So, I've just been doing my thing lately... A lot of the nice, simple, thoughtful sort of stuff we've been talking about in other threads, that you non-ADHDers keep asking for. I've been trying to focus less on making her happy, and more on doing them simply because they're good things to do and I can do them.
Anyway, in a lot of my recent posts I've complained about my wife's resistance. She hasn't bothered to learn anything about ADHD, she doesn't want to talk about it at all, she withdraws, she picks fight over insignificant things, and so on. But...
I think I may be seeing her starting to come around just a little bit.
Last Friday, the kids and I were talking about how we all had Monday off for Labor Day. My daughter suggested that could we all go visit the zoo together on Monday. She said it would be nice for the four (me, my wife and the two kids) of us to do something all together, because we haven't for a long time (not since DW moved into the spare bedroom). Later, I relayed the idea to DW, but she said that a friend of hers from work had invited her (and the kids) to go to the Renaissance Faire (without me). The kids could go with me to the zoo, or with her to the Ren Faire, I should let her know what I'd prefer. She had completely missed my point... that DD wanted to do something together as a family.
Right about then, it dawned on me... In her way, DD had noticed that DW was excluding me from family outings that she planned and avoiding me in general.
Also, the previous night, DW had told me a story about how a co-worker was having trouble with one of the bosses... The co-worker had a problem that she tried to talk to the boss about, but during the conversation they were both talking past each other and nothing was resolved (though the boss thought it was). The co-worker ended up feeling like she wasn't being heard, and that there was no use trying to talk to the boss anymore. DW acted as a mediator between the two, and helped them sort it out.
It irked me a little that she could deal so well with that sort of situation at work, but at home the same situation would often have her shouting and yelling.
So, I took a chance...
I waited until we had a little privacy to chat, and let her know that I was feeling like the co-worker from her story... that we were talking past each other, and I wasn't getting heard. I calmly and respectfully explained about DD's suggestion for the zoo, and that DD's beginning to notice how she's been acting. I explained that it felt like she was excluding and avoiding me. I asked if she was doing it on purpose, and if so why? She told me that yeah, she had been, kind of, because:
- When she moved to the spare room for space, we'd agreed that we'd both try to spend more time having fun independent of each other.
- She sometimes wants to just hang out at home as a family, but everyone's already scattered to the four winds doing their own thing.
- In the past, whenever she brought me along to hang out with her friends, I never looked like I was having fun and always ended up acting like kind of a jerk. (Sound familiar? Ha! ;) )
So, I explained:
- We did agree to that and both of us are... But we also agreed to make sure we were still spending time with each other to rebuild our friendship, and also time all together as a family.
- She's been as guilty of that as the rest of us... playing video games or watching TV or reading a book alone by herself all night. She'd could speak up about it! We can always break it up the solitary entertainments and pull everyone together for joint entertainment, if she lets the rest of know she's interested.
- I agreed that sometimes it might have looked that way, and (without mentioning ADHD directly) briefly described and explained some of the difficulties I've had with social situations, especially those that include crowds or boisterous environments... how hard it is to keep up with conversations, how easy it is to say the wrong things at the wrong times, how mentally exhausting it can be to deal with the continuous distractions. I explained that I'm not trying to be a jerk and that I'm not bored and that I do have fun, but I just occasionally need to step aside to take a break from the action. I let her know that it was an area that I knew I wasn't terribly good at and needed to improve upon, but also reminded her that she hasn't given me much of a chance to not be a jerk around her friends since she moved to the spare room.
She listened and seemed to accept all that, and said that it was "something we can work toward moving forward."
That sounded fine to me. I concluded by telling her that I think that I'm doing better... but that I also appreciate her opinions on what I'm doing right and what I could improve on, because I don't always see it quite the same from my point of view. I told her that I've been feeling better about myself, that I'm happier with myself, and I want to be able to share that with her.
I've had two or three texting conversations with her about something that was bothering one or the other of us, and they seemed to run along similar lines of respectful communication and understanding. This was the first time (in a long time) that it happened in a face-to-face conversation.
- Neither of us got defensive.
- Neither of us accused or blamed or nagged the other about anything.
- Neither of us shouted or yelled.
- Neither of us cried.
- Neither of us walked out in frustration.
- There was no disrespect or disdain.
- There was no huffing or sighing or head-shaking or eye-rolling or otherwise melodramatic gesticulations.
- We were both genuinely listening to what the other had to say.
- In the end, we met in the middle and we were both good with it.
It went pretty well, I think... I hope it continues.