My marriage might not be saved by a diagnosis


It’s too long, I know, so if you are still interested, look at the bottom. There’s a shorter summary. If not, also perfectly understandable. It’s a rant and need to vent a little.

Short backstory:

I started medication 2 weeks ago (ritalin), as a kind of last test to see if I have ADHD. I have been thoroughly tested, and all signs pointed towards ADHD, but because my 80- and 72-year-old father and mother didn’t remember me being more different than other kids and the fact that don’t believe (know enough about) I have ADHD, the psychologist didn’t put the diagnose ADHD. Just problems with executive functions. Anyway, I didn’t accept this (also really felt the psychologist was not very good, got a “bad” vibe from her from beginning), and got a new referral from my doctor to a psychiatrist that was popular. He got the report from the psychologist and of course interviewed me, and he said well, you’ve been thoroughly evaluated, and basing the conclusion on your parent’s interview was a terrible decision (He actually laughed and was really appalled by it). He said the signs are there, so let’s try medication and see how you react. First two days great, then slowly less and less effect. But to some degree I feel medication is doing something. And of course, I know, it only goes so far and the rest is of course up to me. Meeting him on the 20th of September, so then we will talk about the way forward. Anyway, short backstory became long again.


I have been with my wife 11 years now, and we have been married for 3 years. We have a son who is 2 and expecting a new son at the end of October. Even from the beginning my wife said she felt something was not quite “right”. When we met I partied a lot and drank myself to blackout pretty much every week (student at the time). And of course when I was single ( which I had been till the age of 27 when I met my wife), no problem. Drink, party, sleep it off and do what I like. No responsibilities or anyone to think about. But of course, different when suddenly there is someone in your life. I got pretty selfish with alcohol, as I felt so free and not constrained. And of course, didn’t want o stop when I first had started drinking. Anyway, with the help of my wife I got help and I stopped drinking as much. But even though I kind of pulled myself together, the urge was still there and as we where both students there were a lot of situations where we tried different strategies, so I could drink some, but not go overboard. But usually didn’t go well. After a couple of years, I things were of course better, but had some relapses.

Next we started to go to family therapy, and went there for 3 years. It was good for us, but again things never really solved themselves and it seems it kind of like putting a small patch on a hole, where pressure was still accumulating. So after a couple of years after that I went to a psychologist that didn’t find anything wrong, but I might have social anxiety (excessive drinking was a way to be social). Went to group therapy, but again not quite right.

We then moved to my hometown 5 years ago, bought a house and we were going to start our grown-up life. Thought it might be good to start again somewhere else and get away from the student life. I started a job and my problems escalated from there. I got really depressed and of course I didn’t want to do thing even though the house needed a lot of work. My wife of course wants to get things done. She nagged, I snapped back. We fought, made up again. And so on and so on. I went to 3 different psychologists, all just saying yes, you have some things you just have to work on them. I was even having suicidal thoughts, and once I wasn’t having them as often the psychologist said that he was quitting to start a new job, so since I wasn’t that depressed anymore it we could stop the therapy and if I have more troubles later I could just seek help again. We even started family therapy again. But there was love there, and I guess we thought if we move forward things will get better. So, marriage and kids.

So here we are, 11 years later with house, dog and soon kids. And a highly possible diagnoses of ADHD (which actually was my wife who thought of, as she is smart ( Ph. D student) and of course never stopped trying to figure out what I was struggling with). Our family therapist is the one who then kind of diagnosed that that was a very probable conclusion. Then I first hade to go through yet another psychologist, until finally someone with knowledge about ADHD agreed.

Sorry, ranting as always. I know people don’t read the long ones. I at least struggle with those.

Current problem:

My wife has used up all her energy and reserves, and is now in a dark and lonely place. She is bitter, angry and sad because things have not improved much over the years. She has been an advocate for me and that I struggle with something, but hasn’t been believed in a way by the professionals. They have normalized my behavior and even gone as far as “blaming” her for being too rigid and demanding of me. Now at the end, even thought we might have found an answer, she is empty. She feels there has never been any space for her and her problems (she has had a few challenges and bad experiences), and that she has always had to put her need s aside to keep us together.

I knew she was low and I kind of realized before the “diagnoses” that time was ticking. But I kind of thought that now we have an answer and I can get better. But of course, experiencing two days where I felt like a superhuman and on top of the world, she only experienced me as almost normal. And then I slowly I reverted back to my old self even thought I was taking medication. I still hope maybe adjusting dosage or type will improve things, and that is so I still have to work on things. Habits and strategies.

But finally, my wife got some room and time to speak her mind (even thought I of course had to interrupt and talk about myself as always). And she said she is now so empty, bitter and angry that she does not see a light in the tunnel. And it is not all directed at me, as she understands that there are other forces at work. But she has still been treated badly by me, by professionals evaluating me and even our friends don’t know I really am. They can of course see some quirks, but I have been really good at playing that role well. I think now that might stem from the fact that we all have busy lives, so When we do see each other it is new and novel, and I can focus to an extent. Of course, in those setting I am not very attentive of my wife, ad focus is elsewhere.

