Coping with extreme negativity in ADHD spouse

Hi all,

This is my first time posting on this forum.  I finally registered instead of just reading because I need someone to talk to besides my family and friends.  It's not fair to dump on them all the time, although they have tried many times over the years to help me.  The recommendation from them for years has been to leave him, even though they like him as a person.  I haven't called it quits yet for a variety of reasons, but I'm seriously reconsidering now because I'm not getting any younger and I honestly feel like things will never change.  In fact, they only seem to be getting worse instead of improving.  I read all of your posts and wonder how the heck some of you are managing to keep going with your spouses or significant others when I just feel like giving up.  Because I find some of his behavior almost unbearable after so many years of it now.  Many of you seem to have situations as bad or worse than I have.  How can we (you) even stay in love with people who literally drive us nuts so much of the time, much less coexist peacefully or live worthwhile lives in these circumstances?

My husband of 15 years was diagnosed with ADHD for the first time two months ago.  He is now on Adderall as well as Lexapro, is seeing a good counselor weekly, and has laid off drinking (not sure how long that will last - it seems the Adderall reduced his alcohol cravings, knock on wood).  However, he is still perpetually miserable about almost every single aspect of his life, and has been that way for a long time, although I'd say he is getting worse as he gets older.  He hates every job he has ever had, including the current one.  He has spent years trying to "figure out" what he wants to do for a job, to no avail.  He can't stand the town we live in, the culture here, or any of the people (he did the same thing in the town we lived in 8 years ago, where we lived when we met).  We own a house we're upside down on, so we can't move.  I have one daughter from a previous marriage, but none with him.  We have many pets we love a lot, one of the only things that still binds us together.  I have a really good job here, he does not (but never did anyway).  He very rarely says anything nice or complimentary to me and is rarely pleased or happy about anything in life.  Our reason for marrying was basically the time we spent outdoors together and shared interest in politics, music, and the environment.  Over time these things have diminished in importance.  He was kind and affectionate at the very beginning, but now is distant emotionally, sexually blah (I do try to stay fit and take care of myself)-- all the other things I read from some of you here.   I think the sex issues are complicated and stem from resentment on both sides, as well as his ADHD inability to put any effort into things.  He is neat and clean, he helps with our pets and helps keep the chores up, and he helps pay the bills.  That's about it.  I would have liked to get some of our old bonded feelings back, but no matter how much I try to talk to him about this, a day or two will go by and it's back to the same old thing.  He is literally not interested or capable of understanding what it means to have a marriage.  And yet, he doesn't leave!  I feel he is obsessed with his unhappiness, to the point that he cannot function as a partner in a relationship the majority of the time.  I also feel like my life is slipping away from me and that he only wants me around as a security blanket and a place to take out his frustration at his ADHD, his job failures, and his dissatisfaction with life.  I call myself the "human TP".  I tried for years to coach him and support him (different jobs, educational goals).  Nothing worked, and now the counselor is trying the same thing.  Good luck to him, I couldn't do it, although back then my husband wasn't on Adderall and wasn't aware he had ADHD.  I am constantly losing my temper with my spouse and am unhappy and stressed out beyond belief, more than I have been for years.  I don't like the person I've become as a result of this situation and I don't like him about 85% of the time.  It's terrible to say all that, but that's how bad things have gotten.

Does anyone else have to deal with the ultra-negativity and the blaming?  I assume it is an ADHD coping mechanism that might be commonplace.  Is there really a way to live with this and be happy, for either one of us?  And am I right to think nothing is ever going to change, and should I just face up to that as a given and make my decision based on that sad reality.

Lise

Ok similar tale, getting better

First of all, I'm so sorry you are going through this. And your husband too. My husband also has had periods where he refused to see any of the good things and hyper focused on the bad. I was his sounding board and he just wouldn't shut up about his myriad of complaints. And they were all somewhat valid, but complaining doesn't fix anything and I sure didn't need to hear about it all the time. Especially when he wasn't doing the basic things to make things better. So after way too long I signed him up with a counselor and got him a new psychiatrist. Diagnosed with depression as well as AdHD and an anxiety disorder. Been working on dialing in meds for last 2 years. Mood leveler in addition to adderall helped. But what is making a big difference is a new counselor that is more focused on the coaching as well as therapy end. He has really liked listening to some books on tape, Buddhist Boot Camp in particular. 

I can not emphasize enough how impt it is for your husband to want to get better for his own sake. Depression can immobilize and make change really difficult. I too supported my spouse, trying to make him happy and encourage him, but it was to no avail. He didn't really start making an effort until I shared with him that I was thinking of leaving but really didn't want to, but couldn't live like this forever. That I didn't want him to be perfect, but I needed him to be the man I married.  I recognized and admitted my role, enabling, unhelpful communicating styles, etc, and have been trying to do what I can.

It can be a long process, this change. Can you return to doing some of what you bonded over? That helped us too. Going hiking has been huge for us. Natural beauty, fresh air, endorphins can not hurt. Good luck.

Hiking and riding, getting

Hiking and riding, getting outside together, all used to help.  But the last few times we went out, he complained during the hike (the view was too close to the town, not remote enough or wild enough as it was where we used to live), and I had to tell him to please stop because he was ruining our outing.  Like I said earlier, he is getting worse instead of better.  I wonder if this is the pattern of ADHD, or is it just him?  Can it really be counseled out of him?  I have told him that I don't want to stay with him just be dumped on for the next 20 years.  It's almost like he cannot function normally in order to just stop and straighten up once and for all.  In his head, all his complaints are justified, and he simply cannot keep any of it to himself.  It is truthfully a scapegoating sort of disease.  His failures can't be tolerated, so they have to be blamed.  Everything in his life that is not exactly as he would want has to be blamed on something or some place or situation.  The things that are good are ignored or downplayed.  There's no making do, accepting the bumps of life and working to change what he can.  His psychologist has actually told him to stop complaining to me and e-mailing me all day with his complaints.  He is so desperate to get a better job, to "decide" what to do now that he is on Adderall, etc., that nothing else really matters.  It just drains every ounce of happiness and energy right out of me to listen to him, to hear this stuff all day and all night.  I'm not exaggerating-- it's incredibly depressing.  With the economy the way it is, and the fact that he is 45, not 25; AND the fact that he changes his mind every few days about what he wants to do-- I don't know, I can't help him, nor can I deal with it anymore.  I tried for years to get him to figure out what he wanted to do for a job (before he was diagnosed), where he could retrain, all of that.  He's a smart underachiever who is very unhappy with himself.   I however am such a basket case from all of this that I just feel like I need to focus on my own wellbeing, not his.  I feel very lonely and would like an adult companion to enjoy life with.  This whole thing about the non-ADHD spouse excusing every insane thing they do under the guise of ADHD is just hard for me to accept.  My husband is just so compulsively negative about everything (the wind is blowing!  It's not as sunny here as where we used to live! The people are not his type!  No job opportunities around here!  It's boring!  We're upside down on the house!)  Although we live in a beautiful area on the coast and have no trouble making the house payment as long as he works, and we're both healthy, not poor, have a nice house, a couple of friends, our pets, etc.  When I finally get upset and lose my temper , he'll stop, but only for a day or two.  When the spat dies down and things go back to normal, it will all start again.  He says he's "just telling me how things are."  I say that I don't want to hate every aspect of my life, as he seems to do.  The world is hard enough as it is.  As long as we're here we need to make the best of it and be grateful for what we have.  I've told him to apply for jobs out of the city, to live elsewhere, to plan to save up and move.  Then he clams up, because that is too much for him to do, too challenging.  Or else he really doesn't want to go.  Beats me.

