You are here

Anyone here married to a ADHD spouse

halo1998's picture

yea...its exhausting.  SD has ADHD and yep no mystery where she got that from....DH is very ADHD.

He is undiagnosed and very unmedicated.  Does this affect our marriage and life...uh yes...ALOT.  More than he would admit.

After 15 years of my needs being put on the backburner...or just flat out ignored...I had a mental breakdown last friday.  Not just a little bit of freakout..were are talking almost commitment level breakdown.  (I'm better now...seeing my therapist again and finally putting my needs first)

This is culmination of years of never being first in my marriage....and due to DH's adhd.  When you add in I have pretty much raised all of the kids by myself (with one kid that is on the autism spectrum)...and now I have the dogs (two are now special needs) a stressfull and mentally demanding job its a wonder that I made it this long with out cracking my nut.

As DH has aged he is less in control of his adhd and it is now definately starting to take a toll on our marriage. I can't tolerate the interrupting, the not listening, no follow through, no executive function anymore.  I simply cannot...and I cannot be responsible for everything anymore.  I need to focus on my mental health.

Things need to in nope..DH you need to deal with SD and her issues on your own.  No sluffing it on me to deal with...write your own emails to teachers, etc.  I cannot take that on anymore...

No more letting DH verbally vomit on me everyday when he is done with his workday.  The interesting thing he said after my meltdown was he doesn't feel connected to me.  I don't tell him anything anymore.  Uh yea there trained me not to.  When you interrupt me, tell me what I'm doing wrong, get irritated that I'm talking  and or just flat out ignore me for the TV/phone/ trains one not to talk to you. That is what you have presented to me..that my needs and thoughts do not matter and are not important.    I get that its your ADHD and its not your intent..but it certainly doesn't make the impact any less powerful.  So yes DH I would imagine you don't feel connected...but you've done everyting to make the connection none existent. short..anyone else deal with two ADHD people in the I the only one that deal with this shiznit.


advice.only2's picture

Sorry it's been such a mess for you, sending out positive and healing vibes for you during this time.  I'm curious after you lost it on DH is he planning on doing anything to address the ADHD?  Or is he just going to pout and feel disconnected from you until you finally nope on out of there?   I really hope he's going to get help for this, for his own sake and for your marriages sake.  

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I'm sorry you are going through this. It sounds bad. To the point that i wonder if your DH has more than ADHD. Like, is he old enough that it could be dementia? 

halo1998's picture

I just think he is older and less able to manage the ADHD.  When he was younger I think he was better able to deal with the adhd and he could use physical exertion to help.  

tog redux's picture

I believe my DH has ADHD - he's messy and disorganized and forgetful. He's never been diagnosed. His brain works differently than mine, we've talked about it, and I've read him articles about it, and he agrees it sounds like him. He has several things going at once all the time and can't finish projects to save his life. He gets bored when it comes to the fine details of finishing it. But he has hyperfocus, so at work, he is known as being a tenacious problem solver because he won't let go until it's solved. 

I think SS21 has it too, he's similarly messy and disorganized. Both he and DH did terribly in school despite being very smart. 

Would your DH go to marriage counseling with you? I think it would be important to suss what's ADHD and what's not.   You've put up with a lot from him.  Yes, the interrupting, disorganization, etc is ADHD - but the refusing to help you with anything around the house is not.  That's just him being plain old selfish, in my opinion. I know other adults with ADHD and they don't dump all household responsibilities onto their spouse.  He seems like he uses that as an excuse but genuinely doesn't really care about your needs.  I'd suggest you have a therapist help you sort all of this out.

Also, good for you for finally setting limits. I can't stop thinking about you lifting stones for a path while he plays video games. 

halo1998's picture

He would definately go to counseling.  He is open to I'm sure he is realizing divorce number 2 is closer than he thought.  I'm not sure how much he wants to admit his ADHD needs to be treated.  He likes to think he has compensated for having it very well.  He does great at work since he can hyperfocus on it during the day   (Does explain why he isn't able to take care of the dogs during the day despite being at home, hyperfocus on work).

