Hopefully, someone can help me with all of this. Background: My husband has ADHD - not medicated, but diagnosed many, many moons ago. He comes from a very unemotional, judgmental family who feels everything he does is not good enough (yes, everything). I have schizoaffective bipolar type - not medicated until/unless I have bad episodes. (and yes, we make a lovely pair) I come from a melodramatic family and I can't even think where to go from there because my family is utter chaos.
My biggest problem with my husband is finding something that even somewhat resembles reality between our versions of what has happened. I'm at my wits' end! Here comes the really long part (I warned you)! (and I'll try to keep as much detail out as possible - otherwise this would be longer than the dictionary)
The way I see our lives together is this: My husband goes to work every day (apart from his days off, vacation, and only when he is VERY ill). He does a fantastic job there and works hard. I give him full credit on his abilities and dedication at work. Once he's home, he does very little. He usually sits on his computer (or engages in his other favorite activities) from the time he comes home from work until I decide to go to bed - then I have to wait for him to get ready for bed so he can go with me. He does the occasional thing to help out... takes the trash to the curb, holds the baby while I fix dinner, mows the lawn, plays a game with out son, etc. The only task he does regularly is taking the trash to the curb (which often ends up being only half the trash that needs to go). When he is interrupted while doing his "hobbies", he becomes irritated and sometimes even angry. When he gets frustrated with his hobbies, he tends to be quite verbal about his anger and it can often last the rest of the day - making the rest of us feeling like we have to walk on eggshells to avoid him yelling at us. I have talked to him about this anger for years. He would get even angrier, deny he was being mean/yelling/etc. Last week, I finally got through to him on one occasion, but I have strong doubts that will be a lasting thing for him. Over the years, I have gotten very upset over his lack of help around the house and with the kids. I ask him to hold the baby - he'll hold her, but he sits at his computer holding her - not paying attention to her except when she tries to grab at things. Otherwise, he ignores her until she's screaming. I ask him to talk to our teenager. When he does, he usually ends up making her feel insignificant because he sees her teenage problems as silly and annoying. I ask him to spend time with our 7 year old and it becomes a battle of how the 7 year old isn't doing anything right and my husband gives up rather than helps. Because of these problems, the two older kids always come to me first for help, guidance, or just fun. All that demand leaves me overwhelmed and exhausted - which, unfortunately, leads to my mental health declining. I have tried getting my kids to ask their father for help, but when things make them upset or things don't work out well, they come right back to me. So, I end up caring for 3 kids baby to teenager, basically by myself, every evening and all day on weekends - along with everything else that goes along with running a home/family/life. With all of this going on, my husband doesn't talk with me, spend time with me, etc. He sometimes talks *to* me about his hobbies, his hard day at work - where, ironically, no one will help him out, no one appreciates the things he does, no one believes what he has to say, and no one does what they're told. It's hard to patiently listen to him rage on about these things because I can't remember the last time he asked how my day was, what I've been doing with my time, or acknowledge my efforts within the family.
Now, his take on things (I will do my best to accurately portray what he has told me - though the things he says change often): I'm a stay-at-home mom. He knows I work, he just doesn't see what I've done when he comes home and can often be frustrated that one thing or another hasn't been done. He says he's not doing his "hobbies" the whole evening and that he does them to unwind from work. When asked, then, how long he partakes in his hobbies every evening, he admits that it is from the time he comes home to the time he goes to bed - but still seems to feel that is an appropriate amount of time to need for unwinding. He says he helps a lot with the house and kids - and reverses that and says he's a terrible husband/father because he doesn't help out nearly enough - that he often doesn't even do basic things to help. Most of the time that the kids or I feel like he's yelling, he swears he is not and that we're just wrong. He says that it's not yelling unless he's fully "angry" - that he doesn't yell when he's frustrated, irritated, annoyed, etc. (he has a thing for semantics) But he honestly seems to believe that when he raises his voice and it sounds angry that it's not yelling unless he is raging mad. When I have told him I want more help around the house and with the kids, he tells me that I need to ask him or nag him or offer him a sweet reminder or demand that he do it (none of those are in my nature but I've tried). Each time I try one of those ways, he gets upset (or he'd probably say "annoyed") and tells me a different way to approach the situation - example, if I ask for him to do something, he says, "don't ask me to do it, tell me to do it" or "well, if you would've just asked me to..." or "reminding me only once to do it isn't going to help me remember" or, after 2-3 reminders, "stop nagging me. I already told you I'd do it". He believes that the kids avoid help from him because I've trained them to feel about him the way I do (I don't agree). And he doesn't believe that the kids ever avoid him because he appears to be angry from one of his "hobbies" - or that he even appears angry to be angry (despite the rampant swearing, yelling, etc.)
This has all come to a head because my counselor decided to work with both of us - since a large part of the stress I have is from my home situation. We discussed these problems with my counselor. My husband gave, what I like to call, the sugar-coated version - No, he doesn't help as much as he probably should, but he helps a lot more than I claim. He rarely yells, even though I say he's yelling most of the time. He helps the kids with whatever they need help with (except for my teenager's schoolwork because it's "too hard" for him to help her). He's perfectly willing to help with whatever I need help with, I just need to tell him to do it. He's upset because I won't give up control of the house and the kids to him - and then said it was about me not trusting him. He wants to do more, I just take away any opportunity he has to help. And that, of course he spends a lot of time on his hobbies, he doesn't want to sit around on the couch waiting for kids to need help or for things to need getting handled around the house. He does admit that I don't sit around on the couch waiting for things to happen, but he's convinced that if he were to abort his hobbies for the sake of helping me, that he would just sit around.
My counselor then tells me that I am causing all of these problems. It is my fault my husband is not helping more. She is convinced that he is right, I'm just being stubborn in relinquishing any power to him. I need to tell him what he needs to do more (wouldn't that be me controlling things even more?). I need to step back and let him handle things when they happen (I know that at least some of you knows what happens when you sit back and wait for an ADHD person to notice something and handle it!) I need to let my husband get angry and be in a mood the rest of the day ("who does that really hurt? Who cares if he gets angry" "Umm, the kids and I care because we feel the brunt of his anger").
Now, I know no one can tell me what the reality of the situation is... no one here has seen any of this first hand. BUT... since I am the "crazy" one, I need to understand what's going on. Is it possible that all of this is in my head? Or could all of the behavior I've mentioned really be possible from my ADHD husband? Is my counselor taking his version of reality prematurely since he has ADHD? Or is it more likely that my version of reality is askew? I am honestly starting to feel unheard in this whole thing. I feel as though people look at us and think "well, ADHD isn't as bad as schizoaffective, so the ADHD person must have a better grip on life and what's really going on." I can kind of understand that viewpoint - if I was constantly in a psychotic state, but I'm not. That's why I'm not on medication - I can handle my symptoms very well (and, yes, I have been told this by multiple professionals). I know my husband uses the excuse that schizoaffective is more likely to not be in touch with reality than ADHD so that he can win arguments. And I think he tries to use it with other people when they doubt him and believe me. ACK! I can't even remember where I'm going with this because I've gotten so worked up about it all. Can anyone offer any guidance, opinions, advice?!?