Five Quick Ideas about What "Doing Better" Really Means in a Relationship

Anna Quindlen, at this year's Grinnell College graduation ceremony, said "This is a moment to consider what 'doing better' really means."  She was referring to how we think about personal success, but I think the quote is just as relevant to relationship success.

I urge you all to think about what ‘doing better’ really means within the context of your relationship.  Each person will have their own take on this question, but I thought I would share my own ideas.  After years of thinking of this, I’ve decided that for me, ‘doing better’ means:

  • Focusing my energy on people and loving relationships, not stuff and projects
  • Actively creating happy moments with those I love
  • Encouraging everyone in my family to pursue something for which they have a passion, no matter how foreign that passion might be to me
  • Learning how to say ‘no’ to obligations for which I have little time
  • Finding something every day for which I can say “thank you”

This list, of course, means there are things that 'doing worse' means, too.  For me, that list would include:

  • Imposing my values or way of doing things on others, particularly my husband
  • Allowing anger and frustration to fester, rather than quickly work through the underlying issues that cause them
  • Getting too caught up in what other people want me to do, rather than what I think I should be doing (i.e. letting others set my priorities for me)
  • Not getting enough sleep (bad things cascade into all facets of my life when I'm tired)

Perhaps what's most relevant is that in my early 30s I might have told you that my priorities were those on the "doing better" list.  But my actions would have been much more in line with my "doing worse" list.  So it's important to not only understand what doing better means to you, but also evaluate whether or not your actions follow your intent.

What does “doing better” mean to you?  And, so this isn’t too theoretical an exercise, are there things you can do to help you ‘do better?’

Comments

No new opportunity

I have been marry for 39 years, with an ADHD husband that   don't want to give us a different opportunity. We hurt each other like pros, we live in different houses so we can continue our relationship. We develop a mother - child marriage, that filled us resentments anger and betrayals. Lots of sadness is taking my life to a clinical depression, while his new Moto is "I need to be alone, away from your influence" 

How can I explain to him theres is a better, different way to be marry. I LOVE HIM.

Marta

Love isn't all that's needed

Marta - I would suggest that you consider individual therapy to explore and better understand the reasons you remain in this marriage.  You are becoming depressed, hurt each other...you live separately and he doesn't wish to be with you.  Why do you continue?  "Love" isn't enough to overcome this situation - there needs to be at least some sense of respect and caring for it to really be a marriage...and I have to say I wonder what he would do if you actually stood up for yourself?  Anyway, I encourage you to seek help both for the depression and also for your self-image.

Not enough

I wonder what doing better means for other non-ADHD spouses like me, but also what it means for the ADHD spouses as well. Any comments would be appreciated.

I am certainly sad and bitter right now. I can relate to this list, maybe not to everything. Since early this year when my husband and I took the course there have been improvements on both sides. He takes time and pulls back when ready to go into an argument and diffuses his own anger. He tries to be more understanding and also to finalize things. On my side,  I already worked on trying not to nag, really questioning my motives and importance of requests before asking them and so eliminating noise and fights on trivial stuff. Still, the book and seminar helped me to do that better, and I really think I've improved. Our relationship though...

I found very little advice here (maybe not looked hard enough on the site) about how to deal with lack of motivation and thoroughness when it comes to work and financial issues. I don't mind chores not getting done, but not taking any responsibility financially?  I get blamed that I am controlling because I want to stick to a budget... Or if I work on multiple versions of his resume, send him job links, keep his accounts on job sites on Linkedin updated ( I do feel taken advantage of), he does not follow through with applying or contacting people  - he acknowledges it's his responsibility, yet does nothing. Does not respond to the question: "when can we set a goal that you'll have a job or you'll bring x from your business", and any form of accountability is control? I have tried to help move his own business while looking for a job with someone else, and then I get blamed for confusing him which way to go, but if I make the choice, I am again controlling. In the meantime I am the breadwinner, CFO and master organizer.

