Poor communication dynamics with each other

Not once in 20 years has my ADD dh asked, "How are you feeling? or What are you feeling?" I would really appreciate some feedback on how I can or should not approach the spouse with ADD regarding feedback.

My communication difficulties with my husband has been the same for the last twenty years. I will recommend things that are important for the two of us or our two boys but it will fall into the ether -- but if someone else says the same thing, it's pure gold and the TRUTH and has to be acted on right away.

I feel that none of my thoughts and feelings EVER enter my ADD dh's consciousness. It's only what he thinks, what others think. We can spend 4 hours on a date and all he talks about is the texture of the meal, or he's on his iPad/iPhone, or go on about how he's enjoying himself. But he never seems to recognize I'm there with him? When I try to steer the conversation to more intimate matters (family, goals, the future), he changes the subject to what he loves: movie and music trivia. By the time the date is over, I can't wait to get home and out of the car.

For example, I've discussed him being more involved with his family (going on outings) for years now and he says "the mornings are MY time". His co-worker told him the other day "You only have this moment once." So he goes to our son's sports event the very next morning.

I (copingSAH): "Oh! that's what I've been saying for a long time! We should go."

DH: You don't need to say that.

copingSAH: But I'm agreeing with your co-worker.

DH: There you go ruining what I was saying.

copingSAH: What?? I'm just giving you feedback. I have a smile on my face --

DH: For once can't you just shut up and not say [email protected]

copingSAH: Why are you so mad!?

DH: You're always turning me into the bad guy.

copingSAH: But I'm not.... this is not going anywhere, why are you arguing with me?! Can't you just accept my comment and let it go or say, "yeah, that's right."

DH: You can't let it go, you have to discuss everything in detail, it makes me sick.

and things degenerate from there. My helplessness is so strong that I feel violent and throw something on the carpet because i cannot get through.  And I'm trying to figure out what he HEARS vs. what I SAID

SO FRUSTRATING -- he leaves for the event without me. And I feel sheepish about throwing things but my frustration is bursting. from. the seams.

I'm only voicing how I feel and I didn't think I came off accusing, just probably years of feeling my feelings and suggestions are largely ignored. And he won't admit to it.

It takes years for him to accompany me on a visit to a restaurant I wanted to try (took 15 years of discussion before he came around to going with me), and then he makes me feel bad when conversations like this come up -- he rubs it in my face that he did what I wanted, and that he's paying for everything. But it's hollow feeling when I'm sitting at the restaurant with him for 4 hours and all he's doing is talking about work, about his coworkers, his interests, and posting messages on the iPad. I'm feeling shaky enough to believe he spoke about the restaurant to his colleague and they say to go for it, and all of a sudden, we're going after 15 years.

Am I really expecting too much?? Please, I'd appreciate some tips and/or criticisms. I've been told it's a "guy thing"... I want to know if it's ADD or an incompatibility issue.  I've all but ended up giving "okay/yes/no" responses on the phone because anything I comment on raises his hackles because he accuses me of being controlling.



Try it this way:


I (copingSAH): "Oh! that's what I've been saying for a long time! We should go."

DH: You don't need to say that.

copingSAH: Okay, great (genuine happy smile, end of conversation)


Some of it does sound like a "guy thing".  Once he's got the point, wherever he got it, be happy, nobody has to be "right".


"at the restaurant with him for 4 hours and all he's doing is talking about work"

Another way to look at this is that he is comfortable being with you for 4 hours and really believes that you are interested in hearing about his work, traffic problems, that great football game from 16 years ago (and especially the final 2 minutes) etc etc. He is happy to be with you.  Trusts that you are interested.  Feels secure.  Many males live in a hyper-competitive environment, with you he feels safe enough to tell you what he's really thinking about.  Of course, I don't know, maybe he's a complete bore but maybe he's actually showing you how much you mean to him by even talking about things at work that he cannot talk to other males about without being in a pissing contest.  Listen, be polite.  Then he owes you one :)

I don't expect payback, if

I don't expect payback, if that's what you mean he owes me one, not sure. He is a one-man operation at work and there's no competition per se but he exhibits a kind of chauvinism when he talks about his predominately female environment. He has no problem using derogatory terms for women he doesn't like. But I do see what you're saying tho I've always felt more like I was his "buddy" than his wife. He even tells me when he's got the hots for someone. I dunno.... I guess he's pretty comfortable.