So think a lot of years of feeling that I don’t give her attention, I make her the “parent” who has to run the household, I talk fast and only about myself or my interests, I brake things by accident, I run around like a headless chicken when I am stressed and can’t make decisions. I loose focus when we talk about important stuff, and I don’t remember all the talks about things. So of course, I go around thinking we are fine or I get defensive when she brings things up because I don’t remember or I feel hurt and misunderstood.

Now I am in the situation that she has suggested (which our family therapist also suggested) that we focus on the family corporation as we call it. The kids need our attention and love, and the house needs things done. These are out focus, and we don’t focus on each other. We already sleep in different bedrooms. And I know this is not that the love is gone. It’s just there is so much hurtful history that she can’t handle now, and getting her hopes up makes things worse as I always relapse somehow and will of course always struggle with certain aspects. I understand her reaction, but my reaction is of course sadness and focusing on myself and how bad this makes me feel. It’s like I know what empathy is, and I understand it on a theoretical level, it just doesn’t seem to connect with my emotions. ( I am also going to be examined for possible autism, as this referral was sent the same time as the ADHD as we were of course a little desperate at the time. I don’t believe I am on the spectrum, but of course could be some traits. But I think ADHD can explain a lot of those traits as well.

I understand where she is coming from, but lack the needed empathy to help her. I am wrapped up in myself and the getting answers for all the tings that have been my life. I have the need to read about ADHD and talk about it, but feel lonely and isolated as I then can’t talk to my wife. And forums are good, but not enough for me.

So my wife doesn’t get what she needs, I don’t get what I need and worst of all this could affect our kids if we don’t both get back to a place where we are more than a just family corporation.


A long struggle with myself and my “traits”. After years of different diagnose and opinions, it seems that ADHD might be the answer. But my wife needed this like 5 years ago. She is now burned out, no energy or reserves left. She has no ability to support me in this, and is in a dark lonely place. She does not see the light in the tunnel, and feels bitter and angry that she has not been taken seriously for so many years when she knew I had struggles that need some kind treatment. In the process she has lost her belief in her self and her perception of the world. She has even been blaming herself for a long time. Now, with the highly likelihood that ADHD has been the culprit she only feels, bitter, angry and unfairly treated for many years.

I understand where she is coming from, but lack the needed empathy to help her. I am wrapped up in myself and the getting answers for all the tings that have been my life. I have the need to read about ADHD and talk about it, but feel lonely and isolated as I then can’t talk to my wife. And forums are good, but not enough for me.

So my wife doesn’t get what she needs, I don’t get what I need and worst of all these could affect our kids if we don’t both get back to a place where we are more than a family corporation.

Most likely no one will read this or comment. I think I might have written a lot of this before too in comments or own post. I have learned that long post don’t really get answered or even read. I understand, and I think this was mostly for my own sake to vent a little. If you did read it: Thank you for listening :blush:

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So I freely admit that the long post is hard for me to read, hehe, but I appreciate the summary at the end. hugs all I can say is if you check my thread I’m in a kinda similar situation, in the sense that both me and my husband are feeling bitter and burnt out because of having to deal with each other’s crap. We’re currently separated and that gives us the space to do our own work while still ‘dating’ each other so that the time we spend together is JUST for fixing us. It’s hard, but has helped. Obviously your situation is a bit different with kids, but as much as you can, I recommend creating that same space. As you pointed out - you cant help each other right now, because she’s not able to provide you the empathy you need for your struggle, and she wants to be able to have space for her struggles. So, make friends, find a local support group, etc, to talk about what you’re going through without putting it on her shoulders. Let her do the same. Having individual space to vent/rant/prioritize yourself sounds like its a really missing component that would be crucial to create so that you both arent feeling isolated and overburdened. Be ok with saying “Im struggling and I’m handling it” and if you see her defaulting into caretaker role (which is probably automatic at this point) gently tell her “I really appreciate you wanting to help me with this, but I got it” and then as best as you can take care of it on your own (see leaning on others or if its other issues utilizing techniques to help - Dr. Russell Barkley has a great ‘taking charge of adult adhd’ that is all about learning techniques to manage your symptoms on your own). As much as you can take off her shoulders, do it. Just taking away some of the responsibility is going to help immensely with the feeling of burnout and bitterness. Sometimes (always) being someone’s everything is waaay too much and especially so with little kids. So dont be. Carve out individual space, lean on others, and then it will go from feeling ‘mandatory’ or ‘needed’ to lean on each other, to a desire to do so. If I know you can go to anyone about what youre dealing with, I can relax. I can say I’m too tired or stressed or dealing with my own stuff and feel safe knowing its ok to take that me time. Likewise, I can feel happy, generous if I’m in a good space and joyfully ask you to share, because its a gift i’m giving you and not another task. But that will only happen if you both start leaning and venting to others (not just in therapy, but to those friends who CAN be the listening ears and ‘lets be all about you’ shoulders)

I know how you are feeling. My husband is feeling the same way about me. I feel bad but I’m 42 and haven’t managed to improve much in those many years of my life… and I was diagnosed as a kid. Sometimes I wonder if I should have stayed single. I have to try to work on keeping what I have, like you, and, like you, struggle to do so while keeping your partner happy. Just know that you aren’t the only one. We really do understand.

