Let me start off by saying, does anyone feel their ADHD spouse isn't truly "married" to them? To my husband, it's like, we're legally married, but he does what he wants to do and doesn't regard the fact that we're a team, we're "one". He makes decisions without discussing it with me first, he doesn't even think he needs to. Well now we've got a whopper. His father passed away last week and his family is already having all this talk about where their mother will live (she's in ok health but has epilepsy and can't live alone). There's 5 kids in the family. Two of them are daughters who live near their mother in California, both well off with large homes. Then there's us in Georgia. My husband brought up his mother living here and he knew I wasn't a huge fan, but we never made any decisions. And guess what he lovingly does? Offers her anyway! We've got 2 young kids, trying for a 3rd (although I may end that now). Our house isn't terribly big. AND my mom already lives with us in our basement! We'd have to turn our small dining room into a room for his mom. I'm a stay at home mom, and my husband offers this, where it only affects me. I'M taking care of her. I'M driving her everywhere, cooking her meals, etc. She's not the type to help much either. My husband will not get out of his dream world and be a team with me. He makes choices by himself, depsite how it affects me (as we can see). This hurt me so incredibly bad. And despite all the talking I've done with him, he still doesn't think he did a single thing wrong. And he won't tell them she can't live with us. We fly out Thursday for the funeral. But I am so tempted to not go with him. I want to see if being without me makes any difference to him. I honestly don't think it will. He doesn't "rely" on me, except for cleaning up after him, etc. He needs a wake up call bad. I don't want to divorce, but he NEEDS a wake up call. Depsite it being selfish perhaps, I really am tempted to keep me and the kids home and him go to Cali by himself. Emotionally, he'll be fine without me. He doesn't have any emotions anyway. He's been taking the death very well. I made an "emergency" therapy appt for tomorrow PRAYING the therapist will get through to him. I don't know what to do. Should I go to Cali? How should we handle all this?
Oh help me, this is just getting to be too much
Submitted by Cathryn on 11/02/2009.
Going to funeral might be best
Submitted by arwen on
Cathryn, my husband also did not understand for a very long time that marriage is a *partnership* -- not just a living arrangement. It took years of my hammering on this subject. We talked about the nature of marriage, and the nature of partnerships. We talked about fairness. We talked about the need for communcation and negotation. The basic idea I eventually found my husband could best focus on was if something he is thinking about doing could potentially impact me, he needs to discuss it with me -- *before* doing whatever it is, if at all possible, but if impossible to do beforehand, certainly at his earliest opportunity. This has not been easy for my husband to implement (he's gotten better over the years), but at least he can understand the need for it (based on object lessons from situations where he failed to consider me, or where I mirrored his kind of behavior so he could see what it was like to be in my shoes).
Regarding your immediate situation, I once sent my husband (along with our pre-teen son) to a funeral on his side of the family without going along myself (our daughter was very sick, and I needed to stay home with her). It was a mistake. My husband has the infuriating habit of giving the greatest credence to whomever has spoken last on a subject. Knowing this, I made sure we had a very careful, specific discussion about things he should do while away, could do while away, and should not -- how much money he could spend, what kinds of commitments he could and should not make, what our son should and should not be allowed to do, etc., as well as *why* he should or shouldn't. He seemed to agree and understand. But in the event, when he was presented with situations where he was urged to do something different from what we had discussed, he just tossed out our negotiated plans. When he got home, and I asked and found out about what had happened, he justified his actions on the basis of either thinking it didn't really matter that much, or that when we had discussed it, we hadn't known that he would end up in the situations he did -- even though some of our conversation *had* addressed them! (He'd forgotten.)
If your husband has these same kinds of habits, it may be best for you to attend the funeral with him. He may need a wake-up call, but I'm not sure your not going would be effective in this situation. And, although I hesitate to say this, it could lead to him convincing himself later on that you were unfeeling or unsupportive when his father died, which would be unlikely to make him receptive to an appeal for consideration of *your* feelings. (I got hit with this from my husband, even though I had a perfectly good reason for not going -- he forgot about our daughter's being so sick and all he remembered was that I hadn't gone and then yelled at him about everything I thought he'd done wrong when he'd got back home.)
If you go, you would be in a position if necessary to say something like, "What dear <Sonny> means is that we *wish* we could find a way to have you stay with us, but I'm afraid we cannot make it work right now, we really do not have the space. And we are working through so many problems right now, with <Sonny's> ADHD and the way it is impacting our family, we really couldn't give you as much time as we would want to. I don't think <Sonny> realizes how much of an impact this is having on us right now." In these kinds of situations, I've found it works best for me to exude all the genuine sympathy I truly feel, while sticking to the unqualified realities of why I can't do what someone else wants. Initially, I was reluctant to bring up in the presence of my husband's family his ADD as a factor in not being able to do things, mostly because I was pretty sure it would be perceived as me trying to embarrass him or blame him for my own disinclinations or just being mean. But I eventually decided that it would be a lot better in the end for me to be honest and straightforward about it -- not bemoaning my husband's ADD, just matter-of-fact explanations. People didn't always understand or accept them, but they came to accept that *I* was genuinely convinced of them.
