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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Sick Spouse of ADHD Husband Looking for Guidance

I’m new to this group and need some guidance with regards to my husband’s behavior and possible course of treatment.  To save time, please view my PROFILE BIO for some background on our current situation.

Like many partners in this group I have been subjected to a lot of verbal abuse by my husband.  We discussed these issues and agreed to spend some time apart.  I was actually surprised at how sure my husband sounded.  Sure enough, 24 hours after my departure he was calling and apologizing saying he would to anything to help our relationship.  This was expected yet unexpected because we had already talked about the situation beforehand.  I told him not to worry and to focus on his therapy which he started on Thursday.

Apparently, he called his counselor on Monday and she recommended he “feng shui” the apartment which he interpreted as “go shopping”.  We now have a new rug and wall decor.  I was livid.  I threatened divorce although I am in no position and currently physically unable to go through with it.

I just received a text telling me I’m about to run out of minutes for the month.  I’m certain my husband has been on the phone non-stop with his family who encourages his behavior.  He has not yet returned the items he bought. 

I have NEVER resorted to name-calling and belittling although I know that it is common with non-ADD partners.  I have treated my husband with respect and have always considered his feelings (he is VERY sensitive).  I was told by an ADD support group moderator that I needed to be involved in the therapy/medication process.  I have contacted my husbands counselor and even the clinical director of the program and have yet to receive a response.  I will start my own counseling on Monday. 

Have I overstepped my boundaries?  Should I just let him be?  Should I let him drown himself by spending whatever little we have left?  His father is an addict and his two sisters also have money problems.  I am seriously ill and have increasing medical debt.

The evaluation determined he had Major Depressive Disorder and unspecified ADHD but, from what my husband has told me, they’re not so concerned about the ADHD since he made it through school “just fine”.  Any thoughts?


I don’t think you’ve overstepped your boundaries.  I think that a certain amount of money is a necessity, and if your husband is going through the money, he’s interfering with your basic needs.  (My husband is not putting money in the bank, being resistant to paying me his share of our children’s expenses, and accumulating interest on his credit card because he chose to not pay his bill in full.  I know how stressful this is.)

Posted by rosered on Jan 11, 2014 at 3:17am

Hi, Marisol,

I sm the member of my marriage that has the ADD problem combined with Chronic Depression and Generalized Anxiety. If either of us goes “over the edge’ with spending, it is usually me.  However, my husband and I decided that having joint sessions with my therapist would be helpful.  If your husband is not in therapy for his ADD and the other problems, then that might be something to try.

On a more practical note, it would seem that you husband is just not using good sense.  Retail Therapy is not a good thing when there is a limit on how much money is available to meet necessary living expenses.  We are in that situation now, too.

If you do not already have a budget, develop one an make sure that your husband gives his input in that process.  A simply spending plan works because it shows the income and the expenses each month.  Each of you should have some spending money in that budget, but no “oops!” fund is dangerous, so try not to allocate every dime.  Any remaining money in the checking account at the end of the month should be transferred to savings when the first check for the new month is deposited.  Over time, that will build a “cushion” for those unexpected things.

If possible, have your husband see a different doctor.  Most psychiatrists will suggest therapy; especially in the early stages of the diagnosis, because the adult with ADD often needs help with things such as money, anger, and organization. 

Some tools may be needed, too, but they do not have to be high tech or expensive.  Get him a small pocket notebook so he can write down appointments and reminders.  A cell phone has an alarm function in it, so he can use that with the calendar app to keep him from forgetting things.  Get him a prepaid phone to use.  When he is out of minutes, he will have to deal with it.  Do not put an automatic payment plan in force until he is working with you on keeping expenses in check. 

I hope that he is working.  If not, why not?  If you are ill, do you qualify for disability benefits?  Have you applied for them? 

If your husband doubts that he needs help, then he only needs to look at the fact that he is driving you away with his antics.  If a divorce is not what either of you really wants, then you both need to work on this so that your future together is brighter than your current status.  It take two of you giving 100% to make a marriage.  See a marriage counselor and get some help on building a stronger bond between the two of you.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:28am

I’ve tried many of the things you have suggested and my husband fights me tooth and nail.  How did your partner convince you that he could handle the finances?  This is completely off the table with my husband, he absolutely refuses to let me handle the finances and even compromises are difficult.  As far as the counseling, would you recommend couples instead of individual? We tried couples before I found out our issues could be due to ADD.  I didn’t want to revisit it because he would nag me all day about the one thing the counselor corrected me on.  I’m thinking I made a mistake by sending him out there on his own.  He also is currently not on meds and may be resistant to trying them.  What do you think?

Posted by Marisol on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:36am

Here is the odd thing about our money situation.  My husband wants me to manage the money because he is so terrible at it.  Seriously!  I had been trained as an accountant, but did not work in that field for many years.  When I took my refresher courses, I took the time to look into household financial management and taxation.  that put my head on straight.

