Chronic Misunderstandings...he has different meanings for certain words?

My fiance & I had quite a weekend of misunderstandings. It ruined the possibility of spending time together, twice. Part of the problem is that he very often forgets about plans that we've made, or forgets the time we decided on meeting & then doesn't manage his time well beforehand to make sure things go as scheduled & so we end up having much LESS time together. Or, thinks we didn't even MAKE plans at all. This frustrates me because we had talked about what we would be doing later that day, but he completely spaces it. He says things like "it wasn't clear to me that we were actually doing something. I didn't think they were solid plans." My question is, "Why do we say we're going to meet around such & such a time if we're not???" Another issue is that certain words seem to have different meanings to him than to the rest of the world. For example, the word "get." When he asked me if I was coming back to his house after work on Saturday afternoon, I said, "Yes, but I will need to go home & 'get' my boys first." (We both have children). He took this as meaning that I was not coming over, but that I was going to have to stay home with them. (?) When I contacted him later that we were on our way & he answered me that he & HIS boys were already busy doing something & we couldn't come over, needless to say I was surprised & dismayed. In my confusion, I reminded him about our conversation that I was coming back after I went to "get" my boys. He told me that when he says that he has to "get" his boys, he means that he has to spend time with them. *Sigh* I responded, "Well, yes. But that's because you go 'get' them @ school or @ their mom's & then BRING them to your house to be with them. I had to go "get" my boys at my house to BRING them back to YOUR house with ME." (FYI, my boys are old enough to stay home alone for a few hours). I just don't understand how "get" can mean "stay home with" to him, especially combined with the other words they were said with, like "yes I am coming back." Ugh. These disappointments happen ALL the time... Anyone else have similar issues?

That is common at our house.

That is common at our house.  I will translate for you.....  "If I didn't understand you correctly, I am not to blame - you are to blame for me not doing what I said I would do.  If I forgot, ADD is to blame for me not doing what I said I would do.  If I can change history in my own mind, I am a great guy but you are always mad at me....just a nag I guess. I don't want to have any bad feelings about myself.  That would be un-fun.  So I will let you wonder about your sanity, where I am, and if my promises EVER have any meaning at all.  THEN I won't have to worry about anything cuz I know you will worry enough for both of us."  

Debidoo973's picture

Oh, thank God for you,

Oh, thank God for you, Jennalemon! Yes, the broken promises...Twice now he's started on medication & stopped because he didn't think it was working. Different meds, yes. But did he contact the doctor that he was getting off of them so he could get right on something else? What do YOU think? His promise to me a couple of months ago (when I kicked him out) was that he would do *anything* to save this relationship. I told him to "Get back on meds, & make treating your ADHD a PRIORITY, by either getting a coach, a therapist, or reading books on the subject." The only thing he did was get on meds...& only for about a week. Correction: In fairness, he also did start setting an alarm on his phone to remind him to send me a loving text message each day, which he has been pretty good at doing. But as far as seeking treatment, that went down the tubes. I knew something was screwy because he was just sooooo damn forgetful & confused, completely spacing out total conversations. It's like you said, Jenna, it makes you question your sanity. The funny thing is, I have ADHD too, yet mine is well under control by now, & not anywhere near as severe on the inattentive spectrum as his. I've been medicated & had therapy for 10 yrs now & STILL read self-help stuff all the time on it. Mine is more the hyper & emotional/silly/giddy kind (I'm the class clown :P) and his is more the quiet, slow-moving, day-dreamy, look-u-in-the-eye-but-hear-nothing-u-say type. Do they think we are kidding when we say "next time it's really OVER???" Twice now I have had to almost end things unless he got on meds. So he does & "promises" to do better & to make seeking treatment a priority...but other things get in the way (there's just SO much hunting to get done! He doesn't have time for therapy!) Another word that got misconstrued: "calendar." He's been saying for weeks that he needs to buy one. He came over to my place & looked *on my wall* (this is important) at MY calendar & said "Hey, didn't someone in your family buy me a fly fishing calendar for Christmas?" I answered "No, hon, that was last year, & since you didn't use it, I hung it up & used it. Now it's gone." Now, being that we are both on limited funds, I've been encouraging him to get one at the dollar store or another discount store instead of at a Staples or other name brand store. He texted me yesterday & informed me that he'd just bought two "calenders" @ $20 a piece, so he'd just spent $40 on two calenders! He said that they were perfect for what he needed. They had the right amount of space for him to write in, etc. Well, I about had a nutty. "FORTY friggin' dollars for TWO calendars??? Are u friggin' kidding me?! I'm sorry, I really am for saying this hun, but that is a STUPID purchase!" (I felt really bad after saying that-but it WAS really stupid!). "I've never heard of calendars being so expensive! Why didn't you go to the dollar store like I told you about? You know you can't afford to spend this kind of money, & to be perfectly honest with you, if we ever get married & share our money, I'm quite terrified of how you'd spend OUR money!" He then informed me of all that this "calendar" really is. And as it turned out, it was actually a Day Planner! For Pete's sake! That makes a WORLD of difference! You can't get detailed Day Planners at the Dollar Store. They don't sell them. NOW, it was a *brilliant* purchase. But because he used the wrong term, it sent me into heart attack mode thinking about our future finances & his apparent inability to spend wisely. (Not to mention that he'd been off from work all week before & had plenty of time to shop for one, but picked this one up-in a rush-because he waited until the last day before returning to work. Arrrrrggggg!!!!). I was just so pissed by all this unnecessay grief. Ok I'm done venting for now. ;)

