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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Dreading "the talk" with him...first time ADD will be brought up

This is my first post. I joined this group in desperate search of anyone/anything that could encourage me to stay strong, hopeful and supportive of my husband & our marriage of 5.5 years.
This past week, it hit me like a ton of bricks that my husband has ADD. He has not yet been evaluated but I have read so many posts and articles from other non ADD partners that perfectly reflect my experience. I could have written so many of those stories myself. I know I have to make time to share this with him and I get sick just thinking about how that talk will go. Ugh…..
For those of you that have already talked to your partners, how did you initially share your concern/observations in such a way that didn’t trigger them to get defensive or angry and shut down? (I wonder if that is even possible….)
I know you can’t give me exact dialogue as every person & situation is different, but I guess I am looking for any ideas of how to have this very difficult conversation with my husband. I am already anticipating him denying the symptoms- he will probably feel shame or insulted that I would suggest such an idea, and probably even anger or betrayed. He usually reacts like that when I bring up other important matters like our finances, disciplining our children, domestic responsibilities, etc. Everything is usually a fight and very rarely gets resolved easily. He used to react very aggressively too, but we immediately sought counseling for that and so he has calmed down a lot since then. Of course, I still worry if the “Hulk” will return.
I really wanted to address this during a joint counseling session but our counselor (who we mainly see individually) suggested I try it alone first mainly because she doesn’t want him to feel “ganged up on” and unsafe about going back (he recently started opening up a little more to her). She really thinks she could be there to help us through it all once everything is out in the open.
Fyi, we have 3 small children (under 4) and are in major debt. I now see that my husband’s disorganization, financial irresponsibility, impulsiveness, many distractions, lack of follow through and apathy are most likely linked to ADD. I have not always seen it like this though which has made me come off to him as a “nagging, super hard to satisfy” wife. Just recently we started to see some growth in our marriage but our counselor tells me she credits my “acceptance” that I cannot change him, only myself. Still, I imagine he might think I have reverted to my old ways of suggesting that HE is the problem…..sigh.
I welcome any suggestions/personal stories. Thank you in advance…..

Replies

If you can think of some ADHD traits/characteristics that he doesn’t like about himself (something he kicks himself in the butt about) that might be an angle to think about.  Whatever you do it cannot sound anything even remotely like criticism.

While you contemplate that difficult question the Number 1 resource for you is the book “The ADHD Effect on Marriage,” by Melissa Orlov.  Her website is adhdandmarriage.com—maybe you can find some tips over there about how to have “the talk.”

Posted by BC on Feb 25, 2014 at 9:22am

Tell your husband that you have seen two(2) neurologists and they have confirmed you have add/adhd.  Tell him your family dr recommended you see the neurologists.  And they have said it is necessary to reorganize your life based on their recommendations. Then ask him what he thinks the both of you should do…

Mel

Posted by melvyn on Feb 25, 2014 at 9:22am

Thank you BC. Thank you Mel.

Posted by naggingwife on Feb 25, 2014 at 11:23am

I waited to speak to my husband when the kids weren’t around, but more importantly at a time when he felt bad about something he had done. In a calm manner I suggested that maybe this ISNT his fault and suggested that this could be something he is unable to control. I started that way. He seemed to get a “lightbulb” for about few days and I thought he was contemplating getting help. My point is that it could take many conversations. This is a man we are talking about, and they do have pride and egos to consider oh yeah and stubborn streaks! Don’t nag, try to come from a caring place and try to help him to see that HE isn’t stupid or careless or wanting to behave this way, it’s the disorder which can be treated. Just like anything else, if he had diabetes and was insulin dependent he would HAVE to take the insulin to survive. That’s the example I used with my husband. Let me know if that helps! Here for you, P

Posted by Plwood15 on Feb 25, 2014 at 3:48pm

Jumping off from something Plwood15 said, here’s one of my all time favorites from the website I referred to: http://www.adhdmarriage.com/content/undiagnosed-adhd-can-make-you-angry

It’s not a How To Have The Talk post but it does convey exactly what it’s like to be the one having another one of those “Incredible Hulk” moments (as well as what other people’s reactions, attitudes—and worst of all judgements—do to you over time).

I “get it” from both sides, btw, because my hubby has ADHD (but we always “knew” that since he was that typical hyper boy).  What we didn’t know was how much ALL of our “issues” centered around ADHD stuff.  When I stumbled on a Top Ten List of How Hard It Is Being Married to Somebody With ADHD and there they were, every big complaint I’d ever had, in Black & White, I sent him the list (along with yet another plea to start taking meds).  I mention this only as a tried & true method of How Not To Have The Talk.

I tried to soften the blow of my big impulsive mess up four days later now that I’d read everything I could possibly find about ADHD in adults.  It went something like this: “OK, so remember that list I sent you?  Well you can just send it right back to me…and I do realize NOW that I’ve heard most of those same complaints from you over the years.  Sorry.”

I also read about Orlov’s book that was going to be published soon and couldn’t wait to read it.  By the time it was in print I had, unfortunately, already made close to every single mistake she mentions.  It is a MUST read!

Posted by BC on Feb 25, 2014 at 7:46pm

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