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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Working Together as a Team around the House

My husband was diagnosed with severe ADD (inattentive type not the HD type) and takes Adderall.  Our therapist really kept stressing that he work with me as a team and since I had the stronger organization skills of the two of us.  He recommended that we agree on mutual plans and that my husband follow my lead for carrying them out - in other words, let me be the lead.  I do feel that would solve our power struggle that we have over the house cleaning and organizing.  If we try to clean together he often goes off on a tangent and does something that completely takes him away from the task and then I’ve lost my partner.  Or my husband will one day reorganize everything.  And while that sounds great to have a spouse who does that - it’s just constant change and constant undoing the work I’ve done. For example, I may set up a filing system - show him how it works and he won’t follow it and will instead either change the whole system up or add to it creating total chaos.  That’s an old example, I don’t work with him on filing anything anymore - I gave up. I’m definitely not a person who likes to tell others what to do so this is not an easy role for me either, but if we could do it, it would solve things. I’m willing to do it.  But he can’t and I’m forever frustrated.  He hates following anyone else’s lead and he cannot stick to agreements. We try and sit down and talk through plans and mutually agree on our to-do list for the week. But we’ve had to give up on this too.  I think he breaks just about every agreement until the relationship reaches a crisis point - it literally takes me to the brink of total frustration which I end up expressing as anger and disappointment.  But unless I get angry - he won’t respond to normal requests. In fact he resents immediately anyone asking for his help.  I don’t like getting angry and I don’t think it’s healthy for me at all.  I’m so frustrated and sad that we have been repeated the same old battle over the house for 21 years.  I’ve given up on organizing and keeping it perfect a long time ago.  But you know, it would be nice to have a clean organized house more frequently than not. Nicer than that would be to actually team together as a couple instead of in a constant state of power struggle. Does any one else go through something similar?


Recently I just ask him to when I want my husband to complete some household task.  Because we’ve gone through the frustrating part of my having to ask to have things done over and over and arguing, he now tends to get up and do it without question most of the time.  We’ve done enough fighting on the topic and we know how exhausting it is.  Its hard for me that if I want to keep a clean house I almost have to be aware of what he’s doing all the time so I can get him to clean up before he’s completely moved on to some other activity/task/thought etc.  I wish I could do something about the randomly placed piles of mail or clothes strewn about, & garbage needing to be taken out.  Most household tasks are mine which is frustrating.  In the past I have made a list of -basic/non time consuming- household stuff that needs to be done which was helpful. We could cross things off as they were completed and he wouldnt have to ask what needed to be done but he could choose from the list so I didnt seem like the “boss” or the “nag.”  To go over a to-do list for the week wouldnt be effective for us.  More than likely one day in from going over what needs to be done he’d forget and its more work for me.  Its sad that I really can’t depend on him for anything I ask (unless its in the immediate and its something small). You’re right, getting angry is NOT healthy for any of us but I hear you and I understand I get there too. I need to be completely broken down in tears to get his attention (which really isnt my style and I rarely do in front of him) whereas anger tends to just fuel things and it becomes an all out battle.  Wish I had an answer myself…

Posted by NonADDspouse on Jun 25, 2011 at 12:34am


Thanks for your reply.  You’re right - I too have to be in tears before he’ll respond!!  Overall these years of marriage before he was diagnosed, I thought I had an anger problem.  When I do ask for help - and it’s rare - I am very careful with the tone of my voice, but alas, that doesn’t seem to help that much either.  I think it gets more consideration from him than if I were to yell and criticize.  It’s so hard not to get to the point of criticizing him.  It’s a challenge when someone always breaks an agreement - or what you thought was an agreement.  My husband just really finds life easier to march to the beat of his own drummer and resents anyone for trying to get his attention otherwise.  I can’t count the money we’ve wasted on his projects nor full summers that he ignored me and my daughter.  Once he went 4 days without even looking at me because he was so focused on his computer.  Literally four whole days and nights!!  Sounds like you have a little more luck than I do at getting help.  My husband does do a lot around the house but its only on his terms when he wants to.

Posted by wsmy99 on Jun 25, 2011 at 12:50am

Ahhh, such an age-old dilemma, it seems!  You are not alone by a LOOOOONG shot!  My partner and I are both ADHD, actually, but we happen to have directly opposing ADHD symptoms, so we have fought about things like this the same way we might if one of us WEREN’T ADHD. One helpful thing to consider, as difficult as it may be to see it this way at first, is that your husband may not just be ADD and might have another challenge he doesn’t realize—he may also be ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), which is not uncommon for ADHDers. What you describe him to be like reminds me of me—when my partner tries very nicely to explain something to me that would be helpful and beneficial to me and is coming from his generous desire to make my life better, I still HATE following his advice. I prefer to do it my way, even if his idea is brilliant, because ODD is an element of my ADHD. No, it’s not logical—but there’s a lot about ADHD behavior that isn’t. I just point that out to suggest you might try a tactic that comes at the problem from a different angle—rather than come up with the system and show it to your husband (which might be making him feel infantalized), ask him to come up with his own idea(s), validate his ideas (don’t criticize), then offer good-natured suggestions for tweaking and refining his solution to make it as effective as it can be—you, after all, have a good sense of how to make an organization plan a great one. His might not be as perfect a solution as you would come up with, but it might be one he feels more invested in because he was instrumental in creating it.

One other thing that has helped me out, because it helped my partner when he was diagnosed ADHD (many years before I was) is becoming familiar with your husband’s learning style. Sandy Maynard, who is a frequent contributor to ADDitude, has a worksheet that helps identify learning styles then offers suggestions for how to approach challenges and problem-solving based on those different styles. It may or may not be helpful to you and/or your husband, but here’s the link if you want to check it out:

Please know I am not downplaying your frustration or that your husband has “blame” to bear for the challenges you describe. My partner and I have each been on the frustration and resignation side of such problems, and I feel for you. Since we’ve also learned we can’t change each other, as desperately as we wish we could sometimes, we can change our approach to how we ask for things, based on how we know the other hears and understands us best.

All the best to you. grin

P.S. One more thing I meant to say—I don’t know that I agree with your therapist’s advice that you “take the lead” on all the planning in your relationship. I imagine that could leave your husband feeling like the idiot in the relationship, being led around like he’s a child—and that is not likely to be something he’s going to stay committed to. While it makes sense to you and perhaps to any logical 3rd party objectively assessing your situation, it doesn’t empower your husband to be part of the solution in any way, other than by taking direction from you all the time. Again, while that may seem like the “best” for both of you, let’s be honest—we men do have our pride to uphold, as well.

Posted by no-ID-a on Jun 25, 2011 at 1:16am

If your spouse has an iPhone, this app might help:

Also, there’s a website that’s loosely associated with HomeRoutines called FlyLady that gives terrific strategies for organizing and decluttering your house that has been successful for many with ADHD.

Posted by kchorn96 on Jun 25, 2011 at 1:25am

OMG! I accidentally erases what I wrote! I was so excited at the replies! I jsut joined this last week and the replies make me feel like I am not going crazy! First, my husband refuses to take most any med and won’t get diagnosed for add, 2 of our children have it and everybody does to some degree,I have tried desperately to de-stigmatize it and we have many married friends with it and it has helped make their life more manageable. I know it won’t be the cure all but he refuses. We have been married 21 years, together 25, we are stuck in a vicious pattern and cycle-what was so attractive to me about him at 22 is not cute now. His happy go lucky attitude and spontanety with 6 kids does not work. They are even noticing all his piles around the house and unfinished projects. We have tried job charts etc, he is married to his iphone, laptop, ipod etc and that is driving me crazy. I work full-time and am resentful of the weekends-same fights no help. I used to do it all like superwoman and he says “you used to do it all and not ask for help” or “I can’t do it your way and you’ll complain” he changes and ups the plans. Anyway, he does not show by example to the kids either, he lost his job and is probably depressed and won’t consider meds even short-term for that either. Weekends are spent doing a quick clean up, grocery shopping, pets and church and it is back to monday-I used to love to work in the yard and I gave up on a nice home and am flying by the seatof my pants-i asked him to mow the lawn and our lawnmower is broken and borrow the neighbors and he said I was “nagging” asked him to get his haircut for a wedding tomarrow nite and he got outraged. He can yell at me, but when I try to suggest or talk-he says"my tone of voice is rude”. He totally shuts down and says, i don’t know what i am supposed to do- I have always been the strong one in crisis and am sick of it. I am 48 he is 51 and I fear I can’t remain with him having another “child” to take care of. I have to stay with him morally and financially with him getting a job and i feel bad, but I deserve some happiness. I am an elder care specialist and add with the aged is complicated. Thanks for letting me vent-I totally got where all you were coming from and am so glad I found this website!

Posted by bookworm on Jun 25, 2011 at 1:34am

no-ID-a, thank you so much for the wonderful reply!  Very supportive and helpful!  You know, I had not considered Oppositional Defiant Disorder in addition to ADD.  I looked it up in the DSM-IV-TR and I think that it fits.  He’s not anti-social by a long shot. He is a kind and caring person.  I do love him but man is it hard.  Bookworm - I so relate to you!!  We used to have Saturday morning fights every Saturday morning - yes, every single Saturday morning!  We now don’t have these because we are better at planning together.  He is totally, totally addicted to his iPhone and will love that app - so thanks kchorn96 for suggesting it. 

no-ID-a, I think you are right about “infantalizing” him. The only problem is when he sets up an organization system - he can’t follow his own either!  So he will redo it. And I can’t keep up with all of his changes.  When we used to share the same computer…OMG - he re organized the desktop daily!  He just can’t remember the way it was before or gets bored with it. One thing I haven’t tried is using picture/visual instructions.  So if we agree on how to organize something maybe we can take a picture of it and post it and we both follow it?  How do you deal with ODD?  I really don’t know much about it and I wonder if like ADHD it’s not recognized much in adults and considered a childhood disorder. 

Bookworm - it is so refreshing when you hear someone’s story that sounds like the hell you’ve been living!!  It just feels good to not be alone and to know that we are having normal reactions to the behavior pattern.

Posted by wsmy99 on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:42am

no-ID-a, also wanted to say thanks for the link to the learning styles.  That is important.  Great tool, thanks so much for sharing!  By the way, you also hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that the therapist’s advice for me to be in the lead did leave him feeling like an idiot.  He quit therapy - he did select a new therapist but doesn’t see him as frequently.  Sounds like you and your partner have really had some very difficult times.  Kudos to you for staying together and working through it.  I’d love to know more about the secret to your success.

Posted by wsmy99 on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:58am

Wow! There’s a lot of advice here.  My husband has been diagnosed w/ADHD and General/Social Anxiety Disorder.  He does take medication, but I am in the same boat as you.  We wind up taking the role of parent and child when it comes to trying to keep to task.  We’ve been married 9 yrs. now and it hasn’t been easy, but I think by picking my battles I get a little less stressed out about messes/not following through with things.  God bless you and keep on looking into new treatments/advice. I know I will too!

Posted by annem68 on Jun 25, 2011 at 3:30am

thanks again to all that wrote and keep writing! I want to stay positive and keep our marriage strong and loving, but I am very tired. I pick my battles too-but this is so hard and discouraging and i need more happiness-raising 5 teenage girls might be part of it ha! I had 7 brothers and no sisters! Thanks again to eveyone and their input-i think he is opposional defiant as well! I need to praise him and try not to “infantilize” him as well. His self esteem is in the gutter with losing his job too and I know that was add related because years ago i had a conversation with his boss when my husband got a bad review and raise-my husband would be so mad if he knew-but what his boss described at work was what I was experiencing at home. Getting evaluated or takin meds does not mean he is a failure and that is the message I think he fears.and that I might be right.

Posted by bookworm on Jun 25, 2011 at 4:31am

Wow…thank you all for sharing, confirming that i am not crazy, and for all the advice.  I will definitely check out the strategies chart.  I am fairly new on this online support and it’s been a blessing.  My husband and i have been married 9 years together 10 1/2 years.  I am totally impress with spouses of ADD who have been living and staying in their marriages for 20 plus years.  How do you do it????  You must have a heart of iron and the patience of saints. 

In reading the many stories, i feel as though most of us are married to the same person.  Knowing that my husband in many ways is the pain-in-the-neck that he tends to be is due to a disorder has calmed me down and allowed me to slowly change my reactions to his forgetfullness, not sticking to plans, breaking agreements, having a completely inaccurate sense of time, impulsiveness, agreeing to compromise but does not, doing the opposite of what was agreed (that oppositional thing), illogical, thinking he is invincible, taking unnecessary risks, addicted to adding more and more onto his schedule, extremely distractible, living the fly by night style, having a short fuse… on and so forth….YES, I can relate to you!  Yes, all of those characteristics have brought the worst of me out and i don’t like it at all.  When i ask nicely, he does not hear me.  When I ask louder or repeatedly to the point of annoyance, he says i am mean to him.  It drives me crazy when he says, “why can’t you ask nicely?  Just tell me what you need and I’ll do it.”  In our case, even when i was in tears, he does not seem to respond but actually freezes.  All his extra needs such as having the pantry, the closet, the utensil drawer labelled and requiring all items in their exact place not even one inch pass the label does not apply to himself. So he complains to me about how disorganized the house is when I am already the ONE running around closing drawers he left open, putting food back in the fridge, etc.  I too like many of you, over the years ended up doing most of the house chores and keeping track of bills, insurances, taxes, etc.  That was easier than asking him to do it or having to deal with the repeated disappointments. The problem is that i am not good at organizing so with the work piling up for the default person, ME, to do, I am completely overwhelmed.  Worst, he still criticizes and has not expressed even an ounce of appreciation or acknowledgement for the huge amount emotionally and physically work I do each day to keep the home functional.

Our first therapist, similar to wsmy99’s, also suggested that i take the lead, i remind him, i write the notes, i this and i that.  That suggestion overwhelmed me even more.  Besides, so what i take the lead if he won’t follow anyway!  Then it fell back on me that “I” didn’t remind him ENOUGH.  How much is ENOUGH???  I don’t like to tell him what to do and i don’t like to repeat the same conversation over and over again.  In a way, he expects me to nag to remind him but I am not a nagger and absolutely dispise having to take that role.  I felt that having me become the lead person was making excuses for his behavior and increasing the responsibility i am already tired of doing. How much can one person overfunction for the other?  Meanwhile, he felt that the therapist was on my side and blamed him for everything.  So even though that therapist was on the right track 6 years ago that he has ADD or ADHD, her approach did not help bring us come together or help us manage the situation in a more productive and loving way.  The power struggled continued, more disappointments, resentments, and heartaches.

Unfortunately, I broke, could not deal with the problems anymore, had to escape my predictament, and left our home.  We have been separated for over 1 year now.  It’s been very painful since i still love him dearly.  I write so much of his undesireable ways but there is much about him i love and adore.  The fact that he is an intelligent man led to the ease of resentments.  I just couldn’t understand how he has solved complicated crisis during work and is known as the Renaissance’s man but can’t function well within the home.  Because my heart is still very much with him, i have paused all legal actions for a divorce especially when he does not want to end the marriage either.  How can i go through with a divorce when both of us still want to be with each other?  especially when we have a little boy to think about?  I have heard some tell me that i must put the matter of the heart aside and just follow the logic.  So far, I have not been able to put my heart aside.  My friends who had supported me dearly when i first left home is extremely worry about my wavering decision to reconcile the marriage.  They have witnessed his “craziness” and saw my pain.  Though they are supportive of me, they can’t see why i would hang on to something that caused much pain for so long.  I am trying to figure that out myself and have been doing a lot of soul searching work.

Our current therapist for the last 3 months has encouraged the both of us to learn what the ADD disorder is about.  My husband is finally open to the possibility of having ADD.  In learning about it, I think i have ADD also but with conflicting coping skills.  He is distractible, chooses to have no structure, and goes along with the distractions. He might even craves the distractions as new stimuli.  I, on the other hand, know that i am easily distractible, dislike distractions, and choose to have structure in place to help keep me focused.  I experience him as someone who keeps on breaking my structure and he experiences me as someone who is too picky and can’t be satisfied.

Learning about ADD allowed me firstly to depersonalize all the “failures” to comply to each other’s needs and stop resenting him for the current and future mishaps.  I am learning not to take it to heart when yet another agreement we discussed over days has been broken within minutes.  I have to remember that it’s the ADD so that i can remain calm when i speak to him about it.  It doesn’t mean I have to accept or excuse him for the mishap but to be understanding, empathic of his disorder, and support him in continuing to work on improving.  The therapist has also encouraged my husband and and resolving the mishap.  The therapist is also having us do exercises to express our appreciation for each other on a daily bases when something is accomplished.  This helps us stay on our good side, be in each other’s corner, and be aware of the other person’s effort no matter how small the accomplishment seems.  We are also encouraged to mirror each other’s words as much as possible to make sure the words are heard and heard corrrectly.  These are the first few exercises we are doing. 

Boy, it has helped me bring my blood pressure down and my husband to be less self defensive.  If anything, i need to take care of my mental and physical health by changing my perspective, and avoid internalizing the problems.  I also realized that with his condition, even if i were to use up my last breath reminding him about something important, there is a good likelihood he will not be able to remember to carry out the task….so i need to know that likelihood and when it happens, don’t be upset.  This way I will be more collected to resolve the problems external to myself without a heart attack.  I know our problems are not based on a simple miscommunication problem where he will say, “Oh gee, honey, that’s what you meant.  Now that i understand, I’ll stop forgetting, stop getting off track with our tasks, stop being self defensive, by more appreciative, and be sure to keep all our agreements.”  Wouldn’t that be a dream come true (for any marriage)! 

Next the therapist will introduce strategies and what he calls, “out of the box” ways for us to interact and work with what we have.  I like that this therapist is not putting all of the responsibility on me though i am sort of his compass as far as reporting back to him the progress between my husband and I.  Some aspects of our work in therapy is weighed on me more at his time and other aspects are weighed on him more in order to achieve balance. 

My husband though he is open to the idea that he is showing symptoms of some sort of processing issue, he is convinced i may have some disorder as well.  Hey, i don’t have any stigma on health disorders so I don’t have a problem being open to that possibility. Sometimes, I wondered how much easier (if any) it would be if I was the spouse with the severe ADD, have him expects less of me, and let him be the one sweeping up behind me. Ha!  I feel like saying, “pick me, me, me…to be the diagnosed with ADD!”

In the past few months, the therapy has showed us some hope of repairing our relationship even if we don’t stay in the marriage.  I wished we had found someone this knowledgeable about adult ADD or ADHD earlier and save us from all those years of frustration and pain.  The challenge will continue though.  The therapist has warned us, “it’s not going to be easy and the road will be rough with ups and downs.”  I think we are dealing with a mix of ADD, ODD, and maybe even bipolar.  So do I think I can be as strong and as patient as the folks still in ADD marriages for over 10 years?  That’s the question!!!

Another thing that has helped me is a series of tips posted online about improving relationships.  They are not specifically written for ADD marriages but i have found them helpful and maybe even more dire in an ADD relationship.  Here’s the link. 

Thank you all again for being there so I don’t feel so alone.

Posted by FindingUs on Jun 25, 2011 at 1:25pm

It is so wonderful to know I’m not the only one dealing with these issues. After 16 years of marriage, and his diagnosis of ADD 6 years ago,a couple of things that have “worked’ for us. We agreed my ADD husband has 3 rooms in our house to take care of. The one bathroom we have, his office, and a spare bedroom where he keeps his clothes. As he works from home, he’s in his office a lot. I can close the door and not see the disaster in there. Same for the spare bedroom. The bathroom is another story. He has taken the responsibility for keeping the bathroom clean. I made a little sign with fancy print to put on the back of the toilet “The man of the house has taken the responsibility for keeping this room clean” as a warning to friends that might use our bathroom. When it gets really horrible, I say to him “if you see the bathroom guy please let him know the bathroom needs his help!” This seems to help as he doesn’t take is as badly as if I asked him to clean the bathroom. I’m very surprised that I don’t “nag” him about it. I just let it go…...Of course I have the responsibility for cleaning the rest of the place. At least I can deal with the mess, putting things he leaves around either in his office or the spare bedroom and shut the door!  Thanks for being there and sharing!

Posted by 82mercedes on Jun 25, 2011 at 6:18pm


Wow!!  You and I have very, very similar situations!!  My husband is extremely defensive.  I point out when he’s being defensive and it helps that the therapist has pointed that out too.  So, he is working on it.  Why does he think you have a disorder?  Before we understood Adult ADHD, he thought the problem was entirely me.  He would often say to me, “you’ll never be happy!”  And of course, angry, I’d think - “yeah, not while I’m with you!” In fact, you ask how we could stay together for 21 years.  The therapist said we are together only because I’ve been so easy going!  I am an easy going person from what I hear.  I have put up with a ton.  My husband is a great person though for as awful as this disorder has been, at least an understanding of it has helped us both realize that neither one of us are really at fault.  It’s a disorder and somehow we have to learn how to work with it.  That is what I"m still searching for.  The symptoms of bipolar and ADHD can be similar in that when someone suffering from Bipolar is manic they can often be impulsive.  It’s critical to have a professional diagnosis.  Bipolar can become a serious and persistent mental illness.  ADD is definitely an impairment.  It’s hard too because his family (my in-laws) are in denial.  We’ve had at least 3 serious near divorces.  Even to right before he got this diagnosis, that I had seen a lawyer and we drew up a separation agreement.  I tried to throw him out so many times but he refused to leave.  And then I just really thought about what a divorce might do to our young daughter and I just said to him - please think of her.  Please agree to get the help we need!  And he went to a marital therapist who diagnosed him with severe ADD. Since then he’s been to a couple of psychiatrists (second opinions) and yes, he has a severe case.  A couple of great sites are
and Psych Central has some ADD and Bipolar screening quizzes which could give you a sense whether to seek help for any disorders.  Wow, I so, so feel for you!!!  I know, I really do know the pain you are in!  I wish I had the answers for us all.

- wsmy99

Posted by wsmy99 on Jun 26, 2011 at 7:25am


Thank you for your reply.  I will check those sites out.  I didn’t realize how much i wrote until i saw it posted.  I guess i have a lot on my mind.  Thank you for reading.

“Why does he think i have the disorder?”
He simply does not see himself as i experience him.  I think he is unaware or has a skewed perception of his behavior.  When i tell him about such and such he had done that hurt me, very often his response would be, “That doesn’t make sense.  Why would i do that?  There is no way i would do that to you.”  I also don’t think he realizes how much he depends on me to remind him or takes it for granted and thinks it’s normal to be reminded repeatedly. 

I, myself, feel i have the disorder because it would explain why i have been struggling to concentrate, easily frustrated when distracted (by smell, noise, movements, etc) and have difficulty working effeciently.  I like a quiet work envirnoment best without anyone around when the need to focus is on demand.  I used to get irritated by the cleaning woman (when we had one) who kept talking to me as she cleaned.  My husband on the other hand, loves the music blasting while he works and is used to talking to others and being pulled away from his tasks.  At first, I thought my difficulties was due to my language barrier when i first arrived to the US 31 years ago (wow, time passes).  Of course, it doesn’t help that my husband picks on communication style.  After a whilel, I began to believe him, feel inept and inconfident of the way I talk.  But as i am learning about ADD, I think i have a touch of it if not more.  There is a chance that living and dealing with an ADD husband has somehow caused to cope by being somewhat ADD like.  I think living with him just brought my ADD related issue (if i have it) to the surface. Having said that he is unaware of his behavior, i started doubting my own behavior and wondered if I am the one with the warped sense of self.  The more i read about ADD, the more i am convinced that my sense of self is not lacking or debilitatingly warped.  I also do not think I have terrible communication skills.  I just don’t speak his language.  Everyone else seems to understand me. LOL.  We are learning!

Posted by FindingUs on Jun 26, 2011 at 12:01pm

There are many dynamics of ADHD/ADD that are playing in these stories.  There are stories of frustration and anger as the ADHD plays out in daily living.