It's hard to muster any more patience again and again when he goes on the defensive. The long monolgues exists because I'm not arguing about having my say, but I do need to repeat myself twice or rap my fingers on the table to pull his attention from the iPad, or to change the subject. So by the end, it seems more intimate opportunities to talk about our life together have been missed. Then after a few drinks, he's really jabbering away...

Well, it's been 6 hours, he just texted me from the field, like nothing is wrong and he's having a great time chatting it up with strangers. I kept my responses kind, polite and neutral. Again, I feel there was a lot of missed opportunity in not allowing my other son and I to head out with him. It's like we're shelved for the time being.





It's like we're shelved

It's like we're shelved.

Yes, there seems to be a compartmentalization in dh's thinking too.  He puts me on a shelf to not have to deal with me unless I am making a problem for him...like a garden tool in winter.  Yet he will talk about how a machine is only as good as the operator and must be taken care of in a special certain way that only he knows how to do.   When I liken marriage to a machine that needs to be maintained, he doesn't want to hear it.  Is it ADD or is it "being a man" to expect the other spouse to be the only one who puts effort into a relationship?

He compartmentalizes money too.  He often puts aside money and tells me it is earmarked for some special purpose of HIS, saying...."You will not spend that money.  It is mine.  I made it. It is for X".  Again, I think it is a power thing.  He wants what he wants and doesn't want to think about how all our money is one big pot for us to share together.

You are correct with the

You are correct with the financial power thing. It's difficult since I have to account for every liquid dollar to him. My "share" is less than 1% of what he brings home.  It's not easy to keep hearing him insist, "I'll transfer cash, don't transfer it yourself." and then not seeing any activity. It should be all one pot, with both partners understanding the checks and balances of responsibility. Our situation feels like a parent-child allowance. I have started to be more pro-active and transferring myself, it's a matter of how much. I don't mind dealing with his irritation but I don't want to deal with the rage attacks.

Reprocity not payback

By saying he'd owe you one, I mean that he may be more encouraged to reciprocate and to sometime take the listening role  if not interrupted or questioned during those times when he's comfortable enough to sit and talk.  That is not unusual 'man behavior'.  Given that ADHD people often have subtle memory issues it's even possible that when he sits and talks to you that it takes him time to feel comfortable with you again (sometimes I used to ask my husband if he knew who I was because he seemed to have forgotten, that has gone away with meds but it could be quite disorienting until I understood the memory problems).  I'm not saying that is what is happening with him, but have you considered it?

Somehow you seem to have reached a place where you're expecting him to verbally confirm that he agrees with you, and to demand intimacy (usually the last way to get it), and perhaps he is digging in his heels. Take the earlier conversation:

"Can't you just accept my comment and let it go or say, "yeah, that's right." after you'd already pushed him into 4 responses which made it clear he didn't want to talk about it (and in fact he WAS conceding your point about the sports event by even telling you that his co-worker said it was important - unless the co-worker told you, I assumed from your post that the co-worker told your husband and in turn your husband told you.  By even telling you what his co-worker said (if that is how it happened) then he has already told you in so many words that he reconsidered and decided the event was important and had learned you might have been right all along.  He might have not told you at all.

In other words, at the time : Did you want him to go to your son's event or did you want to be right?

i.e. is it more important that he changed his mind about the son's event  or more important that he admits that you were right even if it makes him even more determined not to co-operate next time he thinks you nag him (see it from his side)?

Just playing devil's advocate.  He is not here to tell us what he thinks.

I see your point... while it

I see your point... while it hurts to hear it, I see where you are coming from. I will contemplate this more. Absolutely.

At the time, I wanted us all to go to our son's event, but dh said he'd rather go alone to see son. I happened to be in the middle of saying, "This is what I've been--- (glad your boss said it in a way you appreciated)" before dh turned. I will be more conscious of what I say next time. I guess I wanted to be part of that decision making process, not just between him and someone else whose judgment he seems (to me) to value more.

For example, DH says he gets mad (his POV) because when he hears $17 is going to be transferred to the account, and it becomes $20. He says he cannot stand the disconnect he gets when he has $17 on his mind. Then sees the $20 on his cell alert.

