I need help understanding something.

The story that follows is long and filled with self-pity, but I've tried to be as honest as possible and not "spin" it in my favor.  I do want someone to answer the following question:  Is a trait or characteristic of persons with ADHD to "defend" themselves by making you think you're crazy or just horribly prone to misunderstanding everything?  Is it a trait or characteristic to say "thoughtless" things without any idea of the pain they are causing?  I don't seem to have trouble understanding or being understood by anyone else in my family, in my work life and in my friendships.  Yet with my guy, if he says something that makes no sense to me, or hurts my feelings, and I ask about it, I am always the one who misunderstood.  Yet he usually isn't able to say what he meant.  If I don't get a handle on this one issue soon, I think I may be finished.  In the past month, without any conscious decision, I have totally restructured our finances, and cleared out the basement, attic and several closets, shredded two huge piles of old paperwork and repainted two rooms.  I have opened a bank account in my own name, and in January will start taking classes to become a yoga instructor --I'm burned out from the heavy duty jobs I've always held to make sure we had income and insurance-- it appears I am preparing to make some major changes. It will probably take at least one year to finish off some debt he incurred with a business venture, but once that is done, I can afford to be on my own.   I don't nag about undone chores -- I haven't for 25 years.  I do them myself, hire them done, or they go undone.  I don't nag about money - I have always paid the bills and he has always put his paycheck into our joint account, but now he is on cash only, with a credit card (in his name only) with a limit of $250.  But tonight I got just one more example of what appears to be a man who doesn't have any interest in me.  I keep trying to find ways for us to spend time together and somehow reconnect.  I said you hungry?  Yup.  Go put on your cute shirt and I'll take you out to dinner.  (I made sure it was early so we wouldn't have any restaurant crowds, and I picked a place that has his favorite dish.)  He seemed pleased.  We went.  He got out his phone once, but immediately put it away and said sorry.  But he got up twice to go into the bar to check the score of a college football game.  To my knowledge he has never watched a football game, college or otherwise, in his life.  He went to the bathroom.  But we ate, and it was good, and we talked a little.  On the way home, I said we could rent a movie to watch later.  He said, "we could."  A minute later he said "hate to waste a Saturday night."  The rest of the ride home was silent.  It was quite a long because he took a "shortcut", got "lost", and dismissed my suggestions on how to get back on track for home -- I only said "we could turn here I think, but was ignored.) He kept turning up the radio, and changing the station anytime I said anything conversational. Once parked in the driveway, he put his hand on the key and said "we done?"  I said yup, we're done.  And for a horrible moment it felt like we really were. He's spent the last two hours playing video games. Are we just a couple whose relationship has run its course?  Does ADHD cause people to say thoughtless things?  Like watching a movie with your wife is a "waste of a Saturday night"?  It feels like anyone else would say "No thanks, I'm not in the mood for a movie."  Like "are we done" after being taken out to dinner?  It was said in the tone of someone who was told they had to spend Sunday with a hated relative -- Are we done?  I once gave my daughter the book "He's Just Not That Into You" because her boyfriend treated her so badly.  Sadly, my relationship is in every one of those chapters.  If it is ADHD and I thought there was hope he would acknowledge it and we could work on improving things together, I would do that as part of the commitment I made to my husband.  But if he's just not that into me, then I really am crazy to keep doing the same things and hoping for something different.  He did nothing for my recent birthday, and when I asked why, he looked ashamed, hemmed and hawed, and then said he thought I didn't want to make a big deal of it.  I even felt shallow and immature for caring about my own birthday!  If I forever will be not "stimulating" enough to keep my husband's interest, I'd really rather be alone than feel constantly rejected.  I understand, and have learned to work with, the lack of organization, the trouble with procrastination and follow-through, the need to keep moving onto the next thing, or conversely, do the same thing for 12 hours straight.  I "get" the creative, out-of-the-box, fun guy.  I truly believes he "loves" me.  But I don't understand how loving someone can also include barely being able to tolerate their company.  Our dinner out?  One hour and fifteen minutes total.  And apparently at least half of it was pure torture for him.  I don't believe I can take it any more.  I'm starting to believe that loneliness would be a small price to pay for a little peace. 

