Chores and Power

So I've been sitting here for a couple of hours reading a lot of posts about chore wars and power struggles and the resulting resentment.  I'm the non-ADD spouse, but I differ from many here in that I don't mind picking up after my ADD wife.  I'm not talking about her work things or clothes, but if she leaves the coffee creamer out on the counter (almost every day), I simply put it away.  If she sweeps the kitchen but leaves the debris in a pile on the floor, I pick it up.  If she leaves all the lights and TV on upstairs even though she's sitting downstairs watching TV, I'll shut them off without any resentment.  Just a flick of a few switches, no big deal.  I figure it's something easy I can do that isn't worth bickering about.  However, my wife actually gets upset with me when I do these things.  She'll even go to the extent of turning the TV and lights back on to, passively, make her point.  I'll explain that I wasn't trying to make her feel bad.  I just did it because it had to be done and it wasn't a big deal.  But virtually anything that I do to help her, she see as exploiting her weaknesses.  She'll even reopen the garage door if I close it after she was the last one to come in.  I've told her how much it hurts me when I she accuses me of attacking her by picking up after her, but she doesn't seem to care.  She would rather I just leave that stuff for her even if it bugs me. 

This pertains to picking up clutter also.  I know that she's wired differently and clutter isn't her strong suit, so I try to make an extra effort to keep things organized, and get rid of stuff that isn't being used or is old.  But she freaks out whenever I take initiative to get organized whether her stuff is involved or not.  I never throw out anything of hers, but the kids and I will go through their stuff and separate trash/donation/repurpose, but she'll pull it out of the garbage and start telling us that we're throwing away perfectly good stuff - i.e. pieces of incomplete toy sets, doll clothing with no matching dolls,  boxes of old crayons (even though we're keeping hundreds of more crayons), outgrown worn out shoes.  I've told her that it makes me feel like a prisoner in my own home when I can't even clean without being yelled at (not the nicest thing I've ever said), but it's true.  I've always prided myself on staying organized, but because she can't seem to stay organized, she resents me for it AND I DON'T EVEN FAULT HER. 

Just today she attacked me for asking her why she was cleaning the bathroom floor not 3 minutes after I cleaned it.  I probably should have just dropped it, but I know that she saw me do it and was just being passive aggressive again.  For some reason in her mind she thought that it was her responsibility and she was mad that I did it.  I had absolutely no problem doing it, and in fact felt good about it.  I suspect it was probably on some list she had for the day, and I upset her schedule by doing it, but she never shares any of her coping schemes with me.  I guess I'm just supposed to stay out of the way, but that completely diminishes my self worth and that pisses me off.  I tell her all the time that I want to work on how we coordinate our lives, so we're not stepping on each others toes, but she takes this as me trying to control her.  She just wants to do things her way without any regard for what I want.  Is this just her trying to assert power over me?  I know she has very low self esteem and is trying so hard to will her way through all the household stuff, but I have a very hard time with her resenting me helping out with things that I do not mind doing.  She's told me that she's always had this dream of being the "perfect mom" since she was a kid.  She's given herself some ideal to live up to that not even a non-ADDer could match, but she'll be damned if her husband is going to help her.  Will she ever let go of this anger or shame or whatever she's holding inside that makes her feel so worthless when I do something to help her?  She's even gone as far as trying to repair her broken car window when I am clearly better equipped to handle this.  She is not mechanically inclined and I work on the cars all the time, but it's like she has something to prove to me. 

This behavior has really ramped up over the last year when I've really started pushing her to address her ADHD more vigorously.  In this respect, I admit trying to control her, but this is something that needs to be addressed or our marriage will be bye-bye.  But now she's lashing back by trying to relinquish me of any power and is diving into further denial that she has ADHD.  BTW, she was diagnosed about 2 years ago, but has never had any kind of successful therapy.  Tried Adderall, but little improvement.

Can any ADDers out there help me understand what she's feeling and what you may have done to overcome the attacks on your non-ADD spouses?

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summerwine's picture

Okay I will try because this

Okay I will try because this is something that I have been working on really hard with my counselor. Think about all the things that we expect from women in our culture all the stuff that women are expected to be good at. Stuff like being organized and having a clean house and having a job while juggling the kids activities and being good at communicating and multitasking and being a princess on the street and freak in the bedroom and all those things. Just like sit and think about those things for a minute. OK ready? Now read a list of all the things that ADHD impairs. Organization and multitasking and communication and all that stuff. It's the same stuff! Can you imagine having a disability that impairs your ability to be what society thinks makes you a good woman? OMG that messed me up so bad! How could it not mess up your wife? Think about all the stuff that our culture expects you to be as a man now imagine if you were just bad at doing all those things because your brain developed differently. How would you be?

I completely understand,

I completely understand, Summerwine.  I don't blame her at all for the way she feels.  I just wonder if there is anything I can do to help her let go of those expectations given her particular brain composition.  I know it isn't easy, but it seems like there are a lot of instances out there with other ADDers that have learned to be more accepting of their spouses support and change their own expectations of themselves.  Ya know?

I relate

My husband can be the same way.  I do just take care of the little things, and there are certain few things like the bathroom and trash that are just his... and I am supposed to just never do (per my councilor) so that he can have responsibility.  He doesnt do them usually, and it would be easier if I just did them I guess.  I don't know what is right either.  I feel like he would function better in a clean organized home (as would I).  I want to just do it.  .. Either way he feels guilty.... if I do it without saying anything it is a guilt trip.... If I remind him its a guilt trip....  

It is her issue is what I guess I am saying... she feels guilty about her shortcomings (in her mind), and it is nothing you did.  She needs to work through it.  

On the attacks, I don't know.... personally I have anxiety just thinking about it.  I totally relate.  Don't let her make you think you are the guilter