I could really use some help here

I just wrote this post in another thread and thought it warranted a thread of it's own.  I could really use some help here!

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I am feeling VERY disconnected from my wife.  And for me, the most important way to feel connected is through conversation.

I experience all kinds of disconnects when in conversation with my wife:

- I ask a question which she doesn't answer = disconnect

- I am talking about something and I can see she is distracted by the look on her face = disconnect

- She is talking about something she is excited about so quickly that I can't even get in a simple comment like "Really?" and so I feel I am not a PART of the conversation = disconnect.

- She is talking about something in a way that she leaves out information I need to understand what/who she is talking about, and my attempts at getting clarification result in a very disjointed conversation = disconnect

I could go on and on, but the gist is, when I am in a conversation with my wife the degree of disconnect I experience is very painful.

And THAT is my main frustration.  It's not so much that she doesn't answer a specific question.  It's not so much that she goes on and on.  It's not that I don't understand her.  It's not even that I get bored, or whatever.

I have conversations with people all the time who are telling me about things I could care less about and it doesn't bother me because I am a PARTICIPANT in the conversation.  I make comments, ask questions, etc, and so feel connected to the person at the time.

I do NOT experience that with my wife, and I think it is at the crux of our problems.

I am not blaming her or saying her conversational style is bad or wrong.  The fact is it is different than mine and I haven't figured out a way to adapt my style in a way that results in my feeling connected.

So, the million dollar question, for me, is:  Does anyone know of a way we might change the way we are in conversation so I can feel connected?

As an aside:  when we were in the early stage of our relationship we had WONDERFUL conversations.  I suppose that was due to hyperfocus.

Profound Lineliness

As I was driving into work and thinking about this post I was struck by the fact that I feel very lonely.  And I think it is directly related to there being very few times when I feel connected to my wife.  My guess is my wife feels the same way.

She needs physical connection, and I need verbal connection.  And we are getting way too little of either these days.

We have tried scheduling time together, but that doesn't seem to work.  For me, when we are together, it just highlights how disconnected I am feeling.  The only times that feel pleasant are those where we are doing something together that does not require conversation - playing a game, seeing a play, visiting a museum, etc.  I don't need to be married to someone to do that.

Conversations with my wife just seem painful to me (and I suspect to my wife as well).  They require so much effort on my part (and I suspect on my wife's part as well) and there is just so little payoff in terms of feeling connected.  Nobody said it was going to be easy.  But nobody said it was going to be this hard.

These days when we go out to dinner I feel like we have become one of those couples I used to see so often when I was a waitress.  Couples who talked about nothing other than the food they were eating. 

How's your steak? 

Great.

How's your pasta?

Delicious.

Pause/awkward silence.

Wow, this sauce is so great.

Pause/awkward silence.

This is a great restaurant.

Yes.  We should come here with so and so.

Pause . . . .

So trying to have a "romantic evening" just creates feelings of pain for me.

Even when we attempt to spend time talking about something we are both interested in, it does not feel like connection to me because of the differences in our communications styles.

I understand that her way of communicating is directly related to her ADHD.  And so, I don't know if there is any way for it to change.

I am so worried that it won't change and that the rest of our marriage will just be one big disconnect.

Is the best that I can hope for in our relationship for it to get to the point where we are not making each other angry and frustrated?  I hope not.  I really need/want more than that.

At this point, I am feeling like I am more lonely now than when I lived alone and wasn't even in a relationship.  At least then I made it a point to get together with people often, people who I could connect with.  And so I didn't feel so lonely.

As I said above, we used to have conversations that were connected, but that was when she was in hyperfocus.  And that is in the past.

And I am feeling very much despair right now.  I know my wife is trying.  And it feels like we are making progress, at least in terms of coming to understand each other better.  Thinking about how our behavior affects the other, etc.

But I'm not sure not fighting will be enough.  If we don't feel connected, then what the heck are we doing here?

I don't know if connected conversations are something we are capable of.  And if not, then what?

And how do I tell my wife it is painful to be with her?

And to add to my problem, I don't know how to even talk about this with my wife.

How do I tell my wife that it has become painful for me to be with her?

How do I tell her that I feel profoundly lonely, even though we are often in the same room, sitting at the same table?

As I said - I could really use some help here.

