Superwoman or Enabler?

Hi-so glad to have found this forum.  I have ordered the book as well.

I have been married to a kind, gentle man for 14 years.  He struggles with severe dyslexia and ADD (no hyperactivity).  This is undiagnosed.  However, we have four children.   Three of them have dyslexia and one of them has ADHD as well (possibly two).  The other is a baby so we don't know about her yet.  I homeschool them due to the lack of resources in our public schools for dyslexia (I am a teacher by trade).  I work full time from home in online education.  I'm nursing a baby.  I'm active in my community as well.  My husband owns his own business and he does well.  However, organizationally, it is a nightmare.  I think it only stays afloat because people like him so much.  I handle all the accounting, billing, organization, etc. for his business.  I feel overwhelmed most of the time by all my responsibilities.  He is in denial about his issues (couldn't even talk about our daughter's dyslexia for a while--I went through all of that with the schools and getting her diagnosed for special ed services by myself--ended up with the shingles, but I digress).  After our children were diagnosed, he has just started to admit to the dyslexia.  He doesn't even check his own email.  He cannot log in to his business bank account.  I met with his accountant for the business taxes.  I stay up late at night after they've all gone to bed and do my job, his billing, prepare our children's lessons for the next day.  I'm angry.  Everyone thinks I'm superwoman.  My New Year's Resolution was to stop doing anything for his business.  I set him up on new software (that I researched, loaded and transferred data by myself) and showed him how to use it so he could share in the responsibility.  It is super easy (I found the easiest method for those that are not computer minded).  We went two months without billing and got into a money crunch where we couldn't pay bills because he had not entered anything.  I finally had to just clean it up and do it myself.  This has happened twice.  We've thought about hiring someone, but I honestly don't think anyone could work for him.  I find pieces of paper with client numbers everywhere.  I have no coffee cups because he leaves them all in his vehicle.  No help with homework.  No help with paying bills.  I feel like I have to stay SO on top of everything or the ship will sink.  Have I become an enabler?  If I stop, we could get into financial issues again--by the way, he had plenty of business--he just hadn't billed them....I find myself vassilating between feeling sorry for him because it truly is such a disability.  He cannot spell even the simplest of words.  Texting is a nightmare.  He won't even order anything online because he has to type words.  He is in denial about his issues and often has excuses for things...For instance, say he forgot to call on a customer....they cancel service.  And instead of thinking "I've got to get more organized" he says, "they were a pain to deal with anyway."  Our last two employees have quit because he simply does not manage them.  So now, our newest hire is going to be dealing directly with me because I don't want to get into another situation where they aren't even pulling their weight because he is not managing them as he should.  That being said, my husband works hard. He runs around like a maniac all day trying to get to all his accounts.  It just takes him so long to get things done.  However, he helps with the kids.  He changes diapers.  He cooks most of our meals.  And he cleans.  But he can't even take the kids to activities in his truck because when you open the door, stuff falls out.  I'm rambling...But I think we need counseling.  I'm starting to almost lose respect for him.  I mean, good grief, he asks me to send emails for him.  I'm just so tired.  

He also isn't very affectionate.  He told me this morning he was going to start doing better and acknowledging all I do for our family.  He hugged me and told me he appreciated me.  But this is after years of practically begging for my "gold star."  Or a birthday gift with some thought behind it and not last minute.  Or just some token of affection at all.  The thing is, I know he loves me dearly.  He is just so darn distracted all the time.  

Lately, I've noticed he seems almost depressed.  He just seems tired.  Lack of interest in things he used to love to do (like cooking).  

He says when I nag (and I nag a lot)  that he is a good husband and he is always with his family (not out cheating and whatnot).  And he is.  But I tell him all the time--It's like you are here, but you aren't HERE.  He is this avid outdoorsman but he has never done any of that with his own children. I'm begging him to go and be engaged in an activity with them not someone just in the background. Gosh, the more I write this, the more I realize how bad it has gotten.....

Help!  I need a life preserver!

It all sounds like a

It all sounds like a nightmare! But why on earth did you have four children with a man like that?!! Completely impossible to understand!!

I can relate

Although I cannot offer any advice.... I just wanted to say I can relate..... My husband had a pool business before he went back to school, and it was exactly what you describe!  right down to the receipts, coffee cups and trash falling out of the truck when you open the doors!  We do not have this business anymore, and I wouldn't ever ever ever try something like this again w him.  And you do so much more on top of our life, I cant imagine..... all I can think of is letting some things go for others to help with? Some other resources for your husband/kids?  I mean maybe even a disability/job councilor to make this work or find something better even?

Tracy- you are not alone. I

Tracy- you are not alone. I do the exact same thing right down to getting shingles!!- except I have 2 kids and they go to public school. But I work 2 jobs outside the home, manage his business, send his emails. I am told I am superwoman too. I can empathize with you, I hope he can seek treatment. 

Superwoman and Enabler are

Superwoman and Enabler are not mutually exclusive.  Congratulations on still being able to function.  It’s incredible what you manage to accomplish every day.  I think Melissa’s book will be very helpful, and I recommend Gina Pera’s ADHD Roller Coaster as well for a more in depth treatment.  Melissa’s is good for strategies, although it works better if the spouse is on board.  And unfortunately your spouse will not be reading the material.  This does not mean he can’t change, because he can if he deems it necessary.

