I've been with my wife for almost ten years. She was diagnosed with ADHD during the first few years of our relationship. It's been difficult, but we both got counseling, education and she's done a lot to help herself, meds, reading, apps etc.
Fast forward to today. I love my wife, but am not sure that's enough. I still feel at times unfulfilled. She uses tools to remind herself to show affection, routines and lists to make sure she attends to responsibilities...
We have fun, though sometimes intellectually I feel like I'm talking to a child. Emotionally, I don't always feel understood by her, compared to some of my friends. She's learned to be more giving and express support. Yet...
I'm not quite sure what's amiss... leaving her doesn't feel quite right. But there's something that needs improving... I need some feedback... prodding... questions?
Ambre, I get what you are
Submitted by jennalemone on
Ambre, I get what you are saying. Long time ago, we went to marriage counseling. The counselor asked me "What do you want him to do?" I answered and said, "If I have to tell him what to do, who is loving me? If I have to tell him what to say to me, Who is talking to me? I don't want him to have a list of what he needs to accomplish like a "to do" list. That is not how love works. That is a job. I don't want to be a job for him to resent. I want the energy and the talk and the actions to come from him. THAT is love"
What I realize now is that it just does not come from him naturally. He is not able to see me or hear me or have a connection with me. He would like me to tell him what to do and what to say because he does not (is not able to?) to FEEL me. It just isn't there in his capability or in his willingness. This is where we blame ourselves for being unworthy or unlovely and we spend a lifetime trying to be lovable and worthy....but sometimes it just doesn't happen and we end up with regret and shame in our own selves because we have not been loved.
This may not be your case. I am just putting this out there as my own experience.
This made me think. I get it.
Submitted by vabeachgal on
This made me think. I get it. My H used to ask "what do you want me to do?". I'd end up having to answer with a specific thing because he couldn't understand a general, let's build a life and memories together. He would comply with the task. End of story. He worked super long hours and found a ton of time to be with his friends. Often, he would "do the thing" that I asked, sandwiched between the other activities. I was not expected to have a problem with this because he did it. It always felt flat. In reality, I wanted to be the priority, not the sandwich activity. Not the obligation he had to fulfill. Not a task. I wanted him to be able to intuit, once in a while, what I might need or want instead of having to ask for it. Our situation was compounded by another couple/friend/frenemy who would consistently say it was my "fault" for not saying what I wanted or needed. I did verbalize it. The message was not received in ways that many of us on this forum understand.
I didn't want to tell him how to spend time with me and when. I didn't want the choice to be me planning it or it not happened at all. I did not want to be a reminder like "take meds, pta meeting, etc." I have friends and I'm comfortable doing things on my own. I didn't want to have to schedule him in and give him a list. It is not fulfilling. It would be fulfilling for someone to realize that you have not spent much time together and understand that you are missed.
That's lonely and unsatisfying, even if you are spending time together. That's like a job.
Submitted by ambre on
I also want my wife to intuit what I need. My friends are able to. My wife needs to be told.
She's resolved some of that with certain habits, like dropping all activities when she sees I'm upset and sitting down next to me.
I realize how amazing that may sound. She had to learn this over time, including even recognizing when I'm upset in the first place!
She may not be able to always comfort, but she has learned to pay attention to me when I'm distressed.
She also prioritizes time for me, to the point where I actually felt I didn't have a lot of freedom to do my own thing. I had to reclaim that, and still work at that.
I think we all speak up when we realize we aren't going to get what we want. But then, what do we do when it's not enough? What's enough?
Ambre, I don't know. What we
Submitted by vabeachgal on
Ambre, I don't know. What we are talking about is a very basic human need/desire/want. I have very dear friends who are able to accurately intuit what I need where my H cannot. My children have always done a better job. I know that my H has tried several things, as your wife has. For a long time, he thought that physically sitting down with me during dinner (instead of in front of the tv) was "it". It's a lovely thought. In fact, I always made sure we sat down at the table as a family a minimum of 4 nights a week when the children were growing up. However, what he did not realize, was that over time, I no longer craved that time and actually found his slumped posture and fork against the teeth scraping to irritate me beyond belief. (Petty. Sigh, but there it is). LOL. Is there any salvation to a marriage when you want to jump out of your chair when your husband scrapes his teeth against the fork and you want to tell him to sit up straight? Probably not.
I also feel as though my husband went through the motions and tried to figure out how to act, and I felt miserable for feeling bad about feeling bad about how he tried to support and comfort me. He was trying. I should be grateful. What about all of those wives who receive even less? It went on and on in my head. At least he's not cheating (not so accurate a thought) Then... my best friend would send a 3 word text and my heart would melt because I know she knew where I was emotionally and said, without saying anything, that she was there... THAT'S what's missing. It's that quiet glance of understanding. It's the gentle "I got 'cha" that's missing.
We want someone to SEE us. Recognize us. "I SEE YOU" versus being invisible.
I do think it must be easier to get through the ADHD difficulties if you really have that strong emotional bond to begin with. Without it, it's much more difficult. I mistakenly assumed my H's hyperfocus was a bond. I've spend years trying to re create to re ignite something that I'm not sure was ever really there. He was focused on me for a time, but I'm not sure he was ever REALLY focused on me, if that makes sense.
