Permission to enter His Space

I continue to mourn the fact that I have to ask permission to enter my husbands space. Why can't I just turn to my husband while we're sitting on the couch, and ask a normal, every day question, get an answer, then move on? ("Honey, can you please get out the nail gun and air compressor for me so I can put the lattice up on the back fence?" Issue #1: I can't find anything in his garage mess, issue #2: He will never actually do this chore for us, so I have to do it.) Why does it have to be this incredibly hard dance that involves asking him "Is this a good time to talk?" Trying to figure out if he's rested enough to carry on a conversation. Asking him to disengage from the computer, the TV, the cell phone, AND the tablet, that are all spread around him, long enough to listen to me.

This evening when I asked him that question, I didn't go through the dance. I knew better, but I simply asked him the question, and started to realize my mistake as he started to answer me while looking at his computer and was typing while answering me. I knew right then, that I had made the error. But why is it MY error? Why can't it be partly his fault for not treating his ADD adequately enough to save our marriage? Why can't it be his fault for realizing that I wanted to ask him something quick and simple, and STOP with the electronics long enough to answer me? Why can't he, why can't he, why can't he? Because he can't/won't right now. That's it. I have to stick to my boundaries. I have to stick to this incredibly complicated way of life regarding interacting with my own husband. I have to stick to all I have learned about how the ADD brain works, and how my own therapy has taught me to hold my boundaries. I have to keep reminding him that the lying, disrespect, distraction, speeding tickets, disorganization/messes, financial problems are only going to last so long, before I've had enough, and I say goodbye.

I mourn the fact that I had to significantly lower my bar when it comes to cleanliness, organization, etc. I mourn that I conceded to let everything he does be "good enough". I mourn that I can never, ever, have a spontaneous, "normal" conversation with my husband. I mourn that every single interaction we have is layered so deeply that I feel like I'm going crazy. I mourn that I had to thank a grown man for doing chores around his own house. I mourn that he is on so many pain meds and anti-anxiety meds and sleep aids and alcohol that we can't have sex any more. I mourn that he has so little motivation to do anything, that I don't feel like he's part of this family any more.

Permission to enter his life, his space, his Heart? I guess I've been denied because there's no room. I have never hated anything more in my life than his ADD, and the blindfold it has put on him.

barneyarff's picture

I hear you.   It is so very

I hear you.   It is so very frustrating to be told that the non has to tippy toe around this problem.  It's frustrating to have experts label anything we do with a stamp that implies we have done something wrong.  I am constantly reminded of that old story of the 2 people going to town with their donkey.  Whether they both rode it, one rode it, neither rode it there were people on the road who criticized them for very particular reasons.  this is how I feel about any solution I use to deal with my husband's ADHD.

I do not know why it can't be the ADHDers responsibility to learn how to act in a normal fashion or at least make the rules of engagement doable.  Even if I ask, "how do you want me to approach you about a problem we need to deal with?"  And have paper and pencil to write it down so I do it correctly, DH will see that as a trap. and get mad.   And of course he gets mad, because he is being asked to set parameters instead of just flying around by the seat of his pants, doing whatever he wants and "letting" me take care of the boring grunt work.

I mourn the loss of a normal conversation too.  We can talk about the weather or politics or global warning but God forbid if I ask him about what we are going to do for the holidays.  In typical fashion, I can't get an answer out of him until about Jan 11th when it's all said and done and I'm trying to get him to put away all the decorations he dragged out.  THEN he'll have plenty to say about how the holidays did not measure up to his standards.

Anything that has to do with our family or involves decisions is a huge problem to get him pinned down to talk to.  I firmly believe (because he has told me this) that he thinks I should take care of all of the family stuff just like his Mom did.  Well, first of all, his Mom did not own a business and her husband is a jerk who sat on his butt waiting to be served or worse, "helped" but made such a mess that it caused supreme chaos.  My DH also believes that he can have a wish and that I will somehow magically make it happen.  

He has been mad at me for several years now because I just won't cater to his every whim nor will I take care of the house, the kids and the finances on my own.


I also mourn that nothing in this house gets done because DH just does it..  It always has to be some big drama involving lots of planning and measuring and buying of stuff when all that is needed is a hammer and a nail.

