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You sound just like me (and just like us) Once Upon A Time.  I’ll go ahead and predict the future for you—either he steps up to the plate and DOES something to “fix” what you want “fixed” (because he CAN do those things & what you want him to do is reasonable & attainable) or you slowly lose all hope, all respect, and more importantly, all that “soulmate love.”  Everything turns into resentment and disappointment.

And in the process you become a broken record that keeps on saying “But I thought we agreed you’d stop doing this & start doing that & be consistent, yet why is it that what you’re telling me instead is ‘Sorry, I promise I’ll really do it this time.’”

Eventually the broken record stops saying it nicely—“But you’ve promised me that a thousand f$&@ing times!”  At that point you have now become The Bitch and then it’s all downhill from there.

Posted by BC on Apr 27, 2014 at 5:58am

If your husband is your soulmate, there is hope. But as I have learned and believe continue to learn, it is about how we word things, how we say it, and our responses to our spouse that can ease or break a situation. I did not know how my husband’s stress outside of our home affected his behavior towards me. Have goals for days or for the week, make little notes or quick texts, and force yourself to be positive and a leader for your marriage. Remain calm and only address situations that matter in a way that will be received as wanting the best for you both. Show concern and not despair. Know that his actions sometimes make no sense and his coping skills need help. He needs to be accountable and you need boundaries for your own emotional well-being. It can be better. I was separated ready for divorve and a year later, we are together in the same house but trying to listen before responding. Purposefully choosing words that will help not hurt. And sometimes, words need to be few. All my best…I still get hurt emotionally at times but you need to be happy with yourself and know his lackings don’t need to hold you back.

Posted by PA on Apr 27, 2014 at 6:35am

Love isn’t always enough.
If meds are an option try them, they can work miracles. I’ve gotten more done in the past 2 months than the past 2 years.
If not, you might try counseling first but if worst comes to worst, leave before there is nothing left of you.
Please remember this is a physical problem not a moral or ethical one. If he had been normal when you two met and then had a brain injury it mght be clearer to you.
If he doesn’t have ADD he might have some other type of brain malfunction.
If you have not yet done so, clean up your diet, no junk food, no artificial flavors, no transfats, check into food sensitivities such as lactose, gluten, salicylates, oxalates, amines and multiple chemical sensitivities,
check out diets for ADD, sometimes amino acids can help but were not enough for me. go ‘green’ chemical exposure makes things worse.
Exercise often helps but has to be consistent.
All these help minimize the brain dysfunction but the core issue is that generally not enough blood flows to parts of the brain and/or certain brain chemicals do not work normally for a variety of reasons, no need to go into details at the moment.
alcohol is often a way to self medicate and will make things worse in the long run.
surprisingly nicotine often helps. get thyroid checked and blood pressure, often low.
Until I started to feel the effects of the medication, I truly did not understand just how much my brain, mood, and physical well being was impacted. I tried for 2 years to optimize my health and use non medication alternatives. Many helped to some degree but not enough.
If you do not have ADD I doubt you could ever really ‘get’ what it is like. Without medication I need huge amounts of adrenaline to get anything done and I’m old enough now that running on adrenaline is not good for my body, not really good for anyone.
This will not ‘go away’. If he won’t try meds,  leaving is probably your best option for yourself. If meds don’t work, you will have to decide if the good stuff is worth it.
He didn’t choose to be born this way or have an accident that damaged his brain and triggered it. Neither do autistics do anything to cause it. If you can find ADD coaching it might help some.
But if it comes down to splitting up, do so before love turns into hate from the frustration.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 27, 2014 at 7:31am

Dear no hope;

My husband said those words to me because my ADD made him so angry he couldn’t stand it anymore.We might have divorced then. It must be so hard to remain yourself when nothing that is reasonable seems to make a difference.

You dont write that your husband is on meds and that worries me.
His brain is not working correctly: it cant focus like yours does and it cant remember well either. The correct meds can enable his brain to focus and recall events better than he does now, but not as well as you do.

When I took straterra, I was able to notice when I drifted off the task I wanted to do. This was new for me. I realized that I always seem to myself to be the same even when I dont take meds, but I am able to do things and finish when I take the meds.

Perhaps this is a good time to try out some ADHD meds and see how or if they work to help your husband be less forgetful. Most people need to try different meds to see what works for them.

All the reading and talking about ADHD in the world cannot make a difference if he does not have the ability to make a change.

Its ok to be furious.

Posted by wrongagain on Apr 27, 2014 at 7:41am

How about when your husband won’t admit he has ADD.
Mine has been over compensating for so long that he flips EVERYTHING that he does wrong to make it my fault. 
He can’t make up his mind about anything, and then when he asks me to help, he tells me its the wrong choice.
When he buys clothes he buys the same things over and over again because he cant make up his mind Buys the same shoes over and over for 21 years that ive known him.
He makes a good living in the trade hes in but its because its all he knows.  hes VERY disorganized. he buys 10 of the same item because he can never find anything
Im partially disabled and cant work,and have no where nto go
how can i convince him to get help?

Posted by micheleliz on Apr 27, 2014 at 9:13am

The more I read and see that other people have the same problems with their ADD/ADHD spouse as I do it brings me a sense of relief with no real solution other than learn to accept it or walk away from a person you love who may love you but just can’t or won’t do what would make the relationship work.i love the information gadfly shares not sure if your a man or woman but if my husband had that approach I would be willing to work with him, right now we are separated and filing for divorce after a 23 year marriage with two wonderful children 20 and 17 years old.HE is on medication (vyvance) he drinks, he focuses on his needs 9 times out of 10.and leaves me and our children angry frustrated and hurt by his selfishness forgetfulness impulsive actions and words and last but not least his justification and list of excuses with no willingness to amend or fix his behavior .like I said i don’t feel quite as alone with this issue but can see my only solution being to cut him loose and go it alone .

Posted by samm on Apr 27, 2014 at 5:33pm

I could have written your post 30 years ago, when I was into my marriage 5 years. Fast forward… 35 years into my marriage….nothing has changed, except my love for him and me. I do not love him, can barely tolerate him, am bitter and resentful. Not a pretty picture. Finally, I am realizing that I have a life to live, albeit without him. I can work to heal my bitterness and I still have the capacity to love someone. He is an incredible success at his work, and turns into a child at home. Sex is non-existent between us for years now, I have often wondered whether he is gay or not.  We do have 5 loving well-rounded children together, (3 with ADHD but VERY different from their father) and THEY are what has made this marriage worthwhile. We are an attractive mid fifties couple with no life together. He wants a mother and I want a man to truly share my love and life with.  One of us still has a chance to have what we want/need.  Think hard about your future, I would NEVER repeat my past, NEVER!

Posted by sparklefarkle on Apr 27, 2014 at 8:17pm

I to could have written your post .My husband has ADHD .we have been together for 23 years. He is impulsive,not dependable,completely disorganized, can not handle money, selfish,  unaffectionate , and he lies to me when it suits him.  I also forgot he takes no responsibility for his actions and he breaks and destroys alot of things around the house because he is so clumsy . Yet he is successful at his job. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard .i will get help , i will change , try harder,sorry,. I am at the point where I wonder every day why am I still here.  I know in my heart things will not get better. I figure for myself I will stay until I cant take it anymore. Good luck to you!

Posted by Understandable on Apr 27, 2014 at 10:05pm

I sooooo feel for you.  I really do.

I know it can feel like you have been hoodwinked into a relationship and into overfunctioning for him since probably, like my own husband, there were a couple of years there where you were the center of the universe and now he is utterly perplexed about these “needs” you keep bringing up as if they have absolutely nothing to do with him.

Five years after diagnosis was right about where we were a year ago - and it was way worse than the years before diagnosis.  I think a couple things happen.  First, when you get the diagnosis you are so relieved to have an answer that there is a surge of energy and it seems like everything will be OK, because now you “know”, right?  Then a couple years down the line you are both frustrated because nothing significantly has changed and whatever treatment you have done seems to only affect his quality of life but yet you are still doing everything.  Then at about 5 years it all seems to have escalated and then you are,  well, right where you are now.  The ADHD brain avoids things that are hard, and really dealing with ADHD symptoms, not to mention the huge emotional impact of untreated ADHD takes work, a lot of work.  He no doubt is at a point where he sees he either has to do the work or realize his ADHD will never be any better manages.

Here are some strategies that have worked for me.  Take them or leave them as you will.


