Question- I'm new

I've been reading a lot on this site.  It has been extremely helpful and certainly makes me realize I am not alone.  My question is this.  I see most all people seem to have an issue with their ADHD spouses being procrastinators, late, and financially lacking (paying bills late or can't keep a job) But my DH is the exact opposite of this.  He is early to everything- to a fault, the minute a bill comes in he pays it, he has had the same job for 14 years, and 12 on the job before that.  These are very good things, but can be very frustrating. He gets aggravated if he seems like he won't be 10 minutes early to the party.  Or if there is a discrepancy on a bill it makes him so anxious I have to make the call to find out what the issue is.  This does not seem to fit the profile for an ADHD adult, yet he has all the other "symptoms".  What do you make of that.

Well... He may have become aware

Becoming aware of ones own faults can create good habits. I am an ADDer who is quite organized, why??? it is Not an ADD trait, but a long time ago I knew how poorly I functioned with everything in chaos. I learned to keep anything important in specific places, like keys, wallets, bills, tools and this helps me a lot. I HATE running late because I have been late a million times and the shame is something I don't need any extra of. So I'm early almost all the time and get really agitated when people make me late. I have also been very stable in my employment in the last 15 plus years, and this coincides with my organization and timeliness. I don't think this is a coincidence... I figured out a few traits that caused me failures and have tried to eradicate failure as much as I can.

I only found out I was ADD 2.5 years ago, then so many things made sense...


How Long will this last's picture

Great explanation!

Thank you yyz. You have nailed it on the head.  You described things he does that you do like making sure keys and wallets are in the exact spot every evening.  He definitely has a specific routine about where things belong.  Thank you for responding!




I'm glad to help :)

I bet your spouse has a precise regiment to the morning routine as well. I have an "Exact Order" for everything and know about when each step should be done, so I know if I need to rush any of the other steps or shorten any "Free-Time". The NonADDer's in my house are the ones franticly trying to find misplaced things and rushing to leave on-time ;) My troubles are when the are "Out of the Ordinary" things added or thrown on me at the last minute. If I have to remember anything "Not Normal" like to bring something extra to work, I have to set a series of Outlook/iPhone Reminder Alarms to have a chance at success.


YYZ, Can you give my husband lessons?

I have tried until I'm blue in the face to get him to do these things. No luck. And it has destroyed our life and our marriage. Lost keys and cell phones leading to lost jobs. No functionality in the house at all. Not looking for a job. I don't know how I'm going to survive this!

Maybe I should write a book about my "cRaZy" Coping Skills ;)

The problem is... I developed a few coping skills that helped me do fairly well, but just as many that were Not so Good :) I think I'm a little OCD about things and I develop VERY precise routines and processes to do things. My morning routine was developed about 10 years ago, because I figured out that Every Busy Body notices if you are 5 minutes late to the office and NOBODY notices all the times you work X Hours late... The "Routine" probably saved my job. I quickly go into a panic/anxiety attack when things get frantic and the wheels shoot off from there, so my routine/structure "Saves my Sanity" ;)


Can relate

I can absolutely relate to this I did similiar things when I was younger to avoid issues of shame and depression.  I have a very specific way of doing things and if I do it differently or my environment requires a change in this process I am "lost" until I can adapt.  I also get anxiety and emotional during these times because I feel like I am missing something and I can see through all the noise to organize it.

Appreciate this line of post helps me feel not so alone out here in the world.


ADD Husband... You are not alone by a long shot.

Until my diagnosis at 43, I just thought I was faking my way through everything, all because I just could never get my crap together, I could not stop myself from every bad choice, ALWAYS waiting for the Hammer to strike me again... I thought NOBODY could think in the Weird/Selfish/Stupid/Self-Destructive/Can't Remember Anything Really Important way that my brain did. I have always needed music if I had a chance to buffer out all the chaos around me to focus. Every major task in my life starts with: "What did I get myself into, How in the world do I start this, sit and stare into the abyss, WTF???" phase, until I figure out one tiny thing I CAN do about the project, like a toe hold, then once I start the pieces begin to fall into place.

The beginning can be SO Over-whelming...



Spot on music helps me tons "start" a project and maintain focus.  It has to be specific types of music depending on what I am trying to accomplish.  Mmm I would love to know the psychology behind that and why it helps me focus the "start" portion of a project.  My wife would argue that if I am easily distracted why do I have 3 computer screens, music and all the gyrations going on.  I can't explain it other than it helps me focus.  I need everything in front of me at one time so I can see the whole picture and then prioritize it.  I need the music to block out my mind noise and I need to move around to help keep my energy levels up.

It comes across as bulls*** to her but it works for me.

Although I love music, and it

Although I love music, and it does help me too, when I am cleaning or doing something mindless, I cannot think straight if I am trying to think or type and music is playing. I never have understood how people can study with music going or be on a computer and have the TV drives me nuts. My daughter is sitting at the table with me singing right now and I am having to pause and think of regain my focus every few words. LOL

I really never did understand this about my husband either...I guess it is a lesson in just accepting that everyone is different and these things aren't 'right' or 'wrong'...but just how people are different.

