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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Goes from Divorce one day to love the next - THe Runaway

On at least 3 different occasions, usually at times of increased stress, ADD husband will have what appears (to me) as a mini-manic episode and threatens to runaway, or does runaway, and then comes back. LAst week, in couples counseling he announced that he was done and couldn’t stand living with me anymore.  THis followed an incident in which I called him out on a lie. He left to “help” his parents and since then has texted and called and professed love and commitment…it’s as if the “dumping” didn’t even happen.  Abrupt. Whiplash-like decisions.  Sound familiar?  Any coping strategies or insights into this kind of behavior?


I am the ADD wife, but the one who does the dumping and coming back is my husband. I wonder if it is a case of bipolar or something similar.

For the “dumped” party, the dumping is completely real. The first time my husband did that I had only been married for a week when I skipped a comma in some literature for one of his auctionsand he said he wanted the divorce.

I thought the reaction was too extreme for such a small thing like a comma, considering that people disagree a lot on where to put commas and that English is not my first language.

Anyways, I spent one terrible week calling lawyers and trying to figure out what would become of me, new to this country and with no family or friends here.

After that week, he just came and behaved as if nothing happened and wanted to go about his day. I was so resented, when I asked for an explanation, he said he did not mean it and just kept going on whith what he was doing.

His behavior has often made me wonder if I have to go back home by myself from stores where we are shopping, if he took of for a trip, for a while, or forever.

What I have done is to grow emotionally and financially independent from him. If he wants to go somewhere, he can go. If he wants to come back, he can come. I think that if he is putting up with my ADD, I can put up with his episodes.

Posted by najn on Dec 16, 2013 at 9:50pm

THank you for your input. My ADD husband is so “in the moment.” When he is loving it feels “real”, but he can go from ovine and committed to ” I can’t live with you” within a day…or overnight.  It also feels real. Very painful.  He has just started to address his ADD diagnosis and I’m hopeful that there will some alleviation of the above behavior, as well as some other hurtful behaviors.  It’s so hard to tell when he’s being ADD, or if he’s just being an ass. Ether way, the behavior is unacceptable, but I’m at a loss as to what to do about accountability.  I also sense “in my gut” that what he calls ADD episodes, are manic or hypomanic episodes and running away is always involved.  Wonder if this is “typical” ADD or bipolar behavior. Two days after the “dumping” he’s professing love, but will not refer back to the episode…as if it didn’t even happen. I’m afraid to bring it up for fear of triggering something…

Posted by stillhere on Dec 17, 2013 at 9:29pm

Hi stillhere!

Dr. Dodson talks a lot about emotional over-sensitivity in adults with ADHD. Your story immediately reminded me of his theory on the subject. Here’s a really concise article on it over on Maybe that will help shed some light on his extreme reactions.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:16pm

THank you, Penny. IT was helpful in terms of understanding. Now to find ways to cope!

Posted by stillhere on Dec 19, 2013 at 10:51pm

From Gabor Mate (Scattered Minds): “One of the most perplexing problems for the non-ADD partner is what John Ratey has called “the ahistorical memory” of the ADD mind. In other words, the ADD adult (and also of course the ADD child) functions at times as if previous events, even the most recent ones, had never taken place.” ... “Another aspect of ahistorical memory is its either-or nature. When, for example, a person recalls the good times in a relationship, it is almost as if nothing bad had ever happened. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: when one is remembering the bad, the good may as well not have occurred.”
These are just ‘sample’ thoughts from his book, you’d need to read it all for complete understanding; unfortunately “coping” is a lot about knowledge and understanding.
With understanding comes acceptance, with acceptance, peace. It’s not easy but it sure is worth it.
Imagine you never had a dog and then got one ‘cause it was cute. Then the cute puppy starts to bark a lot. Annoying yes. So you need to do some dog training and learn that by going to dog school. Still the dog barks at times ... Then you learn more about your dog breed; you learn it is barking to protect it’s territory and person - it’s doing its dog job by barking. So the annoyance of barking is now peaceful because of the safety you feel ...
Analogies are tough - so is living with an ADHD’r. Yet as you learn about their nature, how their brain’s work, how they think, life becomes easier. Especially if the ADHD’r is working on their stuff too.
Life should never be about just ‘coping’ ... life should be about adventure and living out the desires of your heart.

Posted by HenryC on Dec 20, 2013 at 5:41am

As crazy as this is going to sound, but I’ve learned to roll with the punches. At times when my undiagonised wihfe or diagnoised daughter gets caught up in the moment, they forget things that happened.

For example, my daughter told me that I never pay attention to her when she’s drawing. Then I clamly reminded her of all the pictures she drew literally sitting right next to me for the past week. And she realized that I was right. I didn’t take it personal, but that’s just how it is. Or how my wife will complain how I don’t compliment her enough. I pull out my journal of times I’ve complimented her and I never mention how she compliments me once ever season. I don’t tell her I make it my duty (because affirmation is a big part of her love language), to compliment her weekly, heart felt and out of the blue. I can’t force myself to do it daily, but every week I make sure to compliment her at least once.

I’ve learned to roll with the punches. Don’t take it to personal, they get caught up and whatever pops in their mind comes out their mouth. It is what it is.

Posted by not2day on Dec 31, 2013 at 12:25am

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