In a recent "Marriage Tip" email Melissa sent, she warns "If you are in one of those relationships where eye-rolling and other non-verbal dismissal cues are used, watch out!" My wife sent me an email after reading it that said - "I think Melissa was directing this at the person with ADD, because if the person without ADD used non-verbal cues, the person with ADD wouldn't even notice it."
I have been thinking. I definitely use and also read non-verbal cues very well. I know my wife's ADHD prevents her from noticing non-verbal cues. So I am trying to be more clear when I communicate with her, saying what I mean explicitly rather than relying on non-verbal cues.
I haven't read anything about whether people with ADHD also have a difficulty using non-verbal cues. Do they not know they are using them when they do? For example, my wife will say something in a tone of voice or use an expression that communicates to me displeasure, frustration, annoyance, etc. Sometimes it will be an eye roll. Sometimes it will feel like she "barks" her response to me. Etc. I have recently started checking my assumptions by asking her about it, saying something like - "Are you annoyed by what I just said?" She almost always says no.
So, is she not admitting her feelings or unaware of her feelings? Or is she really not annoyed but just unintentionally communicating that to me? Do I need to learn to ignore non-verbal cues from my wife? Does anyone else have experience with this?
Submitted by jgf on
My husband (he has ADHD, I do not) often makes a face that makes me think he's upset with something I've said. Or he'll use a tone of voice that comes across as angry. And I too began to ask him if he was mad because it was coming across that way.
He would either tell me that he didn't realize he was making such a face or that he was mad at himself and he didn't mean for it to come across as being mad at me (depending on the situation). Sometimes he's just frustrated because he's trying to explain something to me and I'm not understanding what he's trying to say. He says he gets frustrated with himself for not being able to communicate with me. I really don't think he realizes when he makes the face (nor do I when I roll my eyes!). Nor do I think he realizes when he's answering with a loud angry tone -- to him it's no different than if he answers quietly. But he is aware of how he's feeling when the face or tone happen.
Now I'm better able to figure out if he's mad/frustrated with himself or with me or just not realizing what he's doing (facial expressions/tone of voice/volume). But I still ask him (if he's mad at something I've said) because I don't want to presume anything.
Hope that helps a little.
Yes, That Helps
Submitted by Hoping4More on
It definitely helps. I don't think I was considering the possibility that my wife is mad at herself when I think she might be angry with ME. Although, as I write this, I am reminded that often, when I know my wife is NOT angry with ME (for example, when she is angry with a customer service rep she is on the phone with) and I still ask her not to yell, because it is very unpleasant for me to be in the presence of such anger/yelling, her response often is "I'm not yelling at YOU." As if that makes it perfectly OK to be ranting and raving. But that's a whole OTHER issue, I suppose. :-)
TMITP (too much information to process)
Submitted by Miss Behaven on
I use incorrect non-verbal cues and verbal cues (such as tone of voice) at times. So do the other ADDers in my life. If you can't read non-verbal communication and tone of voice very well yourself, where are you going to learn to do it yourself? I was 17 when a teacher pulled me aside and gave me heck for never looking people in the eye, I was shocked. I didn't realise I was supposed to do that.
Therapy has helped and so has motherhood. Teaching my children how to socialize has forced me to learn those skills. It’s always a struggle though.
Just the other day I was chatting with a friend and as I was responding to her my baby woke up and started kicking my bladder (I am preggo) I responded to my friend with a pained and annoyed tone of voice that she took exception too. It seems I also made a sour face. The tone of voice and face was due to having my insides getting a workout and not to do with what I was saying to my friend. Attempts to explain this did not go over very well.
It seems non-Add people have a better time shielding the inner thought process, keeping it from leaking out into their outer expressions. I often feel I need to put up a mask, a smiling mask to hide the inner turmoil around the anxiety of socializing. I try to be aware of what my voice, body and face are doing as I communicate, as well as be aware of what other’s faces, voice and body are doing but its all very overwhelming. TMITP (too much information to process)
My ADD spouse is often short
Submitted by Clarity on
My ADD spouse is often short tempered. The way I said something, the way I looked, even just my ears! (Okay, that was soon after we got married. He insisted that I not tuck my hair behind my ears. He thinks my ears are too small. geesh!) If I'm mindful, I'm able to simply ask "Does that really piss you off?" Then he gets mad and says I'm making things into something they're not (?) and he denies that he's angry. At other times, if I'm upset about something not related to him and talk about it, he gets irritated with me and sometimes thinks that I'm mad at him. It's very frustrating as he can't seem to understand where these emotions are coming from or going. He just seems to be hyper sensitive to anger and irritation. I've learned to speak in a more monotone way in an effort to avoid the confusion any emotion seems to cause. It's tough as I'd just like to be able to be myself!
Thank you.... wow... I just
Submitted by Pink on
Thank you.... wow... I just join this site... and oh boy.... I am seeing everything the same problem for every wife suffer when they have a husband with ADD. Just happen over the weekend with my husband. I was telling him about my son (who also have ADD) if he took his medicine and I said I might need to stop it because he is not growing with height and weight oh... boy... he got very angry and yelling. The way you said the word it hurt me.. You should speak that way... or you should have said that word and not that word.
It is sound like we must change to fit their problem but they are not changing to fit us. That sometime we are talking the way we are talking and it doesn't mean we are pointing to them. That is the problem there. They are too much with their feeling. I think they need a medicine to reduce their feeling and they way the react to the communication. That is the big problem here... that why there is no communication because they are too sensitive to everything.
