Ask Andrew – I’ve adult ADHD and it’s ruining my marriage
Recently my husband asked my a trial separation, even though I fought him on it, I complied. This has been hard on me when he has said I was a rebound or ‘I love you like a good friend’. We’ve had a problem of communicating lately. He is in the army and really stressed. This last week, I have been diagnosed with ADHD. He said he has a lot to process but at the same time I feel he is distant. I am seeking therapy and meds. I feel like he needs therapy but he won’t .. Lately I am reading self help books and working on behaviors that annoy him. I am really trying to change for the better. I wish he would be more interested in finding about it. But he’s. Guy right? I just hate this uncertainty and not knowing what he’s up to. I’m in va with my kid and even though he is working he is living had life of a single guy again … He claims his work keeps him very busy. Which it does, but I have a hard time believing everything he says because he’s hurt me and I have said some things to. He also got really upset at me going on match.com, even though I never talked to anyone. But it upset him deeply. I only did it because I was upset and he asked for a separation and I wanted to know what was out there. Ugh I hate this.. I just want us to be together to work on our marriage. I am only one state away and I have 3 weeks left before I go home. Oh and we will have been married 11 years this nov. I don’t want it to end. Plus we have a 6yr old.
Let’s start with the good news. You’ve had a diagnosis of ADHD and that’s helped you to make sense of some of your unhelpful reaction and a platform for changing. For people who are not aware of ADHD, it is about having trouble moderating emotions. So you can over react about what to do another people are small things. For example, I know asking for a trial separation is not a small thing but signing up for a dating website is a BIG BIG reaction. At the other end of the scale, adults with ADHD will not notice important events. They also have problems with self control which makes it harder to develop the good habits that are necessary for a good relationship. It’s not so much that they can’t concentrate but only if something really holds their interest. The result can be procrastination or immature reactions. For a lot of people, ADHD is linked with depression and anxiety.
So for someone with ADHD, not knowing the future and worrying what your husband might be up to is extremely challenging. However, there are two ways of dealing with this. Firstly, trying to control the situation to reduce your anxiety (which is probably how you got into this mess in the first place) and living with the anxiety (and discovering that it is not so threatening after all). If you are looking for therapy, I would look into mindfulness, yoga and simple meditation. They will all help with anxiety.
I know he’s told you that ‘I love you like a friend’ and ‘it was on the rebound’ but men sometimes need to test out their thoughts, rather than let them ping round their heads, at least once they’ve been said, they can be tested in the real world. So don’t see these words in isolation and forgot all the loving things he’s also said.
The key to turning round your relationship is improving your communication. So please read Resolve your Differences and in particular look at assertiveness. I have a whole chapter on the subject. I would also like you to work on your self esteem and suggest Learn to Love Yourself Enough for that.
When you’re feeling stressed, tell yourself. I cannot control my husband but my panic will push him away. Never contact him when you’re feeling stressed. Wait until the next day. Slowly, he will begin to notice a difference and be more open to spending time together. Don’t expect too much too soon but you have a son together and that is a great foundation for saving this relationship. I think your diagnosis could also be a turning point for how you feel about yourself, help build your confidence and turn round your life. So a lot to be anxious about but a lot to be hopeful about too.