Incident Log

The goal here is to note all "events" in my marriage. I hope that through this they won't fade away. Very shortly after an altercation I have a very hard time remembering what was said. Hopefully I can note details here and learn something from the reminder.

This is more for me than anything. Not actively looking for input or response, though that is welcome. Doing something like this in a journal is an activity I've always hated, and probably wouldn't follow through with.

4/12/13 - AM & PM

Duration, ~ 15 minutes
This morning the kids had yogurt and granola for breakfast. I took them up when they were done and left the baby's tray as it was. He had coated himself with the stuff and the tray was a disaster area. There isn't usually any appreciable mess to clean up in the mornings (yogurt is new to the weekly rotation) so it hasn't been an issue for my wife who starts lunch, but it would have been considerate to wash the tray so she could avoid working five minutes on a hardened shell of yogurt. The tray never entered my mind, I was just taking the kids up. She went downstairs to do laundry. She discovered that the things she put in the wash were not clean. The day before I washed our large bathmat on hot and with the smallest water setting. She assumed these settings never changed from cold and large, and ran regular laundry with that. She must have seen the tray on her way back up. I was about to get in the shower. Similar themes of not being able to rely on me to get things done right. This time especially the point was made that I do the bare minimum until she feels she can start chipping in, and then I do nothing. She says I am not stupid, so I must have seen that I was leaving a big mess to clean up later. Her conclusion is that I am lazy and I knew she would get the cleanup done if I left it alone. I protest that the tray never entered my mind, I never thought of cleaning the mess up or the intent to leave it, and I really don't have a huge distaste for cleaning up like that. It just never entered my brain. She doesn't understand how that is possible. We need to get in couples therapy and talk about this sense that I'm nefariously plotting to do nothing. The irony is that this mundane work is really unpleasant for her, but when I do engage in it I just tune out, make the completion a game, and really have no sense that I'm doing something distasteful. Perhaps the reason it seems that these tasks tear at her soul is because she doesn't have the luxury of getting the cue or not. For her everything stands out. Also mentioned is how long the upstairs trash bins need to be emptied. I see no other course of action but to clean. I empty bins and clean our bedroom before showering and starting my work day an hour late.

Duration, > 1 minute
It is just after the kids get put to bed, my mother has called saying they are on their way to stay with us (We are living in a house they own but do not reside in until we buy a house in a few months). This call is the first time any indication of coming to stay is given (If my mother is not ADHD, no one is). My wife and I are cleaning up the guest and common areas. I am washing dishes and she's flipping out due to the spontaneity of this news and the fact that my parents visiting always stresses her. She's pushing me to wash dishes faster, because I am notoriously slow at tasks, and says something about going fast like a bunny. I joke that there is only one thing that I like to do like a bunny. She snaps and says we aren't in high school, not everything is sex.

I'm only replying because you

I'm only replying because you sound just like my husband in these instances. The washing machine incident even happened to me recently. Ours is always cold and large, but my husband washed something and changed the settings. I really don't expect him to change the settings back, but I'm just surprised he changed them at all. He normally doesn't notice stuff like that. My husband is driving me absolutely insane, but I internalize the anger a bit by just telling him what he needs to do. Mine never sees the dirty area where my son eats. I'm always the one to clean it, well 9/10. Yeah, that bugs me, but if I want him to clean ANYTHING, I've learned that I have to tell him to do it. This is the parent/child dynamic he's forced on our marriage. It's not pretty. I also feel that mine does the bare minimum, or as I like to call it, half-assing everything he touches. It resonates as lazy with me, as well. Same thing goes with the trash and recycling. It is 99% my job, although when he sees me doing it, he wants to chip in. Mine can't even get my order right EVER if he's sent out to grab food. He inevitably blames it on the restaurant. If I want my child to get his medicine or his bath tonight, I'll have to text my husband a few times from work. I have to remind him to check the dog's water bowl and maybe even to feed them. This kind of crap is 100% harder to deal with since I have a child in the terrible 2 stage......he is throwing fits by my feet as I type this because his dad has better things to do than parent. Parenting for him is sitting in the recliner with our son on his lap. Your wife deals with 3 special needs children.

Nearly everyday I can find something to text him about that he's forgotten to do, and if it causes me any kind of heartache, I let him know about it. Once, he texted back, "look, I don't wake up everyday thinking 'what can I do to F up Lauren's day'". But, honestly, that is almost what it feels like. He just told me he was going to wash my car for me. This is a man that detailed cars for a living and talks about picking it up again for extra money. But when he told me that, I had to remind him not to leave my windows all spotted he did last time. He replies back that he won't do it this time because he has all of his tools. I had to point out that tools don't get the windows clean....paper towels and windex do. He told me I was right, but I could tell he didn't feel that I was. He believes my windows were spotty last time because he didn't have the right tools. Sometimes I wonder what planet he is on. Last time, when I noticed the terribly spotty windows, and pointed it out to him........he spent time cleaning them and yet somehow missed getting them clean. A few days later, I windex-ed them myself. Being with him is certainly maddening.

As far as the inappropriate sexual jokes, YEP, mine does that all the time too. They are funny at appropriate times, but when your wife is obviously stressed...that is not the time. I don't snap at mine anymore because I'm used to it and lost all respect for him. I just ignore him and don't laugh. It's punishment enough, but he doesn't seem to learn. If yours is still getting on to you about things, then I think it might mean that she still has some respect left for you and the marriage. She still believes that you can do better, so she is trying to mold you....remind you to be better. I stopped doing that with mine because it gets me nowhere but looking like a harpy. Mine also has a habit of turning anything I say into a song lyric, especially when I'm trying to have a somewhat decent conversation with him. That gets the same response from me. Yesterday, when he got home from a 24 hr shift, I told him "good morning", but when I started to tell him about my day with our son, he was already in the toilet (a 45 min ritual) about to shut the door. He didn't hear me and this set the whole tone for the day. I barely speak to him, so it really should be something he pays attention to, but later on, when I started to follow him in the baby's room, telling him more about our day, he interrupted me about something we passed on the way there. I just shut down. I do this all the time, but he never learns.

ADHD sux:/

As always there are a lot of

As always there are a lot of parallels, and a lot of differences. I can understand assuming the wash will be cold and large because 95% of the time it is, but I still glance at it before starting any load. Granted she starts four loads for every one of mine, but at the risk of sounding defensive I don't think that isolated incident was anything to be upset about. As a small miscommuication in a stream of frusterations and actual discourtesies, it is understandable for sure.

I feel a little weird about the doing chores aspect of our marriage. I am inattentive, and she does these things with much more reliability than I. That's a given. She also does a larger share of the household work, also a given. Her focus is getting tasks done, and I feel like she often rushes through things just to get it done. The concept of "good enough" is totally valid, but if you asked me whether I do things half-assed, I would say no. I typically want to do everything well, and left to my own devices, anything that I actualy zero-in on will get done as well as I can. The problem is getting keyed on to starting the task. Sometimes in pursuit of this well-done job I take way longer than the task warrants, and sometimes my idea of well-done is not her preference.

Like we've discussed before, I feel like I do more chores than the typical man, but I do not want to measure myself by the typical man. Melissa was saying something in her book the last few pages I read about the standards and expectations rising with the inattentiveness of the ADHD spouse. Perhaps that is the dynamic here.
I don't have any problem doing these things, and do not feel owed by doing them. I don't keep score. Many of them are not in my head before they appeared in front of my face, and once done they don't linger in my head as marital ammo. I wish that my execution was less dependent upon happenstance, because these things are so much more frusterating for my wife to perform than they are for me. Again, that might be because she sees all of these tasks and can't stash them away. I can just tune out and slog through whatever. An example is when we go to the gym. We'll get on the elyptical side-by-side and do a 30 minute bit of cardio. I can feel her agony (not physical) the entire time. It is the idea of being on that machine and the sacrifice that eats at her every minute of it. I get on there, put on my headphones, close my eyes, and I don't count the seconds.
A task has to be pretty distasteful to really bother me once I've started doing it. I hope that my inattention issues can be mitigated through working on all of this, because taking more on my plate would be minimal to my psyche, and do a great deal to ease her burden.

It seems random those things that get locked into my habits and those that don't. Breakfast and bathtime for the kids, totally locked. Getting trash out on night before trash day, putting kids to bed with stories, locked. Pretty much anything that is the same in nature week after week is very doable. Feeding the cats? Do it when I see it, which almost always keeps them fed, but it is not "locked." Laundry, cleaning, sippy refills, dishes, these are all things that one does when they need to be done, and are not locked. I do these things frequently, but I think the distinction is that they happen due to demand, not at any fixed time. My performance doing these need-based tasks waxes and wanes. Hopefully this will get better. There is almost no time in our marriage where she is running around the house doing productive things and I am sitting on the couch drinking a beer or some other leisure activity. I have enough of a sense of awareness to get a guilt trigger on that, and that would be super-unacceptable for her.

On the sexual commentary, it usually isn't an issue. It might get an eye-roll, or she'll playfully tell me that I'm being bad. There are times like this one where I should have gauged the tenor of the moment, and determined that throwing humor back at her exasperated demand for speed was a bonehead move. I'm not really a jokester in any sense of the word either, so this was just my mouth saying something without any consultation or intention from my brain.

