ADHD and Processing Issues, Part 2: Working Memory and What LOOKS Like Lying

Has anyone out there with ADHD had the experience of appearing to be, but not actually, lying due to working memory issues?  About a week ago, I had what has to be the trillionth such event with my husband.  The story itself is stupid but serves to illustrate my point:


My husband, father-in-law, and son had gone out and my ADHD son had forgotten some sporting equipment in my father-in-law’s car.  My father-in-law realized this and called to relay this information, adding he might not have time to drop it off.  He lives about 40 minutes away.


My husband was out during the call and when he returned, I told him that our little guy had forgotten something in his Dad’s car, and that we might have to pick it up.  My husband was annoyed, which I had anticipated, but I had not anticipated him blaming his Dad, which he did. 


At the time of his annoyance, I had the following thoughts floating around:

v     it’s not worth it to get worked up about this

v     it was an accident; it happens

v     his Dad was in pain following surgery; no wonder he didn’t feel like dropping it off

v      I could pick it up; husband had been really sweet this past week helping me out while I had lots of work to do this week 


Some unrelated thoughts...

v     I can’t believe I remembered to relay a message…woo-hoo!

v     1 thought concerning a question he had asked me earlier that afternoon and why had he asked it, which led to…

v     4 irrelevant thoughts related to his mood, my interpretation of his mood, and whether or not I was reading into it. 


Two judgemental thoughts I had but dismissed in favor of the first four thoughts above…

v     Isn’t he being hypocritical?  He would want me to take responsibility if our son had forgotten something and I hadn’t noticed.

v     I’m doing him a favor by informing him of his hypocrisy; he would not want to be hypocritical; it’s his biggest pet peeve


I calmly asked him why he was getting so upset at his Dad and was thinking about telling him I could pick it up.  He got upset with me because he felt I was defending his Dad instead of him.  He has many issues with his parents, hasn’t been on good terms with his mother for almost a year and has life-long issues with his father, who lived in another country for a number of years while he was young.  It never even occurred to me he would get mad for that reason.  My response was to tell him that he shouldn’t be mad at him, that it wasn’t a big deal, and asked (calmly) what he would say to me if I had forgotten our son’s belongings in his father’s car.  This last thought, which I had previously dismissed, resurfaced when he asked me why I defended his Dad.  This made him even angrier and he told me I was just being vengeful for the times he’s tried to make me take responsibility.  I told him this wasn’t my motivation and argued that I was thinking it wasn’t a big deal, his Dad’s back hurt, and I could pick it up.  He argued that I was lying; this was about vengeance.  Minutes into the argument, I COMPLETELY FORGOT about having wanted to pick up it up for him, his Dad’s back, and that I didn’t feel it was a big deal.  I was listening to his assertion that I was being petty, and following this thought, I remembered that when I first relayed the message, I did think about his hypocrisy.  At this point, NOT REMEMBERING THAT I HAD DISMISSED THOSE THOUGHTS EARLIER, AND WITHOUT RECALLING THEY HAD RESURFACED in answer to his question, I conceded he was right.  Then he told me I had lied, because my first response had been to tell him that I was only thinking of him when in fact I had vengeance on my mind.  When he told me that I had lied and that I had contradicted myself, I DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.    I had no clue I had contradicted myself, because I didn’t remember processing all of those thoughts.  That’s right; my memory is that piss-poor.  The funny thing is that I was calm when stating my thoughts, wasn’t being argumentative or defensive, AND I apologized!!!  I have been working on not impulsively arguing, not being defensive, and apologizing when necessary. 


This kind of shit happens a lot.  I can see how it looks like lying, but it is not.   I can forget what I've said and thought pretty quickly, and when I have contradicting thoughts (as we complicated humans do sometimes), boy, does it make me look a crazy liar.  I have explained this fight and others to my therapist, and she tells me she hears this frequently from her ADHD patients as a frustrating symptom complaint.  She says it is a working memory issue. My husband thinks I have a lying problem.  It hurts me deeply to know that my husband thinks I have a serious character flaw that I do not have.  I have tried to explain this to him, but he won’t listen.  Again, he thinks I am making excuses.  My therapist thinks I should point out my thinking when we are not fighting so he is more receptive.  I am going to do that at the next opportunity.  Has anyone else experienced this issue?  If so, how do you handle it?

Thank you for this post. I am

Thank you for this post. I am married to a man with ADHD and I am starting to realize I can't take much of anything he says at face value. For example, just yesterday he told me he doesn't love me as much as he used to AND (later in the day) he told me he thinks he was born to be with me. WTF? He spent an extraordinary amount of time explaining what he REALLY meant by the first comment. He had to face my hurt, confusion, anger, sadness, questions- all of which are difficult for a person with ADHD. He got frustrated, commented that he wishes he could be honest with me. Explained that this is why he "never" talks to me. But in the end, I got a better idea of what he meant. We all have unkind, hurtful, and maybe even ultimately untrue thoughts that run through our heads. I have the ability to censor that stuff and get to the heart of what I really want to say. My ADHD husband jumps right in without censoring his thoughts and then gets overwhelmed by my strong negative response to what i perceive as cruel, perhaps even marriage breaking feelings. I mean, who wants to be married to a guy who has "lost that loving feeling?"  Those of us without ADHD are often advised to have patience with our ADHD spouses. I think there is a need for patience on your part as well. We don't process the way you do, in fact, the way you process things is dumbfounding to us. I know it's harder for you, but have patience with your nonADHD spouse; we're trying to understand!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who has been the recipient of conflicting messages about how my husband feels about me.  And he has many times said he "can't talk to me" or "can't be honest with me" or "can't tell me what he's feeling/thinking" because I get "upset" or "hurt".   I have to always be ready to remember this:  the ability to censor that stuff and get to the heart of the matter -- the message they would really like to give -- is not as well-developed in ADDers.  It really isn't.  Thanks!

Gardener447, my husband says

Gardener447, my husband says that, too:  that he feels like he can't be honest with me because I get upset or hurt.  My response is, so what?  Aren't I allowed to have feelings?  It's as though my husband thinks there is a magical land in which one can have conversations about deep, meaningful topics without anyone having an emotional response.  I think there is also a measure of denial.  My husband is so afraid of being a person who can be met with negative responses from others that he pretends that he doesn't do certain things or avoids talking about heavy topics. 

I don't think they realize

I don't think they realize that when they say they can't be honest with us because they are afraid of our reactions, that just makes us more afraid. It makes me think he is hiding things from me that I should know about! I tell him I'd rather know the truth and be hurt than live a lie. Then he says I have nothing to worry about, that he loves me and everything is fine! Then what is the problem? TALK TO ME! It seems intense conversations scare them. For me intense means I care, I want to deal with whatever is going on so we can be better. I think that for a person with ADHD, intense means DANGER, I may get into a situation where my circuits will be overloaded, I will say things I don't mean, don't remember, or are misunderstood. 

I have tried for years and

I have tried for years and years and years to get my husband to understand that there is absolutely ZERO validity in his reasoning that he 'has' to lie to me. He has not used that line in a very long time because he knows I'm not buying that BS anymore. Also, the damage done by the lie...the ones I find out far worse than a little fight or disagreement we might have had if he had just been honest from the beginning. Yet another thing I cannot make him understand 14 years later...NOTHING has changed in this area. 

EX: he called me a couple of weeks ago, Friday evening at 5 p.m. Friend of ours was playing (guitar) as a local restaurant/bar. At 6. He asks if I want to meet him. I can't I already told my sister I would help her with something. "Ok, well I didn't really want to go anyway" and he said he'd be home shortly. An hour and a half later I left for my sister's, no sign of him. I knew he had gone to the bar...and when I asked he LIED. What makes it better is that as he is on the phone with me, standing outside the bar, and my niece walks by. I asked him after that happened if he was at the bar and he denied it. REALLY?? Like I wouldn't find out? And...WHY LIE ABOUT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE??? If he'd have just said "I would like to go for an hour or so, if that is OK" things would have gone a whole lot differently and I wouldn't have lost yet more respect for him. It truly does seem insane to not only feel it necessary to lie, but to not be able to think far enough ahead to realize 'hey, I saw her niece'...and just tell the f'in truth! Someone help me understand this! And lying to me about the mayor's cookout..not being allowed to bring spouses..when BOTH of my siblings work for the city!!!! Did he think I wouldn't find out??? 

When they are lying about stupid shit like this, how are we supposed to believe anything...even the 'I love you's. ? I am not sure he lives on the same planet as me most days...much less knows what he thinks, feels, or believes from one minute to the next. 

I am from the "so what" school of thought here too

I agree with every word you wrote, Rosered.  Some men...and it may not all be ADD...just want to never cause an emotional response, so they just avoid the convo entirely.   Regardless of how much more hurtful ignoring the convo is!  He might say, "I didn't want to tell you because it might hurt your feelings" and I say "My feelings aren't your problem"  You get to feel and say whatever you want about whatever issue, and I get to feel how I feel about that, and then together we need to resolve the issue.  Neither of us has the right to decide some things all on our own regardless of whether the other is going to have a poor reaction.

Fortunately my husband isn't usually saying hurtful things about how he feels about me, but he did say once.....about 9 years ago--(yep I still remember it like it was yesterday and it was 9 years ago)...that the reason he didn't want my help with something I kept offering to help him with was because it was the only time he got to get away from me.  Oh my goodness I can still remember how badly that hurt, and how quickly he tried to take it back when he saw my face, but I just said "Ok" and left the room.  I did my crying elsewhere because I felt like he had a right to want to to be away from me if that's how he really felt, but it was so painful to me, as a wife of only about a year or so, to hear a comment so horrible to me and so opposite of how I felt.

I wasn't going to say another word about it, but he kept insisting that what he said wasn't what he meant and it really really wasn't how he meant to say it.  We had no idea of ADD at the time, and since we weren't fighting before this convo, I couldn't understand how you'd accidentally say something like that.

Turns out he really did like having the alone time to think......which isn't really something I need as I think just fine in whatever situation I am in....but I can appreciate that and support it.  But it also turns out that he'd had hurt feelings over something I'd said that I don't remember now, but he had never said a word to me about it....just silently fumed about it.  So when I said something about the project again, he admitted to trying to hurt my feelings on purpose because I had hurt his.......but he kept saying "I only wanted to hurt your feelings a little.....not like this!"  I was BAFFLED!!  In every way baffled and confused, but that is the day we realized that he had some passive agressiveness in him, and I have to give him credit that he was as horrified as I was about it.  He immediately started working to eradicate that quality, and he did it about 99.9% and it did it quickly.  My husband can make some pretty big changes pretty quickly when he really sees the need to do it.

summerwine's picture

Its kind of a combination of

Its kind of a combination of impulsiveness and living in the moment. At the exact moment that he said "I don't love you like I used to" that is probably what he was feeling RIGHT THEN. When he said that he thinks he was born to be with you, that was probably what he was feel right then IN THAT MOMENT.

My non-ADD spouse on my emotional rollercoaster

I am the ADD wife who has said very similar things to my husband. It's usually over the course of a FEW days vs. the same day, but otherwise it's spot on ... Saying something like "I am so thankful for him and his foundation" one day and "I can't do this anymore" then next day. He calls it (appropriately) an emotional rollercoaster.

I have also said similar things about "not feeling I could talk to him" about some things and not wanting to share. I think it is because oftentimes when we start talking about something that is important, sensitive, etc. to me I will jump around, or not have complete thoughts, or otherwise say contradicting things. Because he is so linear in his thinking, of course he jumps in and says "I need context" or "but you just said X and now you said Y." And pretty soon, I feel defeated and deflated, thereby leading to the "feeling" that I can never talk to him. It's almost like I have to talk non-stop to get all of the words out without interruption so I can "look at them" and then formulate my point about it. But when he interrupts, I lose my flow, get frustrated, and end up getting upset.

I'm not saying that he is doing all the wrong things here, because it's understandable if I say "hey, I need to talk to you about something" and then he sits there and must endure a non-cohesive monologue until I feel like I'm "empty" of that thought... "said my peace" would be another way to say it I guess. If I can "say my piece" and get all the words out, I feel relieved and it's almost like an "ahhhhhh... heavy sigh, got that out." and NOW I can re-focus on YOUR input and we can talk about what makes sense, the next step, etc. Oopss... started describing me again in true ADD form.'re right, this is're right, this is an insane conversation..made my brain hurt just reading it.

#1-it is never a good idea to 'point out' someone's flaws...I can honestly see where pointing out the hypocrisy to him could be construed as you having 'negative' motives. Just the fact that you HAD the negative thought could very well have bled through in the way that you delivered the 'message' to him. I know I find myself constantly having negative thoughts about my DH and no amount of faking it can cover up for the fact that I am annoyed with him for whatever reason. Even if you weren't consciously thinking about it, it could have still been obvious to him. It is NEVER doing anyone a favor to point something like this out to matter how badly we want to say "you hate it when someone else does ______ so why are you doing it?" is never OK or right or doing them a favor. From a very deep down, subconscious place, we are doing it because we are feeling indignant. Period. It is my true opinion that this is something you might want to at least consider as a place where you did go 'wrong' in this conversation..just my opinion. 