I read that some ADHDs do this, but I don't think they all do.  I don't know what symptoms manifest themselves in each person and situation.  Before Adderall, he could never remember what he read or hold a lucid conversation.  He would space out.  He had little motivation.  All that's improving, but the negativity is still there, and it's absolutely overwhelming-- worse than ever.  I guess I am despondent right now and not in a good frame of mind to think that there is any chance of any real improvement.  He had a very negative and mean father also, although his mom was sweet (she passed away last year).  Maybe the negativity is something he learned from his dad, or inherent in his genes, as well as being a by-product of an ADHD brain.  I see on the forums where lots of people cope with some pretty crazy stuff.  I feel like I don't want to just cope; I want it to stop, and I don't know if that will ever really happen.  

Sorry this is such a long post.  I have a lot of frustration inside.  I know he does too, but nothing I have ever done seems to have helped him.  The psychologist says it has to come from within him, not from me.  Thanks for reading/listening.

 

i know how you feel

I have spent months angry about how crappy an environment he created every time he opened his mouth. And heaven forbid he ask how my day was. Or worse yet, if I pointed out how he might have avoided the complaint of the day or ideas on how to fix it. So I kept reading the books and going to my psychologist where I could complain. And finally I got it. I can not make him change. I can praise the rare good behavior and treat him how I want to be treated. I also started treating myself better. Which is really impt. Doc also suggested getting out and doing stuff I enjoy. And I'm trying to do that. Also, when he starts complaining tell him that you don't like living in the toxic environment. Talk to your counselor about it. Repeat. Often. Nicely. He is now learning to monitor himself. You can also suggest he come up with a solution instead of a complaint. And I had to really let go of the bitterness of those months. Do take care of yourself. He can't make you happy any more than you can make him happy. Happy is a state of mind.

Those are good points,

Those are good points, thanks.  I have the name of a counselor to try for myself, but I haven't called her yet.  I am going to do that tomorrow.  I need regular coping tips of my own until I decide what to do long-term.  My mom keeps telling me to live my life and not worry what he says or does.  I think I have difficulty with that because I really relied on his companionship, and now I don't like being with him, because he has nothing good to say!  Toxic is about right.  I want the old, nice guy back, and who knows where he is.  I feel like he is gone for good, and for the time being I only have myself to rely on.  I have asked him for solutions, by the way.  He admits he has none.  I would support him in whatever field of work he wanted to pursue, if he'd actually make a decision and stick with it.

Good luck to you as well, I agree that being good to yourself is a good idea.  I will think about all of some of this some more.  Just so down today, and it was nice weather and I just felt like caving in.  I stay out of his counseling sessions, other than one joint visit and one e-mail to his counselor afterwards.  I feel like I shouldn't be muddying those waters too much.  I hate the thought that he can't change, though.  Seems to me that everyone changes over their lifetimes, for good and for bad.  We just never know which way things are going to tilt. 

Excusing everything

I am at the end of my tether being expected to excuse everything negative and hurtful he yells into my face because he wants me to make allowances for him eg his ADD. I had hoped joining and reading here would help but i am full of despair that my life will stay as miserable as this for as long as i am with him. My 1st post, so short.

What is expected of you Morrigan

You are not expected to excuse everything negative and hurtful. (I know, I was taught that I should be humble, nice, serving, supportive too - but so were black slaves to the  plantation masters) He does not get to yell without repurcusions.  We get to be angry, hurt, and defensive just like everyone else. We get to have personalities, feelings, emotions, dreams, successes and a will of our own.  You are in victim mode.  I was in victim mode for too many years of my life.  Show your family how to respond to someone who is being hurtful to them.  It is not selfish to be proud of who you are and to protect yourself and your loved ones.  The work you can do for yourself is to try to remember what made you fulfilled at one time and walk toward that with confidence that you ARE expected to life YOUR life to the fullest.

Do not give your SELF away to someone who does not care for you.

Yelling in your face

Let's step back from ADHD for a bit...

A spouse who is "yelling in my face" is simply being rude.  It does not matter one whit WHY he is yelling in your face other than "diagnosing" it can help point to the best solution.  If the yeller has ADHD, that solution might well be to treat the ADHD impulsivity (if that's what's underneath the yelling.)  If the yelling is from a non-ADHD spouse (often is) then I make the assumption that the yeller is more in control of his/her responses.  The solution is to step back and reassess who you are and how you want to behave (more respectfully) then do it.

ADHD is a reason for past behaviors - in this case the yelling may be an impulse control issue.  Or it might be total frustration and anger at feeling "unheard" by you in your battle over ADHD symptoms.  Or it might be something else TBD.  In any event, ADHD is simply not an excuse for future continuations of bad behavior.

Yelling is bad behavior. ADHD happens (in this case) to probably be behind it, so provides the key to change.  Not an excuse.

Your life doesn't have to stay full of despair, but your husband needs to be exposed to these ideas so he can start to move past his denial.  After that, HUGE progress can be made.  But you - on this forum or not - can't make the changes for him.  You may want to consider my course - it's designed to get people thinking differently about their situation.

Negativity and ADHD

The negativity is not part of ADHD.  In fact, some of the most relentlessly upbeat people I know (think Rick Green of Totally ADD) have ADHD.

Your husband just got diagnosed and it sounds as if the medication is the first step in changing directions...see if you can hang in there for a while longer.  Particularly if his therapist is good, some progress may be on the horizon.  This is a tough time, and living with that negativity must be hellish.

That said, I want to bring something to your attention which you may not wish to hear.  You wrote earlier about how one of your defense mechanisms is to take a dismissive "whatever, dude" attitude and to put him down - i.e. not listen to anything he has to say.  This form of invalidation is completely toxic to the relationship and can do nothing except make matters worse.  You can stay disengaged from his negativity without putting him down as you are doing now.  (Note - every time you dismiss him like this you - arguably the most important person in his life right now - tell him he is worthless, adding to his childhood problems.  How do you expect him to move past them when they are reinforced daily?)

Instead, validate him - affirm his opinion without agreeing with him.  You might say "I hear that you don't like that, but I don't think I can help you fix that problem" or "I know that you are really unhappy about our living situation, but since we are underwater we can't move right now" or "I hear that you don't like this hike.  Is there a different path you would like to take next time?"  You can also say "I hear that you are wildly unhappy right now, but feel your therapist is the best person to help you with this.  Only you can solve your unhappiness.  In the meantime, I request that you share your unhappiness with the therapist rather than me because it's really bringing me down."  You can even say "I know you are unhappy.  I really feel for you because it must suck to feel that way.  But I'm unwilling to join you in that unhappiness, so please see if you can find some more upbeat topics to talk with me about.  You can talk with your therapist about your misery."

