Is it ADD or sexist role stereotyping?

My husband and I fight all the time about his refusal to do what needs doing in the house. I need help!!

For background, I married a sweet man who would do anything for me. He drove me to work and home while we were dating (2 60-mile trips each day). He is gentle and sweet and did not come across to me as a male chauvinist pig who expected the woman to do all the work.

When we got married, I saw a different side of him. He stopped working and I had to explain "My husband chooses not to work" when people asked me what he did. But he still didn't do any housework, even such basic things as dishes and laundry. I was working from 9 am-10 pm and still had to fit all the household stuff around that.

Now he's medicated and working, and I am a full-time student (16 credits this semester). I have mobility issues and have trouble walking. But he refuses to do anything. I do not see the distraction, the "I meant to but I forgot." This is just flat out refusal. "Honey, the dog needs to go out before you go to bed" and he just looks at me and goes to bed without saying anything, or doing the simple task I had asked him. I hate walking the dog! My balance is so poor that the dog can pull me over and once I've fallen it's incredibly hard to get up, and he knew that when we got the dog. He will say I'll do it tomorrow but it needs to be done NOW! It does not feel like ADD, it feels like he doesn't love me and doesn't care how much harder it is for me to do things than for him.

Is this just ADD or rampant sexism? When I talk to him he says I don't think I should have to do it all. But when you marry someone with a lifelong disability, shouldn't you expect to do more than your normal "share"? Shouldn't the person best physically equipped to do a task do it?

This is a deal-breaker for me. It is much easier to do the housework for one person than for 2, and I'm thinking fond thoughts of the single life. If I wasn't there, he'd have to walk the dog. Is there a way to make him see how unfair this all is, or should I just suck up the pain and fear and lack of sleep and do everything he does not think he should have to do?


Have you guys sat down and "divided chores"?  Are there things he's agreed to do, but then doesn't or does he just expect you to literally do everything?  (because if it's the latter, I can't find anything ADD about it, just being a jerk - sorry).  However, if it is the former: What would happen if you didn't do the things you feel he should do?  I think that would be the easiset way to help him see the load you are pulling, just stop doing things (go on strike, if you will).  Alternatively, could you hire someone to do the tasks he neglects and have him pay their salary?  People who are very stubborn (many ADDers) hate being told what to do, even though they've agreed to do said thing.  Is there any chance you can frame this as a "problem you are having and does he know what can be done"?  

Sample conversation:

You: honey, with my disability and being in school, I cannot do X and Y.

Him: so....

You: well, I feel strongly that X and Y need to get done, otherwise -insert consequence-, but I can't do X and Y.  What do you think we should do?

If he offers to do X and Y, don't jump to point out that he says so but never does, try asking non-judgy questions about how to ensure that he remembers to do X and Y.

If he says "well I can't/won't do X and Y either" ask him how he thinks the problem should be solved then.

Of course, you may have tried all of this, but I'm just trying to throw out some ideas.

During hyperfocus

During the hyperfocus, he was willing to do anything I suggested like , taking a walk etc. He isn't living here, so there are no chores. But he did mention e-mailing each other , what we liked and disliked given that we were going to have a long distance relationship, and it would help us understand each other better. After that, there has been no action from him. So I didn't bother to send mine.

I still can't fully comprehend how the ADHD works. For me , if my spouse needed help, ofcourse he can count on me 100 %. IF I cna't do something at that time, I would let him know, or we can work out an alternative.

Sounds like plain ol Me-ism

I used to think that my husband dumped me with all chores and mental organization because of sexism, but I've come to realize that it's not the case.  Sexism, like racism, is an all encompassing worldview and ideology.  It colors everything the person does, says and engages with.  It's an ideology that bases itself on hurting and diminishing another group of people. I saw no other traces of sexism and hurtful attitudes towards women in my husband except for his refusal to do any household associated task.  And it sounds like your partner's refusals come the same way my husband's do - with absolutely no answer whatsoever and just not doing it.  A sexist that resolute would announce to you that it is your job to do X, Y and Z.  Unlike racists in this day and age, sexists feel no need to hide how they view the world.   And a large part of a sexist worldview is to relish making women feel inferior - like announcing how they, as men, are too important for such drudge work.  They don't tend to cower away from the confrontation of it all. 

