I need a pep talk!

Greetings All!

I have posted here a few times before and I need a pep talk.  My DH of 13 years has ADHD, on 30 mg of Adderall XR.  Here's the thing: how do I get my needs met when he is checked out?  His engagement with us (me and our boys-ages 7 and 9) is very inconsistent.  For several weeks he is his nice regular self and then there will be a period of checked-out-ness.  I doubt an outside person would even notice, but I sure do and the kids are starting to also.  A few examples: there has been no sex in my house for a good six weeks.  This is way too long for me and I have brought it up many times and NOTHING changes.  DHs bedtimes are also very inconsistent--he will go several weeks of turning in at 9pm and then weeks of up until 11pm.  I go to bed pretty much at 10pm every night, so either he is already asleep or not yet in bed.  If I am reading he will just turn over and go to sleep without a word.  When I bring it up he says, well, you were reading I didn't want to bother you.  Oh please--we have been married for 13 years--bother me!!!  Another example: today he was off because our boys had a half day of school but I had conferences all day (I teach at the same school the boys attend) so he picked them up at 11:30.  I had made two doctors appointments for them this afternoon.  Yesterday I wrote out the schedule--pick up time, appointment times, swim lesson times, what was for dinner--that was totally helpful, except for the fact that he didn't know where the two appointments were having never been to those doctors.  Last night I asked if he wanted to know where he was going and he said not now, I'm really done right now.  Well, fair enough, but these take place tomorrow, when should I give you that information then????  So I told him this morning, but then I am running around trying to get out the door to MY job.  Here is what I am getting at: I take care of EVERYTHING of any importance.  When I am feeling burned out and used up there is no one to turn to, no one to pick up the slack for a bit while I lay back.  I pay the bills, make and keep the appointments (except today and it was a fair project), I make our social arrangements (schedule the sitter, plan the event).  On Saturdays I used to sleep in but I don't any more because the three of them basically sit around waiting for me to get up and make a plan.  I am truly exhausted right now and it's too bad because who is going to do this stuff if I don't????  I am feeling very woe is me, put upon right now.  We are going out on Saturday night--I got the sitter, emailed a bunch of friends to meet us for dinner, it will be a great evening, but all he has to do is show up.  Sunday I am going to a fancy brunch with a friend and he will take them home and it will be fine, but meanwhile nothing will get done at home.  He did do laundry last week, but I sorted it and told him what temp. everything needed--it would not have occurred to him to look in the hamper and do it himself. 

Gosh, I make is sound like DH is useless and that's not it.  I wonder often how others married to ADHD folks deal with the inconsistent engagement.  I am starting to resent that I do such a complete, thorough job of making sure his needs are met (as part of our whole family, not in some weird spoiling way) but I don't get the same courtesy.  I often say to him, hey, take some time for yourself on Saturday, I'll plan something for me and the kids, but he rarely says the same to me.  Reading the posts here I accept that the non-ADHD person pretty much has to run things or they don't get done, but what happens when the non-ADHD person needs a breather from being the manager of the family?  then who do I call????

thanks for the venting space.



It sounds as if your husband is capable of taking care of things, but doesn't need to because you are stepping in too much.  A good example would be your Saturday morning thing.  What, he didn't do ANYTHING before he met you??!!  Of course he is capable of creating a plan for a Saturday!  How about laundry?  If he can't remember what temps the water should be at post a sign - whites=hot, reds should be separate from dark colors in medium, darks in medium temp.  He CAN do this stuff and you should both help him get rid of his excuses and then also get out of the way so he can.