The realities: I made a last minute decision to round off to $20 so our son can cover his bike repair. Then I got sidetracked with special needs child, and making soup for dh on stove. DH comes flying in when he gets the notification and demands to know why the amount shows $20 instead of $17. I tell him he was in bed watching TV, didn't want to bother him, had the transaction printed for later. His phone notifies him as well so he is well aware of it. And he is mad even with all these things in place. From my p.o.v. I'm just trying to keep the cogs of this household running. I haven't held on to the receipt for ages; only a few minutes. I will just keep my facts short and report to him the change in $ before I take care of the other things, next time. My view is, if one sees $20 come up on the alert, then it is a FACT that $20 is to be balanced in the account. It is not going to be $17 then.

After 20 years of living like the above, followed by dh's diagnosis this year, I feel like a large amount of "post-rage" and "post-programming" (hurt, sense of betrayal, sadness, frustration, being lied to) is coming out of me. And I respond from my psyche.  You see, this is my partner who told me to hold off on my advanced education, hold off on finding a better job, hold off on a honeymoon, hold off on family outings, hold off on going to the hospital for a broken shoulder, hold off on allowance for our son, hold off on getting Google stock, ... basically "lets not discuss it", only to find out that all the paralyzed approaches, postponements and delays were a part of the ADD and OCD conditions. I'm healing myself and will continue to become mindful completely.

Endless putting-off

I understand this (and your other posts) more than electrons on the screen can convey.

For my part, one thing I have come to know: beating a subject to death to claim victory (if necessary taking no prisoners and leaving scorched earth, I admit it, once the adrenaline gets going I do go that way) does not work when the ADHD person repeatedly forgets that he lost. Grrr.  It gets exhausting and the forgetting can become even more frustrating than the original problem. I have discovered that making short statements, leaving time for reflection, often gets more reciprocity than attempting to hash things out in a first conversation. Since it works for me I try to get better at it. But, but, but.. this has only started to really work with meds and with his acceptance that ADHD won't go away but can be worked on.

Yesterday, I could feel my

Yesterday, I could feel my Type A personality swelling to the surface when discussing having more financial  independence and responsibility for household matters.

He quipped that since I had recently earned some money as a SAHM for a personal job I did, I should pay for everything including household needs (the money phobia talking). Mind you, I only have 1% of what he makes in my account. He transferred only once to my account this year, and twice last year. I did not get angry and yell back,  just stood there leaving some space for brevity, but I burst into tears instead. That was OK tho. I didn't get mad, and I was able to remove myself from the room and focus on what needed to be done (and couldn't or wouldn't be done by dh).

And you were right, he later reciprocated by coming over and asking if I was feeling any better...

Well I am glad to say, I've been a bit more proactive this week... I managed to carry the space heater down from the attic myself the other night, with my kiddo spotting me (LOL). Out of breath but I did it! It had been nearly 3 weeks of asking dh and I did it myself!

That is interesting about the

That is interesting about the memory problems... it's almost like your husband is jarred for a little bit, not saying face blindness, but sort of re-encountering a similar scenario in a different setting as new, and starting the experience from scratch.

The few times we've been out dining, my spouse behaves in a very ramped up (anxious) state of mind. It's as if he was on his first date! Last anniversary, we sat both facing out from the table during lunch and all was fine. We were fine visiting a comedy club for the first time -- facing one direction in the dark. The anniversary year before that, we sat facing each other at dinner and he could not stop blithering on for TWO HOURS how silky the the sushi was (raw fish is supposed to be silky). I was in tears by the end of that one. No reminiscences, no memories of the last 2 decades of marriage it seems. "I can't remember."

How would I jog his memory I wonder.... especially in having a "re-cap" of our lives?

Re: The Restaurant

I don't think it's a guy thing.

The restaurant conversation sounded 1-sided. There was no give-and-take. If he talks about work, there should be the "how was your day?" and then you get a chance to talk about your stuff. It's just good manners.

Agreed, but frankly lots of

Agreed, but frankly lots of people are self-centred (with or without ADHD). 

What I was thinking of why someone avoids "goals, family, future" in a conversation. I get the feeling the guy is uncomfortable talking about this. I for one don't talk about stuff like that every day and if the wife wants to bring something specific up she has to do it herself (not a problem though - she's just like the guy at the restaurant!).

Thanks for all the

Thanks for all the responses.