I hate to play devil's

I hate to play devil's advocate, but I can see how "getting your boys" could translate that to him. I've heard many people say this in terms of their kids. "I'm going to get my kids this weekend" in my mind means yes, they are picking them up, and yes, they may not have time to do anything but kids related things.

Otherwise, this sounds like the type of misunderstanding I would have with my hubby. And to be honest, it's not worth getting in a fight over. Would you rather spend time arguing or spend the time with him? I understand it's frustrating; my hubby mismanages his time all the time and it cuts into our time together. We work opposite schedules (me during the day and him during the night). We only have Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday nights together. I struggle all the time with the fact that he waits until later in the day to go out and run errands and winds up not coming home until 8 at night. I go to bed at 10. So yeah, two hours together. Yeah some days I want to scream. But most days I control myself and think, this situation is temporary, is it worth ruining the night arguing? I've explained to him that I enjoy spending time with him and that I want more of him. Interestingly enough, he thanked me for telling him that because he often wondered if I was just going through the motions or if I really enjoyed my time with him.

Communication is key in any relationship, but it's particularly key in a relationship where there's an ADHD partner. I can tell that you are an overachiever and that you have determined to not let your ADHD define you, but some people just can't do that. My hubby is very cognizant of how the ADHD has affected his life but he's never once made up his mind to not let it rule him; he thinks his family thinks he's a stupid screw-up because he does things differently. It's kind of heartbreaking.

I guess it all depends on what you want out of a relationship. My husband doesn't sound as spacey as your SO, so I probably can't totally relate. He a little forgetful but not totally. Of course he used to be a cop so his memory is pretty fine tuned. Lol.

All I do know is that I love him and I know that we'll go through ups and downs where he will be excelling and times where he won't. I just have to hold on to the times where he is getting better. Good luck to you.


Feeling righteous about the meaning and connotation of a word is a guaranteed recipe for an argument.  That argument will be nasty and long because the two people will be fighting about two completely different issues and never realize they're jousting windmills.

I agree with dazedandconfused.  Making an issue out of the word "get" is particularly useless.  The word "get" should never be used precisely for this reason, it has so many meanings with so little information attached to it.

"I am going to get my kids." as in "I am going to get some groceries."


"I am going to get my kids." as in "I am going to get my birthday present."

Should be "I am going to pick up my kids."  or "I am going to receive my kids." (or any other completely different sentence with a more precise verb).


This is not an ADHD issue.  ADHD people may not process all the information spoken to them at times, but that is different than having the overwhelming urge to argue semantics.  However, it is very possible that an ADHD person will very quickly and adeptly find an ambiguity to use as a coping mechanism. 

  • What he was REALLY thinking:  "Ooooh, crap!  I screwed up again.  She didn't give me an exact time, so I figured I'd have enough time to do this other stuff. Besides, if it was important she would have given me a time.  But then I got focused on this other stuff and the fact she was coming over fell out of my immediate focus.  But I can't tell her that because she thinks I innately sense time like her and she has no empathy toward how I function and believes it's a character flaw. Plus, if I tell her that I momentarily overlooked the fact she was coming over, then she will internalize it and start yelling at me for being selfish and not caring about her.  So how do I get out of this situation without taking a beating?....Hmmm... telling her I just misunderstood seems pretty harmless!"...

This reaction is a combined result of BOTH people in the ADHD relationship.  However broken down an ADHD person may be, that does not give the non-ADHD the justification or right to belittle or impose their own subjective view of the world onto them.  I absolutely guarantee that this is what the OP is doing to this guy.  When she used the phrase,  "seem to have different meanings to him than to the rest of the world" it spoke volumes about how she views herself compared to him and how she views ADHD in general.

round of applause for this one

Thank you for the "what he was really thinking" bit.  Now, magnify the "oh crap" x20 and the "again" x the number of days you have lived x 15 (which is the minimum number of times any of us berates ourselves for making yet another mistake).  Next, divide by the fear of scolding, and square in the certainty you'll be accused of having all sorts of horrible character flaws, selfishness, lack of common sense, your partner wishing you could just ERASE an entire section of your personality*.  Finally, subtract all hope of improvement & all hope of anything productive coming from another "yes, I should have done X instead" conversation.  Those tend to just leave me hopeless.  How on earth am I going to remember to change my behavior next time I get caught up in the moment?  That's against the whole meaning of "getting caught up in the moment" and "caught up in the moment" is basically a synonym for AD(H)D.

