Life is complicated especially if you are married to someone with ADHD. I can personally attest to this fact because my husband of twenty years has the condition. He was diagnosed on his 40th birthday after we found out that our child has ASD and ADHD combined. The experts refer to it as a dual diagnosis. No wonder my son has it because my husband has ADHD too.
During the seventies and eighties, having behavioral issues is synonymous with mental health impairment. If a person has Asperger’s or autism, people will term him as mentally unstable or worse, abnormal or retarded.
Back then, there were no treatment programs for children with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Asperger’s, Autism, Depression, PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and all the other mental health conditions. I even heard of an old wives tale that children who are extremely hyperactive are such because they have “demon” blood in them. It’s absurd, I know! That’s how uninformed people were decades ago.
Good thing today, the society is a bit open when it comes to mental health issues and behavioral concerns. There are now experts on these matters, and they are well-equipped on how to diagnose and handle such patients. The cause of all these ailments is attributed to disparities in genetic makeup, environmental influences, and other physical factors. It can be about chemical imbalances and hormonal problems. People who have these conditions didn’t choose to be like this and often, it is also impossible for them to control their behavior.
Going back to my husband, I can say that life has been an unending roller coaster ride. I love him with all my heart and soul, but sometimes I question, why am I in this relationship? What am I getting out of this? Can I still leave him even after 20 years of marriage and three children? When can I have a normal life?
I read from a research-based website that adults with ADHD have a very shallow level of attention. Every day, as I talk to him and tell him what I need for him to do, he will joyfully agree and say yes. The problem is that it won’t be done. I ask him to clean up the kitchen; he will say – sure. But when I go to the kitchen after a few hours, it’s still full of dishes and crap. I have to constantly remind him of what we need to do, especially if it’s not in our routine. And speaking of routine, it can’t be broken or else he’d freak out.
These are just some of the things that I endure each day being married to him. He takes money matters easily even to the point of acquiring a loan just to buy the newest car model – not thinking first if we can afford it.
He is very impulsive. I always have to pick up after him because he can’t follow through on things, and since he is the “man of the house,” I am expected to “honor” him and be submissive. How can I when things can be a total wreck?
I look back at our past, and he was a great guy, then. Where has he gone? I am looking for the man I fell in love with – funny, outgoing, athletic and kind. But this is the reality now, and I have to accept it.
We went to couples counseling and had our weekly sessions at Regain. Our counselor taught me how to act around him if I want his cooperation:
- touching him while talking to him or asking him to do something,
- maintaining eye contact when conversing and wait for him to reply,
- positively tell him about a time limit or due date, and
- remind him again of what needs to be done.
I know. It seems that I have to treat him like one of my children. If that is the case, then, I have to do it. Otherwise, I need to make a decision – leave or stay?