How to change?

I am pushing my non add wife to her edge.  She has given me something of an ultimatum, change or else, soon.  I want to change, I want to show her how much I love her.  But I fail.  I forget arguments and relive them.  I make promises and later don't even realize I made them.  She sees me make the same mistakes over and takes it as proof of uncaring and unloving behavior.  

I have tried many ADD meds.  I have learned that anything XR burns me out, I get a boost at first.  But then I get more headaches, and eventually just burnt out.  Non-stimulants don't work very well for me.  I also have found several conditions this year that could be the source of or contribute to ADD.  Very low testosterone.  An ulcer making me anemic.  Moderate sleep apnea.  Depression, which I thought was just from being unemployed, but I have a history of it in my family, as well as substance abuse that I have never had, but it has made me believe I need to take some antidepressants just to make sure I do not slide into a hole.  I am having hormone replacement treatments, iron supplements, I have 10mg IR adderall as needed.  I drink a lot of coffee during the day, and if I can remember too I take a half or a whole adderall before going home.  I need to be good at home...

My wife says I never look like I am happy.  Other than the problems with her I feel like I am in one of the best places I have ever been.  I have a new job that I really like, I have never been able to say that before.  I have a 6 year old daughter that I can't imagine being any more awesome.  At first I denied that I was acting unhappy.  But a therapists put a mirror up to my face and I could see it, not sure what is wrong with me.  I want to change, want to make my wife feel special, want to notice what is going on, make her feel supported.  I make my phone remind me, but after I get used to it going off I start pushing it to the back of my mind, I expect it so it doesn't get attention.  I get foggy, and I think my wife interprets that as unhappy and mopey.  I tried talking to her about how ADD can make it seem like I am not trying but I really am, she gets angry and says I can't use ADD as an excuse and hide behind it.  I do not think my wife can really acknowledge that she has any part in how things are, I am not sure she deserves any credit anyway.  

I decided I was going to focus only on my own issues.  I can't control my wife, but I can control my own behavior.  But I am not so sure now.  I try, I make reminders, I kick myself, but I still forget.  I still fail.  I think I am making progress, but my wife can not see it.  I am not sure if I really am.  My wife even says on paper we should be ridiculously happy.  We both now have great jobs.  A great family.  Our futures seem so bright and positive.  Except she feels so lonely.  She can't take it anymore.  I do not know what to do.  I told myself I was going to journal and be reflective, but tomorrow turns into the day after that then never.  I feel like I do not have enough time, never enough.  

How can I make myself change?  How do I stop accidentally being a hurtful jerk to the woman I love?  Just knowing should be enough, but then I forget, do it again.  Then cringe as my wife yells in anger and frustration.  I deserve it, but I should be better, I should be able to control my own actions, my own mind...


from a non spouse


Since learning about ADD, I've discovered I have two categories of feelings about my guy's ADD-induced behaviors.  First is anger and resentment about the unequal distribution of "adult" chores:  housework, money, even requirements of his job that he wants me to deal with.  (!).  The other  is the loneliness, lowered self-esteem, and hurt in our relationship as partners in life, lovers, a "couple".  But as I've studied and tried to modify my own reactions, I realize that the ADD behaviors don't bother me as much as how he responds when those behaviors pop up.  I do my damnedest to ask for his help, or to try to get him to take care of his own stuff, in a respectful, kind way.  I do my best to ask for time with him, for him not to interrupt constantly, or to not leave the room while I'm talking without anger or blaming.  But he always gets defensive and denies the behavior, tries to make the behavior my fault, or tries to make me feel I am not right in asking for different.  For many years, these deny, deflect or distort responses made me seriously think I was crazy.  Seriously.  Crazy.  (Fortunately, his coping mechanisms don't include shouting, name calling, substance abuse, etc.)  I feel like if he could learn to own his behavior, even just saying sorry, I didn't choose to do that, we could deal with it all together, much better.  But so long as these behaviors aren't really happening, in his opinion, they will never be modified.  I do believe there is a way to acknowledge ADD induced behaviors without it destroying your own happiness and self-esteem.  I encourage you to examine how you respond to her pleas for understanding of how ADD affects her.  If she's angry all the time, that may not be possible.  I am usually very compassionate about how ADD hurts my husband and do my best to point out his successes when he's only feeling the fails.  I need something back, though.  Soon.    Best wishes.

I agree, gardener.  This goes

I agree, gardener.  This goes on in my relationship, too.  For example, I've asked my husband to help more around the house. He says he will.  He does, for a week.  Then he stops or much reduces his contributions.  Then, when I complain, he starts talking about communication and says that he can't tell me how he really feels.  And I'm thinking, really, I thought we were talking about vacuuming, not about feelings....

Household chores aren't

Household chores aren't really a problem, I do most of them, I pay the bills, vacuum, yard work, dishes, shopping and cooking.  I do not have things running like clockwork, sometimes dishes stay dirty of a week, but usually only three or four days.  And the yard gets attention when the grass starts shooting up seedpods.  She tolerates mess more than most I believe, thankfully that is not an issue we have.  

One reoccurring problems seems to be when she calls me out of the blue, and I am only half listening, my mind on what I was doing, or everything around me.  I respond in flat monotone voice, she picks up that I am not really paying attention, and interprets that as my not caring.  Then I get defensive, insisting that I do care, but I don't get angry, she just hears the monotone.  It infuriates her, and I can see why.  

What I really need is a way to be proactive, not reactive.  I need to stop my normal behavior before she is hurt.  What happens is I start off being oblivious, then as she gets upset I start to focus, I have basically trained her to get angry, because it stimulates me, in a negative way, but it causes me to focus on her, pay attention.  I am basically using operant conditioning to make my wife act out her anger more, when I need her to do it less.  

I wake up the morning after a fight and can't remember most of the details, then as my day goes on I am focused on a task and it completely leaves my mind.  Then I end up letting her down again when she realizes I don't remember the promise I made a few days before.  


Thanks for your clarification.  This caught my attention:  One reoccurring problems seems to be when she calls me out of the blue, and I am only half listening, my mind on what I was doing, or everything around me.  I respond in flat monotone voice, she picks up that I am not really paying attention,.

My guy and I made a rule (which he can comply with about 75% of the time)  If I call and he can't "talk" (i.e. attentively, without bothering those around him, or rushing me) then he IS NOT ALLOWED to answer. 

What if you didn't answer her call?  What if you saw she was calling, stopped what you were doing, made the transition to refocus, then called her right back?  And didn't explain why you didn't / couldn't answer right away?  Would that help?

I've found that if my guy is focused on something (i.e., doing anything at all :)  ) and I want him to really listen the first time, I have to say his name, touch his arm, wait, maybe say his name again, and I can literally watch as he disengages and turns his attention to me.  Sometimes he tries to cheat and multi-task but I don't fall for it.  :)  Best wishes.

Thank you for the advice

Thank you for the advice gardener.  I will try that next time if I can remember. Pulling myself out of whatever I am doing before answering. I don't think the way our relationship is right now I can ask for things like touch me and wait until I make eye contact and respond.  She seems to think of that as "mothering" me.  She thinks ADD is just my latest excuse to treat her badly. I understand how she could feel that way given my behavior.