2. OK, did you hear that?  Take care of yourself.  Meaning, do things that bring you back to yourself.  Carve out some time to do things that make you feel good - massage, read a book, stare off into space, whatever you like.  But do it.  At least, at LEAST, one hour a week and more if you can manage it.

3. Get into therapy.  You need to have someone to vent to who does not have a relationship with your husband who you can absolutely bitch and moan about him and all the shit he does.  Because you cannot talk about him with anyone in your family or your friends because it will undermine their relationship with him which is a whole other kettle of fish!  And you just need to speak out loud about what you are going through so you can find some answers.

4. When he is in good brain, sit him down and calmly talk to him about what you need from him.  And I am not talking vague desires like “I want to spend more time with you” (Yes, for someone with ADHD that is vague), or “I need more help” - these, if your husband is anything like mine, will be taken as criticism, insult, personal affront, anything but helpful.  No, what I am talking about is: “Can you find me when you come home from work and give me a hug and kiss first thing every single day”, “Can you set the table every night when I say “ready” to you?”, “Would you take out the trash every Sunday night?”  Get him to agree.  Out loud.  In words.  If you can even have him write them down on a calendar - Sunday: Husband takes out trash.

You have to be very specific otherwise it will not work.

4. Mourn.  I know this may sound odd but you must.  Mourn the marriage you hoped for but now see you will never get.  Cry, beat pillows, journal, complain here, and then move on to discover what kind of marriage you will have.  You are never going to see what is possible while complaining (even inside your head only) about all that you are not getting.  Don’t share this with your husband, that is just punitive.  This is your process to go through alone.  This is part of learning to be independent because that is what you are going to have to be if you are going to stay married to a man with ADHD.

5.  Deal only with reality.  This can be very hard, I know.  My husband was not diagnosed until his late 40s and so had a whole lifetime of bad habits and coping mechanisms to develop - many of which do not work such as anxiety.  Anxiety is a trick of the mind that can obscure reality.  But there are other ADHD symptoms like defensiveness, forgetfulness, spaciness, fuzziness, hyperbrain/overthinking, etc. that can get in the way of reality.  His and yours. 

For my husband his anxiety can get the better of him and he can start having paranoid and delusional thoughts - these affect me almost as much as they do him.  But it took me a long time to realize that I was trying to reason with his anxiety, something that is a trick, not real, and therefore not reasonable.  ADHD is a wily kind of condition that can often feel like trying to flatten a balloon without popping it, not really possible.

One of the things that I have realized is that when something other than reality is at play, like say, defensiveness, it is often helpful to first stay calm, and second put a name to it.  “I can tell you are getting defensive” which will more often than not be met with “No I’m not” (which I finally realize is kind of funny - don’t worry some day you will see it as funny too). You in turn must be willing and able to walk away from the situation and come back to it later.  “OK, well whatever it is that is going on with you it does not seem as if this is a good time.  This conversation does need to happen so we will try again tomorrow when you are up to it” and calmly walk away… This is a convoluted way of saying, be calm, don’t engage in emotional games and tricks which are largely strategies ADHD persons have created to avoid stressful situations and have become ingrained habits, not as we commonly think ‘intentional’. They are not aware that they are doing it, but they are most certainly doing it and so the reality of the ‘trick’ or ‘game’ or whatever you want to call it must be acknowledged or there is no hope whatever that he will stop doing it.  He does it because it works, has worked before you and will work after you.

5. Ask for what you want at the moment you want it done.  Accept a decline as well as an acceptance of your request.  If you want something done don’t ask for later, like “Can you take out the trash when I’m done with dishes”  You can do that but understand you will most likely have to ask again - because people with ADHD cannot hold on to information at will like you and I can.  They will try but most times fail and your emotionality and taking personally him not taking out the trash will only make him avoid such situations in future - i.e. if you ask next week he will definitely ‘forget’ or simply not acknowledge the request so he can avoid your emotions.  If you haven’t figured out by now people with ADHD take ALL emotions personally.  So if you are upset because he didn’t do something he WILL take it to mean that you are calling him a loser, bad husband, etc.  It is all about them.  I have a daughter with ADHD and she exhibited this same tendancy very young.  My son without ADHD can absolutely step back and allow someone to be upset but not take it as saying something about him personally.

6. Read and study more about ADHD.  I know you probably have done your research up to this point and probably would rather not read one thing more about this condition that runs your life, but do.  There is more research being done about the condition all the time.  The more you know about what is going on inside his brain the better able you will be to deal with it.  If you haven’t yet watch Dr. Russell Barkley’s Essential Ideas for Parents - it pertains to adults with ADHD too.

7. Stop calling yourself or acting like his mother.  Nothing kills love faster than mislabeled relationship.  If he leans on you too much you are going to have to step back.  Decide what you can let go of and DO!  Don’t, for instance, do things for him that he will do.  My husband does not need reminded to do the lawn, the dishes or the laundry - because he LIKES doing these things, they make him feel like he has accomplished something.  So I let him, I say nothing, and I don’t ask about it if it hasn’t been done because to do so will cause resentment.  As you identify things you can let go of just do and don’t make a big deal about it.  Don’t however let go of things you shouldn’t like finances.  No one with ADHD should be involved in finances, it just isn’t wise. 

But you have to accept (reality again) that you will always do more than he will around the house.  If you have children you will do most of the parenting. Whatever decisions you have to make in life he will weigh in but the heavy lifting will all be done by you.  People with ADHD must have someone overfunction for them otherwise they do not function.  The prisons are full of people with ADHD, the streets are filled with people who are homeless and have ADHD, rehabs are filled with people who have self medicated their ADHD.  So what is the alternative if you don’t overfunction for him?  If you are not willing to engage in this tap dance you absolutely have the right to not.  But understand that if you are married to a person with ADHD you must learn to tap dance, that is not negotiable.  Whether you choose to resent it or not, that is.  Accept the reality or leave.  There is no other alternative - whether he gets better or not has nothing to do with you.  The sooner you realize this the better able you will be to love him anyway.

Posted by YellaRyan on Apr 27, 2014 at 11:10pm

Oh boy, can I identify with what is being said here.  My husband and I have been married almost 29 years.  I realized within 3 months of our marriage that I would have to be responsible for most things if our marriage was to work. At 20 years old I thought I could do it long term.  At 48, almost 49 I am worn to a frazzle.  He is not consistent, not reliable, is extremely impulsive and never, ever takes responsibility for his actions.  For years he blamed others for his problems, now he lays them on me because, according to him, I am controlling, a witch, no fun, etc. He is perpetually angry with me and the whole world. He will not get help.  He says he does not have a problem although he was diagnosed over 20 years ago.  He has destroyed us financially once but I worked for 12 years to get us back on track.  I see it starting to happen again because he won’t stay out of the finances. He is constantly taking money from our checking and savings accounts,  I’m constantly doing a juggling act trying to make everything work. I am in counseling to help me deal with it all.  Would I marry him again?  I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

Posted by MRLB on Apr 28, 2014 at 1:24am

I should mention that the thing my counselor has been working with me on is setting boundaries.  That is so important if you want to maintain a life of your own.  Otherwise, your individuality becomes swallowed up in the life of your ADHD spouse/partner. I am waiting for the book “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life”  by Henry Cloud. It’s a Christian/Bible based book but I’ve read that it gives valuable strategies regardless of your belief system.

Posted by MRLB on Apr 28, 2014 at 1:40am

My husband was not angry, defensive, or aggressive the first 23 years of our marriage.  He was really the most kind, thoughtful, loveable person I knew. He was just really unfocused and absentminded.  He always had problems dealing with money.  It was about 4 or so years ago that things started changing.  He decided my doing things for him all of the time and covering for him is controlling.  It also coincided with the death of his father, who always let my husband know he was a disappointment to him.  They never straightened out the issues between them before my father in law died.  My husband became angry at the world, mostly focusing his anger on me and his symptoms escalated. I have tried and tried to get him to get some help but he refuses.  So I am getting myself help.  For me and for our son.

Posted by MRLB on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:10am

I, too, had the Dream Husband who was devoted & loving & hard worker & incredibly selfless & on and on for 15-20 years.  But that’s gone.  A number of things may have contributed to that demise, not just one thing.  It doesn’t really matter what exactly did it, all that matters is that he stopped being the person he once was.  I suppose if I’d just pretended his “new” asshole self was ok I wouldn’t have become The Enemy, The Witch, and the Piece of Shit he now regularly calls me.  When I got wise to his games and his anger problems & tried to get the games & the out of control anger to stop his cooperation only lasted so long.  And as soon as it becomes obvious to all involved who’s got the Really Big Issues the next phase became Destroy The Messenger who just had to expose him to the reality.  People in denial do not like people trying to get their heads out of their rears.

