I am new here. I am recently diagnosed with ADHD (3 years), have been married for over 30. Not knowing this until 3 years ago, I had always just thought my wife was unnecessarily sensitive. I wondered why she would always overreact when we had arguments. I am just now understanding, acknowledging and taking ownership that it was me. But it may be too late. The pain of the many years of fighting can not be retracted. She is gravely wounded, and upset too that we are only NOW aware. I want so much to repair and retrain myself for our relationship and doubt she is up for the task. Now, reading that divorce rates are double with an ADHD partner, I am looking for hope and encouragement for our marriage. Anyone?
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CHADD's Adult ADHD Support
Hi. I’ve been married 35 years and I’ve recently been diagnosed. My husband and I have been active members of AA for most of that time and it really has helped us. I drank and drugged after high school, self-medicating , to cope. It got way out of hand and we were true addicts and needed help. My dear husband has hurt me very badly over the years: drunken episodes, affairs, money mismanagement so we lost our home, lack of involvement with our son....I could go on and on.
But for MY peace of mind, I have chosen to forgive. I don’t forget, but I put him in my Higher Power’s hands, daily. We don’t want to give up on each other. There has been no more drinking, no other women....and we don’t blame. We don’t use the word. It’s not helpful. I’m an ADHD/add alcoholic/addict in recovery. We are both a mess. But we are content today. He is very steady (compared to me) and he helps to ground me. I am grateful for him, and I stay grateful.
Hi. I have been married for 13 years and your story resonates a ton with me. My experience is that as much as I try to "repair and retrain", I will always display behaviors that are rooted in having ADHD. I admit that I completely screwed up in my past, and unfortunately will probably continue to screw some things up. I ask for forgiveness, but as much as a couple/spouse might try to forgive past behaviors and transgressions, there will always be reminders in the present that will bring back the hurt. Even if a spouse (like mine) agrees to acknowledge ADHD as one of the causes of past pain, it is exceedingly difficult to move past it all. People are different and have different emotional responses and filters. Some spouses can probably forgive more easily than others. However, the fact of the matter is that some people never forgive, never forget, and/or remain bitter throughout life. I have been trying very hard to leave the past in the past, and encouraging my spouse to do the same. BUT....it doesn't work every day, and there are relapses of blame caused by my current ADHD behaviors that are very painful. I write down what I am working on to change my behaviors in the future, and share that with my spouse. I keep the list as simple as possible. Then, I find a way to stick to the changes/tasks I commit to. This is the hardest part for ADHD people like myself to do. Sticking to any task is exceedingly difficult, but I try. Maybe employ a therapist, friend or life coach (if you can afford one...I can't). I read my list daily and try to act on one item every day, or every other day. I set a note in my calendar to check the list and act on it every day. My spouse doesn't like this tactic much, because she feels like "our marriage/family is a check box". For me, it is the only way I remember to do anything much less keep a marriage together. Even so, there are plenty of days that I am unsure if my marriage will last through the next week. I have grown to accept a certain amount of uncertainty. Regardless, no one I know has invented time travel so that I can go back and re-write our collective past together. If they do, I am going to be the first person in line to buy a ticket. Therefore, I try hard not to live life in the past. I only have the future that I am tasked with living out, no matter (as painful as it sounds, and as much as I lover her) if it is with or without my spouse.
Thank you very much for responding. It is helpful to hear you rstory too.
We just started going to a therapist. Have tried a few meds. Just started Wellbutrin, and for me, this seems to be the best so far, but only 10 days into it. You sound committed and aggressively trying to make changes that work for the two of you. I hope things work out for you and your spouse, and that love and kindness prevail.
To Hidden: I applaud your efforts to do something every day to honor your commitment to doing things in new/better ways.
I feel sad that your wife doesn't yet understand that there is no such thing as "just a check box" for someone with ADHD -- if she understood what it's like to live with your ADHD brain, she would cherish that check box. I hope she can come to understand how important and difficult that check box really is for you.
She may also be struggling to give up her own story that she's told herself about you for the last 30 years -- doing that may be harder than anything else, because she'll have to admit she was wrong in what she thought was going on, and what you 'meant' by what you did.
Owning that she made mistakes in how she explained your behavior to herself (and others?) could be really challenging for her. If she's been (and still is?) invested in seeing you as the bad guy and her as the victim, not only for all those years past, but for today and tomorrow too, that can be hard to let go of. Being 'the victim might be how she lets herself off the hook of shared responsibility for what happened.
I don't know either of you, but this pattern between people happens a lot with couples, ADHD or not.
From the other side, I would be enormously grateful to have my husband of 13 yrs simply acknowledge that he has ADHD, that it is a problem, and that it's up to him to take action about it. I do my best to compensate for him but I too have ADD tho not to the same extent. I would be thrilled beyond belief if he had a check box like yours and worked as hard as you do to attend to it every day.
I truly have empathy for his experience, but I also feel like I'm all alone in trying to compensate for both of us while he gets a free pass. I can't do it all, and I shouldn't have to. I wish I could talk with him about what he does and how he is without him responding as if it is an attack or criticism, and then shutting down because his ADHD won't let him concentrate on difficult topics. Any ideas for me there, from your own experience of getting diagnosed later in life?
I hope things work out in a good way for both of you. Thanks for sharing your story and struggles. Keep on with that check box, it means a lot!
Thanks for your story. I relate to pretty much every bit of it! If I "task" everything then I'm over scheduled and too ridged and inflexible. If I "wing it" I'm forever forgetting and stuffing up. I feel like I lose both ways. I seem to feel like I spend my life trying to get to a balanced "middle ground" that is forever eluding me.
I agree with sneitzel. Outside help from a third party in order to help not only you, buy more to help you spouse understand you AND give you both tools for your individual needs. As I explore the reasons behind my ADHD and how my brain works, I find it extremely interesting and sometimes get excited about learning how to use my differences to my advantage. Framing this as a new adventure in your marriage could be very beneficial. Anything is possible
Love your perspective too. and your positiveness! Thank you! And thank you for sharing.
Hi, I have been married for almost 26 years and only learned I had ADHD in the last 6-7 years. I don't know where you live, but we attended a marriage intensive counseling session (over a weekend) and it was the most effective , helpful thing we could have done. Look up thecouplesclinic.com. If Chicago isn't an option for you, there are these types of therapists all over the country. This was not typical marriage counseling. It is hands on, actionable, effective methods to re-training how we have learned to respond emotionally. It is not heavy and cumbersome like many methods. Look up Gottman.com also. Dr. Gottman was one of the people who founded/revolutionized couples therapy with a research proven approach. I didn't know if our marriage would survive a few years ago until we went to Chicago. Best thing we could have done. Check into it!
I am to similar Mr hopeful - married 30 yrs, sober at 56 yrs old - diagnosed at 62 adhd now 67 and retired. I thought getting sober was hardest, Now ADHD treatment and the behavioral changes is our main relationship breaker. My wife is hypersensitive to my adhd “miss steps” she has lost trust in me and some days are miserable for each of us.
I Pray, remain grateful, I now know the problem - me with ADHD, keep the focus on myself and work the be a better husband she can trust.