Thanks for the reply. No problem, I did actually intend to write a shorter text as I have experienced that longer ones don’t get that many replies or views, but turned into the lord of the rings triogy again :slight_smile: Yes, I think space is an important word. My wife seems to have benefitted from the talk we had and that she was given the chance to talk about her thoughts. Things are of course not great, but she vented a little pressure and has felt a little better.
For the time being, I havn’t told anyone about ADHD, as it still feels less official. And therefore she hasn’t either. But when it is “offical”, she can share with her sister and a few good friends and I think that can help. I guess one part of this is that she is the only one that sees this “version” of me, and that probaly makes her feels more isolated and alone. Espicially since she has known this for a long time in a way, but been alone with this feeling.
When we focus onour son, we are often god toghether. Apart from when I get to “high” as she calls is. So hyper, talk fast and kind of a one-way communication. But I am working on it. And medication did help with that in the beginning, so hopefully it can help with som adjustmants.
I have also ordered a book from amazon about ADHD and relationships after seeing a presentation. The book seems to cater to both the one with ADHD and the one without, so maybe a book for both of us to read.
I hope you and your husband find the space you both need and that you find your way back to each other.

Thanks for your reply and support. Yes, life did seem easier when single, and I have had the same thought. But I also know that without my wife, I would not have managed my master degree, and would probably still be working at a electronics store as that was a comfortable job and I didn’t have motivation to move forward with life. So even though we have had our ups and downs, I have “evolved” and now have a good job and a wonderful son. So no regrets :slightly_smiling_face:
Good luck to you and your husband. As you say it is hard, but if it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be worth doing I think someone said once.

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My marriage was almost destroyed by my (at the time undiagnosed) ADHD. After being diagnosed, I realized that all of the issues that my wife presented (when our marriage was on the rocks) all revolved around ADHD. We’re in a much better place now, though I know my symptoms can still be a royal pain for both of us.

As someone diagnosed in my early 40’s, with a lifetime of stuff to make sense of, I was certainly hardcore into researching ADHD. I understand where you’re coming from there @jetstacker. However, in my opinion, you can’t let that diminish the time/effort/love you put into your wife. Sometimes just doing something de-stressing for both of you (without talking about stress or even without romance) can work well (e.g. watching TV together, video games, etc.)

It sounds like she needs you more than you realize. I was in therapy pre-diagnosis. I convinced my wife to go with me one time. She was explaining some problems to the therapist and started to cry. I just kind of watched. The therapist asked why I didn’t put my arm around her or console her. That was an eye opener to me. I had grown kind of calloused to her emotions I guess.

Something else I’d suggest is to warn when you’re in a ‘mode’. I know when my anger might be stressed off, when I’m stressed, etc. I try to warn my wife that I might react poorly (e.g. explode in anger) at times. Perhaps even give a heads-up when you’re hyperfocused on something (like ADHD).

From my experience, I believe that you can’t expect a diagnosis or medication to save things. You also can’t fix things quickly either. However doing little things can, over time, make a big difference.

Just my $0.02 (Disclaimer: Not a therapist)

Thanks for the reply.

Things have normalized slightly after the initial post, I’m not that focus on reading about ADHD. And we have talked. Both she and I needed time to process I think, and still challenges ahead, but we seem to have slightly better dialogues now. I thing that happened was that I am writing a kind of journal in google docs for the last 3 weeks to document the effects of my medication. But they have also been a way for me to write how I feel. My wife and I use the same computers often, and seemingly both our Gmail accounts were logged in at the same time. She thought I had shared this document with her, since I have been eager for her to read about ADHD. She read some of the begin and it came up when we were out on a walk with our son and dog. I froze and panicked a little. I had written stuff I had not told her. Not serious things, more like my habit of eating 200 gram of chocolate in the car on the way home from shopping ( 5 min ride). She didn’t read this, but we talked and she was of course sorry she read some of it, but it also somehow felt good that she had, I told her about the things I didn’t want her to know and told her she could read the rest. It has kind of given her some insight in to my feelings, and she has had opportunity to vent her feelings. It’s been good for us.



35 ADHD female here.
Maybe you can suggest she also writes a journal and explain her feelings. It gives her the opportunity to follow her own train of thought and communicate her feelings without you interrupting with your own train of thought. Then you can read, reflect, and later discuss.
Then my suggestion would be, maybe try to decide together on one thing to focus on, one thing to change first. Then the next one, and the next one. If you have the means, find an ADHD coach who has experience and good reviews. It costs money but is so useful. The goal is for you to find tools to deal with the things you struggle to do. Even with meds, ADHD doesn’t go away. Coaching is super important.
Housework never stops being infinitely annoying, but there are ways to get stuff done despite ADHD. All the best to you.