Women With ADHD and Gender Expectations

ADHD Marriage: 

We would like to introduce those of you who don't yet know her to Sari Solden, M.S., L.M.F.T.  She is a therapist and author who focuses on adults with ADHD and particularly women with ADHD.  Her book, "Women with Attention Deficit Disorder" provides insight into the special challenges that women with ADHD face.

Sari has agreed to be a guest author on this blog and we look forward to hearing her thoughts about how ADHD affects marriage and particularly how women with ADHD can improve their lives and marriages.

And while I'm thinking about ADHD, relationships, and women...

I had an interesting post from what I think is a lesbian couple that reminded me that there are definitely gender politics in action when talking about household chores.  Women with ADHD who have trouble managing the organizational tasks of the home can feel great guilt and shame about this.  Conversely, expectations about "what a man is supposed to do around the house" can have equally disasterous effects.  It's all too easy to get mad/frustrated if you grew up thinking the man of the house should be mowing the lawn and he just doesn't have any interest in it at all.  Each time you pull out that mower your resentment can grow...

The lesbian couple felt it was a bit easier for them to focus on what were the ADHD issues in their relationship, since they had fewer ingrained gender expectations.  Their approach was to split things up by areas of strength and weakness, without regard to pre-set expectations.

How about thinking about the gender expectations in your own marriage, and sharing some of your own ideas with us?  Send in your comments, thoughts, etc.  (soon I'll put up a message board that people can use to talk to each other....)

Comments

NOVA1986's picture

The roll of a ADD mother

I am happy to read your posts. All the posted it until now by women are married with ADDers, but this is a very important roll in women’s life, to be a MOTHER. My mother in Law it is not diagnosed, but I suspect she has ADD, She basically has the same basic discipline difficulties like my DH. She has difficulties of going to bed early,  waking up, getting up early (after 11 am or later) etc.

For what my husband and she have been sharing with me through the years, it seems that also it was difficult for her to know what was her responsibilities as a mother and/or to use common sense. According to his own words this is the things I found them strange and non-sense:

  • My husband as a baby was hyperactive and she use to give a bottle at what ever time at night to make him settle down. (It is know in evry culture after certain age if healthier for a baby/toddler to sleep at least 10 hours straight)
  • She use to put sugar in his milk bottles and suggested me to do the same for my daughters. (My mother never put sugar in hour milk, its know for decade is bad for your teeth)
  • It was hard for her to wake up early to make (his son/my husband) be on time to school.
  • She use to travel a lot for pleasure and/or to visit his mother in Peru (between 2 weeks to 1 month and a half trip), leaving the kids sometimes on the care of church friends or neighbors. (My father-in-law use to be a pilot, so sometimes he couldn't be there for them either). This period of time with out her supervision helps some unfortunate events to happen in her kid’s life: My husband and his brother were sexually molested at the age of 8 and 6. My husband told me that he tried to let her know about it, but he remembers that she kind of ignored it, or try to don't make a big deal about it, wishing this event was erase in my husband tender mind of 8 years old. My sister-in-law later was a victim of his own brother (my husband) who also molested her in the same way he was about 4 year later of the event. That same girl had early experience with sex, alcohol and drugs. She is more or less 37 and it seems she is recovering; she is back in school, getting married for the first time, etc
  • My husband also told me long time ago, that her mother use to be in the phone all the time, and that make him feel jealousy and angry.
  • My husband parents were separated for 6 months when my husband was 12 or 13, and she allow a neighbor to hit on her, without taking the proper measures to hide this from her kids or husband.
  • She complaints about his sexual life with her husband, alleging he doesn't know about foreplay, and being rude. Now this is a topic that we women talk a lot, and I seriously think sex is overrated. Hollywood, literature, Internet and other media are diminishing the real meaning of intimacy. I have 20 years of marriage and I came to marriage with no experience in this topic, but I learned that all in live is a lesson you learn, you practice, you make mistakes with your partner, you learn, and you continue practicing. One of the good things in my marriage is intimacy; I still enjoy it because I still do it with my still-husband (we are separated for a year now).

