Request vs. Demand

I just posted in a different thread and ended with the following: 

"I'm not sure why my wife and others seem to think that if I ask it, I am *demanding* it be met *right away* or even *at all.*  That is quite an assumption on her part."

Would somebody please explain to me why what I think is a "request" to do or not do something, which my wife is then free to consider, and choose as an independent free-thinking adult, whether to do or not, is "heard" as a "demand" to do something immediately?  This seems to be an ongoing miscommunication in our household and the source of much strife!

Is it that she does not feel like she has a right to say no?

Is it that she thinks if I request it I must really, really, really want her to do it or I wouldn't request it in the first place?

Is it something in the way I make the request that makes it sound as if I am going to be upset, angry or whatever if she doesn't do it?

Is it a combination of all these things?

I suppose I should just ask her.  But I find that it is hard for me to get an answer from her on something like this.  I think it is just a simple question, and I expect she is likely to read all kinds of things into it and get defensive, etc.

So I am wondering if anyone has a sense of what might be going on and how I might address it.

I must admit I am a rather direct person.  First, I am from New York.  Second, I have learned over time to clearly say what I mean, else risk being misunderstood.  And so maybe my directness is interpreted as being demanding?  But I really expect that my wife, and others, always have a perfect right to say no to whatever I ask.  It doesn't mean that if they say no I won't be disappointed, but they definitely have that right.

Miss Behaven's picture

The difference



Request: Something you are asked to do, that is not urgent and is optional, it can be done (or not done) at your convenience. Not doing so will result in mild disappointment.


Requirement: Something that you are asked to, that is semi-urgent and is not optional, it must be done within a reasonable time frame. Not doing so will result in disappointment and possibly a guilty conscience and possibly having to have a “talk”


Demand: Something you are told to do, or asked to do in such a manner that you know you are really being told and not asked. This must be done and done immediately; not doing so will result in conflict and/or punishment.


Miss Behaven's picture

Thought I'd clarify.



Hubby: Honey will you please help me find my shoes?

Myself: Sorry but I am busy with the boys right now.

Hubby: Rats, okay thanks anyways.





Hubby: Honey I really need you help finding my shoes. We can’t leave until we find them and I’ve looked everywhere!

Myself: Okay I will finish what I’m doing here and be down in a minute to help you.

Hubby: Thanks!

Myself: Sorry hun, I just found out that the boys have gum in their hair. I can’t help you.

Hubby: Dang it! We are going to sit down and find a new way to store shoes!





Hubby: Come down and help me find my shoes!

Myself: Sorry but I am busy with the boys right now.

Hubby: No, I need your help.

Myself: Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.

Hubby: Did you hear me? I need help right now.

Myself: Sorry hun, I just found out that the boys have gum in their hair. I can’t help you.

Hubby: What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you do what I’m asking you? I need my shoes!

Myself: Don’t yell at me!

Hubby: That’s it, no more gum for the boys and you’re rearranging the stuff by the front door so I can keep my shoes there!


Miss Behaven's picture

it could be that she just doesn't see the difference


As to why your wife takes things a certain way ... well it could be that she just doesn't see the difference. Or that she feels the result of not doing a request will be the same as not meeting a demand.


It sounds more and more to me like your wife has had a lot of sadness, self esteem issues and possibly abuse in her life. ADD children are often emotionally and mentally abused. It may not even be deliberate on the parents, teachers and other children’s fault. They just simply react as if the child is strange, stupid, slow, lazy, ignorant, arrogant, a bad sheep etc  and thus the ADD child who cannot control his or her ADD being an undiagnosed CHILD suffers as though they are being deliberately abused.


This is what its like to have ADD:

The most careful studies suggest that between 10-30 percent of children with AD/HD, and 47 percent of adults with AD/HD, also have depression. Typically, AD/HD occurs first and depression occurs later.

(Having ADD sucks so bad it causes depression)

Environmentally, as children with AD/HD get older, they may feel left out. Too often they are forgotten on birthday party lists, playdates, and sleepovers. These children may not be invited to play at other children's homes because of past difficulties with accidents or may not be chosen to be on sports teams or to participate in games. This takes a heavy toll on the child's self-esteem. As these episodes pile up, the child with AD/HD can become discouraged and about one in four may become clinically depressed. While all children have bad days where they feel down, depressed children may be down or irritable most days. Children with AD/HD and depression may also withdraw from others, stop doing things they once enjoyed, have trouble sleeping or sleep the day away, lose their appetite, criticize themselves excessively ("I never do anything right!"), and talk about dying ("I wish I were dead"). Fortunately, AD/HD by itself is not associated with increased risk of suicidal behavior. Current studies suggest that both AD/HD and depression may share a common underlying genetic link, since families with AD/HD also seem to have more members with depression than would be expected by chance.

