Consistency =Expectation =Handcuff?!?!

My husband and I were having a random conversation yesterday and the subject of consistency came up.  He's been helping around at home quite a bit lately and I was thanking him for that.  When he asked what he could do to be more helpful, I said that to me the ultimate help is consistency.  I am always looking for things that I can get entirely off my radar because they are simply *his* to deal with. 

His face just fell, so I asked him why the word "consistency" seemed to have such a negative connotation to him, and he came up with the title quote.  He said Consistency causes Expectation and that after that, you are just handcuffed to that thing or that job.  He made it sound like a death knell. 

This is the point in a conversation when the old me would have completely attacked the selfishness of that argument, but I just didn't say anything and really let it soak in.  He asked if I understood what he meant, and I said that I thought so but that I am seeing it from the other side and the handcuffs are there too.  He asked what I meant, and I said if there are 20 weekly jobs that need to be done at home, and the partner who doesn't want the consistency of having a job all the time chooses 8 of them to randomly do as he sees them or they come up, you are certainly helping, but the opposite partner is *handcuffed* to all 20 jobs because they can't be left undone and she has no guarantees of what will be done by the opposite person.  She either has to specifically ask, do them all herself, or work around his random helping to get the rest done; but regardless of how she handles it, she has to have all of them on her radar.


This to me seems unreasonably biased in the favor of the person who doesn't want the responsibility.  He says he sees that point.  So we just sat silently taking this all in (still keeping with the calm disagreement skills we're working on--probably also helped that there was no real issue in mind, so it was an unemotional discussion. Though we knew the outcome would affect the result of our family meeting later in the evening).  He asked what I see as the solution, and since I see the solution as *suck it up and do it* and I couldn't exactly say THAT, I said that marriage requires certain things to get done and that it is every person in a family's responsiblity to see that they get done.   He agrees.  I say that I see no real difference in knowing you will be helping with *something* during your hours at home vs knowing those things will be *x,y, and z* if you can pick the items in either case and we can arrange it to fit into the free time available in either case.  I also mentioned that the jobs don't necessarily have to stay the same every week, if he wanted to claim different jobs at the weekly meeting every week, I can go for that.

Then came the issue I most detest..........which is what he most detests about what needs to be done around the doesn't stay done.  I mean I can't help that the bed has to be remade and dishes have to be rewashed and after you dust, things get dusty again.  I don't like it either, but it is LIFE.....what good does it do to kick against the realities of life?  I just said, "yeah that sucks doesn't it?" and didn't discuss it any further this time.

I ended up just saying that having someone responsible for the laundry for example, means that as I see laundry piling up, I know that is mine to handle and there is no point sitting around waiting for him to start doing it (hmm guess me being handcuffed to a job isn't a problem cause he doesn't TOUCH mine ), and when all the laundry is done, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I got that job done and done well.  He said he has no joy in seeing something that needs to be done and knowing it is on him to do it, but that there is a satisfaction in getting a job done.

I just left it as telling him the good job he's doing in staying on top of things has caused way less *fires* needing extra intention in addition to all the regular things coming in.   Because of that, we could designate a time period that he knew was all his to do nothing (this seems to be a major goal with him) if all the other items he's claimed are done.  

He apparantly doesn't even want as much time as I thought, cause I suggested Saturdays (which he gets home at 8:30am and we usually volunteer till noon) and he could have most of a day, but he doesn't want to mess with date night, and wants the evening after church on Sunday--which we aren't usually home till 5pm.  I said DEAL and we are going to try it this week.


Any insights into the logic of this thinking?  I guess I just think that every adult person knows that when you live in a home, there are things you have to do.  He's been out of his parent's house since he was 19, but he views taking care of a home as handcuffs?  Granted he wasn't much of a housekeeper on his own, but if you want to live in a sty no one says you have to get married.   I am not upset with him but I guess I am just baffled that this is how he views it.

I am also proud of him cause he came right in from work this morning and got working on his list of tasks.........INCLUDING the phone calls he usually procrastinates 1/2 the day on.


We have the same discussion regularly. We are partners in this family, the running of this house. Chores are not fun for me either but they need done. It is just a reality of owning a house, having a family, a spouse. He started by saying that he needed a clear schedule, a routine. That worked for a while. Then he said that routine and chores are too boring for someone with ADHD, that's why he loses interest and does not get it done. We are trying to figure out what would work best.

