New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

Couples With One ADHD Partner

Im really confused at times

Hi all, 
I become so confused by my husband’s behavior ( has ADD)at times that I second guess myself and feel crazy.  When I do confront this issue, my husband tends to have no response leaving nothing resolved and me feeling like I am stressing him out with my emotions, so the end result is me not only feeling confused, but at times feeling guilty.  He does not take medication and has recently begun to acknowledge that he has ADD, which is a good thing.  I encourage and support him with positive comments as much as I can, but it never seems to be enough for him to see that he doesn’t need to be defensive with me when we need to discuss something and that he also needs to do things to nourish our relationship.
I feel that he expects me to just deal with things when his capacity to deal with anything is very low.  Needless to say, my energy is spent and I would greatly appreciate any positive feedback.


I completely understand the situation & your feelings.  The one thing to remember is that you are not crazy, nor are your feelings.  I do feel that the person with ADD has less capacity to deal with anything that does not directly and immediately concern them. It is a very frustrating thing to deal with.  My husband is on ADD meds, and also just recently stared taking an anti anxiety med as well, as it is very frustrating not being able to have a “normal” discussion with him.  He also gets immediately defensive and impatient, which makes me just want to handle things on my own without his input.  I am hoping that the anti anxiety will “take the edge off” and allow him to be more receptive to conversations.
I think the nourishing the relationship is a problem due to the same issue of only being able to deal with things that are imminent. The focus for my husband, at least only happens when things are almost at “crisis” level.  It just seems like that’s how their brains function. But that doesn’t make it any easier.  I guess I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone.  I’ve been married for 15 years and we just seem to go through the same cycles again and again.  My husband is not a bad guy, and I think he tries very hard to work at our relationship but nothing seems to “stick” no matter how many times we have the same conversations.  It takes a LOT of patience and understanding, (which is by no means easy) Wish I had better results to share with you…

Posted by howtodoadd on Dec 30, 2013 at 11:58pm

Yep, that is pretty much classic un-treated ADHD.

Defensiveness IS a symptom, along with Oppositional Defiant Disorder - essentially fighting ALL the time over EVERY thing.  Yes, totally ADHD.  So you ought to start educating yourself so that you can get on the road to understanding.

That is not to say, of course, that your husband’s behavior is OK.  But he has not a lot of control over it in the moment it is happening.  And a life of untreated ADHD makes people feel as if they are always “wrong” and “bad” and are hyper-sensitive seeing yelling and criticism at times even where there is none.  That is the bad news.

The good news is that ADHD is very treatable.  The medications are very effective at subduing the symptoms.  But there is no ‘cure’ and he will never be ‘normal’.  So your work is to find the path to understand of his condition - you need to research not so that you can help him (because, in my estimation being a wife of a man with ADHD for almost 17 years, there is nothing you could do that would alienate him more than trying to ‘help him’ - you have to let him help himself) but so that you can understand
1. It is not YOU!
2. Stop taking it personally or thinking it means he doesn’t like/love you
3. You can absolutely stop being a victim of his behavior and start to set some boundaries on how you want to be treated
4. He is not ‘doing it on purpose’

This is a wiley and complicated condition, one that you can do nothing about except set boundaries on what is an acceptable way to treat you.  At the same time you can’t keep hectoring him.  You are right, he is not capable of many things.  And if he is admitting the condition then he is on the way to getting help.  You can nudge in that direction, but don’t push.  It will backfire.

And as to nourishing the relationship, forget about that for now.  It may be years, it may be never, that he gets to that understanding.  If you understand the chaos that is going on inside the ADHD brain you would stop asking for something as esoteric as ‘nourishment’ and be satisfied with him taking out the trash.  This is reality.  You are not crazy, you are married to a man with ADHD.  You need to let go of all of your expectations of marriage (yes, I did say that) because they will not be met and if you don’t whatever progress he makes in getting treated will never be enough for you and that will be damaging to your relationship. 

The most important thing you need to understand is this is not a character issue, or his choice, you can’t nag him into treating you better, you can’t convince him that he doesn’t need to be defensive because it is not a choice!  If you nag and nag and explain the reason why they should you could never convince a near-sighted person to see better.  It is exactly like that, it is a physiological condition that affects behavior.

Go do some research, take care of yourself and give your husband some wide latitude to find his way to treatment.

Posted by YellaRyan on Dec 31, 2013 at 12:06am

What helped me was the book IS IT ME, YOU OR THE ADD. It was a great resource to let me know I am ok.
Hope this helps

Posted by Tigermother on Dec 31, 2013 at 7:55pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions