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Readers Respond: Married to ADHD?

Responses: 105

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Updated March 26, 2013

ADHD symptoms can create stress in any relationship. Both partners must work together to make things better. What’s the biggest challenge you face living with a spouse or partner with ADHD and how do you successfully deal with it together? Please Share

It Takes Awhile to Sink In

I have been married for over 3o years to a man with ADD/Depression and possible passive aggression as well. After our son was diagnosed with ADD in second grade I read everything I could lay my hands on about ADD and in light of that, my husband’s behaviors started to make sense for someone with ADD. He was willing to be tested and was diagnosed with it as well as depression. It’s about 20 years later and it has been a long road with many counselor appointments, drug trials, and tears. Medicine can't help 100% and neither can counseling. What helps me is knowing what I am dealing with, being able to give it a name and knowing that a lot of the behavior is not deliberate. I still catch myself getting upset that he forgets, procrastinates, and prefers to do his own thing most of the time. I am learning to not "micro manage" him. I read and reread Melody Beattie's book about codependency (It is excellent!) and saw my behaviors in it right away. The serenity prayer is one of my favorites.
—Guest Wendy

Husband Is In Denial

Thank you for covering this subject. My husband has been diagnosed 3 times and denies he has ADHD. It's horrible, but all I could do is get very "healthy" myself. He is so stubborn and it makes me very sad, because it is so treatable. But he absolutely will not address it, so our marriage suffers. For a long time I suffered because it is so frustrating. But then I took a different approach and I am happy and joyful most of the time but that is me as an individual-not in our marriage. I won't divorce him, but so many aspects of our marriage will never be good because his ADHD (in my opinion!) is mixed with pride. I know there have to be other spouses suffering in this way.
—Guest merkey@sbcglobal.net

At My Wits End

My fiancé and I have been together over 3 yrs and have 2 children. I try to help him but nothing works. He blames EVERYTHING on ADHD. He leaves a lot, stays out all night, won't do things, forgets stuff, won't help, won't work, lies about everything, doesn't want to take responsibility for his actions, and more I haven't even named. Some is spoiledness but everything he says is unhelp-able. He doesn't want to go to the doctor for meds or help. We've almost broken up more times than I can count. I don't want to, though, and the kids need their father. They're 2 1/2 and 10 months. They want him around as much as I do but how to get him to stay and try? Since he won't work I ask him to help at home. He doesn't want to. I go to school, work, take/bring the kids, doc appts, bills, take care of him. Well who is there to take care of me? Can anyone help me figure out what to do other than tell me I can't do anything? This has been going on for over 3 yrs and I'm about done with this nonsense.
—Guest Confused with no answers

Work in Progress

I cannot explain how being diagnosed with ADHD 2 years ago has helped my marriage. I have struggled since being a little girl with many things. My husband couldn't understand why I struggled with simple daily tasks with my 2 daughters - especially scheduling! Since my diagnosis I have learned what works for me and I have learned to utilize the "tools" and "practices" that actually WORK. I have learned I need STRUCTURE. With structure I go far! Without it I am completely lost. Scheduling has been a huge issue for us in our marriage. With 2 full time jobs and 2 toddlers I tended to "own" the calendar and it wasn't working in the past. I have finally adapted a tedious system that has HELPED me and my family tremendously (no more missed Dr's appt! No more late attendance!). But it requires my husband's commitment to work with me in a weekly meeting where we discuss the upcoming events for the week. It's an ongoing process and he knows it's critical that we have these "scheduled" meetings.
—Guest K.Smith

Family of ADHD

I am grateful I googled "married to ADHD" and found this site. 11 years ago and another child later my husband was instrumental with discovering the diagnosis for my oldest child as he also was diagnosed as a child. When we met I was recently divorced with two young girls and didn't understand my daughter's behavior. He was charming and seemed mature until I said "I Do." Now I have 4 children; 2 from my prior marriage, 1 with my husband and 1 is my husband. My oldest daughter, our son and my husband are all diagnosed ADHD and my husband refuses to take medication. My home is constantly cluttered, I work full time, handle all the docs and schools for three children and trying to discuss responsibility with an adult man with ADHD is like going into a sword fight with an expert swordsman. I feel like I am losing my mind, he is a good hearted man but I cannot take the chaos, his temper and his immaturity any longer.
—loozinmymind

To —loozinmymind

I understand that. Some of us have a keen ability to "debate." We twist things, perhaps unintentionally but convincingly, to ourselves and impose that twist upon others. Since my kids have grown to 18 and 22 years I have learned a bit about myself. Their arguments can be tough to deal with, umm... logically ;-)
—theanttheant

Thoughts From the ADHD Partner

The ADHD Perspective: I have said, on more than one occasion, I wish my husband (who does not have ADHD) could spend a day in my body and mind so he could see not only what goes on there, but how much energy I spend trying to be "normal" and function in an environment that is not ADHD friendly. That being said, he has his own issues, and when he gets confused, he gets angry. But a lot of it is not understanding that if he can do something (anything) with regularity, why can't I? He has a hard time being empathetic since he has never gone through ADHD.
—Guest Guest

Thoughts from the ADHD Partner

I'd like to echo "Guest Guest's" sentiments. I am 44 and was diagnosed with ADD almost 3 years ago. My wife has no clue the enormous amount of energy it takes to act "normal." I've worked VERY hard to respond to her EVERY request; been through 7 professionals before I finally found one SHE likes, tweaked my meds numerous times until I found a regimen she thinks works ok for me, tried hundreds of strategies to conquer scheduling (one of my biggest weaknesses), and tried many, many times to convey to her how overwhelming it is for me when she gets angry and frustrated with me over an occasional mistake. I'm not trying to make ADD my catch-all excuse, but it seems to me that this explanation to years of frustration for her over my behavior could come with a little compassion, understanding and grace; at least that's my daily prayer.
—Minister_of_Finance

Husband w ADHD round 2

After reading some of the comments on here there are some that sounds like my husband. He gets really hyper focused on video games (especially while laying in bed and im trying to cuddle/sleep). He also gets in trouble alot at work because he has NO filter in his words. I am worried he is going to end up getting fired as a courtesy clerk at work. He was diagnosed as a kid and dosen't get any help whatsoever. His attitude towards me is pretty nasty when things don't go his way. I have had to seperate our finances just so I could have my own money to spend and make him see how much I need his help. I feel like honestly our love is dying from our marriage because I can't work with his ADHD anymore. I have not taken care of myself and I went to the doctor and my blood tests really showed it because I have more health problems than I would normally have. I just hope he will get the help he needs because his mom took him off her insurance and stopped caring about him.
—Guest Renee

married to ADHD

I have been married to my husband for almost two years and have known him for almost three years. I am 22 and he is 25 years old. When we started out dating he would always be controlling and upset very easily if I had my own life. He would always look online for some kind of attention as well. We got married and now he barely wants to do more than minimum of his work and I am the main money bringer and I am also going to school full time. I am the one who manages the bills. I am getting to the point where I am mentally and physically drained and I dont know how much longer I can hold on to this marriage. He has a problem of getting angry out of no where and cannot stop yelling or talking over me once he starts. He did get arrested once for DV and his behavior seems to have gone back to it. Sex is pretty much dying because I feel pretty depressed and my anxiety is really bad. I have no idea how to deal with ADHD.
—Guest Renee

mentally drained

Hey, i'M 24 female, mother of two and my 25 yr old partner has adhd diagnosed since 8 years old . Going into 6 year relationship. I'm mentally and physically exhausted, and unsure if my relationship can come good ever again . I'm now suffering anxiety and depression, insecure and really unhappy. I'm seeking to find happiness again.
—Guest kaylee 89

Hell

Living with a ADD husband is hell. That's the short and simple of it. If I had to tell you why I would be writing a essay. I agree strongly with a lot of the responses. He has never received treatment in our time together so I have no idea if peace is possible. I do know that when I have my life together I WILL be leaving. Life is so chaotic and stressful, I feel like I now need help. I will say it too- get out! Or don't even start a relationship with such an angry, scatterbrained, emotionally abusive, self abusive, neglectful, irresponsible kind of person!!!
—Guest Seekay

I'm there too part two

I wanted to add that the two most difficult things in living with my spouse are that he is a hot mess with organization. He can't even get trash into a trash can and our son takes after him. He never touches a dish or laundry or toys that need to be picked up even if he's the one playing with them. He won't manage money. He barely gets the regular bills paid. He doesn't do house maintenance which is partly why we abandoned our house. He huffs & puffs & acts miserable about small chores like trash or walking *his* dogs. He holds down a decent paying job but not but is miserable & won't look around & doesn't get promoted. I'm exhausted & failing health at only early forties. Now I have two of them & I'm pretty sure they have ADD.
—Guest Narwhal orca

I'm totally there

I have been with my husband for over twenty years. We had a long stint (10-12 years) with his alcoholism. When that was solved, the verbal/emotional abuse escalated, when that was solved the financial problems & hoarding got completely out of control. Now we are in our early 40s and foreclosing on our house & filing for bankruptcy. I think our son may have something- OCD, ADHD , or Aspergers. These things run in my husband's family. My FIL is diagnosed OCD, our nephew is diagnosed Aspergers. I think my FIL may have NPD as well. My husband doesn't want me to get our son diagnosed. He does great in school & sports, but at home he's often combative, inappropriate, defiant, and sometimes even violent when angry. Our son gets manic when he eats certain foods he is allergic to by accident. It doesn't help for me to work a job, because my husband will spend the money taking my son out places while I'm at work or empty our savings account "to pay bills". At wits end.
—Guest Narwhalorca

I could break

I am married to an ADHD man who hyperfocused on me till the day after the wedding. I dealt with the shock and then started to research. I work so hard to help him...all our lives are about ADHD management. I was an orphan, no family to go to for breaks. I am exhausted. Looks like as his life gets better mine sinks. I feel I could break.
—Guest Anbe

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Married to ADHD?

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