There is an additional dimension that comes into play.  Respect and Love and keeping those two things in balance in an ADHD relationship is perhaps a bigger challenge.  So not only are you dealing with ADHD and the impact of the inability to stay focused or continually going off in other directions (see the sparkly things) and not getting back on task you have other social dynamics at play as well. 

Men need respect and women need love (that is in general the typical male/female makeup).  What happens in ADHD is that it acts like gasoline, so in a normal relationship the respect/love equation is something that requires work.  In an ADHD relationship it takes much more work because pre-frontal cortex isn’t working as well as it does for non-ADHD people.

In most relationships the intention isn’t to hurt the other person but in many cases what starts out as the issue ends up not being the issue.  Think about your intention when you get your buttons pushed, what it to provoke anger or anxiety, probably not.  Most people in a committed relationship don’t want to create an argument and yet it happens.  Was the husband loving in his response and was the wife respecting her husband? 

Switching thoughts ...

For women who are dealing with their own ADD issues Sari Solden has written an excellent book called “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder”.

Posted by coachwithheart on Jun 28, 2011 at 8:09am

I agree with coachwithheart.  A relationship with or without ADHD both requires love and respect to be a good one.  The ADHD in my case makes it so much more difficult because no matter what or how nicely i (thought) i spoke to my husband, his self defense mode is turn up so high probably from being in a life of criticism from others as he was growing up.  I remember, years ago, we had moved to a new resident and fairly new in our marriage.  I spent all day unpacking and moving furniture while my husband was at work.  Night came.  I heard his car pulling up.  With excitment, I ran to the door to greet my husband.  I opened the door before he reached the knob and said, “oh, I miss you.  You are coming home so late.”  Instead of him being happy that he was missed.  He walked right passed me, didn’t say a word, and seemed upset.  “Are you okay?” i asked.  “I worked so hard.  I come home and all you do is complain?” he responded.  I was completely lost.  I tried to explain but he kept arguing, “why didn’t you say it….“this or that way.  Yes, maybe i could have said, “i miss you” in a different way or different tone.  But why didn’t he accept my explaination that i did not intend to complain but that i was expressing love, “I miss you.”  We kept missing each other’s true intentions somehow.  No matter how i explained myself he would respond as though i was doing something to him in a negative way.  Between the two of us, I am the romantic one.  With all the frustrations and disappointments from what i now understand as the ADD symptoms, I still put effort into making him feel special and building our love bank; gave him cards out of the blue to express my love and appreciation, gave him frequent hugs, bring him a glass of his favorite ice tea when he was mowing the lawn, cooked his favorite meals, wrote him poems,etc.  He can’t remember until i show him the cards, the poems, etc.  He seemed to think i was angry at him all the time.  I thought he could not be pleased no matter what i did.  He could not see that he was the one who was in the negative mood and he did not recognize the countless broken promises and ADD type things he does that was hurting our relationship.  I thought that if I could just show him how much i love him, he would stop doing the hurtful things.  This was before i started reading more on ADHD.  Now I understand the “hurtful things” he does was probably the ADHD and not his intention.  Feeling hurt meant i took it personally.

Thankfully, he is finally starting to acknowledge my efforts and the differences in our perceptions.  He is finally believing our 3rd therapist.  After 3 months of weekly therapy with this therapist, my husband is starting to see how his past actions regardless of intention were hurting me and minimizing my concerns aka disrespecting me.  My husband is still who he is with ADD symptoms.  The big change and a big improvement in our relationship is that he now acknowledging me and his ADHD symptoms some of the time.  I am also learning to control my need to carry out my “people pleaser” ways.  He is now more accepting when i gently identify his actions as another ADD symptoms.  Almost as though i am depersonalizing his “disappointable” actions for him so that he does not have to defend himself. 

We are far from being done as far as working on our relationship, if there is such a thing as “done.”  Though it seems like only one babystep on a long road, being acknowledged and appreciated (even if it is only sometimes) after years of only getting disatisfied comments is HUGE, HUGE, AMAZING! 

In the past three months, he has also become a better father.  Another HUGE improvement and so important to me.  This improvement totally energized me to continue working on our relationship.

