Help with chores and communication

I've been married for a year to a wife with diagnosed ADHD (since childhood) who is very comfortable with her diagnosis and feels she has a very firm grasp and control of her condition. It has become one of the scenarios discussed elsewhere ... since we have moved in she has never cleaned up her things, she is still unpacked from a trip 2 months ago. I do everything I can to keep everything I own put away and clean. We made a job list a few months back of who is responsible for what. I do mine consistantly and to her nagging specifications, she has yet to do the bulk of her jobs. She is currently unemployed but when I come home from 8 hours I honestly cannot tell anything has been done. She occasionally will do one small task but on the whole nothing happens. I try and talk with her ... but I always get told she is very busy and gets things done. The one time I didn't do my job for the week I got a lecture on how we both need to do our jobs. Any time I try and help or even suggest something with ADHD (which she loves to talk about and tell me how well she is in control) it ends ugly. She is on Adderall XR and I honestly think she's a nicer person when she is off of it (and gets more done). I really don't know what to do ... I am terrified what will happen when we have children and she runs our household. I have no problem working and helping with chores but i'm working full time, doing all the chores, I cook every meal and .... I'm usually the one in the doghouse. Can someone please suggest where she is and what I can do to help her understand the importance of this teamwork. If she is going to be the master of the household ... she needs to start doing it. The negativity and everything else is just mounting in our marriage. Thanks Bob, NY

I hear you!

Hi Bob, I'm hearing you loud and clear. I'm newly married to my undiagnosed ADD wife (but been together for 2+ years), and like you chores are a point of contention. And like you, I'm the one doing everything, and if I don't do it, it doesn't get done and I'm out in the doghouse too. I also understand your confusion and frustration when you come home from working 8hrs a day and she, who was home all day, has done very little to none of the chores. Well I can say that things are improving in my household, although I still am, like you, afraid when the kids come along. Here are some pointers:
  • Progress will be slow, but it will get there
  • Praise her for what little she's done; don't criticize for what she hasn't done. ADD'ers are overly sensitive to criticism and will avoid performing tasks if they know they won't do it 100% right and thus possibly get criticized.
  • Let her pick the chores she wants to do and make her own them--never do them for her, otherwise she'll lose more motivation to do them.
  • Don't nag her about her chores
  • Remove clutter--remove unnecessary items from around the house. The less "noise" (junk, clutter, etc) around the house, the better it is for her. The more "noise" there is, the more her brain is overwhelmed and shuts down. Your house may be boring and sparse, but she'll love it
  • Try to keep the house as clean as possible, this relates to the above point about less "noise".
  • Have a garbage bin in nearly every room if general garbage around the place is an issue.
  • Have an odds 'n' ends basket in every room if things are not being returned to their rightful places in other rooms (e.g., someone doesn't return the scissors or the screwdrivers when they're done with them). When something ends up in the wrong room, encourage her to place it in the basket. When something cannot be found, look in those baskets; every now and then, empty the baskets and return the items to their rightful place.

Chores ...

Thank you for the reply ... I appreciate the time/thoughts. Its encouraging that you are at 2+ years and still together ... not that i'm thinking of pulling the cord ... that is never an option in my mind (at least with this situation) so ... my fingers are always crossed and ... I just keep working on things I can do and hoping. I like the pointers ... the garbage thing thankfully is not a problem ... its the clutter and the general "cleaning". We made the job-list and picked stuff ... but maybe i'll re-address and make sure she gets what she "wants' ... because it might not have gone that way. I am trying to think of a good way to have a "job tracking" type chart so we can both keep track of our areas with a checklist type system. I know i've heard this is helpful and ... I know she has mentioned that helps her. But .. I never thought about your other points ... I do have a tendency to step in sometimes ... so I need to practice not stepping in. Won't be easy but ... i'll do it. I guess its just hard figuring out what she does all day. I know she can get engrossed in some of the smallest things ... but when I get home and try to "talk" about her day she just says she was busy doing stuff. But ... thats the end of that conversation. Hopefully we can both keep working this ... did you know she had ADD when you got married or ... how did you discover this? Are you guys getting help? Bob

Housework arguments

As an ADD working mother, it's hard to make time to clean throughout the week. Off and on, and more lately, me and my husband have been arguing over the same things. He says I'm not giving enough effort and it usually points to my clutter. Maybe I don't see it as much and to be honest, I don't care as much as him throughout the week. I usually wind up spending the whole Saturday cleaning and sometimes invite company over just to make myself clean. During the weekdays, I don't seem to have enough time or just don't think about it. It's just so easy to lose track of t ime and get too tired, not to mention procrastination. I keep feeling like he would be better off with someone else, some other wife that can be good enough and keep a clean house. He says he wouldn't be here if he wanted someone else, but I just feel like I'm constantly being assessed or something. We just celebrated our 9th anniversary and generally get along fine. It usually comes back to our messy house that causes us to fight. I've thought about hiring a housekeeper, but I'm not sure that would help with clutter. I'm going to try a checklist, but remembering it or just remembering to hang up my coat when i walk into the door isn't as easy as it is to someone without ADD. I'm not trying to make an excuse, but when I walk in the front door I get automatically intuned to what's going on and the only reason I can find my keys and purse usually the next day is because i leave them in my car. I guess I can see his frustration, but I don't agree with his oppinion that I don't try or don't care. Unfortuntely when he starts to clean the same time and I start to help him, we start fighting about how it got that way in the first place. He'll point out every dish in the sink that I put there and that doesn't make me want to help him, but more likely throw it at him. It becomes a cycle, we fight about it and we both try to give more effort (him to be less anal and me to try to make him happy) then we go back and fight again...... I'll see if using this 15min per room/day checklist does any good. I'm not sure what else to try, he won't see a counselor with me and doesn't really care if it's ADD making it hard or not, since the outcome is the same. Any advice?

Housework arguments: cleaning service

I can't begin tell you how great a cleaning service is! Oh, wait, that's what I'm doing. :P It may not immediately help to address clutter, but: - many cleaners offer a whole list of services, including organization - even having an every-other-week visit helps, because you'll need to tidy - pros are pros -- our charwoman shines this place like a white tornado in two hours, something that takes both of our distracty selves almost a whole day to do - regular cleaning keeps the clutter / dirt to manageable levels - time saved can be put to other organizing / repair projects or just fun Look for a local / self-employed service on Craigslist or Angie's List; they're often better / cheaper / more ethical than some of the big chain services (cf. Barbara Ehrenrich's "Nickeled and Dimed"). Good luck!
sapphyre's picture

Does he do any housework?

Um, you work. I assume he works too. Why is the state of the house just your problem? (It's the 21st century now. If women work, men also do housework.) Suggestion - if it's only your clutter (and not the chores), set aside a room just for your stuff, where it can be messy - you can just dump your coat in there. And then get him to work on the chores that stress him out the most - it's amazing what a sense of achievement you get. I am the non-ADHD partner, and we are both messy. Apologies, but I'm beginning to wonder if I may have some ADHD, simply because I don't get motivated to keep a house clean, unless I live with someone who help :) It strikes me how many non-ADHD men are on here complaining about their wife's mess. So what? Who says the house has to be immaculate? :)You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. - The Doctor
livingwithadd's picture

Wow, Driver gave some great

Wow, Driver gave some great suggestions. As a woman with ADHD myself who struggles with chores the part about removing the clutter is really important. My brain just shuts down when there's too much clutter and It's really challenging to get the chores done. Also it's very helpful if my husband starts some chores with me to get me going. For example if the sink is overflowing with dishes, it's too overwhelming for me most of the time. If my husband starts doing a few dishes and then asks me to do a few that's really helpful to me. Also sometimes cutting the chores down into smaller chunks is helpful. For example "cleaning the kitchen" doesn't work for me. However something like clearing the counters or sweeping the floor usually does. I know it probably doesnt make much sense to a person with out ADHD but if somebody asked me the steps involved in cleaning the kitchen I could list them. When it comes to actually doing it I get quite overwhelmed and shut down. I just look at the messy kitchen and don't know where to start. Tara McGillicuddy, SCAC

Diagnosed one year ago at 40 Married for six years before

Help! My husband doesn't understand ADHD or seem to want to try. He thinks it is an excuse for me to lose my keys, interupt him, procrastinate ....etc I am close to wanting out of this marriage because he causes me so much more stress and he can't be happy with such a messed up wife! How do I get him to understand or at least try. Where can he find REAL data to prove ADHD is an actual condition and not a dr making up excuses for people? My husband is a Type A and very tidy and clean (did I mention he is in the military?). His expectations are unattainable for a normal person. He has done well for himself, by himself and expects the same of others. He is actually gone right now. I can go home and not totally stress that this or that isn't done. I do have 3 children and I work full time as well. I am to the point where I haven't gone to any counseling I was trying medication first, then going to look for a support group or something. Time has flown by and here it is a year later. I think my meds help and definately know a difference when I don't take them. I do believe they have stopped doing more, the full benefit is here. I do feel it wears off sooner and I am now trying to get my kids to rally around and help mommy out. Not much luck there. I have a 14, 6 and 3 year old at home so I am just busy on top of wanting to get things done and completed! I don't feel hopeless, I am just alone. :( I fear my 14 yr old might have ADD or ADHD though a much milder case than me. I am calling our Dr tomorrow because this weekend I just had to leave the house she frustrates me. Not to mention when I actually do clean I give 100% and it takes either kid 2 seconds to undo my hour or more of hard work that I was so happy to have finished! My situation is not conducive to climbing out of my rut. Although I will say... I have tried some tricks that seem to help in some areas. At work I write everything down. I very seldom forget appts anymore and I solved the problem of losing my keys by leaving them in my van in the garage. I too have catch all things in several rooms, if the kids would help it would work better. I also do not do much during the week because of work, cooking and baths. My husband will be home in 4 months, I just hope I can make it til then and find him good resources to not damage me anymore than he unintentionally already does. It has been almost eight years of the same. Now I at least understand why (being diagnosed) but he doesn't. I feel I am battling him and this condition both! Thanks for reading. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Monica

