Divorced ADHDers.. What was it like?



After two years of fighting, individual therapy and couple’s therapy, my husband and I are finally headed towards divorce. I’m completely heartbroken, and scared, but also realizing that I’m so worn down from trying to make things work… and I’m a little excited to turn the page?

I only have the lessons from my parent’s divorce to pull from, as far as emotional resilience. For my father, his strategy was to quickly replace my mom with someone else… For my mom, her strategy was to never recover. Neither of those strategies fit me. The idea of being alone makes me very sad, but I’m planning to be on my own a while. I plan to keep going to college and to keep building wealth.

I’m curious, for other ADHDers who have gone through divorce… What happened? How did you get there? How did you decide it was time to move on? What did you take away from the experience? What did you learn that has helped you in future relationships?


I have not experienced this so I cannot offer answer to questions - but I just wanted to stop by and give you a super big internet hug! But I feel it’s good to feel excited for a new chapter, that’s a wonderfully positive way to look at things. :heart:


I feel I should say sorry, but instead I’ll say congratulations.

One door closes, another opens.

No doubt there were many good aspects to your relationship, but at the end of the day… You both deserve to be happier than you probably were.

My wife and I split a few months ago. Neither amicably, nor angrily. Just a neutral wearing down to numbness, and then a break up that really wasn’t a surprise.

What got me through was finding out that I have ADHD. I took a long look at myself after the split, and somehow ended up at an online test for ADHD.

So immediately, there was hope of a better future for me.

My outlook has brightened a lot, just with that. And now I have the (possibly irrational) hope that there is someone else out there for me.


I’ve often told people “Congratulations!” when I hear they recently got a divorce, because I generally feel like it’s best for both parties. I was inconsolable when DH told me he wanted to go, and extremely sad for several days. But, I woke up this morning kind of… excited? And, today is the first day I haven’t cried.

I think it helped that I told people at work/have told a few friends/have posted about it here and other places. It’s kind of like I’m forcing myself to commit to the reality of it, instead of pretending everything is fine. Because, that’s what I would typically do in crisis…

I’m not exactly… concerned with my own resilience? Or, I don’t really feel like I need consoling? But, I am obsessed with making all the right moves, and I feel like it’s helpful to hear other people’s stories…


Another thing that is working for me… I no longer have to divide myself into two people. I only have to think for one person now. I have more money too.


Wow, I’m actually still surprised when I see people dealing with divorce and they aren’t absolutely crushed and torn to pieces. But I guess that’s the healthy way to be. :slight_smile:

But for me, my marriage was something different I guess. I’m pretty sure it’s due to some weird mommy issues or something, but I felt absolutely crushed for at least a year. And it’s been just over 4 years now, and all I can say is that I never really dealt with what made it hurt so bad… if I let my mind go there, I’ll still feel the pain…
I can best describe my experience using a metaphor:
Being burned alive… I rode the school bus with a girl whose entire body was covered in severe burn scars. And after we were grown, the subject came up in a discussion one day, and just mentioning it made her cry… there aren’t many events in life that can leave such a strong connection to it 25 or 30 years later, but for me, my divorce was one… I remember distinctly going out into the woods a way from everyone and screaming and yelling until my voice would no longer function. I remember begging God and any other gods and available forces to let me trade the pain for any other pain. I distinctly remember saying I would prefer to be set on fire and endure the flames because at least the fire would eventually stop, but the loss of family, the rejection, the destructive impact on my children, the divorce was going to be forever.

I remember my 80 year old grandmother telling me about her mother dying from tuberculosis, her father being killed by his horse, several of her siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles dying from different things, all before she reached age 10. And even as a tough old lady, i saw a few tears find their way down the side of her face.

So in order for me to survive the divorce (And I do mean literally survive) I had to convince myself that I didn’t care about my ex-wife, I had to convince myself that I was no longer a father to my children, I had to convince myself that I felt no love. And of course this was nearly impossible, but I think people would be surprised what kinds of things they can accomplish when faced with death, or what kinds of lies they can tell themselves when subjected to pains worse than death.