#2-this is a perfect example of something that should have never been the subject of an interaction that left either of you feeling bad, mad, sad, or upset. It is not right of him to blame his father...and maybe that made you even madder...because you said more than once you know he would have blamed you in a similar situation. There is no room or need for blame here. The stuff was forgotten...end of story. "I am going to pick it up tomorrow/Monday/next big deal" should have been the end of it..REGARDLESS of how he responded or who he started to blame. Just walk away. I know he's got a temper and I know he seems to have high expectations...but it isn't about being right, showing him where he's being a hypocrite, or anything other than the stuff was forgotten and needs to be picked up. 

#3-this isn't a matter of lying this is a matter of a conversation that went wrong fast and the affect it had on you, a person with ADHD, and how you both not only perceived the conversation as it was happening, but how you recalled things that were said 2 minutes ago. Stop apologizing for something you're not guilty of. "I am sorry if that came across to you that way, but I am asking you to stop insisting that I lied when that is not exactly how things are. I am sorry you feel that way, but I hope someday you're able to have more sympathy where things like this are concerned...I am certainly not intentionally lying to you and I hate that it seems to appear that way to you". Let him live with my DH's lies for a day or two...he will appreciate this kind of 'fuzzy communication' a whole lot more. This wasn't lying, this was someone getting caught up in 10 different aspects of one conversation and getting thoughts lost in the process. Saying "no, I didn't not go to the bar" while standing outside of the fu**ing place smoking a cigarette...THAT is flat out lying. 

He's being a bully...and you're losing yourself in these conversations because you're terrified of being judged by him for everything you do and say. You're wanting desperately for him to stop bullying you by pointing out "you're not perfect either, buddy!" and he just sees it as you deflecting the blame or picking a fight. Instead of doing that, you would be much better served to quit being emotionally bullied by him and his temper. Your thoughts need to be "oh damn...he's really getting pissed about for the health of our marriage, I am going to just end this right now and say "honey, no need to argue about it...I am going to pick it about the weather we're having!?" 

This is a good response, Sherri

and yet I don't see anything wrong in pointing out someone's hypocrisy.  That is what ppl who love you you out on things when you are being a jerk about them.   Now I agree in this situation, the time to point it out might not have been then......which the OP realized and decided to let go, but that it should never ever be pointed out?  Disagree with that entirely.


I completely agree that in the moment the focus should have been on the stuff and only the stuff.  We need to get.........the end.   But using a situation that occurred to help both ppl learn where they can improve.  I think that is a great opportunity and it is doing both ppl in the marriage a disservice to not point out the double standard and work on it.

I guess it depends on where the marriage is though.  I mean if you have way bigger issues, you'd obviously let that one go.  If little things like this ARE you issues, then it should be brought up later.  Hyprocrisy is very unattractive and so is having double standards as far as what each mate can do without getting hammered for it.  OP is being held to a different standard and I think that isn't right.


This is a forum for venting, but it is also a forum for support.  Not all ADDer's are impossible to communicate with, yes as an ADDer I've Had incredible struggles in the past communicating, but now that I know What I'm dealing with I have made huge improvements with my communication skills. If the ADDer is undiagnosed or does not believe the effects are contributing to the problems then there is not much you can do other than work on yourself and your needs. 

The generalizations of Always, Never and 100 percent don't help anyone. There is a lot of grey between the Black and White. Codependence between the ADDer andthe NonADDer is common. I understand how I affected those around me now, and I'm sick about it, but I am also working on it too.  I appreciate all the help and insight that I have received from the NonADDers and ADDers on this site. You can also benefit from the people here.

Are you referring to

Are you referring to my reply? I am really confused...I cannot see how your reply relates to my response to ADDMama...but maybe it does? Am I missing something? 

Of course not, Sherry :)

Someone had posted a Real negative comment about ADDer's "ALWAYS, NEVER" doing or being incapable of change. I was trying to get the message out that we are all here to learn how to improve things at home and in our lives. After the post was pulled my post probably reads kind of weird...

Ok...glad that is cleared

Ok...glad that is cleared up...I was thinking maybe I needed to go back to bed and try again! LOL After reading, and re-reading, I was not seeing it. :-P



I bet you thought I was from another planet or something ;)

summerwine's picture

Wow and you guys wonder why

Wow and you guys wonder why it's so hard to get more ADHD people to read and post here? I am flagging your attack post as inappropriate.

I just wanted to ask which

I just wanted to ask which post you were flagging as an 'attack'. I will gladly clarify anything I said in mine (although this specific reply is to the original poster) because nothing in it was meant as an attack and I certainly do not want it to be taken as such. ADDMamaof2 is one of a handful of females on here with ADHD who is very helpful and insightful and I would never intentionally attack her (or anyone else for that matter). Please clarify.


Hi Sherri, I didn't

Hi Sherri,

I didn't feel attacked by you at all.  I never do, and greatly value your insight.  You were honest with me, and I appreciated it.  

I understand that pointing out the hypocrisy was not a great idea, which was why I initially dismissed it.  Alas, when I feel he is digging for answers, I can be prone to verbal diarrhea, and say things I don't even want to say (totally my responsibility, though).

Thanks as always!


Thanks for flagging

Summerwine - thanks for flagging that post - it was indeed inappropriate and against all of our posting rules (not to mention bitter, angry and mean).  For those who wonder - when someone flags content we take a look at it and then decide if it can be reposted (sometimes with some content left out - which we note...we stay completely transparent in our editing if something comes back up).  If a post is just over the top we leave it unposted forever.  This, of course, means that sometimes there is a response that doesn't make sense - as happened this time...Not much we can do about it, but thanks, YYZ, for clarifying for Sherry that it wasn't her!


I couldn't leave anyone hanging like that :) I would be mortified thinking that one of my comments hurt someone's feelings...

summerwine's picture

OH! Sorry guys I didnt

OH! Sorry guys I didnt realize that the post would instantly dissapear!

Not remembering a frequent issue

What you have posted here is very valuable for non-ADHD partners to read, because it seems to be representative of what happens to many with ADHD.  They get "jumbled up" in remembering what they have said, and then it comes out sounding as if they are lying.  (To be fair - sometimes they are lying - often to cover up embarrassment, but this is much less often than their disgruntled non-ADHD partners assume.)  To make matters worse, they genuinely don't remember saying the thing that their spouse is saying they said wrong, so they start to deny they ever said it...and an argument ensues in which the non-ADHD partner goes away pissed off and feeling lied to, while the ADHD partner goes away feeling insulted and diminished because, of course, the ADHD believes that the non-ADHD partner misheard or is making something up.  NOT a great way to converse.

I see this sometimes with the couples I work with, and it's really interesting when it happens when a third party is present.  As it happens, I type a sort of transcription of the couples' conversation while they are having it - so when one of these comes up and the non-ADHD partner is mad at something the ADHD partner says they said, I can go back and read to them what was said.  At this point, typically, the ADHD partner says "oh...well, what I meant was..." and try to move forward from there (which is the right way to handle this situation.)  If the non-ADHD spouse is mad enough, the next question will be "well, if what you meant was XXX, then why did you say YYY?"  They have a point, of course.  In the world of perfect communication, people always say exactly what they mean.  In the world of ADHD, however, sometimes people don't say what they mean...or don't realize how what they say is going to be interpreted by their (very different) spouse...then they "adjust" in real time...

Next time someone says "so why did you say it?" you could respond "I didn't mean it to come out in a way that was hurtful to you.  What I'm trying to get across is XXX." 

I urge non-ADHD partners to try hard to differentiate between lying and the not remembering which is more common than we non-ADHD people expect.  I will be the first to admit that this can be a challenge, however now that you're thinking about it, it's worth the effort.

On a different note, part of the reason that you got into this mess in the first place was that you invalidated your husband's concerns.  When he said you were being unsupportive, a good response would have been something like "I'm sorry.  I don't mean to seem to be supporting him over you.  You know you're my first priority."  That's a much different response from "you shouldn't be mad at your Dad" (telling him his feelings don't matter) and "it's no big deal" (he clearly thinks it IS a big deal).  THIS is why your conversation got out of control.

I'm about to write a blog post about invalidation - take a look when it's up!

You're right, Melissa...

Thank you, Melissa.  You are right about me invalidating him.  I didn't mean to, and didn't even realize what I had done until you pointed it out to me in that way.  Because I don't blow up like he does, and generally don't yell at him, it makes it more difficult for me to recognize when my behavior is offensive.   I'm no saint, just not usually a yeller, and being yelled at really offends me, so that's one of my rudeness red flags.  His rudeness red flags differ from mine.  Conversely, I often feel invalidated by him, but naturally, I seem to recognize that right away ;)!  Oddly enough, he invalidates my experiences and insights as a person with ADHD, which I find maddening.  I read a lot about ADHD, and am in a profession where I deal with it daily...  yet you would think I'm the village idiot trying to discuss quantum physics when I try to help him understand me better.  I'm glad some people appreciate my attempts to demystify my mystifying ADHD brain...

Can I believe myself?

your description is something I could have written.  I often get really frustrated over my non-ADHD partners invalidation of what I experienced or remember.  Even if my memory/focus isn't perfect, in a normal conversation I will retain the idea and the emotion.  It floors me how I can mishear or not remember a detail from 3 minutes ago, and instead of taking a couple seconds to get clarification, we get stuck on the detail of me no remembering a small detail.  I'll deny I forgot or wasn't focused, She will cram it down my throat that I have a brain dysfunction.  that always spurs a good reaction from me.  lol.  I would imaging that if we both could take a moment to remember that neither one is really meaning to come across rude we could clear up the misunderstanding and productively move forward. 

Validation victory!

I think I finally get it! You need to be validated even if your partner knows you are full of crap! Now bear with me- I am being serious! From my own experience, I know my husband has said things that I know damn well are not accurate. He has misremembered, forgotten, whatever you want to call it, but the point is HE BELIEVES IT! IT IS HIS REALITY! Therefore I must validate it. Oh, this is so hard! I have been completely brushing aside much of what he tells me because I have gotten caught up on the facts and the details of the situation at hand. I figured if he was wrong about the facts, his feelings on the matter were wrong too. I thought if I could get him to admit the truth, see things accurately, look at things logically, he would feel differently! Wow! ADDonfire, you may have changed my life!

Huh? How would you validate it?

Waterfall & Addonfire, I don't get what you are saying at all.  What constitutes validation to you?  I understand the post above where it is hurtful to invalidate someone's experiences as a person with ADD...or I thought I did before the 2 posts below it.

I do not have ADD.  If my husband tries to explain to me what his feelings are due to his ADD, I can't say to him "that isn't your reality"  or "Come on, you really think THIS".  That is damaging and wrong, and shouldn't be done by any of us.

If you are misremembering something, how can you get validation for that?  I guess a better question to me would be WHY would you want to get validation for that?  And in what possible way could it help a relationship to do that??

A feeling?  Sure I get that in the sense of "Babe, I understand you are feeling X about our interaction this morning and I am so sorry you feel this way, but what you are thinking I did/said/decided on with you is not what happened.  Our interaction went this______way." 

Is that what you mean by validating his reality? Cause otherwise I am baffled?  Can you clarify please?

Also, not that I don't get that a person's feelings are their feelings, I do believe there are times when your feelings are wrong.  For example, my youngest sister is really mad at me because she thinks I said X to her and to her that means I don't really care about her.  The truth of the matter is that I never said X, therefore she has no reason to be mad or to think I don't care about her.  How do you resolve this situation in a validation oriented way?

I'll try me best here.  

I'll try me best here.   Validation as I see it, is recognizing the other person's experience is real.  I'm not saying right or wrong, or what really happened or didn't happen.  I mean understanding that they experienced.  I know this is a problem for me in validation my non-ADD partners feelings and experience.  I do that in many ways.  Maybe being defensive, or by trying to explain "what I really meant was..."  and never first identifieing with her reality.  I may have meant X, but in her reality she heard Y, and Y was hurtful.  But I fail to address or validate that she was hurt by what she heard, "Y".  For her...  regardless of my reality, or what I know to be true.  Hers is different.

And at the other end of that, If my non-ADHD partner says something to me and says X, and I hear Y, My reality is Y.  For me, I experienced Y, and it was real.  Just like my wife heard Y when I said X.  I doesn't mater at that point who was right and who was wrong.  The fact is I heard Y. or She heard Y.  To not recognize or validate for them that their experience was real, is in a sense to call them crazy.  Repeatedly doing so is damaging.  I don't care who you are.  One of the biggest things that drives up my anxiety, is to be told that i'm not experiencing what I just experienced.  The truth lies some ware between the two perceptions.

So much meaningless arguing can be avoided from both partners if we are able to stop worrying about being right long enough to recognize  your partners experience and emotions are real for them.

possibly a simple..  "yes, babe, I understand Y is what you heard. I'm sorry that upset you.  would you let me explain about X"  

From either partner it validates the fact that  what you heard, is what you heard, and what you feel is real, but doesn't admit to saying something you didn't, or didn't intend.  Then allows for a readdress of what was intended.  A do over with openness and better focus because of the positive interaction.

It's not an easy shift to make.  I can imagine that it gets tiresome for the non-adhd partner to have to repeat themselves or feel like they are never heard right the first time.  However, validation will get to a better result quicker, and with much less hurt.

The ADHD partner wants the same basic thing as the non-ADHD partner, or at least my non-ADHD partner.  To be validated.

I hope that explains my perspective for you.