I am tired of being blamed for everything. Maybe I am doing better by the standards above, but I cannot continue under this weight. In the meantime I am blamed if I don't congratulate him every time he takes a deep breath instead of shouting at me - because I don't appreciate his improvement. Are WE really doing better? How long am I supposed to give him chances to get his act together and bring in money for our kids from his first marriage? Am I supposed to be silent when he just informs (not consults) me that he needs to repay a large debt to his family from before we got married. It's "not my business" but he will contribute even less to the family. According to the above this is focusing on "stuff" rather then the relationship. also the above means that I will be doing worse helping him get a job - I am imposing my way of looking for a job, I need to let him do it his way (=nothing).

As I said, yes, I am bitter. I have monitored this site for a long time, but this is only the second time writing. I think some very fundamental issues remain un-addressed throughout the site. And this list is about improving the way exercising is "doing better". We're having cancer. Sure exercising is good, but is it "doing better"?

 

hockeymom11's picture

I totally agree M

I too got tired of being blamed for every problem in our relationship, our financial mess, our children's problems etc etc.  I haven't been on this site in months because I didn't find much help either.  An update:  I divorced him.  I'm completely broke from lawyer fees and basically supporting two children with ADHD on my own.  He's behind on child support and could care less BUT I have NEVER been happier in my life!

I feel like I have come out of my cocoon!! I've started cycling again and have met a fantastic group of people and I enjoy time by myself.  It doesn't work out for all of the ADHD couples and I no longer blame myself.  I can't change someone else and I can't change someone who doesn't want to change.

My son is in a world renown ADHD summer treatment program and my ex didn't show up for the orientation meeting and doesn't come to parenting classes (even though I mailed him the schedule AND emailed the dates).  I DON'T CARE!!!!  I'm done being mad.  I'm doing what is best for my boys and I and moving forward.

Sometimes I get down and think of myself as "damaged goods" meaning: men my age who aren't married don't want to be married OR they don't want kids OR they certainly don't want kids with disabilities.  I can't focus on regret or the past. 

I just posted because I have read so many blogs on this site that WERE my life and it CAN get better.  If you are that miserable in the marriage, get out and save yourself!!  it's scary, difficult, exhausting and financially draining but worth it!!  life can get better

 

Same Here

@hockeymom: I know this is supposed to be a site to help marriages but I am totally with you that while we should try to do everything we can, in the end you can't compromise on yourself.

I was on this site for over a year, and really took my role in the ADD-nonADD dynamic seriously and made the changes I needed to make.  As Melissa suggested, I also focused on becoming the me I wanted to be.  The problem was, the more I succeeded, the worse my marriage got -- my husband finally admitted that seeing me get happier, nicer, calmer, etc. made him JEALOUS, and he wanted me to be as miserable as he was.  Awesome.

I filed for divorce in May, and like you, I have NEVER been happier.  I feel like I've grown as a person from my marriage, and I am much more aware of my past tendency to "fix" people and become codependent.  No more!  I feel blessed to have two beautiful children in my life, and to be where I am at a young enough age (I'm 36) to have the life I want to have...whether that's alone or with someone else, whatever is meant to happen will happen.  In the meantime, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I, too, have gotten back into hobbies I enjoy -- I go to movies and plays by myself, plan vacations for me and the kids, and am just enjoying discovering myself and being alone.

My husband's struggling, I think -- I also have to remind him about sending money and he forgets the kids' events, etc., but I've let go and decided that he has to manage that, and my kids are going to have to accept this part of him...I can't protect them from disappointment.  I NEVER speak badly of him, and in fact I wish him all the best -- I didn't divorce him to "prove" how important I was, so I don't need him to be suffer to be happy myself.  I just don't have time or room in my life for resentment and regrets.  Too much to look forward to.

Hockeymom -- you are NOT damaged goods.  There are plenty of people who would love to step into a ready-made family, especially (and most importantly) with someone who is happy with herself.  And to others out there -- only you know when it's time to call it quits, but if fear of being alone is the only thing keeping you in something that is not working, don't be afraid.  It DOES get a lot better.

