Need help to navigate this one

My mom, hubby, and I were having a convo today...very good day btw.  Everyone in my family gets along awesome with my hubby which can be a tad frustrating when they think reminding him and getting irritated with him and sometimes taking a tone (mind you when I have already asked or reminded nicely several times) is not being 'nice enough' to him.   He has also in the past seemed to get off a bit on the victim mentality, so it is a bit of a button between he and I.  Because I don't feel my family belongs in all my business, I don't generally deal with them on that kinda thing.....I take it up with him.

My husband gets along with everyone, is very hard to make angry, and gets angry at others even less often.  If he has a fault in this area, I would say that it can be fairly easy not too get too emotionally invested in the outcome when he takes care not to invest very much of himself or interest in things.  I am the opposite of course, so we have issues sometimes with me just wanting him to act REALLY INTERESTED in things outside video games and whatever.

On the other hand, my father had a dysfunctional childhood and he and his siblings definitely have criticism, sarcasm, and snideness issues.  They all seemed to think the 50s housewife model should be good for their wives regardless of what other loads they were carrying {to be fair they were raised in the 50s :) } and their mother kinda pushed that idea by taking care of everything homewise as well as lot business wise--the fact that this was mostly because she had a chauvinist for a husband and she had to go out of her way to manipulate him and make him think her ideas were his somehow gets lost in the fantasy land hope that their lives would have all the picture perfect perfection without the simmering resentment that was their relationship.

So anyway when my mother gets frustrated with my father (he is fairly newly retired and his family is visiting this week so BINGO), she tends to get critical of my 'tone' with hubby or to say that my word choice isn't always the best or whatever.  She has a point, and I really think a lot of it comes because my husband doesn't get up in arms over words while my dad is Word Guy (she is not of course) so when he is in a mood she really has to walk on eggshells as far as word choice.  She resents this and it comes  out in resentment for me not watching my word choice so carefully.

More than anything I think she is projecting her frustration and I usually let it slide....my husband and I are more than capable of dealing with our issues ourselves....but I just had a whole in-law thing of my own that appears to be never ending, I have PMS, I am exhausted, and I like I said it had been an awesome day with not one snide comment so while she felt like commenting "in general" I was in no mood for it.

I said "Hey Hubby, am I mean to you?"  He was in the car also and more than capable of speaking for himself.  He said no.  She said you put things in a mean way sometimes.  And I said "Sometimes I do but you have no idea of what I deal with either.  I am sick to death of 'poor hubby attitudes'.  He does his fair share of problem causing and irritating.  I don't complain until it is into the 100s so get off my back" 

It was all kinda jokey but sorta serious at this point.  So hubby pipes up from the backseat, "Yeah but sometimes it does feel like it might start at only the 10s".  We all laughed and I can't remember what happened but my mom got on my nerves with some comment, and I said "Stop it. I am not the irritant here........I am the irritateee"  Well hubby protested that good naturedly just as were getting back to our own car, so because it took me aback to hear him say NO I AM THE IRRITATEE, I asked him about it.

There was something in his comment that felt a bit too genuine to me, so I asked him if he thought that he was more irritated by me and the things I do than I am by the things he does.  He made some kind of affirmative comment (he says he was still thinking we were joking) and I sorta snappily said to you, "You mean to tell me that you think I drive you crazier than you drive me!??!"  And he said with surprise, "No I guess we are probably about equal"

Now I have to tell you I was INSULTED!  I mean seriously insulted and I started rattling off big in general things he does that irritate me to no end........(Not my finest hour I admit)........I said things like "So I interrupt you when you are talking?!"  "I don't listen to you when you are speaking so that I never know what you are talking about?!" "and no matter how many times I'm asked to show more of an interest in you and what you are thinking, I can't remember to ask you a meaningful question every day?!"   He answered all these with an quiet NO.

We had to take our car to get looked at so the convo got tabled......he just says just as I am not going to be able to respond because of the mechanic, that of course I do things that drive him crazy, but he doesn't generally point them out.  THIS IS WHERE I GOT GOOD AND MAD!!  I have just been mulling it and mulling it.

