Nancy’s Story

I am the non-ADD spouse in a ‘mixed marriage.’ My husband is wonderful, exciting, curious, intelligent, loving, sexy, caring man. Actually, he is everything I could ever want in a partner! Unmedicated, he was still that – about 20% of the time. The rest of the time he was just unpredictable.

I never knew when helping him look for things or remember appointments would actually be helpful or if he would end up becoming frustrated with me too. He was extremely sensitive to sound – I would have the TV on almost mute and he still could not concentrate on the newspaper in the next room. Smells, esp tobacco, would cause him to abruptly leave a restaurant or at the very least, complain the whole time we were there. He had an extremely volatile temper and would lash out unexpectedly and very cruely about things that had perhaps happened days, or even months ago, and then, just as quickly, switch gears and ask about dinner plans, not realising how badly he’d hurt the kids or me.

We visited many marriage counselors. The last actually chewed us out for wasting his time when we were so hopeless! As you can imagine, our thirteen year marriage was all but over a year ago when I finally heard about Adult ADD on a radio program. Light bulbs went on all over the place. I bought a number of books and took them to him, begging him to read the highlighted paragraphs. Finally he promised to look at them. He saw himself, in Driven to Distraction’s description of ADD people “not being comfortable” in their own bodies. He saw a specialist, was diagnosed, and began taking Strattera. He realized that although he is a very high-functioning professional ADD adult, he did not outgrow ADD.

I realized that instead of needing my help, he needs my support – and there’s a big difference! That allowed me to release myself, step back and work on the co-dependent behavior I’ve picked up over the 13 years we’ve been married.

Medication, combined with the enlightenment that came with diagnosis, has made a night and day difference for both of us. We are happier than I ever thought possible. He can now read, and tune out distractions better and can get his work done in about half the time it took him before. He can even relax with me on the patio evenings!Best of all, his temper problem has faded to almost nothing. In the movie The Big Lebowski, the Dude has a line where he says, “No you’re not wrong, you’re just an A**&^%.” Tedd’s reason for anger was not necessarily wrong, but he was an ______. Now he can be angry and we can disagree, but he doesn’t take the tip into jerk. This is so freeing for both of us!

I want to encourage everyone, especially marriage counselors, to educate themselves about ADD. If you’re the ADD spouse, don’t just take your meds. Please, take the time to help your partner understand what you’re going through. Give them materials to read and read them together.