ADDers here-Can you please explain the benefits of procrastination?

This is one of the worst conflicts we have. If you know you have to do something, what is the benefit of putting it off?

Example: We have large heavy rolling cans for trash. One for garbage and one for recycling. Today, both had to be out. Trash wasn't picked up last week and the recycling is only every 2 weeks, so it's important. We get home from Thanksgiving at my daughter's and I beg him to do it before he goes to bed, and he won't. He's "too tired." So he has to set the alarm to get up in the morning and do it. This costs us hours of sleep and the chance to lie and cuddle in bed in the morning like we usually do. Then when the alarm goes off, he doesn't get up. Now mind you, I can't do this particular task. I'm handicapped. So to save him 5 minutes last night, he had to lose several hours of sleep and endure me screaming at him for half an hour to get up. Then he went back to sleep (I can't go back to sleep after I wake up.) and I can't find my glasses (Can't see them when they aren't on) so I had to sit and wait for hours until he woke up again to find my glasses.

So my question is what benefit did he get by postponing a 5 minute task? Wouldn't it have been better just to do it and then we could have slept in the morning until we wanted to get up? What is there about the ADD brain that makes it seem better to procrastinate about something you know you have to do and do it at a less convenient time? Him not spending those 5 minutes wasted several hours of my time. What benefit was it to him?

You have to get past thinking

You have to get past thinking that your way is best just because it is easier or makes more sense to you. The ultimate goal, getting the trash around, was accomplished. The only thing you shouldn't have had to do was try and wake him for 30 minutes...I do not agree that should be part of what you had to do, but other than that I think as long as the trash gets around who cares? Are you unable to sleep because you're so mad at him? I know I get myself worked up when I wake up and discover my DH isn't in bed yet...and it is 5 a.m. and THEN I cannot go back to sleep, but if I don't 'go there' I can drift back off eventually. Maybe you cannot sleep because you cannot relax. I think this is a great opportunity for you to ask yourself why you are REALLY mad and why it REALLY bothered you so much. I think your comment "it caused us not to be able to cuddle" was a big hint as to why you're really upset...and I get that.

As for your glasses...If he got up and couldn't find his cell phone would you feel like it was your fault? Hang them on a string from your bed post if you cannot find them, but that is in no way his fault. We always want them to put their stuff where they can find it...we can too.

My DH is the world's worst procrastinator...usually going beyond the point that I am willing to wait and I do it myself...thus probably the reason he does it. But, no matter how long he puts it off, even if he does it 'just in time', I don't care as long as it is done. I am learning MYSELF to stop placing my expectations of how and when things should be done on not only my DH but my daughter too. She is in that I can ask her to do something and she will NEVER, EVER do it right then..."give me a minute" or "I will do it when I am done with ____" If it isn't something that I have to have done right then, I will just remind her after she does _____ or about 15 minutes after the first time. 9 times out of 10 she will 'forget' or has even admitted to pretending not to hear me yell for her to do something. I feel your pain, but I think this is an area that we non's need as much improvement on as those with ADHD. I am learning to let go of the control a little bit and let them do things in their own time and not face my wrath if not done when I ask.

It isn't fair and I know it causes you some inconvenience, but that is part of married life...add ADHD and things can be even more hairy. It is what it is. Garbage got around, the rest needs to be let my opinion.

Yeah, me too

I've been thinking this one over for a while, Sueann, and had decided I should not even attempt a reply because I just couldn't get past the glasses issue and that wasn't the help you were looking for.  I, too, can't see to find them, but I have patted my way blindly around the house for 20 minutes checking all the likely places because for some reason I didn't put them beside the bed.  They are my glasses and they are my problem.  No way around that one.  If you don't have nightstand, you pound a nail in the wall and hang them there.  If you don't have a wall, you put them under the bed.  And if you mess up and forget to do that, well, we're all human.  If I decided to sit for hours waiting for someone to help me find my glasses, it would be because I was falling into my victim and martyr role (my own particular brand of crappy coping) and I would be somehow enjoying sitting there feeling sorry for  myself and hoping for some big "Oh my God I'm so sorry!" apology that would never come.  Why would I do this instead of helping myself?  Damned if I know.  But I sure hope, with all the love I can send your way, that you never do such a thing again.  You are feeding a monster that will never be satiated. 

As to procrastination, I (a non) am guilty of that on occasion.  I procrastinate because I think I will feel more like doing it later than I do now.  Of course, I usually don't.  And sometimes doing it later is harder than doing it now.  People don't always choose what's best for them.  Or best for others.  For ADHDers, there is the added problem of not always being able to imagine what it will be like doing it later, and what those effects might be.  My guy is an optimist at heart, and has trouble imaging that any consequences are ever all that bad.  I can do that well enough, but still say "naw, it will be fine" from time to time.  I don't like this about myself, and it is on my list of works in progress. 

The real problem

Is that we had to set the alarm to get up earlier than we would have because he couldn't make himself do it before we went to bed. It made up both lose sleep.

Physiologically, I can't go back to sleep once awakened so that cost me hours of sleep. I can't sleep the night before the trash goes out because I am so worried he won't get up and do it.