In all of those examples you VALIDATE his unhappiness, even if you don't like it.  You demonstrate that you HEAR him, even though you are unwilling to solve his problems for him (and not capable of doing it, either.  He has to solve his own problems.)  You have the ability to stay disengaged with his problem but can show some empathy (must be AWFUL to live like that!)

Doing this will help you even more than it helps him because you'll start to feel better about yourself.  Instead of putting your husband down you'll be acting in a respectful manner - something you can be proud of.

You may say "I've tried that before..."  Okay.  But that doesn't justify being cruel to him, which is what you are currently being.  Or, as my grandmother used to say - "two wrongs don't make a right."

Validate his unhappiness?

Thank you for your comments. I can appreciate where you are coming from as a therapist. However, in the practical real world, the old adage of "two wrongs don't make a right" is way too simplistic in my opinion for an adult, intimate relationship involving an ADHD person. Honestly, it seems a bit naive. I'm not trying to be rude, and I do truly appreciate your comments. However, in my experience, VALIDATING my husband's every unhappiness and asking him if he would please take a different path next time is co-dependent, too contrived, and would not do one thing to improve the situation at that time, or in the future, in my opinion.

I acknowledge that when I dismiss his rants, roll my eyes at him or say, "whatever Dude," I'm sure it does, in fact, belittle him or shame him and feed his previous hurts. But, I do not believe it is "cruel" by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, quite the opposite. I think it is my responsibility as his wife and somebody who loves him and wants him to do well in the world to make sure he understands that certain behaviors are unacceptable and will be met with disdain. There are times when he SHOULD feel ashamed by his behavior, and sending him visible cues of disgust regarding his behavior on this matter or that, helps socialize him when it's warranted, because I'm showing him what others think, but won't show or tell him. By sending him flagrant, unmistakable, physical cues that tell him he's behaving in a repugnant manner, I alert him to the fact that he's out of line. If I don't do it, he does not stand a chance of ever getting the message or ever growing beyond a particular way of expressing himself. I'm teaching him what nobody else would. In life, when he goes off on a rant or gets all worked up and negative about something trivial, his friends, co-workers and other members of his life would not typically respond to him in a way that he can know that he's being over-the-top. If I don't send him the clear message, then he will never understand how other people are perceiving him, and he will not understand his lack of success in those relationships or others. Honestly, I think it's cruel NOT to show him real feelings of disgust/dismissive/disrespect when he behaves in a socially unacceptable way, because he truly does not know. His intuition and ability to read others is extremely fragmented. So, I have to work with him and make SURE that he gets the message.

Placating him and responding to some of his infractions in a robotic fashion, by asking him if he could please consider a different path next time, would not draw his attention or grow his understanding of how poor his reaction is at that time. In my experience, people (all people, not just the ADHDers I know) either run to pleasure or run away from pain. I try as much as I can, to encourage my husband to grow, and run to pleasure and good times. However, sometimes pain is an important element involved in growth and improvement. Dismissing or shaming him overtly is a clear path to help him learn that his behavior is unacceptable at that moment, and that laying his rage at my feet, over something silly, will be a dead end for him. Since I do not dismiss him or shame him when he's not being negative and irrational, and am constantly pointing out his successes and things I love and appreciate about him, he KNOWS that he has stepped over the line when I react in a demeaning way to him, and it works much better than asking him if he could please consider taking a different path next time, ever would or could.

I truly believe that sending him dismissive signals or physical cues helps my husband. What helps him, helps me and us as a couple. I want to be real with my husband, not scripted because I want our relationship to be real. He gains intuition and a better understanding of physical cues as messages that he can use to better interact with everybody, not just me. And although my physical cues and messages to him are disrespectful, they convey to him that I do not respect a specifically targeted behavior only, not him as a person overall. We have discussed it many times, and he is secure in my love and respect for him as a person, but that his efforts to unload anger on me in a hostile and explosive way, will not get him anywhere good.

Having said all of that, I do believe that my tactic can only work for couples where the ADHD party understands and believes that his partner does love, respect, and appreciate him overall. There has to be enough good in the relationship to offset the necessary disrespectful or dismissive messages given by the non-ADHD party. I don't mean to contradict your comments, but conducting a relationship where one or more members is ADHD, involves real, direct, and sometimes harsh communication. It does not seem realistic to me, at least in my marriage, to be so sterile, robotic and scripted. It does not seem to respect the non-ADHD parties need to be an actual person, and it seems to place an unbalanced amount of burden on the non-ADHDer to always be so detached and in logical control of words and emotions. I personally, don't even want to be so in control and detached. I want to experience and express real feelings in a way that conveys the message that my husband needs to receive. I have noticed on this site that there are repeated expressions of non-ADHDer resentment about having to always be the one who has it 'all together' and takes so much energy and effort in expressing everything in a detached, non-emotional way. I don't operate in my relationship that way, and I don't want to. I don't resent my husband for having to be the one that is so careful in selecting my words. I love my husband and he knows it, but I am a person too, and I have a right to my feelings too. Since my husband and I both feel a great deal of love and respect in our marriage overall (13 years and going strong), my approach has been very successful in my relationship. That's not to say things are always rosey... they aren't. It's constant work.... but it's worth it. My two cents....

Best,

CA

carathrace's picture

No, validate him

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.  In my opinion, it would be an extraordinary human, or animal, who could hear disdain, contempt, disrespect, and shaming words and be able to differentiate that this tone, these words were meant to put down their ACTIONS, not take them in as a judgment on who they are.  Does it make you, ADHD Surrounded, want to change when people talk to you that way?  Do you think your philosophy would work on children and pets as well?  Do you think if we all talked down to our ADHD spouses the way you do, we would be more successful in getting them to act the way we want them to?

I don't think Melissa's suggestions are sterile and robotic.  I think they are respectful, and call the ADHD spouse to a higher level of communication by setting a higher tone.  I don't think shaming EVER works.  I can't think of one circumstance where anyone was shamed and became a better person for it.

Maybe my case is unique, but

Maybe my case is unique, but I doubt it. In answer to your questions:

1. If I have behaved inappropriately, and my actions are met by contempt, shame or disrespect, yes... I would change my behavior in the future. I don't like the feeling, so I would try not to re-create circumstances that would elicit that response.

2. In working with my nine year old son, who has ADHD, my husband and I employ a philosophy of natural and logical consequences. The premise of our philosophy in helping our son is that the punishment should relate to the infraction. Therefore, depending on the behavior I am trying to curtail or remove, the consequences my son earns are along the lines of video game privileges revoked, early bed-time, etc... The rewards are more along the lines of extra video game time, later bed-time, a delicious treat or something like that. Revoking video games and imposing early bedtimes would not be an effective consequence to my husband, but the premise is the same, overall. The message is, "If you are rude, explosive, and cannot control negative outbursts, then the consequence will be a normal, human response of disdain." The fact of the matter is that my husband is NOT a child and he needs to know that I expect him to behave to a certain level.

I believe that my comments are not applicable to pets really. However, I do scold and shame my dog when she does something wrong, and reward her when she does something good (or nothing at all). It works very well well with her.

