ADD and marriage. Something to think about.

///ADD and marriage. Something to think about.
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ADD and marriage. Something to think about. 2011-05-08T19:00:32+00:00

The Forums Forums For The Non-ADD I Married An ADDer ADD and marriage. Something to think about.

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  • #89546
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    Wgreen
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    Post count: 445

    There are many posts on this forum from people who have had serious problems with an ADD/ADHD spouse or partner. Some of the stories people tell are truly heart-rending. Alas, I have no expert advice to offer there, but it got me thinking. So, I’m going to stir the pot.

    It seems to me these tales beg a question: should people who suffer from ADD/ADHD, particularly severe cases, consider a celibate (unmarried) life? In some US states, people with severe mental handicaps are not allowed to marry. There appear to be three main reasons: 1) to prevent abuse, 2) because of questions over whether they are competent to enter into a contract (which effectively is what legal marriage is), and 3) because of their ability, or lack thereof, to provide and care for their children, some— if not many—of whom will have their own challenges.

    Clearly, I don’t expect any state or Canadian province to outlaw ADD marriage—for all sorts of reasons. But the question remains: if you KNOW you have ADD/ADHD, should you enter into a life-long contract that includes important covenants you know you’ll have trouble keeping?

    Now I know that people these days define their own relationships and even write their own wedding vows. Old templates have long since been discarded. For example, we all learned months ago that the word “obey” was redacted from the royal wedding script. What remains true is that most marriages come with some list of expectations—loyalty chief among them (though not always). These expectations may be publicly proclaimed, privately discussed, or merely assumed. But whatever the case, when these expectations are not met, problems ensue.

    Every relationship has its own dynamics, but most are built on some agreed notion of fairness, of partnership, of shared responsibility.

    So, to circle back around, if some neurological disorder prevents one party from upholding her/his end of whatever bargain, should that bargain ever be struck in the first place?

    I’ll make the following prediction: in the not-too-distant future, ADD/ADHD will be grounds for annulment even in the Catholic Church. How so? Because the argument will be made that one party (the ADDer) was never mentally competent to perform the duties/resposibilities of marriage. You watch.

    One would hope that love could trump these issues. It is the “glorious intangible.” But an argument also can be made that love should motivate some ADDers graciously to step aside and let others—people who might be able to be better spouses—eventually marry the persons they adore.

    Under any circumstances, if you have debilitating ADD/ADHD and know it, and meds haven’t completely solved the problem, it seems to me you have an obligation to inform a potential partner so s/he can read up on what s/he (and any potential children) might be facing going down the road. Then cross your fingers and hope for the best.

    NB. I am not for a second suggesting that people already in difficult marriages should run out and get a divorce. Marriage is certainly worth tenaciously defending. I’m just suggesting that caution and charity on the front end might help avoid disaster later on.

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    #103775
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    Curlymoe115
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    Post count: 206

    How about in the scenario where both partners have ADHD should they then consider a marriage knowing going in that neither is going to be perfect and that they can only try their best. Both DH and I have ADHD, but our symptoms are different and we are able to support one another and understand that neither of us will ever be perfect.

    Of course we had children and both of our children are also ADHD along with multiple co-morbid disabilities that mirror our own and our families. So you could say that because we are both ADHD from families parented by two ADHD parents on each of our sides, each side was parented by two ADHD families. Along with all the co-morbids until you came to our children who can be seen as a microcosm of all the polluted genes that they have. This is exactly why they sterilized people with major developmental disabilities so that the genes were not carried on, even though there is now no evidence that 2 developmentally delayed people will have a developmentally delayed child. But DH and my family mirror one another to a large extent. We each had a grandfather who had Anitsocial Personality Disorder, there is plenty of Bi-polar in each side of the family. There were multiple members with social and situational disorders, lots of addictions, and on and on. ADHD runs rampant through the family so it is unsurprising that the large proportion of the people have it and that it is passed down to each successive generation. When dh was younger it was blamed on his red hair. For myself I was just hyper and of course I would grow out of it. I have a brother who was also diagnosed with ODD which later becomes Antisocial and so we were only a little surprised when our oldest daughter was diagnosed with it at age 5.