What took me a year in therapy, albeit not weekly, to realize is that I can not fix it.  I can not make my husband change his behavior.  All I can do is learn as much as I can, be empathetic, mitigate the symptoms, encourage change and change my own behavior to the extent that I need to.  I went into therapy with the goal of how I could get my husband to do what he needed to do in order to manage his ADD so finding out that I can not control it was huge for me.  I tend to fix things too.  Identify, strategize and implement.  Assess, and try again. 

That does not work for the ADHD brain.  Most are not self starters.  They are reactors.  They can be great in a crisis because that’s when life is most stimulating.  And unfortunately sheer will can not change the brain.  Trying harder will not do it.  The path and behavior must change.

So what can you do?  First of all, realize that his behaviors are symptoms and are not personal.  Do not try to rationalize with the symptoms because they are not rational.  I would suggest that you schedule a meeting with him, during a time when his mood is best managed so he can be receptive, and you can be calm.  Go over with him how this is not sustainable, that you recognize that there are things that you can work on (such as how you react to his symptoms, most of us don’t react well all the time), but that you really need for him to help you too.

It’s really important for this to not demonize the deficits.  There are positive sides to ADD too that easily get overshadowed by the negative symptoms.  He needs to know that there is hope.  It sounds like he might benefit from medications too, so coming to the meeting prepared with the names of adhd doctors and an adhd trained counselor could be helpful.  This last bit is technically enabling but the books admit that its ok to get things started.  And marriage counseling with someone who understands ADHD would probably be beneficial too.  Counseling/coaching in addition to meds can be very important because the meds only help with focus, but they don’t find that new path or ways of doing things.  Also it can take a really long time to find the right dosage and combination of meds.  Remember it took a long time to develop bad habits and it can take a really long time to develop good habits.

In the meantime, hire someone to do the data stuff for the job if you think you can manage that person, presumably part time personal assistant type thing.  I like the idea of him taking the kids outdoors, perhaps you can enable that by scheduling something.  Take care of yourself.  Try to remember why you like him.  Try to do some fun things together

I'm So Exhausted's picture

So many ladies -yet the exact same script

Hello traceyadams. You have found a unique sisterhood here.  The ladies who don't want to give up. Maybe you will find something helpful by reading our stories.  Hopefully you will find you are not alone, and it is not just you.  That is the life preserver I have to offer!

My husband's reputation was the gentle giant.  The nicest plumber his senior-citizen customers knew.  Kind.  Helpful.  My family thought he was always the man who brought fun to the parties. Fun.  And lots of paraphernalia to clean up and haul home.  After everyone else left, because he would wave off any offers of help to clean up.   

My first attempt at getting out from under the disorganized business was to plop all the book-work on his desk and say, "I quit."  Then, we got a tax lein.  Then I jumped back in to fix it.  I rationalized - my name was on that lein too.  

He doesn't check his e-mail.  He doesn't know how to access our online banking.  He is hap-hazard at returning phone calls.  He is late - close to every day.  Each morning he calls his first customer - if he remembers he had a first job - and says, "Hey, it's the plumber.  Sorry I am running late today."   I got an answering machine years ago, because his customers would call to find out where he was, and then dump all their frustration out on me.  Then, when he finally arrived at the job, he was so charming, they would fawn all over him and give him coffee and pie.  Oiy.

I stayed up till 3 am finishing up all the paper-work and laundry I couldn't get done amidst the daily chaos.  I would go to bed, set the alarm for 8 hours later, and then get up to start all over again.  The sad part - he acknowledged no credence to all the work I did till the wee hours of the morning.  He only chided me for sleeping in - EVERY MORNING.  Oiy. Oiy. 

I pussy-footed around for years, trying to pacify, keep-the peace, bend, yield, keep him happy.  2 years ago I said, "No more."  I will not be controlled by your anger.  He is still angry.  Oiy. Oiy. Oiy.

I feel extremely guilty.  I am the one who changed the dynamics.  I never ever thought it would be more than 2 years later, and I still have  a super angry spouse.  And add to that, he gets ANGRIER that I do not feel like being intimate with him.  I am not attracted.  He calls it punishing.  

He finally, finally got himself a coach.  the jury is still out on how that will work.  He has only had his first telecon with her.  That same day, he lost his wallet - yet again.  

I find my sanity by reading posts here,  by understanding I am not alone.




thank you

Thank you all for your posts.  I called a counselor yesterday and set us up an appointment for some marriage counseling.  I hit a wall yesterday.  He scheduled the auditor for his insurance to come and meet with me/get reports and did not tell me.  She showed up and I was in the middle of a host of other activities for my kids.  He's not happy; not really talking much but it is time to do something about this.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

I understand that frustration

I understand.  So well.  Being self-employed, and running the business from our home, my spouse continually invites sales reps or customers in our home.  Sometimes my spouse's hair isn't even washed - or combed! The thing that causes anger in me is the fact that he does not make sure I am OK with having someone come into the house.  Once, I was in the basement, still in my PJs, tossing a load of laundry into the machine, when I hear voices in my kitchen - which I must walk through to get out of the basement.  I was trapped down there for 30 minutes.  Our home office has a door to the outside.  My spouse says there is no where for anyone to sit.  Huh?  When they are in the kitchen, they never sit - they lean against the counters and talk.

These are the sort of episodes that I cannot figure out.  OK, I can say it is the ADHD, and living with a spouse who has ADHD is living with someone who does not do things on purpose - but I gotta say it already, What about me?

I just don't know how I can make boundaries that will be respected?