3. I do find it extremely effective to respond to my husband's disrespect with disrespect of my own.

If shaming somebody has never worked for you in curtailing a behavior or inciting an ADHD person to at least contemplate their actions and entertain that they might be out of line, then maybe you aren't doing it right. It works very well for me almost every time. The message is always received as I intend. After 13 years of marriage, it has proven one of THE MOST effective tactics to get his attention and shift his behavior. It does a few things:

1. Alerts him to the fact that he has stepped over the line.

2. Reminds him that I am a person too, and I have feelings too.

3. Socializes him because he can often then translate how I react to a given behavior of his to why others might have withdrawn from him or avoided him, after he had acted the same way around them. He can connect the dots and extend the "lesson" to other situations. Most other people in his life would not dare 'call him out' on certain behaviors. But ultimately, they just avoid him and he has no idea why.

4. Deters him from behaving that way.

In short, it is a natural and logical consequence!

Melissa's suggestions are respectful; no disagreement there. They just don't seem authentic to me and they seem to place the burden of growth solely on the non-ADHD person. How can the ADHDer ever learn the real deal if everybody is going around meeting them with constant validation and non-emotional, well thought out, contrived suggestions to make a better choice in the future? The fact of the matter is that my husband is NOT a child and he is not my son; he is my husband. Therefore, I do have higher expectations for his behavior. If he doesn't get that, then I need to teach him. He has grown a ton over the years, in large part because of the 'consequences' I impose on him. I don't want to be hyper-emotional or hyper-logical. I just want to be me, and somehow, it works! I speak only from my own experience. It's not just theory; it's actual experience of what works for me.

constructive input

I would suggest, to paraphrase, that if providing constructive criticism has never worked for you in curtailing a behavior or inciting an ADHD person to at least contemplate their actions and entertain that they might be out of line, then maybe you aren't doing it right.

I understand your logic.  We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

I'm thinking that you must

I'm thinking that you must not actually be a trained therapist, as I had thought. Your comments are coming across to me as very un-accepting and un-supportive. I'm not on this blog to debate. I was just sharing my own experience. You are correct, that I may very well not be providing constructive criticism the right way. I was only trying to be honest and offer my experience in case it might provide support or help to another. I didn't have any idea whatsoever that my comments would be met with such aggressive opposition and covert put-downs by you or the other person who blogged "against" my approach. I'm sorry; I think I must have misunderstood the point of this blog. IF I ever return to this site, which is doubtful, I will be sure not to blog my honest experience as it might offend you or the other. Good luck!

Good example

The disagreement you are hearing from Melissa and others who have commented on your posts is neither covert or a put-down.  But perhaps you can now imagine how your spouse feels when you roll your eyes, demean him or act disgusted by him? 

Good example

I'm not sure of your intent in writing this post. It's pretty patronizing. Again, I do apologize if my comments about rolling my eyes to my husband is so offensive to you, Melissa or any other blogger. I only meant to share my own experience because the way I handle my husband when I roll my eyes at him works for me. I'm not trying to convince you or any other blogger to do that. I love my husband. I do, in fact, respect him, and very much value our relationship. I am secure that he feels the same.

Good luck to you and I hope that you continue to have all the the answers and handle your ADHD partner in the absolute perfect way every time!

Handle my partner

I try very hard not to handle my partner.  I handle me and let my partner handle himself.

Best of luck to you.

so lucky

You are truly lucky that he is willing to take responsibility foe his own actions without blaming you, the non adhd partner, for everything.

He used to

If you haven't read my book, I'll give you a brief description of our marriage 15 years ago...it sucked.  We had a period of three (count them) months when we LITERALLY didn't say a word to each other that wasn't yelled.  I verbally abused him.  He completely ignored me - sometimes intentionally because he wanted to make a point.  In one of the more poignant moments, my daughter (now 22, but at the time in fourth grade) came home from school with a paper she had written about how she had to talk me down from on top of the kitchen counter from where I was screaming at my husband.  He said things that were intensely hurtful to me.  I nagged and nagged, was bitter and hurt (and hurtful).  We both had affairs.

Neither one of us was willing to take responsibility for our own actions and we both felt justified.

Which is why I got into doing what I do now.  For us, taking responsibility was about starting with "me" first - who did I want to be?  How would that (better) person act?  I started acting that way, which put a new dynamic in the relationship.  I drew decisive boundaries for myself and lived by them.  He could come along or not.  If he didn't want to, then he wasn't the right partner for me.

Quite frankly, it helped that we had two kids.  When he saw I had changed and was more like the person he had originally married he was still hurt and ambivalent.  But having the kids meant that there was a reason to try once more.  This time around, unlike every other time we had tried, we both decided to take charge of our own issues in order to make it work.  It's a hard (and painful) lesson to learn - that there is only so much you, yourself can do.  After that, if your partner isn't internally motivated you don't go anywhere.  Where I think people make their mistake, though, is that they assume that since their partner hasn't been internally motivated in the past, they can't be in the future.  They can - as long as they have something they want to work for, understand why it's important they do so, and realize YOU AREN'T GOING TO DO IT FOR THEM.  (This is one of the reasons I "took on" the poster who got so angry at me in this thread.  Her view was that it was her responsibility to teach her husband to improve, in addition to the fact that she was intentionally hurting him to get his attention.)

There were multiple times I felt we had no future.  But it turned out we did.

Your logic

Your logic is internally consistent, but not psychologically sound.  And while you suggest your relationship is respectful, I would respectfully disagree.  Furthermore, FYI, eye-rolling is one of the singly most predictive behaviors for divorce...because it's so disrespectful.  You may believe that dismissing and belittling him "helps" your husband.  What it REALLY does is get his attention.  This is quite different from helping.  Furthermore, I would ask you to assess - has your behavior actually resulted in meaningful, long-term changes in the behaviors you are critiquing?  Your previous post would suggest otherwise.  You may be getting his attention, but your behavior is so difficult and insulting that it may not inspire him to want to change (and interact with you more.)

I am not suggesting that you be a robot, nor that you stifle your emotions.  I'm also not at all suggesting you placate him.  Far from it.  I'm suggesting that you will get what YOU want (his changed behavior) much faster if you treat him with the respect he deserves as a human being, regardless of whether or not he has ADHD.  You can be emotional.  You can be real.  You can even yell and scream if you are angry.  Just don't be insulting!

Your idea of your "responsibility as a wife" from the outside and how you are describing it sounds much more like that of a teacher from someone's nightmares ("If I just make him feel enough shame...if I can just show him what a bad boy he is... I'm sure he'll learn!").  It didn't work with all the misbehaving boys in 5th grade...and it won't work now.  It's psychologically faulty reasoning that ignores all that is known about how people learn and perform best.

Your comment "Honestly, I think it's cruel NOT to show him real feelings of disgust/dismissive/disrespect when he behaves in a socially unacceptable way, because he truly does not know. His intuition and ability to read others is extremely fragmented. So, I have to work with him and make SURE that he gets the message" is really disturbing.  I believe you when you say he doesn't read the cues of others - many people with ADHD don't.  If you're so interested in "helping" him figure this out, how about a gentle physical or verbal cue at the time of infraction rather than disrespecting him?  If you're not interested in helping him, then encourage him to seek professional help for social skills and let him learn some useful skills...rather than learn that he's disgusting...