 I think in many ways I haven't helped this situation as I'm a..well it needs to be lets do it kind of person. That is largely due to my anxiety and need to keep things in order.  I'm working on the anxiety right now since it has reached an all time high.  

I had to tell DH last night..look I can't be your rock right now..I can't take on your problems/issues/worries etc.  After 15 years of this marriage being about you and your problems..I need to focus on me.  This is the part of marriage in which you have to be there for the other, not me be there for you.  Sorry but your time is done....he isn't happy with that as the status quo is really nice for him.  Do I think he is selfish and lazy at times..oh yea...definately.  He has gotten used to playing helpless and not having to do anything.    Its been a sweet gig for him..not gonna lie.

I'm just mentally exhausted at this point.   I need to focus on what I can do to feel better...not on how this is affecting him.  I had to call him out on that one last night too since he tried to play the "I don't do anything right" card.  yea...bullshit and I'm not going to switch gears so that I can comfort you there DH.  Nope..not happeing...try again.  So this is going to be interesting as he continues to try and regain/maintain the status quo.

tog redux's picture

I tend to take over and do everything out of anxiety as well.  I've started to gradually put more on DH to do.  He said once that if I don't tell him I'm bothered by doing something, he assumes I'm okay with it.  Some things I will keep doing for him because it makes my life easier (like keeping track of his medication so we aren't scurrying around last minute). He appreciates that and says so. 

You should focus on your own stuff right now and decide what to give back to him (like everything related to SD).  He can get his own therapy and focus on address his issues as well. 

Ispofacto's picture

Omg, hon, I hear you!  Thanks for raising this topic.

Yes, my DH has ADHD and he's so effing annoying.  It's been coming up a lot lately.  I try to remind myself that he's not doing it on purpose, it's a disability, but sometimes I get soooo angry.


halo1998's picture

yep...its become almost daily with me as I have reached the end of my rope with it all.

I know he isn't doing it on purpose..but good lord....its still annoying to the n'th degree.


JRI's picture

I am so sorry you are going thru this.  You seem like a kind, smart, funny person and I always look for your posts.

My DH83 doesn't have ADHD but his obsessive compulsive thing is kicking in the older he gets.  I'm not sure if that is the current name for it but he must have everything in its place, changes throw him and he repeats questions endlessly if he is unsure about something.  He might have dementia coming on, too.

I've noticed that people become more like themselves as they age.  So, I would expect your DH to exhibit his symptoms more, not less, as time goes on.  ( Sorry).  But its good that you two are communicating about it.  Good luck, Halo.

halo1998's picture

good and bad.  :)  I do expect his symptoms to be more...and in some aspects its good.

Need to lower your cable bill..Dh is your guy.  He will argue that and follow that all day problemo.  Dogs running amok and wife's hair on fire...will never notice unless your in front of the tv.

BethAnne's picture

I am the spouse with ADHD in our house. I'm currently unmedicated and not seeing a therapist either. I had to stop taking meds when I got pregnant and am now breastfeeding so haven't started back with them. LIfe is definately tougher to stay on top of without the meds. I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water most days. I do feel bad for my husband as a lot is falling on his shoulders but I try to do what I can to make his life easier as well. 

Meds can help a ton, it is crazy how effective they are at calming the brain and helping with motivation and focus. They aren't perfect of course but a big help. I didn't really get much therapy to help yet (I only worked out I had ADHD relatively recently and focused on the meds first and had been put off therapists after a series of them didn't work out for me prior to diagnosis). 

Just because your husband needs to get the thoughts out of his head and into the world doesn't mean that he shouldn't be listening to you and trying to hear what you have to say and trying to make your world a better place in general. 

If you can get him to get some therapy and/or meds that might help and if you still feel he doesn't hear what you need then maybe some couples therapy could help you two communicate.  

tog redux's picture

Most likely stimulants.  There are others that aren't stimulants for ADHD, but generally stimulants are the most effective. 

BethAnne's picture

I took aderall. There are other stimulants that are also prescribed. While pregnant and for a while when breastfeeding I took Wellbutrin but it wasn't as effective but helped a bit. There are other medicines that are prescribed. I believe that mostly people start on some sort of stimulant though and try other meidcations if those don't work or someone doesn't want to use a stimulant. 

strugglingSM's picture

My DH currently takes Concerta, which helps him focus without making him as jumpy as some of the other medications. He currently only takes it when he's working. He also has a tendency to self-medicate with red bull, so stimulants definitely help. 