4/13/13 - PM

This one was not really a fight. My parents are in town visiting and yesterday afternoon we spent the entire day out in the front yard planting in the garden with the kids and cleaning up. While we were out front my mother went up into our bathroom to get at the window box outside the bathroom window (which faces right out front above where we were working). She was planting some new annuals in the box, but got side-tracked and started cleaning our bathroom. I saw her through the window and told her she didn't need to do that, that I would take care of it later. She cleaned the bathroom anyway. Turns out she moved stuff all around.
My wife had been gone all day doing a charity photo shoot for autism families (she's a photographer), and saw everything had been disturbed in the bathroom. After a very busy day and a frustrating series of shoots she couldn't contain that one, and started talking about how we had to leave this house. She is really stressed out by living in a house we don't own, and my mother coming in and invading our private space like that is one of the reasons why. Even I was a little chagrined by my mother doing that, and it takes a lot for me to get bothered by something. So this led to talk of future plans.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to her that a recruiter contacted me about a job in Florida, which happens to be one of the few states that requires ABA therapy be covered by insurance plans. So my wife took that offhand comment to mean that Florida would be a real possibility, and got her mind into planning a move to Florida. I'm a contractor with my current firm, and in a few months I should be hired on as a full employee. I work from home but that is a new policy in this company, so I'm unsure if working not only from home but from a different city/state is acceptable to them. I feel really anxious about going to a boss in a new job and asking for these kinds of things. This is the honeymoon period where you should just be an awesome performer and garner a great reputation. Starting in with the questions about how I can be accommodated seems like bad PR. Nevertheless she is correct, these are important details to get in making significant life plans in the near future. So anyway I tell her I'll talk to my co-worker and see what he thinks, but then we start looking into insurance. Apparently if your employer is "self-funded" (They pay all the claims themselves and just get the plan administratively managed by one of the familiar insurance company names) then they don't have to obey the Florida law. For my technical arena no small company could possibly afford the toys I play with. As a result pretty much all the jobs I'll have are with large corporations, and my sense from the industry is that almost all large corporations self-fund. They have a large enough risk pool to make it a no-brainer. So on Monday I'm going to call their benefits resources to see what their view on ABA therapy is. I wrote it on the little white board she got for the wall by my desk.

Long story short she started stressing about finding this info out regarding a move to Florida, when in all likelihood it doesn't matter where we live. When we moved across the country I was nevertheless an employee of my previous firm, and their self-funded insurance could care less about state lines. So anyway we need to get out of this house, but she doesn't do well with waiting and seeing. That is my default.

4/18/13 - N/A

Keeping the habit of using this going, but no incidents beyond some frustrated sighing (from both sides) with no dialog or serious emotional outbursts. Things have been pretty well contained the past few days, but these are the times when I am libel to start slipping. Need to be on my guard to get things done and notice when I am shoveling more on her plate.

4/19/13 - PM

Already this one is foggy. The kids had swim lessons at the Y starting at 4:30. I was trying to wrap up work so I could go too. I'm not sure if this is a common occurrence with other couples, but every time we are trying to get ready to leave the house the potential for argument is huge. With three kids there are a fair amount of logistics involved in going anywhere. My wife is also very bothered by being late, I would say moreso than the average person. So Friday I was on a conference call, trying to drop off, and she started to get the kids ready. I finally got off the call and attempted to help her get things ready.

She is very goal-oriented with an amazing ability to plan. When we are faced with leaving for swimming she instantly knows all the things required to be ready to go, which things are most crucial, how long getting ready is going to take, and how long it will realistically take to get there. All of this stuff I can conceptualize and understand, but somehow in the moment I really am pathetic at these skills. I'm not even really sure how to describe what happened and what I did or didn't do. After I was done with that call we had about 15 minutes of both of us running around getting things ready, and it seems like even though I was walking around trying to help  got almost nothing done. When I attempt to dress the kids it always seems to not match, or it isn't appropriate for the weather, or she has already gotten something out and I didn't see it. Recalling this moment of chaos is so difficult I think I need to make a list of leaving activities.

1. Get kids swim clothes on, R swim trunks, E swim diaper and cute pink one piece with matching swim cap.
2. Get shirts and coats on. Get dry clothes for them to wear after the class.
3. Find (always cleverly hidden) and fill all sippies
4. Adults get workout clothes on.
5. Shoes for kids
6. Change the baby, clothe him appropriately
7. Get gatorade bottles halfway-filled with water from freezer for adults during workout.
8. Make sure we have purse, phone, wallet, YMCA ID cards.
9. Get towels, spare diapers, swim bag.

There are probably more, but heres how it went down. At the start of getting ready I put on track shorts under my jeans and got myself ready to go. Getting my stuff together is something I have zero doubt about doing correctly. Sidenote: For my wife getting her stuff together was the absolutely last task she performed. Self-centeredness due to lack of caring for others, or being sure of action? She did all of #1, I tried to get swim trunks for him but the ones I got were wrong and she had already gotten some out. She did most of #2, I put on E's coat. I forgot about #3 until we were walking out the door, ended up finding and grabbing them, but only the baby's had anything in it. #5 I put E's shoes on when my wife handed them to me, I put the baby's shoes on. I did #6, didnt really need any change of clothes. #7 was totally forgotten, and this task sent her over the edge in the car. #8 I got the bag, but couldn't find anything but bath towels, somehow this made accompishing this task not possible. She ended up getting the bath towels.
We left the house 5-10 minutes late, and she could not fathom how two adults could run around for 15 minutes and not get it done. She ended up doing most all of the work, and the angrier she got the more impotent I seemed to become. I remember standing in our bedroom trying to figure out what else needed to be done and just drawing an entire blank. When she was yelling to hurry I just locked up and wandered uselessly for much of the time, second guessing my steps and changing direction. I was trying to think of things that needed to be done, and trying to figure out what was the next closest priority.

In the car she started to go into the usual talk, whereas before it was elevated tones and shouting about the things we were frantically doing. She thinks ADHD is a cover and the latest excuse I am coming up with. She sees me taking the Vyvance and noticed no difference, so it must mean I do not have ADHD. She asks what hope there is for any change. I talk about couples therapy and stupidly graze the subject of changing both of our behavior. She objects saying I need to get therapy and deal with my problem, that if I can fix my issues she would be fine so the problem isn't her. She says she doesn't want to understand, she doesn't want to try to fix this. I talk about mitigating symptoms and she says she wishes she could divorce the ADHD, but that it cannot be separated from her husband, it is just who I am. I say I need to try different medication and/or dosages to see if that can help in any way, she says great we can burn another 3 months in limbo clinging to this excuse before realizing that it wont help (The implication being because I do not have ADHD).

Because I forgot the water bottles for us she refused to work out, and said we would just go home after the kids were done (They usually go to the little daycare area). During swim practice I suggested that I could get some water from a vending machine, but this wasn't about not having water. I think part of the reason is that she hates working out and wanted an excuse, but mostly it was to punish me.

4/26/13 - Very AM

I think there was one incident of minor escalated tones a day or so ago, but it is already a total blur. That underscores the importance of noting these things as they happen, because they just fade away.

This morning we were still in bed, and the kids were sleeping in. It was maybe 7:15. She was lying face down, I rolled over and started rubbing her back. With complete honestly I would have loved for things to go further than that, and definitely had impure thoughts in my head. Nevertheless I wasn't pushing that or doing anything more than rubbing her back, and touching her is pleasurable in its own right. She snapped at me to stop so I rolled back, sighed in a quiet, non-melodramatic way, and stared at the ceiling. A few minutes pass in total silence and then she angrily says she can't go back to sleep. She yells at me for only thinking of myself, always doing only what I want to do, and never doing anything just for her. It's always for my personal gratification. To this I'm not really sure what to say. Yeah, I did start giving her a back rub because I like doing it. Giving her pleasure is in no way a selfless act. She probably wanted to be left alone to sleep more, and I ruined that for her. She got out of bed and got in the shower. Everything hunky-dory once she got out.

Never every wake a sleeping

Never ever wake a sleeping mother, especially for something that could appear to be for sex!!!! So you didn't do it just for sex -- but do your realize that "pleasurable in its own right" is still for YOUR gratification, not hers? She wanted to sleep and it appears that you actually knew this and chose to go for your own pleasure and see where it went. And everything is probably not hunky dory. She just managed to get control of her anger.

4/27/13 - PM

The kids are all sick with some stomach thing. They're barely eating anything, so instead of dinner I went out to get Chick-Fil-A. On Friday my wife had asked me to get diaper creme, but I forgot and came home without. So yesterday I stopped at the drug store to get some. I happened to go through the vitamin aisle and saw some fish oil pills on sale. Years ago I took them, but ran out at one point and got out of the habit. So I bought a huge bottle and got a 2nd free. Ended up being about $15 per bottle for 320 1200mg capsules. I came home with food and these items, and she saw the receipt. She flipped out that I spent close to $30 dollars on fish oil pills, and said they would be much cheaper on amazon. She demanded that I return them and yelled, saying things like I should just never buy anything because I always screw up or make the wrong decision. In many of our altercations I see how I've messed something up and most of the time I agree with her. In this instance I didn't engage and argue back, but she's being ridiculous. You can understand her attitude given all our other problems.

I went on amazon later that night and it turns out the price is just about the same. We can use amazon gift cards she has and order with other things to get free shipping, so it would probably be a better deal in the end. I tell her this and agree to take the pills back to the drug store. She says she is over it and doesn't care what I do.