That may sound harsh, but I say this from my own experience.  I used to do everything, too.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, so I simply put my foot down and told my husband that I didn't care whether or not he hated doing dishes...so did I, and I didn't see why his being a guy, or being ADD or being anything else had to mean that he couldn't do something.  So we talked about what chore he might take on as his own.  As it turned out, he did choose the dishes, so that became his job.  (I clean the counters because this is a detail he just can't make himself get to, no matter what).  If he didn't unload the dishwasher in time for more dirty dishes they just got left at the sink.  He grumbled a lot at first (so would I have if my kitchen slave had suddenly gone into revolt which is essentially what his kitchen slave had done).  I just kept reiterating that this was SYMBOLIC of something bigger - our partnership - and was very important to me.  I made sure to compliment his work, and to tell him how important it was that he was doing some work around the house.  Guess what?  Over time he started to realize that it wasn't that bad AND that it did wonders for how I felt and therefore had very real benefit for him.  So now he also helps fold laundry, sometimes he plans trips (not dates - he still asks that I do that), and he drives our son to his lessons, etc.  He has learned that this is one very effective way to show love...because I helped him learn it.  Give your husband the chance to learn the same thing.  He is an adult, who sounds as if he is capable of taking on some of your load.  Things may never be equal, but that's okay as long as you find a balance that works, as we did.

Also know that if you resent the amount of work you have to do then he's picking up those vibes.  Again, another reason for him to be motivated to help.  Make it a goal to figure out what he can do (and own as his own) in an autonomous way, then put the support in place to help him remember to do it.  (Just because you don't need a note at the laundry machine doesn't mean that it wouldn't be really, really helpful for him!)

As for the sex...this may be tied up in your growing resentment about his not pulling his weight...or he may be depressed...or you may need to add some flexibility to your thinking about your bedtime.  When he gets into bed at 9:00 is there time to drop what you are doing and have some fun or is he too dead at night no matter what?  Also, check for signs of depression (which can accompany ADHD) which can decrease libido.  And, when he says "I didn't want to bother you" what he may be actually communicating to you is that he feels secondary to you or afraid of you - in other words that you have moved into the parent/child roles (sounds like it).  He is feeling unsure about approaching you sexually - either because he thinks you might reject him (rational or not) or that he won't measure up (rational or not) or that he thinks you are generally mad at him and it might not be that fun (probably some truth in this one - it's hard to be a great love interest when you are resentful or mad inside...or thinking "FINALLY he's decided to have sex...better be good!")  It may help to approach him by making a date for sex, the same way that you make a date for dinner, and turn it into something special so that you can show him that he shouldn't be afraid of you and that you want him sexually just the way he is...also to make it more like a dating situation between equals - neither you nor he should have to beg.

So, see if there are ways you can give him back some of his autonomy.  I bet he'll perk up a bit if you can do this in a nice way.  This includes not having a prejudged opinion about how things should work out.  If he's in charge of every other Saturday, and decides you will all go have a paintball fight together (yuk!) then try to be a good sport and look at it as a goofy way to have fun together and have some family time, rather than thinking about all the things that you'll not get to do while you are out doing something as stupid as paintball (I don't have anything against paintball, just using it as an example).  Work with him to figure out what he can logically (and successfully) do that will both lighten your load and improve your life (and, in turn, his).  And, if you need time on Saturday, it's up to you to speak up for it.  Just because you give it to him, don't expect him to return the favor.  My guess is that if you asked for it he would be happy to help you have it, so don't hold it against him that he doesn't come up with the idea himself.

One of the tricks of autonomy is not saying "you are in charge of this today" and "not in charge of that today" (because the person who makes the decisions about who is in charge on any given day is still in charge, then) but rather to sit down as a team and decide what is going to be permanently the responsibility of each party.  BAse this upon your mutual strengths and interests.  He doesn't have to start out with an overwhelming list of items, but perhaps you can set a joint goal of getting to a place in six months or a year that is more balanced.  He picks something now that is completely his...then when he's ready he picks something else....etc.  Then, you have to let go.  If he picks the laundry, then let him do it (and if he wants to get the kids to help, that's fine, too, as long as YOU don't!  You shouldn't be able to tell him HOW to do something once he's ready to go...but you can help him set up reminders, learn the basics, etc.)

Don't mistake this as chiding you...I'm not trying to do that at all.  I'm hoping you'll see a way in my thoughts to not only feel better temporarily, but also to change the path that you are on so that you feel better permanently and can get to a better balance.  It's never a good balance when one person feels used.

Finally, you ask "who do I call"?  You may have some girlfriends with similar situations.  They can be a good resource, as can a support group, etc.  I joined a book group of women who do, really, talk about the book...but also who catch up once a month as well, and this is a very nice connection to have.   You deserve to have a support group and not be taking on all of this alone.  So see if you can think what might help...