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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Realizing things will never change

I really need some help and guidance right now.  Living with boyfriend for 1.5 years now.  He is 45, was diagnosed with ADHD (hyper & impulse) about 5 years ago and until 2 weeks ago, he didn’t know anything about it other than taking 2 adderalls every day.  For months I have been reading countless books, been on forums such as this, constantly searching the web for more information but it took WWIII to happen in our house 2 weeks ago for him to finally start listening to the audiobook “driven to distraction”, a book I’ve read about 6 times.  Hoping he would understand not only his ADHD but also how it impacts the people around him.  Last night I found out that listening to this book has only made him more selfish and attacking because after he said “you just don’t understand me at all and you never have”; i broke down in tears thinking how on earth could he even think that when for over 3 months i have done nothing but put all of my time and energy into educating myself on his ADHD so to better understand him and learn tips etc.,  that i feel like a walking encyclopedia.  So all of that hard work and effort didn’t do any good and now I see that he doesn’t even appreciate having a partner go above and beyond (without anyone telling me to) to educate myself because thats how much i love him and want to help and support him.  Oh and did i mention i also found an adhd life coach for him?  I did that too and the life coach said to me “i hope *stan* truly appreciates you and sees how lucky he is to have such a loving and supportive partner”.  One would think, right?  Last night i was blamed for everything but the Cold War; screamed at me to “go read that book again and maybe you’ll finally understand how my mind works because of my adhd”.  I calmly reminded him that having adhd is not an excuse and deciding to love someone who has adhd doesn’t mean i also decide to become a robot and have no feelings or emotions about anything and that you will have the right to say and do whatever it is you want.  I have gotten to the point now in saying “ok, you are free to say and do whatever you want but now you can deal with the consequences”. Because we all know that we have cried hysterically, begged and pleaded, at times punch a wall because you feel like you are losing your mind but none of that makes a difference.  one of the books i read clearly states that until the consequence is big enough, the adhd person simply won’t budge.  that was a hard pill to swallow because it’s the truth and i am now realizing that i only have one left thing to do that i haven’t done before and that is to put myself first and leave because at some point having a relationship with someone who has adhd becomes abusive, mentally, emotionally, verbally, whatever you want to call it.  i feel downright abused, taken advantage of and i can’t be the proverbial punching bag anymore (i don’t mean he has ever hit me because he hasn’t).  another pill i have to swallow is biting my tongue and acting normal when his 14 yr old daughter is with us.  i’m sorry but that is not my problem, you don’t get to treat me this way and then ORDER me that i have to put on a happy face for your child.  all that does is push me out the door faster because at 35 yrs old, no one is going to force me to behave the way they want when my world is crumbling, i’m losing my mind and my heart is shattered. 

so anyone else out there in my boat? can anyone please give me some advise and guidance?  i have already started to look at condos/townhouses.

Replies

Before you jump ship, have you read the best book of them all—“The ADHD Effect on Marriage” by Melissa Orlov?

It applies to any long-term/living together relationship, not just being married.

Posted by BC on Mar 07, 2014 at 8:32pm

I have been married to my ADD husband for over10 years now and the best, very best, thing I ever did was accept that no, it will never change. His ADD is complicated by a complex diagnosis of PTSD/OCD/and a debilitating anxiety disorder so it’s not easy, believe me. By accepting his condition, I don’t mean that I resigned myself to a life of misery or abuse, but accepting that my husband has ADD/other issues and some things about that will absolutely never change was VERY freeing for me (I think this is true of any significant other, whether they have ADD, or any other condition - realizing that you must love them for who they are is essential to a happy marriage or relationship - it’s not our job to change them!). I am not miserable, now that I have accepted his condition. It has freed me to focus on doing what I need to do to be healthy and take care of myself, and also to focus on learning as much as I can about his conditions (like you have) to be able to help as much as I can. It has freed me to see myself as an independent human being who is now able to stand up to him when needed and freely discuss with him how his actions affect me and our family. Sometimes we have big fights (WWIII as you mentioned), and sometimes I have to say the same thing over and over before he gets it, but feeling free to do so and not always feeling like it’s my job to “fix” him is the best feeling ever and gives me the love and patience I need to continue to be a healthy person myself and a supportive and loving wife. And accepting him for who he is removed the pressure from him of always feeling like he was disappointing me or letting me down and gave him the freedom to also focus on what he needs to do to be the best husband and father he can be with ADD.