Been there

All I can say is: I've been there.  Think about what you want in your life. 

I am so sorry! It does sound

I am so sorry! It does sound as if he is going through the motions. He seems content, oblivious, self involved, and comfortable. I have heard that add'ers like predictability... Maybe you could switch it up a bit. Go out and pick up a movie and watch it. Tell him you are going to go pick up dinner from YOUR favorite place and if he wants something then let you know and do it. Go do what you do without including him. Be very forthright in doing stuff someone who lived alone would do and do it. If he seems uncomfortable, then tell him you feel alone and he treats you like you dont matter so you are going to stop asking and doing all the things he takes for granted. Let him 'see" all that you do for him by not doing the stuff for him any longer. If he wants to be by himself, then treat him as such. If you moved out what would he then be responsible for? Dishes, wash, trash, house clean, meals, coffee, - let that be your mantra for a couple days or a week. You could tell him "If you don't care about me, then lets pretend i'm not here anymore....". "if it's such an effort to be with me, then lets see whats it's like without me". I would be mad and feel used and under appreciated. I know there are things my dh did that he doesnt do anymore because I am wanting my "space" now, and it does "ouch" a bit. I know this isn't coming from a "let's try to work it out and adult place" but, you have 37 years invested. Go a little off the job for a while. See if he "get's it" and then maybe this will help him to see what he is missing. I would challenge instead of pacify now. Challenge him to be better, challenge him to look inside and dig deep. You are a great person and he WILL see it. I know you really care about him and it shows by how nice and great your thoughts are. It is never to late to "make a little excitement" and "move things around", be unpredictable and become more about YOU for a while. Think funny things, keep it light, and watch the show. Tell him it's wake up time and smile.

(sheepish grin)

I'm guilty of that quite a bit. I dont like my husbands directions because no matter how he says it, it's just another thing that seems like he thinks he knows better. I dont think I really care if I get lost. I'm interested when he says "lets go out" but when the evening is focused on us (sitting across from each other) I dont really have a clue what to do. I feel like I'm supposed to do something to make the evening great but havent the darndest clue how to do it cause frankly everything I say and do gets missinterpreted and leads to the frowny face on the other person. so mostly I find things to fill the evening such as bathroom breaks, watching bits of tv or sports or things of that sort because it's a way to get out of being awkward. my husband used to complain alot about my behavior when we were out, guess as a result I think it will be ok then once we get out it's like waiting for me to do something stupid.   as for a movie? love them...hate them. I dont like watching movies with my spouse because I swear living with him is like a marathon all about "hanging out". drive me crazy. my husband is great at making me feel bad for not wanting to watch yet another movie with him (this and dinner/talking/bed is pretty well what our relationships centers around) and sometimes I do feel really bad but seriously? how many times can I sit around watching someone else do something? once in a while? sure yeah. but I think it has more to do with how I feel about him than what we are doing. I cant tell what my husband is thinking nor is he very good at putting it in accurate terms so one of the ways I've found to ask if he got whatever he needed (hangout time/date time) whatever is just by asking "are we done?" :) is it me trying to be rude to him? not really. is it me trying to get away and do something with no expectations ? yep.  to me watching a movie with him where I can feel the tension is not bonding us so what is it? other than a waste of time because were not on the same level?  to me most of our hanging out is a waste of time because were not bonding, were not loving each other were just waiting around to snap at each other or do the snapping. not just boring...stressful.

hope this doesnt sound rude or anything, this is only me identifying with what you said.  did we ever fix it? yep, he tried to be more articulate about what the night was about (despite his invitation  to dinners it was like he was hungry for something else with this faraway expression...not bedroom stuff:) he wanted us to bond somehow.... do something or have any sort of conversation that would create positives between us.  so we still go to dinner sometimes and I love that he invites me, but we started laughing at ourselves more and that seemed to do the trick with the whole tension thing.  as far as video games? yeah my husband actually sounds just the same most of the time were at home when I ask him if he wants to hangout or something tonight . he'll walk away from that idea pretty fast yet he'll sit there for hours until wee hours of the morning playing video games. or my favorite is when he says he just wants some "him time" and then gets online with all his friends to play games for like 24 hours straight.