    So knowing these things should we advise our children to be sterilized, or suggest that they never form any attachments because of what could happen should they have children. It is a problem but one which even with our history gives no guarantees if they meet and marry “normals” they will pass these on to their children. Maybe if they were to develop blood tests they could tell if there fetus is likely to have a number of the co-morbids and ADHD that our children have. If they are going to develop these conditions maybe they will have developed a system where these kids can be raised to be normal and break the cycle that we ourselves have never been able to be. But for the most part I am happy with the way my brain functions. I wish that I had a little more organization and could part with things. I wish I didn’t have as many social anxieties as I do and could function better in “normal” society but I can grasp concepts and ideas much easier because my brain is much more flexible than most “normals”. My bi-polar is more manic then depressive, and I do not often get angry (of course when I start “seeing” red look out) and am usually happy go lucky. In a crisis I am level headed and can strategize with the best of them. So maybe because I am not “normal” I didn’t stress as much as others about my children. Yes they were both born Oppositional Defiant, and we went through the teenage years starting when they were 5 or 6. When our oldest got into serious addictions I searched out and found programs to get them in. Tough love is for “normals” not ODD children so we had to protect our kids even from themselves not throw them out the door and let them sleep in the cold, so maybe there is a reason that I was made the way I was. At least I believe there has to be a reason. (As for our kids marrying normals they seem to be biologically drawn to ADHD and co-morbid people, so is that nurture or nature, tough question) :-)

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    #103776
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    Well……..wow……..huh………..hmmmmmm……………………………I…….I …I……..I don’t know what to say. Is this dark humour…..?? It can’t be a serious post………………. can it???? Nawww……your pullin our legs right???? You have to be…..but you had me going??

    Wow….I thought for a moment it was serious, boy the last time I saw doctrine like that was from a short toothbrush mustached dude from Germany. I think he had a plan for a pure race as well. Hmmm….you folks are funny!!!! I actually checked the calender to see if it was April 1st.

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    #103777
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    Wgreen
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    Post count: 445

    Now, now. No ad hominem attacks. I plainly stated that no jurisdiction in the US or Canada would ever outlaw ADD marriage “for all sorts of reasons.” And I’m certainly not advocating any official public policy. All I suggested was an exercise of personal discretion.

    What I see on this site (and others) are large numbers of spouses who’ve had it with ADD/ADHD partners. They can’t take it anymore. They type HELP!!!! in their headlines.

    So how do we respond to these people’s utter frustration? They deserve our compassion, ¿no? We can’t say, “Hey, we are what we are and you need to deal with it, even if it drives you out of your mind and into bankruptcy,” can we? I guess I’m not the kind of guy who thinks we have a right to happiness at the cost of somebody else’s sanity. I understand that many respond well to medication and coaching. Great! Go ahead and say “I do.” But others are not so fortunate, for whatever reason.

    My thesis is simply this: If your ADD/ADHD is severe enough that it presents such symptoms as, say, frequent bouts of violent temper, financial squandering, compulsive gambling, lying, promiscuity, and/or an inability to hold down a job (among other things), you should see if you can muster some charity and refrain from imposing your dysfunction on another person, even if you love her/him—unless that person knowingly signs on for a life on a relentless roller coaster.

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    #103778
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    It takes two for any relationship to work. Both need to be understanding and accepting for things to work regardless of any other complications. When relationships don’t work it is because one or both feel they have lost the respect or trust of the other. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, the cause of this disconnect is the important piece of information in my world.

    When one person stops trying or caring it’s an emergency for the relationship. The person Yelling for help isn’t being heard and likely hasn’t been heard for a while. Yes there are MANY posts like this on any forum that discusses marriage, not just this one, that leads me to think it is about the choices people make from second to second and how open they are and not about any emotional or psychical short coming they or their partner has.

    The help messages BTW are generated by both sides of the ADD relationship almost equal at that. The ADD’er isn’t heard, the non-ADD’er can’t cope, or vise-versa. Bottom line is that the communication is broken and someone needs to step up.

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    #103779
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    shutterbug55
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    I read this post, and reread it. I thought about it and I have had to wait for a while so I can organize my thoughts. At first I thought you were joking, then I thought you were out of your mind, and now I think you are serious and I am ready to address your points.