I cannot claim that I have always been respectful to my partner.  Far from it - there were years when I belittled him, insulted him and hurt him.  What I finally learned - and hope you will, too - is that my behavior was truly part of our problem as a couple.  So much so, in fact, that it significantly inhibited my husband's ability to improve our relationship from his side.  Yours behavior is also a problem, and I hope that you will think about what I've said in an open-minded way and consider other options for how to treat your husband than those that you are currently choosing and defending so vigorously.

Logic

As a long-time active member of this blog, I have to express that I do not appreciate your post. When I blog, I am not trying to offend anybody. In fact, quite the opposite. I don't know you or any of the other bloggers and you should not presume to know me. I'm not advocating that any other member of this blog handle their situation as I handle mine. I just try to share those strategies and tactics that I have had success with in my marriage with the hopes that some others might benefit from it. For you to state at the beginning of your comments, "And while you suggest your relationship is respectful, I would respectfully disagree," is, in and of itself, disrespectful and offensive to me. You do not know me, my husband or our dynamics to make such an assertion. It's not a supportive statement; that's for sure.

Also, I would be interested to learn from where you obtain your data that supports your statement of, "Furthermore, FYI, eye-rolling is one of the singly most predictive behaviors for divorce...because it's so disrespectful," and I would like to see how that data was compiled because I have a REALLY hard time believing that eye-rolling is actually the single most reliable indicator for divorce. For me, I would think that yelling in somebody's face or some of the other common ADHD infractions I have read about on this blog site would be deemed a MUCH bigger crimes, and therefore a much more reliable indicators of divorce, than eye-rolling..... certainly a more powerful indicator of unhappiness.

Not that I need to justify myself to you or any other blogger, but I love and appreciate my husband unequivocally. I do not pretend to be perfect. I am a forgiven and forgiving person. My husband and I both work very hard to improve our relationship and grow together at every turn. We trust each other, we do, IN FACT, respect each other, we laugh a ton and share many things in common. That being said, things are not always perfect.... often far from it. But we work at it and things just seem to get better and better with each passing year. Eye-rolling and dismissive behavior has, in absolute truth, had long lasting positive effects on our marriage. My husband will often tell me that he doesn't want me to give him the "stink eye" or roll my eyes at him, so he'll at least make a concerted effort to handle something better. It's just a fact... it's not debatable, no matter how much you or another blogger might want to attack the idea. There's no emotion attached to it... it's just a truth. PERIOD.

As a therapist or counselor (you, not me), I understand that you have to toe the hard line and advocate against disrespect, abuse, or any other elements that you see on the blog that might not typically be deemed "appropriate." However, I truly believe that real life is not so simple (especially when you love somebody with ADHD), and I only meant to share my experience, my success and my attitude so that I might benefit some other person who like me, in the real life have not been able to reconcile the gap between, "Oh gee... could you please try to take a different path next time?" and real life tactics that ACTUALLY DO WORK when faced with an ADHDer's meltdown, whether it is what you chose to believe or not.

I have spent enough time on this blog defending my position and assertion that I have a good and respectful marriage. I don't feel the need to justify myself to you further. I typically come to this site to give and receive support. Unfortunately, after receiving your comments, I no longer see this blogging site as a healthy tool for me to gain or give support. I don't see myself returning, but good luck to you and your fellow bloggers in the life-long pursuit of balance and happiness in living with ADHD!

Supportiveness and eye rolling

I thought we were having a back and forth about what each of us believed.  I provide an apology if you feel attacked by my opinion.

The eye rolling data is from John Gottman, who has done some of the best research out there on what creates a healthy relationship.  You can find an overview of it in this WSJ article or read his books.  There is a reason why therapists and marriage counselors recommend respect...that is also covered in this article.

You and I are in agreement about many things - for example, that life is not so simple, especially when you are married to a person with ADHD.  We also agree that adults should not be treated like children and that no-one should be asked to hide their feelings or be fake.  However, you seem to continue to misconstrue what I am suggesting and equate "respectful" with some sort of mambee pambee behavior.  One can be respectful and quite firm about one's opinions - just ask my husband and he'll be happy to confirm.  And yes, everyone gets mad sometimes and lets loose, myself included.  These days, though, an apology will eventually follow and our relationship is a lot stronger for the fact that I understand that my husband is a big boy and it is not my job to teach him anything.

Be that as it may, I'm happy that you have found a system that works for you.  I hope it also works for your husband.

Negativity solution

We had a counselor once who prescribed that every day/evening we set aside a time block and discuss (1) a complaint, (2) a compliment or positive observation about the other person, (3) a dream for the future, (4) something that went well that day. We each had to come up with something for each subject and we had to do it every day without fail.

Something about having a regular time block made this a very positive experience. We both felt listened to, but we were talking when there usually wasn't any emotion attached to what was being said.

I would imagine you could remind him to bring up his complaint(s) during this time period if he complains during the day? Maybe you wouldn't want to limit how many complaints were mentioned but just limit the time devoted to each point? Everyone wants to feel like they can express themselves to their partner, but this can keep it from becoming overwhelming. I imagine the more you try to discourage the complaining, the more he wants to express it. Then you end on happy notes by giving compliments and discussing plans/dreams for your future.

carathrace's picture

Great suggestion!

Wow, I really like that idea of the 4 things.  Going to suggest it to my husband.  Thanks, lynnie!

I'll mention this idea to him

I'll mention this idea to him and see if he is receptive.   Today I am still feeling residually resentful, because he has acted bad the last few weekends, and I hate going to work Monday in this frame of mind, upset because of problems over the weekend.  He did tell me this a.m. first thing that he had decided to make a bigger effort not to say negative things, then gave me this look to see if I was going to be pleased or impressed.  I doubt he'll be able to stick to it, but I guess it's a start.  Too bad he only tries to make effort when he sees I'm at the end of my rope or very stressed out with him.  I know I sound kind of harsh, but I'm just so fed up with all of this.  He doesn't seem to get that the negativity is so bad that I just don't even want to be around him much anymore. 

I appreciate everyone's positive input, though.  I have to get myself into a frame of mind where I am able to give it a shot.  Right now I am honestly just sick of him. 

Hang in there

I Know how it feels to be sick of it and want to run away. Can you? A weekend apart can do a world of good. Also having your own happy place. Mine was work, or shopping, or a gorgeous walk. I like the 4 W approach too. My husbands doc suggested that at the end of each day he write down the 4 What Went Well & Why for the day. Dh failed to do it cuz he wasn't in a pos enuf frame of mind to be willing, but I say them to myself when I'm having a hard day. Sometimes it's " well I didn't wake up in Syria this morning..."

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Staying positive in a negative atmosphere

Hi Lise,

I can share from my experience - the older my spouse gets, the harder he fights his ADHD brain, the more negative he gets - - - and the tougher it is for me to remain on my positive side of the fence. 

In couples' counseling - which so far has not worked too well for us (I am hoping soon it will!), it has been suggested that my ADHD spouse is filtering everyone he interacts with, through the life-filter of two of the most negative people from his childhood.  He judges unmercifully by his horrible experiences with those 2 influences.  I guess until he is ready to let go of those 2 pieces of his past, the rest of us will be greeted by a sad, depressed, negative man who thinks everyone is out to take advantage of him, and use him. 

It is very hard to watch him self-destruct.  I hope he will be willing to unpack that old baggage he totes around.  It is like an albatross.  Frustrating.