(side note...  This may be the most times I have ever used the word validate wile not in a heated discussion with my wife.) ;D

I get what you mean.  I had a

I get what you mean.  I had a major falling out with a relative a few years ago.  I felt that he treated me rudely.  Because of the setting and my own reluctance to speak up at the time, I didn't say anything immediately.  But it really bugged me and when I communicated with him about it later, he acted as though nothing had happened.  Well, it happened, and whether or not he intended to be rude to me, he was and his lack of validation of my feelings hurt and angered me very much.  Unfortunately, this person is one who I don't think could ever acknowledge another person's hurt feelings.  Most of us can, however, and even though it's sometimes makes for slow or tenuous communication, validating is a good thing to do.

The Right Kind of Validation for Me

I would not want to get validation for my poor memory. I say without shame: my short-term memory sucks.  I'm still smart.  I have a great long-term memory.  I've integrated the two sides of me into my self-concept.  If my husband asks me to do something right away, I generally do, and will even say, "I need to do this now, or I'm going to forget."  

What I would like from my spouse is for him to recognize that I have learned A SHITLOAD about ADHD and myself, and perhaps give me the benefit of the doubt concerning some of my own exercises in meta cognition.  I would like him to understand that I am NOT A SOCIOPATH, but a person whose issues with working memory affect her ability to have a consistently cohesive viewpoint, especially during a conversation, when I don't generally take notes.  One of my greatest strengths as a teacher is figuring out how kids think, learn, and how that and other factors influence their behavior, motivation, and learning.   I am fascinated by this, and have been since I was a child, when I first realized my brain was not like everyone else's.  Sometimes, I make mistakes, as I do with myself, but I readjust my thinking and act accordingly to new data or a more accurate analysis of current data.  He knows I do well at my job (as does he), but I wish he could appreciate my insights into my own ADHD are not bullshit I just make up to justify my behavior.  They are the result of asking the right questions, being HONEST with myself, and being shameless enough to put myself out here, and to my therapist and anyone else I think may be able to help me.  Just because I understand why I do something, doesn't mean I absolve myself of the effect it has on others.  For me, understanding why I do what I do is the first step to figuring out what I need to do next.  I would like him to validate that . I have made progress in areas where I have been able to figure out my thought process and/or what interferes with it.  I get excited when I make these discoveries, and he dismisses them and cuts off the conversation.  He may be thinking "I don't care, just stop doing it." I get a point.  I like to talk these type of things out; I'm a girl.  It helps me learn.

In reply to this and all of

In reply to this and all of the above about validation...I think the key is that the person who is 'remembering wrong' has to be willing to admit they have a problem ADHDmomof2. Also, it requires a lot of trust...which is very hard for (or so it seems) a lot of ADHDers because they generally feel (and maybe actually ARE) attacked in many 'conversations'. To trust that someone says "you are misunderstanding how I explained that" or "what you said was____" and not have defensiveness be an automatic reaction isn't always possible. Ideal, but no always possible. clarify, when I say 'remembering wrong' I mean things of significance. There will always be some perceptual differences, and you have to be careful not to get into the gray area of invalidating someone's feelings thinking you're invalidating their memory. For ex: I went to the doctor w/DH once. He asked me to go. I knew it would be a possible land mine so I was very careful about what I said and only spoke when spoken to and stuck strictly to the facts. When the doctor told him someone that he didn't want to hear, he was really upset about the whole appt and tried to accuse me of 'leading' the doctor into saying what he did. It wasn't that he didn't remember what I said, it was that he truly thought that was what I was trying to do...or what it felt like to him, anyway. I never said one thing that wasn't true and everything related strictly to the emotions, no feelings, no mention of what I thought might be going on, etc. I did tell him "I'm sorry, but you are very wrong about that..." My main issue with the mis-communication in these situation is that it typically results in him having feelings about me/thinking things about me that simply.are.not.true. He comes out of these situations seeing me as the enemy...and that hurts. 


I'm flattered, Waterfall, that I could have such an impact.  I am happy you picked up on what the validation was.  For me, I'm not looking for my non-ADHD partner to admit I'm right when I'm way out on left field.  I just want her to understand...  I really.. for real.. am standing right here on left field.  Everything that I know to be true and real in that moment, has me standing on left field.  I just need an understanding "hey... I totally get you heard play left field, an I know how much you hate left field.  That sucks...  What I said was please take first base."  I would probably be like "oh..  (chuckle)  well...  I guess I'll head on over to first base then."  of course..  this probably still needs to have the ADHD partner except the fact that we don't catch as much as we think we do in a conversation.

I'm a very no nonsense kind

I'm a very no nonsense kind of person. I live by the rule, you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. I believe I often confuse validation with confirmation. I usually tell my husband, he doesn't need to feel the way he does because he doesn't even have the facts straight. I would probably get further with him if I started off by validating his feelings, given what he thinks has occurred. Then, once I have his trust, I could, if it is necessary, explain things from my perspective (heretofore known as reality;) You know, I'm a very sensitive person, and I always thought well, of course I validate his feelings; everyone is entitled to their own feelings. But I didn't realize how much my husbands ADHD got in the way. It caused me to take my emphasis off his feelings, because I got caught up in proving the facts. I really can't thank you enough!

Yes!  You totally get it.  A

Yes!  You totally get it.  A round of validation for everyone! ON ME!! :)

I think you touch on a big key for ADHDers.  Validating their feelings.  Part of the ADHD that is a gift and a curse, is our feelings.  While I may sometimes appear to have a flat affect, I feel very much.  ADHD causes people to feel more intensely.  It can make us very intuitive, or cause us to make poor, sometimes devastating, assumptions.  I often remember the feeling an event or interaction gave me more so than the details.  The feelings become my reality.  Body language, tone of your voice, ect... all cause feelings about what your trying to communicate, besides the words themselves.  The feelings are what I need validated.  not that I'm right when I'm 

summerwine's picture

Feelings over details for

Feelings over details for sure! I was looking at carpet samples with my sister in law the other day and she kept asking what  ones I liked and then wanted to know why I liked them. There was no logical reason why I liked them it was just gut feelings. That really annoyed her. I started making stuff up to tell her just to get her off my case. Oh this one looks like it won't gather so much dog hair and stuff   ;-p

Gut Feeling

This is interesting... I have always (at least +50% ;) had good "Gut Feelings" about things. I used to just say it was a Gut Feeling. Maybe I did not understand all the things my brain went through to get this GF, now if I do understand how I got to the GF, it is just too much work to explain "Why" to someone that process. If it is a "Big" decision, of course I'll explain it the best I can, otherwise GF is all they need to know. Many times people get annoyed at some point in my Break-Down of GF Logic ;)

Maybe one step further

My husband has a good gut when it comes to getting a good read on other people's personality.  2 times now (once before I was in the family and once after) he has had strong negative feelings about a family member's mate.  In both cases the rest of his blood family couldn't stop falling all over themselves long enough to realize these were some creepy people being brought into the family.  I shared his opinion of the one once I was in the family--I have a pretty good read on people too.  Both times he was proven correct in a HUGE way.

So if it comes to who we choose as friends, if either of us feels negatively about someone (AFTER we've spent some time with them--I think quick judgements are frequently but certainly not always correct), we simply don't spend unnecessary time with them.  If one of us felt really positively about someone and the other felt really negatively and we both have guts we've learned to trust, we'd have to compromise somehow...I generally think you should err on the side of whoever feels the strongest about it since we both have reason to trust each other--fortunately this situation has never come up.

There are a lot of issues where I don't really care where the "gut logic" comes from, but there are at least an equal amount of times when I am involved in the decision (big or small) where I want to know where his opinion is coming from.  My husband isn't good at explaining beyond "just my gut reaction...not sure what it is based on".  As a mate that can be pretty frustrating esp if he gets really attached to this gut feeling with no apparant basis, which my husband frequently does.

Now keep in mind this same person has had to be helped to understand why his "gut" feeling was all screwed up about who should do what at home--which by the way his gut feeling and what he truly wanted to happen was VERY different then the logical conclusions he came to when we discussed it.   Guess what though?  As soon as we weren't logically discussing it., regardless of the conclusions we came to, his feelings....or gut desires if you will....reverted right back to where he ideally wanted them to be, which had nothing to do with what we decided or what was best for us as a couple.

The problem I see with the going with your feeling on things is that frequently your feeling isn't including all the information.   I do believe many of the people I know with ADD, including my husband, trust an ENORMOUS amount in their gut; and it is frequently unwarranted when it is something that involves other people...esp a mate...because the gut only mostly one side (the way they see it) into consideration.   Until you talk about it, generally the other person's viewpoint or ideas can't be on your radar and thus can't be figured into your gut.

When it is something like "I see something phony about this person and would prefer not to have him/her in our lives much" then that person's seeing it from primarily their own viewpoint doesn't matter unless their mate strongly disagrees.  When it affects both and everything is "I see" "I feel"--that can come across as too one note or only taking into consideration one side of the equation.

The think I dislike about my husband's way of "feeling" things as far as decisions rather than talking them out and seeing all sides (which he does work hard on doing as a couple) is that at the end of the convo he still feels the same way, even if he can admit that his 'feeling' is based on nothing but his immediate reaction without considering any is like it wears an IMMEDIATE rut into his brain and this is suddenly THE WAY to do it.   Is that a problem for anyone else?  I think I remember Arwen saying her husband had the exact same issue.

That reaction frequently doesn't stand the test of logical discussion, but if you are single and don't need to think about another person's viewpoint, it is no biggie.  Just do it your own way.  I do think this quality makes it exponentially harder for some people with ADD to see outside their own opinion and adjust if they have already had a strong gut reaction to something.

Definitely can be relied on too far.

In the carpet sample experience.......if the carpet isn't for you then it shouldn't make much difference why you like what you like.  You are just there to give opinions.  If your sister in law wants chapter and verse as to why you like something and you can't give it to her, then I just wouldn't do that shopping together anymore.   If you are in the shop with your husband and the variables of what is going to show dirt and what is going to be easy to clean and what is going to last and what is in the budget aren't being considered, most mates are going to get angry. 

First Step...

I'm definitely not saying the "Gut Feeling" is always right, or 51% of my final thought on a subject. 

Regarding people, especially guys, I am almost always right with my initial feeling when I meet them. I will give people a chance to prove my gut wrong and I will not do anything to let them know I'm not sure about them. I agree with you that if either me or my DW have a weird feeling about someone that we proceed with caution.

Big decisions... I used to be bad in the old days of doing something that basically concerned Me, not realizing how much it Did affect my DW. And like you said, I would get all defensive of my choice if our logic differed. Lessoned learned FOR Sure! I think the Adderall has Really helped me Not make a quick Gut Based choice in a lot of areas.

I guess my first post was really looking at more to the instant reaction to things and that my GF was usually right and later discussion of reasoning generally was right more than wrong. I like my choices to make sense, but sometimes it takes a while to explain the Full Decision Process to someone not close to me. There have been times that my DW would not even want to consider something because she did not want to be disappointed by Wanting "It", then it not working out later. My DW also has applied the Brakes to my schemes when I began Focusing on something Too Big. We have a pretty good balance in our personalities in this regard.

"it is like it wears an

"it is like it wears an IMMEDIATE rut into his brain and this is suddenly THE WAY to do it.   Is that a problem for anyone else?" -- ​Aspen

um.... yeah... me... (raising my hand shyly slightly blushing...)

Sometimes I just don't even see my wife's logic (which makes sense) over my gut feelings...  I haven't quite let go of trusting my gut in the moment.  a work in progress.  Several times my wife as tried to explain something to me and I just can't see it, but the part that is odd is someone else can explain it, like a therapist for example, and I may not get a gut feeling at all, and completely except their logic.

There may be a measure of difference in body language, voice tone, and delivery style that may play into the emotional reaction involved. 

Wow...I am

Wow...I am never disappointed by ADHDers who are able to articulate and admit things like this. I'm the 'non' wife...and I swear so much of the affect my DH's ADHD has on him is for this exact reason. He gets something in his mind and there is ZERO chance anyone will ever change it...unless it is someone he sees as COMPLETELY  non-threatening or who could not possibly have an agenda against him (doesn't everyone??)...and then he'll listen. Exactly why I have been 'trained' to avoid mentioning ADHD...because coming from me, the defenses immediately go up and his ears close...and flames shoot out his eyes. Also, God forbid I give suggestions, tips, or advice on any given work related issue he might is immediately heard with the 'defensive' ears...and, well, I'm surely just calling him 'stupid' or telling him 'how to do his job'. My logical side says I'm about to graduate from college with a degree in business management (his weakest area) and if he would appreciate me as a resource (and not a source of defensiveness) there is a good chance I could help him with some of his issues at work that PLAGUE him! Not saying I'm a genius, but I am a 4.0 student and have a lot to offer. He has a "RUT" worn into his brain that says if I open my mouth about his job or ADHD then he immediately goes to his 'angry' place and shuts me down just as fast. It is not only hurtful, but frustrating to know that he is so defensive of me...when I would love nothing more than to help him. I couldn't help him AT ALL in his field...computers/IT...and readily admit it. 

Looks like lying, smells like lying...but

My husband and I just had one of these "lying" episodes today! Yesterday, I asked my ADHD husband if he had finished a job he was subcontracted to do. He said yes. Today, he told me he had to go finish the job, because there was some small thing he still needed to take care of. WTF? I asked him why he would tell me it was finished, if, in fact, it was not. He told me well, it really is finished. Again, WTF? I said finished means that there is no more to do. Clearly, this is not the case. His response? Yeah, but it is finished except for that one small part I need to do. At this point my head is spinning. 