Psychologist says that negative experience in live storage easier than good experiences. That is true, I sometimes, if I am watching a movie with some romance my first thought is about my husband, but then another thought hit my mind about my husband and all the girls he started an emotional affair, and how he maybe thinking about them when he is watching or if he watches the same movie. But it doesn't happen lately in our intimacy, it used to happen, but like another lesson to learn I have to block that thought and enjoy the only thing I know we share together, even if I am not in his mind.

So I am not sure when girlfriends and other women complain about their partners way of acting in intimacy, and the lack of sexual pleasure. I think is all in our mind and heart, And if we do not have your partner in your heart and in your mind, very little we will get from it.

Anyway, sometimes I think women come out with these statements to redeem themselves to satisfy their sexual needs. In my mother-in-law case, you can travel to Europe and South-America, or whatever other country or continent where she traveled alone and for sure she can tell you where to go to dance, gambling and shopping. (I am not against of dancing I love to dance, and shopping when I can pay cash, and gambling?, NOT REALLY. She loves to flirt and drink, I am not sure how far she had been after flirting and drinking in a nightclub far away from kids and husband, and I do not want to know.

  • I remember my husband told me that she was in Peru with her sister (6 years old at the moment) and his father went to Peru to meet them and travel back with her. When his father showed up at home, he came with his daughter but my mother-in-law decided to stay even longer. My husband said that him and his brother started crying when they discovered their mom wasn't with them.
  • My husband is living with his parents right now and he told me he found some pornography channels in their TV. I talked to my mother-in-law about finding a way to block these channels, to help my husband with his efforts to recover from pornography addiction. After listening to her about why this channel were there, she finished saying, that she will not change her life style for my husband. I wasn't talking about her lifestyle; I was talking about supporting his son.

This particular event makes me worry about my daughters (12 and 14) whom sometimes expend nights there... I just worry about it and try to make as much excuse possible to not let them to visit them. Now, you can say kids learn a lot at school with friends, Internet, movies, etc. and that’s true. Nevertheless, I have a strong believe that if adults in the family keep a proper behavior, it will help them to develop a sense of security at home. Kids are going to try and make mistakes, but it is important to have a safe place were they can find themselves back.

I think it is hard to be a mother but it must be double hard to be a mother with ADHD/ADD, and the risks to take are to expensive and the affects can last for ever in the kid’s life.

One day we were visiting my husband’s endocrinologist, who also has ADHD. He said that for him was really hard medicine school, and he was aware that he had to make 10 times more effort than his classmates to have good grades and he did. He wanted to be a doctor and he knew what to do. Now, the question is: Are women aware of the huge responsibility of being a mother? Is it possible to have ADHD and be a descent mother? At least, the kind of mother able to protect their kids from episodes like my husband and brother-in-law and sister went trough?

  • My mother-in-law never work, it wasn't necessary her income in the family, and my father-in-law became the most dangerous enabler for his own family.

I do not know what an ADD mother have to do to success as a mother, but prescription and cognitive therapy will help, along with reading good books about the topic, pray and find joy in the efforts they do to improve. The way to go is long, so we cannot get tired.

In a way it's been freeing

It's taken a long time to overcome the shame of not being able to do 'regular housekeeping' but I think it's also been very freeing to have traditional roles really off the table. 

Then along came flylady.net and now I have a beautiful clean home, too!

Smiles,

ADDMomma

Gender Expectations

My husband and I have a running joke that he has just learned the difference between a flathead and a phillips screwdriver. I have always done the repairs and mechanical stuff and he folds clothes much better than I do. We all have frustrations at times but it all works out.

Lesbian couples and ADD

Thank you, Melissa, for writing about a lesbian couple with ADD.  I am the female partner of a woman with ADD.  She was diagnosed at age 50, 7 years ago, 3 years after we became a couple.  It's been an interesting, educational, fun and loving ride.  Luckily we have a great psychopharmacologist and both of us have had psychotherapy in the past so we have fairly good communication skills.  Household chores have always been a challenge.  We've found that it helps to review what chores need to be done at the beginning of every weekend and to agree as to who will do them.  At most a quarter of the chores on the list will be completed by the end of the weekend, so I've learned to clearly prioritize and to adjust my expectations.  In recent months I've had the opportunity to spontaneously visit a number of friends' homes (meaning that they didn't have time to clean before my arrival) and I've realized that their homes look about as chaotic and messy as ours does, so I've become more at ease with the overall condition of our home as well.   