As to the glasses, we have a dog and 2 cats and nothing stays on the nightstand where I put it. He can see them, I can't. Why can't I expect them to see them for me? If I can support him because he is unable/unwilling to work because of his ADD, why can't he do things for me that I can't do?




summerwine's picture

My brain just kind of tricks

My brain just kind of tricks me into thinking that it's better to do something later. I never want to do anything right now especially when I am not taking my medication. I really believe that I will do it later even if I know my history of not doing it later. Its like an anorexic looking in to the mirror and seeing a fat girl. My counselor says that ADHD doesn't give the feel good chemicals to us when we do something. Like when you take out the trash you feel good knowing that it done and you don't have to worry about. I don't feel anything when I take out the trash. I'm not happy or relived that its done. I dont feel like I accomplished anything. I just don't care. If anything all I feel is tired or like I wasted my time. My counselor says that the human brain evolved to dangle a carrot into front of our noses to make us do stuff. So when you are doing something and when you finish it you feel satisfied and proud and accomplished and relived it's done. But the ADHD takes the carrot away. I feel nothing when I finish a task. Just even more worn out. So what's the point? See? It's tricky! I see this lots with my son and my niece and their ADHD. Why should I clean my room it's just going to get messy again right. My sister in law says Well won't you feel better if your room is clean? NO! Not at all. Anyway I take the trash out as soon as I get home from work when I still have some energy and I'm still outside. If I put it off for before bed or before work it won't get done.

How did you get to that point?

I understand all you have said.  And I believe that my wife feels the same way.  yet, you put the trash out right away because you know if you don't it won't get done.  What's your motivation?

summerwine's picture

My motivation is not wanting

My motivation is not wanting a house full of trash piling up around my kids. We don't have much space for last week's recycling or garbage to be stored so if it doesn't go out its kind of in the house for a week. I guess I just got in the habit it took a while to get there. I still forget sometimes maybe every couple of months but I don't panic if I forgot.


Something our family counselor has me do with my ADHD and AS kids is reminders without the moral treatment. If you say to one of these kids You must do X now because otherwise you will not do X and blah blah. All they hear is You must do X now because you are a rotten person. Instead we a supposed to just remind without all the extra stuff. So if my son leaves a light on I just say Turn out the light! Go back and grab your laundry. Go do X now and then you can relax. Theres no tone of voice or being annoyed or reminding them of how "bad" they are. You just say what needs to be done or what got forgotten. It works with the kids and I have been trying to train my boyfriend and my sister in law to do the same with me and my brother and the kids. If someone tells me that I had better go gas up the truck because I will forget then I feel like a failure before I even try. But if someone just says Please go gas up the truck now and then we don't have to worry about it then I feel like I am just being asked to do something and its not about me or my memory or whatever. The counselor calls it Neutral Redirection.

I would love to be able to do that

I would love to be able to do that.  But when I ask my wife to do something, she always replies "OK" or "I will."  And then doesn't move.  And I know her lack of movement means, 9 times out of 10 (or 99 out of 100), it won't get done.

For example, she will heat up something in the microwave, and then cover she uses gets all splattered with spaghetti sauce.  So I'll say "Honey, would you please clean the cover after you heat the food?"  And she'll say "sure."  She'll take her food out and sit down to eat.  Then she'll sit down in the living room to watch TV and I'll say "did you clean the cover?"  or "You didn't clean the cover."  And she'll say "I will." 

So, what would you recommend I say at that time?  Because if she doesn't do it right then, chances are good that then when I go to heat something up later that day, or later that week, the cover will have all this dried spaghetti sauce on it.  Yuck!

this is me

This is totally me. With the trash, too.


All I can say is that for me, if I am doing something, and I'm asked to do something else, it's like I have to shift a gigantic, heavy, stiff, rusty gear in order to move from "I'm in the kitchen now" to "I have to take out the garbage now." Or from, "I'm sitting down to eat my meal" to "I have to clean the top of the microwave." It takes actual painful, physical effort. ESPECIALLY if it is at the end of the long day and I have already said "OKAY, I'm done for today!"  (because it is exhausting trying to do everything I need to do all day, to remember to do it, to deal with the fact that I will have messed up at least three things that day, and forgotten three others).

And sometimes, really, just sitting there for 15 minutes and thinking about the steps I will need to take to get the garbage out helps me to do it (as long as I can remember).


To answer the original question, the promise of procrastination, at least for me, is that, from experience, I know that sometime in the future it will not be as physically and mentally painful and exhausting to take the trash out. Usually, the deadline of "the garbage truck is coming in 5 minutes" or else the fact that "I'm going outside right now anyway, I might as well bring the garbage" will make it physically easier than right now when "I'm doing something else." This is an important point to understand. I do things at the last minute not because, well, it finally has to be done now, but because it is actually in a real way physically and mentally easier for me to do something at the last minute than to do it the day before.

Just to say what happens in my house is when I forget to do things like put the film over the microwave and he asks me to clean it up he says "please do this now." And if I say "I will." He will say, "you need to do it right now." And when I get angry and say, "I WILL" he says, "no you won't, please get up and do it now." Sometimes adding the step "get up" and do it now actually helps my mind process what I have to do. 

And because I know I forget things like that, I will say Okay and do it. Sometimes grumpily, and sometimes cheerfully. I'm working on more cheerfully. Eventually though, I've found, after repeated instructions to do something habitually -- given in terms of "I know this does not bother you, but this bother me, will you please do this?" I will remember to do it about 2/3rds of the time, and will be less grumpy about being reminded the other 1/3rd of the time. Anyway, that's what happens in my house. It really sucks for my husband (who doesn't actually even believe in ADD, but has inadvertently done things to help me take responsibility).

I try very hard to have a list of everything that needs to be done, and to do it all before that time of day where I say to myself "I'm done now." And it helps me to focus and get things done other times of the day if I can have that time, every day, whenever it is, to be "done." I try to communicate with my husband that I need a certain amount of "done" time where he does not ask me to do anything "right now" or when I don't have to do anything.