So, I explained to him that this is exactly the type of thing that makes me think he is lying, hiding something, or otherwise being deceitful. I asked him if there was a reason he wanted me to believe the job was finished, like was he afraid I would be mad that he wasn't finished. His response, no, because the job is basically finished. 

I had the same thing happen at school, I am a teacher, and one of my ADHD students told me a project was finished. I asked him to give it to me so I could grade it. He told me he couldn't give it to me just yet, because he still had a few things to do.  

Why not just say, I am ALMoST finished! This is the kind of thing that makes those of us without ADHD nuts!

Recurring issue

Since that issue really seems to be important to you, from now on I would use the term, "are you COMPLETELY finished?".  That way he would be given the chance to say that while 99% done, there was still one small thing left hanging.  Then if he lied about it, you would definately be able to make him accountable for it.

I understand what you are saying though.  When living with all the frustrations of and ADHD marriage, these inconsistencies can make one  C R A Z Y !!!!!

I actually said that

I actually said that yesterday! I asked him if he was finished, and then pressed for there Is NOTHING more to do? You don't need to do anything else? Honestly, I think this may be why they rarely finish anything! I think they convince themselves they are done with a project before the final details are completed. If you ask my husband if he is finished putting the flooring in in the living room, he will tell you yes. I will tell you it is not finished, and I have been waiting for three years for the trim work to be completed. I could go on and on. 

I guess what bothers me most is that they will ARGUE about it! In both scenarios, my husband and my student argued with me. They insisted they were finished!  Talking to someone with ADHD often makes me feel like I am dealing with a person who does not live on the same planet. We are in parallel universes and common sense and facts don't exist in their world.


Yes, I do believe that most of them do not understand the LITERAL meaning of words.


My husband definitely falls into this category at times

I wonder if it is because he isn't much of a reader.  I am a voracious reader so I think that is why my vocabulary is more extensive than his. 

Sometimes if other things are going on or esp if we are in a serious discussion and he escalates it using a word that he doesn't really know the meaning to/doesn't use correctly and tries to cover himself by saying "you knew what I meant" which is often not true at can lead to a fight.

My goal of dealing with this issue is the Princess Bride "this word....I do not think it mean what you think it mean" and we both have a laugh over it.  I can tell you the laugh is way better for our communication than the fight.......and yet sometimes it can be such a button. 

It is the "you knew what I meant" that gets me, and way too often I come back with "How on earth could anyone know what you mean.....blah blah"

You know what has helped?  We are learning spanish together and are volunteering regularly in the Spanish community.  Sometimes you are in a conversation that takes a turn you don't expect and you know the right word, but you end up saying a word that sounds like that word or that you've heard used in a context you think is similar, so you go with it only to be looked at like you have three heads.  This is the universal face for 'you just used the wrong word' :)   Because I couldn't possibly be more non spanish--blue eyed blonde here--I always get the benefit of the doubt and I appreciate it.  We work together to figure out what I meant to say.  The occasional judgmental type person who acts like I should always use the correct word........well I tend to avoid that person if I am being honest.

Soo should we be able to expect our mates to use words correctly when they are in their native language?  Probably, but they do have a bit of a brain disconnect that is causing me to try to view it as if I am making a mistake in a foreign language, and then try to react like how I want someone to treat me.


summerwine's picture

ADHD causes you to look at

ADHD causes you to look at projects and goals and accomplishments differently than the normal people. It's a different perspective. Think of it like glass half full or glass half empty. You see a project half incomplete they see a project half finished. It's NOT lying or being wrong or being horrible. It's just looking at the world with different a brain. I look at my minivan and I'm all proud that  I have a safe car for driving. My sister in law see a used piece of junk that is not much of  a status symbol. Nether of us are wrong until she tells me that I am messed up for being proud of my van which is the best car I can afford right now. I see a kitchen that is clean but not organized and i am proud that i have a clean kitchen. My sister in law sees a disorganized disaster. no one is wrong here until she belittles me for being "messy"

Thanks for trying to help me

Thanks for trying to help me with this! I get differences in perspective, but the crazy feeling sets in with issues that seem black or white to me. I don't think my husband or my student are horrible people, and I don't think they made a decision to lie to me. The problem for me is that this is not a glass half empty/half full thing. It's a glass is completely empty or glass has something in it thing! It's  " why tell me there is something in my glass when I can clearly see it is empty!" Then when I point this out, they argue. This is just a simple example, but I think it serves to illustrate what can happen when the issue is something bigger.  This kind of interaction can really eat away at trust. Am I making any sense?

summerwine's picture

But you say in your examples

But you say in your examples that both projects were almost finished just not totally finished. That is not the glass being empty and insisting that it is full. That's the glass being almost full and saying it is full. Next time when you ask if something is completed try asking if it is 100% really done if there is still some left to do. is it ready to be handed in? I'm sure it annoying when someone sees a almost full glass and says eh close enough its full but its just as bad to see a almost full glass and says gasp its empty why are you lying to me?! I don't know if that makes sense or not. I think the crazy making is probably going both ways.

It feels like splitting

It feels like splitting hairs, does it not? Trust me, I've learned after 12+ years with my husband to ask follow up questions, but it seems I can never be sure we are on the same page. I think what is important here is the effect this has on a relationship. For example, if my husband went out with some friends to a place I knew an ex of his frequented, I might ask him did you see her? He might say no, but then later I find out she was there. If I confront him, I might get "well she was there, but I didn't talk to her or anything. I didn't really SEE her". THAT wasn't the question! It makes you feel like there is something they are hiding. Why not say yes, she was there, but I didn't talk to her?  It feels to the nonADHDer like the ADHDer is purposely being obtuse. Conversations get very cumbersome. I don't like it anymore than he does! Thank you again for indulging me; I really do want to understand, so I don't take things personally that I should not.

Yes opens up the opportunity for disaster...

I've been in this situation before, many times... (This is only my experience in this situation, based on never cheating on my wife) 

I would say that this question feels like more of any inquiry. The "Startle Effect" is what I call my old reaction to a question catching me off-guard. First of all even if my Ex went to a certain place where I went with some buddies I would not think about the X being there. So after having fun with the guys and coming home in a good mood your question would catch me unprepared. This question also implies that she already knows the answer to the question and is testing me or suspects that I wouldn't tell her on my own if she did not ask. It feels like guilty until proven innocent. Again, from my point of view, I have never cheated on my DW, so these questions made me feel like I could never be trusted. These things get in the ADDer's head, not being trusted sucks, and I never put together that the "White or not so White lies" about little day to day BS adds up to "If you lie about these things, then when does the lying stop?" I get this now... But in my old brain, if I have not cheated or lied about seeing my X, then you should not have anything to worry about on the subject. Like House, MD says... "Everybody lies"

I know I'm bad with facial expressions on a good day and many times my wife will ask what's wrong and I'll say "Nothing, why?", then she will say "That look on your face"... 

So my reaction to the question will be about the same for the reality of "X was seen" or "X was not seen". Either way my DW would not believe my answer after my reaction to the question. If I did make an X sighting that involved Zero communication I would be hard pressed to bring it up. If she asked, I would speak truthfully. So of course I would be angry about the question in the first place, because no matter my answer, the day is now ruined by the aftermath of an unnecessary question.

I am a bit more enlightened as to how my reactions could cause worry/distrust and my startle effect is way less, so my reactions and answers are better, but there is still a lot of history driving reactions to painful conversations like the one described here.

Thanks for the insight. Let

Thanks for the insight. Let me ask you this, when your spouse asks you a question, do you automatically feel you are being tested? I often feel like my husband is trying to figure out WHY I am asking before he answers. Like you said, an inquiry. I feel like he tiptoes around what should be a straightforward response.   Sometimes I just want to know, it's simple, not a "pregnant" question, so to speak. The scenario I gave you was hypothetical, but it could easily happen. And you are correct, we would suspect you wouldn't tell us on your own! If I am correct, you are saying this omission of information has less to do with being secretive and more to do with an " out of sight out of mind" mindset? The "startle effect" is an interesting way of describing what you are going through. It implies a bit of anxiety, no? Should I be more careful about how I phrase questions that I can guess would give him angst? Instead of a flat did you see her, should I instead say, I know you have no desire to see your ex and I know you love me, but I am curious, was she there? Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

You are welcome

I don't feel tested by all questions, just ones that seem to imply more than the simple question, like a hook to dig into other topics. Tip toe-ing around the answer is an ADD dance because there can be many answers in the head, but so many could sound wrong and I've done this a thousand times. Once the answer is out, how it sounds is the answer, no re-do's, those are just excuses. So I know many things can upset my DW and I would try anticipate responses and select the best answer, like being prepared, a rarity with ADD. Being caught off-guard is something we know very well and the outcome is usually less than stellar. Unprepared because of a bad impulsive move, or discussion of a topic I had not thought of, or being "plugged in" on a project and suddenly being asked to talk in real time about something light years from the present focus. I rarely did too well in "Ad lib" moments, unless it was a familiar topic. Out of sight, out of mind, definitely... Anxiety over when the next Surprise moment will come. I did not realized I was so anxiety ridden before my diagnosis. I don't think you need to be careful about questions, but maybe understanding the awkward answer could help. After my diagnosis, and understanding a lot of what has caused me to react the way I did, and sometimes still do, the meds have really helped me lock in on answers quickly and respond with greater ease. There is a lot of un-learning the ADDer has to do, and patience for the Non-ADDer as they wait for consistent improvement. Hopefully some of this makes sense, the meds are long gone...  

Hi YYZ, Yeah,  so many


Yeah,  so many possibilities for answers.  We need to find the correct one, be efficient about it, see it from all possible present and future angles to be sure that wouldn't affect the answer, and give the best response and never contract ourselves in the near future (2 minutes from now) or ever.

It is difficult to be caught off guard, especially when "unprepared" or "distracted."

Your response makes total sense in spite of the meds wearing off:).


I forgot another important part of the problem

Memory!!! or lack of good short term or the Cliff's Notes version of the past. This makes the "Unexpected Question" even more anxiety ridden. Will the question, surely tied to a past topic, give me a chance to have a variance in my past recall? Of course... The the trouble can really begin... 

Appreciate this insight

Because when I am asked a question, I am generally thinking only of the question and the answer to the question.   Not considering the question might be a landmine which seems to be the way ADDers view some questions.  I appreciate seeing what goes through your minds before the answer.

Cause often I have no ulterior motive about asking a question, but when I get a What the?? kinda response, it does become a conversation.

Loaded Questions

I'm willing to admit, as the non-ADD spouse, that sometimes, for me, the question does have more behind it than curiosity.  I think the question-asker can measure the level of how "loaded" the question really is if they are honest with themselves.  And by "loaded" I don't mean "trick" question, just that it's pretty certain the asker wants to know more than just the answer to that question, that there will probably be more questions, that this is something the asker wants to "talk" about, at a minimum, or perhaps "discuss" or perhaps even "argue" about.  The way to measure how loaded the question really is is to measure how annoyed, frustrated, or ticked off you get by the answer.  To my spouse coming indoors "Is it raining?" might be "just curious" if I am planning to read a book for the next hour, but hugely important if our big annual backyard party starts in an hour.  "Was your ex?" at the party might be just curious if the two of you had been wondering before the event if she would be there, but it might be loaded if talk about the X in question has always led to heated discussions in the past.  I'm willing to fess up and say that I sometimes try to "sneak" my way into a conversation about a topic important to me by asking a supposedly innocent question.  Blaming the question-answerer for failing to accept my "invitation" is something I have been working on.  My guy once said "You always ask me questions like you're hoping to get a reaction from me!"  Well, in part that's true.  Sometimes it's hard to even get any response.  As in, I get just silence.  But I took his words to heart, and really try to hear my question from the other side and if it's not really "innocent" I'm more upfront about why I want to talk about it.  Sometimes I do poke him more than I should.

Questions, silence...

I understand more these days about why the "Loaded Question" happens. I used to be horrible about a serious conversation, especially if I knew it was coming. Communication, not on a subject of my liking, was my Achilles Heel and an auto-fail. I knew that I would try to force an answer, impulsively, because otherwise I would get bogged down by all the thoughts racing through my head. Silence... My DW just wanted my side of the story, she would quickly get frustrated by my silence (Take 3496 of this scene), then angry, then I clam-up even more, then she tries to guess my side of the conversation, just to get Something out of this futile engagement. I would give Y/N to her guesses and this was how we sorted through Big topics. 

So... The "LQ's" really are a good idea as a way to begin with an ADDer like me. I'm in a good mood, she seems to be as well and the question can be received initially well, but then since my brain is not in lock-down self protect mode I begin to process the "Where is this going" and if I think it just leads straight to an old sore subject it makes me mad. We are having a great day and now it will be ruined by this question. (In my mind of course)

I can handle these questions much better these days. I understand that my poor communication really initiated this tactic out of necessity for Some kind of communication from my communication deprived DW.

If I can drop the shields here, maybe she can begin to drop hers one day too.

Again, thank you so much. I

Again, thank you so much. I am beginning to get a picture of what is going on for my husband. I think he believes some questions are loaded, which really are not. At the same time, I realize I do ask loaded questions, which if he doesn't realize are loaded results in answers that piss me off because he comes across as flippant. When he does realize he is being asked a loaded question, he goes into a bit of overload, which results in answers that piss me off! The poor guy can't win! 

At the same time, I agree with NJTWINMOM, sometimes we just need a direct answer and it can make the nonADHDer nuts when we get a song and dance instead! Thanks, this conversation has truly enlightened me.

