Learning how to Cope...Reminding myself to breathe

First of all, thank you so much for the opportunity to learn and share with others in my position (non ADD wife). The support and understanding feels extremely comforting.

My husband and I have been married for 14.5 years. I gave up many, many years ago ever expecting my husband to do chores. I may be the laughing stock of my girlfriends, but I got so sick of fighting. The constant arguement. Even if I was nice as sugar, me asking him to do anything was a problem. So, after about three years of constant fighting and many tears, I quit asking or expecting. If he lifts a finger, I figure it's gravy for me. The rest of the time, I do everything around the house (and now that two of our three kids are old enough, they help out.) The only thing my husband is responsibile for is the lawn and anything huge outside that I can't do myself or afford to hire done. I am blessed to be able to stay home, he has a good job, so I figure this is the trade off. I found out by moving the chore expectation out of the way, we fight A LOT less. (I don't necessarily think this set up is right or fair, but I find that even with me doing everything--bills, chores, kids, school stuff, etc -- it's more important to me that we don't fight than for me to be less tired!!)

My biggest issue, is the inconsistency of his attention on us as a couple. As previously mentioned in other posts, dating and the newlywed stage was unbelievably enjoyable. Back then we didn't know it was ADD but now I realize, that I was on the receiving end of the "hyper focus." And because it was a gradual decline, it didn't really effect me greatly, as we were having babies and redoing houses, etc, our "normalized" relationship didn't seem all that different from anyone else's (minus the lack of sharing household chores.) I just kind of accepted that our relationship was what it was, and occasionally we'd go out or have a really good connection, and I would greatly enjoy it. I have a tendancy to be an overemotional, extremely affectionate hopeless romantic type person, and I knew that there was a slim chance that I'd end up with a husband who would remain a lifelong "Romeo" anyway.

Well, recently, my husband met a guy at work who was going through some issues with his wife, and somehow their story of almost-divorce-turned-into-2nd-honeymoon-raging-romance inspired my husband to reconnect with me. Came out of no where. And I was THRILLED. We went from hum-drum to fiery passion like overnight. This is when I realized just how love-starved I'd been all these 14 years. I had self-soothed this void with shopping, writing, music, and kids. I didn't face it and try to fix it for fear of another arguement. This whole "reconnection" was almost an out-of-body experience for me. We were finally happy, finally completely connected, he convinced me I could talk to him about anything without him on the defense (and he proved it)...we went from once a month sex to at least once a day if not more. We dated, we doted on eachother, love letters, the WORKS. And then, almost as fast as it started, it left. And it left me EXTREMELY depressed and confused. I guess, all those 14 years, I had built up some kind of guard, a wall, callous. I found ways to cope (albeit, not always healthy ways--my "retail therapy" got a bit out of control.)Well, this "reconnection" tore down the walls, and I was open and naked and my heart was back on my sleeve. And now I feel like I got duped or something. I have one girlfriend who says, "Well be happy you had such a great time while it lasted (three or four months)!" Instead, I feel more sad than I ever have before, and I can't ever get through a whole night of sleep. I worry constantly, my mind never shuts off, trying to always figure out what the heck just happened.

I have attempted to talk to him about it, he apologizes, swears it's not me, just that work is crazy, he's tired (he's on 12 hour swing swift which I KNOW is horrible for an ADDer.) But honestly, I can't see anything going on any different now with work or life than when this wonderful romance was happening. Which leaves me feeling confused. As hard as I try, I continue to ask myself, what have I done wrong? Is he not attracted to me anymore? What did I say wrong? What am I missing? (and I'll admit, I question, Is there someone else?? and I hate hate hate to go there with my thoughts.) I almost wish this reconnection thing never happened, even though going through it at the time made me the happiest I've been in forever. I feel like, now I know what he is capable of. Don't get me wrong, our relationship is still way better than it's ever been, and he still does pretty good about not being defensive if we get a chance to talk about serious topics. I just feel so lonely and sad that whatever it was we discovered, is missing again. And I don't know how to handle it.

Finding this website was really helpful, I spent the first hour reading and crying my eyes out. Even though I knew much of what we've been going through has to do with some issue or another of ADD, reading and connecting with people that actually are LIVING through it like me is just...I don't even have words for it.

I just hope to be able to find the way to be able to let go of the pain and find a way to cope with the inconsistant attention from my husband. I love him like crazy, and I just need to be close to him. I get so tired of analyzing every moment of every day. Did he have his meds, has he eaten. Has he slept, has he smoked. What is his mood, is he in a good mood, yes/ good I can talk to him and be myself. Is he in a bad mood? then I have to keep my distance. I just wish I could relax and be myself all the time, and not have to dance to the beat of HIS drum all the time! Even though we hardly ever fight anymore, all those years of him on the defense and us fighting has left me gun-shy. I'm always seemingly afraid of setting him off, and now he even will say to me, "Relax! I'm just busy, I'm not mad." etc.