How can something as petty as buying a useful item on a whim and getting a relatively good deal on it be so contentious? When I get really frustrated like this I just wonder why she can't just decide to be mellow, or decide to not stress about some stupid thing, or decide to have sex, or decide to not be miserable. I guess one of the benefits of ADHD is that I can just decide to make these things my reality, and run with them. If you fake it and get into the swing of things, you generally realize that things are pretty nice that way, and soon you aren't faking it anymore. Maybe this is something that neurotypical people do not do, because it can so often be dangerous.

She asked you to do something

She asked you to do something simple that she thought would be "safe" -- go get diaper cream. Non-adhd'ers don't just "decide to be mellow" when they constantly have to look over someone else's shoulder to make sure they aren't messing up.

Why can't ADHDer's just call and ask their spouse's opinion? If you did that before doing anything that you hadn't agreed on beforehand, she could trust you! Yes, neurotypical people DO NOT just do things on a whim and just go on with "being happy" and never look back. That's why their lives work much better than the lives of ADHDers. Complex lives require planning. And if you just act on a whim, she has to suffer the consequences. She wants to plan and look for the best prices. Doesn't matter whether or not they were any cheaper. This is how she makes life work for the two of you, and you bypassed her system of coping.

The key point is this: you must agree on EVERYTHING beforehand. No surprises. This would surely enable her to feel more trusting of you.

She didn't send me out to get

She didn't send me out to get diaper cream. I went out for food, and remembered that we needed it. There was no expectation of anything from the drug store on her part. I know the talk about deciding to be mellow was a cheap shot, and said out of frustration. I won't defend that.

Call and ask my spouse's opinion on buying something for me personally that was a reasonably good deal, and a relatively insignificant amount of money? Perhaps with ADHD dynamics in mind it would just be better to go ahead and get preapproval, because everything else is so raw. Like an alcoholic avoiding meeting friends in a bar even if they themselves don't order any drinks.

I am grateful for all of her planning and consideration, but there are times when my coping mechanisms are more appropriate than hers. Still, you have a point that assuming this isn't true would probably be helpful towards building trust. It is a balancing act between consultation and pleasing her by performing tasks without having to be asked.

You wrote this: "On Friday my

You wrote this: "On Friday my wife had asked me to get diaper creme, but I forgot and came home without." I ask my husband to make notes, but he won't do it, so I expect things to be forgotten. I don't get mad anymore, just get a feeling of expected disappointment. Why is it so hard to write things down? I keep the notepad on my phone and calendar filled up. 

I personally think the $30 on fish oil capsules is a non issue, but my husband is "pretty" good about watching his spending and asking me if it's in our budget to buy certain things that he wants/needs. Something is causing her to overreact on some issues. If ya'll are the type to keep a tight budget, then your capsules WOULD set her on edge, but in our house, we just buy our perceived needs. We also like deals even if more is spent at one time. Sounds like she might need you to "check in" when making purchases or an underlying issue needs addressing.  Something certainly set her off, but it could be something non related. 

Yes I forgot when I was out

Yes I forgot when I was out doing things on Friday, so I already blew it, but in this Saturday outing I got that trigger somehow. I've flirted a bit with android apps for task scheduling and nothing seems to be what I'm looking for. What would be perfect is an app that I could just do speech-to-text, and have the scheduled reminders work that way as well. So hit a button on your phone, talk about the event, tell it aurally when to remind, and then have it remind from there. It needs to be something that can be done in a few seconds at most. Still looking around for that. Since I'm an IT guy I guess I could just create one if I got desperate enough. I don't make my living programming, but it isn't foreign.

I don't spend money generally. I will go get things we need but mostly it is eating out or paying for groceries. Almost always activities where we are all together. The job change that is creating insurance complexity re: starting therapy is one in which my income basically doubled. We are a family with autism in the picture though, so I could be making double this new salary and it would probably just go into more therapy. We like to be frugal and my wife is excellent at finding deals, so our lifestyle isn't rising with my income which is good. We don't keep a tight budget, and this upsets her. If we are meeting our financial obligations, and saving a good amount every month I could really care less if there were some overarching structure to our finances. She needs it on her end though to control her spending. It is not usual for her to come back home with $50-$100 in baby clothes or some select new wardrobe items for herself. Rather than the image you probably get of her coming back from the mall with name brand shopping bags, it is more often a trip to goodwill to find the diamonds in the rough. She finds things never worn, 95% off their retail price, and goodwill is just the beginning of her retail resourcefulness. These things absolutely do not bother me, and they aren't irresponsible, but it gives you an idea of where we are and how minor $30 at CVS really is. As you said this is about something else. When I really think about it I doubt it is about any other specific thing, but more related to her stress level and the general issue of dealing with special needs children AND a special needs husband. I often feel like I'm just the object of venting her stress, but since I contribute in a significant way to that stress it doesn't make me a scapegoat.

She is an amazing woman. You are all probably familiar with how we ADHDers can just toss stress by the wayside and charge ahead. People have no idea how much stress autism in the family causes, and indeed it is so severe that I even feel it. Most autistic children are lower functioning, and independent lifestyles are often off the table even in the rosiest of scenarios. We have two extremely high functioning kids, E might just be a weird genius, and you'd think that means less stress. It doesn't really, because we could fail them. If we don't get them the support and resources they need we could actually tear down a future of infinite potential. There are certain breakpoints in brain development and if you don't go hard and fast before certain stages, things start to lock in place. Our life is insane and we look at friends who have one or no children, who both work, and wonder why they aren't in total bliss with money to burn. Everyone has their own challenges though, so that last sentence is more tongue-in-cheek than anything else.

Your family situation is a

Your family situation is a lot to deal with, jackrungh.  I admire you and your wife for focusing on getting your children the best help and education possible.

It's worth mentioning again

It's worth mentioning again that I was most angry and reactive when I still loved my husband. I calmed down once I gave up a little.....and then a lot. The anger sucks, but for me and mine, it meant I still cared. 

That lack of anger is the

That lack of anger is the more tragic state of being. If she ever gets to the point where she doesn't rage, and just disengages, then I know it will be absolutely over. I wish the best for you seeking a healthy future, but hearing of couples reaching this point really hurts my heart.


My husband of 3 months has already, pretty much, fully disengaged. Has an appt. with Dr. next week "to discuss ADHD diagnosis and how to treat". However, I am feeling hopeless that he will be truthful with his Dr. as he has been blaming everything in our new marriage on me, behind my back, to my OWN family members. He initially was joyful and optimistic when we landed on an answer to all the sudden conflict in our marriage due to his inability to focus, follow through, stop lying, and impulsive spending almost immediately became a problem. He just this minute grabbed and is eating (outside) a raw hot dog in his attempt to not be around me at all. I approach gently, it doesn't work. Leads increasingly to sudden wrathful outbursts. Sane discussions are already not possible if they even touch on "real" things that we must deal with. If I shut up I'm wrong, if I speak nothings right. My heart goes out to all of you.


barneyarff's picture

Lauren I've thought a lot


I've thought a lot about what you wrote.

and even though my DH is going to counseling and is trying to treat me better, I've noticed that since Feb. I don't love him anymore.  I don't even really like him.  I put up with him like a roommate who (lately) hasn't caused enough trouble to outweigh his financial contributions.  So, why fight with someone who really means very little to you in your life?  

we almost got into an argument yesterday because we tried to do something together.  But when I realized that it was silly for me to expect him to be reasonable, I just stopped the discussion because it's just silly to try to open old wounds.  I just don't need to engage with him anymore.   Freeing really.

The kids don't see us fight.  I can be polite to him.... just like I would be polite to a stranger.  He's too self involved to even notice.  In fact he probably thinks his little improvements have solved all the big problems over the last 38 years.   Idiot.


That sounds exactly like me.

That sounds exactly like me. EXACTLY! It's easier to stay, plus he'll likely fail horribly if I leave before Feb 2014. He's planning to move with me back to FL even though our marriage is dead.  I might let him, but he better not become a burden. We've only been together 3.5 yrs, but I've been alone enough to know what I need from a relationship.....and what he has to offer is not it. I did my best for nearly 3 of those years, then said "to heck with it" since I got barely anything in return and, of course, he couldn't make relevant, relationship improving changes. My husband has become more passive and I have become more mellow, which makes it a lot easier, but that isn't what I want out of a marriage, especially such a short one. 


I feel the same way.  I was

I feel the same way.  I was angry for a long time, but I am becoming more resigned to the whole situation.  It makes me sad that I'm not that angry, if that makes any sense.  I do feel better about me, now that I have let go.  He posted something on facebook about meeting his soulmate so many days ago, and it didn't move me at all.  I used to think that he wasn't the lying type, but I have caught him lying recently and I am over it.  I am polite, but that is about all I feel the need for right now...

How can it be contentious?

Because that's not what it was about.  There ought to be a few more vows in the marriage ceremony.  I promise not to get mad about one thing, but show my anger about something else.  I promise not to use always and never when talking to my spouse. 