    In my experience, ADD or not, I have seen people who are completely unfit as parents. These are people who should have NEVER reproduced. Weather I fall into that category, I don’t know. Since my wife and I adopted all our children, we went through several rounds of evaluations to see if we were “suitable” parents who will provide a safe environment for the children. Had we had our own, the only requirement for parenthood, would be if we could fog a mirror.

    As far as genetics goes. Yes we pass ADD on to our sons and daughters. Is this a debilitating condition? Sometimes, it would seem so, but there are so many positives that FAR out weigh the negatives. We and society have to adapt and learn how to tap into that vast potential, instead of squashing it by trying to make us conform. We are not like “normal” people out there; we think differently and the world is ordered for the majority of people out there. It is out of sync with how we deal with it.

    For some of us, we need coaches and a support system to mesh with society. We take medication, go to counseling and we try to adapt. Society is adapting as well. Not fast enough to suit me, but hopefully fast enough to suit our children.

    For us to marry and have children, it is a personal choice. If the government wants to test me and evaluate me as a “good” parent. Great. Let’s do it for everyone. let’s license people for parenthood. Governments don’t want to do that. They don’t want to take away that choice, except in the most extreme cases. Because once they do, it starts them down a very slippery slope.

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    #103780
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    Wgreen
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    Post count: 445

    What did i say?

    1) I understand that many respond well to medication and coaching. Great! Go ahead and say “I do.”

    and

    2) “… And I’m certainly not advocating any official public policy. All I suggested was an exercise of personal discretion.”

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    #103781
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    cakat01
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    Post count: 11

    Without those people who have ADD/ADHD, the world would not have some of the wonderful technology, art, books and movies that we have. Everyone has issues that they have to deal with in life. ADD/ADHD is not a severe mental handicap.

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    #103782
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    Wgreen
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    “ADD/ADHD is not a severe mental handicap.”

    Really? Then what YOU have and what I have are not the same thing. What I have is a debilitating neurological disorder. There’s nothing “wonderful” about it.

    It has been suggested before by some members of this forum that perhaps we need two bulletin boards: one for people who have a hard time finding their keys and reading a book, and another for people whose lives have been turned upside down since childhood by an insidious disorder.

    It’s clear that many forum members are talking about apples and oranges. That makes conversation difficult.

    But Cakat01, you do bring up an interesting point:

    It is true that many ADDers have made enormous contributions to the arts. Many of those artists also have led tormented lives. Vincent van Gogh reportedly cut off his ear so he’d stop hearing voices. I don’t know that VVG had ADD. Even if he did, I think it’s certain he also suffered from something else even more sinister. But was his fabulous art worth his personal hell? I don’t know. (It should be noted that many people without ADD/ADHD are also amazingly creative.)

    But let me be clear. Perfectly clear. I’m not talking about creating a world that is “ADDfrei.” My point is simply this: If one has a severe neurological disorder that, for whatever reason, is difficult to mitigate, a disorder that stands in the way of having a true, loving partnership, then PERHAPS one should consider refraining from making covenants one can’t keep (unless your significant other is fully aware of your handicap and doesn’t care.) Some, above, have called that Naziism. I call it an act of charity. In any event, I’m not talking about everybody with ADD/ADHD—just a subset. And you know who you are.

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    #103783
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    “perhaps we need two bulletin boards: one for people who have a hard time finding their keys and reading a book, and another for people whose lives have been turned upside down since childhood by an insidious disorder.”

    HAHAHA. Based on that we would actually need two groups: One for those that manage their symptoms but still need help and a Second for those that haven’t and are afraid to move on. Equally as irrational and pointless, in my opinion.

    IMHO ADD/ADHD is not the same for everyone. Nature/Nurture or experience vs inexperience, being open to ideas or not will impact how you feel and deal with your issues. If you were raised in an environment with lots of examples of how to be successful you have a better chance of being successful too. As ADD/ADHD is genetic and if you have it most of the males in your family’s tree likely do to, the question is are they all like me or not and is that a bad thing? In my family most of the males on both sides have this, all are moderately successful but have issues with focus, drive, sensation and attention seeking behaviour, authority…. Nobody has escaped the lower-middle, job, income, successes. Some are worse, some are better, and for one chronic cannabis use since early high school has turned his ADHD into a major personality disorder. No drive, 32, lives at home, works and smokes. Not going to improve his quality of life or chance of success sitting on his butt in his parents home being coddled.

