As my ADHD partner and I have been sort of haltingly preparing to have a common future, it seems to happen increasingly that I have brought up topics that should be mutually discussed, and he doesn't seem to be hearing me (there's no response indicating "I agree", or "I disagree", "I need more information", or "I don't really care" etc. and he persists in whatever course of action or inaction was ongoing with regard to the topic) or very often he asks a question that makes it clear he doesn't recall information or an opinion I gave when we discussed the topic before.
Or maybe he just doesn't like my opinions or trust the credibility of my information, and he's trying to be nice not to say so; he often feels a need to seek out and wait for independent opinions and it doesn't work out well when he doesn't get them--for example it took ages to choose a color of paint that was at least agreeable to both of us, and then I heard him say recently that he doesn't like it, and for other aspects of the house he is researching professional designers to ask. In general my opinions about the aesthetics of the house seem to be ignored and that may be a hangover of sort of an implicit contract he had with his ex, who apparently always left the decisions about the house and furniture to his researching credible sources.
Anyway, when I don't seem to be heard, I'm just never really sure what is due to his forgetting/inattentiveness due to ADHD, vs. what is due to things he feels he should be the one to decide or I'm not the one to decide, and maybe we don't have a common understanding about that latter category. The problem is that when I think it's the former, I try different ways to talk about the topic so that it's more likely he'll understand why I think it needs his/our attention, and then I get complaints about repeating myself or hear that I'm overwhelming him. He quoted his therapist as agreeing that when I do this, I may be bringing up undesirable memories of his childhood, when anxious and unloving parents were often dumping on him.
I'm trying to be really choosy about what I bring up, only things that I feel are really important (just giving in without discussion on things he seems to feel strongly about, such as the length of his commute) and trying to be increasingly careful about when and how I say anything so I am less likely to raise his defenses, but we do actually need to have some discussion about big and little things, aspects of the place we will be living together and how we will pay bills and the need to have some savings for emergencies. I am trying hard to avoid parent-child dynamics and I don't want to shoulder all the decisions, but I also have bad experiences from the past that result in my not wanting to be left hanging by the effects of decisions he makes without me, and I can't read his mind as to whether he's even thinking about things I consider important.
I understand that there are past anxieties playing in and I have them too. I have to admit that I feel unloved when I'm not being heard, and maybe that further weakens my communication skills. Our premarital counselor basically noted that I already talk too much, being a person who thinks about things by talking them through (which he said is common for women) and he added that repeating myself means that I'm dominating the conversation. So as the pressure increases to make important decisions together, while I feel honestly confused and fearful of the consequences if important balls drop and my savings are the only contingency plan, I feel even more pigeonholed as to what I can bring up.
I am truly beginning to wonder whether further commitment in our relationship, future fun in our lives would be worth the risk of NOT bringing up things about our finances etc. for discussion. I have experienced living independently and while it can be lonely, I'm not actually sure I want a future in which I'm constantly asking myself whether I should or shouldn't try another way to bring up something that may have been forgotten or that he considers to be out of my domain, but on which discussion seems legitimately important to me. I said that I wanted to maybe drop the pressure by further delaying the co-mingling of our finances until we have more common ground. Though that seemed to be unwelcome, that's how it's actually happening for now. Are the areas in which communication is such a big gap more likely to get bigger, or smaller? Any useful advice for me?
You are really working hard here
Submitted by 1Melody1 on
As a feminist and human being, I have a really hard time with the message we often receive that we must tip-toe ever so carefully with our words to ensure the other party is happy. Especially when we are already kind and considerate people in the first place. The ever-constant adjustments to tone and topic and timing can be exhausting and because we aren't in charge of the feelings of others, no matter what we do to try to spare their feelings or egos, it can still easily not be enough. And I personally believe that over time this dynamic results in damage to us... we are not adequately able to express our feelings or opinions, often don't feel heard and end up stifling ourselves unhealthfully. I do, however, believe in compromise. But it sounds like you're doing more than your share of the trying here... and a therapist blaming you for talking too much as a woman is blatantly unprofessional in my opinion.
