Fear of Negative Communication

DH and I started back with our daily meetings (his request after needing his space). We had a largely positive conversation (YAY!) We talked through some issues from the past weeks (during the time that he was in his space 3+ weeks). We were all set to meet again tonight - I was really looking forward to our meeting.  Personally, I had a very stressful day (I have 2 kids that have been ill with influenza for the 7 out of the last 10 days, I had a job interview, received very bad news regarding my dad's health, along with the normal running of a home and family and selling some items online for extra money) I did call DH at the office (1pm) to let him know of a couple of emails that needed his attention prior to the end of the day and that I was (at his request) on my way to register the family at the health club, then a stop at the pharmacy, grocery store, home to fix dinner and then off to my interview, and that I had received really bad diagnosis regarding my dad's health. DH replied that we would talk about all of that later tonight during our meeting. He requested that I call him when I returned home from my errands to deal with the emails and I did. I handled them as he requested. Went about the remainder of my afternoon(preparing dinner, getting ready for my interview, ect), I headed off for my 30 min interview, put dinner in the oven prior to leaving, returned home as the timer was going off on the oven for dinner. I then feed the kids, made a dinner plate for DH, put away the dinner food and checked temperatures (one had a fever that was to high for my liking) and begin to get ready to bring him to the urgent care office as DH was arriving home from work.  I could sense that he had had a difficult day - he was quiet and edgy.  I brought my son to the urgent care, pharmacy and then back home all within 40 mins.  The instant I returned home DH announced that he and my youngest were heading to the club (7:30 pm). Honestly, my initial thought was "what? what about the rest of us? what about me? I could use a break?" but I stopped myself from saying anything and thought again about how he had arrived home and the stress and edginess in his demeanor and realized that DH really did NEED to go to the gym. That going to the gym was a way for him to deal with his "mood" in a positive way. So I helped my daughter find her things for the gym and sent them both off with a smile and "have a good time!" While I tended to my son, did some house work, ect. figuring that he would be back in time for our 9 pm meeting.  9 pm came and went - no DH no phone call from DH - still I figured he was just running late. Surely he wouldn't forget about our meeting tonight. Well, 10:30 pm he and daughter arrive home - I admit I was not in the mood to chat by then. I was very quiet - afraid that if I said anything that I'd say the wrong things and really make a mess of things. All I could think was I don't want to blow this. I don't want to get mad. Getting mad only makes things worse and I want to handle this the right way. - I want to be a positive energy force, not negative. That's when I realized that I didn't know what is the right way to communicate this to him?  I feel that I need to let him know how his missing a meeting when I really needed his emotional support (regarding dad's health and the kids being sick) made me feel disrespected and unsupported.  Just as I supported him in his need to go to the gym tonight.  But how do I do this without sounding like a mother punishing her child - I want him to understand that his actions (going to the gym for 2.5 hrs and missing our meeting) has an effect on our relationship (feelings of being disrespected/unsupported for me). 

I have been pouring over this site for that last 2 hours making notes of area for my to work on and improve (which I am completely open and willing and ready to do) and looking for tips on communication of not so pleasant issues. I have found some great ideas for self improvement but not anything on how and when to approach ADD spouse with a topic that may come off sounding like I'm being critical of him or blaming him - when what I really want to communicate is that my feelings were hurt (feeling disrespected and unsupported) when you did A (missing the meeting).  If I say it that way - will it be perceived by DH that I am blaming?

Any suggestions are welcome.

Have you tried writing him an

Have you tried writing him an email? I have/had the same problem and the only thing that has helped me to voice my sadness without triggering (sometimes) the negative response from DH because it would SOUND hypercritical was to take my voice out of it completely. Things have degenerated here to the point that he will shut down right away now and will state he doesnt care anymore. He wont even read my emails often or when he does, wont respond. HOWEVER it is still the best way to xommunicate for us on these hot button issues. I just need to reread what I write to make sure the info is short and concise or else he wont get its content.

lululove, thanks for the

lululove, thanks for the reply. I have not tried the email yet.  I may try that next time. Thanks again for the direction - next time I will have a new resource to use :)


confused60's picture

Try being more proactive in

Try being more proactive in getting definitive answers to your assumptions.  You assumed he would be back in time for your meeting, but he was not.  So, to avoid future disappointment ask "Will you be back in time for our planned meeting?  Yes?  If anything changes, call me and let me know.  The last time you went to the gym you missed our meeting and didn't bother to tell me.  These meetings are important to me and that really hurt my feelings."  Say it calmly and stop talking after you deliver your message. 