Good news is, you can only do what you can do.  I think many of us, who deal with the negative side of a loved one with ADHD, surely wish we could help them see things differently. They can . . . but they gotta be willing to listen.  As of yet, my spouse cannot.

  

Coping with extreme negativity

Lise, Thank you so much for sharing this post. I'm sure it speaks to many women on this blog. I know I'm constantly struggling with the same. I've been married for almost 13 years to my ADHD husband who is often extremely negative and explosive about most everything. It can be so depleting to deal with. I don't honestly believe that this aspect of my husband's personality can ever really improve much because he can't even really see it. He feels so justified and passionate in expressing all of his negative comments, disappointments and opinions... no matter how petty or insignificant the issue seems to me. I just try to ignore his rants as much as possible and remove myself from his presence unless I'm somewhere enclosed like in the car with him. It's important to me in my own mental health to make sure that I never send him any subliminal messages that he can intimidate me into agreeing with him, or that I would align myself with his stupid, short-sided, hyper-critical, long drawn out perspective, just because he's the king and his word and opinions should be SO important to all who are so blessed enough to hear his oratory (sarcasm). My thinking on the matter, after years of scrutiny and trying different things is that I don't want to perpetuate HIS problem or enable him either by placating him just to keep the peace. So, I always (almost) convey my disagreement to him when I disagree. When I do, every single time, he's literally shocked and annoyed. He becomes abrasive or otherwise punishing in his tone, because it just seems so obvious and important in his mind. I've tried to do it logically, calmly, jokingly, angrily, and any other way I've been able to think of. Since being calm, kind and nice about expressing my disagreement is met with the same disdain from him, I decided over time, not to waste my energy trying so hard to say it in a way that will not escalate things into an argument. So now, my expressions have evolved into calmly shaming him by using disgusted/sarcastic looks and saying, "Whateves Dude" or just plain telling him that he's being ridiculous. I often say something like, "Oh give me a break. Who cares? I have no opinion about something so mundane. I've way more important things to concern myself with. I couldn't imagine developing an opinion about something so unimportant. Poor you." Then I follow with a dismissive chuckle... a sort of demeaning/snotty one, and then I let it go. He has now evolved to a place where he often internalizes it and realizes that he's being silly. It also makes him look at it logically, and understand that he's creating a problem out of thin air, for no reason at all. It usually shuts him down pretty quick, but sometimes he still tries to escalate it into a fight by yelling at me or asking me why I'm being such a B%&#H, and why can't I just understand his point, in a loud voice. I just roll my eyes at him and sigh or chuckle in a dismissive tone, and tell him that I can tell he wants to fight, but that he has to find somebody else to fight with because I'm not taking the bate! It's his anger, and I do everything I can to keep that in the forefront of my thoughts so I can protect myself from it.

In my opinion, based on my own experience, if you want an ADHD relationship to work for the long run, you have to focus on 2 main things. First and foremost, take care of yourself IN AND OUT of the relationship. My husband would railroad all over me if I let them. He doesn't see any room in the world for anybody elses opinions, thoughts or feelings. So IN the relationship, I often politely tell him that he has to let me know when he can make some time for me because I need to share some things with him, and I just need him to be my friend. I tell him EXACTLY what I need from him... such as, "Please don't give me any advice or negativity. I just need to share some parts of my life with you, as my husband and somebody who loves me." So far, he always responds very well to it, and then during that time, I share with him what want. It always insights some good communication between us. He always opens up and shares stuff too. It's frustrating and a little sterile that I have to carve out time to talk with him in order to help him know me, but it's the only way I've found. Sometimes, I don't even feel like sharing stuff with him because it makes me so mad that it can't just be more natural. It squelches some of the natural intimacy that comes with sharing something on your mind with somebody. But, it's the best I think I will ever be able to get from him. OUT of the relationship, I have found that having a lot of things to do that energize me and make me feel good about myself minimizes that constant need/desire for him to be something he's not. In doing so, he doesn't feel pressured to be something he's not, and he doesn't constantly feel like he's failed me. I have come to accept that there are certain things that just can't be done until he's good and ready. Certain things just have to be done his way, on his terms or they won't be done at all. Even with all of his issues, I feel that it is my responsibility to share important feelings, events and parts of my life with him, so I'm willing to do it in a synthetic fashion, since that's the only working option I've been able to figure out.

The second thing to focus on is forgiveness. I am in a constant state of forgiveness. My husband can be SUCH and A$$^*[email protected] sometimes! I work so hard on forgiving him and accepting my circumstances. Sometimes it takes awhile, but I think it's supremely important to constantly be working from a clean slate or else things build up and spin out of control to the point that you can't keep doing it, like what you're feeling now.

That's my "wisdom" for now. I hope you don't feel lectured... I'm merely sharing my own experience and coping mechanisms and I recognize that they certainly won't be effective for everybody.

Re coping input

I appreciate the effort you took to share your experiences with me, and no, I don't feel lectured.  I understand that everyone contributing to this post is explaining how they cope with an ADHD significant other; that's what I asked for help with.  When you say you are a constant state of forgiveness, though, I just wonder how you are ok with that.  No offense meant, truly.  I guess I feel like I don't want to be in that state, and in fact, when I think of the things he's done that I've forgiven or overlooked time and again, I feel like a total idiot and have a lot of resentment that absolutely gets in the way of feeling good about him.  My husband says I hold grudges, but I feel like that I'm not doing it deliberately.  He simply acts like such an *ss, to borrow from your phrasing, that I question why I am married to a person who does the things he does.  He used to be 80% good, and 20% distant/negative/complaining.  Now it's flipped to maybe 85/15 in the other direction.  I think about breaking up and looking for another relationship eventually (this is my second marriage), or consider whether I could just be on my own and be happier than I am now.  I tell my mom that I might be lonely, but she says it might be better to not have the stress he puts me through with the things he does.  I have forgiven a lot over the years, but for some reason my tolerance has thinned over the last year or two.  My daughter lives 3 hours away to the north, my Mom 3 hours to the south.  Mr. ADHD is my primary source of companionship outside of the pets and the people at work. And yet, I hardly even like him as a person anymore.  I admit I have a hard time forgiving this stuff these days.  He's getting worse and I'm getting more indifferent.  Discouraging and sad.  We went for a walk in the hills tonight with the dogs and I felt very little of anything except annoyance towards him.  I asked him, doesn't it bother you that I feel like that toward you?  Yes, he said.  Yes, he did try hard not to b*tch to me today, but a little comment slipped out despite himself.  Oh well, I could hardly expect him to pull it off that easily.  I will see how the next few weeks go.  I got really super down and stressed this weekend and I let him know it in no uncertain terms.  So of course he is on his good behavior.  That's what ticks me off, that it takes that from me to get him to stop his cr*p.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with my primary care doctor, a great woman.  I'm going to ask her or a psychologist referral and see what else she thinks might help me deal with this stuff.  I don't want antidepressants if I don't need them.  I want to be tough and think logically and either a) learn to accept and deal with him (I feel so jealous of women who are married to the apparently normal men-- I guess there are a few, who are these crazy (or lucky) women who say they're still so in love after thirty years), or b) bite the bullet and call it quits.  I think I might have done it years ago if it weren't for all the usual ties that bind - pets, house, etc.  It's very disillusioning what long marriages turn out to be sometimes.  I always thought I could at least be friends with him and trust him.  Very hard.  I watched a George Harrison documentary a few weeks ago where his wife Olivia talked about how George had a thing for women, and how hard it had been for her.  She said, "You know what they say, the secret to a long marriage is to not get divorced."  And yet she also said that towards the end, George and she talked, and he had told her that he hoped he was a good husband to her.  If my oblivious ADHD spouse was ever so self-aware as to ask such a thoughtful, touching thing of me, I'd probably faint from shock.  : )  

