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Old 06-12-18, 05:18 PM
emmastar emmastar is offline
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on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

my husband and i have been married for 15 years, and we have 3 young children together. He is one of the smartest men i know and has been very successful professionally as an attorney. we had a fantastic courtship, a beautiful wedding, amazing honeymoon, and the first years of our marriage were great - we travelled, went out on dates, had tons of friends, focused on our growing careers, etc. i always knew he was easily distracted, but i interpreted that as him being a man with lots of interests and a lot of curiosity - he reads a ton, and is also a semi-professional musician who plays local gigs pretty regularly.

when we started a family things became more challenging. his distractibility made things harder and with me returning to work, we fought a lot. We did work through things and were able to still be 'happy,' but there was a lot of resentment. while we had help around the house and with the kid(s), i was still doing the majority of the work and emotional labor of 'running our family.' whenever i would ask for help or suggest that he do something differently, it would be met with defensiveness and anger and ultimately resulted in me just doing most things related to our family (pay bills, childcare, groceries, housework, home repairs, etc.) on my own.

As you can imagine, after almost 10 years of this, my level of resentment has built up significantly (we now have 3 kids 9,7 and 2 and i also work full time, and try to have a life outside of kids and work). we have seen FOUR different marriage therapists (spent thousands of dollars!) and are currently separated. our current therapist, diagnosed my husband with ADHD this morning and based on some initial reading i have done, i think she is spot on.

The good news is that he was open to the diagnosis, and to exploring medication. (this gave me some hope), but the skeptic in me is worried that this will now be his crutch and his excuse for any bad behavior moving forward. i also feel like the diagnosis is helpful, but it is also just a pivot in our story and a point when the work really starts - or at least changes direction....

he says that he is happier now that we are living separately because he doesn't constatnly feel judged and criticized (he says that living with me is like living in Stalinist Russia!). I am also calmer and less anxious withoug him too. i am used to having all the responsibility in the house with the kids, so in many ways the past couple months haven't been that different. i just dont have a fourth kid to manage and fight with.


we definitely love eachother. we both can easliy recall how and why we fell in love. but a lot of time has passed since our 'good years' and there has been a lot of hurt. Plus we have three young kids who mean the world to both of us. (he adores them, but he is anxious and agitated around them too which causes tension everywhere). I know our kids will be fine if we divorce because they are loved, but i know that they will do better if we can work out our differences.

also i know that ADHD medication isnt a cure-all and we will continue to work on our marriage - probably forever. i would love to hear perspectives from people who have been in marriages that have (or have not) been able to recover/significantly improve after a diagnosis. thank you in advance for your stories.
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Old 06-12-18, 06:42 PM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

For me it was in the middle of a career melt down and my marriage on the skids (yes, my husband and I are both adhd) I re-read a book by Stephen Covey. Principals of Highly effective people. I was looking to get my life back on track...with or without him. I read one of Stephen's stories.

Friend of his tells him he's divorcing his wife.
Stephen asks why?
Friend says, "because I don't love her."
Stephen says, ok, then love her.
Friend says, but I'm not in love with her anymore.
Stephen says, then love her. We have made love a noun. Love is an action verb. If you loved her once you can give love to her again. There is pain, there is hurt on both sides. If you let go and give love again, you may find happiness.

So that's what I did. I gave love again. We still fight, we still struggle but I chose to love the man that I married and will work towards loving him more everyday. Under it all, he's the guy I fell in love with in the beginning. For me it has worked for the past 9 years of a 30 year marriage. I also stopped trying to change him. He's never going to be someone he's not. Meds may help but they don't make them someone else. There will be no "poof" he does it all and I don't have to struggle. When you work towards identifying what he can do and what you can do and you make peace with that...for me it just works. Once again I still get frustrated and there are times I want to smush his face...but I cannot fight or blame for something that I want and he doesn't. Sometimes you have to change your expectations instead of wasting energies changing the person. If you have hope...there's hope.
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Old 06-13-18, 03:40 AM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

Emma- I feel like maybe you arent doing harm to your kids by living this way but also that you wont know how much harm you are doing until they are older. What kind of relationship do you have now? Cordial? He has told you he feels much better living alone- who wants a partner like that? He is telling you that he would rather in a home without his kids..and that is never cool with me. What about your happiness? What if you are meant to find someone who loves and cherishes you but you cant because you are still tied to your husband? Is this the way you want things to continue?
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Old 06-13-18, 10:12 AM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