At this point, he is resisting medication.  However, the steps he has made in the past 3 months tells me that his willingness and effort to change his behavior, perception, and reactions may be the bigger part of his treatment.  Maybe it is possible to manage ADD without medication if he is willing to put extra effort to modifying his behavior to create new habits and me willing to meet him halfway.  He started supplements and acupuncture 2 weeks ago.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to follow through and make time for his second treatment.  I was very please when he had his 2nd treatment.

I am excited and silently cheering him on while i also work on myself as well.  I tell my husband that I have weaknesses, much room for improvement, much resentments to let go, and baggages to face myself.  I welcome him to support me (not criticize me). 

We remain separated as we continue to work on our issues.  The hope we have in the midst of chaos is starting to grow as we both are open to changing our old ways.  Our lives is not easy as our house is going into foreclosure, bills unpaid, our son having difficulty in school from what seems to be ADHD, spending too many hours racing against the bills, sustaining 2 households, etc.  Our therapist is so far completely impressed with our improvement and conviction to still explore the possibility of reconciling our marriage after so much had happened.  I feel that much of what is being pointed out to my husband by the therapist are aspects i had tried to convey to him the past 10 years.  For some reason, he did not hear me.  It wasn’t time or that my tone was off his open minded range.  The change in his behavior began when the therapist led him take a different perpective.

I am still in the beginning of the ADHD journey and don’t know what the future holds.  There had been too many times when tasks are suddenly dropped.  However, at this very moment, I am savoring the relief I feel from the improvement in our interactions.  I hope everyone on this site who are going through so much and overwhelmed for bearing the heavy end of the stick for so long will also get some relief and the sense of hope. 

Instead of focusing completely on the medication or whether to medicate, the key may lie more in the therapy to help the individual to figure out what works for him/her to manage the disorder along with whatever else jumped onto the ADD wagon through the years.  The perception of the person and the perception of his/her loved ones plus the will to be happier is where healing may begin.
Keeping my fingers crossed for us and for everyone out there….

Posted by FindingUs on Jun 28, 2011 at 12:01pm

I can SO sympathize with your husband - I play the same role in our relationship (but I’m female), even though we both have ADD, he has OCD so he’s got the “need” to keep organized, even though I am, like your husband, severely ADD inattentive type.  I take Wellbutrin SR in the morning and another short-release one in the afternoon to make it through the rest of the night.  I also take Risperidone for mood as I’m also bipolar type II.  I do the same thing though - randomly waking up one day and deciding to organize a whole cupboard or the house files or whatever.  But I also empathize with you when you say your husband messes up what you just cleaned.  I do the same thing to mine.  He works hard to keep the house clean, and yesterday I looked around and realized, I leave out a lot of little piles!  OMG, he’s cleaning up after ME!  So, I ask him to say the magic words: “You need to keep up your end of our bargain.”  We see our relationship as a partnership, and as far as running the household, we agreed to turn it into kind of a “business relationship,” where I have an obligation to him to keep the house just as he does to me to keep the house.  So the trigger words help us both stay on track - maybe a similar system might help you and your husband.

Posted by hrbowie83 on Jul 03, 2011 at 1:01am

Your husband reminds me of myself re-organizing things that someone else ‘organized’ but didn’t make sense to me. Or attempts to do a chore or task and then wonders off and does something else that I feel is important instead. I suggest asking him what chores/tasks he wouldn’t mind doing maybe even interested in completing - and maybe give him a deadline such as all of these have to be done by friday or two of these have to be done by tomorrow - If that doesn’t work split up the chore list and pick a day and make it fun or a game out of it - who can complete their jobs the fastest wins and the other has to make dinner or the loser has to do something the winner wants - If its something he wants he will stay focused on completing the jobs
Also - Ask him how you can remind him to complete the jobs without nagging or acting like his mother weather it be a text or setting alarms on the stove to keep him on track and so he stays focused while working - I find that if i don’t have an alarm set to do things that I loose track of time all together and then its late and haven’t even completed the first job! just a thought!
take care, good luck

Posted by nkolinski on Aug 05, 2011 at 12:36pm

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