So an ADDer doesn't get satisfaction from completing a task? For example, after my team won the football game tonight, I made a point of running a load of dishes (which I hate doing) because I was thinking ahead and going "what can we eat for breakfast with no clean plates?" Now I feel good because I know I can cook breakfast in the morning. So you're saying that wouldn't occur to an ADDer.

So how do we live with you guys? If I need things to be done (I'm working, he's not; I'm handicapped, he's not) how can I get them done (other than the obvious, and I'm sure, ADDer-preferred method of doing it all myself)? You say you take the trash out before you come in at night. How do I get him to do that? How did you learn to do that?

The thing is, this may or may

The thing is, this may or may not be a symptom of adhd. I am realizing that some things may just also be purely relationship problems (power dynamics) or maybe even simpler- he just doesnt want to do it because he doesnt want to. I think the point is that if the way you are communicating isnt working then try something else. Dont get hung up on the unfairness of it all, or cajoling, or screaming... Try something different. It may have to do with him or not- it may not even be the optimum solution BUT: There is no other way and it can only help to move away from this codependent like behavior- helpful for YOU (US) i mean... Good luck. :)

Dependence and Co-dependence

I'm still struggling with this. I am dependent on my husband to do things I can't do. I don't have the physical resources, he's healthy as a horse. He knew this when we were married; I didn't know about his ADD, or that 6 weeks after we were married he'd lose his job because he didn't control is ADD, and not feel that he should try to find another one.

So, in order to not be co-dependent, am I supposed to take on a second job so that I can hire someone to do the things he won't do, that I can't do? Should we each cook our own meals and not eat together? What about when I fall and can't get up? Should I hire someone to be on standby so that I won't have to depend on my husband? What is wrong with expecting the person I live with to find my glasses when they aren't on, or walk the dog, or any one of the tasks I either can't do at all or can do only with a lot of difficulty and pain? What is so wrong with the inter-dependence that makes up a healthy functioning family unit? Why is it wrong to expect my husband to act like he lives here too?


I am feeling your pain so much.

I don't think co-dependence is the same as interdependence. It is reasonable of you to want him to take on the responsibilities of his share of the marriage. To add his support. Everything you want is reasonable and not a description of co-dependence at all.

Co-dependence is when you take his responsibilities and feelings and make them your own, when you feel responsible for his mistakes or reckless behavior, when you feel responsible for his anger or his sadness or his happiness, when you feel like you have to fix them or fix him.

I feel for you so much. I hope that he will finally accept that he has responsibilities and work hard to deal with his illness and take care of them as best he can.

Wanting someone who is your

Wanting someone who is your loved one, spouse, partner to help you is not unreasonable. The problem is when he doesnt want to- which he clearly does not. So unfortunately you DO have to find a different way, fairly or unfairly. Sueann, I work with people who have physical limitations. I can understand (but not fully appreciate, Im sure) the extent to which you feel such vulnerability in not being able to get some things done. Ironically though, you sound much more functional at this time than your spouse. You ARE strong. And SMART. And a SURVIVOR. So though you may have problems with meal preparation, or laundry, or furniture is okay. Life will not end if things dont happen exactly as you want, and for that which you do need to have happen you must go to ALTERNATIVE sources of help- whether it is your friend, daughter, church, high school student, may be hard, but those are tbe options available to you. Finding peace and exerting less energy on what can or can not happen is physically and not just emotionally depleting. Stress makes people sicker/more as much research has suggested. So I am sticking by my suggestion: learn to let go a bit and concentrate on yourself, getting to a place of your own empowerment not dependent on your husband. Do that which will make you STRONGER. Or continue on the path that makes you forever depleted, but you do deserve more. To be HAPPY!
llc's picture

I keep getting caught on the

I keep getting caught on the "I'm handicapped' he's not" and "I depend on him" statements. He DOES have a that may need as much, or more as yours. You both have the right to help, understanding and patience. I hope you find the right balance.

Unfortunately, I never did

I lost my job last summer and realized our life was unsustainable without one of us working. I moved in with my married daughter and found a job here. He lives at our old house with dog poop on the floor, dirty dishes, no clean clothes, etc. His mother pays his rent and electricity. He never applied for the last level of unemployment he was entitled to. He will never find a job as it is impossible for an employer to communicate with him.

I grieve every day for the loss of my marriage. I love him still but could simply not deal with him feeling entittled to just sit every day while I worked and hobbled around the house on bad knees and a leg that was damaged by a car accident.



It must have been/must be extremely difficult.  I am so sorry.  In a world where women and children have been led to expect that a man would care and protect his family, the man sometimes turns out to only be able to care and protect himself.  Sometimes loving means letting go. I hear you. I pray you find peace, continued courage and future contentment.

I am fortunate that we never had children

I have one daughter with ADHD (undiagnosed-but I'm sure of it), even though I can't see that etiher my first husband or I have it. I did a terrible job raising her. I'm convinced she has ODD as well, but when she was little, that was just thought be be bad parenting.

I was 51 when we got married, so the issue of children never came up for my ADD husband and me. I never expected him to protect me, I always expected to work, but I guess I never expected him NOT to, or to be content liviing off what I made.

llc's picture

You are a very strong woman.

You are a very strong woman. Having many physical limitations myself (and just getting the ADHD news this week too, yay) I empathize.