I have been married to a man

I have been married to a man with ADHD for nearly 20 years and I too have so often felt bitter and frustrated. And exhausted from micro-managing every aspect of our lives: parenting, housekeeping, yardwork, finances, friendships, family relationships, birthdays, etc. (He is a loving and involved father but his attention to parenting has always been consistently inconsistent. His attention to things like finances and caring for the home was always non-existent. We had a seriously parent-child relationship with respect to those areas.) I think I've been fortunate with how things spun out over recent years. Don't get me wrong: the last years of our marriage have been excruciatlngly painful and challenging to say the least but there have been some real gifts that came out of it.

About 9 years ago, when our younger daughter entered elementary school full-time, I returned to university. My goal was 2-fold: to become financially independent (it was becoming clear that whether I ended my marriage or stayed in it I could not depend financially on my husband) and to create a stronger identity for myself as someone other than wife and mother (my children wouldn't need me forever and my husband was simply unreliable). That first 2 years at university I tried to do it all - an overload of course work, a part time job, primary caregiver of 2 children and a husband, selling and buying a house, handling all the finances (including trying to slow his spending), supporting his career (to try and ensure he made enough money for us to pay the bills), everything. He worked a bit and then spent the rest of his days socializing, on the computer, indulging himself in various ways. Meanwhile, I worked my butt off and, at the end of it, I was utterly exhausted, we were even deeper in debt despite my efforts to enforce budgeting, our relationship had become nearly non-existent, and he had extended his self-medicating to include daily binge drinking and relationships with other women. I fell to pieces.

Out of necessity, I dropped a number of the balls I had been juggling. I continued to juggle my studies, my parenting, and the part time job so that I could have some money to spend on my needs but I cut back my hours. I dropped most of the housework, I totally stopped, cold turkey, "helping" my husband with his career, I began to learn to detach from his drinking, and, unbelievably, I completely stopped managing the finances. I previously couldn't have imagined being able to do that. I kind of didn't choose to - I simply was so overwhelmed and worn out that I couldn't face it, so I put aside several hundred dollars to use at my own discretion and I just stopped paying bills. I didn't issue an ultimatum, I didn't yell out, "Fine, you do it then!" I simply started putting the envelopes from the power company, etc. somewhere really super obvious that he couldn't miss them and then put them out of my mind.

That was 8 years ago and my husband has been budgeting and paying the bills ever since. We are still in debt, but he's finally beginning to see the big picture the way that I wanted him to a decade or more ago and he realizes that it IS possible for two people such as us to have a retirement fund, to afford to take nice vacations, etc. and he's now making large strides in this area. I wanted (needed) this to happen 10-20 years ago but I couldn't force it. We do not have a parent-child relationship anymore because he's taking responsibility for himself, he stopped drinking 3 years ago (partly because he finally saw how much money he was wasting on this) and over the last year he has begun to gradually stop self-medicating altogether. He's been on ADHD meds for a few months now and is actually excited about buying RRSPs! Is this the same man I lived with a decade ago? 

It's not "perfect." I get laid off in the summers and, to ensure my mental comfort, I started putting away a portion of my fall-spring income into a bank account that he can't access, with his agreement and understanding, and then I pay it out into our joint account during the summer. He doesn't have the impulse control and the grasp of actions/consequences to keep savings safe yet on his own and I can't teach him to do it so I just calmly told him I needed this and would be doing it. He agreed.

We still struggle with A LOT of things. My husband too has blamed me for a lot of things and it hurts. The best thing I've been learning is to set boundaries and to recognize when they are being violated. (As in saying to him... I will not take responsibility for what you have done.)

The best advice I've gotten through all of this is from a dear friend who says to me, "You always make the right decisions. If and when the time comes to say that the marriage is no longer moving forward or that you are not truly safe and secure, you will be able to make the decision to leave because you are a strong woman. If the right thing to do is to continue to stay and work at it, you will be able to do that as well, because you are a strong woman." Her non-judgmental support helps me to be flexible and creative and make adjustments in my thinking so I can find ways to deal with what is, rather than what I wish could be. 

I hope this helps. I'm not suggesting that what I did would necessarily work for you or for anybody else or that it was a magical or flawless solution, but I wish you luck and peace and a break from the pressure!

