This is your standard "I'm new here, so glad I found you" typical post.
Married for 15 years with two elementary school aged kids. I've been dealing for years with inexplicable behavior, poor memory, hyper-focus on insignificant (to me) things, abysmal follow through on promises, lost items, impulsivity, chronic lateness. My husband is a highly intellectual and emotional person, highly creative (came from NYC acting scene), and talks a good talk...so I never really put all the pieces together until just a few weeks ago. In fact I'd be googling things like "husband doesn't do what he says he will do" just to prove I wasn't crazy, and the first thing that would come up is a link to a post in this very forum...and I'd read it but go "yeah, but he isn't ADHD..." and move on.
It was only a few weeks ago that I looked at that post, and this blog, and a few others and the light bulb went on. Wait a second. Yes, he is.
Wow. It explains almost everything. Like he has a very poor recall memory, going so far as to not remember key events in our own lives. I always have to fill in the blanks for him. Or re-explain procedures and why we're doing things a certain way. Or how he is absolutely convinced we never ever talked about a topic we talked about just last night. Or how he'll create whole scenarios out of a conversation because he only heard part of it. Or like how he will say he will do the dishes or go to the dump or clean a room and just, kind of, NOT do any of those things. (He'll thoroughly learn about the new topic he's hyper-focused on, though.) Or how, over the years, I've taken over all of the household duties(I do mean all-- I mow in the summer, I plow in the winter, I do all the laundry, cleaning, dishes, meal preparation, shopping, bills, taxes, car maintenance, going to the dump, kid schedule juggling--anything that involves either a regular schedule or a mundane but essential task)--in addition to holding down a full time job--because otherwise they would not get done. Or how we'll start a new project (for instance, we built a PYO fruit orchard) and then he'll lose interest, and I am the one who gets to do all the maintenance to keep up said project. Or how he is always, constantly, consistently late. Or how he would never, ever get into bed at the same time as me, even when we "scheduled" sex...making me wait...I'd get tired, fall asleep...turn off the light...I'd feel rejected, he'd get upset...which obviously has led to a loss of intimacy. I guess it's come to a head for me because we (or maybe just I) am trying to teach our kids about household responsibility, and they're both old enough so that they can do some of them (like folding laundry, or taking the dishes out of the dish washer), but he isn't participating in the reinforcement of these lessons, even though he genuinely agrees that they are very important. So I end up being the bad guy.
Since I just figured out that he may actually be ADHD, I haven't brought this possibility up to him yet, nor has he been diagnosed. But meanwhile, given that he exhibits many of the same behaviors, I have been trying out different tactics to try and get the household chore thing under control. I have resorted to notes, pointing out specific tasks that need to be done. This week, in particular, has been a glaringly obvious failure--because it is school vacation week and my husband has stayed at home with the kids for the duration. So there's no excuse at all for not doing, say, the laundry, because they're home all day.
At first, I was writing playful notes, like, (because we just watch Star Wars) one creative missive said "Remember, my young padawan learners, a Jedi must always fold laundry!" ..but I came home and no laundry had been folded. I asked "did you get my note?" and my husband smiled appreciately and said "Yes! It was hilarious!" and I said, "so...about the laundry?" and he said "What laundry?" and I said "....I said, in the note, to fold laundry?" and he said "Oh! I completely missed that part!"
Really? How could you miss that part? It was the whole point of the note. So we had a discussion about this and I thought were on the same page, and the next day the laundry got folded as per the note (which said something like "The way to a mom's heart is through laundry! Or coffee. Coffee works too.") and all seemed well, so the next day I wrote another note that tried to make a rhyme....with the one task of taking the clean dishes out of the dishwasher. I came home to find, not only that the dishwasher had not been emptied, but EVERY SINGLE DISH had been used during the day. When I confronted him about it, he said he "didn't understand the point of the note". He also claimed that he was "going to do the dishes when they got back," which we both knew wasn't true--it wasn't even on his radar. Then later I find out that one of my daughters never brushed her hair, which is a problem because it tangles easily, which I have several times discussed with both my husband and my kids--this is not a negotiable item of the day. It must happen or someone is going to get a haircut. (again, I end up being the bad guy)
I know he knows that this isn't working. I don't want to make him feel bad. But I really can't keep this up without help, even if I'm the one who ends up "coordinating" and prioritizing.
