Husband with ADHD - Littleton,CO

Updated on August 11, 2014
K.S. asks from Littleton, CO
9 answers

I am exhausted, and not sure what to do. My husband is a good, well-meaning guy. But I don't know how much more I can take. He has always seemed ADHD (we've been married 23 years). When we were younger, he had a million career ideas and just crazy plans for everything. He is now mid-40s. He was officially diagnosed with ADHD about 10 years ago. Things weren't too bad because we had a little kid and he was busy enough just keeping up with daily things and the demands of his jobs. The last few years have been really stressful. I'm not sure if it because he had/has a mid-life thing once he turned 40, but I think he started to feel like we needed to save more for retirement and just needed more money (this is not really true, we're just fine on both fronts).
He has started four different companies/businesses, all which have failed. He does have great business ideas, he is very smart this way. But when it comes to the "boring" details, he loses focus and interest. This is always what does him in- he just doesn't manage the small, but crucial, details. He currently talks about starting a new business, and also wanting to buy land. I find out that he has already taken steps to start both. I have supported his ideas for years, because I do want to believe in him and that he can get it together. But now that we are in our 40s, daughter a few years from going to college, I told him no- I do not want to take risks right now, and I need him to scale back. Despite the business failures, he has done a good job providing for us (with a 'regular' job that he excels in). I have tried to let him know that I appreciate this, and we don't need any more. He says he is doing all of the other things "for the family", and while I used to believe this, I think at this point it for him- he needs the adrenaline rush, stimulation, or whatever. I have tried working with him to set boundaries (no starting things until we talk together or until you have a business plan, etc.), but there always seems to be a loophole or some other reasons these don't work or last. And he does try to partner with a detail oriented person, but he tends to steamroll past their efforts to control the details, or he over-promises what he is capable of doing so he still affects the details side of the partnership. He is a bit like a bulldozer sometimes!
I went to counseling to try to gain some perspective and know what to do to help him. I did drag him to a session to explain why I am not ok with all of this obsession with new businesses and investments. He said what he needed to say to get out of the office, but nothing has really changed. He has actually talked about taking meds, as these problems and the failures do sometimes catch up to him and make him feel depressed. He is not without remorse, but it's a big cycle.
I am so tired of making sure everything is in order with our personal finances, and keeping up with things to make sure he doesn't go out and sign things or put us at risk. Then when I find something and try to stop him, he gets really angry with me. I feel terrible saying this, but it is affecting how I feel about him. How can I keep respecting someone who puts us in financial jeopardy and has no regard for what I feel or say? My daughter started high school today and I was really emotional after dropping her off. I realized that I had no desire or intention to go to him for comfort, I feel so distant from him.
Do any of you have husbands with ADHD? Did it seem to get worse as he got older? How did you support him without losing your mind? I feel so awful right now. Thanks in advance for any and all of your advice/stories.

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answers from Los Angeles on

No-But I have two friends with husbands given ADHD diagnosis as married adults.
They are doing much better since they started taking medication.

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answers from New York on

A few things struck me as interesting in your post:
1. "He does have great business ideas, he is very smart this way."
If you see he has a good idea it may be a great idea for him to partner up with someone who is detailed oriented. How could you help him to partner up with someone to help him manage the details that matter to the success of the business? This someone shouldn't be you but should be knowledgeable about details that could help the business perform in the fashion it needs to for success.

I admire his drive and determination. It just seems to me like you only want him to do things your way for your comfort. Marriage in my eyes is helping the other person reach their full potential while playing to your individual strengths.

He is strong according to you with coming up with business ideas and you are strong with household money management. It's time to partner the two. Next time he presents a business idea to you. Have he also develop a business plan. This will help him think some things through and plan things out he may have never considered. Also ask him, who he could partner with to handle the details. This partneer could also pony up money too. Not guts no glory and putting your money where your mouth is helps.

I really hope this brings a new perspective and insight into your situation as I see it.

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answers from New York on

Count your blessings. He could be getting his thrills from skydiving instead.

Now for the more concrete advice. Can you take a hard look at the books and figure out, how much money you can earmark for his project/ dream/ money making scheme, without feeling at risk. See if you can both abide by it.

F. B.

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answers from Boston on

Starting a business is very difficult - the idea is just one small part of it. But there's a saying that any project is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So the idea is the start, but the work is the most important part of success. More people succeed with a bad idea and good follow-through than a good idea with no follow-through. So he needs a partner (probably not you) who is detail oriented and has the know-how to launch a business. Not just the bookkeeping and ordering office supplies, but the business plan and the business loans and the marketing. Your husband needs to have a contract or partnership with this person so he doesn't walk away when he disagrees with him/her or doesn't get his way. That's what concerns me about him walking away from the therapy appointment - he said as little as possible, according to you, and walked away from the part that didn't interest him or that was difficult for him. That can't happen in a business.