It sounds like you weren't "in trouble" for buying the fish oil, but rather for paying not getting a good deal?  Then why say you always screw up, why flip out, why yell?  Why not say, oh, baby I can get you a better deal than that.  Return those and I'll show you a bargain!"  Why not that?   If you have a history of unplanned expenditures outside the agreed upon budget, this makes sense.  It ain't right, because it isn't direct and honest, but it makes sense.  All couples should have an amount they can spend without "consulting" the other.  And would she consult you before making a similar purchase?   Non-spouses need to treat their ADHD spouses like adults, whether they want to or not.  Spouses, whether or not ADD is involved, should develop financial operations that work to make them both comfortable.  If one is more frugal, and one is more carefree, agree to cover the essentials with joint funds, then agree to let each save or spend a set amount to their heart's content.  If I (the non-spouse) had to ask my husband before making a purchase like this one (in the context of my personal budget) I'd be offended.  But that's just us.    Best wishes.   P.S.  I know you didn't engage, and I don't either when I'm being "yelled at".  Too bad it isn't possible in the moment to say, honey, are you made I bought them, or mad I paid too much?  Her wishing you'd bought them on Amazon versus the local drug store just seems like not enough to "flip out."  Best wishes again.

carathrace's picture

More vows

Another new vow that ought to be in the marriage ceremony:  I promise to ask myself, "Is this the hill you want to die on?"  I read your posts, Jack, and it sounds like your wife makes everything a battle.  And that you spend a lot of your time walking on eggs.  This is unsustainable.

The situation with the diaper cream and the fish oil tablets is familiar.  Like yesterday.  I've moved in with my mom because she's dying and needs constant care.  My ADHD hubby and I are separated for 5 days a week and not happy about it but nothing we can do.  He was to come over yesterday and I asked him to write down a few things and bring them to Mom's when he came.  He remembered everything but the eggs.  It's pretty constant, this forgetting.  I'm sad about it and wish it was different, but IT'S NOT THE HILL I WANT TO DIE ON.  When he realized he'd forgotten the eggs, he went to the store & bought some.  I can understand perfectly your forgetting the diaper creme and coming home with something you hadn't gone out to buy.  That's normal for ADHD.  But if your wife is trying to deny that you have it, then you have a problem.

Your wife seems unusually testy to me.  I keep wondering what it's like to be her.  Her life hasn't turned out like she expected.  She has autistic children and a husband with ADHD.  She probably does know you have ADHD, but maybe in her head it's like "I can't handle one more thing, so I'll pretend he's acting this way because he wants to."   She feels stressed most of the time.  And it doesn't sound to me like she has learned very many ways of dealing with this stress.  So she snips and snaps which puts you on the defense, which freaks out your brain and makes it go blank, which makes her snap more.  If ever a couple needed a counselor, it would be you guys.  Unless you're a pathological liar Jack, it sounds to me like you are trying to improve your marriage, which is more than most ADHD spouses represented at this site are doing.

Have you ever tried this.  Tell your wife you would like her to do something for you.  You would like her to write down a list of the things that stress her out the most.  Then you would like her to rank them from 1 being what bothers her most on down.  Tell her she has x number of days to work on this list.  Then set a date, day and time, for the two of you to go over this list together.  Whatever you do, DON'T FORGET THIS DATE.  As she reads the list, listen empathetically without responding.  Then, starting with #1 and telling her you want to help reduce her stress because you love her, ask her how you could help make it easier for her to live with each thing on the list.  Write down everything she says.  Then, to the best of your ability, work on doing the top 5 right away.  Maybe you can do more, but you want to show her you heard her, you heard what is most important TO HER, and you're going to do your level best to be consistent with these top 5.  Even if they sound stupid to you.  If one of her stressors is "your ADHD", or "the kids", ask her to be more specific -- what stresses you the most about my ADHD?  This is a fact-finding mission.  You are not doing it to justify yourself.  You are not doing it for any other reason than to know her better, learn how she ticks, and be of help.  So it's important that if she starts to rant about you, that you not defend yourself, just to say, what about that would you like me to change?

Just an idea.


I think she has a conflicted

I think she has a conflicted opinion of neurological disorders. Her gut reaction is to play the suck it up and deal with it card, because that is what she herself does in spite of adversity. Then again as a teacher and a wife she has seen the impact meds have. She always notices when I attempt to wean off Wellbutrin. So she doesn't think its a bunch of nonsense, but neither is she very understanding of it. The conclusion she arrives at most naturally is that treatment for a mental health issue is an excuse more often than not. Like I said, shes conflicted on this. In calm times shes rational about it and "on board." In stressful times and arguments, it is just an excuse for me to do whatever the hell I want.

I can't even get a firm grasp on what it is like to be her. If I get to a healthy place and stop making serious consequences flare up due to inaction, I guess I would be perfectly suited to be where we are. It takes a lot to get under my skin, and an ever-present, difficult reality like autism only weighs down on me when I think about it. For her it seems to weigh her down 24/7. When we buy this house and get therapies/insurance all settled, we will have far fewer fights. It has always waxed and waned according to the amount of full stress immersion she has to bear. If our stress level is insane I just compartmentalize (Too well, obviously) and never get wet. Total agreement on the counselor.

I would be an amazing pathological liar. I flirt with alternate realities to pretty-up the facts on the ground, but that's about as far as it goes. I do it automatically in daily interaction unless I specifically tell myself not to. Much of the time it really isn't much of a distortion, and would be like a PR firm's best work with the truth. I have resolved to stop doing this with my wife, but man can I charm the pants off a stranger. I'm trying even harder to avoid it here, because I want to actually get some help. I was seeing a psychologist years ago who really did help me get out of the depths of depression, but once we went out of crisis mode and I was functioning as a member of society again, I presented the best possible version of my psyche to her. I never lied directly, but she got the impression that things were a lot healthier mentally than they actually were. The result was a relatively ineffective use of therapy. I don't care about controlling other people or exerting any kind of sway. I think I simply want them to think the best of me. When I talk about the southern trait of presenting nice for company, that is the core of it.

For the walking on eggshells reason you mentioned, my first reaction to this homework assignment is to shy away. I'm afraid it will just be me asking for more effort on her part to fix things. I want to do it though, as it would be something completely new, and a manner of direct communication about the relationship that we almost never have. I might email or text her with this. Odd that my wife is the one person I feel unable to engage with to win hearts & minds. I will try.

"This is unsustainable."
So say we all.

I encourage all people with

I encourage all people with ADHD who acknowledge that ADHD is a brain disorder to be aware that reactions of their spouses or partners or other people might be related to brain-based dysfunctions as well, dysfunctions over which those individuals probably  have no more or less control than the person with ADHD has over his or her behavior.  Anxiety and depression are common disorders.  A non-ADHD spouse's negative behavior might be caused by anxiety or depression.  If your  non-ADHD spouse is supposed to cut you slack because your neurons are misfiring, then please your spouse some slack, too.

4/4/13 - AM,PM,EveryM

It seems over several threads in the forum the subject of intimacy is dominating discussion. I'm not even sure where im going with that observation, but I feel the need to post and vent. Today has been horrible to the point where I have to stop myself from looking like someone shot my puppy in front of her. Maybe I'm having a self-justifying pity party, who knows.

Saturday is gymnastics lessons at the Y. We both woke up around 7:45 this morning and hadn't started talking or moving around. I think we both enjoyed the fact that the kids were asleep and continued to be way past the normal amount of time. Last night I tried to sleep with some contact to her as I usually do. Nothing suggestive, just striking that balance between closeness and too much heat generation. Her unconscious self was pulling away from my unconscious self all night. She must have been hot at one point because when we woke up she was topless. Half-awake I spooned with her just enjoying skin contact, and put my hand on her hip. I'm not starting anything here just being comfortable and stealing some early morning childless moments. She pushes my hand away, moves to her side, grabs the iPad, and starts browsing, facebooking, something. After a night of again total disconnection I am feeling this action as if it were a slap in the face. Normally I would try to interact with her and smooth things over, but I'm so disgusted I get out of bed and shower. She hops in a few minutes later right before I get out, and normally I would linger in the shower to talk to her and appreciate the view, but I move on.

Gymnastics starts at 9:00 so so we get the kids up and have to move quickly to get ready. I suck at getting ready, and these logistics are not ADHD's forte. However I'm so unnerved by how this day has started I'm on overdrive. I help her dress them, take them downstairs, cook breakfast, get their sippys, get my workout close on, get water bottles for us, and get the kids eating. All during this time she is criticising me and doing her usual worried-about-being-late flip-out whenever we have to leave the house. At one point I'm back upstairs getting their shoes together and pause in the hallway for literally 5 seconds trying to remember what I came up for (diaperbag), and she snaps at me to not just stand there doing nothing and help her. I swear whenever we leave the house she is incapable of being a rational human being. If we are past the time she has determined is "late" it is just a nightmare. So I take the kids out to the car, and buckle them. We leave 3 minutes "late": 08:33. We arrive at the Y around 08:45 and sit doing nothing for ten minutes waiting for E's gymnastics class to start. At this age its parent-assisted so she goes into it with E while I watch. R has moved up to the next class so I no longer go with him. When E is done we drop her off at the gym's daycare, pick R up, and he does his class. I skip the last half of his class to go register for swim and gymnastics for the next 6-week session. When he is done he joins R and T in daycare and we go work out. There isn't enough time for cardio today so we just do weights.

