Double Standard - "thanking" the AD/HD spouse

I need some help to understand something. For 3 3/4 of my 4 year marriage, I have had to carry the brunt of everything.... shopping, bills, the cleaning, cooking, laundry, child care, the list goes on. In all those years I can probably say that I was ever thanked FOR ANYTHING, less than a dozen times.

So, now my newly diagnosed husband, on meds and we're in couples therapy - occasionally makes a dinner, runs a vacuum, changes a diaper or starts a load of laundry (notice I said start not "finish")..... And if I don't say THANK YOU  .... Oh Thank you and completely acknowledge the task. He pouts, gets angry, tells me that I am not being supportive, not being appreciative, not understanding how difficult it is for him and his AD/HD. And tells me why should he want to help if I cannot acknowledge all he does. 

I am trying my very best to understand just what it must be like to have AD/HD - when is he going to even take a moment interest in what it's like to be married to someone with AD/HD.  I understand that I need to encourage him and thank him - but is it really necessary to thank him for EVERYTHING and to do so emphatically!

Truly am at my wits end.... ohh and thank you!

First, you have to understand

First, you have to understand that it IS much harder for them to follow through on things. Second, you have to understand that more than just about anything else, what they do seek and NEED is our acceptance and appreciation. What seems so silly to you, makes a world of difference for them. They've spent most of their lives being told they were lazy and stupid so it becomes a natural part of them to crave the approval of others..in ways that sometimes we non-ADHDers can't understand. Third, you want to encourage the help to continue so you do make a big deal of it, with at least a "it really means a lot to me that you're trying and helping. Thank you."

Yes, they want and need more "atta boy"s than we understand...and it sometimes feels unfair to us. But marriage isn't about keeping score. It is about acknowledging the needs of the other person and doing everything we can to meet those needs. To come to a healthy place, you have to get past the mindset that his needs are silly or seem unfair to you. I know I am guilty myself of not acknowledging all of the progress I see...and I am making a effort to change that. So many men will do nothing, will even do less than what the family needs to simply survive..if he's trying, acknowledge it. I feel that in the end these kinds of things will come back around to us somehow...and we will be rewarded.

I do understand - but it's getting harder

Thank you for your response. I DO understand it is difficult for him to do these things, and make these changes. I'm trying so very hard to be patient and understanding and trying to give him more. I have been trying to up the atta-boys. I guess my frustration is in the fact that, although I know I'm not supposed to be keeping score - really and truly, I would LOVE an atta-boy thrown at me every now and again. --We aren't supposed to rely on someone else to make us happy - BUT we all want and need that show of attention and appreciation.
He needs me to tell him thank you and that I appreciate all he's doing - my issue is, as I have been told - flat out - by our counselor is to not expect the same in return or even any semblance of same in return. He stops doing if he doesn't feel I'm thanking him enough, and it becomes my fault that he has stopped trying. But I am expected to keep plugging along, bailing out the boat and have little to no hope of any acknowledgment of all I do. Sorry, I'm not trying to sound like a whiner (and in re-reading this I know I do) .... but I'd like a little appreciation too! Otherwise, where's my drive to keep doing it. There's where I feel the double standard falls.

It is about acknowledging the needs of the other person and doing everything we can to meet those needs._
I'd like something I need to be seen as a priority and not an afterthought or not even a thought at all. I don't think his needs are silly or unfair - what's unfair is that I have to accept my needs are probably never going to be a priority to him. That our son and I will continue to be way down that list.
I keep asking about changing this or that and I keep hearing "well, that's not going to happen, you need to change your expectations, change your outlook, change your needs." Change is expected of me, change to accept this and modify that, and get over this and forget about that, changes need to be made in me - even if it is something fundamental in me, but I am being told that I cannot and should not expect any real kind of change in him. I DO understand there are some things he cannot change, but that there's techniques and tricks that we can learn and use to help with these things.
I'm running out of steam, I'm running out of desire, I'm running out of lots and lots of things. I have no safety or security, not provided by him. I have to provide my own (and for him and for our son)- and forgive me if I am wrong but isn't part of being married, a reason for being married is to help the other person feel safe, and secure, valuable and just a little appreciated and loved. I got married because I loved this man, we were going to build a life together, he made me promises and we had plans and dreams. And now I am being told that those promises won't be kept, and those dreams most likely won't happen...

