How do you change the way you think ?

I've posted before 'how do you let go of anger?'  so here is another question, how do you change the way you think or feel about things.    Sometimes he does things for 'me', and I don't appreciate them because really what he does I don't feel is for ME at all but for him.  I am aware that i don't appreciate the things he does lately.  So say for my B'day, which he actually remebered this year he bought me something that HE thought would be cool, yet i told him previously I did not want one.  One year he bought me a 'tool' for my B'day, are you kidding ? Sometimes he will make me a drink, and say here i made you this drink....I don't drink, what he really means is "I felt like a drink so I'm handing you one", he knows I don't drink..I can't drink i am very sensitive to alcohol...if i have a drink i would be passed out cold.  there are many many examples, of things he does for ME, yet really he didn't have ME in mind at all.  I don't like not appreciating his 'effort' but after 20 years how do you not know me ?

Together for 6 yrs and only

Together for 6 yrs and only married for 3, but I have the same experiences. We had a major bad convo about 3 weeks ago and he dropped the ILYB bomb.  We're supposedly working on it...though that ball is in his court.  Anyway, I got mad about the same things and the frustration is legitimate.  Now that our marriage is hanging on by a thread, I can say that when he has done that in the last 3 weeks I look at it w/ different eyes.  After an ILYB bomb, when he brings me a pop or cookies b/c HE wanted a pop or cookies, I look past the bad gift and focus on the fact he was thinking of me and trying to do something for me however misguided.

ILYB?

Okay, I thought I knew most of the acronyms, but what is ILYB?

OH ! thanks I could not

OH ! thanks I could not figure that one out either.   yeah, i think both my H and I are feeling that...

This isn't just ADHD

This reminds me of my parents' relationship - and neither one of them had ADHD.  After years and years of receiving appliances for gifts my mother announced that if my father bought her another kitchen appliance or vacuum cleaner for her birthday she would clock him with it!  (He likes food and a clean house...)  She then went on to tell him that she wanted to have the pleasure of shopping together for her gifts.  A good amount of jewelry followed that agreement, some of which I inherited. She benefited by giving him the benefit of the doubt - he loved her but wasn't able to read what she wanted accurately is what she assumed, and so "invited him" to join her on an adventure of finding gifts.  Perhaps you could do this, too?

LOL.  I Like your moms

LOL.  I Like your moms comment.. its not just about gifts however, i suppose for xmas i could say i would like XYZ and see if it helps. however I have said previously, you know ALL i really want is for you to have the kids make me a B'day card, yet he doesn't do that, or I would say All i want is the house to be cleaned and I didn't have to do it. Maybe he thinks those aren't real gifts...after years of getting jewelry for b'days and never wearing any of it I told him NOT to buy me anymore..i'm not one of those women that cares for jewelry, odd i know...  My issue is two fold, i feel he doesn't really think of me as in who I am when he does things, and second that I'm at a place that when he does do something for me I can't seem to appreciate it.    i have been doing some soul searching the past couple weeks, trying to be the person i once was, not this angry, resentful, worn out, person i feel i have become. So I am trying to 1) get over being angry and let go of the past hurts, and there have been ALOT of them, i am struggling with that,  and 2) trying to not be annoyed with everything he does, and appreciate when he does 'try' and small as it may be to appreciate the effort.   Its hard when he still continues to do the self-centered things he has always done and not be responsible for him, and all the other things I am supposed to do.  One thing this site has done for me is realize I cannot make him change, I am just trying to change me and be who i was again.

I did feel a little better about myself last night - was reading Learned Optimism, because I feel I have become very pessimistic, yet the 'test' in the book says I was Moderately Optimistic, so I realized I am only specifically pessimistic - about marriage - not pessimistic in general.  So that made me feel better that in my core I am still there somewhere, i just feel awful most of the time because marriage is such a big part.

At least as far as 'gifts' go I may start giving him a list of possible things I would appreciate. thanks

Thanks alos i have no idea what ILYB was either.

Pbartender's picture

Happy Birthday??

Heh...  As I mentioned in another thread, a couple weeks ago, my wife made a big stink about our budget when I asked her if she wanted to go see a movie.  It was an early bird matinee for $3 a ticket, and for which I'd already set some spare money aside.

Sunday was my birthday.  Over the weekend, she spent $150 on a membership to the local zoo so she could take the kids to the zoo and give me a "day off for myself" -- had she asked, I'd have rather gotten out of the house and gone along to the zoo, instead of staying home and doing chores and cleaning alone.

