On Friday, I told my wife that I had to work on an important volunteer project at some point during the weekend. We both knew that we had plans for Sunday. My wife knows that this is LITERALLY a life or death project. Lawyers have sent me notes thanking me for helping to save their clients lives when I have done similar projects. My wife has herself acknowledge that this work saves people's lives.
On Saturday, I accomplished all of the following tasks before working on this project: 1) Picked up our son from a sleepover 2) Went to Home Depot 3) Installed the new hose reels 4) mowed the lawn and pulled out a lot of weeds and 5) Worked on the dishes.
Finally, I sat down at the computer and began collecting my notes. This involves reading newspaper articles and reports in a foreign language. My son and daughter were yelling. OK, they are 9 and 15, so I expect this from them. But then my wife starts watching videos with my daughter right next to where I am working. I remind her of what I am doing and that I need to concentrate several times before she finally stops watching the videos. Then she argues with our daughter about a chore--she promised 2 cents for each nut she picked up and our daughter wanted her to count them--gallons and gallons worth. Then my wife leaves for the store while our daughter attempts to count them. Our daughter gives up, comes in, and starts watching videos with earphones. But she stops to have me log her back in to my wife's computer several times. And she has developed a new tick--motions and sounds like she is going to vomit. Despite all of the distractions, I keep working on the project. My wife came home and started asking me about when I am going to grill dinner. I was very frustrated at this point and said that I would be able to do so sooner if I was allowed to concentrate so I could finish the project.
I finished the project and grilled dinner. When I came back in, our son was already eating and there were two plates in the kitchen. One had meat, the other did not. Our daughter does NOT eat any meat. Trying to be considerate, I asked my wife if the plate with meat was for me. In other words, I did not want to take my wife's plate. She responded, "Well it's not for [our daughter]!" Already on edge because of all the stress (and lack of respect) while trying to work, I took this as a "duh' remark. Yes, I knew it was not for our daughter, but it could have been for my wife. She then got upset and said that I should not have been angry because she was just joking.
Last night, our couples therapist said that I should say what I want more clearly and with more confidence. First of all, I had been very clear that I needed to concentrate and I had told her that I was working on something she herself acknowledged was very important. But how I am supposed to be more "confident" when neither my wife nor our kids show respect and listen to what I say?
In the past, we have had arguments where I was very confident because the LAWS OF MATH were on my side--it does not make sense to "save" and earn 3 percent (or less!) interest on $100 instead of paying down $100 worth of debt on a credit card with double digit interest. Yet she still argued and argued and argued. How am I supposed to be confident when I am dismissed even when I have math to prove my side of the argument? It's like an argument I once had with a 3-year-old when I was about 10. He insisted that he was older than me. I tired logic. "I was born in (current year-10). When were you born?" His answer was "Styrofoam." Yet I was still frustrated and determined to argue with him because I was clearly right. But evidence is irrelevant when arguing with someone who does not accept basic logic. He wanted to be older, so "Styrofoam" proved that he was older. Sometimes arguing with my wife is like arguing with that 3 year old. I ask myself why does it even matter to me. I should not be hurt because her disagreement with me does not reflect oon whether I am right or wrong--it reflects on her stubborn refusal to listen to reason. Yet it does bother me.
Interruptions, lack of consideration/understanding
Submitted by 1Melody1 on
I hear you on this, Petunias. I wish I had the answer for it. I think a lot of us "nons" are natural empaths who try to do the right thing for everyone else, thereby often doing the thing that's not so right for ourselves. You made your kids happy, handled the household stuff, made a healthy meal for your family and still had to handle the work/volunteer stuff, too. If we had equally empathetic or even equal partners, we would only have to handle the urgent work/volunteer stuff since they would instinctively understand and even want to step in/step up and make sure dinner was prepared and kids/house attended to. My ADHD partner does not have that "instinct" either.
So I am working on letting go of being everything to everyone. I cook healthy meals 90% of time time, but sometimes I have to order pizza for my sanity or so I can get a project done. Maybe the weeds don't get plucked, but I have time to take a bath. And I hate letting any of the balls drop, but I've had to. If you're like me, you're juggling 90% of the balls... inevitably some will drop, so we might as well be in control of which ones. Last year I had a complete nervous breakdown from doing too much. That scared me into moving myself up my priority list.
And along with this, I am working on this "confidence" you described as well. I am trying to tell him what I want and need in the plainest possible words. I personally think I sound like a jerk, but I have read similar advice so I'm giving it a try. "I need you to take the kids out on Sunday because I need a quiet house to work in." / "I am working off-site on Sunday and you will have to get dinner for the kids." / "I'm sorry you're upset about it, but this project is important and I am going to spend the X uninterrupted hours I need to do it."
I am in the same situation you describe. I work from home, but there is no respect for my time or client calls at all. My husband can not (will not?) handle my daughter, so she comes to me often throughout work hours. Though I work full time, I still try to wedge in a load of laundry. I still plan dinner. I am still the on-duty parent. The lunch packer. The homework helper. The playdate host. At the same time, he sits in the chair surfing the Internet for hours on end. We are in hell, Petunias. I wish more confident/assertive speaking would solve the problem of having a partner who can not/will not ever step up and accept 50%... even 15% of the load.
Because even now that I am more assertive, a lot of what I say is still ignored, forgotten or needlessly argued with.
The non partner can only do so much. Especially if the ADHD partner does nothing to address symptoms (that's my world). Since you're going to couples therapy, hopefully that means your wife is also trying and you will land somewhere positive for both of you.
All the best to you. I hope you got through your project on Sunday. :)
1Melody1, does it help?
Submitted by dedelight4 on
You mentioned that you now say things in direct sentences, "I need such and such by this time", and that he still doesn't listen. But, has this approach helped at all? I'd be interested to know if stating every WORD and direction to them helps in communication, ir if it causes resentment.
It seems odd to me (and others) that many blatantly obvious things are totally ignored by our ADHD spouses, even though they KNOW those items MUST be done. Yet, every time its mentioned, it seems to come as a surprise, like "I didnt see that, or I didnt know that". This still boggles me to this day.
My DH will then spend enormous energies on other tasks that really dont need to be done, but if it's a "new" project, he's all fired up about it, and cant wait to get started. But, once again, the "new" thing gets done half way, part of the way, etc, but never finished. This repeats over and over and over, until our house is now filled with part done projects in every room, including the yard, making the house a wreck. (Messy, hoarder type) Stressful to say the least.
dedelight - it has helped a bit
Submitted by 1Melody1 on
Hi Dede! Great question. It has helped in two ways. First, now that I am saying things beyond-ultra-clearly, he can never say things like "I didn't know you wanted me to do that." Or, "I didn't think that's what you were asking." Secretly I feel he always did know, but he could more easily blame me for miscommunication. Now if he doesn't do something, at least he has to own it. "Oh yeah... I forgot." / "Did you say that? Oh yeah... you did." / "I ran out of time." It makes me feel better that the accountability is where it should be.
And it has helped a small, but noticeable amount in him pitching in more and getting things done. As I noted, there are still a lot of things that don't get done, but since I started doing this, more "small" jobs seem to be getting accomplished. Like vacuuming the main level or cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.
You're right... there could be a little resentment there. But I feel justified in asking him to do things around the house since he won't do them on his own. And what I ask is really so negligible compared to what I see other husbands doing (and what I do!).
I should note that those bigger projects you mentioned are still an issue for us. Anything that takes longer than an hour is likely to sit there for months... sometimes years. I feel your pain.