With that being said, once you accept the person and their condition, you must also do some soul-searching and ask yourself if you can accept being with them for who they are, especially in your situation where you haven’t been together for all that long and you aren’t married. That is a question that only you can answer. If I had it to do over, would I knowingly marry someone with the conditions my husband has? I don’t know that I would… maybe the more telling question is would I suggest to my daughter that she marry someone with issues like that? - absolutely NO. It’s been a very rough journey at times. But we have two beautiful children together and our relationship was cemented long before the diagnosis clearly came to light and I believe that marriage is for life except in cases of abuse and neglect and I can honestly say that while my husband may be difficult on a daily basis, he has never been abusive or neglectful and we love each other very much. But it required me accepting that some things can’t be changed for us to get to a healthy place in our relationship.

Best of luck to you as you make your decisions!

Posted by ijustwannahelp000 on Mar 07, 2014 at 8:54pm

It will not change. You will do all the compensating and he will just take. Your research combined with his attitude should tell you that. Sorry, BC, but her reading one more book will make no difference in how HE thinks and acts.

Posted by Lila on Mar 07, 2014 at 8:57pm

Hi,

I feel your pain..and I am in a very similar situation. I was with my partner for almost 9 years with up and downs and the so called ‘roller coaster rides’! Did the same things as you have mentioned, read all the books and did the courses myself and with him (Melissa’s and Dr.Amen’s) everything! Marital therapy and treatment etc..you name it! He was also on meds too. However, every medicine worked for some time and in months we were back to the same where we started! The same good old blame, verbal and emotional abuse, insults..

I think adult ADD is one of the hardest situations to treat in mental health. The damage done is way too much over the years to revert and the comorbid conditions are endless. It’s not worth your time and energy and mental health. You should look after your interest, and run. Take time to heal, recover, forgive yourself and forgive him, take the things you have learned and figure out your life and happiness which lies within yourself. I am doing the same thing right now. It has been a month since he walked out during one of his dark/down moods..I am doing ok and doing everything which I can to recover focusing on myself, surrounding myself with positive people. I would recommend the same for you. Don’t waste any more time. Take care of yourself. And good luck with everything! Hugs

Posted by Ms.Wonderful on Mar 07, 2014 at 9:01pm

Hi

You are in a very difficult situation and I feel for you and the decisions you need to make.

I have to tell you that I have been in a committed relationship for 5 years now and I am the one with ADHD.  I didn’t get diagnosed until 3 1/2 years into the relationship.  Before my diagnosis, the relationship was more parent/child than adult to adult.  Because of my hyperactive/impulsiveness, I was all over the place.  I lashed out at him at times as I was supersensitive to what he said and because I was always running on empty from lack of sleep (I think it is impossible to sleep with a non-stop motor inside).  It was like I had a sunburn on the inside.  Everything and everyone around me bothered me.

I was horrible with money.  In fact at 50 years old, I have never lived in the black.  I was painfully aware of his maturity and my inability to be consistent. I am truly grateful he didn’t leave me. 

Now with my diagnosis, then medication and diet/supplement changes things evolved.  It has been 18 months now and I am a much more consistent and stable partner in the relationship.  I am also 6 months away from paying off old debt which I am grateful for.

I just have to say you can change/heal from ADHD but you have to be willing to do the work.  You have to be willing to take responsiblity.  Being on the right medication made a world of difference for me.  ADHD is not always a life sentence.  It is possible to be relieved of symptoms.

To be free from hyperactive/impulsive behavior is one of the best gifts I have ever been given and to finally sleep through the night with deep restorative sleep at 50 years old is like the best dessert every night.

You have the right to be happy and you deserve to be treated with respect..period..

My heart breaks for you as I can only imagine how hard this is for you.  I hope you take the steps to take good care yourself with firm boundaries.  If you do need to leave this relationship then that is what is right for you.  I have always believed if I do what it right for me I am following my truth.

Good luck to you! You are a good person!

Mitzi

Posted by Mitzi Maine on Mar 07, 2014 at 9:39pm

Hi,

I feel your pain..and I am in a very similar situation. I was with my partner for almost 9 years with up and downs and the so called ‘roller coaster rides’! Did the same things as you have mentioned, read all the books and did the courses myself and with him (Melissa’s and Dr.Amen’s) everything! Marital therapy and treatment etc..you name it! He was also on meds too. However, every medicine worked for some time and in months we were back to the same where we started! The same good old blame, verbal and emotional abuse, insults..

I think adult ADD is one of the hardest situations to treat in mental health. The damage done is way too much over the years to revert and the comorbid conditions are endless. It’s not worth your time and energy and mental health. You should look after your interest, and run. Take time to heal, recover, forgive yourself and forgive him, take the things you have learned and figure out your life and happiness which lies within yourself. I am doing the same thing right now. It has been a month since he walked out during one of his dark/down moods..I am doing ok and doing everything which I can to recover focusing on myself, surrounding myself with positive people. I would recommend the same for you. Don’t waste any more time. Take care of yourself. And good luck with everything! Hugs

Posted by Ms.Wonderful on Mar 07, 2014 at 9:42pm

“Sorry, BC, but her reading one more book will make no difference in how HE thinks and acts.”

