ADHD and Marriage: You Are SO Different!

If you are in a marriage in which one spouse has ADHD and the other does not, I will guarantee you that you are both even more different than you think.  Your brains works differently, you experience the world around you differently, and you interpret information differently.  By understanding how, you can avoid common communication errors that lots of “mixed” couples make as well as learn to treasure your unique abilities.

Here are some of the key ways you are different:

People with ADD receive information in a “flat” way:  The non-ADD brain is hierarchical in terms of how it interprets lots of information coming at it.  What’s “important” is naturally sorted to the top (even if you aren’t thinking about this happening), while what’s not so important is suppressed enough to get out of the way.  So, for example, if a person without ADD is sitting in a meeting while someone is speaking, their mind generally blocks out the sound of the coffee machine, the tapping of a pencil across the table, the green flashing light of someone’s Blackberry.  Not so with the ADD person.  This mind sees all of those things – and they are all received with almost equal intensity.

Dr. Hallowell describes this as having a “noisy” brain.  Lots is going on, lots is coming in, and a key struggle is to learn to both identify and focus on the “top” priority event at any time.

A frequent mistake made by non-ADD spouses is to interpret the actions and responses made by their ADD spouse as if they had similar hierarchical brains.  A classic example – an ADD husband isn’t paying too much attention to his wife.  She interprets this as “he doesn’t care about me anymore”.  But what’s really happening is that he’s distracted.  He loves her a lot, but her walking into the room comes into his head at about the same level of urgency as the computer screen in front of him and the cat in the chair next to him.  He’s not trying to be rude.  He’s just distracted.  His brain is noisy.

A couple can get around the damage that this “noisiness” causes by doing two things:  1.)  The non-ADD spouse can be sensitive to the fact that this distraction isn’t intentional and 2.)  Both spouses should recognize that this is an area of potential conflict (intentional or not) and make sure to create scheduled time to spend focused on each other away from other distractions.  Perhaps a regular date night, Saturday afternoon bike rides or hanging out together an hour before dinner each evening.  This reassures the non-ADD spouse and helps both maintain much-needed connection.

You perceive time differently:   I laugh when I hear Ned Hallowell say there are really only two time zones for a person with ADD – “now” and “not now”!  A person with ADD is very “present” focused.  Something that was going on 10 minutes ago is out of mind, as is the thing that is supposed to happen 10 minutes into the future.

This “present-ness” shows up in a number of ways in your marriage.  An ADD husband, for example, may have trouble remembering what you talked about not too long ago.  He may know that it’s good to save money for the future, but has trouble staying focused on that goal when spending right now seems so much more appealing.  Research  shows that executive function issues in the brain account for these differences.  So, if it seems as if you have the same arguments over and over again - well, you probably do, because that last one you had was in the “not now”.

Another way to think of “now and not now” is to imagine you have “time tunnel vision”.  Here is how one man with ADD describes how he interacts with time:
“I often use this analogy: I look at time through a paper towel roll moving from left to right on a time-line. I see only what is in my vision at that moment. As I progress along the time-line the thoughts and sights that were in my little window have passed to the left and often forgotten. If I act on things in the window I can be somewhat successful. If I miss it, it could be gone forever. I also cannot see or think about the time to the right of my window. This makes it difficult to plan ahead. (For instance, I have a hard time planning for the weekend and before you know it, the weekend is here and I have no plans.)”

Being aware of “now/not now” (or “time tunnel vision” if you prefer that) can work in your favor.  You’ll probably be more successful, for example, if you don’t put the ADD spouse in charge of long-term planning.  And consider “now and not now” when planning chores.  A task that is not currently being done is in the “not now” zone.  But, if you can create an emotionally neutral system of reminders that brings a task back into the “now” at the right time, it has a far greater chance of getting done.  I say “emotionally neutral” because it is important to choose a way that doesn’t make the ADD person defensive.  Setting an alarm or posting a note can be neutral.  Nagging and berating is never so.

A related, but different difference in terms of how you both perceive time is that the ADD spouse perceives time more fluidly than does the non-ADD spouse.  People with ADD are terrible judges of how long it will take them to do something – hence the reason that they are often late, and don’t seem to learn from how long it took them to do something in the past.  There are essentially two versions of time fluidity that I’ve seen.  One is the “consistently wrong” version – in which someone consistently underestimates how long it will take them to complete a task because their sense of time is always off in the same way (my husband).  The other is what I think of as “unevenly distracted” (my daughter).  In this case, the person with ADD might get distracted by anything while doing a project – or might not.  So she’ll often guess wrong about how long something will take, but she might be off by a little, or off by a lot - and which it will be is unpredictable.

A non-ADD spouse can compensate for the former by allowing a consistently greater amount of time for any project.  If my husband says “5 minutes!” I leave about 25 and don’t worry about it.  In the latter, you need to keep closer track by checking in with your partner on a regular basis.  Again, you need to figure out a mutually agreeable way to do this that is “neutral” between you.  With my daughter, it’s usually just a “how are you doing?” question and response…I don’t try to alter what she is doing, just stay on top of where she is so that I may plan what I am doing around her without getting annoyed.

How emotions are expressed and received:  If you are the non-ADD spouse, do you often think that your ADD spouse is “overreacting”?  This is another difference between you.  One neuropsychological study done in 2002 suggested that adults with ADHD show a greater intensity of expressed emotion as well as less intensity in terms of how they recognize emotion in others.  Another study found that ADD adults tend to use less emotion laden words than those without ADD to express themselves.  Think about the importance that understandable communication plays in how couples get along, and you can see immediately why this might cause friction!  When a non-ADD spouse wants to get an emotional issue across (“I’m feeling really lonely and depressed!”) the ADD spouse is likely to under-interpret and under-respond while when something less important is communicated (“would you please do the dishes?”) you may get an explosion!  Soon, you feel completely out of sync.

Just being aware of the fact that this is an artifice of the executive function issues that an ADD adult has “built in” can help a couple devise ways to diminish the mismatches that may occur around this issue.

Energy and Speed:  Hallowell likens living with ADD to driving in the rain with bad windshield wipers at about 90 miles per hour.  Every once in a while things are very clear, but most of the time you’re not completely sure what’s coming at you – and it’s coming fast!  He is referring to two kinds of speed here – the bracing, euphoric, exciting variety (think race car driving) and also the speed and all-encompassing way that information comes at a person with ADD.  As pointed out earlier, ADD brain has few filters on it – everything enters at once, and in a big jumble.  This provides some interesting dilemmas in a world that values hierarchy, but also opportunity. 

Embracing speed is one aspect of ADD with which many non-ADD spouses have trouble.  While it may have been exciting during your courtship, it seems more threatening (and often exhausting!) once you’ve settled into a marriage.  It also often seems diffuse and unharnessable, which is frustrating once the chores and responsibilities of married life settle in.

I advised one woman whose ADD husband went on business trips every two weeks (which she described as periods of “blissful calm”) then came home in a whirlwind (“completely exhausting!”) to start to plan ahead for ways to harness that energy in a positive way.  I suggested scheduling fun outings with the kids to take advantage of her husband’s energy, and perhaps some time out together.  But I also suggested that she plan her own much-needed downtime while he was home, as well - perhaps scheduling to go to the library to read or a quieter night out with her girlfriends.  If you are exhausted by the energy of your ADD spouse, setting quiet time aside just for you is important for your health, as well as for the health of the marriage.

Impulse control:  One of the hallmarks of ADHD is lack of impulse control.  This leads to the ADD spouse interrupting you in the middle of an important discussion point, or saying “honest” but hurtful things because he didn’t think about how to word what he was saying carefully before the words “got out”.  It’s easy to misinterpret this as intentionally rude behavior…but it’s unintentional.  The ADD spouse needs to take control of the behavior (it hurts, intentional or not!) but it helps if the non-ADD spouse is understanding enough to support a spouse’s efforts to get impulses under control rather than lash out at the rudeness and trigger defensiveness and anger responses in the ADD partner that get in the way of solving the problem.  With this particular issue, ADD treatment can help a great deal.

Vive la differance! These differences between the two of you are likely part of why you were attracted to each other in the first place and should be treasured, rather than discouraged.  Impulsive people can make great entrepreneurs, and people who receive information in a “flat” way often have a great ability to “think outside the box” because their brain doesn’t get in the way.  Energy, of course, can be a real asset when you are trying to accomplish something difficult, and speed can allow a person with ADD to juggle many things at once.  Conversely, the ability to think ahead is a wonderful asset, as is organizational ability.

So my point here is this – be open to learning how different you really are and you will be better positioned to have a successful partnership of two unique, and wonderful, individuals.

Comments

Wow! I was diagnosed with

Wow! I was diagnosed with ADHD about a month ago. I never knew that people without it think in a hierarchical way. In fact I really never knew they thought differently than I do. But this is kind of stunning news to me. I can hardly conceive of what it must be like to be listening to someone and not care about the air conditioning and the car that just went by. I really don't get this. Sure it has happened before like when I first met someone I was romantically interested in, but it sure doesn't last. Are people without ADD really that interested in what other people are saying? I find what people are saying incredibly boring most of the time, and really it often is, who care what the weather is like, we all know what it is like. But I often find myself wondering "what the heck is that person talking about?" and "why do these other people seem so interested in it."

La Difference!

