Anger and communications

This is about anger and communications.


I am an ADDer married to a non.  Just read your book ADHD effect on Marriage.  Very good information from the ADHD side.  Most of the information my wife sends me is all about the ADHD person and very little about the non.  This was a great two sided discussion.


I have two problems that need a response.  First is the idea that all her anger is about and directed to me and that she has no stake in the relationship.  I understand that my ADHD has affected her life in many ways, but she doesn’t think “I Get It” and understand the idea that I am the cause of many of the issues we have.  As I think I have been trying to work with my ADHD: medicine and therapy, she constantly tells me that I do not understand the issue.  So I ask her what actions or words she is expecting to hear or see to believe that I do a starting understanding of the effects?  In anger all she can say is that it is a feeling she will have when she believes “I Get It”.  In another sentence she says I will never get it.


She is very good at telling me all the items I am doing wrong, or actions I have done in the past to cause the issues, but very limited in working together to set steps to help us move forward on working with my ADHD.  She mentions over and over that for many years she has been trying to get me to understand and has no more energy to do so and that it has taken too long for me to even start to understand the issues.


I explain that I am working on my steps to help with my ADHD.  Every try I make I get shut down and nothing gets better.  How do I get her to understand that I am trying, but obviously incorrectly, so I try differently, still no success or even validation that I am making any progress?


Second issue is that of communications.  I am told I do not interpret what she says correctly, and when I try to ask questions to understand what her intent was, I am told I should already know as we have been together for many years.  So I ask what I should do: act on my own interpretation of the conversation, or explain what I thought I heard and ask questions about it, which is also wrong, or just say nothing, which is also wrong?  I am at a loss of what to do?


If the ADHD person won’t understand or interpret conversation properly, what do we do to help to correct that issue?  This seems to be a dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t scenario.


There are many other issues, but these two will do in this conversation.


Ideas or help?

Forums: 

On the communication issue,

On the communication issue, let me say KUDOS to you for at least trying to acknowledge and believe that you may be interpreting her wrong. This happens, so please don't take this lightly. There is a tendency (for example, in my marriage) where everything I say is taken somehow in a very negative way even when most people would never interpret what I was saying in that way. Not sure this is the specific issue for you and your wife, but maybe the 'example' will help. I tell my husband this issue exists in our marriage, but I am fairly certain he either does not believe me or is just not willing to admit it. Many of my actions, feelings, and words are taken in the most negative way humanly possible. I feel like he thinks I am the enemy. I feel like he does not know me at all. I feel sad to think that I cannot make it clear to him about some things...because he has made his mind up that I am just absolutely wrong and he sees no way to mesh the two realities together...agree to disagree, so to speak.

SOOO, having said all of that...believe your wife when she tells you that you're taking things wrong. When she starts to shut down and get angry and say things like "you should know this after all these years" say "I appreciate why you feel that way, and I truly do wish that I did know this, but I really need and want your help. I want to understand but please understand I need your help. Me not knowing after all these years, doesn't mean I don't care...it just simply means I need more clarification than most people and more reinforcement" Don't be defensive, and don't give up. She needs to understand about ADHD as much as you do. You can really help her understand by explaining why things are an issue for you..versus saying "explain that to me again."

When you get the ADHD diagnosis, it is like being handed a second chance at life. You finally know what you're dealing with. You finally know why she feels like she's been unable to get you to understand all of these years. BUT...now that you do know, you have to take on everything from a different lens. She cannot hold against you what you could not control. Try to explain to her, even get some professional intervention if necessary, but help her understand that ADHD is a neurological disorder and not something you could control or change on your own. There were/are reasons you couldn't 'get it'. That is where counseling, therapy, and meds help.

Good Luck!

Sherri

And be sure to both read the

And be sure to both read the ADHD and Marriage book by Melissa. I'm not sure where I read it but I keep hearing (in my head) over and over that "if one person had add/adhd then we all have it". I think i am taking that to mean that we all in the family are still reacting in the add/adhd coping strategies that have been learned from years of the "crazy, defensive, fight" reactions. It's learned, and since we have learned to defend ourself from the add'er, we have learned how to "protect" ourself in the add'er "way". I am still reacting to things in a very defensive and hostile manner. No matter what he says or how he says it. I hear it and feel it, but did not mean for it to come out that way and now i cringe at each interraction. I am still reeling and processing from years and years with adhd dh. He is currently doing the "work" and i am sorry to say, it's not yet cut through the massive steel walls i have built. I have to say, this weekend I CLEARLY saw the dis-connect happen. He was short tempered with our son, our son was yelling in frustration because dh was not "registering" what our son was saying. I jumped in and asked what was different because clearly something was wrong and i asked about his meds. Well, he said since we cant afford to pay the 700.00 for a 3 month supply for 1 particular med (he is on two), the doctor changed his meds to a less expensive one (500.00). I saw it first hand and felt so awful for him, we talked about it and i said to not worry the rest of the day, we get it and to relax. Then, i swear, maybe an hour later i was feeling angry again. All i can offer is, i am still processing. Maybe your wife is too?

Anger & Communication

I strongly agree with Sherri's post.  

I have also noticed it seems many times when one of us doesn't understand something the person talking will say exactly the same thing over and over again.  We finally recognized that saying the same thing ten times or just louder doesn't make the point come across any more clearly.   An important sentence for us has become, "I don't understand.  Use different words".  It slows the speaker down as they think about another way to say it and gives the listener another chance at understanding the point.

We now recognize that sentence as a danger signal as well.  If one of us is using it we know the frustration level is rising so tack it back and let's deal with this without a fight.  With both dread arguments so it makes us hit the brakes.

