Please fellow forum ites, can I have your comments? Need to understand

I parted from my husband of many years over a year ago because it became intolerable to live together due to his constant lapses of judgment, big and little one of which resulted in him seriously injuring himself. He was completely inconsistent when it came to any kind of responsibility, but what I could rely on was daily shocks - one very regular one being parking tickets which would arrive regularly in the post (he would not tell me when he had got them). Which I had to pay as he did not work in fact refused to earn a living.

Last night I went to fetch our youngest from him, as he had had my car to take his son out of town for the weekend. I arrived to find my car parked in an illegal place right outside his mother's house, which would have incurred an extra fine as it was a suspended bay, had it been spotted. I rang the doorbell, and he answered. I said, can you give me the key so I can move the car before coming in? He flew into a rage, denied it was illegally parked, would not let me in to see his mother, and bundled our son out of the door. Later he texted, still maintaining I had my facts wrong and the car was safely parked. In the end he had to concede that he was wrong and the car was illegally parked and he apologised by text. This morning I get this from him by email (ps I was 15 minutes late only):

'Sweet Linsy says:
"Hi Rob - so sorry I am a bit late tonight - lovely to see you - had
a bugger of  journey - is the car ok here?"
**Yes! Very nice and lovable.**


Thoughtless Linsy says:
"Can I have the key so I can park the car legally?"
**No! Enraged, enraging and not lovable.**

Result: missed opportunity to love each other.

Meanwhile, I hope you had a pleasant weekend.'

With his history of forcing me into paying endless fines incurred by him through very poor judgement, and my protests against this, what on earth is going on here?

He seems to be writing me a script whereby I behave in a completely unrealistic way in the face of extreme provocation.

that was not an isolated incident at all - but one of hundreds of let downs of this and many other kinds all of which involved me taking responsibility for the results of his poor judgment.

Can anyone help? He is finally going through the diagnostic process to see what ails him, but what, pray, is this? 

Thank you anyone who cares to comment. 





I think it is simply him

I think it is simply him trying to blame you for something he knows he did wrong. Without the long, expensive history of parking tickets, this takes on a whole different 'look'. However, with the extensive history and his refusal to be a responsible, working adult, then it just screams to me that he's trying to make you look bad for not loving him enough. Or not accepting him 'as he is'. I have told my husband many times, it isn't fair for me to accept EVERYTHING (hurtful things, especially) just because that is easier than him having to work on changing the hurtful behavior. It does sound familiar to ADHD, to me.

Linsy's picture

thank you

It was the arguing that the car was parked correctly, then giving in, and then sending me these alternative scenarios that threw me. It has been literally thousands of pounds down the drain.... If it had been a genuine one-off mistake, that would be completely different ball game.

sullygrl's picture

He actually sent you a script by email?

And if you are separated, why is it still your job to be "sweet" Linsy?   Sounds like you were too busy performing your duties as "responsible adult and mom" Linsy.

This, sweet Linsy, is denial. Denial and a shell game of blame. Feel free to reply to the email. "sorry I was 15 minutes late" and ignore the rest? Or ignore the whole thing because it's not something that will get through anyway, if regular parking tickets didn't do the trick?

Linsy's picture

ignoring is right as well

But the other lady had good advice too, about honey catching more bees. This is such a helpful place to unload. thank you all. I am a very sour Linsy these days, although I used to be sweet. That makes me sad too. 