Well, I'm new to this blog and after jumping for joy many times now, I have read this particular post with great interest as it is a 'hot topic' around our house lately, or rather a hot potato! My husband (the non-ADHD half of this marriage) is struggling with my 'differences' from his. Mind you, he is a highly focused, its-either-black-or-white, self-disciplined, purposefully directed surgeon and I am an ex-registered nurse and now dedicated creative artist who can't stop committing myself to solving exciting new problems, taking on all sorts of projects and wonderful new ideas and has little piles and stacks of half finished but VERY IMPORTANT before mentioned projects in every room; so you can imagine how much 'fun' we have here at our house on a daily basis. Oh, and add to this delicious soup: one 10 year old son with ADHD and anxiety disorder who is quite a surly-preteen handful on any given day. Recipe for chaos, serve 'em up! I think where we are stuck, or (since I am writing this message) where HE is stuck, is that he feels this is a) not at all what he had expected for a home life at this stage of his life b) he feels he needs to lower his expectations to be able to adjust c) he can't understand why the two ADHD people in the house just don't do things 'his' way aka the right way, which though just short of Joan Crawford-esque organization, is still quite tidy at all times. I am on a one -ADHD- woman crusade to convince him that a) expectations are usually unrealistic and I'm quite sure many people don't expect to end up jobless, with a serious illness or disability, a divorce or cheating spouse, etc etc. b) saying he needs to 'lower' his expectations implies to me that he might feel or consider ADHD people to be less than a non ADHD person and I think it's just a different path we take to get to a mutually similar destination c) I am famous for saying to him: "Gee, how is it up there in your perfect little world anyway? It must be awfully lonely for you, and quite boring with no one making mistakes or forgetting things or always arriving on time." So we find ourselves at a crossroads right now, though we are both happy and love each other and our son very much. I can't shake the feeling that, even if he 'accepts' our differences, I will always feel like he is 'settling for less'. I guess I really wish that he appreciated and loved the qualities about me that actually make ME who I am. Now, am I the one being unrealistic and I should just be happy he is 'accepting'? That just seems to be such a negative way for our son and I to be perceived and to perceive ourselves. The chaos continues, though we are signing up for the 1 week camp in Glen Arbor so I suspect that will be quite helpful.

La difference

I'm a wife of an ADHD man, and yes, it's very difficult. We just had a baby and my husband is spending all the money on his vices - drinking, smoking, fast food, complaining about the cost of diapers, yelling at me in the middle of the night when he gets up to change a diaper, and I'm about ready to leave him. He keeps asking what's wrong and as long as I'm not yelling at him, he thinks it's okay. He moves so fast he keeps breaking glasses and he wants to stay home to watch the baby, but I don't trust him with our son. Is it a lack of respect for himself, me and our new family? Why do I feel like I'm sacrificing everything for our baby and he hasn't changed one bit?

La difference by Andicran

Sounds just like my husband when we had our child.  The same vices and the yelling all the time.  Only difference, it was 20 years ago for me and we did not know my husband had ADHD.  Just thought he was a jerk.  He spent very little time with our child, very little time at home and regretfully now, does not have a very good relationship with our daughter.  I sacrificed everything, husband didn't and the resentment grew and grew.  Not a good season in our lives.

Luckily, you are aware of the disorder and perhaps can take steps to get through to him that you both have another human being to now take care of.  If and when he realizes this maybe he will slow down on spending money.     

I'm a stay at home mom with

I'm a stay at home mom with our one year old. My husband is a very hard working man and wants to do the best to take care of our family! He has ADD and since we have been married I have found there to be extremely difficult times with him or our differences of opinion in a discussion. He gets very defensive, makes it out as though i'm attacking him when i am just trying to express my view. I am a teacher, presently stay home, but I am very open-minded and understanding. I have never had any trouble communicating with friends, family whoever and if there has been a difference of opinion or argument its always worked out fine. With my husband he seems to get in these fits of rage, ignores me all day, by sleeping in bed, or by leaving the house for hours on end to show up whenever he feels like it and will not answer if I call. he is an amazing man with a huge huge heart and wants nothing but the best, however I'm beginning to have had it! When we first got married, we saw a counselor just to prevent circumstances like we are in on  a regular basis. The couseling started out good, then it became "a waste of money" , we can work this out together, I continued counseling and he stopped. I've read books, talked to his mother about how to work with him or understand him. He wanted so much to make an effort for me to make things right and went back to the counselor to give it another try and we even tried going separately, but that last attempt he stormed out and was very mad and never returned.. I continued for a few more months, actually until our son was born. Things have gotten a little better.. although when we don't see eye to eye.. or in how I perceive it.. I don't see things his way he raises his voice, makes comments, or completely talks down to me. I get so angry to be treated with such disrespect over something so small that I yell. I know that is never right, but this is after being called names, being ignored for days on end. We've been in an argument for a week because he doesn't want to address the issue or acknowledege me.. I've tried writing down my thoughts to avoid conflict just to have the note torn apart, but when he comes around he says all the right things to make things right, reads or listens to what I have to say. It just takes days ... or when it is the right time for him. He sees his ADD doctor when he needs a refill for pills and thats it. He is very open to working or doing anything to make things good, I'm at the point though that it is taking a toll on this relationship, on me! He went to a rltnshp class with me to try another approach that may be more fun or whatever and it was.. but that was a year ago.. the pattern continues.. we argue, he leaves, or sleeps all day, or ignores me .. acts like nothing happened.. will say sorry for calling me names and compliment me and tell me I mean the world to him and everything and more I would ever want to hear.. its amazing.. I'm just sick and tired of waiting on him.. me doing the work to make up most of the time.. me being understanding to his situation but him not always doing the same for me!! I'm a very strong willed strong person who sticks up for myself and always will.. When I've had enough of the name calling or mood swings, I say I've had it.. I've tried being nice, tried different attempts to ask for help around the house.. some things have changed some and yes he makes attempts to be the best husband he can.. i'm at the point where enough is enough. I don't want to leave him, we have a great life, amazing life, away from all the drama from the arguments.. I'm glad I found this site it has helped me to feel some sort of release and understanding.. I just don't know what to do. I'm going to see about him checkign this site out and he probably will be open to it.. I've tried the couseling, books, talking to his mother.. (which she gives great advice, but also just expects me to let it all go) Well when I'm being treated poorly I will not let it go.. I will not sit back and put up with it. I stay at home with our son all day while he works, he helps me out and is a wonderful father.. but I ask over and over for help.. He doesn't understand how much I do and why I need his help from time to time.. and where are we right now.. in an argument over something small.. while he stormed out and left.. no answer when I called, when I have specifically explained why with a child and family it is important to answer the phone.. not to mention the respect. he will probably come home and act like everything is fine or not talk to me.. while I've been here with our son all day... his last day of his break off from work.. and no help at all from him.. not to mention the lack of communication. I don't know what to do anymore.. I think I'll probably set up a mtng with an ADD doctor or his doctor to try and relate to this more. I'm tired of doing all the work.. making up, chores, etc.. just to be ignored and continually talked down to. I lvoe him more than anything.. I just get no respect, help, concern anything when we argue. I'm here on this site checking out ways to help this rltnshp while he is getting time for himself.. something he would give me if I asked for but not offered much .. I'm tired of asking for help from him and being "abandoned" in a sense after an argument.. I've never fought with someone so much, never gotten so upset with anyone ever.. he is my husband with ADD and a terrible temper.. and a mother who just excuses this behavior.. His dad and his brother have ADD but not nearly at all like my husband. Anyways feels better to get off my chest and I'd love any opinions, advice,.. whatever..

INTERRUPTING IS RUDE.

Yeah, sure, "vive la difference." Just realize that the interruptions aren't intentionally rude. What a bunch of BS. As a non-ADD spouse who lives with an ADD wife and her ADD son, I"m sick of being the one required to bend. I can only be patient to a limit. I'm a lawyer, I choose my words carefully. When I choose them, I like to use them. I HATE being cut off in the middle of my sentence!! Over and over and over and over and over again. Especially when we are talking about a difficult, potentially divisive subject (like her son's compulsive lying for example), it's the same old thing. I start to say something, she interrupts, I politely ask her not to, I try to go back to where I was before being interrupted, and she interrupts me again. By the time it happens a fourth or fifth time, that's it, I've lost it. It's rude. Period. It's like this insane dance that keeps skipping to a new move without the original move ever being completed. Is it any wonder I don't want to "open up" and communicate? Why should I? I will only be cut off before I finish what I have to say. Yet this article and almost every other article written by or about people with ADD asks non-ADD spouses to just be patient and know that it's not intentional. Excuse me, but you don't have to INTEND something to be liable for it. When you're negligent, for example, you don't intend the consequences of your actions (e.g., hitting and killing a pedestrian while talking on the cell phone when driving) but you're still liable. The same standard should apply for people with ADD. By the way, don't suggest the "timer" (which is an absurd way to have a "conversation" because it's really a series of monologues). My wife interrupts me when it's "my turn." That's the worst part of not having ADD when married to someone who does. You NEVER get your turn!! I HATE ADD. If you have ADD, you have to know that you do this, so be aware of it and when your non-ADD spouse points it out, don't get defensive. Just listen. I

I agree with you Michael. At

I agree with you Michael. At the end of the day, no matter what the intentions were by the ADD spouse, we non- Adders are still hurt, lonely, sad, frustrated, exhausted, bewildered etc...

Is it "RUDE" to use Higher Octane Fuel?

I read Michael's "frustration" as to what he thinks is "rude" behavior. I cannot comment of his wife's actions as I do not know her. I CAN comment on his frustration on being interrupted. Adapt. Think of yourself like an Aerospace company. Aerospace "A", (You.) Have perfected engines the can utilize a Higher Octane Fuel, allowing development of planes that fly faster, higher, longer. Aerospace "B". (Your Competion,) Due to their limited R&D budget has not been able to devlop the more advanced fueld engines. You are both competing for a contract to build a new Passenger plane worth billions. Would it be RUDE for Aerospace "A", (You.) to use your more advanced engine as you compete for the contract? You are not being Rude when you utilize a strength. What I want to know is why YOU can not talk and listen at the same time? Oh. You must be Aerospace B. Bummer.

author of higher octane comment

That is a ridiculous analogy. Don't be so judgmental of Michael. They are his feelings and he is entitled to have them.

Using your (rather bizarre)

Using your (rather bizarre) analogy, my response is that I never get the chance to bid on the "contract" in the first place because the "bidding process" is disrupted by the interruptions.

?

I really don't understand that analogy.A conversation is not bidding on a contract (it's also not a competition). It's a back-and-forth discussion, but if one person is constantly interrupted, it isn't a real conversation.