Well, looks like I got way off the subject.


It’s been a long time (1.5 to 2 years, of a 5 year marriage?) coming for us. The way I see it, I’ve been grieving slowly over time, as we’ve drifted apart. Or had wedges driven between us. We lost romance a while ago, and sex not long after that. Then, we lost sharing the same friends. I think the final straw was a loss of sharing the same life goals. It’s like we’re arguing over the rules of the game, but we’re not even playing the same game anymore. It’s ultimately not a surprise. Plus, we don’t have kids or anything to deal with, so the sense of loss at this point is limited to… routine, economic security, and friendship.

Because we’re still friends, though all the bullshit and emotional fights.

Maybe this is part of why I’m able to be resilient. I got to know my suicide demon early in life, and I also faced it down by convincing myself I didn’t care. For me, I convinced myself I was incapable of loving myself. Ofc, if I loved myself, I’d put myself out of my own misery, right? Either by suicide, or by getting my shit together. Thankfully, I had a really good friend pull me out of this one. Very slowly, but she did it. Now I recognize the angry and helpless feelings that point towards depression, and I have ways of getting myself out. My therapist taught me that you have to fall in the same hole a lot before you learn the best ways to get out, and before you learn to sense the edge and not fall in to begin with.

Trauma is hard.


The first part is going to be true for me. I think that’s where I feel excited? I don’t have to ask my husband’s opinion about stuff anymore. Or wait for him to finish his part of the to do list. Or whatever.

I won’t have more money, though. He’s taking the economic security with him. It’s probably going to take me about a year to get stable on my own. But, we’re friendly/ending it pretty mutually, so his support won’t disappear all at once.

Edit: Long term, I might end up with more money. DH makes more, and I’ve passed on some important lessons about retirement savings and not running the rat race advertising wants us to run… But my biggest resentments have always been around money/overspending. I’m pretty frugal, and I really wish my partner was the same.


I’m in the exact same place, except I told him to go. I’m sure ADHD had some blame in the split, but I’ll never know cause we couldn’t get past his alcoholism. For me the last straw was when he quit his third job in two years. It’s like a switch went off and I finally realized, he’s not going to change. It was a realization that was inevitable and a long time coming. I worked for years trying to keep us afloat, through marriage counseling, getting him into rehab, supporting him through his recovery. The problem was I was the only one doing any work. So I finally put my burden down and told him to go.

My only regret is that our son will likely suffer emotionally. He was three when I kicked my DH out, and before that my DH was gone for weeks or months at a time in rehab, so I tell myself that maybe he’s young enough not to feel the worst of it.

My soon-to-be-Ex and I are still friends. He’s not fighting the split. He’s still a dad to his son, seeing him several times a week.

I was afraid it would be hard being a single mom, but after he was gone it was such a relief. And I realized I’d basically been a single parent since he was born. I was already doing it all anyhow, so the amount of work day to day didn’t change, but now I didn’t have to worry about DH and what he was doing or drinking or anything, and that emotional release has been breathtaking.

I also joined a dating app. I’m not very active, but it feels good to put myself out there. I’m not interested in marrying again anytime soon though, if ever.


I should start by saying it was a few years after the split that I was diagnosed with ADHD, but in retrospect, it definitely played a part in the breakdown of the marriage and what happened after.

When my wife and I split up, it was the culmination of a lot of things but it all really boiled down to we wanted different things from the relationship but didn’t know how to tell the other person that (it was a year after we split that we had a long talk and realized we had different expectations and needs when it came to a long-term relationship) as well as both of us being so afraid of abandonment that we were trying to be what we thought the other person wanted, then resenting the other person for making us be someone else and resenting ourselves for not being our authentic selves (that came out in the same year-after conversation). I initiated the split. I’d be talking with close friends for a while about how I was unhappy and didn’t know if I could keep going on, but I was also afraid if I left her, she would keep our daughter away from me. (She’s her biological daughter, but not mine. Legally, she’s my step-daughter, but she has no biological father that’s ever been around or known her and as far as we’re all concerned, I adopted her and I’m her only dad.) But it got too much and one night we were fighting and she yelled “If it’s so bad being with me, why don’t you just divorce me?” And I said “Yeah, okay. I want a divorce.” She was stunned and furious. She got really nasty with me during the initial separation. And then a few months later, she found a journal she’d been keeping six months earlier and realized she’d written that she was bored with the marriage and wondered how hard it would be to push me into divorcing her. “So…my bad. Sorry I was so angry with you.”