It sucks.

*Yesterday I did the laundry, which my DH didn't expect.  But I mixed lights and darks and a white towel of his turned gray.  He screamed "It would just be better if you never surprised me at all!"  This despite 3 nice surprises in the last week.  Kinda like saying, "I got a sunburn! I wish the sun would never shine."  You can't take away my spontaneity or the joy of giving him nice surprises (when all goes well).  You can't take away all the benefits of the sun just because you had one, or even many, bad experiences.  

We hate to be the reason that things went wrong again, so as Brick pointed out, we use coping mechanisms to deflect the blow.  We KNOW we mess up enough already.  We wish we didn't cause hurt to our partners, bosses, families, and friends.  Coping mechanisms like deferring blame or pretending not to have heard are usually the only way I can get through a day without wanting to throw myself out a window as payback for the trail of debris I leave in my wake.  I already know I hurt and disappoint everyone I encounter, no need for other people to rub it in, it's hurtful and disappointing to me too.  Every "I should have X" talk sees me inching closer to the window.  

Now the hopeful bit.  Melissa's ideas are helpful.  Trying DIFFERENTLY.  Separating symptom from personality trait.  When you are hurt and disappointed, you MUST x-ray through the hurtful expressions of AD(H)D's symptoms, and connect to the hurt & disappointed person who has dealt her/himself enough blows already, 15+ times a day, every day of her/his life.  If s/he hasn't, it's because thinking about it would send her/him through the window.  That's what those coping mechanisms are about.  They work well enough with people we don't have to talk to all the time, like teachers or colleagues, but our family knows us better, doesn't want to "hear excuses" all the time, and learn to see through them.  That's a trouble spot for sure.

Sorry for the rant.  I was working through a low point about ruining my DH's laundry and life.  Like everyone else here, we are working on it & making progress.  Last night's laundry argument sucked, though.


DH is so focused on HIS overwhelm, HIS right to be who he is and how he is, HIS getting his way, doing this HIS way, that he concentrates on HIS ego and expects others to give him special treatment and special allowances.  He expects to do less work than other people....then has disdain for people who work hard.   He, like you seem to, wants others to understand HIM.  I would love to see him man up, get tough with himself and accept that his mind works differently.  Then, get treatment of medication and counseling, use alarms, schedules, lists, learn more about ADD/ADHD, have honest conversations, be a team player. He does none of that.  It is easier to curse the world and hate others for being witness to his failures.   I know other people who have ADD/ADHD and use tools available and have pride in their abilities to not only keep up but excel in spite of ADD.  It is dependent on the ADDer to get tough with this disorder and themselves FIRST to have pride in themselves that they are using what they have to the best of their abilities.  It is not up to others to give special treatment and turn their heads joining you in blaming, pretending and denial.  I am using dh as my topic but I am directing this at you Frankcesca. You need to man up to this very difficult thing.  Fight it with the tools available. Your spouse cannot do this FOR YOU or join you in your blaming.  AFTER she/he sees you doing the work yourself, THEN he can join you in your fight and understand.

My spouse doesn't notice

My spouse doesn't notice the work I'm doing.  When I make my hardest efforts, on a good day I will 

  • remember to clean up all (not half) of my breakfast dishes, 
  • get out the door on time for an early meeting,
  • manage to tune in for all but 5mins of the meeting,
  • resist the impulse to IM my DH every 2 minutes all day long,
  • get a couple of things done at work,
  • succeed in leaving work at the time I promised I would,
  • remember to explain why I don't have a bike light before DH has to ask,
  • navigate the supermarket quickly & without getting distracted,
  • read the instructions before I put together the blender for the first time, 
  • look at & follow the recipe for dinner,
  • remember to tell him about a change in plans, 
  • remember to remind him of my meeting the next evening,
  • and manage to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  

Those were the achievements I celebrated for myself yesterday.  I should put an exclamation point after every one of those because it took special work to do each of them and I was proud of each one.  

Well, these are just normal things for him so every single one of those passed right under his radar.  Then, the one and only time I mess up in the day, I am STILL the cause of Apocalypse Hubby.  My full efforts to make our days as smooth as possible are incinerated.  Yes, we do want you to understand us.  Each and every one of those achievements took 5x the mental effort it would anyone else.  Have you ever done something you are incredibly proud of, that took you loads of work, put you outside of your comfort zone, only to have someone tell you it's on the wrong paper without reading a word?  Every day feels like that.  