 

Thank you so much for letting me vent. It's been a long time coming! Thanks in advance for any ideas, advice, etc.

Sudden Romeo

You are in an interesting position - realizing just how important your connection is, and sad to have lost it - as well as being able to talk pretty openly about your relationship with your husband.  My first instinct was to say that you should see a counselor together, though I worry that this might open up some old wounds that could really add to your pain.  I wonder instead if you might try some serious conversations about your own needs.  Specifically, I would recommend reading "Fighting for Your Marriage" and trying some conversations around your feelings and needs based upon what is in that book.  Your husband seems to sense your tension and unhappiness.  Perhaps if the two of you could just get to a deeper understanding of how his attention made you feel and how important that is to you it would help you both.  (I think that one of the keys to why the conversational system suggested in the book works is that it is focused on understanding the underpinnings of what is going on more than finding a specific solution...at least at first.  I get the impression that you would feel better if you felt he understood the depth of your feelings about this...and that if he did he would likely respond to them.  People always chide me for suggesting that you schedule time together, but a regular date night out, or a planned weekend away once a quarter can really help.)

It's highly unlikely that you could sustain doting on each other the way you describe (particularly with him in a 12 hour shift!) but getting to a place in which you save time for each other and feel connected at regular intervals would be great.  Another "connector" is what I call "being friends".  Though it sounds as if your schedules are difficult, try to find opportunities to "just hang out" and be friends, perhaps around some common interests.

Good luck with it - keep us apprised of your progress!  I suspect that you will find a way to improve things for the two of you.

P.S. As for the chores, it sounds as if you have found the right balance there.  Chores aren't that fun, but it is a very real contribution that you can make to the household (what is the job description, "household goddess"?!)  You aren't alone in this - a friend of mine commented just yesterday about how her husband does not one chore in their house (he has ADD, too) but that was just part of the way it happened to be with them...she manages one part of their lives, he manages another and she accepts that and is proud of how well she does her part.

numb73's picture

re: Sudden Romeo

Thank you SO much for your reply...I'm looking forward to reading the book you've suggested.

I've been thinking about what you said, and you're right, I guess the super-doting-romance thing isn't necessarily very normal for anyone to keep going at that speed/depth. I just really enjoyed having it while it lasted. We've also made a point of having some kind of date night once a week, and that's really helping too, to have it to look forward to. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but near the end of last year, he started having to work out of town for half the week, so he was gone for 3 or 4 days at a time. I made a point to go over and stay with him for a weekend, and we realized we had never spent the night anywhere without the kids--since before they were born over 12 years ago! We realized that never getting away alone has done a real number on our relationship, especially since we don't have quiet children, if you know what i mean. I hope we can continue to make time, a weekend away, more often.

When he was diagonosed with ADD about five years ago, we did some counseling together. A lot of it was hard, exactly like you said--bringing up old wounds. We did make some progress as far as learning to communicate better, especially pertaining to the kids. We have very different views of parenting, he likes to swoop in like an army sargeant to scare the wits out of the kids when they do something wrong, which I think is too harsh. We learned from the psychologist that I could have some kind of silent signal to my husband to let him know he's going too far and he should be able to walk away to cool off. It works some of the time. The other thing I was hoping to accomplish was that my husband would realize just how tired I am, and be able to take over with the kids even two mornings a month so I could sleep in. He never has gotten up with the babies/kids so I could sleep. Well, after many many discussions in counseling, the dr. told me that was one thing I was just never going to win on, that my husband just feels too overwhelmed in the mornings to ever take over and let me sleep. It was hard for me to swallow, I had already taken over all the chores. But what was I going to do?? I will admit, it's hard not to feel bitter when I feel like I'm forever getting the short end of the stick.

I'm trying to look more at the humorous side of living with someone with ADD. Just yesterday, he couldn't find the tags for his license plate, which I knew I'd handed him two weeks prior before one of his trips out of town. He was sooo frustrated and swore to me that he never had them. He paced and paced, and finally I asked if they might still be in his travel bag. He said, no, that he never had them! I went upstairs to look in his bag, and sure enough, there was the envelope with the tags from the DMV. I handed them to him, he chuckled and sighed in relief. I realized one more time, just how dependant he is on me for all these little things that make his life run smoothly. Moments like that make me feel that I'm important to him and his well being, I just wish it was less of a mothering type feeling!! Oh well.

Thanks again...I'll keep you posted on how things are going and will continue to learn so much from this forum!!