Not sure how the
Submitted by vabeachgal on
I'm not sure how a basic communication regarding what you want equates to a total "up your butt, can't breathe" situation, but I hear you because my H did the same thing. I remember a funny, only in retrospective situation, where my H's idea of good quality couple time was handing me kitchen implements while I was struggling to fix dinner and manage homework after working all day. Ummmm.... the spatula is within 10 inches of my hand, okay, don't need your help. My H would not be honest about where he was or what he was doing but then wanted to know EVERYTHING about my comings and goings for the sake of "quality time". It was exhausting and it really pissed me off.
jennalemone, how do you make peace with the limitations?
Submitted by ambre on
jennalemone, thanks for the validation. I went through the same thing with my partner in therapy. To tell her simple things I needed, was heartbreaking.
Knowing that some things just aren't in our ADHD spouses "capability or... willingness" how do you live with that?
I struggle with knowing that all relationships have issues, and if what I've committed to is any better or worse than the average...
Or if, I'm selling myself out.... I don't know what "normal" is anymore.
I know that my wife sincerely loves me, even if she struggles to show me in a way that feels good to me. We do have a connection.
But I want more, and I am questioning whether or not that "more" is reasonable... .
I have wonderful friends, take time apart from her, enjoy my own activities.
I don't expect her to be everything. Yet, is what I am missing from the marriage, fundamental?
I'm sorry it's been painful for you too. I would love to hear how you make peace and be happy in your relationship, and in yourself.
It cuts both ways.
Submitted by Jon on
I found this whole thread interesting from an ‘offenders’ perspective. I think perhaps what most of you don’t realize is that this feeling is a two way street. For example I have spent my entire life feeling much the same. Why is it that my partners are unable to see/feel/care for what I need? Worse, why do they always move the goalposts? Why can they not see I am bored out of my skull here in this routine and for the most part I am only going through the motions of doing what are expected simply to keep someone off my back? Why can you not see that your antipathy does not motivate me? And when you treat me like a child, scold, pick at my faults, look at me with disdain and disappointment... why do then you ask why don’t I anticipate your needs and want to spend time with you?
Why is it you only see the 10% of things I don’t do rather than the 90% things that I do? Why is it hard to see that spending time with you is like electing to spend time with someone gleefully rubbing salt in wounds and intimating how much better, less stressful, accomplished and happy it would be of only you hadn’t come along , lured me with fickle attention and then made me miserable? What you lot don’t seem to understand is that time spent with you is like spending time being constantly reminded of what you are not, the disappointment is palpable, the lack of respect, the disgust and the antipathy are impossible to miss. Why would anyone WANT to subject themselves to that? Yes everyone wants other people, if not to be a mind reader to at least be capable of empathizing and being able to anticipate the needs of others we profess to care about. But the fact is, for the most part we ADHD people suck at it. Why? Because we are inherently self-absorbed, pre occupied and distracted by the 100 billion things bashing inside our skulls trying to get out all at the same time. So you and your needs that I am supposed to ‘intuit’ get kinda lost in the noise. Hell, sometimes I forget to eat for days, it’s not until I nearly pass out I realize that I am starving, sometimes I forget to sleep enough to keep functioning, and then I sleep for days. BUT I don’t even feel hunger or sleepiness. That is, the noise is so great, I don’t even feel it when my OWN body is screaming out in need, so how am I supposed to be ‘alert to your needs’ when I can’t even be alert to my own? So THE only way to do this is to be mechanical about it, because it’s not there otherwise. If we need a calendar reminder “demonstrate interest/love/affection” to you wife/family then that’s the gig we got ourselves into here.
Nothing is more infuriating than living with the ‘something is missing’ inference directed at you, because well, no sh** Sherlock, tell us something we don’t know. But if I'm honest it’s also worth pointing out, that at least from my perspective, I feel the same about many, if not *most* non ADHD people I know. I also feel that there is ‘something missing’ with you all. You are all slow to think, slow to absorb information, and can’t seem to see the bigger picture, you look at me with a blank face when I explain how I feel and think. You all are often seem incredibly dull, and content to fall into a rut and go along till we all die of boredom at some moment of great relief, you are all so caught up in the trivial routines and expectations.
I think the thing is that at some point in our lives I think most of us need to be comfortable in our own skins or life simply has no meaning at all. How can we do that when all of you are always pointing, accusing, shaming and embarrassing us and making us the villain for everything that has gone wrong? You mostly don’t ever see the good, point out what you like, tell us the things you *don’t* want changed. I hear words about love, and care and all that, but I see disappointment and I see sadness and I live with guilt I am not, can never be what you want or expect. Fact is, I don’t want to be around that. Which I think makes perfect sense, at least to me.
