ADD and Exercise

I'm fairly certain that my husband has ADD, although he insists that he does not.  Apparently during his first marriage, his first wife made him go get tested, and he was told that while he was close to the diagnosis, he didn't have it.  He thinks it's a made-up disease used by people who want to control others.

In spite of this, and in spite of our different temperaments, we have managed to learn to accommodate each other in most areas.  The one area where we cannot find common ground, however, is exercise.

I am a very disciplined person, and until about six months ago, I exercised daily and loved it.  My husband was slightly overweight when I met him two years ago, and since then has gained about 40 pounds.  He says that he feels terrible about his weight and wants me to help him do something about it.  He says that he wants me to nag him about exercise.  But when I nag him, he gets defensive and talks about all the reasons he doesn't have time to do it.

He gets angry at me when I exercise on my own.  He says "It must be nice to have time to do something that YOU want to do", and claims that he never has any time to do anything that he wants to do.  Because of this, I stopped exercising on my own and would only work out when he did.  The one time he caught me exercising on my own, he was furious with me and we fought for three days. 

I am feeling so frustrated, because a) I am worried about his health (he had a grandfather who died at the age he is now), b) I feel as if he is asking me to be responsible for his well-being, and c) I am frustrated that I no longer get to do something that I enjoy.

Is this typical ADD behavior, or is this related to some other issue?  Is it reasonable for one spouse to expect the other to nag them?  Is it reasonable to ask one spouse to only exercise when the other wants to?

Thanks in advance for your insights!  :-)


It may be typical for my ADHD

It may be typical for my ADHD dh to have some odd reasons for the question of "to exercise or not exercise".  I think it is also common that all types of couple fight over this due to insecurity, jealousy, pettiness or just selfishness due to immaturity. (Why should you look and feel better than me? Stop making me look bad!) I'm actually the one who is poorly motivated to exercise but I don't really care about how it relates to anyone else.

My ADD dh tends to exercise in an all-or-nothing fashion. His choice of exercise is jogging. I think it produces the necessary endorphins to keep him feeling good. He would get upset tho, when he wasn't able to jog. Like when one of the kids are sick and I need some help. He knew but went out anyway to jog while my youngest had just gone into a moderately severe allergy attack, leaving me alone to deal with the situation.

So in our case, the jogging was both a blessing and a curse. When he gets into it, it became this compulsion to jog after work, even if there were emergencies in the household.

When we were both dieting, if I ate dessert earlier and served him dessert later, he would feel that I was making him gain weight if I wasn't having dessert at the very same moment he was.  I had to have the same dessert at the same time so if he gained calories, I would have to gain the same number of calories as well.... he did not seem to understand I already ate my dessert earlier and it's still the same number of calories.... I think it is some of the immaturity that is not being processed correctly and results in the anger and upsets by my spouse.

You should not stop exercising on account of his ADD response. You know it is not a proper response. 3 day arguments is excessive. You need to tell him, that you are not *making* him look bad by having better health. He is making *himself* look and feel bad because he is his own person and has chosen not to exercise. Not because of you. You are not the magic pill that he is sitting around waiting for. You are your own person and you have the *choice* to exercise and you have chosen to. If he gets angry and says guilt inducing words, ask him what *he's* going to do about it, exactly.




Thanks for your feedback!  Since I wrote this, I have gone back to exercising daily on my own.  I exercise in the morning before my husband wakes up so he doesn't see it and get aggravated by it (although he is aware that this is what I'm doing).  The daily exercise is really helping me cope with the stresses of marriage! 

He is still blaming me for his lack of exercise.  The next time he does this, I intend to tell him that as soon as he puts clear goals in writing, and writes down exactly how he would like me to help, I will help him.  The reason why I want it in writing is because he often forgets what he has verbally asked me to do and then gets upset with me for following his directions. 

I'm sure he will not be happy with my insistence on him putting something in writing, but hopefully it will help defuse this always explosive situation.  Either he'll agree to it and I'll have a document to stick with, or he won't, but he won't have anything to blame me for!

Putting things in writing...