So today, putting humor and any enthusiasm aside, (no "good morning everyone!" or "What a nice day!" or anything that could be considered remotely distracting, or for that matter, any fun to read) I wrote down, in plain, boring, cold, simple English, all the "must do" tasks that should happen today(and, well, every day):
1. Get dressed
2. Brush teeth
3. Brush hair
4. If there are clean dishes in the dishwasher, put them away.
5. If you use a dish during the day, either wash it or put it in the dishwasher
6. If there is laundry in the dryer, fold it and put it away
7. If there is laundry in the washer, put it in the dryer.
8. Have a good day.
I have no doubt that this method will work. For today. But aside from the fact that I feel like I'm being condescending by telling a grown, functioning adult that brushing hair, washing dishes and folding laundry are not negotiable household chores, and how to do them, and that everyone must participate in them on a daily basis, I don't feel like I can "re-use" this note. And I feel like I'm going to have to somehow reinforce these basic tasks every day. And plus there are other ones that must happen....take out the trash, empty the compost bin...feed the cats...clean out the gerbil cage. Because there are kids involved, I need to come up with some kind of system that will work long term, will not take a great deal of repeated effort on my part, and NOT make my husband feel like I'm punishing him or treating him like a child (which is an accusation he has leveled at me on occasion).
I have a feeling that if I simply repeat the same thing over and over, he (and thus the kids) will lose interest and "not hear" what is on the note. Any ideas?
Submitted by Zapp10 on
As the non add spouse my best advice is YOU learn all about what you are doing that is or isn't working. You need to fully understand how Add manifests itself and the behaviors associated with it.....because whether or not your spouse believes/ denies he has it.....you can only do the BEST you can by educating yourself about it.
Most spouses here are dealing with the denial of it. Having a "happy life or marriage" with an in denial spouse is pretty much a dead end. On the flip side, when the ADD spouse actually believes they have this and they embrace all the help there is for it you both have every chance of success.
You articulated well your situation and your expectations. I so identify with both. ADD is absolutely doable..... TOGETHER. This site has very pertinent information for both sides. Read up on how the ADD brain processes( or doesn't) what we(the nons) do so easily. If your spouse believes " it isn't a big deal" or "not that bad"...fasten your seat belt. How long do you want to continue what you are doing? Because if he goes to denial......you can not save a marriage alone.....it takes two...in agreement.
The biggest issue for most of us here is not ADD.......it is denial.
I wish you the very best and please let us know how it goes for you.
P.S. His getting a proper diagnosis is necessary by qualified people. ADD is not a joke....especially to those who have it and those who live with it.
Submitted by c ur self on
Just wanted to say based on the symptoms you've listed, and the things you are experiencing, it sounds like attention disorder...Also, many of the adhd people I know are highly creative...
Just my suggestions here...Guard your emotions as you work through this....Try to see it for what it is, and do your best to not allow yourself to build emotional attachment to forcing change...If you are able to work through it sanely and calmly, and create some awareness and some positive change...Great!...Remind yourself to keep yourself fit (the person you can do something about) so you can be the loving Mother and Wife you desire to be...
Try to not become a victim at his hands, (his way of living life) thus diminishing your ability to be thankful and limiting your impact in your families lives...Do not let his life become your focus and your identify...It's so easy to do....
What can you do? Try to see the reality of the situation....You may be forced to make your world a little smaller...You may need to initiate changes like boundaries...The worse things you and I and anyone else can do is to enable them...When you enable an adult, you will always treat them like a child...You will set faulty or unrealistic expectations for them based on how you can handle life issues....It is destructive and emotionally draining on both parties as you already know.......So...Live and Let Live....
In my experience adhd minds are notorious for wanting to be involved in lots of things, like wanting pets, starting tasks, then dumping the responsibilities....If you ever help it's your's!
When my wife's last Pet passed away last year, I refused to have another pet...Do not get sucked into things that will always be more work and more expense for you...Be wise!...In many area's of life you will stay offended, if you think he is capable of thinking like you think....
Everything you said and listed...the sex..the waiting and waiting....the chores not done, the messiness, the forgetfulness...I live it also...And why?? Because there is very limited ability to do differently for their minds....We can get mad, angry and bitter if we want to...But all it will do is destroy our own life and anything we have that favors a healthy marriage relationship....Innocent children suffer...There is no winners in not accepting an adhd person's limitations...One legged men don't run in races w/ two legged men...But that doesn't decrease the value and importance of the man w/ one leg...
(I'm being condescending by telling a grown, functioning adult) This comment of your's I've copied....Remember this....Your idea and reality of what it means to *Function*, will never cross over to him...He is grown in body, but his capabilities to function the same as you, his memory and his ability to place importance on the mundane of daily life will never come close to yours....That is what we must accept, or the unrealistic expectations of judging or seeking for them to think or value things as we do will only destroy the marriage....