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Spending time with an adult ADD “expert” gave me more insight to my husband’s behavior than weeks spent reading books on marriage & ADD, months on the couch of my therapist, and years of unproductive conversations with my husband. Here is the advice she gave me over lunch:

ANGER

“Even though you may feel justified in being angry at your husband for the suffering he has caused you, the inevitable result is that both of you are hurt deeply and your indignation does nothing to help you deal with your anger.”

“You can address the root causes of anger in your relationship by giving back the responsibility for fixing ADD to the partner who has it. While at the same time, taking charge of your own happiness again.”

FORGIVENESS

“The cure for anger? – Forgiveness”

“Blame diminishes each partners ability to be empathetic – it impairs the ability to forgive – it sets up two people as adversaries rather than partners – it provides an excuse to not keep trying.”

“Forgiveness can only occur after anger and sadness have been exposed, expressed and validated.”

MOVING FORWARD

“You should allow yourself to experience sadness, because grieving for what you have not had in your marriage, up to this point, is one of the first steps toward building a new life together.”

“Both partners should grieve over what could have been, but wasn’t because of the unrecognized effects of ADD on your lives. You can’t resolve someone’s grief. Just acknowledge and empathize; don’t dismiss. Over time, grief that is acknowledged and validated will heal.”

“Seek help! A good counselor will help you focus on today’s issues rather than the past.”

HOPE

“When couples learn about ADD and work together to address problematic symptoms, life can improve dramatically.”

TREATMENT

“Deciding whether to treat ADD is the sole responsibility of the person who has it. How to respond to your husband’s decision about treatment is up to you.”

“If the your husband decides against treatment, you will be left with only unpleasant choices:”

1) force treatment
2) force change without treatment
3) give up on change but stay in the relationship                                                (which often results in depression and anger)
4) leave the relationship

MOVING ON

“Your husband might refuse treatment for ADD symptoms, essentially forcing you to “take it or leave it”

“At some point, the situation may become untenable for you and if your husband remains uninterested in treatment, expressing your own needs very clearly in the form of an ultimatum is all that will be left.”

. . . There may be an ultimatum in my future.

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I’ve been taught there are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace.
You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
Grace doesn’t try to please itself.
Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.
Accepts insults and injuries.
Nature only wants to please itself.
Get others to please it too.
Likes to lord it over them.
To have its own way.
It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.
Even when love is smiling through all things.
I’ve been taught that no one who loves the way of Grace ever comes to a bad end.
I will be true to You.
Whatever comes.
(taken from the movie, Tree of Life)

My husband has stopped speaking to me. He is angry. Feels disrespected that I would question him. Believes he is completely justified in ignoring me and giving me the “cold shoulder”. But who should really be indignant, here? . . . Me or him? . . . I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

***

Tax time. I wasn’t completely clueless. I knew our refund was usually a big one, but that was about all I knew. In the past, I would usually drop by the local H&R Block office just to sign our tax forms after my husband had spent the hour with our tax preparer pouring over W-2’s, bank statements, and 1099’s. We usually filed early, so the refund could be used to pay the property taxes . . . and the remainder of the refund went directly into my husband’s bank account. My requests for a portion of the refund to be spent on helping pay school tuition or to lower credit card balances were either ignored or not deemed “do-able”.

This year, I decided to join my husband at the appointment. As the tax preparer began filling in the form with numbers from our W-2’s, a sick feeling swept over me.

The total amount of our income was more than I imagined.

Much more.

I was aware that we received a large refund check every spring, but never realized how much we earned throughout the year.

“How could this be,” I wondered. “Where was the money going?”

Our lifestyle, in no way, reflected an income of that amount. Working part time, my salary paid the monthly bills and the kid’s expenses. My husband paid the mortgage and the groceries.

It didn’t add up.

Our combined salaries minus our expenses left sooooo much money unaccounted for . . . so much of my husband’s money.

I questioned him. Was there a secret savings account? An addictive or spending compulsion? Did he even know where the money was going? He had no reasonable answer, became defensive . . . evasive, and has not spoken to me since.

He has added this incident to his list of the ways I have “wronged” him, and yet seems incapable of acknowledging any of the ways he has done wrong to others.

Whether due to his personality, ADD, or childhood scars, life for him is viewed as a victim. He needs someone to blame in order to justify his behavior; because to accept responsibility would also mean admitting he is wrong and unreasonable for reasons having to do with his own character.

He has a fragile ego . . . I get that, but demanding authority without taking responsibility is a warped way of fulfilling Christ’s command for his role as head of our family.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

5:22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

5:25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. (the Message)

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My therapist warned me there’d be days like this. “As you grow stronger,” she cautioned, “the enemy will attack harder. He will use your husband, your children, your circumstances . . . Be ready.”