Thank you

Thank you so much for sharing your story.  You put some very specific goals for yourself and boundaries into place and have seen the benefits of doing so.  It's GREAT that the two of you are no longer in parent/child mode and also that the ADHD is acknowledged in a way that you can set aside money for the summers and "pay it out" when you aren't paid rather than have arguments over whether or not he "ought" to be able to "do better" in the savings arena.  You have acknowledged his difficulties in a non-judgmental way...while he has taken greater responsibility for making his life work.  Bravo to you both.

2 steps forward, 2 steps back

Thanks for your comment Melissa. It IS good that we lost the parent/child thing; however, now we seem to live in a constant state of conflict instead. It's like an armed camp around here! I feel, once again, that it's so hopeless. I had a wonderful experience with him in April which led to us both feeling validated, safe, and intimate. For the first time in years I began to believe that we would grow old together. I had changed the pattern in the cyclical dance and he responded to me in such a loving way and we spent several blissful weeks together. (Not conflict-free, honeymoon-period, hyperfocused blissful, but "normal" blissful!) Then the world crashed down again around our ears June 21 and has been crazy ever since. Here's a snapshot of what's going on:

My husband: You don't share yourself with me. I've done so many things "wrong" and everybody knows about them so I'm laying out here with my chest cut open and all my guts for everyone to see and we never talk about what's wrong with you.
Me: I can see how you would feel so exposed and you're right that my tendency is to protect myself by holding my emotions in. It's why I started learning about codependency, both in books and in therapy, and why I attended the 12step group. Remember you asked me why I wanted to go to a group that was just about man-bashing and I told you that you were misled, that I was there to talk about me and my coping strategies, not about you? 
Him: I just need you to stop blaming me for everything. I need to be able to talk with you about what's wrong with you.

(fast forward - he is lighting the barbecue, I'm working in the backyard. I'm having a bad day and have told him so. We haven't talked about why because he doesn't like to hear when I'm hurt or angry because he feels I'm blaming him. I've accepted that I don't have a shoulder to lean on but that he needs me to be there for him when he wants me because his self-concept is so incredibly shoddy. Suddenly I notice he's turned off the barbecue and disappeared without a word. I go straight to the computer and find him on facebook, which is where he usually goes when angry or offended by me now that he no longer goes to the bar.)
Me: Did something happen?
Him: SEE! This is JUST what I'm talking about! Why do you assume something has happened?! I can't talk to you!!!

(later that evening)
Him: You shouldn't assume that you know what's going on with me. Stop nagging me. When you're ready to share something about yourself with me, then we'll talk. I'm sick of talking about all the sh*tty things I've done!
Me: I'm sorry you felt that you had to bolt. 
Him: When you were driving us home (just before we started the barbecue) you were driving angrily and I was scared.
(So we had a good discussion about that and my anger. Anger is something I've got to deal with as I carry a lot of it and a lot of resentment and I can see how it affects him negatively but I have to be the one to continue to deal with it and I told him so. In the end we spent the rest of the evening together and I felt relatively peaceful about the outcome as a small step. Then at bedtime:)

Him: I'm going upstairs to sleep. (To the spare bedroom where he sleep more often than he sleeps with me. It's usually chosen as a reaction to something I've done or said that was "wrong" but he doesn't ask to talk about it. He just bolts and then glowers and ignores me for days, then comes to me nicely when he wants consolation or sex. I've told him a number of times that where he sleeps affects me because physical closeness goes hand in hand with emotional intimacy for me. I don't act sexually with attractive strangers because sexuality, regular embraces, sharing a bed, these are all important emotional intimacy pieces for me. However, I have said I can understand his need for space and can respect that, if he could only respectfully ask for it instead of meting it out as a punishment!)
Me: Tomorrow we have company coming and they're using that room so we'll have to deal with that somehow.
Him: I feel as though you are only saying that to get back at me and as a barrier to intimacy.
Me: That feels like an accusation. Could you rephrase it please?
He runs out the door: See, I can't talk to you! Why can't you allow me to point out to you that you hid your emotions behind a nag? 
Me: What!? Hang on and don't make assumptions please! Sometimes I am capable of just saying something straight out without an ulterior motive. I am motivated by things other than a need to manipulate you.
Him: Your parents had two people tell them respectfully to stop lecturing and they're response was defensive!
Me: Arghh!!! I AM NOT MY PARENTS!! etc., round and round

