one thing your spouse was given ToDo is carry the “covered dish” to the car (because your hands are full carrying kids, a diaper bag, your purse & coat) they don’t really “get it” if when you arrive at the party, your head starts spinning (& projectile green vomit spews forth) the second you realize you’ve arrived “empty handed.” 

To them it’s “no big deal, there’s plenty of food” BUT they don’t know the half of it…

Posted by BC on Apr 09, 2014 at 4:24am

You’re right BC. We’re ALWAYS the villain. Ironically your analogy has happened to me before.

The one thing I’ve learned from Melissa Orlov’s book, is that ADHD/ADD’ers live “in the NOW”. They don’t worry about 5 minutes past their nose. So we non ADHD/ADD spouses are the ones that have to worry and plan for 5 minutes past their nose. That’s the reason why we’re always stressed and that’s why we end up suffering the Parent/Child Dynamic. It’s also the reason our ADD/ADHD spouses think that “We’re no fun”. It’s almost like we become the primary brain of our spouse as they live in the moment and enjoy things. Consequences of their actions means nothing to them.

Posted by not2day on Apr 09, 2014 at 5:50am

Hi everyone, thanks for sharing your experiences and anxieties. I can relate so much! I’ve been married for 10 years to my husband who has ADD. In 10 years, he has not changed much, not much personal growth at all. Despite 2 lengthy separations due to our serious marital problems, he still doesn’t not take responsibility for his actions and reactions. I have learned that for my own sanity I must not focus all my energy on “fixing” him or even helping him because he doesn’t care. It’s so saddening to love a person who seems to be incapable of truly caring about their own emotional health. Sure, my husband is very immature and selfish. He wakes up every morning and the first thing he does is play video games, and I must nag and nag to get him to do anything useful. (He is a disabled veteran). He is currently unemployed and at home all day, everyday playing on his xbox or sleeping.  I home-school our three oldest children and I have three who are pre-school age. (yes, we have 6 kids). 3 of our kids also have ADHD and they behave a lot like their dad, yet he has no patience for them and no desire to help them overcome some of their challenges. I definitely feel like I’m only a mom, not a wife, , because I basically need to be my husband’s brain! He does NOTHING constructive without my leadership. Then he accuses me of being controlling and nagging! Everyday has the same battles. I’m constantly being the referee between my husband and the ADHD children. They make a mistake, he over reacts, and it’s chaos until I can get everyone calmed down. I dread going anywhere with my family or being around other people because I want to filter what my husband or one of the ADHD kids might say or do. I feel anxious all day until every one is asleep, then I have some peace. My older son who doesn’t have ADD is very helpful, but even he gets frustrated and feels like he must “fill-in” for his dad! And he is only 8 years old! My in-laws, my husband’s friends, neighbors: they all think I’m using my husband and that I’m unappreciative for all he does for me! When I have tried to tell them the truth about how he acts, they all make excuses for him. Then he cries to them about how I’ve been wanting a divorce and how much he loves me and our kids….I’m definitely an evil, selfish woman in their eyes because I get so fed up with it all. They don’t know him the way I do. They don’t have 6 kids to raise with him as I do, and I’m basically a married single mom. Gosh, I needed to vent I suppose. Well, just wanted to say that we non-adhd spouses need to do whatever we must to care for ourselves holistically: body, mind and spirit. Best of luck to all of you.

Posted by Kiki808 on Apr 09, 2014 at 7:38am

Hi,  I am new to this board and site. I clicked on latest adhd conversations or something like that. Then I read this thread and I’m going into shock here!
I have only been self-diagnosed as having add and I came for some reading and learning to take place; it sure is!

Are you serious about some bait and switch dating trick. I’m either in denial or I don’t remember doing this to my hubby - but, if I did lose interest it would be because he came with his own set of hidden issues that I got tired of real quick - lies and other things. I am obviously very green about the extent and impact of adhd/add that I believe I do have.I’m trying to find someone to diagnose in this crappy town… but I hoped to find a friend or two here (I have no friends ) offline LOL. I’m thinking that I might be too sensitive to hang out on this forum. There are some bloody hurt people here by the looks of things. Anyways, please feel free to message me (if you can do that here) or chat - id really like to get to know at least one or two and maybe I can learn a few things (to help my husband cope with me) it seems, as I am oblivious to his plight I’d say, thanks mary

Posted by MaryContrar on Apr 09, 2014 at 8:04am

not2day:

ADHDers do have a propensity to live in the here & now, but that is not a universal (and note that I used the word “propensity” quite deliberately).  Those who do NOT want to “fail” (or who don’t even want to just get caught with their proverbial pants down) can be socialized into becoming so over-focused on the future (& what plans need to be enacted—meaning the creation of endless To Do Notes—at that future time) that this neurotic focus becomes the thing which makes it impossible to ever relax or ever actually BE IN the here & now. 