For Monica

Hey Monica, I too am in my fourties and just recently diagnosed. I also have 3 kids and a husband in the military. Maybe you could email him some good links to kind of gradually get him educated on ADHD. I sent my husband this blog and asked him to read just one specific topic and it's comments. When he was away I sent him info about once a week so as not to overload him. Another thing I tried was to photocopy pages out of a good informative book, like "Driven to distraction" and mail them. I think easing the nonADHD spouse into it works better than asking them or expecting them to understand it all. I don't have things the way I would like them to be but they have improved a little bit. My kids are also not very helpful around the house but that is also mostly my doing because I did not have the organizational skills to train them as they were growing up. I wish I knew all of this a long time before I did but there's nothing that I can do about that now. Hang in there. I think your "tricks" are great. Give yourself credit for what you have managed to overcome and remember also that it is very hard being married to someone in the military even without having ADHD. Good Luck! Liz

Spinning up your husband

I'm the non-ADHD spouse and ... I honestly get frustrated with my wife (i'm working on it). She just doesn't do anything that I can see ... but we had a nice long fight over this a few days ago and ... she says she does do stuff and when I say she doesn't it hurts her feelings ... but I know she doesn't do the big stuff but ... apparently (according to her) she will spend 1-2 hours scrubbing a door ... or cleaning the doorknobs or ... whatever. I asked her very nicely to help her ignorant husband out ... tell me the cool stuff she does but she says thats not her and doesn't want to brag or have to be accountable. Its a fundamental disconnect for us that we are working on. I would say ... the key in my mind is to #1 - tell your husband and help him understand you have this thing that just makes it a bit harder to focus and then #2 - show him you are doing everything you can to make it work. Since we have been married she has not put away her stuff in the bathroom. I have tried and tried to ask her to find a home but she always says she can't. I told her she can move anything anywhere but it enver gets touched. So this weekend I emptied out a drawer (threw it all in a box) and ... right then adn there she put it away. So simple. If we can find simple things like this ... I help her overcome her "getting started" problem (co-efficient of static ADHD friction) then she can do the thigns that are hard for her and I can feel happy about the house. We are a long long way off for getting this fixed (she still has 200 articles of clutter on her side of the room ... some that have not moved in months) but I really think as we learn each other (and as she shows me she's trying) it works more. The biggest problem is ... not sharing with me what she does. I know sometimes you don't wanna have to do this but ... when I work 8-10 hours a day and everything "Looks" the same when I get home ... its hard to know whtas been done. I know I have to get better but ... if all the doorknobs have been cleaned, I don't know how to look for that. Communicate and work hard ... and hopefully he will meet you 1/2 way.

spouse support

Dear Bob, As you work on ideas with your ADHD wife, would please forward them along. I have been "doing the work for two" for 20 years now. Actually, it's more than the work of two because I have run into things that my husband has done that are wrong and it usually takes more take to correct them. Examples: putting 'all vegetation kill' to trim lawn areas instead of 'grass kill.' Example 2: savings direction that the (paid off) car payment was to continue to go into. My plan was to have a minimum of $5,000 to put down on the next car. Now mind you, there is always a reason--and a fight--as to why I can't access our main bank account. So, my 2000 car needs to be replaced and he finally tells me, "Well, in my mind the money was still going into the bank." Well, in the real world, the money is GONE. Because I believed I married a good person, I just kept on doing as much of everything that I could and sacrificed too many things that meant too much to me. --A career that he didn't think was right, a sailboat that I loved but decided to sell because arguing over it wasn’t worth a marriage. Safety really isn’t all that important anyways, is it. Just because you have 70-year-old people on board and the boom is whipping back and forth. I really didn't want to kill the relatives. The one time he went out alone with some buddies, he came back with the sail in shreds and the hardware pulled off the deck. Marine weather forecast? What's that?—actually, that was another argument. “Why do you always have to check the forecast before we go out? Let’s just go…” Over the years I became certain that he was lazy and passive aggressive. I did his work, my work and worked full time until I couldn’t keep up and reduced my work days to three 9-hour days. Through all the fighting, he insisted he loved me and would do anything for me. We had already been to several counselors. They implied that I was too uptight, too tidy, too type A, and whatnot. So I thought...and researched. I came to two ideas, one being ADHD. After several years he agreed, and I found a counselor, to set up testing. No big surprise he has ADHD--not the hyper active variety, --totally the inattentive type. How he has kept his job is beyond me, except that he works in a union. He started taking meds three years ago, and counseling for himself 6 months ago. When he started his medications, he was amazed at the difference--but this didn't change his behavior. I expected it would take time for him to learn the skills that he missed learning during his lifetime. I’m not unrealistic, but it's been 3 1/2 years since treatment started and not much has changed even though he insists he is “trying harder.” Right now I'm depressed and exhausted. If you have any success in finding everyday things that help, would you please be so kind as to pass them along.

wife that gets nothing done

As much as this pains me to admit to you gentlemen, I can relate to your wife better than I would like. I am undiagnosed but fit your description to a T. I will try to let you inside my head for a moment. I am unemployed and searching for work, I go job to job and find nothing fulfilling I feel like a jane of all trades and master of none. I want nothing more than to feel like I am really good at something. I am left feeling hopeless most of the time that I will ever achieve anything. As far as my house goes it is as messy as my mind. I hate to admit it but I know it is a mess and I know that I should do a better job. I actually do try to clean the house, but I get working on stupid things like organizing a drawer while the rest of the house falls to the ground. Look I am not trying to make excuses, although the men in my life tell me that is what it is. I am just trying to let you know how truely difficult it is for me to accomplish things. I can clean out the fridge and do a fabulous job of making it tidy and organized. It may take all day but it will be the nicest looking part of our home. When it comes to the entire house I want to crawl under a rock and hide. When I am on medication for depression I am erritable and don't give a hoot what the house looks like. When I am on nothing I am anxious and frusterated with myself. When my husband comes home and asks what I have been doing all day. I want to cry, or throw (soft) things at him. I want to tell him I really have worked today although I have nothing to show for it. I want him to be pleased with me. I don't mean to let him down. I want to work a real job but I am afraid of making my record worse than it already is. Right now I can say I am a homemaker and justify my absence from the workplace. I'll be honest if I was hiring myself and paying myself...I'd fire me for a incomplete work. I got above A's and B's in school, but could have done much better.It is not for a lack of want or desire. It is a how to do it problem. Not because I am dumb. I score well on IQ tests, although I am not claiming to be a genoius. Well I don't know if that helps anyone but I hope that it does.


Those were great suggestions listed in the previous comment but I'd also like to say that with me, (I am the ADHD spouse) what has worked in the past is some firm accountability. If my husband just did all the chores and the cooking I may feel a little guity but I'd probably just let him and that would end up causing a lot of frustration for him. Instead, he has been firm about his expectations of what I can realistically get done and I try very hard to meet those expectations. Thank you. Liz

Hey Liz - Quick Question

What works best for you? Do you have like a "job checklist" to keep track of your stuff ... does he help remind you? Accountability is a sticky question and I want to help her ... help us and make it a nice situation and not something negative. Thanks Bob

Answering your Question

Bob, He makes it even easier then that. He gives me a request for one particular thing, other than my usual things, each morning when he leaves for work. It might be could you please concentrate on cleaning the family room today. I do what it is I normally do but I try my best to get his request accomplished also. I have the motivation to remember because he is happy for me to get that thing done and is not complaining about the other rooms that I may not have got too. I know what you mean about accountability being a sticky word but I do need for my husband to be somewhat firm with me about his expectations or I spend too much time on the computer, or telephone because they are much more pleasant distractions than laundry or floor washing! Hope that answers your question. Liz
nikkiana's picture

I think one really important

I think one really important thing to remember is that ADHD medications only help with the ability to focus and get things done. They aren't going to magically make you desire to do what you don't really want or like to do. They aren't going to magically make things you genuinely find difficult suddenly easy. I know with myself, I have extreme difficulties with cleaning and organizing my stuff. It takes a lot to get myself motivated, and once I start getting going, I tend to crash and burn because I often get to a point where I start tripping over items where I don't know where they best belong... and when I can't decide, I get frustrated and quit and decide to focus on something more rewarding.... and in the end, the task at hand never gets done. It's not that I'm getting distracted midway through, it's more that I'm missing some skills to be able to organize efficiently and affectively and I get frustrated. There are a couple of things that helped me in this department.... One, the realization that not everything has to be done today. If I take baby steps and set a timer for 15 minutes, it will eventually get done. Two, if things are REALLY out of control, it helps to have someone else around to play the role of an advisor... I like to have a neutral party, like a friend, because my husband is also ADHD so, keeping me on task isn't a strength of his seeing as he often keep himself on task. I find having an extra person around because they often have wisdom and ideas on where to put things that don't have homes. I also have a bit of a packrat problem, and I've found that having a netrual party reminding me that it's okay, I can get rid of things just makes the process so much smoother. I wonder if the issue is that your wife just doesn't find doing these sort of chores easy... and that's why she keeps putting them off. I wouldn't bring up ADHD as in being a factor in this... I think the way that I'd approach it with her is more along the lines of, "I've noticed you've been having trouble getting X done. I'm not mad or disappointed with you that it's not done, but I want to know if there's a reason why it hasn't been done, and if you're having difficulties with the task I want to work with you to make it easier."