At this point I don't know if he can make enough amends for this to work.  He has until the end of the year to clear out the garage, the shed and his room so a realtor can come in and look at our house.  By the first of the year I will be gone one way or another  I hope, if there is a God.



hear you, too

Same with mine. Yesterday, I needed to talk to him about a pile of (his) mail and papers that had been piling up. It is just so hard--I asked him the day before if we could "talk" at this time yesterday about this stuff, because the kids would be out. It involved insurance and open enrollment and retirement, and it couldn't wait any longer. I walk in, and he is on his computer. He sighs, as if I am interrupting him and it is a huge thing he is doing to tolerate me bugging him, like I think he imagines I always do. "Just let me finish this," he says. Ok, 15 minutes later (time running out)--I am tiptoeing around, apologizing, asking if it is ok now, and he grudgingly stops what he is doing, is really short with me, and says, "Fine." So that I can get him to focus on things that really need to be done for our family. Unfortunately, it has always been like that--always with me feeling like I need to apologize and ask carefully and do it the right way, "Can we talk about the kitchen?" Forget about vacations, plans, etc. Trying to ask and pin him down ahead of time was like I was pouring acid on him, and like I am this crazy person who wants to be able to tell my mother what day we are going to be arriving for Thanksgiving. 

I never did find a way to deal with this, with him, unfortunately. 

Is it me or is it the tuna?

I hear you as well and posted this in another forum, but it sounded appropriate for this string....I too have to tippy-toe around topics...even normal ones.  And I too miss normal conversation.  I have to think before ANYthing comes out of my mouth.

A short frustrating story about tuna and wine....that did nothing but piss us both off within 5 minutes for the rest of the  Advice from an ADHD welcome....which way do you see it?

I came home last night in a good mood....around 10.  Smelled like he had made dinner.  I saw him sitting at the desk with a glass of wine and the white wine bottle was on the counter.

I said "did you make dinner?  Do you want me put this wine away?"

He replied" why would you think I made dinner?" and I said "because it smells like it.  Do you want me to put the wine away in the refrigerator?"

He said "I didn't make dinner...isn't that the wine we opened last night?" I said "Yes!  It's the wine we opened, do you want me to put it in the refrigerator? It's a yes/no question.  Do you want me to put it away, yes or no?  Why am I asking it 3 times?"

He said "I don't know why you keep asking me either.”

So I said, “why cant you just answer a question…ever….a simple yes/no question.”

His reply….”you asked a question that doesn’t matter.  Why can’t you just see the wine is out and put it back in the refrigerator."

I replied “I thought you might want it out so you could pour yourself another glass…I was trying to nice and ask you if you wanted me to put it back in to keep it cold for you.”


So I did quietly....and as I did, I asked him if he made tuna salad for dinner b/c I saw the can.  He said no.  I said so you just ate tuna right out of the can?  He said no, I made a sandwich....and I said, "oh, so you made tuna salad!"  And he said "no, I made tuna.  WTF is tuna salad??"  I said tuna with mayo and sorta laughed b/c he was literally getting angry.  he's like “I made tuna....fn tuna ok?  not tuna salad, just tuna.  i don't know why the f you are calling it tuna salad.”  So I said, “that's what you made, what is the big deal, I just thought you ate it straight out of the can and it surprised me, that’s all, it's no big deal.”  We argued over tuna/tuna salad definition and that we never call it tuna salad (which I do/have done…but he never listens anyway, so that’s why he doesn’t know I use that term) so then I got so mad at how he was talking to me.  I tried to back down saying it’s no big deal, but he was FIXATED on the fact we never say tuna salad, he’s never heard of tuna salad, and why would I keep using the term.” I didn’t know what else to do to stop him from badgering me so I went over to the computer and looked up tuna salad to show him I’m not crazy.  Then that started him in on the fact I was apparently the biggest 'nudge' (nag) he's ever met and was so mad at me.

He also seemed to focus on the tuna salad issue, not paying any mind to the fact he didn’t answer my question 5 times and frustrated me.   I argued over why I had to ask him 5 times the same yes/no question and he argued why did I have to ask him the same stupid questions that didn't mean anything? ….and why was I calling it tuna salad??

This is what I am dealing with and I am seriously so tired.


He says this morning to me that we fought over the tuna salad…..I couldn’t believe it (I was upset over the wine question 5 times).  So I asked him gently about whether he thought he had the right to make me ask the same question 5 times when he could’ve just said “yes, thanks, that’s nice of you”….he said he thought I was asking him if he used wine to cook and if he drank the cooking wine.  I said that was not even CLOSE to what I was asking and should have been apparent when I asked you repeatedly about putting it in the refrig.  He said “why does it matter?”

Okay, I get it….I could’ve just put it away.  But how do I tailor my questions when they are innocent and normal?  Why can’t he just answer yes or no - why does he have to answer my questions with questions.  WHY can’t he respect my questions/agenda and not make whether he answers my questions or not about what he THINKS my agenda is.  I was trying to be nice and keep the wine he was drinking cold....simple…easy….sweet….or am I fn out of my mind????