Posted by BC on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:30am

Yes, having kids makes you stay much longer than you should.  And my lifelong belief was No Way Would I Stick Around If… And for at least 17 years I didn’t live with abuse & hostility.  Hence why the minute abuse, hostility, and games reared their ugly heads I was not shy about pointing this out OR demanding that it cease.  But if/when men do not successfully kick the abuse & abusive anger habit, the natural course is for their denial & defensiveness to kick into high gear and that will always result in the wife who brought it to their attention becoming the Despised One.

And during those first 17 years if you’d shown me this in a crystal ball I never would have believed it.  We were that happy and that “in love”—that perfect happy couple.  And when you go from that to abuse it takes a long time to sink in that the person who you once loved is a monster.  And you stay for a lot longer than you should because you just can’t believe what has happened.  And your whole entire life becomes a shell of what it once was.

Posted by BC on Apr 28, 2014 at 3:25am

Wow, BC.  Your story sounds SO MUCH like mine. I’m sorry you’re going through it also.

Posted by MRLB on Apr 28, 2014 at 4:19am

First, you have to make sure, he has ADHD/ADD, i.e as a child, he was hyperactive, perhaps impulsive and had difficulties with staying focussed. If none of these, then you have to turn somewhere else for help.  If he has had those signs and symptoms and never been diagnosed and treated until recently in late age, he is a complicated case of non-treated ADHD. His poor attention to things that you demand on him , could be because he is frustrated with life thus far, or could be since he has a selective attention, he is not interested in ordinary things and everything.  ADHD with hyperactivity/impulsivity as i have discussed in other threads and elsewhere, have dynamic attentions, and are poor in sustain attention like other average so called normal people.  They are easily get bored with slow tasks, while they are very good in fast paced tasks.  so first see if he is one of those, then maybe i can help.

Posted by Dr.Showraki on Apr 28, 2014 at 9:17pm

There should be a specific thread for how non-ADHD spouses can deal with resentment and anger!  I think it is especially difficult being the center of the universe and then fast forward a few years and you are the center of hell to your spouse.  That may be the biggest issue to deal with.  It is that, how did I get into this mess, how did I get fooled, why am I totally powerless, why am I being accused of things that are not my fault, etc.  And there are of course the “apology years” - those years where he would lose it and then apologize later and all would be well for a while and then it slow slips into, as BC says, you are the one to blame for all things.  My husband’s boss can rage and yell at work and somehow I am to blame because I didn’t magically know this had happened and am not “giving him a break” when he believes he needs it… and it is all so unreasonable that it is actually difficult to wrap your mind around it and it starts to make you feel a little crazy.

Then of course there is that thing where if you mention it, as I made the grave mistake, to friends or family and then they give you the “What do you mean? He is totally nice and such a good dad” etc.  Because they can hold it all together long enough to be around friends and family for a while.

I have been lucky enough to have been involved in a retreat series for a year so have had 5 opportunities to get away and explore my own self instead of stewing in the soup of ADHD.  It has saved my bacon, I tell ya.

Posted by YellaRyan on Apr 29, 2014 at 1:39am

Sorry to say - the spouse with ADD is not going to change. Meds or no Meds.  I have been married to an ADD’er for 26 years and he is the same as he was 26 years ago.
All of the above- I can’t even repeat it, I’m soooo tired of it all.  They beat the crap out of you emotionally.  I have learned,  if you can’t change the situation- change yourself in it.  I do everything by myself and try to stay away from him.  If anyone reading this is engaged to someone with ADD- DO
NOT MARRY THEM-  Your life will be a living hell.

Posted by flower child on Apr 29, 2014 at 2:45am

SrH and YellaRyan,

Thank you for posting this exchange. I am going to pass it along to my wife, since I am quite certain she is going through your experiences because of me. I’ve known for about 5 months that I have ADD, and it has explained a great deal about my rocky employment history. Aside from that, the ADD has not seriously affected me in life, but it is affecting my marriage. I do get some benefit on Ritalin.

I say “aside from that,” but in reality I’m not sure how to find and get a job that will work for me, and take some of her stress away. I am a trained professional, an architect/engineer, but as I moved ahead in the profession, I became increasing less able to do what was asked of me because my duties required focus and organization - the achilles heel of ADD. I am now attempting to go it alone as a professional, but this requires time without income to build a practice. It is also unfair to her to be the source of household income, especially if her job becomes precarious. I’m looking for something supplemental, so that I can at least contribute. What kind of positions do your husbands have - it seems that they function fairly well at work?

Thank you again for sharing your insights - I’m trying to tell myself and my wife that we can make a good life together, but it is going to have to be something other than what either of us thought about when we got married. She is quite upset that I might have to work at something “beneath my station,” but I honestly feel like I need to just do something to get back in the game with this diagnoses.

Sorry for the ramble- I would be interested if either of you, or anyone else on this post, had any thoughts or comments.

Posted by Colorado Flyer on Apr 29, 2014 at 3:13am

Colorado Flyer, 

From my experience, being married to someone with ADD for a long time is that they cannot finish what they start, which includes their jobs!  My husband is now retired from teaching, but through the years I can’t tell you how many times he wanted to quit, which made me feel very insecure.  No job is perfect.  You need to stay where you are and stop putting your wife through hell.

Posted by flower child on Apr 29, 2014 at 6:36pm

SrH: Have you read the often recommended book “The ADHD Effect on Marriage,” by Melissa Orlov yet?  Since your relationship hasn’t tipped over the edge into total chaos & despair it is by far the best reference for non-ADHD spouses (well, for anybody in a long-term relationship dealing with the other person’s ADHD symptoms).  She also has a website:

But beware, because just like here the horror stories outnumber the happy endings.

