Excuses! There is a reason for everything...

With my ADHD husband, there is a reason for everything.  Every inaction or thoughtless action is well defended or responsibility deftly deflected with a series of reasons, explanations, or "facts", presenting him in the most favorable and well meaning way possible.  He is very intelligent, and I think he is subconsciously extraordinarily manipulative in avoiding unpleasant or unrewarding tasks and would rather argue with me for hours making both of us miserable than face those tasks.

My husband stays home, and I work.  There are certain chores that are hard for me to do because of my own condition, and he has agreed to do those chores and take more responsibility around the house to make it easier on me.  He doesn't.  I do more than my share around the house.   He sometimes cleans up, but most of the time, the house stays messy and I go without clean dishes or clean laundry until I get overwhelmed or desperate and do it myself (resenting him for having to do it while he plays computer games).

He feels bad about it.  He doesn't want to see me on my feet washing dishes after a long day at work, in pain, missing even more precious time with my son.  Yet, doing it then rarely seems to be an acceptable option for him.  

Instead he will put an enormous amount of effort into defending why he cant do the dishes right now, why he hasn't done them the past few days (or week), and why I should stop doing the dishes and let him do them later.  He will also spend a lot of effort trying to justify doing only some of a task, reasoning that finishing the task (at least to my standards) is unnecessary and inconsequential.  I wish he would put half as much effort into gathering himself up to do what needs to be done as he spends trying to convince me that he is justified in not doing it or not having done it already.  

What really sucks, is that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place in that I cant do it myself without significant pain or discomfort, and if I do I am enabling him; I cant count on him to do it, and if I value my sanity, I cant leave it undone.  Is there another option?  My husband doesn't seem to mind living in a dirty house, he doesn't notice the mess, he just operates around it.  I do notice, and it causes me considerable anxiety.  So, I am the one suffering the consequences.  The only consequence to him is that I get upset.

There is always something.  Something completely out of his control has hindered him from doing the chores.  If it is not something else he had to do that interfered, then he wasn't feeling well or forgot to take his medication, which contributes to him not feeling well.  My husband has admitted that he has a deep-seeded belief that he should not have to do chores when he doesn't feel well.  He claims to not feel well often, and I mean a few days a week, if not every day.  He has admitted on numerous occasions to having trumped up and exaggerated illnesses or discomfort or fatigue in order to create a justifiable excuse for not doing chores.  He plays it up big time.  He will carry on a ruse for days in hopes of convincing me that his pain is greater than or comparable to mine.   He admits this.  He will promise that he will do the housework as soon as he is feeling better, but then there is another reason that comes up.   It makes it very difficult for me to feel sorry for him or express appropriate sympathy when he is behaving ill and almost impossible to distinguish when he is really ill.  I know what it means to not feel well, I am no stranger to pain and fatigue, but I cant just blow off work and watch tv all day a few days a week.  Again, I seem to be the only one with any real consequences here.  

I don't agree that he "cant" keep up with the house, because I believe that he can. I believe that he just doesn't know how, or he thinks that there must be an easier way that he hasn't figured out yet, so he is going to wait until he figures out how to make it easier before he puts a lot of effort into doing it now when it is so hard.  How he is going to figure out how to make it easier is also a very abstract concept that I think he is waiting around for an epiphany on.  I think he is deluding himself, that it will always be hard and he needs to start sucking it up and making the effort now instead of putting it off and perpetuating the conflict.  He thinks that I don't care about how hard it is for him.  That isn't true.   I do care.  I understand that ADHD is a mitigating factor in how difficult it is for him to do household tasks.  Where we seem to differ is that I do not think it is a reason or explanation for not doing them, just that he has to work that much harder to get it done.

He has an answer for everything.  How do I address it without it turning into a 2 hour argument every time?  If I refuse to talk to him when I am obviously upset or disappointed, he pushes me for a response or reaction to the point of insanity.  He has some impressive manipulative defense mechanisms that I feel powerless against.  

Taking advantage

He is taking advantage of you. It is said that people won't change until staying like they are becomes more difficult than changing. I know many won't agree with this, but I would make some consequences for his behavior, tell him what they are, how he can change them (very very specific behavior), and stick with it. For example, no sex or even sleeping together unless the bedroom is clean and he is clean; fix up a nice clean room for YOU to hang out/sleep in that he is barred from; cook only for yourself; make use of paper plates; do only YOUR laundry; put a limit on his computer and LOCK it; etc. You can stay very pleasant during this -- no need to butt heads. But just let him know you are going to live the way YOU need to be comfortable, and he can live his sloppy life separately. 

Industrial-strength arguing seems to be part of many disorders. There doesn't seem to be a way to stop it once you "bite." So don't take the bait -- just tell him what you want done (but he doesn't need to hear WHY -- then he can't argue against it) and what will necessarily happen if it doesn't get done, preferably on a daily basis. Make it non-negotiable. If he "can't" do it one day, the consequence happens anyway. Explain to him that even though this may not seem "fair", you must do it that way so you can mentally let it go -- so you don't have to think about it over and over.

Other than that, you may have to just let it go. It probably isn't changeable. I tried everything with my X, and nothing helped. He just loved to argue -- maybe liked the stimulation. To him, arguing was communicating, I guess.

MagicSandwich's picture

Fortunately most

Fortunately most professionals do agree that change happens mostly when "unchange" becomes untenable. Good advice on avoiding the whys of setting boundaries. Sometimes, "because I said so" is enough. 

lynnie70 you are brilliant! You should write a book!

Obviously not brilliant

Hey, I'm obviously not brilliant -- just very experienced, unfortunately. I have always been attracted to "interesting" people, and it has taken me this long to realize that "interesting" does not always translate into "stable." Thanks though! Makes me feel like I can at least contribute something.

Wow! Your situation is just like mine

Like you, I worked and he didn't. But he didn't want to do anything in the way of housework. If I asked him to do anything, like dishes or laundry, he'd say "I'm not your slave". I was working, and I have physical problems like you obviously do. It's like he thinks he's better than everyone else. We should just enjoy his company so much we provide everything for him.

I never found a solution. After over a year of him not having a job or doing anything to make our house livable, I gave up and left him

My ADHD dh will go into a

My ADHD dh will go into a cleaning "frenzy" when company is expected. My dh doesn't do the obvious, but he does clean in his own roundabout way. Do you suppose your dh would be spurred into action if he knew his parents or some of his best friends were coming over for a visit, or an intervention of sorts? And saw all the mess? Sometimes all it takes is his concern about his abilities and he'll want to prove he's not an unmotivated partner. At least that's how it is in our household some of the time. Obviously it's your dh's responsibility if he's the one at home all the time. You are providing the income for him to do the housework as a stay home partner. Do you suppose a change of medication might spur some motivation and purpose within him to take care of the house? I'm sorry this is happening to you and while I'm the SAH, I would feel very guilty if I just sat around and let the house go to pieces. I would also feel like I'm taking care of a child instead of an adult if they were able to play video games instead of contributing to the household.

How many times..

I feel like so many of the responses to posts on here start out with this; I feel like I could have written this myself. The dishes never get 100% done. ("There wasn't room for them to dry." "Such and such happened and seemed more important." "I will get them later, just leave me alone." "You haven't done them in forever either (a blatant lie and deflection.)")

We tried out a professional organizer a little while ago that did help the situation a little. I think they are more receptive when the advice comes from anyone but us as frustrating and demoralizing as that is. She wrote out a sort of brief cleaning/chores schedule focused around dinner and posted it on the cupboard in the kitchen. (I don't think the posting actually helped for more than a week but meh.) The idea was to assign a certain amount of time to chores and then he would use a timer. Regardless of how much he was able to get done, that was his time limit. Things might not get 100% clean, but having him stick to that for any amount of time resulted in a much greater rate of getting those basic kitchen cleaning type chores done. I do see it starting to flag though... so it might not last. But anyway, its one thing we tried that seemed to have results. 

Outside of that, I don't know how old your child is, but you may want to try and get him involved with the chores just to give you a break. Obviously not as easy with the younger ones. However, we have started a new system with our 3 yr old where if her room is clean at the end of the day she gets a quarter to put in her bank. I can't tell you how amazing the difference in her room has been since then. Its become an established part of our bedtime routine. Somewhere before or after bathtime I remind her that she needs to clean her room if she wants to get a quarter tonight. She immediately spurs into action and the thing is nearly spotless. I think part of what made that effective though was that when we started it I sat down with her and cleaned her room super thorough with her. That is what has allowed her to cogitate where all her little toys and things belong, so there is actual order to her cleaning her room now. She no longer just throws things in the toybox that is too small for everything.

I don't know if any of these suggestions help you. Its the very limited amount of positive advice/efforts I feel like I can give. :)

How Many Times.........