“love is not love which alters when it alteration finds”
Hey Jon--I read your reply
Submitted by dvance on
Hey Jon--I read your reply several times. I am the non-ADHD wife. My 49 YO husband is the unmedicated ADHD person. I appreciate you giving us the ADHD perspective. Here is my question--really an honest question. If routine bores you (any ADHD person) to death, why not choose a life/career that holds your interest or be prepared to make changes every so often OR have a hobby that gives you that adrenaline rush that you crave? If showing affection does not come naturally, why seek out a serious relationship or get married? If you can't remember to sleep or eat, why not take meds or work with a counselor to at least learn how to take better care of yourself? Most of life is really boring--I get it! Laundry, dishes, cooking, chores--even the most patient non-ADHD wants to run screaming from the house sometimes! If the noise in your head is too loud to think about someone else, why seek out someone else? I genuinely don't understand this. We live in a time where there are many choices for both men and women. Married with children is only one of a menu of all kinds of lives. Another question for you: if your partner stopped nagging, didn't ask you to do anything to contribute to your lives together, didn't expect anything from you, was just happy to be with you as you are and worked around you, would that be desirable? I ask with no sarcasm--really. After 23 years, multiple affairs (him), many periods of unemployment, lack of engagement with kids, I just let him do whatever he wants and I work around him and/or do whatever I want. We live under the same roof, we don't fight, it's fine. I guess it's better for him since I don't complain or nag and don't ask anything of him. Is that better? He is free to sit in his chair watching you tube videos wearing headphones for 5 hours a day. I just go about my business. I can see how the rest of us seem awfully boring. A fast brain is capable of doing a lot of amazing things-you all have many strengths that often get lost in the shuffle of your disorganization. What then? Is there anything that holds your interest for a substantial length of time? I have not seen anything that holds my husband's interest for a long time, so I really don't know the answer to this. My 18 year old son is an ADHD guy too and he is the same-nothing holds his interest. He is either going to have to make his peace with working menial jobs because he can't follow directions and therefore won't be terribly financially secure or he is going to have to make himself stay the course of some career path. At this moment, I don't know what he will choose. Here's an example: he took a gap year after graduating high school with my full support--he is not ready for college, may never be. He went to Costa Rica for 3 months (HIS choice) to work with a volunteer program caring for sea turtles. I figured that would be pretty interesting for 3 months, not forever, and HE chose it. New place, new people, new daily routines, new foods, the ocean, new work. But no, two months in he got kicked out because he couldn't follow directions. So perhaps his attention span is two months. What kind of life can an adult have who can't pay attention enough to earn a living?
But I digress. Jon, you seem to be pretty introspective and able to articulate what it's like to be an ADHD person and I thank you for being so candid. I mean no offense and I hope nothing I said hurt your feelings--just trying to understand the people I live with.
These are all good and valid
Submitted by Jon on
These are all good and valid questions and I will do my best to answer them at least from my own perspective. I take no offence at all, and likewise don’t intend any.
Well I do have such a career. I work in technology and get to mess around with a lot of interesting projects. The fact is, I am either stressed to the eyeballs, or bored half to death. I actually have no idea what it feels like to be anything else.
When I am stressed, I simply am unable to tackle more than one thing at a time, normally I need to focus entirely on the thing causing the most stress often to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. When I have a particularly stressful project, my life goes on hold. Yes it drives everyone around me nuts, but I literally cannot do it any other way. And I also DO undertake activities that are thrill seeking. I’ve engaged in all sorts of crazy dangerous activities and have faced near certain death more times that I can count. I’ve gone fast, up in the air, I’ve dived, surfed, skied, skydived, paraglided, I’ve raced motorbikes, crashed many times both on and off the track, have a looooong list of bones I have broken and injuries I still deal with. I’ve had a lifelong penchant for substance abuse that tweaks the same thrill seeking drive. I’ve lived a good chunk of my life with a ‘the closer to death the better you feel’ mindset.
I’ve stuck to this job like a limpet. I am not sure why? Perhaps because it involves constantly evolving and changing things, or if it’s simply that I stare at a screen all day and my tiny attention span laps that up. I get that a LOT of ADHD people go from job to job. I have not been like that which MAY be for the reasons of the next part:
Change… now change is scary, for me at least. I need external stability, I need to feel that when I’m off on some far our orbit, racing around like crazy and doing my best to wipe myself out and life is one crazy chaotic head cave that at some point when I come back down to earth that it will be there for me, that it will be stable and familiar and comfortable. Interestingly enough, this is not the case with everything in my life. In relationships, I have had a number where I grew so resentful and felt so trapped the only way out I could see was to blow it all to smithereens so there would be no coming back to it. And affairs? Yes I have had them as well. Why? Well because they were a thrill, and I could have intimate contact with another person who didn’t feel angry, sad, and sorry, upset and pity for me. Relationships have been hell. The typical structure of what they are and what they represent to me are a living nightmare I can’t escape. So why do I do them? Because I am human, I need human contact and touch. I long to be with a person who understands and does not judge or hold me in contempt. I curse my need for this, I curse my need for affection and intimacy. I WISH I was without feeling, wasn’t remorselessly hounded by my own thoughts and desires. I have tried pretty well every drug and medication under the sun. I can’t stand the crawling out of my skin I get from stimulants, I can’t stand the sense of feeling nothing at all on SSRI’s etc. None the less I take Cymbalta and spend most of my time numb and feeling very little at all, other than despair for the fact that I feel nothing. That’s not life to me. That is simply existing for the purpose of being semi tolerable to everyone else. I get next to no enjoyment, satisfaction or sense of achievement from it at all. I live this way for the benefit of others.