Going to consider this further and talk to hubby about it

I guess I do often ask a question as a way to start a convo, so certainly the answer to that one question isn't an end to the convo but rather the beginning in my mind.  I am sure sometimes my husband thinks "I don't want a convo" about this, but I don't think the answer is to give a loony answer or esp not an untrue answer.

I have no problem telling my husband the correct answer to his question and if he wants to talk further about something, either doing so or saying I am not up for it at the moment.  Maybe he doesn't feel the same freedom or comfort in doing the same.

Your question is

Your question is interesting, "when your spouse asks you a question, do you automatically feel you are being tested?"

I can't speak for YYZ, but I can tell you that after years of criticism by my husband, I do feel like I am being tested, even when I am not.  I'm not saying that to have a pity party, but it is certainly a conditioned response I am trying to break.  I HATE when I, in my attempt to answer quickly, answer impulsively as well.  VERY ANNOYING for both of us.  I'm better than I was, but answering quickly AND thoughtfully are sometimes mutually exclusive for me (YYZ, if you have any suggestions for this, I'm all ears...:)).  I am only speaking for myself; I certainly have no idea whether your husband is experiencing anxiety.  The combination of anxiety and ADHD definitely makes it harder for the brain not to short-circuit. My husband always says to me, "Listen to the words..."  It is difficult because I am distracted by the tone at times, or what I sometimes INCORRECTLY perceive as an angry or annoyed tone.  Then I scramble to answer what I THINK the question is based on all these distracting factors, the WORDS, the perceived tone, facial expression, context, what he might want me to anticipate but is sick of having to orchestrate (which IS a TEST), instead of/in addition to the ACTUAL WORDS. 

"I often feel like my husband is trying to figure out WHY I am asking before he answers."

I don't know how much of that is trying to integrate visual and auditory cues within a given context and trying to respond appropriately and whether he's panicking that whatever he says might lead to a fight or not or how much is the interpersonal dynamic you have.  I can tell you that I sometimes read into the questions of other people as well, but I will also add that when I'm more relaxed, it happens FAR less often. 

I do like the way you suggest rephrasing your question about seeing an EX in a bar.  I think it would make anyone, ADHD or not, less defensive.  It actually sounds like the perfect way to answer a question that could be touchy for anyone; what a professional might recommend for better communication :).


I wish I had a remedy for the not programmed response

When the Adderall is still working I am much more fluid with my answers, of course when do most of these conversations happen? At night, meds gone, but I feel like I'm getting better with these situations slowly but surely.

Thank you, I really think

Thank you, I really think your experiences mirror my husband's. I will try to keep your response in mind when I'm talking to my husband. He definitely has anxiety. Thanks for your insight!

Not saying the rephrasing would sound bad

and certainly it would be worth it if you are trying to discuss a topic that is a sore subject, but going through all of this

Instead of a flat did you see her, should I instead say, I know you have no desire to see your ex and I know you love me, but I am curious, was she there? Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

Just to ask "was X at a party?"  just no.  My brain goes snap, crackle, and pop just thinking of having to go through those kind of hoops to ask what should be a very simple yes or no question. 

I know you didn't ask it to be phrased this way ADHDmomof2, but as someone you said you like this phrasing, would you honestly expect your husband to talk to you this carefully over such a question?  A question you can answer by "Yes she was there", "No she wasn't there", or "I don't know, I never saw her."

Some of this is probably gender or personality type differences cause my husband doesn't have to coax info from me.  Our likely convo...

He--"Was X there?" 

Me--"Yes and oh my lord you should have seen the crazy x, y, or z he was wearing/talking about/dance he was doing" and it would lead into other convo about the party.  Usually this is where I am going with a question...just a reason to talk and share what happened.

I am absolutely willing to try to adjust and conform to what he needs and try to make our environment as ADD friendly as possible, but to have to ask every casual question I have in this way.......just no.

Obviously to ask a loaded question more this way is something I am working on doing and my husband seems to appreciate it.

I understand what you are

I understand what you are saying.  I was just thinking of it in light of the nature of that particular question, i.e., asking about an EX.  Maybe I'm just reading into things, but it just seems like that might qualify as a question that anybody could perceive (rightly or wrongly) as loaded, even if it was not intended that way..   I don't think that the non-ADHD partner has to formulate questions that rival War and Peace in length ;).  

Ahh I see your point

Exes have never been an issue or a loaded question for us.......course neither of us would have any opportunity to see exes in our regular life either, which probably helps.

I agree with you entirely that if you are talking about a loaded question, some delicacy in the question is certainly in order.  However I do feel that even if the question wasn't delicately asked, and there are only "yes" "no" or "I don't know" as the answers, it shouldn't be a complicated answer regardless :)

XYZ, this sentence really struck me

So of course I would be angry about the question in the first place, because no matter my answer, the day is now ruined by the aftermath of an unnecessary question.

See I think this is where the attitude my husband sometimes has comes from.  He thinks he gets to determine if a question is necessary to answer or not.  Now if he went to a gathering where he might see an ex and for whatever reason I wasn't there (hasn't ever happened to us btw but he couldn't be less of a cheating type personality so I would certainly come into this situation from a position of trust), I would see nothing wrong with asking if he saw her.

That is not a loaded is did you see her?  If the answer is yes I might ask other questions about her or their interaction but this is all from a place of curiosity and trust and absolutely NOT from a place of trying to see if he or she did anything inappropriate.

Now, knowing my husband as I do, I would not expect him to come in and start talking about his ex....I saw her...she was wearing......etc.  Just not his thing.  If I ask it is one thing, but he is certainly not going to share up front possibly because he isn't sure how I would feel about him talking about his ex or possibly because he thinks it would be disrespectful.

If she was there and he knew she was there and I asked "was X there?"  Any answer other than "Yes" is lying to me.  Cause I didn't ask if he talked to her or if her husband was there or if he cared she was there.........I asked "was X there".  It is only a yes or no answer and only one of them is true.

Might he react with your shocked reaction and make me a bit suspicious.   He might......he seems to get himself tongue tied if he thinks it could be a loaded question, and I appreciate your explanation of that so that I can be more sympathetic.

Saying he has a right to get angry about an innocent question?  I diagree.  As his wife I can ask whatever I want

Saying the question was unnecessary?  I disagree.  We don't get to decide for eachother what info we have a right to


But I think my husband might at times see it as unnecessary or a possible way into an unnecessary I'm very curious as to your further comments on this subject.  Can you clarify for me?


I agree with this one all the way

My husband and I have known one another for 34 years on April 4th....and until the Adderall, it was the same here.....JUST ANSWER THE FREAKING QUESTION.....stop circumventing, stammering, dancing around the subject...YES I DO UNDERSTAND YOU AND HAVE WALKED IN YOUR SHOES.  Just TELL THE FREAKING TRUTH!!!  It does become exhausting, when a simple yes or no question takes 2-4 sentences and STILL you don't have your answer.

Until he gets the proper meds and counseling and gets this demon ADHD under control, all your questions will be answered in that type of "roundabout" fashion.

I feel your pain! Thanks for

I feel your pain! Thanks for the validation. It is exhausting! By the way, I'm a PAtwinmom! 

But is it really?

A job that is close to done but still undone......I don't consider it half finished.  I just don't consider it finished.  I guess I can see where someone can get to where something is almost complete and thing.......whew I got past all the hard parts of this and there is just a little detail work left.....I am practically done.

I can't see how that translates into telling your mate "I am done" or to answering the question "are you done with x?" with "yes". 

Does the fact that his wife still sees it as incomplete, which in all honesty it IS incomplete, honestly come across to some husbands as if his wife is saying he hasn't done anything at all on the project?  or is even only 1/2 way done?

I guess I don't really understand all the gray area here.  Someone asks you "Is project x done".  If it isn't done, any type of "yes" is incorrect.  Right?  I mean we can't disagree with that, can we?

Now in my world, saying any type of "yes" in the above situation, if you know you are not done, is a my husband's world that is not a lie.  I can kinda see where there could be gray areas there based on perception and I try really hard not to call it a lie now because that is a hot button issue between my husband and I, but saying YES when you are not done is not correct.  You are overstating the are almost done and will hopefully be done soon but you are NOT done.

Therefore you should not say that you are done if you are asked, right?

1/2 full and 1/2 empty are definitely diff perceptions

and they are both correct.  Just seeing it from a diff viewpoint.  No one should get slammed for their viewpoint in this situation.

Done and not done aren't really different is correct and one is not correct.  I think this is where I am getting tripped up in this convo. I don't see how both people can be right if a project isn't finished and he tells his wife that he is finished.

MagicSandwich's picture

Hey Summerwine, This is so

Hey Summerwine,

This is so tru about seeing the safe car vs. seeing a messy piece of junk. However, a better way to pose the question at hand would be to rehearse a scenario where your sister-in-law would ask you "Did you fill up the car with gas?" or "Are you finished using the car this afternoon? Can I borrow it?" 

When I ask questions like this and get a "yes" in reply, more often than not I'll go out to the driveway and discover that that the car's fuel tank is on empty and that the car is needed for one last quick trip somewhere. Before I can get a word out of my mouth I am already hearing the "I'm done with the car. Basically. I mean I just need to get some wire down at Warehouse Emporium and that'll take me like 5 minutes. But I'm done and you can use it afterward. " 

I just don't know what to say at these times.


Hi Waterfall,I'm a teacher,

Hi Waterfall,

I'm a teacher, too, and I've certainly learned a lot about myself by observing my mini-me's in the classroom.  I certainly don't have all the answers.  Here's the thing:  sometimes, people, ADHD or not, do lie.  Sometimes people with ADHD do lie to cover up for their inconsistencies and mistakes.  I tell my husband the truth when I screw up, and I generally apologize immediately.  This, in spite of the fact that he's always been a grudge holder; not just towards me.  Still, I understood exactly what you were talking about when you relayed the conversation about putting in the floors.  If asked the question, I might say "Yes," then realize I forgot some detail, and say "Well, almost finished.  I just remembered I have to ____________."  I also have been that person who argued with her spouse for something that is black-and-white, that to my ADHD perspective is done.  I can't speak to why I sometimes perceive things that way and why I actually believe they are true.  It's easier for me to perceive this reality when I am the outside observer, and not the self-observer, to paraphrase the DSM IV.  I understand how ingratiating that type of response is when I am the observer.  It's easier for me to analyze what's happening as an observer.  I can readily admit that when I am the one answering the question, I genuinely believe what I am saying to be true.  I mean it, and not in the sense of being an ostrich and avoiding reality.  I truly believe that it is part of the ADHD disconnect.  There are times when I know that A and B are interdependent facts, which should lead me to conclude C, but I don't.  I don't make the connect, even though I am smart and understand the two facts independently.  I have seen this countless times with ADHD people.  Take your husband for example.   He might be thinking A) The floor is finished.  When you ask that question, he visualizes the floor.  It is finished.    However... B)  If your DH contracted someone to lay down a floor, and the trim work was not finished, he would be angry, because the job was not completed.  He would probably recognize this instantaneously.  C) Therefore, in keeping the logic congruent, he SHOULD conclude that the floor, in fact, is not finished, even if the trim is not part of the floor.  He doesn't make that connection automatically, though, at least not all the time. I wonder if it has something to do with the caudate area of the brain, which helps the two hemispheres communicate?  Who knows?  

In solving this problem,  I can tell you that for me, writing helps internalize new ways of thinking.  I can look at what I've written before so I can see that there is a logical thought process.  It helps me to analyze how I think as this seems to be the only way I can figure out ways to circumvent my weaknesses.  The motor act of writing helps, too, as does the constant visualizing while I write.

To that point, today I tried "LISTENING TO THE WORDS," without reacting, and answering the questions as directly as possible.  He was annoyed at me because I told him I didn't have time to attend a second event on his behalf this weekend.  He didn't think I had things to do, or at least wouldn't give me the benefit of the doubt.  His response: "Fine.  I'll just go anyways." 

I said, "That's your choice."  He then asked me if I had gotten the mail.  I've been reading this as "Did you forget to go to the mailbox?" which he tells me is my paranoia.  It has been annoying him, because I can react a bit defensively. 

I  said simply, "No.  Would you like me to get it?" 

"No, I'll just do it myself ," to which I responded simply, "O.K."

 Further on the first event, he had originally phrased the question this way, "Are you planning to go to (event I have never expressed interest in during our entire relationship, and that most people would never want to experience but you clearly want me to attend)?"  

I just answered, "I wasn't, but do you want me to go?" 

Response:  "I thought you would want to go, since it's for (insert guilt trip)." 

I could understand that in spite of being boring, it was going to be important.  My calm response:  "If you need me to go, I can go."  Holy crap.  I just avoided a conversational MINEFIELD of LOADED QUESTIONS, GUILT TRIPS, and HEAD GAMES.  I didn't play his stupid game, and we avoided some huge fights about how paranoid I am and why I can't just answer the question.  


Thanks, everything you said

Thanks, everything you said makes perfect sense! What really freaks me out about dealing with ADHDers and lying is that I usually have this gut feeling that they believe what they are saying! I can expose lying in a "normal" person like nobody's business. But when it comes to ADHDers, I feel like I am either dealing with a sociopath, or someone who is so out of touch with reality that there really is no point in trying! The student I referred to is an awesome kid! I would be proud to call him my own son, that's how much I respect him. And my husband? Well, I married him and had three kids with him, so I obviously think he is a good man at heart. It's so hard to comprehend on the non- ADHDer's part. And then, as you said people do lie! Have I caught my husband in a bold faced lie now and then? Yep! And that just makes it harder to know when you are dealing with real lying or ADHD type thinking!  This forum has really made me question some things, let me tell you! I think I have been wrong about accusing my husband of lying, when he probably wasn't. Over time I adopted this stance that says if it makes no sense and has no inherent logic, then it must be a lie. I need to adjust my thinking!