These are the people who end up devising lots of fool-proof systems & elaborate check-list which makes them end up looking way more like they are OCD than ADHD.  If they are as “lucky” as me (end up marrying the more prototypical ADHDer who tends to procrastinate until the very last minute, always relying on the adrenaline rush of a deadline to induce the suddenly-flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality) that list-making and perceptual future-focus (fueled only by a fear of failure) gets mis-interpreted as being due to actually being “good at” planning everything & organizing stuff. 

All the “prototypical” non-ADHD spouses can, I’m sure, predict exactly what is going to happen in this scenario—you guessed it—Prototypical ADHDer Male Spouse dumps all these tasks onto me for 20+ years (inducing The Exorcist Reaction from me at all the forgotten stuff). 

Orlov’s Symptom-Response-Response model is now on steroids. The Exorcist Glare & accompanying parental lecture immediately induces the response of You’re The Only One Who Cares About Crap Like That, Miss Perfectionist, Big Deal…

I keep writing about my experiences such as these because ADHD is just not nearly as one-size-fits-all as it may seem.  So often the biggest driving force behind many of the inevitable clashes is merely due to society’s expectations (and a non-ADHD, or ADHD, spouse who internalizes those very same expectations). 

More often than not, those who have ADHD simply learn fairly early on that they’re not going to meet those high-expectations, and they just stop even trying.  They get a perpetual fail sticker on their windshield so they down-regulate their own expectations so as not FEEL like a total failure every single day of their lives or there’s another way to cope—by ignoring all those stickers and the idiots who put them there, tell themselves they are just fine, or even wonderful. 

I see this in my own kids on a daily basis.  Growing up in this new “educational reform”
culture we as a society are drowning in (fueled by the No Child Left Behind BS) they have been given higher expectations (quantitatively) and have had homework forced on them weekly since they were in kindergarten.  As soon as they were old enough to “handle it” they were given daily (or “regular”) homework.  Both of my boys with IQs >99th percentile used to care deeply about “doing the right thing” but with near-daily fail stickers placed on their windshields they’ve become jaded & cynical at a much earlier age than our generation.  I’ve got two kids who scored better than the majority of high school juniors when they were allowed to take the SATs in 7th Grade (in Duke’s nation-wide “Talent Search”) who will be lucky to end up with GPAs that don’t make them “look like” a couple of “LAZY” slackers. 

I digress.  What I have learned since my ADHD diagnosis 5 years ago: if I’d had the “luxury” of not having ADHD myself, I would have become even more resentful and holier-than-thou than I did when I first read about all the ways his ADHD has messed up my life.  Instead of only averaging 85% resentful about 95% of the time, I would’ve been able to top that, no problem.  I only got to sit in that seat of scorn and pass judgement for four days before I realized I had it, too. 

Whenever I read the non-ADHD spouse stories on here, I obviously can relate to them.  I can 100% empathize with the Bait & Switch line because I’ve thought it a thousand times myself, and I’ve said it out loud at least a hundred.  I can 100% empathize with how cheated we feel when we find out we married a defective product.  I can 100% empathize with how it feels to become the stick in the mud who’s never any fun.  I can 100% empathize with being resented “about nothing that actually ever happened” as well as how pointing that out to him is 100% futile and will result in nothing but me becoming “the bad guy…obviously trying to make him crazy. It is an exhausting tap dance.”

When I think of all the times the tables have been turned and what it must feel like to be my husband on the other end of that insanity I cringe inside, and I just want to be forgiven and told that I will always be loved the same as the day we vowed we always would.  Then I remember that ADHD and all the knowledge and insight that comes with it is what has completely destroyed our friendship as well as our marriage. 

I can 100% empathize with being blamed for a disability that belongs to him and what it feels like to try to reason with the unreasonable. 

What none of you non-ADHD folks seem to be able to empathize with is just how horrible it feels to be rejected by your spouse and judged for something that really doesn’t “belong” to me either—I am not My ADHD.  It is an entirely separate entity from me the person (and from my husband the person).  It is a thing which none of us would wish upon our mortal enemy.  It is a thing which is so powerful that it can and will destroy something I thought was as tangible & real as the chair I’m sitting on right now—our love for each other.  Learning about ADHD and trying to learn how to cope with it destroyed the one thing I once thought I could never live without.  So now I’m stuck trying to learn how to do one more nearly impossible task and to do it practically all by myself.

