It was 10:30am, he was supposed to be there by 9:00am to pick me up and go to the party. I called, I texted, I even sent messages to his friends. Nothing. My initial reaction was to be worried that something had happened. Was there a family emergency? Did he get in a car accident? WHERE IS HE?!
Then, he called. He forgot. Just plain forgot. He felt terrible but I didn’t care, I was annoyed – No, I was angry. How could he forget he had plans with me? Did he even care? Did he seriously just forget? I later learned that this was my first encounter with my (then boyfriend) husband’s Attention Deficit Disorder. He was diagnosed in college before we started dating. Three years of dating and five years of marriage later, I understand that he truly can’t help it and it makes him the person that I love.
The first few times it happened, it hurt. It felt like he just didn’t care. It was followed by endless nagging and more missed dates than I can count. It took a long time for me to realize that when he did these things, it wasn’t because he didn’t care. His brain has no on/off switch. It’s endlessly running. Starting something new is hard for him (especially if he’s not interested), but stopping once he’s involved is near impossible. If there’s something he is interested in that he is working on, it can feel like days before you can have an actual conversation with him and not just feel like you’re talking to a blank wall. While he has trouble concentrating, he can also be too intensely concentrated. It’s a constant battle of too little and too much.
Even though I understand it, it’s still hard. It’s hard to sit staring at the clock worrying if he will make it home in time to watch the kids so you can go to work. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only responsible one. It’s hard to come up with excuse after excuse of why you’re late to the party, again. It’s hard to have to treat him like he is a child and remind him again and again to do a simple task. It’s hard when I feel like I can’t count on him. And that hardest thing of all is not taking it personally.
While ADD can cause so much frustration, it can also make a person wildly inventive (genius even!) and sometimes downright silly. He’s locked his keys in the car while it’s still running. He’s forgotten to finish buttoning up his shirt. He’s gotten annoyed when I tried to wake him from a nap because he was having a dream on how to fix the problem he was stuck on at work. His mind never stops moving and because of that, I love him. I admire how much tenacity he has towards the things that matter most to him. He has a love so deep for both myself and our boys. Yes, he’s forgetful, but he’s also incredibly passionate. Ironically, his ADD is actually what made me fall in love with him. Yes, this girl that is obsessed with being on time and always early fell in love with a chronically late man. His spontaneous ideas and passionate nature are what make my scheduled heart soar. He thinks outside of the box and is extremely intuitive. My husband shakes me from my tightly wound rules and begs me to live in the moment.
We both know it will always be a constant struggle in our relationship but it also has taught us both so much. I know that his ADD brings with it both great weaknesses and great strengths. It’s what makes him, him. He tries to make sure he is home with ample time when I need him to be there. He tries to do things the first time I ask him. He tries to be dependable. He does his best to be everything he needs to be for me and our family.
Being married to someone with ADD will undoubtedly be hard at times. But once you understand the burden that they carry with them every hour of every day, your heart begins to soften. Compassion will slowly take the place of frustration and soon you will see into their beautiful and brilliant souls.