Best way to initiate a serious discussion?

What is the best way to get through to an ADHDer if trying to convey that there are really serious issues that need to be addressed?  Is face-to-face better, or is it more effective in written form (a letter printed out and handed to them, not email) to give them a chance to sort through emotions/defensiveness/impulsiveness before having to respond?

None of the issues are new; we've discussed them several times but there hasn't been any lasting change.  As I prepare to go home from my deployment, I'm establishing better boundaries than I had before I left.  I want him to know that I want to rebuild our marriage, but that it will take hard work from both of us, and there are things that MUST change to keep our marriage alive.

I'm not planning on having this discussion or delivering the letter until after I get home in a few weeks.  From past experience I know that addressing it from afar isn't the best course of action.

Any advice (from ADHDers and non's)?


Is it possible to ask which he prefers?

I know that seems overly simplistic, but can you say "I want to discuss something with you - would it be better to talk about it or should I write it down?" - I realize that might put him on notice so he might have a spike in anxiety (if he has anxiety) but it could be a better conversation if you give him a little control of how he gets the info.  If you give it to him in writing, it might go into the black hole of avoidance and then you have to pursue him to get any response. But if you give it to him in writing, then you could agree that you would sit down and talk about it the next day or in an hour or whatever might work.


I don't really know how to ask without setting off his defenses.  He hates if I say anything remotely similar to "I want to talk."  He has always immediately assumed I was going to berate him (even when there was nothing wrong and our relationship was still new and going well) and would hyper-focus on it until we talked.  Even if the talk was right then and about something innocuous, he would still shut down.  Is there a better way to ask without setting off the defenses?  He isn't verbally abusive (thankfully), but just shuts down.

You're probably going to need

You're probably going to need professional help with this issue. I have the exact same issue with my husband and the only time we seem to break through his "surely she's going to attack me so I'm putting on full battle armor" mode was with the help of a 3rd party. Also, if he would worry/obsess over it until you had the talk, then don't mention it. My husband is the same way...he insists I tell him what is wrong, but then shuts down when I do.

It takes a lot of practice...and a lot of patience...but we have recently had 2 conversations where I FEEL he is hearing me...and I don't hammer home my point I just make it in a very clear and broken down way and it seems to be helping. If there is anyway you can come up with what you feel are good compromises to the issues that remain unresolved, that might be a good place to start. Don't ask for everything you want, but don't give him everything he wants either. Be fair, is what I'm saying. I use the argument "agree to disagree" a lot and am trying very, very hard to make him understand that because he FEELS a certain way about something does not make it true. It might be very true for him, in his reality, but it isn't the truth for others much of the time. His feeling attacked by you, no matter how benign the topic, is very real to him. He needs to have someone whose motives he does not question be present to help him understand what you're saying. If you try and talk to him and he shuts down, feels attacked, then just tell him "I can see that you're feeling attacked and I don't want this conversation to go in that we will try again later" and then just let it go. Don't be mad or frustrated with him...but reassure him that you're not trying to attack him by walking away before he completely shuts down and asking him again at a later time if you could try and address the issue again. Ask him what he feels would be a fair compromise. Get him involved. Let him know that you're not out to take his last breath, you just want something you can both be happy with.