I totally understand where

I totally understand where you are coming from.  There is no way in hell I could possibly believe my ADHD students or son, for that matter, if I had not experienced this madness first-hand.  My husband even says that he doesn't believe I "lie" intentionally, but that what I say doesn't make sense at times, is not congruent with reality, but as I've made a mistake in my logic which conflicts with other statements I've made, whether it be in the past or in answering his queries into my "ADHD logic," I am most assured, LYING.  I can see in his face that he can't quite reconcile it either, which has led to statements like "YOU'RE CRAZY," which, needless to say, hurts me a great deal.  

More of the point of self-observation, I have two ADHD students in one class, one medicated, the other not.  The medicated one had been driven nearly to the point of madness by the unmedicated student (who, truth be told, drives the entire class insane).  Unfortunately, my medicated (but undermedicated, due to side effects) student had been making comment after comment toward the other student.  I kept addressing it over and over again, to no avail.  Finally, one day I said to him.  "Yes, he has trouble with impulsivity."

I could see the light bulb go on in his head.  "Oh, yeah.  He's like me.  That's why he's so distracted and distracting."  Like me, what is obviously annoying behavior in others is not always readily apparent when we engage in the same behavior... He hasn't made a single comment toward him since that day, knock on wood.

Try this one on for size...

Several months ago there was a cookout that the mayor hosted. Since my DH is over the IT dept in our city, he was invited. He called me late in the afternoon, day of the cookout, and said spouses weren't invited. He said he was going just for a few minutes and would be home, wasn't staying long. Come to find out, it was a lie. Spouses were invited. I questioned him when he was discussing, as if it were no big deal (did he not think I would notice?), that he was talking to his boss's wife, the mayor's wife, etc. "I thought spouses weren't invited" and his only response was "I thought so too, but I guess maybe they were". I went for months now believing he flat out lied to me about this event...and it escalated into a full blown suspicion (with some other details that emerged) that he was having an affair with someone in the city. I took a bunch of puzzle pieces and made a puzzle out of them...and was ready to divorce him over it this past week. After 2 days solid of fighting about it, not speaking, tossing in everything ... including the kitchen sink ... and he finally takes the time to address some of my concerns about the cookout. Come to find out, he realized once he got there that spouses were invited. He tried to call me. I didn't answer. I was at the movies with the kids. I texted, told him I was at the movies, he said "Ok...I will see you at the house later" and never mentioned his 'mistake' to me. HE LET ME BELIEVE FOR MONTHS THAT HE FLAT OUT LIED TO ME ABOUT SPOUSES NOT BEING INVITED when this wasn't exactly the case. I am baffled at why he didn't offer this explanation before I was ready to walk out the door. It SO happened that way. I don't imagine he would even remember me going to the movies otherwise. I remembered it, after he explained it, too. So, it is this kind of 'lie' that really scares me. I had so much anxiety over this for so long...and mentioned his "lying" to me about it several times and never got any explanation. Even if he did 'lie' initially about spouses being invited...and wanted to avoid admitting that...or maybe felt guilty and that is why he called me to ask me to come with him...wouldn't that be better, in his mind, than having me believe he didn't take me because of worse reasons? I asked him why he didn't want me around his co-workers, what was he hiding? He knew I was thinking he was up to no good. 

As I said...I am baffled how he can have such a key piece of information about a situation and keep it to himself until the shit is about ready to hit the fan. When he told me, was as if he was "ok, fine, I will tell you what happened" "I tried to call you after I got there and you had gone to the movies" as if he was afraid to say this all along...maybe he didn't realize how much of a difference it would make in MY feelings on the subject? Someone? Anyone?

A Stab at this...

He probably felt bad about not inviting you, and or, thought you would figure out spouses were invited later. Surely he knows you are probably going to find out from someone else, or a future slip-up on his part. I have personally felt the Terror of one of those "Slip ups" over something that was stupid to lie about in the first place. Maybe he thought the lie was contained to just the event and knew bringing it up again would just re-open the wound. Until he realized that this lie, when combined with others was combining into a full blown monster. Now the re-opening of the "Not invited" lie was absolutely needed to stop the larger conclusions you were drawing? The book was sort of closed on the one event, so changing This Story could get you to wonder what others could be fair game for re-investigation.

The older things get, even when an ADDer is not lying, the memory is worse and revisiting the old topic can Look like a "Slip-up", so as Lies get older the dominos Really Fall quickly. I don't know if this even makes sense to me ;) 

My brother and sister (at the

My brother and sister (at the time) both work for the city...there was no way I was NOT going to find out. Which brings up another question...

-if indeed the lie was intention to begin with, but he decided to invite me after he had time to think it through, why not just tell me "I tried to call, but you were at the movies" I mean a good "I realized once I got there that spouses were invited and then tried to call you" would have sounded better than NOTHING for months except "I thought spouses weren't invited" over and over again?

The entire point to me was...I needed to know, because of the past, that it was NOT because he is hiding something/someone. Period. Even if it was a flat out lie initially, just the simple act of inviting me would have made me feel he had nothing to hide...even if it was after he got to the cookout. I can honestly see him thinking it wasn't that big of a deal, he was just going to stop by on his way home, didn't want to make a huge production of it incase he got there and it sucked, etc..that type of thing. Maybe that's why he didn't want to initially invite me. It is a pretty big deal when we go anywhere because we either have to find a babysitter or leave our 19 year old autistic son home with our 13 year old...and we limit the time we are gone. But, the one thing he knows that I am going to be on 'full alert' for, before anything else, is him I am just so confused as to why he would not 'correct' this issue immediately instead of letting it linger. 

I can see your point about being afraid to open a 'closed subject' and the fear of making an even bigger mess, I suppose...the dominoes falling faster. Maybe he hoped I would just eventually drop it. Maybe he didn't, somehow, see that when I brought it up I was not dealing with it very well in my own mind. 

I am just sick over the anxiety I felt about it...and it seems it was all for nothing. Just proves what a horrible communication problem we have. Hopefully it was a lesson learned for both of us. 

t wish I knew...

It's hard to say why without having a Vulcan Mind Meld and seeing the events leading to the choice to lie through his eyes. By sticking to the story he could engrain the lie in his head, also keeping this to one story and not going through  how/why he felt the need to stick with it for so long. I have found recently that just keeping things simple is so much easier. Work, go home, it's dull, but easy... My anxiety levels are better keeping things simple. We rarely go out and do things together, even though the girls are old enough to be home for a few hours.

Maybe this mishap caused enough shock and awe to make him think about little lies like this? 

Appreciate that you brought up this subject

My husband and I, especially before diagnosis and when the diagnosis was new, had arguments about his "lying".  To me lying means you tell someone something that you know is untrue when you say it.   He feels it isn't lying unless you are deliberately trying to keep some information back from another person, and he always insisted he was NOT lying....even when he was regularly telling me things that turned out not to be fully true.

I think this issue can explode due to how important honesty is to one or both of the partners.  My husband, maybe due to his ADD/working memory/desire to keep himself out of trouble, is more fluid with what I consider to be the truth.  I don't hate anything in the world as much as I hate being lied to, so that has been a pretty big hot button issue in our lives.

In the "I have completed this project" example listed below, my husband could be one of the people who tells me he is done when really there are another few things left to go.  The thing is I don't care at all if there are a few things left to go, but I care very very very much about being told something is done when it isn't.

Summerwine's post about "close enough" is probably what he is thinking, but I don't really get it.  Say it is full,  WHEN it is full and not until then and you avoid a lot of problems.  What is so hard about saying "I am almost done/I have about 30 minutes left/One more afternoon and it is all finished".  Up to that point it is 'almost full', which is not going to get you in trouble or might get you reminded to finish it depending on its importance.  I honestly think my husband says it because there is so little left to do that he figures he can just finish it right up, and I won't ever know he hadn't completed it....but his memory often gets in his way and I might find out a day or two later that he never got to it.......or because he said to me it was done, he might have actually come to believe it WAS done.  Honestly the reason is probably just as likely to be because to answer "yes" to the questions "Is X project done?" is easier and fewer words than "Almost...I have about 30 more minutes to finish it up".  I swear sometimes the man asks like he is being charged for each word he uses, so he must be succinct!

Maybe I am ascribing a bad motive to him and it has nothing to do with making me think that he has finished it....maybe in his mind it is really done.  Maybe that really is why it can be so hard to get him to finish the last bit of something, because in his mind somehow it is already done....will be curious to learn if that is true but I am not fully sure how I'd go about finding out.

I ask a question like that and he immediately goes into that mode of trying to figure out why I am asking/what I am really asking/etc.   That is quite frankly ridiculous as I've told him over and over that I ask him what I want to figuring out necessary on his part.

I do appreciate this post and the ones below that help me see what can be a very fraught issue from different angles.

summerwine's picture

"Summerwine's post about

"Summerwine's post about "close enough" is probably what he is thinking, but I don't really get it.  Say it is full,  WHEN it is full and not until then and you avoid a lot of problems.  What is so hard about saying "I am almost done/I have about 30 minutes left/One more afternoon and it is all finished".  Up to that point it is 'almost full', which is not going to get you in trouble or might get you reminded to finish it depending on its importance.  I honestly think my husband says it because there is so little left to do that he figures he can just finish it right up, and I won't ever know he hadn't completed it....but his memory often gets in his way and I might find out a day or two later that he never got to it.......or because he said to me it was done, he might have actually come to believe it WAS done.  Honestly the reason is probably just as likely to be because to answer "yes" to the questions "Is X project done?" is easier and fewer words than "Almost...I have about 30 more minutes to finish it up".  I swear sometimes the man asks like he is being charged for each word he uses, so he must be succinct!"


a couple of things that i can think of here I will try to make it make sense.

1. I have learned that when someone asks if something is done its because they want it to be done. Chances are that if i say its not done or almost done that won't be good enough. I don't think that I have ever told someone that something was almost done and that made them happy. Instead what i get is disappointment and demands that i finish it right now. Or a barrage of questions about why isn't it done yet why are you so lazy?  So its easier just to say its done to shut them up and to avoid the confrontation and finger wagging and guilt tripping that i know is coming.

2. My ADHD brain hates doing stuff really hates doing stuff. It will trick me into thinking that something doesn't really need to be done. or that it doesn't really need to be done right now I can just put it off. It also tricks me into thinking something is done when its not done or that at least it's done ENOUGH. I have a good enough brain. My kitchen is clean but disorganized, that is good enough its done. I have had enough of working in the kitchen its done. I AM DONE with it.

3. I really do hate having to go into details. You says your husband feels like he has to pay for each word is true. My ADHD brain hates doing stuff and that includes having to talk. I hate having to think about what to say and then say it and explaining things. I hate having to go into details and explain things especially if i know that my perspective is going to be different and it will take a lot to get my point across. That's WORK a lot of work. It's hard work. and half the time it doesn't even pay off. there isn't even a reward just more questions and demands and stuff. Its especially hard to explain things and go into details in real time. that takes a lot of effort. I don't want to. It's hard and there is no reward. Can I just keep it short or avoid it please? I really wish I could. There have been so many time where I really WANTED to explain something to someone but the effort required to do it just didn't seem worth it so I didn't bother.


4. Yes I say things that i don't mean all the time. It just bursts out of me. Its very nice that you guys can control your brain and your thoughts and your feelings. I wish I could own my own thoughts but i don't. Medication helps but not totally. I wish I could say what i mean all the time but sometimes i don't even know what I am trying to say because everything happens faster than I can force my brain to make sense of. I don't have full control of my thoughts or my feelings or my words.

Very helpful response Summerwine

I am going to talk about this with my husband if it seems appropriate tonight on date night.  Some fascinating things in there. 

My brain wants to think and my mouth wants to talk...I think I have never considered in quite that way that it is sometimes just too much work for other people.  My niece is the same way I am and my brother has a personality similar to hubby's though without the ADD diagnosis, and he talks about long car rides with her babbling away until his brain hurts and then her saying "What the matter, daddy.  Why you no talking?"  I really feel for them both in that situation :)

I really think more compassion is what we all need in dealing with the people in our lives...ADD or not!

Didn't mean it?

This is where I have great difficulty understanding a standard phrase that so many ADHD people use when they have said horrible, hurtful things, “I didn’t mean that.”
There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Out of the mouth comes the overflow of the heart.”
When ADHDers say this phrase do they really mean “Oh, I didn’t mean to SAY that.”?
Last time I checked, ALL of my thoughts were my OWN, I thought them, not some alien invasion of my brain!
Anyone with ADHD care to clarify?
P.S. I think in the end your husband got honest and really nailed what is actually going on when they use this phrase.

Possible Explanations for "That's not what I meant"

It's difficult to give a one-size-fits-all answer here, but there are some explanations for this assertion, as well as some excuses...

