View Full Version : After advice re ADHD husband

04-25-15, 12:20 AM

I am new to the forums and looking for some help and advice for coping with my ADHD husband. As a bit of background he was diagnosed early last year and is medicated with Ritalin. We have 3 young children; 2 are preschoolers. We are both in our 30s and have been together for 15 years. My husband is a successful entrepreneur, and a workaholic (I genuinely view him as being "addicted to work"). I look after the children full time although I also help my husband with his businesses. We both work very hard and are both in a constant state of exhaustion - but I'm hoping that will improve once all the children are past the preschooler age!

The Ritalin has made a miraculous difference to our lives. We saw a counsellor (who supposedly had experience with helping other ADHD clients) in the hopes he could give us some pointers on how to communicate with each other and how my husband could manage his symptoms. I ended those sessions as I felt my husband was being unfairly treated as the "bad guy" which I considered extremely unhelpful, and I felt the guy knew less about ADHD than I did. Any changes we have made in our lives have been largely driven by me but my husband is very open to most suggestions. He isn't keen on seeing another counsellor after our previous experience.

I think we're doing really well (especially compared to life before diagnosis!) but the mornings before the meds have kicked in and the afternoons when it begins to wear off and he needs his "booster" are pretty tricky. Obviously the afternoons are only a problem on the weekends when he is at home (usually working on his laptop!). I don't believe either would be such an issue if we didn't have kids. I find it almost impossible to reason with him during these times and really need some effective methods for getting through them without complete chaos.

In the mornings he has trouble getting out of bed. I get up and get the children sorted, whilst intermittently popping back to the bedroom to remind him to get up. I don't enjoy my role as a human alarm clock! He seems to be lying there kind of "frozen" if that makes sense? Then when he does get up he is like a giant noisy, angry whirlwind. This has improved since I got him into bit of a routine but we generally keep away from him otherwise the children are in tears. I have to keep him on track all morning which creates this weird situation where I feel he's almost like a large 4th child. I don't want this dynamic for obvious reasons, but also because I worry it erodes the respect our children have for him.

And as for the weekend afternoons, he tends to lose his temper easily and we generally end up in the parent/child dynamic where I know I sound like a patronising cow and him a rebellious teenager. Not ideal! The children tend to play up as they haven't seen him all week, which makes matters far worse. There are usually tears and tantrums (from the children that is!).

How do others handle these times? Is there a method that someone has found works well? I completely understand that I need to work on improving the way I speak to him as we both formed a lot of bad habits in the awful pre-diagnosis days. I am consciously working on that. I am also working on improving how the children behave for Daddy on the weekend - I initially thought he should be capable of disciplining them himself without me stepping in but that's had overwhelmingly negative results!

If anyone has made it to the bottom of this post, thank you so much for reading. If you have any advice at all, I would absolutely love to hear it.

Thank you!

04-25-15, 12:54 AM
Hi lunamoth, and welcome to ADDF!

I don't have any "deep" advice to give you, but it sounds as though one thing to discuss with the doctor would be changing the timing of his Ritalin doses.

One thing I've found helpful (as the ADHDer in my household, and really not a morning person) is to have my morning medication dose on my nightstand with a glass of water. Sometimes it can be helpful to set an alarm for a time 30 min - 1 hr earlier than absolutely necessary, take the meds, and hit the "snooze" button. Then when I have to wake up "for real", the meds have started to kick in, and the morning goes a bit more smoothly. I don't always hit the ground running, but chances are better than I'll at least hit the ground walking, at least, instead of dragging my knuckles and grunting incoherently!

As for afternoons, it sounds as though there may be a gap in your husband's medication coverage. If the earlier doses of Ritalin are wearing off well before he is supposed to take the afternoon dose, it might be helpful to move up the afternoon dose and/or consider a longer-acting version of methylphenidate, and/or add a dose somewhere. All considerations to bring up at the next appointment.

Best wishes!

04-25-15, 02:03 AM
Hi Namazu, thank you so much for reading and replying.

I had considered his meds could need tweaking but I'm quite uncertain about what the options are. The psychiatrist we saw didn't give us much information...unfortunately because he is successful there seems to be an assumption that nothing needs "fixing" if you know what I mean, and also bit of an assumption that he's "just a typical male" (not infuriating at all!). I had to really push to get a diagnosis and again to increase his dosage. We probably need to see someone different!!

Currently he takes his meds well after he gets up as he wants them to last as long as possible through his work day, which usually finishes between 10pm -12am(!). We're also working on getting him to bed earlier...and have been for years...

04-25-15, 05:54 AM
his work day, which usually finishes between 10pm -12am

I suspect there's considerably more going on than just ADHD. What is crucial here is whether he is distressed by his situation. If he is attached to his current lifestyle and thinks his children can be bolted on then it's going to be tough to change anything.

Likewise if either of you are attached to a particular view of how a family "should' work then there's likely to be problems. A relationship involving ADHD has to be built from scratch, with no prior concepts about what "should" happen. It's about mutual support and compromise... understanding oneself in order to communicate ones needs clearly, hearing ones partner when they do the same and then being able to use that to build a space unique to yourselves. AS your kids grow they enter this process making it more and more complex.

Many ADDers have an underlying sense of inadequacy and anxiety, a fear that the world will "find them out". It's often compounded in work situations by school experiences of not being able to meet teachers and parental expectations... once out in the real world where the ADDer has more control over their environment this can present as being a workaholic....

there seems to be an assumption that nothing needs "fixing"

Unfortunately too true..... I feel that people who over-emphasise external indicators of "success" to the detriment of intimate relationships often have deep seated anxieties.