I have ADD and I've a seven

I have ADD and I've a seven year old son who has ADHD as well. I'm not one to interrupt conversations ( though I commit other faux pas, for certain ) but my son is terrible about this and its maddening. Its particularly bad when my spouse and I are discussing something, or one of us is trying to have a conversation with someone else - the interruptions are incessant and inane. It makes having normal social interactions virtually impossible when he is around or is not otherwise occupied. However, he rarely interrupts me or my spouse when we are talking to him - and I must admit, I lecture him frequently. Just curious, does your wife also interupt other people? Does she interject herself when you and another are talking, or is it just when you are discussing something with her? ============================================================= Singularity shows something wrong in the mind. - Erica Jong

Just the latter (when she and

Just the latter (when she and I are talking). She literally will interrupts me mid-sentence. After repeated interruptions I lose my patience and will (in a loud voice) talk OVER her when she interrupts in order to finish my sentence. Then she will say something like, "Oh my God, listen to you!", focusing on my anger while completely overlooking or ignoring what caused me to get to that point in the first place.

I thought that might be the

I thought that might be the case - your wife interrupting you only. Your wife's behaviours being a mirror-image of my son's in that regard. Anyway, I'll wager that when she and you are debating whether to add mushroom soup to the roast or some other mundane matter, the interruptions are far less frequent, if at all. Its the emotionally-charged issues, or routine matters that have a potential or an implied potential for volatility, that trigger or set the stage for her loutish behaviour. You're in the kitchen, everything is fine and then its realised that there isn't any broth for the stew and then she goes off - seemingly at nothing. But there is something: She realises that it was she who was supposed to have gotten the broth and so it becomes an emotional issue due to guilt and avoiding blame On occasion, I find the need to ring the wife up at her job for one reason or another, and quite often I'm unable to reach her. I remember getting miffed a few times and saying something to the effect ' Oh, of course, you're not in AGAIN'. Once my wife had left her cell-phone at home by mistake and, expecting an important call, asked me to listen to her voice messages. While listening, I heard this fellow, this surly, self-important, overbearing curmudgeon making snide remarks on account, it seemed, because he was unable to talk to her in person. The hair on the back of my neck bristled while listening to this schmuck. The longer I listened, the more I detested his tone, his manner, everything I heard coming from his mouth. It was me, of course, that had left the voice mail for my wife. It was by far, not the worst one I'd left for her, either. Then, I recalled how often I'd waved her off when she had told me how rude I was...then a light-bulb went on. I've never left anything but a pleasant, brief message on her voice mail since; regardless of the circumstances or how upset I might be. It might be involve some effort and forethought on your part, but you might want to set up some kind of video cam system in your home - something that you can turn on remotely, without her knowledge, and record a few of these sessions. Don't show it to her until after the embers of your arguing have completely cooled. Your wife might be as disgusted with what she sees and hears as I was... ======================================================================== Even Agent Smith Gets the Blues - Eugen Donohoe, Dublin City

you are missing something.....

I can understand how you feel Michael, and relate, as my husband has ADHD. The thing that is hardest to remember, is they really cannot help interrupting. It is going on as a function that through no fault of hers..happens in her brain. The very thing in your brain that helps you to NOT do it..is firing in a different way in hers. It is very hard in the moment to remember this..so maybe this will help. When I need to have my husband to take in information that is important, I try to do it over several days..vs all at once. Also remember you will have to always help her to correct the problem, sometimes almost all on your own, that is just the reality of it. Trust me, she doesn't want to have the ADHD, and really feels bad that her child is suffering. It is like most things in life..some are real buggers to deal with, but if you take it one day at a time..and remember they can't help it, and it is never on purpose, it helps alot. Also remember, if on any medication, it just helps her to manage it some, it never will cure it or allow her to function like you and I do.

Interrupting

I totally agree with you. It's rude and disrespectful. ADD is not an excuse because even people with ADD can learn communication skills. They should be held responsible for their impact on others feelings when they communicate. Sometimes, I actually have to raise my hand to speak, and he still keeps on talking! I have left the room before and told him that if he wants to have a conversation by himself to go ahead and have it. It's ridiculous and I am sick of it. I hate ADD too!

Wow - how narrow-minded!

Wow - how narrow-minded! That's like saying someone who is blind can learn to see. I don't think so. When you're getting older and need some help doing things, I hope someone gets really nasty with you and tells you that you need to just get out of your wheelchair and tend to yourself because you're annoying the people who are supposed to love you by relying on them to support you.

Someone who is blind can learn

Someone who is blind can learn to use tools. They can learn to use Braille or a talking computer to read, they can learn to use a white cane or a guide dog. If I went blind, I would expect to use the tools available to me and not expect my husband to read everything to me. Your way suggests that ADD folks are helpless, and can not learn to live in the world, and we non-ADD people have to take care of them forever. Surely, that would lead to resentment, just as my husband would resent it if I demanded that he lead me everywhere instead of learning to use a white cane.

The ADD person should be responsible to limit the impact of their ADD on the people who love them, by learning to manage their condition the way blind people or people in wheelchairs or diabetics on insulin learn to manage theirs.

 "Your way suggests that ADD

 "Your way suggests that ADD folks are helpless, and can not learn to live in the world, and we non-ADD people have to take care of them forever." Exactly. People with ADD are either fully-functioning adults and should take responsibility for their behavior, or they need our help and should accept it graciously. If I was blind and someone helped me across the street, I wouldn't start a fight with them or hit them with my cane; I'd thank them. My ADD ex never recognized that I was trying to help him (like remind him when he forgot something) and got defensive and mad.

Rude Interuptions

Interupting IS rude, and this is clearly such an anger-making topic for you that you didn't even finish my sentence that I wrote above about it...so I'll repeat it here for you:

"The ADD spouse needs to take control of the behavior (it hurts, intentional or not!) but it helps if the non-ADD spouse is understanding enough to support a spouse’s efforts to get impulses under control rather than lash out at the rudeness and trigger defensiveness and anger responses in the ADD partner that get in the way of solving the problem.  With this particular issue, ADD treatment can help a great deal."

As you can see, I've said something quite different from "just be patient" (and your implication is "do nothing about it").  I'm suggesting that patience is a means to an end - the end being getting the ADD spouse to clean up their act.  (Patience alone isn't the answer, patience and respectful conversation about the issue can help, though.  And, as I said, treatment is really, really helpful in controlling impulsive interuptions.)

I agree that a timer wouldn't work for you.  However a "speaker/listener" format might work.  The objective of that format is to develop better listening skills, as well as better speaking skills (no lectures - shorter bursts of information so that the listener has time to digest, understand and ask questions).  If you wish to pursue finding out how to do this, see the book "Fighting for Your Marriage".  It may seem a bit artificial at first, but it does work...and pretty quickly if you give it a chance.

It is telling that your wife is more likely to interupt you than other people - that suggests that the two of you have developed a particularly poor communication system, and anger and defensiveness probably has something to do with it.  If she is more eager to interrupt you than others, I would take it as an indication that she thinks you are a particularly poor listener and that you aren't paying attention to what she is saying, so she needs to state it again or possibly keep you on track.  There is an easy way to find out if I'm right on this, ask her.  "I've noticed that you interupt me more frequently and more quickly than other people with whom you are talking.  Can you tell me why?"

It is certainly your wife's responsibility to control her rude interuptions...to not do so puts her marriage at risk.  But she will not be inclined to do this as long as you respond to her in angry fashion, just as you are not inclined to share your intimate feelings and "open up" as long as you are angry with her rudeness and the two of you have this particularly poor communication pattern going (this "why should I?" stuff goes both ways).  So it's something of a viscious circle.  I find that people without ADD are particularly opposed to "lightening up" when they get to your stage, as they see is as "caving in" to ADD or "coddling" an adult ADD partner who should "know better".  But I urge you to think more compassionately as the only way to make progress is to work as partners towards a common goal rather than adversaries.  As a laywer, I'm hoping that this statement makes sense to you and that you've seen the difference between the two.  Right now you are acting as adversaries and, in marriage, that seldom works at all.

Interruptions

Melissa: Thank you for your response. I confess I read your initial post rather quickly, while at work and wasn’t able to respond to it as fully and fairly as I normally would. Notwithstanding that admission, I honestly do not feel it is I who must work on listening skills. I do listen. To be good at my job I have to be able to listen well so that I can accurately determine what my client’s problems are and what strategies to take to resolve them. On the other hand, my wife is an ineffective listener. She zones in and out when I am talking to her, even when I try to give it to her in a “bullet point format.” Even when things are calm she interrupts. She listens defensively. She takes offense when non is offended. She mischaracterizes what I have said (whether in the present conversation or a previous one) or, worse, mischaracterizes what SHE has just said. Sometimes she will deny having said something that she said just moments ago! I have a photographic memory when it comes to words so this is extremely unnerving to me - I know what was just said! You indicate that my wife may think I’m a “poor listener” and that that is perhaps the reason for her interruptions. Actually, she’s told me several times after her “meltdowns” (where she loses control of her temper, screams, hurls insults) that she feels the only way that she can “get [me] to listen” is to engage in such tactics. Actually, that’s where I stop listening. Honestly, how can any reasonable person think that you can get someone to listen to you by screaming at them? When I react to her rage, she focuses on my angry reaction to it, completely overlooking the cause of my anger. It’s as if she has no conception of time and the chronology of events. I’m told that’s a symptom of ADD also, the inability to see events in the chronological sequence in which they occur. Yes, at this point I AM opposed to “lightening up,” which is the tone that came through in my post. I have tried to modify my behavior (using a timer, walking away, going for a bike ride) but it I do not see a reciprocal effort on her part. She just keeps repeating the same way of communicating over and over and over again and blaming me for our communication problems when I react negatively to it. I can only walk away or ignore the interruptions for so long. One final point. Her son has ADD too (I could write a dissertation on his compulsive lying!). So I am outnumbered.

As an ADHD woman, I can

As an ADHD woman, I can identify with your wife's behavior. I used to be pretty bad at interruptions myself until a dear friend got very angry at me during a conversation. So I stopped the behavior. When I felt like interrupting, I just took a deep breath and allowed whoever is speaking their turn. It was HARD. It still is.