I've posted in the past (where on this site, I could not tell you) about the difficulty I've had in the past in sometimes expressing what I am thinking and some of the reasons for that.  One thing I realized was that the visual I had in my brain was different than the words that came out of my mouth.  Distraction lead me to believe that I had expressed my thoughts in their entirety hence "That's not what I meant," or more precisely, "That's not what I was thinking.  What I visualized in my head was far clearer than the words I used, which gave an incomplete picture."  I recall during one of the couples seminar, Melissa Orlov mentioned that her husband would sometimes start a conversation, abandon it, and pick it up later without expressing the middle part of the conversation, as though he had been talking the entire time.  Distractibility is a cause of this behavior.  On the other hand, as she mentions in her book, sometimes people with ADHD say obnoxious things and try to cover it up by saying "That's not what I meant."  .  An apology is best here.  Then again, maybe it wasn't meant.  If your mouth moves faster than your brain from time to time, it is entirely plausible that you could. say. something. illogical ;) that is not meant even remotely.  

If you are talking about impulsive and mean-spirited diarrhea of the mouth, name-calling and the like, I can honestly say for all of my faults, I am not malicious.  My non-ADHD husband is FAR more impulsive when it comes to mean words.  I never would have used the word "impulsive" to describe him in other contexts, but my best friend and my therapist have both used these words to describe his tendency in speaking to me, and they are right. He's a pro, unfortunately.  The things he has said to me are seared into my long-term memory, and have hurt me deeply.  He says whatever he's thinking at the moment when he's angry, and can be very, very demeaning.  I have been raised by my ADHD Mom to be very careful not to hurt people's feelings with my words; a fortunate area of hyperfocus I've inherited, much like my awareness of child safety.    It doesn't mean I don't ever lash out when my husband hurts me; I do.  It also doesn't mean my responses are always perfect; I'm the subject of Melissa's most recent blog on "validation."  I do believe that when ADHDers say "That's not what I meant" in this context, it could certainly mean, "I meant it at the time, but I regret saying it, and I might have been exaggerating because I was pissed."

I don't know if this is helpful, or more confusing...

done this many times

I have done the exact same thing, and it drives my fiancee crazy.

The worst part is, when you're trying to interpret your partner's emotions, you're spending some of the working memory resources you need to keep events (and their order) straight! So this problem is intensified during arguments or when one or both partners are upset.

For that reason especially, your therapist is right on. When no one's upset and you're not having to keep track of much else--that's a good time to bring up hard stuff. Another thing I've learned is to ask your partner "Is now a good time to talk about an us-thing?" It is so much less threatening than "We need to talk," and it also lets your partner evaluate whether THEY are ready to deal with a difficult thing at that moment.

I know that can be hard. If you're like me, you want to address an issue right away, right when it comes up. I've been able to sidestep that by relying on notes when I talk to my fiancee about hard issues. I always have the worry that I'm going to completely forget something that's critical to understanding what's going on in my brain, and notes really help.

Good luck!

Hi Mattttam, I read your post

Hi Mattttam,

I read your post a while back, but I've been too busy to respond, until now.  Thank you for your response.  What struck me was what you said about trying to read emotion while holding onto your short-term memory and keeping the chronological order of events straight.  Yeah. Many a fight has been started by both of us because my brain short-circuits in the middle of a fight...

He still thinks I am a compulsive liar...Help!

Hi Everyone,

All I can say before I begin is how grateful I am now on stimulants 24/7, which I now take to help me sleep better.  I don't think I could have the presence of mind (literally!) to see what is going on by this time of night...

Tonight, we went out to eat as a family. Our young daughter had just handed me her tissue which I had in my hand as I was mentally calculating the tip and and signing the check.   I had my credit card and my husband's discount card in the other hand.  Before I had started to write, my husband told me he would need to borrow the pen I was using.  I both heard and understood him.  When I had finished signing, I apparently put the pen down for a second.  This led my husband to think I had forgotten his request for a pen.  He hadn't said anything yet by this point.  I don't remember putting down the pen, but I take his word for it as I am the one with short-term memory issues.  I am positive that I put it down because I was trying to organize the task I was working on and I remember trying to figure out what to do next.  I had not forgotten that I needed to give him the pen but had not noticed I had put it down.  Distraction.  In my head, I was thinking, "I need to put my credit card away first, but I have his discount card in my hand, too.  What do I do with this tissue?" 

And then I had sort of a vision of the many times in my life when my two hands have awkwardly fumbled because I have too much in my hands, knowing I couldn't simply drop everything to organize.  Had enough awareness of my lack of awareness to know the credit card could get lost in the disorganized shuffle.  His discount card, too.  I couldn't put these things down and yet needed to organize it with one less hand.  It sounds stupid, but yeah, I am that disorganized, mentally.  While this was happening, somehow, the pen fell on the floor, and I asked my daughter to retrieve it from under the table and give it to her father.  I still hadn't forgotten about his need for the pen, made obvious when I expressed that to her.  He (and this is where it gets a little fuzzy for me) then made some comment about me finally remembering or having forgotten; can't remember which.  I do remember responding that I did, in fact, remember, and that I had never forgotten about the pen.  He did not believe me, which was made clear when he started screaming at me in the car about being a bad role model as well as a liar.  Yup.  I remained calm while my husband is screaming at me about being a compulsive liar and a bad role model.  I am only now getting the irony of the latter comment.  I calmly told him how my brain works, and he told me that I was lying.  I asked him why I was able to remain so calm if I was lying.  He told me it was because I was a compulsive liar.  The funny thing is, when I was a kid, my Mom always used to tell me that I was "honest to a fault."  The other thing is, there have been so many instances in our relationship when I have had to tell him things I've messed up...and I just did it, in spite of his negative reactions, which may have including yelling, criticisms, cold shoulder, endlessly long (especially to someone like me) conversations about how awful I am.   In the past couple of years, I have thought to myself, "Why am I so honest about my mistakes?"  You would think I would "learn." But I continue to be honest because that is who I am, even when he is not the best version of himself.  Not trying to pat myself on the back; I have my faults, believe me.  I simply don't understand how he doesn't realize that the only conversations we have about me "lying" center around my working memory.  If I were a compulsive liar, one would think I would have more global issues, and also more serious "lying"...such as cheating on him, maybe a gambling problem, or, I don't know, maybe accidentally putting vodka in the kids' school lunches instead of water.  No, instead, I have a husband who tells me I'm lying...about a f------ pen.  If I was going to lie, I'd pick something more interesting that that to lie about...

This is one of a few ridiculously petty incidences to occur this week.  I can't help but thinking if we were more connected, it never would have spiraled like this.  He would be able to give me the benefit of the doubt, even if difficult.  He might have been impatient about the pen as he HATES waiting, but would not have upset our kids and called me a liar.  For us to have been more connected, I would have had to have addressed my issues 10 years earlier than I did.  He resents me, won't forgive me, and can't understand me.  I don't know how to show him that I am far different than he imagines.  My actions can't speak for themselves because they are sometimes incomprehensibly illogical to him, and understandably so.  I am just starting to understand these things myself.

A good role model doesn't

A good role model doesn't scream at his wife in front of his children. He acted like an ass, plain and simple. However, I am going to attempt to give some perspective as the nonADHD spouse. It is hard to understand why those of you with ADHD do the things you do. When we try to interpret the things you do, we naturally see things the way our brains work. When we run your actions through our filters you look like lying, selfish, mean-spirited people whom we cannot trust. You see, we've known lying, selfish, mean- spirited people who were untrustworthy. That filter works with most people. It is so hard to wrap our heads around the idea that you could do these things we associate with jerks, and not be a jerk.

what's worse for us is that when we try to explain how your behavior looks to us, you don't seem to get it. After years of being told you love and care about us, but behaving in ways that seem contrary to how one in love should behave, we get fed up. We don't believe you.

i come to this site on a regular(daily sometimes) basis to read posts like yours. I truly want to understand how my husband's brain works. I read everything I can get my hands on about ADHD, but it is so difficult to understand. I don't know if your husband has put the kind of effort into trying to understand ADHD that I have. If he isn't educating himself, he is never going to get it. He needs to learn about ADHD from sources other than you. It's just too personal and all the BS from the past creeps in.

In short, you ADHDers are exhausting. (I know you feel the same about us!) He may have just reached a boiling point and exploded. I'm not saying his behavior is ok, it's not. I'm just saying I understand how he may have gotten there.

ADDMom, Aspen and Waterfall: Let me muddy the waters ;)

Topic #1: Your husband was a jerk for blowing an O-Ring over the lag in handing him a Pen, Really ?!? More importantly doing this in front of the children. My DW has blown-up over all kinds of "Pen Type" issues, but not very often with the kids around.

There was NO blowup over my story, but it illustrates a version of Aspen's story about her mate.

A couple of weeks ago I had to take my DW's car to do some "Honey Do's" for my mom and aunt at their house. There is already risk of problems because a basic fundamental NORM has changed. This day is also on a pretty tight timeline. I have to complete the To-Do's in time to get to a Hockey game with DD#1 at 6pm. In the early a.m. I have to select all the tools I'll need for the job as well as the big items I was transporting to my mom/aunt's house. I brought my DD#1 with me so she could visit while I worked and we brought our hockey attire with us, just in case timing became critical (Just in Case :) Of course it all came down to the wire and we has to rush out of their house to make it to the game on time. I had more work to do, but rescheduled for the following Saturday. We made it to the game on time, because I AM quite a bit better about these matters.

Several times though the week I would remember that I needed to get my tools out of my DW's car, but by the time I'd get home I would never remember to do it. If it was bothering my DF, believe me she would tell me about it. So the next Saturday came around and since I never got my tools out of her car, I went to get them so I could load them in my car. When I opened her car the tools were gone. ALL of my best hand tools, probably $1000 worth. I did not panic, then looked in the garage. Maybe I forgot that I Did unload them, or my DW did because they were rattling in her car. Nope... I looked in the house. Maybe I forgot about something I worked on during the week. Nope... I asked my DW if she had seen them in her car. Nope... PANIC now... I went to a game, parked in a pay lot at night, someone slim jimmed the door and took my tools. WHAT an idiot I am for leaving them in the car, not to mention looking for them all week. $$$Total$$$ failure again. I save us money by fixing things myself. THEN I slightly Less panicky thought. Maybe I should call my mom/aunt's house and see if I ever loaded them back in the car???

NOPE... I did not load them because I was racing out of there to make it to the hockey game. This is an example of the domino affect of breaking my usual patterns. 

Happy ending, This Time...

BTW... I HATE my wallet in my back pocket too (Except for jeans), but my wallet only goes in specific places. Front pocket, Glove box (Not really good), my laptop bag, DW's purse (if we are together) or Landing Zone drawer at the house. (Where my keys go, mail, laptop bag next to this cabinet) I RARELY ever have a mishap with my psychotic regiment/rules for where things go. :) 

"When we try to interpret the

"When we try to interpret the things you do, we naturally see things the way our brains work. When we run your actions through our filters you look like lying, selfish, mean-spirited people whom we cannot trust... You see, we've known lying, selfish, mean- spirited people who were untrustworthy. That filter works with most people. It is so hard to wrap our heads around the idea that you could do these things we associate with jerks, and not be a jerk."

Waterfall, I completely agree with your assessment of his perspective.  It's funny, because in some instances, he has been the one who has pointed out that due to my porous short-term memory, I need to act, react, or anticipate differently.  He used to become infuriated when I refused to do something right away that I would many times end up forgetting later. You see, back then, I didn't want to be told what to do, hated to be bossed around (O.K., still not overly fond of the first two;)), and realized I didn't forget ALL the time, and damn it, I was going to hedge my bets that this was going to be one of those times... He no longer has to tell me to do things right away (I tell him I need to).  Sometimes, we are having a conversation, and he wants me to look him in the eye instead of taking notes in my phone to remember the conversation.  This drives me nuts, but I have agreed to it when he asks.  In exchange, he tells me he will rehash the conversation later for me to take notes, and he does, and without resentment (shockingly).   

I don't understand why he can grasp how bad my short-term memory is in some respects but can't make the leap to understand that I can't remember what I've said and that I may have contradicted myself multiple times within a given conversation.  Maybe it's because the first experience is more normal, and the latter, which involves contradiction, is what liars do when they get caught.  Sigh.

I also concur that he is putting all of that information through his filter, which is his VASTLY SUPERIOR AND HIGHLY LOGICAL frontal lobe.  I completely understand the many ways I don't make sense to him. If I did not have ADHD, I would not understand this either.  It does seem like highly sociopathic behavior.  Yet, it's not.  I hate being like this and I can't think of any "trick" to get through a conversation and not have that potentially happen.  I didn't want to keep saying, "I haven't forgotten the pen, I haven't forgotten about the pen" on loop because my brain was already taxed by what was in my hands and figuring out what to do next:  credit card and discount card in left hand, pen and tissue in right hand, purse to my right, husband seated diagonally across table.  Oh, Melissa is right! Hierarchy, hierarchy, hierarchy!  All issues surrounding executive functioning and common sense are so easy and AUTOMATIC for him.  His brain just sorts everything, remembers most everything.  Doesn't even need a grocery list, and I know plenty of organized people who do.  What makes it worse is that I am not a stupid person, and I can see how empirically simple this is.  He thinks I'm very intelligent, which makes it even more baffling to him.  If I had to write about how to proceed, I could...easily.  Alas, that is impractical in real life.  So I come across as a jerk and a liar, which makes me someone who has "NO ACCOUNTABILITY". 