I don't expect to be held to lower standards.  On the contrary, I love to excel.  I have been on medication for the past eighteen years, and I realize without that support I would never have gotten as far as I have.  I am seeking other treatment (coaching &/or therapy).  I don't ask my spouse to drag me behind him.  I make schedules.  I write everything down.  I ask people to repeat things 3 times and wait for me to scribble them down on paper or my phone.  I have joined a self-help group.  I subscribe to 4 ADD mailing lists, I read the articles, I take notes on the webinars, I do Ari Tuckman's workbook, I share what I've found with my DH, I see a doctor monthly, I am reading/have read ADHD Marriage and The Gift of Adult ADD and both the Hallowell/Ratey Distraction books and View from the Cliff and the ADD-Friendly Guide to Organizing Your Life.  Sure, a lot of facets of ADD can be cool in the right light.  But if all you wanna do is be a square peg who can pass through a round hole every once in a while, it takes tremendous work, and the tiniest straw can collapse your house of cards, and it feels shitty to know that everyone else does these stupid, normal things as easily as breathing.  I "man up" 15 times a day when I have to apologize for everything I do that doesn't fit in.  I man up 28x a day when I tell myself to get back to work.  I man up 4x a day when I realize I've deviated from my schedule, reexamine it and make a new one.  I man up 17x a day when I set myself a timer like a 4-year-old in timeout or block myself from websites like a deviant teenager.  I man up 43x a day when I color code my emails, schedule the most mundane things into my calendar, and do 15 pushups in the bathroom just so I can try and come back to my desk with a clearer mind.  And it bleeds my pride dry that, despite doing everything that SHOULD help me, I still haven't managed to get it right like your lucky ADD friends who have their tools and their gifts and their excellence.  What is wrong with me that I can't?

Has your DH verbalized that he expects to do less work than others?  Has he specifically said he looks down on people who work hard?  Without word-for-word proof, I'd guess he's jealous (I am) of those who have the ability to do something just by trying harder.  Chances are he's hiding behind his curses to shield his mauled hopes.  Spending your whole life seeing other people achieving in ways that aren't accessible to you, but you are still expected to do, hurts.  Spending every single day of your life with the whole world witnessing your failures, yeah, it actually hurts a lot.  That's not something you just man up and brush off.

If you can't offer a single grain of understanding of where he's coming from, it sounds like you won't recognize any progress.  You can't join him in the fight if you don't know where he is starting.  Understanding means more than just saying "OK, you can't focus, I get it."  It means recognizing the most infinitesimal tasks as grand achievements, because for him they are exceptional.  


On the other side.  This whole post has been defensive, I realize that.  You have valid points.  I recognize that I a) already have it pretty good and b) can still make progress, and am open-minded to it, and am trying actively.  I have a supportive SO, with his own weaknesses, who also wants to work together on making both our lives better.  But when he gets disappointed and I had something to do with the cause, it's hella difficult not to blame myself for his entire situation.  I was the wrench in his gears.  Because if I hadn't been there, he would have come out exactly where & when & how he expected.  Tell me that doesn't suck.  And that's pretty much how I feel every time I mess something up for someone else.  If this is true for your DH too, there is a lot of hurt built up inside him.

I don't know where you would start with your DH.  It sounds like he is much deeper in the defensive trenches than I am.  And yep, it is really hard to start conversations with someone that stuck.  I just don't know what to say if he's not willing to do anything.  I'm sorry.

Frankcesca again

Sorry, without knowing you, it seemed to me that you were sitting at home feeling disabled by your ADD and not doing anything about it other than coping with it.  Now that you said all you ARE doing, I can see why you have a supportive husband.  You really ARE in the trenches working to learn and organize and do what can be done.  Just being on medication for 18 years is more than many ADDers on this site are able to commit to and carry out!  Good for you that you are using the tools of alarms, schedules and having conversations.  Keep letting your dh know all the things you ARE doing to fight the ADD tendencies like you have let US know.  You deserve acknowledgement for your efforts and sincerity.  

You might also do as I have done with a Franklin Planner...account for every hour in the day.  See how long it is taking you to actually DO some of the things on your project list.  A Franklin Planner is how I got along at a corporate job where there was more work to do than hours in the day to get them done correctly.  Every day I had to prioritize, guess how much time a project might take, add some fudge time (interruptions, etc.) and check off the work done.  Every day ALL the list NEVER got totally done.  It is not just ADDers that need to organize and be reminded of all that must happen in one day. A Franklin Planner teaches you how to organize your day too with various products. It will also give you a clear picture at the end of a day it you really are doing what you think you are doing and where you might find more time and peace in your day to do the things you WANT to do by scheduling those things into your day without losing track of what you need to do.

You should not expect a parade in your honor for doing those things that other people daily do ... washing the dishes, etc.  But the extra effort you are putting in to fight the ADD merits acknowledgement. Here, here.  I hear you and acknowledge you.  Keep up the good work.

a sorry and a thanks to you, JL

Hi Jennalemon,

Sorry again for the way I wailed on you in the last post, and felt justified doing it.  It wasn't justified.  Thanks for your reasonable & thoughtful response despite my grandstanding.  And a big warm thanks for the acknowledgement despite my sour words.