I still find myself trying to finish other people's sentences. My brain just moves much faster that what the other party is saying. So I breathe deep, let whomever is speaking speak, and then I forget what I am going to say.. :)

The hard part of ADHD is filtering out what to listen to and what to say next.

 

Interuptions for Michael

If you are still willing to try, buy a book entitled "Fighting for Your Marriage" by Howard Markman and others.  There is a speaking/listening technique in there which could help the two of you a lot.  Encourage your wife to read it, too, so that she understands that you truly do want to communicate, listen and understand - that you aren't buying this for her, but for the two of you.  Then experiment with it a bit...but I do think it could help.

Communication help

I have ADHD and my wife does not (or so she claims, though I have strong reservations). We've had enormous communication issues over the years, and I think that although many of them *were* due to undiagnosed ADHD, many of them were not.

One book I've read that I found extremely helpful -- even if only one party to a conversation uses the information in it -- is "Taking the War Out of Our Words." In fact, one of the most powerful aspects to the material in the book is that, unlike some other techniques, it doesn't matter at all whether other parties to the conversation "know what you're doing." There's nothing tricksy or underhanded at all about it. It's a real eye-opener, and I highly recommend it.

Fed up with interruptions too

I feel just as angry as Michael does. Sure, in the flat, unexpressive expanse of an internet message board, he sounds "irrational" in the degree of his frustration. But I've been there. I know just how he feels. My (supposedly ADHD) husband has known for a long time that I will tolerate only 3 interruptions in any conversation. At the third, I shut up and I walk away. This is the case when having just a shared interest conversation. It's the case when we're arguing (again, about his alleged "ADHD" caused behavior). In the latter case, he gets very angry and says things to the effect of how "No one can say anything to you" (subtext, "that you don't want to hear"). That's when I'll tell him that there is no point in my continuing the conversation because I haven't been able to say anything at all. I'll get as far as about 6 words into my first sentence and the interruption comes again. This calls his attention to the behavior. He apologizes for having done it again. But by now, after ten years of dealing with his chaotic sets of behaviors, I don't even care to continue after his apology. I know it's all about the supposed ADHD. I know it's "not his fault". I know his "brain is noisy". I know, I know, I know. But like Michael sounds in his post, I just don't care any longer. If anyone with this supposed neurological condition that "makes" them that rude, inattentive and self-absorbed has the slightest clue, they'll go and get SOME kind of help for this business long before they destroy any feelings a spouse once had for them. I rode my husband to go get therapy because, as mentioned on this blog, I interpreted his actions as passive-aggression and seeming a lot like depression. I was on his case about it for years. It took until I had to disclose to him (and my own counselor) that I fantasized about killing us both before he finally got off his duff to seek help. That counselor suspected ADHD. My husband was sent to an MD who specializes in testing for it. It was concluded to be the case. He's now on the four-hour-long-lasting Ritalin. Not that I can tell the difference, mind you, because if this stuff is doing anything at all, it supposedly does whatever it does for four hours. He's free to go fix the rest of his life with treatment for this supposed neurological dysfunction. I just don't care. I'm still around because our 2 year old son adores him. I do not care to ever get involved with anyone else ever again, so it's not like I even want a new relationship. I've been burned out completely on this one. What love of love I used to have has been destroyed by this nonsense from my husband. I have plans of my own that I am actively pursuing which will take some years to complete. Whatever condition my rude, interrupting, inattentive, self-absorbed husband is in 8-10 years from now is his own business. I'm done and, by that time, I'll be out of here, living in some peace without hourly betrayal by my constantly procrastinating, never helpful, never caring husband. It sounds like Michael is just a few steps behind me. I'm sorry to hear it Michael, but I'm walking in your shoes too.
StopInterrupting's picture

I feel for you.  I know the

I feel for you.  I know the anger and resentment you feel.  It is warranted.  I too am tired of the excuses.  Like someone else on this board, I have come to hate the word "overwhelmed," as if being "overwhelmed" is an excuse for the rages and lack of control.  As I've told my wife many times, I don't fault her for having ADD, just like I don't fault a diabetic for his disability.  However, I DO expect her to mitigate the effects of her disability.  Just as the diabetic must watch what he eats and take insulin if his blood sugar gets too high, so also must my wife must be aware when she gets tired or when she gets overly stressed.  Most of the time she doesn't.  She runs around doing all kinds of chores or running to stores long after she starts getting tired.  I call it the "last slice of pizza syndrome," i.e., when you polish off that last slab before your brain has a chance to get the signal from your stomach that you're full.  By the time it does, it's too late.  So also with ADD'ers.  Like everything else they do, it's all action and motion and no thinking.  Run, run, run.  By the time they stop moving, they're exhausted.  At least that's the way it is with my wife.  And then all hell breaks loose.  I always tell my wife, it's when she gets tired that "bad things happen."  I hope she starts listening to me.  I told her about this board.  Last night we had a good talk in which she acknowledged her meltdowns and the cruel things she says when she has them.  She said her ex-husband reacted the same way I do when they happen.  She was sincere and for a few moments I felt hopeful.  I still do, but I've learned to keep my guard up.  THAT is the biggest damage to relationships ADD does, in my opinion - the "guard" that the non-ADD spouse learns to keep up after suffering the blame and anger that the ADD spouse feels at the world.  It's the biggest impediment to intimacy in the marriage.

I feel for you by StopInterrupting

I'm right there with you on the "guard".  I've had my guard up for quite awhile and it is damaging.  Will it ever change for the non-ADD spouses?????     

In reply to FabTemp

I feel exactly the same way you do.  I am tired of this.  I have been worried, sick to my stomach, scared, angry, just running through a plethora of emotions and I'm tired of it.  We are going to counseling but the counselor has ADD herself and told us to forget the ADD and concentrate on the problems in our marriage which makes no sense to me because the ADD is the very cause of those problems.  It's like no one understands and no one cares that I am on the edge of a cliff about to be pushed over.  He said again last night after he knows or should know how sick I am over all this, "I'm not that forgetful."  That hurt so bad to hear that.  I mean I have been working so hard on finding out everything I possibly can and getting us help and then to hear him just like blow it all off, it hurt and made me sick.  So, you know what?  He can continue on his ADD clueless journey alone if he wants.  I will not fight with him any more and I will not argue about anything.  He can live his own life the way he wants and I will live mine.  He just kind of needs to stay away from me and if he wants to leave, so be it.  That is where I am at right now with this thing.

Just kind of needs to stay away

You don't really solve your problem by simply retreating.  First, the "irritant" (your spouse and your relationship) will still be there, eating away at you.  Second, an isolated person is generally less healthy than one who is connected.  By staying married but asking him to "stay away" (if I read your note correctly) you continue to hurt yourself.

Find a new therapist - one who doesn't put ADD aside, but puts it at the core of your issues. Or, if you're past that, then look inside yourself and figure out where you want to be in 10 years.  i doubt it will be living in the same house as a man you hate and feel is "clueless".

In reply to Melissa

You are right.  Staying away doesn't help me any but at least we aren't fighting in front of the kids which I refuse to do.  He has an appointment with a psychiatric nurse this afternoon and I am going with him because if I don't, he won't tell her anything.  He still doesn't get it.  I know he cannot help it but it's sad.  I have gone beyond mad to sad.  It's almost like the steps of grief, I guess. 

In reply to Michael in timer hell

Michael, I truly feel for you.  I feel the same way.  I feel like no one and I mean no one at least around me understands what this feels like.  My husband is still trying to deny that he has it.  He says he asks all his friends if they think he is forgetful and they say "no."  Do they live with him on a day to day basis?  Do they see him every day?  No.  His own mother said that he has always been that way.  Hello.  Wake up.  I'm so tired of it.  I cannot have a conversation with him.  He forgets what I said 10 minutes later.  It's a never ending circle and you know what?  At this point, I want off.  It's making me physically sick.  Killing my stomach.  So you know what?  I hate ADD too.  If given the choice would I have married someone who had this?  No I would not have.  No way.  Sorry for feeling that way but honestly, this is like living in a crazy world and I don't think he will ever do anything about it.  Nothing. Zippo.  Except deny that he has it.

Mr. Michael Timerhell

Michael et al, I truly feel for you.  I feel the same way.  I feel like no one and I mean no one at least around me understands what this feels like to live in my skin.  I have tried for 8 of the 48 years of my life to correct learned behaviors of the prior 40 years.  Hello.  Wake up.  I'm so tired of it.  I cannot have a conversation with him.  I forget what he said 10 minutes later.  It's a never ending circle and you know what?  At this point, I'm exhausted.  It's making me physically sick.  Instant GI trouble.  So you know what?  I hate ADD, too.  If given the choice would I have NOT BEEN BORN WIRED LIKE THIS!  No I would not have.  No way. PLEASE trade places with me. Can you imagine how many courtrooms I would be tossed out of? Me neither. That's one reason why I'm not an attorney.

Sorry that you feel that way but honestly, I am living in a crazy world and I don't think he will ever make an effort to educate himself about the very REAL wiring problem.  Nothing.  Zippo.  It is way too easy to sit and blame me for how my ADHD imperfections manifest themselves. I'll bet each of you have things not perfect about yourselves that drive your spouse batty.

I have lived with Me for 48 years, most of that trying to make sense of how my brain worked. Feeling stupid, socially inappropriate, and completely incompetent. I spent years with blame and shame that I have put onto myself, and I'm sick of it. I would drive me nuts, too. I get that.  It is a deep hole to crawl out of, and a hand would be nice rather than throw rocks. I am also learning to be compassionate with MYSELF and not beat me up about it. Can win for losing, because when I am kind to Me, my husband then thinks I don't care about anything else, am being selfish, and am slacking. Nope, just giving myself some love.