I have admitted before to perfectionism and I work really hard to not point out all the small things that get done poorly because it would just be too hard to work on the big things then, and plus some of it is clearly my own issue for caring too much about unimportant matters.  I have had a lot of anger issues over his ADD before it was treated and just after, and I have grown my leaps and bounds by expressing my needs nicely and calling him on it gently when he is losing progress.  Do I succeed all the time? NO Do I succeed way more than I fail?  YES definitely. 

I am trying to focus on all the good in my life and there is A LOT of good.....but at heart I am a tweaker and I tend to try to improve things regardless of the shape they start out in.  I am doing SO much better in not pointing out all of those things.  However, I do feel things passionately and sometimes he seems to feel things not at all, so I just get louder and more emotional about many things than he does.

I still can't believe this man, who no matter how much I ask him for notes and comments and suggestions for improving the way I deal with him, hardly ever gives me ANYTHING and every comment ever made gets IMMEDIATE results and some things have NEVER EVER been brought up or done again in 11 years; thinks I continue to do irritating things as often as he does.  He who can hardly manage a week in a row of not repeating the behaviors he is trying to curb.  I am not angry with him about this, but I am DARN angry that I am getting no credit for just rolling with it and handling his crap while he is apparantly holding things against me that he has NEVER TOLD ME I AM DOING THAT UPSET HIM!!!!

I ask him for suggestions all the time.  HE ASKS NEVER.  And he thinks we are even on irritating each other even though I have no idea what I am even doing and am just trying to work on my stuff as I realize it with no help from him.

I am not even sure how to address it with him.  I just tried to stay quiet and mull out my feelings once the PMS haze wears off.  We have a coaching appointment Monday and if I can shut my  mouth till then I am going to address it with the coach in the room.  I don't want to come off like I think he is the whole problem. It is a combo of ADD and my reaction to ADD that causes most of our problems, but I can tell you for darn sure there have been much more permanent changes on my side of the street than on his.

My reaction to this is also concerning because if you asked me if I think he is the main part of our issues, I would probably say no, but he basically says the substance of 'we are equally to blame' and I want to take off his head.  And I am struggling because I want to resolve this NOW NOW NOW but I know I need to get my thoughts together first and be sure I am not attacking him, and even knowing that the only thing that saved the convo tonight was a well placed TV show after dinner followed by both of us needing to work.

I am sitting here with my hand on the phone though, so please make your suggestions fast!!

I am only 1/2 joking....not sure if I can let it go for the nigh

I am only 1/2 joking....not sure if I can let it go for the night or not.  He could tell something wasn't right with me and I kept getting the "so what are you thinking" comment and also the "So what do you think the best resolution with my parents is?"  and finally as he was hugging me goodbye he said he loved me very much and saying he is sorry  he drives me crazy.  I said he doens't drive me crazy, and he said that I don't either and maybe it was just poor word choice all around............but I don't think so. I think he let something slip that he is afraid he won't know how to deal with.

SO RESPOND QUICKLY from both sides of the fence please before I blow the inevitable convo!

I get what you are saying and

I get what you are saying and even more what you are not saying. Part of this site's value is a place to try to find the words to understand our own frustrations.  There seems to be years of your compromising and supporting and trying to have an equal, alive relationship, but hubby is withholding and placating rather than contributing.  I get the added hormone thing that makes you want to scream out the frustration and the aloneness when others only see the "good ole boy" and not the partner who maybe is doing the best he can but leaves you needy.  Just wanted to say, I hear you and understand.  

Thanks for the response,

Thanks for the response, Jennalemon, I agree that I am definitely trying to process my own frustrations an also my own reaction here.  We have had SUCH a stressful month of July, I think part of it is just both of us are so on edge and his parents are so needy right now.

There seems to be years of your compromising and supporting and trying to have an equal, alive relationship, but hubby is withholding and placating rather than contributing.

I relate to this comment a lot because honestly I do tend to believe that I do so much compromising.  I have told him in anger before that I get sick of our lives being so much about ADD.  I have to talk in a certain way, I have to approach him in a certain way, I have to set up our schedule in a certain way, I have to remind in a certain way...........I just get over it sometimes.

