My fiance and I have been together for four and a half years, lived together for three, have been through much together, and will be married at the end of summer. We are a good balance. We both suffer from mental health disorders, and while this makes things particularly difficult, we are both therefore pretty well-equipped in terms of empathy, understanding, and gathered education to help the other out. It's a backwards blessing in disguise that we both have disorders. That said, we still have our standard relationship issues.
His ADHD is pretty all-encompassing, and he suffers depression from it, though that is well-treated. I have major depression, generalized & social anxiety disorder, a nonspecific mood disorder, and am anorexic-in-long-remission, and my situation is...well, it's not good in general.
Though we possessed pretty solid basic knowledge of ADHD, we wanted to get our "doctorate." ;) After reading ADHD and Marriage and Is It You, Me or ADHD? among others with tears and shock this last autumn, it became extremely clear that his ADHD wasn't even close to controlled. He has been in therapy for years, and takes medication, so that is one battle I never had to fight. Because he is such a different person on the meds, we both became somewhat complacent that that was the treatment along with keeping his verbal filter in check. Ugh, not even close, which was an unexpected relief for me in that I had renewed hoped that things could really get easier in many ways. However, because of this complacency, he has formed really bad habits. We both suffer from the "I'm fine, doctor" syndrome at therapy, so I have begun going to every other or so session of his to make clear how things are from my perspective, which has greatly helped in his treatment. (We have the same therapist, and my fiance is also kind enough to reciprocate aid of that sort for me too.)
After reading in depth about ADHD, he thankfully became more aware, or it finally clicked or something, what my position felt like in the relationship. It was a relief for me in many ways, but he seems to slowly be forgetting as the months tick by now. Back are the accusations of "nag." Shushing is back too, which is so demeaning to me and is instantaneously infuriating, especially when he often speaks loudly. I'm trying the best I can to keep life on track, to make sure the house doesn't turn into a maelstrom of his dirty dishes, clothes and papers everywhere, and that we eat healthy, home-made meals instead of being sluggish and spending loads on take-out.
Healthy eating is extremely important to me (portion control, no fast food, staying away from processed) since I deal with anorexic thoughts daily, but if he is left to his own devices, he will get take-out for every meal and let the trash pile up. He always says he wants help eating properly and with staying on track with exercise, but then resents me when I tell him we can't buy go get ice cream or eat out every other day. He'll say I'm in charge of health because he can't do it, and then when I veto another slice of pizza tells me to stop and that he can eat what he wants. He has an extremely fast metabolism and is quite thin so doesn't "see" what he's doing to himself, but his diet only makes his reactions and moods worse. Dorritos and soda is not lunch!! He has gotten much better and monitors himself much better as well, but he is a sugar hound, and that makes him bounce off the walls.
His reactions are by-the-book defensive for most things, but instead of getting full-blown angry, he turns into a real a**. When not medicated, he says random things, as if he has low-scale contextual coprolalia with some child-like goofiness thrown in. This is extra problematic, as a huge part of my mood disorder is anger/serious impatience. Admittedly, I am quick to swear him up and down when I am constantly put down for trying to help and made to feel like the crazy one he's walking on eggshells around, and in turn my depression kicks in too, and I end up apologizing for being mean and for all of it entirely. It's hard not to go crazy if you're a sane person put into a padded room - a terrible cycle.
He is always worried about me and trying to provide because of my disorders, and I'm afraid he doesn't take the time to look at himself and his needs emotionally (self-esteem, personal goals). Everything is about me, and I hate being the center of attention, haha! He always says we can talk about anything together and I am always open and feel respected, but when something is bothering him, he doesn't want to "make [me] feel worse" so hides it. This of course makes his mood worse, and then I try to pry because I know he's lying about nothing bothering him, knowing that if he doesn't share that things get so bad he finally breaks and has a meltdown.
For everyday things, I feel like we'll often talk and/or agree about the same thing, but he doesn't see that and feels attacked. With anyone else, individual things would be said as matching items of the same opinion, and it would end with something like "Yes, exactly!" If I try to comment on something he just said, he gets defensive, like I didn't listen to him (irony...), when really I am just conversing. Example: Him: "The sky is so orange right now." Me: "Yeah, it looks like sherbet!" Him: "So... Orange. Yeah." Me: "Yeah, totally." Him: "That's what I just said." Another ironic point is that he often repeats himself when he :feels: he is misunderstood, often upsetting others because he keeps dragging them conversationally into a circle when, really, they do understand.