Thanks for your replies. I am very wary of having too much hope at this point but obviously want to give my marriage every chance of recovering. Give that my husband is pretty eager to begin adhd treatment, gives me some optimism. But I want to really understand what I can expect - how different will he potentially be with treatment than he is without? What impact will this have on his anger management issues? Maybe even with treatment, it may be just too little too late for us, but perhaps it will give him better tools or a better platform to be a better father for my kids and co parent for me? Iím just trying to be realistic.
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Old 06-13-18, 04:21 PM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

How much he changes is partly dependent on how open he is about treatment and how aggressively he pursues treatment and growth.

There's a continuum ... where someone shows up for a medical check ... takes a med ... doesn't do any real work outside taking the med ... vs. someone who goes to therapy on his own ... takes a med and reports back honestly about the effect of the med, pressing the psychiatrist for a more effective regimen, etc.

Ideally, he is the one who would tell YOU that ADHD has gotten in the way of his relationship with you ... I think that's the scenario most likely to produce a better relationship. He has to own up to the ADHD and the effect it has had on the relationship ... Also ... people with ADHD have more going on than just ADHD ... He might just be self-centered ... ADHD or no ADHD .... So ADHD treatment might help some issues ... but won't necessarily make him understand your burdens better.

Did you go to individual counseling for yourself?
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Old 06-14-18, 02:21 PM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

That totally makes sense. And I guess that I wonít know how seriousl he is about treatment until it begins. I appreciate that he was open to it. I am also getting therapy for myself. This is the most stressful experience I have ever gone through and while I want to really focus on what I want and whatís best for me, I have three young kids who I need to focus on. I know that I need to Ďput my oxygen mask on forstí But I cannot be happy if I know that they are suffering.

I need to refocus my therapy on my needs and a sustainable solution. The way I see it, there are so many different stakeholders - not to make this overly business-focused. Me, him, each kid individually and as a group, me and my husband as a couple and then all of us as a family. I feel like I am the only one who is looking out for the interests of each of them.
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Old 06-15-18, 07:15 PM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

I asked about individual therapy precisely because in this situation, you need to be functioning at your best with the greatest amount of support.

You don't have to publicly announce this to him, but it seems clear that you and the three kids are the priority ... He's an adult ... and has to attend to himself ... right? ... And if he's not participating and doing his part to take care of himself or contribute to the relationship, then nothing you can do that will save the "couple" relationship or save him.

The idea you can save him is a fantasy you can't afford right now. Or am I missing something? Is the primary breadwinner?
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Old 06-16-18, 09:33 AM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

One of the important things about ADHD relationships is that you build them from scratch, throw out all pre-conceived ideas about how a marriage "should" look and work out what works for each of you. This may mean being quite unconventional, everything is a choice you make with your partner.

It is definitely a good idea for you to get personal therapy of your own, because, it will help you work through what is important for you and what you can release. There are a whole lot of musts & should's that we try to live to that are maybe not as important as we were told they were.

Living with ADHD means both of you examining every one of these closely and seeing where the overlaps are..... this takes a while. Don't expect things to change quickly, even if he (and you) want them to..... take time.

Remember a relationship takes two.....if you want this new relationship to blossom it is as much your responsibility to change as it is his.

A relationship is reinvented every moment of the day, every moment is new, every moment is a choice whether we hold on to past or project into the future.... or whether we live in the relationship as it is right now....
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Old 06-16-18, 10:48 AM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

ADHD meds work very quickly if they work at all for your husband so you should be able to see if there is improvement soon.

I say if they don't work, does he go to individual therapy? Cause your description of him and his anger management issues makes me think he'll need it regardless of meds.

Also, my brother-in-law has anger management issues. Sister said what worked best wasn't actually therapy. It was anger management groups (groups similar to alcoholics anonymous except for people with anger control issues) so I suggest you show him those types of support groups and see if he wants to go. That said, brother-in-law is still pretty awful though that helped the most. I think a big part of the problem is deep inside, he didn't really want to go. Actually, not so deep inside. He griped about going the whole time.