Have you ever noticed your partner's inflicting a sexist worldview in nearly every social exchange out there?  It would seem to me that a true sexist would be humiliated to be financially supported by a woman, presuming (as a sexist would) that women are too stupid or too easily overwhelmed to rise to a position of power that pays well enough to have the lifestyle he believes he could attain. (ex. Have you ever run into an actual sexist who declares every woman in a white collar job to be a "secretary", even when she isn't?)  Additionally, your partner had no problem allowing other people know that he refused to work and was supported by his female partner.  That's not really sounding "sexist" as much as it sounds like a demand to remain a teenager his whole life.

I am convinced that if my husband were gay, his male partner would live no differently than I do.  That man would get dumped with all boring, repetitive chores and all mental organization of day-to-day life.   In the case of my husband, it isn't "women" are to do X, Y and Z, it is "someone else" that is to do X, Y, and Z.  Me, a man, a child, a dog - anyone but him.  It's dull work. It's repetitive work. It requires focus on stuff that isn't fun. It requires getting up from the computer (or off the couch if that's your partner's gig).  It's all for someone else to do.

In the case of my husband, I have noticed that his mother is very similar in this regard. She refuses to do whatever housework she can get away with refusing.  She feigns inability to tasks, like not being able to stand books vertically on a shelf. (Not kidding.  She says she "can't" do it and tasks like this.)  She throws items out if they're not hers, because she "couldn't understand" that they had some place to go.  She would gladly let her sister or husband do all of the housework if she could get away with it.  Whenever there's a task to do, her first response is to say she has a phone call to make - and then she proceeds to make several calls in a row just to get out of doing whatever it is.

So, I can say that my husband didn't even have a stereotypical model in his childhood home to form his expectation that women do all the work at home.  He had his strongest female role model manipulating situations to just have other people do everything she refused to do.

I liken it to trying to get through an astrophysics essay for myself.  I like things about space, but the calculus and detailed physics of it all escape me because I have never bothered trying to learn any of it for real.  Due to this, I just don't focus on reading what I'm reading in the essay, so I stop and walk away from it. So, give me a good ol' fashioned Nova documentary about something in space so I can enjoy the spectacle, but, please, astrophysicists, you do the heavy lifting, thanks.  I believe I am perfectly capable of learning at least a basic level of those two disciplines.  I'm sure I could learn some of it if I just tried hard to focus on it.  However, I just have other people to do it for me, so why bother?  Knowing that this is the case, however, has never stopped me from saying "I can't do Calculus" .  As long as I refuse to learn it, it remains a true statement.

It's just that we don't live in space, so precious few people have a need to know calculus and astrophysics to survive.

ADDer and changed circumstances

Just after I posted the above, my elderly mother fell and broke her hip. She will not be able to return to her home and we are arranging to bring her and my disabled sister to the state we live in. He was great in the immediate crisis, arranging an emergency leave from work and dealing with their concerns. (They'd rather talk to him than me.)

But when we got home, it was business as usual. He broke a glass panel in our door and left the glass on the floor. When I expressed concern about the dog and cats getting glass in their paws, he covered the glass up with a section of newspaper. Eventually I got tired of looking at the newspaper and cleaned it up. His response "Well, I was going to get to it."

In addition to 16 credits of school, and taking care of my mother and sister (they won't live with us, but still a lot will need to be done) why should I have to pick up things he spills, breaks, etc.? He's 49; if he's not responsible now, when will he be?

I was shocked when I read in Melissa's new book that she never thinks about George's ADHD any more, it's just not an issue in their lives. I find that amazing. I can't seem to think about anything other than how to solve the ADD problem and get back to living my difficult life.