View Full Version : How has diagnosis helped your marriage?

07-05-14, 08:32 PM
We have been together 12 years, and had issues for the last 7, since we had kids. It has recently become worse. We are in couples therapy and it does not seem to be working.
I am quite sure he has ADD, but I wonder if it is worth having a proper diagnosis and treatment. What would change? I feel that nothing would change, and that I would have to be even more tolerant and understanding because he has ADD.

I apologize for my tone but, I am extremely tired and wondering if it is worth doing even more work on this.

We won't divorce in the short term because of the kids and other logistics. I am just looking for a livable way of life, which would include my husband not only being on time, follow through with plans, etc, but also taking care of my feelings, admitting at least some of his shortcomings, and realizing that, if he is a father, needs to be 100% (for example not just to coach the soccer but also follow up on homework, school things, etc).

Thanks for any guidance. I am quite desperate to find a way to survive this marriage.

07-05-14, 09:40 PM
Remember your kids want to see you happy.

I'm not officially diagnosed, I was going to see a neuropsychologist but I'm going to be moving pretty soon so I guess I'll figure this out when I get there.

But for me at least realizing ADHD fit my symptoms gave me an explanation, and I feel like it means I'm not fighting a battle completely blind. And I can say, you know, other people may not need alarms to remind them of things all the time but I do and I don't have to try to be like everyone else. I think those kinds of things can help me figure out how to set myself up to be successful, and try to dispel some of the chaos...which is helpful to the people around me. I think I may also be able to communicate my needs better...

07-06-14, 09:12 AM
A diagnosis can absolutely help your marriage! It will give the person with the disorder treatment options beyond therapy-meds. Medication can drastically help treat adhd and have huge impacts on marriage. Regarding staying married for the kids: kids are not morons and they know when mom or dad are miserable.

07-06-14, 05:36 PM
Thank you for your replies.

You are two people who realised that you have a problem. My husband doesn't even realise that there might be something neurologically wrong with him. He is not totally opposed to testing but he likes to think that I am to blame for the estate of our relationship (I am not perfect, of course).

Can tou tell me when and how you came to realise that you might have ADD or some issue, what was your 'aha moment'?


07-06-14, 09:35 PM
Just came to wish you the best in your marriage. It's tough...

07-06-14, 10:57 PM
Well (also I should say, I'm not married, but my bf and I have been living together for 2 years...)

Anyways, for me, I started having a lot of anxiety and panic attacks in college. So I knew that things were hard for me from that, and I knew I struggled with organization, to the point of ridiculousness really. After a somewhat crazy day a roommate of mine (who has ADHD himself) suggested to me that maybe I have it. At first I was like err wouldn't I have been diagnosed by now? (Early twenties) but we had a whole car ride to talk about it and he happened to have th book Driven to Distraction with him <- I recommend. He read me some stuff from that and that was the beginning of my aha! moments.

Maybe someone with ADHD should talk to your husband :P maybe that's why I took what my roommate said seriously

ana futura
07-06-14, 11:40 PM
I also refused to believe there was anything wrong with me. Everything was always someone else's fault (my partner, my boss, my mom, etc.) My partner tried for years to get me to go to therapy, I refused. She also told me I had ADHD, and I dismissed her.

As I got older things got more and more out of control. I guess I hit bottom, I started getting panic attacks and just really letting things go. Things had to get very bad in order for me to accept how dysfunctional I was, because dysfunctional was all I had ever known. Finally I admitted I needed outside help, and I was diagnosed pretty quickly after starting treatment with my second therapist (I fired the first after a month or two)

I doubt I ever would have figured it out on my own. And the only reason I ever gave in and saw a therapist was because my partner had been in therapy for a very long time, and it seemed to really help her. There's no way I would have gone if I hadn't seen first hand how it benefited her. And if that second therapist hadn't diagnosed me, I would have fired him after a couple months and probably sworn off the whole thing as a waste of time.

So eh, I dunno how you can get your husband to go see a professional. Follow by example is all I can say. I won't do something anyone tells me to do unless it seem like they're "sharing" something with me. That's how my partner presented therapy to me, that's why it worked. She was sharing something with me that had worked for her.

