Dealing with Laziness

My wife often uses laziness as a reason for not doing something.  It might be something she agreed to do by a certain day/time.  Or it may be something we more generally agreed to do, such as not leave things on the kitchen table.

When I tell her it bothers me that she didn't put something away or didn't get something done, she'll respond "I know. I was too lazy."  Or "I just didn't feel like getting up to do it." 

Sometimes she'll leave something one place, instead of putting it away in a place that would require her to take maybe 5 extra steps, and she will say the same thing "I was too lazy to put it away."

The fact is, my wife almost always seems to be just sitting around the house feeling lazy.  And it's hard for me to accept that as a reason.

I have checked to make sure that it's not that she just didn't think of it, which I understand to be an ADHD behavior that is often confused with laziness.  But that doesn't seem to be the case.  She'll say "I thought of it.  I was just too lazy to do it."

Another example of her telling me she is "too lazy" happened the other night when I came home to her sitting in the dark playing a game on her iPhone.  This frequently happens, so this time I asked her, "Do you like sitting in the dark?  Is it more calming in some way?'"  She said it wasn't.  I asked "Does it just not occur to you to turn on the lights?"  She said "It occurs to me.  I'm just too lazy to get up an do it."

My sense it that she really is very tired a lot of the time.  She doesn't often get a lot of sleep.  She works very hard at her job.  And so when she is home at night or on the weekends she often just "sits around" playing games on her iPhone, reading email and blogs, listening to podcasts, etc. 

So my sense is she's not really lazy, but rather "just" tired.  And that accounts for some of the things she doesn't do.  But putting something on the table because she "is too lazy" to take 3 more steps to put it in the desk just doesn't make sense to me.  Does it really take that much more effort to take 3 more steps, open a drawer, and put something there rather than just drop it on the table?

I am not sure if she really is so bone tired that she can't make the effort to take three extra steps, or if she just doesn't feel like doing it and tells me it is because she is too lazy.  (Is there really a difference?)

I am thinking that if taking a couple of extra steps to put something away really is too much effort, then something is really wrong.  If getting up off the couch to turn on a light really is too much effort, then something is wrong.

If she is working so hard that she has nothing left when she comes home, something is really wrong.  And if it really is the reason she is crashing when she comes home, then that is a problem, because it's not a temporary situation.  As long as I have known her (except when she was in hyperfocus mode) she is always saying how demanding her work is.

I know this is MY problem.  I am the one who has a problem with her just crashing when she gets home and just sitting around all day on Saturday and Sunday.  I am the one who has a problem with her saying she is "too lazy" to put something away or do a chore that she agreed to do.  I am the one who has a problem that she doesn't have any energy to do anything.

But I have no idea how to address it.

One thing I can think of is to say "Honey, I know you work very hard are are often very tired after work.  But when you say you didn't do something because you were 'too lazy' is sounds to me like you are saying that you just didn't feel like doing it."

Because truth is, if it is that she just doesn't feel like it, I do have a problem.  I don't really feel like cooking every night when I come home from work.  But I do it.  I think maybe once or twice in two years I have said after work "I don't really feel like cooking tonight.  How about we order delivery?"

OK.  I feel like I am about to get into venting mode, so I will stop.

So . . . any suggestions?

Your wife reminds me of my husband

He will lie staring at the ceiling and when I call him on it, he says "I was just being lazy." . He goes to lie down when we are doing some project and I simply go to the bathroom or go to get a drink, like he can't do anything in the house unless I'm working at that exact second. Homework or my eBay business don't count. They aren't work. If I ask him to do the dishes while I'm doing homework, he'll just lie down. I think he doesn't think of the things I do as work. It's infuriating.  It means I have to do everything.

In my husband's case, it is depression. Once he got on meds for that, he got less lazy (not very much). Like you, I have the problem that he leaves it all at work and there isn't anything left when he comes home. I often feel like I'm not married at all. This got worse when the doctor changed him from Wellbutrin to Lexapro. I'm not allowed to talk to the doctor (they won't even acknowledge that he's a patient there.) and he can't "remember" to mention it. Personally, I think he likes it and doesn't want to change because it gives him an excuse not to do anything.

I really don't know what to tell you, since I haven't found a solution for it. I just wanted you to know you aren't alone.

hockeymom11's picture

same thing

they say that untreated ADHD people spend so much energy at work trying to stay focused or on top of things that they literally come home mentally exhausted.  My husband comes home and goes right to the video games, which Melissa has said is a form of self medicating (dopamine release).  My husband refuses to take medication, even with his own father telling him (who also has ADD and recently started ritalin).  He gets poor reviews at work and I have told him that it may be related to ADHD.  He just gets mad and tells me that his supervisor has to get the "good" review and someone has to get the "bad" review and it's just going to be him.  For years I believed him and thought he was working for a bunch of jerks, but now with everything I've been told by professionals and this site I am convinced he is getting bad reviews because of untreated ADHD. 

I don't understand how if there was something that could remotely help you, you wouldn't try it.  My husband does nothing around the house and hasn't for years.  It's exhausting for me because I don't exactly have a sedentary or easy job.  If I ask him to do something, I can come home with 90% certainty that is has not been completed or even started.  It's discouraging to say the least.

I guess all you can do is hang in there, try to keep the house and kids together and functioning and hope the ADHDer gets help.  That's what I'm trying to do. 


I know the problem from my ADD husband. It is, after all, an attention deficit disorder - meaning that dealing with too many things just gets too complex. Things that the rest of us find really easy. When I compare him and me, I get the feeling that I am constantly working on paving the way in front of me - picking things up, doing the dishes, tidying up and organizing - so that the next day will be easier. I keep thinking of things to do so that our lives will be easier. He only does that sometimes, when it is about something that is important to him. I think I just need to accept that he can do it with a certain number of things, and then that's it, he just gets too exhausted, and the three extra steps that seem easy and logical to the rest of us becomes like a big complicated task, at a time when alarm bells in your brain are just asking you to lie on the couch and do simple things.

I find it hard to figure out when he is simply being lazy and spoilt (by me!), and when I have to accept that doing some simple task feels to him like being woken up at five in the morning and asked to do complicated maths. I think they feel, at the end of a long day, like most people feel when they have just returned, late at night, from a very long journey. That's when we "normal" people find that we can't be bothered to take those extra three steps because it just demands a little too much discipline.

The way I deal with it is, first of all, that I trust that he is in this marriage out of love for me, and secondly, I find ways of discussing it with him that are not menacing, snide or nagging. And of course I accept that he is not going to lose his ADD anytime soon, even if I manage to persuade him that my way is better and more logical. I firmly belive that the less pressure I put on him in terms of nagging and complaining, the more he is willing to explain what goes on in his mind. Many non-ADHD spouses here seem to complain about their spouses being ill-tempered. I wonder, though, how much of this is caused by stress and defensiveness towards accusations of not being adequate spouses. In my experience, the more I take the pressure off my husband, the more he turns out to be a varm, honest, loving and appreciative man, and he tries more. I wonder if anyone else has the feeling that deep down, their ADHD partner is in fact more honest and sensitive than most people.

Hope this helps. I'm a bit of an amateur in this field as we've been married for less than a year...

I heard the same thing last night

Sounds exactly like my boyfriend who I live with...he says he's just lazy and that's why he doesn't do so many things.

He also doesn't admit to having ADD when I'm incredibly sure he does. And the fact that I have it too doesn't help matters. 

I don't know which makes me more upset; the fact that he's not admitting to maybe having ADD or that he is just ok with being "lazy"