Another busy day. I had worked an evening shift and after the 45 minute commute, I was ready to crawl into bed once I got home.

My husband was still up, which should have been an indication that something was different. He usually never waited up for me when I worked late.

I had barely shut the bedroom door when he said, “I can not live under the same roof with your daughter another day. Either she moves out or I will. You choose.”

I listened to his version of how the evening unfolded without saying much. The next day, I then asked my children, who had witnessed the blow out, for their perspective.

The kids: Sissy went to the supermarket that afternoon to buy all the ingredients she needed to bake apple pies for us and 2 friends she had invited over to watch the season finale of her favorite show.

My husband: S. made a complete mess of the kitchen using our food to make a complete dinner for her friends, without even asking if it was OK with me.

The kids: When her friends arrived, Dad answered the door and told them that they couldn’t come in.

My husband: I told S. that I was not expecting company and suggested she make a different plan with her friends for the evening.

The kids: Dad told S. that he couldn’t afford to feed her friends and he couldn’t wait for her to move out.

My husband: I want her to be happy, and I told her that maybe she would be happier if she got her own place, where she wouldn’t have to follow my rules. She then starting screaming at me, saying that I’m wrong if I think my marriage and relationship with my sons will improve if she moves out. What was she talking about? What have you told her about our marriage?

She also seemed to know a lot about our finances, saying that you are the one who pays the bills around here. Basically telling me that I have no authority in my own home since I don’t contribute financially as much as she thinks I should. Is this what you are telling the kids? With you influencing them like this, no wonder they show no respect towards me.

(I felt from the beginning of this conversation that my husband had been trying to involve me in the drama of the evening, which is why I chose to just listen. But when he tried to insinuate that I was somehow responsible for it, I had to speak.)

Me: I don’t have to say a word about our marital difficulties for her to be aware that we have issues. Everyone who lives in this house KNOWS what dysfunction goes on here. As for who pays the bills, that’s no secret, either. We have all heard your endless tales of woe as to how broke you always are and can never seem to make ends meet without “help”.

The kids: The situation got out of control, and both dad & S. were yelling at each other.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Kid #5: I made myself as small as I could, so I could be invisible . . .

Kid #3: It made me feel like I want to be NOTHING like my dad when I grow up . . .

“Being a child of a “broken” home is not a label just for kids whose parents are divorced. It’s about not having two parents around that you can look up to and model your life after. It’s about not having someone see the potential in you and speak to it.”

“It’s not just about just having two parents that are still married to each other. We need more than the acknowledgement that we are the children of our parents. We need endorsement, love, and support. And most important, we need to be taught how to use the gifts we have been given.”

“Making a son tough is not a parent’s responsibility. Never telling your daughter that she’s beautiful is not protecting her. Being a parent is about being someone to show your child their place in this world then releasing them into it.”

“A father’s job is to teach his daughter what to expect from a man, and to his son, to exemplify what it takes to be a man. Otherwise, not only will our homes be broken . . . So will we.(Max – Making it MAD)

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I’ve been wrestling with God these days. Struggling with my faith and my reality. Taunted by theologies, verses and writings that cause more confusion and questions about “suffering” and it’s application to marriage. Realizing that as I am praying for God to show me His will, I have every intention of following His direction . . . as long as it does not involve further suffering or sacrifice. Wondering when my marriage will change from a trial to a testimony.

I do not know how to interpret the Truth I read and apply it to my reality.

I Peter 1:7 These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Romans 8:18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.

I Peter 2:21 This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow His steps. He never sinned and He never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried away our sins in His own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

Is my faith being tested through the difficulties I am having in my marriage? As a Christian woman, am I to continue living in these circumstances because it is what “God has called” me to do?

What have been the reasons I have tolerated my husband’s behavior all these years? Possibly my own lack of self forgiveness? Even though it hurt me and I didn’t understand it – has it been what I subconsciously believed I deserved?

“What we believe is revealed by how we live.”

What have I believed that has caused me to live with such dysfunction for so long? That I am paying for the sins of my past by living in the present with a husband who is an emotional abuser? Is that why I have never enforced consequences for his bad behavior? Feeling that divorce was “never an option”, because of my faith and the failed relationships in my past. Resolving I would make my marriage would work at all cost and hoping God would honor my steadfast commitment? Thinking that one day He would look down and say, “Enough. She has atoned for her past. She has remained faithful to Me in adversity and I will now bless the fruit of her labor.” Is that why I so desire to be hopeful that my husband will one day change . . . and that one day, I will have the marriage and family that I have dreamt of since I was a young girl?