When I'm most out of whack is when I most need that love and compassion. You will NEVER know what it is like to LIVE with this...you can dump her and get another wife and it will be blissful. She can get another husband and continue the exhausting hell she has to live with herself and her brain wiring. Being an attorney, you are a very literate man. You understand the importance of "knowledge is power", and that applies here, too. Being the intelligent man you are, you married her for a reason. How about jumping the fence and be on her defense rather than prosecuting attorney??? My husband had a speech issue when he was young, and can't pronounce some words to save his soul. And please don't ask him to spell! But you know what? Even though his articulations are like fingers on a chalkboard to me and I could let him just hang and swing, I will do whatever I can to circumvent his faux pas in social settings. He has NEVER thanked me for it, but I know he appreciates it.

It would be great for any of you to walk in our shoes just ONE day. One HOUR of one day. None of us like our wiring, drugs aren't magical, and we would rewire ourselves if we could. Just feel blessed that your wiring meets quality control standards and remember why you married that interrupting, self-absorbed, redundant, forgetful, mess of a woman. Then think about it...

Speechless

 

Michael,


Your comment convinced me to sign up, because I just had to get this off my chest.

I have never been so insulted by a comment from someone I do not even know and about a question or statement I didn't even make, but once I started reading your contribution it was like a slap to the face, I can't remember the last time I cried this much.

You are angry and you have every right as a human being to be angry, but you are basically making your wife out to be a complete monster, out to annoy and push your buttons at every turn. It is like you feel she just sits around and is point blankly refusing to just "stop it."

 

I interrupt a lot of conversations, I finish a lot of sentences, people are on word 4 and I already know the complete paragraph waiting to be released from their minds. It sounds more "out there" than it is, I just don't know how else to explain it.

I don't consciously set out to undermine anyone or make him or her feel as if his or her opinion or story holds no importance. There is absolutely no time between the thought and it being said, it is like opening a tap and trying to stop the water from flowing by using cotton wool. (Impossible right?)

 

Now I am not saying that you should throw up your arms and surrender to the almighty ADHD, merely that you need to educate yourself as much as possible, try to share what you have found with your wife. I would suggest emailing it to her or just letting her read it in her time.

 

Being with an individual with ADHD or ADD for that matter, unfortunately, requires you to be the one to control the situation and its outcome. This doesn’t mean beating your feelings, opinions and take on it into the person. You know how she reacts to certain thins, be it tomes, words, body language or whatever. With this information you are equipped to calm a situation. If you feel she becomes overly emotional then you cannot aggravate it and cam it by staying calm yourself. It is very hard to keep up an emotional tirade when the other person is calm, so slowly but surely the emotional state starts to fizzle out.

 

Is this a lot to ask form someone?? YES it is, but individuals with ADHD/ADD aren’t able to just “STOP,” or choose another life, it is ingrained, a biological mystery if you will. Trying to calm your head, slow it down to a slow jog, (doubt walking would EVER be an option), and work against your body’s chemistry in order to lead a ‘quiet’ and ‘fulfilled’ life, is nearly impossible. Having your spouse there to assist you in combating any ‘faults’ or ‘issues’ you face makes it much more plausible. It might takes months, years, decades, but it is possible.

 

I understand that not taking things personally must be extremely taxing, but living with ADHD is the most tiresome, stressful and overwhelming (I know you hate that word but it is VERY true), thing you can ever imagine. When you have a tough case, it’s very stressful, draining etc., but you know it is going to end at some point. Well with ADHD you have no timeframe, you end up residing yourself to the fact that you are stuck in this extreme fast forward existence, feeling tired and drained and lost forever. When you have someone who supports you and tries to help you and tries everything to understand you, things become a little easier.

 

No ADHD/ADD person means it. If it was such a ‘farce’ how is it that so many people from all over the world, from all walks of life are going through the same thing? There’s no secret meeting place where everyone gets together and decides what “hell” they can put people through and blame it on some weird “ADHD/ADD” issue. How is it possible that it is a universal issue and for it not to be a true “infliction” that people live with and try desperately, failing a lot, to try and remedy?

 

I would never choose to be the way I am, I feel lost, frustrated and very depressed most of the time, I am on medication and its almost been a decade an I still suffer from my symptoms daily, some issues I am able to just work through without it completely dragging me down, but others stay strong and are a daily mental and physical hassle.

 

Some individuals take medication and all their symptoms seem to melt away, but for us unlucky ones we only receive the ability to function through the symptoms.

 

I wish everyday I could just have one thing going through my mind, drown out all the TV sounds, dog tag clinking sounds, the birds chirping, the mowing noise from a mile away, the plane flying over, the neighbors radio in the distance, the telephone ringing faintly from somewhere in the neighborhood… the list goes on. It is like living your most stressful day (tripled), everyday of your life, with no signs of an end, on top of having to deal with holding a conversation, making decisions and trying to get your daily chores done……….

 

Please keep this in mind next time you feel like you are being so disrespected you could just teleport yourself somewhere else and start anew.

 

I know this was long, I apologize, but I was just so horribly saddened by your comment, it just made me realize all over again how much I despise what I have become and can’t control.

Thank You LTC03

I just read your entire post and wanted to say thank you for helping me remember what my wife experiences on a daily basis.  I have been feeling frustrated of late, and not liking feeling frustrated.  What I am experiencing pales in comparison to what she is experiencing.  And now, I am adding to her experience by "complaining" about her behaviors.  Sigh . . .

While reading your post, I found myself feeling much more empathy for my wife than I have in awhile, and wanting to say to her "How can I be supportive, honey?"  So again - thank you.  I am going to try very hard to remember this the next time I am feeling frustrated.

I also appreciate your comment, but

I think you should consider this sentence more closely

"...people are on word 4 and I already know the complete paragraph waiting to be released from their minds."

 

I didn't comment on this before since you were clearly upset at the time, but this type of thinking right here is often the problem.  At least for me and my ADD husband it is.  He THINKS he knows the complete paragraph, thus he stops listening while waiting for me to get to the end, but he misses all the information in the paragraph that he didn't know was coming.  When someone is telling you something of course it is possible to intuit where it is heading at times, and I am actually very good at that myself, but I have found I can't stop listening because there is no way to get the full story on your own.   You might be zoning out after word 4 and frustrating the people in your life because you *think* you know the rest.

 

We've had many fights about this, but now when I see him starting to do this I laughingly say "Don't assume you know the rest.  We both have seen how inaccurate those assumptions usually are." and he snaps back into the conversation.

When we would fight

I'd ask my ADD husband to repeat back to me what I'd just said .It's an interesting exercise to see what he is hearing versus what I said. Sometimes it was a complete blank to him; he hadn't been listening at all. If he did repeat something back to me, often it wasn't even close to what I had said; not just paraphrased, but a completely different meaning. For a while, I resorted to writing down everything we both said (and having him initial it...I was that desperate) so we'd have an exact record of who said what (one of our favorite topics of fights). Even today (we are divorced) I prefer to communicate through email so we have a written record of what we agreed to. It's saved my sanity many times.

Ways to Help the Change

Okay--here goes:

I am the ADD spouse, and my husband gets SO sick and tired of me interrupting him.  I realize that it is rude behavior, and I honestly DO try to stop, but I still do it VERY often.  

Here are what I consider my responsibilities:

1) to instantly apologize and begin listening again every time he tells me I interrupted him;

2) to find ways to keep my attention on what he is saying, such as taking notes, drawing little pictures of what he is describing, or even sometimes (not often) working on something on the computer to keep my mind off of the ideas that pop into my head in response to what he is saying (yes, I can do both. sometimes it helps me to focus if I have something to keep me from getting bored.)

3) to practice active listening: "I hear you saying -----" "It sounds like you mean----" etc.

4) above all, to be patient with his angry feelings the same way I want him to be patient with my interrupting problem.  

But, here are some things that he could do to help me listen better:

1) try to break up his thoughts into shorter segments.  I just can't listen to the long, drawn-out monologues that explain his ideas in complete historical and emotional detail.  (Of course, I have to be willing to avoid ranting on and on myself and expecting him to listen...)

2) do his best to find a non-judgmental, routine way to indicate that I just interrupted him. I often interrupt carelessly, when I know he is talking, but I also OFTEN truly think he was finished talking before I start, and it is very hard to wait long enough to make sure, especially if any pause of over a second means he will start back on a long monologue.  I'd love it if he would just stop me and neutrally say "please wait" or "almost done". (He doesn't want to do this one, because it involves interrupting me to tell me I am interrupting.) 

3) if he won't interrupt me to tell me I interrupted him, then he could help me by saying, "I wasn't quite finished talking," and letting that be the end of it.  It just doesn't help to have to have a fight about my interrupting every time I do it more than twice in a conversation.  I'm more than willing to admit it when I do it, and refocus on what he is saying, but it can't be a federal case every time or we will never finish talking about anything.

Maybe some of these things would work for you with your wife, maybe not.  I understand how frustrating it can be to talk about intensely emotional topics with someone who interrupts you again and again.   But I can almost promise you that just expressing how angry you are with her about it and explaining all your valid logical arguments about why it is rude to interrupt will make it even harder for her to decrease the interruptions.  

BTW, that is all you are ever going to get: a decrease.  If you think about how hard it is for you not to get angry about it, that is at least as hard as it is for her to stop doing it.  You'll still sometimes get angry, and she will still sometimes interrupt, but if you both try to appreciate the decreases as acts of love, maybe you'll enjoy each other more.  

Distracted

You wrote above: "A frequent mistake made by non-ADD spouses is to interpret the actions and responses made by their ADD spouse as if they had similar hierarchical brains.  A classic example – an ADD husband isn’t paying too much attention to his wife.  She interprets this as “he doesn’t care about me anymore”.  But what’s really happening is that he’s distracted.  He loves her a lot, but her walking into the room comes into his head at about the same level of urgency as the computer screen in front of him and the cat in the chair next to him.  He’s not trying to be rude.  He’s just distracted.  His brain is noisy."

My husband (ADHD) and I are experiencing this very thing right now.  In my head I know he doesn't ignore me on purpose.  I know he's distracted by the computer in front of him.  We do have a "date night" every week.  Yet - every time I go into a room where he's on a computer, I can't help but feel un-cared for or un-wanted.  I usually try not to go where he's on the computer just to avoid those feelings.  But there are times I need help with our kids or help with something else and need to get him.  I'd like to feel like I'm more important that a computer.  So how do I get past this?  How do I change my thinking so that I'm not so insulted when he's so distracted?

