"We wish we were Obi-Wan Kenobi, and for the most part we are, but there's a little Darth Vader in all of us." -Chris Stevens
Question #92919 posted on 02/14/2020 11:42 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have been married for a little over two years now. About a year and a half after we were married, my husband was diagnosed with ADHD. It has definitely put some strains on our marriage, but having a diagnosis has been nice because it gives us something to blame some of his negative behaviors on. As his spouse, I really want to be able to support him and help him to grow and develop, but I feel like I’m constantly nagging him. I’m always cleaning up after him, helping him sit down and actually do his homework (and sometimes doing some of it for him, which i’m not proud of), and feeding him. He won’t even pour a bowl of cereal by himself; he sits at home for HOURS while i’m away at work, starving, and tell me he hasn’t eaten anything all day. It’s ridiculous for me to have to take care of an adult man like this, and he also feels really demoralized. It feels like anything and everything in our home falls on my shoulders, and I’m just tired. I don’t feel like I can do it for one more day. it seems like we caught in an endless loop of him falling down on his responsibilities, me picking up the slack and resenting him, him giving up, and the cycle repeats. It’s incredibly frustrating for both of us. I know it’s incredibly hard for him to deal with the constant noise in his mind, and he feels really bad about himself when he fails a test or forgets an assignment or feels like he’s disappointed me. It’s really putting a strain on our relationship and making it difficult to feel connected. I love him so much, but I had no idea what I was getting into when I married him, and i’m starting to resent him hard. How can i help/support him without micromanaging him or feeling like his mom? And how can we improve our relationship? I’m looking specifically for advice from anyone on the Board who has ADHD or has a spouse or loved one who does, but any and all input is welcome.

-Not His Mother

A:

Dear I Ain't Yo Mama, 

Mental health is real, it is important, and it is consequential in our lives. ADHD can be really difficult to manage, and can be incredibly frustrating. I think it is really important that you understand that I am sensitive to this and consider it seriously. 

That being said, not all of the behaviors you are describing can be fully explained by ADHD, probably. This sounds way bigger. Diagnosis does not mean all problematic behaviors can be explained away by having a named illness. His diagnosis does not mean he is not accountable for his actions. He should be taking it seriously and working to find ways to function as best he can. Your husband is a grown man, and he should be able to at least communicate about what he needs. Not feeding himself even basics (like cereal? leftovers? toast?) is not normal behavior and in my unprofessional opinion is not and should not be fully explained with one diagnosis. 

Your husband needs to talk to a therapist/psychiatrist who will prescribe him medication and should be able to help him identify ways to cope because this is unhealthy and unsustainable behavior. 

You should be considerate towards his needs and troubles, absolutely. But you should also not feel obligated to wait on his every need because he pities himself. Your job is not to be his therapist or his mother. You do not deserve to live your life in this way perpetually. He is responsible to work with you to try to find a better solution to the situation. 

How can you improve your relationship? Be patient and loving, but firm. You could use some counseling together, and he needs to seriously consider getting meds if his ADHD is truly that debilitating. 

Love to you both, I hope this works out for you and you can get on better ground. Please, let us know how you're doing in the future. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear Concerned,

This past year has been an adventure for me with ADHD. It was posted as a possibility last spring term, and I started medication last June. Of what the people I have met with say, it appears to be ADHD in recession (apparently I had it worse when I was younger and am now developing out of it), but it still affects much of my life. Medication is the main treatment for ADHD. The way I like to describe it, my ADHD gives me less concentration than other people and so I have excess energy that I have to use elsewhere. Usually this makes tasks that require concentration or willpower harder, and so I see to a certain extent how it could affect your husband in regards to eating. I have the more inattentive kind (which I describe as lowering my concentration), but I understand that the hyperactive part kind of increases energy. 

It isn't clear to me what kind of ADHD your husband has, but either way, it seems important that he get help. I'm told that most of ADHD can be solved by medication. For me, I am on a little medication and still meeting with a counselor to help figure the rest out. My experience taking medication is that it is like the boost in concentration you get when you listen to music while doing homework. I feel like it helps decrease the threshold for me to be able to concentrate, and it had made a huge difference for me being able to focus on one thing and not feel like I have to distract myself or use excess energy focusing on multiple things at a time. 

Hopefully, something here has been helpful. I can also include some YouTube channels here (I especially like this video) and here  that might be helpful, but please feel free to reach out. I'd love to help in any way that I can. <inklings(at)theboard(dot)byu(dot)edu>

Best of luck,

Inklings

A:

Dear Wife,

Your husband needs to see a therapist. He needs to consult a professional about different coping mechanisms, including taking medicine. I have quite a few friends with ADHD, and medicine makes a world of difference for them. 

This also sounds like quite a lot more than just ADHD. Again, your husband should talk with a therapist about all of these issues to find the best way to move forward.

~Anathema

posted on 02/15/2020 12:54 p.m.
Dear loving and frustrated wife,
I'm a psychiatric nurse who was not diagnosed with ADD until I was in my fifties. In my person and professional experience this is not something that usually gets better on its own.
While you're waiting for those medication and therapy appointments, two good information sources are mayoclinic.org and nami.org. I highly recommend a few couples sessions. I go to professional ADHD conferences and one expert told us that in his experience the one thing aside from medication and therapy that predicted successful lives for those with ADHD was a supportive spouse.
Two final things:
A common side effect of ADHD medication is appetite suppression. You may still be pouring cereal!
ADHD is believed to have a genetic component, so any future children have an increased possibility of having it.
It won't go away but it will get better.

--Happier and more functional now