Hi Gardner, I'm sorry you're

Hi Gardner,

I'm sorry you're feeling so low.  I do find I have to get up and move around a lot, so the going to check out the T.V. even if he's not interested might be just like that.  I have an issue with being inattentive and burning toast, and the only way I can get myself to stand still and prevent the house from burning down is to do a chore in the kitchen; empty the dishrack, wipe down the counters, etc... Otherwise, it's excruciating.  Even when I'm interested in something, such as going out to eat, I would probably excuse myself at some point because the tension between my husband and I is horrible.  How about you guys?  Also, is he on meds? 

In my opinion, saying "Are we done?" IS rude.  It might be awkwardly phrased impulsivity and "inability to linger," but either way, it's not nice, and his words merit an apology.  It would hurt my feelings, too. I can't imagine saying this after a date (not going to lie:  when my DH is piling on and being critical, I'm sure I HAVE said that, but different context).   I will say that my ADHD-Mom, my son, and I all have one thing in common:  we are very aware of what words are cruel, and we try not to make others sad.  Even with my son, I feel confident that he will not be malicious toward others in the future (though we constantly point out situations where he needs to be aware to drive that point home).  My DH and I are very pro-active about teaching both our kids not to make fun of people who are different, or to bully or gang up on people.  Both of them are very kind children, which we hear from their teachers and others frequently.  My ADHD Mom spent so much time on teaching me to be kind to people that I can't imagine being rude.  I NEVER EVER EVER have issues with people at work, nor did I ever with my teachers at school, and am continually AMAZED that so many nons at work have so many problems with others  whereas I do not.  I have a great deal of difficulty with words falling out of my mouth when fighting with my DH (that's how it feels to me as it happens so fast), but I suppose all people are less restrained with their spouses, ADHD or not.  I just happen to have a frontal lobe issue and a flash-fire temper (still responsible for it, though) and no one else knows quite how to push my buttons like him and vice-versa.

I don't know your husband, and I don't know where this is coming from.  Has he always been like this with you?  Is this new or just worse than usual?

Good luck, Gardener.  You were thoughtful to bring him to a restaurant he would like and to suggest a movie. 