Set up a signal

My husband and I are battling his ADHD related issues, including the computer/iPhone/TV distraction. I also have the feeling of being unwanted, ignored,lonely, so I understand you! I think my toddler is going to be ADHD himself, and I noticed if I repeated, very calmly, a catch-phrase then I could get his attention. For example, with my toddler, if I really need him to pay attention, then I will ask him to look at me and then I will calmly repeat "Look" until he pulls himself from whatever he is tied to. I'm not advocating this with a husband, but this gave me the idea to try this: I poke my head into the computer room and say "Hi, Are you winning? I'm going to want to talk to you in a few minutes. Just a heads-up that I will be back in 5. Do you want anything?" A big smile and then I pop out. Very rarely, he will emerge on his own, but usually I pop my head back in and say, "Hey, can you pause the game for a few minutes and turn the screen off now? I'd really like to talk to you about SPECIFIC THING {like "paying the bills"}. If there is any hesitation, I say, "Looks like you need a few more minutes to pull away - must be a good part of the game. I'll be back in 5 minutes, and then we can talk." What I have noticed is that this kind of strategy really helps my husband slowly pull away from the game, alerts him to my needs, ensures that the computer game does not become the focus and hence pull us away from the real issue, bill paying. Maybe 90% of the time this has worked, and I get what I want, a discussion and his attention, and he gets what he wants, acceptance. Before I started doing this, he pretty much felt like I resented his stupid computer (which I did), and I pretty much felt like he didn't care about me at all. Medication for him has certainly made him easier to talk to, but I also think approaching things differently helped me feel less resentful! Hope this helps...My eternal advice: meds and therapy are a general must, for both of you (the therapy part for you, at least)

signal - thank you

Thanks!  That sounds like a great idea.  I will try that the next time he's on the computer and I need his help.  

re:signal

What you suggest is very helpful. I once read  in a book for kids instead of turning blue after telling them a million times to do something you prewarn them. Thanks for the reminder. I started doing this again today and got my almost 18 yr old of the videos and in the living room to watch a movie with me:] Although I'am seperated from my husband at this time and it seems probably permantly, one thing we use to do was when he came home from work we would have a together time just him and I to talk about the day and any problems etc.. that was going on. This really helped me feel like he was giving me his attention the best way he could and I could tell him what was on my mind in a meaningful way instead of blowing up and demanding some attention.It worked really well and the kids were not allowed to interupt unless someone was bleeding:]...We had some really meaningful talks that brought us closer together. However we then stopped along the way and a bunch of stuff happened and well..here I'am writting. Sounds as if you are handling things in a healthy manner even though it gets exhausting! Just keep loving them just like Dr Hallowell writes in his book superparenting for ADD. Love is above everything I believe even medicine. God Bless!!!

how to get past a computer

here's how I did it...talk with your husband at some time when neither of you is near a computer.  Tell him your feelings about this and how hard it is.  Ask him if he would mind if you made an agreement that when you walk into a room and he is on a compter that he turn around to face you for a moment.  Promise him that if he tells you it's a bad time you'll exit again.  I suspect he'll agree.

I always (or almost always) use the words "Can I have 2 minutes of your time?" (or however long I think I need) as I walk in.  He knows that this is a cue from me that I want to have him pay FULL attention to me for a couple of minutes only, and he can go back to what he was doing.  Because of our agreement, he will physically turn around and look at me with his back to the computer ("Sure...") or say something like "I'm in the middle of an email that I can't stop writing because I'll forget what I was doing...can you come back in 5 minutes?"  Either response is great, and it meets both of our needs.

If you don't have a swivel chair at his desk, get one.  It makes this much easier!

With ADD and interrupted

My experience is at a slightly different angle from what I am seeing here, but just as troubling/maddening. Like you have conditioned your husband with the phrase, "Can I have 2 minutes of your time?" my husband keeps me on constant distraction mode by interrupting me and expecting my full attention. He has explained how he feels when I tune him out and I have responded by being more conscious about those moments when he is plainly asking me to pay attention to him. The problem is that I find it to be excessively frequent. I estimate that on average he does this about six to eight times an hour. The interruptions range from a little factoid of interest from the paper he's reading in the kitchen and then leaving me to asking me for my brief assistance in another location. Being that I sometimes work from home for my "away job" (because it's actually even MORE distracting there!) and for my home-based business and given how very long it takes me to refocus my attention on the task I was engaged in, I find his interruptions maddening. The emotional response I have in terms of frustration only compound the difficulty of refocusing. For him, if the situation were reversed, there would be absolutely no problem to be treated in this way. His denial of the existence of ADD (in general and specifically for me), despite my recent diagnosis, my report of the beneficial effects of Concerta (which I cannot take for medical reasons and which he simply believes were placebo-type effects), and my reading to him of many excerpts from "Delivered," leaves me with no ground on which to demand fewer interruptions. While he operates in the moment as I do; however does not get off-track, distracted, confused, or forgetful as I do. As you can imagine, when he actually draws me from my computer (for instance) outdoors to help him with a car repair for "just a minute," I often return to the desk with only a very foggy idea what I had been working on before his interruption. While my husband is not at all--really!--an insecure person, I believe his behavior is one way of seeking a sense of close connectedness in our marriage. Unfortunately I think it boils down to a lack of consideration--the connectedness schedule is controlled by him (except in bed). For me, I feel I can't get anything done. As a consequence, I feel my life and environment are completely disorganized. From there it's a short leap to feeling incompetent; ultimately I end up depressed. I know there is more to my feelings of disorganization and subsequent inadequacy and depressed state than my husband's interrupting behavior. There are times when he is not home and I can have a half-day to myself. When I waste that time, there is nobody to blame but me. However, I believe I have reached a new level of desperation wherein I have sort of given up trying to get back on track when he's not around. That said, I would love some feedback on how to make him understand how he can help me feel better about my life. He lives his life with optimistic blinders on and, though extremely patient with my sullen moods, he does not seek to understand my low moods. So I have no idea how to explain the long process that leads to a constant state (rather than a mood) of depression. Thanks for reading...I hope it's at least somewhat clear!

Interuptions

You seem to have a few different things going on here if I'm reading your note correctly.  First is the interuption thing.  If it were me, I would separate out the times when it's a crisis that he interupts you (like while you're working) vs. the times that it's just annoying (not working, just into something else).  I would then tell him that it reflects not at all on him, but that when you are working he simply can't interupt you.  Close the door to your work space and insist he leave you alone at those times, as if you were in a different building.

If you are right, and the interuptions are a way of seeking connection, rather than just not paying attention to your need for quiet - then that's probably a good, positive place you can start for addressing some of the other interuption issues.  If you find that once he's not interupting your work you are still really, really annoyed by his interuptions then tell him how much you appreciate his desire to share things with you and strengthen your connection, but point out that connections are strengthened when both parties appreciate the time together, not when only one does...connections go both ways.  You are feeling that the frequency and short duration of his interuptions is making you feel worse, not better, by his efforts.  Then try to brainstorm about ways to connect (and times to connect) that might be appealing to you both.  If that doesn't work, and you are still really desperate, carry a notecard around for a few days and jot down the time of the start of his interuption and the end of it...then you can show him that his interuptions took 5 hours of your day (or whatever - interuption time plus "refocus time") without any real benefit to either of you - time that you could both be doing something really great together (like having sex or going on a date or...)

A separate issue - you ask "I would love some feedback on how to make him understand how he can help me feel better about my life...he does not seek to understand my low moods".  Unfortunately, it is your responsibility to feel better about your life, not his reponsibility to make you feel better.  While he can be empathetic and more tuned in (which would probably make you feel better) you are the person in charge of feeling good about yourself and your life.  You might want to consider some counseling to explore what you could do.  Also, if you are having trouble talking with him about what's bothering you, you may want to consider some sort of dual counseling.  You might find that his optimistic blinders are his approach to trying to support you and make you feel better (he stays happy and keeps in contact with you all the time and you are "bound" to come along).

Another approach would be to talk with him about an old trick that often makes women feel better - listening.  Perhaps you can help him understand that if you could just "talk" and "explore" with him - no solutions to your problems allowed at the time - that this would make you feel more understood and feel better in general.  Tell him "I just want to talk and explore, and I know that men usually want to solve problems, but I don't want you to do that...I just want you to listen to how I feel for a bit".

Finally, the issue of organization.  Can you get help with this?  Perhaps hire someone and pay for it as a business expense if it's related to your business?  Disorganization can be really depressing, but it's easily addressed once you discover that it doesn't have to be your job to stay organized (think back to the era of executive secretaries...they all knew something we've forgotten!)  You may well find that hiring an organizer helps you stay more focused and efficient and will pay for itself, particularly if you are freelance.

As for denial of ADD.  That's something that's too much to address here.  I'll try to blog on it in the near future.