Posted by BC on Apr 09, 2014 at 9:46am

The last post by BC is thought provoking ....my husband is ADD /ADHD which is now his excuse for everything as he was just diagnosed a year ago and is on meds which i think hurt his decision making .If the ADHD person could aknowlegde and not excuse their bad behavior it would be so much easier for us non ADHD spouses to have empathy and encourage their cognitive tools such as routine lists using the “let me think about it “method instead of giving in to impulse and selfish ways.i know these tools work as i have friends who are ADD /ADHD who practice these tools and live a much more productive non chaotic life than ADHD people who fall into the excuse mode .....

Posted by samm on Apr 09, 2014 at 3:44pm

Wow…Where to start!?!  So as this forum has said so much along with so many of the others-well I just Had to post a reply, albeit brief-relatively anyhow as I have plenty to SAY!  I have wanted to post to many of the others but as I too am ADD -I guess is why I maybe didn’t as any labels mentioned can apply—-!!!  Of course!!!  This isn’t a made up condition, nor contrary to some of the issues, comments -pro and mostly Cons, are REAL!!!  One thing I must say, and I believe this applies to many ADD and nons, as well-  I surely never want to be mean, self centered, obnoxious, too chatty, &/or too anything!!!  Good grief!!!?!?  Who would want to be any of those things-I mean come on!!!  Now, I realize everyone is different and unique and believe we are all children of God- & also God doesn’t make junk!!!  Also, we ADD folks are compassionate, ...& if at least I say I am sorry-well I really AM!!!  If I could take back what I said or did that was unacceptable -of Course I Would!!!  But as sending a quick reply into cyber space can’t be retracted-well neither can the email!!! Or the bad event or whatever!  I find it difficult to understand why some of those you speak about don’t want help or meds—well I guess that is like the alcoholic who doesn’t want to give up the bottle even tho the family wants the bottle Gone!!!  Right???! 

Truly the meds aren’t a cure or even the total answer, they are a true gift or tool and now that I have them would NEVER want to give them up!!!  Honestly it makes events and difficulties that occurred earlier in my life so much More understandable !!!  More soon!

Posted by Unconventional on Apr 09, 2014 at 4:54pm

Continued from above…

So, I am willing to post more and feel a need to share another perspective from the “Bad or ADD,” side as while some of my opinions are just that- I also feel are somewhat universal for allADD folks and non alike! 

We all want love and acceptance, friends and partners!..

When I think back to grade school high school and college, oh my gosh if I could have only been diagnosed then!!!  I guess ADD wasn’t as recognized or prevalent in the 70-80’s!!!  Dang!  How could I do all the work and understand it and come out with average grades… Get tested later as an adult and learn of my IQ being quite contrary to my school grades!!!  Like, I never felt or believed I was stupid or average, as my grades seemed to always want to indicate…& not a genius either—- but really!!!

Lastly, as I have only a few more minutes this morning feel a need to also share for all ADD and those who love them say (& I do commend those here who ARE Trying -like the sweet mom of 6 kids and spouse—-oh dear, I will pray for you!!!)... Please read some of the posts on the rejection sensitivity dysphoria postings and how it affects how ADD’S often feel and suffer with!  I can so relate to that, and it is very hurtful!!!

I welcome constructive feedback, questions, and thoughtful replies and help and am and also want to be respectful to non and add spouses—we are all important and seem to have a common goal in life to be productive and work as a loving and acceptable couple.

Have a great day and give yourself a pat on the back for caring enough to be willing to try to make life work-and remember a little prayer can assist as well!

grin

Posted by Unconventional on Apr 09, 2014 at 5:10pm

I can only speak for myself, but I feel that the main reason so many websites are anger filled breeding grounds for non-ADD/ADHD’ers is because of the added stress of child raising.

Children change EVERYTHING. Everyone who’s ever spoken on this website has experienced the Hyper-focus dating (be it ADD/ADHD or not). We all can agree, their’s nothing like. It’s the stuff of fairy tales. I (like many others) get married before that feeling disappeared away because I though that “This is the love I’ve been waiting for”. I (like many others) realized within 18 months that what we signed up for isn’t want we’re experiencing.

