A refreshing change

My ADHD husband goes away for a few weeks every autumn for some R&R, visiting his friends, chill-out time etc. It is virtually the only time I get to stay home alone and I relish the fact that I can adopt a regular routine and live calmly. For the last few years, hubby has returned in a worse state mentally than before he left. The friend he stays with gets on his nerves more and more, he struggles with making his own travel arrangements (has even booked a plane for 7am instead of 7pm without noticing), often forgets to do things or bring things back even though I have written it all down in advance for him and he is exhausted by the frequent visits, long journeys etc. Since learning about ADHD 2.5 years ago, I now anticipate all of this and no longer have any expectation that he will return in good humour.

So imagine my surprise (and delight) that this year has been a bit different.Yes, he was physically exhausted. And he was stressed by having to to deal with various authorities regarding his parents' health conditions. BUT he has been much more helpful since his return. No outbursts of temper. Co-operative with daily chores (normally unheard of). He has actually said that he probably won't make the same sort of trip next year and will instead try to take more frequent shorter trips throughout the year (something I have often suggested and he has always completely rejected). He was genuinely appreciative of my involvement in resolving his parents situation. We have had a few "real" conversations (only short, but that is a start). He has been tender and I got glimpses of the man I met 30 years ago. This weekend, he asked if things had been "better" since his return (it is very rare for him to instigate a conversation regarding our relationship). I said yes and asked what had happened. He just shrugged and said that maybe we both had to work on making it good. And that we both needed to recognise when it goes wrong again which it inevitably will, and pull it back.

I have no idea what has led to this new perspective, but can make a few educated guesses. First, I have not mentioned that I think he has ADHD or any other "problem" for a long time now. I only refer to specific behavioural traits which upset/anger me such as his procrastination, mood changes, insensitive comments, poor punctuality, etc. I suspect he has seen many of these same behaviours in his friends and family members during his holiday. After all, it is always so much easier to see your own faults in other people.  Secondly, all of his close friends have diagnosed mental health problems. I suspect that they can see the similarities between them and are less tactful at pointing out his flaws, so that he realises it is not just me that finds him difficult to live with.

It would be naiive for me to think that we have turned the corner and will now make consistent progress towards a more satisfying marriage. But there are so few positive stories on this forum that I just wanted to share this little nugget.