The Boy Who Cried Wolf....and What to Do About?

I decided to make a new topic based on some things I've read here and a common complaint made by the spouses married to (us) with ADHD.  Straight up....the complaint is about how annoying or maybe aggravating it is when your spouse habitually comes to you and says " look, see what I did".  It was brought up recently in another post as: "See the progress I'm making."

I've been in this very situation before in the past and at the time.....hadn't given any thought to exactly "why" I was doing it.  And my experience from the other side was the same as I have heard here on this forum.  I've speculated for myself in a post months ago that it was more of an attempt to "release us" from obligation rather than appearing more child like as "mommy. look what I did."....seeking approval and validation.  That's my take on how it comes across from the responses I've read in refernce to this phenomenon.  I'm calling this a phenomenon simply because it appears to be a common scenario.

I wanted to share a recent case in point and the results of this as my wife and I actually seemed to come to an understanding of it.

Cutting right to the has to do with trust and that's exactly what my wife and I concluded.

From this perspective I think it becomes much clearer to understand from both sides of the coin.

I want to say's very likely  this can come from insecurity and a need for validation in part.....but I have long since stopped doing it that way even if I had done this before for that reason.....and yet, here I was having having that "de ja vu feeling" all over again but this time feeling frustrated and somewhat put out. 

I decided to approach my wife on the subject the next time she brought it up ( whcih she did) feeling that I was approaching this on much firmer ground on my part.

Here's what happened. 

No will would argue for a second that one of my big ADHD issues is getting spread out all over the place with my projects and I can't deny this fact.  I'm also not good with cleaning up after myself since projects do take place over time and I do have multiple ones going too.  This will appear as no surprise for someone with ADHD.  AT best, I'm reasonably clean and organized.  At worst, it can look like a bomb went off in the house.  These are undeniable facts.

I'm now focusing hard on this problem area and am a making some big step forward ie: developing new habits and strategies to overcome this problem and I appear to making progress.  My wife will concur and has said so much more often because of it.  I don't need validation.  My reward is my own progress and it's already being confirmed.

So the other day...I'm using a back pack blower to clean and tidy up our deck since I made a huge mess by blowing off the roof and gutters of our house. We have large Douglas fir and cedar trees in close proximity so it piles up really fast.  By doing this......snall amount of debris find it's way under the back door and into a room off the deck.  Small amounts compared to outside but large in relation to anything acceptable indoors.  I've done this recently a few times after which I've followed through with sweeping the floor inside so when my wife comes home from looks the same as when she left.....clean and swept.

But this time ( the day in question) wife came home early from work.  I was still outside finishing the deck area.  She immediately went straight for the broom and dust pan and started sweeping an I could tell that she was mad. 

"Problem?" I said. 

"Yes, every time you use that thing this happens." 

"What are talking about?" I replied.

"Two weeks ago you used it and I had to clean up after you too."

I did remembered that day and remembered that I had worked until dark and didn't sweep before she got home.

But here's the part she didn't know about. I've made an extra effort to make sure that whatever I've been doing during the day while she is at work,I've also successfully kept track of time and quit early enough to clean up before she arrived home.  I've done this for nearly six weeks without a complaint (including using the blower and sweeping the floor afterwards several times more) since......she'd had nothing to complain about because the house was exactly the same as it was when she left in the morning.

So on this day, she arrived home 2 hours early unexpected and I was still in the process of working and the results was as I just explained

I'll fast forward to the results but say that I started this situation with becoming angry but stopped myself when I realized something.

I'm the boy who cried wolf and she has no idea how many times I've messed up the house and then cleaned up before she arrived.  There's no proof or evidence that I did anything at all let alone make a mess and then clean it up too.  All she could see was the clean house which proves only that I didn't make a mess....

but yet I did. repeatedly......

and that's why of course,  I started to get angry........

But my past and my ADHD tendencies also gave her good reason to make that assumption based on my past.

The end result was that I explained why I started to get angry or frustrated with her response to me and apologized for starting to go there because I saw that I really am the "boy who cried wolf."  And after we talked this over for a while, we both saw the dilemma in this scenario which from all sides could easily be seen in this one situation.

But whether she realized this or not.....this kind of thing happens from my perspective more often than she realizes and the dilemma is still exactly the same.

How does the boy who cried wolf ever become the boy who doesn't cry wolf once you have that distinction?  the tendency is to point out to your spouse the times you succeed...... to point out the progress you are making because if you don't ( in cases like this one).  Your spouse will never know?

In part....the reason why this happened as it did was because I wasn't saying anything or pointing these things out to her because I already know from experience ( and from this forum) that doing this becomes annoying and makes you look insecure and in need of validation which only perpetuates and exacerbates the problem.

My final conclusion to this is that these negative attributes of ADHD really do erode trust.. but trust is exactly what is needed in order for you to more forward and past the problems.

My success in this was accepting my wife's reaction long enough to stop getting angry and see both sides so I could get us to see the dilemma instead of only seeing it as one persons problem or the others.  That was the first step in regaining trust on my part.