"No good deed goes unpunished..."

So, yesterday my wife sends me a text, "Hey, is there any way I could borrow $20 until Friday? (though I had more gasoline than I actually do)"  She said needed it "tomorrow-ish".

I told her I probably could, that I'd see what I could do.  I didn't have cash to spare in the checking account until I get paid next, but I had one credit card with extra room on it...  I could put the gas on that, and send in an extra payment on Friday.  When she got home from work later last night, I let her know that I could cover some gas for her.

This morning, before I went to work (the gas station was closed by the time she got from work last night), she was still asleep, so I took the spare set of keys, filled up her car with gas, and picked up a few loaves of bread (we were completely out) while I was at it...  Today is our wedding anniversary, and while she isn't really in the mood to celebrate, I wanted to do something nice to let her know I was thinking of her.  I'd hoped the full tank would be a small, pleasant surprise toward that end.  Then, I left a little "Happy Anniversary, Love Me" note on her dashboard.

Today, she sends me another short text, thanking me for the note and wishing me a happy anniversary, too.  Then, she sends me a long text, beginning "I know this is going to sound petty, but...", complaining about the full tank of gas...  She didn't need it.  She wanted $20 cash for a little bit of gas and for parking at a minor league baseball game, and now she might not be able to go to her best friend's daughter's birthday party.  Also, she didn't like me taking her car without asking -- she knows it was to surprise her, but it still bothers her.  She appreciated my intentions...  Thanks for the gas and bread.


Okay, so I wanted to share this partially just so I could stop being frustrated by it, and partially because its a good example of how ADHD spouses inadvertently go wrong, and how the non-ADHD spouse sometimes feeds into that.

That first text was all the information I had...  I even saved it in my phone, so I wouldn't forget it.  To me, it read just as "Can you help me buy gas for my car? I could pay you back on Friday."  I knew she had the party at the baseball game, but she never mentioned anything about needing cash for parking (in fact, that's why I thought she needed the gas money...  she was saving her cash for parking and a present).  Perhaps there was some implication for cash in the text, but if there was, I completely missed it.

So, I thought I was doing something a little extra nice for her...  Instead, I ended up getting in trouble for doing it wrong and inadvertently violating a boundary for her car (even though we have a spare key ring with keys for both our cars for just this sort of circumstance) that I never knew about.

Now, I understand much of why she's upset about it -- despite my best intentions, I didn't do it the way she wanted and she also feels I overstepped my bounds a bit -- but...  How was I supposed to know?  There was a whole set of details that she neglected to mention.  Had I known them, I likely would have done things quite differently.

I know I'm sometimes forgetful and/or in attentive, but I don't think that had anything to do with this.  This felt like I was being set up for failure, and then blamed for it when it wasn't exactly my fault...  or, at least, not ALL my fault.  After all, how can I do something the certain way she wants it done, if I have to guess at the details she left out?  Even a non-ADHDer would get fouled up in those circumstances.

Anyway, we talked -- texted? -- it through a bit.  I complained about her not giving me all the details, and apologized for taking the car without letting her know.  She grumbled a bit and almost withdrew ("I really don't want to do this right now."), but asked for an explanation ("Why did you tell me you would be able to loan me $20 when that wasn't true?").  I explained the misunderstanding...  ("I didn't understand you needed cash.  I missed the implication.")  In the end, she said it would work out, and sorry for not being clear enough.

So, despite the misunderstanding and the drama (not mine, this time!), I think it turned out okay in the end.  "No good deed goes unpunished," or so they say.

I'm better now.



Pbartender's picture

Oh, and before anyone

Oh, and before anyone mentions...  Yeah, I know I was complaining about not having much spare money in another thread, and that filling her tank up with gas doesn't really go along with that.  My car's considerably more fuel efficient than my wife's and I've got enough to get back and forth to work for another week or two, so I won't need the money I budgeted for gas this week...  Her tank of gas is coming out my gas money, which I don't need this week, so don't worry.  ;)

Also...  Don't get me wrong...  The situation was initially frustrating, but I think we both handled it much better than usual and it all turned out good in the end.  That, at least, I'm seeing as a good sign, and I hope it continues.



I'm not seeing what you did wrong.

PB, I have been lurking for a few weeks. Now to some degree, I understand that there is all kinds of hurt and stuff that happens. I'm the non ADHD with an untreated husband. Many of the things he has done have been horribly hurtful and I'm really struggling to let go of my anger. That being said, I don't understand what this is about. She asked you for gas. You not only got her a little gas but  you filled her tank. Yes, you did it without asking, yes you took her car without asking but I would be happy about my husband doing something like that. In fact, to me, it would indicate he is thinking of me.