Aniki-Moderator's picture

I'm the one with ADHD (hyperactive). Something of a kicker is that my OCD keeps me focused. Also diagnosed with anxiety and BDD. No meds. DH and I have a... 'system' to help keep my ADHD in check.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Cryptic was not my intention! When I'm in hyper-mode, DH let's me run with it for a time to get it out of my system. Not entirely certain how to describe it: it's a sort of dance for us. He gages my mood, anything that may have triggered to make it worse, then acts accordingly. Then he distracts me or hands me a notebook to make endless lists; which allows me to write furiously and simultaneously soothe my OCD. 

Again, I don't mean to be cryptic - just not sure how else to describe it. We're very in tune. *unknw*

tog redux's picture

We find that a touch of anxiety for kids with ADHD makes them more driven to manage their lives better, as they don't want to disappoint, fail, etc.

Cover1W's picture

I know it.  My DH is wise enough to be medicated, see a therapist both for his ADD and for other personal things and to most of the time listen to me when I get overwhelmed.

Melissa Orlov was doing phone group sessions for free, I did that and it was super helpful last year. I don't know if you've looked at her info but it's super helpful and there are chat forums.  But we all have a breaking point.  I believe she'll do couples sessions too. Highly recommend her.

strugglingSM's picture

My DH has ADHD. Was diagnosed as a child and has the inattentive type. He took ritalin as a child, until he refused in high school because it made his hands shake. Now he takes Concerta, but only when he's at work. 

It is a struggle. His biggest areas for "opportunity", shall we say, are realizing when he is snapping at people or lashing out (he sometimes realizes that he's coming across as a jerk, but other times will claim that he isn't being snappy or mean), not making eye contact or engaging when in social situations (many of my friends don't want to hang out with us as a couple because they think he doesn't like them or he's rude), and time management. He also has a tendency to hyperfocus on things - often it is just zoning out to the television, but lately, his hyperfocus is buying a boat to go crabbing and fishing. It's caused some arguments with us, because he always wants to spend collective money on his hobbies, which he claims are "our" hobbies, but doesn't seem to see the sacrifices and trade-offs that I'm making or that we both need to make to thrive financially (no one in DH's life has been a good financial manager - not MIL, not FIL, and not BM, even though she is an accountant), so naturally, DH is not, especially since he deals with impulsiveness having ADHD. 

That said, DH is great at organizing and will take the time to organize things in our house, which I assume is part of his hyperfocus. He's also extra sensitive to clutter, which I think is a result of his ADHD. 

I think there are a few things that make our ADHD situation worse. MIL spent DH's entire life telling him there was "something wrong" with him (this was followed by almost a decade of being married to BM where she would repeatedly use his ADHD as an excuse to belittle him), so he's internalized the idea that he is a failure, which often leads him to give up (and also leads to self-esteem issues, obviously). MIL has not been diagnosed with ADHD, but has ADHD tendencies (is completely unreliable, always late, forgets things...maybe on purpose). I can only imagine how difficult it was for DH to grow up as a child with ADHD whose mother provided absolutely no structure for him, but then told him he was "defective" essentially. DH has seen several counselors throughout his life. The most helpful one he saw from high school through his marriage to BM. The counselor asked to meet with BM because she had "concerns". BM met with her alone, stormed out of the session, and then insisted that DH never see that counselor again. I've encouraged him to find a new counselor, because as I've told him, I'm open to working with him, but I need him to be part of the process and also be involved in managing his ADHD and not using it as an excuse for dysfunctional behavior. As a stepmom it can be hard to "manage" all the issues associated with an ADHD spouse and stepchildren. I often tell DH that I spend so much energy managing things for our household that I don't have any bandwidth to manage anything for his children and he has to be okay with that. 