Linsy - This may not be the

Linsy - This may not be the popular response and I certainly do not want to offend anyone but I do not think he was all wrong.  Why couldn't you have used the first example? I don't mean to say his exact words but why not try using a friendlier tone.  They say you catch more bee's with honey so to speak....  I think that it is fair to say that most people will react with aggression when faced with aggression.  Speaking in a friendly manner would have allowed him to be more open to your concerns about the parking ticket but instead he automatically became defensive and shut off.  I'm sorry to say that I would have felt the same as him.  I totally get what you are saying about the parking tickets, my husband has certainly gotten his fair share but I have never gotten anywhere with him by being a bully.  He was absolutely correct.  This was a missed opportunity to love each other.  I am positive that he has let you down many times but let me ask you this, how many times and in how many ways does he feel like you have let him down? I mean you say yourself that he is willing to get treatment and is going through the process, he took the time to send you that message.  This is a man who loves you and is trying, this is man who has ADHD and has not yet learned the skills he needs to be successful.  I would guess that this is also a man suffering from low self esteem and very likely depression.  My question to you would be whether or not you want this relationship to succeed.  I believe that you would not be on here if you didn't.  I imagine that you love this man very much but are incredibly frustrated and as you said, hurt and disappointed.  Unfortunately those emotions, while natural, will only work against you. 

Linsy's picture

fantastic response, thank you

Yes, thanks, good thoughts and very welcome. Trouble is I panic now when I see he has done something like this yet again. I must stop panicking and change my response. Thank you. 

arwen's picture

history versus case by case

Linsy, I don't think you need to be "sweet", and you certainly weren't being "thoughtless".  "Rob" is not automatically entitled to any treatment beyond simple common courtesy (which does include apologizing if you were late, but does not require sentiments such as "lovely to see you" nor explanations about the quality of your journey.)  But I think there may be some aspects to this situation that you're not seeing, or not thinking clearly about.

First of all, I've found that the less judgmental and the more matter-of-fact I can be about whatever I'm in conflict with my ADHD spouse about, the better we are able to work things out.  When my spouse gets upset, the emotional agita literally short-circuits his thinking ability.  The more I can structure the situation to avoid emotional reactions, the more likely he is to respond at least somewhat rationally, and the more likely I am to get what I am convinced is needed.  So, in your situation, I wouldn't have been "sweet", nor "cranky", I just would have said calmly, "Could I have the keys to my car, please, I need to move it."  No further explanation, no blaming, no arguing.  At some point *after* I had moved the car, I would initiate the discussion about *why* I needed to move it, in a very calm, matter-of-fact way.

Next, that discussion would include some reference to his history of tickets -- again, in a factual context, not a blaming one.  This is necessary because typically folks with ADHD don't remember all those past events very well.  I'm dead certain "Rob" has no actual idea of exactly how many tickets he's really gotten or how much they have cost.  He may be able to quote a number that somebody has told him, but it's highly doubtful he actually remembers that many incidents.  You, on the other hand, with your normal memory, are unconsciously expecting his mind to work like yours -- and it doesn't.  Folks with ADHD are typically focused on the present individual situation, their memories are "swiss-cheesy", and they are typically very bad at constructing a trend or history or sequence in their minds -- so the concept of a "cumulative effect" is totally foreign to these kinds of memory issues and thinking.  They often don't believe what they are told when it conflicts with their own scratchy memories -- yet cumulative personal history is a very real part of life.  Therefore, in order for you  to get any traction in their minds in these kinds of situations, you need to understand this difficulty and address it effectively.  With my spouse, I find it works better to say, "Honey, I know it's very hard for you to keep track of <xyz>, but the reality is that you have a longstanding problem with this and it still needs more work.  I'm not trying to make you feel bad, but I feel you may be forgetting <# tickets, # lost items, # times some chore was forgotten, whatever>, and that many incidents is not what most people experience, and that means you need to give it more of your <thought, attention, time>.  I know that's challenging and no fun, but <whatever the consequence would be> would be way more trouble to deal with."  Again, this doesn't need to be said with gobs of sympathy or sweetness -- just a simple, non-judgmental recitation of the facts, to focus on the problem and to show that you recognize that it's more of an effort for him to cope with it than it is for you (which should not be considered an excuse!!!  just a *fact*).