I am SO exhausted. I have been straightforward and open and patient and forgiving in turn (as well as being a nag, a grouch, and a blamer, I admit it), I have read, learned, opened myself up, gone to therapy, gone to 12 steps, gone to blogs, self-examined, laid boundaries, and shared but feel that all I'm getting back these days is a good browbeating. I'm tired of being married to potential. I want to see some progress and I want to see it now! He is only 3 months into treatment for ADHD and the support system is moving at a snail's pace. He's been on the waiting list to see the psychologist for this whole time and meanwhile has had only 2 counselling sessions where, as far as I can tell, they've only talked through some day-to-day and career stuff and I don't think this counsellor has any notion that my husband's marriage is so far off the track that it's in immediate jeopardy. I've been hoping that the psychologist would be able to help but I can't sit around much longer and wait to see IF that's going to happen. I was ready to end the marriage before and I'm feeling ready to do it again. Only this time I wouldn't start with a conversation or with an invitation to create a separation agreement through a mediator (which my husband fought tooth and nail: "We are NOT going to break up! We are meant to be together!") This time, if I continue on this path, he will be served with divorce papers and I will not turn back. I spent my entire 30s struggling to hold together a marriage in which I STILL do not feel safe, valued, and loved on a regular basis. I believe we have a core relationship that is good, compassionate, and loving but it is buried under soooo many layers of garbage, garbage that we've both put there as we've reacted, reacted, and reacted to things we didn't understand, that we can't find that core anymore no matter what we do. 

I appreciate the ability to post here. I feel insane and frustrated and I can't share my feelings and experiences with anyone, outside of counselling and an hour a month or every 2 weeks is not enough time to deal with all this! I know I can survive without my marriage - I just don't want to! When we're not insanely butting heads he's my best friend. He gets me as no one else ever has, not family members, not dear friends. No one. But life as a doormat sucks. Supremely.

I'm hesitating over posting this because, if he looks here, there's enough detail that he'll know this is my post and he'll be supremely angry and I'll have to face his anger. It's something that I'm scared of, not physically but emotionally. Yikes. I need help.

riding the roller coaster

I am happy to have come to some good realizations after posting this. One, in support of what my husband's going through, I think that he might be so incredibly overwhelmed because he must be seeing, with real clarity for the first time, the connections between his actions and their consequences. I know he mentioned something about that a couple of times (he's only in his 3rd month of taking meds and is getting used to them) but it didn't really click with me before how significant that is. If I could put myself in his shoes right now, I would want to run for the hills screaming if I had suddenly become aware of the impact of all the things that he's done without full realization of the consequences/outcomes and the effects on others. What I would need, were I in his shoes, would be loving support and acceptance in great amounts right now, but instead what he's got is no friends or close family members to speak of (they've become alienated over the years) and a wife who is (understandably) angry and resentful! When I can step out of it and reframe it like that, I can understand his dramatic actions and reactions.

The second thing is that I've realized that I'm back in my grief cycle this summer and that's impacting how we relate. I've been hung up lately on wondering why he's been getting so angry at things I say and do when I don't see anything wrong with the things I say and do, but he's not reacting about that, he's reacting because of where I am at in my heart of hearts. The things I do and say lately are not informed by caring, love and acceptance (of both him and of myself), they are informed by the negotiation stage of grief. He had had a slip in June and reconnected with a former affair partner. He kept it superficial and minimal in an effort not to fall into a cheating pattern again but he has been communicating with her and I had thought it was completely over. That hurt and I reacted, of course. Last night I read a line in The New Codependency that said that, for a codependent, nagging is a sign of being stuck in the negotiation phase of the grief cycle and I thought, eureka!, that's it! That's where I have been for several weeks now and I didn't even realize I was grieving! Knowing that, I know that I can allow myself to move onward through sadness and into acceptance. That's exactly where I have been every single time in the past that he has let go of a hurtful behaviour, from not mowing the lawn to cheating, the whole gamut. But whenever I stay stuck in negotiation (aka nagging), he stays stuck too! It's not me taking responsibility for his actions, it's me moving on with my very own life.