Last night we went to a meetup group for families with autism. Laura's friend set it up and specifically said it was for toddler-age families. We get to the restaurant and her friend is the only other household with young children. Theres a 57 year old aspie with his 25 year old aspie son, a mom with a 19 year old aspie who was diagnosed two years ago, an artist doing research into the autism community with an eye towards starting her own art therapy practice, a dad with a tween autistic son and a hell of a lot of hatred for his ex wife ( he came alone ), and a couple with a 16 year old aspie who attempted suicide just recently. What a group. We get there at 7:00, having come from the Y (We had swim lessons for the kids that night and were able to work out a bit longer that time). We get seated at 8 or 8:30, it's a party of 16 and people trickled in. We sit down, get food around 9, and have to excuse ourselves when the children finally gave out around 9:30. We did not anticipate this timeline, and the kids' normal bedtime is 7:30. On the drive home my wife goes off about the artist lady joining a support group to make money off the desperate parents or some such pessimistic ranting. She asks if I agree and I say well maybe she legitimately wants to get a sense of the dynamics of autism to make an educated first-stab at her practice. Not agreeing with her is a bad tactical move and she goes on this long rant about how of course that's how I see it in my fairy tale world where everyone is decent and everything is Ok. I stop talking and we move on. The kids get to bed, and it is so late by then we almost immediately turn in. She rolls over and I'm lying there as usual, feeling about as alone as it is possible to feel. I guess this set the stage for this morning's horrors.

Yeah I know I drive her crazy with my inattention, and I have a large hand in creating the context she does these things in, but some times she is just mean. Sometimes she takes things out on me because I'm the one there and she's already so legitimately upset with me for other grievances that I make a great target. Sometimes I think if I had any self respect ( And randomly it occurs to me that this is very different from self-esteem, which I have in no short supply) that I would call her on it, but I really dislike fighting, and the rage coming from her when I do that shuts me down. Today I feel atypically mad at her and want to bring to the floor all of HER issues and behaviors that contribute to our marital strife. Turn the tables a little bit. Instead I'm venting here. Oh and yesterday she used her vibrator while I went into the office for a big meeting, and she has such little attention to detail that she closed her underwear drawer on it, half sticking out. Her using it doesn't even bother me, and if I were to judge getting off I'd have to judge myself, but when we haven't had sex in over a month, and every night I lie there while she rolls over and goes to bed without a word, it does bother me. If she wanted to get off I can and have accomplished that faster than her vibrator, with similarly no demand of reciprocation. This isn't about sex, this is about our poisonous relationship, poison that I have largely injected. Poison that makes her unable and undesirous to engage in this stuff with me. This vulgar griping is not a defensible position, and especially the female nons should tear this paragraph to rhetorical ribbons, but I'm posting without a filter here. Because I am feeling like dirt, and angry, I am not posting as promising-ADHD-husband-man. He will resume service, with the usual grammatical precision and eloquence, shortly.

5/5/13 - AM

My wife is frustrated with the house hunt. I work from home and she's planning on homeschooling the children. As a result it matters very little where in the state we actually choose to live. If I have to commute to the corporate office one and a half hours one day every few months, who cares? We only care about being around some acceptable level of "stuff to do," and accessible speech/OT/PT for the kids. So we are weirding out realtors who aren't used to casting a net in the entire state.

We have been trolling Zillow and other such listings of houses usually every night and having lived in one home together already, we know exactly what we do and do not want. When we apply these requirements to the entire state, the list of houses worth a second look is a few dozen at most. We want 3-5 acres, 5 or more bedrooms, preferably some furnished outbuilding, vaulted ceilings in the main living area, open, well-lit floor plans, an "eat-in" kitchen, and hardwood floors downstairs at least. Two or three dead ringers in our price range have come in our sights but one was snagged up by another buyer right as we found it, and the other is a lakefront property with neighboring houses that are selling for half as much, not a good sign.

So anyway this morning she is venting about not being able to engage with any realtors without any kind of target location. I see the logic here but don't want to limit our options, since we are being so incredibly picky. She is really tired of looking and looking and feeling like we always start back at square one. She wants to see some progress, and thinks we need to just settle on an area so a realtor will work for us. She tries to engage me in conversation but I don't have much to say. She wants somewhere no more than 1 1/2 hours from my work that will not involve the massive city I work in in our daily lives and activities. She hates the traffic and the masses of people. The city is so massive that 1 1/2 hours takes you not very much past the furthest suburbs. So I'm not really communicating well, and when I do talk I fall into lawyerish manner, where I say words but arrive at no concrete solutions. This drives her crazy and she launches into how talking to me is useless, and I don't give a damn about finding a house because I'll just talk about it and "research" things until judgment day. I'm putting all of the responsibility on her like with everything else, because I wont make a decision.

When we get into this kind of discussion I get hopeless. I have no way out, and nothing I can say that is a right or justifiable answer. When I emphatically try to engage I'm being "fake." This is where I play the role of very concerned and supportive husband who says all the right conversational buzzwords. I'm not trying to put on an act, and now I don't don this attitude because it just enrages her further. I feel like a man at the bottom of a well. There are no turns to take or motions to make that can possibly lead to anything productive. So I just sit there miserably.

Easy one

I'll put on my Mom hat for a minute here:  I suggest you do, indeed, pick one or two communities to focus your search.  Your wife is right, realtors don't work statewide.  If you don't find anything due to your very specific list, then move on to another community quickly.  And lastly, it sounds like she is more invested in this issue than you are, so let it go. 

I think her main frustration

I think her main frustration in discussion with me is that I let everything go. I told her it seems like the best thing to do was continue the hunt online and engage realtors when we found something. This is what we have been doing though, and whenever we are working on a project where forward motion is not evident, she gets extremely frustrated. It is simultaneously the reason she gets so many things done, and the reason I feel so many of those things are done poorly. She launches ahead to the finish line without any kind of regard, just to get it complete. We came to some kind of resolution when she talked to a realtor friend of hers. It seems like if we can get a handful of houses with promise in one city, then it is feasible to go out on a run-through of that principality.
carathrace's picture


I was away from this forum for a couple days so I must have missed it.  Jack, why are you moving?  Where? 

And when you describe her coldness to you over and over.....why?

Last April we moved from

Last April we moved from Oklahoma to Georgia because autism resources there are horrible. we sold our house and are temporarily staying in an empty house owned by my parents, who have moved out of state. My family is much larger with more resources, so being in the south plugs us in to many more opportunities and support systems. By a combination of hard work and prudent savings, we have maintained a responsible financial position as a household. We do not know any autism families with healthy financials, but with the flexibility of my career and the conscientious knowledge of my wife, we have a powerful combination of skills. So we are ready to buy a house for the long term, and since we are so self-sufficient, it'll be our compound. As far as mentioning feeling her disconnect over and over I dunno. Pity party? Last night we went on a date to see Iron Man 3, and had a great time. She spent much of the movie cuddled up to me in some fashion, and had her hand on my inside thigh frequently. Got home, went to bed, I started to massage her back, she said, "no." I removed my hands, waited a minute or two, rolled away from her. She rolled over and spooned me, falling almost immediately asleep. I stayed up for 20 more minutes or so, and cried silently. I'm feeling like I am being ridiculous to have this reaction. After all, she is expressing a bond. Nevertheless there is this moment every night where I can feel her making the decision to avoid intimacy with me. For whatever the reason she can't or wont go there, it hurts. I'm not self justifying or rationalizing here. I'm not making any conclusions or judgments. I'm just feeling pain. Perhaps the healthiest way forward is to stop giving these feelings power, and working to change the things I have control over, so that she can reconnect, but it is hard to get past.

5/8/13 - PM

This isn't a fight. I'm just noting something. Maybe this is ultra-rationalization from a typical male, but the longer we go without sex the more despondent I become. I really start to feel unloved, unwanted, and I am shocked by how my perception of the relationship is colored by it. Well suffice it to say that I'm feeling pretty connected today, but something she said last night changed my perception of things. We were lying in bed enjoying the afterglow and having had quite an excellent session she wondered how long it had been. I said it had been a very long time, and she joked that anything past a week is an eternity in my alternate reality. She was thinking a week or two, but we knew the last time was after a date night so she tracked down a picture from dinner that night. It had been almost five weeks, and she was shocked.

So the thing that I realized was that she probably wasn't actively avoiding intimacy for an extremely extended period of time (This one was very likely the longest we have ever gone). Rather, she was operating in her own customized reality. She wasn't sitting there every night for 5 weeks turning over and rejecting any connection. At worst due to our relationship issues she was doing that for what she thought was a week or two. The former is a scary indication that the bond is in tatters, the latter is a warning that the bond could be a hell of a lot stronger. It is a crude metric, but intimate moments seem to reflect the health of the relationship. It is a concrete yardstick my ADHD brain can use to counter any delusion I might have about how well we are doing.

As Rosered has said, the reality is often not ADHD spouse living with healthy neurotypical spouse. We all have our own issues, and to get to a good place as a couple we need to step out of our own heads when assessing cause and effect.

From the 11th to the 19th we

From the 11th to the 19th we went across the country to visit her family. I worked from there instead of from home. During this time there were several incidents of exasperation and frustration. A few times there was a few minutes of painful discussion, but we haven't had a real miserable fight. I'm too exhausted to go back and try to remember the situations, so I will just skip over that time period and try to pick up from now. She is out of town training for this new job that she got, so I'm alone with the three kids. Nothing makes you appreciate your spouse quite as much as not having them there. At any rate, things are going pretty well. They're getting fed three squares and going to bed on time.