Sometimes people with ADHD have great inspiration but sometimes they are so scattered that they don't complete anything. Sometimes they don't hold jobs well because they don't stay focused on what the boss wants. If he's not willing to do something about his problem (medication, supplements, behavioral techniques, or a combination) then, no, you can't mortgage your future and your daughter's college so he can pursue yet another dream. If he doesn't learn from his mistakes, he is doomed to repeat the same mistakes the next time.

Meantime, this is taking its toll on your relationship. That needs addressing. You are too far apart to withstand a lot more of these ventures. Keep up with the counseling. If your husband doesn't like that counselor, see if you can get a referral for someone who works with couples as well. You can switch, or you can stay with the current counselor for yourself to help clarify your own direction.

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answers from Boston on

Medication if he's willing.

My husband (and two of my sons) have ADHD. Sometimes it's all I can take to not pack it up and run away from here.

I can relate a lot to what you write. My husband also goes on kicks of trying to start businesses, invest in something, or will buy something like a small boat or a car without my agreement. Then there are the "appointments" he makes and forgets to tell me about...arborists showing up to give estimates on trees he wants to cut down (which I would never agree to have cut down), window guys coming to sell me windows that I have no intention of a guy showed up to look at replacing our heating system. That actually does need to get done, but I had NO IDEA he asked someone to come by today. And the projects...half-built walls in the basement, half of the concrete patio resurfaced, woodwork installed but not finished, etc.

I don't really have any good suggestions for you. What works for me is that I make sure to not leave too much money in accounts he can access and don't really care whether or not I come across as unsupportive when I say "no" and "hell, NO!" about the latest scheme. If he pulls something like unilaterally deciding to hire a lawn care service and some guy shows up to fertilize my lawn, I go right ahead and tell the guy that I pay the bills and he isn't going to get paid for this so he can just turn right around and move on to the next job, and to put a note in his client database to never take a job from my husband.

I think that about 90% of the monitoring and treating him like a child would go away if he was actually treating his ADHD, but he refuses to do so, so this is where we are.

If you're still at the point in your marriage where you trust each other and genuinely are on the same team, have HIM see a counselor (with you for some sessions, just him for others). As you noticed, having him BS his way through one appointment with you is one thing...having to be accountable to someone week after week is another. A counselor/therapist would probably also advocate that he seek out medication, which a psychiatrist can prescribe and monitor.



answers from Austin on

I realize there are expenses to starting a new business..... and it sounds like he is a very creative person.

Could you make it mandatory, that if he is starting a new business, that he hire a qualified office/management type of person to take care of the "boring" stuff? That way, he can go off on his creative tangents, and have someone to take care of the boring stuff like financials, insurance, stuff like that.

And no, I don't have a hubby with ADHD.... but I am quite a bit on that aspect, as are at least one of my kids. None of us have used medication, though.

(Has he tried medication as an adult for ADHD? I've heard it can really help.)



answers from Denver on

I have a child with (diagnosed) ADHD, and a husband who I believe has ADD. I also, over the years, have started to suspect my husband has high-functioning autism/asbergers (my son has a passle of challenges but this is not one of them).

It *is* frustrating, because nothing you say will be heard until you are losing your cool - and he will have over-emotional responses when he does hear you, rather than respectful ones. And I am so sorry.

My advice? Counseling for both of you, if he'll do it, bit mostly for him. And meds.

On the comforting side, I don't think this gets worse with age. He may get more forgetful, as we all can, but not in an ADHD "I forgot you existed and had feelings" kind of way.




answers from Sacramento on

As the parent of a child with severe ADHD-combined type, I have some suggestions:

1. Encourage his interest in ADHD treatment. Medication was a "Wow!" moment with our son. Same personality, same person, but with focus. It can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life of the entire family. A million times more effective than therapy alone. However, once starting medication, therapy is helpful.

2. Join CHADD. It's the advocacy group for people dealing with ADHD. There are chapters nationwide. You'll be surrounded by people who understand your situation. I went to their big national conference and it was really, really well done.

3. Subscribe to ADDitude magazine. There are great tips in there for spouses and also tips for adults dealing with ADHD. All around great magazine for anyone affected by this condition.

4. He may want to hire an ADHD life coach. They're trained to deal with people with this condition and can help him to stay on track with his goals. ADDitude magazine has a listing of coaches at the back of each issue. CHADD may also have lists available.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Keep your money separate.

Ask him if you can take on the role of financial person in the family, with him having no access except an allowance that is his blow money, he can buy bubble gum and hand it out on street corners every day if he wants to. That would be his pocket money for anything he wants. It can be a substantial amount, a hundred a week, or even $10 per day. It is not any part of his regular expenses like lunch, food, or work related stuff.

I think if he lets you have the reins/controls you'll feel better and he won't have access to the big bucks.

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