I am at the low end of some kind of emotional cycle.  2 weeks ago I couldn't have been more hopeful about making progress, and how much DH and I had improved communication lately, reduced the number & duration of our arguments, I was stepping back after 8 minutes instead of 25 to take accountability for my defensiveness (VERY proud of this one, it's still going pretty well), and how I was starting up the Tuckman workbook, looking for therapy, was going to start exercising again, found a self-help group here...

Well, I saw the self-help group once, have my first new-member appt at the gym next week (which is the same night as the self-help group, oooops), keep postponing the therapist talk w/the DH, did the easy part of the Tuckman workbook, and IT'S BEEN A WEEK BUT I DON'T SEE ANY IMPROVEMENT YET WAAAAAAAAAAH IT'S NOT GONNA WORK NOW OR EVER SO I SHOULD JUST GIVE UP!!!  Hmm, sound familiar? ;)

Thanks for the Franklin Planner suggestion.  I checked it out, and really appreciate the layout with the daily priorities, hours, and notes.  Paper planners worked wonders for me in HS, but lately not.  I bought one in Xmas 2011 whose last entry was Feb 2012, oops.  Oh, and plus, overseas shipping costs are ridiculous so I'd have to ship it to my parents in the US (luckily am going for final wedding planning trip next month).  Lately I've been working on scheduling things into my Google calendar, because I don't carry a planner with me all the time but wouldn't be caught dead without my phone.  And on the rare occasions I am, I have my Gcal at work too.  I don't know if I'd be able to reincorporate bringing a paper planner with me everywhere.  But now I'm looking into Franklin-type apps for the phone. :)

Today at lunch, I told my DH the system I worked out (under his radar) so I remember (99% of the time) to bring the beeper for the locks at work, and I asked him to repeat after me, "Hey, you made a system that works, that's great."  He also acknowledged why his suggestion didn't work for me.  I am also working on giving myself internal high-fives every time I do reach one of those tiny, so-called-normal achievements as I mentioned above.  It's like a parade in my soul. ;)


OK, enough about me, back to you and your resistant husband...

A Wedding in 3 months.....ahhhhhh!

A big (I am guessing since you have a planner) wedding overseas.  That alone would make anyone's head spin.  Things will be better after the wedding.   We don't do that any more here for the reasons you are mentioning.... expensive crazy making! What is pressuring you to have this wedding rather than a small, intimate service?  Is it too late to pare down the expectations of that day?

Biggish (100-150 guests, I

Biggish (100-150 guests, I don't know where that sits on your scale).  We mostly hired a planner because the bride and her mother have ADD, and until December me & my man were living in West Africa. :)

My own expectations are part of the pressure.  My mother's are another.  Also, we wanted a big event because we have friends living on every continent but Antarctica (how fun is that to say!!) - if we did a small event not all would fit on the guest list, and not all might see a small gathering as a strong enough reason to make a big trip to the US.  I'm working on paring down my own expectations right now (as the DH says, "good enough," not 300% perfect), we'll just see about Mom ;)

Debidoo973's picture

Dear Brick Muffinwhistle, I

Dear Brick Muffinwhistle, I have to admit, I struggled to reign in my own impulsiveness, (because I have ADHD too! Therefore, I DO understand it FULLY. I have simply been on meds & learned coping strategies for 10 years & my BF is brand new to all this, so it is as if I function more like a non-ADD spouse with an ADD one right now) as I first began responding to you so that I would not bite your head off for how insulted I felt by your last paragraph. Can't you tell now that I too an am ADDer by the way I wrote such a run-on sentence above? Lol. Being that you truly don't know me, I will choose to believe that you simply must have had many experiences with women who have had a self-righteous attitude such as the one you described, and therefore you also automatically attributed that to me as well. That's unfortunate for you if that has been your experience. My BF have talked this out since, & he has come to realize that he actually often doesn't even recall whole conversations sometimes. We have also determined that when we make plans, we will reiterate them to each other, stating exact times & places so that we BOTH have a clear understanding of what is expected. He has an appt with an ADD specialist this coming Friday.

Liked that response.  Can

Liked that response.  Can totally relate, but if I ever said that to my husband, he would start expounding the virtues of all the self-help books he reads and how my negativeness is causing all the problems.  It's never his fault.  It's just my crazy brain.  I guess this is the forum for crazy spouses of just perfect, wonderful people (who happen to have ADHD).

MagicSandwich's picture

Sounds to me like your fiance

Sounds to me like your fiance wasn't listening to your sentence "Yes, but I need to go home and get my boys first" until you got to the word "home" and then he blanked out on the last word "first." All he processed was "home and get my boys" which he took as a signal that you were not coming over.   I have the same problem with my boyfriend, especially when I respond to a question (example: "would you like seconds?")  politely saying "No thanks... that's OK." What I mean is "No." What he hears is "OK."  If I say "No, thanks" he will interpret the "thanks" as a yes.  I wish I could fix this problem by saying no and leaving it at the one word, but he's often offended at one word answers in the negative no matter how benign.  As you may predict, his being offended that I gave a one "no" to a second helping of food means I am on the receiving end of a 10 minute rant about hurting his feelings. 