But the truth of the matter, is that I don't do all those things all the time and he certainly doesn't demand it of me.  I try to do it because the books say to do it and the other ADD people say to do it, and I try to be a perfectionist, so even though he almost never complains if I remind in a nagging way or if I don't approach his need to change activities gently or with enough warning or whatever the books say to do, I tend to beat myself up.

I stay positive about our progress because I know I am trying and I know he is trying and he never complains, so I guess his comment yesterday just made me see red because it seems like he is irritated by things or by me not doing them in an ADD friendly enough way, but he doesn't EVER say that to me in the moment.

You mention that my hubby withholds and placates......YES yes he does.  He doesn't do it instead of contributing because he does contribute, but sometimes he contributes in a different way as a means of placating when he really doesn't want to do what I ask.  I appreciate you bringing this out because it is no doubt worth a run by the coach.

When he called last night to tell me he got to work safely, we had a very brief discussion about us needing a discussion.  He just asked if we can please not have it now until after his parents' moving situation is taken care of, and the funeral is over this weekend, and my family here for a visit as well as the ones just coming in for the funeral go back home..........and I realized we really are even more stressed than I realized. 

So since I am not so angry now and I realize we both have points to be made, we are going to leave it until at least Sunday....maybe Monday with the coach.

 

Pbartender's picture

The Other Half Joking...

"I still can't believe this man... ...thinks I continue to do irritating things as often as he does."

Maybe you're just that much better than him at coming up with new and innovative ways of being irritating?   *RIMSHOT!*

 

Pb. (ducks)

Aspen pulls out her PMS

Aspen pulls out her PMS bazooka gun and chases PB down with it!

You ADD men are all alike....always joking when we're teed off!  :)

You asked for quick so excuse

You asked for quick so excuse me if this doesn't come out quite right. 

You are spoiling for a fight (possibly because of your emotions with your parents) so fight something besides your husband.  It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, let it go.  You are fighting for the upper hand instead of a good day.

Anytime someone behaves or adjusts to something that is not their norm if feels like an effort.  You have the perception that you make the bigger effort because his natural state of being is not the same as the general populous.  For him just to be able to say, "we are equal" is, in and of itself, indication of his efforts.  He can't change that he has ADD but don't forget, for what you perceive as every good day means he has made an effort to adjust from HIS norm.

Pick your battles.  "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy", (Dr. Phil)

As soon as you start quantifying amounts in anything you are setting up a combative and critical atmosphere and we all know what that takes out of someone with ADD.

 

 

Interesting perspective

I really don't see it as me spoiling for a fight and I really don't feel like I am in this instance.  I was irritated by the situation, and I was irritated by my mother's comments, but I talked to her about them again last night and she is walking back some of her 'tude also.

I agree that we are both putting in effort.  Are we putting in equal effort?  How can anyone really know?  But what I DO know is that the most consistent changes are coming from me, and I still resent someone who has a disorder that causes him to be inconsistent acting like I (who have no known disorders and makes a regular effort to do things in an ADD friendly way for him) am irritating to him.  Especially since I regularly ask what I can do better or differently and he tells me everything is awesome.  You can't have it both ways.

I think you make a good point about combative and critical atmospheres and I really don't want that.  I don't think I agree that quantifying amounts automatically sets up that sort of atmosphere.  I mean we are all taught that we need to be able to have quantifying results in order to both see progress with the ADD symptoms.

Quantifying amounts like who is the most irritating?  Yeah I get that nothing good comes from that, but that ship has already sailed so we are going to have to discover what this irritation to him is since he is always claiming it doesn't exist!

Thanks for the response.

Pbartender's picture

On A More Serious Note...

This...

I sorta snappily said to you, "You mean to tell me that you think I drive you crazier than you drive me!??!"  And he said with surprise, "No I guess we are probably about equal"

...could be an example of both the sort of irritating things that he's thinking about, and also the sort of thing that makes it tough for him to give the feedback you want.  You started off in a rather belligerent mood, and when he answered honestly, you replied like so...

Now I have to tell you I was INSULTED!  I mean seriously insulted and I started rattling off big in general things he does that irritate me to no end........(Not my finest hour I admit)........I said things like "So I interrupt you when you are talking?!"  "I don't listen to you when you are speaking so that I never know what you are talking about?!" "and no matter how many times I'm asked to show more of an interest in you and what you are thinking, I can't remember to ask you a meaningful question every day?!"   He answered all these with an quiet NO.