    I’m 10 years older and had all the same issues growing up without the benefit of a diagnoses. My cousin knew and has chosen to let it be a handicap rather then an opportunity to change his life. I’m also breaking out of the family mold. It’s far from easy, but the more I learn the more it becomes a part of me and it gets easier.

    You can decide to enter a relationship and work on it or not. You can also decide to avoid relationships or not. They are not mutually exclusive. People make this choice all the time, sane or not. ;)

    Cheers.

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    #103784
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    As ADD/ADHD isn’t a severe mental handicap, I have to say that as long as your partner knows what he/she is getting in to, then why should you not marry? No one is perfect, ADD or not. I can say it out loud that I for example would be a whole lot better for a future wife then a “normal” person beating her instead. In relationships it’s more of a personality type, NOT a handicap. If you say it is, then you are just making excuses.

    Let me give an example to why I don’t see ADD/ADHD as a disorder: Where women all mentally handicapped before they had a right to vote, or was the structure of the society wrong? If you say the latter, at least consider how you would do in an environment similar to the stone age (when hunters not farmers), would you in that scenario call a person with ADD/ADHD handicapped or a benefit for the group? Depression as the most obvious example would be a disorder today and in the stone age.

    Have a good communication with your partner(s) and you’re on! Live instead of impairing yourself.

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    #103785
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    Going by that logic, it would be stating no one should get married because most people have at least one form of mental issue or another. (depression, alcoholism, sociopathy, etc…) this kind of thinking has no basis in real life because each individual case will always be different. In my case, I have the combined type with little or no structure my day tends to fall apart and nothing gets done. My wife however provides the structure I need to get through the day and because I have more energy and work faster at most things than she does I make sure everything we need gets done. Therefore we have a symbiotic relationship that we both need to varrying degrees. Work tends to be a different story where I have to provide myself with the motivation and push to get through the day and of course I have an attrocious work history, yet when I started my own business in something I am interested in I have shown alot more adaptation and self motivation than most of my non-ADHD peers.

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    #103786
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    Bibliophile
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    Post count: 169

    Marriage and having children are two different issues. I have no issue with people with severe ADHD getting married as long as their spouse recognizes their nature going in of course. However, should an ADHD sufferer have children? I myself considered this. I think if the debilitating nature of the disorder is such that the ADHD person would be a poor parent or that the children would be raised in an unsafe environment, please DON’T have kids. While ADHD can be a very severe problem, it is not in the same league in terms of limited abilities as Down syndrome, autism, and many other disorders. So I think it is up to the discretion of the would-be parent to decide whether they wish to pass along the disorder to the next generation or not. They could certainly adopt if they choose.

    I too think that there is so much disagreement on this board because of the vast variation in the severity of the executive function impairment.

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    #103787
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    Hey Wg………you got folks talkin!!! How can that be a bad thing??? It’s good to put a position out there, turn it on it’s ear, look at it from the bottom up or insideout…good stuff!!! I understand……. ya had me thinking earlier….. “what the hell” and that is great. Thank-you!! I’ve enjoyed this post.

    toofat

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    #103788
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    klmillscats
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    Post count: 28

    Wow, quite a powerful post. But why stop with ADHD? What about those who have addictions such as alcohol, shopping, gambling, etc, who also may not uphold their marriage vows? What about the autistic? Where do you draw a line toward social purity? The truth is that every marriage is unique and takes on a life of it’s own. And as for our children, when you consider the orchestra of miracles required to result in a health child, there are no guarantees even in the most humanly perfect situations. I married what I thought was a very scatter brained man, who was and is extremely intelligent. I simply considered him a bit eccentric, and we adjusted our life accordingly. When our daughter was in 4th grade, teacher suggested we have her tested. As the counselor educated us about ADD and described symptoms, we realized she was describing my husband as well as my daughter.I think learning this has actually strengthened our marriage in that we allow a bit more latitude for those things that could be attributed to his ADD, as well as my reaction to them. We’ve been best friends for 30 years, and it just gets better. Meanwhile, our daughter is now 25 and in a very good relationship with a man who is also ADD, both very intelligent, and refer to their past relationships as boring. May God Bless marriage in all it’s shapes and forms.

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