Or something like that.  Don't assume anything,  because he is clearly not on the same wavelength as you (doesn't see through your eyes and doesn't have the same standards).  There's nothing wrong with stating your feelings at any time "I want to get something off my chest.  When you went to the gym last Saturday you missed our meeting and didn't..."  You have to decide if he will view this as confrontational or not.

Did you really do all that stuff on Saturday?  Are you super woman?  Sorry about your Dad, I hope he gets past his health issues.  Congrats on the job interview, I hope it went well for you! 

Confused60, You are right,


You are right, I made the error of assuming about our appointment. I love your suggested verbage when I discuss this with him. 

Yes we are not on the same wave length - I am working towards this.  I think that he would find it confrontational if I said that I need to get something off my chest.

So I agreed to go to coffee this morning with him. What I said was this: I missed having our meeting last night. I could see that you where really stressed and needed to hit the gym - I'm really happy that you were able to use one of the tools to help relieve that stress.  I felt disrespected and unsupported when we didn't meet last night.

DH said that he thought he told me that we moved our meeting to tomorrow - guess I didn't tell you.

DH then asked me what else is going on. I asked if he would like to hear about my interview. 

DH - yeah, I forgot that you had one yesterday.  Guess I'm not really paying attention to you.  Well, I have been really busy, just way to busy lately.

So I did share with him the details along with the stuff about my dad (he forgot about that also). BTW my dad has been diagnoised with Dementia/Alzhemeirs and he lives over 1700 miles away. Oh yeah, and my mom has been in the hospital for 8 days with a deep staph infection in her leg - it will take another 90 days to heal. 

And yes, I really did do all those things yesterday (friday) afternoon the same night he went to the gym after getting home from work. That is typical day for me - there is always so much to do.

As for superwoman - No, just a busy mom. 

Again, thanks for your support and well wishes and your advice - it helps for us non adders' to hear from the adders'.




You took the words right out

You took the words right out of my mouth Confused (Matt, is it?).

Let it go, this time. Be proactive next. If a time adjustment needs to be agreed to on gym night, so be it. I know structure feels best for us (and works best for ADDers) but sometimes being creative and bending a little is necessary. Definitely ask if he'll be home in time for the meeting and ask he let you know if not. If he calls to say he'll be late, then just ask "if it is OK with you, I'd like to have our meeting after you get home instead of skipping it tonight".

Another suggestion, if you really need to talk...and it sounds like you really did last night..then when he gets home, just ask "can we have a quick meeting once you get your things put away and get settled?" Him being there on time matters to you, I know, but again since this is something you really needed last night then just talk to him after he gets home. As long as you aren't feeling like he is doing this to intentionally blow off the meetings (seems more like hyperfocus on his long awaited gym membership to me) then I would try and work with him a little, especially since you NEED his support right now.

Crossing my fingers that the exercise will start to produce many happy hormones for him!!

I'm really sorry about your dad. I will keep you all in my prayers.

Sorry Sherri, I couldn't let

Sorry Sherri, I couldn't let it go. I thought about it and I just couldn't do it.  (See above reply to Matt/Confused60) and I agree with Matt and you - that next time I need to be proactive!  And yes, adjusting time to accommodate one's schedule can be done - no problem there.  And yes, if he had or does call I will ask for the meeting upon his return - I can and will be flexible.

I did really need to talk last night. It was one of those situations where I NEEDED my spouse. I needed someone to listen and give me some support. I have needed my spouse for a long time and he hasn't been there - he needed his space and I gave that to him, but he made the decision that he was ready to rejoin me and our meetings. I took that to mean that we were here to support each other.  After the long and stressful week 10 days it was time for me.   