...all of a sudden, you're insulted and angry and yelling because he told you what you asked for.  Now, I don't know how often you get upset enough to have an outburst like this -- it might be an isolated incident, and I could be whistling in the dark -- but I know exactly how your husband was feeling here.  His meek response tells it all.

You thought his answer was insulting.  He thought he was giving you what you wanted, but was yelled at for it and probably didn't understand why.  And the situation had escalated so far, so fast, that no one had to the time to Stop.  Take a breath.  And ask why?  "Really? You think it's equal?  Why do you think so?"

That, in a nutshell, is the root cause of every problem large or small my wife and I have had in our marriage.  If that happens often enough, and anecdotal evidence says it happens a LOT to ADHDers, you start to withdraw.  I effectively get stage fright whenever I want to talk to my wife about anything important, because this is how she usually reacts and the conversation gets shut down before it really starts.

On the other hand, I can also understand the frustration and resentment of all the accommodations you have to make...  His quiet "no"s were him accommodating you and your anger and your frustration, in a way.  The need to continually admit and apologize for being wrong simply because of perpetual misunderstandings can make a person just as resentful.

 

Pb.

Thanks PB, I appreciate the well thought out response

I understand your point, and no I am not full of outbursts though one seems to happen about once a month right on schedule.  He takes emotional force, even if it is just a passionate interest, as somewhat overwhelming.  He tends to accuse me of 'hollering at him' if I am irritated with him and raise my voice at all.

Now I grew up in a fairly passionate family.  Anything physical like hitting was completely out of line even among siblings, but we could yell it out of our system.  His family is beyond supressed, so there is that difference.

I really work hard to keep my voice level and emotions in check when we need to have a 'talk' because I know those things shut him down very quickly.  I think he accuses me to get out of the convo sometimes because it is a button I have a hard time not responding to.......he says "Why are you hollering?" and I immediately start defending my tone and that I am in no way 'hollering' and it devolves into a convo about what is hollering and he escapes what is overwhelming him.  We dont fight a lot, so I am just putting some of these things together.  I don't play games and I don't supress my feelings, so we are trying to learn about each other......soo foreign.

He gets overwhelmed emotionally fairly easily in comparison to me, so I don't know that it is deliberate, but he tries to get out of things.  Last night he said he tried to talk about it and his evidence was that he said "So what are you thinking?"  I called him on it because

1. He knew what I was thinking and I wasn't getting into it out of concern for his overwhelm. 

2.  When I just shrugged and didn't want to talk about it right then, he immediately went to talking about his parents.  Now his parents situation is a huge source of stress for us at the moment, but there is nothing we can do about it and what I think we should/shouldn't do is pretty much moot cause they will do what they want, he will decide his response, and then I will decide to help or stay home based on what that decision is.  Talking about his parents is a way to pretend he is talking about something important while also putting us on the same team as they are driving us both bananas. 

I said you were absolutely not 'talking about it' you were avoiding talking about it while trying to pretend that you were open to talking.  He sorta admits that is true but it is a new idea to him (to me too) and he just said he isn't up to talking about anything till some of the things are off our plates.

I can sort of understand, but I feel better when talking and resolving and feel like a cat on a hot tin roof when something is hanging over my head like that.  He was trying to be all normal and like nothing is going on today and I just have to play politely civil and avoid being with him because I am not capable of playing that game.  My problem is that my feelings are all over my face all the time, so he always knows I am upset.  I think he really just wants me to pretend with him, but I have a boundary line against that.  I will chit chat and I will eat meals together and I will have Bible Study together, but I will not pretend everything is fine when he just got done telling me that I am irritating.

 

 

Pbartender's picture

A Cat On A Hot Tin Roof...

"I can sort of understand, but I feel better when talking and resolving and feel like a cat on a hot tin roof when something is hanging over my head like that."

Oh, Good Heavens, I'm the exact same way.  Unresolved problems absolutely drive me nuts...  But at the same time, if it's a problem that involves my wife, I'll often have to spend days gathering up enough courage to break the subject to her.  So, all that time, I've got the double whammy of the anxiety of the unresolved problem and also the anxiety of the anticipation of talking about it to my wife and her inevitably poor reaction to it.  I quite literally lose sleep over it.