Yes, there have been many

Yes, there have been many times that I think his 'defense' is to turn things around. I don't think the INTENT is to make me feel crazy, but that is the end result anyway. I honestly am not sure if I believe this is just a REAL difference in our realities or if it is his way of 'protecting' himself from feeling bad. If I have a strong emotional reaction to something (whether it is anger or hurt) then it is an absolute automatic given that he'll become defensive and someway turn it around to be somehow something I did wrong. If I complain that he isn't meeting my emotional needs (i.e. I need more time with him, I need his attention and affection) he immediately says something along the lines of "I'm not talking about this with you" "I'm not fighting with you today" "all you want to do is fight" "I won't be talked to this way" "you aren't talking to me you're taking at me" or any various forms of the accusation that the feelings I have expressed are somehow me wanting to fight or bring him down and treat him like a child. I have NO IDEA at this point how to say things to him of 'emotional' importance without being attacked in this way. I recently found out my SD was talking to (and possibly living with) the woman he had an affair with 2 years ago. I can even honestly say that I feel she crossed boundaries as HIS daughter that are almost unforgivable by doing this. I do not feel any rational human being would miss the writing on the wall here...this is unacceptable. His reaction was to blame me saying I shouldn't have been looking through the cell phone records. (we still pay her cell phone bill). I think that was a truly defining moment for me...when I finally GOT IT (or at least started the process...) that it really isn't that I am crazy. It is that my feelings, opinions, and beliefs are NOT the same as his. When this happens, he tends to be angry with me and try and make me feel bad for having them. OR he feels bad that I have them (when they involve him and things I need from him that he doesn't want to give..time, attention, respect for my opinions/feelings) and in order to stop feeling bad, he deflects the blame. Having said all of this, I do not think that deep down he thinks I am horrible or that I don't have a right to be upset about what my SD is doing. Deep down I do not think that he feels it is wrong for me to want more of his time and attention. Deep down I feel that since there is very little he feels he can do to CHANGE my unhappiness in these matters, he simply does not know any other way than to deflect it all on me. Where I have gone wrong for YEARS is that I have let him. I have believed that I was evil, mean, malicious, vicious, crazy, psycho, etc. I simply wanted his love and respect and when I didn't feel loved and respected I behaved in ways that were not helpful, quite harmful actually, and I tried to make things happen that simply are out of my control. In other words, I accept that he is upset with me for not being able to 'accept' SD for who she is...but that doesn't mean that my feelings will change or that they are wrong. I accept that spending time with me isn't a priority in his life right now, but that doesn't mean that I always will. I have a right to my own feelings, beliefs, and boundaries. As long as his 'coping' method is defensiveness, mine is going to have to be 'walking away' and knowing that I am an OK person even if he doesn't think so at that moment.

 Additionally, many times he has said something very hurtful and then turned around and got mad at me for taking its literal translation..."I didn't mean it that way!" he would say over and over again. I had an inner struggle for years "is that how he really feels or does he truly just say things that he simply does not mean?" Do you know that one of the key elements of being a codependent person is saying things you don't mean and not meaning the things that you say? Do you know how many times I have said things that I didn't mean? Anger was typically the most common source of my verbal diarrhea. However, as the years went on I think I eventually just accepted that if he said he didn't mean it 'that way' that maybe he didn't. I had NO CLUE he had ADHD. After coming here and reading that what comes out of their mouths can literally be completely different than what their brains were thinking, it all just 'clicked'. Granted, this isn't a huge problem for us, but when it happens it feels bad all the same. Having the knowledge I have now, I try and let so much more roll off of my back.

I can relate to some of the 'decluttering' you're doing..or just the act of getting physical and taking charge or your life. Since I started down the road to GETTING IT about 2 weeks ago, I have started WANTING to be more physical. I can't stand the thoughts of sitting and doing nothing for hours like I used to. I have started walking several days a week. (I admit this is in lieu of taking anti-depressants which both my counselor and my GYN have recommended). It has helped a LOT. My mental clarity and overall sense of "everything is going to be OK no matter what" has improved 10 fold. You are trying to take control of things that you can control and leave behind things that you can't. I get that. It is OK. However, taking your advice was one of the steps in the beginning process of GETTING IT for me..I would advise you not to plan your future as if you're going to leave. It will derail and destroy any hope you have of making it work. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but if you set them with the end of your marriage as the 'prize' then you may as well walk out the door today. That attitude kept me stuck for months.

About the Saturday night/movie thing. Sigh. Here goes nothing. Cannot tell you how many times I've rented movies, asked if we could watch a movie, been told "want to watch a movie later" only to have it just simply not come to fruition. AS A MATTER OF FACT happened this past Saturday. 1 p.m. ME: want to go riding and grab a bite to eat? HIM: yes, let me go down to the den and check my servers (work) first. 2 p.m. ME: we are ready whenever you are. HIM: Don't rush me, please. ME: I wasn't rushing you honey, I was just letting you know. 3 p.m. HIM: let me smoke and we'll go. 4:30 p.m. ME: I am just going to go grab something to eat, what do you want? HIM: Pizza? and get us a movie to watch later. I come home, bring the food, he surfaces from the den to get his food, back to the den and...10:30 p.m. HIM: you still want to watch a movie? ME: No, I would never be able to stay awake. Going to bed soon. I love you. HIM:I love you too. I was disappointed...and sad...and that's OK. I don't like it at all. I have no idea why he has done this switch on me and no longer seems to want to/need to/enjoy spending time together. Every effort I have made in the last several months has either been completely ignored, shot down, or ended up disastrous (see class reunion story). In the past I would have been angry...because I didn't get what I wanted. Then I would be made to feel guilty for wanting it and I would just get even madder until I finally started to believe I was selfish for wanting so much and I would apologize for getting mad in the first place. Now? No anger at all. I feel sad and hurt but it doesn't immediately jump to anger. Why? Because I know that there is nothing I can do to change it. I am completely powerless against his ADHD. I can change me and hope he comes along.