Debidoo973's picture

Oh MagicS! It sounds like u

Oh MagicS! It sounds like u have it worse off than me, I'm afraid. I guess I should stop complaining. You poor thing are damned if u do and damned if u don't! I guess your only option would be to maybe say, "that was SO delicious, but I'm full!" ? Or maybe just simply, "I'm full." I know my BF doesn't hear half of what I say. He's admitted that to me before. I'll be telling him an absolutely hysterical story & he'll sit there straight-faced, no reaction. I'm like, "hellooooo, that FUNNEEEEE....." And he says very monotone, "yeah I know, I thought it was cute." No smile or maybe barely one, but no interaction or comments on what I'd said. Sometimes I'd just walk away & other times itell him I'd have gotten a better reaction from the cat. It's then that he'd admit to having a zillion other thoughts running through his mind during my story & that he really wasn't paying attention. Well Duh...I knew that already. At least he owns up to it though, so that helps.
MagicSandwich's picture

  Sometimes it's all just a


Sometimes it's all just a game. It feels like one to me anyway. My ADHD boyfriend tries to impose a fixed idea or delusion of how things are in his mind only by forcing me to act (through fear of backlash) as though what he says is 100% true. If I  don't play along with the script, my boyfriend throws a fit like a child. This is never more true than at the times when something goes wrong BECAUSE of a bonehead ADHD decision. He will stop at nothing to avoid responsibility or having to say he's sorry and the campaigns per each incident can go on for days. Yesterday we were idling briefly behind a double parked SUV. The SUV driver had stopped briefly to close the back hatch which had kicked open for some reason. There was a minor delay for the driver had to shove some bicycles forward to get the hatch closed. I could not see over or around this vehicle, and yet I endured 12 (I counted) bullying statements from ADHD boyfriend in the passenger seat to drive around it. Finally when I spoke up to say "I can't see around the car enough to pass it! We could get hit!" I got the full screaming hand-waving ADHD reaction. "We are going to be late because you are a coward behind the wheel!"   

So very stupidly and in a panic from having been screamed-at, I pulled into the left lane to get around the double parked SUV and BAM! A FedEx truck was coming right toward us. There was a lot of bird flipping and honking. It was totally my fault for maneuvering blindly and a miracle we weren't killed. But what does my boyfriend say after a 15 second silence?  Nothing about are you OK, or a soothing pat on my shoulder. Nope. He says "That wouldn't have happened if you had gone around that car when I TOLD you to. You waited too long." No, I said. "I shouldn't have done that. I had zero visibility." And because I stuck up for myself. Because I refuse to play into his PR campaign - he's been on a roll about it all morning via text, email and of course in my face too. 

I don't think I can do this anymore. 

MagicS, I can't drive with my

MagicS, I can't drive with my adhd husband because he wants to have full control.  He makes me very nervous! Every time I stick for myself it seems like a mistake because he gets even more angry and says I don't understand.  I don't  I can deal with it anymore.  I am depressed and don't know myself anymore.  I can absolutely relate..


The key word is directness

The key word is directness here... Instead of saying, "I'll get the boys first and then meet you," say something like "I will see you at your place at 2:00 PM sharp." He seems to lose focus after the first half of the sentence?

My dh tends to be like this a lot but not to the extent of just taking off without telling me his plans tho. Our biggest issue is whenever I say "We could go here, what do you think?" generally plays out with him saying, "Well, I wasn't sure if the plans were concrete. You asked me what I thought, I was open to it, but nothing was firm." It is just infuriating because the way it appears is that I am to make all the arrangements and since he's the one still "waiting", means I'm the one who's undecided. For me to be "final" about it, I have to get everyone rounded up, packed and standing at the door. Then all we have to do is wait for him to take a shower and shave, get dressed, tidy up his man cave, pop in the GPS and drive (if it even gets that far).

On the other hand, your bf's (seeming?) lack of interest may point to other things... why didn't he just invite you to meet up to where he has his kids? Don't think it would be a big deal, or just redirect the conversation to what time he DOES expect you to show, e.g. "I will be back at the house at 4:00PM, meet you at my place."

Try the direct response next time, and repeat it or ask him to repeat the time. See if it makes a difference.