Up to 30 percent of children and 25-40 percnt of adults with AD/HD will also have an anxiety disorder.

(Having ADD sucks so bad it also causes anxiety. It is common to have both anxiety and depression as a result of your ADD)

Anxiety disorders are often not apparent, and research has shown that half of the children who describe prominent anxiety symptoms are not described by their parents as anxious. As with depression, the child's internal feelings may not stand out to parents or teachers. Patients with anxiety disorders often worry excessively about a number of things (school, work, etc.), and may feel edgy, stressed out or tired, tense, and have trouble getting restful sleep. A small number of patients may report brief episodes of severe anxiety (panic attacks), which intensify over about 10 minutes with complaints of pounding heart, sweating, shaking, choking, difficulty breathing, nausea or stomach pain, dizziness, and fears of going crazy or dying. These episodes may occur for no reason, and sometimes awaken patients.

Individuals with AD/HD frequently have difficulty learning in school. Depending on how learning disorders are defined, up to 50 percent of children with AD/HD have a co-existing learning disorder. Individuals with learning disabilities may have a specific problem reading or calculating, but they are not less intelligent than their peers are. Research indicates that students with both AD/HD and reading disorder (dyslexia) are no more anxious, hyperactive, or aggressive than student with AD/HD only. However, the learning disorder does impact school performance, which may subsequently impact family and peer relationships.

Finally, it should be noted that many adults with AD/HD feel deeply frustrated and embarrassed by the ongoing problems caused by their AD/HD.


A few highlights from this fact sheet about Women and ADD:


Women with ADHD often experience dysphoria (unpleasant mood), major depression and anxiety disorders, with rates of depressive and anxiety disorders similar to those in men with ADHD. However, women with ADHD appear to experience more psychological distress and have lower self-image than men with ADHD

Compared to women without ADHD, women diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood are more likely to have depressive symptoms, are more stressed and anxious, have more external locus of control (tendency to attribute success and difficulties to external factors such as chance), have lower self-esteem, and are engaged more in coping strategies that are emotion-oriented (use self-protective measures to reduce stress) than task-oriented (take action to solve problems)

However, stress levels may be higher for women than men because they bear more responsibility for home and children. In addition, recent research suggests that husbands of women with ADHD are less tolerant of their spouse's ADHD patterns than wives of men with ADHD. Chronic stress takes its toll on women with ADHD, affecting them both physically and psychologically. Women who suffer chronic stress like that associated with ADHD are more at risk for diseases related to chronic stress such as fibromyalgia

Social problems for females with ADHD develop early and appear to increase with age. Women with ADHD have greater self-esteem problems than men with ADHD, and

*******often feel shame when comparing themselves to women without ADHD*******

Because many women with ADHD feel shame and rejection, psychotherapy groups specifically designed for women with ADHD may provide a therapeutic experience -- a place where they can feel understood and accepted by other women and a safe place to begin their journey toward accepting themselves more and learning to better manage their lives.


And highlights from this fact sheet


Over time, children with AD/HD may become frustrated and demoralized because of  their symptoms. They may develop feelings of a lack of control over what happens in their environment or become depressed as they experience repeated failures or negative interactions in school, at home, and in other settings. As these negative experiences accumulate, the child with AD/HD may begin to feel discouraged. Typically, in these situations AD/HD symptoms appear first and the depression comes later. These negative reactions are common in individuals with AD/HD and some experts claim that up to 70 percent of those with AD/HD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives.

In addition to being saddened or demoralized as a result of AD/HD, children may also experience a true depressive illness. To date, studies indicate that between 10-30 percent of children with AD/HD may have a separate serious mood disorder like major depression.


The short version: How can someone wrapped up in self hate, depression, anxiety, and dealing with years of being treated like a black sheep, who has heard so much criticism in her life that she thinks only in criticisms tell the difference between a request and a demand?


 Its understandable and reasonable to want the things you say you want and need from your wife. But she needs therapy and treatment before she can give them to you.