I will be sure to have something to pass the time next. Like a book or some letters to write (which I do quite a lot of, still)... I do not mind just sitting there listening quietly, maybe a cup of tea and a muffin or two or three for a few hours!

Just cannot keep waiting for my dh to "want" to make those goals, etc.,  have to take back some of my independence and verve. That is what he liked when we were courting, but it became irritating to him after the hyperfocus was gone and we were married. I have to learn how to propose goals (house maintenance, going to the beach) in a way where it seems more like a "fact/final" thing, then something that needs to be "thought/discussed"...



this.  "I will recommend things that are important for the two of us or our two boys but it will fall into the ether -- but if someone else says the same thing, it's pure gold and the TRUTH and has to be acted on right away."


I do this all the time to my DH.  He will say something that either I don't hear, don't absorb, or don't want to listen to, or something.  Then, when someone else tells me the same idea, I'll latch onto it, or act on it, or tell him.  It's infuriating for him not to be listened to, and for me to realize what I'm doing to him.  I hate that I give the impression I'm ignoring him and valuing everyone else's input over his.  I'm baffled by my subconscious double standards.

This also goes for timeliness.  I can make it relatively on-time (within 10-15 minutes, reliably) to scheduled stuff with friends, but with him I just let all timing slide.  He's the one who would appreciate it the MOST, and whose opinion & time I should respect the MOST, not to mention the one I have the most opportunities to practice and to finally get it right, but... I do the opposite.  What's going on in my head, and how can I do it differently to shift this behavior?  So far I've started writing down practically EVERYTHING we say, and anything that is time-sensitive gets put right in my calendar online.  I haven't managed with the timing, though - I make him wait all the time, and do it differently for friends.


Re the denial: I've also changed a couple of behaviors with a little points game (for example: get to bed on time 5 times in a row and earn a back rub or a bath), and the latest subject is always, ALWAYS having my first response be in agreement with my DH.  Often it hurts for me to tell him he's right, and often I really REALLY have to stop myself before I go straight to denial.  Or he'll have to remind me when the first thing I say is "No."  But when I do agree with him it slows me down.  Shows him I respect what he said - and listened to it.  And makes me think about how productive my comment really would have been.  Usually when I do that, what comes out afterwards has a lot of the steam knocked out of it and is more respectful or calmer.  (Sometimes I forget my disagreement while I'm agreeing with him, which is fine for harmony but frustrating that I might have forgotten something important.)  I'd really really like to know WHY I DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Taking Advice Without Arguing

Your conversation reminds me of a saying I like (and relate to, from both sides):  "No one is a prophet at home."

It's certainly a lot easier to take advice from someone with whom you have no emotional ties, because you don't have the baggage either.  That's why people go to therapy.  However, it's no less hurtful to you to try to express your hurt that an acquaintance seems to have more leverage in your relationship than you do, and you did nothing wrong here.

Though I have been guilty of taking advice from other people at times before my husband, I don't know whether or not it is an ADHD issue.  It may be a relationship issue of him trying to control me because my ADHD was out-of-control and he needed to manage his anxiety and ensure that all of his/my/our adult responsibilities were met and my consequent (but totally on me) reaction to that reaction.  My own reaction to this may have been IN PART, reactionary, as in "YOU CAN'T CONTROL ME!!"  I don't know if this makes any sense...  The other part is my inherent stubbornness.  Sometimes it is hard to know when the ADHD ends and the rest of me begins.

This is one of the things we still fight about, and I really want to turn this around.  I have changed so much in the past few months, but my therapist has put the following challenge to me:  to TRUST my husband in areas in which he clearly has it over me (time management, for example) and to stop trying to be in charge.  In theory, I do trust him.  I KNOW he is better at this than me.  I accept it.  Yet, in the heat of the moment, I have a hard time LETTING GO.  It isn't even my pride at this point.  I know time management is a stupid fight to have when I'm ADHD and he's Mr. Planner with a Superior Frontal Lobe.  I'm trying to figure out why I have such a visceral reaction to him giving me direct orders.  I have progressed in that I also think listening to the therapist in this regard is the right decision (which is a little different than your husband's problem, though I have been many times guilty of that reaction as well).  I just don't know how to get from Point A to Point B.  I will be thinking about that this weekend.

I'm a little tired and not sure how coherent this is.

Wishing you luck and good thoughts in your marriage,