I woke up this morning with that approach in my mind and my heart instead of all those "thoughts" and "voices" telling me all the things that are wrong and that I "should" be angry about, and it's like I woke up to a different relationship. Wow. Maybe there's hope again! Yesterday my daughter was singing "Man in the Mirror." I'm hoping MJ was right!

I have this kind of 'clarity'

I have this kind of 'clarity' and then 'fog' and then back to clarity again experiences...it is all part of the process, I feel.

Wanted to add a couple of things to the mix...my husband did not respond to meds very well, they made him hostile and very argumentative. I don't get a sense that this is happening with you, but wanted to mention it just for the sake of mentioning it. Not all ADHDers have the instant 'a-ha' type reactions to the meds, sometimes it's more gradual. My husband did keep asking me to give him some more time (I was insisting he stop taking them because he was HORRIBLY mean to me) saying that they made him 'think' differently and he just needed time to adjust to that. It could very well have been exactly what you're describing...clarity for him for the first time...realizing all of the pain he's caused. Well, not realizing it...tI think they realize it all along, but having to actually face it and FEEL it is what is so hard. Maybe, too, it has to do with being able to feel (the part of the brain controlling emotions is affected by ADHD) feelings in a way they've never experienced. It is also overwhelming to feel so broken and wrong...and I think maybe why your husband is insisting that you focus on things you've done wrong is to help take away some of the pain he's possibly feeling for what he's done.

What I would suggest is for you to say "OK..let's focus on me. What would you like to discuss" and just listen. Let him say what he wants/needs to stay. Don't get defensive, don't make excuses for your behavior, and try to really hear what he's saying. It is very hard for us to admit, but we have caused them just as much pain as they have caused us. We can rationalize that we'd have never hurt them (become angry and bitter and said hurtful things, done hurtful things) had their ADHD not reared it's ugly head and caused us to, but it does not excuse our behaviors and the way we've reacted. We didn't know. We did the best we could. I say give him a platform to get off of his chest what he is really feeling, without becoming angry or defensive, and then tell him 'now we move on with a clean slate'. Maybe he only wants to feel validated (by pointing out your hurtful behaviors) to make himself feel better...but if there is even an ounce of truth in what he's saying, then let him have his moment to get it all out. You have to deal with the past in order to move forward, but the time comes that you have to put the past behind you and start anew or you will never make progress. My husband never really wanted to hash out with me what I had done...he just always wanted to move forward from right here and now and never look back. Most ADHDers are far more able to forgive and forget than us non's.

I, too, fell into my own grief cycle this past spring and am just now recovering. I was once again feeling justified in my anger and frustration...and in the exact same boat as you. You have every right to be upset/hurt/disappointed about his reconnection with an old affair. As a matter of fact, I would make sure that issue was dealt with ASAP in counseling (can you go with him??) because it takes an inhuman kind of strength to be able to not let those kinds of things take you back down to square one...and this is something he needs to understand. "I don't want to beat you up about it, I don't want it to be something that destroys any progress we might be making, but I do need you to understand that it is so devastatingly hurtful and I am only human" Ask what you need to ask of him to help you deal with it and put it behind you. My husband had an affair in the fall of 2009 and I still need things from him that he doesn't like to have to give, but he either gives it or he loses me, I NEED that from him to heal. No one can dictate how long that will take. It isn't something that comes up much these days, so I am moving forward, but if I have a bad day..then I have a bad day...and he has to deal with it right along with me.  Acceptance is hard, but it has to be. Acceptance that progress IS painstakingly slow. Acceptance that not every 'set back' is the end of the world or a sure sign that things will never change. Acceptance that we too are once again reacting in ways that are destructive to the marriage and that we have to stop...no matter how they are behaving. Acceptance that we cannot ask of them things are aren't giving ourselves (validation, compassion, understanding, patience). If he says he's going to go sleep in the other room say "Ok, I love you. Goodnight" and then greet him in the morning with a smile...and mean it. He's playing a game by using it as a tool to hurt you...and you're possibly trying to manipulate him into not doing it by pointing out that the room will be needed for company. Let it be a non-issue and it'll put an end to the game. I, personally, think you're doing great. I learned a lot from your posts myself. Saw myself in a lot of it. Thank you.