And I hear what you are saying, re living separate lives and you just ‘getting on with it’ because my wife and I have had this discussion many times. What I want more than anything is to just normal. Some peace and quiet. Some being on the same wavelength as my fellow human beings, rather than be alone, isolated and always have that overwhelming sense of being ‘different’. To be allowed to be the person I was born without feeling guilt, anger and shame for it, I think MANY of us must feel that way and so we try to hide among the normal people and pretend we are one of you as well, which works fine until the fun runs out and our attention slips.
Hey I got no particular answers unfortunately, I struggle with this every day. Barely a single day goes past where I don’t wonder what the point is because it’s never going to be any different. I have four children, and carry a lot of guilt for being such an inattentive, distracted and crappy dad. I wouldn’t have done it if I had my time again. At times I resent my children because I honestly think without them I would have killed myself long ago, and because of them I can’t.
On another note do you realize that activities like headphones and youtube are akin to using white noise to block out the background noise? I.e. when engaged in what seem like endlessly tedious, repetitive tasks that for all intents and purposes SHOULD be as boring as watching grass grow we can stick at it for hours. Well they are noise cancellation activities, they all reduce or remove the constant barrage of thoughts, ideas etc. in our heads, they are soothing and relaxing. Lots of noise and distraction and family and activity is the exact opposite.
Submitted by c ur self on
I understand this Jon....I don't know if that should scare me, or make me happy:)...It is great to have someone speak (able to) so real about how they think....It helps me to understand many things my wife can't speak about...It also helps me understand myself.....
Do you just not notice?
Submitted by adhd32 on
Your responses are insightful Jon. I am curious to know if you ever notice that your wife is overwhelmed with the care of 4 children. Do you agree to do things and then not do them or sigh with irritation when reminded and still not do them? I ask because my husband is vindictive and would let me drown in the daily tasks as a way to punish me for some off-hand comment he didn't like or my lack of attention to his droning on about some perceived slight by some person who did him wrong on his ride home in the subway. I just cannot understand how a grown ass man, who is supposed to love and care for me, could be so petty. So instead of taking on tasks like bath/bed time or some other boring daily thing, H would make himself scarce when things needed to be done. You cannot imagine how much it would have meant to me and if he had just said..what can I do to help, or I've got this, you go sit down and relax.
I am sorry you resent your children, I have accused my husband of resenting ours too. He claims he doesn't but he never stepped up to establish a meaningful relationship with either of them and now that they are adults, he resents me for enjoying close relationships and inside jokes with them. Doing boring things like driving to practice or attending school events sets the tone for the future relationships with your children. You do not get a pass from your children just because watching a swim meet is boring, or you don't want to sit in an emergency room waiting hours while nothing happens. Trust me on this one, they remember who was there for them.
How is it possible for someone with ADD to be so self-absorbed that they cannot understand they have to give in a relationship yet they take, take, take, till the spouse has nothing left but resentment? Is it expecting too much for follow through? You said in a previous post that your wife was aware of your ADD before you married (a bonus since some of us were blindsided) did she understand what it meant? Were you aware before you married that compromises would have to be made and your spouse would have certain expectations about your role in the household?
Quick shout out for the "boring"
Submitted by vabeachgal on
I am going to take a quick moment to celebrate the skull-crushing, mundane, eye-rollingingly boring qualities I have.
I teach a very challenging group of middle school students. Most of them have ADD/ADHD and varying combinations of ID, ED, Spectrum and OD. If I was not able to organize, plan and deliver proper supervision, children would be hurt. I'm not kidding. Children would be hurt. A colleague came to my door to discuss one of the children. One minute, 30 seconds. One book thrown. Three cuss words thrown around. One child in complete meltdown status. One child under desk. One crying. Two children chest to chest, ready to fight. Sigh. Such is emotional dysregulation.
The children need love, support and patient understanding. Here's the caveat. When I deliver love, support and patient understanding, it doesn't mean that their behavior changes at all. In fact, many take advantage. There's an odd one or two with ODD tendencies who actually get worse with patient understanding. Go figure. They need something else and boring structure is it.
Jon, with all respect, there is a need for "us." You have trouble regulating sleep and eating. Hopefully, there was some adult in your life who remembered feed you and carried you to bed.
I understand what my husband needs. I was able to provide what he needed. The hyper-focus wore off and that didn't leave me in a good place within the relationship. However, I could still understand and provide what he needed. But, and this is HUGE... there is a tipping point in relationships where the habits/dysfunctions/etc. impinges on another. I am fine with 90% of my husband. I am NOT OKAY with the 10% of his ADHD brain that causes me harm. I am not okay with being cheated on because his brain desires a thrill. I was not okay with lazy and disinterested parenting. That doesn't agree with my values. I am not okay with financial wreckage because his ADHD brain can't wrap his thoughts around the use and value of money or he has to satisfy a need with unreasonable spending sprees. I am not okay with the part of his ADHD brain that requires that he lies to me in order to satisfy an immediate need for something and finds an adult conversation too boring or tedious. Within a relationship, there is an array of marital misdemeanors and felonies. You can go to jail for too many parking tickets or you can rob a bank, so to speak.
I get that it's all so, so boring. WE get that's it's so, so boring. We especially get it when we are busy doing all of the mind numbing boring stuff while our partners do not.
I don't think ADHD people have corner on fast thought, the ability to see the big picture, etc. You sound like a person of greater than average intelligence. My husband is not. He is not my intellectual peer; your experience is not my experience. I "get" things waaayyyy faster than he does.