Being married to someone with ADHD can be exhausting. Being a stepmom can also be exhausting. Putting the two together can be disastrous...especially since I didn't expect to be playing the parent role for either my husband or his kids, but do like certain things to happen in my household. 

tog redux's picture

My DH does the snapping and lashing out, too. He can be very impatient and moody at times, I've learned to either tell him to knock it off or just ignore if he's being moody. 

Cover1W's picture

Oh yeah. 

DH has a weird thing with service personnel and waiting in any type of queue, be it a physical line, on hold, in a waiting area, etc. And he can be rude and abrupt with staff. I'm constantly giving reminders to him about this because he really doesn't "hear" himself and how rude and dismissive he can be. He's not this way with friends though unless he's super worn out or tired. And he is very rarely like this with me and I don't let him get away with it.

Boat = bicycling. I've had the talk that my work in the home/on the home/errand running allows him to have his play time so if I ask him to please do something then DO IT because I've likely already spent 10 hours doing stuff that he didn't have to to and I'm asking for ONE hour of his time. Frequent reminders are necessary.

I know where DH has been because he leaves trails and piles of things wherever he's been. Drives me nuts. Sometimes I just gather everything up and put it all in one giant pile just so I can walk into a room without it looking like a tornado hit.

And DH has internalized that there's something wrong with him that is BAD and that he's a failure and a bad person. So if I ask him to please clean up his lunch items from the counter so I can make dinner sometimes he'll go off on how I'm shaming him and making him feel bad. I have to be very calm and firm and tell him "No, DH. It's not about YOU it's about my ability to make dinner and it's simply a request for you to please clean up your things so I can cook for us, that's IT."

And I'm much better at not being his parent - because that was killing both of us really, it's kind of like disengaging from his ADD but not him.

strugglingSM's picture

Yeah, DH will often get more defensive than necessary because he feels he's being shamed or being judged for his disability (in addition to ADHD he also has an auditory processing disorder which made school difficult for him), even when the issue has nothing to do with that and even when the person in question doesn't even know about it. I've suggested he go work with a counselor on that because he needs to work through the fact that his mother told him he was "a handicap" and that there was "something wrong" with him because she was in labor too long when he was born. Neither are true, we found out he has a genetic condition that can cause both ADHD and language issues, but won't tell MIL for fear of her judgment and rude comments. It's really terrible how society tells people who are "different" in any way that there is something wrong with them. MIL was abusive about it and still sort of is. She dotes on DH's brother who is a lawyer and treats DH like he's her servant even though he's also employed in a good job. 

The_Upgrade's picture

I'm not dealing with an ADHD spouse but I am dealing with an ADHD inlaw. Great, awesome guy if you need a lift somewhere or need him to run to the shops to grab something if you're busy. Alway willing to help. But he zones out of conversations. Even the conversations he initiates. Halfway through answering his question and I can see his eyes have glazed over and he's off with the fairies. His screwups tend to be a lack of common sense, like the inability to see how one thing can cascade to the next. It's like he's not a bad guy and he doesn't do shit with the intention of screwing anyone over, it's just his inattention and not thinking things through. But sometimes regardless of intent his actions can still makes you feel screwed over nonetheless.

halo1998's picture

for literally 10 hours.  He can binge watch a series like its his job. I can't sit that long nor do I want to watch tv that much.  I particulary love when he watches tv and then plays a video on his phone.  As a hearing impared person.....that drive me insane.  I cannot have two things blarring at the same poor brain cannot pick up which to listen to and I have to concentrate to hear things.  I have to tell him PICK can't play both.

The zoning out is an issue..he does not notice anything else around him.   Nothing...the house could catch fire or a bomb dropped and he would still be watching.  He also gets irritated if someone interrupts his watching TV.  Then he lashes out at me or whoever/whatever interrupted hime.  I try to give him grace..but geez...I can only take so much before I'm irritated. 

I have told DH repeatedly..I spend so much energy running our lives/household etc..that the last on my mind at night is any type of physical contact.  I don't have it in me by that time.  Plus after being ignored, verbally vomitted on and then treated to his irritability..being any kind of intimate is hard no for me.

I am lucky that DH doesn't spend all the needlessly.  He is pretty good at the financial stuff.  I think that is because Beaver was so awful at it..he had to be good at not spending money.  DH is good at growing our retirement money, etc.  He is also good at making sure bills are paid.