Shoot me now....really.

omg you're going to hate this reply

I'm sorry and totally get how frustrating conversations can be but in this instance my first reaction was not in your corner.  It was that you badgered him for no reason and totally disrespected that he is ADD and was concentrating on something else.

 The conversation should have ended at ....He said "I didn't make dinner...isn't that the wine we opened last night?".....  After that point you were just setting the poor guy up.   

Imagine his frustration if his perception of tuna salad is a salad with he didn't make a salad he made a sandwich.  And then, to really make him look dumber than he already felt you rubbed his nose in it by looking it up on the internet.

Not cool.

Playing Chess......

Yes, I am realizing that I need to stop badgering him...and I truly appreciate honesty of the reply and insight.  Are you ADD/ADHD?  If so, I would love to know what you think of some of my other posts...and how to deal with the responses I get.

I have become soooo super bitchy, honestly.....I am just so frustrated by the hypocrisy...and more frustrated he doesn't see it.  He'll say to me "It's a yes or no question, why can't you just answer the question, does your brain NOT get it?"........and when I say, "I'm sorry, the answer is yes/no" (because that is how HE likes me to answer), he says "See? That wasn't so hard, was it? Just answer the question, no one needs to hear anything else"....

I feel like a peon....speak only when spoken to and never any other time.  No frivolous conversation or "meaningless chatter" he calls it....which is crazy when you're supposed to be living with a's like being in the military.

I feel like he sets the rules and I'm just suposed to play by them....which I do.  The problem is, his rules change all the time depending on what side he is on at the time and only he gets to say which rules apply at what time...I am always on the side that is not doing it correctly or acting accordingly.   

Honestly, my intention is to get him to see that we BOTH think that way sometimes and it's okay to just be nice to the other and give each other space to mess up...or space to ask a clarifying question....just some sort of leeway to have normal conversation back and forth.

Noun:  1.The amount of freedom to move or act that is available.


He gives me none....ever.  I feel like I live in a cage with no free flow of ANYthing....not even my thoughts...they all stem around trying to phrase something a certain way or "playing chess" with all the possible outcomes he could come back at me with if I voice something (even if I think it's innocent).

I hate chess

Hey bb77,

I totally get where you're coming from and it's frustrating. I have these types of "fights" constantly with my ADHD hubby and it's to the point where I think I'm going crazy. I was so thankful I found this website this morning because I don't know what else to do. After 3 years of thinking it's all my fault, and having him manipulate every conversation, I finally realized this morning that maybe his ADHD is affecting the relationship. 

I'll admit that I'm not the most patient person in the world, but it really does feel like a chess game, and I hate chess. One wrong move and it's, "you're crazy" "stop being so mean" "you just wanna fight." I'm so sick of being the "bad" guy when I do everything for him and on top of it, try not to ruffle his feathers by having what I think are normal conversations. I would have done the same thing in your situation, I don't agree that you were the "bad" guy as you probably always feel you are. 

Have you ever recorded your conversations? Sometimes he gets things so twisted that I can't remember the truth. His short term memory is much better than mine, or so he leads me to believe so.




barneyarff's picture

Been thinking about your

Been thinking about your story for a couple of hours now.  although, I would agree that if you don't get an answer after the 1st couple of times, in this circumstance just put the wine away. OTOH, WTF????  Why can't he answer a silly question?   If you had just left the wine out, I bet you a quarter at some point he would have roared at you for that too.

 So, here I am tonight tutoring my son with his math.  I get up and DH has left every light in the house on.  Why?  I don't know.   My son and I are not in the parts of the house where the lights were left on.

So, like you..... do I

1) turn off all the lights (OH WAIT!!! That's parenting and being codependent you baaaad baaaaad wife)

2) Leave the lights on because I really have no idea why they are on  (OH WAIT!!! You are wasting energy and money, you  baaaaad baaaaaaad wife)


3) wake up DH and ask him to turn off all the lights he left on (You always try to pick a fight and prove you are right you baaaaaaad baaaaaaad wife)


so, here I am again, DH has me cornered along with the experts.  I guess I'll just leave all the lights on and damage the environment.

PLUS I have to leave for a business trip tomorrow, it's late, I have bronchitis and my DH took my son to the grocery store before he had his work done.  they were gone for 1 1/2 hours.  DH would not answer his phone.  My son has ADHD also, and if I let him get away with not doing his homework ONE TIME, he will use it as a lesson as to how to slip around me.  How do I know this?  He's done it again and again and again.  As for DH, He's sleeping soundly. HE won't our son with his homework. 