Also my partner had been on psychiatric meds (including stimulants) for a bit before we met. Again, without that history, I don't think I would ever have tried medication.

If I were you, I wouldn't do couple's therapy. I think you both should do individual therapy, and preferably something like ACT, with someone who really knows ADHD.

MADD As A Hatte
07-07-14, 02:11 AM
This is an awful stage of things in a marriage. I remember it all too well.

My a-ha moment came shortly after my children were diagnosed. Whilst waiting in reception for one of their appointments, I was reading the chapter in an ADHD book which talked about the hereditary nature of the disorder. Oh, right. So, they must have got it from their dyslexic father. Except the book said, no, it's not dyslexia, it's different. Which left only one person. Um. Me. So I went in for my assessment and bingo! Suddenly all the dots joined up.

My children's father was entirely resistant to the whole ADD thing, he still is. Because he thinks he knows better than me about absolutely everything, I had to be very strategic in how to get him to even speak to the developmental paediatrician. I'd rather have been up front with him, but on advice from the treating professional, I acted as though I didn't know who the children had inherited it from. What I observed is how professionals in the ADHD field are more than capable of dealing with resistant ADD types!

So, what I'm suggesting is, is that YOU might need to be a little bit strategic in how you achieve your goal. As a suggestion, perhaps you could observe your children's behaviour, and if for any reason at all you think one or either of them might be showing ADD behaviours, use that as an excuse to take ALL of you off to be assessed. Mum, Dad, and the child/ren concerned. If it's a team effort, your husband might feel less threatened, less blamed, and as a result, more inclined to undergo an assessment.

I would act as though you think it might be YOU who's got ADHD, but that you both need to be assessed, just to be sure. It doesn't matter, at the end of the day the point is to get your husband in for an assessment. Then act completely surprised when it turns out to be him!! At that point, assuming all goes to plan, you can progress from there. (You might be thinking "Oh gawd, all those medical appointments, that'll be so expensive." But it's cheaper than divorce, by a long shot!)

As an aside, my experience of couples therapy is that it doesn't work if it's not focusing on the actual problem (whether that's money, or personal interactions, or a mental disorder, or whatever).

By and large, adults with undiagnosed ADD eventually run out of coping strategies, like the kettle starts to boil dry. Children, by their very nature, introduce more emotional pressure into a person's life, more stress, more directions in which one is pulled. It's hard enough to cope with all that if you don't have ADD. But if you DO have ADD it becomes an increasingly difficult and extremely exhausting daily struggle.

All the best, I hope it all works out for you.

07-07-14, 11:37 AM
Loracave, it sounds like your husband really needs to get some help and see the way his actions and behaviors are negatively affecting you and your family. Not an easy thing to bring about.

I was resistant to the idea that something was wrong as well, I just thought that I had too much pressure on me and that was causing everything to spin out of control. Anxiety and sleep problems drove me to see a therapist, but only after years of prodding and threats from my SO. I just took it that she couldn't accept me for who I was and wanted to change me. I desperately wish I hadn't been so obstinate.

What changes?

Hmm, I still exhibit a lot of ADD traits, but I can recognize them for what they are and try to minimize the problems they cause. I have been able to accept the effects that ADD has had on my life so that I stop blaming other people/things, (ie, it is not just that I have too much pressure on me). I'm still at the stage where I am blaming ADD for a lot of my problems, but slowly I'm taking responsibility for that and not leaning on the crutch so to speak.

In short, I'm trying to become a better person again, one who has some flaws that I can't hide anymore. It is a tough stage to be in, because I can't change the past and it seems that everything needs to be renegotiated. And I'm still in the thick of the mess I've made. My relationship is still rocky, and may not last, so I can't say that diagnosis and treatment will save your marriage, but it will definitely help. Even if a split is inevitable, it will make the process and end result better.

I'm sorry that you are experiencing this, but it sounds like you are a caring person doing the best you can.

07-07-14, 03:47 PM

Couple's counseling in a situation like yours isn't necessarily very helpful. Therapy for you might be a better option.

Here's why: couples counselors don't look at themselves as referees. They aren't about telling one partner, "You're not doing your part." It's very easy for a person in your position to expect and want the counselor to take your side and to confront your husband and tell him all the ways he needs to improve.