I have always been 'afraid'

I have always been 'afraid' of responsibility as far back as I can remember. I always thought of it as laziness until...well, until I realized it was something more. If, for example, someone asked me to commit myself to doing something for them every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and I KNEW they were depending on me, it would really envoke some kind of anxiety in me that I did not like or understand. Oddly, I do anything and everything my kids want/need me to do...and a lot of the time my husband (and sometimes my family) but that just comes naturally. However, if my sister asked me to watch her kids/help her clean her house/mow her yard  (just examples) I would agree because I hate to tell her no, but I would stress about it and obsess over it until it was done. I would take no satisfaction in it either..just feel relief that it was done and not something I had to add to my list of things to 'worry about and remember to do'. It really can stress me to the point that I cannot sleep sometimes, when I know someone is depending on me. I even stress over being able to be at school when I am supposed to be. It isn't that I don't want to do anything other than my 'normal' stuff I do for my family, but it does add to my level of stress when someone asks me to be responsible for something 'routine' or that requires me having to do something 'extra' consistently. I don't have ADHD...but I do feel I can probably relate to what your husband is feeling. It doesn't seem he's unwilling to help, just doesn't want to say "yes, I will do it every week without fail and without you reminding me". It means he's setting himself up for possible failure and disappointing you.

To be honest, I get where you're coming from...but if I could say "do X, Y, and Z" and that is all it took to get it done, I would be happy to remind someone around here. The help would be so welcome that I would even make a list and post it on the fridge...whatever it took to make it easier on me. It truly beats having to remember EVERYTHING all by yourself and having no help at all. If it helps, that's the 'other side'.

Also, this may be like asking

Also, this may be like asking a leopard to change its spots...maybe this is one of those things you will just never 'agree' on or understand about him, but he has a right to feel the way he does and since his ADD is never going to be 'cured' it may just be that you have to accept that 'consistent' isn't something he'll master easily, if ever. Not that you cannot expect things from him, but maybe this is just one of those that may be harder than the rest. It does seem he's come a long way.

Appreciate your view, Sherri

If, for example, someone asked me to commit myself to doing something for them every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and I KNEW they were depending on me, it would really envoke some kind of anxiety in me that I did not like or understand.

This is pretty much my life....ppl asking me to do certain things every week at certain times.  And then they change them on me and want me to do certain things at a different time.  If I had anxiety over it, I'd never be able to get out of bed, but I do appreciate that we're all different. 

The most frustrating part to me is the ppl who regularly call the morning of our appointment and want to change it to a different day.  Sometimes I say, "sorry this is your slot and if you aren't available then, you have to wait until next week".  I HATE ppl who regularly try to change my schedule, but I have long suspected that for some of them, it is the schedule itself that makes them feel anxious.  They'd rather I help them *sometime this week* with no set time.  But that is simply impossible for me with all I have to do.  And I don't volunteer specifically with ADD ppl....though I have suspicions about some :)

My question is, if your sister asked you to watch her kids Tuesday at 8-12, you would be stressed about it even it was the one time thing?  Cause I don't think that is his thing at all.......he LOVES to do things for ppl and he volunteers the same as me so his regular schedule is pretty much like mine above and work of course is basically certain vendors certain days though he has a smattering of *once every 3 weeks* or *once every 10 days* that keeps it changeable for him.  It is the changeable that seems to throw him off with that though. Maybe he is just more stressed because he has busier weeks, but honestly whenever things change, it seems to throw him for a loop.  And I think I've posted here before about how stressful he can be to drag out of *vacation mode*.  It is weeks before life feels normal to me sometimes.

What if your sister called you up every Sunday and asked you to watch the kids on the following Tuesday at 8-12, would that make it better or worse?  Cause the second thing seem to be like what this compromise is going to be like here.  He knows he is going to help, he knows when he is going to have time to do it so it is just a matter of deciding what in which slot, and honestly I will be stunned if he ever chooses a different job, but he doesn't want every Tuesday 8-12 to *handcuff* him.

He has these other things where he wants the illusion of being spontaneous, but honestly he is TERRIBLE with true spontaneity he ends up doing nothing at all and is depressed about it.  Again I just see it as kicking against reality, but I can live with it.  I just think *pretending* anything is a waste of time.  I feel we are all better off when we accept what is.