Sorry, Lila, but her reading THAT book will give her the ability to ONLY look more closely at her own behavior to see which, if any, of the dysfunctional ways she could be contributing to the problem.  Power struggles can get really intense, and unfortunately there are some fairly classic ways that non-ADHD partners can choose to fight their battles which will invariably create no-win situations for all parties involved.  I will try to expand more on that in a separate post…go see if I can find that book so I can point out the dysfunctional behaviors that some non-ADHD partners tend to use and the almost inevitable (and highly negative) response they tend to get from their ADHD partner.

When non-ADHD partners go about using certain methods to get other adults to behave in certain ways they can inadvertently perpetuate the exact behaviors they’re trying to change.

Posted by BC on Mar 07, 2014 at 10:00pm

The ADHD Affect on Marriage ONLY works if BOTH partners are fully participating. Don’t engage in wishful thinking.

I’ll say it, get out. Run, fast. You can find someone else to love but you can’t make him show you love. Even if it were to get better it will not necessarily stay better. My husband has waxed and waned. And frankly as much as I love my children I think I might not have married humid I knew about the ADHD. It affects every part of life. Who you marry affects every part of your life. Do the math, the ADHD spouse is more likely to come out with the short end of the deal. No one is that charming or attractive.

And emotional blackmail, yelling, blaming, manipulating ARE forms of abuse.

Posted by YellaRyan on Mar 07, 2014 at 11:45pm

Wow, you guys are great. I appreciate all of your responses of support and guidance and also sharing your stories.  My heart is very heavy and I feel lost but it truly helps knowing I have this place to come to.  I am going to re-read everyones responses and answer any questions but to BC, no, i have not read the book yet but I have it.  I will begin reading it this weekend.

Posted by dtcm613 on Mar 08, 2014 at 12:17am

My suggestion to read “The ADHD Effect on Marriage” was not (in case it was misconstrued) to promote wishful thinking or even to encourage staying in the relationship. 

Reading enough books/articles/forums about having ADHD and “dealing WITH other people’s ADHD” to make oneself a “walking encyclopedia” on the subject then promptly setting about FIXING one’s partner (and in the process ALSO hopefully FIXING the relationship) without reading Orlov’s book is like reading all about dragons then just deciding to go out and slay one but never bothering to read the book about all the other methods people have already tried to slay that dragon but which have already been found to do nothing but fail.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 12:20am

Lila, I agree with what you said about it taking BOTH partners to do equal amount of work and reading 100 books on adhd will not change anything. the only change i have “control” over is my behavior and the way i respond to him but like another woman said, i have to then ask myself if i can live with that for the rest of my life.  and why should i be the only one in the relationship to change behavior? it takes two people to fall in love, two people to create a life, two people to cause a fall out and two people to take responsibility and put the pieces back together.

Posted by dtcm613 on Mar 08, 2014 at 12:32am

So, dtcm613, where are you sitting on that fence between going and staying?  If you are really only looking for support for your decision that’s already been made to go find somewhere else to live you will find PLENTY of that around here.

When I read people’s relationship stories, and I read things which clearly and unequivocally spell out “abusive jerk” and “selfish bastard” or which indicate that is probably the case I do not hesitate to join in on the LEAVE bandwagon.  I just do not read those things into Your Story.  That does NOT mean they aren’t there, just that because we all can have bias blinders on about certain things, in those places where it could be ASSUMED to be the case I’m trying not to assume anything.

So, let me know where you are on that fence.  I have plenty of other things I could add to this but there really is no point wasting any of my time (or yours) doing that if you’ve already made up your mind about what to do.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 1:18am

Hi BC,  thank you for responding and sincere words.  You are correct, he is not a jerk, which makes this so difficult.  I made the pros and cons list and the pros out weigh the cons but this can’t be my life forever.  the pain i am in when there is simply no empathy, compassion, remorse, consideration, etc, etc, etc. I found myself literally on my hands and knees 2 weeks ago crying so hard that I got a nose bleed.  he looked at me, got more frustrated and walked out the door.  adhd or not, i don’t care what you have or who you are, if you are a human being, how on earth can you look at someone in that shape and walk away?  i couldn’t even do that to a stranger on the street!  but i’m supposed to trust and believe that he loves me?  that is not love and all of us here deserve more than that.  you asked where i’m at on the fence and the truth is, i’m not sure.  i have an appointment tomorrow to see a condo just so i have a general idea of what’s out there if/when the time comes that i make the final decision to leave.  i’m also feeling that i need to give him time to work with his adhd life coach because 2 weeks ago after WWIII, he asked me to do that.  he asked to give him time to work on everything and i want to give that to him but i honestly believe i can’t take anymore pain, abuse and downright rejection. thats why i’m at my wits end because i am so torn.  part of me feels that i need to put a time limit on how much time i will give him with his life coach because if i don’t, i’ll still be in the same situation 12 months from now.  so do i give it 4 months?  6? 1? i have no idea.  theres just so much resentment and pain; does that ever go away?  how do you get past that?

