Can't he just make the phone call?

My ADD husband and I have had a very rock relationship for a few years now. In the past, I've been the one to arrange for us to see therapists to try and work on our marriage. A few months ago I told him that it was now his turn to set up an appointment for us to get some counseling -- that I wasn't going to be responsible for it again. He promised me that he would, but nothing has happened. I've brought it up several times, but he has always responded that he doesn't have any time to make calls or that he is too busy with work right now. I've reiterated that if he wants our relationship to get on track that he will need to take this step. A few days ago I broke down (again) because he told me he shouldn't have to be the one to arrange the counseling -- that I didn't understand how hard it is to be him. He really snapped at me and became angry that I would even ask him about something that he had promised me to do. Not sure where to go from here. Of course I could make the call and set up the appointment myself. But what is the point of me dragging him to another round of therapy if he isn't invested enough to make a phone call? I know it's hard for him. Things are hard. But how can I make him take a significant step toward getting us on track?

Inaction is an action

Is he being treated for ADHD. Been diagnosed? ADHD will throw more compelling or easier tasks in his path to distract him. Finding a dr actually isn't all that easy for the ADHD brain. One has to use executive function to find a dr who is taking patients, covered by insurance, gets good feedback, and works w ADHD. Then make the appt. Several steps can make it overwhelming to the unmanaged ADHD brain.  Very easy to just follow the next shiny object to come along. You could compromise and find the dr, and ask him to make the actual call within a certain time frame.  If he agrees, then fails to meet the deadline, you will know he isn't adequately motivated to save the marriage to do the work it will require. Try using I statements like "I need you to show me that you want to pursue relationship improvement and making that appt will provide that." Good luck.


Thanks for your reply, ShelleyNW -- I appreciate the suggestion. Yes, my husband has been diagnosed with ADD and is receiving some treatment (medication only). He actually has the names and phone numbers of a couple marriage therapists written down on a piece of paper that I've seen. He just can't seem to make himself call them. But I hadn't thought to set a deadline for him to make the call, since deadlines tend to cause more frustration/anxiety on his part. Am I wrong to keep holding out on this one task? I just feel like I need to see him take a step -- a hard one, I will grant him that -- toward getting us some support for our troubles. I'm weary of being the one who most often has to do all these type of tasks on my own.

No wrong or right

You aren't wrong to hold out on the task. But you should probably think about the big picture. Who benefits from the hold out? Not the relationship. Not your spouse. Not you. Seems to me the point is to get a good counselor who can help you two get to a better place. How you get to the counselor is a tertiary issue. And then once at the counselor you can address this issue, and others.  Your weariness is perfectly valid, but be careful not to let principles get in the way of success.


Do you know for sure that he hasn't called the people on the list?

It could be that he has called one or some of them and was a) Put off or intimidated by whoever answered the phone or b) Left a voicemail, but feels dumb calling again....

just sayin'

Ah, phone calls!

I can attest that making appointments is extremely difficult for an ADDer. Be it making a dentist appointment, doctor appt for the kids or calling the insurance company to straighten out a bill. there are varying levels of anxiety produced by different types of calls:  appointment for the kids is relatively low stress, however a call to the insurance company - where one is already feeling defensive - is quite stressful. Finding a doctor or therapist who is knowledgable about ADHD, is taking new patients and who also takes your insurance is the equivalent of a fish trying to climb a tree.

I have just gone through this process and here are the roadblocks I ran into:

1) while signing up online for my insurance carriers online list of doctors etc. I was directed to the 'mental health and addiction' section. the page was divided in many different sections with lots of different colors and I couldn't figure out what to click on because there was nothing saying ADD or Cognitive Therapy or anything that i would recognize as something I was trying to find.

2) I gave up on the web links after 45 minutes of trying to get to a list of doctors not dealing with substance abuse (during these 45 minutes I was interrupted approximately 20 times by my kids wanting one thing or another)

3) I called my insurance carrier's general number and after pressing different numbers for different menus I finally got a human on the phone and asked about how to find a psychiatrist/behavioral therapist/ADD specialist. She told me she had to get all my info, then asked me all kinds of questions about addictions, drug abuse, obesity and smoking. I explained 3 or 4 times that I didn't want to lose weight, quit smoking or detox from any addiction. Then got worried that the mere fact that someone was ASKING about addiction/abuse etc. was somehow going to show up on my records and screw up my credit score or increase my insurance payments somehow.... paranoid? maybe, but stranger things have happened.