I think I need to clarify that I wasn't able to talk to him last night because he wasn't on time for the meeting it was that I felt I had understood his need (to go to the gym/relieve his stress/attend to his hyperfocus) and that I was willing to give him that time and wait until he was in a better place.  I felt that he took advantage of that to the point of being greedy. Really 2.5 hrs at the gym, when you hadn't been home for more than 40 mins before sprinting off, and having seen how sick his son was (as we were leaving for urgent care) he didn't even ask what was wrong with him when we arrived back home - he was on the computer. 

 I don't believe that he intentionally blew off the meeting - I believe that he forgot and was hyper-focused on being at the gym. He was in a good mood when he arrived home. He ate and then went to bed. 

We did have a bit of a forward movement today. - one of our conversations today went like this:

DH was upset that our son (who is on his b-ball team) was sick (he has a fever and an ear and sinus infection and has asthma that is uncontrolled due to the viral cold that started this illness) and didn't make the game, DH is the coach, DH went to the game to coach, came home and stated: "He (son) needs to work on being healthy and taking care of himself"

I asked him to clarify what (son) could improve on so that he doesn't become sick. DH "he can wear a hat outside, wear a jacket outside and clean the wax out of his ears -so he doesn't get an ear infection"

Ok son ALWAYS wears a head (pulled down around is ears) and wears a winter jacket outside and having wax in his ears didn't cause his ear infection - the viral cold/flu did. So I still don't understand what son needs to do (in DH opinon) to take care of himself - please explain.

DH - "He (son) needs to work on being healthy and taking care of himself" I asked him to clarify what (son) could improve on so that he doesn't become sick. DH "he can wear a hat outside, wear a jacket outside and clean the wax out of his ears -so he doesn't get an ear infection" "- again.

Then DH said "never mind, just forget it and drop it now or we will all have a terrible weekend" To which I replied "I want to understand and support what you are thinking and feeling that is why I am asking questions to understand. But when you cut me off and stuff down my feelings it is hurtful and we aren't communicating with each other. I am working really hard to change my way of thinking, communicating and to understand what life is like for you since we are different. Not wrong just different."

Finally DH took two minutes and then answered that he was really frustrated feeling that he isn't a good coach and that having to coach kids knowing that the team is going to lose when the 2 best players are out for the game and he just wants the kids to have fun.

I applauded him for giving me that information. Stating that he is cutting himself down - told him that he is a good coach, the boys are having fun and he is putting in the extra time to help develop their skills.

I also explained to him that this is the part of the conversation that we need to have together to communicate. That if we can cut out the 1st part (the nonsense blaming) and get right to that last part we will really begin to start effective communication with each other.

DH agreed that he needs to have that conversation about how he was really frustrated, feeling that he isn't a good coach and that having to coach kids knowing that the team is going to lose when the 2 best players are out for the game and he just wants the kids to have fun - with me and not just inside of his head.

Break through!! After this things were good for a bit.

Then he had an outburst (someone was standing where he was wanting to walk through and he was mad about it)  and has been hiding in the basement (drinking beer) for the entire afternoon.  So much for a pleasant date night possibility.

Oh well, any progress is progress and I feel good about starting to understand some of his behaviors and that I have been taking his reactions the wrong way.  So he must be needing some space right now and that's okay. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Thanks for the prayers.....they are needed.

How are things with you? Feb 1 is coming up quick - things still on track for that?

gigs26's picture

Timing it right

One other suggestion is to re-think the timing of your meetings.  Especially if your husband is on stimulant medication, most of us find the effectiveness has drastically or completely worn off by evening, which makes it harder to organize or schedule the evening to make time, and harder to be wholly focused on a conversation that does happen.  Pick a time that you can both expect to be at your best - during/right after breakfast, maybe; or 30 minutes after he takes his medication (or whenever he's found it kicks in); or after he exercises (evidently not in the evenings, given your tough experience above); or whatever else gives you both confidence that you'll both be 100%.  Mornings, too, will probably be more predictable, especially if you can talk before the kids get up.

You are probably pretty consistently 100%; we ADHDers...well, like the girl with the little curl - when we are good, we are very, very good, but when we are bad, we are terrible.  May as well plan to take advantage of the good, to the extent you and he can.

