Financially supporting ADD boyfriend

Good morning all,

I am new to this site.  I would like a bit of advice.

I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years and we live together.  He is a contractor and has not been working outside of a few odd jobs here and there.  He has contributed very little to nothing to the household bills.  I pay the mortgage, food, utilities and even pay for vacations etc.  I even had to buy his brother's birthday present yesterday.

He doesn't seem to be motivated to really find work and says he feels bad about not being able to contribute.  I beginning to feel as though he feels it's easier for me to support him.  He is remodeling the house we live in but it's taking quite a long time.  I work 40-50 hours a week and I do the majority of the cooking and house cleaning.

Resentment is becoming a real issue.  I received a large bonus from work which has allowed me to pay for the remodel project for the most part.  However, covering his bills, the mortgage and utilities has financially devastated me.   He says that the remodel project (I have been working on the remodel with him on the weekends) is keeping him from working on other jobs.  I understand that for the most part, but I leave for work and he stays in bed until 8:00 or 9:00 and then does a few things on the house.  I suggested that he get jobs outside of the remodel and we can work on the house in our off time.  He agreed, however on the "off" time, he is too tired to do anything and says he needs a break from work.  Geez.  The remodel is not just benefiting me, it's also benefiting him.  We have discussed getting married and I would add his name to my house.  I am now rethinking that.

He gets mad when I bring it up.  I don't think I present it well.  He just tells me he doesn't want to hear it and that he is trying and to shut the "f" up.

What should I do?  Should I stop this relationship or hang in?



You basically just need to

You basically just need to ask yourself if you want "this" to be your life. I assume he has ADHD? you didn't say.

For some, as long as they could provide for the family (and children) then being the only one working might not be something they care about. If you do, I would suggest you start having a hard discussion with him. What you are living now will most likely be a snapshot of your future. Excuses for not working, you stressing and killing yourself to provide everything, and your feeling resentful and angry about it. All three of these things will most likely increase with time.

Negotiate a schedule

I'm ADHD, and am married for more than 15 years to a wonderful woman. I was diagnosed two years ago. When we were dating, I was self employed, and lived a carefree hand to mouth lifestyle. I'd always find ways to provide for myself. Before we married, my wife said I needed to get a job with a paycheck and benefits. I did this. I completed my associates, went on to a bachelors and a masters. I have a good job. I make good money. I am as happy as an ADHDer can be (being a jerk and all). So don't think that what he is today is what he will be tomorrow. Everyone has the capacity to change. Don't tolerate his sleeping in, but address this with a conversation. Ask him to put himself in your shoes. in my case, I have lots of empathy, but I need to be led to it. It doesn't come naturally. So reverse the roles in the situation, and ask him how he'd feel if he were you. Don't let him obfuscate. I'd recommend that you work with him to define a schedule and budget to complete the work. Hold him tom the schedule. Knowing how long this situation should last will remove some stress from you. Anticipatory stress is hard to deal with. Hold him to the schedule and budget. Falling behind has opportunity costs for both of you. The longer he renovates, the less time he has to find and keep clients. He needs to commit to completing the job. If he is unable to hold up his end of the arrangement, then you will have your answer on the long term prospects for your relationship. He's fortunate to have you, it just might take a jolt for him to realize this.

thank you velofocus!

Good morning velofocus,

Thank you so very much for your response! 

He is exactly like that, he is self employed, was living carefree hand to mouth.  I am a much more "secure" person in that I need stability and steady income.  It's hard for me to live hand to mouth and have tried to avoid that stress.  At least I perceive hand to mouth as stressful.  He is a wonderful man.  He can be the most giving person as it relates to his time, unfortunately, his time usually goes to the neighbors and friends. (Fixing items in their homes for free)... little things.  I do admire that about him though.

I took your suggestion and talked with him about sleeping in etc.  I approached it from a perspective of caring and expressed what I need in the relationship to take care of myself.  He initially was defensive and reactionary.  I backed off and stayed quiet, then he said I was right.  He agreed that he needs to help me more and he did put himself in my shoes.  He suggested that I write things down that I would like help with.  Is that part of ADHD?  Needing to write things down?   I am more than happy to do that if it helps us both.

How can I approach the schedule for the completion of the home remodel?  I don't want to come across as a nag, but do want to get this done before Thanksgiving.  There really isn't much left to do in the house and find that he does have a hard time complete projects.  Is that also part of ADHD?

Again velofocus, thank you so very much for your response!  It's so good to hear that you went and completed your masters!  What helped you jump in and complete it?  Was is just your future wife asking?  I want to be aware of how ADHD effects a person who has it and be cognizant of that.  I also want to learn tips as to how to deal with it in such a way that comes from a place of caring without hurting the other person emotionally while still expressing what I need.

Thank you again!




Remodeling projects are big! 