I was diagnosed a few months

I was diagnosed a few months ago and am on my third month of meds.  For me, this clarity and ability to focus on things like never before has been a double edged sword.  I can remember vividly over the course of my life the times when my (unknown to me at that point) add symptoms elicited negative comments from people.  This, combined with all of the times I have attempted to "fix" things about myself only to fail and fall back into the same patterns have resulted in extreme anxiety that I've become rather adept at hiding.  For myself, your statement about not realizing the complete emotional effects of my actions on others is correct.  I could see from other's reactions that my actions or words were hurtful. What I could not often see or understand was the extent to which it hurt.  When I began taking meds and exploring add, the realization that things that I had perceived as "normal" were in fact not normal was like a punch to the gut. I always knew I was different, but never considered that the way I experienced and lived in the world was so radically different from most others.

An honest look back through my life showed me all of the times when I had hurt people I cared for and then hurt them again when I didn't understand why they could not move past it and bounce back like I would have done. I now doubt every thought and feeling I have.  The realization of the extent to which I have hurt those that I care about has left me feeling basically like the scum of the earth and has brought back old anxieties. My perception of self has been completely altered.  I am so lost, confused, and frustrated that anything I perceive as criticism often provokes a less than ideal reaction.  I think another piece to this could be that I have some of the standard adhd social issues and often misinterpret or misunderstand comments directed towards me.

Due to the anxiety I'm experiencing, I was reluctant to share what I felt with my partner.  My first attempt resulted in being belittled which caused me to retreat further inward. We've recently reached the point where we can have constructive and meaningful conversations. When I brought it up again my partner was much more accepting.  The validation that came because something that I was feeling could be understood by someone else helped take care of some of the anxiety of rediscovering and hopefully reinventing myself. 

Thanks for these postings.  I feel like every time I read a post, I come away with some new insight into myself or my partner. It's been extremely helpful. Any input, thoughts, criticisms that anyone has would be appreciated. 

I feel the same sometimes.

I feel the same sometimes. When i look back i see more bad than good. I wish i could hide and not interact with people, but i find i feel better when i am with people. My childhood was rough, my marriage has been hard and trying, my reactions are so automatic and i hate it. It is hard to go forward sometimes when all you want to do is hide. I really appreciate how you are feeling. I would guess that all of us, when we see our selves can all say the same thing. It's not intentional, its what you do after you "see" that counts. Good luck to you. Thanks for sharing. : )

Better is Learning

In the past week I have learned so much, and I'm suddenly so smart and then suddenly foggier than before.  A lot to take in.  Better is when I try a new way of working with or talking to my guy (and I previously thought I'd tried them all, before I knew about ADD) and it works and we have a good time together.  Better is when I realize that sometimes I provoke or goad him unnecessarily.... Ex:  He tends to leave his sentences unfinished, and even when I understand him, I sometimes prod him to finish.  I should be celebrating that after so many years together we can communicate without words, instead of punishing him because he SHOULD be able to finish a thought.  So that realization is better but painful, and I hope I don't have to learn it too many more times. ;)  Better is when I find a way to both encourage him to focus, again and again and again, and it has him smiling rather than shutting down.  Better is learning that he does so much better with motivation... I was going to say the RIGHT motivation, but the wrong motivation is none at all.  I've always known he likes to "make deals"... I've always found that distasteful, thinking he should WANT to do these things, not make a deal to do them.  But he LIKES to make deals, and fulfilling his side of the deal makes him happy... why wouldn't I want him to be happy?   All this was possible in the one week since I came to believe my guy may have adult ADD, and without ever discussing it with him.  Gives me hope that eventually I'll find a way to bring it up, and we'll develop even more solutions together.  Two weeks ago, I was done.  I had decided I wasn't as sensitive, needy, controlling or needy (did I say needy?) as he tried to make me believe.  I had decided it was better to be lonely by myself than lonely with him.  But "discovering" the battle he's been fighting his whole life has given me a new interpretation of his deny, deflect and distort armory.  For just this minute, things are better. 