The intelligence thing is

The intelligence thing is baffling to us! My husband is so smart! I often refer to him as an absent minded professor. We are guilty of thinking, and sometimes saying, how can anyone this smart be so dumb? I give him credit for going back over a conversation so that you can take notes. That is terrific. He must know you are actually a good person, or he would have moved on. We do know you are not sociopaths at some level. Our logically functioning brains just get caught up on what ought to make sense. We've relied on that method our whole lives and it usually works!


"how can anyone this smart be so dumb?" Do you know how many times I've heard that??? LOL

Many times my DW gives up on my explanation of how I got to a decision and says there is not logic. I created a spreadsheet diagramming the net effect of buying my last car. Breaking out current payments, monthly gas expense, insurance expense, immediate out of warranty repairs and compared to the new car. I used to buy cars pretty impulsively on the spot, but now I have analyzed the entire process and I beat these guys up in every point of negotiation. I drove my new car for two full days without signing a single thing, other than proof of insurance. I did not purchase the car until my DW completely agreed with my reasoning. There was NO WAY I could have explained this deal to her without her totally checking out and saying "I just want a new car".

Logic takes more than two sentences sometimes. ;)

I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a HUG!!

What a horrible experience, and this one is on your husband.  Absolutely no doubt about it.  Waterfall is also correct that sometimes our assumptions might come from just not understanding your thought process.  There was probably what seemed like a long time (to him) of waiting for you to stop looking at the things in your hands and decide what to do with them, but that is no excuse for his reaction.   I could picture myself impatiently sitting in your husband's place waiting for the pen and believing you forgot IF AND ONLY IF a lot of other things had really gone badly between my husband and I that day/week and I was just feeling disconnected in general.  Those are the times I get irritated when my husband agrees with friends to go out to a restaurant he knows I don't like without consulting me and other stupid, petty things to get mad thinking he might have forgotten to hand me a pen.  It is always because I feel disconnected because of something else. 

If we are having a week when the ADD seems to be running rampant, like we had a couple months ago when he went off meds without telling me, then EVERYTHING is an irritation.  Maybe up to and including waiting on a pen, but I would like to think I would NEVER scream over one and certainly never in front of kids.  However, our first "you are a liar" fight many years pre diagnosis was over a palm pilot screen none of us are above the stupidity entirely I guess :(  In my defense....he did lie about it to avoid getting in a fight......the most baffling thing I have ever seen an ADD mate do, but that is another discussion :)

My husband and I had one of these type of situations this week, and I think I finally understood where he was coming from though it took a WHILE to get there.  Maybe something about our situation might help you or your husband to understand the other point of view.  My husband HATES HATES HATES having a wallet in his back pocket.  I don't care where he puts his wallet as long as it is SAFE and in one place CONSISTENTLY so that he always has always in a front pocket, but instead he puts the darn thing EVERYWHERE.  He puts it in the door handles of our vehicles while he is driving and other ridiculous places and he regularly thinks he has lost it.  Every month or so we have the experience of being out somewhere--we both naturally prefer him driving for no real reason except I do a lot of things while in the car and he doesn't, but he will have to tell me that he is out without his wallet which means I have to pay for everything (all is joint funds so it isn't the money just the inconvenience) and also drive.

This happened on Thursday when we were out volunteering and I had cramps so badly I could almost not get out of bed.  I had stayed home for one day cause of cramps and I was definitely not doing it again, but I never intended to drive too!  Hubby had a idea to pick up some things we needed for the house with the truck, so we both had to drive to a town about 30 min away even after I expressed my displeasure over driving on this particular day....I had already a my car plan laid out for what I wanted to accomplish which added to my frustration about it.  He insisted on both vehicles because 'you are always telling me to handle things quickly and I don't think it is fair for you to discourage me when I try'

He had a point but it honestly made ABSOLUTELY no difference if he picked up the stuff Thursday or Friday and I hoped I'd be feeling a lot better by Friday, but he wouldn't budge.  He was gonna get it done on Thursday.  When we both get where we're going, he comes over to my car and looks in the backseat and trunk before sheepishly admitting he didn't have his wallet and he needed a card from me to pick up his stuff.  I was IMMEDIATELY mad he forgot his wallet again.  That immediate anger over him doing something AGAIN that was so frustrating colored the rest of the experience.

Then I told him I better not have to drive a volunteer group around too, and he said he would do his best to arrange it so that I wouldn't have to, BUT  there was no hope for it, so I end up driving a group around till about 3pm feeling like my gut was splitting in two most of the day.  I was FURIOUS and couldn't show it in front of anyone else cause it wasn't their fault, so as soon as hubby and I were alone for any length of time he got an earful of what I thought about his lousy memory and forgetting his wallet.  This is where it made my brain go snap, crackle, pop.......HE INSISTED HE DID NOT FORGET HIS WALLET.  ?!!?!??!?!?!?

He kept saying he remembered his wallet, but I had already pulled out in the car and he knew he put it in his bag for the meeting he'd had Wed night and thought that bag was in the car so he just followed me to the town and assumed he'd get his wallet when we met up.  Which he was proud of himself for remembering to try to do first thing when he saw me.  What he actually forgot was that he'd brought his  bag into the house and thus his wallet was in the bag at home while he thought it was in the car.  But every time the convo came up.......MANY times through the day cause we both wanted resolution but didn't have time before other ppl were coming back to the car to finish the convo......he kept insisting he hadn't forgotten his wallet.  He REMEMBERED his wallet......he just didnt have it.  I said "Do you not have it because of something you forgot?" yes  "Then in effect you forgot your wallet so hush about how you remembered."   What I wanted to focus on was how badly I felt and how this area in which he was REGULARLY forgetful compounded that unnecessarily and his focus seemed to be  entirely on his opinion that he'd remembered his wallet.  This was the part that made me my mind he was entirely passing over the more important part......his wife's feelings.....for minutia about his wallet.

By the time we dropped off our friends and were able to talk for a length of time in a row, we were not actively angry anymore which certainly helped. 

His position: He he hadn't forgotten his wallet.  He remembered his wallet, but he forgot the bag was in the house.  To him it was ENTIRELY different. 

My position: "You forgot what you did with the bag you put your wallet in (in my mind STUPIDLY put your wallet in but that went unsaid though it was probably coming through) so therefore you forgot your wallet".  I wanted to talk about how he made me feel by forcing me to drive around while feeling like crap.........I did NOT want to talk about that darn wallet for one more second. 

I told him I was hurt because "You inconvenienced me the ENTIRE day because you forgot your wallet and really never expressed to me that you understood how much pain and inconvenience that caused.  You said "I'm sorry" but never really expressed what it was for and showed me that you understood how I felt."


His response...I kid you not...."Baby, I am sorry you are in pain and I did tell you I was sorry that I made it worse, but I did NOT forget my wallet."  I mean REALLY?!?!  We were back to the wallet......but this time I put my feelings aside long enough to really get this was IMPORTANT to him even if I didn't understand why. 

So I took a deep breath and asked not in a tone of anger this time, but practically laughing because it was such a comedy at this point "Do you have your wallet?" 

He laughed back at me "No, I do not have my wallet".   I swear as soon as I started laughing about it, he was immediately relaxed like he knew this time was going to resolve it.  He almost can't function when I am mad for some reason.  His reasoning comes out all jumbled.

I said "Ok, is the reason you don't have your wallet because you forgot what you did with it?" 

He said very intently, "NO, I remembered exactly what I did with it and where it was.  I forgot that I brought the bag it was in into the house"

Me "Ok babe, so you do not have your wallet, and you do not have your wallet because you forgot something about where it was.  I DO NOT understand why you are making this all about how you remembered your wallet.  If you don't HAVE it why would it matter what you did and didn't remember if you didn't remember sufficient information to HAVE the wallet with you today?"  That is the only part that matters.

I was stunned by his response........he said "Forgetting my wallet is irresponsible.  I remembered my wallet.  I remembered that I needed to have it to pick up the stuff for the house repair.  I remembered where I put it Wednesday night, and I was sure I could get it once I met up with you.  The part I didn't remember was that the BAG wasn't where I thought it was, but I knew my wallet was in there and that I needed it.  I was NOT being irresponsible.  I just forgot bringing it into the house which is ENTIRELY different from forgetting my wallet."

Would I ever have made such a big deal about what to me is a small distinction?  No.  But I have a good memory and I very infrequently forget things and when I do, I am never accused of being irresponsible.  I can forget without it being a sign of how little I care about x, y, and z. I think for the first time I realized how much EMOTION for both partners is tied up in the act of forgetting something any of us might forget if only because of the sheer NUMBER of times it happens and the fact that it often happens when a person is doing something the partner has asked him not to do like being so careless with the places into which he tucks his wallet.

Forgetting is fraught with so much emotion that sometimes it is hard to see the other viewpoint.  He was sorry I was in pain, but he couldn't get out of the tunnel of making sure I realized he didn't inconvenience me out of irresponsibility. 


Ok sorry about the tangent ADDmomof2, what I was trying to say in a very longwinded way, is that the emotion you and your husband have and have built up for years surrounding the way you think, organize, forget, etc keeps you from seeing the other person's viewpoint all too often.  In the beginning of his treatment, my husband also felt he wasn't getting credit for all the things he did well, cause there was still so much '*stuff* surrounding all the things he did poorly.  The more you tackle those things and get them under control, the more he will HOPEFULLY see all the good you are trying to accomplish and stop thinking that you should be doing it all his way.

However he owes you a great big apology and a dozen roses for his recent jerkdom!


I think I've had this

I think I've had this conversation with my own husband in one way or another. It's enough to make you want to smack your forehead full force with an ax;)

Oh, I had my husband read

Oh, I had my husband read this, and he totally understands where your husband was coming from. We really had a good laugh!

Aspen, Thank you for


Thank you for taking the time to tell me your story.  I completely understand why you were so upset.  You felt like crap in a way your DH can't physically empathize, you were tired of driving all the time, and he insisted on doing it his way because he had some ADHD hyperfocus logic-be-damned-because-it-has-to-be-done-NOWWWWW "emergency."  You had planned out what you were going to do in the car and were disappointed not to be able to do that.  I like to get things done while my husband drives as well.  I would also be annoyed.  Plus, your feelings were hurt that he wasn't taking care of you and understanding your needs.  Finally, as a result of the fact he doesn't put his wallet in a consistent location, it was once again unavailable for usage.  

I can completely 1000% identify with your husband's logic as well.  I mean TOTALLY.  Honestly, it's shameful the degree to which I understand his thought process.  Ugh.  I think the distinction he was trying to make was that he didn't neglect to bring his wallet THOUGHTLESSLY.  He WAS TRYING to plan ahead, something which is very difficult for us ADHDers to do consistently well (clearly ;)!).  He wanted you to understand that he was TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING THE RIGHT WAY.  Now, it is evident that the end result was that you were just as inconvenienced as you've been many times before by his inconsistency with his wallet.  He seemed to be so focused on what DID remember, I doubt he even saw the big picture, the many ways he hurt you, the past, and how his bad habit contributed to this situation.  I'm willing to bet on it.  

You're right; there is a lot of emotion tied up these type of interactions due to the fact they keep happening ad nauseam.  In our case, I don't think our interactions will ever get any better. Why?  He doesn't want them to... I've discussed this with my therapist quite a bit.  He's just not willing to forgive me...he's always been someone who holds on to his resentments, not just with me.  His parents' divorce and his father working in another country for years really affected his ability to trust and love.  Add to that the woman he married has ADHD and all the crap that goes with that, and it was enough to send him over the edge. That's all my fault.  I didn't know it, couldn't see it, was too proud to acknowledge it, but it's true.  His resentments are so deep he can't see me for who I am all.  I see a man struggling between the man he wants to be and the angry man he is.  He doesn't want to let go of his anger.  He doesn't want to forgive me.  He doesn't even want to love me...  I've been working hard on my marriage for two solid years.  No, it doesn't make up for the last 17 years of our relationship. But I'm not a bad person.  There are so many spouses out there who are trying to save their relationship and are trying to forgive.  Husbands and wives whose spouses have lost jobs as a result of their untreated ADHD, cheated, gambled compulsively, drink excessively, do drugs or have a sex addiction...  I've never had any of those issues. Oh, and let's not forget that I am NOT a liar, compulsive or otherwise... What's especially sad to me is that we have such potential to get along and have a great relationship.  Still, I have been laboring in vain.  I'll keep trying, but to be a good role model for my children and a good person.  I'm very sad tonight.

Your  husband is lucky to have you, Aspen.  I hope he appreciates you.

What i take away from this story....

Is that the non-ADD partner has to bear the consequences of her spouse's ADD. She had to drive when she didn't feel well because he forgot his wallet (however that happened). If he'd had to drive with stomach flu (closest I can think of for a guy) because she made a mistake he'd have probably been furious.

I am struggling with this very issue. My husband can't find his wallet and we need the debit card in it to withdraw money to pay the rent. I am freaking out, he's asleep! Of course, he wants me to help him find it, so I get to spend a whole day beating my head against the ADD wall.


Another VERY similar description of husband and me

After your Part I post, I had to check this one out. I am going to print it and all the comments so I can read through everything, but first reply from Waterfall describes exactly what he says & feels.


What an organized thought.

I am a woman with ADHD.  I can completely relate.  My thoughts are so scattered that I am not able to respond to your posting.  I just wanted you to know that, regardless of what others say, I thought that your wrote a very well organized posting.  I could never do that!  This might mean nothing to you but wanted you to know that I completely only if our husbands could jump inside our brain and understand too!