I do not know where disability stops and using your diagnosis as an excuse happens for him....although, without substance abuse issues, I tend to think someone at such a non-functional level has got to have very severe mental issues vs. Just Sheer lazy at your expense. Someone purely entitled, Lazy,uncaring would have applied for entitled benefits, cashed the check and Squandered it on some Hedonistic purchase. The fact that he couldn't even go through the process to get 'free money' speaks *huge* volumes to the severity of what he has going on. I do know that anyone not doing their best to get treatment should not drag innocent people down with them.

I still see both of you as having legit handicaps but your further explanation gives distinction. While  he has severe issues and needs that I still think  deserves help and patience as much as a physical handicap deserves help and patience, you cannot and should not be expected to meet and carry alone. Especially if he does not seek help. And you have needs and issues that he is obviously not able to meet, but you are seeking ways to make your life work. He isn't at that point. and considering what he's lost, It's sad. i can see why you mourn is a hard situation and I truly hope you find peace and also that he somehow reaches   a better place too. Xo

summerwine's picture

It probably would not have

It probably would not have occurred to me to do the dishes like you did. How awesome! If it did occur to me I would have had to fight my first thoughts of how it's a waste of time and I can take care of it later. If I did make myself do it I would not have felt good that I did it. I have been doing this thing with our family counselor where we are supposed to pat ourselves on the back or go looking for praise when we do stuff like that. It's mostly for the kid but I do it too. Basically if I did the dishes ahead of time like you did I have to stop and tell myself that I did a good job making my life easier in the morning and actually pat myself on the back. The kids (my son, niece and nephew) will come to me or another grown up and say "I cleaned up my toys" and we have to tell them how awesome they are and give them a hug. I wish I could go to my boyfriend and get a hug for doing the dishes! Basically it's supposed to give you that outside motivation and good feelings that you did something. Like train your brain to be happy and proud that you did something. Its hard because I always felt like I don't have the right to be proud that I did something most people just do, you know? I SHOULD HAVE just done it so why I am congratulating myself? I guess my big motivation is that I want to be a good mom for my kids. I do everything for my son and the kids in my life. I want them to have it better than I did. It's what I use to force myself to do stuff. The trash thing I just learned that the only time I would actually do it is right after work. My medication is still good and if I sit and rest I am down for the rest of the day. So i just get as much done right after work as I can. Then when my medication is wearing off and I am sore and tired I just tuck the kid into bed and crash on the couch like a zombie for a while. What if you put a sign on the front door reminding him to put the trash out RIGHT NOW before he comes in and praising him when he does it?

Reminding someone to do it "right now"

I have found that when I try that approach, asking her to "please do something right now because my experience is that if you sit down you will stay down the rest of the night" after she has said "I will do that in a minute" - the response I get is usually (actually, always) "You always want everything in YOUR time!!"  I have not been successful in getting her to agree that a reminder like that would be helpful.  Instead, she sees it as controlling.  To her, everything is a power struggle.

Same here...with my

Same here...with my husband and my daughter both. I tell my daughter (who I suspect has ADHD..she is 13) "please do it now because if you don't, you will forget and it won't get done" this usually applies to hanging up her clothes that I have just washed, cleaning up her mess before she leaves the kitchen, taking her stuff that she's dumped on my bed everyday after school and putting it in her room before she goes to bed and leaves it for me to do, etc. Both of them see me asking for their help with ANYTHING as me somehow wanting control of them. 

I remind my husband as he is on his way out the door to work in the morning that it is trash day...otherwise it does not get taken around by him. I have to take it if I forget to remind him. It REALLY makes me smile inside on the rare occasion that I forget to remind him and he takes it anyway. It is amazing how something so simple can mean so much. I think, in a way, it gives me hope for bigger and better (more important) changes...that they might happen too, someday. 

Great Thread

A few thoughts:

  • My DW and I often get into arguments over "how" it was presented not "what" was presented.  In reflection this is probably one of the biggest momentary catalyst that takes a simple disagreement to a full blown argument.
  • I personally love my wife to ask me to do something to help her or around the house.  I love it because I feel like I can contribute to the household or her and meet an expectation.
  • The main problem comes into play in how a request, need, reminder or desire is communicated.
  • Good Exchange: She might ask; "Can you work on the laundry in the morning when you get up?".  If this questions was asked it would be on a Friday/Saturday night when I am not working the next day and I will be up before her.  In a good exchange I don't need a "please" or on overly soft tone, any added pleasantries.  Just a simple questions no tone, backhanded wording, slights or judgements.  When this happens 99% of the time things workout well.  I say 99% because there are some times when we are maxed out emotionally from another environmental problem that puts us in a place where no matter "how" it's said it isn't well received.  I think this is normal thought (I think :))
  • Bad Exchange: Same example but different wording; "Do you think you can remember to work on the laundry in the morning?".  Now let's say there was no negative tone involved.  Maybe she was having a rough day, was tired and just didn't think through "how" she was asking the question.  It makes all the difference in this version my immediately goes to "great I've disappointed her again somehow and she is pointing out how I can't remember" and I don't even usually hear the questions.  I can feel my defenses go up even if I don't immediately responded.  If I am effectively treating and have meds left in me usually I can "not open" my mouth and saying the wrong thing.  If I don't have my meds in me (late evening) and this type of questions comes across usually it ends up in an argument.

Summerwine said it well in a post of hers either in this thread or another.  It appears that many ADHD individuals do much better with a simple, straight to the point request; simply cut out the fat and explanation.  Now with kids who are learning "why" things need to be done this isn't quite as easy but once they know the "why" no reason it should be explained every single time.  