NOVA1986's picture

ADHD MOMS

I am happy to read your posts. All the posted it until now by women are married with ADDers, but this is a very important roll in women’s life, to be a MOTHER. My mother in Law it is not diagnosed, but I suspect she has ADD, She basically has the same basic discipline difficulties like my DH. She has difficulties of going to bed early,  waking up, getting up early (after 11 am or later) etc.

For what my husband and she have been sharing with me through the years, it seems that also it was difficult for her to know what was her responsibilities as a mother and/or to use common sense. According to his own words this is the things I found them strange and non-sense:

  • My husband as a baby was hyperactive and she use to give a bottle at what ever time at night to make him settle down. (It is know in every culture after certain age if healthier for a baby/toddler to sleep at least 10 hours straight)
  • She use to put sugar in his milk bottles and suggested me to do the same for my daughters. (My mother never put sugar in hour milk, its know for decade is bad for your teeth)
  • It was hard for her to wake up early to make (his son/my husband) be on time to school.
  • She use to travel a lot for pleasure and/or to visit his mother in Peru (between 2 weeks to 1 month and a half trip), leaving the kids sometimes on the care of church friends or neighbors. (My father-in-law use to be a pilot, so sometimes he couldn't be there for them either). This period of time with out her supervision helps some unfortunate events to happen in her kid’s life: My husband and his brother were sexually molested at the age of 8 and 6. My husband told me that he tried to let her know about it, but he remembers that she kind of ignored it, or try to don't make a big deal about it, wishing this event was erase in my husband tender mind of 8 years old. My sister-in-law later was a victim of his own brother (my husband) who also molested her in the same way he was about 4 year later of the event. That same girl had early experience with sex, alcohol and drugs. She is more or less 37 and it seems she is recovering; she is back in school, getting married for the first time, etc
  • My husband also told me long time ago, that her mother use to be in the phone all the time, and that make him feel jealousy and angry.
  • My husband parents were separated for 6 months when my husband was 12 or 13, and she allow a neighbor to hit on her, without taking the proper measures to hide this from her kids or husband. She complaints about his sexual life with her husband, alleging he doesn't know about foreplay, and being rude. Now this is a topic that we women talk a lot, and I seriously think sex is overrated. Hollywood, literature, Internet and other media are diminishing the real meaning of intimacy. I have 20 years of marriage and I came to marriage with no experience in this topic, but I learned that all in live is a lesson you learn, you practice, you make mistakes with your partner, you learn, and you continue practicing. One of the good things in my marriage is intimacy; I still enjoy it because I still do it with my still-husband (we are separated for a year now).

Psychologist says that negative experience in live storage easier than good experiences. That is true, I sometimes, if I am watching a movie with some romance my first thought is about my husband, but then another thought hit my mind about my husband and all the girls he started an emotional affair, and how he maybe thinking about them when he is watching or if he watches the same movie. But it doesn't happen lately in our intimacy, it used to happen, but like another lesson to learn I have to block that thought and enjoy the only thing I know we share together, even if I am not in his mind.

So I am not sure when girlfriends and other women complain about their partners way of acting in intimacy, and the lack of sexual pleasure. I think is all in our mind and heart, And if we do not have your partner in your heart and in your mind, very little we will get from it.

Anyway, sometimes I think women come out with these statements to redeem themselves to satisfy their sexual needs. In my mother-in-law case, you can travel to Europe and South-America, or whatever other country or continent where she traveled alone and for sure she can tell you where to go to dance, gambling and shopping. (I am not against of dancing I love to dance, and shopping when I can pay cash, and gambling?, NOT REALLY. She loves to flirt and drink, I am not sure how far she had been after flirting and drinking in a nightclub far away from kids and husband, and I do not want to know.

I remember my husband told me that his mother was in Peru with her sister (6 years old at the moment) and his father went to Peru to meet them and travel back with them. When his father showed up at home, he came with his daughter but my mother-in-law decided to stay even longer. My husband said that him and his brother started crying when they discovered their mom wasn't with them.

  • My husband is living with his parents right now and he told me he found some pornography channels in their TV. I talked to my mother-in-law about finding a way to block these channels, to help my husband with his efforts to recover from pornography addiction. After listening to her about why this channel were there, she finished saying, that she will not change her life style for my husband. I wasn't talking about her lifestyle; I was talking about supporting his son.