They've spent most of their lives being told they were lazy and stupid
My husband was NOT told he was lazy or stupid, at least by his family. His family, especially his father, to this day, still says there is nothing “wrong” with him (please realize that "wrong" is my F-I-L's term, not mine). He disagrees with my husbands AD/HD diagnosis, thinks that we just need to let “him be” – and this man is a psychology professor. He always just said that his son heard a different drummer, is just trying to find himself, and is just a non-conformer. He was encouraged and taken care of.

I feel that in the end these kinds of things will come back around to us somehow...and we will be rewarded.
I hope this is true, I’ve always felt it was true, I’m now beginning to wonder. My Mom keeps telling me there’s a reason that we were brought together, I just have to wait and see why. But right now, I’m having a really hard time waiting…
 

Wow! You've captured how I feel

I could have written every word you wrote (if I could write as well), except that my husband and I have no children together. You have expressed the feelings of us non-ADHD spouses so well.

I saw a promo for the movie "Why Did I Get Married" and found myself wondering why, indeed, I got married, if my needs are never to be met or acknowledged. It's a question we all have to wonder about.

Hugs to you and thanks for expressing yourself so well.

I don't have long, but wanted

I don't have long, but wanted to clarify something.

You don't give and give and give and never get anything in return...at least that isn't my advice...or what I was trying to say. You set boundaries for yourself and you demand better for yourself, in the meantime  you exemplify the way you want to be treated in the way you treat him. The hope is that he'll eventually 'get it'. I once felt like I wasn't very high up on my husband's list of priorities either, and to this day I do not get "thank you's" for anything I do (housework, laundry, etc) except when I personally do something for him like bring him coffee or something. I'm OK with that. He has never even attempted to do housework or chores, but I would gladly thank him 100 times if he did, in the hopes that he would continue.

In order for things to start to change, someone has to initiate that change...and most of the time it won't be the ADDers. Ideally you change your attitude, love and accept him for who he truly is, working on "deal breaker" behaviors in counseling/with professionals, and hoping that in the end your changes will affect changes in him. As long as there is resentment, anger, frustration and bitterness nothing is ever going to change. You have to be willing to face the reality that he may not ever change and then you have to decide if you can live with things the way they are for the rest of your life...but for your own sake and happiness, you have to stop being angry about wha you don't have and start accepting what you do have. I say this because it is exactly what I had to do. I set boundaries, I told him what I was not going to live with (fighting, chaotic household, being made to feel like I was 'crazy' or 'a bitch' because I don't get along with my step-daughter) and KNEW that I had no right to ask him for any of these things if I werent' willing to give him what he wanted...acceptance, love, and to let go of my anger. If he hadn't responded in such a positive way to my changes, I was prepared to leave.

how do you let the anger go

How did you do it - how did you let that anger go? If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it. Really and truly, that's why I'm on this site.
I do so good, for weeks on end - then something happens and I run smack into a wall. I get frustrated, angry, sad. That's what led me to my post last week. I pray I have what it takes to make this work, but sometimes I get so tired, so very tired......

Thank you for your words of clarity and the reality check, I know I needed it.