To many of your points you get the "In a minute" type response from us and that is a behavior I had to "unlearn".  Anytime I catch myself saying/thinking "in a minute", "i'll do it tomorrow", "i'll do it later" I have had to train myself to "just do it" or make the effort to show it will get done.  If I have a good reason for not doing it right that minute (working, sick, in the middle of a conversation with someone else, so on so forth) and I have a good reason to "defer" it till later but don't put it into my task reminder system right that instant; my wife or anyone else has full justification to believe it won't get done.  If I do not do something right that minute OR put it into my reminder system (requires task description, due date/time, category and who its for) I am not giving it due attention.

"Anytime I catch myself

"Anytime I catch myself saying/thinking "in a minute", "i'll do it tomorrow", "i'll do it later" I have had to train myself to "just do it" or make the effort to show it will get done.  If I have a good reason for not doing it right that minute (working, sick, in the middle of a conversation with someone else, so on so forth) and I have a good reason to "defer" it till later but don't put it into my task reminder system right that instant; my wife or anyone else has full justification to believe it won't get done.  If I do not do something right that minute OR put it into my reminder system (requires task description, due date/time, category and who its for) I am not giving it due attention."

This is exactly what I am talking about.  When my wife is playing plants vs. zombies (or reading on her iPad or looking at Facebook or doing almost anything else on one of her devices that isn't "work") and so both doesn't do it right then, and also doesn't put it in her reminder system right then, what might I say that wouldn't cause her defenses to shoot up?

Re: Hoping4More

I apologize if you have already posted the answers to these questions already:

1) Is your wife diagnosed? 

2) Does she treat her ADHD?

I only ask because what I described before I only became aware of after I started treating effectively.  Prior to that I didn't understand any of the "why" and sometimes even the "what" was going on.  I can do the things above only because I treat effectively and have a strong desire to be a better version of who I am today.  I see the pain I've caused my wife and family through distraction, impulsivity, etc.; my motivation is I don't want to hurt anyone I love ever.  I didn't realize any of this until I was treating effectively.

All that said; Melissa's book has a great chapter that might help if your wife would agree to try it. (Pages 220/221)  Choir Worksheet / Recipe For Success (check them out).

The main idea is to create a system that works where your wife would be responsible for cleaning "the microwave on a scheduled" basis that she is responsible for tracking and accomplishing it.  Maybe if she has to clean it on a scheduled basis she will see how much easier it is to keep it clean as she uses it vs. having a big mess to clean up once, twice or whatever frequency makes sense.  If not at least the microwave get's cleaned regularily and you might be willing to compromise given she is helping out.  The key is there is a "shared" system that puts the responsibility on her without you having to ask, remind or nag.

My DW will not do this with me right now she feels that having to participate in any system outside of how she does it normally is having to accommodate my issues which are my responsibility to fix not hers.  Wish she could see that it isn't about "doing it my way" it's about doing it in a way that works for "us".  I don't care what system we use as long as it works and accounts for both of our strengths/weaknesses.

Re: systems

My wife is taking meds and also sees a therapist who has experience working with people with ADHD.  We have also read much of Melissa's book.

My wife does use systems for things that need to be done on a regular basis - like putting the trash out from the garage to the curb, doing the grocery shopping, etc.  They work for her much of the time, but other times she misses (dismisses? ignores?) the reminder.  Not sure how to deal with the issue of her missing/dismissing/ignoring reminders.

But the things I am talking about in this stream are the kinds of things that are "one time" things or things that don't lend themselves to a reminder system because they are not done at regular intervals, but on an as-needed basis.  Usually something I notice needs to be done.  And something i ask my wife to do - either because (1) I am doing something else; or (2) because I have done it the last 3 or 4 times it needed to be done (like empty the dishwasher, take the recycling down to the bin in the garage because it is overflowing the can in the kitchen, bring up the 12-pack of diet coke from the downstairs fridge, etc.) and so I think it is her turn to do it; or (3) because she is the one who did something (like messed the cover by heating food in the microwave) that causes something to need to be done.

Re: systems

Yeah I did a poor job of explaining that piece of my other post.  What I was trying to say is for me to "notice" things is very difficult but can be done; but for me to notice things as fast and effectively as my wife will never be a reality for me.  I can't match her speed even with effective treatment but it doesn't mean I can't contribute.  As most folks with ADHD I notice things when they either become a problem or become stimulating enough to be visible above what is already on my plate.  I can contribute by:

Take one of your examples:

Empty the dishwasher - for you yeah maybe its something you do when you "notice" it needs to be done.  If I was to take that approach I at a minimum would 99% of the time notice well past when my wife did and usually well past her tolerance for letting it sit there.  What I can do is make it part of my routine, my system and schedule each day.  At the same time everyday it is my job to check to see if the dishwasher needs to be unloaded.  When I mastered that it changed to on week days I will check it first thing after work and on weekends first thing when I get up.  The first 3 months I had to have a pop up reminder buzz, vibrate and scream at me to remember to do it.  After that it was built in and now its just on my check list with no active reminders.  The only times I miss it is when I am emotionally distraught, super stressed or out of town for work.  My fail safe is my checklist I review before I go to sleep every night.