Couple's counselors tend to look at the two partners as a "couple." So even though a person in your position might feel like the partner isn't doing their part, the couple's counselor tends to think, Well you married this person. Clearly there was a reason for that. You've put up with their behavior until now. So you must be getting something from the relationship and even from the "flaws" that are now driving you crazy.

An individual counselor working with you would explore more in depth how you can change your behavior in a way that is more likely to leave you happy--even if he doesn't change. An individual counselor would also explore how it is that you didn't recognize how low functioning he was for such a long time and why you put up with his low functioning until now. Note, the previous sentences might sound judgmental, but they are not. I myself (fora variety of reasons) gravitated towards very low-functioning people in relationships--and then later in the relationship I would get mad at them--heck I would feel betrayed by them--for the fact that they were low functioning! Working on that issue was the work of individual counseling for me.

Your husband getting a diagnosis could help a lot ... It could help him do fewer things that you dislike and more of the things that you want and like ... With luck, treatment could improve his functioning and his esteem. But working on yourself would also be good, and you would see more options--both in and out of the relationship. You are going to want to learn how to set good and clear boundaries and expectations, so you don't become enmeshed with his condition and yet you remain helpful and supportive as a partner.

Good luck.


07-07-14, 05:16 PM

Sympathy to you for the difficulties. I agree with the idea that counseling for you both separately might be most helpful for everyone now. I wish I could write you an inspiring, upbeat report about how my difficult life and relationship were illuminated and transformed by my partner's diagnosis. But I'm having a bad week and can't quite put it together that way. Even so, however, I do think it can be highly valuable to get the evaluation and find out what your husband is dealing with.

And I will tell you that I could not possibly be in this relationship now if we didn't know the truth about my partner's ADHD, and if he weren't in treatment for it. He was 50+ when we found out about it, and it came on the back end of a period of spectacular life crisis for him. So the diagnosis was part of his general rebuilding and healing. It was incredibly empowering for him to learn that there was a reason for stuff that had plagued him all his life, and that he was not alone.

It was incredibly empowering to me to find out that I wasn't crazy, and that things really were not right with him in many ways. There is no magic wand waving involved in getting an adult diagnosis of ADHD, but it certainly has made it possible for my partner to do important things he never could before. Lots of hard work, lots of struggle and imperfection are also involved, sure--but for the first time, he has hope, possibility, and sure ground to stand upon.

He finds his stimulant medication life-changing and vital. He said he finally got to feel like himself when he began to take it. He is so much more often his best self with its help than he ever could be without it. Most important of all for him is attending a group therapy session weekly for adults with ADHD. Being with others who share his difficulties is the thing that helps him best to understand and change and grow.

I can't tell you what would change if your husband were diagnosed, but one possibility is that he'd get therapy or medication and you can NOT imagine the difference those things can make until you experience it. I used to fear and hate Big Pharma, but now I say a silent payer of thanks at Thanksgiving dinner each year, acknowledging the great gift that the invention of my partner's medication (Vyvanse) is to the world.

I think that your fear (which I do understand) that you'd just have to make more accommodations for him if he were diagnosed is only a fear, not a likely outcome. You would have to accept that some things you expect from him are impossible or difficult, sure--but you both could learn more about how to work around those things, and maybe you could be allies on the same side, dealing with the disability. I think it's more likely to offer strength and help and security to the non-ADHD partner than it is to burden her or him.

ALso, if you see a therapist just for you, then you will have the perfect safe place to explore your feelings about all this, whether of love, fear, resentment, exhaustion, desperation or whatever. If possible, find a therapist (for you) who is knowledgable about ADHD--it will make a difference. It's important to have space for thinking baout your feelings and support in your situation because one of the hard things about ADHD is that it really does, often, make people perform badly as regards the expectations you said you have for your husband.

Even if they try, they may not be able to do stuff we feel is necessary, reasonable and obvious. But in a tough situation like that, knowledge is power, so having a diagnosis and getting educated is really going to help everyone. And treatment for the ADHD (whether by medication of not) is another valuable tool to employ in getting a better life for your family. But getting support and clarity and insight for you through therapy may be another tool that helps everyone in your story--it worked that way for me, anyway.

