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Raising an ADHD husband

Updated on December 15, 2017
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I wrote these during some dark times. Putting a voice to some pain, that my family would never agree with me doing. BUT I DO IT ANYWAY!!

Patricia Arwood

She remarried, and is a suicide survivor.
She remarried, and is a suicide survivor.


In the beginning, besides their historical family tree, all I knew about my ex-husband's family's medical and developmental history was that he didn't talk until after age two. His brother had been dyslexic. The brother had issues with drugs in his teen years. That a paternal uncle had severe issues, and would never live on his own. That one grandmother had taken her life, and that the other grandmother had died of, I thought, Endometriosis. However, apparently, what really took her life was her battle with Bipolar. Therefore, these boys did not ever get the chance to meet their real grandmothers.

Life continued, and light was shed on many things.

* His maternal uncle has two boys with Autism.

* Then, his mother was diagnosed with ADHD/Bipolar disorder - And she was diagnosed AFTER some of my ex-husband's behavioral issues came to light to me. There has always been a communication issue, and a distraction issue. Impulsivity issue showed up later, and he hides the hyperactivity issue well, behind the fact that he is a runner/jogger. Either case, I will discuss some personal issues that led me to the discovery that my ex-husband has ADHD.


Ex husband's behavior

I had been told that this man had babysat three children, in which one was a newborn baby. Therefore, I thought that he could be trusted.

However, that did not stop him from:

* putting our 6 week old baby boy on his shoulders and bumping his head in a doorway. (At this age, the baby cannot even hold his head up, so why do this?)

* When I, specifically, told him to watch our eldest daughter in her pumpkin seat, as I had to go to the bathroom where there was feminine products. Instead, he followed me and our 6 week old daughter ended up on the tile floor, crying.

* It did not stop him from not watching the youngest before she left the house with the dog, after a hurricane, in which I was entertaining the two oldest with a game of Uno, because we had no power for 5 1/2 days. (Luckily, he did find her and the dog pretty quickly. I'm just glad she took the dog.)

* It did not stop him from being so distracted that he did not take care of our oldest daughter, then 7 years old, when he sent her across the street to retrieve a soccer ball in a muddy ditch. When I returned from the youngest child's soccer game, I came back to muddy shoes and socks. (Snakes could have been in that ditch.)

* It did not stop him from getting distracted and not watching our black lab at the bus stop where the dog bit a child and the child had to go to the hospital to get stitches.

These are but a few of the family issues I have had to deal with. This is quite a bit of proof to me that he has ADHD, as well as the fact that he had extreme test anxiety while in college.

Now career wise:

We found out that he got into the Officer's School program the month after our second child was born and he was heading to Nursing School. During this time, he had to borrow money from my father because he could not afford the Naval Uniforms that he needed right away, for other events. We did pay my father back.

He made it to graduation, and he went to take his NCLEX exam, for his nursing license. During this time, I am expecting child number three. He failed the test twice, and finally passed it the third time around. However, he was either so embarrassed that he hadn't passed the test yet, or as my lawyer said, "he was trying to control the situation by not giving his command that information." I told him to tell his command over and over again. He never listened. However, when his command did find out that he was practicing without a license, they gave him one more chance to pass it. If he didn't, he was getting kicked out of the Navy. He passed it.

The next incident was when our daughter made her First Communion at the Catholic Church on base. They had a celebration afterward, at another location. They had, specifically, set the drinks that we were allowed to drink for the celebration. However, that wasn't good enough for him. He started stealing soda from behind the bar. Personally, he should have known better. It was a religious event, and he's stealing. Aren't commanding officer's supposed to be role models? Out of all three of our children, he was home the most for the second child, due to his being in college. Not the child's fault, but believe me, it shows.

We had these friends that we spent a lot of time with. The husband had been through nursing school with him. They had three children, as we did. My ex-husband wanted an invite to watch some sports game at this friend's house. The friend had specifically stated that they had other plans that day. However, he continued to try and invite himself. I, later, had to tell him to stop inviting himself. It's embarrassing. I, honestly, don't think he understood what he was doing wrong. AND NOW I KNOW WHY. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I always got the feeling that his male friend from nursing school wanted to talk to me about his behavior at school. Then, it was made known that my, now, ex-husband was holding hands with a fellow female nursing student. Maybe this is what his male friend from school, whose family we spent much time with was trying to tell me.

Paying bills: Before the separation, I always paid the monthly bills. However, after the separation, he moved one state away and one weekend, when the kids went to visit him, he had a notice on his door that he was late with the rent.

The website below is an article that states ADHD is associated with communication problems.