Posted by BC on Apr 29, 2014 at 6:47pm

Ok, I’m rather PO’d at some of the comments here. Way too much lumping all ADD’ers into one mold. This is a spectrum disorder with people who have some symptoms but are sub-clinical in degree and some who are very severely affected. And growing evidence that life stages—hormonal from puberty to menopause, normal aging, life stresses that can affect the body’s ability to produce or utilized the neurotransmitters as well, health—viruses and brain injury, toxins can all affect how well the brain uses NT’s or otherwise make symptoms worse. People can go from sub-clinical to clinical, low/moderate degree of symptoms to moderate/severe.
And non-ADDer’s can also have brain function change, you are not immune.
I was recently dx’d with ADD but hindsight it’s apparent it has affected me lifelong. I’m old enough this was not well known or treated when I was in school. Classic underachiever not working up to ability. Oh yeah? wanna bet? I was working as hard as I could and some stuff just didn’t get into my head. And things I was interested usually seemed easy and natural. With recently starting adderall the best way I can describe it, is that the things that have been hard have been like wearing heavy boots and trying to swim. Boots that are useful climbing rocky terrain don’t help swimming. Now that I can take the boots off when appropriate, dog paddling is at least now possible.
But the comments of how an ADD’er changes during a marriage or doesn’t change are not limited to ADD’ers. EVERYBODY changes through the course of life. Not all problems are due to ADD and you non ADD’ers are not perfect either. NO ONE IS!
I was married for 34 years until my husband died and am blessed to have found true love again late in life. Most of those 34 years were pretty dang good. Some of the problems we did have were due to my ADD and some due to his own issues.
flowerchild, I really resent your common on not marrying an ADD’er. At what point on the ADD spectrum do you draw the line? Non ADD’ers may have their own problems, anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar, phobias, neurosis, drugs, alcohol, bad ethics, mean, nasty, bigoted, cheating, not everything is rooted in ADD.
A tip, if you are in a relationship with an ADD’er, to make it last, you will have to keep yourself interesting. Do you have hobbies, interests, do you like adventure? and that can mean going out to live music or the water park, not going down the Amazon in a canoe.
or do you sit home and watch the boob tube?
But you don’t know every ADD person in the world, no idea of how diverse that spectrum is. I could just as easily say don’t marry anyone who drinks, smokes tobacco, or never thinks for his/herself. I’d rather be around a frustrating ADD’er who thinks about the long term effects of bigotry on the future than be around the slow thinking bigot.
My late husband probably had some degree of ADD himself. But our symptoms were different enough to not clash that much. I paid the bills, he was the one who couldn’t keep track of dates or time. We both had hyperfocus and endless curiosity.
My current partner is one of those I think has the ‘gifts’ of ADD, the high mental and physical energy, hyperfocus, endless curiosity, ability to see things others don’t notice, creativity—putting things together in a new way, but lacks the downside of procrastination, disorganization and distractibility. ADD might well be a cluster of traits such as the above with some things left out that create most of the burden. And some people have it all. That portion can be some of the real movers and shakers of the world. So can many of the ADD’ers but they may trip over their burdens more often. Some of the things that attracts him most to me is my endless curiosity, sense of adventure, wide ranging interests and energy. Most women bore him to tears. Most men bore me to tears. As far as romantic partners that is. He’s been tolerant of my ADD symptoms. Which in our time together have become worse. I suspect a combination of changing hormones with menopause, and some after effects of long term stress from my husband’s death—violent and I was there unable to stop it, moving several times and the strain on my adrenal system and more. But being me, I refused to accept my changes and found food sensitivities making it worse, hormone changes and started bioidentical hormone therapy, no mare urine for me. I found thyroid and adrenal support, tried amino acids to help boost neurotransmitters and when none of these were enough, started meds. I had been concerned stimulants might have over taxed my adrenals even more. The meds have helped a great deal.
I’m willing to bet that some of the same traits that drew you to your ADD partner are some of the same things you now find irritating. The same energy that is fun can also be frustrating. The flip side is being high energy and mentally active and bored to death by people who don’t change, don’t come up with anything new and want the same ol’ same ol’ over and over.
Back to the OP’s problems. If her husband has tried several meds but they stopped after a week, I’m suspicious that the doc didn’t suggest either varying the dose enough, trying name brand vs generic or different generics—they do make a difference, or some combination of meds. Find a new doc.
I was lucky that Ritalin made a big difference within 48 hours—I cleaned up my bathroom without fuss, took a garbage can and cleared out the clutter. Something that had been overwhelming to consider was no big deal. Side effects bad enough, stiff neck, jitters on the come down and affecting sleep. Shifting to adderall was noticeable from the first dose. I take it as needed. Other people may take months to find the right med, right brand, right dose and dosing schedule and if in combination, might take much longer to find a combo of meds that work. And often ADD’ers find that sustained and regular exercise is critical.
That factor is one that affected me. I started bodybuilding in my mid 20’s as women were just starting to weight train. Heavy regular exercise, from weight training and then on to hiking, karate, horse back riding, biking, was helping immensely but if injury, illness or life events interfered with exercise, symptoms flared. I’m now 59 and my body can’t handle that heavy exercise. We hike daily if weather and time permit and that helps but not as much as the heavier exercise did.
Sorry for the long rant. But some of the bashing and blaming is lumping all ADD’ers into one group as well as dumping every problem into the ADD garbage can.
I know plenty of people who had bad marriages without ADD. The divorce rate is much higher than the percent of adults with ADD.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 29, 2014 at 6:53pm

Thank you, SrH and Gadfly, for more thoughtful and useful posts. I liked the “spectrum disorder” comment, Gadfly, because what I experience, and what I have read about others with ADD, is that it manifests differently in everyone. In many ways, I am a lot like SrH’s husband- I can forget a person’s name in the same way, and I can hyperfocus like a madman if I can get a technical problem that intrigues me to solve. I have extreme trouble with follow-up and completion of things. I’m not, however, as forgetful of everyday things as SrH’s husband, nor do I have the troubles with finances that seem to plague many add’ers. I think it might be because I see money matters as a kind of numbers game, that I can “play” with. I’ve never really had big impulses to spend money, especially money I didn’t have. My impulsiveness has always shown itself more as daredevilry, like riding motorcycles and flying airplanes.

The upshot is that I’m now stuck with trying to reboot my career and also get back to earning money again. I can’t really honestly go back to the kinds of jobs I’ve had in the AEC field, because it’s highly likely that I’ll get right back to getting distracted and off task right when it’s most necessary to focus and finish a project on a deadline. Every job listing in this field puts right up front: “Good time management and organization skills.” Might as well say ADDers need not apply. I’m still wrestling with the “should I disclose” question… That’s why I’m trying to utilize the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to be a trait of those of us with ADD. The trick is that the money won’t be there right away.

And that is why this thread caught my attention: SrH, Gadfly and YellaRyan all seem to be addressing issues that are going on between my wife and me right now. I’m a bit frustrated because she has been less than willing to try and understand ADD and its effects, as it seems some of you are. She has read one book about ADHD, about 3 months ago, and now doesn’t really want to talk about it. I think she thinks I am making it up to use as an excuse. I know it must be hell for her, and I want to do something productive and be gainfully employed. I get frustrated because she still thinks that I should be able to just buckle down and get a job, that I’ve got some kind of moral failing. Just a loser. I’ve got a masters degree and a professional license, and so should just make it happen. I really wish it were that easy! Right now, I just wish that I could just get her to put aside her anger with me to talk, and strategize about how we can work through this.

Anyway, thanks again for keeping this thread going - it is quite illuminating and helpful.

Posted by Colorado Flyer on Apr 29, 2014 at 7:59pm

Colorado flyer,
Have you heard of the link between engineers and autism spectrum disorder? My late husband was an engineer. He and his fellow engineers that I knew through college and his work, were truly a different sort. You may have some degree of ASD symptoms also. Those do not always blend well with social activities and relationships.
And you also seem to have some of the thrill seeking traits. Adrenaline is my favorite drug of choice. In addition to the bodybuilding and karate, my other interests include breeding and training protection dogs and I’ve been at both ends of the dog for the bite work, handling the leash and dog from behind and wearing the bite gear and getting the bite gear in the mouth rather than skin. Also working with horses, cow penning, jumping, and a draft horse I drove while hauling logs, hand gun, shotgun and rifle proficiency in defense, target practice and hunting, and teaching women self defense, hand to hand and with handguns. I’m not as big an adrenaline junkie as many but more than the average woman.
It’s very hard for anyone who has not had a personal experience of just about anything to truly understand.
Your wife and other non ADD’ers can’t imagine it unless temporarily experiencing something that gives similar symptoms. My sweetheart and I came down with a virus 2 years ago that had weeks of lingering fatigue and brain fog. In part, it gave us very low blood pressure. I got it before he did. He admitted when he was hit with it that he thought I’d been a bit of a hypochondriac. He couldn’t ‘get it’ until he got it.
I was fortunate that most of my adult life, I literally never had PMS. The times I did at puberty were no big deal. For decades, I assumed women who bitched about PMS and used it as an excuse for acting like Hannah the Hormonal Hag were overplaying it. Perimenopause hit me rapidly with erratic cycles, horrendous mood swings and worst of all the brain fog with short term memory loss. I had to learn how to put irritants in perspective. on a scale of 10, with death, pain and other calamities at the top, ripping the door off the fridge because something fell out and landed on my foot is a 1 and not valid reason to rip the door off. My husband saying something truly stupid and insensitive was a 5 and not grounds for justifiable homicide by reshaping his skull with the frying pan. I was so enraged at that moment I had to leave the house. I was white faced with a cold fury, he saw it and wisely backed off while I left and regained control. It was amazing though how my hormone swings could affect his intelligence and charm. smile
I had to throw out my old meme on hormones and eat crow for my old criticism of women with PMS.
Your wife has not yet learned that life doesn’t go as planned. It would be easier for her to ‘get’ that your life together is not what she expected if you had a sudden illness or injury. She may or may not be able to adjust to the reality.
An extreme example of adjusting to the reality with injury. A couple across the street from us, perhaps late 20’s. 2 years ago we saw them often tending their yard. Fit, attractive, active, we’d say hello and wave while admiring the results of their work. Then weeks, no one home, lawn mowed by a stranger. Eventually we saw her and asked if they were planning on moving. She teared up while telling us of his accident, comatose for weeks and then in therapy to learn to walk. He didn’t learn. over a year later, a wheel chair ramp, easy access van and home health care visits. I finally saw him one evening. She gracefully and efficiently backed his chair down the ramp, moved it to a precise spot by the van, leaned forward to reach under his arms and lift his unmoving body up and into the van. Went back to lock up and leave. Nothing in her movements showed depression, hopelessness or fatigue. More a matter of fact this is how we live, let’s get living impression.
But how long can she keep this up? Can she give up the rest of her life without making love? She appears to be doing most of the in home care. Can she face 40 or more years? would she be wrong to bail out?
Any of us could so easily be in that wheel chair or behind it. And we can’t know if we’d bail out unless we get there.
If your wife can’t face the reality that you CAN’T work in the same way other engineers can but may fly well on your own, she’ll have to ask herself if she’s going to bail out or not. You didn’t ask for ADD, neither did I. The structure of college and preparing for your license probably helped you focus to get your degree and license. Finding a structure for the foundation of other goals for ADD isn’t always easy.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 29, 2014 at 9:44pm

Colorado flyer…I have the opposite situstion…hubby diagnosed 6 years ago at age 50. While he acknowledges he has ADHD he will not seek any professional help. I have read and researched to help me better adjust and that’s where we are. I adjust. He does what suits him. I realize many of his actions are mentally involuntary but how to help him to understand how much easier he may have ot with some therapy.