When my husband thinks to fill my tank it is when he has emptied it out. I get my car back with garbage, sticky stuff and cig butts all over the place (I don't smoke). If it is raining he may forget to close the windows or doors thus causing a soaking wet seat sometimes resulting in mildew. Then I am expected to thank him for getting gas and I'm petty if I say anything about the other stuff. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that he replaced my gas but driving to work with a soaking wet but is no fun.

So I think a lot of women would be grateful at your thoughtfulness.

Sorry PB I can see both sides of this one :(

It would be nice especially on your wedding anniversary if she could JUST be happy about the nice thing you did rather than "petty" about the way you didn't do it the way it was asked.

Based on the way she contacted you.......like first just saying Happy Anniversary and then later coming back with her complaint........it sounds like I get when I really KNOW this is the time to let something go but it just defeats me because I feel like letting it go would continue to play into some type of unhealthy pattern.

I have to say that this type of miscommunication is SOOO very frustrating for me. 

1.  Because I feel like I am very clear on what I need--I see the wiggle room that she left you for your assumption (and maybe my husband sometimes has the same argument), but in that case...

2.  My point is always "when in doubt ask".  My husband seems a bit more like you in that he likes the gesture........hey I like gestures and LOVE to be thought of, but if you are doing something in response to a request of mine, I'd like it to be what I actually requested.  He says things like "But I wasn't sure if you really needed X or if Y was sufficient."  Ok I can agree, but I am right here, we talk at least 10 times a day and that is when we aren't together, so I think I know how you could resolve that little issue :)

I know that would have ruined the surprise, so I am going to go with you on this one :)   BUT for the future if you try to err on the side of clarifying I think it will go well with you!

Again I understand what happened and I agree with you about the way you worked it out.  I know you are frustrated but you two are engaging with each other more healthily in my opinion so there are some things to be very proud of here.

Pbartender's picture

Yep, I saw her side of it, too...

"...it sounds like I get when I really KNOW this is the time to let something go but it just defeats me because I feel like letting it go would continue to play into some type of unhealthy pattern."

Yep, I caught that too, once she made the complaint (and especially since I was feeling the same way about my response to it), and I completely understood the complaint and why she was bothered after the fact, but...

"My point is always "when in doubt ask"."

...I try to make a habit of it, but at the time, I simply didn't have the doubt and so didn't even think about asking for clarification.  I just hadn't realized there was a need for it.  Adding to it is that, in the past, very often when I've asked for clarification -- either because I forgot a detail, or she didn't specify it -- it's been taken as proof that I (purposefully) wasn't paying attention, and she'd react badly.  That sort of history might giving me a little bit of subconscious reluctance to ask when I could or should.  I'll have to keep an eye on that.

"I have to say that this type of miscommunication is SOOO very frustrating for me."

Yep...  Me too.  I hate it when it happens.

You're right, though...

The important bit is that:

  • She didn't just "dramatically" walk away from the argument, but gave me a chance to explain what happened.
  • I managed to give my explanation and express my frustration calmly, clearly, respectfully and without equivalent "drama".
  • We both admitted our mistakes and apologized for them.
  • We both genuinely appreciated the other's efforts (she was truly pleased with the note, and how I'd placed over her fuel gauge to cover the surprise) and thanked each other for them.
  • And after it was over, I think we both felt good about how it turned out.

You're right, though...  Thinking about it, all in all, it's a good sign.  Maybe I should move this over to the "Progress and Hope" forum?  ;)

And thanks for the feedback.



Here's a word

It's called:


It's something my husband has no idea about either.

Not possible to meet a partners needs without communication.

My husband doesn't get that either.

Not trying to be an ass to you, just hoping it's not another divorice.

Pbartender's picture

Not quite so easy...

"It's called: ASK"

I get what you're saying, but it's not always as easy as that.  "ASK" is not always the right answer.

Sometimes, it is just a simple request and elaboration is unnecessary, or even unwanted.  In that case, asking can become an annoyance, especially to someone who is used to a spouse afflicted with forgetfulness and inattentiveness.

Let's say you wanted an apple.  Just an apple.  Whatever non-specific kind happens to be in the fridge.  You ask, "Can you bring back an apple for me while you're in the kitchen?"  If he started asking:  "A green apple or a red apple?"  "Would you like it peeled?"  "How about sliced?"  and so on, would your initial reaction be closer to...

"Oh, how sweet!  He wants to make certain he gets me an apple just the way I want it!" 

...or, would it be more like...

"Oh, for crying out loud!  It's not rocket science...  I just want a freaking apple.  Don't you pay attention to anything I say?  I should have gotten it myself."

...be honest, now.  ;)   And because we so easily miss the social cues, it can be tough for ADHDers to tell when we should be asking and when we shouldn't.



She should have been more

She should have been more clear with her request...she had no right to criticize you when you filled the need she requested..GAS. Period. Instead of pointing out to you how you (yet again) didn't fulfill her need, she should have kicked herself for not being more specific and made a mental note to do so next time.