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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Making excuses for my ADD husband

He f****s up everything and I have to make excuses for him. What do I say?
Today, I had arranged for someone to go pick up our kids from school while we both were at work. But even though he has no idea what the kids’ schedule is, or all the parts of their day that I manage completely independently of him, he told this person that the kids had a ride from someone else (as they sometimes do on other days.) This person thought that my husband knew what he was talking about, when he was really just idly running his mouth, as he is born to do, so I get a frantic call from the school asking where is the person to pick up the kids?
It took me hours to arrange all the pieces for all our three children. He did not have to do ANYTHING and I took care of all of it, and he still manages to f**** it up. I am so angry and embarrassed. This happens all the time. So what do I say to the teacher? I hate to reveal that he has ADD but I’m sick of covering for him.
If you’ve got ADD, don’t write in telling me to love him more, or something. I am furious and I just need help managing the billion little ways this person holds me back and screws up everything I try to do. BUT HE’S GREAT AT MINECRAFT, I’ll give him that.
I have no one to talk to about this. Need to hear from people who’ve been there.


Maybe you could say something to the teacher such as the following:  “I’m as upset about this as you are.  There was miscommunication by my husband.”  I probably wouldn’t mention ADHD.  But I also don’t think you have to pretend that you did something wrong.

Posted by rosered on Mar 07, 2014 at 1:46am

Forgive the comparison that I am going to use but my husband and I do not have children.
For me it was the bank account and how the debit card was just magic and printed all kinds of money if you pressed the right button. I tried everything I could to get him to write down what he took out and to follow a budget and he would not make any attempt so I took away his access to the bank account and gave him a debit card that you load money on and when he run out that was it!
That is my suggestion to you - if your children are being impacted and their safety is at risk - unless he is willing to sit down and work out the plan for their transportation and schedule, he will lose his voice in the process and you need to get these things in writing. Basically you are making a contract with him and what expectations and obligations each person has.
The other thing is that he is not going to act like he does not know his own childrens schedules and plead ignorance when someone asks him. His ego got int he way - can he put their schedule on a spread sheet or blackberry so he has something to refer to?
Hope that helps but for me it was either conform or you lose your voice in the process. That was all that worked.

Posted by theothmans on Mar 07, 2014 at 2:33am

All familiar. I just want to be able to get out of the house if it catches fire because he has left something on the stove and wandered off (again).  We do have several fire extinguishers and a fire blanket so fingers crossed.

Posted by Maree on Mar 07, 2014 at 2:41am

Oh tell people!  Tell away!  But be prepared to explain because basically NO ONE truly understands ADHD.  It is not an attention disorder - it is an executive function disorder and an inability to deal with time primarily.  It exhibits in children as hyperactivity and inattention - but all that dysfunction moves inward as people grow into adults.  And so looks like walks like talks like an adult and they can fake it and charm away to get some high functioning woman to marry them but then they screw things up.

My major irritation is that wanting it both ways thing.  Wanting to use ADHD to excuse behavior and at the same time want to be treated like a 100% functioning adult!  You can’t have it both ways!  But us wives can’t have it both ways either.  I know, I know admitting that you got hoodwinked into marrying, and now overfunctioning, for someone with a psychological condition is em-bar-ass-ing!  But it is the truth, right? 

But no one will understand and be able to sympathize with something you don’t tell them.  And so long as it is a source of embarrassment or causes you to feel as sense of failure then it will continue to be stigmatized.  Not so long ago women hid the fact that their husbands had PTSD, right? 

We can’t hide the fact that our children have ADHD if we want to engage the school in helping manage it.  We have to be open and honest about it with teachers and other parents and family who watch your child so they can get the accommodation they need.  Well, what good does it do to try to de-stigmatize it on behalf of our children but then re-stigmatize it when it comes to our spouses!

And you for yourself have to come to grips with the fact that your life is NEVER going to be the way you thought it was going to be.  Not gonna happen. The sooner and with more good humour everyone in your family can accept that the better off everyone will be. Because guess what, you will always have to overfunction for your husband no matter how unfair that is and he will always inadvertently screw things up for you, for your kids, for himself and then try really hard not to get blamed!  You want sympathy and understanding or you want embarrassment?  You are going to have to choose one and tell the truth or hide and get the other.