Upcoming wedding - disorder & chaos

Hello bloggers, Here's what's going on. I am engaged to a wonderful person with ADD. There are lots of arrangements to make for the wedding (next month), and later in the year, party. We sat down and brainstormed on the different elements of planning. My darling wrote it into a chart as we spoke. We decided which of us would be doing what, at least on the most pressing components. All very wonderful and exciting tasks to be doing! Anyway, my darling had taken on certain things on the list, and was to have made headway with them by a certain time. When the time came he had done marvellously with the first thing he was to do - he hyperfocussed on it and completed it perfectly, if tangentially, but he had not done anything about any of the others, and had lost the chart. Fortunately I had allowed for this eventuality and had made a point of copying out the points from the chart before it left my house, so I could keep my own semblance of order! Not only had he lost the chart and forgotten to do the other two things he had agreed to do, but he had decided to start a major project on his house (groan.... where have I heard this before :-( ) into which all his attention was going, apart for the attention that was being drained by his periodically (and currently) very worrying and stressful work situation. Now I have enough of an understanding of ADD to know that really only one thing can be properly focussed on at a time. When he spoke of starting on the house project I urged him not to start it until after the wedding. He agreed to this. When I reminded him of the agreement he had forgotten the earlier discussion - and agreement - altogether. In hindsight I think I should have attempted to curb his enthusiasm for taking on three of the wedding tasks at once and asked him to focus on just one of them, and when he had done that to look at the list again together to see what he could take on next. That's probably the only way we can have equality in this organising process, although it would mean me directing him, and also me still doing the lions share of the planning. As it stands now I am doing most of the arranging and getting stressed. His house is in chaos as he attempts to carry on with projects he has begun but can't complete for one reason or another - and I don't get involved with that - I know this is how he lives. His 'spare' time is taken up with stressing about his work situation. What little time we have together is spent trying to unravel what has and hasn't been done re the wedding, and sitting at the computer looking for this or that because he hasn't done it himself, and he is exhausted from everything he is trying to apply himself to so we have no real quality time together. And we are to be married in a few weeks time! I can just get on with it all and get it all done, but that takes away from what 'should' be the joy of planning this momentous event together. But as he isn't able to do it in the way that I would do it, or to do it in ways he decides for himself, or we decide together, I just need to get on and get it done and adjust my attitude so I am not disappointed that we aren't equally doing it together. I think he needs to have one task to do at a time, with a deadline, and then I can carry on with all the more detailed stuff. At least then he will have more input than at present as I am just running with it now because there is so much to do and I know he is getting left behind. The thing is, there was one thing, for instance, that he was responsible for, and it involved communicating with someone, but after I had reminded him several times, by the time he got to do it he was too tired and mentally fuddled to communicate properly and get the information we needed, so I had to step in and take over. There is another situation coming up soon where he just has to be alert and communicate effectively but I feel like he probably won't be able to. Oh well. it has helped to write it out. I can see a little more clearly now. I think part of his getting totally involved in things outside of the relationship is down to him probably having a fear of failure with me. Any insight or advice welcome!


Yaaaaaaaaa!  What a great story - and it sounds as if you are taking it in stride!

You are about to marry someone whom you treasure...but organization isn't his strong point.  Oh well, he has many others, it sounds like.  Perhaps you can meet in the middle on this one.  Sounds as if he is hyperfocusing elsewhere (wouldn't it be great if they hyperfocused where we want them to - but it doesn't work that way!)  Take a look at what it is that you had hoped the two of you would share and see if you can still get some of that time together, even if you take over the logistics.   For example, if it's really important to you that he help you pick out wedding registry items, schedule a time to do that together so you still get that pleasure.  That way you get good time together.  If the planning is too much for just you, hire a wedding planner to help or ask a relative.

Your married life is likely to look a lot like this - and his hyperfocusing on stuff that isn't of interest to you will irritate you a lot more when you are married and the end result is that you get to pick up the pieces over and over again.  So it is in your best interests to start thinking about this now - and figuring out how to balance your need to do some special things together with his habit of being distracted.  The best ADD-affected relationships are those in which the partners understand that "equal" means that each person contributes what he/she is strongest at, NOT that they split chores down the middle.  They are also the relationships in which the non-ADD spouse doesn't fall into the trap of taking on things by default and resenting them.  Plan ahead taking the unique strengths, weaknesses and needs that each of you has and thinking about them in advance.  Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you are married, or just because the stakes are bigger (as in you are planning your WEDDING!!!) your fiance will suddenly be able to organize something.  Sadly, it doesn't work that way.

Best of luck with your planning - feel happy and lucky that you have found someone you adore...and then take care to adequately nurture your relationship with the unique and wonderful person by not falling into the common traps of the ADD marriage!

Melissa Orlov

Love on a shifting carpet :-)

Thanks for your input Melissa, much appreciated. I know all people can't do the same things, or all do things in the same way, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I love his strengths, and his weaknesses drive me crazy sometimes but not for long :-). And he is such a dear man, he doesn't seem to be fazed about any of my weaknesses at all! Yes it sure would be great if he could hyperfocus where I want him to, when I want him to, but life's not like that. We do always get fun things to do together, even when he is in his over loaded multi-tasking-achieveing-little mode. The thing is, he is generally too tired to enjoy them because he has been burning the candle at both ends and all the way down the centre, both ways, for weeks on end. I fully understand that married life is going to be in this vein from time to time, and the wedding is the biggest thing we have organised together to date, so it's a good tester for just how things will be from here to eternity. And all will be well because our love is so strong, we get along so well, and we are both so grateful to have found each other, and we talk about problems and difficulties as necessary and without any defensiveness or argument. I don't know if this sort of stuff will irritate me more once we are married - we won't be living together. I decided early on that if we ever married I would not be able to live with him. Next door neighbours would be fine, or perhaps we will get a house we can split into two units, but it would be pure folly to try and mesh our two very different ways of domestic functioning.... really no point at all. I hear what you say about not expecting to split things down the middle, and to not take on things and then become resentful. I am trying to learn how to get more balance there. In a few days we will sit down again and make out another plan together, see where we are up to, and see what he wants to take on - but this time just one task. it's worth a try anyhow. However the planning goes it will work out, and our love will shine, and hey, at the end of it we get to go on honeymoon away from all the daily stressors! I think we need to plan a honeymoon every month for the rest of our lives :-) Stay happy :-)

Together, Yet Separate

You are truly a very special person.  Gosh, I wish my hubby would agree to live in a separate house...hmmm...maybe that's a thought!  Congrats on your engagement!

Coping and understanding

Dear all, First of all thank you for all the comments from both non-ADD partners and ADD-partners. They give me such insight - from the non-ADD side I get encouragement and understanding and from the ADD-side I get a keyhole into my husbands thoughts and ideas, which ultimately helps me to understand him better. I can relate to all the non-ADD spouses who feel they are doing everything and who are struggeling to cut the chores in half. I also find it hard to cope at times. One strategy we have tried is to split the tasks based on ability rather than a 50/50 split. He is obsessive about cleanliness and I just hate doing laundry, dusting and vaccuming, so he is in charge of those things. His obsessive behaviour actually prompts him long before I even get annoyed with it and the tasks get done. Sure, I usually have to put back all the furniture after he has vaccumed because he wants to do it 100%, but I can accept that. We have both accepted that organising and sorting things are not strong sides of his, but instead, with me being a type A person, they are probably overly strong in me. So I do the organising of shelfs, drawers, papers etc. When I feel that this taks is heavier than the tasks he has then I ask him to chose a chore I dislike to compensate me. A while ago we needed to go through a big pile of papers, file them and throw things away. I told him that it was a couple of hours work and that I know that he just dreads these tasks, so I asked him to suggest a task I dread that he would do as a compensation. He decided to do the dishes for a whole week. I sorted the papers and could then rejoice in not doing the dishes for a whole week. Of course he moaned a bit about it at the end of the week but I just had to remind him about the pile of papers and he continued doing the dishes. The second strategy that we have rather recently implementing is about curbing the clutter. Without knowing about his ADD my husband was always very keen on labeling things in order to help his memory and to know where things goes. When we first moved togheter I found this system childish and so I completely rejected it. My reasoning was that in kindergarden you can label the boxes but as adults you should know where things go. I have in the past used a organisation as a coping mechanism for depression and so I wasn't planning on bringing that back into my life, with lists and labels. It was not until my husband's ADD was diagnosed and reading up about it that I understood that he actually doesn't remember where things go and that it means things just gets dropped whereever, much to my nuiscance. We are now trying to implement systems for where everything goes, in order to help him to put things back at their right place. It means I don't have to do everything, running after him picking up. It also means that he can get some of the satisfaction for keeping the place tidy. The entrance of our house has always been a complete disaster since my husband tends to just drop things as he comes home. Receipts, keys, belts, shoes, coats, brochures, papers from work, bus tickets - everything in one endless chaotic mess. I tried to nag it out of him but it didn't help. When finding out about ADD I decided to take on a more creative approach. Instead of making the entrance the center of chaos I decided to make it the center for ADD help. We now have what I call an entrance organiser. It has shelves where the handbags go, little hanging cups for the bus tickets, another holder for all the bike gear and helmets, a clip for all the take-out brochures. Another holder has all the keys. Each little item has its designated place. On the wall we also have a glassboard where we write reminders and messages to each other. It even has a small family calendar where we write down common projects and appointments. Instead of chaos our entrance has become the coordination central for our lives. And it WORKS! I am amazed when I see my husband putting the thing he used to drop, right where it is supposed to be. I am no longer overwhelmed by all little things being dropped everywhere. What a relief! Seeing the positive effects of organising and labelling, we have now moved on to label more things. I am now ever considering labelling the shelves of his closet in order to make it easier for him to know where which type of clothes goes and resist the urge to just throw it in and close the door. At times I do feel like I am a kindergarden teacher trying to teach organisation skills or as a mother keeping after her son. But when I read posts from ADD-partners I realise the reality ADD persons are facing. I can understand how terrifying all these piles of clutter must feel and if you don't know how to organise it once you deal with it then it is just going to create even more agony. If a few lables will ease that feeling then I can live with it. For me reading and understanding the "other side" has helped me not to resist certain changes and to be able to actually help. And by helping I have helped myself - easing the load on my shoulders and creating a more equal relationship. Thank you to all of you!

Janine - thanks!

This is beautifully written and thoughtful.  I would like to take it and turn it into a blog post (with attribution to you) so that the most people can see it.  That okay with you?

Melissa Orlov

A good book about organization

Hi Janine. Our ADHD family struggles with clutter/chores, etc. bigtime. I'm currently reading an excellent book about the subject - Houseworks by Cynthia Townley Ewer (it's a DK book and has lots of pictures - good for ADHD folks!). Her perspective/approach is great because she does not come by being organized naturally - it's been a learning process/journey for her. I believe she also moderates/runs a website titled

2nd Marriage with 3 added kids/husband

I have got to say that reading the comments listed have been very helpful... I see that I need to make some changes in my house for my husband and his four children. I've been married for two years and I have two children from a previous marriage. My husband has four children from a previous marriage and three of the four have ADHD/ADD. He also has it. My bed room is in consent chaos and my house is turned upside down when his children come over two or three times a month. Once I reorganize my house to accomodate the kids better and my husband what can be done to motivate them to start using the organize stations that are set up? My daughter is really having a hard time with the behaviors of her step father and step brothers and sisters. My son complains but it does not bother him as much because he understands and has compassion. My daughter does not.. She is 14 years old. What can I do to help her through this process? Thanks... lost.....