The Truth is . . .
Life is Hard
Marriages Fail
Love is not Enough
And sometimes . . .
Faith & Commitment aren’t either
May God have Mercy on me

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I am guilty. Of many things, be assured. And in thinking about the ways I have contributed to the issues in my marriage, I acknowledge that I have been desperate in seeking the affirmation of my husband. I have been driven to gain his approval, thinking, if I could only improve myself in some way, I would stop being invisible to him. But because of the state of dysfunction I have been in, it has taken much time to realize that no amount of affirmation would ever be enough. I was letting his lack of attention determine my worth, and fell for the lie that without his approval, I was worth nothing.

“One of the most common actions of an ADD spouse is that he stops paying attention. A wife will then feel abandoned and ashamed that she is no longer attractive to her husband. But what is really occurring is the defining symptom of ADD – distraction.”

Regardless of whether a husband is intentionally ignoring his wife or being ‘distracted’, the results are the same. His actions are speaking louder than his words. The hurt caused by his behavior elicits a series of bad feelings and behaviors on her part which compound the problem.”

“Loneliness is a key component for the non-ADD spouse. It comes from many things:
1) the distraction of the ADD spouse which makes the non-ADD spouse feel ignored and unloved
2) a sense of never being heard since so many patterns of bad behavior are repeated
3) the fact that few people outside the marriage ‘see’ what is going on

After so many years of living with this cycle of behavior in my marriage, my self-worth has inevitably become a casualty. Only through this blog have I been able to realize that. And through the information that I’ve learned about ADD have I gained an understanding I did not have before. But having realization and knowledge is not where I want to stop. While I don’t think I could have reached this point without realization and understanding, I now want to heal. And as I heal, I want to become stronger, I want to move forward, not in circles, I want the realization and knowledge that my worth is given to me from God and not from man to become my reality.

I John 4:9-10 God showed how much He loved us (me) by sending His only Son into the world so that we (I) might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we (I) loved God, but that He loved us (me) and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our (my) sins.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not calamity, to give you hope and a future. In those days when you pray, I will listen.”

Psalms 139:17-18a How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

(Excerpts taken from ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov and Is It You, Me Or ADD by Gina Pera)

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“As God is my witness!”

Words that used to work in convincing me that he was telling the truth. Why would he bring “God” into our conversation if he wasn’t telling the truth? I mean, if he were using that phrase AND being dishonest, I would have expected lightning to surely come bolting out of the heavens to strike him down . . . right? But there had been no lightening . . . or had there?

When I recently caught him in a bold-faced lie and he used that phrase in his defense, while looking me straight in the eyes, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Not only did I KNOW he was lying, but his use of that phrase brought to memory every other time he had used it . . . and I couldn’t help but wonder if he had been lying those times too.

I felt scared. For myself and for him. Where was his fear of God? The One he so vehemently called on to be his Witness as he denied the accusations . . . even as I presented the proof that countered his exclamations of innocence.

I have never been a “name-caller”, but realizing that my husband was a liar and that this was probably not the first time he had been dishonest with me left me shaken. I felt like an idiot for believing his deceit as truth, when my intuition (the Holy Spirit?) had been telling me otherwise all along. Mistaking lies for truth can leave one’s mind clouded with self-doubt and confusion. Whether his behavior was intentional, compulsive, or self preserving, his deception resulted in me believing more than just the words that came out of his mouth. I began to believe what his denial of reality insinuated about me. Crazy . . . Insecure . . . Demanding . . . Suspicious.

There may not have been a visible bolt of lightning illuminating the sky that night, but denial in the face of unmistakable truth is just as jolting.

If only I had learned to recognize it sooner.

Psalms 119:66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.

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Despite the trepidation I had of telling my story from the beginning to someone who might suspect I was describing a one-sided exaggerated version of my life, I now have a new therapist.

While the results with my last therapist were far from what I had been hoping, I was disappointed to learn he was no longer available. I had been looking forward to the comfort of familiarity in sharing with someone who knew firsthand the maddening effect of my husband’s behavior. When we spoke, he was apologetic for not being able to take me back on as a client, but changes in his personal life had necessitated a change in his work schedule.

The new therapist came highly recommended and when I “googled” her, instead of feeling encouraged by her long list of degrees, qualifications and experience, I was intimidated. That feeling was further intensified when we spoke on the phone to set up our first appointment.

Then we met.

She was everything I was expecting (and dreading) her to be . . . Which turned out to be exactly what I was needing.

Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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