Coping with extreme negativity

I think I can understand where you are mentally right now to some degree, and I know first hand how hard it can be. Every situation is different and I'm certainly not advocating that you stay in a relationship that you don't want to stay in or shouldn't stay in. For me though, I believe that being in a constant state of forgiveness is a necessary price involved in ANY close relationship, and I am totally willing to do that for the sake of our family. Over time it has gotten easier and easier to do, in most cases. Nobody is perfect, and I think you have to look at the whole situation and determine what you are willing to do or put up with, based on the entire relationship. In my relationship, dealing with the anger, negativity and explosiveness is more than offset by a lot of other things that make it all worth it.  My husband is a good man, in so many other ways. Being strategic in getting what I want and need from him has been a ton of work, but totally worth it overall. But, it hasn't always been that way. Over the years, my husband has become more and more willing to look at his ADHD behaviors, acknowledge his issues, grow in his understanding of his limits (and strengths) and committed try to come up with solutions. As he and I both grow to understand and accept all of the challenges ADHD brings to our relationship, we both develop "work arounds" so that we can stay together and so that we can WANT to stay together. There has to be a willingness on both sides, I believe.

Also, in my way of thinking, being in a constant state of forgiveness is not something I do for him; it's for me. I once read a comment that I think of often, "Holding on to resentment and anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Sometimes, I fall into my old pattern of thinking that expressing resentment and anger toward my husband is one way to punish him for being such a jerk. But, I believe that the punishment to him is nominal compared to the harm it does to me in the long run.

Good luck to you this morning at your therapy session. I truly hope it you can get some relief and clear your head enough to step in whatever direction is best for you and your overall mental health.

 

Strength is many things

You are being strong. Every day you stay shows fortitude. But also, true forgiveness shows strength. Yes you are justified in your anger and in your resentment. There is no doubt in the right. But does holding onto anger actually help you? Does it help get you what you want? Letting go of anger is super hard. And it can flare back up unexpectedly. But it helps no one and nothing. It is usually just masking deeper hurts that need to processed and released. The book ACT with LOVE does a good job explaining this. That being said, it's also impt to take care of yourself and I applaud you for sharing your feelings with your spouse. I have a hard time doing that and I know it hurts the relationship. That was another moment of strength.  Good luck with finding a therapist that works for you. One that understands ADHD would be helpful but mine who had limited experience was still able to add value.

also, keep in mind those sane men you are jealous of still have cyclical relationships. There is no relationship that is love and roses all the time.

Things to think about

You've all given me some things to think about.  I doubt that holding on to anger is the best thing in the world to do.  In large part that stems from the situation perpetuating itself over and over, with no resolution and no improvement.  The question is still is there really any hope of improvement, or is this just the way it is going to be forever?  And then following that, is this something I can live with, or not?  If so, how and why?  I even remind him of that option when he starts complaining, that he doesn't have to stay in his miserable situation if that's what it really is (vs. his warped ADHD interpretation of life skewering his worldview).  Honestly, I think I need a sort of mental break from any decision-making pressure right now.  Hopefully one of the two psychologists my PCP recommended to me today will be of some value.  Thanks everyone.

Dealing with the same here

I have been meaning to comment on this post. There are so many times I find myself nodding in agreement when reading some of these posts. This is definitely one of those times. My DH of 13 years is also very negative and never takes responsibility (always blames someone else.) Had he always been like this early on, we never would have gotten married. But, like many ADHDers, he was very different when we dated and even in the beginning of our marriage. We met as camp counselors at a summer camp, so he was a very outgoing, fun, positive, friendly guy. He wrote letters, said wonderful things, and even wrote/played me a song on guitar! I don't know why/when it started happening, but I feel like he gets more and more negative with each passing year. (When I point out his negativitey, he tells me he is realistic now about how things really are.) We have disussed our "love languages" recently (his physical touch, mine words of affirmation), but that hasn't seemed to change anything. I can't remember the last time he told me I was beautiful, complimented me, etc. He is constantly complaining about people at work, how no one seems to know anything except him, etc. He has been at this job less than 2 years, and there have been 2 other companies, plus a year long stint of him starting his own business (he is an accountant). He started off as a high school teacher, and after 3 years hated it, and went back for his masters in accounting. Now I am worried that he is going to quit on a whim, or get fired if he has this kind of attitude at work. I think what saves him is that his field is always in need, so I guess the job hopping hasn't been too much of an issue in interviews. 

And the blaming...an example today: he took on a big role in my son's cub scout pack. I warned him about the workload and organization involved in this. I also told him not to be asking me to do x, y, and z for this position. I will help, but don't be calling me about ordering patches, calling so and so, sending reminders, etc. HE chose it, not me. So, today we were in charge of a food drive. He told people to meet at a certain place at 8:30 a.m. He worked late last night and fell asleep on the couch. At 7:15, I am up and dressed, and of course the one worrying about everything. I wake him up and he is upset I didn't wake him sooner. Are you kidding me? You are a grown man, who has a cell phone with an alarm. Or, you could have called/emailed last night asking me to wake you at a certain time. But I guess I am supposed to be a mind reader. And your mother. 

So, because he has not printed out the maps or gotten anything ready ahead of time. Of course. He asks me to boil hot water for hot chocolate (he also volunteered to bring donuts/coffee/hot chocolate), but then I am not using the right pot or didn't listen to him. I find that he must think something, but never explains it fully out loud. Again, we are supposed to be mind readers. We finally get going and the day ends up turning out well. But there is always the last minute running around and blaming. I am sure he uses it as a crutch for his shortcomings. 

His negativitey was definitely bringing me down. And I have always been a pretty positive person. After years of trying to avoid it, I finally saw a doctor about my depression. I have started a med that seems to help some. That was part of declaring this year the "year of me". Like many on here, I realized I have to focus on myself. I can't change him, but I can make myself happy. I joined a gym and am determined to lose the gobs of weight I have put on thanks to my depression and emotional eating. I have not felt like "myself" in a long time.

Melissa's comments about respect really hit home. I am definitely an eye roller/ignorer of his rants. But I think I am going to try some of her suggestions to approach it in a more respectful way. We have not done any counseling (he is on Adderall, but I am not sure of it's effect because I do not know if he is consistent about taking it), but he has agreed to marraige counseling. I am not saying I am perfect, but I am pretty sure he will be defensive when any of his faults are brought to light with a counselor. He really just needs to go on his own, but I would like to learn how to live my life and the best way to handle his ADHD. 

After a major incident with my family at Christmas (his doing), I really, really, felt serious about leaving him for the first time. Oh, I have thought it before, but this time was different. Things have gotten better, but the family issue has not been resolved (well, he just says he won't be going/staying at my parents' house anymore. That's his resolution, I guess.) Sometimes I wish he would just hit me or cheat on me so I would have a concrete reason for divorce. 