My point is it might not need to be a system for you but for me or someone else with ADHD maybe it does.  Maybe they won't/can't "notice" as well but it doesn't mean that they can't help meet the need and add it to their system.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Usually, I empty the dishwasher because I usually cook.  I am not sure that asking that my wife to check the dishwasher at the same time each day would suffice, as what I am really asking, when I ask her to empty it, is "Will you please empty the dishwasher before I start cooking our next meal?"  Because, I am the type of person that cleans behind myself when I cook.  So, if the dishwasher is full with clean dishes when I am ready to start cooking, the first thing I "need" to do is empty it.  And usually, when I begin to cook, my wife isn't present.  Either she is still upstairs when I start to cook breakfast, or not yet home from work when I start to cook dinner.  Though maybe, if she did check it each morning, there would be nights when I get home from work and start cooking when I would find it empty!  (For example, we ran it last night.  I left for work before my wife did.  And I'm sure I will come home to a full dishwasher this evening, that I will need to empty before starting dinner.  Had she checked it this morning, I might be coming home to an empty dishwasher. 

But that still doesn't solve the problem of those things that just crop up in the moment, where I ask my wife to do something, she says "yes" and then doesn't follow through.  I suppose I could just decide to do those things myself, rather than ask her to do them and then get pissed that she says yes and then doesn't do them.  But when I do, I just end up feeling like a martyr because I end up feeling like I am doing more than my share, and also feeling resentful that I can't count on my wife to help when I ask her to.  Kind of feels like I am between a rock and a hard place here.

summerwine's picture

How about I am asking you to

How about I am asking you to please do this RIGHT NOW before you do anything else? I know you want to to do X but it would mean a lot to me if you took care of this right now. Something like that? It's hard to just stop what I'm doing to switch to take care of something and then go right back. Maybe if someone acknowledged that? Honey I know it's hard to switch gears and you really just want to sit and eat your food but it would mean the world to me if you rinsed off the cover right now. Is there anything that I can do for you right now in exchange?


But you know. She has to decide to do this stuff. She has to decide to fight the urge to leave it for later. Its like quitting smoking. You cant nag someone to quit smoking. You can't ask them to. They have to decide for themselves and commit to quitting. Its like that. She has to decide to fight the ADHD. Then you become her partner in the fight. Honey remember how you are going to try to take care of stuff right now? Well here is your reminder, I will take your plate to the table while you rinse the cover. Right now you are like, trying to manipulate her and the situation to make her do stuff when you want it done. Instead of working together as a team to fight the ADHD.

This thread is Educational and Amusing at the same time!

Ritual chores... Absolutely are the best. I've posted about my insane OCD "Order of Operations" when it comes to my standard weekday. Without this routine, I forget stuff and am usually late for work. ADD Husband is also right that even on my most effective medicated days, I will not notice everything that needs to be done. This is new for us improving ADDer's, it is like our new awareness to facial expressions and body language that we did not see for the majority of our lives. Even if I notice an unexpected chore that needs to be done, unless it is more dire than the chores on my ritual, it can wait. The worst thing is when my DW notices something first and rails on me for not seeing it. My oblivion is legendary in the days of old, but much improved in the last 2.5 years. My DW's tone used when pointing out what I "Should" have seen is key these days. I used to feel guilty and stupid for missing something, but I don't anymore. I pretty much bust my hump getting stuff done these days and I'm not a mind reader, so if she waits until she is pi$$ed off about the fact that "She" is the only one who "Ever" notices anything. I will not react well to the condescending tone. If she asks me to take care of it in a non-confrontational way, like others have said, I fight the "In a minute" response and just do it. It is wonderful to see her reaction when she asks about it later and I've already completed the task. If I'm working on something else, I'll ask her if the new item is more important to complete than what I'm working on and if I stop I might not finish the original task. We usually have a plan when it comes to weekend projects.

Now the funny part... I'm the "Kitchen Police" OCD guy at out house. I became this way because I learned how much harder a BORING job can be if you are not efficient. I cook and clean at the same time, as much as possible. I cover my splatty food in the microwave (Always), I rinse off all food and drink residue off my silverware, dishes and glasses and immediately load into the dishwasher, unless it is full of clean dishes (Which I'll unload if I have time), or stack neatly in the dish drainer thing. Counters wiped down before anything dries (Harder to clean later) I break down all boxes in the recycle bin (BECAUSE They fill up the bin in two days otherwise!!!) I go crazy when stuff is piled in the sink with food, drinks with straws, silverware in the strainer with crustified food on it!!! Why??? Because I clean the kitchen more than anyone else in the house. My DW will clean, but does not use my ideals which make life easier. Why work twice as hard at a Boring A$$ Job??? Rant is over :)

We all have are specialties I guess :)

It just becomes so hard "NOT"

It just becomes so hard "NOT" to manipulate to get things done.  Especially those of us who have been waiting years, in hope, that our ADHDer will decide to begin fighting their many symtoms.

summerwine's picture

Wow she actually uses a cover

Wow she actually uses a cover in the microwave? I'm totally impressed I always forget that I even own one! Mine just sits in some cupboard I'd have to dig just to find it. Good for her! That's awesome. Your wife has to decide to fight the little voice in her head that says Do it later, not now. its a constant fight all day and every day and its really hard and it wears you out big time. I try to stick to things that really matter if I do it right now because I just CAN'T do everything right now its just to much. Medication helps me fight the urge to leave things for later but mostly its just practice and pure will power. It's harder to make myself do the dishes right now than when I was quitting smoking and telling myself that I don't really want a cigarette. That's how hard it is its harder than quitting smoking. She needs help in the fight not being brought down. Some thing your going to have to let slide. How much does it matter if the the cover thingy gets washed? I'm impressed she uses one at all! But what I would say is something like Honey if you rinse out the cover right now it will be really easy and take 5 seconds but if you wait it will dry and be way harder. Please do it now and then I will kiss you and tell you how awesome you are. Or maybe offer to carry her plate to the table for her if she cleans the cover right now? She just needs to learn that it really is easier to clean sauce off something right away and then force herself to do it and it helps to have help and praise and love and no judgment. And you need to remember that its a fight to do stuff like that and sometimes she will lose the fight or not have enough energy to fight at all. The keys in my house are Neutral Redirection, Neutral Requests and Positive Reinforcement.