I wish I could say it came

I wish I could say it came easily, but it didn't. I had some pretty harsh 'reality checks' happen to me that took the fight (and anger) out of me. I couldn't do it anymore. We were separated, which was devastating in itself because I still loved him but his behavior had gotten so bad that I asked him to leave...and he did. During our separation my father had an ATV accident and died after 28 days in the hospital. It was such a low time in my life, but it also was a wake up call that I desperately needed. I had been in counseling, at that point, for about 2 years and although he had identified my anger and rode me about it quite hard, he hadn't identified anyone else's issues at all. I knew I was angry...and I knew what my excuse for being angry was ('out of control' husband-undiagnosed/untreated ADHD) but I didn't know how to let go of it either. I saw things from a different perspective during our separation, and was willing to try and meet him 1/2 way, but when my Daddy died I just decided I was 100% done with that life and being that angry person and I decided to do what I had to do to let go of that anger. I knew that my anger would probably eventually return if my husband didn't get on board with the idea that we were doing things differently from there on out, so I gave him the choice...change or we aren't going to be together. Get help or there is no reason for us to continue any further. He agreed. We got back in church, found a counselor who finally gave us a diagnosis and is working to help us cope with the stuff that ADHD brings to the table, helping me deal with my codependency, and although it isn't perfect, our marriage and homelife are MUCH better than before. Progress, no matter how slow, is all I ask for. 

It isn't easy, I don't have the magic solution...but I do know that letting go of the anger and resentment is just as important for you as it is anything else. If you're doing good for weeks, then you're doing good. It isn't a perfect journey, we all hit our own walls occasionally...the key is to get back up and keep moving forward and not focusing on the wall and feeling like each wall we hit is the end of the road.

"Only you need to change"

Here's the bottom line on improving a marriage.  It won't happen for as long as one partner holds to the "that's not gonna happen, YOU must change" point of view.  Improving a relationship means that both people need to be working at it by working on themselves, not demanding that someone else change for them.  It sounds as if you are getting change in your relationship to a degree BUT some day your husband will need to acknowledge AND ACT ON the fact that we ALL need to be validated and that you need his support just as he needs yours.

One of the issues that comes up with almost all of the couples I work with is that it takes a while for the non-ADHD partner to accept how slowly an ADHD partner is able to start the change process.  In my observation, it takes about a year of good, solid effort for a person newly diagnosed with ADHD to come to terms with REALLY understanding what it means in their lives, get enough success at changing things that they believe (inside) they are capable of change, get the meds and treatment organized, etc.  During this period a non-ADHD spouse is often impatient ("we know what the problem is so let's fix it!").  Your husband may not be talking about it right now, but it's likely that he's working pretty hard at the change and he really longs for your recognition.  The fact that he is not yet thinking about thanking you shouldn't be a reason to hold back on that appreciation.  That said, just because he's needy doesn't mean he can't appreciate you, as well.  Feel free to ask him (not associated with your own praise) to step up finding ways to say "thank you" and "I love you" and "I appreciate that you're here with me" and the like.  One format for this is setting aside 10 minutes in the morning or at night, in bed, when you cuddle and just think of nice things to say to each other.  They can be as simple as "I like the fact that you held the door for me today" and "I liked that you smiled at me when you came home" but they start a new habit of thinking about showing your appreciation.  Take turns saying nice things...and remember that it takes about a month to get new habits to actually be ingrained, so do this every day for a while and see - I bet it will help you feel better.

You mention that he blames you when he stops trying.  Having a safe environment for him to grow in is, indeed, important.  HOWEVER, he is the one who makes the decision to stop trying, not you.  A good response is for you to acknowledge the importance of your support for him but to also help him remember that he's responsible for you.  Something like "I understand that this is a lot of work for you and that my responses matter, but ultimately, you are the one who is deciding whether or not to continue working.  I'm doing lots of hard work to try to take care of my own issues in this, too, and so I hope we will continue to both persevere, even in the face of setbacks that either of us might have."

As for whether your dreams will be met - this may be part of the adjustment period for ADHD.  Just because you have ADHD doesn't mean you can't accomplish things - only that they need to be approached differently.  His/your counselor should be working with you both to try to redefine those dreams so they don't get lost.  Or, at a minimum, replacing them with other dreams that excite you.  Everyone needs a sense of purpose and something to strive for!