Because I love this example of how our daughter has always been an older person in a young person’s body (as opposed to her mom and me, who are young people in older bodies), the day after the big fight, we sat our daughter down to tell her we were separating and I was moving out. We explained that it had nothing to do with her (and truthfully, her mom and I have never ever fought over anything regarding our daughter) and we would always be there for her. Our daughter, 12 at the time, listened silently, little tears running down her cheeks, and when she finally spoke, she said “So, how are we handling the family cell phone plan?” Her mom and I looked at each other in surprise. “Uhhhh…we haven’t worked all of the logistics out yet, but we’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about it.”

Anyway, I moved out and that’s when my ADHD kicked in big time. I moved into an apartment and left most of the furniture with my wife, so I needed to furnish my apartment. Before we got married, I’d never had a credit card, but I’d gotten one while we were married (but had barely used it) and when I opened my own bank account after moving out, the bank gave me another card and a sizeable line of credit just on the account. And I went kind of crazy buying stuff. A brand-new big bed, new bookshelves, a new desk and chair, a big new TV, a Wii, and when I started dating someone not too long after, a big trip to San Francisco with my new girlfriend. I didn’t keep any kind of budget, would suddenly find myself short for paying bills and charge more things to my cards just to get by. I ended up with A LOT of debt that I tried paying off erratically and really lucked out in that some of the credit was eventually dropped because the banks decided I didn’t owe enough to keep paying to go after me. But my credit rating is still sucky and there are still things I need to pay off.

But my ex and I are on good terms now. We’re not best buddies, but we know a lot about each other and understand the other, so we talk via email at least once or twice a month about general life stuff (mostly mental and physical health, as well as talking about what our daughter, now in college, is up to), we send each other links to interesting news stories and recommend TV shows and books to each other. And we encourage each other to be the best person, the person we never felt we could be in our marriage. It wasn’t easy to get here. She has a HUGE amount of trust and abandonment issues which have led her to alternately cling to me as her only real friend and push me away in anger because “I don’t need anyone but me.” But here we are.


I was the spouse coming from the other side of this issue. I was the one “divorced upon”. I didn’t walk away. I was blindsided, although my ex would say that I was warned a lot.
In hindsight, I think the issues we had largely were from ADD issues. Although, it took me about 6 years post divorce to even discover that I had ADD. And that was due to my ,now, wife telling me that she thought I had it.

Anyway, in my opinion, I think she was wrong for leaving me. For better or worse, in sickness and in health…that whole thing…
but yah…
living with me was frustrating and likely overwhelming.
You, likely, are starting to feel weight lifted off of you. Deciding upon divorce, right or wrong, when you settle that in your mind, probably will lift some burdens, and offer you hope of new opportunities.
My question to you is, are you the one with ADD or your significant other?
As for me, I’m pursuing psychiatric evaluation, if that’s what it is called, so I can get medication for my ADD; as well as, joining up with this community of brains to get support for this new journey in navigating ADD.
Good wishes to you on your journey!


Glad you discovered your ADD gift. There could very well be that other person for you down the road.
I found that other person as well, after going out on dates with several other ladies. In my “dating” life, nothing was romantic. I kept to the friendship level, and I told them that up front. One I found my wife, we did get attached quickly. She is amazing… and patient! My only wish would have been that I figured out before meeting her that I had ADD…before we got married, bought a house, and built up huge honey-do list filled with lots of half done tasks.
Anyway glad to have you in this great community!