Smiling at your comment

I found myself smiling as I read your comment.  Actually - I usually have to remind her to use the cover, which we keep right in the microwave.  :-)

I LOVE what you said though about phrasing my request in this manner "Honey - if you rinse out the cover right now I'll give you a kiss and tell you how awesome you are."  I think she might respond to that!  Sounds like a win-win!!

Okay - I think I'm getting it now.

So I've been reading this incredibly long thread from a few months back, and I think I've finally had an a-ha moment.  I've just thought about how I treat my ADD wife when she forgets something versus how I would treat a co-worker or a friend for forgetting something, and I can totally see how it is very easy to show disrespect without intending to.  Example - a co-worker forgets to send me a report I requested.  My usual attempt to correct this would be something like - "hey Barb, I need that report I asked about."  She usually just responds, "oh sorry, I forgot it."  But here is an example of what I sometimes fall into with my wife... she forgets that she agreed to help me with the bills at 8pm.  My reaction would usually be something like, "you said you'd meet at 8pm to help me.  What happened?"  I felt justified in asking this, but if I use the frame of mind that I use with a co-worker, I would never say that.  Instead I might simply say, "honey, I really need your help on the bills.  Can we reschedule for 9am tomorrow?"

I think I've just realized that I often show more respect for my co-workers than my own family in the way I sometimes communicate.  I realize that I also do this with my kids.  I'm frequently saying, "why didn't you pick up your room?" or "why haven't you unloaded the dishwasher", which I now see could really cause shame to someone that is sensitive.  One of my daughters isn't the slightest bit phased by my directness, but the other (whom I suspect may have ADHD) responds just the way my wife does, with incredible shame and defensiveness.  I suspect this is a communication nuance that is lost in many troubled relationships - not just ADHD marriages.  I just need to train myself to think about how I would address an issue with a co-worker or friend when I'm disappointed in something they did.

Perhaps this will spawn better days ahead.  I've just never been able to connect that someone could perceive my words so negatively.  My family knows that I love them, so it's hard for me to conceive that someone could be hurt so easily by words, but for someone with a lot of sensitivity it does make sense.  And knowing that I never use that tone with friends or co-workers, it certainly seems like something I can adjust in myself to improve things.  I'm a bit pumped up now.    Maybe this can help others struggling to reach their spouses.

Nice "Ah-Ha" moment...

I was not diagnosed with ADD until age 43. I've responded well to Adderall, and have continued to study and post about my experiences. After a lifetime of forgetting things and disappointing people it is really hard to not feel attacked when something you forget is brought up. I'm so much better about remembering things, but every now and then I will. (Anyone can) You would not believe the instant shame, guilt and anger at yourself you feel at that "$hit! I forgot the One thing that I was asked to do" moment. I had an instance a few months ago where I was asked to stop by the store for one thing and an old friend of mine called me in the car on my way home, before the call I knew I was stopping by the store, then the call went on, I was driving on Auto-Pilot and went straight to the house, walked in, saw the Angry look on her face (Non-ADDer) and railed me. Since my Adderall awakening I don't just shut-down and take the beating anymore. I looked at my DW and asked her if she Really thought I forgot on purpose just for the "Fun" of this kind of verbal beating! Really?!? I think she got what I was saying, but was in "Auto-React Mode" based on the years of me forgetting stuff. Being 2.5 years post diagnosis it takes a long time to create a New Perception that I Do remember most things asked of me.

You mention that Adderall did not help your wife much... Has she tried larger or smaller doses or any other alternative meds? It takes a while to get that figured out.

Great work so far on your part!

Thanks for the note, YYZ. 

Thanks for the note, YYZ.  She's never been very diligent about checking in with her primary care physician who prescribes the Adderall, so she hasn't really played with dosages and timing to try to maximize the benefit.  The other challenge is that she's gluten intolerant (Celiac's disease), has a thyroid disorder, and she's been fighting some nasty gastro  and chronic pain issues for quite a while, so I think she gets really tired of the all the doctor stuff that she has to balance and monitoring her Adderall becomes a lower priority.

This is repetitive, but after re-reading and thinking further about my earlier post, I still can't believe I've never noticed the difference between something like "why did you spend that $200 without telling me?" and "we have to figure out a way to make up that $200."  If I change my frame of mind, I immediately see that the first example sounds very accusatory while the latter statement just focuses on the challenge at hand.  She may still perceive them the same.  Only time will tell, but I sure see the difference now. 

Anytime :)

Having gastro issues could make it difficult for an ADDer taking Adderall, because Adderall can easily upset the stomach. AND over-whelm can totally shut-down an ADDer. This was how my ADD was discovered...

