How to Deal with a Spouse with ADHD

Updated on November 13, 2009
S.R. asks from Perryopolis, PA
19 answers

My huband has ADHD (as does my daughter). He has unrational anger. He thinks everyone is out to get him. No matter what I say I am yelling at him. He puts me down and when I tell him that his words hurt he looks at me like, "what did I do". Communication is none exsistant. I don't think, in 9 years of marriage, that we ever had a true converstation.

He can never stay home. If I am gone and come home with the kids, he leaves or locks himself in the bedroom. I can't help but think he can't stand us. The only time he wants anything to do with me is when he wants "something".

He is very selfish. I would do anything and give up everything for my kids, but he does not think that way. When thing erupt he says I'll try, but 2 days later things are back the same way.

I am responsible for everything. All the descision, the kids, the house, the bills....everything. It's like having 3 kids. I just feel like I deseve better. I did'nt sign up for this. No, I did not know he had ADHD when I married him. We traced it back to him when we found out my daughter had it. Things got worse after kids, financial problems and job lay off.

My mother seems to think I should kick him to the curb because he is fusterating me making things worse for my kids.

While I would not dismiss the fact that something else may be causing problems, becuase people with ADHD are 6 times more likely to have other psychiatric disorders, I do think most has to do with ADHD.

The none exsistant converstaions is due to a lack of concentration or "zoning out". Hyperactivity symptoms play a part in him not wanting to be around or bing bored, irritated and mood swings. Impulsivity symptoms make him blurt out hurtful things. Relationships are hurt with ADHD because the ADHD'er never seems to listen, says hurtful things and leaves his/her partner with the bulk of the work.

Just looking for someone in the same situation. Did you call it quits or suck it up and keep going?

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So What Happened?

I now realize that some things are not a part of his ADHD...Such as his selfishness. That I would blame on his mother. I would not be suprised to find out that he has another psycological disorder. I have no clue what I am going to do, but whatever it is it will be the best for me and the kids.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I hate to say this, but this does not sound like ADHD to me. Has he been evaluated by a mental health professional? If you can't get him to go, you need to seek guidance from a counselor. I think there is something else going on here. I have a seriously mentally ill parent who is now no longer doing similar things due to being treated.



answers from Lancaster on

I think I would try to get him on some kind of medication to regulate his moods/behavior. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

My husband has ADHD as well. It is very hard. We have a 10 month old and it feels as tho I am raising 2 kids. He has very little to do with our son and also...everything I say "YELLING" lol but he has a better word if ya know what i mean.. he also can never stay home..we always have to go somewhere ..being home is boring...and he comes first not us...if he wants something i usually give in so i dont have to listen to him wine...i also am responsible for everything i am a stay at home mom ...he does have a job and works hard but thats all. nothing at home gets taken care by him. i have slowly started to figure out how to get him to do things...he is starting to mow the yard....i had to teach him how b/c his mother never tought him anything....i kind of minipulate him i guess you could say...he likes to go places and spend money so if he wants those things he has to help a kid kind do this and ill reward you. i also keep him on a budget...when he wants to spend more than the budget i pull out the bills and show him everything just to overwhelm him from spending. im kind of going on an on....sorry let me know if this helps



answers from Allentown on


Hopefully your spouse is on medication. If so maybe look into a therapist for him. I know when my son was diagnosed and needed medication he also needed therapy to cope with all of the new things his brain had been missing before. It helped him cope better. I am not having the same issues with my spouse but would approach the 2 family members the same way to start until you can figure out if anything additional is needed for your husband.

There are also alot of other issues that can get masked by ADHD so I strongly recommend finding your husband a really good therapist to work through the issues.

Good Luck! I am keeping you in my prayers.