This one is easy...

The Music IS the buffer from too much input that we cannot process. I pick different music based on my mood/frame of mind, but the next thing I realize after I've been working for a while is that the album/playlist has repeated 3 times and I cannot say I remember hearing all of the songs. I studied with music, most NonADDer's I know wonder how in the Hell can you study with music on? I can't study without it, or at least pre-diagnosis and Adderall. Now I rarely listen to music when I'm writing code, the quiet works now... Weird. The music could also keep me awake or put me to sleep.

Related to sound, I used to think I had the hearing loss that affects people in noisy rooms, like a sports bar or club, wrong... It was too many sources of information at one time for me to process and the net effect was hearing nothing. I used to not be able to hear the person across the table from me, now I can, as long as the meds are still in the system.


How Long will this last's picture


Yes you are correct about morning routine, however it's not just morning but every other aspect.  We vacation at the same time,  and same place EVERY YEAR.  Our weekly evening routine is always the same too.   Talking to you about this is definitely giving me insight to his thinking.  This year I finally was able to change the time of year we went on vacation- took me 5 years to convince him.  Now I understand why.

He is obsessed with his motorcycle.  Every vacation we take, every fun thing we do seems to center around taking the MC.  That was great fun at first, but 16 years later I need a little more variety. Any suggestions on how to introduce new hobbies to him without stressing him out?

Morning was but one example of my predictability :)

The bottom line is as simple as this. When I find something that works, why change? The change may case Another failure... Whether you are talking about a dinner selection or a vacation location. You would not have believed the Over-planning I did for our "Once in a Lifetime" trip to Disney World. See what kind of pressure I'm talking about? My DW and DD's looking up at me and saying"I thought this would be More fun??? If I can keep 80% on autopilot, there is a good chance that can get to 90% or better on the unknowns. When my DW presents ideas she takes on enough of the planning to get me out of the "That's a bad idea" state and helps me through the Chaos of the plans beginning.

I like electronics, computers and cars and other than being tools for a vacation they don't factor in :)


introducing change

I agree totally (as the non ADHD spouse) with the theme of this thread... when my guy finds something that works he sticks with it.  He's always been a punctual person, he's always preferred to repeat positive experiences ad infinitum and change that he doesn't initiate makes him uneasy.  We have had friendly discussions about when does what he calls a tradition become what I call a rut.   Ways I have handled this include:  1.  we take turns planning a vacation or weekend getaway.  He typically goes with his "usual", and I am able to enjoy it because it makes him so content, and I know there are other adventures up ahead.  2.  When it is my turn I basically just let him know what we'll be doing, and don't ask him to take on any of the tasks.  He enjoys this because he feels he's being given a treat or taken care of.  3.  My ADHD guy is a very generous person, so if I make it very clear, in a friendly not nagging way, that trying something new is important to me, he does listen.  However, I can't just say "I'd like to go somewhere new next time".  I think that sounds either like whining or a criticism to him.  I have to know what it is specifically I want to do, and make most of the plans for the first several times we do a new activity, until he gets comfortable and feels like it is predictable again.  4.  My guy has a tendency to oppositionality, i.e., to object first and think about it later (or not!).  Driving, I might say, let's stop at X in the next town.  Him:  Nah, they're probably closed (or too busy, or too expensive, or it's not actually in that town, etc.etc.) without ever really taking the time to decide if it is something he might like.  The unknowns just make him immediately say NO.  Me:  Well, I'd like to give it a try.  Him:  I don't know.  Me:  Let's just see how it goes.  Him:  hmmm.  Getting closer now.  Me:  I'm so excited to finally be going to X.  But what if they're closed?  Him:  (oppositionality again) Nah, they're probably open.  Me:  Let's stop and check, okay?  Him:  Well, yeah, I thought we already decided that.       I hope this doesn't come off as manipulation.  It's more learned behavior on my part after 36 years as to how he gets uneasy when I seem (to him) to "pop up" with ideas.  He actually seems more frequently "spontaneous" than I do, but they are typically things he has been thinking about for a long time, gotten comfortable with, but never shared, so when they "pop up" they seem "spontaneous" to me, but he has been working on them internally for a long time.  Anyway.  A little friendly persistence and reframing and a little time for him to adjust and not feel like he will get in a situation he wants to avoid have been very helpful.  Because in his heart, he does want to do things that please me and make me happy, if he can find a way to deal with his (usually unacknowledged) anxiety about messing up.  Long ramble, but I hope this makes sense.

Excellent advice Gardener :)

This all sounds very similar to me somehow... The vacation planning is difficult for me because I never used to Have a Plan. The latest trips have been much better because if my DF gives me an idea, then I can go all "Hyper-focus" on the plan, then I'm the one who knows how to keep everything on schedule. It really helps knowing that the things I'm planning are things that she wants to do/see, relieving me of the Activity Anxieties.

