Time Cover Story Misses ADHD Cohort

The August 8th cover story of Time Magazine was entitled "Chore Wars" with the subhead "Let it go.  Make peace.  Men and women, it turns out, work the same amount."  But like divorce statistics that are much more illuminating when parsed by cohort (ex: couples who married young are more likely to divorce than those with college degrees who married later) so, too, are chore war statistics.

The article touches on the idea of "cohorts" a little bit with a mention of college-educated mothers being able to scale back at work to get somewhat more "time" at home (vs. another cohort of shift workers who can't) but it misses a huge cohort of adults for whom the chore wars are still all too real – adults with ADHD and their spouses.  As most of you know, in these marriages, the symptoms of adult ADHD – disorganization, distraction, inability to plan and follow through – place a very real burden on the non-ADHD partner who feels forced to take responsibility for those things left undone by his or her partner. Chore Wars in couples affected by ADHD are very real and play a huge role in the marital dysfunction rates for these couples (58%).   Since the ratio of men with ADHD to women with ADHD is about 2:1, there is still a gender component at work for these couples, as well.  With the omission of this cohort from their story, millions of TIME readers will find the research described simply doesn’t apply to them, but won’t understand why.


work vs. home

One of the challenges I face is that my ADD partner often keeps tidy and organized spaces at work. In one regard, I am very proud of him for maintaining this, because it has a positive impact on his work. On the other hand, I get jealous and upset when I don't feel like he exhibits the same level of care at home.  

catching up the chores

My husband and I are participating in the couple's phone seminar that started last night, and I am so looking forward to the new tools we will learn.  Here's where I need help, and it might be coming the the later sessions of the course.  My husband is one who makes piles and messes everywhere, and he doesn't even notice them once they happen.  As the years have passed, I've ultimately given up and given in - I don't want to cause a fight.  The messes cause a great deal of frustration for me, making me not really even feel comfortable being at home.  I think that we eventually will try to confine the piles and messes to one area where he can spread out, but how do we get caught up?  Thinking about cleaning and organizing is incredibly overwhelming to my husband, and I find it upsetting to think about tackling this myself.  Help!

How to catch up with disorganization

If you already have a room in mind for him (or the basement or whatever) then do a very broad sort with the assistance of hired help.  In two to three hours you should be able to sort your backlog into "mine" and "his".  With the help of the person you hire, put the "his" stuff into the new location in a reasonably neat fashion (perhaps fill the room with shelves???) and then close the door.  Then you only have your own stuff to put away.  That's both easier and more rewarding.

To eliminate future messes from accumulating, have special "his" areas around your house.  An example - at our entryway we have a shelf with large baskets on it.  Everyone has their own basket.  If the mess piles up on the kitchen counters, I simply put the stuff in the right basket.  Doesn't take long, and it clears the counter.  (If his basket overfills, take it to his room and "drop it off" (dump it!) there.)

Anytime he can't locate something of his he'll actually know where to find it - which will also save you many conversations around "where did I put...?"

It may sound draconian, but my experience is that it works really well.  (My husband's areas are:  a large office which is incredibly overrun with stuff, one end of the kitchen counter, part of the shelf by the door, the ENTIRE basement, his closet and bath areas, his side table next to the bed, the mud room.  My areas are:  my office, the kitchen, part of the shelf by the door, my closet and bath areas, my side table.)  The "joint" areas of the house are maintained by me (and house cleaners who come once a week) because a.)I'm here more and b.) I care about it more and c.) I do it better.

The bottom line is this - if you are physically uncomfortable being in your environment then that just causes more resentment in you.  Time to take care of it.

He resents my cleaning

I don't mind doing all the cleaning and household chores. I really don't. I feel uneasy when my environment is messy, and accept that it is my quirk, my problem to deal with. I have a pretty basket I use to put his lost tools. He has 6 drawers to my 3 in the bedroom. A garage I don't invade and a junk drawer in the kitchen. The problem is that my neatness and wanting to get up at a reasonable hour in the morning (8am) bother him. It usually comes out when he is frustrated. I change my habits to accommodate, but then that doesn't seem to make him happy either. I withdraw because his comments were unkind. He then wants to talk about it because he notices the change in my routine. He doesn't see how his comments were unkind and said first. He just then views my reaction as rejection. I guess they are a little. But I don't know what to do with his comments. What is wrong with cleaning? What is wrong with getting up and quietly going about my day and letting him sleep? If I wake him, I am wrong. If I let him sleep I am wrong. If I clean I am wrong. If I let things slide I am wrong. Rules change without informing me they changed. I will act based on a conversation. He forgets what was discussed, and I am wrong. I have no desire to be a spoiled brat getting my way. I know this life isn't all about me. I think he really dosent know what he is doing and changes or actually lies about what he really thinks or feels in a misguided attempt to make me happy. But without honest clear conversation, how can we solve anything?