Before children, many of the ADD/ADHD symptoms my wife showed were “manageable”, because their was no stress of children. The stress of raising children is what accelerates the frustration towards our ADD/ADHD spouse. That’s why in other forum’s I’ve visited, ADD/ADHD marriages end in divorce when the kids are old enough to understand what divorce is. By that time, the non ADD/ADHDer has filed for divorce (or is separated), they have already experienced (and I bet my LEFT ARM ON THIS);

- At least One Affair by their ADD/ADHD spouse
- At least 7+ years of feeling like the only adult in the house
-At least one bout of depression
-At least Two “melt downs” per year.

So I’m sorry if my post seems to have hijacked this thread and changed it’s course. But that is what I’ve experienced. People with ADD/ADHD aren’t bad people, They’re very fun to be around. But after a while when a human being is being put under constant stress, they tend to vent or look for a way out. Just look at how we Americans have gone on public rants and protests towards our government since 2008. Because we’re stressed out.

Posted by not2day on Apr 09, 2014 at 7:01pm

Kiki808 said the one word that I think encompasses what the Non-ADD/ADHD partner feels – Frustration. I have read books and watched videos – none of them actually deal with what the non-affected person goes through; especially if/when the ADD/ADHD partner is in denial or has been raised to think he/she’s special rather than different.
“ADHD is just not nearly as one-size-fits-all as it may seem.  So often the biggest driving force behind many of the inevitable clashes is merely due to society’s expectations (and a non-ADHD, or ADHD, spouse who internalizes those very same expectations).” Amen, BC. I don’t completely agree with you on, “can 100% empathize with how cheated we feel when we find out we married a defective product”, though. I don’t think of him as a defective product, and I feel that we Both were cheated… by the era or conventional belief system his parents lived in. Shame based societies do far more harm, not only to the “patient” but to all those who come into contact with him/her, than the “illness” itself. My partner is smart and caring but all that is over-run by his defensiveness and denial.
I don’t think anyone here is bashing the ADD/ADHD sufferer (though I may have sounded like I was/am). I think however how we word our vents may sound like that but what we are saying is that this is so very frustrating for the non-ADHD partner, and honestly there is no info on how to deal with the frustration for the non-ADHD partner – only how to help the ADD/ADHD partner (and that only helps IF that help is accepted).

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 09, 2014 at 8:12pm

CullyRay: I think that’s interesting that you brought up the shame-based parenting (and connected that to defensiveness & denial).  That’s exactly the same thing I’ve concluded about my own husband’s upbringing, and the immediate defend/deny response is what threatens to shut down what could be a simple problem-solving conversation.  It leads to stonewalling and all sorts of dysfunctional dynamics. 

(And re-reading my “defective” comment—I’m thinking it “reads” a lot differently & harsher than how I intended it.)

Any tips or tricks on how to deal with the byproduct of shame-based parenting?

Posted by BC on Apr 09, 2014 at 11:50pm

Additude sent out an email today that dove-tails perfectly with the discussions here:

http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/66/slide-7.html

It’s dumbed down, but still worth a look.  Of note is the fact that many of these co-morbid conditions are not part of the ADHD diagnosis.  In my view, these conditions represent the most compelling part of an ADHD diagnosis and are the most life altering.  Screwing up at work is one thing, destroying your relationships with those you love is entirely another and is emblematic of life with ADHD.

An earlier poster commented that those who post here are those most greatly affected by ADHD.  Statistics refute that assumption.  Fully 73% of marriages where there is one ADHD partner go South.  Parent-Child Syndrome is as accurate a descriptor for an ADHD afflicted marriage as I have ever heard. 

Best to all of you

Posted by LakeLife on Apr 10, 2014 at 12:22am

BC, I wish I had some tips or tricks… we’re in our 60s and in the beginning (when we were in our 40s) we worked together and he was very impressive at the job. I now know that our shifts kept a lot of his behavior out of my sight. Looking back I would like to think that there were opportunities for change that I missed but hindsight being 20/20 what I see is that there were warning signs that I ignored. I had no idea what I was dealing with and (I think like many of us) thought and hoped things would get better, he was just having a hard day, or he was just having too much fun on the weekends/days off.

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 10, 2014 at 12:23am

The shame based life style usually leads to “self-medication” (to ease the pain/shame or as an excuse for the behavior).

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 10, 2014 at 12:25am

This thread is also the most compelling and well-written I have read in the 3+ years I have been visiting this site.  Wow is all I can say.  Thanks.

Posted by LakeLife on Apr 10, 2014 at 12:40am

In my 10 years being married to someone with ADHD (and in my 3 years of talking in ADD/ADHD forum’s), I’ve learned:

1. Everyone is at a different ADD/ADHD severity. What Paul exhibits isn’t the same severity as Lisa or Marco. 

2. Because of the constant overflow of thoughts in their head, they have a hard time filter through the chaos. As a result, many things are forgotten. So they resort to impulsive behavior, because it brings instant gratification. As the saying goes “Do what feels right.”