Your comment "It's more learned behavior on my part after 36 years as to how he gets uneasy when I seem (to him) to "pop up" with ideas.  He actually seems more frequently "spontaneous" than I do, but they are typically things he has been thinking about for a long time, gotten comfortable with, but never shared, so when they "pop up" they seem "spontaneous" to me, but he has been working on them internally for a long time." This is knowledge that I wish I could give the people around me. Example: It LOOKS like I went to the dealership for a battery, then "Spontaneously" came home in a new car. I KNOW how it looks to people because the one statement is all they see. (Black/White) Needs a Battery, Buys a Car. I see the looks from people after my DW tells them and I don't have a "One Minute Summary" to make my decision not sound impulsive. I had been thinking for months about gas, maintenance, warranty running out and these things Always occur at the worst moment possible, then I have to deal with explaining the costs associated and the subsequent anger over the timing. I also don't bring up things during my evaluation process until I can explain with details why something is a good idea. I do this whether it is my car or her car or something for the house. Of course the decision is not finalized unless she agrees with my logic :) So I will say some of my seemingly spontaneous moves really are not, but can have a "Trigger" which starts the process in motion, like when I went to the dealer for a battery. Does my ramble make sense? Your comment triggered it today :) By the way, I have perfected my process of buying a car. I go to a dealership and make them play MY Games, as their games are so sad and transparent...

How Long will this last's picture

Great information

Thanks all for shedding more and more light on how he thinks.  Funny story about a new car... I started early this year dropping hints about wanting a new car. My car was 11 years old and very small.  I was tired of falling in and pulling myself out. (Two bad knees at this point). Long story short, after about 10 months of hinting, then discussing, then him coming up with the idea to go test drive I finally was able to get that new car.  (Several fights in the middle because he would say let's do it, then change his mind). But in the end it finally happened. I'm guessing by YYZ's comments is that he had to think about this and mull it over for that length of time before he was comfortable with the change.

On another note, since I found this site, and started reading Melissa's book I have felt so much better, and better equipped at how to handle my DH when he is obviously looking for stimulation by picking a fight.  I have adverted several arguments by not reacting the way I used to. Last night he asked me what was wrong.  I said why do you ask that.  He said you have been acting like you just don't care about anything. (See how not fighting with him is perceived). I actually have felt great and felt happy - but he sees it as not caring.  Why when we fight he tells me he can't stand all the fighting (that he starts), but when I make a decision to not fight back he accuses me of not caring. Really?

not caring and fighting

I suggest you have a conversation with your partner to make sure he understands that not fighting is a sign of just how much you really do care - that you're delighted that he's noticed the change, and that you hope that now the two of you can start to create new, more constructive ways to interact around your differences.  You can reassure him of how much you love him, but that you felt that fighting was only tearing the two of you apart - "connecting" you in just the wrong ways.  You propose that rather than connect over negatives and disputes the two of you spend that energy connecting around positives and loving actions.  It may take him a while to digest this idea and see its benefits if his habit is to engage through fighting.  But hold your ground!

Just two different styles

Too funny.  Needs a battery, buys a car.  LOL.

Over the years, I have been able to talk to my guy about our different "styles" of decision making.  We now both understand that i like to "think out loud", try things on, sleep on it, before deciding, but I do it out loud.  He does all the same things, but internally.  I have learned to look for hints that he's got a "work in progress" and draw him out about it, while reassuring him that i won't hold him to whatever he says.  But reinforcing that some of these decisions really ought to be joint decisions and it is helpful to me if he doesn't get too far down the road without my input.  I also have to reassure him when I'm thinking out loud that I'm just trying out or testing ideas.  He still thinks this is goofy, but he tolerates it.  I just have to be prepared for him to  always play the devil's advocate, rather than admitting he might agree with me.  YYZ, you say This is knowledge that I wish I could give the people around me.  Go ahead.  Next time you and your wife are having a conversation that involves a decision, you might just say "I've noticed that I tend to think about things over a long period of time, but not let you know I'm doing that.  It might look to you like I don't think things through.  Have you ever noticed that?"  See where that goes.


Explaining my thought process

I definitely explain my thought process to my DW and I would not make a big decision, like a new car, without us agreeing about it. I just get tired of explaining the whole story to others who just assume I was impulsive and have no idea how much thought went into something like buying a car. My DW is Very aware of how much I think about things :) 


Yeah, I have known "others" like that.  They tell me TMI about every little thing they're doing, and assume I'm doing the same.  "You're going where when? Gasp!"


I like yyz's comments and think he may have hit the nail right on the head - hyperorganization in order to keep chaos at bay.  Also, be aware that Attention Deficit Disorder is misnamed - it should really be called Attention Dysregulation Disorder as people with ADD are inconsistent with their attention - sometimes very focused and other times, lacking focus.

summerwine's picture

Music helps me to concentrate

Music helps me to concentrate and work for sure. It's like it gives the chattering part of my brain something to listen to so that the rest of me can get stuff done. And i like to put on really peppy and fast music when I am cleaning it gives me energy and keep my mood happy. I never understood why people turn the volume down when they are driving and looking for an address, I need to turn it up!