I see that you're posting here and not your husband. I find communities like these to be extremely helpful. I recommend showing him a forum as well. If you wanted to show him this particular forum, you could always ask the moderators to delete this post I think if you didn't want him to see it (though don't quote me). This forum is a really good one to me. It's small enough to be personal and to actually know a little of some of the people here. Versus some communities that are so large, you never develop any connections to anyone.
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Old 06-16-18, 11:04 AM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

I would only add that while some people respond quickly to meds, others can take some time to find the right dose. Also, as has already been said and hinted at, he must be willing to take the daily steps needed change his habits. Meds are all good an well, but if someone doesn't see a problem with their ADHD influenced habits, the meds will just give them the focus to continue those habits.


For example, I noticed when first going on meds that I enjoyed procrastinating at first. The meds were reinforcing my procrastination habits (built up over 46 years). It wasn't until I consciously decided to change those habits and get focused on a more productive life that the meds offered me any real change.
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Old 06-16-18, 01:24 PM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

Question for you if you don't mind. Who's taking care of the bills for him now that you guys are separated (i.e. his rent, credit card, etc.)? Maybe you should give him a taste of what a true divorce would feel like if you are still taking care of those things for him. Though definitely check in on his credit card bills or stuff that can ruin your credit to make sure he actually did take care of it.


Spin it positively to him though If he can take care his own finances then use that as encouragement for him being able to help out with the bills for your whole family.

Overall, I agree with others, if he is truly open to trying new things to see if he can improve (and that involves a lot more than just meds), then I'd have hope though I'd still give it a time limit.
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Old Today, 04:39 AM
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

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Originally Posted by emmastar View Post
Thanks for your replies. I am very wary of having too much hope at this point but obviously want to give my marriage every chance of recovering. Give that my husband is pretty eager to begin adhd treatment, gives me some optimism. But I want to really understand what I can expect - how different will he potentially be with treatment than he is without? What impact will this have on his anger management issues? Maybe even with treatment, it may be just too little too late for us, but perhaps it will give him better tools or a better platform to be a better father for my kids and co parent for me? Iím just trying to be realistic.
Well, assuming adhd is his only issue and he responds well to meds it could be as dramatic as going from having outbursts, anger, and absolutely no productiveness-to- being super productive at first then consistently productive but not perfectly. But I do not think adhd is his only issue- in fact Id go so far as to say its not his primary issue. But with therapy and self help you might get the anger under control enough to where he can work on the adhd. If he stays on meds that work, he may tune in better to his kids, be more relateable, emotionally available, organized and consistent.
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Re: on the brink of divorce - husband was just diagnosed with ADHD - is there hope?

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Originally Posted by emmastar View Post
my husband and i have been married for 15 years, and we have 3 young children together. He is one of the smartest men i know and has been very successful professionally as an attorney. we had a fantastic courtship, a beautiful wedding, amazing honeymoon, and the first years of our marriage were great - we travelled, went out on dates, had tons of friends, focused on our growing careers, etc. i always knew he was easily distracted, but i interpreted that as him being a man with lots of interests and a lot of curiosity - he reads a ton, and is also a semi-professional musician who plays local gigs pretty regularly.

when we started a family things became more challenging. his distractibility made things harder and with me returning to work, we fought a lot. We did work through things and were able to still be 'happy,' but there was a lot of resentment. while we had help around the house and with the kid(s), i was still doing the majority of the work and emotional labor of 'running our family.' whenever i would ask for help or suggest that he do something differently, it would be met with defensiveness and anger and ultimately resulted in me just doing most things related to our family (pay bills, childcare, groceries, housework, home repairs, etc.) on my own.

As you can imagine, after almost 10 years of this, my level of resentment has built up significantly (we now have 3 kids 9,7 and 2 and i also work full time, and try to have a life outside of kids and work). we have seen FOUR different marriage therapists (spent thousands of dollars!) and are currently separated. our current therapist, diagnosed my husband with ADHD this morning and based on some initial reading i have done, i think she is spot on.