Posted by Lila on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:25pm

LIla, who dx’d him? were meds suggested? if so, what were his reasons for not trying meds? There is still a common meme that ritalin and adderall are equivalent to street speed. Along with any sort of head meds and a stigma that it is all in your head and you could get over it if you try hard enough. No one would say that to a diabetic needing insulin nor a heart patient needing meds.
I avoided meds for 2 years as I was concerned about long term side effects—overblown again in the media as well as a more legitimate concern over my low cortisol levels, erratic adrenal function and further overloading my adrenals. This was after that virus hit and my BP was very low. Some viruses can interfere with neurotransmistters. I happened to find an herbal extract. Olive leaf extract, that can help with some fatigue, low blood pressure and brain fog. It boosts norepinephrine. That gave me a clue about my ADD. What I didn’t know at the time was that adderall would take stress off my adrenal glands. I didn’t have to run on adrenaline to force my body and brain to function.
My doc has ADD and said I reeked of it. She wasn’t dx’d until she was part way through med school. She told me life would get easier if we found an effective med. I could see much of myself in her and wanted what she had.
For me, understanding that many of my quirks were due to not having an engine running on the right fuel and that meds would give me the fuel additive to increase performance helped me ‘get it’.
Things don’t have to be bad to get better. If your husband can understand that he can think better, feel better physically-I was astounded at how much my coordination, timing, endurance, balance, fine motor skills, reflexes and overall sense of well being improved, but if he gets the idea that he will feel more like himself and feel better, he may start to want it.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:39pm

Argh, whatever you do (with or without ADHD!) do NOT keep threatening to quit your job! Especially if nothing at your job changes, or YOU don’t change.

I’ve got the ADHD-I, but stay at home; my husband is the one who constantly declared his dissatisfaction with his job or clients. When he worked for others, he *would* actually quit. One time he was lucky enough to quit a job and get another while driving home on the freeway!  But the constant stress of not ever knowing what your partner is going to do with their job is unbelievable. And it’s starting to get to him, too.

Tons of great observations and advice on this thread. Unfortunately, I see myself too much in some of the male partners y’all are talking about. And I honestly DO try to change, but I can’t, not without huge effort. And then with one stumble—if you know the story of Sysiphys, that’s me. (the guy condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a large hill, with the boulder always rolling back down to the bottom when he got it near the top).  :(

Posted by JavaMonster on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:50pm

Thanks again, Gadfly, for your posts. Many interesting observations, and it sounds like you do need your adrenaline rush. I’ll look into the ASD that you mentioned. Never heard of it, but then again, I really didn’t know anything about ADD either until 6 months ago. And good on you, SrH, for hanging in there. That’s all I really want to hear from my wife- I can deal with the rest.

Posted by Colorado Flyer on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:36am

JavaMonster, you said it well. trying to change requires huge effort. If I can stay on track long enough for my brain to get a new groove down to routine I can maintain it. But getting that groove isn’t easy. And if I get distracted too often before that groove, yep, back at the bottom of the hill with the boulder. And your comment on a spouses threatening to quit without ADD as an excuse does show the same behavior can have more than one origin. ADD is not always to blame.

One of the weirder things with starting meds has been some physical tolerance. My teeth are sensitive and using an electric tooth brush almost intolerable. I also have an electric ‘flosser’ that uses a burst of air to blast water between my teeth. Again the sensation have me the heebie jeebies. But after starting meds, neither one bothers me. It is not that my sensations are blunted, only that they no longer bother me so much.

The percent of people with some degree of ADD world wide, is averaged at 5%. That big a percentage indicates some genetic benefit. As does the autism spectrum and bipolar. Some people get the benefits but not much of the burden. Bipolars fairly often have a close relative who is somewhat monopolar manic. Getting the high drive but not the crash. These traits are ones that in our culture now tend to be well rewarded. ADD in some cultures, some jobs and situations is not as burdensome and the same traits that can be a pain in the backside may be a benefit in others. In some team efforts, someone who can get an idea started and pass it on to someone less creative but better at the boring details. Neither type could do the job as well as complimenting each others’ strengths. I’m not saying I love my ADD. What I wish I had was a brain that works like it does without meds the way it does with meds or in my younger years when the heavy exercise helped.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:45am

Colorado flyer,
check out temple grandin. she is a high functioning autistic, and architectural engineer. smile

I first heard of the link with autism and engineering from her. If I remember correctly, she said that male engineers were statistically more likely to have an autistic niece/nephew than the average as well as children with some degree of autism.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:53am

Well said, Gadfly. The author Thom Hartmann has written three books on ADD, and he has an idea that it is the remnant of hunter sensibilities that got passed on through generations of farmers. The skills of the hunter are adaptation and sensitivity to a rapidly changing environment. The farmer must be patient and enduring.

Posted by Colorado Flyer on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:56am

My first reaction was I was worried about you. You stated that you had no where to turn and at the end of your rope. I am pleased that so many people responded and care about you and your husband.
You both have many good qualities to build on. The fact that he has tried something boring for 2 days is an accomplishment. He seems like a very loving person who struggles daily to focus on what others want or need. I would get rid of the white board and put sticky notes on the video game controller. For example: Hi honey, walk the dog and enjoy your game. Love you.
There is a life long pattern of a Mother and wife who have organized the home front. Major changes in this routine will be very difficult. Ontario has a CH.A.D.D group. Look it up to see if that is what you are looking for. Celebrate the small steps, even if it is for one or two days.

Posted by Caring Counsellor on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:18am

Gadfly now i know your a female after reading your posts I showed this thread to my ADHD husband and it was if the penny had dropped he looked at me and said so its not you being too demanding .....all these people are saying the exact same thing to and about their partner ,He got it in the moment not sure how long it will last ,I know he is trying on the other hand their are some key things he has been told prior to reading this by Dr’s friends ,me and therapy that i feel he should be able to do to prove he is giving it his all like just answer your phone when the kids or i call, text us back show up if you say you will, write lists reminders use your phone white board sticky notes .......just show me your trying .he gets 3 good days and then back to same old same old…i love that you said would it be wrong to write off everyone with a fault weather its drinking smoking or ADD/ADHD well if you have told the drinker or smoker the habit is a deal breaker if they love you more than the bad habit they will quit What i am hearing on here is ADD/ADHD is not something they can quit or manage long term

Posted by samm on Apr 30, 2014 at 8:25am

Unlike drinking or smoking, this isn’t a habit of imbibing some unneeded external self medication. Our habits, diet, lifestyle can all affect our ADD because all those affect our neurotransmitters and overall brain function to some degree. We can quit drinking and smoking. We can’t quit having ADD any more than we can quit breathing.

Drinking, smoking, behavioral addictions like my adrenaline junkie high thrills stuff or drama queens shit stirring anger or fear for the rush, are ways to try to alter our brains to feel better in some way. The down sides of such self medicating is the wear and tear on the body and dangerous toxins.

When the impaired circulation to parts of the brain and low norepinephrine and dopamine interfere with brain function, a shot of adrenaline helps kick start the brain. Adrenaline can help drive dopamine into receptors in some genetic variants in some people with ADD. Adrenaline also helps set memories. Both ‘good stress-eustress’ and ‘bad stress—distress’ can give a shot of adrenaline. Fun, fear or a fight can all serve to make an ADD brain work better. It may feel bad overall but the brain knows that in some way it works better and won’t care if it is bad in the long run.