For my birthday presents, she spent another $40 to take us all out for a movie (one that I wasn't terribly interested in, but she really wanted to see) and popcorn, and $25 for a Blu-Ray of another movie that I guess I liked when I saw it but didn't really need or want on disk. 

She asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner...  I had nothing particular in mind, but if it meant that I didn't have to cook that'd be great (I'd cooked dinner every night last week, while she took naps after getting home from work).  She grouched that I always cooked on Sunday nights for our friends who show up for our weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, and so I ended up cooking my own birthday dinner anyway.

She asked whether I'd like a cake, cupcakes, cookies or Rice Crispy treats for my birthday...  After a moment's thought, I told her cupcakes sounded nice, since we hadn't had them in a long time.  She made Rice Crispy treats.

So, yeah...  It's not an ADHD thing.  My wife doesn't have a very good track record picking out gifts for me that'd I'd enjoy, she doesn't much ask what I really want, and when she does ask, she doesn't get me what I ask for anyway.

 

Pb.

Now that is funny...that

Now that is funny...that sounds like US only in reverse.  I guess i assumed it was an ADHD thing because he does so many other things that i feel are self-centered. For mothers day he said he would go grocery shopping for me, well that afternoon when i said what time are you going he said Why don't you go, you like grocery shopping anyway. WHAT ???  No he just didn't feel like going he wanted to work on his hobby.

Pbartender's picture

My Bizarro ADHD Marriage...

I was thinking about starting starting a new thread on the subject...  Having read so many stories about other ADHD spouses and their habits, it sometimes feels like my wife and I are in a bit of a role reversal.

 

Pb.

OH, and might I say WOW about

OH, and might I say WOW about all that you said you did above, cook dinner every night ? Clean, do chores..on your B'day, are you kidding ?? (I know you aren't) You are really kicking ADHD ass !!  AWESOME.  I cannot recall the last time my H made dinner...and if i happen not to make dinner and its help yourself left over night sometimes he wont bother eating...i know he is hungry, but I guess warming something up, or maybe just deciding what to take out of the fridge is too much work.

I recall your post about the $3 movie, and we know it wasn't really about the $$ even though thats what she said.

last year for my H's B'day I thought long about what would he really like I didn't feel like getting some power tool I wanted something significant, he had started meds and was doing really good, i let the Wall down and was feeling we were making great progress. So i bought him a very expensive five figure gift, and it wasn't about the money, i did research, planning, months of planning, and got his this wonderful gift that he LOVES and uses daily. ... a month later he stopped the meds, was ripping my head off almost daily....I got a cookbook for my B'day, which normally would have been fine, I love to cook (hate to clean up after), but I already HAD this same cookbook, HE bought it for me before.   Where was the thoughtful guy that swooned me when we were dating ?

Pbartender's picture

Flattery will get you whatever you like...

"You are really kicking ADHD ass !!  AWESOME."

Thanks.  But you flatter me.

It's not something that seems especially out of the ordinary for me, though.  Even before I was diagnosed, I did much of the cooking and cleaning, plus the yard work, home improvements, car maintenance, bill paying, making sure the kids keep up with school work, and so on...

My wife helps, but she works an early morning shift at a rather labor-intensive job, so she spends most evenings either asleep in front of the television, dazed out with a book, or zoned in on a computer game.

Now that I'm treating the ADHD, it just takes less...  effort?...  to get through it all.

But like a lot of you non-ADHDers say...  if I didn't do it, it very often wouldn't get done.

 

Pb.

Flattery will get you what you want ....

Hmmm, now there is something i haven't tried.....maybe thats the ticket.

Darling I just LOVE how you did the dishes tonight, you are the MAN !! 

Honey you put your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor, WAY TO GO !  

Sugar Pie, You remembered to take your meds and you have been nice all day - MY STUD !!!

You have had your phone for 6 months and haven't lost it. KUDOS!!

You did your own laundry, AMAZING !!

Maybe thats what I need to do... I'll have to try and 'catch' my H doing something good - same logic i use with my kids...hmmm it works with them.

The things you DO, are many of the things we non-ADHD people complain that our spouses don't do.... I would LOVE if my H did all that.... there seems to be no rhyme, reason, or norm with all this is there ?

Pbartender's picture

Motivation...

"Maybe thats what I need to do... I'll have to try and 'catch' my H doing something good - same logic i use with my kids...hmmm it works with them."

And dogs, too...  Hey, it'd be worth a try.  He's an adult and should be able to do it on his own, but a little encouragement over small successes to begin with might be enough to kick start his self-confidence into higher gear.

