Dealing with current stresses, preventing future ones

I've had a very stressful few days.  My husband has been at home more (he usually spends four days a week helping his elderly parents) because one of my daughters is about to return to college.  She'll be driving with my husband.  

Repeating past patterns, while everyone has been at home, I've been doing the lion's share of the housework and other family-related chores.  I'm also the only person with a paid job right now (my daughters work at college but don't have summer jobs).  I've never adjusted well to what appears to be my designated role as the "house elf" (Harry Potter fans will know what I'm referring to).  So, yes, I've been a bit on edge, trying not to be but finding it hard to avoid it because I'm so tired.

Tomorrow, my older daughter and my husband are supposed to leave on their trip.  I knew that my husband would need to be working on the car they're taking and so I mentally "released" him from helping at all around the house last week.  I did say to him, however, that because i had a lot of work to do and because I'm told, and I acknowledge, that I'm sometimes overcontrolling, I would not be involving myself with trip preparations unless I was asked or told that my help was needed.  (My husband also says that he never asks for my help, and thus I"m the "needy" one.)

Tuesday went by.  Wednesday went by.  Thursday, early afternoon, my husband came into the house and told me that the trip might need to be delayed because the car needed a major repair.  Since then, he has been working constantly on the car.  I've been doing all the housework and other family-related chores, as expected, plus I've been helping my daughter get ready to go back.  

Note the result:  I ended up doing a lot of the trip preparation, not because my husband asked for help, but because otherwise it wouldn't have gotten done.  So, husband gets a lot of help without having to appear "needy"; I become even more tired and stressed.  I believe the ADHD was the cause of at least three things: my husband not helping around the house in general; my husband not anticipating that there might be problems with the car; and my husband not being willing to acknowledge that I was going to end up doing everything else if he were devoted to repairing the car, which he did end up having to do.

Any tips for the future?  Frankly, I don't think my husband is going to change.  I'm so close to separating from him, but I feel I might at least ask.

Thank you.

Pbartender's picture

A tip by way of example of

A tip by way of example of something you could have done in hindsight...

"Thursday, early afternoon, my husband came into the house and told me that the trip might need to be delayed because the car needed a major repair."

To which you would have replied, "Will you or DD need help getting ready for the trip?"

It's a little on the... manipulative...  side of things, but it accomplishes three things:

  1. It puts him on the spot to ask for help if he needs it, instead of forcing you to volunteer unasked for help because it "wouldn't have gotten done".
  2. If he refuses help and they aren't ready for the trip in time, then it's plainly his responsibility and his fault and you can let him deal with the consequences of his (in)actions.
  3. If he accepts your help, he's given tacit (and you can make it explicit, should you need to) acknowledgement that he does ask for your help, that he does need your help, and that because of the inefficiency that his ADHD can cause you were going to end up doing everything else because devoting all his time to repairing the car.

In other words, you'd be offering your help, but in such a way that in places the responsibility for accepting or refusing that help in his hands.



House Elf or House Diva

Pb, That might work. But how many years does one person have to pre-think and "manipulate" another person?  That sounds like too much responsibility and being on the ball into someone else's pschye rather than just living your own life. That sounds like a prescription for co-dependency.  That sounds a little "too nice" to be respected.  Here is how I see it, Rosered, We (you and I and a few of us others who are of an age when "Mom/Wife" did all the housekeeping and the man earned a living) have been the house elf AND bringing home the bacon. We have been quietly oiling and maintaining the machinery of home life behind the scenes AND finding the money to use to make that happen.  We have a standard of living that we want to keep and are not willing to live below our vision of what life can be if we put our abilities and energies into it. It looks to our 1950/60's mind that the only way to survive the way we want is to do it all.    I look around and see that some friends and family women do some house elf stuff but also demand that others rise up to their standards.  If anyone would dare to presume they should be a house elf or call them "needy" or "over controlling", heaven help them ---- that name caller is due for extra KP duty while "house diva" goes out for a manicure.  I challenge us and give us all permission and encouragement to stop being house elves, husband elves, community elves and step up to the 21st century to claim ourselves the house divas.  What is the result of their HD/DS/DD's "doing nothing" when they have promised or have been asked to do something?  A LOT of verbage!!!!!   And some drama.  I wanted to be "feminine" and loved for my willingness to support and compromise and love and cherish.   That all goes up in smoke when someone is not respecting me or supporting or compromising or loving to me.  No more quiet house elf for me!  I don't like the word "diva" - it sounds selfish.  But I cannot tolerate myself this quiet, giving-it-all-away, helpful, accommodating house elf life!!!  I have been acting like a house elf and I have been treated like a house elf - ignored, taken for granted and thought of as a non-person. It is time to get some respect!

Pbartender's picture

Probably right, Jenna...

"Pb, That might work. But how many years does one person have to pre-think and "manipulate" another person?"

In my case, apparently, just about 14 years or so.

"That sounds like too much responsibility and being on the ball into someone else's pschye rather than just living your own life. That sounds like a prescription for co-dependency.  That sounds a little "too nice" to be respected."

Yep...  Rethinking it, you're probably right.  It might work.  I can tell you from personal experience, it often does work.  But, it's also probably at least half the reason I'm in the situation I'm in.



Just like my sister said,

Just like my sister said, when she recently went to a Christian conference, people will live up to (or down to) what we expect of them. If we expect them to carry their weight of the family obligations and accept nothing less than they will have no choice but to live up to that...or leave. I would rather be alone than to be with someone who wasn't willing to help me achieve my idea of happiness in life. At least that's how I feel now...all of these wasted years later.

Not sure how I will 'win' but am currently in the process of laying down some new boundaries....since I am working now, I expect more help around the house from everyone. Myself and my daughter do it all right now...and there are 2 other able bodies here (DH & SD). That is not OK with me. When I didn't work, I asked nothing of them. Now that I have to work, I expect 50%.

She should have done nothing

She should have done nothing and let the consequences fall as they may...even if it hurt her somehow. I say that for a few reasons...A) she didn't want to have to make the plans B) she wasn't taking the trip and it wasn't really her responsibility, C) she is apparently not shown much appreciation for her efforts D) she was already doing the lions share of everything...and E) because he isn't working!!! is just sad to me that you have to question reality..or simple situations such as these. ADHD makes us question our own motives and lose all ability to see things as they really should be. When you will start to truly grow you will know...because you won't question your own reality or motives anymore and you will know what 'happiness' looks like to you and you will accept not one f'ing thing less.

Thank you for the responses.

Thank you for the responses.  I really appreciate the understanding and support that I find on this website.  

I know that I was stressed and that being under stress accentuated my response to a situation that I could have dealt with better.  On the other hand, my husband seemed to have no awareness of the fact that he was dealing with his trip preparations less than ideally, either for him or for me.  This came on top of spending several weeks with the entire family at home, me doing almost all the work, paid and unpaid; not getting enough sleep; and chronic low-level health issues and anxiety and depression. 

I'll admit it; if I'm going to stay married, at least with any chance of happiness, I think that my husband needs to change.  It's not just me.