Q&A Did My ADHD Create Vulnerability for My Spouse?

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I've not found anything on the site regarding ADHD and how much or often it plays a role in infidelity. Most would expect that the unfaithful would likely be the one with ADHD, but I feel that 20yrs of dealing with my undiagnosed, then misunderstood ADHD left my husband 'dying on the vine' as you mention in the EMSO orientation, and thus more vulnerable. Any insight or advice?



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I would be interested in

I would be interested in seeing a survey done on the site, regarding ADHD. For those who have it, if they were the betrayed or the unfaithful, how long they've been married – betrayed with ADHD versus unfaithful with ADHD, for the spouses of the betrayed with ADHD – how many felt like they were "dying on the vine". It would also be interesting to put a survey on the forum for betrayed spouses, with A rudimentary inventory of ADHD traits, for those who may have it, but be undiagnosed.

I sometimes read the material as if I were the unfaithful

In going through the EMSO material, there have been so many times that I could have read the material as if I was the unfaithful it seems. My husband doesn't seem to understand this, but it makes sense to me. Just this past week, with the empathy building exercise, I felt I could have easily written out 40 costs to my husband, that my ADHD/behavior cost him. I even rewrote one of your paragraphs from your interview and the orientation week – "eventually if there's no meaningful engagement from his mate, he'll quit complaining and grieve the loss of his relationship. His emotions freeze and go numb. For him it's just too painful to continue to take the risk of connecting if he always feels rejected. Who wants to want someone if you're not wanted in return? When the complaining stops, his heart has detached and he becomes vulnerable to someone who will relationally engage. He generally carries deep resentment toward her that he's been unable to resolve. Now he's vulnerable. All he needs is opportunity, because the need is certainly there. He's given up on the fact that his wife will give him love and respect." The feelings of rejection and resentment and not being loved, that I feel are related to my ADHD, are entrenched in him; they are part of his "historical lens".
It's hard on the spouse of a person with ADHD, when they were the object of their spouse's hyperfocus, in the dating and honeymoon phases of their relationship, and then their hyperfocus those shifts elsewhere. It is also very hard on them, when children come into the picture, And their ADHD wife shifts into hyperfocus on the children. Also, in my own experience, a major undiagnosed illness became an enormous point of hyperfocus for me, while trying to figure out what the doctors could not.
I am absolutely CONVINCED that my ADHD has played a major role in my husbands sadness, loneliness, etc. for the past 15+ years. My husband is not. He believes my actions were based on how I felt, and if I felt differently, I.e. if I loved him, my actions and behavior would have reflected that. When the book said, "as humans our actions don't always reflect our motives. Who of us hasn't had times when we ended up doing something we didn't want to do? This is in no way an excuse for hurtful actions, nor am I saying we're not responsible for the wounds we cause others. But our behaviors frequently fail to reflect our hearts.", my mind wasn't thinking about my husband's betrayal, my mind was saying, "this is what I've been trying to tell my husband, with regards to my ADHD, etc.!?!"

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-D, Texas