Posted by dtcm613 on Mar 08, 2014 at 1:43am

Regardless of where you are on the fence I’d really like to know what book “clearly states that until the consequence is big enough, the adhd person simply won’t budge.” 

There is some truth to that but it is also misleading I believe.  If one were to take that statement on faith as being completely true (and also true of all people with ADHD) then a traditional behavioral theorist would immediately conclude that whenever you’re dealing with someone who has ADHD who is stubbornly resisting something what you need to do to break through that resistance is to always make sure the “consequences” are severe.

There are lots of problems with that conclusion as well as the “theory” it’s based on.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 1:44am

You wrote: “the pain i am in when there is simply no empathy, compassion, remorse, consideration, etc, etc, etc. I found myself literally on my hands and knees 2 weeks ago crying so hard that I got a nose bleed.  he looked at me, got more frustrated and walked out the door.”

Having more details about that incident would be incredibly helpful (if you want to provide them). 

I don’t know how true this is of men in general or if it’s only true of ADHD men in general (my only experience is being married 20+ years to one WITH ADHD), but I’ve always thought it was more of a “male thing”—how they just do not understand what to do in that situation.

I’m a girl; you’re a girl.  We both KNOW some definite do’s and do not do’s in that situation.  We also KNOW that we as WOMEN could never look at someone else in that position (balling on the floor, hands and knees) and NOT do what probably is our instinct, even if we have no flipping idea what we can possibly say, we do know that when words fail us in times like these there’s only one thing TO DO—get down on the floor with them and try to be some sort of comfort and support. 

If that isn’t what just comes naturally, (or we’re kinda pissed off at the one who’s balling OR we are being told we are the one who is to blame for this balling) we at least know what just walking away in frustration will do…

We KNOW that the only thing that just walking off when somebody is that upset is likely to do is be interpreted by anyone else to mean is that we are some sort of cold-hearted monster!

From what I’m finding out from being married 20+ years (and mom of two boys) is that men and boys tend to not have a clue about any of this.  At best they just kinda stand there frozen like deer in headlights.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 2:08am

Let me restate that—at best they kinda stand there for a while like deer in headlights then say “sorry.”

Or if they know damn well the reason their brother is on his hands and knees bawling (oops, been spelling that wrong how many times?) is because he just got kicked in the balls they will immediately offer a hugely enthusiastic “sorry”—then they just kinda stand there like deer in the headlights.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 2:19am

hi bc, the book is “is it you, me or adult add”.  and what i should have said is the book says that until the consequence to that particular person, not in general across the board, is big enough, they won’t make any kind of real change.  it’s kind of like when you hear recovering addicts say “until you hit rock bottom, nothing anyone says or does will make a difference and everyone has their own rock bottom”.  does that make sense?  there is one story of a woman in the book who said that until she was packed and ready to leave, that was the only point in which her adhd partner would realize the severity of what was going on and he would make great changes but then 2 weeks later, the same old behavior came back along with the same problems, arguments etc.  the woman ended up leaving him after this cycle went on for 3 years.

Posted by dtcm613 on Mar 08, 2014 at 2:53am

Thanks for clarifying—and I agree that there are plenty of people with ADHD that have to be begged, bribed, coerced, or forced to do ANYTHING about it, but there are also plenty of people with ADHD that want to do something to fix tons of stuff just as soon as they realize just how far-reaching the problems are.

There are plenty who do all that researching on their own OR stumble upon something really big and their own quest to better themselves is what follows.

I have a feeling (but just guessing) that the night of the ~“you don’t understand me at all & you never have” comment might have come from him hearing at least one too many broad generalizations (which may have only been slightly mis-worded but otherwise “true”) get applied to him.  It is not easy hearing a bunch of generalizations that may apply to many/most of some group get applied across the board to oneself regardless of how accurate they may or may not be.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 4:05am

BC…

You mention “many different ways to slay a dragon”, above…
Are you personally aware of any statistics that point to counseling making a statistically significant difference in relationship outcome?  Adjusting for use of medication.

It’s a fair question.