It doesn't seem he's unwilling to help, just doesn't want to say "yes, I will do it every week without fail and without you reminding me". It means he's setting himself up for possible failure and disappointing you.

Yes this is it in a nutshell.  I get his reluctance......really.  BUT He has been asking me throughout our marriage what he can do to help more especially when I am stressed.  The answer is ALWAYS consistency.  That was how this convo started too, with him asking what he could do to be even more helpful.  It is consistency for me......that is the answer.  Don't ask if you don't want to do it is my position I guess.

To be honest, I get where you're coming from...but if I could say "do X, Y, and Z" and that is all it took to get it done, I would be happy to remind someone around here. The help would be so welcome that I would even make a list and post it on the fridge...whatever it took to make it easier on me.

I know.  Many mates who aren't getting help would be thrilled with any help at all.  But the having to ask for help or remind all the time puts everything ultimately on me (with him *helping me* with it) and I really resent that implication.  Years ago another poster and I had a thread on this.  This is not 1952!  We've done the fridge great for about 1-2 weeks and then he stops noticing it is there.  I am working on a new one just for one week at a time that I will change every week as he chooses new jobs (not--they will be the same ones) but maybe I'll change the colors of the list or something about it so that he will continue to notice it.


Have you ever determined the cause of your anxiety?  Cause maybe that is something to pursue more about my husband...maybe it is some type of anxiety?  His mom and sister both have anxiety disorders, but I don't see signs of that in him.  Maybe I just don't know what to look for.

I think it is that I just

I think it is that I just like my 'plate' to have certain things on it and when things are added it throws me off. Doctor's appts aren't something I would stress about. If we had a counseling session every week it wouldn't be like I would stress and worry and lose sleep. But if say my kid's teacher asked me to volunteer every Tuesday at 10 a.m. I would not want to but would probably say yes and then be very anxious about it. Even if I never had anything to do on Tuesday at 10 a.m. So, yes, whether I knew what time each week or whether it was a one time deal, I would stress about it. To clarify, when I say 'stress' I mean there is probably a certain amount of 'dread' (handcuffs) and then a certain amount of anxiety (what if something else comes up and I can't do it!!!) and I feel that maybe this has to do with my son and feeling like I HAVE to be available for him 100% of the daughter too, but not to the extent with my son who has seizures that are difficult to control and I never know when that phone call is coming saying "get to the school, he's fallen and busted open his head" (it has happened twice at school, numerous times at home). I don't know the source of it...other than that being a possible reason I don't like to commit myself to anything. I even enjoy going to lunch with friends IMMENSELY but almost every single time I make plans to do it I am compelled to call and cancel at the last minute...every.single.time. I talk myself out of it, go, and end up having a GREAT time. I can stay close to home and be available for my kids, so I'm not sure if that 'excuse' is valid either. It was a huge source of anxiety for me when I first started school...but I carefully plan my schedule around when my kids are in school and keep my cell phone right in front of me in class.

Oh, another example I thought of was that I don't like to plan anything for supper either...I would rather just cook spontaneously if I am in the mood and want to as opposed to 'promising' everyone something for supper and not being able to deliver. I recently promised to make my nephew a family favorite, tuna spaghetti (old Sicilian family recipe) and it took 3 failed attempts before I finally get it together enough to make it for him (flat tire one day threw my whole day off, had to get groceries another and threw my whole day off). Of course then he didn't show up to get it until the next day. LOL

I don't know...I can't speak for your husband...this may have nothing to do with ADHD...maybe I have it...maybe it is anxiety...maybe it is something totally unrelated. All I know is that I can completely relate to the handcuffs scenario. It isn't horrible...but I do like for my "outside" life to remain as responsibility free as possible. I was not always this way...not sure when it started.


I can kind of relate too. If someone speaks for me, plans for me, or makes decisions for me... Or if i am forced to keep to a schedule.... I cant breathe. I want to feel i have the "freedom" to choose when and how things get done... So to speak. Even though the idea of a schedule is more efficient, i would feel restricted in some way and i dont like to feel restricted in any way and i dont like to feel like i have many expectations on me. (we dont have any set schedule) but everything gets done, or it will wait a couple days... But it still gets done because i know i will do it... I know it kind of sounds like im a slacker. I just feel that i will do it and it needs to get done and dh doesnt really seem to care when it happens and i dont seem to have an issue with him either AS WE BOTH do stuff. I do feel really bad for those that dont pull their weight. It must really weigh on the other spouse and i dont mean to speak for them or defend their partners with my "issues".