Debidoo973's picture

Dear Coping, I like your

Dear Coping, I like your advice. I will use that approach from now on. And sadly, you touched on something that has been a sore subject for a long time..."Why doesn't he just invite us to come along with him & his boys?" Sniff, sniff, excuse me while wipe my tears... I can't tell if it just doesn't occur to him, or maybe it does but not until it's too late, or if maybe he really doesn't want us there after all. If we're all going to be a step-family someday, it's my opinion that it'd be a good idea to start getting used to being all together now. But it seems as though he likes to maintain the separateness of "him & his boys." He's fine being with me & MY kids. But usually when he has visits with his, he goes AWAY with them, leaving me (& if my boys are with me, them too) behind. We've had many talks about this & I've told him how much this hurts me & makes me feel excluded & unwelcomed into his family. He says he doesn't do it intentionally really & that a lot of it is because his ex never wanted to do anything together-she always took off to go out as soon as he got home-so he's just gotten so used to it always being just "him & the boys" that he just expected that that's the way it would always be. It's been hard for him to get used to the notion that a woman, & her kids, would actually want to spend time with him & his children. We've been a couple for 2 & a half yrs now, & he HAS gotten more used to that idea & he is BETTER at inviting me/us along, but, as in the case just this past weekend, first he said "tonight would be bad. I told the boys we'd hunt coyotes in the back yard. I've been setting up for it all day." (This was the day I'd told him I was coming back over after I "get" my boys). After hearing my disappointment, hurt, & frustration, he said. "You guys are still welcome to come over. I want you to. It will just be real dark here with no lights on & there'll be the loud bangs from the gun (he knows I'm noise sensitive), & you guys will have to be real quiet for a little while but it won't be the whole time." I replied, "if only you had answered me with that the first time instead of saying 'Don't come over,' all this turmoil would have been avoided." By the end of it all, it was too late for us to make the 45 min drive over, & quite frankly, wasn't really in the mood to see him anymore.

I'm a bit concerned

I'm a bit concerned about his natural tendency to exclude you and your boys.  You've been dating long enough - are you a "family unit" now, or not?  Is he comfortable when you are all over and is just being thoughtless, or does he think you and your boys get in the way?  If it's the former, then some straightforward talk and efforts to make sure you all are together enough make sense.  Either you're a team or not and it's time to make sure he gets that and can act in a way that demonstrates his feelings that you are.  If it's the latter, you may need to back up a bit and have some really serious conversations about whether this is going to work out.

Directness, anchoring plans in an ADHD mind

Yes...there is a HUGE difference between "could go here"  and "will go here" !  I'm inclined to think this is more of a Men-are-from-Mars issue.   I would never in a million years think that "we could go here" meant there were definite plans!  Realize that you females tend to think out loud.  "We could go here."  sounds like "I could color my hair blond, or goldenrod, or autumn sun." or "We could retire in Fiji."  It's hard enough for any male to filter through everything a female says for what is relevant, let alone one with ADHD!  My ex used to talk to herself in other rooms, talk to the cat, talk to the TV, talk to food in the refrigerator.  There was absolutely no way I could shift gears and focus on what she was trying to communicate every time I heard her speak!  There seems to be this global expectation that a female can be vague about what she is communicating and it is the male's fault if he didn't magically divine what she was thinking based on something completely different that was said.


Stating the time plans are expected to an ADHD person is definitely better than assuming they will (1) absorb the vague reference to the plans, (2) guess correctly at the true meaning of the vague reference, and (3) be able to have those plans on his radar at the appropriate time.  However, having a specific time is only effective if he does his share of the load by managing his ADHD to meet the expectations.

To meet the expectation of being ready for plans at a specific time an ADHD person must at a bare minimum:

  1. Make a list, mentally or written, of all the things he must do to be ready.
  2. Carefully think about how much time he needs to do all the things on the list.
  3. Set an alarm or reminder for the time he needs to start preparing.
  4. Make sure that alarm or reminder is actually WITH him.
  5. Plan the rest of the day so he isn't in the middle of Sears Auto Shop getting all 4 tires replaced when the alarm goes off.


Always keep in mind that this expectation for a person should be ready for plans at a specific time is an arbitrary and subjective convention (edited out as a generalized attack.) There is nothing inherently wrong with answering the question: "When do you want to eat." with "When I'm hungry." or "When I am finished with what I will be doing today."  Obviously this unacceptable in some cases, but it is reasonable to expect it is perfectly acceptable in other cases without the non-ADHDer storming off grumbling something about "he doesn't respect me." "he's so inconsiderate." "why should I wait on him?" "it's all about him."



You are generalizing here.  I am one of the most direct people I know in spite of my being female.  Poor communication has nothing to do with gender.