Posted by LakeLife on Mar 08, 2014 at 5:26am

Nope, no idea what the “success rate” is for counseling—whether it be couples counseling or individual counseling.

The only thing I KNOW is that when I was somewhere around the OPs level of “expertise”—meaning months of learning everything I could, months of obsessing on every new thing I learned (which only verified in some way everything I already “knew” but had never suspected HIS ADHD as being the actual culprit), and months of being able to image what my life and our life could have been if only we hadn’t been dealing with THIS dragon—I was roaring & ready to go to war and battle this ugly creature.

In all my reading I found another thing that I just couldn’t hardly wait to HAVE…Orlov’s soon to be published book.  But not having the ability to wait around another 9 months or so before setting out to slay OUR dragons I jumped in feet first. 

By the time her book was published I just had a whole other group of experiences to read about which I had just learned the hard way were bound to fail from the get-go.  I wish I would have had THAT BOOK when I first started slaying dragons because by the time I knew (and she confirmed) these things, it was just too late.  So much damage had already been done. 

Perhaps I/we wouldn’t have completely destroyed our once wonderful marriage & our friendship, as well as our whole entire family’s sense of security if only I/we had known there was a better way of doing everything. 

Reading that book was one of the most painful reads of my entire life.  I’m a big fan of highlighting and making notes in the margins.  That book is so marked up you can hardly read the text anymore.  I can verify that everything she talks about is true; I’ve seen it from both sides—the one trying to “fix” it and the one who “has” it.

I read that there was still hope, though, because she could attest to having made many of these same mistakes too (and helping to create an even more toxic dysfunction than merely living with the undiagnosed/untreated ADHD creates). 

But there’s no way to do it over again to find out if we were just doomed to fail or if doing it a better way would have actually saved us…or if two people both having “it” created some unslayable dragon.  I will never know if I lost my best friend (replacing him with my mortal enemy) to entirely preventable causes.  I can’t do anything now to resurrect us but I can do something by warning others to not do what I have done.

Posted by BC on Mar 08, 2014 at 6:45am

HI, BC, I just read your post and your profile page here.  Congrats on some pretty stellar accomplishments.  A PA program is no walk through the park.  Be proud.  So few of us are able to attain what you have done.  You have done well and you do good.  Attending to people’s health is one of those universal goods.

  You are beating yourself up terribly.  Don’t.  What is destroying your marriage was years in the making and your ADHD husband is at least as culpable as you.  The fact that 2 ADHD afflicted people lasted 20 years is nothing short of miraculous.  A 4 day bender of an argument simply finalized what may have been inevitable. 

I, too, have read parts of Orlov’s book.  What I took away from the read was that two ADHD afflicted individuals live in chaos. Period.  She never comes out and says it directly but when you connect the dots, that seems to be the reality.  I know the statistics on marriages with one adhd spouse:  70 percent divorce rate.  2 with ADHD..??. Somebody ought to give you a medal for holding it together as long as you did.

Look, there is no ‘magic’ to this thing… No Ferrari Brain, No ‘thinking outside the box’  -  no benefits from hyperfocus.  This is a damnable disability, plain and simple.  For every John Chambers of Cisco Systems and Albert Einstein, there are 10,000 adhd sufferers rotting away in jails all over the country.  Orlov’s and Halloway’s statements to the contrary not withstanding.  There are NO studies worthy of the name that shows any benefit…. NONE, ZERO - ZIP.  Yes, those are hard words.  I prefer to recognize my enemy for what it is. It’s honest - at least for me it is.

I find Orlov’s books bordering on the fanciful.  There is NO ‘thriving’ with this thing.  There is only the non-adhd spouse who surrenders so much of what they have planned for and worked towards.  When you cut to the chase, that is Orlov’s message.  I will say she accurately describes the symptoms of this thing and it’s devastating effect on a marriage.  Her 6 steps to ‘thrive’ is wonderful on paper.  In practice I doubt any of it works.  And, if it does, the non-adhd spouse gives up their hopes and dreams while the ADHD spouse… Does what they do…  It stands to reason.  We have little ability to assess our impact on others or ourselves.

I too have attained an advanced degree.  Unlike you, job security has been an recurring issue.  16 jobs and painfully few of them have ended amicably.  I am now a certified teacher teaching high school chemistry on a (tropical) rock in the middle of the Pacific.  I love it but I am earning fully one third of my previous salary and less than a quarter of my highest.  I do it well and feel secure. I like going to work. 

I wish I could tie the above together into some type of cogent message…. I don’t have one - other than to say go easy on yourself and be proud of your accomplishments and the very good you do through your profession.