It feels quite the opposite, actually. The economic burden of supporting myself is daunting, and threatens my ability to stay in/do well in college. It’ll probably take more time than 10 days to start to feel any relief. But, again, since I’m not the one choosing to walk away, it feels like someone is taking responsibilities away from me because I performed poorly, not like I am being absolved of something too difficult to handle.

Also: We both have ADHD, and since we both sought treatment about 1 year ago, there’s been a huge improvement in the daily function of our marriage.


I feel the same way. I was prepared to put the effort in, not sure why she wasn’t.

Admittedly there were issues (I had to organise a visa to get her to Australia, but it was difficult and she waited a long time for it. She gave up waiting.).

It wasn’t a perfect relationship by any means, but I tried to be there for her.

The last month or so, I needed to focus on myself and solve a few big problems without devoting too much focus on her. I thought she’d support me. But it turns out that she didn’t.

Strangely, that’s a small relief for me too. I sort of feel like I didn’t fail the marriage, the marriage failed me. It’s not quite as simple as that, but being wronged probably feels a little better than doing the wronging.

I could have done a bunch of things differently, but in the end I wasn’t given the chance to examine what I could change to fix the marriage. By the time I got the word, it was too late. There were a number of things I would have been happy to do, had I realised the problem was big enough to get divorced over.


So there has been improvements in your relationship, you two are divorcing?
Still, regardless, knowing and dealing with your adhd has helped relationally to some extent?
I’m trying to understand how adhd has affected my relationships over these many years. How it affected my developing years in school.
How it affected my first marriage.


Just commenting so I can remember to add my story later, my divorce was officially in effect on my birthday last month


I’m as confused as you are. And, our therapist is the most confused of all of us, LOL.

Yeah - I’ve been doing better in school, he’s been doing better at his job, so less outside stressors coming in. We’re able to sit and have the really important emotional conversations we need to have to get through life. It used to be that I would ask a question, my husband would struggle to answer for 5-10 minutes, and by the time he’d answered, I’d mostly forgotten the question! On the flip side, at some points each of us were moving so fast we were constantly interrupting each other. Now, we have regularly paced conversations, and we get somewhere every single time.

The point of contingency for us is that my husband thinks he’s not a good enough spouse, and doesn’t think he can be a good spouse until he goes off on his own and sorts through his bullshit by himself. That means childhood traumas, sexual traumas, and self-harm problems. He’s not totally wrong - he has a lot to go through to get better, and it will probably be easier to do by himself - but I still feel like you and @smoj feel: For better or worse, I’m prepared to put the effort in.

So far we’ve negotiated for a 6 month separation, and to give it a chance in April/May to see if we’re still struggling with the same conflicts. But, he’s still basically telling me it’s just a delay of the inevitable. I guess his reasoning is that, after he grows and changes into “someone [he] would pick” to be a good spouse, maybe he won’t want to be with me, or will find my personality/our history drags him back into the mire of his own trauma.

It just feels really fucking unfair.


Sorry I was going to post my story, but I can’t …


Disclaimer: I’m not a relationship expert - or even close to it.

Here’s my thought - don’t wait 6 months to do anything just because you said you’d wait 6 months. If you find yourself yearning for your husband in 3 weeks - perhaps let him know (even with a simple ‘I miss you’). Maybe he’s feeling the same. If this happened, and you both decided to wait the 6 months, maybe that flame would go out.

I’m not suggesting that you race back to living together if you both feel that way. Perhaps just start with introducing date nights. They could be a way to test the waters without diving in.

Joel (not an expert)


It is tough to determine when the right time for this would be. I miss him already, and all he’s done is move to the spare bedroom. I’m going to miss him even more right away. I think that the ‘I miss you’ of longing would have to come from his side to be meaningful. We haven’t explicitly discussed how long we want to not talk for during the separation, but our therapist suggests setting some kind of boundary.

If I feel I absolutely have to talk to him, I’ll probably write him letters.