I think what it all boils down to for me is having wants and him not being able to, for whatever reason, to fill my wants. Yes, I have needs too...but this is different. I used to feel that spending time with him was a NEED. It isn't. I WANT to spend time with him. I enjoy his company when he's in a good mood. I want him to go to bed with me occasionally (more than once every week). I want him to cuddle with me. I want us all to spend time together as a family. I want sex more often. Personally, I think he is a very lucky man to be married to someone who still WANTS these things from him after all of these years...and everything we've been through. Even in the 'best' of marriages, after 14 years to want these things from your spouse is rare. What I have come to accept 100% is that there is not.one.single.thing I can do to get any of these things from him. Nagging? Nope. Crying? Nope. Expressing my heartfelt feelings in an e-mail? Nope. Threats? Nope. Do I think he knows all of these things are things I want. Yes. I do give my DH a lot more 'credit' than a lot of other non's do here in that I think he is very well aware of my wants and needs. What acceptance has done for me is take my reactive anger out of the equation and simply realizing that where I am today is where I need to be and if the day comes that these wants not being met are something I simply cannot live with any longer, then the consequences will be that I move on. I still try and steal a minute of his time when he's available and I might go out on a limb and try and make plans for us occasionally, but he will never hear the words come from my lips again that I need more from him than I am getting. I've tried it, it blows up in my face, so I have to believe he knows and if nothing changes (as I continue to work on myself and making my own happiness) then I have to believe that he ultimately made the decision for me. Family means everything to me. For years and years it did him too.

There are some extenuating circumstances (work related) that I am cutting him a lot of slack on for the time being. I will not add to his stress by making relationship demands that he simply cannot meet right now. I want to use the space to work on ME and getting ME at a healthier place too. I was standing right on the edge of the cliff, I could smell my freedom (from anger and ADHD) in the air, and Got It (member here) shoved me over. I started soaring. My wings get tired sometimes, but eventually they will be so strong that I will be able to soar with the best of them. I am excited about my future for the first time in years. I love my husband with everything in me. I respect him for many reasons. I truly accept that he was right all along...that he needs to be treated like an adult...and that I was far too angry. I'm on a path to happiness and although I pray God will lead him to follow along WITH me eventually, I have come to accept fully that he may not. I have no timeline in mind. I have no plans to cut and run in the near future. I am just working on me, praying for all of us, and I know that I am where I need to be today. I will never try to 'fix' or change him again. Just as clearly as I GET IT that my changes came 100% from WITHIN me and from my desire to quit living 'that life', his will have to come from within him. My counselor told me, when I asked her "can you help me?" she said "you are motivated to change and that is half of the battle". I am so grateful to God that I finally understand that I can control my own happiness...but not anyone else's.