Finally, you may want to take a look at what your agenda is in this dynamic with "Rob".  Do you want to be right, blame him and feel superior?  Do you want to punish him or make him compensate you for your various sufferings?  Do you want to maximize your benefit and minimize your pain?  Do you want to do whatever will most benefit your child?  Do you want to solve problems?  Or something else?  I have found that it helped me immensely in dealing with my ADHD partner to be very clear in my own mind about what I really wanted.  And then, once I'd done that,  I realized I had to ask myself, "Now, what can I *realistically* get?".  This second question required me to spend a fair amount of time coming to a better understanding of my partner's problems and assessing better what he really could and could not handle, but it ended up being time very well spent.

Hang in there!  You have my sympathies, I know how hard this can be, I have been there.

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Linsy's picture

What is wanted here

Hi, thanks for commenting. Very helpful. In fact what I wanted was very much what you gave me, the idea that this behaviour is ADHD typical. He has not been diagnosed yet, it is much more difficult to do this in England, and he is very much in denial about it. This just helps me to understand what this behaviour is or might be. The complete lack of empathy, the bullying, the anger, the inability to 'read' any situation in a normal way, including other people's body language.

Anyway, I keep away from him as much as possible because I have been left with very severe stress symptoms, and cannot allow myself  to break down.


Linsy, I just want to add


I just want to add that if your husband is anything like mine (and it sounds like he is.. mine also refused to work and is irresponsible financially and otherwise, and we are in the process of divorce) sometimes even if you approach things without anger, and just based on facts, he might still look at it as an attack.  I've come to realize that no matter how nicely I try to address the issue, just addressing it makes him feel bad and lash out at me.  He has even suggested alternate language for me to use that he would consider nice, but then later when I take his suggestion and use that exact language for some other issue, he still lashes out at me.    If I questioned very nicely "is the car OK here?" he'd still lash out at me questioning his judgment, and would then just tell me I was being passive aggressive and/or trying to parent him.  What I've come to realize is that it's not me.. it's him.  This is the lens he views me and a lot of the world through.  No matter what I say it will be the wrong thing.  Granted, it is colored by our history and his low self-esteem.  I've given up trying to fix it, as I realized that I can't.  All I can do is avoid putting myself in situations where his irresponsibility will affect me.  

So, I guess my point is that you shouldn't feel bad or guilty if you do make him angry despite your best intentions.  It's not you. 

Yes, I say that all of the

Yes, I say that all of the husband wears 'negative ears'. Nothing I say, no matter how nicely I put it, that is in anyway related to something he has done, does, or might do that would garner an emotional response from me (hurt, anger, frustration) is heard in any way but negative. This is why, when I decide to start trying...if he choose to join work on our issues again we will do it with the help of a professional. I am not trying it alone. History dictates that if I do, it won't work...and our marriage depends on it at this point.

Linsy's picture

Professional help

Hi both, it is good to know I am not alone. I cannot live with his crazy defensiveness any more, so don't. But I don't want a divorce at the moment, until the medical angle has been covered. Difficult in UK but he says he is approaching it. He took me to marriage guidance counselling, but then walked out when it got too close to reality for him. Then he refused to pay his half. He still believes I owe him something, which is a bit rich given that I had kept him for years and now his mother does. He is very very confused and taking refuge in a fortress of denial. I tell him and his family that it is up to him what happens, I have done all I can. The family does nothing except enable worse behaviour, and he wants so very much to blame me. The idea of taking responsibility for my anger is a good one, but in practice when you have been driven slightly insane yourself which a hair trigger to any slight, criticism or insult, it is difficult to do anything but avoid as much as possible.

This is excellent!

Hi Chelsea,

Although this was written years ago it says it all.  No matter how hard I would try, it did not matter.  No matter how sweet, he still feels attacked.  I too decided to not let his irresponsibility affect me. I truly feel for him and have tried to help him get counseling, meds. and all.  It does not help the situation that he abused every kind off drug growing up.  This is too much to deal with.