Professor Elizabeth Nilsen, Ph.D., co-author states: “In conversation, individuals need to pay attention to the knowledge and perspective of one another.” Which he wasn't doing when he was trying to get an invite to watch the game at his friend's house. “The ability to see the perspective of the other is essential for successful communication, allowing each speaker to modify their response or reaction accordingly.”

The ability to consider another’s perspective during conversation requires cognitive resources such as retaining information for a temporary period. My now ex-husband has always had issues with retaining information. When I was in labor with our third child, the nurse, specifically, asked if I had any crowns in my mouth. He said, "no." I said, "three." Eight years of marriage, and it became apparent that he didn't even know me. One of those crowns I had put in when he had to be home to watch the kids.

Some skill areas tend to be weaker for individuals with ADHD, and may be why their communicative behavior is often more egocentric, or based on their own perspective. Which actually makes sense in both cases of his mother and himself.

When I got pregnant with my first child, it was all about my now ex-mother in law, and how she wanted to be in the delivery room. I didn't want her there. (I told her I wanted to share the experience with my, then, husband.) She got angry. (If this isn't egocentric, I don't know what is.) My own mother wasn't going to be there either. Therefore, it shouldn't have been an issue, but it was to her.

Now the cycle continues

I believe that our eldest daughter suffers from a disorder as well. Not really sure which one. The signs that I have seen:

* Out of all three children, she was the only one that had major tantruming. One time, we had family in town and we were taking a picture outside. I have the tripod set up, and everyone is in the picture with the exception of this child. Instead, she is running and screaming through the house. No matter how much I wanted her to be in the picture.

* Three different times, she chased her brother through the house with a knife, in which I had to get in between them and grab my daughter's hand. Protecting my daughter from herself, and my son from injury.

* This child is a very picky eater. She did not like the Au Gratin potatoes that I was making to go with Easter dinner. Awhile after dinner, she later told me that she spit in the potatoes that we had eaten.

Now, with, I believe, the support of her paternal grandmother, this behavior continues. My own daughter has threatened me with a restraining order, which has not come to pass. All my own parents' say is, "she's only hurting herself." However, she isn't. She's hurting both of us. She is now 20 years old. There is nothing anyone can do about her behavior now. She is now a legal adult. However, two things are likely to happen, she will either get diagnosed and get on medication. Or, the dream that she has told me she has had, in which she dies at a young age, will come to pass. (I believe she was at the same age that I was when I had the dream of having three children: one boy and two girls. Instead, she had a dream of her own death. Which my hope is that it does not come true. Because this child is beyond brilliant. The most gifted soul that I have EVER seen.) All of this just continues to prove to me that soul damage is true.

In conclusion

I know, now, why my ex-husband had such egocentric and cocky behavior. He has ADHD like his mother. Another sign is the fact that he has test anxiety, which tends to go hand in hand with ADHD. Either case, the communication problems between us continue. According to many online sites, it is not uncommon for the non ADHD spouse to be angry, but does become the demise of a marriage. It would be nice to actually get a legal or medical mediator to deal with other issues, and before the demise of our oldest daughter would be ideal. :-( I would even be willing to talk to my ex-husband's father or my children's stepmother to get this resolved.

Below are some additional websites for more information. It is surprising how many go undiagnosed, and not all ADHD people exhibit anger. My ex-husband hides the hyperactive symptom well, as he is a jogger. However, he does not hide the distractibility and impulsivity well at all. One time, we were at a military ball with the couple that I mentioned previously, his male college friend, and his wife. Well, his wife is pretty much allergic to everything. We went to the bathroom, and she saw all of these fragrance things on the wall. She was having an allergic reaction to the scents half way back to our table. She had her epi pen with her, and she told me to cover her, while she administered her allergy shot. We got back to the table, and the table started shaking due to the effects of the shot, and on impulse, my ex-husband grabbed her knee. Needless to say, she, nor her husband, who was sitting at the table, was none to pleased with his behavior. He just doesn't think about how others will perceive him.

Additional information on undiagnosed ADHD

"This acceptance can be difficult for both partners. It’s easier for an ADHD partner to say “I’ve had ADHD all my life and done fine…my spouse’s anger and frustration is the problem. And anyway, now I’m taking medication…” It’s even easier for a non-ADHD partner who, after all, has not just acquired a mental health “label.” to point a finger at the ADHD partner and conclude “There’s something wrong with you, and you are the cause of all of our problems. Find me when you fix them.”