3. Because of the tendency to Hyper-focus (and impulsive behavior), once your spouse has started hyper-focusing on another person, be ready for an “emotional affair” which may lead to a sexual affair. When you confront your spouse about it, be ready to be called “crazy”. Because to them, they see nothing wrong with their behavior towards their “close/good friend”. In most cases as I’ve been told in another forum, they don’t realize what they’ve done until 3+ months of an affair (when the hyper-focus starts to wear off). By that time, they’ve dug themselves in a hole and can’t deny what’s happened so far. Now the ADD/ADHD’er dreads having to admit what’s happened to their spouse.

Remember,...EVERY relationship is built on trust. If you can’t trust yourself around a certain person (meaning you the ADD/ADHD’er), how do you expect your spouse to trust you, when you can’t trust yourself?

To any ADD/ADHD person that reads this, put yourself in my nonADD/ADHD shoes. Even you the ADD/ADHD’er have trouble with your own self esteem, with your own self worth and with controlling yourself. If your spouse is supposed to be your other half, and your half (meaning you) is already in turmoil,...what do you expect your other half to be experiencing?

Posted by not2day on Apr 10, 2014 at 2:53am

Hey, my first post to this site generated much more comment than expected! Thank you to all who replied. As I read it I felt like I was listening to the blues. Blues music is about hard stuff, real life disappointments. The content is tragic but somehow it’s uplifting, expressing, “Someone knows how I feel.” Life sucks but I’m not alone.

Non ADHD spouses and spices, thanks for sharing your songs!

Posted by Blues on Apr 10, 2014 at 3:28am

It’s a choice to remain oblivious and it’s a choice not to try to better yourself. It’s also the choice a non ADHD partner makes to continue to put up with behavior and not do anything about it.
I have ADHD and I’m fully aware of my shortcomings. I’m also fully aware of my many attributes. If I’m being an ass, I fully expect to be told about it and I have so much more respect for someone who does because I truly don’t want to do anything hurtful. But how will I know if I’m never told? It’s up to you partners, parents, and friends out there to hold us accountable and help us improve esp if you’re really expecting to see changes.

Posted by adhdmom2000 on Apr 10, 2014 at 4:40am

I admit in that it would really stink to put up with what many of you have posted here!  I can’t imagine dealing with all aspects of a relationship, working-profession, managing a household, and then many have kids- to then have them display denial and unwillingness to take responsibility for themselves-I find unacceptable… 
So-Yes I agree that it is or would all be an enormous package, and certainly I don’t have answers for the complex issues summarized in these posts!!! It’s overwhelming just reading them!

I do feel for all however , as I know struggles exist in any relationship and it becomes complicated with these issues as it would be with any type of health situation, accident or disability.  I do feel however that the “excuse,” of ADHD can be somewhat flimsy -& mind you I fall in this category-!!!  We All have to follow the same rules and laws in society, and while these May be less defined in a relationship they are still important!

Posted by Unconventional on Apr 10, 2014 at 6:05am

Very interesting thread going here - very real and ‘coal face’ stuff.
Every time I’m reading someones experience my eyes are opened and this is really appreciated in my journey.

I wanted to say that although I am not yet assessed by a specialist - in the learning process I have come to realize that I am likely also married to an add/adhd husband. I have had him take a few tests online and he aces them all.
I have made calls now and await a referral from a new GP to get us both to a psychiatrist here.

Reading what you non-adhd’ers wrote about your spousal experiences dropped a bomb on me - all this I feel I have been living with for 11 years; quietly simmering away and eating away at our relationship.
I never heard of this bait n switch. But when I met my hubby online that first year he would phone me 4 times each day and talk for 6-8 hours at a time if he could - we were in different countries and he would still call like this to the degree that I entered into a committed relationship with a man who never even would send me a recent photo of himself. He had me fall head over heels with him.. I loved this after just becoming divorced it was not what I was looking for but anyways…  the next year he said he could not live without me and left his job and came to my country and when his visa was due to expire we rushed a marriage through…. soon after - I began to put 2 and 2 together and realized that he was an alcoholic.. very well hidden, a binge drinker.found he was penniless, and had no issues with leaving debt behind him.. I went to a shrink once who said that there was a parent/child relationship going on and this scared me as I saw that for the first time too… However, my wonderful knight in shining Armour turned out the be the most caring and kind individual but not someone who could pay the bills or save a penny or—basically take care of me like I thought he would.. So people reading this long dull message - do you think that I had a bait n switch scenario sort of thing done to me - is this like what you are all referring to?
Each time I read the threads here the pennies just keep dropping to the floor - kaching - kaching - all my nightmares about hubby for the last decade are starting to seem like they are getting easier to follow if indeed he has this affliction also… and perhaps I do not. I seem to be the distracted type and I do not know what type you call hubby yet. this is all new for me. But he says he wants answers about all this - so I’m lucky I guess.. but I can sure see a +diagnosis being a great excuse for him getting his credit cards declined, his credit rating ruined, his videos never returned to the store and the debt collection notices that accompany - and the latest is that 2 days ago his doctor wrote him and said dhe no longer would see him as he lied to her. Well, he stockpiles basic meds and she felt that was wrong. I am sorry for him that she made him feel shamed over this.
Are there any others here where both people in the relationship have add and perhaps different types?
Id sure like to talk to someone about it..