I am in a relationship with a wonderful ADHD man, you COULD say I'm the non-ADHD partner, but only because my problems are moderately less than his. Believe me it's still there. My trouble is this; because his case is WORSE, it's almost as if my struggles don't matter because he thinks it's even harder for him. For example, a lot of household responsibilities fall to me, because it's "easier" for me. The thing is, it's NOT EASY for me, not by a long shot. I forget to pay the rent (for an entire month), lose the keys (for an entire week), misplace important paperwork, build up piles of unopened mail, procrastinate taking care of the most basic things, etc. etc. etc. The reason I'm bringing this up in the housework category is because this is the area where I really need his help. When the place is cluttered and a disaster (as it pretty much always is, to varying degrees), it gets more and more difficult for me to keep my (our!) life together. I lose things more, I get more distracted, more anxious, and so on. So a relatively clean house is something I NEED. It's something he does not seem to need. So, since it's something I need, I end up taking the initiative to get the house cleaned up when it starts to overwhelm me. He does almost nothing. Well, he'll do something when I ask but he gets all pissed about it a lot of the time. Well, and he'll offer to do the dishes if he sees me struggling to find a fork in the bottom of two full sinks. I say offer because it actually happens roughly half the time. I always thank him for any effort he makes. The thing is, even though a clean house is something I need and he doesn't, I don't think it's fair for me to constantly be cleaning up for 2, when cleaning up after myself hard enough for me. I simply cannot keep up. I know he wants to help meet my needs, but he gets aggravated by constantly being asked no matter how politely I request help with the housework... he wants to do it when he wants to do it. Which is never. And frankly I get aggravated by HAVING to ask for help, I wish he just did it on his own but he doesn't. I have tried setting aside 20 minutes a day where we clean together (he agreed to that, but surprise, surprise we both had trouble sticking to it!) I have tried ignoring it so eventually he'd pick up some slack when he realized I wasn't going to... but I got completely stressed by clutter and had to tidy. Nothing seems to work, I can't seem to get him on board with this without feeling like his mom or like I'm telling what to do, which I HATE. The way I see it, we have a few options: 1. I continue to clean up after him and build up further resentment toward him. (this is a no go for me) 2. I don't clean up after him, we live in a mess and I lose my mind, also building up resentment toward him (also a no go) 3. I have to ask and ask and ask, making us both unhappy. 4. My ideal: He does it on his own without me asking. He's happy because I'm not bugging him, I'm happy because I can maintain sanity. (I haven't succeeded in getting this to happen, I'm not sure it will ever happen) How can we both be happy here? I'm willing to make changes too, but I can't change the fact that I feel overwhelmed by clutter and mess. PS. I just want to mention that I'm not even talking a spic-and-span spotless house. I just mean, maybe we could keep the piles of paper down to a dozen or so. Maybe we could have ONE jacket on the chair in the living room instead of seven, plus 3 scarves and 3 hats. The recycling could NOT take up an entire corner of the room. Just the most basic level of sanity I'm looking for here.

re: housework

I feel for you as I NEED a clean house also.  Simply hire someone to clean for you.  Suprisingly you will be able to afford it if you look at what is a priority in your spending and budget out other things.  Try it for a month and see how that goes.

Best wishes!


This is a BIG danger zone for you and your spouse and you must deal with it realistically, immediately.  Chances are VERY GOOD that your spouse isn't going to volunteer (at least not now) to help out without prodding.  Since asking for help irritiates the heck out of you, you need a different method.  I agree with the person who wrote - get a housekeeper.  Either someone once a week to do a deep clean, or someone twice a week (same time overall, just split up) to do tidying twice a week.

Make sure you find someone (or a service) you like, who speaks a language that you speak, and who will do specific "out of the ordinary" tasks on an "as needed basis".

Here's what's likely to happen if you do this:

  1. you will feel better immediately (no mess)
  2. your resentment towards your spouse will decrease, resulting in more positive feelings all around (no more bugging him)
  3. you'll get much more traction asking for him to help because the chore of cleaning up won't seem so daunting
  4. you'll be more likely to get his assent to make at least one on-going duty his own (again, less daunting)

If you think you can't afford this, think again.  You can't afford not to try this!  Give up something else if you have to (tuna noodle casserole, anyone?!) but don't let your need for a neat house destroy your positive feelings about your spouse.

What Now?


My husband is taking medication for his ADD, which is working quite well.  He is able to focus at work, perform very well and  seems to be happy with his job for the first time since I met him.  The problems I am noticing now seem to center around skills most people learn earlier in life.  He was diagnosed with ADD when he was about 16 years old, he is now 27, and from what I can gather has been on the usual cocktail journey I think the newly diagnosed experience.  So, in those years that he should have been learning how to take care of himself, wash clothes, do dishes, pay bills, etc. he was battling ADD and taking a wide assortment of meds.  

Well, now, that he has better focus and more control of himself he is pretty capable of getting those things done.  I have seen him walk into a warehouse haphazardly piled to the ceiling with dirty equipment and systematically take each piece, clean it, and set it neatly in place.  When I ask him to do dishes, he stands in the middle of the kitchen spacing out for 5-10 minutes and proceeds to wash about half of them, not very well, while leaving the rest piled in corners that he has spread through out the room.

I have suspected for awhile that he has some mental and emotional blocks associated with basic functioning.  Even when we are having a calm and rational discussion he automatically assumes I am thinking the worst of him, and everything that I say is twisted into this subtle insult.  I really believe he's has some serious emotional abuse when he was younger.  I think it was his father, as his mother treats him with kid gloves and is more demanding of his 11 year old sister.

The problem is that he is extremely resistant to learning  techniques to compensate for any sort of lack of focus or hierarchical thinking he may have in relation to these basic living skills.  He knows these are issues associated with ADD, but it's as if he gave up on learning how to do these things that I've mentioned.  He says that he hates small, incremental improvements.  I remind him was kind of video games he likes to play.  Not the shooter games like HALO, but the Role playing games like Final Fantasy.  I don't know if anyone has ever played these games, but it's ridiculous.  Over and over you kill the same creatures until you build up enough points to to buy like a satchel to put your coins in, and then you just repeat the process over and over and over and over and over and over again.  There's a reason why these games take days and days to complete.

Point being that if you can devote 70 hours to Final Fantasy killing 5 incarnations of the same basic magical creature, you can devote and hour a week for some self-improvement.  Unless you've been convinced that there is no possibility of  improving yourself. I don't know how to deal with this.  He gets angry when I bring up his childhood and the wall immediately goes up.  I am 19 weeks pregnant and we live about 4 hours away from family.  I spend so much time taking care of us, that I have no time to develop relationships outside of the house and my family.  I am absolutely going to need help when the baby gets here.  We have a 2 year old and my hands are full to overflowing with him.  I have been trying to get my husband to practice being solely responsible for his care without prompting, but it's not working.  He gives him incorrect dosages of medication, doesn't bathe him, doesn't comb his hair well.   He leaves my son's clothes all throughout the house.  In two weeks he has lost more socks than I've lost in the two years that I was taking the majority of the care of him.

Today he missed the bus, so I ended up having to miss my sonogram appointment along with about an hour of work in order to pick him up.  I will have to leave work an hour early later this week in order to make up for the missed appointment.  But he didn't want to be late to work so tough for me I guess.  He was actually indignant about it when I brought it up to him.  A new baby is hard enough work without having also to carry the full weight of managing a household and an adult who is ill equipt to manage themselves.  Sometimes I wish he would just go away so that my son and I could have some peace and order in our lives.  More than that I want him to suck it up and learn some techniques that he can use get some household chores done consistently.  I mean, we all have issues right?  Everyone doesn't have ADD, but everyone does have challenges to face.


I don't know what now,

I don't know what now, NerdMom.  I'm in a waiting phase myself as my husband now tries his first attempts of medication.  He reports feeling and thinking differently. I can report only that the changes he was making through intent and effort were present before the brief-lasting Ritalin showed up.  So, I can't attribute much to Ritalin other than the fact that when it's in effect, my husband seems to be willing to listen more in conversations. He reports the effect being as if his physical hearing has improved (when it's not damaged).   Like you, I don't know what the future holds in terms of improvement in our personal lives, if any.

But also just like you, I am very suspicious of the highly selective nature of the inattention shown.   You say your husband seems to have absolutely no problem focusing when it's about his needs and wants, but suddenly has a problem focusing when the task is not important to him.  It seems as if you are saying that you are NOT seeing any improvement in this selectivity of attention with the medication.

I mean, really, what sort of "chaotic thinking" individual who can get no set of tasks into priority or order anything in their lives can suddenly make demands to place their needs over someone else's?  To my understanding, a person with attention deficit disorder can nearly NEVER get to work on time, so why the demands that you do it for him at your own expense?  That demand took planning, prioritization and attention to a task at hand - all of the abilities we are told that an ADD/ADHD person does not have.

What you describe in your husband is exactly what makes me so suspicious of this diagnosis in my own husband. And I am not alone in that. My own therapist holds the diagnosis in high suspicion as well due to this sudden ability to prioritize and plan - when it comes to something he wants to do.   In my husband's case, my therapist suspects psychological issues stemming from deprivation of attention in childhood instead of any attention deficit disability in himself.  It sounds like you are thinking right along the same lines when thinking of your own husband's case.

My husband is now in therapy himself, though I am not happy with his therapist's insistence that their sessions be only twice a month.  Is your husband in therapy too?  I can say that, at least, my husband is not dismissing the possibility of psychological issues lying behind his attention deficit disorder.  As I said earlier, I saw improvements in my husband's attentiveness before he started taking Ritalin, but after he started therapy.