This can mean that routes to personal validation that involve control of others as opposed to partnership with others are prioritised.

The meds can alleviate some of the symptoms, however they do nothing about dealing with the decades of living with ADHD. In my view it's this that causes the bulk of the problems in relationships.

As you are aware.... something simple like getting him to go to bed earlier is extremely difficult. This type of thing sometimes takes years to sort out, with significant support from those around the ADDer.... the question of WHY he won't stop working/go to bed is the crux.... and here the meds may be counterproductive as they are stimulants.

From this brief post you get the feeling that ADHD is a complex area, involving both genetic predispositions AND environmental factors.

Luckily neuroscience is showing that we can alter the way we interact with the world through neuroplasticity (altering the neural pathways by learning to think differently).... it's hard work and takes time.


04-25-15, 06:33 AM
Hi Kilted, thank you for your thoughtful reply.

You are very perceptive, and yes absolutely there is something else going on that causes my husband to work all hours. His mother is a narcissist and he is always striving to prove himself to her. Thanks to her he feels a huge inadequacy, and although it's obvious to you and me that he will never live up to her "expectations", if you can call them that, it is sadly something he has to come to understand himself. I have pointed it out and try to reassure him that he is already successful but it's going to take a bit more than that.

It does bother him that he doesn't spend as much time with me and the children. He is trying to delegate at work but he has a lot of difficulty handing over control to others. He also takes on waaay too much work because he has a skewed idea of how long tasks will take and the work involved. He is becoming aware of that, but it's all a slow realisation process isn't it. I suspect that OCD plays a role in it too?

I think both our ideas of family life are a little odd in that we both come from families coping with mental illness. Our normal is a pretty quirky kind of normal! I'm obsessed with everyone being essentially happy and so as long as we get that right I'm not bothered by the rest.

I absolutely agree about the decades of living with undiagnosed ADHD resulting in a lot of coping mechanisms which may or may not be helpful in a relationship! I'm convinced that our lives would be extremely different had he been diagnosed as a child. It makes me extra conscious of helping our children learn to manage their symptoms from the start.

04-25-15, 02:55 PM
When I was running my own businesses I was happiest and most successful when I had a PA type person alongside me. Their job was be a sort of executive "support worker", to prioritise me and keep my feet on the ground regarding scheduling and time management.... this went as far as ensuring I ate.

There aren't many people who can do this kind of work as it's quite personal, and the close relationship between boss and PA can un-nerve others both in the workplace and at home.

ADDers can often have trouble "context switching", this means the boundary between work and home becomes blurred, usually to the detriment of the home. Even though the ADDer is physically present, their mind is still at work, stimulated by and working on finding solutions to problems that are nothing to do with where they actually are.

I'm not sure if this is common.... but I tended to speed up during the day as I got more and more stimulated, so my PA's would try to slow me down towards the end of the working day, ensuring I didn't start things and getting me to "release" from having to do stuff that day that didn't actually have to be done....


04-25-15, 04:14 PM
Kilted you sound a lot like my husband! He does have a PA type person who is actually a relative which initially worked out well. Unfortunately he has taken on so much work that she is now swamped also (although she thankfully still has time to make sure he eats!). They are looking to recruit another admin type this month which should help. She also drove me batty discussing her frustrations with him to the point where it impacted my relationship with her to a degree, but she has made a difference in his workplace and I am grateful for that.

That is actually a great idea with the slowing down. He found that consciously slowing his speech and walking really helped him at work, so it makes perfect sense that slowing down the work itself in the afternoon should help - and be achievable.

Did you find anything that helped with the switch between work and home?

04-26-15, 05:43 AM
Some of this could be related to the timing and frequency of his medication.

04-26-15, 05:58 AM
Thanks for the advice Sarah, I've been seriously considering that since Namazu mentioned it. We are in NZ and only have access to Ritalin and Concerta(?) but the psychiatrist has a strong preference for Ritalin. He is on Ritalin LA 40mg with a 10mg instant release booster in the afternoon. I'm worried that an increase in the booster might affect his sleep? I'm very wary of altering meds but since I posted here I will definitely contact his psychiatrist to see if it's worth trying something different.

04-26-15, 06:46 AM
Another thing to look at is coffee consumption. We're often serious coffee addicts. Taking caffeine and other stimulants confuses the picture when it comes to meds.

There's a happy medium .... the objective is to feel calm and clear. What often happens is that the undiagnosed ADDer uses caffeine and finds the clear place.... then goes beyond that to stimulate themselves in order to achieve targets they set themselves.... or they don't question the reasonableness of externally set targets. This is because we are often continually told in childhood we are underachieving.... and we never develop a good internal sense of what level of activity is optimal for us. We don't learn to tune in to our body... including our body clock.

I had an small espresso machine on my desk when I worked in banking....hardly surprising I was permanently wired!

04-26-15, 07:18 AM
That's funny! My husband had a serious love affair with energy drinks and coke zero. We pretty much removed caffeine from his diet when we first realised he had ADHD although he still has the odd fix. Actually we overhauled our diet completely in the hopes it might help things, it turned out to be a fantastic way to lose baby weight! I'm not as disciplined as he is though which is funny considering he's the impulsive one.