Hang tough

Posted by LakeLife on Mar 08, 2014 at 2:34pm

LakeLife:

Yes, I noted those same divorce statistics back in ‘08-‘09 and declared our mild to moderately troubled marriage to be a huge success.  And the fact that we were both headed back to our previous marriage counselor armed with new knowledge (we BOTH had ADHD and now realized THAT was a huge factor in everything) seemed so very promising.  The fact that when we shared this new discovery with her she proudly announced that she, too, had ADHD—it all just seemed so “perfect” and destined to succeed.

However, only a short 5-months later we were fired for failure to cooperate.  She said she just couldn’t bear to watch us getting progressively worse (and all our arguments get progressively more escalated, perilously close to becoming physical) while noting that if we were not heeding any of her advice there was nothing she could do but sit back and watch this train wreck unfold; that was just too much and it was ripping her apart. 

It is worth mentioning that when we had gone to see her the first time a year prior, her summary statement after the Getting To Know You period was over was: “It is obvious the two of you are madly in love with each other, the only problem is how you speak to each other.”

After being fired by our marriage counselor only a little more than a year later we were both instructed to participate in individual counseling to work on our own issues, and that was pretty much the nail in the coffin.  About a year into individual counseling times two (at a total combined sum of $225/week) I finally just lost it because as far as I could tell all the “advice” my husband was getting seemed to me like a bunch of CRAZY-TALK.  I eventually threw a fit and demanded that he confront his therapist on a number of different items, explain to her what was wrong with all of her advice (according to his wife) for anybody with ADHD, and ask her if she knew anything at all about ADHD.  Guess what?  She confessed that she probably needed to get some training on that because, no, she really didn’t know much at all.

That five month window when we were with our fantastic marriage counselor (because she had the balls to jump in and reprimand my husband for Dirty Fighting Tricks etc) was the point in time I was simultaneously trying to “fix our ADHD” without the benefit of Orlov’s book.  I know in hindsight that if I had that book then that at least I would have been able to not contribute as much as I did to our increasing dysfunction. 

I know that if I’d had that book I wouldn’t have ended up later on down the road being so easily villainized in the stories he recounted to his therapist for which she gave him all sorts of even worse advice.

Would we have still gotten fired from marriage counseling—maybe so because it was my opinion then (and still is) that the bulk of the pieces of advice that simply weren’t being followed AT ALL were my husband’s stubborn refusal to follow directions, not mine. 

So please don’t be fooled by my last post above, there are PLENTY of things which I know were ALL his contributions, I was only trying to take responsibility for those things which I can & should take ownership for (and trying to stay away from playing the ugly public blame game).  (If you read other posts of mine from a couple years back I’ve already aired way too much of HIS dirty laundry).

I should also point out that yes I am a PA, and I’ve maintained my certification all these years, so I still get to call myself one, but I’m not employed as such any more.  I kept all my balls up in the air, so to speak, until I became a parent and that was when they all slowly started crashing to the ground.  I can’t even begin to contemplate going back into medicine full-time, that was only something I could do a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I do what I can to “use my degree” by trying to help others understand the complexities of the medicine they’re given and making their way through the puzzling world of medicine (and psychiatry).  There is so much misinformation out there and it is really hard sometimes to figure out what to do with this “gift” called ADHD.  And the quote marks denote sarcasm!

Posted by BC on Mar 09, 2014 at 7:37am

Well it sounds like you’ve gotten plenty of advice.  I will just add that I completely feel your pain.  I am in the very same boat right now.  And so let my post just say “you are not alone”...
I personally ordered the ADHD effect on Marriage book and am awaiting the delivery from Amazon.  I’ve told my DH that I ordered it and that I’ve been told it can help US rebuild OUR marriage.  Day to day is different with him- the day I told him last week, he was positive, helpful, gave me hope.  However I am preparing myself for the likelihood of him not reading the book when it comes.  I am attempting to finally come to terms that this will never go away.  Not that I ever thought it would, but you know what I mean… and so I will give 110% again- for myself (because I do love him very much- and he makes me happy when he is well), for my children, and for him.  So I will try again- only in a different way than I have before.  But each circumstance is different and I do believe you should put yourself first.  It needs to be a partnership- whether there is ADHD involved or not- right?  I wish you the very best of luck.

Posted by 2boys4me on Mar 10, 2014 at 11:07pm

I live with this also.  Same story.  Married for 14 years now and there are good times and bad.  Food is your friend.  Try to help him manage his ADHD without him noticing.  Protein is a critical thing.  2 boys and a husband with ADHD so I understand. Pray a lot also and dont forget to take time for yourself.  When I dont take time for me the issues consume me.  The roller coaster we live is managable but remember that the ADHD does not control you or your husband.  Life is still a choice.  With my boys I talk a lot about that the medicine helps, but they are responsible for their actions and that ADHD is not an excuse.  WIth my husband when he is mean I call him on it…and it has stopped mostly.  You have to tell him not to talk to you that way and that is not nice, etc.  They truely I wish you the best and hope you stay strong.  I also hope you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

Posted by house of adhd on Mar 11, 2014 at 8:17pm

Wow this is all so very depressing…people suggesting that if someone has ADHD to run and run fast.  For a mom with an ADHD son, it makes me sad for his future relationships.