Thanks everyone

Thank you all for your helpful points of view.  Momof2 asked if he's always been like this?  Looking back I think it is both that it is worse than many years ago, and that the period when I was still raising children I had lots of other things to do that I could ignore it more easily.  It was interesting to hear the ADHDers describe the tension, awkwardness, etc. they felt when alone with their partner, during a meal, etc.  It sounded like this was due to the fact or expectation their partner was going to go after them in some way.  I frequently can tell my guy is uneasy when it is just the two of us, no tv, radio, other people etc.  And I am not correcting, lecturing, asking him about his "feelings", scolding, etc.  If I were, I could understand his uneasiness or anxiety to be alone with me.  I am just trying to have a conversation with someone I care about.  Conversation about our kids, our work, books, music, future travel, the latest electronic gotta-have-it.  Is the desire for that kind of sharing even too much?  Does he perceive the question "how did that meeting go today?" as some kind of interrogation or attack?   I guess I have to figure out how I am radiating disapproval to the point he can't wait to get out of there.   So here's my next question:  If his ADD causes him to feel stress when we spend time together, then what is he getting out of the relationship?  Is it really true that one good hug, five minutes of him talking, one minute of me talking is all he really wants/needs to get through the day?  Over the years, we have had several times apart of a week or 10 days, and it was... I was ... well actually it was pretty frickin' awesome.  After a few days of not getting rejected, not having my remarks "spun" back on me, I started to feel positively buoyant.  He missed me much more than I did him.  He started to call three or four times a day toward the end.  He wanted to come home early, or wanted me to come home early.  But as soon as we were back together (like within 15 minutes), he was back in his cave with his electronic stimulation devices.  Sherri, I agree I don't "need" to spend time with him--those vacations from each other have taught me that.  I  "want" to spend time with him (but rereading this, I'm starting to wonder why.) If any of the people who know me and my husband well heard me say this, they would say it was ludicrous, but I am going to "back off".  Those folks would say I am the most low-key, undemanding, relaxed and patient person they know.    But my guy does not read me that way, for whatever reason, ADD or his own personality.  I am going on hiatus from trying to figure him out, trying to do just the right magic thing that will get some sort of positive response.  I realize that I have gone 7/8 of the way toward him in trying to have a happier, healthier relationship, and he somehow sees that as I'm chasing him.  I'm going back to the 50 yard line.  He'll show up or he wont.  Thank you all for giving me new insights to digest.

Absolutely brilliant plan, in

Absolutely brilliant plan, in my humble opinion. I didn't take the words "just stop" lightly when Got It said them. I have stopped. HE has ADHD. I have been on this site for over a year trying to understand, accept, and change the way I do everything in order to bring peace and happiness to our marriage. What is wrong with this picture? I will stay because the support is very comforting to me, but as far as everything else...I am done for now. I have tried to keep his 'behaviors' (ADHD) off of the table for a while, but I wasn't very successful. I.just.simply.have.zero.energy to give to trying to understand anymore. I GET IT. I know him better than he knows himself. Now it is his turn. HE needs to GET IT and accept his ADHD and what it brings to the table (impulsivity, inattentiveness, compulsive behaviors, addictions, etc)...and OVERCOME it HIMSELF. For now, I am focusing 100% on ME and what I need to do to find my own happiness. I love him, I pray he comes along, I pray he is able to admit (now that I have backed off COMPLETELY) that a new tattoo or hairstyle won't 'cure' his ADHD, but if not I will NO LONGER carry the burden of that responsibility.

I don't think that it is that he gets nothing from the relationship, and I'm sorry but I don't care how uncomfortable he supposedly is at dinner (sorry if that offends some, but...), he is your husband and your happiness matters too. He's not brain dead..he knows you want to spend time with him. You invited him. If he cannot manage to give up his gadgets for one evening then he needs to do some serious reevaluations of his priorities. Again, I know ADHD plays a role here, but my God when do we stop letting it be an excuse for everything. He can't spend one Saturday evening with you??? That's BS. I don't know about you, but I am done trying to figure out 'why' and asking myself "what would make me happy right now?" and refusing to fill that blank with "HIM" because it isn't an option. 'HE', like your DH, can't seem to stand the thoughts of it. And that's OK. I will love him and be kind to him in the meantime...until he either comes around and GETS IT with me or until I am done. Honestly, lady, what choice do we have? That's the answer in itself. (((HUGS)))