This particular event makes me worry about my daughters (12 and 14) whom sometimes expend nights there... I just worry about it and try to make as much excuse possible to not let them to visit them. Now, you can say kids learn a lot at school with friends, Internet, movies, etc. and that’s true. Nevertheless, I have a strong believe that if adults in the family keep a proper behavior, it will help them to develop a sense of security at home. Kids are going to try and make mistakes, but it is important to have a safe place were they can find themselves back.

One day we were visiting my husband’s endocrinologist, who also has ADHD. He said that for him was really hard medicine school, and he was aware that he had to make 10 times more effort than his classmates to have good grades and he did. He wanted to be a doctor and he knew what to do. Now, the question is: Are women aware of the huge responsibility of being a mother? Is it possible to have ADHD and be a happy progressive mother? At least, the kind of mother able to protect their kids from episodes like my husband and brother-in-law and sister went trough?

My mother-in-law never work, it wasn't necessary her income in the family, and my father-in-law became the most dangerous enabler for his own family.

I think it is hard to be a mother but it must be double hard to be a mother with ADHD/ADD, and the risks to take are to expensive, and the affects can last for ever in the kid’s life, and affect (like any other experiences in life) generations.

I do not know what an ADD mother have to do to success as a mother, but prescription and cognitive therapy will help, along with reading good books about the topic, pray and find joy in the efforts they do to improve. The way to go is long, so we cannot get tired.

housework

that is good of you to be supportive of her!:)

my significant other is Chinese male at the moment and often, being a tomboyish add woman , 37, who hates housework I feel I am being held to a lot of unfair / sexist cultural standards about woman

but to be fair, LOL, I lived on 2 different women's lands (mostly lesb) in NM over a period of several years when I just moved here and was short of cash and I have to say I think I was the messiest woman there. ha 

re: Women With ADHD and Gender Expectations

Hi, As an ADHD coach and the spouse of an ADHDer I know how difficult the idea of gender roles can be. When my ADHD husband picked up a saw and hammer because that's what was expected of him as a man, we had to deal with a disastrous and costly lesson (He ended up cutting the electrical, cable and phone lines while cutting through a wall he was trying to remove). After that, I never asked him to do any "repairs" around the house. I'm actually much better at it than he is and everyone around us gets a kick out of my love and abilities around major renovations and repairs and his amazing ability to cook up a storm or to plan a super-romantic evening for us (he's the romantic in the family). When we decided to use our strengths we realised that both of us were happier, and our lives have been amazing ever since. It can be quite liberating to let go of those gender roles and to just do what you're really good at or interested in. Warmly, Linda Walker ADHD Coach Montreal (Québec) Canada

re: Women With ADHD and Gender Expectations

How does ADHD seem to effect low sex drive? I am so not interested and exhausted by the end of the day when my meds have worn off? Any advice or is there any correlation with ADHD?

Significant Correlation

 

Based on my non-existent sex life, I would say there is significant correlation.  My wife has always been distracted during sex. (Is this you?) She is about as rank amateur at any sex act as you can get.  I got better sex in high school than in my marriage. She has no interest. Claims she is interested but when left to her, sex never happens.  (Is this you?)  Hasn't happened for over six years now.  She can't even plan for it.  (Can you plan a sex event and make it happen?) Sixteen years ago, it took us three years to get her pregnant with kid one when we were supposedly trying.  After 2 1/2 years of once a month sex (maybe), thermometers and calendars, I called bull$*%& and took over. I watched her behavior, read her cycle and she was pregnant in three months.  (She was even mad as hell that my sperm count was not the issue.  Turned out the doctor was trying to help but the wife was spewing misinformation on number of attempts.)

She was always complaining of being exhausted and tired and fell asleep at 8:30 every night.  (Is this you?) She worked mall retail at the beginning of our marriage and would actually fall asleep while we were fooling around late at night.  I had to get up and go to work in the morning but she was the sleepy one.  I was p.o.'d because after two hours of foreplay, something should be happening.  She would be dry as a bone and so un-stimulated it was pathetic.  I am not a bad lover and have more than one person who will attest to that.