A day or two before she left we got in a little spat and I was so angry I could barely see straight. Yes I was being inattentive, but it became clear that she was just heaping criticisms for the purpose of heaping criticisms. She began with legitimate gripes and then moved on to annoyances that weren't even caused by my action OR inaction. Normally I just go into my shell and shut down, yielding the floor to her and despondently agreeing to the truth of pretty much everything she says. As I've said my crimes are inaction, not quality of action or any kind of negative action. In this case though I was just mad at being shat on so thoroughly. Being used as her stress outlet beyond the degree to which I deserve it. I never said anything, I just got quiet and left to get some household chores done. As always, my most rational option going forward from those moments seems to be productivity. The difference is that now I'm thinking about our relationship constantly. Going over the themes between us and our issues is a several-times-per-day activity, and I feel like my emotions as an active participant in the marriage are coming back online. I feel like when I get into therapy I might actually have some shit to unload rather than vague and very analytical assessments of the objective state of the relationship. That clinical bent with past therapy was probably not really very helpful, as hammering out an impartial overview of the dynamics with your spouse and being steeped in a world of delusion are not mutually exclusive abilities.

Shortly after this funk we were happy and playful again. The juxtaposition is jarring. Of course yeah we aren't fine in those moments, but at least we both have the wherewithal to enjoy one another even if it glosses over undercurrents of division. We had an affectionate evening (that is not a euphemism for anything), and parted happily as I dropped her off at the airport.

Being apart from her is way more distressing than I thought it would be, and I feel like it has very little to do with the kids. That kind of stress and daily grind type activity is exactly the stuff that doesn't wear down on me in the slightest. It'd be great if I could naturally remember to engage in it 100% of the time instead of 70%, but it doesn't feel draining. I'm more bothered by not being around her, and I'm finding that I'm being a little clingy with the text messages. She's busy in training and doing the usual corporate work stuff that I know so well from my career, so I totally get not responding for hours on end and only having time for a summary phone call at the end of the day as well as being too tired to want any more contact than that. Still, I feel extremely insecure without her and am ashamed to admit that it did cross my mind as a positive that she is on her period for the entire trip. That is totally unfounded, and I have no justifiable reason to think she would go that way, but the state of our relationship is so poor, and my general insecurity about our bond is so great that my mind went there. I guess the dearth of trust goes both ways. I feel like dirt.

5/24/13 - PM

Today we went out to lunch and to the 2nd birthday party of one of Lauras friend's daughter. Lunch was great. I had a Blue Moon, she had a Sangria. She is a lightweight and was feeling pretty good. We went to the party and things were great. The party was fine, but during that and after on the way home she was so mean to me. I helped at the party, I always had at least one child in my custody, and parented the whole time. On the ride home I put my hand on her knee affectionately and she pushed it off and told me to leave her alone. We spent the rest of the 20 minute drive home in silence, though I think she took a nap for most of that. The whole time I was seething. Not angry in the normal sense, just despondent and pushed to an extreme of emotion that I'm unaccustomed to. I did not emote anything then or since, no sighing or attitude. I know our relationship is in bad shape to a large degree because of my issues, but she just isn't on board at all, and shoots completely from her emotional hip. Granted, we havent started therapy so it is unfair to criticize for her not being supportive. I'm not saying anything I was feeling was justified or judging who was right or wrong, but I was so dejected. I guess this is a consequence of being emotionally available, and really thinking about the relationship instead of just moving to the next pleasant fantasy world. In those lowest moments I wonder about leaving her, and how a departure that would be from my usual modes of operation. I've never initiated a breakup with anyone, and there can be no doubt about why that is. It isn't a serious notion, but it popped in my head. All of these unfamiliar thought processes popping in my head of late.

Last night I picked her up from the airport. She was coming home from the business trip to Philly. I got out of the car to hug her, and tried to kiss her. She pecked me on the cheek and said we needed to get the car out of the dropoff zone. We conversed normally, no standoffs or any issues. At night we went to sleep and I put my arm around her. She rolled away. I rolled over and turned my back to her. Cried again. I'm trying harder than I ever have. I'm maintaining focus on this. Because of that fucking focus, I'm actually feeling pain and not ditching it. I've opened myself up to loving her, and the other side of the coin is it's now possible to hate her. I don't mean that, I just thought it. God damned thoughts that cannot be engineered.

Love hurts if you are doing it alone

This seems to me to be the thing ADDers decide to do with their thoughts.....not wanting to feel pain, they focus on something else.  OR not wanting to feel the burdens of responsibility, the embarrassment of failure, the fear of not doing something right, they focus on something else.....drink, fun, jokes, hobbies, video games, political discussions....whatever IS NOT the thing that is the most important and scary.

You said, "Because of that fucking focus, I'm actually feeling pain and not ditching it. I've opened myself up to loving her, and the other side of the coin is it's now possible to hate her."

Wow! Welcome to the land of non ADD!  Congratulations for working to get to this point of feeling love and hate. Love and hate and fear are why a couple in a relationship WORK at the relationship and communicate in truth so that trust and well-being can be shared and that the LOVE can overcome the fear and hate....that is what a mature love IS.  2 people joining in walking together willing to share their pain and sorrows together....not hiding and keeping it all inside.... not squelching feelings. You are opening yourself up to a relationship with all the pain and work that might take.  Imagine that all these years, your wife has been open to these pains and the work and she was doing it alone.  Imagine how she might feel about the trust between you now if you have not been open to the honest work in the past.  That is why she must put up the barrier/boundary between you...for her own well-being apart from you...because the dependable trust she wanted and needed and gave to you has not been reciprocated. 

A part of me feels like I am giving information to the enemy when I post what goes on in my feelings.  As though you might use this information to say the right words at your counseling session to get though the sessions and then when/if she comes on board, you will relax and let her do the work alone again. I am not saying this because I know you, but because that is how I feel with my dh....anything to get through the "now".  How does an ADDer do the maintenance work of a long time love commitment? Are you open to loving her long term? Because it does involve feelings and compromise and sharing truth for the good of the marriage.

Love hurts if you are doing it alone.  

This is progress, but now

This is progress, but now both of us feel utterly alone. I would have said more here but I need to post again in light of recent events. Some of it might have to do with that helping the enemy theme you've mentioned.

5/26/13 - PM

Im going to do this one without a ton of exposition. I don't have time to sit here constructing a thesis.

Tonight went to hell in a handbasket, and it happened just 20 minutes ago. We fed the kids, and took them up for showertime. I washed them and got them in their PJs, and I guess Laura went downstairs. I read them some books like normal and put them to bed with sippies. They weren't having any of that so I had to come into their room (R & E share a room) a few times. I was browsing this forum in between these futile attempts to be stern. I go in the fourth time and both are jumping on R's bed. I had told her that she was going to get a spanking if she didn't get in bed, so she got a pat on the butt. R then informed me that he had peed in his bed. About then Laura comes up to see what's going on. Their jumping has woken up the baby in the bedroom next to theirs, so hes crying in his crib now. We typically give them Melatonin (a herbal sleep aid), and in recent weeks have taken to putting E down first, and then putting R to bed once she's asleep. I had completely forgotten to give them the Melatonin, and I put them in bed at the same time. I have no idea why I forgot the Melatonin. She just got back from a business trip, I had been taking care of all three kids for the past few days, and had not once forgotten to give them their "candy." I had fallen out of the habit of putting them to bed separately for whatever reason I don't know. It isn't as if there is a selfish upside to putting them down at once. All R typically does is play a short game on his iPad so he impacting my activities whatever they may be. So my wife is furious because of all this bedlam and doesn't understand how I could just forget the Melatonin. She doesn't understand how since we agreed on putting them down separately I could have no idea why I didn't. I was on autopilot, and the past week or two that autopilot (minus forgetting the drugs) has worked out.

So she's fuming at me and asking what I was doing while my children were raising cain and waking the baby. She is convinced that I was dicking around on Facebook with my usual "political crap." This is the point in the conversation where I would conventionally lie to improve reality, but over the past few months I'm trying my hardest not to do this. I say I've been browsing my ADHD forum. She says, "Oh great, another thing for you to obsess over while your children scream." She says I need to stop wasting my time there because it obviously isn't doing anything. She says I need to sit and have a serious think about my shit, and just get this crap done. Just will it to get done. This is how she fights through her problems, and she cannot imagine a smart person like her husband being unable to noodle that one out. The logical conclusion then is that I'm choosing to be this way. At this point I'm totally despondent. I can't even describe the sense of worthlessness, the lack of hope and sapping of all good feeling. I feel listless and ... as I said I can't describe it. I'm sorry, I'm frantic, I'm ineffectual, but now (only in the last week or two do I feel this new emotion) I am also angry as hell inside. I don't show any of this but for instance while she was out of the room I ripped the sheets off the bed and cast them into the hall as violently as possible. You know how box springs have those plastic guards on the corners that are usually stapled in. The staples invariably pop out and in the violent motion with the sheets I cut my calf on the exposed staple. I am not even sure where my anger is directed. At her for being so angry; acting in a way completely not helpful to the situation? At me for totally blotting out details that would have made the night smooth sailing? I have no idea, but this is a strange and new sensation. I have never known such anger. I know the appropriate counsel to this post is get in couples therapy and get on with treatment. That needs to start, and can as soon as May is over. I feel like the anger, the emotional engagement, the lack of any kind of internal filtering or alternate reality is a positive. At the very least it is something new, not part of the same cycle that has happened for years.