Posted by YellaRyan on Mar 08, 2014 at 3:10am

This is my first post.  In my mid-40’s diagnosed 2 years ago.  I’m in a new relationship with a successful professional. I’m in a similar line of work and not so successful.  I’ve been trying to hide how adhd I am as much as possible.  In bad shape this morning and last night;  Cried myself to sleep:  I booked vacation tickets which were supposed to be for march (this month) and when he asked for the itinerary I booked them for this past february.  I am so angry at myself and embarrassed that I feel like breaking up with him before he dumps me. 
I hate myself and seem to mess up everything.

Posted by lonnie on Mar 08, 2014 at 8:12pm

ADD and ADHD should be and explanation for the screw up but not an excuse to be used by the person i get that they will screw things up we all do just admit what they did wrong say sorry take note of what led to the error and use cognitive tools i.e. lists,reminders ,eating well ,exercising regularly and not over using stimulants coffee,alcohol ,drugs and video games .i have a problem when i hear the excuses

Posted by samm on Mar 11, 2014 at 4:00pm

“If you’ve got ADD, don’t write in telling me to love him more, or something.”

No worries. I won’t. I find that to be completely useless advice anyhow. You love someone as much as you love them, and love is not a magic wand. So, you really can’t, and even if you could, it doesn’t mean it’ll fix things.

As for the teacher, she doesn’t need to know the dx to know what happened. As rosered suggested: “I’m as upset about this as you are.  There was miscommunication by my husband,” is not only sufficient, it’s absolutely true. If you want to be more blunt about it, and less charitable, that’s also your call.

I’m inclined, however, to suggest that if you want to tell people about the dx, you check in with him first. This is his diagnosis. While, yes, I do think his privacy (and that of you and your kids) should be respected, this isn’t about keeping things cushy for him, and it’s certainly not about covering for him. It’s about not dealing with the headaches that come with that disclosure. It’s also about not being unnecessarily put in the position of mediator. Describe what happened. If you can, move on, and let him deal with explaining why it happened.

I want to be clear that the above doesn’t mean it’s something you have to deal with in silence. Seeking emotional support from someone will obviously at some point require disclosing that he has ADHD. That said, unless the teacher is also a friend and confidant, she may not be the person for the job.

Posted by NeuroD on Mar 12, 2014 at 11:26am

I sit here in tears as I read your words especially the last sentence. Wow and just as I was writing you he strolls in the room sees me with tears running down my face and wants to tell me about a phone he found on craigslist. I don’t have any advice but wanted to thank you for sharing because know I don’t feel like im the only one or just a horrible person. this is my first time on anything like this site. Tonight was the !st time I actually thought his “chaos” might destroy me or land me in prison. im scared. My fairytale has turned into this insane chaotic nightmare

Posted by rufeelnirie on Mar 20, 2014 at 2:38pm

Here is my 2 cents as a husband with ADHD -

Let him feel the full extent of responsibility for the stuff he messes up. If you always swoop in and save the day then you are freeing him from responsibility. The pain of having to actually deal with issues will change someone.

Next time something happens- “You chose to…. so you need to handle it. I will let you sort it out.” AND truly let him. Make sure its clear to him that these are real choices he is making not just some ADHD auto pilot.

Posted by marshallm on Apr 06, 2014 at 10:09am

What Marshallm says is good advice I think.  I started doing that (ie I just let things happen if I’ve told him already a few times and he keeps doing whatever it was.  I also don’t make any move to help him sort it out if he then causes something a bit unpleasant to happen). It is a bit of a relief really to just let things go. Of course, if it was something very serious, I would step in and stop him.  Other than that, I just let things rip nowadays.  He usually gets so upset himself in the end when he sees what he’s done that I think he might learn eventually. Frankly, I don’t care anymore anyway.

Posted by Maree on Apr 06, 2014 at 11:49am

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