M. R


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi S., My friend has a 30yr old son with ADHD. He also has a son and lives with his girl-friend (she won't marry him). There is tons of help available starting with your family doctor...for him and for you. There are meds that can help, counseling, etc. But he has to want to do something about it. My friend's son was diagnosed at 16 and he has used it as an excuse for everything from dropping out of high school to never having a steady job. Depression is a major factor as well. At some point you will have to make a decision...if he will not seek help. You can't subject yourself or your children to living with all the termoil forever. But that is a decision you have to make on your own whenever you reach your limits. Get some counseling for yourself to learn how to cope without enabling him. You are not doing him or yourself any favors by having an unhappy home all the time. It's great that you have a working understanding of all you have to do is take the next step. You know your daughter has it and you are doing something about it...just because he is older doesn't mean that he can't change and get better! Best wishes.



answers from Harrisburg on

Same husband was diagnosed after my son was...and's difficult having a spouse with ADHD. YES...I do have to be the one who remembers's schedules etc. This is ADHD. ..hard for someone like me who is very organized. There are some times that the frustration of it all builds and it manifests in anger. However, that should be the exception...not the rule. What is your husband doing about it? Mine has tried a few meds until he found one that worked. He also sees a counselor/coach who helps him to develop strategies to deal with his ADHD. I go with him sometimes. I agree with the others...the ADHD diagnosis seems to be giving him an excuse to have poor behavior.

I don't think giving up on him teaches your kids anything but to quit when the going gets tough. Do I wish mine didn't have ADHD...ABSOLUTELY! But...I know I'm not perfect either and he has to deal with some of my idosyncracies as well. I think I have it harder...but I know he loves me, and that he really is trying to make improvements.



answers from Harrisburg on

I have 2 children with ADHD. I could not imagine having to "argue" with an adult that has ADHD. Obviously you are a strong proactive woman. Be proud. You can make this work if your heart is in it.
My first suggestion is to join another site called mdjunction. It has saved my sanity when my husband had major back surgery. It is a forum for all things medical and if you look, there should be a "spouses of adults with adhd". You might have to look on the adults with adhd page to find the spouse link. If there isn't one make your own forum for it!!! It's amazing when look how many people share your experiences. Good luck and good job.



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm sorry to hear you've been going through such a rough time. This does not sound like ADHD. Your husband needs to first see his primary care physician to begin to diagnose him and then it really sounds like he needs to be referred to a mental health practitioner. It sounds like he might be suffering from depression. Therapy can do wonders and there are so many medications available now to help people with any type of mental disorder. Please get him to a doctor for his sake as well as yours.



answers from Philadelphia on

Jogging/running is a natural remedy for ADHD and has done wonders for my husband. Exercise is also great for depression, so maybe if you are up for it, buy a treadmill or talk to your hubby about joining a gym or the YMCA would have activities for the girls while you two work out.

Thank you for posting this.  I've had quite a tough time in my marriage lately.  My counselor friend says that with the children young, we are at the height of marriage dissatisfaction.  To me, drugs/affair would be the ONLY reasons I'd call it quits.  Even tho things are so much more calm when it's just me and the kids at home, and when my husband enters the picture it feels like a whirlwind with his ADHD (I only diagnosed him myself), I still will not choose to leave him.  I look at the alernative and how I would then have take turns giving him the kids and how much I would worry.  I rather stay put and seek counseling.  I wish things were different for me and for you but we chose this and have to figure it out.  I feel lonely and desperate for peace so I am starting with myself and hope it will effect my marriage positively.  I am lucky my husband does not have a temper (be careful for your safety with that) but he doesn't like to be home either, always out, works 3 jobs, wants to vacation and spend lots of money, very disorganized, selfish with his time, doesn't seem to respect my opinion, seems incapable of sitting down and having a conversation...  I am looking for a good marriage counselor right now.  Your husband sounds depressed.  If he is hyper, then what is he doing hiding in the bath/bedroom?



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you need to have a very frank discussion with your husband. He should seek therapy, consider medication, or the alternative is divorce. This is not good for you, him or the kids.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, S.:

1. There is more going on than your husband's ADD:

His needs aren't being met. This not your fault. You can't change him. You can change yourself.

2. Take care of yourself. Don't focus on him.

Go to your local Co-Dependence Anonymous Support Group.

Look on the net.