With ADD and interrupted

My experience is at a slightly different angle from what I am seeing here, but just as troubling/maddening. Like you have conditioned your husband with the phrase, "Can I have 2 minutes of your time?" my husband keeps me on constant distraction mode by interrupting me and expecting my full attention. He has explained how he feels when I tune him out and I have responded by being more conscious about those moments when he is plainly asking me to pay attention to him. The problem is that I find it to be excessively frequent. I estimate that on average he does this about six to eight times an hour. The interruptions range from a little factoid of interest from the paper he's reading in the kitchen and then leaving me to asking me for my brief assistance in another location. Being that I sometimes work from home for my "away job" (because it's actually even MORE distracting there!) and for my home-based business and given how very long it takes me to refocus my attention on the task I was engaged in, I find his interruptions maddening. The emotional response I have in terms of frustration only compound the difficulty of refocusing. For him, if the situation were reversed, there would be absolutely no problem to be treated in this way. His denial of the existence of ADD (in general and specifically for me), despite my recent diagnosis, my report of the beneficial effects of Concerta (which I cannot take for medical reasons and which he simply believes were placebo-type effects), and my reading to him of many excerpts from "Delivered," leaves me with no ground on which to demand fewer interruptions. While he operates in the moment as I do; however does not get off-track, distracted, confused, or forgetful as I do. As you can imagine, when he actually draws me from my computer (for instance) outdoors to help him with a car repair for "just a minute," I often return to the desk with only a very foggy idea what I had been working on before his interruption. While my husband is not at all--really!--an insecure person, I believe his behavior is one way of seeking a sense of close connectedness in our marriage. Unfortunately I think it boils down to a lack of consideration--the connectedness schedule is controlled by him (except in bed). For me, I feel I can't get anything done. As a consequence, I feel my life and environment are completely disorganized. From there it's a short leap to feeling incompetent; ultimately I end up depressed. I know there is more to my feelings of disorganization and subsequent inadequacy and depressed state than my husband's interrupting behavior. There are times when he is not home and I can have a half-day to myself. When I waste that time, there is nobody to blame but me. However, I believe I have reached a new level of desperation wherein I have sort of given up trying to get back on track when he's not around. That said, I would love some feedback on how to make him understand how he can help me feel better about my life. He lives his life with optimistic blinders on and, though extremely patient with my sullen moods, he does not seek to understand my low moods. So I have no idea how to explain the long process that leads to a constant state (rather than a mood) of depression. Thanks for reading...I hope it's at least somewhat clear!

My husband and our 15-year

My husband and our 15-year old son both have ADD non-attentive type disorder. Within the 20 years of our marriage, I have discovered that my organizational skills have had to improve immensely to keep up with all the small details. Time management is a huge issue, but I have seen some improvements with my husband. My internal clock makes up for lots of missed alarms and I have to remind both of my ADD guys what time it is - it comes really easy to me now. My husband and I have our best conversations while walking around the block so that he doesn't get distracted with reading a magazine, using the computer, or watching TV. My son is very addicted to computer games and has a hard time socializing and making friends. My husband is more of a salesman type, but deep friendships are difficult for him. Both of them are extremely intelligent, test very well (better than me that's for sure) and learning though takes a longer time than most is remembered long-term. (I am a quick learner and forget by the next day.) :) I think one of the hardest thing for the non-ADD spouse/Mom is to not get depressed, resentful, and angry. I often go crazy because of the following scenarios: ADD folks don't plan very well so we don't get surprised with a special trip or date night. Time schedules always slip with an ADD husband, mines is always later than he originally says. Money seems to be tight because budgeting is very difficult for them to do. The non-ADD spouse or Mom takes care of everyone and does a tremendous amount of chores. (I already work full-time. And my body has a hard time dealing with stress.) ADD folks tend to get very angry at themselves when they forget something and they feel stupid, but they take it out on the ones closest to them. (anger issues) Having two guys with ADD is really hard sometimes. I have to be in control of lots of things or they just don't get done. I try putting them on routines, but it doesn't work Is it worth it? I'll be honest it does take a special person that is a hard worker, someone who is not afraid to speak up, a person that is very flexible with his/her schedule, and he/she must be super independent because it takes the ADD person so long to do things that you have to be okay with doing many things on your own, and lastly a person that keeps trying because ADD people are created for a purpose. God wired them that way so they could do specific things. Multitasking just happens to not be their speciality. But for me, I love my husband and son - they mean the world to me and I wouldn't change a thing.

Wow - the conversations on this blog are identical to my house

I've been suspecting my husband may have ad/hd. I've been checking some adhd websites and it describes him almost to a T. I'm always accused of thinking I'm perfect and alwasy right. I am far from it. A constant issue has been managing a checkbook. My husband simply thinks that there is money in the account so it can be spent. Although we've discussed it calmly and not so calmly for years that you need to check what bills are going out before you know how much to take out, he consistently forgets that and thinks I think I am perfect because I want to follow that and not have our checking account go negtive and bounce checks all over the place. It seems to be a simple concept that most would get, but this ad/hd thing makes sense that the impulsiveness gets in the way. He constantl zones out on me and people at work complain about it. This started happening early in our marriage and decided to choose my battles and not make a big issue out of it. I started to make it light and say something outrageous to real him back in and say "I just wanted to make sure u were paying attention to me" that started to work better than me constantly saying you are not listening to me. My biggest thing right now is I am not psychologically trained to self diagnose him, but it just fits sooooo well. He is very defensive and I am not sure how to approach him to have it tested. he already thinks I always think he is the problem. He regularly blurts out hurtful things without thinking and we always get into fights because he makes assuption on what I am saying before I've finished. Would like to know how I can approach him to get tested without making him defensive. If I know this is the issue I can work on being more patient WITHOUT being an enabler.

Getting through to an ADD spouse

I'm the ADD spouse. Took me a very long time to face it, accept it, and start dealing with it -- and I'm a guy who was going to therapy willingly. (I know plenty of guys who are totally skeptical about touchy-feely stuff like therapy and ADD, so I realize it would only be harder for them.) There's another thread on this site exactly about this subject, What if a husband doesn't get it. I think it helps us defensive ADDers to start hearing the positive messages about ADD -- the work Dr. Hallowell is championing. Then, the questionnaire is very sobering for anyone who finds him/herself checking off most of the boxes... IF you can get them to do it. It's in Dr. Hallowell's book, or I found versions of it here or here. You might try approaching your spouse on this topic as you would with a kid -- offer positive rewards, while also gently mentioning negative consequences, showing just how seriously important it is to you that they open their mind and just read a bit. It might sound like babying -- but facing our weaknesses is in fact so frightening that we react from a child or teen state of mind, and the rational adult is no where to be found once that fight is started. (And don't even think about telling the person that s/he is just scared!) We all have our emotionally charged topics where we just can't be fully rational. Imagine how a surly, defensive teen would react, and try some velvet charm (with a steel fist inside) so the person can actually feel cared for, since this is a subject area that is so fraught with shame that ADDers typically don't care for ourselves at all -- we just feel bad. And defensive.

Adhd and shame

"subject area that is so fraught with shame that ADDers typically don't care for ourselves at all -- we just feel bad. And defensive"

My husband who has Adhd/depression has battled this all his life. Its sad and I see the struggle he has especially when he doesn't get it! so he just doesn't even try sometimes or he just does what he wants at times thinking he is helping. Although Lately he has been helping me with the kids which has been helpful to me. Even when they do get it low self esteem seems to still linger. My husband is very intelligent but lacks judgement . I see his struggles even when he gets so low he does after a verrrry loooong time perks up for round 2. Its so hard to watch a person go through that.

I get the differences. But,

I get the differences. But, the helpful advice always seem to land on the non-add spouse. 8 years of marriage and 2 kids. my husbands diagnosis came right before our engagement. He started meds and we started counseling. 4 different counselors in different states and one counselor I refused to go back to because "if he doesn't accomplish a task in a timely manor, to decrease your frustration just do it yourself.....Really,......I would be doing everything and what is the point of being married nd having a companion to share life duties let alone step over the trash on your way out the door. Even his psych MD is on his side. Ignoring you when walking in a room...in their mind I am just as important as the computer they are looking at....sad. Does his brain not process sensitivity to personal situations? i.e. having a complicated pregnancy means more attention to your wife's needs and increased responsibility around the house. I am just frustrated with the whole post. My husband is very intelligent. if he can know the names of the screaming beetles that live if Zimbabwe he should be able to remember my birthday. I could name a million different situations that are very frustrating to a non add spouse and there always seems to be a solution but that entails more tolerance on the part of the non add spouse. I will be able to embrace the differences when he starts seeing how my brain works and what I need. Time is a huge issue. He tells me 30 minutes and I automatically add an hour and given the situation maybe even 2 hours. but this still frustrates me. Be responsible I have 2 kids to take care of and I have put in a full days work I would love to have an hour or two of "missed" time all to myself in the evening before I get home. The "expression of emotions" What emotions? Iam dealing with a possible Cancer diagnosis and when I walk in the door after the apt and phone call he does/says nothing. complicated and painful pregnancy and he shows no emotional/physical support. but sure gets excited researching saws. "Artifice of the executive function" researched excuse does not cut it. ADDers are intelligent and day after day of emotional and physical strain should give them enough time to process the need to be more involved and supportive. Energy and speed...things get done in a fun and timely manner when it is exclusive to him. House hold tasks do not get done and I have even stopped "nagging" (that only slowed the process. yes, yes The counseling has addressed this but here is no "meet half way" Impulse control...There is no control...maybe a frontal lobectomy would help that. It is almost always hurtful or harmful. and it is very difficult to think ."Man, that I need to realize he can't help what blurts out of his mouth. Because he could if he would slow down and think all of the time. (he has filtered because he will stop mid sentence and tell me he is going to stop the conservation before he says something he will regret....so it is there...practice, practice) So yes, there are differences and they are huge and I can appreciate them and I can tolerate them ...JUST NOT ALL THE TIME,,this is huge..so how do I cope inbetween the times I am being understanding and not taking it personally? I know this post is all over the place...this is my add moment...hundreds of thoughts going through my head and an inability to separate and organize. I am so frustrated (tired, mad, sad, ) A little more work from the ADDer would be great.

re sensitivity

"Does his brain not process sensitivity to personal situations? i.e. having a complicated pregnancy means more attention to your wife's needs and increased responsibility around the house."

Honestly from being married almost 13 yrs I see that the sensitivity lacks in my Adhd husband which has been a big issue with me. I on the other hand am very sensitive always trying go adhere to people. This has been a big problem in our marriage. I believe that really they do not process sensitivity like we think they should . And the ways they help may not always be helpful to us. I had a emergency appendectomy with my 2nd child while 6 months pregnant. I collapsed out of bed. It was a scary time and I at times did not feel as if he was  sensitive to my needs as I needed although he tried his hardest.

The "expression of emotions" What emotions? Iam dealing with a possible Cancer diagnosis and when I walk in the door after the apt and phone call he does/says nothing."