Couples who think this way are in mutual denial. Neither admits their own role in their dysfunction and blames their partner instead. Because of their denial, they will not make personal progress, and the relationship will not change for the better. (It may well change for the worse, though, as they will become more and more impatient with their partner’s stubborn refusal to take responsibility and change!) Denial, if it continues, is much more likely to destroy their relationship than the ADHD itself."

This above scenario would be our problem. Found at the website directly below. However, his mother and my ex-husband are no longer my issue, but my daughter is. We need an answer, for her sake.

Welcome to an ADHD marriage.

"Distractibility, forgetfulness, impulsivity—when you put the symptoms of [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] into a marriage, it creates havoc," says psychotherapist Terry Matlen, author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD. "There's a lot of anger and resentment. You think your husband doesn't love you anymore, but he's completely dumbfounded because he has ADHD and doesn't have a good sense of how his behavior affects other people. Things can start to unravel pretty quickly."


The problems that confront the non ADHD person and puts strain on the relationship have to do with the nature of the disorder. For example, some of the symptoms of ADHD as specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV of the American Psychiatric Association are that the individual frequently:

1. Fails to give close attention to details and making careless mistakes.

***Major distraction from taking care of young children, which tends to make the other spouse mad. Major distraction from watching the dog, to prevent him from biting a child.

2. Does not seem to listen or hear what has been said.

***This has also been an issue. Or he would have remembered my medical information.

3. Has difficulty organizing tasks.

***I was told when the kids went to visit him at his one bedroom apartment one state away that there was a notice on his door that his rent was late.

4. Loses the things necessary to complete tasks such as pens, paper, car keys, wallet or pocket book, etc.

5. Is distracted by external stimuli of any and all types.

***Distracted by soccer game, instead of watching daughter.

***Leaving porn video sleeve out so young child(ren) can see it. (Can you imagine if the oldest would have found this and brought it to school?!?!?!)

6. Frequently forgets to do things even if they are daily activities

Website with further information on this below.

Facts about ADHD

ADHD adults are easily distracted by sight, sound and touch. (Sight - like a soccer game or sight and sound of the t.v. Touch - holding hands with a fellow nursing student.)

They can't stand waiting in lines and may try and cut in front of the line.

They have trouble anticipating the consequences of their actions. (hmmm....)

ADHD in adults can threaten families, jobs and even safety. (....and, in my case, it has threatened family and safety....Luckily the safety issues were not fatal.)

ADHD adults feel they breeze through some tasks but can't stay interested in others.

Doctors diagnose ADHD based on family, developmental and childhood history, as well as current signs and symptoms. (hmmm....)

Neurological disorders that can mimic ADHD symptoms include:

elevated blood lead levels

hypo- or hyperthyroidism (my mom has this (underactive thyroid) - blood test shows my thyroid to be normal, which had to be done when I saw the OB/GYN for cycle issues)

hearing and vision impaired (my dad has this - both of them. Back in the day, they didn't recommend protecting your ears, working with machinery. My father also has Macular Degeneration, or what is called, "wet eye." He started taking something called "Eagle's Eye three times a day, which appears to be making his eye sight better. Here's hoping that continues.)

Many adults with ADHD turn to coffee for its stimulating effect. They become caffeine abusers, drinking excessive amounts each day. (Wonder if Monster would give the same effect? I stay away from caffeine, as it can cause migraines. Plus, it depletes my iron, when I have iron deficiency anemia, and I am on prescribed iron pills solely for this condition.)

Stop making excuses for ADD/ADHD

Update: In working with an ADHD client, I felt the need to add more information about ADHD.

In my assessment of a client, as well as a conversation with his parent; I confirmed how the client came up with excuses for his impulsive behavior to the point of blaming others for his shortcomings. He even went so far as to lie about other things. Which I think he probably fooled himself into believing his own story.

People standing around and not acting when other people are doing the wrong thing, is doing the wrong thing. We each have the responsibility to take a stand and say stop. We call people heroes when they step in to help someone being victimized in a crime. Taking this personal responsibility is looking at ourselves honestly and owning our actions. (If you know a crime is going to occur and you do nothing about it, you can be held accountable in a court of law.)

Most of life, your mother will not be there to make excuses to. The only one you need to be honest with, is yourself. Some days with ADHD can feel like a series of impulsive disasters. You do not make them better by shoving mistakes under the rug with lame excuses. The key to living, successfully, with ADHD is facing your mistakes and working to avoid them in the future. When you start giving honest explanations for your behavior, instead of excuses for them, you give yourself the information you need to avoid that problem in the future.

Don't make excuses for ADHD. You need to be honest with yourself and keep on track.


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