Good luck, hon, I hope something I've said helps you in this tough time.
Thanks again dear Arwen!
Submitted by Cathryn on
Thanks again dear Arwen! Many things have happened since I first posted this. First, my aunt offered to pay for the airlines tickets, so the whole family was able to go, bless her heart. We saw our therapist yesterday and she was heaven-sent. She saw my standing and agreed with it (although of course as a therpist she has to be "neutral" in a way so as to not point fingers at any single person). So the main thing was she was able to convince my husband whereas I was not, which I'm getting used to I suppose. So, though he still thinks he's right, we now are on the same page that for now is not a good time b/c of many things, but mostly our rocky marriage, the fact that my mother lives here already, and lack of space. It's still a sore spot with us, and I know it will be in the future b/c he will continue to nag me to get her to live here even though she'll be happy where she is. He just loves to be against me, I guess it's fun for him, I don't know. Gives him a challenge. I really don't know what our future holds. I like to think we'll be together forever, and divorce is NOT something I imagine myself doing, but if he never wants to change then what choice do I have? He knows I can't live like this forever, but is extremely offended when I say that, he thinks I'm wanting a divorce. I just want him to know that this is serious and he needs to admit and conquer this ADD.
opposition a "game"?
Submitted by arwen on
My husband, thank goodness, never opposed me just to bedevil me (his dad is like that, and my husband didn't like it when he was growing up, and so worked hard not to be like that -- my great good fortune!) But I've seen his dad in action many times -- for many years he did this constantly, despite the fact that he knew it upset my husband's mother a great deal. It really was just too much fun for him to resist.
Ironically, I put an end to this, unintentionally. We were visiting with them for a holiday, and the evening before the celebration, we were discussing child-parent relationships over dessert. My father-in-law made some pretty extreme comments about what he believed was intrinsic to all such relationships, but I considered them earnestly and honestly before venturing to disagree and express my experience. He continued to insist that he was right and claimed I was being dishonest. I again thought back to my own experiences and explained again why I disagreed, and my husband cautioned him that I typically called a spade a spade and should be taken seriously. Instead, my father-in-law needled me further and scoffed that I just didn't want to admit my true feelings. Now, I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but I've spent a significant amount of time in my life in honest, critical, self-examination, and it frosted my shorts to be accused of dishonesty or duplicity, and to have what I was saying ignored or dismissed out of hand. I'm afraid I lost my temper, banged my fist on the table, shouted a protest, grabbed my purse, and walked out of their home. I walked about a mile or so to a nearby motel, checked in, and called my husband (who was still with his parents, where he and his mom were chewing my father-in-law out). I told my husband that it didn't matter to me either way whether he joined me at the motel or stayed with his parents, but that even though I felt bad about losing my temper, *I* wasn't coming back to be insulted and disrespected again. My husband and I negotiated a path forward that was acceptable to both of us, as well as to my mother-in-law (as I really did not want to totally spoil the holiday for her).
Over time and considerable negotiation, we patched things up. But my father-in-law has *never* bedeviled anybody in this manner in my presence again. I had made it very much *not* a game, and caused real consequences to occur. Instead of him walking away feeling superior and victorious, he was in the doghouse with everybody. He emphatically did not like the results. This hadn't been my intention in acting the way I had -- I had just spontaneously combusted (and wasn't very proud of my failure to keep my temper). I eventually came to realize that the key had been my refusal to "play" his "game" according to his "rules". In later years, when faced with this behavior from other people (mostly ADDers), I've gone along with this game if it was brief and not about anything of importance, but I've found that under other circumstances, the best approach is to expose the game and to decline to budge one iota from my position and refusing to play it any further. Usually it stops being fun this way and they stop. Once it happened that someone visiting us wouldn't quit, at which point I politely but firmly informed them that they were no longer welcome in my home, and I would appreciate their immediate departure, handed them their coat and opened the door. I made it clear there was no room for discussion or explanations, only possibly an apology. Again, it stopped being fun awfully fast.
I don't know if you can find a suitable way to stop the fun your husband seems to have in opposing you, but I suspect that if you can, you may see less of this behavior. You probably can't do the same kind of thing I did without risking a lot of serious consequences to *you*. In the situation I was in, I really did not consider that I had anything significant to lose. But you may be able to find some other method of taking the fun out of it for him. There could be a danger, I guess, that eliminating the fun might also eliminate any motivation on your spouse's part to discuss things at all, which wouldn't be very good either. But in my experience, most of these bedevilers mistakenly believe that when their opponents are upset, it's because they are "losing" the "game" -- they are surprised to discover that they are causing real grief, and are sobered into giving up the "game", at least temporarily, and will engage in a more legitimate discussion if they can.