Is there any chance you can talk your husband into participating in cognitive therapy? I am presuming that a psychiatrist wrote this prescription for him, yes? Or was it an MD of a different practice area?

I can relate

My husband always, ALWAYS seems to be able to find focus in what HE wants to do and when He wants to do it.  This adds to my hurt and frustration when he ignores me, forgets what is important to me, forgets to give me the respect and attention he seems to be able to give his friends.  Its so frustrating!  Talk about making me feel like second best,  a back up plan etc.  Why is this?  He wasn't like that until after we married.  Where is all the hyperfocused attention he lavished on me while dating???

Oh and medication doesn't make any difference in this area.


Steph, that's just it. One of

Steph, that's just it. One of the most difficult things for me in understanding this disorder at all - in anyone - is distinguishing it from just plain ol' generalized anxiety or defensive narcissism.  In one of the posts here, Melissa linked an article by Dr. Hallowell that discusses the distinctions between attention deficit disorders and narcissism. I followed what Dr. H was saying in the article. I understood it. I most certainly saw those distinctions in my own husband.  But, at the same time, at no time have I ever suspected that my husband had something as extreme as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I'm not a psychologist, but I feel confident enough in saying that I am certain it isn't the case.

But narcissism can be present in someone's repeated patterns of behavior without them suffering something as extreme and permanent as a personality disorder.  Something like, for example what my own therapist suspects, attention deprivation in childhood can bring it on. Someone who did not receive supportive nurturing as a child can become a bottomless pit of narcissistic demands in adulthood, yet not be AS damaged as a personality disorder would make them.

Maybe there is a neurological dysfunction affecting attention ability present TOO, but I can't help but suspect that there are underlying psychological issues in the person who can seemingly SUDDENLY find focus and attention ability when it's all about themselves, their needs and their wants.

I say this as someone who does not have any kind of attention deficit disorder, but who used to be severely disorganized myself.  I used to neglect basic life skill tasks too. I used to also abdondon plans and tasks in the middle of them. But in my case, I could tell you exactly why I did in each significant case of abandonment or procrastination.   It boiled down to a lot of anger and situational depression stemming from my life circumstances up to that point.  There was resentment present. There was loneliness present.  And, yes, there was a LOT of narcissistic reaction present. I went to cognitive therapy. I was never prescribed medication for any chemical imbalance because none was ever suspected.  My life improved dramatically when I was able to analyze a lot of my own learned behaviors.

So, you probably relate to this too. When my husband shows no problem at all in finding tiny single datum bugs in 1,000 lines of code, but seemingly can never pay attention to how to get a dish CLEAN, I see a lot of my past self in the selective nature of the attention. It's especially reminescent of how I was when I was a teenager.

In comparison, I "get" the existence of disorders on the autism spectrum, for example. I believe fully that they exist. But, when you're around someone who has even just Aspberger's Syndrome, you see it immediately. Their behavior is out-of-step with that of most people at MOST ages.  And severe autism? You see it immediately. It is a set of behaviors that is abnormal at nearly ANY age.

But I confess to not "getting" a disorder that leads an adult to act in a way that is NOT abnormal for an 8 year old or even for a 16 year old.  The set of behaviors is just not that out of step. It just seems pathetically - and selfishly - immature.

I listen to my husband tell me what's happening in his head since diagnosis and medication came on the scene.  What is most unfortunate about this disorder is that those of us who do not have it, but deal daily with someone who does, is that we have no evidence of what is going on inside the head of an ADD/ADHD person.  We can see only the behaviors that are just NOT all that bizarre. We see behaviors that we would engage ourselves - if we were still children or teens.  We hear them identify desires to procrastinate tasks that anyone would consider unpleasant or boring.

What we cannot see or hear is what they are - or more accurately - not feeling at the time they decide to procrastinate or leave that task to someone else.

I have told my husband to try to keep this in mind at all times. When, or if, he says to himself "I'll leave that to do later", the REALITY of it is that he is actually saying "I'll leave that for HER to do."

He says he feels just awful when he thinks that way. I believe he does. But I can't go to the bank on his feelings inside his head. What I'm left with is the fact that the task has, once again, been left for me to do.

Defensive Narcissism or ADHD/ADD?

I am the spouse of an ADD man.  As of yesterday, I was ready to get the papers for divorce.  Last night, I found a support group for those dealing with adult deficit disorder.  Leading up to all of this, I have had my car repo'd twice, have to now file for bankruptcy because of a law suit from a bill my husband didn't pay (and I am sure there are more I don't know about), had my bank accounts closed on me because of poor credit, had to leave my home and move in with my mother-in-law (who is OCD) and now have to work 3 part-time jobs while going to med school to take care of my husband who doesn't work.  I am also a mother of a 2 year old.

From the outside looking in, one would wonder why this man's wife is working like a crazy woman and trying to go to med. school while he stays at home all day.  Where's her support???  This is where I was at mentally until last night.  After going to this meeting and seeing other people who suffer from ADD/ADHD as well as talking to other spouses, I realized that we are not alone.  This site is WONDERFUL in showing us that, but to actually see the faces of these people -- see their tears, hear their stories, and see their committment to learning new ways of doing things and figuring out systems and ways to help themselves -- made me want to try with my husband a little longer.  These people have banded together and are helping eachother as a community.

I am trying to cope with my anger and bitterness towards my husband.  My husband, too, was romantic and ambitious when we were dating.  He hyperfocused on me and made me feel like the cat's meow.  2 weeks to the day after we married, I felt like I was disgarded and then he moved on to his next "project."  Even though that is how it felt, that is not the truth at all.  He started playing online computer games (the role palying games) and would go off into that world.  I now look back and realize that the stress of this new life in marriage became overwhelming to him in his head.  So, he shut down and sunk into the world of computer role playing.  To you and I (the non-ADD person) this seems selfish, childish and immature.  To the ADD person who probably doensn't have too many coping skills up until now, this is just that -- a way to cope.  He needs to learn new ways to cope with the stressors in life -- even the POSITIVE stress -- like a new marriage. 

Last night at this meeting, some of those people told me that is what they had to do...learn skills in coping and most of all, ORGANIZING.  One man explained his thinking process to me in this way:  take a filing cabinet and start filing papers randomly.  The papers you put on top you can find immediately.  After papers are piled on top of those papers, the old ones are forgotten...out of site, out of mind.  Most of these people have been told all of their lives that they are lazy, stupid, and/or immature.  Most of them, however, are brilliant.  Some of them just stop trying because they believe that even though they try harder to meet their goals and the goals others set for them, nothing ever turns out the way they plan.  So why try?  This is where the depression comes in.  They need so does the non-ADD spouse (which is something you need to seek out in therapy, groups or from friends and family).  Your ADD spouse or loved one doesn't want to be this way.  If you haven't already, I suggest you try finding a local group (such as CHADD) where you can go for support.  Just by going there last night, I realized that what my husband is dealing with is not something personal just between the two of us.  The best thing we can do as spouses or the loved ones of those with ADD is to learn how to help them cope and learn new skills to help them succeed in life.  They should be encouraged to surround themselves with an environment that promotes success.  Just as important, the spouses and loved ones of those with ADD need to learn NEW ways and skills in dealing with their ADD partner or loved one.  We don't understand why they just can't "get it."  "I've seen you do it before, so why can't you do it NOW?"  Executive functioning is where the problem lies with the ADD person.  Again, it's like that filing cabinet example.  With a good "executive assistant," an ADD person can be very successful.  It's the "little things" they forget...but those "little things" can really add up!

Hang in there, my friends...there is always hope.

ADD and Narcissism article

Can anyone direct me as to where to find that article that Dr. Hallowell wrote that discusses the distinctions between attention deficit disorders and narcissism? 


Sorry that I wasn't able to

Sorry that I wasn't able to relocate it at the time I posted Steph.  I have to run out the door now, but if someone doesn't link it for you by the time I come back, I'll review my web history to find it.  It's actually about a year and change old, but it was just on the topic of the distinctions obvious between the two conditions.



Interpreting new medication response

Let me help you interpret your husband's comments about his medications:  He says he feels and thinks differently and it seems as if his physical hearing has improved.  What this probably means is that he is able to focus better - shutting out other distractions that he would normally be hearing (people with ADD often hear EVERYTHING that is going on around them.  People without ADD selectively hear what's going on, based upon what is most important at the time).  This fits with your observation that he can listen better, which is a good sign.

If the short acting Ritalin works for him, then I suggest he talk with his doctor about trying the long-acting stimulants.  These last for approximately 8 hours, not 4, and can really help get through the day.

It is important for you to put aside the frustration and anger that you feel about your past as your husband experiments with how medications might help him.  This will encourage him to keep searching for the best will also help him feel positive about his efforts.  And your supportive (and observant) feedback can help him figure out dosing.  The more open you are to the idea that meds will work, the more likely he'll find one that does.

Once he has settled on a medication then the work begins, for he'll need to teach himself things he hasn't yet not interupting others, putting organizational skills in place, etc.  THis will take time, but he has already taken the biggest step -getting the diagnosis.

Your therapist's suspicions about your husband's inconsistent focus does not mean that your husband doesn't have ADD.  What it may well mean is that your therapist doesn't know very much about ADD.  See my new post about inconsistency of focus.

Please put aside your anger and suspicions for a while.  Your marriage will greatly benefit if you focus on forgiving and moving forward at this particularly crucial time in your relationship.

Emotional Issues for Nerdmom

Please don't be offended by this, but I think you need to take one step back to hear what you are saying.  For example:

"I have suspected for awhile that he has some mental and emotional blocks associated with basic functioning.  Even when we are having a calm and rational discussion he automatically assumes I am thinking the worst of him, and everything that I say is twisted into this subtle insult."

He might have had some emotional abuse, as you say, but why are you in the role of diagnoser?  If my husband's underlying assumption was that I had "mental and emotional blocks" then I, too, would be likely to assume that he thinks poorly of me...for he would!  Over 70% of communication is non-verbal...perhaps he paranoid...or perhaps you are communicating your feelings when you talk.

Also, you are unwittingly enabling your husband.  You describe him as competent, which is great.  So why did you give him a ride to work when he missed the bus?  He can call a cab or a friend who doesn't have an important doctor's appointment!  Do you think that if he was single he wouldn't have gone to work that day?  Unlikely.  Explain politely that on most mornings you would be happy to help out but this morning you can't.

