"I am fun. You MUST forgive me."

As I look at dh's family, I see the look of our relationship repeated in a few of the couples.  There is one spouse who is ALL personality, (verbose, profane, toilet humor) a lot of talk that consists of a lot of "putting down" others....political judgements, local gossip, and fiesty accusations ----- all in good fun, ha-ha. Jockying for attention with words, bravado and "in your face" bantering. There are stories of drunken partying and careless activities (even though there are children involved) that are reported with pride as in, "Look, no one is going to tell me how to behave. I am supreme in my strong will and ability to have fun."

The spouse (me included) of these certain relatives at the family gatherings is quiet, removed, apprehensive, a shell. They are the ones making sure the kids are being taken care of and are helping to make the event happen, taking care of business. They are the ones who say it is time to go when it is time to go, packing things and saying good byes while the spouse has the attitude of "You are such a wet blanket. I want everyone here to keep seeing what a fun person I am. I am on a roll." Even though it took everything to get the "fun" spouse to the event.  I believe there are quite a few ADD/ADHD people in dh's family.  When I look at the spouses, I see a mirror and it is not a pretty site.  We have resigned shoulders with a look of hapless determination in our faces.  The ADD/ADHDers look much more animated and lively.....more likeable.  They have seemed to "fall into" money somehow without doing too much work themselves....not having had to push themselves too far.

When I begin to get angry or resentful or confused when talking to dh, this awareness helps me to look at him and see his ADD (and upbringing?) and accept that this is who he is...I can't change it.  As I recall the actions and words of these relatives....his sarcasm and swaggering becomes less personal against me or our marriage.   What is missing in our dialogue is comradery toward growth, understanding, helpfulness, compassion or care. Instead there is a blustering and games in his attempts to "relate".  Rather than impart information to "couple" or plan his words and actions are constructed to divide and conquer. 

Us spouses become frustrated and wonder why we can't have a committed, partnering, care to share, loving marriage.  We take the fault of the difficulties upon ourselves wondering if we ARE wet blankets and don't have enough personality to keep our spouses in love with us.  Many of us spouses COULD enter into the lighthearted verbal sparring IF there were first some trust and security between partners....then the "fear of the games going too far and inappropriately" would not be like a cloud over us.  I wish we could relax and enjoy ourselves rather than be the vigilant guardian whose job it is to keep things balanced.

I look around and see buildings built, parks and towns organized, professional men who put energy and action into family and community and building a life with a wife and children.  Interested in growing and learning and being a part of growth and support and giving.  So I know there are men out there who are motivated and able to do these things.  I forget what a man is capable of and how nice it COULD be to be a part of a group who puts effort into these important endeavors through planning and discussing and organization and action.  The senselessness of dh's efforts to get everyone to like him for his humor and "funness"  at the expense of any other endeavor makes my life of supporting him senseless too. His biggest aspirations are to live and let live and not cause harm but he is causing harm by not contributing.  He is causing harm to me by defining our family as silly, pleasure-seeking "do nothings". His actions and words are structured to keep the spotlight on his personality so no one notices that he is not being an adult, loving man with adult responsibility and concern.  He doesn't do the necessary things because it is either not fun or it is too hard.  That means that someone else has to do the things that are not fun and are hard.  He asks me to respect him.

Again, I know this is not just ADD. It may be what it looks like when the coping of ADD is denied and/or lazy.  My apologies to those of you who work hard to plan, organize, contribute and make something of yourselves.   Let this be a congratulations to those of you who have worked hard to NOT be the person I just described.   Your spouse only loves you more knowing the extra effort that you must put in to contribute like you do.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

when the coping of ADD is denied

Yes, jennalemon, I think there is a coping mechanism in families that have undiagnosed/denied ADHD.  Hindsight truly is 20/20.  I look back to all the formative years of my marriage and see many patterns in my father in law that are indicative of ADHD.  His marriage was a disaster that died in its 10th year.  He despised his wife, she worshiped the ground he walked on - and as good Catholics they stayed married till they died.  Add that crazy dynamic and it was a horror.  7 men who all micro-managed what everyone else did - so nothing ever got done.

I was the only in-law.  The intruder.  The threat.

Horrible memories. . . . .