The Diagnosis that Saved Our Marriage

We sat in the doctor’s office, waiting quietly for a man we had never met with several qualifications on his wall to enter the room.  I couldn’t help but recall the long emotional road we had traveled to be here.

I was hoping for some sort of magical explanation as to why our typical marriage seemed so difficult.  Typical as in, we loved each other, had good jobs, two great kids, normal life, yet daily happenings were magnified.

It was like driving a semi up a mountain.

My husband does not disagree.  He would ask why we often butted heads, why ‘life had to be so hard‘ and had also noticed the almost every other day pattern of outbursts.  Something minor would cause him to veer off course, he would overreact, I would get upset, he would apologize. Each and every week.

It was like shutting your hand in the door, but not getting out of the way next time.  After a while, it hurts.

He hurt because he didn’t know why he would react in that manner. (Impulsivity + Heightened Emotions)

I hurt because his reactions didn’t match the event that occurred, and I was often the sounding board. I couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t just stop this behavior?

Over the years, resentment had grown as I watched my husband struggle to get out of bed on weekend mornings.  When kids are young, it’s nice to share the parenting yet I often felt like a single-Mom when I wasn’t.  My husband’s lack of focus in our marriage was replaced with easy distractions, such as boredom with our furniture, resulting in rearranging the living room.  Not a big deal until he decided we needed a new couch.  New kitchen appliances.  An entire new basement (drywall, anyone?), a fancy car we didn’t need with a huge monthly payment, and well, you get the idea.

Trying to talk him out of last-minute purchases was like trying to talk our teenager into giving up his cellphone.

He often had the paperwork already filled out, and other times, had already signed off on the purchase.  One time, just before the Super Bowl, he suggested getting a large-screened television because he had discovered a great ‘deal.’

I said it wasn’t necessary.  He disagreed.

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I also tried using a phrase my father repeated when trying to teach me about responsibility.  He would say, ‘Honey, you do what you think is BEST.’ Of course, he meant GO AHEAD, BUT THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES. I tried that form of reverse psychology on my husband.

An hour later he called to say the TV would be delivered by 5 PM.

I can laugh about it now, but it took a few years.

Another time, we had celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends, only to return home and have an argument over something small (ex: I made plans to have dinner with my parents the following day, but he had planned to clean out the garage) escalate into something bigger.  He was raising his voice, not doing a great job of keeping quiet with kids already in bed, and I remember feeling like a balloon that was losing its air.

Things that should be so simple were often giant challenges.

After years on the hamster wheel, someone suggested that maybe, just maybe, my husband has similar struggles as our sons: ADHD & Anxiety.  Not sure why I hadn’t thought of that before.  I mean, certainly seemed possible.  Here I was so close to the issue that I hadn’t even made the connection.

My husband, just as exhausted (more so, really), agreed to talk to a doctor.

So, there we sat, with the doctor who asked every question you can imagine: What kind of student was my husband as a child, did he recall getting disciplined by teachers or at home, how did he sleep, what challenges did he have at work, etc.  The information he gathered as well as our children’s history gave the doc a good idea where we were heading.

‘All of the red flags are there,’ he told us.

Next up was a 3-hour computer test for my husband (brutal when you struggle to stay focused) and the doctor later suggested that ADHD was the proper diagnosis.  I recall questioning it, explaining that my husband isn’t hyper. Turns out, ADHD that goes untreated as a child leaves an adult feeling overwhelmed in later years.  And by the time they are older, they’ve learned how to compensate for the extra energy and what is tolerated among their peers.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my husband’s diagnosis was about to be the safety net our marriage needed.

A total game-changer.

To hear how we turned things around following my husband’s diagnosis, read HERE.

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