When you say  "I have been trying to get my husband to practice being solely responsible for his care without prompting, but it's not working.  He gives him incorrect dosages of medication, doesn't bathe him, doesn't comb his hair well.   He leaves my son's clothes all throughout the house.  In two weeks he has lost more socks than I've lost in the two years that I was taking the majority of the care of him." I'm seeing a basic problem that I suspect your husband is also picking up.  First of all, it's clear from what you write that you are still in charge...he is just "practicing".  If he is to be successful, then he must be in charge when it's his turn (exception - medications.  You should stay in charge of medications).  Second, your frustration is getting in the way of healthy perspective.  So what if clothes are all over the house?  What are we talking about - a pair of pants, some socks, a shirt and a jacket?  Isn't picking those things up worth the three hours of free time you got when you husband took over?  And little boys are fine without a bath once in a while - some of my son's happiest moments were when he was so dirty he was barely recognizable.  When your son is back on your watch then you can bathe him if it's bothering you...but don't assume he won't survive if he misses one bath.  Lost  My daughter lost more mittens than I could count - even after we pinned them to her.  She survived, even in the Chicago cold.  Yeah, it would be great if the socks didn't get lost, but what's more important, your relationship, or a bunch of socks?!

You two are having control issues and YOU are at their core!  You need to cede control if your husband is ever going to take on the responsibility that you say you want him to take.  And it takes time to learn, so you have to let him do it his way (and make some mistakes without penalty)...and you won't always like what his way is, but too bad!  Nothing in this world says that your way is the only would sure be resistant to taking on a chore (like childcare) if you knew that someone was going to be looking over your shoulder and criticize how you did it.  Can you really be surprised that he resists? Let him - no insist - that he be a dad in his own way and take the time to try to find the positives in that experience.  You might say "oh well, my son's dirty, but he's happy!" or "isn't it great that they got time together?" or "look at that rat's nest on his head...doesn't he look just like a boy?!" or "wow!  they figured out a new way to go sledding down the hill backwards today...not that useful...but probably fun!"

As for those chores - same thing.  He'll figure out what techniques he needs to get his chores done once he's allowed to be him - choose those chores he finds most interesting (in a bow to his ADD needs) and do them his way.  You might do the laundry every day, but if he wants to do it once a week, then fine!  You may fold clothes yourself, but if he wants to take an hour and have the 4 year old fold with him (while jumping on the bed) then fine!  (So what if there are a few wrinkles?)  You said at the outset that your husband was competent at work.  Let him be competent at home, too.  Your respect of his differences will go a long way towards ending the control issues you are having and helping you reach your marital goals.

Finally, read my new blog post on attacking inconsistency of focus issues.

But what if you can't afford

But what if you can't afford new socks? Really, I'm not kidding.

Leaving dirty laundry on the floor to get stepped on gets stains on things, that you sometimes can't get out. Then you have to buy new clothes. If your husband isn't working, that may not be possible. I can't seem to get that through to my husband, and I have such physical limitations that it's hard for my to do laundry. But my other choice is for it to get ruined. Honestly, I can't wait six months for him to learn to do laundry.

Seriously, living like pigs

Seriously, living like pigs with dirty laundry all over the place is unacceptable. No "mind shift" should take place on this. No "looking at things a different way" here. Just because a person has ADD entitiles them to be relieved of certain civilities? If I ever threw out my husbands stuff that was lying about, he would yell like there was no tomorrow (at the very least) and he would throw out or destroy my most personal and sentimental belongings. Period.
arwen's picture

pigsty out, tossing in

While I have to unfortunately confess that there have been times when my husband and I did end up with dirty dishes (not laundry) all over, it is certainly unacceptable *at whatever point it becomes a true hazard* (not merely unpleasant), whether that hazard comes from stacked dishware falling over and breaking, or mold and germs growing and creating a health hazard, or whatever.  I used to weep with shame and frustration  at these times.  My ADD spouse and I (non-ADD) were both working full-time, I was doing almost all the child-raising, handling the finances, handling the medical issues (we are not a particularly healthy bunch, unfortunately), and although I shockingly shortchanged my sleep, I still did not always have enough hours in the day to get all the urgent and critical things that really needed doing done.

I'm afraid I can't help thinking that these cleanliness issues have little to do with ADD and more to do with the fact that since a lot of men are not really raised to clean up after themselves, even today, a lot of men are inclined to be slobs, ADD or no.  (My apologies to all the non-slob males out there, I know you do exist, my father is one, I'm not talking about you!  But the capacity of some male minds to rationalize the entitlements that they've assumed for themselves in this area completely boggles my mind!)  In my experience, a slobby male with ADD is simply harder to reason with about it than the norm, and usually requires a louder "wake-up call".

Therefore, I firmly believe there is an appropriate place for throwing things out, *when they constitute a hazard to others than the person who created the hazard, when the person who has created the hazard has had ample opportunity to remedy the hazard, and when the person who created the hazard has had ample warning of the potential consequences*.  It's totally unreasonable for them to be indifferent to the risk of *me* having to suffer the physical consequences of the hazard *they* created (just as it would be if the shoe was on the other foot).  *NEVER* should any member of a family with a member who has ADD be expected or asked (even implicitly) to *endanger* themselves on that member's account, and any member has the right to protect themselves from such hazards as necessary.

I have in fact removed from our home things that belonged to my husband under these circumstances.  In the case of items easily replaced they were recycled, in others they were stored someplace inaccessible to him until he could demonstrate that he had learned how to avoid creating a hazard with them.  My husband sure didn't like it, but even he had to admit that the process was completely fair to everyone involved.  In my experience, if you're going to draw a line, you have to be willing to make it stick, or you're not going to make any progress dealing with the ADD.  In my opinion, any partner who can't live with fair hazard removal like this (by retaliating in sheer spite, for example) is either unable or unwilling to participate in an equal and responsible way in the relationship and should be shown either the error of his ways, or the door.

Now, we can all quibble about where to draw the line for endangerment or hazards, but there *is* some room for negotiation on that point depending on the perspectives of the individuals involved.  For example, in our household, each person does his own personal laundry.  If my husband keeps his dirty laundry closed up tight in heavy-duty construction-grade mylar bags, and doesn't waste money buying new clothes to replace the ones he isn't washing, and keeps his dirty laundry somewhere out of the way where it doesn't pose a hazard to others walking or working about the house, what do I care?  On the other hand, if he leaves them all over the house, or piles them up in a place that creates a hardship for someone, or some such, then maybe we need to do some negotiating.  And if he's leaving them on the stairs for people to trip over, they're definitely either going to be dealt with in an appropriate way by him somehow, or they are going to be removed by me and made inaccessible until a better solution can be reached.

I think Melissa has some reasonable suggestions here -- it's pointless to continue to rail against a problem if railing isn't going to change anything and a dollop of pragmatism will.  But at the same time, there are certain limits as to how much compromise can be considered acceptable.  There's no way anybody is ever going to convince me that a standard which actually endangers the physical or mental health of any family member for any reason is in any way OK.

Regrettably, sometimes one faces real life situations where one's only choice is to endanger either one family member or another.  Then you have to make the most rational choice you can.  But it still isn't OK.

New Socks

If you can't afford new socks, then there is a larger issue that of course must be taken into account and will affect how you handle your reponses.  Perhaps you can agree with him that if he loses socks he owes you something in return?  (money, time doing errands, a session learning how to do the laundry???). 

And, if the laundry is hard for you due to physical limitations, then it's time for your husband to start doing the laundry.  It won't take him six months to learn to do the laundry if you stop doing it.  Completely.  Have a conversation with him like the one I posted above about why it's important for you as a person and for your relationship that he take this on.  Give him a few pointers about delicates, separating the colors, them let him do it...his way.  The reason he'll get it in less than 6 months will be that he'll run out of socks and underwear, etc.  At that point, he'll learn the importance of doing the laundry in a reasonable time frame.  If he repeatedly runs out of socks, ask him if you can brainstorm some sort of reminder system.  Perhaps he can program his computer calendar to pop up a laundry reminder every Friday afternoon.  Or perhaps you can post a calendar on the fridge that has "laundry" on every Saturday.  You just need to get him to whatever his system is going to be, and (with the exception of setting up the reminder system if need be) that means letting him figure it out and not stepping into the void.

To help diminish the chances that you'll get colors mixed up and ruining other clothes, don't buy regular bleach (color safe only) and save up to purchase a 3-bin laundry sorter (Bed, Bath and Beyond used to have these - maybe $20?)  Whites in one area, reds the next, darks the next.  You can even marker these designations into the fabric.  Sorting into one of these can be kind of fun (like dunking baskets in BBall) and should help make him more successful.

At first, I would anticipate it won't be completely smooth.  So make sure to set aside stuff that you might need a week out if he doesn't do it in a timely fashion (i.e. make sure he runs out of underwear before you do!)  Perhaps the baby can use socks two days in a row (particularly if he isn't walking yet).

As long as you convince yourself that your other choice is for the laundry to get ruined you will continue to do your laundry.  You have to let go and give him the chance to take it over.  That's hard, I know, but ultimately (after perhaps some mishaps, perhaps none) he'll get it.

Also, if you can't afford new socks, look for opportunities to trade or get some for free.  For example, we have something called "Freecycle" which is a web-based trading community in which people post things they don't need any more for others to take for free or post what they are looking for so that someone who has extras can share.  It works great, and you can't believe everything that gets "recycled" this way.  If you posted for socks for kids of a certain age you might well come up with some for free (Google Freecycle).  We also used to go to a once a year wonderful rummage sale put on by a local school.  We got all sorts of stuff for no money whatsoever.

re:new socks-just do it!

Geez! That's an awful lot of work looking for socks-recycled or otherwise. Charting things for the ADDer... Just do the darn laundy already ADDer

in reply to anonymous- re: new socks-just do it!