When she is actually interested, she can orgasm to the point of losing control but she "worries" about losing control. (Is this you?)  She doesn't want to feel like she is enjoying it (Is this you?) She claims it hurts to orgasm but she has multi-orgasmed many times with no probs.  I think she was put off by a neighboring couple in our first apartment.  The gal would moan very loudly and you could hear her through the wall clearly.  She obviously was enjoying her sex!  I think my wife developed a self-conscious attitude that she did not want to enjoy sex if that meant losing control or maybe being heard and it has pre-occupied her sex life since.

Ironically, with an ADHD tendency to hyperfocus, you would think sex would be great as she could really get into it but she is distracted by the light through the window, the clock, the A/C, the traffic driving by, the dishwasher, the ceiling fan, the bed squeaking, you name it.  It has ruined our marriage.

Don't let that happen to you.  Find a way to be interested. Your life is cheerier with sex than without it.

Ummm, have you tried AM relations?

Hi IgnoredDad,

I'm getting the picture that PM relations don't work in your home, so I was wondering about AM?  Or some other part of the day? 

I read somewhere that most people just don't feel sexy in their workplace, so if your DW is a 'stay at home mom' perhaps a change of scenery would help? Earplugs, blindfold? Start with a hot bath?  Deep breathing in harmony?

At this point you must be so hurt and resentful that it must be hard to be the leader in this area - perhaps sex therapy would help?  Even a do-it-yourself book if your insurance doesn't cover it.  Or if you are feeling very strong (and scientific) you could try offering massage or some other non-sexual touch on a regular basis to see if that has a good effect.

As an ADD mom, I can say that trying to do what I'm supposed to do all day with life/home/kids does kind of suck the energy out of me!

Perhaps you 2 could brainstorm together what are the blocks and what are some things to try? Most of us have some strengths that we can use to help out our challenge areas... Partnering is such an important part of parenting.

Best Wishes,

ADDMomma

Linsy's picture

Except when you are forced into the wrong gender role...

I was truly hoist with my own petard. Capable and hard working, I am able to pull in a good income. But our agreement was that we would both work, so that one of us could be there for the kids. I ended up being pushed out of my house completely, even when babies tiny, in a vain attempt to earn enough to pay ADD husband's debts. While he loafed around at home, and I paid for childcare. I would come home and find no food, nothing cooked, empty fridge etc. He did do the laundry, but never put anything away - so just made more work for me. Let alone dusted or hoovered in any consistent way. One day, when I was angry about this, he said, 'You wouldn't say this to a woman'. Which gobsmacked me, being a woman and a feminist, who has never asked anyone to keep her in her adult life. I just wanted to be able to be with my children more, and only had a couple of lovely years when he did get it together. But out of 23, that wasn't really enough....

Do you like him?

The first question I ask any wife with low sex drive is 'Do you like your DH?' - it's easy for resentments to build up in any relationship.  If you are parenting ADHD kids together...that's one strike....if you are putting your all into doing 'typical wife and mother' stuff that's another strike....if you DH is taking a Parent role and you are stuck in child/sick person role that's another possible strike.

Also - does sex have to be at the end of the day? I figure if it's worth doing, then it's worth putting first.  

((shrugs))

ADDMomma

And does it go the other way

And does it go the other way when ADD/ADHD is untreated? Is the sex drive high?

My husband never seemed to get enough EVER! Always wanted to do it differently also and seemed to like when there was a thrill factor (the kids are downstairs, next room etc).

I have to wonder now if that is related to the ADD, since when he started meds for the Thyroid and depression he claimed he had no sex drive anymore...

I am an ADHD women in my

I am an ADHD women in my 30's. I am just like your husband in regards to not getting enough! Part of it is the thrill factor and the other part is the chemicals released in the ADD'er brain!! For me is the best part not the act but the excitement in the planning like what sexy thing I will have on or what new thing to try etc...however I married a verrrry conservative man and we have different views on sexuality! Funny thing is he wasn't like this before we got married. He refuses to meet me in the middle so I am left unsatisfied an unloved because I can't trust my husband to tell him my desires with out being told I'm a freak or made 2 feel dirty! Please Please don't do this to your husband!!

The Meds for your husbands depression will definitely affect his sex drive! I say keep things spicy an new and when he is in the mood RUN with It! He moods should stabilize & if not talk to his dr about other choices!!

BEST of luck & when all else fails get you a toy and take care of your needs (if u feel brave do it in font of him it may spark the fire)