"The things you DO, are many of the things we non-ADHD people complain that our spouses don't do.... I would LOVE if my H did all that.... there seems to be no rhyme, reason, or norm with all this is there ?"

For me, it's all about motivation.  I don't do all those things for entirely altruistic reasons...

Cooking, for example, is something of a hobby for me.  I enjoy it, I'm good at it, it helps me de-stress and relax at the end of a day, it let me be creative in a way, it gives me an active outlet for excess hyperactive energy, and gives me pride and confidence in myself to be able to create something that other people can enjoy. 

The yard work is much the same -- re-landscaping our front yard into a native Illinois prairie flower garden is my current "Big, Slow, Expensive Project" --  but is a bit more physical and it gets me outdoors (I hate being stuck inside for too long), which is another big stress reliever and energy burner for me.

Cleaning falls under the category of "eliminating distractions".  I find it hard to concentrate on something or to relax, when things are messy cluttered or dirty.  It's partly a mild OCD thing, and partly a over-sensitive sensory thing.  The mess and clutter will bother me and distract me until it's taken care of.  If there's something I really want to get done -- even if it's just sitting on the couch and watching a movie -- I have to make sure things are at least nominally tidied up, before I do it, otherwise I won't be able to fully focus.

Much of the rest of it gets done, because of thoughts of "crisis consequences" -- either previously experienced, or imagined -- in the back of my mind.  I will quite literally lose sleep over unpaid bills, or accumulating debts, or house/car maintenance/repairs that need to be done and haven't yet.  My over-active ADHD mind fixates on it, and continuously runs through all the things that could go wrong, until I can at least figure out a plan for solving the problem.

I don't how much that can help you with your husband...  A lot of this is tricks and techniques that I inadvertently developed for turning my hyperactivity and hyperfocus toward accomplishing something useful, long before I was diagnosed.  Now that I'm diagnosed, taking meds and seeing a coach, I'm refining the techniques and I'm getting even better at it, and finding it less...  disgruntling...  to do the "necessary" tasks.

But I guess that's what it boils down to...  When I start feeling ADHD antsy, I find a useful productive task to hyperfocus it on, instead of just burning it away on some useless time-waster.

 

Pb.

Dogs..

If only humans were as easy to train as dogs....I have thought that many times.  Wish humans were more like dogs, always happy to see you when you walk in the door, willing to do anything for a cookie or a scratch behind the ear, unconditional loyalty and love, they try so hard to please, never get angry at you....  I have trained many a dog in a few short weeks, yet kids/husband...can't seem to find the right motivation

Not just gifts

It wasn't just about gifts for my mom, either, but I just chose that example as one thing.  The things that you are listing that you would like to receive all have to do with your partner's ADHD.  It sounds to me as if it is possible that he is "self-oriented" or "internally" oriented - I use this to differentiate this state of being turned inward from the mean kind of self-centered.  He can learn to be less inwardly focused, but he would have to treat the ADHD well to do so.  Sometimes when I encounter this type of inward-looking person I try to put myself in that person's shoes...what would it feel like to be constantly trying to keep a disorganized mind organized and functioning?  How much would I need to focus on just that alone?

It is also possible that your partner has short-term memory issues that you are misinterpreting as carelessness and lack of interest in you.  Have you ever talked with him about this?  If not, ask him - not in an aggressive way, but in a nice way - do you have trouble remembering the requests I ask of you?  You may find that this is the case.

The "doesn't remember who I am when he does things" sounds an awful lot like a bad case of "living in the present."  Again, this might mean some memory issues.  He's not planning ahead for what he buys you, he just does something spur of the moment...and since he's inwardly focused, (and possibly impulsive???) that's where he goes to dig up ideas.

His behavior still hurts a lot, to be sure.  But if you can find some compassion, that might help.  Right now he's firmly in a "lose/lose" situtation.  If he does things spur of the moment you are mad about how he doesn't know you.  If he does get it right, you're resentful that he doesn't get it right the other times, and have trouble accepting the gift or gesture.  If he's not there yet, pretty soon he'll be asking himself "why bother trying?"  Which will, of course, lead to more gestures, gifts etc that have little bearing on who you are.  A negative but reinforcing downward spiral.

Sigh.

you are correct.

Yes, that is it in a nut shell. I do know he has short term memory issues, we get in arguments about that often. I can tell him something very important on Monday and Tuesday he has no recollection of the conversation. He gets mad thinking I never told him this important thing and I get irritated because I feel he doesn't listen to me. When I say I told you this yesterday he will scream I don't remember. However if I assume he may not have remembered a conversation and I remind him before he says I forgot he gets mad at me, 'I know you told me yesterday', did he Really remember or did my reminder trigger the memory ? Every morning he can't remember where he put his phone or car keys or shoes, I'm sure its frustrating for him yet when given 'tools' to help keep organized he doesn't use them.  I feel like we are both in a lose/lose situtation, he can't remember and i get yelled at if i don't remind him or if I do.

Yes also, he is very inwardly focused - a nicer way to put it than self-centered, which is how I have viewed his actions or lack of them. He MAY not be doing it on purpose but his always thinking of himself first hurts not just me but our kids. he didn't go to one single baseball & basket ball game of my sons because he wanted to work on a hobby/obsession of his instead, when asked to go he gives a big sigh like its a huge imposition and then still doesn't go. This hurt our son alot.  When I was in the hospital for 5 days he visited me once, when he in turn had open heart surgery I was there every single day at 7am and stayed until late evening, he was horribly depressed when i left so I stayed for him.

I am sure this is very hard for him and I should have compassion for his struggles, yet at the same time I am finding it very difficult because he was diagnosed 8 years ago, the first 5 he decided 'i have lived my whole life like this and have managed just fine I don't need meds'....the past 3 years I threatened get medical help or we are over, so he finally did yet he takes his meds only 50% of the time and he doesn't work on changing any of his bad habits either. the only time he religously takes meds is when we have one of those similar conversations, he stays on track for a month and then just stops again. Even while taking meds and being more focused and less angry he still does the same habits, ignoring everyone in the family, spending 10 hours in the garage working on a project.

I think his Dr. is at a loss too, he asks my H, do your meds help, my H replies yes, so Dr says Then Take your F'n pills.  this is only after he has given him numerous ideas of how to remember to take the meds and my H saying he doesn't remember, this has been going on for 1.5 years. I think he is still in denial that his behavior effects us as much as it does. yet we have less arguments, there is less stress all around and he is in a better mood when he takes them, yet he doesn't seem to put 2 and 2 together...even when i say as nicely as I can you are only yelling at me because you forgot your meds...OH that just makes him mad and he says No its not!      So I have basically given up...he is in his 50's and does not want to change.

So hence the start of my topic, your book (which I have read 3 times) and this site has helped me realize I CANNOT make him change or do something he doesn't want to, I am resentful and angry, BUT I want to stop and change this behavior of mine. If he doesn't want to actively be a part of the family I'm not going to let it stop me from being the best I can for my children. I gave up every hobby and interest I had because I simply have been a single mom for 15 years, no more, I need to find my joy again besides my children.  I have been less angry lately, but when he does something, mean, stupid or thoughtless....yes I know its the ADHD getting in the way, BUT it still FEELS mean, stupid and thoughtless, because he is unwilling to manage the ADHD, all that old resentment and anger comes spilling out.

I'm struggling with not being angry and resentful, without being completely apathetic at the same time.. If I care then it hurts, if I don't care there is nothing to hurt about. how do you find the balance of caring yet not letting the ADHD symptoms crush you ?  Your book was very helpful to see my part, but you had success with a man who was willing to put in the effort on his part. There is my road block. I would love to show my H this site so he can see its not just me, but he gets angry when he assumes I talk about him...he assumes i discuss all this with friends but I don't, this is my only safe outlet.  I guess i need to remind myself daily - He isn't doing this on purpose - even if he isn't actively trying Not to do it either. I need to try and focus on the times he is present and not the bad.  I do think i've been in a place for a long time where I was more focused on all the things that drive me nuts, and don't give a minute of thought to the good.  Maybe just realizing all this the past couple weeks is MY first step.

Have you run into people with ADHD that JUST WONT accept it or their part in it ? Have the non-ADHD partners just been able to look past it all, without it ending in separation? My H is a good man, he has some very bad habits and behaviors that just get in the way of being a good husband and father. You know me being able to even make that statement is something I would not have been able to do 2 months ago...so maybe I AM making progress myself.  Sorry this was long and rambling....thank you for you time and compassion.

 

My husband used to say that

with some regularity.  It used to drive me crazy.  What he meant by it was "I want to be with you because I'm committed to you, but your behavior (nagging, being angry, etc) makes it so I don't feel romantic feelings for you."  Now that we've changed things around, I totally get it.  Back in the days when I viewed his ADHD problems as the core of our relationship issues as the BIG problem (rather than looking very carefully at me, as well) I didn't really get it.