Could it be this simple?

Sherri, as always your posts are just full of nuggets of good stuff.... this particular day, something just jumped out at me that I had to share.  In one place you write:  I don't know the source of it -- it being anxiety, stress or dread of certain commitments you've made.  But before that you wrote, talking about a "for instance" request/demand someone made:  I would not want to but would probably say yes   I just like my 'plate' to have certain things on it.  In my view, that is a completely "normal" reaction to taking on more than you can handle, particularly in light of the many potential unexpected events you deal with.         Next: human characteristics are on a continuum, like those rating scales "not like me at all" all the way to "very much like me".  So (Finally!) here is my theory.  Everybody has their own "plate" size -- the amount or type of stuff they can carry and get done day-to-day.  Perhaps ADDers don't have very big plates.  And my guy is unable to say no to requests from people outside the family.  Work, friends, acquaintances, strangers, people referred to him by acquaintances of strangers -- (Call this guy!  He's amazing!)    Chores do not fit on his plate.  I feed them directly to him from my plate, one bite at a time.  I relate to comments above about not wanting to carry this particular load of knowing what needs to be done and asking for "help".  I've struggled with that my whole life.  But the truth is, asking for help chore by chore gets stuff done, and asking him to "be responsible" for certain chores does not get stuff done.   I try to equate it to this:  My guy is taller and stronger than I am.  For this reason he is "better" than I am at doing certain things.  I don't feel bad about myself for relying on him for things that need height or strength.  He does not resent being "used" to supply height and strength when it is required.   Conversely, I am more organized and disciplined than my guy.  He should not feel bad about himself for relying on me for things that require organization and discipline.  And I try not to resent him for being "used" to supply organization and discipline when it is required.  Because of ADD he is no more able to "be" organized than I am able to "be" taller.   In the culture I grew up in, the "executive functions" are signs of morality and good character.  Now that I know about ADD, I have to let go of those judgments.  Or I can keep them and be miserable.

Household Stuff...

I've got the ADD in this house and we have always divided the workload. I personally like the locked down jobs because I like a steady schedule. A long time ago we divided up the main household chores and we each do little pickup jobs as we see them. It is not always 50/50 for us, but is any couple always doing chores in a 50/50 manner? If my DW wants something done that is not a regular item, she'll ask me on one of our workdays and I'll work it into my agenda. I do need my unwind time each night after the kids are in bed, around 9:30pm. I need a little decompression time so I can go to sleep. Work around the house is not an issue at YYZ's house :) We have a few issues, of course, but this is not one of them.



Strangely, it hasn't been an issue here either for months

Strangely, it hasn't been an issue here either for months and months, I guess that is why the attitude about being consistent is so baffling to me.  Also because really he HAS been fairly consistent as compared to how he started.  Honestly, we're going to *pick* jobs at the beginning of the week, and I will be stunned if he ever picks different ones.  EVERY time we discuss household chores, he chooses the same ones, he just doesn't want them to be *his*.

I can live with it.  If he is convincing himself he is *free* from home responsibility because he only has the outside on his plate all the time, I don't mind, but I have to admit it is ridiculous to me.  That is ok, he thought it was ridiculous that all the women in my family have *royal wedding gatherings*.  Get together around 3:30am, have tea, and scones, and blah balh--we do it for all of them.  So we all have our ridiculous stuff :)

I'm like you, XYZ, I want the steady schedule and to know exactly what I need to fit in.  We divided the chores up even before we got married, but he was always asking to redivide, and he didn't stick to any division.  I didn't know he had ADD at the time, but when he wouldn't do the dishes after I cooked even though that was the agreement, it hurt my nerves waiting and waiting and waiting for him to do them.  Sometimes he never did them at all and then cooked the next night and just left all the dishes to me........this kind of thing was the start of my anger at his ADD behaviors.

I don't expect 50/50 either, I guess I'd just like a little more realism in his attitude about what needs to be done and what we each need to be able to relax about what needs to be done.  It isn't a big I said he's been helping a lot, but I just found his consistency =expectation =handcuffs to be shocking.


Maybe your spouse just made one of those ADD "Over the Top, Dramatic or Shocking" reaction statements??? I still do them sometimes...