My husband did not disclose ADHD. He told me he had dyslexia. Okay, I thought, so we won't read together. Fine. He was not honest with me.
My husband is not a villain for everything that is wrong in our marriage. He is, however, responsible for inflicting some very deep wounds.
I have a triathalete friend. She recently said that she would not date anyone who is not fit and healthy. Her reasoning was that if someone was unable to take care of himself, he would never be able to care for her.
So the defensive part of me
Submitted by Jon on
So the defensive part of me feels it important to say that I cannot speak for anyone else. I have my own experiences, thoughts and feelings but they are mine and while some commonality may result from ADD, my life is not anyone else's, and also many of my thoughts etc. may be way off base. I also would like a shout out to all the organized people out there holding it together somehow, I am in awe. Honestly.
I think one of the issues is that ADHD aside, underneath all that we are different people, our relationships have differing dynamics, circumstances, quirks and elements just like everyone else's, so of course not all of our experiences will be the same. The trick here is finding COMMON elements so we can separate the parts that are ADHD from those that are simply common crappy behavior. I am the first to admit I have probably have some crappy behavior habits, but then I bet MOST of us do, ADHD or not.
ADHD also I feel can become a comfort zone in its own right, in a similar way to wallowing can be soothing when one is depressed. I know myself it can be convenient from a coping perspective to slip into wallowing in the helplessness of it all. This is one of the reasons I dislike the labelling and have been resistant to it being applied to my own children.
Are you the label or do you become like the label? Besides a label and even a diagnoses are far too simple to describe a whole host of interacting factors that may be occurring in any persons life. I don’t wish to be simplified down to a 4 letter description, neither by people I have really annoyed OR by doctors. I am much more than that.
On another topic,I know myself that I am prone to put off things for AGES that are very simple and would only take a short while, mostly I think because I prioritize them down the list and then promptly forget them. Some of it is avoidance of mundane processes due to an intense aversion to boredom.
This aversion is a lot more complicated than it seems many of you think, it’s not aversion to the activity so much as aversion to the amount of concentration effort it takes to do things that should be, and *are* simple for all of you.
Many simple automatic things for many of you , take manual, concentrated effort for the distracted mind. While you don’t have to consciously think of them to act on them, we do. So what this means is that the scope for procrastination is vast and as is very obviously, intensely infuriating for those of you simply wanting every day ‘normality’.
It seems so disproportionate that I need to work as hard on finishing hangin a load of washing on the line as something technically far more complex, this is frustrating and as a result I think I reclassify many things as ‘unimportant’ simply due to the cognitive workload required relative to the mundaneness/simplicity of the task. My better half perceives this as me not being interested in everyday things that are important or being inconsiderate to her needs to live a life not surrounded by chaos.
So as you could imagine this procrastination obviously causes a great deal of consternation in my household. I suspect this reasonably common ADHD characteristic obviously plays into the need for our partners to feel they have a ‘reliable’ partner. You all feel we are not, and that inevitably has downstream relationship consequences. You don’t trust us to be reliable, we are aware you don’t trust us, so we resent it and being the person MOST close to us, it severely affects our image of self. We pull away and isolate ourselves because we are aware of your less than approving judgment of us. Basically from that point on you all get filed away in a pile of people marked: ‘just like everybody else’ and that unfortunately means you are no longer on any pedestal but constitute an active threat to our sense of self. Well we have developed ways to deal with such threats. We can be hostile, dismissive, aggressive, non cooperative, sarcastic, belittling and aloof/absent. What happened is YOU got reclassified when the scales fell from your eyes and you started noticing all those things that make us ‘different’. From lover to danger and thus we behave accordingly, as little sense as that may make.
In many ways I don’t even recognize myself as the person my wife frequently tells me she sees me as, and no amount of trying to talk that out seems to get us any closer to an understanding of how each others heads operate. I have come to the conclusion MANY times that it’s probably not possible for us to understand where each of us is coming from. We seem to look at the world through entirely different eyes. I feel this with most ‘normal people’ to be honest.
It’s an interesting point of research that in general, what is ‘attractive’ for women in terms of short term relationships with men is not necessarily the same as the attributes that are attractive as a long term mate. Some characteristics may be beneficial if you are looking for someone to knock around with, may not be the same one looks for in a long term mate and co-parent. I get that ADHD is not exclusively male of course, but only have that as a point of reference so cannot really comment on the specific challenges from a female ADHD perspective.
Anyway I really wanted to say that I get a lot from the postings on here, especially ones that are contrary to my own perspective so I don’t mean to be dismissive of anyone's views or experiences. They are ALL valuable.
Please forgive me...vabeach
Submitted by Zapp10 on
I was identifying with your response to Jon that when I read the part on dyslexia.....and your thought of....so we won't read together...... I spit the coffee I was drinking. You made me laugh( yes to the point of tears) and I apparently needed that. I hope you understand why. Oh the need for laughter so overwhelms me some days. Thank you.
Zapp, VBG, Reading together.....LOL....