The money issue is a tough one, but what works fairly well for us is we agree that if we are going to spend more than $100 on anything personal or out of the ordinary that we should discuss the expense together. It might help you two, because a hard number / boundary has always helped me, especially after my diagnosis. To your point, the Way you say things is heard loud and clear, mainly because we ADDer's are so bad at missing the verbal ques that we tend to Over-Read what we hear or see. We have Under-Reacted and gotten slammed later that it is common to go the other way as a coping mechanism. It's a terrible cycle... I'm still learning how to react properly to the things I now see because for 43 years I missed most of them. I'm not Ultra Laid-Back anymore and will engage quickly because I can figure out a response to a situation. The problem is getting to correct amount of response to the current situation. I'm learning a whole new language and most people have a 43 year advantage on me. (Assuming the same age)

It's great that you can see how a minor change in how you say something can mean a world of difference to someone. Welcome to my world :) Most of my life I've blurted out something that did not explain my thoughts well and there was no explaining after the miscommunication... Work in progress :)

llc's picture

I kind of want to cry reading

I kind of want to cry reading this. I was just diagnosed and honestly....I hate, loathe, and despise myself. I am constantly trying to do everything I can for my husband to make up for the fact he's married to me. Reading this forum (which really seems to be muuuuuch more aimed at non-adhdrs Who, as one woman put it, are "saints" for putting up with the horrible spouses. One thread about the good things in an adhd spouse was short and they Said all negative would be deleted.  I've become so discouraged here I am not sure I'll continue. But, reading this mans wonderful aha moment and your response gave me some hope. Thank you.


Thanks, it is useful.  My ADHD guy has long benefited from me being quite low-key and unconfrontational, but unfortunately, that let me slide into marytyrdom.  From other reading I've done here, some non spouses tend to equate ADHD symptoms to "child-like" or childish behavior, and so end up treating their spouse like a child.  We are allowed and expected to be more constructive, reminding, even insisting, when teaching our children things.  We have no business trying to "teach" our spouse things.  And if my guy is busy commenting or even bashing himself about forgetting or procrastinating, I try very hard not to join that party.  

Good for you, for noticing, realizing and acting.  That's all anyone can do, really.  

The trickiest part of this for me is contained in your comment here:  I just need to train myself to think about how I would address an issue with a co-worker or friend when I'm disappointed in something they did.  I personally have quite a bit of responsibility and authority with my direct employees.  Yet I definitely can't address my husband in the same manner.  Yet he's more than a "friend" -- we are friends whose individual actions can have a HUGE impact on the other.  The best analogy very well could be "co-worker"... you have agreed to partner in certain activities and each has their contribution to make, and you need to sustain the relationship for the long-term.  

I have noticed that any "reminder" of things he was to do used to generate the kicked puppy reaction ("I'm a loser").  Since our one "conversation" about ADHD, which went nowhere, my guy is more likely to get defensive.  Which I like even less, if possible.  I'm just mostly going back to doing it myself, or ignoring it.  Good luck with your new insight!

It has been just the opposite

It has been just the opposite in our relationship.  My ADHD husband was more respectful to his co-workers and friends than his own family.  We always walked on egg shells wondering what he was going to blow up about next.  Through the years we lost much of the respect we should have had.  Now, it is an uphill battle trying to regain some of it.

Maybe you could try asking a

Maybe you could try asking a neighbor kid to take the trash out for you for a couple dollars? :) maybe he's step up and take the trash out for you if he knows someone else is doing it. If my husband knows that someone else is going to do a job instead of him, he will usually step up and do it because only he can do things the "right" way ha ha'n

I don't wanna procrastinate

I don't want to procrastinate, but sometimes I find it impossible to tear my focus away from what I'm doing at the moment in order to switch gears and complete a task.  My advice is to, A. stop depending on him to find your glasses and do other things for you.  It's a mistake to think that an ADHD'er is a substitute for independence.  Whatever you need to do to be independent, do that.  If you need to hire help or get a service dog, or something, do that, because obviously you expect him to take care of you and that is just not happening.   and B. have him do his tasks after a transition.  I.e. after supper, after he cleans his dishes and before he gets sucked into another activity.  

I found a different solution

I left him. In my own apartment, nothing is on the floor that shouldn't be so I've only fallen once in the 3 months I've been here. I wash my dishes every day, so I don't have cockroaches. I do my laundry and hang it up, so I have no problem finding clothes to wear when I'm getting ready for work. Living in an apartment, I don't have the big problem of dragging a massively heavy trash can to the curb every week. If I need to call maintenance, I can get the place totally presentable in one evening.

The idea that I should support him and get a second job so I can pay someone else to do these things while he sits and watches NCIS reruns is absurd. Service dogs do not wash dishes or do the laundry or pick the dirty clothes off the floor. If he doesn't think he should have to do that much, then I'm sorry, and he can find someone else to do it for him, not a handicapped woman with a full-time job.

In the particular instance I started this thread off with, we did have a transition. We got out of the car (I drove) and asked him to put the trash out because I saw every else's cans out. He refused. This wasn't forgetting or getting distracted by something else. He wasn't doing anything. He just decided deliberately not to do what needed to be done, and to ensure that I got several hours less sleep so he could do it at a different time. If he didn't wanna procrastinate, he didn't have to. He could have met the household need when it was needed.

OK good for you.  If he

OK good for you.  If he wasn't procrastinating because he couldn't tear his focus away from an activity, then he might not have had any intention of doing it at all.  I hear that being in a relationship with an ADHD'er can feel like living with a child, and it sounds like you didn't need that extra aggravation. 

Oh, he intended to do it

but only when he wanted to. He's got more energy in the morning, so he figured he could do it then. Never mind that HE could go back to sleep and I can't. It did get done and, if you read this board, people don't think the fact that I had to get up 3 or 4 hours earlier to get him going has any significance whatsoever.

It is so hard to love someone and miss him but to know that living with him was unsafe for me.