How many times have I asked the same things?  Too many to even count at this point.  I can relate to everyone's posts.  I love my husband dearly, but he always frustrates me beyond distraction.  Yes, I've read the books.  I can't even get him to read the books! Let alone take medication.  He seems to think he is just fine the way he is.  Unfortunately, he doesn't know what its like to live on my side of the street.  

We have been married for 10 years.  I have asked him to complete the same projects around our house for the same amount of time.  Still with no success.  I have asked nicely, nagged, asked nicely again and then blown my top a few times as well.  Nothing works!  I have threatened to move out and did leave for one night because I got so frustrated-hoping to make an impact!  It is all promises then, but no follow through. 

He is also a hoarder, so our house has piles of stuff everywhere.  We have a second floor that we don't even use.  I am embarrassed to have anyone over and I have given ultimatums numerous times with no success.  I am at the point that I don't even know if things will ever change.  They certainly haven't up to this point.  As I said, I love him and I want us to be together, but I can't handle all of the clutter and lack of follow through.  The promises are meaningless because there is always some excuse for why things didn't get done.  

I work full time and he stays home doing who knows what-I really don't see much of anything as a visual for what he does, but he is always busy if you ask him.  I know it feels that way to him, but he gets caught up in the same jobs, laundry or mopping the floor, but the other things are left undone.  Paperwork-forget about it.  If I didn't pay the bills we wouldn't even have a home.  I come home and do all of the other stuff as well.  I then get resentful, but keep it inside until I just seem to blow.  I don't know what to do because he is so against even talking about how his ADD affects him and then others around him.

What to do next????   Any other advise would be greatly appreciated!

pissedoff's picture

What is going on

Hi Everyone- it's so sad to see the more honest post. I do not believe that they can only do things to save appearances --- friends, neighbors, work, outside family members etc... But not you. The person they should be most concerned with is being washed of their own identity!!! It's traumatic- and once on that ride its hard to get off because your brain chemistry is mis- firing and self esteem, self respect, and healthy boarders are demolished!!! When a spouse is disregarded in such gross fashion I would say there is more than dh going on! They are making YOU responsible for THEIR short comings!!! Like I told mine - if you lost your legs and had to learn to walk on alternate legs 1. You'd have to decide if its worth- you can wind up running - or wheeling - but it's your choice- I CAN'T DO IT FOR YOU!! but I can help and lend support! But not carry you on my back or you will break me!! So, it's either us! Or, it comes down to you or me- and I'm going to choose me!!! I miss me!! Whatever the diagnosis - you owe you personal life, happiness, identity and well being to no one. You are traumatized and need help! If he isn't going to change- which you know by now and don't want to admit it- please seek help beyond trying to understand him- work on understanding you- helping you!!! Check out institute for relationship harm reduction. It may shock you- you may cry- but you can learn a lot about how to think and help yourself!!! Many blessing!!!and love, and health!!


Actions, not words.

I'm slowly learning that there are things I cannot reason with or argue about with my partner.  There will always be a rationalization in his mind for his behavior no matter how seemingly atrocious.  I would suggest, like Lynnie70, that when communication fails simply take action.  This may be easier for you if you are your husband's sole source of income.  You could stop buying things he needs or wants for starters.  He might throw a giant tantrum, but if you ignore it and firmly maintain that until he starts doing A, B, C etc. you aren't going to be providing such and such for him, the tantrums will blow over and he will start to realize he is NOT going to get what he wants until he plays ball.  The hard part is weathering the tantrums, but I promise they do end eventually when he sees that you aren't going to give in.  If he starts to slip back into irresponsibilty again, take the same action every time.  He'll eventually learn.  The most important thing about this tactic is to NOT defend or rationalize your actions to him.  Simply state that A, B, C = A, B, C no ifs ands or buts.  It sucks to have to take on this kind of parent-child dynamic and it might feel wrong to such resort to such power-plays but when your health and well-being are at stake I think it's necessary.  I know I've struggled pulling this kind of power-trip on my partner but it was always used as a last resort and in dire circumstances.  I simply promised myself that if I set boundaries for when and how I used this tactic I wouldn't end up feeling so tyrannical.  This reward/punishment system sometimes works very well for individuals with ADD because of the way the disorder affects the reward system in their brain which also explains why so many chores are initially avoided as they do not provide as high a stimulation as other more distracting endeavors.