I know my husband does the same thing in stressful times and I have called him out on that. He has told me for years he really just doesn't know what to say because he is at a loss. I use to think that he was just being a jerk but after seeing this as a cycle I have come to the conclusion and I know he doesn't handle stress well at all. I too may have cancer I'am having surgery in a few days won't know till then. My husband doesn't seem supportive to me except he keeps helping with the kids. I think thats all he knows what to do although at times he doesn't seem like he has a care in the world. This may not be helpful to you but just want you to know that you are not alone. You really need to take some time alone ,I think you said you are pregnant? I have been thought of as insensitive on this site about stress. But It really does do no good to the body. Do you know of any teenagers that you may ask/hire to help? I have a friend coming over today to help me clean because I don't have the strentgh(bless her). Also if you live in colder states do you take vit. D? depending on where we live we are not getting the benefits of the sun and vit D. Theres a book called the vit. D cure By Dr Dowd. I started taking huge doses and it made the world of difference. They have studies out on it and it also helps with curing diseases and cancer. anyway. please take care I hope that this may be helpful to you at this very stressful time for you and your family..your in my prayers.

thanks for the reply. I

thanks for the reply. I really am not alone?!!! I was going to write misery loves company but, with code name of optimistic your mind is in a better place. You made a good point about stress. I could look at how "inappropriate" he is at dealing with stressful situations. it is hard to be tolerant of this when you really need emotional and physical support. I will look into vit D. Stay Strong I hope everything goes well for you and your family.

research on emotions

I want to tell you about some research that may give you some insight into your husband's responses:

"One neurological study examined expressed emotion and affect recognition in adults with ADHD.  It found the adults with ADHD to show a greater intensity of expressed emotion and a greater deficit in affect recognition than in a control group".  (about a research study done in 2002).  "Another study in the same lab found that adults with ADD use less emotion-laden words to describe scenes involving emotional interactions." (2003).  In other words, even though you want your husband to take note of your feelings and issues, statistically he's not as likely to do so as a person without ADD.  In addition, he's likely to under-whelm you with his expressions of emotions about your situation - again, an ADD issue.  Both of these are related to executive function issues in the brain.

We can THINK that ADD people OUGHT to be able to do certain things, and they CAN...but it is a real struggle and it takes a lot of practice to learn to overcome things that are hardwired into the brain.  Even learning to take a deep breath rather than blurt out that hurtful thought or get somewhere on time takes a full court press.  You would think that increased intelligence should be able to overcome it, and I do think that high intelligence makes a person with ADD more likely to WANT to overcome his issues.  But some small part of it is uncontrollable.  My husband is literally a genius (got both an undergraduate and graduate degree at MIT in a total of three years and popped himself into the work world at the tender age of 19 afterwards) but I can't change the fact that when I pull into an intersection and a car is closer than he would like he practically jumps out of his seat (another ADD issue having to do with highly atuned startle reflexes).  "Smart" is not a "cure all".

Think carefully about what is really important to have your husband conquer, then focus on one or two things with him.  He CAN do many of them, and if his inability to be on time or whatever is getting in your way as a family then perhaps that is a good place to start.  (I know MANY ADD folks who have conquered their tardiness - they use alarms, notes, calls, cell phone reminders, computer reminders, etc....but they are ON TIME!!!  Medication and behavioral therapy are both critical.)  Or, if that's not the number one issue, and you prefer that he spend time thinking about you more, then schedule time with him to do so.  Perhaps consider some special conversation time when you just spend time learning about each other more - your concerns, dreams, etc.  It's important to prioritize because his issues are on a whole series of fronts, and he can only "attack" them a couple at a time and be effective.

Don't lose hope, but don't let your frustration color the fact that he really does struggle with this stuff.  I don't know a single ADD person who says "I could do these things, but just don't feel like it".  I know a ton who say "I really would love to get rid of this crap because I'm tired of dealing with it too, but can't seem to conquer it."  Our support, and careful prioritization, can help.  Give him the benefit of the doubt, while staying creative, positive, and insistent that he make important changes.

Cant "help" any more

I have been married 18 years to an ADD husband.  I also have a 16 year old ADD son.  I have a pretty good understanding of ADD, however, the struggle i have is my husband has completely put the onus on me to accomodate his ADD.  I am happy to do it if he accepts the help and my role.  Previously, he agreed we are a good team and we had different strengths and weakness yet he gets angry when i ask him to just let me help by giving him "cue's" "clues" that he misses with conversations and/or planning and/or consistant behaviour with our children.  Before children and when our children were young he could accept my help, however, he cannot accept my help now.... he has had some failures recently  in business which has always been his strength.  Now, he feels he has to do everything on his own and he "blames" me for his failings with our children, finances etc.  and we fight constantly.  he refuses to go to therapy.  when we talk and i am explaining "he gets it" he constantly says he "tries" but i am so tired of these cirrcular conversations and nothing changes.  my children want me to leave him because it is so tense all the time.  any recommendations.

thank you for this information

I thought I had learned everything there is to know about the "Differences" , and the wording you used clarified even more. "Flat information", "under interpreting the seriousness of others' feelings". All very helpful. Thanks

I am an ADD wife with a full

I am an ADD wife with a full time job and two children. Although medicated, it seems many of these behaviors still define me. Thank you for all this information, its interesting and refreshing to read all these behaviors that I have been sadly struggling with for so long. My diagnosis was after I had my second child. I am looking for some ideas on the challenging job of keeping my car clean and organized. I work in sales and I consider it my work office. Any successful strategies?????My husband is tired of cleaning it for me......Mr Enabler.......... Thank you...... <> to all the non ADD spouses. I know it's difficult! Hang in there!

clean car

Hire a local teen to clean it for you once a week, and detail it once a month.  Great job for the teen, cheaper for you.

I'm new to the web site

You are describing so much of my life.  I am very new to this web site.  My therapist just recommended it to me today after attending one of your conferences this past weekend.  I tend to think of my spouse's issues/behaviors as being the result of PTSD/MST and family of origin issues, etc.  I've been aware of some of the ADD issues but a lot of these mimic some of the PTSD ones which makes it so confusing! 

Like so many of the comments I have read I, too, am exhausted and drained.  I am tired of the circular conversations and the way we seem to make headway and then repeat the same "mistakes".  It's especially hard with our daughters who are now teenagers.  My spouse is a step-parent and has had really bad impulse control when it comes to saying inappropriate things.  There doesn't seem to be any sense of boundaries when it comes to the kids, etc, or what realistic expectations are.  It is very very hard.

I am thrilled to find this web site and wish so desperately that we could attend a Couples Weekend.  We missed the Boston one, which, as it turns out we couldn't have attended anyway.  But I will wait on the edge of my seat for the next one!

In the meantime I will read what I can here and learn and ask questions and offer support.

As an ADHD woman and wife

 

From another perspective…Michael

I found your "I'm going to pick up my marbles and go home" attitude both amusing yet troubling.  I have had difficulty listening, finishing others' sentences (common among women who are close, who never seem to mind!), etc.  I have worked a great deal on this issue--sucking on lozenges when I go to a party so I remember to keep quiet and listen, having my husband nudge me with his foot under the table when out to dinner with others, leaning on my elbow with my hand touching my mouth when in conversation so as not to blurt out answers or interrupt, and lots of other small yet effective cues for myself.  I also am currently studying for a PhD in psychology (after careers as an MBA, a grad-school teacher, a masters in landscape architecture and a music major--very ADHD, but perhaps also interesting).

I find that the more I can research and study ADHD, the better off I am at resolving my own difficulties.  I am less apt to crucify myself when I realize I have acted in a detrimental way i.e., interrupting, household chaos etc., but I am also more aware of ways in which I can change my behavior.  Feeling badly, for me, is never an impetus to do anything better.  It simply keeps me "stuck". I often use Ellis' REBT (change a thought-change an action) to change some of the behavior, and miracles happen. I pass along much of this information to my husband via email so that he too can understand its implications to our relationship. These are just some ways I try to overcome the negative aspects of ADHD.

But I would be negligent if I did not at least mention that there are vast ways in which ADHD has been a gift in my life. To quote Thom Hartmann (his books are a "must read")  in his  Compete Guide to ADHA, "Highly successful people thought their learning disability or ADD were a gift and not a disease." Think of the positives: willingness to engage in unknown territory, creativeness, motivation, enthusiasm, amazing sense of humor and ability to laugh at oneself, insight skills, living in the now, flexibility, tirelessness, independent and more. It is genetic (see research on DRD4 7R allele).  I can most certainly understand your position in posting on this site, but your post, and only from my perspective, certainly contains a number of fallacies that as a lawyer you must be aware (we can begin with ad hominem…). Your feelings are on this subject are strong ones.  To quote you "you don't have to INTEND something to be liable for it." Your killing a pedestrian while on a cell phone example. Finally that these legal standards should apply for people with ADD. Ignoratio elenchi, I might propose!   That's quite a leap from your wife's interruptions to your conclusion that she is exempt from the law.  To conclude, most humorously, I am also an ADHD wife married to a lawyer. (Where's my website for that!)

 Not as a defense for my ADHD behavior, but just for fun:

Although not classified by the American Psychiatric Association in its DSM-IV-TR as a mental disorder such as ADHD, I could make a gross generalization here regarding "traits of lawyers" that many people might find amusing (and true), that on a daily basis drive me quite mad. Dare I mention his inflexibility, his slow to speak as he is choosing just the optimum "correct" legalese, rigid adherence to rules, schedules and "correctness". How I yearn for a moment of spontaneity and ineffectual grammar! So be joyful for her many advantages, and as my kids would say "chill".  With knowledge there can be much change. I can understand your frustration--those of us with ADHD can be so frustrated at times at ourselves for the same behavior. But it truly can change!

to optimistic and super frustrated: wow! I may have ADHD, but my emotions are "off the chart" when compared to my 

husband's (he's the lawyer).  but sometimes I enjoy the calm he brings to the situation to combat my overly emotional responses.

Lightbulb moment

My husband is the ADD spouse and this list is enlightening in so many ways (even though I've considered myself to be fairly knowledgable on the subject), but especially the "now/not now."  So many times he's told me that he _thought_ about complimenting me or thanking me for something (or buying me something or whatever...), but "the moment passed."  Thanks for the insight!