I heard of a woman who was afraid of ADD meds. She started to date a guy that was great, best relationship of her life. She was picking fights with him and didn’t know why. When she realized that after the fight, she was mentally clearer and in some way in a better mood but he felt terrible, she decided to try the medication. Losing this wonderful man because her brain chemistry drove her to drama was a bad choice. Getting on medication stopped the underlying problem that triggered the fight.

My sweetheart and I know that we HAVE to have regular exercise for our mood and mind as well as physical well being. We get cranky, our tolerance for human stupidity drops and we’ll snarl at the dogs and cats but avoid each other. It feels bad not to exercise. But we try not to get a rush by picking fights with each other.

The adrenaline route works but is harder on the body if done too often. But if you want an ADD person to remember something, find a way to link it to a rush. Preferably a good one. Maybe a bit of song and dance, dear sweetheart tap dance and to the tune of singing in the rain, will you please take out the garbag—thumpity thump a rhythm on the garbage can, and put the garbage can in a spot where your sweetheart will have to trip over it.

Our body makes adrenaline in a process that converts dopamine to norepinephrine or noradrenaline—different names for same thing. From norepinephrine and cortisol it will make adrenaline/epinephrine. If we are under a lot of stress or simply mentally active, the body may run out of enough norepinephrine to make adequate adrenaline. Having to choose to give the brain what it needs to function well and other body processes like breathing, heart rate, staying alive, the body will short change the brain. The low norepinephrine and dopamine can make us cranky and even more ADD than normal. It gets into a vicious cycle. It’s physically based, not a conscious choice.

So people changing over decades into a nasty grouch may have its roots in the same imbalance that gives ADD. Using drama, high excitement and adrenaline from any source, too much fun is as hard on the body as too much fear or fighting, and the engine runs even worse.

Effective medication and some lifestyle and diet changes can help break this cycle. I worked from lifestyle, diet and hormonal issues to medication to rule out all possible interference. These things helped enough to be worth maintaining but not enough to keep me off medication.

If your partner ADD or non ADD, can realize that it is biochemistry, the fear or anger are an attempt to fix a problem and there are better ways to fix it, then trying the meds, trying neurofeedback, amino acids, and coaching may be more understandable and acceptable.

Posted by Gadfly on Apr 30, 2014 at 7:17pm

Sorry I upset you.  I’m speaking from my own experience with a spouse with ADD.  Of course non ADD marriages have their own issues.  I also was married to a non ADD person for many years who I had 2 children with -  he died when he was 30 years old.  Believe me, there is no comparison.  My ADD husband did what others call the bait and switch trick.  Hyperfocus early in the relationship and then crash.  I did see red flags early on in our relationship but chose to ignore them. That is why I feel like people need to be pre-warned about this disability.  Add’er are wired differently- that cannot change and it is very devastating to the non ADD spouse.  And for the record,  I just retired from working 35 years.  I love to go out and have fun but my ADD husband sleeps 12-15 hours a day and is very self absorbed.  This is why I choose to do things with friends and family and sometimes by myself.

Posted by flower child on May 01, 2014 at 3:11am

Gadfly and flower child
This particular thread of info is really after making me aware in an educated way how to proceed with my husband i told him back in august when we separated that he had to do some soul searching…....... he had been verbally abusive to me over the years which i thought i could handle even though i would never be accepting of it .So when he verbally abused our 16 year old daughter by calling her a piece of s..t was why i asked him to leave the family home he has been living with a friend in a temporary manner for 9 months he keeps saying if only i had a stable environment i would be better ......... but i now think that to be true so i have told him to clean up his diet and join the gym cut down/cut out booze. take his vyvance maybe 10 am to make it stay effective through some family time ,also get into therapy or a group to educate himself on what i call the perfect storm of ADD/ADHD and a very dysfunctional childhood with overly indulgent grandparents and abusive father with a Mom who never stepped in so i have empathy for him enough to help him but their comes a time where he needs to do this for himself how do i get him on board to do what he needs to do to reenter our family i have seen this man whom i love be great i have also witnessed him at his worst he is the father of our two beautiful creative children he deserves a chance to reclaim his life and position in our family am i being too optimistic

Posted by samm on May 01, 2014 at 3:47am

Hang in there.  It is not easy.  I’m experiencing the same thing.  So frustrated and also describe myself as being at the end of my rope.  We are seeing a therapist and she is helping.  We have been married for 20 years and have seen different therapists over that entire time.  Good advice here on this thread and good to know that I’m not alone.  He blames me for everything and the therapists tend to do that as well.  He acts like the good guy in front of them.  If it were not for the children I would be out of here.  I know that isn’t always the best approach but it is the one I’m going with.  Someone else here said to not blame it all on ADHD and I agree.  In my husbands case it is a personality “issue” in addition to ADHD.

Posted by momtotwo on May 01, 2014 at 8:56am

not sure how old your children are if you think he is not effecting the kids think again my son is 20 tomorrow and my daughter is nearly 17 both are parentified which means at about 7 years old my son stopped depending on my husband as a father /role model as he just was so inconsistent and immature both my kids urged me to separate from him .My son explained it like this ...Dad is like a diner we like going to the diner now and again because their are no major standards and we like the food but the food is not good for us .And you Mah are like a 5 star restaurant with rules and dress codes and fine foods where we both eat well and have a standard expected both of the restaurant and the diners…..we dont like going to the five star all the time but it prepares us for what is expected of us in the real world..manners ,standards etc,,,,Again we all love him its just so hard when we dont know which Dad is going to show up funny dad or disrespectful impulsive Dad who both my kids have learned not to count on .... they sadly got it before i did

Posted by samm on May 01, 2014 at 2:12pm

Flower child, it didn’t upset me as much as irritated me. You are still only describing 2 compared men. Sleeping so many hours sounds like slow cognitive tempo or narcolepsy. It might be worth checking out Modafinil or its OTC precursor Adrafinal
I tried adrafinal as one of the non prescription alternatives. It did help to some degree but there is an upper limit of dosage and liver toxicity risk. I didn’t get enough boost out of that level to pursue further. Milk thistle extract can counter the liver issue and monitoring liver function can check the risk. I just didn’t get enough boost to go that route.
But again, all relationships change. The initial burst of lust and passion biochemically will not last more than 2 years in any couple. That is one reason so many people have a high turnover rate and become relationship junkies. They believe that lust will last forever and choose a partner based on that. Once the fire burns out, there is no underlying compatibility and the thrill is gone.
In good relationships, oxytocin takes over to keep bonding and reward going and is sustainable long term.
A couple of months into our relationship, my sweetheart said we can’t sustain this. It was at that moment I realized I loved him and wanted to keep going. My reply was things can get better. 5 years on, the initial fires of passion have mellowed at about the 2 year point to a sustained glow that we can stoke up to a roar again at times. What has gotten better is the joy of having my favorite and most trusted person in the world to share my life with. Finding each other late enough in life that the dating scene was limited and odds of finding what we have now against us, we treasure each day with each other.
Just about any couple in the first flush will have hyperfocus on each side. And it will fade. No guarantee of who will make it and who won’t beyond that point. How a woman will change as her hormones change over her life. How a man may change if his testosterone or thyroid hormones shift or either with life’s speed bumps or crashes.
Momtotwo, if the therapist believes him all the time, you might want to find another. Any therapist falling into that trap is one to be cautious of.
Your husband’s family description brings up another point. This is a primarily genetic issue. The abusive father may be the one he got most of the genes from and any environmental factors like exposure to tobacco, some forms of stress, perhaps the overly indulgent parents let him indulge his adrenaline too much, all combined to make it worse.
There is a strong correlation with kids put in foster care and ADD. Not just that the kids with ADD can be hard to handle but that at least one of their parents has some degree of ADD and the parents can’t handle kids well. Combined with the frequent cofactors in foster care of low income, smoking, drinking, poor diet, drugs and all the stress factors that create such repeating cycles and hard to break out of, foster care kids are more likely to have ADD and have a higher degree of symptoms making it harder to find homes that can handle them.
Did something happen to your husband about the time he started to change? health, job, injury, even something good like achieving a major goal but with nothing to look forward to after that.
ADD’ers appear to often do well in the military with its structure to give a focus and often having high intensity jobs or events. A fair number find life after the military difficult because there isn’t anything as strong a stimulus for getting up in the morning. No spark big enough to start the adrenaline engine. Retirement also does that to many.
It sure we be easier if we had our own personal owner’s manual written and updated from birth to death. Until then, we share our stories, try to find our own answers and keep breathing.