Hoping I really feel for you

and I want to have tons of words of wisdom, but this type of disconnectedness isn't one we suffer from.  I can't remember, is your wife hyperactive?  Because that could have a lot to with her mind not being able to settle down and get along.

I will say when we had a lot of anger and frustration building up and we're having a lot of physical intimacy, we both just felt connected all over the place.  Perhaps that is something you can prioritize whether you are in the mood or not in order to get to where you want to go.

 

My other suggestion is that as part of the AD/HD conference last year, Dr Hallowell sent out a 30 minutes/30 days workbook to connectedness that my understanding is included in his newest book "Married to Distraction".   We have gotten lazy and not gotten through the entire 30 days of assignments, but it is easy and it really does make you feel more connected.   We just were talking about how we are going to finish the experiment, but the reason we stopped was partly that  we were feeling so connected it didnt' seem necessary and naturally that enemy of connectedness BUSYNESS.   We were working on so many things from the conference that some did fall by the wayside.

Basically you schedule 30 minutes to do an assignment.  One I remember is that each person brings 1 item to the meeting that has a profound meaning/lesson to them.  1 talks about their item and then the other listens and then tries to express what they heard about why that item is important to their mate.  (my husband took notes cause he was afraid he'd miss something important and I'd be disappointed, but he didn't need his notes LOL) Then you switch.  The items we each brought were not shocking, but the meanings given sometimes were for us both.   Then at the end of your 30 minutes you schedule the next 30 minutes and read what the assignment is so that you both can think about it.   It doesn't have to be every day, though when we were regularly doing it, we did it every day and enjoyed it a lot.
 

Wishing you all the best!!

We do have the exercises

Hey Aspen,

We do have those exercises - we also went to Hallowell's conference last year - were we at the same one?  (Boston in June)  If so, you might remember us as I think we were the only same sex couple there.

We also started doing the exercises but only did a couple.  Not sure why we stopped.  Maybe I'll suggest we start doing them again.

We also bought the book, and when we started reading it together it was too difficult for my wife because almost all the problems (things that negatively impacted marriage) that were used in examples were things my wife does because of her ADHD, and so she started to feel "beat up" by the book.  Maybe now that she is coming to terms with the effect her ADHD has on our marriage, she might be in a better place to read the book.

And you are probably right about the physical intimacy, that I should prioritize it whether I am in the mood or not.

Thanks for your response.

Conversation

Hello again,

I have already posted a response to this elsewhere - it's my first day here so I can't stop thinking about these problems. Sorry if  swamp you!

I was just thinking - I understand that it is good to do all sorts of exercises to make your wife perform like a "normal" person. But how about some exercises the other way round? How about an exercise that consists in relaxing with your wife without conversation, in just being there with no attempt at anything other than just being around?

After all, conversation is apparently really perplexing for her, in her present state. So what if she also feels lonely, in the sense that you keep trying to make her do something that she isn't wired for?

Believe me I have had moments of great loneliness in our marriage, and I have also thought of how we look like so many couples that I have seen and not envied. We just have to find a different way, because our partner is different from most people.

I Agree

Yes, we need to find ways to connect that meet each others' needs.  And I realize that for my wife, connection is physical.  And I have been intentionally connecting with her in physical ways more than in the past.

The thing is, that does not feed MY need for connection.  And that is what I am asking about in THIS post.

Physical vs. verbal connections

But you said that you used to have wonderful conversations. Maybe her focus has shifted because she is hyperactive, maybe she is shifting it away because she feels overwhelmed. But she clearly misses you, otherwise she would not be wanting intimacy. That is why I said in another post that I think she needs space and appreciation in order to start talking again.


 

Correct

Yes.  It is not about her not wanting connection.  It is about us needing different things to feel connected.

My wife needs physical connection.  Got it.  I can do more of that.

I need verbal connection.  Not sure if my wife gets that.  Not sure if she is capable of doing that now that she is not in hyperfocus.

That is my dilemma.

I am going to try Aspen's suggestion that we have 30 minutes of conversation using topics suggested by Dr. Hallowell and see if that helps.

I understand also what you are saying that maybe she needs some space right now.  Got it.  I can give her that.  Just not sure for how long.

Also, I was just wondering what other nonADD spouses who have a need for verbal connection have done to get it, when it didn't seem to come easily.