We had two turning points in our relationship.  The first was when G started taking medications and it alleviated some of the worst symptoms.  The second was when I FINALLY got my own act together and decided that I simply couldn't act as I had been acting, any longer.  Note that I had tried to "be nice" to him before some number of times, as a form of trying to get him to act differently towards me and change his behavior as some are describing here...that didn't work.  In fact, it made me MORE angry, because here I was putting all this effort in and he wasn't proactively doing anything differently "in return."  It was only when I realized that I needed to change my behavior for ME, not for him, that I was able to genuinely make the change.  This was after I decided I just didn't like myself as an angry, frustrated, mean person.  I wasn't having fun in my life, I didn't like him, and I didn't like me.  So I thought about who I wanted to be, and took the step of starting to BE that person - behaving as that person.  (I describe this process in the boundaries chapter of my book.)  At that point, I was FINALLY able to let go of worrying about his actions towards me and stop trying to calculate my actions in order to change or manipulate his actions.  I found PEACE with myself (even during a period of great personal turmoil) and acceptance of the concept that I really, truly, am not in charge of changing him.  That acceptance was huge.  Realizing that I was in charge of my life, not him, was a big psychological shift.  I became "me" again which, as it turns out, stirred more romantic feelings in him again...enough to make him internally inspired to try harder on his side, which in turn made me reconsider him, too.

I had not intended this as a consequence of my actions, but becoming more true to myself opened the door to improving our relationship.  Again, you can't "plan" to have this happen, but if you are living a life in which you don't like the person you've become (just as your husband is telling you he doesn't like the person you've become) then it's time - for your own sake - to reassess and find a way to be who you want to be.  You can only be in charge of you...and that's all.  Way back when, when you first met, you knew that and lived that concept.  It's a really critical one to a healthy relationship.

Hope this helps a bit with your situation. 

P.S.  G - if you are reading this, you might want to add your own thoughts to the "I love you but am not in love with you" concept.

Thanks, what you explained is

Thanks, what you explained is where I am right now. I know I can't change him, i just want to change me because i don't like ME anymore. I am just having a hard time with it.  I still feel resentful that I have to do everything because he wont, and i can't just say oh well dishes are his responsibility and not do them, because they don't get done. I did try not doing them for a week and there wasn't a clean pot/pan by the end of the week. Even after doing take out 2 nights in a row because i said 'I can't cook there are no clean dishes'..he still didn't do them. I'm trying not to be responsible for HIM, but I am still responsible for everything else if I want to not live in filth.  I have decided to hire a cleaning person because I am sick and tired of spending an entire day on the weekends cleaning and not having any time for fun stuff.  That should alleviate some pressure on me.

Pbartender's picture

Ditto...

Boy, sometimes I wish I could meet some of you guys face to face...

Funnyfarm, I'm also finding myself in the same situation as what you and Melissa are describing, only I'm the ADHD partner.

I don't like who I am, and I'm trying to go back to being who I should be.  I've accepted that I can only control myself and that I need to find a way to make those changes, regardless of what my wife thinks or does.  As Hogarth Hughes in The Iron Giant said, "You are who you choose to be."  But like FF, I'm having a tough time with it...

My wife doesn't seem to notice or care, and she seems to have given up on our marriage.  Even when you are working the changes for yourself, if you have no one to back you up and cheer you on, or even worse, if you have someone actively working against you, it's so much harder to keep it going.

 

Pb.

I have thought I should

I have thought I should invite all my ADHDD non-ADHD 'friends' from this site to stay at a vacation house I've rented, and leave all our spouses behind. Now wouldn't that be fun !!

Thank you so much for taking

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide your personal experience w/ this.  Having never heard something like this before, I felt like it was a dead end.  I wonder if he feels the same too.  It makes me cry to think there's a chance to come back from this, which I want more than anything.  It wasn't until he helped me see (the same night of the ILYB bomb) that I was not only acting angrily and mean towards him (which I somehow felt justified in doing) but I was doing it to everyone.  I had become so bitter and angry and used to being hurt or let down that I walked around this world expecting everyone to do the same, and treated them accordingly.  For me, that was a HUGE trigger, causing me to change almost immediately.  Doesn't sound possible, but that's what happened and w/o any real effort, either.  I'm back to my old self.  Huge weight off my shoulder, if it weren't for the whole marriage dangling by a frayed thread thing.

Just wondering if your hubby

Just wondering if your hubby (G) has any input on the "I love you but" thing...I could really use it.