Posted by Gadfly on May 01, 2014 at 6:36pm

Thanks gadfly you have changed how I deal with this I hope my husband can begin to educate himself like you have and work on managing this ever changing disorder

Posted by samm on May 01, 2014 at 7:18pm

I wish you both well.
In some ways, not being dx’d until this late in life has shown me how life factors and the effects on our bodies affect our thoughts, mood and behavior.
thyroid function is worth checking into—a site and book called stop the thyroid madness is a good start. although written by a lay person, she has backed it up with good data. the chat groups affiliated with it, less data, more personal stories that can be misleading.
dhea, cortisol, testosterone, all worth checking.
consider getting wheat and/or gluten out of the diet. I can tolerate oats, rye and barley but wheat makes me a space cadet as well as making my joints ache.
I can’t tolerate too many tomatoes or potatoes. some chemicals similar to wheat as well as high in salicylates. the feingold diet helps quite a few add’ers and autistics but isn’t critical to all.
I am chemical sensitive also. many products contain chemicals related to salicylates and phenols. I can’t tolerate some herbal products either. mint, wintergreen, hot peppers also high, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, the oil extracts of these can make me react.
Fixing the underlying chemistry won’t change everything but does make it easier to get started.
My low blood pressure and postural hypotension—bp falls even more when I stand, appears connected. receptors for adrenaline and norepinephrine in the blood vessels can overreact to the dropping level of adrenaline, let them expand too much and I feel faint. low BP alone makes the brain work badly.
also check glucose. ADD’ers tend to have low glucose in the brain.
a book called the mood cure may be useful. the amino acid protocols described there helped some but not enough. it does help point out how different brain chemistry affects us.
I’m tossing out the things that I’ve checked out and had some effect on me or others. is a much bigger site, harder to follow some threads but may have more clues if you can wade through the archives and posts.
one thing to remember, those who post both success and problems are the ones most motivated to post. the mid range is under represented.
My underlying anxiety, low self esteem and depression improved far more with the adderall than with tranquilizers and antidepressants. I don’t think serotonin was the problem but Norepinephrine and Dopamine.
do your children show any signs of ADD? all the above may help but let them know they are at risk and that can change over their life. what they do now can matter later.
positive waves and good luck!

Posted by Gadfly on May 01, 2014 at 8:24pm

People have to want change.  He does not.  His last therapist said to him- Stop talking and start doing.
He does for a minute and then he’s done.
As far as meds- he has them but doesn’t always take them. Can’t you see that everyone is saying the same thing and everyone has the same complaints.
You are the exception not the rule.

Posted by flower child on May 01, 2014 at 8:37pm

Flower child, I don’t see everyone else here saying the same thing. And other forums such as the with a much larger base show a broader spectrum of how ADD affects relationships. Many stories are similar to yours, others to mine.
ADD meds won’t fix character flaws nor other underlying physical issues. For whatever personal reasons, you and your husband are both satisfied enough with your status quo to stay where you are. Others don’t want their current status to remain. If there are things they have not yet heard of to try, they might find a clue to something that works for them.
None of us can ever fully know another’s experience. We may get a taste of it, have something similar enough to be useful but we never get the entirety of even one others’ experience much less a large diverse group.
You’ve written some broad generalizations that may be true with your hubby but not true of all ADD’ers. Meds or no meds, the underly physical issues may remain, but can change with life factors, often for the worse but sometimes for the better. And meds can give people the opportunity to change. Some ADd’ers can and DO change for the better. Some ADD’ers do in fact finish what they start including their jobs.
I am sorry your experience has left you sounding so bitter, alone and with such a broad paint brush. Be careful about painting everyone with it.  You may inadvertently be giving others a false belief that nothing can be done. I feel sorry for you to have that meme. If I did, I’d be out the door and on to a better partner or at least life without the bitterness..

Posted by Gadfly on May 01, 2014 at 9:10pm

Thanks for your imput- I guess I’ve given up on this illness- too much work and too much disappointment and frustration that never seems to quit.

Posted by flower child on May 02, 2014 at 7:46pm

flower child,
how about shifting this last generalization to ‘your husband’s ADD condition’ instead of ‘this illness’. although the bit with sleeping so much sounds like major depression or a sleep disorder, not simply ADD.
I spent 2 years ruling out or treating underlying issues. Had I not, I doubt my meds would be working as well with the extra drain on my brain and body.
As much as I detested the thought of trying meds with concerns about wear and tear on my body, side effects and addiction, further reading on medical data, not media hype and discussions with my doc persuaded me it was worth the minimal risk.
I wanted life and a brain that works better not just for me but because of the drag on my very supportive partner. He deserves me to be the best I can be.
If your husband had a significant change before he was dx’d, has he been checked for thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones? sleep apnea, and overall health? lyme disease? chronic fatigue?—often overlaps low neurotransmitter function, cardiovascular issues such as low blood pressure? has major depression been ruled out? sleeping that long would be a big warning signal to me that something physical is stealing hours of his life each day.
I wish you both well.

Posted by Gadfly on May 02, 2014 at 8:21pm

The problem for me is that my ADHD husband knows he has it, admits he has it but refuses to get any sort of help.  He says he is fine the way he is.  He isn’t.  The whole family isn’t.  Because of his refusal to get help we all are affected. He’s angry, hostile, unfocused, shut down, etc.  That is where my anger comes from and I think where a lot of the anger here comes from.  The fact that our spouses have ADD/ADHD and know it, but they won’t do anything about it.

Posted by MRLB on May 02, 2014 at 10:21pm

Understandable to be angry when someone won’t try. Not an attitude I understand. There is a problem with this and other health issues where cognitive function is impaired in that trying to get there from here can be truly impossible.
When my blood pressure was lowest, appears to be linked to mast cell issues and pollen triggering pseudo allergies causing histamine release, my brain felt as if the dimmer switch was turned to low. I’ve never felt more impaired in my life. I luckily recalled my mother using strong steroids decades ago for her allergies that were probably mast cell issues as well. I had some prednisone on hand that knocked out the symptoms in 20 minutes and gave me enough brain power back to track down the links with low cortisol, low blood pressure, histamine, mast cells and find the olive leaf extract to raise norepinephrine enough to go on without the prednisone and correct the root cause of impaired adrenal function.
A lot of people won’t admit they have a problem drinking,smoking, spending, eating, gambling, with anger, anxiety, depression, bipolar, blaming others, personality disorders and the vast array of how people create their own problems. It might have a root cause in the ADD, some life events that created learned helplessness or a desire to control others with drama.
I’ve had 2 run in with sociopaths, not psychopaths but their slightly less damaging kin. Guiltless, charming, manipulative, lying, cheating, great con artists who act as a friend until they get what they want at your expense. The worst one I thought was a true friend to myself and late husband. We found out that literally everything he had told us about himself was a lie. The irony is he is the one who gave us the book on the sociopath next door that led us to suspect him. In part, because he waited until his wife was pregnant, far enough along not likely to miscarry, to quit his job claiming he was being picked on by co workers and management, and never went back to work.His wife and daughter had not yet discovered his lies when we cut him off. He managed to convince many others of his lies, changing them from one group to another we found out eventually. That was so close to one type of sociopath in the book it made us question his stories, cross check with others and uncover his personality disorder. That is quite a bit like your bait and switch story.
Sociopaths and possibly psychopaths may have a different brain. One study showed more white matter to gray matter than the norm in some sociopaths studied. averaging 4% worldwide with some symptoms showing in preschool and generally increasing with age, 1 out of every 25 people is guilt free and can say/do anything they want without the normal internal brakes. Most don’t try to be third world dictators or wall street wolves but enjoy manipulating people with games such as let’s you and him fight, victim stories to get you to feel sorry for them, and it is never ever their fault. Incapable of love and never truly loved as their fake persona is what people love or admire.
But not strongly linked with ADD. Refusing to change is much bigger and frustrating for anyone with a loved one refusing to take responsibility for their behavior. I’ve lost loved ones to alcohol and tobacco triggered cancer and one killing herself by stuffing food in her mouth. None would admit the alcohol or cigarettes were a problem and she’s just so hungry she can’t stop. I don’t think ADD is linked to any of those except possibly the cigarettes as that is one way to self medicate ADD.

