I feel silly posting this, as I am a mental health counselor. I feel like I should know a resource.
My DH has AD/HD, I have AD/HD, and our two kids (middle and high school) have AD/HD. Sometimes I think we're amazing for coping as well as we do, sometimes I am overwhelmed with sadness and grief. There's history there - ending about four years ago, my husband lied to me about something for a few years. Long story, but that's when I think things took a nose dive in our now 20 year marriage. Because of how it played out, I thought he was having an affair and it hurt a heck of a lot emotionally. I also found out there had been some other lying, also for years, also about stuff that had he shared would not have been a big deal to me. (But may have been to others - I try to be understanding and give room for people to be themselves. And he should have known that.) Things went from us coping together with our sometimes chaotic lives to me feeling betrayed, hurt, and alone. It hasn't really gotten better. I've read it all - I have a several shelves full of books for therapists and for regular folks on AD/HD. I've read Melissa's book (made me cry a lot). Counseling was tried, but my DH managed to never remember to reschedule after the therapist said an important, poignant thing to him that I'd also said. (A message I don't think he wanted to hear, or was ready to hear.) He didn't want true couples counseling - I think he felt weird enough the 1-2 sessions I came to his counseling with him. Like any good counselor, I've done it myself several times. (And yes, I think I could use another bout of it.)
I feel like I'm on the hook. I do a lot to help my daughter and son manage. I am in charge of managing myself. And my husband...well, he does OK sometimes, when compared to other stories on this forum. Other times, like today, I think he's a total jerk. I used to cope with the inevitable irregularities of living with someone with AD/HD by saying to myself "but he will never lie to me." (In a way that actually mattered - not counting "Sure, I'll take out the trash," and then forgetting.) His honesty was one of the biggest reasons I married him. I want to forgive, I really do. But it seems like we're stuck in an endless cycle of anger and frustration, and we can't get out.
If I could change ONE thing that I think would help our marriage, it would be to wave a magic wand and give him the skill to really listen and empathize. I want to feel like he hears my pain - really hears it. If he does manage to get my point, he tries to problem solve. If he manages to stop that, it's lots of quibbling about details. If he stops that (once in a blue moon), somehow it ends up being an argument anyway. I just want to be heard. IT doesn't help that often I feel pretty much ignored, like he doesn't think to want to spend time with me. I think when he says he doesn't intend to ignore me he does actually mean it. But it's hard to feel important even if you understand why you're being treated like you're not. (Videogames are stimulating and not emotionally confusing.) And lately, since he feels like I'm always picking on him, well, we all know where that goes in terms of being paid attention to.
I have taught our daughter how to listen responsively/reflectively. I'm teaching our son, who it doesn't come as naturally to. I can't teach my husband. For one thing, I'm in a different role with our kids, so teaching makes sense. Don't get me wrong - I get emotional and impulsive and make bad decisions - like lecturing on listening skills to my DH. (Hey, I don't always manage my AD/HD perfectly, even though it's really important to me to try my hardest.)
There are some things I wish I could get my DH to read, but they're all too long for him to finish or digest. My DH is brilliant, but he's also overwhelmed and lost about this emotional stuff. He manages to listen well to things other than "I'm hurt because" a reasonable proportion of time if I work hard to grab his attention. I keep thinking of writing a concise article on "Listening Skills for the AD/HD spouse," but then geesh, the poor man would definitely feel attacked! It's bad enough already in the imbalance of power on the "knowing stuff" department. I don't want to shove that in his face - that wouldn't help things at all. And yes, it would be better if he would find this himself. It's far from ideal for me to give him something and ask him to read it. But I do want our marriage to work, so I've got to do something to move us forward.
Anyone have a good resource? Short and concise is good. Something on the order of "5 simple steps to truly listen to your loved one" would be awesome.
Here are a few
Submitted by PoisonIvy on
Here are a few links: