My husband has ADHD and I would love to embrace the idea of letting him experience the consequences of his actions. My main thought that I am struggling with is around sleep, because I, and our family, continue to be impacted by his irregularly irregular sleep schedule. He, similar to many others with ADHD, struggles to get to bed at the time that he intends to go to bed. He then wakes up late and/or is very tired the following day. Without adequate sleep his ability to execute his executive functioning skills decreases (work productivity is significantly decreased), he keeps track of "his time" vs. "our time/family time" more tightly - becoming more defensive when asked to do tasks that are unrelated to his (unstructured) work, becomes easily more sick (viral illnesses from our toddler...), and most unfortunately beats himself up more/becomes more frustrated and inpatient with himself which is so hard for me to watch. What is the best way to approach this? Should I expect him to be chronically sleep deprived until he chooses to make a change (although he has the intention to change every night before he becomes distracted) - is this what would be considered experiencing the consequences of his actions? Should I encourage him to go to bed? Should I wake him up in the morning? Should I approach him as if he is fully rested?
How to let him experience the consequence of his actions?
Submitted by Team on 02/12/2020.
Submitted by AdeleS6845 on
Has your husband sought professional help for this problem? Perhaps a therapist experienced in treating ADHD could help. I know with my fiance, he goes to bed at the same time most nights, even on the weekends. He gets up at 5:30 each morning, and has a long commute to work. He uses a noise machine at night, or leaves the TV on a timer to help his mind shut down so that he can get to sleep.
I would urge against developing a parent/child dynamic between you and your husband. Even though he has ADHD, he is an adult, and shouldn't have to be reminded when to go to bed or when to wake up, and he may resent you if you try it.
Submitted by c ur self on
It's so difficult to love your spouse, and watch them inflict self destructive behaviors on themselves, (and you and the family who can't help but experience the fall out at times) and not engage them about it. (want to help, be the fixer).....But Adele is right....Not all add/adhd spouses are in denial (mine is) about their issues....Some can hear loving, kind input from their spouse's, whether they have the disciplining ability to do anything about it or not...Only you know if he could receive it, and only you know if he would take offense (see it as nagging) to your attempt....
I'm in a very quiet house here right now... (not much going on between us, she is very withdrawn and depressed by my actions) I've made up my mind to break the Parent/Child dynamic that has been our biggest problem for years...I'm to blame for my parenting attempts of her, (the nobody lives this way syndrome I've had since the honey moon) just for the reason's you are addressing in your posts....When my wife and I cut off the TV, or just decide to go to bed....I can brush my teeth, and be in bed 30 minutes or more before she staggers in....For my own selfish reasons (intimacy) I use to lay there asking, where are you??? Da Da Da...LOL...
And the truth of the matter is "She has no ability to do any different"....So I had to accept that.....Read a book and quietly wait, or, just put my ear plugs in, roll over an go to sleep....But, I've learned to not verbally address it, and put pressure on her, and create frustrations in myself, about behaviors that probably will never change...When we live like they don't exist, (during the times they don't, or can't keep their words, because of little to no discipline) we are refusing to parent them, and they are getting the best medicine they could ever get, to help them get on the ball about discipline....When we the spouses, are living healthy peaceful lives, (being the best example we can be) and refuse to question or mother their abilities and inabilities, then we are doing the very best thing we could be doing for them and us....(IMO)....
I have to respect her life style if I truly love her (her choices, her capabilities)....I don't have to be here...I choose to....(Some day that might change, but, I need to know i have done my very best to make it work) But in the mean time, I owe her, and myself to just be a responsible loving husband, when we do interact....
Mothering a spouse, is always a death nail to a healthy marriage.....
Acceptance of reality!
Submitted by Luna_91 on
Wow..this was so helpful for me to read. It's exactly what I need to do. I'm tired of pointing out things that most likely won't change unless HE decides to proactively change it. If he even can, find the will/motivation/discipline to. And there's nothing I can do about that. The best thing to do...as you say...is live my own life as peacefully and healthfully as I can. Feels like supreme detachment. I wish I didn't have to do this at all, though. Find myself wishing for a normal relationship, if that even exists. Sigh.
Hi Luna...It may take a bit, but, we can break bad habits....
Submitted by c ur self on
When we have a spouse that we attempt to love and respect...But we know we can't count of them or trust them in many area's of life..."We make our own Normal"...We use boundaries to protect them from our pointing out, our emotions, etc....And on the other hand we learn to kindly say no to interactions that aren't healthy, respectful, and agreeable....It really pisses some adder's off to hear no thank you when their attempting to force their will on us...(Did my wife..LOL) Especially if we have been mothering and enabling them in the past....We have to make up our minds that we will not be part of their chaos....As individuals we have plenty that we need to do in our own lives to make sure we are being responsible and staying in a good place emotionally (and every other way)....We can't do that for another adult. I'm sad it took me this long to realize it....But, it's never to late to work on ourselves :)
It's never about love....It's about reality....
Suffering their own consequences.
Submitted by Rue on
Hi. I am new to this sight so please bear with me.
We have been married for almost 8 yrs. We are in our early 50's and raising two Grandkids. One is ADD and the other is ADHD. My spouse was diagnosed as a child with ADHD, although I see nothing in him to suggest hyperactivity.
We are in the parent/child trap. I reluctantly took on raising the kids. Not because I don't want or love them but starting over at this stage in my life was not what I had in my plans. My husband was severely emotionally abused as a child by his mother. She never had him treated after someone stole his first months prescription. He admits he has a problem and refuses to ge it taken care of because he "is a grown man and doesn't have too".
We have been to marriage counseling and he states that he "understands" our issues, admits to the counselor what he feels are his shortcomings, but does nothing we are asked to do. He refuses to see one now. His personality is such that our 8 y/o grandson has basically out grown him and it makes me sad because they used to be real close. He watches TV from sun up to sundown, Never in my life have I seen someone do that. I suspect he suffers from depression as well. I have worked in the mental health field and I don't want to be his counselor nor his mother. I want to be his wife.
This detached love thing is a great idea in theory, however I am failing to see how I can apply that very effectively in our relationship. He does not help with the housework very often and on the rare times he does he expects to be admired b/c he has done something. 95% of the outdoor things that get done are by me and the inside work is also primarily done by me. I handle all of the finances and any phone coordination that needs to be done. He won't make a decision so I end up having to do it and if I choose the wrong path I never hear the end of it.
If I don't do the housework or yard work it doesn't get done and we would end up living in squalor. If he says he is going to do something like cook breakfast he has to finish watching his shows and if the kitchen isn't as clean as he likes it he has to clean it. The problem in that particular area is the kids have meds they have to take in the mornings that make their stomachs upset if they take them on an empty stomach.
He doesn't pay attention to me or things that need done. I can have a whole conversation with him and he "doesn't pay attention to those things because they don't matter to him". His words not mine. If I remember things that he doesn't he gets angry b/c his memory isn't that great. That's fine,ADD, I get it. Then when we argue he asks if he should write things down and keep track of them and I say "yes he should" he gets angry that I am to controlling. Sometimes I think my head will explode if I hear him say that again. If he would step up I wouldn't have to be in charge of everything. When the kids are disciplined he gets mad at me b/c he responds as a wounded child and not a parent. I have tried to explain to him that their experiences are not his, that they are not treated as he was. Some of our biggest arguments stem from him threatening (lying in my eye's) to do something that they know he only rarely follows through with and me following through with what he has threatened them with. He gets furious at me, calms down, acknowledges he has to do better then repeats the same thing again.
He says things that are awful and when I walk away rather than argue he follows me to tell me how wrong I am. In fact, his last comment on counseling when I spoke to him about it again was to say wanted to go so "they can tell you that you are wrong".
I have moved out of our bedroom a couple of months ago and the tension has lowered and the kids are happier. I have printed off the divorce papers to file and he knows this. I have not filed b/c I want the youngest to be adopted first. I am a Vet and she will have awesome benefits. I will also file for adoption with or without him.
I have read Susan's book The ADHD Effect on Marriage and have cried because she is describing, pretty much verbatim how we feel about each other. I cried to know I am not alone and cried b/c others are having the same experiences.
I am almost at my wits end struggling with my own mental health and having to take on his problems too. I am not financially dependent on him but I have low vision and live in the country so transportation is an issue.
I've read several statements but I don't see a lot of follow up on how their situations improved. I need to see some light at the end of this tunnel no matter if it shines on success or moving on.
How long do I "stay in the muck" with him not helping himself and when do I cut my losses.
I am just tired of putting my life on hold waiting for him to decide what he is going to do. I want to make decisions based on what I want, not put them off for someone who can't make up their mind about anything.
How do you make them responsible for their own consequences without dragging the whole house down with them. If it was him being bad with money or not keeping a job I would not have such a problem but I am exhausted carrying this marriage on my own.
Submitted by c ur self on
My first thoughts reading your post is....WOW, what a truly descriptive post of what it's like to try and be in a marriage relationship with an adult, who is locked in a child's mind.....I'm the guy who lives in the world of boundaries (detached love theory, I think you called it)...But, I don't have two minors, which would severely hamper the way that works....I will just share this....There is a power in marital connection, call it what you will, (love, commitment, dependency, expectations, all of the above.. etc) that hinders (blinds us) sound judgment in daily life, and also any future life....
I force accountability w/ boundaries....I make it a conscience behavior to not bale her out, or enable her...And I refuse to be dragged down her victim road of verbal denial and blame.....We can talk only when its calm and constructive (ownership)....
You and I can never change them....Many are locked in a mind that cannot change....It's who they are, and they will tell you that.....Their happy being who they are, a responsible adult (who expects the same from them) is a pain in their ass....So until I learned that, (really learned it!!!) I spent many many day's pointing out the chaos and irresponsibility, but, that didn't change anything except to drive us further and further apart.....
There are many people who's life just will never work in a relationship, especially one with a responsible adult.....And if you don't place boundaries with these minds, they will 100% of the time use you up (IMO)
Suffering their own consequences, a comment.
Submitted by Fighting4MyMarr... on
This: "How do you make them responsible for their own consequences without dragging the whole house down with them." a quote from Rue's entry. This is everything. No amount of advice to step back and stop interfering will ever hold water, until it addresses this question. When you share a household, with children, bills, etc., this must be addressed for any advice to be meaningful.
Could not agree more
Submitted by 1Melody1 on
The advice to do less and step back is absolutely useless when you don't have an ADHD partner who wants to change and pitch in.
Yes it does...I've spent over 6 years working on the answer...
Submitted by c ur self on
"How do you make them responsible for their own consequences without dragging the whole house down with them."
My thoughts and findings....The reason most spouses never get this question answered is, their own unwillingness, or inability to do what it takes....One of three things usually happens in my experience, and in this order...1) Live in a dysfunctional relationship for years....2) Divorce or Separation...3) Accept a marriage relationship filled w/ boundaries....
The first two are self explanatory....Number three takes lots of work, and boundaries, in order to have a "What is possible relationship". And that just isn't good enough for many people....The Key for me is: I have to never need her, trust her, or place expectations on her, past a point that it would cause me emotional grief of any kind....This has changed us both....I'm definitely not perfect at it every day...But, I am at peace with it...It is the only way for us.....It is the way to get to, "What is possible between the two us"
What about the countless scenarios that have consequences?
Submitted by Fighting4MyMarr... on
What about the countless scenarios that have consequences impacting you both and also your children? For example: when our daughter was really little, a young toddler, she went through that phase where kids (too young to know better) walk around and stick things in their mouths. No amount of reminding or post-its, etc would ever get my husband to remember to put away his razor after shaving. He would just leave it out when he was done, placing our young daughter at risk. I pleaded with him in tears to create some kind of system for remembering, anything he could think of. He always agreed to "do better" and then the razor would be out. So, I learned to stay awake when he's shaving, even if it's late at night when I was exhausted would give anything to sleep. This would allow me to check carefully behind him to ensure nothing dangerous was left out. The same scenario would repeat for medication left out, or the oven left on, etc.