At this point, I feel like we've run into another slump where I feel like a roommate instead of his partner at best, and I can't talk about anything semi-serious with him without him interrupting me with a completely unrelated subject (if I do that to him, it's a crisis), him getting defensive mid-way, or him just straight up not paying attention then getting upset when he decides to return to the whole one-minute long conversation and accuses me of not making sense or never mentioning something.
There are things I've told him, like, "Don't put trash in the kitchen sink," for our entire time living together, but it's as if every chance he gets, he will do it. This is just a mild example, and mostly I am frustrated about things like him shushing me when I try to explain myself. I understand old habits die hard, but he never catches himself or apologizes when he does these things. He's not one to never apologize either - if he was wrong about something, he is very apologetic and humble, so it's even more frustrating - he doesn't see, maybe, how frustrated it makes me or how much a little thing like leaving his razor and charger on the counter actually counts for now since I've repeatedly if not daily told him many of these things. It carries the weight of every other time I've told him not to. I realize repetition is part of the challenge, but at what point does it cross over into flippancy on his part, disrespect?
It is stressful right now with the wedding coming up and me having been laid off, but luckily he has enjoyed wedding planning and being involved and sees it as a fun project, so I'm thinking it's not really that as much as it is the same old reaction to standard new stresses, which would mainly be the money crunch we're experiencing now. Especially since the only reason we've waited to get married is because of me!
I am one that falls into the stereotypical non-ADHD partner predicament: feeling like his mother. I'm not a controlling person by nature, so even :having: to in certain aspects for life to function is seriously stressful. Why would I want to monitor his movements when I can hardly deal with my own issues (anxiety, depression, anger, etc.)? I don't want to be anyone's mother. I don't even want children of my own - why would I want to mother my husband?
As of right now, I feel like we are two ships passing in the night, even though I am currently unemployed, so it's not like our schedules or off or anything. Whatever we say to each other get misconstrued or something. I misunderstand him because he doesn't focus enough to explain what he means or realize the way he's saying something sounds really terrible, and he misunderstands me because what I say isn't in the exact format he expects it to be in (which changes daily). See: Him: "Did you take out some chicken?" Me: "It's cooking now." Him: "But did you take it out of the freezer?" Me: "How could I cook it if it was frozen?" Him: "...You could have just said, 'Yes.'"
I would love to go to therapy for couples' communication and dealing with mental disorders as a couple, but it would have to be private because of my anxiety, and we can't afford that at all. The combination of the both of us together is the makings of fireworks or dynamite, depending on the day. Of course, both of us being frustrated and tired makes the most basic affection undesirable, at least for me.
Don't get me wrong - most of the time things are great, with a little strange dance in conversation time and again. My fiance is fantastic. Silly as it is, he treats me like a princess when he's actually listening to me. I feel like getting upset over these things makes me seem like I'm complaining about a draft in a mansion, but I have feelings too (more than I'd like).
I guess what it comes down to is that I feel like he doesn't hear me - or how he sounds. Then time passes and he comes to an epiphany - strangely enough what I'd been telling him the whole time, but when someone else says it, it's gold. Him not listening to me makes me feel unimportant, angry, and depressed. But, I don't know how to "make" him listen. I've tried keeping the focus all on me "It hurts :me: when you....", but he seems to like jumping on that boat and making me into the bad guy. I've tried making time for conversations that need to happen - I'll let him set the rules, like no yelling, no laughing (at someone's expense), and no eye rolling, but he breaks his own rules five minutes in. The only thing that's ever seemed to work is if I send him an email - but the idea of spending my marriage writing emails whenever I need to talk about something is horrible. I'll leave notes - he loses them. Set an alarm on his phone - he puts it on silent.
I'm at a loss as to what I am not doing. I know I have things to work on, especially like anger, but I think anyone would start to get upset. What am I not doing? What haven't I tried? We are happy together, but I :know: things can be even better - I don't want him to feel complacent after we get married and that he doesn't have to impress me anymore, even though we've been together so long already.