4)I finally got to a list of names and numbers and descriptions of psychiatrists and found a handful that mentioned that they treat ADHD kids and adults. I called one that seemed to be the most promising and made an appointment, wrote down all the info I needed to bring with me... She wanted me to make a copy of my insurance card ahead of time (so that she wouldn't have to - one of the many things that private practice psychotherapists require). I was proud of myself for getting all this stuff together... til I realized I'd left my insurance card in the machine at the copy place...

5) When I met with the doctor, she said she needed my records, I thought i'd squared that away (i'd filled out the release forms at my doctor's office - again, I was pleased with myself for following through on that). but... she claimed they were never sent and used up half my appointment on the phone with my doctor's office. Then decided that I needed to do all the bloodwork again because the tests i'd had were 6 months old. Also, when I told her that my current doctor had me on 50-60 mg of Adderall per day she said that it 'couldn't be possible.' I felt attacked because I didn't know if  she was accusing me of lying or thought maybe I was taking some and selling the rest to college kids or something... So I came away from it very depressed and overwhelmed with an icky feeling.

So, it's not surprising (to me) that your DH is having trouble getting on the ball with researching/calling a counselor. When you first made the ultimatum, he may have honestly believed he could do it and no doubt still means to. But at the same time, after trying and getting overwhelmed, he probably feels like you are taunting him - like kid on the playground who is let's say, really good at double-dutch jump rope. One day the kid says, "betcha can't do this!!!" and then "HEY, If you DON'T do it, we're not gonna let you play with us anymore!!" Then every recess period the kid says, "SO - let's see you do this! Why can't you? What the matter?? LOSERRRRR!"

Silly? Yes. But that's what it feels like. I'm so not surprised that in the end he is asking why you don't do it yourself. Should he do it? Yes, of course he should because he promised to. But I know what he's going through and it's not just a matter of him sitting there one day with the phone in his hand and the number dialed then suddenly thinking, "You know what? screw her! I'm NOT making this phone call!"

I think the only way i'm able to force myself to make unpleasant phone calls is because I worked for 6 years as a secretary and HAD to make lots of phone calls every day and got used to having that uncomfortable feeling all day.

I'm not saying it makes any sense. I just want you to know that your logic (while working in the real world) doesn't apply here. It's telling you "He's not making the call. Therefore, he doesn't care about us." when in reality he is not making the call because he is mentally paralyzed and overwhelmed and does not even know how to begin to research. He can know what the steps are, and start doing them, but then get an icky feeling along the way that could derail the whole process.

silly? yes. but there you are.

sorry I have no solution... good luck



I appreciate your description

I appreciate your description of your experience and thought processes. But I hate  making phone calls, too.  However, I do it anyway, because someone has to.  I resent that all the yucky, time-consuming, anxiety-provoking tasks get foisted onto me because my husband has ADHD.  

I hate making phone calls as well

I have to think through what I'm going to say when the person at the other end picks up or I'll trip over my own name! lol

I don't have ADD, but I do get anxious on the phone. I much prefer email. But when I must make a call, I just try to do it as fast as possible so it's over as quick as possible. And it's true - some calls are easier than others. Making a dentist appointment for the kids - easy. Ringing the tax department - WAY harder.

The description above about the thought processes that make it so hard to complete the task of making a call - I do get and I do sympathize with. I think though, the point of the original question on this thread, if I'm reading correctly, is that the wife just wanted to see her husband show some independent interest in getting counseling going again. To indicate some level of commitment and desire to make it work. If the husband had shown some focus on the task, even if he hadn't actually completed it, might go a long way to making her feel like investing more effort on her own part was justified.

Yes, that would be logical. We can't do logical...

"If the husband had shown some focus on the task, even if he hadn't actually completed it, might go a long way to making her feel like investing more effort on her own part was justified."

Yep. I get it. but, for us it can be like apples and aardvarks. An ADDer could be desperate to reconnect with his spouse but fail to recognize that the one simple action she requested is the test by which she will decide to confirm his love or dismiss his feelings and/or any of his actions or words as completely false. It has taken me YEARS to figure out how to prioritize actions which effect my husband and I still get it wrong half the time.

Case in point: I was visiting my dad in the hospital in another state. by car was hit while parked and I had to spend an extra day away from home. I drove home and arrived on his birthday. I'd had some special antique pictures framed for him (having to do with his area of study) and while out of town made fondant icing for his birthday cake because I wouldn't have time once I got home and I packed it up in a cooler so it wouldn't get melted & sticky for the trip home. I arrived home and began baking the cake, ran out to pick up the framed pictures and his favorite beer and then came home and started cooking dinner. He was acting cold and angry and was totally silent. I timidly approached him and asked if he'd like dinner at 7:00. He replied sarcastically, "No! I'd like my wife to say 'Happy Birthday' dammit!"