Submitted by c ur self on
My wife and I can read together....This how it works....She must find the book or books interesting...Also like many adders, she struggles to shut down and sleep (Trader Joe's well rested herbal tea, melatonin, benadryl) especially when she is taking her adderall faithfully, which is usually only when she has to work....Then I read out loud to her, while she falls a sleep...Then the next night when I pick up the book to start reading again, she says, " Hey I don't remember that part" So she wants to me to back up and reread much of what I have already read...Control LOL...Any way..I oblige her most of the time....She is a mess, to put it mildly!....And her husband can be one also:)
Jon and everyone else on the thread :-)
Submitted by ambre on
I appreciate all the comments :-) Jon, your perspective helps. I see how hurt and angry you feel. Being reminded of what an ADHDers struggle can be like, helps me to have some perspective about my wife's efforts, which is tremendous.
I also want to point out, I don't hold my wife out to blame. I'm hoping to identify what I need from a relationship, and if or how my marriage provides it. I'm trying to figure out what my expectations are, and if they are reasonable, regardless of whether or not my wife has ADHD. If it's reasonable, communicate my needs to her, and then see what happens from there.
For the record, one of the things she has been extremely consistent about is her expressed happiness to be with me, forever.
If anything, my bad behavior has been enabling codependency... basically putting her first before me.
That's changed. Our relationship is more equitable now. So that's good news.
I realize she has limitations. So do I.
She's joyful and wouldn't change a thing about us.
It's me that's not totally happy, and I think that's what I've gotten used to. Living like this. It's gotten much better, but as I mentioned, something still hurts.
When I say I feel like I'm talking to a child sometimes, I don't scold. What I mean is, I bring up a subject, like how a magazine article impacted me, and she has little no comprehension of what I mean. I grieve. I either drop it or we discuss. She eventually understands or doesn't. I end up feeling disheartened. I let it go, but the disconnect hurts.
Everyone struggles for their own reasons, ADHD or not, and we each need to take responsibility for ourselves. I'm not complaining about my partner. I'm pointing out the state of things for me... I'm not sure what else do to for myself. Everyone who's spoken here on this thread so far seems to have something that doesn't feel satisfying in their relationship... whether you have ADHD or not. I'm not interested in anyone complaining about partners. I guess I want to know, what keeps you going when it's hard? What essentials are necessary for your relationship to work well? How do you know? When is enough enough and you are willing to walk away?
I was very struck by the reminder of the need to feel understood in my relationship. "It is wonderful to be loved, but it is profound to be understood." My wife says that I understand her more than anyone else in this world. I guess am struggling to recognize if and how I feel understood by her.
Ambre, keep writing
Submitted by jennalemone on
When you write, you share some thoughts that many/most of us have had. You, personally, seem to be able to put into words thoughts and feelings many of us have had but are not as good at articulating. Sometimes articulation is the birth of change. It is what I look for on this forum....if I can name it I can accept it and work with it. Sometimes a culture has so many tabus that we edit our thoughts and ideas and are not able to think outside the box. Yay for you to have the ability to write the struggle we are having in words that set us free.
ambre....Expectations vs Acceptance of Reality.....
Submitted by c ur self on
You, like many of us are in a difficult place with your thinking....My spouse because of the way she is wired, will probably never think or behave the way I would like for her to...And, like yourself, especially when it comes to me and our ability (inability) to communicate...
But that has nothing to do with the vows I made to her...When I said I do, and I will, unto death us do part....Neither of us had any disclaimers added to the end of those vows....Now saying that, I also understand about desiring a healthy connection....And, unless the energy is there, and the desire and ability to calmly communicate is also, then there can be a big empty void inside us....But, if there is faithfulness and love being shared (instead of abuse, and sexual immorality) then we should count our blessings...Because many of these faithful posters have endured that heart break also....On this forum we give each other a pass for the vents...There is nothing like walking in another person's shoes to give us a new prospective...
Yes, add/adhd can really makes martial life a difficult proposition at times...But at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves..."Do I truly love my wife? Or, Did I marry her for what she can do for me??
Submitted by vabeachgal on
You might be surprised. I am a procrastinator. There are so many things I hate doing with a red, hot burning hatred, including hanging a load of wash. Many things that need to be done are reassigned a priority lower down on the list for no other reason than I don't want to. Cleaning my car... ALWAYS on the bottom of the list. I've largely overcome my procrastination, but it's still very hard. A lot of times, I simply don't want to. My husband puts off routine tasks that need to be done. I often view it the same way your wife does. I think he makes a choice to not do things and I don't have the choice to do many things as a result. So,with my head being in the "don't want to place", I naturally default to that view when my husband doesn't do things.
I sometimes have to play games with myself. I'll clean the house, first, for a couple of hours, and reward myself with lunch with a friend. Every single year, I have to bribe myself with something in order to complete taxes and college financial aid apps. hate hate hate hate every single thing about all of that
I'm not lecturing. I don't know what the brain difference is where I force myself to do it versus not doing it at all. Is it that I realize that these things are important for my family? (clean clothes,groceries, etc.) and that I value my family therefore I do it? Or is it that I don't have a default. I don't have a choice in delegation. That has been the subject of many hot arguments in the home. I argue that my H has a choice; if he chooses not to, it defaults to me. I don't have a default.