Our marriage counseling sessions started after my individual therapy sessions had been going on for some time.  What needs to happen is for you to tell your husband that it is meds and counseling or you two will have to go your separate ways.  He is more dependent on you than you are on him. 

It would seem that he needs help.  He knows that, but is unwilling to get the help he needs.  That is just find if it is only his welfare that is at risk, but he is married to you and he is supposed to be the “man of the family”.  If that is not what he wants to be, then you need to start making your plans to leave, up to and including gathering enough funds to get you out of there and finding a place to go.

It is time for him to put on his big boy pants and get with the program.  This is what should have happened before he ever thought of getting married, but since that did not happen, you will have to get a bit tough with him and make it a “now or never” thing so he is motivated to change what is not right in your relationship.

Not all of this is ADD related.  Much of it has to do with what happened when he was being raised.  One or both of his parents have ADD and it is untreated.  I would guess it to be his father (based on being addicted).  His siblings having financial problems is an indicator that they have it too.

Pick your battles.  You can love someone and not be able to live with them.  I do not advocate divorce, but a legal separation could be tried.  That will mean not seeing each other until you are both satisfied that progress is being made in the right direction.  I would make that a minimum of six months, and conditioned upon him getting the help he needs.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Jan 11, 2014 at 10:47am

I feel for you Marisol.  I agree that you should be in therapy or meditate or do yoga or hide for an hour a day and read a book, whatever it takes to give you some peace everyday where you can get some perspective.

May I remind you, and I don’t mean to sound harsh, this is your one and only life.  You just might be happier in poverty alone in a small apartment that is peaceful.  But you must consider all options - think outside the box as it were - run away to the circus?  The reason for thinking those wild and crazy options is not that you are actually going to run away to the circus, but to muse for a few moments on alternatives gives your brain a break and then very real solutions do come up.  If you keep telling yourself what you cannot do that is all you will see.

And, again I don’t mean to sound harsh, but your husband’s life is not yours.  You have not overstepped your bounds as a wife - you have a right to ask for what you need and want.  But guess what, he always has the option of saying “no”.  It is his life to decide what he wants to do with and if he chooses to mess up then you have to let him.

Are things likely to ever get better without meds, no.  Are things likely to get better with him taking medication, well, possibly.  There is no guaranty, and I don’t mean that in the “all marriages have problems” way, because with all due respect to those with ADHD that is BS.  Being married to someone with ADHD, especially with anxiety and depression (my husband also has both) is totally different than being married to a normal brained person.  You have probably already figured out by now not to listen to family or friends’ suggestions or general marriage advice.  An ADHD person cannot follow regular marriage advice!  It is impossible for them.  They have a disability.

Are there some ADHD spouses that are just a little forgetful and can’t really make plans and oops they forgot they needed groceries and bought an outfit instead cute and charming, oh sure.  Those are not the folks that also suffer from anxiety and depression though - and those two conditions are punishing - to everyone around them.

If you don’t have children, and if he does not get treatment that works, I hope you will consider exiting the marriage and going and finding happiness on your own.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jan 11, 2014 at 11:35pm

Thanks Yella and Dianne!  My husband and I have agreed on couples counseling and living apart for the time being.  I am thinking of printing these responses and taking them to the therapy session.  It’s good to know I’m not the only one going through this smile

Posted by Marisol on Jan 12, 2014 at 6:43am

Hi, Marisol,  You might also talk to your husband about getting some individual therapy for the parts of this that are tied up in his history. 

My hope is that with the right kind of help, you and your husband can put things together or split on a reasonably good basis.  He has some major control issues that need some help.  You are already dealing with more than enough and the stress is not helping either of you.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Jan 12, 2014 at 7:09am

You are absolutely right when you say “with the right kind of help”.  I am currently searching for it.  I heard University programs are not the way to go so I don’t think my husband and I are going to pursue couples therapy with the program he’s with.  He is currently getting individual counseling with them.  Where would I go to search for counselors familiar with adult ADHD?  I live in the so cal area and am having a tough time finding one.  The CHADD website lists few and my resources are limited.  Any suggestions?

Posted by Marisol on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:59pm

Actually, you may qualify for “low cost” help from the local or community mental health centers.  Contact them to see what their requirements are.

“University based” often means that you are working with student counselors.  If the student is at “Masters” level or above, that would be okay.  If not, then I would look elsewhere.

If you are both interested in keeping the marriage together, then look for an experienced counselor.  I do not know which county you are living in or I could do some searching for you.  I am in San Bernardino County.  I used to live in Orange County.

You can message me through this site if you feel that I can be of help in your search.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Jan 14, 2014 at 5:01am

Aw, Marisol.  You don’t deserve the verbal abuse, or any of this.  It sounds like, even you have a serious disease and need love and care, he makes sure to keep everyones’ attention on him—am I right?  How much do you still love him?  It sounds like a terrible situation.

Posted by ltlwing47 on Jan 18, 2014 at 1:42am

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