I feel that I have recently had a breakthrough and would like to share! I recently posted about my confusion under the Anger topic of this forum, and talked with a lady that helped me so much understand her point of view and what I did not understand. I wanted to know why was it so hard for me (the ADHD spouse) to understand my non-ADHD husband? Countless times we would argue and he would say I was blaming him and I would feel like he was blaming me.
I learned (and believed) that ADHD had blocked my view of seeing situations/arguments/interactions correctly. In the past, I so strongly felt right about issues me and my husband argued about. I feel like my brain tricked me into thinking that my view of the world was right and my husbands was wrong and that he was just being mean to me or too critical. He could say things like “all the lights are on, that is wasting power”. A very true statement, but I would automatically take is as an attack on me that he was implying that I wasn’t doing something I should be doing or doing it right. And he was just trying to remind me to turn the lights out. My husband mentioned a few times that he thought I was lying or trying to be deceptive by not telling the whole truth. I would think, well, if I get what I’m talking about why doesn’t he? Lying is such a pet peeve of mine, how could he think that?! To me it was an attack on my character. But now I can understand why he thought that way.
The big thing that made me open my eyes and do some self-reflecting is by reading about how many of the non-ADHD spouses have resentment toward the ADHD spouse for not trying or not following through. I saw the same frustration in the non-ADHD spouses that I saw in my husband, and it killed me to think he felt that way about me. He definitely did not like that I finally understood this logic from reading forums instead listening to him tell me the same thing for years. I would “get it” briefly, but soon forget it the next time a new issue would come up. I don’t blame him for being upset about it – I would be too if it was the other way around. It was so overwhelming and a lot to take in when I realize I had been wrong so many times when I thought I was right. I thought I was trying to express my feelings when really I was deflecting blame back onto my husband. I can understand how some ADHD spouses out there would refuse to believe it.
I wish the book talked more about the responsibilities that the ADHD spouse needs to take because medication alone won’t solve the communication issues. It did kind of sound like we who have ADHD was being let off the hook by getting treatment and that the non-ADHD had to do all the work. I've been on the medication for almost a year and it helped me get going on tasks that normally I would put off because I'd feel overwhelmed, and it also let me engage in a conversation with my husband that would normally be overwhelming and I would freeze up.
Here are a few things I have put together to help me remember what I need to do:
1. See past my anger and/or hurt. These feelings deceive me of the true reality.
2. ADHD is frustrating on both people and more so for the non-ADHD person because of the repetitive interactions that seem to go unnoticed or unchanged by the ADHD spouse.
3. ADHD creates a communication barrier on both partners.
4. When I begin to get upset, take a minute, breath, count to 5, think about other ways my husband meant what he said. (A big thanks to pitypotpie for this one!) I noticed when I started to apply this and that I had been sabotaging a lot of interactions with my husband.
5. Don’t engage in trying to “fix” anything until we both are not angry. Both being the magic word – I often would try to force my husband to talk when he doesn’t want to and this makes it worse every time - not better.
6. Work on being the best person I can be, but this doesn’t mean pulling away from my spouse.
7. Be respectful.
8. Don’t look for my spouse to be loving or understanding. Doing my part will hopefully help these things to come later.
9. Reread this weekly, daily whatever it takes to make it stick for good.
I’m not saying I have the answers, I’m just saying this is what I’ve come up with that will hopefully get me and my husband back to being “us” again because I LOVE him so much!!