The point she made about the forum though highlights one of the dangers I've felt. Using this as a crutch. I can't start therapy yet due to insurance bullshit, so I feel like this is better than ignorant bliss, but in a real way I have replaced Facebook discussions with this. I'm stopping myself from typing right now to put R to bed, but I probably should have done it 10 mins ago, and instead was typing here. I put him to bed and my wife was back in our room. We had as healthy a discussion as is possible to have about all this. No solutions offered, I have no idea why I do this shit. I need to get help. She's not at all hopeful that it will change anything, and I don't blame her. That anger was and is all gone. Now all that remains is the sadness and the thought that there is something so incredibly wrong with me. I feel trapped inside it. I think I got a little bit of that desperation across to her, and that it changed her perception somewhat. I'm not sure what else to write. This is such an insane rollercoaster. I need to get into therapy. We need to get into therapy so she can get some sense of hope for how things can be better. How she can have a partner who makes decisions and can be trusted with things. My delusion usually took care of the negative self-image problems, but it isn't doing it now. For the first time I'm not scoffing at the self-worth symptom listed for depression and ADHD.


These feeling are common for me.  The anger, resentment, confusion, feeling unloved.  All we can know about all of us is the perception that we are willing to write about here as WE see it.  

Here is what you ARE doing: You say you are financially supporting the family.  You are doing more than most ADDers that are complained about. That is the first thing a father/husband can do for his family so that the mom can comfortably be a mom.  In today's world when most young mothers are working, it gets complicated and there is not enough energy and time in the day to have everything taken care of and relax and share pleasantries.  I know that is my biggest resentment..that dh does not support his family financially or plan for our future financially.  

You ARE here looking for insight about what is happening in your relationship and willing to FEEL the confusion and pain and fears.  We can't know the reality of balance of any relationship here on this thread. But you do share enough angst to need to get it out in writing (like me).

You ARE taking your turn taking care of the kids.

Here is my point for you.  What you have done or didn't do on that night seems VERY SLIGHT.  Most kids don't take melatonin.  I have it to take and it makes only a slight difference, if any at all, on my ability to sleep.  In my view, not giving the kids melatonin is no biggie AT ALL. It is her preference.  Showers EVERY night are not necessary. That is her preference. Getting young kids to sleep at night can be chaos if one or both kids have had sugar or are overtired or just because it happens.  No biggie unless it happens every night.  

You ARE feeling the effects that many of us spouses feel...that we are expected to do the work while the partner sits and criticizes and blames.  You are being too hard on yourself in this night as you are describing it.  Your wife was probably tired from travel. You were tired and nerve-wracked from being the sole caretaker of small children. These nights happen. Children need security and love and firm direction.  A time-out chair is more effective than threat of spanking.  Don't is an old fashioned cruelty (and a butt pat as a punishment is not effective).  Time out chairs let children think about what they did for a moment and takes them OUT of the chaos. Talking to them, after they have sat aside for a while, to understand WHY they should not be doing what they were doing is much better for everyone.  Then the "I wont do it next time" and "I love you" after the understanding.  

Mornings are always better after rest.  Your wife may be actually angry about other things rather than the happenings of that particular night....that she HAS to work, that she was so tired because she HAS to work, that she would have liked to put her children to bed but she was drained from traveling because she HAS to work and be away from her children.   That is how it was with me.  Find out what she was REALLY angry about. When we must let our children be taken care of by someone other than us, it is worrisome. We are angry because we are too tired to take care of our own children....then feeling like we are bad mothers and bad people. The best thing a couple can do is have one person focus to be the competent wage-earner and one be a mom in the house to lovingly bring up children. That is just my own view after seeing many families over two generations try it different ways. I know that it is not always doable financially.  But a man that cannot support his family is not going to get the love and understanding and respect that a man who IS working diligently and hard and smart financially is going to get. Be proud that you are the wage earner and supporter of your family.  It is better for a husband to work to get a raise than for a wife to have to work and pay sitters. If a wife is working too hard and these nights happen (as they do), the mom will be angry.

I am supporting our family

I am supporting our family financially, but I'm not planning for any financial future. I don't plan. I have retirement accounts, investments for the kids, I have, etc, but taking credit for any planning is just ludicrous on my part. Whenever I have gotten a promotion, or just recently when I got a new job that paid significantly more than I was getting, it was always my wife pushing me to change the status quo.

I am involved with the children but one of the things we discussed last night was how she can never rely on me to get things done. This is contrasted by the reality that I can always rely on her. She says sometimes it seems it would be better if I just did nothing so she wouldn't have to wonder about the tasks getting done. Last October I went for the weekend to be the best man at a wedding, and when I got back we had a huge fight. One of the things I remember her screaming at me was that it was better to have all the kids to herself, where she didn't have to rely on me and have me forget this or that thing. She said something like it was easier to have three kids rather than four. Last night before all the havoc went down she was downstairs waiting on me to join her on the back deck . I wasn't aware of these plans but she was wanting to sit out there and have a relaxing drink in the warm summer evening. She was thinking to herself that any moment he will come down and we can sit and talk. Then the crying started. When she told me that during our conversation last night my heart sunk. I would have loved that, and it's the kind of connection that I've been craving. What a different night we might have had, had I been more mindful of the situation with the kids.

The issue with the kids going down is more that we had these discovered tactics, and they were working. For whatever reason I forgot the melatonin, and this is the first night I've done that, so that is an ADHD random slip, but putting them to bed separately is something we've seen to be effective and something I've just not been doing the past week or two. It isn't that it didn't go smoothly; it's that we had these proven techniques, and for some reason I cannot explain to her I "chose" not to use them.

We typically don't spank. It is rarely effective, and often E just laughs at us when we try. Time out is much more utilized, but at bedtime it is most often taking away this or that bedtime object that we use. In this instance I just chose spanking for no reason I can really specify. We always put them in timeout a minute for the number of years they are old, and when we get them up we ask them why they went timeout, give them hugs, and love. But as I said, bedtime isn't the time.

She is just starting this new work-from-home job for some side income, maybe 15 hours a week at most. We are planning an 8-day trip to Disney World for R's fifth birthday in December, and the expectation is that this job will finance those kinds of splurges. All of my income is bills, building a down payment, general savings, or autism therapy. The therapy is essentially the equivalent of having another mortgage payment, so this added income allows us to do the normal fun things a normal family might do. Otherwise she is very much the stay at home mom, and I am very much the bringer of bacon. She's been at home without divided attention since she quit being a teacher 4 years ago. I think we have a good setup, I just need to be better about letting ADHD screw up my household contributions.


Doing good

I hear you. It sounds like you are both functioning well as can be expected with your sons added difficulties and have some good things set up.  And you are willing to do the extra work toward scheduling. I have a feeling that you two will be all right. Both trying hard and intelligent. Angst and frustration is part of marriage - words are said.  In the end, do you trust each other? That is important.

"I have retirement accounts, investments for the kids,"

Keep that up.  Don't let that part of your commitment fail. That is all I needed.  That and trust.  I didn't get that. I will be strapped at retirement.

All of our daily finances are

All of our daily finances are with USAA, which is a wonderful company to work with. It is also incredibly useful to have everything in one portal. I'm in the process of migrating disparate investments and accounts to Vanguard, similarly all in one portal. Like I said I can ride a status quo like nobody's business, but recently I've been trying to tidy up our financial house. Funds and strategies were all relatively OK, but they were/are all over the place. Getting it all together makes keeping the commitment much easier. I recently set up life insurance as well, so she and the kids should be good for quite a while if I keel over.

ASD diagnoses for R and E are tough, and it definitely puts a family into another weight class of stress and difficulty. If all our children were neurotypical it seems like life would be a carefree dream.

I am willing to do hard work, but the problem is I often get distracted and do not contribute as I should. The frustrating part is that most of the chores or obligations I forget to take care of are completely palatable to me. Doing them tears at Laura's soul, but for me I just go to a zen place and have no distaste for the task. It isn't doing work, it's being triggered to start it.

The trust is my main worry. Her trust in me is in tatters. For sure, she can (and does) trust me to not go on a bender, buy a sports car on a whim, or screw the hot girl at the office, but those are fringe issues that just aren't part of our reality. The relying on me to get done what I say I will get done trust is the kicker. On my end I can trust her to take care of business, but I do find myself lacking trust in her commitment to this relationship. I know that she often wonders to herself why she is even married to me. When we have particularly bad fights she wonders that out loud. How perverse it is to be a major source of discord in a relationship, and worry about pushing her into the arms of someone else. She's always said that an affair would be too exhausting. Happy couples don't cheat, and I'm doing a good job of decreasing that happiness. If she worked outside the home I would be really worried about it.


Sitting together

My heart aches for your wife sitting downstairs and waiting for you to come down to be with her.  I've had so many of those times.  I finally decided that there are two "stories" that fit this scenario - one is when the husband is really aware of you and looking for all opportunities to hang out...the other is when he's not, and also can't read your mind.  I settled on the latter in my household as it reflected our reality - no matter how much I wish that my husband were tuned into me all the time the reality is that he isn't and never will be.  Realizing that we are all busy and having lots of distractions tugging at us, I settled on walking to where my husband is and telling him outright that I am going to be sitting on the porch and hope he'll join me within the next X minutes for some relaxation and hang out time.  Any chance he might be able to join me?  He is then notified of my hopes and can choose to join me or not (or allow himself to be distracted or not, as is the case in our household.)  If he's smart, and he knows he's too busy to join me, he tells me right then so that I am fully informed.  If he's not busy...  It is sad if he can't make it, but at least I know that I have not set up a situation in which he is destined to fail (i.e. I expect him to know that I'm waiting for him without my telling him so.)