Learn some coping skills. Good luck. D.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I have a friend with an ADD husband and daughter (his was also revealed when the daughter was diagnosed) and he is now on medication. It's not perfect but it has helped. Maybe you could find a helpful book on the subject of ADD/ADHD spouses at your library? Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi S.---WOW I didn't know someone was out there with the same issues as me. My husband was also diagnosed when my daughter was. It is like having another child in the house! I too do everything. I work full time, take care of the kids, the house all the decisions (especially money-I took away all his credit cards). It is absolutely eshausting!!! Then he can't understand why I am so tired all the time. My only mental vacation is when the kids go to bed. I'd love to compare notes with you--it's comforting to know that someone else is out there with the same issues as me.



answers from Pittsburgh on


I agree with those who say this is not just ADHD. I have mental illness in my family and I know what it "looks" like. I strongly suggest you figure out a way to get your husband to a mental health professional ASAP. He needs to be evaluated, diagnosed and start treatment before it gets worse. His fits of anger may turn into him hurting you and/or the kids.

Good luck to you all.



answers from Pittsburgh on

It sounds like his issues may go far deeper than ADHD, and I'm sure this behavior must affect the children. I think he should agree to counseling or leave. There is no excuse for behaving that way.



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm not a psychiatrist/therapist but I've seen a lot of people with ADHD and lots of people with mental illness. While your husband may also have ADHD, he sounds like he has quite severe mental illness and this is very serious.
If he is not willing to get help then you do need to leave for your safety as well as for your child. If you choose to stay and he doesn't get help, just think of what you are subjected the child to and please get help for you and your child so you know how to deal with your how your husband behaves and treats you.
In my experience with people with mental illness, this will excalate and he may become dangerous so please take this seriously.
Good luck and stay safe.



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear S.:

ADHD may be caused by a food sensitivity. Not necessarily an allergy, but it can raise the blood titer to cause irritability anywhere in the body. An M.D., FAAP, can run the test.
Get on top of it and I am sure that you will be glad that you did.
Easing the pain and knowing where it comes from can make a big change in dealing with people and circumstances.
Good luck, S.,



answers from Reading on

Sounds like he may have Bipolar Disorde.


answers from Williamsport on

ADHD blankets way too many things these days. Not saying he doesn't have it, but it sounds like more. I have an uncle with ADHD who starts a million weird projects around the house he never finishes and can't function or keep jobs because of his lack of focus. He doesn't hide from his family and act hateful and angry. Your husband is displaying JD- Jerkitude Disorder (selfishness, lack of being able to understand or care about the feelings of others-being pissed off because he's out of work-I'd be SHOCKED to hear he had two awesome parents who instilled responsibility and generosity in him) as well as MAYBE possible mental illness with a twist of ADHD, but I'm not really seeing the ADHD, but I'm no doctor and the diagnosis doesn't really matter as far as what you should do. Also, in a home with one parent acting like this, rather than a calm, supportive structured environment with two sane people working hard to raise the kids and putting them first, you daughter's issues may not be 100% an inherited neurological disorder either. But again, I'm no doctor. I'm only commenting on it at all because you seem to be focused on coping with ADHD in your mail, and I don't think that's the point.

There are two hard paths you can take, and no one will judge you for either one.

If you want to stay with your husband because you love him and can't picture life without him and think your kids need him, then you have to show him tons of love no matter how he's acting. Give him treats, find his good points even if there are none, stroke him, make him the king of the house for a designated amount of time. It will be the hardest thing you ever do not to fight with him or show your own hurt and fight for your rights at first, but over time-maybe 6 months, he can't fight against a force who isn't fighting with him, and as he feels better about himself and trusts you, you can start to encourage improvements in him in non threatening ways. It's a long hard road-I have a great book if you want it.

Option two would be to lovingly offer him the opportunity to have life without you guys because he doesn't seem to love you. You should put it to him like that, because anything you say in anger or even in sticking up for yourself, will be seen as an outrageous offense in his selfish eyes, and he'll blame you for any and all difficulties resulting, including hurting the kids. Tell him you love him, and you see he isn't happy. Tell him you think you should try separating because the house isn't healthy for the kids and HE may be better off not having to hide from you guys and finding a world more up to his high standards (try to be sincere).

Maybe in an attempt to keep you guys, he'll be more open to seeking help if he sees he can't keep the status quo where everyone is hanging around bugging HIM. Maybe not. Then move on, sister, start from scratch. You can do better and your daughters deserve a happy home. There is no easy way-bless you for the trials ahead, we're all pulling for you and you're not alone.

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