Every situation and relationship IS different. I agree. I think my H feels comfortable with his ADHD and many of the behaviors and beliefs soothe him for no other reason than they are comfortable. There is no way that all of the problems are the result of ADHD. Some of them, for exampe,are due to very deeply held chauvinistic beliefs about what a woman vs. man should do/be. I'm expected to fulfill typically feminine roles. My H doesn't understand the irony that he is not fulfilling his typically masculine roles. It is what it is. He values independence. I value a partnership. Without ADHD, that would still cause a big problem.
It is very difficult to sort out relationship problems as far as which are ADHD and which are a result of other considerations.
It's not always a great joy and delight to be labeled the responsible one. What does that say about you? You're a drudge. You're not fun or spontaneous. You're all about the checklist. You can't relax. All of it. As much as an ADHD label can pigeon-hole you, so does having to take on the polar opposite role in the relationship. It's no fun always being the "heavy". If the disapproval causes self-esteem issues, the opposite,having to be responsible also changes your view of yourself, not always for the better.
VA on defaults....
Submitted by Zapp10 on
You have said a mouthful here....once again putting calmly and succinctly into words what I have not been able to.
On the default issue....my H would respond to his not doing something with....look if YOU (me) don't want to do it....then DON'T.
Left me speechless for too many years which is why I say WHAT was off with ME? ...sigh.
LOL. I heard that also.
Submitted by vabeachgal on
LOL. I heard that also. "Then don't do it."..... why? because I have an army of household elves and fairies??? hahahahah
partnership or independence
Submitted by jennalemone on
What you said boils it down, vbeachgirl: "He values independence. I value a partnership." I will add: He (my H) has lower standard in many areas.
These are not necessarily ADHD ADD problems, I don't think, but it seems to be common on these threads.
Or I could phrase "lower standards" another way and go further that it might be related to ADD/ADHD.
He has lower standards than me on: ethics, truth, pride of financial support, cleanliness and order of home, car cleanliness, garage and out buildings upkeep, hygiene, financial planning, being self aware, communication, spiritual growth, emotional growth, family well-being.
He has higher expectations than me on: how to process the garbage, composting, the lawn, mechanical equipment and vehicles, sex, smiling, laughing, joking.
We all have our own strengths. It is just that in his case there is one partner who takes on the stuff that the "fun one" doesn't want to take on. He wants to do what he wants to do and is OK with the rest not getting done. And he is OK that I am frustrated with that.
values, differences, standards...
Submitted by ambre on
jennalemone, thanks for hearing me and giving encouraging words :-) Well, I do feel "understood" here by a lot of folks, and that feels good!
The differences in standards of people in a relationship... obviously, everyone has those. Some may be more common in women or men, or people with ADHD, or because of a certain culture etc. It's not always compatible though!
c ur self wrote "But at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves..."Do I truly love my wife? Or, Did I marry her for what she can do for me??" It's a good question, though love isn't enough to make a relationship last... There's shared values, commitments, and so much more. Like you said, there has to be a healthy connection, whatever that might mean to each of us. Also, I married her for what we can do for each other, not just what I can do for her! LOL. But, I am trying to discern between commitment through the tough stuff, which I'm pretty good at, as I imagine many partners of those with ADHD here may be, loyal to a fault!
vabeachgal, I feel that some people with ADHD live with a certain kind of disability, that can sabotage their own efforts at getting better. I see procrastination as a measure of desire, or lack of it... I also hate doing my taxes! My wife though, despite having major difficulties in cleaning or holding a job in the past, curbing spending impulses, has come a long way. She procrastinates some things, but is on top of other things. I give her credit. It also makes me think that it is possible for a lot of people with ADHD to overcome many symptoms and manage them better.
And then, there are the things that don't change or can't change, or just will not very quickly. I can't make her understand something if certain neurotransmitters just don't fire up in her brain. She's got a bonafide neurological disorder. It is what it is.
Right now, I'm renewing my own life, making new friends, taking time out to read these threads, and getting a bit more space from my wife to do more of my own things. It's helping for now.
Well if it means anything..
Submitted by Jon on
Well if it means anything, my situation is exactly opposite. My head is filled with information that I can’t share with my partner, simply because I get a blank stare or she loses track of it because it is too technical or complicated or detailed etc. She is a pretty bright bulb, it’s she just lacks the curiosity for the abstract and pragmatically useless... much to my chagrin. She wants to talk to me about kids music lessons and puppies chewing things and the politics of the local school parents and citizens association and how to shave $20 of long list of insurance for everything under the sun that I never wanted in the first place….. and I’m a thousand miles away, much to her chagrin. I want to talk to her about recent discoveries in physics and genetics, how I learned to extract 3d data from aerial imagery and whatever weird and wonderful thing I may have learned that day. She is not interested. It’s not that I cannot discuss the pragmatic. It’s just that I really cannot spend hours chitty chatting endlessly about it. I have an aversion to small talk, mostly because I almost need to constantly pinch myself in order to stay focused on what the other person is saying so I don’t have those embarrassing “What are we talking about” moments mid conversation. My wife is constantly telling me she told me something when I honestly have zero recollection of it at all. I’m pretty sure she exploits that vulnerability to be honest.
My wife also doesn’t like to engage in anything seriously physically hard, intense or risky so at times outside the daily routine drudgery we could largely get away with sign language from the other end of the house.