I’m not wanting to hijack this thread so please tell me which is a better thread for me to post in, thanks

Thx unconventional for the care and support smile
Blessings
Mary

Posted by MaryContrar on Apr 10, 2014 at 10:08am

This thread is turning into a live Dr.Phil session. We seem to be comforting each other. I’m surprised that it’s still going on.

But I’m also happy that it is, I can honestly say that sometime having someone experience what you experience can bring you hope. The feeling of “I’m the only person on earth going through this” goes away. Regardless of how much crap your going through knowing someone else is experiencing it to makes you feel less overwhelmed with grief. That’s why I’m very fortunate for forum’s like this (and others like it).

Marriage isn’t easy. If it was everyone would be married. The word Divorce won’t exists in any dictionary.

And to the ADD/ADHD’ers that DO ADMIT to what’s going on, whom do make an effort, who do take medication, who do hold themselves accountable,...I Thank you. As you’ve read so many people refuse to even admit that their’s something wrong, refuse medication, refuse to take ownership of their behavior and refuse to even entertain the idea of being evaluated by a professional.

Posted by not2day on Apr 11, 2014 at 10:21pm

I’m a 45 year old woman, only self diagnosed as having ADHD. As a child I always got on my report cards (doesn’t follow instructions) also I used to get in trouble for staring or daydreaming when I was in school.  I started smoking at age 13, and some may wonder why I am posting this, but the symptoms that led me to believe I have ADHD happened when I went back to college, and shortly after, I quit smoking. I was in the health care field, and they said I would never graduate, I was slow, unorganized, can’t multi task, I couldn’t focus, and I didn’t have time management skills.  I graduated 2nd in my class.  No one but me any my family knew how hard I had to work to do this. School 24/7. I had no life for 2 years in this medical program. It took a toll on my husband and two HS students.  I graduated, it took some time but I got a job. I loved this job, it was awesome I looked forward to it every day, making a difference in people’s lives, caring for people, and helping them to feel better. My dream job. I came to work every day I was scheduled, 15 minutes early, and I stayed late. I did everything I was supposed to do. I got a long with everyone, and the patients loved me. I was warned after 30 or 45 days that I should be getting faster at my job(too slow), I am not good at time management, and I am not organized. I was a little surprised because I thought I was doing a good job. I would stay later to finish my job (I would clock out).  I thought my problem was that I care too much.  I liked to spend time with my patients, give them the best care possible, explain the treatments, answer questions, listen to their stories, etc… When I tried not to care so much, and started to time myself, I even went as far as creating a spreadsheet of treatments, times, problems, etc… to see what I was doing wrong.  I did get a little better, and I was talked to again, then I got even a little more better with my treatment times, my organization and my time management, but shortly after, it was suggested to me to find something more suitable that is not fast paced.  I was devastated.  I was told that I am an amazing person, that I go above and beyond for my patients, that I am a team player, that I am kind, caring, intelligent, a great teacher, etc… I even was given 3 great reference letters from the hospital. I also have a marriage that is failing, been married for over 3 years, but have been together almost 6 years. My husband is OCD I believe and both of us were married once and divorced. I have 5 kids, and 5 grandkids, and a big family. He has 1 kid I have never met and a very small family, parents are deceased and sister lives out of state, and brother doesn’t really get a long with him. He threatens to divorce me every month or so. 
I will admit I am great in the beginning of all of my relationships because I want to spend every minute with that person trying to get to know them. In fact one time we talked all night long after our date and I went home, never went to bed and went straight to work.
(all I can say is - it gave me instant gratification, he made me feel good, I made him feel good and we enjoyed being together, we were in love)  We put effort into our relationship (time & attention) over time people put less time & attention into the relationship.  I have a big family, I was working and going to school, raising 2 teens and trying to make time for all of my family.  He only had to worry about me.
I do hyperfocus on many things, I can work on a video taping, dvd’s or on computers for hours straight. I know my faults, and weaknesses, but they are not so easily fixed.  Some people act as if we can turn a switch or take a pill and we are fixed. It is just not that easy.  We are wired differently, that is all I can say.  For example I did a report on COPD (report, speech, and power point) some people did theirs a day or two before it was due, it took me over 100 hours. You would think I was a perfectionist but I am not. I just work very hard to get good grades. My home life is the problem. I need help please. I know my husband is frustrated with me, he thinks I am lazy and l lack discipline.  When we first started dating I warned him about how I am. I also told him I needed his help.  He has gone overboard to help me.  He has succeeded in helping me not lose things, or forget things, and to be more organized.  At times he makes me feel like he is my dad. He makes me feel stupid, and that I am broken or something. I love him but I just feel like he doesn’t respect me. I don’t know what to do.  He thinks it is so easy for me to change. I am willing to try taking this generic Ritalin even though I am against it for health reasons, just because I want to save my marriage. He is also mad at me because we got married 3 years ago and I haven’t changed my name. I said I would and I did change my DL but haven’t done my SS yet. I feel like he tries to control me. I am not a cheat, a liar, a drug or alcohol addict, I’m not mean or pushy, I don’t tell him what to do or what not to do. I could be worse right?  Please help, thanks