So, I guess I wanted you to know I am in the same boat. And I have finally decided to take care of me, which seems to be helping. I have to take care of a house, two kids, a dog, and myself. I cannot add a 36 year old man to the mix.  

Negativity

The negativity my husband displays is completely automatic.  It is so woven into his everyday existence that it will take some serious awareness on his part to snap out of it.  Good news is, I think he is open. Redirecting will not work. Gentleness, will not work. Directness and firmness seem to work but it's exhausting!!

Positivity......Life Force Deermarieshea

Ain't that the truth?  You nailed it,  it's exhausting.....but you are exactly right...directness and firmness.....as in "hard".  Saying...it's "hard" and is why it's so exhausting !! LOL  Or being a "hard ass"...as in....being the bad "guy" ( or "gal" ) sometimes ie: being the bearer of bad news in that....it's not the news they want to hear even if it's not necessary "bad". lol

I'm going to get obtuse here for a moment...so bear with me because this is a little abstract.  A momentary deversion to somethings that been on my mind lately?

Speaking in the terms that I am applying to this.  Some definitions are in order to make myself clear?

A)  EVIL:  "one who destroys"   ( I don't actually believe in the Devil of that there is "a Devil" first off....so if you do, you'll have to put that a side for the moment or this won't fit into the scheme of sense I'm saying this.

B) BAD:  as in right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative, dark or light   (without the connotation of "evil"....read into this.  Just leave that out of it and work from face value and the definition of the word without that context thrown in )

Under the opicies of "Bad"...you might consider: negative, dark, wrong...as in the opposite of Good which would be: postive, right, light ...as the way to determine...what is Bad or Good?

C)  GOOD:  as in "Right"....or...."Correct"   Or in the positive or opposite of dark since all dark is....is the absense of light?

And speaking in terms of :  "in the absense of "....this is what I was thinking about?

A quick overveiw of an interesting philosopher named Thomas Hobbs.  He was a British philosopher...who had a rather pesitmistice outlook of human nature in that...the primary or fundamental basis for his entire philosophical point of veiw...is that no matter what we do as Humans..."all roads lead back to one simple premise."  Nothing we do....no matter how selfless and giving a person may appear....at the source of this no matter what.....is selfishness or self serving ulterior motives.  Even Mother Tereas herself under this point of view...is serving herself in some way and she's getting something out of it herself personally...or she wouldn't do what she does.  All roads lead back to you in some way...that serves you and your best interest or you wouldn't do it period.  It's a very "black" or "white"...stark contrast to anything being "Good" or "selfless" or "giving" or anything we might say as to why we do things sometimes since in Hobbsian philosophy.....there is none.....ie:  "the absense of"

Which in my mind...in "the absense of".....what we might see as "good"..."giving"...."selfless caring"...for others...and that's really just serving our "self"....no matter what.  All roads lead back to you in everything....no matter what "WE" do in a self serving way or we wouldn't do anything if that were the case?  Not doing anything means....it doesn't serve us to do it in a selfish way. 

This is a paradox...that goes contrary to what we might  beleive or think of ourselves as...when we do things for others..or think about others best interest when we do things?  Under this premise....we're all just selfish, self serving animals ( foraging, and cavorting around for something or someone to seve our needs at all times )...who are only in it for ourselves in everything we do..and no one is doing anything 'good" for anyone else and that just a coinsidense or "collateral effect"...that has something good in it for anyone else....just by accident?  I told you...Hobbs was kind of depressing guy! lol  ( maybe he had ADHD?   sorry,  sarcasm and humor again :)

So going back to what you said which is so true...and it really is the truth and I agree with you.  Now what? (turkey's butt? lol )  But seriosly....I think what I just lead you up to here is really a good way to look at this which despite Thomas Hobbs pessimistic outlook on life and Humanity in kind of a nialistic way....I don't think he's wrong here because from the first time I learned about this in collage at age 19.....that tweaked my brain so hard...I've been thinking about this ever since! lol  And because I dug so deep to find it....I have to agree with him on some level...because no matter what or which way I try and work this through...it always comes back to the same thing...."ME" and what I want?  I can never take me and what I want....out of my perception unless I were take myself...completely out of the picture?

BINGO.  A person who has taken themselves....completely out of the picture...is in denial of themselves and what they do....since....you can never take "self"...out of the picture?

And if you can never take "self"....out of the picture no matter what you do....then that leaves in it's wake....what that person is missing or "in absense of" right? ( correct? lol )  Denial then...is really...in the absense of the awareness of "self"...spekaing in those terms which is a betrayal...unto one self in order to accomplish this feat of magic that is not really possible? ( as in Magical Thinking perhaps? )

So if this is true (in theory at least? )...what you have in the absense of self.... is "wrong" right off the bat?  You'd also have to consider that what is wrong...is also not "right" spekaing in black and white terms?  Along with what is not right.....you also have to include: the absense of "light", "good", or anything positive?  Correct?

And if that's the case....this boils it all the way down to the absence of anything "positive".....which, has to be  "negative"? (speaking in the same black and white context to make this stay consistent in the same way of thinking about this?()  Which might....appear to make sense.... based on this train of thought (or Hobbsian Theory ? ) and what this implies or infers from it speaking from the same exact context within the premise or claim that it is trying to make?  Perhaps?

So within this premise or "paradox" in that...what is good is bad...and vise versus...meaning....what appears not self serving is always self serving no matter what?  And within the bit of this that is really true deep down at the core of all of us.....then being "nice"...or doing "good"...is just an illusion anyway?  Without that feat of magic in there that somehow makes this "ALL GOOD"....is an element in there of "delusion" or kidding ourselves...when in reality....being gentle, and kind and caring and giving...is really just a wolf in sheep clothing anyway.....and is just as selfish and self serving....with the appearance of being "meek" and "mild" about it instead..... anyway you look at it?

So if that's the case....and you;'ve got nothing to lose either way....you might as well not be so nice about it...and be more direct and firm which is a pain in the ass and is not really very self serving or in our best interest because it's so tiring and exhausting to do?

But ...."in the absence" of this...and in the essence of the concept of " in absence of"?  Doing nothing...is in the absence of something correct?  So.... that's not one of the available options you have to choose from unless being "in the absence" of light, good, and plosive things....you have "dark"( or in the shadow ),"what is negative", and "not good"....so you HAVE to do something or this is where that road leads?

And if all roads lead back to you anyway....no matter what you....that means we're all pretty "F&^%D" from this pessimistic stand point?  What other choice do you have here to make?  None!!!! lol  You have to do something...or you are operating in the shadows your self? ( in the shadow of....ONEs  SELF) 

And in terms of "the shadow" of yourself....(or absence of self and absence of  "Light"...."God is Light", Right? )...In the absence of "God"......you'll be doing the same thing....to yourself...by not doing something..and putting in the work and effort to get there which is exhausting and a royal pain in the butt!! LOL

As they say....."idle hands, are the Devils playground ."   Who ever they were?  The brother's "Grimm"?  ha !!  ( that's a joke,and a punn at the same time....Aren't I special...ha!! )   LOL

J