I also admit in the Very Early Days of our relationship we had different household priorities, I was not a slob, at all as I hate chaos, but make the bed???? (Old YYZ) Who's going to see it? I'm just getting back into it tonight... I understand now, somewhat, so that is hers. And she is usually last out of the bed which is a determiner of who usually makes it. This example also gives me a chance to do a little something for her if she has to rush out one morning, I'll make it because I know she hates leaving it un-made because it is some reflection on her as a home maker.

She is VERY hard on herself. WE have the same kitchen rules you describe. If you cook, you don't clean. The funny thing is if I cook I usually clean anyway because I'm a bit OCD in the kitchen. It is Way Easier to clean right away as opposed to stacking everything and doing it later. I have always hated a messy sink, my mom set this standard for me, so I usually start in the kitchen, then roll on from there. Too bad nobody in my house can figure out that if you rinse off all food stuff right after the meal and "At Least" stack neatly in the drainer side, the person who loads the dishwasher does not have to deal with scraping nasty dried-up food residue. (Usually me). Oops... Sorry for the rant ;) I won't even start on how to load the dish washer :D 

Maybe, as suggested by Sherri I believe, he is a bit wary of being Solely Responsible for something, then having a bad ADD week and dropping the ball. Who isn't worried about messing up something important AND when it is all on you. It's great that he helps around the house because it seems that many of us ADDer Guys don't feel the need to be bothered by the day to day stuff. Even before diagnosis I put it together that my DW works just as hard as me during the day and things still need to be done at home, so why would she have to do it all???


XYZ that is one of the things that makes it clear that you

XYZ that is one of the things that makes it clear that you are one of the good guys!!  Even pre diagnosis, you were able to look at a situation and see an equitable solution that wasn't entirely in your own favor.  My husband was able to do this too (not always great on the follow through) and he is the one that early in our experiencing ADD related problems, went and found the diagnosis.

The house stuff is just such a no brainer to me.  If you are both outside the home for a considerable amount of time during the day, the obviously both of you need to help inside the home.  I guess some families don't want/need that distinction.  And then there is the people like me who desperately want to know exactly what our mate is going to be taking on so that we can get our part done.......and my husband desperately doesn't want to be handcuffed to anything. 

Thanks, Aspen :) [YYZ a.k.a. xyz :]

"(not always great on the follow through)"... I was not That great before Adderall :) When I Do handcuff myself to something, I take it over totally...


Actually it probably really makes sense

your *at home* life is really complicated with a child who has health challenges and a husband who is at best under-treated for his ADD.  In that case, I can see where you really need your outside life to be as calm as possible.

In considering that issue, it could because there is so much on my plate outside of our home that I really want our home life to go as smoothly as possible. 

Also I was thinking of Gardner's analogy of the plate.  I think if that is the case that I, in general, have a pretty big plate.  The problem when you have a big plate is that other people seem to love to try to put things onto it.  My husband is good about not asking me to take on his stuff (not even errands very frequently) even when he really really should--I have sorted out 8 months of invoicing issues in roughly 1.5 days, but for other people the addage about "if you want something done, ask a busy person" is very much alive and well in our culture.

I have a couple times overloaded my plate.  I can distinctly remember a handful of times since I've been married.  Once I just broke down crying because I didn't see how I could fit this one last late in the evening thing in.......I knew my husband couldn't help cause he was working over an hour away and my family was out of town.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, when I broke down crying it was on the phone with my husband, and he really inconvenienced himself to do it for me.  He ended up going about 4 hours out of his way to finish where he was, do my job (over an hour away in another direction), before finally being able to come back home.   That was probably in our first year of marriage, and made me feel so safe and taken care I really had a soft place to fall.  It still gives me the warm fuzzies to think of it, maybe because that situation is so rare in my life, but I remember how much he really enjoyed being part of the solution--didnt' even seem to mind how inconveniencing it was, though of course I felt terribly guilty about it.


To be honest, he still comes through like that when I hit serious overwhelm, but it is hard because I can take on so much without getting to that point, that he tends to just sail along with his priorities until I start to crash.  It is only then that he clues in to what is going on, but once he does he is always part of the solution.  We need to be better about keeping each other included in where we are emotionally in a way that doesn't overwhelm our partner, but does give them the opportunity if they have the ability to help.