Somewhere on here I read that if the ADHD person was tense their ability to correctly interpret the information became worse.  As well I have noticed that if my bf is agitated he will start talking....alot.  It was making me shut down trying to communicate because of the frustration of going against the tide of words.  Is this true for you?

 

You say that she has a problem with you interpreting her

You say that she has a problem with you interpreting her incorrectly.    Is there any chance that this is about the interpreting at all?  Cause I was thinking of posting on this subject simply because it is an issue that we have.  I ask my husband to do something, he interprets why I want it done or what he thinks I really mean, he does the thing he has interpreted and it generally has very little to do with what I actually asked.

 

We've had many conversations about this.  Many people with AD/HD seem to be constantly and frantically *filling in the blanks* of parts of conversations that they have missed, zoned out of, don't understand why you are asking so they need to come up with a reason? I am not sure, but it makes me furious.  I tell him over and over that there is no need for him to 'figure out what I mean' because I just told him what I meant, and I am happy to answer questions if he is confused on some point of what I meant.  I hate him filling in the blanks on his own because frankly he misses the mark way too frequently for me.

Course you also said that your non ADD wife isn't ok with you asking questions because you should already know and/or she feels like she's already answered that question a million times.  This is a valid way for her to feel because she honestly probably has told you a lot, BUT that attitude will never actually help your situation.   THIS kind of thing is why she needs to read and research because then she'll more clearly see her part in causing the communication breakdown that you experience.

I think a helpful thing to do in this situation is "drive through talking" where she asks you to do something, and then you respond with "I am hearing that you want to me to X, is that correct?"  She will then tell you that you are correct or incorrect.  If she explains again what she is asking, then you repeat what you are hearing/understanding.  This helps in a couple ways

1.  You are on the same page before the convo ends and

2.  As you start to see where you tend to misunderstand or misinterpret what she is saying, maybe you will notice patterns in how you tend to hear things vs how she is saying them or means them. 

Other couples here use email to make requests of each other and/or to confirm what needs to be done.  This is because many people with ADD prefer having something written verses only taking it in verbally.  This is way too awkward for us, but it works for many.   You need to find what works for you AS A COUPLE, and she can't be a bystander in that type of decision.

 

Right now she may just be standing back to see how seriously you take this before getting involved.  While her reactions to ADD behavior are likely causing as much damage as the ADD behavior, that is almost impossible to see until some of the behavior starts clearing out.  As the behaviors stop the bad coping mechanisms on both sides to deal with those behaviors will start being clarified.

 

HANG IN THERE!!  She loves you or she wouldn't still be there fighting for your marriage in the ADD trenches :)

Interpreting

I once asked my guy "why don't you answer the question I ask?"   E.g., do you know what time it is?  His answer "I'm not hungry yet." 

His answer to the above was "I answer the question you meant to ask." 

I have no .... words.... speechless....

We have this problem too

I have tried explaining why I need him to something. He parses that like a college grammar teacher and tries to figure out ways that he can get out of doing it. The latest crack up about moving the stuff in front of the washer is an example. I knew that, if the appliance guy could fix the washer, he'd need to turn it on its front so he could get to the back. So I told him, move everything you've left in front of the washer. He moved one basket so the guy could put one foot in front of the washer and balance. He couldn't fix it that way.

I wanted him to wash the dishes last night. He said, it doesn't have to be done tonight. The dishwasher takes about 3 hours to run and we had no clean plates. How were we supposed to eat breakfast in the morning? (We're southern; we do a full cooked breakfast, no cold cereal for us) So I did the dishes.

He measures the amount of work I do with the amount I do with Talmudic precision. It apparently doesn't matter that I work and he does not. It also doesn't matter that I'm handicapped. He won't consider doing 51% of the work.

Communication requires two

Communication requires two people. 

 

"She is very good at telling me all the items I am doing wrong, or actions I have done in the past to cause the issues, but very limited in working together to set steps to help us move forward on working with my ADHD.  She mentions over and over that for many years she has been trying to get me to understand and has no more energy to do so and that it has taken too long for me to even start to understand the issues.


I explain that I am working on my steps to help with my ADHD.  Every try I make I get shut down and nothing gets better.  How do I get her to understand that I am trying, but obviously incorrectly, so I try differently, still no success or even validation that I am making any progress?"

 

You cannot control other people, only yourself. In this case your wife is not only refusing to meet you halfway, but she keeps moving back whenever you move forward, by shutting you down. Look at your own progress and validate it yourself; keep track of how you improve, for your own sake.

 

 

"Second issue is that of communications.  I am told I do not interpret what she says correctly, and when I try to ask questions to understand what her intent was, I am told I should already know as we have been together for many years.  So I ask what I should do: act on my own interpretation of the conversation, or explain what I thought I heard and ask questions about it, which is also wrong, or just say nothing, which is also wrong?  I am at a loss of what to do?


If the ADHD person won’t understand or interpret conversation properly, what do we do to help to correct that issue?  This seems to be a dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t scenario."

 

Mirroring conversations require the attention and investment of both parties. You can guess what she wants until you die of old age, but if she does not tell you, then you will never know for sure. In short, your wife is flat wrong that you should "already know" for any reason. You are not a mind reader, nor is she. If that is the case then she should be able to do what she is asking you to do, and offer clear insight into the issue. Obviously, she cannot and is not.

What you do is write down what she said, if it is important, and try to accomplish it to the letter. Do not do this out of spite; it's easy to distort in our minds what people say. If she will not clarify for you when you do not understand then the best you can do is work with what you have - there is no way to get inside someone else's head uninvited (without very expensive machinery and questionable legal issues). 

It's not that you won't, it's that you can't without help. This is not an ADD problem, this is your wife's unwillingness to participate in dialogue. 

 

Good luck.