Posted by Daisy1012 on Mar 12, 2014 at 12:07am

Yes, I agree it is depressing.  I cannot be sure, but I really think that so much of that is due to the demographic that is overwhelmingly represented in discussions like this—couples who lived with undiagnosed and/or untreated ADHD for a long, long time.  I’m hopeful that couples who don’t have decades worth of resentments already created (and habits on both sides already established) will fare much better than some of those in our “current generation.”  That is why I try to be a voice from the opposite side of the aisle in relationships that are relatively “young” and have no clear/definitive signs of abuse/mistreatment. 

People who read something like This Story and who immediately start making ASSUMPTIONS (calling the guy with ADHD a selfish, abusive jerk) obviously cannot see past their own filters, biases, and pre-judgments.  When those same bitter & angry people (who also tend to have a “healthy” amount of self-righteousness thrown into the mix) dispense advice it tends to always be the Same Old Thing—Run & Run Fast.  That is only my advice when the ADHD partner is clearly also something else—a truly selfish, abusive jerk.

Posted by BC on Mar 12, 2014 at 12:52am

Hi there,
I have ADD and I am positive my husband of 2 years has it.  I read the book “The ADHD effect on Marriage” and many more. When I read the book I could see both sides.  I’ve been proactive about my understanding of my ADD and treatment for years.  He has not been diagnosed but the book is our marriage. It describes everything to a T.  I can sympathize with how heavy your heart feels, as I often feel so sad and overwhelmed and confused.  My husband and I have been in marriage counseling for 5 months with no real improvement he also is depressed (doesn’t shower, brush teeth, gained 100 pounds) but says he is fine. 
I think we all can give you advise or perspective, but in the end we don’t live in your shoes.  My heart goes out to you.  Often its easy to love someone so much we try to help.  But some men take that as judgement or that we’re their mothers instead.  They don’t see how desperate we are for something different/better. I found that in the end he can be a good person, but not what I need. That there is no way to make a foundation if both people aren’t working at it.  Especially if he is not willing to deal with his behavior or root issues.  If I weren’t married and knew he would’t fall apart (he’s depressed I think already),  I would leave.  As hard as it would be, I know my own health and well being would be better. I struggle with wether to leave or go everyday.  Its been true heartbreak since we got married.  Lots of promises unkept.  He believes in what he says at the time, but either can’t remember the promise or doesn’t follow through. He might as well lie, because its the same net effect. 

You have to think of you.  Your boyfriend doesn’t sound like he’s thinking how his behavior effects you.  If he shifts blame, that shows he’s not willing to be accountable and respect your feelings.  ADD treatment, as you know, means more than meds.  If a person isn’t willing to take a hard look and tackle the issues to improve their life and those around them, they will not improve.  I know from personal experience that the ADD diagnosis and acceptance is pretty emotional and one can go though stages of it when they realize yet one more way it effects their life.  But one must keep moving forward through it.

I personally think a lifetime with someone that makes you sad or hurt or unheard… is too long.  No matter how many other great qualities.  I’d weigh those pro’s and cons and then assess wether its worth staying.  He has a responsibility to step up.  It takes two to tango.  Can’t build a foundation for love/ life alone.  But only you know best.  Sending you a big hug.  Wishing you peace and answers you need. KL.

Posted by RedOrchid on Mar 12, 2014 at 1:35am

RUN…Run as fast as you can and DON"T look back. You have a responsibility to your daughter and yourself to be in a safe environment. The effects of verbal abuse is scarring. If he doesn’t or hasn’t taken the steps to address his situation, there is no hope. It is a boundary for yourself and keeping yourself and your daughter healthy. I have lived with a husband with ADHD for 23 years. He has been medicated for 4 years. It finally reached the point when I doubted that I was able to “take it” any longer. It had nothing to do with whether or not I loved him. Since he started taking medication, things have improved. However, medication will only cover 1 portion of treatment, there are other steps that are crucial and make accountability a component. If my husband were not willing to participate in all phases, I would not be able to continue in the relationship/partnership because I would be in it alone. Are things perfect & ideal…no but the concerted effort is there, and that is why I continue to be in the relationship/partnership. Otherwise it would not be sustainable. I give mercy and grace…..not a pass. And, he gives me mercy and grace for my different issues….not a pass.