MostlyGraceUnderFire's picture

DH and one if not both adult skids have ADHD.  DH was tested but "faked" his responses so the results would skew negative and he wouldn't have to deal with it!   Living with him is exhausting and seems to get worse as he ages.  The inability to listen or comprehend, the constant interruptions and temper outbursts,  the total self-focus .... he managed to keep a job he loved for years,  but is horrible with finances and won't listen to me although I'm expert in more than one financial field.  The skid issues are still there,  but are better after both finally launched.  The ADHD is another story.   I also follow an ADHD forum on marriage because some days I'm just not sure how long I can continue dealing with the repercussions of DH's ADHD.

Merry's picture

My DH is undiagnosed ADD, I'm sure of it. Add to that depression and anxiety (diagnosed and medicated). I get so tired of being the only functioning adult in the house.

He doesn't seem to notice a sink of dirty dishes, or piled up laundry, or notice the dog needs to go out. But he sure can rewire a stereo speaker and wheel and deal on guitars.

His go-to excuse has been "I thought I did (whatever is undone). I'm sorry." Ok, and what now? That's it? You're sorry and it's still undone a day later?

He has learned to make a daily list of tasks. And he will do anything I ask of him. For a long time I resented having to explicity tell him to do the obvious (dishes, trash, etc.), but I was even more resentful having to come home from work and do it myself after he's been home all day.  Other things I let go. He desperately wants to go see his kids, for example, and whines about it frequently. But hasn't lifted one finger to make that happen. When he starts in on that I just ask him if he's looked at dates with them. Well, no, he forgets/gets distracted/meant to do that/saw something shiny. Shrug.

I love the guy, I really do. He's smart, funny, talented, and an utter fool for me. We've had some terrible times and I almost left him a couple of times when he was checked out of the marriage. But we've gotten to a good place now--but it took individual counseling for both of us.

MostlyGraceUnderFire's picture

Merry,   How did you get your DH to 1) make lists and 2) go to counseling?   Mine refuses to make lists because "You're so much better at it Grace".    He saw a counselor a couple of times,  but then quit when he heard that Grace was not the main problem and also when he learned that there would be some homework and he'd have to put in effort.   My counselor (whom I saw for a year) told me that I was in a really difficult spot without much hope for change unless DH became willing to participate.  


Cover1W's picture

My DH is not a list maker either. He's tried. The lists get to be insanely long and disorganized and then he's got 10 of them around the house. He's learned to decide on one or two things 'to do' at a time. Currently it's the FAFSA for crazy colleges, this is his focus for the next two days. And I've given him instructions on how to ask me for information (not randomly throughout the day). Because I must help with this we need to sit down together to do it or he needs to make ME a list of what he needs. I'll have to repeat that today at lunch.  I think it depends on the ADD person.  This is just my experience over the last 8 years.

My DH is also pre-disposed to counseling because way back when it was court-ordered during the divorce and he actually found benefit from it. Now, he's not agreed to go with me because he already sees two counslors but he would if I really demanded it.

Merry's picture

Counseling was easy -- go see a counselor and do the work, or go see an apartment rental agent. Those were his only two options and he knew I was serious I don't NEED him or his money. I WANT to have a healthy partnership.

Lists weren't too hard either. He has a morning routine and sits at the kitchen island with coffee. So he keeps a pad of paper and pen there. We both add things to it. Actually LOOKING at the list is harder. I don't remind him of doctor or other appointments, and he misses those occasionally and suffers the embarrassment. And I HAVE gotten pretty upset when he makes promises to do xyz and it doesn't get done. DH is, at times, afraid of me just leaving him one day, just like he's afraid his kids will just stop loving him. It's irrational, but sometimes useful.

When he does the "you're so much better at detail" thing, I call him out on it. While that's true, it doesn't mean he's incapable. The man has a PhD for kristsakes. I refuse to be his mother, and we've argued about that plenty. He knows he's exasperating, and the counseling helped him to see and confront some of his behaviors.

TheAccidentalSM's picture

Just internet ((((hugs)))).

Take care of yourself