Amen sister.  I have said a million times that if there was trash knee deep and my husband had to wade through it, it wouldn't even bother him.  I believe that.  I truly do.  What is he teaching his 9-year-old son or rather what has he taught him?  To change clothes at least 3 times a day and be sure to strew the ones you take off all over the house and not pick them up.  One day that little boy is going to grow into a man whose spouse or significant other is totally not a happy camper.


I'm the one who posted about the socks, and I don't have children. My husband wears whatever 2 socks he finds, no effort to match them, maybe one blue and one brown, and I can't wear socks because of my disability.

What happens is, my husband doesn't feel he should have to do any housework during the week (he does cook dinner, but he likes to cook.). The laundry sits on the floor for a week and gets stepped on, ripped, etc. There isn't room in our bathroom for a hamper.

I sort the loads and ask him to put them in the machine, because he walks much better than I do. But he claims the dryer "just pops open," which never happens when I do it. Then the clothes don't get dry. We slept without sheets last night because of this.

If he runs out of underwear, he'll just go without-Ick!

I can't afford to, nor do I want to, replace our clothes (Freecycle or not-I do love Freecycle), because he won't do the laundry and it's really hard for me to do it. I need him to just step up and do it right, the first time, just like any other adult.


Melissa, you have got to be kidding. What you are describing here is a completely unreasonable existence. The ADDer gets to pick when, how, and which chores to do? That leaves his "partner" to do everything else that needs to be done. Yes, need to be done. Life isn't going to wait around while the ADDer doesn't hold up his (her) responsibilities. I don't get to choose to take out the trash, do laundry, pay the bills, etc.--not really. They simply must be done, and some things must be done when, where, and how OTHERS say to do them (paying bills, for example).

A dirty but happy child? No, that puts the mom here in an impossible position. The child needs to learn self-dicipline and responsibility. What you suggest will make teaching those vital life lessons a thousand times harder than they already are. Dad will be the "fun" parent and mom will be the monster disciplinarian. That's really healthy...not.

While I agree that she shouldn't have missed her sonogram because of him, the rest of your advice here isn't very helpful.


An Unreasonable Existence - For Lili

Lili, you and I may well just end up disagreeing in this area.  When my husband read your post (he reads most of them as the administrator on this site) he said "tell her that you understand completely what she is saying and that you get it - you used to BE Lili".  He's right.  I used to believe exactly what you are saying.  I know where you are coming from when you say "you have got to be kidding"  But while I used to believe that, I don't anymore.  Here's why:

Your point of view is an antagonistic one, which is inherently unproductive in what is supposed to be a partnership - in your post you set up the options as "my way" or "his way" (ADDer gets to pick when, how, and which chores).  It isn't really like that, though you are having trouble seeing it right now.  But let me give you an example.  You say that a dirty but happy child "puts the mom in an impossible position".  Dad gets to be the "fun" parent while mom gets to be the monster disciplinarian.  Huh?  Because the kid was dirty for one day?  What about this scenario?  Dad has fun with the kid and leaves him dirty.  He goes to bed happily (mom or dad tucks him in).  The next day mom says "Wow, you're pretty dirty!  Let's get you into the bath!" and gives him a bath.  No comments about what a bad guy dad is for not bathing him, or how awful it is that he didn't have a bath.  Just "Hey, buddy!  Time for your bath!"  Lots of suds, some fun bathtub games, and mom is just as much fun today as dad was yesterday.  Who loses in this situation?  No one!  Who wins in this situation?  Everyone - both parents get to have fun time with the kid in their own ways. 

How about learning self-discipline and responsibility?  Does having a bath teach this?  Not last time I looked.  Picking up your room, maybe.  Being responsible for chores, probably.  But a bath?  No.  The person you are trying to teach discipline by enforcing the bath rule is the HUSBAND, not the child.  Enforcing with your husband that your way (the bath, right now!) is better than his way (a bath at some other time...let the kid be dirty for a while) only serves to reinforce one concept - you don't respect his point of view.  There is no hard evidence of any sort that suggests that a child who misses a bath one day is worse off...and the ommission of the bath does not add one iota of work for the mother - she would have given him a bath in any event on the following day.  The ONLY thing at issue here, in fact, is this concept of "he'll be the fun parent and I'll be the mean parent".  In that scenario, you are competing for your child's affection...very hard on the child as well as your marriage.  But the REASON you'll be the mean parent is because you are trying to force your will on your husband.  Let your husband be, and you can be ANY type of parent you want to be on your own time.  You can even choose to join your husband and your son in their fun and be a fun FAMILY!  (and leave those chores that are pressing on you, because the fun family part is inherently more important than cleaning dishes.  You might even find that the act of having fun as a family and the good will and connection it engenders would inspire to do thost dishes to help out.)

Then, lets talk about the chores.  You claim that the result of talking with the spouse about which chore he will do is that he gets to do a single good chore while you'll get left with a "completely unreasonable existence".  My actual experience is that just the opposite happens.  If you step away from your complete frustration with the chores situation in your household right now and think about it, it makes sense.  When you request that your partner do his fair share of the chores you are doing it because it is "fair" and you want a partnership.  Okay.  Those are good reasons.  But is it "fair" to demand that he do specific chores, perhaps those that he hates or isn't good at?  Is it a partnership if you don't ask his input about which he prefers to do?  Or, put another way, if you were in his shoes, would you like someone else to dictate what you will and won't do?  I doubt it.  I think it would make you mad and resistant to doing anything at all.  It's good partnership behavior to talk about what will get done.  And sometimes, even after you talk about it, absolutely NOTHING gets done, which I recognize because that's what happened in my house for years, and probably is what is happening in your house.  Which is why I finally changed my tactics and am suggesting that you should consider changing yours.  Let me tell you how that particular conversation went in our house:

Me:  George, I can't stand the fact that you aren't doing any chores around here any more.

G:  Well, I do some stuff.

M:  Not enough.  I get to do everything.  All of the crap.  All you are willing to do is stuff you like - and specifically computers and bikes.  That's not meaningful stuff for running a household.  I need help.

G:  (Silent...he hears a rant coming on.  This argument has happened a lot before)

M:  I'm going to try to explain WHY it's so important that you do some chores around here.  I'm exhausted, yes, and that's part of it.  But the more meaningful reason you must do something around the house is symbolic.  I know you can help out more, and your refusal to do so symbolizes to me that you don't care enough about me to help out.  You're very competent at work, with bikes, etc.  You just won't help out here.  I feel like your slave, which I hate.

G:  Come on!  You know I love you.

M:  You tell me that, but I'm telling you what your actions are communicating.  In this case, your actions are more important to me than your words.  I'm not asking you to take on a chore.  I've done that before to no avail.  I'm telling you that if you don't take on a chore for what it represents - as a way for you to tell me that you care about me -  I am going to continue to be unhappy and our marriage is going to continue to disintigrate.  It's literally that important to me.

G:  (Thinking) I guess bikes and computers don't count?

M:  No.  They help some, but I don't really care about them that much.  Look, I don't care what chore you pick, as long as it's meaningful to me.

G:  (Suspects a trap) What does that mean?

M:  It means something that relieves me of some of my burden...

G:  Well, I think doing a symbolic chore is sort of stupid, and I'm not looking for extra work.  But I am hearing just how unhappy this is making you and I don't want you to think I don't love you.  Is there something specific you had in mind?

M:  Since you ask, one of the chores I hate the most is doing the evening dishes.  I'm so tired in the evenings, and I"ve already been in the kitchen cooking for a while, so I want to escape and put my feet up.  I also hate unloading the dishwasher.

G:  Those are things I don't actually mind that much.  So I can do that - I'll do the evening dishes, and agree to unload the dishwasher when it's full and clean.  But I really hate putting the food away and wiping counters.  Can you do that?

M:  Yeah, I don't mind that part, just the dishes.  But I want you to understand.  I'm not talking about doing the dishes once in a while or after I ask you.  I want the dishes to be your job. I don't want to have anything to do with them.

G:  What happens if I cook dinner?

M:  Well, if you want to start cooking dinner, then I can do the dishes.  Or we can agree that whoever doesn't cook dinner gets to do the dishes.  As long as I don't have be to nagging you to do the stuff...because the reality is that I do 99% of the cooking around here.

G:  That sounds fair.

And so the agreement was reached.  Though he had agreed, it took several months to get the system down.  But his willingness to pick up a chore I hated was meaningful for me, and it gave me a nice break in the evening.  I enforced the agreement by simply never doing the dinner dishes, even if they got left to the morning.  Eventually, he slotted the right amount of time into his schedule and started to think of the job as "his", not something he had been given by me.  That ownership makes a huge psychological difference. 

Another benefit - sometimes I would just sit in the kitchen and talk with him while he did the dishes, which also served to help strengthen our connection.  Or I would go upstairs to read to the kids (and he would join after he was done with the dishes sometimes).

But here's the real advantage of how this worked out.  Before he took on the dishes he did NOTHING around the house except fix bikes and set up computers.  He saw the household chores as mine.  Then he added the dishes because I finally insisted that he pick up something and that's what he chose.  This made me happier, so he saw a benefit to him and us in doing so (and I made sure to reinforce his behavior by telling him how much I appreciated not being on my feet in the evening).  Once he "owned" a chore, they were no longer completely in my domain.  Today, even though I work out of the home (part time) and he works in an office full time, he also does these chores:

folding laundry (we all do this together as a family); cooking and food shopping sometimes; taking items to the recycle center (sometimes); gardening help (one day a year, usually in the spring to help me out with cleanup and planting which is the only help I ask for); he administers this website, which is VERY time takes time out of every day; makes the bed; picks up his laundry; runs errands; picks up kids and their friends on the weekends; drives our son to bassoon lesson every Sunday...and the list goes on.

In other words, he went from being a non-entity in the household (and causing me great frustration and pain for his lack of participation), to being a very meaningful contributor.  I still do more, but his help is gracious and timely and I'm grateful for it (and he expresses his gratitude for all the efforts I make, too, so this isn't a one-sided gratefulness).  He has picked up more chores because he had the positive experience with the dishes, discovered it wasn't that onerous after all, and saw how much it meant to me and what it did positively for our relationship.  This inspired him to look for other small ways he could help, each of which was reinforced by me.  I also learned the very important lesson NOT TO INTERFERE with how he chooses to do these chores.  He does the dishes his way (very scientific loading of the dishwasher - almost a game to see how much he can get in) and I NEVER INTERFERE.