Submitted by Steve04 on
My wife of 17 years also sets reminders, takes medication and I feel she’s made such great progress in the last few years. However, I still feel like there is so much more progress needed. Like you. I also don’t feel like breaking up the marriage is something I’m ready for. On the other hand I’m totally spent and can’t imagine living the rest of my life in the clutter and absent mindedness.
In our situation she’s agreed to see a counselor (at least the 4th time we’ve done this), but she’s exhausted with feeling like she’s on probation and one mistake from divorce. I’m also seeing my own counselor to cope on my own. I feel like it’s a 50% chance therapy works, but other than using reminders and other tricks, I’m uncertain what else your wife can do.
When u say something is amiss, what do u mean?
jon, it's good to get your
Submitted by ambre on
jon, it's good to get your perspective again. When you talk about being interested in physics etc., clearly, you have the capacity to focus and think analytically, it's just about different topics. In that sense, it seems more like differences in interests, rather than ADHD vs. non-ADHD conflict. I tend towards being interested in the sciences or complex matters, while my ADHD wife sounds more like your partner, as far as topics of conversation go. So, we all clearly run the gamut.
Steve04, wow, 17 years huh? Obviously, something makes you stay right? What is it?
My wife and I still have fun together, we laugh, we don't fight often, anymore, thank goodness. I nearly left her before, and sometimes I still fantasize about it. But at the end of the day, I try to remember all the good things. As for your wife seeing a professional, that's probably a lifelong need in some form for many people with ADHD, whether or not everyone recognizes or accepts that. As the partner, I sometimes see a therapist to deal with difficulties too.
The thing that is amiss... it's little things. Like certain comforting words when I'm down, feeling understood emotionally whether I'm celebrating an achievement or stressed because of a hard work day. Getting a kind word for a job well done after fixing something in the home. I mean, she does that, sometimes, after much training and having her reminders to do that. And sometimes, she forgets or it's just not there... that absence of understanding can feel like an emptiness loneliness. This is especially since my friends tend to be very attentive to how I feel, in contrast to my wife it seems. Like your relationship, things have improved, but sometimes something will happen, and it just serves as a painful reminder of her ADHD...
Empathy and praise
Submitted by Jon on
Yes, don't worry this is something I get in trouble for a LOT. My lack of empathy, my lack of appreciation of achievement and my lack of appropriate sensitivity to the situation at hand.
The thing is, I don’t see myself as lacking empathy, I mean I seriously do try and relate to others where empathy is the appropriate response. It’s just that I guess I misjudge where it is supposed to be appropriate. Also, I am not particularly used to receiving empathy because most of the time when we ADHD explain a situation we are in, we get either a blank and baffled look, or get the old well you bought it on yourself so don’t expect any sympathy/empathy from me. I am an affectionate person, so it’s not like I am a cold fish, more that the when and where’s of when it applies are a bit of a mystery.
Also, a sense of achievement, i.e that dopamine hit most people get from success. I don’t get it. I am not entirely sure if that is common with ADD, but I don’t understand the whole basking in the afterglow of success. Most of the time, I’m just glad to get whatever it is out of the way and to move onto the next thing. It’s not the destination that I’m driven by, but rather it’s the journey and the events that occur on the way. I tend to feel relief at completion time, not pride at success etc. Also I am extremely uncomfortable with praise myself, I don’t trust it and end up wondering what the person is actually getting at. SO I tend to not want it, and probably as a result am poor at giving it.
None of this means of course that I am not extremely proud of the achievements of my partner, or our children, It’s just that I am crap at expressing what is expected at the appropriate time.
I could tell you stories about inappropriate responses I may have had at sensitive moments that would make your head spin. In the interest of self-respect I won’t.
Rest assured however, if your wife is anything like me, she does sense and feel it, she just doesn’t quite get the cues as to when they apply, it’s not carelessness, simply unawareness of your emotional expectations/needs. Thing is, she probably has some with the way you relate to her? Maybe not but I know I do with mine, we are like different species at times struggling to find a common language!
great feedback jon
Submitted by ambre on
I appreciate the description of your experience. Sometimes it's hard to know that my wife feels empathy, though it's oddly mostly expressed towards animals rather than people. Like you said, it seems more like a disconnect between how she feels and being able to show it, or express it appropriately. One of our challenges has been to communicate with a common language, which in the past has often been a hit or miss. This is especially true for her. It was extremely frustrating originally, since she blamed me for our miscommunications... until she realized that she was having trouble with many other people too. It was a relief when she took responsibility for herself there.
You make a good point though about not always receiving empathy. I imagine you may have often been the butt of frustration and anger, when you don't meet the expectations of someone non-ADHD. It can go both ways.
I think because ADHD symptoms include impulsivity issues and limited ability to appreciate the long-term future, it makes sense that you're more attentive to the journey, rather than the destination. By the time you finally get to the finish line, yeah, I can see why it would be more of a relief for you. But having you spell it out personally helps me understand it differently. Thank you.
At the same time, my wife needs reassurance and celebration of her accomplishments, even though she has had to learn and still again be reminded, to do the same for me and others. That aspect has been hard. She's slowly recognizing that if she wants something from others, she needs to be able to also give it.
She's working on the social cues, always. It's a bit of lost in translation sometimes, but the effort is there. Your reminder of how hard it can be helps.
I appreciate the inside scoop, keep sharing! It helps me to soften to some of the challenges in my relationship.