Push the accountability or your life and your daughter life will be EXTREMELY dysfunctional

Make a plan, tell him the plan and STICK TO THE PLAN. If you are important to him….he will step up

Be strong!.

Posted by Denise1 on Mar 12, 2014 at 2:02am

Denise1:  In your rush to dispense the Get Out Quick Advise you failed to note that the “daughter” referenced by the OP is HIS daughter.

Posted by BC on Mar 12, 2014 at 2:20am

I have been married for 17 years.  My husband has ADHD and anxiety as does our son.  Our daughter also seems text book ADHD but manages so we have never formally had her diagnosed.

After a pretty rocky summer this year in terms of our relationship I had to ask myself why I loved my husband so much.  I realized the traits I loved the most were attributable to his ADHD: charisma, energy, creativity, intelligence…we have been together since high school and I had to let go of the fact that many of his frustrating traits would not ‘go away’ with maturity.
Once I realized this and noticed I had so much compassion for my son with ADHD - I realized I could apply the same to our relationship.  I could let go of the fact that his reactions have anything to do with me—the same as I don’t feel as if my son’s struggles at school or socially have anything to do with me being a bad parent.

Posted by TCadhd on Mar 12, 2014 at 4:22am

I have been in a relationship for over seven years with my partner who has severe ADHD.  While, I have degrees in psychology, cognitive-behavioral therapy and education I thought I was better prepared to appreciate his difficulty in life and it’s affect on our relationship.  Was I ever naive.  After reading every book, manual and website available (and some books two and three times), I have lost hope.  I am in my 50s and have never been so frustrated in my life.  I have been commended on my communication and mediation skills, but often I am at a loss when talking to my partner.  Even if I attempt to reflect back what he is saying to make sure I am understanding, he seems to hear only negatives.  He takes innocent things personally, things found in simple, everyday conversations with me and others.  I feel I am walking on egg shells all the time.  I pray often that I will be given insight, compassion, and wisdom to see the world from his perspective, to be empathic and understanding.  I try to remind myself that “it” isn’t him, it is his ADHD. That it is not my job to fix or change him.
BUT, I am frustrated, tired, exhausted, hollow, depressed, drained and now angry.  He seems to lack compassion, is unapologetic, yet demanding and loud if he feels he is not understood or appreciated.  I feel invisible to him, yet responsible for everything mundane or difficult;  things doesn’t or won’t or can’t do…like take out garbage, pay bills, arrive at least within an hour of an appointment, or do what he said he will do.  His ADHD seems to give him a pass for everything, yet it feels like there is never any “pass” given to me or others.
I have cried more in the last few years than all my years of living combined.  This is not a healthy way to live.  I feel selfish and a failure that I want to get out of this relationship.  I do worry about what will happen to him-he does need help.  He has had 3 jobs in 7 years, debt up to his eyeballs where he was going to lose everything and I bailed him out of debt. (Foolishly did so, early on before I realized he could never pay it back).  Taken time off work to help him with his work.  Cleaned out and fixed his house.  Researched and read articles and books for him, etc., etc.  everything we now do seems to be all about him, keeping him afloat, about his drama and feelings.  I feel as if he is turning me into his mother.
And he now tells me that I am not supportive.  Is he kidding? 
When I was recently hospitalized, I had to call friends because he couldn’t get to the hospital during visiting times to see me (ok, I forgave him that one), but after I was released into his care, he went off to get my meds and soup and lost track of time and left me bedridden at home for 9 hours.  He was angry about everybody and traffic and checkout lines.  I get that he was embarrasses about losing track if time and anger helps him deflect things off of him to save face, BUT I WAS the ONE who was stuck unable to move without pain medication for nine hours. 
But I am supposed to smile, calm him down and tell him it is ok when it is really NOT ok.
Whew, I am ranting and incoherent.  I am sorry.  I am in such pain that my chest hurts.
I have decided I can’t take it any longer and feel I need to get out. 
The words to the song by Christina Arguilera, “Say something, I’m giving up on you”  says it all.

Posted by Ainsleys on Mar 27, 2014 at 5:35am

I can understand first hand all the emotions he is feeling because I have felt them - but he is really acting like a big baby.

When I stopped using ADHD as a scape goat and focused on seeking ways help myself with these behavior issues it was difficult but (as my wife would tell you) it has been extremely rewarding.

ADHD in guys can magnify issues that already exist- fear, frustration, selfishness, pride etc- it doesn’t necessarily cause them. If you work on the real underlying issues then thats when long term change happens. BUT you can’t change someone -they have to do it for themselves. If they are not interested then nothing will ever change.

Posted by marshallm on Apr 06, 2014 at 9:49am

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