While I'm drawn to the idea of what you wrote: "I have to never need her, trust her, or place expectations on her, past a point that it would cause me emotional grief of any kind" I am having a hard time implementing a similar standard when it comes to children and other shared responsibilities that have real, meaningful consequences. I find myself wanting to adjust my standards and expectations but then I can't see how I have that option and not essentially become a hyper vigilant housemaid who takes on every single responsibility. This is where I really feel stuck.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Much appreciated.
Submitted by c ur self on
When it comes to difference's between his mind, and yours, there is a great divide in ability & concerns, mostly because you are different individuals, and different sexes'...Plus, experience teaches us that the difference only grow's in most marriage relationships where add/adhd is present....
So learning to recognize, and work through our difference's in a calm way is vital. Many times when I have that defeated feeling right out of the gate, (due to our history), it becomes increasingly difficult to not convince myself of a few things before I even open my mouth...One, I am right, she is wrong...Secondly, she is going to defend her actions...(justify it)...So basically I can be revved up a little, and it's easy for her to pick up on by just hearing my voice, and looking at my expression...So the conversation attempt, really never had a chance to begin with....
High level add/adhd challenges many things...Organization and considering others (child hazards, etc) is not the least of these...***Being a wife and mother I'm very sure has even greater challenges in circumstances than I face being a husband w/ grown children....But, the same rules of life apply when it comes to mutual respect, calm communications, accepting of each others feelings and the differing realities of the minds we are currently living in....
If when we apply all the rules of love and grace toward one another in consideration of an issue... his shaver, (most now days have safety edges) then the unfulfilled spouse has to step away and determine if it's something that they can live with or not.....And pursue a different avenue if it's a deal breaker, or it's destroying their ability to have peace...
I will say this...most mind types appreciate companionship, (even if their reason's aren't healthy ones) most healthy men and women love physical intimacy, and the pleasure of sharing themselves in a relationship....But not all who get married are willing or even capable of mind, to live a life that makes putting themselves in the other person's shoes, and managing life from a thoughtful perspective a reality...The larger the difference's of mind, the harder it can be to limit conflict....We usually think to highly of ourselves, and we also can be prideful when it comes to the help we actually need so desperately.
Most all married couples needs a responsible wise counseling session from time to time...When high level add/adhd and/or huge difference's in thinking, feelings and behaviors are present, it becomes vital for understanding each other, what is going on in the relationship....
Braun makes electric shavers that are amazing (shaves just as close as a blade) now days...A little pricey, but could be a great gift for someone who lives rushed up and/or forgetful life style
Submitted by TryingToMakeItWork on
I could have written this, nearly word for word. Regarding the razor (one of many things my husband often leaves out, despite "trying harder"), when our kids were that age I generally got them up every morning which allowed me to do a quick safety check. But I know that's just one example of many, it sure doesn’t follow the advice of letting him experience the consequences, and I don't have an answer to the broader question. I have adjusted my standards where I can, and set boundaries when the consequences will only affect him. But the question of how to protect my kids from the consequences continues to be an exhausting struggle.
Submitted by 1Melody1 on
''... become a hyper vigilant housemaid who takes on every single responsibility''
This is where I was when my husband would not meet me at a place where he could be accountable. I went insane, unable to sleep until he went to bed (however crazy-late that was), so I could check all the doors were locked, the gas stove was off, etc. I wasn't just manufacturing the worry... 20% or so of the time, a door would be unlocked or even hanging wide open or a flame would be blazing atop our gas stove or the garage would be wide open, keys to his car sitting right there (as far as learning from consequences, we had a car stolen this way already due to his ADHD forgetfulness....so....). When our child was younger, he would leave coins scattered on the floor everywhere, every day. No amount of conversation around how unsafe this was (choking hazard) would fix this. So what do you do when the ADHD partner won't change? You literally HAVE to follow behind to keep the family safe. You can leave him, but then what? Your child spends 50% of his or her time with a parent that can't keep the household safe? Unless you've lived it, people don't realize how few choices the non partner has once kids enter the picture. It is torture.
Submitted by adhd32 on
When our first child was a toddler I worked a PT evening job so we didn't have to employ a babysitter. H was at home one night working on an endless half-finished project using paint, plaster, etc. What inspired a renewed interest out of the blue remains unknown. H took no measures to contain toddler elsewhere. While in the room and his focus was elsewhere, our toddler reached up and pulled open containers of dry and wet plaster and paint off the table onto the floor. I arrived home to the mess and many hours of cleaning. H was angry at our son instead of himself for being incompetent. We had a big fight when I told him he was at fault since he didn't protect our son from danger and a toddler is curious and has NO idea how the world works. This followed another incident several months earlier when distracted H was supposed to be watching toddler. H left the door to the stairs to the patio open and toddler tumbled down the concrete stairs trying to follow him.
The day following the paint incident we attended a wedding and H was retelling the story to others. I pulled him aside and told him to keep his blabbermouth shut as he was basically admitting to being neglectful and he looked like a fool.
H was never a trustworthy parent. If I was out at the store or attending to chores I would arrive home to find he didn't feed the kids lunch or put them down for naps even though he made himself lunch. His ability to ignore them was astounding.
I would caution that ADD partners don't magically become involved, cautious and caring parents or spouses. Frankly, they never change. You get to accept all the danger and chaos, or leave. No improvement sticks. Stay or go are the only choices.
Boundaries and expectations
Submitted by TiredOTwife on
I completely understand where you're coming from. My husband has the same issue. We have a rule that he is welcome to sleep in our room if he is there before 10. After 10 he needs to sleep elsewhere. There is a guest bed he sleeps in frequently because he usually can't get to bed by then. I'm the breadwinner of the household and also do almost all of the childcare and home/financial/social management and I need to get up early to be at work. I get very depressed if I don't watch my lifestyle, so I don't go out at night and I try to get to bed early. I let him know what I'm doing, like Hey, I'm going to bed now because it's bedtime. If you're up in the next 5 minutes I'd be happy for you to sleep up there. If not I'll see you in the morning.
I am not great at enforcing this in the past couple weeks, but I'm happiest when I do. And I need to get back to it, so this is a helpful reminder to me!
And no, he is an adult so he does not get to sleep in, slack off, or treat me poorly because he's tired. Except for Sunday's (his day to sleep in), the expectation is that he is up by the time our son is up at 7:30. I usually leave for work before then so there's no other option on those days. And on days when I'm home, I will turn on the lights and open the door to whatever room he's in and say Good Morning! And our toddler will come in and do the rest.
if he treats me worse or doesn't follow through and I suspect it's because he didn't go to sleep on time I don't mention the sleep, I just say I deserve to be treated better than that and if he needs to take a couple minutes alone to make a plan for how to do that that's fine but I'm not going to be treated badly. If he still doesn't treat me better I don't engage and don't respond except to say that I am not going to engage in an interaction that is disrespectful to me and that when he can come to me respectfully I'm happy to talk. And usually he takes a beat and comes back later and we can talk normally. And usually that's when he confirms that he didn't sleep much.
thats just us and I wouldn't say we have a good marriage, but most of the time it's functional for right now. I'm actually pretty happy in my life most of the time. I decided he was not relevant to my ability to be happy and have been focusing on doing things that make life easier and make me happy with or without him.
That said, it's really really hard to always have to be the strong, responsible, firm one. I'm just working on getting out of the parent child dynamic. With kids it's really hard, but one of the reasons I keep working and keep up my busy and happy schedule is because I can honestly say I don't have time for him to not pull his weight. If I was a stay at home mom there is no way our relationship would work because I'd try to mother him and he'd take advantage of my schedule flexibility. This way there is an outside force dictating my schedule which he respects.
but it's so hard and I really feel for you! It's taken me so long to figure out minor ways to deal with his issues and it is mostly about unlearning bad patterns and having the same expectations of him that I would for anyone in my life.
also, regarding his time vs family time... that's a hard one. We haven't solved that one, but we do have written schedules of chores which I can reference as the expectation that he agreed to. I have our sons schedule posted in several spots and the chore list and schedule up. Once he gets into a routine he has a better shot of following through with it so I try to keep things as regular as possible.