Sorry for that bit of a rant, but hopefully it offered some outside perspective too. Food for thought: The therapist may have a bias towards YOU changing to make your SO's life smoother vs. a balanced approach that challenges and benefits you both equally.
I think if you have any reservations at all, it makes complete sense to delay the co-mingling of finances. Imagine trying to work with him to dis-entangle them if you do ultimately decide to live independently again.
As to your final question about communication becoming a bigger or smaller issue, I can only speak for myself. Over a 20-year marriage with an ADHD husband, I found that communication was easier at the beginning than as the relationship progressed. He was hyperfocused on me at the beginning and more willing to listen to my thoughts. As he grew more comfortable, he appeared to care less and less about meaningful communication. My feelings mattered less and less and in the end were not even on the radar. It got harder to approach him about important topics and I felt like the number of important unresolved issues (intimacy, finances, household work division, parenting) kept piling up and up because of his unwillingness to discuss them. Maybe since you're in therapy, improving communication could be a priority for you both - and your experience could be better than mine was. However, I somewhat doubt this dynamic would improve naturally for him over time. Why would it?
All the best to you. If I could give anyone advice, it would be to listen to the voice in your gut the most. It knows things that your brain, your therapist and your partner do not know. ♥
Listening and Communications Skills
Submitted by forfolk on
My partner just surprised me with a comment that I need to see a therapist about my anger issues, when in fact I had told him I'd BEEN seeing a therapist, despite how expensive it is (challenging to find someone who takes my employer's insurance) on top of which we are seeing one together, which costs the earth as well. Ironically the thing I said I was becoming angry about, after expressing multiple times that I was feeling sad and afraid about, is that he keeps delaying and sidestepping every time we need to talk about common finances and related matters. I've tried to explain that I'm getting anxious attempting to understand his motivations and whether there will be a point at which we can begin talking about mutual plans, and yes, I feel more and more sad and angry that it's quite tolerable for him to keep me hanging. I accept Melissa's comment that I need to take care of my own issues and not worry about his, but how does that work when it's a common issue, about common future plans and financial arrangements to help them happen??????
I think he’s manipulating you
Submitted by sickandtired on
I think he’s manipulating you to make you accommodate his adhd symptoms instead of challenge them. He sees the problem as totally being your anger, and has no interest in how his repeated behaviors might be the root cause of that anger. He’s quite comfortable having no input from you regarding your desires, needs and opinions. Melody is 100% correct that you should not entangle your finances with him. There are a multitude of stories on this forum how the careless adhd partner has ruined the non-adhd’s partner’s credit and drained joint bank accounts on selfish spending. It happened to me too, until I put a stop to it and threw him out of my house. Living with a partner who won’t listen to you or respect your feelings is no relationship... it is a jail sentence. I am happy that I decided to find someone else who has the capacity to be a loving respectful partner in life. You deserve better than to be stifled and required to walk on eggshells for the rest of your life.
I think he believes that he respects me but...
Submitted by forfolk on
I think he believes that he respects me and my thoughts, but even if I say that I feel sad or fearful, he doesn't seem to realize that a topic is important to me to discuss until I express anger. I don't like being angry any more than he likes it, but one more thing that leaves me feeling anxious is that he pushed away my comment that surely this won't be the last time we have some elephant in the room issue that he decides isn't something we talk about, and I'm left to figure out (because tactics matter) whether that's because he's delaying any discussion until he's had time to thoroughly research it himself (he seems to feel compelled to seek out independent research on anything he feels is important, and maybe that's part of the ADHD rather than lack of trust for my credibility?), or whether the topic is NOT important to him and I simply haven't been heard when I've said it's important to me, or I'm insufficiently credible or insufficiently dispassionate on the subject, or I've brought it up too often or at the wrong times, or he's avoiding it for some other reason.
I guess you could always ask him
Submitted by sickandtired on
I guess you could always ask him when would be the appropriate time and place to discuss important matters. He is really in denial if he thinks there won’t be any important issues you need to discuss in the future. He is being totally unrealistic in his blanket avoidance. My ex never wanted to talk about making big plans (or small plans for that matter) and left all decisions up to me. Then he invariably complained that it was not what he wanted. I felt like everything was blamed on me and that I couldn’t catch a break.