Part of living with ADHD is having all members of the household start to work -without judgment - with the FACTS of ADHD, rather than their wishes that ADHD were different.  You may wish you didn't have to schedule yourself to do things but the facts are that you do.  Sucks, but that's it.  She may wish that you were tuned into her movements, but the FACT is that you aren't.  And even after you get the ADHD under control you still won't be as "tuned in" as someone without ADHD might (or might not) be.  So she can adapt or wither.

It's a good thing that you understand the pain in your husband would tell you that this is the hardest part of the process of turning things around when you have ADHD.  In his case, he said "...and once you know how much pain you have caused those you love you are incredibly motivated to do something about it to change that."  I hope that you can move from "thinking" about your ADHD to "acting" on making the physiological and behavioral changes needed to make your lives so much happier!  Sounds as if you are a person who benefits from concrete assistance more than books - you might consider a coach (instead of therapy???) or behavior-oriented therapy (vs. understanding yourself better - you'll have time for that later...right now you need behavioral changes so you can become more consistent in your relationship!)  Also, I give another live couples course in the Fall - you might consider taking it with your wife.

Good luck!

Next steps for JackRungh

Hi - I'm interested in your journaling and the continued downward spiral of your relationship that you are documenting.  While it's reassuring to have conversations online with people in situations similar to yours, I'm wondering if you might benefit from also grabbing some ADHD books and starting to implement some of the ideas.  I understand you have insurance issues - see my post on inexpensive ways to address ADHD.  This will give you some initial ideas.  If you don't currently have one, it's critical that you get a good reminder system in place to help manage your schedule.

You mentioned having trouble remembering the evening bedtime routine.  Here are some ideas for you on this:

  • create a list of the steps you've agreed to, including times (i.e. 8pm - put child 1 to bed, read to child 2 etc.)  Put the list somewhere you will see it.  Set a reminder in your cell phone or other reminder system when it's time to start the bedtime process.
  • create some good sleep hygiene rules for your kids.  Generally, this would not include any screen time within a couple hours of bed, as this stimulates the brain.  So reading books together might be a good idea, or listening to soft music, perhaps?  There are so many wonderful kids books, many of which can span multiple ages of kids...Other good sleep hygiene rules - a consistent bedtime, slowing down (no exercise)
  • talk with the pediatrician about using melatonin if you haven't done so already to make sure there aren't any issues with this
  • leave your iPad or computer or phone outside the bedroom so you can pay full attention to the kids without distraction.  As much as we like having you on this forum, your bedtime will go more smoothly if you are in full "parent" mode rather than moving back and forth between attending to them and attending to the forum.  It's not impossible that part of the reason you're having challenges putting them to bed is that they are trying to get your attention...

Your wife is clearly unhappy and frustrated.  Balancing kids and a job can leave you exhausted even before you get to dealing with a spouse (ANY spouse, not just ADHD.)  This is a tough time in her life - she might benefit from being able to "vent" with you a bit about it.  This can be hard for you, in that some of that venting will likely be about you, but if you can manage to be there for her so she can talk it out a bit that will probably help her, which will also help you.  CAVEAT - you really do need to be able to LISTEN and not engage in her frustration.  Bring a note pad (tell her that you are doing this so that you can note things she says that you want to respond to later) and take quick notes about things she says that deserve following up.  But in the first conversation, be "teflon" as they say.

If you haven't read my book yet, I suggest you grab a copy.  There are a lot of tips in there for both of you about how to start dealing with this, even before you get to therapy.  When you do find a therapist, make sure you find someone who knows about ADHD!



Thanks for chiming in

Thanks for chiming in Melissa.

I think we were in a years-long downward spiral, and I agree that it is continuing, but perhaps the rate of descent isn't quite as rapid as it has been. Most importantly in terms of progress, I'm more aware of the spiral. Historically we get into big fights and I see it, and then it goes away until the next fight wakes me up. One of the thing I told her last night in our relatively productive discussion is that I at least am not putting all this away. Something about posting on an online forum is easy for me to get into my habits, and posting/reading here has I think forced me to keep some increased level of awareness.

I bought your book and read it, and of course like so many others here all throughout there were ah-ha moments. I haven't put into practice any of the suggestions it notes. Of course it is so much easier to just read or talk about all this than to actually get into action on it. I'm taking another look at my copy, keeping it on my desk prominently, and will try to build up momentum to initiate. Today I have chores and errands to do that preclude sitting down and getting into it right now. I'd also bought ACT with Love on the recommendation of this forum but it didn't seem to be terribly relevant to ADHD. I intended to buy Delivered from Distraction and Gina Pera's book, but ... got distracted.

I'll take a look at those inexpensive ways, though I think I reviewed them a few months ago. I am gung-ho to get into therapy starting the very beginning of June. I was trying to get this idea across to my wife last night, but I feel like I'm opening up to some level of emotion that just wasn't permitted even two months ago. The therapy we did from last Oct through March was helpful, but even then I was approaching my issues clinically as an objective observer. I was doing so much rational mapping of the situation, which was a way of attacking the problem without getting into the muck of it. I hope that in June I can go back into it and actually have some baggage to unload, actually have some participation as something other than a brain in a vat.

My wife and I were seeing separately the same therapist before we stopped while insurance cycles (job change). She herself was married to a man with ADHD and had a divorce. Her longtime boyfriend is ADHD. Her son has severe ADHD. She is knee-deep in this stuff, but only since I've engaged with these online resources do I have a picture of that world and a real sense of the actuality of it. I had done basically none of this exploration while being in discussion with her. This is why I hope I can go back and work more effectively with her given the shared understanding. I hope also that we can move in the direction of couples therapy, and that having both seen her will give her a better idea of how to guide us.


I really appreciate this community you have created, and the targeted assistance you have added to the lexicon of ADHD support. I think these issues present so very differently for adults with spouses and (especially) children, and a small percentage of the conversation was directed towards those situations. It's still possible that we might not work, its certainly possible that she might just adjust expectations (I have a hard time seeing this as anything but worse), but for the first time I'm doing something different, and actually feeling something unfamiliar. So if we are spiraling down still, at least it is with eyes open and feet first.

6/2/13 - PM

Yesterday we had a big fight. She mentioned that she had come on these forums and read a lot of what I have been posting. She was upset about it, and I have betrayed her trust. Her impression from reading here is also that I'm coming for a pity party and painting myself as the good husband. She felt I was coming here to often complain about and villify her. This was not my intent, and I didn't think the overall response from this community was blindly sympathetic. Even though there are ADHD spouses detailed here that are not functioning as well as I am, I think the non ADHD posters here have done enough research into ADHD to not respond with the lame, "it's not that bad" theme. If I came here and just got a place to vent frustration and be offered consolation, I doubt it would be very helpful. The most helpful responses have been critical ones.

I'm not really sure if I should continue to come here. Yes, it is true that I haven't put in place any solid strategies to combat symptoms. One of her main points was that this is all just talk. Reading books and posting on a forum is often just a form of hyperfocused "research". Even though I've posted about it and worried about it happening, it has happened. I don't want to keep posting here if the content of what I'm posting upsets my wife. Thinking about our relationship more of the time and being more plugged in is a consequence of posting here. Yes it is just talk, and I don't want to offer it up as anything of value to my wife, but it has led to something different in this many-years-long cycle.

The main problem with you guys as a sounding board is that you only have the information I give. There is no way that you can really call me out except on the biased information that I willingly deliver. I think one of the good things about my wife and I seeing the same therapist individually was that I couldn't just fall into my own trap of wooing the audience. I wonder to what extent I've done that here, and even if what I'm typing right now is part of that tainted image. Lies to others are done very well when they become truths to the liar.

carathrace's picture

Online help has limitations

but it also has many advantages.  Like the anonymity and the fact that you can post anytime, not wait for an appointment.  Plus it's FREE, and that's something you've needed until your insurance kicks in.  I was just reading Melissa's response to you on this thread, and I didn't get the impression that she thinks you're on here for a pity party, or to vilify your wife.  I don't either.  You've been very open about what you feel are your shortcomings.  Maybe your wife is jealous that she doesn't have a similar outlet?

Anyway, you're right that all we have is your side of the story.  I assume that the problems in your relationship with your wife are like everyone else's:  a little bit me, a little bit you.  It seems like she wants to see more action on your part.  I can relate to that in a big husband has recently slipped back into his old ways and isn't trying much to overcome his ADHD symptoms.  It's very disappointing to me.  But I have to keep my side of the street clean, which means no mothering, no nagging, no snarky remarks.  This is work too!  If your wife thinks YOU'RE the only one who has work to do, she has another think coming.

I for one would be sad if you left this site, because I have benefited from your introspection and from the responses others have posted to you.  I think we need outlets -- face to face is best, but online will do until the real thing comes along.  I've been cheering for you since the beginning, because I think you're a sincere guy who really wants to change, even if you don't always "do it perfect".  That makes you like my husband, and many, many other ADHD spouses -- not a freak, not hopeless, not a lazy jerk.

No more of this. I should

No more of this. I should look towards working on myself only, and relationship health will hopefully follow. While cataloging these things surely keeps them from fading into the abyss of my forgotten past, I need this interaction and I need it to not make things worse.