"He was trying to be all normal and like nothing is going on today and I just have to play politely civil and avoid being with him because I am not capable of playing that game."

Are you sure he was pretending?  ADHD emotions can bounce back almost as fast as ADHD thoughts...  There's a chance he might have genuinely been over it and okay, for the moment at least, right then.

"I will not pretend everything is fine when he just got done telling me that I am irritating."

Just don't forget that, even though it may be true and even though you may have been half joking at the time, you also just got done telling him the same thing, you said it first, and you said it right after he defended you to his mother.

 

Pb.

Pbartender's picture

Perceptions...

Or, as Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

I sometimes think that a great deal of the problems between non-ADHD spouses and ADHD spouses could be solved simply by taking a little more effort to understand the other's point of view.

 

Pb.

Pbartender, you make a good

Pbartender, you make a good point about trying to understand the other's point of view.  I understand my ADHD spouse's point of view.  I take it into account.  I try to change my instinctual responses.  I've explained my point of view to my husband.  He continually engages in the same behaviors and does not change things based on very explicit things I've said about myself.

Aspen, about the conversations?  That happens to us.  I try to solve problems; my husband, intentionally or not, avoids discussing problems until I get mad, and then he says the problem is the way that I communicate.

This is a classic example of

This is a classic example of a conversation that should NEVER take place. If in the grand scheme of things,you guys navigate life successfully, then I would take this with a grain of salt and let it go. Truth is we probably do irritate them "often" in our own way...but they are much quicker to forgive and less likely to keep score. Just food for thought.

Your explanation was so clear

You described my feelings and thoughts exactly. Thank you for finding the right words to describe my frustrations. My hope by sharing your your post, my dh would get a aha moment  that might jump start a productive dialogue. I understand I think what you meant. If like me he told you that when you did xyz it annoyed him, if you knew than you wouldn't repeat it. Today I asked him to do something really important. He said he would when he was done. He finished what the was doing, forgetting to do what he just said he would do. I let out a sigh of frustration ( I was wrong to do this) and yelled " do you have any idea how frustrating that is?" he got mad. I waited a few mins and then said " I'm sorry, I felt hurt because what you forgot was calling for Counselling. When you do that, I feel unimportant and unloved. ". What I didn't say (because I am trying to only say one or two points at a time ...he said it bothers him.) is " you are hurt , I am hurt, our way doesn't work. There is help out there . With my need to fix it NOW,it baffles me why he is dragging his feet. What is stopping him from trying something new. We know for sure what we are doing isn't working, this might". 

Is this sort of how you are feeling Aspen? Btw , the chat in car with your mom , could have been me for exactly same reasons you said. My moM is so busy being pissed off at my dad, she doesn't see how she is behaving and meddling.

 

Sad Sickie, I think you do get where I was

I have no issue whatsoever with being told there are things about myself, my manner, attitude, whatever that need adjusting because they are hurtful in whatever manner.  I mean I might feel defensively when something specific is brought up, but I come from a family of frank talkers and I am used to having discussions about things that need changing.

Do I think it is odd that he has issues with the way I do things? Absolutely not but he never ever ever tells me what ANY of these things are.  And I ask.......regularly because I know he has a hard time saying anything that he fears will hurt me.  I know there are things, I try to discover them, and I get told that everything is perfect.

Then out of the blue he  blind sides me with a comment like this one and I find it SO frustrating.  I want him to just tell me so that I can work on it.  He doesn't want to tell me when he is upset or we are upset with each other because "why make it worse?" and he doesn't want to tell me when things are going well because "things are going so well, why cause a problem?"

It isn't that I can't understand his thinking, but I really don't understand why I can't get him to understand that talking about things are always better than internalizing things.  He thinks he doesn't need to talk about things because he 'just lets them go'.  And obviously as mates we all let a lot of things go, so I am sure this is true, but I also think there are things that are genuinely difficult for him to deal with that he doesn't talk about, and doesn't let go either because his family pretty much all are emotion stuffers.

Not totally sure how to deal with it but we did discuss the emotion stuffing with his coach on Monday and she says she will be working on some exercises with him to release his emotions and feelings.