Remodeling projects are big!  Being a new home owner, I'm learning that even the smallest, seemingly simplest projects involve more work that what I originally anticipated and before I know it I'm overwhelmed.  And I say that being the nonADHD spouse!  Do you think that maybe he could be feeling overwhelmed?  I know that we have a huge box (the kind that a vacuum comes in), and it is full of unopened mail and almost everything that's needed filing in the last year or so.  I know to my DH, it must feels like a remodeling project!  So recently I suggested that instead of sitting down to tackle The Box, that we schedule an amount of time to work on it every week.  After that amount of time (I love using timers, BTW) we stop right where we are and clean up.  Sure, it's going to take quite a few sessions to clear out that box.  It could take us over a month to get through it and we're (I say that, but I mostly mean me) okay with it.  We took our "remodeling project" and kinda turned it into small, manageable "maintenance tasks". 

I am not having so much luck with the lists though.  I feel like I can write him all the lists he wants but unless he's actually going to LOOK at them, they're not effective.  I keep trying to get him to write his own lists, thinking that the actual act of making a list will help him remember that he has one to begin with, but it's hard for him to remember to make it.  We had a cork board with Post-its, but I took it down once I realized I was the only one putting notes on it and none of them were getting taken off.  I felt like the things I needed were just as ignored as before. 

I too, feel like I don't present things very well to him.  No matter how I approach the topic, after so many reminders (no matter how they're presented) it feels like nagging to me.  I REALLY hate to nag.  I think it makes me feel just as crummy as it does him. 

Opposites attract?

My wife has many of the same attributes you have. Maybe people in our ADHD tribe are attracted to people who are secure and calm. My best friend growing up had the same attributes. 

As far as approaching the project schedule, it's important to make him feel like he is part of the solution, not the problem. He will know he is the problem once he reflects on it, but let him find his own way there. 

You need to have a schedule because (these are just ideas, but whatever you come up with, make it about you and him, not just about him - "the team"):

  • Finances are tight, and "the team" needs to budget for the expenditures in advance
  • You are looking forward to his being able to work on projects that pay money, so "the team" can enjoy the wonderful work he completes - together
  • You are stressing over not knowing how long the project is taking, and you are looking forward to not having the project hang over both of you, so you can do stuff together

Ask him if he can come up with a high level timeline (and budget, but hold off on this). Without knowing what the project entails, here are some examples of milestones you'd like to have a date attached to:

  • framing complete
  • electrical complete
  • plumbing complete
  • walls closed
  • fixtures installed
  • doors and windows installed
  • trim complete
  • flooring and walls complete

Let him attach the dates to it first, and then ask him to assign a rough budget to achieve each of these milestones. Then meet to discuss progress as he completes the work. 

Is he taking medicine, or going it alone? Before I knew I was ADHD, I would do "good enough" work, and my honey would sometimes have to nag me. Now that I accept who I am, and take meds, I am a project completing mad man. I replaced all of the windows on our first floor, storm doors, replaced the back wall of our garage, and renovated many sections of our home. While working full time at a desk. I now take the time to make sure the work is as good as it can be, not just good enough. 

When I think of all the kids in schools taking meds, I wonder what the impact will be on them as they grow older. I always thought of myself as different, and had adapted some techniques to overcome my scattered mind. I didn't go anywhere without a notepad and pen. That's been replaced by technology, I use a combination of a spreadsheet in Google docs in "the cloud", and Evernote. I can access these from my phone or any computer. 

I keep a list of home projects on the spreadsheet, and when my honey starts to get upset that things aren't getting done, I ask her to pick the one item on the list that she'd really like to see completed. I then throw it all down to complete that one item for her. This goes in cycles.

So your question on how to get a list going is a good one, and these are some considerations for how to get him to keep a list (I love bullet points, it's how I talk to people. They usually don't like it.):

  • Don't write his list for him
  • Encourage him to get a notepad and always carry it. I used to prefer the 5x8 bound pads. Over time I moved to Moleskin pocket sized, and finally to the Internet
  • When you ask him to do something, ask him to put it on his list. Don't accept "okay, I'll write it down" as an answer. Encourage him to write it down now. We live in "now" and "not now". Not now is akin to never. 

It won't be easy to get him organized, but the fact that he listened to you when you discussed his sleeping in is an indicator that he can change. Keep in mind that his first reaction to any help you try to provide him will be defensive. Don't be offended, just be firm and rational. I came to this forum last night because we had just finished a discussion around dishes, where I became defensive. It got worse from there. No matter where I go, or what I do, my ADHD is there with me. 

Okay, that was some condensed hyperfocus, thanks to Teva and Adderal. Now back to work... feel free to ask any other questions. It helps me to help you. So thank you. 

Basic skills

By the way, if he can't come up with a timeline and budget that is realistic, he shouldn't be in his own business. This will keep him from being able to accurately estimate projects.