Posted by Gadfly on May 02, 2014 at 10:53pm

MRLB…you have hit the nail on the head. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD 6 years ago at age 50. It was so eye opening to read about and finally know why he ascts as he does. Good news is he is not abusive or hostile but quite the procrastinator and very hyperactive. Biggest problem as I see it is he will not get any help beyond diagnosis, reads nothing, most of the time I feel like his mother.  It is hard to figure out why he does not understand how his life might change even a bit with some therapy.  I know the Tribe will disagree but I do not recommend a relationship with an ADHDer.  You will do all the adjusting and it is exhausting.

Posted by Lila on May 03, 2014 at 7:30am

On re-reading your post, I see your husband has been able to keep down a job. 

Be thankful.  So very few are able to support themselves, much less a family.  I’m not saying your concerns regarding his other very substantial problems are unwarranted.  They are important. 

I am saying things could be plenty worse.

Posted by LakeLife on May 03, 2014 at 11:42am

my thoughts on this are you get what you give i want my husband to understand the impact of his impulsive actions and words have on us his family so now i am giving him understanding and letting him know this is hard yet not impossible i guess where i am now is i have tried everything that i know,i am moving forward with the goal to educate myself and my kids who may be themselves effected later on in life with this as they both show signs of EFD so i as their mother make them aware of what to do to manage it before it manages them .i teach them how to eat well and exercise and to think before they speak or act,phone a friend or mentor or Mah as they call me but most of all i give them love and encouragement so after educating myself i now know my ADD/ADHD husband needs the same as my kids he just did not get it from his parents because they did not know anything about ADD /ADHD so he was treated like a bratty lazy child its worth a try get what you give is my new strategy….

Posted by samm on May 03, 2014 at 4:37pm

what proof do you have that 5% of the adult population worldwide affected with this are unable to support themselves?

It generalizations such as this that are based on personal limited experience rather than hard data that continues to leave a stigma. There are plenty of people with ADD who are successful in many challenging fields including my doctor who dx’d me and has ADD herself, also dx’d as an adult when in med school. Others are attorneys, scientists, corporate leaders, union leaders fighting the good fight against corporate greed and a lot are in the military where the structure helps them function and many of their quirks are a benefit for their position.

samm, do hold him accountable. he may not have been raised with an understanding of ADD but it’s only been about 50 years since this started being understood and treated effectively. All the generations before us had little choice than deal with it. so his entire ADD genetic background for generations has managed to do well enough to survive and reproduce. smile understand without enabling.

Some ADD’ers make great spouses. I was married for 34 years, worked and was virtually never late, always highly rated on my job performance and I paid the bills. People who knew us over the decades were always surprised at how much in love we stayed and how we stayed best friends, lovers and partners in almost everything we did.

Some ADD’ers do not make good spouses. Some ‘normals’ are good spouses and others are not. Personality traits may have much more to do with that than ADD or not. If your marriage sucks, it may not be due to ADD and neither one of you is perfect. That is one area I will make an across the board wide brush generalization. Divorce your ADD partner and go find an alcoholic, even more of those around than ADD’ers.

Posted by Gadfly on May 03, 2014 at 6:15pm


You raise the data issue, I’ll follow through on it.  The reality is ADHD marriages fail at almost twice the rate of non ADHD marriages.  Virtually all are negatively impacted.  By one study, 72% vs 47% for the general population.  Other statistics:

Almost half of high school students with ADHD do not graduate.

Alcoholism and drug abuse are rife.

Unemployment, disability, ... 

Better, you read it:

This thing is a life ruiner.  I beat some of the statistics and in others I am in the cesspool.  I have an advanced degree and a job.  My marriage, gone.  My family, lost.

Lily is right on target.  Do NOT underestimate the viscious, gut wrenching impact this damnable condition has on people, spouses and families.  It’s a cancer.  There is NO ‘Ferrari Brain’; there is no benefits to ‘hyperfocus’; we don’t ‘think outside the box’. 

By treating this disorder as some kind of ‘alternate ok’, you fall into the hands of those who deny this damn thing even exists. 

It’ NOT OK.  Not in the least.

My advice remains to those involved or wishing to get involved with a victim of this condition:  Get out if you can and run fast and far if you are thinking of getting involved.

That is what the Data shows.

Posted by LakeLife on May 03, 2014 at 7:59pm
Posted by LakeLife on May 03, 2014 at 7:59pm

• By treating this disorder as some kind of ‘alternate ok’, you fall into the hands of those who deny this damn thing even exists.

I’m not following you on that one at all LakeLife, please explain.  I think I know what you’re getting at but not sure.

• There is NO ‘Ferrari Brain’; there is no benefits to ‘hyperfocus’; we don’t ‘think outside the box’

I disagree; there can be huge benefits to hyperfocus (it simply depends on the subject of hyperfocus as well as the opportunity costs involved & how others respond to the amount of time & attention the object of hyperfocus receives). 

I, and many others, will also disagree with your assertion of not ‘thinking outside the box.’  In fact, those of us who are convinced that this is a very common & fairly frequent phenomenon with ADHD will go so far as to look at your staunch refusal to believe that it is true, and conclude that you seem to be in total denial.

Why do you so stubbornly insist upon seeing nothing but negative—or at least focusing as intently as possible on any negatives there may be?  One can speculate that by doing so it enables you to always remain in the victim position.  As long as you believe that ADHD means you cannot or will not succeed that allows you to not even try.  By not ever trying to succeed you then create a self-fulfilling prophecy, which then also “proves” the truth of your beliefs.  And others can now point to you and say, “Look, he’s got ADHD and even he ‘knows’ people with ADHD are [insert conclusion here]...nothing but losers…worthless…no hope…” 

By focusing on the negative you assure the outcome—a negative result.  By offering up yourself as the Typical Example of what having ADHD is REALLY all about you give other nay-sayers (non-ADHD wives in particular) the “proof” they can/will then use to validate their own beliefs (there’s nothing you can do; they never change).

But based on my own observations, the one defining feature that clearly separates the ones who never change from the ones who do is that due to their own ignorance, lack of insight/self-awareness, or blatant denial they simply refuse to DO anything differently or will only give it, at best, some half-assed attempt.

Posted by BC on May 03, 2014 at 9:45pm

BC thank you.
Yes, I’m aware of how much in the US, there are negative impacts on many issues. Much of it is for untreated or inadequately treated AD/HD. The idea that 5% of the human population through out all our evolutionary history has been a drain on the other 95% is laughable to me. Population genetics doesn’t work that way. If there was no benefit it would have died out long ago. Our modern low exercise, contaminated and high stimulation environment with rigid learning methods that downplay kinesthetic and non verbal processing can make it more difficult for this subtype NOW.
If you are not happy in your relationship, get out. If you have some helpful input on how to make this sort of mixed marriage easier on all, great, would love to hear it.
But this doomed for all ADD relationships meme needs to be composted.
Police and firefighters have about the highest divorce rate of any occupation last I checked. Do you think they all have ADD?
Unless something useful is posted, I’m out of here. If you want a thread on simply bitching about how bad your ADD partner is, set up a subforum for it. Life is too short for me to wallow in such useless soap opera.

Posted by Gadfly on May 03, 2014 at 10:47pm

I prefer hard data and rigorous scientific study.  As for sitting back and being a victim, I am far from it.  I simply choose to understand my enemy and fight accordingly.  Denial is not my style and it is certainly not the style of those who succeed.  Surprisingly, it is you, Gadfly, who raised this issue of using empirical data vs conjecture.  I quote:

” ..that are based on personal limited experience rather than hard data”

I would suggest you revisit that data.

As for fighting, I fight like a rabid animal.  It’s what gets my neurochemistry moving in the right direction.  Such drama, however, gets wearing.  And it’s not always appreciated by those with who I associate.  I do my best to keep such dramatics to myself.

I have achieved much and I wish for others so afflicted to do well also.  You don’t do it by saying ‘what I am is ok because it’s what I am’...  I see so much of that here.  Understand what you are.  Change what you can.  Deal with what you can’t.

I keep my personal life to myself.  I tell women I become involved with that I am in this for the short term.  I do so because that is what I am.  I will not lie about it.  I never tell anyone I have this damnable thing.  If marriage becomes an issue, I will, of course, divulge this.  A life together and the potential for children demand it.

Statistical science acknowledges there will be outliers in any population.  I am glad your relationship was one of them.  You are one of the few as I am one of the few who have gone on to achieve an advanced degree.  I have used that to finally find a career in which I am respected and that I enjoy.  I have done that through fully understanding what I am.  It has been a hard road.

Posted by LakeLife on May 04, 2014 at 3:59am

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