 I feel so trapped.  I can't take it anymore.  (OH WAIT!!!!! she's being over dramatic.  You baaaaad baaaaad person)

Me again - also thought of this story last night!

Forgot to mention on my other reply to you... This story came into my head last night after the whole 'light in the living room' saga! I had an epiphany that I shared with my partner about this one. 
Seems to me, that my ADD partner is very often being sarcastic when asking questions. And interprets others' questions in the same vein. So you asking if he would like you to put wine in the fridge, meant: 'Would you like me to do something nice and put the wine in the fridge so that you can continue to enjoy it chilled?'. He heard: 'Why haven't you put the wine in the fridge, you idiot! For goodness' sake, do you need me to do that for you now?'

Likewise, my partner asking me last night 'Shall I turn the light off in the living room?' actually meant: 'Why should I have to turn the light off? You were the last one in there....'

After my epiphany, I decided that from now on, just as my innocent qs are interpreted as sarcastic, I shall only ever respond to his sarcastic qs as if they were innocent! At least then 50% of the qs in our house will have a calm response!! (Obviously since that epiphany things have taken a turn for the worse so maybe I'll never get to put that one into practice...)

My sincerest apologies to ADD people for any massive generalisations I've made here - I'm very happy to be told I'm wrong; just trying to understand the situation as best I can.

Try using honey and sweetie

I read on one of the postings on this site that they were prefacing every question with either Honey or Sweetie....

Honey, do you want me to turn the lights off?  Sweetie, should I put the wine away? 

And, it seems to work a bit....

I'm going to try to do that too....fn ridiculous if you ask me, but hey, why not try....maybe it will downplay the sarcasm he "thinks" you are speaking to him with.... :)


Let me know....

Cannot figure out a way to

Cannot figure out a way to respond to the original poster, so I will post under your reply, because of the similarity in ADHD communication difficulties. Here is my experience:

Regarding permission to enter my ADHD husband's space -- his responses to me are non-committal nearly 99% of the time:

"This is not the time."
"I don't have time right now."
"Could be/May be/We might."
"Let's discuss it later."
"Let's think about it."
"I don't want to hear it."
"I can't be bothered right now."

(basically, "go away.")

I feel I am in a constant state of arrested development as an individual and as a spouse. Things that are discussed among normal couples might last for a few minutes or at the most a couple of days, are explored, resolved and committed to. I feel just to get to the simplest of things has taken most of a lifetime for us while everyone grows and learns something of love and wisdom together. Not us.

Last night, I showed him a picture of a potential restaurant I would like for us to go to for our 20th anniversary. So he absent-mindedly replies, "I remember it."  The thing is -- we have NEVER been inside the restaurant -- Or to any restaurant to celebrate our anniversary in the last 10+ years for that matter, for he simply does not want to set any plans with me. After I pointed it out to him, still no answer and no feelings about the matter. (It is not like this in social scenarios, he's all for getting together, gung-ho about hooking up, etc but rarely follows through). I am a SAHM, I also am not allowed full access to our finances without everything going through him, so planning on my own is out of the question. :(

His answers are so out of left field and he's not engaged or connected at all when he's at home in front of the TV. TV addiction is a HUGE struggle for us. He absolutely puts TV before his family obligations. I notice he seems to slow down to almost a comatose physical state but he's not depressed in front of the TV. He sometimes becomes animated if anyone in the family joins him in his man cave, but nobody is allowed to interrupt if there is a film in progress. Nobody stays with him in the room long because he sits and watches TV for a minimum of 12 hours a day on the weekends, only taking a break to retrieve a beer or snack, or to say goodnight to his youngest son. He will occasionally make a meal for his son and change diapers but he'll make out like that was a huge deal for him that he refuses to do anymore for the rest of the day/weekend.

If I want to talk, he will make me wait until the commercial, or he will "shush" me violently with his eyebrows raised, his forehead raised and lips jutting out, all the while his eyes are glued to the TV set! Once he even shushed me during a foreign film, complaining he couldn't HEAR a thing. Funny -- the foreign film was in ENGLISH SUBTITLES, he didn't *have* to hear anything!! If he *does* answer me during a film, his responses grow more and more agitated and I have to go away, it's like he's trying to answer something, anything to get the conversation over with so he can continue to engage with the television.

If it wasn't so depressing, it would be downright hilarious... I just want to throw in the towel... and one of the reasons why I finally sought out last ditch effort for online support. I feel like I'm just spilling my guts feverishly.