Posted by nsimental on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:30am

As posted above by Lakelife and connection to the following link- as it may be dumbed down, but a good link, well, I am putting here for others to reference again, in case it was missed…this forum is LONG!
http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/66/slide-7.html#sthash.vJozmon0.dpuf

Also, see Dr. Hallowell’s writings/summary at the link here and have pasted two of his points that I find to be helpful for those with ADHD & also those wanting to help those with ADHD….
  http://www.drhallowell.com/adult-adhd-50-tips-of-management/

I pasted ONLY 2 of his suggestions, and again, they are just that!  Taken as quotes, “...”

—#4 Encouragement. ADHD adults need lots of encouragement. This is in part due to their having many self-doubts that have accumulated over the years. But it goes beyond that. More than the average person, the ADHD adult withers without encouragement and positively lights up like a Christmas tree when given it. They will often work for another person in a way they won’t work for themselves. This is not “bad”, it just is. It should be recognized and taken advantage of.

—#12- Remember that what you have is a neuropsychiatric condition. It is genetically transmitted. It is caused by biology, by how your brain is wired. It is NOT a disease of the will, nor a moral failing. It is NOT caused by a weakness in character, nor by a failure to mature. It’s cure is not to be found in the power of the will, nor in punishment, nor in sacrifice, nor in pain. ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS. Try as they might, many people with ADHD have great trouble accepting the syndrome as being rooted in biology rather than weakness of character.——-

—-***MY Summary/or observation and Feeling on the above and this thread, so far-(and remember feeling is what I am supposed to be doing too much of whether good or bad/is what I am offering here!...)

I see number 4 as so true!  And, I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be encouraged by SINCERE Encouragement, regardless!  Who can’t appreciate sincerity, encouragement, praise, thankfulness, and/or positive feedback/remarks?  Find something good, and build on it.  My mom always said, Sugar works better than Vinegar!  Remember if you love one another, negativitity and insults are felt deeply by those who have been aflicted with adhd, and certainly any type of abuse is not and should never be found as acceptable.  I know I don’t want a pitty party for having dealt with add all of my life, mostly undiagnosed, but I also don’t want to be beat up for every little thing either!
NO ONE IS PERFECT!  Having to BE Perfect, is unrealistic and Stressful!  Besides, my significant other is NOT perfect either!  No one IS! 

—Then, in referring to #12= to diagnosis/and acceptance of whatever condition you deal with, whether ADHD or anything, is always helpful!

WITH understanding what ADHD is, also KNOW, that at least with our 2 kids who are also adhd and myself, that many of the things we do that annoy those of you that don’t have this condition, we don’t mean to do! If we could take back some of our mistakes, some of the things we said or did, the lack of interest we may show in something, etc…well WE WOULD!  It may not appear that we ARE TRYING, but often WE Truly ARE!  I know I can’t speak for everyone, and we are all unique, but in at least the small sample size here I can honestly say that much of what we do if we could do it differently-we WOULD! 

Medication, and self awareness can greatly assist!  I know and believe that a supportive spouse, friend/s,  and/or other family members can help as well, when constructive and positive relationships and trust can be built.