That doesn't mean you should have to forego all comfort or care at the end of a terrible day. Maybe at the end of a long day, you two can check in enough for you to say, "I had a terrible/exhausting/etc. day today, and I'd really like to talk with you about it tomorrow morning.  OK?"

It's not about making things "easier" for him; this is about him planning to give you his best.

Timing of meetings


Thank you for your post.  My DH decided to take himself off his meds - didn't like how the meds made him feel like he was in a fog (depression med and stimulant meds). So the timing of his meds is no longer an issue. 

He choose the time to meet - 9 pm each week night and 6 am on the weekend mornings (which he would oversleep on frequently). I finally had to request that we change the weekend morning meetings (which were only about him wanting to go out for coffee and talk about his work) to 9 pm because I needed my rest (I was working 40+hrs a week, running a home and 2 kids (that are ill frequently) by myself. I figured that if I all he was willing to talk about was his job, then I was getting my sleep. Not really right, but well sometimes that's just a way to cope.

I would like to meet in the mornings but strangely enough DH has a difficult time getting out of the house to go to work - he is either super early (leaving house at 4 am -because he rarely sleeps more than 5 hours a night) or he is so exhausted that he has overslept and is running late for work.  There isn't any type of schedule - its whatever, whenever and wherever for him. He doesn't like schedules, or alarm clocks. The kids are up at 6:45 am for school - so I would be willing to meet at 6:15 am.

I did get a little chuckle from the reference to the little girl with a curl - it does ring true.

Thank you Gigs26 for stating that It's not about making things "easier" for him; this is about him planning to give you his best - I wish he would be on board with that idea.  When I asked him tonight "where do I fit in on your list of priorities?"  DH just started off into space, then scheduled his reminder for a conf. call for work tomorrow on his phone and said he was thinking about all his work and studying he needs to do and how much stress that is for him right now. But he wouldn't/couldn't give me an answer - guess that says it all, huh? Now his actions and words are in tandem.  Then he needed to end our conversation so he could begin focusing on his work and studying. Okay. We called it a night; and he picked up his cell phone and called his mom - yes, really. 

I did mention that I needed to speak with him about some pressing issues Friday afternoon - he said to talk at our meeting that night - the meeting didn't happen Friday night. Saturday night was to be date night and he blew that off too. So here we sit at Sunday - still haven't talked about issues because he is too stressed by his work and studying right now - how about after Wednesday of this week?  Yes, seriously. 

Maybe tomorrow will be better or I guess, that should be Thursday when all of his stress should be relieved - at least until the next "drama session" starts.

yes, when she is good she is very, very good, when she is bad.....




I have no idea how to help you. I feel the same way, that my husband's work and clients are much more important to him than I am. But if I call him on it, he says no, but he needs to do his job in order to support me. But I think yours takes the cake. Have you even had a chance to tell him about your dad's diagnosis?

I don't know how to say "I need some support and time from you" without the ADDer's typical defenses kicking in.


Sueann, Thanks - well I did


Thanks - well I did tell DH about my dad's health issue - he replied "well, that's to bad". That was it...period.  This is a man he has known for 25 years, at one time they worked together and he is my father. I felt it was a cold, unfeeling reply.  Whatever.

Yes, I do believe that he places work over me (and just about everything else as well) but yet he still claims that he wants our marriage to work.  I believe his intentions are true.  I believe that he doesn't know how to propel forward to make his intentions = actions.  Which as we know is really difficult, esp for someone with ADD. 

I want to make our marriage work. I am still here.  I need to speak with our counselor at this point.  I am realizing that I need to stop rather than trying to get him to understand what I need - otherwise (right now) I make things worse.  So in a manner, I too, am stuck/can't propel forward to a better line of communication between he and I.  As luck (bad) would have it our counselor was ill today so it will be at least another week before we meet - and this is as long as DH deems that it is a couples week rather than his session.

I feel for you Sueann - it is hurtful to feel that we always come in last place.  I am working so hard to shake that feeling, but I am feeling a bit disoriented about how to do this.

Thanks for your "ear"