Medication provides more focus and control
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
Hi - medication actually usually allows more focus and more control, rather than reducing the feelings that a person with ADHD has, which is a little bit different.
The point I try to make on this website is that BOTH members of the couple need to adjust to ADHD in their relationship. The ADHD partner will benefit greatly if he or she takes full responsibility for the ADHD and its consequences, treating it effectively. The non-ADHD partner needs to understand more clearly what it is like to live with ADHD, and his or her own role in the downward spiral of the relationship. It doesn't work to "suppress" the feelings or needs of either partner - fairly quickly this leads to resentment and anger that damage the relationship. Rather, both partners needs to find ADHD-sensitive ways to work through their issues without triggering anger and resentment.
How can ADHD person take a
Submitted by Pink on
How can ADHD person take a control of themselves when they are not aware of what they are doing and can't control themselves. It is still end up to the non ADD to work and do the work for them because they are like" drunk" and unable to think and now knowing what they have done. They are like living in the cloud and can't see. For example, there will be a bag on the floor and my husband keep walking around it or over it and never take a second to simply pick up the bag and put it away. What is wrong with they way they see or function? I can't understand that.
hard to believe
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
If he's not treating the ADHD the bag probably doesn't bother him - perhaps even register. I hear this all the time. TRULY - your husband is not lazy or uncaring. He is DISTRACTED- too distracted to function properly. Stop blaming him for being a bad person and encourage him to get to a doctor to get better treatment.
What if this is as good as it gets
Submitted by Sueann on
Patients can't choose the drugs they take, the doctors do. What if he's taking the highest dose the doctor will give him and he still doesn't pick up that bag? That's my problem. He's taking meds. It works great for work (although he's been prosecuted for the drugs) but changes not a thing at home. He says he should not have to do anything at home because he works. How do I not think he's a bad or lazy person? Especially when I'm physically handicapped?
I believe this writer has the same problem. Her husband takes meds and she's mentioned counseling, but nothing changes. That is where I find myself as well.
Thank you. My husband has
Submitted by Pink on
My husband has been taking his medicine since he was a teenager. Now he is 37 years old. He never work any full time job. Every job he had, it only lasted a month or 2. He get fired for talking too much and not doing what the boss said.
He take Adderal. before we got married his parents took care of everything for him. They paid his bill, his mother tell him what to wear she shop for him. He has nothing to offer or do. He just there in the world to take in from everyone and have fun.
I am a working person with I have been working since I was 15 years old. I am also 37 years old same age as he is. We both meet in College and we both have a degree. I didn't think of ADD as a big problem back then because I had no idea what it was.
We have been married for 11 years now... I have two kids 6 and 3. My son has ADD but not my daughter. She is more like me very alert.
I have giving him a whole lot of support we have been to counseling and even before I had kids. The counselor said to divorce him. I didn't agree with her just because he is not working and keeping the house a mess. Then, I said to myself maybe he will change if he is a father. Well... nothing change. He became more stress that I don't give him enough time. I am working full time with kids. And he still wants my full attention. It is hard for me to do that when he doesn't help out or give in return.
Now we are in counseling again... he refuse to evaluate his medicine. and I think he needs another dose after 5 pm but he said he make him race. The counselor keep saying oh... ADD has nothing to do with his behavior. I think she is doing that to make him feel better. He talk very loud then she said I want "both" of you to talk soft. I just hate it when she put me in the middle of it even though I had nothing to do with it. She think that way she is not pointing to him directly even thought both of us (me and the counselor) know what she mean. But he doesn't see it that way. He seem she is talking loud not me.
Maybe the bag doesn't bother him but it is the right thing to do is to put it away. When, I come in the house and I pick up stuff and put them away. If I don't pick them up... it is no big deal, it doesn't bother anyone... but that what will create a mess in the first place.
His mother have a very strict rule... and he follow the rule in her house. I think she was very strict and because of that he refuse to do it in our home. I think he is trying to make up for his childhood time where his mother will not allow his behavior to interfere in her house. When I tell him I want a clean home and he should pick up his stuff... he tell me you are not my mother. I think he is very angry about his past and he is venting to me. It is unfair for me where I am trying to set up my own home.
Every time something happen... he said I am going to tell my mother and I am going to ask my mother.
My face is incredibly
Submitted by de-fragmenting on
My face is incredibly transparent. its a source of great embarrassment to me. why should my innermost feelings be revealed in this way? I don't mean to communicate them! I know some of them are totally irrational, and not about the other person at all.
also, I frown when I am concentrating.
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
Research suggests that adults with ADHD do have trouble reading non-verbal cues. For example, they might be in a conversation and not realize that the person they are with is getting bored by too much detail, etc. But eye-rolling is one that's pretty easy to pick up and sends a bad message of dismissal to which ever partner is on the receiving end of it.
As for using cues - Ned Hallowell describes one of the aspect of ADHD as "having bad brakes." In other words, many with ADHD express exactly what they are feeling before they even have a chance to think about it, or to think better of it. This can get them into hot water. If your wife says things in an annoyed tone of voice it likely reflects that she's feeling bad - same as with you.
The best advice is to be sensitive to how you present your own ideas and think carefully about being as gentle as possible (i.e. hold yourself to a high standard). Express your ideas in a neutral, non-threatening way, but make sure you do get to express them. Holding too much inside can lead to anger. On your wife's part, the best thing she can do is make sure that she if fully aware of how ADHD impacts you both, and treat it fully. I'm about to write a blog post on treating ADHD (later this week) so check back for more info on that.