There is a ton of wisdom available here at the Forums--in a way, reading and learning and discussing here has been an important part of my own therapy. I hope you are getting responses that help you--and that you'll keep posting and let us know what happens and how you are doing.

big sympathy--

07-07-14, 05:53 PM
Thank you again to all of you. I think your stored are trull admirable, and they do offer some hope.
It is true that I fear that diagnosis will mean that I will just have to be more accommodating, because I really feel I can't and should not do any more. But, for what you are telling me, diagnosis can offer me some support, it is not just about helping him.

For work and family reasons, we are spending some weeks apart, and it is giving me some time to think, without having to deal with the daily disappointments and struggles. I hate feeling disappointed every day, even though I prepare myself for it and I know it is going to happen, it still hurts (does it mean I still love him, or just that I want to love him? This is a more complicated topic), and often does not let me focus and see that there is a pattern.

So, when we are back together, end of August, need to look into diagnosis etc. Can anybody recommend somebody in the DC area, preferably NoVa?
Also, do you know of any support groups there?

Thanks, you are all stars. This forum is brilliant.

07-08-14, 04:33 AM
Can tou tell me when and how you came to realise that you might have ADD or some issue, what was your 'aha moment'?


I was diagnosed as a child before there was knowledge (at least around me) of ADHD. I think the psychologist called it an "attention disorder" my mother didnt know about meds so I just suffered through childhood and young adulthood. I began treatment for it 11 years ago. My husband is ADHD -PI and at my urging, he saw a psychologist 16 years ago and began treatment with ritalin. This worked for awhile but what became more of an issue was his narcolepsy. He didnt begin treatment for that until 12 years ago. Now for him, the narcolepsy was more of a concern and safety hazard then the adhd so he takes provigil which happens to treat both. Neither of the two are perfectly controlled but our collective knowledge and acceptance of each other have made it easier for us to develop strategies for dealing with each other and our life.

07-27-14, 05:53 AM
I think it could be beneficial just for your own peice of mind to find out if your other half has ADHD. If (I don't wish that to happen to you) everything in your marraige did go down the pan - at least you would know why. It might help you stop thinking you were a bad wife etc.

My A-ha moment came from my now wife. For 29 years of my life I thought there was nothing wrong with me. I thought I was fine, a few people when I was in the army had commented on my behaviour and more to do with my bad memory, being taught something 10 times, or told something 3 mins before and then forgetting everything.
When we were dating my mate brought his 6 month old daughter over - my wife loved to play with her. Then a few months later we split up, we were chatting and she said due to my behaviour and being jealous of others getting attention from her when I didn't she thought I had ADHD.

07-27-14, 09:32 AM
My situation is different. I expect I have ADHD but my wife doesn't want to know about it. Doesn't want labels etc, but our relationship is slowly but surely going down the drain. I have started the diagnosis process, not so much for me, but so there is a history later when the children need to get help. I can't see the marriage continuing too much longer because if she can't accept I have ADHD, she has rejected me already and doesn't realise yet. Her personality is abrasive frequently. She seems to like to argue. I hate conflict and she stresses me out then I get angry and everything falls apart, so she argues more and I'm like WTF?
We moved away from the city for a seachange, it's nice here but.....
In the city she was always too busy, always taking on more and this of course spilled over to me. It got really bad. When we moved it was like a new start and was good for a while, then she started taking on more and more, all of a sudden we were right back there. FFS, I can't live this way forever. Now I have started getting small bouts of depression from it. It will get harder and harder. She refuses to look at my point of view, she knows best....
Well, when I get too fed up I will leave, it will be the only way to preserve my own self. If she will not listen, what can I do? Cycling between feeling a failure, getting angry, sad and then up again is tiring me out. I want a simpler and less stressful life so I can function again, but she will never do that. My life is one of scattered thoughts, pulled in too many directions and left confused and not knowing which way is up.

I'm waiting to see if I get diagnosed and if meds or strategy help things, but I won't hold my breath.

07-27-14, 02:52 PM
Sorry to hear that things are so stressful at home.

Going through diagnosis sounds worth it, for you getting certainty, for yourself. I hope you have professional evaluators who are good at the evaluation. So you can come out of it with certainty.

Go for finding out who you are. That'll help you make decisions.