You can choose to be adversaries and try to control the situation through force.  But the reality is that just because you try to force it doesn't mean it will happen.  I'm a very forceful personality, but I sure couldn't force George to do chores.  Or, you can figure out how to be partners.  My current existence, which is the direct result of following the advice I am giving, is far from "completely unreasonable".  What is completely unreasonable is living the other way.

Anyway, I hope that you will open your mind to the power of this approach.  It's not that I didn't insist, it's that I came from a different direction, and that can work.


Lili and chores

Melissa I read yet another reply that makes the non ADD spouse be the only grown up and I am frustrated. Its always up to the non ADD spouse to "change the direction" , "look at things from the ADD point of view" etc. I have a question: When does the ADDer have to respect MY point of view?? Or society's point of view?? Its always the nonAdder that needs to respect the ADDer's point of view according to you. And as far as the dirty kid? Maybe that's why there are so many spouses on here posting about the poor hygiene of their ADD spouses! Don't take a bath today...its fun to stay dirty...let all those other people deal with my stink! Nice attitude shaping here. In society WE BATHE!! And if it doesn't fit with the ADD spouse's plan of "not now" then too bad. Society dictates that we bathe. I don't think the non ADD spouse is out of line here at all. I personally don't equate lack of doing chores with lack of respect or love for me. That's your experience but not everyone's experience. I think more along the lines of partnership and pitching in. Some things have to be done NOW. Like many people have posted, certain things like bills need to be paid at a certain point. I don't agree with a lot of things in life but somethings just ARE because we live in a civilized world. Even the most challenged people in this world still have to do things just because they need to be done. Why are the rules different for a person with ADD?

Melissa, I can respect where

Melissa, I can respect where you're coming from perhaps. But in the conversation example above, you are actually NOT doing what you'd said earlier. In that conversation, George is NOT being allowed to pick and choose what chores he likes and leaving you the rest.  He asked you to suggest a chore you particularly disliked. George had been previously picking and choosing only chores he likes and that wasn't working for you.  Who LIKES washing dishes? Seriously?  Who LIKES cleaning a bathroom?  George once refused to do either, because he didn't like them.  You negotiated with George by insisting on fairness (a/k/a "your way").  George's "way" was working for him until you pushed this fairness bit on him. If  George was allowed to continue choosing only chores he liked, then you'd still be in the position of him working only on computers and bikes.  He doesn't LIKE any of the alternatives, just like you probably don't.

Your earlier suggestion of allowing the ADD partner to choose what they like and if or when they "like" to do it at all isn't what you're now suggesting in this post.  At least that's the way it seems to me.

I think perhaps a misunderstanding is occurring with the idea that you were once Lili or any of the other posters complaining about being dumped with all of the work.   You actually don't know that you were, indeed, "them".  Lili may not be anywhere NEAR as controlling as you are making yourself sound to have been.  For example, just speaking for myself, I'm not even sure what you could possibly mean about interfering with HOW he chooses to load a dishwasher.  I wouldn't even know how to go about interfering with that.  Did they get loaded and washed when it was run?  If yes, then to me, that means a chore was done.  Not all of us complaining about unjust labor burdens and work dumping HAVE specific ways in which we insist chores must be done.  I know I don't. Lili might not either.

I do not and cannot see an insistence on fairness and respect as an "imposition of will", as if the ADD-partner's participation in the partnership is one of their option alone and anything else is a burden "imposed" on them in some sort of power struggle.  The very idea that it IS a power struggle at all is to assume that absolute power is inherent to the ADD-partner. Any challenge to their privileged position is then deemed a "power struggle".

After all, don't we ALL live with impositions?  If it were up to me, I'd never clean another bathroom in my life.  That's not how life works. It is, indeed, "imposed" on me regardless of my husband's existence.

Or I could pick and choose what I "like" to do and live in a petri dish.



Got to agree with FabTemp

I totally agree with FabTemp here.  Life is all about doing things that one doesn't necessarily like but regardless, they need to get done.  I see the contradictions in your posts as well Melissa.  I also see the control issues that you say you had/have but remember not everyone is like that.  I personally don't care how a chore gets done, just that it gets done!  For example, I don't want to smell the garbage rotting away in the kitchen until it becomes the "now" part of "now and/or not now".  I have learned many compromises in this relationship.  All I want is the same.  I believe that many of us on here are just looking for someone who is contributing to the relationship  rather than doing things our way.  That dishwasher thing made me laugh.  Who cares how the dishes get loaded, just that they are clean and put away.  Period.  I think that many times your own experiences overshadow your objectivity when giving advice.  Take a step back and don't take our posts so personally and assume the situation is the same as yours.  Chances are they are not the same.



Choosing a Chore

I can see where you read inconsistency in what I've written.  It's in part because I'm not explaining myself as well as I would like.  My misery over the lopsided distribution of chores in the household became so accute that I knew that the resentment I was feeling over it would bring us down as a couple.  It was that acute because, to me (and I allow that perhaps others don't think of it this way) it symbolized that our relationship was not an even partnership and that was one of the things that, as I thought about it, was one of my boundaries.  To be happy in a relationship I need to feel on somewhat even footing with my partner (see my post on boundaries in favorites for more about the importance of boundaries).

Once I'd figured that out, I felt it's incumbent upon me to communicate that.  You can argue that I forced him to take on a chore and you would be part right - I did make it clear that this was critical...but I didn't pick the chore for him.  Remember I had been trying to force him to do chores for more than ten years before this conversation and he hadn't picked them up.  In this conversation I circled back from a different direction, making it clear that this was important not from a chore standpoint but from a personal value standpoint.  I was able to do this because my thinking and situation had evolved on it.  And since my feelings had changed (for the worse) he was now in a position of essentially having two choices - pick a chore of his choice, or let our marriage continue to disintegrate. These would have been his choices regardless of whether or not I told him about it because my feelings had so disintegrated at this point that I was unable to pull myself out of the resentment and anger I was feeling.  By telling him this was how I was feeling I was giving him the choice to do something about it other than remain in the status quo.

He could have said "do the laundry" and that would have been his chore.  But because he realized that he was about to take on a chore in order to show me he loved me, he did something even smarter than just pick a chore...he asked me what chore I would prefer he do.  He heard that this wasn't an "I'd like it if you do this"  He heard "I need this if we are going to have a healthy relationship" and held out an olive branch.

You are right.  No one loves chores.  But in this instance it just happens that something that he doesn't mind doing dovetailed with something I hate doing.  He would tell you now, in fact, that he likes doing the dishes just fine.  He likes it not because it's inherently fun, but because his willingness to do them continues to be meaningful to me and is reinforcing of our relationship each day. 

When I said "interferring with loading a dishwasher" I meant dictating anything about it.  In this case, examples might include suggesting he rinse the dishes before loading them, or asking him to do them right then vs. putting them off for doing later.  Another example might be chiding him for forgetting the stuff left on the stove or on the table.  And I don't mean these things are said meanly - sometimes they are offered up as suggestions.  All of them would have kept me involved in his chore, though, in role of supervisor.

Sometimes you get to a point in your life where you have to assert what you need.  This is a bit different from expressing what you want.  In the conversation with George, I was expressing a core need.  He recognized it - hence the reason that his response was different this time than it had been the 8 million times before.  You can call it controlling.  I call it standing up for myself and clearly expressing myself.  If I hadn't done it, then chances were very, very good that we would have not recovered from my issues with his lack of involvement.

By signing up to do the chore, George addressed my core need.  In fact, he addressed it well enough that my positive response encouraged him to go further.  Do I still get to do stuff I don't enjoy?  Yes (though I am lucky enough that I am able to farm out some of them.  We have a cleaning crew who does my toilets...and I have suggested to George that since I don't do toilets, if we wish to buy a mobile home some day to travel the country after we retire one part of that life change will be that he gets to clean the toilets.  So, in fact, you CAN refuse to do the toilets and not live in a petri dish.  Call me mean, but I have reasons which I won't go into in this public forum.)

You make a statement that "George's way was working for him until you pushed this fairness bit on him".  Actually, no, it wasn't working for him, he just didn't know it.  George didn't realize it but "his way" was bringing down our relationship because it was a bad fit with who I am as a person.  George's way was easy for him, but it wasn't working for him (unless you think of divorce as a goal he's interested in).  Once I figured that out, I owed it to him to make sure he understood the situation so he could decide if he wanted to address it or not.  He had no obligation to do so, but at least he now knew of the consequences of not addressing it, which he hadn't known about before.

And, just to be clear, you should read the conversation again more closely.  It's not about being FAIR, it's about being cared about as a partner.  Big difference.  (I have NO PATIENCE whatsoever with complaints about stuff not being fair.  Life isn't fair...!)

You are right to take me to task for suggesting that everyone chides their spouse about not doing things the "right" way.  I read examples of exactly that in posts to the forum, but to assume that everyone is that way is wrong.  I stand corrected.

I will, however, stand by the power-struggle idea.  The point is the ADD partner does not and should not have a priviledged position in the relationship. (in fact I would argue ADD spouses don't have a priviledged position - just the opposite).  He or she deserves empathy and understanding.  So does the non-ADD spouse.  Each person deserves to find happiness.  I don't use the words "power struggle" in the "I'm mean, and I want to control you" way.  I mean it in the "you (the ADD spouse) are forcing your will on me by abdicating your responsibility in our relationship and I don't like that" kind of struggle.  Abdication forces either misery in the partner being dumped on (and loss of self), acceptance of the situation or struggle (or some combination thereof).  Two of the three aren't great options, the viability of acceptance depends completely on the terms.


Maybe you can leave dishes sitting for days in Chicago, but in the south where I live, you'd be overrun with cockroaches. That's what my husband wants to do, and I just don't feel safe. We had to spray for cockroaches once, when i lived in a mobile home, and my cat died.

for Nerdmom920

So why wasn't your husband going to the sonogram appointment with you?  It's his baby too, just because you are doing all the "heavy lifting" doesn't mean he shouldn't be involved.

I empathize with everything you are saying. I find myself glad we were too old to have kids when we got married.