Now... in the past I would've felt terrible, and felt like I'd completely ruined his birthday by forgetting to SAY happy birthday upon my arrival home. I may have even thrown the cake in the garbage. But instead I said, "Oh! Sorry! We were waiting until it was time to SING happy birthday to you when we presented you with the cake I've been working on for two days and the present I ordered two weeks ago. What's the matter? You thought I FORGOT, didn't you? So you decided you were going to see how long it would take for me to SAY happy birthday and with every passing minute you would be more indignant? You tried to set a little trap, eh?? You really didn't smell the cake baking?" (this speech by the way was delivered very melodramatically with both daughters hopping up and down and giggling next to me).  So that diffused the tension and we had a nice evening after that instead of him being cranky and distant for God knows how long.

Also, to expand the playground metaphor (bear with me!) it's kind of like when you are sitting in the cafeteria and the kid with the jump rope comes up to you when your sitting with your friends and you say that" of COURSE I can double-dutch jump-rope!" (thinking to yourself... 'well... I bet I could if I go home and practice after school for a few weeks... how hard could it be...?') but then when you get outside to the playground you freeze and make an idiot of yourself.

(Did that make ANY sense??)

BTW- My husband refuses to make ANY phone calls. He doesn't have ADD. But he will tolerate all kinds of inconvenience just to avoid making a phone call and talking to a stranger/bureaucrat. He'd rather take the chance that I make the call and totally screw something up or misunderstand, miscommunicate or  otherwise screw up royally. I deal with any bill problems. I call and make appointments for the entire family. I argue with the insurance company and appliance manufacturers, etc. etc....

Maybe ask him to sit down WITH you and you guys pick out a therapist on the list together? I dunno. My DH hates to have any kind of discussion and any time I ask him if he can give me 15 minutes to a half hour to talk to me he gets annoyed. It's been a little better though, because I'm getting better at translating gut-feelings into actual words, which I pretty much have never been able to do before. (stay tuned for more on that in the 'Progress' section!)

I'm starting to wonder if the

I'm starting to wonder if the resistance to making phone calls is more a male/ female thing than an ADD/ ADHD thing ;)

It sounds to me ellameno that you make lots of effort that shows you care about you relationship and your husband. I wouldn't have felt snippy about my husband forgetting to wish me happy Birthday while he was preparing food/ cake etc FOR my Birthday.

And yes, your post made complete sense to me. :)

Thanks a heap for you explanation. It occurs to me that men in general aren't all that great at talking about how they are feeling - throw in ADD/ADHD and we're in big trouble. I really appreciate the men and women on this site who have a go at explaining to the spouses without ADD/ADHD what it's like for those with it. Speaking for myself - but I think probably plenty of others too - I really need to understand why my husband can't do/ won't do things that are so obviously necessary. I try to put myself in his shoes, but I can only do that so much without good information. So-  thanks again.

Phone call made (well, sort of)!

Thanks to everyone who has given me some advice and things to think about over the past several days. I wanted to give an update on the status of "the dreaded phone call". The evening of our fight, it seems that my husband fired off an email to one of the potential therapists (I don't know if he had to look it up or if he already had it with the phone number) and copied me on the message. He had listed both of our contact details and phone numbers (since he can't easily be reached when he's working), so I got a phone call at my office from the therapist a couple days ago and we talked for a bit and then set a date for our first appointment about 2 weeks from now. So at least its done.

It may be that men in general dislike making phone calls more than women, I don't know. But I also really don't like doing it, but know it is part of life. This past week I've had to make calls to make an appointment for our daughter at the pediatrician, talk to our insurance company about an auto accident, arrange for the babysitter to come twice, etc. None of it was fun. I really didn't want to make any of those calls. And this is just how it usually goes for us -- I usually have to make all the appointments and follow up on all the little threads of our lives. Heck, I was the one who researched, called, and arranged for him to see his OCD therapist back when we were dating. I know it is challenging for him to follow through on these details, but I am one person trying to manage these details for 3 people while also holding down a full-time job. (Sorry -- I think that was a bit of a rant from me-- I'm trying to keep it together, but it breaks through now and then).

Anyway, I'm crossing my fingers that this round of therapy will help us progress in our relationship. We just go round and round in circles. And I'm very dizzy!