Sometimes reading all of this is so very sad. I feel like (being ADHD) I can relate to feeling crappy, always being blamed, I don't do this, I don't do that..........but I also can relate to the non-ADHD spouses too. I have too, felt the same emotions dealing with my soon to be non-ADHD spouse. For example, the other day, I asked a question " is B going to C's party".......his reply " I don't know", my reply "did you call C's mom" and his reply "I didn't get a chance to call her, I forgot". So, when I originally asked the question, I don't know is not a Definative answer. He then told me that I was "picking a fight". I wasn't. He told me that he ANSWERED the question, and I replied by stating that he did, only when I asked the question again, but different. So..........sometimes I feel like he is a hypocrite. I can't do something, but when HE does, there is nothing wrong. For instance again........I asked him how a Dr. Appointment for our daughter went, he went off on me because I asked a few questions following that question. He said " you should have been there if you had all of these questions". I explained that the Dr. Actually suggested that he go alone with our daughter the first few times, and that was one reason I didn't go. So then, 2 weeks later, he asked me the SAME question (without follow up questions mind you), and I confronted him about it. I simply asked how my asking that question was so different from HIM asking it, because I don't understand. He said "I am not fighting with you, I'm done". All he would say, is that I asked too many questions after the initial question. So here I am, with my head cocked, saying WTF. So that is what I mean by hypocritical, as this is not the only scenario. Sorry, I'm rambling, and this ost is not about me. I apologize. I think communication plays a big part in ADHD relationships. Figuring out how each partner interprets things is a start. Look at a book "loving someone with attention deficit" by Susan Tuschudi (I think). I read the whole book, and saw BOTH views. It was very helpful. Good luck to you, and agin....sorry for the rambling.

Thank you Debbiedoo

Thank you for the hugs Debbiedoo. Positive reinforcement is always a good thing, and hugs to you back.  :)

Sounds like very poor short-term memory

Sounds as if your partner has extremely poor short-term memory...I'm even guessing that the "get" thing isn't that you think of it differently, but that he forgot and was covering that up either because he was embarrassed or didn't want to make you angry (I see this regularly).

He needs to implement a REALLY GOOD reminder system - probably using his cell phone so he has it with him all the time.  In addition, the two of you would benefit from implementing (at least temporarily) a system of checking that you understand each other.  After an agreement, the other person will say what they "heard."  So, for example, you might have a conversation like this:

"I'm going to get my boys."
"What I heard (or what' we're doing next) is that you're going home now."

"Yes, and I'm coming back with my boys..."

"You're coming back with your boys?   Today?"

"Around 2pm."

"Oh, then, I heard that you're going home and coming back with your boys around 2pm.  So we'll have dinner tonight?"

etc. etc.

Though it may seem pedantic, I suspect that if you do this for a while you'll find that at least some portion of the misunderstandings go away.  He probably suffers from both poor memory AND distractibility, and this approach will help make sure the communication is clear.

Debidoo973's picture

Thank You For Your Concern! :)

Dear Sweet Melissa, I was so touched that you personally answered some of my posts! Thank you SO much! This issue has been a major concern of mine as well & have talked with him about it on several occasions. I've told him that I feel that there is this "Mark, Ben, & Brian club" & no one else is allowed in, except maybe their cousins whom they play with when Mark visits his sister, which he often does. His reply was that he DOES want us all to be a family, but there are several factors at work here. Some of which are exactly what you mentioned in amother post, that he does indeed have *very* poor short-term memory & also the distractibility, so many times it is that he sincerely does not realize that we have plans because he either does not remember the conversation or that he didn't even "hear" the conversation because his mind was really elsewhere during it. He always feels awful when this happens. Secondly, he says he worries about how his boys feel, with the three of them always being so close since they were young, having to share him now, when they never used to have to before. Besides that, he feels that the things they like to do together may not be things that my boys & I would like to, or even could, join them in, such as hunting or shooting or hiking. (Mark & one of his sons are avid outdoorsmen & my 2 boys love computer games, mostly, lol. Mark's other son is just like mine.). My boys may not be trained in youth hunting, but they do like the outdoors, they would enjoy the shooting range, & know that at least one of them does enjoy hiking. After talking with him about this just recently, I believe it's that Mark has been so entrenched in having been alone in raising his sons for so long (due to his ex never wanting to be with any of them) that it has just been extremely difficult for him to move out of that mindset--to believe that I, as a woman, actually DO desire to spend time with him & his children. Some good news is that Mark just saw a dr. & got a prescription for 10 mgs of Adderrall, & we are signed up for your seminar coming up in April. We also plan on getting some couple's therapy if necessary. He is willing to work with a coach if we can afford one. I could use one too, frankly. So, at least we are both trying & we know that our relationship, our family functioning as a "unit" is something we both definitely want. Thank you again Melissa. XO

Today my daughter had an

Today my daughter had an accident (wet the bed) and we're staying with my mom. My husband took the peed on sheets and blanket and put them on her living room carpet in a pile (instead of in the laundry basket). Mom saw this and said, "Don't put that on the rug" and he said, "It's not on the rug, it's on the floor."


Debidoo973's picture


What's his definition of a "rug" then? Lol. This displays another common issue with ADDers: the total lack of being able to forsee consequences. (I.E. that putting pee-soaked sheets on a carpet will cause the carpet to reek and become germ-laden, therefore causing even more work to clean that now too.). It truly is a brain dysfunction bc these things just don't make sense! Update: My issue above has resolved quite well. We haven't had an issue like that since, well, about the time that happened. He always checks with me now regarding plans and I check with him. It's so nice to be able to report progress! :)


All of these issues are magnified when you live with a psychologist who always thinks he knows your motives, goals, plans, thoughts, etc.  Also undiagnosed ADHD.