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?