ADHD and Processing, Part 1: Difficulty Answering Questions Quickly and Directly

My husband is a bottom-line kind of guy.  Highly logical in most matters, gets to the point, great executive functioning.  He understands some of my issues better than most as concerns my ADHD.  There are some issues, however, where he could not possibly understand me less.  My difficulty in answering questions directly when he asks a “simple Yes-or-No question” causes him great aggravation.  He considers my “refusal” to heed his request that I answer yes or no immediately as a sign of disrespect and that I don’t listen to him.  I understand that this circumlocution that I go through is annoying. Both my ADHD Mom and ADHD son do the same thing and I want them to get to the point, too.  I have made progress in a related area, which is answering when he speaks to me.  I used to have a great difficulty initiating a verbal response when he would ask a question, either when it was the first words of a conversation, or when my attention was elsewhere.   It would take me a long time to process, and it didn’t occur to me that I should perhaps not leave him hanging until he snapped at me for being rude, because at the moment I was engaged trying to formulate the thoughts to answer him.  I now answer more quickly, but truth be told, there are many times when I am simultaneously trying to process what the answer actually is WHILE I am trying to answer it.  This makes it difficult to answer yes or no because I have to navigate to the answer.  My short-term memory is poor, so recalling that type of information and ensuring that my memories are not just “memories” that my brain created, is not easy for me.  I am realizing while I write this that by curing one problem I have created another.   Now the process that used to take place quietly in my head is happening out loud.  Sigh. 

I’ve told both my husband and my therapist that when a question is asked and I am experiencing that difficulty, I can visualize a path I have to go through to get to the answer, sometimes even when I THINK I know what the answer is.  My therapist understands this, but my non-ADHD husband thinks I am refusing to take responsibility.  Part of it is that I’m trying to remember what happened, if, for example he asked me if I completed a task.  I want to be sure I am correct, so I talk it through to be sure.  Also, I might think I know what the answer is when I start to answer, but once I start meandering through that path, I might recall other things that affect my answer.  I won’t know unless I go through that process.

The above-mentioned therapist not only has great expertise in ADHD; she also really “gets” me.  She says this challenge is a processing issue for me.  I am working on it, but it is very difficult and I don’t know how much is controllable with practice.  Tonight, he asked me whether or not I knew where an invitation to a party was because he wanted the address.  I was trying to process whether or not I even knew where it was, whether I moved it, whether I might have accidentally thrown it out, whether it was in my office, on the coffee table, side of the fridge, and so on.  Essentially, my brain was searching while I was talking.  I answered “No” after 2 sentences of explanation.  That is not a lot for me.  It was an EFFORT to whittle it down to 2 sentences that quickly.  I’m not kidding.  I don’t even know how I did it.  He’s still mad at me and doesn’t want to hear my explanation. He thinks it’s an excuse.  Why would I continue to do this if it was easy to correct?  What am I possibly getting out of this???


Has anyone had similar experiences and/or successfully resolved this issue?  I do feel that part of this issue is my husband's own impatience, not just with me, but in general.  Still, it is important to him, and I want him to understand that for that alone, it is important to me.