Ms. CrankyPants here.
I keep reading and re-reading Orlov's book, and I'm still wrapping my mind around a lot of the concepts. I feel like I'm beginning to understand how non-hierarchical thinking (my spouse) has really caused a pattern for us in terms of me having to take over a lot of the responsibilities and the resulting anger and resentment that I have. Moreover, the constant state of exhaustion I am in, and the chronic anxiety and worry that something is not going to get done, or that I can't trust that deadlines and miscellaneous stuff won't be met. Also, I can see how his lack of attention has made me feel isolated and terrible, and that even though I am so lonely because he pays no attention to me (comes home from work, goes in his office to play video games until he's ready for bed), it's not PERSONAL or ABOUT ME.
Okay, I get that. It still sucks. But I get that. And I get that just talking to him about it does absolutely nothing. Well, I already knew that because we've been married 11 years, and he's literally stopped paying attention to me as soon as we were married. No special occasions, no "date night," no thoughtful gestures. No amount of discussion has ever changed anything. So I guess, that's not going to happen.
I feel like the book is helpful in understanding WHY these things are happening, but also ...I sometimes do not understand the writer's point of view. She really downplays her husband's verbal abuse or tantrums and totally focuses on the non-ADHD partner being verbally abusive. As I've said in other posts, I am the non-ADHD partner and I don't engage in cursing or demeaning comments on the reg, but my husband cannot go through any "talks" without cursing or saying horrible things about me, having tantrums, or just constantly blaming me for his behavior--he often makes his behavior and his feelings one and the same, as if he doesn't have a choice over his own actions, or the "cause" of his behaviors is something I said.
I don't accept that. I don't accept that his language and behaviors are "caused" by something I say. I guess I'm having a hard time with some of the things in the book because it seems like she is saying that her behavior is the root. For example, she talks about her husband having an affair, and how that made her realize she needed to be someone other than the angry person that she was. Literally nothing about that huge transgression, or if he had to win her trust back, or even that it was wrong for him to do that. Seriously? He's cheating, and so you think about ways to be the person he can fall in love with again? That's it? I'm not saying that she shouldn't have changed, but again, this book is written as if the non-ADHD spouse has the majority of the problem. Okay, I guess that's her life, and her choice, but I really am having a problem with this idea that even adultery on the part of the ADHD spouse is more about the non-ADHD spouse.
That I know of, my husband has never had an affair. He's certainly lied to me so much that I can't believe him most of the time, but about financial things, taking his meds, or graduate school stuff. He was in a PhD program, and at the end of the day, he didn't finish and he invented this whole scenario of extenuating circumstances about not being able to defend his dissertation, which I only discovered months afterwards. It was so embarrassing, as I had completely fallen for that lie and explained it to my whole family that way, only to have egg on my face about it later. I had already tried to go to marriage counseling with him prior to that happening, and literally all he did was lie in the sessions. Our counselor suggested that he implement certain ideas to re-establish trust, and he raged and raged about how the counselor and I were just "trying to own and disrespect him." So, obviously, he did not do the suggestion. He also told me that he had lied in the session because he didn't want to be seen as the bad one in front of the counselor. No one (not me, anyway) tells him he is a bad person or that he's "the bad one" but he will not stop framing any discussion that way. Someone has to be the bad one or it's only one person's fault, so either I'm trying to make it his fault and I have "none" OR it's my fault and he's the victim. I honestly cannot understand how someone as intelligent as I know he is can believe that this is the way conflicts are resolved, or even that everything can only be one person's fault, or even that there is a huge distinction between "a conflict" and just ascribing total blame or making value judgments about the people in the conflict. I have tried to get him to understand this, but he just goes back to that frame every time. It's exhausting.
What I'm saying is, yes, I want things to change, and yes, I hope that I am open-minded enough to make those changes within myself. But my husband has such a deep and abiding just...intransigence. When he is angry, nothing will reach him. Even if he has agreed to try "de-escalating" tactics, he will NOT do them. He will not stop the behaviors. I've even started doing this thing where I say "okay, I see that you are angry and we can talk about this later" and ending the discussion, indicating that I really care about what his concern is and I will listen to it and engage it if he will tell me about it calmly. If I do that he will not speak to me for days--this time it's been literally nine days--until I come back to the "discussion." At which time, he will still curse and scream and say horrible things about me. And, we cannot discuss any other thing until he gets to do that. Nothing. Not "friendly" discussion, not household discussion. Nothing. He describes it as "me engaging his issues" but what actually happens is that he tells me what I did or said in some really inaccurate way, and literally will not hear anything different. Even to the point of telling me what I was thinking, why I did it, and how horrible of a person I am.
According to the book, I need to stop trying to control the ADHD spouse's behavior. So, I guess all things being equal, I could just not engage until he gets tired of not talking to me (never, as he has NEVER ONCE backed down from the silent treatment), and just never talk to him again. However, I recently got a job at a university in another state. As the semester is winding down, I need to get out there and find housing. During this most recent "silent treatment" I tried to remind him that we need to get our plans going. He refused to deal with it, even knowing that I need to buy tickets (now a ticket) to go there and look for a place to live. I've tried for three months to get him to participate in the plan to move, and honestly, even when he isn't angry and shutting me out, he's bored with anything related to it and just wants to leave and play his video games.
So...I don't know how this is supposed to work. I understand that I can't take responsibility for everything in the move, and it's stressful to be the sole responsible non-ADHD person. (I'm not saying that the ADHD spouse just is inherently not responsible; I'm saying his point of view is that he has ADHD and I don't so, "it's unfair, but you're better at these things than I am, so that's why you are the one to do them." He has literally said that to me so many times.) I get that I am not supposed to control him or engage him when he's doing the silent treatment or whatever. But I literally have no time to wait for him to be done with his behaviors. So I guess I should just move there on my own and he should...? Get there somehow? Not to come with me because I didn't make all his plans for him? I mean, I just don't know.