Do it. Go grab an ice

Do it. Go grab an ice cream...or go see a movie. Invite him along...and if he refuses, then go anyway. Stop waiting for him to join your life...make a life for yourself, invite him along, and if he refuses DO IT ANYWAY. It takes forcing it sometimes to get this started. When I first started doing it, I would cry ..i.e. SOB.. the entire time I was out...but as I kept forcing myself to do it, it kept getting easier and more enjoyable. I never wanted to be forced to go out and enjoy my life without my husband...but it got to the point that it beat the hell out of NOT enjoying it sitting at home staring at the walls. (((HUGS)))

Just because you can understand him better...and accept things better...doesn't mean he will automatically be a different person too. Ask him to go riding...to go get coffee or ice cream...and if he refuses, give him a big kiss on the cheek, tell him you love him, and leave.

Thank you!

I'm off to Starbucks for a skim mocha frappucino, no whip!  And I'm only going to cry half the way there!  :)  You have great timing.

Lol ladies, I guess I must be

Lol ladies, I guess I must be doing something right, because I am reading this in MY neighborhood Starbucks where I stopped in to decompress a little just before going home. Peace, center, good friends, and BALANCE. Good night guys! :)

This is something I

This is something I desperatley need to start doing. I have done it sporadicly in the past, and I, too, was crying the whole time while I was out, so I stopped doing it. But, I feel hope when you say it kept getting easier.

Oh, I really needed to hear this

Thank you Sherri - I cry too, the odd time that I do something alone, and I wish my partner wanted to join me. I actually don't do it often, because I feel so  bad. But you say that if you keep forcing yourself to do it, it becomes easier and more enjoyable, so I will do this more often and stick with it. I never thought I'd be out there enjoying my life without my partner, but you're right, it's my life -- now I just have to deal with his reaction to it (i.e. "Are you mad at me?", "Why are you so weird?", "Are you trying to tell me something?").

I've been doing it!

I've been seeing friends more, getting massages, planned a movie out for tomorrow, and it feels GREAT! I related to a thread throughout this site - and that is that only I can make myself happy, and I plan to do it! I already have felt a change in myself that is so freeing, it's kind of scaring me a little. I had this validated with my therapist: I told her my recent perspective on my life is this: I love my career, I love my son, I love my family of origin, I love our house, I like the person that I am, and the only problem is my marriage. And I REFUSE to let it continue bleeding over into the rest of everything in my life that is so good. I think I have been doing the steps in the book wrong - I jumped right to the tools on communication, chore tracking, etc, when I should have started with realizing, and living, the fact that only I can make myself happy. Period. Thank you all on this site for the encouragement to be who we are, and to just "go out and grab a coffee". It's such a little step, but so vitally important.

Doing better means having hope

There is nothing worse to me than hopelessness. Which is where I am right now.

Reading a lot here, I think that I will try to set boundaries and let go of my anger. Those will be my first steps. We'll see how it goes.

Marriage 101

Doing better for us would start with my thoughts on Marriage 101:

You don't slap your wife's hand, you hold it.

You don't negate your wife's feelings, you validate them.

You don't YELL at your wife, you talk with her.

You don't think of ways to deceive your wife, you think of ways to happily surprise her.

You don't put up your fists to fight with your wife, you put out your arms to hug her.

You don't prepare to do battle with your wife, you stand beside her to do battle with the world.

You don't tell your wife she's doing something wrong, you chuckle with her when she makes a mistake.

You don't tell your friends what a bitch your wife is, you talk about why you married her.

You don't sit and watch your wife struggle with something heavy, you get up and help her.

You don't sigh, roll your eyes and argue when your wife asks you to do something, you just do the things that need to be done on your
own.

You don't plan time away from your wife, you plan time with her.

You don't think of excuses to get out of "couples time" with your wife, you plan it and ask her out on a date.

And then, we would continue to do better as I would be changing my reactions to the problems that still existed.

I would post this..

I would post this on the front of my refridgerator if I thought it wouldnt cause major issues!!!!  I love it! The post that is, not causing issues....

 

Thank you, I actually emailed

Thank you, I actually emailed it to my Hubby, and I asked him to read it Carefully when he had time. I should put one up for me, the non-ADD spouse, but I have to formulate it first, lol!