We all deserve love and respect, and know it isn’t easy to change or meet everyones expectations.

The book Love and Respect, a Christian based book on relationships many find very helpful.  I believe much of what is written in the book, as much is Biblically based, however also find I differ from the norm!  So, they say women want Love and Men want respect.  Well, just as nsimental says in this forum, she(and I believe she is a she..) feels that she isn’t being respected, as I have felt as well.

I do find some gender stereotyping, as well as medical profiling of issues like adhd to be confining, annoying, innacurate, and inappropriate…NOT the—ONE SIZE FITS ALL!  I just don’t BUY “One size Fits All!”  We are all different!  Yet, naturally have overlap with similarity/easily categorized/or labeled as having add, and not.

Posted by Unconventional on Apr 16, 2014 at 12:23am

There are some huge misconceptions about what ADHD does. It can cause someone to be forgetful, slow to make decisions, and scattered. It does NOT cause someone to lie, cheat, or steal. It does not cause abusive or negligent behaviors and it does not cause someone incapable of doing well in a job or relationship. Bad behavior is a choice.

Posted by adhdmom2000 on Apr 16, 2014 at 12:40am

and there it is.
A spouse of someone with ADD/ADHD writes asking for help. Those of us who know what he is going through respond, and someone with ADD/ADHD gets offended.
This is how it is in my experience as well. No matter what I say or how I say it, he get offended. It seems that any and all efforts to adjust or give respect are to be by the non-ADD/ADHD spouse. The years or decades that the non-ADD/ADHD spouse has tried to understand, help, or just put up with a condition that they didn’t have any idea they would have to deal with do not matter. Even Christ told us that three tries was good enough (Matthew 18:15-17).

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 16, 2014 at 1:06am

Thank You ADHDMom2000. If my husband’s parents had treated him with Respect when he was a child he would have learned to love himself and not be so ashamed that he makes terrible choices that just compound the shame.

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 16, 2014 at 1:11am

Cully Ray:
Something that ties both of your two last posts together, I think, is that if his parents had treated him with respect (as well as, I suspect, not resorting to defining any/all mistakes as character flaws—those two seem to go hand in hand—all “bad behavior” gets defined as character flaw) THAT is what gets us adults stuck with extremely defensive mates (or defensive personalities ourselves). 

No matter what you say or how you say it most criticism gets run through the filters our parents created (judgemental parents who motivated with guilt & shame—how any behavior they did not approve of and wanted to change MEANT the person was selfish, lazy, etc).  Criticism always comes with judgement and that is offensive!

I don’t know how to FIX that problem, however, after that damage has been done…

Posted by BC on Apr 16, 2014 at 3:45am

I think that as long as the ADD/ADHD person is in denial then it’s impossible to “fix” anything. Which then also affects the non-ADD/ADHDD partner/friend etc. because they don’t know or see the problems as Not being the result of choice.
Education is what needs to take place. Not crying victim or pointing fingers, and (as I saw recently on FB) NOT making jokes about or fun of ADD/ADHD.

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 16, 2014 at 10:05pm

Dr. Russell Barkley is (IMHO) a life saver. His books and youtube videos are realistic and down to earth.
http://www.russellbarkley.org/books.html

Posted by CullyRay on Apr 16, 2014 at 11:00pm

A theme here of anADHD person not accepting the label, not wanting the meds or help, feeling criticized all the time—-well, from our experiences here certainly can relate to all of that and more!!!  On the side of not wanting to accept the ADHD label-is understandable as well!  So, naturally who wants a label or drugs?
????Think about it, who wants to be labeled as having a Mental Disorder, a Personality Flaw, a Behavior Problem, in need of Pysycholigical evaluation or counseling, &/or etc…!!!  After struggling lifelong with constant labels like, Lazy, inattentive, impulsive. &/or etc!

So while I can see the aversion to wanting to accept or take responsibility for this diagnosis, just wanted to restate the obvious as if you aren’t the one with the “flaw,” it does take a willingness to accept this, and personal pride and what not have to be swallowed!  THAT is not easy to do!!! 

We have accepted this and try to deal with our “issues,” as best we are able, and DO Appreciate those that aren’t overly critical and find ways to look for the positive in us!

In fact I can also relate to how annoying it is to deal with someone who is out of control and not diagnosed, as we have a cousin and a nephew who are and while we know exactly what’s going on find it all Very annoying and disruptive at family gatherings, but this is a topic for another column!

Posted by Unconventional on Apr 17, 2014 at 12:04am

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