The good news is that he was open to the diagnosis, and to exploring medication. (this gave me some hope), but the skeptic in me is worried that this will now be his crutch and his excuse for any bad behavior moving forward. i also feel like the diagnosis is helpful, but it is also just a pivot in our story and a point when the work really starts - or at least changes direction....

he says that he is happier now that we are living separately because he doesn't constatnly feel judged and criticized (he says that living with me is like living in Stalinist Russia!). I am also calmer and less anxious withoug him too. i am used to having all the responsibility in the house with the kids, so in many ways the past couple months haven't been that different. i just dont have a fourth kid to manage and fight with.


we definitely love eachother. we both can easliy recall how and why we fell in love. but a lot of time has passed since our 'good years' and there has been a lot of hurt. Plus we have three young kids who mean the world to both of us. (he adores them, but he is anxious and agitated around them too which causes tension everywhere). I know our kids will be fine if we divorce because they are loved, but i know that they will do better if we can work out our differences.

also i know that ADHD medication isnt a cure-all and we will continue to work on our marriage - probably forever. i would love to hear perspectives from people who have been in marriages that have (or have not) been able to recover/significantly improve after a diagnosis. thank you in advance for your stories.



As someone who is on the other end of a divorce (which I regret, and still grieve for to some extent), and who is living with an ADHD housemate who is much tidier than me (which I admire but cannot replicate), I guess the noe phrase that really stands out is "bad behaviour".

It is really important to understand that the ADHD behaviours are not willed misbehaviour- that they represent the best we can do.

Now there are things we can do to minimise them- but not by directly willing them to change. If that were possible we would already have done them. Im sure you love your husband enough to reflect on his good qualities.

Additionally- I am picking up that ADHD worsens with age (and I suspect that that may have something to do with eyesight, and also lack of exercise- but that is too much for now.

To give an exaple of the sort of thing I am talking about- my partner has a tendency to become very directive, in response to my vagueness. She is very organised and knows where everything is, whereas I tend to just step around things that do not relate to my mission of the moment and not even notice that they are there (sometimes this goes on for months before i spot a new addition.
Im very intellectual and can pursue something for months, usually without forgetting what I am doing.

However in the moment my inattentiveness can be insane-- repeatedly walking in to a room then forgetting why I got there, attempting to do things like put a saucepan in the fridge and the milk in the saucepan company. Losing keys, forgetting shopping lists.

The point is that I may get up to do something when I am working at the computer (currently looking at the role of the anterior cingulate gyrus in attention modulation in chronic pain- so Im not stupid), and say go into the kitchen,-- but I may struggle to keep track of where I was going with the research stuff, and if I then have my attention shifted by an interruption-- there is a very good chance I will stuff up all 3 tasks.

Now the situation gets radically worse if you have the residue of developmental coordination disorder (as do at least 1/2 of us) because it impairs your spatial perception and you cant remember where things are just by visualising as easily as others do.

The bottom line is a lot of nagging or reminding just gives us more to attend to- especially if it intrudes on doing a task. Remember that he has an impairment in attention- dont load it more.

He probably feels bad about letting you down, I certainly feel that in regard to my close relationships in the same circumstances.

Any ADHD person will actually be very aware of their shortcomings. Even those who pretend to bury their head in the sand- we are too disorganised to exclude things like this from our consciousness. (Pathetic isn't it?)

So here is the catch- it is not reasonable for a large bulk of the work to land on your lap because he has a (hopefully temporary) disability. that's not going to work for anyone.

This sort of thing needs to be worked through carefully and in a structured way, and if you seek outside help, find someone who is ADHD aware - because otherwise they will see the behaviour as simple passive aggression- which it is not.


The way I tend to look at it for myself is to focus on what my pattern of alertness and focus is and start with that structure.

Then what times is it worse? Late afternoon/evening is a slump time for many of us- especially if desk bound.

How much rest/refresh time do I need to get over that? (and I mean time to get a snack, exercise for a short while and freshen up-- not collapse in front of the TV or worse- hit the video games).

What is the list of things that need doing that I can do that will work best with by attention pattern? Do I need help with a list or a LIMITED number of prompts?

Given that you have been together and have kids-- are you doing too much? Most parents are run ragged taking their kids to one engagement or another. that's not good for anybody.

In the end you both need some time to refresh and keep functioning or you will break down and get sick. That has happened to me- I have been off work for 4 and 1/2 of the last 5 years. (Thankfully covered by income protection).


The important things though are that it is not voluntary bad behaviour, we are all hypersensitive after a lifetime of criticism, and we all have to work out how to avoid counterproductive interventions for the problem.

Im sure if you appeal to his sense of fairness he will be open to reassessing the work balance- then it is just a matter of

1) Working around his worst deficits
2) Being aware that a 100% clean, as you would do when doing housework, is probably not going to happen with an ADHD partner, and working out when you can accept good enough. These things can and do improve- but you have to establish a baseline so the task gets done.
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