This was something I tried to get my husband to do for years.  He'd complain about how difficult and overwhelming a task was, and I gave recommendations like, "Okay, if you can figure out what your goal is and write it down, then we can break the large goal into smaller parts, and then figure out what the next small step is to get closer to the goal."  His responses varied depending on the day: "Yeah, that's a good idea; I'll do that" to, "Well, that's the way *you* plan.  It's not the way *I* plan."  Regardless, it never happened.  Not once.  And whatever way he claimed he was planning "his way," it never worked either.  Even when our marriage was on the line, and the *one* thing I asked for in our counseling sessions was, "I want to see him set a goal, make a plan to achieve that goal, and execute the plan."  At the time, the plan I was talking about was for him to train to do a 1.5 mile run as part of applying to become a police officer.  He had 6 months to get ready, never made a plan, went jogging a handful of times, and then gave up on his "dream" rather than follow through.  (Making plans for him didn't work either, nor did trying to help him work through the process with me.) 

If anyone has been successful with encouraging their naturally non-planning mates to plan, I'd love to hear what worked.  Even if it's too late for my relationship, we're still friends, and just maybe he'd listen to my advice once we're not married.  I'd still love nothing more than to see him succeed.  And conbrio96, I'd of course love it if you were able to push through this barrier for the sake of your relationship, too.

I've always thought that a

I've always thought that a problematic road and one I nearly went down myself, getting sucked into the argument that he was too weak to manage some things, so I should keep pushing him so he does things he doesn't want to do. You know what? Life's too short to waste energy on that in my experience. The response I got was the same as your husband's. I thought I was just reminding him of his commitment. It became clear he thought making me responsible for getting him inspired enough was the magic bullet. That somehow that would take away the pain of making an effort for him, that somehow I could make the effort FOR him! Of course, that's impossible. A lovely dream, but impossible!

It also felt too much like parenting, like being his mum getting him up for school in the face of the internal "I don't wanna go!"

Sure running with someone is great, I enjoy it, but I don't work anybody's legs other than my own. He has to get his kit on and get himself out the door to meet me and SHARE a running session. 

Thus my response now is: "what a great suggestion for you to join me. I'd love for you to join me when I'm exercising. What days this week can you do?"

The answer is either what the days are or "I can't this week". And that's fine.

Either one means it is his suggestion on what days he's joining in. Or not joining in. I don't push for long term plans, I just stay in the moment (which is where he is) and don't look further than the current week. Then if he doesn't join me, it's his decision. I was there, ready for him. If he's not there, that's his choice. I'm happy to say "hope you can join me next time." To use an analogy, if I was giving someone a lift somewhere I would expect them to walk themselves to the car!

The inference is: I'm doing it anyway. He's welcome to join in, I'll make space on the day(s) he suggests and be open to him joining me. Otherwise, I'm happy also to do it alone.

I wouldn't start hiding living my life from my husband if he didn't like it! If it made him feel guilty, it would be his guilt to deal with. It's not my job in life to tip-toe around to avoid triggering his own feelings of disappointment or dislike or whatever he feels about himself. Hiding it would feel like I was agreeing with him, like saying "you're right to feel the way you do, I'm doing something wrong". I wouldn't consider myself responsible for his guilt. Exercise isn't wrong. I would make it clear though 100% I would support him when he's ready to go for his first steps because I can see how much his weight or lack of fitness distressed him. I would show the caring I feel, offer the same support I would offer to anybody, but not take responsibility for his actions or his feelings. That way there's no nagging, no negativity from me, an honest statement that I care. I make sure there's nothing in what I do or say that suggests judgment or opinion. His health is for him to manage and be responsible for.  And he is free to make his own choices. I'm not saying that's what anybody else should do, just that in my home life, that's the stance I would take now. 

NEVER try to use coercion to

NEVER try to use coercion to get someone to exercise! You'll just fall out with them and look snotty then, when you do exercise on your own. On the other hand, never let yourself be talked out of your own exercise routine. You'll feel cheated and resentful. I have ADD and work out at least 4 times a week. I also practice intermittent fasting, have cold baths and showers, eat no processed food, drink little calories (only water and protein shakes) and other things besides that lead to me being very fit physically. i have had my fair share of girlfriends getting upset with my eating plan but i don't compromise for long, only at special occasions like dinner with her parents etc. Most routines can be done to great effect in about 30 minutes anyway. If he resents that, then that's his problem. How long are his favourite tv programs?